Wednesday, October 27, 2010
I love autumn, but I also love my hammock. And now it is too cold and wet to hang out in the hammock. I haven't taken it down yet, though. I guess I'm hoping for one more lovely, warm weekend so I can crawl in there for a nap. This weekend is the hammock's last chance. If it doesn't warm up it's basement time for Mr. Hammock until our city warms up again in April.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
I once broke up with a guy because he wouldn't carve a pumpkin with me. True story. He said it was "too messy" and he wanted no part of it. I took it as a sign that he was severely lacking in the whimsy department. And really, even if you are not interested in being whimsical, the least you can do is spend half an hour carving a pumpkin if that's something that the person you're seeing wants to do. He also hated dogs and children, so our relationship was ultimately doomed, but it makes a better story if I tell you I dumped him because he wouldn't carve a pumpkin with me.
In case it wasn't readily apparent, I really like pumpkins. And, despite being easily scared, I quite enjoy Halloween. I like coming up with cool costumes to wear and I like parties and mischief and treats. So, with that in mind I spent the afternoon coming up with some pumpkiny Halloween treats of my very own.
I was a bit skeptical as to how these would turn out. They certainly don't look very pretty. But it literally only took one bite for me to be completely won over. The spelt flour works really well in a cookie with a cakey texture. These are puffy and light, with the chocolate chips providing a great variation of texture. I am sold. I'm glad the recipe makes tons.
Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies
2 cups white spelt flour
3/4 cup whole grain spelt flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
pinch of ground cloves
2 tbsp ground flax seed mixed with 6 tbsp water
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup safflower oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup chocolate chips (I used mini ones, but any size will do)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
In one bowl, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and cloves. Grate in the ginger and mix.
In another bowl, combine the flax and water with the sugar and mix well, then add the oil, lemon juice, and pumpkin. Mix well.
Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix until smoothly combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
Drop tablespoons full of batter onto prepared baking sheets and press down gently with a fork. The batter will be quite wet, more like cake batter than cookie dough.
Bake for fifteen minutes then let cool on a wire rack.
Makes approximately three dozen cookies. Plenty to share with your friends.
-I bet you're wondering what I'm going to be for Halloween this year! Well, tough luck kiddos, because I'm not revealing that just yet. Next week, when the partying is all over I will post some photos. The only hint I'll give you this this: it's really freakin' scary.
-I made these cookies with spelt flour so I could give some to my friend Megan, who is having an annoying way-too-busy life right now and needs treats.
-Four years ago I forgot to vote in the municipal election. Forgot! I was deeply ashamed of myself. I actually remembered before the polls closed, but talked myself out of leaving the house to go vote, thinking that Alex Munter had the election in the bag. But he didn't! And we got the worst mayor ever. It was the first time I'd skipped voting and it will be the last. If you live in Ottawa, please go vote tomorrow. Preferably not for Lex Luther Lookalike Larry.
This Time Last Year: Nice Buns
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
This has been my favourite weekend lunch lately. I pick some basil and tomatoes from the garden and layer them on a bagel with some Daiya vegan cheese. It goes under the broiler for a few minutes and then it's a pizza bagel! Like the cool kids eat.
Monday, October 18, 2010
This past weekend was a bit bananas. It included a visit from my in-laws, a Joan Baez concert, a twelve course vegan molecular gastronomy meal, getting my hands on a brand new book featuring a screenplay I wrote, a bunch of people dancing to Harry Belafonte songs in a barn with a smoke machine and coloured lights, a barfing husband, a dog pooping in the guest room (where the in-laws were sleeping), an overflowing toilet, a leaking ceiling, some lost car and house keys, Megan doing an amazing Nancy Drew impression, and one very nice dinner of barley potato stew and this Earl Grey Tea cake.
And I'm not making any of that up. Which is why tonight I am super happy to just be sitting in front of the fireplace wearing fuzzy green sweatpants with only a snoring dog and a motionless cat for company.
I've been wanting to make Earl Grey flavoured baked goods for a while. I tried some cupcakes a few weeks ago and they were a complete disaster. I was a bit put off. However, fortune follows bravery, so when Michael asked me to bring dessert to his dinner party on Sunday night I tried again. This time, an excellent layer cake was the result. Achievement unlocked!
I brought the one leftover piece of this in to work and cut it in half to give to my two admin assistants, Diane and Matthieu. Matthieu, who is very, very French Canadian sent me the following e-mail after he ate it: "yummy! Burb! It was delicious! :-) Did your cake have citrus in it?" In fact it did. And really, do you need a more ringing endorsement than "Yummy! Burb!"?
Earl Grey Tea Layer Cake
3 cups all purpose white flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
4 Earl Grey Tea bags (or more, if your tea is weak and crappy)
1/2 cup margarine
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp ground flax seeds mixed with 9 tbsp water
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Lightly grease and set aside two round 8" cake pans. If you want your future to be awesome and stress-free, cut parchment paper to line the bottom of each pan.
Sift flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda and tea from tea bags into one bowl and set it aside.
