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Weekend Baking

As the temperature hit the single digits over the weekend, it seemed absurd not to have the oven on constantly as a source of comfort food and extra heat. I’m not crazy about snow or arctic-inspired seasons unless accompanied by holidays and a break from school and work, so January and February (and sometimes March, April, and May in the Midwest) are all about biding time until peeling off winter coats and scarves in the sunshine of spring is a reality. After a few forays into the icy cold streets and waiting in the wind chill for late buses (living without a car in a medium-sized city will crush all illusions of happy public transportation in due time!), baking cookies and tending a warm, crusty loaf of bread seemed like a much better plan.

In 2009 and 2010 I lived without a real kitchen for about 8 months and the majority of my diet was PBJ and Peanut Butter Panda Puffs, so not surprisingly, I was not so into peanut butter after that. I’ll eat a PBJ if absolutely necessary, but it’s never my first choice for lunch anymore. But of course, desserts are another story, so sometimes peanut butter cookies sound like an absolutely fantastic idea. This weekend I reached for the Soft Peanut Butter Cookies recipe from The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur, which is my go-to peanut butter cookie recipe.

I was looking to make a standard whole wheat bread, but while flipping through my recipe binder I came across a molasses rye bread with caraway and raisins (recipe here). I made the bread pretty much as directed, except I couldn’t find raisins in the cabinet and left them out.

Still craving regular bread, I made a standard whole wheat bread recipe. I like to replace 1/2 cup flour in any given bread recipe with wheat gluten flour (the kind you use to make seitan) because it makes the bread fluffy and soft. While searching through the cupboard for some kind of seed or herb to add to the bread, I came across my giant bag of sunflower seeds and dumped some in the dough at the last minute while kneading. They made a wonderful addition for a little toothsome crunch throughout the loaf. I ended up using this loaf for BBQ seitan sandwiches with ginger sesame red cabbage slaw.

Stay warm, everyone! Bread and cookies are the answer to snow and subzero temperatures. Unless you’re in a warm climate, and in that case, I am extremely envious!

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The Kombucha/Vega Challenge [video]

My kombucha addiction is no secret. I love the stuff. Besides being an absolutely delightful drink, the chia seed variety has happy memories attached to it! I tried it for the first time en route to the very first Vida Vegan Con last year and soon found that others at the conference enjoyed it just as much.
Now, kombucha in general is a hit or miss for some people. They claim it tastes like vinegar, old apple cider, and fungus…but haters gonna hate. When chia seed kombucha became more popular, the outcry against the fermented love bubble tea was outrageous and rampant! People were personally offended and threatening to barf at the sight of the bottle because the chia seeds look like frog eggs. So then I became personally offended* and made sure that everyone knew how wonderful the chia wonder drink is. I got a few people to try it, and now they’re hooked on the stuff. Solidarity!

*I wasn’t really personally offended.

Now, if you need more convincing:
Even Erica Shaffer loves kombucha. She represents TV products such as the Food Saver System, Ninja blenders, and Shake Weight, so this highly-esteemed infomercial queen’s recommendation should not be taken lightly. Erica knows what’s what and kombucha is just that. The uncertainty of the gentleman in the photo suggests he is not down with the ‘buch, but he probably is not down with fun, happiness, or taste either. For goodness sake, his shirt matches his bedroom and he’s probably reading the dictionary. What a boring dude. Erica, leave your pretend boyfriend and find a guy who truly understands the scoby lifestyle.

So, getting back to the point, the following video may or may not have converted another member to the Kombucha Kult. You’ll just have to watch and see.

Last week I was in Omaha visiting Isa and John. From the very beginning of my affection for chia seed kombucha, John has been quite a vocal opponent. He said he’d puke on my face if he took a sip. He said he’d make me drink Vega if he were to try chia seed kombucha.
Well, I’m not one to pass up a hypothetical gross drink showdown, so when 3D real-life me arrived in Omaha, chia seed kombucha was acquired and challenge accepted. A taste of Vega? Psh, no big! Apparently I was willing to risk The Laziest Vegan in the World projectile vomiting a week’s worth of Amy’s burritos all over my face, because the Vega/Chia Kombucha Showdown became a reality:

SPOILERS BELOW!
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So, John said kombucha is good! Well, as time went by, I think he started to think it was more than good because he wanted more kombucha.

We went to Whole Foods the next day and loaded up.

Will John like the two new flavors (one without chia seeds!) as well? Here’s part two of the challenge:

SPOILERS BELOW!
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So, I think he’s converted. We got another round of kombucha the next day (Isa too, this time!).

I left Omaha three days ago, but what does John send me today? This photo that proudly displays his beverage selection: Grape Chia Seed Kombucha. Though several hundred miles away, I pulled out the lonely Cherry Chia sitting in my fridge and drank in solidarity. Go kombucha.

