Fur Free Friday

First off, thank you for the kind words regarding my previous post. A four-day weekend and a partner who has been taking awesome care of me is helping immensely. Cookies have helped too!

I participated in my first protest today (!), and I definitely see myself attending more in the near future. As a shy, quiet, and likes-to-hide-in-the-shadows kind of person, this protest dug deep within and had me shouting phrases like “Forty dead animals, one fur coat” while marching proudly in the front of the group. It was quite an afternoon. Portland had a great turnout for Fur Free Friday, an event that takes place in cities all over the country on the lamest (in my opinion) day of the year: Black Friday. It felt awesome to promote something other than obnoxious consumerism and 4 a.m. “early bird” sales. I’ve never been one to shop on Black Friday, but being out amongst those that do while communicating a powerful message was exhilarating. Plus, marching through the streets (police escorted) and holding up traffic is pretty satisfying, so says the evil twin who resides in me…

One last issue: please click here, and encourage the soon-to-come Obama Administration to bring change to the US Department of Agriculture. It only takes a few moments and it will help promote more humane agricultural policies nationwide. Thanks!

Skanky Pumpkin Squares – The Recipe

As promised, here is the recipe for Skanky Pumkpin Squares:

*Just a quick note: The first time I made these, I used all-purpose flour and evaporated cane juice. The second time (for which the recipe below reflects), I used whole wheat pastry flour and unrefined dark brown sugar. Both methods worked nicely, but I am posting the latter because they might be a tad bit healthier.

Makes 9 servings

INGREDIENTS:

2 T ground flax seeds
6 T warm (not hot!) non-dairy milk (I used soy)
1 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup unrefined dark brown sugar
1/2 t pure vanilla extract
1/2 T blackstrap molasses
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (scooped and leveled with a knife)
1 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t fine sea salt
1 t pumpkin pie spice
1/2 t cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg

METHOD:

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the ground flax seeds and soy milk. Set aside (let rest for at least 5 minutes, you want it to get thick and goopy).
3. In a large bowl, or stand mixer bowl, blend together the pumpkin puree, canola oil, and brown sugar.
4. Blend in the flax mixture. Add the vanilla extract and molasses. Blend some more. Scrape down the sides of your bowl if necessary.
5. In another bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
6. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and blend well.
7. Pour the mixture into an 8×8 inch square baking pan (I used metal).
8. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
9. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack.

For the cream cheese frosting:

2 ounces vegan cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 ounces Earth Balance or margarine, softened
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar

1. Using a hand mixer, blend the cream cheese and margarine until smooth and creamy. Add in the vanilla extract and blend some more. Add the powdered sugar a 1/2 cup at a time. Blend on high speed for several minutes, or until the frosting reaches a consistency you like.
2.When your Skanky Pumpkin Squares are cool, spread the frosting over the top and cut into 9 squares (or however many you want). These are awesome with a mug of tea, a glass of milk, or probably even coffee (but I don’t drink coffee so I might be wrong about that). Enjoy!!

As If I Needed More Beans

I have unintentionally been on a protein overload lately and lunch this afternoon was no exception. Portland now has an all vegan taqueria truck called Los Gorditos II and today was the grand opening. Hooray, hooray, hooray! Tim and I are lucky enough to live fairly close to the taco truck, so we walked there to fill our grumbling bellies. The best part? The kind folks preparing and serving the food were giving away free burritos, sodas, tortilla chips, and fun cookies (I think they might have been Mexican tea cakes)!!!!! Despite the large crowd gathering in the lot, we only waited maybe five minutes before our burritos were ready. I opted for the Regular Burrito (simple name, no?): a flour tortilla filled with beans, rice, lettuce, tomato, and avocado. Tim had the Fajita Burrito: a flour tortilla stuffed with grilled veggies, soy curls, beans, rice, onion, and cilantro. The final word? BEST BEANS AND RICE EVER. We pretty much plopped down on the sidewalk, unwrapped the (HUGE) burritos and chewed in happy silence, commenting briefly on the yumminess. We will definitely be heading back to Los Gorditos II for future meals.

Mind the bite marks, but how else will you see the inside?

Now I am off to work out the recipe for the Skanky Pumpkin Squares.

The Skanky Pumpkin

I don’t know what it is about the pumpkin, but it seems to be making its way into kitchens everywhere, mine included. Who can resist the pretty orange color, roasted seeds, and sweet or savory delights the pumpkin so willingly gives us? Not me! This October marked the first time I ever roasted my own pumpkin. I used to walk right past bins of sugar pumpkins at the farmers’ market, but the thought of using canned pumpkin puree for holiday treats this year made me shudder. What did I discover? Roasting pumpkins is easy and fun! Plus, you can make savory (or sweet) snacks from the seeds! The pumpkin might be skanky, but I love it anyways.

Before I moved to Portland, I had a job working at a local wine shop in Pennsylvania… Funny, considering I don’t drink alcohol, but whatever. During the fall months, we always had a crockpot with mulled apple wine for customers to sample. One nice lady commented on how the mulled wine would pair well with pumpkin squares she makes every Thanksgiving. “Pumpkin squares?” I asked. “Oh, I must bring you the recipe! They are so good!” the nice lady replied. And guess what?! She came in the next day with the recipe written down for me! She totally deserved a Customer of the Year award.

The recipe ended up becoming a favorite of mine, but I stopped making them when I went vegan, and then completely forgot about them – until a few weeks ago. I veganized the recipe, but my method of recipe adaptation/creation never involves writing stuff down. I need to work on that. Anyways, once I make them again and write down the changes, I will share the recipe.