Archive for the ‘baking’ Tag

A Whole-Wheat, Fairly Traded Baking Party   Leave a comment

At the moment I’m procrastinating the prep work for my holiday party. I should have started the cake for the Buche de Noel already. This year’s theme is the oven because in our new house we finally have a normal non-disgusting oven that doesn’t set off the fire alarm. So I’m planning to bake all day. Some things will be savory, but there will be plenty of cookies, and the Buche de Noel. I’m hoping that people like the goodies, but it’s not a given because of two things: I haven’t baked a cake or cookie in over a decade, and I don’t cook with bleached wheat flour.

Yup, I’m going to attempt to feed a bunch of non-hippies whole wheat flour desserts. I’ve been using whole wheat flour for my scones, so I think it is doable for cookies. I bought some whole wheat pastry flour, and I know that I will need to adjust recipes on the fly a bit to add a little bit more moisture to compensate for the different flour. I’m not too worried about flavors since everything planned is filled with goodies. Even the cake recipe that I’m using has orange zest, orange juice, and almond extract. The cookies will be oatmeal cookies with goodies in them, plain cookies with white chocolate and cranberries, and peanut butter cookies (or at least that’s the plan). Why not just use regular bleached flour? Because I don’t think I should have to. Whole wheat flour seems more real and down-to-earth to me. I think that with the fiber included in the flour, the resulting cookies are a little bit better on the blood sugar levels, too. My mom has tweaked several recipes to reduce the fat and sugar, and as a result we call them “breakfast cookies” because they are healthy enough to eat for breakfast. I hope that with the addition of whole wheat flour that is even more true.

Not only am I trying to be healthy for this party, but I’m also trying to be an example of shopping with conscience-ness. It will be as fair trade of a party as I can make it, which is unfortunately less fair trade than I’d like. I only buy fair trade sugar, partly because I support fair trade standards and partly because I am so opposed to the ridiculous sugar quotas and tariffs in the US. So we have coarse raw cane sugar and fine sugar that are both fair trade. Unfortunately we weren’t able to find fair trade confectioner’s sugar. Likewise the semi-sweet chocolate chips are fair trade, but the baking chocolate and cocoa are not certified (but they claim to be fairly traded), and I was not able to find fair trade cocoa nibs or white chocolate. That really disappointed me because I know for a fact that I have purchased fair trade cocoa nibs before. I do what I can, and unfortunately when shopping at the last minute options are limited. One last ingredient, the vanilla, is real, organic, and fair trade certified.

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Posted December 18, 2010 by mayakey in conscious living, fair trade, food, health, shopping

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Making Scones   4 comments

I am embarking on a new journey today: regular scone making. I hope “regular” anyway. I used to buy a muffin at the farmer’s market every Saturday to eat before Mass on Sunday morning, but about a month ago I stopped getting the muffin as part of my pre-pre-pregnancy diet changes. The muffins were wrapped in basic food service PVC plastic wrap, so they had to go. (Plus it was $2 a week for something that was passable but not great or healthy.) I love scones, and they are easy to make, so they seemed like to best option when trying to start a new baking routine. (I hope the routine sticks, and I can eventually add bread, too.)

PVC is something to avoid for a multitude of reasons along the entire life cycle. It is made from vinyl choride, a known carcinogen, which means there is an elevated health risk to workers and residents near manufacturing plants. The manufacture of PVC also creates highly toxic dioxins, which deposit on plants including feed crops and food crops, and then enter into our food chain where they bioaccumulate. PVC often contains plasticizers like phthalates to make them soft and pliable (like clingy food wraps). Research on phthalates is not conclusive yet, but there are strong indications that phthalates contribute to birth defects in boys. And PVC is not recyclable. So PVC is a bad actor cradle-to-grave, and yet has become so pervasive in our society that it is pretty much impossible to avoid exposure. For years I have tried to avoid PVC, but as we prepare to start our family, that effort takes on a whole new urgency.

I know that reducing my exposure to phthalates now isn’t going to reduce my body burden significantly, which means that my baby will be born with a body burden. I figure that I can at least not make it any worse, though, hence the personal restrictions.

The send-off on this new scone making journey was successful. I made 50/50 whole wheat flour/white flour scones with chopped fresh apricots. They came out well (I had to test one while still warm from the oven of course), although at one point during the making I was a little worried. I have a tendency to make changes to recipes before I actually know what I am doing, and that’s really not a good idea. In this case I was using whole wheat flour in a white flour recipe and adding fresh fruit, but I didn’t know how to adjust the liquid amount accordingly. I look forward to more scone experiments; and maybe eventually I’ll figure out what I’m doing.

Posted May 29, 2010 by mayakey in food, frugal living, simple living

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