Saturday, December 30, 2006

Oriental Buffet and Cranberries

Snowball says, "HAPPY NEW YEAR!"
She has been enjoying laying in every possible position around our home to attract my attention. Whenever I look at her it is as if she is trying to say, "Wow - me and this food are a perfect match!" or "If you think you need this box, you'll have to pet me to get to it." I have picked up ribbon several times that she has stretched across the floor. Unfortunately, I have previously picked up a few broken ornaments, she has yet to understand that the shiny glass ones break.

SATURDAY NIGHT my sister came back from New York. We had an oriental meal at my house for "Christmas" since she had to be away working when the rest of the world was celebrating otherwise. I indulged myself in the kitchen (which I really did enjoy) to make the following feast. It was supposed to be a potluck, but only candy or snacky type foods were offered. Even though my family is the only animal free people there, no one else seemed to care that meat was not the main course or any part of it for that matter. No one complained. The salad rolls and miso soup brought the most compliments! We truly had a vegan buffet ...

Here's what I served ...
My camera lens got steamed on, so it's a little blurry. Oriental Pasta Salad, vegan coconut macaroons with a dollop of chocolate frosting and an almond slice sticking out of it, dates, burnt french peanuts, vegetarian sushi rolls sprinkled with sesame seeds (click the link to an awesome veg sushi demo), homemade "sushi" pickles (from this summer's cucumber harvest), a crock full of miso soup (click on the link for the recipe, scroll to the end of the post), a bowl of sliced oranges (not pictured), ginger soda (occasionally this is nice for a treat), tamari sauce, rice vinegar and seasoned rice vinegar ....

Thai basil salad rolls and peanut dipping sauce with extra salad because I noticed this meal was lacking in veggies (unusual for an oriental meal usually full of stir fries). I have made these before using mangoes (link above). This time I used pear and sprinkled on 1/2 tsp dried basil since I had no fresh.

To the right is a close up of the macaroons. I got the idea from Fiber at 28 cooks, but exchanged the condensed sweet milk and egg whites for 4 ounces lite mori-nu silken tofu, 1/4 tsp KAL stevia extract powder, and 1/2 Tbsp Energ-g egg replacer with 1/4 cup water.

The noodle salad is one of my favorites. This one is made with multi-grain spiral noodles. I had a class make this recipe not long ago, click the link if you would like to see the picture of it.... it was with rye noodles which made the salad a little darker in color. I like the "lighter-ness" of the multi-grained noodles. This recipe is in Bryanna Fiber for life cookbook. It is also alot like the recipe for BRYANNA’S ASPARAGUS-NOODLE SALAD WITH SESAME scroll down for original recipe that is listed on her free archives. Here is the dressing recipe that I put on a 16 oz box of noodles, 1 lb broccoli (steamed) with 1 cup purple onion, 1/2 C red pepper diced, and 12 oz firm regular tofu marinaded and baked for flavor after being cut into small wedges:


7 T. soy sauce

1/4 c. toasted sesame oil

3 and 1/2 T. dark unbleached sugar

3 T. balsamic vinegar

3 T. water

1 T. grated fresh ginger

2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. chili garlic paste

1-2 cloves garlic, crushed

After making the brown rice sushi rolls I turned the leftover ingredients into a salad and added some currants. Here is a combination of the sushi pickles, leftover pickle juice (alot like seasoned rice vinegar), carrots, red pepper, pear diced, salt and pepper to taste along with a few seaweed pieces (the broken pieces of the sushi rolls I made). I don't have a previous link about these pickles, but I did find my canned onion curry relish which would also make a good rice salad flavoring too, check it out if you like.

I actually have to confess on the brown rice, it came from a jar. When I operate the 23 quart pressure canner to can a batch of stuff I like to make sure I have a maximum # of jars in there since it takes more than two hours. To fill up jars I can pints of brown rice, it turns out sticky and unappealing to serve alone, but when broken up it can make a base for other ingredients and that is what I did with this salad. It was a nice "change of pace" kind of meal.

The "sushi pickles" (pictured above) a pickle that uses cucumbers, onions, carrots, and slices of fresh ginger root. They are nice to eat alone or to include along side of homemade dished like this. The recipe came from SUMMER IN A JAR by Andrea Chesman. I love the variety and the fact that the recipes are written to prepare the canned goods by the quart or pint. They really do remind me of the little pick ginger slices at a sushi bar.

