This recipe came about in two ways. First it was Sunday– dessert night. The one night of the week I make dessert. And we were completely out of eggs. The reason I went ahead and made a dessert rather than postponing until Monday night was partly due to my friend’s son and my little niece who have egg allergies.
Eggs are generally used as a leavening agent and to add moisture (cakes, cookies) or as a binder (omelets and meatloaf). Eggs combined with fat in a yeast bread work to tenderize the protein wheat flour. This protein forms gluten during kneading, which makes the bread chewy. Egg whites help dry the bread out to create a crisper texture.
Eggs used in cookie and cake batter works the same way. I remember the time in high school when a friend made chocolate cake and forgot to add the eggs. The flat disc was as hard as a hockey puck. If eggs are omitted something will need to take its place. This recipe for chocolate chip cookies calls for an egg replacement product called Ener-G. Ener-G comes as a powder and must be completely mixed with a liquid before adding to the batter.
Most of the reviews I have found suggest using ground Flax seed, baking powder or silken tofu in that order of preference for cookies. However if you are baking muffins or a cake silken tofu is a better choice. “The tofu adds better structure than flaxseed.” Make sure to beat the tofu until smooth.
I used 1 tablespoon baking powder and 1 tablespoon corn starch well blended into 6 tablespoons milk. The cookies flavor and texture were no different from a cookie made with eggs. Personally I prefer the nuttiness of flaxseed.
Source: “The Joy of Vegan Baking”
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup/2 sticks butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 1/2 teaspoons Ener-G in place of 3 eggs (see variations for alternative substitutes)
6 tablespoons water
1 and 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup nuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 375F/190C.
In a large bowl, cream butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla. In a food processor/blender whip together the egg replacer powder and water together very well, until it’s thick and creamy. Add this mixture to the creamed butter and sugar, combine thoroughly.
In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Gradually beat the flour mixture into the wet mixture until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts, if using. Drop by spoonfuls onto the baking sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown.
Let stand for 2 minutes on the baking sheet itself. Then transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely before storing.
— Replace the egg substitute with 1 tablespoon baking powder and 1 tablespoon corn starch. Mix thoroughly with the 6 tablespoons water or milk.
— To use Flax Seed in place of eggs: (per each egg called for)
Combine 1 heaping tablespoon of whole organic flax seed in a blender. Blend until it becomes a fine meal. Add 1/4 cup cold water. Blend 2-3 minutes until thickened. (Be sure to blend until mixture is well blended; the consistency of an egg) 1/4 cup Flax seed mixture = 1 egg in baking.
Store any leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
— If you having problems try using this version of conversions from Eggbeaters.com: 1 egg = 1/4 c. firm silken tofu = 1 T ground flaxseed + 3 T water whisked together.
— Replace flour with whole wheat pastry flour or oat flour.
In the South the term “biscuit” often refers to a light, fluffy, flaky, buttery bread usually served with breakfast. In England and other places around the world however, a biscuit is more like a hard scone or “cookie” served with tea or coffee.
The word “biscuit” derives from the Latin “panis biscoctus,” meaning “bread twice baked.” The history books tell us that the “biscuit” began as a simple paste of flour and water. The paste was baked, removed from the pan; then cooked again in a cooler oven until thoroughly dried out. The result was a hard, portable “cracker” with an extraordinary extended shelf life. “Biscuits” were very popular among the sailors and travelers because they were lite and could last for months.
Meanwhile, the more civilized areas of the world started exploring alternate baked goods. These ancient civilizations experimented with eggs, butter and cream; in addition to, sugar, fruits and honey as well as spices from the Middle East. The first shift from the unyielding biscuits were small cake like confections popular in Persia during the 7th Century AD. During the Medieval Ages the culinary techniques for making sweet and savory cake-like biscuits were introduced to the Europeans during the invasion of Muslims into Spain and the Crusades.
