little sarah Big World

Tag: adventures in baking

How to Sundee (Part 1)

~OR~

Sunday is for Brunches

(and Family)

Oh, it is rare that I take a day to just relax, Friends. A day without non-stop obligations and to-do lists and accomplishments. But today was one of those rare days, where I don’t have “back-to-back plans” (as Kevin said). Mostly because I am not feeling well, but STILL. I’ll take my lessons where I can get them.

So today I rose early, and prepared scones

Then I went to a family brunch at Sister Natalie’s house, because Dad’s back in town, and because the weather’s nice, and also just because.

The weather truly has been amazing this week–in the 80s and sunny, with a pleasant breeze. Sunshine for days.

So of course there was trampoline jumping with the kiddos. Because there is no resisting kiddos and a trampoline, and because Kevin and I are the youngest and most-childish of the “grown-ups.” And also just because.

Later we napped, did laundry, went for a walk. We stopped by a going-away party (of sorts) to deliver some cookies, but I was feverish enough that all I wanted was to dive head-first into the ice-filled beer bucket. So we went home. Easy does it.

Sad that it takes a fever to remind me to slow down, but I think I’m getting it. Well done, Sunday.

Savor

I had to text my Eric friend the other morning to ask him, “…where did all of this self-love come from? Im enjoying it, but i also find myself asking ‘why now?’ “

Because I don’t fully understand it, Friends. Something I’ve been striving for for so long–a sense of grace, of calm and peace and joy–is suddenly within my grasp. All I had to do was let go.

More and more I spend my time as I please, and every moment–every movement–seems delicate and sweet. Like making lists, reading in bed right when I wake up, tidying the apartment, and baking banana bread.

It was a rare slow morning, a “day off” I believe it’s called, though it’s been so long, who can remember? So I blissed out, enjoyed every aspect of it. The soft sunlight shining in through the kitchen window, circles of brown sugar and white flower. Soothing stirring and pouring motions. Listening to the Temptations and wearing a fancy apron. All of it.

And so maybe you folks will not be as into these photos as I was, but I seriously appreciated every step in the process, every angle and curve. Therefore, I documented:

I like the way everything comes together with baking. You measure, mix, and it’s like magic, the way it turns into something more than the sum of the parts. Except when its a disaster. Then I throw a tantrum. But not this day. This day I had a morning to myself, a spot of sunlight to dance in, and a delicious chocolate chip banana bread muffin.

…which I could only eat half of. So then I stopped. Just like I stopped going to CrossFit, for the time being, because I prefer running and yoga to weight training.

I think this is what they call “listening to your body and your self,” which is also a novel approach for me. Because a easy, peaceful morning can just as easily slide into a 48-hour work week, leaving me with an eye twitch and a need to seriously re-asses my priorities.

Because lately little sarah Big World Traveler would like nothing more than to settle down for a minute, commit to the plans I’ve made for right here, right now. Work less, relax more. Then maybe more mornings could be filled with baking, blogging, and self love.

As opposed to, you know, waking up at 5:30 and working until 9pm. I don’t want that anymore. I want to savor the moment.

Baking Give-Away!

~OR~

Seriously, Friends, Why Aren’t You More Excited to Contribute?

 I haven’t posted a recipe in a while, because I haven’t been baking as often.  WHAT WAS IT THINKING?! Guys, baking is awesome. It is so much fun, so soothing, such a pleasant early-morning activity. I listened to my Harold Arlen compilation (he’s the guy who wrote “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”) and threw together a batch of chocolate chip oatmeal lovelies.

I used the recipe from inside the Quaker Oats drum…

…but I changed pretty much everything about it–flax instead of eggs, applesauce instead of butter, less sugar, no raisins, etc. I’ll post my recipe at the end, for those of you into mutant vegan cookies.

At first I wasn’t going to photograph this little venture, because I had already forgotten to document it step-by-step. Then I remembered that I don’t even LIKE doing step-by-step recipe pictures. I just like taking pictures of that which I find to be elegant, graceful, lovely, and delicious. Like this:

I will never tire of the sunlight coming in through my kitchen window. It warms my heart and soul. And my body. In fact, when I have time, I warm up in the morning by having Dance Party of One: Morning Edition in the little patch of sunlight on the carpet between fireplace and kitchen counter. The soundtrack? “My Girl” station on Pandora. Try it.

*       *       *

I baked these little beauties to say “Thank you.” Some for Robyn, who lent me books 2 and 3 of the Hunger Games series (the crack-cocaine of YA lit), and some were for Marcela, who lent me workout pants at CrossFit when I had mistakenly packed my black stretchy workout top instead of my black stretchy workout pants. An honest mistake.

Saying thank you is important to me; I want people to know that when they go out of their way to make my life more pleasant, it is a big deal. It is a cookie-deserving occasion. Plus, you know, I like to bake things and wrap them in brown paper and admire them in the sunshine at 11am.

