BitterSweet

An Obsession with All Things Handmade and Home-Cooked


151 Comments

Batting a Thousand

For a soft-spoken gal with a powerful fear of public speaking, one thousand posts is a stunning, if not downright shocking, milestone. Who knew I had so much to say in the first place? Strung together in bits and pieces, wedged between questionable punctuation, and tucked around photos and recipes, it’s taken an unbelievable number of words to glue this little blog together. Ironically, I’m having trouble verbalizing what all of those words mean to me, and the fact that anyone would take the time to read them all.

Can you feel the love?

That’s why, on this 1000th post, I want you to do the talking. Tell me about anything you’d like, be it about blogs in general, things you’ve enjoyed on this blog (Have you made my recipes? Tried my craft patterns? Call me a narcissist, but I love hearing about that!) or just what’s on your mind at the moment. Free choice! In exchange, I want to share with you my biggest giveaway yet…

The email marketing provider Little Green Plane has given me 6 x $25 Amazon.com vouchers to give away. For those playing along at home, that’s a total of $150 up for grabs! Though you’re free to choose anything your heart desires, I might suggest that it’s the perfect amount to snag one of my current cookbooks, or pre-order the latest to complete your collection (I can dream, right?)

To reward all you faithful regulars, this will be a speed-round contest. It will run only through the weekend, until Midnight EST on Sunday, April 22nd, with the six (!) winners announced shortly thereafter. Just make sure you enter a valid email address so that I can get in touch, and do me the favor of only entering once per person. It makes it so much easier to determine the winners via the all-knowing random number generator.


90 Comments

Six Years, and Counting

Happy Birthday, BitterSweet! You are officially six years old today.

It was a mundane decision to start a blog, another tiny voice in the sea of millions, that even I had no expectations for. Initially, I didn’t tell friends or family; I didn’t have any online acquaintances; It was just a public journal, filled with craft junk and crappy snapshots.

Nearly 1,000 posts later, it’s hard to put to words the indelible impact it’s made on my life. I don’t even want to imagine what would have become of me if I hadn’t typed out that first meek post and hit “publish!”  With every new comment that comes in, I’m grateful that someone, anyone, took the time to read my lackluster early entries, and stick around for the ride. You guys gave me the courage to keep going, to keep creating, and now I’d never dream of turning back.

So this is all to say….

THANK YOU for reading, lurking, commenting, questioning, and otherwise being there, no matter what stage of the journey you joined in!

I mean it, and I truly do wish I could give out gifts to everyone, but considering shipping costs and logistics, that sort of extravaganza will have to wait until I have the same notoriety as Oprah. Considering how far this blog as come, it could just happen! For now though, I’d like to giveaway another set of my favorite crocheted pot holders to one lucky person.

I’ve made this pattern so many times now, I can almost whip through a set without looking at the color chart. Crafted in a springy combination of blue ombre and light yellow, this particular pair are a cheerful but subtly subversive addition to any kitchen. Made of cotton yarn, they’re functional, durable, and best of all, machine washable.

The winner will be chosen at random, so it doesn’t matter if you remember the awkward beginnings or just clicked over today- Everyone’s eligible! To enter, leave a comment with your name and email in the appropriate slots, and tell me about an awesome blog that’s new to you. It doesn’t have to be newly created, but something that’s recently caught your eye and you can’t get enough of. In honor of the birthday, this giveaway is open only today, so make sure you chime in before midnight, EST.

Spread the blog love; leave a comment today!

UPDATE: Ultimately, I couldn’t possibly turn anyone away, so I allowed a “grace” period of an extra day or two to enter. I owe you one, after all! And so, as chosen by everyone’s favorite random number generator, the winner is…

Commenter #44, Maureen! Congrats!

In case this wasn’t your lucky day, never fear- There will be many more giveaways, and even more pot holders to share in the years to come.


14 Comments

Nog, Nog Everywhere…

…But far too much to drink! Delightful as it is to open up the fridge and see a fully stocked shelf of nothing but vegan nog, it’s simply too much for one person to polish off alone, obsessed with the seasonal beverage or not. After a couple of egg-nog-creams (Inspired by the traditional egg cream: Equal parts nog and seltzer water, plus a splash of vanilla) and then numerous ginger-nog milkshakes (Plop 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream into a blender, pour in nog to cover, add ground ginger to taste and blend. Add an extra flourish of whipped coconut creme and finely chopped crystallized ginger on top if desired), I’ve hardly begun to make a dent in that stockpile. Time to get serious and turn on the oven.

