Wednesday, April 29, 2009
I have two children. My oldest, Mallory, will be four in September. My youngest Margeux will be 9 months on May 2nd. Although at times, they drive me nuts....they are truly a wonderful blessing! They amaze me always with their curiosity, growth and achievements.
With my constant search for delicious and healthy products, particularly for my kids, at times I have become disappointed. Some Infant/Toddler snacks are lacking the quality and simplicity of natural foods. I would love to be at home with my girls, but am not able, and therefore require the blessing of the great caregivers that have come my way.
For their convenience I like to have easy snacks on hand. My three year old is not a concern, she has all her teeth and choking hazards are less a concern. For my infant/toddler I was able to find a product by Happy Baby. They are dissolvable Organic Puff finger foods. Packed with great ingredients, they fill my food conscious criteria. Their Green Puffs contain organic rice, organic whole oats, organic evaporated cane juice, organic brown rice, organic wheat starch, organic spinach, organic collard greens, organic kale, and a list of vitamins and minerals. Margeux loves them!
You can also find pure, simple, and natural baby foods by Happy Baby in the frozen food section at health food markets. Not only conscious about the quality of food, they are also advocates of "green" or environmental packaging. They are made with recycled materials, BPA free, and are recyclable.
I give this company an A+
* for more information on their products or company go to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Not too long ago I wrote about White Chocolate. I did some research after that article due to my craving for Vegan Macadamia White Chocolate Chip cookies.
I did indeed find a great solution to feed my desire. They are Vegan White Chocolate Chips by a company called Vegan Sweets. I've yet to see them in a store, but you can order them online @ http://www.veganstore.com
Produced using only Non-Bone Char Processed Sugar, Vegetable Oil, Cocoa Butter, Soy Lecithin, Vanillin, Salt, and Vegan Natural Flavors, I found them to be a wonderful alternative.
Upon receiving them in the mail, the aroma of incredible cookies filled my kitchen. These too shall become a staple in my baking cupboard!
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Growing up in Westminster, CA. I had an unusual upbringing. My backyard was a small farm. We had turtles, geese, rabbits, chickens, dogs, cats, birds, and hamsters. We also had several fruit trees and quite a large garden.
The neighbor down the street had a miniature horse. My elementary school class would take tours in our “farm” and the gentleman would have his horse available for rides. It was a great experience that created a passion for homegrown produce, gardening, and animal care.
Because I had some interesting pets, this fabricated reason for me not desiring the eggs in which they produced. I couldn’t bare the thought of eating what came out of my pet chickens butt (a child’s understanding). I was often left at the table with my scrambled eggs getting cold and trying to creatively hide them under the rim of my plate or spit them in my napkin. I’d try to flavor them with ketchup in order to stomach them, but thoughts of bloody embryos/baby chicks didn’t make them sit well in my mouth…and I’d eventually spit them out.
To this day, I can’t stand the smell or taste of eggs. Baking has been a challenge at times, but I find it my goal to make amazing tasting pastries that are egg/ dairy free. So far, I have made many mouths pleasantly surprised and ever content.
Eggs, as most of you know, are used for product shelf stability, flavor enhancing, and ingredient binding. A great source of protein, they are a staple in most households. Although, for some they are an allergen. I avoid them for the simple reason of distaste.
For several years, I have been asked how I bake without the use of eggs. My answer, there are ample ways to avoid them. Below is a list of alternatives.
2. “Egg Replacer” by EnerG
3. Banana, Pureed Fruit, Apple Sauce, Date or Prune Puree, Berries, (anything high in pectin…which is a gelatinous, slippery ingredient derived from the skin of fruit)
5. Agar Agar
7. Kuzu, or other root starches
8. Flax seeds- soak overnight in H20 at room temp.
To replace eggs in cake recipes:
*Use 3 Tbsp. Liquid (soymilk, water, or juice) for each egg
*Use 1/8-pound tofu (silken is best) blended with liquid ingredients for each egg
*Use 3 Tbsp. Liquid plus 1 Tbsp arrowroot plus 1 Tbsp. Flour for each egg
I have personally tried all of these methods. Depending on what I am baking, one may be preferable over the other. But, they all work.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
I just wrote an article about Sweet and Sara, a Vegan Marshmallow company. I wanted to include a quick Rice Krispie Treat recipe that is so easy to make, easy to clean up after, and leaves you satisfied for that something sweet.
