Posted in Cooking, London Life, Uncategorized

Radishes: Yum.

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Posted in Cooking, Family Life

Rhubarb Bars: The Verdict

This afternoon, I harvested five stalks of rhubarb from the garden and whipped up the rhubarb bars I mentioned in my previous post.

 

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One leaf disguised a particularly large garden pest…

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I wound up using the crust from this recipe since I didn’t have any cream cheese, but it’s very similar to the one in the original link. Here’s the rhubarb stewing away before being pureed:

 

Then I added the other ingredients, including several splashes of natural food coloring (beetroot extract):

And finally, the finished product:

The verdict: yummy, but I found the curd a bit too thick for my taste–I like it a little bit gooey. Next time I might make more rhubarb puree or aim to keep it a bit runnier with one less egg and/or less cooking time.

Also, my pest turned out to be a helper later on:

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Posted in Cooking, Family Life

Sometimes food is NOT for sharing

The general sentiment around cooking and eating is that it’s a lovely communal activity, something we should share with those we love to enrich our lives and our souls. Usually this is true in my household, too–most days, we all eat together as a family and isn’t it messy, noisy and chaotic lovely.

But not today. Today, I wanted a big, fat, sugary American cinnamon roll and I wanted it without a side of whining children who are eager to send me round the bend help. My husband took the kids to the park so I decided it was a great time to whip up a cinnamon roll for one: bring on the mug cake recipes! This food is not for sharing.

The link above takes you to the instructions for this delicacy. Before we begin, I’m going to tell you a few other things this blog/blog post is NOT: it is not a blog that uses phrases like “guilty pleasures”–you might find my recipe for pink goop below disgusting, but I still don’t feel guilty about making or eating it. It is not one of those food blogs with professional photos–I rely solely on my trusty iPhone and terrible sense of framing. It is not a gourmet blog where everything is the best thing you’ve ever eaten–I make food in my teeny tiny kitchen, with minimal implements and regular ingredients. It is not a lifestyle blog where everything is super healthy all the time and I look amazing and live a picturesque life.

This is a blog where, if I really need a sugar hit first thing on a Saturday morning, I make a cake in a microwave. It’s a place where, if I haven’t got powdered sugar, I substitute marshmallows melted in said microwave with a teeny bit of butter and a splash of milk (stir and you get a super sugary, glossy pink “icing” as per the pictures). It’s a place where you’ll find honest reviews of a mug cake recipe: even though this isn’t the best cinnamon roll I’ve ever had, it is pretty good and makes it possible for me to stop contemplating an expensive plane ticket home to Texas just because I need good junk food now (sounds like an oxymoron but trust me, it’s not).

So, to the cooking: I followed most of the instructions and found them accurate. I didn’t feel the need to be vegan today, so I did use regular butter to grease the mug and I spread a very thin layer of butter on the dough before sprinkling the cinnamon sugar (I used regular, not coconut). I cooked the cinnamon roll for the full 1 min and 10 seconds, but in hind sight, I’d shave 5 seconds off of that time. The dough is definitely not the same as a regular cinnamon roll, but it’s a good substitute, and on the whole I was happier eating this microwaved treat than some rubbish substitute I could find at the store (the Brits bake lots of nice things but when it comes to ridiculous excess, they struggle to match us Yanks).

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As mentioned, I also made up a ridiculously pink goop icing to top the whole thing off. I’ve made marshmallow fondant before, so I knew I could probably whip up a decent “sauce” using a handful of these. I’m happy to say it worked well: teeny bit of butter (so they don’t stick to the dish), splash of milk (a tablespoon? maybe two), and a generous handful of marshmallows, microwaved for about 20 seconds, then stirred vigorously.

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Otherwise, I followed the recipe, and I pronounce it solid. I ate the entire cinnamon roll in my silent, sunny kitchen and loved every bite.

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Now I’m off to enjoy the remaining moments of solitude with a book. Happy Saturday!

Posted in Cooking, Family Life, London Life, Uncategorized

Rhubarb, Blue-barb

It turns out gardening in England is much easier than gardening in Texas. In Austin, I planted a small rhubarb plant and promptly watched it shrivel up and die, despite watering it daily. Here in London, it’s about to sprout legs and walk around! My eldest little calls it “blue-barb” and we were planning to combine the lovely stalks with homegrown strawberries, but the boys keep eating those straight off of the vine:

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Anyway, I’m planning to harvest the first batch of blue-barb tomorrow, so naturally I spent a good chunk of today looking for tasty new recipes on Pinterest. Here’s what I unearthed (check out that pun):

  1. First up will be these rhubarb bars. I love lemon bars and rhubarb’s tartness should make a great change–in fact, I wonder if I could whip up a tart au rhubarbe…check out the finished product and review here.

2. Then I might make this old-fashioned rhubarb pudding cake, just to see if it actually works (magic pudding cakes are so much fun, although I find they don’t keep well).

3. Finally, to stick with the theme from my last post, here’s a vegan raspberry rhubarb crisp that uses nuts for extra flavour and crunch. (I haven’t made it yet but based on experience of cooking rhubarb, I’d double the sugar.)

And while I didn’t grow much in Texas, I did grow these carrots–I think it’s time to update the phrase “two peas in a pod”:

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Posted in Austin, Texas, Cooking, Family Life, Uncategorized

(Wo)man in the Mirror

After Trump’s decision to leave the Paris accord, chatter has increased about what individuals, cities, states, and companies can do to abide by our pledges. This article from Forbes has a clear list of ways all of us can help. I already do a bunch of these things: the majority of my wardrobe is secondhand from charity shops (I love Savers in Austin, TX–can’t wait to go there whenever we visit next!), we have a car but only use it a few times a week as we prefer walking and public transportation, and we buy as much organic, local food as we can afford (hello, weekly farm box delivery).

But I still think there’s more we can do. In particular, I’m going to renew my focus on eating vegetarian and vegan meals at least 2 days/week (or six meals in total). My husband and I were both vegetarians for a long time before we met, and while we do eat meat now, we work hard to minimize the amount of animal products we eat while also paying attention to what we replace them with (e.g. more fruits and veg, rather than highly processed substitutes).

Cooking from scratch takes time and energy (and usually adds to the workload of women/moms), so when I find pretty easy recipes that are also vegan/vegetarian and yummy, I hang on to them for dear life. While I like cookbooks, I actually prefer recipes from bloggers because I find them easier to replicate in my own kitchen. Here are three of our favorite vegan (or easily made vegan) recipes from other bloggers:

Sweet Potato Taquitos: This recipe is our newest addition and my current favorite! I use a blend of sweet potato and butternut squash, but you don’t have to. I find them easy to make AND super easy to freeze, so I always double or triple this recipe and save the extra. We eat them with guacamole, black beans, and rice.

Slow Cooker Morrocan Eggplant: Super easy to make, and while you do have to hunt down the spice blend depending on where you live (in the US, I’ve found it at HEB, Central Market, and Whole Foods; in the UK, our local Sainsbury’s and Ocado both carry it), it lasts for ages. We like it with couscous.

White Girl Dahl: Easy and so, so delicious. This one is my husband’s fave out of the three. Pick any butter substitute (we just used veg oil) for the start of the recipe and skip the added butter at the end to make it vegan. We had smoked paprika roasted cauliflower on the side (chop up a head of cauliflower, toss in a couple tablespoons of oil with plenty of smoked paprika, salt and pepper to taste, roast for about 20-25 min) and naan.

So there you have it: three ways to be a climate activist. New recipes welcome in the comments section!