Tuesday, February 21, 2017

One Cake Mix - Two Ways

Here's an interesting bit of info about boxed cake mixes: many of them can be prepared in ways that have nothing to do with the instructions on the package.  This blog post will give you two delightful recipes that can be whipped up in less than five minutes and that produce wonderful, tasty results.

Both of these two recipes use Duncan Hines Spice cake, which is easy to find in Loblaws, Metro, and Highland Farms.  I am certain that it is available in other stores as well.

Pumpkin Spice Muffins

For this recipe you will need one box of Duncan Hines Spice Cake mix, and one can of pumpkin purée.  Make sure you purchase pumpkin purée NOT pumpkin pie filling.

Pre-heat your oven to 350F

Empty the box of cake mix into the bowl of your stand mixer (or into a bowl if you use a hand mixer).    If you purchased a small can of purée, empty the entire can into the bowl, and if you purchased the large can of purée, scoop out about half of it into the bowl and mix on medium speed until the mix is completely blended with the pumpkin.  

If you want to add any nuts or dried fruit to the mix do that now, and stir them into the batter.  

Spoon the batter into a prepared muffin tin, or use paper liners.

Place the muffin pan in the oven on the middle rack and set your timer for twenty minutes.  At the end of twenty minutes, check for done-ness using a toothpick.  If the toothpick comes out clean, your muffins are done.  If the toothpick does not come out clean, bake your muffins for another five minutes.

Spice Cake

Pre-heat your oven to 350 F.

For this spice cake, you will need one box of Duncan Hines Spice Cake mix, and one can of ginger ale.  I used Canada Dry Ginger ale when I made the cake.  I imagine other brands of ginger ale would work just as well.

For this recipe you should not use a stand mixer or hand mixer - you will be mixing this cake by hand.

Empty the box of cake mix into a mixing bowl.  Open a can of ginger ale and pour it into the bowl.  Using a spoon or spatula, mix these two ingredients together until they are well blended.  

Prepare two 8"x8" cake pans and divide the batter between the two pans.  Place the pans onto the middle rack of your oven and set the timer for 25 minutes.  Test for done-ness at 25 minutes and cook it for five more minutes if the cakes are not done.  

Let the cakes cool in the pan for a five minutes, then put the pans on a rack to let the cakes cool completely.  

If you are going to put icing on the cake, wait until the cakes are completely cool before spreading icing on them.  I put plain vanilla icing on my cake and sprinkled toasted coconut on top. 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Sunny Lemon Strawberry Pie

I'm dreaming of spring and summer - anything but the mounds of snow that we have outside today.  It
has been snowing off and on for three days now, and driving today was especially treacherous.

This past fall I was in England and made a trip to Tesco, a UK grocery store, specifically to take a look at their vegan offerings.  I am a follower of Fat Gay Vegan, and he has posted about vegan finds in Tesco, as well as other mainstream UK shops, so I thought I'd do some exploring of my own.  I did find all sorts of interesting vegan items on the shelves.

In the magazine section there was a vegetarian Christmas food magazine that was published by Tesco.  I looked through it in the store before I purchased it to see if there were any vegan recipes in it because if it didn't have any vegan recipes, I would not have bought it: I have no interest in a vegetarian cookbook.

There were a number of amazing vegan recipes in it, including a wonderful nut roast that my sister made for Christmas dinner.

Tucked away in the magazine was a vegan dessert called Creamy Lemon Fruit Squares.  At the time I thought it looked like a summertime dessert, and I set the recipe aside so I could make it for an outside dinner on the deck.  Nevertheless, I decided to make it today, as the snow builds up outside my door.

Although this recipe was originally published by Tesco, I've made a number of changes to it, so I have changed the name of the recipe to reflect my changes.


Option A: Use a purchased ready-made vegan graham cracker pie crust.  This is what I did.

Option B: Use any slightly sweet, press-in pie crust of your choice, and either place it into an 8 inch pie plate, or into an 8 x 8 in baking dish.


1 398 ml can of pears packed in water
1 349 g or 12.3 oz box of extra firm silken tofu.  I used Mori-Nu brand but I imagine any extra firm silken tofu will work
1/2 cup of apricot jam
2 table spoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
Zest from two whole medium-large lemons

Sliced fresh or frozen strawberries for the topping


Preheat your oven to 375 F

Put all of the ingredients for the filling in a food processor, a blender, or in a medium bowl using an immersion blender, and blend all of the filling ingredients until they are smooth.

Pour the mixture into your prepared or purchased crust, and bake in the middle of the oven for 20 minutes.

Allow the pie to floor before putting sliced strawberries on top.  Alternatively, you could slice the strawberries, and put them in a bowl, and then scoop them onto slices of the pie after you have placed  them on individual dishes for serving.  Today I sliced fresh strawberries into a bowl, then sprinkled two tablespoons of sugar over them and let them macerate for a while. This way, they will be nice and juicy when I spoon them over the pie. 

Here is the pie with its strawberry topping - it's like sunshine on a plate! 

Update to the last post "The Purpose of a Dog"

After the outcry about the apparent cruelty to a dog during the filming of this movie, the Humane Society seems to be saying it was all a big understanding, that the dog actually did jump into the water of his own accord the next day, and that this video footage was carefully edited to make it appear that the dog was frightened.

