Bully Article

Felt like breaking up the stream of recipe posts with a link to this sad article from the NYT on food allergies and bullying. I do have a “news” category, after all.

I’d love to be able to say definitively that the adversity I faced growing up with allergies has made me stronger and more resilient, but who knows.

 

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Assorted goods, perfectionism

I’ve actually been baking a lot since school’s been over-

School is over! Maybe forever! I have a master’s degree!

Anyway, since I don’t have to spend the evenings and weekends in academia land, I’ve had the free time to experiment with new recipes. None of which have been written about individually because I wasn’t 100% satisfied with them (except for maybe the cornbread, which I didn’t take a picture of anyway, go figure). That’s not to say that anything was totally awful or unappreciated – I just don’t feel like posting the recipe for something if I wouldn’t recommend it for someone else to try.

Especially not chocolate chip cookies.

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tastydough

They’re one of those standard goods that I feel anyone who’d call themselves a baker needs to have go-to recipe for, and I haven’t found mine. I tried making some a few weeks ago, and while the dough was delicious, they came out flat, crunchy and very greasy – not what I was going for. Therefore, I am not posting the recipe. My mom did give me a couple tips on how to get a fluffier texture, so I’ll probably make another attempt soon.

These lemon cake things were another taste-good, texture-not-so-much effort:

lemonrocks

lemonrocks

Don’t let the glaze fool you, these came out dry and dense, and I honestly could’ve used them as weapons a day later. The recipe said to bake at 350 for an hour, which I think was far too long.

Buuuuut last weekend I made margarita cupcakes, and I was actually pleased with how they turned out!

neondelights

neondelights

This recipe is apparently from “Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World,” which is by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, of Post Punk Kitchen fame. She knows what she’s doing. These are moist and delicious and didn’t even require an egg replacement. Your kitchen will smell like tequila (added bonus?)

Cupcakes (makes 12)

  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp lime zest (1 lime)
  • 1 cup vanilla soymilk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp tequila
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Boozy Frosting
  • 1/4 margarine
  • 1 tbsp soymilk
  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp tequila
  • 2+ cups confectioners’ sugar (as much as needed for desired consistency)
  • 2-3 drops green food coloring (optional, I suppose)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Fill a 12-cup muffin tin with liners.

2. In a large bowl, mix together lime juice, lime zest, soy milk, oil , tequila, vanilla and sugar.

3. In a small bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add to lime mixture and stir until just combined, then spoon into muffin tins (this is low-viscosity batter, it will be messy).

4. Bake for 20-24 minutes, until a tester comes out clean and the cakes spring back when lightly pressed.

5. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

6. For the frosting, cream together margarine, soymilk, lime juice, tequila, and 2 cups of confectioners’ sugar.

7. Add in more sugar as needed to make frosting stiff, but spreadable. I added some cornstarch, as I ended up running out of sugar.

To be honest, you could probably halve all the liquids for the frosting and be all right. No matter how stiff it looks in the bowl, it will spread out over the cupcakes just the same, so you don’t need a lot of it (you can see I added too much to the top two in the photo and had to wipe away the excess). Enjoy!

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Date Bars

As in the fruit, date. Perhaps not as approachable as say, apples or raspberries, at least as far as dessert fillings go. Which I get, I mean they’ve got a pretty strong flavor. But every spring I actually get mild cravings for them, probably because my mom’s version of charoset always had dates in it. And the tastes pairs up well with oats. So, a few weeks ago, I took a stab at these oatmeal date bars.

