December 2007

I’m finally done with the semester! Whoever decided that exams could run until the 19th and then slated my last boring general education requirement class on the last exam period of the last day, 4:30 pm on the 19th, is evil. But now I have time to do more things like baking! Ok, or, if I were honest with myself and you all, go dancing, stay up the whole night, and then sleep the day away. I’m loving life.

On Monday, while writing my last paper of the semester (it’s amazing how 10 pages seems so short now–I started the paper on Monday and finished it by 9 pm) I decided to play around with the vegan eggnog some more. My general love of cupcakes prevailed and since cookies don’t really call for milk, I could only use the eggnog in a more cake-like substance anyway.

Two of my good friends served as taste testers and the review was positive. I think they really taste like eggnog and I love the spiciness coupled with the chocolate ganche. I think they’d pair well with dark chocolate stout cupcakes with peppermint frosting.

Vegan Eggnog Cupcakes

1 cup vegan eggnog
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp cornstarch
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract

Preheat the oven to 350.

In a small bowl, whisk the apple cider vinegar into the vegan eggnog. Set aside to curdle for 10 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, mix the oil, vanilla, almond extract, and sugar together until combined. Add the vegan eggnog mixture, combine. Add all dry ingredients. Mix until smooth–you don’t want lumps.

Pour batter into oiled or lined cupcake tins. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until an inserted knife comes out clean.

Makes 6 large cupcakes and 12 mini cupcakes or 9 large cupcakes.

Baby, it’s cold outside!

I knew that the 75 degree sunny gorgeous weather wouldn’t last, but did it really have to drop from 70 to 20 degrees in one day? My body isn’t a fan of that! I don’t have central heat in my apartment either, so my cats and I feel the impact even more. Let me tell you, those cats didn’t leave my side all night. It was one cozy cuddle party in my bed. (smile)

Last week I made this recipe for Ginger Miso Soup from Kitchen Caravan and fell in love with it. Who doesn’t love gingery, noodley, kaley, brothy soup? Exactly. They suggest 2 inches of ginger, but my personal suggestion is 2+ inches of ginger. I can’t get enough of the rhizome. Note: ginger is not a root.

I also discovered that this soup made me feel 800 times better while I was sick. Cha-ching! So last night I made it again, because really, it’s too cold and I want to be a lot warmer than I am. The recipe is super easy, I didn’t even need the recipe the second time, and I’d recommend making this to anyone who is sick, is cold, or wants a soup that feels like chicken noodle but is definitely not chickeny (but is noodley!).

Ginger Miso Soup
from Kitchen Caravan

1 2-inch knob of ginger
6 cups water
2 cups loose shitake mushrooms, cleaned and chopped in half [cp note: I left mine whole]
1 cup kale (about 3 leaves) [cp note: I used green kale]
2 heaping tablespoons white miso paste
1 handful soba noodles (sometimes they come segmented into bunches, you need about one bunch)
½ large carrot, peeled (optional) [cp note: I didn’t use this]
1 scallion (optional) [cp note: I didn’t use this]

Make the ginger broth by grating the knob of ginger with a cheese grater, and then putting it into a pot with the 6 cups of water. You should have about 2 tablespoons of grated ginger to infuse. [cp note: I used a vegetable peeler to “grate” the ginger since I don’t have a grater anymore. It seemed to work just fine.]

Bring the water to a boil and simmer slightly for about 15 minutes. Let it sit for another 15 minutes if you can, but you are welcome to go along at this point.

Bring another pot of water to a boil. Cook the soba noodles for about 6 minutes in the boiling water, drain, and rinse them with cold water. Set the cooked noodles aside.

Drain the infused ginger broth of the grated ginger and bring the liquid to a boil.

Add in the shitake mushrooms and simmer until soft, and then add in the kale and simmer until cooked through. Turn off the heat.

Now, place the miso into a small bowl. Pour in some of the soup water, and soften the miso. Pour everything back into the pot and stir until the miso is well integrated into the soup.

*I suggest letting the soup sit for at least 15 minutes before serving. Honestly, it tastes the best the day after. I’m not sure why, but the ginger flavor seems stronger after sitting.

When it rains, it pours. I wish that statement were in reference to the weather (Georgia desperately needs water), but it’s more ab0ut life right now. Needless to say, I wish I hadn’t eaten/shared all of these scones by today–I could have used a pick-me-up!

