Home-made vegan waffle mix

I ended up getting a tiny waffle iron (affiliate link), mostly for the purpose of waffling foods. But I figured, hey, now I can make waffles, too!

But making a tiny amount of waffle is really annoying, especially since it involves baking powder, which loses its leavening properties if it’s wet for too long.

For my first attempt at a single waffle I took ¼ cup pastry flour, a pinch of salt, ¼ cup of soymilk, and a teaspoon of vanilla sugar. The resulting waffle turned out rubbery and flat, but it was a good start.

Anyway, I did some reading and found that flax flour makes a good egg substitute. So here’s a recipe for some dry waffle mix that’s easy to make a bunch of in advance and make just the amount you need:

  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp sugar (vanilla sugar if you have it!)
  • ¼ tsp salt

Combine all the ingredients, and then when ready to make a waffle, combine equal parts mix and your favorite dairy equivalent. Or actual milk if you’re so inclined. Two tablespoons of each is just about a perfect amount for the linked waffle maker.

Anyway this gives me a nice base for experimenting with other stuff. I’m planning on trying it with some added spelt or buckwheat flour, or with chocolate chips, or with dried cranberries.

Also the waffle maker comes with a bunch of other great-looking recipes, and I’m looking forward to giving a lot of them a try.

Ice cream experiments

A while ago I tried making ice cream using the salad-spinner approach. This did not work well, so I ended up buying an ice cream maker (affiliate link). I’ve made plenty of experiments with it so far; here’s some of what I’ve done.

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All-purpose bread dough

Here’s the bread dough recipe I’ve been using for a while. I mostly use it for pizza crusts but it’s also great for loaves and rolls and a bunch of other stuff. It’s adapted from the simplest recipes and techniques in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day (affiliate link). There is also a newer edition (affiliate link) of the book although I haven’t seen what’s different in it.


  • 3 cups warm water
  • 1.5 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1.5 tbsp coarse salt (sea salt, kosher salt, etc.)
  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • ¼ cup rye flour


In a large container (I use one of these food storage boxes (affiliate link) — don’t forget the lid! (affiliate link)) combine the water, yeast, and salt. Wisk until consistent.

Then add the flours and stir until of consistent hydration.

That’s it! Now you just let it rise for a while, and then tear off a hunk of the dough and use it for whatever you want. Keep it in the refrigerator; cover it tightly if you like it to get a beer-like aroma, otherwise leave it cracked open a bit and just make sure you keep on adding enough moisture every few days.

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Ginger ale syrup

I just made some ginger ale syrup for making home-made ginger ale. It’s pretty easy! Just peel some ginger (use a spoon to remove the skin so you don’t waste the tasty flesh) and chop it up into thin-ish chunks, and put it into a saucepan with some water, some sugar, and other flavorings as you see fit (I used some pomegranate molasses, some coriander seed, and the peel and juice of a lemon). Then heat the water up and let the ginger steep for a while, then slowly bring it to a low boil.

Occasionally test the flavor, both to adjust the sugar level and to know when it’s gingery enough (don’t worry about extracting EVERY LAST BIT of ginger flavor, as that’s impossible and the point is to make something that tastes good, right?), and when it has a good flavor, use a wire strainer or the like to fish out as much solid stuff as you can. Then raise it to a moderate boil, and let it boil down until it’s 225-230F (don’t let it go any higher than that though, since at that point it starts to turn into candy).

Let it cool, and while it’s still warm and runny, strain it through a mesh strainer into a storage bottle of some sort.

To make the ginger ale, just mix some of the syrup with some soda water.

For bonus points, the chunks of ginger can be rolled in sugar and then put into an oven at 250F or so to dry them out a bit. And this is how you make candied ginger.

Orange cranberry sauce

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 12-ounce bag of cranberries, washed
  • 5-6 dried apricots, chopped
  • 1 navel orange
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 1 pod star anise
  • 1-2 cinnamon sticks
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ cup Cognac

Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan, and bring to a boil until clear. Add the cranberries and apricots and stir, reducing the heat to a low simmer. Zest and juice the orange into the saucepan. Add the cloves, anise, cinnamon sticks, and nutmeg and reduce until thick. Add the Cognac and LIGHT IT ON FIRE!!! (remember to keep your lid nearby in case it gets out of hand).

When it goes out, stir some more, and reduce to your desired consistency.

Serve warm, or allow to cool to room temperature before putting it in the fridge.

