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Archive for July, 2014

Julia turned 2 the other day. Crazy!! I cannot believe that she is already 2 and at the same time it is hard to believe that she is only 2. Ha!

We had a small birthday party to celebrate her birthday. Since one of Julia’s friends is vegan, I decided to make a vegan cake. I looked in a few cookbooks and at a few sites and decided to give it a try. The recipes did not seem too involved, so how hard can it be. Another ha! I baked 5 cakes… yes, I said 5 cakes… and they were either ok, mediocre, or just awful.

The first recipe that I tried was a coconut lemon cake from the Veganomicon cookbook. It was simple to make. The recipe included coconut milk, lemon juice and zest, and the regular baking items, such as flour, sugar, etc. Since no eggs are included, a combination of baking powder, baking soda, and apple cider vinegar is used as a replacement. The recipe required a bundt cake pan, but I decided to make it in a springform pan. The cake was pretty good, but it was not a good cake for a birthday cake. The flavor was really nice… the coconut and lemon worked well together. The consistency of the cake was pretty dense… it almost resembled corn bread. Joel tried to convince me that it was an ok recipe as a birthday cake, but I was not convinced.

I searched some more and I came across a recipe for an orange blossom sesame cake on the My New Roots blog. It sounded pretty tasty. However, there were a few things… the recipe required unhulled sesame seeds and tahini made from unhulled sesame seeds. I am not sure where you can find tahini from unhulled sesame seeds. Wegmans does not carry it… perhaps Lori’s or the co-op? I did not have time to search around too much so I settled on the tahini that I had in my fridge. Same goes for the sesame seeds. The recipe also required orange blossom water. I again searched at Wegmans but could not find it there. I did find it at Cook’s World… I love that place… they have everything there! :) The recipe was also fairly simple to make. The cake looked somewhat similar to the photo in the blog. My version was lighter, which I suspect is from the fact that I used hulled sesame seeds and tahini. I really liked the cake. The flavor was nice. I liked the taste of the tahini with the orange flavor. I did not care too much for the honey syrup… I found it way too sweet. If I make the cake again, I would make a simple syrup instead. Even though the cake was good, again I did not think that it was a good cake for a birthday party for a 2 year old.

The search continued. I decided to look in my Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts cookbook. I forgot that I owned this cookbook and thought for sure that a vegan recipe would be included. I was right… but it was a chocolate cake. I was set on making a vanilla type of a cake, since chocolate seems to affect Julia. I thought I would give it a try anyway. The recipe is the simplest cake recipe I have ever made. It takes 12 minutes if you want to use a bowl. According to the recipe, you can mix everything in the pan, which would only take you 6 minutes to make… hence the name of the recipe “Six-Minute Vegan Chocolate Cake“. The cake looked pretty good… it looked rich and fluffy. However, the flavor was much subtle, specifically the chocolate part… it was pretty mild. The recipe only required 1/3 of a cup of cacao, so I am not surprised. Aside, from that, I did not really like it as a cake. Again, it needed more chocolate.

The last recipe that I tried was a recipe that I found on AllRecipes.com called Vegan Basic Vanilla Cake. I have never made anything that was posted on that site, but 23 people gave it a 4 1/2 star. So it must be a good recipe, I thought. The recipe required the same basic ingredients that all vegan recipes require and it was pretty easy to make. The outcome, however, was not good. The cake was gummy tasting and just blah. I am so surprised that 23 people gave it such a high rating. I must be missing something. Or I must have high cake standards. It is definitely NOT a keeper.

In the end, I ended up making a regular sponge cake with lemon curd and vanilla frosting for Julia’s birthday. Since I felt terrible about not having a cake for Julia’s friend, I made the Six-Minute Vegan Chocolate Cake recipe as cupcakes. I must admit that I really liked the recipe as cupcakes. I think that it worked way better than baked in a springform pan. I am not sure if it is because the muffin pan requires less cake so it bakes differently or what. The flavor seemed more intense too.

I am not sure what to make of vegan baking. The egg replacement is a mystery to me. I admit that I have not tried the egg replacements that exist, but I did not want to buy another ingredient that I will only use once or maybe never, depending on the outcome. I have had some really tasty vegan cakes so I know that a good recipe exists. I guess I just have not found it yet.

Julia's birthday cake

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I just realized that I have not written a post since March. March… how can that be?!?! I remember writing the last post a month or so ago… or so it seems. I guess between taking care of Julia, doing house chores, cooking (yes, I have been cooking), reading my book, trying to finish off the entire Breaking Bad series (just finished it last week), and trying to stay active… yeah, yeah, yeah… excuses, excuses.

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Hiking on the Crescent Trail.

Trying to stay active has been a bit challenging, but it is getting much easier. Instead of running, hiking, biking on our own, we have been bringing Julia along a bunch. We have a running stroller, a backpack for hiking, and a bike trailer. Luckily she loves all 3!!

As I mentioned, we have a bike trailer… our friend let us borrow it. I have always heard mixed things about what kids think about the bike trailer. Some apparently love it and some apparently hate it. As soon as Julia climbed in it, she was sold. Joel rode around the neighborhood for the first ride.

Julia's first trailer ride!

Julia’s first trailer ride!

Then we did our first family ride to the Village of Fairport. That was fun since it was during the Fairport Canal Days festival, so we had lunch and listened to some music.

Our first family ride.

Our first family ride.

Then a few weeks ago, Joel took her on an RBC ride. He rode for an hour and a half and I guess she really liked it. I rode separately and when I saw her that evening, she told me about her adventure… how she saw a rooster, a bunny, a horse, and deer. She was super enthusiastic about it. :)

Julia's first RBC ride.

Julia’s first RBC ride.

The downside of it is that the thing is a tank! Because of that, we cannot really transport it, unless that is the only thing that we put in our trunk. Our neighborhood is so hilly that riding with it is a workout, for Joel at least since I do not ride that bike. I think that my legs would fall off. Ha!

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Julia did not care for the backpack for a long time, but lately she is more interested in it. At the beginning of June we went camping at Watkins Glen State Park with a couple of friends who have a little girl, Chloe, who is Julia’s age. They played so well together!

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Hiking with Chloe.

Chloe has a backpack too, so we went hiking together. The trip was so memorable for Julia. A week or more after the trip, she was still talking about hiking by the waterfalls.

Hiking at Watkins Glen State Park.

Hiking at Watkins Glen State Park.

I think that that hike definitely helped with being more fond of it. We have taken her on several hikes since then and she stills seems to like it.

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Hiking with Chloe at Abraham Lincoln Park.

The running stroller has been a hit too. She loves to “run” with us. She loves looking at the trees, spotting birdies, and waving to doggies. A few weeks ago we decided to do a run loop from the house to the playground and back. She was so excited once we arrived at the playground.

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Ready for a run!

Riding, hiking, and running is SO fun! We look forward to many more adventures!

jumping

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