An Outstanding October | Baking and Life

FullSizeRender.jpeg
Breakfast this morning – roasted butternut squash with cinnamon, truffled green beans, 2 scrambled eggs with truffled Gouda, 2 pieces halloumi, roasted brussels sprouts with parmesan // homemade almond milk hot chocolate

This month has been really lovely so far. I am pretty busy with my classes, and have a lot of school work and communication to keep up with. Now that midterms are over, I am happy to have some time to relax and get a head start on studying for the second round of midterms.

Yesterday, I baked chocolate chip banana squares. Since there were five ripe bananas calling my name, I settled on this recipe, which featured five bananas. I adjusted the amounts of flour and added some oats. They turned out AMAZING – I ate two this morning for breakfast after scrambled eggs and veggies. These banana chocolate chip squares are really tender, and satisfy my sweet tooth without being too sweet. I hope you give the recipe a shot!

Five-Banana Chocolate Chip Squares

Inspired by this recipe

Makes 16 squares

INGREDIENTS

  • 5 overripe bananas
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 cup quick oats
  • 3/4 cup almond meal
  • 1 heaping tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Put parchment paper on a 9×9 pan.
  2. Place bananas, honey, butter, eggs, and vanilla in a blender. Blend completely and pour into large bowl.
  3. Mix in dry ingredients and chocolate chips.
  4. Bake 30 minutes, until a knife comes out clean.
  5. Cool completely. Cut into 16 squares.

When I found myself with an extra baked sweet potato, I took off the skin and pureed it, then used it in this great recipe for sweet potato baked oats. They turned out fantastic, and had so much flavour. I’m having fun modifying this base recipe (1.3 cups oats, 1 cup liquid) to try different things. I recently tried this with pumpkin puree instead of sweet potato puree, and steeped the almond milk in chai tea leaves for a great pumpkin-chai fall baked oatmeal.

Healthy Sweet Potato Baked Oatmeal

4 servings

  • 1 and 1/3 cups quick oats
  • 1 heaping tsp cinnamon
  • scant 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup sweet potato puree (1 medium sweet potato)
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 tbsp melted butter (optional)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Mix all and bake in 8×8 pan for 25 mins at 350 degrees.


One final baking adventure – I had lots of leftover carrots from making Thai green curry, and thought it would be really nice to bake them up into squares. These turned out great – just sweet enough, and loaded with fall flavour. They froze very well.

Apple-Carrot Squares

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1 cup quick oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 heaping teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 3 single-serve containers of unsweetened applesauce
  • 3 shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Whisk all wet ingredients.
  3. Whisk all dry ingredients in a separate bowl.
  4. Whisk wet mixture into dry mixture.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Smooth the top. Bake the loaf for 45 to 50 minutes. Place the pan on a cooling rack, then let the bread cool in the pan. Gently turn the loaf out onto the rack to cool completely.
  6. Store leftover pumpkin bread in an airtight container lined with paper towels for up to 4 days at room temperature or 7 days in the refrigerator. It can be frozen, wrapped tightly and placed in a ziptop bag, for up to 3 months.

Things from recently:

  • trying to get tickets to Corteo, which is coming to Toronto soon
  • shopping lists
  • choreography ideas
  • recipe for chocolate quinoa breakfast bowl, which I have yet to make
  • new Netflix show on figure skating
  • study schedules
  • ways to learn

Seline and I had lunch at Taco Farm one day, and I had a lovely plate of enchiladas with Mexican rice, arugula salad with pineapples, and sour cream. Seline enjoyed her brunch poutine – a lovely dish of chorizo, veggies, and a fried egg.

Afterwards, we spent some quiet study time at Seven Shores Cafe, where I had a great pumpkin spice chai latte and a vegan chocolate chip cranberry muffin. Seven Shores has the best creative baked goods, and I cannot wait to have their sunflower butter cookie. One day…

 

Another day, another brunch – here, Seline and I savoured meals at Sole. I had the vegetable crepe, which was loaded with spinach, kale, mushrooms, and goat cheese, then topped with a vodka spaghetti sauce and zucchini/squash ribbons. The best part? Fresh pastries – banana bread and pumpkin seed muffins – before the meal. I love pastries as you can see.

