Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I will learn to bake, gosh darn it!

Life has been a little crazy lately! I've been having classic hypothyroid symptoms (well, for like 10 years, but I didn't know all my weirdness could be a medical condition until recently), and trying to figure out crazy blood tests with my doctor. Fun! It looks like I have "subclinical hypothyroidism," but my B12 is on the low end of normal, so the doc wants me to take mega B12 doses and then re-check my thyroid in January. I may need to start medication and drastically cut down my soy intake... but we'll see.

Enough of that! Two of my awesome vegan blogger buds, VeganView and Vegan Crunk, have awarded me the Butterfly Blog Award! Woohoo! Thanks, ladies! "I'd like to thank the academy, and Isa Chandra Moskowitz, and Sarah Kramer, and Food Fight, and Herbivore, and, and, and..."

So onto the baking portion of this blog post! I didn't grow up in a home that ate fresh food or really cooked at all, so I never learned to cook. I've figured out how to prepare a decent meal as an adult (thanks in large part to my husband who spent a lot of time experimenting in the kitchen as a child, and has parents who are great cooks!), but following a recipe is still a little tricky for me. I'm working on it, and VeganMoFo helped a lot! And then there's baking. I have attempted to bake things a few times a year since I became vegan almost four years ago, and very little of it has been tasty. I think part of the problem has been that I tend to use random recipes off of vegweb, and part that I don't understand the lingo or have natural instincts with baking. I have a very limited sense of smell, so I can't tell when something is burning. I have no idea what pancake batter should look like compared to cookie batter. I don't have an electric mixer or one of those contraptions that mix together powdery stuff. But, there is hope!

I recently bought Vegan with a Vengeance and started using The Joy of Vegan Baking that I got for the holidaze last year. Both of these books are very patient with the novice, and have lots of pointers, tips, and tricks that have been REALLY helpful to me. Here are a few of my recent accomplishments:

Basic Pancakes plus blueberries from VWAV
Look! These look like tasty pancakes! And I made them! Isa included a whole page of pancake tips, the most helpful being to cook them on one side for about 4 minutes. I have a timer for my french press that goes for 4 minutes, which totally came in handy. I also discovered that I have probably WAY overmixed every other pancake batter I've ever made.

Chocolate Brownie a la mode from JofVB
I like that there's no soy ingredients (if you don't add the chocolate chips), and these brownies use flax seeds and applesauce for their moistness! There weren't any special tricks, but this just seemed to be a fool proof recipe. These were so tasty that I took them to work!

Peanut Butter cookies (some plus choc. chips) from JofVB
These cookies were delicious! The first batch I baked was perfect, but the second batch came out a little burnt. I think it was because I had a little less dough, so the cookies were smaller, and I should have adjusted the time a bit more (or made fewer cookies, but made those regular size). The tip in this recipe that really helped is to whip EnerG egg replacer in the blender, rather than by hand in a tiny bowl. Or at least I think it helped. It definitely looked more like egg consistency than when I usually make them!

Chocolate Chip Scones from JofVB
These were absolutely amazing. I still can't believe I made them! Colleen made very clear in the recipe exactly what the dough should look like, and how exactly what to expect from the dough as you add more ingredients. Can you tell I like chocolate yet??? Well, I AM a woman, afterall!

Four recent successes... pretty exciting stuff! Tomorrow morning we're going over to my mom's for breakfast, then over to Jesse's parents' for the rest of the day. I'm going to attempt the Sparkled Ginger Cookies tomorrow morning from VWAV :) Tonight I'll be roasting a bunch of root veggies and making Cranberry Salsa which I've made the last few Tofurkey Days and is always a hit. I serve it over Tofutti Cream Cheese with crackers. Field Roast's Celebration Roast will be my centerpiece, and Jesse's mom always makes me a vegan version of the mashed potatoes, stuffing, candied yams, and gravy. Awwww!

Have a happy, relaxed, and tasty Thanksgiving everyone! xoxoxo ~Chelsea

P.S. Don't forget Fur Free Friday! This annual event will be happening in cities all over the world, and the Portland one will be starting up at 11:00 am (meet at Pioneer Square, west side). Compassion is the fashion, don't buy fur!


Anonymous said...

Mmm, everything looks delicious =)

Have a great Thanksgiving!!

Jeni Treehugger said...

Happy Happy Thanksgiving!
All those baked goods look wonderful!!

Joanna said...

you have certainly been a baking addict lately!!! everything looks wonderful. i love rice ice cream!! my favorite kind is the carrot cake... wait, the key lime pie. haha i like them both.

that brownie looks divine!

Sal said...

The cookies and brownies both look soooo good!!

River said...

Damn! Everything looks so good I wouldn't know what to eat first!

I hope your thyroid problems get better with the B12!

jessy said...

all of your baked goods look wonderful, Chelsea! especially the brownies & the pancakes! mmmmmmmm! i think i may ask for The Joy of Vegan Baking for christmas - sounds like a great cookbook, indeed! sorry to hear about your subclinical hypothyroidism. i hope you get back to feeling like yourself soon! hugs & happy thoughts are coming your way! :D