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Sunday, February 27, 2011


This weekend has been full of good things. Yesterday, I spent some time grocery shopping with my mom. We went to's store in Redmond. I enjoy speaking with the owners, and I picked up some liver support supplements, coconut oil, and some tasty dehydrated snacks. The owners have a large garden designed with the principles of permaculture in mind, and we picked up a couple suggestions for some locally run nurseries that emphasize sustainable and natural methods.

Mom and I also went by the Redmond Whole Foods on the recommendation of some friends. There is a really large "special needs" section! Their gluten free section was about the size of some specialty shops I've seen in Kent and Everett. I found some rice krispy-ish cereal to attempt vegan rice krispy treats! I also found some donuts and bagels Lance really enjoys on sale, so I indulged. My diet is actually very low carbohydrate and I don't eat a lot of sweets, so I raided the greens and picked up some nice looking almonds.

After a day of shopping, I came home and spaced out in front of the TV and had some sauteed Brussels Sprouts and olives before going to the Medieval Women's Choir at St. James Cathedral in Seattle with the girls. Usually musicals and operas are not my thing, but I really enjoyed this event. The music is a bit simple, which really allowed the soprano's voice to be on full display. Her voice was gorgeous and had a clarity that was just stunning. Closing my eyes and listening to the music transported me back to a time of pristine land, difficult living, and simple needs.

Today, Lance went skiing early this morning. He walked and fed the dogs, who were content after he left and let me sleep in until 9. We all got up and I had breakfast, cleaned the kitchen, and then worked on a business plan. My mom stopped by and we all went on a long walk in a slight drizzle. It was absolutely freezing here yesterday, but today was considerably warmer and the snow had turned to rain. We got inside right before the downpour and enjoyed a romaine and cucumber salad with a avocado pepper dressing that went well with almonds and capers. I had attempted brownies a few days ago and discovered that there IS such a thing as too much chocolate (no really - it was INTENSE), so with a few tweaks, we had a successful batch this evening. I will probably continue to fine tune the recipe (and add varieties like mint, raspberry, etc), but I haven't posted in a while and thought I would share what I have so far.

Gluten-Free, Vegan Brownies

These brownies are dense, which is how I prefer my brownies. I like them without frosting and Lance likes them with Coconut Bliss ice cream piled on top. This is a recipe that is best done ahead of time. A fine crust will form over the top over night, giving these brownies a classic, rich taste and texture.

3 oz cacao butter
3 oz coconut oil
3 oz cacao powder
1.5 oz sorghum flour
1.5 oz brown rice flour
1 oz tapioca flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 T chia seeds
3.5 sweet potato, cooked and mashed
7 oz maple syrup
3 oz agave

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt the cacao butter and coconut oil on the lowest possible stovetop setting. Combine all dry ingredients in one bowl and the mashed sweet potato, maple syrup, melted oils, and agave in another. Slowly add the wet ingredients into the dry while stirring. Line an 8X15 inch pan with baking paper, and pour the batter into the pan. Bake for about 25 minutes. The center will look a little moist, but it will quickly take on a cake like appearance as it continues to cook outside of the stove.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Apple Crisp

I found a great sale on three pound bags of pink lady apples. Several weeks ago. Since then, I discovered that I don't do well with many carbohydrates and adopted a low carb diet and completely forgot about the apples. If I was going to go on a baking tear last night, I needed to use up those apples. The easiest way I know how is with an apple crisp. I tend to like tart desserts, and warm apple crisp goes really well with Coconut Bliss vanilla ice cream!

Apple Crisp

1.5 pounds Apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
1/4 c Palm Oil
1/2 c Oats
1/2 c Sugar
1/4 c Brown Rice Flour
1 T Tapioca Flour
3/4 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Ginger
fresh grated Nutmeg
pinch Cloves
pinch salt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a 9X9 pan, layer the apple pieces. If you like a sweeter dessert, you can layer additional cinnamon and sugar among the apples.

Put the other ingredients in a bowl and combine with either a fork or a pastry cutter. Spread the crumble over the top of the apples.

