Raw Tuesdays…on Thursday & a question for my dear Vegan friends…

Raw Tuesday went down as planned, though not blogged, but I *am* on vacation and I needed to get that Daring Bakers post up yesterday, so here is this week’s installment of Raw Tuesdays on, well, Thursday!

Breakfast was yet another post-run green smoothie. I will take a picture of one of those things eventually (I should be able to since I drink one pretty much every morning!). My two most popular choices are 1) almond milk, a banana, a large, cored apple added to a blender of loosely-packed spinach or 2) a banana, a cup of fresh blueberries or strawberries, and apple juice or almond milk with spinach. Yum! Depending on how hard my morning run was or how busy I am, I sometimes find myself needing a snack mid-morning. I caved to my inner-consumer and did buy a few of these:

In my defense, I don’t have a food processor here, so I can’t make these, which are a billion times less expensive and just as yum! Often what I’ll do is have about a half a bar before a run and the other half as a 10ish snacky-poo.

For lunch we had the “Baja Cheeze Burrito with Taco Nut Meat and Red Pepper Corn Salsa” from Ani’s Raw Kitchen. We were “supposed” to eat them wrapped in cabbage leaves, but we used collards, because we’re punk rock like that. While I didn’t manage to remember to snap a pic at lunch, I did remember to take a picture of our dinner, which was our left-overs served over salad rather than as wrap :

This is a crappy picture, and I’m sorry, but if you look carefully you can see the globs of green Baja Cheeze, Nut Taco Meat Romaine boats sitting on the spinach, and the Red Pepper Corn Salsa piled on in the middle. We mostly liked this trio. The salsa was fun because corn cut fresh from the cob is always a good thing, and the Baja Cheeze was very yummy, but a little rich. We really liked the Taco Nut Meat, but found ourselves mixing it with extra tomatoes and spinach to lighten it up a little. There is a very similar taco meat recipe to the one we used here over at Jen’s Fuel section (and while you’re there, check out her many other offerings!).

After lunch we made up a batch of “Cashew Coconut Pudding” to snack on with some fruit :

We made up a big fruit salad with watermelon, blueberries, bananas and gogi berries and served it up with the pudding. The pudding recipe made a huge amount, and we were able to snack on it for a few days, which is always a good thing. It’s really just cashews, water, dates & shredded coconut all whirled together, but it’s yummy!

What we’ve noticed as we’re trying to eat more and more raw meals and snacks is that it does require a bit of planning, but also how expensive the nuts and dried fruits are. I know that we’re in the midst of a global food crisis and that food prices have gone up as much as 85% on certain items, but I was surprised to see foods here in the U.S. nearly as expensive as in Europe!

Now for a little question : What is your favourite Raw Foods book? I am hoping to buy one more Raw foods book before I leave for home, and would love some suggestions! The only thing is I don’t have a dehydrator, so a book that’s reliant on dehydrators won’t really work for me. I would love some feedback, so feel free to leave a comment or email me!

An “Out-Of-The-Country” Daring Bakers July Challenge – *Vegan* Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream

As most of you know I’m away from home for a smashing summer vacation in the U.S. visiting family. When the lovely and talented Chris of Mele Cotte, this month’s hostess-with-the-mostest, posted her chosen recipe, the Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream from Great Cakes by Carol Walter, well, I hesitated. Not being in my own kitchen at home in France (which is the size of a typical American broom closet…but it’s my broom closet.) I wasn’t sure if I could pull this off. When you’re home you know what’s in your cupboard, what pans and supplies you have, and where it all is.

The other consideration I had was that my “loaner” kitchen was not at all vegan, and that meant having to stock up on cruelty-free staples, but I would have had to do that anyway since I was planning on spending the better part of my six-week stay here (the house, not the kitchen). I didn’t want to miss a challenge, so I decided I would figure this out and not explode my vacation budget.

