muffins just help me deal.

I haven't posted anything in 10 months. Let's not make it a thing, ok? GFCarrotMuffins13Sep15-020©chicksphotoI had a big year, I guess. Things happened. And then other stuff happened. Work is also a thing I do full-time... so basically: Excuses, There they are. They're not very good. ha!

Life is always changing and I'm trying to deal with stuff and so what do I do? Make muffins. This has been exhibited twice before. Here & here. Muffins are the answer to: what the hell do I do now? Muffins. I do muffins.

I became a wife about two months ago! It was incredible, we did it in Toronto, our stay was only two weeks and an absolute whirlwind.

Usually when I go home my plan is to sit and eat and drink. I plan to play with the dog and maybe go to the cottage but also re-explore Toronto and figure out whats new since I've been gone.

This almost never happens properly because when I visit home it's to see people. Family & friends. I LOVE love love seeing those people cause I miss them SO MUCH when I am away. But quickly, my trips becomes a juggling act of who can I see at what time and where and how can I see everyone more than once and - whats that? I'm leaving in four days. Well, sheeeeeeiiit.

This trip was the same but different. It was quicker and more amazing but also left zero time for me to sit and do nothing or play with the puppy or just HANG OUT with my parents. I got a husband on this trip which is awesome (!), but I also feel like I didn't get what I needed from being at home.

So, we came back to Sydney (after our amazing adventurous honeymoon) and I just feel a bit off. On one hand, we came back to Spring - the weather here at the moment is really showing off. It's basically summer. And I came back to the ocean, which is just how I left it; Huge and scary and salty and humbling.

On the other hand, we came back and I feel like I barely saw my parents, I didn't get to play with the doggy enough and I'm just all around massively homesick.

These are the two parts of my brain. They are having it out at the moment and I'm trying not to get in the middle of things but ultimately, here I am. In the middle.

Muffins, anyone?

GFCarrotMuffins13Sep15-008e©chicksphotoGluten-Free Carrot Muffins Based on the Recipe from Minimalist Baker

Ingredients

1.5 flax eggs 1/4 c. olive oil 1 mashed banana 1/4 c. maple syrup 1 sweet apple, finely grated 1/2 c. brown sugar 1/2 tsp sea salt 1.5 tsp baking soda 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon 1/2 cup oat milk 1 c. (packed) grated carrot 2/3 c. rolled oats 1/2 c. almond meal 1 c. + 2 tbsp gluten-free flour blend 1/4 c. raw walnuts chopped - extra for topping

This recipe was made as a one-bowl recipe which is AMAZING. So, begin with the flax eggs in a large bowl and preheat the oven to 375*F. Add the mashed banana, maple syrup, olive oil and combine. Next add the grated apple, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon & combine. Add in the oat milk, stir. Add the grated carrot and stir. Lastly, add the oats, almond meal, gluten-free flour and stir. I also mix in the walnuts here but don't over mix. Gently fold them in and then scoop the mixture into 12 muffin liners. Fill them each to the top and top with a whole or chopped walnuts. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted, comes out clean. I haven't done a lot of gluten-free baking, but apparently gluten-free takes longer to bake! Let cool completely before unwrapping or else the wrappers may stick.

GFCarrotMuffins13Sep15-024©chicksphotoEat. Think about life. Be happy.

GFCarrotMuffins13Sep15-028©chicksphotoxxx

no-bake MINI chocolate tarts!

21Nov14-059©chicksphotoI took this picture the other night and I immediately wanted to make creamsicles. right?! you get it.

The day was HOT. And the weekend was HOTTER - Meaning that baking was never going to be a happening thing in my kitchen. Creamsicles seemed like a good compromise. Sweet and delicious - minus the heat. But then I couldn't find popsicle molds and basically my whole world came shattering down as I stumbled around the Woolworths on Saturday night looking for some popsicle mold-like container. I'm a wild and crazy kinda lady on Saturday nights. I had these really solid intentions of cashew cream/coconut milk/orange zest amaz-sicles - but alas Woolworths really dropped the ball.

So. Now that you REALLY want a creamsicle... I bring you... no-bake chocolate tarts! YAYYYYY!

No-bakeTarts-23Nov14-007©chicksphotoThey are super cold. They are super delicious. And they are super easy. I have made this before in a 'one big pie' sort of way... but when I looked back on that recipe it had about 10 ingredients for the base alone which, again, just wasn't a happening thing. So, in my lazyness, I eyeballed a bunch of ingredients into a food processor and hoped for the best. Here's to me accurately remembering the recipe for you now! Woop!

No-bakeTarts-23Nov14-028©chicksphotoNo-Bake Chocolate Mini-Tarts Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free and DEELIGHTFUL.

Ingredients

Crust 1 c. pecans 1/2 c. medjool dates 2 tbsp. cocoa powder 1 tbsp. coconut oil

Filling 1 c. avocado flesh 2 tbsp. cocoa powder 1/2 tsp. salt 1/2 tbsp. arrowroot powder 1/3 c. maple syrup 1/3 c. oat milk 1/2 tbsp. peanut butter (totally optional) 1/2 tsp. vanilla 1/4 c. melted chocolate

For the crust, I crushed up the pecans first in the food processor and then added the other ingredients and mixed until it was well combined and forming a sticky ball. If you can press it together and it holds - its ready. You can used more or less dates - this crust is about consistency. Whatever works as long as it is sticking together well. I divided up the crust into 12 silicone cupcake liners and pressed it into the bottom. I put this in the freezer to chill as I made the filling.

