Wednesday, May 23, 2012

More Lemon Cupcakes

I think I have some sort of addiction with baking these cupcakes, but at least I had better lighting this time around, & got to almost finish up the candied lemon peel I made a while back.

I took them to a dinner last night w/friends, along with these beautiful roses for my sister & Coral.  Can you believe that my roommate was contemplating hacking them down, for ease of mowing the grass by the sidewalk?  Wha?!  

Anyhoo, even though I forgot my camera at home, the point of the dinner was my sister wanted to re-create the Weeping Tiger sandwiches from the Bye & Bye.  She was definitely successful!  I'm going to tinker around & try to come up with a recipe, because they were just too good.  
In garden news, some turdy critters are eating peas, cucumbers, & beets as soon as they sprout, so I had to re-seed a bunch of stuff.  Bah!  I read that it could be birds, so I'll have to put down some netting or something to keep them at bay till the plants can fend for themselves.  

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Raspberry-Chocolate Theme

Apparently I've been enchanted by the combination of raspberries & chocolate lately, even though I just put that together.  Game of Thrones night ended up being postponed on Mother's Day, but I'd already began the cupcake baking process...luckily my roommates stepped up & offered to help take care of the excess. :)


The look like your ordinary chocolate cupcakes (& who would complain about that?!), but hidden inside is a tart raspberry filling:

They were so, so good.  I still have more raspberries in the freezer from last year's Sauvie Island berry-picking adventures, so maybe I can come up with one more chocolate-raspberry treat...

More recently, as in last night, my friend Megan & my sister wanted to have a themed dinner, since Megan is moving back to the Midwest soon.  They came up with "Vegan Breakfast Dinner", so Megan made waffles & sliced strawberries, my sister made her famously crispy potatoes & tempeh bacon, & I brought raspberry sauce & Nutella (chocolate & raspberry, for the win!).

The glorious spread:

My monstrosity:

I should probably share the Nutella recipe I used, which is from Veganomicon, a cookbook essential for living a good life. <3  I also want to try this recipe sometime, though it seems way more complicated. 

  • 5 ounces toasted, skinned hazelnuts (a generous cup)
  • 8-10 tablespoons neutral-tasting oil
  • 3/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons hazelnut extract (still good without this)
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
I don't follow the directions in Veganomicon exactly, because I've had better results by blending the hazelnuts & oil (start with smaller amount, adding more if necessary) in a blender until creamy.  (A Vitamix is ideal, if you or someone you know has one.)  Slowly add the powdered sugar & cocoa, scraping down the sides of the blender as necessary.  Add the extracts & blend until smooth & creamy.  Enjoy it warm from the blender, or chill it for a thickened, spreadable treat.   

Bonus sleeping kitty shot!  Yoda almost looks innocent here, but don't let him fool you...

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

I just wanted to wish a Happy Mother's Day to all the lovely moms out there.  This year, I made this card for my mom (but just eyeballed it, rather than printing out the templates), after seeing it on here.  It turned out pretty cute & my mom loves it, so yay!


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Garden Love...

This week was full of gardening prep & planning, so I wanted to take pictures to keep track of how things are growing. <3

The eggplant lives in the greenhouse, since it needs a hot environment:


Also in the greenhouse are these three tomatoes, including a purple variety(!), & some basil:

On the side of the greenhouse, I have this grafted San Marzano tomato that Coral gave me as a housewarming present, plus a hill of pickling cucumbers.  I also sprinkled some marigolds around, since they're companion plants:

Next to the tomato/cuke bed, I'm trying an experimental potato tire tower.  Unfortunately, I just read about the possible hazards of stuff leaching out of old tires, so I'll probably just keep the poisonous potatoes to myself:

In front of the greenhouse, I put two more tomatoes, plus some basil & radishes:

Next, there's the squash section that has two kinds of summer squash, & two kinds of winter squash:

The strawberries are doing really well!  The ones in front were here before, & the ones in the back were ones I brought, plus a ton from Coral's house:

My main vegetable bed has more pickling cukes, beets, sugar snap peas, carrots, kale, rainbow chard, nasturtiums, & Brussels sprouts:

Since the rest of the available beds are for my roommates & I still wanted to plant more stuff, I used a couple large containers for salad greens & peppers:

Besides all the edible stuff, I made a bunch of succulent planters out of these hole-y rocks from the coast.  My brother & I found them on our various walks:

This one is placed on a huge hunk of driftwood that Sean helped me lug home:

 Yay, gardening! 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Sourdough & Beer!

Since graduating, I've been enjoying some time off to learn new skills & settle into my house.  One of the things I'm working on is baking sourdough bread.  I'll post the recipe once I've perfected it, but that might be a while.  I've tried two so far, so the next one will be a combination of them.

The first loaf was pretty & tasty, but too dense (forgot to take an interior shot before it got devoured!).  It rose overnight in the fridge, but it wasn't enough to create airiness or a significant sour flavor.

