Defensive Eating with Morrissey: Vegan Recipes from the One You Left Behind by Automne Zingg
My rating: 3/5 cats
WELCOME TO MARCH PROJECT
the cartoons in this book are outstanding. however, i am one of the least vegan-y people on the planet. if it’s not covered in cheese, why would i put it in my mouth? and yet, something about this book calls to me, so i’m going to give it the benefit of the doubt. i might cheat a little bit, because margarine is gross, and some of these products are probably expensive and then i’ll just be stuck with some icky pricey half-jar of…whatever this stuff is, so i will either skip the recipe altogether (i’m not buying lavender essence or rosewater, for example), or i will sneak in some of the good stuff – i will NEVER use a fake cheese product. ever. but some of the recipes seem straightforward enough, so i will concentrate my attentions there. sorry, morry…
SPICY KALE & SWEET POTATOES
this is not a very good picture. i’m all old school with my little camera that doesn’t also make phone calls, and sometimes the light in my apartment combined with ancient technology makes photos look a bit washed out, causing vegetables that were exceptionally glossy and colorful to look anemic and sad. and you may be wondering as you read this,“but where is the kale?” oh, i’ll show you the kale.
there’s the kale.
and that’s one of my first complaints with this cookbook so far (apart from the factual-but-not-very-fun name of the recipe. greg suggested it be called “the boy with the kale in his side,” and then went on a riff replacing words from number of different smiths/morrissey song titles with the word “kale” which was exactly as sidesplitting as it sounds). these recipes, from what i have gleaned from skim-flipping, are not very precise. these proportions seem insane: 2 heads of kale to 2 c of sweet potatoes. that’s a lot of kale. and the cooking methods are imprecise:
Cook sweet potatoes in olive oil with salt, pepper, and paprika until browned and crispy (doesn’t really matter whether on stove top or oven.) Separately, cook greens with onion, garlic, lime juice, red onion, chili powder, cumin, coriander, and salt and pepper.
doesn’t it matter? where should i cook the greens? i chose to roast the sweet potatoes in the oven and then remove them and roast the kale and that, but i think it would have been much better if i had tossed the greens in a stir-fry pan and done ‘em that way, because the flavors would have blended better, and the components would have been soft and mulchy instead of crispy kale studded with raw onion power.
this is why directions need to be clear, because SOME PEOPLE decide that the hands-off roasting method would be preferable so that mangoes can be cut and dishes can be washed in the meantime without thinking about pros and cons and outcomes because of being so sleepy and THESE PEOPLE need a cookbook to be very bossy and direct.
anyway, it was spicy and tasty and all, and very pretty
but i think it would have been better if i’d roasted the sweet potatoes (also, more sweet potatoes, less kale – this is only 1 1/2 of those bunches and it’s still too much) and sauteed the greens n onions and stuff. sean of the house even had a bite, despite railing against both sweet potatoes and kale. and it’s not like an irish catholic fella has much of a choice on a friday night during lent. this recipe makes a lot, though. so tonight i’m getting a rotisserie chicken and turning these into flesh-filled tortillas. sorry, book.
two more complaints:
1)i had to go to FOUR places to find ground coriander, which is not cool.
2) the recipe itself has nothing to do with morrissey, except when its last sentence makes a lame attempt at tying it to the theme by, apropos of nothing at all, stating: And no, I cannot steal a pair of jeans off a clothesline for you. which is from what might be my very favorite morrissey song, so i’m especially peeved at the half-assery. i suspect greg may have written this book.
peas. the name of this recipe is peas. way to phone it in. but it certainly is peas.
i have not actually eaten it yet, because it is meant to be served cold, so that’s happening right now and i will report back.
the recipe just said to roast the garlic and then “cool and peel” it, but it didn’t say anything else, so i guess it’s supposed to have huge cloves of roasted garlic plopped throughout. doesn’t bother me, but people sitting next to me on the subway might frown.
i’m not sure what the last part of the recipe means:
works well with arugula or other tasty greens.
should the arugula be substituted for the peas, or should the pea dish should be served on top of greens? either way, mint and arugula seems like a suspicious flavor combo.
once again, the hat-tip to morrissey is clumsy:
Okay! Now mix all ingredients together and season to taste.
