Blood and Chocolate Cupcakes

Sometime in the next week I’m going to try to get something on here about backyard butchering, vermiculture, or my wonderful washboard, but for now recipes with blood seem like the thing to do. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in the kitchen recently. Oh, and before the recipe– while we’re on the topic of my kitchen– I want to tangentially mention that the slug I found on a hike the other day is doing well. I just cleaned her temporary terrarium, made a new hiding structure out of a watermelon rind, and when I left she was munching lettuce. [A necessary tangent to this tangent: DO NOT EAT SLUGS RAW. Ever. Do not eat slugs without flushing their system. Do not eat slugs if you don’t know what you’re doing. More on safely cooking and eating slugs to come.]

Dinner time!

Dinner time!

Now, back to cupcakes. Serious business. These cupcakes are rich and chocolaty, fluffy, spicy, and altogether delicious. Once again, I used rooster blood that was allowed to coagulate, frozen, then blended to break up the clots.

Mmmmmm, chocolate!

Mmmmmm, chocolate!

Ingredients:

1/2 cup blood
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
pinch or two of salt
1/3 a cup of creamed coconut*
1/2 cup DAGOBA Organic Xocolatl Drinking Chocolate**
1/2 cup almond milk
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp paprika

 

*I used Aunt Patty’s Creamed Coconut, which is basically blended coconut. You can use coconut oil, but I think the flavor and texture of creamed coconut produces a better cupcake.

**I like using this hot chocolate mix because it has cinnamon, chili, and dark chocolate chips in it. You can use whatever chocolate powder you’d like, drink mix or otherwise, but if you’d like to substitute DAGOBA for something else, but keep the kick, add 1/4 tsp chili powder and one extra tsp of cinnamon. Feel free to be liberal with any chocolate chips you might want to incorporate.

Aaron graciously showcasing DAGOBA's Organic Xocolatl Drinking Chocolate

Aaron graciously showcasing DAGOBA’s Organic Xocolatl Drinking Chocolate

Aunt Patty's Creamed Coconut

Aunt Patty’s Creamed Coconut

 

First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Over low heat, melt your creamed coconut, stirring frequently so it doesn’t burn. Next, combine all of the ingredients BESIDES the flour.

Now isn't that pretty?

Now isn’t that pretty?

Once everything is incorporated, add the flour slowly.

Even after mixing in the flour, your batter shouldn't be too thick.

Even after mixing in the flour, your batter shouldn’t be too thick.

Pour mixture into a cupcake pan. You can either grease your pan, or use cupcake liners. Personally, I used olive oil for grease since I didn’t have any liners. Bake for about twelve to fifteen minutes, let cool, and frost.

Me holding the cupcakes.

Me showcasing uncooked cupcakes.

Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures of the frosted cupcakes (as soon each cupcake was frosted, they somehow seemed to disappear). I made a chocolate frosting and garnished the cupcakes with raspberries.

Yum! How could you not like cupcakes?

Yum! How could you not like cupcakes?

 

Ginger and Cayenne Blood Loaf

Little known fact: blood is an amazing egg substitute.

Your cookies will be chewy, sauces thick, and bread crunchy on the outside, fluffy on the inside. Promise.

For this loaf I used rooster blood that coagulated then was stored in the freezer for a few weeks. To defrost, I let the blood sit in the refrigerator overnight, then I put it in a blender to break up the clots. If you’re going to use fresh blood, you’ll need to add an anti-coagulant right after collecting it. A dash of apple cider vinegar does the job.

Ginger and cayenne blood loaf fresh from the oven!

Ginger and cayenne blood loaf fresh from the oven.

Ingredients:

1/4 cup hot water
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1/3 cup blood
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped crystalized ginger
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 fresh cayenne pepper*
1 cup flour

*You can substitute dried cayenne if you’d like, although I prefer to use fresh peppers so every now and then you get a little extra spice in your bite. Use cayenne to taste.

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine the hot water, sugar, and yeast. Stir and let them sit for about ten minutes. The mixture should froth up and bubble.

It's alive!

It’s alive!

