Smells Like a Barbecue Pit, Baking, and Recipes

Sigh…my apartment smells like a barbecue pit. Why? Well, it’s my fault and it’s a funny story (which I will get to in a moment)…

First, I must admit that my boyfriend Tim and I rarely go out for dinner. I would guess that we take a night off from cooking once every few months, if that. Saturday just happened to be one of those rare occasions when we didn’t feel like cooking. Where did we go? To a small place called Blossoming Lotus. The restaurant (a cafe really) is located in the hipper/trendier section of Portland called the Pearl District. We don’t hang out in the Pearl District much because we are far from hip. Anyways, Blossoming Lotus is inside a yoga studio, so the environment is very calming. You don’t actually see the yoga classes in action, but you do have to take off your shoes in order to access the potties.

The cafe has an open kitchen and a 100% vegan menu that includes raw foods and desserts. So far so good, right? Hmpf. That’s what we thought too. We were seated promptly next to a window (making for awesome people-watching) and given menus. I forgot my camera, so there are no photos, but the website has pictures! The cafe was out of both the Eight Herb House Iced Tea and the Lavender Lemonade, so we had water. We ordered the Heavenly Hummus with raw flax crackers as an appetizer. Unfortunately, our hummus arrived after our main courses (and only when we politely asked our server for the second time “Where is our hummus?”). For the main meal, I ordered the Monk Bowl which had beans, rice, steamed kale and my choice of spicy peanut sauce or a ginger sauce…so hard to choose…until my server said I could have both! Cool. When my meal arrived, it only had the ginger sauce. Tim ordered the BBQ Tempeh Platter (which came with black bean chili, green salad & spicy corn bread). Both of our meals were good, Tim’s perhaps a bit more.

Since we were seated right next to the dessert case, it was hard to resist some vegan soft-serve and a piece of Live Strawberry Shortcake. The soft-serve had a lovely lemony-vanilla flavor which paired nicely with the shortcake. All in all, the food was decent, but the service was very slow and we were pretty much ignored. Maybe the servers sensed we never eat out? We aren’t hip enough? We don’t do yoga? I don’t know. Maybe we will give it a second chance…

Now the reason why our apartment smells like a barbecue pit:

After our dinner, a thunderstorm rolled in. Portland never gets thunderstorms. Tim and I both grew up along Lake Erie where thunderstorms are very common, so we really enjoyed listening to and watching the storm. It seemed like the perfect night for baking, so I made mini chocolate cupcakes (recipe halved from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World) with chocolate cream cheese frosting. While I was getting the ingredients out of the cupboard, I managed to knock over a bottle of liquid smoke seasoning. The bottle didn’t break, but the lid did, spilling liquidy yellow smoke flavor all over the floor. If you have ever used this stuff, you know that a wee drop will do…an entire bottle is extremely potent! We ended up having to mop the kitchen, wipe down cupboards, drawers and ourselves. To make matters worse, we couldn’t open the windows because the rain was falling sideways. The smell is slowly fading a day later…

I also made a Lemon Currant Granola with Sliced Almonds (recipe follows). I created this recipe after being intrigued by ATXVegn’s Earth Day post where she mentioned buying a bag of Lemon Currant Granola. Who doesn’t love lemons?! I have not had this with soy milk yet, but I did snack a bit on it, and it tastes very good!

Lemon Currant Granola with Sliced Almonds

2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/6 cup canola oil
1/4 cup agave nectar
1 T maple syrup
1 1/2 t lemon extract
1/2 t vanilla extract
1/2 t fresh lemon zest, optional
1/2 t cinnamon
pinch of salt
1/2 cup dried currants (or cranberries)

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
2. Stir together oats and sliced almonds. Add canola oil, agave nectar, and maple syrup. Add in extracts and lemon zest if using. Stir in cinnamon and salt.
3. Spread mixture onto a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until the granola is golden. It might be wise to stir/rotate pan halfway through baking.
4. Stir in the currants once the granola has been removed from the oven. Allow to cool before transferring to an airtight container.

The rain continued through Sunday morning and afternoon, so I made something I have been wanting to make for a long time: homemade graham crackers! Yep! I adapted this recipe from a backpacking/trail foods cookbook I borrowed from the library years ago called Simple Foods for the Pack. These are so tasty and simple to make. They take some time because you need to roll out the dough, but they are worth it! I promise.

Cinnamon Graham Crackers (I halved this recipe, and they turned out just fine)

3/4 cup vegan margarine
1/2 cup agave nectar
1 1/2 t vanilla extract
3 cups graham flour (or whole wheat flour)
1/2 cup raw wheat germ
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t baking powder
3/4 cup water

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
2. Beat margarine, agave nectar, and vanilla until fluffy.
3. Combine dry ingredients in a small bowl. Add dry ingredients alternately with water to the creamed mixture.
4. Roll out onto a floured surface to about a 1/4″ thickness. Cut into desired shapes and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Prick with a fork. I sprinkled mine with cinnamon-sugar, but you don’t have too. They just taste yummier this way!
5. Bake for about 20 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack.

Lastly, I baked bagels. I used a recipe from Happy Herbivore. These bagels were incredible! Seriously. The recipe is perfect because it makes four bagels, just right for two people. I made two sesame seed and two cinnamon-sugar bagels. Try this recipe! Go do it now! They are easy and have little rising time, so you can eat them faster. I have made several batches, including the everything bagels from the photo below:

That’s it. I need another graham cracker anyways!

