Thursday, December 30, 2010

Gallette Update (aka Les échec épique)

As we are preparing for Sammys (vegan nugget) party in Cleveland, I thought I would pen a quick update to the Gallette veganization I have been attempting.  After going through and explaining the history and emotions brought forth by the almighty Gallette, I assumed it was merely a few quick modifications to the recipe, and I would be spending most of my time trying to tweak the taste.  Nothing could be further from the truth (can we say "Epic Failure"???).

Lets start with the base recipe:

  • 2 cups butter
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 9 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

First, I halved this since I was experimenting.  I subbed Earth Balance for butter, but only 3/4 a cup.  I used Yogurt as well 1/4 cup.  I used Ener-G egg replacers in the equivalent of 4 eggs.  I ran these through the blender to get them good and fluffy.  So far so good.

I heated up the iron and got to work.  First few were sticky, but as I went on, it got a little better, but I still had to use a fork to pry off each one.  After tossing the first 6-8, I managed a small batch.  The cookies were marginal at best.

Second modification, I used 1 cup of Earth Balance (no yogurt) and added a bit more sugar.  I also doubled the vanilla.  This turned out miserably.  Every one burned to the iron, i tried high heat low heat, short time,.. everything. I greased the iron, but every time, I had to scrape off the burned remains.

After twittering and googling a bit, I decided to re-season the iron.  Note that this thing is 60+ years old, its an ancient beast,  but has been working fine.  So regardless, i cleaned the iron, wiped on canola oil on the business end, and baked it at 350 for an hour.  I did this in the evening, and then again in the morning.  By evening I was ready to try again.

Third time (the charm?) I took the batter from last night, and whipped in a little canola.  The iron had a nice surface that looked ready to rock.  It wasn't.  One after another after another. burned, scorched,.. I was planning to photo document this, but I was so pissed, and frustrated with airing the smoky house out, I never once went for the camera. It was all I could do to keep from tossing everything in the back yard.  I took about an hour off, chatted on twitter, and tried again on a different burner at greatly reduced temperatures, still no good.  The batter was not holding together, so it just cooked to the iron.  

I cleaned the iron one last time, dispatched the remaining batter to the insinkerator, and decided to regroup on the recipe.  I'm also trying a new seasoning method. More times, higher temp.  I was told to make it smoke, so thats what I will do.  The recipe? well something in there is not binding my cookie, I am inclined to ditch the Ener-G and try something new.  Batch 1 had moderate success, so maybe yogurt is the key... Things to think about.

Well, I have a few days to contemplate it, as we wont be back until the first, so for now I'll have to deal with this setback, and think about the recipe.  This is not over in the least. Just a minor setback.  I'm going to bet Grandpa ruined a few batches over the years, we just never got those sent to us :)

Stay tuned...................

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

First Vegan Christmas

Let me start out by saying that Christmas did not "die" for me as it did for Thanksgiving (thank god!!!).  For me, there is a significant difference between those two holidays (as there always has been), Thanksgiving was clearly ALL about the food, and I was not in control of any of it. So THAT was indeed a recipe for disaster.  Christmas for me has never been so much about the food, and I (we) was in total control of the food. Therefore, I had high hopes that Christmas would emerge the victor in these battles.  It did indeed.  I would have to say that our Christmas Eve and Day feasts were the best we or I have ever made.

This was indeed my first Vegan Christmas, but I felt I was well prepared for this adventure. Having some significant vacation time also helped, as we were not rushed at the last minute to try and shop or prepare.  We had loads of time to shop, sort through recipes, and really plan this out.  More thought was given to this meal, than any other meal I was part of preparing.

In my family, Christmas Eve was all over the map, but when I was an adult, we used to go out and make fools of ourselves in a restaurant, and our father would not complain about us ordering expensive items. It was fun, and I have no idea how much the bills ever were, but I know they were steep.  Thank Dad for cutting us slack on that day. :)  Our Christmas Day was a carbon copy of Thanksgiving, which none of us ever complained about, because it was always our favorite meal.  However, as I got older, married, etc.  Christmas traditions had fallen by the wayside.

