It really does look like fall outside today.

In honor of Veteran’s Day (as a public school teacher, this means a day off of work) and the fact that it is actually cool and cloudy in the desert, I woke up wanting pancakes.

I rolled over in bed, and grabbed my copy of Vegan Brunch (from its special place on my bedside table).  I flipped through to the pancake section, and there I saw it.  A recipe for Pumpkin Pancakes.  It called for 3/4 cup of pumpkin puree, which was perfect since I had 3/4 cup left over from last weekend’s Chocolate Pumpkin Nut Muffin extravaganza.  I looked through the rest of the ingredients, and, wonder of wonders, had all of them!

Then, I read through the narrative (because Isa always gives great narrative along with her recipes) and saw that she suggested making a Ginger Cranberry sauce to accompany the pancakes. Again, due to some sort of recipe magic, I had all the ingredients required for the sauce!  (Every autumn, when cranberries are sold constantly everywhere, I buy up about four bags to keep in my freezer.  One year, I needed cranberries for an activity with my students in February and I couldn’t find them ANYWHERE!  Ever since then, I have vowed to be well prepared when it come to cranberries.)

I started with making the Ginger Cranberry Sauce.  It begins with a basic cranberry sauce recipe (cranberries, water, sugar.)


Cranberries are so bright and cheerful!

Then, you end up adding ginger and maple syrup.  I failed to take a picture of that.  But don’t worry, you’ll see the whole thing in a minute.

Next, I started with the pancakes.  Instead of all purpose white flour, I used whole wheat pastry flour (or, like, 95% WW pastry flour.  I ran out and needed to use a little bit of AP flour).  I also upped the pumpkin spices a bit (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves).  Aside from that, I followed the recipe as written.

So, my first pancake started out looking adorable.

Pancake Cooking 1

Cute little pancake.

I flipped it and thing were still going okay.

Pancake Cooking 2

Flipped pancake, still pretty cute.

But then when I tried to get it off the pan, something weird happened.

Pancake Cooking 3

Weird wrinkled pancake.

I figured it was just “first pancake” syndrome, and went on to make the next pancake.  Unfortunately, the next pancake looked like this:

Pancake Cooking 4

Charred pancake. Not quite deliciousness.

I lowered the temperature and tried again.

Pancake Cooking 5

I don't even know what happened here...

I was about to give up, but decided to try a different pan, a newfangled ceramic pan.  Maybe they just didn’t like the cast iron (although the recipe said to use cast iron).

Pancake Cooking 6

Things are starting to look up for my pumpkin pancakes!

Unfortunately, by the time I got to the last pancake, things were still quite unreliable.  And this happened:

Pancake Cooking 7

Basically, I'm a pancake failure.

I’m not quite sure what I was doing wrong with the pancakes.  The outsides kept burning while the insides were super mushy.  They tasted good, and since there wasn’t any egg, I wasn’t worried about salmonella with them being unevenly cooked.  I just am not sure what I was doing wrong.  (I kept increasing and lowering the temperature.  Nothing quite helped.)

In the end, I did have a pretty delicious fall pancakey cranberry-y breakfast.  Afterward, I was stuck in a pretty severe pumpkin pancake coma, and couldn’t seem to get up to get dressed and get on with my day.  That was an unfortunate side effect.

Final Pancake

Cute little pancake with delicious ginger cranberry sauce on top.

The sauce was really delicious, and aside from the second pancake (the super burned one), all the others seem to be edible.  In the cooking process, I ate two pancakes (they were just too destroyed to eat on a plate!) and afterward I ended up eating three with the sauce.  So, I think I’ve had my pumpkin pancake fill for the day.

Happy cloudy day.

Zucchini Pecan Spelt Muffins?!

Last Sunday, on top of the bagels and the garden vegetable spread (that totally grows on you as you eat more and more!), I also made some muffins.  Zucchini Pecan Spelt Muffins, to be exact.  I got the recipe from Vegan Brunch, and modified it slightly, partly on purpose, and partly by accident.

When I first saw the recipe (and the lovely picture in the cookbook), I immediately thought of these delicious, large, soft, fluffy, moist muffins that I used to get from a coffee shop, before I started this whole vegan experiment.  The muffins were made with some sort of non-white flour, they were zucchini muffins, but they also had some sort of nuts in them (either walnuts or pecans, I’m not sure which) and a good handful of nuts on top of the muffin, as well.  I would stick the muffin in the microwave for 55 seconds before eating, and it was delicious.  Steamy and warm and fatty and delicious.

So, I saw this muffin and decided I wanted to replicate the bakery muffin.  So, in addition to the zucchini and spelt flour, I needed to add some chopped nuts.  I think I ended up adding about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of chopped pecans to the batter.  I also sprinkled some on top of half the muffins.  The one downside was, I had only about half of the required zucchini.  I even went to the store specifically FOR the zucchini, and failed to buy the right amount.  So, I made due with half the amount.  The muffins were maybe a little drier than they should have been (had I added 2 cups of zucchini instead of only one), but they were still mighty good.

Unfortunately…I left them out on the counter for two days, and in the hot desert heat, I think they started to go back pretty quickly.  I immediately shuttled them to the refrigerator, but, now they taste a little…funky.

Zucchini Pecan Spelt Muffin

I call this: Muffin in the Sun

Bagels and Garden Herb Spread

So, I just made bagels.  Bagels!  They taste like bagels.  They look mostly like bagels (though a bit misshapen.)  They smell like bagels.  I got the recipe from Vegan Brunch.  It is surprisingly easy to make bagels.  It is just flour, water, a tiny bit of sugar, a tiny bit of salt, some wheat gluten, and yeast.  That’s it!  I never would have thought it was so simple!

Next time, I’m going to try adding some berries or chocolate chips.  I also would like to try to make a crispy cinnamon coating (like the Cinnamon Crunch bagels you can get at Panera.)

Overall, the bagels were a success!

I also made a Garden Herb Spread (also from Vegan Brunch) to go along with the bagels.  It includes cashiews, tofu, and lots of herbs.  I balked at the idea of having to purchase fresh basil, thyme, oregano, and tarragon (expensive) and used dried herbs instead.  It definitely affected the flavor and texture…  The spread is still good, and I think I’m going to play around with it a little bit to make the flavors stronger.  It wasn’t excellent, but I know that’s my fault for not buying the right products.

Bagel and Garden Herb Spread

Bagel and Garden Herb Spread. (Recipes from Vegan Brunch)