About these ads

19 thoughts on “Smells Like a Barbecue Pit, Baking, and Recipes

  1. I’ve never smelled liquid smoke, so I cannot even imagine how horrible the spill smell must have been! Ugh, that’s awful!

    But the accident definitely didn’t affect your cupcakes – they are so dark and gorgeous! It looks like they were made with black cocoa powder or something. (Which sounds like a great idea now that I typed it out…) And thanks for the graham cracker recipe – I’d love to make them sometime.

  2. Romina-

    Yes, it smells way too strong! I am still wiping up spots I missed last night.

    Ruby Red Vegan-

    How perceptive of you! I did use black cocoa powder for the cupcakes! I had never tried it before, and now I am hooked.

  3. Yikes, liquid smoke is DEFINITELY strong-smelling – at least no one was hurt! I can only imagine just how horrid it smells though :0(

    Oh my, the graham crackers!! That granola!! Those bagels!! Yum!!

  4. Hahaha! I’m sorry your experience wasn’t the best. Sometimes the service of a place can really put a damper on things. There is a sushi place here in Columbia that has truly amazing sushi, but the service is horrible and you usually have to sit there for an hour before you get your food. And the people are all far more sharply dressed than myself. :-) Perhaps I’m just not hip either.

    I love watching storms, so long as they don’t get too bad. The Midwest has some mighty storms sometimes. But there is something amazing about watching a thunderhead cloud grow or huge bolts of lightning.

    WOW! I bet your place DID smell like liquid smoke something terrible!

    Oh my, those cupcakes look cute and delicious. I wish I lived close enough that I could ‘happen to stop by’ when I knew you’d be baking. ;-)

    That granola sounds fantastic. I love granola but have never tried to make it at home. I don’t have any reason why, I guess I thought it would be more difficult than this!

    You really did bake a lot!

  5. I’m surprised to hear about poor service at Blossoming Lotus. I’ve never been but think of it as the ultimate in vegan dining.

    We must have been on the same wavelength this weekend. I did tons of baking too, and I made your Blackeyed Pea Soul Burgers to grill tomorrow. I had been thinking about lemon granola too. I can’t wait to try your recipe!

  6. I can’t even begin to imagine the smell of so much liquid smoke. it’d make me even loopier than I usually am!
    your crackers look absolutely wonderful. when do you open a bakery, already? or an etsy shop? or something?
    quick q for you: could you let me know where you get biodegradable cookie packaging? I’m not happy with what I use to send out cookies these days, and I’d love to find something more earth-friendly.

  7. Wow, I think the smell was worth it, considering how beautiful those cupcakes look! They’re soooo dark– I love it!

    I hate when restaurant service is slow; it really can ruin an otherwise enjoyable meal. Hopefully they were just having an off-night and things’ll be better when you go back.

  8. I bet you remember why you don’t go out to eat often now, eh? The food could be world class, but if service stinks, it ruins the whole meal for me.

    A whole bottle of liquid smoke?! It must smell like a steakhouse in there! I once broke a whole bottle of almond extract on the counter, but that bordered on delightful!

  9. I don’t know how liquid smoke smells, but I guess it’s as horrible as burning lentils? These are my only experiences with barbecue like smells in the kitchen. I hope yours will smell better, soon!
    Ruby is right, you really don’t need to go out if you are able to bake and cook so many great foods! And thank you so much for the Graham cracker recipe.

  10. Oh no, sorry to hear about your liquid smoke mishap! Although nothing like that has happened to me, I often create kitchen disasters (read: burning things to smithereens) that stink up the place for a good long time.

    Everything else looks really delicious though, so try focus on those tasty things instead (I know, easier said than done, right?)

  11. Wow, quite an incident with that liquid smoke…
    The granola sounds fantastic – must try it soon, and I can’t wait to try those Graham crackers! I can’t actually get graham flour where I live (France) but I’ll sub in the whole wheat, it’ll be close! :)

  12. hey i just found your blog and wow its great!!!!!
    Thunderstorms can certainly ruin a bbq… but they are great when you lay in bed and listen to the rain hitting the windows..!
    your cupcakes look amazingly decadent.. im sure they tasted as good as they look!!!!!

    I might just have to whip up a batch of graham crackers!!!

  13. You have no idea how happy it made me to read that you also have a butt-birthmark! I used to feel like I was so weird and alone for having one there.

    Yep, I think I’ve heard August vegans are the awesomest too…

  14. I googled myself and landed here – I adore this blog and I am so flattered you made my bagels (and holy cow! they are so beautiful – way better looking than the crappy photo I took of mine). Not that your cupcakes aren’t absolutely perfect in every way. & you made gram’s! WOW! I am so impressed.

  15. Awww…. isn’t it annoying when you decide to unwind and eat out one day and what you get for your money is crappy service?!!

    The cupcakes look sooo dark, mysterious and delicious – matched the rainy weather perfectly don’t you think :0)

    Oh the bagels – MUST MAKE … MUST MAKE!!

  16. i’ve always been a health nut but a bit of a newbie to the vegan world. i want to paypal you money in exchange for you sending me a sampling box of all your delicious vegan treats. the thing that keeps me from baking vegan is lack of ingredients available in my area. i’m in a smaller town. we have one health food store, but it’s independently owned, small, and very expensive. the nearest whole foods is three hours away. [i was in heaven when i finally went, needless to say...] so, yeah, it sucks. my mouth is watering as i’m scrolling through all the pictures, but i know i won’t be able ot find half the ingredients here.
    by the way, could you email me the recipe for the chocolate cupcakes? i must have them. they have my name written all over them.
    also — where do you find black cocoa powder?

    lovely day to you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s