The Fishbowl’s Vegan Menu Plan…

(This photo has nothing to do with anything. I just hate blogging without pictures, so here’s a terrible photo of the delicious chesnut crème I devoured last week.)

I’ve never been much for weekly meal planning. Even less for sharing said meal plan with the entire world. Until now…

Food shopping for me has always been more about what was available, what looked fresh and what my budget would allow. Blessed with a dynamic outdoor market 3 times per week allows me to keep fresh vegetables and fruits on hand, and usually provides the inspiration for the week’s meals.

Another deciding factor is whether I’m recipe testing for anyone. Thanks to Ricki, Kittee, Celine and Joni, I often don’t have to spend much time creating new and different meals : they do the work for me. Thanks, ladies.

I don’t know why, but I didn’t really understand the utility of sharing a weekly meal plan with the public at large. I’m always a bit afraid of commitment, and always wonder if people really follow through with their plans. What if you change your mind? Or better yet, what if your sweetheart surprises you with vegan sushi (hint, hint Monsieur Fish!)?

This week, however, is different.

Here is what I think we’ll be eating. This might change. I’m not signing a contract or anything. It’s just that I’ve come to realize the utility of sharing my meal plan. So often when people decide to go vegan they think it means re-inventing the wheel. The most common question all vegan are asked is “What do you eat?”, as if the idea of taking animal products from your diet meant the end of delicious meals. By publishing what we’ll be eating chez nous*, I may help someone plan some healthy vegan goodness chez eux*.

Monday : Coconut Red Bean Quinoa from Swell, the lovely little food zine from A-K, aka Swell Vegan. Additions : onion and peas, and maybe some greens.

Tuesday : Cholent from Veganomicon. I’ve never had it or made it, and I feel like I’m missing out on something.

Wednesday : It’s Saint Patrick’s Day! Because I love any and all holidays we’ll be celebrating with Irish Soda Bread from The Joy of Vegan Baking and Colcannon from 500 Vegan Recipes. Yum!

Thursday : Hopefully leftovers.

Friday : Lentil Tart with Tahini Crust served with Ginger & Sesame infused Carrot & Cucumber Salad, both from 500 Vegan Recipes.

Saturday : Homemade vegan pizzas! I’m thinking White Pizzas from 500 Vegan Recipes, but will probably get all punk rock and add sautéed eggplant, pine nuts and who knows what else.

Sunday : Brunch will be the Fluffy, Fruited Pancakes from Sweet Freedom. Love them. I’m thinking a mushroom quiche for dinner, but that may change. Some sort of savory tart I think. EDITED TO ADD: Afternoon goûter or snack brought to me by Kittee – woot!

Ta – da! There you go, the Fish Family’s eats for this week.  Until next time, bon appétit everyone!

(I was inspired this week by Libby of The Allergic Kid and Krys of Two Vegan Boys – thanks ladies!)

*our place, their place

Vegan Frangipan is as easy as pie. Or tart. Or positively scrumptious. Daring Baker’s Time, kids!

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Looking for the Sweet Freedom cookbook giveaway? You have until midnight Paris time today! Just leave a comment.

The June Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart… er… pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800′s in England.

Bakewell Tart (Vegan)

I have 2 confessions to make :

Confession number one = I wasn’t very excited about this challenge.

There. I said it.

When I saw this month’s challenge recipe I found it rather uninspiring and even considered skipping out because I had a multitude of other baking obligations this month…Nearly 200 cookies for Guppy’s school (not at once), 36 savory scones for my school…I’ll stop here. I didn’t think this pudding tart thingy sounded very exciting, and just kept dragging my feet about the whole thing.

Confession number two = Sometimes I am SO wrong about things it’s funny.

My husband, Monsieur Fish, doesn’t read my blog, thankfully, so I can share with you and the monde entier that sometimes I just don’t have any idea what I am talking about (often times to myself, but I digress…).

Wednesday evening, in true last minute style, I thought I should maybe make this month’s challenge. I knew I had yet another work luncheon on Thursday, and my students had requested I bring something sweet. I shrugged my shoulders as I began setting up the kitchen and figured at least I could bring it to my students who just love to see how I transform desserts into Vegan yummies.

Yummy is rather an understatement here.

Blackwell Tart (Vegan)

I don’t know why, but as I printed out the original frangipan recipe from the forums, it dawned on me that I was about to veganize frangipan!! For many, this may seem like small potatoes, but here in France, frangipan shows up in many beloved patisseries that I’d never attempted before. Why, if I could successfully veganize frangipan, I could make a galette des rois this year. Ha!

Reading the Alternative Baking Forums I’d seen that many of my Baking possé had great success veganizing the frangipan using various strategies and ingredients. I decided to throw caution to the wind and follow the recipe as written and just swap in Ener-G egg replacer for the three eggs and to use non-dairy butter.