Bake for about 30-45 minutes, or until the apples are tender.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Gluten Free, Vegan Cinnamon Rolls

I feel bad I haven't taken the time to blog lately. Things have been busy and tiring (and fun!). Yesterday I dropped off some goodies for a bake sale and we had a small get together. I finally conquered the Snickerdoodle (YAYY!), which got rave reviews along with my lucuma banana cupcakes with vanilla icing. Today I went to discuss renting a commercial kitchen so I can attend farmer's markets on the weekends and potentially do some online sales. There is a lot to getting a baking business started....

There wasn't much leftover...I love how people try to
be polite and not take the last cookie, but people ended up
tearing pieces off

Today I decided to work on a business plan for the bakery and start perfecting more recipes. I have several that are market ready, but I could always use more (many more, preferably). I tend to try to bake the things I loved when I was younger. Cinnamon rolls are something my grandmother really excels at, and my brothers always beg her to make them. I decided to try my hand at them. Gluten free rolls are....not quite the same (at least not the rolls I've made so far). The dough does hold up to rolling for cutting, but it's soft enough that the cinnamon swirl loses its definition and I press into a rectangle rather than attempting to roll. I'm personally allergic to baker's yeast, but my husband tells me they are quite good. He's gotten to be a pretty reliable food critic, and although he isn't always very descriptive as to why he does or doesn't like something, I know I can trust his overall opinion.

Cinnamon Rolls

makes about 8

1/2 c Teff Flour
1 c Brown Rice Flour
1/2 c Tapioca Flour
1 1/4 c Sweet Potato (cooked and mashed)
1/2 tsp salt
4 T melted Palm Oil
1/2 c water
2 T Yeast
1 T Maple Syrup

Cinnamon Filling

7 Medjool Dates
1/4 c packed Raisins
1/4 c Coconut Oil
1/2 t Cinnamon
2 T Maple Syrup
pinch salt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Put the dates and raisins in water to soak and set aside. Warm a 1/2 cup of water to 110 degrees and add the maple syrup and yeast. If the water is the right temperature, you will see the yeast foam up within the first couple minutes. Combine the dry ingredients for the rolls and melt the palm oil. Add the yeast mixture and palm oil and fold into the dry ingredients. I end up getting my hands dirty to make sure things are well combined (be careful not to overmix/handle).

Drain the dates and raisins and put them in a food processor with an S blade until the dried fruit starts to form a ball (it should be close to a paste at that point). Put the mixture in a mixing bowl and combine the maple syrup, cinnamon, and coconut oil. Set aside.

Put a piece of parchment paper over a cookie sheet and work the dough into a large rectangle shape.

Put tablespoons of the date/filling mixture around the dough and GENTLY spread the mixture with a knife, being careful not to tear the dough underneath.

Once the mixture is evenly spread, roll the dough.

Score the dough and cut into even pieces, about an inch and a half thick.

Bake for 30 minutes or until a nice golden color:

2 T Palm Oil
1/2 T hot water
2 c Powdered Sugar - approximate

Stir the palm oil and hot water together with a hand mixer, along with vanilla bean (1/2 a bean scraped or 1/2 tsp extract). Put 1.5 cups sugar in a fine sifter and sift the sugar. Combine the mix and continue to add sugar as necessary to achieve the right consistency. These measurements may be a little off - I tend to eyeball frosting.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Vegan, Gluten Free Pizza

On a normal day, I have a smoothie or chia protein pudding for breakfast, gigantic salad for lunch, nuts for a snack, and I browse through the evening. Sometimes that means a salad, soy-free miso soup, and/or a series of snacks. The night before last, I decided to continue a run of not so fabulous diet choices and make pizza! Kind of. It could definitely use some acid - maybe a balsamic reduction? I liked the crust though.

The crust is baked separately from the rest of the ingredients. There are a lot of steps, but if you'd rather change the toppings and mix it up, I'm sure that would work. I would bake the crust for 10-15 minutes at 400 degrees and then add toppings before cooking another 10-15 minutes. Pesto, mushrooms, and thin sliced red onion would be tasty.

