I’ll test your recipe, baby… Peanut Butter Crackers & Peanut Butter and Jam Granola

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We had a lovely time making, and then eating, these Peanut Butter Crackers. Oh yes, that is indeed jam sandwiched between two crackers. I’ve said it before : I’m punk rock like that. These are the most amazing PB Crackers I’ve ever had. Ever. So easy to make, and even easier to eat. Do you recognize Celine’s genius here, kids? You should, because this is indeed a test recipe for 500 Vegan Recipes. Yup.

The only difficult thing about this adventure? Deciding if these were pigs or bears. We went with pigs, but I did explain to Guppy that they are genetic cousins. It’s true. I don’t suggest you eat either, unless they are crackers in disguise. Obviously.

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This is Peanut Butter and Jam Granola. Can granola be a food group? I think it was the easiest granola I’ve ever made. Ever. Oh good grief, it was amazing. Just can’t get enough of it. You will want to marry Celine after you make this. Just warning you. There is much more delicious-looking food p*rn at the 500 Vegan Recipes Flickr Group if you just can’t get enough of the goodness here!

What you’re seeing here are some previously-prepared yummies. While I’m not Catholic, I actually gave up baking for Lent. Yep, no cupcakes here kids. I’ve also celebrated Ramadan and other such religious observances. I’m an equal-opportunity tester-outer. I think it’s important to remember what it’s like to say no to our inner three year olds from time to time, and to live mindfully of those who want for food and other necessities. Helps to keep it real. I’ll grant you it sounds a bit bourgeoise to say giving up baked goods will help me connect with those in need, but I’d like to think that it’s an important symbol : letting of of the unnecessary. For me anyway.

I was thinking about the yummies my Grams used to make for us when we were little, and how difficult it probably was for her because she wasn’t allowed to have any of the goodies, much to the chagrin of her well-developed sweet-tooth. She was diabetic, and had other health problems, but she didn’t ever complain about anything. Ever. I admire her so much, because despite going through some seriously tough times, she was one of the most cheerful, most hopeful people I’ve ever known.

She’s gone now, and I really miss her. She was indeed Catholic, and I wanted to dedicate this Lenten celebration to her memory. She was funny, too. She actually died of a massive stroke – on stage, telling a joke while introducing her band members – what a classy way to go, dressed to the nines and with an audience. She used to joke that she hoped she would know when she was “going” because she wanted to eat one pound of fudge. I hope she got her wish, though I’m not sure it was the case.

So, there you go. There will still be some baked goodies showing up here because I’ve got some yummies stocked up for just such an occasion. Don’t worry. :)

W.I.P. Round-Up

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I do hope you had a lovely Valentine’s Day! We had a special day with a pancake breakfast (Peanut butter pancakes, a test recipe for Joni & Celine for 500 Vegan Recipes, yummers!), hanging around in our p.j.’s and eating left-over queso-free queso dip and nachos – while still in aforementioned pajamas – for lunch (also à la 500 Vegan Recipes), and some vegan sushi take-out. We also watched a fun movie to round out heart day – I’m not a big romantic comedy fan in general, but if you get a chance to see Prête moi ta main (the English title is I do) you should, because it was cute, funny and the kind of movie you could easily pause the four or five times it was necessary to re-tuck Guppy in after two false-alarm potty visits, a night-light check, a tissue emergency and a “one last kiss” visit. That’s what you get for feeding your 3 year-old too many starches and letting her hang out in her jammies all day. But who knows?

Enough about my domestic bliss (ahem), let’s take a peek at what the Wipsters have been up to!

I consider myself so lucky to be (virtually) surrounded by such talent and craftiness! Just take a look at these great projects :

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Carmen made a cute little red softie doll for her daughter. I’m thinking she likes it :

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Krys made two adorable stuffies for her “two vegan boys”

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Aren’t they cute? (I mean the boys!)

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Amanda’s pillow is just gorgeous (that back fabric is so cheerful!).

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This patchwork-style pillow Natalia made for her daughter is precious! I love the buttons on the back , too :

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Beth made a mini-softie (you can see it here)

and here are my final creations :
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This is Guppy’s Valentine’s Day pillow, which was indeed an eleventh hour project. I embroidered her name (the yellow splotches…because no, her name isn’t really Guppy!) and there is also purple ribbon on the back. She really liked it, and we all had to “test it”, which was fun.

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This smaller version was part of a Valentine’s Day-themed package for my sister’s birthday. I definitely think the ribbon was a good idea when I see how plain-Jane this first one is.

This Stitch-Along has been fun, and I’ve already had a few suggestions for March. If you have an idea for a Stitch-Along project, you can email me at fishbowlmusings (at) gmail (dot) com – there is so much out there, any and all ideas are appreciated!

Don’t forget about our W.I.P. Wednesday Flickr Pool if you didn’t get your pictures to me in time, or if you’d just like to share what you’ve been up to on Wednesdays!