I did some canning. Cranberries are around in abundance right now for a little while longer - I bought 12 bags not long ago. I froze some whole for smoothies, this chutney recipe and jellies can also be made with the frozen berries. Although my tradition is cranberry relish for which I make, freeze, and thaw already prepared the chutney is a recipe that I have been meaning to try for some time and finally got around to it this year. Other than tasting some that would not fit into a jar (despite the little bit of cayenne pepper, it is not spicy at all), I cannot say that this has rated at the tradition level yet, but I will be looking into ways to use it soon. I made 12 pints, gave 7 and have 5 pints left... suggestions welcome.

I originally photocopied this recipe from a book I checked out from the library called HOMEMADE, sorry but that is all I wrote about it. I changed the recipe to make it sugar free (stevia sweet) and added the lemon juice to offset the stevia flavor.
Chop in the following in a food processor to the size a little larger than rice:
1 large green apple
6 cups cranberries (fresh or frozen)
1 C red onion
1/2 C celery
1 1 /2 Tbsp minced garlic
..... (recipe said 2 1/2 cups light brown sugar) .......
I used 2 tsp KAL stevia extract powder and 1 cup applesauce with 2 Tbsp lemon juice
3/4 cup dry red wine
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Combine in a medium sauce pan, bring to a boil over medium heat, turn heat down and simmer for 30 minutes or until mixture is thick and flavors are blended. Remove from heat and pack into sterilized jars and process for 15 minutes.

Check out this interesting site!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

I am a thief (second attempt with pictures) .....

I'll try this again and hopes that blogger doesn't "thief" my pictures. In order to do this I deleted the last blog page which also deleted comments. If you left a comment there I did see it, but it is gone now.
Hi! Christmas has been and I am glad. It is worth the fuss.
I have a confession to make. This Christmas I received numerous gifts including the three cookbooks you see me pictured here with (I dig my Christmas moose overalls). No, I did not steal the cookbooks - they were gifts, but I did borrow the following ideas and have no intentions of returning them...

#1 Gaia's Chickpea Roll
I first thought it would be a bit fishy. It had a mild sea vegetableflavor and although I haven't cared for this before... it was very mild and I enjoyed this recipe.

Loved the crispy outside and filling innards. I served this with a wonderful vegetable filled tomatoey stew called Manhattan chowder from Bryanna's 20 minutes to dinner cookbook (p. 63).

#2 Martha Stewarts Graham Cracker houses
Melissa's awesome church (took 7 hours) and Matthew's colorful double wide trailer (took 1 hour 15 minutes). Sunspire "m&m's" make a pretty decoration that got picked off and eaten. The Christmas tree's surrounding the cathedral (deformed gumdrops painted with a permanent marker and held together with a cinnamon stick) could not be eaten.

Sorry Martha this one was fun and we're keeping it.

#3 Dreena's Carob Chip Muffins (vlv p 34)
These are made from 100% barley flour. I was absolutely amazed!!! When I first read the recipe I really thought that "moist texture" meant gummy aka unpleasant. I made them as the recipe stated, which the family really liked. But then, I must play .... I made a few changes. I omitted the sugar and syrup and all but one tablespoon of the oil, I added 3/4 tsp KAL stevia extract powder, 1/2 cup unsweet applesauce, and 1/3 cup mini bittersweet vegan chips with 1/3 cup craisins in place of the omissions. WOW! They made an awesome muffin! The "moist texture" only refers to the fact that they are not dry and falling apart ... not the gummy, squishy or otherwise "tender" I have come to find most alternative bakers describe as "moist". This one was a real treat. In place of the chips and craisins I am going to try them with about 1 cup of my favorite raw cranberry relish (in place of applesauce and the extra for flavor) next time.

Okay I confessed and now that this is out of the way
I will go on to share with you some of my gifts...

I have desired to try some wine for several years now and have wanted to visit a "homegrown" style winery for along time. I finally got the chance to and Dave bought me two bottles... although I had several to choose from I picked out the Crimson Cranberry and Red Raspberry flavors. The sales gal told me to try the red raspberry in hot cocoa - I will. Would love some other suggestion for how to use these, other than dry wines for cooking I have never been much of a drinker. I do know that these wines are very sweet.

I'm going to save these to open on Saturday night when my sis comes home from New York again. She along with my aunt and uncle, a couple of cousins, mom and niece will be having an oriental style buffet at my house. I look forward to sharing the food we make for this soon. I also got a nice gift certificate to ... I'll be checking other blogs to find out what cookbooks others are enjoying this year before I decide.