 

Random things from here and there:

  • spaghetti squash with Thai green curried vegetables
  • Mom’s homemade cranberry chocolate cookies
  • drew some anatomical structures on Seline!

 

Seline and I LOVE Red House, a restaurant in Uptown Waterloo. Here, I had a beautiful turkey sandwich on potato chive bread (butternut squash aioli was to die for) and a bowl of caramelized onion and golden beet soup. For dessert, I enjoyed the deconstructed lemon meringue pie, which had white chocolate mousse, berry compute, sugar cookie – which I believe should’ve been puff pastry – and lemon curd. Seline had the truffled lamb spaghetti.

 

Snapshots from aerial silks recently.

 

Attending a fun conference at the University of Waterloo!

 

And bits and pieces of volunteering, the fall term with cooler weather, and school stuff. Plus EYE MAKEUP (?!) that my sister experimented on me, for my aerial silks showcase performance.

 

Things from my Notes on my computer.

 

And a couple tasty meals.

 

That’s all I have for ya – wish I could share something more exciting, but every day has just been school, home, school, home, etc. Have a lovely rest of the week!

October | Sky-High Carrot Cake

Hello! Short post today, because I have a couple emails to write and some schoolwork to catch up on. It is really crazy how quickly my courses are progressing, now that I’m in a number of upper-level kinesiology courses. I’ve learned so much in the three-ish weeks of school that we’ve had so far.

  • AWESOME pic that one of my friends shared on FB. Credit to the artist; unfortunately I couldn’t find his or her name. I like this piece because it shows which animals the poses are named for. I particularly like the peacock and the locust.
  • Bubble tea at CoCo is on sale until the end of November, so I will have to make sure my sister and I get some!
  • Mom made Caprese salad at home in BC, because she bought some new balsamic vinegar. It looks so good! I love that combo of flavours.
  • Campus on a sunny afternoon
  • Images from Nutrition in Disguise, one of the research groups that I’m involved with
  • And more…

Seline and I had a meal at Symposium last Sunday. It was my first time at Symposium Cafe, but I’ve heard too many good things about their cake to miss out. I devoured the whole thick slice of SKY-HIGH CARROT CAKE, and Seline had the triple chocolate cake. After this lovely meal, I went to my friend’s house for a potluck.

Symposium Cafe Mediterranean salad with salmon // sky-high carrot cake

Another day, Sal and I went to Red House. Red House is one of my favourite Waterloo spots. They have phenomenal salads, soups, pastas, and entrees. Their desserts are always seasonal, and really unique. This time, I had the butternut squash and coconut soup, followed by fried polenta cubes with a beet and goat cheese salad. For dessert, Seline and I shared two: apple crisp with sharp cheddar ice cream and a unique white chocolate cheesecake with Oreo crust and stewed strawberries and figs.

Ennio’s noodles with gorgonzola sauce, seasonal vegetables, roasted garlic (unpictured, but quite tasty) // bread pudding with Nutella, vanilla ice cream

Hands-down the BEST bread pudding I have ever eaten in my life.

I had a midterm last week, and a few more coming up. A lot of studying needs to be done!

The Halloween showcase at Brass Butterflies aerial studio is coming up, and I have been procrastinating on practicing. I need to get back into working on improving my endurance.

IMG_4330

A quick video from aerials:

And some pics that Seline helped me take for my Instagram. I made an Instagram for my job, because I’m working as a Waterloo Warriors Recreation Ambassador this term. So if you’re reading this, you can follow me too. 😉 _cindywei

Things that scare me but I’m doing them anyways this term:

  • research
  • starting a club
  • presenting in front of lecture halls of first-year students
  • aerial performance
  • skating competition
  • teaching a yoga class

Random meal from recently:

  1. Seline’s steak with potatoes, sautéed green beans, and onions
  2. Veggie bean chili with cheddar and fig goat cheese
  3. Vegetable cheddar enchiladas with roasted delicata squash
  4. Quiche with sautéed green beans

More randomness:

  1. Saw this stunning image of rice paddies on Twitter (or Reddit?), and it made me think of the time that I took a bus from Kathmandu to Pokhara, riding past miles of rice paddies. Absolutely incredible, and even more so in person.
  2. A bitmoji that Seline made for me. It’s now my Twitter pic. I’m really a loser, as you can see.
  3. Seline and I went to Menchies the other day because we had a 2-for-1 discount coupon from the mail. My Menchies bowl included chocolate brownie, cheesecake pieces, peanut butter crisp, a malted chocolate ball, cereal, and more. I’m all about the toppings ^_^
  4. Sometimes, between classes, I find Seline and we spend a few hours relaxing, “studying”, and chatting at an on-campus cafe. The other day, I was SO. TIRED. that I slept with my head right on the table.

We made quite a special meal the other day!

Thai green curry with broccoli, onions, mushrooms, carrots, zucchini, yellow bell pepper // rotisserie chicken breast // rice cooked with butter, chicken broth, truffle salt // garlic sautéed green beans

Now, I just have a bunch of recipes for things I baked recently:

Chai-spiced Applesauce Prune Baked Oats

Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups quick oats
  • drizzle honey
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 heaping tsp salt
  • 1.5 cups milk
  • 3 chai tea bags
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 15 prunes, chopped

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Grease pan – 8 x 10 up to 10 x 10 are perfect sizes.
  3. Bring milk to a simmer. Cut open tea bags, and allow tea to simmer in the milk for 5 minutes. Strain out the tea leaves.
  4. Mix all ingredients and pour into pan.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes.

Chocolate Oat Bars

  • tasted good, but need to add more condensed milk and a splash of oil to the chocolate filling
  • more butter in the crumble
  • double the crumble next time!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup fat-free sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (will increase to 2 cups next time)
  • 1/2 cup quick oats (will increase to 1 cup next time)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder (will increase to 1 tsp next time)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda (will increase to 1 tsp next time)
  • 1/4 tsp salt (will increase to 1/2 tsp next time)
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar (will increase to 1.5 cups next time)
  • 1/4 cup oil (will increase to 1/2 cup next time)
  • 1 tsp vanilla (will increase to 2 tsp next time)
  • 1 egg (will increase to 2 eggs next time)
  • 2 tbsp quick oats (will increase to 1/4 cup next time)
  • 2 tbsp softened butter (will increase to 1/4 cup next time)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat chocolate chips and milk in 1-quart heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth; set aside. Heat oven to 350°. Line a square pan with parchment paper.
  2. Mix flour, oats, the baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl; set aside. Stir brown sugar, oil, vanilla and egg in medium bowl with fork until smooth; stir into flour mixture until blended. Reserve 1/2 cup dough in small bowl for topping.
  3. Pat remaining dough in pan (lightly flour fingers if dough is sticky). Spread chocolate mixture over dough. Add 2 tablespoons oats and the butter to reserved dough; mix with pastry blender or fork until crumbly. Drop small spoonfuls of oat mixture evenly over chocolate mixture.
  4. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until top is golden and firm. Cool completely, about 1 1/2 hours. For bars, cut into 4 rows by 4 rows.

Brownies, inspired by Allrecipes

Makes 36 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 1.5 cups butter
  • 3 cups brown sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • sprinkle cinnamon
  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 heaping tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease and flour large square pans.
  3. Melt butter in a large saucepan.
  4. Remove from heat. Stir in sugar, eggs, vanilla.
  5. Whisk in cocoa, cinnamon, flour, salt, and baking powder.
  6. Spread batter into prepared pan.
  7. Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 mins. Do not overcook. Cut.

Chocolate Almond Butter Banana Snack Bread

Serves 12 squares

Blender Ingredients

  • 1 egg
  • 3 medium bananas, ripe
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 2 tbsp PB2
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk

Dry Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp + 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • large sprinkle of sea salt
  • 1 1/4 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 cup AP flour
  • 1 cup quick oats
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line a 8×8 square pan with parchment paper.
  2. Blend all ingredients from the “Blender Ingredients” section.
  3. Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl until well combined.
  4. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes.
  5. Let cool overnight before cutting, or it will be too tender to hold form. Store cooled leftovers in a covered container for up to several days, though best when fresh. Slice and freeze for longer term storage.

Baking Blizzard

Hey!

Yesterday, I found an old USB with plenty of old photos on it. I found pictures of myself skating and doing aerial silks way back in 2012 or 2013. I can’t believe that was really 4-5 years ago.

I’ve made banana waffles for the last three days, and I might create another batch today. I love these, made with 1/2 a ripe banana, an egg, 1/4 tsp baking powder and 1/8 tsp baking soda, salt, cinnamon, vanilla, a splash of milk, and just enough all-purpose flour and almond flour to thicken the batter. On the side, I love this creamy honey Greek yogurt with blackberries.

We have an empty room in our house that I am stealing as a study room.

With some brand-new markers from Staples (thanks, Mom!)…

and all of my study materials, this desk makes me want to study!

Yesterday afternoon, Mom and I spent some time baking. One of our first projects was this chocolate banana bread. I adore this recipe because it’s egg-free and maintains plenty of moisture thanks to applesauce, rather than butter or oil. Mom bought brand-new cocoa powder, which explains the darker colour of these guys.

These chocolate squares are…

  • Similar to my favourite microwave chocolate mug cake for one, but with more moisture and slight banana flavous
  • Super tender and moist
  • Rich, decadent chocolatey flavour
  • Naturally sweet from two ripe bananas
  • Gooey, warm melty chocolate chips when fresh out of the oven (or microwaved)
  • Chewy, cake-like, but melt-in-your mouth
  • Amazing flavour from vanilla, cinnamon, cocoa powder, and of course, banana

Mom made spaghetti bolognese about a week ago, and I devoured the last little bit yesterday on a bed of quinoa, topped with shredded cheddar and mozzarella. Mom made lots of steamed broccoli, which I sprinkled with parmesan cheese.

Arnie’s been cute recently. See, I thought he was eight years old – but Dad recently told me that he was ten. WHAT?!

We officially have no idea how old he is. When I feel down, he always gives me a paw. 🙂

I went to a few toonie skates yesterday and the day before, and had a wonderful time both days. I miss the satisfaction of training in the skating world, but it was fun to twirl around freely.

IMG_E0176

Today, I am doing a presentation at Centennial, my high school. I’ll be talking about all kinds of things, from travel to work to volunteering to university choices.

FullSizeRender

I had a lot of good jokes planned, which I thought were hilarious, but Seline vetoed most of them. Dang.

Carrot muffins! Unpictured because… I don’t have pictures.

Carrot Muffins

Makes 12

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup flour (120 g)
  • 1 cup almond flour (100 g)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (50 g)
  • 1 cup quick oats
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ginger (I used fresh, though ground is great too)
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup liquid (carrot juice, apple/orange juice, any type of milk – I used dairy milk)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1.5 cups grated carrots

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Place rack in middle position.
  2. Grease 12 muffin cups.
  3. Combine all dry ingredients, including grated carrots.
  4. In another bowl, whisk oil, liquid, eggs, vanilla. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients, and stir gently until the mixture is just combined. Do not over-mix.
  5. Divide batter amongst 12 muffin cups. Bake for 25 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.
  6. Cool slightly before moving from muffin cups, then cool on a rack. Enjoy.

After this, Mom and I whipped up a chocolate torte. This simple recipe used the basics: semisweet chocolate, eggs, butter, and a few other ingredients. I added cinnamon, salt, and espresso powder for extra deliciousness. These flavours are known to boost the flavour of chocolate.

 

The cake turned out flat, crackly, and gloriously-scented. We can’t wait to cut into it later on, then serve it with whipped cream and berries.

 

Squidgy Chocolate Torte

INGREDIENTS

  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 200g semisweet chocolate bar, chopped
  • 4 large eggs
  • 160g sugar
  • 50g flour (I used spelt flour)
  • 50g almond flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • splash vanilla extract
  • sprinkle cinnamon
  • sprinkle espresso powder
  • cocoa powder for dusting

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 355 degrees.
  2. Butter and line base and sides of springform pan.
  3. Melt butter and chocolate in a pan, and gently melt until smooth.
  4. Beat together eggs and sugar for five minutes until it reaches a custard-like consistency.
  5. Pour chocolate and butter into whisked egg and sugar. Fold it in carefully using a large metal spoon. Stir in vanilla extract.
  6. Mix flour, almonds, salt, cinnamon, and espresso powder together in a separate bowl.
  7. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until even. Fold patiently to incorporate air.
  8. Spoon into prepared tin and bake for 35 to 40 minutes until evenly-set with a crust over the top. Cool until warm, then release from the tin. Dust with cocoa on top, or spread with whipped cream.
  9. Cut into wedges. Serve with whipped cream.

Have a lovely afternoon!

Blueberry Banana Muffins

Who else loves banana muffins?

Studded with blueberries, these simple, healthy, and super cute muffins are sure to be devoured. Loaded with banana flavour from three large bananas, the cinnamon-vanilla batter tastes fantastic with fresh (or frozen!) blueberries.

I also love the use of applesauce in this recipe to keep the muffins tender. Enjoy!

Blueberry Banana Muffins

Makes 12 muffins

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 large ripe bananas
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup applesauce
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1.5 cups flour (180 g)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Grease 12 muffin cups.
  3. Toss one scoop of flour (from the 1.5 cups) with the 1 cup of blueberries. If you wish, you may reserve some for the topping.
  4. Place all ingredients, except flour and blueberries, in the blender. When fully combined, stir in flour. Do not over-mix.
  5. Fold in the flour-coated blueberries.
  6. Pour into muffin cups and bake for 20+ minutes.

Yum. Let’s get baking!

PS: you need to slather these with almond butter. Please.

21146232_1889967671020521_969886598_o

Have a beautiful rest of the week, everyone ❤

Lately ✿

The last smidge of summer was filled with bittersweet (mostly sweet – literally) moments.

Exhibit A: this dessert plate that featured chocolate banana “ice cream” à la Tom Daley, peanut butter tofu pie, and chocolate almond banana bread (on my Recipe page) with coconut yogurt and nut butter. Mmmmm.

Tofu haters – I promise you won’t taste the tofu. This is a super satisfying dessert that’ll be sure to cure any sweet-salty cravings. One of my all-time favourite recipes, and it’s a hit with guests, too!

Vegan Peanut Butter Cup Pie

Makes 8 slices

NOTE: requires chilling coconut milk overnight, requires 30 minutes out of freezer before serving

INGREDIENTS

Crust

  • 1.5 to 1.75 cups of crushed graham crackers (about 10-12 crackers)
  • 4.5 tbsp melted coconut oil, or more if needed

Pie

  • 12 oz silken tofu
  • 1/2 cup creamy salted natural peanut butter (125 g)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
  • 1 14 oz can of full-fat coconut milk, chilled overnight so the liquid and cream separate (do not shake)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • salt, if needed

Topping

  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (175 g)
  • 1/3 cup milk (almond, dairy, or coconut are fine)
  • roasted salted peanuts, chopped, if desired for decoration

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Lightly oil glass pie pan.
  3. Process graham crackers until you achieve a fine meal. A little texture is okay. Add melted coconut oil and pulse to combine.
  4. Press the crust into the pan and push down to flatten.
  5. Bake 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Set aside.
  6. Add tofu, peanut butter, maple/honey to a blender. Blend until smooth. Scrape down sides as needed. Add more maple/honey for added sweetness, or more salt if the peanut butter is not salted enough.
  7. Scoop out the cream from the coconut milk can. Whip into whipped cream in a large, chilled mixing bowl. Add vanilla.
  8. Fold peanut butter-tofu mixture into whipped coconut cream.
  9. Pour filling over cooled crust. Freeze to chill. After one hour, prepare ganache.
  10. Add chocolate chips to a bowl. Heat milk to a simmer. Pour over chocolate chips. Do not touch for 5 minutes, to allow it to melt.
  11. Stir gently with spoon until a smooth ganache forms. If it doesn’t melt, heat it in microwave for 10 seconds until smooth.
  12. Spoon over top of pie. Spread evenly with knife. Work quickly. I drizzled mine on, then swirled with a knife.
  13. Top with peanuts, if desired. Cover with plastic wrap. Freeze to set.
  14. 20-30 minutes before serving, remove from freezer and serve.

