Please Stand By…

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Some of you may have noticed the disturbing post that was up yesterday (I’ve since taken it down, and with it your really kind comments). Not being the queen of technology, I accidently posted something that wasn’t meant to be posted all over the net – sillyfish.

The truth is there are some big things I’m having to deal with right now, but I know in a few months time things will probably look very differently. Please don’t think I’ve abandoned you – because I know you haven’t abandoned me! Your support and encouragement yesterday really touched me. I’ll be perhaps a little less active on the net, but I’ll still be following along from the sidelines.

Again, thanks for the love because it sincerely made me feel a little less alone in this big ‘ole galaxy of crazy randomness.

W.I.P. Wednesday : On Vacation…chez nous

I’ve been “working” on the most important Work In Progress in my life…

Résèrve Biologique, Forêt de Fontainebleau

Guppy and I have been spending most of our time playing in the forest…

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…and that is as it should be…

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I am taking notes on possible future projects and already thinking about what I’ll be making next. How about you?  Don’t forget to see what the other Wipsters are up to, and to check out our W.I.P. Wednesday Flickr Pool, too. We’ve got so many new members – welcome to all of you!

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Feeling down? Treat Yourself To Pancake-Love! Sweet Freedom Saturdays

Sometimes life can throw you some sneaky punches, making you feel a bit melancholy. No matter your worries, often you just need to step back and take stock of the simple pleasures that make life so delicious. Hanging out in your jammies, building forts with blankets and pillows, eating pancakes and alliteration.

Yes, alliteration.

Like these Fluffy Fruited Flapjacks.

Fluffy Fruited Pancakes

Ok, they’re actually Fluffy Fruited Pancakes, but I think Fluffy Fruited Flapjacks sounds much more Fun (get it, another “F”).

These really were amazingly fluffy – like crazy fluffy. But in a good way. Today we rocked them up with some banana goodness, but any fruit would make them smashingly good. I’m just sure of it. We also go to enjoy some real, authentic Canadian Maple Syrup hand delivered with love by our friend Kimianak. You really can taste the “special delivery” difference. Trust me.

I think my Sweet Freedom Saturday posts will grow more infrequent as I continue reveling in the summer sun and enjoy being outside and not being in the kitchen as much as possible, but I’m sure they’ll be a few SF posts between now and September!

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Have you made anything yummy from Sweet Freedom this week ? Stay tuned for future Saturday installments of “Sweet Freedom Saturdays”. We’ve also got a Sweet Freedom Flickr Group – come join us! Other Sweet Freedom Saturday deliciousness here in the Fishbowl : Cocao Nibbles, Mrs. K’s Date Cake, Raw Apricot Bars, Tomato Spice Cake, Carrot Snack Cake, Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins, Gingered Apple Muffins, Spiced Pumpkin Millet Pudding.

W.I.P. Wednesday : Something with hearts.

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Summer holidays, how I love thee! I fully admit to being MIA from the blogosphere, but it’s for such a good reason : Sunshine! After nearly 9 months of rain we’re finally drying out and enjoying a beautiful sun. In fact, there have only been a few rainy days since the beginning of summer holidays two weeks ago.

I have been keeping up with my favourite blogs, but please don’t be sadfaced if you’ve not been receiving comments as per my usual – I’m just trying my best to be a full-time mostly-on-vacation mum to one very energetic 4 year-old who would so enjoy having a back garden to play in! As some of you know, we live in a tiny flat in the city, so from the moment Guppy is fed and dressed we pretty much head out the door for the park or the forest or the castle grounds…taking advantage of some real quality time together since school is (mostly) out for both of us.

Enough blahblah!

You may remember I gave you a sneak peak at the gifts I was working on for Guppy’s teachers. Well, let’s just say that I wasn’t getting the embroidery done fast enough and I found myself the day before the last day of school with the gifts not completed. I then made an executive decision to change plans and just make two cute little pencil-case sized pouches and fill them with vegan chocolate. I asked Guppy how she felt about this and her only reply was, “Make something with hearts.”. Ok, fair enough.

Something with hearts

Because I don’t have any fabric with hearts on it I had to go with the appliqué method, which looked really cute I think. I just cut out two hearts per trousse – one larger in purple vegan felt, the other in lavender cotton.

Something with hearts

I hope they liked them. Or at least the chocolate in them!

