Macaroni and ‘cheeze’ (yummy, yummy vegan sauce from with peas in and baked with french fried onions on top, black eyed peas (so darn good cooked with a little onion and some salt and pepper), cabbage sauteed with very finely chopped onion in vegan butter with a bit of lemon juice salt and pepper,  corn bread, and– oh my gosh these were sooo good, way better than they should have been– pumpkin pie brownies from the PPK, each decorated with nine chocolate chips for our new year.

Oh. Man. These aren’t fit to eat. You better not have any.

My husband has no sweet tooth– his favorite dessert is seconds or thirds– but he finished his and the baby’s too. That is unprecedented. I can’t remember him doing that ever, in our life together. He likes dark chocolate, and I get him the expensive stuff, and he eats, like, one square per day. And once in a while he’ll have an ice cream sandwich with the baby. And that’s the extent of it.

Wait. One time when we were dating and watching Chocolat, between us we finished off a whole pan– all eight of my awesome huge apple dumplings.

But never since.

I think part of the reason they (the brownies, the dumplings are another story) were so good was that I made my own pumpkin puree. I had promised my stepson pumpkin pie for Christmas dinner, and then the one my husband bought frozen came out of the box really scary looking… This year, for the second year in a row my attempt to grow pumpkins in the garden so my baby could pick her own was a miserable failure. But I still had two small sugar pumpkins I’d bought at Halloween but hadn’t decorated (hoping Daddy would cut one with the baby but I am telling you, the season was passing us by even then! I cut two white pumpkins into skulls with black glitter eye sockets and mouths, but that was it), they weren’t looking or smelling bad yet, so I cut ’em, scraped out the seeds, roasted ’em and scraped the yummy bits away from the peel and pureed in the food processor.

My improvised vegan pumpkin pie was, well, okay, pretty yummy, but, well, just okay. My stepson ate three pieces which made me feel better but… you know. He has my terrible sweet tooth, in fact his is worse than mine. And I am just thankful I didn’t renege on my promise. Food is serious stuff, at my house. It is absolutely a currency or language of love for me anyway, and now it is one of the few remaining ways I can reach out to my two teenagers.

So some times you improvise and it is okay, sometimes it’s stellar, sometimes it would have been better if you hadn’t… But I think the fresh homemade pumpkin puree is what put these brownies over the top. They were just–ooooh, too good!

It was all so tasty. I’m right proud of myself– simple and country (cept for those decadent pumpkin brownies!), but healthy and elegant too.  Yum, yum, yum!  Another New Year’s Resolution:  Keep working on adding soul food flavor and Southern fried satisfaction to vegan meals. Mmm. Mmm.