Birthday Recap Time, Kids!

Thank you from the bottom of my little vegan heart for all of your love, electronic and virtual well wishes and other forms of birthday cheer. Birthdays are generally a very big deal for us- we normally celebrate “Birthday Girl (or Boy) Week”, but it’s been a bumpy little time here in Fishland, and my birthday was all but brushed under the rug – until some super friends and blogging buddies like YOU came along to make me feel all special and stuff. I won’t blather on, just know that I feel so grateful for you all. (Snif, snif).

It wouldn’t be a birthday without cake, right?

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This scrumptious carrot cake from Vegan With A Vengeance has been all over the blogosphere of late. I’m usually a lemon cake or tofu cheese cake kind of gal, but when I saw Virginia’s carrot cake from VWAV last week, I gave into the peer pressure. Know why I’ve never made it? I can’t find vegan cream cheese here, and I didn’t want to make it without “right” frosting! Sillyfish. I opted for an almond & coconut buttercream, which wasn’t too shabby. I added about 1/2 cup crushed pineapple to the cake (because for me, if a carrot cake is sans pineapple, it’s just a wanna-be) and used a little less pineapple juice – it worked out just splendidly!

Now for the gifts!

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I asked Monsieur Fish for this Japanese Couture book from Pomodor24 (Highly recommend her! She has a shop on Etsy, too). He seemed incredulous and felt obliged to remind me I don’t read Japanese, but when I insisted that I’d be able to understand the diagrams and patterns, and that many other stitchy folks who lacked the Japanese skillz managed to sew some beautiful dresses from this book so why not me, he did acquiesce (though I didn’t know it! I was indeed a happysurprisedfish when I opened the mail). Look at how beautiful some of these are!

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Now I just need to find me some perdy fabric and I will be all over this! That being said, have any of you made anything from this book? Cause, you know, it’s in Japanese! Ahem. I’ll figure it out, duh! (whispers: but you can email me if you’ve made something so I can see it on your blog & bug you with questions, right?). Whew.

And you need these to cut fabric for a new dress, right?

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My sweet parents sent me these! They actually came in a few days before my birthday (meaning I’ve been able to use them) and man, they cut through four layers of cordoroy like non-dairy buttah, baby! Just shows you, getting by with any old tool is possible, but using the right tool for the job makes it so much easier!

I also received two very surprise gifts which made me feel so special!

new-crewel1A book, the new crewel : Excuisite Designs in Contemporary Embroidery by Katherine Shaughnessy. I made my way to the mail box thinking I’d find the light bill, but instead was this lovely book sent by my sweet friend Natalia!

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My other suprise gift was a book card! Everybody’s favourite Texas Vegan Mum Krys, and her Two Vegan Boys, Arthur and Adam sent me a gift certificate so I can treat myself to one of my very favourite things – a book!

I am so moved by the friendships that have grown out of our little blogging community, and Natalia and Krys, you are both so special to me! And you made me feel special – hey, come on, group hug everyone! Thank you!

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!

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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!

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY!!

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Here is some beautiful mimosa that lined part of the path where I went for my (almost) daily run when in the southwest of France this past week. You could smell it for meters around, even in the freezing cold and wet, it looked and smelled amazing! It’s common to give mimosa sprigs to women (we gave some to the Guppy’s mamie for la fête des grand-mères last year). Strong and beautiful from roots to tips, just like we women!

A bit back I was cruising around and saw this inventive culinary way to celebrate International Women’s Day and I just had to participate. I knew I would be cutting it close as we’d probably be coming back from our week in the Southwest, but I decided this was something I wanted to do! I have so many incredible, strong, beautiful women in my life- from the past, in the present, and I am sure that they’ll still be there in the future! I was very fortunate to spend the week with my brother-in-law’s family, and his wife L is a great example of one of the many hip fish I get to swim with. She took time to show me how to knit a cap (working on that), generously donated random pieces of fabric for me to play with, and was just generally a super-cool fish.

