Category Archives: food

Staying Fueled With Stonyfield Organic Whole Milk Smoothies

I’ll admit it: We eat between meals. I’m more in the six-small-meals-a-day camp, so I tend to graze. And the kids get hungry between lunch and dinner, after at least an hour of playground time after school. Who can blame them?

And they need to stay fueled for everything else, such as fort building,

ice skating,

homework, and more.

We don’t eat junk food, though. Our snacks tend to be veggies and hummus, cheese and crackers, fruit, nuts, or the occasional granola bar. A bowl of plain whole milk yogurt with a drizzle of maple syrup is something they sometimes enjoy, too.

My younger son sometimes begs me to buy him the brightly colored yogurt drinks at the store, but I rarely do. Then Stonyfield send me some of their new Organic Whole Milk Smoothies.

Hello there!

I’ve long eschewed the low-fat trend (I also refuse to make any recipe with “skinny” in the name). The texture of low-fat foods was never quite right. Let’s face it, fat tastes good! It improves mouthfeel, whether you’re talking about yogurt, cheese, a muffin — you name it.

Also, I never quite believed (as an adult) that lowering our fat intake was necessarily helpful. We never did switch the kids to skim milk (yuck). Turns out my instinct was right — fat isn’t horrible for you and doesn’t lead, on its own, to obesity. Plus, fat keeps you full longer.

Anyway. These whole milk smoothies are now available in Strawberry and Peach. They’re good! My kids like both but have a slight preference for strawberry. They come in four-packs, with each bottle containing six ounces. Each bottle has 7 grams of fat and 6 grams of protein. With 16 grams of sugar, they have more added sugar than I’d like, but sometimes that’s OK. They’re gluten-free, organic, and non-GMO.

I make smoothies for the kid almost every morning (Stonyfield plain whole milk yogurt, fruit, juice, protein powder). These organic whole milk smoothies are a quick alternative for days when we’re rushed, or good for an after-school snack (or a midmorning snack for me). I might also try adding one to a smoothie I’m making to sweeten it up a little.

Thanks for going full fat, Stonyfield!

Fall Baking With Bob’s Red Mill and Stonyfield

Finally, fall is here! I don’t know about you, but the change in the weather makes me want to bake up a storm. I’ve cranked out cranberry coffee cake and monster cookies so far, but the baking season is just getting under way!

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In partnership with Stonyfield, Bob’s Red Mill sent me Organic Coconut Sugar and Steel Cut Oats. Steel cut oats are also known as “pin oats.” They make an excellent, slightly chewy bowl of oatmeal, and you can make them in the slow cooker overnight to have them ready in the morning. Or just make them in the morning (they do take a little more time than rolled oats), topped with nuts and fruit and yogurt.

Or, you can do what I do and use them in cookies! Here’s a handy round-up of cookie recipes that use steel cut oats — without having to cook the oats first!

  1. Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies. I list these first for a reason. These wonderfully crunchy-chewy cookies are darkly chocolatey. You do have to roll them into little balls (which, if you’re like me and prefer an effortless cookie, might seem like an extra step) but this recipe is a must-try. They’re really good.
  2. Super Simple Sweet Steel Cut Oat Cookies. With bananas, almonds, and (optional) flax seed, these cookies would pass nicely as a nutritious breakfast cookie.
  3. Fatherly Cookies. These oatmeal raisin cookies have all the same ingredients as regular oatmeal raisin cookies, but they use steel-cut oats instead of rolled oats. Sounds like a crunchy oaty treat!
  4. Steel Cut Oatmeal Walnut Cookies. These use both rolled and steel cut oats. And while this recipe, like the last one, calls for raisins, remember that it is always appropriate to substitute chocolate chips for raisins, in any situation.

Bob’s Steel Cut Oats are also available in a gluten-free version, which is nice, because everyone should be able to enjoy the cookies listed above.

As for the coconut sugar, I’d never tried it before. It’s brown, with a slightly caramel scent. It’s made from the nectar of coconut palm blossoms. I was baking a big cranberry coffee cake for an annual weekend camping party in Vermont (imagine a field full of tents, children running wild on the hillside cutting down trees and building forts and piling up leaves and adding fuel to the bonfire, only returning to the barn when they got hungry), the musicians and singalong at night, long and spirited games of Capture the Flag, s’mores, coffee and oatmeal and toasting bagels over the bonfire in the cold morning air (well, near the bonfire, so not too cold)….

