Recipe: Maple Pecan Sweet Potato Casserole (Gluten-Free + Vegan)

Just in time to have missed the holidays, here’s a holiday recipe! Maybe you’re late to celebrate something or other and this still applies. Or, maybe you hate black eyed peas and would rather bust a munch on this delish casserole on New Year’s Day, instead.

Ingredients

~2 lb. sweet potatoes (~4 medium or, in my case, two XXL), peeled and chopped into large chunks
1 c pecans
1/2 c gluten-free rolled oats
3/4 c full fat coconut milk from can
3 T coconut sugar
1 t + 2 1/4 t cinnamon
pinch + 3/4 t sea salt
1/2 t nutmeg
1 T ground flaxseed
1 T coconut oil, melted
1 T maple syrup
1/2 t vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Place chopped sweet potatoes in large stock pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Boil about 20 minutes until easily pierced with fork.
  2. Meanwhile, put oats and pecans in a food processor and pulse a couple of times. You want to break them up a bit, not be a meal.
  3. In a medium bowl, stir together pecan/oat mixture, ground flaxseed, coconut oil, maple syrup, 1 t cinnamon, vanilla, and pinch of sea salt. Set aside.
  4. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  5. Once sweet potatoes finish boiling, strain through a colander and return them to pot. Top with coconut milk, coconut sugar, 2 1/4 t cinnamon, 3/4 t sea salt and nutmeg. Then, mash mixture with a potato masher.
  6. Transfer potatoes to an 8×8″ baking dish and top with maple pecan topping. Bake for 15-17 minutes, keeping an eye to ensure topping doesn’t burn.

Serves 8-10 as side dish.

Bummed Out Bailey Rating: 6/10
Rick-the-Meat-Eater Rating: 5/10

Tastes like a sweet potato.

Rick, a meat-eating husband

Adapted from Maple Pecan Sweet Potato Casserole.

More on Bummed Out Baker:
Recipe: Roasted Artichokes (Gluten-Free + Vegan)
Recipe: Cornbread Casserole (Gluten-Free + Vegan)
Recipe: Corn Risotto (Vegetarian)


Do you love Bummed Out Baker? Want to help keep it going? Support here. Your contribution means more to me than you’ll ever know!

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If you or someone you know needs help right now, please call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Mental Health: Ho Ho HELP

It’s no secret that the holidays incite a wealth of emotions. While some people recall happy memories to the tune of Bing Crosby and anticipate this time of year, there are others who’ve lost someone in the last 12 months and this is their first holiday season without them. Some lost a loved one around this time of year, so the season’s warmth and glitter feels irrevocably tarnished every year after. Some have negative relationships with family that have led to stressful, heartbreaking reunions or estrangement. Some families suffer financial stress so crippling that the holidays become a huge stressor opposed to a joyful time. Some have a homeless family member and wonder where they are. Are they alone? Are they warm? Do they know what day it is? Do they care? Are they using?

Of course, I’m thinking of my brother today as my family celebrates Christmas. My brothers and I were fortunate to have magical Christmases growing up. My parents struggled to make ends meet but, somehow, Santa’s sack always mobbed deep. I remember the three of us all sleeping in one room, me on my twin, Alex on my trundle, and Duncan on the floor (poor Duncan), waking up too early, and then running out to rip into the carefully arranged spread. Our tired parents would snap photos and capture us on the camcorder.

that’s Keith in the corner (REM voice)

This was long after we’d grown out of Santa, by the way. (Alex and Duncan blew that for me in first grade.) We just liked hanging out and sleeping in the same room on Christmas Eve. Any other day of the year, no. Hell no. Christmas Eve, yes. After all, no one knows you as well or as long as your siblings do so, when we’re honest with ourselves, they’re who you want to share the special, formative childhood/adolescent moments with.

stuntin’ on these dorks

One by one, we aged out of adolescence, and year by year, things became increasingly difficult around the holidays. A couple days before Christmas in 2007 Alex announced that he and his partner were having a baby, and that they were moving to Florida. That day. That was the first Christmas after he got his leg amputated and Duncan and I had dropped out of college and spent 54 days in the hospital by Alex’s side. That year had been like taking an emotional bat to the knees. They loaded up and drove away and, as we watched them turn out of the cul-de-sac, I supposed it couldn’t get much worse than that.