While this recipe could seem a bit daunting initially, it’s really just composed of several mini-recipes : Filbert Genoise, Sugar Syrup, Praline Buttercream (comprised of Swiss Buttercream & Praline Paste), Apricot Glaze, and finally, the Ganache Glaze. The good news was that my sister sent over some homemade raspberry jam, so I used that for the glaze rather than apricot. The bad news was that there was but one “cake” pan to be found, a 9×12″ jobber that wouldn’t do for this challenge. I had already purchased some 4″ round mini-pans to bring back to France (after falling for the adorable ones Marika showed us) and that was the extent of my pan-purchasing-power, so I decided to make mini-cakes to keep me in the game.

I used the “Vanilla Cupcakes” recipe from The Joy of Vegan Baking for the Genoise, subbing a half-cup of hazelnut meal for a half-cup of flour. This recipe worked like a charm and these little babies popped right out of their pans.

I knew I had too much batter for my five little pans (which explains why they look like muffins!) but I cut off the tops and made mini-cakes for our quatre heures or afternoon tea, served with some of that raspberry jam!

The next step was to make the Praline Buttercream, and it was by far my favourite part of the recipe, and the best part of the cake! It was very fun to make (see full instructions included with the NON-VEGAN recipe at bottom of post). A cinch to make, the Praline Paste is just a sort of caramelized sugar with chopped hazel nuts mixed in (knowing I didn’t have a food processor in loaner kitchen, I opted to chop them before making the paste). I was fascinated by just pouring sugar into a pan and watching (without touching) as it melted into molten caramelish goo. Once the right temperature achieved, the transformation is über-fast, and it’s easy to be taken by surprise!

I took these two pictures sequentially, it melted that fast! I also ended up with a nasty burn on my index finger (despite Chris warning this could happen…). Sort of like wax. Oh well, I got extra cake rations for my suffering :)!

After cooling, you’re to grind this delectable rubble into the Praline Paste, but since we are sans food processor here at the loaner kitchen, I just whipped it in the blender, which did leave a more crunchy paste, but it was lovely and added a little something to the cake (I used the Buttercream recipe from The Joy of Vegan Baking).

I really ran into trouble when trying to make the Ganache, and was rather frustrated because I have loads of vegan ganache recipes at home, but not here. I used soy creamer, which I know from fellow vegan bloggers usually works well, but I just couldn’t get my ganache to thicken or harden up enough to spread on the cake. It was delicious, but thin as water, even after spending a long time in the fridge. It was in the high 90sF here, which didn’t help, but still. I ended up using the reserved buttercream which I was to use for decorating and added it to the ganache, which did indeed thicken it up. I still was determined to decorate these little cakes, though, so I made a batch of the Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting from TJOVB , but subbed hazelnut butter for the peanut butter. Holy Amazing Delicious! I intended to use this to embellish the cakes… but again, I don’t have anything to decorate with. I read on-line that using baggies or plastic bags could work well. This is a big, fat, horrible lie, just so you know! Each of my attempts were met with terrible failure as the seams split and the frosting oozed out. I decided to not fight the universe and just do what I could to finish up and dig in…

Cacao powder sprinkled on top & frosting bag explosion.

I tried to save the glopped decorating frosting by making a border around the bottom…

I don’t think I’ll ever make this one again, but I know that I’ll make the Praline Paste Buttercream, it’s just just that freaking good!! Amazing, really. The three little cakes disappeared in little over 24 hours, so that’s generally a rather positive sign!

Here’s the original recipe – again, NON-VEGAN – just to be clear…

Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream
From Great Cakes by Carol Walter

1 Filbert Genoise
1 recipe sugar syrup, flavored with dark rum
1 recipe Praline Buttercream
½ cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
1 recipe Apricot Glaze
1 recipe Ganache Glaze, prepared just before using
3 tablespoons filberts, toasted and coarsely chopped

Filbert Genoise

Because of the amount of nuts in the recipe, this preparation is different from a classic genoise.