…anyway, the coffee cake. I doubled the Cranberry Almond Cake recipe from Budget Bytes but left out the almonds and almond extract and used an oatmeal crumble topping (with rolled oats, in case you’re wondering). I used coconut sugar both in the cake and in the topping.

The coconut sugar definitely made the cake darker and added a slight (and pleasing) caramel note to it.

Dark, right? But tasty.

Dark, right? But tasty. I’d use more cranberries next time. This was obviously before the entire 80-or-so people found their way to the breakfast table.

It’s National Breakfast Month! With Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs

img_9421.jpgSeptember is National Breakfast Month! To help me celebrate, the nice people at Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs sent me coupons for a few dozen eggs, plus some handy egg rings to make, well, round eggs. Circular.

I grew up on a little farm, and I was in charge of feeding the chickens and gathering the eggs. We sold some at our little farm stand. I grew up on very fresh (and tasty) eggs from a reasonably happy little flock of Rhode Island Reds, who had a roomy coop and a nice outdoor space.

While I can’t have my own chickens right now, because of where I live, I still want good fresh eggs…and eggs from chickens that have room to move around, not factory-farmed chickens. So if I can get local fresh eggs, great, but living in the city, that’s not always possible.img_9424.jpg

Egg labels can seem confusing, can’t they? “Organic,” “Natural,” “Cage-Free”…what do they all mean? “Organic” generally means no pesticides were used to grow the feed. “Natural,” well, that varies. “Cage-Free” means the chickens aren’t kept in cages…but it doesn’t always mean they have enough room to move around, and some have said that “cage-free” can be cruel to chickens.

Make 'em round!

Make ’em round!

“Certified Humane,” however, is the label to look for if you want chickens who have a happy life. “Certified Humane” means that the chickens (or whatever animals) have been certified by a nonprofit organization called Human Farm Animal Care, whose mission is to ensure kinder and more responsible farm animal raising practices. For Pete and Gerry’s, “Certified Humane” means that their chickens have gentle handling, low stress, plenty of room and fresh air and water, and freedom to dust bathe, roost, and stratch…plus good, quality, hormone- and antibiotic-free feed.

Here’s more information:

Sounds good to me! I like eggs. They’re one of my main forms of protein, in fact: eggs with pasta, egg soft tacos, eggs on quinoa with kale, egg sandwiches, scrambled eggs…

 

 

Scrambled, anyone?

Scrambled, anyone?

Oh, yeah, on a corn tortilla with cilantro and hot sauce...great post-run breakfast!

Oh, yeah, on a corn tortilla with cilantro and hot sauce…and some quinoa, roasted eggplant, and peas…great post-run breakfast!

Or on corn tortillas with sauteed arugula and cherry tomatoes, topped with avocado and, yes, hot sauce! Another great post-run breakfast!

Or on corn tortillas with sauteed arugula and cherry tomatoes, topped with avocado and, yes, hot sauce! Another great post-run breakfast!

Know your eggs. Know what you’re buying. Support small family farms (the kind of farms that supply Pete and Gerry’s). Support happy chickens.

September may be National Breakfast Month, but you should eat good breakfasts every day!

Disclosure: Pete and Gerry’s provided me with product coupons, egg rings, and compensation to facilitate this post. 

How to Scare Your Child Away From Running: Vegan Black Bean Nut Brownies

I whirred the blender after the boys’ bedtime.

“Mom!” called Max. “What are you doing?”

“Sorry about the noise,” I said. “I’m making vegan black bean nut brownies.”

Even in the darkness I could see the horror on his face. “Who would eat that??”

“I’m bringing them to a race on Saturday,” I said. I have a trail race Saturday. Despite my grand training plans, I barely ran in August: according to my Garmin, I got in 4 slow miles per week (PER WEEK), withhttp://training plans no running at all in the last two weeks. I mean, come on, I’ve had a lot going on. But I have a trail half marathon Saturday followed by a trail 5-miler Sunday. I will slog through. Wonder how I get overuse injuries?

“But who would EAT that?” he repeated, his face still curled in horror.