a brother’s love is a brother’s love

Five years later, we all visited Alex at his rehab in December, two months after he’d shot himself in the head. With his stitched up head, Alex cranked golfballs into the abyss of a big, dry field with Duncan. At the same visit, Alex told my mom in group therapy that he’s never forgiven her for his repeating first grade. (One of his favorite pastimes has always been vilifying our mom.) On his final day, there was a ceremony performed involving a symbolic bridge-crossing as a graduation from the rehab. He left, and soon went back to using. I supposed it couldn’t get much worse than that.

crackin’ himself up w that terrible stache

But then, there’s now.

The last “normal” memory I have of Alex is Christmas 2015, a chaotic span of a few days in which a dear aunt died, my mom and I were going for the others’ jugular, and Rick proposed to me. That Christmas “break” was inflammatory in its juxtapositions. It was also during this time Alex told me and Duncan in a moment of seriousness he’d been assaulted as a child. Usually he just deflected everything. He offered that information one night while riding in the front of Duncan’s Tahoe in his nice jeans, henley, and cologne. The next time I saw him he was living under the bridge.

A tightly wound pragmatist, I’ve long since ceased believing that things couldn’t be worse. I keep getting proved wrong, like emotional whiplash. My dang neck hurts. So, instead, my whole body remains tense as I steel myself for the worst news all day, every day. That also makes my neck hurt. Plus, I get bonus knots in my shoulders and back. I can’t win! Either way, my neck hurts. Somebody pass the Tito’s.

Alex was there when Rick proposed to me on that Christmas Eve four years ago, giving hugs and congratulations, but he never made it to the wedding. There’s a beautiful photo of me and Alex hugging in celebration of the proposal but I can’t find it anywhere. I’m gonna risk bordering on cringe and say it’s poetic that, at least until I can find those photos, that formative moment lives only in my brain and is fading. My brother and my husband, two people who’ve informed and continue to inform so much of who I am, were like ships passing in the night. They’ve spent maybe a few hours together total, but that pivotal day was part of that tiny overlap.

One thing important to note is that years when sad things happen around the holidays conjure a special appreciation for years that are uneventful (in a good way). High highs, low lows. My family’s got ’em. Maybe yours does, too. Or maybe it’s all good. Or all crap. The point is, life isn’t a Lexus ad. And if it is, I think that’s very neat, and would you give me a ride in your Lexus?

You may have noticed that, like my life, this post has gone off the rails a bit! So, I’ll wrap it up. Like a Christmas gift. It is 3:34am. Help.

Anyway, I wish you all a merry Christmas, a happy fourth night of Hanukkah, and happy holidays to all, whatever you may celebrate. If you’re going through something during this often chaotic season, I’m sending you warmth and a virtual hug. I wish I could give you a real hug. Take care of you.

I’ll leave you with a bonus photo of me in Christmas skants.

Marlon Brando, Jimmy Dean on the cover of a magazine

Wednesday posts cover something that’s top of mind for me that week and are written in a short period of time. This means that editing is not strong. While it’s not my best work, it is my best, unfiltered thought.

More on Bummed Out Baker:
Mental Health: Communicating Mental Unrest
Mental Health: Finding the Glow
Mental Health: Disoriented


Do you love Bummed Out Baker? Want to help keep it going? Support me on my Patreon. Your contribution means more to me than you’ll ever know!

To subscribe to Bummed Out Baker by email, scroll all the way down to the bottom of the website to find the form. Follow Instagram for behind-the-scenes panic attacks and my begrudging, meat-eating husband captured in the wild, Facebook for mental health articles and discussion, and Twitter for sassy or informative tweets.

If you or someone you know needs help right now, please call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Mental Health: The Sad Clown: Part 3 (Final Installment)

This final installment of The Sad Clown makes me cringe. It’s dramatized, saccharine, and all of it’s true. There is some blood, and there are some guts. So, proceed accordingly. As always, thanks for being here.


