rocket ship go!

April 20, 2008

me? tagged?

Filed under: Uncategorized — by Rachel @ 4:24 pm
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Sorry for the whole not-posting-in-forever thing. I have made things, it’s true: cupcakes, muffins, even an amaaaazing cheezecake (which was absolutely my favorite food pre-vegan, so the fact that I enjoyed it means it kicks tofutti). But I have been busy lately, mostly trying to read actual printed books as opposed to blogs (and regular books, not cookbooks). Have you read Off the Map? You really should; it will make you think and make you happy. How many books do that at once? If you know of any, you should recommend.

In being all busy and such, I forgot to check my blog, thinking that no one would visit because of no new postage. Apparently I was wrong, because one of the several hits I got was from Liz of kamutflake girl, who tagged me to share 5 random things about myself with my “readers.” (BAHAHAHAHA like those even exist)

But that’s far too vague a question! I couldn’t stand those first few days in middle school and high school, when your teacher would give you all those forms to fill out about yourself, monotonously listing your birthday and address, for every teacher. And one of them would be personal enough to ask you to tell him a few things about yourself, but I always had no idea what to say. I am too complex a person to be able to draw out of my depths the 5 most interesting points of my life, that I would most definitely care to have others know about me, on the spot. My head doesn’t work that way: my essence flows, it isn’t extracted and distilled like vanilla! So with me, you get some boring parts for sure, some repeats, but the beauty is steeped in there too, murky and milky with the rest of the it. You know?

That used to mildly stress me out, but whatev’s. Five things, as they come to me:

  • There a greenway near my school, and it’s rather green and lush, with the exception of all the middle-aged business people and their kids, in gym shorts and t-shirts. But running beside the span of this greenway is a creek, and by the creek is this official looking metal sign that says, “AVOID PHYSICAL CONTACT: BIOLOGICAL HAZARD” and lists stuff that it’s contaminated with, like septic waste. So no swimming in that river. Yes, there is a nuclear power plant (supposedly where the bomb dropped on Hiroshima was made??) a few miles from my school. No, I do not have cancer (yet).
  • Speaking of school, I’m studying abroad next semester in Guayaquil, Ecuador! I’ve always wanted to travel in Latin America, but Ecuador wouldn’t have been my first pick: I would have chosen Nicaragua or Guatemala, which have more prominent revolutionary histories. But the program that I’ll be enrolled in is focused on social justice, and I’ve heard that Ecuador has one of the most revolutionary histories of all the countries in South America. Obviously, I have a lot of learning to do.
  • I don’t shave my legs or my armpits, and I’m proud. It took a few shy (winter) months of hiding my legs from my boyfriend and wearing pants and long skirts, but I rock the shorts these days, because a month or two ago I was just like, “Know what? I love me!” I had said that kind of thing to myself before, but never meant it so strongly. And my boyfriend is so down with it. Oh, and on that “I love me” day, I kind of stood in front of the mirror and pulled up my shirt, and rubbed my belly and smiled at myself. Do you think that’s weird?
  • I miss my mom’s broccoli-cheese-rice casserole so bad, and I wanna veganize it soon.
  • I was gonna live in my own apartment over the summer (woo no curfew! woo biking to everywhere I need to go!), but the girl whose lease I was gonna take gave it away to another girl. Without telling me. After she had agreed with me first to give me the lease. Lame?

I know that I’m supposed to tag 5 other people, but I’m not going to continue the tag chain-of-fools, so I hope you enjoy my random factoids.

February 10, 2008

OCF dinner

Filed under: Uncategorized — by Rachel @ 1:20 am
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I made dinner for all my people in the OCF on Thursday. I made mini polenta pizzas and a fruit salad, but I have no pictures of them. The pizzas were from Fat-Free Vegan Kitchen, and they were delicious (and gluten-free! Always a plus), even if they required a lot more baking time than the recipe stated. I should have made more, though: I only made a double batch (which is technically meant to serve four). I know my poor friends must have been hungry when they got back home, because I sure was! Note to self: amass more filling casserole recipes. The fruit salad was made in the style I learned from my mom:

*fresh fruit (I nicked what was sitting in the cafeteria: apples, oranges, and bananas)
*lemon juice (I actually asked the people in the back for a lemon, and they gave me one! Ask and you shall receive.)
*agave nectar (my mom uses honey)
*generous dashes of cinnamon

I love it so much; it tastes like home.

