little sarah Big World

Category: Baking

Baking Give-Away!

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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.

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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?

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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!

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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.

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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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

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“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.

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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!)

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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.

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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.

A Labor of Love

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I Bake Because I Care

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I Bake Because You Are 70-Years-Old and Deserve Something Delicious

My Granny Mary turned 70 on Thursday. 70, Friends! Isn’t that amazing? Maybe you can’t tell from my low-lighting, high-motion picture, but she is a fox. She can pull off that sweater-with-leggings-and-boots look better than anyone I know. This is a woman who grew up on a rural farm in Idaho, became a mother in her teens, a grandmother in her 30s and a great grandmother (several times over) before most people have entered retirement. A woman who loves butter, wine, travel, gossip, sewing, saving, and a good story.

A woman who deserves a loaf of sweet, cinnamon pull-apart bread, even if it does take the better part of an already busy day to make. Because baking bread is a labor of love, it is something so personal and involved and messy, requiring patience and faith and a whole lot of sugar and spice and everything nice. But Granny Mary is worth all that.

I used this recipe from Joy the Baker, whom I adore (though not as much as my grandma, just sayin). It’s not a difficult recipe, just time consuming, as there is a lot of waiting involved. I used the waiting parts to run errands and go for a run. I’m nothing if not productive.

Anyways, you start out by making some dough, with yeast and everything, which stills feels like exciting, uncharted baking territory for me. You let it rise in a warm spot for an hour, while you mix up some cinnamon sugar (with nutmeg) and go to the grocery store. You know, errands stuff.

Then you roll the dough out and admire the beautiful winter sunlight that shines through your kitchen window, for about the hundredth time. Have I mentioned that I love my apartment?

You slather the dough with melted butter (I used vegan, and I also used almond milk in the recipe, mostly just because that’s what I already have at home), sprinkle on the cinnamon-sugar mix, and then cut it into little squares. Then you stack the squares together into a pan. Like this:

Joy’s recipe calls for a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan, but I was using the tin-foil, give-away-style pans and those only came in 8 x 3.5 inches at the Freddy-Smith’s, which means that I miraculously had enough for two loaves! One for Granny, and one for the party.

Although, looking at Joy’s post again, I think maybe I could’ve crammed my squares in tighter. Ah, well. I’m just giving you guys options. I’m nothing if not fond of keeping my options open.

Anyways, so then you wait another 30 to 45 minutes for the dough-squares to rise in the pan(s), maybe go for a run or do some laundry, before baking. Which is another 35 minutes or so. Again, totally worth it. Because the end result goes a little something like…this!

70-year-old bad-ass grannies deserve beautiful baskets lined with brand-new kitchen towels and filled with home-made sweet bread, fancy butter, expensive honey, and gourmet chocolates, from their grandchildren. They deserve a day’s worth of baking. They deserve to be surrounded by four generations and to drink wine and laugh and eat as much cheese as they like.

They deserve to have their cake and eat it, too.

Or at least mine does. And don’t go thinking that we got her a store-bought cake with that crappy plastic frosting, because we special ordered it with WHIPPED CREAM FROSTING, which is amazing. And yes, she deserved it.

Happy birthday, Granny.

Wait, Sarah, What Are You Doing in Spain?

– Eating about a tin of olives per day

– Drinking claras and picando things in little bars and cafés

– Forcing Kevin to reorganize his room/buy basic home furnishings

– Suffering tremendous, sharp, stabbing stomach pains (unrelated to olive consumption)

– Getting my sleep cycle all messed up up so that my most awake/alert time is right now, bedtime

– Making facebook pages for Santa, Rudolph, and the rest of the gang with my chicos in Illescas

– Watching YouTube videos

– Getting tear-inducing, almost painful giggles with Kevin every night when we’re supposed to be going to bed

– (Bedtime is not our forte)

– Eating tortilla and hanging out with my compis, just like the old days

– Baking Cookies and drinking wine, just like the old days

– Missing Laura

– Searching for a way to stay

Thanksgiving in Brooklyn

Cousin Emily and I have spent many Thanksgivings together, since childhood. We’ve forcibly performed our home-spun rendition of Chantilly Lace on our much-annoyed family members countless times–a Thanksgiving tradition.

But this year we gave them a break and let them celebrate Turkey Day on the West Coast while we were living it up in the Big Apple. Cousins together in New York! YES! And we went to the parade, Friends! That very Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade from Miracle on 24th Street fame. We did that.

Later, we went to Em’s friend Talia’s house, where Talia and her brother had prepared an amazing spread (including 2 different types of stuffing), defying their 20-something status and delighting our unassuming palates. For our part, Em and I baked pies–one apple, one blackberry–from scratch. We drank whiskey, wine, and beer, feasted, and played Apples to Apples. A perfectly fine way to celebrate.

It’s nice to know that you can have such a homey feeling among old relatives and new friends in a place you’ve never been before. It’s a warm, fuzzy feeling.

Good Day Sunshine

Recently I decided to stop partying so hard, move forward, untether myself from a sinking ship. If you will. Turns out that doing such things cost me many friends and showered me with judgment and insult. And it does sting, Friends. It burns, a little.

But the thing is…I’m okay. Doing quite well, actually. Still without internet at home, and I’ve been reading in bed (zines, fiction, graphic novels, periodicals…), having Dance Party of One (Jenny Lewis, Rilo Kiley, Dr. Dog and Arcade Fire), cleaning house and enjoying the alone time. Watching Woody Allen films.

And eating well. Salad, even! If a delicious Winter salad is not a mark of inner peace and health, then I just don’t know what is. Plus the baking, again, my old comfort habit. I’m feeling like myself again, is I guess what I’m trying to say.

Not that I’m perfect. I’m not. I’ve done some cowardly, misguided things of late. Slipped back into old, bad habits. But I pulled myself out again, and if that means Permanent Alone Time, then that’s fine. In fact, I’m glad of it. Because…because there was a time when that wouldn’t  have been okay. In fact, my trip for most of last year was “Nobody likes me I have no friends what’s wrong with me?!”

Whereas now I wonder, “What’s wrong with them? I’m having the time of my life.”