I’m feeling so special!

The 60-Day Project has gotten off to a delicious start!

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Look at those phenomenally-gorgeous mini-cupcakes that the dear Maggie of Dog Hill Kitchen made for my mum, aka Mammafish! Not only did Maggie put love, time and genuine effort into this sweet birthday gift, but she delivered them personally to my mother! I know not everyone lives close enough to bring her something sweet – heaven knows I can’t - and when Maggie said she was up for a “special delivery” I was just giddy with excitement. She even made them vegan! She also threw in a jar of her homemade quince jam made with organic quince from her father-in-law’s garden! Talk about an extended-family affair! Maggie’s got the recipe for the Strawberry-Topped Vegan Lemon Mini-Cupcakes up on her blog if you want to make some for your mother (or for yourself!).

Thanks again, Maggie! You are a real friend, and you made my mother’s (and father’s) day!

Riding the high from knowing how well this first surprise went and hearing the joy in my mother’s voice over the telephone, I stumbled upon two other (much less important) surprises! My humble little blog got two very special mentions this weekend and I’m feeling so snazzy-pants about it!

Erik Marcus featured my Vegan Spinach Pasta from the March Daring Bakers Challenge on Vegan.com! I must admit, I was feeling a little sparkly!

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And the Feeling Stitchy blog gave a special mention to my Little Bear which I literally just happened upon. I clicked on the blog and began scrolling down and was like, “hey, that bear looks like mine…it is mine!”. How flattering!

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I obviously wish that I had come up with this cute little bear, but anyone can stitch themselves one! Just visit Hillary Lang’s Wee Wonderfuls blog, and you can score yourself a free pattern, too!

We’re about to begin an exciting week! April is just a few days away, Friday is my mother’s birthday and I’m feeling really excited about getting gifty-projects ready  for Easter and Guppy’s birthday. Have a great week!

Homemade Vegan Pasta? Easy-Peasy! The Daring Bakers March Challenge : Vegan Lasagna

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When I gave up baking for Lent, I pretty much knew I’d have to forgo the March Daring Bakers Challenge. I don’t like missing challenges (I’ve only missed one), but figured I’d just make it at a later date. Imagine my joy and surprise when March’s challenge was announced and I saw we’d be making a savory dish, and for me, it fell under the category of “cooking” – so no missed challenge!

The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge.

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I absolutely loved this challenge! It was fun, easy and I didn’t find it time consuming at all (though some of my fellow Dbers did). I usually have homemade tomato sauce in my freezer, and it just so happened to be time to replenish my stock, so the week before I made the lasagna I made about a 4 liters of homemade sauce. I think splitting the challenge into two parts – sauce and pasta – really cut down on my over-all time in the kitchen (or at least my perception of it!).

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This challenge pushed me to do something I’ve always thought about doing – make my own pasta from scratch! I make everything from scratch, but I’d never made pasta – until now. It was so easy and fun, I know I’m going to do it again and again.  I used the Bryanna Clark Grogan recipe for my spinach and it was a gem! Clear, easy to follow and a beautifully cooperative dough to work with. I think from start to finish from beginning the pasta to baking the lasagna the time was about 1h45mins.

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I believe that my ignorance allows for such fun and discovery in the kitchen. As I’d never made homemade pasta, I wasn’t afraid of it and didn’t really know what I was supposed to be doing or how, so I didn’t think I couldn’t do it “the right way” as I didn’t know what the right way was. I had fun, and so did Guppy who was so excited to learn that dough makes not only bread and cookies, but also pasta. It’s wonderful to help her see the way things are connected.

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And I just have to say, I was feeling like such a rock star with drying spinach pasta hanging about my kitchen. I know I was feeling the same emotions of pride and accomplishment that Guppy feels when she does something for the first time: “Look what I made, mumma!” (speaking of which, I need to send my mum this link so she can be proud of me, too!).

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I don’t make lasagna very often, but I know the next time I do I’ll be making this pasta! It was delicious, and everyone loved it!

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If you haven’t already stopped by The Daring Kitchen – home of The Daring Bakers and The Daring Cooks – you should! There are lots of great feature articles, cookbook reviews and feature members. Lot’s of good, clean fun for everyone!