Vegan Cupcakes Invade My Oven…

…and it isn’t exactly a hostile take-over. πŸ˜‰

Wowzer. I was flipping through the cupcake book this afternoon, drooling at every single picture, and imagining all the wonderful parings of frosting and cupcakes I could create, when I realized I could be baking them right then and there. So I carefully got up from my chair (so as not to arouse suspicion from my Mum), and began to curdle my soy and coconut milk in the kitchen. I usually make a big mess when I bake, but then am not so good at the cleaning up part- in my defense, the sink is really high and I can’t really reach into it very easily.

I decided to bake a simple Agave Vanilla Cupcake, but added a little coconut milk (oh, the decadence!), and maple syrup for extra yum yum factor. They came together beautifully; the batter was so thick and creamy that it reminded me of Belgium waffle dough. They were this lovely golden brown color, thanks to the maple syrup, agave and copious teaspoons of vanilla I added to them. And 18 minutes later, they magically reappeared from the oven looking golden-er and smelling vanilla-ier than before! I hate waiting for them to cool, but every darn cookbook mentions this. Soooo I am being very patient, but am itching to frost them. I am thinking of adding some melted chocolate to a coconut based icing that we have. These thoughts are rather torturous to one who is immersed in the sweet smell of a dozen fresh baked cupcakes, so I will regretfully move from this topic to an equally wonderful one.

I received a letter from my good friend, Jess, who has left the island for Georgia, USA, to do what she loves; play the viola. Any booyyyyy does she play…I am so happy for her that she gets to do that all day long!! Paradise, but hard work. I feel so very fortunate to know such amazing talented, kind, generous people. We have been such wonderful friends since I arrived at GNS! Cornrowing each others hair at sleepovers, making ‘menus’, playing outside, choir several times a week, lunchtimes on the field gossiping, helping each other in school and bemoaning IB work. I miss her like bread misses butter. Can’t wait til Christmas break! Love you, Jessi <3

The cupcakes are cooling… 

Kristin is so wonderful and caring, and I look forward to our piano lessons together so much! We always have so much fun -> no ruler-hitting.-work-to-the-bone,-and-never-right,-and-mean teacher here, but there is oodles and oodles of learning happen’. You train a dog with biscuits, not kicks. :D. I write down my questions for her as I am practicing during the week, that way when we meet I can remember what parts I had trouble with. Kristin gave me a wonderful gift for my birthday: a pashmina scarf with piano notes and symbols on it in pink and l(y)me green, a CD of all the out-of-print jazz “Fake Books”, and a wonderful book of Chopin pieces, including all my favorite mazurkas, waltzes and preludes. Because I can play all the tricky Debussy pieces (nearly!), Chopin can’t be far behind. I wish that I had a prehensile pinky finger…that would really help playing his pieces!

Today, I was grilled on this incredible beautiful Chopin Waltz (posth., from the Trio Valses #2). It is very depressing to admit that although I am working hard on it and think I am playing it very fast, I am barely beyond half-speed!! It is played at a break-necked pace that surely no dancer could keep to, and my fingers sorely object. I do have all the notes in generally the right places which is always promising, but now I have to add in all the fiddly bits which are most time consuming; the pedaling, trills and occasionally fix up the odd slowdown/speedup’s that happen when one is learning. The other piece is Schuberts’ “Herberge”, which means a country inn. It is a delightful work with all this majestic dotted rhythm that carry me away in their boom. It moves from the sweetest pianissimo staccato passages to these sweeping, swelling chords. There is much room to rubato (classical musics’ ‘swing’ or stretching, in a way) and add emotion, which I do anyways, regardless of the rules.

Ah, music. Imagine if the early peoples had not felt the urge for rhythm, to beat on drums and to sing, to create primitive flute-esque and stringed instruments. What if no one had thought to use strings from the stomach of a goat?, a horse tail brush?, mahogany body?, black and white keys?, brass curves? It would be just us, alone in a wave of rhythm crying out for sound, and noise begging to be sculpted. The cacophony of life and the music inside. 

Wait for the Cake!

18. Holy shit. I can no longer laugh at my friends for being ‘old’. I don’t feel a great epiphany or awakening or anything of that nonsense, but rather the same as I did a few days ago, much to my disappointment. I was hoping that I would magically be healed on such a very important day- sort of the reverse of Cinderella turning back into her old self. Alas, Disney gave us all rather impractical solutions to our problems.