Also in the picture I got a tin of Zhena's GYPSY LOVE tea, Mr Artsey key chain, two vegan dark chocolate candy bars, a stone nativity candle holder, a CD called HUGS for the holiday that plays nice instrumental music, and a sterling silver cross necklace. The tea is tasty and the music is relaxing.

This is Matthew... remember him? :)

He has been into the renaissance time period and desired a walking stick for his costume. Dave cut one out of oak, I wood burned Matt's name and his favorite bible verse on it, stained it and decorated it for a gift for Mathew. He thinks it is pretty neat.

Now he will go back to the fare in style, although he still hopes to get those ridiculously priced boots ... not this gift time.

And a recipe to share from my breakfast table to yours (restitution of a sort... for my food crimes above ;o) ...

I like to use my oatmeal bread dough for this recipe. It gives a more tender roll and combines a little soy flour and flax meal to offer more nutrition. My bread dough recipe follows:

Dori's Oatmeal Bread (makes 2 loaves)

I triple this recipe when I make it in my BOSCH Universal kitchen appliance.

2 cups hot tap water
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup maple syrup OR 1/3 cup unrefined sugar
3/4 cup quick oatmeal
3/4 cup freshly milled whole white wheat flour
2 Tbsp SAF instant yeast

Step 1: Mix all in mixer bowl until blended, cover and rest for 15 minutes to proof yeast.

Step 2: Add remaining ingredients while mixing on speed 2 (I have a Bosch compact that has 4 speeds which I use when I make a small batch like this. It is similar to a kitchen aid, but I have never used a kitchen aid).
2 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup soy flour
1/2 tsp ground dried ginger
3 Tbsp flax meal
1 1 /2 C great river milling bread flour (partially refined to remove some bran, but germ is intact)
1 1/2 cup more freshly milled white whole wheat flour

Cover and allow to knead 8 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Divide dough in half. Shape into loaf. Roll into extra oatmeal to coat loaf all over. Place into oiled 8 x 4" bread pan. Rise 20 minutes while covered with an oiled plastic wrap to avoid drying out. When doubled in size place in oven and spray oven sides and bottom with water from a water bottle to create a steam. Bake @ 350 (I have a convection oven, so you may need to bake in a non-convection oven for 30 minutes) for 25 minutes. Remove from pan and place loaves on a wire rack to cool.

To make the rolls, I section the dough into portions.
For maple nut I combine 1/3 cup unrefined sugar with 1/8 tsp maple syrup and 1/4 cup coarsely chopped English walnuts. Roll the bread dough into a rectangle onto a Crisco greased counter with a little crisco'd hands. Spread the sugar mix, roll up and cut into 6 pieces. Lay these into a greased 9" round cake pan. Allow to rise 2o minutes, bake for 20 minutes (I use a convection oven lined with stones on the top and bottom rack). Remove from pan onto a cheap paper plate and cool on a rack.

To frost: Combine 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 - 2 drops maple favoring and a little water to make a nice frosting drizzle (not to much, it is better to add more water after creating a to dry "drizzle", but you can always add more sugar if needed to get the consistency right.

For cinnamon: 1/3 cup unrefined sugar with 1/2 tsp high quality cinnamon

Last picture is of Melissa's ornament cookie. We created the red sugar by adding drops of red food coloring to regular sugar granules and stirring it until we got the desired color.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Goodie bags

We are quickly approaching the upcoming holiday . . .
Goodie bags for our friends and neighbors, and some family members are a traditional gift from our home. This weekend we finally got them out. I was a little concerned that we would be pressed for time and missed working with the kids to assemble these bags, but I believe this is typical of a family entering the "launching" stage with two teenage children. Our goodie bags are actually brown paper lunch sacks decorated with ribbons to hold various goodies (decorated sacks not pictured), I find a basic bag like this very versatile and potentially festive. Although the gift bags vary in content quantity, the largest bags for a select few included: Bags of 8 mixed variety cookies, chocolate covered plastic spoons to stir hot cocoa with, baggies of hot cocoa, chex mix "puppy chow", (vegan) fudge, banana bread w/ chocolate chips (pictured previously during baking extra #1), chocolate dipped pretzel rods sprinkled with broken candy, and pumpkin granola bars.

