Tea With Jam & Bread

I’ve really been into making my own bread of late. Delicious bread isn’t terribly difficult to find here in France, and I admit having a real weakness for the famed baguette, but I find that there is something so satisfying about making my own bread.

Beginning with just the most basic of ingredients : flour, salt, water and yeast, and ending with the most fragrant, golden of loaves…it’s simply magical. And how wonderful my apartment smells!

Nothing goes with fresh baked bread better than homemade jam…at least that was what I began to think about as I went on my bread baking bender. I started watching which fruits were looking in their prime at the marché and bought 2 kilos of apricots and 2 of strawberries to attempt my first jams!

My initial “practice” jam was actually an apple-cinnamon & orange marmalade (because I had nearly 2 kilos of apples at my house and they were considerably less expensive than the other fruits…good to practice on). I really had no clue what I was doing, but got it in my head that this was a project I just had to try, so off I went to purchase some jam jars. It was much easier than I expected, and it was a fun project to do with the Guppy because there were lots of steps she could help with, though I think she most enjoyed the tasting!

After doing a little math (very little) I was able to justify my little caprice because after adding in the organic fruit & sugar and the jars, it was considerably less expensive than buying my jam at the store – yeah!

Scones à l’eau de rose & aux amandes – Rose & Almond Scones – It’s Bread Baking Day N° 10

It is time once again for Bread Baking Day! This month’s theme, breakfast breads, was chosen by the lovely Melissa at Baking A Sweet Life – merci, Melissa! She’ll be putting the round-up of all our entries on June 5th, so go take a peek and be inspired!

I feel as though baking scones is a bit of a rite of passage in vegan culinaria. The vast majority of vegan blogs I love to visit have showcased at one time or another beautifully baked scones, with flavours ranging from peanut butter to pumpkin, even scony breakfast sandwiches – and admittedly they looked rather tempting. It also seems that no vegan cookbook would be complete without at least one (or multiple) scone recipes.

While the photos on the vegan blogosphere seemed enticing, I had scone issues. I’d only ever had scones on two occasions, and they left rather tasteless impressions on me. The first time was in a rather trendy tea room in London about 16 years ago. Everyone had hyped this amazing place with its brilliant scones and the clotted cream is bloody phenomenal! I sat uncomfortably, surrounded by 4 very hip and trendy and (seeming to 17-year-old me) sophisticated 25-year-old Londoners. I wanted to be cool, suave, and as cosmopolitan as they were, and when I bit into what I thought was a mixture of sawdust and cardboard I forced a smile and raising my eyebrows I declared,”It’s like nothing I’ve ever had before!”, which was true. I managed to avoid the clotted cream (because it sounded like something that should be thrown out because it had gone bad), and got about half of the thing they called “scone” into my handbag to be discreetly thrown out later without anyone noticing.

Scone session numéro dos was about 5 years later, with a much older and wiser Shellyfish (irony) surrounded by terribly cool people on a fashionably hip terrace at an over-priced trendy café in the desert Southwest in the U.S. My fellow brunchers were, in my eyes, what I wanted to be when I grew up : young 30-somethings, so for me, grown ups – there was the witty newspaper editor, the bohemian graphic designer, the sullen musician, the dreamy poet, and me, the dancer/student who dabbled a bit in freelance journalism and poetry, but who felt like an insignificant speck of wanna-be talent next to my friends. I came back from the washroom to find scones & coffee on our table, and sullen musician smiled with shocks of hair falling in his eyes and said, “you lived in Europe right, so I thought you would like these. I think they’re European or something.” Trying not to swoon because sullen musician knew something important about me, I forced down what felt like a hockey puck made of baking powder, but smiled through the entire ordeal.

I’m the young 30-something now, and have thankfully re-adjusted my focus a bit (and my friendship criteria). I wanted to move on in the scone department, and thought this BBD was the kick in the pants I needed to make the scones. Hundreds of snappy vegans couldn’t be wrong after all!

