Sunday, November 20, 2011

A poem about poetry.

I've been talking to the kids about poetry. They like poetry and they like music. Shorty noticed how lots of songs have rhyming words at the ends. I explained a few of the rules about poetry, and that some poems don't have any rules.These are rules you can follow if you want to but don't have to follow if you do not. this is an introduction to anarchy with words.

We pulled out their favourite Shel Silverstein books and read their favourites. Counted the iambs, named the feet, noticed the lack of rules from one to the next and sometimes in the same poem, but also recognized the forms in others that did follow a rule. They were delighted, inspired.

Shorty and I sat down and tried to write a poem. The question was "What should it be about?" I never know.  So here is what we created together:

8 Feet

A poem is a tricky thing;
not something started on a whim.

Should it rhyme? No, not all the time.
Should it inspire? Evoke desire?

Maybe just be for fun?

A poem is a tricky thing,
not easily begun.

We did well with the 8 feet for the first four lines, then went for a 6, 8, 6 finish for some reason. But since there are no rules it should be ok - right?

We are really bad at anarchy with words.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Vegan Lemon Extreme Cupcakes Recipe!

Now really you have to say extreme like it's a monster truck rally, because these are EXTREME! Ka-POW! Punch in the salivary glands and make your neck ache tangy lemon cupcakes. No prissy pretty cupcakes; these babies bite back!

This is the same old vegan cupcake recipe I've used for years, ever since we found out Shorty was allergic to eggs and milk. Don't worry I'll include it again at the end. I made a first batch to let Shorty decide how she wanted her cupcakes to taste and she exclaimed "Not enough lemon! Needs more lemon! Double the lemon!" while Husband said "These are nice, a subtle lemon flavour. Pleasant. except for this bit of rind I'm left chewing on."

From that I took this: Double the lemon and get a proper lemon zester because shaving it with the veggie peeler and chopping with my curved knife isn't good enough.

I bought a big bag of lemons and found a fine cheese grater in the drawer of kitchen stuff I never use that worked perfectly as a zester. I did a couple things differently than I normally would:

Vegan Extremely Lemony Cupcakes

That's the zest and juice of two small lemons. I did this bit first before anything else. I find it easier to squeeze over a small plate and then I can pick out all the seeds without fumbling up the sides of a bowl or squeezing over my other hand and trying not to let the seeds slip between my fingers. I then put the juice on the zest and let it soften up the zest and set aside until later.

Vegan Extremely Lemony Cupcakes

When the batter is ready, I spooned it into paper cake things that I pre-sprayed with non stick. Why? Because how many times have you been ready to enjoy a lovely cupcakes and then had to eat it off the paper because the paper stuck to the cake? I hate when that happens!  Also, see the one in the bottom left? That's how high you should fill the paper. The others are too full. Why? Because don't you hate it when you peel back the paper and it gets covered in sticky icing and it runs or gobs down the side? No? Well you're a finger licking icing freak. I like to have a bit of paper free of frosting to pull back and then I can grab the cake and not get all sticky from the icing. It's a dainty, delicate thing this cupcake eating! Al;so - look at all that zest in the batter - isn't it teasing you with its lemony promise of deliciousness?

Vegan Extremely Lemony Cupcakes

See them baked and how the one with the paper at the top is nicer than the one on the right that's overfull and guaranteeing the icing runs down the side of paper?

Vegan Extremely Lemony Cupcakes

This was them finished, the next morning. Now, I admit this was the batch I'd made and it has a flaw. The ones my daughter made were perfect and much, much prettier than these. The mistake was, I'd read other cupcake recipes (No, no not that reading recipes of others is a mistake, it's not, it's bloody essential!) and a few of them included a quarter of a cup of corn flour. I didn't understand this use of corn flour. Cornflour? I use that to thicken sauces. Does it thicken cupcakes? What was it going to do? Is it better than my usual corn flour free ones? So I had to try it out. I found it does in fact make the cakes a tad denser and flatter. Dense in a super moist sense not a hockey puck way. See how the cakes are slightly hockey puck shaped? That's the corn flour. I think it helps keep them from rising too high and dome-like and then they won't crack as badly making icing much easier. I'm guessing! It makes sense. Second batch, Shorty made without corn flour with her child's handful of lemon zest. This batch she proclaimed perfection while my husband grasped his neck hissing "My glands! Ack! Lemon! Tart!" and then grabbed another cupcake and left the room.

