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Entries in oats (25)

Friday
Jun292012

Banana Peanut Butter Protein Smoothie

Banana Peanut Butter Protein Smoothie

When I lived in a tiny, but undeniably lovely apartment in Montreal, I spent most of my time around the kitchen table baking, eating, or working. I spent my mornings and evenings in the kitchen, discovering a passion for food in the sugar jar and the heat of the oven. The kitchen was minuscule, incapable of even holding a refrigerator, but the dark, wooden table and the large open windows made the space feel like a home. I wasn't the only one who had the same feelings.

A small mouse moved in, making a nest in a hole behind the stove.

Banana Peanut Butter Protein Smoothie

My roommate was the first to spot the visitor, as he scampered into hiding once his secret had been found out. As we wondered what to do with our little friend (mousetraps were certainly out of the question unless they were humane), my roommate went away for a weekend and my mother came to visit. My roommate and I thought it best that my mother didn't know of our little friend. Firstly, so she wouldn't believe we were living in squalor and, secondly, so that she wouldn't fear sleeping on the futon which rested only a few feet from the mouse's house. Since it had been nearly a week since the mouse's discovery and he hadn't appeared for me, it seemed best to keep mum on the subject.

On the second night of my mother's visit, we sat around the kitchen table enjoying spaghetti squash and fresh figs. In the quiet of the apartment, there was suddenly a tiny scratching sound coming from the inside of one of the cupboard doors. The mouse, it seemed, wanted to say hello. As my mother stared at the cupboard in horror, imagining a range of creatures hiding behind the door, I spilled the secret, backed into a corner by none other than the mouse himself. Though my mother raised her eyebrows at my explanation why the mouse had become my third roommate, she kept her thoughts on the subject to herself.

My mother, to her credit, still slept on the futon.

Banana Peanut Butter Protein Smoothie

It was a few days more until I spotted the mouse for myself. As I quietly worked in the living room, he finally peeked out to look me over. He was so tiny I could have easily held him in one hand, sporting ears as large as elephant's. I couldn't help but fall hopelessly in love. I began to have childish fantasies of transforming the movie Ratatouille into a reality, turning the mouse into a pet with an appreciation for good food.

Then the reality of having a mouse in the house hit me.

The mouse, though tiny as he was, had an uncanny ability to peep about in the baking cupboard. He ignored the baking staples as he looked for his prize—a large bag of almonds. Overnight two pounds of almonds disappeared. Though I was upset about that (almonds certainly aren't cheap), it was the thousands of little crumbs he left behind for me to clean up that drove me to frustration. I cleaned out the cupboard, moving sealed baking supplies and tossing out the rest. When we discovered the corner he treated as a litter box, my desire to have a mouse friend began fading. The mouse, to his credit, was a very quiet house guest, leaving a long enough time between his little surprises that we'd forget we even had a third roommate.

I moved away before the saga of the mouse had come to a head. Sometimes I wonder about that little mouse and his whereabouts, curious how long it took him to eat his almonds. Sometimes I worry that my own kitchen will capture the attention of a little mouse, especially when the dishes begin to pile on the counter top. Perhaps it wouldn't be so bad if it did—he could help me pick up the crumbs from off the floor.

Banana Peanut Butter Protein Smoothie

This Banana Peanut Butter Protein Smoothie is sweet (without added sugar) and absolutely filling. Bananas, peanut butter, tofu, and oats come together to create a robust, flavorful beverage. One serving of the smoothie has roughly twenty grams of protein, making it a good choice when you need to power up. If you are nervous at seeing the word "tofu," don't be worried; like yogurt, it thickens the smoothie but lends no flavor to the final product (just protein!).

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Friday
Jun012012

Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies

Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies

For the month of June, I've decided to go vegan. It's more of a personal challenge to myself than a moral or ethical decision. Growing up in meat and potatoes country, I've never struck issue with eating meat. Both sets of my grandparents were farmers and ranchers, raising crops and cattle and working off the land. The farm was my second home when I was younger. Rooting around the big red barn and watching cattle through barbed wire fences was a regular pastime. I was raised on meat from my uncle's farm. He made a homemade sausage so good that my family would freeze it so we could enjoy it every month of the year.

