Broke Food: Pancakes!

I love Belgium and all, and I don't mean to be a bratty American, but oh man, was my Thanksgiving ever LAME! 12€ (which is twice my daily budget) for mashed potatoes with pumpkin in it and some lingonberry sauce at this terribly hip club for ex-pats. I would have made something myself, but not having the money nor apartment space to cook for everyone, I decided to go where everyone else was going...bad idea. Next year I'm having a real Thanksgiving, come hell or high water, and I will even get a you-tubed version of this year's Macy's parade and some football americano...

I was consoled, however, by a) free drink tickets and b) fantasizing about what glorious good eats I will cook up over my brief sojourn in the USA over the holidays. Not only will I have access to all my lovely cookbooks and pantry staples, but my little brother will be in residence as a sous chef... and you know I will be cooking up some latkes, pot pies, brunch goodies, plus all the goodies I missed on Thanksgiving. So, there's that to look forward to. Plus all the mouthwatering food in the blog-o-sphere... as usual, Team Vegan does not disappoint.

AT ANY RATE... still as poor as a Charles Dickens/ Victor Hugo character, so have been subsisting on many boring and simple meals such as oatmeal and lentils (but not together.) The next few blog posts will explore some new dirt-cheap meal alternatives, and though I still have no camera, I eat these items often enough to have a million pictures of them.

I never realized before how little time and money it takes to make pancakes from scratch. When you don't have any fruits or veggies, a little flour and soymilk and you still have something great. More importantly, when you do have fruits and veggies, you can transform them into something really special (and more crucially, filling and leftover-producing.) Here's my standard recipe (approx, as have no great measuring tools yet), plus variations:

1 C. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
pinch salt
3/4 C. soymilk
1 tbsp. sweetener
1 tbsp. oil or melted margarine

-Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir until "just mixed." (You can also do the seperate bowl for wet/dry ingredients thing, although my research suggests this does not matter so long as you assemble your ingredients promptly.) Drop by the ladleful onto a medium hot greased skillet. Serve with syrup or whatev.

VARIATIONS: You can pretty much put anything in pancakes, which makes it ideal when you have like, 1 rotting pear on the shelf. You may have to adjust the liquid or flour, but essentially you just need to chop something into small pieces and figure out appropriate accompaniment. Examples...

Apple Onion Curry Pancakes - cut up an apple and a small onion and add to the mix, ommiting the sweetener. Add in 1 and 1/2 tsp curry powder. Serve with mango chutney and soy yogurt.
Banana Oatmeal pancakes- Replace 1/4 of the cup of flour with oatmeal flakes. Mash in a banana with wet ingredients. Add in a dash of nutmeg and cinnamon. (I've also made this with a rotting pear, and it was great.)
Cowboy Corncakes - Recipe here!

Pumpkin or squash pancakes- make like the banana pancakes and add in mushed leftover pumpkin or squash. This one can be sweet or savory depending on what's on hand.

I secretly suspect you can make almost anything into pancakes, and I intend to try it more as I get more and more desperate. Carrot pancakes? Mushroom pancakes? Brussels Sprouts pancakes? Why not... Yes, on my gravestone, please write: "Here lies T, she made everything into pancakes."

Song of the Day: Trude Herr- Ich will Keine Schokolade


Last Minute Thanksgiving Ideas

Well, they don't celebrate Thanksgiving in Belgium. I guess this isn't all that incredibly strange, since nothing about the colonist/Native American encounter has any real parallels in Belgian history, but still, I'm a bit disappointed. Its even a school day! Apparently an ex-pat club is having a big thanksgiving dinner at this fancy night-club with a menu including "pumpkin mashed potatoes." What? Come on Europeans, you're doing it wrong.

Anyways, here's what would have been on the menu at MY dream Thanksgiving.

1.) Glühwein!

A favorite in Christmas Markets in Germany, this is basically mulled wine: hot wine with spices and a little rum. Its totally delicious and a great start to the meal. My boyfriend's famous recipe is HERE. (Incidentally, hope to be enjoying that in Berlin in a few weeks!)
Another holiday cocktail? The Zombie, a trashy tiki classic with lots of holiday elements (cinnamon! citrus! rum!).

2. Roasted Golden Beet Salad with Beet Happening Dressing

Thinly sliced golden beets tossed in a simple marinade and roasted in the oven, then served over spinach salad with pecans with the leftover marinade as a dressing. Delicious, seasonal and gorgeous.

The dressing/ marinade:
Combine in a food processor: 2 chopped shallots, 1/3 C. Balsamic vinegar, 3 T. maple syrup, pinch of salt and pepper. Drizzle in 1/3 C. Olive oil until blended.

3. Aunt Mary's Sweet Potatoes

A vegan version of my Aunt Mary's sweet potatoes have been my thanksgiving favorite since... oh, forever? So simple and delicious, and a great alternative to the marshmellow covered southern-style dish.

Apple-Pecan Sweet Potatoes

2 (big) Cans Sweet potatoes in syrup
Brown sugar
2 Apples
Earth Balance

1. Preheat oven to 375. Pour out your sweet potatoes, reserving a few tablespoons of the syrup. Mash them in a medium casserole dish with the syrup, a little soymilk, and a tablespoon of brown sugar. (Whip 'em if you feel like it.) Next, slice your apples into thin, lengthwise slices, and cover the sweet potato mixture. Last, roughly chop the pecans and mix them with a fork with about 2 tablespoons earth balance and 1 1/2 tbs brown sugar. When this mixture is crumbly and the pecans are fairly coated, sprinkle this evenly over top of the apples. Bake until brown and bubbly on top.

4. Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Mushroom Gravy
People are devoted to their own mashed potato recipes, so all I have to contribute is that, to fancy things up, I like to add a whole head of roasted garlic into the mix when I blend the potatoes with earth balance and soymilk. And it just wouldn't be the same without Dreena Burton's mushroom gravy recipe, although I have to say I can't find the recipe online. I suspect it wouldn't matter, because like meat gravy, everyone is convinced that THEIR mushroom gravy is the best. (Dreena's really is though!)

5. Veganomicon Seitan Pot Pies

An instant classic from Isa and Terry, these pot pies are perfect for when there are just a few vegetarians at the table, and you want to make all the turkey-eaters incredibly jealous.


So no Thanksgiving for me, but at least I will be home over winter break and cooking up a storm with my vegetarian brother. Hope everyone has an amazing holiday week, with a minimum of relatives asking you if you've "given up on this whole vay-gun thing yet." I'll be looking forward to drooling (/sobbing) over delicious pictures in the weeks to come.

In the meantime, here are a few more places to look for vegetarian Thanksgiving guides, just to get even more excited:
The Epicurious Guide
The Times has been super veg-friendly this season, and has a zillion recipes.
Vegan.com's Thanksgiving Feast
Bryanna Clark Grogan's Holiday Recipes


Dammit, Janet!

My bloody camera is broken!

And its a shame, because I've been cooking such weird and good food lately, especially soups. (Cheap! Hot! Long-Lasting!)

However, will have use of a new camera soon and anticipate using it for various baking experiments with my crazy European oven. In the meantime, I will just be spying on everyone else's blogs and crying about Europe's mystifying lack of Thanksgiving.