Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Very Vegan Thyme Christmas! (Vegan Christmas Cookies Galore, A Party to Attend, Dog Treats, Apple Butter, Dexter and More!)

"It was the week before Chirstmas and all through the house, all I could do was creep around with flour on my blouse. I fell in the snow, scraped up my hand, then turned on the oven, parchment paper in hand. Grandma's recipes were scattered about, my hands were covered in dough, food coloring and sprinkles while Dr. Thyme sat back (reading without Nook) all of the fine books one library could hold. Suddenly I noticed a cookie I craved. . .then another and another, till all we had were cookies, a cake, dog treats and the first season of Dexter to keep us entertained."

Monday, December 13, 2010

Ginger, Fig, Black Pepper Spice Loaf with Lemon Glaze (Snow Day Pictures or "How Not to Make Snow Angels with The Kids")

By now most of you have heard of the "Snow My God!" storm that left the Midwest in a lovely shade of white. I love snow more than chocolate and this girl was not about to stay inside. There were snow angels to make and dogs to entertain! All week long the weather heads were saying a "storm" was wandering across the Plains packing a powerful punch, but all we could expect from it would be a light dusting. Well dang it, I thought. Then Friday rolled around and that dusting changed to "minor" accumulation. Then Saturday. . . "an inch to maybe three inches". Now we're talking! I could hardly sleep!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Vegan Banana Bread (from Marathon Runner and "Flour" Bakery Owner Joanne Chang)

I probably have over a dozen banana bread recipes in my cookbooks and over two dozen banana bread recipes in my newspaper and magazine clippings I've saved. I had no intention of adding such a basic, well-worn recipe to my December holiday posts. Until last night.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Vegan Gingersnap Cookies (Knitting HIM A Chirstmas Sweater and More Jim Lahey Bread: The Baguette)

I made a promise to my husband that the next, NEXT batch of cookies baked would be gingersnaps (his favorite). I baked, I promised, and I baked and I promised. Until finally after baking an incredibly good holiday ginger and fig loaf cake Saturday night (recipe coming shortly), I said, Doesn't the house smell amazing? To which his reply was, Are those my gingersnaps you promised me you'd bake? Um, no. . . it's a cake. . . but your gingersnaps are NEXT! And I got busy parsing through recipes finally settling on my own version combining Fannie Farmer, an old Amish Gingersnap recipe and Martha Stewart one for inspiration. I proudly say and with every confidence: there is not a better gingersnap around. These were and are everything a gingersnap lover would want: chewy in the center, crisp on the edges, very gingery, very cinnamony, and overall, a good jump into my holiday cookie-baking-palooza!
Welcome Christmas!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Chili N' Garlic Mashers with Skillet Cornbread (Jim Lahey Olive Bread Experiment. . . And Love!)

I had a desperate but brilliant cooking moment last night about six. I really didn't know what we were having for dinner yet. I've been struggling to get my cooking mojo back. (The post-holiday-my sister-is-gone blahs.) For comfort and nourishment, bread baking has sort of taken over. I have bread lust. Serious bread lust. I could live on bread alone--through the entire month of December. More on bread in a sec. So last night in my dire need of inspiration, this eureka moment happened. I had a craving for chili. I also had a craving for garlic mashed potatoes. Viola: enter the "chili-n'-garlic-mashed-potato-and-skillet-cornbread bonanza"! And this all came together in about forty-five minutes. I dare say it was genius. Dr. Thyme proclaimed it so. Well, I am going to second that. And I had seconds, too! And if you say, Oh, that's just inverted Shephard's Pie. Well, okay. You can call it that. But I usually don't season my shephard's pie with chili powder and cumin and cilantro and a TON of garlic. This hit the spot and then some.

I really wanted my first post of December to be cookies. Today, I am baking cookies. Posting on said cookies shortly. The danger in the cookie making is the mass consumption of the cookie dough that yours truly has a problem with. So I will need to pound out a few good miles of a run before setting out my flour and what-have-you for all things cookies and sweet. And for sharing my cookies, yesterday I snagged some really adorable cookie tins at Wal Mart--a buck a piece. Can't beat that with a stick now can you? Say what you will about Wal Mart (and I used to have a snooty friend who did say they were the evil incarnate), but I used to say back, Well, for those of us on a home budget and a single income household and not cashing a ridiculous salary--I'll take Wal Mart, Thank You Very Much!  

Monday, November 29, 2010

My Sister, My Family: This is What Matters

Today's post is for me, my sister, my husband, and for anyone who shares a life with others.
My two favorite people in the whole wide world: Dr. Thyme and Sissy. If you've got a sister, you will totally get my post today. If not, well, I am certain there is someone in your life with whom much of the following applies. (Especially for us girls.)

Friday, November 26, 2010

This Week's Thanksgiving Photo Journal: Food, Friends, Family, Bread (Plus A Culinary Academy Chef's Vegan Treat for Me!)

This past month has been, well, NUTS! Seems my to-do, get-to, and re-do list keeps growing and growing. I've eaten my vegan Thanksgiving meal and have a ton of leftovers. (It was only Dr. Thyme and I for the festive, relaxing day.) Did that stop me from cooking for eight hours? NO!

As you might have guessed--I did not head out at two this morning to catch any bargains (or catch the flu for crying out loud--ewww, crowds) but rather slept in so the elves could work on my face. I predicted to Dr. Thyme this morning: Thanksgiving is going to become a day of shopping within the next two years--stores will not close. Hey, I'm not happy about it, but if one retailer opens, you can bet some bookkeeper in another White Ivory Tower is taking note and making the tally marks wondering how much of that "money pie" they missed out on by NOT opening on Thanksgiving. I paid my dues in retail for almost twenty years--I feel for every single retail sales person out there today: I'm sending you my love!

