November 2010 archive

Vegan Cupcakes Invade My Oven…

…and it isn’t exactly a hostile take-over. πŸ˜‰

Wowzer. I was flipping through the cupcake book this afternoon, drooling at every single picture, and imagining all the wonderful parings of frosting and cupcakes I could create, when I realized I could be baking them right then and there. So I carefully got up from my chair (so as not to arouse suspicion from my Mum), and began to curdle my soy and coconut milk in the kitchen. I usually make a big mess when I bake, but then am not so good at the cleaning up part- in my defense, the sink is really high and I can’t really reach into it very easily.

I decided to bake a simple Agave Vanilla Cupcake, but added a little coconut milk (oh, the decadence!), and maple syrup for extra yum yum factor. They came together beautifully; the batter was so thick and creamy that it reminded me of Belgium waffle dough. They were this lovely golden brown color, thanks to the maple syrup, agave and copious teaspoons of vanilla I added to them. And 18 minutes later, they magically reappeared from the oven looking golden-er and smelling vanilla-ier than before! I hate waiting for them to cool, but every darn cookbook mentions this. Soooo I am being very patient, but am itching to frost them. I am thinking of adding some melted chocolate to a coconut based icing that we have. These thoughts are rather torturous to one who is immersed in the sweet smell of a dozen fresh baked cupcakes, so I will regretfully move from this topic to an equally wonderful one.

I received a letter from my good friend, Jess, who has left the island for Georgia, USA, to do what she loves; play the viola. Any booyyyyy does she play…I am so happy for her that she gets to do that all day long!! Paradise, but hard work. I feel so very fortunate to know such amazing talented, kind, generous people. We have been such wonderful friends since I arrived at GNS! Cornrowing each others hair at sleepovers, making ‘menus’, playing outside, choir several times a week, lunchtimes on the field gossiping, helping each other in school and bemoaning IB work. I miss her like bread misses butter. Can’t wait til Christmas break! Love you, Jessi <3

The cupcakes are cooling… 

Kristin is so wonderful and caring, and I look forward to our piano lessons together so much! We always have so much fun -> no ruler-hitting.-work-to-the-bone,-and-never-right,-and-mean teacher here, but there is oodles and oodles of learning happen’. You train a dog with biscuits, not kicks. :D. I write down my questions for her as I am practicing during the week, that way when we meet I can remember what parts I had trouble with. Kristin gave me a wonderful gift for my birthday: a pashmina scarf with piano notes and symbols on it in pink and l(y)me green, a CD of all the out-of-print jazz “Fake Books”, and a wonderful book of Chopin pieces, including all my favorite mazurkas, waltzes and preludes. Because I can play all the tricky Debussy pieces (nearly!), Chopin can’t be far behind. I wish that I had a prehensile pinky finger…that would really help playing his pieces!

Today, I was grilled on this incredible beautiful Chopin Waltz (posth., from the Trio Valses #2). It is very depressing to admit that although I am working hard on it and think I am playing it very fast, I am barely beyond half-speed!! It is played at a break-necked pace that surely no dancer could keep to, and my fingers sorely object. I do have all the notes in generally the right places which is always promising, but now I have to add in all the fiddly bits which are most time consuming; the pedaling, trills and occasionally fix up the odd slowdown/speedup’s that happen when one is learning. The other piece is Schuberts’ “Herberge”, which means a country inn. It is a delightful work with all this majestic dotted rhythm that carry me away in their boom. It moves from the sweetest pianissimo staccato passages to these sweeping, swelling chords. There is much room to rubato (classical musics’ ‘swing’ or stretching, in a way) and add emotion, which I do anyways, regardless of the rules.

Ah, music. Imagine if the early peoples had not felt the urge for rhythm, to beat on drums and to sing, to create primitive flute-esque and stringed instruments. What if no one had thought to use strings from the stomach of a goat?, a horse tail brush?, mahogany body?, black and white keys?, brass curves? It would be just us, alone in a wave of rhythm crying out for sound, and noise begging to be sculpted. The cacophony of life and the music inside. 

Fall

Fallen leaves scattered over the pavement is a rare sight in Victoria. Often the winters are so mild that the deciduous leaves are still on the trees in February, and once dropped, are quickly replaced by buds. Most of the leafy trees in the area are bare, because we have had quite a lot of fierce rain and wind, roughly knocking and shaking them off the tree, as if the elements are playing some sort of childish game.