After Ashley broke eleven bones at Alex’s hand when he drove them into three telephone poles, I painted her toes while she was immobilized in the hospital. By freshman year of college my nail polish collection had expanded beyond clear, and I used an iridescent purple, the same color as her candy painted Mustang GT that had just gotten ripped to pieces by the jaws of life to get my brother out of the driver seat. He was meant to be dead on arrival to the hospital, but he wasn’t ready to leave life yet. He had many more years of traumatic offerings for himself and his loved ones. “And many more.” It was like the classic birthday wish gone awry.

Alex’s femur was sticking out of his left thigh and his blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit. He was losing blood too fast. He’d knocked out the power to an old folks’ home and his helicopter chariot landed in their lawn to whisk him away. Awakened by the disturbance, old people began to shuffle outside, wind blowing their hair off their necks and foreheads as they saw a helicopter leave them to reconcile the remnants of the bloody, powerless disaster.

“Bailey, wait.” My dad grasped my shoulders, bracing me physically and emotionally for a disconcerting sight. “The way Alex looks is extremely upsetting. But, just remember, it’s your brother. It’s just your brother.”

It.

[read full piece here]

More on Bummed Out Baker:
Mental Health: The Sad Clown: Part 1
Mental Health: The Sad Clown: Part 2
Mental Health: Painting with Words


Do you love Bummed Out Baker? Want to help keep it going? Support here. Your contribution means more to me than you’ll ever know!

To subscribe to Bummed Out Baker by email, scroll all the way down to the bottom of the website to find the form. Follow Instagram for behind-the-scenes panic attacks and my begrudging, meat-eating husband captured in the wild, Facebook for mental health articles and discussion, and Twitter for sassy or informative tweets.

If you or someone you know needs help right now, please call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Recipe: Disaster Dinner Rolls (Gluten-Free + Vegan + Lol)

And you may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?

Talking Heads on Disaster Dinner Rolls

I thought I’d be slick to post a gluten-free, vegan dinner roll recipe for those cooking a big holiday meal. I’ve been eating gluten-free for about six weeks, probably, in addition to vegetarian and dairy-free (the latter two a long way of saying I basically eat vegan with the exception of eggs).

Gluten-free baking is clearly not my forté… yet.

Ingredients

3 T Earth Balance
1 c full fat coconut milk from can
1/4 c water
1/4 c + 1 T sugar
3 1/2 t instant yeast
3 c gluten-free flour
1/4 t sea salt
1/4 c non-dairy milk of choice

Instructions

  1. In a medium saucepan on low heat, melt butter for a few seconds.
  2. Stir in coconut milk, water and 1/4 c sugar. Test temperature of mixture with a questionable, rinsed off thermometer your father in-law used in the Thanksgiving turkey until it reaches 105-110°F.
  3. Turn off stove and add yeast. Stir once and let the yeast activate for ten minutes.
  4. In the meantime, feel smug about being in the throes of making homemade bread. Also, whisk sea salt into flour in a separate bowl.
  5. Add salted flour to yeast mixture a little bit a time and mix well. Start by using the rice spoon you googled and then bought on Amazon upon first reading this recipe through. Once the dough gets heavy, you get to use your HANDS!
  6. Knead dough until flour is well incorporated. If it’s dry and crumbly, add more coconut milk a little at a time. When you’ve polished off the coconut milk and it’s still crumbly, start pouring water into it. Finally, give up.
  7. Shape dough into a big ball, place in a large bowl, cover top with Saran wrap, and let it sit there for two hours. Pretend to be reading Dead Souls while you wait. As you realize that that book does, indeed, make your soul feel dead, the dough should at least triple in size.
  8. Side eye dough that has not risen one iota and then preheat oven to 350°F.
  9. Remove dough from bowl, scrambling to slap pieces crumbling off of it back onto the ball. Continue, unabashed.
  10. Add some flour on your working surface so the dough doesn’t stick, or not, and knead the dough to deflate it. Deflate what?
  11. Divide dough in half and divide each half in half until you get 12 little balls. At some point, you’ll realize this is bad math and that you actually need to divide the last halves into thirds. Using sheer will, keep balls of dough together.
  12. Line baking dish with parchment paper and add your rolls.
  13. With hope, stir last 1 T sugar into the non-dairy milk of choice.
  14. Using a pastry brush, something else you googled and bought on Amazon, apply wash on each roll to get an icing-type finish. Wonder why the original recipe said the wash was supposed to look brown and glossy. Ponder whether they accidentally used rotten soy milk.
  15. Momentarily appreciate the rolls looking like dessert.
  16. Place rolls in oven and let bake for 30 minutes. Feel your stomach drop in defeat when, after 20 minutes, nothing about your rolls has changed. Look at your father in-law when he reassures you that “there’s still time.”
  17. Take bitter icing balls out of oven and let cool, because you’re still gonna try them “just in case.”
  18. See video at top of post.
Do these look like cinnamon rolls? Yah. Did they taste like cinnamon rolls? Nah.

