I’ve been fortunate enough to travel back and forth across this beautiful country several times. So far, my travels have taken me to 44 states. (Georgia, North Dakota, Tennessee, Arkansas, South Carolina and Louisiana remain on my to do list). To celebrate Independence Day weekend, I revisited some of my favorite places in meal form. (Unfortunately, I kept forgetting to charge my camera battery, so I only have photos of one meal).
I wrapped up the weekend with a culinary tribute to one of my favorite cities — Boston. Boston is the place where I went to college, the place where I met my husband and the place where I spent some of my happiest times. The Boston of my college years wasn’t particularly veg-friendly, but I had Crescent Dragonwagon’s comprehensive Passionate Vegetarian to keep me well fed. For my Boston-themed dinner, I turned to Crescent Dragonwagon once more. Bean By Bean features not one, but two Boston baked bean recipes. I went with the one that was already vegetarian. (Bean By Bean is not a vegetarian book, but Dragonwagon is a vegetarian and provides plenty of veg options). I love that her recipes always have a little story to go with them and her baked bean recipe was no different. Since the recipe notes said that Dragonwagon wrote the recipe out of nostalgia for the beans of her New England childhood, I figured I wouldn’t be disappointed. The baked beans are supposed to bake for 6 hours, but I hurried things along by cooking them at slightly higher heat for 2 and a half hours. I’m sure I lost out on some depth of flavor, but I still had no complaints about this dish. It hit all the flavor notes that I love about baked beans without being overly sweet.
I also made the suggested accompaniment of Boston Brown Bread. Boston brown bread is a steamed whole grain bread (usually made with corn, wheat and rye) flavored with molasses. Brown bread just happens to be egg free and Dragonwagon provides several non-dairy alternatives for the “milk” component of the recipe. Since I don’t have a bread pan that fits inside my stock pot for steaming, I used the ubiquitous Portuguese Flan mold. I’m kidding. I think I’ve mentioned before that I have tons of specialty kitchen equipment. The flan mold was a wedding gift from a friend and came with her Mom’s flan recipe, which I have yet to veganize. The mold just happens to be the perfect size for steaming brown bread and it’s designed to sit in a water bath. As a bonus, it made my loaf into a cute ring shape. Brown bread is delicious and this recipe did not disappoint.
For dessert, I wanted to make something that screamed America, like cherry pie or shortcake with red and blue berries. But I had some very ripe bananas that needed to be used up, so I went with the Banana Cobbler from Chloe’s Vegan Desserts instead. Boy was this stuff good and it was easy to make too. I think it’s my new favorite Chloe recipe (until I make something else from this book).