Wheat Free Vegan Baking

I decided to make things a little bit more challenging since my last baking.  For someone who can’t bake, it seems a little silly to do that but what the heck, life is too short 🙂  More than that, my good friend SP bought me a gluten free baking book for turning 38.  Took me a couple of months to gather the ingredients and find the time motivation to do and ta daaaah!!

I made Dark Chocolate Cupcakes for the 12th of May and replaced cocoa powder for carob.  In my opinion, it looked decent, the taste was ok but the texture was plain awful :p  It was like taking a bite into a cake and have it crumble into sand soaking up all the moisture in your mouth.  I did say awful.  My husband aka resident guinea pig of the MacLaughlan household kindly ate a couple and said they were not bad.  If that isn’t love, I don’t know what is 🙂

If you knew me, you’d know I’m not the sort that backs away from a challenge and that’s what it felt like when I looked at the remaining 14 cupcakes in the fridge the next day.  The terribly failed carob cupcakes were sitting in the container daring me to do it all over again, make another batch as awful as they were.  So one night while waiting for a work call to start I had a couple of hours to kill and decided to try the Coconut Heaven Cupcake.

I am happy to report, this time it was slightly better … yes … just slightly.  “Small steps” is my motto.  I’ll get there eventually 🙂  The texture wasn’t so terribly crumbly but still it doesn’t have the cake texture that a normal wheat and dairy filled one would have had but it was ever so slightly better.  The perils of trying to eat better.  People ask me why I do it?  For one, it really does make me feel better.  Ask people who knew me before my vegetarian-bordering-on-vegan days, I would eat anything.  After cleaning up my diet, I do feel like my stomach digests the less processed, less dairy vegetarian-bordering-on-vegan meals more and I do feel better overall for it.  It may all be in my mind, I don’t know and am open to that.

For now, I actually enjoy experimenting with healthier options.  I’m happy to have more tasters if you’re allergic to wheat or diary and wanna try them … I can’t promise they’ll all be good though :p

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Apple Banana Cashew Muffin

It’s been a while since I baked.  Now that I have what I’m calling, My Little Oven that Could, I’m baking again 🙂  All thanks to my dear cousin-in-law, Michelle.  So on a whim one night when I saw overripe bananas, apples and cashews in my fridge, I decided to whip up a batch of muffins.  I usually have some kind of flour to bake with in the freezer and I was planning to keep it all simple without any fancy ingredients.

So I chopped up the nuts and apples, mashed up the bananas and stirred in the spelt flour, baking power and realised I didn’t have enough maple syrup as a sweetener.  I thought with bananas and apples, it’d be sweet enough but nope, it isn’t.

The muffins came out TASTELESS :p  The consistency was fine and it smelled great but it had no taste what so ever.  I had to spread jam on it or else it was like bread :p  Once I get maple syrup, I’m going to try this easy recipe again.

Playing Housewife

Every now and then, I reckon I can give up the rush of getting a project done, hanging out with friends over lunch, having financial independence and be a stay-at-home wife.  So on weekends and over holidays I can pretend and test out the concept.  My husband gets to benefit from wholesome meals 🙂

Tofu, eggplant and mushroom in the foreground.  French beans stirred fried with carrots coupled with brown rice 🙂

It was fun and I reckon, sure, I can do the whole Nigella thing for a meal here and there but I’ll definitely need a little angel or two before I can do the whole stay home thing.  For now, my husband gets to benefit from my nesting needs.  I’m thinking of what to whip up next … soup and fried rice?  Yes, my Asian palate is yearning for some comfort food.

Meanwhile, I’ve found out why we have finger nails … in my case, thumb nails.  They are there to protect you from chopping the tip of your thumb off.

Yes, it happened as I was chopping garlic for the stir fry.  Don’t worry it didn’t fall into the garlic … I had to peel it off and chuck it in the trash but if my nail wasn’t there … I may have no tip of a thumb to speak off anymore.

More than that, it looks like I’m in serious need of a manicure :p

Oatmeal Carob Chip Cookies

With some walnuts, that’s what I baked my husband over the weekend. It wasn’t that bad either. It’s not like cookie cookie type biscuits, it’s more like one of those soft cookie. He seem to like it enough so if it’s good enough for my him, it’s good enough for the world 🙂 I got the recipe off one of my favourite vegan site, Don’t Get Mad, Get Vegan 🙂 So here it is with some modification.

ingredientsbatterbefore the oven

Ingredients
1/3cup Smooth Peanut Butter (feel free to use other nut butter if there’s peanut allergy)
2tbs Canola Oil
1cup Sugar (I used organic brown sugar for baking and I only went with 1/2 a cup, gonna try brown rice sugar the next time)
1cup Rice/Soy Milk
1tsp Pure Vanilla Essence
1cup Whole Wheat Flour (I use a combination of oat/brown rice/barley flour if there’s a wheat allergy)
1/2tsp Baking Powder
1/2tsp Salt
1cup Rolled Oats
1/2cup Carob Chips
1/2cup Walnuts

  • Preheat oven to 190
  • Oil or line a baking sheet
  • Whisk the first 5 ingredients until smooth (it took me a while so don’t be too surprise you’re tired at the end of the whisking bit)
  • In a separate bowl, mix in thoroughly the baking powder and salt into the flour
  • Add all remaining ingredients and flour mixture in the the smooth whisked batter and stir to combine
  • Drop batter by large spoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheet (I pressed the batter balls a little to give it a cookie look)
  • Bake for about 12-14minutes or until the tops just begin to crack (mine took about 20minutes or so)
  • Don’t expect them to get very brown
  • Remove sheet from oven and wait 10minutes before transferring cookies to a plate.