Biscuits World Wide:
Throughout the centuries biscuits have been called many things:
British- Ship’s Biscuit (Hardtack)
French- Gaufrettes wafers,
South Africa- Rusk
Australian / New Zeland- ANZAC (War Biscuits), (Afghan biscuits were derived from the Australian ANZAC)
Dutch- Speculaas (ginger flavored type cookie)
Russain / Ukraine- Tea Cakes
Egypt- millet bread called dhourra cake
Middle East- Barazek
In early America the pioneers favored the “soda biscuit” or as the Chuck Wagoners referred to them, “Cowboy biscuits”. Soda biscuits were usually cooked in iron dutch ovens.These were cast-iron pots with lids that could be used over an open fire. The biscuits were were rolled then placed in the pot. After the lid was set in place the cook would layer coals from fire on top of the lid. The heat created a small portable oven.
The “Marlyand”, “Beaten Biscuit” or “Appalachian biscuit” is thought to predate the leavened soda biscuit of the settlers. Before the 1900’s corn bread was a favored commodity in the Appalachian mountains. Corn bread was cheap to make as the corn was grown in abundance locally. The bread did not require a fancy oven or pans as did the “biscuits” eaten by those of society.
At the turn of the century the settlement movement placed women volunteers in low income areas in the South to help alleviate poverty. The Appalachians contaminated corn products or “musty corn” were thought to be the cause of pellagra. “A life-threatening disease similar in effect to leprosy.” Families were faced with a choice to eat the stores of corn and risk death or starve during the winter months. The women hoped to help the Appalachians adopt a healthier diet. They taught them cooking lessons introducing the wheat flour “Beaten Biscuit.” The beaten biscuit was not a realistic choice for the impoverished community. The biscuits required imported wheat flour in addition to a special oven to regulate temperatures; moreover, the biscuits needed to be beaten with a mallet on a marble slab 300-500 times to incorporate air into the dough.
Seeing the need for reform the Appalachains were taught how to make a simpler version called the “Cat Head”. It was basically a Southern buttermilk biscuit the size of a cat’s head. The dough was pinched off, then rolled into a ball, and placed with sides touching into an iron skillet. Today corn bread still remains the chosen bread for many in the Appalachian territory.
Other biscuits from the 1900’s include:
–The “Touch of Grace” or “Angel” biscuit. These are very light and similar to a yeast roll but still considered a biscuit. They were a fool-proof recipe for new brides because the recipe called for two leaveners in case one failed.
–The “Rolled” biscuit- dates back to the late 1800’s. The dough was rolled out then shaped with a cutter.
–The “Drop” biscuit– the dough is the consistency of a batter. The batter is dropped by spoonfuls rather than cut or pinched.
–“Refrigerator” biscuits – arrived in the 1930’s. They are tubes of prepackaged biscuit dough.
Yogurt is a beneficial alternative for our daughter who dislikes drinking milk. We always have a stock in the refrigerator or freezer for the kids to snack on. However not all yogurt is nutritious. While a high quality plain is the most wholesome choice it is not always a kid favorite. Look for yogurt brands without added artificial flavors and dyes or high fructose corn syrup. I love Chobani honey flavored Greek yogurt because it is made with only three ingredients: milk, honey and 6 strains of bacteria. Mountain High yogurt is my top choice because they use real hormone free milk and fresh fruit without the extra additives. Mountain High can be found in most Costcos and supermarkets.
Use yogurt in the place of sour cream, cream cheese, cream, butter, mayonnaise, milk, and whipped cream in most recipes for smoothies, dips, soups, toppings, and baked goods.
English muffins with fruit and yogurt is perfect for breakfast or as a hearty nutritious snack. Include this recipe as part of a buffet style brunch. Set out bowls with different flavors of yogurt, honey, nut butter and fruit. Add a sprinkle of wheat germ for extra goodness.
2 whole grain English muffins, separated
Toast english muffins. Spread with choice of yogurt. Top with favorite fruit.
Forego the bread swapping it with pieces of fruit. Place sliced or chopped fruit in a small bowl or cup. Add yogurt and more fruit. Top with a dollop of yogurt or whipped cream for a parfait.
