Saturday, April 30, 2011


I still haven't managed to kick this cold. I've gone through one "family-size" jug and two large cartons of orange juice this week. I hate juice. I've had uncountably many large cups of ginger tea. I've gone to bed early every single night. I'm still snotty and prone to dehydration. I'm hoping this phase is its death-throes.

Also, the double-batch of the vegan crumb cake I just made had a depressingly sandy crumb topping — that was not what I was going for. I'm going to have to consider making just the cake itself in the future.

In good news, Kara (and I) really enjoyed getting into the sunshine today, socializing with random people in our townhouse complex and exploring the smatterings of nature I allowed her to handle freely.

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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sick like dog

Mental note: the next time my body tells me it has enough energy to make pancakes, pie crust dough, 2 quiches, 4 homemade hamburgers, a rack of ribs and roast potatoes, I must really be preparing for a dirty, rotten, completely-exhausting cold.

The good news is that Matt was able to take on enough of the baby-watching duties over the long weekend that I was able to get 2 extra naps per day, both today and yesterday. I'm hoping that I'm over the worst of it, 'cause feeling like this as Kara's sole caretaker wouldn't go well.

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Sunday, April 17, 2011

I might just be on a vegan "kick"...

I have no idea how I originally found this tantalizing-looking Vegan Crumb Cake recipe, but am I ever glad I did!

I don't have any 8" x 8" cake pans, so I used my copper tamago pan to bake it in. I have used this pan for baked goods in the past, most notably my homemade blondies.

The cake turned out nice and tender, not overly sweet, while the crumb topping has a nice, firm consistency to each "crumb" — completely unlike the crumbly, streusel-like topping I was expecting. This is definitely going to be made again.


Friday, April 15, 2011

Vegan White Chocolate!

The Martha Stewart's Cookies cookbook (which I blogged about previously), contains a recipe for a vanilla sandwich cookie with a raspberry-white chocolate filling — something which caught my interest immediately. Unfortunately, white chocolate, by definition, contains milk ingredients. I've been keeping an eye out for a dairy-free substitute, but have come up empty-handed. The lack of choice as far as vegan white chocolate is concerned is known within the vegan community.

In light of the fact that I haven't found any commercially-available white chocolate substitutes, I decided to look around for recipes for vegan white chocolate instead. It was during my search that I stumbled upon BitterSweet's recipe for vegan white chocolate. Subsequent searching for an edible cocoa butter yielded the discovery that NOW Foods produces a food-grade cocoa butter. I use their shea butter as a moisturizer, and recognized that Ambrosia carries both!

A trip to Ambrosia provided me with the cocoa butter and soy milk powder I needed for the recipe, and I made my white chocolate yesterday. It is, of course, all gone now. :)

The cocoa butter doesn't set up as smoothly as I would like (which I suspect is partly due to the graininess of the vanilla bean flecks and mostly due to the lack of emulsifiers), but — after years and years of being unable to eat white chocolate — I was happy to find the flavour and texture of the vegan version remarkably accurate! I have little doubt that I'll be making batches for further baking adventures in the near future.


Monday, April 11, 2011

A year in review

Today is Kara's first birthday!

In all honesty, it's been the most physically and emotionally stressful, challenging and full-on exhausting year of my life. As little as a half-year ago, all I could think about was getting to this milestone in Kara's existence. I didn't start to feel like I was achieving some tiny semblance of my own life until Kara was 15 weeks old.

From there, it wasn't until Kara was about 8 months old that I felt like I could count on my day-to-day life to be consistently good. It's only been a little more than a month since anybody in this household could count on getting more than 5 hours of sleep at a stretch. I still don't feel like my brain has fully recovered from the beating it took for those 11 months — my memory is still shot, most of the time.

So, while I would have liked to have had a sibling for Kara, I still don't feel that I'll be capable of forgetting the "bad times" enough to be able to have more children.

All that said: Kara is still the most delightful person I've ever had in my life. It really is a joy to be with her daily. Having a child is the most dichotomous thing I can imagine anyone experiencing.

Super-cool milestone(s) update

On Saturday morning, Kara came with me up to our bedroom for her morning feeding and waved at me following it. I greeted her with a, "Hello,", which was met with a, "Halla,". Kara spoke her first word!

The next morning, she addressed her daddy, "Dada,", which beats the, "A-da," she was calling him for months. At dinner yesterday, she mimicked my, "All done," by saying, "Alda".

Kara has been signing the words "Milk," and "More," for weeks now, so I didn't think much of it when she signed "More," on Sunday morning. Still, I started singing and signing, "The More We Get Together". This was met with her signing, "More," "Together," and "Happier" along with me! She also signed "All done" during the dinnertime in which she spoke that phrase (which Caty pointed out, she probably thinks is one word).

So, we've had something of a flurry of communication around here for the past few days!

Kara's not walking yet, but happily uses the dining chairs as walkers. She doesn't stand unassisted unless she isn't paying attention — she's strong enough and has the balance to do so, but isn't confident enough to try it. For now, she's still zipping along by crawling her odd one-knee-up-in-the-air crawl, which she's gotten adept at and greatly enjoys doing.

*Credits to Caty for the photo*

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Saturday, April 09, 2011

Kara's first birthday (party)!

I made an unexpectedly dense lemon sponge cake and frosted it with an unusually sweet raspberry buttercream. I suspect that the cake and pastry flour I've been using is responsible for the "flatness" of my cakes. I'm going to have to go with a conventional, highly-refined cake and pastry flour in future endeavours. The recipe for the cake yields a nice, lemony cake which I'd make again. The buttercream is probably never going to make another appearance in this house; it's not bad, it's just not especially good, either.

Also, I had the time to be able to make a homemade toy for Kara!

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Monday, April 04, 2011

More yummies!

Yesterday was the sort of day in which I try to get as much cooking done as possible, an effort which yielded the duck-fat french fries pictured above and the chicken pot pie pictured below. The fries weren't as crispy as I'd have liked; I was inspired by this recipe, but didn't follow it (I should have). Still, the duck fat is a great high-temperature frying fat and it didn't lend as much of a duck flavour to the final result as I would have thought it would — I'd use it again. As for the pie, it could have used a bit more salt in the filling, but I wanted to keep things low-sodium. Parents are told to keep baby's "table food" relatively unsalted. Kara seems to approve, as evinced by the fact that she ate most of a slice for dinner tonight.

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