A Season for Baking

I know that fall has arrived and feels like it has already passed in many parts of the country.  Now that we are in Chapel Hill, the signs of fall are less abundant.  You have to search for auburn leaves crackling in the wind. While the grocery stores are filled with mums, winter squash, and pumpkins I am wearing short sleeves and sunglasses.  My windows have been open all day and the dogs have been basking in the sunshine.  The only hint of real autumn is the crisp air in the morning.  The temperatures are dropping at night into the forties only to climb back into the mid-seventies by late morning.  I feel pulled and dragged back and forth between summer’s sunshine and fall’s ingredients.  What foods are “in season” here?  There’s a whole new cooking learning curve for me.  Good thing the farmer’s market is just a brisk Saturday morning walk away.  In the meantime, I am taking advantage of the cool mornings and evenings to crank up the oven to make some “every” season favorites.

 

 

 

 

Since the first time I made homemade granola, I haven’t spent another penny on a box or bag of it.  It takes a little bit of time, but it comes together quickly and easily. You mix up the ingredients, spread them on a cookie sheet, and bake on a low heat until golden brown and your house smells like sweet, roasted nuts and oats.  It doesn’t get much better than this.

First chop up 2 cups of nuts.  I used 1 cup of cashews and 1 cup of almonds this time, but you can use anything you like.  Mix them with 3/4 cup of shredded, unsweetened coconut (You can leave this out, if you have coconut haters at home, but I suggest you try it.  I have converted many a coconut hater with my granola). Finally add 3 cups of old fashioned oats, 3/4 t of salt, and 1/4 cup plus 2 T dark brown sugar.  I have used regular brown sugar before, but the dark gives a lovely depth of flavor.

In a separate bowl combine 1/4 cup plus 2 T real maple syrup, honey, or agave with 1/4 c oil and mix well with the dried ingredients.  Spread it on a baking sheet with a lip or a 13×9 baking pan.  Bake at 250 for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.  I find it is best to keep track of how long it’s been in the oven.  I use my dry erase board to keep track of the minutes, burning your lovely granola will not be lovely.  After the first stir, you will notice that the house is beginning to smell heavenly.  This is only one of the reasons to make your own granola.  I don’t think a candle company has replicated this aroma.

After an hour and fifteen minutes, the granola will be golden brown and the nuts will be wonderfully toasty.  If you can wait, let it cool.  If not, grab a handful.  You will not be disappointed.

Feel free to add your own flair.  I generally mix some ground flax seeds to the granola after it comes out of the oven.  Adding cinnamon, nutmeg, or other spices to the mix is also lovely.  Raisins or other dried fruits are a natural addition to granola.  A bit of vanilla extract or vanilla bean infused in the liquids can’t be wrong.

Personally, I eat my granola every morning with a bit of Greek-styled yogurt and local honey or a bit of fruit.  Someday, I will have to share with you how I make my yogurt so you can know how amazing that process can be and how delectable the outcome!  The Philosopher drowns his granola in milk and adds fresh berries or bananas.  Since it’s fall, roast up some apples with cinnamon in the oven and top them with some granola and a little vanilla ice cream.  Simple apple crisp!  Toss your granola in your homemade trail mix, toss a few pieces in your pancakes after pouring them on the griddle for another breakfast treat, or give it away as a gift.  People love granola, yet most don’t realize how easy it is to make!  Last year, a good friend made homemade granola and packed it in gift bags for the holidays. Yep, that’s a great gift!

Store your granola in a container with a tight-fitting lid.  One batch usually lasts a few weeks around here.

So dear readers, wherever you are and whatever season your body thinks it is, cook and eat well.  How are you enjoying the changing seasons?

 

 

 

 

KitK Cooking Extravaganza

 

This post is sadly delayed.  Rachel and I spent a glorious couple of days together early in August.  We went to see my friend Catherine Murray of Photo Kitchen perform at Columbus’ Pecha Kucha.  We explored the Columbus Zoo with the Philosopher’s family.  We ate fabulous breakfasts at Skillet and Northstar.  All in all, I would say it was another Karma in the Kitchen reunion success.  And like last time, Rachel and I cooked.  A lot.  I roped Rachel into joining me in the sweaty world of canning.  I ordered extra tomatoes from The Sippel Family Farm to make tomato chutney.  I scoured the local peach and blueberry options to make jam.  And I purchased tons of Snowville milk and cream to make homemade ricotta.  Oh yes.  We stayed busy in the kitchen!

