2015, a Recipe Odyssey: March Edition

So I mentioned in this post that I was going to try a monthly meal plan for March, sticking within my budget of $25/week for food. How did it go?

  • Week 1: I spent $19.47 on groceries.
  • Week 2: I spent $24.09 on groceries. Cutting it close! All necessites for my week’s plan.
  • Week 3: I spent $20.30 on groceries. Roughly $10 0f that was absolute necessities for my planned menu, and I got some extra goodies! (okay, it was mostly bell peppers and avocados.) I ended up not doing all the planned meals because I had lots more leftovers than previous weeks, plus I was sick.
  • Week 4: I spent $26.60 on groceries. This included what I needed for the little bit of overlap for the last couple days of March.
  • But I did end up using the rest of my money buying a couple staple/pantry items that I’ll use next month too.

Keep in mind, we do have loads of bulk stuff stored in buckets from More Prosperous (or simply more reckless?) Times of the Past, and we have a separate line item for bulk food (and I spent all but pennies of that $50 this month aside from the above), so the above is strictly fresh veggies and staples like oil and sugar.

Speaking of oil and sugar, I bought a regular bottle of veggie oil and a 4lb bag of sugar for Week 1. As of the end of week 3, the oil had been long gone and another bottle half-used, and the sugar is all but gone. I find this disturbing.

Here’s what I made! Grouped by source.

From More Peas, Thank You:

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1. Corn Chowda with Cornbread Croutons – GooGoo has been pestering me to make a potato soup for weeks now. I finally make one, and will she eat it? No. Sigh. She did like the cornbread croutons and the side of broccoli, though.

 From The Veg Feasting Cookbook:

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2. Carrots in the Raw – This salad was very easy, requiring few ingredients, and went great with the burgers we had for lunch. I left out the raisins and just added some extra pumpkin seeds instead, because fruit in a vegetable salad is just weird to me. The following day we had the leftovers on top of lettuce. Yum.

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3. Cumin Carrot Soup – This became steadily more disgusting the more of it that I ate. Mr Pine Nut thought it was good, but I heartily disagreed. I couldn’t taste cumin at all; even though I reduced the pepper it was way too peppery; worst of all the texture was just gross. Will never make again.

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4. Turkish Lentil Soup – SO good. I was a little concerned, because the cinnamon smelled really strong while it was cooking, but as far as taste went, I didn’t even notice it. The flavours were all blended perfectly with nothing overpowering anything else. I was pleased, and would definitely make this again. Way better than the vomitous carrot sludge.

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5. Spicy Yellow Dal – I didn’t have toor dal, but the book suggested subbing yellow split peas, so I used green split peas. It took a lot more than 2 cups of water to cook the peas, but this was overall quite a simple dish to assemble and it was very tasty. It was at the edge of my heat tolerance level, but very good. We ate it with rice and steamed broccoli.

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6. Mexican Black Bean Salad – This was fairly simple to throw together, and it was a meal for Mr Pine Nut and I (with the addition of lettuce, and some bread on the side). It had a good flavour, but the recipe called for no salt. I added a tiny bit, but more wouldn’t have hurt. I’m not sure I’ll make it again, but it was fine.

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7. Cabbage Curry – This was SO easy, and very tasty! I added the garbanzo beans to make it a meal, but the flavour was great and the heat level perfect (that is, not very hot. :-)) It’s a dry curry, and you could really use any veggie (or combination thereof) instead of the cabbage – cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, &c.

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8. Cream of Veg Soup – This was just okay. Mr Pine Nut and Lou Who loved it; GooGoo wouldn’t touch it, and I didn’t finish mine. It was better than cumin-carrot soup, but I found it just too salty even though I’d diluted it considerably.

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9. Chickpea Mash Stew – I really liked this, despite it being totally different from how I envisioned it would be. Lou Who loved it too!

10. Super Noodle Soup – Very basic. The special thing about it seemed to me just that all the veggies get cut up very tiny (1/8″ dice), and I had to add a lot of extra salt and some garlic powder because it just didn’t have much flavour without. It was good, but I don’t think I’ll rush to make it again.