Just to clarify, the only "fools" I may have been referring to were myself, my brother and sister.  My dad cut us slack for years on end. We would probably not be so well adjusted if it wasn't for him.  I'll let my dad decide if I just complimented him or not. :-D

Christmas Eve traditions with us now are pretty young anyways, last year we decided that we were going to make 7 fishes.  This was probably going to start a new tradition, but little did we know we would be heading to the hospital early Christmas morning (530am) to have our beloved Sam.  That was a tradition we really did not plan on keeping.  Also, we had no idea that 4 months later, we would both be vegan.  Hence, 7 fishes was short lived.

This years Christmas Eve started out with a nice French wine from the Languedoc-Roussillon region, where my grandfather was from. This wine was from Costières de Nimes which is near the town he was born.  I dont propose to think that there is any real link there, but it was just fun to drink.  Maybe my grandchild will get a Hudepohl or Great Lakes beer someday in my honor.

This was a modest meal, so it incorporated a "Cashew White Cheddar Cheese with Belgian Ale and Caramelized Shallots" from my friend Jenn of Cookin' Vegan

This was amazingly good, but I will admit I overdid it a bit on the fresh garlic.  I added the avocado slice to give it a little color, but it was quite nice on the baguettes

The second appetizer was "Fig and Olive Tapenade" that we had made several times, even as non vegans.  This was one we found on "All recipes" a few years back, and it is amazingly flavorful.

This is served on some Tufutti Better than Cream Cheese, and makes a wonderful combination.  I could truly eat this as a meal.  Albeit a weird meal of Olives and Figs.

Finally we made our main course, which was a Lobster Mushroom Bisque, but I admittedly could not locate any Lobster mushrooms, so this was made from a variety of wild mushrooms. Shitake, Porcini, to name a few.  This was a wonderfully rich and creamy bisque. Who knew cashews were so versitile?

Of course we had some color, with a nice salad with heirloom cherry tomatoes.  These tasted even better than they looked.  I admit, I got these at WF specifically because they looked cool.

A simple quiet Christmas Eve dinner for 2.  The big kids were at their moms, and Sammy was in bed at this point.  Had to ask for this last photo op, before we could eat.

So now dinner is over and the we are all cleaned up, and the house is quiet.  I picked up a bottle of 12 year old Kentucky Bourbon (is there any other kind?) to just relax and enjoy after dinner.  This is a very nice sipping whiskey, that I enjoyed straight up.  I'm not overly learned in bourbon, but I usually don't mess around, and go straight for the good stuff.  Not too good mind you. While I was shopping I noticed a few that would set you back a few hundred for a bottle.  I'm not in that tax bracket.

So off to bed, Christmas comes early.

Moving into Christmas day, we started out the day by sleeping in, as my big kids were not with us yet.  Rumor has it, they were up at 4:30am, which would not have worked at all in this house.  We were making brunch at 11am.  And what a fine one it was.  I would go so far as to asy this was the best brunch ever!!!

This was a "Sunday Brunch Fritata" which came out awesome.  I wish I would have picked up the black salt before making this, but the recipe didn't call for it anyway.  This was delish

I also picked up a jar of Marmite, as I could have sworn we had a recipe that called for it.  Regardless, this stuff is strong, salty,.. and I dont know what else.  I'm debating on whether I like it, or it makes me want to retch.  I guess its one of those things that after you get past the feelings of wanting to hurl, you slowly start to like it.  Why anyone would want to put themselves through this is anyones guess.  However as I write this, I've had it two more times :)

By mid afternoon the kids come over, and we are still preparing for dinner.  They are engrossed in their electronic toys they got from their mom.  My daughter (8) now has a cell phone, which she probably didnt need for about 5 more years, but nevertheless she now has one, and is proceeding to text me relentlessly.  I get a barrage of "hi", "hi dad", "its me", "helllloooo",.. and a number of other variations.  She assures me that its ok, because mom got the unlimited plan.  Oh joy.

Let us not forget our nugget, who is also turning one.  He has actually been vegan for longer than us.