I based the following on the Orange Glazed Scone recipe in VWAV, because I am all about eau de rose lately (new and unusual). I wanted to use pistachios rather than almonds, but Mr. Fish depleted our stocks while watching a “Zombie sharks attack the vampire monkeys of New York” type movie the other night. The almonds were great, though. I’m also happy to say that the scones were, too. They were light and flaky and delicate as the rose itself!

  • 350g plain flour
  • 50g ground almonds (almond meal)
  • 115ml plain soy milk
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinagar
  • 50g sugar
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • pinch or two salt
  • 5 tablespoons veg. oil
  • 3 tablespoons rosewater
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract

Heat oven to about 200c/400f. Add the vinagar to the milk and set aside. Sift together the flour, meal, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Add the vinagar mixture and the rosewater & almond extract and stir until just mixed. I needed to add a little flour here because things were still rather wet. Dump out the dough and divide in two, knead a little and form into a bit of a disc and cut into pie-like wedges. Place on baking sheet and in the oven it goes for about 15 minutes or until slightly browned.

For the glaze add about 120g icing sugar, 2 tablespoons of melted non-hydrogenated margerine and 3 tablespoons eau de rose in a bowl and stir until well combined. You can get festive and add some food coloring if you wish (I did). Drizzle over scones and sprinkle with slivered almonds.

I’d also like to thank Ms. Zorra, the founder of this great event. Helping me to try new things, one bread at a time!

Bread Baking Day! Banana Oat Bread, Yum!

The lovely Astrid of Pulchen’s Food Blog is this month’s hostess for Bread Baking Day number 9. She proposed the fabulous theme of oat breads for the month of April, and I was thrilled because I am a newbie bread baker, and only have one oat bread under my belt (and it wasn’t terribly successful…Mr. Fish referred to it as “tasting like bread for old people”. Thanks mon amour.) The round-up is still a few days away, so if you just can’t wait, go visit Susan over at Wild Yeast. She graciously hosted our event last month, and here is the round-up.

I had images of golden, steaming loaves of oaty-goodness coming out of the oven, and was scouting around for a hearty loaf to use for delicious sandwiches. Finding a few recipes that interested me, I just didn’t come across the recipe (that being said, I can’t wait for this months BBD round-up to see what delights the others baked up!).

I woke up early one weekend morn to make some banana bread for the Guppy and Mr. Fish for a sweet breakfast treat, and then it hit me: Banana Oat Bread! (Luckily Banana Oat Bread is rather soft and moist, so it didn’t hurt.)

This seemed like a brilliant breakfast bread filled with the sweet goodness of oats and bananas, and I looked through my (very small collection) of cookbooks and came up empty. Recipes for regular banana bread, yep. I also had the “old people” oat bread recipe from my previous attempt at oat bread domination. After searching the web for a good Vegan recipe, I realized that I’d just have to create my own! (mostly because I didn’t have a huge amount of time to devote to my quest of searching the net, I’m sure there are some good ‘ens out there…) This bread was very moist and delicious, it reminded me of a sort of pudding-bread. It had a dense crumb, intense banana flavour, and was even better the next morning! You could easily add chocolate chips or walnuts to make things even more fabulous…

Shellyfish’s Vegan Banana Oat Bread

  • 110g ap flour
  • 110g whole wheat flour
  • 90g rolled oats
  • 70g sugar
  • 70g xylitol
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 3 tablespoons ground flax seeds
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 2 medium very ripe & well-mashed bananas
  • 60ml vegetable oil or melted non-hydrogenated vegan buttery spread
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (yeah, it’s a lot, you could use less- we’re big on vanilla, folks).
  • Non-dairy milk as needed
  • chopped walnuts or chocolate chips, optional

Pre-heat your oven to 350f/170c and get your pan ready!

