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New Year, new journal.

3rd. Jan, 2011 | 12:25 pm

I decided to have a change and switch to a new journal: emmeranne . Feel free to add me if you want; I won't be deleting this one, but I won't be using it either.

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Free to a good home.

1st. Jan, 2011 | 04:25 pm

Some things I'd like to give away, rather than chuck out:

Straight knitting needles, sizes 3mm (metal), 3.75mm (metal), 8mm (plastic), 9mm (pink metal).

Zines:
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...and a few more zines that aren't pictured.

A Sanyo TV (more details later when Garrett gets home, because I'm feeling lazy)

All yours if you want to come pick them up from Braddock, near Pittsburgh, or don't mind Paypal-ing me money for postage. I'd rather not split up the zine pack, nor the needles, though.

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LOLZ.

23rd. Dec, 2010 | 11:10 am

On the twelfth day of Christmas, rice_dream_girl sent to me...
Twelve letters learning
Eleven recipes exploring
Ten nerds a-cooking
Nine bikes spring
Eight podcasts a-sewing
Seven adventures a-reading
Six bagels a-procrastinating
Five fi-i-i-ilm studies
Four blue skies
Three charity shops
Two vegan marshmallows
...and a chai in an equality.
Get your own Twelve Days:


"Ten nerds a-cooking"

Story of my life :D

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My baby <3

16th. Dec, 2010 | 11:13 pm

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One hour in my life today: 1530 - 1630.

10th. Dec, 2010 | 05:29 pm

I'd been wrapping presents, buying wrapping supplies and writing cards since about 1200 today. I'd figured that four hours would be plenty of time for me to do all that, and it was, but only just. I'd walked a mile to the local shop to get wrapping paper, come home, made a cup of tea, and started doing what needed to be done. I had thought it wasn't very much. Keep in mind that the Post Office closes at 1630, and I'd been told that the absolute last time they'd accept parcels was 1615. So, it gets to 1530, I've had no lunch, and...


1530: Most presents are wrapped. Cards are all written. Decide that I can't send of a pair of wrist warmers where one has a giant, loose thumb and the other can barely fit a thumb in it, so I frog one of the thumbs and decide to do it again. I figured it'd take me 10 minutes, tops.

1540: Ten minutes have passed, thumb is still only half done. Realise that not only must I finish knitting it, but also need to weave in the ends to make it neat. Panic sets in.

1545: THE THUMB STILL ISN'T DONE. Hands start shaking. Apparently my body has decided to make this more of "a challenge" for me, to see how I cope with being unable to hold the damn thing steady.

1555: Success!! The thumb is done. Weave in ends.

1600: Shit fuck bollocks I had planned to be out of here by now. Throw tissue paper around wrist warmers, throw them into the box. Decide to ask Mum to put them in a pretty gift bag before giving them to my Aunt. Realise I had used a box that was too small and still needed to make a sturdy lid to go on top of it. Gah!

1605: Lid is made. Cut wrapping paper to about the right size. Scissors keep snagging on it, making it look like a child has wrapped it. Fuck it, keep going. NO TIME TO REDO ANYTHING!

1610: Success!! Parcel is wrapped. About to leave, realise something is missing... Oh, the fucking label. Idiot. Scribble label. Sorry Donna, I had wanted this to be beautiful, but erm, at least it'll be there on time.

1615: SPRINT to the Post Office. Luckily it's only half a block away, but I'm unfit, so I turn up low on blood sugar, shaky, and out of breath. On my way there I run past my housemate Trey, who is returning from work. He slows down and looks bemused by me running with a large colourful parcel. I don't stop to say hi, just keep running. At the desk, Cindy (the post lady) tells me that the paper I have used is too thin and will rip straight off, taking the address with it. She recommends wrapping it with brown paper. They don't have any for sale though. She suggests using carrier bags. SHIT FUCK BOLLOCKS. She says that she will still accept it if I can make it back by 1630. I accept this challenge, and sprint home, this time uphill. Spot our neighbours out walking their dogs and looking confused as to why I'm carrying a giant box with colourful wrapping paper on it. They wave but don't say anything, I simply scream "LAST POSTING DATE TO UK IS TODAY AND THE PAPER IS TOO THIN! AAAAAAAAAAAARGH!!" They laugh very hard. I run inside.

1620: I can't find any fucking brown paper. Cutting up and resticking carrier bags will take too long. BRAIN WAVE! I will cover the entire thing in clear parcel tape. SUCCESS!

1625: SPRINT back to the Post Office. Cindy smiles and says, "Oh that's a good idea, I wish I had thought of that, I could have done it for you!" I force a smile and say "Don't tell me that!" I fill out a customs form. Cindy is impressed that I came prepared and had already written down exactly what's inside the parcel. The parcel is weighed. "That'll be $53, please," says Cindy. Feel annoyed at how expensive stupid postage is, but hand over money. Parcel gets labels and stamps and is handed to the guys in the back to be delivered, in time to make it to the UK for Christmas.

1630: Collapse in heap in Post Office. Refuse to move until someone brings me a cup of tea.



Donna, you will quite possibly never be able to get into this parcel, I'm sorry.

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Cupcakes: I have neglected you for too long.

7th. Dec, 2010 | 06:34 pm

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It's been quite a while since I baked cupcakes, but today I was craving them. I wanted something that would be fun to make, so these were ideal with the various steps of making two cake batters, swirling them together, then decorating them with a new flavour of frosting. I decided to make marbled pumpkin-chocolate cupcakes with pumpkin spice frosting, and I'm really happy with how they turned out, both in terms of appearance and flavour. Though it is delicios, I think the huge pile of frosting is a little much for me, and I was full up after only half a cupcake!

