Policy

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Friends Don't Let Friends: Not Have a Trifle or Make Them Miss Gluten

Today we went to a fabulous event put on by The Purple Pig Project, which raises money to give to animal rescue groups and sanctuaries.   It was hosted by a member of the group who always outdoes herself with hospitality and everyone brings amazing, all vegan, dishes to share.

I decided to get a bit crazy in the kitchen last night and we made a bunch of things to share with the group.

The first thing I made were my favorite Chocolate-Chip Walnut Brownies.  I did add in some extra dark cocoa to the cocoa mix and they turned out just as awesome as always.  (The recipe is via VegNews May/June 2009, Issue 67 and the link above.)


But of course I have to test some new recipes, so I made a gluten-free cornbread (trying to work gluten-free recipes into the repertoire) and a Strawberry-blueberry Vanilla  English Trifle.


Yep, they turned out pretty awesome.

The cornbread recipe is from Babycakes' first cookbook and is a bit sweet with a soft crumb.  It calls for being made in a loaf pan.  I haven't tried the more traditional square pan. 

Babycakes Gluten-free Cornbread

Ingredients
  • 2/3 cup rice milk
  • 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup Bob's Red Mill gluten-free all-purpose baking flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup corn flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil , plus more for the pan
  • 1/3 cup agave nectar
  • 1/3 cup homemade applesauce or store-bought unsweetened unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tsp. pure pure vanilla extract
Directions
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly grease a 7x4x3-inch loaf pan with oil. (Note: I did not oil the pan, I lined it with parchment instead.)

Pour the rice milk and apple cider vinegar into a small bowl, but do not stir; set aside to develop into "buttermilk." In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, corn flour, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum and salt. Add the oil, agave nectar, applesauce and vanilla to the dry ingredients. Stir the batter until well combined. Pour in the "buttermilk." Mix gently until the ingredients are fully incorporated and a slightly grainy batter is formed.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake the corn bread on the center rack for 32 minutes, rotating the pan 180 degrees after 20 minutes. The finished corn bread will bounce back slightly when pressed, and a toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean.

Let the corn bread stand in the pan for 20 minutes, then gently run a knife around the edge of the bread. Cover the top of the pan with a cutting board, and invert the loaf onto the board. (This last step is not needed if you line your pan.  I just pull it out via the paper.)
The English Trifle takes a few more steps as there are several components to it.  There's the cake, the whipped cream, pastry cream, lemon curd and the macerated berries.  You could leave some of the cream/curd components out but I'd at least do the berries, whipped cream and lemon curd, leaving out the pastry cream if you wish.   But all 3 does give you a delicious result. These recipes are from several sources so I will link as possible.

Here are the steps I took - The night before I, I made the following because they all need to cool/chill:
1. Lemon curd
2. Pastry creme
3. Cake - Victoria Sponge

The morning of, I :
1. Macerate the strawberries (save some just chopped to add on top along with blueberries, raspberries, etc., as you wish)
2. Make the whipped cream
3. Assemble


Lemon Curd

I love lemon curd and have made it a few ways.  The version I used here came from Bryanna Clark Grogan via her site - Vegan Feast Kitchen.

Some notes I would make about how I made this is, first I steamed the parsnips after cubing them.  This freed me up to do other work.  I would have let them drain a bit more than I did.  I also, if I'd had the time instead of making this the night before, would have run this through the VitaMix for an even smoother look.  I used 3 Meyer lemons and part of a standard lemon for the juice and the zest.  It turned out relish.

Pastry Cream

This pastry cream will be a great filling for eclairs and more.  I just loved it and it was super simple. 
This recipe was also from Bryanna Clark Grogan but it took a bit of sleuthing to track it down, since it seems to not be on her site.  I found it on VegSource.com. (not the prettiest site!) and it could not be simpler.  I did grind the cashews in my mini-processor before measuring but that's the only modification.  It was super easy to do and came together fast and was delicious. 

Victoria Sponge Cake

I've been wanting to try a recipe from one of my newest acquisitions - Ms. Cupcake: The Naughtiest Vegan Cakes in Town.  This cake was so easy and great, I can't wait to make more of her recipes.

One note: Unlike its US counterparts, Ms Cupcake’s recipe book uses metric as well as cup measurements. According to Ms Cupcake , if you’re having trouble baking with cups, it could be because you’re doing it wrong. If you’re measuring flour, you have to pour the flour into the cup - not scoop because that compacts the flour and you end up with the wrong amount.

