5 Minute Chocolate Brownie (Vegan) (Single Serving)

ImageOkay РI have been woefully remiss in updating this blog. (I will update about once a month in the future РI have a vegan cinnamon bun post that is almost ready to publish! ) I have been a very busy bee with school work and learning music and life etc.

And this weekend is no different I have three assignments I’m working on for Tuesday and three final exams following right behind and I have to learn the alto part for the chorus of La Traviata. On the bright side I’ll be done the school part on Thursday ūüôā ¬†Woo! ¬†The downside is I’m stuck at my desk all weekend staring at the gorgeous weather and wishing I could be having outdoor fun.

I desperately needed a little yummy study food and decided to try a recipe I have seen floating around – for a brownie in a mug. ¬†I saw this months ago but thought nah ¬†if I want brownies I’ll make proper brownies – but I’m trying to adjust some habits and I don’t want them in my house.

My decisions on the 5 minute “mug” brownie. ¬†– it’s pretty freaking good brownie!

Here is the recipe I used:

4 tbsp white flour

4 tbsp sugar

2 1/2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa

2 1/2 – 3 tbsp non dairy milk ( I used a coconut milk beverage) or a non-vegan dairy milk

2 tbsp canola oil (a light vegetable oil)

a small pinch of salt

a quick splash of vanilla extract

Add the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, cocoa) to a microwave safe mug or latte mug, or large custard cup  and stir them until combined. Then add the milk, oil and vanilla and stir until combined.

Microwave on high for 2 minutes.  And then leave to cool for a few minutes. It was  incredibly freaking hot!!   Use an oven mitt and blow on it before you take a bite.

The original recipe had a less cocoa and a little less milk – but I like dark chocolate and my desserts a little less sweet then most people. ¬†When I make it again – I think I’ll drizzle some melted chocolate on it. Peanut butter and honey might also work well on it.

Also – though I have seen this and mentioned it being “single serving” there is quite a bit of brownie – so you can share it. I did ūüôā


The Brown Sugar Deception! Don’t Buy It. Make It.

IMG_0088Buying brown sugar at the store is not worth it. Don’t do it.¬†Do not be deceived that it is more¬†natural or better than white sugar. If it is labelled brown sugar – then it is just regular refined white sugar with a bit of molasses mixed into it. ¬†Light brown sugar has less molasses and dark brown sugar has more. And yet brown sugar is more expensive in the store than it needs to be and then it will dry up on you or you’ll have to buy some special gourmet nonsense thing to try to get it to stay soft – but it will inevitably turn into a giant brown rock. ¬†Don’t buy it! ¬†Make it. ¬†It’s simple.

You can produce small batches just enough for your recipe ( or for baking save yourself the trouble of blending and just toss both the molasses into the bow and stir as the recipe requires).

Turbindo sugar or Demerara sugar – which look brown – are speciality sugars and are produced differently – but if your recipe calls for brown sugar then here is what you do.

What you will need:

a bowl

a spoon

molasses (fancy or cooking – or other type)

refined sugar

If your recipe calls for a a cup of packed brown sugar Рthen get out you molasses and add a tablespoon of molasses to one cup of white sugar. Stir and stir Рsmush any slumps with the back of the spoon.  If you want light brown sugar add less than a tablespoon. the best bet I find is to start with less and then add to it as needed.

I keep both cooking molasses and fancy molasses around the house so I did the process with both Рcooking molasses produces a much darker result with the same amount of molasses  is less sweet and has a touch of bitterness to it whereas the fancy molasses is what I prefer  Рit has a complex flavour and richness, and it is sweeter with almost no bitterness.

This is the process and result with fancy molasses and white sugar:

IMG_0073   IMG_0076IMG_0083

This is the process and result with cooking molasses and white sugar (to make it darker I just added a bit more molasses) :

TIMG_0086IMG_0087IMG_0088 IMG_0089  

For more info about sugars: http://www.sugar.ca/english/consumers/sugarfromfield.cfm

To Be Continued!

Hello again foodies. ¬†I began this blog as an assignment for a media relations class. But I really enjoyed the process and I like sharing the yummy recipes that have worked for me as well as a few other things. So I have ¬†made a command decision : I will continue! . I will write at least one post every week (probably Friday’s)- about food or wine or art or music. Whatever sparks for me that week. ¬†Thanks all!

Guacamole. (Vegan)


Guacamole is awesome. Here is how I make it.  What else is there to say?

