Brought to You by Orange

First of all, I apologize (again) for all the blog craziness that started yesterday.  As I mentioned in the previous dummy-post, I finally decided to move all of my content over to a private hosting account – that I’ve owned for a while now.

Unfortunately, none of the parties involved make it easy for you.  And as (I like to think) I’m  pretty good with tech & web stuff, there was no way I was going to pay over 100 dollars to get someone else to do the transfer for me.  It took a while, but I’m pretty sure everything is up and running by now – necessary plugins and all.  Nothing got lost, and everything is backed up.

On another note, I had hardly any work to do this weekend since I just finished the bulk of my midterms.  So I had a little bit of time to de-stress, which was quite nice.

Halloweekend, in pictures! [note numerous occurrences of the color orange…]

Starting the morning with green juice! and snow…

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It seems that now is the season for orange! Now starting with a now-to-me fruit: persimmons.  I’m not sure if I had ever tried a persimmon before, but they are easily a new favorite of mine.  I even tried both of the common varieties.  First up, the fuyu. Sliced up in a big bowl of oat groats.

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Next up, the hachiya.  Be careful if you buy these. They cannot be eaten when the are still hard – the astringency will dry out your mouth and make you feel sick, not fun.

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Instead, you have to wait until they are mushy, what would normally be considered over-ripe.  Then you can eat the flesh, but it’s impossible to cut up or bite into.  It comes out something like this:

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There were slices of failed (but tasty) kabocha pie.

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Snacks for solo adventure part 2! (click to see part one, the high line)

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Delicious flavor – I wish they made seasonal flavors all year round!

Dressed up and ready for this un-seasonally cold October.

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Destination…

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I walked around, and admired all the delicious food and pretty things.  I didn’t go to buy or eat anything, I just needed an excuse to get out of the room after the crazy snowstorm.

There was orange aplenty!

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And, I got a hot chocolate on the way out, to help with the cold weather.

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And, what would a free weekend be without some baking?

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Chocolate cupcakes, slightly modified from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, spiced buttercream from OhSheGlows.com.

And instead of buying halloween candy (avoiding crazy addicting processed sugars), I had a few bites of nature’s candy! And maybe a cupcake. Or two.

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Dates = natures candy. Natural sugar for the win.

How was your halloweekend? Was it full of orange?

For self-hosted bloggers – any advice/suggestions for a smooth-running site?

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A Sweet New Year

As I mentioned last Wednesday,  a week ago was Rosh Hashana – the Hebrew new year.  While I am generally not that religious, I really enjoy the culture that goes along with all the Jewish holidays.  Of course, that means mainly the gatherings, songs, and the food.

There are a few food traditions for the new year, some of which I love, and some that just do not appeal to me.  For example, it is a common practice to serve a fish head at the Rosh Hashanah meal, since it’s the ‘head’ of the year.  I’ve definitely never done that one, and never really care to.  Fish heads are not my thing.

The most common tradition, is to greet the new year with apples dipped in honey, as a sign of our wishes for a sweet new year.  I think even the least religious Jews I know always take part in this one.  It’s delicious, fun, and a great way to start thinking about a new year.

There are other traditions as well, but I’ll spare you the culture lesson for now.  [[click here if you want to read more!]] The one I chose to tackle was the traditional dessert – honey cake.  It is a sweet, moist loaf cake that has a distinct honey flavor, but is not overly sweet.  If done right, it is so simple and delicious.  My family does not have a honey cake recipe that has been passed down through the generations, so I though I would try to make my own.  I did a little research and recipe formulating.  I decided to go the authentic route, and make a simple, traditional honey cake – with my favorite whole food ingredients of course.