I did get pictures of the gingerbread cookies that I made for OCF. The recipe is really great: if you don’t overbake them, they’re nice and soft, and the spicing is just perfect. I made an orange icing to go with them: 1 c. powdered sugar, 1 t. orange zest, and just enough orange juice to make it gooey enough to pipe from a plastic baggy.

1/3 c. canola oil
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. molasses
1/4 c. plain soymilk

2 c. whole wheat pastry flour or all-purpose flour (or a mix of both)
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt

spice blend:
1/2 t. each ground nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon
1 1/2 t. ground ginger

In a large bowl beat together oil and sugar for about 3 minutes. Add molasses and soymilk. The molasses and soymilk won’t really blend with the oil but that’s ok.
In a sepearte bowl, sift together all the other ingredients.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet in batches. Mix together with a firm spoon or spatula until well combined. You should have a pretty stiff dough. Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for an hour or up to 3 days in advance. (If you chill longer than an hour you may want to let it sit for 10 minutes to loosen up a bit before proceeding).

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease your cookie sheets.
On a floured surface roll you dough out to a little less than 1/4 inch thick. You can do this in 2 batches if you don’t have the space. Cut out your shapes with your cookie cutters and gently place on cookie sheets. Bake for 8 minutes.
Remove from oven and let them cool for 2 minutes on the baking sheet then move to a cooling rack. Wait until they are completely cool before icing.

January 23, 2008

chocolate pudding cake

Filed under: Uncategorized — by Rachel @ 11:44 am
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I’ve been wanting to try this recipe for a few weeks, and as fate would have it, I found out a couple of days ago that one of my roommates, Kelley, was about to have her 19th birthday (which was yesterday). This recipe is simple, uses stuff that you probably have sitting around in the kitchen, and you don’t need a frosting, because as the cake cooks, this gooey chocolate pudding sauce forms beneath the cake, so it’s a complete dessert all in one dish. I think this cake would be enhanced if you took added 1/2 c. bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate chips to the batter. But it’s up to you.

This recipe is originally from the blog Jewish Vegan, the author of which I have never met, even though we live in the same city. Hmmmm…

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour (used white spelt again)
2 1/2 t. baking powder
3/4 t. salt
1 1/8 c. sugar
9 T. cocoa, divided
1/2 c. chocolate chips (optional)
3/4 c. soymilk
3 T. vegetable oil
1 1/2 t. vanilla
1 1/2 c. brown sugar, packed
2 1/2 c. hot water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar with 3 tablespoons of cocoa. Stir in the chocolate chips. In a separate bowl, stir together the soymilk, oil, and vanilla, then pour that into the dry ingredients and stir until smooth. Spread in an ungreased 9×13″ baking pan. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and 6 tablespoons cocoa. Sprinkle over batter. Pour hot water over all, do not stir. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes. Serve warm.

I discovered, with the help of my oven thermometer, that when fully preheated, the oven in the dorm kitchen is a full 50 degrees too hot! Which can cause baking disasters for sure.

January 16, 2008

cupcakes, cupcakes everywhere

Filed under: Uncategorized — by Rachel @ 8:21 pm
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Last semester I made a silly bet with my friend Carrie (something about the color of our test papers), and she lost. The loser had to buy the winner a vegan cupcake from Tomato Head. (What else would you want to wager?)

All they had was red velvet, which I’ve totally had already, so she got herself one of those and bought me a vegan chocolate chip cookie:

It was huge, buttery, and tasty, and when Carrie raised her two fingers behind it, I was reminded of Evan’s bunny-eared cheesecake, with cute lil’ eyes and everything. Life is just cosmic like that sometimes.

I definitely mooched off Carrie’s cupcake, which only adds to the insane cupcake consumption of the past few days. I of course ate several of my mom’s birthday cupcakes, then a friend of mine recently brought cakes back from Babycakes NYC and gave a chocolate one to me! Am I lucky or what?

