Black Hole Sorbet

Yikes. I think this dessert is dangerous. It gave me the fidgets. It made my teeth creepily black. It tasted so rich and chocolaty…

I adapted this recipe slightly from one I’d found online for a plain chocolate sorbet. Since I had recently purchased some black cocoa powder and chocolate extract, I subbed these for regular cocoa powder and vanilla extract. The result was so dark and rich that my boyfriend named it Black Hole Sorbet. And honestly? You only need one small scoop to be satisfied for the entire day. We mistakenly ate more (unknowingly, of course!) and were left with endless energy and buzzing insides. Unfortunately, I cannot remember where I found the recipe, so if anybody is interested, let me know and I will e-mail it to you. The wee bits of chocolate in this sorbet add a lovely “crunchy” texture.

Smells Like a Barbecue Pit, Baking, and Recipes

Sigh…my apartment smells like a barbecue pit. Why? Well, it’s my fault and it’s a funny story (which I will get to in a moment)…

First, I must admit that my boyfriend Tim and I rarely go out for dinner. I would guess that we take a night off from cooking once every few months, if that. Saturday just happened to be one of those rare occasions when we didn’t feel like cooking. Where did we go? To a small place called Blossoming Lotus. The restaurant (a cafe really) is located in the hipper/trendier section of Portland called the Pearl District. We don’t hang out in the Pearl District much because we are far from hip. Anyways, Blossoming Lotus is inside a yoga studio, so the environment is very calming. You don’t actually see the yoga classes in action, but you do have to take off your shoes in order to access the potties.

The cafe has an open kitchen and a 100% vegan menu that includes raw foods and desserts. So far so good, right? Hmpf. That’s what we thought too. We were seated promptly next to a window (making for awesome people-watching) and given menus. I forgot my camera, so there are no photos, but the website has pictures! The cafe was out of both the Eight Herb House Iced Tea and the Lavender Lemonade, so we had water. We ordered the Heavenly Hummus with raw flax crackers as an appetizer. Unfortunately, our hummus arrived after our main courses (and only when we politely asked our server for the second time “Where is our hummus?”). For the main meal, I ordered the Monk Bowl which had beans, rice, steamed kale and my choice of spicy peanut sauce or a ginger sauce…so hard to choose…until my server said I could have both! Cool. When my meal arrived, it only had the ginger sauce. Tim ordered the BBQ Tempeh Platter (which came with black bean chili, green salad & spicy corn bread). Both of our meals were good, Tim’s perhaps a bit more.

Since we were seated right next to the dessert case, it was hard to resist some vegan soft-serve and a piece of Live Strawberry Shortcake. The soft-serve had a lovely lemony-vanilla flavor which paired nicely with the shortcake. All in all, the food was decent, but the service was very slow and we were pretty much ignored. Maybe the servers sensed we never eat out? We aren’t hip enough? We don’t do yoga? I don’t know. Maybe we will give it a second chance…

Now the reason why our apartment smells like a barbecue pit:

After our dinner, a thunderstorm rolled in. Portland never gets thunderstorms. Tim and I both grew up along Lake Erie where thunderstorms are very common, so we really enjoyed listening to and watching the storm. It seemed like the perfect night for baking, so I made mini chocolate cupcakes (recipe halved from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World) with chocolate cream cheese frosting. While I was getting the ingredients out of the cupboard, I managed to knock over a bottle of liquid smoke seasoning. The bottle didn’t break, but the lid did, spilling liquidy yellow smoke flavor all over the floor. If you have ever used this stuff, you know that a wee drop will do…an entire bottle is extremely potent! We ended up having to mop the kitchen, wipe down cupboards, drawers and ourselves. To make matters worse, we couldn’t open the windows because the rain was falling sideways. The smell is slowly fading a day later…

I also made a Lemon Currant Granola with Sliced Almonds (recipe follows). I created this recipe after being intrigued by ATXVegn’s Earth Day post where she mentioned buying a bag of Lemon Currant Granola. Who doesn’t love lemons?! I have not had this with soy milk yet, but I did snack a bit on it, and it tastes very good!

