Dinos, Hedgehogs & Monsters! (It’s ok. They’re herbivores.)

Dino breads

Stegosaurus, Triceratops and Hedgehogs galore!

By now you know that we are crazy about dinosaurs here at the Fish household. We just love reading about them, playing with them, drawing them and now, well, eating them!

Happy Hedgehog
These are some fun little cinnamon & spelt rolls that were as fun to make as they were to eat. The possibilities for shaping them are only limited by your imagination (and by the heat in your kitchen…these were rising so fast I was having a tough time shaping/decorating them fast enough. It occurred to me afterwards I could have retarded them in the fridge while shaping…but hey, I’m still learning here!).

Hedgehogs & Monsters

These creations were 100% inspired by a talented foodblogger named Moira, who blogs at Tertulia de Sabores and makes me so regret I don’t speak Portuguese. However, thanks to her delicious photos, nothing is lost in translation! This amazing woman’s blog and her phenomenal Flickr photostream are more than eye-candy, they are a full-course meal! I can’t urge you enough to visit her photostream, if you’re a bread-baker (or eater), you’ll just love it!

Smiling Hedgehogs

Cinnamon & Sugar Dino-Rolls

(Sorry my metric friends, this one is in Imperial)

2 cups non-dairy milk (I used soy)

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup & 1 tsp. sugar, divided (you can use 1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar, depending on how sweet you’d like your bread to be.

2 Tablespoons yeast

1/4 cup warm water

6 cups spelt flour

1 Tablespoon cinnamon

1 tsp. salt

Pumpkin seeds, raisins, sunflower seeds, etc. for decorating

Heat the non-dairy milk to scalding and pour it into a bowl with the oil and 1/4 cup sugar. Set aside to cool. Next proof your yeast by adding it, along with the teaspoon of sugar and 1/4 cup of warm water to a large bowl. I know you don’t have to do this, but I’ve wasted time and ingredients when my yeast turned out to be anything but active, so I do. Let it set about 10 minutes or until it’s all bubbly.

When the milk has cooled (as in you can dip your finger into it without screaming), add it to the yeast mixture (because if it’s too hot you’ll kill the yeast, and that’s not cool), and add 2 cups of the flour. Stir this briskly for a few minutes, then let it sponge for about 10 minutes. It should have puffed up a bit. Now add the remaining 4 cups of flour, the salt and the cinnamon, and stir until it begins to form a ball/becomes really difficult to stir. You may need to adjust flour/water here, and that’s ok!

Turn out onto a floured surface and knead about 10 minutes, until it’s tacky but not sticky. Divide your dough into 4 pieces, and then you can either simply shape them into rolls or have way more fun and make some animal shapes!

Now preheat your oven to 375°F and let your animals/rolls rise for about half an hour, then bake them for about 20 minutes. I found that some of the pumpkin seeds were pushed out as the dinos baked in the oven, so be sure and really get them in there – or be prepared to doctor them up a little when the come out of the oven!

Do be sure and drool over all the deliciousness found over at YeastSpotting, hosted this week by Macheesmo – thank you so much for hosting, Nick!

Vegan Christoposomos! Greek Celebration Bread from Bread Baker’s Apprentice

Christoposomos (Vegan) from Bread Baker's Apprentice.

My explorations into the formulas in Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice continue with this festive little number, the Christoposomos, one of the Greek Celebration bread variations.

This was both exhilarating and challenging for me…nope, I never thought I’d qualify the craft of bread baking as exhilarating, but I’m learning to better appreciate all that I’d taken for granted as being easy or boring or plain in my youth, and yes, this is wild and crazy stuff! No dowdy submissive chica in the kitchen here, kids, just one punk rock veganfish listening to The Dead Milkmen and stripping the animal products from this delicious recipe.

Chopped Walnuts

All the recipes I’ve made so far from Apprentice have been very easily veganizable, and this was no exception. I used agave syrup to sub out the honey and Ener-G for the two large eggs.

