DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS HAS MOVED! PLEASE VISIT THE SHINY NEW DDD BY CLICKING HERE.

DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS has moved! 

If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site.  Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!

As always, thanks for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.” 

For me, baking is a form of therapy and meditation rolled into one. Since it’s a long weekend here in Ontario (Happy Victoria Day!); and since I’ve been assiduously following my Total Health course guidelines up until now; and since I’ve got scads of marking to finish before Monday–I decided to take a break. In other words, I decided to bake cookies. I found the recipe for Cozy Inside’s Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies and prepared to adapt the general concept to a NAG-friendly alternative.

[Brief aside: It always astonishes me how acute (and also how "cute"--don't you just love their noses?) a dog's sense of smell can be (anywhere from 100 to 1 million times greater than humans', depending on whom you believe).  No matter what the statistic, Our Girls are evidently both healthy in the realm of olfactory acuity. While I pondered my recipe, I unscrewed the jar of peanut butter, absent-mindedly scooping some into the measuring cup.  Even before the PB hit the glass, I detected the patter of little paws as Elsie and Chaser sauntered nonchalantly into the room.  "Um, Mum, it appears you are scooping peanut butter.  Would any of that be directed, perchance, toward our Kongs?"]

After positioning The Girls in their usual spot just beyond the kitchen’s perimeter, I set about mixing my cookies. Maybe I was distracted by the canine audience in the peanut (butter) gallery; maybe I was preoccupied with the remaining assignments awaiting their grades; or maybe I took a subconscious cue from a fellow blogger who’s mentioned her propensity to overlook certain recipe instructions. . . but before I knew it, the cookies were mixed, they’d been popped in the oven and were baking. . .whatever the case, I was suddenly hit with the realization:

I’d omitted a MAJOR ingredient!

I mean, “Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies”–with NO OATMEAL?  (Duh–Dude, it’s, like, the first word in the title!)

That got me thinking about lies.  Lies, damn lies, and. . . biscuits. The cookies baked on; I waited, breath bated.  Would my error end up a sin of omission–or a serendipitous oversight? 

Well, I’m sure we’re all familiar with “little white lies” (To wit: “Oh, yes, your outfit is. . . really original” or “I’m so sorry to cancel at the last minute. . . must be that 24-hour stomach flu that’s going around. . . ” or “No, honey, I didn’t forget to pick up the milk on the way home, but my car was almost out of gas, so I decided to wait until tomorrow instead. . .”).  Such behavior is often rationalized on the grounds that the recipient’s feelings are spared.  Sorry, but I think that’s baloney (or, if you’re otherwise inclined, tofurkey):a  lie is a lie.

But what about those lies of omission–just “keeping mum”?  When I was in my twenties, I knew someone who used this method with stellar results.  If faced with an uncomfortable question, she simply avoided it and diverted attention to another topic, like a New York con man with a shell game. Alternately, she didn’t answer at all (in which case, technically, she never had to lie).  Here’s an example:

Mother: Are you and your girlfriends going to a rave and taking drugs tonight?

Teen:  Geez, Mom, look at what I’m wearing.  Do I look like I’m going to a rave?

Mother: Well, um. . .  [knits brow in confusion]. Well, have a good time, dear.

See how easy?  Here’s a slightly more intricate prevarication: 

Mother:  Hmm.  So you’re going to spend two weeks at your boyfriend’s apartment in Los Angeles.  Well, you know how I feel about these things. . . are you going to sleep in the same bed with him?

Daughter: [rolling eyes and grimacing distastefully] Geez, Mom.  The place has a hide-a-bed in the living room.

Mother: Um, well, okay. . . . [knits brow in confusion]. Well, have a good time, dear.

It’s like the little kid who breaks a vase while Mum is at work, then gingerly hides the shards behind the potted plant; weeks later, when Mum finally happens upon the shattered porcelain and erupts, “Why didn’t you TELL me about this?!!” the child can respond in all honesty: “Well, you never asked. . . ” 

Since this recent cookie debacle, I may need to loosen my standards on the issue. I’ve discovered that sometimes, omission can be a good thing–particularly when it involves chocolate chips and peanut butter. Those cookies were stupendous.  In fact, they are probably the best PB and chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever had–and that’s no lie! 

