serious business

As I head into week five (six?) of law school, things are starting to get serious.

Three legal pads full of writing assignments and case briefs, a comprehensive midterm one week away, my favorite book bag discarded because it wasn’t up to hauling around 80+ pounds of books at a time —

of course, all of this pales in comparison to Second Grade.

There is soccer practice, as evidenced by the tangle of shoes and shorts I stumbled over the other night.

team purple

There is science!, which means there are petri dishes and vials, slides and cover slips, tweezers and specimens — all scattered across the kitchen table for long, indefinite stretches of time.

science!

Nina and I took a break from our serious endeavors to make this cake.

rosemary chocolate cake rosemary chocolate olive oil cake

Olive oil cake with bittersweet chocolate and rosemary

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Another adaptation from my rainy day, desert island, if I could only choose one cookbook, Good to the Grain.

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Olive oil for the pan
3/4 cup almond meal flour
1 1/2 cups spelt flour
3/4 cup natural cane sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
3/4 cup plain, unsweetened soy milk
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons plain, unsweetened soy yogurt
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate (60-70% cacao), chopped into 1/2-inch pieces

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 F / 180 C. Oil a 9 1/2-inch fluted tart pan. If your pan does not have a removable bottom, line the bottom with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder and soda, salt, and rosemary. In another bowl, whisk together the soy milk, olive oil, yogurt and apple cider vinegar. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, gently mixing until incorporated. Fold in the chocolate. Pour the batter into the pan and smooth out the top. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the edges have started to brown and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool before cutting — unless you don’t mind an ooey gooey mess of chocolate.

Prep time: 10 minutes | Cook time: 40 minutes

Moonlighting

Something I don’t think I’ve shared on here is that I moonlight in the recipe business, developing and testing recipes for vegan, vegetarian and omni cookbook authors. Sometimes, I conceive and develop original (always vegan/often gluten free) recipes; other times, I join a group of individuals who are testing an author’s own material. For obvious reasons, I don’t post any of the recipes – mine or theirs – before a manuscript is published.

During the development/testing phase, I cull my favorites for easy access into a clearly marked folder with every intention of sharing them when the time is right. It’s a thick folder, the spine wearing thin and papers trying to burst from the confines of the industrial strength rubber band holding it all together. It’s an ignored folder, one that is added to often, pulled down when I want to make a favorite recipe, and then re-shelved on my kitchen bookshelf where it melts back into obscurity.

All that is to say that I’m going to make an effort to share more with you from my recipe testing archive, recipes I’ve made so many times that I usually don’t even need to reach for my disintegrating folder, let alone the actual cookbook.

It’s pumpkin season around here, and since winter squash is one of the few things I don’t actually grow on my own little farm, we get very excited about making the rounds to pumpkin patches, the farmers’ market, our co-op, the farm across the road, and my in-laws garden. That’s a lot of squash, folks. And a lot of squash seeds. And thanks to Dynise, I know exactly what to do with them.

Candied squash seeds
Adapted from Celabrate Vegan by Dynise Balcavage

Seeds from butternut and other winter squash can be used in place of pumpkin seeds, if you have them. This recipe is easily be doubled or tripled, just be sure that your pan is big enough to accommodate the increased volume.

1 cup fresh pumpkin seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted
1/2 cup muscovado sugar
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano
¼ teaspoon fine grain salt
1 tablespoon coconut oil

Preheat the oven to 350 F / 175 C. Clean the seeds and pat them dry. Spread them out in a single layer on a parchment-lined or lightly oiled baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes, until lightly toasted and golden.

While the pumpkin seeds are cooling, toast the cumin seeds over medium heat in a dry skillet until fragrant, about five minutes. Grind the seeds. In a small bowl, sift together the sugar, ground cumin, minced herbs and salt.

In a deep pot, heat the coconut oil over medium heat. Add the sugar mixture and pumpkin seeds and stir to combine – it will be clumpy. Increase the heat to medium/high and stir often. Over the next five to seven minutes, the sugar mixture will first take on a sandy appearance, then caramelize, clinging to the seeds. As soon as this happens, turn off the heat and transfer the seeds back to the baking sheet. The candied seeds will harden as they cool.

Yield: One heaping cup