Tuesday, July 28, 2009

in the kitchen

Today I went to the dentist, got a lot of back-to-school shopping done, and spent some serious time in the kitchen. I re-made various recipes that I've already posted about this summer: sweet potato falafel and Peppy's pita bread, and happy vegan double chocolate cookies.

I also tried a little something new...making croutons from my week-old homemade bread! I used this tutorial as a rough guide (it's not rocket science but I just wanted to see how other people do it). I cut the bread up into cubes, drizzled it with a little olive oil, sprinkled it with garlic salt, and baked for 20 minutes at 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Then voila! Delicious croutons from bread I was about to throw away.

The cookies I will be taking to work tomorrow...it's my last week of work at my internship!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

beagles and birthdays

My dad's birthday is next week. We celebrated early, with a carrot cake.

Friday, July 24, 2009

cookies & plaid

Remember these cookies that I baked a few weeks ago? Happy Vegan Double Chocolate Cookies. I acquired the recipe from VegWeb but modified it, adding the "double" part.

Today I was in the mood for some regular chocolate chip cookies and used the same recipe. I also made a light chocolate glaze for the tops of the cookies...fancy, no? And I made them half the size because I thought they'd be cute as minis!

Happy Vegan Chocolate Chip Cinnamon Cookies
2 c whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c vegan chocolate chips
1/2 c brown sugar
1/3 c vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 c water

Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes (I baked the mini ones for 9 minutes). Makes about two dozen regular-sized cookies or 40 mini cookies.

I made the glaze using just powdered sugar, water, and cocoa powder until it reached the right consistency.

That bowl is one of my latest thrift-store finds. It came as a set of two (the other is a bit larger). The plaid fabric is a remnant from my stash...I have a pillow out of it on my bed!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

tomato ceci bread

Today I found myself getting really ambitious after looking for a recipe for tomato bread and finding nothing that appealed to me. Instead of giving up and making my usual loaf of tried and true wheat (delicious in its own right), I decided to step out on a limb and heavily modify that recipe to suit my tastes. The results are terrific! I changed up the recipe so much (the Betty Crocker wheat bread one) that I felt I had to rename it for this variety...and so I deemed it Tomato Ceci Bread (ceci is Italian for chickpea, and this bread has many Italian flavors in it).

Tomato Ceci Bread
5 oz tomato sauce (I used canned--smooth, no chunks)
4 oz water
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp soy milk (regular milk is fine too)
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp minced garlic
2 c whole wheat flour
1/2 c chick pea flour
1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/4 c brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 yeast packet (or equivalent--I believe that would be 1 1/2 tsp)

Combine tomato sauce and water and warm in the microwave or on the stove to around 90 degrees. Add the tomato mixture along with the rest of the ingredients, in the order listed, to the breadmaker and bake on the whole wheat setting for a 1 1/2 lb loaf (around 4 hours, 20 minutes). Also! You can make your own chickpea flour by grinding dried chickpeas in a food processor, coffee grinder, or Magic Bullet (you could buy it too). This recipe would work without the chickpea flour (substitute the same amount of all-purpose or wheat), but I really love the flavor it added.

And I'm going to be honest, I really hate the taste of butter (or any equivalent to butter) so sometimes I have a slice of warm bread with a smidgen of Vegenaise! What do you put on your bread?

And, aww, check out this pup.

a cracker or two...or twelve

I really cannot resist a good cracker...however, the recent rise in cost of every cracker brand under the sun has been both alarming and extremely disappointing. I need something to go with my hummus and guacamole! So...I decided to make my own! When I found a recipe for cream crackers in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, I knew I had found the perfect thing to try. I was very taken with Papadopoulos cream crackers while living in Greece and have not been able to find a suitable replacement here in the U.S.

The recipe from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian turned out very well and I'll definitely make it again, but the cream cracker resemblance was only so-so, and I'm now on the search for the perfect cream cracker recipe. If you've never had the cream cracker experience, just stay tuned....I will keep you posted on my findings!

