Guest Post by Fortinbras! Peanut Butter Salvation Cookies

Note from Renae: I’ve been promising you Fortinbras’ Christmas post forever, and he decided Easter was as good a time as any to get around to it. (He exists! He exists! I didn’t make him up!) So with no further ado…

heeeeeere’s Fort!

…and just in time for Easter, I Eat Food Presents:
Peanut Butter Salvation Cookies (a delicious story of addiction, decadence, and ultimately redemption)

WET INGREDIENTS:
6 bottles of champagne
1 cup of granulated sugar
1 cup of light brown sugar
2 sticks of margarine (slightly cool and softened)
The equivalent of 2 eggs using egg substitute (we used egg replacer)
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 cup of unsweetened, salted all natural crunchy peanut butter (Crunchy is what the recipe calls for, but smooth can be used instead, really the decision is left to the discretion of the baker. Remember: Life is short, as Jesus has taught us, so you use the type of peanut butter that you desire because, who knows? Tomorrow somebody may want to crucify you and you don’t want to be hanging there wishing you had used the kind of peanut butter that you prefer. Amen)

DRY INGREDIENTS:
2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup of soy milk chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat your oven to 350 and get ready to make the most delicious cookies you have ever eaten in your entire life. Seriously, they are life altering good.

LETS GET STARTED:
Go on ahead and pop open that first bottle of champagne.

Pamper yourself and pour a nice healthy glass and take a big ol’ swig from the bottle, as if you could be, if given the proper circumstances, a rock star or a naughty politician.

Now that we all feel better about life let’s begin to mix together the essential wet ingredients. Mix the sugars, the egg substitute, the vanilla, the margarine and lastly the peanut butter together in a large bowl.

When incorporating the margarine it is very important that it be soft and slightly cool. If the margarine is melted or room temperature your cookies are still going to taste good, but they will be more thin and crisp after baking. Also, the cookies tend to come out better if the peanut butter is added last, I have no idea why this is but I do know it has something to do with physics and viscosity, parallel dimensions and the letter W. VERY SCIENTIFIC COOKIE STUFF, Y’ALL.

By now you should have finished, at the very least, one of your bottles of champagne. So lets open another, shant we? Why yes, yes we shall.

Now, children of the New Testament Era, it is time to sift the flour and the salt and the baking soda together in a bowl of your choosing. So take a few sips, refill that glass and hop to it.

After sifting the dry thangs together, you should be tired, so reward yourself for all of your hard work by taking a long smooth drink of your cool bubbling champagne. Feel free to laugh as the bubbles tickle the back of your tongue and throat, knowing in your heart of hearts that you deserve this moment. Lucky, lucky you.

NOW FOR THE DEAL, THE OPUS, THE SHOW! Grab your wet ingredients and your dry ingredients and get thee to a mixing station! If you are using a hand mixer I am gonna tell you now, there comes a point with this dough, that you will have to get in there with your hands and mix it using the raw power of all ten digits. Don’t be afraid, it will be okay, take a sip of your fourth bottle of champagne and get in there and make that magic happen! Humph! For those of you who own a professional mixer you may want to forgo allowing those ingredients to fornicate together in the relative privacy of the mixing bowl and just pretend that you own a hand mixer and get in there as well. Let’s keep it clean, but let’s not forget to keep it sexy as well. Everyone begin to add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until they form a firm dough.

And for the love of God do not forget to take that fifth bottle of champagne out of the freezer!

Now, at this point you should have a good buzz and a stiff cookie dough going. Form the dough into a ball

And, if you were raised in the circus as I was, feel free to toss it about as if it were a bowling pin or a baby.

But remember, accidents can happen.

So if you are not circusy you should probably just take that ball of dough and put it in a bowl and chill it in the fridge for 15 to 20 minutes. Use this time to prep your cookie sheets with parchment paper or tin foil, again, remember the cross, and do what you prefer. LET THERE BE NO REGRETS DURING YOUR CRUCIFIXION!

15 minutes and one bottle of champagne later:

IT IS TIME TO GET TO SMOOSHIN’!

