Showing posts with label chocolate. Show all posts
Showing posts with label chocolate. Show all posts

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.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Backlog of food & JP's birthweek festivities

Hey folks. Earth Week and our vegan challenge week was nuts (ended last night with Laura of Guilty Vegan Pleasures cooking us wonderful fried rice and blackberry pudding), Earth Day is sure to be crazy as well, and on top of it all I had a geology field trip (in which I ate healthier than all my omni campmates) last weekend. Cherry on the cake: it was JP's birthday (birthweek, rather, since the festivities lasted from giving him a 22oz. of the Full Sail Original Nut Brown Ale on Wednesday and went until our date on Friday night). So there's a massive backlog of foodpics here for y'all to oogle. I made a fantastic brunch today for us and some friends, and unfortunately forgot to take any pictures. HOWEVER! I made a fantastic chipotle-cilantro crema sauce all by my lonesome, and it will be the first recipe I post here, once I make some more of it tomorrow, as it all DISAPPEARED into hungry vegan tummies.

So enough rambling, on to the pics:

Balsamic vinegar/tamari/vegan worcestershire glazed tofu on quinoa and kale

Inspired by this post from Lelly's Vegan Kitchen on a night that I was VERY hungry and very stressed. Very easy: I just poured on splashes as I fried a slab of tofu on a pan.

Italian quinoa and tempeh

Leftover quinoa with parsley and whatever was lying around in the fridge, and sauteed tempeh. JP's creation!

Steamed veggies and tempeh over brown rice with sweet & sour sauce

This sweet and sour sauce recipe from VeganYumYum has become a staple in our house. I only add 2 Tbsp. sugar instead of 2 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. and it tastes just fine. It's quick and simple and tastes amazing. Plus it makes me DEVOUR any and all steamed vegetables in it. We do carrot, onion, any color bell pepper, snow peas, mushrooms, broccoli (and pineapple)...many possibilities. I usually scavenge the market's "50% off" produce shelf for ideas.

BBQ baked tofu, seared portobello mushrooms, asparagus w/Vegenaise, and brown rice

I finally made something else from Veganomicon...sorta. I used bottled BBQ sauce. We cleaned out the fridge and it needed to be used, so... :P Anyway it was dang good, especially along with those amazing mushrooms from Eat Drink & Be Vegan! and asparagus that my mommy sent home with me from California.

Apple pie-crumb cake muffins

Wow. These are one of my new favorite recipes from VwaV. Very coffee cake-y, but the apple juice, grated apple, and apple chunks make it a party in my tummy. These got rave reviews from the brunch folk this morning.

Vegan birthday dinnarz!

On to the birthday celebrations...JP's mom had us over for dinner on Thursday for JP's birthday, where she made us kickass vegan lasagna (from one of the Moosewood cookbooks) with zucchini and spinach and tofu ricotta and portobello mushrooms, and also amazing sweet potatoes and garlic bread. She sent us home with a huge pan of leftovers (lunch yesterday and no doubt dinner tonight). This is from lunch yesterday. It inspired me, as I had never made lasagna even as an omni and it intimidates me. So many NOODLES! The JP-mommy kindly invited me over to get a tutorial. I can't wait! We went to Sweet Life Patisserie (lovely bakery/cafe in Eugene that has gorgeous vegan desserts) afterwards and I of course forgot my camera. I got a piece of lemon poppyseed raspberry cake and JP got a slice of chocolate peanut butter silk pie.

Then on Friday I took JP out for a swanky date at Ratatouille in Eugene, a beautiful (though pricey) vegetarian/vegan restaurant that opened just last year. We've been there three times now and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves each time. Despite the price tag, the portions are actually pretty big - I leave full every time, and the time we got dessert there, I rolled out the door like what's-her-face in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Almost everything on the menu is vegan (there's like one or two things with cheese, that can be left off easily), and it focuses on local organic ingredients so the menu changes a lot.

Shepherd's pie with sauteed mustard greens

JP's Shepherd's pie was amazing, with parsnips, carrots, mushrooms, and some other veggies, and the potato crust on top was delectable: crunchy on the very top and creamy further down. We'd never tried mustard greens before and found them to be delightfully peppery. More investigation is required.

Blue corn empanadas

I ordered the blue corn empanadas, which ZOMG if I had to eat something every day for the rest of my life, it would be these. They were spicy and delicious, filled with corn and green olives and tomato and I think carrot and many yummy things, and came with black beans over salad greens, with this smooth beautiful vegan crema sauce, and dollops of this amazing spicy chipotle cream, which is where I got my inspiration for my chipotle-cilantro crema, the recipe for which you'll get later. Anyway the flavor and texture combinations in this dish blew my mind: spicy and smooth, warm and cold, the crunchy outsides of the empanada and the warm soft insides...I ate every last bit (and a few bites of JP's shepherd's pie, haha! Just ask Kelly, I'm like a food ninja.)

Triple chocolate layer cake with caramel coconut pecan frosting

And JP came home to a German chocolate birthday cake! The frosting was kind of hard to make, mostly while I accidentally put too much coconut milk in, but oh is it worth it. And it actually gets better a day or two later. I used the Triple Layer Chocolate Cake from Dreena Burton's recipe blog and the frosting from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. It's hard to believe there was a whole cake sitting on the counter on Friday and now there's...much less than that. Oops.

I'll leave you with us looking studly for our datey-poo. :3

Date night


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Vegan trilobites?!

But I thought they were detritus feeders?! Badum *ksh*.

They're in mating pairs, like horseshoe crabs!

Haha. Geology brings out the nerd in me (...not that it wasn't fully out in the first place). I stumbled across a recipe on the PPK for veganized trilobite cookies the day before my last GEOL 431 (Invertebrate Paleontology) lab. There's only three of us in the class, plus the professor, plus the awesome graduate teaching fellow Christine, so I decided to make cookies.

For anyone who doesn't know, trilobites are fossil arthropods that lived during the paleozoic, and are pretty awesome. They have funny lobed bodies and big heads and primitive eyes. I think they're so awesome I have a tattoo of one. I win the trilobite-liking game. Anyway.

I was all amped up to make these too, because as you can see from the recipe, it uses a cookie dough press/frosting gun, which I own! My grandma randomly gave me one before I was vegan, which I thanked her for and promptly thought, "Shah, like, I'll never use this." Since then however it has saved my ass several times during frosting emergencies and I've come to love it.

However, mine is small enough and crappy enough to be good for frosting and ONLY frosting, as I found out. The dough is thick enough that it kept popping the top off and basically not doing anything I wanted. So I basically rolled the dough into little oblong balls, pressed them into a roughly ovalish, trilobite-ish shape. I pressed ridges into them with a fork, using the peanut butter cookie method but only in one direction. Then I used a knife to make the three lophs, sprinkled them with purple sugar sprinkles, and baked.

The chocolate was a pain in the ass. I didn't have any semisweet and had no money to buy any (welcome to the life a student). So I threw together 8 oz of chocolate from a ragtag assemblage (get it, assemblage? Geology joke! Wah wah wah...) of vegan dark chocolate bars I had and melted them. They were REALLY thick though - not suitable for dipping trilobite heads in! So I added a little soymilk. BAD IDEA. The chocolate got super grainy so instead of dipping in chocolate I was kind of scooping and mushing the chocolate onto their heads. I used heart shaped sprinkles for eyes, and into the fridge they go! The chocolate ended up tasting SUPER yummy and creamy though. Hmm.

The cookies tasted FABULOUS. Very buttery, almost like shortbread. O_o I was impressed, and so was everyone who ate them (all omnis except for one vegetarian). Make them to win over that geology geek you have a crush on!