“Oh, the runners,” I answered.

“But WHY? Why would anyone EAT those? Why would RUNNERS eat those?”

Let’s hope the runners eat them. Two months ago, I was making a recipe that I ended up not having a key ingredient for. I’d already ground walnuts, cashews, and pecans in the food processor with soaked dates. So I froze that mixture.

Now, both in hopes of having a nice treat to bring to Saturday’s race and to make room in my tiny freezer (I sold my chest freezer before the move, and my new fridge/freezer is SMALL), I pulled out the mixture, thawed it, and decided to make energy bites.

But after adding coconut and cocoa and cinnamon, I didn’t feel like rolling a million little balls. So I added a can of black beans, ground flax seed, water, oil, vanilla, and maple syrup, threw it into the blender (at least the beans/flax/water part) and now I have a pan of weird vegan brownies in the oven. I hope they’re edible!

 

 

 

Gather Chocolates: Eat Chocolate, Help the Bees (and a Giveaway!!)

SUPER update (12/1/16): I have a discount code for you!

Looking for a great gift idea? Salem, Mass.-based @HarborSweets suggests: artisan chocolate that saves the bees!
Solo or bundled in a gift set, visit harborsweets.com and use code GATHER4FUN through 12/14 to save 10% off your shipping.
Pro tip: check out the Gather Tea Set – a great gift idea for the tea lover and gardener on your list, or for an anytime gift.

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I like good dark chocolate. I like bees. I like good causes. I like pretty boxes and nice packaging. I am a fan of pollination and small businesses and local companies and good food.

I’m sure you’ve heard about the honeybee declines in recent years. The USDA reported that pesticides and parasites caused a 44% loss of honeybee colonization in just one year. The White House has a Pollinator Health Task Force to study and address the problem.

Harbor Sweets, an artisanal chocolate maker in Salem, MA (and long recognized as one of the top women-owned businesses in Massachusetts), has a new line of chocolates called Gather. And yes, I was lucky enough to be asked to review a box.

6 CHOCOLATES ON PLATE (1)

Gather is a new  small-batch line of chocolates Harbor Sweets. Contained in a honey-yellow honeycomb-shaped box is a flight of six filled chocolates and truffles, each coated in excellent dark chocolate. Inside each chocolate is a filling with a subtle note of local honey. The flavors include:

  • Caramelized Honey Truffle
  • Pomegranate Molasses
  • Sesame Crunch
  • Cashew Caramel
  • Coconut Cluster
  • Sour Cherry

img_9383.jpgGather shot (2)Inside the lid is a little map to indicate which is which (unless your brother eagerly opens the box and everything gets mixed up and you’re not sure which is which, but it doesn’t matter — they are all good! And, ok, maybe I was yelling, “No, wait, I’m a blogger!! That’s not how we open things to review them! Put the lid back on and let’s start over!”).

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And then, like crazy people — or because I insisted we each try every single flavor — we cut each beautiful chocolate into four pieces, to share. Please, don’t be like us. Eat a whole piece, and buy your family and friends their own boxes. Or buy a few boxes and go halfsies.

And, they’re pretty. The Sour Cherry has a flower on it. Caramelized Honey Truffle has a bee. There’s a beehive on Pomegranate Molasses.

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Gather was inspired by the plight of the honeybees. A portion of sales (2.5%) will be donated to the Pollinator Partnership, a 5013c NGO that educates about and advocates for best practices for honeybee protection.

Here’s a nice little video on the backstory (plus, you can see how chocolates are made!):

So: Good cause, good chocolate, good company. You can order Gather from Harbor Sweets ($12.50 for a six-piece box, $18.50 for a 12-piece box) or use their store locator to find out what retailers sell the chocolate. Plus, they ship coast to coast. These chocolates make an excellent hostess or thank-you gift.

THE GIVEAWAY BELOW HAS ENDED. 

But wait! One lucky person will win a six-piece box of Gather Chocolates from me! I have to ship it to you, so the winner needs to be within the contiguous 48 United States.

To win, leave a comment telling me what’s most appealing about these to you: the cause, the chocolates themselves, or the company itself. (Please make sure your comment is connected to or contains your email address so I can email you if you win! — and if you follow me on Facebook, I will give a little shout-out there to the winner, in case you don’t get the email).