Ingredients

3 Cups + 2 Tbsp self-rising flour
1 Cup + 3 Tbsp (caster) sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 2/3 Cups soy or rice milk (I used rice as that's what I had on hand)
2/3 Cup canola oil (or other flavorless oil)
2 Tbsp vanilla extract

Grease and flour 2 round 8", 9" or 10" cake tins (Note: I used 10" because I wanted a thinner cake to cut up and layer in the trifle bowl. I also lined the bottom of the pans with parchment.) and pre-heat oven to 350.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar and baking powder together. Add the milk, oil and vanilla, stirring until just combined. Tap the bowl onto the work surface to stop the rising agents from working too quickly - you'll see any bubbles pop. Pour half the batter into each cake tin and tap the tins on the work surface to pop the bubbles again.

Bake for about 18 - 20 min or until a toothpick, inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cool for 10 - 15 minutes in the tins and then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Macerated Berries

No real recipe here. I took about 1 1/2 pounds of fresh strawberries, de-hulled them and cut them into quarters and then sprinkled with about 2 - 3 Tbsp of sugar and then the juice of 1 lemon. Stir and let sit in the refrigerator until you are ready to assemble, at least 30 min.

Whipped Cream

I always keep about 2 cans of coconut milk in the refrigerator so I have it on hand for easy whipped cream. Let it sit and don't shake it at all! Scoop the solid coconut fat from the top of the cans of coconut milk into a bowl that has been in the freezer for at least an hour (I also keep my whisk attachment in the freezer too). Do not get any of the liquid into the solids, leave some of the solids in the can if you have to.

Whisk the solids briefly until it fluffs up and then add powdered sugar and vanilla extract to taste.

For this trifle, I would use about 4 cans worth of the coconut milk solids to ensure you have enough to cover 3 layers.

Assembly

I cut the two cakes into squares and then layered it into the bowl in the following order:
1. Cake
2. Whipped Cream
3. Macerated berries and fresh blueberries/raspberries
4. Lemon Curd
5. Pastry Cream
6. Cake
7. Whipped Cream
8. Macerated berries and fresh blueberries/raspberries
9. Lemon Curd
10. Pastry Cream
11. Cake
12. Whipped Cream
13. Fresh chopped berries

Dig in!

_______________




We roasted our sweet potatoes for a bit longer than noted and added in some rice vinegar to taste for the dressing.

I traveled well and was delicious room temperature.  I think we need to make it again to have it more warm.

All in all, we ate a ton and are stuffed!  Our gatherings are good for the spirit but dangerous for my waistline!




Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Semi-Homemade Crap

Your friends, Pinterest, and FoodNetwork are trying to kill you.

There is a trend in cooking called "semi-homemade". Not originated by, but made popular by Sandra Lee, I use the word cooking in a very loose way, because I would, in no way, consider this cooking... it's basically where you dump a bunch of packaged food stuffs (not food) into a pot or crockpot or oven and then say you've "made" something.

Sure you opened a can, ripped open a box or package and gave it a stir but you did not cook.

I know why these so-called recipes are shared on Facebook and Pinterest and via email so often these days.  You can go to the store, grab some stuff off the shelves, use a bunch of coupons and feel you've actually made some real food for the people you like and love.

 Sorry to say it... but you didn't.

Acutally, you've done them more harm than good.  These recipes aren't good.  They aren't fun and they certainly aren't healthy.  They're not even a step above any fast food place.

The image below is the one that set me off today.  A "Croc-Pot Hot Chocolate" which consists of:



Use two bags of chopped up Ande's mints chips, one bottle of Rum Chata, two small cans of sweetened condensed milk, one small carton of heavy whipping cream, and 4 cups of milk! Double to make a large pot. Just mix everything together, set on high for 2 hours stirring occasionally and then enjoy.


Yep.  Flavored baking chips, alcohol, sweetened condensed milk AND heavy cream AND milk.

Did the math on this one, even using skim milk, 1 6oz serving (less than 1 cup) is about 500 cal, 24g of fat (18 of which is saturated) and 44g of cholesterol. One small serving is about 1/3 of your daily calories and almost all of a day's fat target.

Pinterest is a great source of inspiration but be wise and don't fall of the trap of "easy".  Instead focus on whole and healthy.

Monday, August 26, 2013

When One Door Closes...

When you live with a number of animals, you know that there will be many times of sadness over your life.

On August 18th, our little birdie passed away.