By now you should have lost the pretense of the glass and you should be drinking long and deep directly from the bottle, you should also be removing the ball of dough from the fridge and getting out a tablespoon sized scooping apparatus from your drawer of apparati. Now get your cookie sheet in front of you and get that scoop in your hand and I want you to take a very healthy tablespoon sized scoop from your ball of dough using your scooping apparatus of choice and then I want you to roll that scoop of dough between your palms until it is in the shape of a ball.

I suggest that you start with eight scoops on your first tray, spacing them evenly until you gage how much your dough will spread during baking.

Now that you have your dough balls spaced evenly on your baking sheet I want you to smoosh them down slightly, giving each potential cookie a little smack down.

Next place 1 to 3 soy milk chocolate chips in the center of each of the smooshed down dough balls.

Now it is time to raise your bottle and your adorned cookie sheet in celebration of the fact that you have come this far. You are very intelligent and gifted, by this point in the recipe you should already be aware of this.

NOW, very carefully, (because by now if you have been following this recipe to a tee, you are drunk) place the baking sheet with your unbaked smooshed down cookie dough upon it onto the middle rack of your oven and remember to close the door .

You are going to want to bake these cookies for 13 to 16 minutes depending upon your oven, if you have a slow oven you may need to bake them even longer. After you get a feel for how the dough bakes you can increase or decrease the temperature of your oven if you feel that it is necessary. Baking times are so inconsistent between ovens that I refuse to draw a hard line where time and temperature are concerned. Just know this: These cookies aren’t going to be golden brown; at the golden brown stage after they have cooled they tend to be a little over done, still more delicious than any other cookie on the planet, but a little over done. Instead, I recommend that all bakers everywhere should shoot for finding that point where they are simply cooked thoroughly. I find that tasting the first tray of cookies, even if it means that you have to eat them all, can reveal the subtleties of the cooking process that will give you the information necessary to bake these Peanut Butter Salvation Cookies to perfection, just the way Jesus would.

HAPPY EASTER EVERYONE!

Fort out – it’s Renae again. I CAN’T BELIEVE OF ALL THE PICTURES OF ME FROM THAT DAY I SUPPLIED HIM WITH, HE CHOSE THE ONE CALLED “VERY UGLY RENAE.JPG”. Why is he my best friend again? Oh yeah, because he’s hilarious. And also he thinks it’s okay for us to drink six bottles of champagne while doing all of his holiday baking. And also “very ugly Renae.jpg” was probably one of the least horrible looking photos of me in the batch. (I’ll never let very ugly Renae-2.jpg get out to the public, boy.) Yes, I love Fortinbras. But since he didn’t include any of the nice pictures of the ole Tiggster from that day, I shall:

Tigger used to always hang out with us during parties, no matter how raucous we got. Brachtune, on the other hand, doesn’t know what to make of us when we get rowdy and tends to hole up in a safe place:

And with that, I wish you all a happy Easter as well!

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Sma-Ramen

I don’t really have an intro for this one. I wanted to use up the rest of the cheddar Teese and dreamt up a sort of Smark-Os made with ramen. (I didn’t actually look at the Smark-Os recipe until after I’d made this dish and was surprised how similar they are.) When Mark asked what it was I said, “it’s Smark-Os made with ramen, so I guess it’s smark-ramen…smar-ramen….Sma-ramen!” (rhymes with shamen!)

Sma-Ramen

2 large shallots or 1/2 large onion, minced
6 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 stalk celery, minced
1 carrot, minced
1/2 tsp red chili pepper flakes
1/8 tsp fennel seeds
2 cups vegan “beef” broth
1 14.5 ounce can tomato sauce
2 frozen basil cubes, or 1/4 tsp dried basil
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 package vegan ramen noodles (chuka soba)
1/3-1/2 cup shredded vegan cheddar cheese – use a nice melty sort
vegan Parmesan or Dragonfly’s Bulk, Dry Uncheese Mix, for topping (optional)

Mince the shallot or onion, celery, carrot, and garlic. Shred the “cheese”.

Heat some olive oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the shallots and fry for two minutes. Add the garlic and fry for a few seconds. Add the carrots and celery, as well as the red pepper flakes and the fennel seeds. Fry for 7 minutes or until veggies are soft.