In that same spirit, I want you to know how much I appreciate YOU, dear Friends! AND I need help. I’m going to ask a favor, and I promise you that your help will be duly rewarded. With baking supplies:

Here’s the deal:

1 – Sister Nikki gave me baking stuff for Christmas, which is awesome. I always need more dishtowels, and now I have a pie crust protector and other fun baking goodies. But now I have two flour sifters and two rolling pins. That’s too many! So I want to give away a 3-cup flour sifter and a wooden rolling pin. To you!

2 – But you’ve gotta do something to earn it. See, I’ll be away for a few weeks in May, unable to keep up my (admittedly half-assed as of late) blogging schedule. I need content, Friends.

3 – I want YOUR favorite vegan recipes! Send me your favorite recipe, along with some notes (if you like) and some photos. Get creative! Do it! The best recipe/notes/picture combo will receive the rolling pin and flour sifter! Yay! But runners-up will receive post-cards from my top secret vacation destination. Everyone loves to get postcards, right?

*       *       *

So that’s the deal–send your recipes, words and pictures to littlesarahbigworld[at]hotmail[dot]com. Also your mailing address. You have until March 31st, winners will be announced April 1st. No joke!

Now get a-bakin!

*       *       *

Sarah’s Super Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

INGREDIENTS:

-1 c applesauce (unsweetened)

-3/4 c brown sugar, packed

-2 Tbs ground flax seed mixed with 6 Tbs water

-1 tsp vanilla extract

-1 1/2 c whole wheat pastry flour

-1 tsp baking soda

-1 tsp cinnamon

-1/2 tsp salt

-3 c oats

-1 c chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS:

-Preheat oven to 350°F

-Whisk together flax seed and water with a fork. Set aside.

-Mix together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a smallish bowl. Also set aside.

-Blend applesauce and brown sugar in a large bowl, then add the flax mixture and vanilla, stirring well.

-Add the flour mixture to the applesauce mixture in three parts, stirring well. Then add the oats. It will seem like way too many oats and you will think “This is CRAZY,” but just go with it. It’ll all come together, promise.

-Lastly, mix in the chocolate chips. Then drop by the spoonful onto a baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes. Enjoy!

The Difference a Year Can Make

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National Pi(e) Day!

…was last Tuesday. How did I not know about this in advance? Anyways, now I know, because it will be every year, March 14th (3.14…). This day, however, is not to be confused with National Pie Day, which is January 23rd. I celebrated that one last year.

Which gets me to thinking about how much has changed for me in just over a year. Last year, I baked that pie at my moms’ house, where I was living in the basement, next to the coal shoot. I baked the pie by myself, because baking is one of my many coping mechanisms, and I had much to cope with–lack of friends, lack of personal space, lack of direction in life, etc. I was taking everything personally, you see, feeling that I didn’t have decent friends or quarters or plans because I didn’t deserve them.

Now, I do have those things:

AND a much-improved sense of self-worth. And guess what, Friends? It was the self-worth that came first. I had to trust that my shitty circumstances were just that–circumstances. That they did not reflect who I was or what I was capable of or what I merited. I had to trust that I could and would have a better apartment, better friends, and better, more-suitable goals. That I was not inherently flawed, but just going through a bit of a rough patch.

And now? Well, now when I bake a pie, I have many lovely ladies to share it with, friendships that continue to grow and develop and deepen all the time. Now I don’t have to use my moms’ kitchen (unless I’m house-sitting), because I have my very own. It’s small, and imperfect, but it’s all mine.

Now I don’t have to feel guilty about dropping out of school, or quitting my band, or looking for a new job, because I know that it’s okay to want better for myself, and that I deserve it. I know that my thoughts and ideas and dreams and aspirations, no matter how radical or half-baked or uncertain, are all mine. I can do what I want, like eating leftover pie for lunch.

Not that there was much left over.

What You Missed at the LEO Party:

A Sarah Custen Guilt Trip

Let me just start off by saying that I don’t even understand why people pass up the chance to gather, eat, drink, and be merry. I do not accept excuses of upcoming tests, family obligations, or illness. I demand that good times be had by all, whenever the opportunity presents itself.

I am a highly-biased reporter, is what I’m trying to say.

So for those of you who simply could not make it to the wonderful and magical and cooperative LEO Holiday Party, here’s what went down.

There was food. Delicious food. I personally enjoyed two different types of ham, some sort of marinated tofu magic, corn-n-veggie salad, and roasted cauliflower. Also rice. But that was so much more! So many epicurean delights! I ask you: why would anyone pass that up?