Artwork: “A Picnic Party” by: Blacklock William Kay
Courtesy of RussianPaintings.net
My favorite area in San Francisco is the timeless scene of Golden Gate park. Upon entering the large grassy area we are greeted by dozens of blankets spread across the lawn. There are bicyclist, friendly games of frisbee, catch, and individuals practicing Tai Chi. But most of all the atmosphere is relaxed. I suppose the reason I enjoy it so much is because it reminds me of the long lost days spent at the beach as a child. We lived a mere five minutes from the beach providing a perfect afternoon of family fun. When we tired of building sand castles and riding the waves we could take a walk down the shore exploring the area for shells and wildlife.
A picnic at the park, lake or beach is always exciting. Schedule a family picnic once a week or once a month. Everyone will benefit from getting outdoors for some relaxation and fun.
Bring a blanket and a picnic lunch:
Pack a cooler with nourishing snacks and/or a healthy meal. Be sure to have lots of water especially if it is hot and sunny. Supply enough blankets so that everyone can lounge if needed.
If BBQ is on the menu do not forget wood/charcoal, lighter fluid and matches. The last thing you want is a bunch of hungry kids and no way to cook the main dish.
Pack safety items such as sunblock, hat, sunglasses and an umbrella for shade.
Bring activities and games to play together:
Soccer balls, Kick ball, Kite, Frisbees, Baseball- mit and bat, Horse Shoes, Card games, board games, Instruments, Art supplies, Books, swimming gear, bikes, scooter, fishing supplies, a favorite toy.
Other activities to do while on a family outing:
Watch the clouds, hunt for frogs, categorize birds-trees-flowers, sing songs, tell stories, have a race, play hide and seek.
Brussels Sprouts notoriously have a bad wrap. Usually those claiming to despise them have never tried them or worse were scarred for life the first time they tried a mushy slimy sprout or cabbage.
Brussels sprouts are small little cabbage like sprouts that grow on a stalk. Brussels sprouts are part of the cruciferous family that includes: broccoli, kale, cabbage, mustard, turnips, rutabagas,and wasabi and horseradish. They were believed to have originated in Belgium near Brussels (hence the name) but there is some uncertainty to the claim. Based on historical records we do know that they were first introduced to France and England during World War I where they continue to be a popular food. French settlers who settled in Louisiana in the 1800’s brought them to America. Today brussels sprouts are mainly produced in California and Europe. They are a hardy plant tolerant of poor soil. When eaten regularly they may help prevent certain cancers and improve circulation.
Never ever buy frozen brussel sprouts or asparagus for that matter. Always buy fresh. Sprouts still attached to the stalk are preferable. Avoid sprouts that are discolored (yellow or brown leaves) or loose. Choose instead the smaller sprouts that are green. Brussels sprouts have a very short shelf life. Try to use within a few days of purchase.
The best way to prepare sprouts is roasted with a little oil. First wash then trim the bottom root part off. Not too much that too many leaves fall off. Next slice in half. Toss with a little oil, season with salt and pepper. Some recipes like this one suggest steaming them first. I am not a fan of steamed because they tend to loose flavor and can quickly turn too soft and rubbery.
If you skip the steaming part it will take about 10 to 15 minutes to brown. Ideally I this is your first experience with brussel sprouts cook the onions and pancetta as called for then toss in the sprouts turning to coat. Transfer to an oven safe pan and cook in a 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes. They should be tender enough to pierce with a fork but not mushy.
Source: Woman’s Day
1 1/2 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
4 oz pancetta, diced
1 large onion, quartered and thinly sliced crosswise
1?2 tsp kosher salt
1?4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar (optional)
Bring 1-inch of lightly salted water to a boil in a large, deep skillet. Add sprouts and simmer, covered, until crisp-tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain and run under cold water to cool.
Wipe out the skillet. Add pancetta and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towel–lined plate.
Add onion to drippings in skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and golden, 8 to 10 minutes.
