january cold | whole wheat banana bread pancakes

we’re just over half way through january. the winter cold has been hitting us pretty hard over the last week, which should be expected after the strangely mild december we had. most mornings have been starting off anywhere between -18 to -12 celcius.

this is my nesting weather. i swear that my body retains cold far more than it contains heat. i go outside for merely a minute and take hours to warm back up to a reasonable temperature. anybody else?
anyhow, i’ve been keeping myself toasty with yoga at least once every day with Yoga With Adriene’s 30 Day Yoga Challenge, and baking.

speaking of baking – our electric range gave out today, mid-challah baking. of all times.
i suppose there is no good time for a baker’s oven to give out, though.

it was my first 4-strand braided challah and it was looking mighty beautiful; i placed it in the oven proud. not even 5 minutes later i turned on the oven light to check inside, to find a VERY nearly burnt crust. i could barely believe my eyes. Continue reading

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new year | our daily bread: honey spelt loaf

happy belated christmas, and new year, folks!

i hope the last few weeks that i’ve been away have treated you all well! i certainly can not complain.

it is pretty damn cold over here in atlantic canada (-18 today with a windchill of -28 tonight………), so i’ve been busying myself about inside my (sometimes – when the heat pump doesn’t shut down from the cold) cozy house. i’ve been doing the 30 days of yoga for the last week with Adrienne, whom i’ve been following for a couple years now and absolutely adore. of course, i’ve been just as busy in the kitchen – you likely know this if you follow me on instagram; i’ve been experimenting with challah, double pie crusts (vegan AND flakey, whaaaaaaat!?), and even homemade butter made in the kitchenaid! 

honestly, for me it has felt like 2015 for months now – i feel like SO much has happened since the beginning of 2014 that it couldn’t possibly have just been a year ago. last january marked the first time since i was 5 of not attending school, as i decided that university was notttttttttttttt my thing. i was struggling with depression and anxiety and my weight was no where near in a healthy range due to my poor relationship with my body and with food. i bought my first car in february. a couple months after that, i traveled to ontario and had full intentions on moving there. i came back in late april and filled my free time with muffin baking and sad attempts at bread. i got a job in a small cafe for the spring and summer. i quit said job in august. i continued making sad attempts at bread. i made my first successful sandwich loaf in late october and have been baking our bread weekly ever since! throughout all of that, i reconnected with myself and reattained a healthy relationship with food and am now back at my healthy weight for the first time in 2 years. i am happy – the last few months i have said this and actually meant it for the first time in many years.

2015 marks the beginning of a year that i have started off happily and healthfully. i do not make resolutions generally, but i am resolving to complete this year in the same condition that i began it.

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with all of that, i am about to share with you the recipe that has been in productions for months and months and months – our daily honey spelt sandwich loaf. many times i have failed painfully at variations of this bread, only to throw the scraps out the back door for the crows whom i swear began to eat every meal here… assuming that crows have meal times. Continue reading

surviving christmas | soft-batch gingersnaps

it’s hard to believe that we’re just a week away from the big day! i don’t know about you, but the months have absolutely flown by since August for me. around this time, it’s much too easy to get thrown around in the tornado of hustling and bustling and trying to get every single thing done, every. single. day. i here you, believe me – i’m no where’s near “done” my holiday preparations, and likely won’t be until christmas eve. so! in the state of empathy and understanding, i thought i would share my general tips for stress and task-overload management. yay! (there are gingerbread men at the end of this post, so perhaps that will intrigue you to stick around????)

what i have found with managing to juggle daily life with holiday preparations, is that my method of management is pretty similar to the way i worked in school. so, take these tips along with you each day as they pertain to school, work, and christmas prep (which i know feels like a full time job this month!).