We knew when she came to us just under 3 years ago that she was an older bird and had not had the best care. We tried to make her healthy and happy as much as we could. She had some health issues as time went on but we hope she was happy with us. She wasn't a snuggly bird but she was always interested and chirpy.

We already miss her and the house will be too quiet without her.



But this past weekend, we learned about another bird girl in need of a home, so I drove to go bring her to us out of animal control.

It was a few hours drive round-trip but we were happy to be able to have Pepper come and live with us.


She's still adjusting but things are going well.  Jake has been protective of her, as he was with Maple last year.  We think she is pretty young because she's very quiet but makes sweet little peeps and chirps.

We hope she will be happy in her new home and enjoy spending time with the other girls and Jake and us.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

5 Year Vegan-versary


So over the weekend, on Saturday July 13th in fact, we celebrated our 5th Vegan-versary.

 To mock/quote a friend I'll say, we have been 5 years "on a bandwagon", now that is a long bandwagon.

5 years since we stopped eating meat, and any other animal product soon after... It is too simple a thing to say our lives changed. And was all thank to a tenacious little rooster named Napoleon. He put his life on the line, literally, to protect his girls.  And with his life in peril, it woke us up to the fact that THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE between those animals we eat and those we love, we have just culturally made up reasons to make our guilt feel lessened.

 If you are interested in saving your life and not being a victim of a food system that has been bought out years before you were born, if you are sick of being and sick and tired of being tired then a plant-based whole foods way of life is for you. Don't buy into fad diets of no-carbs or "caveman" eating, what veganism offers is an approach to food, and all consumables, that massively lessens your impact on the world, while providing a framework for healthy living.

It is affordable, unlike some propaganda would have you believe. Veganism as a cultural movement was named around since the 1940s but, of course, this concept is not even that new - heck, even Socrates is quoted is advocating against eating animals. And evidence shows people knew the dangers of certain foods that are bad for us centuries before that, e.g. meat and dairy.

It doesn't matter if you are a young, old, pregnant or have a debilitating disease - whole foods, plant based is the way to go.

And if you want to see a sweet, although fuzzy, video of when Napoleon was reunited with his girls after healing for over a month, check out our video.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Being Plant Strong

I think Rip Esselstyn is great!

If his Dad isn't convincing you with science and research (aka Forks Over Knives and The China Study), then manly athlete and fire fighter Rip is going to show you the results in a practical way.



I really want to get our local fire station onto his Engine 2 diet. I think they would feel so much better for it!


Monday, June 10, 2013

Sunday Night Test Kitchen: Hot Toddy Cake

A new favorite website - Maple Spice - inspired me to make this cake.

It's a Hot Toddy cake and it combines cloves, lemon and whiskey. Irish whiskey, of course, as she's in Ireland.





I used almond milk instead of rice milk and used the Wilton frosting (with lemon extract instead of vanilla) instead.  It turned out delicious and very pretty with the lemons and yellow frosting.

I can't wait to try out more of her recipes. They all look so delicious!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Sunday Night Test Kitchen

I've done this in the past but now I'm back at it.

 What am I talking about? I've reinstated Sunday Night Test Kitchen.
 I get to try out a new recipe each week and have our friends eat it all up and give feedback.

 In the past few weeks, we've made...

Chocolate Layer Cake with Chocolate Hazelnut Filling and Cocoa Frosting

Homemade Ladyfingers for Tiramisu

Napoleons

Mini Almond Pound Cakes with Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream and Fresh Strawberries

Rustic Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting





It's all vegan and all delicious. Who says you can't eat amazing vegan baked goods. Baking with out eggs or dairy is soooo easy!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Friends Don't Let Friends: Not Celebrate St. Patrick's Day

Over the past several weeks, the husband and I have been getting together at another couple's house, along with another couple and all our dogs(!!!), for Sunday night dinner, games and The Walking Dead.

Yesterday, being St. Patrick's day, we decided to get all festive and do a full Irish dinner... veganized of course!



Everyone in the group cooks so we've had some great meals - enchiladas, tacos, lasagna, many many varieties of homemade pizza, chili, and more. Last night we had a corned beef-style seitan (made from scratch), colcannon made with kale, red cabbage and apples and Irish soda bread. Everything was amazing!

 I've also used these dinners to bring back what I call "Sunday Night Test Kitchen". I try to make a new recipe each time and we've had tiramisu, chocolate cheesecake, coconut cake and, of course, cupcakes.


Last night's dessert, to be festive, were Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Irish Whiskey Buttercream Frosting, modified from Chef Chloe's new book.



