Vegan Lent and dreams of Easter.

Just two weeks longer.

I won’t say I’ve been completely perfect with my vegan Lenten promise. I most assuredly, and irrevocably, ate animal products. But … there was this cake. And, as a cake person, I never turn down cake.

Especially when it’s a delicious almond cake that a local woman brought in to the newsroom. Her name is Kim, and she makes the best almond cake in the world. You can visit her blog here and this is the article my co-worker Donna wrote about Kim and her new business.

Right after I finished my portion, I stopped and thought, “Oh crap. There’s no way anything that good is made without animal products.”

I’ve really enjoyed, and sometimes begrudged, this foray into veganism. It’s a lovely lifestyle, but I’m positive it’s not one I will follow 100% in my life. There is great thought that goes into the whole process, which is a great thing. Too often people view meals, or food in general, as something that they need to have so that they can get on with their lives.

During this Lent, I’ve found myself consciously and thoughtfully thinking about what I eat and how I eat. I’ve gotten in to the habit of eating my breakfast, usually a cup (or three) of coffee and a piece of fruit, standing up either over the sink or in front of the TV. On the mornings where I’m not looking at the clock thinking about how I should have left for work 20 minutes ago, I make myself some oatmeal.

This must change. From now on, there will be a space at my dining room table where I sit and eat my breakfast, listen to the news and really wake up and meet the day. Sadly, this also includes me getting up early and not dawdling in the morning.

Luckily spring has arrived. Today it’s gloriously sunny and in the low 80s. I turned off the heat days ago, and my apartment is a balmy 75 degrees. I’m not turning on the air conditioning until it hits 90! The windows are thrown open and clearing out the stale air of winter.

With spring comes, inevitably, spring cleaning. I recently bought new dishes. They’re plain white with no embellishment whatsoever. They are crisp and classic and absolutely perfect. But, back to the cleaning part.

I’ve been taking count of my cupboards, and as my father likes to say, “Rotating the stock.” I picked up a package of beautiful multi-colored fingerling potatoes and immediately wanted to use them. When I brought them home I discovered I still had three medium-small Yukon gold potatoes sitting in my rice steamer.

I couldn’t justify using the new potatoes when I had older ones that needed to be used. While at the marker, I also picked up fresh herbs: rosemary, thyme and cilantro. Add in my new box grater and I made herbed hash browns.

Herbed Hash Browns, recipe by EMLundblad

IMG_0598Ingredients

3 small to medium Yukon gold potatoes, shredded, about 2 to 3 cups

3 gloves garlic, finely minced or grated into a paste, about 1 1/2 Tbs.

1 Tbs. fresh rosemary, minced

2 tsp. fresh thyme, minced

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

Method

1. In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper.

2. Heat 1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a 10 to 12 inch frying pan or skillet on medium heat. Press the potato mixture into the skillet and let it set for two minutes. Shake the skillet a little to make sure the hash browns don’t stick. After 7 to 10 minutes, discreetly check the underside of the potatoes with a spatula. If browned to your liking, remove from the heat and place a dinner plate over the skillet. Flip the potatoes onto the plate and then slide the potato-disc back into the skillet to allow them to brown on the other side, about 7 to 10 minutes.

3. Once browned on both sides, slide hash browns onto the plate and serve immediately. Makes about 4 to 6 side-dish servings, depending on your appetite.

IMG_0596

Notes on the recipe:

Next time I try this, which I definitely will because it was so simple, I might finish it off in an oven set at 325 or 350 for 5 minutes. The potatoes were just done, and needed to be nuked in the microwave for a couple minutes.

Also, after I had flipped the hash browns I realized I forgot to add salt and pepper. I sprinkled it on the top, but it needs to be in the recipe.

Before making the potatoes, I had caramelized some onions. I used the oil leftover in the pan to fry the potatoes, which I highly recommend. After the potatoes were done, I spread the onions on top. Delicious. Caramelized onions are the bacon of the vegetarian world.

I plan on fully embracing the final two weeks of my vegan life. And while I can respect the choice, I can’t wait for the traditional Lundblad Easter dinner: salad, hard boiled eggs, Slovenian sausage and coconut cake shaped like a lamb. Gosh I love this holiday!


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