Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Honey Vs. Agave Nectar

Ah, the great veg*n debate. I use both, interchangeably. Honey doesn't bother me as much as it does other herbivores, and I think that's mainly because I know where my honey comes from. I know the bees (they visit my backyard often), I know the man who collects their wonderfulness (he lives down the way) and I know that he loves his little stripy friends*. I don't know where my Agave nectar comes from, other than Mexico. I think it's the ingrained Locavore** mentality I grew up with that makes me more willing to use the honey from less than 10 miles away than the Agave nectar from a whole different country.
Still, Agave nectar is pretty yummy! I prefer it to honey in some teas for it's less pronounced flavor, and it kicks ass drizzled over fresh fruit. Then there's the low glycemic load. For a fat chick, it's always a plus to find a natural sweetener that fits my food plan***.
The caveat with Agave nectar is that in some applications I tend to use much more to get the same result as honey, so it kinda cancels out the benefits.

*Seriously. I watched the man cradle a dying queen bee and cry. He talked to her the whole time and thanked her for her children, and buried her in the lilac bushes.
**Upcoming blog post on this!
**Yes, by the by, I know about and use Stevia. In tea. I haven't found another way I like it, it has an icky aftertaste to me.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

January's Ingredient: Corn Meal

Corn Meal. I think it's one of the most versatile dry goods you can stock. As corn meal mush cereal, Indian pudding, corn bread, corn muffins, coating for fried foods, antifungal for your feet, your scalp and your plants, exfoliant for your skin, drying flowers and natural pest control, it's one of the most useful items you can have in the house.

Recipe 1: Good old Corn bread, regular and vegan style.

2 cups cornmeal
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar, or as desired
1 1/2 cups milk, buttermilk or soured milk
2 large eggs
5 tablespoons butter, melted

Grease a 9-inch square baking pan. Heat oven to 400°.
In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.

In another bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, and butter. Combine the two mixtures and stir until blended. Spoon into the prepared pan. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center.

From VegWeb: Cathie's Southern-Style Corn Bread

Cathie's Southern-Style Cornbread


1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2-3/4 cup sugar (I like mine really sweet so I use 3/4 cup)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon EnerG egg replacer powder (do not premix with water)
1 1/2 cups vegan buttermilk (1 tablespoon vinegar in a measuring cup and rest nondairy milk), divided
1/3 cup oil
1/4 cup very warm water
nonstick spray or vegetable shortening
to grease the pan


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place skillet into the oven to heat up. Sift together all dry ingredients.

2. Pour the oil, 1 cup of the "buttermilk", and the water into the dry ingredients and whisk to combine. The batter should be somewhat thin and puffy (i.e. the leavening agents should really be working), if not add the other 1/2 cup of "buttermilk". To be honest I always need all 1 1/2 cups.

3. Carefully remove skillet from the oven and spray really well with nonstick spray. Pour the batter into the skillet. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until a inserted toothpick comes clean.

4. Let cool for a few minutes and then carefully flip the cornbread onto a plate. Eat and Enjoy!!!

Recipe/Tip 2: Scalp Treatment

Mix a handful of cornmeal with your regular shampoo and scrub it in really well. Don't do this with every shampoo, one a month should be enough, unless you have a nasty case of dandruff or scalp sores. Even then, once a week should suffice.

Recipe 3: To dry Flowers

2 parts cornmeal to 1 part Borax
I find that if you have a plastic shoe box size tote, 4 cups of cornmeal to 2 cups of Borax works great. Mix the cornmeal and Borax together and spread a 2 inch layer in the bottom of the box. Cut the flower stems short, like an inch long, and lay your flowers on the mix, making sure to gently spread the petals as flat as possible. cover the flowers with with another inch or so of the mix, and cover the box. Tight. Make sure to put it in a place where it will stay at fairly even room temperature and won't be disturbed, then leave it for about a month, NO PEEKING! They retain color and shape very well this way, and are perfect for art and crafts.