Presents open, and for the adults, a new bottle of wine.  This time from my wifes homeland.  A Sangiovese from Italy.  Much different than the french wine, but equally enjoyable.  This will go well with our feast tonight, which is highlighted around a store bought product.  Originally, I wanted to make everything, but I have heard enough reviews of the Field Roast Hazeletnut En Croute, we had to pick one up and give it a try.  It was worth it!

We also included a "Creamy Broccoli and Mushroom Bake" from my wonderful vegan Noelle from SingersKitchen.  This remind me of a Brocolli/Rice Cheese dish I always referred to as "Green Rice".  I have therefore dubbed this as such.

And her Whole Wheat stuffing that she made on Thanksgiving as well.

The Mashed Potatoes were our creation.  Rather simple, New Potatoes, boiled, run through ricer, mixed in with Earth Balance, and some Tofutti Sour Cream.  The mushroom gravy was also a a simple sautee of wild mushrooms, shallots, garlic, veg broth, seasoning, flour,... simple and yummy.

Pictures never do it justice.  Most food pictures look pretty blah, but this was a feast that I have been waiting for since going vegan, and it was the best Christmas present I could have hoped for.

Ok, well maybe not the BEST present :)

My first Vegan Christmas was a great occasion, and as my son declared (as they do after the Olympics), the "best" ever.  This coming from the only real meat eater of all of us.  I guess that means we did OK.

Merry Christmas to my family, and all my friends

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas (Thank you my "Vegans")

Before the day ends, I wanted to send out a quick note to everyone I've met over the last few months.  I started this blog over the summer as mostly a mechanism for me to document what I was going through, but once I hooked up with twitter, this blog was exposed to a number of other people, whom to my surprise were all too willing to jump in, offer their insight, and help me with my trials and tribulations.  Within the course of a few weeks, I was corresponding with people as if I had known them for years, now I am talking to people as if I have known them my whole life. It has been an experience that has caught me quite off guard, and has been truly a blessing for me.

In a short time, I've made friends all over the country, and the world.  Every one of you has given me some assistance or encouragement throughout this process.  I've had opportunities to vent and complain, and have always found someone to bring me back to earth.  This blog was just going to be a personal diary for me, but it has turned into a means to socialize my vegan transformation, and in doing so, open myself up to seek help and advice.  I've found no shortage of people wanting to help, and in the process, I've made a lot of friends.

Thanks to all of my "vegans" for helping me out over the past few months.  It has really made the whole experience quite enjoyable. Knowing at any given point in time, I can log in and find any one of you online.  It has and continues to be a great experience.  I look forward to the new year ahead, and getting to know you all better.

Thank you :) and Merry Christmas <3 <3


Friday, December 24, 2010

All I want for Christmas...

This post has nothing really to do with my vegan transition, but its a festive time of year, and I think it helps paint the picture of my life, so all of my "vegans" can properly advise me on how to live :)

I asked my son to put some thoughts together for Christmas presents, since he has a lot of extended grandparents now, and this was the list he bestowed up me.  Note, the original was a Google Doc which he shared with me. Its just fun to see how my 10 yr old son thinks.

He put together a list, and then went through and prioritized them.  I'm not sure if #2 is the actual car or not. Yes I picked up a few of these items, but I admit, I'm not sure what all of these things are.  No excuses for missing the boat with this kid.

  1. Playstation 3 Console with Dualshock Controller
  2. Lamborghini Murcielago LP640
  3. Outstandingly good Graphics Card
  4. Need for Speed Hot Pursuit 2010
  5. LittleBigPlanet 2 Pre-Order
  6. XBOX (I would recommend Ebay) NFS: Hot Pursuit 2
  7. New Super Mario Bros. Wii
  8. Sonic Colors
  9. 17,500 Speedboost (I’m talking about in Need for Speed: World. 17,500 costs $40)
  10. Rollerskates
  11. Transformers Human Alliance Sideswipe
  12. Chrome Modern v2 
  13. Secret Agent Clank
  14. Lego 7598 Pizza Planet Truck Rescue
  15. Lego 6212 X-Wing Fighter
  16. Lego 21003 Seattle Space Needle
  17. Lego 7848 Toys R Us Truck (Toys R Us Exclusive, BEWARE)
  18. 55000 Lego Universe MMORPG
  19. Lego 3841 Minotaurus
  20. Lego 3844 Creationary
  21. Nerf N Strike Vulcan EBF-25 Blaster - Yellow
  22. Lego 7145 Von Nebula
  23. Playstation Move Bundle with Eyepet game
  24. Pokemon Arceus Collector Tin
  25. Light Blue Diamond Glass Paperweight
  26. Pokemon Pop and Battle 2 Pack Action Figure Sets- Shaymin and Giratina

My daughter took a Toys R Us catalog, and circled damn near everything on it.  I'm pretty sure those two will have a good Christmas though.

