Archive for February, 2014

Today’s sky

magnolia silhouette

Fuzzy, giant magnolia buds silhouetted against the sky – along 10th Avenue, just west of Main Street. Even more lovely are the grins from fellow walkers who see me capturing these whimsical things.

birthday crocuses

I know I must look silly – constantly taking pictures of every little thing that grows or looks like an ocean or a cat. It helps me tune in, or tune out, depending on what’s needed. There was a guy today who laughed out loud at me taking a picture of the heritage houses a little further up 10th. But he laughed in a good way. I’ve remembered it all night.

heritage row on 10th

February 26, 2014 at 11:46 pm Leave a comment

Cupcake Day! Carrot coconut cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

carrot cupcakes with eggs

Thanks to everyone who donated to Cupcake Day for the SPCA! I made several dozen cupcakes this month, and I’m happy to say I surpassed my fundraising goal. Hooray for the animals!

Of all the cupcakes I made, these are my favourites: carrot coconut with cream cheese frosting. I cannot be left alone in the house with them, so I am very happy to be boxing them up for delivery to my generous donors.

Usually I tinker with recipes to make them more healthy, but you’ll see below that this is not the case. I wanted my cupcakes to be as delicious as possible so people would feel good about handing over dollars. Plus, as I mentioned earlier, there are no calories when you’re raising money for animals.

Be sure to use SPCA Certified or cage-free eggs – especially important when you’re baking in support of animal welfare!

SPCA Certified eggs

Carrot coconut cupcakes with cream cheese frosting
Adapted from the Rebar Cookbook
Makes 12 cupcakes or 24 mini-cupcakes

Cupcakes:
2 cups grated carrots
3/4 cup shredded coconut
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
3 eggs
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white or cane sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
1-1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons of each: cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger

Frosting:
1/2 block (227g) cream cheese
1-1/4 cups icing sugar
2 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine carrots, coconut and walnuts in a bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, beat together eggs and sugar until the mixture triples in volume. Stir in vegetable oil and vanilla. Combine flour, baking powder and soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger and fold into sugar-eggs mixture. Fold in carrot mixture. Spoon batter into greased muffin tins and bake for 20 minutes.

For frosting, combine all ingredients and whip together until smooth. Spread on cupcakes once cooled and sprinkle nutmeg on top (freshly grated nutmeg is a beautiful thing if you have it).

These cupcakes are delicious with coffee. At our house we made a French press with some of the Kona coffee beans we brought home from Hawaii – so good that it convinced me to eat cupcakes for breakfast one day (so bad!).

carrot cupcakes3

February 24, 2014 at 8:32 am Leave a comment

This is not what it looked like today…

butterfly vase

It poured down snow today. Big white flakes floated down all afternoon while I worked in my studio. I’ve been in Vancouver four years now and this is the snowiest winter yet. I can now count four times I’ve worn the winter boots I brought from Calgary and thought I’d never wear again.

Here are a few photos from earlier this week when there was sunshine – the last of my Christmas paperwhites (they last forever if you keep them outside) and my birthday tulips. I’ll be thinking of them fondly when I navigate tomorrow’s icy streets.

sunshine paperwhites

birthday tulips

birthday tulips4

birthday tulips3

birthday tulips2

February 23, 2014 at 10:43 pm Leave a comment

Help me eat these salted chocolate cupcakes…

salted chocolate cupcakes

Here is my offer: I will bake cupcakes for you any time between now through February 24. Any flavour, any quantity, from one to one hundred. With just one small catch: that you make a donation to Cupcake Day, which is a national fundraiser for SPCAs and Humane Societies.

Puppies, kittens, bunnies, chickens, pigs, horses, cows, owls…there is a vast menagerie of creatures who are cared for by animal shelters, protected by animal cruelty officers, and helped through education and outreach programs. Animals in need deserve as much help as we can given them, especially if all you have to do is make or eat a cupcake.

To start things off, here are some delicious salted chocolate cupcakes. If you’re in the neighbourhood, please let me know and I will bring you a few to sample. If you’re far away, give the recipe a try and feel free to add a few dollars to my fundraising efforts for the SPCA.

Important note: cupcakes eaten to raise money for animals are free of calories. Totally guilt free! Virtuous, even…

Please donate!

vernon spca cat

I’ve been told by my cupcake taster that I should play down the vegetables included in this recipe. So instead we will focus on its moist, chocolatey deliciousness and give thanks to Joy the Baker, who inspired the recipe below. I’ve been wanting to try a beet chocolate cake recipe since I first heard about it a few years ago, and I’ve been experimenting lately with plant-based substitutes for the traditional eggs and dairy used in baking. Happy day…unlike some kitchen experiments, in this one all all you taste is chocolate.

Salted chocolate cupcakes
Makes 12 regular or 24 mini cupcakes

Cupcakes:
2 tablespoons ground chia or flax seeds
1/3 cup hot water
3/4 cup organic margarine (I use Earth’s Choice), softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup cane sugar
1 cup cooked, grated beets
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour (I used a gluten-free flour mix)
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup almond milk

Preheat oven to 350F. Stir together chia or flax seeds and hot water in a small bowl. Let rest for 5 minutes until they develop an egg-like consistency.

Combine margarine and sugars and beat with a mixmaster or muscle-power until smooth. Add in beets and vanilla and mix until combined.

Stir together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and powder and salt. Add half of flour mixture to beet-margarine mixture along with half of the almond milk. Repeat with the remaining flour mixture and milk, taking care not to over-mix the batter.

Spoon the batter into greased cupcake tins and bake for 15-20 minutes or until tops look done. Let cool and frost.

Frosting:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1-1/2 cups icing sugar
1-2 tablespoons almond milk
Sea salt to sprinkle on top (if you’re not a fan of salt, try chopped nuts or dark chocolate)

Beat together butter and cocoa powder until smooth. Stir in vanilla and icing sugar, and then add milk until the frosting reaches a good consistency. Spread over cupcakes. Sprinkle each cupcake with a tiny bit of sea salt on top. Don’t forget to donate to the SPCA!

lots of cupcakes

February 2, 2014 at 6:59 pm 2 comments


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