Just barely dry and crisp on the edges, soft, gooey and fudgy in the middle, they possessed the most delightfully intense peanut butter flavor.  I loved the interplay of crunchy bits of peanut alongside the soft, melted chips in every bite.  (And believe me, many bites were had by all around here). Luckily, I halved the recipe (one of the advantages of vegan baking–no eggs to “divide,” so splitting recipes is easy), or I might have eaten even more.

Earlier this afternoon, the HH returned from a long dog-walk, scrounging for a cookie.  “Where are those cookies you baked yesterday?” he wondered.

“Um, there aren’t any left.” 

“What–none left?  But there were, like, six left over this morning! Where did they all go?”

“I thought you ate some,” I stammered.

“Well, I did, but. . . I mean, I. . . Hey, wait a sec.  DID YOU FINISH ALL THOSE COOKIES??”

I rolled my eyes, and grimaced distastefully.  “Now, really, HH.  Do you honestly think I would eat six cookies in one day?” 

“Well, um. . . ” [knits brow in confusion].  He wandered back into the kitchen, searching for something else to eat.

What?  Don’t give me that look.  Well, he didn’t ask.  And I certainly wasn’t about to tell. 

(“Mum, don’t worry, your secret is safe with us. Besides, six cookies in one day is nothing. . . we could eat an entire bag of dog cookies in one day, if only you’d let us. . . “)

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

Because I have diverged from the original recipe so much and changed multiple ingredients, I feel comfortble printing this recipe here.  Be warned: if you like the combination of chocolate and peanut butter, you will find these cookies irresistible.  I’d recommend staring with a half recipe first, to test your resolve.

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

Peanut Butter Biscuits

April 26, 2008

 DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS HAS MOVED! PLEASE VISIT THE NEW SITE BY CLICKING HERE.

DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS has moved! 

If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site.  Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!

As always, thanks for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.”]  

Well, it’s been pretty hectic over here in the DDD household. For the past couple of days, I’ve been slogging away at course prep for a course that deals with diaries and personal journals.  (Did you know, for instance, that  the first online diary, or weblog –today known simply as “blog”–was begun in 1994?  Or that psychiatrists and psychologists often ask their patients to use free association or stream-of-consciousness in journals as a way to dredge up old, repressed conflicts or neuroses?)  Okay–enough work for now!  Time for a snack break. 

Ah, but what to eat?  Hmmm. . . .well, funny, but peanut butter popped into my head. Oh, yeah, baby–peanut butter!  I love it.  It’s creamy, it’s delicious, it’s full of–well, nuts. (Oh.  Hmmm. Is that a bad thing, that I just said “nuts”?  Really, I didn’t mean anything by it. . .sometimes, you know, a peanut is just a peanut.).  Peanut butter was one of my favorite foods in childhood.  (Not that I’m trying to re-live my childhood, or anything.) Of course, nowadays, peanut butter is quite often troublesome, potentially deadly, even–all those peanut allergies and sensitivities. . . which is quite sad, actually. All because we were fed too much of it when we were kids. And now we’re paying for it! Where’s the justice in that? I mean, HOW COULD MY MOTHER DO THAT TO ME? Oh, yes, it’s becoming all too clear: It’s all my mother’s fault!  I may never get over it. . . I think I’m getting a complex. . .   

Well, any Freudian issues aside, I must admit that I do remain a bit conflicted about the stuff.  Although I so enjoy the flavor of it, there’s really nothing elegant about peanut butter (on its own, anyway). For many of us, it’s simply a quick, cheap, and easy base for a meal, something we rely on when either time or funds are scarce; and it’s one of the first foods we eschew as soon as we can afford anything better.  And of course there’s the allergy thing, too.

Perhaps worse, peanuts sometimes harbor potentially deadly toxins. As you probably know, the peanut is actually a legume, not a nut; and its shell, being somewhat soft and porous, functions as a perfect hiding place for a variety of molds, foremost among them something called aflatoxin.  When I first read about this particularly virulent fungus and its affinity for peanuts, I stopped eating peanut products that same day. 

