Monday, December 12, 2011

One cookie, two cookie, / banana cookie, apple cookie.

Cookie Uno: de banano
Cookie Deux: aux pommes

In honor of my nephew and my childhood, and as a tribute to the Dr. we met before Dr. Who, Dr. No, Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, and Dr. Ozzy, I offer this little ditty:

One cookie, two cookie,
banana cookie, apple cookie.

A bowl of cookie dough,
a crunchy cookie for a snack,
and cookies for munchies that go,

You can buy cookies in packs,
You can buy a cookie in a bag,
but there's always something that a storebought cookie lacks.

Can you guess what could be the snag?
Is it the cookie sheet? Is it an ingredient?
Is it the cookie's crusty cracks in a crooked zig-zag?

Though store cookies are expedient,
you'll learn to love the ones made by hand:

one cookie tastes fresh, and the other tastes canned.


Cookie Uno (vegan & gluten-free) 
Makes about a dozen cookies.


If only eating cookie dough and not baking, you simply need the following ingredients:

2 cups gluten-free oats, ground (in blender or food processor. If you have other gluten-free flours on hand, use those instead, using the necessary substitution ratio)
2 ripe bananas, mashed (I don't like them too ripe, but to each his/her own!)
3 Tablespoons of oil, melted (microwave about 30 seconds. Any other oil should do if you don't have coconut oil on hand.)
2 Tablespoons of coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon pink Himalayan salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon vanilla

2 handfuls of nuts/seeds (I used 1 handful of pecans + 1 of walnuts)
1 handful of chocolate chips
Oven-caged cookies! Free the G-free!
Optional: 3 Tablespoons of large flake coconut pieces  (I forgot to add them to this recipe, but I did add them to the applesauce version below!)

If baking cookies, make sure to add and mix the following in thoroughly:
1/2 teaspoon guar gum
1 Tablespoons arrowroot starch
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
After using your blender to pulse the oats to a rough flour (and adding in the baking soda, arrowroot starch, and guar gum at this point if you intend on baking the cookies and not just going for the dough), pour your oat flour into a mixture of banana, coconut oil, coconut milk, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla. Stir well. Then gently stir in the seeds/nuts and chips

Now drop dough onto lightly greased cookie sheet by heaping teaspoonfuls. 

Once in oven, the cookies should be ready in 13-15 minutes. Check to see if very lightly brown on edges/tops, then take out and enjoy!

Cookie Deux (vegan & gluten-free) 
Makes about a dozen cookies.


If only eating cookie dough and not baking:

2 cups gluten-free flour (or ground oats as in Cookie Uno. I used 1/2 cup of sorghum flour plus 1.5 cups of oats, ground in the Blendtek. If you have other gluten-free flours on hand, use those instead, following the necessary ratio for substitution.)
1 cup applesauce
3 Tablespoons of coconut oil, melted (microwave about 30 seconds)
2 Tablespoons of coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon pink Himalayan salt

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (I added a bit more since I like apple+cinnamon to be stronger than banana+cinnamon)
1/8 teaspoon vanilla

2 handfuls of nuts/seeds (I used 1 handful of peanuts + 1 of cashews)
1 handful of chocolate chips

Optional: 3 Tablespoons of large flake coconut pieces (photos for Cookie Deux here have the coconut, whereas Cookie Uno does not)

If baking cookies, make sure to add and mix the following in thoroughly:
1/2 teaspoon guar gum
1 Tablespoons arrowroot starch
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Directions: (almost identical to Cookie Uno)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
After using your blender (if you're grinding down oats to flour) to pulse the oats to a rough flour (and adding in the baking soda, arrowroot starch, and guar gum at this point if you intend on baking the cookies and not just going for the dough), pour your flour into a mixture of applesauce, oil, coconut milk, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla. Stir well. Then gently stir in the seeds/nuts and chips

Now drop dough onto lightly greased cookie sheet by heaping teaspoonfuls. 

Once in oven, the cookies should be ready in 13-15 minutes. Check to see if very lightly brown on edges/tops, then take out and enjoy!

