(I also made a successful Soy-Free version of the Pine Nut Cream, if anyone's interested. My brother's girlfriend's daughter can't eat soy products, so I made her a little tiny Moussaka of her own. I subbed out the silken tofu and used a combination of ground up raw cashews, So Delicious Plain Coconut Yogurt, lemon juice, and water instead. Due to the sweetener in the yogurt - boo! - it was a tiny bit sweeter than the tofu version , but not in a way that detracted from the quality of the dish. And it baked up great. I was pretty stoked!)
For dessert I made some super yummy chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting. I used the Vegan Chocolate Cake from Joy of Cooking, except I use 8 Tbsp of cocoa instead of 6. It makes the cake even more tender and light, and adds even more chocolately goodness. Obviously, that is an improvement!
*Shout out for the new Soy-Free Earth Balance, which let our little soy-free friend have frosted cuppers AND garlic bread!!
Well, this meal was very delicious, and everyone enjoyed it. Mr. Vegan Eats & Treats and I even had it again for leftovers the next night. Then, the adventure began...
I woke up two days after the birthday dinner and had some cereal for breakfast. Then I had a nectarine, which tasted horribly bitter. It was weird, since all the other nectarines I'd bought at the same time had been great. Then, this bitter taste stayed in my mouth for about an hour. At lunch I made toast and a giant salad. I thought maybe my salad had "gone off" because it was pretty nasty and bitter too. Then I got worried, and started cleaning the heck out of my kitchen. Was something contaminating every thing I was cooking? I scrubbed and sanitized all the knives and cutting boards. I brushed my teeth (and my entire mouth) about ten times. Still, it lasted. And still yet, the next morning, I cut some watermelon for breakfast only to find it gross and bitter. I was getting sad.
Mr. VE&T suggested I do a search online, and in No Time Flat, I had discovered the cause of this horrible curse: PINE NUTS! Crazy! It turns out to be a documented reaction to pine nuts, called Pine Mouth. The weird thing is that it's officially NOT an allergy, and they don't really understand why it happens. Of all the 14 people who ate the Moussaka, I'm the only one this happened to. (thank god! I'd hate for my tasty vegan birthday food to bum out anyone else!). AND, like I said, I've made this recipe many times before. It appears to be a particular defense (like Poison Oak) of a particular species of Pine Trees, probably from China. The pine nuts have been tested and aren't contaminated or sprayed... it's just inherent in the nuts. So, isn't that crazy? Now it's been about 5 days, and I think it's mostly over. I'm so grateful, because for some folks it can last up to 2 weeks. Phew! I got off easy.
It'll take more than this to make me give up on Pine Nuts, but for sure I'll look for pine nuts that aren't from the Far East to rule out this response.
ps. It's almost time for VeganMoFo - a whole month of Vegan Blogging!!! In October, I'll be blogging every day, hoping for a perfect record compared to last year when I was forced to miss a day (forced by totally substandard "wifi" service at a Motel 6 in San Luis Obispo!). Check out Kittee's Blog for a list of all the vegan blogs participating this year. Get your hats on, Round Three's gonna be a wild ride!