The last bit of summer was filled with Mom’s incredible cooking. This is my favourite type of fried rice, which is made with dried and rehydrated scallops, green onions, egg white, and more. Shiitake mushroom chicken broth, too. Isn’t that a colourful salad on the side?

21458427_1902156516468303_1011417481_o

This was my last meal in Coquitlam, BC, so Mom made all my favourites! Tomato scrambled eggs with shrimp, red bean pancakes with sesame seeds, broccoli-carrot stir-fry with mushrooms and cloud ears, and leftover scallop fried rice.

Something similar, but this was on a totally different day: peri peri chicken, the same tomato scrambled eggs, stir-fried veggies (this time with chestnut) and plain rice.

21147120_1891453564205265_1349251312_o

I love Mom’s cooking so much. More of those red bean sesame pancakes, along with cauliflower and not-too-spicy mapo tofu for my pathetic spice-wimp taste buds.

This meal, actually, was followed by an MRI to screen my pituitary gland. Lying completely motionless inside the little pod (for ~50 minutes) was eerie and unsettling, yet strangely meditative. Except for the needle, it was a neat experience.

21390314_1901145569902731_819358844_o

Another day, Mom and I made spaghetti bolognese with fresh ground beef, mixed it with al dente shells, and layered/topped it with an entire log of mozzarella cheese.

Served with garlicky green beans, this dish was a massive hit in the Wei home! I credit that incredible fresh mozzarella.

This summer, I challenged myself to bake a whole bunch of things. Most of the “whole bunch of things” never got baked because of busyness laziness, but these flaky feta-chive scones did! I think you’ll like them as much as my family did.

Flaky, Buttery Feta Chive Biscuits

Makes approx. 12 small scones

Recipe inspired by Joy the Baker

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (360 g)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly-cracked black pepper
  • 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes (170 g)
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbsp very cold water
  • 3/4 cup cold sour cream, or cold plain yogurt
  • 1/3 cup chopped chives
  • 3/4 cup large crumbles of feta cheese
  • 1 beaten egg for egg wash, with a splash of milk if needed
  • coarse sea salt, cracked black pepper, and paprika for topping

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Place rack in centre/upper third of oven.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  3. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
  4. Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and black pepper. Use two knives/forks, or a pastry cutter to cut in the cold butter, until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Dough should have buttery pea-sized chunks throughout.
  5. In another bowl, lightly beat egg, sour cream, and water, with a fork.
  6. Add wet mixture into flour mixture all at once. Stir enough to make soft, shaggy dough. Use fork to scrape from bottom to top of dough.
  7. Add chives and feta.
  8. Dump mixture on a clean counter to knead dough together. Mixture should come together in 10-15 kneads.
  9. Roll or pat out into a 1-inch thickness. Cut into 2-inch rounds, using biscuit cutter. You can also roll the dough into a rectangular shape, and cut the biscuits into triangular shapes. Reshape and roll dough to create more biscuits with excess scraps. Place on prepared baking sheet. Brush with egg wash, and sprinkle with coarse sea salt, black pepper, and smoky paprika.
  10. Bake for 15 minutes. Serve warm. Biscuits are best eaten on the day they are made, but will last up to two days.

We froze some of them!

These prune blondies were also whipped up. My mom enjoyed them, and I really liked the chewy texture that reminded me of glutinous rice.

Prune Blondies

Makes 12 blondies

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup pitted prunes, softened in 2 tbsp boiling water
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar (150 g)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp mixed nuts, toasted/chopped

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line 8×8 pan with parchment paper.
  2. In blender, combine prunes and water. Process until smooth. Add brown sugar, oil, egg, honey, and vanilla. Set aside.
  3. Sift flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry. Fold with a spatula until just combined, then pour batter into prepared pan. Top with nuts.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes, then cool in the pan on a wire rack before cutting/serving.

