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Wooooaaahhh !!!  I just lucked out, it’s the sale of the century and I had enough toonies in my pocket to come home with the goooooold!  I don’t know why they were selling all these fantastic teas for $1 a box (haunted? peed on by raccoons?  somehow decades old?) but I’m going back tomorrow regardless, because apparently they have MORE. *faints*

(clockwise from center)
japanese flower mushroom tea
mint with chrysanthemum and honeysuckle
60 spirulina capsules !!!!!!

organic ceylon lemon
relasin (for nerves, insomnia and eyesight, perfect!)
yunnan tuocha green (for digestion and… hee hee, lowering cholesterol)
soolim (didn’t realize it was one of those slimming teas, oh well)
organic meadowsweet with devil’s claw
I’m drinking the mushroom tea right now and it’s so awesome.  I would never ever ever serve it to company, ever, but it’s deeply awesome and strange and OMG probably amazing with pizza !! 
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Soooo, I made some Rum Raisin Fudge Brownies, a tester recipe for Hannah‘s new book, and they are fabulous. The raisins make them gorgeous chewy, and the flavour could rock socks off! I haven’t made many brownies in my day, but I do know that I’m on the fudgey end of preference, and also these have rum in them! They are dangerously good, I’m telling you…. :o~~~~~

Not too far behind are the peanut butter cookies from More Great Good Desserts. They’re a daintier recipe than the dense blocks of my youth, but low oil, high flavour and sooooo pretty and easy to make. So not my ultimate PB cookie recipe, but an excellent one nonetheless. Oh, and dynamite in coffee.

Yay sugar!

Curiously enough, I have a habit when drinking to RUN NOT WALK to the kitchen and see if I can’t whip up something edible with blurry vision. And I usually can! Maybe it’s the challenge… and it’s certainly better than singing off-key, I should think.

My most classic preparation is some sort of seitan barfood after stumbling home. I guess 3 am and soused isn’t the best time to attempt to recreate a vegan hotdog, but I tried! It wasn’t hotdogg-y, but it was delicious, even if J was passed out like a rock by the time I set down a warm fresh chapati with a seitan-dog and all the fixins in front of him. (It made a perfect breakfast the next day, though!)

A week or two later some crepes were made, and turned out more perfectly than any sobre pancake I’ve ever attempted. The Vcon recipe is lightning-fast, delicious, and got rave vegetarian reviews (“these are even better than the kind with eggs! more flavourful and chewy!”). I did add a bit of extra oat flour, too, which gave them a nice homey touch.

Yum jam! Strawberry, blueberry, merlot, sour cherry, plus caramel sauce, cinnamon and fresh peaches.

And then last night (we all get off work on wednesday. we call it “fake saturday”), some whiskey prompted a mini-muffin adventure. What kind? Uhhhh…. banana! With blueberries! (we are also blueberry fiends, oh my yes). Use a recipe? Bah! That takes time and reading. Better to just throw some whole wheat pastry flour in a bowl with some ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, soymilk, brown rice syrup, oil and vanilla. And they TOTALLY turned out. Not too sweet, loaded with berries and banana, and perfect for munching on while playing with plastic dinosaurs and discussing 37 ways the world is an unfathomably weird place. Rarr brontasaurus rex!

There were even 3 (oops, I ate one – 2) left over the next day!

Smashed Vegan’s Warning: please please please do not attempt to drink and bake at home, unless you’re of legal age and are prepared to find a huge mess waiting for you in the morning. I don’t want to be a bad influence… :o

Sophisticated and slightly unusual, intriguing (even invigorating!) flavour? Check. Streusel topping cause we’re not thaaaat sophisticated? Yep. Absolutely PERFECT muffin crumb? YES! And even the cookbook muffins I’ve made lately haven’t had crumb this good!

Okay, so they’re a little burnt. (my oven thermometre died, I think, *sob*)

But look at that crumb!

It’s just what I was going for, and the flavour is spot on, too — it finally hit me to make the batter taste like something I’d actually order in a cafe. I’ll make a porn-worthy batch eventually, where I fill them up to the top of the tin and hopefully get some huge and awesome muffin tops out of them (I think this recipe’s got the oomph for it, I really do — it foamed up like magic when I stirred it together… and it tasted like a latte in batter form!)

