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A few weeks ago I was visiting Bronwen and we cooked up yet another cooking scheme – this time we’re calling it the long distance kitchen.  Basically, once a week we each send eachother a recipe, and we’ve got a week to try it.  The trick is that today is the first day of Lent – which means no meat or dairy products until Easter, which is April 4 this year – an early one AND on the same calendar as non-Orthodox churches.

Not only do we want a project to do together, but it’s also a great way to be forced to try new recipes.  Being vegan just makes it more of a challenge.  But of course, this is nothing compared to some of our past food experiments.

We did a few trial runs over the last few weeks, using non-Lenten recipes while we still could, and I’m here to report on the results.  I send a recipe every Saturday, and Bronwen sends one every Wednesday.  For the first Saturday, I gave two options that fit with the “let’s eat dairy while we still can!” spirit.  My first recipe was Dorie Greenspan’s Coco-nana Bread, from her Baking book, which handily used up some bananas that were on the verge.  It made an enormous loaf, which was nowhere near done in the suggested baking time.  By the time the center was done, the edges were a little dry.  Solution?  Heat it up and serve with a scoop of ice cream melting into it.  Delicious, but I might try making either cupcakes or two small loaves with the batter if I make it again.

The back-up option I gave was homemade pizza dough – something I love to do.  It makes pizza nice and cheap, you can do your own toppings, and it makes great leftovers for lunches.  The dough is super easy as long as you remember to start it the night before you want to eat it – I use the Now or Later Pizza recipe in The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion, and I topped mine with mozzerella, salami, mushrooms, and sweet onion and red pepper that had been pre-cooked a bit – delicious, but no photos.

Bronwen’s first recipes were “some v-day-ish red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting” and/or Mushroom Soup.  Shockingly for me, I went for the mushroom soup and skipped the cupcakes (that has got to be a first).  My only modification was to use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth (we’d passed Meatfare Sunday by that point, so I went vegetarian).  It was delicious and quite creamy, and my celery and carrot ended up as tiny little chunks that made a nice contrast to the mushrooms.  I always forget how easy soups can be – I’ll make this one again once that pint of cream is an option again.  It also reheated nicely for lunch the next day, but again, I never managed a photo.

My second week’s recipe was for buttermilk pancakes – I used Martha Stewart’s recipe, which has been my standby for the last few years, and ate them with dollops of Greek yogurt and a drizzle of maple syrup.

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I love how much Ben loves vacations. I do not love half hour car naps on the way home.

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Everything was a "fish," even the sea lions.

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