Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Visions of Veganism Danced Through Her Head

I know…I know…I know…

This is supposed to be a  blog about eating healthy and creating a more “politically ` correct” home and lifestyle…and here this Southern belle sits writing about cookies…

How dare she?…

But old habits die hard…

And rhe topic of cooking methods led to a discussion of boiling which let to the discussion of grains which led to the discussion of amaranth…eventually leading up somehow to making cookies.

So how do I make these cookie and cake and other baked goods healthier and avoid such “taboo” ingredients as eggs, milk, butter, and so forth.

And why substitute these products if you are not becoming a vegan…simply someone looking for a good cookie recipe, for example?

Because such basic ingredients as milk and cream can clog your arteries and raise your cholesterol levels.

So let’s look at how to convert any recipe to a vegan recipe by subbing ingredients…starting with butter…

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Amaranth Crackers

We have now only been talking about amaranth for how long?!

So by now we should have more than an inkling as to what amaranth is, why we should add amaranth to our diets, and how to use it.

So let’s go back over what we’ve learned so far…

 

 

 

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Review

The Whatamaranth is a tiny seed that comes from the flowers of the Amaranthus.

The Why…

  • Carbohydrates…contains less carbohydrates compared to grains like wheat
  • Gluten Free
  • Protein…contains more protein than any other gluten-free grain…In fact, one cup of raw amaranth contains 28.1 grams of protein, the equivalent of a chicken breast…the proteins found in amaranth are also easily digestible compared to other grain based proteins
  • Vitamins/Minerals…amaranth is rich in calcium, magnesium, and iron
  • Aramanth crackers are a great snack or appetizer, served with a perfect dip or hummus….as well as a great accompaniment for soups and salads.

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The Perfect Aramanth Crackers

The perfect amaranth crackers are crumbly and crunchy, not like cardboard like many whole grain crackers out there….light and crisp…have an awesome nutty flavor.……and contain the perfect amount of herbs and garlic, not to mention an awesome aroma.

Note that the following cracker recipe does not contain salt, nuts, eggs, or sugar…simply basics such as aramanth, spices, and basic baking ingredients.

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Basic Ingredients

  • 2C amaranth flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1Tbsp pepitas
  • 1Tbsp sunflower kernels
  • 2Tbsp olive oil
  • 2Tbsp honey
  • 1/3 cup water
Optional Toppings…your choice…but use 1Tbsp…

  • chia seeds
  • cumin
  • garlic
  • pepitas
  • rosemary
  • sesame seeds
  • sea salt
  • thyme

 

 

 

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Making the Dough

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Amaranth “Granola Bars”

 

Melt the honey and almond butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.

Stir to combine.

Stir in the vanilla.

Remove from heat.

Let cool 5min.

Place all of the remaining ingredients…except for the chocolate…in a large bowl.

Pour the honey mixture over the ingredients.

Stir to combine.

Add the cold, chopped chocolate.

Stir together.

Press the mixture in a square baking dish lined with parchment paper. You want your mixture to be about 1/2″ thick.

Refrigerate for about four hours.

Lift the bars from the pan by using the parchment paper to lift it out of the baking dish.

Use a large, sharp knife to cut the bars into twelve separate bars.

You can store these by place them in an airtight container and refrigerating for up to five days.

 

 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Muesli…The What

Breakfast of Champions?!

Yeah right…

It’s gonna take way more than a bowl or two of cereal to make anyone a “champion”—things such as self-discipline, determination, and experience…

But this is not a motivational blohg…and I am by no means a motivational speaker…

I am simply a wife and mother is who is trying to make better choices and learn as much as she can in order to take care of her type 2 diabetic husband and ADHD/ODD grandson.

So let’s look at how grains can play an important role in breakfast…how breakfast itself can contribute to the self-discipline, determination, and experience that we are all trying to gather during the course of the day ahead.

First of all, let’s look at meusli…later we will look at granola and oatmeal and see how they differ from each other…and look at a few recipes that caan help us make our mornings more perfect.

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Muesli—The Story Behind It

But in this post…I am gonna talk about what meusie ls…and where it originated.

People have realized two things that anyone striving to live a healthier lifestyle eventually learn…

  1. Food is medicine.
  2. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
  3. Mornings totally suck.

In fact someone back around the year 1900 realized these facts so much that he created muesli as a way to control the madness.

This someone was a Swiss physician named Maximilian Bircher-Benner as a dietary supplement for his patients. His was already feeding his hospital patient—long-term patients who were chronically ill—s a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables as part of their treatment, but he created

After creating the following recipes, he began prescribing this mixture as if were medicine.

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The Recipe

The original Bircher-Benner recipe consisted of the following ingredients:…

  • Apples…two or three small apples or one large one….the whole apple…including skin, core, and pits
  • Nuts…more specifically 1Tbsp walnuts, almonds, or hazelnuts
  • Rolled oats…1Tbsp…that have been soaked in 3Tbsp  water for 12 hours
  • Lemon juice from half a lemon
  • Cream or honey or sweetened condensed milk…1Tbsp
  • Intructions…Mix the cream with the soaked oats and lemon juice. Grate the apple and then stir it into the mixture.

