Gum Drop Cake


Had enough sugar yet today?

My Nana used to make this cake for us when we were kids.

I’m not sure if it’s one of those depression era cakes that remind me of grandma’s and farmhouses or if it’s just a classically good everyday cake that’s delicious enough to serve for any celebration.
…And most days are worth celebrating, aren’t they?

GUM DROP CAKE

1/2 Cup Butter, vegan
1 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
1 Cup Plain Soy Milk
2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Salt
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 Cup Chopped Gum Drops, about 15

Combine the milk with the lemon juice and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF and grease a loaf pan with butter and flour.
Cream the butter with the sugar.
Add the salt, cinnamon, baking powder and soda.
Alternating, add about one third of the milk and 1/2 cup of flour until it has all been incorporated.
Stir in the chopped gumdrops to combine.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake 50-60 minutes or until a cake tester is cleanly removed.

Cool completely before serving.
If desired drizzle with a tangelo glaze:

1/2 Cup Icing Sugar
Zest and juice of 1 tangelo

Sift the sugar and add the zest.
Whisk in the juice until smooth, add water, one drop at a time, if necessary.

Crispy, Roasted Kale


I’ve heard them called kale chips too. They can be roasted or dehydrated raw to get this crisp, practically preserved autumn leaf.

I grew a few plants in my new garden and now that the season is starting to chill, I couldn’t resist picking the biggest one. I know I was supposed to wait for the first frost, at the very least, but these were so worth the sacrifice. They literally only took minutes to prepare just to simply be left in a low oven.

Since NO ONE in my house would eat them but myself, I carefully dropped them into an oversized bag and brought them to my brother-in-laws birthday party last weekend. They were quickly identified and inhaled by the other guests, which certainly made up for my households curled noses.

Perfect as a snack but I could see these garnishing soup or even getting crushed and stirred into a fresh pot of mashed potatoes.


CRISP, ROASTED KALE CHIPS

1 Large Bunch Kale, stems removed
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Zest of ONE Lemon
Sea Salt

Pinch Sea SaltPreheat the oven to 250ºF.
To remove the stems of the kale, hold it up side down, stem side up with one hand and pinch the stem with your other thumb and forefinger to tear it up and away from the leaf.
Toss the leaves with the oil and lemon zest in a large bowl to coat evenly.
Lay the leaves out in a single layer on a baking sheet and lightly sprinkle with salt.
Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until crisp.
Cool on brown or  paper towel to remove any excess oil.

Pumpkin Cranberry Scones



I’m sitting and eating and eating and thinking about what to write for a post.
These are good. Even on the second day, but especially just warm from the oven. The amazing thing is that they are perfectly autumn and the moisture hasn’t given way to the little bricks that so many other scones can become.

I may have mentioned my favourite fall outings to the pumpkin patch, my Scottish roots and even my recent vacation. All of which brought me to my current gluttony of scones and tea.

Having arrived home after 2 1/2 weeks in the sun, one of my hoarded pumpkins wasn’t too happy about being hauled inside a little early. With signs of softness starting, I knew it wouldn’t store but since it was one of my favourite Galeux d’Eysines, I didn’t really mind carving in early.
These old French heirlooms are perfect for baking and savoury dishes.
Might be why these thing taste so good!

(That’s her in the middle, my Galeux d’Eysines in all her unspoiled glory.)


PUMPKIN CRANBERRY SCONES

1 1/2 Cups Unbleached All Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/2 Cup Cold Vegan Butter, cubed
3/4 Cup Pumpkin Purée, I used unseasoned, roasted Galeux d’Eysines, but canned is already drained
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon, ground
Pinch Freshly Ground Nutmeg, about 1/8 tsp.
5 T Clementine or Orange Juice, 2 clementines
1/2 Cup Dried Cranberries

Preheat oven to 450ºF.
Drain any excess water from the pumpkin purée with a fine mesh sieve, if necessary.
Add the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg, pulsing to sift.
Add the cold, cubed butter and pulse to a coarse bread-crumbly consistency.
Add the the pumpkin and clementine juice to combine.
Add the dried cranberries and pulse, just to incorporate throughout the dough.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
With clean, floured hands, turn the dough out onto the parchment paper.
Pat the sticky dough into a workable 1″x8″ round and slice, with a floured blade, into 8 wedges.
Bake for 20 minutes or until tops have slightly goldened.