What a whirlwind! I think we need a lifetime supply of kombucha for this ode to the baby scoby nectar of deliciousness. Please, GT’s? We love you!

Thanks for following through the journey, everyone! Drink up, baby scobies!

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MoFo #5: Pumpkin Beer, Brunch, and Bread

Surprise! I’ve jumped on the pumpkin bandwagon. With countless varieties of winter squash popping up in every grocery store and farmer’s market all over the place, it’s pretty difficult not to put roasted squash in everything or make every kind of pumpkin baked good. This newfound squash fixation forced me to do something I’ve never done before: bake with freshly roasted pumpkin! Eff that canned sadness! When I learned that canned pumpkin is actually almost always squash, I started roasting squash like nobody’s business. It’s so much easier than I imagined. Glass baking dish filled with a shallow water bath, squash halves face down, then about 30 minutes in a 400°F oven. Butternut squash seems to be the easiest to slice through and has a nice smooth, sweet flavor.

Working with what’s in season isn’t always ideal when writing a cookbook because of the amount of recipes needed at odd times of the year, deadlines, etc, but I’m really taking advantage of pumpkin and apple cider season. Plus these deadlines are currently self-imposed. I’m milking (I mean “liberating the potentials of succulent winter squash”) this pumpkin abundance for all it’s worth.

The first roasted butternut experiment was the Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World with a fluffy cinnamon buttercream, sprinkles, and gold lustre-dusted cinnamon stick garnish. I brought them in for one of my classes a couple weeks ago.

A few months ago I made pancakes with beer. It adds a lot of fluff to the texture and a beer bread flavor throughout the pancake. With pumpkin beer in season, I got inspired and decided to make Pumpkin Beer Pumpkin Pie Pancakes. Fresh roasted pumpkin, pumpkin beer, and an array of pumpkin pie spices give these pancakes the essence of autumn. They’re not too sweet, which lets the spicy flavors shine through. The beer flavor can be overpowering if too much is used, so here it just acts as a background of flavor to the pancakes, balanced with the other flavors.

So this one isn’t pumpkin or squash, but it was inspired by the Pumpkin French Toast at Blossoming Lotus in Portland, OR. This is Sweet Potato Pie French Toast with coconut whipped cream.

This really just started with an abundance of sweet potatoes at my disposal and some thick sourdough bread in my line of sight around brunch time, then I remembered the Pumpkin French Toast I’ve been dreaming of for the past few months. I got really interested in looking up drinks made with sweet potato (which led to reading a bartender’s book and googling the distillation processes and serving customs of a bunch of different fancy liquors) and came across the Sweet Potato Potato Pie Cocktail. This french toast has all the flavors of this warm, fuzzy season: sweet potato, rum, apple cider, and fresh spices, all topped with a dollop of coconut cream.

Pumpkin beer strikes again! Living in the city where pumpkin beer (and many other kinds of beer) is made, this stuff is everywhere. I decided to go with a traditional beer bread this time, but bake pumpkin beer and pumpkin into it, then bake as pizza crust! Topped with onions, bell peppers (which almost gave me food poisoning and were swiftly removed from the pizza. Don’t use the wrinkly bell peppers!), and a sprinkle of Daiya, it was perfectly delicious. Except for the quick wave of nausea when my whole life flashed in front of me after the psychedelic bell peppers. It was indeed quick, for no one’s allowed to get sick during Vegan MoFo.

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A short film about vegan cookies! [video]

I don’t have any new cookies this week, but I swear I will get my ass in gear and get some brand new cookie recipes put together soon!
For this post, I’d like to showcase the amazing work of my good friend, Andi Woodward. She did an interview with me about cookies and veganism and made a short film for her sound and image class, and here it is, featuring cupcakes, VwaV, and profane alphabet refrigerator magnets!

You can view Andi’s other work here.

Kelly Peloza: Vegan Cookie Connoisseur from Andi Woodward on Vimeo.

Kelly Peloza: Vegan Cookie Connoisseur from Andi Woodward on Vimeo.

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Cinnamon Rollz with Snickerdoodle Topping, Chai Cookies [recipes!]

I had a whole bunch of leftover snickerdoodle cookies and they were getting old. You can’t just throw away snickerdoodles, but they can be given new life as a streusel-like topping!
I made these cinnamon rolls (Evan’s recipe, of course) for my friend Alexis’ end of the semester shindig last week. Halfway through baking, I scattered a mixture of crumbled cookies, brown sugar, agave nectar, a bit of flour, and a splash of soy milk, atop the cinnamon rolls and continued baking.
Thereafter, I still drizzled them with icing, making these super sweet and buttery.

I’m going to re-post the Snickerdoodle recipe here again. I fixed the confusion about the two listings of cornstarch in the ingredients list, and the picture shows up this time!

