Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I'm alive! I promise!

I have been such a bad blogger lately! My husband was sick for over a week... and then I of course caught it, thankfully my cold wasn't nearly as bad and didn't stick around as long. But there's my excuse! I did make one of my specialties while Ian was sick, so I thought I'd share it here. It's a perfect use for that week old chinese take out rice still in your fridge (though I'm pretty sure our rice was more then a week old, oops!). I start by spraying a small sauce pan with cooking spray and warming the rice to get it back in "rice" shape instead of shaped like a box. I like to burn a few kernals of rice a bit to give it some crunch. Then I add a cup of vegetable broth, we use a powdered broth that you add water to so it's always on hand. These powdered broths can tend to be a bit bland so I added about a teaspoon of garlic salt and some red pepper flakes to the pot as well. The amount of broth should just thicken with the rice, meaning there shouldn't be more broth then rice. I allow that to warm a bit and then add a cup of soy milk (I actually used hemp milk because we had a little bit left and I knew I wouldn't use it in anything else). At this point there should be a "soupy" but thick texture to the dish, add more vegetable broth if desired. The soy milk gives the dish a nice creamy flavor but don't over do it for fear it will come out too sweet or "beany" tasting.

When we use broccoli I always save the stems to use, as well as any bits of carrots I happen to not need in any particular recipe (usually I just get sick of chopping carrots at some point so I save the other bits for a rainy day). So I did a coarse chop on these bits and pieces as well as some mushrooms that had been in my fridge WAYY TOO LONG. They were all dried and shriveled but had not yet developed any mold or anything. Then I throw in a few pats of Earth Balance to taste and maybe a sprinkle of salt and pepper.So there you have it. Sort of an everything but the kitchen sink rice dish. It tends to be bland, depending on your left overs but it's nice to warm you up and soothe the aches and pains from a cold (or a bad day at work).

Since I bake every night I decided to take some pictures of where I bake... sort of a get out of jail free card for now!

So this is my awesome work station. Notice the anti-SUV sticker and the mock "Gingerbread Man" horror poster... I work in an awesome bakery! Haha I just noticed you can see my book all the way at the end of the table there... I never leave home without a book, it sort of a compulsion of mine. That was Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. If you're at all interested in food culture, slow food, or heirloom vegetables it's a great read. Hell if you just like food a lot it's pretty great to read too.
Hey, did you know bananas split into three equal pieces? Well I sure didn't my husband showed me, I was throughly wowed! I make two coffee cakes, bran muffins, gingerbread muffins, two specialty muffins, 6-8 types of cookies, 3-4 types of scones, a brownie, a trail mix bar, and a specality bar, macaroons, and peanut butter chocolate cookies every day! It's a mix of conventional and vegan baking which is nice, of course I'd rather it be 100% vegan but I'll take what I can get for now! Though I did see a bloody egg yolk the other day and was cemented in my own food choices from that point on. My vegan chocolate chip cookies sold out by 10am last saturday! I was so proud.

Speaking of which...Two dozen of these little guys are on their way to LA California to meet their fate at the hands of some of my buddies. It's a recipe I've been working on forEVER and I think I'll keep it top secret for now... they're perfectly chewy and they just make my heart so happy, I've made probably 5 batches in the last 2 weeks because Ian keeps gobbling them up. But Your Vegan Mom did post a link to a GREAT cookie recipe the other day... try that one out and mess around with it... you'll probably be pretty close to mine :).

Speaking of Your Vegan Mom, I made the recipe for Southern Seitan she posted the other night... it was delicious.This southern girl was disturbingly happy with the results. It was delicious to say the least.

I hope everyone is enjoying their spring! Melisser The Urban Housewife is visiting my part of the world this week and it looks like we'll be hitting up the Saturday market in Portland... I hear rumbles of vegan elephant ears that just make my heart pitter patter.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Spring is in the air...

It's 5am & I have not yet been to bed yet (well that's a lie I'm in bed now)... I LOVE my bakery gig and I'm so excited it's turned into 5 nights a week, but this recent trend of not getting to sleep until Ian wakes up for class (usually around 7am) is mighty frustrating. Sleeping in until 1 or 2pm (no matter that I'm still only getting 6-7 hours of sleep a night) makes me feel incredibly lazy!

Fitzgerald (our cat) LOVES it by the way. He can cuddle up with Dad and when he gets bored come over to Mom for a petting and stretching session. I wonder if my cat has always been an insomniac or if he's recently developed similar sleeping habits to me? Lylah (our dog) isn't bothered in the least by my new habits. She sleeps all night with Dad and all day with Mom-- pretty perfect plan in her opinion. They both sleep all day anyway (see picture, yes that's how they sleep I'm telling you they're BFF's it's so weird) so I guess my habits don't effect them much.

