Monday, January 16, 2012

this blog is a-changin'

In recent months I've been thinking about changing the focus of my blog.  Admittedly, there isn't currently much of a focus outside the goings on "in my vegan  life", but that's the way I planned it.  I wanted to keep an online scrapbook.  However, I'm ready for a change and I would love your feedback!  I've thought of a couple of themes that I'm excited to blog about and wondered which theme appeals to more readers.

Theme 1: My quest to find the BEST vegan Pad Thai and vegan chai in Portland.
Two of my favorite things.  This is pretty self-explanatory.  I've been on this quest since I've moved here, and thought since I'm searching anyway, I might as well document my experiences to help others!  I would provide reviews and photos of the area's offerings and probably post some recipes too.
Oh man.  This is the best Pad Thai: From Vientiane in West Philly.

Theme 2: My experience as a veganic gardener in the Pacific Northwest.
I love gardening.  And have started documenting my journey from turning a weed-infested outdoor space into the lush permaculture paradise I hope it will be one day.  This is a pretty expansive theme and would cover everything from before/after photos of our patio project to instructional planting posts to product reviews to recipes made from homegrown ingredients and more.  Like the doggle photos?  Well, there'd be more of them in this approach!
Little tomato seedlings from last year.

Whichever theme I go with, I will likely have "random post" days, where I'd post a recipe or a chair makeover or photos from a trip to the coast.  Also, during the Vegan Month of Food, you can expect a departure from the regular theme and instead find recipes galore.

So, what do you think??

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Easy Sugar Cookies with Barely Pink Icing

It must have been a dozen years ago that my friend, Alison, surprised me at my Bubbie's house for Thanksgiving. Along with her came a big bag of scrumptious sugar cookies that she and her mom baked and decorated with a smooth sheen of icing.  This sugar cookie recipe remains my favorite, with minor adjustments, of course.

The beauty of sugar cookies is, granted you don't go overboard with the icing, they're not too sweet. The slightly crunchy, slightly crumbly texture of the cookie paired with the sweet almond-flavored icing makes for a scrumptious treat.  These 3 dozen cookies were gone in a matter of a few days and I wish I could say there were more than two people eating them!

I left the rolling pin and cookies cutters in the drawer, in favor of the easy "log method."  And although I'm providing the full recipe for the icing below, I only made a half batch for my full batch of cookies.

Ethel's Sugar Cookies, veganized!
3/4 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 tsp Ener-G Egg Replacer, combined with 4 tbsp water
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder

1. Beat oil, sugar, vanilla, and "eggs".  Stir in the flour and baking powder, using hands if necessary. 
2. Form the dough into a long log, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
3. Preheat the oven to 375*F.
4. Make sure that the circumference of the log is the circumference you'd like the cookies to be.  Unwrap the dough log and with a sharp, floured knife, make slices about every 1/4" or so.  You'll get about 3 dozen small cookies.  Place them on an ungreased cookie sheet.  They don't spread much, so you can probably pack them all in on one sheet.
5. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes. If you're going for larger cookies, adjust the baking time accordingly. Decorate with icing when cooled.

Decorator's Icing
2 cups powdered sugar
2-4 tbsp almond milk (or soy, or whatever, even water would be fine)
1/2 tsp vanilla or almond extract

1. Combine all ingredients and mix until smooth and spreadable.

*To get the "barely pink" icing, I defrosted a few frozen cranberries and squeezed out the juice!  You'll see I got a little cranberry pieces in the mix too.