January 15, 2008

pumpkin waffles

Filed under: Uncategorized — by Rachel @ 1:48 pm
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My school has Belgian waffle irons, and since I had all the ingredients to make these pumpkin waffles from the PPK, I thought I would whip the batter together in my room and take it to the cafeteria to cook ’em up. I halfed the recipe and made a few substitutions (subbed soy yogurt for some of the oil and kind of estimated how much pumpkin to put in the batter). This yielded a chewy waffle that insisted on coming apart when you tried to take it out of the iron, and I had to leave it in about a minute longer than the built-in timer suggested to get it to be pretty like the one in the picture above. The moral of the story? 7 1/2 oz. of pumpkin puree does NOT equal a scant cup of pumpkin. The cafeteria smelled so good when the waffles were cooking, though. I’m going to publish the original recipe here, because I’m pretty sure it should yield good-textured waffles if you actually follow the directions.

2 1/2 cups all-purp. flour (I used white spelt)
1/3 cup turbinado or brown sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 Tablespoons soy yogurt
2 cups soymilk
15 oz pureed pumpkin, fresh or canned
1/3 cup oil
2 teaspoons vanilla

Sift together dry ingredients. In a seperate bowl, vigorously wisk together wet ingredients until well emulsified. Pour wet into dry and combine. Prepare waffles according to manufacturers instructions.

December 14, 2007

cheezy crackers

Filed under: Uncategorized — by Rachel @ 12:23 pm
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Whoa! The drudgery of finals is now over. Of course, a lot of people had it worse than me, cramming and studying and staying up into the wee hours of the morning with their Starbucks. Personally, I am not the biggest study-er ever. I’ll do whatever it takes to get a paper in on time, but when it comes to exams, I constantly put off studying for it until the test arrives. But procrastination is its own private hell anyway.

For the few days that I left home to go back up to school and take my exams, I didn’t bring any of my baking accoutrement with me, so there were long hours of putting off studying, instead of putting off studying by baking. But before I went back to school, I made these cheezy crackers from Celine’s blog, and I love them! I might try cutting them a bit thinner next time to make them a little lighter, but they taste so good. I’m going to include them in my baking rotation for gifts that I make this Christmas.

1 c. unbleached flour (I’m gonna use whole wheat pastry next time)
1/3 c. nutritional yeast
1/2 t. black pepper (fresh-ground tastes amazing)
1 t. sea salt
generous 1/4 c. vegan margarine, very cold
water (no more than 1/4 c.)

Preheat your oven to 350F. Line a couple of baking sheet with parchment paper.

Stir together the flour, nooch, pepper, and salt in a mixing bowl. Add in the margarine and beat with a mixer until the texture of it all resembles coarse flour. As it’s mixing, add water in, little by little, until the mixture holds together.

Turn it out onto a clean surface, and roll out the dough with a rolling pin. (I put the dough on top of a piece of plastic wrap, then put another piece on top as I rolled it out, and there was no sticking that way.) Roll it out pretty thick, about 1/3 inch, for maximum cheezy flavor, or roll it out thinner to make them lighter and crunchier around the edges.

Using your smallest cookie cutter (to get one-inch shapes), cut out pieces of dough and place them on the baking sheets. Bake them 15-17 minutes if you cut them chunky. Subtract a few minutes if you cut them thin. Either way, watch them to be sure they don’t burn. They should be done when they’re set and golden. Place them on racks to cool.

These keep well in the freezer or just in plastic baggies. Also, they’re delicious.

November 18, 2007

discovery, will robinson!

Filed under: Uncategorized — by Rachel @ 10:28 pm
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So I had just got back home from Atlanta and was taking all my stuff from my car to the room. I was walking past some apartments that are right behind my dorm, when what do I spy? International Jerusalem Market! An on-campus international market?! How did I not know of this for the past 3 months that I’ve been here? I totally flipped out. The only other two international markets I know of (Mexican and Indian) are 3 and 7 miles, respectively, away from me. Finding this place was amazing! The tingly sensations inside of me only increased when I explored the treasures hidden  within:

Pictured above are: a jar of date syrup; lots of different bulk spices, and all-natural “falafil” mix. There were so many other wonderfous new things, like authentic whole-wheat pita bread, tons of different dried legumes and grains (some of which I have never heard of before), preservative-free figs, jugs of extra virgin olive oil, weird canned commodities, different sweets and cookies, and big 4.25-lb. aluminum cans of solid palm fruit oil, sitting next to cans the same size full of ghee. And much much more. It’s full of bizarre Middle Eastern charm and wonderfulness. I can’t wait to go buy stuff!

