Scraaamble, Scramble, Scraaamble!

I'm alive, I swear! Not that anyone missed me, because the readership of this blog is pretty nonexistent. But, whatever; I can pretend that somebody has been anxiously checking here every day to see if I'd update, right? Yeah.

I haven't been updating because I'm back at school and blogging has sort of slipped from my mind. Things like comps (senior project-type dealio) proposals and classwork and Life After College planning have pretty much taken over, and even though I'm cooking for myself for every meal of every day, I don't really feel like photographing my food because I'm usually pretty darn hungry when it's done! That and I haven't made too many photo/blogworthy meals, I guess, even though I have been experimenting with lots of new types of foods (for me, at least) and figuring things out for myself. I LOVE the fact that my tiny college town has a natural food store/co-op, and I have established a sort of Wednesday afternoon co-op ritual that is very nearly the highlight of my week. I just really love the availability of organic and local foods, as well as veg*n friendly stuff - I tried soy yogurt for the first time, and it's fantastic! Now, if only the dairy-free ice cream weren't so expensive... ;)

Anyway, there is a food-point to this post, I swear! Namely, scrambled tofu, a la the PPK. And when I say "a la the PPK," I basically mean that I took that recipe and bastardized it because I didn't have most of the ingredients. I sauteed some baby bella mushrooms and minced garlic, then added the tofu and some spices - namely turmeric (I was so excited to find this at the co-op!), paprika, and some garlic salt. I let it snap, crackle, and pop on the stove as I got dressed, and then I enjoyed a surprisingly tasty egg-free breakfast scramble.

So it's not the most photogenic food, but hey, it was actually quite yummy! And if I'd had more of the ingredients Isa recommends, I bet it'd be even better! Also, I learned an important lesson - a little turmeric goes a long way. I definitely overused it this time around, so much so that my toothbrush's bristles turned yellow when I brushed my teeth too soon after eating. :X Oh well, I was due for a new one anyway.

That's all for now, I suppose. I promise I'll be better about posting and actually share some of the tasty stuff I've been making lately! And if you, random person, are reading this, leave me a comment! Please?




I like recipes. Generally, they yield successful and tasty results that are enjoyable to eat. That said, I'm the type of person who loves creative pursuits of the crafty nature, and my creative side often begs to be set free in the kitchen. After a nearly sleepless night spent alternately freaking out about grad school applications, pretending I was a character in a novel that's been percolating in my head for some time, and thinking about inventing a recipe for apple bread, I woke up the next morning determined to try said recipe.


There may be a reason fresh - not dried - apples aren't generally used in bread-based baked goods. I have a feeling that the inclusion of a large, locally-grown Macintosh apple - cut up into cubes and doused with a cinnamon-sugar mixture - did something weird to my bread; y'know, something to do with the moisture level or, um, something. Maybe. Cough.

Either that or my recipe was really terrible. Cough, cough. I mean, I thought I was being smart by kind of looking at a few different bread and muffin recipes and going from there. I thought I'd included some of every ingredient generally used in similar recipes. I thought it would work out. I thought that since I'd freehanded a rather delicious recipe for a sort of cross between scones and oatmeal cookies when I was studying in Ireland and needed to use up excess food before heading back to the States, I could do the same thing with this bread. I also thought the batter seemed slightly, well, sticky, but I figured that wouldn't actually matter too much.

I guess I thought wrong, however, because the result wasn't really a bread; it was a sort of sticky, dense, glutinous - yet pleasantly spiced - bread-shaped loaf that was rather chewier than any bread I've ever tasted and had a strangely tough crust. At least the apples were juicy and nicely spiced. Overall, it wasn't terrible; I just would never make it again in that exact way. Hah. I wish I knew exactly what led to the bready breakdown, but I think it might've been a combination of many factors that combined to create this failure. I didn't include eggs or oil, so maybe the "substitutions" I used didn't create the correct chemical mixture to produce a breadlike substance. Perhaps if I'd let it bake longer, it would've been slightly less sticky. Maybe the apples screwed with the liquid content. At least it tasted decent; my sister actually liked it, and the other day I sort of crumbled it up and heated it with a little Smart Balance, and it was like a weird kind of breadish pudding. At least it didn't go to waste, right? Right?

Ah well. Apple bread for the fail!

P.S. I'm not sharing a picture of the innards because the photos didn't really do its strangeness justice... hah.