Increase heat to medium-high. Add sprouts, salt and pepper, and cook, tossing, until heated through, about 3 minutes. Add pancetta and vinegar, if using, and toss to combine.
Use leftovers in an omelet the next morning.
Oats are a hardy grain able to tolerate poor soil conditions other crops normally could never withstand. It is hard to believe that oats were once thought of as a weed growing rampant among wheat and barley fields. For centuries the wild oat was considered tolerable feed only for livestock; while the wheat berry was an acceptable food staple. The Chinese meanwhile understood its valuable properties cultivating the oat for use in medicine. The oat was not widely consumed as a cereal for still sometime. We read tell of oats eaten in the form of porridge as far back as the 7th century. Oats were most likely introduced into the diet in small villages as a necessity to avoid starvation. The oat porridge was reserved for the lowest of society. Kings and their offspring on the other hand were offered porridge derived of wheaten meal topped with new milk. Despite its humble beginnings oats today contain rich nutrients that substantially lowers cholesterol reducing the risk of heart disease, boosts the immune system, and stabilizes blood sugar levels.
Unlike wheat, oats and barley must be hulled before human consumption. Groats have been heat treated to inactivate enzymes which cause rancidity. It is a good idea to soak grains (1 hour to overnight depending on use) before using them with baked goods or in oatmeal as the moisture ends dormancy. Soaking in essence wakes up the nutrients activating the enzymes to aide in digestion. This versatile grain can be used as groats or its sub varieties, turned into oat milk and milled into oat flour.
Raw hulled oats, that are untreated, may be sprouted for salads. Unprocessed hulled oats turn rancid quickly due to the reaction between the oils and oxygen; therefore, if you plan to sprout oats you will need to purchase hulless raw oats specifically labeled for sprouting. Hulless oats are grown so that the hull falls off during reaping. Thus eliminating the need for heat processing. Sprinkle sprouted oats on vegetables, salads, and sandwiches.
Oats have high amounts of cholesterol lowering soluble fiber, vitamins B, calcium, protein, and are low on the glycemic index. The amount of nutrients lessens with additional heating and processing. From a nutritional standpoint the purest form of nutrients comes from raw sprouted seeds followed by groats and oat bran. There are 6 variations of oats to choose from, excluding oat flour.
Once the outer husk, or hull, has been removed from an oat it is called a groat. Oat groats are minimally processed allowing them to retain their rich nutrients. Once processed and if stored properly groats will last at least 36 years. Groats have a nice chewy firm texture and a nutty flavor similar to a wheat berry. Those opposed to the mushy texture of porridge find groats more pleasing. Groats are a hard grain requiring a longer cooking time than rolled oats. It is not necessary to soak overnight however a minimal soaking of an hour or so is beneficial nutritionally. Use oat groats in stuffing, pastas, soups, stews, mixed in an omelet and as oatmeal. Grind groats into flour to thicken soups or replace all-purpose flour in baked goods.
To soak: If you have a crock pot groats may be cooked and soaked in one step (6 1/2 cups water to 1 1/2 cups groats cook on low overnight for 7-9 hours). Otherwise rinse the groats well then place in a bowl with enough water to completely cover plus 1-inch. Stir in a couple tablespoons whey, buttermilk or plain yogurt. (The yogurt works with the enzymes to make the oats easier to digest.) In the morning toss the water and cook according to recipe.
To cook: add fresh water (3 parts water to 1 part groats) to a pot; bring to a boil over medium heat. Add groats (soaked or dry). Turn heat to low and simmer for 15-50 minutes for dry groats and 15-30 for soaked; depending on your tastes.
Scottish oats are groats that have been ground into a meal for porridge. When cooled the porridge becomes thick and solid. In Medieval times they would cut the cooled porridge into thick slices then fry them for a hearty lunch.
The oat bran is the outer casing that is removed with the hull from the groats during the milling process. The bran contains the bulk of soluble fiber in the grain. Oat bran is used to make hot bran cereal or as an addition to baked goods such as pancakes and muffins.
