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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Soaked Butternut Squash Waffles

Soaked Butternut Squash Waffles

our home is located on the top floor of a 4 storied building, sometimes when i'm feeling particularly boughetto i might say that we live in the penthouse. we don't know our neighbors, save for edward who lives on the bottom floor, who is so fabulous and extravagant with his speech i find myself making exaggerated gestures and pronunciations, too, when i run into him in the building foyer. tho we rarely interact with the people below us, we certainly can hear them with the occasional backdoor slamming or pitter patter of their children's feet.

the little nest that we're creating is a mish mash of books, photography set up and have mercy, kitchen toys that have no home in the tiny urban galley kitchen so they spill into the hallway and living room. it's a lovely mix of chaos and order, i know exactly where to find my spoon props but damn if i don't panic when i can't find a whisk, ANY WHISK, to whip up some eggs.

Soaked Butternut Squash Waffles

over the holiday weekend we spent our days sleeping in, sitting warm & cozy on the couch watching reruns of housewives of atlanta and miami, a recent horrible guilty pleasure i've picked up, crocheting or reading. in the kitchen a bouquet of citrus, cloves, cinnamon & rosemary simmered on the stove, permeating thru the entire abode with all that is right with autumn, but without the cold and fog and rotting leaves.

not ones to partake in crazy black friday shenanigans we somehow found ourselves at a local hh gregg on small business saturday, looking to replace a very old television i had inherited. the irony was not lost on us! and so sunday morning, we awoke early to "correct" our sleeping pattern for the coming work week and noshed on these waffles, spending the rest of the day lounging in front of our new non-kitchen related toy.

Soaked Butternut Squash Waffles

Soaked Butternut Squash Waffles ~ Vegan
adapted from Minimalist Baker

for the soak:
1 1/4 cup organic pastry flour (methinks regular AP or spelt flour would be fine)
scant cup of almond milk
juice of half lemon

1/2 TBL baking powder
1/4 cup + 1 TBL brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/4 cup butternut squash puree
2 TBL brown rice syrup
1 TBL canola oil
1 flax egg (1 TBL flaxseed meal + 2 1/2 TBL water)

the night before combine flour + almond milk + lemon juice. mix, cover, go to bed.

morning of: preheat waffle iron.
make flax egg by combining water and flaxseed in a large bowl and letting rest for 5 minutes
meanwhile, in the bowl with the soaked flour, add in the rest of the ingredients (baking powder, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, butternut squash puree, brown rice syrup & oil)

when waffle iron is sufficiently hot, spoon about 1/2 cup of the batter onto the center of the iron and cook according to your machine’s instructions.
makes about 12 square waffles. serve warm with honey and pat of vegan butter.

note: the brown rice syrup was used because we didn't have molasses handy. it added a slight warm burnt dimension to the waffles, particularly in areas where your waffle iron might be hotter than others...
i should also add that while i did the soaking process, dw is the weekend breakfast maker and he did the rest of the steps for the waffles & made them for us. i was too busy in the living room playing with all the buttons on the remote control.

this is my contribution to the Food Matters Project, a weekly reminder that we are a perishable item and we need to eat accordingly. we draw our inspiration from Mark Bittman's cookbook of the same name. this week was sponsored by Jen of Prairiesummers. if you'd like to join in the fun, invest in the cookbook & check out the schedule for what recipe is hot for the week.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

banana cranberry bread ~ again

banana bread 3

we are slowly, but surely, going into hibernation mode, i can feel it settle in my heart. all i desire are long naps with my beloved, to lose myself in a good book, or tangle my fingers in a crochet pattern. it is that bleak time of year where i fight the urge to disappear. instead, now i make every attempt to be out & about, to immerse myself in the season. i can't fight it, so i might as well join it.

with the blustery winds of november comes the desire to bake more. the tiny kitchen we share is always bustling with a pot simmering on the stove, something rising on the counter and of course, a sweet confection baking in the oven. during a freezer clean i came upon a container of frozen bananas, leftover from a summer of smoothies. tho they were an unappealing brown mess, i overlooked their appearance and decided on bread.

the thing with banana bread is that it's kind of pedestrian, everyone likes it, even if you don't hold an affinity for the actual fruit itself. there are so many varying recipes - with nuts, without, dairy doom or completely vegan - do you add the chocolate chips or swirl of peanut butter? lastly, it is easy, sometimes even proper, to declare that the most recent incarnation of it is the best, even if your eye is already moving onto the next recipe. ahem...

for this particular offering i give you a version that is both dairy free and gluten free. tho i have no intolerance for grains/flours/gluten, it's nice to use softer ingredients like almond or coconut flour sometimes. plus i find them much easier to manage by hand.

i threw in a handful of dried cranberries into the batter, as been done before, and in lieu of the butter, i used coconut oil. for the coconut milk, i used so delicious's coconut creamer, which is my new jam to add to my morning cup of coffee. click here for the recipe.

banana bread

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Pretzel Challah Balls ~ victories

pretzel challah

i guess i should make it widely known (or as widely known as this blog readership is...) that i base a great deal of my cooking and baking endeavors not only on the usuals, like pantry staples, seasons, and palette desires, but also on success expectancy. i am a true believer that failure is an excuse to try again, that getting back on one's feet is not only an indication of character and moral fiber, but true grit.

rejection is a hard thing, it can be a siege to your confidence. there's a reason why you need to get right back on the horse if you fall off, cus if you don't then, you won't ever again.

