Tuesday, September 30, 2008


At the Co-op,  the end of the month is time for inventory.  In my current job, I don't really have to do anything for inventory, except occasionally troubleshoot some problems with our handheld terminals and the reports they generate.  So in the spirit of cooperation and in the memory of late nights counting bread in the freezer, I'll take an inventory of what I've canned so far this year.  All ingredients are either homegrown, local, organic, or some combination of the three.

Tomato Sauce- 12 quarts
Pickles (hot and regular dill)- 15 quarts
Salsa- 9 1/2 pints
Tomatillo salsa- 2 pints
Pickled jalapenos- 11 half-pints
Seitan Soup- 2 quarts
Summer Squash Soup- 5 quarts
Corn relish- 8 pints
Whole tomatoes- 3 quarts
Peach pie filling- 2 quarts
Apple butter- 3 1/2 pints
Cherries- 7 pints
Spiced Apple syrup- 4 pints
Peach jam- 9 pints
Peach chutney- 2 pints
Jalapeno Jam- 4 half-pints
Mulberry Jam- 5 half-pints
Strawberry Jam- 24 half-pints

See what I mean about needing a shelf for all this stuff?!
In the freezer is another story.  

By the way, I'll be participating in Vegan MoFo again this year.  For those that missed out on November 2007's festivities, Vegan MoFo is short for Vegan Month of Food.  It's essentially a blogging challenge.  I'll try to post 5 times a week during the month of October.  I'd say every weekday, but I'll probably post on the weekends and forfeit a weekday if needed.  For a list of all the other vegan bloggers participating, go here.  Beware, though.  Once you start following the 200 or so blogs, you'll never clean the house or cook or see your family again.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Chocolate Almond Bread

Oh, yum.  You have to try this bread.  Celine's 2 for 2 on her most recent bread recipes.  They're both winners, but this is a bread that you can eat without toasting, adding Earth Balance, or anything.  Just the same, you could make a kick ass peanut butter sandwich on it and make your children the most popular kids at the lunchtable.  

Her recipe is for Chocolate Raspberry Bread, but mine is a Chocolate Almond variation.  Here's the recipe again, but with my minor changes.  I take no credit for this recipe- It's all Celine (or at least her adaptations from the Betty Crocker's Bread Machine Cookbook).

Chocolate Almond Bread

makes a 1 1/2-pound loaf = 12 slices

1 cup + 2 T almond milk
2 T margarine
1/2 t pure vanilla extract
1/2 t almond extract
1 1/2 cup bread flour [lightly spooned & leveled]
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour [same]
1 T vital wheat gluten
1 T soy milk powder
3 T Sucanat
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips [they won't melt completely during the baking process, which makes for scrumptious discoveries while biting into the bread.]
3/4 t fine sea salt
1 1/2 t instant-rise yeast
1/3 cup chopped almonds

place all ingredients in your bread machine pan, following the manufacturer’s instructions. select “light crust” & “basic” settings. don’t forget to also select the appropriate loaf size setting. Remove from pan once bread is done baking, let cool completely before slicing and storing.

adapted from Betty Crocker’s Bread Machine Cookbook

Now I don't have a bread machine, but I just followed the adaptations that Celine provided.

Beans for Breakfast

Here's one of my "beans for breakfast" crockpot recipes:

2 cups dry cannellini beans, soaked 8 hours and drained
6-8 cups water or broth
2 bouillon cubes (omit if using broth)
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, thickly sliced
3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
2 Tbsp. fresh oregano, minced
Black pepper to taste
salt to taste 
6 large sage leaves, minced
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

I used 1 regular Rapunzel herb bouillon cube and one "no salt added" cube and enough water to cover the soaked beans by about an inch.  I just put everything except the salt, sage, and balsamic vinegar into the crockpot and cooked on high for 10 hours.   Then, after making sure the beans were plenty tender, I added the minced sage and balsamic vinegar.  Then I added salt to suit my tastes.  It ended up being about a teaspoon. 

The beans can be served as a soup or just as beans with a bit of amazing broth, depending on how much water/broth you added.  I like it as a soup for breakfast, sopped up with some homemade bread!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

More Sauce

Tonight I made another 7 quarts of tomato sauce.  I used an entire case of tomatoes and about 5 pounds of onions purchased from the co-op and farmers' market.  In order to make this sauce, I also had to procure some wine.  

