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


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!


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!

W.I.P. Wednesday : It’s Time For Holiday Decorations (à la pâte à sel) & Gifts

After our fun with modeling the pâte à sel we decided to make holiday decorations for our tree. We have a tiny little “Charlie Brown Christmas Tree” that I picked up near the garbage bin just before Christmas when I was pregnant for Guppy. The little tree was in its cardboard box, and it looked as if it had been opened maybe once. I figured it was too good to be true, but the tree was inside, and in perfect condition (albeit tiny). I don’t think it’s a good idea to buy a plastic/synthetic tree, but a freebie on the side of the road, destined for a landfill, well, I call it a “rescue”!

Every holiday we’ve spent together married we’ve acquired a decoration here or there. Then, last year I decided that we should be making new decorations each year, a bit like making a memory of each holiday. This was my “crafty awakening”, and the first time I had the desire to make something with meaning for myself or my family. Hannah had some cute cupcake ornaments she’d made and I decided to make some, too. Six polyester felt cupcakes later, I started feeling like I was maybe enjoying this crafty thing.


This year we opted to make salt dough ornaments, and we were sure to make enough to give as gifts as well. Perhaps a bit vieux jeu or old fashioned for some of you hip kids out there, but we had a wonderful afternoon painting together. I know I’ll enjoy comparing Guppy’s painting skills – and interest in different shapes and mediums – from year to year. (Note the dino, made with the cutter from Libby – thanks again Libby!).


You could do so much to decorate these – gluing glitter or sequence would be great fun I think. We used some old (and a bit skanky) finger paints (though we used brushes) and once they were dry I have them a coat of mod podge. The paint got all crinkly and antique looking which I really liked.

Homemade Holiday Decorations

2 1/2 cups AP flour (you may need to add a little more, mix & see)
1/2 cup salt
3/4 cup hot tap water (you may need to add a little more, mix & see)
2 tsp vegetable oil

Cut your decorations using cookie cutters or whatever you like, then lay them on baking sheets and in the oven they go for around 40 minutes or until they’re hard, at about 100°c.

In more crafty W.I.P. endeavours, I made a few more stockings as gifts for my brother-in-law and his wife. We’re spending Christmas and New Year’s with them at their home near Toulouse. They are muy groovy, and I wanted to make them something special.


The fun part of this project is that my sis-in-law gave me the beautiful Christmas plaid tissue last February when we came for a little visit. I didn’t yet have a sewing machine, but I told her that I was doing some hand sewing and I was hoping to score a machine in the near future. She gave me a few odds and ends from her stash, and I love that I was able to make her a gift using what she gave me. How “full circle” and all that. And they’re not at all wrinkly from our 6-hour car ride…


I’m wishing you all a most fabulous 2009! I hope you’re able to spend some wonderful moments with the people you love and make some beautiful memories of your own. I’ll see you next year!

Pâte à Sel : Salt Girl & Doughboy

Until 6 weeks ago, Guppy & I were a pretty active pair. Afternoons most often meant going for a walk or a bike ride, maybe exploring in the “Grand Parc” of the castle…but since I have been immobilized, she has also been grounded.

We have become rather adept with the pâte à sel or salt dough thanks to our forced “down-time”, and I must admit, it’s been much fun.

My only real complaint is that I have been without food coloring for a few months so things were very White Christmas, but Guppy didn’t seem to mind.


Here’s our little “Salt Dough” recipe. This stuff will last in the fridge in an air-tight container for about a week or so, depending on how much it gets used. I know you can make longer-lasting stuff, but for that you need cream of tartar, and that is a very special-order item here in France.

Pâte à sel

*by cup I mean a cup, mug, or glass – it’s the ratio of quantities here that matters.

1 cup of salt

1 cup warm water

2 cups flour

Directions : mix. Then play.

Seriously, just mix it up, adding either more flour or more water until it feels right. You can obviously add food coloring to make things more spiffy. I considered adding a few drops of essential oil so it would smell perdy, but since Guppy still does way too much tasting of everything, I opted not to do that. But you could if your kidlet is less apt to still put everything in their mouths.

We’ve had so much fun we’re planning on making some baked salt dough holiday ornaments later today – how Osmond’s Christmas is that? I know! But heck, it was even my idea to do it. I embrace the holiday schmaltz in all its glory, because we’re making memories here people!

Dinosize Me! & I’m Free!

First the exciting news : I have no more cast!

So, auditions are on Saturday.

