Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Cookies

Clockwise from the left: Pine Nut Biscotti, Butterscotch Blondies with Cranberries and Pecans, Chocolate Coconut Almond Merengues, Grandma's Christmas Cookies, Curried Peanut Brittle, Chai Shortbread, and Sweet and Salty Peanut Chocolate Chunk Cookies.

My final review on each cookie:

Pine Nut Biscotti: Personally, I love these cookies. They are slightly sweet, subtley lemon-flavored, and dunkable but not too crispy to be enjoyed on their own. However . . . no one seems to like eating biscotti besides me! Argh. I'll rethink including a biscotto recipe next year.

Butterscotch Blondies with Cranberries and Pecans: YUM. People gobbled these down, and they were pretty easy to make. Next year, I want a bar pan with a removeable bottom -- I'll put it on my long-term shopping list, so I don't have to wrestle with the foil any more!

Chocolate Coconut Almond Merengues: Despite the fact that these baked too long, the flavor combination was spot-on. I will try a different merengue recipe next year, with the same ingredients.

Grandma's Christmas Cookies: These were easier with the streamlined single shape and half-recipe. People also gobbled these down, which they almost always do.

Curried Peanut Brittle: After learning my candy thermometer lesson, the only thing I'd change about this recipe is increasing the amount of curry powder, or grinding my own from whole spices. We shall see . . . !

Chai Shortbread: I love these, and they were super easy. 'Nuf said.

Sweet and Salty Peanut Chocolate Chunk Cookies: The idea behind these cookies is great, but the actual recipe is not all that fantastic. I'll use my own chocolate chip cookie recipe next time, (and I'll use better-quality chocolate,) and a different nut -- maybe almonds? Maybe hazelnuts? Love the salt, though -- that part was to die for!

Overall, it's been an adventure, baking so many different kinds of cookies this year! Having them all on hand has been incredibly helpful for my contribution to work potlucks, church choir potlucks, and family get-togethers. I may expand my candy-making repertoire next year -- truffles, perhaps? :) Who knows . . . !?!?

Saturday, December 22, 2007

kids say the darndest, plus food

A great work story:

One of the new little girls in my class came up to me yesterday, pointed at my stomach, and said, "you don't have a baby in there -- just a bellybutton."

Sweet. Nice to know my stomach's flat enough that the kids aren't confused! :)

On to the food.

First, Dan cooked:
He made miso soup for dinner on Monday night. Yum! Like me, he's more critical of his own cooking than other people are. Regardless, it was wonderful to come home from work and have dinner already ready!

Second, Dan and I cooked:
We made a recipe from an old issue of Cooking Light called "Tempeh Coconut Curry." It was excellent! (Especially coming from someone who doesn't always like tempeh.) We followed the recipe pretty closely, although Dan admitted that he added more chili flakes than the recipe called for. :) I had intended on making a side of kale with this one, but promptly forgot. Maybe I'll add the kale directly to the curry next time? (P.S. that's actually a yellow-fleshed sweet potato in there -- yum!)

I apologize for the great delay in photographing and posting the final results of my holiday baking, but I've taken trays of cookies to two different parties already, and have forgotten to snap a picture both times. Sheesh. :) I'll remember eventually!

Friday, December 14, 2007

one more . . .

. . . holiday baking preview photo:

last of the previews


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

some food and a funny

First, a funny food story:

(You'll find this especially funny if you're familiar with the children's book "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom")

I took some leftover Moroccan Chickpea Stew to work for lunch yesterday, and the kids asked me what I was eating. I told them, "Moroccan Chickpea Stew." One little girl looked at me with a puzzled look on her face and said, "You eating 'Roccan Chicka Boom?" My coteacher and I both giggled about that one!

Ok, on to the food . . .

Since I have been eating so much JUNK lately, (mostly at work,) I decided to make muffins the other night, in an attempt to tempt myself with healthier fare. Spicy Seven-Grain Muffins:
The recipe was off the back of the Arrowhead Mills seven-grain hot cereal box. Easy and tasty!

Dinner tonight:
Pasta Alla Puttanesca, technically, alla Bazu! (Thanks for the awesome idea!)

