Saturday, April 12, 2014

banana, carrot, zucchini bread.

It might be raining for the first time ever. Well, that's just what it feels like when you live in a place of eternal winter. At first the sound of raindrops was confusing to me, unfamiliar. But then it was so so welcome. Spring is finally here!

I bet you didn't know it's mandatory to bake on rainy days. I bet you really didn't know it's mandatory to bake a quick bread on rainy days.

Banana, carrot, zucchini bread is literally everything you've ever wanted. It's like all the good flavors of breads came over for a play date and had so much fun. It's like you couldn't decide which one you wanted to make so you just decided to make all of them. It's like everyone's married and they're on their honeymoon and the weather is perfect and no one gets sunburned and there's a lot of singing.

Maybe you should just make it.

Banana, Carrot, Zucchini Bread
slightly adapted from Rose's Heavenly Cakes (as in there's supposed to be walnuts but I didn't have any)

2 cups plus 2 Tbsp all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup quick cooking oats
1 very ripe banana, mashed
1/2 cup oil
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup water
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup shredded carrot
2/3 cup shredded zucchini

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 8x5in loaf pan.

In a medium sized bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and oats.

In a large bowl beat together mashed banana, oil, sugars, and eggs. Add water and beat til foamy. Beat in vanilla. Mix in carrot and zucchini.

Slowly add flour mixture to wet ingredients and combine, being careful not to over mix. Bake for one hour or until a toothpick, inserted, comes out clean. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

pistachio shortbread.

I'm not that mad at me for not doing any sort of blogging for the past...let's say for the past two months.

Am I in the midst of a second wind? We'll see.

Winter is long in these parts, but that's nothing a heavy dosage of vitamin D, one sixty degree day, dogs, friends, and oatmeal can't fix.


Sometimes I get real gift-y so I made some cookies to send to the family back in Illinois. My dad doesn't like chocolate which is an anomaly to nearly anyone. First I was all, "winter citrus shortbread duh." But then my ego was all, "everyone makes citrus things in the winter." And so I chose pistachios.

I've got this real fuzzy memory of my second grade teacher forcing us to eat pistachio pudding on St. Patrick's Day which made me hate pistachios forever. Imitation pistachio flavor is extremely disappointing. Pistachio.

These, however, are not disappointing. Being careful not to over pulse butter with the rest of the ingredients will result in a perfectly sanding dough that comes together with some help from your fingers. Think moon sand. Moon sand cookies that will melt in your mouth.

I would imagine you could make these will all kind of nuts. Candied pecans. That would be great. 

Head over to Leite's Culinaria for the recipe from the More From Macrina. Macrina? Obvi these cookies are going to be delicious.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

this is all i know about valentine's day.

Once at some point in elementary school I came home and my crush (crush is an understatement, I was fully committed from kindergarten through sixth grade) had dropped off a white teddy bear holding a heart and a mylar balloon. It was then brought to my attention that some other ten year old had received the same.

In third grade I made the most impressive valentine mailbox. A shoebox turned telephone. Wrapped in shiny gold paper, complete with conversation hearts as the number buttons. You had to pick up the phone in order to drop off the valentine. Maybe I stole this idea directly from my teacher? Mine was prettier, mostly because it hadn't been made thirty years prior. But her telephone valentine box was more useful to the boy who used it to call his mom, pleading to "PLEASE PICK HIM UP" when the festivities were just too overwhelming. I can't find a picture because it was too unique and no one else is as creative as me.

That very crucial moment when you decided who got to receive the ever-powerful and bigger than the rest best friends valentine. Messages like "You are nice. From, Danie". 

The year I was the queen because I put red food coloring in my milk. I didn't even like milk.

Middle school and junior high were marked with the presence of these:

These are suckers shaped like hearts. That's the minimalist description. They were so much more. For a measly one dollar, you could buy one, and send it to someone ANONYMOUSLY. They had "crazy flavors" like cotton candy and strawberry kiwi and OH MY GOODNESS strawberry lemonade. Come Valentine's Day, they were distributed. If you're thinking Mean Girls "you go Glen Coco" you're absolutely right.

I was only ever sent one. From my homeroom teacher.

I would just like to interject this with the fact that currently, I'm writing a blog post and Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives is playing in another tab. Like I'm listening to if Guy Fieri is music.

This just happened.

There were those Februarys where I traveled to Target to find the super silliest valentines that would be so. funny. to hand out to my friends. Anything with rockets or puppies or animal puns or princesses. Because that would be so. funny. 

Why would you think I would appreciate a valentine with Batman or sports on it? That's rude.

I reminisce about my thirteen year old self spending hours making cupcakes out of felt for my best friends. The time I was a determined college freshman and slaved away in the shitty dorm kitchen in order to make iced heart cookies with faces specific to the recipient? 

This episode of Saved by the Bell because I watched Saved by the Bell literally every morning for about seven years.

The heart sticker to valentine ratio in those kits was off. Did my sticker collection complain? Uh-nope.

Who can forget the excitement felt upon receiving a box of Russell Stover chocolates! Only the highest quality.

Let's just agree that Valentine's Day is one of my favorites. Duh, I know you can "love people every day". But why can't we just all agree on one day to love everyone...and give away cards with Jesse McCartney on them.

And a final note to Sweehearts: you can leave. Ever since you changed your recipe, the yellow hearts taste like dish soap.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

dear oatmeal.

My dear friend, oatmeal.

I've decided it's time for me to come clean about exactly how much I love you. Our relationship is only about four years deep but it feels like we've been in love for one thousand and three years. Growing up you were a mystery to me. I'll admit, it was hard to consider indulging in bowl of you when my adolescent years were characterized with thoughts of trendy frozen french toast sticks and brightly colored fruit flavored corn anomalies. And yes, cereal-eating rabbits and leprechauns are slightly more pleasing to the eye than a Quaker man.

But none of this matters.

What matters is now and now is you, my love. I've learned to trust you because no matter the time we have together, you make it work. Maybe I can't spend as much with you as I'd like and for that, you deliver. A minute in the microwave and you're as glorious as ever. But when I do have time, it's all about that steel cut. I can enjoy you hot and cold? Friends should be flexible and boy, can you do the splits.

And talk about fashion sense. You look good in mostly everything and you accessorize like a god. And so friendly! Hey, peanut butter, do you want to be part of breakfast this morning? Join the party! What's that? Cacao nibs called and was wondering if they could participate? Of course! You get along with everyone so well.

Now, I know what you're thinking. Who's this guy, avocado toast? I'll let you in on a little secret, dearest. I adore you so much I sometimes wait until later in the day the partake. Sometimes comfort from a friend is most needed at night. Hey, remember that time I tried to make you savory with salt and pepper and spinach? It's not right to dwell on the bad times.

Step aside, expensive eggs bennies, overcomplicated hashes and omelets, and why can't we just eat you solely for dessert, pancakes? I'm with my friend, oatmeal over here. Cheap, simple. No, I don't need you to pretend oatmeal is fancy with your torched sugar and crazy compotes. We're having a great time with a few berries and some toasted nuts.

I won't say there will be times when smoothie kicks are present, yogurt bowls knock at my door, and eggs come a callin'. But you. You're my forever friend.

Just to convince the others, I'll show you off with some killer recipes from around the web.

spiced steel cut oats porridge with cranberry-ginger sauce:
a sweet spoonful

food 52

joy the baker

a couple cooks

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

towards authenticity!

I read sometimes.

ENTER Brené Brown's The Gifts of Imperfection. This is serious stuff, you guys. Serious, imperfect, mind opening, brain boggling, life enhancing stuff.

I, like many many others, make a grand great effort to be perfect.

perfectionism: "the belief that if everything is perfect we can minimize shame, blame, and judgment"

Immaberealwitchu. That stuck right to me. It's like, sometimes I just want to use perfectly baked cookies, perfectly knitted hats, obtaining "the best job", having good hair days, being the funniest, as band-aids instead of actually doing the hard, long work that a life of self-love requires. It's that pooper of a voice that tells me, "once you can afford to buy all the clothes from Anthropologie, everyone will think you're incredible".

How do we overcome it? It's hard, yo. But Lady Brené really insists on nurturing authenticity over perfectionism like...erry day.


cultivating the courage to be imperfect and vulnerable

exercising compassion that comes from knowing we are all made of strength and struggle

nurturing the connection and sense of belonging that can only happen when we believe we are enough

authenticity is bravery.

Here's what's real about that. Can I control someone's perception of me? Naw. Can I control it if I have all the clothes from Anthropologie? Nope. So why bother being anyone else but me? We're all bound to feel less shame, disappointment, and blame if we enter situations with the intent of being authentic rather than being "liked". Pretty rad, I know. Pretty hard, I know. It seems a lot of us are afraid that if we really showed our true colors, we wouldn't measure up to other people's expectations. BUT WAIT because how do we even know that?!

