Archive for the ‘food’ Category

(almost) vegan

Lately, I’ve been sliding towards veganism. For a life-long vegetarian, this is not really that much of an adjustment; I’ve never really liked milk and have always been disturbed by eggs in most preparations. I received The Veganomicon as a gift last Christmas but only just discovered how wonderful the banana bread recipe is; it’s exactly what I’ve been looking for through many failures of too-heavy, greasy loaves and strangely-textured, healthy ones. It rose beautifully and the texture is just right (I think that the molasses helps). Of course, I went and un-veganed it with some mini chocolate chips that were lurking in my pantry. I’m getting there.

I’m reluctant to post the recipe since I barely adapted it at all, but this version from Joy the Baker seems like another adaptation of the basic recipe. I used 1/4 c applesauce instead of pineapple, 2 T molasses instead of the extra 2 T sugar, toasted walnuts and chocolate chips instead of coconut, nutmeg instead of allspice and ginger, and, for once, all white flour instead of whole wheat–I’ve decided just to go for it when it comes to banana bread.

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Day 5 didn’t happen. Oops. Well, it happened—I taught, I napped, I drank horchata and ate pizza—and then I went to bed, forgetting all about my blogbligations (blobligations?). It was a good night. I’ve touched down on both coasts in the last few weeks— here’s a picture of my feet on a cliff in San Diego, where my lovely friend B. was wed— and, while getting away is good, being home feels luxurious right now.

Of course, that much time away from home means that my refrigerator contains some horrors as well as a good measure of guilt (in the form of lovely produce that I haven’t had time to prepare). After too many weeks, I finally got around to shelling and cooking a bag of cranberry beans from the farmers’ market— I love this Jamie Oliver recipe for “humble beans.” Speaking of Jamie, I was quite cross to find my DVR devoid this morning of any new episodes “Jamie at Home”— apparently, AT&T has not been able to negotiate a new contract with Cooking Channel and Food Network. It’s enough to make me think of cutting back my cable package.

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Back to this after a weekend of leisurely reading and baking; Saturday’s nectarine galette and Sunday’s grape focaccia with rosemary did not disappoint. But when has Smitten Kitchen ever failed me? Even that ugly birthday cake was delicious. I took a few pictures of the focaccia; they were all terrible, in part because— with all the intermittent steps of kneading, shaping, waiting, and seeding grapes— all the good light was gone by the time I was done. The one picture that wasn’t out of focus prominently displayed my grape-stained fingernails, which just looked dirty. I had no idea what to expect from the combination of olive oil, concord grapes, and rosemary, but it was so singularly delicious that I ate myself sick before the sticky pools of fruit had even fully cooled. And then I stuck the rest of it in the freezer, my usual solution for edible things that have turned in my mind from impossibly tasty to oppressive.

I’m writing about sewing. It’s pretty great.

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birthday cake

This is not the most photogenic piece of cake. It’s been getting jostled around in the refrigerator for the three days since my birthday; although these occasions are exceedingly rare, from time to time, I do wish that I owned something large enough to contain and store an entire cake (rather than being forced to hack it into chunks to fit into a series of nesting mixing bowls). Speaking of the aesthetics of this cake…it was kind of a mess, although I managed to patch it back together with frosting and some distracting embellishments.

I got the idea that I wanted a yellow cake stuck in my head the night before my birthday and landed on this recipe. At first, while wandering the aisles of Woodman’s, I thought about going the Duncan Hines route. The list of ingredients, though, was a little too disturbing. More disturbing, even, than half a pound of butter. After a narrow escape from the gravitational pull of the pinata aisle at Woodman’s (actually, there are several pinata aisles), I got down to baking. All is going to plan. And then, chaos—rescued kittens (another component of my birthday celebrations) start creating a ruckus in the back room—I go to check on them—and the cake pans begin to overflow. And then, the cakes begin to fall. I have no idea why—the pans were the right size, my oven was at the right temperature, and the batter seemed fine. I ended up with a rather doughnut-like cake—raised on the sides and heavily indented in the middle—but it was actually still delicious. The texture of this cake is much more dense than the eerie lightness of box cake, but it’s a good kind of dense. And the sour cream frosting might convert me to a frosting person after all (I usually scrape most of it off of my piece of cake before eating it). Luckily, Ricky and my mom were more than willing to eat ugly-ish, delicious cake. And now my freezer is full of ugly-ish, delicious slices of that cake—the kind of thing that one can only serve to family and true friends.

