Bookmaking & Birthday Gifts (and an ugly yet delicious cupcake)

I’ve been wanting to blog about my newest favourite creative obsession outlet, but thought it would be better to wait until I had a little more to show you. I wanted to explain the why’s and how’s, give you the soul behind the groove…

But I just can’t wait because it’s so fun!

embroidered-notebook

I am in love with making these notebooks! Don’t you love the unfinished, just raveld enough edges? I think they look so natural. Sometimes I wonder if it’s normal to enjoy sewing into paper so much, because it’s the bee’s knees. I promise a more in-depth post soon, but you know when you’re into something and you just have to share it? This little cupper is actually on its way to a very sweet Birthday Girl. It doesn’t have far to go, but I don’t think it’s going to make it in time. Sigh.

These notebooks have become my birthday gift idea par excellence, and I’m working on a few others right now. I’ve done a pretty good job honoring my Handmade Pledge, and this is a great way for me to send something from the heart and hands. I’ve been using Moleskine (over-priced) and faux-Moleskine (far more reasonable but difficult to find) notebooks, but I’m going to be making my own soon (that’ll be part of the part 2 of this post!).

Rather than typing this post, I should be embroidering this :

fish

It’s going to be for a notebook for my nephew’s birthday. These groovy little carp are from this book :

doodle-stitching

I bought it last summer when visiting the U.S. I think it’s a great book for embroidery beginners (like me!) because it gives a good explanation of some basic techniques and has some fun project ideas, and though not all of them are really my cup of tea, I’ve enjoyed flipping through the pages for inspiration. I’m excited to use a design from this book for the first time.

I’ll be posting a proper bookmaking W.I.P. soon, promis, juré!

Did you happen to see the whiteout cakes that were taking over the Internet last week? If not you can visit Honey B or Natalia to see how beeeutiful they looked. They got me dreaming of deep, dark chocolate and frosting and since Guppy & I are on vacation, we decided to make some cupcake love…

whiteout-cupcake

Clearly not as fancy as it could have been, but very fun to make with Guppy, and even more fun to eat! We just used the chocolate cupcake recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World, but I doubled the cocoa (because I’m punk rock like that) and we made a variation on the fluffy buttercream recipe. Betcha want one, too!

Une bûche de noël végétalienne! A vegan yule log! Happy Holidays Daring Bakers Style

blue_db

Just a quickie post to check in for the Daring Bakers Challenge – I’ll be back to regular posting soon, but I’ve been spending an “unplugged” vacation with my family, meaning the Internet has been also on vacation!

Here in France, the bûche de noël is a must during the holidays. They are often served for dessert or even with tea or coffee in the afternoon. While some people do make or purchase a “cake” or bûche patissière from their local patisserie, far more common are the bûche glacée, or frozen bûche which resembles what is called an ice cream cake in North America. When I read the following on the DBers forums, I was delighted :

This month’s challenge is brought to us by the adventurous Hilda from Saffron and Blueberry and Marion from Il en Faut Peu Pour Etre Heureux. They have chosen a French Yule Log by Flore from Florilege Gourmand.

Why was I so excited? Because each year at noël I politely decline the many slices of bûche offered to me as they are constructed with animal products. I prefer my holidays to be cruelty free, thank you very much. This month’s was the little nudge that I needed to make a vegan yule log, and it was so easy, I’ll be able to add this to my holiday recipe repertoire!

buchesans

Bûche just out of the freezer, waiting for icing…

Such a delicious challenge! The biggest compliment came from Monsieur Fish, a self-proclaimed bûche expert having enjoyed more than his fair share of yule logs over the course of his 33 years. He boasted proudly to our dinner guests that I’d made the yule log from scratch “Elle l’a fait maison!” then waited until they all gushed about how delicious it was before he announced that it was vegan – and told them it was the best bûche he’d ever had!

The most difficult part of this challenge for me was the photography! Of course I opted to serve it for a dessert after diner, so the light in my kitchen was terrible, but here you go :

frostedbucheBeautiful, frosted bûche with starry sprinkles courtesy of Guppy

sliceMelting, but oh so yummy!

This was one of the most fun and easy challenges I’ve had the pleasure of participating in! I don’t know if an omni version would have been as easy to put together, but the vegan version was as easy as (eating) pie! Here’s what I did :

  • Genoise – recipe for vanilla cupcakes from The Joy of Vegan Baking
  • Chocolate Mousse – Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World
  • Ganache – Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World
  • Crème Brulée – recipe for Pastry Cream from The Joy of Vegan Baking
  • Chocolate Frosting – Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World
  • praliné layer – I used the hazelnut praline technique from our July challenge

A huge merci to our hosts for a lovely challenge!