Lemon Currant Granola with Sliced Almonds

2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/6 cup canola oil
1/4 cup agave nectar
1 T maple syrup
1 1/2 t lemon extract
1/2 t vanilla extract
1/2 t fresh lemon zest, optional
1/2 t cinnamon
pinch of salt
1/2 cup dried currants (or cranberries)

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
2. Stir together oats and sliced almonds. Add canola oil, agave nectar, and maple syrup. Add in extracts and lemon zest if using. Stir in cinnamon and salt.
3. Spread mixture onto a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until the granola is golden. It might be wise to stir/rotate pan halfway through baking.
4. Stir in the currants once the granola has been removed from the oven. Allow to cool before transferring to an airtight container.

The rain continued through Sunday morning and afternoon, so I made something I have been wanting to make for a long time: homemade graham crackers! Yep! I adapted this recipe from a backpacking/trail foods cookbook I borrowed from the library years ago called Simple Foods for the Pack. These are so tasty and simple to make. They take some time because you need to roll out the dough, but they are worth it! I promise.

Cinnamon Graham Crackers (I halved this recipe, and they turned out just fine)

3/4 cup vegan margarine
1/2 cup agave nectar
1 1/2 t vanilla extract
3 cups graham flour (or whole wheat flour)
1/2 cup raw wheat germ
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t baking powder
3/4 cup water

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
2. Beat margarine, agave nectar, and vanilla until fluffy.
3. Combine dry ingredients in a small bowl. Add dry ingredients alternately with water to the creamed mixture.
4. Roll out onto a floured surface to about a 1/4″ thickness. Cut into desired shapes and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Prick with a fork. I sprinkled mine with cinnamon-sugar, but you don’t have too. They just taste yummier this way!
5. Bake for about 20 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack.

Lastly, I baked bagels. I used a recipe from Happy Herbivore. These bagels were incredible! Seriously. The recipe is perfect because it makes four bagels, just right for two people. I made two sesame seed and two cinnamon-sugar bagels. Try this recipe! Go do it now! They are easy and have little rising time, so you can eat them faster. I have made several batches, including the everything bagels from the photo below:

That’s it. I need another graham cracker anyways!

A Bit of Backlog and Buns Take Two

I just realized that it has been quite some time since I had an actual food post. I guess I have been busy, though perhaps that is a silly excuse. I have definitely been making plenty of tasty meals and treats, but not taking too many pictures. What follows are photos I did manage to take of some of my favorite meals from the past week.

I recently purchased Skinny Bitch in the Kitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin. I love the writing style of these two women…they make me laugh, a lot! Flipping through the pages, I came across a simple and appealing recipe (which also happened to be delicious!) -¬†Steamed Veggies and Tofu with Brown Rice.

Over this past weekend, I made a dinner consisting of produce in my fridge that was creeping up on expiration. I don’t have a name for this meal, but here is what it consisted of: whole grain couscous with red chard, marinated portobellos, a dollop of basil pesto, and slivered almonds. Yes, I know that sounds like a weird combination, but it was really good! It was also quick to prepare (minus the marinating) and filling. I don’t usually enjoy eating the same meal two nights in a row, but this meal was an exception (so was the previous meal pictured above…maybe I am becoming more tolerant of leftovers?!).

And now some dessert! It reached about 95 degrees in Portland on Saturday…too hot for me! I was outside for awhile and then retreated indoors to make a cooling treat: Banana-Berry Sorbet. I put a cup of frozen raspberries and two chopped frozen bananas into my food processor and blended them until smooth. I then added enough Strawberry-Banana VitaSoy to make a nice consistency. I transferred this mixture to a freezer-safe container and let it firm up for about an hour. All I can say is, this really cooled me off and made me happy! I liked that it wasn’t super sweet, but refreshing instead! Plus, it was incredibly simple to make.