Before my needle change today, we went to school to pick up my yearbook. I’m only a 1/3 of a year late, but no matter. I was very excited to see our grad and baby pictures, read the comments and laugh over the inside jokes and nicknames and memories. I have read many years of grad comments, but without really knowing the people all that well. It means more when you’ve known the people for 7 years. A big change. I said hello to the lovely lovely office staff, and our headmaster briefly. The office is a very busy center, situated between the library, main corridor and the freedom of the outdoors. It is strange that my friends baby brothers and sisters are now seniors, sweating through their full IB work, and are taller than me, or their siblings! I miss them all very much. πŸ™

Had my port needle changed, which was jolly good fun *rolls eyes*. Unfortunately, it has to be done every week which is irritating. I scar and bruise very easily, because I am so ‘fair skinned’ and because of the Lyme. There are nice little lumps of scar tissue over the port, which are quite uncomfortable when a fresh needle is poked through them. Doing IV twice a day doesn’t exactly help to alleviate the discomfort. I wouldn’t mind doing it quite as much if it didn’t taste bad and was very caustic going in. But then, if it wasn’t doing much good, there would be no point of doing it. NO one likes doing medication. Obviously. I like the kind of infection that can be cleared up with a few days to a weeks worth of antibiotics. Alas. I am very tired now.

Plying

I have been continuing to spin with the drop spindle which is so much fun. I have just finished my first few meters 2 ply wool in a nice heather gray color, which is about as thick as a water-sodden shishkebab stick.

It was very hard work, and I had to take several break while spinning, but listening to the epic Beowulf definitely spurred me on. Its one of my personal favorite, and every time I read it or listen to it, I can scarcely believe that is was written so long ago, and isn’t just a modern poem/short-story. I especially enjoy the epic battle with Grendel, and how he’s all…”well, Grendel doesn’t use weapons, so neither will I! I am just that tough! I have the strength of 30 men in my grip. Rawr!”. Total epic. All the power to you, Mr B-Wulf.

I think that Grendel is a good, solid name for a fat cat, don’t you?

Who-done-it?

I am exhausted, but in that good way, which means that you have belly-laughed for such an extended period of time, that it feels like you were doing Pilates instead. So much fun this evening! Four of my good friends came over to help celebrate my birthday! These are four of the silliest, giggliest, weirdest, most wonderful friends you could ever ask for. Even if you special-requested that combination of silly-giggly-weird-wonderful that is the five of us, I would doubt you could get anything nearly as crazy. Stray, Lisa, Sarah, Angie and I shared pizza and a lot of laughs. Angie brought the best-est vegan coconut cupcakes, and we all made wishes together.

We had a girls night, and instead of watching chick-flicks and gossiping (ohhkay, there was a little tiny bit of gossip), we played Clue! For some reason, all the adults I have met have despised the game, but all my friends go crazy for it. It was a cut-throat game; names were named, people were accused of crimes they did not commit- especially poor Colonel Mustard- but just as we thought it was a cold case, or someone had tampered with the evidence, Sarah uncovered the murderer in our midst. Oh, the drama! It was all very exciting. We kept getting louder and louder as the night progressed, and began to use sillier and sillier accents. We always seem to get that way when we are together. It was simply a perfect evening.

Games night rematch, anyone? I’ll keep you ladies posted. All my love!

Wait for the Cake!

18. Holy shit. I can no longer laugh at my friends for being ‘old’. I don’t feel a great epiphany or awakening or anything of that nonsense, but rather the same as I did a few days ago, much to my disappointment. I was hoping that I would magically be healed on such a very important day- sort of the reverse of Cinderella turning back into her old self. Alas, Disney gave us all rather impractical solutions to our problems.

I had a really wonderful time on my birthday the other day. Nancy and Phil came down from up Island for the day, and we had a big family dinner. My auntie and uncle went with me to this seriously awesome wool shop downtown called “Knotty by Nature“, which has everything fiber you could possibly desire, while greatly supporting our local sheep and shepherds! Now when I go into a wool store, I simple must touch everything. There are all these strange and wonderful blends of fiber…merino, cashmere, bamboo, linen, alpaca, kid mohair…each with their own addictive feel and story. After much stroking and color combination, I finally decided on 4 braids of unspun wool (the colors on my lap in this picture) in a blueberry, sky blue, stormy gray, and deep lilac. I can’t wait to start spinning them! I haven’t used a drop spindle in a very long time (actually, a decade), but the motion is one that comes relatively naturally. Just need to get my hands on one, and then I will be set.

Rows of dyed wool braids, and hand-dyed bits below.

After our sojourn to the yarn store, we arrived home in time to start dinner. The menu-> veg Phad Thai, which is possibly my favorite food ever, and for dessert a Vegan Carrot Cake with Coconut Cream frosting. A unique culture-clash. Heaven. We tried the pressed tofu, which is probably the tastiest ‘lil protein pack I have ever had the pleasure of sampling.

