Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Highlights from this summer's garden

Most of the summer garden is gone as the days have grown shorter and the temperatures cooler.  Although the garden got off to a slow start because of a cool spring, production picked up and we were not disappointed with the variety in our harvests.  Here are some of my favorite garden photos from this year.

Sunflowers were abundant in the garden this year, and beautiful from both the front and back view.

Colorful lima beans

A day's harvest #1

A day's harvest #2

A day's harvest #3

A day's harvest #4

A day's harvest #5

Soy beans

Zinnia glamour shot

I hope you enjoyed the photos as much as I enjoyed taking them.  

Thanks for reading!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Discovering aquafaba - Vegan Lemon Pound Cake

Pound cake is a favorite dessert from my childhood, and every family seems to have a prized recipe.  My Aunt Carolyn makes one of the best as does my friend Lisa.  Now, how to make this delicious treat vegan friendly...

I was inspired by Popsugar's recipe for a vegan version of Starbuck's lemon pound cake and research into aquafaba (canned chickpea water) as an egg substitute.  Vegan baking can have mixed results as the chemistry isn't always quite right when you substitute for an ingredient like eggs, let alone all the dairy products in a recipe.  The finished recipe can sometimes be quite dense and sometimes more soggy than the original version; usually still edible, but not always as satisfying as imagined. That being said, I've had mostly good success with my vegan baking adventures because I do so much research to learn from others' mistakes beforehand.  I am happy that the aquafaba worked well and that I again have a great pound cake recipe for special occasions.

Vegan Lemon Pound Cake

makes 12 slices

Lemon cake:
1 1/2 cups unsweetened non-dairy milk
2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
2/3 cup almond meal (ground raw almonds)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
1 1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup oil (coconut, olive, canola)
2/3 cup aquafaba (water drained from canned chickpeas)
Juice from half a small lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
grated lemon rind from half a small lemon
2 teaspoons almond extract

Lemon Icing:
1 cup powdered sugar
Juice from half a small lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
grated lemon rind from half a small lemon
1 -3 teaspoons non-dairy milk

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. 
  2. Lightly oil or spray a large loaf pan.
  3. In the medium bowl add the milk, aquafaba, vinegar, oil, lemon juice, and vanilla extract, grated lemon rind and mix well.
  4. Make a well in your dry ingredients, pour in the wet and stir until just combined and fairly smooth. 
  5. Pour batter into the prepared loaf pan, and bake for 45-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  6. Let sit for about 10 minutes before removing from the pan to cool thoroughly on a wire rack.
  7. Whisk together the powdered sugar, lemon juice and rinding for the icing and drizzle in just enough milk until you have a smooth icing that is not too thin.  
  8. Drizzle icing on top of the completely cool cake.

I'll definitely be ready with this cake next spring when the strawberries are ripe in the garden to make a strawberry shortcake.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Resource Library - when creativity needs inspiration

Some of my tools for creativity:  books, magazines, videos and art supplies

I'm always looking for a good book or website to get my creative spark ignited and get the next project going.  Every room of our house seems to be filled with books of one kind or another, tablets with access to ebook selections, blogs and podcasts and the Internet have all become our endless library that is open 24 hours a day.  My favorites are still books from second hand book shops, thrift stores, online used book sellers and The Book Thing in Baltimore, MD.  These provide me with frugal ways to keep my collection refreshed as well as an outlet to give retired selections a new home.  There are so many options that I sometimes have a hard time narrowing down my choices so I have time to actually to read them all or create the projects they inspire, but I enjoy taking in as much as I can.

I wanted to share some of my favorites with you so I created a resource library page on the Resourceful Cookie website.  You'll find my favorites cookbooks, gardening references, books on art techniques and inspiration of all kinds.  I'll keep updatng it as I find new resources, so check back from time to time.

If you have favorite books, movies or websites please share in the comments below.  I'm always looking for something new to explore and share with others.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Adventures in creativity: mixed media collage

My workspace during class time at the Smithsonian

This year has turned into one with a variety of unexpected creative adventures.  I have been exploring collage and mixed media art in more depth.  I am working on an online course, “30 Days of Collage” by Stephanie Levy. The course is filled with guest artist interviews and exercises to explore new techniques.  Luckily, it is a self-paced course as it is looking like my 30 days is turning into what might be 300 days.  The course officially ended in May, but I’m only about halfway through the material, fitting it in as I can.  I really enjoy carving out whatever time I can to immerse myself completely making a mess while thoroughly enjoying the process.

Here are a few samples of my completed assignments:

Pieces completed as exercises in the 30 Days of Collage course

I had been enjoying my online class so much, I started looking for a classroom experience.  I found the 6-week "Collage and Mixed Media" class taught by Marcie Wolf-Hubbard offered at The Smithsonian Associates.  I had no idea that the Smithsonian had so many classes from cooking to art to science.  It’s very inspiring  to enter the museum education center deep under the museum buildings and peek into the open doorways to see everyone working at easels and tables concentrating on learning their craft.  My class is made up of about a dozen students from novice to professional studio artists. It is so exciting to watch our different interpretations and applications of the lessons we learn.  So far, I only have a few projects completed with lots of others in various stages of completion as I'm finding this more an exercises in learning technique than making completed pieces.  Here is a sampling from my class work:

Smithsonian mixed media class work

And finally, my 2015 mixed media sketchbook from The Sketchbook Project that will reside in the Brooklyn Art Library has been digitized and can be viewed here.  The sketchbook is currently on a mobile national tour and will be back in Brooklyn, NY in the fall.  If you ever end up in New York City, you can take a subway ride over to Brooklyn and check out the sketchbooks in person.  In the meantime, you can see them all online.  

2015 Sketchbook cover

I have always had a passion for creating things by hand, and I’m really been enjoying this journey into mixed media.  I can’t wait to see where it leads.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Mid-summer garden tour

Raspberries, blackberries, string beans, potatoes, garlic scapes

Why is it that the day that I have time to do some much needed work in the garden, it is supposed to be the hottest day of the summer so far?  So I was outside at 7am trying to get done before the sun could do me in, but there was no escaping the oppressive humidity.

This year’s garden seems to be taking its sweet time to produce.  We had a late warm up for spring other than a brief abnormally summer-like hot couple of weeks early on and the heat now returning full blast.  We’ve had more rain than ever, recording the wettest June in the DC area in recorded history.  To further confound garden success, there has been a noticeable decline in the bee population and the flowers just don’t seem to be getting pollinated.  The foliage is beautifully lush from the rains, but fruit production so far has been lighter than in the past years.  This just makes me more aware how difficult it would be if we needed to produce enough food to be self sufficient.  

Views of some of the raised garden beds: 1 - eggplant, soybeans; 2 - tomatoes; 3 - squash, popcorn

The season still has plenty of time to unfold through July, August and into September.  I’m holding out hope that harvests will be more abundant in the coming months. In the meantime, I spent time getting the last spent plants from spring cleaned out and then planting for late summer and fall harvests.  Out with the straggly overwintered and spring plantings of peas, kale, collards, cilantro and lettuces that had bolted.  In went seeds for carrots, onions, a second crop of soybeans and lettuces that don’t mind a little heat.   

I hope you enjoy these few highlights from the garden this year:

Fruit and vegetable harvests

Eggplant, cucumber, patty pan squash, garlic scapes, basil, pineapple mint tarragon, garlic, green, purple and wax string beans

Eggplant, tomatoes, heirloom squash, green and purple string beans, Asian long and Asian broad beans







Thanks for reading!