Previously as a stay at home mom / home school teacher I had both kids and myself in the kitchen for a couple of days to make goodie bags that we would share with many. I greatly dislike holiday traditions in which kids make long "want lists" and it is all about them with no thought for someone else .... when they have no clue the holidays are about being a blessing to someone else. Our gifts and talent are not given to us to keep all to our self, they are meant to be shared and then they can accomplish the purpose for which they are intended - a satisfying and more peaceful life for all of us. I have tried to teach my kids that one must contribute something to anyplace they go, especially at Christmas time. These contributions can take many forms and is similar to looking for the positive in others, even though some people require that you really search for it.
Link#1 - ornaments, scrap book pages, sweet treat packages, etc
Link#2 - More than baked goods, long list of ideas

In our early home school years (when they were younger) on Christmas Day I would give both children a choice of something to contribute to our little family celebration meal. One year Melissa made homemade peanut brittle in the microwave (it turned out awesome) and Matthew made cookie bars (very dry, but he was sure impressed with them). Other years they made meal dishes, Matthew's favorite is corn casserole and Melissa has favored decorating the room and table to make the day extra special. On Christmas day we like to have a special brunch, Dave tells the Christmas story, we eat, and then officially receive gifts. I say receive because for the past three years each of us set a dollar amount and pick out our own gifts. The gifts are set under the tree and greatly anticipated until we finally receive them. We have really come to value the time that we shop together to pick out the gifts, even though the past two years I had to order their gifts from specialty catalogs. Shopping has been primarily for togetherness fun. I dislike holidays in which people I haven't spent much time with must figure out what to buy me or I them. I prefer to shop or do something together so I can can get to know them better.... this is a much nicer and more meaningful gift. I know that my kids would not be able to tell you all that they received as gifts three years ago, but they would be able to tell you what we did together and who did/ said something funny or sad, etc.

Over the past few years this is the order we tend to do things ... always make a big batch of hot cocoa and stock up on herbal teas around December 6th about the time we put up the tree and begin decorating. I say begin because we usually keep adding decor over the following weeks. This has allowed us to be prepared for snows and sledding.... they are getting older now and have more responsibilities so there is less snow play time (and oddly enough we have had no snow this year yet), but coming in for a nice warm cup of hot cocoa when it is cold is still a favorite. The first favorite sweet is chocolate coated pretzel sticks and biscotti (my favorite) and next favorite is the puppy chow mix... for some reason this is one that DH and the kids feel should be on hand at all times during the month of December.

One of my favorite home school memories is when it snowed. This was ALWAYS a time to delay all school plans and go sledding, my kids were the first to get to the best sledding hill or to make a snowman that was the first to say, "Welcome Winter" to all the kids walking home from school ready to have snow fun too. Hot cocoa was the best to warm up with.

Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix
2 & 1/2 cups soy milk powder (Better Than Milk Vanilla is excellent)
3/4 cup natural sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Dash of salt
In a large mixing bowl combine all ingredients.
Blend well.
Store in airtight container.
Makes about 15 servings.

Single Serving:
Combine 1/4 cup mix and 3/4 cup boiling water in a cup. Stir to blend.
If you like a chocolate mint flavor, stir with a candy cane... my favorite to to stir with a chocolate mint candy cane.

Here's a link to some homemade gift ideas ...

DH comes form a large family intermixed with step siblings. At one time the girl friend of a step child of a step sibling (sorry for the complexity) worked at Starbucks. A few of us were commenting that we would love the recipe for the gingerbread late from her workplace. Well, she sent it to us.... last I knew she was no longer employed there and I don;t think it had anything to do with leaking secret recipes.

Gingerbread Latte for two

3 cups of (soy) milk
3 Tbsp. Of Starbucks® Gingerbread syrup
Two shots of Starbucks Espresso® Pods
Pinch of Ground Nutmeg
Steam milk with Starbucks Barista Athena™. Place Starbucks Gingerbread Syrup in preheated coffee mug. Brew single shot of espresso, using pre-measured Starbucks Espresso Pod, and pour immediately. Top with steamed milk and foam. Garnish foam with a light dusting of nutmeg, crushed gingerbread cookies, or a light touch of cinnamon sugar. Settle back and enjoy this delightful holiday treat!