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Veggies of Darkness

Nightshade vegetables grow in the deep shadows of obstructed moonlight. I admit I haven't read Heart of Darkness. I used to love the one-hit wonder song by the Darkness. Now that my free association declarative sentences are out of the way, let's venture a question: what's so shady about nightshades?

Nightshades are chock full of alkaloids, which distinguish this food family (whose father is the Dark Lord of the Sith) from others on the block. This quirky kin clan includes: peppers, eggplant, tomato, potatoes, paprika, tobacco, and more (lotsa infos there).

Nightshades are my etymology QoftheDay. Taken from the OED (Online Etymology Dictionary):

"O.E. nihtscada, lit. "shade of night," perhaps in allusion to the poisonous berries. A common Germanic compound, cf. Du. nachtschade, Ger. Nachtschatten." 

Nightshadess I may be (since I am female who enjoys nightshade society), but alkaloids fail to settle well with many a tummy. Also, many a nerve and many a joint may be suffering. Generally speaking, nightshades don't upset too many an organ unless one takes a doozy of a dose. Rule of thumb (or paring knife, potato peeler, whatever): slyly slice the offending extra alkaloid-rich greeneries protruding from your potatoes and green tomatoes (find the best nightshade site I found here). 

Nighshadessness has overtaken me 2 nights this past week. Below you will find 2 adventures into the dark, seedy, and nutty underbelly of vegan cuisine. Will you dare to delve into the depths, swim toward the dancing light, and surface with 1 of these dishes, the pot's handle gripped in your jaws of hunger?

Nightshadelessness is not an option. Emerge from the deep sea (or woods, mountains, whatever) with a dinner. No one wants to see you arrive empty-mouthed.

Saffron Spinach with Macadamia Nuts (gf&vegan)


1 package frozen spinach (16 oz. bag from Trader Joe's)
2 small onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tablespoon oil (I used grapeseed)
handful chopped pepper
handful roasted salted macadamia nuts
1 generous pinchful of saffron
1/4 teaspoon pink salt

First put the oil, garlic, and onions in a saucepan over medium heat. Let sizzle and stir them about until they start to brown. Then add frozen spinach. Keep stirring and cooking it together. Once spinach is no longer frozen, stir in pepper, macadamia nuts, saffron, and salt. Cook for about another five minutes to infuse the saffron into the dish, then serve!

Tomatoed Chickpeas with Sesame Seeds (gf&vegan)

1 can of chopped organic tomatoes (15 oz.)
1 can of organic chickpeas (a.k.a. garbanzo beans, 15 oz. I'd say any bean would do if you don't have chickpeas on hand.)
the top ends of a leek, chopped (I saved the bottom half for another meal. Just make sure to wash the tops well since they can be a bit dirt-laden.)
3 small heads of bok choy, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
handful chopped bell pepper
1/4 cup sesame seeds (I recommend very slightly toasting them beforehand since I found it difficult to get them toasty in with the leeks)
3 shakes of cayenne pepper (shy of 1/8 teaspoon)
1/4 teaspoon pink salt
1 Tablespoon oil (I used olive oil)

(Echo, echo of the directions above a bit. . .)
First put the oil, garlic, and leeks in a fry pan over medium heat. After 3 minutes add the bok choy and sesame seeds. Let sizzle and stir them about until the garlic starts to brown and the bok choy is wilting.

At the same time, have the can of tomatoes and the chickpeas in a saucepan. Let simmer (and keep stirring every minute or so) over medium heat while you vigilantly watch the oil-leek-bok choy-garlic-sesame sauté. Once the oil-leek-bok choy-garlic-sesame sauté is beginning to brown, add the sauté to the tomato-chickpea stew. At this point, stir in the cayenne pepper and salt Cook for about another five minutes, then serve!

In almost no time, you'll have a dark side dinner to mwahahaha over with the fam'!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Saturday, November 26, 2011

::Puppethead:: A Tart Tribute

Radiohead. Need I say more? I think not; thousands of Radiohead fans have said plenty with their many, many covers of favorite RH songs. Not surprisingly, a Youtube search of "Radiohead cover" yields over 17,000 hits (a hearty representation versus other artists I tried out. At the very least, my search beat U2).