Once the yeast mixture has begun to froth and bubble, combine it with the blood in a large bowl. Add salt, olive oil, and flour. Mix, then fold in cayenne and ginger.

Combine yeast mixture, blood, salt, and oil together before adding the flour.

The yeast mixture, blood, salt, and oil combined and awaiting flour, cayenne, and ginger.

The dough should be sticky, but still form a ball in the bowl. If it’s too wet, add more flour a tablespoon at a time. Cover and let sit for ten minutes to rise.

Oil a bread pan, place the dough ball inside, and bake for about thirty-five minutes. When you stick a toothpick into the dough, it should come out clean.

Enjoy!

Fluffy and delicious!

Fluffy and delicious!

Why DIY Slaughter?

About six months ago, when I was visiting my parents for dinner, I told them I was interested in slaughtering a chicken.

“I just don’t understand why you want to do this,” Mom said. “It seems immoral.” She said she didn’t want to imagine me killing anything.

And frankly, I didn’t want to imagine it either. For almost six years, I was vegetarian. When I was growing up we had chickens as pets; my neighbors and I would paint Lola’s and Nona’s toenails then walk them to the nearby park in handmade flannel harnesses. The idea of killing a chicken for meat was a very uncomfortable notion, and in some respects it still is.

But I steadied myself, sat straight, and said “Someone has to do it.” Which is true, even if we don’t want to believe it.

“But you don’t have to.”

I could tell Mom was getting disturbed; she said I would be making a chicken suffer.

And because I’m always mature and level-headed, I raised my voice and jabbed a finger at the partial roast chicken carcass that was resting on the table between us. “This chicken suffered!” I shouted.

How it is immoral to kill a chicken, but not immoral to eat it?

The Chicken Project, the original name I gave my quest to process a chicken myself, was born in the interest of aligning disconnects. There’s a disconnect between the production of meat and the consumption of it, and I believe this is where the moral dilemma comes in.

Tashi in the garden.

Tashi in the garden.

It’s very easy to buy meat from the store—you can get it cleaned, de-boned, de-skinned, and even shaped more like a hockey puck than a cow. You’re buying part of a dead animal, but you don’t need to confront it as such. I wonder, if packages contained pictures of chickens blinded by ammonia burns from the fecal concentration of their hen houses, or pigs being kicked and tortured, or cows with open ulcers, would it be so easy to buy pre-packaged, plastic-wrapped meat?

This disconnect between production and consumption occurs across the board in American society. What if Hershey’s Chocolate Kisses had snapshots of child slave laborers on them? Or cans of pork chili had before and after pictures of Brazilian rain forests that were cut down in order to grow the soybeans used to feed the pigs? Or what about wide-angle shots of the 20,000 gallons of water that get polluted to make one ton of bleached paper towels on each roll (the United States produces about 3,000 tons of paper towel waste daily)?

Brazil, Australia, Canada, and Egypt all have graphic art on cigarette packages: rotting teeth, diseased lungs, cancerous lesions. The idea of sticking photographs that show the indirect and often unseen consequences of products we use daily in the U.S. is basically the same thing, in my opinion.

It’s just so easy to believe, when you buy a clean slab of meat from the store, that it didn’t suffer. That the process, by being industrialized, regulated, and sanctioned is somehow cleaner, safer, and more humane. Which, evidence suggests, is just not true. I decided that I, at home and in my backyard, using birds that had been raised ethically and often not for meat, could do a better job.

So, I began processing my own meat and boycotting meat from animals that I don’t kill. If I don’t have a say in how animals are raised and slaughtered, then I have no control over or knowledge about the process. So far, it’s been chickens and ducks, although there’s a slug in my kitchen, housed in a temporary terrarium, as I type this (more on deep fried slug to come). I use a washboard for all my laundry, attempt to grow a meager amount of food in my garden, and try not to use more than I need. My goal with The Chicken Project abstain from industries I don’t believe in, find ways to live more responsibly and authentically, and to do my best to spread awareness about the ways in which humans can protect ourselves and the world in which we live.

chicken soup for people, organ soup for the dog

Chicken soup for people, organ soup for Tashi.