The Frosted Vegan
I am so pumped to have Abby Thompson of The Frosted Vegan here on the show today.
(*All images below are Abby’s.)
On Growing Up in a Home Where Food Was Enjoyed and Shared:
It was obviously awesome and delicious. In our house my mom was either making brownies on the weekend or my dad was making cookies after school, stuff like that. It just became a part of how I grew up, and when I moved away and started on my own that kind of fell off because mom and dad weren’t making them for me.
I loved baking, but I didn’t keep up with it. And especially when I turned vegan it became a little bit harder. I didn’t know if I would be able to keep up with all the baking and stuff like that. So, I just integrated it into my life and realized it was something that was part of my childhood and part of who I was.
It shaped how I looked at food, and treats were always an everyday thing. For some people they didn’t grow up with that, but for me it was just always something that was there.
On Being in the Kitchen:
This is kind of a weird story to remember, like baking and cooking, but I remember in middle school I did not make show choir. And I was so sad, but I was like, “I just need to make a pie.” So, I made a pie and I remember from then on it was like baking kind of solves everything. It feels awesome, I do it, and then I get a slice of pie at the end. So, it was great! It just started evolving from that.
I discovered in high school, you know, boys really like when you bring them cookies, or everyone is your friend if you bring them cakes! So, when I figured that out and I enjoyed it at the same time, it just started, like I said, becoming part of my everyday life.
I’ve always had a huge sweet tooth, and for some reason cooking doesn’t come easily to me. I have to have a recipe, I’m not just improvising dinner or anything like that. When I do it turns out not so great, so my fiance prefers I don’t improvise. But, it’s always been baking, I can kind of make up a muffin recipe and it’s no problem. I know that’s a little bit harder because baking is a little more scientific and exact, but for me it has just always come naturally. I can feel when it’s right, when it’s going to come out okay. It doesn’t always work, but most of the time it works.
A vegan diet generally means you’re not consuming any animal products. So, not only no meat, no fish, no dairy, so cheese, eggs, that kind of thing are out.
You can go from one extreme to the other.
Some people just stop at cheese and eggs. Others avoid all gelatin because gelatin has animal-dried products. Fish sauces and a lot of Thai dishes, stuff like that. Then, it expands into a vegan lifestyle so some people choose not to consume leather goods or have anything with animal-dried products. It’s a sliding scale of what extreme you want to go to. And then, on the other side of it, I kind of try to also approach it with a plant-based diet, so that’s also avoiding excessive oils, super-fatty products.
Some of the vegan products out there are not necessarily healthy, they’re vegan, doesn’t mean they’re healthy. So, it really depends on what extreme you’re on or what part of the scale you’re on. It means something different for everyone.
On Becoming Vegan:
I went vegan about three years ago.
I always grew up in a household where cheese is on everything, we had chicken, fish, all that kind of stuff. But, I had never been a huge meat eater, I never really liked it.
I was starting to slowly phase out the meat in my diet just because it didn’t really matter to me. Then, my dad actually went cold turkey vegan about three years ago. He watched Forks Over Knives, which is a documentary, and he just decided that he wanted to make a change. He wasn’t really feeling great, wanted to feel a lot better, and eat a lot better. Nothing had ever really stuck for him. So, he did that and then I was still living at home at the time so it was kind of a natural thing to follow along with it.
When I moved away from home I just kept following it because I realized I felt a lot better. My body just felt better when I didn’t eat certain foods, and I’ve just slowly gone more vegan over the years.
The meat part wasn’t as hard, but the dairy is hard. A lot of stuff like grilled cheese or things with cheese in them, you have to figure out what works if you want to use vegan cheese or cheese at all, stuff like that. I’m still figuring it out.
I’m sure it will be a lifelong journey to figure out what works and what tastes the best, to me. That’s what I like about it though because it doesn’t feel very stagnant. I’m always finding something new. It’s awesome what people are doing with vegan food now.
On Baking Vegan and Her Blog:
I originally started it because when I moved away my dad was still wanting to make all the baked goods that I grew up making, but he didn’t want to necessarily include all the vegan butters, or oils, and extra stuff like that. He wasn’t really sure how to approach it, so I wanted to start figuring it out, not only for him but myself, too.
It just progressed from wanting to share those recipes and figuring out, “Hey, maybe other people are looking for these, so I’ll just start a blog!” I kind of just had to figure out what egg replacements work, or what kind of oil replacements, or can I get rid of the oil? Stuff like that.
It’s really relearning because up until I went vegan, I was making croissants from scratch, and things with a lot of eggs in them, and I loved it, but then trying to relearn what’s going to work in place of those things was a challenge.
On the Biggest Misconception of Baking Vegan:
I think the biggest one is that it’s going to be gross. I know some of the commercially made vegan, baked goods I’ve had have not been great. They’ve come out dry, or too oily, or it’s just not the same.
