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  • Robert Quintas
    Apr 30

    As I chop away at the head of fresh lettuce beneath me, I walk back to my fridge to collect the rest of my ingredients. Immediately after grabbing feta, tomato, cucumber, and olives, my ears tune in to the blaring sound of my timer, indicating to me that it is time to flip the chicken. I make my way to the stove, and as I stand there, I take a chance to take in the aroma of the garlic- seasoned chicken cutlets, sizzling in the pan. After flipping the cutlets and adding a pinch of salt and pepper, it comes to my attention that the garbanzos in the pan next over are done cooking. I slowly empty them into a large serving bowl, and I make my way back to the counter where I can finish my salad. In what seems like a situation of chaos and complications, I am actually in a state of peace. For me, cooking is a state of mind. The enjoyment in the act itself has little to do with the end result. Don’t get me wrong; I love food just as much as the next guy, if not more. Yet, there is something almost therapeutic about the actual process of preparing food that I find intrinsically satisfying Gathering and mixing my ingredients is menial labor that allows for a bit of creative freedom. The physical aspect of it is not challenging, but it requires some sense of coordination and rhythm. The beating of eggs, the stirring of batter, the mincing of ginger: these are all movements that don’t stress the mind, but the simplicity of these tasks do instill a sense of relaxation and mindful tranquility. Yet, there is also flexibility; recipes should not and do not exist as precise rulesets. Instead, they are general guidelines, and that gives me the ability to experiment and integrate my own originality into the dish by means of deviating from the suggested mixture of ingredients. I take a moment to imagine how a meal would taste by adding a specific component. Would this savory piece of salmon benefit from the addition of a sweet honey marinade? The recipe doesn’t call for basil, but do I want to add that herbal essence to these baked potatoes? Each ingredient has its own identity, and with so many of them at my disposal, there is almost a limitless amount of possibilities in what I am able to create. It’s all dependent on what kind of flavor and texture I desire. And even in those moments where action and thought are not required on your part, you still have to maintain some focus. Your hands may be away from the knife or the oven, but maybe you are paying attention to the timer, the thermometer, the scent of the food, the redness of the meat, etc. It is in those moments of patient concentration where you stand and breathe, unconcerned with whatever is going on outside the kitchen that bring peace of mind. Finally, once the timer is up or your instincts tell you the dish is complete, it is then that your cooking session is finished, and you can bask in your accomplishment. It is the perfect combination of meditation and multitasking, the best balance of mindfulness and peace. For that reason, I love cooking.
  • Amanda Blaze
    Nov 2

    As a college student, it is not often that I get the chance to bake while at school. I am always very busy and since I live in a dorm, I have to either borrow or buy all the materials. Last week my friend and I were looking through the cabinets of the communal kitchen and found most of the ingredients to make cornbread, something I have never made before. We felt really excited and motivated, (and I had a lot of homework that I did not want to do) so we went to the grocery store and got the rest of the ingredients at the grocery store. We spent about an hour making this cornbread, and since there are people coming in and out of the lounge all the time, many people knew we were making it. I was really excited to share it with everyone, so I could barely wait until it was cooled to cut into it. I split a piece with two other girls and we all tried it at the same time. I bit into it, chewed a little, then had to restrain myself from spitting it out. Not to be dramatic, but this cornbread tasted like poison. It was so unbelievably gross that I rinsed my mouth out with water. Obviously, I wasn’t going to suffer alone, so I still had all my friends try it, but I was so embarrassed! Not to be cocky, but the last time I made something that didn’t taste good was in 7th grade when I made Nutella cookies and accidentally put in three cups of water instead of three tablespoons. Those were pretty bad, but I had never made something as inedible as that cornbread. Logically, since I was using a lot of communal ingredients that I didn’t really check for safety, one of the ingredients was probably expired in some way. However, it was still something I took as a personal blow to my reputation as a baker. However, once I thought about it more, it was a blessing in disguise. It was a reminder to not place so much importance on the end result and to enjoy the journey getting there. It was a reminder to be okay with failure. Most importantly, it was a reminder to not take myself too seriously. Now I know not everything I make is going to be delicious and honestly? I’m okay with that. � �
  • Paige Aloise
    Apr 8

