Snacks – Banana Bread Edition

We’re continuing full force with 2015 – Year of Guests.  This month features some of our favorite bike racers, Luke and Kaitie who are out here for the good training weather and, obviously, our spectacular company.

I know (because we’ve asked them bluntly) that everyone who’s stayed with us so far has been nervous about the Vegan thing and about what we’ll make them eat.  Luckily (I think/hope!), no one’s been totally grossed out or left hungry so far!  Yay plants!

On Sunday, I had a need to bake and a couple of old frozen bananas i.e. THE PERFECT STORM/combination for Banana Bread!  Last time I made banana bread, the recipe use a lot of coconut oil which, although a miracle oil, tends to get kind of thick when said baked good is left at room temperature thus requiring that the aforementioned baked good requires is warmed up every time you want a nibble.  So, round two, new coconut oil-less recipe.

I used this recipe from Dairy Free Cooking but, based on the ingredients I had, made some substitutions.

Banana Bread

Ingredients:

  • 2 c. flour
  • 3/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 3/4 t. baking soda
  • 3/4 t. salt
  • 3/4 t. cinnamon
  • 1/2 c. coconut milk *recipe suggested plain soy milk or almond milk
  • 1 t. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups mashed banana *I only had 3 bananas, it was fine!
  • 1/4 c. vegetable oil *recipe suggested canola
  • 2 T. maple syrup
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • Walnuts (optional) but highly recommended!

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly oil a 9″x5″ loaf pan and set aside.

2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the coconut milk and cider vinegar and let stand for 2 minutes

3. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mix together the flour, sugars, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.

4. Add the mashed banana, canola oil, maple syrup, and vanilla extract to the coconut milk/vinegar mixture, whisking until well combined.

5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing until just combined (try not to overmix!). Fold in the walnuts if using and pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan.

6. Bake for about 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the center emerges clean. Allow the bread to cool on a wire cooling rack for 20 minutes before serving. Enjoy warm or at room temperature.

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We’ve also enjoyed banana bread warmed up in our cast iron skillet, shmeared with almond butter, and topped with some avocado slices.  That brainwave belongs to Collin – another reason to keep him around!

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2015 and a Quinoa Salad

Hi Hello!  I’m back!  Sorry for the 3 month hiatus.  In between moving across the country (lol yea I live in California now) and the holidays, this kind of fell to the wayside.  BUT it’s a new year and life has sort of normalized now so I’m back in the game.

I thought about doing a quick life update here, but the longer I waited, the more intimidating that post became.  So I’m not going to do that and instead I’m going to point you in the direction of my boyfriend’s blog because he HAS been keeping up with updates!  So if you want to know what moving to California was like, check out seahuston.blogspot.com.

AND NOW: THE POST.  And a little background because obviously.

With Collin’s new job at Apple, he travels a lot and by a lot I mean minimum 10 trips per year to China for a week and a half at a time.  That’s a lot of Katherine time especially since we don’t really know anyone out here yet.  So!  I’ve been cooking!  One, so I don’t starve and two, because it’s fun to find a recipe and take the time to make it good!

Without further ado, this is what I made myself for dinner two nights ago!

Quinoa with zuchinni, mint, cranberries, and walnuts

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Quinoa
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Olive oil
  • 1 large zucchini, cut into ¼” rounds
  • kosher salt to taste
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup toasted walnut pieces
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • mint to taste
  • kosher salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Cook the quinoa according to the instructions in the white wine and water mixture.
  2. Once the quinoa is done, fluff with a fork, and set aside to cool.
  3. In a heavy pan, add the olive oil over medium heat. Add the zucchini rounds and cook until browned on each side and tender, about 3 minutes. Season with kosher salt to taste, and remove from heat and set aside

    Cooking the zucchini!

    Cooking the zucchini!

  4. In a small bowl combine the shallots, vinegar and olive oil and whisk together.
  5. In a large bowl combine the cooled quinoa and the olive oil mixture, tossing to coat the quinoa. Season to taste with Kosher salt.
  6. Gently fold in the zucchini, walnuts, dried cranberries and fresh mint. Transfer to a serving platter.

    My quinoa bowl!

    My quinoa bowl!

I was really pleased with how this recipe turned out!  It accomplished that great vegan balance of being satisfying but not heavy and over filling.  Also, I think I might add craisins to everything from now on because yum.

This recipe was adapted from the recipe on Heather Christo’s blog.  She’s not exclusively vegan, but I’ve found some really great options there!  Check out her Spicy Thai Noodle Soup!

Until next time, blog-sphere!

That Vegan Life

In 7th grade home ec (rebranded Family and Consumer Science by that time #politicalcorrectitude), our class watched a movie on vegetarianism. I don’t remember much of the movie except that it upset and inspired 12 year old me to declare my new resolution to become vegetarian. I was even committed enough to get some books from the library on being vegetarian and eating well!  The only flaw in my plan was that during this phase of my life (ages 0-20) I ate approximately 0 vegetables and pretty much sustained myself on fruit, meat, and carbs.  In fact, this foray into vegetarianism coincided with Easter weekend (a.k.a. the Catholic Ham Holiday) and, since I did not partake in any of the side dishes full of veggies, my meal consisted almost entirely of potato chips.  And chocolate.  Because Easter candy… NEEDLESS TO SAY, my first meat free diet attempt did not go well or last long.

