Monday, December 19, 2011
First of all, thanks so much to everyone who commented. I loved reading about your favourite socks and your chocolate preferences. I loved that the sock preferences skewed to the stripey and cosy, which mirror my own sock preferences excellently.
Yesterday afternoon, when the deadline for commenting had passed, I put everyone's names in two bowls (one for raspberry, one for ginger) and interrupted my mom's Coronation Street watching to get her to pull two names out of the bowls. And the winners are...
For the orange-ginger bar: Lauren! Her comment was, "Ginger! My favorite socks are some American Apparel ones I have. But I am getting a couple of hemp socks for Christmas that I am really excited about." I actually read Lauren's blog and I know that she runs marathons (!) so obviously socks are very important to her. Congratulations, Lauren!
For the raspberry bar: Chelsea! Her comment was, "I would love the raspberry! Also, my favorite pair of socks would have to be knee highs with blue stripes..." I don't know anything about Chelsea beyond that comment, but anyone who likes stripey knee-highs is all right by me.
Chelsea! Lauren! You have until Wednesday to send me your address at jwhiteford @ gmail . com. I will send the chocolate on Thursday and it should reach you in a week or so.
Happy Holidays from me (and my socks).
Thursday, December 15, 2011
It's giveaway time! Last week I bought two of these cool-looking, fair-trade vegan chocolate bars from a company called Divine. They come in all kinds of flavours, which is awesome. I figured they'd keep me liberally chocolated this holiday season.
But also, my good friend Kat asked what I wanted for Christmas and, of course, I said I wanted chocolate and socks. Because everyone likes chocolate and socks. And just yesterday I arrived home to find a package FULL of vegan chocolate items from Karmavore. So exciting! (The socks are coming separately, I suspect.) The package contained more than enough chocolate to see me through the holidays, so I'm going to keep that for myself and give away these Divine chocolate bars to two lucky blog reading winners.
I know it's not a giant fancy giveaway, but it's a bit of free, vegan chocolate arriving in your mailbox. That's mail AND dessert.
So if you'd like to enter*, here's what you do. Leave a comment on this post telling me which of the two available chocolate bars you'd like (raspberry or ginger) and also tell me about your favourite pair of socks. The deadline for comments is Sunday, December 18th. At noon (Eastern). My very upstanding mother will draw two winners and I will post the winner's names on Monday morning. If you win, you'll need to e-mail me with your mailing address before Wednesday, December 21st.
*You must live in the United States or Canada to enter. Sorry, Internationals.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
The Man of Science and I have been meaning to go to brunch at Zen Kitchen for a while now, but finally made it happen this Sunday. The whole experience was basically perfect. We started with coffee and tea, then moved on to a tempeh Reuben sandwich with fries (me) and a "traditional" breakfast (scrambled tofu, potatoes, beans, toast) for the MoS. For dessert I had a pumpkin cheesecake and he had... poutine. Which is not a conventional dessert, but he really wanted to try it.
My dessert was more photogenic.
It was great to go to ZK for a more relaxed meal and to try some dishes that are different from their usual high-end vegan fare. We debated just sitting there until we got hungry again so we could try more food from the menu. But we sensibly went grocery shopping instead.
Tune in tomorrow for a little holiday giveaway that I'll be doing. Three posts in a week AND a giveaway? I know, it's awfully amazing.
Saturday, December 10, 2011
Blame it on being back in the bosom of the family home. Or perhaps on the fact that I don't have a sewing room set up right now and hence couldn't spend a bunch of time making home made gifts. Or maybe I've been listening to the new She & Him* album too much and I'm just plain off my rocker with Christmas spirit. Whatever the cause, this year I was possessed to make Christmas cookies.
Oh sure, I usually make one or two batches of holiday treats as the holiday season advances, but I have never before done what I did this year. I made double batches of four different cookie-ish treats, froze them all, and flung them into the hands of many of the people who I care about. The nice thing about this cookie array is that one variety is raw, gluten-free and sugar-free, one is wheat-free and low in refined sugar, one is traditional and spicy and not overly sweet, and one is all about the sugar and the icing. Something for everyone!
I tried a few new recipes this year and was super happy with how everything turned out. I needed recipes that came together relatively quickly because I was making these in the evenings after work in the tiny window of time I have before I fall into bed, exhausted (at approximately 9:30 PM, I'm a real party animal).
