Bookmaking & Birthday Gifts (and an ugly yet delicious cupcake)

I’ve been wanting to blog about my newest favourite creative obsession outlet, but thought it would be better to wait until I had a little more to show you. I wanted to explain the why’s and how’s, give you the soul behind the groove…

But I just can’t wait because it’s so fun!

embroidered-notebook

I am in love with making these notebooks! Don’t you love the unfinished, just raveld enough edges? I think they look so natural. Sometimes I wonder if it’s normal to enjoy sewing into paper so much, because it’s the bee’s knees. I promise a more in-depth post soon, but you know when you’re into something and you just have to share it? This little cupper is actually on its way to a very sweet Birthday Girl. It doesn’t have far to go, but I don’t think it’s going to make it in time. Sigh.

These notebooks have become my birthday gift idea par excellence, and I’m working on a few others right now. I’ve done a pretty good job honoring my Handmade Pledge, and this is a great way for me to send something from the heart and hands. I’ve been using Moleskine (over-priced) and faux-Moleskine (far more reasonable but difficult to find) notebooks, but I’m going to be making my own soon (that’ll be part of the part 2 of this post!).

Rather than typing this post, I should be embroidering this :

fish

It’s going to be for a notebook for my nephew’s birthday. These groovy little carp are from this book :

doodle-stitching

I bought it last summer when visiting the U.S. I think it’s a great book for embroidery beginners (like me!) because it gives a good explanation of some basic techniques and has some fun project ideas, and though not all of them are really my cup of tea, I’ve enjoyed flipping through the pages for inspiration. I’m excited to use a design from this book for the first time.

I’ll be posting a proper bookmaking W.I.P. soon, promis, juré!

Did you happen to see the whiteout cakes that were taking over the Internet last week? If not you can visit Honey B or Natalia to see how beeeutiful they looked. They got me dreaming of deep, dark chocolate and frosting and since Guppy & I are on vacation, we decided to make some cupcake love…

whiteout-cupcake

Clearly not as fancy as it could have been, but very fun to make with Guppy, and even more fun to eat! We just used the chocolate cupcake recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World, but I doubled the cocoa (because I’m punk rock like that) and we made a variation on the fluffy buttercream recipe. Betcha want one, too!

No Raw Thursday, No Iron Cupcake and No to Palin!

Don’t forget to leave a comment here to be entered

into my little drawing for a felty-love pouch!

Visiting in-laws means no Raw Thursday for the Shellyfish…proving true to form in my normal “I have to do everything really well so my in-laws love me” way, I’ve been very busy cooking & baking up a storm, and it just wouldn’t do for me to be eating a separate, raw meal at the same table… I’m working on showing how “normal” vegan cuisine really is, and while I don’t think raw cuisine is “weird” (ok, sometimes it IS), I do think it would appear a bit strange for me to be eating my Raw Tacos while they dine on the lasagna that is in the oven! JFTR (just for the record), my brother and sister-in-law are adorable, and they would love me even if I didn’t cook up a storm…it’s that perfectionist/over-achiever curse from being a ballet dancer all those years…not them! So, see you next Thursday for some raw goodness!

The Public Broadcasting System, or PBS, is the primary public and commercial-free channel in the United States (un peu comme ARTE ou France 5 mais sans les pubs). This channel provides many incredible educational programmes for children, excellent news coverage, and fabulous documentaries. There is a very un-scientific poll up on their web site asking people if they feel Ms. Palin is qualified…http://www.pbs.org/now/polls/poll-435.html you don’t have to be a U.S. citizen to realize that McCain’s feeble attempt at harvesting the female votes that would have perhaps gone to Hillary Clinton is a catastrope in the making…she may be a woman, and it’s always exciting to see more women in power, but she has a horrible environmental record, is not a pro-women’s rights voter, and has no experience with foreign policy AT ALL. Please click the link – it’ll take 20 seconds – and let your voice be heard! Oh, and check out the uber-talented Kindara and her fab Quilted Obama T-Shirt – because everything is political, our choices, our voices, and especially our art!

