Drunken French Toast

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French Toast.  As far as I’m concerned it’s a good reason to get up in the morning.  After coffee.  I love French Toast and I’m not even French.  But seriously folks, that bread dipped in egg, fried up with syrup or my favorite, butter, lemon juice and powdered sugar…what’s not to love?

I had to figure out a way to make my morning favorite.  I looked up a bunch of vegan recipes and kind of wanted to kill myself.  Do these people work?  Go outside?  Have a life?  I can’t spend that much time putting together French Toast.  I decided to go it on my own.

IMG_3943You know you want some.

I put some vanilla almond milk in my trusty soaking pan.  Added some cinnamon (1t), nutmeg (1/4t) (yeah that’s one of the secret ingredients) and Cointreu.  Don’t be silly, the Drunken Vegan will always add booze to any recipe.  About a half shot of Cointreu.  Whisked it up, soaked the bread and Oh. My. God.  That’s good shit.



Butternut squash and pear soup

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I like playing with the same thing over and over again to see what I end up with.  February’s toy was butternut squash.  It spent a lot of time in a lot of different things, but it ended up in the soup.  Butternut squash and pear soup.

This one was a sweetheart to put together.  I got the recipe from The Vegan Road.  I’m not going to retype their recipe and then give them credit.  The recipe is over here, go check it out.  I used a immersion blender.  I think throwing it in the real blender or a food processor would have been a better idea.  Still, it was delish!  I might take it easy on the cumin in the future, maybe even trading that out for some allspice, but all and all a very fine soup.

How do you make a great soup better?  Bake your own bread silly!  I use King Arthur’s recipe but I don’t add the dry milk.  Never had, just works out nicely on this vegan thing.  You can basically use just about anything for the fat and anything for the sugar in this bread.  I prefer olive oil and maple syrup.

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I served this up with a 21st Amendment Sneak Attack Saison.  This is a nice winter brew where you can taste the cardamom.  A big spicy Saison and a perfect pairing.  Because I don’t always have to drink wine, sometimes when I’m thirsty I drink a really nice brew.



Poizin and gnocchi

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I should have taken a picture of today’s sandwich.  It was pretty.  9 grain bread, hummus, sliced mushrooms, sliced tomatos and organic microgreens.  It was pretty and it was yummy.  And It was good for me.

I know by definition this is veganism, but I’m thinking I prefer the term “Plant-based” instead.  That way I’m “plant-based” but if I wander, it’s not the end of the world because I’m still “plant-based”.   Even the E-2 guys have a cheeseburger once in a while, although I can’t see myself doing that.


I’m still experimenting around with gnocchi and squash.  I’ve been adding Russian kale that I have been growing in my garden.  Sometimes fresh thyme and sage, sometimes just thyme, sometimes just sage.  Last month while it was still really cold, I did whole wheat sweet potato gnocchi with zucchini, Russian kale and mushrooms.

I served that up with a 2009 Armida Poizin Zinfandel.  Epic.  That Poizin is a bit of a street fight in a glass, big fruit bomb of a Zin.  This one had a couple of years in the bottle which really didn’t mellow it much.  The finish was nice and velvety, which I know it wasn’t originally.  When bottled that thing was all about the high heat.  It’s mellowed a little bit with time.  It’s still got those dark black cherries, stone fruit and pepper in it.  That’s a wine that moves like Jagger.

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Apple Crisp

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I prefer fruit desserts.  If you’ll notice when you go to a restaurant there is always a chocolate dessert, a lemon based dessert and at least one fruit dessert.  I rarely go for the chocolate dessert.  More often than not I go for the lemon dessert.  I don’t know why I love lemon so much but I do.  Lemon merengue pie?  Yum.  The tarter the better.  If you can get lemon and coconut together I will do all sorts of inappropriate things for seconds.  The lemon pudding cake at Willi’s Wine Bar in Santa Rosa is really the main reason I stop there.  You can get good wine just about anywhere up there, but lemon pudding cake?  Shut the front door.  For what it’s worth, Willi’s also has a gluten free menu.  Who does that?