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Wish List 2010.

16th. Nov, 2010 | 03:38 pm

Christmas is coming, so I decided to compile my paper lists of "stuff I'd like" into an internet version. There's a mixture of things that are more realistic (books, yarn), things I'd love but can't justify their realative expense ($30 Moomins mugs), dream items (Addi click circular needle set, cursive typewriter, a car), hard to find (vegan boots!) and just plain silly (a new back, please!), and explanations for the things I'm more picky about (like the coffee grinder). I figure it's good to have a list of things I'd like for the day when I finally have a job, too.


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I'd love a manual conical burr coffee grinder for making French pressed coffee at home. Having asked around at various coffee shops, I was recommended that I should buy an old manual grinder rather than a new electric one, because they give far better results for much less money. It's important that it's a coffee grinder rather than an espresso grinder, as the latter would grind the coffee too finely for my needs. I already have a spinning blade grinder, but it's rubbish and produces uneven grinds, which means bad coffee. The barista I spoke to told me to get a conical burr grinder, and pointed me in the direction of orphanespresso.com, which refurbishes manual grinders and guarantees that they will serve their purpose properly. They have one in stock at the moment that looks perfect!

My favourite kind of coffee comes from Intelligentsia or Stumptown. I don't like dark roasted coffee, and I like these two because they deal directly with the grower. I hate Starbucks! It might be nice to have a travel mug or flask to carry tea / coffee in when I start taking the bus once I get a job, too (see below for the best Moomins flask everrrrr!).

I love tea, but I still don't have a teapot! This one by Bodum looks about right, though I'd also be happy with a smaller pot for the times when I'm only making tea for myself.


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I have a lot of free time, and enjoy spending it crafting. At the moment, most of my knitting needles are Addi Turbos, but I'd like to have a better collection of them in different sizes (all with 32" cords, as these are the most versatile). In my dreams, I'd have the Addi click needles set, but as this is $150, I think that's going to have to wait a while! Until then, I'll keep buying them individually. In order of preference, the sizes I'd like most at the moment are: 8mm needles with 32" cord, 10mm needles with 32" cord, 7mm / 32" and 9mm / 32", but anything from 3mm to 12mm with a 32" cord is good.

My favourite vegan-friendly yarn is Blue Sky Alpacas Dyed Cotton because it's incredibly soft and nice to knit with. My favourite colourways are: Ink, Espresso, and Aloe, but I like most of their colours and would be happy with any, really. I also like Rowan All Seasons Cotton.

I also love to sew. I have a Singer sewing machine, and a serger would be really useful too. I haven't done too much research into the exact type I'd like because they're expensive, but Singer and Brother machines seem to be recommended by most people. I really like old or vintage-inspired fabric, particularly that with small floral prints but I'm really picky! I'd like to learn how to quilt, and every time I go the thrift stores I look for cute comforters and bed linen.


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I'm trying to spend more time reading and less time on the internet, and I want to read more feminist literature, both non-fiction and fiction. Here are some from my to-read list:

bell hooks: Feminism is for Everybody

The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath: Ariel

And here is a list of Feminist fiction that interests me.

And no book list of mine would be complete without cookbooks!
I've wanted The Bread Baker’s Apprentice for ages, and Garrett and I love Mexican food, so Viva Vegan! would be great, too.

I also like lined A5 notebooks, particularly those which have quite plain covers like Moleskine, and I like to write letters, so nice writing paper and envelopes would be lovely. I like to type on my 60's Smith Corona typewriter, and I'd love to have a cursive typewriter some day!


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I absolutely love The Moomins! They're a Finnish cartoon that was turned into a TV show, and when I was younger my family and I went to Finland to visit my Mum's penpal, who took us to Moominland! I already have the first book, but I'd love to collect more of them. I'd honestly be happy with Moomin themed anything, but the Moomins flask (above) is perfect!

Moomins comic book 2

Moomins comic book 3

Back in the UK, I have two Moomins mugs (this one and this one). I'd love to add this one or this one of Sniff to my collection though!


I'd love to make Butterbeer like in Harry Potter, and all the recipes I've found for it have included Monin butterscotch syrup. I checked, and it's definitely vegan!


My favourite sweets are Twilight bars (you can get these from Whole Foods), which I think are like a vegan version of 3 Musketeers. I've also always wanted a fancy box of vegan chocolates but I've never seen any. Apparently they do exist, but they're crazy expensive! I'll happily eat almost any kind of chocolate, but I'm not too keen on coconut or marzipan.


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My back is rubbish and often hurts me a lot, so I'd like a new one, or my own personal masseur and chiropractor on call whenever needed. Alternatively, our bed is also quite hard (but Garrett likes it like that), so a more comfortable mattress topper would be wonderful, as would nicer pillows! I'd also like to redecorate our room, and make it lighter and more airy, because winter's closing in and I don't want to feel like I'm living in a cave. Garrett wants to paint the walls dark blue, but I'd compromise with plain dark sheets and light walls. Although I dress in almost complete black most of the time, I like the opposite for my home. I like plain fabrics in light, muted colours, or old ones with really tiny prints. I really like white, off-white, and extremely light pinks, blues and greens with grey undertones (I don't like pastel / baby colours). We also don't have proper curtains yet, but again, I've been putting off getting them until we've decided on a compromise between the vintage-y room I want, and the punk boys room that Garrett wants! I'd like a really big cork board for our room, too.


