I love todays 'instant on' world but idealism of the 70's housewife remains....so in my spare time I crafternoon tea. http://about.me/vanessathomps/
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March 10, 2013
The last few months have been wonderful. I am settling in well to San Francisco and following through on my mantra of going to a new suburb/destination store every weekend. It has been so much fun exploring but suffice it to say, my blog really has suffered! After a wonderful hike through the Tilden Regional Park (up the hill from Berkeley) I felt inspired to come home and make something healthful to satisfy my need for sustenance. Over the past few weeks I have been reading through the petite kitchen blog and found some wonderful recipes. It is great to see recipes from home and now that I have been in the US for a while, I am getting used to what ingredients are in abundance and what I need to substitute in the kiwi recipes. These cookies were originally lemon pecan cookies but I had limes and almond butter so it made for a nice substitution.
just under 1 cup wholemeal flour (you could use almond meal for gluten free)
4 tbsp organic almond butter (you can use any type of nut butter)
1/2 cup shredded coconut
4 tbsp honey
zest of 1 lime
juice of half a lime
1/2 tsp baking soda
a pinch of sea salt
Preheat the oven to 350°F, and grease a baking tray with coconut oil or line with baking paper.
In a food processor add flour, almond butter, honey, shredded coconut, rind, lime juice, baking soda and a pinch of salt. Process until a dough like texture is achieved. You may need to scrape down the sides a little.
Using your hands (I like to dip them in to water a little to prevent from sticking) form small balls and place them on to the baking paper, a couple of centimeters apart as they expand a little.
Using a fork (you can also dip this in water to prevent from sticking) press down on each ball to flatten in half.
Place in to the oven and bake for 6-8 minutes or until nice and golden on the outside. Leave to cool completely.
Makes around 25 cookies, they keep for around 3-4 days in an airtight container.
For my first US christmas, I went all out to make sure it was white. Winging across to Denver on christmas eve I was launched into festivities with food, fun and family. The christmas eve gathering was big with nearly twenty so much bigger than my usual family gatherings. It was brilliant, we had a laugh with the grandparents, watched some VHS footage from the 90’s and all jostled for position in the white elephant. To top off the evening it snowed!
When thinking about embarking on my christmas adventure, I was acutely aware that I really wanted to make a contribution by making a cake. Based on my recent vegan, no sugar ways, I wanted to make an effort to replicate nanas xmas cake with a few substitutions. We ate the cake on xmas morning and as fruit cake is not a normal tradition, I was happy to have introduced something new to the family in the holiday season.
Nanas woolies cake
1kg dried fruit chopped (four packets of trader joe’s dried sultanas, cranberries and blueberries)
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup brandy (nana uses sherry)
Zest of lemon
200gm vegan butter (earth balance)
3/4 cup agave sweetener
1 tsp organic vanilla essence
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
Preheat oven to 300degF and line a 23’ springform tin with parchment paper.
Put fruit, zest, walnuts and brandy in a bowl, cover and leave in the fridge. Overnight is best. Cream butter and agave. Add eggs one at a time. Stir in remaining ingredients. Decorate with fruit and nuts.
Bake for an hour or longer if needed.
Thank you to the Stines family for a wonderful ‘White’ christmas!
Being Christmas party season it is always great to attend christmas parties, reflect on the year that was, remember moments that you shared with old or new friends and look forward to the new year. This years work Christmas function is catered but there happens to be a dessert competition!
One of my favourite things about the parties is always the food. While it is lovely to eat at wonderful restaurants (i was lucky enough to go to cotogna yesterday) there is nothing better than the satisfaction of contributing something you have made yourself. After a long and busy day, I knew there wasnt an option for me to buy a dessert for the work christmas party. I mozied off to Trader Joes in the hope that there was a pre prepared graham cracker base and I would just simply whip up chocolate filling and plonk it in. No such luck.
Armed with graham crackers and a full suite ingredients, i set out to make a vegan, no sugar pie. I think about the combination of words I just used but I swear this pie is worth it.
Graham Cracker Base
2/3 of a box of graham crackers (about 9oz)
4 Tablespoons vegan margarine (Like Earth Balance)
3 Tablespoons unsweetened almond milk
Combine all ingredients; press over bottom and up sides of 9-inch pie plate. Bake at 375° for 10 minutes.
3 cups unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup agave syrup
3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tablespoon peanut butter
1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
raspberries for garnish
In a small saucepan off the heat, combine 1 cup of almond milk with the cornstarch. Whisk together until cornstarch is completely dissolved. Put on the heat while whisking lightly, add peanut butter and agave and combine. Whisk in the remaining almond milk and cocoa powder. The cocoa will be clumpy at first, but will cook down during the process.
Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking occasionally. Reduce heat to low and bring to a rolling boil. Cook for 7 minutes, stirring constantly, until mixture has reached a pudding like consistency and add vanilla extract. Pour the pudding into the cooled pie crust and lightly tap the sides of the pan to release any air bubbles. Let cool for 5 minutes.
Cover pudding pie with a piece of parchment paper to prevent film from forming. Cool for 10 more minutes at room temperature.
Move to refrigerator and chill for at least 3 hours, even better, over night!
After three months in a suitcase I have FINALLY got myself an apartment in San Francisco. To be honest it is all a bit surreal right now as I started to find comfort in living lean and portable and from homes to hotels. Now that I am starting to explore my new city and my new neighborhood has twigged some influences of the food culture. The one that stands out the most is the Steve Jobs vegan influence. Wholefoods is the bourgeois everything organic and interesting store but there are also a whole set of local vegan slash organic providers that supply to the local marts. I got a few bits for the vegan carrot cake from my local mayflower market and other than the fact that they have a great range of everything, they are just a nice bunch of people.
Please excuse the pic as the cake was in my bag on its way to dinner at my colleagues place. She kindly offered I stay over as we both had to take an all day call at 5.30am (yikes)
Vegan Carrot Cake
1 1/2 cups standard flour (you could use whole spelt flour)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 cups grated carrots (actually just a bit more)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (I used a little more)
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
1/2 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
3/4 cup Walnuts
Pre-heat oven to 330degF and line your cake tin. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and spices into a large bowl; use a whisk to stir well.
In another bowl combine the olive oil, maple syrup, almond milk, vanilla, whisk until emulsified and stir in the grated carrots (I added a few more carrots and it was all ok). The recipe also calls for a dash of salt here but the cake was a little salty so I left it off.
Then pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until just combined. Fold in Walnuts and then pour into your cake tin. Note that it won’t rise like a normal flour cake so if it is all the way to the top that is fine :)
Place in oven and bake for an hour. Remove from oven and allow to cool a little before transferring to a wire to cool completely.
Dont forget the glaze…. My lovely hosts whipped up a glaze as topping that went particularly well with the cake.
A shot Rye Whiskey
1 cup Confectioners Sugar
squeeze of Lemon
enough water to make a syrup
Place all ingredients in a saucepan and simmer off until slightly thickening.
Pour the glaze generously over the cake and sprinkle with extra walnuts if you have them!
I have broken a promise I made to myself to write in my blog at least once a month. August was spent in what my soon to be new home, the US. From the fall I will be there on a more permanent basis but for now I am back and forth visiting, scoping out the neighborhood and meeting colleagues I will soon be working with. During the month, I exchanged blogging about food and my surroundings to just taking it in and figuring out what the transition will be like. When I settle back in to my new home I have no doubt that there will be plenty of things to blog about, especially since my blog idol Heidi from 101 cookbooks lives in the city I am moving too.
During my stay I did manage to whip up some cookies after being inspired by snacking on a snickerdoodle. Wow cinnamon in a shortbread style cookie is totally yummy but I had a craving for chocolate chip cookies…Hitting up the all recipes app “best chocolate cookies” popped up. The sceptic that I am made me think they were a bit full of it but with a description of crisp edges, chewy middles and a stack of great user ratings go a long way so I tried it. They weren’t quite verbatim ”best chocolate cookies” but they were still pretty awesome.
Best ever cookies, with a few extras
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons hot water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Cream together the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Dissolve baking soda in hot water. Add to batter along with salt. Stir in flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, and chocolate chips. Drop by large spoonfuls onto ungreased pans.
Bake for about 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are nicely browned.
So the time has come for me to pack up and ship out of the fine city of Sydney.
My entire morning was spent at the US consulate in an overwhelming – welcome to your new life – sort of moment. The whole experience was surreal and satisfying all at the same time. The security line just to get to reception was an hour long, the queue to get through the first checkpoint was a good half hour, the pre-interview ticket queue was a speedy 15min, the interview queue was about an hour and the interview itself was about 2 minutes. I am still struggling to work through the feelings and emotions about the whole ordeal – or more just that I am a bit sad to be leaving Sydney. After a long while of having no idea if I even liked it or not – I finally decided that I really do. I guess it is one of those places you just have to get to know the nooks and crannies!
The penultimate evening was spent the way that I like it – a home cooked meal. The other reason why this evening was random and special was that it included a few items that needed using up from my food cupboard. Enter My-T-Fine. It seems like a fitting end to a nice 18 month chapter in my life. I am looking forward to my many new adventures and I cant wait to write about them!