  • prioritize and organize: i am a list-oholic, and feel totally unorganized and stressed without one. when you are swamped with seemingly hundreds of things to do, i feel that the only real way to get any of it done is to prioritize and organize it by when it needs to be completed by. in terms of christmas, there is only one “due date”, so perhaps organize by task: buying for one person at a time, decorating one day, baking a couple days. use a list and check off each of these tasks as you go to keep a clear mind about what you have already accomplished and what still needs to be done. if you can, work on certain things a little bit at a time – i found this to be extremely helpful in university if i had a large essay to be done, or studying for exams. lately however, i have been baking a few things each day and storing them in my freezer; baking gingerbreads one day, pies the next, etc.
  • take time for you: i would have gone absolutely bonkers in university if i didn’t follow this seemingly simple rule that i set for myself. for me, i designated certain hours “work hours” and certain hours as time to relax and do things that i wanted to do. i know that when some people are faced with exams, they stay up all hours of the night cramming – this is not for me (besides, how much are you really taking in if you’re working right up until you fall asleep at your desk?). take time for yourself at the beginning, middle and end of each day and (if possible) insert an hour in between to do something you enjoy. lately, for me, this means upon waking up, i enjoy a cup of coffee and breakfast/read my favorite blogs then work work work until just before lunch, take time to do even just a bit of yoga, and making myself a nourishing and satisfying meal and getting away from technology, work work work until dinner, and then end the night with a few episodes of gilmore girls (haha!).
  • eat well!: i hinted at this above, but when you’re busy trying to get work done, studying, or even just christmas shopping, it is SO important to stay fueled. you wouldn’t drive your car around the city with no gas, and your body is no different. i don’t know about you, but when i am hungry, i am ANGRY, UNFOCUSED and TIRED. a combination of those three equals no bueno for getting anything productive accomplished. i like to start my day with as much protein, fibre and carbs as i possibly can; usually in the form of half of a ripe banana, somewhere around a cup of plain greek yogurt topped with various nuts, seeds, dried fruit and honey.       .
  • remember, you are only human: sometimes things come up and/or don’t go as planned. that is OKAY. remember, it’s the holidays – a time to be with loved ones, eating fabulously seasonal foods, and gifting –  n o t  a time to be a weird super-human-robot.

Continue reading

a shift | my food philosophy

lately i’ve been doing some re-evaluating. i’ve thought about how, or if, i would address this on my blog.

warning: this may be a ramble, and no recipes are attached.

when i first began my vegan baking adventure i felt that the possibilities were endless. i set out to prove to people that delicious baked goods could still be made without animal products and wheat. soon after, i ventured into vegan and gluten free baking while i worked at a cafe that wished to offer gluten free options i even  experimented with gluten free meals to have at home, despite having no gluten allergy.  eventually, i had worked with gluten free flours enough that i was comfortable developing my own vegan and gluten free muffins and quick bread recipes to share with family and friends. i proved my point.

there was a problem, though: with reflection, i can see that i was turning my back to other learning opportunities in baking by choosing to avoid eggs, wheat, etc. i feel that at some point i lost my real values amongst the other loud voices on the internet. for the past couple of months, i have found that my attention to certain other food blogs and baking interests have shifted. i am less interested in specifically vegan baking and more in baking as a whole.

over four years ago now, i made the choice to go vegetarian and have never looked back since, and can never see that changing. this past march i decided to try out veganism. i am very happy i made this step, because it opened my eyes and allowed me to think more creatively about how food can come together. about a month ago, though, i found that a completely diet did not work for me physically, and am now eating dairy yogurt and eggs. i choose not to drink or use dairy milk simply for preference of nut milks.

HOWEVER: because i choose to not eat meat does NOT mean that i look down on people who choose differently. i believe that all meat and animal products should, if eaten, be eaten mindfully. this means to understand that ingredients in a dish came from a living creature and should not be thrown around wastefully. these products should be respected and responsibly sourced, whenever possible. the fact is, yes, there are some big and bad farms out there that abuse their animals and their rights. forever this will be ingrained into my brain and my heart. but, there are also some really passionate farmers out there (especially here in canada) who respect their animals and what they do for them – i believe this.

