Friday, January 6, 2012

A Day Of Firsts

I had three new experiences today. First, I had ground flaxseed with my oatmeal this morning. I bought it pre-ground in the refrigerated section of the store, to supplement my omega-3 fatty acids. It was recommended to me by a Vegan friend, who uses it in her daily smoothie, and also in a "Food for Thought" podcast.

Second, I cooked quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) for the first time and was quite impressed by this little seed. It is like cooking rice, is gluten-free, and is a complete, yes, complete protein. It can be eaten as a snack, a light meal, breakfast - as it can be seasoned and added to a variety of dishes. I also picked up some quinoa "spaghetti," to give it a try.

Third, I did my first Vegan baking today: a chocolate cake with buttercream frosting for my boyfriend's daughter's birthday, and chocolate brownies as a bereavement gift for a family. The cake was a success, waiting for the brownies to cool to make sure I'm not delivering a disaster, and I've shared the recipes for all below. I don't know if that's legal, but I suppose I will find out. For the few people that read this blog, I am sharing these experiences not just for my own reflection, but in hopes that I begin to fathom to be a positive influence and resource for other compassionate humans. Enjoy!

Chocolate Brownies
From The Joy of Vegan Baking – Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

• 1 ½ c granulated sugar
• ¾ c unsweetened applesauce
• 2 Tbsp water
• 2 tsp ground flaxseed
• ½ c water
• 2 tsp vanilla extract
• 1 1/3 c unbleached all-purpose flour
• ¾ c unsweetened cocoa powder
• ¾ tsp baking powder
• ¼ tsp salt
• 1 c nondairy semisweet chocolate chips
• 1 c coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. With canola oil, grease an 8x8-inch baking pan.
2. In a medium-size bowl, stir together the sugar, applesauce, and 2 Tbsp water.
3. In a small bowl or food processor, combine the ground flaxseed with the ½ c water. Add this to the applesauce mixture, along with the vanilla, and stir to combine.
4. In a separate small bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt, chocolate chips, and nuts, if using. Add to the applesauce mixture, and stir just to combine.
5. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes. The finished product should be moist. Bake longer if you like a cakier result. Remove from the oven and let cool before cutting. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Chocolate Cake
From The Joy of Vegan Baking – Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

• 1 ½ c unbleached all-purpose flour
• ¾ c granulated sugar
• ½ tsp salt
• 1 tsp baking soda
• ¼ c unsweetened cocoa powder
• 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
• 1/3 c canola oil
• 1 Tbsp white distilled vinegar
• 1 c cold water

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil a Bundt pan, 9-inch springform pan, or muffin tins.
2. Combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and cocoa powder in a bowl until thoroughly combined. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and add the vanilla, oil, vinegar, and water. Mix until just combined. Pour into your prepared pan, and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If making cupcakes, check for doneness after 15 minutes.
3. Cool on a wire rack. To remove the cake from the pan, run a sharp knife around the inside of the pan to loosen the cake. Cool completely before frosting. You may also dust with sifted confectioners’ sugar and top with fresh raspberries.

Buttercream Frosting
From The Joy of Vegan Baking – Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

• ½ c non-hydrogenated, nondairy butter, at room temperature
• 2 c confectioners’ sugar, sifted
• 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
• 2 Tbsp nondairy milk, or more as needed
• Food coloring (optional)

1. With an electric hand mixer, cream the butter until smooth.
2. With the mixer on low speed, add the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, milk, and food coloring (if using).
3. Once all the ingredients are relatively well combined, beat on high speed until the frosting is light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add 1 to 2 Tbsp more milk if it is too dry.
4. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent drying until ready to use. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Rewhip before using.

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