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Traditional Honey Cake

This thick, moist loaf cake has the rich taste of honey without being overly sweet.  It tastes fantastic on its own, with a cup of tea, or as a part of a tasty sweet breakfast. [[makes one 9×5 loaf]] prep time: 10-15 mins, cook time: 40-50 mins

Dry Ingredients:

  • 200g (about 2c) whole grain spelt flour
  • 1/4 c sucanat
  • 2-3 tsp spices – cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger
  • 1 tsp baking soda

Wet Ingredients:

  • 6T melted coconut oil
  • 3/4 c honey
  • 1/3 c apple juice
  • 3 large eggs at room temp, beaten

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350F (180C), and grease a 9X5 inch loaf pan.
  2. Combine all dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl until well combined, making sure there are no clumps in the flour.
  3. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, and add all the wet ingredients.  Mix by hand, with a whisk or wooden spoon, until the batter is smooth and clump-free.  The batter will be thin and liquid-y.
  4. Pour into the greased loaf pan and bake for about 45 minutes – turning the cake halfway through to make sure of even baking (if you have a not-so-great oven, like mine)
  5. When the cake is done, it will be caramel / golden brown in color, and a toothpick stuck in the center should come out clean.  Be careful not to over bake. It is better to be slightly moist and under-done than dried out.
  6. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes.  Let cool on a wire rack, then promptly wrap in aluminum foil.  Let the cake ‘mature’ wrapped in foil for at least a day – that way the honey really soaks in and all the flavors combine.

[[substitution notes: feel free to use any flour mix for cake, such as whole wheat pastry, etc.  I like the light texture and nutty flavor of spelt.  You can use brown or turbinado sugar if you do not have sucanat.  Feel free to use any neutral vegetable oil as well, but I’m a big fan of coconut oil.  For the spices, choose any mixture you like – cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, allspice.  I love adding freshly ground nutmeg, it adds a subtle richness to the cake.]]

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drippy honey cake batter - careful not to eat it as is, this one does have raw egg!

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straight out of the oven - caramel colored and perfectly collapsed a bit in the center (this is good!)

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sliced and served, day after, at a dinner with family, and a side of pumpkin butter. 🙂

Pumpkin butter is definitely not a Rosh Hashana tradition, but I was in the mood for a sweet autumn flavor to go with my honey cake.

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dark, spicy, rich, dreamy.

I made Angela’s Pumpkin Butter, but halved the recipe.  It filled one standard ball jar.  I’m still enjoying this with some of my breakfasts, coffee, and snacks.

I’m curious – anyone ever tried honey cake?

What are some of your favorite holiday foodie traditions?

Maker’s Day

Yesterday I went to one of the biggest, most amazing convention/festivals I had been to in a long time – the Maker Faire, in Flushing Meadows Park, in queens.  No, this festival had nothing to do with food or fitness. But so many people – myself included – forget that a healthy is not only about food and workouts.  We need balance, and fun, and that what my Saturday was about.

I forced myself to put aside the massive homework assignment I have due monday, because I would not have made much progress anyway.  Instead, I nerd-ed out all day, at a giant DIY fest.

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they handed out some free healthy snacks!

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I saw the 'Sashimi Tabernacle Choir'! Yes, these fish moved and sang.

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I boarded & toured the BioBus

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saw some awesome DIY contraptions, like this knockoff segway

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ogled at the amazing 3D printers

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so. cool!

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I learned how to pick a lock! ...watch out...

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almost bought a plate of the delicious-looking vegan paella - cooked in HUGE vats!

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yes, there was a fire-breathing dragon.

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does anyone remember Mouse Trap, the board game? This one is Life-Size.

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We also saw some awesome circus students perform

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these guys are so amazing strong!

It was a blast, and I don’t regret doing it.  Yes, I may be slightly more anxious now that I have less time to get my work done, be feel so much less guilt.  If I had stayed in and worked all day, and still not gotten anything done, I would have felt worse.

In the spirit of the Maker Faire, I did a little ‘making’ of my own. In the form of two loaves.

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super moist banana oat-bread

This came out super moist, not too sweet.  I’m not sure if I want to tweak it or not.

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dark chocolate loaf, light and not too sweet

This one was bitter and bread-like, not so much like cake – but the consistency is near perfect, and it cuts like a dream.

