Thursday, April 29, 2010

Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, Act Three

This was my third batch of cupcakes, as the title suggests, from the cookbook "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World." I was so excited that my experiments one and two turned out so well that I was thrilled for a personal audience for my third batch. Instead of titling this blog "attempt three" or "take three," I have decided to more appropriately call it "act three." Attempt and take suggest that the others had been less than successful. Not so.


Our friends Craig and Rebecca, also known as CraiBecca, were coming over for dinner and I wanted a special dessert. We take turns hosting dinner and every meal we have shared over the years has been delicious. They are both wonderful chefs and we have a lot to live up to each time. Based on their rave reviews of our meals, I think John and I, also known as JoManda, have done wel

On this occasion, we decided to make a salad, lentil and black bean chili, and vegan whole wheat biscuits. Although it was winter, the meal had an autumn feel and I wanted a sweet to match. I went in search of a cupcake and icing combination that would pair well. I came across a recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Cinnamon Icing and knew I had found my seet. The recipe was so enticing, even without a picture.

The recipe had pumpkin, chocolate chips, cinnamon, and a simple cinnamon icing that was to be drizzled on the top. My mouth started watering as soon as I read the recipe. This combination of flavors sounded perfect. I love the taste of pumpkin and am always looking for ways to use it. In the past, my uses have been mostly savory dinner dishes. This new use of pumpkin would be a nice change.

I set out to find canned pumpkin and came across an organic variety. The price was comparable to the regular canned pumpkin, so this one was a no brainer. I also picked up vegan chocolate chips. I had all of the other ingredients on hand.

As I mixed all of the ingredients, I wanted to eat the batter raw. (As I have mentioned before, vegan batter can be consumed raw since it does not include eggs. Yippie for me!). After the cupcakes were in the oven baking, I scooped around the sides with a spatula and ate every little drop that was left. The raw batter was amazing, I could hardly wait for the finished product!

Once the cupcakes were out of the oven and cooled, I drizzled the cinnamon icing on top. We decided to share a cupcake before serving them to Craibecca. As we expected, they were heavenly! This was by far my most favorite cupcake to date! The pumpkin, chocolate, and cinnamon flavor worked so well together. Craibecca enjoyed them as well. Rebecca and I each enjoyed one cupcake for dessert and John and Craig both had two.

Verdict: Attempt three is a WINNER!!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Vegan Craft Supplies- Where Does The Madness End?

It is frustrating to have to check literally EVERY label of the food that I ingest, but it does not end there. Being a vegetarian/vegan requires a commitment beyond food. I have to check clothing, shoes, jewelry, and planting supplies. If you are thinking, that list is complete- think again. I also have to check art supply products!

I recently read a blog on the Etsyveg site that I found helpful. It is often hard to detect if a product contains something that harmed, killed, or tested on an animal or animals. It is cumbersome to have to contact every manufacturer before purchasing an art product. I find this site useful because it links to a blog that has a listing of products that are known to be vegan. Luckily, most of what I make is reused from other products, so I do not have to worry all that much. It is still a concern when I go to make something from scratch.

All of this checking and reading is enough to make one mad! If my choice to live without animal products was just a feeling, mood, or fad, then this would be overwhelming. The bottom line is that this is a lifestyle for me and I do not do anything halfway (or at least I try not too). I don't just do things when they are convenient for me. I try to give
100% because this is my calling. Any yes, sometimes I do fail. Nonetheless, I am committed. Even if that commitment means making my life harder. I can take a couple of extra steps to save the life of an animal. It is, after all a life- and life all life is precious.

Monday, April 12, 2010

We Have Sprouts!

We bought our first home late last May. By the time we moved in, unpacked, and got back to normal life, it was too hot to plant. Besides, we had a whole list of projects that had to come first (staining the deck, putting up shelves, painting, etc).

Since last summer, we have been talking about planting a garden. We designated a place in our yard, but decided to wait until the weather warmed up. We finally got around to it this year on a warm, sunny, Saturday. We found an area in the back yard and created a bed that is about two feet wide and ten feet long. On the right side of the bed, I planted three different type of already sprouted lettuce (red leaf, green lead, and romaine). I bought these beauties at the Durham Farmer's Market for $3. They will produce about $25 worth of lettuce. This was a good deal! On the left side of the bed we planted tomato and pepper seeds. They have not sprouted yet, but I have high hopes.

In addition to our yard, we also planted many things on the deck in pots. For the past couple of years our oregano, chives, thyme, and mint that have come back. We also added new plants that we purchased from the farmers market. We got basil plants, Italian parsley, and kale. I planted the parsley and in a couple of days, it exploded into more green!

Lastly, and most excitedly, I planted basil seeds. I planted three different types of seeds and within a week, they have ALL started to sprout! Since taking this picture they have doubled in size and in amount of sprouts.

Watching the seeds grow is like watching a small miracle. They started from a seed and now that are little sprouts that will soon be large plants.

Happy Spring!