Now, I'll be the first to admit that I don't know jack about wine.  In fact, ALL I know is that I don't care much for white wine and I care even less for red.  But what I do know are the USDA organic standards. And I butted heads a bit with a staff person at a local wine shop over organic wines.

I stopped in on Friday and asked for some organic red wine that was reasonably priced to use for cooking.  The woman showed me a bottle right away.  I noticed that the label said nothing about how the grapes were grown and also said "contains sulfites".  The woman reassured me that although the wine wasn't certified organic, she knew it was grown sustainably.  As for the sulfites, she insisted that wines only contain sulfites because of the naturally occurring sulfites in the grapes and that whether it contains sulfites or not doesn't have anything to do with its organic status. My gut said, "That's wrong!  You know better, Liz!"  But instead, I bought the wine and went home to do a little research.

Sure enough, my gut was right.  While sulfites do naturally occur in wines (from the grapes and due to the fermentation process), most wine makers add additional sulfur dioxide as a preservative.  Unless a label says "no added sulfites" or "sulfite free" or is certified organic, you can assume sulfur dioxide has been added.  

Now, I'm not allergic to sulfites (that I know of), but I just don't like chemical preservatives added to my foods.  I like my dried apricots brown, not neon orange, thank you very much.  I also like my raisins brown, not weirdly golden.  It only makes sense to keep those standards for my homemade tomato sauce.

So in true food snobbery fashion, I returned my sulfured wine and assured the staff at the wine shop that being certified organic DOES mean something about sulfites.  It means there is no sulfur dioxide added to the sulfites already naturally present in the wine.  After questioning me about why I cared about such things, they showed me a nice bottle of certified organic wine that was sulfite-free and cheaper than the previous bottle.  I left a satisfied customer, although I'm sure a "difficult" one.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Happy Blogiversary to Me!

A year ago today I decided to start this food blog.  
And now, after nearly 200 posts and 10,810 unique visitors (28,366 pageviews), I'm still sitting here in my kitchen nook, staring at my computer and typing away about food and gardening.  

I must say, I didn't really expect to feel like I had friends online because of this little blog.  And I didn't expect to truly enjoy writing about my food-related thoughts so much.  But there really is a rich online food blogging community and I love having a small part in it.

I really hoped to hit my 200th post on this day, but I've spent the last few days doing nothing but watching CSI NY marathons, knitting, and eating ice cream.  I'm in my moon lodge now (as my yoga teacher would say) and not really up for big cooking projects.  

So here's a list of my favorite moon lodge comforts:
  • Coconut Craze Purely Decadent soy ice cream
  • Whole Grain Milling Co. organic yellow corn chips with homemade salsa
  • Anything that involves frozen peanut butter
  • Carrots with ranch dressing (made with Veganaise)
  • Super spicy-gingery dahl
  • Buckets of homemade hummus
  • Lemonade
  • Pickles, olives, and other salty treats that contribute to bloating
  • Brownies, cupcakes, and straight up frosting
  • Popcorn with tons of flax oil and nutritional yeast
  • My massage chair
  • Tiger Balm 
  • Seriously warm socks
  • TV marathons of any type, but preferably some sort of CSI/Law and Order show
  • Sweeties that will bring me more chips and ice cream when I need them
  • Cramp bark, Vitamin B6, and borage oil
  • Hot water bottles, hot tea, and snuggly kittens

I'll feel better soon (like tomorrow morning, hopefully) and then I'll go to work again and get started on the case of roma tomatoes sitting in my kitchen waiting to become tomato sauce.  

For now, though, I'll relish this do-nothing-ness that happens once a month.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Friends with Benefits

It's good to have friends.  Especially friends who make jam.

From left to right:
Door County Cherry Jam by Elizabeth
Zestar Apple Jelly by Morgen
Spiced Michigan Peach Jam by Jess

Not pictured:
Blueberry Grape Jam by Elizabeth
Mustard Pickles by Morgen

How lucky am I?  Not only do I have friends I can talk to about canning and preserving- I have friends who GIVE me homemade jam!  Of course, there are usually reciprocal gifts from me, but that's part of the fun.  