Including washing up, the whole process didn’t take me more than an hour and say about 15minutes. So it’s a good one to try if you don’t have a lot of time and don’t need anything that looks too fantastic. Good to fix a cookie craving 🙂

Happy Birthday Baby K

I’m in denial. I know, I know, at 3 she’s no longer a baby but I like to think she is 🙂 I remember buying her first present, a book when she was still in my good friend, Gerie’s tummy. Now she’s 3!! It’s amazingly fast how these little ones grow. I guess it’s especially fast for me coz I see her every other month or so. Her actual birthday is today but her party was about a week early as they had the usual Cheng getaway. This Hello Kitty themed party started right from the invites, which came while I was in LA.

the spread

The food was reminiscent of party food we grew up on fishball, french fries, sausages, bee hoon, mee goreng but with the added 21st century kick of a beef stew and brown rice salad. Everything was home cooked and yummilicious, Gerie even made the birthday cupcakes.

the birthday cupcakes

I’m impressed too. Here’s a pic of Kaitlyn blowing out her candles and one with her two favourite people in the world 🙂

blowing out candlesthe chengs

And here’s my favourite picture of Mummy and daughter.

mummy gerie and 3 year old kaitlyn

My favourite part of the party was the non-violent pinata. Kids take their turn to come up, choose a string and tug real hard. Much better than whacking it with all your strength, I say 🙂

pinata 1aira and the pinatathe tug that did it all

the loot is free

My next favourite part was trying to get a picture with all the kids. They ranged from about 6 months old to 8 years old, so it was quite a task.

oknowkidstogether

good job

It took a while and a couple of attempts but given their attention span, I say they’ve done well 🙂 Kaitlyn wasn’t the only one celebrating her party, the day of the party was Auntie Claire’s birthday too.

auntie claire's turn

claire and her angels

Of course, we couldn’t forget Auntie Cherry’s birthday. Though it was a week late by the day of the party, she had her own birthday cupcake too 🙂 Happy Birthday Auntie Cherry and Aunty Claire!!!

auntie cherry's turn

I think every adult at the party came with a little people, everyone except Cherry, Shell and me. So even though we were big grown ups, we were the only grown ups with our own goody bags 🙂 I can deal with that 🙂 Thanks Kaitlyn, have a beautiful birthday and may your days be filled with dreams coming true!!!

more hello kittygoody baghello kitty agar agar

Pasta and salad

My husband is a freelance writer which means he isn’t paid on time, works from home and so usually does the cooking on weekdays. Come the weekends, I give him a break and if I can’t convince him to go out for meals, I’ll try and do a Martha Stewart or Nigella Lawson, depending on my mood – aunty or sexy. Over last weekend, he was working on a project and that usually means eating in.

I opened the fridge and wondered I could make. I took out some eggplants, red pepper, asparagus, mushrooms, spinach and tomatoes. Boiled some pasta. Cut up the veggies and let all the spirits of Nigella, Martha and all kitchen angels take over my hands.

I usually go with garlic and onions as my base but I was feeling adventurous and went with onion and ginger. Threw in some herbs, can’t remember which ones now and tamari sauce. So far so good, it was at least smelling yummy. Threw in the red pepper, asparagus and mushrooms. Read somewhere if you want a balance meal, just make sure you have fruits and veggies that are different in colours. So I was feeling real proud of myself when I finally threw in the pasta. While that was cooking, I tossed a side salad of spinach and cherry tomatoes with balsamic vinegar.

A complete meal in less than 30mins 🙂 The question now is can I do this everyday?  Maybe then I can tempt my husband to get a boring job :p

Vegan Pancakes

Over last weekend, I was trying to do the whole wife-y thing. Staying home, doing chores and making breakfast. This does not happen often. I’m not the wife-y sort which is really strange because growing up I always thought I could be the wife-y sort. Life does have a strange way of changing on you and I turned out to be pretty much an independent chickie whose only few talents include making my husband laugh (I think that’s the only reason he married me) and having silly rules like “No jeans in bed”. So I pretty much don’t do the cooking and house cleaning thing too well.

But it was the weekend before Christmas and I was feeling all family and needing to nest. So I got up early, 9am (that’s very early for a Saturday in our household) and was all inspired to make pancakes with no eggs and milk. I flip through a couple of my recipe books, trying to figure what’s the best way to get the fluffy pancakes from my pre-vegetarian days. I gathered the ingredients I thought would work best.

Stuff to make pancakes with

Using 2 references from my favourite cookbooks, I came up with my own batter of rice milk, brown rice flour, oat flour, soy protein and a pinch of salt. It was looking rather good, I was feeling all proud and was going to declare myself, Carlene, the Wonder Chef till … …

first pancake

That’s my first attempt. Not quite the usual pancake and it was kinda crumbly too, the batter wasn’t holding together very well. After another two more sad attempts, I was about to throw in the pancake towel when my dear husband told me that the first couple of pancakes are always the worst of the lot. Now you know who is the more patient of the two. So I kept at it, varying the amount of batter I poured for each pancake and the speed of which I poured the batter.

Midway through

Not bad, huh? Yes, I was starting to enjoy doing the whole wife-y thing again. Thinking to myself, I can do this everyday and the more I practised, the better the pancakes were turning out. By the last bit of batter, I figured out thinner was better and slowly pouring it out worked the best.

at last

However, while it looked pretty good, I was told by my ever patient and kind husband that it could do with more time on the pan i.e. it was undercooked. Unlike him, I doused my pancakes with maple syrup so I couldn’t really tell it was undercooked. Did I mention I love maple syrup … YUM 😀 Anyway, I’ll be practising some more this weekend and hopefully I’ll come up with a batter that even my super-allergic-to-almost-everything little friend can eat.

Nice to look at

Here’s to a fantastic last weekend of 2007 and year end parties with a blast!!