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Really really really short post today.  (One can only ignore essays for so long).

I bought some fresh jujube dates yesterday.  Not like the little shrivelly things that come in the medicinal chinese soup packets (which are awesome, but different), no… more like crisp quince/apple-texture and date-flavour.  With a little olive-stone inside.  PLUS, resemblance to dinosaur eggs!  Neat.

That’s all.
Oh, except that I bought more nut butter.  mmmmmmmmmmmmm nuttery buttery.  It’s gonna be spice cake icing for this weekend, Thanksgiving.

So here it is! I went a little all-out, but I had two leisurely days to do it, so it was actually a great lesson in NOT stressing over food. From right to left, there’s Aloo Paratha (spicy potato-filled flatbread – kind of my specialty, I might post the recipe later), Tamarind Lentils, Gajar salad (carrots with lemon and toasted mustard seeds), 5-Minute Mango Chutney, lime-pickled cucumber, Matar Tofu (tofu marinated in this), more Aloo Paratha because it’s basically the best bread-type food in the world, and v-con Masala Roasted Vegetables (brussels sprouts, carrots, parnsip and onion). And it was all gone in 10 minutes. I give flying colours to everything!

I ran to the kitchen to get a good shot of everything. Soooooo gooood. I’m especially in love with the mango chutney and the matar tofu – Indira’s recipe is so fresh-tasting and comes together like magic in a few minutes if you have everything prepped.

I made some cashew-dates and toasted almonds for good measure, but really who cares about that when you’ve got…….

V-con Coconut Lemon Bundt Cake! OMG make this cake! It’s so moist, and so good. Everything that everyone’s been saying about the crispy outside is bang on, and the inside is all zingy and coconutty and kinda melts in the mouth. I’m having more for lunch. With vanilla pudding on top, I think. And I broke the top because de-panning cakes is hard when you’re impatient, but icing sugar (and a little bit of careful surgery) is a girl’s best friend, I’m discovering.

(the sound of the dinner table, btw ~~~ “mmmmiammm munch munch sigh SO GOOD mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm snarf snarf pass the chutney zomg mmmmm”) :D

Morning everyone.

So my roommate and I are on a bit of a funny schedule. She leaves for work at 5 am every day… and I? I am only just then contemplating maybe going to bed. It’s kinda nice, actually – hearing her in the bathroom means I get the whooooole apartment to myself pretty soon, and that usually means some wacked out experiment in the kitchen. Enter, the Coffee Date Muffin. Cute name notwithstanding, it’s not an easy flavour combination to wrap my head around. Maybe that’s why I picked it. Anyway….

Attempt #1:
I figured cardamom would be a natural choice to tie the two flavours together. And I have a hard time making muffins that aren’t all healthy and stuff, so I added oats. It was that or spelt, and I eat oats most mornings with dates in it, so hey, why not. The batter smelled pretttttty interesting….

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup quick oats

1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tbsp instant coffee

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp cardamom

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp ground flax
1/4 cup strong-brewed coffee

3/4 cup almond milk

1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup applesauce

1/4 cup canola oil

1/2 cup chopped pitted dates

Verdict: Squat little suckers! I tore into one straight away and I think I was hungry cause it disappeared pretty fast. I liked the nuttiness of the oats, the coffee flavour wasn’t as weird as I thought it would be, and the dates were, well, awesome. Cause dates are awesome. But it hardly rose at all! I actually went back to bed at this point, mentally switching ingredients around in my head and not really in any danger of falling asleep, no. And then of course I had to get up and try again, cause I’d never actually honestly tweaked a recipe before, and I’m not an insomniac, no… not at all………

Attempt #2:
I figured going the “cakey” route might get me some decent leavening, which it did. I also wanted to try making all the flavour milder and more, I guess, conventional. Maybe I’d get a real muffin out of it, or something. The batter tasted better! (sweeter!)

(I also left out all the oil just to see what would happen)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tbsp instant coffee

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp ground flax

1 1/4 cups almond milk
1 tsp cider vinegar

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

6 tbsp applesauce

1/2 cup chopped pitted dates

Verdict? Kind of really gross, actually. I couldn’t believe it. They’re beautiful and puffy and all that, but biting into one is a gluey experience, and the flavour is bo-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-ring. I made them more amusing by staging little muffin wars while I took pictures of them (I’d post the muffin-war pictures, but it looks a lot more like a stack of muffins sitting on a chair than an actual exciting battle scene, phooey).