I really want to make it so that if you give someone a cookie and they eat it, they’re not like, “Oh, is this vegan? I can tell.” I want it to be, “Oh, this a cookie and it’s great. I had no idea.” So, I think it’s fighting that misconception that things are automatically going to be disgusting because they’re vegan.
Coconut oil, more people are becoming familiar with it, but that’s a big one that I use a lot, especially in place of butter or different oils. I know it’s more of an up and coming ingredient, but I use that quite a bit.
Ground flax seed, I had never used until I started baking vegan and that, when you combine it with water and let it sit for a little bit, it becomes sort of a gel and makes a really good egg substitute in a lot of things.
Those are two of the main ones that I hadn’t really heard of. I try avoid using weird things or things that are hard to find because I know not everyone lives super close to Whole Foods or anything like that. So, those are my two main ones that I use quite a bit.
Then, just using high quality flours or agave nectar and stuff like that just helps substitute for some of those common ingredients.
One of the first food blogs that I followed that helped a lot was, Oh She Glows. She’s really well known, she has everything from cooking to baking. She goes more in-depth into some of the things when she makes vegan baked goods and it has helped quite a bit.
Dairyfreebaking.com. Dairy free might still include a few eggs, but more milk substitute, stuff like that, she goes into that. I’ve had her site come up a lot when I’ve looked for different things.
The Pressure Cooker:
Which food shows or cooking shows do you watch?
I don’t watch a ton of cooking shows, but when she’s on, Giada De Laurentiis. I watch her, I think she’s pretty inspiring.
Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, usually late at night it makes me really hungry so my fiance and I watch that quite a bit on a weekend night. Alton Brown shows when they were on, and I think those are the main ones.
I like Chopped too. It makes me think, “I can do anything in the kitchen!”
What are some food blogs or food websites we have to know about?
The First Mess, Laura writes that one and she’s awesome and totally inspiring. Vegan food that just, if you have it, again, you wouldn’t really know it’s vegan. She has an awesome writing style and I absolutely love it. I love her.
Cookie and Kate, she does amazing stuff with seasonal produce, and whenever I get my produce of the week, I know that she always has something that I can do anything with.
Cake Over Steak, Sara is awesome, I know she’s been on your podcast. And I love that she’s doing something different with using illustrations. I know she’s starting to do photography, but she does illustration and they’re awesome and amazing, so I love her things as well.
Then, let’s do one more, Joy the Baker, oh my gosh. She’s one of the first blogs I ever read. I would love to be the Joy the Baker of vegan baking.
Who do you follow on Pinterest, Instagram, or Facebook that make you happy?
Floating Kitchen, Liz over at Floating Kitchen, she lives on the east coast and she posts really awesome pictures. She lives by the beach and takes her dogs on walks and stuff like that. When it’s snowing here or really crappy, it’s cool to see her pictures of that.
Laura, again, of The First Mess, she does a lot of gardening and I love when she posts pictures of pulling radishes, or carrots, or anything like that. I think her dad does weekly deliveries to her, berries and things that he grows. So, I love seeing those things because it’s really cool. I think those are the ones I can think of off the top of my head.
What is the most unusual or treasured item in your kitchen?
My most treasured one at the moment is my Vitamix blender. I just got it about six months ago, and I use it almost every day, all the time. I’ve always wanted one so I’m glad I finally sprung for it.
Then another one is, it’s a measuring cup, which sounds weird, but it’s a tin measuring cup that my grandmother passed down to me. She grew up baking with it, I think it was her grandmother’s, and it’s really cool to use it. It’s super functional, and I love using it because I know it’s been passed down through baking generations in our family.
Name one ingredient you used to dislike but now you love.
Tomatoes. I use to not eat tomatoes in anything. I hated them. I hated chunks of them in anything, and I still wouldn’t like, eat one whole like some people do. But I’ve discovered that really good tomatoes, like fresh, summer tomatoes are amazing, and I love it now!
Then spinach too, I used to hate spinach. I grew my own spinach a couple years ago, and I loved it. So, I think the freshness really makes a difference.
What are a few cookbooks that make your life better?
The Bountiful cookbook which is by the White on Rice Couple, Todd and Diane, is awesome. Again, really focused on seasonal produce. They grow a lot of their own stuff, and it’s made it so much better because I’ll get something from the grocery store and think, “I don’t really know what to do with this. I’m going to look at this cookbook.” They have something amazing, very accessible, very easy, love their cookbook.
I have a baking cookbook from Williams Sonoma that I got several years ago that doesn’t have any vegan baking recipes in it, but it’s a super solid foundation for if I need a good jumping off point for a cake recipe or anything like that. I know that it’s going to be reliable, and even if I tinker with it with all my weird vegan stuff, it will probably come out or make a good foundation.
What song or album just makes you want to cook?
So, I’m a big fan of Pandora and I’ve really been into the song Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars. I think that song makes me say, “Okay, I can do this. Let’s get some cooking done. I am ready to go.”
On Keeping Posted with Abby: