Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Bahahahah....did you get sucked in by the buzzword: vegan?  I probably would have...

I remember a few months or so ago I was like...what goes in vegan cookies? air? tears of small children? A combination of black magic and flour?

The answer is: all of the above....

Ok, not really. But seriously...aren't the words "vegan chocolate" like an oxymoron?

Here was my dilemma...E. indicated that she wanted to bring chocolate cupcakes to her preschool for her Halloween party....Great! Sounds good to me!  I love baking!

Filling a small child with sugar and giving them back to their parents?  No prob!

Ooh....but there are some food allergies in Emma's class....and it's really not fair to send food for the class, only to exclude those with allergies. Specifically: Dairy, egg and nuts.

Now cupcakes don't usually involve nuts.  No problem there.

Dairy?  Yeah, that's doable..

Eggs? ooh tough one...

I have heard of things called flax "eggs" and egg substitute.

But it's always good to have a cake/cupcake recipe in your back pocket in case you don't access to that.

Then I had a huge "remembering" moment...duh.

A year or so ago...I realized that the chocolate cake we ate growing up was actually a "vegan" cake...but we definitely had no idea at the time that it was vegan (Follow my link for the recipe!)

My dad is allergic to eggs. So we always made a cake with no eggs.  It just so happened to not have dairy in it either! Score! Vegan ecstasy!

Mix that up and put it in halloween cupcake liners!  Which is what we did....and that raw cake batter...when I tasted it...was like tasting my childhood cake.

I am pretty sure it was the only vegan thing I ate besides french fries and.....that's probably about it....and I am cool with that...

Next!!! A foray into vegan cupcake icing! Made with a strange tasting vegan butter called "Earth Balance"! Sounds legit right?



Soup-tastic

Monday, 26 October 2015

Guys,

Believe me when I say.  Soup is soooo easy to make. I really didn't appreciate soup (or stews) as a child ("oh man....turkey soup....tomato soup....cream of mushroom soup. boooo").

There is one giant exception: Campbell's vegetable alphabet soup.

I was in love with alphabet soup (like....who wasn't? It was so versatile...you could eat it and spell with it.)

As I have grown, my taste in soup as also matured.

Now I know there is a method. Follow the method, decide on a flavour profile and it should work.

For supper last night, I made pulled chicken (put three- four seasoned boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the oven at 300 degress for 2 hours. I had seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic, chili powder and cumin. Once out of the oven, top with barbecue sauce, if you wish and voila: pulled chicken for sandwiches, salads or in this case...soup!).

So we had leftovers.

What to do... what to do. Soup it is.

Basically get a big pot. We have an awesome cast iron/ceramic coated dutch oven.


  • Add an oil (olive, canola, whatever oil you prefer). Place the pot on medium heat
  • Add a ton of chopped onion (1 cup)
  • Stir until the onions are somewhat translucent.
  • Add 3-4 cloves of garlic.
  • Add a couple of chopped sticks of celery
  • Add three chopped large carrots
  • Stir for a few mins. Deglaze the pan with some wine or something to give it some umami (today I used rice wine vinegar).
  • Add another cup or two of veggies. (today for our house it was turnip....yes newfoundlanders love their root veggies. But it really could be anything. If it's a root veggie or a dried legume like lentils, that needs to cook longer...add it now.  If it's tomato, corn, a squash, a cooked bean or a green, wait 'til the end.)
  • Add two containers of stock (I used salt free chicken and veggie stock from campbell's today.  It helps me decide and control the level of salt)
  • Add a starch if desired (today I added 3/4 cup of rice but it could be potato or corn (see the last bullet), or rice/pasta noodle)
  • Add any and all of the spices/seasonings.  Today I used: chives, oregano, bay leaves, parsley.... but you could add anything depending on the flavour profile.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste
  • Add a cooked meat at the end (this could be omitted obviously but it could be chicken, turkey, ground beef, steak....whatevs)
  • Simmer away til the veggies and starches are soft
I just finished a bowl of herbed chicken and rice soup and it was phenomenal. The rice had soaked up a lot of the stock and was so buttery (despite having no butter in the recipe!)

Just need some fresh rolls and we are set for a fall supper. 

Nom.

Bonus: hot chicken soup for lunch in my meat locker of an office. 

K.

Note to self: Rice are absorbent little beings...if you like a brothier soup, stick to 1/2 cup of rice or be more generous with the stock.

Comings and Goings

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Hey folks!

It's been rather quiet around here lately! But ya know, sometimes we get caught up in the comings and goings.

Our first fire this fall.  Cats be like "I have nooo shame!" E. be like "Cats have a lot of nipples"

What's been happening:
- Voting
- Trying to keep the house together last week, when A. was away and your child has extra curricular activities (The struggle is real! Props to single moms! whoot!)
- flu shot biznaz (the flu is already out and about peeps!)
- a trip to halifax for the last UFE graduating class gala, for one of A.'s CAs
- spending a night away from E. at the Prince George
- spending way too much money on a snowsuit for a child, at a store in MicMac Mall:

Do you know that the costs go up exponentially once a child is not in toddler clothing? (Neat store, though!)

A. and I ended up going to the Split Crow in all our finest, after the gala, with all the rest, to listen to a band from Clare (Beer for Iguana). Oh you Acadians! You are everywhere! We had a time, that's for sure.

A hard time getting up and around today, that is.

Makes you realize you are really truly an adult, when you just "can't adult", the day after a night out.

It also makes me realize that when you can go to Halifax and see tons of people you know from your adopted home town, that you know you are truly settled.

Anyhow, hope your weekend was also a fun one!

And hopefully our wallet will recover.

At least E. will be good and warm this winter!

K.
Speaking of warm...my most favourite purchase in Halifax. Sheep Shearling slippers from Costco!


Commitment Chocolate Cake

Thursday, 15 October 2015

So it was a special friend's birthday on Monday (Hey G!). She requested a chocolate on chocolate on chocolate cake for her special day, which we celebrated on Wednesday.

There was no doubt in my mind which cake I should make!

It's Janet and Greta Podleski's chocolate cake (the authors of Looneyspoons, Crazy Plates and Eat Shrink and be Merry).  I have to admit I am not super fans of a lot of their recipes, but this one is amazing...mostly because it's at the end of the cookbook, when they decide to not count calories or use low fat/low sugar options.

Baking with actual baking chocolate! - super fun :)
I don't like the name of the recipe in the cookbook, so I am going to change it to Commitment Chocolate Cake.  You should only make this cake if you are committed for it to take a while and you are showing the person you are making it for (whether it be yourself or someone else) that you are committed to them (I am committed to our friendship G.! I, myself, received this cake, before, from another committed friend. What up C!)

I made the cake.  It took forever. Every. Single. Bite. Was. Ridiculous.

Click here to link to the recipe!!

What's that thing Madonna says?  ABSOLUTELY NO REGRETS. (and now G. loves me more than evah!)

The one thing I realized about blogs and baking is that you should probably take pictures... well...I fell down on the blogging job this time around (I started off well...).

My apologies.

So I am sharing a picture of this cake bathed in the lovely glow of a computer screen at work (cuz ya know..the fluorescent lights were too much). I am sure you can appreciate the juxtaposition. It's avant garde-ness, if you will.




In the meantime, tomorrow will be day three of eating chocolate cake for lunch (the thing is gigantic!). Nuttin' wrong with that right? Just don't tell the dietitians that I work with.

Happy almost Friday!

K.


 

Apple Crisp with a Cranberry Twist

Monday, 12 October 2015

(* First of all you can now subscribe to my blog via email address! Just type it in on the right!)

Andrew is our resident crisp maker in this household.

So there is a bit of a problem when it comes to giving a recipe....he doesn't measure. He guess-timates and the rest is through touch and feel (My grandmother does the same thing, bless'er).

I am too much a control freak with my baking for that shiz.

I was reading the November issue of House and Home (which by the way has Christmas stuff in it...and it makes me a little bit excited for the holidays!). My girl, Sarah Richardson, was featured and she submitted (or at least her PR firm submitted) a recipe for Cranberry Apple Crisp.

I was like....huh....

That sounds awesome!

And we had just purchased some fresh cranberries from the farmer's market...co-winki-dink? I think no.

I will do my best to provide a recipe but it's kinda tricky....if you have a crisp topping that already works for you? My suggestion is to use it :)

Somebody was taking bites of the apples :/
To have enough fruit to cover a 9 inch square pan (which is enough for 4-5 people, or in our case, 2 and a half people for dessert and a serving for breakfast for the adults. I don't let my four year old have dessert for breakfast...jeesh, what kind of parent would I be?!) use the following:

1 1/2 cups of cranberries (I chopped them in half, but you can choose to keep them whole)
The beauties
2 cups of thinly sliced apple (we used honey crisp)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tablespoon of cornstarch (since the cranberries release a lot of water)
1/2 cup of granulated sugar

The crumble recipe is a bit less precise...So from the horse's mouth (his best guess):

- a shit ton of oatmeal (maybe 2 cups?- sorry for the profanity, but that's what he said!)
- a bunch of brown sugar (3/4c-1c?, to taste)
- one stick of butter, melted (1/2 cup)
- add enough flour until it starts to form a crappy cookie (a cup-ish)

He indicated that it should taste balanced and be crumbly. Too dry? add more butter.  Not sweet enough? add more sugar. Initially, we thought the crumble was too sweet, but it ended up balancing extremely well with the tart fruit.

Pour/press crumble on to the fruit and bake until 35-40 minutes at 350 or until the crumble is lovely and brown.


If you are smart, you will top with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. But ya know....maybe you aren't smart...or you can't have dairy..so don't.

The result is a tart but amazing crisp. It got a thumbs up from all the family members.

And it makes an amazing breakfast...because: oatmeal and fruit!

Don't forget the coffee.

For the second time...Happy Thanksgiving! Cuz in Canada no one ever is sure if it's actually Monday or Sunday.

K.









Confessions of a Less Than Mediocre Gardener

Saturday, 10 October 2015


Fact: I often forget to water plants

Fact: These plants often die a dehydrated death

Fact: I'm not a great gardener

Fact: I don't know if that will ever change

We usually have an herb garden in pots in our back yard. Various ones have died a horrible death over the course of the summer/early fall. Most of them came close to death, while we were on vacation for two weeks. But they thrill of going out and cutting some fresh herbs (which we use a lot in our cooking) the three times the plants are alive, completely outweigh the idea of not planting an herb garden. This year at several points, I harvested lots of basil, parsley, mint, thyme and (shocker!) cilantro. (I find cilantro really hard to grow and it usually dies quickly and hopefully peacefully.) We even made basil-almond pesto one night to my own delight. 

Anyhoo, we never really delved into other kinds of growing, except buying a couple of tomato plants and forgetting to plant them until....you got it....they died. 

Andrew was on the ball this year and bought some veggie plants to plant with E. We got a couple of pumpkin plants, onions and cabbage (?really?  cabbage? We eat cabbage on a rare occasion). 

So the onions grew a minimal amount. Andrew says we should call them "shallots" to hide the fact that they didn't grow. Slugs ate one cabbage plant and most of another (Slugs are assholes...and before some slug defender comes out from behind a curtain...I googled it..there are a few links where people struggle to defend slugs and their purpose. The best thing people could come up with is that they break down organic matter..so do worms! Sorry for the slug rant). 

So that leaves us with the always lovely, rarely eaten, pumpkin. But hey, we could always make a jack-o-lantern.

We actually were successful in growing a vine of pumpkin flowers, which were lovely in itself. We had lots of flowers...but remembered from my dad growing pumpkins back in the day....there were male and female flowers! How did this work? (cue the song..."Let me tell ya 'bout the birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees...")