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For some reason, Erich* and I have been talking a lot about Chipwiches lately. I don’t think that I’ve ever had a Chipwich, actually, because the idea has always seemed kind of appalling—I would rather just eat cookies. But last night, inspiration struck—in the form of an overly full refrigerator (so much disappointingly marinated tofu), a lust for chocolate, and about eight leftover bits of dough from the Nestle Toll House Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies that I bought to feed the crowd who convened the other night to watch this train wreck (a BNL music video? really?).

Sandwiched with Trader Joe’s tart frozen yogurt and rolled in the tiny chocolate chips that I seem to always have on hand, these were kind of odd little concoctions. But also kind of delicious. We’re already planning a second round, with some modifications—more frozen yogurt and more time in the freezer after assembling and before eating. These were very melty and squishy, but I still took a quick picture before I ate mine. The picture was so bad, though, that I went all out with the effects on iPhoto to try and make its blurriness into something artful.

* /Ricky

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Today was a gray, slow sort of day—although it began for me with a bracing bike ride in the rain to meet with the farmer’s market crowd for magic coffee and browsing. I bought ten pounds of small red potatoes, which I eat almost every morning, like this:

I bought five pounds last week, at the season’s first market, but I ran out by Wednesday. I’ve gotten into the habit of long, leisurely weekday breakfasts in the company of the mildly annoying hosts of the Today Show. I like to get up a little earlier now—I woke up on Friday at 6:45 without an alarm—so that I can linger a while in the morning. These breakfasts are the only real cooking I’ve been doing lately and the only respectable meal I’ve been eating in the course of most days. I’ve gotten lazy with cooking, although I did make two strawberry rhubarb crisps this week. In my defense, it’s a healthy-ish recipe and probably the only thing that’s keeping my from getting scurvy as I try to work through some of the odds and ends of my pantry. I don’t know how I ended up with so many cans of black beans. The rhubarb is in the same category; I still have another freezer bag full of pieces that I labored to clean and pack away at the peak of the season last year.

But back to today. With the exception of the brief shower that drenched me on my bike this morning and the overnight rain that—I deduce from the progress that my hostas have made in the last 12 hours—must have been much heavier, we’ve had nothing but clouds threatening rain for the entire day. I love storms—even the menacing St. Louis ones that turn the sky green—but I don’t like almost-storms. So I didn’t accomplish much today.

But I did watch this movie and you should, too—I loved it. It was beautiful. And the perfect antidote to this kind of day.

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Um. I should probably post about my trip—I have some pictures of New Orleans and of College Station, though not many— but this just arrived in the mail. And I think that I am ashamed. It’s like the grad student version of that silver card that the George Clooney character in Up in the Air gets for flying constantly— suitably less impressive. As far as I can tell, this shiny card gives me nothing that my other registered Starbucks card doesn’t. But my other card has birds on it. . .and this one has my name. It’s a sad looking thing, really.

It’s very uncool in Madison—and probably in grad school in general— to like Starbucks. But I do. I like the free things that I get with my registered bird card. Sometimes I feel compelled to get free syrups even though I don’t really like them, just because I can. I like that I always know what I’m going to get. I’ve been burned too many times (not literally) by lousy lattes at some of the other coffee shops that are clustered around the university, the employees of which are often more than a little surly. I have my local favorites— places that I’m happy to patronize when I have a long day of work and when I want something better for lunch than the frightening baked goods* that Starbucks seems to truck in from who-knows-where— but for coffee, I almost universally prefer Starbucks. Or Dunkin’ Donuts, but those are sadly lacking in this corner of the world (but not for long, I hear).
And so I got a lame little gold card in the mail and then blogged some free advertising for the corporate giant. Starbucks, you own my soul— you win.
*those tiny sparkle donuts are kind of awesome, though. in moderation.

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