Sunday, December 20, 2009

Cookie Sloppiness

I tried my hand at gingerbread cookies last week. The recipe (from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar) was aptly spiced, but I had a lot of issues with rolling out the dough. Chilled it for a few hours, but no matter how much I floured my counter, I still had issues with the dough sticking. Good thing I was only doing circles and nothing elaborate. To up the dorkiness, I even attempted to use the frosting to write different elements, since I was serving the cookies to chemists after all. Let's just say that writing with royal icing (or whatever cookie icing is technically called) is much harder than you'd think...

And now for a bonus snow shot on Cornell's campus:

Monday, December 14, 2009

Bread and Breakfast

Somehow, in all of my German/European jaunts, the simple breakfast of toast with various spreads and fresh fruit has become my staple. Before becoming vegan, I was really big on cereal, but afterwards, I started eating it less and less. I think it was a combination of the cereal expense (when I lived on my own at school), and the soymilk in the cereal just wasn't doing it for me. In the deep of winter I'll switch to steel cut oats, but for most of the year, I'm a toast kind of gal.

I've even been experimenting with making my own jam (in small as needed batches), and you'll see a slice with cherry jam peeking at you from the back of the picture. My default has been two cups fruit with one cup sugar, and varying the cooking time. I still haven't found a good cook time as my first cherry jam was too much like soft candy (whoops! Had to mold it with my fingers instead of spreading with a knife), and the more recent didn't set up enough. I also made quince jam, which was my first experience with quinces! It was a lovely pink color and somewhat delicate tasting. I used the recipe found here.

I didn't want to talk about jam today, but rather my love of the sunflower seed spread that is so popular across the pond. If the states are lacking in the food department, it is a variety of spreads for bread or veggies. I brought back a myriad of several flavors, but my favorite was Apfel-Zwiebel (apple-onion). This sounds like a rather odd combination, but it is amazing. Since I no longer have my original jar, (it has long since succumbed to a mold invasion after residing in my fridge too long, as I kept putting off finishing the jar), I am not entirely sure if the taste of my homemade spread is exactly the same, but it sure is close. I based the recipe off of the one found on Mihl's awesome site and the ingredient list on my original jar:

Sonnenblumenkerne (sunflower seeds) 29%
Wasser (water)
Zwiebeln (onions) 19%
sonnenblumenöl (sunflower oil)
Apfelpüree (apple puree) 4%
Zitronensaft (lemon juice)
Meersaltz (salt)
Pfeffer (pepper)

Like the true science nerd that I am, I really did play around with the ingredient percentages to figure out the right balance of amounts. My tweaked recipe is below. It is really easy, and is not as liquid-y after a time in the fridge.

1/2 cup + ~1 Tbsp raw sunflower seeds
1/4 cup canola oil
1/3 cup water
4 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt
dash of pepper
1/3 cup white/yellow onion*
6 tsp apple sauce*

You basically throw everything together in the food processor, except the * denotes extra preparation. For the onions, I chop them up pretty small and saute them alone until they start to get glassy and soft. Don't cook them too long or they will get overly sweet. I usually do a whole small onion, which produces more than I need, and save the leftovers for some dinner dish later in the week. I add the onions to the food processor last, and puree half the amount rather well, then add the rest and just let them mix in slightly, since I try to make it authentic with small onion chunks in the finished product. For the apple, I take a decent sized one, not an overly sweet variety. Chop it up (skin intact), put it in a small pan with 1/3 cup of water, and let it boil and cook with the lid on for 15 minutes or so, until the apple is quite tender. I puree it in the food processor first, measuring out what I need, and eating the rest. (This very simple and satisfying applesauce of sorts was inspired by Mary.) Enjoy!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

I should probably live in Europe

Seriously. I get a total kick out of European/German things. Just last night, the German post-docs that I know introduced me to a few of their friends who were in town. Even got to speak a little auf Deutsch, and boy was I rusty (but still managed to get complimented on it?). Weird.

But back on topic, here is something that I should have shared a month and a half ago, but yeah... So, belatedly presenting my ppk care package exchange!

For anyone who has been over the pond and back a few times, you'll recognize the yellow postal service package and symbol on the box that is similar from to several different countries. I was lucky enough to have an exchange parter from Austria, which was great fun, and an excuse for me to send a card in German along with my mailed goodies.

One of the cutest things in my package, hands down, were the owl pretzels. Seriously. How can you not love those little guys? I found that dipped in the hazelnut spread that I also received, together they made a great sweet and salty afternoon snack. Mmm too bad those birdies went into my stomach a bit too quickly.