And while aflatoxins are generally found only in minute amounts in peanut products (their levels are monitored, ostensibly), they are, nevertheless, twenty times more toxic than DDT, promoting liver damage and a variety of cancers. Unfortunately, organic peanut butter isn’t exempt, even though it’s free of many other carcinogens (read: pesticides, additives).

Well, after a bit of debate, I welcomed my childhood friend back into my home and diet–my feelings for it were just too deeply rooted–but in relatively small quantities.  Besides, the legendary legume still boasts many very positive attributes, and the benefits seemed to equalize the drawbacks.  For instance, peanuts also contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fats; they provide just as many antioxidants as fruit (which would, theoretically, balance out some of the nasty aflatoxin effects); they contain many cancer fighting compounds (again, anti-aflatoxin), and, along with nuts in general, are said to help with weight loss (I am SO on it!).

But was there a way to incorporate the plebeian peanut into the realm of adult tastes? True, you can find peanut butter in a variety of Thai dishes, which I love, or the less-spicy Chinese sauces.  And I made good use of PB in one of my favorite soups of all time, Moroccan Spiced Tomato Soup.

But today, I wanted to find something else.  Something a little more mature.  A little more sophisticated.  A little more. . .baked.

I suppose I could have taken an easy route and opted for that old standard, Peanut Butter Cookies.  With their characteristic cross-hatch and crispy bottoms, they’re a homey, cheerful and somewhat quaint rendering of PB.  And then there’s this bread, which I’ve been salivating over for quite some time.  Looks fabulous, doesn’t it?  But it requires the dreaded yeast, and I just couldn’t shake my anxiety over that one quite yet (is it an Edible Complex? Is it peanut envy?).

In the end, I decided to try something from my copy of the Damn Tasty! cookbook by Kris Holechek, which I bought some time ago and still hadn’t used. (Unfortunately, the book is no longer in print). I flipped to the recipe for Basic Biscuits–quick, easy, familiar–and made a couple of quick adaptations. 

The result was a light (flaky, almost), very appealing biscuit with the added dimension of peanut butter. At the same time, the biscuits are sturdy enough to cut in half and slather with a favorite topping (in my case–more PB!). 

Later, served with a little apple butter, they were reminiscent of those long-ago sandwiches of my childhood. 

Which is a good thing.

No, really.  

Because I used an ice-cream scoop to create uniformly sized biscuits,  I thought this would be a great submission for Joelen‘s Tasty Tools event, this month highlighting scoops.

Peanut Butter Biscuits (adapted from Damn! Tasty Vegan)

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

These are light and not too sweet, with a subtle peanut butter flavor. Like a peanut-butter enhanced whole-wheat biscuit, they exude nutrition, healthfulness and subconscious id-related urges.

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

 

DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS HAS MOVED!  PLEASE VISIT THE NEW SITE BY CLICKING HERE.

Every year, when my sisters and I were kids, for our birthdays we each got a made-from-scratch, personally decorated birthday cake for our party.  One year it was Little Bo Peep, another it was Barbie, still others it was a pretty array of colorful frosting flowers splashed across a chocolate rectangle.  Cake, always cake; but never can I recall having cupcakes for my birthday.

Well, times have changed. In just a few years, cupcakes have become all the rage.  Little cupcake-only shops have sprouted in every major city; and my friend Angie tells me that, in Dallas, they’ve reached a peak of price and exculsivity. One might even say that cupcakes are poised to take over the world!

And so, this season, though I’ve been asked to bake for several children’s parties and an at-home Christmas celebration, in every case I’ve been asked to bake up a batch of cupcakes. 

As a vegan baker who uses neither refined sugar nor margarine, I can sometimes find it incredibly difficult to come up with substitutions that will approximate the same look and taste as conventional recipes (even though I own, and have carefully persued, every page of Isa and Terry’s phenomenal book, and send major kudos their way–especially for the agave-based vanilla cupcakes).  I find it fairly easy to substitute organic coconut butter for margarine, but sugar really is one of a kind, especially when you’re talking buttercream.