I can’t believe it’s not bacon quiche

I accidentally discovered how to make something that tastes like bacon quiche without involving any bacon (or any other meat).

  • Crust: Quick n Easy Quiche Crust (or just buy some of the premade ones at the grocery store, they’re totally fine)
  • Filling: layer shredded smoked gruyère, chopped fresh tarragon, and sliced mushrooms sauteed in olive oil, fresh tarragon, and balsamic vinegar
  • Pour in a mixture of 1 cup milk and four beaten eggs, and sprinkle more smoked gruyère and grated parmesean on top
  • Bake at 400F for 50 minutes or until set

The smoked gruyère, tarragon, and balsamic mushrooms combine to taste amazingly like bacon, with no bacon involvement.

Plaid Mittens

(Thanks to BunnyHugger for the name!)

In a cocktail glass:

  • Ice
  • 1.5 ounces rum
  • 1.5 ounces Maraschino liqueur (Luxardo)
  • 1.5 ounces lime juice
  • 1-2 Maraschino cherries (pref. also Luxardo; Marasca cherries steeped in their own liqueur are way better than Bing in sodium benzoate)
  • A splash of grenadine
  • Top off with ginger beer

Cold-brewed tea soda

A while ago I got a SodaStream water carbonator to replace my slowly-failing iSi siphon. While I haven’t used any of SodaStream’s own flavor syrups (as I have heard they are generally nasty, and all of them use sucralose which tastes bad and gives me a headache), I have of course made several bottles of soda flavored using Torani syrups. However, I found those to be a bit sickeningly-sweet, not to mention overpriced, but after a bit of experimenting I discovered a very simple means of making soda which is quite delicious and also much healthier: herbal tea!

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Piña Colada, reconstructed

Once upon a time, cocktails were very simple, elegant things with only a couple of key flavors combined in a balanced manner. For example, the classic martini (gin, vermouth, and an olive) and the classic daíquiri (rum, lime, simple syrup) are favorites that will last forever.

Unfortunately, somewhere along the line, mixed drinks started to become these ridiculously cumbersome things which involved blending and puréeing and so on, and from the 60s to the 80s we started to even see classic cocktails be ruined by this trend (now “martini” seems to mean “any horrible concoction in a martini glass,” and a daíquiri might as well be a strawberry smoothie).

With that in mind, I looked at the mixed drink which probably started it all — the piña colada — and attempted to reinvent it as if it were a classic cocktail. I served several of these at a small party last night, and they were a success.

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Tonight was of course פֶּסַח and so I went over to Berkeley for my cousin’s סֵדֶר, which is a large enough affair that he does it as a pot luck. Since I didn’t have any ideas for what to bring, he assigned me to do the חֲרֽוֹסֶת, which is one of the vital staple symbolic foods (it represents the mortar the slaves used to assemble the pyramids, never mind that the pyramids probably didn’t use mortar).

2020 update: Also it turns out that enslaved Jews didn’t build the pyramids, and the people who did build the pyramids probably weren’t slaves. It’s important to correct this misconception and decouple those two facts. Apparently חֲרֽוֹסֶת originally only symbolized mortar and adobe in general, as the connection with the pyramids was apparently only made in the 1970s. But do note that the Jews who did construction for the Egyptians were slaves, and פֶּסַח remains an important celebration of their liberation.

Growing up, eating חֲרֽוֹסֶת always seemed like something of a chore, so I decided to kick it up a bit and make it something people would actually want to eat. Since I didn’t know how many people were coming to dinner I made a whole bunch (which turned out to be about twice as much as needed). On the plus side, it was the hit of the dinner and people were commenting about it non-stop.

I ended up leaving all the leftovers with my cousin, since I don’t have any מַצָּה‎ to put it on and no inclination to eat it on its own.

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Easy sausage soup

When making soups it’s more a matter of technique and knowing what to combine and in what order, but some variations are good for seeing what sorts of experiments to try.

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Chicken andouille gumbo

There isn’t much authentic about this recipe (and technically it’s more of a jambalaya, being roux-thickened rather than using okra or filé), but this one gets rave reviews so I’m sharing it anyway.

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Tuna noodle casserole

Easy to make, filling, and doesn’t taste horrible. The ultimate cheap grad student food.

  • Prep time: 10 minutes of work, 30 minutes start to finish
  • Ingredient cost: around $4
  • Makes 4-6 servings
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