You Say It’s Your Birthday (Cake)

So where were we? I baked those fabulous Super Bowl Cookies and then… went on an extended hiatus. Call it baking burn out, writer’s block, career minded hoop jumping, or culinary complacency, but I kind of ran out of steam. I was eating and baking, of course, but those little synapses that make the connections between baking and writing were not firing.

(Not my actual brain, but close!)

But then..Kevin’s birthday approached and I decided to take on an entire vegan meal for my entirely vegan man. My go-to cookbook for fancy vegan feasts is the am-ah-zong Voluptuous Vegan by Myra Kornfeld.

My sister Nancy found this book for me at a used book store on Vashon Island a decade ago during a visit to Seattle. She cooked out of it that very same night, and then it sat on my bookshelf for years. I was too intimidated to try the complicated recipes, with their homemade garlic juice and Indonesian sambals. And Myra is like the Rube Goldberg of chefs with recipes within recipes that lead you down recipe rabbit holes.

Within the last couple of years as my kitchen skills improved, Kevin’s committment to veganism pumped up as well. And with the Voluptuous Vegan as my guide, I’ve cooked him Thai Vegetable Stews and Millet Sunflower Croqettes, Seitan Pot Pie and Sweet Dumpling Squash with Chestnut Stuffing and Lima Bean Gravy. For his birthday this year,I made Curried Chickpea Tart with Fennel-Cauliflower Sauce, Wilted Spinach, Cucumber Raita, Roasted Chickpea Nuts, and Cardamom-Spiced Basmati, all from the pages of Voluptuous Vegan.

Blurry Photo Due To Kevin's Hands Shaking In Anticipation!

But as a dyed in the wool, butter loving baker who had sworn off vegan “baking” as entirely missing the point, I had never even looked at the dessert section of the cookbook. Kevin and I have a pretty simple pact when it comes to my baking: he eats one of whatever I’ve baked and then gives the rest to his hungry staff at kexp. It’s a big sacrifice for him and I’m being totally serious. Kevin eats warrior food. I don’t think brownies and cookies fall into that category, unless you are fighting a war against fitness. But he eats the evil treat to show he cares.

So, to show how much I love my Warrior, I baked him the Chocolate Mousse Cake from Voluptuous Vegan, and you know what, it wasn’t bad, and coming from a person who could eat buttercream frosting for breakfast, that’s saying something.

Totes Amazeballs!

Kevin called the whole meal “totes amazeballs” and better than anything he could get in a restaurant. I’m glad, because…and here’s the only drawback, I spent two entire days in the kitchen preparing the meal. Was it intimidating? A little. But now that I have it under my belt (literally and figuratively) it won’t be so scary next time. And that’s like a birthday gift to me.

(A tip for making any recipes in the VV: read the recipe thoroughly before you shop for or make it. Often it calls for a specific ingredient like garlic juice or homemade chili paste that is like a mini recipe unto itself. Allow yourself lots of time to make the complete meals and do as much as possible in advance)


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One Response to You Say It’s Your Birthday (Cake)

  1. Larry Rosenthal says:

    Shawn Stewart, permit me to introduce Isa Chandra Moskowitz. Isa (pronounced like pizza, she says,) Shawn.

    Isa is the ruling Queen of Vegan Cookbooks. She and her partner, Terry Romero, started with a webcast called The Post Punk Kitchen which was taped in Isa’s little Brooklyn apartment and always featured a local band along with the cooking demos. The eponymous website is still going strong. The first book, Vegan with a Vengeance remains a classic, as is Veganomicon. Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World will knock your socks off. We had to go on Weight Watchers a few months after getting that one. Isa’s most recent, Appetite for Reduction has helped along those (waist) lines, too. (They’ve also booked pies, cookies and brunch.)

    I’d spent decades a carnivore in the world living with, and cooking for, a vegetarian leaning toward vegan. Isa’s books and ethos, her persona and my exposure to her blogging won me over pretty quickly, so be warned. These recipes are easy to moderate, the writing is very enjoyable, the food is wonderful. Before long you start wondering if you really want that steak…

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