Add the “beef” broth and bring to a boil.

Add the tomato sauce and basil; bring to a boil again. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the ramen, breaking into pieces if so desired. Cook for two minutes.

Add the shredded “cheese” and stir. Cook for three more minutes.

Swirl the ramen around a chopstick to help it break up and cook evenly.

Ramen should take about 5 minutes to cook thoroughly.

Serve, sprinkling with vegan Parmesan or the “uncheese” mix if desired.

This was darn tasty and very fast. Vegan “hot dogs” would not be unwelcome in this dish.

The Toonse continues to wear her cone. One thing that makes me feel especially bad for her is she can’t properly groom herself and I know that’s got to be driving her mad. That and having had a fractured wrist when I was 13, I know how frustrating it is to experience the itch you just can’t scratch. And at least I could stick a pencil down my cast! So I think it’s important for me to give her at least a couple of hours a day without it, even if I have to stand over her and monitor her constantly the entire time to make sure she doesn’t dig at her ears. Which she does, almost immediately after I remove the cone. But I cleaned her up real good tonight and afterwards she wasn’t quite as itchy. And she had the chance to eat a meal without having to awkwardly maneuver her mouth out of the cone, and then clean herself up to her satisfaction afterwards.

I know she really appreciated the break.

When she has the cone on, I can tell her mouth feels really itchy because she wants to clean it so badly.

I don’t think I really gave much thought before to how a cat would feel if deprived of the opportunity to groom herself.

I think they’d feel much the same as I would feel if I weren’t allowed to shower.

So I feel it’s important to give her this chance each day.

Until it results in this:

Also,

Happy Birthday, handsome. I miss you, buddy.

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Grilled Romaine, Broiled BBQ Tofu, and Sweet Shallot Mustard Dressing

Craving salad, I sort of went overboard with the romaine lettuce the other night. I bought both hearts of romaine and baby romaine, and although Mark and I have been having big salads for dinner every night for three nights, I still have more romaine than you can shake a fork at. Short of eating tossed salad three meals a day, I was wondering what to do with it all, when I remembered one night last summer when our friends Luke and Lanet invited us over for a grilling extravaganza. Lanet loves to cook as much as I do and visiting their house for dinner is always a treat because although she’s not vegan, she likes to experiment and is always trying new vegan dishes out on me. On this night in particular, she was grilling just about every vegetable imaginable, including romaine hearts. Mark and I thought that grilling lettuce was very avant-garde, but it was really good. We don’t have a real grill here, but I do have a George Foreman, so I thought I’d try grilling up some romaine on that. It worked pretty well, though Lanet’s was better.

Grilled Romaine Hearts

1 -3 romaine hearts, depending how many servings you’d like (a serving is 1/2 a heart)
1 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp sesame sauce
1/2 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cider vinegar
1 piece of ginger, size of a child’s pinkie finger
3-4 drops sriracha

Mix together all ingredients except lettuce in a small bowl.

Chop the romaine hearts in half lengthwise.

Rub your (clean!) hands in the marinade, then rub the lettuce all over with it.

Place two halves at a time on an indoor electric grill (only one half is pictured here because Mark is working late so I saved his half for later):

Close the grill and cook for about 3 minutes or until lettuce is wilted and beginning to brown.

I hardly ever buy tofu. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I did, other than the other week when I was I recovering from my trip to Australia and didn’t think I’d have time to make it, so I picked some up at Super H while I was there. I haven’t needed it and it was about to expire, so I decided I’d use it up tonight. I thought I’d broil it in a barbecue sauce similar to the ole pork chop sauce. It’d have been better with homemade, but it was decent.

Broiled Barbecue Tofu

1 lb extra-firm tofu
1-2 Tbsp sesame oil
1/2 cup brown sugar (loosely packed unless you like your sauces pretty sweet)
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp salt
1 can crushed or diced tomatoes
sriracha to taste

Preheat the broiler on high.

You can press the tofu if you’d like. My homemade tofu doesn’t need pressing, and this Asian brand was very firm, so I didn’t bother. Slice it into thick slabs like this:

In a broiler-proof pan, preferably cast iron, pour 1 to 2 tablespoons of sesame oil, then place the tofu slabs in the pan in a single layer, turning them over to coat both sides in the oil.