So here is my YELLOW contribution to the day…

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These are the Lemon Gem Cupcakes from Vegan With A Vengeance, topped with the Lemon Icing and the finishing touches of the vegan sprinkles were added by the Guppy, who is also a pretty cool little lady.

EDITED TO ADD: I’m really not cupcake obsessed. Really. I wanted to make lemon tarts, but these were just quicker & easier. Picking my battles, one cupcake at a time.

 

CATASTROPHA! When Good Cupcakes Go Bad… or Learning To Be “Present”

Sunday I am usually bustling about with end-of-weekend hurriedness, trying to get it all done *now*: a fun Sunday treat (like cookies, or cupcakes, or something with flour and sugar), a real, sit-down (at the table) dinner, wrapping up lesson plans, recuperating from my long run, etc. Well, this past Sunday was no exception, but I needed to get us all packed up for a few days near Toulouse in the South of France with Mr. Fish’s brother-in-law and his family. Mr. Fish was called off (conveniently?) to play sound engineer, so I had to pack the bags, organize the stuff (it seems like since the Guppy arrived we have all this…stuff). Oh, and I promised my work pals that I’d bring them a treat Monday morning before we hit the road (often my edible ‘thank you’ card, and my little vegan propaganda tool).

Have I learned nothing from my yoga practice? Being in the present, really doing what we are doing, not thinking about the billions of things that need to be done or that you’re not doing…it really is vital to a happy existence. And to happy cupcakes.

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I wanted to make Coconut Heaven cupcakes from Vegan With A Vengeance as a petit merci for someone who loves coconut. So far, sounds logical, right? The Guppy and I had nearly everything for our trip under control, so we began adding flour, sugar, etc. got the cupcakes in the oven and the Guppy in the tub. I rocked. It was all under control…

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And then these horrible looking things came out of the oven. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not horribly superficial, crater-riddled cupcakes are still cupcakes, and they can be made to look more beautiful with some icing or sprinkles or something, but these things were all greasy and heavy, and when I tried to take one out of the pan, well, it was like a wet sponge. Despite a nagging feeling urging me to just look away, I felt compelled to try one. It tasted like a sort of ruined coconut flan. Huh. I pondered this kitchen catastrophe and it dawned on me that I used the entire container of coconut milk. Why did I do this? The recipe only called for a little less than half! I think because I was thinking of a million other things, about everything except the coconut milk. Oh sadness…

Be in the now, people. Your cupcakes will thank you!

Whatever happened to Sunday Dinners? Lentil Casserole & “Wanna Be” Twinkiesque Cupcakes

Ever since drooling over Jennifer McCann’s veganized Twinkie(r) recipe, I have been able to think of nothing else (sorry, just had to laugh at the absurdity of that sentence- can you imagine only thinking about spongecake & creme filling? No dwelling on worrying about stressing over thinking about things like paying the bills, what to feed your 2 year-old, grading papers for students who really don’t care anyway, your checking account’s current negative balance, et all.) Let’s say that the vegan Twinkies(r) have been on my mind. A lot.

I went to a few stores in town and none of them carried anything even close to the cakelette tins one needs to build the perfect vegan Twinkie(r). While ordering them on-line is a possibility, the shipping is more than the tins…so, I surrendered to the idea of just making cupcakes, but that is so not the same thing.

 

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The other little snag in my devious plot for vegan Twinkie(r) perfection was that the recipe for the creme filling calls for barley malt powder. Now, if you think finding the cakelette tins is a problem here, you can forget about finding something as obscure as barley malt powder.

Not prepared to renounce a chance at tasting the sweet nostalgia of my youth, I decided to improvise (as usual) and used the “Fluffy White Icing” recipe from Vegan With A Vengeance. I’ve made Isa’s (Can I call you Isa? I think I can. Or would you prefer Ms. Isa? How about Vegan Cupcake Goddess?) “Fauxstess Cupcakes” before (they are délicioso), though I’d not gone the extra caloric-mile with the cream filling. It was a mile well worth taking, because it was perfect. The recipe calls for non-hydrogenated shortening which is also impossible to find in ma ville, but doubling up on the non-hydrogenated margarine worked perfectly much to my delight!