At first, we were hoping that the pollinators in the area (mostly bumble bees) were going to do their job...but after some female pumpkin buds came and died (you see the theme here?) we decided to become more aggressive with pumpkin flower...ahem..love making. 

If you had driven by our house on any given morning in August and September..there was probably a large chance that you would have seen Andrew or I out by the side of the house with a small paintbrush....trying to speed up the process of pollination. It was quite fascinating...and in the end...I don't know if it was the paintbrush or the bees...we ended up with two pumpkins. 

I think we were more excited them E. 

Then we realized that these pumpkins were mini, if you will. My dad had encouraged me to fertilize them when it was first apparent that the pumpkins were growing. But since I have a history of burning and killing plants with fertilizer...I decided against that. Besides, a small pumpkin is better than no pumpkin, amirite?

After a week or so, I asked Andrew:  You sure you didn't buy a mini pumpkin plant?  (Does such a thing even exist?)

He said....(wait for it)......"No".





Sure enough....we ended up with two stunted pumpkins. 

The great pumpkin harvest of House Perkins, 2015

But that's ok...I don't think E. minded.  They are now living a happy pumpkin life with some fellow gourds on the window sill...

Maybe next year we will try again...in the meantime....maybe I should get some tulip bulbs...

Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Canadians!

K.


Hockey Mom

Friday, 9 October 2015

This week I officially became a hockey mom!

Who knew it would be so awesome!?

Andrew began taking E. to the rink, to the public skate soon after she turned two. Given she is 4 and a half now, it's been two-ish years since she started.

Emma's first time trying on skates in 2013

I will be honest. It's been an uphill battle at the public skates....and I wasn't even the one that took her. Tantrums, crying and general, overall crankiness, was frequent the M.O.

She was often bribed with the promise of 25 cents worth of skittles to stay on the ice. (Hey, we aren't above food bribery in this house!)



There were times where she would stay on the ice for 15 minutes and ask to come off.


So when Andrew said that he asked E. if she was interested in hockey...she said: "I want to play HOCKEY!" ever so convincingly and excitedly. Andrew was thrilled.

Mmhmm.

I can't help it.  I was a little bit skeptical.

Especially since she did a 5 week Can-Skate program and once she saw the figure skaters, she asked if she could wear a tutu the next time she went skating.

I admit I look back, and wish I could have played hockey growing up. Andrew says I could of, but there was a lot of confounding factors. Girls playing hockey was unheard of in our small town in Newfoundland..especially since the nearest rink was a crappy winter's drive, that was a half hour away.

The idea of having a girl playing hockey in the house was extremely exciting to me....I just wasn't sure if E. was gonna be that girl....at least, this soon.

She absolutely. Proved. Me. Wrong.

This week was E.'s "hockey school": basically an intensive learn-to-skate-and-wear-hockey-gear-at-the-same-time prior to Timbits hockey starting next week.

She had a ball all week! She had a huge smile on her face so much of the time and really participated.

Bonus: there are at least 7 other girls in her age group! I am so pleased about this fact. I really hope these girls get to see each other do well and support each other in this male-dominated sport.

So, I christened my bum...first evening freezing it off on the cold side of the Mariner's centre..watching my girl and talking to other hockey parents.

I am sure there wasn't a prouder mom in the rink.

Wish us luck for the rest of the season...and for freezing my arse off for the next 15 years.

K.


Building Updates

Sunday, 4 October 2015


Hey all!

How was your weekend? Ours was productive and social (my favourite kind of weekend!)

We met with our architect today..

(I feel like I should insert a gif of Iggy Azalea singing "Fancy".)

Yes. I realize it sound very pretentious and douchy.

But in reality: Our good friends, Adam (our architect) and his spouse, Cindy came to visit!

We got a chance to review two house plans with him, and discuss our absolutes, our flexibilities, our likes and dislikes.

It seems as though we are going to forgo a single floor dwelling, plus basement, and go with a two story, dwelling plus basement. It turns out one of the most expensive parts of a home is the foundation.  So hopefully, less foundation, less cost.