Being the holiday season and all (Christmas for me), I have a carton of Silk Nog in my fridge and I’d eyed a vegan eggnog muffin recipe, but I didn’t really want to make muffins. Since I’d made date scones before (at the bakery), I figured I could substitute the eggnog for the soy milk, add a few extra spices, and have tasty eggnog chocolate chunk scones.

Vegan Eggnog Chocolate Chunk Scones

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup Earth Balance
3-4 oz baking chocolate, chunked
2/3 cup vegan eggnog

Preheat the oven to 350.

Combine the the flour, baking powder, sugar and spices in a mixing bowl. Cut the Earth Balance into the dry mix until a coarse crumb forms. Stir in the chocolate chunks. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the vegan eggnog. Mix in, then work together with well-floured hands to make a soft dough, then form into a ball. If the dough is too sticky, work in a little more flour.

On a well-floured board, roll the dough out into a 1/2-inch thick round. Place on a floured baking sheet and with a sharp knife, cut into 8 wedges halfway through the dough.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden on top.

Rad and Merckx will now model elements of Ginger Miso Soup.

Am I the only person disturbed by the New York Time’s use of the passive voice in a cutline?

I’ll refrain from mentioning that a sports trophy is listed as breaking news–never mind genocide and biodiversity loss, and the 100 murders that probably happened in the past few minutes.

And now back to my final seminar paper–20 pages and counting. Sigh.

It’s that time of the year again. Time for parties for hosting, marshmallows for roasting (toasting? Can you roast a marshmallow???), and caroling out in the snow…

…um, no. It’s finals week(andahalf). It’s time for stress, no sleep, too much coffee (way too much coffee, I’m getting sick of drinking it), too much typing, and the messiest house ever. It’s time to eat veggie burgers and chips and salsa and peanut butter on granny smith apples (my favorite snack EVER at the moment). It’s time for me to disappear from the blogging world, which I would, except it’s such a wonderful place to procrastinate in–goddamnit, I’m tired of wrting about Samuel Beckett and Deleuze and Guattari and becoming-animal.

So what do I make when I have to study, when I have to maintain a high level of caffeine in my body, when I don’t have time to make anything? This blog ain’t called Cupcake Punk for nothing.

Technically, I made these for my friend who moved back North to Philly today. I’ve driven the stretch between Atlanta and Philly several times this year and I know how long and boring and trafficy it can be. So I made here a sweet little caffeinated treat to keep her awake and happy. Luckily for me, it does the same thing for studying.

So whether you’re driving or studying this holiday season, do yourself a favor. Take a little time, make a little treat, drive safe, study well, and eat chocolate!

Midnight Cakes

For the cupcakes:
1 c soy milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 c cold strong coffee (I let mine sit for several days in the fridge)
1/3 c vegetable oil
3/4 c sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 c cocoa
1 3/4 c flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 Tbsp instant coffee

For the icing:
1/2 c Earth Balance margarine
3-4 c powdered sugar (more or less, I never measure, just mix till I have the consistency I want)
1/4 c cold strong coffee
2 tsp instant coffee

For the cupcakes:

Preheat the oven to 350.

Mix the apple cider vinegar into the soy milk with a whisk. Set aside to curdle for ~10 minutes.

In a separate bowl, mix the oil, sugar, coffee, and vanilla together until combined. Add the soy milk mixture. Mix well.

Add dry ingredients to the bowl and mix until smooth–no lumps.

Pour batter into a lined or oiled cupcake tin (muffin tin, whatever tin you have). Bake for 20-25 minutes or until firm to the touch and an inserted knife comes out clean.

For the icing:

With an electric mixer, mix the margarine until smooth. Slowly add the powdered sugar until the margarine/sugar clumps together. Slowly add the liquid coffee until the mixture is smooth. Add more sugar to the mix if needed until the consistency is what you want. Add the instant coffee at the end.


Thanks to a bicycle accident last week, my soul has been getting a workout lately. Today I walked a total of 8 or 9 miles to and from school. Being unable to ride a bike definitely slows down life. And what I would give for a working, efficient public transit system. Ironically it takes 20 minutes to bike to campus, 45 minutes to an hour to ride the bus, and 1 hour to walk. Given the choice of $1.75 each way for a ridiculously slow walk+bus ride, I’ve decided to walk. Luckily Georgia has a few beautiful tricks up her sleeve.