Oh, and for the sake of science, both were baked at 375 in a 6-cup tin, for 22-25 minutes, approximately. And both the recipes were halved (thank god, or I’d be drowning in just-ok muffins). I guess if anyone has any ideas for tweakness, that would be cool. I’m really starting to think the first batch was pretty good, I would just need to fill up the tins higher, or use a muffin tin that isn’t so very wide and flat (grrr, I can’t make cupcakes in that thing at all!). Be a total adventurer and try out the recipe yourself! (if your instant coffee powder is of decent quality at all they WILL turn out better than mine)

Anyway, that’s it. I swear I’ll try and sleep now. :)

(Bonus Picture! Satchmo the Cat attacking my baked goods! Will they fight back with their tender muffin-bodies? Or will they become kitty toys like so many muffins before them and many a pancake besides? I’m guessing on kitty toys, myself. ;))

Fancy shmancy lunch time! My first foray into persimmon-eating and I am a full-on convert from first incredible bite. In the salad we got arugula and dates and toasted walnuts (I would have candied them but it was just me and that might have been too sweet actually – the persimmon was like honey), and a vinaigrette of balsamic, orange zest, cinnamon and hazelnut oil. I could jump around for tastiness! I actually made a salad I could serve to people while wearing posh clothes! I thought I was a lost-cause salad maker (or maybe just wasn’t interested in the whole phenomenon), but man, has my interest been piqued. This was too good!

Continuing my obsession with the Veganomicon (I really need to get another decent vegan cookbook, n’est pas?), I made the Blueberry Corn Pancakes yesterday and they were really wonderful. I think the batter tasted even better than the cakes though – it started foaming up immediately and was kind of milkshake-ish! Also, they’re good straight-up, but they’re LOADS better out of the toaster later on – the cornmeal gets all crusty and the blueberries juice up. It’s like a pop tart except nothing like a pop tart, and way better for you.

And lastly, I really want to try the Amaranth Breakfast Bars from the Veggie Meal Plan blog, but I didn’t wanna just throw raisins and cranberries in it like I do for everything else, so I got all creative with some twine and duct tape and am now attempting to dry some apples in a super-old-school-might-not-even-work sort of way. I remember my mom hanging apple slices in the pantry when I was a kid, so in theory this should work! And if not, I’ll brave the weather outside and go *buy* some dried apples, but here’s hoping the DIY deities shine down on my little experiment.

Mmmm! This is my breakfast, every single day of every single week and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s a huuuuge bowl of toasty oatmeal with cinnamon and nutmeg and chopped dates (and a pretty generous amount of salt). I sit down with this like an old friend every morning and proceed to eat it i-n-c-r-e-d-i-b-l-y slowly, reading a good book, for about 2 hours. hee!


I do have to mention how involved something this simple can be, though. Every bag of oats is different, and I gotta taste and smell and taste again to get everything JUST right. Timing for texture is everything! Anyway, here’s the super simple recipe :

Date-Jewelled Oatmeal
(makes enough for 2, or if you’re me, 1)

2/3 cup of regular rolled oats
1 1/3 cups cold water
1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/4 tsp cinnamon
a couple grates of fresh ground nutmeg
a pinch of ground ginger or allspice (optional)
1/4 cup chopped dates
salt to taste

– put the water and almond milk on to boil, covered
– once it’s boiling, toss in the oats and give it a good stir, reduce heat to med-low and stir occasionally for about 10 minutes
– I like it when the liquid has turned creamy and smooth, but not too gummy, which is a pretty narrow window, so watch carefully!
– stir in the spices, salt and fruit, then pour it into your friendliest bowl, sit down with a piping mug of coffee and go eat breakfast like a champ!

This is the best mug EVER, by the way. ^_^

PS: Tips For Keeping Your Oatmeal Warm For Crazy Amounts Of Time —

Put a saucer-plate on top of the bowl and nestle the whole thing in the folds of a tea-towel (or if you’re like me, a bedspread). Warm for hours!