Sadly I have no pictures of the perfect ones Shorty made because they were scarfed up first. I'm not jealous! She did an awesome job, she was a kitchen Goddess! She'll have this recipe down pat by next week for the contest and she knows exactly how she wants her cupcakes to taste. She's 7 by the way, did you know that? She's a Junior Masterchef in the making. My cupcakes were only ok next to her ones. No one liked the mixed peel on top, they preferred Shorty's lemon zest only simplicity and the dome top on her no corn flour recipe was irrelevant in the end. I'll get you some more pictures of hers when she does her official entry for the 19th. If you cannot wait, then you'll have to try and make them yourself:


Vegan Super Lemon Cupcakes



Cupcake Ingredients



  • 1½ cups of self rising flour
  • ¾ cup of caster sugar
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 1/3 cup of extra light olive oil
  • Zest and juice of two small or one large lemon (around 1/3 of a cup of juice)
  • 1 cup of soy milk and another ½ a cup to be added if needed for a thick but pourable batter.
  • 1 teaspoon of white vinegar



Icing Ingredients



  • ¾ cup of icing sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • Some lemon zest



Preparation



  • Zest the lemons and squeeze all the juice. Remove seeds but leave pulpy bits. Let the zest soak in the juice and set aside.
  • Place cupcake papers into a muffin tin and give a light coating with non stick spray.
  • Preheat oven to 170C.



Method



In a large bowl sift all the dry ingredients together. Make a well in the flour, keeping the vinegar aside, add the rest of the wet ingredients and mix until no large lumps appear – be careful not to over mix or the batter will become too heavy. Add the vinegar and give a few good stirs then spoon the batter into the cupcake papers leaving a few millimetres of paper showing at the top. Get quickly into the oven and bake for around 20-25 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean but the cakes aren't browned on top. Allow cakes to cool completely.



Once cakes are cooled make the icing by sifting the icing sugar to be sure it's free of hard lumps. Add the lemon juice a teaspoon a time and stir until a thick, spreadable icing is achieved. Add to the top of the cupcakes, top with the zest for decoration and allow to set

Storm clouds 09/11/11

That was coming towards us as we were happily baking. 

Ah - in the ingredients there's white vinegar. That's a great trick and saved us yesterday. It was a muggy, humid warm afternoon with storms brewing on the horizon but as we were baking it was the worst weather for baking. Humid kitchens make sticky, overly moist cakes that sometimes don't rise well. Add a vegan recipe and it's a wonder they work at all. A little chemistry to the rescue. The vinegar added at the end reacts with the baking powder and makes bubbles in the batter - it creates crumb. A nice crumb is necessary to a great cake. The vinegar flavour bakes off and you never know it's even in there, unless you lick the bowl. Then you know. That's a great thing about vegan recipes - no salmonella worry! Lick that bowl clean! Otherwise, you don't actually need the vinegar so don't sweat it if you don't have any.

Storm clouds 09/11/11

I hope you give these a try. They really are the answer if you've ever had a lemon cake and thought to yourself "I suppose it could be lemon?" and like Shorty screamed "More Lemon!!" then this will tickle your tang buds.

If anyone can tell me how to get the 1/3 to shrink down like the other fractions in Open Office, I'd appreciate that too. Damned annoying that.

Last trick - I didn't let the kids lick the bowl because there was about a 1/4 cup of batter left. After two bowls of leftover batter, I spooned it into the mini-muffin pan and baked them up too. Those were lovely lunchbox sized treats.  Why waste it when it can be cooked and used up. Even cupcakes can be frozen and used later!


 


Wednesday, November 09, 2011

SIGH

Ok, scratch that; the knitting is due tomorrow along with short stories, colouring and other crafty kind of stuff. Baking is due the 19th.

What am I going to do with these 2 dozen cupcakes and scones?

Chalk it up to practice.

sigh. I'm so tired.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Lemon Cupcakes and Date Scones and a fast scarf....

Yesterday I mentioned there was a country fair at the school and Shorty entered the cupcake baking contest. Turns out it's not next week, it's tomorrow! Fucka-duck. I was positive the email I got a couple weeks ago said it was on the 19th but no, it's tomorrow.