The Vivid festival is an annual event here in Sydney where city buildings are transformed into the back drop for graphics to be projected onto them. The scale of it is pretty amazing really, there was a picture of a woman being projected onto the entire side of the opera house! While the festival is named after the lights, it is just one part of the wider vivid festival, branded ‘Where art, commerce and technology meet’. I took a look at the series of ideas workshops being hosted at the MCA and spotted a talk and panel session with Jake Nickel the founder of ‘Threadless’. Jake was great, a self confessed petrified public speaker but he did a really good job. He told his story through anecdotes of how to bring creativity into every day of your life. Every anecdote had the term MAKE in it with the overarching topic being ‘the universal human need to MAKE’.
I went to the talk to understand an adjacent and outside perspective on managing or ‘doing’ innovation as I am going to be writing a lot about this in my new job. Something I didn’t expect was to leave feeling a small sense of achievement from things I have been doing most of my life. and you know what, it felt good. I don’t have a MAKE everyday mantra, but I do have an everyday ideal where I will do something I haven’t done before, try something new or indeed MAKE. It might be walking a different route to the office, trying a new coffee shop, preparing a meal I haven’t cooked before. In todays case making another iPad case. My last iPad case has had quite a bit of wear and I felt like it was time for a more winter type arrangement. Having some swanndri fabric left over from the jacket I recently MADE was ideal so now to explain the doing.
Cut 2 large pieces of card around the edges of the iPad so that the card pieces are the same size as the iPad. Place the card lengthways on top of the fabric and lay the second piece of card next to it with a 1cm seam in the middle. Leave a 1cm seam around three of the sides and on the final side (a short seam) leave a 12cm seam. This long flap will be used as the fold over and the bottom of the stand.
Cut out 2 triangle pieces of fabric and turn in one seam. These will be used as the corner casings. The fabric will be in the shape of a rectangle so place the corner casings on the top edges of the rectangle and place the right sides of the fabric together. Make sure the right sides of the fabric are together and the casings are in the middle. Sew around the three seams leaving the last seam open. Snip the corners and turn through.
Insert the card lengthways, it should just slot into place but if there is too much room just make the seams a bit smaller on the inside. Sew a dividing seam along the first piece of card and slot in the second piece of card. Sew another dividing seam. Now for the flap.
Attach the ring side of the velcro to the inside seam toward the end of the flap, you should be able to stitch this in place without the stitching showing on the outside. I used stick on velcro that makes life a whole lot easier. Turn the top seams under and stitch together. The only thing left now is to attach two pieces of velcro on the front of the case. Place the iPad inside the case and lay the case flat (picture). Attach the soft side of the velcro to the ring side and reveal the sticky side of the velcro. Carefully pull the velcro over the top of the case so that it attaches to the underside (this is the velcro toward the middle in the picture). Cut another velcro piece of similar length and place it at the very edge - this will serve as the stand part. I hand stitched these final pieces of velcro down to make sure they stayed in place.
Okey there we go - another weekend goes by an another thing MADE
It has started to get cold in Sydney, I don’t mean just cold - I mean COLD! With all the moisture in the air, 14degC at 530am feels like its less than 10degC. I know I shouldn’t really be complaining as I lived in Wellington for many years but I have definitely become accustomed to the warmer climate. It is weird weather really because you don’t need a massive warm jacket but a waterproof coat just doesnt cut the mustard. Thinking through the options, I resorted to my fabric box and whipped out my swanndri material.
‘Swannies’ or the swanndri is a waterproof, woollen bush shirt that is synonymous with kiwi farming. The swanndri has been around since 1913 and if you asked any kiwi, they will be sure to know. I needed a jacket that would keep me warm but weather the random scattered showers that frequent sydney. Something made from swanndri fabric was perfect.
I cut the pattern off a comfy old Huffer hoodie to make sure I stuck with the casual swanndri style. Oh and kept the comfy-ness factor. I doubled the material to make it a little thicker (the material I had was relatively thin and I wanted something a little more durable). I allowed a 1.5cm seam and just cut the shape as if I was making a hoodie. Back, 2 x front pieces, sleeves and hood.
I won’t bore you with a long winded process because it was just so simple. I followed the cardinal process of sewing. First I put together the hood and french seamed the front sections. I often french seam if I don’t want a raw edge, the finish is so much nicer. Next came the shoulder seams, followed by sleeve casings, underarms and side seams. I attached the hood in 2 parts, first to the inside seam of the jacket and the finishing seam for the hood was turned over on the underneath of the hood.
I considered finishing the hems on the sleeves and the waistband but they looked really great flat and exposed - so i just didn’t!
There is my salute to KiwiLand - I will need a few more as I get ready to pack up my life and move countries - again - very soon. Looking forward to the adventures and challenges that come with a new city and new country. More on that soon in any case. Id love to hear your thoughts - what should I make next. I am thinking a matching swanndri iPad cover?!