Dont worry, the Gallette's are still in process.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

What would Grandpa think?

When I was a kid, (and probably when my dad was a kid as well), my grandfather made these cookies at Christmas called "gallettes".  These are not what you might think, or you might find if you googled, but they were waffle cookies, similar to "pizelles" (without all of the anise).  They are also somewhat similar to Belgian waffles, but not as thick and cakey.  My grandfather used a gallette iron, which made one cookie, and spent the afternoon cooking them one at a time.  We didn't live near them, and weren't always with them on the holidays, so I remember getting a shoe-box full of these every year.  This was always a great time when the box of gallettes arrived.  They were wonderful cookies, and they were a small, but memorable thing for me with regards to the holiday.

When my grandmother, and soon after my grandfather died many years ago, so did this tradition, and the recipe.  Its unfortunate that I didnt talk to him more.  I was young when he passed, but I don't think I new him very well. The same goes for my grandparents on both my mom and dads side. I remember all of my grandparents, but really knew nothing about them.  I know my background is Polish and French, I know the town my one grandfather is from in France, and thats about it.  My folks dont talk about their parents much, and the one person who knows more about my family than anyone is my brothers soon to be ex-wife. There goes the knowledge base.

The gallette is one of those things that I have always wanted to replicate.  Taste and smell are wonderful memory aids. Its amazing how you can catch a whiff of something; fresh cut grass, a summer rain, baking, and be taken back years to a childhood, to be placed back in the very scene.  You can almost look around and see and smell everything around you in great detail. A simple scent can transport you in full HD back to a time you could not have recalled if you tried.  So for years that is what I have wanted to do. Create a time machine powered by the elusive gallette.

My father informed me that all he recalled was that the recipe had a lot of eggs and butter.  I knew it could not have been that complicated, but still I wanted some idea of the ingredient portions, so I could try to make these.  As luck would have it, a year ago my ex-wife discovered the gallette iron in the basement of her house, and returned it to me.  So last year I decided I was going to try and reawaken this tradition.  So last year, after much googling, and ingredient tweaking. I made a variation of the (clearly non-vegan ) following recipe:


  • 2 cups butter
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 9 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat the gallette iron over medium-high heat for 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Stir in the flour, then beat in the eggs, one at a time. Finally, stir in the vanilla.
  3. Drop batter by rounded teaspoons onto the heated iron, two at a time. Close the iron, and hold on the burner for 30 to 45 seconds, turn over and cook for an additional 30 to 45 seconds. Carefully remove cookies and cool on wire racks.

Simple right?  I think the iron is key, and of course all of the love.  You do have to make these one at a time, about 45 seconds on each side.  If that isn't love, I don't know what is.

I made numerous batches, and of course boxed them up and sent them out to my family.  The gallettes were a huge success. For the first time in years, we were all enjoying what is a rather simple confection, that we all identified the holidays with.

So 4 months after the holidays, with thoughts of gallettes safely tucked back in my memory, I went Vegan without a thought to how my life would be affected.  Over the last 9 months, I thought I met and dealt will all of these things as they came up.  This was until I pulled the iron out this past week and thought "oh crap, now what?".

My first reaction was to just say "screw it" (i used other words), and make them as I did last year, and just put up my blinders. I thought about that briefly. And I wondered if I could even explain Vegan to my grandparents, and what they might think? My grandparents were "meat and potatoes" folk, and I doubt  they would get "veganism".  There is no point in trying to figure that out.  I've no idea what Grandpa would think.