    If you have never made vegan cinnamon rolls before, your life is about to change. Though this recipe may seem intimidating, they are actually very easy to make and does not require any baking skills. These cinnamon rolls are the best thing to wake up to on a Sunday morning. I have found if you make them the night before and let them rise the first two hours then roll them, cut them and put them in the fridge then take them out in the morning let them rise another two hours and bake them, they tend to turn out really well. Once you make these once, you are going to want to make them every weekend. DOUGH 2 teaspoons active dry yeast or quick rise yeast (different mixing methods for each) 1 1/2 C warm water (see instructions for exact temperatures depending on yeast used) 1 tbsp organic cane sugar or granulated sugar3 C all-purpose flour 1 tsp sea salt 1 tbsp + 1 tsp vegetable oil (or melted vegan butter or coconut oil) 1/4 C all-purpose flour, for rolling out dough ICING 1 C powdered sugar 1 tbsp softened vegan butter 1 tbsp nondairy milk or water 1/2 tsp vanilla extract INSTRUCTIONS Combine active dry yeast with warm water and sugar. You can also use quick rise yeast. See different instructions after. The water needs to be at a temperature of around 100°F for the yeast to activate so it’s best to use a thermometer. Allow the mixture to sit for 10 minutes. It should double in size and be foamy at the top. Meanwhile, melt your coconut oil over low heat. Ensure the coconut oil is also not heated above 100°F. Combine flour with sea salt in a large mixing bowl. Create a well in the middle of the flour and pour the yeast mixture and coconut oil into it. If you're using quick rise yeast, add the yeast and sugar in with the flour and sea salt and stir to combine. In this instance, you will need water between 120°F and 130°F. Create a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and add 1 tablespoon of oil and the water. In both instances, once everything is in the bowl, fold the dough gently to combine it with a spatula until it comes together to form a ball that is slightly sticky. Lightly flour your surface and hands and place the dough on the surface. Press with your fingers and fold onto itself, kneading 10 to 15 times until the dough is slightly sticky. If it starts sticking to your hands, lightly flour them and your surface as you knead. If you've used a different flour and your dough is too sticky, you might need to add up to 1 cup of extra flour. However, only add a small amount at a time as you don't want to add too much flour or it will make the dough tough. Lightly oil the mixing bowl with 1 teaspoon of oil or melted butter or coconut oil. It's fine if there are remnants in the bowl from mixing. Lightly flour the outside of the ball of dough and place it in the bowl. If you used active yeast, you will need to proof it for 1 to 2 hours in a warm, dark place. Cover it with a damp towel and place somewhere like the top of the fridge or in the oven or microwave, away from any cool drafts. The dough will double in size. If you used quick rise yeast, let the dough rest for 10 to 20 minutes with a damp towel over the bowl. Then proceed with making the filling and shaping the rolls While the dough is rising, you can prepare the spiced peaches. In a sauce pan, heat spiced whiskey, maple syrup, and diced peaches over medium heat. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, and then remove from the heat and cool completely. Combine sugar and cinnamon for the filling and set aside. Melt 2 tablespoons of vegan butter in the pan you want to bake the cinnamon rolls in, then use the residue to grease all sides of the pan. Once dough has proofed, lightly flour a clean dry surface/countertop and roll out the dough to approximately a 16” x 16” square. Leave a 1” edge on one side of the dough free from melted butter and any fillings. That will be the outside edge when you roll the dough up. Brush melted butter on the surface of the dough. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture evenly on top. Then take the spiced peaches and spread them out on top of the cinnamon sugar. Start at the opposite side of the clean edge and roll the dough into a log shape. Take a sharp knife and cut 12 equal rolls. Place the rolls in the pan, leaving space between the rolls and the edge of the pan. Cover the pan in plastic wrap and a damp tea towel, and allow the rolls to proof in a warm dark place for another 1 to 2 hours or until doubled in size. Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake the rolls for 25 to 30 minutes until just golden brown on the tops and the filling is slightly bubbling. Allow the cinnamon rolls to cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Make the icing by combining all the icing ingredients in a small bowl with a hand mixer until smooth. Spread the icing on top of warm cinnamon rolls and serve immediately. Recipe from: https://www.hotforfoodblog.com/recipes/2015/8/9/vegan-cinnamon-rolls-with-spiced-whiskey-peaches/