Making the filling is just a matter of putting all the ingredients into the processor and mixing until it is as smooth as possible. I divided this mixture evenly onto each of the crusts and then allowed it to set inthe freezer for about 4 hours.

They should pop out of the liners very easily because of the coconut oil. They are and highly addictive. You can sprinkle some salt on top if you like because... delicious. :)

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No-bakeTarts-23Nov14-039©chicksphotoYou can see here that I obviously ate about three of these before I finished photographing them. yum.

xxx

 

bloody mary, bloody mary, bloody mary...

Last year around this time I was hiking through the Annapurnas. Well almost - I actually just realized that at this time last year I was probably eating dinner at a tiny restaurant in Pokhara, Nepal called The Olive. It was: the best. For some reason, all over Nepal, happy hour consisted of cheap alcohol and... popcorn? I wasn't mad about it. It's quite apt that this is exactly what I have decided to make today. I only just realized that. WOO! Paralells! Anyway, last Halloween I spent the night at a tea house called 'The Excellent View' and yeah, it was OKAY... I guess. ;) However it did not feel like Halloween at all because a) no one was dressed up ridiculously b) there was no chocolate and c) I didn't get any birthday carrot cake. LAME. Instead, I was considering the likleyhood of altitude sickness while scarfing down one of many apple pies. Like I said... it was only OK.  (So it was pretty much the best ever, but let's talk Halloween)

This year though... This year I am bringing Halloween back in a big way. Australia is not huge on this holiday... so when I found out that our apartment building was taking part in trick or treating for the kiddies followed by a party for the adults I was more that a leetle bit excited. And the next day I made this happen:

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Only door in the building that is decorated. Sean may have mumbled something about 'excessive' when he got home from work that night. But I am not be deterred.

I've also watched no less than 7 horror movies including:

* The Loved Ones (What the WHAT!? This movie is effed up. Thank you to Andy and Jenn for that gem of a recommendation haha) * The Conjuring (Demons are hella scary) *Scream (1996 in ALL it's glory) *Scream 2 (cause... duh) *I Know What You Did Last Summer (Classic and so so bad) *(Half of) Halloween * American Horror Story: Murder House (Heebie Jeebies GALORE)

So, while my family is celebrating Halloween and the many family birthdays in Toronto with our annual pumpkin carving party, I am sitting in sunny Sydney carving a pumpkin (which I am sure will rot before Halloween) whilst sipping the Ultimate Bloody Mary and eating the Ultimate Popcorn. Let's talk about it.

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Lately, I have wanted a cocktail that is less about the sugar and fruit and more about the savoury. A Bloody Mary is where it's AT. Now if we were in Canada, we might be having a Caesar - but being the vegan that I am -we'll stick with a Bloody Mary. Let's partner this delightful cocktail with another salty treat. You might think that Worcestershire sauce on popcorn is like, the weirdest thing ever and it very well might be. But this is how Mama Hicks has been making her popcorn for years and I'm not about to change it. However, I am about to add garlic butter and nutritional yeast. So there's that. This popcorn is major. All in all - it's a perfect Halloween combination, whether you're in Nepal, Canada, or Australia.

Happy Halloween friends. :D

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The Ultimate Bloody Mary adapted from HonestlyYUM

Ingredients

2oz Vodka 1/2 oz lemon juice 1 big dash Worcestershire sauce 3 dashes Tabasco (or to taste) 2 pinches celery salt 1 pinch black pepper a quarter of a tomato Tomato juice to fill

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Garnishes

extra celery salt for rim celery stick lemon wedge capers gherkins pimento stuffed olives

First, Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker (minus the tomato juice) and muddle. Fill the shaker with ice & shake for ten seconds until cold. Pour the cocktail into a salted tall glass and top with tomato juice - garnish as you like. This is not a less is more situation. DRINK UP!

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Ultimate Popcorn

1/2 c. popcorn kernels 2 tsp. coconut oil salt pepper 1-2 tsp butter chopped garlic or dried garlic granules Worcestershiresauce nutritional yeast celery salt

Melt the coconut oil in large pot over a medium heat. Add the popcorn and a pinch of salt - make sure all the kernels are covered in oil and then cover the pot leaving a crack open for steam to escape. Melt your butter in a separate bowl and add the garlic to it. Wait for popcorn to pop (3-5 minutes) and wait until it begins to slow down - take the popcorn off the heat and allow the kernels to finish popping.  Toss the garlic butter, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and nutritional yeast into the popcorn and mix thoroughly. Nutritional Yeast is, as it's names suggest, nutritional... but also it tastes a bit cheesey. You could also add parmesan and I'm sure it would be delightful... ENJOY!

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these bagels. they are everything...

HEY! hi. I'm still here. What's happening? How are yas?

Yeah, I'm good. Thanks.

So, the last couple weeks have been super fun! Super Duper! We've been sippin' wine, and dressing like fools, and camping! CAMPING! More on that to come. :) Oh also, if you are interested... I launched a website. A photography one. How 'bout that? I am based in Sydney, as you may know, and am taking bookings for portraits & events. Take a gander. ;) Baby/toddler portraits are my specialty! www.chicksphotography.com

This weekend though... this weekend my jazzy lady friend, Sam, & I made Bagels.

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DSC_8765Get. Excited. Lord knows I was.

I have never made anything that brought me so much joy when it worked out. Oh my good god this was exciting.

DSC_8775These were Montreal Style bagels, boiled in honey sweetened water and baked to perfection. And I do mean that. They were perfect.

