So, perhaps it is freakish for me to have moved south and to take up the craft of baking in the hottest month of the year, but with air conditioning we can be blissfully oblivious, right??
As most of you probably know I gave up sugar and corn syrup starting on January 2nd of 2008. I did so not because I’m a diabetic, nor as some diet scheme, but because I have long known myself to be an addict and I wanted to kick an addiction. As some of you probably also realize, I believe that cutting these elements out of my diet is correlated to the fact that we finally conceived.
For the first three months or so I didn’t use honey or maple syrup or other natural sweeteners. I did eat fruit and I’d sweeten oatmeal with unsweetened applesauce, that sort of thing. And I wasn’t a rigid purist. I’d have spaghetti sauce that surely has sugar in it or bread that has a bit of sugar in it. But, compared to my diet before, this was a BIG CHANGE. My sugar/corn syrup consumption went in phases prior to this particular journey, I would back off a bit, but that would ease my way back into dramatic over-consumption and then I’d scare myself and back off, rinse, repeat… you get the drift. So in the first few months I avoided even the natural sweeteners (artificial ones too, for the most part) because I didn’t want to lure myself back into the full on consumption. But once I felt pretty clear of it, I started allowing things that had been naturally sweetened, or I started adding honey, etc. I’ve gotten fairly liberal of late with the naturally sweetened stuff and I’m in an internal debate about whether organic sugar is too close to the refined stuff and whether evaporated cane juice or molasses are o.k.. I’ve been treating them as o.k., but may pull back. In any case, I don’t feel quite as beholden to super sweet any more and I’m still avoiding the hard core, really not good for you stuff. And I feel good about that.
For the last week or so I’ve been wanting to bake. I really enjoy baking, but haven’t done much of it since stepping away from sugar because… well… everything I like to bake has sugar in it. I knew that there are alternative recipes with natural sweeteners and that the internet is my friend and so before beginning the challenging translation I did some hunting and found some recipes I wanted to try. But then I remembered that a chocolate cream pie I have been known to make in the past was sweetened only with honey and I had a hunch that all the desserts in one of the first cookbooks I ever bought for myself were naturally sweetened.
We were invited to a potluck for this evening by one of my classmates and I decided this was my chance to scratch my baking itch. I spent some time yesterday perusing the fabulous cookbook linked to above and decided in the course of doing so that I’m pretty much going to have to make every dessert in the book. They all look sumptious and few if any have any refined sugar in them. They are not at all lowfat, but… mmm… I decided to make the Sweet Georgia Cream Pie from this book which is a Vermont take on a southern recipe, Vermont I think because it uses real maple syrup to sweeten the homemade whipped cream that is folded into the filling (a cream cheese and peanut butter filling sweetened with honey- and yes, natural peanut butter) and put on top of the pie after it chills overnight. The crust is a chocolate cookie crumb crust (held together with butter and honey) and for this we used Newman’s chocolate cookies that are sweetened with organic sugar (so… this is where I start wondering if I’m crossing a line, but… it’s just the crust… and again, not refined). The pie was utterly gorgeous when assembled. I should have taken a picture to show you all. And… it was quite easy to make. And… oh my goodness, rich, creamy, chocolaty, peanut buttery goodness. There is one piece left and that makes me happy. It will be something to look forward to as I sit through class tomorrow.
As I type a loaf of applesauce bread is baking and smells yummy. It needs to cool/chill overnight so it should be ready for breakfast tomorrow. I found this recipe here, along with lots of other good naturally sweetened recipes.
I’m thinking that cooking (something that comes less naturally to me) or baking could be a good balance to this life of the mind I’ll be indulging for the next few years. Maybe I’ll try to do this at least a few times a week. Kev has been the main chef for the past six years, but he is very cool with sharing the reins. I won’t have class Tuesdays or Wednesdays this fall. I know I’ll be studying all day, but… I need to take breaks… so… I think it could be fun.
The baking (and consequent sharing and eating) certainly has been. Kev and I have worked together on both projects and that has been quite nice. Mmm…