In the meantime, make these! They were easy and delicious. If you cook at all, odds are you probably have all these ingredients on hand already...you can really re-do the flour combination however you'd like. I just prefer the whole wheat flour, but added some all-purpose to soften it up a little:

1 c whole wheat flour
1 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 c vegetable oil
1/3 c soy milk (or any milk variety)

Mix up all the dough ingredients. Add more milk if necessary, until the dough is smooth but not too sticky. You can add spices or other add-ins, if you'd like. (I left mine plain.) Roll out very thinly onto a floured cookie sheet and slice into pieces with a pizza cutter or pastry wheel. Sprinkle with salt and poke (I can't think of the proper cooking term) the dough with a fork so the crackers will get crunchier. There is no need to separate the cracker pieces, just leave them as they are after cutting, then bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Enjoy!

Monday, July 20, 2009

professional doodler?

This is the doodled save-the-date map I've been working on for some time now! It's finally finished...and I have already been commissioned for more doodling! How very exciting.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

a few more...

A few more of the engagement pictures I took yesterday!

Yep, the couple are big Harry Potter fans and had tickets for the midnight release, so I said, hey, would you like a picture in front of the theater at the end of the shoot, before you wait in line? So we did it!

tim & meagan

Today I shot some fun engagement photos! I had a great time. The wedding is in September. Here are some of my favorites from today's shoot:

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

mmm scones!

Today I decided to try my hand at a pastry I have always loved but have never ventured to make--the scone. I'd been searching for the perfect scone recipe for quite some time, and just last week discovered this one on VegWeb for oatmeal cinnamon scones. VegWeb is a great recipe resource because readers post vegan recipes, and many of them are whole grain or healthy in other ways too. This scones recipe is whole wheat and vegan, perfect! So this morning, I pulled up the recipe, did a few minor alterations, and set out to make a batch of the perfect scones.

The biggest thing I decided to change about the recipe was the add-ins. The original recipe called for raisins, and raisin scones aren't my favorite, nor did we have any raisins lying around. The substitutes called for in the recipe were for dried fruit, and we didn't have any of that either. So, I decided to use fresh fruit, and told myself that the worst that could happen would be that I'd have to add in a little extra flour to compensate for the water content.

Apple scones are by far my favorite, so I chopped up a gala apple and sauteed it on the stove with a tablespoon of olive oil, a teaspoon of cinnamon, and half the brown sugar called for in the recipe--1/4 cup. The other 1/4 cup I stirred in with the dry ingredients as normal. The recipe states that you can add another 1/2 cup of sugar if you are so inclined, but I would advise against this if you are already a scone lover, as you probably won't appreciate an overly-sweetened version.

After sauteeing the apple, I mixed up the dough. The only other way I changed the recipe was that I chopped the oatmeal in the Magic Bullet so that the scones would be smoother on the inside but still have the oatmeal flavor.....oh! And I added a little vanilla. So after that, I made the dough into a round cake like so, that looks something like a raw hamburger pattie in the photo (but was, in reality, much bigger):

Next, I cut it into eight slices, like a pie. Then, I laid each one out on the cookie sheet and topped with a leftover mixture I had tucked away after making banana bread muffins several weeks ago. The topping included oatmeal, cinnamon, brown sugar, and roasted sunflower seeds.

Then the scones baked for 15 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

And then, ta-da! Delicious!

And since I'm not British, but I am Southern, I enjoyed my scone with a glass of iced tea.


Thursday, July 09, 2009

place collaborative

Beginning and End, taken in a fortezza (fortress!) in Orvieto, Italy, last summer.

This morning I received an acceptance e-mail for an art exhibit I entered last month! It's at Georgia State College and University, in Milledgeville, Georgia, and is called Place Collaborative. I said a few months ago when I made it my summer mission to enter my work into a lot of exhibits and publications that if I made it into one, it would all be worth it.

Place Collaborative, a Georgia College & State University student led initiative, invites entries for an exhibition, August 13 - 27, 2009, examining the relationship between location and its inhabitants. This exhibition seeks to advance dialogue about reconnecting with the environment through visual art that emphasizes humanity's relationship to place. Artists whose works convey the process of reestablishing a sense of place through environmental restoration are strongly encouraged.

All entries will be considered by a panel of student jurors under the advisement of the Museum Curator. Place is in collaboration with environmental artist Mara Scrupe whose residency ignited this project.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

chocolatey, cinnamony goodness

Today was my day off work, so I did a few of my favorite things...thrift store shopping, baking, and Gilmore Girls watching (oh, wait, it's summer, I do that last one every day...). I found a set of three glass canisters (with strawberries on them!) for flour, sugar, and...one more thing...to be decided...tea? brown sugar? ideas?