You can leave an extra comment (another chance to win!) telling me if you’re going to eat these yourself, share them with a friend/loved one, or give them as a gift.

A winner will be randomly drawn Wednesday, September 21, 2016, at 8 p.m. EST and notified by email (see above, re: Facebook). Winner will have 24 hours to respond or else I’ll pick another winner.

UPDATE: We have a winner! Congratulations, Michelle G.! Thanks, everyone, for entering. Go try these chocolates!

A #SummerCravings prAna Giveaway and Stonyfield Recipe

Screen Shot 2016-06-08 at 9.39.30 AMIt’s technically not quite summer, but it feels like it, and I’ve been craving the lighter clothes and lighter foods of summer. We’ve already been swimming (in a pond, on the Cape) and eagerly await the true marks of summer, when my farm share starts up and the local pools open and school’s out (Massachusetts schools get out in late June).

Summer Clothes

I’ve been spending a lot of time in my new prAna Quinn dress, which is comfortable, pretty, and sustainably made. It’s nice enough that when I recently wore it with a cardigan to a parents’ event at school, someone asked me if I was heading to work afterward! The dress is equally at home on the beach or around town.

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Serious face due to trickiness of selfie attempts, with the neighbor’s cat trying to “help” by rubbing against the table/chairs on which my phone were propped.

The Quinn dress is made of a stretchy, quick-drying fabric and has a shelf bra (yay! — I hate putting on an actual bra in summer!). Like a lot of prAna clothing, it’s made partly from recycled polyester, and it is made using bluesign® systems, an environmentally friendly and sustainable production system.

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Ready for summer in my #prAna dress!

Summer Food

I’ve long had a bookmark to this great chopped spring salad recipe and finally got around to making it last week. It calls for chopped spring vegetables (such as radishes, scallions, and greek-whole-milk-plain-30ozcucumber) drizzled with a yogurt-based dressing and sprinkled with herbs.

I had only parsley (which I forgot to use) and just used what veggies I had on hand: sweet peppers, cucumber, sugar snap peas, tomatoes, carrots. I only really cared about the dressing, frankly, but modified it (of course!).

I put the chopped salad on top of a huge bed of greens, then put shredded poached chicken on top of that, then drizzled on plenty of the dressing. A quick grind of lemon pepper, and I had a great dinner!

Zippy Summer Dressing/Dip Recipe (adapted from Bon Appetit)

  • 1/2 cup plain Stonyfield Whole Milk Greek yogurt
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1.5 T lemon juice
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, grated or minced (I think more is better, but it’s up to you)
  • 1/2 tsp Sriracha
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • a few grinds of black or lemon pepper, for serving

Whisk all ingredients together. Adjust seasonings. Drizzle over salad, toss with veggies, or use as a dip.

chopped spring salad on greens with chicken and a zippy yogurt dressing

chopped spring salad on greens with chicken and a zippy yogurt dressing

Discount Code

Do you have #SummerCravings for something from prAna? Here is a discount code for 15% off of anything at prAna.com! Use code SCS16JUMA.

  • Not valid for Influencers, on Gift Certificates or valid with any other offers
  •  Valid June 1 – July 7, 2016

Giveaway!

But wait, there’s more! Thanks to Stonyfield and prAna, I am giving away one Quinn dress! Winner selects color and size.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

  • Winner will be selected on June 22.
  • Giveaway is only open to U.S. citizens.
  • Prize will be shipped directly from prAna.

What I’ve Been Cooking: Eating Down the Freezer

This isn’t the sexiest post I’ve ever written, but sometimes when you’re going to be moving* and you like to keep a well-stocked pantry and chest freezer you think, “Yowza. I don’t want to move all of this, too!”

My freezer is worse (better?) than my pantry. It is stocked. Veggies from our summer CSA, organic beef and chicken (usually, but we’ve used it all up), berries, banana chunks for smoothies (and six whole bananas C threw in there once), frozen veggies from the store, chunks of a whole coconut we’d broken up, cranberries from the Cape, peaches from last summer, homemade stock and pesto, tasty things from Trader Joe’s, a frozen pizza.