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Montreal Style Bagels

Ingredients 1 1/2 c. warm water 1 packet active dry yeast 1 tsp granulated sugar 2 tsp salt 3 tsp vegetable oil 1/4 c. honey 2 c. unbleached all purpose flour 2 c. whole wheat flour 1/2 c. extra flour for kneading

For boiling: 1 tbsp baking soda 1/3 cup honey

Toppings: What ever you like, I usedCaraway seeds, garlic flakes, sesame seeds, poppy seeds & salt for my everything bagels. I also made some with just poppy seeds.

In a large bowl, stir together the warm water and the packet of yeast. Cover and allow to sit for about 5 minutes while the yeast activates. Add the sugar, salt, & oil into the yeast mixture and whisk until combined.

Now add 1 c. of flour into the mixture and stir until combined. Slowly add the reamining cups of flour and mix until mostly combined. The mixture might not be holding together too well, but that is a-ok.

Dump the dough onto a floured surface and start kneading for 10 minutes. The dough should feel start to feel elastic and smooth. Allow the dough to rise for thiry minutes, covered.

NOW! Slice the dough into 16-18 equal parts and roll each to create lengths of about 6-8 inches. Form each length into a cirle and squeeze the dough together to secure. Set each circle aside and allow them to rise for another 20 minutes. While they are rising, bring a large pot of water to a boil and dissolve your honey and baking soda. After the mixture is boiling, reduce it to a simmer. You should probably preheat the oven at this time to 475*F.

Add the bagels to the water two at a time and let them cook for 1 minute per side. Now, you can drop each bagel in your bowl of toppings and coat one side. Place each coated bagel on a baking sheet.

Once you have boiled each bagel, bake them at 475*F for 10 minutes and then flip them and bake for 5 more minutes. The colour should be very rich and golden. Careful not to let the seeds burn.

No need to let them cool (much). Eat them warm... they are amazing.DSC_8782If I was home right now in Canada, I would probably make these for Father's Day. Since my Dad is so Rad.

It rhymes and therefore it is true.

HAPPY FATHER'S DAY, DADDIO!

Now here are some pics of when my parents were in Australia. This first one just makes me laugh cause it's a selfie which I think is awesome. And I mean... how many of us have taken the accidentally zoomed in selfie? Everyone, don't lie. Priceless.

DSC01737 This second one is us havin a fam-din at Jamie's Italian! aka the best place to eat EVA.

IMG_1355 And this gem is of me and my dad! :)

IMG_1398Have a lovely day all you Dads.

Much love to my Grandpa too.

Can't forget Watson.

xxx

long weekends & lenses

Who doesn't love a long weekend? Sometimes... you just want to get away for a long weekend, but maybe you took too long to decide what you wanted to do and now all the b&b's are booked up and all the campgrounds are overflowing with children because the long weekend also coincides with school holidays. Yeah, so 'getting away' will be more stressful then it is relaxing.

So what do you do in that instance? You just drive someplace nice and the sleep in your car. obviously.

It didn't take too much convincing... Sean and I decided that the only way to have a hassle free weekend away would be to stuff a bunch of pillows in the back of the car, open up that sunroof and crack a bottle or wine.

Or drink exactly one half glass before it starts pouring down rain at which point you shut all the doors and sunroofs, tip out your wine and just go to sleep.

So that's what we did.

DSC_7807Hey, hot damn! We are two cray-zay kids.

We went car camping! Up to Port Stephens to check out the sand dunes that I have visited once before...

DSC_7823Check out those endless blue skies!

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We may have tried to glide down the dunes on a body board. It mostly did not work. But we DID find this cool Goana track in the sand.

And then look what happened this past weekend! I bought a new lens! DSC_8122Here is how ridiculously wide this lens is...

DSC_8132It's a professional selfie yo. And this bad boy with make your arms look SUPER long and slightly anorexic. AWESOME! (kidding)

DSC_8143YAY FOR WIDE LENSES!

this post was essentially useless... but I just wanted to share some pics and good times!

xxx

Pom-tastic Kale Salad

A couple weeks ago I was invited to a BBQ. It was a pot-luck affair and I wasn't sure what to bring. My go-to lunch is salad. It's pretty boring. Just lettuce, carrots, avocado, tomatoes, maybe some tofu... I mean, I love it! I love my boring salads. But for a BBQ I was thinking something more exciting might be necessary. Last time I was in Toronto, my dad made the BEST salad ever. I think it was a recipe from Chatelaine magazine. It was simple, but so delicious.

DSC_8016 copy I didn't have all the right ingredients in my kitchen, but I improvised and even created a new dressing that I thought would be an excellent addition. It was.

This is one flavourful salad. The cranberries really make it and the pomegranate dressing adds an additional hint of sweetness that ties it all together.

DSC_8022Cranberry & Kale Salad recipe adapted from here

1 c. dried barley 1/2 c. dried cranberries 5 c. chopped kale, about 1/2 small bunch 1/2 c. diced red onion

Dressing 1/3 c. extra-virgin olive oil 3 tbsp pomegranate molasses 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar Salt & Pepper to taste

Cook the barley as directed on the package. Usually, I add the 1 cup to 4 cups of water and simmer for about 20-30 minutes. Drain and rinse in cool water. Chop the onion, and kale and toss it together with the cranberries and barley.

In a separate bowl, whisk the oil, molasses and apple cider vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pour the dressing on the salad and toss until evenly coated. The longer you allow the salad to marinate in the dressing, the better it tastes!

:)

DSC_7760I didn't have any pomegranate molasses and I didn't know how easy it would be to find it, so I actually made my own. It was basically just pomegranate juice, sugar and a bit of lemon simmering for about 40 minutes until it develops into a syrup.