It would be super sweet to officially organize a group of canners to do trades with.  Of course, if it was official we'd probably have to get some intense insurance in case someone canned up some botulism with their green beans.  Maybe people could just sign waivers.  

Sunday, September 21, 2008

As Local as Thai Gets in MN

I've been on a mission the last few days to get some really flavorful, awesome Thai food.  My seemingly simple goal was thwarted on Friday when Mango, the delicious-smelling Thai place on Selby Ave. didn't have any dishes without fish sauce (except a curry and that didn't fit the craving).  I suppose it's for the best, as I would eat there every day for lunch if it was really good.

Then last night I took myself out to dinner at Supatra, a great Thai place on W. 7th street.  I was thrilled when they said the hot & sour soup was vegan, but disappointed when I was served a bowl of plain vegetable broth with mixed vegetables in it.  Not hot.  Not sour.  I had this item removed from my tab.

Luckily, the Spicy Noodles with Thai Basil (without the egg) were delicious, rich, and plenty filling- although not spicy.  I left only partially satisfied.  

So tonight I'm trying to quench the craving myself.  I have lemongrass, jalapenos, and tomato from my garden, plus tons of onion, broccoli, and yams from local farms.  Surely I can pull this off... You can't expect anyone else to please you if you can't please yourself, right?!

Thai Tofu & Yams

First, get the tofu and sauce ready:
2-3 stalks of lemongrass, minced
1 jalapeno or other hot pepper, minced
1 large red onion, thickly sliced
4 Tbsp. lime juice
4 kaffir lime leaves
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. salt
1 large tomato, peeled and seeded, diced
1 12 oz. pack of extra firm tofu, drained and cubed

Combine all ingredients in a sealable container and mix thoroughly.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  It'll look like this:

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 F and prepare the yams:

2 large yams, cubed
1-2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. lime juice
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 tsp. ancho chile powder (or other chile powder for more spice)
1 tsp. dried lemongrass
1 tsp. kosher salt
Half of the onions picked out of the marinade

Toss all ingredients in a glass baking dish.  Bake for 30-40 minutes or until yams are tender and lightly browned.
Pick out the tofu cubes from the marinade and place them on a greased or parchment lined baking sheet.  It's okay it bits of tomato, garlic, peppers, etc. stick to the tofu.  Bake for 20 minutes, then stir and bake for 10-20 more minutes, or until browned.

While this is baking, steam up some broccoli or something else that's green and good for you.

Then prepare the sauce:

Remaining marinade
2 Tbsp. jam (I used peach)
1 Tbsp. cornstarch, mixed with 3 Tbsp. cold water
salt to taste
crushed red chilies to taste

Put the remaining marinade in a small saucepan and add the jam.  Bring the sauce to a boil and simmer until remaining onions are tender.  Then add the cornstarch and water mixture and stir until the sauce has thickened.  Carefully taste the sauce and adjust salt and spiciness to taste.

Serve the yams, broccoli, and tofu mixed together or separately, but be sure to drizzle the sauce over everything.  Garnish with minced fresh Thai basil.

While this is clearly not a traditional Thai recipe, it has the lemongrass, chilies, and lime that I crave from Thai food.  I'll give it an 8 out of 10 on satisfying my Thai craving.  

By the way, if Thai style yams freak you out, just make the tofu and sauce.  It's good all on its own or over rice.


I need to prioritize on my days off of work or I'll try to do too much and get overwhelmed.

Yesterday was cleaning day extraordinaire. I scrubbed every inch of the living room and bathroom. So today I'd really like to finish the rest of the house (or at least the kitchen). But with my to do list looking like this, I know I can't do it all.

To do:

Go to target for dog food and TP

Go to farmer's market for case of tomatoes

Make and can apple butter

Make and can tomato sauce

Grocery shop at the co-op

Bake bread for this week

Get canning jars at hardware store

Harvest from the garden

Clean the kitchen

Go to the yarn store

Practice yoga

Relax a bit

Some of these things will have to be put off. I can't make my favorite pasta sauce without wine and all the liquor stores are closed on Sunday.

But I HAVE to get dog food or Hannah will eat me for dinner. And not harvesting the garden means lost food.