Serves zero friends, 12 frenemies, or one nemesis.

Bummed Out Bailey Rating: 0/10 (a first!)
Rick-the-Meat-Eater Rating: 0/10

Where are the rolls? Did you throw them in the trash? I’m sorry, babe. When you bake with gluten-free flour, you need Xanthan gum.

Rick, a meat-eating, not gluten-free husband

Poorly adapted from Vegan Dinner Rolls.

More on Bummed Out Baker:
Recipe: Chocolate-Filled Shortbread Thumbprint Cookies (Vegetarian)
Happy Birthday Bummed Out Baker! Chocolate Birthday Cake with Whipped Cream Icing (Gluten-Free + Vegan)
Recipe: Sugar Cookies (these are actually good)


Do you love Bummed Out Baker? Want to help keep it going? Support me on my Patreon. Your contribution means more to me than you’ll ever know!

To subscribe to Bummed Out Baker by email, scroll all the way down to the bottom of the website to find the form. Follow Instagram for behind-the-scenes panic attacks and my begrudging, meat-eating husband captured in the wild, Facebook for mental health articles and discussion, and Twitter for sassy or informative tweets.

If you or someone you know needs help right now, please call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Mental Health: The Sad Clown: Part 2

Last week I posted The Sad Clown: Part 1 on my Patreon, a piece of writing that some distillation of will likely be in my book. The content this week is particularly vulnerable with a brief mention of molestation and is also behind the small paywall ($1/month) to access. Every bit helps me continue putting time and effort into running Bummed Out Baker, and reader support is so, so cherished.

This week I continue the series with The Sad Clown: Part 2 with an excerpt here on Bummed Out Baker and the remaining portion on Patreon.


Thanks to meds and confidence that comes with age, by senior year I’d started to balance out what had been four years of a mental illness rollercoaster. On the first day of my volleyball try outs Alex, then 20, had stayed up late the night before in Paint on our computer making a caricature of me running on the track with a water bottle and CD player in hand. He glued a photo of my head on top of the shoulders and scribbled “good luck Belly!” at the top. He taped it to the bathroom mirror for me to find when I got up at 6am, and I kept it for years.

Despite ripping cigarettes constantly, Alex had accompanied me to the high school track to train that summer before try outs. He’d take a long drag and toss the butt to the side, only to smoke me in our mile run. He’d been the star of his select soccer team, but inexplicably quit at 13. He’d been the type to wear Fanatical Soccer shirts with “soccer is life. The rest is just details” emblazoned across his back. My mom thought he was molested by an associated adult, or something… [continue reading]

More on Bummed Out Baker:
Mental Health: The Sad Clown: Part 1
Mental Health: Painting with Words
Mental Health: Mental Illness and Motherhood


Do you love Bummed Out Baker? Want to help keep it going? Support here. Your contribution means more to me than you’ll ever know!

To subscribe to Bummed Out Baker by email, scroll all the way down to the bottom of the website to find the form. Follow Instagram for behind-the-scenes panic attacks and my begrudging, meat-eating husband captured in the wild, Facebook for mental health articles and discussion, and Twitter for sassy or informative tweets.

If you or someone you know needs help right now, please call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.