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Blog changes

Hey everyone!

New blog new blog!

As you may know, I’ve started a new blog called Seitan Beats Your Meat at http://www.seitanbeatsyourmeat.com, which will now be my primary blog for recipes, food photography, and vegan-related news. You’ll find more information on the new blog over there. Along with that, The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur will soon be redirected over there, so update your RSS feed.

Vegan cookies

What about The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur? I’ve been thinking about it for awhile and as for this blog, I am in the process of moving the content of The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur to vegancookies.wordpress.com. This was originally just to host the blog archives for reference, but now I’m looking at it as an opportunity to bring the focus back to what started this blog: vegan cookies! I’m keeping it short form: recipes, links to cookie recipes around on the internet, and vegan cookies from stores, restaurants, and bakeries. Basically vegan cookie HQ. I’d love to publish reader submissions as well, so please email me recipes, links to your blog posts, guest posts, or other vegan cookie-related news and I’ll be happy to feature you. Just keep it vegan, of course.

See you on the new blog(s)!

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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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Chicago Vegan Bake Sale for Japan and MKE bake sales coming up in May!

Finally, the long-awaited bake sale post! I attended one of Chicago’s Vegan Bake Sales for Japan at the beginning of the month and even as a baker, it was one of the few times in my life being surrounded by hundreds, maybe over a thousand cookies, cupcakes, brownies, cakes, and everything in between. The picture above is what I brought: sugar cookie lollipops, vanilla cupcakes, and tropical rum and coke cupcakes.
This bake sale was seriously decked out, and raised an amazing $1526 over the course of 5 hours. There were several other bake sales going on the weekend of April 3rd, as well as throughout the month, and continuing in May. Vegan bake sales around the country easily raised over $10,000 just that weekend, so imagine how much is raised as bake sales are being held regularly, especially with the recent surge of sales in the aftermath of the Japan tragedy. Between the tight-knit nature of the vegan community and the desire to be positive and help when disaster strikes, vegan bake sales are just one way the vegan community is actively making a difference everyday. High five!

Before we get to the cookies, I wanted to touch on an issue that presented itself before this specific bake sale, and was a topic of conversation that day. When the announcement for this bake sale was posted online, it received a disproportionate amount of hateful, ignorant comments that ranged from comments like “sorry. I hate catastrophic earthquakes, but I hate vegans even more” to stupid vegan jokes to the absurdity of a vegan bake sale because it’s not possible to make vegan lemon meringue pie. In general, just argumentative comments about the bake sale being vegan. As if it were crazy to raise money for a humanitarian cause and not exploit animals in the process. Or have baked goods that both vegans and non-vegans can eat.
All I have to say to that is…shut up and start your own non-vegan bake sale if you really care. Jessica, the organizer of this bake sale, got in contact with a few of the naysayers and told them that very same thing, or offered to collaborate in the future to make an even bigger bake sale and raise more money for a good cause. Were they responsive? Nope!

In lieu of lemon meringue pie (I’ve never had lemon meringue pie…am I missing out on something earth-shattering? Though maybe we’ll find a recipe in Isa and Terry’s upcoming pie book!), here is the Chicago Vegan Bake Sale for Japan:

Red velvet whoopie pies!

Root Beer Float Cupcakes (from My Sweet Vegan, I’m guessing)

Bleeding Heart Bakery cupcakes

S’mores Cupcakes

The Ste Martaen vegan food truck came by with some real food to quell our sugar high. This is the Carolina BBQ sandwich.

Here’s what I ended up bringing home with me. Clockwise from upper left: scotcharoos, apple pie turnover (atop a red velvet whoopie pie), green tea raw cheesecake, red velvet cake balls, Bleeding Heart peanut butter and chocolate cupcakes, cookie dough cupcakes, green tea mini cupcake, and raw coconut bar.
Frosting cupcakes with cookie dough is pure genius! Yum yum yum.

Great job, everyone! Can’t wait for the next one!

Speaking of bake sales, there are TWO that are coming up soon in Milwaukee.