DSC_7765Easy peasy.

xxx

 

 

pb & spinach

I don't know if I've mentioned this before... but I really like peanut butter. DSC_7367I probably haven't really mentioned it too much, because it's kind of alarming how much peanut butter I eat. I'm talking a jar a week. Possibly more. Definitely more if I am trying to cut down on my chocolate consumption. It's a give and take, ya know?

Well... anyway, my peanut butter habits are OUT of control. but I'm starting to get things under control, kind of. I'm not cutting back or anything but I have stopped spending my grocery budget on 'Organic' peanut butter and I'm starting to make my own. 1 Ingredient Peanut butter. This is where its AT.

I cannot even put into words how much better it tastes. I'll give you a hint though... it tastes like PEANUTS. And if you decide to do a taste test and try your homemade pb along side your store bought pb you will realize that store bought one actually mostly tastes like nothing. It's shocking but true.

Anyway. I started making peanut butter and it was alarmingly easy. I'm talking ridiculous. So ridiculous that I called Sean over during my second batch so he could watch the magic. And watch he did. He then insisted I put it on my blog because he was pretty pumped about the whole thing and was convinced that every one else in the world is missing out on how easy it is to make. Easy and FASCINATING. I mean it's JUST peanuts in a blender and then boom: It's practically liquified.

DSC_7364Granted, I think the Vita mix makes things faster and easier. But this can be done with any food processor for sure. Annnnd... if you want to spice it up by adding, say, maple syrup, or coconut oil... then I would say that is a damn good idea.

So follow this super specific recipe:

Start with as many peanuts as you want. I usually start with about 500 - 1000 grams and just add them as I go depending on how much pb i want to make. It's not a science and you can't screw it up cause there is only ONE ingredient.

DSC_7353Put peanuts in a food processor or blender and blend until desired consistency. Extra smooth? or Super thick? The choice is yours. In a regular food processor it may take a couple minutes (5-10mins) but you'll get there eventually. Trust me. A bit of oil or liquid will speed up the process. You can scrape down the sides every minute or two as well to help it along. I store this in a jar and keep it in the fridge, cause ya know... no preservatives or anything.

So once you've made the peanut butter you should definitely eat it with a spoon. But when you're done with that, maybe add it to a smoothie?

DSC_7331My favourite flavour combination is banana-chocolate-peanut butter. So that is what this is. A Banana/Chocolate/Peanut butter smoothie. And it's what's for breakfast. To make me self feel good about eating chocolate it the morning I added Spinach. Which is why it is that really appetizing colour of green-brown. Hmmm.

Life is all about balance. Spinach in Chocolate. You can't even taste it, but you're insides will love it.

DSC_7320Top with some coconut or more peanut butter and you're good to go.

Amazing.

xxx

condiments & flatbreads

I have a real problem with condiments. I get it from my mother who brought me up in a house that had a huge fridge full of every single kind of pickle imaginable and about ninety different mustards. Now, my fridge is similar. I have about 20 different jars in there. 20 different kinds of jams, jellys, mustards, pickles, olives, sauces... you name it. I have it. It fact, I might have two of it. It's not a problem I am looking to fix though. I eat condiments on a variety of things. Sometimes off a spoon.

DSC_7221But just for fun, here is a flat bread that would be the perfect vehicle for any number of condiments. In fact I even made a cheese a couple years ago that is practically a perfect match for this flat bread. But let's also put some red pepper jelly on top of that.

DSC_7210This flat bread is insanely easy, and I think you should try it.

DSC_7150Rosemary Flat bread Adapted from here

1 c. whole wheat flour

3/4 c. ground flax

1 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 c. water

1/3 c. olive oil (plus more for brushing)

2 tbsp chopped rosemary

Pre heat the oven to 400*F with a heavy pan inside.

DSC_7160Mix the dry ingredients (including the rosemary) up in a large bowl and create a well. pour the water and oil into the well and mix until you form a large ball.

DSC_7183Separate the ball in to three equal portions. Flatten each ball into a very thin round on a piece of parchment paper. Brush on some oil and sprinkle with salt right before baking for 8-10 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack. Bake one by one.

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xxx

banana bread muffins

I've been in kind of a creative rut. And when I say creative rut, I mean more of a life style rut. DSC_6962

Since I arrived home from my travels about a month and a half ago, life has been a little upside down. House guests (which were actually the best), new jobs, semi-new homes, lots of dining out and not a lot of time for thinking or baking. I'm not exactly complaining... I'm just sayin'. It's been crazy.

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Even now, a week after my house guests departed, I still can't seem to find a rhythm. I guess this might take a while.In the meantime, I'll make muffins. It seems to be what I do when I'm having trouble re-adjusting.

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Chocolate Banana Bread Adapted from Daily Garnish

1/2 c brown sugar (loosely packed) 1/4 c maple syrup 1/4 c coconut oil 3 ripe bananas, mashed 1/4 c oat milk 1 tsp apple cider vinegar 1 tsp vanilla 2 c whole wheat flour 1/2 c rolled oats 1/2 tsp baking soda 1/2 tsp kosher salt 1/4 c chocolate chips 1/4 c walnuts

Add sugar, syrup, and coconut oil to bowl and beat until well combined. You can do this manually, or with a mixer.

In a separate bowl, combine oat milk with the apple cider vinegar. Add this mixture as well as the mashed banana and vanilla to the sugar/syrup/oil bowl and combine.

In another bowl, mix the dry ingredients and slowly combine them into the wet. Fold in the walnuts & chocolate but don't over mix.

Spoon the mixture into muffins cups and bake for 20ish minutes at 350 degrees or until a toothpick comes out clean.

