Recipe: Velvet Crinkle Cookies

I call these “velvet cookies” because I don’t like to use food coloring, and while “brown velvet” sounds chic, it does not sound tasty. Anyway, these cookies are heaven. Enjoy!

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Ingredients

Dry Ingredients
1 1/2 c whole wheat pastry flour
1 T cocoa powder
1 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1/4 t sea salt

Wet Ingredients
1/2 c organic Earth Balance
3/4 c cane sugar
3 T maple syrup
2 T coconut milk
2 t vanilla extract
1/3 c powdered sugar

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  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until creamy and fluffy. Mix in the maple syrup, milk, and vanilla extract. It’s normal to see little flecks of butter in the mixture (see photo below).
  4. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, slowly mixing in until just combined.
  5. Put powdered sugar in a bowl wide enough to roll a ball of dough around in it. Scoop out the dough with a melon baller, cookie dough scoop, or tablespoon and gently drop into powdered sugar. Roll dough balls in powdered sugar until completely coated. Lightly tap off excess sugar and set on baking sheet.
  6. Using a flat spatula, press down on each dough ball until slightly flattened.
  7. Bake for ten minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for ten minutes before eating.

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Although it depends on the tool you use to scoop the dough, I’ve found this recipe yields about 15-17 cookies.

Adapted from Vegan Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies.

 

 

 

 

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Recipe: Magic Tofu Quiche

This quiche is magical because I spotted a local meat eater going back for seconds. It’s also gluten-free!

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“Buckwheat groats” is fun to photograph and fun to say.

IMG_2162Ingredients

Crust Ingredients
1 T ground flax
6 T water, divided
1 c almonds, ground into flour
1 c buckwheat groats, ground into flour
1 t dried parsley
1 t dried oregano
1/2 t sea salt
1 T coconut oil

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If you need an ego boost, make a homemade quiche crust.

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Filling Ingredients
14 oz block of firm tofu
1 T coconut oil
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves, minced
8 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
1/2 c fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/3 c oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 c spinach
2 T nutritional yeast
1 t dried oregano
1 t sea salt
1 t black pepper
1/2 t red pepper flakes

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  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and lightly oil a glass pie dish or quiche dish.
  2. Drain the block of tofu and wrap it in a few tea towels or paper towels. Place a couple of books on top of it to press out the water while you prepare the crust.
  3. Whisk flax and 3 T water in a small bowl and set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, stir together the almond meal, buckwheat flour, parsley, oregano, and sea salt.
  5. Stir in the flax mixture and oil until mostly combined, then add the remaining 3 T of water. The dough should stick together when you press it between your fingers.
  6. Crumble the dough evenly over the base of the pie dish. Starting from the middle of the dish, press the mixture evenly into the dish, working your way outward and up the sides. Poke a few fork holes in the dough so air can escape.
  7. Bake the crust at 350 degrees F for 13 minutes, or until lightly golden and firm to touch.
  8. Increase oven temperature to 375 degrees F.
  9. Break up the tofu block and put into food processor. Process until smooth and creamy. If it doesn’t get creamy, add a tiny splash of coconut milk to help it along.
  10. In a pan, add oil and sauté the onion and garlic over medium heat for a few minutes.
  11. Add the mushrooms and a pinch of sea salt and cook until most of the water cooks off the mushrooms, about ten minutes.
  12. Stir in the basil, tomatoes, spinach, nutritional yeast, oregano, sea salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes and cook until the spinach begins to wilt.
  13. Remove from heat and stir in the creamed tofu until thoroughly combined.
  14. Pour mixture into the crust, smoothing out until even.
  15. Bake uncovered for 30-35 minutes, until the quiche is golden and firm to the touch.
  16. Cool quiche for 20 minutes on a cooling rack before slicing and serving.

Quiche goes great alongside a simple salad for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

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Serves 4-6.

Adapted from Sun-dried Tomato, Mushroom, and Spinach Tofu Quiche.

 

 

 

 

 

Recipe: Coleslaw

It’s 4th of July weekend, and you know what goes well with burgers, fireworks, and independence? COLESLAW. Trick all the Ricks in your life and bring this tasty vegan slaw to share at a cook out. Or, make it and keep it all to yourself. This is a judgment free zone.

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Ingredients

1 head of green cabbage
1 carrot
1 c organic Vegenaise
2 T coconut milk
2 T white vinegar
2 T cane sugar
1/2 t sea salt
1 t black pepper
1/2 t celery salt

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Never underestimate the power of a sad looking carrot in the bottom of your vegetable crisper. It may no longer be a crunchy, raw delight but it can be roasted. It can be baked into a cake. It can be shredded into slaw. It can be born again, honey!

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  1. Shred the cabbage and carrot in a food processor, or chop coarsely by hand.
  2. In the serving bowl, combine the Vegenaise, milk, vinegar, sugar, sea salt, pepper, and celery salt.
  3. Stir the cabbage / carrot mixture into the dressing until well combined. Cover and refrigerate if not serving immediately.

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Serves eight.

Adapted from Cabbage Slaw Recipe.

Recipe: Roasted Beets and Sweets

 

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Ingredients

3 large beets*, peeled and diced
3 T olive oil, divided
3 sweet potatoes*, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
1 t garlic powder
1 t sea salt
1 t black pepper
1 t cane sugar**

*Bonus points if you use rainbow beets and different sweet potatoes. The more color, the better!

**Ditch the sugar to make this recipe paleo.

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  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF.
  2. In a bowl, toss beets in 1 T olive oil until coated. Distribute evenly on a baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes.
  3. Rinse the bowl, then toss sweet potatoes, onion, garlic powder, sea salt, pepper, sugar, and 2 T olive oil until coated.
  4. Mix sweet potato mixture with the beets on the baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, stir the mixture, then bake another 25 minutes until all vegetables are tender.