Since the eat local challenge ended I realized that my kitchen has been nearly purged of all preprepared foods. I'm going to try to stick with that, even if I'll be adding non-local foods like rice back into my life.

Sometimes its tough having a self-selected duty and passion for producing and preserving foods, though. It's a lot easier to eat from a box. Like last night: I was so hungry, but it was midnight and there were no quick and easy options. All I wanted was a box of Mac and chreese or a frozen pizza or something! We'll see how I do today... I should probably add "make a pizza crust" to my to do list!

Thursday, September 18, 2008


I just realized I can blog from my phone. This could be trouble.
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


My newest love is to use my crockpot/slow cooker to cook soup or beans overnight.  Some folks like waking up to oatmeal cooking in the slow cooker, but I prefer spicy black beans.  Seriously, when I know there are hot beans and toasted homemade bread slathered with Earth Balance in my immediate future, I get out of bed with a pep in my step.

Sadly, I don't have any pictures or recipes for you because I've just been throwing some soaked beans, cumin, tomatoes, onion, greens, etc. into the pot and then going to bed.  Plus, beans on toast isn't that pretty to look at so you might not want pictures.

But really, you should try this.  It's the most satisfying and hearty breakfast ever.  

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What's a few inches?

I've been loving Celine's Foolproof Yeast Bread for the past 2 days.  First I made it with regular whole wheat flour, soymilk, and sugar for the sweetener.  But last night I mixed it up and used a hefty amount of curry powder and garam masala in the dough.  YUM!  Imagine the smell of baking bread wafting through your house PLUS the smell of a curry simmering on the stove. Next time I might use coconut milk for the liquid in the recipe to add more curry-ness.  And apples would be good in there, too.

I made a discovery last night that will forever change how my baking turns out. I haven't been able to figure out why the heck my breads haven't been holding their rise in the oven and why they have rock hard crusts lately.

Well, I've been using an oven thermometer since my oven is not very accurate with its temperature...but over time the thermometer has inched closer to the door.  Turns out the difference between close to the door and a few inches back is about 50 degrees!  I've been blasting my bread at about 450-500 F for a few weeks now!

Needless to say, the loaf last night was the best bread I've made in weeks and I am savoring every curry-infused piece.   

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Where the heck do I put all these jars?

I have a serious problem.  My pantry is full, but I can't stop canning! 

 I've started just leaving my canned goods on the kitchen table, thinking I'll find a place to put them soon enough.  But they're still here.

Last night I canned 2 quarts of peach pie filling, 4 half-pints of peach chutney, and 10.5 pints of peach jam.  But I already had 10 half-pints of cherries and 4 pints of spiced apples sitting on the table.  Oh, and three 16 oz bottles of tabasco vinegar.  So it's time to find a place for this stuff.  

I could keep it in the basement and just pull some shelves out of a dumpster somewhere...but things in the basement tend to get forgotten.  Like wet laundry. And the exercise machine.  

I'm hoping to somehow transform the useless space in the stairway to the basement into shelving, but really want my partner to help since he knows how to operate the saws and such.

On another subject- 
I found some pictures from meals in the last week or so that I meant to post and forgot about.

This was a rockin' good stirfry made with all local veggies!  What a difference a few months makes in the local harvest- I had garden broccoli, farmer's market carrots, WI onions, MN garlic, and a glaze made with some (not local) orange juice, sesame oil, tamari, and cornstarch.  On top is some tofu marinated in the glaze ingredients and baked at about 450 for 20 minutes.  Super crispy and amazing!

This looks really boring, but it was bursting with flavor.  I coated some little local potatoes with olive oil and covered them in smoked paprika, garlic, cayenne pepper, cumin, and salt.  Then I roasted them until they were tender. They turned out nice and spicy, so it helped to have some cool coleslaw nearby!
This was from Friday.  Doesn't it just look like a perfect day off of work?
I finished reading "Pickled, Potted & Canned: How the art and science of food preserving changed the world" by Sue Shepard.  If you are at all interested in food preserving, you should read this book.  It is fascinating!

