Saturday, October 24, 2009

Pizza and Pancakes

The other day I bought some canned pumpkin to make some pumpkin chocolate chip muffins.  When I opened the can and then looked at the label I noticed that it said it was pumpkin pie filling not pure pumpkin.  This would not have been a problem if I hadn't already added sugar and spices to my mixture!  Luckily I had another can of pure pumpkin in my pantry and I was able to finish the muffins.  But this left me with an open can of pumpkin pie mix.  What was I to do?  It sat in my fridge for a week while I debated between Pumpkin Scones and Pumpkin Brownies and various other pumpkin goodies.  Then this morning I went on a walk and I thought, Pumpkin Pancakes!  When I returned home I made this recipe and let me tell you, this is the pancake recipe I have been searching for since turning vegan.  Since I had a can that had 1.5 cups pumpkin and the recipe only called for .5 cups I tripled the recipe and I am so glad I did!

It seems that most pancake recipes I try turn out not so structured.  They are flimsy and more like crepes, but not in a good way.  These were so thick and full of structure!  I don't know if it was the pumpkin that did this, but if it was I will never make pancakes without pumpkin again!  To top the pancakes I thought something with cranberries would be delicious.  I took a couple of handfulls of frozen cranberries and put them in a small sauce pan with a little bit of agave nectar and let it cook until the cranberries popped.  I also added just a bit of arrowroot powder because in the beginning it looked way to watery but I don't think this step was necessary.

When the first batch was cooked I cut one in half to check how the inside looked.  It looked beautiful and when I dipped it in the cranberry jelly I almost died.  Okay that's a little over the top.  But damn these were good.

Then when I went to transfer the pictures to my computer I noticed that I had completely forgotten about the beautiful pictures I took of the pizza I made last weekend.

 I have had my fair share of failed crusts, but this one turned out mostly decent.  For toppings, there are red bell peppers, red onions, kalamata olives, chard, vegan pepperoni and some vegan cheese.  This pizza was soooo good and I am ashamed to say I ate the whole thing in one sitting.

I am currently working on another pizza but the crust is not showing much potential.  I don't know why I just can't get the hang of kneading....

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies

This weekend I was perusing the interwebs, looking at random Vegan MoFO, when I came across some Chocolate Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies that someone had made from Veganomicon.  They looked so delicious that, had I not been out of cocoa powder, I would have made them right then and there.  Alas, I had to wait a whole 24 hours to make them!  Let me tell you, these cookies were worth the wait.  After I mixed up the dough, I had decided to make 1/2 of them without nuts for my non nut loving boyfriend.  This was before I had given the dough a taste.  Seriously, I could have eaten the whole thing raw it was so yummy.  In the end, I decided to make only 1/3 without nuts which left the other 2/3 all for me (and to share with a few select people). This is very unusual for me.  Generally I will give up nuts in an effort to compromise or at least take the smaller portion, but these were just too damn good. 

Seriously, if you make these be prepared to have someone to share with.  The recipe makes 3 dozen and I easily find myself eating one or two and then wishing they were healthy enough to eat at least one more.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Environmental and Domestic Questions

Yesterday, as I set out to do some baking in my kitchen and began mentally preparing for the exciting journey of moving to a new kitchen, I had my camera out and began taking pictures of things I had questions about.  My hope was that I could post these questions here and see what answers I could get.  If you have anything that resembles an answer, or if you have more questions please speak up.

First off, do you buy spaghetti sauce in jars?  What do you do with empty jars?  For a while I was keeping them.  Occasionally I would use them to drink my smoothies or store my cut up carrots, but now I have so many of them that I do not have uses for that I just cant justify the space they take up in my cupboards.  So last night I put the majority of them in my recycling bin but I was left with this question; are jar lids recyclable?

 I do not believe that they are and so a bunch of these ended up in my trash.

I'd really love it if nothing ended up in my trash so this makes me a little sad.  I know a great solution would be to make my own sauce but I haven't gotten to a place where I have the resources and the knowledge to do that yet.

My next question is this:
How do you do dishes? 

My boyfriend and I have been using the method of running super hot water and then scrubbing each individual dish with a sponge and then drying in a dish drainer.  There is another method which I had toyed with a few times and tried again last night that I think I like, but I do not know which uses less water.  I filled up both sides of the sink.  One side with super hot, soapy water and the other side with just super hot water.  I then put the dishes, a few at a time starting with the least dirty, in the side with the soap to soak a few minutes.  I then scrubbed the dishes in the soapy side and rinsed them in the non soapy side.  This method seems to work really well but which saves more water?

Next up is kitchen cleanup.

