Oven extravaganza

I really hesitate to use the oven in the summer, but I live with a baked-good fiend.  To minimize the impact, I try to save up baking projects to avoid heating up the apartment for one tray of cookies.

As a concession for over a week of gross, unseasonably hot weather at the end of May/beginning of June, St. Louis granted us some slightly cooler temps on Sunday.  With quite the backlog of baking, the oven extravaganza swept through our apartment after lunch.  The menu featured zucchini bread, peach-cherry pie, granola, and butterscotch bars.  We used local peaches and zucchini (frozen from last summer).

Health notes: As usual, we baked with 100% whole wheat pastry flour (it is difficult for me to eat baked goods, even nice, homemade baked goods, made with white flour — they taste too sweet and lack the depth of flavor that the whole wheat provides, not to mention the nutritional benefits of whole grains).  We also somewhat reduced the sugar in most of the recipes.

Our oven extravaganza two weeks ago featured more varied cuisine: kale chips, roasted pumpkin seeds, chocolate chip cookies, sunflower seeds, beets, and granola.  I’ve been curious about those kale chips for quite awhile now — they were quite good, and a fun alternative if you’re inundated with kale from your garden or CSA share.

However, during Sunday’s baking, I noticed that most items took longer to bake than usual.  Our pans filled the oven, but not so much that it should have restricted airflow.  Maybe it was the semi-frequent opening and closing that came with having multiple items with different baking times and needs (e.g., the granola needed to be stirred every now and then)?  Did we really save any energy?

Next time, I will track exactly how long we have the oven on, and compare it to how long it would take to bake each item, one-at-a-time.  The fact that the oven only preheated once, compared to four times if we baked Sunday’s items in separate sessions, must translate to SOME savings.

Black-eyed peas

So, back on the first of the year, I wrote a post about a new soup I planned to make.  I said I would post the recipe here if it turned out well, and, nudged by the fact that I made it again last night, I’m finally getting around to it.   Black-eyed peas and kale form the base for this simple, delicious, and healthy soup.

Click here for the recipe for “Southern New Year’s Day Soup” from Vegetarian Times.  A few notes on my adaptations:

  • I used onions instead of leeks both times.  I’m sure leeks would be good, but they’re not something we keep around.
  • I used a liberal amount of garlic (shocker, I know!).
  • The recipe calls for dried black-eyed peas and never tells you to cook them.  If you start with dry peas, you need to soak and cook them just like you would any dried bean (although I think they cook faster than other types of dried beans).  Otherwise, if you can find them, you can start with canned black-eyed peas.
  • I used water and the cooking liquid from the peas, along with a bit of extra poultry seasoning, instead of the quart of vegetable broth.
  • The soup is good both with or without the pasta.  If you add pasta, cook it separately and add it to just the portion that you will be eating at that meal, otherwise it will get soggy.
  • As before, both the peas and the kale were locally grown 🙂