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Wicked Healthy Interview Series | Timothy Pakron of Mississippi Vegan
Posted On: November 28, 2018 | Posted by: Erin | Posted In: Wicked Life
Our Wicked Healthy Interview Series features individuals who are making a big impact in the plant-based world and beyond. Today we’re featuring Timothy Pakron—photographer, forager, food stylist and passionate southern chef behind the blog and instagram account Mississippi Vegan.
We’re wicked excited about your cookbook! Can you tell us a little bit about the concept behind it?
Yes! Mississippi Vegan is a cookbook that explores the undercurrent of veganism. I wanted to show people that you can still have delicious southern, Cajun, and Creole food without using animal products. I also wanted to prove to people that it’s not that crazy of a concept to veganize these recipes. Some of them are already pretty close to being vegan! Furthermore, I wanted to show people that you can still recreate these recipes with loads of flavor. I wanted to share recipes that have a story attached to them. It’s basically a love letter to my childhood and my home state of Mississippi. I wanted to the outcome to be emotional, touching, and also funny.
What was one of the most challenging aspects of creating your cookbook? How did you evolve as a cook/food writer from the beginning of the process to putting on the final touches?
Well, my process was a bit different than most because I wrote, styled, and photographed everything myself. This was definitely stressful and daunting, but I wanted to be in control of everything. I also wanted to end result to be as authentic as possible. Basically, this cookbook is like my baby. What happened during this process is I learned how to really write a recipe. At first, I had this vision of using lots of wild and unique ingredients. As I was writing the book, I realized that this would be frustrating to my readers and also make the book inaccessible. So I had to forego all of the wild and foraged ingredients (well, there are some) and really stick to what most people can get a regular grocery store.
You recently moved from Mississippi to NOLA. What are some of the things you miss most about Mississippi and what kind of new-to-you things have you discovered that NOLA has to offer?
There were a beauty and charm to my neighborhood, Belhaven, in Jackson, MS which I miss. There is definitely a comfortableness there. It’s hard to explain. But I always feel it when I am there. Maybe because it’s where I was born and raised. When I finished my book, I knew that it was time for me to go somewhere else. New Orleans is where I landed and I am totally vibing with the city! There are so many fabulous restaurants and lots of delicious cocktails. What I’ve noticed about NOLA is there is a festive spirit here that’s infectious. There are lots of fun events always happening. Even with all of that, my favorite thing here is still my garden which is just a baby at the moment.
What is your favorite fall dish? We’d love to hear any special memory or story that goes along with it!
I love roasted pumpkin seeds! When I was a kid, my school would always take a field trip to a pumpkin patch. There was something about the gray sky, the burnt smell in the air, and the bright orange pumpkins laying in the field that resonated with me. After carving the pumpkin, my family always roast the seeds which I gobbled up! I love it when a recipe is connected with the process of harvesting the produce!
Here’s a fancy spin on the classic apple pie. Of course, I would never pass up a homemade-looking pie, imperfections and all. But this variation is just too pretty to not try at least once. And I bet after you make it, you’ll make it again and again! Be forewarned: This is a weekend dessert that takes a lot of time. This is the kind of dessert you bring to your significant other’s parents the first time you meet them. Get my drift? This is the kind of dessert that will leave people talking, you feel me? As it turns out, this is the kind of dessert that is just as delicious as it is gorgeous, which, as most of you know, isn’t always the case.
Double Buttery Crust (see recipe below) or one 9-inch store-bought vegan pie crust
½ cup roughly chopped toasted walnuts
1¼ pounds Granny Smith apples
1¼ pounds pink-fleshed apples
1 large lemon, halved
¹⁄³ cup vegan butter, melted, plus more for brushing
½ cup vanilla sugar (see note below)
½ cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon sea salt
Double Buttery Crust
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 ½ tablespoons sugar
¼ cup cold vegan butter, cut into ½-tablespoon chunks
¼ cup cold vegan shortening
½ tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
2. Fit the pie dough into a regular pie dish. Poke holes in the dough with a fork and place a piece of parchment on top. Fill the pie shell with dried beans to prevent bubbles. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the beans, sprinkle in the toasted walnuts, and set aside. Leave the oven on.
3. Using a mandoline, slice the apples into ⅛-inch-thick rounds. Then slice the rounds in half. Transfer the slices to a bowl and squeeze the lemon juice on top to prevent browning.
4. Pour steaming-hot water over the apples. Let them soak for a few minutes, until they are soft enough to manipulate. Drain off the water and leave the apples in the bowl.
5. In a small bowl, whisk together the melted butter, vanilla sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, and sea salt. Pour the mixture over the sliced apples and gently toss.
6. Delicately roll the slices into rose shapes, placing them into the pie crust as you go. Once tightly filled, transfer to the oven and bake until the apples are tender and the kitchen smells like apple pie, 25 to 35 minutes. Brush with melted butter and serve.
For Double Buttery Crust:
1. In a large bowl, sift together the flour and salt. Mix in the sugar. Add half the butter and shortening, cutting them into the flour with your fingers or a pastry blender, until the flour appears pebbly. Cut in the remaining butter and shortening.
2. In a measuring cup, mix together 2 tablespoons of ice water and the vinegar. Drizzle the mixture into the flour by the tablespoonful, gently mixing it after each addition. Knead the dough a few times, adding more water until it holds together. You may need only the 2 tablespoons, but add up to 1 more tablespoon, if needed.
3. Roll the dough into a ball, then press it into a disk, and wrap it in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough until ready to use in the recipe.
Vanilla Sugar is simply granulated sugar that has been infused with vanilla bean pods. Simply add your desired sugar (preferably organic and unbleached) to a jar and throw in one or two vanilla bean pods. You’ll be amazed when you open a jar after only a few days to find the sugar bursting with vanilla flavor. In my kitchen, I keep a small jar of granulated sugar for savory recipes and one very large jar of vanilla sugar for my desserts and sweets.