1 ½ cups hazelnuts, toasted/skinned
2/3 cup cake flour, unsifted
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
7 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar, divided ¼ & ¾ cups
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. grated lemon rind
5 lg. egg whites
¼ cup warm, clarified butter (100 – 110 degrees)

Position rack in the lower 3rd of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10” X 2” inch round cake pan.

Using a food processor, process nuts, cake flour, and cornstarch for about 30 seconds. Then, pulse the mixture about 10 times to get a fine, powdery mixture. You’ll know the nuts are ready when they begin to gather together around the sides of the bowl. While you want to make sure there aren’t any large pieces, don’t over-process. Set aside.

Put the yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, and beat until thick and light in color, about 3-4 minutes on med-high speed. Slowly, add ¾ cup of sugar. It is best to do so by adding a tablespoon at a time, taking about 3 minutes for this step. When finished, the mixture should be ribbony. Blend in the vanilla and grated lemon rind. Remove and set aside.

Place egg whites in a large, clean bowl of the electric mixer with the whisk attachment and beat on medium speed, until soft peaks. Increase to med-high speed and slowly add the remaining ¼ cup of sugar, over 15-20 seconds or so. Continue to beat for another ½ minute.
Add the yolk mixture to the whites and whisk for 1 minute.

Pour the warm butter in a liquid measure cup (or a spouted container). * It must be a deep bottom bowl and work must be fast.* Put the nut meal in a mesh strainer (or use your hand – working quickly) and sprinkle it in about 2 tablespoons at a time – folding it carefully for about 40 folds. Be sure to exclude any large chunks/pieces of nuts. Again, work quickly and carefully as to not deflate the mixture. When all but about 2 Tbsp. of nut meal remain, quickly and steadily pour the warm butter over the batter. Then, with the remaining nut meal, fold the batter to incorporate, about 13 or so folds.

With a rubber spatula, transfer the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the surface with the spatula or back of a spoon. **If collected butter remains at the bottom of the bowl, do not add it to the batter! It will impede the cake rising while baking.

Tap the pan on the counter to remove air bubbles and bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes. You’ll know the cake is done when it is springy to the touch and it separates itself from the side of the pan. Remove from oven and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Invert onto a cake rack sprayed with nonstick coating, removing the pan. Cool the cake completely.

*If not using the cake right away, wrap thoroughly in plastic wrap, then in a plastic bag, then in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. If freezing, wrap in foil, then the bag and use within 2-3 months.

Sugar Syrup
Makes 1 cup, good for one 10-inch cake – split into 3 layers

1 cup water
¼ cup sugar
2 Tbsp. dark rum or orange flavored liqueur

In a small, yet heavy saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add the liqueur. Cool slightly before using on the cake. *Can be made in advance.

Praline Buttercream
1 recipe Swiss Buttercream
1/3 cup praline paste
1 ½ – 2 Tbsp. Jamaican rum (optional)

Blend ½ cup buttercream into the paste, then add to the remaining buttercream. Whip briefly on med-low speed to combine. Blend in rum.

Swiss Buttercream
4 lg. egg whites
¾ cup sugar
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly firm
1 ½ -2 Tbsp. Grand Marnier or liqueur of your choice
1 tsp. vanilla

Place the egg whites in a lg/ bowl of a elevtric mixer and beat with the whisk attachment until the whites are foamy and they begin to thicken (just before the soft peak stage). Set the bowl over a saucepan filled with about 2 inches of simmering water, making sure the bowl is not touching the water. Then, whisk in the sugar by adding 1-2 tablespoon of sugar at a time over a minutes time. Continue beating 2-3 minutes or until the whites are warm (about 120 degrees) and the sugar is dissolved. The mixture should look thick and like whipped marshmallows.
Remove from pan and with either the paddle or whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and sugar on med-high until its a thick, cool meringue – about 5-7 minutes. *Do not overbeat*. Set aside.