So, I’m leaving this one up to you:

Which would you rather see the recipe for first? Banana bread or Dark Chocolate Loaf?

I hope the weekend went well for everyone.  I think we are finally getting some real autumn weather around here.  Now I’m off to finish some homework, and maybe get a little sleep.  I will certainly try 😉

What kinds of festivals to you go to for fun?

Last Minute, Cookies and Fun

I’ve mentioned this before, but I love firsts! Which there were a lot of this week(end), and it was quite fun. I’m fully settled in my dorm, and loving it.  Since there are only two days (where did the time go??) before classes start, I have tried to fit in as many adventures as I could manage.

Christening the new oven with…. Donuts!

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rich and maple-y

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hey, they're glazed!

I used a combo of recipes for these, but I don’t think I like them enough to post.  Next time I’ll get it.

Amazing yogurt bowl combo, with puffed cereal! and figs!

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sigi's, chia gel, fresh figs, puffed cereal, cinnamon, and a drizzle of maple syrup

And, thanks to a last-minute invitation, guess where I finally went – for the first time…

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It was incredibly hot and muggy, but turned out to be an awesome day.

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we rode this guy, on one of the interior swinging cars. so disorienting.

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wave swinger! also really disorienting.

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rode the cyclone, twice. felt like I was going to die, twice. picture taken from the wave swinger.

After I got home from the park, I even had time to make some cookies to bring over to my relatives’ place that night! [recipe at the bottom]

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have I piqued your interest yet?

I followed the trend, and cracked open this season’s first can of pumpkin.  It’s just too good to wait!

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pumpkin oats, oat bran, chia, with spoonfuls of almond butter and sigi's, with cinnamon and a little maple syrup

Went to the best self-serve froyo place I know of…

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sorry for the lack of froyo photos. I was preoccupied with eating it.

And I made millet (!) for the first time.

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so light and fluffy

I followed Ashley’s directions for perfectly cooked millet, and it really was perfect.

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with roasted summer squash, tempeh and mustard sauce

Delicious dinner.  The dressing was an oil-free mustard ‘vinaigrette’:

  • 1T whole grain mustard
  • 1T seasoned rice vinegar
  • 3 stevia drops
  • splash of Bragg’s (or soy sauce, or other salt)

No way I forgot about the sweet stuff!!  This recipe was not at all planned – I made it completely on a whim.  And it turned out really good!  I’m not sure how accurate the baking time is, because I used a not-super-reliable dorm oven.  But these are rich. And chocolatey. Just Delicious.

Oatmeal Chocolate Super-Cookies (vegan)

makes about 10-12 cookies, 2″ diameter

  • 1/4 c spelt (or any) flour – GF works too
  • 1/2 c rolled oats
  • 1/4 c cocoa powder
  • 2-4 T sucanat or other dark granulated sugar(depending on how much sweetness you like)
  • 1/8 t salt
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1 flax/chia egg (1T ground seed + 3T water, soaked for 10ish mins)
  • 1/2 c almond butter
  • 3T liquid sweetener
  • 1/2 t vanilla extract (I’m using alcohol free, so may need adjustment)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 c non-dairy milk
  • optional add-ins, about 1/3 cup: cacao nibs, chopped nuts, seeds

Directions: Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.  In a medium mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients, making sure there are no clumps.  In a separate bowl combine all wet ingredients except the milk.

Add the wet to the dry, and add in the milk a bit at a time until you have a light, sticky dough.  Now add in your mix-ins – I used cacao nibs for that extra rich chocolate-y flavor.

Grease a cookie sheet, and spoon the dough in 1-2T clumps onto the greased sheet.  Bake for about 18-20 minutes at 350, depending on your oven.   Transfer to a cooling rack, let cool for about 10-15 minutes.  Or just eat them piping hot, right off the cookie sheet.

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the dough goes from this...

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... to this 🙂

As of now, I plan to spend my labor day relaxing before I have to switch to full-on school mode.

What’s your favorite kind of cookie? Are you a fan of home-baked, cafe-baked or store bought?