Ingredients

Chocolate Beer Cupcakes

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour (or gluten-free all-purpose flour plus ¾ teaspoon xanthan gum)
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup stout beer (I used Guinness Extra Stout, which is vegan)
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons white or apple cider vinegar (I used white)
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Irish Whiskey Buttercream (note, I made my regular frosting and did not add milk)

  • 1 cup non-hydrogenated shortening (I use Spectrum Organics)
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 to 5 tablespoons soy, almond, or rice milk
  • 3 to 4 teaspoons Irish whiskey

Caramel

  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup vegan margarine
  • 4 teaspoons soy, almond, or rice milk

I opted to ditch the caramel and instead do a festive green ombre frosting with green jimmies.

Here's the process:


Procedure


To make the Chocolate Beer Cupcakes

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 (12-cup) cupcake pans with 14 cupcake liners. Note, I got 16 cupcakes out of this recipe. 
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together stout, oil, vinegar, and vanilla. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and whisk until just combined. Do not over mix.
Fill the cupcake liners about two-thirds full with batter. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean with a few crumbs clinging to it. Cool the cupcakes completely before frosting.

To make the Irish Whiskey Buttercream

Using a handheld or stand mixer, beat the shortening until smooth. With the mixer running on low, add powdered sugar, vanilla, and 1 tablespoon nondairy milk at a time, as needed, until frosting reaches a spreadable consistency. You may not need to use all of the nondairy milk. Add whiskey, 1 teaspoon at a time, until desired taste. Beat on high for 2 more minutes until light and fluffy.

To make the Caramel

In a small saucepan, over medium heat, heat brown sugar, margarine, and nondairy milk, stirring frequently.  Once mixture comes together, increase heat to medium-high and let cook for one to two more minutes, until it begins to boil and the bubbles move into the center of the caramel. Remove from heat.
To assemble the cupcakes: Frost cooled cupcakes with buttercream and dust with cocoa powder. Drizzle warm caramel over cupcakes using a fork or a squeeze tube. Caramel will be easier to work with while warm.
If you want the ombre frosting, I use gel food coloring and then paint 4 stripes of it in my piping bag before putting in the frosting.  When it comes out, it's swirled!

I hope you enjoyed some craic and... 
Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Daoibh

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Addictive Foods





















I am just starting to read this article, The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food, and I'm already nodding my head in agreement.

I wish people would take the time to really look at what they are eating.  If you are buying it out, what you are liking and craving is created.  Not through culinary skills but through a combination of, often man-made, chemicals.

The best thing to do is go to independent, local restaurants or make your own.  And read Fast Food Nation!



Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Dogs Can Evolve

























I was so excited to see the new study out from Uppsala University in Sweden that shows how dogs have evolved right along side humans, helping them to mesh perfectly into our lives.

The main reason for this is contributed to the fact that, as man was creating an agriculture based lifestyle  planting, harvesting and eating grains more regularly, dogs were able to eat and process starchy foods and carbohydrates.

I love this because it just goes to show, again, that dogs are not obligate carnivores like cats and that they can be very healthy on a varied diet.  Just like ours who are still getting (and reacting to) a veggie filled dinner each night.



Evolutionary geneticist, Erik Axelsson, states that all dogs have this genetic change and that it's thousands of years back in time.

So now when people whine about the fact that it's not natural for dogs to eat veggies (like eating kibble is?) we can say "yes, yes it is!"

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Smiling!



There is little that makes me more smiley and happy than having someone contact me and asking about going vegan.  

I LOVE LOVE LOVE it!!!

In the time we've gone vegan, we count at least 8 people who have wanted to go vegan too.  Yeah for vegan outreach!  

It makes us so happy because we know how happy we are and we know how good it is for the people who want to make the change, as well as for the animals and the world. 

I get so excited, I write a huge long response.  Here's a sample:

Going vegan was one of the best things we've ever done (almost 5 years now!) and I'm happy to help you in any way possible. The great thing is there are TONS of resources out there now, from cookbooks to sites to blogs and podcasts, etc. I even wrote a little "introductory" post about it on my site -http://dailycoop.blogspot.com/2012/06/vegan-kickstart.html- and the cookbooks/writers listed there are our favorites. Colleen and Happy Herbivore both have blogs, sites and pages on FB with tons of info. We also get Veg News magazine which is filled with good info as well.
What's also cool is we never feel like we are skimping on anything. Being big foodies and loving cooking and baking, we make lots of the same stuff all the time. I've added resources on The Daily Coop about baking, but the Joy of Vegan Baking and Chloe's books are great resources. And I'm happy to answer any specific questions.
Some other good sites/resource are Vegan Yum Yum (beautiful and she also has a cookbook - http://veganyumyum.com/ ), Vegan Dad (for kids/comfort food -http://vegandad.blogspot.com/ ) and Finding Vegan -http://www.findingvegan.com/ .
There are some great apps (with sites) if you have an iPhone, such as: HappyCow.net (the app is VegOut, for finding veg friendly restaurants), VeganSteven, VeganXpress, iVegan, Barnivore (vegan beer, wine & liquour guide), Animal-free (lists vegan and non-vegan ingredients in pkgd foods).
Great food options if you don't know already are EarthBalance (the sticks work JUST LIKE diary butter - you can melt, saute, bake, etc. I prefer the tub spread for toast and sandwiches), all kinds of non-dairy milk of course, Veganaise instead of mayo, Gardein and Field Roast meats, Dandies marshmallows, So Delicious ice creams, Go Max candy bars and Daiya non-dairy cheese (OMG, so good! Mellow Mushroom uses it too.)
Some people we know are better with the change than others - but I just kind of brazen through and take to push back. It helps that we're committed on so many levels - animals, health, environment, etc. It makes it easier. When we go to stay at people's houses we bring stuff and cook a lot. So that helps. It will actually be surprising how disconnected people are from their food. You'll find yourself explaining that, yes, dairy milk and cheese, as well as eggs actually ARE from animals too! We ask lot of questions in restaurants, especially about things like bread but it's usually not a big deal and we eat out a lot.
It's a journey but it's a fun one. You'll be amazed how much you learn and how peaceful you feel. It was a benefit I never expected. And do check out Colleen Patrick Godreau's Podcast on iTunes - Food for Thought. It was one of the first things we listened too that helped us a lot.


Yay for new vegans!!!



Tuesday, November 20, 2012

5 Years of Thanks

This year is going to be our 5th year having a vegan Thanksgiving.  And I'm thankful for that every single day!



Turkeys are such wonderful, sweet, compassionate animals.  It's so horrible to think of the abuses they go through - not only through genetic manipulation but how they are forced to live, that they are killed early and the actual gross physical abuse they are subjected to at the facilities.




I'm so glad we have our beautiful boy Jake with us.  He is a great reason to be thankful too!




Each year about 45 MILLION turkeys will be killed for this "holiday". That's a lot of violence on a day when we are meant to be expressing peace and gratitude.


The great thing about traditions is that they are so easy to change and/or create. Do something more than once and you have a new tradition!

We've had a compassionate, no-turkeys-or-other-animals-killed meal for going on 5 years now. Our

 meal includes: stuffing, root veggie mash or mashed potatoes (or both!), asparagus, Brussels sprouts, salad, pumpkin-herb rolls, gravy, fresh orange cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, apple pie and ice cream. Our "centerpiece" food have been Field Roast's Celebration Roast and their Hazelnut Cranberry Roast En Croute. This year we are going to add stuffed, maple-glazed roasted acorn squashes.

Just sub out a few ingredients and 1 item and your celebration becomes thankful, caring and compassionate. A TRUE celebration for the season.




Happy Thanksgiving!




Sunday, October 28, 2012

Autumn Goodies from Sugar Bean Bakery


























Equal to my love of shoes is my love of baking.  And what's as much fun as accessorizing is picking out all the displays I want to use and my packaging.

In the Spring I did a booth for my bakery, Sugar Bean Bakery, and this past weekend was the Fall event.  Spring was all pinks and yellows and mint green but Fall calls for a different color scheme.  So I went with orange, creme, gold, dark brown and green.  This leads to new signage, vintage tablecloths and matching cake stands.  And the flavors included cinnamon, pumpkin, walnuts and nutmeg.


I ended up making:

Pumpkin whoopie pies
Apple Oat muffins
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip muffins
Vanilla cupcakes with autumn leaves
Cinnamon coffee cakes with walnut crumble
Spice cupcakes with vanilla bean frosting
Brownies with and without nuts
Spooky chocolate cupcakes
Lollipops in orange, lemon, chocolate and butterscotch
Rock candy sticks in orange and apple

We even served hot mulled cider and lemon-thyme water.























Admittedly, I do get a bit out of control with the decor (mini-topiary price holders!) but it's such fun I can't resist.

We had a great event and nearly sold out.  All the proceeds are going to The Gentle Barn (we do a different charity each time) and I can't wait until the Spring show!

More pictures on Flicker.