Monday, April 30, 2012

Coconut, Cleaning, and Quilting

Today it just sheeted rain. I would be trapped in my office for long stretches because there was just no way I was going to walk in it.

With my midterm behind me, my big priorities were cleaning (especially the office area) and working more on my quilt.

For supposedly being such neat-freaks as a breed it never amazes me how put out my dobermans can get when I disrupt their lives (for example moving their dog bed) with one of my cleaning rampages.

I got much done today and now I can function better in my office.

The recipe today on Chocolate-Covered Katie was Cosmic Chocolate-Peppermint Patties. Peppermint patties/Junior Mints are not necessarily chocolates I crave much. But that didn't stop me from playing with this one.

I didn't have peppermint extract and going to the store would have been too much effort so I decided I would modify more Mounds style. In the end I added about 3 tablespoons of shredded coconut.

The downside to this experiment is that it took the more liquid center and turned it into a paste and then I had a problem. This would have done better more like the Reese's peanut butter eggs.

But I did the best I could and put some chocolate on the top. I have learned that it often takes me a couple of tries to make things more pretty because I don't think ahead when I change the recipe.

My other current favorite recipe that I can't get enough of is surprisingly Blueberry Pie Pancakes. I say surprisingly because I have literally gone years without eating pancakes and never miss them.
They come out extremely fat and as it turns out, it is kind of like eating an orange in that the occasional berry when broken into can be unpredictable. This is probably because they are fresh not frozen berries as well.

If only I would make Emile fish pancakes.
Meanwhile I FINALLY have progress on this quilt. I love how it is coming together. The squares above are what I have left. It takes 16 of those to make one block and I use 4 blocks per row. I figured out I had enough to make 3.5 blocks which is close enough that I will start digging through my stash tomorrow to come up with 8 more half triangle squares.

In the end this quilt will be 6 blocks long by 4 blocks wide.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Chewnola and New Recipes

I found my Chewnola stash today that I kept on hand for Rusty. It isn't that Nim won't enjoy them, but they were really special for Rusty. It gave something for Nim to work on and relax while I tried two new recipes.I figure it is time to interrupt the several straight weeks of quinoa variations.
One recipe was the Daily Garnish Cranberry Orange Lentil Quinoa Loaf. (Note the quinoa). I know my mom reads my blog so my apologies for this next statement but it has taken me this long to even try any form of a vegan loaf because I never liked meatloaf. Now in fairness, I don't think it had anything to do with mom's meatloaf. I think it is because I just didn't like meat (declaring myself vegetarian in high school was no real hardship for me).

For some reason I have been in the mood to try one and with some modifications, I figured this one would work.

First off, for the amount of fruit I eat, there are still places I don't think fruit belongs and I am pretty sure any type of loaf is one such place (although MANY recipes out there would disagree with me).

So my version has no cranberries and no orange juice. I still haven't purchased chia seeds so I used my standard Ener-g Egg Replacer, and I used sweet potato instead of carrot.

You will also note that my version didn't fit in a loaf pan. I have no idea why. It probably is not going to set up super loaf like, but that could be my mix or the egg replacer. Since it taste really good I don't particularly care.

A lot of recipes put some sort of tomato paste on the top. I decided to use some spaghetti sauce I had opened anyway (obviously fruit salsa was NOT happening) for this next recipe...
I have officially finally tried a recipe with polenta! My other recipe was Chocolate-Covered Katie's Vegan Polenta Casserole.

First off I realized I didn't have a clue how to make or work with polenta. It was messy, but I figured it out. I had 3 cups of boiling water and added 1 cup of polenta mixed with 1 cup of cold water which I added to the boiling. Then I just waited not really knowing what was supposed to happen. Eventually it turned into a thick porridge which honestly I could have eaten right there and that is what I poured in the pan.

My modifications to her recipe was basically yellow miso for the soy sauce (great substitute in my opinion for this recipe) and my vegetable mix was slightly different in quantity and type: bunch spinach, bunch kale, zucchini, mushroom, frozen bell pepper mix, onion, garlic, broccoli, and cauliflower.