About to knead in the walnuts...

I used coconut milk in this recipe because I wanted to be sure to add enough fat to the dough, and the results were just perfect. There was no lasting coconut flavour in the finished bread, but the coconut milk did lend a lovely buttery quality that was just perfect.

Christoposomos (vegan) about to go into the oven...

While this isn’t a recipe I will make often, I will indeed save this one for special occasions or for when we have guests for breakfast or brunch. It’s rather fancy and far more sophisticated than anything I’ve ever made bread-wise before, and I felt like a rock star yet again! Perhaps I’m just too easily amused?

I’d like to dedicate this Celebration Bread to Susan of Wild Yeast as she is celebrating the First Anniversary of Yeast Spotting this week! I think that is indeed reason to celebrate!

Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire


Tangerine’s Kitchen is hosting this month’s Bread Baking Day, and the theme is Multigrain Breads. It’s been so long since I’ve participated in & BBD – Nearly a year! Here I am again, with a most delicious Multigrain loaf, appropriately called Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire, from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.

This is the bread that almost wasn’t : A lovely, lazy Saturday afternoon and a beautifully shaped boule was proofing in the kitchen, when I heard my daughter crying in her bedroom. A nightmare had woken her up mid-nap so I calmed her down and I snuggled her…and fell asleep! When we woke up 2.5 hours later I found my boule looking more like a multigrain crêpe than anything else!

Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire (Vegan)

Determined not to give up I formed a loaf and put it in a bread pan, hoping for the best… and let me tell you, it was indeed the best! The best bread I’ve made to date! I find myself saying that more and more frequently…I might be getting the hang of this bread baking thing, or The Bread Baker’s Apprentice is just brilliant. Or both.

Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire (Vegan)

I used amaranth, oats, millet, wheat germ and brown rice, and I also subbed 1 cup Whole Wheat flour for bread flour. The crunchy, slightly-sweet crust and the moist, dense crumb made this an excellent bread for morning toast or sandwiches.

As always, thanks to Zorra for keeping the breads baking around the world! And be sure to check out Susan’s weekly Yeast Spotting for more beautiful baked goodness!

Peanut Butter Goodness Galore!

If you’re not a fan of peanutty goodness, this post will probably not interest you very much at all! It’s all about the peanut butter and here you’ll find it stealing the show decked out in some fabulous baked goodness…these glorious recipes will be in Celine and Joni’s upcoming vegan opus, 500 Vegan Recipes. I don’t know about you, but I can hardly wait!

Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Quick Bread

Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Quick Bread

This dense & delicious loaf has just a hint of boozy goodness. I added bits of dehydrated bananas (but you could add any dried fruit!), and it was the perfect breakfast with a dollop of jam. This is one of my favourite tester recipes by far! POST UPDATE – CELINE JUST POSTED THIS RECIPE ON HER BLOG! NOW YOU CAN ENJOY THIS AMAZING BREAD!

Peanut Butter Sconey Biscuits

Peanut Butter Sconey-Biscuits

Don’t let the “work-in-progress” name detract from their absolute deliciousness! These are peanut butter goodness incarnate. With just hint of sweet, these are a lovely marriage between a scone and a biscuit. Perfect with a cup of tea for an afternoon knosh or with a smear of jam for breakfast.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Oat Quick Bread

Peanut Butter & Jelly Oat Quick Bread

It’s not the bread’s fault I’m a klutz…despite being a crumbly mess (I tripped when moving it from oven to cooling rack), it was a fun breakfast treat – complete with oats, peanut butter and jelly – you just need to add a cup of joe and you’re set!

My oven is going to mourn the end of recipe testing for 500 Vegan Recipes…it’s going to be a long wait until November! If you just can’t wait, don’t forget to visit the flickr group – but don’t even try it on an empty stomach!

Lenten Confessions : WWRD? (What Would Rita Do?)