So what is important here? Making a cookie that tastes a lot like what my grandfather used to make?  Am I really conjuring up the spirit or essence of my grandfather by doing this?  If I alter this recipe, will he care?  Will anyone care?  I'm actually surprised at how I feel pulled in different directions over a very simple recipe, that we have all basically forgotten for almost 30 years.  I have decided that I'm not going to make this recipe in its original form.  I'm going to contemplate my family heritage, and in the meantime, I could use some advice on this recipe.  

The drama is to be continued,... as is the veganization of the gallette.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

On a lighter note...

My blog entries of late have been rather on the heavy side.  I dont want to give the impression that I am tormented with my food lifestyle, both past or present.  OK maybe I am, but epic psychoanalytical ranting blog entries do get tiring from time to time.  Both to read and write I'm sure.  I thought I would just log in and share an early Christmas I had.

I received these goods from Pangea on Friday. This is not a review of products, more just pointing out some interesting things I just picked up.

As you can see, I am still looking for the perfect cheese substitute.  I have come to the realization that there is nothing that taste like "cheese", so now I'm just looking for products I like.  Daiya is growing on me, but I never fell in love with this like everyone else.  The main purpose of this purchase was the Nacho Mom's  @VeganQueso.  I did crack this open today, and polished off half a jar. It was quite excellent.  I added some pickled jalapeños for a bit more kick, but overall a great purchase. There were a few other products I'd had my eye on.  The "We cant say its Cheese" was selected at the high recommendation of one of my vegans, as was the "Parma", which is all natural (walnuts, nooch, seasoning).  The "Primal" jerky has also been the subject of conversations. I'm saving those to try with my omni children.

So I could probably go on a wild explanation of why I chose each of these products, but I'll keep it simple and say that its just because they looked yummy, and nothing more.  In all honesty, I've really been craving Brussel Sprouts anyway.

Enjoy this brief blog entry, who knows where I may take the next one.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

My former life of debauchery

I wouldn't have necessarily written this blog entry a few months ago, but since I've been making the acquaintances of more and more vegans, I think its makes sense for me to describe a little bit more of my history (With respect to food of course, you really don't want me to get into my personal life, we could be here all night). The inspiration to write this entry stemmed from the utter disbelief that people had with my lack of knowledge of Brussel Sprouts (you heard me right).  I know I am dealing with a lot of people that are seasoned "vegans", and for all practical purposes, I still don't know much of what I am doing. I took a break from asking myself "why" all the time.  Now I'm just focusing on the "how", and I'm still trying to figure that out.  I'm getting a lot of great advice, a lot of terrific guidance and help, but its days like last Tuesday when I declared my sprout ignorance, and the overwhelming reaction was "what what WHAT????", that I felt it necessary to talk about where I came from.

I never knew how to describe my culinary taste to people, but I love(d) all foods, from simple, to complex. Fast foods, to gourmet. Processed like hell, full of sodium, high fructose corn syrup, saturated fat,.. mmmmmm gimme a spoon. My travels, all over the world have been evaluated solely based on the foods I ate.  Life was all about the food. It wasn't always pretty and exotic, but I loved what I ate, and if I didn't love it, I didn't eat it.  Plain and simple.

I've always been a funny eater.  I like to eat alone.  I've never been a huge fan of eating around other people. I'm also an impatient eater. I inhale food. I eat like the classic college guy, standing over the stove, eating out of the container that I cooked my food in.  Plates are for sissies.... And vegetables?  If they were not cooked to death, or covered in gravy or cheese, it was unlikely that I would be eating them.  I ate a lot of fast food, but later in life I did try to consciously cut back on it. Never-the-less, I still ate it. I'm getting a bit uneasy as I write this, because the memory is coming back.  The food for me was a drug, and I could not get it in my system fast enough.  I was fortunate enough to have been blessed with a metabolism to keep up, because there is no reason why I should not weight 350 now.
This sums me up in a nutshell, wish I would have drawn it

Yeah, Toby would love this

Laziness.  Lets just say the laziness influences my diet.  I'm working on it, but before I went vegan, my diet consisted mainly on items of convenience, hence an abundance of processed foods.  I would get inspired, cook, create,.. it wasn't out of the question, but it was not the norm.  Impatience. When I did get around to eating, I inhaled my food.  Two difficult traits to possesses.  Lazy and impatient.  From a food perspective, it does not bode well for a healthy lifestyle.