1 1/2 Tbsp. Earth Balance
1/2 pack (8 marshmallows) of Sweet and Sara Marshmallows
3 cups organic brown rice crisps (Whole Foods alternative for Rice Crispies)
Prepare a 4x6 baking pan with parchment. Set Brown Rice Crisps aside in a mixing bowl. Melt Earth Balance in a pan over medium heat. When melted, add marshmallows until they become thin/"stringy". Remove from heat, and poor over crisps. Make sure to coat the crisps. Place the mix in prepared pan and pat flat. Allow to cool then refrigerate. Serve at room temperature. Yields: 12 squares.
As dark approaches, the nightlight of stars begin taking their places amongst the cool evening air. I sit alongside the warm glow of the fire pit wrapped in a down jacket, a blanket upon my lap, holding a skewer over the lick of flames so my marshmallow roasts.
I eagerly prepare my graham cracker with a fine spread of peanut butter and a wedge of semi-sweet dark chocolate. The freshly roasted marshmallow, complete with it’s gooey inside, melts the chocolate and warms the peanut butter into a blend of intoxicating sweetness. The jacket of graham crackers a perfect structure for what leaves remnants of ooze along my lips that I happily lick off.
The joyful chatter buzzes with storytelling; warms my soul as I participate in the ringside clatter of laughter.
Camping is a favorite! From childhood to adulthood I have vowed to keep this a staple and pass it’s enjoyment along to my children.
Fond memories of storytelling, hiking, and tenting are now shaped with new experiences much more- as they are now sprinkled with little giggles from my daughters. I love to create those first moments. Smores’ were my family’s tradition, and one I’d like to have my children participate in.
Because traditional marshmallows contain gelatin (processed through animal bones), we eliminated this pleasure until a year ago. It’s with great pleasure that I acknowledge “Sweet and Sara”. They are a Vegan marshmallow company. Sweet in taste and the perfect texture, these leave nothing left to be desired. Because they melt wonderfully, they will be an obvious substitute for my smores this summertime when I allow my oldest her first smore. Family traditions must continue!
* For more information about Sweet and Sara- visit http://www.sweetandsara.com
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Coconut Crème Pie with Chocolate Sauce has been my husband Kevin’s request for his birthday dessert the last three years. We just celebrated his birthday this last Saturday and enjoyed this annual dessert.
Traditionally made with a substantial amount of eggs and dairy, this is created with silken tofu, soymilk, and a sweet medley of ingredients.
In the past, my business For Cake Sake, sold this particular dessert to the Orange County restaurant, Native Foods. Additionally, it was quite a hit among our private clients.
This tropical flavored dessert is wonderful alongside curried vegetables with jasmine rice.
Over the years, I have been asked how to bake desserts without the use of eggs. Please be sure to visit my post this week if you are interested in egg-free baking methods.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Easter is just five days away. While many of you are busily planning your festivities, the little ones are excitedly awaiting a basketful of goodies! I am constantly reminded of the commercial side of Easter while shopping; with the aisles of chocolate bunnies, jellybeans, and marshmallow peeps.
Following Christian beliefs, my family and I celebrate with a sunrise service, and participate in an Easter egg hunt afterwards. My sugar-overload anxiety began with my oldest daughter Mallory, when she joined in on her first egg hunt two years ago. Plastic eggs filled with candies made from hydrogenated oils, and other poor quality ingredients made me want to avoid this social activity. But, I’ve lightened up, realizing I can secretly toss most of it and allow her a small amount to enjoy.