11. Pulao Rice – This was pretty easy. I used brown rice so I changed the water proportion and cooking time, but it came out very nice and I liked it. I wasn’t super fond of the whole idea of having to pick out all the whole cloves, cardamom pods, and other such things though.

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12. Chickpea Curry – I was prepping my ingredients for this and it calls for a 4-oz piece of ginger, thinly sliced. I only have (frozen) grated ginger, so I got it out and the frozen glob I had weighed exactly four ounces. The problem is that four ounces of grated ginger is like… a CUP’S worth. So I called out into the twitterverse and got confirmation that for the amount of curry, that seemed like an awful lot. So I decided to do 2 ounces instead. The end result was a curry with a good flavour… under an intense heat. I burned my entire digestive tract raw and had steam coming out my ears from eating it. So yeah, I doubt I’ll be making this again.

13. Saffron Rice – I made this to go with the abovementioned curry as per the book’s suggestion. It was okay. I wasn’t overly thrilled with it.

From the interwebs:

14. Parmesan Muffins – A friend made these and raved about them, so I decided to try them, because I need to get more savoury muffins into my culinary repertoire. They were excellent! I used flax instead of eggs (so 2T ground flax and 6T warm water), and I was too tired/lazy to make my favourite almond parmesan so I just used some Daiya mozzarella shreds I had in my freezer. And I left out the sugar.

15. Brownie Coco-Nut-Butter Cups – !!!!!!! YUM !!!!!! So, I made these for a potluck and forgot to take them with me. Oops. What a tragedy. ;-)

From Vegan Simplicity:

16. Vegan Red Beans and Rice – This was good, but not great, which seems to be (so far) my reaction to most of Mark Anthony’s recipes. I bought this cookbook when he came and did a presentation/cooking class at our church and really haven’t used it much yet, so I definitely want to give it more of a chance before passing judgement. At any rate, this called for 3/4 cup of vegan margarine. O_O It also didn’t *look* super appetising.

17. Sri Lankan Style Mixed-Bean Soup – No picture; it looked sludgy and not super appealing, kind of pooplike, so like the red beans above the visual appeal was nil. But it tasted pretty good.

From Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day:

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18. Green Monster Bread (made into bagels/rolls) – I used rye flour and caraway seeds in with this and like it a lot! It seems a tad on the sweet side, so I think I’d reduce the sugar next time, but aside from that this was a definite “something I’d make again”. Way to sneak some kale into my girls’ diets (and mine).

Ten Talents (1978 edition):

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19. Carrot Salad – I thought the combo of carrot/pecan/cocoanut seemed a bit odd, but decided to try it anyway, and it was really good! Also very simple. I served it on a bed of lettuce/cabbage just to give it more variety but I would totally make it again.

Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar:

20. Cornmeal Poppyseed Biscotti – I hate lemon poppyseed bread. That being said, these were really good! I was surprised. I don’t know that they’ll be something I’ll make really often, but I brought some home from a potluck and know I’ll eat them. :-)

21. Rocky Roads – I’ve had these before but haven’t made them before, and my suspicion that I’d like them better without the almond extract was completely correct. They are addictive, amazing, and I think the dough would be the perfect chocolate cookie base for a whole bunch of mix-ins. I’d like to try it plain too.

Everyday Vegan Eats:

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22. Chickpeas and Dumplings – A bit too salty but it was really yummy anyway!

23. Black Bean Feijoada – Really, really good!

[ETA: 24. Macaroni Salad – I made this on a whim the last day of March, and it was GOOD]

Cookbooks [or other sources] represented in March: 8

Did I meet my goal? Barely! I was worried the last week or so that I wouldn’t hit 20, but I did.

See you next month, with April’s recipe report!

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Categories: bread, challenges, cookies, dairy-free, dessert, lunch, salads, side dish, soup, vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

2015, a Recipe Odyssey: February Edition

Things that have happened this month:

  • I broke my blender jar – again (SIGH)
  • I ran out of regular sugar, which has forced me to be Creative with Liquid Sweeteners, because I have plenty of those, and also kept me from making cookies, which is good for my body and not good for my sugar-loving mouth
  • We had our annual nonfire and it was fun
  • I tried a bunch of new recipes!