First, we prepped tomatoes for tomato chutney.  We used this recipe as a base, but we significantly reduced the amount of sugar (by half).  Here’s what we ended up doing:

8lbs of tomatoes, peeled, cored and chopped (the easiest way to do this is score an X on the bottom of a tomato, drop it in boiling water for a few minutes and then put in cold water.  The skins should pop of easily.  Then remove the core and chop.)  , 2 heads of minced garlic, 2 chopped onions, 1c brown sugar, 1/2c white sugar, 3c apple cider vinegar, 3 limes, zested and juiced, 2T fresh minced ginger, 4t dried hot pepper flakes, 2t cumin, 1c golden raisins chopped roughly by hand, and salt and pepper to taste.  We combined the ingredients in a stockpot and simmered all day.  I think it took about 5 hours for the chutney to finally thicken.  Stir it often, as the sugar will make it scorch easily.  We ladled the chutney into 1/2 pint jelly jars, leaving a 1/4″ headspace.  They were processed in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.  We ended up with 12 jars of chutney.

 

Next, Rachel and I prepped peaches and blueberries for jam.  We peeled, cored, and roughly sliced 10 pounds of peaches (save the peels!).  We added 2 quarts of blueberries, washed well.  3 lemons were zested and juiced and added to the fruit.  We added sugar to taste, I prefer a slightly tart and less sweet jam.  So for our fruit, we added about 5 cups of granulated white sugar.  The fruit simmered happily on the stove until thickened.  I used a bit of Pomona’s Universal Pectin near the end to finish firming it up well.  Test for firmness by putting a bit of jam on a spoon and popping in the freezer for a few minutes.  When you have reached your desired firmness, you are ready to can.  We used 1/2 pint jars, placed 1t of bottled lemon juice on top of the jam after leaving 1/4″ of headroom, and processed in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.  We ended up with 12 jars and a good sized bowl to go with our dessert that night!

I know you are trying to figure out why you should save your peels.  Well, here goes.  We simmered the peach peels with sugar and water making a simple syrup.  We then combined the strained syrup, fresh mint, sparkling water, a dash of fresh lime, and Middle West Spirits vodka together for a fabulous after dinner cocktail.  You should definitely save the peach peels!

Lastly, we made a batch of homemade ricotta using Smitten Kitchen’s recipe.   Her instructions are so clear and easy to follow, I am not going to retype them for you.  But I am going to insist that you drop what you are doing, grab some local milk, and MAKE RICOTTA CHEESE.  Immediately.  Rachel and I were sneaking bites while the ricotta was still straining.  We just couldn’t help ourselves.  We decided that a piece of bread, topped with a smear of ricotta and some tomato chutney was a fabulous way to begin our dinner.  The play of the sweet and spicy chutney against the creamy goodness of the ricotta kept us reaching for more.  And more.  Happy faces all around that evening.  And into the next days lunch.  And breakfast.  And snack.  And dinner.  Oh ricotta.  You made us so happy!

 

 

 

 

 

A quick glance at the table reveals that I also made my infamous tomato tart.  Now, I bet you wish an invitation to our dinner party had graced your door, huh?

But I haven’t even covered dessert yet!  You should know that a meal like this requires a beautiful, tasty, butterfat-laden dessert.  Unfortunately you will have to go without a picture, but trust me, this recipe for a ricotta cheesecake should not be ignored.  The only changes to the directions were made because the recipe made more filling than my pie pan allowed, so we filled two small oven-safe glass bowls also.  We also popped an oven safe bowl filled with water in the oven to produce a nice, steamy environment for our baking dessert.  You should immediately forget everything you ever thought you knew about cheesecake.  Cream cheese has nothing on this heavenly light, slightly lemony dessert.    Perfect for leftovers!  We dolloped some peach and blueberry jam and ate to our hearts content under the stars of an August night.  It doesn’t get much better than this!

Ah Rachel.  Never is my kitchen karma so great as when I have the perfect cooking partner.  It’s comforting to know she’s willing to experiment with me.  Tasting something again and again.  Tossing in a little of this and a little of that until we both find our own recipe nirvana.  We work well together also, Rachel and I.  While I chopped onions and minced garlic for the chutney, she was peeling and coring tomatoes.  While she peeled peaches and washed blueberries, I was at the store for a few forgotten items (ok, ok.  I ran to the store twice in 20 minutes for twice forgotten items!)  What’s great is that cooking is the perfect way to catch up on the last few months.  A phone call here or a gchat there is great, but nothing beats a sweaty, sticky day in the kitchen to learn about new friends, new apartments, new jobs, and old stories.