The soup has a spice/aromatic base of crushed coriander (from the garden), cumin seed, fennel seed, salt, jalapeno, onion, and garlic.  I lightly browned the onions and spices in a bit of olive oil and then added about 2 cups of chopped butternut squash, 1 huge peeled, seeded, and chopped heirloom tomato, and enough water to cover.  I let this simmer until the squash was tender (15 min?) and then pureed it.  Even Mike liked it and he hates squash.

Today I need to preserve the pile of tomatillos from the garden, the grocery bag full of apples "rescued" from an abandoned house, and bake some bread.  But I have a co-op local foods picnic to prepare for (including making coleslaw)...so we'll see how far I get (and where the heck I put it all!)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Best Breakfast Ever

Over piles of pizza on Tuesday night, some friends asked if I had made cinnamon rolls before.  Al had great luck with the "Better than Cinnabon" recipe.  I've been drooling over all the cinnamon roll food porn on the PPK and various blogs, but haven't attempted anything myself.  I just couldn't bring myself to make a batch of hot, gooey cinnamon rolls that my wheat-free partner wouldn't be able to eat.  (Also, because then I'd eat the entire batch myself).

But today is a day off of work.  The sun is shining and the animals woke me up at 8:30am.  It is a perfect day for gluten-free cinnamon rolls!

I started with the recipe here.  I subbed some ingredients to make them vegan and then switched out the flour to make them a bit more...something.  Baking with only starches (corn, potato, tapioca) makes me feel like I'm baking with a cloud or something.  It's just not sturdy enough.  So I used some millet flour in the mix.  See recipe below:

Gluten-Free Vegan Cinnamon Rolls!  

2 Tablespoons Earth Balance
1/4 Cup Sugar 
2/3 Cup of non-dairy milk @ room temperature 
It should be warm enough to help activate the yeast! 
1 Packet Yeast (about 1 Tablespoon) 
1 Egg replacer egg (1.5 tsp. replacer with 2 Tbsp. water)
1/4 Cup Canola Oil 
1/2 cup millet flour
1 cup tapioca starch 
1/4 Teaspoon Baking Soda 
2 1/2 Teaspoons Xantham Gum 
2 Teaspoons Baking Powder 
1/2 Teaspoon Salt 
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Flavoring 

2 Tbps. Earth Balance, softened
3/4 Cup Brown Sugar, packed 
1 1/4 Teaspoons Cinnamon 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In medium bowl, combine Earth Balance and sugar. Mix well. Measure warm milk and and add yeast to milk. Whisk well to fully dissolve. Add milk/yeast to sugar mixture. In another bowl, combine the flour, starch, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and xanthan gum.  Add this flour mixture to all the remaining ingredients. Mix very well, being sure to remove all lumps. Dough will be quite soft. (I beat this in my mixer)

Take a piece of Plastic Wrap and lay it out so it covers a 13 1/2" x 13 1/2" square.  Lay ball of dough on top of that. 

You can either use a wet spatula or wet hands to smooth the dough into a flat square or use the following method:
Pull out another sheet of wrap and gently lay over the dough. 
Pat the dough down into a rough squarish pancake. Lift the top wrap up and relay it down. Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough in between the two layers of wrap. Note that occasionally you'll have to lift and reposition the wrap because it gets "stuck" under the edges. I also occasionally flip the whole thing over. Make sure that when you're done you've got about a 13 1/2" x 13 1/2" square of dough. Remove top piece of wrap.  

Smear the softened Earth Balance over the dough's surface.  Combine sugar and cinnamon. Spread evenly across dough's surface, leaving about 1 inch along one edge free of sugar.
Use the bottom piece of wrap to lift the edge of the dough and start to roll it up forming a long cylinder. (Start with the sugary edge, which will be the center of your roll and roll toward the sugarless edge) 
Cut off or trim up the irregular ends of your "log".
Then cut into 9 slices of similar size, about 1 1/2" wide. Place rolls into a greased round glass pie pan or baking dish.

Bake approximately 20 minutes, until tops are lightly browned. 

Combine powdered sugar, milk and vanilla flavoring to make glaze. Stir until all lumps are dissolved. Drizzle over warm rolls if desired.   (I used leftover Creamy Maple Frosting from VCTotW)

Makes 9 modestly sized rolls. Serves 9...or 2, just depending on the people.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A quick update

Today I attended a fun vegan gathering of families at Pizza Luce- we had 5 families (15 people total) and ate about $170 worth of pizza. It was like a vegan convention taking over the whole back room! It's so nice to have a community of people with similar values and eating habits who are all close together in age.