I’m almost dumbfounded anytime I see standing water now. Given the drought in Georgia and the fact that my city is about to run out water, seeing it on the ground is almost a miracle. Too bad it’s too early to call this one a Christmas miracle. I crossed the south fork of Peachtree Creek a couple of times and it was running strong–higher than in May when I monitored it with the USGS. Funny how things work. But then again, I wrecked my bike because it rained for the first time in over a month and the roads were quite slick.

American Holly–Ilex opaca— lines the sidewalk in the historic area of Druid Hills. It seems all the rage with the rich people. Personally, I just like that nature comes out in full force for the winter season some times. It’s ridiculously difficult to identify plants in the winter–my deciduous tree i.d. tests were always bad this time of year, leaf scars and buds can only tell you so much before it all looks alike. Luckily little opaca likes to be most vibrant when everything else seems to die down. She’s such the optimist!

But then again, this is Georgia. It may be 30 or 40 something degrees outside, but we seem to always have azaleas blooming. This purple azalea is a native one, I’m not sure which species, and there were only a few blooms on the bush, but it’s certainly an interesting juxtaposition to the holly berries and Christmas wreaths gracing every house!

Although I was a couple of minutes late to class–Southern Literature–it was well worth it. I wasn’t stressed out all day, I was able to sip coffee and snap photographs on my commute, and the squirrels and woodpeckers and I had several conversations and chase scenes (the squirrels like being chased, I swear). Walking is so archaic in Atlanta–no one does it–but I really think it’s one of the best ways to rediscover the environment.

Did I mention I was able to drink coffee on my way to campus? 😉

I’m taking a Southern literature class right now–“The Rough South”–and last night while reading my last novel for the course, My Drowning by Jim Gimsley, I began to crave biscuits and gravy. This isn’t the first time. Over the course of this semester, thanks to all of the lovely biscuit filled southern lit I’ve been reading, I’ve made approximately 10 different biscuit or gravy recipes. I have a serious problem. But after the word biscuit is used twenty times in two chapters, one has to make biscuits–even if it’s 11 pm. Even if one should be sleeping. Even if one hates Southern food. My god, this is a comfort food thing…well, even though my family never made biscuits and gravy.

I was hungry, watching the fire, wishing for something to eat. We would have biscuits soon, I could smell them, but I never ate fast enough to fill my stomach, and afterward there was never anything left over. So I huddled in Mama’s lap and watched the fire and felt the hollow fist in my belly.

The smell of biscuits filled the house, drawing my brothers, Carl Jr., Otis, and Joe Robbie, slouched like dogs along the walls. The smell awakened Daddy, who shuffled from teh bedroom pulling a flannel shirt over his thin shoulders.

He spooned sugar into his coffee and said nothing. When nothing but biscuit appeared to eat, he stared into the top of the table. He chewed the biscuit as if he were grazing in a pasture.

I got half a biscuit. The sensation of warm bread in the stomach made me happy, and I was allowed to eat in Mama’s lap. We were eating, all of us. We crowded near the fireplace. No one talked.
-My Drowning, Jim Grimsley

Biscuits & Gravy

For the biscuits:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons margarine
1/2 cup soy milk
1 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

For the gravy:
1/4 of an onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, diced
1/4 cup vegetable oil (I used a mix of olive and canola oil)
1 1/2 cups water
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 tsp sage
salt (to taste)
pepper (to taste)
5 or 6 white mushrooms

Preheat oven to 450.

To make the biscuits, mix the soy milk and vinegar in a seperate bowl and allow it to sit for 10 minutes until fermented. Mix together dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cut the margarine into pea sized pieces (in the flour) with a pastry cutter or fork. Add liquid ingredients and mix with a fork until it just starts to come together.

Push the dough into a ball, knead just once or twice and roll out to 1/2 thick slab. Cut into circles or squares, place on cookie sheet and bake at 450 for 10-15 minutes. (note: instead of rolling out the biscuits and cutting them, I used a spoon to drop irregular balls of dough onto the cookie sheet and then baked the free-form biscuits.)

To make the gravy, saute the onions and garlic in the vegetable oil for 2-3 minutes. Add the flour and stir until a paste forms. Slowly incorporate the water, constantly stirring, until a thick but liquid gravy is formed. Add the salt, pepper, and sage. Allow the liquid to boil for 3 or 4 minutes.

While the liquid is thickening, saute the mushrooms in 1 Tbsp of olive oil until slightly cooked. Add the mushrooms to the gravy as soon as the gravy has thickened.