That was so lame. I’m sorry.

After 6 weeks of immobilisation and 5.5 weeks of casty-magic I can take a shower standing up! What a luxury. I’m walking (baby steps) sans crutches because I can, but that’s about all. Going up the stairs is easy…down? Well, going up the stairs is easy. Did I say that already? Now I need to start some P.T. and such, but of course we’re going out of town on this weekend, and most P.T.s are closed during the holiday week anyway. At least I won’t be spending the holidays on crutches! And if I’m walking with a bit of a wobble after too many cocktails, well, I’ll just blame it on my foot! Woot!

Now for the Dino PJ Pants :


These are so super cool and warm and soft that I am kicking myself (with the good foot) for not having bought enough fabric to make PJs for the three of us! That would have been the best family holiday picture ever! Need to write that in my diary for next December – matching PJs Family Photo. Excellent.

So many of you mentioned wanting to give kidlet pants a try! I love it! I promise to get you a step-by-step photo tut after the holidays so you can make a pair and feel as cool as all get out because you are a DIY Rockstar! It won’t be until after the New Year (bcause we’ll be out of town), but it’ll be soon after. Deal?

I also made this :

Which Guppy could use to stow her PJ pants, but for now, these guys are in there :


There are about 15 mini-dinos in there, so by the end of Christmas morning she should still have about 5 to play with, right?

Food : Then & Now


Since so many of you kids out there in blogland are foodies – vegan & omni alike – I thought you may enjoy this. (I think it’s freaking fascinating and can’t stop wasting spending time reading it) . Check out this Food Timeline that Kelly of Eat Make Read posted. I don’t want anyone getting their vegan organic cotton panties in a bunch over the accuracy of the site – for me it’s purely for entertainment purposes, or perhaps a good starting off point for further research. I just think it’s terribly interesting to connect the dots of our genetic histories and food choices. I also think it would be wonderfully interesting to run a timeline of the apparition of “affluenza-esque” diseases parallel to this one. The introduction (and government-produced propaganda for the marketing) of sugar really marks some interesting changes in the ways we lived and died. Now excuse me while I eat another sugar cookie. Ahem.

Oh, and I’m also thinkin’ that I should be eating whole rice and millet more often, since they are just some of the most ancient grains regularly consumed meaning our bods have the technology to utilise them proficiently. And they rock.

Just sayin’.

Now :

Speaking of some great grains…


Curry Couscous Stuffed Mushrooms served with Red Wine Carrots.

I know, another washed-out photo on a food blog! How original! But get over it, because this meal goes down in the history books of deliciousness. (For a vegan I am awfully cheesy, don’t you think?). These carrots disappeared so quickly that I think for the first time ever in the history of the world I was reprimanded for not having made enough veg for dinner. Yeah, that good. Oh, and they have red wine in them. We all know how I feel about red wine.

And the schrooms? Out of this beloved galaxy my friends. I wish I could tell you what kind I used, but I can’t. Not because it’s top secret, but because Monsieur F has been negotiating the shopping since “My Left Foot” so, I told him to get big mushrooms. He asked how big. I said, as big as the palm of my hand, por favor.


I think he did a pretty darn good job. Don’t you?

Anyway, I hate to be a tease, but these are two snazzy recipes which will be featured in 500 Vegan Recipes by our super sistahs Celine of Have Cake, Will Travel and Joni of Just The Food.

Oh, are you beginning to hyper-ventilate in a freaking panic because you still have a billion things to do before the 24th at midnight and are out of ideas? Take a deep breath. Joni has recently posted some great holiday recipes that would make delicious gifts, and so has Ricki of Diet, Dessert and Dogs – so you’ve no excuses! Inspiration is everywhere! (I think the chocolate will travel just fine to France, don’t hold back!).

W.I.P. Wednesday : Pants or When Your Model Has The Shiggles*

Happy W.I.P. Wednesday everyone! I was so excited to see so many of you W.I.P.ping last week with me! If we get enough of us W.I.P.ing I’ll make a little linky page to share all that creativity with the rest of the world. It’s so empowering to see all the craftiness and artistic energy everywhere – and in so many different ways.

I should actually be slaving away over a hot sewing machine to try and finish up some gifties, but here’s some of what I’ve been working on this week : pants! Had I known how obscenely simple sewing children’s pants was, I’d have done this ages ago! All you really need is a pair of pants that the kidlet wears to use as a template (and you can play with the size from there). Because they’re all little and stuff, you’re pretty much just cutting and sewing straight(ish) lines. There are several great tuts (just use our friend google), and if the sun ever returns to France I may even take some “play-by-play” photos to show you how terribly easy it is to make pants for the kidlets in your life.