I haven't done much cooking in the last few days- But I did make some super local lima bean soup on Sunday and some biscuits. I grew lima beans this year, but I'm afraid that I could've purchased the 1/2 cup of beans I harvested for less money than I paid for the seed packet. This is the first money-losing venture in my garden, I think. Still, though, it was fun to have a lima bean, carrot, turnip, and kale soup from such sustainable sources. The carrots are from the farmer's market and the turnips from the co-op (both local). The kale is from the garden, of course. My lunch rocked today with that soup, some biscuits, and leftover homemade hummus.

I really want to go to the Squash Extravaganza at Featherstone Farm in Rushford, MN next week. Essentially I would be picking squash in exchange for food, free camping, and bonfires for 3 days. My boss is fine with me taking the days off work, so I'll see if I can swing it.

That's all for now...sorry for no pictures!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Cake and Brownies

Here's that wedding cake I wrote about yesterday:
The bottom layer was only about 3 (maybe 4?) inches in diameter and the top layer about 2 inches. So it was little and super cute! The cake is a vanilla-citrus flavor (lime, lemon, and orange) and the frosting is a cream cheese buttercream. The mini Gerber daisies from Artemisia will go on top. Perhaps the sister of the bride would send me a picture from the wedding (?)

And because I just didn't have enough sweets in the house, I decided to bake brownies tonight.

But these aren't just any old brownies...These are gluten-free, vegan, Fair Trade brownies!
They include not one, not two, but SIX Fair trade ingredients: chocolate, cocoa, brown sugar, vanilla, coffee, and bananas.

Now, I know you're wondering why the heck I'm baking with all these imported ingredients during the Eat Local Challenge. The truth is we're looking ahead to Fair Trade month in October at the co-op. It's a bit like Target putting out Christmas decorations in October, but we have to plan in advance! So Fair Trade is on my mind and I couldn't resist trying to pack as many Fair Trade ingredients as I could into one brownie.

Plus, when buying imported products I always like to make sure the farmers/producers were safe and paid a fair wage for their labor. Historically coffee, cacao, banana, (and other) farmers have received a minuscule fraction of the price that we pay in grocery stores. Most of the money goes to the importers and processors rather than the folks actually doing the growing. When I buy fair trade I know that I might pay a little more, but the money is going to farmers and communities who really deserve the compensation. Plus, most of the fair trade products I see are organic and co-operatively owned to boot!

I had to make these brownies gluten-free so that my sweetie could enjoy warm brownies after his adventures protesting the RNC today. He had the joy of getting tear gassed and having percussion grenades thrown at him (and hundreds of others) by cops, ATF, and National Guard officers while marching from the Capital to the RNC. So he NEEDED brownies.

You need brownies, too, though, so here's the recipe:

Fair Trade Brownies
(heavily adapted from King Arthur Whole Grain Baking)

1 cup of Earth Balance margarine
2 cups packed Fair Trade brown sugar (Wholesome Sweetners)
2 very ripe Fair Trade bananas (Oke)
1 Tbsp. Fair Trade vanilla extract (Frontier)
2 Tbsp. finely ground Fair Trade coffee (Peace Coffee)
3/4 cup Fair Trade cocoa (Equal Exchange)
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cups brown rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca starch
2 tsp. xanthan gum
1 1/2 cups chopped Fair Trade chocolate bar (Divine)

Preheat oven to 350 F and lightly grease a 9 x 11 inch baking pan. In a small pan, melt Earth Balance over medium-low heat. Stir in brown sugar until fully dissolved, then remove pan from the heat. In a small bowl, mash the bananas with a fork until smooth. Stir in the vanilla. Add banana and vanilla mixture and coffee grounds to the Earth Balance and sugar and stir to combine.