Vegan Lip Gloss: Smells So Good, I Wanna Eat It!

I have a guilty pleasure. I can't get enough of the online version of window shopping. One of my absolute favorite sites is Etsy - "your place to buy and sell all things handmade!" The crafter in me goes crazy when I hit up Etsy and I can spend ages ogling all the gorgeous handmade crafts there, from amazing one-of-a-kind jewelry to unique DIY clothing to all-natural handmade soaps. I've made a few purchases in the past and have never been disappointed, and my sister and I have our own shop, although we haven't got much in it at the moment. Anyway, recently I ran out of lip gloss/chapstick and decided that the time had come to find something vegan to use instead of one with a beeswax base or any sort of animal-based ingredients. But where to find such a product? Why, Etsy, of course!

After searching for vegan lip products and comparing scents/flavors, ingredients, and seller ratings, I decided to purchase from YouStinkSoap, deciding to ignore the outright insult in the shop's title. Sandy, who runs the shop and makes her products, has this to say in her shop's description: All my soaps are vegan (no animal products) detergent and cruelty free. Made in small, cold processed batches the bars retain their natural glycerin and are super-fatted with shea butter for extra moisturizing benefits. Pretty sweet, huh? Well, not as sweet as the Dulce de Leche scented lip gloss I chose!

Yes, that's right, Dulce de Leche. In a brilliant move, I decided to opt for Sandy's three lip gloss dealio for $7.50, plus the bank-breaking shipping cost of $1.69. So that boils down to an individual price that's slightly more expensive than the normal Bonne Bell stuff I used for years, but less than something like, say, Burt's Bees, that while probably more natural and environmentally friendly than a Lip Smacker is decidedly not vegan. But handmade, vegan, and cruelty-free? Works for me! And with scents like Coconut Lemongrass, Strawberry Tart, and Toffee Macadamia Nut, how can you go wrong? I eventually chose the aforementioned Dulce de Leche, Mango Mango, and Vanilla Velvet Buttercreme. Yeah, I know - decadent, utterly, utterly, decadent.

My lip glosses arrived today, and let me tell you, uncapping these suckers was like opening up a little tube of heaven! Dulce de Leche is sinfully sweet. The scent reminds my mom of maple syrup; I smell caramel and sugar and it is oh so rich and delicious. Vanilla Velvet Buttercreme smells like a rich, almost buttery yellow cake smothered in vanilla frosting, and Mango Mango... well, I think the name speaks for itself, but this scent gives me cravings for the sweet, juicy flesh of a ripe yellow mango. Oh baby. Plus, this is quality stuff. It glides on nice and smooooth, the scent lasts for quite a while, and it doesn't seem to wear off easily. Plus, my lips feel moisturized and happy and slightly shiny. I've been rotating through my three flavors all day, and now I can't wait to try more of Sandy's tempting scents. Oh, and did I mention that she threw in a handwritten thank-you note and a little sample of her handmade [vegan] Bamboo Rain Garden soap? Cuz she did, and it smells fresh and clean and wonderful and I think I'm totally sold on this whole natural body care thing.

Hah, and you thought this was a food blog!

Seriously though, I'm cool with leaving out the food porn in order to promote ways to live an all-around cruelty-free lifestyle, and I do like to rave about things that tickle my fancy. Plus, this Dulce de Leche lip gloss is practically food - close your eyes and you'd think there was something gooey and caramel-covered being held under your nose. Mmm mmm good.


Streusel-y Blueberry Muffins

Confession time... I had all four wisdom teeth removed a week ago, which means I've only just graduate to semi (and I do mean semi) solid foods, which means that I made these muffins ages ago and was just too lazy to post. Oops. Oh well, the blog must go on.

So. In a slightly more season-appropriate fit of baking, I trolled the web for vegan blueberry muffin recipes so that I could use up some of the 20+ pounds of blueberries my mom, sister, and I picked from a local farm last month. We're freezing bunches of them, of course, but it's still lovely to bake with fresh, local, seasonal produce. When I was a kid, the Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffin recipe had celebrity status in our house, but lately the gobs of butter it requires are a bit of a turn-off to most of us, so I went for a vegan option when I made this batch of muffins. This is the recipe I eventually chose. I know that the streusel topping negates some of the healthiness, but come on - I only used two tablespoons of Smart Balance spread out among all twelve muffins, so it's a small price to pay for the delicious, sweet chewy-crispiness of the streusel topping!