MY FOOD PHILOSOPHY: i believe simple food is the best food. simple does not necessarily mean the least amount of time or the least amount of ingredients, but food made with ingredients that are in their purest form. in my books, homemade food will always trump store-bought & packaged. i believe in sustainable living and moderation, this means respecting ALL of your ingredients and how they were sourced. i believe in living to sustain your body and mind, not a definition or diet.

with all of this in mind, there may be a slight shift on the blog in time. much of what i cook, bake and eat is still vegan and therefore much of what i post will still be vegan. however, i plan on learning more about baking with eggs and possibly some dairy, so that may be expected as well. again, this blog is called little adventures for a reason.

now i am off to tend to some lovely vegan gingersnaps fresh from the oven,

happy holidays!

serendipity | toasted hazelnut spice cakes

it is just barely mid afternoon, the windows are streaked with rain, puddles are forming on each and every lawn. they’re calling for 150mm of rain in the next 24 hours. yesterday started out at -7, never exceeding 0, and today began at +7 with temperatures rising – that’s nova scotia for you, folks.

i was awake hours before the sun (or lack there-of today, i suppose), as per usual. after my morning coffee and kamut porridge, i began todays’ task; a double batch of mini vegan pumpkin pies.
i feel like once the word “mini” is added to anything, it is then perceived as less impressive, maybe less admirable. can we maybe kick that to the curve? i spent 3 hours on these babies, BEFORE they even reached the oven.  making a whole wheat crust with coconut oil, allowing it to chill while i made the spiced pumpkin filling; carefully rolling out each of the 24 balls of dough, chilling as i went, shaping each and every edge; filling them generously and then FINALLY placing them in the 350 oven, with a sigh. i probably moved no more than 3 feet to either side of me during those 3 hours.
this is what i love. those three hours – each time i bake, really – are pure serendipity. i find pure joy in creating something that can, just for a moment, make somebody so happy from merely nothing. that is why i do it, on top of preparing at least two, maybe three, wholesome and healthy meals for my family and i. cooking and eating – it brings us together, serendipitously. i would, can, and will do this forever. hopefully as a career one day, if life should throw me the opportunity; most definitely as a passion, if not.

today i have a little something to aromatically waken your home with holiday cheer. these little spice cakes will most certainly find a place on my table this holiday season, to contrast the richness of most other treats. they are lightly sweetened with pure maple syrup, heavily spiced with cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and allspice, and the addition of toasted hazelnuts compliment the natural nuttiness of spelt flour. if nothing else, make these purely for the heavenly aroma that will strike you as soon as you enter the house. Continue reading

warming from the inside out | roasted sweet potato and carrot soup

before this year, i’d never been much of a soup person. i’d have some of your typical campbell’s tomato soup with a grilled cheese when i was younger, but to just sit down and have a bowl of soup, nooope.

i’ve been sitting on this recipe for a few months now. i’d stumbled upon Love and Lemon’s curried sweet potato soup and roasted carrot turmeric soup and was inspired to make a hearty homemade soup. as i’ve mentioned previously, i’m not much of a recipe follower unless it involves yeast and rising time. so, i made a combined version of these two soups 3 or 4 times and have narrowed it down to a flavor that i really love.

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holiday preparations | vegan strawberry-almond thumbprint cookies

this week has involved a lot of holiday prep – from walking amongst tens of thousands of spruce and fir trees to find two of our very own, to finally beginning my christmas shopping, to holiday recipe development – i stop for a second; my mind is up, ready to go, even slightly hyper feeling but my eyes and my limbs are not keeping up. lucky for me, i really have nothing pressing. i’m grateful for these days as i know they will not last.

in other news (or perhaps not, if you follow me on instagram), i made my very first lemon tarts a couple days ago. my neighbor asked me late that afternoon to have them ready for the following afternoon. i knew i had a reliable pie crust recipe, but the filling? ah. i followed a recipe for “vegan lemon curd” with the result being a (tasty, nonetheless) lemon syrup. not good. my first batch of pie crusts turned out more like shallow saucers, and were much too hard (busy & distracted = forgetful). ditching all recipes, i totally winged it, making a vegan lemon “cream” as a filling, using plain coconut yogurt, the lemon syrup, and a few add ins, topping them with shredded coconut. i baked brand new flaky pie crusts the morning of, around 5:30 am. the result was lovely, despite the many complications previous. i think there’s a lesson hidden in there somewhere, something about patience and persistence.