Here’s what I made! Grouped by source.

From Veganomicon:

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1 and 2. Chickpeas Romesco with Saffron-Garlic Rice – These were both fantastic and went together great, just as they suggested. Definitely would make again!

3. Chili Cornmeal Crusted Tofu – Failed to get a picture of this one. I liked this just okay. I think my cornmeal wasn’t quite fine enough and I didn’t have lime zest so it lacked that lime punch. The coating stuff was like twice as much as I actually needed though, so I froze the rest of it for later use.

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4. Potato Leek Cassoulet – I wasn’t super duper impressed with this one; it seemed bland. I imagine that more salt would probably have been the answer, but while I can add salt to the stew, it’s hard to add salt to already-cooked biscuits. The leftovers I heated the next day I added some more salt to anyway and it did help a lot. So I may possibly make this again and just keep that in mind.

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5. Beanballs – So I had some kidney beans in the freezer from a while ago and when I saw this called for kidney beans it was an immediate sell. They were really easy and tasty. Neither of my children were impressed, however.

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6. Double Pea Soup with Roasted Red Peppers – I subbed frozen lima beans for well over half the peas called for because I thought I had more frozen peas than I did. Oops. Anyway, I was concerned I wouldn’t like this soup because of all the random seasonings in it that I would never ever use in pea soup. I didn’t really like the soup, but it was actually not to do with the seasonings, I just found it really blah somehow.

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7. Spinach Noodle Kugel – I had such high hopes for this. I subbed kale and collards for the spinach because that’s what I have at the moment, and only about 1/3 the weight called for – and, guys, I just really don’t like collards and kale. There also seemed a tremendous imbalance between the greens and the pasta. I can’t imagine using 30 oz of frozen spinach in here, let alone that much kale.  I would like to try it again, with spinach.

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8. Lemony Potato Wedge Things – (yeah I’m too lazy to go look up the actual recipe name) I had these going for probably about an hour, the last half of which I cranked the oven up to 400. They never really browned like they were supposed to. BUT, they really tasted good!

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9. Soup With a Really Long Name – (see comment on previous recipe’s title) This was SO good! I subbed oregano for the thyme, because I ran out of thyme. Somehow that always happens when I go too crazy making Isa recipes! :-p Anyway, I would definitely make this again.

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10. Rosemary Foccacia Bread – DE. LISH. US. My children adored it as well. We ate it with seasoned pinto beans.

From the interwebs:

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11. Cranberry Paleo Muffins – Another recipe I found to try using my Christmas cocoanut flour in. These were the most disgusting things I have ever tasted in my life. Even my husband couldn’t eat them. If he can’t eat them, they really must be bad. Seriously, do paleo people actually EAT this stuff???? I took a tiny bite and gagged, as did both my children. Mr Pine Nut gamely picked out the cranberries from his, but declined to take a second one.

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12. Cranberry Orange Upside-down Cake I had exactly enough cocoanut flour from my Christmas bag left to make this. Of the three recipes I tried, this was easily the best, but it was still weird. I think I should have baked it a little longer, and arrowroot just has a weird texture. The flavour was good. It’s all about texture, which is kind of also a big deal. I won’t be in a rush to make it again, and I have no desire to run out and buy more cocoanut flour, because I’m simply not impressed.

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13. Tofu Mr Pine Nut made tofu once, a very long time ago (when we lived in the trailer). It came out soft, but good. I like, nay, LOVE tofu, and because of our finances right now I was thinking maybe I better learn to make it and save us some money. Well, the process went great until the cold water step at the end, when my blob of tofu decided “Hey, I’ll disentegrate into a bajillion bits!!” Not cool, tofu. Not cool. I’ll definitely try again, but preferably on a day when I’m not also doing a ton of other things like I was this day, and ask around for some input from tofu-making connoisseurs.

14. Okara Crab Cakes I had plenty of perfectly good okara out of the lame tofu deal, though! So I tried this recipe. It was good. Not my favourite thing ever, but good.