More holiday baking:
(Nice to have two more cookies checked off the list! I'm over half done, now!)

Happy Hump Day, and payday, for those of us who get paid every-other Wednesday!

Monday, December 10, 2007


Dinner last night:
Honey-Glazed Tofu over couscous with carrots, edamame, and pistachios, and a side of brussels sprouts. My first time making b-sprouts, and they turned out quite well! I halved them and steamed them for a few minutes, and then tossed them with a little bit of garlic butter. YUM. Well, really, the whole meal deserves a big gigantic "YUM" -- this easy, super tasty meal will definitely be a repeat at my house!

Dinner tonight:
Moroccan Chickpea Stew, over brown rice. This meal also deserves a big gigantic "YUM!" Another definite repeat.

It's been a good week of dinners so far, and it's only Monday! Wahoo!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

SUGAR, a package, and some regular food

Even though I worked nine hours yesterday at the store, I've been trying to stay on top of my holiday baking prep this weekend. Biscotti Friday night, brittle on Saturday, and two more doughs for the freezer today. Photos:

The second batch of brittle:
Yes . . . the second batch. Why? Because I ruined the first batch, and no, I did not burn it. I followed the recipe instructions, instead of trusting my gut and using my candy thermometer. I learned a valuable lesson -- go with my gut! The first batch was cloudy, greyish, and not really crispy at all. Argh. Anyhow, after throwing out that batch, I pulled out the candy thermometer and started again -- and the second batch turned out wonderfully, as you can see. The catch? I didn't have enough sunflower seeds for the second batch, so I used peanuts. Alas. The curry powder still makes for a unique treat, though!

Sweet and Salty Peanut Chocolate Chunk Cookies:
I love doing this with drop cookies -- scooping them all out onto parchment, freezing the entire batch in little dough balls, and then transferring them to a ziploc once nice and frozen. They take only a couple of minutes to thaw once placed on cookie sheets, and I can choose how many cookies to bake at a time! This time I'll bake off the whole batch, (next weekend,) but in the past, it's been nice to be able to bake just a couple of cookies at a time! (This was especially handy when I used to have a toaster oven -- freshly baked cookies in the middle of the summer! Yum.)

What's that?
Could that be Grandma's Christmas Cookie dough, off to the freezer? Yep. I decided to make half a batch of cut-out cookies this year after all, partially because the brittle didn't yield as much as I was expecting, and partially because, well, I just like these cookies. I figured if I did a half batch all of one "shape," (I'm thinking stars,) frosting and sprinkling will go that much more quickly.

I got a package in the mail yesterday:
My friend Anna and her husband sent me oranges and grapefruit! The oranges are delicious, and I haven't had a chance to get into a grapefruit yet. My immune system will be extra-strong, thanks to all of the vitamin C I'm going to get! Thanks, Anna and Langdon!!

And, of course, packages are fun, even if you're a cat.
(I suppose, technically, Oliver is perishable and should be protected from freezing, too!)

I have been making regular food lately, too.

Baked beans:
This is a simple slow cooker recipe that I haven't tweaked to my liking just yet, but it was quite good the first time 'round. Thanks for the recipe, Courtney!

Agean Eggplant and Lentils:
Awhile back, Vegetarian Times ran an article featuring recipes easily made in a Dutch oven. I loved the concept -- chuck a bunch of stuff in a pot, put the lid on, stick it in the oven, and forget about it for a while. Magically, dinner is ready! This was an excellent recipe, and my first try using capers. (I haven't cared much for them in the past.) I scooped this into a wholegrain pita for lunch yesterday. Tasty delicious!

Cumin-Curried Hummus:
I think Dan could eat his weight in hummus if he tried. A new recipe to try this week!

Have a tasty (and healthy) week -- I'll be busy finishing holiday baking, and will post next weekend, showcasing the results!

Friday, December 07, 2007

holiday baking preview

It's been a busy week, what with work, trainings, choir practice, and general life getting in the way. I have been cooking a little, (I made a slow cooker baked bean recipe Courtney passed my way,) but mostly eating leftovers and simple things for dinner like oatmeal and frozen ravioli, (not at the same meal, I promise!)