This is going to be my last post for awhile.  The Philosopher was offered a job at UNC Chapel Hill and I am currently packing up our belongings, getting estimates from moving companies, and selling our collected stuff!  I hope to be back to blogging and cooking by the beginning of October.  Our new city has a year-round farmer’s market that is apparently in the top ten nationwide.  I would certainly say that the south sounds welcoming to me!

Unfortunately, we are also having to say goodbye to our dear friends and neighbors.  While Columbus is a great town for many reasons, the people whose lives have intersected ours have truly made this city our home.  From old colleagues, to new classmates, neighbors, children, doggies, and coworkers, we have been fortunate to have our lives filled with amazing people that have loved us and supported us.  We have many warm memories and many homes that we plan to visit again soon.  A piece of our hearts and our lives will be left in this town and we truly have you all to thank for it.  While we welcome the challenge of forming a new community in NC, we will continue to stay connected to those people who made the Bus our home for 2 years.  Thank you all!  We love you dearly!

The Diet: Day 24

It’s been a busy weekend!  What was hoped to be an in like a lamb spring break, has certainly been a little more out like a lion around here.  Friday, The Philosopher was off work and much needed spring cleaning commenced.  As well as cooking for an NCAA watching party.  It’s hard to cook for friends when you diet is so limited, but we did well.  I made black bean burgers based on my knowledge from Mark Bittman and the Day 20 success.  I roasted potatoes and made a papaya-cranberry juice “cocktail” for our guests.  Friends were kind enough to bring cheese, buns, kale chips, and a huge salad to share.  We started the second half with a pieces of gluten-free and vegan carrot cake with hopes of an OSU victory.  Well.  At least my cake was victorious.

Yesterday we took an impromptu trip to Toledo to visit The Philosopher’s family.  Today we helped our neighbor move the rest of her belongings in and found ourselves again at Northstar for lunch.  Wow.  What a shame 🙂

Now onto that last meal.  The veggie burgers used the same proportions as before.  I used black beans, oatmeal, and onions as a base.  I also added a chopped tomato, salsa, 2 jalapenos, chili powder, fresh cilantro, and cumin.  I tripled the recipe.  Don’t ask why.  I was being ambitious.  This time I baked them (I did make like 15 burgers or something crazy).  They again turned out lovely.  Some guests even had seconds.  Two people wanted to copy the recipe.  I made a batch of guacamole and had some salsa to top them.  Delicious! 

The “cocktails” were 2 parts papaya juice, 1 part cranberry-pomegranate juice, and 2 parts sparkling water.  I floated a piece of lime top of each glass.  Lovely!

Now, on to the interesting stuff.

Gluten-free, Vegan Carrot Cake

(adapted from Flying Apron’s Gluten-free and Vegan Baking Book)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place parchment on the bottom of 2-3 round baking pans.  I only had two, so I just baked mine longer.  Either will be fine.

In one bowl mix together 2c brown rice flour, 1 1/4c garbanzo bean flour (or chestnut flour–if you can find it), 1 1/2t baking soda, 3/4t kosher salt, 1 1/2t cinnamon.

In a separate bowl mix 1c safflower oil, 2c water, 1t vanilla extract, 2c agave (or maple syrup or concentrated fruit juice, the author suggests pineapple-peach-pear).

Slowly whisk the flour mixture into the wet ingredients.  In the empty bowl, add 5 medium, grated carrots (or about 1 1/4c), 2 1/2c shredded, unsweetened coconut, and 1 c golden raisins.  If you can find walnuts or pecans you can have, add 2c chopped also.  All the baking nuts I can find are cross-contaminated with peanuts–so I left them out.

Add the carrot mixture until combined.  Distribute evenly in your pans and bake about 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Mine took about 50 minutes as I used two 8″ cake pans and the recipe calls for three 9″ pans.  My cake was still wonderful, so don’t worry about the equipment you have, I bet a 13×9 would also work, just keep watching the cake and testing with a toothpick.  After the cake cooled for 15 minutes, I removed them from the pans to cool on a rack.

I iced the cake based on a recipe in the same cookbook for Coconut Heaven Frosting.

First, toast 4 1/2c shredded unsweetened coconut.  Place on a cookie sheet (after you have baked your cake) in a 300 degree oven.  Stir every few minutes until the coconut is browned evenly and fragrant.  Be careful not to burn the coconut!