The Twinkie-cupcake experience was all rather exciting for me as I’d never used a pastry bag to fill anything before- how fun! I actually exploded a few cupcakes in the process (which was also kinda fun), but it was no problem, I just decided to cover up the damage with some swirly-cream! (I felt so Martha Stewart).

 

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Before…

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after!

Mr. Fish had never before tasted the goodness that we call Twinkie(r), and he was converted instantly. I’d planned on bringing some to work with me today to make up for the Valentine’s cupcakes which never made it…and he persuaded me that it was better to keep them here, with us. For Us.

I was so busy being productive yesterday with the cupcakes and my long run and putting the finishing touches on my Pointy Kitty (which I’ll blog more on later), that the dinner part of Sunday just sort of slipped away from me.

Being that it’s the end of the month (we’re paid monthly here in France) and the cupboards are beginning to be a wee bit bare, and I was rather short on time (and energy, licking all that cream filling off my fingers was exhausting!), I wanted to find a nutritious and delicious casserole recipe, but where? how? Who would help me through this dilemma?

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Didn’t actually get a photo of the casserole, so here’s another cupcake!

Casseroles make me think of the 1950’s, which make me think retro, which logically make me think of looking in a Sarah Kramer cookbook. Makes sense, right? See, here’s the deal, I have a love/hate relationship with La Dolce Vegan!. You know, like the colleague you seem to always be sort of harping about, so much so that someone finally tells you “hey, you have a crush on them!”- Ha! and all the incredulous “No I don’t, whatever!”s in the world can’t change the fact that you spend an awful lot of time talking about said person.

 

That’s me. I totally think Kramer is a righteous fish and her books are hip, but I just can’t figure out how to effectively use LDV. I can’t find things easily. Take yesterday for example. I wanted I casserole recipe, so I look under casseroles in the index. I find just a few. Nothing that would work with my kitchen stock. I continue to flip through and accidentally happen upon “Wendy’s Lentil & Brown Rice Casserole” (which was not with the casseroles, go figure). Cool. I put down book, the Guppy picks up book and starts reading it and of course page is lost. I can’t find it. I know C for casserole won’t help, I then look under W for Wendy but that doesn’t work… luckily for me I found it under “lentils” because it was yummy. I amped up the spices adding more basil and oregano, adding turmeric, cumin, crushed red pepper flakes, and four carrots. Very tasty, very easy. One pot meals rule! Yes you have to take it out to stir a few times, but since I had dishes to do and papers to grade at the kitchen table, it wasn’t terribly difficult.

I would like to say we enjoyed the casserole with a fresh, green salad with mustard vinaigrette (that was the plan) and homemade rolls (also the plan), but we were so full from noshing on the cupcakes that, well, we just left those out.

“Whatever happened to Sunday Dinners?” featuring tempeh, veggies and dessert!

In our continuing series “Whatever happened to Sunday Dinners?” I would like to propose:

  • Barbequed Tempeh from The New Farm Vegetarian Cookbook
  • Chickpea Broccoli Casserole from Vegan With A Vengeance
  • Gâteau au “fromage” à l’orange & aux amandes (orange & almond tofu “fromage” cheese cake) a Shellyfish original.

If you’re hungry, scroll down, this is a little long…

Being a vegan isn’t always easy. Dealing with an oft-misinformed public, tricky labeling, well-meaning but misguided friends and family members choosing sometimes radically inappropriate moments* to re-vegan-hash the “So why don’t you eat meat again?” question, stern-faced teachers and daycare personnel, incredulous about the lack of animal protein in your child’s diet…and so many other examples. I became a vegetarian over 18 years ago, and I was very lucky to have a supportive omnivore family, and then I moved to the other end of the United States and was living in an extremely veg-friendly city with great veg-friendly businesses, bakeries, groceries and restaurants. While I very, very rarely did anything resembling “cooking” or “baking”, I always had veg-friendly things to eat at my apartment, but I admit to very often eating out or getting take-out, and was generally a very lazy veg who was lacto-ovo much of the time.