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15. Okara “Chicken” Nuggets – These were SO good! This is definitely going to be a go-to with future okara. I did the procedure a bit differently than outlined – I wrapped the mixture directly in foil and dumped it in a steamer basket in a covered pot. I did not do the breading and frying, which I’m sure would be good, but these were good just on their own too! We ate them with carrots and mac and cheese.

From Isa Does It:

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16. Spicy Slurpy Spaghetti Sauce – Oh MAN this was hands down the best sauce EVER I will never make another sauce again! (Yes, crazy Pinterest peeps, I’m mocking you.) Seriously though, this was the best sauce I’ve ever made, and it was so easy. I subbed a combo of paprika/smoked paprika for the pepper flakes, since Mr Pine Nut is not a fan of heat, and I blended it in my food processor to hide the “stuff” (tomato chunks, onions) from GooGoo. GooGoo is not a fan of tomato anything, but she slurped this stuff right down with her linguine. Score!

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17. Classic Baked Tofu – Loved the flavour; didn’t love the texture. I think next time I’ll cut thinner slices and skip the parchment paper; I like my baked tofu to have a bit more of a chewy crust than this one ended up with (even after being in the oven way longer than called for!) But I’ll definitely make it again. I had it with steamed broccoli and chicken rice. It was a super delicious meal.

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18. Meaty Beany Chili – This was okay; I did not add the sweetener and I’m glad I didn’t; I like my savoury food to be savoury, and somehow the cloves made it seem sweet enough already. Not sure I’ll make this again.

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19. Lentil-Quinoa Stew – I had only 3/4 cup of quinoa and I probably used only 1/2 pound of kale. Despite the kale (I am so not a fan) it was very good!

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20. Dilly Stew with Rosemary Dumplings – This was amazing. I forgot to put the navy beans in (I don’t even know, guys) but it was still insanely delicious. When I heated the leftovers the next day I added in some of the navy beans with them. Either way it’s great.

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21. Cheddary Broccoli Soup – Not a huge fan of this, although Lou Who snarfed down three bowls and had the rest tonight for her supper, cold, because she was in too much of a hurry to wait to warm it up! GooGoo was also not a fan. It tasted vaguely vomitlike to me when I first tasted it out of the pot, and when I reheated it for our Friday night supper it at least no longer tasted like vomit. It was, however, ridiculously noochy, and I’m really not a huge fan of nooch. It was worth a shot, but I don’t think I’ll make it again.

From Vegan Brunch:

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22. Toasted Cocoanut Chocolate Chip Muffins – I loved the mango ones from last month, so I tried the chocolate chip variation. I had to do a lot of subbing because I’m out of, oh, sugar, and getting low on oil. So I used melted cocoanut oil and instead of the dry sugars used 1/4 cup agave. They turned out nicely and tasted great.

From Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World:

23. Carrot Cake Cupcakes – These were really good, despite the fact that I do not believe raisins belong in a carrot cake. I would leave them out next time, but I did very much like the overall flavour! I did a double batch in a 13×9 pan to take to a potluck.

Cookbooks [or other sources] represented in February: 5

Did I meet my goal? Yes, plus 3. Yay!

See you next month, with March’s recipe report!

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Categories: bread, challenges, entrees, side dish, soup, tofu, vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

I am a fountain of ambition and numberless dreams.

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Well hello there.

I’ll have another post in a few days about all the new recipes I’ve tried this month, but I wanted to post quickly right now about what I’m going to be trying in March. I’ll still be trying a lot of new recipes, but I’m treating it with much more organisation. I’ve made a meal plan for the main meal of each day in March! I have no idea how well this will work; I’ve never been very organised about my meal planning or grocery buying, but because of our current situation I’m trying to be more conscious of how much we spend, and be more deliberate about using more of the goods we have in our Rather Large Collection of Buckets, and the stuff available from our garden.

So yesterday I sat down with a big old pile of cookbooks (the picture above) and a piece of paper and I chose a bunch of recipes that will require minimal buying of foodstuffs – mostly just the fresh veggies required!