Here is a recipe from my recipe files for homemade
"Gingerbread" Syrup
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1Tbs shredded fresh ginger
1" piece cinnamon stick
Put all ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to boil. Turn to simmer. Simmer for 10 - 15 minutes, until sugar is dissolved, and mixture is syrupy. Cool. Strain. Store in jar in fridge. Will thicken when cooled.
If you don't have an espresso machine,
just stir Gingerbread Syrup into hot coffee (to taste).
Top with whipped topping and a sprinkling of nutmeg or cinnamon-sugar

Pumpkin Granola Bars
The pumpkin puree in this recipe makes these tasty granola bars nutritious.
Wet Ingredients:
Blend until thickened and smooth. (I use the large magic blender cup)
3/4 c. pumpkin puree
1.5 teaspoon Ener-g egg replacer
1/4 cup water
1/4 c. margarine at room temperature (or sub 3 Tbsp olive oil)
1/3 C sorghum molasses OR substitute with the following syrup combination
(sub) 1/4 cup rice syrup or corn syrup with 2 T. black strap molasses

Dry Ingredients:
2 c. rolled oats
1/3 c. chopped pumpkin seeds
1/4 C currants or chopped raisins
2 T. shredded, unsweetened coconut
1/4 c. wheat germ
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1 T. grated orange rind
Blend the wet ingredients. Combine the dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl ( in the oats, seeds and dried fruit, coconut, wheat germ, cinnamon, and orange rind. Add the wet blend and mix well. Spread this mixture into a lightly greased 15 1/2-by-10 1/2-inch jelly-roll pan. Bake in a 325 degree F oven for 40 minutes or until golden brown. While still warm, cut into 3-by-1 1/2-inch bars. For very crisp bars, remove from pan to wire rack and cool completely. Cut in typical "granola" bar shapes. Wrap in parchment paper and store in refrigerator for a week or two and the freezer for longer term storage. Yield: about 30 bars.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

soup, soup and weird biscotti

We have colds here, drats. It is nice to say I eat a healthy diet and I hardly ever get colds - not today! I think that in our previous homeschooling lifestyle the kids and I didn't have to be in closed places with bacteria and viruses so we rarely ever got sick (except Dave who would occasionally bring a bug home from work). This week I met with several other student teachers who also had colds, but then I have heard from long time teachers who have said they think they must have built up a resistance and rarely catch anything going around. I hope to get to that stage soon, until then I will have germ-x at my desk.

Great news for me, but bittersweet for bakehouse customers. I completed my student teaching experience officially on Wednesday! (YEAH ME!) So now I am home for a few weeks and I plan on restocking my canned soup supply because I am nearly out and opening up a jar of MY soup for lunch or a fast meal was way to easy! On Thursday I was offered a full-time contract at my school to begin January 2 .... I was very pleased with the deal and accepted. I intend to continue to be a vegan food and family blogger, but bakehouse work will be at a standstill until maybe summertime when I am on summer break and pull out the garden equipment and prepare for the farmer's market.

I thought I'd do something savory today because we have been eating goods other than cookies, sweet breads, and the other fattening stuff - these are two of Dreena's soups. One is made with wild rice and mushrooms and the other is called soulful chili. I loved the wildness of the soup and will definitely make this again, Dreena said that one pan makes alot so there will be some to store... not at our house. The chili made more. I often purchase mushrooms in a gallon can ..... no, they are not as good as fresh but worked for a wonderfully satisfying meal. A gallon can equals ALOT so some of the mushrooms get made into into burgers, pizza toppings, other soups, and stir fries.

The soulful chili was pretty, but a tad tart for my mexi chili sin carne standard. The chili I usually make calls for a little cocoa powder for a rich, dark bowl of tomatoey, beany and TVP crumble goodness. I also tried VwaV Roasted garlic and white bean stew. DH and I loved this. Although I cook alot I have never roasted garlic before, however I will surely roast it again someday! I took leftovers for lunch with me the next day and carried a little breath mint.

Saturday we went shopping together as a family. Dave has been working towards getting his CDL license because he wants to help our neighbor and owner of a auto repair and towing service with getting broke down and stranded travelers in his spare time. He got his permit so he can now ride along. He is excited like a boy with great big toys to play with.

Anyway we stopped by one of my favorite food coops. They had a vegan miso soup for sale. I enjoyed the simpleness of it. I made some based off of a recipe from the cookbook Lighten Up! with Louise Hagler: Tastey, low-fat, low-calorie vegetarian cuisine. It is vegan though. I enjoyed this tastey soup!

