The first time I heard the words flax and egg put together was in this post for cauliflower pizza crust by Jesse at the Happy Go Lucky Vegan. I literally stopped reading and exclaimed out loud to whoever was in the general vicinity at the time “Flax eggs? What the f**k are those?” Figuring that eggs from a live chicken would play out just as well and would be a hundred times cheaper than this thing that is probably only sold at upscale vegan grocers, I carried on with the rest of the recipe. I was all about making vegan recipes better by using actual dairy and eggs.
Sometime around mid summer I finished reading Eat & Run by Scott Jurek. Jurek is a vegan ultra marathoner that can just run, run, run and never seem to wear out. I have been having difficulty meeting my goal time in the half marathon for the last two years so I figured a diet change couldn’t possibly hurt. The plan was to eat mostly real foods, keep the dairy to a minimum and go from there. During this phase of real food eating I discovered what a flax (and chia) egg really was and how wonderful of an invention it is for healthy eating.
A flax egg is simply a tablespoon of ground up flax seed placed in three tablespoons of cool water and chilled in the refrigerator for fifteen minutes to an hour. At that point the flax seed has become a gelatinous substance that can be used to bind in baking. Chia eggs can be made the same way, they are just made with chia instead of flax. I can get a pound of flax seed relatively cheap (although I do have to go to one of those damn vegan grocers) and that makes a lot of “eggs.” It is way cheaper than the real thing. Now these “eggs” won’t do everything, for instance they certainly won’t whip into peaks, but for purely binding purposes they are a beautiful thing.
And I’ve been using them a lot. My latest experience came with these summer corn cakes I found at the Ezra Pound Cake food blog. The original corn cakes are full of dairy (buttermilk and butter) and eggs. A few slight adjustments and their vegan colors shone through.
-2 1/4 cups frozen corn (or 3 ears, shucked)
-1 cup flour
-1/2 cup cornmeal
-1/4 a diced red onion
-1/4 cup thinly sliced basil
-1 tsp. baking powder
-1/2 tsp. baking soda
-sea salt and pepper
-2 flax eggs (2 Tbs. ground flax, 6 Tbs. water)
-2 Tbs. rice milk mixed with 1 tsp. lime juice (let sit 10 minutes after mixing)
-2 Tbs. vegetable oil
1. Line a baking sheet with a paper bag. Place 2 cups of the frozen corn in a food processor and the other 1/4 cup in a large metal bowl. Process the corn until it well pureed (it should still be a little chunky). Scrape the pureed corn into the bowl with the whole corn.
2. Add the flour, cornmeal, onion, basil, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pepper to the metal bowl. Stir until everything is well mixed.
3. Mix the rice milk mixture and oil. Pour into the dry ingredients. Also pour in the flax eggs. Stir everything until it has a batter like consistency.
4. Heat a flat pan or skillet over medium. Grease it with some frying oil. Heat until the oil sizzles.
5. Take heaping tablespoons of the mixture and drop it on the pan. Heat for a few minutes, until it is golden brown. Flip the cake and press it down as flat as you want it. Heat that side until it is golden brown. Flip back to the first side and heat for thirty more seconds (get the pieces on the surface that came out when you flattened it).
6. Remove the corn cakes from the oil and place them on the paper bag to drain. You can put them in the oven on the warm setting until all the other cakes are done. Top with salsa and get flaxy with it.
These summer corn cakes, made up of an eclectic number of tastes, inspired the same for my cooking jukebox. First up was the new/old album from Overlord. Last year the band released In Soviet Russia, My Heart Breaks You. It was their first studio record after six lo-fi albums. I wasn’t particularly fond of it but it bounced around CMJ charts and captured a number of listeners. As a thank you for all the fans who made the album a success, Overlord is releasing The Expurgated Version. This is the exact same album, made in singer George Pasles’ moldy basement. Maybe it was the fresh listen. Maybe it was the lo-fi feel to it. Whatever the case, I found myself enjoying this version much better. “Oh My Mechanical Heart” and “Nothing is Wrong” particularly stood out. You can get a free copy of The Expurgated Version here.
From the moldy view smells of the basement we now head to the front porch of a back country home. Elam McKnight has been posting #FreeTrackFriday treats all summer long via his twitter page. Last Friday he posted the rollicking harmonica jam called “Mamma Killed a Chicken.” It takes me back to my childhood days where grandma always seemed to be killing chickens (happy 63rd anniversary, by the way). As a possible vegan, I’ve come a long way baby!
Finally it was the carnival rock of Debo Band and “Asha Gedawo” (not I shot your dog like J-Fur thought). Debo Band is an eleven member group led by Ethiopian-American saxophonist Danny Mekonnen and fronted by vocalist Bruck Tesfaye. They play a style of music dubbed Ethiopiques which incorporates the traditional scales and vocals of Ethiopian pop music alongside American soul and funk and European brass. It makes for a unique, fun time.