Lightly sweetened breakfast biscuits with an extra measure of holiday cheer, scones are not only an excellent way of using up some extra nog, but are also ideal for harried bakers who must soon accommodate hungry family members for Christmas breakfasts and brunches. A fine sprinkling of turbinado sugar seals the deal, providing that lightly crunchy but readily yielding crunch, adding addictive textural contrast to the whole affair. Feel free to swap out the walnuts for any other nut or even chocolate chips if that strikes your fancy, but whatever you, don’t even dream of skipping that sweet final touch.

Managing so much of this limited edition treat at once, it was inevitable that I would start serving up nog for breakfast. Happily, these scones are considerably more elegant and dignified than the alternative- A generous splash of nog over cold cereal!

Holiday Nog Scones

1 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1 Cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
3/4 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
5 Tablespoons Non-Dairy Margarine, Chilled
3/4 Cup Toasted and Chopped Walnuts
2/3 Cup + 2 – 3 Tablespoons Vegan Nog
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

4 Teaspoons Turbinado Sugar

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with either parchment paper or a silpat.

Mix both flours, sugar, baking powder and soda, salt, and spices together in a large bowl until thoroughly blended. Cut the margarine into tablespoon-sized pieces before dropping them into the dry goods. Using a pastry cutter or two forks, cut in the margarine until you have coarse crumbs with chunks of margarine no larger than the size of a lentil. Toss in the walnuts, and pour in 2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the nog along with the vanilla. Switch over to a spatula to mix the dough, drizzling in additional nog as needed if the batter is on the dry side. You should end up a slightly sticky dough but cooperative dough.

Measure out around 1/3 – 1/2 cup of batter for each scone, and use lightly moistened hands to shape them into even rounds. You should end up with 8 equal scones. Sprinkle each with 1/2 teaspoon of turbinado sugar.

Bake for 14 – 16 minutes, until golden brown all over. Serve warm or cool on a wire rack for later. Place in an air-tight container or wrap tightly in plastic and store in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Makes 8 Scones

Printable Recipe


49 Comments

Start Spreading the News

Ordinarily a stellar candidate for keeping a secret, I’ve been a regular blabbermouth when it comes to my own.  After practically shouting it from the roof tops around town, spilling the details to anyone who sees me and stops to say “Hi,” it’s about time the rest of the world (or at least, the internet) knows…

I’m writing a third cookbook, about vegan ice cream! Tentatively titled “Vegan À La Mode,” you can expect plenty of wild and crazy flavors, alongside decadent classics reinvented. I’m only about 40 recipes in thus far, and there’s so much more left to churn up… You just wait, because this one is gonna be sweet!


23 Comments

All-Purpose Eats

Patience is not one of my strengths, as any members of my family could attest, and this painfully slow, barely visible advancement of spring is driving me mad. Bolting up and out of bed upon spying little green buds through my bedroom window, I race downstairs to assess the weather… Only to discover yet another clammy, grey morning laying in wait. Feeling thoroughly ambushed by this disappointment, it’s difficult to know how best to displace that negative emotion. Typically taking to the kitchen and channeling frustrations and joys alike into something edible, the lack of seasonal produce has made even that a daunting task at times. So, let’s talk about season-less food, because it’s not all frozen or found in an aluminum can.

One could argue that potatoes are best harvested in the cooler months, but unlike so much other produce, these tubers keep so well and for so long, that they’ve effectively lost their seasonality through modernization. Unless you’re growing your own spuds (and more power to you, in that case) anyone and everyone should have easy access to dozens of varieties, all year round. Having them at the average cook’s disposal for 365 days of the year has led them to morph and mutate into dishes appropriate for any occasion, hot and cold, rich and light- You name it, there’s a potato for that.