Mini-Cupcakes, Crafty Love & More!

Hola Everyone! First off, a change… Raw Tuesdays will now be…Raw Thursdays! So stay tuned tomorrow for that! My new schedule make a Thursday raw day a little easier, so there you go!

I picked up a mini-cupcake pan when I was in the U.S. and we’ve been enjoying the mini-cupcake love, let me tell you! They are the perfect size, because you feel much less guilty about eating two (or three) when they are tiny! Above are some Lemon Cupcakes with lemon royal icing and below, the Basic Chocolate Cupcake with Chocolate Ganache icing from VCTOTW.

Friday we had a bunch of friends over for the apéro or cocktails…but it was a well-fed apéro :

Homemade salsa & fresh-baked pita triangles

(I didn’t make the tortilla chips, hélas, but I’ll get that figured out eventually…)

Homemade roasted-garlic hummus

Diann posted about these Samosa Potatoes from VCON recently & I thought they would be a great finger-food – and they were! I doubled the batch, and good thing I did because they disappeared almost right away! I admit to not following the recipe and making my own curry paste… not pictured is the soy yogurt & fresh coriander sauce I made to dunk them in.

The other thing not pictured are the 45 spring rolls I made! Don’t ask me how I forgot to take a picture of them…they took me so long to prepare!

And isn’t this cute?

You already know I’m an Aranzi Aranzo fan, so no surprises here! I aquired their Cute Stuff book this summer, and this felt bag really caught me eye. I added a liner, because it just looks way better with one. I’m really playing with the basic design of this bag and am coming up with some really cute ideas, but need some time to get them together! I really love their style, and find their ideas so inspiring – a great jumping off point for me to make my own things!

I love my job! End of the year goodies & parties! J’adore mon boulot! Petites fêtes avant les vacances avec gourmandises!

NB: Just a quick yet sincere thanks to everyone who left me such kind comments on this post! You all really made my day! I’m not ready for Etsy yet (it hadn’t even occurred to me) but now you’ve got me thinking!

It’s that time of year : Summer Vacation! Before putting away our textbooks and red pens and breaking out the SPF 200 and beach towels, we need to have a little fun, and with the Shellyfish that means some tasty vegan fun! I’ll warn you now, I could have sub-titled this entry : The Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero French Ad Campaign… with a little plug for ma chérie, the polyglot and chef extrordinaire, Céline.

One of my jobs is teaching Adult English Conversation Classes. I absolutely love my job & my students this year who were all fabulous, intelligent, witty and groovy women with lots of different experiences and talents to share. I also love parties. Cool chicks + party = :)

Un de mes boulots est d’animer des cours de conversation anglaise. J’adore mon travail et surtout mes élèves qui cette année étaient des femmes géniales, intelligentes, avec beaucoup d’esprit et de classe qui avaient toutes des expériences et des talents variés à partager. Des filles très cool + une fête = :)

Ce n’est pas une fête sans champagne!

Des jeunes filles en fleur!

I made these Chocolate & Raspberry cookies from Veganomicon, though I used some of my homemade strawberry jam instead. These are some of our favourite cookies, though I make these much bigger than called for (I’m such a rebel) and cut down on the cooking time a little so I end up with a very chewy, almost gâteau fondant centre, and a lightly crisp outside. Divine!

After raving about the glory of the Snickerdoodle (because it is virtually unknown here en france), I was obliged to also bring some of Céline’s Veg-Times Redoux Snickerdoodles. I actually had to make three batches because Mr. Fish kept sneaking them and I didn’t have enough to bring with me (I of course didn’t sneak any, ahem.)! If you haven’t made these yet, don’t. I mean it. Once you make them, you’ll fall in love with them and will be making them all the time. You won’t be able to stop yourself! These are seriously our most favouritest cookie of all time ever in the entire galaxy!

