Sunday, June 27, 2010
My potted vegetable garden sure is growing! The varieties of peppers, tomatoes, green onions, green beans, and herbs are mostly still going strong. The basil, thai basil, cilantro, arugula and spinach are beginning to go to seed. I got a couple of clippings of spinach and arugula, but I think that it is mostly finished for the year. I also used a bit of the basil and cilantro, including drying some of the herbs as mentioned in a previous post. I wish that the cilantro would have lasted a bit longer than it did as I was planning on making salsa with it - I did use it with some rice though, as well as some other recipes. I'm not sure if anyone has any tips for extending the life of basil and cilantro?
Those are some images of the peppers plants I have - yellow bell peppers, hot banana peppers, and chili peppers. One plant has a HUGE bell pepper on it, while some of the other plants have several small ones that have begun to grow.
Many pots of green onions are almost finished growing! Yum!
Some of the tomato plants have tons of tomatoes that have begun to grow, while some of the heirloom varieties still have the flowers, or just a few small ones. I suppose those ones take a little bit longer to grow than the hybrid varieties.
My green beans have yet to produce any beans but they are growing wild and free all over the place! Climbing everywhere pretty much. I see some buds on the plants so hopefully they produce lots of green beans!
Friday, June 25, 2010
Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. In my house, these Vegan cookies will be invading all of my cookie jars...until they are quickly eaten and more cookies must be made! At any rate, I just ordered the newest cookbook by best-selling Vegan cookbook authors Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero, of Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World and Veganomicon fame.
I am a huge fan of the Vegan Cupcakes book so naturally, I have extremely high expectations for the Vegan Cookies book. The first recipe that I decided to try was the Espresso Chip Oatmeal Cookies recipe.
Thankfully, I had some instant espresso powder around the house, mailed to me from a thoughtful Swap-bot partner in a coffee exchange. That is the only ingredient that may be difficult to find for this recipe. You can use instant coffee granules instead, but it won't give it that true caffeinated kick that make these cookies taste so amazing.
My first batch of cookies didn't turn out so great. I had enough to make two cookie trays worth (12 on each tray) and I assumed that my cookie sheet was non-stick...unfortunately, I should have followed the directions and used parchment paper, because my cookies were completely stuck to the pan! After salvaging whatever dried-up cookie bits that I could and scraping the pan clean, I grabbed the parchment paper and used it for the remaining cookies.
The second batch turned out great! The cookies are pretty flat but are quite chewy - a great combination of the espresso, oats, chocolate chips, and the slightest bit of cocoa make a delicious cookie for the coffee-lover in me!
I didn't want to publish the recipe on my blog without permission....but I happened to find this recipe posted with permission already on the web! So....yay! You can try it out for yourself. But, I do highly recommend just purchasing the book because there are over 100 dairy-free cookie recipes here that is sure to please just about any palette!
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Whenever I find myself in downtown Toronto, I also almost always find myself eating at Fresh, a vegetarian restaurant in Toronto. It is one of my most favorite restaurants ever where you can find all sorts of fresh foods, and the menu is 100% vegetarian (nearly 100% Vegan as well, with the choice of adding cheese here or there). Fresh also has the most delicious juices and fruit smoothies - I always make sure to get a smoothie with my meal.
Since I'm not in downtown Toronto very often, thankfully, Fresh has published a couple of cookbooks so we can make some of their delicious food at home. While I do not own any of the books (yet), I did purchase one as a Christmas present for a friend and I copied this recipe out from the book since I wanted to try it myself. Pictured above are the Strawberry Lavender Muffins - perfect to make right now, since strawberries are currently in season in Ontario! This recipe comes from the book, Fresh at Home, available in person at all Fresh locations, in bookstores, and for sale online.
The lavender adds a really interesting twist to the regular fruit muffin - the actual lavender pieces aren't inside the muffins, but infused inside the soy milk / maple syrup combination that you heat on the stove top. All of the directions are below - these muffins are very easy to make and super delicious! I don't think these will last very long around the house!