Something with hearts, interior

Don’t you love the wonderful blurry hurry-up-take-the-picture-we’re-late-for-school picture quality? You know you do! It’s like a crazy-crafting action movie I tell you.

Having Guppy at home with me all day has really put a few speed-bumps in my crafting time, mostly because she just needs to get outside and play. I’m sure once the rain is back I’ll be crafting up a real storm again…

Are you crafting away, despite the beautiful sunshine and warm temps? 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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Something’s (Tofu) Fishy With The July Daring Cooks Challenge!

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This month’s challenge was chosen by Sketchy of Sketchy’s Kitchen. Sketchy has a real passion for molecular cuisine (MC), and July’s recipe was chosen to share this interest in MC with all of us! I think this was a wonderful initiative and a lovely introduction to MC – thank you, Sketchy!

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Unfortunately, I think to successfully complete this month’s challenge owning a dehydrator was de rigeur. The challenge, “Skate, traditional flavours powdered” by Grant Achatz, found in the Alinea cookbook, uses “flavour powders” made from dehydrated ingredients such as banana chips, parsley or red onion to accent and add dimension to poached fish, or fish substitute. While Sketchy did suggest alternate methods for drying – such as using the microwave or traditional oven – I found they just didn’t work for me. I did give these alternate methods a shot, but my attempts were met with frustration and failure.

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This, however, doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy this challenge, on the contrary! Thanks to some chatting on the forums, I was reminded of one of my favourite faux-fish recipes, the Tofu Fish Sticks from one of my favourite cookbooks, Vegan Lunchbox. If you haven’t a copy of Vegan Lunchbox, don’t fret! The recipe is available here at Schmooed Food, the author’s blog where she features recipes from her fabulous book. One of my favourites from her site is the recipe for Vegan Twinkies. I’ve only made it once, but oh-my, talk about a heavenly childhood flashback!

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So after a few failed attempts at dehydrating onion and parsley in my microwave (oh scaldy-stinkies), I just opted to honor the spirit of the challenge and go with what worked for me! I tried to make a powder out of some nori sheets, but I didn’t get a nice, fine, powder – it was more like hunks of ugly confetti. I did just add the nori to the Tofu-fish fingers breading, so there was no waste. I also used a mixture of sea vegetables rather than just the kelp flakes called for in the original recipe. I feel it adds even more variety. In the end, I just used some dried parsley flakes to decorate our plates, and that was just fine!

Breading Mix for Tofu Fish Fingers

We don’t eat alot of tofu – maybe 2 or 3 times a month – not because I’m afraid of the “fu” for any reason (because there is no reason to fear the fu, unless you have an allergy), but it’s a processed food, and as with all processed foods we tend to go lightly on them. Because I so rarely purchase tofu, I forget about some of our favourites, such as these tofu fingers. It’s been nearly a year since I last made these, which is too long if you ask me! If you’re ever in a pinch and need to make something quick, easy and healthy for kids (and adults, ahem), this is a great option.

I’d like to once again thank Sketchy of Sketchy’s Kitchen for hosting our challenge, and I enthusiastically recommend Vegan Lunchbox, weather or not you eat a boxed lunch! Lunchbox has many innovative, mostly healthy options that are adult and kid friendly, and it’s a sound addition to any cookbook library. 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.

Soaking Up The Summer Goodness…

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Hey Kids! I’m going to be spending the next few days enjoying the summer sun, playing treasure-hunting pirates in the forest with Guppy and just loving up my favourite season! I’ll be back next week with lots of great posts (like meeting “in person” and hanging out with friends from across the sea! Can’t wait to tell you about what is now known as “The Springroll Incident”).

See you on the 14th for the Daring Cooks Challenge! Bisous mes copinous!

Lovely (Vegan) Brioche For Everyone!

I wanted to make something special for Monsieur Fish’s birthday (erm, last month…I’m a little behind in the posting department), and I thought the brioche from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice sounded pretty special, indeed.

Mini-Poor Man's Brioche (Vegan)

Reinhart’s book presents three versions : Rich Man’s Brioche, Middle Class Brioche, and Poor Man’s Brioche – what’s with all these men, anyway? Are they making the brioche? Given the obscene amount of non-dairy butter needed for the first two versions, I opted for the leaner poor folks variety*.