My sister arrived on Saturday! Now, I don't have pictures of my sister and I to share yet because we are both too busy catching up. We will do photos tomorrow when she returns from visiting her friends. Meantime, I have a whole slide show of other goings-on to share. I had a wonderful week filled with massive amounts of food. My sister woke up on Tuesday morning and said, Your house smells like a Panera Bread restaurant. The highest compliment I think I could ever ask for! I cooked non-stop for her. I loved every minute of it! She thinks I am a little "cooking obsessed" but I shared with her that I do need my days off--but how often do I get to cook for her? I wanted every single minute and morsel of food she had to be something I lovingly created just for her. She loved every bit of it!

Then, I had the divine pleasure of spending two days with one of my best friends. We've known each other now almost twenty-five years. We don't advertise this much because that would allow others to "do the math" and figure out how old we really might be. We'll leave it at Almost Fifty for now. Her husband is a former chef who graduated from the San Francisco Culinary Academy. He is my kitchen idol, while his wife remains my kitchen humorist. When we planned our gathering this week and I packed my overnight bag for the visit, I also packed a Trader Joe's cold storage bag of Match Meats Chicken, tofu sour cream and Silk Creamer plus some bananas. (I have to have a banana every morning.) I packed the creamer because I need it for my coffee--mandatory morning beverage. (Thank god they had the Keurig coffee maker--I heart Keurig!) I packed the sour cream because it tastes good on everything. I packed the Match because I just knew I'd catch "H" for bringing my vegan lifestyle into their neck of the woods--where, I will be honest, many-a-folk are cattle raising types and there ain't a whole lot of us vegans around. Let's just say I probably tipped the town over at my arrival increasing the vegan population by 100%. Nonetheless, the chef did NOT disappoint and I got to sit side saddle and be sous chef while he directed the entree. What a thrill!

I have recently fallen in love with a new bread book (well, new to me anyway): My Bread by Jim Lahey. Wow. That's all I can say is: Wow. Get this book if you even have a kernel of desire to be a spoiled rotten bread baker. I didn't think I'd ever step away from the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes book recipes, then I met Jim. If I thought it would not be so crazy to do so, or be a "question the sanity of Kelly" issue--I'd take my frequent flyer miles right now and fly to New York to meet this man of the Sullivan Street Bakery in New York. I still might. Meantime, I have requested that Dr. Thyme visit said bakery on his next trip and pack a loaf away for me in his luggage and also--get an inscribed napkin or something from this Jim because I am a convert and now. . . sort of a bread gawker fan!
Dr. Thyme's photography. He thought the Jim Lahey Bread deserved a more "creative" picture and employed the "sepia" tone button to impress.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Winter Pea, Granny Smith Apple And Potato Soup (Company's Comin': Getting My Festive On!)

My mother's pea soup this is not. Seems to me I recall many pea soups from my childhood, but none quite like this. Flipping through the myriad of cookbooks I own, the apple and pea combo appear more than once. I was intrigued enough to finally give it a go--but with my own twists. Let me be honest, I only had: apples, peas, one onion, some garlic and a few potatoes on hand. I was even out of celery. I am never out of celery! Lucky for me, I have some celery I grew that is just begging to be used--still green. Note to me--plant more celery next year. So in the pitch dark last night, I found myself in my garden feeling for stalks of celery trying not to cut off my own finger.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Sweat-4-Pets Fundraiser Recap/Survival Update (T.V. Interview Link, Too!)

By the time Sunday rolled around, it was all in a higher power's hands. And I mean that literally. First thing you may be wondering is, How did Sweat-4-Pets go? Well, after a month of anticipation--well, make that a year because we begin laying the groundwork for this right after the event. It is truly a labor of love. We had nearly 350 participants--all combined--the walk and the run. Over three hundred people finished the races. I have said this before and will say it again--St. Louis is one of the most generous animal-loving communities in the country!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Pumpkin Ginger Date Breakfast Muffins (Backyard Fall Colors Emerge and My Garden Sage)

These muffins were my first attempt ever at baking with "fresh pumpkin" (sorry Libby's). I'm officially a fresh pumpkin convert from here on out. "Oven, meet Mr. Pumpkin!" Nothing could have been easier--and my house smelled divine! I hate to think of all the pumpkins I let go to "rot" just because I didn't have a clue about the merits of roasting one's own pumpkins. So don't let the idea of "roasting your own pumpkin" for these muffins deter you--trust me--it is totally worth the little effort it takes. We've had these pumpkin ginger date muffins for breakfast every day this week. They were moist and tasty all week long! They also made the perfect little pairing with my pick-me-up-snap-me-out-of-my-coma cup of coffee.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Vegan Peanut Butter Blondies (A Fire and. . . )

I am on my second batch of these peanut butter blondies. I won't lie--they are THAT good! Why a second batch? I had the unfortunate pleasure of sharing the remainder of the first batch with our local firemen. Gee, Kelly, why were you sharing these with firemen? Well, because a neighbor's home caught fire Wednesday morning. Luckily nobody was injured. Luckily I had enough wits about me to run home--make a thermos of hot tea and grabbed my half-eaten pan of the blondies. What the heck else is someone so freaked out by the scare (seeing five fire engines parked along your street will do that) going to do? Especially someone like me who is prone to having extremely poor self management skills in the area of "emergencies". Short of running around like a "screaming meemie" and ringing my hands, I felt I lent just about enough help to keep everyone else aware of "the woman with the thermos of hot tea and blondies" tending to the needs of the victims with hot refills of Tension Tamer. It was awful. One minute all is well. The next, not so much. Like an angel from above, the Red Cross showed up within a few short minutes. They are angels, truly.  


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