And because peanut butter anything is considered inherently North American, I always try to reinforce those stereotypes with some “Big Gigantoid Peanut butter Cookies” from Vegan With A Vengeance (yes these are the same cookies as here – I made a ton!). These are usually the cookies I make for folks here in France who declare “eeww, I don’t like peanut butter!”. I sneak these babies in and they usually really like them and then we have a little laugh about clichés, stereotypes, the North American’s and their peanut butter, the French and their Nutella…it’s all good!

before

after

While there are many culinary differences between France and North America (I need to do a post on that sometime), one fundamental difference is SUGAR (and snacking, and junk food, and ice cream consumption… I really need to do a post on this!). When I started getting my baking groove on about a year or so ago, I’d make my vegan buttercream and be all thrilled about it, but Mr. Fish who is most definitely a gourmand (that’s a polite French way of saying that he is incapable of controlling himself when faced with all that is delicious) can’t take it. Same for fudge! This is also one of the main reasons that as a country the French are collectively much thinner and remain in far better health until a far more advanced age, despite the heavy consumption of fats (also the snacking…). Anyway, all that to say I wanted to make a fun cupcake sans frosting and not too too sweet, so I made the Agave cupcakes from VCTOTW. This was the first time I made them and they were great! Very moist and a little heavier than the traditional cupcake, though this also could have been due to the fact that after baking up a storm for the Open House I was out of cupcake liners!

I had more cute pics of my lovely students, but as I mentioned, I had an evil happening with the technology and lost a host of pictures… hélas.

La fête des ateliers à FLC : Fontainebleau Loisirs et Culture! (En exclu- recettes en français!) Open house at the FLC & The Shellyfish’s Cooking Demo! (Sans Photos)

NB: Suite à un accident technique où j’ai perdu toute mes photos (sauf une) des gourmandises de cette journée, je voulais renoncer et ne pas écrire le suivant. Mais, me voila, j’ai un peu (beaucoup) de retard…faisons semblant qu’on est toujours au mois de juin? :) Due to a technical error where I lost all the pictures of the goodies from this event (save one), I wanted to skip this entry, but here I am anyway. This post is a little (very) late…let’s just pretend it’s still June, ok?

Le samedi 14 juin c’était la fête à FLC : Fontainebleau Loisirs & Culture, puisque nous avons littéralement ouvert les portes au grand public ! En règle générale je me trouve dans ma salle de classe avec mes élèves au premier étage (avec la porte fermée pour ne pas gêner les autres- on s’amuse bien en cours et ça s’entend !). En tant qu’animatrice des cours d’anglais*, j’essaie de préparer des cours aussi ludiques et intéressants que possible, avec des supports aussi variés que possible : peut-être un article sur la politique aux Etats-Unis, une nouvelle parlant des difficultés de la vie du couple (et même une chanson qui propose une autre solution assez extrême !), un texte bien utile qui nous explique comment prendre soin de ceux qu’on aime, ou bien l’analyse des films qui mettent en valeur des “personnes” et des “personnages” clefs de la culture anglophone.

Saturday June 14th things were rather festive at FLC, or Fontainebleau Loisirs & Culture, because it was our end of the year open house! Generally I’m up in my classroom with my students on the second floor (with of course the door closed as to not disrupt the other classes- we tend to have fun and laughter carries!). As the English language teacher*, I try to make my classes both interesting and fun, using as many different mediums and subjects as I can, incorporating varying facets of language and Anglophone culture : maybe an article about politics in the United States, or perhaps a short story about the “difficulties” of married life (and even a song with a rather unique solution to said difficulties!), a handy little text which explains how to “take care” of those we love, as well as watching and discussing films which highlight key people and characters of Anglophone culture.

FLC propose des tas de cours & ateliers : langue étrangère, art plastique, musique, cuisine – et encore! – et J’étais ravie lorsqu’on m’a proposé d’animer un atelier cuisine “sucré” spéciale ayant pour thème la « Cuisine nord américaine » lors de notre fête des ateliers ! Et je n’ai pas hésité une seconde lorsqu’il fallut choisir les recettes : des cupcakes au chocolat de Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World et des cookies aux flocons d’avoine et à la purée de cacahouète de Vegan With A Vengeance .

FLC offers a so many different classes & workshops : foreign langues, art, music, cooking – and more! – and I was thrilled when asked to lead a special “sweets” cooking workshop featuring “North American Cuisine” during our Open House! And I knew exactly what I wanted to make : the “Basic Chocolate Cupcakes” from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World and the “Gigantoid Peanutbutter Cookies” from Vegan With A Vengeance.

Tout d’abord il fallait traduire les recettes et aussi faire les conversions entre le système Impériale et le système métrique (tellement plus facile !). J’ai donc préparé des cookies et des cupcakes à proposer aux visiteurs lors de la partie « portes ouvertes cours d’anglais » avant notre atelier cuisine, en faisant les conversions à chaque étape.