i remember when i was a kid, maybe 6th grade? the cute boy across the street was skateboarding outside and offered to let me try. i fell, hit my face on the curb, broke my glasses and scabbed my knee. the right thing to do, after, you know, wiping the blood, making sure my face wasn't broken and grabbing my extra pair of specs, was to get back on the board, actually listen to him as he explained the intricacies of balance and all that stuff. instead, i pretended that i wasn't hurt, i took my broke ass, as well as my wounded pride, into the house where i got cleaned up. to this day, skateboarding is dead to me.

pretzel challah

my experience with pretzel making has been iffy. the first time i made it i was disappointed that my shaping skills were lacking. the 2nd time i made it was to serve chicken pot pie in it and while it tasted good, it certainly didn't taste like a pretzel. however, i got back on the proverbial saddle and tried again, this time pretzel challah, cus you know, why not add another challenge?

i like challah, because it is always dairy free, so therefore, angry asian friendly. this particular recipe was posted on the huffington post and i had to try my hand at it. i'm glad i did. the only things i did differently was i used bread flour instead of regular AP (very slowly but surely using up the last of my stash of gluten flours) and i broke down the steps into a two day process, shaping the challah and allowing it to rest overnight.

finally, victory was mine. i can now move onto something else. meanwhile this week our country was in the throes of election mania. to some people it was defeat, for others it was vindication, victory. regardless of party affiliation the fact of the matter is that women came out to be heard, Latinos showed their support, and the younger generation stepped up. that is victory. this was my 2nd time voting and i'm glad for the opportunity to do so.

pretzel challah

my other challah recipes:
chocolate challah ball ~ speaking of failures! i was so dramatic in this post...

Monday, November 5, 2012

Braised Venison with Potatoes & Carrots

venison stew

i don't know how it was for you growing up but dinner was a big thing in both households i grew up in. i always ate at the table with my grandparents, silently picking at my bowl of rice, observing my gpa dipping a morsel of meat into the chili fish sauce, and mainly resisting the urge to ask if i could have a sip of water. when i lived with my parents it was a little more formal, complete with napkins and our very own place mats. moral of this story: we always ate dinner as a family.

in my own household now it's no different. ok, fine, it is different in that i am allowed to have a beverage with my meal, and if i so choose, i can have dessert first.

these days dinner is a faux formal affair. we have our beverages, linen napkins (dw is so very civilized, i love it) plate or bowl of food on the coffee table and jeopardy on the tube. we don't say grace, nor do we ask to be excused, but we do try to keep our noise level to a minimum as we attempt to show alex trebek that we're really smart.

venison stew

being smart aside, it's venison season again and i've stocked up the freezer with recently hunted deer.

this is my contribution to the Food Matters Project, a weekly reminder that we are a perishable item and we need to eat accordingly. we draw our inspiration from Mark Bittman's cookbook of the same name. this week was sponsored by Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla. if you'd like to join in the fun, invest in the cookbook & check out the schedule for what recipe is hot for the week.

venison stew

my other venison posts:

Thursday, November 1, 2012

homemade chicken + orzo soup

chicken soup 3

when the weather (that again!) finally catches up to you, and slips past your best sickness defenses, fret not, for here is a recipe versatile enough to accommodate the most picky of palettes but warm & soothing enough to combat the seasonal aches. my beloved fell ill recently, what started out with a murmured tickle in his throat metamorphasized into a full blown cold.

i have never been known to be sympathetic to illness, in fact, he previously declared me "the shittiest nurse in the world". this time i endeavored to overturn such a damning title. tasked with soothing his overly-warmed brow i set about clearing the fridge of scraps of vegetables and herbs, and finally grabbing the bag of chicken bones from the freezer to make a hearty stock, which is the base for this soup.

i never make the same stock every time, but the premise is the same: in a crock pot add in a gallon full bag of chicken bones that you've hopefully been collecting/saving, 2 bay leaves, palm-full of peppercorns, 2 cinnamon sticks, 12 cloves, and whatever random herbs like thyme or even rosemary. add water to cover, healthy sprinkle of salt, set to low and ignore overnight. you can then divide into containers to freeze or use immediately. just be sure to skim off the fat on top (if you're not using) and to strain the liquid thru a cheese cloth.

this is a very simple soup, it satisfies hunger but also works to fortify the system. your body is a perishable commodity, protect it from the coming season's onslaught while still reveling in what it has to offer. stay healthy friends!

also, we were lucky and blessed in that Hurricane Sandy passed over us with minimal damage to our home. i wish we could say the same for our friends/neighbors/fellow humans up along the east coast, particularly down in the eastern shore, nyc and jersey areas. any discomfort and inconvenience i am experiencing is trivial compared to their loss and my thoughts are with those affected by the storm. take good care, dear friends.

homemade chicken + orzo soup

homemade stock, or canned
3 large carrots, skinned & diced
3 large celery stalks, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, finely diced
1/2 container of dried orzo pasta
olive oil
shredded chicken, i used an already made kosher rotisserie chicken
2 TBL raw cider vinegar (optional)

in a big pot heat up some olive oil. in layers, add the carrots, celery, onion and garlic. season each layer with salt & pepper. this is important as the stock has minimal seasoning. when the carrots have softened a smidge and the onions are turning translucent add the stock.

bring to a brisk boil, at high.

add the orzo pasta. lower temp to maybe medium high. it should take about 7-9 minutes for the orzo to cook thru. this is a big pot of soup that you will not finish in one sitting, unless you have plenty of people over dinner, so the subsequent bowls you'll have will have overdone or even mushy orzo but don't worry, it's still good.

season according to taste, add in the cider vinegar if using

in a bowl, ladle the soup in and top with as much shredded chicken as you want. personally, when i have a cold i like to sweat it out and adding a bit of heat to soup does that. i added a healthy sprinkling of sriracha to my bowl and it was fantastic.