Themed Eating Mini Series: Crock Pot Wednesday

January 22, 2014

Guest Post By Lauren DiLisio

One year ago this month, I decided to follow a vegan diet. I say “diet” because some choose it as a lifestyle. I’ve still got leather boots, I’ll occasionally use honey instead of agave and I definitely have vitamins and supplements without the vegan stamp of approval. However, as much as it was a choice to begin eating this way, I was also forced to go this route. I had recently discovered that I had an allergy to eggs; y’know, just to keep my dairy allergy company. I had taken Lactaid for about 13 years about every single day with almost every meal in order to satisfy my love of cheese and all things dairy. One day out of the blue, I began getting violently ill after ingesting dairy. Ben, my boyfriend and the wonderful man he is, played Captain Obvious and said, “maybe you should cut out things you’re allergic too.” 

So there I was. All my life I held close to this love for cheese and eggs, until I read up on how bad it can be for you (aside from my body rejecting it anyway). I cut it out altogether for a couple days and then decided to push meat out of my diet as well.

I have never slept better, had more energy, a clearer complexion and best of all no after-eating stomach aches that have me doubled over in pain. I lost all the weird weight that women grab from their bodies and say, “what the hell is this?” I knew I made the healthy decision to become vegan. 

After a year of trial and error with hundreds of recipes I’ve finally got a grip on what it means to “veganize” recipes, I have an incredibly stocked pantry with all the spices you dream of, but best of all I’ve got someone by my side giving me constant support, “veganizing” with me and enjoying this diet change. At least I think he is… otherwise I’m totally done cooking every day.

The crock pot: feared by many, loved by more. The thing that scares me about any slow cooker is that once it’s all in… it’s all in. There’s no “throw it back on the stove with some garlic and onion, bring out that rosemary and thyme flavor a little more.” There’s not much going back, especially with this recipe, but that’s okay because it was freaking delicious.

Vegan, Gluten Free, Biscuit-topped Pot Pie
  • What you’ll need:
    • 5 tbsp white rice flour (or any GF flour)
    • 5 tbsp vegan butter
    • 1 cup almond milk (or a non-dairy milk of your choice)
    • 2 cups GF vegetable stock (more or less for consistency)
    • 1 tsp salt
    • ½ tsp black pepper
    • A few pinches of Rosemary
    • 1 pinch Oregano
    • 2 pinches Thyme
    • 1 pinch Coriander (optional)
    • 1 ¼ tsp Garlic powder
    • 1 tsp Onion powder
    • 1 can of peas, 1 can of carrots, 2 russet potatoes (peeled, diced, and boiled) and 1 block (16 oz) of extra firm tofu drained, pressed and cubed.
This was the first time I’ve cooked anything gluten free, at least on purpose. After buying Bob’s Red Mill gluten free white rice flour, I used this recipe straight from the website and “veganized” it (using egg replacer, vegan butter and a non-dairy milk).

  • What you’ll do:
    • Start pressing your tofu, whether you’re using a tofu press or the traditional method Then peel and cut your potatoes into about half-inch cubes and boil them for a few minutes. Make sure not to let them get too soft as they’ll be cooking more in the crock pot. Once they’re done run some cool water over them to stop them from cooking and let them sit until you’re ready for them.
    • In a saucepan, toss in half a cup of vegan butter, and 5 tablespoons of gluten free flour. Whisk until the butter is dissolved and everything is all mixed up. Then slowly stir in the almond milk, vegetable stock, salt and pepper. Let cook for 5-10 minutes on medium, stirring until it has a gravy-like consistency. Feel free to thin it out to your liking with more stock and add more spices, pepper, salt, etc. until you’re satisfied with the flavor. Tasting is important!
    • Add your vegetables and tofu into the crock pot and stir in the gravy mixture. Turn it on to your desired temperature. I did mine on 6-8 hours (medium-high, for about 6 ½ hours). Using a spoon, or fingers like I did, scoop the biscuits over the crock pot wonderfulness. Make sure to vent the lid, I used a chopstick, so the condensation doesn’t build up and make your biscuit-top soggy and disgusting.
    • You can leave the biscuits as scoops or flatten them like a crust; I chose the latter. Keep in mind that the biscuits will be cooking slowly, so the thinner the batter is on top, the faster it will cook.  In the center of the crock pot, the biscuit-mixture will also take longer regardless; this means you’ll have to test the dough after 5 hours to make sure it’s cooked through, or is at least getting there, and the gravy is bubbling up on the sides.
    • After the biscuit-top is done, viola! Dig in!

While this recipe is 100% delicious on its own, I broke down and topped it with Texas Pete and tofutti sour cream (vegan AND gluten free). If you’re feeling a little “Thanksgiving-y,” you should totally serve this with some cranberry sauce.

So enjoy all that the crock pot has to offer and enjoy the leftovers even more!