DSC_6969xxx

hello, it's nice to meet you

Hot damn. I think I just saw a tumbleweed... Sorry. In case you didn't get the memo... I was off traveling the world and I totally just abandoned this site. That was... not my intention. But hell, who knew that backpacking for four months while keeping a travel blog would hinder my abilities to also keep up a vegan baking blog?

Me - I knew that. I should have warned myself. But instead I just pretended that I could keep this up with some mediocre post about eating vegan in different countries that would be few and far between. Hmmm. Well, that just didn't pan out, did it?

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I did do some really good Vegan eating though, it a lot of really unexpected places. Maybe I will continue to post some of those experiences in the near future. Maybe I won't. No more promises. 'Cause I think I am really bad at keeping those when living gets in the way. Living is like a full time job and it's really hard. Really fun - but oh my god, so time consuming.

But there is more. I didn't JUST get back from travels. I got back over a month ago. A MONTH. and here I sit now, 25 days into 2014, and I haven't posted a god damn thing.

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Let's remedy that, shall we?

With pictures of... SEAGULLS!

I have some baking for you too... but I really like seagulls.

I have a new found obsession with them. Actually, I think I have been harbouring an obsession for some time. But put a camera in my hand when I'm near the beach and kablammy - let's take some pictures of Seagulls.

They are just so... Gully. I dunno.

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I feel changes rolling in.

Just sayin'

x

*if you don't hate me and are interested in seeing what i got up to on my travels visit sporkvsfoon.wordpress.com - i was traveling with my main man, Sean. He's pretty ok. ;)

veggie eats in: St. Pete's

Before I left on my trip I did a bit of research - specifically for vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Russia. I heard that it might be a challenge to eat well as a vego in Russia and I didn't want to starve. Over the next couple months I am going to try and share some of delicious places that I have tried around the world. (Complete with pictures if I was brave enough to take out my Camera... which I clearly was not while in St Petersburg.) IMG_0567

Cafe Ukrop Ulitsa Marata 23 (191025)

I stopped by this cafe on my first day in St Petersburg when I was all alone. I had read that Cafe Ukrop had English menus, so I knew that I would be ok there. The cafe is quite cute but on the first floor they don't speak any English. The guy behind the counter smiled, but then opened a notebook that had various English phrases written out. He pointed to: English Restaurant upstairs.

So up I went.

The Restaurant was very nicely decorated, very clean and modern and very organic. The menus were clear and just about every dish looked amazing. The vegan dishes were marked, as were raw dishes and anything that you add milk or cheese to.

I settled on a potato, pea and cucumber salad with a cashew mayonnaise and lots of dill - Those Russians love their dill. I was craving vegetables in a bad way, so I also had a carrot juice. Gotta keep my orange glow.

I would definitely recommend this place for vegans and veggies alike. I didn't try their desserts, but they looked amaze. I found all these places on HappyCow.com so check that out too - usually opening hours are listed but most places in Russia are open late (9 or 10)

Cafe Botanika 7 Ulitsa Pestelya (near Mukhinskoye Arts Institute)

We visited Botanika on our second day. And then our third. And then our fourth. They, too, had an English menu and waitresses that were adorable. On our first visit, Sean and I both had a juice and I went the full Russian and followed that up with a beet salad and then some Borsch. BEET OVERLOAD (but not - I could eat Beets forever.) Both dishes were sooooo good. Sean had a Dillwich, whichh was some kind of wrap - and a mulled wine. The prices were reasonable and the food was so comforting.

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We returned the next two days for multiple coffees. Mostly cause the waitresses were so cute.

The Idiot Nab. reky Moiky 82

The Idiot was our restaurant of choice for our night out to the theater. We arrived at about 6.15pm and were greeted and seated immediately. The decor was very homely - it kind of felt like I was in a Babushka's dinning room. There were tall candles on each table and china cabinets against each wallpapered wall. It was sort of in the basement of a building which made it a very cozy place to dine. The menu was in both Russian and English with some charming spelling and grammar mistakes. We opted for the non-smoking section, but pretty much everyone smokes in Russia and you can do it pretty much everywhere - so that is something to keep in mind, it was rather smokey.

The best part about the Idiot is by far the bread basket. It comes with about 5 different kinds of the best bread ever. They also bring you a trio of flavoured butters (not vegan) but still a nice touch.

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For drinks we ordered a honey and pepper spiced shot of Vodka (when is Russia) and Sean got a beer while I ordered a wine. Upon serving our drinks the waitress also brought another complimentary shot of vodka from the bar. So just to sum up - 2 shots each and an extra drink. I have read that they give this complimentary shot to everyone. Bonus!

IMG_0578I had a delicious meal of salad and with an odd main that ended up being a ginormous plate of green beans.

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I would suggest trying something with a bit more variety - but just a side note, those beans were AWESOME.

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Sean ordered a burger - which he said was awesome... but why didn't it come with a bun? Peculiar.

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Still a great place - a bit more expensive but really nice for a night out.

:) See you in Moscow!

x

I'm HOME!

and then it was September... HOLLA!

I've got some BIG news...

I'm in CAN-A-DA!

I'm on vacation for FOUR MONTHS!

Yes. This is happening. More then a couple of days ago I boarded a plane in Sydney and then 3 countries and a couple of brief days later... (I kid I kid, but it was a looong trip) I arrived in Toronto.