Dan and I went to the grocery store last night and stocked up, so my posting dry spell will soon be over. In the meantime, a couple holiday baking preview photos:

I have only very recently acquired a kitchen scale, (this little model by Escali is affordable, comes in a vast array of colors, and gets the job done!), and I have to say, I'm really enjoying baking by weight. Why? Because I don't dirty measuring cups -- I just spoon in the ingredients, until I'm at the right weight for each ingredient. Tare, and spoon again!

Biscotti, after the first trip in the oven. The last tray is finally finishing up its second oven trip, as I type right now. (I'm trying to decide whether it's worth sticking them in the freezer for a week, or if I should just leave 'em alone and assume they'll stay fresh for a while, as long as they are tightly sealed?)

I forget how small my oven is, until I start large baking projects like holiday cookies. Grumble.

Anyhow, the biscotti are fabulous! (I just dipped one into my tea . . . yum!)

Happy weekend, everyone.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

busy weekend!

Don't you just love those weekends when you are super-productive, but not exhausted? I've had one of those weekends. I've caught up on email and snail mail correspondence, done some tidying up and filing around the house, nearly completed my Christmas shopping, wrapped all of the Christmas presents I've purchased, made a (crustlesss) tofu pumpkin pie, done some laundry, mopped the floors, washed mountains of dishes, and finished a book! I've also been cooking and eating, of course. :)

One of my impulse buys at the Wedge on Friday:
Pineapple guavas! I was sold on their bubblegum-like fragrance -- I had to give a few a try.

Guavas are a little strange . . . sweet and tart, with an unusual texture. They may not be on my grocery list on a regular basis, but they were worth a try!

Almond Milk!
I realize this looks remarkably like the batches of soy milk I've made with my Soyabella, but I had to post about almond milk . . . because it tastes SO good, and it takes even less time to make than soy milk. Plus, almonds are a natural source of calcium and iron -- bonus!

Falafel for dinner last night:
I baked my falafel this time . . . ew. I will stick to pan-frying from now on, because my oven baked falafels just got dried out and crumbly. My salad (romaine, tomato, artichoke, olives, oil, and vinegar,) was spectacular, however!

The beginnings of holiday baking:
Chai shortbread dough, off to the freezer for a couple of weeks. See you soon, chai shortbread!

Rescuing falafel for lunch today:
I pan-fried the falafel today, with much better results. Sweet potato fries and more guavas on the side. (I'm full!)

I still can't believe it's only 4:15 or so . . . what will I do with the rest of my day? We shall see . . . !

Friday, November 30, 2007

Conundrum completed, plus other stuff

Thanks, everybody, for weighing in on the great Christmas Cookie Conundrum of 2007! I thought I'd share the voting results, as well as what I've decided to do. :)

votes: 5 yes, 6 no
I've decided not to make these this year -- although the flavor combination seems heavenly, I think they might just be too much work. I may make them for Valentine's Day instead, using rasperry jam instead of apricot! (And cutting out heart shapes, of course.)

votes: 3 yes, 3 no
I will make these because they seem super-easy, and also, I love the flavor combination of cranberries and pecans. Yum.

votes: 5 yes, 1 no
Can one go wrong with slice-n-bakes? I think not. This is a definite "yes" for me this year.

votes: 4 yes, 5 no
I will make these, mostly because Dan actually likes merengues, and he doesn't like many sweets at all!

votes: 5 yes, 3 no
I think this one was in the "yes" column all along, because I love curry in sweet things (both chocolate and ice cream, so far,) and also because Dan likes brittles, too.

votes: 2 yes, 1 no
I'm going to hold off on this one this year -- if I make that and the chai shortbread, there might just end up being too many round, brown cookies on the plate!

votes: 5 yes, 2 no
I'm not going to make these this year -- I'm feeling lazy, and my mom makes them every year anyway (with vanilla frosting -- the peppermint is my spin on things.)

votes: 6 yes, 4 no
I haven't made biscotti in several years, and I can't wait to try again! Lemon and pine nuts together . . . double yum? Anyhow, this is a definite yes!

votes: 3 yes, 4 no
I'm going to skip these, since pretty much everyone and their grandma makes Russian Tea Cakes. Maybe next year.

votes: 6 yes, 1 no
These will make the cut this year, too! I can't wait to try the sweet-salty cookie!!!