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I absolutely love Doc Marten's, but they stopped making vegan, non-leather ones a few years ago. I check eBay really often to try and find a pair (I'm a UK 5.5, which I think is US 7.5 / 8). I'd also like to find flat, skinny, lace-up ankle boots like these or these, but they'd have to be non-leather.


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Some day I'd like to have my own car. Ideally I'd like an old diesel Mercedes sedan with a manual transmission, but Garrett says they don't really exist over here! My main priority with a car is for it to be diesel, so I could convert it to veggie oil. Maybe some day I'll learn how to do it myself; I want to learn more about cars so I keep asking Garrett lots of questions. Some day I'd also love an old, British built Mini!

I'd also really like my own bike, but I don't really know much about them so once I can get one, I'll be asking Garrett for lots of help to find the one that's right for me. I've been using his for the time being, but it's a little bit too big for me.

Edited to add:
The Professional Barista's Handbook,
The Purity Myth,
A decent desk chair,
Cute old photo frames

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I MADE A HAT!!

12th. Nov, 2010 | 09:40 pm

I've never made a hat before... BUT LOOK! A HAT! THAT I MADE! This took me 5 episodes of Project Runway to complete.

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It looks like there's a turtle on my head.
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Film screening in Braddock, this Wednesday (Nov 11th).

7th. Nov, 2010 | 03:45 pm

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Happy Birthday, Trey!

31st. Oct, 2010 | 11:25 pm

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It was Trey's birthday yesterday, so I made him an over the top sugar fest of a cake. It consisted of 3 layers of chocolate cake, sammiched together with vanilla / Oreo cookie frosting. It was then covered in PB frosting and topped with chocolate ganache, and decorated with more frosting, double stuf Oreos, and Peanut Chews. It made my teeth hurt.

Click to see what we did with it.Collapse )

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Vegan croissants.

20th. Oct, 2010 | 04:22 pm

hustlee and I spent a long, looong time preparing these croissants (both plain and chocolate!) over the past couple of days. LOOK AT THOSE LAYERS!

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Cut for more.Collapse )

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Coffee.

29th. Sep, 2010 | 01:05 pm

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Having had a stressful start to the day, and being Downtown, I decided to treat myself to some delicious coffee, and some food for my otherwise empty tummy. I headed straight to 21st St coffee shop, and got a vegan blueberry muffin and two double shots of espresso. First up, hurrah for them having a vegan option! I would say that my muffins are far superior, but still, it wasn't bad at all, and it's so nice to be catered for. Initially, I was only planning on having one shot of espresso, but I decided that whilst I was there I should make the most of the chance to taste some new things, and try to learn a bit more about coffee by talking to real people who know their stuff, rather than just reading about it.

First up was Intelligentsia's house blend, called Black Cat, and then once I'd expressed interest in delving a little deeper than just getting a hit of caffeine, it was suggested that I tried the single origin: Finca la Soledad, from Guatemala. I haven't quite figured out how to describe what I was tasting, but I definitely noticed that each shot gave me different sensations on different areas of my tongue. It was really nice to try them one after the other so as to better compare them and notice the differences, even though I can't quite articulate it.

I had a nice informative chat with the baristi, who suggested that in order to try and teach myself how to taste properly, I might try tasting various fruits and nuts in their purest forms (ie: unroasted, unsalted cashews, hazelnuts, etc), and making notes. They also suggested I take a look at a coffee flavour wheel. So, here it is:

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Hopefully this will explain a little more why I'm developing an interest in coffee; it doesn't have to be a bitter drink made palatable with lots of milk, sugar and other flavourings!

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Autumn milky drink.

27th. Sep, 2010 | 08:53 pm

Silk's new line of almond milk (original, vanilla and chocolate) are now one of my favourite dairy milk alternatives. They're easily the richest and creamiest available, and when I want a sweeter non-dairy milk, this is the one I go for. Tonight, I made an almond milk steamer to wind down with for the evening:

Heat one mug of vanilla almond milk with the tiniest pinches of the following: cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves and salt. You really only want the tiniest amount of each to keep the flavours from overwhelming you.

...That's it.

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Stew.

19th. Sep, 2010 | 02:37 pm

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Few things make me happier than a big bowl of stew. It's the easiest and tastiest way to fill my tummy, eat healthily, and remind me of home and my favourite pregan meal: Mum's beef stew. Some day I'll remember to make suet dumplings to go with it, too. I don't have a proper recipe, but here's a rough guide:

Take a large saucepan and fry a large onion with some garlic, then add carrots and mushrooms and cook until the onions are translucent. To this, throw in chopped swede, turnips and potatoes, pour in enough vegetable stock to cover everything by about an inch. Stir in some tomato puree (sometimes I just use leftover pasta sauce - so long as it's thick and tomato-y, it's probably good), plenty of vegan Worcestershire sauce, paprika, some liquid smoke (or used smoked paprika instead), a little bit of molasses and bring to boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to a very low simmer, put on the lid, and leave to slow cook for between one and three hours. Season with black pepper and salt to taste.

I fucking love Autumn.










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Goodbye High Fructose Corn Syrup, Hello Corn Sugar (Signed, Corn Industry)

16th. Sep, 2010 | 08:52 pm

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/09/14/corn-sugar-high-fructose-corn-syrup_n_716007.html

Text from article.Collapse )

The amount of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in American foods creeps me out, and I do my best to avoid it as much as possible (with few exceptions). Here are some reasons why:

With regards to the Corn Refiners Association claiming that HFCS is "natural": "An FDA employee was quoted saying "The use of synthetic fixing agents in the enzyme preparation, which is then used to produce HFCS, would not be consistent with our (…) policy regarding the use of the term 'natural'." Also: "HFCS is not a "natural" ingredient due to the high level of processing and the use of at least one genetically modified (GMO) enzyme required to produce it."

Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, called advertisements attempting to improve the image of HFCS "deceptive", stating: "High-fructose corn syrup starts out as cornstarch, which is chemically or enzymatically degraded to glucose and some short polymers of glucose. Another enzyme is then used to convert varying fractions of glucose into fructose...High-fructose corn syrup just doesn't exist in nature."

Jacobson also stated: "Since HFCS is present in a staggering amount of food in the US, and in most foods marketed to children, there are doubts as to whether it can be consumed in moderation. [...] Unless you're making a concerted effort to avoid it, it's pretty difficult to consume high-fructose corn syrup in moderation"

In response to criticism of the new campaign to rebrand HFCS, the President of the Corn Refiners Association stated: "'corn sugar' succinctly and accurately describes what this natural ingredient is and where it comes from – corn." What the misleading arsehole chooses to ignore is that the name high fructose CORN syrup already does describe where it comes from, but is more likely to alert the consumer to the changes that the product has undergone in the process.

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Awesome day of post!

9th. Sep, 2010 | 04:33 pm

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Cut for photos.Collapse )

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Happy September!

1st. Sep, 2010 | 04:08 pm

September means it's nearly autumn. Autumn means pumpkin. REJOICE!!


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1. Onion, tomato and nutritional yeast focaccia bread.
2. Pumpkin chocolate chip muffins(!)
3. Caramelised onion and garlic focaccia bread.


Even though it's still crazy hot and humid over here, this morning started off a little cooler. Rather than appreciate the respite, I jumped at the chance to turn on the oven and get baking, and tried out my newest pumpkin muffin recipe. I'm extremely happy with it! I then decided that I should do more things to make me feel happy, so after having made the house smell of pumpkin, I decided to make it smell of more of my favourites: bread, onions and garlic. Yum!

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(no subject)

23rd. Aug, 2010 | 09:53 am

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Chewy, thin cookies.

4th. Aug, 2010 | 01:39 pm

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I've spent many, many hours trying to perfect the chocolate chip cookie. For me, they should be thin and chewy, crisp around the outside and chewy in the middle, and taste of molasses, vanilla and hints of caramel. I've nearly cracked it! I also adapted the recipe to make a tasty ginger molasses cookie. Again, it needs tweaking, but I'm pretty happy with them as trial batches.

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Homemade vegan donuts!

2nd. Aug, 2010 | 10:04 am

Yeah, we went there.

Yeast raised, deep fried, little bites of joy. I fucking love donuts. Pictured are chocolate with sprinkles, sugar ring donuts, and jam (or "jelly") donuts. Not pictured, we also made kind of Boston Creme donuts, and unglazed custard donuts. Even though we made them last night, I still feel full now. Amazing.

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Partners in greasy crime.Collapse )

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My finest hour to date!

31st. Jul, 2010 | 07:31 pm

I baked these a while ago for someone's birthday, but the photos were on my housemate's camera. I'm pretty proud of myself for these! Of course, they're all vegan, even the marshmallows, and there's no hydrogenated oil or high fructose corn syrup in any of them, either.

Hot chocolate inspired cake.

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Chocolate cake, chocolate frosting filling and sides, covered in chocolate ganache, topped with Dandies vegan marshmallows, more ganache and chocoalte and vanilla frosting decorations.



Banana split inspired cake.

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Banana cake sandwiched with vanilla frosting, strawberry jam, and topped with chocolate frosting, ganache, vanilla frosting swirls, dried banana chips and Newman O's.



Chocolate cherry cream cake.

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Chocolate cake sandwiched together with vanilla frosting and cherry preserves, covered with chocolate ganache and decorated with vanilla frosting and cherries.



Carrot cake.

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Light carrot cake covered with cream cheese frosting, decorated with chopped walnuts.



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Cross posted all over the place.

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Summer slowness.

31st. Jul, 2010 | 01:05 pm

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I haven't been baking very much recently, and I blame the heat. I'm not used to these American summers. Whilst the heat is unusual to me, the humidity can be unbearable at times. For me, summer is usually clouds and rain and complaining, and the occasional headline-making "heat wave" resulting in the entire country stripping off, lathering themselves in oil, and frazzling their skin to "make the most of" the fleeting sunshine. Not so over here. We had a brief moment of respite yesterday, with a wonderfully cool night. We also had some awesome house guests, so I teamed up with one of them and we baked these pumpkin spiced sticky buns. They were so incredibly delicious, and I love making dough; I find it therapeutic. It's also lovely to make with someone else. We ate them fresh out of the oven while sat on our porch, drank almond milk, and talked until 3am: the perfect summer night!

These buns were pumpkin flavoured with various autumnal spices, rolled up with cinnamon sugar, and glazed with caramelized brown sugar and chopped pecans. Very out of season, but autumn brings my favourite flavours and a more inviting kitchen temperature in which to bake, so forgive my early excitement!









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x3years!x

19th. Jul, 2010 | 08:21 am

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It's now been 3 years since I last drank alcohol, which I feel has been an excellent decision. This calls for a root beer party!

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Stop consuming animals.

15th. Jul, 2010 | 11:50 am

Today's moment of my delayed teenage angst is brought to you by another person's lyrics:

I speak outside what is recognized as the border between reason and insanity. But I consider it a measure of my humanity to be written off by the living graves of a billion murdered lives. And I'm not ashamed of my recurring dreams about me and a gun and a different species of carnage strewn about the stockyards, the factories and farms. Still I know as well as anyone that it does less good than harm to be this honest with a conscience eased by lies. But you cannot deny that meat is still murder. Dairy is still rape. And I'm still as stupid as anyone, but I know my mistakes. I have recognized one form of oppression, now I recognize the rest. And life's too short to make another's shorter.

