“When one door closes, another door opens.” I’ve heard this saying many times throughout my life. I never knew that the quote is attributed to Alexander Graham Bell and I never heard this other, and perhaps more poignant, part of the saying :“but we so often look so long and regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.”
I thought about how fitting this saying is for how I got to this point in my life of sharing my plant-based journey and culinary escapades with you.
When we moved to Delaware in 2010, I was still eating meat, fish and dairy. About three years ago we adopted a plant-based diet. I felt as if a big door was about to slam right in my face. After all, cooking and sharing food has always brought me so much satisfaction and joy. It’s a part of who I am. Life would never be the same. Living so close to the Chesapeake Bay, we enjoyed some of the best crab cakes in the country for the first two years living here. Only two years! It didn’t seem fair that I would never enjoy crab cakes again. There I was looking so regretfully upon that door and so many other closed doors that I couldn’t see what lied ahead.
Fast forward to yesterday when Mom and I set out for eastern Pennsylvania hunting for some Royal Trumpet mushrooms with which to make Mushroom Bacon. (More on that recipe in a future post.) I found them at a mushroom store called The Woodlands in Kennett Square. While there I became re-acquainted with Pom Pom mushrooms. When the girl at the store mentioned that some people use Pom Poms to make Mushroom Crab Cakes, I felt as if I had to wedge my foot in that door and keep it open long enough to get a peak. (And I liked what I saw.) With a half-pound bag of Pom Poms and a recipe clenched in my hand I headed for home.
I decided to use the technique of browning the mushrooms from their recipe and the ingredients from one I’d been using for years to come up with this recipe. It’s pretty straight forward: saute onions and celery, brown the mushrooms with nori seaweed dust and Old Bay, stir in bread crumbs, vegan mayo and seasonings, then brown them. I used the mayo recipe from the Non-Dairy Evolution cookbook, but you can use any vegan mayo you like. Trying to keep the fat content as low as possible, I cooked them on an ungreased electric griddle and they browned up beautifully. I drizzled on a little leftover Mornay sauce from the same cookbook, but you can make some tartar sauce using the mayonnaise, capers and pickle relish. All I can say is that this meal was a joy to put together and a delight to eat.
I couldn’t see it three years ago, but I see it so clearly now. A door was closing. Yes, we did live close to the Chesapeake Bay, but I wouldn’t be able to eat crab cakes (or meat,or dairy or eggs) again. What I didn’t realize was that another door was opening. We live just minutes away from some local farms that produce wonderful vegetables, fruits and, yes, mushrooms. This crab cake-mushroom analogy really represents just one small door in my life. The bigger door that has opened is the one that has lead to a healthier, cleaner and more humane lifestyle. There are no regrets about that. I hope you can hunt down some Pom Pom mushrooms where you live and try this recipe. It’s bound to put you in a good mood. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.
Pom Pom Mushroom
Sauteed Pom Pom Mushrooms
Crabby Pom Pom Mushroom Cakes
Makes 3 servings
- ½ cup water plus ½ teaspoon Better Than Bouillon “No Chicken” base (or vegetable broth)
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 large celery stalk, chopped
- Olive oil
- ½ lb. Pom Pom mushrooms, broken into bite size pieces
- 2 teaspoons Nori seaweed dust, or to taste *
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon reduced sodium Old Bay seasoning, or to taste
- 3 tablespoons bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise
- ½ teaspoon reduced sodium soy sauce
- Few drops of hot sauce
*To make seaweed dust, place ½ sheet of sushi seaweed in coffee mill or mini chop and process until finely ground.
Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper.
In non-stick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of broth. Add onion and celery and saute until lightly browned, adding more broth to prevent sticking. Remove to large mixing bowl.
Lightly coat skillet with oil and heat on high. Add mushroom pieces and saute until lightly browned. Add seaweed dust, sugar and Old Bay and continue to saute about 2 additional minutes. Add to vegetables in mixing bowl. Stir in bread crumbs, mayonnaise, soy sauce and hot sauce. Form into three cakes, place on parchment paper and refrigerate for at least one hour.
Heat an electric griddle on high and cook cakes until browned on both sides. You can also use a non-stick skillet that’s lightly coated with oil.