28 October 2006

Authentic Faux-Baking, Piano, Tofu Scramble & A Disaster and a Half

I recently faux-baked some apple crisp and it came out wonderful. The fake-coming-from-the-oven-smell was exactly what I needed after almost a year with no oven usage. The very next day I decided to faux-bake again, and this time it was the real deal. I'll get to that in a minute... First a non-food rant: I would like to exclaim how happy I am that we (Ray and I) have an electric piano (aka, not a crappy keyboard with a lot of stupid buttons and sounds, yet not a performance piano). It came at an odd moment, I'd been thinking about playing again recently since I was taught to play at an early age. I really miss it in a weird way. Now, don't think I can really play, I can't. I can just read music (to a point) and play mostly with my right hand... Ray, on the other hand is a musician, a music student, a teacher, and a music-student-teacher. He needs the piano for various reasons (as well as his double basses, electric bass, violin, viola, cello next semester, trumpet, and we have even had an oboe, bassoon and french horn here). I love it. I have mastered "Puff the Magic Dragon", a Danish Folk Song, and "Conjunction Junction" and have moved on to the Real Book vol. 4 (I think), therefore I can now play "Autumn Leaves" and I am sort-of working on "So What" and a few other jazz tunes that I probably shouldn't say I can play. But it is really fun. We had to move Killian's condo and his box (see below) and he is surprisingly very happy about that.

Back to the authentic faux-baking. I have been wanting to try a Grunt for a long time. I've never heard of such a thing and I hear these are confused with cobblers, as well as being popular in the New England area (am I right or wrong?). The obvious reason I have wanted to try this for so long is because it looks like it came out of the oven, but didn't. I searched and searched (for months) to find the ultimate grunt recipe. I think I found one, but of course, my own modifications, so this is My Organic Blueberry Grunt. Check out our desserts below. I served these (3 of us) with soy vanilla ice cream and soy whip on top. It was wonderful and I have made it a few times already.
My Organic Blueberry Grunt Recipe
serves 3 to 4 people
2c frozen or fresh blueberries, organic
1/2c. raw sugar
1/2c. spelt flour
1/4c. stone ground whole wheat flour
1t. baking powder
1/8t. sea salt
1/4t. ground cinnamon
1/8t. nutmeg
1/3c. + 2T. soymilk
Method: In a 2 or 3 quart saucepot, combine berries and half of the sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring often until the berries come to a boil. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine flours, baking powder, sea salt, remaining sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl. Add milk, just to moisten. Drop tablespoon-fulls of batter into the boiling blueberries. You can let them touch each other, they will seperate. Cover with a tight fitting lid and lower heat to med-low. Cook without lifting the lid for 15 minutes. To serve, use a large, flat spoon and lift out "cakes" and serve with ice cream. It is also good alone, but always better with ice cream.
And below is one of my favorite things in the world... I can put simmering blueberries with almost anything.
Here is an up-close, yet kinda crappy shot of the inside of the grunt. See how baked it looks?!
Moving on... I really messed up bigtime here. I attempted to make potato leek soup. Come on people, is there one good recipe on the web? *If you have a good recipe for potato leek soup I would be very happy to have it in my home* There aren't many recipes in my cookbooks and the one I found (I think online) called for fennel, leeks and russet potatoes. I thought it was going to be alright, that is, until I had my first experience with raw fennel. And whole fennel. This veggie freaked me out at first. I should have read the back of Vive le Vegan where it tells all about fennel, how it tastes and what to do with it, but then again, I may not have bought it then. I got 2 bulbs as the recipe called for, opened one, almost puked, and decided to hold off with the fennel, thinking the soup would be alright without it. Boy, was I wrong. This soup pretty much tasted like bland crap and it was way too creamy for me. I attached a copy of the recipe (that I made up based on many) just in case maybe someone can tell me where I went wrong. Or what I should have added or taken out. Or if this is just crap anyway, and I should move on... I actually ended up throwing the cut fennel away because it went bad during the whole week it stared me in the face every time I opened the fridge. I also threw about 2 quarts of crappy soup down the drain (terrible guilt). Stay tuned within the next few days to see what I did with the other fennel bulb. I had a major delicious success! But what you see below is crap, so don't use the recipe unless you are making it for someone who likes bland, uninteresting foods (or other reasons). Or if you can tweak it for me.
Tofu scramble! I made it but didn't eat it. This falls under the category of "yes it is vegan, but Leslie won't eat it foods" such as faux meats and pre-made faux cheeses. I used to gag at the smell of my mom making scrambled eggs for my brother starting 20 years ago, and I knew this would be ok and not stinky to make. In fact, it smelled good, I just have "issues". Tofu scramble is something Ray has been requesting for a long while. I either had silken tofu or really firm tofu for a long time and never got around to making it. Finally, last Saturday I made Dreena's wonderful crepe test-recipe for the tenth time or so and also decided to make tofu scramble on the other burner. In the middle of cooking both at once (I like to pre-make the maple butter cream), a friend of mine / ex-co-worker called and she was going to stop by. There were 3 people eating the tofu scramble and the verdict was positive, yet not with much energy. It was all eaten but probably just because they were hungry and it was there. I made the tofu scramble from VwaV and next time I will experiment with other recipes. I still won't eat it (or try it).
Next up we have some veggie bean and veggie-dyed-alphabet noodle soup. This soup is a random recipe that I made up with scragglers from the co-op sale, and I used way too much fire roasted tomatoes. It was good, Ray rated it an 8, I gave it a 6, but there is lots of room for replacement. I will give the basic recipe, but please feel very free to elaborate and change it up. It was good for a meal, but very tomato-y for me. I made so much (which I am sort-of unhappy about) and we still have that huge-ass bag left in the freezer. I plan on thawing it out, doctoring it up, adding some onions, and seeing how that goes. For now, here is the recipe and it makes almost 6 quarts. Ok, here's a basic recipe, cut it down, change it up...
8.5c water (or veg broth + water)
1/4c dry alphabet noodles
1- 28oz can fire roasted tomatoes, crushed
1 can kidney beans
1 can chickpeas
3 carrots, peeled and diced
2 handfuls chopped green peppers
4 cloves garlic
3 yukon gold potatoes, cut
1/2t basil
1/2t oregano
1/2t thyme
1t sea salt
black pepper to taste
1/2t jalepeno hot sauce
I really wanted to use spinach... I'm now just seeing it around.
Directions: Add everything together. Boil. Cover. Simmer until potatoes are soft. Consume.

Served with a whole wheat bun on Ikea snack sets.
And finally, same deal as last time, faux-baked, but with added blueberries. After taking this photo, the blueberries were extra soft, and turned everything a nice purple hue. Highly recommended.
Note: I usually don't post too often (sorry, I'm working on that). I am going to provide you all with a post within the next few days for your personal viewing and eating pleasure. Part of it will be about what I did with the fennel today (plus other stuff). I'm giving the warning so you all don't fall out of your chair from me posting frequent posts and real recipes! Stay tuned...


Dreena said...

Les, how neat that you played the piano growing up. Most of us in our family did too. I played for years and then stopped around 12 or 13 when I didn't think it was very 'cool' anymore! We have a piano that was passed down to us, and now I have our older girl in lessons. I picked it up again before having the girls, but now I have little time to play/practice. I know I'll get back to it again someday too though. It's wonderful that you have all those instruments and love for music in your home.

Next, I love your 'faux baking' creations. You're very clever! I also really love blueberry grunt. Blueberry dishes were a big part of our childhood, since blueberries grow wild in Newfoundland and families would go pick them and freeze through the winter, etc.

Sorry about your 'bland' soup... but you have some winners in there, and that's how it goes with cooking - some hits and misses - and at least you have more hits!! :)

raising_kahne said...

Leslie, all this looks absolutely amazing! You are coming quite the 'chef' by coming up with all these yummy creations! The Blueberry Grunt looks delicious, and I had never heard of a grunt before. I have no advice on your soup; I dont think Ive ever even seen fennel in person before.

Your soup looks yummy, have you been in a soup-making mood lately?? I probably will soon, because I love how it's starting to get cool down here. However, my freezer is pretty darn full now because I made quite a bit lately, and yesteray was our early Thanksgiving dinner and I made a lot.

Are you planning on doing anything fun and festive for Halloween??

One more thing....I cant believe you are liking onions! I saw your comment telling Dreena that you didnt hate them as much anymore, and for a second I thought there might be another Leslie on here. haha Cant wait to see what yummness your post will bring!

Anonymous said...

I love your electric piano. It's so cool. I used to play when I was a little kid and have always wanted to learn again. I am very jealous of anyone who can play well. However, I don't think I am that good at reading music, but maybe it would all come back to me with a little practice.

Your blueberry grunt is awesome! I can't wait to try it. I'm so happy you were able to duplicate the oven yumminess.

You're not missing out on anything with the tofu scramble. I've eaten it quite a few times (using different recipes) and it's really not that great.

Anxiously awaiting your next post...

bazu said...

Ohhhh your blueberries- so many blueberries- they look so luxurious! And I'm sure I'd love your grunt, since I love all manner of biscuit-y dumpling-y things. Yum!
I'm sorry your soup didn't turn out well! I think potato/leek soups do tend to be pretty mild. I usually eat them cold (seems to bring out the flavor a bit) and top with sour cream, croutons, crackers, or fried shallots to kick it up a notch.
I actually *love* fennel, so I can't wait to see what you did with it- sorry your first time wasn't so great. I understand how you feel, though, my mom hates fennels and all things licorice-y.
And I hate the smell of cooked eggs, but I can totally eat tofu scramble. I can assure you that it tastes good!