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Whatever Happened To Sunday Dinners? : Chow Baby, Divine Lemon Scones & an Award!

I am once again swooning but for the deliciousness of Ms. Joni’s “food courtesque” Chinese-style recipes! Be still my beating heart (and growling stomach) we have Chow Mein, or Mein Chow if you prefer, action happening here :

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The most effortless and versatile vegan chow mein ever! Here we have carrots, onion, green beans, mushrooms, mung bean shoots…but baby corn, broccoli, and faux duck (aka seitan) would also be excellent choices. This was a perfect one-wok meal, and as always, I love you both Celine and Joni, as weekly meal planning is a no-brainer for me, and you all are going to love 500 Vegan Recipes! There are some fabulous photos at the 500 Vegan Recipes Cookbook Flickr group, too. But warning : don’t go on an empty stomach!

But let’s get onto the scones, shall we? As many of you know, since my little accident in November, my Sunday routine has been drastically altered. I loved Sunday mornings because they meant me sneaking out of the apartment before Guppy and Monsieur Fish were awake, greedily soaking up the warm smells of baking croissants and baguettes wafting from the boulangeries as I made my way through the streets of my still-sleeping French city… then on to the forest trails, where the morning mist was still hanging heavy, and save the occasional company of a fox, rabbit or (yikes!) wild boar, I was free to spend one and a half to two glorious hours of me time : the long run.

There was nothing like coming home after my long run, feeling both spent and refreshed at the same time (though not smelling so fresh, gotta admit!). After some stretching and showering, it was time for a decadent Sunday brunch with my little family. While I’m sad (and frustrated) to say my foot/ankle is still not letting me do much other than dream about running, I woke up Sunday morning with that basta! feeling we get when enough really is enough and damn it if I can’t go run at least I’m going to make a fun Sunday brunch treat!

And the Divine Lemon Scones were born. Out of necessity. Because I wanted something citrus, something sweetish (as opposed to Swedish, though, that would have been a good idea, too) and I have a sac of lemons that Monsieur Fish bought last week because they were 1E and he just knew I could use them for something.

divine-lemon-sconeI might have gotten a little carried away with the glaze on this one…what do you think?

These scones have a lovely lemon cakesque groove going on which is perfect for the lemon-lover in me. If, however, you are not as lemon crazy as I am, you may want to use less lemon juice or extract for the glaze, or just skip the glaze all together, though I would think you mad because it’s so good!

Divine Lemon Scones

Because I didn’t feel like washing a million cups, this is a metric measure recipe. Sorry Imperialists Imperial-measure folks. This makes about 12 scones.

  • 300 ml non-dairy milk (I use soy)
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 350g AP flour plus 100g AP flour
  • 60g sugar
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • pinch salt (but not hard)
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • zest from 3 lemons

Preheat your oven to about 200c.

Mix the vinegar and “milk” and set aside. Sift together the 350g flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Now add the oil, zest and curdled soy milk mixture. Stir until just combined, adding flour from the 100g as needed to achieve a powdery, not-even-a-little-bit-sticky dough.

At this point I usually divide the dough into two or three as it’s easier to work with. Knead a piece a few times and flatten it into a bit of a disc-shape. Now cut wedges, about six if you divided the dough in two, and get those babies on a parchment or silplat-lined baking sheet. Bake them for about 10-15 minutes (my oven is psycho, so sometimes it’s more like 10, sometimes 14ish).

While they are on the cooling rack, make your Divine Glaze:

  • about 180g powdered/icing sugar (give or take, depending on the consistency you like)
  • the juice of three lemons (you know, the ones you just scalped for the zest)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract (optional, this really gets things lemony)

All you need to do is mix this up until the powdered sugar dissolves. When the scones are mostly-cool just drizzle this all over them. Setting them on parchment paper is a good idea to help with easy clean-up since this glaze could also double as tasty super glue I think. If these don’t float your sconey-boat, you could also try the Rose & Almond Scones I made for BBD last May – delicate rose flavoured almond scones – yum!

Speaking of lemons, look what I got!

lemonade-award2One of my favourite blogger buddies, Jumbleberry Jam, passed along the Lemonade Award which goes to bloggers who show great Attitude and/or Gratitude. My wise and witty Jumblefriend loves gourmet vegan food, wine, dark chocolate…wait a minute, I think that this describes the majority of my readers! Anyway, thank you so much for this much-appreciated distinction. While I’m to pass this on to 10 other bloggers, I am incapable of choosing because there are so many of you that I just LOVE, so consider yourself awarded if you meet at least one of the following criteria :

1. You can’t wait to read your favourite blogs, and are incapable of keeping up with your “Reader” which makes you crazy!

2. You feel a genuine connection to your favourite bloggers and refer to them as “friends you met on the Internet” when talking about them to non-blogging people (as opposed to just calling them “bloggers”).

3. You’re eternally grateful for the fabulous recipes and food ideas you find in blogland and have no idea how you’d plan your weekly meals without them.