I have an insatiable sweet tooth.  It’s been slightly better since this switch to veganism, but it has been a problem my whole life.  I know I must tame the beast by whatever means necessary.  I have chosen to bake dessert.

It’s been cold and miserable here.  Today it didn’t hit 50 degrees.  In the state of California.  I can’t tell you how many flavors of wrong this is, but neapolitan doesn’t begin to describe it.  My theory is our houses don’t shield us from the cold as well as mid west or east coast houses because we live in freaking sunny goddamn California.  The weather patterns have in fact changed and it’s colder than it ever was when I was I kid here.  You pay less for a house in these other areas because you pay so much for heating in the winter.  Us Californians shouldn’t have to run the heater every day all day and all night just to keep it 55 degrees inside.  Just sayin’.

But I digress.  When it’s cold like this, there is nothing better and a baked apple dessert.  You know I’m right.  I have been doing different versions of an apple crack crisp, the base recipe being out of the The Joy of Vegan Baking.

Great little book.  Any who I’ve made it with apples and cranberries.  Apples, cranberries and raisins.  Apples and raisins.  This time I made it with just apples.  Except I went a little stupid and didn’t get it exactly right.  The recipe calls for something like 8 cups of fruit.  I use 8 apples and let God sort it out.  I add twice as much of each spice, two 1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon, half a teaspoon of all spice.  Seriously.  Allspice.  And nutmeg in the crumble topping.  Last night I got a little stupid and forgot the 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour.  Sometimes it’s addition by subtraction.  It came out better than ever.  The top held together nicely and crunched like it should.  Next time I think I might try just 1/4 cup of flour to see if the midland is where I want to be, but YUM.



I am working very hard at being a good vegan so I served it with Trader Joe’s Soy vanilla ice cream whatever they call it.  It is just good.


Sometimes it’s good. Sometimes it’s not so good.

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I made some Ratatouille from the Forks Over Knives cookbook.  It came out really nice, great flavors.  I live alone so when I make something, it becomes dinner or lunch for several meals.

First night I put it over some whole wheat penne.  Very good.  Second night, whole wheat spaghetti.  Same result.  Third night, I thought, “hey!  Let’s put this on some gnocchi!”, which became, let’s pan fry the gnocchi and give it a little crunch.  Epic fail.  The gnocchi was a bad idea in the first place.  It did not have the chops to stand up to the ratatouille.  The gnocchi was lost in the flavors and textures of the ratatouille.  All that was left was a soggy non-crunch.

So when you screw up dinner at an epic level, there is only one thing left to do.  Hit the wine cellar!  It was time to play cellar roulette.  I yanked out a Hahn Winery 2009 Central Coast Cabernet Sauvignon.  My theory: with enough wine, culinary SNAFU’s are just a minor bump in the road.

Hahn is doing some really great things right now.  This one was a mouthful.  Ripe dark fruit, coffee and spice on the back palette.  Light tannins for a gentle finish.  Unlike the gnocchi, it stood up to the ratatouille.  It is a solid offering from Hahn and did very well the rest of the cold winter’s evening here at The Farm.


Spaghetti with olives and pine nuts

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This one started out as an epicurious recipe that veered off course.

First, epicurious.  Seriously.  Use whole wheat spaghetti.  It’s better for you.  I heard a guy on NPR the other day saying that if you cook pasta “al dente” like the Italians do it’s better for you as it slows down the glycemic index because it takes longer to digest.  Of course whole wheat pasta one ups that theory, so said the speaker in not so many words.  As Americans we don’t cook pasta “al dente” we cook the holy hell out of it.  And we make too much of it.

The recipe called for Gaeta olives, but I couldn’t remember what it called for at Whole Foods so I went for the Cerignolas.  Certainly a difference in flavor but to me, it barely matters.  I love olives.

I got some whole wheat pasta, not too much and cooked it up “al dente”, which is pretty hard to miss on whole wheat pasta, it takes a lot longer to cook.