I have had too much on my baking pan this month, so I’m passing on the Iron Cupcake challenge for September (much to the chagrin of M. Fish). Please go check out some of these excellent entries from some of my favorite bloggers : The amazing Amanda braved post-Ike conditions to make her Basil-infused Chocolate Mousse Cupcakes, Diann has some adorable popcorn-decorated Peach Gazpacho Cupcakes, the Michigander (I love that word!) Maggie has some beautiful Basil-Citrus Cupcakes, and Sweet Potatoe has delicious Coconut Cupcakes with Mango-Basil filling and Coconut Frosting. Today is the posting deadline, so the hills will be alive with the sounds of cupcakes!

Mini-Cupcakes, Crafty Love & More!

Hola Everyone! First off, a change… Raw Tuesdays will now be…Raw Thursdays! So stay tuned tomorrow for that! My new schedule make a Thursday raw day a little easier, so there you go!

I picked up a mini-cupcake pan when I was in the U.S. and we’ve been enjoying the mini-cupcake love, let me tell you! They are the perfect size, because you feel much less guilty about eating two (or three) when they are tiny! Above are some Lemon Cupcakes with lemon royal icing and below, the Basic Chocolate Cupcake with Chocolate Ganache icing from VCTOTW.

Friday we had a bunch of friends over for the apéro or cocktails…but it was a well-fed apéro :

Homemade salsa & fresh-baked pita triangles

(I didn’t make the tortilla chips, hélas, but I’ll get that figured out eventually…)

Homemade roasted-garlic hummus

Diann posted about these Samosa Potatoes from VCON recently & I thought they would be a great finger-food – and they were! I doubled the batch, and good thing I did because they disappeared almost right away! I admit to not following the recipe and making my own curry paste… not pictured is the soy yogurt & fresh coriander sauce I made to dunk them in.

The other thing not pictured are the 45 spring rolls I made! Don’t ask me how I forgot to take a picture of them…they took me so long to prepare!

And isn’t this cute?

You already know I’m an Aranzi Aranzo fan, so no surprises here! I aquired their Cute Stuff book this summer, and this felt bag really caught me eye. I added a liner, because it just looks way better with one. I’m really playing with the basic design of this bag and am coming up with some really cute ideas, but need some time to get them together! I really love their style, and find their ideas so inspiring – a great jumping off point for me to make my own things!

Iron Cupcake World – Inaugural Challenge : Chili-Citrus Cupcakes con Orange Confit


This is the first-ever Iron Cupcake Earth challenge, and when I saw that our challenge ingredient was Chili, I was immediately transported from my provençial French home to the warm, lush city of Guadalajara, Mexico. (Ok, I don’t have some sort of monopoly on teleportation, I meant in my mind.) During my graduate work at the University of Arizona I promised myself I’d participate in their Summer in Guadalajara program where you get to hang out in one of the most beautiful and cosmopolitan cities in the gorgeous country of Mexico, take in the culture by living with a host family, and hablo & estudiar by taking Spanish classes. After a few years of living near the Mexican boarder and taking the odd Spanish class I was really excited to actually experience Mexico in an authentic way, rather than just heading with friends Puerto Peñasco and hanging out at the taco stand & lounging on the beach all weekend…

I lucked out and lived with a really lovely family for six weeks, soaking up all the culture & cuisine possible. My family had four daughters, ranging in ages from 10 to 24 and they were as diverse as could be and made my time with their family truly memorable. One of our favourite snacks when I was there was squirting fresh lime or orange juice onto watermelon hunks, then dusting with chili powder. It was heavenly. We would also do this with a very dense sort of a corn-flour lightly-sweetened chocolate cake which my Señora said was just a mistake she once made making a traditional cake but became a family favourite. I didn’t ask her for the recipe – don’t forget, up until about 2 years ago I didn’t even have a stove! I didn’t cook or bake, so I didn’t yet have that reflex. I hadn’t thought of those chili-spicy-sweet-tangy snacks in forever, and knew my mission was to embody the spirit of that délice in my cupcake.