Poor Man's Brioche (Vegan)

Some might find me a bit silly, making brioche here in the patisserie capital of the world (meaning, France), but the thing is, I haven’t enjoyed brioche in years because it’s so not vegan! There is also something magical about hand-crafting goodies for the ones you love. Seems more special.

Vegan Brioche

This recipe was, once again, a pleasant experience and was as easy to veganize as the other Apprentice recipes I’ve made. I just subbed non-dairy butter and Ener-G egg replacer. My biggest problem was with the shaping…I wasn’t really sure of myself and took a bit too much time, which meant that everything was rising all over the place on me! It was a rather hot and humid day I suppose…

Vegan Brioche

I regretted not taking my time in shaping, because they were a little lop-sided out of the oven. The mini-brioches looked like little ladies in tutus, which Guppy thought was fun.

Vegan Poor Man's Brioche

The birthday boy was terribly impressed, despite their goofy appearance, and thought they were delicious! The brioche was indeed light, buttery and flaky – perfect for a lazy Saturday morning birthday breakfast.

Poor Man's Brioche

These little babies have been submitted to Yeast Spotting! Susan’s delicious weekly round-up of all that is rising on the blogosphere.

*The poor or peasants (as a ridiculous generalisation as it is) tended to live much longer and die of natural causes than the rich who’s fat-clogged arteries choked the life from them, bit by bit. Not suffering the diseases of the affluent : hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, cancer, obesity, etc. the “poor” of the previous centuries, though often lacking in basic medical care, were in much better over-all health than many of their peers from the haute bourgeoisie, specifically those in urban centres where animals and their secretions often were featured at the dinner table. Just sayin’.

More Raw Delights (and a recipe!) for Sweet Freedom Saturday

This week’s recipe is a favourite of mine : Cocoa Nibbles! These raw bars rival any over-priced, mass-produced bars you can find in your local supermarket or health food store and are quick and easy to make.

Cocoa Nibbles

I admit to using carob powder in lieu of cocoa powder, just because. The recipe provides some great add-in ideas, keeping this recipe fresh and different depending on your mood (and what you have on hand). This time around I added cinnamon and ground Vanilla Rooibos Tea. Rooibos or Red Tea is just full of anti-oxidants, and I love the vanilla flavour it adds. I often add a teaspoon of rooibos to my smoothies or raw bars…that’s just the kind of girl I am.

I’m not the best bar-shaper, mostly because I don’t really care about their visual aesthetic. I just want them to be delicious. After I roll them out into a log-shape and chill, I cut them up, and set them on a piece of foil. You can use the foil to push them into a square or bar shape, and your fingers stay clean!

cocoanibs

You don’t have to individually wrap these, but I like to have them as on-the-go snacks. Don’t they look so “Lost In Space”esque?

Ready for the best part? You can make these, even if you don’t have Sweet Freedom yet! Visit Diet, Dessert and Dogs for the Cocoa Nibbles recipe!

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Have you made anything yummy from Sweet Freedom this week ? Stay tuned next Saturday for another installment of “Sweet Freedom Saturdays”. We’ve also got a brand new Sweet Freedom Flickr Group – come join us! Other Sweet Freedom Saturday deliciousness here in the Fishbowl : Mrs. K’s Date Cake, Raw Apricot Bars, Tomato Spice Cake, Carrot Snack Cake, Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins, Gingered Apple Muffins, Spiced Pumpkin Millet Pudding.

W.I.P. Wednesday : Grammar School Drop-outs & Haste Makes Waste. The story of my pie making apron…

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If you’re looking for the Sweet Freedom contest winners, please go here! Congratulations once again to the lucky ladies.

Pie Making Apron

I had a rather difficult time adjusting to school as a 5 year-old.

In fact, I actually quit school, at the tender age of 5. Twice.

The first time was because a mad brute of a boy who stole my bouquet of pussy willows. And injustice. These were the most beautiful, silvery-silky-soft pussy willows I’d ever seen, and my father lovingly soaked his feet as he trod through the freezing-snow-just-melted swamp to cut them down for me. I was bringing them to show and tell because we’d just learned a song about about pussy willows*, when this obviously uncivilized boy tore them from my hands and stomped them into a puddle of mud. Adding insult to injury was the fact that there were no sanctions, no punishment, nothing. Just a stern mutterance*of disapproval from Mrs. A. The nerve! I stomped off and was home before Mrs. A even knew I was gone. (Luckily, we lived just down the street from the school.)