Allow to cool, only slightly, before eating.
Dust with confectioners sugar, if desired.

Homemade Nutella


The way this homemade stuff pops up and ends up in various pastries and the like, you’d think that  absolutely almost everyone loves Nutella. Almost.

I had hazelnuts on hand and I’ve been itching to use my cocoa nibs in everything, I just had to, I couldn’t resist. Combine the two and what do you get? You guessed it! Plus I figured, I was bound to get my self proclaimed vegetarian kid who won’t eat peanut butter to eat a nut, especially if it’s intertwined with chocolate and it tastes like Nutella.

Warm, buns, still steamy from the oven, homemade Nutella and some thinly sliced banana heaven…

Nope. “This taste-iss like peanut butter is in it. Are there nuts in this?”

Yes friends, I have the only known person who dislikes Nutella living under my roof and she’s a chocolate loving child.

At least they say that little tastebuds change. More for me, I guess.

COCOA NIB HAZELNUT SPREAD

1 cups Hazelnuts, toasted & skinned
1/2 cup Cocoa Nibs
1/2 cup Confectioners Sugar
2 Tablespoons Coconut Oil
1 Tablespoon Cocoa Powder

Preheat oven to 250ºF.
Toast the hazelnuts in a single layer on a cookie sheet for about 10 minutes. Give the pan a good shake about half way through to toss.
Remove the nuts from the oven and cool slightly.
Tightly wrap the hazelnuts in a clean kitchen towel. Twist and rub until most of the skins have come off.
Place the nuts and the cocoa nibs in a food processor, and pulse on high until they have broken down.
Add the coconut oil and continue to blend until they become smooth and buttery; about 5 minutes.
When the nuts are liquified, add in the sugar and cocoa powder, continuing to blend.
Transfer the spread to a jar and store in the refrigerator, leaving it to come closer to room temperature just before using.

Adventures In Eating


Omnivorous or not, a trip to Chicago without a dining destination might leave you a little stumped.
While I’m sure the city is drenched in fabulous restaurant choices, left on your own without a little guidance one might only find an pierogi, an all dressed hot dog or a deep dish pizza on the menu.

Naturally, it was long before Oprah tried her hand at veganism, I’m sure there were options, although hidden, throughout her Windy City. Stumble upon Fox & Obel, or carefully read through some menus and you might find some contributions to the herbivore fare like grilled vegetable paninis and some very interesting, but tasty salads, like this one inspired by the Corner Bakery Café.

Sweet, with the only zip pretty much coming from the flavour of the ginger and finishing with a hint of cilantro, it was a great salad all on it’s own, but it did go well with that crisp panini and I’m sure anything grilled for summer as well.

Perfect flash of colour for your July celebration table.
Happy Canada Day everyone.

EDAMAME SALAD

Edamame (Soy Beans), about 1 cup podded
1 Large Carrot, Coarsely grated, equivalent to 1 cup
1 Sweet Red Bell Pepper, diced
1/2 English Cucumber, diced, about 1 cup
3 Scallions, finely diced
2″ Piece Fresh Ginger, peeled and finely grated
Fistful of Fresh Cilantro, finely chopped, about 1 Tablespoon
Fistful of Fresh Basil, finely chopped, about 1 Tablespoon
2 Tablespoons Orange Juice
1 Tablespoons Agave Nectar
1 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Pinch Salt

Finely grate the ginger using the fine grater of a box grater or a zester and squeeze excess juice from any stringy remains.
Add the ginger and juice to a food processor or a wide enough cup to handle an immersion blender, along with the agave and olive oil. Mix well to emulsify.
Steam the beans or boil in their pods for about 3 – 4 minutes.
Drain the beans and blanch under cold water briefly to cool.
Finely dice the cucumber.
Peel and finely dice the scallions and coarsely shred the carrot on the large hole of a box grater, or cut into matchsticks.
Shell the beans, discarding the pods, and add, along with the other vegetables into a large bowl.
Wash, dry and finely chop the basil and cilantro.
Pour over the dressing and sprinkle over the herbs, tossing to coat everything well.