I also left out the dill. I don't even own dill. On purpose.

I think both options will freeze well and most importantly bring some variety to my diet which I think I need (I can literally eat the same thing day after day for weeks).

It was a good cooking night. The kitchen was a huge mess and I accomplished trying new recipes with options I haven't tried before like a loaf and polenta.
Thankfully everyone was a little gentle this afternoon.

I brought Nim's food up a bit after realizing a couple of weeks ago that he was just too skinny and I think he is feeling better in general.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Sun, Books, and Coconut Products

My midterm is coming up which meant that Monday I had to bargain with myself and the super nice weather. The compromise was studying in the yard.

Nim would come by and check in for some treats.

In my continuing effort to try new things, this week I have made two coconut related purchases. I had to compromise on the Earth Balance Coconut and Peanut Spread and buy creamy because it was all that was stocked.

I am somewhat grateful that I am not drawn to inhaling it. I think honestly it might be the agave, I am not a huge fan of sweetened peanut butter (I realize the irony given the amount of baked goods I eat with peanut butter). The smell is wonderful however. While fine straight, I think it might be good for more sauces and stir fry. I did put some on cauliflower I happened to be cooking at the same time and that was a really good combination.

The Coconut Manna (coconut butter) on the other hand  is in my category of "how did I live without this?"

When I went to the store to get the coconut butter I also had farro on the list as something new to try. The farro was about 8.99 and I think the Coconut Manna was about 9.99. Something had to be sacrificed. Quinoa is cheaper than farro anyway and a complete protein.I believe I made the correct choice.

Once I tasted it, I knew I needed to do something with that coconut butter right away.

I do plan to do some baking this week, but for quick and easy, I decided to make Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge.

Since I didn't have a "very ripe" banana I tried the melted banana trick. It is a good thing that it does what it needs because that is a very bad smell.

My ingredients blended up a bit course but smoothed out well when pressed into the container. I really liked the flavor as well.
Hopefully I can block out some time for some real baking soon. I foresee putting coconut butter on a lot of different baked goods.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Maynard and Gus - Piglets!

This weekend ended up being a two-trip-to-Seattle weekend.

I had to go back out to Sidecar today to see the piglets. They were such cuties.

Little Gus is the smaller of the two piglets.

Maynard is laying more in the background with Gus towards the front.

They were super social and curious.

Nim and I walked through the UW campus and down to the waterfront/Arboretum area.

Grouchiest turtle ever. He actually looked indignant.

To Nim this is "hot" weather as we have finally gone about 60 degrees so he was willing to enter the water. Right or wrong I also let him drink it and I can hear his stomach right now so hopefully it will not be a long night.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Sidecar Baking Day - Baking and Packaging Post

Everything is packed and ready to go and I am about to brave Friday night traffic into Seattle for delivery.

Before I started baking I got all the pets settled and out of the kitchen.

The recipes:

The Coconut Breakfast Cake is made pretty true to recipe. My changes are that I only do half the sugar (1/4 cup) and I add 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut.

Baby loaves on was recommended for this bake sale to keep portions "individual" so I cut the baby loaves in half.

Half of a peanut butter bread baby loaf was sacrificed to the hungry baker cause. I am so glad I added this recipe to the group. This is definitely my type of bread and really came out well.

The peanut butter bread was a last minute addition (darn new recipe post this morning).

Having never tried it before, I went the full sugar option more like a cake bread rather than a loaf and added some mini-chocolate chunks. It was still not over-sweet at all. It turned out really well. I didn't use applesauce, instead I did the 2 more tablespoons of peanut butter option.

I seem to run about 50/50 for my scones not looking like total shapeless blobs - thankfully the stars were in alignment for me today.

Time to get these babies delivered. Maybe there will be sun in Seattle?