Place the butter in a separate clean mixing bowl and, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter at medium speed for 40-60 seconds, or until smooth and creamy. *Do not overbeat or the butter will become toooooo soft.*

On med-low speed, blend the meringue into the butter, about 1-2 Tbsp. at a time, over 1 minute. Add the liqueur and vanilla and mix for 30-45 seconds longer, until thick and creamy.

Refrigerate 10-15 minutes before using.

Wait! My buttercream won’t come together! Reheat the buttercream briefly over simmering water for about 5 seconds, stirring with a wooden spoon. Be careful and do not overbeat. The mixture will look broken with some liquid at the bottom of the bowl. Return the bowl to the mixer and whip on medium speed just until the cream comes back together.

Wait! My buttercream is too soft! Chill the buttercream in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes and rewhip. If that doesn’t work, cream an additional 2-4 Tbsp. of butter in a small bowl– making sure the butter is not as soft as the original amount, so make sure is cool and smooth. On low speed, quickly add the creamed butter to the buttercream, 1 Tbsp. at a time.

Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or can be frozen for up to 6 months. If freezing, store in 2 16-oz. plastic containers and thaw in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for several hours.

Praline Paste
1 cup (4 ½ oz.) Hazelnuts, toasted/skinless
2/3 cup Sugar
Line a jelly roll pan with parchment and lightly butter.

Put the sugar in a heavy 10-inch skillet. Heat on low flame for about 10-20 min until the sugar melts around the edges. Do not stir the sugar. Swirl the pan if necessary to prevent the melted sugar from burning. Brush the sides of the pan with water to remove sugar crystals. If the sugar in the center does not melt, stir briefly. When the sugar is completely melted and caramel in color, remove from heat. Stir in the nuts with a wooden spoon and separate the clusters. Return to low heat and stir to coat the nuts on all sides. Cook until the mixture starts to bubble. **Remember – extremely hot mixture.** Then onto the parchment lined sheet and spread as evenly as possible. As it cools, it will harden into brittle. Break the candied nuts into pieces and place them in the food processor. Pulse into a medium-fine crunch or process until the brittle turns into a powder. To make paste, process for several minutes. Store in an airtight container and store in a cook dry place. Do not refrigerate.

Apricot Glaze
Good for one 10-inch cake

2/3 cup thick apricot preserves
1 Tbsp. water

In a small, yet heavy saucepan, bring the water and preserves to a slow boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes. If the mixture begins to stick to the bottom of the saucepan, add water as needed.

Remove from heat and, using a strainer, press the mixture through the mesh and discard any remnants. With a pastry brush, apply the glaze onto the cake while the cake is still warm. If the glaze is too thick, thin to a preferred consistency with drops of water.

Ganache Glaze
Makes about 1 cup, enough to cover the top and sides of a 9 or 10 inch layer or tube cake

**Ganache can take on many forms. While warm – great fudge sauce. While cool or lukewarm – semisweet glaze. Slightly chilled – can be whipped into a filling/frosting. Cold & solid – the base of candied chocolate truffles.

6 oz. (good) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, like Lindt
6 oz. (¾ cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. light corn syrup
1 Tbsp. Grand Marnier, Cointreay, or dark Jamaican rum (optional)
¾ tsp. vanilla
½ – 1 tsp. hot water, if needed

Blend vanilla and liqueur/rum together and set aside.

Break the chocolate into 1-inch pieces and place in the basket of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer into a medium sized bowl and set aside.

Heat the cream and corn syrup in a saucepan, on low, until it reached a gentle boil. Once to the gently boil, immediately and carefully pour over the chocolate. Leave it alone for one minute, then slowly stir and mix the chocolate and cream together until the chocolate is melted and incorporated into the cream. Carefully blend in vanilla mixture. If the surface seems oily, add ½ – 1 tsp hot water. The glaze will thicken, but should still be pourable. If it doesn’t thicken, refrigerate for about 5 minutes, but make sure it doesn’t get too cold!