Cinnamon-Sugar Loaf, aka Easter Weekend Breakfast

I guess it’s time for confession, which is a rather Catholic thing to do, is it not? I’m not Catholic, but as you know, I decided to give up baking during the Lenten Holiday to honor the memory of my grandmother (a practicing Catholic). I was a very good girl during those long weeks of Lent, and I’m feeling rather proud of myself, too (which somehow negates the good behaviour, right?). Random urges for baking powder biscuits to go with homemade soup? Denied! Cookie cravings from Guppy and Monsieur Fish? Ignored. Thankfully I live in the country of the baguette, so at least fresh, cheap and tasty bread made up for the yeast-ban chez nous.

Besides being a positive way to honor her memory, this little break from baking was a wonderful reminder for me to ignore my “inner three-year-old”. Though I’ve only been baking (or cooking, or preparing food requiring more complex food preparation than slicing bread and boiling water) for a hair under two years, I’ve really taken to it. I relish in the DIY aspect of home food preparation, feeling like an artist, a craftsman and a renegade against the machine of forced consumerism. And it’s tasty. And so much healthier.


Check out that cinnamon-sugar layer!

However, even those of you who like me have but a rudimentary understanding of physics know : energy doesn’t just disappear. Equal and opposite reactions and all that – sound familiar? When I broke my foot/ankle last November, something rather strange began to happen. The time and energy that I so carefully poured into my training had to go somewhere, and it seemed to find its way into the oven. I wasn’t actively aware of this happening initially : for me it was about recipe testing, holiday baking for gift-giving and get-togethers, etc. but as the holidays came to a close I still found myself wanting to bake. Needing to bake.


You can see the cinnamon-sugar layering magic here, too

In retrospect, I believe that baking helped me reclaim a feeling of control I felt I’d lost. I couldn’t control my leg being in a cast or incompetent physical therapists, but I could control proportions of flour to sugar to yeast. Healing times eluded me, but baking times became as natural as my running rhythm.

I’m thankful that I didn’t chose a more self-destructive outlet for that pent-up energy (says the former smoker), but I felt like it was time to gently step away from the oven mitts and remember what brought me to wanting to bake in the first place : a desire to create healthful deliciousness for my family and friends.


Oh delicious Molasses Bar, just unwrapped and ready to be eaten!

Lent technically ended on Easter Sunday, but I admit to ending my Lenten baking fast nearly 5 days prior. That being said, I don’t feel guilty or ashamed about breaking out the cupcake tins. Guppy was having a party at school, and I was having Spring parties for two of my children’s English classes. The idea of purchasing pre-made baked goods for these events briefly flashed before my mind – and then I just laughed out loud as I often do when I think about my Grandmother, known as Rita Pita. I found myself asking the question : WWRD*?


Whole Wheat “Quickish” Bread with a slab of Chocolate-Agave Frosting.

Just typing the words makes me smile, because I knew Rita Pita, and I know how ridiculous she would think my not baking would be. Don’t get me wrong, she’s looking at me from somewhere and is touched that I honored Lent for her (and secretly feeling puffed-up for all this blog attention), but she was the last person on earth who would condone calorie restriction, or not eating sweets, in her name. She would have scolded me for not baking, probably asked to “just lick the spoon” (a no-no as she was a long-time diabetic and fought against weight problems her entire life) and a cupcake making we would have gone.

So I made. I left the camera in the other room, and decided to only make enough for the parties, meaning for Guppy’s school and for my students. If you’re still deciding if I “sinned”, do weigh in the fact that I made them, and taught/hosted the parties, with a 38.5c fever, so it’s like it was a big punishment anyway (ha!).

As the drugs began taking effect, I decided that it was the long weekend, and I wanted to make something fun and tasty for us so on Good Friday I made the Cinnamon-Sugar Loaf. And it was Good. I also made some Molasses bars that I wrapped up and froze to use as quick breakfasts for me. The last of the holy trinity of baking was the “Quickish” Whole Wheat bread that was so easy to throw together and bake it felt sinful. Just be be sure I made up a batch of Chocolate Agave Frosting, using hazelnut flavouring and we slathered this “faux-Nutella” all over that wholesome Whole Wheat loaf. So good to be bad.

