Cupcakes for Christmas

Last Friday my husbands company had their annual party. For the last couple of years they’ve hosted it at the home of their sales and marketing rep, which makes for a very cozy and laid back get together. The party was catered with food trays from Whole Foods, so the food was all around fairly healthy and tasty! However, as I am the dairy free gal I volunteered to bring along some festive vegan cupcakes. Mr. Green Me is very fond of key lime pie, so in his honor I made vegan coconut lime cupcakes (inspired yet again by Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World!).

I basically followed the recipe in the book to a T, short of topping a few of the cupcakes with organic raspberries for a little extra holiday color. There were not any leftovers. Surpised?

Since November all of my baked goods have been made with some locally made flour that I bought back in November. Ill write a post on the flour soon, but I have a few more things to bake first! However, I will say that baking sweets is a bit of a luxury and that I appreciate the cost of using certain items, such as vanilla (I always use the real stuff from Madagascar), coconut and lime, none of which grow in Colorado! However, I have been using a sugar that is processed in Colorado and sourced from Colorado and a few surrounding states, local eggs (when I am not baking vegan), and Ive also been playing a lot with local honey.

Most importantly though, I bake from scratch, I try to buy in bulk, and I use real ingredients. Our bodies are what we eat just as the planet is what we make it, so I am very careful with what goes into my baked goods. And, Ive been making a point of not eating processed sweets of any shape size or variety, because to me they are just another variation of consumeristic plastic cr*p. In other words, if you want sweets take the time to make your own wholesome ones or spend the dough to buy some made by a local bakery (that is also careful with their ingredients).

Enough with the rant. Now for some pictures to make you hungry!

Batter in the cupcake pan prior to baking:

 

Cupcakes cooling on my new cooling rack (thanks to Grandma Green Me in MI, who also gave me the esteemed book).

 

And up close

 

I was very pleased with the result. I hadn’t thought about it ahead of time, but coconut is perfect for winter holiday decorating as the cupcakes look like they are covered with little piles of fluffy snow!

 

If you havent already, get in the spirit and bake something festive! If you need inspiration check out the Cookie Swap (I plan to join the fun someday soon).

Something to Yolk About

As a kid we had chickens and we had fresh eggs. As far as I can remember, I always liked eating eggs, whether they be scrambled, poached, soft boiled, hard boiled, they were (and are) a tasty food. My grandmother also raised chickens from which she made the best scrambled eggs in the world. They were always a bright yellow and tasted oh so creamy.

Over the years I became accustomed to grocery store eggs. They seemed perfectly good, although my omelets and scrambled dishes never tasted quite as good as I remembered. For many years I attributed this to the superior cooking skills of my mom and my grandmother. And, then I came across local farm fresh eggs just a few miles from our home.

The eggs on the left have been marked with a V and are Cage Free Large Brown Eggs from Organic Valley. Prior to coming across Ollin Farms these are the eggs that my family bought and ate every week. The eggs on the right are from Ollin Farms and marked with an O. As egg companies go, Nest Fresh is pretty close to ideal. They are Certified Humane and fed a vegetarian and organic diet; however, from this comparison it is clear their eggs continue to miss something in the diet of real farm eggs (and Backyard Eggs).

The first time I cracked open an egg from Ollin Farms, I was in awe of its rich golden (in fact deep orange) hue. I scrambled a few up for the best omelet in ages. I was hooked and so was my toddler son! Not only are Ollins eggs very tasty, but I have also visited their hens, which have a large outside enclosure. I know that for a fact that their chickens are happy with space to run, forage, eat a grub or two and some grass, in addition to their carefully selected chicken feed.

Over the last few months I’ve mentioned the difference in color to many people. Unfortunately, everyone except my grandmother, who has almost 90 years of hen raising experience, looks at me in disbelief when I mention the rich yellow orange color of Ollins eggs, so I decided to document the difference.

Pictured above you see on the left a Cage Free Organic Egg provided by Organic Valley. On the right you see an almost urban egg farm egg from Ollin. You’ll note that the yolk from the Ollin egg is not only deeper in color, it is also much larger.

In this last photo the Ollin eggs are on the right and the Organic Valley on the left. You’ll again note the difference in color and the increased size of the yolks in the Ollin Eggs. The Organic Valley eggs are much more uniform in size and they just don’t measure up to old fashioned free roaming eggs raised on a small scale!

With access to locally raised eggs, such as those from Ollin, you might wonder why I or anyone else might want to raise his or her own backyard hens. For one, raising several hens can be pleasurable work as the hens, like many pets, often become part of the family! Furthermore, here in Longmont we have very alkaline and clay soil. Folks who like to keep hens also often like to garden. Personally, I would be thrilled to have access to a regular supply of free Chick a Poo fertilizer to compost and add to my soil!

Lastly, although there are several local purveyors of farm fresh eggs, supply cannot keep up with demand. Over the summer months I have access to at least 3 different options for egg buying, but only on certain days and they all sell out within a few hours of opening. In the winter months Ollin is the only place I know of to get eggs, but Mark himself has said he could probably run a business on eggs alone and still not keep up with demand!

In conclusion, there are those of us who appreciate nutritious and good tasting food and the welfare of animals, while also desiring to increase our self-sufficiency and shorten the distance of our food from farm to table. With this in mind, we ask you to attend Eggs on the Table this Thursday at the Longmont Public Library. And (or) seek us out to sign the petition showing your support to the Longmont City Council.

This post is cross posted at the Longmont Urban Hen Blog.

Green Me: Alison the Eco Cooking Gal

If you are a regular reader you will have noticed a distinct lack of posts in the past few months. On one hand I’ve been quite busy with other ventures, but for the most part I just lost my desire to write the sort of posts that Id been sharing. I’ve considered dropping the blog altogether, but some recent experiences (including the acquisition of a kick ass vegan cupcake book) have inspired me instead to blog about one topic that is dear to my heart. Edibles.

We eat every day. We put things in our mouths every day (some of us more than others). And, when it comes down to chemistry (and biology) we really are what we eat. On a daily basis my efforts to green my family and to ultimately Green Me revolve around edibles.

Cutting meat out of our diet (or at the least drastically cutting back) makes a huge impact on the environment. Vegetable based protein even when trucked cross country results in the production of significantly fewer pollutants and green houses gasses than the production of meat. Whole grains are better for your body and when prepared correctly, are much more satisfying than a refined to pieces slice of white bread. Cooking from scratch is good for your wallet, good for your body and good for the planet. And that is what I am all about.

Henceforth any posts will be from Green Me the Eco-Cooking Gal and they will be about my experiences making various edibles from scratch. If you get hungry and want to put the green stuff in your body put me in your RSS feed and get ready to play with food.