So, of course, I'll post pictures once B-Day is complete, and the flour settles.

Segue . . .

Here's the picture of the banana muffins I made for the cake walk at work:
They were very yummy. I think all muffins might have to have sprinkles from now on!

I was shopping (without a list . . . disaster!) at the Wedge this afternoon, and I discovered this yogurt, made locally!
There are so many things I love about this yogurt!
1. organic
2. local
3. the name is just plain clever
4. low sugar
5. comes in my two favorite yogurt flavors (the other one is peach)
6. the cup is actually recyclable!
7. it tastes good! (more like plain yogurt with a hint of fruit flavor, as opposed to sugary goo)

Speaking of my shopping "disaster" this afternoon, does anyone else have trouble coming out of the grocery store under eighty bucks? Sheesh.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Christmas Cookie Conundrum

With a delicious Thanksgiving dinner under my belt, my thoughts, of late, have turned to Christmas. Christmas gift shopping, Christmas decorating (I was certain I wasn't going to put up the tree this year . . . but I bet I will!), and Christmas cookie baking.

Again, I thought I would maybe not bake this year -- what will I do with all of those cookies? In years past, I've made between two and four different recipes, always including gingerbread dudes and my Grandma's Christmas Cookie recipe (frosted with peppermint buttercream and covered with sprinkles,) and possibly one or two new favorites.

This year, I have a problem. I have, um, ten recipes I'd like to try? Now, obviously, I'm not going to make all ten recipes. I do plan on boxing up some cookies to take to my coworkers, and will probably take cookies to Dan's family over Christmas, and my parents and Grandparents the weekend following Christmas, so I'll use up all of the cookies this year.

Still, ten recipes is a LOT of baking. The real trouble is, I've selected ten very diverse cookies . . . and I need YOUR help making a couple of cuts! I'd like to get the list down to six recipes, but I think I'd be willing to go up to eight if I just can't cut one or two options. Please leave me a comment and let me know what you think about the following ideas -- ones that you think are must-keeps, ones that you think I should cut, even just rank them from best-sounding to ok-sounding!

These are basically an almond windowpane cookie and apricot jam sandwich that you dip in a chocolate glaze. I've never made these before. Pros: They look absolutely stunning (a cover recipe from Eating Well a few Christmases ago,) and I love the flavor combination of apricots and almonds. They also call for whole-wheat flour. Cons: They take several steps (including making the dough, rolling and cutting (including little windows,) baking, cooling, filling, and dipping in the glaze;) and the glaze calls for corn syrup, albeit only 1 1/2 teaspoons.

I made this recipe last weekend without eggs, with somewhat, erm, flat and sticky results. I'd like to give the recipe another go. Pros: The flavor of these bars was spot-on blondie fabulousness. Also, bar cookies are a snap to make -- they take almost no time. Cons: The cookies were a little bit sweet for my tastes (hopefully the addition of fresh cranberries will balance them a bit better.)

This is a slice-n-bake chai-spiced shortbread that I'm excited to try for the first time. Pros: The dough can be made ahead and frozen, which would make baking a snap on the day I plan to have my baking marathon, and I think the combination of spices sound delicious and interesting. Cons: They call for powdered sugar as the only sweetner, which is pretty processed, as well as white flour.

Aren't merengues fun? Pros: Flavor combination first and foremost, with the portability and storability being close seconds. Cons: Merengues can be a bit persnicketty to prepare, and can go soft if stored for too long.

I'd like to try my hand at a little candy-making this year, and this was the most interesting-looking of the brittle recipes I have on hand. Pros: Brittles are pretty foolproof as long as you don't burn the sugar, and well, sweet curry and sunflower seeds just sound addictive, don't they? (I could buy some hot curry powder for extra-fun good times!) Cons: Calls for corn syrup.

I thought this recipe might be a nice alternative to gingerbread dudes this year -- less rolling/cutting/icing work, with some of the same flavors. Pros: Uses whole-wheat pastry flour and a whole host of amazing spices, as well as some molasses and candied ginger! Also, it's a drop cookie, so I could freeze the dough ahead of time. Cons: Calls for several ingredients I don't typically keep on hand, so they may end up hanging out in my cupboards for an indefinite period of time.

