Vegan Cranberry Relish Mold

Some things require a little practice before the big Thanksgiving Day! This recipe is one such thing. I have good news–and a trick–for vegans and non-vegans alike.

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A few years ago, I received a beautiful ceramic cranberry mold from my friend Karen. It was from Williams Sonoma, and I followed the (non-vegan) recipe that came with it. It’s a tricky recipe, sometimes working for me, sometimes not.

Sometimes it stood up and behaved.
Sometimes is sat down in a blobby, relaxed kind of Buddah position.

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And SOMETIMES, it completely fell apart!

The key ingredient in the Williams Sonoma mold recipe is the unflavored gelatin, which is animal based, not plant based.

Is there a plant-based substitution?

Why yes! I’m so glad you asked! There certainly is. It’s called agar agar.

Or, you can really just call it agar.

Just don’t call it late to dinner! (Har!)

It’s sea plant flakes…essentially. Sounds good, right?
RIGHT??

The problem for me was FINDING agar agar in the store. I bought mine online here. Look for it in your grocery store in the international section, near seaweed and sushi supplies. It will NOT be in the baking section with the unflavored gelatin. You’ll have even better luck in a small health food store or asian market.

The trick is: Agar agar allows jellies to set up EVEN BETTER than traditional unflavored gelatin. So, no more Buddha! Your cranberry mold will stand up straight! No frustration.

Follow this recipe from Williams Sonoma Cranberry Relish Mold, substituting agar agar for the unflavored gelatin in the same amount.

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You will have yourself a vegan masterpiece at Thanksgiving Dinner!

Butternut Squash and Baby Kale Casserole

If you’re looking to add a few vegan dishes to your Thanksgiving menu, here’s one that’s tried and true!

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Butternut Squash and Baby Kale Casserole (Vegan)

(Serves 6)

Ingredients:

One 20 oz. package cubed butternut squash (or one medium squash, peeled and cube)
One bunch (5 oz.) of baby kale, washed and spun dry
One apple, peeled and cubed
One onion, diced
One-half cup soy milk
One tablespoon Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread
Three-quarter teaspoon salt
Cracked pepper to taste

Instructions:

1. Place the cubed squash into boiling water and allow to cook until fork tender, about 20 or 25 minutes.

2. Place the washed and dried kale into a colander in the sink.

3. Heat the Earth Balance spread in a medium-high heated frying pan until melted. Add the diced apple and onion to the melted Earth Balance and cook them until tender, about ten minutes.

4. When the squash is cooked, pour it and the hot water down over the kale in the colander. The kale will wilt and the water will drain off.

5. Use a potato masher to mash the squash and the kale. Lumps are fine!

6. Place this mixture into a large bowl. To the bowl, add the cooked apple and onion, the soy milk, and the salt and pepper.

7. Combine everything well and transfer to a two-quart casserole.

8. Cook the casserole for 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven until brown around the edges.

The French Fries of West Reading PART THREE: Papillon Brasserie

My fun, frolicsome and fair friend, Clare and I advanced dans la rue for our third foray into the french fries of West Reading, this time stopping at Papillon Brasserie at 615 Penn Avenue. Oh, it was no ordinary french fries for us today! It was “pommes frites,” which is French for, “Don’t forget the champagne!”

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We walked in and plunked down our bottle. Listen, it’s BYOB, and we do what we’re told! If it says “Bring Your Own Bottle,” we feel obliged!

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A moment later, Chef arrived table-side to pop the cork and pour the bubbly.

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We do enjoy a champagne lunch!

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Pommes frites!

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One of the things I enjoy about Papillon is that Chef buys his vegetables locally from B&H Organic Produce, Morgantown, Pennsylvania. Asked what kind of potato he uses for his frites, Chef answered he experimented with several varieties, but eventually settled on a certain potato that produces the best result. He and Erica from B&H simply call them the pommes frites potatoes. If there’s a formal name for the variety, he doesn’t know.

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Clare notes, and I agree, the frites are best when they first come out piping hot and crispy! They disappear quickly. (Cooked in peanut oil, they ARE vegan!)

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Chef is always a blur, cooking and tending to us at the same time!

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I asked what special vegetable was on the menu today, and he presented bouillabaisse with fennel on top and around the sides:

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Look at the beautiful little baby fennel topping things off:

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It was a cold, damp day in West Reading, so Clare ordered macaroni and cheese, which is prepared with special French cheeses, I’m sure!

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It’s a good way to spend a lunch hour; I really could not recommend it more highly!

The French Fries of West Reading PART TWO: West Reading Tavern

Today my fun and frolicsome friend Clare and I continued our french fry adventure through West Reading, Pennsylvania.

(As a refresher, please see The French Fries of West Reading PART ONE: Say Cheese!)

By the way, we were delighted to be mentioned in The Reading Eagle newspaper: “A blogger begins a survey of West Reading french fries.”

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We can discuss the restrooms another time ;)

That makes us feel as though we’re official and not just two knuckleheads going around eating french fries all over the place!

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Creamy Mushroom Tagliatelle (Vegan)

Is it just me or have you noticed a lot of tagliatelle on restaurant menus and on blogs lately?

It’s a THING!

(Right?)

For those of you not up on your pasta shapes, tagliatelle pasta pieces are long, flat ribbons similar in shape to fettuccine, maybe a little wider. It can be served with a variety of sauces, though the classic is a meat sauce or Bolognese. I thought a creamy mushroom sauce would work well, so I whipped up the following recipe using no oil and no added fat other than fat from the almond milk. The result was creamy, warm and satisfying!

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The French Fries Of West Reading PART ONE: Say Cheese!

My fun friend Clare and I decided to immerse ourselves in a very important topic.

(We are not ones to sit by and let important topics pass us by without immersion. That’s just how we are!)

What “important topic” am I talking about? Well, I’m talking about french fries, of course!

In America, french fries represent one of the four major food groups: French Fries, Hamburgers, Pizza and Macaroni and Cheese. If you were to build a pyramid out of these food groups, french fries would represent the wide base at the bottom. They are the underpinning of American nutrition. We know this isn’t the BEST thing, but it’s OUR thing. And SO WHAT if we can’t fit in one plane seat!? They made the arm rest between seats to flip up for a REASON. (So we can spread out over TWO seats!) And SO WHAT if there’s a person sitting in that other seat!? (That person needs to eat more french fries and to stop being such a skinny show-off sitting in the middle seat like that! Sheesh.)

In any case, Clare and I set out to uncover the rich variety of french fries that exist in our very own back yard of West Reading, Pennsylvania. By “uncover” I mean to eat (and to photograph):

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No Barking At Other Barking Dogs!

I tell my dogs to stop barking about a thousand times a day. They bark at all different things, but most often they are barking at other barking dogs.

I want them to stop, but they don’t listen to me. I tell them:

Do not bark at the mailman.
Do not bark at the imaginary squirrels.
And especially, do not bark at the other dogs in the neighborhood just because they are also barking.

My dogs are poor listeners.

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