Saturday, November 23, 2013

chocolate chocolate chip pomegranate cookies

cookie cookie mmmmm
A week ago, a friend gifted me a box of pomegranates. The day before that, my mother in law gifted me a gallon of pomegranate juice. Since then, I've been splashing pink juice everywhere in the kitchen - peeling and freezing seeds and juice, using the food mill to squish some, and making a ton of pomegranate jelly.

For my hubby's birthday, I made him chocolate cupcakes with pomegranate buttercream frosting and ever since then I've been dreaming about a cookie version. Cupcakes are awesome, but sometimes you need something a little more portable!

Cookies adapted from this recipe. 

1 earth balance buttery stick
1/2 cup of vegetable shortening
2/3 cup of unfiltered cane sugar (or regular white sugar)
2/3 cup of turbinado sugar (or regular brown sugar)
2 tbsp flaxseed mixed with 6 tbsp warm water (let sit for 5 minutes or so)
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or other flour)
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 cups non-dairy semisweet chocolate chips (I love guittard brand - the ones in the yellow package)
1 cup pomegranate seeds (arils) (about 1 medium sized pomegranate)

preheat oven to 350
beat together buttery stick, shortening, sugars, flaxseed mix, and vanilla. beat until creamy (2-3 minutes, I used this time to peel and seed the pomegranate)
mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in batches into buttery stick mixture
mix in cocoa powder
fold in chocolate chips and arils

scoop the dough onto greased baking pans, and place into oven for 10-12 minutes. makes about 3 dozen.

eat, and good luck keeping these away from the other people in your house! the pomegranate seeds stay crisp, and these cookies are fudgy and addicting.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

giant soft pretzels

I've been threatening for weeks to make giant soft pretzels, after my yoga instructor mentioned it during class one day.

I kept putting it off though, because it seemed like an all day project. bread? must rise. then you have to shape them, and rise again. then you have to boil them in baking soda, and rise again. then you actually have to cook them!

But yesterday I was actually free all afternoon, and I took the plunge.

mmmm pretzel
I used this king arthur flour recipe (and king arthur flour!), but I subbed 1/2 the white flour for whole wheat pastry flour. Make's it slightly healthier. I also skipped the butter at the end, but opted to dunk in melted (vegan) butter and rub on a cinnamon sugar coating.

They're pretty good - not as pretzel-y as I'd like, but tasty. 


Sunday, November 3, 2013

the best damn vegan biscuit

I have a confession to make - I love bread. Any kind really - white, wheat, sourdough, biscuit, crackers.. even croutons! 

So you can imagine how hard it was for me to admit that I sucked at making homemade biscuits. They would never fluff up, even the recipes I would fin.d that say they guaranteed a fluffy biscuit. I researched for weeks trying to find the perfect biscuit recipe and I did. 

biscuit, october 2012
But then I went vegan, and all the rules changed. Vegan butter starts to melt immediately, and I went back to having the same flat hockey-puck biscuit problems. 

Until I found the best damn vegan biscuit recipe. The recipe uses almond milk/lemon juice instead of buttermilk. And the combination of frozen butter and the pastry blender works to keep the butter solid and creates fluffy biscuits. 

best damn vegan biscuits
I used a combination of whole wheat and white flour, so they didn't rise as high, but I love the complexity of taste with whole wheat flour. 

One trick that I have found - it only takes about 5 minutes to put these together, but it takes 8 minutes for my oven to preheat to 450. So after I'm done making the biscuits, I pop them in the freezer until the oven is ready. 

All the other tips on the side are gold - leave the batter 1in tall when cutting the biscuits, make sure they touch on the pan, and keep the butter as cold as possible as long as possible. This is not a food-processor recipe, the motor/blades make the fragile vegan butter heat up too quickly. Use a pastry blender, or forks/knives to cut the butter into the flour.

And get some jam! 


Saturday, November 2, 2013

on craft fairs and pinterest

Today I participated in the first-ever Fresno High Flea - a craft/vintage/flea market that takes place in the parking lot at Fresno High.

Usually when I do craft fairs, it's inside a gym and all I get is an 8x4 table. This time, the event was outdoors, and I had an entire 10x10 space to fill. I searched for booth display ideas on pinterest, and sketched out something that I wanted in my mind.

previous booth set up with 8x4 table
I had this idea that I wanted to use 2 ladders on either side of the booth and tie string in between them and then hang up ALL my items on the string. Or it could be a coat rack (like last years) and a ladder. Or whatever I could find.

So I put out the call on my facebook, but no one responded. I started to stress a bit - I didn't want to spend any money on the booth display, but I went searching at thrift stores anyway. Right before I really went into a panic, I found the perfect two items - a metal green outdoor shelf and a wooden ladder. They belong to my neighbor, who is currently out of town and has trusted me to pick her peppers... and probably not to steal her garden items. But I did anyway! (I'm totally going to tell her when she comes back, she'll probably wonder why they're so clean!). 

the booth set up!
So I used the two big pieces, strung some string, and had a small table for my set up. Overall, I believe it was a success. I got a lot of compliments on my work, and I think it was because it was displayed so cleanly. 

Next month, I need to figure out a way to spread the bags out more. People looked, but there wasn't a lot of bag movement.