We would like to introduce you to our cousin, Bonnie. She is one of the many veggies in our family.
(Bonnie, Jenn, Kelli)
When Bonnie was 12, she decided to give up eating animals. Then, years later, she decided it was also the right decision for herself to give up dairy and eggs. We each have a unique story to tell when it comes to our journey as vegetarians and now, as vegans. So we wanted to include Bonnie’s story on our blog because she has been living this lifestyle for many years now (she is now 27)-and, not to mention, she makes some damn good food that we both appreciate!
Every Thanksgiving, Bonnie shows up with this incredible dark chocolate cranberry cake that she makes. It is decadent, rich and beautiful and we look forward to it every year! We asked her to share the recipe with us for this blog post. We also thought it would be fun to ask her some questions, so you guys can get to know her better! So, here she is with her recipe and answers!
To be honest, this cake recipe changes every year! A few requirements: CHOCOLATE, layered, icing, filling, and topped with homemade candied cranberries. Also, I somehow always incorporate liquor into it.
This year I based my cake off of a recipe from “Babycakes Covers the Classics” by Erin McKenna.
The actual cake I brought to Thanksgiving was born from the following recipe, “Six-Layer Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Preserves”
- 1 ½ cups melted refined coconut oil or canola oil, plus more for brushing (I used coconut oil)
- 2 cups brown rice flour
- 1 ½ cups sorghum flour
- 2 cups vegan sugar (I used coconut sugar)
- 2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 cup potato starch
- ½ cup arrowroot (I used cornstarch)
- 2 tablespoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 ½ cups unsweetened applesauce
- 1 cup agave nectar
- ½ cup vanilla extract
- 1 to 1½ cups hot water
Directions (sort of what I did) preheat over to about 300 degrees. line 3 large round pans with wax paper and brush with coconut oil. Mix the wet ingredients. Mix the dry ingredients (I use a sifter I found at goodwill). Mad the wet to the dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly with an electric mixer. Divide the batter between the three pans. Put the pans in the oven. Cook for a while till you start to smell it. Take a look in the oven and see if its working. Increase the heat to 310. Let some time pass. Smells really good in the house! Put a sheet of aluminum foil on top of the cake pans and increase heat to 325. It’s gonna be about 20 more minutes from here. Use a
toothpick and if it comes out clean then you’re good to go. Let pans cool completely before removing. Place plate on top of pan. Invert and cake should come out. Trim the hump off of the top of the cakes so that you can layer them flat. Make a filling and icing. Layer the cranberry filling and icing between the layers. This year I used toothpicks to keep the layers from sliding off of each other. Top with rest of chocolate icing and pile the cranberries in the center and spread out to almost the edges. This cake is heavy!
Thank you Bonnie! Now we’d like to ask you some questions so that our readers can get to know you a little better!
Summarize your journey to eating and a plant-based diet and lifestyle. When did you begin, what sparked your interest, etc.
My first memory of rejecting meat was probably around age 10; I use the word rejecting because this was not premeditated. I was on a family vacation in Gatlinburg, Tn. My parents had rented a chalet in the mountains equipped with a kitchen. As usually, when my mom cooked us dinner it was the “well-rounded” meal with a starch (potatoes with cheese), vegetable (spinach or broccoli with cream sauce) and a protein (chicken with ketchup). This particular night I remember gobbling up my side items and jumping up from the table saying I was done! I was anxious to “swim” in the giant jacuzzi tub that I had to wait to fill up until AFTER dinner. My mom quickly urged me to finish my chicken, and within 30 seconds it was gone! Like I had seen my brother’s hamster do, I quickly stuffed my chicken into my cheeks, quietly walked to the garbage can, and disposed of my dinner meat. Tada! Mission accomplished- time to swim. Before the chicken incident in Gatlinburg, my mom would always have to “trick” me into eating my meat. For example, she would cut up a hamburger patty, melt atop a piece of American cheese, and plot a dollop of ketchup next to it. She had figured this was the best way to get me fed with the least amount of difficulty knowing that had I walked to the dinner table and saw a constructed two bun, patty with cheese hamburger, the odds were against her. About two years later, age 12, I had a burst of self awareness. I didn’t like meat! And, no one can make me eat it! January 15, 1999 was my last bite of fried chicken fingers at the late Joe’s crab shack at the New Orleans Lakefront. It was my friends 13th birthday and all of the girls were sitting around the table eating chicken fingers, french fries, and coke. In my mind I had a moment of clarity; no second thoughts. This was it. I told my mom I was a vegetarian the next day. This worried her because a childhood friend who had become a vegetarian soon after developed anorexia; in her mind the two words were linked together. Although at first she didn’t quite understand, she respected my decision and began modifying her recipes so that meat was served “on the side”, and vegetable dishes did not contain meat flavorings like so many southern vegetable recipes do. Weeks later Lent began, and I saw this as an opportunity to be more open with family and friends… “I gave up meat for lent” I would say with a soft smile. “I can’t eat that because I gave it up!” Awesome, I thought. This is working. Lent ended and I continued my story, “well, I gave it up for Lent and decided I don’t want it anymore.” I was “out”, and publicly being a vegetarian had its difficulties- people really had a problem with it. Every time I had dinner at a friend’s house or went to dinner with a group of people, IT came up. I always aspired to give up dairy and egg, but knew in my mind that this was something I had to be ready for. Cheese had became a meat replacement, and egg seemed to hiding in EVERYTHING. Around Mardi Gras 2007, it was time! I made my first vegan sliced tofurkey and cheeze sandwhich to pack in the cooler for the Endymion parade– not delicious. It’s time to learn how to cook. From there, my interest in eating veg took off. Recipe books, blogs, reading labels; I was on my own trying to navigate this new world and way of eating. Restaurants were a challenge. I learned my go-to places to eat where I knew I could order something “safe”. I quickly learned that my best chance of not having to send my food back was explicitly explaining to the server/manager that I had an ALLERGY. This only has about a 70% success rate.
What is your favorite vegan indulgence?
Ahhh, I love a piece of oreo cake from whole foods’ bakery. My mom usually buys a whole cake for my birthday. It’s fabulous. Right now my husband and I are loving Vegan Crab Cakes by Sophie’s Kitchen (freezer section of whole foods). We even eat these for breakfast!
What changes have you noticed since giving up meat, poultry, and dairy?
Other than not having traditional digestive problems from eating… I have such an appreciation for flavors! When food isn’t masked by butter or cream you can actually taste things in a way you never noticed before
What is your favorite vegan holiday dish?
My cranberry cake 😀
Do you have a favorite vegan cookbook and/or blog?
What is/was the biggest challenge for you in this lifestyle?
Not spending a fortune at Whole Foods.
What motivates you to continue to cook and eat plant-based foods?
My health, my love of quality food, and being true to myself. “I was born this way!” -Lady Gaga
What advice do you have for someone interested in trying veganism?
Vegan food just tastes better! Veg eating is a journey. Do what feels right for you. Take recipes you love and see how you can
use veg substitutions to eliminate animal products. Call ahead at a restaurant and ask questions about menu items. Cook from
scratch. Add veggies to everything! Make your own almond milk. Eat fruit. Small changes in your food choices can lead you in the
Thank you again, Bonnie!