Is this one a gimme? Maybe not. Pros: Biscuit-like dough is less sweet than a traditional sugar cookie, so they balance all that frosting and sprinkle action quite well. They also look very festive when all decked out! Also, the dough can be made ahead and frozen. Cons: Rolling, cutting, baking, frosting, and sprinkling takes a long time. Also, should I veer from making the "same ol' thing?"

I haven't tried this recipe yet, but have made biscotti in the past, and was surprised at how easy they were to make. Pros: Pine nuts with a hint of lemon . . . need I say more? Biscotti also keep well. Cons: Double-baking can be quite time-consuming. Also calls for white flour.

Ohmigod do I love Russian Tea Cakes, but everyone makes them, right? Pros: Calls for whole-wheat pastry flour and canola oil (instead of butter.) Cons: Lotsa powdered sugar; lots of people make these, right? Also, the double-dipping in powdered sugar can be a bit time-consuming.

These sound decadent and incredible, and play up that whole sweet-salty trend (using coarse sea salt in the batter,) that's been going on lately. Pros: Drop cookie, so I could make the batter ahead of time, drop out the dough and freeze it, so it would be all ready to go on baking marathon day. Plus, sweet-salty chocolately peanutty goodness . . . yum. Cons: White flour; also, is it too much like an ordinary chocolate-chip cookie?

Ok. Let me know what you think!

Monday, November 19, 2007

catchin' up (ketchup?)

I have actually been taking pictures of things I've cooked -- don't you love it when those pictures pile up?

Anyhow, here's what I've been eating lately.

Thai-Tofu Soup with Coconut and Lemongrass:
I realize I make this about once a month, but I'm willing to bet that's not nearly frequently enough for Dan.

Cranberry-Banana Smoothie:
Fresh cranberries have been plentiful at the co-op lately, and I've purchased several pints and stuck them in the freezer for moments such as these.

Mystery Soup:
After defrosting some leftover potato-garlic soup, I added half a leftover baked sweet potato, cubed, and an enormous handfull of fresh spinach. Topped this with shredded cheese and green onions, called it lunch. (Very tasty, and much better than I was expecting it to be!)

Chili in the Crock Pot:
I'm not even sure I can remember what went into this! Ingredients that I can remember: onions, garlic, green pepper, corn, potatoes, kale, tomatoes, kidney beans, black beans, pinto beans, brown rice, vegetable broth, chili powder, and cumin.

Chili, hiding under many garnishes:
After topping a bowl full of chili with cheese, green onions, cilantro, avocado, and lime juice, I scooped it all up with some organic blue corn tortilla chips.

Can one enjoy sushi too often? I think not. :)

Shoot! I totally forgot to take pictures of the banana muffins I made for the cake walk at school tomorrow night. I have a few left . . . I'll post about them next time!

I'm headed out of town this weekend -- travel safe everybody, and Happy Tofurkey Day!

(P.S. We had a gift-giving idea-generating competition at the store during last night's staff meeting, and my teammate Stephen and I took third place, which meant we each won a $25 gift card! Wahoo!)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

27 questions

Bazu and Daiku answered the questions to this survey recently, and, like Bazu, I'm a sucker for these, too! Here I go . . .

1. Favorite non-dairy milk?
Soy for coffee, rice for cereal. Since I just bought a soymilk maker, however, that's been the milk of choice lately. I can't wait to try out almond and hazelnut milks, though!

2. What are the top 3 dishes/recipes you are planning to cook?
Chili and cornbread, sushi, and probably eggs and hashbrowns.

3. Topping of choice for popcorn?
Fine-grain sea salt, and nothing else!

4. Most disastrous recipe/meal failure?
I have had some pretty disastrous adventures in the land of homemade bread-baking.

5. Favorite pickled item?
Oooh . . . I do love pickles (i.e. cucumbers,) but I think my favorite pickled item is pickled ginger.

6. How do you organize your recipes?
I organize recipes I clip out of magazines and print off the internet in five big binders, sorted by category and then alphabetized. I also have a computer program called "notebook" that I use to organize the rest of my recipes -- no more recipe box, thank you very much!