Here's my recipe of MISO SOUP:
1 onion, sliced thin
1 tsp olive oil (to saute the onions in until softened).
Then add:
6 cups of water
3/4 cup red miso
2 carrots sliced thin
1/3 cup chopped dry parsley
1/2 pound of firm regular tofu cut into 1/2 inch cubes
Cook over high heat until liquid comes to a boil, turn down heat and simmer until carrots are soft. Enjoy!

THEN . . .

For fun and uniqueness I wanted to try a different biscotti recipe. Bryanna posted a "breakfast" biscotti recipe some time ago that called for a little tofu, tahini, nuts, dried chopped fruit and whole wheat pastry flour. I thought the recipe looked good, but a tad rich for my personal preference (although I often make rich since I have a family members who needs the extra calories). I am the kind of person who likes to eat big so I often attempt low cal foods that allows me the feeling of fullness. I totally took the recipe out of context and did my own thing. The result I will present to you here.

Dori's weird, but satisfying (to her)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place parchment paper on oven sheet lightly coat with oil spray.

Dry Mix:
Combine in a medium mixing bowl.
2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 tsp KAL stevia extract powder
a1/2 cup quick oats
3/4 C raisins
1/3 C unsweet carob chips
1/4 C ground flax seed
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Wet Mix:
I blended this in my largest magic bullet cup and it all fit.
1 - 12.3 oz mori-nu firm light silken tofu
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
4 tsp ener-g egg replacer powder
1/2 c applesauce

Add wet mix into dry and combine until all dry is mixed. It is a thick batter, almost feels kneadable but I just kept working the dry into the wet. With water wet hands shape the dough into a rectangular loaf about 1" thick. Bake for 25 -30 minutes. Remove the pan and reduce oven to 300 degrees. Keep the loaf on the parchment paper, but remove both to a wire cooling rack to cool for 20 minutes. Cut the loaf into 12 slices (about 3/4 - 1" wide), this cut easily with a 8" serrated bread knife. Place the slices on a cookie sheet (see picture above) and bake 20 minutes, turn the biscotti over and bake 20 minutes more. Cool on a wire rack. These taste better when fully cool. The bitterness of the unsweet carob chips combined with the raisins was a real treat for me. Although it didn't have the same crispy/crumbly or hardness as some biscotti I have tried I really enjoyed this. I had them ALL eaten in two days (by myself thank you very much). I don't think that Dave and the kids would have liked these very much because of the bittersweetness of the unsweet carob chips, but I didn't give them a chance to let me know if they did or not.

Calorie wise, eating six of these cookies in a day amounts to 400 calories of whole wheat pastry and 1/4 C quick oats flour combined with 70 calories of lite silken tofu and 1/4 C applesauce. They were VERY filling.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Baking Extravaganza #2

I finished the baking order today, delivered it, and deposited the money into the bank. You have witnessed an order consisting of 390 cookies, 130 muffins, and 130 fruity italian sweet breads panetones NOT pantalonnes ... this is the reason I was baking so much... although we have a few leftovers I actually haven't started baking for our family favorite foods yet. The food is for a survival pack students at a nearby college get to receive for finals week if their parents opt to pay for it.

This blog entry will be about the cookies. I use stackable cooling racks. I have 24 of these. I filled this order in my home, but if I was taking orders for Christmas baked goods like I have in years past I would have used my commercial oven at the bakehouse... right now I didn't have enough to make it worth it besides my convertion oven in our home kitchen does an okay job if I turn pans around halfway through baking times.

Here is a picture of VWAV ginger cookies. These are wonderfully spicy and I agree with Isa's comment in the book, they really are better the next day! I made the first batch of cookies much smaller than the recipe yeild and also noticed that they were considerable smaller than the other cookies in the order (I ended up with 96 cookies when the recipe yield said 62), so I started again. Darn, now I have 96 wonderful spicy and very pretty 2 1/2" diameter cookies. What's girl to to? Oops! Now I have 95, mmmm that was good. I will be taking a container of these cookies into the school to share on Friday (tommorrow) as a thanks for the staff for making my time there a good one.

I also made the pumpkin oatmeal using cranberries instead of raisin, which were Melissa's favorites. I only had 6 leftover pumpkin cookies which the family usually taste tests while they are still warm from the oven. This particular day there was such variety that there were a couple of cookies of each leftover the next day. The pumpkin ones get better also. I had a picture of these, but somehow I accidentally deleted it. They are a pretty golden orange color with very noticable red craisins showing through.