The goal is to buy as little food as possible next month. We’ll see how it goes and if it seems to work, I just might keep doing it. :-) Of course, I will report on all the new recipes I tried at the end of the month along with comments on how well the meal planning worked.

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Categories: challenges, meal planning | 1 Comment

Shop Update

So, I’ve been a busy little bee and I’ve gotten a bunch more Bible colouring pages listed in my Etsy shop!

Here’s one of my favourites:

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So go check them out and tell your friends! There are also some vintage-style dresses and other stuff listed right now too.

I can’t express how much I would appreciate support. Things are kind of tight right now. Every little bit helps!

Categories: recipes | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

2015, a Recipe Odyssey: January Edition

So, I’ve unofficially decided on a personal challenge this year, which is far more fun than a New Year’s resolution. Early this month, I cracked open Veganomicon, looking for a use for some tofu I had in my fridge, and ended up with a pot of barbecue sauce simmering on the stove – and I made some tofu-cashew ricotta that was DELISH.  So I decided to attempt to try roughly 5 new recipes every week. I’ve been bouncing around a lot of cookbooks this month; I may try to be more focused next month. Or not! Spontaneity is the name of the game!

Here’s what I made! Grouped by source.

From Veganomicon:

1. Basic Barbecue Sauce – I’m honestly not sure why I made this, aside from the fact that I just happened to have all the needed ingredients, because I’m not a huge fan of BBQ sauce. It just sounded fun for some reason! We ate a little bit of it with some leftover something or other and I froze the rest until I can think what to make with it. It’s good.

2. Cashew-Tofu Ricotta – YUM.

3. Messy Rice – Good, but I thought a little more salt would have been nice. Also, I let it sit too long before eating, so it got a tiny bit too dry.

4. Chickpea-Quinoa Pilaf – I thought this was pretty fab fresh. Mr Pine Nut dismissed it as “kinda brown and monotaste”. The leftovers weren’t appealing to me, but I think I’d make it again!

5. Pumpkin Cranberry Scones – VERY good. Will opt for the longer bake time next time, because these were more muffins than scones with the shorter time.

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[6-13 REDACTED UNTIL PERMISSION GRANTED]

From the interwebs:

14. Carrot Cake Muffins – I got some cocoanut flour for a Christmas present and so I found this recipe to try. The flavour was really quite good, especially considering that there was no salt, but the texture was weird.

15. Kamut-Wheat Pizza Crust – I remembered that Vegan Richa did a pizza series for MoFo one year, and I wanted to use the abovementioned barbecue sauce on a pizza AND branch out and try a new pizza crust. So I decided on this one. It was very tasty; I managed to gum up my grain mill with the cashews because I’m brilliant that way. (I was trying to grind the wheat, kamut, and cashews together, because I ain’t got cashew flour. Don’t try this at home.) Anyway, I don’t think I’ll make it again unless I come into possession of pre-ground cashew flour, but I did really like it!

And in case you were interested, I topped the pizza with the BBQ sauce, chickpeas, minced chives and green onions, and Daiya. It was great!

From Vegan Brunch:

16. Toasted Cocoanut-Mango Muffins – SOOOO YUMMMMM. I want to try it with dried pineapple next, and I also must try the chocolate chip version sometime very soon.

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17. English Muffins – These tasted good, but I think my next try will be better. The only other time I tried making English muffins resulted in some indigestible leaden discs, so this definitely was better than that, but I think there’s some skill to be gained from practise. Figuring out exactly how long to pan-fry, how to be sure they’re baked through – it’ll come with time. They were good and went fast!

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18. Cocoa Raspberry Muffins – I subbed chopped frozen strawberries for the raspberries because that’s what I had. These were tender and delish, not too sweet (unless you ask Mr Pine Nut, who thinks everything is too sweet ;-) ) I’d like to try these with cherries next! They were good the next day also, and then I refrigerated them and they were still good. Can’t say that for some muffins.

19. Bakery-Style Muffins – I did use a little whole wheat flour and reduced the sugar a smidge, but these were decadent and delightful. I may or may not have eaten six.