7. Compost, trash, or garbage disposal?
I live in an apartment, so I'm stuck with trash only. Someday I will have a fabulous composting system at the back of my gigantic garden, however!

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)?
Bread, cheese, and peaches.

9. Fondest food memory from your childhood?
Cutting out and decorating Christmas cookies, probably.

10. Favorite vegan ice cream?
Soy Delicious cookie avalanche!

11. Most loved kitchen appliance?
Hmm. Tough one. It might be my Bamix!

12. Spice/herb you would die without?
Fresh basil. (Cilantro, too!)

13. Cookbook you have owned for the longest time?
The basic Betty Crocker big red cookbook.

14. Favorite flavor of jam/jelly?
A tie -- apricot and strawberry.

15. Favorite vegan recipe to serve to an omni friend?
Tempeh bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado, and vegenaise on wholegrain toast, with sweet potato fries and watermelon!

16. Seitan, tofu, or tempeh?

17. Favorite meal to cook (or time of day to cook)?
I like to spend a whole day cooking and prepping on the weekend -- that day usually ends up being Sunday afternoon/evening.

18. What is sitting on top of your refrigerator?
My large cooling grate, unpopped popcorn, half a bag of blue corn tortilla chips, my lunchbag, and a package of cardboard to-go coffee cups (Dan has a habit of losing/forgetting to return my travel coffee mugs!)

19. Name 3 items in your freezer without looking.
Active dry yeast, tons of leftovers, and coffee ice cream.

20. What's on your grocery list?
Paper towels, dish soap, cat food, sugar, maple syrup, coffee, Earth Balance, fruit, flaxseeds, conditioner, frozen pizza, bag o' salad, cucumber, red pepper, frozen edamame, green pepper, frozen corn, jalapeno, big can of tomatoes, black beans, pinto beans, green onions, limes, cheese, avocado, and pickled ginger. (We're going to the grocery store today.)

21. Favorite grocery store?
The Wedge!

22. Name a recipe you'd love to veganize, but haven't yet.
Mac and cheese (that doesn't taste oppressively of nutritional yeast. Blech!)

23. Food blog you read the most.
Oh, I read them all . . . ! I'm not the best commenter, however.

24. Favorite vegan candy/chocolate?
A tie: Dots and Sweedish Fish (the multicolored kind!)

25. Most extravagant food item purchased lately?
Hm. Four boxes of Yogi tea, because it was on sale?

26. Veganaise or Nayonaise?
Veganaise, all the way.

27. What is one recipe or ingredient or cooking technique that you've become familiar with in the last year that you can't imagine you ever lived without?
Sushi! How had I lived before without nori rolls filled with avocado, cucumber, and red pepper???!?!?!?

Let me know if you answer these 27 questions, so I can read your answers!

Monday, November 12, 2007

soymilk maker!

After the September staff meeting at the store, I had the opportunity to purchase a Soyabella soymilk maker (at cost) -- and I did! Wahoo! Why buy a soymilk maker? For starters, I'll save a ton of money over time. The maker is expensive, (over one hundred dollars retail,) but when you consider a half gallon of soymilk is at least four dollars, the maker will pay for itself in not too much time because bulk soybeans are so dang cheap. Also, other reasons include: soybeans weigh a lot less than a carton of soymilk when transporting groceries home from the store, I have an easy time finding locally grown soybeans, and homemade soymilk calls for zero packaging, minimal processing, fewer ingredients, and has a very fresh taste.

I finally unpacked my soymilk maker this weekend:
That's a lot of parts! (And that's not even including the cord, instruction book, or cleaning utensils!) However, when I learned that most of these extra parts are for different applications (like rice paste and coffee grinding,) I packed most of them away and kept out only what I needed.

How to make soymilk? Easy.

1. Use the scoop to measure 1 scoop of soybeans. Rinse the beans and soak them for 4 to 6 hours.
2. Place the soybeans in the metal cup, attach it to the top of the machine, fill the machine with water to the line, and press the "milk" button.
3. Wait 15 minutes.
4. The soymilk is done! (Pardon the blurry picture.) Add sugar, salt, and vanilla, per the recipe included, or to taste.
5. Clean all of the parts thoroughly. (This was honestly the hardest part of soymilk making -- the pieces need to be cleaned right away so they don't get gunky.)