I thought DH would love the maple cookies best. Pictured left are the ones from Vive Le Vegan. They are a large cakey style cookie that I didn't think ended up very sweet, he liked them better frosted. I didn't add nuts into the dough, just one large one on the top. I noticed VWAV has a maple cookie recipe also, maybe I would like to try that one soon to compare. Maybe next week. The peanut better cookies a few pages away from this recipe had the same kind of cakey style results, so I chocolate drizzled them and he said, "Mmm, like a reeces candy!"

I purchased plastic 1/2 sheet cake boxes from a local grocery store to put the cookies in. I had seven different kinds for the students to choose from, the picture shows two of the boxes. Each student would get to pick a choice of three cookies each, I provided 4 x 14 inch baggies for them to carry the cookies away in. Notice the label on the box, I used a mini clip of the cookbooks from which I took the recipes from. I had to give them a list of ingredients, but not the recipe... they can get that for themself now if they buy the book. No middle man sales percentage needed authors, just keep the great recipes coming :)

Next up is the Italian panetones NOT pantalonnes (fruited sweet bread). I used one of Bryanna's recipe for a valentine danish roll to adapt for the dough (mt adaption recipe and instructions below). I added 2/3 cup dried fruit (chopped apricots, raisins, and craisins) that had been soaked in a little (about 1/4 C) boiling water after the dough was finished kneading. Baked at 350 degrees for 15 minutes minutes, or until browned to a desireable color.

1 c. rich soymilk (such as Vitasoy)
1/4 c. Earth Balance
1/4 c. light granulated unbleached or white beet sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 packet (2 and 1/2 tsp. dry active baking yeast (NOT instant)
1/4 c. warm water
3 c. unbleached flour (NOT pastry flour)
1/2 tsp. pure almond extract
1 tsp. grated organic lemon zest
In a small saucepan (or in a bowl in the microwave), scald the soymilk (heat to just before boiling). Remove from heat. Add the Earth Balance, sugar and salt. Stir until butter melts and let cool to just warm.
Here is the bread dough rising on baking sheet sprinkled with semolina flour. I can bake three pans at once in my home convection oven, si i size the bread recipe to ensure that I get only as much as I can bake up at one time. At the bakehouse in the commercial convection oven this is rarely a problem I have four large racks that can each hold as much as my one household oven holds.

When the soymilk is just warm dissolve the yeast in the warm water. When it is soft, add it to the milk mixture in a medium bowl, or bowl of an electric mixer with a dough hook, along with the almond extract and lemon zest. Stir in 1 and 1/2 c. of the flour and beat well. Gradually add 1 more cup flour to make a soft dough. Turn out on a board and knead 5 minutes, adding some of the 1/2 c. flour, as necessary. The dough should be soft and velvety smooth, knead in the fruit (make sure it does not have excess water).

IF YOU WANT TO MAKE THE DOUGH IN A FOOD PROCESSOR, add 2 and 1/2 c. flour to the bowl, then, with the motor running, pour in the liquid ingredients. Process until it comes to a ball on the blade, adding a little more flour if necessary—but don’t make too dry, and process 30 seconds.

Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes. Or, if you want to prepare it the night before to bake in the morning, brush with oil, cover with plastic warp, or place inside of a large new plastic bag and seal. Leaving room to rise, and refrigerate overnight.

Have your oven preheated to 350 degrees F when ready to bake. I cut this recipe into 8 small round loaves. It could be shaped or braided in various ways. The cooking time would be considerably longer with larger amounts of dough. Bake the mini loaves about 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Larger loaves 25 - 35 minutes. Cool on a rack and do not bag until completly warm.

Here they are in a box, bagged and labeled.

Midwest Vegan asked me in the last post how long baking this order took me. Lets just say that there are psychological perks of what I do. I once calulated how much I made per hour for selling goods at a farmers market. At that time I was making about $300 weekly... I made less than minimum wage for the time I put in. It did afford me the freedom of being at home when I needed to be and allowed me to provide my children a real world homeschool education. This business started as a homeschool project and was one of the best "curriculums" I ever invested in. Yes, we showed a profit on the books but we did not make hourly wages. Now that my children are of an age they make money in other ways (despite the fact that I miss them very much and desire for them to come home and bake with their mama again), I am preparing to go back into work away from home and maintain our "hobby" business for summer work for the next few years. Two kids in college and a retirement plan needing a little more cash investments are good reasons to make my hours more prosperous.