About a year ago, Collin and I decided to “go local” i.e. we tried to only buy meat and eggs from local farms.  We decided to do this because it helped to make us much more aware of what we were consuming, not only for our own health, but so that we did not take the lives of farm animals for granted.  We got our meat from a farmer who worked with Collin and we got eggs from my coworker who was living on her boyfriend’s parents’ farm (which was a GREAT system).  The main comment we heard from people was that eating local was expensive and that’s true, it is more expensive.  So we started to eat less meat and we really enjoyed it when we did.  On the nights that we did have meat for dinner, it was a big deal and that was kind of the point for us.  It should be a big deal.  We also tried to eat local when we went out which is where everything got a little fuzzier and where we yielded way more often to our food cravings.  We would try to ask where the meat came from but slowly our convictions started sliding to ordering food with meat sourced from New York or Montreal (not really local) if it was from a good, organic, ethical farm, because that made it okay, right?  Things just started being good enough and we would casually laugh it off and enjoy our pulled pork burritos or McDonald’s chicken nuggets.

Enter, Veganism.  Collin got there first.  He read a book loaned to us by our already vegan friends – Eating Animals, by Jonathan Safran-Foer.  I have not actually read the words off of these pages, but I have heard a lot of them read out loud and a lot of the points of the book were discussed at length in our house while Collin was reading it.  I really should pick it up one of these days though.  Essentially- it was the catalyst for Collin go make the leap to go vegan.  I won’t speak for him as to his personal reasons for making the choice.  They are similar to mine, but they are also different.  I took another couple weeks to make the step on my own and it basically came down to this – I cannot ignore the fact that I believe killing and abusing animals for my consumption is wrong.  Factory farming is a horrible, horrible system.  Dairy cows and egg-laying chickens live awful, disgusting, and miserable lives.  Those are facts.  And I can’t and refuse to pretend like I don’t care about it anymore.

The most common reaction I have gotten to my “I’m Vegan!” announcement has been, “wow, that must be so hard” or some variation on that theme.  Honestly, it’s not hard at all.  Not when I believe this is the right thing for me to be doing.  And I believe it so hard.  Yea, it does suck eating salads when you go out with friends  (which, luckily, is not the norm!) and yea, 100% I miss cheese but what I don’t miss is the guilty conscience and the needing the bury my feelings about it whenever I asked for extra parmesan.  And cooking at home is a piece of cake with the internet!  Just search vegan anything you want to eat and it exists.  Trust me!  We’ve had vegan buffalo “wings” twice!

Veganism is not for the faint of heart, I will say that.  I couldn’t have lived this way 2 years ago and I feel very strongly that it’s a decision a person needs to make on their own for their own reasons.  It is hard if you don’t care enough and I can’t fault anyone for that.  AND SO 7th grade Katherine played the long game, who knew!  She and I are very happy with where we’ve ended up.

SOME OF OUR FAVORITE VEGAN EATS:

  • Vegan Mac & Cheese – seriously I could stuff this in my face all day long, guys.  Try it, you won’t regret it.  Or notice that it isn’t cheese probably.
  • Garlic Pasta w/ Roasted tomatoes – I made this on my own the other night when Collin was out of town so you know it’s easy!

  • Pad thai – One of our big go tos.  Also, most thai food can be made vegan if you substitute soy sauce in for fish sauce.  FUN FACT!
  • Apple cider donuts – YUP.
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HELLO.

  • And my bagel recipe that I posted here!

Bottom line, I being vegan feels AND tastes good and I am more than happy/willing to answer any questions you may have.  Also there’s a lot more I could say on this subject so BE PREPARED FOR A SEQUEL POST.

 

Making Bagels

Is there a more satisfying breakfast food than a good bagel?  I believe there is not.  Where I grew up, there was this little, hole-in-the-wall bagel shop right up the street.  The kind that are only open until noon and that have fresh made bagels every day.  When I moved up to Newmarket last year, I couldn’t find a bagel shop like this anywhere!  Say what you will, but grocery store bagels don’t even come close.  So I learned how to make my own!  I got this recipe from googling online and I’ve been loyal to it ever since.

Ingredients:

For the bagels:

4 cups Bread Flour

2 tsp Salt

1 Tbsp yeast

1 Tbsp brown sugar

1 1/2 warm water

For the wash:

4 cups water

1 Tbsp brown sugar

1/2 Tbsp white sugar

Process:

Measure out the water and add the yeast and brown sugar.  Stir together until the mixture gets frothy and let sit.  Measure out the flour and salt into a large bowl.  Add the water and knead/use the dough hook for your stand mixer for 10-15 minutes until the dough has formed a ball.

Cover and let rise for 1 1/2 hours.

Once the dough has risen (it should double in size) punch it down and turn it out onto a flat, floured surface.  Cut it into 8 equal pieces and form the pieces into balls.  Cover these and let them rise for another 30 minutes.

While the bagels are rising, pre-heat the oven to 475 degrees and prepare the water bath.  Measure out the water and pour it into a deep skillet.  Dissolve in the sugars and cover until the water boils.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease with Pam.  Each of the dough balls will have doubled in size again.  Use your thumb to punch a hole through the middle of each dough ball and then swing it around your finger to widen it slightly.  Place the ring into the boiling water and repeat 3 more times.  Let the bagels boil 2 minutes on the first side and then flip and boil for 1 more minute.  Remove with a slatted spatula and place on the baking sheet.  Repeat this process with the remaining 4 bagels.

Bake at 475 for 20-25 minutes until golden brown on the outside.

Ingredients!

Ingredients!

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Forming the pre-bagel dough balls

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The twirl the dough around your finger hole making method in action

Boiling bagels!

Boiling bagels!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note: all of these pictures are from our old place in Newmarket as the lighting in our current kitchen is quite poor.  Wasn’t our little ship stove cute!?

I’ve made these bagels an uncountable number of times over the last year or so and I can say that the smell of baking bagels is probably one of my top 10 favorites.  Don’t be daunted by the process.  Go for it and enjoy!

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Bagel recipe originally found here!