I really like their recipe for vanilla soymilk, although I may cut back on the sugar a little bit. Dan said the soymilk tasted like a thin vanilla milkshake -- which I'll take as a positive review. :)

ALSO, I can use my soymilk maker to make nutmilks -- almond milk and hazelnut milk, here I come!

Anybody else have a soymilk maker? What have your experiences been?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

by request . . .

Here's the recipe for the pumpkin pie I posted about earlier this week.

Tofu Pumpkin Pie (modified from a recipe on

Preheat oven to 425.

Puree together:
15 to 16 ounces canned pumpkin puree
3/4 cup maple syrup (or sugar, if you're broke)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 package (10 to 12 ounces) silken tofu (i.e., Mori-Nu) (this time I used firm lite)

Pour the pumpkin mixture into a pie shell (I used a vegan, whole grain frozen shell I found at the co-op,) and bake for 15 minutes. Lower the heat to 350 and bake for 40 more minutes. (Watch the edges of the crust -- you may need to cover them with foil to prevent over-browning.) Cool and chill the pie before serving.

P.S. (Courtney,) If you don't like pie crust, you can bake the custard in a greased pie plate with excellent results, too. :)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

pumpkin, pumpkin, pumpkin!

First, Dan and I finally got around to carving our pumpkins this past Sunday night:
I'll let you guess as to which one is mine, which is Dan's.

Next, we saved every last pumpkin seed from our carving to make . . .
Tamari-Roasted Pumpkin Seeds! (They are all gone already. Bummer.)

Last, I used a can of pumpkin to make . . .
Tofu Pumpkin Pie! Even though the crust crumbled off of this piece a little bit, it still tasted stellar. I love this recipe so much, I will probably never make a regular pumpkin pie ever again!

Happy belated Halloween!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

North Shore Adventure!

And welcome to Dan and Catherine's North Shore Adventure.

(We went out of town last weekend. The first two days were a lot of average diner food, average pizza, and time spent doing band stuff, since Dan's band headlined the UFO convention in Duluth. However, after all the "hurry up and wait" was over, we spent two more days exploring the North Shore, armed with a full tank of gas and no plan, other than a list of recommended restaurants from my coworker Missy, who grew up in Duluth. Hence, Dan and Catherine's North Shore Adventure, beginning on Day 3.)

I posted in reverse order, so the posts will read chronologically as you scroll down.

Enjoy my little tour of Lake Superior and northern Minnesota!

Day 3 (Sunday) -- Gooseberry Falls

After a just-okay, diner-typical breakfast, we decided our first order of business, now that our "real" vacation time was beginning, was a nice, long hike. Gooseberry Falls, here we come!

This sign is so "Minnesota:"
Yeah, we don't put signs in our state parks that read, "NO SWIMMING." We are too "nice" for that -- we prefer to say, "Swimming Not Recommended." Sheesh. :)

Gooseberry Falls:

After hiking down along the falls, we decided to continue along the river, all the way to the lakeshore. Saw these cool tree roots as we hiked:

This was a hike peppered with signs of wildlife. Clearly, a beaver was here!

More wildlife -- this little squirrelly friend was interested in us, but smart enough to keep a safe distance. Thank goodness, since I am more than a little frightened of overly friendly squirrels!

Gooseberry River:

Lake Superior!
You can just barely make out the "line" in the water -- where the brownish, clay-rich river water butts up against the clearer blue lake water. This obvious distinction between the two was just fascinating to me!

There were a bunch of these driftwood-made tee-pees along the beach:
Dan was afraid he was too tall for the tee-pees, so I decided to climb in and check one out.

Dan, communing with the rocks and water:

Another wildlife interaction. On our hike back, Dan suddenly yelped and grabbed my arm back -- I jumped about a foot, until I noticed what I almost stepped on:
Thanks to Dan's attention, I didn't step on this little snake dude. Dan helped him off the path and back into the forest using a small stick.

After our hike, we looked forward to a sit-down in the car, while we continued to drive further north.