There you go! Do let me know if you’ve been tagged!

I love crêpes & la fête de la Chandeleur! Oh, and Whatever happened to Sunday dinners? Sweet & Sour Tofu and Asian-Style Veg

Happy fête de la Chandeleur! Let’s get crazy and eat crêpes!

While some of you are “celebrating” Groundhog Day, here in France it’s one of my favourite little holidays of all – la fête de la Chandeleur, and we get to eat crêpes! I wrote a lovely explination of this holdiay last year, and let me tell you, it is the most popular post on this blog. I can’t begin to tell you how many English language “Chandeleur” searches lead folks to me. There is also my tried & true vegan crêpe recipe on that post, which is also quite popular this time of year. So go read up on Catholic propaganda and crêpes – what fun!

But what about Sunday dinner?

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Sweet & Sour Tofu

One of my favourite “treats” as a child was going out for Chinese food. Now grant you, there was only one Chinese restaurant near-by (and near-by being a rather subjective distance), and it was only on very special occasions that my parents piled us all into the mini-van for some Chinese cuisine. Now a mum myself, I can only discern virtual Congressional Medals of Honor for the courage and heroism (and insanity?) my parents displayed bringing us all out to eat in public, in a restaurant. All six of us.

My absolute favourite thing as a kid was the Sweet & Sour Chicken balls. The sticky-sweet red sauce clinging to the deep-fried, breaded balls – which really should have been called Sweet & Sour breading balls with a tiny piece of chicken in them, seriously – and the sticky white rice painted pink after a proper slathering in the sweet & sour sauce…it was like dessert, but for dinner.

I haven’t had the sweet & sour goodness in so long it is crazy, since at least 1990 when I went veg, but probably before. This is a test recipe for 500 Vegan Recipes, and I feel like I need to have a second child and name her Joni in order to properly thank her for this recipe it is so damn good. If you ever enjoyed food-court-style take out in your pre-vegan days and miss that wonderful, terrible sticky red sauce, you are going to love this recipe.

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I’m a little embarrassed, but I’ll admit it. I made this twice in three days I love it so much. There. I said it. Please don’t totally lose respect for me.

I don’t know what I’m going to do when Joni & Celine are done testing their recipes for their upcoming cookbook 500 Vegan Recipes. What will I make? Seriously, I love this because I just consult what needs to be tested and I have my menu for the week! Don’t forget the Flickr group for more food p*orn love.

Whatever Happened To Sunday Dinners? Twice-Baked Potatoes, how I love thee!

This was one of those dinners that made me feel all down-home and comfort-foody. Love that!

The closest I had ever come to making twice-baked potatoes are the Samosa-Stuffed Potatoes from VCON. Monsieur Fish and Guppy both really like them, they’re quick and easy and they are always a big hit with omnis, so they work well as appies when we have a little soirée. However real, honest-to-goodness born in Betty Crockeresque kitchen in the 1960’s twice-baked taters had never been on my list of things to make. Maybe because I’d never had them before? I have had potato skins – those were considered “party food” when I was little and my mum wanted to make us a special finger-food type meal. But twice-baked potatoes? Nope. Never.

Oh how wrong I was to have neglected such an easy and delightful dish!

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Sunday Dinner: Twice-Baked Potatoes, Basic Seitan Crumbles, Roasted Green Beans with sautéed Mushrooms & Onions, and Orange(r) Carrot Coins

These Twice-Baked Potatoes were dangerously good. I mean, hide the left-overs so there will be some left for tomorrow good. Don’t get me wrong, they are not to be considered low-fat or something I will make every week, but they are now in the canon of “comfort foods”. And those Basic Seitan Crumbles? Outta sight! So versatile, they could be used in a myriad many ways – on pizza, over a salad…we ended up sprinkling them on our potatoes like bacon bits. Heaven. The Carrot Coins also scored high on their “not tasting like health food carrots” according to Monsieur F. We were having trouble not having thirds, and fourths…

With the exception of the roasted beanies, this meal was built by Celine and Joni, the goddesses of vegan recipe creations. You’ll have no choice but to pick up a copy of their 500 Vegan Recipes. Ok, you’ll have a choice, but really, you won’t be able to help yourself from wanting all this goodness! Want to see more? Go check out the 500 Vegan Recipes Flickr Group.

While preparing the potatoes for this dinner, I couldn’t help but thinking about my friend Ricki of Diet, Dessert and Dogs, but I couldn’t figure out why. I mean, this wasn’t one of her recipes – though I do use her recieps often! Then it hit me: last year Ricki wrote a very moving post, one of my favourites, and she therein mentions potato boats. This post touched me for many different personal reasons, and so deeply that well over 6 months later I was brought back to her childhood memories as I prepared my meal. As most of you know, Ricki was recently nominated for a blogging award grâce à her beautiful prose. I just wanted to say that award or not, Ricki’s talent, culinary and literary, is undeniable!