I can’t get masa flour here in France, and it is a very special day when I can find real cornmeal, so I was a little stumped on how to recreate the texture of my host-Señora’s chocolate cakes, but looked up and saw a jar of almond meal on my shelves and had a moment of union with the universe! I started jotting down the draft for the cupcake recipe, but how to infuse it with the sweet tang of the citrus? Well, let’s get zesty! With my trusty zester in hand I got giggy with some limes & oranges, but a piece of the equation was missing… des orangettes! Or candied oranges or oranges confits! However you say it, it’s what I had in my imagination. I’d never even thought of trying to make something like that, but I did have a big, beautiful bowl of oranges on my kitchen table…

The Iron Cupcake Challenge really became a true challenge for me. I have but rarely created a pastry recipe, generally relying on my favourites from my cookbooks. I felt like some sort of vegan pastry explorer and it was thrilling. I also really got my kicks making the orangettes – if someone a few years ago told me I’d be hootin’ it up on a Friday night making candied oranges I’d have said “balderdash!”, but there you go. It was surprisingly gratifying seeing how well they turned out, and how easy they were to make. I was as giddy as a teenager who sees her high school crush (this could have been from the Saint Emilion I was sipping though…). I am thrilled to say in all sincerity that these cupcakes were (cause they are so gone) amazing, some of the best I’ve ever, ever made. I did end up making two batches to try to get the right amount of chili pepper taste, but both batches were delicious – the first one only had the slightest hint of heat. It was the texture that really had me bluffed – the almond meal gave these cakes this wonderful mouth-feel that allowed for a very light and airy crumb, but a more toothsome bite. The frosting was also just perfect (if you love chocolate…). They have a very complex flavour, but not a “bite”. My 3-year-old loved them and wasn’t overwhelmed by the spice at all.

Following are the recipes you need to recreate this deliciousness. After that is some voting info if you’d like to vote me into the upper-class of Iron Cupcake Challengeness & help me maybe win a prize. The prizes are pretty sweet : the talented CAKESPY is contributing, as is JESSIE STEELE APRONS, CUPCAKE COURIER, and TASTE OF HOME. I really like prizes, just sayin’…

Chili-Citrus Cupcakes con Orange Confit

1 batch Candied Oranges for garnish. The recipe I used is here. I blanched the orange zest three times. Reserve 2 tbsp of your syrup for frosting.

1 batch Double-Chocolate Chili-Citrus Frosting (see below)

Cupcakes

1 C. AP flour

1/2 C. Almond Meal

1/2 C. Dutch Processed Coco

1/4 C. Brown Sugar

1/4 C. Xylitol

1/2 C. Sugar

2 teaspoons Baking Powder

1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda

2 teaspoons Cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon Cardamom

1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg

3/4 teaspoon Salt

Up to 1/2 teaspoon Cayenne (a 1/4 teaspoon will still give you a little a good dose of chili spirit)

1 tablespoon Lime Zest

1 tablespoon Orange Zest

3 teaspoons Ener-G Egg Replacer

1 Cup Soymilk

1/3 Cup plus 2 tablespoons Canola Oil

1 teaspoon Almond extract

1 teaspoon Vanilla extract

* Using an electric mixer, blend the egg replacer until well-blended and frothy, about 2 minutes. Set aside.

* Sift all the dry ingredients EXCEPT the almond meal in a large mixing bowl. After sifted, stir in the almond meal.

*Add the remaining wet ingredients and the citrus zests to the egg replacer and mix well, then add the dry ingredients in two or three batches and mix until well blended.

*Fill cupcake liners about 2/3 full and bake for about 15 to 20 mins. at 350F. Watch carefully if you use the Xylitol because it can be sneaky and burn up on you.

Frosting

1/2 cup non-hydrogenated, non-dairy margarine, softened

3 cups powdered sugar

2/3 cups Dutch Processed cocoa powder

1 teaspoon Cayenne (opt.)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon orange extract

1 teaspoon lime zest

2 tablespoons orange sugar syrup (from candied oranges)

1 or 2 tablespoons water or non-dairy milk, as needed to thin frosting

*Sift the powdered sugar, cocoa, and Cayenne together and set aside. Cream the butter until light and fluffy, then add the sugar mixture in two or three batches until fluffyness has been regained. Then add your extracts, syrup, and milk/water if necessary.

*Frost cupcakes, decorate with the orangettes, and lightly dust with cinnamon.

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.