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Serves six.

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Adapted from Roasted Beets ‘n’ Sweets.

Why Am I the Bummed Out Baker?

My website name change was unceremonious, which I later realized was a mistake.  While the name makes me laugh and is meant to be a wink to fellow folks with mental illness, worried loved ones have contacted me to see if I’m okay, unsettled by casual references to delectable Greek food and crippling depression in the same sentence.

The Baker Part

I love to cook and bake and have a special interest in plant-based fare. It’s a ritual for me. Pulling a pile of colorful produce out of the refrigerator’s crisper, pouring rice milk into a measuring cup, leveling flour with the straight side of a butter knife – pure, meditative catharsis. In the kitchen, I am left alone with my thoughts and at the end  have something tasty to share and show for it.

The dark side to my new moniker is that I use cooking and baking to busy myself when I am otherwise immobilized by depression.

The Bummed Out Part

Let me back up. I have experienced panic attacks and severe anxiety since I was eight years old, beginning when I skipped second grade and landed in an unfamiliar classroom. I’m talking drenched-in-sweat, sick-to-my-stomach, certain-that-death-or-worse-vomit-is-imminent, cannot-reliably-enjoy-normal-kid-things-like-movie-theaters-and-sleepovers-level anxiety. When I went through puberty I was plagued by depression in addition to the anxiety, exhausting me and causing a contemplative introversion I didn’t have the language to describe, let alone a community to commiserate with. So, not only did the fluorescent lights and linoleum floors in my chem lab make my brain go batty and my stomach feel like I was gonna hurl, I’d then go home at the end of the day, flop onto my bed in my Converse, and stare up at my ceiling in silence, praying no one bothered me lest I had to feign normalcy. My limbs felt like lead, and it wasn’t due to the average athleticism I displayed on the volleyball court several hours a week . Something as simple as polite, topical conversation was enough to overwhelm and exhaust me, do me in and trigger a fit of tears later, in private. Except for music, there was no place I felt understood. It did not help that the latter is often written off as fleeting teenage angst, a stereotype that played down my pain and isolated me further. The 90s and early 2000s composed a precarious chapter for mental health at large – it was so shameful to be sad. I had no affirming mental health community that said “hey, me too”, and so, I suffered. Days turned into weeks turned into months turned into years.

I didn’t cook when I was a teenager, I collaged my ceiling and wrote all over my black walls. It was as if my brain threw up on the inside of the small box I occupied, a room of mirrors, my reflection made up of melodramatic words and dark images. My family members thought it was strange, even a bit funny, but closing myself in my room for hours on end, listening to The Smiths and cutting up my dad’s Communication Arts books was my 2002 version of the same meditative catharsis I seek in the kitchen today.

Seventeen

Me and my brother Duncan in my dark dungeon. High school graduation day, 2006

Okay, I get it. You had a sad-ass adolescence. Where is this going?

I am a writer, and because I no longer work a conventional job I have the distinct and rare luxury of championing the destigmatization of mental illness. I’d like to be a mental health renegade, speaking up for those quietly suffering in a sterilized 9-5 environment while they live with Bipolar Disorder, depression, anxiety, or, loneliest of all, an unidentified mental issue. The pain of moving through life afflicted by mental illness pretending everything is hunky dory is truly inexplicable. Unless you have experienced it, I think it’s nearly impossible to understand. I don’t say this to be exclusive, but folks who do not suffer from mental illness often equate someone else’s crippling mental affliction to the time they felt anxious about their Tinder date with Jeremy, or the appropriate period of time they were devastated about the death of a friend or family member. It’s not the same. One is a normal exorcism of emotion, the other is a chemical imbalance that indefinitely stagnates and traps the sufferer in a hellhole of literal nonsense.

“Have Mercy”  – Uncle Jesse

There is not only a lack of understanding about mental illness, but because it’s effects are often invisible I think there’s a level of disbelief due to lack of physical proof. If the severity is not visual, it can’t be all that bad. Or, it must be a phase. It is still not common knowledge that a person’s mental illness can be as debilitating as someone with a physical disability. It can be.

I’ve dealt with mental illness a long time, and have finally found the courage to speak plainly about my story and what I continue to go through. It was so freeing when I finally decided to tell the truth about my needs. For instance, I recharge best by being alone. It’s critical for my well-being, and it took nearly 30 years to unapologetically assert that simple need. I’ve been power-washing my shame away, satisfied by the revelation of my true self and proud to claim my mental makeup. Community and unguarded communication about what’s going on in our heads is so powerful, and I am here. for. it.

Twenty

Twenty year old baby vegan, the original Bummed Out Baker. Spring, 2009

What does this mean for the site?

Of course I want to talk about thoughtful consumption, community via cooking, sustainability, my love of black clothes, and golden retrievers (duh). But I also want to exploit the platform I have to talk about mental health, something so many suffer from and so few feel safe being open about. As I said before, I have the luxury of not working in a conventional professional setting, which means I can speak freely without as much potential consequence, and I feel a responsibility to do just that. My hope is that, one day, mental illness will be given the same respect and dignity as any other health issue.

So, the point of Bummed Out Baker is not only to normalize a common mental state, but to evangelize the destigmatization of mental illness for myself and everyone who’s still suffering behind an office door, inside a cubicle, the confines of an ignorant social circle, a classroom, or your home. While the name is meant to inform and cultivate empathy, it’s also meant to make someone experiencing depression smile. It took me several years to find humor and help in mental illness, and if I can speed up that process for even one suffering person with some funny truths and a banana bread recipe, my job here is done.