There were desserts, plural. Myriad, really. Maybe you feel like this doesn’t apply to you, because you are lactose intolerant, or celiac, but did you count on…

…dairy-free, gluten-free strawberry-coconut cupcakes?!?!? Because those were there. I know, because I brought them. And did we enjoy these treats in isolation? Did we stuff our faces and then run home to our DVRs? No we did not!

We socialized! Oh, man, we socialized so hard…it was CRAZY.

Also Whitney Houston played. RIP, Whitney.

Also there was booze, and afterwards, there was more booze, at the Red Door. That’s what we call an after-party.

Then after that I left to go out dancing. Lately I have a need to dance bordering on clinical.

ALMOST AS GREAT AS MY NEED TO SEE ALL MY COWORKERS’ LOVELY, SHINING FACES AT THE LEO PARTY. And you wouldn’t want to deprive a girl of camaraderie, would you? THAT’S WHAT I THOUGHT.

See you next year!

Some Days

Some days you just can’t win. Some days people expect more of you than you’re willing or able to give, and it is only 9:20 am. Some days you have more things to do than time in which to do them, and it is snowing, and you ride a bike, and you know that nothing is going to be easy or convenient or efficient.

Some days you have to boil potatoes before 10am, just to stay on top of things. (But the steam on the stove makes the kitchen warm and fuzzy).

Some days you know that you are going to get a talking to, and it will not be pretty. You know that you have to tell the truth to some friends, and that it will not be any prettier.

Some days you cry (sob, really) in the bathroom at work for a solid 15 minutes. You pace the halls and take deep breaths, and you are not proud of yourself, but you love yourself and so you say “It’s okay.”

Some days you return to work with eyes so red and swollen that there is no denying what you’ve done, yet nobody says a thing. And that is somehow worse than whatever you’d dreaded them saying.

Some days you roast potatoes, with garlic and rosemary. 

It’s your own recipe, and you use a fancy tip from Cooks’ Illustrated, and they turn out just right.

And you know that, when you get off of work, you will turn those potatoes into potato salad. You will pack up that potato salad, along with some mustard, vegan bratwurst, and beer, and you will go watch Newsies and have a meat-n-potatoes dinner with your girlfriends.

At least that much you can do right. And some days that’s the best you can do.

*       *       *

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

-Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit

-Cut some red potatoes up into little cubes. I used 5 medium potatoes, with the intention of feeding about 5-7 people (as a side dish). Leave the skins on for maximum nutrition.

-Boil a big pot of water, then add cut up potatoes to the boiling water PLUS a bit of baking soda. Say…1/2 a teaspoon for lots of potatoes, but only 1/4 of a teaspoon for not so many potatoes.

-Boil for 3 minutes. Then drain. Then let those hot little spuds cool off.

-Toss your potatoes in some olive oil, a bit of salt, and crushed or chopped garlic.

-Spread the whole mess out on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with more salt, some pepper, and rosemary sprigs (fresh or not, whatevs).

-Bake/roast for 20 minutes or so, until they are golden brown and crispy in parts and a fork slides easily in. BONUS: you can add some lemon juice for the last 5 minutes of roasting for extra amazingness.

-ENJOY! Try them in a salad with mixed greens, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, and tuna. Or not.

Having it All

~OR~

The Best of Both Worlds

Fridays are usually pretty low key for this gal. I like to spend the evening at home, eating a salty delicious dinner (in this case, salad, but nachos are also acceptable), baking, and drinking wine.

Then I usually move the furniture back so that I can dance around by myself like a woman possessed. POSSESSED BY THE NEED TO SHAKE IT.

And that’s fun. But sometimes I think that maybe I’d like to be dancing with others, socially, and also drinking with others, socially, and also just, you know, socializing. I mean, salads are cool. And baking is therapeutic. But sometimes I am like Ariel, and I want more. I want to go where the people are, and I wanna see…I wanna see them dancing.

BUT WHY CHOOSE, FRIENDS? Why not eat a salad, drink some wine, bake some thangs, dance around by myself, and THEN go to a divorce celebration party for my brother’s girlfriend, drop off some hideous (and therefore un-documented) vegan cookie failures AND some amazing deviled egg SUCCESSES:

…then meet up with ladies at a hotel where there is chocolate vodka which tastes just like these dolls (in a good way), and then go out dancing at a club/bar/meat market called The Hotel to dance, smoke hookah, and otherwise run amok?

Why not, Friends?

Have your cupcake dolls and drink them, too.

*       *       *

Gluten-free (and paleo-approved) cupcakes/muffins courtesy of Joy the Baker! (Frosting is not Paleo, though. Nor am I)

Ugly failure cookies ALSO from Joy the Baker! I think I effed them up by substituting applesauce for butter and flax for eggs, which I do ALL THE TIME, but apparently that magic trick has it’s limits. Feel free to tell me if yours turn out anything at all like the picture, though, as mine did not. At all.