In another bowl, cream margarine with sugar.
Add lemon juice, flax and water to sugar mixture. Mix well.
Mix vanilla extract into almond milk to "sour" the milk.
Alternately add quarter cups of flour mixture and soured almond milk to sugar mixture, until everything is combined. Don't go crazy and over-mix it.
Divide batter equally into prepared pans.
Bake for between 35-45 minutes, until a chopstick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Let cool in pan for ten minutes, then turn out onto cooling rack until they have cooled completely.
-I evened out my cakes a bit by carefully sawing off the tops with a bread knife. Then I frosted them with a completely seat-of-my-pants icing which involved me throwing icing sugar, almond milk, margarine, and lemon extract into my Kitchenaid Mixer and hoping for the best.
-Speaking of that Kitchenaid Mixer is now MINE! Regular readers will remember that I borrowed it from Kat because she wasn't using it very often. She called me the other day and told me that for a wedding gift she'd like me to keep it. Hooray! A gift that's free for her (she's got better things to spend her money on) and is useful to me. Plus, it looks so nice on my kitchen shelf, I'd hate to see it go.
-The main reason you aren't hearing me dish about my brand new wedding gifts is because we didn't really get any. Seeing as we didn't need any new stuff we asked people to donate money to either the Ottawa Humane Society or the Aylmer SPCA instead. Some people figured out cool gifts to give us that weren't donations and that was fine too, but I felt good knowing that the places who were responsible for bringing Catie and Sacha into our lives were going to get something out of it, too.
This Time Last Year: Date Macadamia Balls
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
So, maybe you got some compost from your friend Geoff. And that compost was great! Thanks, Geoff! And then you noticed a tiny plant coming up in a place where you'd planted nothing. It looked like a squash. You love squash! Geoff must have eaten a squash and put the seeds in his compost. Cool. So you let the plant grow and grow. And grow. And take over one entire garden plot. All in the name of squash. And then, the plants flowered and started to bear fruit.
Well, not fruit per se.
Monday, October 11, 2010
Today is Thanksgiving Monday here in Canada which means a long weekend for us and all the happiness that goes with it. We went to my parents' house for dinner with the family last night and I spent a ridiculous amount of time preparing the vegan portion of the meal for The Man of Science, my mom, and me. But it was worth it! Look at this gorgeous food!
That cute savory chickpea pie up there is from this Dreena Burton recipe published on the Veg News site and suggested in the comments of my last post by Sarah. Thank you, Sarah! It was great, especially when paired with mashed potatoes and vegan gravy. I used a crust recipe from Vegan Brunch and used the leftover bits to cut out those acorns and leaves with some cookie cutters we got as part of a fall-baking themed wedding gift from our friends Megan, Chris, and Brigid. It's amazing how little things like that turn a boring old pie into something Martha Stewart-esque.
This was my vegan dessert, a pumpkin cake with chocolate icing and sugared walnuts. I used my own pumpkin cake recipe but halved it so that I had one small regular cake instead of a giant bundt cake. The icing was my Lazy Woman's Chocolate Icing which is just melted non-dairy chocolate chips with a tablespoon of Earth Balance margarine mixed in. For the walnuts I just toasted them in the oven, then tossed them with a bit of margarine and then with a few spoonfuls of sugar. We got to take a lot of this home with us (it was the dessert last picked for the team because it was in competition with my mother and aunt's pumpkin, apple, and raspberry pies) but my aunt did try some and raved over how moist it was. It's a really nice seasonal recipe, not overly sweet, and very good with tea. But then, what ISN'T good with tea? Really.
This Time Last Year: Amazing Vegan Eggplant Parmesan
Friday, October 8, 2010
I mentioned before that I went over to my friend Katie's house a few weeks ago for a lesson is preserving. She suggested we make some basic salsa for my first go, and I agreed. Salsa is something we eat a lot of here at the House of Science. Plus it's something that most people enjoy and therefore jars of it will make excellent gifts. Win win.
After the success of my canning date with Katie, I waited a few weeks (until more of my tomatoes were ripe!) and decided to try it all myself. A Saturday morning trip to Canadian Tire yielded a canning accessories kit (funnel, magnetic lid lifter, jar lifter), some racks for the bottom of my stock pot, and a box of small mason jars. On the way home I swung by the Main Farmers' Market for some cilantro, green peppers, and onions. And a cookie. For fortification.
I had enough ripe tomatoes and fresh hot peppers from my garden to make up the rest of the recipe. The recipe, by the way, came from Katie via a Bernardin home preserving cookbook. I couldn't find the exact recipe on the current Bernardin website, but they have a bunch of others up there if you're interested.
The hardest part of all this for me was sticking to the recipe. Honestly, I never do that. I've been cooking long enough to understand substitutions and how they work. But this is not just about taste. This is about science! And I am not qualified to mess with science. Nobody likes their salsa with a side of botulism.