Making the pants is easy.

Taking pictures of Guppy wearing the pants? Not so much…

They’re a bit of a boot cut, and just long enough to be cool (according to M. Fish).

chordetailsThe fabric is a light brown cord with embroidered flowers that I was unable to get a close-up of because Guppy had way too many things to do and couldn’t we take pictures later?

My next experiment was pajama pants with a blue fleece remnant I picked up when I was in the States last summer. I am now regretting not having tried to track more down because it’s just so warm and cozy and perfect for pj’s – and would have been great for a matching top, but I just don’t have enough left!


This is an action shot of “Indiana Jones” who needed a whip and so made do with my tape measure. Not sure how Indie would feel about the heart appliqué, but Guppy liked it.


I’m 3 1/2 & I won’t stay still for anyone,especially not the forces of evil!

These were a practice pair, actually. Santa is bringing her some dino pj’s…so Santa better get sewing!

Tacha’s W.I.P. is a great “to do” list she’s put up as a pdf to share. Go check it out!

*Shiggle is of course when you shake & wiggle. We do it all the time around here.

Traditions : Holiday Breakfast

I love holidays. In fact, I love them all. I’ll celebrate just about any holiday, religious (I’m agnostic) or secular, provided they involve the following : joy, laughter, family, friends, food & fun.

My childhood was idyllic in so many ways : loving, caring parents, a slew of noisy, energetic sibs and a host of family traditions, especially around the holidays.

The holidays meant spending time with my grandparents and my extended family, and our celebrations were built on sharing stories (like the time my 5 year-old mum could hear Santa putting presents under the tree at the same time as she could hear our grandfather snoring! So it obviously wasn’t him…), singing holiday songs (very musical family), playing games (is it wrong to teach a 5 year-old poker?) and feasting on all the goodies that come with the season.

Now before you go barfing on your vegan shoes over the Hallmark Hall of Fameness of my memories, let me reassure you, my family was (is) as crazy and dysfunctional as the next one, but my childhood eyes were all but blind to the ills plaguing members of my immediate family. Nothing was hidden from us, but we focused on other things, more important things, like taking evening walks through the snow to look at the Christmas lights decorating the houses, making decorations out of construction paper and popsicle sticks. The good stuff.

One of my fondest holiday memories is of Christmas Day breakfast. After we’d gotten up far to early to open gifts and loot stockings, it was time for a feast of breakfast foods, and to add to the exceptional nature of the meal, we’d even drink orange juice from wine glasses! Wow. One of my favourite things were the pancakes. We didn’t eat them often as kids, so they were a real treat.


These are the pancakes I’ll be making this year to honor the tradition, Joni’s “No-Fail Buttermilk Pancakes”. These were the fluffiest, lightest pancakes I’ve ever made – hands down. This test recipe is for the “500 Vegan Recipes” book she and Celine are publishing. We’ve all got a “favourite” pancake recipe, right? Well, this one’s mine.

And here’s a little vegan cheese for the holidays. I’m a huge Bowie fan. I also love to listen to Bing belt out the holiday classics. I love this piece of nostalgia – that almost never happened – and the bittersweet memories that come with it.

Decisions, Decisions…

It would seem we are inundated with a host of decisions from dawn to dusk. While I embrace free will (or the illusion of it? hummm…), there are moments when it’s just not possible, nor desirable, really, to have to chose between the lady or the tiger.

If you know what I mean.

Our conundrum? Cookies or brownies.

I know. Earth-shattering stuff.

Luckily, I have a friend. Her name is Celine. She’s working on a cookbook.


Thanks to Celine, we were liberated from the bondage inseparable from freedom.

The only real decision to be made, was how many to eat.

Monsieur Fish helped make this decision for me by eating nearly all of them.

Problem solved.

Stay tuned for some breakfast love tomorrow…

W.I.P. Wednesdays – Hang (and Make) Your Stockings With Care…it’s easier than you think!

Wishing you could add a little “handmade” to your holidays, but feel like you don’t have the time, energy or skillz? Think again! The groovy peeps at Meet Me At Mikes have organized a little “Holiday Stitchalong” for everyone : beginning stitchers to “I sew in my sleep” types. Pip and Cam have provided everything you need in lovely, brief and clear step-by-step tuts – all you need is some fabric (Pip tells you what you need), some floss (again, explained) and 5 minutes a day! There is even a free down-loadable template if you need one and a free embroidery design.