I had a really wonderful time on my birthday the other day. Nancy and Phil came down from up Island for the day, and we had a big family dinner. My auntie and uncle went with me to this seriously awesome wool shop downtown called “Knotty by Nature“, which has everything fiber you could possibly desire, while greatly supporting our local sheep and shepherds! Now when I go into a wool store, I simple must touch everything. There are all these strange and wonderful blends of fiber…merino, cashmere, bamboo, linen, alpaca, kid mohair…each with their own addictive feel and story. After much stroking and color combination, I finally decided on 4 braids of unspun wool (the colors on my lap in this picture) in a blueberry, sky blue, stormy gray, and deep lilac. I can’t wait to start spinning them! I haven’t used a drop spindle in a very long time (actually, a decade), but the motion is one that comes relatively naturally. Just need to get my hands on one, and then I will be set.

Rows of dyed wool braids, and hand-dyed bits below.

After our sojourn to the yarn store, we arrived home in time to start dinner. The menu-> veg Phad Thai, which is possibly my favorite food ever, and for dessert a Vegan Carrot Cake with Coconut Cream frosting. A unique culture-clash. Heaven. We tried the pressed tofu, which is probably the tastiest ‘lil protein pack I have ever had the pleasure of sampling.

Tossing in the sprouts…

Crushed peanuts, lime juice, bean sprouts, tamarind, garlic, tomato paste: these flavors jump right off the plate, fresh from a well-seasoned wok. 

A wish.

Like most birthday girls, I find the wait for the cake almost impossible. No matter how fine a main course, or salad, it is the desert that is the show-stopper.

After much searching and deliberation, I adapted this recipe from one I found on the nakedeats Blog; Community Vegan Carrot Cake.

~Naked Carrot Cake~

Ingredients:
    ⁃    2 1/4 cups all purpose flour  (1.25 cup AP, 1 WW)
    ⁃    1 heaping T cinnamon
    ⁃    2.5 teaspoons all spice
    ⁃    2 teaspoons fresh-ground nutmeg
    ⁃    1/2 teaspoons cardamom, ground
    ⁃    1 teaspoon baking powder
    ⁃    2 teaspoons baking soda
    ⁃    1 teaspoon salt
    ⁃    1/4 cup agave
    ⁃    3 teaspoons vanilla
    ⁃    1 cup olive oil
    ⁃    2 cups finely grated carrots
    ⁃    1 cup crushed pineapple including juice
    ⁃    1 cup shredded coconut
    ⁃    2/3 cup chopped pecans
    ⁃    1/2 cup raisins

Method:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grind all spices (cinnamon, all spice, nutmeg, cardamom). Mix together the flours, baking soda and powder, salt and spices. Set aside.
Mix the agave with the olive oil in an electric mixer, then drizzle in the fragrant vanilla.
Slowly fold in the dry ingredients mixture. It may seem dry, but not once all the fruits and veggies are added. :D. Add the pineapple and juice and mix. Then add the carrots, coconut, raisons, and nuts. Don’t overland.
Grease and flour a round 9”pan (easiest with a spring-form pan). Pour in the cake batter. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the cake is pulling away from the sides.

I know it is hard, but let it cool completely before frosting and eating. Gets better with age! ~

The results were sensational: a pleasantly fragrant and fruity cake, not too sweet, but dense and chewy. Just the way it should be. It got rave reviews and clean plates from the rest of the family. A job well done if I do say so! After such an eventful day, the only missing from this picture of happiness was to register to vote! I’ve had a SIN# in the States since birth, so it was easy to register to vote down there, but alas, the next election isn’t until 2012. And I was so looking forward to exercising my democratic rights. When one comes of age, you can vote, and be in a porno, which were both very exciting options, but I stuck with voting :P. I realized that I didn’t have a Canadian SIN#, so I will have to get one very soon so I can register to vote here. Because the elections happen whenever the parties want (a very odd policy, in my opinion. I like knowing we can get rid of people after four years, thank-you-very-much!), there is no set date for an election, but I bet there is a municipal one sooner or later! One can only hope!

All and all, I had a rather wonderful day. For some reason, people seem to enjoy saying “You are only 18 once”, but it is true of every other age as well! Undoubtedly this year will bring me closer to that elusive “health” and the pursuit of dreams beyond. <3