I followed the recipe pretty exactly, although we just have plain old refined white sugar (not specifically "vegan sugar") in the house, so that's what I used. Just like I did with the Pumpkin Spice Muffins, I used 1 T cornstarch and 3 T water in place of the Ener-G Egg Replacer. But when I'd mixed all the ingredients together, the batter was waaay too thick. It was barely pourable. I added a few extra tablespoons of water until it became a more liquid-y consistency, poured it into my muffin tins, added the streusel topping, and baked.

Now, before I continue, I should mention the little flour problem I had. See, the recipe calls for whole wheat flour, and since we had some sitting in the freezer, I figured I would just use that up and everything would be hunky-dory. But when my first sneaky taste of the batter yielded a rather strange taste, I began to suspect that something was amiss. It wasn't until I tried the finished product that I realized that the whole wheat flour must've been sitting in the freezer for waaay too long, because it had acquired that distinctive and unpleasant "freezer taste," that strange aftertaste that lingers in your mouth and makes you scrunch up your lips slightly as you try to figure out why your food tastes slightly off. If you know what I'm talking about, you understand, but if not, I don't think I can properly describe the flavor of freezer burn. Honestly, I had difficulty eating the muffins because of this unwelcome extra flavor, but my mom couldn't notice it at all and enjoyed them.

Bottom line? This was a decent recipe. I wasn't too thrilled with my results, but the nasty freezer taste may have had a little tiny something to do with that. Aside from that, I did feel that these muffins were quite dense; maybe if some regular white flour were used in place of some of the whole wheat they'd be a bit lighter. I'd also probably double the streusel recipe in future, because it was sort of sparse, and in this particular case the streusel was what saved these Freezer Burn Streusel-y Blueberry Muffins. Ah well - live and learn!


Putting the Spice in Pumpkin Spice Muffins

Ahh, summer - the season of beach visits, swimming pools, and summer produce. I just love summer produce... watermelon, lots of fresh berries, pumpkin... wait, what?! To me, any sort of pumpkin food just screams out AUTUMN! Also Harry Potter, but that's another issue entirely. But when I unearthed two cans of pumpkin in the pantry, for some reason I just felt like using them. It's not that I'm eager for it to be autumn or anything; don't get me wrong, I love looong summers that seem to go on forever. But the idea of eating something flavored with spiced pumpkin just appealed to me, so I booted up ye olde laptop and hit the web for a good, simple pumpkin bread recipe.

Then I decided I wanted to try a vegan pumpkin bread, and I figured it would be a pretty easy foray into vegan baking. So I chose the Pumpkin Spice Bread recipe over at Susan's Fatfree Vegan Kitchen blog. Even though her gorgeous photos showed little loafs of pumpkin bread in adorable Christmas-themed loaf pans and wrapped with various holiday-themed paraphernalia, that didn't deter me. I followed Susan's recipe pretty closely, although I omitted the pecans/walnuts since I have a sister who's allergic to all nuts. I also chose to use the 1/4 cup of canola oil and 1/4 cup of applesauce combo instead of doing a 1/2 cup of applesauce, because I didn't mind adding a little extra fat into the recipe. Also, since I didn't have any Ener-G Egg Replacer, I used a tablespoon of cornstarch and three tablespoons of water in place of that. I then decided to make a dozen muffins instead of a full loaf of bread, mostly to cut down on baking time and to save a little electricity. The batter looked lovely - colorful and rich - in the muffin pans.

Although Susan's recipe said the muffins would probably take around 15 minutes to bake, mine took somewhere around 23ish minutes. Of course, I didn't really mind since that meant I had more opportunities to taste the batter after sticking a knife in the muffins to see if they were done! I've got to say, that batter packs a kick. The combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger makes for a really spicy pumpkin spice muffin! As the muffins baked and I did my clean-up, I tasted the batter (because you OBVIOUSLY are pretty much required to do that so you don't waste the scrapings in your mixing bowl!) and the flavor of the spices really surprised me. But as the muffins baked, the pumpkin flavor seemed to come through, and by the time they were finished the pumpkin and the spice flavors just complemented one another quite nicely. When they came out of the oven, they were a gorgeous color and I loved how they'd risen in nice little dome shapes.

