Something Old, Something New

Now before those who know me start getting all excited by the title of this post, calm yourselves! I’m not getting married all of a sudden or anything like that. It just accurately reflects how things are for me right now.

I was going to call it “Same Old Same Old” but that would have been misleading. Much more accurate to point out that, as some things change, so others stay the same. There’s quite a bit of upheaval in process at the moment, what with me quitting my job and going to move out of the flat at the end of August, so it’s nice to do something familiar every now and then to keep things on an even keel.

So I’ve been working on my swiss roll recipe. Here’s how it looks so far.

chocolate swiss roll no.5

What do you think? It’s really starting to get there. I just need to get the amounts right, and maybe try and take out the egg replacer in lieu of something more natural, but apart from that it’s pretty much good to go.

And I’ve been to do Go Ape again, which would be my fourth time. Guess you could say I’m a bit of a fan. 🙂

aping about

It was a great day out, with some very, very lovely company. 😉 And even though the drizzle afterwards meant we couldn’t do the barbecue I still had the best time, and can’t wait to hang out again as soon as possible (in the trees, and on terra firma).

And so what if the best pic of me also has my belly sticking out, lol. That’s just God’s way of telling me, “You need to cut down on the pies mate!” ..hehehe..

golden brown, texture like sun

But seriously, I do need to do something about the ol’ muffin top though. It’s starting to get in the way of my forward bends. So I’ve taken advice from my friend in Oz who’s a personal trainer, and I’m going to alter my diet to see if that helps.

So from now on it’s no bread, no crisps, no sugar, no pre-made foods. Just lots of veggies and fruit, soups in the evening, and all home made, organic and lovely. Hopefully that, smaller portion sizes, and a bit more exercise, and I’ll be fit and flexible in no time.

Let’s see how I get on eh? 🙂

Just Relax

This is what chilling out looks like…
making headspace
A book, a mug of tea, and nowhere to be. Elvis playing over head – ‘On a cold and gray Chicago mornin’, a poor little baby child is born, in the ghetto (in the ghettooo…)’ – two guys playing chess on the next table, cold outside, warm inside. Works for me, anyway.

Just one month into 2012 and it’s been ‘interesting’ so far. As well as all the previously documented occurrences I can report that the only part of my new year’s resolutions I’ve managed to keep is the not eating processed foods bit. Mostly that involved not having fry-ups for breakfast, but still it’s a victory for me. And I feel pretty good for it. Generally been a bit more energetic and awake this year. Whether one follows the other who can say, but anyway…

Ironic though that I should win a load of processed food just as the month comes to an end. 🙂

chocolate swiss roll no.3

And ironic too that I should (almost) perfect my swiss roll making skills just as I give up chocolate for the month. Still, I can wait to give it a try again. Don’t want to put myself off chocolate for life now, do I? Man, just imagine!

Chocolate Banana Brownies

This is it for me, a whole new level in my vegan cooking experience.

These little beauties are so good, so moist, and so damn ‘fudgey’ I couldn’t be more pleased with them if I tried. Seriously, they are the culmination of my cooking abilities to date, and I am very alright with that. 🙂

banana brownies

1 1/4 cups of plain flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup corn oil
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp vanilla essence

Preheat oven to 180C.

Sift the flour and cocoa into a large bowl. Add the baking soda and salt.

In a smaller bowl mash both bananas until good and gooey. Add the maple syrup, corn oil, water and vanilla essence and mix together.

Add the wet mix to the dry and stir together until just mixed. Add the chocolate chips and stir in.

Pour batter into a greased medium sized baking tray, spreading it out level. Sprinkle with a few more chocolate chips for good luck.

Bake at 180C for 25-30 minutes until a knife dipped in the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool before slicing.

And there you have it, my finest achievement in the kitchen, ever! (that involves cooking, anyway ;)). These are the best brownies I’ve ever made, and some of the best I’ve ever tasted if I do say so myself. Solid without being too heavy, chocolatey without being too rich, if you give them a try please let me know how you get on.

