Monday, October 10, 2011

Peanut Butter and Apple Sandwich

When Dan, a friend from college, came to visit us, he brought a jar of peanut butter as a gift.  Here's what we've been doing with it:

  • 2 Slices Whole wheat bread
  • Apple Slices
  • Honey

Spread peanut butter on one slice of bread.  Top with apple slices.  Spread honey on other slice of bread, put on top of apple slices.

The best honey is raw honey because it's generally thicker.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Vegan Shoo Fly Cake

This recipe is from the Vegetarian Resource Group's Vegan Handbook, an old but classic book full of delicious recipes, including homemade gluten and vegan baked goods, like this cake.

I'm Pennsylvania Dutch, and I can attest that this cake really does taste like Shoo Fly Pie.  Since it omits the crust, it takes less than ten minutes to put together.  Fast and delicious.

The key ingredient here is molasses.  It's tough to find in Mexican grocery stores, but they sell it very cheap in cane sugar refineries (ingenios azucareros).  So if you live in Veracruz, Chiapas, Oaxaca, or any other sugar-producing state, this cake is for you.  Since I've never seen anyone cook with molasses in Mexico, Vegan Shoo Fly Cake will impress all of your friends.


  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (in a pinch you can use white flour)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, azucar mascabado, or other granulated sweetener
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup soft margarine (or butter for non-vegan version)
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  1. Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl.
  2. Cut in margarine until mixture resembles a fine crumb.  If you don't have a french pastry cutter, cut the margarine into several pieces, toss the pieces into the dry ingredients, and start mixing the margarine into the dry ingredients with your hands until it resembles a fine crumb.
  3. Set aside 1/3 cup of the crumb mixture.
  4. Add molasses and hot water to the crumb mixture that's in the bowl (not the part you set aside), and stir until just mixed.
  5. Pour batter into a greased 9-inch round cake pan or a greased 8-inch cast iron pan.
  6. Top with the reserved crumb mixture.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees fahrenheit for 25-30 min.  When it's done, the cake should have risen to double its original size, and the middle should be just slightly lower than the edges.  A toothpick inserted in the center won't come out clean, but the crumbs that stick to it should be moist but done. 

Friday, January 28, 2011

Carrot-Granola Quick Bread

I just got a new oven after going without one for about six months.  I'm on a baking binge now, and nothing's easier to make than quick breads.  They're called panques in Mexico, though your traditional gringo quick bread has more fat, more sugar, and more spices than its Mexican counterpart.  The difference between a quick bread and regular bread is that quick breads don't have yeast.  Instead, eggs and baking soda or baking powder are used to leaven the bread, making preparation a lot faster, easier, and with a lot less mess.

This recipe calls for ground nutmeg.  I've never seen nutmeg in Mexico.  If you're making this bread in Mexico, you'll have to tuck a jar into your checked luggage or ask that someone bring you some.  I've made carrot bread without nutmeg with success, but the flavor loses some of its complexity.

The recipe also calls for granola.  I use a delightful mix I found in the organic farmers market near my house.  It has toasted coconut, toasted pecans, raisins, puffed amaranth, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, and toasted oats, and it is sweetened with piloncillo, a by-product of the sugar-making process which is Mexico's version of brown sugar.

As for the dried fruit called for in the recipe, feel free to get creative.  I cleaned out my pantry and tossed in a mix of the many tiny bags full of the last pieces of dried fruit I had.  I used a mix of dried sweetened cranberries, prunes, chopped candied figs, and raisins.


  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c sugar
  • 2/3 c oil (preferably canola oil)
  • 1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 c grated carrots
  • 1 c granola
  • 1/2 c dried fruit
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F or 176 degrees C.*
  2. Combine eggs, sugar, and oil in a small bowl.
  3. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a medium bowl.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients.  Stir with a wooden spoon until mixed, but don't over-mix the batter.  Add carrots, granola and dried fruit.
  5. Pour the batter into a greased bread loaf pan and bake for about one hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Makes 1 loaf.  This recipe is easily doubled.

* A lot of Mexican ovens either have the numbers 1-5 on their dials instead of temperatures, or the dial controls the size of the flame instead of the actual temperature of the oven, because the oven doesn't have a thermostat (despite the fact that it might actually have temperatures on the dial).  Do yourself a favor and buy an oven thermometer.  It'll save you a lot of heartbreak and burnt breads.