It’s not the same life anymore for the Shellyfish, and I find myself spending more and more time in the kitchen. I used to cringe when I would imagine the “TMF” (typical married female) living somewhere between her laundry room and her kitchen, waiting on her husband and kids… (this reductionist view may well explain my former fear of commitment syndrome). I’ve evolved, and while some chicas are sadly uber-oppressed, I’m happy (most of the time) being a part-time stay-at-home mom, and I have discovered a new passion these past few years: spending time in the kitchen!

With the plethora of vegan cookbooks on the market and the growing numbers of vegan recipes on-line, it’s rather easy to find cruelty-free delicious things to prepare. While I am still in a far from veg-friendly French town, we have three, count ‘em, three health-food stores where I can find (expensive) tofu and other “oddities”, and when I lived in the area summer of 2004, there was much less choice to be had. It’s exciting to see things changing! While newly pregnant during Fall of 2004 (and home-bound and hungry!), I ordered a copy of The New Farm Vegetarian Cookbook edited by Louise Hagler and Dorothy R. Bates at the suggestion of a friend brought up in a veg-household (and whose mom is a mid-wife). This cookbook is so amazing! I rarely see it cited on the veg-blogosphere, and it’s dommage because it is really one of the most complete, basic vegan bibles out there. It explains DIY tofu, tempeh, yuba, gluten/seitan, you name it. The other great thing about this book is that it doesn’t call for specific hard-to-find brand-names, most everything is findable for a country mouse or a city mouse. I admit NFVC isn’t as hip or sexy as the newer, glossy books available. This book is from the mid-70s (just like me!), and it’s retro without trying to be. Get this book. You will not regret it. Well, maybe you will, but I think you’ll really like it.

Enough babble, on with our Sunday Dinner menu!

Until yesterday I’d never made my own BBQ sauce. There is a snappy recipe in the NFVC that you let simmer for an hour, and it is tangy and sassy and all those great BBQ adjectives rolled into one. Get your sauce going, then start your gâteau au fromage. I adapted this recipe from the basic Tofu Cheesecake recipe in NFVC, and have never regretted it. I’ve got another variation with maple syrup & pecans, but that’s for another day…

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  • GATEAU AU “fromage” À L’ORANGE ET AUX AMANDES
  • 500g/about 1lb medium tofu (just pat dry, don’t press)
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup veg. oil of choice
  • 1 cup organic sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/2 tablespoon orange essence/orange water (different brands call it different things)
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • shaved almonds, orange slices, raspberry coulis for garnish

Break up the tofu, and add all ingredients together in a food processor or blender and whip until creamy and smooth. If things are a bit grainy, mix some more, adding a hair of orange juice if it’s too thick. Pour into your crust of choice and bake at 350f for about 45 minutes or until it hardly jiggles in the middle. Let cool completely before trying to cut it!

While your gâteau is cooking and your BBQ sauce is simmering, you can set to work on the “Chickpea Broccoli Casserole” from VWAV. I’d never made it before, and I learned the hard way that you can’t always do with a “stiff fork” what you can do with a potato masher. After getting nowhere with my fourchette, I decided to squish my chickpeas with my bare hands (I’m a brute).

Once you get your casserole in the oven, just deep-fry your tempeh, and pour a little of your now-finished sauce in the bottom of a baking dish, add your blotted tempeh, then bake for about 15 minutes at around 350f.

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Everything was so super delicious! Mr. Fish was a little afraid of the casserole because it looked so “healthy”, but once he tasted it (and covered it with BBQ sauce) everything was fine. The Guppy devoured her gâteau au fauxmage, but the BBQ sauce was a little too much for her.

*like at the dinner table when they are about to wolf-down a fork-full of dead animal…I usually say, “I don’t think this is an appropriate time to talk about this.” or something similar, they push, I begin discussing slaughter-house strategies, etc., and inevitably someone at the table is horribly offended and gets all ‘radical vegan’ on me…

Valentine’s Day Cupcake Love or Adventures in Valentine’s Day Baking With The Guppy!

