Thursday, 27 November 2008

Vegan Carrot Muffins

Vegan carrot muffins with soy cream cheese icing

I'm still learning about vegan baking, and to help me get some practice, I've been whipping up batches of muffins at the weekend that we can freeze and then Alex can take them to work in his lunch. I am hopeless with baking and if it is there I will just snack on it until it's gone, so it's great I have someone else who will happily eat the spoils of my experiments in the kitchen.

These carrot cake muffins are my latest effort and I think they turned out pretty well. They are quite dense and the vegan cream cheese icing is very similar to the dairy version I used to make. The recipe is adapted from The Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. If you are interested in vegan baking or baking for those who are intolerant to eggs or dairy, I can highly recommend this book. It has a lot of great basics such as breads, cakes, muffins and cookies plus more dessert-y things like pies, mousses, puddings and cheesecakes. I finally bought my own copy last week after renewing a copy from our local library several times.

The recipe below is the one I used and is slightly adapted from the one in the book, but you could probably use your favourite carrot cake recipe and just replace the eggs with either egg replacer or ground flaxseeds/linseeds (for each egg you replace whisk 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseeds with 3 tablespoons of water in a blender or food processor until the mixture is thick and creamy).

Vegan Carrot Cake Muffins
3 tbsp ground flaxseeds/linseeds (I buy my linseeds from Commonsense Organics and grind them myself in a coffee grinder I use for spices etc)
1/2 cup water
2/3 cup oil
1 1/2 cups grated carrot
3/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
3/4 cup raisins or sultanas
1 1/3 cups white flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground allspice

1. Preheat oven to 180 deg C. Grease your muffin tin (this recipe made 12 standard size muffins).
2. In a blender or food processor, whip together the flaxseed and water until thick and creamy. Transfer this to a medium-sized bowl and add the carrots, raisins/sultanas and walnuts if using. Mix together.
3. In a larger bowl, sift together the dry ingredients and mix well. Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well. Batter will be quite thick.
4. Scoop batter into muffin tins. Bake 25-30 mins. Let cool in pan then remove to cooling racks. Once cool, ice with cream cheese icing.

Vegan Cream Cheese Icing
250g soy cream cheese (I used Kings brand from Commonsense Organics)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup sifted icing sugar

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or mixer until smooth and creamy. Enough to ice 12 muffins.

And while we're on the topic of vegan baking, I just today discovered that Desserts magazine published an entire issue devoted to vegan desserts, and the magazine is free to view or download here. Beware - the pictures of desserts may cause drooling on keyboard!

Monday, 24 November 2008

Garden happenings

Passion flower

With the spring weather has come a few changes in the garden. The most exciting for me was spotting the first flower on our young passionfruit vine (planted in mid-2007) last week. I'm looking forward to a small crop of fruit in the new year.

The peas are also starting to flower and the tomato plants, bean vines and leafy greens (silverbeet, spinach, kale, rocket, mizuna, pak choy) are coming along nicely. I'm hoping for a good crop of summer veges this year.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Crafting for a cause

newborn caps for Mama to Mama project
These newborn caps are for the Caps to Cap-Haitien Project, organised by Mama to Mama. The caps are for newborns and will be included in safe birthing kits to be distributed by traditional birthing attendants in Northern Haiti.

Amanda of Soule Mama set up Mama to Mama to promote simple ways that us crafty people can use our skills to improve the lives of others. The newborn cap project is the first Mama to Mama project. If you'd like to learn more or get involved, you can read about the project and find the pattern for the caps here. The caps are easy to make and are meant to be made from old tshirts, so it's a good way to recycle/repurpose and spread some handmade love at the same time. The project is also asking for cotton receiving blankets. Instructions are on the same site. The caps and blankets are due in Maine, USA by 10th December.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Couple of things

red necklace

I've got a bit of a cold this week, and am suffering from brain fog, so the best I can manage today is a list of random items sorry...

1. The winner of the tote bag in my one year blogiversary giveaway is Lucy from Speckled Egg. Congratulations! I've only been reading Lucy's great blog for a few weeks (since she signed up for the ornament swap) but I'm really enjoying reading about all the wonderful stuff she makes - including making soap last week! And she is so organised she's even finished her ornaments for the swap already. I'm seriously behind, but I'm hoping to make some progress next week on my ornaments.

2. I have been wearing the wonderful red beads in the photo above almost constantly since I got them on Sunday. I received the necklace in a swap I did with the lovely Kimberley of Special K. I made her some baby shoes for her cute little boy Harper and in return I choose one of her scrummy necklaces. Thanks K, I love it!

3. The Big Schwop is happening again in Wellington on the 29th November. This is your chance to clear your wardrobe of clothes you aren't wearing and score yourself some cool new things. Spaces are limited to 300 schwoppers, so make sure you sign up on the website so you don't miss out.

4. My few days away in Melbourne were great. The wedding itself was in Torquay and I didn't get time to visit any craft places this time, though I did manage to get to Vegan Wares for some new shoes. And I discovered a cool organic cafe/deli that serves scrummy vegan food, right in the CBD - details to come in another post.

Hope you're all having a good week!

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Happy Blogiversary

I realised a little while ago that my blog turned 1 at the start of October. I think a belated giveaway to celebrate is in order.

tote bag

This tote is made from black cotton drill and red Matroyska print Japanese craft cotton and is lined with a soft grey cotton poplin. It measures approx 16" by 13" and the handles are 18" long. I really like this size of bag for shopping, library books or just carting around your essentials.

To win it, leave a comment on this post by Friday 14th November. I'm taking a bit of a blog break this week to go to Melbourne for my brother-in-law's wedding. I'll be back on board next week to announce the winner of the tote bag.

Edited to add: I sent out the group details for the ornament swap on Sunday night around 8.15pm. If you have signed up and not yet received an email from me, please check your spam folder as I have heard that my emails are getting filtered for some people.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Strawberries for jam

Strawberries for jam

Don't these look delicious? Strawberries are at their best at the moment and I picked some up on special to make a batch of jam. They looked so lovely that I couldn't resist doing a photo shoot before I chopped them up.

Thanks for all the interest in the ornament swap. I will be collating the groups today and should hopefully be able to email you your group details tomorrow. If you have signed up by sending me an email with your address details and you do not get an email from me with your group details by Tuesday, then please contact me.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

A red robot

A few weeks ago I had an email from the lovely and clever Miss Smith asking if I wanted to swap some of my baby shoes for one of her robots. I have been coveting her wonderful robots for a while now and so I jumped at the chance to do my first ever "proper" swap. I asked for a red robot that could keep me company while I'm sewing and I've been eagerly awaiting his arrival.

Yesterday a parcel arrived in the post, along with a note of introduction for Mr Red:

Swap parcel

Note of introduction

And true to his programming, last night I found him diligently rethreading my overlocker:

Helping with my sewing

And this morning, he'd gotten up early to warm my teacup:

Cuppa tea?

Thanks Miss Smith, he is wonderful! I think I'm going to enjoy having a robot in the house...