La fête des ateliers à FLC : Fontainebleau Loisirs et Culture! (En exclu- recettes en français!) Open house at the FLC & The Shellyfish’s Cooking Demo! (Sans Photos)

NB: Suite à un accident technique où j’ai perdu toute mes photos (sauf une) des gourmandises de cette journée, je voulais renoncer et ne pas écrire le suivant. Mais, me voila, j’ai un peu (beaucoup) de retard…faisons semblant qu’on est toujours au mois de juin? :) Due to a technical error where I lost all the pictures of the goodies from this event (save one), I wanted to skip this entry, but here I am anyway. This post is a little (very) late…let’s just pretend it’s still June, ok?

Le samedi 14 juin c’était la fête à FLC : Fontainebleau Loisirs & Culture, puisque nous avons littéralement ouvert les portes au grand public ! En règle générale je me trouve dans ma salle de classe avec mes élèves au premier étage (avec la porte fermée pour ne pas gêner les autres- on s’amuse bien en cours et ça s’entend !). En tant qu’animatrice des cours d’anglais*, j’essaie de préparer des cours aussi ludiques et intéressants que possible, avec des supports aussi variés que possible : peut-être un article sur la politique aux Etats-Unis, une nouvelle parlant des difficultés de la vie du couple (et même une chanson qui propose une autre solution assez extrême !), un texte bien utile qui nous explique comment prendre soin de ceux qu’on aime, ou bien l’analyse des films qui mettent en valeur des “personnes” et des “personnages” clefs de la culture anglophone.

Saturday June 14th things were rather festive at FLC, or Fontainebleau Loisirs & Culture, because it was our end of the year open house! Generally I’m up in my classroom with my students on the second floor (with of course the door closed as to not disrupt the other classes- we tend to have fun and laughter carries!). As the English language teacher*, I try to make my classes both interesting and fun, using as many different mediums and subjects as I can, incorporating varying facets of language and Anglophone culture : maybe an article about politics in the United States, or perhaps a short story about the “difficulties” of married life (and even a song with a rather unique solution to said difficulties!), a handy little text which explains how to “take care” of those we love, as well as watching and discussing films which highlight key people and characters of Anglophone culture.

FLC propose des tas de cours & ateliers : langue étrangère, art plastique, musique, cuisine – et encore! – et J’étais ravie lorsqu’on m’a proposé d’animer un atelier cuisine “sucré” spéciale ayant pour thème la « Cuisine nord américaine » lors de notre fête des ateliers ! Et je n’ai pas hésité une seconde lorsqu’il fallut choisir les recettes : des cupcakes au chocolat de Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World et des cookies aux flocons d’avoine et à la purée de cacahouète de Vegan With A Vengeance .

FLC offers a so many different classes & workshops : foreign langues, art, music, cooking – and more! – and I was thrilled when asked to lead a special “sweets” cooking workshop featuring “North American Cuisine” during our Open House! And I knew exactly what I wanted to make : the “Basic Chocolate Cupcakes” from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World and the “Gigantoid Peanutbutter Cookies” from Vegan With A Vengeance.

Tout d’abord il fallait traduire les recettes et aussi faire les conversions entre le système Impériale et le système métrique (tellement plus facile !). J’ai donc préparé des cookies et des cupcakes à proposer aux visiteurs lors de la partie « portes ouvertes cours d’anglais » avant notre atelier cuisine, en faisant les conversions à chaque étape.

First I had to translate and convert the recipes from the Imperial system over to metric (which is so much easier, seriously people, it’s crazy!). I opted to make some test batches (translating and converting as I went using my kitchen scale) to serve to the passers by during the first part of the Open House where I greeted visitors in my classroom.

Je regrette sincèrement, mais je n’ai pas de photo de notre séance « cuisine et langue » (puisqu’on l’a fait en « franglais » !), j’étais tellement prise par ce que je faisais ! Je me suis beaucoup amusée, et les participants aussi (je pense), et nous nous sommes bien régalés aussi bien sûr ! Et le meilleur était de montrer à tout le monde combien les pâtisseries « sans cruauté » sont bonnes et faciles à préparer ! Beaucoup de monde passa, intrigués par les arômes venant de la cuisine, et il y avait plus d’une personne dubitative lorsque quelqu’un chuchotait « C’est végétalien ! Il n’y a pas d’œufs ! Tu te rends compte ! », mais je peux vous assurer qu’il ne restait plus rien à la fin de la séance, ils ont tout mangé ! Je n’avais pas pour mission explicite de faire de la propagande végétalienne, mais, si j’ai pu montrer aux non-croyants que c’est plus que possible de bien manger sans faire de mal aux animaux (et moins de mal à soi), tant mieux !