After some love and puppies in Toronto, I am heading on a 3.5 month trip to various places in various corners of the world with one very lovely man named my boyfriend. I'm going to try and document some of that trip via blog, but we're gunna have to see how it goes based on wifi availability etc. Anyway, I didn't wanna over take my baking blog with tales from a backpacker so instead I am introducing a second blog: www.sporkvsfoon.wordpress.com. If you are interested... head over there for some pictures (hopefully), some spork and foon puns and some updates from foreign countries. YAY! ( i'm most excited about the puns!)

(but i'm also realllllly excited about the travelling)

In the meantime... I am here in Toronto making cocktails and pretending I never left. Apparently this is what I dooo in Toronto.

DSC_2066 Welcome to Margarita-ville. Population: ME.

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My dad got a Vitamix... Colour me jealous...

Margaritas! as per the Vitamix cookbook recipe

1 Lemon, peeled and halved 1 Lime, peeled and halved 1 Orange, peeled and halved 6 ounces of Tequila 2 ounces of Grand Marnier 1/4 c. sugar 6 c. of ice 1/4 c. water

Put in vita mix.

MIX! Pour. Drink.

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I salted a glass, but that is optional. (I had just gone to hot yoga so I was replenishing my electrolytes. Obviously.)

If you don't have a vitamix, this is still doable in any blender or food processor even. The ice may not mix as well, but it will still be delicious.

Mine turned out rather yellow, but I think it's supposed to be more green. This recipe makes 8 cups, but I halved it. However, my grandma and I split the four cup batch and we were just finnnnne and dannnnnnnnnnndy.

Now if you're keen on puppy pictures, head over to Spork vs. Foon! preview below ;)

Photo on 2013-08-31 at 15.50 #4

strawberry muffins and ohmygod it's august.

woah. Where did I go?

Where did time go? Is it august? Is it MID-august? Holy moly, you guys. I can't even.

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Things are happening behind the scenes over here and it seems I haven't baked in like... 67 549 years. That is an exact estimate.

Let's not dwell on excuses as I have none. STRAWBERRY MUFFIN TIME!

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I feel like strawberries aren't put into muffins enough. Blueberries, for sure. But strawberries? And I don't know why NOT, cause these are delicious. Crazy yummy. And I like to over stuff the muffins liners so you have ginormous cafe-like muffins. oh yes.

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Strawberry Muffins Adapted from my blueberry muffins.

1 c. whole wheat flour

1 c. all purpose flour

1/4 c. oats

4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 c. brown sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 c. raw sugar

1 c. oat milk (or any non-dairy)

3 tbsp mushed banana

1 lemon, zested

1 c. fresh or frozen strawberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease or line a 12 inch muffin pan with liners. In a large bowl, mix flour, sugars, baking powder and salt. Create a well and add the milk 1/2 cup at a time. Mix with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Mix in lemon zest, vanilla and banana and stir until fully combined. Gently fold in strawberries, try not to over mix muffin batter.

Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling about 3/4 full. Bake muffins for 22 – 25 minutes until fully baked. OR fill the liners all the way full, bake as normal or maybe a few minutes more and enjoy huge muffins.

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Check back next week! I promise to post more than once a month. :) I have more things to share! Exciting things!

xxx

winter

Let's keep the words to a minimum and just focus on some beach-side pictures. This is Australia. In the winter.Eww. Just... Ewwwww. Amiright?

DSC_1762 DSC_1754 DSC_1779 DSC_1770 DSC_1771 DSC_1750 DSC_1783 These tiny little holes in the rocks FASCINATE me. It's like who-ville in there. A whole nother world.

DSC_1782 Also: Highlight of the weekend: I went to look for whales... and i saw DOLPHINS!!! (Whales woulda been cool... since I can speak whale and all... but I will see them next week... when I go WHALLLLE WATCHINNNNNNGGGG) (said in an Oprah voice)

DSC_1730-Edit eeeeeeeeeeee!

xxx

 

Breakfast and Dessert - basically the same thing

DSC_1673 copy You know what's weird?

That oatmeal and rice pudding have essentially the same ingredients and preparation/cooking instructions but one is a very distinctly a breakfast and one is very much a dessert. What is it with oats and rice? Why is rice a dessert and oats are a breakfast? Well I say to hell with that.

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Rice pudding for breakfast anyone? If we put fruit on it... its basically a balanced meal. duh.

I'm down with this train of thought.

Next thing: Why has the world been keeping home-made compote from me for the past 20-odd years. Who's wise idea was that?

I didn't think it was that easy to make I guess. And man, it is better than jam and contains less sugar... so why would you ever make jam?! WHY!? Why would you try (and probably fail) to can/jar things in boiling water  when you could really, honestly, just eat compote from the saucepan...? Riddle me that!

So - I made rice pudding. And then I made compote. And then I layered them like a fancy person and put lemon on top like an even FANCIER person and then my tastebuds exploded.

If I can have fancy tastebud explosions... so can you!

Lets get into it!

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Rice Pudding

1/2c. Arborio rice

1 c. coconut milk

1 c. oat milk

1/4 c. raw sugar

1 tsp. lemon zest

1 vanilla bean (scraped)

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Blueberry Compote

1 c. bluberries

1/8 c. sugar

1 tbsp. lemon

1 tsp. lemon zest

1 tsp. arrowroot powder

For the rice puddin'

Pour the coconut milk, oat milk, rice, sugar, and zest into a saucepan and bring to a boil over med/high heat. Once the mixture is boiling, lower the temperature and allow it to simmer while covered for about 30 minutes. I usually eyeball this because it always depends. I taste it and take it off the heat when the rice is cooked and there is only a bit of liquid left. It will firm up quite a bit as it cools. Now, mix in the cinnamon and vanilla bean scrapings.