The second loaf was airy & sour, due to it's 18 hour, room temp. rise, but not as pretty as the first one.  It could have been baked a little longer as well, because I like when they have a crunchy crust.  Maybe next time!

In other yeast-crafting news, my amazing friend Ryan is teaching me to brew beer!  He let me choose which kind to make, so I picked porter---he even had a favorite recipe on hand, which is a Black Butte Porter copycat.  We made it last weekend, so it's got to do its thang for a couple weeks, then we'll bottle it up!  It smelled sooo good as it was brewing.  The weather was nice, so we made it outside with their propane stove.  I had a little helper too...Clementine!  She deserved a "stick break" after all that hard work.  :)

Our work station:

Steeping the grains:

Simmering the hops:

I'll make another beer post when it's bottling time!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Sansa Stark Lemon Cakes & Peanut Butter Chocolate Cheesecake!

Sugar rush!  For last week's Game of Thrones viewing, I put those candied lemon peels to good use & made Sansa Stark Lemon Cakes.  People who have read the books might remember that lemon cakes were a common treat that Sansa liked to indulge in (before shit went down!).  Even if you're not at that level of nerd-itude, you can still enjoy these tasty cupcakes.  The recipe comes from "Vegan with a Vengeance" & they are the ultimate cupcakes for lemon-lovers---they're so tangy & don't weigh you down, like those (delicious) towering buttercream ones. <3

Lemon Gem Cupcakes   
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla  
Preheat oven to 350*F.  Line your cupcake tin with paper liners & set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, & salt.  In a small-ish bowl, whisk together the almond milk, sugar, lemon juice, oil, lemon zest, & vanilla.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones & whisk until just combined.  This will be frothy!  Fill the cups about 2/3 full.  Bake for 17-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool completely, then glaze them. 

*recipe makes 1 dozen, but I got 14*

Lemon Glaze
  • 1/4 cup softened margarine 
  • 2-4 tablespoons almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
Beat the ingredients together till smooth, adding a bit more milk if necessary.

After glazing the cakes, you can get all fancy & top them with candied lemon peel, tinted sugar, or sprinkles!  

As if those sweet cakes weren't enough, I also made a Peanut Butter Chocolate Cheesecake for my friend Sage & I.  She came down from Vancouver, B.C., & we needed something to nosh on while we gossiped.  The recipe is from here, but I made it in a tart pan, & used a cookie crust, rather than a graham cracker one.  It's very delicious, but next time I'll spread the crust with peanut butter before adding the filling, so it's peanut buttery-er.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cheesecake

  • 1-12.3 ounce container firm silken tofu
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips, melted
  • 2 tablespoons almond milk 
  • 18 Newman-o's
  • 1/4 cup melted margarine
Make the crust first, by putting the cookies into your food processor.  Once they're reduced to crumbs, drizzle in the margarine & give it another whirl.  Press into whatever pan you want to use (pie plate, tart pan, springform) & chill it while you make the filling.

Wipe out your food processor (a few crumbs won't hurt!), then put all the filling ingredients into it.  Blend it all up, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl several times till it's smooth.  Pour the filling into the chilled crust, & spread it around in a cute pattern.  Chill for a few hours till firm.  Slice & enjoy with your buds! 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Candied Lemon Peel!

Candied citrus peel is something I've wanted to make for sooo long, but just never got around to.  It's so dainty & seems like it'd be a cute gift to give to someone for the holidays---especially orange peel dipped halfway in dark chocolate. :)

I recently checked out "Vegan Soul Kitchen" from my local library & noticed that it had a recipe for candied orange peel in there, but the recipe said you could substitute any citrus fruit.  The reason I wanted to make lemon peel, specifically, is for this week's Game of Thrones treat...I'll make a post for that in the next few days!

Here's my adaptation on Bryant Terry's recipe:

Candied Lemon Peel
  • 6 organic lemons, washed
  • 1 3/4 cups organic sugar, divided
Use a vegetable peeler to peel the lemon zest from the lemons.  I got about 5-7 thick strips, lengthwise, from each lemon (save the lemons for another project...maybe lemonade!).  Put the strips in a saucepan & cover them with a couple inches of water.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for 1 hour, until they're tender.  Drain & rinse them, then use a spoon to gently scrape any pith (this used to be the white, foamy part within the lemon) from the peels.  Cut the peels into 1/4-inch strips---no need for perfection here.  

Grab that saucepan again, but this time you'll add a cup of water, along with 3/4 cup sugar.  Bring it to a boil, add the peels, & simmer for about an hour, or until most of the sugar syrup has been absorbed.  

Drain the candied peels in a fine sieve, then roll them in the remaining 1 cup of sugar.  This part is kind of time consuming, but you can meditate or something while you work.*** 

***I recommend using the rad dredging technique where you use one hand for the wet & one hand for the dry, similar to when you bread stuff.  I used my right hand to pull out a gooey, drained strip & threw it into the sugar, then used my left to sprinkle sugar over the top, then tossed it around a little, before putting it on a rack to dry overnight.  Repeat this a million or so times, until you've rolled all your fancy strips.  They're so glittery!