Recipe stolen and tweaked from the Rollin’ Oats Market and Cafe website. I omitted the walnuts and added cornstarch, since the dates weren’t thickening up their own (maybe nuts are a thickening agent?)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Medjool dates, coarsely chopped (this seemed roughly equivalent to a 12oz package, maybe slightly less)
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • Pinches of nutmeg and cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 cups white flour
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup margarine or non-dairy butter alternative

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a saucepan, combine dates, WHITE sugar (I used the brown by mistake at first, it was annoying to fix), and water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, and add spices and cornstarch. Stir occasionally, 10-15 minutes, until dates are soft & mixture is thick.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, oats, brown sugar & baking soda. Knead in margarine until dough forms. Press half of dough evenly in the bottom of a 13″x9″ pan. Bake 15 min. until lightly golden.
  3. Spread date mixture evenly over hot crust. Sprinkle remaining oat mixture on top. Bake 25 minutes, until golden. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack before cutting.

NB: Again, make sure you use white sugar for the date mixture, brown sugar for the crust. Also it helps if you can sharpen your cutting blade before pitting and chopping up the dates – that step is probably the most time consuming.

datebars

And voila! They came out really well. I have no clue what the serving size is for date bars, so we’ll just say this recipe makes however many servings you want it to make, depending on your appetite.

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Dog-friendly cupcakes!

Classic midterm avoidance procedure: write a blog post.

Anyway, the dog has been doing much better, and I owe that in part to my lovely new friends over at Hamlin Park dog park. I try and take him there at least 3 times a week so he can run around and be social. It’s kinda become a zen place for me too.

So to thank everyone for being so nice and welcoming to us, I decided to make some dog-friendly (and vegan, of course) cupcakes. Recipe stolen and modified from here and here.

Cupcake Batter

1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup soynut butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup shredded carrots
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup applesauce

In a medium sized bowl, mix together the flour and baking soda. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well until combined. Put liners in a mini cupcake pan. Ball up a rounded teaspoon of batter and drop into each cupcake cup. Bake for 15 minutes (until firm and beginning to brown). Should make around 24 cupcakes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

Frosting

2 cups mashed banana
2 tbs peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
3 tsp flour (add more as needed for desired consistency)

Mix until combined, add honey to taste. Pipe frosting onto cupcakes and top with shredded carrots.

NB: I used creamy soynut butter, so that plus the 1/4 cup oil was a little too much for my liking. If using creamy peanut/soynut butter, I suggest using only a couple tablespoons oil.

All fancy-like.

All fancy-like.

They came out very well and the dogs loved them. And now I’ve learned my lesson and will never bring a bunch of mini-cupcakes to a dog park ever again. Sorry guys, it seemed like a great idea in theory…

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Fudgy Peace Offering Cookies

So I forgot about this blog for a little while I’ve tried settling into the new apt. The dog didn’t immediately adapt well either, and had one particularly bad weekend of whining/yelping/attacking the coat rack. I was actually pretty petrified that the neighbors would complain to the landlord and I would get evicted or something nightmarish. But one of my friends suggested making all the neighbors cookies and just being upfront about the situation. So that’s what I did! I didn’t take pictures, but this recipe is pulled from the Food Allergy News Cookbook, from the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network. My mom used to make these for me, but we found the original formula a little oily. So these are her modifications:

7 T cocoa powder

7 T margarine

1 1/2 T non-dairy milk, 1 1/2 T oil, 1 t baking powder, mixed together

1 cup sugar

1 t vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups flour

1 t baking soda

1/4 t salt

sugar for sprinkling

Combine cocoa and margarine, stir. Add water/oil/baking powder mixture and sugar. Add vanilla extract and stir until mixed. Add flour, baking soda and salt, and mixed until combined. Then refrigerate 30 mins. A note here, I felt like the dough wasn’t coming together enough, so I added some splashes of soymilk and ice water as needed. Of course, when I baked ’em, the cookies all flattened out into each other and I had to cut them apart. Like brownie-cookies (browkies? crownies?)

Preheat oven to 375. Shape dough into 1-inch balls, and place on cookie sheet (doesn’t need to be greased). Sprinkled extra sugar over cookies as desired and bake 8-10 minutes or until set. Remove and cool on wire racks.