And so I land at the recipe, with what some might find a boring, nothing-special baked potato. However, I have yet to meet a single soul who could claim to dislike such a dish, so that sounds pretty darned special to me. The real take-away from this piece though are the tofu croutons. If nothing else, ‘taters or not, you’ve got to give those crispy, savory, and somewhat salty little toppers a go. Plus, if you happen to be lucky enough to enjoy a more cooperative spring, you could just as well pile them on top of fresh, seasonal salads. As for me… I’ll just keep enjoying those potatoes a bit longer.

Loaded Baked Potatoes with Tofu Croutons

Crispy Tofu Croutons:

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
1 Tablespoon Rice Vinegar
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
Pinch Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 14-Ounce Package Extra-Firm Tofu, Drained and Pressed for 30 Minutes

Baked Potatoes:

4 Medium Baking Potatoes, Such as Russet

1/4 Cup Olive Oil
1 – 3 Tablespoons Unsweetened Soy Milk
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
Pinch Sweet Paprika
2 Scallions or a Handful of Fresh Chives, Thinly Sliced
1 Cup Roughly Chopped Steamed Broccoli
1/2 Cup Roughly Chopped Roasted Peppers
Vegan Cheddar “Cheese” (Optional)
Avocado, Diced (Optional)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

In a resealable plastic container, combine the oil, soy sauce, vinegar, salt, and pepper, and stir well.

Cut your tofu into very small cubes, about 1 cm each, keeping them as uniform as possible to ensure even baking. Place them in the container with the marinade, seal the container, and shake gently to coat the cubes in the mixture. Let rest until the oven comes up to temperature.

Transfer the tofu cubes and excess marinade to your prepared baking sheet, and spread them out into one even layer. Bake for 60 – 75 minutes, stirring every 20 minutes or so, until evenly browned.

Meanwhile, prepare your potatoes by washing them and cutting a slit into the top of each, to vent the steam. Place them in the oven alongside your tofu, and check for doneness at about 60 minutes. The skins will be slightly crispy, and they should be fork tender on the inside.

Let the potatoes cool for at least 10 minutes, and then scoop out the insides, leaving a thin layer of potato around the skins so they don’t collapse. Place them in a medium bowl, along with the olive oil, 1 tablespoon of soy milk, the salt, and paprika. Use a potato masher or fork to break up the potato and incorporate the other ingredient. Don’t overdo it, a little bit of chunkiness is perfect! If necessary, add more soymilk until it reaches your desired texture, and then add in the scallions, broccoli, and roasted peppers. Mix well to combine. Spoon the mashed potatoes back into the skins, and top with the tofu croutons. Finish off with a sprinkle of vegan “cheese” and/or diced avocado, if desired.

Serves 4

Printable Recipe

Recipe originally written for Nasoya tofu


30 Comments

Busy, Busy Bee

We’re in the home stretch now, with only one week of finals and schoolwork ahead, it’s just a matter of holding my breath a little bit longer before I reach the surface.  My brain is rather fried, to say the least, so I still have no great words of knowledge to share, despite the overwhelming backlog of recipes I’ve begun to accumulate.  All in due time, right?  The summer is still far from over.

In other news, My Sweet Vegan is now available for download online, for either Kindle or iPad! I have neither, but it sounds like a pretty darn spiffy proposition. Now you can get all of the recipes for a greatly reduced price, and carry them with you to where ever you may bake!

The VegNews 2010 Veggie Awards are live, and remarkably, I have been nominated in three whole categories- Favorite Cookbook Author, Favorite Blog, and Favorite Column (My Sweet Vegan.) While I’m not deluding myself into thinking I have a chance of winning against such esteemed talents, I would still be very grateful if you wanted to cast just one vote for me, at least for this humble little blog.

Have you heard of the cookbook project, ThinkFood, that bloggers from all over have collaborated to create? Well, I was one of them! If you can’t wait for the hard copies to be available, sou can find my recipe for Superfood Fudge Pops, along with many other smart sweets and savories, on the website.

Finally, after all of this frenetic activity, I’m looking forward to a real bona fide vacation starting on the 15th; a family road trip around Europe. Posting will continue to be sporadic, but I promise to take and share as many photos along the way as possible, don’t tune out! We’ll be stopping in Weisbaden, Munich, Cochem, and Cologne in Germany, in addition to Prague, Vienna, Bratislava, and Amsterdam. Any suggestions on what to do, see, and eat?

Hope everyone else is staying happily busy as well! Sit tight for the next recipe, coming very soon!

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