Kickin’ it Old School

What have I been up to lately? Oh, you know, just milling around.

. . .

Look at my new flour mill! (Or: Look at my mom’s old flour mill!)

I’m really excited about this thing. I’ve been thinking about milling my own flour ever since my friend Whitney sent me a link to a very glorious (and expensive) electric flour mill. Clearly, this baby ain’t electric, but I’m ok with that. After all, it does embody many of the things I look for in kitchen tools: (1) it’s old, basic, and well-made; (2) it’s a family hand-me-down; (3) it can double as a weapon. Besides, my ballet workout doesn’t do much for the arms, so this can act as a piece of exercise equipment as well. I just have to remember to use both arms equally, so I don’t end up looking like that girl Rachel I knew my freshman year of college, who worked at Ben & Jerry’s and had one huge ice cream-scooping bicep.

Note: The above picture will forever drive me crazy, as the right bolt that adjusts the plate isn’t situated properly. Bah!

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Whole Wheat Vegan Bread

Anyone familiar with my blog or me personally knows that I am most definitely not a vegan. Although I don’t consume all that much meat, I cannot imagine my life without eggs and dairy. I am amazed by the leavening and emulsifying properties contained within one tiny little egg, and fascinated by all the different things that can be created from milk. So why am I—lover of all things butter and cheese—making vegan bread?

Well, this particular batch of bread was being turned into appetizers for a party where at least one vegan friend of mine would be in attendance. However, the decision to make vegan-friendly food stems from the frustration I felt in my vegetarian days—towards soup, in particular. Nine times out of ten, I’d grab what looked like a promising vegetarian soup from the grocery store shelf, only to scan the ingredients and see the words “CHICKEN STOCK.” And I’d mutter a string of curses at the soup can and shove it back where it came from. I would run into the same issue at restaurants as well. And though I [sort of] understood why many large companies wouldn’t bother taking the extra step to make veggie soups 100% vegetarian, I could not comprehend why small restaurants didn’t make such a simple substitution. They’re both liquid; they’re both salty. Why not use the one that more people will eat? And while thinking about non-egg leavening agents makes my head spin, alternative fats and liquid sweeteners—that’s really not that hard. And that is why this bread is vegan!

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Blueberries & Cream Cheese Cake

What do you do when it’s so hot, you can barely muster the energy to get up and refill a glass of water, much less even think about baking anything? You could try to tough it out in a 100°+ kitchen, and hope none of that sweat dripping off every square inch of skin makes its way into your treats. You could go on baking hiatus until the temperature drops to a more reasonable level. Or, you could make something that requires no baking*—like this cake!

* It does require about 15 minutes of stovetop time. Only intermittent stirring is required during these 15 minutes, so you can run back and forth between stove and fan/air-conditioner.

I have been thinking about this cake for the past 3 years, with only a few clues as to how I might track down the recipe. My ex-boyfriend’s father brought this cake to a few family gatherings, and it was instantly a favorite of mine. All I knew about it was: (1) He had referred to it as cheesecake—which initially made me cringe—but it didn’t look like cheesecake; (2) It was loaded with blueberries; (3) This thing started making an appearance around the same time that he developed an obsession with a Rachel Ray cookbook. And with just a little bit of googling (oh internet, how I love thee), we find this. It looks like it! It sounds like it! And, now that I’ve made and tasted it, I can confirm that this is most definitely it.

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