Sunday brunch with the family would include either fried Portuguese sausage, SPAM, or turkey bacon; eggs; steamed white rice; and possibly sweet cornbread, pancakes, or waffles. There may have been fresh melon slices, if they were available. The meat-egg-rice combination was typical to a Hawaiian "local-style" breakfast plate (an aspect of Hawaiian regional cuisine, if you want to be more technical). It was a staple, really; the meat was the central component of Sunday brunch--what made it a hot meal--and always accompanied with rice. These meals were greasy and heavy, perhaps befitting the slow pace of the remaining day.
As a vegan, I obviously don't consume animal products, so sausage, SPAM, bacon, and eggs are no longer part of my diet. I'm not a later riser or eater, either, nor do I prefer huge morning meals. Needless to say, eating brunch as it was back in my childhood isn't much of an option without certain adaptations.
For the sake of creativity and nostalgia, I decided to forgo my go-to breakfast of miso soup or green smoothie in favor of veganizing the Sunday brunch of my youth. Admittedly, it wasn't a particularly late meal (unless having dishes washed by 9AM is one's idea of a slow start), nor the greasy affair that this home-style event normally becomes. And I skipped the egg-substitute aspect altogether. I couldn't finish everything, either (ah, more leftovers). But it was still an interesting experiment that reminded me of days long gone.
I decided to make waffles, because my current belief is that brunch is incomplete without bread of some sort--be it a waffle, pancake, quick bread, or even just toast. In an homage to Sunday laziness, I took a wing-it approach to preparing club soda waffles (the type my mom usually cooked). Basically, I threw in a few things that needed to be used up--namely, almond pulp and the dregs of a jar of unsweetened applesauce--and made sure that I added the all-important club soda. It was very much a move born of necessity, because I don't use baking mixes. It's apparently difficult to botch waffles, anyway. In an odd twist of fate, these vegan club soda waffles was probably the most successful of all my attempts so far. At their best, they had the proper crispness and airy texture, albeit borderline burnt in some areas. I'll have to tinker with the formula a bit more before establishing a reliable recipe.
Of course, my nostalgic brunch required "meat" with a side of rice. (Expect to see white rice a few more times this week. It's a staple of my childhood meals and backbone of Hawaiian-style meals in general.) I attempted to make Portuguese seitan "sausage" from scratch, but the flavoring still isn't quite right. It's another thing I'll have to revisit (again). It was still good, mind you, and thankfully, not nearly as fatty as the real thing.
Although vegetables didn't usually figure into breakfast or brunch back in the day, the plate needed something green. This was already a reinterpretation that I don't claim to be authentic, so I saw no harm in catering to my veggie-craving adult self by including a little pile of broccoli pickles. Same goes for the small bunch of grapes on the side.
I can't say it was one of my more successful attempts at recreating a non-vegan meal from childhood, but it was nostalgia-inducing and tasty all the same. Such is the nature of this ongoing experiment. Stay tuned for more breakfast-related goodies tomorrow.
What was a typical brunch for you as a child?