Serve hot or cold with blueberry compote.

For the Blueberry compote

Toss everything in a small saucepan and simmer on a medium heat until sugar has dissolved and you crush up some of those berries. It doesn't take long... 3-5 minutes.

Eat direct from saucepan. Or layer with rice pudding like a fancy person.

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xxx

 

Canadia does desserts

Well well well... here we are again. DSC_1609

It's CANADA DAY! I've talked at length about what it's like to be a Canadian in another country and here I am again - feeling just the same way.

I spent the weekend deciding what to bake for Canada Day. What quintessentially Canadian treat could I make to commemorate the day?

Canadian Bacon Sandwiches with mustard? (mmm. no.)

Poutine? (ahhh... no thanks.)

Elk Burgers? (... is all Canadian food the opposite of vegan?)

Shot glasses full of maple syrup?

PERFECT. I mean... ok... maybe not. But that would be AWESOME and I secretly eat spoonfuls of maple syrup all. the. time.

What else is Canadian?

Really? I dunno. This is a question I struggle with a lot. People often ask me what Canadian cuisine is. I don't know.

Canadian bacon and maple syrup. Get down with it.

But here is the thing I realized... in Canada we have a plethora of desserts. Desserts that I always just ate and enjoyed and assumed that the rest of the world was eating and enjoying them with me. I was so wrong!

There are three desserts that I have discovered recently that many people from other countries have never had the pleasure of tasting or sometimes even heard of!

UNREAL.

Here they are in list form:

1. Smores. I know. I KNOW, guys.I don't think this is necessarily Canadian only... but it's definitely a North American thing. My boyfriend and his friends knew nothing of these "smoresss" I spoke of when we first met (in Canada) and furthermore you cannot even buy Graham crackers here in Australia. WHAT EVEN IS THAT?!

2. Beaver Tails. Pastry with cinnamon sugar. Um... does it get any more delicious? They resemble Beaver tails... BOOM - Canadian.

3. Nanaimo Bars. OK it kind of makes sense since Nanaimo is a place in British Columbia, but hell, i didn't know that until I was like... 18 at least. Woops.

4. BUTTER TARTS! How and why is this only a Canadian thing? I grew up with these tasty tarts. Interesting. Well today I introduce them to Australia... in picture form only. Cause the actual recipe was very touch and go... into my mouth.

But also they didn't hold up thattt well. So I'm not gunna tell you it was top notch. I think the problem was the crust which should have been thicker. All the ooey-gooey ness inside the tarts just broke loose and ooozed er'rewhere. Still delicious.

Anyway, had to share since it's CANADIA DAY!

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:) Have a good one!

xxx

chocolate chip cookies

COOKIES! DSC_1547 Cookies have been happening a lot around here. Like thesethese! Both winners, however I had yet to make the old classic: Chocolate Chip!

My Dad makes a pretty mean cookie... in my highschool days I could often eat 5 at a time after school. MAN they were good.

And on that note...it's Father's Day in Canada!!!
Happy Father's Day to the most awesome Dad in the world. He is super rad and hip and drinks scotch and listens to music really loud. and it's NOT cause he's deaf, it's cause he's bad ass. He also once rode his bike to attend a Foo Fighters concerts by himself... and I think that's just plain cool.
And while I will never forget the PMI... and I will hold it against you for always, you have redeemed yourself with incredible cookies and delicious muffins.
Can't wait to hang out soon. And bake things and make things hopefully with some new kitchen appliances in the t-dot! ;)
nice-fam
MISS YOU PAPA HICKS!
love love love

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Back to the cookie at hand... if your thinking that I've made these somehow a good-for-you alternative, then you're wrong. Keep searching if you must - but when your ready for a classic, chewy & sweet cookie, please return. I've not gone to any lengths (at all) to make these healthy - This is a good old fashioned chocolate chip cookie. Lots of sugar, lots of chocolate. White flour. Let's get amoungst it.

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Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from here
½ c. coconut oil 1 c. brown sugar ¼ c. oat milk 1 tbsp vanilla extract 2 c. flour 1 tsp baking soda 1 tsp baking powder ½ tsp salt 1/2 c. chopped up almond chocolate (More chocolate would be nice - but I ran out. Not surprising...)
1/2 c. walnutsFirst, pre-heat the oven to 350* F. Cream together the coconut oil & brown sugar. Make sure its well mixed. THen add in the vanilla and milk. In a separate bowl combine the dry ingredients. Combine the wet & dry and then fold in the chocolate and nuts. Roll the dough into balls in tbsp sized portions. Its is pretty crumbly but just smoosh it together and it'll be grand. Flatten the dough a bit on the pan and shape each cookie. Press some extra chocolate on top for delciousness and appearance. I also sprinkled a couple grains of sea salt on top. Cause sweet & salty... I mean come on. Bake for about 8-10 minutes.
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Let them cool... or not. and enjoy!
xxx

ch.ch.ch.ch.ch.ch.ch.ch.cherry bomb

DSC_1462 fg I just googled "random facts" because I was having trouble getting started on this blog post. Sometimes random facts are inspiring.

Like this one: Every second Americans collectively eat one hundred pounds of chocolate.

What?! is that a thing? How is this stuff even measured? What about at night time? Who are all the lonely hearts eating 100 pounds of chocolate a second between midnight and 6am.

This is an interesting fact that I have a feeling may not have much truth to it. But I'm gunna roll with it, I may not be American, but this makes me feel better about the 3 oversized chocolate bars a consumed last week.

