So, one of my blogger BBFs and I decided to swap blog space and interview each other. She devised some questions for me to answer, I devised some questions for her, we picked yummy recipes from each other’s blogs. (You can read my interview here.)
Without further ado, let me introduce someone you already know (but certainly want to learn more about) the lovely Celine Steen, author of 500 Vegan Recipes, Vegan Substitutes and Hearty Vegan Meals.
1. At home, what do you use for baking/cooking: US or metric measurements?
I prefer using US for liquid, metric for solids. I channel my inner Meat Loaf and would do anything for love, which to me translates into keeping the amount of dirty dishes to a minimum, something that weighing stuff instead of measuring it helps accomplish.
2. What flavor combination have you reluctantly tried that has pleasantly surprised you?
I actually can’t think of anything that I reluctantly tried, because if it doesn’t appeal — I just won’t try it. Boring and unadventurous maybe, but hey. There are so many flavors out there that I feel it’d be a waste of a perfect meal to just force something unappealing in. By golly.
3. If you were rich and could have all your meals delivered, where would you get your food from?
My mom’s kitchen!
4. How long have you been vegan? What recipes where the big ones you absolutely had to convert immediately?
I went vegan about 6 years ago. I think in the beginning I just went for safe vegweb recipes and the ones found in books, probably How it all Vegan. Then I grew some hair on my chest and became more daring, making stuff from scratch and going from there. Oh now I remember: lasagna was the big thing for me, because my mom’s lasagna was the best, and it also was the first meal Chaz made for me when I came to visit him in the States. The vegan version makes my heart pitter-patter just as much as the other ones did, by the way. (No offense to Chaz or mom.)
5. What has been your worst baking/cooking disaster? Did you eat it anyway?
There’s one of those going on at least once a week over here, because while failure may not be an option, it will laugh in your face and happen to you whether you like it or not. But I almost always refuse to toss stuff out, unless it’s beyond vile. Lessee: I think one time, in my early baking days, I tried to mix some tofutti cheese slices into muffins, which resulted in some gooey, swamp creature worthy type of horror. Fun times! Trash time, in this case. What was I thinking?
6. Surprise! The coolest vegan restaurant in the world is, rightfully, madly in love with you. They decide to create a namesake meal in your honor. What would that meal be?
Will the restaurant wine me and dine me first, to see if we are a perfect match? Flowers would be a nice touch, too.
Even though I clearly have to have desserts or the day didn’t happen, I can’t help but lean toward the one weakness I’ve had all my life: perfect French fries. Crispy outside, tender inside, salty, not too greasy. Oh yeah, that’s the stuff.
7. Nomnomnom… you have been a recipe writing machine. What do you do to balance all of creative craziness so you don’t have a “The Shining” moment?
I drink red rum.
And I also have to work out, work out, work out. Not only does it make room for more food, but it also helps me clear my head from any unnecessary junk.
8. If you could do a cookie swap with any famous vegan, who would it be? What kind of cookies would you make them?
Miss Mo! She’s made of 100% kickassitude, and she also happens to have the same first name as my mom. If I had any cookie icing skills, I’d go for something Whedonesque on a tasty sugar cookie. Maybe a portrait of Riley Finn, or something.
9. When you are spending a long day in the kitchen, what do you listen to/watch to keep yourself pumped?
I’m really into 12 Rounds, Nine Inch Nails and PJ Harvey right now. Angsty music makes for perfectly kneaded bread dough, for real.
As far as the watching bit goes, I just finished the 7th season of Buffy for the [insert crazy number here]th time and am ready to dive right back in. Send help.
10. Are your kitties taste-testers? What is the most unusual thing one of you cats has sampled?
Dear god no. NO! If they taste-test, I inevitably pay for it later. Enough said.
11. Quick! I’m coming over in 1 hour and you’re going to make me lunch. Using just what you have on hand, what’s on the menu?
Cobb salad and crab cakes. And banana bread. And a quesadilla for later, if you’re good.
12. Okay, it’s me (Kris), so something about Trader Joe’s has to come up. What’s your favorite goodie from TJs?
One of them cute cashiers will do just fine. Or if we really are talking about food, it’s tough to choose one: but I really like their “colon blaster” muffins, as Chaz calls them. You know, the ones that are fiber rich and packed with raspberries, blueberries, or mango?
13. When you come to present at Vida Vegan next year, where do you absolutely have to eat while in Portland?
As far as food goes, I know that anywhere will be perfect because there hasn’t been a single disappointing restaurant visit when I was there the first time, but the one thing that has been on my mind ever since I left is of the liquid courage persuasion: a Bye & Bye* is first on my to-do list. August can’t be here soon enough.
*coincidentally (or maybe not), The Bye & Bye is where I met Celine IRL for the first time.
While I was tempted to fill a stockpot with Chocolate PB Syrup and drink it with a straw, I decided to exercise some self restraint. I can never get enough chocolate or pumpkin, so I recently whipped up Celine’s Pumpkin Chocolate Brownie Cake. It’s a super nom-tastic cake you can feel good about eating because Celine is a tasty-treat ninja like that.
Non-stick cooking spray
1/4 cup (60 ml) plain soymilk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup (60 g) whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup (63 g) all-purpose flour or 1/2 cup (60 g) whole-wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup (67 g) granulated sugar or 1/3 cup (64 g) Sucanat
1/3 cup (73 g) packed light brown sugar or 1/3 cup (64 g) Sucanat
2 tablespoons (10 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup (122 g) pumpkin purée
1/4 cup (61 g) unsweetened applesauce
3 tablespoons (45 ml) canola oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup (58 g) nondairy semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C, or gas mark 4). Lightly coat an 8-inch (20-cm) square baking pan with spray.
Combine vinegar and soymilk in a medium bowl: it will curdle and become like buttermilk. In a large bowl, sift together flours, baking powder, baking soda, sugars, cocoa, spices, and salt. Whisk pumpkin purée, applesauce, oil, and vanilla into the buttermilk mixture, until combined.
Fold wet ingredients into dry, being careful not to over mix. Fold in chocolate chips. Place batter into prepared pan.
Bake for 23 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan, on a wire rack. Remove from pan after at least 30 minutes. Enjoy at room temperature or cold.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Squirrel’s Vegan KitchenGo back in time to my original blog: Squirrel’s Vegan Kitchen!
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