Johnnycakes + Logistics

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JOHNNYCAKES

I only had to make johnnycakes one time before my friends began requesting them for every brunch we spend together. They’re fluffy and almost chewy on the inside, with crisp, crumbly edges, and are equally enjoyable nude or dressed, even when piled high with strongly flavored toppings.

We discovered quickly that peanut butter is a really delicious accompaniment to the johnnycake, but this weekend I decided to step it up and prepare a batch of Gena’s sunflower seed butter to serve with them instead. Because it was a cool, hazy morning, I thought we also needed something warm and warming to cuddle the johnnycakes, so I pulled together a roasted fruit compote.

My recipe for these is very slightly adapted from the BabyCakes one.

Johnnycakes

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups whole spelt flour
  • ½ cup corn meal
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 2 Tbsp agave
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup hot water

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350º and line 2 medium baking sheets with parchment paper. Put the kettle on.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients and whisk to combine.
  3. In a separate bowl or 2-cup measure, combine the agave, oil, and vanilla and whisk to combine. Pour over the dry ingredients and stir to make a thick batter.
  4. Then, add the hot water, ¼ cup at a time.
  5. To make each johnnycake, ladle 1/3 cup batter onto the parchment-lined baking sheet. I use my 1/3 cup measure and it works beautifully; I then use the bottom of the measuring cup to shape the cakes when necessary.
  6. Bake each batch for about 15 minutes, flipping halfway through.
  7. Serve hot!

Compote

Ingredients

  • 3 small apples (gala, honeycrisp, pink lady, or similar)
  • 1 small pear
  • 2 Tbsp agave
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch salt
  • ¼ lemon

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350º (Hey! Same temp as the johnnycakes!)
  2. Core and dice the fruit into ¼ inch pieces, but don’t peel or the compote won’t turn that nice red color.
  3. Put the fruit in a baking dish (I used an 8″ square glass dish) and add the seasonings, then mix to combine. Cover with tin foil and bake for 30-45 minutes.
  4. The compote is ready when the fruit is thick and tender and your kitchen smells amazing.
  5. Remove to a bowl and squirt the lemon juice over it, then stir to combine.
  6. Spoon over johnnycakes, and fly to the moon.

I served these with some freshly squeezed orange juice and a simple berry and banana smoothie and, for the omnivores, bacon, which Gina brought over and prepared.

LOGISTICS

This brings me to a question Tracie asked the other day:

I’m just wondering how you logistically handle the veg/omni combination in your kitchen. As a near vegetarian, I struggle to bring meat into the house, much less prepare it for my omni family. Can you address the logistics of balancing a veg/omni household?

Thanks for asking, Tracie!

First, let me recognize how personal this is for each household. I’m happy to explain how this works for Reese and me, and how it worked for me growing up as the lone vegetarian in a meat-eating household, but I encourage you to feel out what you are comfortable with and respect your own boundaries.

That said, here’s a bit of background on our situation. Although I was a vegetarian from ages 10-21, I took a foray into omnivory for several years, and it was in those years that Reese and I met, began our relationship, and moved in together. For that reason, we have never separated our cookware, meaning that we cook and serve both vegan and omni dishes in the same pots and pans and on the same plates. We wash them in the sink, using the same sponge; we just use lots of elbow grease. This is how my kitchen worked growing up as well, so I’m comfortable with it.

We also pay for food from the same bank account, to which we both contribute, which means that some of my liquid assets are occasionally put toward purchasing animal foods. When we bring the groceries home, they go into the same refrigerator.

Is this situation ideal? In other words, would I prefer to have separate pots and silverware for animal products, so I could be 100% confident that no cross-contamination occurs, ever? Or even separate kitchens? The answer is that someday, I’d ideally like to make the transition, at least for a few items of especially porous cookware, like cast iron.

But let us not make the ideal the enemy of the practical. I am a very practical woman, and for us, right now, separating our dietary lives would be a logistical nightmare. We both work full-time and live in a small city apartment with rickety shelves; adding more pots and pans to our overcrowded kitchen would turn us into an ad hoc steel drums band. And trying to organize our finances so neither one is paying for the other’s food seems like a quick and easy way to breed resentment (for me, but if this is important to you, make it happen and let me know how it goes!).

In addition, our kitchen is not mine alone. This is Reese’s home as well as mine, and I want him to feel comfortable to be himself and eat as he pleases here. I asked him today if he ever felt like he had to compromise since I’ve gone vegan and he said no, he’d always felt very free to make his own food choices in our home. We both feel this way, and that’s important to me.

Reese and I both love good food, and we love sharing it, with each other and with friends and family. It’s more important for us to find common ground than for to me to separate the meatware from the plantware.

We all have to draw the line somewhere, of course. I don’t like to touch animal foods, nor can I bring myself to wash pots and pans after they’ve been used to prepare them. (This was a line I drew early in life, much to my sister’s chagrin– it left more dishes for her to wash when we were cleaning up!) I always make sure that anything that has touched meat, dairy, or egg is washed very thoroughly before it is used to prepare vegan food. And I don’t prepare animal foods anymore, except to pour cat food for Arthur, the world’s finest feline, and to stir my Dad’s gravy and hollandaise at Thanksgiving every year. (If anyone else touches it, it curdles.)

People often ask what the hardest parts about going vegan are. For me, the hardest thing was knowing my choice would be an imposition on those around me. Reese and I are both from food families. Every time we get together, it’s to eat, and we are very emotional about our food. Of course, having emotional ties to my food led me to veganism, but for me those coexist with my emotional ties to my loved ones. Reese was supportive of my transition to a plant-based lifestyle, and I feel very fortunate for that.

But always remember: you are the star of your own movie. Don’t be a supporting actor in the story of your life. If going vegetarian or vegan seems daunting for this reason, let it be a challenge for you to allow your supporting cast find new ways to demonstrate their love and support for you. It’s your family’s job to love you no matter what. Give them the opportunity to love you for who you are, and after all, you are what you eat.

Love always from our kitchen!

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Johnnycakes + Logistics

  1. Tracie

    Thank you so much for the thoughtful answer. I’m still very new to vegetarianism and after 11 years of marriage, it is taking some real adjustment. But I know that with compassionate and respectful conversation we can come to an agreement that works for us. Thank you for sharing what works for you. I look forward to trying done of your delicious looking recipes.

  2. elise

    I’m confused by the double corn meal in the ingreds list. I reread the directions a few times and still cant figure out the use for the 1 tsp separate from the 1/2 cup portion. What am I missing?

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