Thursday, November 21, 2013

Vegan Pumpkin Pie

The year our family became vegan, I immediately began my quest to find a great pumpkin pie recipe. Thanksgiving was still a few months away, but I knew the lack of a dairy-and-egg-free version of our favorite dessert would derail any hopes of keeping the holiday vegan. My kids love,love,love pumpkin pie. And so began the Summer of 100 Awful Pies. Well, maybe not 100, but I baked enough terrible pastries to make us wonder if we ever wanted to eat pumpkin again. Our criteria for the perfect pie was that it had to be smooth and sturdy, not a goopy mess (as many were), with just the right amount of spice. So I baked pie after pie. Some were flavorful but pudding-like, some sturdy, but with way too much tofu and not enough pumpkin taste. In the end, not finding one we liked,we developed our own recipe. We took the best components from the non-vegan recipes we used to enjoy as omnivores and created this one. It's spicy, smooth, delicious, and slices beautifully. To help it retain its firmness, it's best served cold. We prefer pumpkin served chilled anyway so as not to have a pie which tastes too vegetably. Our family likes this recipe better than our old non-vegan one. And with  Vegan Whipped Cream, we don't miss the cool whip.

1 can(15 oz.) pumpkin(I prefer Libby's)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 package Mori-Nu Extra Firm Silken Tofu
1/2 cup unsweetened soy or almond milk
2 Tbsp. canola oil
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. table salt
1 & 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground allspice

Add ingredients one at time and blend in a food processor until smooth, scraping the sides of processor bowl with a rubber spatula between each addition. Make sure all the tofu is blended with no white bits remaining. For best flavor, cover and refrigerate pumpkin filling overnight.
Prepare one unbaked pie crust. I use the Classic Crisco Pie Crust. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Pour filling into pie crust. Use a pie crust shield or aluminum foil to keep the crust from browning too much. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until center is completely set.
Cool to room temperature, and then refrigerate until cold. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Thanksgiving "Unit"

We don't usually do unit studies, but I do tend to create projects and choose read-alouds based around holidays. It's mainly because I get bored quickly doing a whole unit on any one topic, but a few days of focused reading and art projects for a holiday is short enough to hold my interest. I know, I know, our homeschool should be planned around the kids' interests, not mine. But the reality is that if I'm bored the kids are bored. It's hard to enjoy a unit study if mom is reading in a monotone and drinking gallons of coffee just to keep her eyelids open. I admire all you Unit Study Moms, I do. But keep it far away from me. I'm bored just thinking about it. Pass the coffee.

So here's our short Thanksgiving "unit":

by Wende & Harry Devlin

by Wende & Harry Devlin

by Alice Dalgliesh

by Kate Waters

by Anne Kamma

And because our "turkey day" is vegan:
by Ruby Roth


The voyage of the Pilgrims, England, Plymouth, and their original destination in Virginia.

Over the River and Through the Woods(This was Bess' idea. She loves to sing.)

Bess and Max are learning how to make a vegan pumpkin pie from scratch.


And that's our "unit". We're having a lot of good discussions from our readings, even a few about how shopping is replacing Thanksgiving and how hard won labor rights are being slowly destroyed by corporations and greedy shoppers. (Mom on her soapbox.)

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Our Curriculum 2013-2014

I thought I would post a short rundown of the curriculum we're using this year, and in the next few days follow with some reviews. We're far enough into the school year where I have a pretty clear idea of what homeschool purchases are working well for us. Overall, I'm really pleased. Every July I spend an inordinate amount of time driving my family, myself, and anyone who will listen completely crazy as I try to figure out what curriculum to buy. I decide, I second guess, I hyperventilate, change my mind half a dozen times, and then finally buy the books only to spend the ensuing days regretting the purchases. But this year my neuroses seem to have paid off. We've had a very productive couple of months. I think we've found just the right balance of history, literature, and workbooks. I'm only listing the books I bought, not the resources we already owned and are currently using. I'll focus on those in a later post.

Bess is 6 and in First Grade. She is learning with:

Sonlight Core A with Grade 2 Readers(We are not using the Bible or Language Arts portion, just the History, Read-alouds, and Readers schedule.)

Horizons Math 1 


Zaner-Bloser Spelling Grade 1

Zaner-Bloser Handwriting Grade 1

Evan-Moor Daily 6-Trait Writing Grade 1

Noeo Biology 1

Language Smarts B from The Critical Thinking Company

Building Thinking Skills Primary from The Critical Thinking Company

Artistic Pursuits Book 1

Max is 5 and in kindergarten. He has a pretty laid-back schedule. He has Asperger's, and can become easily overwhelmed, so we do school when he's ready to do it. He is learning with:

Mathematical Reasoning A from The Critical Thinking Company

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons

Zaner-Bloser Handwriting K

Evan-Moor Everyday Literacy Science

And Max is sitting in on Artistic Pursuits and about half of Sonlight Core A.

And that's about it. Reviews and a post on how to make Sonlight Core A secular coming soon!

I hope everyone is having a great school year! 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Vegan Brown Sugar Cinnamon Cookies

This recipe is a modified version of our favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe. I'm pretty sure the original chocolate chip version came from PETA, at least that's what I scribbled onto my recipe card years ago. One day, with a hankering for cookies, and no chocolate chips, I came up with Brown Sugar Cinnamon Cookies. It was a hit with the kids. In fact, my 19 year old, Ethan, says I found the bliss point.

1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/4 cup Earth Balance margarine
1 & 1/4 cups light brown sugar
2 Tablespoons almond milk, soy milk, or water
2 Tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 2 Tablespoons water
1 & 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 & 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 & 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment.
With a mixer, beat shortening, margarine, sugar, and almond milk until well combined. Add cornstarch mixture and mix until incorporated. Use a spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl.
Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl, and then add to creamed mixture.
Mix on low speed until evenly moistened.
Drop rounded tablespoons of dough 3 inches apart on the parchment covered cookie sheet.
Bake for 8 to 11 minutes, until sides and top are just golden brown.(They will look very soft and under baked, but they will firm up as they cool.)
Leave cookies on baking sheet for 5 minutes, before moving them to a cooling rack.
This makes about 30 cookies.(fewer, if you eat as much cookie dough as I do)