“How can a nation be called great if its bread tastes like kleenex?” ― Julia Child

My very first loaf of bread! The "Whole Grain Seed Bread" from the Vegan Richa site. A delicious, crunchy top-crust made from a cornstarch "egg" wash and lightly sprayed with oil before baked. This loaf makes some of the best toast I've ever had! Delightfully rustic and crunchy and so much better than any store-bought bread, even Dave's! 

Hello, blog. We have had an up and down relationship these past few years, no? For quite a stretch we had a hot and heavy love affair, there's no denying it. I must have posted three times a day back in 2007! If one was to unroll you like a parchment your length might stretch all the way to Eugene by now. But, long as it was, that honeymoon period was not to last. Eventually I wearied of the pressure to be interesting and to report every thought and sight that flew past or through my head. Enough was enough, I thought to myself crossly, I need to disengage from this thing, this succubus that claims my time when there are other things to do! I need some privacy and some room to express myself in other ways. I also needed to write a novel.

And so I took a break, and nourished my solitary nature, and quit my customer service job, and wrote the novel. It was fantastic, and it was hard. Along the way my back sort of gave out and for two of the last four years I've been in constant, debilitating pain. But I can write lying down, and so I wrote on, and on, and on. It seemed to take forever to write that book, largely because I had to learn how to do it! I had no time for anything else. But, now that the book is finished, a new passion has emerged: cooking. I feel passionate about it because I have discovered that the way you eat can fight so many terrible things: it fights aging and it fights corporate greed. It fights cancer, and it fights global warming. In some ways food is the most trans-formative political revolution there is! And it tastes good!

I have always loved food. I remember when I was four years old thinking to myself, "When I grow up I will be able to make a sandwich any time I want!" Then, I grew up and I did just that. The only problem is, too many sandwiches makes you sick and fat. And it wasn't only the sandwiches that I loved. I won't go into more details because those sad and awkward days are long gone and it just depresses me to talk about them, but suffice it to say that before I understood about a vegan lifestyle, I had an extreme love/hate relationship with food, and it was exhausting.

It was a pig that turned me vegan. Actually, I only turned vegetarian at that point, it would be another couple of years before my eyes were opened to the cruelty of the egg and dairy industry. The pig that turned me veggie was a pour soul in a movie called "Brother's Keeper". It was a very good movie, a documentary about some very strange and compelling brothers who lived on a crude, rural farm, and there was a scene where they slaughtered a pig. But it wouldn't die. The poor thing just staggered around, confused and frightened for minutes upon minutes on end. It's pink skin and bewildered face were so human it shocked me. It was like watching a child be killed. It really shook my soul, and I immediately swore off all meat.

I've always loved animals, almost more than anything else. As a child in the hippy housetruck with my parents I spent hours and days and weeks in the forest, in the fields, along the rivers and creeks, all over the nation. I was alone in nature, except for the animals. Playing by myself in the trees, in the grass, in the water, I truly felt a part of it all. When we rejoined civilization I found ways to be with animals and help them. I volunteered for years at different stables, worked with a large animal vet in junior high, and gave a portion of my allowance every month to Greenpeace. One day, standing in a circus protest at the Lane County Fairgrounds I met a young man who quickly educated me on the horrors of the dairy and egg industries. That day I became vegan, that was 15 years ago and I've never looked back.

As an amazing side benefit to becoming vegan: I also lost weight and got healthy. I realized that I could LOVE FOOD and not be harmed by it. In fact, I could he healed by it! I watched movies and read articles on the benefits of the lifestyle and learned that not only does it heal serious illness and spare the animals, but it also means the end of illness. Truly! I haven't been sick in four years, I've never had a flu shot, and except for my stupid back pain, I feel great! And I'm about to turn 49, people! A plant-based lifestyle also does not support big pharmaceutical companies, or predatory hospitals, or cause global warming or use obscene amounts of water the way animal "agriculture" does. Win win win win win!

So my newest passion is cooking clean, and spreading the word. And as I am a HUGE fan of the "Great British Bake Off" show, I am inspired to veganize their fabulous recipes. There is a "GBBO-Bake-Along" group on facebook that I belong to where I will post the results of my efforts, feel free to check it out! It is possible to make meringues, pastries, custards and creams DAIRY FREE! Along the way I want to perfect my baking skills, and learn how to make fancy, vegan, sugar-free desserts, because sugar causes inflammation, just like meat and dairy do, and inflammation can lead to cancer.
My ultimate goal is to reproduce nearly anything, in a clean and healthy version.

So join me as I post pics of the vegan recipes I love, and the non-vegan recipes I convert, and give them a try yourself!  Food is such a great way to reach someone in a positive manner, and to possibly change the world. Maybe you'll love some of the recipes so much you'll donate some of your results to a charity bake sale!

Come join the very delicious revolution, and bon appetit!

Whole Grain Seed Bread Recipe
Allergen Information: Free of Dairy, egg, soy, nut. can be made corn-free. Makes one large bread loaf (9 inch by 5 inch pan)
Ingredients:
1/2 + 1 cup warm water, divided
1 tbsp active yeast
1.5 Tbsp maple or 1 tbsp sugar
1 1/5 cup spelt or wheat flour
2  to 2 1/4 cups unbleached white flour
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 tablespoons flax seeds or flaxseed meal
2 tbsp non dairy yogurt
1 tbsp oil
2 tbsp millet or other small grain like amaranth, quinoa
2 tbsp sesame seeds
2 tbsp sunflower seeds
2 tbsp oats
For the cornstarch (vegan egg) wash:
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp cornstarch
Method:
In a bowl, combine 1/2 cup warm water, maple/sugar and yeast. Mix and let sit until frothy 5 minutes.
In a stand mixer, add flours and salt and mix well. Add the yeast mixture, yogurt, 1 cup water, oil, flax and knead for 3 to 5 minutes or until smooth. Add more flour if needed.
Place the kneaded dough in a large oiled container. cover with a towel and let it rise for an hour ot until doubled.
Meanwhile, toast the millet over medium heat for a minute, add sesame seeds and continue to toast for another minute. Take off heat and keep aside.
Punch the dough down. Add half of the millet sesame seed mixture, 1.5 tbsp oats, 1.5 tbsp sunflower seeds and knead into the dough for a few seconds. Pat the dough down into a fat rectangle and roll it up like a jelly roll. Seal the edge. Place the dough in parchment lined bread pan. Spray water liberally on top and let it rise for 20 minutes in a warm place.
Prep the cornstarch “egg wash”.  Mix the cornstarch in 1/2 cup of water, heat the water over medium heat until it thickens into a sludge. Brush the wash liberally on the dough. Sprinkle the seeds all over, stick them by pressing with hands. Spray water then spray with oil. Let the dough rise for 10 minutes.
Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Bake the bread for 30 minutes.
Reduce heat to 350 degrees. Cover the bread lightly with parchment and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes. Let the bread cool completely before slicing. Store in an airtight container on the counter for upto 2 days and refrigerated for upto 7 days. 

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