To begin, look at their left sidebar, or just start with Stitch A Christmas Stocking With Mike’s Episode 1. The fun continues with great mini-tuts such as “How To Trace An Embroidery Pattern” and “What’s All The Floss About?”. You can do this! As I’ve mentioned before, until September, I’d never tried (or thought about) embroidering anything at all, and I found this to be quick and easy (thanks split and backstitch).

I was feeling a little over-committed – or perhaps like I need to be committed, not sure – but I really wanted to “Stitchalong” because in my Capra-esque heart, I wanted to share in a project with other people this holiday season, and knowing that there would be crafters from all over the world making their stockings at the same time, well, it made me feel a little less lonely for my family and friends who are so far from me this holiday season. I mean, we’re literally “making merry” together, right? (There are needles involved, so not too merry…).

Here are my (terrible photos because the sun will never again shine and it’s been raining – even snowing today!- every day since Halloween!) stockings :



As you can see, I didn’t use Mike’s free design. I used Hillary’s – also free – which you can find here. She has so many lovely patterns up for grabs – stop by if you’ve never been. It’s lovely. I also lined them to make them look even more snazzy, but that’s totally unnecessary.

Initially I was just going to do a little stitching before falling asleep for 5 or 10 minutes, and keep them as decorations…but as I began stitching I instantly thought that these would be the perfect gifts and wanted to get them done ASAP to get them in the mail. I hate giving something impersonal, and these are like a little piece of my family, and will (hopefully) be used every holiday.

I love them so much I’m hoping to try to get myself organized to make a few more as gifts.

Happy Mail! Blogger Buddies are The Best!

I’ve been trying not to let “my left foot” get me down, but I admit, it’s not easy. While I am aware that there are people dealing with problems terribly more grave than a broken foot/torn ligaments, I’ve been laid up 4 weeks now (2 more to go with cast…) and my arse is getting sore from all this sitting! (It really is.)

I had to paint a gray picture of my little bobo in order to contrast it with the sunshine that arrived thanks to some unexpected “Happy Mail” I received last week from two beautiful blogging buddies : Ricki, of Diet, Dessert and Dogs and Libby, of The Allergic Kid. You two are the best, seriously!

The first happy letter was Ricki’s :


inside were the most adorable get well card and sweet stickers! Ricki said that since she couldn’t sign my cast in person (helas, we could have gone on a holiday chocolate binge tasting à la française!), she designated Guppy to be our official cast decorator.

This was such a sweet attention for Guppy, who is still rather stressed by our accident & seeing me laid-up (I have daily shots & a nurse has to come twice a week to draw blood…a lot of newness for a 3 year-old). Ricki’s surprise gift subverted the negativity surrounding my cast and turned it into a little girl’s artist canvas! Bravo, Ricki! You are fantastical!


I had to add a bit of tape to keep them down…

obamaSorry about the glare, I wanted to get the “vive obama” that one of my students wrote on my cast!

This was a difficult picture to take – good thing I’m flexible!


My cast is so spiffy now! It grows fancier every day…each evening we add a few stickers (and replace those that couldn’t make it). This was a beautiful idea and such a thoughtful surprise. In the words of Guppy when I told her my friend Ricki sent us the stickers, “We love Ricki, she’s cool! Right, Mumma?”. Right, Sweetpea.

Just two days later, yet another sweet surprise arrived from North America! This time, it was Libby’s package that made Guppy’s (and my) day!

Libby’s son is as crazy about dinos as Guppy is. I’ve not found any dino-shaped cookie/sandwich cutters here, and I couldn’t help gawking at hers a while back. Libby decided to right this horrible wrong by generously sending us this…


But wait! There’s more…


Libby also sent us some adorable Autumn cookie cutter shapes, and…


(sorry about the blurry photo – my hand model was frankly not as thrilled about the rice as the dino & leaves and wanted to get back to playing with them! Go figure.)

Wild Rice! Turns out Libby is a Minnesota native, and she graciously shared some “home grown” wild rice with me! I *love* wild rice, but it is a North American crop, and it is sometimes difficult to find, of questionable quality or pricey. I can’t wait to make something delicious with it!

Thank you Libby and Ricki for such wonderful “Happy Mail”!