Simple but great. You’ll feel like you’re being transported from this unhappy planet with all the carnivores and the destructors on it.
do you not see how the illustrator did it? let her be your example in food/moz integration!
update: i have eaten it. it is fine. you know what it tastes like? peas. it tastes like peas. minty peas.
i let it marinate overnight. in the REFRIGERATOR
and there it is:
the recipe instructed me to “be fairly liberal with the salt” and to “go light on the vinegar.” i wish i had switched these two around.
more vague instructions: 2 to 3 tablespoons herbs, minced
i used parsley and oregano because that’s what i had fresh on hand because of this book.
more lazy tying of recipe to morrissey: Place in fridge for a few hours or overnight. Make sure to adjust seasonings so you don’t wind up with a disenchanted taste running ’round.
again, refer to the illustration to learn how to do this properly. drawing = funny. recipe = not funny. and too salty, dude! and i like salt! was i too liberal?
i’m playing this cookbook pretty safe so far by just making vegetable dishes that don’t have any vegan trickery in them where they try to pass something off as a meat substitute. if you like asparagus, you’ll like this.
if you like talented photographers, you should probably look elsewhere.
points granted for at least trying to make the morrissey lyric fit into the recipe:
Roast at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar, and then mix again.
You can cook it for less time, if desired.
But with a bit more time and a few more gentler words and looking back we will forgive.
points subtracted because it’s a bit forced and it made proust cry.
i was very excited to use the gunpowder salt erica sent me, because it made for a more dramatic salted rim.
also, not bad for baby’s first salted rim. full disclosure – i am not a fancy person who owns a shaker for alcohol, so this whole procedure was accomplished through the wonders of tupperware and a pasta strainer. and this is my version of a martini glass. it holds more. probably far less fancy than what morrissey gets up to, but if this is what being vegan is all about, i may have to reconsider. until i hear the siren call of fontina. pretty good morrissey lyric-use in this one: Have a drink and join me, join me, join me. I’m certain I heard you cry.
this one was wicked good, but it takes some time. you have to make a sauce, sauté some onions, make a batter, fry some eggplant, assemble a sandwich. but most of your time will be spent trying to figure out where the red peppers the ingredient list calls for are supposed to go, because the recipe itself never mentions them. i wasn’t sure if i should fry them up with the onions or add them to the purée of artichokes and herbs and all that. i opted for purée, and i regret nothing.
i made the sauce super spicy, and i would definitely make it again. maybe without the whole curry/flour/water batter-paste on the eggplant. i really like eggplant so i’m happy enough to save some time and dirty dishes and just cook the eggplant with olive oil and salt. the morrissey-nod is particularly weak this time, especially since the one in the art above is perfection: You’re probably wondering what sort of bread to use. I would recommend baguette or other grinder-style bread for this. A crack on the head is what you get for not asking.
i have never made bread before. but if there’s one thing i know about bread, it’s that it needs butter. soft, salty, delicious, dairy-laden butter. vegan bread is all well and good, and for my first time out, it tasted fine, but dusting cornmeal over the top just makes a dry, dusty top
i feel like a pilgrim. or a pioneer. the recipe manages to quote both morrissey and the smiths, so points are given: Allow dough to rise until it has doubled and the air hangs heavy like a dulling wine (about an hour and a half: maybe less, maybe more).
but points are taken away because all of the recipe titles feel inspired by a dulling wine.
the recipe called for agave or maple syrup, and i found maple-flavored agave, so BOOM! winner! also, i thought i had bought vanilla-flavored almond milk creamer, but turns out there was also coconut in the mix. i had a sip of it before i added it to the pan and holy moly – delicious! it was seven dollars, so it’s not going to be an everyday treat, but it still gets a thumbs up. as does the cocoa itself
but i’m not going to drink it straight out of a saucepan; i’m not an animal! but this is!
look, erica! the mug you sent me WORKS!
the drink was outstanding, the morrissey tie-in more groanworthy than usual: So, you’ve been dreaming of a rich, decadent hot chocolate? I don’t believe you. You don’t dream about anyone except yourself. Well, now you can! c-minus for humor and awkward grammar/syntax/all of it. but an a-plus drink, it must be said. in an a-plusplus mug.