Canning food isn't really that hard once you know the steps you need to follow. I kept repeating Katie's canning mantra in my head: Hot food into hot jars. That's the basic principle. All the other steps are important too, so make sure you have an experienced friend or a helpful book at your side to guide you through the process if you've never done it before. I used my notes from my first session with Katie and also referenced Ashley English's amazing book Canning and Preserving. This book has simple instructions and lots of helpful photos. I'm so glad I ordered it (from my favourite bookstore in the world).
Easy Tomato Salsa (via Katie, via Bernardin)
7 cups peeled tomatoes, chopped small
2 cups onion, coarsely chopped
1 cup green pepper, chopped small
8 jalepeno peppers, chopped (you can add less if you like a milder salsa)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (four tbsp) tomato paste
3/4 cup vinegar
1/2 cup cilantro (chopped)
1/2 tsp cumin
To easily peel the tomatoes, lightly cut an "X" shape into their skins and then drop them into boiling water for about 30 seconds. Fish them out with a slotted spoon and drop them into a bowl of ice water. The skins should be peeling away all on their own and you'll be able to just pull them off.
Place all ingredients in a large pot (I used my cast iron dutch oven) over medium-high heat and bring to a gentle boil. Keep the gentle boiling going for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. This will make your house smell awesome.
Fill your (hot) jars with (hot) salsa according to traditional canning procedure (which you're learning from a reliable friend or a helpful book).
Makes nine 250 ml jars full of deliciousness.
-It is Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend and I am still on the look out for a perfect nut or lentil loaf recipe. Does anyone have one that they've tried and loved? All the ones I've made have been too heavy.
-Last night I made Orangette's red lentil soup for dinner (veggie broth, not chicken broth, of course) and I highly recommend it. As a bonus, the recipe makes tons, so you can feed a crowd or freeze a bunch of it for later. This recipe is going into heavy rotation around here. I love soups that can be easily made from things I almost always have on hand. Perfect in the case of any soup emergency that might arise.
-The tea towel in the photos was designed by Claudia Pearson and it is awesome. She has three others for the other seasons but I just got Fall because it is my favourite season. Nuts to you, other seasons! But much love to Claudia Pearson who makes beautiful things. Hallie bought me this tea towel at the Brooklyn Flea Market along with a beautiful print. It was a wedding gift, which was very sweet. Hooray for nesting!
This Time Last Year: Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Friday, October 1, 2010
Wow! Five post in five days! You won't see this again until Vegan Mofo. Which is next month, by the way.
My last full day in New York was Saturday, so Hallie and I went down to the Brooklyn Flea Market to poke around. She teased me for my heat-sensitive Canadianess, but holy crap, it was hot. Not that it doesn't get hot here in Ottawa. Just not in September. When I left, Ottawa was already deep into sweater weather, so the get-my-hair-off-my-neck-before-I-die weather of New York was a shock to my system. As a result, my usual appetite flagged a bit, and we didn't end up eating anything until lunch time. Luckily, the flea market has a pile of different food vendors to choose from. I was super thirsty and therefore delighted to find a vendor selling big cups of watermelon juice.
It was amazingly refreshing. I would have gone back for a second cup if there wasn't a large line of similarly thirsty New Yorkers waiting for their own juice.
While I was seeking juice, Hallie texted me: "Do you want a pious?" I was pretty sure that wasn't an actual thing, but just in case it was some Greenpoint delicacy I texted back, "I don't know what that is." Hallie replied that she'd get some extra to share, and then minutes later sent another message saying she'd meant "pupusa", not "pious". Ah, the hazards of auto-complete.
She arrived with two pupusa. One with cheese and assorted vegetables as the filling and one vegan one with zucchini as the filling. Even though we didn't have the non-vegan condiments that were supposed to go with them, they were both very tasty. We enjoyed them while resting in the shade.
We split up after the flea market and I very bravely took a variety of shuttlebuses and subways to get myself back to Bedford avenue, where I bought myself a nice bag, then got some iced tea and went to sit in the park and read.
After a little while, Joe came to meet me and we walked back up Bedford to go to Bliss for an early dinner.
I was starting to feel like maybe the Cold That Everyone Else Had was descending upon me. But I was in enough denial to order some ginger beet juice in an attempt to hold it back. Joe ordered what he called a "Canadian Lemonade" (because it was sweetened with maple syrup) which apparently was too strong for human consumption. He made quite a face after the first sip and did not take any subsequent sips.
For dinner I had what I think was called the "Harvest Plate". A very satisfying collection of lentils, tofu, kale, vegetables, cornbread, and rice with a tahini miso dressing. It was really great, but unfortunately did nothing to kill the cold that overtook me while we ate. Joe had quesedillas, which looked good. And BTW The Ergs were an awesome band.
After dinner I got minorly cranky because of my sore throat and stuffy head, so we just walked back to Hallie's place and watched TV on glorious Hulu (a luxury that we can not access in Canada) until I was too beat to sit up. Blargh! Stupid cold.
And thus ended my trip to NYC. No more trips for a while, I'm laying low this winter, but everyone is welcome to come visit me. I'll even cook for you. I'm working to perfect my own version of that vegan chicken bacon ranch sandwich.