While browsing the aisles of a craft store today I got the (in my opinion) genius idea to try regular 'ole rubber stamps on fondant-- it works! I made some medallions to top cupcakes with-- all the beauty of fondant decoration but without the need to eat it. These little guys just fancy a cupcake up and can (but don't have to be) eaten.

I made 5 pounds of fondant when I made my batch last time-- which was silly of me of course but I wasn't sure if it would turn out right, if I'd have to cover the cake 1 million times (hey I had to do it twice since my cat sat on the first one)-- so I have LOTS left over. I decided to test out my stamp hypothesis and make a new cupcake recipe at the same time-- both were stunning successes in my humble opinion.
You may (or may not) recall a post I had here before I was a vegan about Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake. While making Ian a sandwhich today I wondered if the recipe would work with Veganaise. I was worried that the eggs in the Mayo were an important part to the recipe-- but I'm glad I finally decided to try out the substitution... it worked, and worked WELL. When I went back to the original post I noticed I didn't list sugar-- that didn't seem right, and it wasn't so here is the new, improved and animal friendly recipe:

Chocolate No-Mayo Cupcakes
2 cups flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup Veganaise
1 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla **Next time I make these, because there will be a next time, I will use a Tablespoon of vanilla**

Preheat Oven to 350. Sift the dry ingredients together. "Cream" The rest together, combine wet with dry. Bake for 25 minutes. Yup. It's that easy. These tend to rise a bit more then I expected so don't over fill your cupcake liners (as I tend to do because vegan cupcakes don't seem to rise as much)!

These cupcakes are moist and light but aren't super rich or flavorful. I will add more vanilla next go around and maybe some espresso powder or carmel extract!

I dolloped them with a generous heap of V.B.C. (Vegan Butter Cream) and my little fondant toppers. I think they're super cute for spring!For the toppers I rolled out some green fondant (colored with green gel food coloring) about 1/4 inch thick. I pressed in the rubber stamp with firm, even pressure. I used the lid of a spice jar to cut out the circles and then lightly dusted some edible pearl powder with a paint brush.

And just for kicks, because I'm incredibly bored:

1. Favorite non-dairy milk? EdenSoy "Spy" Milk (thanks to Melisser The Urban Housewife) though we always have at least Soy, Hemp & Hazelnut milk in the fridge at any given time.

2. What are the top 3 dishes/recipes you are planning to cook?

this week?
vegan pizza purses from VeganYumYum
mini green bean casseroles (I got the BEST little mini dishes)
bean ball subs

3. Topping of choice for popcorn?
thai chili oil

4. Most disastrous recipe/meal failure? i followed a recipie EXACTLY from VWAV but it was WAY too salty-- i had to throw it away ):

5. Favorite pickled item? jalapenos or dill pickles

6. How do you organize your recipes? In a recipie box

7. Compost, trash, or garbage disposal?
Trash & Compost at work

8. If you were stranded on an island and could only bring 3 foods...what would they be (don't worry about how you'll cook them)?

mashed potatoes (with LOTS of earth balance and dill)
italian marinated tofu
ginger marinated portabello caps

OH NO I FORGOT DESSERT! THIS IS IMPOSSIBLE I CAN'T DO IT (thankfully I don't do island/beach/deserted things so I will never be in this cake-less situation)

9. Fondest food memory from your childhood?
my grandma's "church windows" (dark chocolate log peppered with mini colored marshmallows)

10. Favorite vegan ice cream?
Coffee Coconut Bliss, incredible

11. Most loved kitchen appliance?
my cast iron skillet

12. Spice/herb you would die without? dill

13. Cookbook you have owned for the longest time?
i have my stepmom's first copy of The Joy of Cooking-- not exactly vegan friendly but a great jumping off point.

14. Favorite flavor of jam/jelly? strawberry

15. Favorite vegan recipe to serve to an omni friend?
buffalo style tofu

16. Seitan, tofu, or tempeh? tofu

17. Favorite meal to cook (or time of day to cook)? i'm a big brunch person

18. What is sitting on top of your refrigerator? haha vegan fondant decorations (they're drying in a paper bag) and posters we need to frame (its the only place in our house our animals cant get to!)
19. Name 3 items in your freezer without looking.
I honestly do not have three things in my freezer-- we're big "fresh" heads here, but I do have local, organic frozen mixed berries & strawberries for making smoothies.

20. What's on your grocery list?
We actually went today so nothing (for once). Today the long list included soy milk, roasted red peppers and hearts of palm

21. Favorite grocery store? First Alternative Co-Op

22. Name a recipe you'd love to veganize, but haven't yet.
Creme Brulee. My all time favorite desert

23. Food blog you read the most (besides Isa's because I know you check it everyday). Or maybe the top 3?

Vegan Yum Yum
How To Eat A Cupcake
The Urban Housewife

24. Favorite vegan candy/chocolate? (premade?) I know this is so bad to admit but Oreos : /

25. Most extravagant food item purchased lately?
a ten dollar bottle of vanilla extract o_o