First I had to translate and convert the recipes from the Imperial system over to metric (which is so much easier, seriously people, it’s crazy!). I opted to make some test batches (translating and converting as I went using my kitchen scale) to serve to the passers by during the first part of the Open House where I greeted visitors in my classroom.

Je regrette sincèrement, mais je n’ai pas de photo de notre séance « cuisine et langue » (puisqu’on l’a fait en « franglais » !), j’étais tellement prise par ce que je faisais ! Je me suis beaucoup amusée, et les participants aussi (je pense), et nous nous sommes bien régalés aussi bien sûr ! Et le meilleur était de montrer à tout le monde combien les pâtisseries « sans cruauté » sont bonnes et faciles à préparer ! Beaucoup de monde passa, intrigués par les arômes venant de la cuisine, et il y avait plus d’une personne dubitative lorsque quelqu’un chuchotait « C’est végétalien ! Il n’y a pas d’œufs ! Tu te rends compte ! », mais je peux vous assurer qu’il ne restait plus rien à la fin de la séance, ils ont tout mangé ! Je n’avais pas pour mission explicite de faire de la propagande végétalienne, mais, si j’ai pu montrer aux non-croyants que c’est plus que possible de bien manger sans faire de mal aux animaux (et moins de mal à soi), tant mieux !

I’m so sorry that I don’t have any picutres of our “language and cuisine” session (because we did it in “fringlish” sharing random English vocabulary for baking & the kitchen- fun!) but I was so into what I was doing, it didn’t even occur to me to ask someone to be my photographer! I had so much fun, as did the participants (I hope!), and we also loved devouring sampling the goodies! But for me, the most rewarding part was showing everyone that “cruelty free” baked goodies were so yummy and so easy to prepare! There were many folks who just passed through the kitchen, curious as to the enticing aromas coming from the oven, and there was more than one eyebrow raised and doubtful look when someone whispered “It’s vegan! There are no eggs! Can you believe it?”, but there was nothing left at the end! They ate everything! I didn’t have a hidden agenda of Vegangelical propagandising, but if I was able to show a few non-believers that it’s more than possible to eat well without harming animals (and harming yourself a little less), well rock on!

Et voici les recettes, avec la permission de Ms. Isa et de Ms. Terry, les supers nanas de la cuisine végétalienne ! If you’re looking for the original versions of these recipes you can try here for the cupcakes, but I’m not sure the cookies have leaked to the blogosphere…though I’m sure they’re out there.

Cup Cakes au Chocolat

Ingrédients :

20cl lait de soja
5ml vinaigre de cidre
200g sucre en poudre
7cl huile végétale
10ml essence de vanille
180g farine
65g cacao en poudre
3.5ml (3/4 teaspoon) de bicarbonate de soude
2.5ml (1/2 teaspoon) de poudre levante
pincée de sel

1. Mettre le soja et le vinaigre dans un grand bol et mettre de côté.
2. Préchauffer le four à 175°. Mettre les feuilles de papier dans le moule.
3. Ajouter le sucre, l’huile, et la vanille au soja et mélanger à l’aide du mixer jusqu’à ce que ça mousse.
4. Passer au tamis (ou juste fouetter avec une fourchette) la farine, le cacao en poudre, la poudre levante et le sel dans un autre bol.
5. Ajouter en deux fois le mélange de farine aux ingrédients liquides tout en mixant, jusqu’à obtenir une pâte lisse & homogène.
6. Repartir la pâte dans les moules (les remplir au 3/4) et enfourner pour 10-15 minutes.

Peanut Butter-Oatmeal Cookies

Ingrédients :
225g farine
175g flocons d’avoine
10ml (2 teaspoons) poudre levante
pincée de sel
175ml huile végétale
175g beurre de cacahouètes
225g sucre roux
200g sucre en poudre
125ml lait de soja
10ml (2 teaspoons) essence de vanille

1. Préchauffer le four à 180°. Sortir 2 plaques de cuisson.

2. Mélanger la farine, les flocons d’avoine, la poudre levante et le sel dans un grand bol. Dans un autre bol, mixer l’huile, le beurre, les sucres, le lait et la vanille.
3. Ajouter le mélange de farine aux ingrédients liquides et mixer. La pâte sera très humide et collante, c’est normal ! Répartir des cuillerées de pâte (aprox. La taille d’un œuf) sur la plaque de cuisson (aprox. Une douzaine). Enfourner pour 10-12 minutes, puis laisser refroidir quelques minutes, puis les déposer sur une grille.

* A partir de la rentrée il y aura des cours pour enfants le mercredi matin! Vous pouvez m’écrire pour plus d’info!