i may have gone to the non-vegan vegetable store by accident. oh, how these carrots screamed! oh, and pretend this is there amongst the ingredients, because i forgot to snag it from the cupboards for the group photo:
here’s what the veggies looked like after they FINALLY stopped whimpering:
many root vegetables gave their lives for this endeavor, but the biggest loss of the day was my casserole dish:
which, depending on how long you have been on here, you may remember was an ordeal to even get my hands on during the great casserole dish famine of, oh i dunno, 2015 maybe? at any rate, a moment of silence, please, for sprouts and crockery.
breaking the silence so the recipe can butt in: You probably thought I would have you make something overly complicated, but oh, I’m not the man you think I am.
another moment of silence to digest that
and now we can move on.
i was set to make these on friday, but after getting a late start because i thought i had ginger on hand and i did not, nor did i have enough brown sugar (are there spice goblins in my cupboards?) i made the batter and got to the point where it said “cover and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours until firm” and i was all “NOOOOO!” because when you go to work at 5 am, you conk out early, so these had to be a saturday afternoon treat. and they were indeed treats:
to tie this into morrissey on my own dime – some cats are better than others. i didn’t have enough dough left for another cat, so i made a cat-poop.
it looked more like poop when it was batter.
this was my first experience using coconut oil (which i found for half of what i paid for it when i went on that ginger/brown sugar run, grrr), and it was a little tricky but now i get it and i’ll do better by it next time. also, spices – why are you so difficult lately? the spices are in four different places in the store closest to me, and yet they rarely have what i need. what gives, store? they only had one ginger on offer, and while i’m no spice snob, a lady likes to have options. even though i frequently shake my tiny fist at how expensive spices are, i also don’t love having to buy the cheap-o kind. oh, well. it made the cookies, and they tasted good, although better when they were warm. they are reminiscent of hermits, but without the raisins and the gooey cakelike texture.
i honestly don’t know why this is in the book. unless there’s some morrissey b-side/deep cut about ALF, i just don’t get it. this is all the recipe divulges: You may have loved ALF, hated ALF, or never heard of ALF. He ate a steady diet of cats and this truth is a central part of your mind’s landscape whether you care or do not*. and later: Frost if you like**, adding coconut, cinnamon, or chocolate to the top to make a variety of different, tasty looking cats that ALF would approve of.***
is this recipe just so that vegans can eat cats? or to offer a vegan alternative should ALF come for dinner? because i think there are a handful of non-vegans (myself included) who eat meat but disapprove of eating housecats. everyone’s got a line in the sand.
all footnotes are mine, not the book’s
* but not part of your mind’s landscape if you have never heard of ALF
** i chose not to
*** of which ALF would approve
please be careful with this recipe – you want to use pearl barley, not pearl bailey
you know you love me.
anyway, here’s some vegan porridge, foo:
shot from above, not coincidentally from the vantage point of someone in the throes of pouring their illness out upon the ground
and now, decorated with parsley, as the recipe demands:
how does it taste? i dunno, it’s porridge. i made this more for sean of the house than for me because he already eats this sort of thing. i tried a bite, but i’m not sure how i feel about oatmeal and grains mixing with onions and herbs. seems suspicious.
the book insists:
Porridge is highly underrated, more than you’ll ever know. Much more fabulous than regular gruel, it has sustained many a pauper or trodden-upon sort of person over the centuries. I would say, “please sir, you’ll want some more.” But that joke isn’t funny anymore.
okay, i’m back and i have FOUR vegan experiments to post. it’s been that kind of week; time to buy ingredients, make and eat food, but no time to document it. i am so not cut out for modern life.
if you squint, you can see that i caved and bought lavender. or, rather, sean of the house bought me some lavender since he was already going to trader joe’s. joke’s on him, though, because internet lied and said they had it and they did not, so he valiantly went to many different places in order to find it, ending up at the farmer’s market where he also had to buy a bottle of lavender essence to meet their credit card minimum. he was very heroic and i didn’t have the heart to tell him it wasn’t that big of a deal and i would have just made something else. but so now i have lavender essence and i can make that recipe i railed against in part one if i want to. i’d also need to buy rosewater and i don’t know if i want to commit to a flower-based diet. but i also don’t know what else to do with this lavender extract, or the rest of the bag of lavender. “researching flowers-as-food” is another thing i didn’t have time for this week. but i did make this, so moving on…
the troublesome lavender at least gave me the opportunity to use and show off some of my animal-shaped infusers:
OUR TUMMIES ARE FILLED WITH LAVENDER!!!