Steel Cut Oats
Steel cut oats are groats that have been chopped into smaller pieces. Individuals who are opposed to the “mushy” texture of rolled oats might find the steel cut oat’s chewy texture appetizing. Replace rolled oats with steel cut oats in most recipes 1:1. Just remember steel-cut oats like groats may require soaking or a longer cooking time. In recipes such as baked oatmeal the oats will require soaking overnight according to the directions under groats. When cooking steel cut oats for oatmeal use 2 parts water to 1 part oats. If you have access to a Vita-Mix or grinder you can use groats and steel cut to make oat flour for baked goods.
Rolled oats are oat groats that are steamed, rolled, and flaked so that they cook quickly.
[To avoid mushy oatmeal never use quick oats. Use 1/2 to 1 cup more oats than called for. Boil the water first before adding the oats. Stir in the oats; turn down the heat to low. Cook 5 minutes longer until tender.]
Rolled oats may be processed into flour, quick oats (process in a food processor until the texture of quick oats) or used whole in many baked goods and smoothies. Sprinkle on top of bread down, stir into cookie dough, mix with hamburger, or make a crust for fish. Toast before adding to muffins to add an enhanced nutty flavor.
Quick oats are thinner flakes of rolled oats. Quick oats are often used in baked goods for a lighter texture than rolled oats. Substitute quick oats with rolled oats 1:1 in any recipe. Quick oats can also be made into facial masks and scrubs or used to calm inflammation from rashes to insect bites.
Instant oatmeal are rolled thin but are then cooked and dried. Instant oatmeal comes in single packets and contains additives and sweeteners.
A Couple Important Notes:
Oats contain a natural substance called purines; commonly found in plants, animals, and humans. Purines could pose a health risk in certain individuals. When broken down purines produce a form of uric acid. Excess accumulation of purines in the body can lead to a build up of uric acid resulting in a condition known as gout and kidney stones. Individuals with kidney problems or gout should limit their intake of foods that contain purine.
Oats are non-scientifically grouped; meaning they are part of the gluten grains: wheat, oats, barley and rye. For those individuals with wheat allergies, such as Celiac, it is best to be cautious and eliminate the grain from the diet then try to slowly reintroduce it at a later date. Try soaking overnight with plain greek yogurt or whey to help with digestion.
Nicoise is a type of salad historically made with raw vegetables. The Nicoise salad is believed to have originated at the start of the 1900’s on the French Rivera in Nice, France. Traditionally Nicoise Salad contained anchovies, artichoke hearts, olives, tomatoes and peppers, with a dressing made of olive oil, vinegar and mustard. The vegetables were arranged separately on a platter rather than tossed together.
Years passed before tuna (canned tuna) became the main ingredient in Nicoise salad. Today additional vegetables have been added such as broad beans, chopped boiled eggs, wedged tomatoes, celery, green peppers, red peppers, radishes, capers and onions. Julia Child’s was instrumental in the addition of cooked green beans and potatoes served in groups on a bed of Boston lettuce. Julia insisted that each ingredient be tossed in the dressing separately before assembling them on the plate.
Source: Adapted from “Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom” by Julia Child
Makes about 2/3 cups
1/2 tablespoons finely minced shallot or scallion
1/2 tablespoon Dijon-type mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, (optional)
1/2 tablespoon wine vinegar
1/3 to 1/2 cup excellent olive oil, or other fine, fresh oil
Freshly ground pepper
In a small bowl whisk the shallots, mustard and salt. Whisk in the lemon juice and vinegar until well blended. Add the oil in a slow drizzle whisking until well blended. Beat in freshly ground pepper. Taste (dip a piece of the salad greens into the sauce) and correct seasoning with salt, pepper, and/or drops of lemon juice. Set aside.
Or add all the ingredients to a jar with a screw top lid. Shake to combine.