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Hurrah for parcels!

12th. Jul, 2010 | 02:24 pm

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After a rough, challenging, yet productive few days, something nice happened: I got fun stuff in the post! I love getting letters and packages, and today I got a reply from Amber (she writes Culture Slut and Fight Boredom!), and a cute mini parcel from Donna. I now have cursive typewriter envy (SO COOL), but also a new pair of my favourite Topshop Y-front underwear, and a cute chew toy for Lady, which she is protectively guarding right now. Thank you!

I've been really good about writing to do lists, recently, and they are so, so helpful. I'm getting a lot of things done, and not wasting as much time as I usually do. I feel pretty good about this.

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Typewriter help needed!

12th. Jul, 2010 | 10:25 am

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Does anyone here have any knowledge of typewriters?

I'm struggling to find out which ribbon to buy for mine; I've got a fairly good idea but I want to know how to be sure. It's a Smith-Corona Corsair Deluxe, from around the 1960s as far as I can tell from looking at timelines of Smith Corona models, but I get no results at all when I Google the serial number. I think the ribbon I linked to above should be the right one, but then it says something about maybe needing to respool it? As the photo shows, mine doesn't have sppols. Should it have them already? I really can't afford to buy it and then it be the wrong one and for it to go to waste. I'm also worried about potentially needing more bits and pieces that are also hard to track down with no serial number.

Please help!















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I laughed so hard that I cried.

6th. Jul, 2010 | 06:28 pm

http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/07/dog.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Hyperbole-and-a-half+%28Hyperbole-And-A-Half%29

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Click the link for the funniest thing I've seen in ages (the above picture is a very small part of it). I wish my brother were here to read over it again with me, I know he'd love it! I also just found out that he got a 2:1 for his photography degree. I AM SO PROUD OF HIM!

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Coffee syrups.

24th. Jun, 2010 | 02:00 pm

PhotobucketYesterday, I had my first attempt at making coffee syrups. Usually, I prefer to drink fancy coffee black and pure, as any additions mask the more subtle schmancy flavours of good coffee (which is probably why people are able to stomach godawful Starbucks coffee, so long as it's covered by other flavours). Some day, I will have enough money where I can justify drinking espresso based drinks at nice, independent coffee shops on a more regular basis, but for now, I'll settle with jazzing up our French pressed coffee a little and just consider them to be coffee flavoured beverages.

Buying syrups from shops is damn expensive, and is money that I simply don't have. Plus, I much prefer to make things myself, so that I know exactly what I'm eating and drinking. So, of course, I made syrup! It's incredibly easy; here's a recipe for one cup of syrup that you can adjust to your own tastes:

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
1-2 tsp flavourings


Boil the water and sugar for 10 minutes, stirring constantly. It should reduce by half, making one cup.
Leave to cool for a while, then stir in the flavouring. Adding it before will impair the flavour.


Flavour suggestions:
Caramel syrup: Swap the granulated sugar for dark brown sugar.
Pumpkin pie spice: 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ginger, 1/2 tsp allspice, large pinch cloves, small pinch nutmeg.
Vanilla extract.
Almond extract.

Any other suggestions?







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Pupcakes.

22nd. Jun, 2010 | 12:11 am

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I made vegan pupcakes - complete with frosting and homemade dog biscuit toppers! - with the kids last week. They went down an absolute treat!

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Happy birthday, Aedan!

6th. Jun, 2010 | 07:20 pm

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Today was Aedan's Lord of the Rings themed tenth birthday party! People got dressed up, the kids went on a "quest" through the woods, all food was vegan (this is a totally vegan family!) and there was a band playing, too. I made him a three layered chocolate cake with vanilla frosting and strawberry jam, and 48 chocolate vanilla cupcakes, to make sure there was enough to go around.

Cut for more photos.Collapse )

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Testing: Banana bread French toast.

6th. Jun, 2010 | 06:43 pm

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I made banana bread french toast from The Urban Housewife's upcoming book for breakfast the other day. It took a fair bit of preparation, but it was SO worth it.

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Raspberry lemonade.

2nd. Jun, 2010 | 04:46 pm

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Since moving to America, I've become aware of just how much crap is crammed into foods, the main offenders being hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup. Anyone who knows me is aware of my love of Mountain Dew. It's one of the things I joke about being what brought Garrett and I together, after all! Though Garrett is a "purist" and refuses all Mtn Dew that's not original, I prefer "throwback" Mountain Dew, simply because it doesn't contain high fructose corn syrup. Granted, it's still full of other crap, but I don't drink 'doo on a daily basis (err... not any more, at least), and I do what I can within my budget limitations. I will absolutely not claim to have cracked into the idea of an ideal diet, but I am constantly trying to reflect on my choices and improve them. Back home in the UK, I never used to give too much thought to additives and frankenfoods, (and besides, the government, some businesses and certain supermarkets had begun to do that for me) but now they're starting to bother me.

I'm clearly not a health freak vegan (not that there's anything wrong with that!), and I eat more than my fair share of sugar and other things that are bad for me, but alien food that's been created in a lab somewhere is beginning to be a step too far for me. I'm becoming more and more concerned when I look at ingredients listings and have no idea what they are or what effect they will have on my body. For me, one of the joys of baking is having a better idea of exactly what it is I'm eating, even when I'm consuming junk food. Some day when I have my own vegan bakery, I don't want to be selling stuff to people when I don't know about its origins. I have already made the decision never to use high fructose corn syrup or hydrogenated oils in my products. I will not be claiming my bakery is "healthy", because it will be indulgent, rich food, but I want to be able to stand behind my products, and at least know if they were grown or processed into something not resembling their original form at all, or straight up "created".