Oh yeah, can you get a whiff of the sweet smell of success here?

I also changed up the crust and used the Vegan Shortbread Crust from The Joy of Vegan Baking. This is a wonderful and versatile crust that I thought would work well. Rather than pre-baking the crust as per the recipe in JOVB, I put it in the freezer while preparing the frangipan, and then just followed the challenge recipe instructions.

I brought the tart to my French class and it disappeared before my very eyes. The class is made up of students from all over Europe and the world, none of them vegan. They all loved it and just couldn’t believe there were no eggs in the frangipan. Yippie! It was indeed delicious, and I’m really grateful to our hosts for proposing such a wonderful staple recipe to add to my repertoire. I for one know I’ll be making this one again.

Bakewell tartSorry about the wonky pic, we were eating outside and I had to hurry and snap a shot before the tart was all gone!

And because my work is so intertwined with my private life, I used homemade cherry and raspberry jam I’d received earlier in the week from students in my English classes. I love homemade gifts!

Homemade Raspberry Jam, I love you.

Vegan Frangipan

125g non-hydrogenated, non-dairy margerine, softened
125g powdered sugar
The equivalent of 3 Eggs (Ener-G worked perfectly here)
2.5ml almond extract
125g ground almonds
30g AP flour

Whip together the Ener-G and water with beaters, set aside. Cream margarine and sugar together for about a minute or until the mixture is very fluffy. Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the Ener-G eggs. Beat well. The batter may appear to curdle or separate – it’s all good. Add the almond extract, almonds and flour and mix until well blended. Yum.

Do you like to play with your food? Visit The Daring Kitchen for wonderful food articles, sexy food p*rn and lovely portraits of the Daring Cooks and Bakers. Also, don’t forget to check out the other Daring Bakers and their tarts!

W.I.P. Wednesday : Rush, rush, rush!

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If you’re looking for the Sweet Freedom giveaway, go here! Three more days to enter!

I hate feeling like the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland, however, that’s pretty much what I’m looking and sounding like right now. I’ve got so many plates spinning I’m feeling a wee bit dizzy, but I know it’s pour la bonne cause.

W.I.P. Elephant

Working on appreciation gifts for Guppy’s two teachers is becoming a real priority since her last day of school is next week. I’ve just started stitching this adorable elephant that I modified from this free pattern (thank you!). Guppy’s class spent the year studying around the theme of circus animals, so I thought this cutie could look sweet on a little zipper bag…perhaps with some dark chocolate inside?

Vegan Oatmeal Chocolate Chip & Raisin Cookies

Who doesn’t love cookies? I’m only making “special” gifts for Guppy’s teacher and her aid, but not wanting to leave anyone out, I made a double-batch of the Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (with chocolate chips, because I can!) from one of my very favourite cookbooks, The Joy of Vegan Baking for everyone else – everyone else meaning the team of aids and auxiliary personnel who do so much for the kids and who often don’t get the thanks they deserve. It’s so fun making cookies and cupcakes for her school, because they are viewed as wonderfully exotic by the teaching team – and they always ask me for the recipes. I brought these to the school last week after Guppy’s school programme. She was a lion, and she roared the very best, and I’m not just saying that because I’m her Mamafish!

Cut out pieces

And lastly, here are some pattern pieces I cut out to make two aprons – and if I can get them done in a jiffy I’ll be sending them off to this month’s Tie One On. The theme this time around is “Pie Making Aprons”, which I think just sounds so fun and summery…the flower print fabric is so cute, and I think it works really well with the gingham. We’ll see in a few days…

I can’t wait to see what everyone has been up to W.I.P.-wise! Whatever your works-in-progress, have a crafty week, and don’t forget to see what the other Wipsters are up to, and to check out our W.I.P. Wednesday Flickr Pool, too.

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W.I.P. Wednesday Birthday Time! Guppy’s 4 & A 60-Day Project Update

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It’s all about the birthday goodness here at W.I.P. Headquarters! First a big fat thanks going out to Kittee of Cake Maker To The Stars, Amy of Tahinitoo, Cheryl of Gluten Free Goodness & Virginia of Bananas & Soymilk. They have been keeping the birthday momentum going for my dear Mammafish and I thank you all from the bottom of my little heart! The 60-Day Project will be wrapping up at the end of the month, and I’ll turn the blog over to guest-blogger Mammafish, but for now, here’s a little comment she left for you all :

When I read Shelly’s blog comments, I look at your names and see what you sent me. Makes me feel like I’m getting to know you all better. My heart is so full! You girls are beyond amazing. I am sure the world is a better place with each of you in it. Love, Mamafish

Since we’re talking about birthdays, here’s a little look at some of Ms. Guppy’s handmade birthday surprises. The first was a very special envelope that arrived from the United States…

Amy's envelope

Guppy was very excited to see her name on the envelope when we got the mail after school, but was even more thrilled once she looked inside!