That’s rather a lot. Plus I sometimes tend to put leftovers in there, too. Maybe I’m a little bit of a food hoarder, but I like to have stuff on hand.

Our pantry is less full, but it has a fair amount of food in it, mostly pasta, grains, and beans. And canned tomatoes. It’s really quite reasonable, not excessive, but we’re not going to starve, that’s for sure.

On my own, and with the kids gone half the week, and thus my not having to cook a major meat-containing meal every night, I’ve started to making recipes that catch my eye or that I’ve been wanting to try for a while and also generally simplifying what I cook. In addition, I’ve again begun cooking out of interest and pleasure instead of as a dull repetitive chore.

I once again love to cook!

I went through the freezer the other day, partly to see if I had anything affected by that recent listeria recall (I did not) and partly to see what was in there. Year-old birthday cake? Goodbye. Year-old unfrosted cupcakes? Six-month-old pastry dough? Two-year-old pesto cubes (ugh)? Gone, gone, gone.

Here’s what I’ve been cooking lately, using up what I have on hand:

Cacio e Pepe: It’s like adult mac-and-cheese. So simple, so delicious. I don’t make it quite like Mark Bittman does, but it’s lovely. I also made another version with fried sage leaves (oh…..so good) and threw in some fresh spinach leaves just before the pasta was done cooking. Helpful tip: Frying sage leaves in brown butter can make your house smell like pot (come on, I went to a small liberal arts college in the ’90s). If you don’t like the smell of pot (I do not), ventilate well.

Fruit Cobbler: On Tuesday I took all the frozen berries and that one remaining sheet of puff pastry and made a cobbler, also adding chunks of fresh mango and some of last summer’s peaches, which I’d managed to peel and slice last summer (and froze in anticipation of making jam at a later time, which I haven’t yet done…). The puff pastry wasn’t great. Maybe I didn’t vent it enough, but it was soggy and thick. And the fruit was really runny. Tasty, but I should have done something different.

Banana Bread: The same day, I defrosted the six whole frozen bananas and made a 9×13 pan of chocolate chip banana bread…just in time for yesterday’s epic seven-boys/two-moms playdate.

Chocolate Chia Pudding: Yesterday morning, I made chocolate chia pudding. I had no nut milks/rice milk on hand, and while I do have very nice cows’ milk in the fridge, I decided to use a can of coconut milk (with the fat skimmed off to save for another use). It seems a bit too chocolately for the texture, frankly. I think this would be good mixed with a good whole-milk yogurt (Greek or not, whatever’s on hand) to balance the flavor and texture.

Vegetarian Chili: Max wanted chili for dinner last night. After our epic seven-child playdate I needed to make something quick. Thus this delicious skillet chili. This nicely used up most of an onion, some carrots and green peppers from the produce drawer, two cans of beans, and a can of tomatoes. Alas, my chili powder and cumin seem to have moved out with my husband, so I found a half-packet of Trader Joe’s taco seasoning and put a little of that in. Ben complained the chili was too spicy but otherwise liked it. I would have used more of that seasoning but it has a really strong note of cayenne and not much else (that is, to get the other flavors you’d have way too much cayenne going on). I had to add water to the chili to make it soupier for my traditionalist children, who like a soupy chili instead of a bowl of beans. With some shredded cheese on top, it was delicious and everyone ate two bowls (yay!!).

Veggie Tempura Nests: I didn’t really make these. I had some from Trader Joe’s (man, I have a lot of TJ’s stuff in my freezer!) and wanted to use them up and thought they’d be a nice counterpoint to the chili. Ben didn’t like them, and Max thought they were just OK, so I ended up eating them all (don’t judge).

So that’s what we’ve been eating. I also, when I can, maybe every other week, make a trip to a local produce market and stock up. Then I roast big pans of eggplant and peppers and summer squash and zucchini and make big salads, and another night I might grill a pile of veggies as I continue to learn to master the charcoal grill (windy days are tricky).

What I’d like, frankly, is a big juicy steak, cooked rare. Alas, I haven’t yet found one in my freezer, fridge, or pantry. Maybe when I get the chest freezer nearly empty and schedule a pickup for a big pile of stuff to donate, I will celebrate with a steak. Let us hope I’ve fully gotten the hang of the charcoal grill by then.