You will need:

A large container or bowl

A small bowl

A moderately sharp knife

A fork

A spoon

A cutting board


2 avocados that have been in the fridge for a few hours

1/4  of an onion Рfor a mild onion flavour a sweet onion or red onion but I use yellow onion

1-2 cloves of garlic

1 Roma tomato ( about 1.5 inches in diameter – ish)

a squeeze of lime juice or lemon juice ( fresh or fresh from a bottle)

a dash  or two of Louisiana hot sauce Рor some jalapeno pepper to taste

a pinch of salt

(and you can add fresh cilantro if you have it right before serving)

water and a little vinegar or another good squeeze of lemon juice


Okay my first step is to cut up the garlic. Squish it by covering it  with the side of your knife and taking the heel of your hand and putting some weight on it.  Then chop it up as small as you can.

Then chop up the onion reasonably small. If you are like me and get a really bad crying/stinging/practically blinding reaction to cutting onions РI can suggest  putting your cutting board across an empty, cold, stove and turn the fan hood on high and then chop.  I know there are other ways Рbut I can never remember to put an onion in the freezer the night before etc.

Take the chopped onion and garlic and toss it into  your small bowl with about a cup of cold water with few tablespoons (a good splash) of white vinegar and let it soak for a half hour  or if you forget about it or go out a couple of hours Рthis takes the sharpness and bite out of the raw onion and garlic (thanks Maeve!):


When you are ready toss the onion and garlic into your large bowl or container.

Then chop your Roma tomato and toss it into your container.


Then get your ripe avocado – the skin will be black and the only way I know to test the ideal ripeness of an avocado is to squeeze it. It should squish a little. If it doesn’t then leave it on the counter for a day or a couple of days – it will ripen. Just be patient.

Okay so you have a ripe avocado.  Cut around it length-wise (around the pit)  and then grab one half of the avocado and twist it to release that side from the pit.  Then scoop out the pit form the other side with a spoon  or Рplease ignore this if you are not very experienced or uncomfortable with knives Р put down the avocado on the counter and stick the knife into the pit and twist it out.

Then either scoop out the yummy green flesh with your spoon and chop on your cutting board OR  use the trick I learned from cutting up mangos : take your knife and slice into the green flesh down to the skin of the avocado (see first picture Рthis is why the moderately or even dull knife- in a grid pattern, and then turn the avocado  45 degrees and do another grid pattern.  Then scoop out the avocado into the container with the other chopped ingredients- all chopped with less squishy mess!


Now add a dash of lime or lemon, a pinch of salt, and a dash or two of Louisiana hot sauce (I have tried siracha but it isn’t as good in this). or you can use a little fresh jalape√Īo if you like ( be careful when chopping ( use gloves and do not touch your face).

And stir and taste ūüôā ¬†Voila! ¬†You have guacamole – which will last in the fridge for about a week!

If you have fresh cilantro you can add it before serving.  But it is just as good without.


The Frustration of Food Allergies

IMG_0129I am generally pretty easy going about my food allergies – even though I have soo many. ¬†Why spit into the wind? ¬† ¬†Feeling sorry for myself or having a tantrum will just take up my time and energy and I’ll still be me with the same immune system. ¬†But sometimes things happen that frustrate ¬†and disappoint me – like today- and I need a little rant.

Today I got a package in the mail from Vega Рa good choice for no dairy- no egg products. Thank you veganism. I ordered some vegan protein powder and they had a deal where if you buy a certain amount they give you a free water bottle and a bunch of samples. I was excited to try some new things. woo free stuff woo!  So I tear open the box and take out my cool new bottle and excitedly go through my free stuff and out of 11 free sample pouches Р8 might kill me. !)@#*$@#(&$@(#$&@(#&$!(@*#!!!

I do my best to read labels and read menus carefully and plan ahead and look at websites and recipes and know what is in things and mention relevant allergies at restaurants (depending on the cuisine). But sometimes it doesn’t work. And sometimes I have to send things back and sometimes I have to give away my free stuff to my roomie because I just don’t know if “natural raspberry” flavour is going to land me in the hospital.

And that kind of thing is everywhere. Everything lately is berry flavoured or has berries in it or is covered in berries or berry sauces. Or has berry flavouring not labelled or or listed on the menu. ( this also happens to me with sesame seeds ¬†– I don’t get it – they aren’t that pretty, and they don’t have that much flavour but they are scattered all over everything and no one ever thinks to list – encrusted or sprinkled or doused with sesame seeds on a menu!)

I get that the trend right now is gluten-free, and peanut free, but not dairy free or egg free ¬†etc. And that berries are a big thing/superfood/health food etc. ¬†And many of the things that I have allergies to I remember being super yummy. I get it. – berries are yummy and good for you ( not me). ¬†It is just really frustrating some days to look forward to something ¬†– and doing my utmost to make sure that I will be able to eat or drink what I’m getting and then get the plate or open the box and find that I just can’t.

