Sunday, October 31, 2010

Introducing Ms. Abbien: The Gluten-free Vegan wonder!

Do you remember your freshman year roommate? Better yet, are you still friends with her/him? I'm lucky enough to have had the best roommate ever, whom I lived with for the rest of college, and we have not only remained friends, but still get to hang out from time to time. 

Abbie and I clicked over our love of Punk/Indie rock and an obscene pride in our Irish heritage. We bonded over eyebrow piercings and keeping a vegetarian diet on a freshman meal plan. We've changed a lot over the years, but some things, like our respective sweet tooths, have stayed the same. When I suggested that she come over and bake some oatmeal cream pies with me, I didn't have to ask twice. Bakin' cookies with Abbie is where it's at! Little Debbie, fear our skills. But I'll let Abbie tell you all about it...
I've known Colleen for many years, and I've known her to do many wonderful things. Working on perfecting a vegan oatmeal cream pie has undoubtedly been one of them.
Sometimes you just needs to taste your childhood. You know, something to distract you from all of those icky grown-up responsibilities that now consume your life. Well, I'm pretty sure my childhood is nestled somewhere between two oatmeal raisin cookies, right alongside baking with friends and family. So, heading into the kitchen with Colleen made perfect sense. It was a chance to channel inner girlhood, listen to some indie rock, eat (I mean test) cookie batter, and make gluten-free vegan oatmeal cream pies.
Wait! Gluten-free! Yeah, you heard me. It was time to bust out the alternative flours. Gluten-free baking can be tricky, and finding the right flour blend can take some experimenting. If you're looking for gluten-free flours or baking products, I totally recommend Bob's Red Mill. Not only does this brand have a huge selection of alternative flours, but Bob looks like he has a sweet beard. Who can deny the trustworthiness of an awesome beard? Is it just me? Well, in addition to Whole Foods and some traditional grocery stores, Asian grocery stores also carry many gluten-free flours (rice and millet flours, etc.).
As the world of gluten-free flours is vast, we used a blend from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. This book oozes wonderful information and ideas for vegan and gluten-free goodies.

We incorporated the blend into the recipe that Colleen uses for her vegan oatmeal cream pies and the smell of nugmeg and cinnamon added to my excited anticipation. Seriously, anything that produces that kind of cinnamon aroma in the kitchen has got to be good.
I often find that the challenge with gluten-free vegan baking isn't in the taste of the batter, but the right ingredients and the baking itself. I dare you not to be tempted to lick the computer screen. Look at that batter! That's full of gluten-free vegan deliciousness.

There were some adjustments with the actual baking of the cookies in order to find the right consistancy and shape. But that's part of the fun! Sitting around the kitchen, modestly nibbling the the edge of a cookie, hand on your chin, looking upwards in concentration trying to imagine all of the flavors, letting out the frequent "hmmm...". That's where it's at.

The cookies were pretty darn tasty and just needed the cream filling to make Little Debbie totally jealous. And for a brief moment, I forgot all about those pesky adult things I needed to get done, and enjoyed my first oatmeal cream pie, in like, forever. Well, I suppose there were many brief moments since then, seeing as they're all gone.

A guest post, how exciting! I hope you guys are ready for some more. My friendship with Abbie has seen many years and many bottles of whiskey, and now we're taking things to the next level. Abbie's agreed to become a regular contributor to the blog! Let me tell you why this will make Sweet Swallows even more awesome than it already is:
  • Abbie not only bakes tasty sweets, but rocks the savory snacks too.
  • Gluten-free and vegan means more allergies are covered, and more people are happy.
  • Her camera skills are far superior to mine
  • She's got a wicked green thumb and a bangin' garden to show for it.
  • She's Rad. Obviously. End of Story.

So welcome, Abbie, and I look forward to more posts from you! And thanks for not giving away too many of my oatmeal creme pie secrets... But seriously guys, if you haven't already gotten a copy of Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, I don't know what's wrong with you. It's got a ton of amazing recipes to keep all the vegans in your life happy, and to fool all of your non-vegan friends into liking vegan sweets. Win win. And all of the recipes can be made Gluten free. Which puts us up to win win win. Winners all around. 

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