Sometime next week I will begin making a few things for out personal family and friend / neighbor gifts. I have a large order of cinnamon and maple nut rolls to bake next week also, I use an oatmeal dough with these and I'll share my recipe next week. This weekend I am taking a break away from my oven, going to a movie with DH Friday night, doing the shopping thing on Saturday. I will be complete my student teaching experience on Wednesday. I am looking at three job opportunities right now. I am unsure as to which I most interested in, for now I am going to enjoy the weekend and think more about work another day.

The last picture here is of one night's baking, prior to the cookies going into the freezer to store until delivery day.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Baking Extravaganza #1

Yay! Blogger pictures are back. :)

Hi world, I am Lucy and the new one at the home of the bakehouse people. Dori is busy baking and I decided to tell you all she is up to so I can earn more goodies .... I love to eat the goodies, she makes sure I get no chocolate though.

For this order, the first items baked were Dreena's carrot pineapple "tops", only ours were made in muffin cups. They are tastey, not to sweet. For a festive occasion we may try to drizzle them with a yummy frosting. The other muffins pictured are VWAV apple pie- crumble top muffins. I discovered that there may be a mistake with the quantity of oil listed in the crumble top recipe... it says 3 Tbsp, when I used this amount the crumble top mix was soupy. I reduced it to 3 tsp and it made great crumble top.

Next I made Bryanna's Tender Banana bread with carob chips, 8 small loaves, a few mini muffins and a large loaf bread. Sitting beside these are VWAV best ever pumpkin muffins. I sprinkled them with leftover crumble top and they look pretty as a picture, I like the heavy spice flavoring.

Then with oranges I tried Bryanna's vegan Coconut Orange Muffins. These might be in the Fiber for Life cookbook. Beside these are a orange poppy seed muffins that has been stuck in my recipe box some time ago. They are fat free, to make up for a lack of visual appeal I decided to drizzle these with an almond flavored powdered sugar frosting.

Muffins made:
Vegan with a Vengeance - Best Ever Pumpkin Muffins, Apple Pie - Crumble Cake

Bryanna Clark Grogan: Fiber for Life Cookbook -
Orange Coconut Muffins, Fat Free Orange Poppy Seed Muffins - free recipes archives, Tender fat free banana bread - Almost No Fat Cookbook

Dreena: Vive Le Vegan - Carrot Raisin Muffin Tops

I was very impressed with the pumpkin muffins and the orange coconut muffins.

Hey now looks what's coming out of the oven...

I made the following so far:
Dreena Everyday Vegan: Carob Coconut Pecan Cookies, Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Dreen Vive Le Vegan: Peanut Better Cookies, Double Chocolate Almond Explosion Cookies, Maple Nut Cookies

Vegan with a Vengeance: Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

This picture is of the carob coconut pecan cookies in small medium and large size. That also means 1 tablespoonful, 2 tablespoonful, and three tablespoonful dough sizes. At first I didn't care for the crispy little cookies I was getting, but then I realized that I have a recipe yield difference. I made the cookie recipe five times bigger so it took me a bit to figure out how big the ideal recipe cookie was supposed to be. I discovered with most of the vive le vegan cookie a large spoonful measures to approximately the size of a 3 Tablespoon scoop, however the oatmeal raisin really does require a Tablespoon full. I have 7 gigantic ones that are tastey, and chewy, but they took longer to bake ... my family loves these mistakes. My five times larger recipe of these cookies yielded 105 cookies, Dreena's recipe yield would have calcuated to 110... I was pretty close (unless someone here snuck five cookies worth of dough... a likely happening).

Because I made so many little crispy carob coconut pecan cookies that I won't use in my order I make cookie gift sticks, 8 cookies in a 4 x 14 bags with a label. Tying the end with a festive ribbon will make a nice quick gift for the neighbors and a few friends, sometimes I will add a copy of the recipe (giving full credit to the source) - depends who I am giving it to and whether they would like that information.

Of the cookies, the maple nut ones are beautiful, but not as sweet as my customers would probably prefer and the same with the peanut better ones. I will frost the maple with a maple spiked powder sugar drizzle, the peanut better ones I will probably place them in the order as is, but will make a note on my recipe to make them a little sweeter next time ... I'd use a dash of stevia to accomplish that though.

My favorite Dreena cookie would be the Double Chocolate Almond Explosion cookie (oh yum yum!) ranked slightly higher than the pumpkin cookies in VWAV which I used craisins in inctead of raisins. I am not done baking yet, but can already feel the holiday spread.... soon I'll be blogging about my exercise routine instead of cooking (eek!).