Assembling Cake

Cut a cardboard disk slightly smaller than the cake. Divide the cake into 3 layers and place the first layer top-side down on the disk. Using a pastry brush, moisten the layer with 3-4 Tbsp. of warm sugar syrup. Measure out 1 cup of praline buttercream and set aside.

Spread the bottom layer with a ¼-inch thickness of the remaining buttercream. Cover with ½ of the whipped cream, leaving ¼-inch border around the edge of the cake. Place the middle layer over the first, brush with sugar syrup, spreading with buttercream. Cover with the remaining whipped cream.

Moisten the cut side of the third layer with additional sugar syrup and place cut side down on the cake. Gently, press the sides of the cake to align the layers. Refrigerate to chill for at least 30 minutes.

Lift the cake by sliding your palm under the cardboard. Holding a serrated or very sharp night with an 8-ich blade held parallel to the sides of the cake, trim the sides so that they are perfectly straight. Cut a slight bevel at the top to help the glaze drip over the edge. Brush the top and sides of the cake with warm apricot glaze, sealing the cut areas completely. Chill while you prepare the ganache.

Place a rack over a large shallow pan to catch the ganache drippings. Remove the gateau from the refrigerator and put it the rack. With a metal spatula in hand, and holding the saucepan about 10 inches above the cake, pour the ganache onto the cake’s center. Move the spatula over the top of the ganache about 4 times to get a smooth and mirror-like appearance. The ganache should cover the top and run down the sides of the cake. When the ganache has been poured and is coating the cake, lift one side of the rack and bang it once on the counter to help spread the ganache evenly and break any air bubbles. (Work fast before setting starts.) Patch any bare spots on the sides with a smaller spatula, but do not touch the top after the “bang”. Let the cake stand at least 15 minutes to set after glazing.

To garnish the cake, fit a 12 – 14-inch pastry bag with a #114 large leaf tip. Fill the bag with the reserved praline cream. Stating ½ inch from the outer edge of the cake, position the pastry tube at a 90 degree angle with the top almost touching the top of the cake. Apply pressure to the pastry bag, moving it slightly toward the center of the cake. As the buttercream flows on the cake, reverse the movement backward toward the edge of the cake and finish by pulling the bag again to the center. Stop applying pressure and press the bag downward, then quickly pull the tip up to break the flow of frosting. Repeat, making 12 leaves evenly spaced around the surface of the cake.

Make a second row of leaves on the top of the first row, moving the pastry bag about ¾ inch closer to the center. The leaves should overlap. Make a 3rd row, moving closer and closer to the center. Add a 4th row if you have the room. But, leave a 2-inch space in the center for a chopped filbert garnish. Refrigerate uncovered for 3-4 hours to allow the cake to set. Remove the cake from the refrigerator at least 3 hours before serving.

Leftover cake can be covered with foil and kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

It’s Getting Hot In Here… Thoughtful Fridays

© Getty Images, E Magazine Graphic

Here’s a rather mind-boggling quote for this week’s installment of Thoughtful Fridays:

“According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the American meat industry produced more than 1.4 billion tons of waste in 1997—five tons for every U.S. citizen and 130 times the volume of human waste. Michael Jacobson, the longtime executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, adds the fact that just one midsized feedlot churns out half a million pounds of manure each day. “The methane that cattle and their manure produce has a global warming effect equal to that of 33 million automobiles,” the Center reports in its book Six Arguments for a Greener Diet.”

Take a peek at this great article by Jim Motavalli, “Meat of the Matter” in the July/August issue of The Environmental Magazine.

For the environmentally well-versed, this is not a ground-breaking article by any means, but it’s a great read, and will arm you with all sorts of wonderful statistics to fire at the folks who claim to be “green” while feasting on dead animals.