I’m so sorry that I don’t have any picutres of our “language and cuisine” session (because we did it in “fringlish” sharing random English vocabulary for baking & the kitchen- fun!) but I was so into what I was doing, it didn’t even occur to me to ask someone to be my photographer! I had so much fun, as did the participants (I hope!), and we also loved devouring sampling the goodies! But for me, the most rewarding part was showing everyone that “cruelty free” baked goodies were so yummy and so easy to prepare! There were many folks who just passed through the kitchen, curious as to the enticing aromas coming from the oven, and there was more than one eyebrow raised and doubtful look when someone whispered “It’s vegan! There are no eggs! Can you believe it?”, but there was nothing left at the end! They ate everything! I didn’t have a hidden agenda of Vegangelical propagandising, but if I was able to show a few non-believers that it’s more than possible to eat well without harming animals (and harming yourself a little less), well rock on!

Et voici les recettes, avec la permission de Ms. Isa et de Ms. Terry, les supers nanas de la cuisine végétalienne ! If you’re looking for the original versions of these recipes you can try here for the cupcakes, but I’m not sure the cookies have leaked to the blogosphere…though I’m sure they’re out there.

Cup Cakes au Chocolat

Ingrédients :

20cl lait de soja
5ml vinaigre de cidre
200g sucre en poudre
7cl huile végétale
10ml essence de vanille
180g farine
65g cacao en poudre
3.5ml (3/4 teaspoon) de bicarbonate de soude
2.5ml (1/2 teaspoon) de poudre levante
pincée de sel

1. Mettre le soja et le vinaigre dans un grand bol et mettre de côté.
2. Préchauffer le four à 175°. Mettre les feuilles de papier dans le moule.
3. Ajouter le sucre, l’huile, et la vanille au soja et mélanger à l’aide du mixer jusqu’à ce que ça mousse.
4. Passer au tamis (ou juste fouetter avec une fourchette) la farine, le cacao en poudre, la poudre levante et le sel dans un autre bol.
5. Ajouter en deux fois le mélange de farine aux ingrédients liquides tout en mixant, jusqu’à obtenir une pâte lisse & homogène.
6. Repartir la pâte dans les moules (les remplir au 3/4) et enfourner pour 10-15 minutes.

Peanut Butter-Oatmeal Cookies

Ingrédients :
225g farine
175g flocons d’avoine
10ml (2 teaspoons) poudre levante
pincée de sel
175ml huile végétale
175g beurre de cacahouètes
225g sucre roux
200g sucre en poudre
125ml lait de soja
10ml (2 teaspoons) essence de vanille

1. Préchauffer le four à 180°. Sortir 2 plaques de cuisson.

2. Mélanger la farine, les flocons d’avoine, la poudre levante et le sel dans un grand bol. Dans un autre bol, mixer l’huile, le beurre, les sucres, le lait et la vanille.
3. Ajouter le mélange de farine aux ingrédients liquides et mixer. La pâte sera très humide et collante, c’est normal ! Répartir des cuillerées de pâte (aprox. La taille d’un œuf) sur la plaque de cuisson (aprox. Une douzaine). Enfourner pour 10-12 minutes, puis laisser refroidir quelques minutes, puis les déposer sur une grille.

* A partir de la rentrée il y aura des cours pour enfants le mercredi matin! Vous pouvez m’écrire pour plus d’info!

Birthday! Anniversary! Meme!

It’s been a rather zippy few days here at the Fish residence! (That being said, it’s always speedy, just sometimes more than others…). Let’s see… to begin : Happy Birthday Mr. Fish!

Mr. Fish is one of those kids who really, I mean really has a difficult time with birthdays. I get rather excited because it means cake and presents and yummy food and people having to be extra nice to me :). He gets morose, melancholy and even down right cranky as the days tick away and his birthday approaches. I do understand. I had a much more difficult time watching the birthdays from 25 to 29 pass me by, but something sort of “clicked” when I hit 29, and I realized that dreading birthdays, or anything, really, just sort of spoiled the moments leading up to and after, but didn’t change anything, because, well, change is inevitable I guess.