This is a big reason why I learned to cook and bake. Which is definitely a bright side to my history of food allergies.

But, well, sometimes it sucks to be the gal who has bring her own food on the plane, or to every free lunch event, and interrogate the wait staff or short order cook or has to send things back at a restaurant. And yes I know some of you might wonder why I wouldn’t just make sure I list all my allergies to waiters and here is the answer: when your list of things that might make you very sick/might kill you gets up to 8 or more items the staff at restaurants get really freaked out, hover a lot and tell me can’t guarantee anything. (Plus there is very little point of going to get a lamb gyro and mentioning that I shouldn’t eat raspberries). ¬†And I know no restaurant can really guarantee that there aren’t traces of all sort of things in the food. I get it. ¬†It’s always a risk for anyone to eat out. ( Seriously,if you want to freak yourself spend an hour on the internet searching bugs in food or risks of restaurant eating. ) And I’m super lucky in that very small amounts won’t do much at all. ¬†It’s just disappointing and frustrating sometimes: To order steamed rice and pick seeds out of it ;or go to a party and see lots of healthy choices like hummus ¬†and 7 grain crackers and rice chips and know that the only healthy choice in the room for me is the plain potato chips;¬†Or open a box of cool samples and have 9 out of 11 of them have berry in the title or even worse have a berry I have no problem with in the title but to look at the label and see that they have put a bunch of flavourings from a bunch of other berries I can’t have. ¬† ūüė¶

Ahh well. At least I’m not allergic to cocoa or carob….yet. Knock on wood.

More Art from Me….

Picture 435

I did a post a few weeks back about the final project I did for my most recent painting class a few months ago. Several years ago I also took drawing and all sort of wonderful classes while doing a certificate in Fine Art Techinques at Emily Carr University of Art and Design.

At the time I began classes I was struggling with an illness and was unable to do many of the things that I loved doing previously. But I had always wanted to take art and it was something I could do. So I took one class and my first teacher was so supportive and told me I actually had talent and should continue to so signed up for the certificate. I can honestly say that art helped me stay sane while cooped up.  If you have never taken a class or painted a painting or done a drawing since grade school Рbut you would like to Рyou are where I was back then. I encourage you to take the leap you never know what might come of it.

Here are some pics of some of the work I did during and since my time at Emily Carr:etc 149
etc 153IMG_0043

etc 2155


38089_455778425518_703125518_6694030_7486743_n 39113_455757895518_703125518_6693322_2329725_n


Vegan √† la mode: Vancouver’s Best Pie


Are you a pie person or a cake person? ¬†That is the question. ¬† Personally I lean towards cake. And not cheesecake – New York cheesecake is pie , ¬†European style cheesecake can be cake but isn’t always but I digress….. ¬†I may not be on the pie side of the aisle but the pie at Aphrodite’s Cafe and Pie Shop? That I will trek all the way the Kitsilano for – even on a rainy day.

Most pies are difficult for those of us who don’t eat dairy or eggs and a la mode is out of the question but at Aphrodite’s it’s not ¬†a problem. Everyday, they have a list of Vegan – friendly pies ( that are also wheat and gluten free) and they have soy and even coconut “ice creams” to scoop on top. ¬†Personally my favourite combo is peach pie with vanilla coconut ice cream,

Today their list of Vegan pies ( that you can also order as full pies to take home):

  • Apple
  • Blackberry Apple
  • Raspberry Rhubarb
  • Strawberry Rhubarb
  • Blueberry
  • Cherry

They have a pie and chai special too that I recommend – $ 10.25 for you vegans. ¬† PS the earlier you get there the better especially on the weekend – you don’t want to miss out on your favourite!

If you want to have lunch or dinner -before the pie or after what ever floats your boat – they have a pretty amazing vegan chili and I have heard great things about their vegan mac and cheese ( unfortunately I haven’t been able to try it because I have a sesame allergy ūüė¶ ). ¬†They also have vegan Sunday brunch options! ¬†Now I have to go there for brunch ¬†– and apparently this –¬†¬†“vegan, gluten-free Dark Chocolate Almond Torte –¬†rated top Vegan Dessert in the city by Vancouver magazine!” ¬†¬†Why haven’t I tried this ?!?!

I have to plan another visit to Aphrodite’s. Did I mention they are organic. Yup. Organic all the way.
Aphrodite’s is at 3598 W 4th Ave, Vancouver.

http://www.organiccafe.ca/¬† – they have an online pie order form ūüôā

PS While you are in the area U Paint I fire is a very cool place down on 4th (I’ll ¬†tell you about it this week) and ¬†Banyen books is always worth a look.

Guten Appetit!

* photo courtesy of http://aphrodites.foodpages.ca/