We have been assured that someone has seen the film footage showing the dog cheerfully jumping in.  But I haven't seen it.  This new video has not been posted.  And in this day and age, we need to see the video if we are to erase what we saw with our own eyes from the previous video.

Friday, January 20, 2017

The Purpose of a Dog

It appears that a dog was terribly mistreated during the filming of this movie - forced into a man-made rapids against its will.  Video has surfaced of the dog showing stress and trying to prevent itself from being placed into danger.

An outcry has developed because of this and there is a call to boycot the movie.  The movie will not be premiering as planned and there is an investigation into the situation.

People are outraged, and indeed this is a situation where outrage is warranted.

I just wish that people could save some of this outrage for all of the animals who are slaughtered for food, who are forced into the killing chutes against their will.

Why isn't the same outrage shown to animals who are killed to be food?  It's purely a question of selfish hypocrisy.  That's it and nothing more.  For all the people who say "but bacon" - shame on you.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Savoury Winter Pie

If you asked Mr. Downright Vegan if we ate out or ordered in too often he would say yes we do.  So we are making a concerted effort to cook more and eat at home as much as possible.  Plus, today is Sunday, and instead of going to my father's house for dinner as I usually do, where I have meals prepared by my vegan sister, I stayed home, so I had to cook.

I am always on the lookout for a good recipe, and when I'm reading mainstream magazines I like to consider how I would veganize a recipe.  The inspiration for this Savoury Winter Pie, as I am calling it, was in this month's Country Living UK magazine, only it was made with lamb - how utterly cruel. I substituted Gardein Beefless Ground, a vegan meaty substitute. This is a superior vegan product, in my humble opinion.  You could also use lentils and rice in place of these if you wanted to avoid vegan meats.


1 lb of Gardein Beefless Ground
1 medium butternut squash  chopped into one inch chunks.
1 large onion chopped into the size you like (i like larger pieces, but I know some prefer tiny bits)
1 large carrot chopped into the size you like
2 ribs of celery chopped into the size you like
3 cloves of garlic, chopped/minced as you prefer
Oil for the pan - I used Wegman's basting oil, which is simply cooking oil with herbs in it
I 300 ml can of fire roasted tomatoes
Sweet potatoes

Pre-heat your oven to 350 F

Put the cubes of squash into a bowl and drizzle with a little oil and the herbs of your choice.
Place the squash on a parchment covered cookie sheet and cook in the oven until tender, which takes about 30 minutes.  Set aside.

Place the chopped onions, carrots and celery into a frying pan with a little oil and cook on medium heat, stirring from time to time, until the onions are translucent and the carrots and celery are al dente.

Add the garlic and stir to combine.

Add the can of fire roasted tomatoes.

Add the Beefless Round to the pan.

In the meantime, while the veggies are cooking, scrub your sweet potatoes, and leaving the skins on, slice them in uniformly thin slices.  I tried using a mandoline but I was frankly afraid of slicing my fingers off even though I was using the pushing gizmo, plus I felt that the slices were too thin.  I ended up giving the too thin slices to the squirrels in my backyard.  Using a sharp knife, I cut the sweet potatoes by hand, about 1/4 of an inch thick.

Now increase the heat on the oven to 400 F

Put the cooked squash pieces into the bottom of a pie plate, making sure they are evenly distributed.

Add the contents of the frying pan, and then place the sweet potato rounds on top of this in a single, slight overlapping layer.  Brush the sweet potatoes with oil and season to your liking.  I used the wegman's basting oil and black pepper.

Cook until the sweet potatoes are soft.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

A Mainstream Magazine with On-Purpose, Not Accidental, Vegan Recipes

The latest issues of Idées de Ma Maison, a French Canadian magazine, has an article about vegan recipes.  The recipes are good and look tasty.

If you don't read French, you can use the visual translating feature of google translate to take a picture of the recipe and translate it into English.

The muffins look particularly tasty!

This magazine can be downloaded from the Toronto Public Library.  It's worth taking a look at this.

I Feel Like No One is Listening

Sometimes being a vegan is a lonely business.

I do not like sitting down to dinner with my family and have them eating poor dead animals beside me.  I appreciate that I was once a person who ate animals, but I have seen the light, and i have acknowledged how cruelly animals are treated in the food industry and i am trying to make amends by writing this blog and no longer using animals in any way.

I can't stand the smell of cooked meat.

Last week i was out for lunch with a group of retired teachers and we were at a restaurant with only one vegan option, which I ordered.  One of the teachers asked why i don't eat free-range eggs because after all, they are allowed to wander around the farm at will.  Of course this is not true, but I only said, no I do not eat those eggs because of all of the male chicks that are ground up alive and because when the hen stops laying "enough" eggs (whatever that means) she is sent to the slaughterhouse.  I said there is no animal product that you can eat or wear that does not have the slaughterhouse at the end of it.

And then there is this article in today's Mercy For Animals email.  Read it, and weep.  And if you have not stopped drinking milk, perhaps this article will nudge you in the direction that you know in your heart is the right move to make.