Awards & Recognition

The lovely and creative Jennifer of Small Space Sweets has kindly nominated me for the Brillante Blog Award – merci beaucoup, Jennifer! This is really adorable, and I’m honored that my blog gets to have a sweet little award banner! Do I get to put this on my CV? Just asking. I could put it under “Special Awards” or something like that…

I sat on this for a little while because I think it’s really very difficult passing on an award like this. Nearly every time I sit down to read my preferred blogs, I add someone new, and my reader is a bit like the waistline of the average American – growing bigger every day! I am thrilled to belong to this vast and beautiful vegan blogging community, and it’s difficult to not give the award to everyone whose blog I love (not to mention there are many people who don’t like to play along – which I understand – or who have already been nominated).

So here’s how we play, kids :

First, the lovely award -

Next, another heartfelt thank you to Jennifer, who nominated me for this “sweet” honor.

And here are my nominees, in no particular order at all :

Alice of Alice in Veganland because despite her grueling schedule, she still manages yummy posts.

A-K of Swell Vegan for her beautiful photography, and most recently her detailed posts detailing her raw experience.

Celine of Have Cake Will Travel because we’re getting married some day and you are all invited.

Amy of Vegan Addict because her posts are so fun and tasty.

Avry Yale Kamila of Commune Tested, City Approved for sharing her vegan slice of life posts with style.

Monica our Rural Vegan because her posts always make me hungry (and smile).

Our lovely Texas Vegan of eat’n veg’n who rocks gluten-free veganism, and is probably the coolest vegan mom in Texas!

I need to go share the fun news with my nominees… and get outside, it’s beautiful today!

Raw Tuesdays!

I think it would be really great if I could manage one raw day a week, don’t you? Like most health-minded kids, I try to incorporate as much raw food into my diet, but I would like to take it to the next level : beyond that of an almost daily smoothie, crudités before dinner, and fruit for snack. The heat and humidity certainly make eating fresh raw fruits and veggies only for an entire day rather appealing, and since my dashing & witty younger vegetarian brother who I am visiting was game for this little challenge, soit! (So be it). Let’s have Raw Tuesdays kids!

Not having a huge amount of experience with Raw Cuisine (I’d qualify myself as “raw curious”), and not having access to libraries or bookstores with Raw recipe books aplenty, I asked two ultra-lovely Raw Cuisine enthusiasts Veggie Girl and Jen the Veg*Triathlete of Fuled By Plants if they had any suggestions for a future book purchase. They both kindly provided a few titles and a little commentary on their suggestions (Thanks ladies! you are super-cool!). While I did mention that I was looking for a Raw book that wasn’t dehydrator-dependant, I didn’t give any other criteria.

Both of these beautiful bloggers mentioned Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen as a good place to start (they did mention others, which I hope someday to acquire). I was in a bookstore 24 hours after getting off the plane (no, I don’t have a book problem) and was ready to get raw with Ani (in a rated G kinda way you dirty freaks). I won’t go into a long review of this book as they are all over the vegosphere, but I will say that if you can get past the photos of Phyo jaunting about on nearly every freaking page, this is a great book. You can make the majority of the recipes with little or no special equipment (assuming you have a powerful blender and/or food processor). I get a little peeved when food authors have a budget for photos but in lieu of showing us food, we’re forced to look at some sort of photo shoot gone wrong.

For our first Raw Tuesday we began the day with these:

Comprised mostly of ground flax seeds, both Brotherfish & I found them to be really yummy, for like four bites, then they seemed really intense. Thick. We decided that the serving sizes were maybe a little askew and had our leftovers the next day for breakfast, but halved, and coupled with lots of fresh fruit was very good.

For lunch we had the Spanish Scramble. I have no picture of this because I totally forgot to take one. But if you want, you can watch Phyo making Spanish Scramble :

Rather than serving it on a bed of spinach leaves, we ate it rolled up in fresh collard greens. It was pretty yummy, though I think next time I will serve it with lots of fresh tomato and cucumber slices to lighten it up a little.

