Friday, January 25, 2013

My Best Recipe Book

Elephants. Probably African. Quotes: Dr. Seuss, Holden Caulfield, a Bible verse, Mark Twain, other various writers. Numerous icons. Word documents. Excel sheets. Folders. Unfinished poems. Lots of blue. Not a dark blue, but light. 

My computer desktop.

I stare at it a lot.

Most of the time I’m not really doing anything on my computer. Just sitting there, staring at my desktop background, waiting for something to happen. (Unfortunately, I do not have a magical computer that creates amazing works of writing or art by itself that I can take credit for.)

So until one of those brilliant, momentous, immensely rare ideas comes along my desktop gazing and the Internet keep me occupied.

Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Blogger, and around again. Unfortunately, like my computer, those sites are not magical and not self-propelled, that they do need a human behind them to make something happen. Staring at them won’t make a bunch of people suddenly want to visit to my blog, or follow me on Twitter and Tumblr. Staring at Facebook won’t make one of my friends decide they want to message me.

So, I turn to Google.

Ahh… Google.

The depths and crevices and caverns of Google used to intimidate me. I was one of those who stuck to the top two choices. If they didn’t give me what I wanted, I ran away screaming saying the answer could not be found.

(Not out loud or anything, just a small fit of frustration inside my head.)

However, one day I realized that Google could be magical. Google can lead you to wonderful things, full of goodness and tasty joy.

As I continued to learn more and more about myself, like all the different restrictions my body was making to my diet, I also learned the wonders of one of the most used search engines.

Google was no longer some mysterious place full of unneeded knowledge or useless and undiscoverable information. I now saw Google as one giant, enormous, ever-growing, ever-changing, ever-changeABLE recipe book.

Now, when the confines of social networking bring me down or just aren’t moving fast enough, I spend my time looking for recipes that I can eat or alter to my needs. By the way, you can find some pretty strange recipes online. (There are some really freaky food combinations going on in the world.)

People are weird these days.

Through professional websites, linking sites, and other personal food blogs, I’ve acquired many recipes and gained a ton of foodie knowledge. I often look for recipes that I wouldn’t have to change a lot. It’s been surprising how much is out there that I never realized before. Another favorite thing is finding recipes that I can distort into my own culinary creation.

Google has also validated that I’m not so crazy. (Or maybe…I’m just not crazy alone.) People think I do weird stuff with peanut butter; you should try googling “Peanut butter sandwich recipes” or “Best peanut butter sandwich.” I get a lot of my ideas from searches like that.

Peanut butter, mustard, and onion is one experiment I did not think up myself. But it doesn’t sound half bad at all.

Also, I never knew this (how naive I am) that peanut butter and oatmeal is actually a big deal. Who knew?

Ants on a Log Oatmeal
Google is the best for the times my oatmeal is lacking or I’m tired of the same old, same old.

My advice to you is to start with something simple (oatmeal, pizza, peanut butter sandwich, etc.), whatever your favorite is, and go on Google and get inspired. Try something totally new. Do you like two certain things? Try them together. That’s how I got my peanut butter and horseradish mustard sandwich. Now, that combination has flown way past sandwich filling status.

Having to be so careful with what I eat, I’m suddenly aware of how much I love to cook (or experiment, as I prefer to call it). I don’t do it a lot, but finding recipes and getting my hands dirty is a joy I never knew I had.

Until the inconsistent World Wide Web flips and flops again and transforms into something new, Google will continue to be a great source of inspiration and my best recipe book.

I’ve gathered so many recipe links, that I sort of overwhelmed myself. I just kept finding more and more without ever actually making any of it.

This year I’m hoping to change that.

Tuesday, (the last day before school started) was bittersweet for me. Bitter because I knew when I woke up in the morning I’d have to prepare for school. Sweet beyond imagination because I chose to spend the day in the kitchen. I went through the list of links I have and found a couple recipes I had been dying to try.

The first was from a website, Nutty About Health. The author, Karey, posted a recipe titled “Low-carb Sweet Almond Buns.” When I read it and saw how she raved about them, I went out and bought almond flour specifically to make them. Tuesday, I finally took action.

I did make a couple changes though. I used actual brown sugar. I omitted the coconut oil and just subbed another tablespoon of margarine. I love sea salt, but I didn’t have any, so regular worked fine. Even with my alterations, I couldn’t believe how delicious these were! It was my first almond flour recipe and it was a great first impression. They even had a nice little tang to them. I love simple recipes that are quick and easy to make.

Karey, thanks for the awesome Hannah-friendly recipe, I’ll definitely be keeping this one around.

After school snack yesterday! With The Bee's Knees Peanut Butter.

The second treasure I tried was from Big Girls Small Kitchen. From here, I baked their Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip Cookie Breakfast Bars. I am absolutely positive it did not turn out the way they intended. Due less to the fact that I had to alter it, and more to the fact I need to learn to read the direction section completely.

Either way, I can guarantee you I will be making this again.

In my version I could say I omitted the vanilla extract, but frankly I just forgot about it. Then, the whole “bar” part sort of got left in the dust when I put all the batter into ONE loaf pan instead of TWO.

(I seriously need to learn to read directions.)

I also probably didn’t let it cool as much as I should have before cutting into it.

As I said though, I’ll be making it again.

I cut the loaf into strips, and then carefully wiggled them free. Some of them were really crumbly, so parts of it were not kept. For the majority of creation, I sliced it thick then made little squares. (After splitting three into squares, I learned my lesson and stuck the rest in the fridge for a little to chill.)

Finally tasting chocolate chips (I found dairy-free) surrounded by a gooey cookie dough again was enough to sell me. Even without the vanilla, I didn’t feel like the squares were missing anything. The pecans give it crunch, the chocolate melts, and the dough of my version had a classic chewy texture necessary for any cookie bar to succeed.

A couple pieces made their way to school with me.
Lastly, I looked around at a couple different baked tortilla chip recipes and sort of made my own. They came out pretty tasty. I used whole-wheat tortillas, cut up into triangles, and added some spices and olive oil. I need to tweak the spice combo, but I thought for a first attempt it wasn’t bad.

These wonderful treats made my first week of school much less terrible.

With all my lists of recipes, I wonder, instead of passing down family heirloom scrapbooks filled with recipes; is my generation going to pass along e-mails filled with web addresses? Or a secret flash drive that only a few select people know how to access? 

Well, that's my philosophical wonderings for the day. 

For the recipes I made above, follow this links:
Low-Carb Sweet Almond Buns
Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip Cookie Breakfast Bar


  1. Hi Hannah! So glad you liked my Low-Carb Sweet Almond Buns!! I love them with a bit of PB on top too... Yum!! :) Great post & glad your first week back in school was a little better because of some tasty treats.

  2. Thanks so much! Plus, I think everything's better with a little PB on top, haha.