STRAWBERRY LAVENDER MUFFINS (VEGAN)
1 1/4 cups vanilla soymilk
3/4 cup and 1 tbsp maple syrup
1 1/2 tbsp dried lavender
1 cup applesauce (unsweetened)
4 cups organic light spelt flour (I substituted half all-purpose flour and half whole wheat flour. You can substitute all 4 cups of all-purpose flour, too)
1/2 cup raw sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup diced fresh strawberries
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp canola oil
1. Line the pan with paper liners.
2. Heat soy milk, maple syrup, and lavender in a saucepan - bring to a boil over medium heat. (Keep your eye on the pan....once it starts to boil, it will boil over and FAST! So...watch out!)
3. Remove from heat, cover and infuse for 5 minutes. Strain mixture through a fine sieve and add applesauce. Set aside and cool completely.
4. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda in a large mixing bowl.
5. Add strawberries and toss to cook.
6. Add liquid and oil to dry ingredients. Mix gently until the mixture just comes together.
7. Scoop into muffin pans.
8. Bake at 350 degrees F for approx. 25 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly pressed.
9. Remove from pans, cool, and serve.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
A dark image on a rainy day here in Brantford, but an image nevertheless of a crochet dress that I've started to make. It is called Urban Look and the pattern is from Patons #862, Grace - Spring Style. I'm using the Patons Grace yarn in a shade of green called Wasabi. This is a fairly lightweight yarn, perfect for spring or summer dresses.
I am an advanced knitter but I rarely crochet - in fact, I'm quite the beginner at crochet. Since this is technically an "intermediate" pattern (says the pattern book), I have had to learn as I crocheted. I almost crocheted the entire main part of the dress, until I held up the hours and hours of work...and noticed that the sides tapered in! This is not supposed to happen - it is supposed to remain the same width the entire way. I ended up ripping out the entire thing and starting again. Ugh. I was watching the Princess Bride while I started to rip out all of those precious stitches and it took me half an hour to rip out the stitches and wrap the yarn into a ball again!
Regardless, I've started again and this time, I'm making sure that I'm watching my progress as I work along without mindlessly crocheting without looking! Hopefully I will be able to post the finished results soon enough! Here is a link to the project on my Ravelry page.
Friday, June 18, 2010
Lately, I've found that I haven't been using many of my garden herbs, so I have decided to dry the herbs for later use. These fresh herbs dried will come in handy during the winter, plus I won't have to buy any at the store. Knowing that these dried herbs came fresh from my garden, completely organic, and with way less of a carbon footprint is fantastic! Drying herbs is way easier than I expected and something that you can do at home with no special equipment.
So far, I have dried basil, Thai basil and cilantro with much success. All you have to do is cut off longer stems of the herbs that you'd like to dry, shake them free of any bugs that may be present, and bring them into the house. Then, get a large paper bag for each herb, label the bag, poke a few holes in it for ventilation, and fasten the herbs hanging upside down inside the bag. I have just used Scotch tape to secure the stems of each herb to the top of the bag, hanging upside down.
Then, you just wait for a week or so - you can store them in any cool, dry place in your home - and after a week, you will have fabulous dried herbs! I have been crushing them down and placing them inside shakers in my spice rack. It is recommended that you use them within a year for optimum taste and freshness.
If you find any moldy ones (I have not in my experiences yet), throw them away. Also, some people might want to wash the herbs before drying them. I have not felt the need to wash mine since they are just potted herbs outside on the balcony, but if you do decide to wash them, make sure the herbs are completely dry before you try to dry them.
Hope this is helpful for anyone who has wanted to dry their own herbs! Have fun!
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Here is a preview for a game that was announced at the recent E3 - Kirby's Epic Yarn for the Nintendo Wii. It combines all that I love - video games, adorable cuteness, and YARN! The entire Kirby world looks to be made out of yarn and fabric in this game. It plays similarly to all of your favorite side-scroller Kirby games of the past, with a few differences that follow the textile theme - Kirby no longer "inhales" all of his enemies; instead, he hits them with a yarn whip.
This game is also freaking adorable. That wins extra points by my books! Check out some of the screenshots that I have posted below, and check out more by going to the preview on Joystiq.
Here is a video of the game that has been posted...it looks adorable, enjoy!
Monday, June 14, 2010
Check out those legs! This is a hilarious birthday gift that I received from my fiance, Paul because he knows how much I love Rilakkuma and he couldn't resist buying this funny looking gift when he saw it! You may ask....why does this bear have such long legs?
He stands inside of your boots and keeps them smelling extra fresh! All boots should have cute bears sticking out of the tops of them, shouldn't they? Now....just to get a small army of Rilakkuma to go inside my small collection of boots!
(Thank you, Paul, for this awesome present!)
Sunday, June 13, 2010
For the past three days, I went on a mini-vacation to Ohio with a couple of my best friends. On Thursday afternoon, we stopped at Seneca Caverns in Bellevue, Ohio to see the "Caviest Caves in the USA". They certainly were quite "cavey" :) It was discovered in 1872 and is a Registered Ohio National Landmark.
We went on an hour long guided tour through the various levels of the caverns - seven rooms in total. Our tour guide was incredibly knowledgeable and made the tour very fun with some cheesy jokes thrown in here and there for good measure. We traveled 110 feet underground in total down naturally formed stairs. You have to be pretty careful going down the steps in the cave and be sure to watch your head - there is a lot of crouching down and if you don't, you might bump your head on the rocks! Since I'm pretty short, it wasn't too much of a problem for me.
It gets pretty cold in the caves, so be sure to wear a sweater or light jacket, even in the summertime. Also, be sure to pack some comfortable footwear for climbing around on the rocks. The cave has been retained close to its natural, wild state and may be the only one in its kind for public visitation. It is truly a geologic wonder and provides a unique experience!
In the early 1900s when the cave was discovered, people used to climb down to one of the upper levels of the cave and try to write their names on the cave walls. The best way to do this was to write on the walls in tar. Some people tried to burn their names with a candle into the surface of the rocks, but this could pose a problem if the candle ended up burning out!
At the bottom of the caverns, there is a crystal clear flowing stream which is a part of the underground water system in the area. No one is sure where the water comes from, but it does eventually flow out to Lake Erie at the rate of about one mile per hour. When we visited the caves, the water level was a lot higher than usual so we were only able to travel so far because water had filled up the cavern. As you can see, there is a hand rail and some more natural stairs that we were unable to climb down due to the water level. I put my hand in the water and wow, was it ever cold!
Putting my foot out over an edge to show that...yes, be careful, or you could fall down quite a ways! If you're in the northern Ohio region and looking for something unique and fun to explore, be sure to check out the Seneca Caverns! Also, feel free to check out the rest of my photos at my Flickr Page.
Monday, June 7, 2010
Today is my 28th birthday! So....happy birthday to me :) I have to work today, unfortunately, until 2 in the morning....but I had a fantastic birthday party on Saturday with my closest friends! Tomorrow (figures I have tomorrow off from work!) I will be having all-you-can-eat sushi with my fiance, mmmm! Paul gave me my birthday presents on the weekend, which I will be posting photos of soon....let me just say that one of the presents is super cute and involves Rilakkuma! :)
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
A new game that I'm really enjoying is Super Mario Galaxy 2 for the Nintendo Wii. I've always been a huge fan of Mario, right from when I got my first NES and played Super Mario Bros. 1 at age 6. For fans of the franchise, Super Mario Galaxy 2 will definitely not disappoint.
If you liked the first Super Mario Galaxy game that was released back in 2007, you will love Super Mario Galaxy 2! It includes all of the planet-hopping fun from the first game and adds even more great game play. In this game, Mario gets to team up with his friend, Yoshi, which definitely adds a great element to the game. I've always loved Yoshi!
The various galaxies and planets that you encounter are vast and beautiful. The actual controls of the game are very fluid and intuitive. The perspective shifts in the game are quite interesting and they keep you on your toes. This game retains enough of the favorite classic elements that are found in the last Mario Galaxy game (collecting stars, coins, and completing each galaxy) as well as some new elements, such as collecting hidden Comet Metals, as well as new power-ups such as the drill and the cloud.
Super Mario Galaxy 2 seems to have an incredible amount of game play, which will allow you to keep playing and completing challenges for hours and hours. I'm finding this game to be challenging enough without becoming too frustrating. For fans of the series and even those who are relatively new to Mario games, I would highly recommend this game to anyone! Not just fun for kids, but fun for anyone who loves playing video games!