Gluten Free Crust
1.2 oz potato starch
1.5 oz brown rice flour
2.5 oz millet flour
pinch salt
1 tsp onion powder
1 T chives (dry)
1 T palm oil
1/4 c water

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine the dry ingredients. Add the palm oil and use a fork to work the palm oil into the flour until nearly undetectable. Add the water and knead lightly. Press onto a cookie sheet in a thin circle about 10-12" wide. Bake for about 30 minutes.

1/3 c macadamia nuts
/14 c cashews
lemon juice
pinch salt
enough water to blend the nuts in a high speed blender and achieve a smooth consistency

After the crust has cooled a bit, spread the cheeze over the top.

Potato Cake

1 large potato
olive oil

Thinly slice the potatoes on a mandolin. Heat a non-stick pan (preferably ceramic) to medium. Put olive oil in the pan and layer the potato slices. Let brown. Take a lid and flip the pan contents onto the lid. Slide the potato cake from the pan lid back into the frying pan to brown the other side. When done, flip the cake onto the lid again as it's easier to transfer to the pizza from the lid than from the pan.

Broccoli Raab
3 cloves garlic
olive oil
lemon juice
2-3 cups broccoli raab, rough chopped
1/2 sliced onion (optional)

Saute in a frying pan until wilted. Spoon the contents over the pizza.

Cut and serve. I served this with a small side salad of celery root, mung bean sprouts, and juiliened cucumber tossed with the leftover cheeze.

Bake Sale

There is a bake sale tomorrow at the Sidecar for Pigs Peace starting at noon in the Seattle U-District. I will be dropping off goodies (chocolate chip cookies and ginger cookies) at 10am, and will try to swing by again either later that day or the next to buy gluten free treats!

Monday, February 7, 2011

I Am Excited

I met my brother this evening on his way to an appointment to pick up a prescription my grandma was nice enough to pick up near her house. I got a really awesome surprise! My mom sent me I Am Grateful: Recipes & Lifestyle of Cafe Gratitude. I admit it. I squealed with excitement! Since eating there in early December, I've gotten close to their almond toast and Caesar salad on my own, but I've really wanted to try more of their dishes. Now I get to! YAY!

I Am Not Judgmental

Alright. Sometimes I am judgmental, but I try to keep an open mind and look at things from different perspectives.

This last weekend, I had the good fortune of meeting one of Lance's track teammates from college. We discussed a lot of topics and I pretty quickly determined he was pretty cool guy. He had suggestions for sustainable materials to use in our house. I hate our carpeting, and he highly recommended cork as a sustainable material that actually minimizes bacteria. He is using a wool product as insulation in his house. He explained that 90% of the wool collected was put in a landfill until now, and this product uses that waste. The wool is sterilized and becomes a naturally flame retardant, insulating material. It's not a product I will be using because I don't want to support the wool industry, but on several levels I can see its benefits (eliminating the chemicals in standard insulation is a BIG one).

Lance's friend's wife has recently become vegan and he was debating doing the same. He said he feels ill and tired when he's on a vegan only diet and admitted to not wanting to put in the effort to avoid processed/packaged foods entirely. He felt some guilt from his reading, but also worried that his wife was judging him (he didn't say she did - I had a feeling it was more of an underlying concern). I stopped and thought, "Woah. Does my husband feel that way?"

Lance and I on our honeymoon in Kauai after a 3 mile hike into Waimea Canyon

When I first told close friends and family I had made the leap from a plant-based diet to being vegan, I got very mixed reviews. Actually, there was a little bit of fear mixed in those reactions. They were afraid I would become angry and start yelling at them for not also being vegan. They didn't want to feel like I thought I was better than them or watch me be self-righteous. I understood what they meant. Anyone who has been on the receiving end of a religious or lifestyle tirade knows that feeling. But - I also see why many vegans are willing to get in your face. Day after day, we are judged and the lifestyle is mocked. Sometimes people are genuinely curious. It's hard to watch people eat and wear things that had a horrible sad existence before their life was taken. It's a fine line...I feel the need to express my views, but don't want to alienate anyone.