In a mixing bowl combined 3c palm or coconut oil, 1 1/2c agave (or again, use the fruit concentrate), 1/8t kosher salt, and 1 1/2T vanilla extract.  Combine with mixer until all the ingredients are incorporated.  I looked closely for chunks of remaining coconut oil.  Add the shredded toasted coconut.

Make sure your cake is completely cool before icing.  Oops.  I skipped this step.  Ah well.  The good part?  Coconut oil melted into the cake, making it one of the most moist, rich delectable things to have left my kitchen in a long time.  The bad thing?  It was surely not a pretty cake when I was done with it.

The cake was so rich in fact, that few of us could finish our pieces.  Those of you that can drink coffee out there or those that love rich and moist baked-goodness, MAKE THIS CAKE.  Then make some coffee.  Enjoy together.  Be happy.


Until you notice the score on the TV.  Oh well.  Maybe next year.

The Diet: Day 21

Yesterday was my third day of spring break and I decided it was high time for come cookie baking and eating.  Who says that taking away gluten is the same as taking away baked good yumminess?

These cookies were super easy and quick to mix up.  They baked easily and I doubt you would miss flour or real sugar in them.  Trust me, these puppies are good!  They totally filled that sweet craving.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Mix 1c gluten-free oats, 1c oat flour (I put 1c oats in my blender until powdery), 1c almond meal, 1/2c unsweetened, shredded coconut, 1/2t salt and 1/2t cinnamon together in a bowl.  You could leave the coconut out, but I think it was a nice touch.  I was also thinking a tablespoon of nut butter could be a nice addition in the future.

In a separate bowl, I mixed 1/2c agave, 1/2c safflower oil and 1/2t vanilla.

Add the wet ingredients slowly into the dry until well incorporated.  Form ~1″ balls and flatten slightly.  Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes until browned on the edges and slightly crispy.

For dinner I made a soy-free stir fry.  This has been hard, not being able to use soy sauce.  Mostly because it imparts such a dept of flavor in the background of food.  Last night, I thought I would try a take on one of our favorites, peanut sauce.  I used tomato paste and dried porcini mushrooms for umami. Here’s what I did:

First, I reconstituted 5 dried procini mushrooms in hot water, until they were softened.  I rinsed the mushrooms well and squeezed out the excess liquid.   I added the mushrooms, 2t sesame oil, 2 cloves chopped garlic, 2T minced fresh ginger, 1c water, 1/2t salt, 1T tomato paste, 1t coriander, 2/3c almond butter, 2T agave, 3T unsweetened rice wine vinegar, and 2t Asian chili paste (read your labels carefully, some have sugar added!) to the base of my blender and pureed until smooth.  Please, taste and play around with your seasonings!  More ginger?  Sure!  More vinegar?  Yes!  When I was happy with mine, I sat it aside and stir-fried some veggies and prepped rice noodles.  The sauce is pretty thin, but when you add it to the veggies it thickens over the heat and coats them well.  I used yellow squash, broccoli, and frozen peas for dinner last night.

While nothing beats a good peanut sauce with the loveliness of soy, this was exactly what I wanted.  Slightly sweet yet savory and salty.  Filling and warm, like our local good take-out meals always are.  All you purists may shudder, but we are eating well here!

The Diet: Day 14

Look, flowers!

It’s easy to take off my grumpy pants when these were my first sight this morning.  Don’t worry, I did put pants on.

Today was again filled with leftovers.  Except for dessert.  I decided to try another Flying Apron recipe with glorious results.  Here’s what I did:

Berry and Oat Bars

Grind 2 c of gluten-free oats in the food processor or blender until it turns into a fine powder like flour.  (You can also purchase gluten-free oat flour in the grocery store to use instead).  Put oat flour in mixing bowl with 3 additional cups of gluten-free oats, 1/4 c maple flavored agave, 2-3T plain agave, 1c olive oil, 1/2 t salt, and 1 t vanilla extract (I finally found an alcohol-free bottle!). Mix with mixer or paddle attachment if you have one until well incorporated, 2-3 minutes.

Press 2/3 of the mixture into a 13×9 pan and bake for 15 minutes in a 375 degree oven until lightly brown.

While that is baking, stir together 3 1/2c berries of your choice (I used blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries.  I cut the strawberries into smaller pieces), 1/2t vanilla extract, 1/4c arrowroot powder and 1/4c maple flavored agave. 

When the base is ready, distribute the berries over the dough evenly and spread the remaining oat mixture over top.  Bake for 40-50 additional minutes until the top is golden brown and slightly firm to the touch.

