I am not sure what I am excited about more this week: the food or the book. I plowed through Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs, lickety-split. It has a bit of everything: quirk, humor, time travel, suspense, mystery, romance and monsters.
Rapidly as I consumed Miss Peregrine, I ate my chocolate-ginger vegan-ified pudding even faster. Using fried cinnamon bread to scoop it maybe slowed me a bit. I should have combined the two. Eating AND reading at the same time. I could challenge myself to a race. How many pages could I get through in a bowl of pudding? Actually, eating and reading simultaneously is how you can find me most late nights. It is a healthy balance, I think.
Miss Peregrine, lovely late night snack that it is, involves a modern day teen, Jacob, who is investigating his grandfather’s mysterious past. He discovers some very peculiar children stuck in a time warp. They have a grab-bag of fun special abilities like starting fires and floating away if not tethered down. I guess the special abilities are also special difficulties sometimes.
They seem pretty darn happy in their time warp, frozen in time. It really is an idealic situation-their caretaker loves them, their special abilities allow them to constantly amuse themselves, there is swimming and playtime and delicious meals cooked up for them. And no aging. They get the maturity of adulthood and the nimbleness of childhood bodies. No outside world to contend with.
All this got me thinking about the nature of happiness. You know those people who live in their own little bubble? Or the kids who are sheltered from the real world? We tend to scoff at these folks who never “face reality”. But if they are never going to have to face reality, is that so bad? Shouldn’t someone in this world get to be happy? And what is reality anyway? The reality I live in probably seems obscenely posh and unrealistic compared to areas of the world where finding food, pudding or not, is a daily struggle. Although I do face daily atrocities like slow internet and running out of Sriracha. Gah. I guess it is all about perspective.
If the option to hang out for eternity in a youthful body in your own private Eden were possible, would you take it? That seems to be the choice of the peculiar children. But of course, it is not that simple, as Jacob discovers. Hence the suspense and monsters I mentioned.
I bet this book is going to become a movie someday. Much as I nominate myself for the role of Patti Smith, I would like to play one of the peculiar people. Particularly Emma. If I could light things on fire with my hands just imagine the flamed whiskies I’d be able to make. However, before Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is made into a movie, let us make it into a meal.
At least a dessert.
In debating what to make, I first was tempted by the lure of fried toast. Most of the book takes place on an island in Wales. One morning Jacob is served up mystery meat and fried toast. He mentions that he had never heard of frying toast. The man serving it says that he “wasn’t aware there was a food not improved on with frying”. Shockingly, Jacob doesn’t marry the man serving breakfast. So I was tempted by the toast, but I decided not to give you breakfast carbs two weeks in a row.
Next, I looked at what was being served to the peculiars. One of the delights eaten by the “children” (for they are really adult by the time we meet them) is chocolate pudding. In this book the modern and the olden times collide, so I decided to make the pudding fit both for old times and, oh, Los Angeles times. Gingerbread is an old-timey treat. Chia seeds and almond milk are befitting of the modern vegan. And thus vegan chocolate-ginger chia pudding was invented.
The pudding is somewhat soupy. Which got me thinking about croutons. I realized I could fry bread after all! Calamity averted. I pan-fried toast in butter then tossed it in some cinnamon and sugar to help fit in with the gingerbread theme.
After taking pictures, on a whim I tossed a few chocolate chips in while munching. The chips didn’t make the picture you see but you should do this. Please, please, please do this. If you do not, I am not responsible for your opinions about this dessert.
This is an unusual treat but please accept it for what it is, for what it should be: peculiar.
Peculiar Vegan Chocolate-Gingerbread Pudding with Fried Cinnamon Toast Croutons
- 3 Tbsp. chia seeds
- 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder
- 3 Tbsp. sugar
- 1/4 tsp. xanthum gum (you can leave out but then the pudding will be even less thick and if you can locate chia seeds you can probably find xanthum)
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. ginger
- pinch cloves
- pinch nutmeg
- 1 1/2 cups chocolate almond milk
- 2 tsp. molasses
- butter (to keep this vegan use Smart Balance or Earth Balance or don’t eat the butter, just balance it on your head)
- chocolate chips (optional but not really)
For Toast: Toast the bread, dry dry dry. Whilst it toasts mix up some cinnamon and sugar in a bowl. I leave the proportions to your own discretion. Different amounts of cinnamon appeal to different folks. Cut toast into cubes. Melt some butter in a skillet and sauté bread cubes. Toss in cinnamon and sugar.
For Pudding: Whisk chia seeds, cocoa powder, sugar, xanthum gum, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg. Whisk in almond milk and molasses. Every half hour for about the next four hours, whisk it up until thickened. It’s really going to take that long to thicken.
Put in a bowl. Garnish with cinnamon toast. If you own a whimsical spoon now is the time to use it.