 Need I explain?

Yeah, I used to drive like this too.

Lazy and Impatient,.. that is a pretty toxic combination, but it generally ruled my diet. It had its moments influencing my life as well, but I'll save that for my "One Crabby Human" blog.  Lets talk food....

Breakfast - Rarely ate it.  Still have issue eating breakfasts. When I am not travelling, I work at home, which means I sleep until the last possible minute, and then head straight into my office. This means I cant be bothered to eat, or if I do it needs to be quick. When on the road, I may meet colleagues for breakfast, or fast food drive through.

Home; Bagel (speedy), Cereal, Pop tarts,  (rarely though, take too long to eat a bowl)

Travelling; McD'd Chicken biscuits, or sausage biscuits. Eggs, Bacon, Sausage, Biscuits, Gravy, love the big southern breakfast. etc.

Lunch - I ate lunch most of the time, but again, it was a meal I skipped a lot.  I mostly blamed work, being busy. When I used to go to the office, I didn't like lunching with people, so I opted to not go, and then get something out of a machine (mmmmmm Chili Cheese Fritos) because of pure starvation. At home? Sandwich. That is all I wanted for lunch, almost all of the time.

Home; sandwich (ham, salami, turkey, cheese). Leftover anything. Whatever was for dinner the night before, became lunch. Leftover pasta, pizza, frozen chicken patties/nuggets, Chef Boyardee straight out of the can (I was too impatient to heat it up). Sausage's of all kinds, I love every wurst.  I snacked on chips mainly, and yes did in fact eat a lot of PB&J's as well.

Travelling; Sandwich (Jimmy Johns, Jersey Mikes), Burgers, Pizza, Fries, BBQ.  I love(d) BBQ, I would normally seek out the 2 or 3 meat combo. Club sandwich, seemed to be my goto restaurant lunch.

Dinner - At this point if I hadn't eaten, and a lot of time I hadn't, I'm in a pretty lousy mood.  Couple that with impatience and laziness, and you can bet I'm going to open the fridge and grab something quick.  Now getting divorced and moving out on my own did not help my situation much.  I ate what my kids ate. Chicken nuggets, mac and cheese, cheese burgers, hot dogs, french fries.  We would eat on a small table in front of the the TV.  Once I got married, my wife took a lot of this over, and tried to balance things, but I would always request heavy meat based dishes, and i would pick through my veggies.  When I got fancy, I would make grand things, like a clam chowder, which contained maybe 20 sticks of butter, or a baked ziti with a thick bechemel sauce. I would do Paula Dean proud.

Home; Pizza, Pasta, Hot dogs, Sandwiches, Mac n Cheese, Cheese Quesadillas, Fried/BBQ Chicken. Cheese, lots of cheese. When I got fancy I would fry steaks, chops, etc. French fries, tater tots.

Travelling; Steak (Cowboy Ribeye my ultimate fav), Pizza, Fast Food, Mexican, Chinese, Japanese, Dives/Driven foods. I would map Guy Fieris exploits and follow them.

Vegetables??? As I mentioned, almost none.  Potatoes, corn (this was my I'm feeling guilty about not eating vegetables, vegetable). Salads? rare, if I had one, it would have cheese, and blue cheese dressing.  I watched a Jamie Oliver show where he went into the fattest town in the US to save them from themselves. He went into one families house and dumped all their food on the table, and commented on the color. Everything was beige/brown, there was no real color to it (I'll spare you that picture, it was pretty gross).  That was my diet.  I ate beige/brown foods, and stayed away from anything colorful.

Fast forward to April of 2010 where I adopt a diet devoid of all animal products.  Someone said to me, "Wow, I guess you have to love vegetables to be a vegan". Let me tell you, I had a panic attack when they said that.  Not only learning about veganism, but I have to learn about food, about vegetables. And I have to learn to like them.

So when I tweet about my ignorance of Brussel Sprouts, Kale, Parsnips, Persimmon, Squash, Sweet Potatoes (I discovered those about 6 months ago, and now I cant live without them).  Understand where I came from, and you'll understand why I'm asking.