Three Hundred & Sixty Five – Days at Home: Week 18.

 

Changing the water every second day and adding a hefty teaspoon to brown sugar – Old Wives Tales that really work. Gerberas in their 3rd week. / Partially-Eaten-Apple Shortcake. Made with apples from our little tree. / One of those days. / A leaf Mae fell in love with from the Magnolia tree by the back door. Autumn’s really here. / Theo’s curls. I can’t bring myself to cut them. / May? Already? How did that happen? / Little wooden clogs perfect for dancing. / Helium balloons from a photo shoot for something very exciting on the horizon… / & Things Vegans Eat: Steamed Broccoli with Soy Sauce and Sesame Seeds. Honestly, try this for lunch someday soon. You’ll feel amazing. And there’s nothing like a virtuous lunch to justify 2 puddings.

 

 

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Day-Before-Payday Romance: A Date with Quick Brown Fox.

Think only good thoughts on Valentine’s Day.

Because, really, it is never wise to be tricked by commercialism into thinking you are missing out on something. And you are quite lovely all days of the year; even though you get declined at the money machine and sometimes you say the wrong things and you put the bins out wearing only your knickers, certain that your vigilance somehow grants you the power of invisibilty. Your neighbours do see you, you know. But you look so adorable, all bed-ruffled and wild, they’d be fools to complain.

And though you get dressed from the washing pile and leave crumbs in the bed, and spend too much time on the internet and haven’t thought enough about current events or your savings account, and you complain bitterly about things you know don’t really matter and you didn’t go for a run today, I am sure there is someone, somewhere, who adores you completely.

And, sure, it may be your Mother or it maybe your dog or it may be your children or it may be your best friend. Or maybe you don’t feel you’ve yet met someone to adore you completely, in which case, you have so much to look forward to!

Or maybe you are lucky enough to already completely adore the person who completely adores you right back, and what a thing! For all of our foibles, there’s someone who loves us. And aren’t we lucky to be so adored.

So, today, let’s just love love. Let’s hug too long and say nice things and smile and show our teeth. And let’s be thankful that there’s air in our lungs and kisses to be kissed and chocolate to be eaten, no more today than any day.

And then, to celebrate all our good fortune, let’s make the most insanely decadent, sinfully delicious thing we can imagine.

And then eat it for breakfast.

Roast 3/4 of a cup if Hazelnuts in the oven at 175oc for 10-15 minutes. This helps seperate them from their skins, which will then come away when rubbed with a tea towel, or between your fingers, if you don’t mind the cursing it will entail as you burn your fingertips.

While these are roasting, pit 10 Medjool Dates. These are Dates for people who think they don’t like Dates. They’re huge and fresh and soft. They taste like caramel. If caramel came from heaven.

Place Hazelnuts in the food processor with half a block of good quality dark chocolate (I used Whittakers Dark Cacao), and half a tablespoon of brown sugar. Use Demerara, if you are feeling fancy – this will gives a great texture to the filling you are making for the Dates. Whizz on high while slowly adding a generous drizzle of Olive Oil to combine the mixture. (Pro-Tip: This is essentially Nutella in Veganism! You’re welcome!)

Now comes time for the secret ingredient! Booze! (I used Quick Brown Fox. It’s an organic-Coffee Liqueur, with a hint of cinnamon. It’s full and balanced and smooth. It’s flavours tell you a story. A story so delicious it’s ridiculous. It’s also accidentally Vegan! You can read more about it here: http://www.quickbrownfox.co.nz/) Add to suit your taste.

Once your mixture is combined, add just enough to fill the center of your Dates while still being able to close them seamlessly. This will be around half to a full teaspoon, depending on the size of your Dates.

In a double boiler, or a double boiler of your making (I find a bowl in a pot of shallow boiling water perfectly sufficent) melt the other half of your block of good quality dark-chocolate. With a spoon, roll the Dates in the chocolate until completely covered and leave to set on a plate lined with baking paper.

Once set, dip those suckers again! Because your decadence knows no bounds and maybe you are channelling Juliette Binoche in Chocolat and a Gypsy Johnny Depp was her boyfriend in that, so, you know. Sometimes, nothing succeeds like excess.

And now, to sweeten your day just that little more: A Valentine’s Day Giveaway!

In the spirit of the day, share the best compliment you have recieved; the one that tickled you pink, or put roses in your cheeks, or a spring in your step – on Valentine’s Day or any other day – and leave it in the comments section.