We also made the Fresh Mango Cobbler and it was freaking amazing! Loved it! Even the not even a little health-conscious members of my family loved it. Like most raw desserts it reminded me of “dough”, but in a really good way.

Our first Raw Tuesday was lots of fun! I do speed work on Tuesday mornings (running, not race car driving), and I run first thing in the morning. I drank a big glass of almond milk before I went, and I felt fine.

The Incredible Mr. Fish

This is Mr. Fish. Isn’t he just too freakin’ sexy-cute? (I’m not used to the beard, but I think it’s pretty fun). Sadly, he was unable to come with the Guppy & myself on our North American adventure. I’m missing him something awful. So is the Guppy.

The above photo was taken of him playing this festival :

…which I totally missed out on because I’m out of the country! :(

When we met, Mr. Fish and I thought we’d do a lot of collaborating musically. I’ve been a singer (dancer, poet, papergirl) and he was singing and playing in a band when we met, and the logical “next step” was for us to start writing songs together. The universe laughs at you, though, when you start getting all arrogant and begin planning things… Mr. Fish’s former band broke up (don’t call me Yoko! I really had nothing to do with it.) and our lives took a very different direction.

We did manage one amazing collaboration though :

…and she’s the most beautiful song either of us has ever written!

Go check out Mr. Fish’s band Copernic# on their My Space page if you’d like to give them a little listen!

And here’s a little food p*rn, which has nothing to do with anything, but you know, just to keep the edge off:

This is my favourite way to serve left-over chili the following day – burritos! Just put a little on a tortilla with some soy yogurt (which is like my version of sour cream) and some chopped tomatoes and even for an exceptional treat – avocados! Yum!

Back in the U.S.S…A! & La fête de la Bastille

Holy portion sizes, Batman! I’m back in the land where everything is bigger, newer, brighter & shiner! I am extremely thrilled to spend time with my family, so excited to eat pinto beans, green chilies, or blue corn chips whenever I want to, and to catch Sesame Street on PBS with the Guppy! I haven’t been on North American soil in two years (and to be honest, last time I was here it was for a sad/urgent reason and I didn’t really do any “observing”) and it’s surprising how much things have changed (and yet, have stayed the same). Logically, the longer I live away, the more I find myself feeling like an observer and not at all like a participant, though it is rather strange to get the feeling I’m more of a foreigner “visiting” than an expat “returning” home. So silly all these games of the mind!

I promise I’ll be putting together a little post showcasing the newish or striking things I’ve noticed since I’ve been here (holy inflation, Batkids!). I’m also giving some thought to my future post highlighting the differences between the eating habits of the French and the North Americans. I’m actually in Southern Michigan, which is not “home” for me, but home is where your family is, and that’s where most of my peeps are this summer. I’ll be heading north soon, and will hopefully get to spend at least a day in one of my very favourite countries, Canada. There has been some first rate food and lots of fun so far on my visit, so I’ll need to get my poop in a group and get some photos of all that excitement on the blog post-haste!

Copyright © 2008 AFP

Il faut pas oublier l’égalité! Don’t forget equality!

It’s July 14th and that means it’s the French National Holiday! Tearing down the prisons of economic hierarchy and gettin’ giggy with the people – right on. I’m sorry I missed being home for the fireworks & fun, but I caught this little news story online, featuring one of my favourite French Feminist groups, La Barbe, who denounces the omnipresence of males in positions of power in government, and it made me smile. These women commemorated the holiday by placing beards on the statues of the monument at la place de la République (dear to my heart because I lived just near by). This isn’t the first time they’ve done this:

Isn’t it funny that our phallocentric societies fawn over the workings of men, yet the monuments to their grandure always seem to be graced by the feminine form. Grrr… we still have so much work to do, even when on vacation!

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.