Lest you forget, any megaband can be made even mega-er with a simple ingredient: puppets. Like the human covers of Radiohead, many a puppet has replayed the Radiohead rhythms: a tape-'n'-paper dinosaur of sorts; a cotton ball with gnarled tar-like hands; a sad Kermit the frog; a black-'n'-white "emo" puppet who sings to a lone slice of raisin toast.

Why no official Radiohead puppets to play tributes? The most prevalent theory is that the Beck puppets' trashing of Radiohead's Dublin dressing room derailed any puppetly Radiohead plans. I settle for this explanation.

Why not celebrate the tunes of Thom Yorke with a Coco(nut)(pe)can(pump)kin Tart? Like the harmonious hymns of Radiohead, this recipe combines tasty ingredients in an orchestrated ratio. Go ahead, eat some pecans in a paean to Radiohead.

Cococankin Tart (gf & vegan)
After reading about 6 different recipes, I let them simmer and become the recipe you see here. It is a tart/pie, but I think it's best described as a shortbread/graham-cracker/cookie with pumpkin pudding on top.

Ingredients & Instructions:

Part I: The Shortbread Crust

3/4 cup teff flour + 1/4 cup sorghum flour (any flour would do, but look up ratios since some flours aren't 1-to-1 like these are for conventional flour)
1 cup raw pecans
1 cup rolled oats 
3 Tablespoons arrowroot powder
1 teaspoon guar gum
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup coconut oil (room temp)
1/3 cup maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. 
Put the pecans, oats, and flour in a blender/food processor and pulse until well-incorporated. Then add arrowroot, guar, baking soda, and salt before pulsing some more.

Scrape/pour coconut oil and maple syrup into a mixing bowl. Stir them together a bit with a fork. Then add the mixture from the blender, combining with a fork until all evident chunks of coconut oil are broken up and mixed in. The dough should be sticky and keep its form.

Push the dough into a 9" diameter pie pan using your hands. Cook for approx. 22 minutes. At that point, if not before, check to see how the edge of the crust is doing. As soon as it begins to turn brown, turn off the oven but let the pie shell sit in there while you make the pumpkinny insides. Sitting in the warm oven helps the crust dry out. (This way the filling sitting in the pie shell overnight did not saturate and soggify the crust!)

Part 2: The Insides Edition

4 cups canned pumpkin (aka 2 run-of-the-mill 15 oz. cans. If you only have 1 can, you can do a half-recipe, since only half of the pumpkin pudding goes in the crust--about half is extra yumminess.) 
1 teaspoon guar gum
1.5 Tablespoons arrowroot powder
1 cup coconut milk (I used light, canned variety)
2/3 cup maple syrup
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 Tablespoon molasses (I used blackstrap) 
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon of grated fresh ginger (or 1/4 teaspoon ground, dried ginger)

Continually whisk all the filling ingredients--except put aside 2 cups of pumpkin--in a saucepan over high heat (about 75% heat capacity) until it starts bubbling (about 3 min). Then turn down to medium heat (50% capacity) as you continue to whisk for about 5 minutes. Finally whisk another 3 minutes at low (25%) heat before turning off the heat and taking the saucepan off the burner.

Now add the 2 cups of pumpkin you set aside and whisk in. Let sit 10 minutes.

Take out the pie crust which should be fairly dry now, even in the center. Let both the crust and filling sit separately for an hour. Then 'tis time to pour the filling into the crust. The tart should now be cool enough to shuttle into the fridge overnight to let it set (highly recommended to let it sleep overnight! A well-rested pie is a happy pie). Top with toasted coconut, pecans, some extra crust crumble, dried cranberries . . . whatever your puppetheart desires.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Claymation takes patience. Improving your oatmeal does not.

With cinnamon, vanilla soymilk & walnuts.
By request, I here feature a venture into the world of The Dining Hall Gourmet (a.k.a. me). 