Salad courtesy of ME! Like this: mixed greens, radish sprouts, tuna, cranberries, sunflower seeds, nutritional yeast and Annie’s Light Goddess dressing.

House-Sitting

 

~OR~

The Single Life

Moms are in LA for the weekend, with Rose-a-bose, so I’m on duty on the domestic front. I have a whole, clean, warm house all to myself and don’t work until Monday. Lots of quiet alone time.

I love my moms’ house. The nice sheets, big bed. Clean bathtub. I love how there are pots and pans and spices and all of the kitcheny things that I don’t have. Things like a cake carrier, which I have coveted for years, and is now, apparently, mine. Thanks, Moms.

Other than Ladies Night, it’s been deliciously uneventful. Sleeping in, eating cookies for breakfast. Watching 30 Rock and SNL episodes on Hulu. Reading magazines. Doing laundry. Catching up on my blog, with no distractions or obligations. It’s been great. Just what I needed.

*       *       *

As my Melissa friend pointed out last night, with no kids and a boyfriend halfway around the world, pretty much all my time is me time.

And I’m okay with that.

Can’t Stop; Won’t Stop

I got a new job, friends. A second job, at Salt Lake Roasting Co. That’s right, I’m a barista now. Who’da thunk? This is me taking charge of my finances, Friends. Keeping busy, getting things done.

And I’ve been pretty busy on the social front, as well, despite my most recent stint of Extreme Financial Lock-Down (see need for a second job, above). Last night I had dinner with Lindsey Friend, which called for a new and improved batch of cinnamon-sugar pull-apart bread. I made the dough in advance (as you may well know), and it gave me a scare (too dry! panic!), but then added some water and reduced the sugar from the original recipe. I also used almond-coconut milk, which is AMAZING (Blue Diamond brand. Go buy some), and crammed more little squares into the pan than I thought possible. The results were like this:

And then dinner was like this:

Then tonight I’m watching Harry Potter with the neph, tomorrow I’m breaking financial lock-down to go out for Indian food with coworkers, Thursday its 60s night dancing with Nicole Friend, and Saturday is the Dr. Dog concert with Stephanie Friend. Plans, Friends.

That’s not even counting work and a dentist’s appointment and running and probably more baking.

I think we can call this being on a roll.

 

 

Epic Baking and a New Life

~OR~

“I am PMAing so f***ing hard right now. I am PMAing all over this f***ing town!”

(a recent text sent from me to Eric Friend; PMA = Positive Mental Attitude)

I was maybe in a slump for a while, Friends. I didn’t want to talk about it too much, because I didn’t want to admit it to myself, fully, and I certainly didn’t want to bum you guys out. Not a terrible slump, mind you, but more like a handful of wasted days. Too much Glee watching. Not enough accomplishments. Too many regrets and not enough action.

But praise the powers that be, Friends! I am grateful for the long-awaited, patiently honed power within myself to rise up with fists and get moving again. We can call it a Positive Mental Attitude, but the word that keeps coming to my mind is “Impervious.” I am a woman on a mission and nothing can stop me. Un-fazable.

*       *       *

Last night I repotted Percy, Kevin’s succulent that I’m supposed to be taking care of but really I barely do anything and he is just THRIVING like you would not believe above and beyond the confines of his small pot. (Before pictures here). So I gave him a new pot, a new life. I even repotted some of the clippings back into the small stripey pot and gave it to my Moms so they can have a Percy of their own. Son of Percy.

I wound up repotting him in the dark and cold, my Moms backyard, with a flashlight and stiff fingers. This was possibly due to my afore-mentioned slack off-ery. But I am a new woman, with a new life, and I will get things DONE even if it means frozen hands and dirt on my coat. I am impervious. And I got a free dinner afterwards. (Thanks, Moms!)

*       *       *

Also yesterday I was blown-off twice, by different people, to varying degrees. But did I let it get me down? I did not. Because I am UNFAZABLE, Friends, and because it meant that I got to spend Saturday night watching Glee and drinking wine and going for a long, solo walk through the quiet, cold night to buy more flour and almond-cocunut milk. And then baking, Friends. Epic Baking.

I made pear-plum jam-filled oatbran muffins and used the leftover batter to make a loaf of apricot jam-filled oatbran bread. That almond-cocunut milk (Blue Diamond brand) is to die for, Friends. I could not stop eating the batter.

I even pre-made the dough for another round of cinnamon-sugar pull-apart bread, a labor of love, for my Lindsey Friend. The baking, Friends. It was epic.

*       *       *

And the disappointment at having plans canceled for somewhat dubious reasons? Not epic. The wallowing in self-pity and regret? Non-existent.

Because I do not take it personally, Friends. I do not let it get me down. I enjoy a quiet night in by myself, baking and drinking, and then I clean up. Wash the dishes, read a good book, snuggle into my bed. My new life.

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