recipes and talk about:
natural foods
whole grains
local foods
the heirloom garden

maple granola

maple granola. yummmmmmo

This March was in like a lion, out like a lamb, just as it’s supposed to be, right and good. It’s a slow-brewing Easter revelation: for the past several days, we’ve had our eye on the forecast and those double digits creeping up from 40s to 50s to 70s. We’ve been talking about the weather forecast in awed, hushed tones: it’s going to be 75°F by Thursday! Maybe 80°F on Friday!

We so want to be true believers in meteorology, just this once. We’re ready, after months of snow and ice and wind and mud, to prostrate ourselves at the altar of the Mighty Blue Screen of Meteorological Prophecy.

And today, we are believers. It’s 56°F right now. We see whispers on Facebook: our Chicago friends wax poetic in their status updates about their glorious weather, and we close our eyes and smile, knowing that what’s in Chicago today will be here tomorrow.

in the hippie spirit

maple granola ingredients

And since I’m in this warm hippie spirit, I’ll offer up a foodstuff so linked to hippes that it became an adjective all its own. Read more on maple granola…

December 23, 2009 in cookies, vegetarian3 comments

chewy oatmeal cutouts

chewy oatmeal cutout cookies, dusted with cinnamon sugar

Time now to quit with the endless family stories and begin slamming out these cookie recipes. Today I made progress on this month’s Daring Bakers Challenge. It’s a secret, to be revealed on the 27th. Which is a shame, because it’s sort of festive. :p

cutting out some chewy oatmeal cutout cookies!

Also began filling the chocolate mint cookie sandwiches. Damn, those little chocolate disks taste just like Oreos. And I learned why Grandma made them so honkin’ big (I made them about 1-1/2 inches round instead) — the recipe made approximately 270 cookie halves. Yes, that’s 135 sandwiches. I’ll post a final total when I finish and get the recipe up. Of course, it will be a tad off due to shrinkage. Shrinkage in this case being little (and big) hands snatching them up and popping them into mouths during the filling process.

bake, gingerbread man, bake

ohnoes, the gingerbread man in searing 350 degree heat!

And tomorrow evening I’ll be decorating these chewy oatmeal cutouts with Justin and Maggie. What a pleasant surprise these were. Thumbs up from kids and adults alike, and that was just the ones I tossed cinnamon sugar onto. Crispy on the edges, chewy in the middle, easy to roll and a good deal of whole grains inside. Read more on chewy oatmeal cutouts…

December 14, 2009 in cookies, vegetarian11 comments

whole grain mexican wedding cakes

mexican wedding cakes, russian tea cakes, made with whole barley flour

Guess what? I actually got off my arse and did some research for y’all this time.

moops?

See, the cookie we call Mexican wedding cakes, or Russian tea cakes, or polvorones in Spain, or melting moments in Australia actually has a common descendent: the “sandie” type cookie first developed by the Moors in the Middle Ages, medieval Arabs being very fond of sweets.

mexican wedding cakes, russian tea cakes, made with whole barley flour - notice how they're a bit darker than those made with all-purpose flour

Most commonly known as Mexican wedding cakes or Russian tea cakes here in the U.S., they’re a buttery, not-too-sweet cookie made with finely chopped nuts. The cookie is shaped like a ball, and rolled twice in powdered sugar after baking. The first dusting of sugar is done while warm, which allows the sugar to absorb slightly into the cookie and keeps its crust from getting hard. Since the first sugar dusting usually melts into near-invisibility, a second coating of sugar is applied to make the cookies pretty.

ooh, dramatic!

It’s important to note that Mexican wedding cakes are never baked until browned (else they’d be dry and overdone), so one has to trust one’s recipe for the time and one’s nose for clues as to when they’re done. It’s amazing how many things, when cooking, are “done” when you begin to smell them. Read more on whole grain mexican wedding cakes…

August 23, 2009 in desserts, gluten-free, PIE, vegetarian23 comments

walnut-oat pie crust

mmm, gluten-free walnut-oat pie or tart crust, ready for your abuse

Now there’s a mouthful. Know why? Because it’s so versatile. It works for the gluten-free folks. It works for the pie folks. It works for the tart folks. It works for the don’t-make-me-get-out-the-rolling-pin folks.

Even better, this walnut-oat pie crust recipe is just a prelude to the fresh blueberry pie I made it with, coming up soon. Thought I’d get you going with this amazing crust first, because it will work with more than just blueberry pies. It’ll work with cheesecake, other pies, all sorts of tarts.

And it’s press-in-the-pan easy. Read more on walnut-oat pie crust…

gluten-free chocolate chip cookies

gluten-free chocolate chip cookies

Ignore the “gluten-free” in the title. These are not some saintly cardboardy cookie things.

And I’m really not trying to be All About Baking here. Honestly.

And I’m not trying to be all health nut vegetarian gluten-free, either. FSM knows I’m a crappy vegetarian and an even more piss-poor health nut.

But you know what? These cookies are really good. I don’t even care that as far as cookies go, they are on the saintly side. They’re vegan. They’re whole grain. They even have ground flax seed.

These cookies have no right to be as yummy as they are. They should taste like nice healthy cardboard, but instead they have some kind of awesome nutty oaty crunchy thing going on.

I ran across them a while back when I didn’t have eggs, and I didn’t have the time or the patience to wait for butter to soften, but wanted chocolate chip cookies. You know when that is. At night, in winter, when some horrid wind is howling outside and PMS is prodding you to find something sweet and chocolate now or it’s going to get really cranky and take you along with it.

my little helper and some cookie dough

Oh, look. I had a helper. This is why these cookies happened today. Little voices.

“AUNT AMY, CAN WE MAKE COOKIES? I WANT TO MAKE COOKIES. LET’S MAKE COOKIES. I WANT TO HELP. I CAN HELP. LET ME POUR THAT IN. I DIDN’T SPILL IT ON PURPOSE. I DON’T KNOW HOW THE DOUGH GOT ON THE FLOOR. THIS LOOKS FUNNY. HOW CAN YOU MAKE COOKIES WITHOUT BUTTER?”

Let’s see. These chocolate chip cookies bake pretty flat. They aren’t fluffsters. They are also better crunchy; when you bake them til they are medium brown. They’re good with nuts but I also think they’re good without nuts, which is rare — I tend to prefer nuts in my chocolate chip cookies. The recipe only makes about 18 cookies, so double it up if you want lots.

To be sure about the gluten-free-ness, make sure to use gluten-free vanilla, and check your canola oil and oats. Oats are naturally gluten-free but apparently some cross-contamination can occur or something in processing bla bla. Read more on gluten-free chocolate chip cookies…