Kris said...

I've never had a grunt before, but I'm going to make it now, if for nothing else because I like the way it sounds! It looks kind of like a fruit pancake with the topping on the bottom, yum! Do you think it would be too sweet for breakfast?

If tofu scramble grosses you out, you should try it like we do, I just cube the tofu and it's basically a breakfast stirfry. I don't like it all mushed up. Ick.

I've never made anything with fennel, either. It's freaks me out, so I give you credit for giving it another try.

I love your IKEA snack sets! Those would be perfect for soup, which we've been having a ton of! Did you see I made your soup on my last post? I have to get up to Seattle to get some of those. I still haven't hemmed those curtains you got for me, they're just dragging on the ground! I'll have to get to it soon, we have company coming over for dinner next week.

Julie said...


I love this post! So many things, I don't know where to start. Oh, yes I do. Invite me over when these yummy things are prepared! :D

That's so neat that you used to play piano. I played a little bit [and I mean a LITTLE] when I was young, but I ended up quitting piano for baton twirling...and everyone knows I am using that baton twirling now. HA! Matt's the musical genious over here, anyhow.

Oh, and I love fennel! Dried, atleast. I just recently tried it in a tester recipe and I loved the taste. Regular fennel kinda scares me though.

Talk to ya soon! :)

Carrie™ said...

The grunt is great! That looks like a real baked dessert. Well done. Too much fire-roasted tomatoes? Can there be such a conundrum? NEVER!
I've never had tofu scramble before either. It sort of freaked me out in the past but I think I might be ready to take that baby step and give it a whirl.
Awesome that you have a piano! I have very limited musical ability. I think I can play doh rae mi, twinkle, twinkle little star, and a couple of other classic tunes. Have fun with it!

b36Kitchen said...

I had the same reaction to fennel the first time I bought and cut one open. But now I love it.
Your Grunt looks so "baked" and wonderful that I can't wait to try it out!

Candi said...

I love the piano! I don't play either, but when there is an instrument around...I try. Lol! That one looks fun.

You food looks good! I love that last blueberry oat mixture! I never heard of "grunt" and I'm from New England. It looks pretty good though!

Fennel? Hmmm, wonder what you did with it?

Anonymous said...

I saw this and totally thought of you. It's a no bake apple tart (sub agave for the honey and it's easily veganised)! It looks absolutely heavenly. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=67

SusanV said...

The grunt looks great! I'm going to have to try it and use your faux baking idea because my oven is barely working anymore. I've never had a grunt, but it looks like something my whole family would like.

Courtney said...

Check out Nava Atlas' blog-- http://blog.vegkitchen.com/ --today for a potato leek soup recipe...it is like she was reading your mind! I have never tried it before, but I have enjoyed her recipes in the past. If you ever want to try to make the soup again, maybe her recipe would be good? (although, I am not sure you would want to try it again after your bland results!)

laura jesser said...

Your electric piano is beautiful. I wish I had one too... My parents said I can have my old piano from home, but it's going to have to wait until I get a bigger place!

Grunt??? I've never heard of that in my life. But it looks delicious...

Sorry about your potato-leek soup disaster. I've never been able to stomach fennel, and just when I was thinking about giving it another try, I read your post! Oh well. Unfortunately, I've never found a passable recipe for potato-leek soup either.

maybepigscanfly said...

oh how interesting- I've never heard of a grunt before. But Im sure I would love it because anything with blueberries makes me happy. I'm glad that you've been able to "bake", without using your oven!

That piano is so cool- I'm jealous that you have Ray to help teach you (plus all those other fun instruments). I played piano for many years as a kid too and can also read music but mainly only play with my right hand.

Sorry about the potato leek soup- I've never had it before so I'm no help for you. But I do think that you should give the tofu scramble a try. I don't like faux meats or cheeses either, and I never really liked eggs any style pre-vegan either. But I love tofu scrambles and they don't taste eggy at all. They are so versatile, easy to make and are good wrapped in a warm tortilla. You never know- you might like it!


KleoPatra said...

What i wouldn't give to hear you play "Conjunction Junction..." (how's that function... hookin' up verbs and phrases and clauses...)

That was a trip down memory lane and i thank you.

I would love a huge portion of the blueberry grunt and i know yer adverse to it but i gots ta tell ya: tofu scramble is one of my fave dishes... sooooooooooo good!

LOVE the tapestry/sheet hanging behind the piano. GORGEOUS! I'm an old flute player who dabbled in piano as a kid... good stuff, girlfriend. Love the music notes (no pun intended) you write about. Super cool.

funwithyourfood said...

there's so much here i don't know where to begin!

the dipping sauce and ice cream are my fav things about this post. yuummm