Interview with Baconish author Leinana Two Moons

Leinana Two Moons

Leinana Two Moons, Author of Baconish

Baconish Granola

Baconish Granola | Recipe recreated and photographed by Anna Pelzer

This week, we welcome Leinana Two Moons – author of the blog Vegan Good Things and her cookbook Baconish. In addition to our interview Leinana shares her recipe for her Baconish Granola.

Leinana’s writing and photography have appeared in LAIKA and VegNews magazines. A longtime vegan, she is dedicated to creating recipes that are satisfying enough to please anyone, vegan, vegetarian, flexitarian, or hardcore carnivore alike. She is active in the NYC vegan community and lives in Long Island City, NY with her husband and two children, who are all vegan.


How did you come up with the concept for your
book, Baconish? 

The seed was planted back in 2010 when my husband and I went to Montreal for a weekend. We ate at a great little vegan place called Aux Vivres, and it was there that I first discovered coconut bacon. They had it on the menu and I was immediately intrigued, ordered their sandwich with it, and loved it so much.

I was totally obsessed with it and posted a coconut bacon recipe on my blog after
that trip. Everyone who read my blog also went crazy for the coconut bacon, and
then around that time I started seeing so many recipes popping up everywhere for coconut and all kinds of other vegan bacons, using mushrooms, tempeh, seitan, all kinds of ingredients.

At first, I thought it would be funny to put together one big collection of all vegan bacon recipes, kind of a joke about how even vegans love bacon. But then I started thinking about such a book in the larger context of this country’s bacon mania, and how a book with vegan recipes might convince a wider audience to lay off the animal-based bacon. I wanted to show people that you can still create that smoky, savory, baconish flavor without all the health repercussions and without harming
any animals.

You’ve provided an answer to the age old excuse for why some people could never go vegan, “but I could never live without bacon!” What kinds of responses have you had from non-vegans trying your plant-based bacon recipes? 

I had several non-vegan friends come by while I was developing my recipes, and they all were more than happy to eat my vegan bacon dishes! I take pride in making food that tastes good – not just “good-for-being-vegan-good,” but just plain good. I also had some people confess that they were highly skeptical because they imagined vegan bacon would be some horrible processed product, but when they see that these recipes are made with things like mushrooms, chickpeas, coconut flakes, eggplant, and so on, they are pleasantly surprised.

How do you determine whether an ingredient is suitable for becoming bacon?

The main qualities you are looking for are 1) can it get crispy? and 2) can it absorb the marinade/seasoning flavors? Pretty much anything can be made baconish, using either smoke flavor or even using something like a bacon-flavored seasoning salt, but I guess the other question is would it make sense to make that ingredient into bacon? Like, I have 3 ice cream recipes that incorporate coconut bacon flakes, adding just a touch of savoriness, but I probably wouldn’t want to make a bacon-flavored ice cream by itself!

Which vegan bacon are people most surprised by?

I think the coconut bacon is the most surprising for people, because it’s such an unexpected ingredient, and of all the vegan bacons, I think it’s the most uncanny in terms of the fatty, crispy, authentically baconish texture and flavor.

Is there anything you have been unable to turn into bacon?

Ha, no, I had a pretty good idea that all my ingredients would work ahead of time. I never tried to bacon-ize banana slices or anything.

It’s very inspiring to read about vegan families. How have other parents reacted to learning your children are vegan?

Even in NYC, where we are lucky to know a lot of other vegan families, we are definitely still the minority and many parents are surprised to meet vegan kids. Most are curious about what they eat, how we deal with things like birthday parties, and I’m often asked about how difficult it is to raise them vegan. I am happy to share the challenges of vegan parenting with them, because there are some, but my children are energetic, thriving, and healthy, and more than that, they are learning at the most fundamental level about being compassionate toward all living beings.

What kinds of food strategies have you had to come up with when it comes to your kids activities outside of home?

