Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Strawberry Biscuits

It has been such an intense week already, and it's not even Wednesday night yet. When I got home from work Monday, I was set on having the most relaxing night every. I ordered sesame tofu from a takeout place down the street, put on my PJs by 6PM, and spent a few hours catching up on a back log of blog posts I had been meaning to read and reading Game of Thrones. The relaxation took its toll, and I went to bed really early. Out of pure exhaustion I did something I never do and left my laptop and bag downstairs in the living room, because I could only carry myself and my blanket up the stairs. I woke up early Tuesday morning to go to work, after showering and heading downstairs to grab my lunch, I realized that someone had dumped all the contents of my bag on the couch and the canvas bag was missing. I went into the kitchen to grab another canvas bag and noticed that the rest were missing too. In my still waking up haze I thought someone had needed all the bags to grocery shopping and started to head towards the door. As I was unlocking the front door, I realized that my bike was missing. Some friends had been playing a late night game of kickball the night before and I assumed that someone had borrowed my bike to make it home. I also thought that maybe my housemates were playing a joke on me for going to bed so early yet again. It wasn't until I got in my car and went to grab gas money out of my wallet that I realized something was horribly wrong. My wallet was open, and all the money I had gotten from the ATM the night before was missing. I bolted from the car, went back inside, and realized the house had been pulled apart. Sofa cushions were overturned, shelves had things knocked off and pulled out. I went upstairs to wake up my other housemates. We started tallying up all the things that were missing. Among them were a few bikes, my laptop, an Xbox and several games, the money from my wallet, an ipod, a few bottles of alcohol, and a few other random things like running shoes and canvas shopping bags. We waited around for a few hours while we answered the police's questions and watched them dust for fingerprints.
It seems like they broke in through a window and unlocked the back door. They probably had a car in the alley behind the house. We eventually figured out that we had been robbed sometime been midnight and 2am when another housemate came home from the kickball game. He probably scared them off, which is why they left several things that they had moved but not managed to get out of the house. I spent most of the day thinking about how terrifying it is to have people in your house, while you and your friends/family are sound asleep. How easy it would have been to hurt any of us. How violated I felt. I spent most of the afternoon reading and trying to distract myself, I warned the few neighbors that I saw on the streets to check their locks and windows and texted a few friends who live in the same neighborhood as us.
I slept at my partner's house last night because I knew it would make me feel a little safer. This morning I came home, intent on cleaning up the house and baking something comforting. I had settled on strawberry biscuits and just finished chopping the strawberries. I realized that my flour jar was empty and started to look through some shelves near the back door for an unopened sack. I spotted a canvas grocery bag and grabbed it. There wasn't flour inside, but I had found my laptop! After a minute of staring at it in disbelief, I set it down and found the flour too.

These strawberry biscuits are really comforting and likely to make you feel like your day is getting better, but probably not as good as mine. I was too excited to take the time to cut the biscuits and re-roll the dough, so I just sliced them as one would scones. It worked for me.

leaves and flours vegan strawberry biscuits

Vegan Strawberry Biscuits
recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen

2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup evaporated cane juice
1 tablespoon baking powder
6 tablespoons Earth Balance
1 cup chopped strawberries
1 cup full fat canned coconut milk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine dry ingredients. Cut in Earth Balance with two knives or a pastry cutter. Toss strawberries in flour mixture until evenly coated. Pour coconut milk over the dry and slowly fold until just mixed. It's important to not overwork the dough. On a lightly floured surface, press out the dough to less an inch thick. Either cut with a bench scraped into wedges or with a cookie cutter to make round biscuits. Brush tops with additional coconut milk and sprinkle with Turbinado. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the biscuits are golden brown.

These are not the sweetest biscuits. The Earth Balance makes them taste quite savory. I also added a half teaspoon of salt to cut the sweetness even further, but I am not sure that I would do that again. If you like sweet breads, I would definitely play with the sugar ratio a bit more. I've had a lot of success at making cream scones with just coconut milk, so that might be another option to take. It will also make the process a few minutes faster since you won't have to cut the Earth Balance into the flour. If you want to attempt that I would add an extra quarter cup of coconut milk to the dough.
I hope that no one else is having the sort of week that I am. But it's a good reminder that we can all be a little more careful. I'm going to finally get renter's insurance and back up my hard drive for once. Last night we installed a new heavy duty lock on the gate to the alley and took a few minutes to check the locks on all the windows. Stay safe and if you are having a rough day, maybe these biscuits will help turn it around for you too.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Peaches & Cream Popsicles

leaves and flours vegan peaches and cream popsicle

It's been so hot lately. With the temperature reaching ninety plus degrees a few days in a row, I finally understand the phrase "if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen." The sun shining in the bakery's glass windows acts like a green house, and when combined with the heat from the ovens, it's impossible for the air conditioning to have much of an effect. So when I get home from a long day of heat, the last thing I want to do is turn on the oven and bask in it's warmth. Instead, I break out the blender and make popsicles!
I bought my first set of popsicle molds last summer but never really put them to use. I remember making popsicles from some juice I had squeezed but didn't want to drink all of immediately. Over the winter I created an ever-lengthening list of flavors that I plan on making throughout the summer. The first was peaches & cream. It's really so easy, that you don't need a recipe, but I will give you the guidelines that I followed. The nice thing about popsicles is that unlike most baked goods, it's pretty hard to screw them up!

Peaches & Cream Popsicles
makes ~6 popsicles, varies by size of molds

10 oz frozen peaches
6 oz yogurt (I used Whole Soy peach yogurt)
1/4 cup milk of choice (I used vanilla almond milk)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine peaches, milk, and 4 oz of the yogurt in a blender. Mix until desired consistency is achieved. I blended mine until it was smooth, but feel free to leave small chunks of peaches if that consistency is desired. In a small bowl, whisk vanilla extract into remaining yogurt. Spoon the peach mixture into the molds until they are half full, then add a few teaspoons of vanilla, then top off with peach. Using a chopstick or skewer, slightly swirl the layers into each other.
Let freeze 3 hours before attempting to remove from molds. Run each popsicle under warm water before attempting to pull them out. Alternately, if you don't have popsicle molds use small paper cups and cut them off once frozen.

leaves and flours vegan peaches and cream popsicle

What's your favorite popsicle flavor? Do you prefer your popsicles really fruity and simple or do you like creamy flavors?