Friday, June 17, 2011

Emily Dickinson, Poet, Baker, Vegetarian

Emily Dickinson is reported to have been a vegetarian. I have no idea how we know this, ('we' as in the general public, not the royal 'we') or what her reasons were. I did some basic googling and read some bio pages to see if I could come up with the source of this idea and I couldn't. Anyway, I just thought it would be cool to share a little about her today.

Many people know Emily Dickinson was a bit eccentric, reclusive, and depressed. Towards the end of her life, she wore only white- Memorial Day to Labor Day fashion rule be damned. And she would only talk to others as if she were confiding her sins in a confessional, on the other side of a barely open door.

She liked to bake and was supposedly very good at it. I found her recipe for Black Cake (aka Fruit Cake) online from the Library of America and I considered veganizing it and sharing that here. But I have to tell you, her version required 19 eggs and I am just not optimistic at the idea of using various egg replacers for that quantity. I whine when I see a recipe with 4 or 5 eggs, because it can get complicated in the substitution process, often requiring several different egg replacers. Experimental food chemistry is not my forte. But maybe you are braver and more ingenious than I am.

Rather than leave you with nothing, I did see these two recipes which are close to Emily's Black Cake. It is my opinion that, traditionally, fruit cake has been seasonal for winter simply because it used dried fruit instead of fresh fruit which I am sure back in the day was a bit harder to locate. So, in honor of Emily Dickinson who broke the 'rules' in many ways, go ahead and make a fruit cake for summer!

*Bryanna's Low-Fat Vegan Carrot Fruitcake
*Vegan Fruit Cake

For more about Emily Dickinson, I shall direct you to

Emily incorporated a lot of nature into her poetry. Here are a couple of poems I like, and a link to where you can find a huge selection of her work online.


Part One: Life

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.


Part One: Life

HOPE is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.


(And probably one of her most famous poems.)

Part Four: Time and Eternity

Because I could not stop for Death –
He kindly stopped for me –
The Carriage held but just Ourselves –
And Immortality.

We slowly drove – He knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility –

We passed the School, where Children strove
At Recess – in the Ring –
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain –
We passed the Setting Sun –

Or rather – He passed us –
The Dews drew quivering and chill –
For only Gossamer, my Gown –
My Tippet – only Tulle –

We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground –
The Roof was scarcely visible –
The Cornice – in the Ground –

Since then – 'tis Centuries – and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses' Heads
Were toward Eternity –


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