With help from Special Guest Judge: Arjun from Quick Brown Fox, a winner will be selected next Thursday the 22nd of February and sent a beautiful bottle of Quick Brown Fox all their own. Perfect for those loquacious evenings with friends, and for trying out this recipe!

(WINNER: Congratulations to ohdearred! That ‘your nose is as cute as all of Japan riding on a kitten’ is about the cutest thing we’ve ever heard. Enjoy your bottle of Quick Brown Fox – and make sure and high-five your darling from us, we’ll be using that line in future!)

So, Happy Valentine’s Day to you, dearheart. You look absolutely smashing (hunched over your monitor). xx

Day-Before-Payday Baking: Partially-Eaten-Apple Shortcake.

Find, in every room of your house, a partially eaten Granny Smith apple. This is your reality now. Don’t fight it.

In a large bowl sift 2 cups of self-raising flour, 1 cup of brown sugar and a pinch of cinnamon. Add to the dry ingredients 1 tablespoon of vinegar (I use Apple Cider), 6 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 cup of luke-warm water. Mix until combined. Pour half of the mixture into a cake pan that you have either greased or lined or is made of silicone because you are terribly modern. Do this all very quickly, as to not attract the attention of the children. If they do wander into the kitchen, looking for something to eat or ruin, simply hold aloft one of the partially eaten Granny Smith apples and make leading and severe eye contact.

Thinly slice 2 partially eaten Granny Smith apples. Layer these on top of the mixture and sprinkle with brown sugar. Pour the last half of the mixture over top and smooth over with the back of a spoon until it is completely covering the partially eaten Granny Smith apples.

Bake at 175 degrees for 30 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack, dust with icing sugar and serve.

Pro-tip: The children will still not eat the apples. But Partially Eaten Partially-Eaten-Apple Shortcake is so meta it’s best not to think about it.

Day-Before-Payday Baking: No Dairy, No Egg, No Fun Chocolate Cake.

Find a large bowl. This may be a difficult task considering you made a cup of tea in a gravy boat this morning, but press on. Into this bowl place 1 and 1/2 cups of flour. Preferably self-raising because that is one less ingredient for you to forget. Add to this 1 cup of sugar. Let the children sift these ingredients if you must. You can then feel you have done something with them today other than hiding from them in the laundry. Return to the bowl as much of the dry ingredients as the children are now covered in. Tell them they are good helpers. This is called positive affirmation. You no longer recieve this, as you are now a parent. No annual reviews for you, my friend. Welcome to the rest of your life. Now send them away so you can actually bake this bloody thing.

To the bowl add a generous heaping of cocoa powder. By now the children will have returned from the 30 seconds they were not under your feet or at your elbow. Try your best to keep them from the Quintessential Childhood Mistake of shovelling great helpings of the stuff into their gobs; thinking they have discovered endless chocolate riches. Half a cup should do. Throw half a teaspoon of salt in for good measure.

Stir. Remember that the secret ingredient is not actually love; it’s butter. But as this is a Vegan cake, love will have to do. Think about something nice. The fictional Vampire of your choosing; paying off your credit card; not being spoken to for an hour.

Make 3 wells in the dry ingredients. To these wells add 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence; 1 tablespoon of vinegar (I use Raspberry) and 5 generous tablespoons of olive oil. Throw 1 cup of tepid water over the whole shebang and get out all your passive agression mixing that shit together. Once combined cook in a greased cake tin of some description in a preheated oven at 190 degrees on fan bake. Half an hour should do it. Enough time to dump another load of washing on your couch and will it to fold itself. Maybe half-ass the hoovering. Or until a knife comes out clean.

Once cooked turn out on a wire rack and leave to cool. Or don’t. But you know the icing won’t set and you’ll wish you had waited. And yes, I know you could just put it in the fridge, but come on. Just do it bloody properly, will you? Or simply dust with icing sugar. I am not here to limit you.

Should you choose to make an icing; mix equal parts ‘yeah, nah, that looks about right’ of cocoa powder and icing sugar and a trickle of water. More dry ingredients if it is too thin, more water if it is too thick. You will end up with far too much either way. But then you can let the children lick the bowl. And they will be quiet. Take a picture.

Time the serving with Sesame Street and you just brought yourself an hours nap. Or, an hours uninterrupted worrying. Which ever is most pressing on your agenda. You’re welcome.