Minneolo Marmalade & Muesli Bread: A Confession.


So, I’m guessing there could be worse things do be addicted to, right?

While I’m preparing to admit that I am a marmalade junky, I find this breakfast muesli bread. I’ve suddenly become like a child who only singly eats mac and cheese or pb&j for weeks straight.

Breakfasts, lunches, midnight snacks are spent longing for the next time I can glob juliennes of sticky zest over my raisin stuffed sunflower bread.

As I’m leaving my local unnamed bigbox store with the oversized package of my next fix and realizing I have issues, I decided to stick to my personal claim of not buying what I can quite easily make on my own. I just couldn’t rightfully keep forking out five bucks for a bag of bread.

A little while back, with a few leftover minneolos, a cup of o.j, water and sugar, I had the marmalade covered. So now, it was on to the bread. The store bought, of course, had it’s yummy je ne sais quoi mixed in, so I was left to pick out my favourites, the first of those, being sunflower seeds. The next to impossible task was finding any that weren’t hulled, apparently they are only good for spitting but after an exhaustive search, I found some. They were salted, but beggers can’t be choosers, right? I figured I’d either rinse them or omit the extra salt.
Thanks to my son, I always have raisins, and we’re talking the big fat ones too. He just won’t accept those puny shriveled ones. – Left from the last trip to the health food store, was his half eaten bag of plump organic jumbo flames. They’re about the size of his knuckle, so I was headed for a good start. I had an apple, cinnamon oatmeal and flax, all the good müesli things.

The bread recipe is pretty basic. Taking the knowledge from Mark Bittman and his book How to Cook Everything, I keep my whole wheat bread ratios to 3:1 all purpose flour to whole wheat; doing this keeps a good crust. And that’s just what it needed to keep all the good stuff in and my globs of marmalade on safely top.

MÜESLI BREAD

1/3 Cup Flax Seeds
1/2 Cup Sunflower Seeds
1 Cup Organic Jumbo Flame Raisins
1/3 Cup Steel Cut Oats (precooked), or add 1/3 Old Fashioned Oats, uncooked
3 Cups Water (divided)
4 Cups All Purpose Flour (divided)
1 1/2 teaspoons Yeast (divided)
2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
1/3 Cup Maple Syrup
1/4 Cup Safflower Oil
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 Granny Smith Apple, peeled & finely diced

Cook the steel cut oats as to the package directions, set aside.
Cover the flax, sunflower seeds, raisins and oats with 1 1/2 cups of warm water. Stir to combine and leave 1 hour or up to overnight.
In another bowl, combine 2 cups of the all purpose flour with 1/2 teaspoon of the yeast along with the remaining 1 1/2 cups of warm water. Stir well to combine and leave the sponge to prove 1 hour or refrigerated overnight.
Combine the seed mixture along with the sponge.
Add the remaining 1 teaspoon of yeast granules, maple syrup, oil, salt and cinnamon.
Once well mixed, add the remaining all purpose and whole wheat flours, in stages.
Knead for 5 – 7 minutes or until the dough is springy, soft and elastic.
Transfer the dough to a clean, slightly oiled bowl. Let the dough rest and rise for about 30 minutes.
Divide the dough into two pieces. Shape into two traditional or rustic loaves, placing into two slightly greased loaf pans or onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
Allow the dough about another hour to rise.
Preheat the oven to 425ºF.
Place a pan of hot water on the lowest rack of the oven along with the loaves on the center rack.
Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 400ºF, remove the pan of water and continue to bake for an additional 20 – 25 minutes, until the loaves are golden and hollow sounding when tapped from underneath.