Dinoriffic Birthday Card

Look at this dinoriffic handmade card by the sweet and talented Amy (Ms. Tahinitoo)! Not only did she send birthday love to my mother , but she also made this fantastic card for Guppy!

otherside

Guppy carried the card around all afternoon and evening (see smudge mark above). After a bit of negation, I did manage to convince her it would be better to frame it and hang it in her bedroom (cookies and juice were involved).

I wanted to make Guppy a Princess hat for her birthday. Or a Prince Charming hat as she calls it (she likes Prince Charming better because he can wear pants and boots which is better for running on cobblestone paths says she). I’m not a big fan of all that is princesses, damsels in distress, etc., but we do live down the street from a castle (!) so, it’s difficult to totally ignore.*(cute story at bottom if you’re interested).

thisone

She has a hat that we made from paper months ago, but it looks more like scrap paper now than anything fit for royalty. There are so many different kinds of hats you can make with felt and/or fabric (check out fellow Wipster Nicole’s more classic – and super-cute – crown how-to here), but I wanted to make one similar to her paper hat. There are probably tutorials all over the net for this – and it is so easy to make, you really don’t need a tutorial, but I’ll give you some rough instructions here…

Princess Hat 1

Since we make these cone-shaped hats out of large pieces of paper, I had a good idea of what size to make. If you’re not sure, you’ll need to measure you’re future royal’s head. Once you’ve got the measurement, add a few centimeters for your seam allowance, and using string and a pencil, make an arc as long as your measurement (for us that was 50cm). You’ll also need to decide how tall you want your hat – if you’re not sure, just make a paper hat as a practice hat and you’ll see what you’re in for. (Initially I was going to make a dual-colored hat, but it ended up being too big so I cut off the pink over-hang.)

I used the vegan felt I bought in the U.S. last year, and ironed on some interfacing to give it a little more structure (be sure to keep the heat low – I also used a piece of fabric to cover the felt just be sure).

Princess Hat Ribbons

For your ribbons and tulle, I suggest you sew them together into a bundle before trying to sew them into the hat. This is a lame picture, but you can make out that things are gathered on the right side. I sewed back and forth a few times to make sure everything was well anchored.

back view of hat

I do recommend you use two layers of felt if you’ll be sewing sequence and beads on as I did. I also suggest that you sew them onto the outer layer before sewing on your royal child’s initial – this is to hide your stitches which will get caught on hair ties and elastics and cause your child grief when they see their beads falling off. Because I was making this up as I went along, I decided to sew everything on after I’d sewn on the “L” (because no, her name isn’t really Guppy!), and yes, tragedy did ensue. I’ve since re-sewn on enough beads to not forget this lesson.

I just sewed the “L” on, through the two layers of felt. Then I pinned them together into a triangle, right sides together, with the ribbons at the top between the two layers and I sewed through it all. Then you just turn it ride side out and marvel at your creative awesomeness (15 minutes before the birthday girl wakes up from her nap to go to her birthday party…).

Lilah in her new hat

We have a lot of movement here, but she just put it on, so she was pretty excited…

Princess Hat 2

There were lots of tasty treats at her little birthday party : I made cupcakes without frosting, because 99% of French people do not like the frosting, chocolate dino cookies and with the extra cupcake batter made a small cake for Guppy – with frosting. I wanted to try to make fondant so I could have some dino-cuteness on her cake, but decided at the last minute to decorate her cake with mini-dino toys that she could keep and play with.

dino cake

The cake and cupcakes are from The Joy of Vegan Baking. They come out better than any other vanilla cake/cupcake recipe I have ever made – vegan or omni. Super moist without being heavy – they raise right up!

Chocolate Dino Cookies

The cookies are also from TJOVB, the sugar cookie recipe but with about 1/2 to 3/4 cup cocao added. They were a big hit at Halloween when I made them into skeletons. Thanks again Libby for sending that cookie cutter!

What have you been up to W.I.P.-wise? Whatever your works-in-progress, have a crafty week, and don’t forget to see what the other Wipsters are up to, and to check out our W.I.P. Wednesday Flickr Pool, too.

*This post is so long – but I had to share this! As you know, we live down the street from the castle, and so we often walk the grounds and gardens. The castle is a very popular spot for wedding photos, and ever since she was 2, whenever we see a new bride all decked out in her meringuey-poffy dress, Guppy just gets so excited and declares “It’s the princess of the castle!”. One young woman thought this was so sweet she called Guppy over and gave her a flower from her bouquet.