But there are many ways that you can make your morning muesli more exciting—by making things such as bread and cookies….But let’s next learn the difference between muesli and granola…

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Coffee Cake

Coffee cake is great for breakfast…or lunch…or dinner…or any time in between…along with a perfect cup of coffee…(next post—Making the Perfect Cup of Coffee…go figure(?!))…

 

 

The perfect coffee cake is moist and tender…with a perfect gooey middle layer of dark cinnamon filling…and a crumbly streusel topping.….with lots and lots of crumbs.

 

This is a simple and quick recipe for a delicious, homemade coffee cake made from scratch…and best of all, you probably already have all the ingredients in your pantry or fridge…that will be great for making ahead of time and serving for a special brunch or holiday breakfast.

By the way, I used to hate it when I was growing up and my mom would make a cake…saying that it would taste better tomorrow…dang it..I didn’t want to wait until tomorrow…I wanted a piece right then and there…

Same with this coffee cake…I want it as hot as my coffee…straight out of the oven.

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Prep Work

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Grease and flour 9″ springform or Bundt pan.

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Making the Streusel

  • 1/2C flour
  • 1/4C brown sugar
  • 1-1/2tsp cinnamon
  • 3Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 3/4C chopped walnuts, optional

Combine flour, brown sugar and cinnamon. Note that making your streusel by hand will help make the streusel crunchier.

Cut in butter with a whisk.

Pinch together with your fingers until it forms a crumble.

 

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Making the Cake

  • 2 eggs
  • 2tsp vanilla
  • 1C sour cream
  • 1-1/4C milk
  • 1C sugar
  • 2C flour
  • 1-1/4tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

     

Mix together your wet ingredients—eggs, vanilla, sour cream, and milk.

 

Mix together your dry ingredients—the sugar, flour, baking powder and salt.

Combine the two mixtures. Mix until the batter is smooth, fluffy, and resembles frosting, about two minutes.

Spoon half the batter into the prepared pan.

Sprinkle half of the streusel mixture…about three cups… evenly over batter.

Top with remaining batter.

Spread evenly using a spatula.

Sprinkle the rest of the streusel evenly over the top of the cake..

 

 

 

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Baking Your Coffee Cake

Bake at 350 for about an hour…or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Let cool on a wire rack for at least thirty minutes before carefully transferring the cake, streusel side up, onto a serving plate. 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Amaranth…The How

 

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Now What?!

So now that we have all run to the store and grabbed the biggest bag of amaranth that we could find, you could simply boil the amaranth and eat it plain…but what’s the fun in that?!

What else can we do with amaranth?

You will find that the nutty and toasted flavor of amaranth also works well in many dishes…including breads, muffins, soups…

So let’s get boiling mad in the kitchen and start letting off some steam together…

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Amaranth…The What

The other day as I was making my sandwich for lunch, I noticed that my bread was called “Ancient Grain”…I thought to myself, wonder what that means…hope it doesn’t mean that my bread has been around since ancient times…if that were the case, the bread would probably be stale…and the sandwich would probably make me sick.

So as I did research on out next cooking method—boiling—I found that one of the most commonly boiled foods are grains and have decided to explore this topic of “ancient grains” and grains in general for a while….beginning with amaranth.

 

 

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Ancient Grains

Ancient grains are those grains that existed thousands of years and continue to thrive today….such as amaranth…which has been cultiivaed as far back aa 8,000 years ago.

Aramanth was originally harvested in Mexico and was in fact the central staple of the Aztec empire…possibly making up to 80% of the calories in their regular diets.

 

 

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The Aztecs

The Aztec people  used amaranth for medicinal purposes….believing the grain to had healing powers.

Amaranth also played a significant role in their culture.

They even held an annual festival each December. This festival was a tribute to their god Huitzilopochtli. The Aztecs would prepare for this festival by decorating their homes and trees with paper flags and fasting. The people prepared for the whole month of December, probably like many of us do each December now to pay homage to our God.

During the festival they would sing songs…offer up prayers to this god…and eventually end  the festival  by offering a human sacrifices.

Not only that…they would also make statues of this god out of amaranth seeds and honey….eventually cutting this statue into small pieces and eating it once the feast was over.

In fact, even the name of the grain has religious importance…having been derived from either the Greek word amarantos, meaning “one that does not wither,” or “the never-fading.” …or the Hindi word Amar which translates to the the word “immortal.”

This all took place until the sixteenth century when Cortez “discovered” the Aztec civilization and  Spaniards began moving into the land The Spanish immigrans of this  “Spanish conquest” began fervently,  and often forcefully, trying to convert the Aztecs to Christianity.

They declared any  foods that had previously been involved in “heathen” festivals and religious ceremonies of the Aztec people—such as amaranth—as illegal…burning most of the amaranth plants and heavily punishng anyone caught with the grain.