Cookies for Kids’ Cancer Bake Sale & Silent Auction – Milwaukee
Saturday, May 21, 2011
1 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Best Place At The Historic Pabst Brewery
901 W. Juneau Ave.
More info: www.mkefoodies.com
Facebook invite: http://on.fb.me/gQWLAo
Donation page: http://cookiesforkidscancer.kintera.org/mkefoodies
Cookies for Kids’ Cancer: www.cookiesforkidscancer.org

This sale isn’t exclusively vegan, but there will be many clearly labeled vegan goodies available! So far, I know that my friend Amy and I will be there with baked goods. The awesome organizer, Lori, called out for vegan bakers a few weeks ago, so I’m sure there will be lots more! Come out and support a great cause! See, vegan and non-vegan bake sales can co-exist!

The next Milwaukee vegan bake sale will be on…
Saturday, May 14, 2011, from 10 AM – 5 PM at
Urban Ecology Center
Riverside Park branch
1500 E. Park Pl.
Milwaukee, WI 53211

Plan to come out to the next bi-annual Milwaukee Vegan Bake Sale, and check out the website to sign up on the google doc to donate baked goods.

I know that I’ve been very absent from the blog (and Seitan Beats Your Meat) lately. That’s mostly because I’ve been absolutely slammed with final projects lately. My semester is ending in less than two weeks, so when I’m not in the studio shooting for final photography projects or writing papers, I’m trying to get a few hours of sleep at night, or trying to relax a bit. My writing would have probably reflected my current mush of a brain right now, so I waited to tackle these blog posts! I just finished a huge research paper, so the next couple weeks will be busy, but a little more manageable! The work on the blogs I’ve done recently has been very little things here and there (as well as guest posting on other blogs), and I’m currently working on logos and re-vamping them, so good things will be coming eventually!

Weaved into all the school busy-ness, I am trying to figure out how I’m going to spend the summer (besides 13 hour school days twice a week for summer school…yes, I’m crazy), writing recipes, and maaaaybe starting work on a new book. I’m already in the works of planning to bake for my school’s union in the fall, and may be having a preview bake sale at the very beginning of May. I don’t have details ironed out yet, but it will probably be very last minute, so keep updated on Twitter and Facebook if you’re in the area.
To go along with that, I am going to work on selling baked goods locally, offering catering services, and selling online more frequently. Yay! There’s a lot of work that goes into that with deciding on packaging, health codes, ordering ingredients, promoting, designing, business cards, and so much more, so it’ll be a good project to tackle soon! With wedding season coming up, I was thinking about making cookies like the monogrammed V hearts above on a larger scale, or selling online. What would (local and not-local) vegans like to see in the upcoming months?

Another shout out for Mad City Vegan Fest in Madison, WI on June 19th! Mark your calendars! Amongst the awesome lineup of speakers and food demos, I’ll be doing a baking demo.

For more recipes on sugar cookies, check out Reader’s Digest and try your hand at veganizing them.

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New Cookie: Margarita Biscotti. Bleeding Hearts. Circus Animal Cookies.

The full, tangy flavor of a margarita is the perfect match for a crispy buttery biscotti. With lime and tequila baked into the cookie and mixed into the glaze, this cookie encompasses a margarita all in one bite, including the lime and salt garnish.

So, I have a really really hard time getting anything done when I’m at home trying to work because of this bunny. Gnocchi always looks like he wants to come out and play and I can’t resist bunny cuddles, mostly when I’m supposed to be photo editing, writing, cleaning my apartment, doing laundry, etc. CUTECUTECUTE. In my previous post I referred to him as a she because that’s what the rescue said, but I’m pretty sure he’s a boy now. So here he is hanging out in my mixing bowls, because he couldn’t fit in a teacup. ❤

I’m currently on spring break and I spent two days in Chicago and pretty much splurged the whole time. The last time I made the trip down was last November, which is a bit absurd given that I’m only an hour and a half away! I love Chicago, and definitely plan on visiting much more frequently in the near future. I’ll cover the full story of my visit this week on Seitan Beats Your Meat, but the goal was to visit restaurants and bakeries I hadn’t ever been to. One of them was Bleeding Heart Bakery, an organic bakery located in Roscoe Village. They’re not vegan, but offer several different cupcakes, cake balls, bars, brownies, and cookies that are, as well as some gluten-free treats. One of the baked goods I ordered was a basic chocolate chip cookie. It was huuuuge, chewy, lightly flavored, and the chocolate chunks were nice and sweet.

