Thursday, April 28, 2016

Cookbook Thursday: Have your bacon without the pig

The bacon craze had me confused — not the tasty part; I got how everyone loves bacon. But there was bacon ice cream, chocolate and bacon, cocktails with bacon. And everyone was eating it up, pun intended.
I kept thinking, “Bacon isn’t good for you. Did people forget that?”
Apparently so. A study emerged saying just that — can I get a Duh! Bacon made from pigs comes loaded with saturated fat and cholesterol, plus processed meat has been linked to a host of health problems.
There’s another side to this story, and that of the poor pig and the harmful effects raising animals have on the environment. Vegans and vegetarians have been shaking their heads during this whole pork mania.
Good news. Leinana Two Moons, author of the Vegan Good Things blog, offers ways to satisfy those bacon cravings without the unhealthy after-effects and involving an animal. Her cookbook, “Baconish: Sultry and Smoky Plant-based Recipes from BLTs to Bacon Mac and Cheese,” just may convert the most dedicated bacon (meat) lover out there.
The cookbook begins with recipes to create different styles of bacon, including seitan bacon, tofu bacon, mushroom bacon, eggplant bacon and the popular coconut bacon, which is part of the recipe below for the “Famous Coconut BLT.” There’s even carrot bacon!
The rest of the cookbook mirrors the rest of America and its craze for bacon flavor, offering recipes from everything that makes sense — bacon and cheddar scones, pigs in a blanket, smoky split pea soup with bacon — to the innovative — bacon fried rice, baconish granola, maple-bacon doughnuts. Because this is a vegan cookbook, published by Vegan Heritage Press, no ingredient contains animal products.
The pigs — and your heart — will thank you.
Here’s that Famous Coconut BLT recipe with instructions for making the coconut bacon. But get the cookbook and learn more about the process of producing bacon from plants. It’s fascinating.

Coconut Bacon
3 tablespoons tamari
1 tablespoon liquid smoke
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon maple syrup
3 cups unsweetened large-flake coconut
Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Whisk the tamari, liquid smoke, water, and maple syrup together in a large bowl. Stir in the coconut and mix well to ensure that the flakes are evenly coated. Spread the coconut in an even layer on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 10 minutes, then stir. Bake another 8 minutes, keeping a very close eye on the coconut in the last few minutes. The coconut will go from almost done to completely burned very quickly. Remove from the oven when the coconut flakes on the outer edges of the pan are becoming a deep, dark brown, but not black. Place the baking sheet on a cooling rack. The coconut will continue to crisp as it cools. Coconut bacon will keep 1 to 2 weeks in an airtight plastic container, but will become less crisp the longer you store it. So make those BLTs right now and eat up.

The Famous Coconut BLT
8 slices sandwich bread
Vegan mayonnaise
2 cup coconut bacon
1 large ripe tomato, sliced
Lettuce leaves, washed and patted dry
Directions: Spread each slice of bread with a generous amount of mayonnaise. Top the mayonnaise with about 1/2 cup of the coconut bacon per sandwich, followed by slices of tomato and lettuce leaves. Top each sandwich with the remaining bread slices. Cut each sandwich with a serrated bread knife and serve immediately.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Forest Hill signing this Saturday in St. Francisville

            This Saturday (April 30) I will be signing copies of my book, “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Conundrum Books in St. Francisville. The event coincides with the St. Francisville Spring Garden Stroll.
            The book details the history of Forest Hill, a town of about 800 people near Alexandria that’s also home to 220-plus plant nurseries. Forest Hill has long been a favorite among gardeners and landscapers and thousands flock to the town’s annual Louisiana Nursery Festival in March. 
            Forest Hill was also the site of Solomon Northup’s first home in Louisiana, the main character and narrator of “12 Years A Slave.” The massive timber industry utilized the ancient forests surrounding the town and only a few miles away was Camp Claiborne, home to the largest peacetime war maneuvers in U.S. history and training ground for half a million soldiers during World War II.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Robert Brantley wins Henry-Russell Hitchcock Award

Robert S. Brantley’s “Henry Howard: Louisiana’s Architect,” co-published by the Princeton Architectural Press and the Historic New Orleans Collection, has received the Victorian Society in America’s Henry-Russell Hitchcock Award. The honor reflects Brantley’s decades-long effort to document the work of one of Louisiana’s most prolific architects of the 19th century with the help of his late wife, Jan White Brantley, and the late Victor McGee, a direct descendant of the book’s subject. The volume provides a survey of Howard’s career, illustrated with photographs both new and historical, and interspersed with archival drawings and plans.
“I am grateful for all the hard work and astuteness of The Collection’s editors and for the untiring effort and knowledge of the editors of Princeton Architectural Press, who have helped make this work on Henry Howard a success,” said Brantley in a press release. “Mostly, I am forever in the debt of my beloved wife, Jan, for her unwavering support and talents in both research and photography and to my friend Victor McGee for keeping the memory of Henry Howard alive and for all his insightful thoughts and work in the writing of this book. Lastly, to Henry Howard, without whose genius this work would not need to exist.”
            Given annually, the Henry-Russell Hitchcock Award is one of three book awards that the Victorian Society in America (VSA) presents to works “that best advance an understanding or appreciation of the decorative arts or architecture of the 19th century.” This particular prize honors works “centered on architecture or the decorative arts,” including biographies of designers or architects. 

            The award will be presented at The Victorian Society in America’s annual meeting this year on Saturday, April 30, in Los Angeles.