This will be the 8th year of cookies-for-donation in Lydia's kitchen. The idea behind Drop In & Decorate is simple: bake some cookies; gather a group of family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, to decorate the cookies together; donate the cookies to a nonprofit agency serving basic human needs in your own community. Lydia assures us that she is baking-challenged and that no experience or baking expertise is needed to do this!
It’s a simple idea in a complicated world, and something anyone can do. Many of us donate necessities like food, clothing and personal items to our local non-profit agencies, and these are absolutely essential, no doubt about it. But there is something very special about getting a unique, hand-decorated cookie that someone took the time to make. It is a touch of whimsy and a splash of color where it is most required.
If you are looking for a smile or an "awwwww..." or a happy giggle in the next 5 seconds, you must visit the Drop In and Decorate flickr page. It seems like cookie decoration brings out the inner Warhol (and the inner child) in people!
There’s a free guide with everything you need to know to host your own party that can be downloaded from their website. If you’d like to host your own Drop In & Decorate event, Pillsbury and Wilton would like to help with coupons and cookie cutters. Write to lydia AT ninecooks DOT com for more info on how to get your free coupons and cookie cutters.
I have not hosted a Drop In & Decorate party yet, but I did go to an event last weekend that was similar in spirit. A bunch of us participated in a knitting marathon (24 hours where someone or the other was constantly knitting in the venue; I was only there for 2-3 hours), knitting/crocheting baby hats and blankies and socks to be donated to the local Children's Hospital. As items were made, they were hung up on a clothesline for all to admire. These kinds of events simply lead to much joy and camaraderie for all involved, and I hope many of us can participate in events like Drop In & Decorate in the coming months.
As promised in the title of this post, here's a sweet snack.
My pantry "eat-down" was very successful last week. Two terribly mealy apples and a couple of carrots went into the loaf cake that follows. A large head of cabbage (and a bunch of wilting cilantro) was converted into a big pot of zunka. Cabbage being what it is, there was still a hunk of it left over, and I made some cabbage egg fry one morning for breakfast to eat with a few leftover tortillas. On the very last day, the crisper was empty except for a lonely lemon, and I used that, along with pantry staples quinoa and chickpeas, and some mint from the kitchen windowsill to make a nutritious quinoa chickpea salad with a lemon-tahini dressing, based on Lisa's recipe.
I love making loaf cakes (as evident by the many different kinds I have posted on this blog). They are flexible in terms of ingredients- I mean, how often can you scoop a "heaped cup" of something into a baking recipe and get away with it?
Apple Carrot Loaf
(adapted from this Harvest Cake recipe)
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Spray a loaf pan and set it aside.
3. In a large bowl, mix together
1 heaped cup whole wheat pastry flour
¼ cup sugar
2 tsp. apple pie spice (or mixture of cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg)
1 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
3. Add these to the flour mixture
2 medium apples, peeled and coarsely shredded
2 medium organic carrots, coarsely shredded
Handful of walnuts, chopped
4. In another bowl, mix together
¼ cup canola oil
¼ cup buttermilk (dahi will work too, also see note)
2 large eggs (at room temperature)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
5. Stir wet ingredients into flour mixture and stir gently until just combined.
6. Pour the batter into the greased loaf pan, top with some granulated sugar for crunch (optional) and bake for 45 minutes or so, until an inserted toothpick comes clean.
Note: In practice, I use buttermilk powder instead of buttermilk since I can never use up a whole quart of buttermilk. I add buttermilk powder to the dry mix and equivalent water to the wet ingredients.
The autumnal aroma of baking apples and pie spices filled up the kitchen as this loaf baked. A couple of slices of this cake is the perfect mid-morning snack. For many more apple cake ideas, click here.
Have a wonderful week ahead!