16 oz baby spinach
1 pound green beans, steamed and cut in half
1-1/2 tablespoons minced shallots
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 or 4 ripe plumb tomatoes, cut into wedges (or 10 to 12 cherry tomatoes, halved)
3 or 4 new potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch slices
3 (5-ounce) cans chunk tuna, preferably oil-packed
6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and cut into wedges
1/3 cup black olives, chopped
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 freshly opened can of flat anchovy fillets (optional)
2 to 3 tablespoons capers (optional)
Bring a medium sized pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes. Boil for about 6 min, drain, run under cool water.
Arrange the spinach leaves on a large platter or in a shallow bowl.
Shortly before serving, toss the beans with the shallots, spoonfuls of vinaigrette, and salt and pepper. Baste the tomatoes with a spoonful of vinaigrette.
Place the potatoes in the center of the platter and arrange a mound of beans at either end, with tomatoes and small mounds of tuna at strategic intervals.
Ring the platter with wedges of hard-boiled eggs, sunny side up, and curl an anchovy on top of each (if using). Spoon more vinaigrette over all; scatter on olives, capers, and parsley, and serve.
To serve place spinach on a plate. Top with and crumble 1 additional can tuna over top. Add 3 hard cooked eggs peeled and cut into wedges, and serve immediately.
Or do it the American way and toss it all together and serve.
Image: Property of OMK
The month of April was established as national Military Child Month in honor of the families and their children for the daily sacrifices they make in supporting America’s Armed Forces. This month’s website review consists of two websites dedicated to serving the children and youth of military families.
In April of 2005 Operation Military Kids was launched. The OMK organization is instrumental in hosting events that focus on the children and youth of military families. Together Operation Military Kids along with local businesses and organizations join to provide community outreach programs that assists children and youth learning to cope with the absence and stresses of a deployed parent. During the month of April various organizations and Garrisons host field trips, day camps and ceremonies directed toward the youth.
Deployment Kids is another fantastic resource for young children of a deployed parent/s. Deployment Kids and its parent site Surviving Deployment offer wonderful ideas on how to stay connected, relocating, youth programs, transitioning once a parent comes home and recovering from loss. There are craft and ideas, activities, books, speaking engagements and plenty of articles and links.
Although May is officially Military Appreciation month we can show our gratitude for our troops and especially their families all year round. Contact Operation Military Kids, your local Garrison, or Boys and Girls club to find out how you can help support our troops and their families.
Next to pancakes oatmeal is our second favorite breakfast food. What I love most about baked oatmeal however is it is portable. Wrap some up to take on a hike or make a batch for an afternoon snack. Reheat the leftovers for breakfast the next morning.
If your kids are sensitive to robust flavors such as ginger try 1/4 teaspoon the first time. Try some of the variations or make up your own.
Source: My Own Sweet Thyme
3 cups rolled oats
½ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cardamon
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 eggs, lightly beaten
¼ cup butter, melted
1¼ cups milk
¼ cup orange juice concentrate (or orange juice)
1/3 cup dried cranberries (or substitute 1 cup chopped fresh cranberries)
2 Tablespoons whisky (or orange juice)
¼ cup chopped pecans or walnuts (if desired)
In a small microwave safe container stir together the dried cranberries and whisky or orange juice. Microwave on high for 30 seconds. Set aside. (Skip this step if using fresh chopped cranberries)
In a large bowl stir together the oats, brown sugar, salt, baking powder, ginger and cardamon.
In a small bowl stir together eggs, butter, milk and orange juice concentrate.
Add the egg mixture to the oat mixture. Stir to combine. Fold in the cranberries and nuts, if desired.
Pour into a lightly greased 9-inch square baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 40 minutes.
Serve warm with milk and brown sugar or cream and honey
–Swap the pecans and cranberries with toasted almonds and golden raisins.
–Add 1 tablespoon each of wheat germ and golden flax seed.
–Replace the rolled oats with steel cut oats. The night before rinse oats in water. Place in a medium sized bowl. Add two tablespoons yogurt, kefir, whey or buttermilk mixing well. Cover with water to about 1-inch above oats. Cover with plastic wrap and set on counter overnight for at least 12 hours. In the morning drain oats well before adding.