There is nothing like berries to shepherd in the lamb of spring.  Thankfully, a warmer day with brighter sunshine serves to lift ones mood even better than a sweet snack.  Get outside!  You deserve it!

The Diet: Day 9

Well folks, I lied.  I told you I would have an update yesterday, yet as I am sure everyone kept checking back expectantly, nothing appeared.  The Philosopher and I decided to go out to dinner last night to one of our favorite restaurants that we were pretty certain could handle our tricky diets.  We ventured to Easton to visit the newest member of the Northstar family, for the first time since they opened this summer!  We are behind the curve.  The staff were extremely helpful last night and our two veggie burgers without cheese and bun were fantastic.  Washing it down with carrot juice, I say yes!

Today was back to cooking.  We have now finished all our previous dinner leftovers.  I cooked black beans in the pressure cooker yesterday and made some new brown rice.  Tonight, I did my best burrito bowl imitation for dinner.  To flavor the rice I sauteed garlic in some olive oil, added cumin, tomato paste, and a splash of lime juice.  The beans were seasoned with cumin and chili powder.  I cooked up jalapenos,  a red bell pepper, one yellow squash, one zucchini, and a pound of mushrooms in basically the same manner as this dinner. I added a few slices of avocado to the top.  As our “cocktail”, I squeezed fresh lime into sparkling water.  It was delicious!

Now, on to dessert.

Tonight I attempted a gluten-free, sugar-free, vegan apple pie.

The basic recipe came from Flying Apron’s Gluten-Free and Vegan Baking by Jennifer Katzinger.

First, soften 1 1/2c coconut oil in with your mixer, should take ~1 minute.  Then add 3 c brown rice flour, 1 t kosher salt, 1/4c plus 2T agave and 2-3T ice water.  Mix until soft dough forms, ~5 minutes.  I found that my dough was extremely sticky, maybe closer to cookie dough, even after I added more flour.  The recipe says you do not have to refrigerate, but my first attempt at rolling the dough out failed.  After a few minutes in the fridge, the coconut oil hardened up again and rolling out was simple. 

Divide the dough in half and roll out into an 11-12″ circle.  I used parchment so it was easy to put in my pie pan.  Trim as needed.  Par bake at 375 (on baking stone if you have one) for 15 minutes or until golden (this took only about 10 minutes for me).

While baking, peel, core, and slice 5 apples (I used granny smith).  Toss with 1t cinnamon, 1/2 t nutmeg, 1T arrowroot powder (find in the spice section of your grocery store), 1/3 c maple agave, and juice from 1/2 lemon (or 1T of bottled lemon juice).  Place in par-baked bottom.  There will be a lot of apples, don’t worry, they will cook down when baked.  Roll out the other half of the dough and place on top of the filling.  Press the layers of dough together and cut 4 slits in the top to allow steam to escape.  Bake on the bottom rack of the oven for 50 minutes or when apple juices are bubbling and beginning to solidify.  Check the pie halfway through baking, if the crust is nearly brown enough, cover the pie with foil and continue baking (I used foil 25 minutes into baking).

Cool as long as you can stand to wait.  Then eat your yummy pie.  Then smile.

I am not going to tell you this was exactly the same as grandma’s apple pie, but it was pretty damn good.  The crust was flavored well, I didn’t miss the butter.  The texture was slightly different, but I found it appealing even if it was different.  From the pictures you can see, it crumbled pretty easily and did failed to make a perfectly beautiful slice.  My thought, I should make this crust again.  Just like regular pie crust, practice can only improve the final product.  Good thing I am starting from a pretty yummy place.  This recipe will be saved and repeated again.  In the meantime, we are eating well!

The Diet: Day 2

UPDATED POST!

This afternoon I had the pleasure of cooking with my dear friend Cathy.  Cathy is a fellow vegetarian, frequent backyard visitor, and extremely talented photographer.  While Cathy’s focus is on food,  she loves to shoot just about anything, including portraits, products, and pets. Her website, www.photokitchen.net, features her portfolio and pricing. She even sells fine art prints online, at www.buyphotokitchen.zenfolio.com.  She took tons of pictures today (here are some of my clutter-y kitchen) and has shared them with me.  Since her pictures are of a much higher caliber than mine, I thought it would be fun to do some side-by-side comparisons of my photo work and hers.