Sidecar Baking Day - AM Post - aka "Dark Shadows" Post

This is what was supposed to happen this morning:

  • I was supposed to wake up to dry weather and do a sunrise hike.
  • I would print some baking labels.
  • I would buy some stickers (preferably in a pig theme) to attach my labels to my treat bags.
  • And if I still had time I might do some work, some sewing and some knitting.

This is what actually happened this morning:

  • I woke up at 4am because if possible, it was raining harder than last night. For those of you who know North Bend you might be asking yourself why I live here given how much rain it gets. I ask myself this same question often.
  • I attempted to try and go back to sleep. Gave up at 6am. It was (is) still dark and pouring.
  • Tried several times to put on a favorite bracelet that has a hard clasp. Gave up. Went to Power Minis (it is a 2 Power Mini day).
  • Somehow all my quilt squares ended up on the floor and mixed up...

Nim swears he didn't do it.

To turn this morning around:
  • I have embraced my work (clearly I am getting a lot more of it done this morning than planned)
  • I put on one of my favorite shirts that I don't always get along with but today apparently I do ("Live the Life you Love, Love the Life you Live")
  • Wear my Power Minis: Rhodonite "Grace" and Blue Goldstone "Health"

Not surprisingly I couldn't photograph the darn Power Minis on me which left Nim. Note that Nim has now gone to his happy place.

It is such a dark morning, how about some "Dark Shadows" related news?

You might remember I was attempting to watch the series before the movie release. I never got through season one (perhaps the later seasons would be less plagued with extensive and dramatic dialogue? - This is probably why I don't watch soaps).

I did manage to "lose" (throw out) the library's 3rd disc of season one resulting in a $60 fine because I had to buy the entire box set. And guess what, when you pay a fine on a series that you have only lost part of you then own what is left of it so now I can finish season one whenever I want. The librarian solemnly handed me my box set and then recounted the only episode he remembers: it was scary and he hid behind the couch.

In the news today I read that Jonathan Frid, "Barnabas Collins" has died. He has an appearance in the remake coming out in May which I think is pretty neat and I am looking forward to.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

No Dessert Baking Day

The elk are all over my yard right now. They are blowing out their winter fur and they move so fast if they sense me it is hard to get good photos. Fortunately one of my plants was worth stopping to eat...
The photo doesn't quite capture it, but their pelts are pretty funny right now. They all look a little haggard.

Meanwhile, I vowed to not "make" a dessert today in anticipation of tomorrow's baking plans. However, I did want to cook all the same.

The first recipe was Chocolate-Covered Katie's Blueberry Ketchup! Yes, I did it. Check out the big thing of blueberries from Costco.

How strange is it to see garlic on blueberries?! I stayed true to recipe. I did a half batch and used brown sugar.

It reminds me a lot of plum sauce! I loved the vinegar flavor of it and I REALLY loved the smell while it was simmering.

At the same time I sort of did her Protein French Fries, only I added veggies as well. My modification to the marinade was to only do a splash of soy sauce. I have rotten luck with soy sauce and tofu bakes but I think this is because I cut so much sodium from my diet that I am sensitive to things being too salty. I also added onion powder.

In my excitement I forgot to oil the foil. Sigh. I wanted to use coconut oil so bad.

The really unexpected surprise was that the veggies soaked up the marinade really well. Really nice garlic-vinegar flavor and the tofu was wonderful. Even if I had to peel it off the foil.

The annoying disappointment was that I didn't make enough and they of course baked WAY down.

Look at that...on a Grammy Mary plate. :)

Other dinner projects...

I also made the Vegan Mushroom Cream Sauce from the Daily Garnish which could be eaten by the spoonful as a soup in my opinion. My only change to her version was coconut milk in place of the non-dairy creamer. I suspect this is why it didn't thicken as much which didn't matter to me in the least.

I put it over my kale-zucchini-quinoa masterpiece. :) If you are curious this involves one onion, about 4 cloves of garlic, an entire zucchini, a full bunch of kale, and finally the juice of an entire lemon (or more depending on my mood). It is my favorite way to eat quinoa right now.