Happy Valentine’s Day Everyone!

I wanted to make something sweet and tasty for Valentine’s Day to share with my collegues at the school where I teach, but I also wanted to have some extra “whatever” for our little family. Still recovering from the cookie extravaganza over the holidays, yet needing something easily portable, the logical thing to do was to go with cupcakes (actually, “when in doubt, go with cupcakes” is one of my many little mottos, along with “What would Xena do?” and “If it ain’t rainin’, you ain’t trainin’!”).

The Guppy and I set to work to make some special Valentine’s cup cakes. We get very excited about cupcakes as I’ve mentioned before, and I know I will have to aquire a copy of Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World. I tell myself I’ve been resisting because I just can’t have too many sweet recipes lying around…mind strong, body weak…must make yummy treats…but in reality it’s the over-seas shipping that’s been keeping me from ordering it. I have, however, made the “fauxstess cupcakes” from her Vegan With A Vengeance and even though I didn’t do all the steps, found them to be just perfect. We frosted them with her “Coconut Heaven” icing last time, but I wanted to decorate somehow involving the Valentine’s Day theme, so I went ahead– oops! I mean we, the Guppy and I that is, and made the chocolate ganache icing and the “Royal Icing for Squigglies” but at the risk of totally offending cupcake-loving Moskowitz, used it to make (un-intentionally) funky-looking hearts. Don’t tell her, please.

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Guppy helping mum

Doing a little math (I hear friends and loved ones snickering. That’s not nice.) I realized that the yeild of 12 cupcakes would be a bit juste if I was to share cupcake love with collegues and the fam, so I decided ever-so-spontaneously to double the batch. No problemo. Moskowitz even assures me in her super-book that this recipe doubles really well. Yeah, I bet it does, when you’re not baking with a 2-year-old.

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Finger Lickin’ Good Batter, Mum!

Truth be told, the Guppy is really into cooking, baking and of course, tasting. She’s very easy to have as a helper, you just have to be sure to continually give her jobs to do. The only trick with that is making sure that the jobs will last long enough to distract her while I finish the task at hand. It all worked out pretty well, the only real problem was that my individual cupcake doses of batter weren’t as equal as I’d have liked, so they came out with varying heights.

 

No Food Worries With Vegan Beaters!
No Food Worries With Vegan Beaters!
So I would assign varying tasks to the Guppy such as “put all these measuring cups in this big bowl” or “please help Mumma count all these apples in the fruit basket”.
Have you ever been to the circus? Seen one on television? Are you familiar with the Chinese Plate Spinners? No matter how talented you are, eventually you’ll have so many pates spinning that you’ll just have to let a few fall in order to tend to those in front of you.
Some plates did indeed fall. But no one was hurt.
When I decided to double the batch I forgot to do the most basic of baking protocols- make sure I had enough of everything to do the double (as I’ve said before, I’m new to this). I didn’t. I had to substitute brown rice syrup for the maple syrup for the ganache icing. No biggie. Other tiny problem? My tablespoon dissappeared. No biggie. Just double-up on the half-teaspoon. Ok, but when you’re already doubling the recipe that means you’ll need 20 half teaspoons of soy milk for the ganache or 28 half-teaspoons of cocoa powder for the cupcakes…do you see where I’m going with this? (I again hear family and loved ones chortle as they picture dyslexically-inclined Shellyfish counting cocoa powdered spoons while counting apples with the Guppy. You shouldn’t make fun of me.)
The good news is, the cupcakes, while I cannot vouch for their actual cocoa powder content, were splended, the ganache very thick but in a good, decadant-fudgy way, and I found the tablespoon later in the evening when sweeping up the kitchen.
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ET VOILA!
The only sour note is my poor Guppy woke up in the middle of the night with a 104f fever, so I had to call in sick to work and thus not share cupcake love with collegues. The best laid plans of mice and men… oh well, more cupcakes for us as Mr. Fish declared!