You could say, in a way, that farm life is in my blood—that meat is in my blood.

Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies

Even so, I've always been curious about veganism. It's intimidating to me, honestly. I rely so heavily on dairy and egg products in my everyday life, typically grabbing a yogurt and an egg sandwich for a meal. Part of the reason I wanted to challenge myself with a month of veganism was to force myself to explore new foods, eat more fruits and vegetables, and get cooking in the kitchen. I wonder how my body will feel after a month without consuming any animal products. I fear I will have a hard time eating enough protein.

A year and a half ago, I was a vegetarian for a few months. It wasn't necessarily a conscious decision so much as it was a necessary one. Living in Montreal, Quebec, was expensive and I simply couldn't afford the high price of meat as a poor college student. However, becoming a vegetarian in a big city was almost effortless. Becoming a vegan in North Dakota, where grocery stores only hold three packages (not brands or types) of tofu will be an entirely different story. Vegans are few and far between in meat and potatoes country. I'll certainly be out of my element, but that is just another difficult part of the challenge.

Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies

Over the last week I've slowly been emptying my cupboards of "forbidden foods." I've finished the milk, eaten the yogurt, consumed the cans of soups, and said my goodbyes to my dear friend, butter. Despite my best efforts to clean out the cupboards, I still had a shelf of soon-to-be banned baking supplies. These cookies were born out of the last of the forbidden foods, featuring toffee pieces and chocolate chips.

As I experiment with this new lifestyle over the next month, I have a promise I want to make to you. I am going to do my best to continue to keep my foods approachable, delicious, and to use familiar, everyday ingredients you already have in your kitchen. My baking and recipes may be vegan, but they don't need to shout it from the rooftops. I'll keep you updated on this journey of mine—I can only wonder how it will play out.

Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies

These toffee chocolate chip cookies are an "everything but the kitchen sink" cookie, featuring a little bit of this and that. Oatmeal, chocolate chips, toffee pieces, and chopped almonds come together to create a crunchy, hearty cookie that just begs to be dunked in a glass of milk. These cookies are dangerous when lying around the house. You might find yourself sneaking three or four in a day's time.

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Sunday
May272012

Blueberry Lemon Crumble

Blueberry Lemon Crumble

After the end of a long winter and cool spring, I grow anxious for fresh fruits and vegetables. Perhaps it's all the months of opening canned vegetables or using frozen fruits, but I reach a point every year where I cave and buy the overpriced fresh fruit in the grocery store. The "fresh" fruit hasn't found its way into a can or the freezer yet, but it lacks the flavor and texture of its seasonal counterparts. In some ways, it's like I'm setting myself up for disappointment—a very expensive disappointment.

If only fruits and vegetables could be in season every month of the year.

Blueberry Lemon Crumble

Well, I've grown anxious. The temperatures outside are occasionally running into the nineties and I'm left sitting next to the air conditioner wishing for a red watermelon. After buying a cheap, but ultimately terrible carton of berries at the market, I've given in. I bought frozen blueberries, citrus fruit, and green beans in a can. It may not be fresh, but it certainly doesn't lack in flavor.

Right now, that's just what I need.

Blueberry Lemon Crumble

Fruit desserts are quintessential to summer evenings. After a hot, humid day, they make for a cool, light pick-me-up to satisfy my sweet tooth without the richness or heaviness a chocolate cake can bring. When I made this crumble, I enjoyed it hot from the oven on a cool rainy morning and chilled after the hot sun invited itself into my living room.

Until I can raid the farmer's markets, frozen fruit will just have to work for me.

Blueberry Lemon Crumble

Blueberry Lemon Crumble is a simple dessert combining sweet blueberries with tart lemon. The blueberries are sprinkled with an oatmeal crumble topping before roasting in the oven until fragrant and bubbly. If you listen closely, you can hear the blueberries sing. This makes for a lovely accompaniment to a cool summer meal.

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