Overall I was quite pleased with this recipe. Susan warns that if you omit the oil entirely and use all applesauce, the bread will be heavier and more "gummy" in the middle. Even though I did use the oil, my muffins have a bit of a tiny gummy center, which you can see in the first picture. I think they actually could have used a minute or two more in the oven. But they're delicious and spicy and made for a really great breakfast on this hot summer morning, and I was pleased that my egg substitution worked out just fine. When my sister saw the muffins lying on the stove, she said "Ooh, these look delicious!" and then, a second later after biting into one, followed up with "Ooh, these ARE delicious!"

Two thumbs up for this vegan pumpkin bread recipe!



It started with a pizza.

Well, strictly speaking, it started with two or three pizzas. The individual pizzas aren't important on their own, but the fact that they were all sitting there on my aunt's kitchen table, presenting me with a decision, is the important part of the story. Pepperoni or olive? I'd never been a big pepperoni fan to begin with, so it wasn't like I was denying myself something I loved when I chose the olive. But my decision wasn't based on taste that day; I remember consciously thinking, "I want to be a vegetarian." I took the piece of olive-topped pizza and ate it and later that night I wrote a heartfelt post in my online diary of the moment about how I'd like to be a vegetarian and how I'd started researching vegetarianism and how much better it was for the environment and health and OMG YAY! I swear; that's exactly what I said. Maybe. It's not like that was a long time ago or anything.

When I think retrospectively, I realize that in my heart of hearts, I'd always felt guilty eating meat. My mom was never a huge fan of meat, but her dinners typically included something that came from an animal. I remember being seven or eight years old and eating roasted chicken one night and just feeling bad for that poor chicken. Every time I ate a meat product, I felt a twinge of guilt. But I didn't know any vegetarians as a kid, and it wasn't until high school that I actually met a teacher - coincidentally the mom of a high school friend - who had voluntarily stopped eating meat after seeing firsthand the conditions in a slaughterhouse. Her description of the dripping blood and the grotesque hanging carcasses was both stomach-turning and also enough to make me realize that my instincts, perhaps, had been right.

But the pizza moment, which probably occurred during my sophomore or junior year of high school, didn't end up being the moment in which I turned vegetarian. Orlando Bloom did me in. See, I was hugely obsessed with Lord of the Rings in high school, and my friend Elfy* went through a ridiculously intense Orlando Bloom phase in which she (only her, I swear! *shifty eyes*) learned every fact available about Orlando, and one of those facts was that Orlando is, in fact, a vegetarian. So when I tested out my friends by casually mentioning that I was thinking of going vegetarian, Elfy and Trailmix questioned my motives and accused me of just wanting to be like Orlando. Hmph! Needless to say, I was properly outraged as my motives were pure and just and based on compassion and if Orlando just happened to also be a vegetarian, well then, it just showed that he had some modicum of sense and compassion and well-developed morality. Unfortunately, their criticism did me in and, my noble thoughts of vegetarianism deflated for the moment, I gave up... for a while.

Really, though, I cut back on my meat intake for the next few years, consciously choosing to eat only the vegetables and sides when my aunt would make a big roast for a family dinner and quietly beginning my vegetarian slide. And then came Lent of my senior year of high school, and I totally cheated and gave up meat even though the point of Lent is to give up something you actually want and care about and at that point I was pretty disgusted by meat and giving it up was no hardship at all. But those three months without meat convinced me that I could go veggie with no problem, and after Lent ended I just never went back to eating meat.

So that was that. Now I'm beginning my senior year at my beloved small liberal arts college that's super liberal and environmentally conscious and quite vegetarian friendly, so the past three years haven't been a problem food-wise. Plus another aunt and her husband have gone vegan, and then my sister and mom jumped on the vegetarian bandwagon, and now my dad does most of the cooking and even though he's still a meat-eater he's happy to make veggie meals for us and they're delicious and healthy and they're inspiring me to think about food in a creative way. See, two of my best friends and I are going to be living in a townhouse during our senior year, so I'm finally going to have a kitchen and not have to rely on the dining hall, and I'm excited to be able to cook my own meals in my own kitchen. I want to chronicle my attempts to experiment with foods I've never worked with on my own, and hopefully I can grow both as a cook and as a vegetarian. I intend to be quite vegan-friendly, since I'm thinking of going vegan eventually. So here I am, and here I veggie-a-gogo!

P.S. I swear that I'll try to be less wordy in future posts, but I'm an English major and quite verbose and it's haaard! Maybe I'll insert lots of pretty food porn to break up the text... mmm, food porn. ;)

*Names changed to protect the innocent... and the not-so-innocent!