The first kind I tackled was gingerbread. I used my recipe from last year, only this time (thanks to my mom) I had more festive cookie cutters. I actually doubled the spices in the batter this year because I wanted more flavour in the cookies this time. I also rolled out the dough a bit thicker because I wanted the cookies to be softer. It worked like a charm. I brought these into work and saw people making off with handfuls of them.
The next batch were these kamut thumbprint cookies from the Oh She Glows blog. I think they might be the first one of Angela's recipes that I've tried, and I was supermega impressed. The ingredients required a trip to Rainbow Foods (since I don't really ever have kamut flour just lying around) but it was totally worth it. These have almost no refined sugar in them and they are full of healthy nuts and whole grains and coconut oil. And, as one of my coworkers (who asked for the recipe and then went home and made two batches of her own) (and she didn't even know what kamut was before I gave her one of these cookies) said, "I don't feel cheated at all!" They're just super delicious. Easily the favourite of the bunch.
These almond sugar cookies with almond glaze were a veganized version of this recipe, which I saw on Pinterest. The only ingredient I needed to replace was the butter, and I just subbed in some regular Earth Balance margarine. These are amazingly delicious but very sugary sweet. I can eat about one per day as a treat and that's it. However, I predict they will be a big hit when I bring them into the office. People love sugar cookies, and the almond extract makes these really special.
Last but not least, today I made these raw truffles using my make-your-own-Larabar recipe with a half cup of cocoa powder and a tablespoon of coconut oil added. I refrigerated the mixture for half an hour and then rolled it into balls, then rolled those balls in cocoa powder or sliced almond bits. Raw, sugar-free, gluten-free and damn tasty.
So I've packed up another tin of treats to take with me to Megan and Dave's house tonight. Megan and I are going to put some booze into some soy nog and/or hot chocolate and then we're going to exchange gifts and watch White Christmas. What could be better? Nothing. Nothing could.
*Yes, Zooey Deschanel is an ex-vegan. But that album is good and her new TV show is hilarious.
Sunday, December 4, 2011
My parents who, as you all know, I live with now (temporarily) are quite addicted to Masterchef Australia. They watch an episode or two every night. There is one featured chef in particular, Adriano Zumbo, who brings in the most ridiculously complicated recipes for the contestants to try to make. I was wandering through the living room on Friday when my mom and dad were watching an episode that featured him and I instantly got sucked in, mostly because I wanted to see what impossible recipe he'd brought along. It ended up being a "simple" chocolate mousse cake. Here is a link to the recipe. Do me a favour and click on over to look at the list of ingredients. This is a whole other world of cooking than I am used to. It is insane.
Nonetheless, it got me thinking about chocolate mousse. And how I've never really made a successful vegan version. I decided to tackle a basic, non-Zumbo version of chocolate mousse for tonight's dessert. The catch was, on Saturday I'd eaten a bunch of food that was delicious but kind of made me feel like crap. Tacos, popcorn, Diet Coke (yes! gross! I know!), and vegan pizza. The last thing I felt like was a sugary, nutritionally vapid dessert. So this version is raw, sweetened with agave, and made mostly of avocados. That's what I said. Avocados.
I was skeptical myself when I started looking at reference recipes, but really, you can't taste the avocado at all. I served this to the Man of Science and my parents after dinner tonight and didn't tell them about the avocados until they were halfway through their portions. Everyone was surprised, but the eating went on, unabated. Chalk one up for fatty fruit. Another plus is that this is really easy to make. Just dump everything in your food processor, chill, and eat eat eat.
4 ripe avocados, peeled, pitted, and quartered
2/3 cup raw cocoa powder (or regular cocoa powder if that's what you've got)
1/3 cup agave nectar (adjust for taste, depending on how sweet you like your mousse)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
Place all ingredients in a food processor or high powered blender and blend until very smooth.
Taste and adjust flavours accordingly.
Pour into fancy, dessert-type receptacles and chill for half an hour before serving. I topped mine with raspberries and raw cocoa nibs. You could do all kinds of things to make it even prettier- cashew cream, coconut, strawberries, etc- use your imagination!
It's nice to remember that desserts don't have to take a long time to make in order to be a good treat at the end of a meal.