Café Cardamom Streusel Muffins

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup spelt flour

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 tbsp instant coffee powder
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom

1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup strong-brewed fresh coffee

3/4 cup nondairy milk

1 tbsp maple syrup
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

3 tbsp canola oil

1/2 cup pitted dates (finely chopped and tossed in 1-2 tsp of flour to keep the pieces from sticking together)

For the Streusel:

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 tbsp margarine

Preheat the oven to 375 and lightly grease a 12 cup muffin tray.

To make the streusel, mix together the flour, cinnamon, sugar and margarine together with your fingers until it looks like wet crumbly sand. Set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together all the dry ingredients (flour through salt), and mix the wet ingredients together in a smaller bowl (coffee through canola oil). Make a well in the centre of the dry mix, pour in the wet and stir until just combined. Fold in the dates and spoon into the muffin cups – you can make 12 regular muffins, 10 large ones, or 8 giant muffins with actual cafe-style muffins tops. If you want. :) Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the tops and bake for 22-25 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. (you might also want to rotate your pan halfway through the baking time, just in case your oven has a hotspot)

When they’re done, pop them out of the pan with a spoon and leave them on a cooling rack until you’re ready to enjoy! Sooooo good with EB. Even better with fresh fruit and a newspaper. :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. ;))

( oh what do I spy? )

( yes, I do spy! )

( nicely labelled for later consumption – thank you mom!! )

I’ve never tried soy nog! Or any nog, for that matter. This should be good, I even have a little bit of whiskey with me – people do that, right? Mix whiskey with nog? Anyway, I bet it’ll taste good.

I haven’t been cooking so much, at least nothing that exciting. Mostly bean dips and soups for the family (really wishing I had my gluten flour around so I could show them something cool), but I’m looking forward to more creative opportunities over the vacation. Even if we’re kinda low on supplies, I’m sure I can whip up at least a few batches of cupcakes, and maybe Dreena’s chickpea tart for christmas. I was going to make a tofurkey, but it depends how many vegetarians come for dinner (and seriously, I’ll be happy with stuffing and a little pumpkin pie – the 2 parts of holiday feasting I can’t get any other time).

Also, with access to cable I’ve been watching the Food network a lot, and getting slowly disenchanted with it all. It’s not so much that it’s a bad little network, but damn that’s a lot of olive oil being thrown around, not to mention the TOTAL celebritification of all their non-chefs – like today I saw that both Paula and Rayray have their own holiday magazines!! Holy overkill.

(I still love Good Eats though, and Bobby Flay, and okay so I have a kind of sick fascination with Paula Deen. She drinks butter! :D )

Okay, so never ever tell omnis something is vegan before they have a chance to taste the powerful blueberry magic. Pout pout pout. I made a whole wack of these gorgeous gems for my painting critique and took 95% of them home with me. Maybe it’s a blue food thing?

Anyway, bad reception notwithstanding, they taste incredible. I used the Shmooed Food fluffy white cupcake recipe as a base, and steeped the milk in berryblossom white tea (I hate supporting megasaurs like Starbucks but the roommate already had the tea around. And white tea with blueberry/cranberry essence? Too tempting to bake with, I tells ya.). Then when the little aromatic puffies came out of the oven, I let them cool and used the cone method to fill them with organic wild blueberry jam. And I didn’t have a piping bag, so I cut a hole in the empty icing sugar bag and went all noodly with the icing, twas fun.

The sexy sexy shot you’ve been waiting for. God, these were good. The fresh blueberry on top completely makes the whole package, it pops with all this fresh berry flavour that makes all the sugar underneath somehow classy. I could eat the whole box, and I do have a whole box to eat. I so wish I didn’t care about my hips. *sigh*

Oh yeah, this isn’t my brilliant creation, it’s someone else’s brilliant creation, upon which I heaped my highest praise by imitating.

ALSO, before I forget – you know what the most popular food was at the critique? Homemade meaty meaterson probably-made-of-duck pâté. GROSS. My painting didn’t go over well either. Argh bad days.

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