In case you haven’t guessed, the Cinnamon-Sugar Loaf, Molasses Bars, Whole Wheat “Quickish” Bread and the Chocolate Agave Frosting are indeed all recipes which you’ll find in the up-coming 500 Vegan Recipes, to be released in less than a year! Testing is almost done, and now I shall find myself also asking WWSE? What will Shellyfish eat?

Oh the extetentialist ponderings of the universe…

(What would Rita do for those of you lucky enough to have dodged this little phrase which to me was the epitome of the hypocrite’s guide to religious marketing “What would Jesus do?”)*

“Swell” friends : More 60-Day Project Love & Yummies & thank heavens for good medical coverage.

My mother just keeps reveling in the birthday love – thanks to you! A hearty muchas gracias go out to the lovely and talented Robin of Robin in Reality and to everyone’s favourite Swell Vegan, A-K!

Robin sent my mother a gorgeous handmade scarf, huckleberry tea from her native Montana and a beautiful card. Cookzine writer A-K sent her the most delectible homemade raw goodies! And have you seen how cute she looks showing off her new Swell cookzine? She’s being added to the Vegan-Cutie Hall Of Fame fo sho! She’s selling these little babies for only 3USD! 5USD for we freaky European kids. I can’t wait to make every one of those recipes – and eat it all – that Spicy Tahini Stew sounds really good right now…


And now for the Yummies! This Maple Flax Loaf was a pre-Lenten test recipe for 500 Vegan Recipes. So simple and so delicious. Miam! It was as delicious as it was beautiful!


I know the blogger police should arrest me for such a terrible flashy picture, but I’d get myself off the hook when I offered the coppers one of these heavenly Quince Chewies Cookies. If you’re at all familiar with Celine’s blog, than you know she is the cookie queen, and these babies will not disappoint! (Hey, I took the darn photo back in February when it was dark outside at 4pm!). 500 Vegan Recipes is of course going to be rocking your tastebuds! Don’t forget to sneak a peak at the Flickr Pool for eye-candy galore!

I know that I’m oh-so-behind on blog reading and emails. I’m sorry, kids, but after trying to fight a stupid sinus infection without drugs (because I hate the drugs!), I finally caved and sought medical treatment (mostly because I couldn’t fight anymore). Thanks to my tenacity stubbornness I also won two free cases of bronchitis and laryngitis. Yippie!

Would you believe that up until Spring of 2007 (when I moved to this humidisville) I’d never had a sinus infection in my life? I seem to be getting the infection of the century once in the Autumn and once in the Spring. I do live in a very humid area – near the largest forest in France (and one of the largest in Europe), but still! 800mg of antibiotics every morning plus cortisone (yuck – Shellyfish no likey) plus a bunch of other meds should be making me feel better soon. I’d actually be in bed, I want to be in bed, but the cortisone has me wired like a crazy vegan warriorfish and though my eyes and brain are very tired, I can’t sit still.

I do need to say, however, that I am so thankful for our medical system here in France. My generalist was out Wednesday so I called the “traveling doctors” and though it took a few hours, I had a doctor in my home at 11 p.m. He even gave me cortisone right then to help ease my ickyness until morning when I could get to the pharmacy. Oh, and it cost 23E, 22 of which will be reimbursed by Social Security. Next morning at the pharmacy everything was covered, and I didn’t need to pay a centime.

While it’s true that people in larger cities or who chose to go to private clinics may have a slight edge, health care is not considered a “product” or a “privilege” here – it is the basic right of every human being. My little family has had some financial close-calls this year, but never once have we had to “budget” a doctor visit or wait before refilling a prescription – an absurd reality I know so many families face.

I just think that kicks ass.

I’m done now.