After this Spanish Conquest, the grain almost went into extinction, but complete eradication of amaranth proved impossible. The seeds from the amaranth plant have in fact spread around the world.

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Amaranth and Your Own Diet

Amaranth has a sweet and nutty taste.

Technically amaranth is not actually a grain at all, but a seed

As far as nutritional value, amaranth is a gluten-free grain that is one of the best protein sources for vegans. Amaranth also contains high amounts of many important amino acids, minerals, and vitamins

Let’s now look more closely at the nutritional value of amaranth….and why the Aztecs believed that amaranth had healing powers…and then we will see how amaranth is a common ingredient in many dishes in the following countries—Mexico, Peru, Guatemala, China, Russia, India, and Nepal,.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making Perfectly A-Peelin’ Boiled Eggs

I play piano for church quite a bit…and have worked with severaql differeent singers and other instrumen talists…

And the one thing I have learned is that the songs that everyone knows and everyone and their brother requests that you sing—such as Amazing Grace and How Great Thou Aft…those songs that you’ve sung or played for only how long now….always end up being the hardest to put together because we take them for granted and each have our own version/expectation that we think that everyone else should prefer also.

The fact that the simpler and most common things are often the most difficult holds true in the cooking world as well.

Most of us have been boiling macaroni since pre-puberty and became brave enough to start boiling eggs the day after that.

You would think that we would all have the art of egg-boiling down well-mastered by now…

But are we really making the most perfect hard-boiled eggs that we could possible make…

Would we even know the perfect hard-boiled eggs if we ever saw it?

 

 

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The Perfect Hard-Boiled Egg

Before we start learning how to make the perfect hard-boiled eggs, let’s first consider what we expect from the perfect hard-boiled eggs…as far as color, the shell, texture, and the yolk.

  • Color…no nasty gray ring around the yolk
  • Texture…firm whites and yolks, but not rubbery
  • The Shell…slips right off, making peeling the eggs quick and easy
  • The Yolk…creamy and mellow

 

 

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Ingredients

Obvously the first thing that you will need to have whenever you are making boilee eggs is an egg. In addition to the eggs, you will need cold water, Ice, and salt.

 

 

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Equipment

As far as quipment, you will need…

  • Large slotted spoon
  • Saucepan or stockpot with a fitted lid
  • Timer
  • Tongs
  • Bowl for the ice water bath once the eggs have boiled
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Prep Work
Place a single layer of uncooked eggs in a large saucepan or stockpot. Do not stack the eggs on top of each other or overcrowd them.

Add enough cool water until there is about an inch of water over the eggs.

Add a pinch of salt.

Cover with a lid.

 

 

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Cooking

bring water to a rolling boil over high heat; Many people claim that adding salt, vinegar or baking soda to the boiling water makes the  eggs not only easier to peel, but also helps them taste better….so if you are going to use any of these, add them now.

Reduce heat to medium-high..

Once the water has reached a rolling boil, set the timer for the desired time. ..typically this will be anywhere from five to sevcen minutes…and boil them.

To be more specific…

  • 3 minutes for very runny soft-boiled eggs with just-set whites
  • 4 minutes for runny soft-boiled eggs
  • 6 minutes for creamy, custard-y “medium”-boiled eggs
  • 8 minutes for firm (but still creamy) hard-boiled eggs
  • 10 minutes for firm hard-boiled eggs
  • 12 minutes for very firm hard-boiled eggs.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

A Watched Pot Never Boils

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

I Don’t Even Know How to Boil Water

You probably alreadty know how to do this cooking method called boiling…most of us have been boiling stuff since we were making our own macaroni and cheese out of a box when we were teenagers…assuming that you were borb before they started making macaroni and cheese is single-serving microwavable cups.

Yet boiling is a cooking method…and our goal at this point is to learn about all of the most commonly used cooking methods…

So let’s talk about boiling for a while.

 

 

 

What is boiling?

Boiling is a moist-heat cooking method that involves immersing food in a liquid that has been heated to 212 degrees F. This hot liquid then transmits its heat to the food being cooked.

This temperature is called the boiling point…the point where the pressure of the liquid equals the pressure exerted on the liquid by the surrounding atmosphere.

As liquids boil, you will see bubbles forming and then exploding on the surface of the liquid.  These bubbles are caused by water vapor rushing to the surface.

The food that you boil should be sturdy enough to withstand the aggressive water without being damaged…because the rough agitation of the water can actually damage the food.

 

Commonly  boiled ingredients include pasta, grains, green vegetables. dried pasta, dried legumes, rice, noodles, potatoes, and eggs.

 

How long you boil the ingredient depends on several facttos—such as what the ingredient is, your personal preference,  how you were brought up….(for example, back in Mississippi we cook our peas along with some bacon practially all day before serving)…how important maintaining the food’s original color, texture, and flavor…whether or not you care if you deplete the nutrients of the ingredient…and so forth…

Ingredients an either be added to cold water and heated along with the water…ior added to the water once the water has already started boilling…depending on the characteristics, of what it is that you are cooking…(more on this later)…