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20. NYC Coffee Cake – This was astonishingly delicious. I don’t think I’ll ever make another coffee cake again. No, really.

From Isa Does It:

21. Creamy Potato-Leek Soup – I liked this, but wasn’t over the moon about it.

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22. Jumbo Oatmeal Raisin Cookies – I’m lousy at math, but I did figure out the following: I did a double batch and consumed 30% of the dough before the cookies were done baking. These were WAY easy and the dough was amazing. The cookies were really great as well.

23. Carrot Cake Pancakes – These were really good!

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24. Creamy Sundried Tomato Penne – Also very pleased with this. It looks kinda complicated, but it actually was really easy and came together quite fast. I used some cauliflower as well because I had some along with broccoli that was dying in the refrigerator.

From Appetite for Reduction:

25. Arabian Lentil Soup – Many other PPKers were raving about this soup, and so I made it. It was very good; not to die for, but it was very simple and I’d make it again.

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From Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar:

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26. Key Lime Shortbread Rounds – SO good. The dough was grand, and the baked cookies were no less exceptional, even considering I didn’t have quite enough lime zest as was called for.

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27. Sweet Chocolate Pretzels – these were just okay to me. They weren’t bad, but I wasn’t thrilled with them either for the amount of work they were. The dough was tasty though! Tastier than the final cookie. And the end result did look charmingly pooplike, if you’re into that kind of thing.

From Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World:

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28. S’mores Cupcakes – So, one of my gripes about this book is how many of the recipes call for non-dairy yogurt. I have some yogurt at the moment, so I was all “lemme make some cupcakes!” And as I was paging through I realised that actually a lot of them don’t actually call for yogurt. So… I guess it seems one way when I have no yogurt vs. when I do. ANYWAY, these are really good. The cupcakes really do taste like graham crackers. I was too lazy to make a chocolate ganache, would would have been easier to eat and more chocolatey than the chocolate chips, but hey, it looks pretty! Would definitely make again.

Cookbooks [or other sources] represented in January: 8

Did I meet my goal? Yes, plus 8. Yay!

See you next month, with February’s recipe report!

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Categories: brunch, challenges, cookies, dessert, soup, vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Saga of the Ever-Changing Kitchen!

Okay, so it’s not actually ever-changing, but it’s changed a lot since my last kitchen tour post, not to mention the one before that, because we’re, oh, IN THE HOUSE. Partly for your perusal, but mostly for my own records, here’s a current peek at my makeshift kitchen!

_MG_5071Here’s an overall view of the south end of my kitchen, with a bonus Lou Who and Pumpkitten II.

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This shelf used to be in my sewing closet, and someday it may again be used for that, but for now it sure is handy in my kitchen. On the bottom are canisters of staples: rolled oats, mixed rolled grains, granola, flaxseed, and frequently-used dried beans.

Next shelf up is dried fruit.

Third shelf up, my spice shelf of doom.

Top shelf, vitamins, meds, oils, salt, a digital clock, an assortment of nukkys, random overflow spices, a mortar and pestle, bandaids, my glass of water,  and my kitchen scale.

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Here’s the stove. This stove was in the house that we tore down when we bought the property, because it was a stinking mouldy mess, about 19 times worse than the trailer. It still works. We stored it in the shed until we had this room ready for it and a plug to plug it into, and then we Thoroughly Santised it, because there was a dead mouse in it and apparently years’ worth of bacon grease, or something. Blech. So anyway, it’s a good stove and although I’d like a nicer one someday, I’m happy to have one that works for now.

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Next to the stove is this counter. It is a clever counter because it is supported solely by my precious decoupaged table (that has a towel on top to protect it from harm). There is a piece of plywood, a layer of black plastic, and tiles that will eventually be our utility room floor. Mr Pine Nut made me shelves with boards and cinderblocks, and I appropriated the plastic drawers (also a sewing room item in a former life) to store silverware, baking things, kitchen towels, and miscellany.

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Here’s what the black plastic looks like under the tiles. I have to lift the tiles occasionally to clean around and under them, since flour tends to sift through the cracks when I make bread or whatever.