Tossing in the sprouts…

Crushed peanuts, lime juice, bean sprouts, tamarind, garlic, tomato paste: these flavors jump right off the plate, fresh from a well-seasoned wok. 

A wish.

Like most birthday girls, I find the wait for the cake almost impossible. No matter how fine a main course, or salad, it is the desert that is the show-stopper.

After much searching and deliberation, I adapted this recipe from one I found on the nakedeats Blog; Community Vegan Carrot Cake.

~Naked Carrot Cake~

Ingredients:
    ⁃    2 1/4 cups all purpose flour  (1.25 cup AP, 1 WW)
    ⁃    1 heaping T cinnamon
    ⁃    2.5 teaspoons all spice
    ⁃    2 teaspoons fresh-ground nutmeg
    ⁃    1/2 teaspoons cardamom, ground
    ⁃    1 teaspoon baking powder
    ⁃    2 teaspoons baking soda
    ⁃    1 teaspoon salt
    ⁃    1/4 cup agave
    ⁃    3 teaspoons vanilla
    ⁃    1 cup olive oil
    ⁃    2 cups finely grated carrots
    ⁃    1 cup crushed pineapple including juice
    ⁃    1 cup shredded coconut
    ⁃    2/3 cup chopped pecans
    ⁃    1/2 cup raisins

Method:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grind all spices (cinnamon, all spice, nutmeg, cardamom). Mix together the flours, baking soda and powder, salt and spices. Set aside.
Mix the agave with the olive oil in an electric mixer, then drizzle in the fragrant vanilla.
Slowly fold in the dry ingredients mixture. It may seem dry, but not once all the fruits and veggies are added. :D. Add the pineapple and juice and mix. Then add the carrots, coconut, raisons, and nuts. Don’t overland.
Grease and flour a round 9”pan (easiest with a spring-form pan). Pour in the cake batter. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the cake is pulling away from the sides.

I know it is hard, but let it cool completely before frosting and eating. Gets better with age! ~

The results were sensational: a pleasantly fragrant and fruity cake, not too sweet, but dense and chewy. Just the way it should be. It got rave reviews and clean plates from the rest of the family. A job well done if I do say so! After such an eventful day, the only missing from this picture of happiness was to register to vote! I’ve had a SIN# in the States since birth, so it was easy to register to vote down there, but alas, the next election isn’t until 2012. And I was so looking forward to exercising my democratic rights. When one comes of age, you can vote, and be in a porno, which were both very exciting options, but I stuck with voting :P. I realized that I didn’t have a Canadian SIN#, so I will have to get one very soon so I can register to vote here. Because the elections happen whenever the parties want (a very odd policy, in my opinion. I like knowing we can get rid of people after four years, thank-you-very-much!), there is no set date for an election, but I bet there is a municipal one sooner or later! One can only hope!

All and all, I had a rather wonderful day. For some reason, people seem to enjoy saying “You are only 18 once”, but it is true of every other age as well! Undoubtedly this year will bring me closer to that elusive “health” and the pursuit of dreams beyond. <3

Cake cake cake!

Well, it was a considerable amount of work, but the carrot cake is currently cooling, and the kitchen is in complete chaos. I think we dirtied ever spoon and measuring cup we posses, plus a pot, several cans, a blender and many bowls. Wow. An all time record, I think.

Personally, I don’t believe in this nonsense about cooling a cake before you eat it. I mean, it is best straight from the pan, right? Gotta save this cake for ma birthday, though. Alas, it is a circular cake, which means you can’t even cut off one end without anyone noticing, like you can a rectangular cake! I ate some of the batter (don’t worry, it’s vegan), which was super spiced and delicious, but its not the same. I ate some of the hot frosting too (coconut cream!), and licked out all the bowls and spoons, so I think I have a pretty decent idea of what it will all taste like. Once the flavors settle I think it will be magnificent.

I have been busily searching for a recipe online that looked like it contained normal ingredients, low in sugars, and vegan. It was not easy, and it make me super hungry looking at all the pictures.

Today I also made the Phad Thai sauce required for tomorrows dinner. I “measure” with my nose, because I know how it should smell and how it should end up texture wise. A combination of (organic) ketchup, soya sauce, lime juice, corn starch, tamarind juices, and thai chillies. Fish sauce is usually a phad thai staple, but I used a little more soy sauce to cover that. Boy I just can’t wait to try it!
I am exhausted from all that hard work (Mum did all the real work, I just sort of supervised), and am ready to rest, contented that it will all taste delicious!

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