this is a very aromatic fruit mash and i’m glad i made it. it’s an unusual flavor-mulch, and i used it on the last of the vegan bread i made
it made lots more than what is in that mug, so i have to get more bready vehicles for it. or just sit here with a spoon and nom on it. or, as the recipe suggests: Use on toast or biscuits, which will cheer you up, and I haven’t seen you smile in a while.
tell me about it, recipe…
this makes…a giant bowl of cereal!
i now have way more flax seeds than i know what to do with. i’m not sure how i feel about quinoa as a cold cereal. when you add milk, it just sponges it all up and then you have a bowl of cold soggy grain and some trail mix.
the book advised me to “enjoy with my favorite milks.” so i did. go on, ask me if my favorite milk is vegan. ask me, ask me, ask me. ask me, ask me, ask meeeeeee.
the book also advised me: You can add whatever else you like: money, jewelry, or flesh.
which seems like exactly the wrong lyric to quote in a vegan cookbook, but what do i know?
so, this was fun. i have never worked with spring roll wrappers before, except in an “eat the yummy spring rolls” capacity. i was pleased enough to have located them in the neighborhood, but then when i got them home, i was all “what is this thing and how to i make it be flexible?” i watched a youtube video long enough to discover “soak in warm water for a minute” is the answer, but i didn’t watch the rest of the video, because who has that kind of leisure time? i might try to watch it again in some time-glutted future, because i do not think i did this right. i felt like i was in a postapocalyptic sex ed class, where not only do you have to put the condom on the banana, but you also have to make the condom. spring roll wrappers are wily. the recipe instructed me to Roll up nicely in those spring roll wrappers, good n tight. You do not want liquid seeping out. It might getcha! i don’t think i was getched, but i also don’t think there was much liquid in these little buggers at the end of this process
do you see liquid?
they were tasty enough, but i do not think i did this recipe any justice. i have a ton of wrappers left, so maybe i will give it a take-two, after educating myself properly.
the book’s morrissey nod for this one: Place them carefully in hot oil (around 375 degrees). Don’t be afraid. This beautiful creature must die! Fry in the oil, turning once, until nicely browned. Keep an eye on these bananas you so fancifully fry to make sure they don’t burn.
not the best, not the worst.
it’s pancake night!
enjoy the spectrum of colors from burnt to acceptable as i learn the quirks of vegan pancakes and what happens to batter without the buffer of butter. the tongue twister is free. it’s your last dollar, after all, a place quite familiar to me these days. recipe claims: if you make these with water instead of milk, it may really only cost your last dollar. it’s true – this is a pretty cheap recipe, but only because i’d already bought the coconut oil for the other recipe, because that was more than eight dollars right there. i had all the ingredients on hand except the applesauce, so this cost me $3.69. let the record show that if i had made regular pancakes with eggs and butter and cowmilk, i would have spent zero dollars. and let the record show that i thoughtfully opted not to put butter on these dollar cakes but i did pour some honey on when i ran out of maple syrup because i’m not a saint.
and now for everyone’s favorite part of these reports: Everyone loves pancakes. Isn’t it a bummer when you make pancakes for your friends in the morning and “someone” doesn’t want any?! Rejection is one thing but rejection from a fool is cruel.
that fabricated scenario was a long walk to get to a morrissey quote.
one week left to this project! i will try to crank out at least four more recipes, if time and energy cooperate!
i have made cookies!
they are very crumbly cookies, but they taste real good – sweet and nutty. they almost did not live long enough to be photographed, as sean of the house was being driven mad with greed at their aroma, but i managed to distract him for long enough to arrange them onto a plate and capture the moment.
morrissey tie-in: Cool on a wire rack before eating and don’t lose faith (you know it’s gonna happen someday). Of course, if you do lose faith just have some fun and eat them while still warm.
i don’t think these are ever going to work, but at least the cookies are yummy.
the only thing missing from this mise-photo is tamarind paste. i went to SEVEN different places and no one had any, but i don’t even really like that stuff, so i figure the universe was doing me a favor.
anyway, here are some BEANS
beans on toast with scallions
beans on toast with scallions and HP sauce
what does the moz say? Remove bouquet garni (it’s just passing through this world on its way to somewhere civilized).
