Monday, June 23, 2008

Hi. Mark here. Now, I'm not vegan, but I'm a celiac, which means I can't have gluten (found in wheat, barley, rye, etc.) However, I'm one of Kelly's friends, which means we occasionally eat together. So I've been invited to guest-column whenever I find something spectacular that we can share.

So, without further ado, may I please present a vegan, celiac-friendly cinnamon roll! Pretentious me, saying I can present it...I'm not the first to enjoy it, and I won't be the last. Well, I might...I'll (with any luck) be enjoying this until the end of my days.

But let's establish a setting. I was in a Santa Cruz natural-foods store ironically named The Staff Of Life looking for gluten-free cereal, etc. when I chance upon a few boxes of these and the smaller "baby bites" version also made by Anza. I couldn't resist (my last cinnamon roll had been half a decade earlier).

My first bite wasn't for an hour, though. Crumbs in the car and whatnot. So, anyhoo, the hot afternoon had led into a mildly warm evening, so I ended up sitting on my hostesses' patio furniture, waiting for the house to cool down. I don't know if it was the heat, but my hedonistic impulses got the best of me.

Suffice it to say that the other two didn't make it past noon the following day (the fourth was eaten by my non-vegan non-celiac hostess, who declared it "nommable.")

I wholeheartedly recommend these cinnamon rolls to all celiacs, all vegans, and especially all vegan celiacs. At ~230 calories and 7 grams of fat apiece (as I remember), they're a reasonable treat.

By the way, in case you're wondering, I'll get my own cool caricature soonish. Stay tuned for more from Markle!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Vegan paleosol cupcakes (a novel)

So it's time for Adventure # 2 in our "Meg is a Complete Nerd" tale. (It's really probably Adventure # eleventy-billion at this point, as I'm sure Kelly can testify.)

Adventure # 1 recap: Meg likes baking. Meg likes science. Baking + science + MORE science (since it already is science, haha) = sexy funky fun. Some of you who have been around for a while may remember the trilobite cookies I made for the last day of my Paleontology I class last semester, modified from a recipe found on the PPK forums. My class, my awesome GTF (go buy things from her etsy store), and my professor loved them!

This term (which is ending this week) I took, from the same professor, Intro to Paleopedology, which is basically the study of paleosols, which = fossil soils). It's fun but a lot of it is way over my head. Still, I decided that this term my challenge was going to be: paleosol cupcakes.

Soil, and therefore paleosols, differentiate into neat little layers as they get more older and more developed, and they do so in different ways based on climate, organisms, time, the parent material, and the topography. It looks sort of like a layer cake, with all sorts of yummy bits inside. Of course the bits and the layering get smushed and changed as the soil is later weathered and buried, which is where the fun of paleopedology comes in - trying to reconstruct the original soil, and from that, the original environments. You can use paleosols to figure out all sorts of neat stuff (mean annual precipitation rates, for example...are you guys bored yet?).

I modeled my paleosol after the oxisols in the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument in central Oregon, which is gorgeous as hell but hot as all get out (and if any of y'all are anthropology geeks too, like yours truly, it's where fossils of the omomyid Ekgmowechashala were found - sadly I did not find any). Here's the group:

Jenny, Becky, me, Troy, Dimitri, Greg, and Jonathan

Here are some more pictures from the research field trip we went on in April.

Oxisols are basically rainforest soils - very deeply weathered, usually red, nutrient depleted, and quite useless for agriculture. Root traces in the form of drag root halos are often found in these soils. Here's an example. (Mine kind of ended up looking more like an alfisol but shhhhh don't tell anyone.)

So here's my (all-vegan, of course) cupcake version.

Look at the pretties!

It is:

(a) basic vanilla batter from VCTOtW (with red food coloring)
(b) vegan white chocolate chips from Pangea
(c) rich chocolate ganache from VCTOtW
(d) cream cheese frosting from VCTOtW (with green food coloring and chocolate cookie bits)
(e) flower sprinkles

And here it is all diagrammed out:

Paleosol cupcake 1

I spent way too much time dreaming about making these this term.

For those of you who know/care about paleosols, please keep in mind that all I know about them was gleaned from a paleoenvironment class during fall term and paleopedology this term. :P I'm not an expert so don't quote me for your school science project, either.

So hopefully someone from the Berkeley graduate school of education will see this and let me in, and disregard my GRE score.

I really should be studying for the last final of my undergradute career right now. At 5:15 I will have completed a B.A. with a double major in anthropology and German and a minor in geology. And it only took five fucking years and out of state tuition. Fun times.