Thursday was a day much like any other, except for the fact that I was born a few decades ago and people like to celebrate that sort of thing. I couldn’t figure out why Man-thing looked so giddy when I groggily opened my eyes that morning until he wished me a happy birthday. In order to overcome my apathy I decided to view that day as I would those which actually excite me, such as the very noble world cupcake day – an excuse to gather people together in an enclosed environment and make something they must at least take a bite of. >:) If I had a cape I would wear it in the kitchen for such moments, but as it is I am barely able to put an apron off and end up making a sad mess of myself. Still, elegance can be a trait of aging – a gradual process :p
Because I am slightly compulsive I also figured was a good opportunity to tick something else off of my to-do list: the ominous lentil loaf. There are so many wonderful recipes out there, so unique and vibrant, that it’s difficult to see the woods for the trees, or some such. Many of these recipes also rely heavily on nuts (cups and cups of the stuff!) or bread stuffing, which sounds yummy but is not always suited to everyone’s health requirements. Since my SIL’s own man, Foxtrot, is an avid cyclist (as in 100s of kms!) and tries to avoid starches, I decided to scour the web for recipes that weren’t reliant on too much (or any!) bread or unnecessary gluten. I’m also finding that I have much more energy when I also lessen the amount of carbs I eat, and I like to have my nuts where I can see them and can control my portions. Yes, I need lots of healthy fats, but eating x5 my daily intake in one slice of nom is also a bit much, especially considering my birthday cake was brimming with lovely cashews!
I based my recipe on that of the Simple Veganista – straight-forward, no-nonsense and oh so delicious! My only changes were to sub the pepper for grated marrows and I also added a handful of chopped basil for its beautiful taste. It really came out rather spectacular for a first run! Next time I’ll go wild with mods – some raisins, nuts, etc, but I wanted something everyone could enjoy, or at least taste without horror. :p My MIL was very complimentary, but that might also have been because it was my birthday!
Next time I’ll also make a lovely gravy to go atop the loaf – there wasn’t time – but even without the spicy tang of the blushing soy tomato glaze is just enough to give a pleasant shock to the tongue.
For my cake I decided to try out something wonderful-sounding – a buckwheat & almond cake from over at My Inspiration. I’ve been reading up quite a lot of buckwheat lately and have been sorely tempted by all the wonderful recipes out there, not to mention the fact that there area actual awesome blogs dedicated to this unique ingredient. I tried buckwheat for the first time yesterday in an epic fail to make avocado pancakes (there’s a reason I haven’t posted a success story), but the smell and texture was so wild I decided to brave it and make the recipe, since the accompanying date oozy business as wet ingredients just sounded delightful. Buckwheat is used in so many raw recipes that I got Man-thing to buy me some flour the other day, and only afterwards, upon making my own pilgrimage, did I discover the whole version that requires soaking and all that. Nevertheless, I think it’s a good alternative to using just almond flour or oats in raw recipes. 🙂 It’s also rather nutritious (understatement), being that it is a good source of magnesium, does not seem to throw sugar levels out of whack (yay for diabetics!), is gluten-free, and contains a goodly amount of fiber and protein. Yikes, compared to a “grain” I’m not at all productive in the larger scheme of things! :p
Mods (very few!):
- 1 TBSP agave instead of maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla essence and 1 tsp rose water instead of almond extract (none on hand!)
- 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/3 – 1/2 cup organic carrot juice – the buckwheat mixture is a bit thick and I always get freaked out at dense cake batters. Plus, I love adding carrot juice to cake recipes – it really makes for a delicious undertone and lightens it all up.
Since the stores have upped the price of strawberries, and because I have so many cashews, I decided to make some of the cashew cream as found on the Rawsome Life blog of temptation. I had originally planned on making whole cranberry bliss bars in the fullness of the recipe, but decided on a more “traditional” cake base since my dad and co are rather fussy and pull faces at my “weird” food. I’ll still make it one day, but I think I need to slowly integrate raw foods and goods in company rather than dashing it all at once and upsetting their delicate sensibilities.