BOTH ON TOAST
BOTH ON TOAST WITH BITES
this recipe is very unspecific. everything is “to taste” or “as needed.” ordinarily, i would appreciate the faith in my tasting and needing abilities, but i was a little confused about what it was i was even making; “spread” being itself unspecific (and why photographs are always appreciated in a cookbook). i wasn’t really sure what “spread” was – if it was meant to be put on toast or used as a dip of sorts, nor was i sure how firm this would get once it was chilled (for another unspecified amount of time). for the strawberry spread, i was told to use: 1 cup vegan cream cheez, tofu or coconut cream (fix up with lemon juice) what does “fix up” mean? does it apply to all three options or just the coconut cream? and is that in addition to the 1 tsp lemon juice that follows? and why would anyone ingest something called “vegan cream cheez?”
for the chocolate spread, i was told to use 1/2 cup peeled hazelnuts (soak them overnight, then drain) but are these raw, or should i roast them at some point? salt was “to taste,” cocoa and vegan creamer were “more if needed” and “as needed,” but i have never needed vegan creamer before this project – how do i know how much i will need now? 3 or 4 tablespoons of jam, a pinch or two of nutmeg – why won’t you commit, recipe??
the recipe itself, once the ingredients were (more or less) listed, was vague in tasking and lazy in morrisseying: Blend stuff for strawberry spread, and then chill. Blend stuff for chocolate spread, and then chill. Don’t just hang around til you can be enticed inside, now you can have both!
i chose poorly – the strawberry is a little too sweet, the chocolate a little too bitter. it’s easily fixed, but now i am so full of self-doubt, i’m going to have to go listen to the smiths and mope a bit.
two more days in the month, but probably only one more recipe, realistically.
and here it is! the last one!
SWEET AND TENDER
this is one i knew i had to make from the get-go, because it sounded so gross, and also difficult to make. not because of skills required, but because of gravity and stuff like that. let’s discuss flavors first: tofu, peaches, bread crumbs, soy sauce, garlic, bbq sauce, brown sugar, flour, baking powder, soy milk or broth, salt, pepper, dried mixed herbs, oil. is this sweet or savory? what will it be?
and then the directions confused me; when they said, “Slice tofu into 4 slices,” does that mean in rectangle-chunks or thin slabs? i opted for slabs, because of the following directions: Sprinkle with soy sauce, coat in barbecue sauce, sprinkle with garlic cloves, place peach slice on top of each, and sprinkle with brown sugar. so everything has to balance, which to me seems easier on a slab (oh, and i only made one of these, because i didn’t want to commit to 4 if they were gross):
and it is very pretty
but then you have to make a batter and dip the tofu-peach concoction into the batter, then dredge it into a bread crumb-herb mixture and then fry it, somehow keeping the minced garlic and slippery peaches from sliding off into frytown on their own.
i did a better job than i thought i would, so i took many photos in self-congratulatory revelry:
but i was still scared to taste it
turns out it’s not so bad, and you could even pass it off as grilled cheese if you were doing an easter/april fool’s day prank tomorrow
i will probably never make it again, but it was not unpleasant in my mouth. although the person writing these recipes is a little all over the place with the flavors: Good with peach or mango chutney, salsa, gravy (of course), marinara, sweet & sour sauce, etc.
Or lay the sweet and tender baby on a bed of kreemy garlic mashed potatoes and devour thems.
and, naturally, the recipe is interrupted with: Take a brief moment to remember that in the midst of life, we are in death, etc.
so i managed to do 19 of the 43 recipes, which isn’t too bad, and some i might even make again (chocolate, sandwich, cookies, refrigerator). i had other recipes marked as possibilities, but there aren’t any i deeply regret not being able to get to.
i do regret not getting to share some of the morrissey-drawings, though, so here are a few worth calling out:
and, for greg:
right now, i’m going to say i probably won’t do the nick cave-version of this book: Comfort Eating with Nick Cave: Vegan Recipes to Get Deep Inside of You, but never say never, right? i still have some tofu leftover, after all…