Sorry We Party.

I recently went back to school, like Billy Madison.  Not like Billy Madison in the sense that I’m fighting five year olds for their snack-paks, but like him in the sense that I’m about ten years older than other students and regularly suppress the urge to pinch their youthful faces and scream, “Stay here!  Stay as long as you can!  FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, CHERISH IT.”

(Unlike them, and seemingly half of my professors, I have held an adult job.)

Basically: school (or at least my school—shout out to UC Berkeley, GO BEARS!!!, et cetera) is a time-sucking vortex, and the void remaining where my time once was is now filled with books and learning and producing papers in a flurry of caffeine and confusion. Whereas my Friday nights of yesteryear used to at least vaguely resemble raging parties (raging, one-lady parties with Prince records and bloody marys and nail painting), they now look like this:

Astutely notes that reading this book on a Friday night is my sadness threshold.

Astutely notes that reading this book on a Friday night is my sadness threshold.

It’s pretty bleak.

But I have to bring the party somewhere.  You can’t just hold party in.  It’s bad for your kidneys.

So this Friday evening, I brought the party to my wok and deep-fried hearts of palm in pure love (in stores it’s sometimes packaged as “canola oil”).

Hi I love you.

Hi I love you.

It was like Woodstock, but with more calories and more people you probably wouldn’t mind seeing naked (um, nevermind).

Since this post is being written in posteriority, the recipe that follows is an Unsolved-Mysteries-esque dramatization of true events.

Step 1: Clutter your counter with ingredients.  You will need:

Hearts of palm, cornstarch, soymilk, flax meal, panko, and ranch (because you always need ranch, duh).

Hearts of palm, cornstarch, soymilk, flax meal, panko, and ranch (because you always need ranch).

Step 2: Turn your stove to medium/medium-high heat and add an inch of oil.

Step 3: Whisk together some soymilk (or, you know, whatever unsweetened nondairy beverage you have) and flax meal*.  I haven’t a clue what the proportions are, except that it’s more milk than flax, but just do it (a ½ cup of milk and a couple tablespoons of flax meal ought to work).  Whisk with conviction; you’ll want it to thicken a bit, as this will function as an egg wash.

Step 4: Make like Henry Ford (minus that whole “being profoundly racist” thing) and create an assembly line.  First, you’re going to log-roll the heart of palm in a thin coat of cornstarch. Tap off any excess.  Second, you’re going to dip it in your flax/soymilk wash.  Finally, you’re going to roll it around in crunchy, wondrous panko—and then you’re going to deep fry it.**

Dip in each bowl from left to right.  (Pretend that there is something in that middle bowl, like in Hook.)

Dip in each bowl from left to right. (Pretend that there is something in that middle bowl, like in Hook.)

Step 5: Gently drop your battered heart of palm into your wok and then repeat with those remaining.  I wouldn’t fry any more than four at a time for the sake of quality control.  After they have been saturated in hot oil (mmm) for a couple minutes, flip with a pair of tongs.  When they’re uniformly golden brown, transfer to a plate with a napkin on top to drain.

Step 6: Nomnomnom.  I served these like I would mozzarella sticks–with vegan ranch and marinara (duh).  But I bet aioli, or a sriracha mayo, or really anything else that is normally paired with fried things would be a good bet.

 

Andrew WK-level party.

Andrew WK-level party.

* It has recently been brought to my attention that Bob’s Red Mill is evil/not a friend to our adorably furry counterparts (I mean, not furries.  Well. Maybe them, too?).  I didn’t realize this when I purchased these products, but I hereby dis-endorse them.  Now moving on.

** You don’t know how to deep fry things?  What are you, a health food enthusiast (a communist)?  I don’t trust you.

To ensure that your oil is the proper temperature, dip the handle of a wooden spoon into it.  If bubbles form around it slowly and lazily rise to the surface, raise the temperature or give it an extra minute or two to heat up.  If they’re frenetically forming and bouncing off of your handle, then your wooden spoon is beginning to fry.  Resist the urge to eat it, and turn the heat down.  When bubbles form and rise to the surface of the oil at a brisk but comfortable pace, you’re golden (and soon those beautiful hearts of palm will be, too!)

 

 

Quick and Dirty Product Review: Earth Balance Vegan Aged White Cheddar Puffs

While wiling away an evening at Whole Foods in a post-workout Mariana Trench-sized carbohydrate ditch, I just about snapped my neck when I saw these babies on the snack aisle.

“Vegan” in tiny letters so as not to scare off the omnis, natch.

Obviously I had to try them. I added them to my already-overflowing handbasket and ripped into the bag the moment I got in the car.

The verdict? These things are basically puffy corn puffs covered in weird non-dairy cheddar-type flavor powder. The cheddar flavor is pretty mild, which is sort of nice, but definitely don’t go into it expecting Chester Cheetah-level cheesiness unless you want to be disappointed. At first I wasn’t into them and enjoyed my cheesy kale chips a lot more (hey, they were on sale), but over the weekend the Mr. and I obliterated the whole bag. I am writing this with cheezy flavor powder all over my shirt and fingers right now. They’re good, but not so great that we ate them all in one sitting (which is how we usually eat snacks). I don’t know that I’d buy them again because they are pretty messy and the texture isn’t my favorite. I’d say they’re worth trying.