Living peacefully in a shared household is not without its difficulties. Lance has his own sections of the fridge, and some pans and cutting boards are off limits. I have done a lot of reading and research, and it's really hard not to go on tirades. I discovered early on that I know how I feel about factory farming, the fur industry, and several other topics and reading about them just fuels the outrage I feel. I stopped reading many of the books and can't watch the movies anymore. Personally, I believe in doing the least amount of harm possible. Going forward, making conscientious clothing, food, and personal care purchases make me feel good about what I am doing. I value my relationships, and I will let others decide what they want to do.

I love my husband and my family. I will make some comments, but try to keep them to a minimum unless an open discussion is on the table. In order to have happy relationships, I've decided that I need to respect their personal lifestyle choices as much as they respect mine. Despite very meat and potatoes, traditional childhoods, I became vegan and my husband defends my decision and is confident I do the research and make the effort necessary to develop a healthy diet for myself. I feel lucky. Not only is he supportive of my diet/lifestyle, he has been absolutely wonderful - we have faced my lupus health issues together.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Leek and Potato Soup

Winter makes grocery shopping a little interesting. There isn't a whole lot in season in Washington. Arugula, kale, dandelion greens, mushrooms, and a few root vegetables may resemble something close to in season, but there isn't a whole lot growing without greenhouses. A lot of food is shipped into the area.

I walked through the grocery store the other day and the selection wasn't as vibrant as it is in the late spring, but there were some things that stood out. The garlic at PCC was finally plump and beautiful. Before this week, the garlic was small and a little hit or miss. The leeks looked pretty good so I grabbed them on a whim along with some potatoes, mushrooms, and greens. Soup has been something I crave a lot with the cold weather.

Some mushrooms are more flavorful than others, but most all are subtle. Crimini are only very slightly more earthy than button mushrooms and lend a bit of that flavor to soup. Most store bought stocks or boullion cubes have soy (even those with animal products). I didn't want to take the time to make a full vegetable stock (I had plans for the other ingredients in the fridge), so the mushrooms were a suitable substitute.

Leek and Potato Soup

4 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 T olive oil
6-7 washed Crimini mushrooms, diced
1/2-3/4 c white wine
1/2 tsp salt
large pinch each of thyme, tarragon, and rosemary
2 leeks, sliced
1 1/2 cups cubed potatoes (1/2 ")
3-4 cups water
fresh ground pepper

Put a large saucepan over medium heat. Add olive oil. When the oil is warm and ready, add the mushrooms and garlic, stirring until the mushrooms absorb most of the oil and become softer.

Add the wine and let reduce to half its original amount and the add the leeks.

Keep stirring until the leeks wilt. I thought my pan was way too small and was amazed how much the leeks reduce.

Add the water and potatoes and bring to a boil. Check the potatoes after 10 minutes. Add fresh ground pepper to each serving.

This is a simple, mild soup that would do well as a side. I think next time I will try pan roasting the potatoes in the oven first next time with a little garlic and olive oil.

Tomorrow we are having some people over and I will be making a couple baked goods for Owen. Mom requested Ginger Cookies. I will also be making some blueberry pancakes in the morning with a blueberry sauce on top (you really can't have too much fruit). I'm personally allergic to blueberries, but I know my husband will enjoy them.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Apple Fennel Roast

Our fridge is running really, really low. In my baking frenzy this weekend, I overlooked real food. It ends up being a good thing when I have to consider something new. I haven't had much cooked fennel. I have heard that it goes with apple. I had no idea what spices went with them, so I kept it simple, and my husband and I both liked it. I think it would go really well with some pasta if the pieces are cut smaller or as a side.

Apple Fennel - Pan Roasted
1 large Fennel Bulb
1/2 large Yellow Onion
3-4 cloves Garlic, minced
2 medium Apples
1/3 c White Wine
1/2 bunch of Kale
1 pinch Salt
1/2 tsp Thyme (dried)

Slice the fennel bulb into 1/4 inch slices. Slice the onion into slightly thinner slices. Core the apple, and slice the apples on a medium setting on the mandolin slicer. Rough chop the kale. Put the fennel, onion, and garlic in a medium sauce pan with olive oil. Cook until the onions are transparent and add the salt and thyme. Add the apples and stir a bit until they are slightly cooked. Add the wine. After the wine has reduced to 1/2, add the Kale.