Oh! I almost forgot! The buns! My boyfriend made his second batch of Celine’s awesome buns. These turned out beautifully. They were a might bit monstrous (meaning really BIG), but that is because Tim has some unexplainable relationship with yeast. He talks to it, and that helps create the craziest dough I have ever seen (in about 30 minutes or less!!! It’s true!). The buns are an integral component of a birthday meal I am making for my good friend. I am planning on taking pictures of the food tomorrow night, so there may be a future post with all the goodness. I’ll say goodnight with a picture of some fine buns:

Who’s the Big Winner?!

First off, I would like to thank everybody who left a comment on their favorite sea creature. Reading the responses made me realize that it isn’t easy to pick a favorite! All creatures of the sea are equally amazing, fascinating, and worth celebrating. When World Ocean Day rolls around on June 8th, let’s remember to honor sea horses, starfish, manatees, jelly fish, coral, turtles, and all those in between! By the way, my favorite creature of the sea is the whale. I had the opportunity to see whales migrating in the Pacific Ocean several years back, and it was absolutely incredible. There is a great book (a bit crazy and very funny) called “Fluke” written by Christopher Moore. I recommend reading it, as long as you aren’t offended by weird humor…

And now, the winner(s)…I decided to choose two people to receive cookies because presents in the mail are a lot of fun! I wrote each person’s name on a piece of paper and put them in a bowl. I randomly pulled out two names…

1. Jamie, who picked the starfish (one of my favorites too!)

2. Rural Vegan, who picked sea otters (I love their whiskers!)

Hooray for the winners! All you two need to do is e-mail me with your address, and you should expect a package of homemade vegan cookies really soon! Be excited!

Thanks again to everybody for participating. Until next time…

Starfish on the Oregon coast

A rock with a hole, in the Pacific Ocean (where lots of lovely sea creatures live!)

For the Sea Lions…and a Giveaway

This is a very sad post (with a happy giveaway at the end). Sometimes life can be fulfilling, and other times you just want to sink into a hole and hide (well I do anyway). I am not sure how many of you have heard about the deaths of seven sea lions here in Oregon, on the Columbia River, but the news is a shock to animal lovers. To save myself from having to type out the details, you can read the news stories with these links (here and here). This really breaks me to pieces, and brings to light how cruel and heartless and greedy some people in our world are. While there have been continual updates and rotating theories on how these sea lions died, the truth is, they would not have died if they were not in traps.

UPDATE: THE LATEST NEWS ON THE SEA LIONS- IT TURNS OUT THAT THE SEA LIONS DIED FROM HEAT EXHAUSTION, WHICH COULD HAVE BEEN EASILY PREVENTED IF THEY HAD NOT BEEN CAUGHT IN TRAPS (WHICH INCIDENTALLY, WERE SUPPOSED TO BE “HUMANE” TRAPS).

My first close encounter with sea lions occurred when I was living and traveling around New Zealand for a year. My boyfriend and I had made our way to the South Island, near Invercargill, and were walking along the coast. Watching the waves, we could see this wobbly, bobbing shape coming toward us…what was it? A sea lion! It was coming to rest in the sand. It was awesome watching the sea lion slowly cruise along the sand to a cozy spot. There was no fear from the animal toward us, nor us toward the animal. But, there was a connection (of course!). After a few moments, two or three more sea lions emerged from the water and dragged themselves to rest. Smelly as they were, it was hard to walk away…

When I am depressed for any reason, I turn to baking, which is my solace (whether I am happy or sad). So, in honor of these passing sea lions, and in salute to World Ocean Day on June 8th (the link below might actually be for last year’s World Ocean Day, but still!), I am having a giveaway! Yep. Free stuff!

All you lovely readers have to do is leave a comment about your favorite sea creature (in keeping with the World Ocean Day theme). Make sure to leave your comment by Friday, May 16th (midnight Pacific Standard Time). I will randomly select a comment, and the winner will receive a variety of homemade vegan cookies!! Cookies make me happy, as I have mentioned in previous posts. So, cookies ought to make others happy as well, right?! The whole idea of this giveaway is simply to honor these sea lions, and all animals whose lives are taken from them unjustly. OK? OK!