Tag Archives: kittehs

kittehs and cookies!

8 Dec

Animals are supposed to be able to recognize things that are harmful to them and withdraw from the edge of danger. When we see fire, we retreat. When we come across an unknown berry in the woods, we don’t eat it.

Bindhi is apparently not that bright. She is terribly attracted to two big kitteh no-nos- chocolate and coffee. Sigh. At least she looks cute when she’s sniffing cookies or when she wraps her paws around my arm and pulls with all her might to smell my mug.

Recently Leigh paid me a very high compliment, calling my Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookie recipe from 100 Best the “perfect chocolate chip cookie”. Aw… That inspired me to whip some up with chocolate chips and pistachios. So good! I love that Trader Joe’s sells preshelled pistachios, it makes life so much easier. (For those who have an interest in the chemistry of baking, notice how the shape of our cookies is different around the edges. I softened my margarine in the microwave and overdid it a but, it ended up slightly liquidy. The cookies where still soft and chewy, but you can see how it affected the shape. Interesting…)

I was going to post a recipe this week for vegan fruitcake (that actually tastes good!) but thought I’d do a little pole and see which recipe you’d like more. What do you think?

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how do you cocoa?

2 Dec

Well, slowly but surely we’re getting settled into our new space (hence my absence from the end of MoFo. FAIL). My new kitchen is HUGE, with tons of counter space and natural light, two things I have been sorely lacking for years, so I’m very excited to start churning out holiday goodies in this lovely new space. Of course, my best kitchen helper is right by my side, per the usual.

All I can think of is holiday baking, it makes my heart swoon. What is better than the smell of fresh baked goods, wafting from a warm oven and the eager anticipation of what is to come? I say to heck with the presents and other traditions of Giftmas, gimme the cookies/brownies/pie/cake!

Which brings me to an important issue, near and dear to my heart. Cocoa.

There are two main types of cocoa powder for baking: regular and Dutch-processed. In the picture above, the lighter cocoa on top is standard baking cocoa, while the darker, redder powder on the bottom is Dutch-processed. When I mention Dutch-processed to folks, I am often met with a blank stare, so I thought a little cocoa lesson might be in order.

Dutch-processed cocoa is cocoa that has been alkalized to reduce the acidity of the cocoa. In doing this, the natural slight bitterness (apparent standard in baking cocoa) is reduced, making for a richer chocolate flavor. I personally LOVE Dutch-processed cocoa and use it almost exclusively in my baking because of that flavor. Before discovering Dutch-pressed cocoa, I always used to add melted chocolate to almost every recipe that called for solely cocoa and no other kind of chocolate, because I felt continually let down by the lack of chocolate flavor. With the Dutch-pressed cocoa, my chocolate hound taste buds are far more satisfied (although a generous sprinkle of chocolate chips never hurt anyone). There is a depth of flavor that’s priceless in the finished product.

Technically using Dutch-processed cocoa, being more acid neutral, could require more chemical leavener to compensate (another pinch of baking powder), but I haven’t really noticed any difference swapping between them and leaving the recipe as is.

Dutch-processed cocoa can be harder to find in some areas, but it’s worth looking for. Like anything, the price can fluctuate dramatically (I’ve seen packages range from $3-$20) so check around for the best deal.

*Post amended to state the obvious- please buy fair trade when you can! Yes, it costs more, but you are helping to pay living wages for people who are working for legitimate farms where they are not slaves, but actual employees. The chocolate, coffee and diamond (and tea and bananas and more!) industries are very dark and dirty businesses to be in. Vote with your dollars!

Chocolate chip pistachio cookies and pumpkin cinnamon rolls are in my near future. What holiday baking treats do you see in your baking crystal ball?

kittehs for a cause

11 Nov

Portland peeps-

Love kittehs? Love shopping? Love belly dancing?

This Saturday is the annual Pretty Kitty Bazaar to benefit House of Dreams. Buy some fun things for yourself, your family or your furry kids and participate in the silent auction. Lots of vegan peeps turned out to donate goods for the auction and raffle, so there are loads of great things to be won and purchased!

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I bet you never thought kitties could benefit from your love of exotic dancing, huh? Think again! The following Sunday, the 22nd, there will be a benefit cabaret show featuring belly dancing and other assorted gyrating goodness to benefit HOD. Admission is cheap so you can donate some extra bucks and enjoy a great show- come out and show your love!

dinner with my ladies

4 Nov

Cold weather inspires comfort food. Given that my poorly adapted Portland body has been heading to work in 40 degree weather, comforting meals have been calling me.

Behold the classic soup and sammie combo:

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Tomato soup with a panini-pressed sandwich. The sandwich is on Dave’s bread with one side smeared with a garlicky bean spread and the other with kalamata olive Tofutti cream cheese, with grilled eggplant and zucchini in the middle (from Trader Joe’s).

Here is my soup dilemma- I like really creamy tomato soup and haven’t been able to make it really creamy and not resembling the flavor and consistency of tomato sauce. Recipes/ideas/help?

My ladies like to assist in the dinnertime routine.

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Always proper, Bindhi coaches me on my table etiquette.

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Josie supervises in a DOT foreman kind of way- gazing out the window and ignoring me, but everything must pass her smell test.

new nom on the block…

30 Aug

Hey there! You may notice a new face on the banner above. Let me intoduce Josaphina Sophia Holechek or, as we call her, Josie.