*I don’t know where yet. But it will be sometime this summer, away from the city. And yes, I’d probably be better off focusing on cleaning the basement and getting stuff ready to donate, but hey, we need to eat, right?

Stonyfield Whole Milk Greek Yogurt (Review)

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I love yogurt (whole milk plain, always), but something about Greek yogurt always put me off. Maybe it’s because it’s usually fat-free. I believe we need some fat in our food. It’s good for our brains, for one thing. Plus, whole milk yogurt tastes better!

Fortunately, Stonyfield just came out with organic Whole Milk Greek Yogurt. It’s creamy. It doesn’t have that tangy smell. It has a smooth mouthfeel, mild taste, and is just delicious.

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The milk used in Stonyfield’s Whole Milk Greek Yogurt comes from cows that are pasture-raised. This doesn’t mean entirely grass-fed (Stonyfield also has a new Grass-Fed Yogurt), but the cows get some time in pasture, grazing on grass the way cows should.

Stonyfield sent me several flavors to try: plain, strawberry, cherry, and honey. Their whole milk Greek yogurt also comes in blueberry, but I didn’t try that one (which I don’t mind — I don’t really like blueberry). The fruit (or honey) comes in a little side cup so you can add as much or as little as you want. The ingredients list is simple, and the sugar content is low compared to other yogurt brands.

Very simple ingredients list. Milk, honey. Cultures.

Very simple ingredients list. Milk, honey. Cultures.

The kids and I agreed that the amount of honey given was more than necessary for us (but it is such good honey that my older boy asked if we could get this kind of honey from now on instead of the clover honey we bought last time). The strawberry is really good, and the cherry is divine. If I could get the cherry preserves separately, I’d be in heaven. I’d eat one spoonful of yogurt, one of cherry, one of yogurt, one of cherry. Or I’d mix them. Either way, I had to take the gracious maternal step of letting my child have the last cherry whole milk Greek yogurt instead of eating it myself.

There's one cherry yogurt left in the fridge. Somehow.

There’s one cherry yogurt left in the fridge. Somehow.

While these yogurts would be excellent in smoothies and for frozen yogurt and for baking with, I enjoyed just eating them. And I’d like to eat more of them. I’m really glad Stonyfield has a whole milk Greek yogurt now. And, of course, it’s organic and made with non-GMO products.

For more on their products, visit Stonyfield and connect with them on Facebook andTwitter.

What I’ve Been Baking

IMG_6749.JPGThis is the end of my third week of freedom — I mean, freelancing. I admit I took some much-needed time off, even though I was fielding calls from recruiters and had some interviews and landed a freelance gig. I have been running more. I have been blogging more. I have been reading more. And I’ve started baking again.

Right now in my oven are the vegan chocolate chip cookies I recently posted to FB about. The description on Food52 contained this phrasing, which caught my eye (talk about an understatement): “. . . its soft-bellied, chewy, caramelly-crisp-edged, rippled and ringed and puddled with melty chocolate, well-salted . . .” Why hello, cookie of my dreams.

But before we talk about them, here’s what else I’ve been baking:

  • A crumb-topped apple-pear pie. The apples were mostly local, the pears picked from a running buddy’s pear tree a few blocks away, the pie crust and topping recipes were from Peter Davis’s Fresh & Honest. If you want a cookbook of simple, honest food that’s about as New England as you can get, this is the cookbook for you. Despite my longstanding phobia about homemade pie crust, this came out ok. (Confession: I used my food processor. But I still had to roll it out!) The crumb topping was divine (it’s hard to go wrong with sugar and butter).
  • Parsnip-apple-raisin-walnut muffins. Like Morning Glory muffins, but with parsnips. I had one at a friend’s house and it was excellent. So I went home and found a recipe and made them (I mean, how many recipes can be out there for such a combo)? I accidentally shredded, rather than grated my parsnips, resulting in long thick tough strands. Did I let that stop me, or details like proper measuring of the shredded parsnips? No way! Did I bother to notice that the recipe made two dozen muffins instead of just one? Nope! Do they look like weird little porcupines with all the shreds of parsnip sticking out? Yup! Does anyone here besides me like them? Of course not. Would you like one? Please?

