Friday, December 22, 2006

Peppermint Chocolate

I want to buy a case of this stuff. I think you can get a 10% discount by doing so. Mr. Beloved said I should just enjoy it during the holiday season. But this just wouldn't be Binge Cafe if I could handle sweets in small doses.

I can't tell you how good it is in sort of reminds me of that powdered stuff in a can, which doesn't sound appetizing I realize.

The strong peppermint and thick choclate-y flavor should not be missed this holiday season. I can further appreciate this beverage following an attempt to make my own last week by soaking a candy cane in soy milk. The candy cane did in fact evaporate, leaving a slight sticky peppermint flavor, but I won't be repeating the experiment.

This morning I made blueberry muffins for breakfast. I used the infamous egg substitute.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

How to Make an Egg, Buttermilk, Gravy, and other Strange things

Here is the most simple way to replace an egg in baked goods:

One Egg
: With a fork, whisk together:

1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 Tablespoons flour
3 Tablespoons water

That's it. If you prefer to have more moist baked goods, use about 1/4 cup applesauce and 1/2 of this recipe, and so-on. Bananas work well too, or soy yogurt.

Thanks to Dilip for the recipe.

One cup of buttermilk can easily be substituted with one cup soy milk and about 1 Tablespoon of vinegar or lemon.

The best non-hydrogenated, no trans fats butter is Earth Balance by far (see pic). They also have a great shortening that I use for frosting or biscuits.

Why replace?

For gravy, I like to use a combo of corn starch and flour for a thickener, and the aforementioned Earth Balance for the fat.

Here is a simple GRAVY recipe:
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1/2 portobello or other mushroom
  • The rest as below.
Saute these in about 1 Tablespoon of Earth Balance until the onion is a little translucent.
Add about 3 Tablespoons of Bragg's, to taste (more can be added later) and saute for 3 - 5 minutes, stirring often.
Sprinkle with about 1/4 cup flour. Stir all around.
Add about 1/8 cup corn starch to 1/2 cup water. Mix, then add to pan.
Add another cup or two of water. Whisk until thick.

I am totally guessing at the measurements here, folks, but the basic idea is here and I think you'll make a fine gravy. If you don't, send me pictures of your failed experiements.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Scrappy Tree & Chocolate Chips

I haven't decorated to celebrate Christmas, X-mas, the Holiday season, or the Vegan Goddess Tofia since I don't know when. I've never bought a chopped tree, and agree with Charlie Brown that those aluminum things just don't do me right.
So this year, I thought, why not make my own tree? We have this handly little store, which I've mentioned previously here, called the Scrap Exchange, in downtown Durham. They sell a bunch of recycled products like old medical equipment, fabric, tubs, paint, wood, etc. Kids can go there and create all sorts of things in their workshop...and grownups can do the same.
Today Mr. Beloved and I braved the warm rain and walked down to the Scrap Exchange with Syba, and the hunt for tree-producing products began. We found the items in the picture above, including three tubes, a candle, some fabric scraps, two old wreath wire holders, two rubber pad things, and a couple pieces of wrapping paper. Most of the items were from .10 to .50 cents. The most expensive was the bag-o-fabric, which was $2.75.
As you can see, I began to assemble it by using a wire hanger to secure the 1st wreath holder, then string for the 2nd. Did I know what I was doing? Absolutely not. You will notice here that there are more pictures of Mr. Beloved than of me decorating the tree. That's because I'm taking the pictures. Though Mr. B. said, before I thought of making a tree: "let's buy a plastic tree!" today he shamelessly tried to take entire credit for my scrap-tree epiphany. Please also notice Mr. Beloved's new "haircut." To save money he bought a razor and trimmed his own head. Things went wrong during the back part. Let's just say he has a higher hairline now than usual, and the hat is coming in handy.
We staple-gunned the fabric on the cardboard tubes, cascading them very tree-like. I put the candle on top, and we put the tree on the piano in the library. As you can see, Mr. Beloved again attempted to sabotage my efforts and took a blurry dark picture of me lighting the candle. I was able to brighten it a bit in Photoshop. Some who follow this blog might also notice that I used Rob's Homer beard from Halloween as a tree decoration. Below are some pics of the finished product, including the candle on top. Seems like that could be a fire hazard, no? Mom, if you're reading this, don't tell Nana about that part. When I was a kid, there was always this constant battle over the christmas lights. Mom would turn them on, and Nana, the moment Mom turned her back, would unplug them. It seems blinking lights would've been a good compromise, but I didn't come up with that back then.

Another thing we haven't done for years...stockings. So when I went to look for mine, it was nowhere to be found. Meanwhile, while I was writing this blog, blaspheming Mr. Beloved, he was in the tv room sewing me a stocking from scratch! He even made it big enough to fit my favorite rice milk bar. Aww.

Though I have sworn off making cookies, cakes, and frosting until a cookie party I'm attending this month, I did happen to make these chocolate chip cookies the other day before the swearing. They turned out great - I just made the recipe off the brown sugar package, substituting an egg with Dilip's famous mixture (try it!): 1 t baking powder, 1/2 t baking soda, 2 T flour, 3 T water.

I darkened the background in Photoshop to highlight these beauties rather than the rusted-appearing sheet upon which they were born.