Breakfast:  Same: granola, fresh fruit, and unsweetened almond milk

Lunch:  The Philosopher had the same meal as yesterday.  I mixed it up a bit.  I mashed a whole avocado with a dash of salt and pepper and a splash of lime juice.  I spread the avocado on two pieces of romaine lettuce and piled sliced tomatoes on top.  Delish!  I also ate a few olives with Cathy.

 

 

 

 

 

Dinner:  Chard Rolls Filled with Winter Vegetables (Deborah Madison’s “Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone”)

I followed the recipe pretty closely as the only “no” ingredient was butter.  It was time-consuming to dice the vegetables finely enough to fit well inside of pieces of swiss chard.  Otherwise, this was a very easy and really tasty recipe.  Thankfully, Cathy was patient and willing to snap pictures and even lent a hand with a bunch of carrots.  Here’s some of her photo handiwork:

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s what I did:  Dice 1 onion, 4 carrots, 1 potato, 2 parsnips, 4 sweet potatoes and chard stems.  (Outside the onions, I think there was about 10c of veggies total)  Mince one clove of garlic.  Add to a skillet with 2T olive oil and 2 t dried tarragon.  (Warning:  This filled my largest pan!  Until the veggies softened slightly, it was hard to stir!) Season with salt and pepper, cover and cook over medium heat until tender (~20-25 minutes).  Here’s more pictures for your drooling pleasure (far left is my picture, the rest are Cathy’s)

 

 

 

 

In the meantime, blanch chard leaves in boiling water for 2-3 minutes and allow to dry on a towel. (My picture shows the chard waiting, Cathy’s is of the chard swimming in boiling water, so pretty!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add juice of one lemon once veggies are softened.  Place an appropriate amount of vegetables for the size of your chard leaf (~2-3 T) on a flattened leaf, above the notch.  Fold the sides in and roll up the leaves.  This part was actually easier than I expected, even with the leaves I had torn a little.  Place the rolls on top of the remaining filling and top with a dollop of coconut oil.  Add 1 c water or vegetable stock to the pan and simmer, covered for 10 additional minutes.  Serve rolls with extra vegetables and juices.  Cathy got pictures of this process, check it out!  (Of course we had to talk and laugh a little.  It helps make dinner.  And good kitchen karma.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These are delicious!  The slightly bitter flavor of the greens plays nicely off the sweetness of the vegetables.  You all should know by now that I am a sucker for the savory/sweet combo so this totally worked for me.  The Philosopher seemed pretty happy too.  He nearly licked the plate clean!

Here are two [very different quality] photo representations of that meal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The other day I picked up “Flying Apron’s Gluten-free and Vegan Baking Book” by Jennifer Katzinger.  While many of the recipes require sugar, many more use agave, rice syrup, stevia, etc.  They also strive to all-allergy free, so there are no peanut or soy recipes.  It was pretty exciting to pick up a cookbook where we could eat almost everything, without many adaptations.

Tonight I made Maple “Butter” Bars.  They were super easy and fast to make.  I mixed 2 3/4 c brown rice flour and 1/4 t salt together in a bowl.  Then I added 1c coconut oil, 1 c maple-flavored agave, and the beans from 1/2 of a vanilla pod (no vanilla extract!).  I mixed these until smooth (2-3 minutes) in my electric mixer.  These baked in a 13×9 parchment-lined pan for ~15 minutes at 375 degrees, until the sides turned golden brown.  Since the photo op was important, I cut them soon after removing from the oven.  Again, Cathy’s photos make me want to drool.  Do you think she could follow me around every day?

 

 

 

 

 

While slightly chewy for a baked good, they were really delicious.  Hopefully they will also help a little with the snacking temptations we have had.  Unfortunately, my attempt to make whipped almond milk failed.  I was really hoping for a stand-in for ice cream on top!

Here’s my photo of those bars.  It’s amazing what a trained, artistic eye can compared to my hurried, cooking eye!

Thoughts:  So far, things are good.  I was thrilled to be able to experiment with new recipes with a friend.  We even convinced her meat-eating boyfriend to eat a few bites, see?  (Sophia is always a big help when eating!)

While he was affirming, he claimed it would best be served beside a pastrami sandwich!  I would choose to share my kitchen any time with a friend who is interesting, warmhearted and hungry.  Thankfully, not only does Cathy fit that bill, but she also has a great smile and a contagious laugh.  What more can you ask for?  A friend who loves taking pictures of food [and dogs, and friends and babies and flowers and and and]….even better!  If you would like to read Cathy’s take on the day, check it out here.  Thanks Cathy, it was an awesome day!