So, while I continue to experiment with an agave-based buttercream frosting (and to post to Holidailies), I am left with my old standby, agave fudgy frosting, for cupcakes.  Though delicious and thoroughly chocolatey, it’s not airy in the least, and not as easy to pipe into ruffles or scallops or drop flowers. It tends to sport a high-gloss finish, and can be a bit stiff, sometimes firming up so much that it won’t agree to be piped at all.  When the vanilla version is colored for decorations, it resembles the type of gel-like icings you buy in little tubes in the grocery store–not much fine detail to work with, there. 

cupcakeswscoop.jpg

[cupcakes with a scoop of frosting, waiting to be transformed. . .

So, when I received an order for some last-minute cupcakes decorated with a holiday theme, I wasn’t sure what to do.  Without any formal training in cake decorating (which, I’m fairly sure, wouldn’t be much help with this type of frosting, anyway), I had to improvise.  So I thought about simple line drawings of bells or bows that I could pipe onto the cupcakes, or how I might fill in an outline with colored frosting, which would then be smoothed flat, with something like a stained glass effect.

nakedcupcakes.jpg

[The blank canvas waiting for inspiration] 

Well, in the end, I would say the experiment was a semi-success.  You can tell what I was trying to achieve, but the icing just wouldn’t smooth out, so my holly leaves have little bumpy ridges on them.  Still, they tasted great (what? I couldn’t very well give them away without sampling to ensure quality, now, could I?), and I know that the kids who’ll be eating them will be thrilled. 

cupcakeholiday.jpg

[chocolate and agave holiday cheer] 

With precious little time left before the holiday and so many people on the lookout for Christmas recipes, I’ll contribute one more festive cookie.  These are a dense, chewy round that combines a peanut butter base with chocolate chips and cranberries.  If you bake them the full suggested time, they’ll be crispy on the edges and soft but dry inside.  Bake a little less, and they’ll cool to a moist and chewy goodness.  These are actually better the second day, as the PB flavor intensifies.

Hmm.  Peanut butter, chocolate and cranberries. . . I may just have to bake some of these myself. In the meantime, I’ll keep working on that sugarless vegan buttercream.

Holiday Cranberry Chippers

 

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

Moroccan Spiced Tomato Soup

December 6, 2007

DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS HAS MOVED!

If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site.  Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!

As always, thanks for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.”]  

 

 

As promised, I’m going to supply the recipes from the cooking class I taught last week—my last ever in my home (sniff!). 

moroccantomatosoup2.jpg

But first, I must interrupt today’s entry because I’ve been tagged for a meme! Annie over at Forest Street Kitchen kindly included me in the game.   Considering that up until yesterday I didn’t even know what a meme was, this should be fun. Can I offer this as an open invitation to other readers/bloggers to answer as well?  I’d love to hear from you. And I’ll tag Deb. Here goes: 

FOUR JOBS I HAVE HAD: 

  • Telephone salesperson selling wholesale frozen sides of beef (even funnier once you know that I grew up with a father who was a butcher AND that I don’t eat meat any more).
  • Writer for local entertainment magazine geared at American tourists (MAN do I miss those complimentary tickets to theatre, museums, launch parties, etc.!!)
  • Size 9 dress model (Yes. True. Very long ago. Ah, how the mighty’s weight has risen).
  • Baker for vegetarian restaurant (totally serendipitous, result of a friend with a big mouth—and how I will always love her for getting me involved in this world!).

FOUR PLACES I’VE LIVED: 

  • Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  Born and raised there.  No, I am not a Francophone, though I went to French immersion school and visited France as part of a school trip (it was fantastique!).
  • Framingham, Massachusetts.  Home of the famous heart study.  Also home of (some of) my American cousins, with whom I spent a teenaged summer.
  • Windsor, Ontario, Canada.  Location of the first university I attended (University of Windsor), southernmost city in Canada, actually SOUTH of Detroit.  Where I rediscovered the exquisite joy of reading literature, where I met my beloved mentor (the recent loss of whom I deeply mourn), and where I finally grew up (a bit).  
  • Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  Current home, where I’ve been since coming to do my PhD in 1983, where I married and divorced, subsequently met my HH and adopted my cherished Girls, and rediscovered my childlike tendencies (not to be confused with childish, mind you).