Yes, I use microwaves in the dining halls to steam my vegetables. If there are condiments provided (sunflower seeds, olive oil, vinegar, oregano, cranberries, lemons, etc. . . lots of things for me to play with), you can bet your tray that I'll be garnishing my meal with them! 

Though toast can also be a medium for my morning creativity, oatmeal is a beautifully blank slate. And sprinkling or smearing a few easy ingredients on top (especially tasty treats from the local co-op) takes little patience. 

Eating in dining halls robs me of the patience-building exercise of homemade cooking, which I return to this week (finally, since the times when I cannot cook are my sad times of the day). However, cooking takes much less patience (for me) than the art of claymation (which I have not explored but I take the behind-the-scenes features' word for it). 

Oatmeal kind of looks like clay, and oatmeal is an impressively health-laden breakfast that sticks to your ribs like clay. Thankfully oatmeal is not clay (though with McDonald's one can't be so sure: "even the oatmeal contains seven ingredients, including 'natural flavor'").

Oatmeal Gallery (gluten-free if gluten-free oats, vg)
Since I ate in the dining hall, I did not have to cook this oatmeal (and I like mine chewy, so I am looking forward to cooking my own soon!). Hence I do not have a special oatmeal-making technique to include of my own doing. . . so here is a link to simple oatmeal (and myriad other grain) preparation!

Uncinnamonyum! Oatmeal
Ingredients: cardamom, raw pumpkin seeds, banana slices.

Plumana Mannameal
Ingredients: sliced plum (yes, there were plums in the dining halls!), raw walnuts, raspberry jam, banana slices.

Choco-kiwi-cash Oatmeal
Ingredients: unsweetened cocoa powder, raw cashews, sliced kiwi (not from dining hall, sadly . . .).

Raisinnut Oatmeal
Ingredients: cinnamon, pink salt, raw hazelnuts, peanut butter, banana slices.


Peachy Pecan Pie Oatmeal
Ingredients: cinnamon, unsweetened coconut flakes, raw pecans, sliced peach (yes, from dining hall too!).


Ap-pear-ently Strawberried Oatmeal
Ingredients: apricot jam, freeze-dried strawberries, raw walnuts pieces, fresh pear chunks (yup, pears make a regular ap-pear-ence in the halls of dining).

"That Looks Practical" Oatmeal
Ingredients: cinnamon, cinnamon apple sauce, raw cocoa nibs, raw pumpkin seeds.

Another idea to try that was not pictured: a touch of pumpkin butter to make pumpkin puff oatmeal, as sold in Pumpkin Land!

The (Gluten-free) Dining Hall Gourmet 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

(eat s'more) better butter!

"Eat s'more bedder budder"? Is that what you said? I could've sworn . . . Oh, right, that's because you did just say "bedder budder." Don't believe me? Try saying "better butter" aloud.  

Still don't believe me? Well, it's called intervocalic alveolar flapping, which means your vocal cords are vibrating when you say your vowels and hence what we think of as a "t" between those "e" and "u" vowels is sounding more like a "d". And Wikipedia corroborates my linguistic lesson. Another one to try out is saying "kiddy" and "kitty" side-by-side.

From what you've read above, are you sure I'm not a "hack writer"? Are you an italic aficionado? Do we all use italics more than "necessary"? So when should we use italics? Herein lies a possible answer. BUT AS THE PURDUE OWL SITE SAYS, USING ALL-CAPS "throughout a message can create the unintended impression of shouting and is therefore discouraged." WHAT ABOUT ALL-CAPS AND ITALICS FOR EMPHASIS? HMMMM?

Is it time to talk about these photos of phood shrouding this text? I should say so! And you'll surely be requesting another batch of s'more better butter ASAP!

better pumpkin butter (gluten-free, indubitably vegan if agave/maple syrup in place of honey)

3 Tablespoons of honey (or agave nectar or maple syrup. You may need 4 to 5 Tablespoons of honey, depending on your desire to keep the sugar levels lower or satisfy your sweet tooth)
1 can of pumpkin (15 oz.)
2 generous pinches of salt (I used my favorite pink salt!)
4 pinches nutmeg (or another common spice (I wouldn't recommend that much cayenne pepper!), as is discussed below under Plump Pumpkin S'mores)

Simply mix the ingredients together with some sort of utensilish object. I mixed mine right in a jar that once housed apple butter, which provided a convenient mixing locale and storage container. Keep it refrigerated, and spread on whatever you like!