Funny enough, her first year she loved rocks! Our own hidden eggs were filled with colorful stones, money, stickers, and vegetarian treats. This year, her third hunt, I’ve found some great alternative candies. Yes, it’s still candy. However, I feel better that it is of better quality! I guess you can call me a food snob.
Surf Sweets provides organic gummy worms, jellybeans, and other chewy candies. They are similar in taste, but made without artificial colors or flavors. However, the gummy worms contain gelatin, so if you are Vegetarian, I’d suggest their other choices. (http://www.surfsweets.com)
Then there are Mambas Vegan Fruit Chews. They are similar to Starburst. They too are an all-natural treat. Delicious!(http://www.veganessentials.com)
Lastly, for you chocolate lovers, the chocolate peanut butter bites sold at http://www.veganstore.com (1800-340-1200) are awesome. Both you and your little ones will delight in this treat.
My youngest daughter Margeux is only eight months old, has four teeth, and her sweet tooth has not quite developed. But come next year, I will return to these same companies for the selection they provide for this once a year egg hunt.
Those who know me well know I am a master multi-tasker; I rarely sit still. By evening, which is sadly 9 p.m., I am exhausted. With two small children I have sadly forsaken my love of reading. Reading was my way of relaxing my constant thoughts. Pathetically, as of late, I picked up a novel I started two years ago; “The Silver Hand”, by Stephen Lawhead.
Having cancelled most of my magazine subscriptions, due to lack of time, I took up literary gratitude in solitude as I sojourned doctor’s appointments. Each word I read was a tasty morsel, making me crave more; sort of like my chocolate addiction. For me, not having words is like standing naked surrounded by strangers while awaiting a train ride. It’s disconcerting!
So to merge my fervor of reading with cooking, I purchased the last three issues of VegNews. It is an awesome vehicle of educating oneself on current environmental issues, while simultaneously and harmonically entertaining your inner culinary agendas. Beautifully laid out, it is a sophisticated and friendly read. Additionally, if you want to know who or how the rich and famous eat Vegetarian, this magazine will solicit to your inner curiosities, and further your knowledge of particular “stars” with its interview section.
Honestly, I’ve prepared most of the fare offered each issue, and they have intelligibly chosen palate-pleasing recipes. In the February 2009 issue, the Clam-Free Chowdah (pg.60) is a great rendition of the original dairy and clam filled soup. VegNews won’t disappoint you! Now all I have to do is subscribe!
$4.95/ issue- http://www.vegnews.com
Saturday, April 4, 2009
As I run, the fragrance of jasmine and honeysuckle fill the air reminding me that Spring is here and fruit is in abundance. A perfect time for baking!
1/2 c. almonds, roasted
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
pinch of sea salt
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup maple syrup
DIRECTIONS FOR CRUST:
Preheat oven for 350 degrees. Mix dry ingredients in bowl and wet in another. Bake at 350 for 7-10 minutes.
APPLE-BLACKBERRY PIE FILLING
2 lbs. apples, peeled cored and sliced
1 lb. blackerries
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup-1 cup organic brown sugar
2 Tbsp. arrowroot powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. mace
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. sea salt
DIRECTIONS FOR FILLING:
In a bowl, toss the apples together with the lemon juice, half the sweetener, the spices and salt. Fold in the blackberries.
In a small bowl, mix together all the other ingredients and allow to stand for 10 minutes. If using the smaller amount of sugar, taste and adjust. Pile the mix into the prepared crust, then add crumble topping atop filling.
1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
3/4 cup maple sugar
1 1/4 cups walnuts, roasted and chopped
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 1/4 tsp. mace
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/3 -1/2 cup canola oil
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
DIRECTIONS FOR CRUMBLE TOPPING:
In a medium bowl, combine flour, maple sugar, nuts and spices. Drizzle the oil into the ingredients, mixing until uneven crumbs form. Pat this topping over apple-blackberry filling. Cover the pie with foil, bake at 400 degrees or until filling begins to bubble at edges. Reduce heat to 350 degrees, remove foil and continue baking until streusal is golden brown and juice is bubbling. Cool 45 minutes before serving.