To ease his birthday bitterness, I asked him what birthday treat he wanted, and he asked for the too-good-to -be-true Lemon Bars from VCon. This is the fourth time I’ve made them, and I still have no food p*rn to show you, because we just go through these things so fast it’s crazy & never have a chance to snap a pic. However, to satisfy your desire for eye-candy, here is a shot of the cupcakes I made for our 4th Wedding Anniversary, which is, or was, the day before Mr. Fish’s birthday :

This was the first time I’d made the marble cupcakes from VCTOTW, and they were really, really delicious. They were also very fun to make with the Guppy because they get a little messy at the end, and that means a lot of finger licking (we also observe the 5-second rule in our house. We’re dirty birdies.)

Next is a little Meme-love. Yoga Mum tagged anyone who’d had green tea a few mornings back. I ‘ve been swapping my morning espress for green tea in solidarity with Ricky who has been doing a cleanse. Maybe I’ll be able to knock it for good? Anyway…

Here’s the low down:

1. Post the rules of the game at the beginning.
2. Each player answers the questions about themselves.
3. At the end of the post, the player then tags five people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read the player’s blog.
4. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.

What were you doing five years ago?

I’d just finished my Masters Degree in French Literature, was teaching French for a US University Summer Programme in Paris, and was preparing to begin working as an English language assistant for two years at a University in Paris. I was also about to meet the future Mr. Fish.

What are five things on your to-do list for today?

1) Try to find some time to read “Millénium, Tomb 1: Les hommes qui n’aimaient pas les femmes” by Stieg Larsson. Great read.
2) The dishes (that’s just perpetual…)
3) Yoga & lifting w/free weights
4) Work a little on this bag which I am making as a messenger bag, not a diaper bag! (Thought I should clarify).
5) Write lesson plans for Wednesday’s & Thursday’s classes (last day of classes is the 23rd! Yippie!)

What are five snacks you enjoy?

1) Fresh fruit (not original, but true!)
2) Smoothies without too many seedy fruits
3) rice cakes with almond butter & molasses (an idea given me by our coolicious Ricky)
4) fresh baked cookies hot from the cooling rack
5) a homemade raw bar from the freezer all coldish, burrrr!

What are five things you would do if you were a billionaire?

Okay, this says billionaire so I could come up will way more than 5, but here’s a few…

1) Pay off my student loans & my sib’s student loans/debt & my parent’s debts
2) Buy a home with extra bedrooms & bathrooms so my family could visit and stay as long as they liked (oh, the tickets would be my treat, too!)
3) Put money aside for the Guppy & my nieces’ & nephew’s education & set up a scholarship fund for young women at my high school in the U.S.
4) Invest enough that I could live off my fundage and devote my time to creating a non-profit organization for women- not sure how I’d organize it, but it would provide grants for education, training opportunities, quality, affordable child-care, small-business loans, as well as creative and moral support for women with goals, but who need help with the logistics of their path.
5) Create a quality health-care programme for all the school-aged children in the two U.S. cities I lived in (hey, I’m a billionaire…I have enough!)

What are five of your bad habits?

1) I’m too sensitive.
2) I take everything seriously.
3) I’m terribly hard on myself.
4) I stress about things I cannot change.
5) I try to do too much at the same time.

What are five places where you have lived?

In the U.S., two:

1) Michigan
2) Arizona

In France,

3) Paris
4) Versailles
5) near Tours

What are five jobs you’ve had?

1) Paper girl (when I was 9. Did I mention I lived on the Canadian boarder? Sub-zero temps, snow…oh, it was up hill, too! lol! )
2) Entertainment Listings Editor for an artsy weekly
3) Dance teacher
4) Waitress
5) Research assistant

Five people I tag:

Because I share her disdain for tagging, I am shamelessly stealing this idea from Yoga Mum over at Yoga Gumbo I tag you if:

1) You had a smoothie today.
2) You’ve never made your own seitan.
3) You have more than one tattoo.
4) You wish you were taller.
5) You’d like to take a nap.

Please let me know if you do this! I know some of you kids dread these puppies, but I like learning more about you! :)

Welcome Her With Cupcakes!

jellydougnut.jpgSince my mom’s arrival on Tuesday I have been just zipping around, basking in mumma-land. As is often the case when we live on the other side of the world from our family, well, I don’t get to see my fam very much. At all. So when we have visitors from North America, it’s a really, really big deal.
It’s especially the Guppy who is on cloud nine having her Pamma here to cuddle and play with.