On this note, here is a recipe for homemade lemonade. It's extremely sweet, but you can adjust it to your tastes, switch the sugar for a more natural sweetener, whatever. There are only 4 ingredients and it is absolutely delicious!

Raspberry lemonade.

1 cup water,
1 cup sugar,
1 cup freshly squeezed lemons,
Raspberries (fresh or frozen) as desired.


In a medium pan, boil the water and stir in the sugar until dissolved.
Leave to cool.
Add freshly squeezed lemon juice. You now have the syrup mixture with which to make lemonade. Refrigerate until needed.
In a large pitcher, add 4-5 cups of cold water, loads of ice, and a cup or two of raspberries, and serve.

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MERRY CHRISTMAS!

28th. May, 2010 | 10:06 am

Yesterday, I was showered with gifts from the West Coast, the UK AND France. I was well and truly spoiled!

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Lady watches me open my gifts!



Cut to save your jealousy ;)Collapse )

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NYC photos.

12th. May, 2010 | 07:22 pm

I had made a proper post with more detail than this one a couple of days ago, and then lost it. Bugger. So, here's a stripped down version.

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My friend Emily, who works at Boneshakers, asked me to do one side of the sign for the day. When I was stumped for ideas, she said to do a self portrait. Every time my friends impersonate me, they include "OI!" at the beginning of each sentence, so I felt I had to include that.


Things I saw.Collapse )



Coffee!Collapse )



Savoury things I ate.Collapse )




Last but not least, sweet things I ate!Collapse )

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Busy week full of cupcakes.

2nd. May, 2010 | 02:46 pm

It has been a busy week. Some friends of friends were in town, and they decided they wanted me to make them cupcakes for lunch each day. So I did! Here are some photos of the different flavours I came up with. It was a great opportunity to focus on one particular type of baked good, and see how far I could take it. I feel quite proud of myself!

Basic double vanilla.
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Chocolate peanut butter.
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Chocolate cupcake filled with vanilla frosting (no inside shots, I'm afraid!), topped with ganache.
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Chai latte cupcakes: chai cake with vanilla ("milk") frosting.
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Mocha cupcakes: Chocolate coffee cupcakes with vanilla ("milk") frosting.
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At Voluto, with the inspiration for the latte art topping:
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Cookies and cream cupcakes: Vanilla cupcake with vanilla and Newman-O frosting. (Newman O's are "healthier" Oreos, with no high fructose corn syrup.)
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Butterfinger / Chick-o-Stick cupcakes: Chocolate base, PB frosting with crushed Chick-o-Sticks, ganache and a whole Chick-o-Stick. They remind me of bumble bees!
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Choc-cherry cream: Chocolate cupcake, filled with cherry preserves and vanilla buttercream, topped with a whole cherry. Roll on summer when I can used the non-frozen kind!
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German Chocolate: Chocolate cupcake with coconut and pecan topping and ganache.
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And finally, here's one order out on display.
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There are also quite a few more photos, but they're on a different camera, so I'll post them later. Today, I rest!

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And the prize for best / weirdest thing to receive in the post ever goes to...

23rd. Apr, 2010 | 10:19 am

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My brother is a total weirdo. In a good way. I checked the post this morning and found a thin envelope with some crazy scrawled handwriting on it. I immediately recognised it as Matt's. And what had he sent me? Not a letter, oh no, that would be FAR too normal. He sent me some of our cat's fur. I laughed so hard I nearly cried, and I'm still giggling now. Over a year ago, he sent me a photo of the cat for my birthday, but it didn't get to me until weeks later. Why? Because I was living in a big student hall, and he had addressed it to "Emurgh Clerkfoot", with no apartment number. Imagine the looks I got from reception when I had to explain that actually, I was pretty sure that that was for me.

I fucking love my brother.

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Homemade tofishy.

19th. Apr, 2010 | 02:41 pm

My friend Ingrid has recently gone vegan (woo!) and was craving fish fingers. I found this recipe for vegan fish fingers, and couldn't resist making a trial batch.

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The coating was good, but I think that next time, I'd add more kelp, and do some serious tofu prep work to firm it up a lot, as the texture of the tofu was way off. This may be because I fried them instead of baking, though. I also found that I didn't even use up half of the coating / soy milk, so I'll be keeping that in mind next time. However, there's potential for this recipe, so I'll give it a go another time!

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Block party cupcakes.

19th. Apr, 2010 | 11:43 am

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Double chocolate with homemade chocolate star, carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and chopped walnuts, vanilla with tangy lemon frosting and sugar sprinkles.


There's a block party in Braddock today, and I was asked to bake both cookies and cupcakes for it. For the cookies, I made vanilla snickerdoodles, chunky double chocolate, and peanut butter oatmeal. You've seen the cookies (or very similar looking versions) before, but here are some pretty cupcake pictures. Let's hope they go down well!

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Zenith.

18th. Apr, 2010 | 06:56 am

Tofishy sammich. Absolutely delicious, only could have been improved with seaweed for extra fishyness.

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The cafe is also part vintage shop.

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Vegan kids. Childfree though I may be, it was fun to hang out with these kids for a while. Here's proof of this one sneaking sugar into his water ("I want to make lemonade, but I don't have any lemons...")

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I love the expression on Ada's face when she got her favourite meal!