Serving Suggestions:
Plump Pumpkin S'mores
 Some gluten-free graham crackers (Kinnikinnick) plus simple dark chocolate (Divine, which is equal exchange!) go great with a dollop of better pumpkin butter. Common pumpkin pie spices (cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, ginger) and uncommon pumpkin pie spices (cardamom, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper) would be exciting editions to the pumpkin butter before topping with the second half o the cracker. Also, a marshmallow could be placed inside along with all the ingredients pictured, of course!

Pecan-topped Pumpkin Tort
Especially since I ripped rather than sliced my tortilla pieces (I've been operating the last 9 weeks without my own kitchen, so my standards of presentation have been temporarily lowered), this is an easy snack that is far from the complication of a torte! I used Food for Life brand rice-tapioca tortillas to sandwich in some pumpkin butter, which can be sprinkled with cinnamon and nutmeg inside the tortilla-wich. A pecan on top is for good measure & good fats & protein!

ENJOY YOUR NEW-FOUND LINGUISTIC & ENGLISH ORTHOGRAPHIC CONVENTION KNOWLEDGE! (. . . and don't throw it away or put it next to the trash!)

Saturday, November 05, 2011

{Squash}ed by an Angel{-haired variety}

Sometimes clips I watched on television as a child are remarkably vivid memories. Sure, I "experienced" watching these scenes, but it's just plain weird to have Disney feel like a first-hand recollection--without any conscious memory of my accompanying surroundings, body, or interactions.

Do other people have TV memories? Probably. And I venture to guess that other people have visions of TV shows and movies spontaneously pop into their heads, either triggered by a few words or notes they hear, something fractured they see, or a random surfacing of deep-brain remembrance that's reminiscent of a dolphin leaping out of the ocean (or a snake surfacing in a swamp).

As I process old memories of 90s sappy cheesiness (and cuteness), I crave something slightly sappy and completely uncheesy. Let us go on to the kitchen and crunch into some angel-haired spaghetti squash! How are we gonna do that? Well, follow along below!

Anti-pasta Spaghetti Divine (gf. vegan if maple syrup in lieu of honey)

Ingredients: (scale up to more for a bigger squash)
1 small spaghetti squash (approx. 4-6 cups cooked)
2 Tablespoons of honey (you could try maple syrup if you want to be sappy)
some thyme (fresh or dried--I had the luck of thyme on my side . . . there was still some fresh among the autumn leaves!)
1 large pinch of coriander (basil, oregano, cumin . . . try out whatever you have on hand!)
a couple shakes of salt on each half
1/4 cup walnuts (and I liked using the end of a bag with the powdery wal-dust!)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Puncture the squash thrice with a very sharp knife (it will cry a bit, as pictured below). 

Place the whole squash into a baking dish with sides (so it won't roll out) and bake for about 45 minutes (more time for bigger squash).

When the squash is done (it should turn a bit golden brown on the hard outer shell on the bottom of it and have a bit of give if you push into the skin with an oven mitten on), slice in half. Once it's cool enough that you aren't burning your poor hands, scoop out the inner seeds along with the squash (this part of the angel-hair decadence is generally a bit bitter) and discard. With your two squash-halves facing upwards, pour one Tablespoon of honey into each half (more honey, of course, if bigger halves), followed by sprinkling on the other ingredients: thyme, coriander, salt, walnuts.

I tried eating this both with and without stirring the honey and toppings into the squash with a fork. Either way is tasty. Same goes for refrigeration v. roasting-hot: fresh and fridged noms are equal delights.

I cut the squash 3 times. It cried & drooled, but it did not retaliate.


I hope the yummy-ness never ends!
Because life's a happy game.