As always, when making a cashew frosting, I soak my cashews overnight. I boiled some water and also placed two teabags in the container to infuse the cashews with their loveliness – a straight-up cinnamon tea and a cinnamon & spiced apple tea that I got from pal Charlene for the holidays past. Yum! Even the smell is intoxicating 😀
I also upset HRH le cat with my snap-taking. I’ve finally found a small patch of light that seems to work nicely, but it happens to be right at his spot by the window (he has a stand and everything). I move the stand to take the photos and then move everything back, but his displeasure at the upset of the Zen is very evident, as is his curiosity.
Alas, I iced the cake at my in-laws and only took back a slice to take a snap of, but swirling chocolate on top of anything is great fun 😀
The buckwheat flour is certainly very different from what I usually work with – it’s a lot drier in some ways and doesn’t absorb moisture in the batter as easily as fine rye flour, IMO, which stays squidge for a while. Still, the taste is very strange but lovely – would adore to make a porridge out of the groats!
From Man-thing and my in-laws I got an awesome set of knives and kitchen scissors. I’ve been moaning and making a fuss about my blunt knives, which couldn’t cut a tomato without pulping it, and I wasn’t actually hinting but I got some lovelies nonetheless! I am so excited because having the right tools can make a world of difference in the kitchen. I think I’ve made myself a pretty easy person to get presents for, even though I never think I deserve them (dear Santa, I’ve been terribly naughty…).
Anyhow! That was Thursday. As you may have noticed, it is Saturday today (gasp). I woke up at the crack of dawn to go to the farmer’s market to buy some flowers and also to spend some time with my aunt and uncle, who I see very irregularly since moving, getting married and blah blah. It is also for that reason which I decided to host a small gathering for some lady friends, since I’ve realized how easy it is to lose contact or to only sporadically get together for a chill session. Sometime’s life can get in the way of life!
My undercover theme was flowers, since I found the most delightful dried edible flowers in the shops, and also because my trip to the market was inspiring. There’s always a bustle of people and then these nuggets of plant life just begging to be taken home. Unfortunately plants are like cats – I first have to discuss it with Man-thing before I go wild. We’re getting workers in this week to finally pave our garden, because there’s so little sun it never has any grass, and that way we can then sit outside and start to work on accumulating more plants (and hopfeully a small herb patch where things may grow). In fact, I got an awesome starter from Lize – a lovely Thyme bush!
For today’s get-together I managed to make a host of small little bites: some fresh seedless grapes from the market, baby tomatoes, celery sticks, carrot hummus, as well as some other snacks. I made some coastal crackers for the hummus and then some lovely quinoa pizza balls by Ricki Heller – so delicious! I served them up with my sister-in-law’s divine spicy vegan-friendly chutney which was just a yummy combination. I also added some chopped basil and spinach to the quinoa pizza balls in place of the other fresh herbs which I didn’t have around, but these make my soul happy thanks to the protein kick.
But wait, you ask, was there not cake? Ahem. Yes. Alas, by the time all was said and done it was polished before I could take a snap. But it was good, promise! I made the carrot-juice modified version of Vegan Richa’s spiced apple cake with an chocolate avo icing. Yum! So…here’s a picture or two where you can use some creative thinking 😉
I was so happy that almost all the snacks and stuff was chowed – such a relief to have a near-empty fridge again! Also, it’s really wonderful to get together with people and just relax. My people-phobia is not what it used to be so these little gatherings help to test my resolve, and it’s great when it turns out there’s nothing to stress about because everyone is also a human who may not always have the capacity to socialize with others in an optimal manner. These lasses, however, are awesome. Also, although I clearly specified no gifts, I still got some beautiful shiny, such as some wooden cutlery I’ve been eyeing, a very cool “his & hers” ice-cream set, some amazing butternut, eggplant and giant zucchini out of a friend’s vegetable garden, as well as some absolutely rad salt & pepper shakers, among other things.
All in all, a wonderful few days! One sometimes gets swept up in moments where you realize how blessed you are just by having such awesome creatures for friends and family – people who don’t run away screaming! 😀 ❤