Today on the PPK, I came across someone who made these adorable animal cookies that emulate their non-vegan counterpart, Mother’s Circus Animals. Ashley of the brand new blog, Leaves of Wheatgrass, posted her recipe and process here, as well as photos along the way (her photo is to the left). I remember loving these animal cookies as a kid and it was great to stumble upon this vegan version! Get your hands on some white chocolate and try out Ashley’s recipe!

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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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Talk and baking demo, elementary-style! Catering! **Autographed VCC Giveaway!**

I have quite a few things crammed into this post! And they’re all very exciting!

#1. A couple weeks ago, I went to my friend’s school to talk to his classes about veganism, baking, my book, and art. They seemed very interested, and thought I was HILARIOUS after accidentally uttering the words “shit” and “titties” during my speech. Hah.
We ended the day by baking Giant Bakery Style Double Chocolate Chip Cookies.
Teaching kids about baking and getting in the kitchen with them is something I’d be very interested in doing again in the future! It was so much fun, and they had a blast!

#2. If you’re in the Milwaukee area and would like to order cookies from me for an event, I now am advertising catering services. Click the link at the top of the page for more information! Cookies and prices are currently on a case-by-case basis, but I will get more concrete information up as soon as I can! I’d love to bake for your holiday parties coming up next month, or anything at all, so send me an email at vegancookies@wordpress.com!

#3. Oh hey, I have a contest for a signed copy of The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur, starting NOW!

Write me a haiku
All about vegan cookies,
My lovely readers

If your poem wins
I will bestow upon you
Vegan cookie book

[I’m sure you can write a more eloquent haiku about vegan baked goods that sounds less like caveman speak.]

I am doing a giveaway of a signed copy of The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur, right here, right now! To enter, write a vegan haiku about cookies and post it as a comment on this blog entry!
The contest closes this Thursday at 2pm CST! I’ll select finalists and a panel of judges comprised of awesome vegans will vote on the winner.
I will make a post with the winner and the winning haiku on Friday or Saturday! If it’s you, please send your mailing address ASAP to vegancookies@live.com and I will ship your book on Monday.
**US entries, only please.**

**CONTEST IS CLOSED**

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Buying cookbooks, MoFo, Bake Sales, and Giveaways!

Hey everyone!
You may have noticed the blog got a little makeover, with a shiny new logo that matches the pattern and colors of the book cover, and links to more pages on the blog, above! Contact info, a list of events (I’m hitting the road! Check if I’m coming near you!), links to all the sample recipes I’ve posted, and most importantly, a link to buy books!
Buying through the blog is purchasing your copy directly from me, so it can be signed and all that jazz. Order your very own copy!
Thanks for supporting vegan cookbook authors! ❤

I’m sure you all know about Vegan Month of Food, or Vegan MoFo, which just kicked off the beginning of this week!
I won’t be MoFo’ing from here, but I’m participating on my other blog, Seitan Beats Your Meat! Click the image below (designed by the talented Amanda Chronister of Will Draw for Cookies) to see the blog lineup and to sign up if you haven’t already!

If you’re in the Milwaukee area, we’re having a bake sale on November 13th from 10am-5pm! Here is the official Milwaukee Vegan Bake Sale website. See what other people are bringing, and sign up to donate baked goods. There is a Facebook group set up as well. Pass the message along to your friends, on Facebook, and Twitter!


Rooooot beer float cookies.

And I’m sure you guys want to see some new cookie pictures, so here are some Cranberry Almond Cashew Chocolate Chip Cookies, a variation on the Cranberry Almond Cookies on page 72.

Last but not least, giveaways! For MoFo, there are many blogs that will be doing cookbook (and other fun stuff!) giveaways. Check out this PPK thread for the official list.
A few bloggers will be giving out copies of the Vegan Cookie Connoisseur, including Miso For Breakfast who will also be giving out a whole bunch of other goodies, and Vegan Appetite!

**I will be doing a giveaway with a signed copy of The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur within the next couple weeks! Keep checking back for the official info on entering. I can tell you this much: it will involve writing haiku about cookies!**