I remember reading once that the #1 topic people want to discuss when they go to see a fortune teller is Love. They want to know if they will someday meet that one special someone Hollywood promised them in a million romantic comedies because they’re anxious to live that “how did you meet” story they’ll tell at dinner parties for the rest of their lives. They want to know if the one they love – loves them or how long will this love last. They want to know if what they’re in now is what Love is because of the aforementioned romantic comedies. All questions that they could answer for free if they went and talked to someone they actually knew and get better answers. Yet fortune tellers are a business that’s been around since Homer was telling stories around a fire.
I think it’s because some of us want to feel that there really is magic in our lives. They find comfort in a cosmic plan or fate. I think others like the thrill in the drama of it all – the flipping of cryptic cards or palm reading. I mean talk about your symbolism – having your fate right in our own hands! I think others just need to hear that everything is going to be OK from a stranger who they think wouldn’t lie to them to spare their feelings. Most I’d guess are a combination of all of the above.
Dan and I went to Brussels, Belgium last May. He was in Europe for work and it was my birthday – so we bought tickets for one of the cheapest places we could find that we hadn’t already been to and we met up in Brussels. OK – that’s only part true. We were hitting the three year mark for trying to start a family and part of this trip was to get away from doctor appointments and fertility drugs. With my birthday looming, there had started to be this sad little cloud in our home that we were trying really hard to ignore*. So we ran away to a land known for chocolate, beer, comics and fried potatoes. Like I said before – if the waffles had been vegan it would have been Utopia.
Whenever we travel I make a list of all the things I wish we could eat there but we couldn’t find veganized on our trip. Here enters Stoemp!
Stoemp is a mashed potato dish made with heavy cream and other root vegetables that’s often served with sausages on top. It’s at every pub in Belgium and from what I can tell is more of a “working class” meal that’s more Flemish than French. We made ours with sweet potatoes and parsnips because well – we are who we are and I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t have to tinker with things. We also used Tofurky Kielbasas to replace the bratwursts traditionally used because well – it’s a nice thing to do for animals and yourself. I recommend investing in some legit Belgian beer to really add that special touch though. Belgian beer is my very favorite in the all the beer world – not too hop-y and is easy to find.
Dan and I are starting over on this whole baby thing and I made this dish to see if maybe we could get back a little of that freedom we found in a few short days we got to spend in Belgium. I wish I could tell that this recipe tastes like Freedom – because honestly that’s an awesome thing to say but it tastes like love**. It confirms better than any deck of tarot cards could that love is real and that I have it.
Belgian Vegan Sweet Potato Stoemp with Sausages
3 Large Sweet Potatoes, cubed
2 Large Parsnips, diced
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Leek, sliced very thin
2 Tablespoons Margarine
1/2 Cup Better Than Bouillon, Vegetable Broth
1/2 teaspoon Nutritional Yeast (you may need a pinch more)
1 teaspoon Crushed Black Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Crushed Dried Rosemary
2 teaspoons Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acids
3 Tablespoons Almond Milk
1 Package Vegan Sausages, defrosted ( We recommend using Tofurky Kielbasas)
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/3 Cup Dark Belgian Beer (you may need a little more if you have a hot stovetop)
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 teaspoons Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acids
Dash of Liquid Smoke
1/2 teaspoon dried Thyme
1/2 teaspoon crushed dried Rosemary
1/4 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed Black Peppercorns
Pinch of Rubbed Sage
Pinch of Celery Seed
1 Tablespoon Fresh Parsley, diced
Heat oven to 250.
Boil your Sweet Potatoes and Parsnips until they are tender. Then drain out as much water as you possibly can. While your root vegetables are boiling, heat a tablespoon of Olive Oil in a deep cast iron skillet or sauce pan. Toss your Leek slices into the skillet once your oil is hot and cook until tender. Put your root vegetables and leeks back into the warm pot you boiled your root vegetables in. Add your remaining Stoemp ingredients and blend with an immersion blender or hand held mixer until creamy. If you want your Steomp to be thicker add more Nutritional Yeast or add more Vegetable Broth if you want it to be softer. Move your Stoemp to an oven safe baking dish and cover. Put in the oven to warm.
In the skillet you used for the Leeks, add another 2 tablespoons of Olive Oil and heat over a medium heat. Once your oil is hot, add your Sausages, Beer, Garlic, Braggs, Liquid Smoke, Thyme, Rosemary, Garlic Powder, Black Peppercorns, Celery Seed and Sage. Use a spatula to roll your sausages around and mix in your herbs. You want an even coating on your sausages – so keep ’em moving around. If your Beer is cooking down faster than you like, add a little more a teaspoon at a time. Cook for 15-20 minutes in the beer or until you start to get a light coating over the outside of your sausages – a little like the casing you find on the outside of real sausages.
Pull your Stoemp out of the oven and carefully remove the foil. Place your Sausages on top of your Stoemp and then drizzle the beer sauce in your skillet over the top of your sausages. Make sure you get all the garlic bits and stuff.
Serve hot with the Parsley over the top, the rest of that beer you’ve been cooking with and with someone you love – even if it’s just yourself***.
* And yeah – we came home in a few months were pregnant. We are in the process of “starting over” after losing Piper and I would be lying if I said that cloud hasn’t rolled in a few times these past few days. There’s been a lot of tears lately out of no where.
** It’s OK to to say GAH here – but don’t hold it against this recipe – my cheez-ball writing shouldn’t distract you from this excellent feast!
*** I know – I’m seriously gross today.