Welcome! I'm so glad you're here! A few links to get you started: Food Bloggers of the World, Unite! - How I Bake - Refresh & Rethink. Then, learn a little more about me & my bakery adventures & scroll through the Recipe Index or monthly favorites above.
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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Vegan Banana Bread


Prepare yourself for a surprise. Ready?

It's cold and rainy in Seattle.

You're shocked! I knew it. Sunday was actually a lovely day, and Official Taster and I continued to explore our new home. We found a giant, amazing dog park, and, more importantly, a community garden! I am so, so, so excited by this find. They don't post applications until January, so until then, I have to content myself with gardening books from the library and dreaming up a new garden plan every day. The plots are 400 square feet! That's a lot of basil, tomatoes, sunflowers, peppers, marigolds, beets, onions, and, pumpkins. Pumpkins are one of those veggies that are hard for apartment dwellers to grow simply because of the amount of space they need. They sprawl, vine, and, like zucchini, somehow take over whatever you allow them. If you can't tell, I'm already looking forward to next year's harvest.

In the meantime, however, I'm focused on staying warm and dry. Baking is the perfect solution. This banana bread is really good. Like, really, really good. It's first incarnation was ok, but nothing special. So I bought more bananas, let them turn brown, and then tried again. This time, it's perfect. (no, really. not to toot my own horn or anything, but this smelled and tasted like what I dream banana bread to be)

Vegan Banana Bread
1 stick vegan butter
3/4 C brown sugar
3 very ripe bananas, mashed (about 2 C)
2 C flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp apple cider vinegar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and spray a 9x5 loaf pan with cooking spray.

Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the bananas. Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix to combine. Mix in vanilla. At the last moment, working quickly, add the vinegar and mix to combine. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

Bake for 45-60 minutes, until nicely browned. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out fairly clean, but because of the moisture of the bananas, it won't be completely clean like when testing cakes.

Notes:
If your bananas need a little help getting to the "very" ripe stage, once you've chopped/mashed them up a bit, stick them in the microwave for about 20 seconds.

Just before adding the vinegar, feel free to mix in nuts, chocolate chips, dried fruit, coconut, or anything else you think would be tasty.

The idea with adding the vinegar at the last second is simple. When baking soda and vinegar combine, they produce bubbles (remember the volcano you made in fourth grade?). If you add them at the same time, early in the recipe, a lot of the bubble burst into the air. However, I think, if you wait to combine until the end, more of the bubbles get trapped in the batter, thus producing a lighter loaf.

This bread might be a very welcome gift during the holiday season. Be sure to make it fresh and wrap it well. Odds are good that the grateful recipient will eat it before it gets old.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Quilts to Inspire

Circles of Life: Hibiscus Christmas by Heidi Lund
Earlier this year, I shared a link to a collection of fabric inspired cakes. Then, in July, my mom and I went to the Longbeach International Quilt Show, and I started seeing quilts as similar inspiration for cakes. This it not to say that I am making these into cakes. I'm just saying that one could make these into cakes. If one was so inspired, talented, and abounding in time.

There were billions of quilts in Longbeach. Maybe trillions. So these photos represent just a tiny, fractional percentage of what was displayed. If they don't inspire you to make a cake, maybe you'll see some detail you can incorporate into cupcakes, or your latest sewing project. Or finger painting. (if you do any of the above, or any other crafty thing, please share pics with us!) Maybe something you see here will inspire you in your gift giving this season.

I have to apologize profusely here. again. (it seems to happen a lot). I wasn't thinking ahead enough and didn't manage to get the artist information for most of these quilts, but the ones I know are getting credit. If you know something I don't, please let me know!

This peacock quilt was incredibly impressive. You can't see it unless you blow the photo up, but this quilt has lots of 3D detail, embroidery, and fancy sewing techniques. Additionally, I have alink here for you that will connect you to a collection of peacock cakes. Yes, really. And they're quite nice.

Grid Growth by Margie Davidson
This year I saw several quilts that used sun sensitive fabric (which now comes in colors other than blue!) for nice effect. This particular quilt feels very woodsy to me.

And last, but not least, is this giant that looks like stained glass to me. Definitely one of my favorites from the show.

What inspires you? Do you seek it out or just wait for it to find you?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sunday Flowers

When I visited my parents at the end of October, we spent an afternoon at Longwood Gardens. If you're ever in the Pennsylvania/Delaware area, it is most definitely worth a visit. They have beautiful grounds and a huge indoor area. Longwood is especially known for their Christmas Display, but there are lovely exhibits year round. So for today and the next few weeks, Sunday flowers are Longwood flowers. Orchids today!