The basement is a mystery for now. The area in which we purchased our land is notorious for having bedrock. You can actually see some big boulders near the entrance to our property. So we are going with the intention of having a basement...we just don't know how big, how deep etc. If we hit bedrock soon after we dig..we may end up doing slab. Therefore, we are really just going forward with the intention of having a basement..but trying to ensure that we don't get disappointed, if it doesn't come to fruition.

We talked a little bit about interior details that we have to further explore like windows, doors..how the aesthetic of our home will be! But again...I get ahead of myself..I have to realize that the start of construction is still a ways, away and we have to solidify the plans first.

So Adam is going to amalgamate the two plans that he did for us and then... hopefully we can start approaching contractors (gulp).

Here's some inspiration pics (at least in my head) on what some of the details in our home might look like!
The plans include a vaulted ceiling in the main living area (possibly two floors worth). Plus lots of windows!

At some point we will be looking to decide on a modern staircase treatment

A woodstove

I am most excited for a COAT CLOSET!!! (we don't have one, currently)

Anyhow! I am leaving the fam this week to head to the city for some work stuff. Looking forward to attending a conference (but mostly to eating in fun restaurants and shopping!)

Downton Abbey calls...

Night!

K.

Making Peace with Pink and Princesses

Friday, 2 October 2015


The Peanut


We found out Emma was a girl, in my 24th week of pregnancy.

I admit, I was pumped.

I had always hoped for a girl.

I had two brothers. They were heinous.

(Sorry guys...you were!)

I was obviously fabulous, being a girl child. Thus, I wanted a girl. (#soundreasoning)

Once we found out we were having a girl..the next most obvious cause for concern was how we were gonna decorate her room. (Oh man, we were so naive! She spent the first 4 months in our room!)

I was absolutely against pink. Especially "baby pink", "Pepto pink" ...most kinds of pink except fuchsia (for some reason, hot pink was acceptable, as it was a "mature pink").

We painted her room a cream with lots of colourful accents (including green, blue, fuschia etc).

I made sure she didn't have ridiculous baby pink outfits. No "Mommy's princess" shirts. No "Daddy's princess" shirts.

I was going to have an equal opportunity, gender neutral child.  She was gonna have dolls aaannnd trains. She was gonna have cars aannnd My Little Pony.

Not only that! I was going to leave out the princess crap. No Sleeping Beauty. No Cinderella.

This girl was not going to face gender stereotypes and ridiculous female role models in this household!

No sir..

Then this funny thing happened.

One way or another..girls get exposed to princess stuff...pink stuff...stereotypical binary gender stuff.

And by golly....E. was like a freight train. She wanted the pink.  She wanted the princess stuff. She wanted everything and all of that.

It was like walking a thirsty horse by a trough.

I was powerless to stop it.

This was her choice.

She chose My Little Pony over Jake and the Never Land Pirates. She chose Dora and Friends over Thomas.

And never at any point did I say....Girls watch Dora. Boys watch Thomas.

This was a choice that she made on her own.

This was what made her happy.

And then I realized. If this was what she was interested in....so be it.

If she had gone the other way and wanted to be into ninja turtles and trains and all those other things....I would have supported her....so why was I struggling now to support this choice?

It didn't make sense! I had worked so hard to be gender neutral. Gender equal.

Then I realized the best thing I could do was to support her choices. Continue to provide the choices and go from there.

This year E. chose to be in ballet....and be in hockey.

Maybe at the end of the year, she will prefer one over the other.

It's my job as her parent to provide the choice and go with the choice that she makes.

(In addition, I try to make sure that I talk to her about why some of these old school stereotypical princess stories are not real life ("You know you don't have to get married if you don't want to" "You know when you find someone you love it is important that they are kind and honest") and talk to her about my own body confidence ("I love my brown eyes", "I like being tall".)

Because you know what? The most important female role model in E.'s life is not Cinderella. It's not Sleeping Beauty. It's not Dora. It's not Sofia the First.

IT'S ME!!!!!!!

K.