Mark and I visited the Parental Homestead yesterday, and my mom gave me some “chili bowls” to match one of the sets of Chinese teacups I have:

So of course today I made my grandmother’s chili! And to accompany it, I made Peter Reinhart’s cornbread, which I present for you today in vegan adaptation.

Cornbread, a la Peter Reinhart

6 oz (1 cup) cornmeal
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
2 cups minus 2 Tbsp soy milk (the vinegar + soy milk should weigh 16 ounces)
8 slices vegan bacon strips
8 oz (1 3/4 cup) all-purpose flour
.75 oz (1 1/2 Tbsp) baking powder
.05 oz (1/4 tsp) baking soda
.25 (1 tsp) salt
2 oz (1/4 cup) brown sugar
2 oz (1/4 cup) white sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp En-R-G egg replacer + 6 Tbsp water
1.5 oz (2 Tbsp) agave nectar
1 oz (2 Tbsp) vegan margarine
16 oz (2 1/2 cups) corn kernels (frozen or fresh)
1 1/2 Tbsp corn or vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place 2 Tbsp vinegar in a liquid measuring cup …

… then add soy milk to make a total of 16 ounces (2 cups), whisking together.

Mix with the cornmeal, cover, and set aside. The original recipes says to allow to sit out overnight, but I just let it sit for a few hours this afternoon.

Arrange the vegan bacon on a baking sheet sprayed with oil. (I had two different kinds.)

Bake for 10-15 minutes or until crispy. Crumble and set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 350.

Here’s my tip for softening or melting margarine: just measure it into a small glass bowl and sit on the stovetop while the oven is on.

In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.

In a small bowl, whisk together the En-R-G and the water.

Whisk the agave nectar into the melted margarine, then whisk in the En-R-G mixture:

Whisk the margarine/En-R-G mixture into the cornmeal mixture:

Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry and whisk or stir until thoroughly blended.

Stir in the corn kernels (I did not manage to get a non-blurry shot of this step.)

Pour the oil into a large cast iron skillet (or a 10″ round cake pan, or a 9×13″ rectangular cake pan, both of which are suggested by Peter Reinhart), then stick the skillet or pan into the oven and allow to heat up for 5 minutes. Using heavy oven mitts, remove and tilt to coat entire skillet. Pour in the batter.

Sprinkle with “bacon” pieces, gently pushing them into the batter. My “bacon” was already pretty crispy, so I also sprayed the “bacon” with water so they wouldn’t burn.

Place in the oven and bake for 30-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (Reinhart says this will take 30 minutes but I had to leave mine in for 45.)

Allow to cool in the skillet or pan for 15 minutes before serving. Cut into wedges (or squares, depending in the shape of your pan).

The cornbread got a thumbs-up from Mark!

Here’s the chili in my new bowl:

Brachtune didn’t help me make dinner today, although in general she’s still been acting like my shadow.

She doesn’t appear to miss Tigger, although I sure as hell do. Yesterday at the Parental Homestead, Mark and I looked at the many pictures my mom had saved of Tigger on her PC and we found ourselves laughing at nearly every one of them. He was a very silly cat. Last week I would have just cried. So I guess I’m doing better, but it still really sucks. Brachtune is trying her hardest to get me through it, though.

From my mom’s photos, I realized just how much weight Brachtune – who probably has cancer – has lost. Here is she looking much heavier a few years ago:

And here she is today:

Why do cats have to be mortal? Mark and I will eventually adopt new cats, that I am sure I will love, but the thing is, Tigger and Brachtune were and are THE cats for me. They are nothing alike, but between the two of them, they had/have the two kitty personalities that I think go with my personality. As far as I am concerned, Tigger and Brachtune could have just lived with me until the day I died and I’d have been perfectly happy.

Anyway, if you can imagine how crazy I am about my cats and multiply it by 100, you have a rough idea of how crazy my parents (and my aunt) are about their dogs. They brush Shannon’s teeth every day. He has tartar.

Sophie got her teeth brushed too, but I wasn’t fast enough with the camera to capture it. Here she is waiting for Aunt Lynn to meticulously prepare her “dessert buffet” of doggie cookies and snacks.

Sophie is a bit wary of Mark, so she spent a portion of the day under the sofa.

She’s hyperactive, however, so the sofa-hiding only ever lasted a minute or two at a time.

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