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LOOK WHAT I FOUND

16th. Apr, 2010 | 12:32 pm

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I love her dainty crossed legs. I called her Lady, because our neighbour has a dog called Tramp, and I think they'd be friends!


Driving into Pittsburgh early this morning, I came across this lovely, lost looking dog. She was wandering across the lanes of a busy road, and it's a minor miracle she didn't get hit. By some weird coincidence, I was delivering some biscuits to a friend's dog, so I used them to lure her over (that sounds way more sinister than it really was) and she happily jumped into the car and hung out while I called the numbers on her tags. No answers, so I drove her to the Animal Rescue League in the city, where they'll try to contact her owners, or rehome her. I wish there was a way for me to find out what happens to her! She was so sweet and friendly. She looked a little mangy and underweight, though. I wish I could look after her :(

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Healthier dog biscuits.

14th. Apr, 2010 | 03:28 pm

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I made a similar version to this recipe about a 9 months ago, when I was dog-sitting for my family's dog, Ruben. He absolutely loved these treats, so I thought I'd give the recipe another go and see how they went down with dogs this side of the pond. They're made with whole wheat flour, wheat germ, carrots, a little oil and some egg replacer, so humans could eat them, too! Oh, and I was also looking for an excuse to try out my new bone shaped cookie cutter.

Once they'd cooled, I dropped them off at our neighbours' house. They have two dogs (whose names I don't know how to spell!), and the youngest got extremely excited when he got the scent of treats in the tub I was carrying. They suddenly became very attentive (note that blurred wagging tail!):

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Having had a taste, he started licking his chops lots in anticipation of the next treat!

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Saying "please":

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Nom nom nom!
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There are a couple more canine friends who will soon receive some tasty treats, too. I'm even hoping to send some way up North to Canada for a dog that I share my name with! For the time being, though, I'm back home and getting ready for a small dinner party with friends and neighbours. I'm making vegetable pot pie, mashed potato, and vegetables, and then something tasty for dessert. Cookies? Cupcakes? A big cake? I can't decide! I'm sure there'll probably be photos soon!

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Lemon zest snickerdoodles.

13th. Apr, 2010 | 03:29 pm

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I'm always open to new ideas for things to bake, and the brief for this one was: "some sort of lemon zest cookie would be fabulous..." I decided that as lemon is a light and fresh flavour, it needed a light cookie texture to set it off, rather than a dense, chewy one. So, snickerdoodles it was! For those of you who've never had a snickerdoodle, they're traditionally a vanilla cookie coated in cinnamon sugar, which spreads out during baking, giving it the characteristic crinkled top. The edges are crisp, and the centres are light, fluffy and almost cakey. These are great for Spring, my favourite season!

Now, for a question: What's your favourite thing to order with a cup of coffee? Or, as a vegan, what coffeeshop options do you see in the pastry section that you wish you could order? In case you couldn't tell from previous posts, I absolutely love muffins, and am so relieved that I've managed to create a recipe that replicates how I remember non-vegan ones to taste!











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More Sunday baking.

12th. Apr, 2010 | 12:57 am

I spent a lot of today in the kitchen, so here are some photos.

Peanut butter oatmeal cookies.

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Rustic French bread, from The Joy of Cooking.

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Fried ("grilled") tofu, onion and mushroom sammich. Frying things is always a good thing, as Garrett and I learned today.

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Lemon Corn Waffles with Blueberry Sauce

11th. Apr, 2010 | 03:10 pm

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A very late brunch today was a slightly altered version of Isa Chandra Moskowitz's lemon corn waffles with blueberry sauce from Vegan With A Vengeance. My recipe for the waffles is below the cut (for the sauce, I just heated 1.5 cups frozen blueberries with 1/4 cup sugar - not the proper way, but it was quick, easy and tasty enough to be fine).

Recipe.Collapse )

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Chickpea stew.

10th. Apr, 2010 | 08:24 pm

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Full of goodness.Collapse )

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Granola bars.

10th. Apr, 2010 | 07:06 pm
music: Punch - Punch.

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I've been trying to think of ways to get more portions of vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds into my diet. Now, I've never been one for "healthy eating" per se, but I like to eat whole foods wherever possible and get my nutrients, without constantly worrying about fat and calories. I like to nourish my body with the food that I eat, and once I'm satisfied that I've done that, I allow myself treats. Admittedly, I eat too many treats, but so long as I'm covering all of the vitamins and minerals that my body needs to remain healthy, I'm happy.

I'm trying to make some of these treats a little healthier, so I decided o make granola bars. I hate throwing misleading labels around, though, so here's a disclaimer:

"Healthier" does not mean using low fat margarine instead of 'normal" stuff, or using chemical low calorie sweeteners instead of sugar. Overly processed food and chemicals = not healthy. Ok, so I haven't banned it totally from my diet, but I'm trying to cut back on it. Yes, these granola bars contian sugar, but it's ok to consume some sugar. I'm far more concerned with nourishing my body than worrying about calories or fat contents. So, these granola bars still contain a pretty decent amount of sugar, but it's brown sugar and not white (= less processed) and agave instead of corn syrup, and more importantly, the rest of it is largely made up of whole foods that are full of good stuff. Nuts and seeds are packed with fat, but it's good fat. There's nothing wrong with eating fat; it is vital to a healthy diet, but of course, there are better and worse ways to get your daily intake. I will not use hydrogenated oils in my baking because it's frankenfood and I can easily avoid it. But healthy fats found in unprocessed food? Sure, go nuts (boom boom!).

