4.19.2013

choices, changes and coffee cake.

 
Hey. There's a whole lot of scary stuff going on in the world today, specifically in Boston. I've been glued to the TV for hours. This morning, before news broke in Boston, I promised a few readers I'd to share a recipe in time for the weekend. So, to be respectful, I've chosen not to promote this post via Twitter, Facebook, etc. If you're here, it's because of an update in your reader or because you came looking for this recipe. I hope this is respectful of everyone dealing with bigger things in life. Please do just say a little prayer, if you will, for those trapped in the big, scary things. Thanks.
 
I fear judgment for revealing this but...we're trying to eat mostly vegan.
 
Wait! Please don't run away. Or give me those eyes. I'm not going to hand you a book on veganism, ask you to save the animals or end my emails with Namaste. Cross my heart, I'm not judging while you eat a juicy steak. Do what you do...I respect your dietary choices and will even visit Texas Roadhouse with you.
 
Why am I explaining all this now? This morning I posted a photo of a nearly-vegan blueberry coffee cake on my Instagram, and per some requests...I promised to share the recipe! The recipe is below...and further below, for those that are curious, is why I've chosen to go as vegan as possible. If you're not curious or think it's weird, that's cool! High-five, and we can still be friends...please eat some cheese in my honor.
 
We have no vegan sugar options here in Kuwait, which is why I can't quite call my coffee cake vegan. But, you can prepare it with your fave vegan granulated + powdered sugar.  If you couldn't give a hoot about veganism, you can make this coffee cake with regular milk + eggs. It's a bit of an indulgent breakfast, yes...but this coffee cake is ultra easy and super moist over a day later!
 
Serve it with a side of raspberries for a yummy sweet + sour pairing that can't be beat. :)
 
egg + dairy free blueberry coffee cake*
recipe adapted from betty crocker
 
crumb topping
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup softened soy butter (or regular butter)

coffee cake
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup soy butter (or shortening/regular butter)
3/4 cup soy milk (or almond/rice/regular milk)
1/4 cup applesauce (or 1 egg)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1-2 cups fresh blueberries (i'm sure you could use frozen)
 
almond glaze
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon almond essence
2 teaspoons warm water     
one: in a small bowl, mix together sugar, flour, cinnamon and cut in butter to make crumb topping.

two: in a large bowl, mix together coffee cake ingredients...reserving blueberries until all other ingredients are fully incorporated. then fold in blueberries. if batter is very thick, add a little extra milk.

three: grease and lightly flour a springform pan. (i used an 8" pan.) spread coffee cake batter evenly in pan, then top with crumb topping.

four: bake at 375 degrees F (190C) for 50 minutes, or until it passes the toothpick test.

five: mix together almond glaze ingredients, adding more water or powdered sugar as needed. remove cake from pan and drizzle glaze on top of coffee cake...enjoy!


why the heck would you say goodbye to cheese?!
 
I know. It's crazy, because cheese is just THAT good. Meat wasn't hard for me to give up...I did that years ago. At age 4 or 5, I rejected meat. I didn't know why...meat just made me feel sad. Since then, I've eaten mostly vegetarian aside from the occasional social situation where I had no option, or to scratch a hot dog or bacon itch. Basically, on the rare occasion that I do eat meat...I prefer it to be highly processed and refuse think about what I'm eating. Ha.
 
Last April, Gabe crazily suggested we go vegan for health purposes. We stuck to it for a month, loved it and felt great. But when we moved to Kuwait, staying vegan was the least of our concerns. 
 
A few weeks ago, I took a really long, honest look at animal treatment in the food industry. Needless to say, I researched and cried a lot...then recommitted to eating vegan. It sounds crazy, but until I live in a community where I can access eggs, milk and cheese from a source that promises fair treatment of animals...I have a hard time purchasing dairy and eggs with a clean conscience.
 
But, we're a bit compromised in Kuwait. Vegan-friendly options aside from tofu and soy milk are nearly non-existent. There's no egg-replacer, no soy sour cream, no faux-cheese, no coconut ice cream to fill that dairy-shaped hole in my heart. We've fallen off the wagon a few times in the past month, often due to lack of choices. And I went on a cheese bender for a few days. Whoops. Sometimes our store-bought bread has eggs or milk, and we use regular sugar because we can't find vegan sugar here. When we want to go out to eat or indulge in a sweet treat, it's meat-free but probably not vegan. (Ahem. Buttery Sprinkles cupcakes.)
 
I'd say 4 out of 5 meals are vegan. But in a way, compromised is good. It allows versatility...one foot planted in regular-people land, and one food planted in vegan craziness. ;)
 
Does anyone else eat vegetarian or vegan? Do you have a hard time explaining your choice, or receive negative reactions? How do you deal?
 
Sidenote: I did go to Prague. And I owe you all photos. There are 957 of them. Don't worry,  you will not have to see them all. I've been editing, pairing them down and working on a post! :)

4.01.2013

traveling solo with cobbled street fever.


(taken in Paris, 2011.)

My "places to visit" list has always been a bit one-dimensional. Any dream location for me consists of cobbled streets, architecture built prior to 1910 and a smattering of sweet cafes where I can spend endless hours drinking wine and watching the locals go about life.

Therefore in the past two years my international excursions have been: Ireland, Paris, Rome. And, uh, Rome again.

Since making the move to Kuwait, I try to leave for a week every few months in an effort to stay sane. This time I would have popped over to Dubai with Gabe, but since Gabe can't get out of work at the moment he encouraged me to escape to a place I'd really enjoy and find inspiration. (High-five supportive husband.) We agreed on a reasonable budget for my 5 day trip and I set about scouring the web in search of a wallet-friendly destination.

And so, a game of "spin-the-globe then check ticket prices" has lead me to Prague. Here are the four things I know about Prague:

My best friend's dad is Czechoslovakian. And he's cool.
Every travel forum assured me that Prague is safe + welcoming to English-speaking folk like myself.
A friend once told me the entire city looks like a fairytale.
And...Prague looks pretty in every single photo.

Win, win, win. HUGE SUPERFICIAL WIN.

I'm hopping a flight late tonight...and I'm elated. If there's anything this strange curveball year in Kuwait has thrown me--the homesickness, the lack of purpose--it's the ability to leave life behind and discover somewhere completely new. Even if I'm by myself.

My blogger friend, Sam, put it most eloquently, "Being unanchored let's us see new harbors."

Absolutely. Here's to new harbors.

PS: I'm often asked, "How can you travel by yourself? Don't you get lonely?" I could never quite express why I don't feel bored or lonely on a solo trip. Yesterday I stumbled across an article titled "Confessions of an Introverted Traveler". It lead me down a windy path to the author's book titled The Introvert's Way. I gobbled it up, and I realized I am a complete and utter introvert, who's been mislabeled an extrovert for her entire life. (Apparently some introverts can take on extroversion in social situations where it is required. That's me!) This is likely why I can handle disappearing to a foreign country all by myself without feeling a bit stressed or lonely...but the thought of going to a party can often leave me clammy and anxious.

Anyone else travel solo...or would you travel solo if you could? Are you an introvert or an extrovert?

Here's a short quiz if you're not sure if you're an I or E!
 

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