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And this is under the counter: my aseptic milk stash, oil, pots and pans, flour mill, and other stuff.

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And this is the west end of my kitchen. The yellow buckets have white flour, wheat berries, brown rice, and rolled oats: things we go through the most. There are also stacks of boxes of last fall’s canned goods and a juicer.

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And this is my living room bookshelf that is, for now, a kitchen shelf. The top has a variety of grains we use for breakfasts, the food processor, popcorn popper, and utensils. Next down is all my storage containers, mixing bowls, and kidlet dishes. Bottom shelf has my most-used cookbooks and more canned goods both storebought and homemade. I still have the convection oven there on the floor too! I don’t use it much any more, but I’m glad to have it.

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And finally, the north side of the kitchen. Same counter setup. The dishwasher was a free item from a lady at church who was upgrading; the sink is a cast-iron Kohler sink that we got for $35, and the refrigerator was also free – we just had to go pick it up. As you can see, the bag dryer is still getting heavy use! :-) We have our knives on the far end of the counter, and this is also my morning grooming spot, so I have a little mirror on the windowsill and all my “stuff” in the overnight bag on the counter. Yes, we do have bathroom mirrors, but no bathroom sinks or counters, so this is easiest for me.

So that’s my update. But I’m going to leave you with this, because it makes me really happy:

That's Mr Pine Nut plastering the walls of the office, the first room we'll be finishing! I AM BEYOND EXCITED

That’s Mr Pine Nut plastering the walls of the office, the first room we’ll be finishing! I AM BEYOND EXCITED

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Categories: around the kitchen, Mrs Pine Nut | Tags: , | Leave a comment

End of Another Year!

Because it’s always fun, here’s a tiny rundown of the year on this blog!

Gluten Steaks

Simple Gluten Steaks: At 517 views, this was my most-looked-at post this year. Pretty much every single day, and obviously more than once on some days, this humble little post has been leading the pack pretty much since it was posted. I don’t know why, but I find that odd.

65 different countries came to visit this blog.

My top three picks for favourite posts of this year:
Hollywood Squares
Basic Brasilian Rice
Cornbread

Postings were slimmer this year, I know. I’ve just not had as much to say or share, recipe-wise! Maybe next year.

It has been such a year of (positive) change for my life, so please don’t begrudge my absence! ;-) With room to spread out, I’ve been able to do more than “just cook”, like I did in the trailer. I do believe it was something of a coping mechanism. I’m sewing again and doing other stuff, and now that my little ones are getting beyond the constant maintenance stage, spending time reading to them and interacting with them in a new way is essential.

10349127_10154927190720253_5325212105910107267_nGooGoo just turned 5, and she’s interested in “numbers” (letters) and loves books.

Chocolate on her face, and doll glasses on.

Chocolate on her face, and doll glasses on.

Lou Who is 2, and follows GooGoo around everywhere doing whatever she does. I love watching them, and they adore each other.

2014, it was nice knowing you!

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Random Catch-uppances

I’ve been more and more neglectful of this blog, it seems. Life continues to go on, and I make food, but there’s so much going on that I’ve not had time or motivation to spend much of my life blogging here about said food. I’ve been doing cookbook testing that I can’t talk about yet, for one, and music has been the centre of my life for two months straight. Priorities!

Here’s some of what I’ve been up to over the year.