As I mentioned, we’re very lucky to have vegan friends with kids close to the same ages as ours in the city. It’s fantastic when you can have all-vegan playdates and birthday parties. We’ve also been very lucky to have super thoughtful non-vegan friends who have provided an extra cupcake or vegan treat at their kids’ birthday parties. However, my son just finished pre-K and it was our first foray into dealing with being the only vegan in class. One of the challenges is that I pack his lunch every day for him, when it would certainly be more convenient to send him off to school and let him eat the free (but non-vegan) lunch they provide.

It also takes a lot of communication to make sure his teachers all know of and understand his dietary restrictions. And for the class birthday parties, it helps to keep vegan cupcakes in the school’s freezer so that they always have a special treat when the other parents bring in non-vegan cake. I’ve heard of some gluten-free parents doing that too, so it’s probably something that schools are getting more used to!

What are three books or blogs that inspire you?

There are so many it’s hard to narrow down to three! If I have to pick, I would say that my favorites blogs are Minimalist Baker and Olives for Dinner for their great recipes and gorgeous photography. I love so many cookbooks, but the most recent one I’ve been really inspired by is Miyoko Schinner’s Homemade Vegan Pantry. It’s just a great resource for making all your own vegan pantry staples, and to get away from the processed, packaged, and wasteful versions you can buy in the store. As a busy mom who often depends on those kinds of packaged items to make quick meals for the kids, her book really resonated with me and is the direction in which I’d like to go.

Do you have any photography or food styling tips for those interested in starting a blog?

I really lucked out because my husband is a professional photographer, so he helped photograph Baconish, although I took nearly half of the pics by myself. The best advice that he’s given me is to set up in a spot with plenty of natural lighting. Good lighting will do wonders for your photography. If you don’t have a collection of dishes and serveware to choose from, at least invest in some basic, nice white dishes to showcase your food. Use things like tablecloths or linen napkins to add complementary pops of color. And don’t forget to garnish your plates! Even the most boring plate of beige food looks more appetizing when sprinkled with some fresh herbs.

What can we look forward to seeing from you in the future?

I am currently working on the concept for my next cookbook and testing some recipes… it’s too early to announce what it is but let’s just say that it will definitely focus on the types of food that I grew up with, and that show my multi-cultural background, foods that are near and dear to my heart.

Thank you so much to Leinana for answering our questions and sharing her recipe. To our readers who want to see more of Leinana’s books or work you can visit her website at vegangoodthings.com | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

 

baconish-meme_post

 

Baconish Granola

Servings: Makes about 3 cups

 

Making your own homemade granola is surprisingly easy, with an infinite number of ways you can customize it and make it your own.
This granola recipe has the wonderful combination of maple syrup, coconut, almonds, and cranberries, with just a hint of smoky baconish flavor. Eat this with your favorite non-dairy milk, on top of some vegan yogurt, or as a topping for your favorite fruit crumble.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup large flake raw coconut, unsweetened
  • 1 Tablespoon tamari
  • 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke, divided
  • 1/2 cup sliced raw almonds
  • 2 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350℉. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix coconut with tamari and 1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke.
  3. In a dry skillet over medium high heat, lightly toast your almonds 3-4 minutes, until lightly browned and fragrant. Transfer almonds to a large mixing bowl, then in the same dry pan lightly toast the marinated coconut 3-4 minutes until lightly browned and fragrant. Add coconut to the bowl with almonds.
  4. Spread the oats out on the baking sheet and toast in the oven for 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Add the oats to the almonds and coconut along with salt. Mix well and set aside. Keep the parchment-lined baking sheet to bake the granola.
  5. In a small saucepan, combine maple syrup, coconut oil, remaining 1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke, cinnamon, and vanilla. Bring to a simmer, whisking constantly. Pour the syrup mixture over the oats and quickly mix everything so that it is evenly combined.
  6. Spread the mixture out on the baking sheet in an even but compact layer, so that it sticks together. Bake for 10 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before breaking it up into clusters. Store in an air-tight container.

Tip: Feel free to experiment with the dried fruit in this recipe, by combining or replacing the cranberries with things like dried blueberries, apples, raisins, etc.

 

Have any comments or questions? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!

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