Snickerdoodles
Makes about 3-4 dozen

3/4 cup margarine
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup soy milk
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 325°F.
Cream together the margarine and sugar until fluffy. Add the vanilla, soy milk, and 2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch and mix until incorporated.

Sift in the flour, baking powder, salt, 1 teaspoon cornstarch, and cinnamon. Stir. If the dough is too dry and crumbly, add a splash of soy milk. It shouldn’t be sticky though.

Mix the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Form the dough into 1 1/2″ balls and roll in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet and flatten slightly. Bake for about 12 minutes until golden around the edges, but still soft on top, then transfer to a wire cooling rack.

The Chai Cookies in the book are a redux of the Snickerdoodles, infused with black tea and chai spice. The recipe for those is currently posted on Earth Balance’s Made Just Right website, so check it out if you’d like to make them! They are my good friend Louzilla‘s go-to cookies for any occasion! L4 endorsed!

I am currently in the process of figuring out what to do about updating the blog in terms of design, user-friendliness, possibly getting a domain…we shall see what comes of that! However, the blogroll is brand new and updated as of yesterday! No more MySpace links and lots of great blogs and vegan websites to check out!

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Recap: MelisserKelly Brooklyn book signing. Also, I didn’t eat any cookies in NYC.


Mmmmm…above we have the bakery case at the new Champ’s Family Bakery in Brooklyn, NY. Everything is 100% vegan and they are lucky enough to have the cinnamonrollconnoisseur, Evan of bjorkedoff as a baker there. I’m still lusting after those cake rolls that I was thinking about the whole trip, but somehow never ended up trying!

Here is a strawberry cream cheese brownie I ate the morning of the signing:

Before the signing, Jen, Isa, John, Amy, and I indulged in a meal at Foodswings, then headed over to Champs. I don’t know how the room didn’t explode with so much awesome! I’d go on forever listing all the super nice lovely people we got to spend the evening with, like Isa’s mom, Terry, and Moby (yes, Moby!). Luckily we took lots and lots of pictures.

One of the tables of delicious baked goods

We made lots of vegan sammiches, such as:

The LouzillaKellyIsa Sammich

The IsaKellyTerry Sammich

The AmandaIsaLouzilla Sammich
So many people have said all of them look like one another, which is what prompted this photo. Terry too!

The night ended with lots of attack hugs, a trip to Lula’s for more ice cream, and lots of silliness.
Always lots of silliness.

But in all seriousness, thank you so much to everyone who attended this event, and made it such a wonderful time! Thanks to everyone for coming out to all these book events, buying vegan cookbooks from the authors, and showing the world how fantastic veganism can be! To be a part of the movement is so fulfilling (and +1 yummy!) and I’m at my happiest getting lost in brand new cities looking for vegan eats and hanging out with like-minded people.

That said, I am nearly positive San Francisco is next, in January! Info will be released once things are squared away, so keep updated via Twitter and Facebook!
And Horchata Cookies are going to happen in my kitchen in the near future! ❤

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Recap of Boswell signing, MKE’s Vegan Cookies segment, and Riverwest Co-op signing this weekend!

MoFo is over (just in time for my finals) so this blog will be getting a little more love (and updates!) like SBYM got throughout November.
Thanksgiving break was absolutely crazy! I think the whole weekend comprised of working and homework. It was fun, but I was ready to pass out after it all. I was on the Milwaukee news on Black Friday (video here), then spent the rest of the day in Chicago (nomnomz Diner).

Sunday was a book signing at Boswell Book Company, an awesome local bookstore with a great selection run by super nice people. Support your local bookstores!

For the event, I made hypnosis lollipops, cashew cappuccino nanaimo bars, and thin mints, all in the book of course.

Signing bookz

Over 20 books were sold during the hour-ish and a great mix of people came out to the signing.
Awesome! Thanks, Boswell!

For a new segment of Milwaukee’s Vegan Cookies, I have more East Side Ovens cookies I picked up at the bakery of Outpost Co-op over the weekend.

Chocolate Pecan Sandies
These may be my favorite ESO cookies that I’ve tried. They were decadent, flavorful, and nutty, and didn’t taste “healthy” at all, which is something I’ve noticed in some of their other cookies. They’re still awesome, but I’m partial to the most hedonistic desserts I can find.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip
These were pretty good! Lightly flavored, and bursts of chocolate.

Speaking of co-ops, the Riverwest Co-op in Milwaukee has amazing food. And I’m going to be doing a book signing there this Sunday, December 12th from 11am-2pm! If you’re in the area, I’d love to meet you, so c’mon out, get some delicious brunch, cookie, samples, and a book!
I keep the “Events” page at the top of the blog updated with upcoming events, so check it out! I hope to see you guys in Chicago later this month! (And I’ll post about New York with Melisser once finals week is over and I’m not dead!)