Mix* the flax seeds and water in a small bowl and set aside. Sift together all the dry ingredients except the oats in a large bowl. Mix the banana-mash, oil, and vanilla in a small bowl, then add to the flax mixture. Blend well*, then add the dry ingredients in two or three small batches, and stir until just blended. Then fold in the oats and optional walnuts or chocolate chips.

Bake until your knife comes out clean (or smeary if you use the chocolate chips of course). For me this was about 45 minutes

*By mix, stir, etc, I mean with your big ‘ole trusty wooden spoon, kids.

Attack of the Killer-Tasting Veggie Burgers & Dangerously-Delicious Buns!

Have you ever noticed the sometimes bizarre feeling of ‘oneness’ out there in our little universe? For example, you look for a VW Bug as you cruise through town, and then you notice them all over.

There suddenly seems to be many more Bugs than you had imagined.

Huh… (imagine Twilight Zone theme music here) if they were to organize, I mean, communicate amongst themselves and, I don’t know, find a strong leader they could car-rally behind, well, yikes! they could take over the roads, the planet even! Dum-dah-dum-dum…

I began having this eerie feeling about a week ago. I felt a hankerin’ for a veggie/soy burger, with mustard and pickles and onions and homemade ketchup- the works! We have grain/soy/veg-type patties that can be purchased here in my little French village, but they sure aren’t cheap, and let’s face it, pre-packaged vegan foods (like all prepared foods) are often health food’s version of junk food with lots of things rather difficult to pronounce on the ingredient list. Homemade is better, but I sheepishly admit to you that while I have tempted many a recipe, I had never made Meatless-Macs myself.

Until now…


Since I was in the mood for some veggie burger goodness, I was probably more aware of all the veggie burgerness out there, but still, it seems to be everywhere lately. I went to visit One Frugal Foodie for the first time, and she not only has a fab blog, but also has a mouth-watering picture and recipe to propose. While zipping around Susan V’s excellent choice of veggie burger recipes at Fat Free Vegan I oogled her Veggie-Oat Burger (among other choices!), even this week’s Meatout Mondays recipe is entited “Nuts about Burgers”! (If your’re not familiar with the Meatout campaign, a branch of FARM- the Farm Animal Reform Movement, you should check out all the good stuff they do, and sign up for their weekly newsletter Meatout Monday’s). Giving in to the obvious galactic command, I realized that “Resistance is Futile” and began flipping through my cook books to see what I could chose from. Difficult to decide, but in the end the winners were the “Soyburgers” from the perennial classic The New Farm Vegetarian Cookbook which is just so killer-great (both the book and the burgers).

contemplatingthebeans1.jpg Sorting & admiring the beans. sortingsoybeans1.jpg

The New Farm recipe won out because it seemed the fastest and easiest among my cook book recipe contenders. Soybeans, oat-flakes, spices, onion, optional pepper (we chose red), etc. Nothing too crazy, but oh-so good. I amped up the spices adding cumin and lots of garlic powder, and also added a little wheat germ to the mix and rolled the pre-patties in germ to make them easier to handle. The soy mixture was delicious even before being fried up- tasted like a bean dip- and the Guppy & I enjoyed dipping apple slices in the little bit that was left in the mixing bowl.


We couldn’t put such delicious burgers on just anything, we needed the most delicious buns ever, and boy did we find the recipe for the job! Once again, The New Farm in hand, the Guppy and I whipped up some “Soft Sandwhich Buns” that were, honestly, the best roll-biscuit-bun thing I’ve ever baked up. A bit of minimal waiting (a total of 40 minutes from beginning to end before putting them in the oven for a mere 20 minutes) these buns were delightful.


The Guppy, kneader extraordinaire!

Much to my dismay the Guppy poured in some extra sugar as we were mixing the ingredients- a couple of teaspoons maybe- but it turned out to be just enough so that when former fast-food junkie Mr. Fish tasted one he gave me what was possibly the kindest of comments he could have conjured up, “This is better than Macdo!”. Merci, mon amour.