Recipe 4: Indian Pudding
Yum, yum, yum!
This is a treat from my childhood, a delicious dessert from the Colonial folks.

Indian Pudding

4 cups milk
½ cup cornmeal
2 Tbsp. butter
½ cup molasses
½ cup maple syrup (preferably Grade B)
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. ginger
Pinch nutmeg
2 eggs, well beaten

Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter a 2-quart casserole dish.

In a medium pot, bring milk to a gentle simmer. Very slowly whisk in cornmeal briskly to prevent clumping. Cook for 20 minutes, adjusting heat to maintain a gentle simmer, until mixture has thickened and coats the back of a spoon well. Remove from heat. Stir in the butter, molasses, maple syrup, salt, and spices until well blended. Temper the eggs, meaning slowly whisk in about ¼ cup of the hot pudding mixture to the beaten eggs, then return tempered mixture to the pot. This prevents the eggs from scrambling.

Pour mixture into a buttered casserole dish and bake about 1½ hours, until center is set (the center will still be soft, but you don’t want it to look liquidy). Set the casserole dish in a larger pan, then pour boiling water into the outer pan until it reaches halfway up the sides of the pudding dish. Let sit at least 20 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream or just milk.

New England Indian Pudding
8 servings, Total Time: 1 hour

Delicious hot or cold.
This is a colonial favorite; the molasses and maple syrup give this delicious pudding it's charastic New England flavor.


1 1/4 cups lite silken tofu (extra firm)
1/2 cup molasses( mild)
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
4 cups plain soy milk
1 cup cornmeal

Preheat oven to 350°,lightly oil 2 qt. baking dish.

Place tofu in food processor or mixing bowl and blend until smooth. Add molasses, maple syrup and cinnamon, blend and set aside.

Place 2 cups of the soymilk in a medium saucepan and pour cornmeal in gradually, whisking to blend. Using a spoon, continue to stir continually over medium heat, bringing the mixture to a boil. Add the remaining 2 cups of soymilk and continue to stir and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes.

Add cormeal mixture to the tofu and, using processor or mixer, blend until smooth. Pour pudding into prepared baking dish. Set the baking dish in a larger pan, then pour boiling water into the outer pan until it reaches halfway up the sides of the pudding dish. Bake for 45 minutes.

Pudding will seem liquid but will firm up as it cools. Serve warm.

Recipe 5: Corn Meal Mush
Filling, hearty and warming, a great breakfast, supper for an invalid or convalescent, or after a hard day in the cold.

From the Hillbilly Housewife, my favorite recipe. as she says, " Of all the breakfast cereals you can buy, this one is the least expensive."
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup cold tap water
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups hot tap water
In a small bowl, combine the cornmeal and cold tap water. Meanwhile, in a 2 quart pan, combine the salt and hot water. Bring it to a boil over high heat. While the water is heating, add the cornmeal mixed with the cold water. Combining the cornmeal with cool water before adding it to the boiling water keeps the cornmeal from lumping up when it hits the hot water. When the water and cornmeal boil, reduce the heat to low. Allow the mush to simmer for about 10 minutes, or until it is nicely thickened. If your cornmeal is less than fresh, you may add half a tablespoon of sugar to make it taste fresher and sweeter. This is very hearty for breakfast, and also makes a nice snack in the middle of the day. This recipe serves 4 to 6 people depending on how hungry they are.

Serve as you like, with butter and cheese, Noochesan, molasses and milk, or just butter/margarine and salt.

See? So versatile!

Stay tuned, I haven't decided what next moth's ingredient is yet.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Wow. It's been a whole year?!

I started this blog with awesome intentions, and then...It's been a really kaka year for me, and I am SO over 2010.

I am now an herbivore.

I will be posting recipes which can be omni-fied, and some meat recipes, cuz I live with two meat-eaters and cook for them as well as me.

I'd like to try an ingredient-of-the-month feature, and see what people think.