The second time was because I was in protest of my teacher’s obvious academic ineptitude. I was insulted and incredulous as my teacher, Mrs. A, made us write our first names in all capital letters! All capitals! I was horrified that this sage-looking woman in her 50′s seemed to lack the basic knowledge of common English grammar, knowledge I possessed, somehow missing the subtle yet important nuances between the capital and lower-case differentiations. Moments after I walked in through the front door, eyes rolling and head shaking disapprovingly, Mrs. A called my mother, asking if I’d shown up. Hump!

Thus it should come as no surprise to you, gentle reader, that I had little respect for the often ridiculous activities we were to accomplish for Mrs. A. She had us use terribly fat and difficult to hold pencils, making it a chore to write, and because once we were done with our busy-work, we were allowed to play in the miniature log cabin in the corner of the classroom, well, I rushed through her little mundane activities as quickly as possible. Why bother putting any effort into it, really? I mean, she had no idea first names took a capital letter after all.

As you can imagine, Mrs. A did not appreciate my slapdash work-ethic, and often had me re-doing activities two, three and four times, until it was to her liking.

“Stop rushing, it’s too messy,” was her response when I’d hand her my work.

Things were growing more and more tense for Mrs. A and I, and my mamafish knew something had to be done. Mrs. A knew I was bright, precocious, and that I had no regard for her methods, even at 5 years-old. Poor Mamafish had to do what many parents find themselves forced to do : explain that the teacher is the teacher, that even though I was right about many things, Mrs. A was still the teacher, and that if I didn’t try to do things the way Mrs. A wanted them done, well, it was going to be a very, very long school year.

“Haste makes waste,” Mamafish told me as I was colouring at the kitchen table one afternoon.

I had to ask for a translation, and a quick one to boot, because I didn’t understand what “haste” meant, but I still had pictures to colour, and re-runs of Wonder Woman to watch, and a fort to build outside, and all of that before it got dark, so hurry up Mamafish and tell me what it means…

The following day at school, I sat very concentrated before my busywork, so much so that it took Mrs. A by surprise.

“You’re working rather hard on that,” she offered.

“Well, you know, haste makes waste.” I replied matter of factly, secretly hoping she also had to ask her mother what haste meant.

I’m here to tell you that I am still, quite often, in a hurry to get things done. And sometimes, after rushing through something to get to the next thing (geeze, I wish it was to watch Wonder Woman) I hear the voice of Mamafish saying gently, “Haste makes waste.”

There was indeed a huge amount of wasted time put into this apron. I wanted it done faster than possible, and found myself ripping so many seams for really stupid mistakes. I was too busy to follow a pattern, and this one is loosely based on another one I made using the suggestions from Bend The Rules Sewing. And even though, in the end, I vowed to take my time and if it didn’t get done in time for this month’s Tie One On, well then, it didn’t get done, I still fouled up a step and have an unsightly double stitch line along the waistband – though it can’t be seen from the front, because luckily it’s on the inside.

Haste makes waste, kids. Wise words to live by.

*mutterance: shellyism, the muttering of an utterance.

*Here is, for your musical enjoyment, the pussy willow song I learned oh-so-long ago:

I know a little pussy,

He’s very fuzzy and gray,

He lives down in the meadow,

Not very far away.

He’ll always be a pussy,

He’ll never be a cat,

For he’s a pussy willow,

Now what do you think of that?

Meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow…

Scat!

Have you managed to get any lingering W.I.P.s finished up? 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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We interrupt your regularly scheduled W.I.P. Wednesday…

…to bring you a very special announcement!

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Two very groovy ladies have won themselves a copy of Sweet Freedom :

CrazyVeganMom has won a hard copy, and MadCap Cupcake has won a PDF. Please send me a little email (fishbowlmusings at gmail dot com) to claim your prize.

Thanks so much to everyone who participated – I wish I could give you all a copy of this book, because I really do think it’s the bee’s knees. I’d also like to thank author (and friend!) Ricki Heller for generously donating the books for this giveaway!

Your regularly scheduled W.I.P. Post will be up before the day is done! Thank you.

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