Meanwhile, I chopped up some shallot, the olives, some pine nuts and some capers, with a heavy knife.  I forgot to buy parsley.

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The original recipe calls for adding the olive oil to the olive salsa and tossing in the spaghetti.  I wanted to scent the oil so I warmed the oil in a cast iron fry pan, added the salsa, tossed it once and pulled it out.  You could smell all of the flavors getting into the oil.  I tossed that into the drained pasta and served.

Epicurious says this should take 30 minutes to prepare.  I guess if you count the amount of time it takes to go to the grocery store and wash the dishes.  This one is 10 minutes soup to nuts.  And delish!

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Served with a Yule Smith, Imperial red ale.  Nice and nutty, perfect for a cold winter night.


Gnocchi and butternut squash

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Funny that my first post to this blog will be after a week of absolute hell.

My mother fell and broke her hip Sunday night.  She’s 84, three weeks from 85.  But she was in relatively good shape.  According to the plan inside my head, she wasn’t falling and breaking her hip for another five years.  So I was a little hacked off with Sunday night’s adventure.  Learning a new way to cook and eat and driving 30 minute each was to the acute hospital sucked.  There was no other way to put it.  I was living on tortilla chips and guacamole.  Certainly vegan providing you read the package and don’t get the chips made in lard or some other kind of animal fat.

Yesterday they moved her to a skilled facility near my home for her rehab.  I could feel the weight being lifted off my shoulders.  I’ve been on call for the last 7 days and having a couple of pops and then finding out I had to drive to Kaiser was off the table.  So I went to bed on Christmas, stone cold sober.  Never had a drink all day.  For a wino, it was sacrilegious, and painful.

Last night I had enough.  I generally play cellar roulette, a game where I reach into my cellar and drink whatever I grab.  It’s always an adventure.  To add to the fun, then I have to create a dinner that pairs with the wine.  Last night I was a little more purposeful.  I wanted a good bottle of wine.  I deserved it.

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That’s a Freemark Abbey 2001 Sycamore Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.  Hello lover!  Time has been kind to her.  I could not believe the structure and character of this wine, eleven years later.  It was still full of fruit, soft tannins, I suspect much softer than when it was first bottled, their wines back then were always pretty tight with a lot of high heat.  Now this one came at you with Dr. Pepper, currents and leather.  The nose did not conceal it’s beauty.  This wine was dark and sexy.  What the hell was I going to make for dinner.

Two weeks ago I went to Metro in Lafayette for lunch with my lender, who has also become a good friend.  I went through the menu looking for the dish that had no cream, no animal products in it.  The closest I could do was a gnocchi with butternut squash in a brown butter.  The point of this adventure is to be good, not perfect.  I’m not going to sit there saying “Oh I can’t have that” and do that nonsense.  My goal is 80%.  In reality I’m about 95% right now.  The things I get tripped up on are butter in the item on a menu when I’m out, and Starbuck’s coffee.  An extra .60 cents for soy milk just pisses me off.  Since I only do it once or twice a week, I don’t worry about it.  But I digress.  The gnocchi and butternut squash was exquisite, and I knew it didn’t need the brown butter.

I had this now open amazing bottle of wine, a butternut squash, some gnocchi and some crimini mushrooms.  It was time.  I pulled out three pans and got to it.  I cut the squash into 1/2 cubes, kind of, uniform in size so they would cook at the same rate.  I got some canola oil and a little bit of sage and heated the spice.  I added the cubed butternut squash over a medium heat and let it cook.  In another pan I got some olive oil, scented that oil with thyme and threw in a handful of cut up mushrooms, cooking them hot and quickly, tossing them often, essentially caramelizing them.   In the third pan I cooked the gnocchi.  Yeah, I could have made them from scratch, but I didn’t.

Once the gnocchi were cooked, I added them to the pan with the squash.  I pan fried the gnocchi while finishing off the squash.  I added the mushrooms, tossed it all and that was that.  I had a hearty wintery dish that matched well with my wine.  Unfortunately, I was in such a hurry to get to it I didn’t take a picture.