Thursday, April 22, 2010

earth day cake

I've been a sort-of vegetarian for over 30 years, and have recently taken the leap into Vegan Land. It was time, for lots of reasons. I won't go into the negativity of the animal raising industry today. We're here to party! But I will say that eliminating meat from our diets is the single easiest way to increase our overall health, heal our ailing planet, and feed the hungry people of the world. If you're even a little bit interested, do some research. I'll post a few links at the bottom of this post. I promise you, you do not "need" meat. And I have been heard to say on more than one occasion that a life without cheese would not be worth living. I was right... A life without cheese is actually worth celebrating!

I made my first attempt at vegan cupcakes yesterday. Cake is important. There are some great books on vegan baking out there, which I will be collecting, but I wanted to jump right in and do some spur of the moment baking on a snowy April day, so I hit the internet. My goal in making any kind of food is to be sure it's actually food, meaning it's made from things that actually are good for my body. I'm not interested in white flour and refined sugar, so that made the search for a really good vegan cupcake recipe that much trickier. I finally found two that were pretty close to what I wanted. One had blueberries and spinach in it. I know, sounds gross, huh? I'll try it later though, because I'm an adventurous cook. What I settled on yesterday was a nice chocolate cake recipe, made with... black beans! How bizarre. I had to give it a go. And know what? They are delicious! Honest! They came out dense and moist and chocolaty, sweet, but not too sweet, and while the beans add moisture, fiber, and protein, you truly can not taste them. The original recipe is here: I made a few little changes, and this is my version of
Vegan Chocolate Black Bean Cupcakes...

In a big bowl, mix together:
1 C whole wheat flour (I used "white" whole wheat, which is a type of wheat, not a bleached flour)
1 C granulated maple sugar
1/2 C organic, unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon

Then stir in:
1/4 C brown rice syrup
1/2 C prune puree (I made mine from organic dried prunes and a little water, buzzed up in the food processor. Next time I'll soak the prunes first to soften them)
1/3 C coconut oil
1 can (15.5 oz) black beans - drained, rinsed, and pureed
2 tsp vanilla
3-5 T water - added gradually, until batter is the right cake consistency.

Fill cupcake cups about half full, and bake at 350 ยบ for about 15-18 minutes. Test with a tooth pick.
Makes 15 cupcakes.

Now about the frosting... again I wanted something made without eggs, milk, butter, and white sugar. This is tricky. I tried two versions - one with silken tofu, lemon, vanilla, and maple syrup, and another with vegan cream cheese. While they were sort of sweet and tasty, they were too runny to put on cake, and really didn't come close to actual frosting. I mixed them together, and served it as "cake dip" at my cousin's house yesterday afternoon. (Cake Dip would be really good as a Strawberry Dip) Mitzi and her friend Serena, both devoted meat eaters, munched down the cakes and dip, and asked for more, so I know I got something right. Now they're helping me search for better frosting recipes. I've got their attention! Who knows, one bite at a time, they might one day decide to leave the meat behind too. It's all baby steps. It took me over 30 years.

Now let's eat some cake!
Happy Earth Day to you!!

More info:

The Kind Life:
( I really recommend "The Kind Diet", by Alicia Silverstone)

(Why go veg? They'll tell you why!)

On Going Vegan:
(A Kaiser Permante doc speaks up!)

Happy Cow:
(Know where your leather comes from.)

101 Reasons To Go Vegetarian:
(Bet you find a few that speak to you.)

Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.  ~Albert Einstein

Thursday, April 15, 2010

a girl's gotta make a living

I'm having a Very Big Sale in the BeadShop

Now through Sunday, everything is 25% off with the Discount Code "BLOOM". 

Time for you to stock up, and for me to clean house and pay some bills! 

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

awesome auction alert

Do you know Michele Goldstein? She's a wonderful beadmaker, dearly loved throughout the bead community, and she's going through some particularly tough and sad times. Some of her friends have pulled together to organize an auction on eBay to help her out, and you just have to see the gorgeous goods being offered. I sent in my donation several weeks ago. If you thought you'd never have a shot at one of these, here's your chance! I want to see the price go through the roof on this beauty.
Now off you go! Start bidding!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

beautiful distraction

Sorry for the delay in choosing a winner for the March Bead Abundance Giveaway! I got distracted... Drum roll.... and the winner is... PA (Polly Anna)!!!!!!!! You have until Friday, April 9 to claim your prize. Since nobody claimed the February prize (I tried twice), it's now the March prize. (Sorry February winners. You snoozed...) It's a very beautiful ring. Keep it for yourself, or give it as a gift to make someone else feel abundant!

Will I do this again in April? I don't know yet...

Now, do you want to know what's been distracting me? Besides spring winds that threaten almost daily to lift my humble studio (tent) off the ground and hurtle it across the state line?


I've been thinking about them for a while now, but I couldn't quite figure out how I wanted to construct them. Good engineering is important, particularly when a beautiful object also has a utilitarian purpose. I knew I didn't need to reinvent the wheel, so I looked around online for some basics on button building. Amazingly, I didn't find what I was looking for. So I gave up for a few days, but kept the button soup simmering on a mental back burner. Then one day I was sitting with my tea cup, thinking, how do I do this??? ... And BAM! I knew what to do! I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who are making buttons in the same way, so I'm not feeling too impressed with myself. Like everything else creative, I figure the information was "given" to me from some Universal Inspiration Pool. All I had to do was ask and be patient.

So now some of you will ask, Hey Kim, will you do a button tutorial? And the answer is, Well no, but thanks for asking! I'd rather spend my time making buttons. But I'll tell you what - if you meet me over a torch somewhere, I'll happily show you how I do them.

So here they are, the first of the new buttons! I love them very much.

Happy Easter everyone! I hope you have a most wonderful celebration of Spring!