In a separate bowl, sift together cocoa, baking powder, salt, rice flour, tapioca, & xanthan gum. Add the liquid mixture to the sifted ingredients and stir until combined. Then fold in the chocolate chunks. Spread batter in the baking dish and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the brownies comes out clean. Let brownies cool before cutting them...if you can resist!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A few cupcakes

I'll have to get some pictures of the wedding cake tomorrow in the morning light, but for now I've got pictures of the Maple Walnut cupcakes:
The Pumpkin Cream Cheese cupcakes:
And the S'mores cupcakes (sans graham crackers on top):

I feel sick from frosting overload!

Baking up a storm

Today is baking day!
I'm doing the desserts for a wedding this week. Perhaps you remember the tasting back in July? Well, I just finished all 16 batches of cupcakes and 4 layers of the mini-wedding cake. I mean, I don't want to brag, but I rocked these babies out in no time and didn't even burn any. So I celebrated with a lunch break of homemade bread, freshly made hummus, and coleslaw with a side of Giada de Larentiis.

It's a little weird to take a vacation day from my usual job to do a different job. I'll end up making about the same amount of money as I would if I was at work, so it doesn't seem like it makes sense...but since it's paid vacation I really get paid twice over to bake while watching daytime TV. Woohoo!

I hope to finish everything today so that I can deliver tomorrow afternoon on a mid-day break. Our co-op's awesome flower supplier, Artemisia Flower Studio, really came through for me with some rockin' organic flowers for the cake. I've got to pick those up along with more Earth Balance shortening before I get started with frosting everything.

We're doing a co-op garden tour this weekend, so my garden needs some sprucing up in the next few days before it'll be presentable. Last night I finally pruned back the CRAZY huge blackberry branches that took over the berry patch and the kids helped feed them into a great bonfire. We've had some salvaged bricks sitting in our garage for about 3 years and I decided to use them to make a fire ring in the backyard. It's really nice to be able to have a fire- especially on a chilly night like last night! (Jealous, TX family?) The cool front couldn't have come at a better time- my oven was on for a good 6 hours today!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Hello again

I seem to have been on an unplanned, unintentional blogging hiatus...
I swear I've still been cooking and eating, though! I've just been really busy. And when I've not been really busy, I've been really lazy. There's no in between for me, folks. It's all red light or green light.

Speaking of red and green, behold my first okra and tomatoes of the season:

The okra is from the farmer's market and the (massive) tomato is from the garden. I like my okra and tomatoes pretty simple- some salt, pepper, and garlic is really all it needs. But this time I threw in about 1/2 cup of some red wine I had left over from a tomato sauce and WOW! It was super good!

I'm a newcomer to the world of cooking with wine, probably because I'm not a wine drinker. They always say to choose a cooking wine of a good enough quality that you would drink it...But so far I haven't found that wine (I'm sure due to my taste buds rather than any fault of the wine). I've "settled" instead for using an organic red wine that was a gift years ago for fulfilling my newfound need for wine in sauces.

Have I mentioned the garden lately? We've got tomatoes galore, the broccoli is producing nice little side shoots now that the main heads have been harvested, and the pasilla peppers are going crazy! Here's what I hauled in yesterday: Those little tabasco peppers are floating in vinegar right now, making an amazing hot vinegar sauce for us to douse on our greens all winter.

I finally got around to canning some more jalapeños. These are actually part of the ridiculous jalapeño harvest of 2007. After making about 20 1/2 pints of escabeche last year, I still had a gallon bag of peppers in the freezer! They kept well, though, and are now becoming more escabeche (pickled jalapeños with carrots and onions).

Amid gardening, canning, and being lazy, I neglected to plan anything for dinner (Ironic, I know). So I succumbed to the lures of Pizza Luce and ordered a sun-dried tomato and green olive pizza while I started my next canning project.

Imagine the delivery guy's reaction as he opened the door to see a vicious black dog snarling and barking and a girl covered in blood-red spatter...
He did a double take and got the heck out of there.

Yeah, I was covered in dark sweet cherry juice after pitting 6 pounds of cherries. So was the kitchen wall. And my clothes.

But it was worth it! I have 2 quarts and 10 half-pints of cherries in a light maple & sugar syrup.
Now I'm enjoying my 1/2 day off work and getting things ready for the kids' first day of school tomorrow. I can't believe they're in 3rd grade!

PS- The state fair classes went really well! There were TONS of people there (of course) and we gave out plenty of fliers for future classes at the co-op. All that worrying for nothing...