Place under the broiler and broil for 10-15 minutes or until golden on top. Flip each piece over and return pan to broiler.

Meanwhile, whisk together the remaining ingredients except the tomatoes.

Add the tomatoes, and unless you are using already-crushed tomatoes, whir an immersion blender through them a few times. It doesn’t need to be too smooth.

When the tofu is beginning to blacken, remove from the broiler.

Pour the sauce onto the tofu and make sure it’s evenly coated. This photo isn’t out of focus so much as the pan was just very hot and steamy:

Place pan back in oven and cook for another 3-5 minutes or until sauce begins to thicken:

Okay, so I grilled some romaine and got one of the hearts out of the way, but I still had a bunch of baby romaine left over, so I made a side salad as well. SO MUCH LETTUCE. I thought a good mustardy dressing would go well with the barbecue flavors of the other dishes, so I made:

Sweet Shallot Mustard Dressing

1 small shallot
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
juice of 1/4 lemon
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 scant Tbsp agave nectar
pinch of salt
pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Place all ingredients in small food processor or chopper.

Process until smooth. (If you don’t have a food processor, just mince the shallot finely and combine all ingredients.)

Enjoy on a tossed salad.

And here’s the whole meal:

It was pretty quick and easy to throw together, although the whole tofu broiling business was a little more involved than I’d have liked. Namely, it took a lot longer than I was anticipating and also the house got pretty smoky. I think I’ll probably just stick to baking or pan frying.

Another issue with broiling the tofu was my cast iron skillet needed special cleaning. Now, I am very attached to my cast iron skillet. It’s an antique and it’s seasoned to perfection. I’m probably somewhere on the midpoint of anal retentiveness when it comes to cleaning it, though. On one hand, I would consider murdering anyone who dared put soap on it or soaked it or tried to scrub it. On the other hand, although you are supposed to clean cast iron while it is still warm from preparing the meal – that means before you sit down to eat – I refuse to eat cold meals. (This fact also explains why my pictures of my plated meals are usually so crappy; I hate spending precious time trying to make them look artistic or good.) Clean-up after my meals is pretty easy because I wash all my prep stuff while I’m cooking, but the final pots and pans always sit on the stove while the meal is consumed, then any leftovers are removed and put away and the pans are cleaned. By then they’ve cooled. My skillet is so well seasoned this hardly ever matters: not much sticks to it. But when I’ve baked something onto it, like broiled barbecue sauce, I need to do something to loosen the baked-on food without scrubbing my seasoning off. It’s really no big deal, though. All you have to do is pour some water into the pan, set it over medium-high heat, let it come to a boil, and boil for a minute or two:

Next – and this is very important – remove any cats that are lurking at your feet between the stove and the sink (mine are ALWAYS there and I don’t want to spill boiling water on them), don a heavy oven mitt, and carry the pan to the sink, pouring out the water.

See that little bit of sauce? It’s all that didn’t get removed when I dumped the water out, and it slid right off when I rinsed the pan briefly – absolutely no scrubbing. Then I dried with a towel (ALWAYS dry cast iron immediately) and spritzed lightly with olive oil.

Honestly, some people think cast iron is high maintenance, but I find it a lot easier to clean than most other things!

And now for a bit of cat news:

Poor Brachtune is a conehead. She somehow got an ear infection and then managed to scratch herself when it got too itchy, so the doctor said she has to wear a cone while it heals up. Sigh. I feel incredibly bad for her about the cone. It’s breaking my heart! Especially since last night I let her take it off while we were hanging out for a few hours and she didn’t try to scratch once. But then when I got home tonight, I took it off and she promptly starting scratching herself. After three chances, the cone went back on.


She looks like Little Kitty on the Prairie here.

After seeing someone ask how to pronounce Brachtune in the comments last time (it’s Brock-toon), my mom suggested that I explain how she got her name. But this post has been really long, so I’ll save it for next time. So you have that to look forward to!

Finally, tomorrow – April 1 – would have been Tigger’s 16th birthday. My sweet April Fool. I miss him more than you can imagine.

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