Queen B.B. mentions how much harder it is to work on your own self-love. That loving and accepting the imperfections of others is way easier that accepting your own imperfections. The truth of all the truest truths is that there's absolutely no way we can begin to full embrace the imperfections of others unless we begin to love our own. That we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.

How will I kickstart my journey towards authenticity?

I want to compare less, analyze less, give myself daily affirmations about myself, accept and believe meaningful compliments, work hard, learn lots, read instead of looking at other people's pictures, allow myself to not worry about next fall, the summer, tomorrow, tonight.

Want to play alloooooong with me?

To be nobody-but-yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody but yourself means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight- and never stop fighting.
e.e. cummings

Friday, January 3, 2014

almond, cranberry, and oat scones.

This year let's resolve to be simpler. Let's resolve to pet more puppies, embrace the morning, appreciate fresh produce, learn how to relax, light more candles, make more soup, drink less diet pop, take more walks alone, give more non-appearance-centered compliments, be better at accepting non-appearance-centered compliments, and say more thank yous. 

And worry less. Let's all find a way to worry less. 

And make scones? Christmas has brought upon me the arsenal of simplicity and loveliness that is Dorie Greenspan's Baking, From My Home to Yours. And I'm on board ten million percent. I've altered one of her scone recipes and used just a little honey for just a little sweetness and added some cranberries and roasted, chopped almonds because...because.

Almond, Cranberry, and Oat Scones
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan

1 large egg
1/2 cup cold buttermilk
1/4 cup honey
1 1/3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup whole wheat flour (or just 1 2/3 cup all purpose)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper

In a bowl whisk together egg, buttermilk, and honey. In another, large bowl whisk together oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Drop pieces of butter on top of the flour mixture and work in with a pastry blender until the mixture is pebbly. Pour wet ingredients over dry and stir with a fork until dough comes together, being careful not to overwork it. Gently knead the dough by hand. 

Turn dough out onto a floured surface and divide in two. Pat each portion of dough into disks about five inches in diameter, cut into six wedges, and place onto baking sheets. Bake scones for 20 to 22 minutes or until tops are golden. Transfer to a rack and let cool 10 minutes before serving.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

welcome back, me! (mandel bread)

Oh, hello.

Yeah, no, I definitely took a semester-long blog break because now, ladies and gentleladies, I am graaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaduated.

Before cookies happen (oh my goodness, really? cookies? from me?) I'd like to take some time to make a couple shout-outs to the people and things that made my college experience what it was.

  • To the Minnesota Daily, for providing me with a daily crossword puzzle distraction, I thank you. Because of you, my mind is sharper than ever and I now know multiple sites for cheating.
  • To the St Paul Student Center for being the only place on the entire campus with the bougie yogurt I like, I thank you.
  • To whomever decided it would be a good idea to have all tampon dispensers in campus bathrooms be free, I thank you.
  • To the kind people of Bruegger's Bagels, I thank you.
  • To the tester bottles of lotion in the bookstore, my hands thank you.
That's it. 

I kid! THAT'S NOT IT. To the hundreds of people I've had the pleasure of interacting with throughout these past three and a half years, I thank you. You've probably shaped me someway and somehow.

Can we please talk about cookies now?

Upon realizing I graduated college, the only thing that seemed appropriate and worth doing was making mandel bread. Oh, mandel. You little Jewish biscotti, you. More sugar, not as hard, chocolatey, twice baked and dredged in cinnamon sugar. Don't tell biscotti, but I like you more. Let's never stop being friends.

Chocolate Chip Mandel Bread

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips

cinnamon sugar for dredging (I know this is a real word...but why.)

Whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Beat sugar and oil together. Add eggs, one at a time, mix well. Add vanilla. Stir in flour mixture, mix til combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Refrigerate dough for at least two hours, maybe even overnight!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two baking sheets. Form dough into four, three inch wide logs, two on each sheet. Bake logs for 25 minutes. Let cool. 

Reduce heat to 250 degrees. Slice logs into 1/2 inch pieces and dredge sides in cinnamon sugar mixture. (this is the time when you set aside the ends of the logs especially for yourself)
Place cookies back onto cookie sheets, cinnamon sugar sides down. Bake for another 20 minutes.