Pamma is omni, but she is more than willing to be a gracious guest and has been loving our vegan cuisinefests. I want to say up front that while my folks and I have extremely different opinions on many things (let’s just say I live on the left, they live on the right), but they have always been very supportive of my decision to live cruelty-free, and have been since I announced my vegetarianism when I was 16 years-old. Encouragement coming from self-described squares (ok, maybe a little), well, I would just like to say “you guys rock, mumma & dad” (I wish my dad could be here, but this is a Pamma-only visit).

I have so many yummy things to post on, but for now I’ll leave you with the Jelly Doughnut Cupcakes from Vcon, which I made to welcome Pamma, and which were, of course, delish!

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INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY!!

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Here is some beautiful mimosa that lined part of the path where I went for my (almost) daily run when in the southwest of France this past week. You could smell it for meters around, even in the freezing cold and wet, it looked and smelled amazing! It’s common to give mimosa sprigs to women (we gave some to the Guppy’s mamie for la fête des grand-mères last year). Strong and beautiful from roots to tips, just like we women!

A bit back I was cruising around and saw this inventive culinary way to celebrate International Women’s Day and I just had to participate. I knew I would be cutting it close as we’d probably be coming back from our week in the Southwest, but I decided this was something I wanted to do! I have so many incredible, strong, beautiful women in my life- from the past, in the present, and I am sure that they’ll still be there in the future! I was very fortunate to spend the week with my brother-in-law’s family, and his wife L is a great example of one of the many hip fish I get to swim with. She took time to show me how to knit a cap (working on that), generously donated random pieces of fabric for me to play with, and was just generally a super-cool fish.

So here is my YELLOW contribution to the day…

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These are the Lemon Gem Cupcakes from Vegan With A Vengeance, topped with the Lemon Icing and the finishing touches of the vegan sprinkles were added by the Guppy, who is also a pretty cool little lady.

EDITED TO ADD: I’m really not cupcake obsessed. Really. I wanted to make lemon tarts, but these were just quicker & easier. Picking my battles, one cupcake at a time.

 

CATASTROPHA! When Good Cupcakes Go Bad… or Learning To Be “Present”

Sunday I am usually bustling about with end-of-weekend hurriedness, trying to get it all done *now*: a fun Sunday treat (like cookies, or cupcakes, or something with flour and sugar), a real, sit-down (at the table) dinner, wrapping up lesson plans, recuperating from my long run, etc. Well, this past Sunday was no exception, but I needed to get us all packed up for a few days near Toulouse in the South of France with Mr. Fish’s brother-in-law and his family. Mr. Fish was called off (conveniently?) to play sound engineer, so I had to pack the bags, organize the stuff (it seems like since the Guppy arrived we have all this…stuff). Oh, and I promised my work pals that I’d bring them a treat Monday morning before we hit the road (often my edible ‘thank you’ card, and my little vegan propaganda tool).

Have I learned nothing from my yoga practice? Being in the present, really doing what we are doing, not thinking about the billions of things that need to be done or that you’re not doing…it really is vital to a happy existence. And to happy cupcakes.

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I wanted to make Coconut Heaven cupcakes from Vegan With A Vengeance as a petit merci for someone who loves coconut. So far, sounds logical, right? The Guppy and I had nearly everything for our trip under control, so we began adding flour, sugar, etc. got the cupcakes in the oven and the Guppy in the tub. I rocked. It was all under control…

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And then these horrible looking things came out of the oven. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not horribly superficial, crater-riddled cupcakes are still cupcakes, and they can be made to look more beautiful with some icing or sprinkles or something, but these things were all greasy and heavy, and when I tried to take one out of the pan, well, it was like a wet sponge. Despite a nagging feeling urging me to just look away, I felt compelled to try one. It tasted like a sort of ruined coconut flan. Huh. I pondered this kitchen catastrophe and it dawned on me that I used the entire container of coconut milk. Why did I do this? The recipe only called for a little less than half! I think because I was thinking of a million other things, about everything except the coconut milk. Oh sadness…

Be in the now, people. Your cupcakes will thank you!