We always flattened these with forks after rolling them into balls, but that might not be a good idea depending on how much extra liquid you added.

Anyway, they were definitely fudgy and delicious. Neighbors were appreciative and dog is settling down. So it’s all looking up! It definitely felt good to bake again. That’s something that’s always made me feel productive and useful, so it was like a defining THIS IS MY KITCHEN BITCHES moment.

Although I’m still getting used to the fact that the sink is like 10 feet away from the prep area and behind the fridge…

This picture has nothing t do with the recipe. It came up on a google image search for "peace offering cookies."

This picture has nothing to do with the recipe. It came up on a google image search for “peace offering cookies.”

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Life Goes On

I tried to delete this blog. I did. I didn’t know when I’d even eat again, let alone be able to cook or eat out without thinking of the now ex-chef.

But one day, I will cook and bake again. And when I have the money, I may eat out again.

Furthermore, I still like food. And I still like detailing my experiences eating out with allergies, making vegan baked foods, and reflecting on growing up while being allergic to half the food pyramid.

So, for now, I’m going to try and keep this going. But I probably won’t have another post for at least a month.

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Apple Pie 2012

Same pie crust as last year, which is stolen from Kathy Patalsky of the Lunch Box Bunch blog. I always mix by hand with a pastry cutter.

Chef made the filling and drizzly topping, which he stole from epicurious (apple ginger pie with cider-bourbon sauce).

The drizzle is delicious (there’s a shot of bourbon in it, and it is not cooked off) and so is the filling (bourbon in there too). But like last year, the apples weren’t mushy enough after baking for our tastes. The epicurious recipe doesn’t call for cooking the apples down beforehand, but I think we’ve resolved to do that no matter what the recipe says for the next time we attempt this.

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Pornbread and Jam

Purely a food porn post. Here’s some of my pornbread (pumpkin cornbread, recipe here) and Chef’s cranberry and fig jam (recipe here). We did good.

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Chef is makin’ jam

For serious! Here’s where he got the recipe.

Ingredients

    • 1 oranges
    • 2 lbs figs, washed and quartered
    • 3 cups brown sugar
    • 1 teaspoon grated ginger root
    • 1/2 vanilla pod, split
    • 1/4 cup lemon juice, bottled
    • 2 cups cranberries, fresh or 2 cups frozen cranberries, divided

Directions

  1. Zest orange and rough chop meat discard pith, place it and all the ingredients except one cup of cranberries in a heavy bottom pot over low flame.
  2. Stir to release juices it will be thick. Stirring not to burn. Juices will come and when it does raise heat to high stirring most of the time. At this time remove the vanilla bean.
  3. Using the immersion blender to puree some of the fruit leaving some chucks. Then add the other cup of cranberries.
  4. When it hits a rolling boil for 15 minutes all the time stirring.
  5. Pour into sterile jars leaving 1/2 inch head space and process 10 minutes.
  6. turn flame off and remove lid. Time 5 more minutes. Remove jars holding upright. Cool in draft free spot overnight. Label and use with in 1 year if unopened. Opened store in refrigerator.

 

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Things I will write about

I haven’t posted since the end of August because the semester started and that means if I write a blog post I will feel guilty that I’m not doing homework or workwork. So, yes, I feel guilty right now. BUT here’s the things I plan to write about when I get some spare time:

-Pickles and Preservation in general- We made our own pickles (by “we,” I mean Chef) but we haven’t really been eating them. He keeps talking about how he wants to make jam but that hasn’t happened either.
-Fall=baking things that make the house smell nice.
-Thanksgiving yum.
-Possible holiday treats to make for classmates/work
-Travis Schaffner is kinda my idol right now. In fact I want to make this first post I will get around to because I think he is that cool.

But it is midterm weeks… at UIC SPH, the midterm kind of extends over the period between mid-October to early November. So that plus work makes me very busy right now. I hope to have a new, worthwhile post up around Thanksgiving.

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