So, I’m a little late on the Happy New Year post, but regardless – here is how I spent my New Year’s Day!
The obligatory black eyed peas, in soup form.
I read an article saying that round foods are also lucky, so I made a round loaf of spelt cornbread…then I cut it into wedges, which may have negated its round power.
Also, a salad to be extra healthy.
I’m not much for resolutions, but I do believe in goals and action. One of my goals for my time off during the winter break was to clean out and organize my pantries. I didn’t take any before pictures because it looked like your basic hodge podge of pantry items. I pretty much knew what I had and generally where it was, but I would have to spend a few minutes searching for things sometimes and I had a lot of bulk items still in the plastic bags, and it just wasn’t cutting it.
Top of the pantry, after, from top to bottom and left to right: cookie cutters, hand mixer, rice cooker, extra plastic bags; excess bulk items, cans and jars, pasta: flours, sugars and other baking items in jars in alphabetical order; snacks and sweets, dried fruit, breakfast items.
Bottom of the pantry: first shelf is Dave’s stuff (don’t look!). Dave complains because he doesn’t have more space, but really, this is the volume extent of what he keeps in the house. Grains then beans, all in alpha order, and a few random items; dried mushrooms and chiles, tea, and space to grow; food processor, seaweeds, bread machine, and extra flours and other things I couldn’t categorize with anything else. Hooray for an organized pantry, I know exactly where everything is and how much I have!
Lastly, on my last day visiting my family in Florida I made a birthday cake for my future sister-in-law, Kiersten. I asked what her favorite flavor cake is and she said coconut, but both my brother and I don’t like coconut, so we went with her second favorite – chocolate and cherries.
Blowing out the candles.
Here’s a thrown together recipe.
Erin’s Chocolate-Cherry-Almond Cake
Chocolate Cake (Tara’s Chocolate Cake from La Dolce Vegan)
3 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup oil
2 tbs apple cider vinegar
2 tsp vanilla extract (or 1 1/2 tsp vanilla and 1/2 tsp almond extract)
2 cups cold water
Preheat oven to 350F. Oil and flour two 8-inch cake pans and set aside. (This cake tends to stick if you don’t oil and flour the pans well.) In a large bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda and salt. In a medium bowl stir together the oil, vinegar, vanilla (and almond extract if using) and cold water. Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir until just mixed. Pour evenly into the prepared pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for 15 minutes before removing from pan. Cool completely before frosting. Makes 2 cakes.
1 bag frozen cherries, defrosted
pinch of sugar
a few grinds of fresh black pepper
splash of balsamic vinegar
Place all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until thickened to a jam consistency, stirring occasionally.
Glossy Chocolate Frosting (adapted from and old version of the Betty Crocker Cookbook)
3 Tbs vegetable shortening or Earth Balance
3 oz unsweetened chocolate
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup nondairy milk
1 tsp vanilla extract (or 3/4 tsp vanilla and 1/4 tsp almond extract)
Heat shortening or Earth Balance in a saucepan over low heat until melted. Stir in remaining ingredients; beat until smooth. Place pan of frosting in a bowl of ice water; continue beating until frosting is smooth and of spreading consistency. Don’t make the frosting until the cake is cool enough to be frosted, as the frosting will thicken while it sits.
To assemble cake:
Place one cake layer on a cake plate upside down, so the flat side is up. Spread the cherry filling on top. Place the other cake on top, right side up. Frost the top and sides. Press toasted slivered almonds around the side of the cake and use to decorate the top. Enjoy!