we all have special treats that are really only special because of the memories they hold; reminiscent of birthdays, holidays, rainy weekends. thumbprint cookies, to me, were always reminiscent of the holidays, as they rarely made an appearance at any other time of the year. sometimes they would be filled with milk chocolate (in my milk chocolate days), sometimes caramel chips, or jam. this year, being as it’s my first Christmas with any kind of baking experience, i knew having thumbprint cookies around would be essential. i wanted them to be simple, just as the ones in my childhood were, with a light crumb and a decadent filling in it’s own right. fill them with what you wish, i really can’t think of any flavour that wouldn’t work here.

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Vegan (Strawberry-Almond) Thumbprint Cookies
(inspired by Joy The Baker)

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cup almond meal (can sub any ground nut)
  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup solid virgin coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup cane sugar
  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flax + 3 tbsp water)
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract (can sub vanilla extract)
  • ~ 12-13 tsp strawberry jam (or jam of your choice)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk ground flax and water and set aside.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, or stand mixer, cream together solid coconut oil and cane sugar until light and creamy. Add in your flax egg and extract of choice and combine.
  4. Add flour and ground almonds (or other nut) and combine thoroughly. I used a fork here, really working to create a consistent wet sand texture. This cookie dough will be very crumby, but resist adding any liquid.
  5. Grab roughly a heaping tablespoon’s worth of dough, working with your hands until it forms a ball. The dough should come together as the heat from your hands melts the coconut oil and releases the natural nut oils. Lightly press down on the middle and work around dough ball to create a dip in the middle. Repeat. I was able to make 10 medium sized cookies and 6 smaller cookies. The medium cookies filled with a teaspoon of jam and the smaller ones with half a teaspoon.
  6. Bake cookies for 15 minutes. They will be just barely golden around the edges and will still feel soft to touch and the jam will be quite runny. This is okay, they will firm up as they cool.

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around here lately | mini vegan carrot cakes

here i am again, a month has passed since my last blog post. i will get the hang of this some day, i’m sure.

in the last month a few things have gone down:
– i suffered through the 6 hours of painfully obvious lecturing of the food handlers course and got my certificate. this is a positive step in some kind of a direction, yay!
– i have been successfully baking bread every week (!!!) for our house, byebye store-bought!!!
– i’ve been baking (duh), and have added 4 ready-to-go recipes to my (very unorganized) recipe book.
– christmas tree hunting!!!!!! yay! we got a tree for outside and inside this year, and i am just too pleased. with the mixture of vanilla essence, spruce tree aroma, and whatever i’m baking that day, my house smells crazy. good crazy.

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anyhow, as promised, i’ve got my mini carrot cake recipe here for you. Continue reading

nomnomnomnom | vegan chocolate beet “cakies”

alright, i know. i know. i’ve been majorly slacking as far as blogging goes – but! recipe wise? nuh uh, buddy. in fact, dare i say it, i think i’ve developed 3 of my best recipes in the past couple of weeks and soon they will live here, muwaha. because we’re friends, i’ll give you a little heads up of what’s to come – coconut coffee (!!!) chocolate chip muffins, mini carrot cakes with cashew cream cheese frosting (that ACTUALLY tastes like cream cheese, holler!)… and the recipe i’ve got for you today.

i’ll let you in on an embarrassing little secret. cookies scare me. i’ve had a lot of cookie flops. paper-flat cookies, hard cookies, “…what is it?” cookies.. etc. but THESE. well, i’m not sure that calling them cookies really do them justice, hence “cakies” – we can thank Molly for this adorable term. they’re rich and chocolately, using organic raw cacao powder (but a good quality cocoa powder will do just fine), with BEETS hidden in them giving them a beautiful red hue (and so that we can say they’re healthy, hehe). they are light and fluffy like cake, with the perfect sturdy exterior to make them hand-held.

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