 FOUR PLACES I’VE BEEN ON HOLIDAY: 

  • California: with my best friend A. Three weeks of hysterical laughter, amazing sights, meeting great people, feeling totally independent.
  • London: 30 years after California, two more weeks with A, this time at her home in England, having a riotous time with her and her adorable new hubby.
  • Bandol, France: three weeks as a French immersion student (see above), nerdy enough to actually attend the classes they’d scheduled instead of wandering around the South of France by myself (I did attend scheduled tours, though, which were lovely).
  • Newfoundland, Canada: Two weeks with my Honey, our first “real” vacation together, as we discovered the beauty and bounty of our very own country, and how it is so vast that a short flight east can feel like visiting another continent. 

FOUR FAVORITE FOODS: 

  • Chocolate.  What else?  All intensities, all shades.  Best when organic, when somehow connected to caramel, but always welcome in any form.
  • Spicy Penang Fried Keow Tow noodles from our favorite Malaysian restaurant. Must order with at least 2 other people present, or I eat the entire platter.
  • Almond-Curry Stir Fry with tofu, from my friend Nettie’s cookbook. The combination of curry and almond butter in the sauce is startling and delectable.
  • Simple, raw Kale and Avocado Salad. Fresh, crunchy, creamy—the perfect way to consume kale.  Not bitter!  Not bitter! (recipe in a later post). 

FOUR PLACES I’D RATHER BE:

  • With my HH, somewhere warm.
  •  With my sisters, somewhere warm.
  •  With my girlfriends, somewhere warm.
  •  With my Girls, somewhere warm. 

Whew!  That was actually lots of fun. Thanks, imagineannie, for including me!  Looking forward to hearing what others have to say.

 Now, on to today’s NAG-friendly recipe. . . .  

This recipe for Moroccan Spiced Tomato Soup was originally given to me by a former office mate, who eventually became a close friend. At the time (late 1980s), I was perpetually in awe of her, as she was somewhat of an anomaly among our colleagues:  the first bona fide vegan I ever knew, she was both incredibly intelligent and incredibly beautiful. Amazonian in height (over six feet tall), she still had something of an ethereal nature about her, with cropped ashen hair and a model’s grace. She spoke with a calming, velvety voice and I loved spending time with her and soaking up details about her alternative (extremely alternative, at the time!) lifestyle.  Although she and I have lost touch over the years, my HH and I still enjoy this soup every winter.  It’s one of our favorites as a hearty and warming dinner.  

Don’t be put off by the ostensibly bizarre inclusion of peanut butter here.  It virtually disappears into the soup and effectively simulates the addition of thick cream.  

Moroccan Spiced Tomato Soup

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIST THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

moroccantomatosoup1.jpg

 The combination of creaminess, spices, and tomatoes provides the perfect comfort food for a cool evening, or after you’ve just finished posting your Holidailies entry.  This is a quick and fabulous soup. Pair with corn bread or a crusty french loaf for a complete meal.  [Note: this soup can easily be made gluten-free with GF ketchup.]

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIST THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

Tea Biscuits at the Ready

November 11, 2007

teabiscuit2.jpg 

With no stove and no way of cooking anything, I’m grateful for the few baked goods left in the freezer.  These are tea biscuits I created while experimenting with vegan and sugar-free biscuits and scones.

These are light and surprisingly tasty, considering that they have no butter, eggs, or refined sugar.  They’re made with spelt flour and agave nectar, one of my favorite sweeteners.  I use organic raisins and organic sunflower oil (just a touch).  While I do use organic soy milk in these, I think they could just as easily be made with rice milk (and definitely with almond milk). 

So, amid the boxes and newspaper, the cartons and garbage bags and two dogs miling about, I enjoyed a quick and easy breakfast of tea biscuits with organic peanut butter.  ( “The peanut butter was particularly tasty, mum!”).

Basically a healthier variation on a PB sandwich–but much more yummy. ( “We have to agree.  You can feed us tea biscuits any time! Now, what are all these boxes doing everywhere?”)

teabiscuit3.jpg

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