November 14, 2007

snickerdoodles, cafeteria paranoia, and love

Filed under: Uncategorized — by Rachel @ 10:54 pm
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At work yesterday, they were baking some generic cookies from a package to sell to customers, and they smelled so good that I totally had to whip up some of my own. The cookies to satisfy my fix were snickerdoodle cookies from the Don’t Eat Off the Sidewalk blog. I’ve never had snickerdoodles that were crunchy on the outside because of a sugar coating, but these were, which was a plus. I knew they weren’t going to spread, so I mushed them down with the bottom of a salsa jar, but the mushing made them a bit tough, so you should stick to the original recipe, which advises to only smush slightly. I remember the snickerdoodles of my childhood being flatter, bigger, and more soft, and I think I prefer that familiarity. Nonetheless, these tasted awesome, and everyone who ate some (read: the Progressive Student Alliance, my guinea pigs) loved them.Oh, and I doubled the recipe to feed all my friends; the original turned out a pretty small batch.

2 1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
2 t. cinnamon
2/3 c. non-hydrogenated vegan margarine (such as Earth Balance), softened
1 1/3 c. sugar
4 T. agave nectar/syrup*
1 T. flax meal*

1/4 c. sugar
2 T. turbinado sugar*
1 t. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon, set aside.

In a big bowl, cream together the margarine and sugar until fluffy. Add the flax and agave and beat a little more. Add the dry mix slowly, combine until just mixed.

In a small bowl (just use the one you combined the dry in), combine the coating ingredients. (If you don’t have any turbinado, don’t worry about it. I don’t think it’s necessary.) Roll the dough into one inch balls and coat them in the sugar mixture.

Place the balls on an ungreased cookie sheet and pat with your hand to flatten them out just a little bit. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Allow them to cool on the sheet for a minute, then transfer to a cooling rack. These do dry out pretty quick, so store them in an airtight container.

So when I was in the cafeteria today, I went to the vegan section. There was a sign which clearly read “VEGAN” and underneath it it said “soy burgers.” Next to the meaty-looking burgers, there were some suspiscious biscuits sprinked with raisins and powdered sugar. I asked a cook (one of the fancy ones with a chef robe) if they were vegan, and he said no. Then I asked about the burgers: no again. Then I asked about the sweet potato fries in between them, of which I had already taken a bite, and he just shrugged and shook his head. How am I supposed to trust anything that the cafeteria tells me or labels as vegan now? Do they even know what vegan is?! I think I’m going to have to switch from baking so much to cooking actual food; I would rather be sure.

But to end this post on a sweet note:
My boyfriend, an aspiring chef, is not a vegetarian, but he’s the closest to one that I’ve ever dated because he doesn’t eat beef or pork. But he is now cooking vegan food and testing out recipes on his parents, so that he can cook for me when I’m home. That is so incredible to me! No one’s ever gone the distance for me like that before; I’m so lucky. ^_^

(* Indicates changes to the recipe. Original recipe here.)

November 2, 2007

vegan mofo intro

Filed under: Uncategorized — by Rachel @ 10:03 pm
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November mission

November is officially NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). But some vegan food bloggies decided they wanted not to write novels but to cook deliciousness and blog about it everyday. This glorious event shall be called Vegan MoFo (Vegan Month of Food). And I’m gonna do it! I have another previously existing, better-organized blog, but it’s pretty personal. Not for yo’ eyez!

Oh yes, it may be a challenge, since dorm life is not always convenient to cooking (there is a communal kitchen a floor below me). And I’ve only been vegan since Monday (vegetarian for almost 4 years). But what better way to begin? And I don’t have to always blog about cooking. Ideas to blog about from Isa and Katie:

  • Your first vegan/vegetarian restaurant memory
  • Something you used to cook but don’t anymore
  • Try to cook/bake something that intimidates you
  • Write about your grandma’s holiday cooking
  • your favorite dish to bring to a potluck
  • your favorite meal to cook for people who are scared of vegan food
  • your favorite meal to cook for your parents/in-laws
  • use an grain you’ve never used before
  • use a fruit or vegetable you’ve never used before
  • veganize a recipe from your childhood
  • cook dinner for a friend as a surprise and drop it off right after work
  • cook an all-local ingredients meal
  • Write about your favorite songs to cook to
  • Keep a photo food journal for the entire day
  • Veganize a recipe
  • Tell the story of the first time you tried tofu
  • Take a cookbook that you don’t use very often and make one new recipe out of it every day for a week
  • Post pictures of yourself wearing nothing but Earth Balance and a smileVegan food blogging commence!
  • Blog at