Monday, August 17, 2009

All American Biscuits - Vegan Style

Category: vegan, breads | Difficulty: easy

I confess...I am not a vegan and I don't think I could ever be one. I said, "I don't think" because you never know! But, I'm close to vegetarian although I love a good burger here and there, guess that makes me close to a semi-vegetarian. However, for the love of my veggie friends and my own curiosity I make vegetarian and vegan dishes to help round out our diets. And, after all, I must please all my visitors here right? What's so hard about me being a full-fledged vegan or vegetarian? I guess my main thing comes down to flavor. If something doesn't have flavor I shy away from it like a frightened alley cat! I have to have flavor - no bland stuff please! So when fixing vegetable dishes whether cooking or baking, I'm looking for ways to still have something tasty while keeping it healthy and within the rules of what's truly vegan or vegetarian.

I was amazed to learn that there so many types of vegetarians but vegan is a type all to itself and it doesn't just cover food but all animal products - clothes - washing detergents - body products, etc., - anything that is made from cruelty of any animal is prohibited in the vegan's diet. And it is a lifestyle for them. Some people do it for health reasons while others - it's a statement against the harmful treating of animals - whatever reason anyone chooses, it's fine if the bottom line is that you care about what you put in your body. Now, saying that...I was listening to a news program about vegans vs. meat lovers and I couldn't believe my ears when I heard some of the vegans who were interviewed calling non-vegans all kinds of nasty names! That is uncalled for in my book! Educate people is my thing - don't call people out of their name and shoot obscenities on national TV - some calling non-vegans like myself: "Stupid, low lifes" and worse - it was actually very condescending! Educating us goes far better to getting the message across. And, maybe there are non-vegans/vegetarians that don't seem to care, but don't you think communicating intelligently is a much better way at getting the kind of response you want than screaming 'stupid' at somebody? I do! Well... enough of my preaching and since my blog is supposed to be about food, let's get back to the subject. I've tried several vegan dishes and liked them, mainly because there were substitute ingredients for the stuff I normally consume; other ingredients may take me a little time to like if you know what I mean.

One website devoted to vegans and vegetarians that I like to visit is Vegalious. I love their site, the food is wonderful, photographed excellently, but they are very knowledgeable on the subject and they'll give you substitutions for ingredients we use and buy everyday. If you're interested, you should check them out. And now onto my recipe which I got from them!

2 c. all purpose flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
4 tbsp. cold soy margarine (see this is a substitution for regular butter)
3/4 c. cold soy milk (another substitute for whole milk)

Preheat the oven to 450F.

Put all the dry ingredients into a bowl. Blend the margarine into the dry ingredients until the mixture breaks down like sand particles. Doing this by hand is easy and it goes quickly and is not really that messy to do. I like that the dough is not out of control and all over the place!

Add the soy milk and stir until the mixture clings together. Turn out onto a floured bread board or counter top and knead for 1 to 2 minutes or until the dough is smooth. Add more flour as needed if the dough is sticky. Roll the dough out to about a 1/2-inch thickness.

The biscuits do not rise much…so don’t roll the dough out to thinly. Using a juice glass, dipped in flour at the rim, cut the dough into rounds. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet, and bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Serve hot. Makes about 10 to 12 biscuits. Top with apple butter or pumpkin butter.

And, if you're looking for a vegan recipe for either apple or pumpkin butter, here you are! And very tasty too!

Vegan All Day Apple Butter

This recipe is an all day crockpot experience and should definitely keep you busy + make your whole house smell good so you won't need any scented candles!

8 lbs. apples (pick out a variety of sweet apples enough to fill a crock 3/4 full), cored and sliced or shred in a food processor
2 c. white sugar
1 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt

Peel, core, and chop the apples. Combine all ingredients in a medium crockpot, stir well and turn pot onto high heat, cover and cook for two hours.

Reduce heat to low and cook 9 to 11 hours, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thickened and dark brown. At this point the mixture may not look like apple butter, and if you're wanting applesauce, you can stop here. However if you want apple butter and you're impatient like I am, carefully spoon the mixture into your blender and puree until very very smooth and put the mixture back into the crockpot.

Uncover and continue cooking on high 1 hour. You'll know it's thickened correctly when you can put a spoonful of the apples on a plate and after it has allowed to cool there is no ring of liquid around the edge of the spoonful. Once finished and desired thickness is reached you can spoon the mixture into sterile containers for canning, cover and refrigerate, or freeze.

Homemade Vegan Pumpkin Butter

Stirring is crucial in this recipe to prevent burning your pumpkin butter. If you must walk away, add a few tablespoons of apple juice and turn down the stove heat to medium-low, still continuing to stir as you can. (Add about 5-7 minutes additional cooking time if you do this.)

Makes about 2 cups, prep time: about 15 minutes, cook time: 15 minutes

1-15-oz can pumpkin puree
1/2 c. agave syrup*
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
Pinch of salt

Combine the pumpkin and agave nectar* in a small saucepan over medium heat, mixing until well combined. Stirring constantly, cook for about 15 minutes, or until thickened. Stir in the spices and salt, and cook for about 5 minutes more. Remove the pan from heat, and transfer your pumpkin butter to a small heat-proof dish or jar. Let cool completely before covering and refrigerating. Pumpkin butter will keep for about 2 weeks in a covered container in the refrigerator.

*Agave nectar
also known as agave syrup is an alternative sweetener that can be used in place of maple syrup, honey or sugar in cooking and baking recipes. Derived from the agave plant, agave nectar has a higher ratio of fructose to glucose than most sweeteners, so it has a lower glycemic index and glycemic and is thus a good substitute for persons who are watching their blood sugar levels.
Available in light to dark grades like other syrups, agave nectar can be found in most groceries and health food stores among baking products and other syrups.

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