Do you use cloth towels in your kitchen instead of paper towels?  How do you go about it?  Do you always have a semi dirty towel laying around to clean up spills or drop to the floor if you drop something down there?  Or do you just use a clean towel anytime you have a mess?  Or do you use a sponge to clean up messes?  I use towels for cleaning up, drying vegetables, pot holders, etc.  When they are dirty, they go in here:

And once a week I wash what we dirtied for the week.  I would like to hang dry my towels so that they do not have to use the energy of the dryer, anyone have any tips on that?

Next up is this guy:

Anyone use a blender?  My question is, how do you wash it?  Do you take it apart every time?  Do you give it a quick rinse with some soap and hot water?  I took the base apart one time to wash it and, I may be paranoid but I felt like it lost some of its stability when I did so.

Anyone have a pizza stone?  This is technically called something else (which I can't remember) but it is similar to a pizza stone and that is what I use it for.  Last time I used it I got tomato sauce burnt all over it.  I am pretty sure you are not supposed to wash it with soap, and I don't really think that would do anything anyway.  I tried scraping it without much luck.  I believe the solution will involve high heat, but I am unsure.

Has this ever happened to you?
That's it for my questions.  I really appreciate any tips or tricks or answers anyone can give me.

Thanks so much!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Dinner and a smoothie

Today at the farmer's market I got some brussel sprouts which I thought would be nice for dinner.  I used the recipe for Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Toasted Garlic from Vegan with a Vengeance.  I also threw in some cauliflower to satisfy my other half who is not the biggest fan of the sprouts.  I thought that these along with some nuggets would be a pretty good dinner.  Then I got to thinking that a salad would be nice as well.  I bought tons of lettuce today but not too many things that I wanted to add to a salad.  In the end I decided on a strange to me combination of lettuce, walnuts, raspberries and balsamic vinaigrette.  After I had the salad assembled I kept looking at it and trying to figure out what I could add to it to make it seem more appealing.  I decided to just try it as it was and surprise, surprise, it was delicious! 

After I finished eating this I didn't feel quite full.  I was tempted to smash up some raspberries and eat them with another one of these cinnamon rolls but since I had already had 2 for breakfast I didn't think it was very appropriate.  So I thought.  And I thought.  And I went into the kitchen with the intention of making some sort of a smoothie.  I pulled out some frozen cherries and some soy milk and continued to think.  I tried to figure out what I could include with those two items to make something yummy.  Then it struck me.  I had a little bit of a package of chocolate pudding mix left and so I would make a chocolate, cherry shakey, smoothie, puddingy thing.  I added some arrowroot powder for thickening though I think the pudding mix already had a bit of a thickener in it.

And voila

This was sooo good.  Everything balanced really well.  I had just enough pudding mix left to not overpower the cherry and the soy milk made it so creamy.  It was quite a lot like a milkshake.  I only wish I had enough to make more!

Vegan Cinnamon Rolls

I have been contemplating vegan cinnamon rolls for the past 3 weekends.  I read and re-read multiple recipes to try to find the perfect one.  In the end I mostly used this one but I also infused it with this one and this one.  I used a total of 4 cups of flour, a mix of bread and whole wheat pastry.  I used a little more than a half cup of soy milk which I heated with the earth balance.  In the end I am not sure exactly what I used.

I have a not so good relationship with kneaded bread.  No one has ever shown me how to do it in person and I almost always feel my dough comes out too tough.  I let this dough rise for just over 2 hours before I gave up and put it in the fridge to come back to in the morning.  This morning I rose at 5:30 by pure luck and put it in my oven with the light on and went back to sleep.  When I got up at 7 I was still fearful of disaster.  The dough didn't look very much like the dough in the video on the first recipe page.  It looked a lot tougher.  But I decided at that point it was time to at least attempt the cinnamon rolls.  So I pulled the dough into a rectangle and covered it with melted earth balance, sugar and cinnamon and rolled it up.  It seemed a little short so I rolled it over a couple of times to stretch it out.  I then cut it into 12 slices and placed them into a pan coated with earth balance and sugar.  I left them to rise for 45 minutes with very low hopes of any real rise.

Surprisingly enough, when I came back:

Fairly nicely risen rolls.

After 30 minutes in the oven I was very pleasantly surprised to find this sight awaiting me.

 Not only did they rise, some of them rose too much.  Here's a better shot of what I mean.

It cracks me up how the front right one is just about perfect and the back left one is popping out completely.

Feeling incredibly victorious, I frosted them up with some tofutti cream cheese and powdered sugar and ate what is surely one of the best things I have ever baked.  The texture was perfect.  The flavor was wonderful.  The center?  Divine!  The best part is that I believe that I can do this without a recipe next time!  Learning is fun.