Aside from my chocolate cravings which are ongoing and unavoidable... I am craving muchos carbohydrates lately. Muffins are delightful. Scones are perfect. Cherry Banana bread is amaze-balls. I didn't think of it prior... but chocolate would be a GREAT addition.

Just doin my part to contribute to the random facts of the world.

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Let's get into it.

Cherry Banana Bread Adapted from this recipe

3 ripe bananas 2 tbsp lemon juice 1/2 c. unsweetened apple sauce 1/4 c. raw sugar or brown sugar 1 chia egg 2 c. whole wheat flour 1/2 c. oats 3/4 tsp. baking powder 3/4 tsp. baking soda 1/2 tsp. salt 3/4 c. frozen cherries 1/2 c. walnuts

First, grease a bread pan and set aside. Preheat your oven to 350*F.

In a large bowl, mash the banana until very mushy. Combine with the sugar, lemon juice, chia egg & apple sauce. Add the cherries and fold through.

In a separate bowl combine all the dry ingredients, including the nuts. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just combined. Pour the batter into the bread pan and spread evenly. You can top it with some more cherries and walnuts for good measure.

Bake for about 55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Eat it and be merry.

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I also just read that in 1879 Belgians tried to train cats to deliver mail. Not surprisingly... it did not work.

Mail cats. pft.

xxx

blueberry scones

DSC_1212 copy I get into grooves a lot. Grooves... or habits. Habits or routines. Routines... or slightly OCD behaviour.

Like that period in my life during high school when it took me 30 minutes to complete my extensive bed time routine, which involved the opening and closing and locking and double checking of every door in my house.

Like that time from kindergarten to grade 4 when I cried everyday before school.

Like that time when I compulsively saved every cent to buy a wiener dog.

These grooves/habits/routines apply to my eating as well.

Like that time when I ate only Just Right breakfast cereal -  for every meal. I craved it so bad... it was... Just Right. And here's the kicker - I ate it dry. Yeah no milk for this girl. I would pour literally two cups of cereal in a ziploc bag with a spoon and take it to work for dinner. This went on for months. And then one day I just wasn't eating it anymore. Haven't had any since, actually. (Put on list of things to do for when I visit Toronto)

And then there was that time I only ate avocado on toast with tomato. Oh wait... that one is still going on.

And of course there was that summer that I made scones like every three days. That was by popular demand though. The demand from Sean.

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Anyway, it seems like I get into routines but then I drop them suddenly without reason and never look back. I haven't made scones in what feels like forever. So this recipe had to happen.

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It should happen for you too regardless of your current food routines.

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Sean loves it when I stack my food.

Blueberry Scones adapted from here

1 1/2 c. white flour 1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour 1/3 c. raw sugar 1 tbsp baking powder 1/2 tsp salt 1 1/4 c. coconut milk 1 c. blueberries

Preheat oven to 425*F. Sift the flour together with the baking powder and then mix in the salt and sugar. Now add cold coconut milk and mix until just combined. Fold in the blueberries or fruit of choice and gather the dough into a loose ball. Turn dough onto a floured surface and form into a circle or square or rectangle or whatever about 3/4 inch thick and cut out 8-10 scones in whatever shape you please, traingles, circles, it don't matter. Brush some extra coconut milk on top and sprinkle with extra sugar.

Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment and bake for 15 minutes - 20 minutes or until golden brown.

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xxx

yo momma.

You know last year when I went on and on about how my mom was the most awesome? Yeah... well she still is. And it's Mother's day again! So big shout-oot to my Momma in Canada. LOVE YOU!

I also miss you. Like a-lot.

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I was looking for an excuse to bake something pretty over the weekend and so I dedicate these muffins to my Maj and my Grandma. Even though my Grandma does not like chocolate in cake form. I know this. So she can have some of rice pudding I would make. :) Even though I'm pretty sure I could convince her that these are AWESOME!

I call them muffins because they are mostly healthy and I cut down on the sugar. These are the prefect Mother's Day morning muffin. Cheeky, but not too cheeky. Chocolatey, but not too chocolatey. Healthy, but not TOO healthy.

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You get the picture. These are delicious. My dad makes mean chocolate zucchini cake, so here is a vegan and super delicious version of that, in muffin form. I wonder what he's gunna bake for mother's day? Maybe the cheesecake? :)

Make these for yo momma. She's gunna loveeeeeeeeee them.

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Chocolate - Zucchini Muffins recipe adapted from here

1 1/4 c. flour (3/4 c. all purpose - 1/2 c. spelt is what I used) 1/4 c. high quality cocoa (it makes a difference. yummm) 3/4 tsp baking soda 1 1/4 tsp baking powder 1/2 tsp cinnamon 1/2 tsp salt 1 banana, mushed 1/4 c. raw sugar 1/2 c. homemade applesauce 1/2 c. oat milk 1 tsp. vanilla 1 c. shredded zucchini (as with most zucchini baking endevours, I strain some of the liquid out of the zucchini before I add it in.)

With an oven pre-heated to 350* line or grease a muffin tin. I actually lightly greased the muffin liners since this recipe doesn't have any oil or butter in it.

Now mix the flour, cinnamon, cocoa, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a medium bowl. Set aside and mix the banana, apple sauce, sugar and oat milk together. Add the vanilla and zucchini and mix until combined. Now add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and combine together but do not over mix.

Spoon the batter into the muffin liners/tray to about 3/4 of the way full and bake for 20-25 minutes. A toothpick should come out clean when ready. Allow them to cool and then enjoy! They are seriously so yummy. I was really impressed with the chocolatey-ness.

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xxx

ps. HEY MOM. let's hang out soon, m'k? ;)