I also went to the store (I admit it, it was Wal-Mart) in search of seeds to get started on the miniature herb garden I am going to grow...but there were no more seeds! I guess it's too late in the season...but there were still plenty of pots and every other gardening tool you can think of! That's okay. I am not discouraged. There are plenty of other (better) places I can find seeds. I am determined to grow my own herbs (and strawberries!) for cooking. Two years ago, I took a seminar/in the field class called Organic Gardening...and ever since then, I have really wanted my own garden. The problem is that I have no place to grow it.

That brings me to my latest baking venture. Now, I found this vegan chocolate chip cookie recipe and all the reviews said it was the best chocolate chip recipe ever, but I wasn't sure what all the hype was about. After making the cookies, I think I get it. They're delicious! I did vary the recipe somewhat though (of course, right? why can't I just leave any recipe as it is?). You can click the link for theirs, and here's my revised version:

Happy Vegan Double Chocolate Cookies
2 c whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c vegan chocolate chips
1/2 c brown sugar
1/4 c vegetable oil
1/4 c vegan margarine
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 c cocoa powder
1/2 c water

Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-12 minutes. Makes about 2 dozen small cookies. Press cookie dough balls down with a fork--the dough will not expand when baked.

The ingredients I adjusted were...used whole wheat flour instead of unbleached flour, added cocoa powder + a little more water to compensate, used 1/2 as much sugar, and used less oil and added a little vegan margarine (a review I read said this was a good idea).

hot dog!

I found out a few months ago that I got a photograph into the University of Minnesota Duluth's Aisthesis Honors Student Journal. The journal had a call for literature and art from students in any honors college in the U.S. I got my copy in the mail today! How exciting. I haven't had a chance to read anything in it yet, but I love journals so I can't wait to spend some time with it tomorrow.

Today I reached the 200-hour mark at my internship! I've also been apartment-planning, freelance-job-coordinating, and professionally doodling (doodling for money? yes, please). So, as you can see, I'm keeping very busy.

Monday, July 06, 2009

hello, weddings

1. This drawing is from a save-the-date I was hired to design! I'm nearly finished with it, so I'll post a bigger peek when it's completed.

2. I was also asked if I could design some bracelets as bridesmaids gifts for a September wedding! Yes, I'd love to! I will be playing around with some polymer clay samples shortly.

3. And I had no sooner told her that yes, I'd love to do the bracelets, when she saw my photos from Matt and Sarah's wedding and asked if I could do the photography as well...and the engagement photos! It's such a thrill, really. I can't wait! We'll be doing the engagements at the end of this week or beginning of next week, I believe.

4. Needless to say, getting freelance jobs is always very exciting! I hope these lead to even more. I'd like to post a special thank you to everyone who has given me these jobs recently, as well as everyone who's been so supportive of my work. It's really a great feeling for everything to come together like this.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

whales, berries, and coffee cans

1. Last week was my lucky week for mail! Corey bought me this adorably cute gocco print from Argyle Whale. It's perfect! I love it, and it was incredibly thoughtful of him. I'm keeping it safe until I move and decide what color frames to get for a handful of prints I have acquired over the past year or so. Is that a good way to break into being an adult...buying picture frames instead of just using thumbtacks? Somehow, I think it's a necessary step.

2. My parents and brother picked wild blackberries and my mom turned them into a cobbler. It was really delicious. I can't take any credit for it but wanted to photograph it for her and thought I'd share. I can ask her for the recipe if anyone would like it.

3. This is my new coffee canister! I really wanted a whole set of canisters like this...you know, the kind that graduate in size and you display them all on your countertop and fill them with essentials like flour, sugar, coffee, tea, etc. Well, yes, I really did want the whole set, and the whole set they did have for sale...but the second one was missing its lid, tragically. So, I got this one just for coffee but I'm still on the lookout for a whole display. (In the picture above, I would also like you to note one of my most prized possessions...my clear telephone...which I received as a gift for my 7th birthday, and yes, it still works.)

4. I decided to bake another loaf of bread today in the new breadmaker...it's nearly finished and the whole house smells deliciously of fresh bread. I should have timed it better and had it finish earlier before everyone was heading to bed!

happy fourth

1. I hope everyone had a lovely Independence Day. The weather here was overcast and not too hot, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Corey and I got sno cones and a watermelon!

2. Today is my 5th year anniversary of being a vegetarian! It's been an awesome five years and I look forward to many more.