With the completion of this recipe I now have the six cakes and cookies I’m going to use for the recipe postcards I’ll be producing shortly. Might be a few weeks before they’re done, but I’ll let you know when they’re available to buy online. It’ll be a new chapter in Kiki’s Kitchen, and one I’m very much looking forward to. 🙂

Still ill :(

Well, I thought the flu had abated, but it’s back as a tickly cough that’s settled itself comfortably in my chest and looks like it’ll be there for a while.

So annoying being ill. There’s so much I want to do and it’s getting in the way. Could be a lot worse though. Just reading My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor. She had a stroke when she was 37, and it set her back a good 8 years. NB: If you haven’t seen her Ted talk yet you simply must! I’ve blogged about it before but it’s certainly worth mentioning again. Very emotional and inspiring.

So really I shouldn’t complain. Things could be a lot worse. Despite the cough I’m stuck in the house today anyway, waiting for a delivery I have to sign for. Going to take the opportunity to do some writing after I’ve done this post. Want to look again at the book I started and see where it goes.

I also keep thinking about opening a bakery. So many things are conspiring to keep it in my mind I can’t not think about it. Keep constructing the menu in my head. The big question at the moment is how much would be sweet (cakes) and how much savoury (pies)? And would I serve tea and coffee, meaning most people would expect cows milk to go with them, or just herbal drinks? Decisions, decisions. For now I’m just going to test a few recipes. Check out this one for Chocolate Chocolate Chip cookies from Veganomicon.

chocolate chocolate chip and walnut cookies

Nice huh? The mixture was very wet when I put it on the tray, which looked a bit suspect to me, but they came out nice and moist and chewy, so I obviously did something right.

Starting Yoga 3 tonight at the Sivananda Centre. Can’t wait for that. Hopefully the cough won’t get in the way, though who knows. Could go either way. Thinking about going twice a week now too. Want to push ahead with my practice and get to a comfortable level. Think my progress is stagnating a little.

Anyway, that’s all for now. Time for some honey, lemon and ginger tea.

Chocolate Cinnamon Almonds

A quick little sweet that is surprisingly tasty. I came up with this one for Christmas but it’s taken me a wee while to get the amounts right. I’ve been eating chocolate almonds for weeks!

chocolate cinnamon almonds

125g blanched almonds
60g dark chocolate (2/3 of a bar)
1/2 cup of raisins
40g poppy seeds
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of boiling water (you only need a little water in the pan – keep it from touching the bottom of the bowl). Once melted take it off the heat.

Add the almonds and raisins and stir until completely covered.

Put a sheet of greaseproof paper on a baking tray. Mix the poppy seeds and cinnamon in a bowl. Sprinkle a layer of seed mix on the paper, then spread the almonds and raisins evenly on top.

Sprinkle generously with remaining seeds. Put in the fridge to cool.

Once cooled break up into individual pieces (they’ll probably be all stuck together), eat, and enjoy.

Chocolate Almond Crunchies

Here’s a nice simple sweet snack to make that’s well tasty. And I dare you to not lick out the bowl when you’re done.

tea and crunchy

150g dark cooking chocolate (I used Dr Oetkers Continental Plain Chocolate)
50-75g of cornflakes
1/3 of a cup of almond flakes
1/2 tsp almond essence

( makes 8 )

melting chocolate

Break up the chocolate and put it in a medium glass or ceramic bowl with almond essence. Put a medium pan on a high heat with about half an inch of water (so that it doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl) and bring to the boil.

Remove from heat and stir chocolate until melted. Return to heat as needed to achieve this.

adding cornflakes

Add the cornflakes and stir in until completely covered by chocolate. How much you put in is up to you, but if they’re not covered properly the crunchies won’t hold together.

Stir in the almond flakes until mixed. Don’t worry too much about covering them with chocolate too.

put in bun cases

Dish out into bun cases and then let cool completely. You can put them in the fridge if needed to cool them faster, it won’t make any difference to the flavour.

Enjoy with a nice cuppa char. 🙂