I also made a large list of books that I can’t wait to get my hands on (some of them, for the second time). Have you read any of them?

Books to Read

  • Boo
  • The Female of the Species
  • Unnatural Deeds
  • With Malice
  • And the Trees Crept In
  • A Mother’s Reckoning
  • What Happened to Ivy
  • Red Rain
  • Burning
  • The Cellar
  • Confessions About Colton
  • Run
  • The Letter
  • Her Fearful Symmetry
  • The Hour I First Believed
  • The Little Friend
  • My Name is Memory
  • Mystic River
  • She’s Come Undone *
  • We Were the Mulvaneys
  • White Oleander *
  • The Shipping News
  • Change of Heart
  • Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe
  • The Book of Ruth
  • Mystic River
  • Black and Blue
  • Everything I Never Told You
  • Visitation Street
  • The Vanishing Season
  • Elsewhere
  • The Afterlife (cool)
  • Shine
  • Before I Die
  • Where I Want to Be (cool)
  • Falling Into Place (cool)
  • The Age of Miracles
  • The Virgin Suicides
  • The Giver
  • A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
  • Eat When You Feel Sad
  • To the Lighthouse
  • 300 Million
  • 1 Dead in Attic
  • An Invisible Sign of my Own

Seline, my sister, also wrote a special poem inspired by the stunning rocky hills on Salt Spring Island. She actually has her own poetry blog, which, by the way, looks a lot prettier than my unplanned collages of unfiltered (i.e. ugly) iPhone photos.

Rocks

The rocky path

Illuminated by a simple

Ray of sun

No one beside

In front

or

Behind

As I glide down the hill,

wood chips sticking in my shoes.

I trot

down

the trail.

I jump

Left

to

Right,

Hopping from one rock,

to another.

Finally reaching my destination

on top of

the rock

for all to see.

And that’s it, everyone! Have a glorious rest of the week.

Pros and Cons of Veganism

First of all, what IS veganism?

People following a vegan diet do not eat animal products. That includes, but is not limited to, eggs, fish, dairy, gelatine, and even honey. People choose to become vegan for reasons that may be health-related, cultural, religious, or ethical.

A day as a vegan might look like this:

  • Breakfast of oatmeal in almond milk, a banana, berries, nut butter, and chia seeds
  • Snack of an apple and hummus
  • Lunch of sweet potatoes, quinoa, wilted spinach, black beans, corn, and nuts
  • Snack of smoothie with blueberries, coconut milk, and hemp hearts
  • Dinner of kale salad, with broccoli, beets, carrots, tomatoes, avocado, nuts, and a tahini dressing

PROS of Veganism:

  • reduced risk of disease
  • may help lower BMI, because vegan diets tend to be lower in calories
  • may help lower hypertension rate
  • slower progression of kidney disease
  • saves animals
  • decrease pollution greenhouse gas production, and acid rain
  • saves water and natural resources
  • increases antioxidant intake
  • promotes greater self-control
  • there are now lots of vegan bloggers that create incredible recipes (think Oh She Glows and Minimalist Baker)
  • that being said, veganism can be absolutely delicious

CONS of Veganism:

  • if you do not live near an organic/speciality foods store, it may be hard to get your hands on things like chia seeds, flax seeds, and other vegan “essentials”
  • more expensive, depending on your choice of groceries
  • may be a radical change
  • may interfere with current medical conditions, such as osteoporosis or diabetes
  • may be “carb-heavy”, which can be “good” (sweet potatoes, veggies, peas), or refined (i.e. French fries, white bread)
  • difficulties when dining out, eating away from home, or travelling long distances
  • decreased calcium intake, thus increased risk for bone fractures
  • decrease iodine (for proper thyroid function)
  • decreased iron intake
  • supplements may be pricey

The bottom line: make the right choices for YOU, your beliefs, your body, and your resources. One size never fits all, and never hesitate to seek professional guidance if you need it.

Perhaps this quote says it best:

“All in all, whether you eat only vegetables and soy, or if your one of those people who has steak for breakfast and dinner, at least we can all still agree on one thing: Oreos.”

vegan-stuff