    An appearance that's hard to love

    An appearance that’s hard to love

  • Gingerbread. The deepest, blackest, most gingery gingerbread ever, also from the Peter Davis book. It is excellent on its own or with whipped cream, and everyone here likes it, so that’s a win.
  • Vegan chocolate chip cookies. And this all brings us back to the cookies. I love chocolate chip cookies, and these sounded really good. I don’t care that they’re vegan. I mean, I fully support their vegan condition, but that wasn’t a draw for me.

I did what I was told, mostly, except I used half white, half whole wheat flour instead of all white, because I always do. I tossed the chocolate chips into the flour. The flour didn’t coat them, and it looked like an awful lot of chocolate chips. I beat the oil, water, and sugar. I combined everything thoroughly but minded the warning not to overmix. I tried not to be concerned that it looked like a sandy mix, like pastry dough before you add the few teaspoons of ice water to hold everything together. I dutifully refrigerated it overnight.

Scoop this?

Scoop this?

After my second run today (don’t ask), I took it out, hoping to follow the next step and scoop it onto a parchment-lined tray. You cannot scoop loose sand that’s littered with chocolate chips. I added more water and (if you’re a diehard vegan, don’t read this part) a beaten egg.* While I still think there were about 1/4 cup too many chocolate chips, at least the batter held together this time.

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Onto the cookie sheets it went! The recipe suggested freezing the trays with the scooped batter for ten minutes before baking, but — oh-so-hilarious to discover after I’d emptied a shelf in our freezer — my baking trays are too wide for our freezer shelves. A quick grind of sea salt on top (Himalayan pink, if you must know) and into the oven they went.

They certainly smelled good. And they taste really good. You don’t get the butter and vanilla flavor you might be used to, but they’re still really good. And they look fine — not like the picture in the recipe, of course, but fairly normal.

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Yes, I said they look “normal” because my chocolate chip cookies always look like this. They’re never lovely and round and flat. They’re baked lumps, always.

Would I make them again? Definitely. Would I add an egg next time, too? If I needed to. Would I add vanilla next time? Hell yes. Will this be my go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe? Probably not. The one I used before was just fine. But these would be handy if I were out of butter or wanted to make delicious vegan cookies. I don’t love the 12-hour lag time, because I am a fairly spontaneous baker.

But these are a good, butter-free cookie, and next time I will pay extremely close attention to the measurements instead of just eyeballing the water, and next time I will not add an egg. I swear. And also now I will stop eating them so that my family can actually enjoy a few, too.

*Also we had one egg left in the carton, which always seems ridiculous to me, so I was happy to add it to the cookie batter.

Note: I am aware that I am a terrible photographer. One day I might work on that. Or I might not.

Shutterfly and Stonyfield YoBaby/YoTot for the Holidays

Disclosure: As a Stonyfield blogger, I was given a discount code for $20 off a $20 Shutterfly.com purchase. All opinions are my own. 

If you’re like me, most of your photos are on your phone, Instagram, and Facebook. I’m terrible about printing them (I blame you, smartphone camera!).

But my poor kids don’t have tons of baby pictures on the walls or in albums. So I decided to make a photo album for them of some key recent moments. Shutterfly.com made it easy to do. I could pick a design, pull in my pictures from my phone and laptop (actually I think I had to put them from my phone to my laptop and then into the album, but you can probably figure out how to go directly from phone to Shutterfly), and submitted the order. We soon had a wonderful hardback photo book of so many fun memories.

And now I want to make more. Many more. Seasonal books. Key memories. Wall hangings. Plus print pictures to put into the photo album each child was given as a baby gift (I know, I know….but I never print pictures anymore!).

You too can make a great photo album or order prints from Shutterfly. Here’s a discount code for you! Get $20 off of a $20 order at Shutterfly.com when you buy any YoBaby or YoTot six-pack from now through the end of February! Just enter the code on the Stonyfield package to Shutterfly.com to get your discount. With the holidays coming, this is a great deal! Photo gifts? Holiday cards? Cool wall hangings? Calendars? Printed pillows? Don’t miss out! Offer ends February 29, 2016. One offer per household. 

Oh, and you don’t need to have a little kid in the house to buy YoBaby or YoTot. I’m a big fan of these little yogurts — especially YoBaby Vanilla.