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Yes, she is named after Josie and the Pussycats, but the comic that was interspersed in the Archie comics of the 1960s, not the cartoon or the silly movie and pop culture junk of recent years.

I found Josie about a month ago behind my work, emaciated and lonely. You could feel her bones protruding through her skin and she was yelling her little head off. Thanks to a quick-acting friend, we were able to get her fed and in a cat carrier in a matter of minutes and then she was off to the vet and home with me. Now she’s a healthy weight and settling into our house pretty well. The other cats are still adjusting, but thankfully Josie is very laid-back. If you’re going to have four cats, she’s the kind to have. She enjoys being close to us, such as in the same room or on the couch, but she’s not needy and she likes to give moderate affection. Good qualities when you’re dividing your attention four ways.

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This is what we affectionately refer to as “the happy look of death”. Even when she’s extremely happy her face doesn’t really reflect it. But she’s definitely making herself at home.

I swear I will post about food soon. 🙂

Oh, and my book is officially out now, for real. So yeah, go bake some stuff. 🙂

very berry american summer

23 Jul

It’s hot.

It’s very hot.

I’m not going to complain, though. Our weather has volleyed between 65 degree highs and 95 degrees highs, rather bipolar. And when it was cooler, I was very loudly unhappy about it not feeling like summer. Something out there must have heard me, because here we are.

The heat has some benefits, though, one of which being ripe fruit. My canning kick has continued… and continued… and I’m onto my ninth variety of jam! I’m going to try to take a break until fall, when I’ll start in on the butters (apple butter, pear butter and pumpkin butter). So far, one of the funnest parts of making jam has been gathering the fruit, meaning field trips to pick it.

My friend Sandy and I recently went blueberry picking, which was quite fun and scenic.

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I picked about 13 lbs. for jam and freezing. Well, and eating too, of course.

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After filling our buckets with blueberries, we moved onto marionberries.

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We met a cute little friend along the way. He was about the size of a half-dollar.

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This little guy was living the good life at the large, bountiful farm we were picking at, hanging out in the shade on a very hot, bright day. Smart little dude…

Later that weekend, while raspberry picking with Amy and our trusty sidekicks, Jim and Tim, we came across these hornets. I think they were sleeping in, which was fine by me.

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After making loads more jam as well as freezing bags of berries, I decided to do something I don’t really do very often, which is bake with fruit. Sure, I toss handfuls of frozen berries into muffins, but rarely do I bake something where fruit is the centerpiece. I just love it so much on it’s own, I don’t normally see any reason to mess with it.

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This particular recipe called for plums and blueberries. I veganized it using vanilla soy yogurt for the eggs.

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I love upside down cakes because they are such a lovely surprise. For this cake, I used spelt flour, which is my new grain addiction.

After it cooled, I flipped it over. Notice the classy texture from the bottom of my springform pan. Nice…

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The hard thing about upside down cakes is determining when they are done. I baked this cake for 10 minutes longer than the recipe said and it was still underdone in the middle. It certainly didn’t keep us from eating it, though.

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With all this canning and baking, however, I’m not doing a very good job of keeping our house cool. Jim and I always have the option of prancing around in our skivvies. There are other people who are not so lucky.

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Here is Linus, trying to catch a breeze below the dining room window.

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Bindhi assumed the “dead bug” position under the ceiling fan. Hey, we do what we can, right?

yikes…

10 Jun

So, I’ve had some stuff in my personal life sidetracking me from blogging, so excuse my absence. Things will be back to normal soon.

In the meantime… reminder:

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The Portland contribution to the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale is in less than 2 week, on June 20th, at People’s, so please come and eat some yummies for the kitties!

With the warm weather we had in Portland recently (90 in June? Unheard of!) we have taken to eating pretty lightly, which has been refreshing.

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This was a quick dinner, trying to use up some produce, as I have a tendency to over-purchase vegetables… chickpeas sauteed in a little EB with some nooch, asparagus, garlic broccolini and our standard issue quinoa. Simple, satisfying and yummy.

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A bed of baby greens, topped with black beans that I cooked with some garlic and a little cumin, sweet corn, zucchini, avocado and some chips and salsa on the side. The chips are these new little corn chip “dippers” from Trader Joe’s that are like Fritos but a million times better. Well, I was never a fan of Fritos, so I’m a bit biased.

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I wanted to make some Italian cookies with pine nuts in them and came across this recipe by Giada on the Food Network. I’m not one to normally have much faith in the Food Network, but the recipe was basically vegan, it involved chocolate (always a plus) and it seemed pretty authentically European, using little sugar, so my interest was piqued. Being skeptical of our American palettes accepting something that tastes less sweet, I added my new topping du jour: demerara sugar mixed with a pinch of fleur de sel. I’ve found that 1 tbsp. of sugar to 1/4 teas. of salt is a great mix for dipping cookies and it gives them a nice, slightly sweet crunch accompanied with the occasion tang of salt. The topping definitely helped. They were a little crumbly, more like a biscuit-type cookie, and the flavor was greatly aided by the chocolate chunks. I really like pine nuts, but they didn’t really do it for me in this recipe. Can’t win them all.

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While I worked on these cookies, Linus made himself comfortable on the blanket that he pushed off the back of the couch. Spoiled kitteh…

More stuff to come, including some yummy reviews… it just might take me a week or so. Cheers!