Because I have no choice but to limit all my spending, including (but not limited to) food spending, deciding what to prepare means a lot of looking through my shelves and seeing what I’ve already got on hand to use. As luck would have it, I need not feel poor because I’ve got plenty of one of the very most expensive ingredients I ever use: pine nuts. See, for my birthday in December of 2009, my step-mother got me a huge bag of them from Costco – a gift that delighted and thrilled me! I’ve kept them in my freezer ever since, because I understand they spoil if left out.
I found two recipes in 500 Vegan Recipes that use pine nuts and wouldn’t require me to buy too much. One was the Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto and the other was the Maple Pine Nut Bars. All I had to get at the grocery store was basil, dates, and soy yogurt. I had everything else, and was happy to have extra soy yogurt to mix with fruit and enjoy at lunch. Oh yeah, I also bought some Italian bread to drizzle with olive oil and toast, to use as a vehicle for the dip.
The dip is simple enough – oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, fresh garlic, basil, olive oil, cashews, and pine nuts, all whizzed through the food processor. For those of you who care about that sort of thing (not me), it’s raw, since my cashews are raw. Here’s a picture of the bread with the dip, which is not a very photogenic thing. That’s why I put it on a leaf plate. Not because it’s fall-themed or anything, just because I figure anyone who sees it will be like, “If it’s on a plate like that, it’s GOT to be good!” That’s what you’re thinking, right? Right? Guys?
The Maple Pine Nut Bars are an interesting creature. Authors Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman call them “bars,” but it really isn’t a recipe for a bar. It’s cake. Definitely cake. I’d call it a coffee cake, and certainly, a lot of vegan coffee cake recipes do, like this one, call for soy yogurt. It’s a good, sophisticated coffee cake. The dates and pine nuts certainly do make me feel all growed up. I could see my aunts enjoying this cake a lot. I don’t know why I pick my aunts over any other type of person who is a generation older than I am, but I’m sticking with it. For some reason, I really imagine that any of my aunts would greatly enjoy this maple, cinnamon, nutmeg, date, and pine nut treat. Maybe because they drink coffee? I don’t know. This is good, though, especially with coffee, and if I were one of those awesome, artistic food bloggers who was smart enough to plan, the following picture would probably have some coffee next to it, or maybe, like, some coffee beans artfully scattered. Too bad, though! You’re at my blog, you just get coffee cake on a plate.
I guess that a woman really shouldn’t survive on bread and dip and cake alone (although I contend that it’s not a bad living), and as soon as I get my tax refund (I filed on the very last possible day, pretty much at the last possible moment, basically because I couldn’t find all the various W2’s I got for last year, which got all shuffled around in my move), I’ll have a bit more dough to make complete, healthful meals.
Here’s something unrelated, but it’s on my mind sometimes reading other cooking blogs: how the heck do you get to be a cookbook recipe tester?? Allow me to put on my whining hat on for a moment. I wanna be a cookbook tester! Why do other people get to and I never do! No fair! I’m sure that it’s just because I don’t actually know anyone who is coming out with a book, nor do I engage in online forums. But I would be such a good recipe tester. I like to cook from books, I’m happy to try new things, I cook all the time, and I think that I give useful feedback. So, hey, if you know anyone who is making a vegan cookbook, I really, really, really, really want to test the recipes. Did I mention really? One more time: really. Just putting that out there. Ask and ye shall receive, or whatever. I’m actually not asking for anything, just offering my services, for what they’re worth.