Yesterday I made two different recipes of lemon muffins and let the family taste test them to see which they preferred. I was chuffed when they chose the first one which so happened to be my own, time tested favourite recipe. The only thing they all agreed was: more lemon. Well these folks are going to get some kick ass lemon bomb cupcakes now! I'm going to actually spend money on a zester and zest my little heart out.*

When Sassyface saw me give a dollar to let her sister enter a cupcake competition, she whined "I want a dollar!" and I told her she had to enter a competition and pay a dollar for the privileged. Did she have her entry form? No. So she had to go get one from the office, wringing her hands in anxiety because she'd have to talk to the receptionist - who is lovely, sweet and accommodating. But sucjh is the way of a anxious (lazy) kid "You do it for me?"

nope. You want to enter a contest, you enter it, not me. I'll have your dollar ready when you return. Good on her, she did it. then the cheeky besom entered two competitions and demanded $2. She entered finger knitting and scones. Luckily she's had a knitting project on the go for a couple weekends and has just been cramming her last stitches along on a soft, cranberry coloured scarf on the circle loom. She should have it ready for tomorrow. I may have to help tie tassels.

Now to find a recipe for date scones. Again, I have one that I use that's stupid easy, lazy and vegan. she says she'll use that one "The super sweet one." I argued it's not super sweet! But then, the dates done right are really sweet and the recipe doesn't need a lot of sugar if the dates are right.

This afternoon my little counter top oven is going to be very, very busy.

Wait - have I talked about the oven here? I haven't, have I? Well we moved house a few months ago because the old landlord was annoying and so were a few of our neighbors. One had many small dogs that barked all day. We have a new house and it's great on a quiet dead-end street (although our new neighbor just got a puppy that howls and barks all day indoors and outdoors) and we're happy. One thing I was taken with was the big, 900mm deluxe oven. I thought, I'll be able to cook up a storm in the mofo. Sadly, no. The oven doen't work. The gas top does, the grill does, the oven on max barely hits 100C. So gutted! I ended up going out and buying a small Breville counter top oven and let me tell you - this thing is awesome! Sadly not big enough for a Thanksgiving turkey. Turns out this deluxe oven the owners have is notorious for being crap. One star ratings galore. Biggest complaint was loss of temp. A total Golden Dancer.

Busy day; lemon cupcakes that exhibit the awesomeness of lemons, date scones and quick finish a knitting project. Here I go!

*Also let clarify that the kids will be doing all of this themselves. I m not doing all their baking for them. I found the recipes, tested them and now they're ready to bake them, themselves. I will help Sassy put on her tassels but she's cramming her own knitting. There will be no "You do it for me." bullshit because that would be cheating. Sassy did think she could just enter the school colours scarf I'd made for her last year in the contest, but I told her flat out No. Cheaters earn hollow victories. There's no pride in it.

Lemon Cupcakes

The school is having a country fair type thing next week. They came home with information sheets listing different events they could take part in. Shorty wants to do all of them. I told her to choose two. One is a cupcake bake-off. I'm hoping it's like a county fair where people bring in baked goods and they're all judged individually. Shorty thinks it's like Masterchef where all the kids are supposed to have a cooking contest. I'll have to clarify the conditions of the cupcake competition.

We talked this morning about cupcakes and what she thought she'd like to make. Flavour, frosting or icing, natural or food colouring; that kind of thing. She said Lemon, with lemon zest and lemon icing. A cupcake to display the amazingness of lemons. I'm all up for that. I also think she watches way too much Iron Chef.


The challenge now is to try and make a lemon cupcake that is also amazingness.
I'm looking at vegan recipes first because I doubt anyone else will make them and it'll be a nice surprise for people to taste that you don't need tons of animal products to make a cake taste nice. I have a standard recipe I always use but also want to make it as simple and use the fewest amount of ingredients possible just in case it is a bake-off. Try a few combinations and see which one everyone likes.

I'm considering, if I can find them, blood orange icing. That way it'll have a nice pinky colour naturally and keep the citrus theme.

I'm sure by the end of this week I'll never want to see another lemon cake again.

Inspirations source: Lemon Cupcakes