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I've been adding flax seeds (linseeds) to smoothies, as they're a great source of omega 3 fatty acids. Buying them whole is much better than buying them pre-ground as flax meal, because once they're ground up, the oils inside them are exposed to the air and start to go rancid, losing their nutritional value. Just stick them in a cheap coffee grinder or in the blender and you're good to go.

If you've been brainwashed into thinking that you can only get a good source of calcium from cows milk, you couldn't be more wrong. Animal-free sources include leafy greens (including my beloved kale!), dried fruits (particularly figs), and for seeds, sunflower and sesame seeds are great.

Eating more whole grains reduces your risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes, yet an estimated 80% of people don't even manage a single portion a day. They're also a great source of fiber, which means your body can flush out crap more easily. This means better poo. Hurrah!

Other things you'll get from these granola bars, owing to the various dried fruit, seeds and nuts in them, include Chromium, Copper, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Potassium, Riboflavin, Selenium and Zinc, to name a few.

So, why not just buy granola bars from the supermarket? Traditionally, store bought American granola bars will contain either honey or high fructose corn syrup, neither of which I eat (for different reasons). Plus, they're fricking expensive. So, I made my own. They're seriously easy, and if you buy nuts and seeds in bulk and just store them in the fridge or freezer, you will save money and can add them to cereal, baked goods, salads, whatever you like. You don't have to eat them like bird food!


So, despite containing sugar and fat, have I convinced you that these do still qualify as being healthier? Good.

So make them!Collapse )

And finally, because arranging food into the Black Flag logo will apparently never get old to me...

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Yeah.

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Muffins and dhal.

4th. Apr, 2010 | 11:52 pm

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I played around with some muffin recipes today. The last batch of giant lemon poppyseed muffins weren't quite puffy enough, so I adjusted the recipe proportionately in order to make the perfect amount of batter for the batch size. I also like how the poppyseeds on top make a nice crackled effect.

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I also tried my hand at sugar-free baking, though I soon realised that I'd failed in this endeavour as I'd used soy yoghurt, which has evaporated cane juice in it. So close! Oh well, the thought was there. v3g4n , I did try! These were ok, but need some tweaking before I'm happy with them. They're edible, but nothing to boast about just yet. There's hope for them! These are carrot and orange, with a walnut topping.

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Finally, tonight's dinner was wholesome and healthy, and I'm feeling well nourished and smug. I made dhal (I keep spelling it "dahl" by accident, perhaps in tribute to my childhood hero!), and served it with brown rice and sauteed kale. Kale seems to feature in almost every meal I make, nowadays. I love it so very, very much.

Recipe for yellow split pea dhal.Collapse )

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Biscuits and gravy - recipe testing.

4th. Apr, 2010 | 03:33 pm

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I've been bad over the past week or so, and have been lazy with recipe testing for The Urban Housewife's upcoming book. Granted, I can blame a few days of that on the house having no gas, but still - enough excuses! Today, I got back to it, and made her version of "biscuits and gravy". British readers will probably be perplexed by such a strange sounding meal, but it's actually delicious. American "biscuits" are savoury and almost like scones but fluffier, and, for this meal at least, their "gravy" is not the Bisto-style golden stuff that we're used to, but rather a white and creamy version. I made it along with a fried portabello mushroom. The biscuits were incredibly fluffy and light, and will now be my go-to recipe.

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Mmmm, so fluffy!

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A new low.

2nd. Apr, 2010 | 06:55 pm

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So, we have no gas, which means no oven. I thought, hrm, maybe I'll have a couple of days of a cake / cookie detox. It'll be good for me. But no, piggelin decided to ruin this plan, by suggesting I "make a mug cake". That's a cake, made in a mug, that you microwave. It's ready in less than 5 minutes. Don't get me wrong, this is not a good cake, but it has the novelty factor. Not to mention hints of the fact that I may have a bit of a problem.

In case you're lazy / weird and want to try it, here's the recipe:

4 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp oil
2.5 tbsp non-dairy milk (hell, you could even use water)
Dash of vanilla (skip this if you don't have any)
Pinch of salt
4 tbsp flour
2 tbsp cocoa
Small pinch baking powder
Small pinch baking soda

In a microwave-friendly mug, and using a fork, mix together the sugar, oil, non-dairy milk, vanilla and sugar.
If you're feeling fancy, use a sieve to add the rest of the ingredients, or just spoon them straight in.
Mix until no large lumps remain (a few small ones are ok. You're eating a microwaved cake from a mug - it's not like you're a connoisseur, is it?)
Bung it in the microwave for 1.5 minutes. Check it's not burning / spilling over the sides, then microwave it for another 30 seconds. Marvel at how disgusting it looks. There'll probably still be some uncooked cake batter swirled throughout the mug, but if you have a really good imagination, just pretend it's a chocolate lava cake.
Eat with the fork that you used to mix it with.
Feel disgusted with yourself and reasses your will power and life in general.

Rhian, you are a terrible influence. I thank you.

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Purple.

1st. Apr, 2010 | 07:53 pm

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I was going to have a snack of a lemon poppyseed muffin and a cup of coffee, but then I thought - no! Bad vegan! Vitamins! Eat some vitamins! So I made a beautiful smoothie. It's bright purple, naturally. I don't have an exact recipe, but roughly, here's how to make it:

7-ish large frozen strawberries (about one and a half handfuls or two),
Small handful of frozen raspberries,
Large handful - to one and a half handfuls frozen blueberries,
2 tbsp flax seeds,
1/4 cup soy yoghurt,
Soymilk until it's the right texture for you (about a cup or so),
Agave if desired (I have a very sweet tooth).

Makes quite alot - I took the photo after having drank half of it!

SO. DAMN. GOOD.



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