I hope you had a good Thanksgiving weekend!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Round Up of Kitchen Gifts

While many people choose to wake up early, stampede into stores, and wait in line to pay for their bargains, my plan for Black Friday is always to stay inside. Avoid driving anywhere if possible, and, no matter what, avoid the mall. I like to give homemade gifts when I can and when I think they are a good match to the recipient, and usually my homemade gifts are in the form of food. It only makes sense for people like us- those who read and write about food, like cooking, and are even pretty good at it. So for our own short and sweet Black Friday, I have a round up of ideas for holiday gifts from your kitchen. Bon appetit!

First, the obvious, Short and Sweets

From Real Simple

From The Kitchn

From Craft


Paperwhites from NadiaKnows


Edible ornaments, boxes, votives, placecards, etc. from King Arthur Baking

Canned Apple Pie Filling from Skip to My Lou

Pie in a Jar (many places to find this one) here from Not Martha

Orange Marmalade from Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories


All the In A Jar Recipes you could ever want

And for a little humor, what NOT to get the cook on your list

Paperwhite photo courtesy NadiaKnows

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving Thanks

Just a short post today. I hope you're having a wonderful day celebrating with friends and family. I know there are lots of ways out there to reach out and share your bounty, love, time, or money, but here are a few links that are easy to do year round.


The Hunger Site
Just a click = a donation by advertisers



GoodSearch: You Search...We Give!
Set as your search engine to earn a penny every time you search for your nonprofit of choice. You can also earn money by shopping online thru GoodShop


Fight World Hunger Play a matching game in your choice of subject, and for every answer you get right, advertisers donate rice to feed the world's poor

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Vegan Ginger Chocolate Chip Bars

If you're looking for an alternative to pumpkin pie this Thanksgiving, I think this is a good option. Or at least a good second or third dessert to have on hand! It's simple to put together, minimally messy, and everyone who has tried it likes it. You should also add it to your list of possible edible gifts for the season (stay tuned: I have a good collection of those coming soon!)

Speaking of edible gifts, I reopened my Etsy store this week!

Vegan Ginger Chocolate Chip Bars
cooking spray
1 C (2 sticks) vegan butter
2 1/4 C all purpose flour
2-3 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 brown sugar
1 1/4 sugar
1 C silken tofu, pureed in food processor or blender
1 tsp vanilla
12 oz semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9x13 or 8x11 baking pan and line it with parchment paper, leaving some overhang.

With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugars until fluffy. Add the tofu and vanilla and beat to combine. Gradually add spices and flours, mixing until just combined. Add the chocolate chips and mix with a spoon or spatula (if you're using a hand mixer, the chips will make the batter too tough for them to handle)

Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, approx. 40-50 minutes. Allow to cool completely in the pan before cutting into bars.

Notes:
If you want a strong ginger flavor, use the larger amount in your recipe.

You can freeze the unbaked batter in the pan for up to 2 months. To bake, follow the recipe instructions and aim for the longer bake time.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Flower Arrangements

A friend passed along this link from Apartment Therapy, and the lovely arrangements captured my attention this rainy morning. The writer put these photos together as examples of bouquets that are "androgynous," i.e. not too girly. I think it's odd to categorize flowers as automatically feminine, and I really like a lot of these, particularly the one pictured above. What do you think? Guys, are all flower arrangements girly to you?

In other news, Official Taster and I are settling into Seattle. It's significantly rainier here than we are used to, and the cold was quite a shock to our Southern California acclimated selves. I got the kitchen unpacked and I will have a new treat up in the next couple of days (internet should be up and running tonight or tomorrow). My Etsy shop should also be up and running shortly! Just in time for you to start planning your holiday purchases...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

I Say Goodbye, and I Say Hello

I must (again) apologize for my long absence, but I do come bearing big news. On Saturday morning, Official Taster and I will begin the three day journey to our new home. We bid adieu to San Diego and greet Seattle with open arms. Official Taster has gotten himself a new job, and, since I seem to like him, I'm going with him.

Southern California is picture perfect, and a couple times in the past week, I've asked myself if we are crazy to be leaving Paradise for Seattle, whether or not it's rainy rap is justified. Each time, thankfully, my answer is "yes." If it wasn't, we'd have problems. I'm looking forward to a fresh start, seasons, learning to ski, and living in the same place as two of my best friends.

Since it's November, America's month to express gratitude, I wanted to tell you that I'm grateful to each of you for reading all (or some) of these posts, especially when you comment. I love having mini-conversations with you.

My Etsy shop is currently on hold, but I'm hoping to have it up and running again within 2 weeks. I will be getting a few posts up in the near future, but it's really hard to do new recipes when all my cooking supplies are in boxes or on a truck. I do have a vegan banana bread recipe almost ready. I want to make a few tweaks and try again, so that's something for you to look for. As always, I'm interested in any questions, suggestions, or comments you may have.

Finally, this photo was taken four years ago from my first apartment in San Diego. Claire Bletz deserves the photo credit, along with credit for putting up with me in all of our apartments.
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