  • One of the things I’ve been working through this year is continued growth in the mental/physical health arena. I was having a load of health problems earlier in the year – allergies causing sinus infections over and over again, on top of what I believe was spiritual oppression. I dealt with it for about 4 months, getting worse and worse. In July I hit a point where I could barely walk and then simply couldn’t get out of bed, because I was so exhausted, and then some things happened. First I was ordered back onto my antidepressants by my therapist, about the same time I also requested to be anointed at church. The anointing happened on a Sabbath after church, low-key and quiet in one of the elders’ offices at church, and I am happy to report by the time I got home afterwards that day, I was again able to walk and function like a normal person. It was such a drastic, immediate change after weeks of hardly being able to drag myself out of bed, and I revelled in it, praising the Lord, for several days before going to pick up the prescription that was waiting for me. So I’ve been back on the meds since July, and I have roughly 5 months to go now on this round of the medication before we decide if I try to go off it again. I don’t know where it will go from here, but I am doing so much better, and I’m thankful for friends who have more perception and wisdom than I do, who dragged me kicking and screaming through the fog to the light. It is so wonderful to have energy, to feel creative, to actually be sending out Christmas cards this year for the first time in years without being totally overwhelmed and shutting down.
  • Living in our house, unfinished as it may be, has been wonderful beyond words. If you’ve never spent over two years in a mouldy deathtrap of doom, you simply will not understand. I don’t even care that my house isn’t finished, I’m just so thankful to be in it. Little by little we’re working on it. But we have space, light, indoor plumbing, space, and heat. And space. This is far more than much of the world can hope for in their lifetimes. We are abundantly blessed.
  • I discovered I have Scottish blood in me and have been embracing this discovery with every drop of said blood. My ScottishSpam on Pinterest? I apologise for nothing.
  • I’ve been working on listing stuff in my Etsy shop. Take a look! All the money after fees and tithe from these sales are going towards paying off my harp loan.
  • The most important personal development of this year, by far, has been that I have held out my musician’s heart in trembling hands to the world. I have been mortally afraid of opening my past to my closest friends, let alone strangers, but I have now shared my story via another blog: The Harp in the Closet. It is raw, simple, emotional, my very soul spilled out in words: a side of me that has not ever been on this blog, and indeed few see even in real life. It has actually been published for about 6 months now, and gotten over 1000 hits, but I am only now getting the courage to share about it here with a wider audience rather than with just individuals. Consider taking a little time to read it from start to finish. If it resonates with you in any way, please share it with your friends.
  • Finally, here’s a picture of our pretty tree and a cute cat:

Screen Shot 2014-12-07 at 7.37.34 PMMerry Christmas (or whatever holiday you’re celebrating!) from all of us Pine Nuts.

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Categories: holiday, Mrs Pine Nut, pumpkitten, sickness | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

COOKIE GIVEAWAY WINNERS!

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Cookie Giveaway to Celebrate 100 Likes on Facebook!

This giveaway has now closed. I’ll be drawing names on Sunday. Thank you, everyone who entered!

Well, I have finally gotten to 100 likes on Facebook!

Actually, it’s been a couple weeks since this happened, but life and concerts have been going full steam ahead with little reprieve.

So, to celebrate, I have decided to have a cookie giveaway: three people will get a dozen cookies from my kitchen!

Here are your options.

If you want to try one of the cookies I’ve posted here, you can choose from these:
Brown Sugar and Apple Butter Cookies (except it’ll be pear butter, because I have no apple butter at the moment)
Gingerbread People (or cats, or foxes, or hearts, or teapots)
Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pie Wannabes
Everything But the Kitchen Sink Cookies

I’m also open to making the following cookies out of Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar:
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Kitchen Sink Chocolate Biscotti (you’ll choose 3 add-ins out of whatever I have on hand at the moment! :-))
Mexican Chocolate Snickerdoodles
Cowgirl Cookies (cranberries, cocoanut, and walnuts are in these)
Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

A few notes:

1. I cannot do gluten-free cookies because I cannot guarantee that anything in my kitchen is really gluten free. So if you’re celiac or otherwise sensitive to gluten this is, unfortunately, not the giveaway for you.

2. Regarding other allergies besides gluten: you will need to let me know if you have sensitivities to, say, soy or almonds or peanuts so I can substitute other things in their place. There will be no eggs, dairy, or honey in any of the cookies I make for this giveaway.

So, how to enter! Just leave a comment on this post telling me something about cookies, which cookie you’d choose if you win, or perhaps a happy cookie memory!

I will close this giveaway in one week, on October 31, and pick names out of a hat. And then I’ll contact the three winners within a couple days. If you do not respond within 24 hours with your contact info, I will then choose another winner.

Categories: giveaway | 13 Comments

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