I’m lucky: publishers send me review copies of food related books, and I bless my not-zactly prodigious position in the food writing world that the mailbox serves up a delicious surprise once a month.
A couple of days ago I groaned when I tore open the envelope: I mean The 30-Day Vegan Challenge?” Oh Please. The author, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau is not simply writing a vegan cookbook, she’s challenging us to eliminate all animal based foods from our diets and improve our karma with the animal universe. You can hear my molars grinding from here to Santiago, right?
Let me give you some of her speil:
“By choosing to look at what happens to other animals — human and non-human — on my behalf, for my convenience, I’m saying yes to my values of justice and service to theirs.
By standing up for what I believe in and speaking for those who have no voice [Ed. Note: chickens?] I’m saying yes to my values of justice and service to others.
By choosing to eat life-giving rather than life-taking foods I’m saying yes to my values of peace, kindness, compassion, health and simplicity.”
OK, come get me and drag me to the Hague for crimes against bacon. I mean if I had to, I might be able to give up red meat, but only if I could pig out on fish, eggs and dairy. Between her rants, Patrick-Goudreau inserts recipes, and perhaps a third look edible — they’re in fact the soups and sides I make anyway! The rest of them , all that tofu and tempeh and condescension, make me want to buy shares in a slaughterhouse.
I tried her Chocolate Cake recipe tonight, not because I wanted to spare the life-taking foods of butter and eggs, but because it reminded me of chocolate cakes of my fifties youth. Mothers were still cooking from the Depression/Wartime culinary codices; a recipe didn’t omit butter and eggs because they were “life taking.” They were omitted because you had six mouths to fill and a ration card.
I remember this same Chocolate Cake recipe from my childhood, the vinegar and oil, the sponge cake texture, the way the cake improved over a few days held in a cookie tin. I baked it tonight and it gets the Cheap and Cheerful Seal of Approval. Here’s the recipe, a kind of no-fail wonder that can be mixed up in three minutes with no more equipment than a big kitchen spoon. My advive: bump up the cocoa from 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup; like most vegan dessert recipes, it’s much too sweet.
I added dribbles of a simple icing sugar/milk glaze.
Thinking about the recipe, it would be a super Kid’s First Cake. It doesn’t take a lot of technique and it would be a baking primer about measuring.
(From The 30-Day Vegan Challenge, Ballentine.)
1 1/2 c. unbleached all purpose flour
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 t. vanilla extract
1/2 c. canola oil
1 T. distilled white vinegar
1 c. cold water
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a bundt pan, 9=inch springform pan or muffin tins.
Combine the flour, sugar,salt, baking soda and cocoa powder in a bowl until thoroughly combined, Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and add the vanilla, oil, vinegar and water. Mix until just combined. Pour into the prepared pan and bake in the preheated oven for thirty minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If making cupcakes, check for doneness after 15 minutes”
(The thirty minute timing was dead-on for me. )
If you’re a vegan friend (Er, do I have any?) you might want to check out the book. If you eat “life-taking” food, as I do, I’ve given you the best recipe in the book, and you can serve it up after a roast chicken or meat loaf.