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Back (in Black!)

Just a quick update…

I’ve been in Israel for the past few weeks (hence the not posting). I’m going to post about that asap. I’m just too tired right now.

Good night!

I promise to start being healthy and all that stuff… tomorrow! Tehehe.

As a fledgling vegan and avid baker/eater, I have been experimenting with different sorts of desserts.

I made my first [vegan] ice cream. Chocolate peanut butter banana ice cream. It was supposed to be chocolate chip but I put them in too quickly and they melted… making it chocolate!

vegan ice cream

When I came home after a week or so of painting the town, there was a whole bunch of bananas that had been left untouched. They were incredibly ripe (read: brown). While trolling the blog world, I came across http://veganicecream.blogspot.com, a wonderful blog devoted to… well, you can probably guess what it’s devoted to. If the above looks tasty to you, feel free to go to her site and look at some recipes.

I don’t have an ice cream machine, so I just froze it while stirring every half hour and then put it in the food processor before devouring it.

 

On a more interesting (and believe it or not, tastier) note, yesterday was my mom’s birthday. Which of course means… birthday cake! Her favorite dessert is strawberry shortcake, so I made her pound cake. Ain’t I a stinker?

 

pound cake!

The recipe was taken from Veganomicon. It’s the vanilla-yogurt pound cake (though I made it with strawberry yogurt). Very delicious! I highly recommend the recipe and the cookbook.

I made a cream sauce that was quite fantastic.

Fantastic Cream Sauce:
1/4 cup Sour Cream
1/4 cup Cream Cheese
4 tsp. vegan sugar

Stir until creamy.

Put that on top of the cake with some strawberries and I promise it is better than strawberry shortcake.

 

 

Hello all. I joined the Daring Bakers this month. In case you don’t know, the Daring Bakers are a group of amazingly talented men and women. Each month, a new baking challenge is released and the DBs all help each other to complete the challenge and then reveal the challenge and the results on the same day (which would be today: May 28).

This month’s challenge was… an Opera Cake! To be honest, I had never even heard of this cake before, but after googling a few images of it, I was better able to figure out a way to attack and veganize the recipe.

This challenge is dedicated to Barbara at http://winosandfoodies.typepad.com/. Barbara is the driving force behind A Taste of Yellow, which is a food blogging event that supports Lance Armstrong’s livestrong foundation. If you are unfamiliar, I strongly encourage you to check out her blog and see what she and A Taste of Yellow are all about!

My Vanilla and Raspberry Opera Cake:

Opera cake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see, I had some issues with the buttercream and syrup. Normally, I would be disappointed. But, as I have just started baking vegan, I am going to forgive myself these little mishaps. I think I should have chilled everything longer… Anyway, the cake (despite appearances) was fantastic! I managed to successfully substitute the massive amounts of egg and still have a delightfully spongy joconde. For that, I was very proud. I’m not going to post a recipe, because if followed it will most likely produce a similar result. The original (non-vegan) recipe, along with some very beautiful pictures, can be found here: http://www.sugarlaws.com/opera-cake/#more-503.

side cake

Congratulations to every Daring Baker out there for completing this challenge and good luck to any non-Daring Baker that wants to try the recipe out as a self-challenge.

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To all you Daring Bakers out there: if anyone has advice on how to put the logo on this page, I would very much appreciate it.

New camera!

Well… there’s a lot that I’d love to write about right now, but I’ve had a very busy day and want to go to sleep. So I’ll make this quick.

I got a Canon G9 for my way belated birthday (which is Feb 12 [I got it on May 25]). I love it love it love it! If you have the resources and the need for a camera, I highly recommend investing in it. It is incredible.

A quick sampling of the pictures that I have taken over the past two days. Please note that these are all unedited and were shot without any special effects – although the color enhancement option will be explored tomorrow!

I intern in the Pfizer laboratories at the New York Botanical Garden. After doing a few PCRs (more on this later, maybe), I decided to pretend that I was actually relaxing on the holiday and walked around the garden a bit. I have no idea what the species names are for most of these plants as they are exotcs and I didn’t bother to try and identify them.

purple flowers

All I can tell you is that this is an orchid. Good luck finding nectar in there, buddy!

orchid

Some of my gorgeous animal friends and I were playing outside yesterday:

patrickhello ollie

I have yet to figure out how to size the pictures in here without distorting the image. Oh well.. I am learning.

Oh yeah, and here’s me!

dancing queen

As a Biology student, I am interested in controlling the spread of invasive exotics. These are plants that are not native to an area in which they are growing. As they grow, they can (and usually do) displace native species which would occupy a similar habitat and have to compete with these exotics for crucial resources (such as water, sunlight, minerals).

I used to feel that it was unimportant to control these exotic species. One plant replacing another plant, whatever. Well… it’s more important than one would think.

Certain species, such as Japanese honeysuckle, grow so vigorously that they out-compete not just one, but many different plant species. This limits plant biodiversity in the area. Why does this matter? Think about it. What is one function of plant life? Feeding wildlife. Many of these exotics do not provide food for wildlife, or if they do, they provide food for one type of animal. Take for example, an area in which several different species of shrubs and vines were growing. Birds could feed on their seeds. Bees could feed on nectar in their flowers. Small mammals could seek shelter in the many nooks and crannies, or even eat the fruits or seeds of these plants. Now imagine that these several different species of plants were replaced by just one plant. There are no more options. Maybe this plant doesn’t produce fruit, maybe it doesn’t have nectar… You get the picture. By limiting floral biodiversity, these invasives are also limiting faunal biodiversity.

I spent a good portion of today ridding our farm of some invasive plants. One, in particular, had gained a very strong foothold. Behold! The infamous Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata). This plant, which is native to Northern Europe, has spread widely across the United States and other countries. It is quick growing and capable of growing in a variety of environments. Because of this, it has managed to outcompete many native species. 

I can’t get the photo to add. If you are unfamiliar with this species, a lovely image can be found here: http://www.ipaw.org/invaders/garlic_mustard/gm_flower_lg.jpg

If you are looking for something simple to do to help the environment, I recommend aiding in the control of invasive populations. It’s free and easy. Especially if you are targetting my dear friend, Mr. Garlic Mustard. It comes out of the ground relatively easily if you grab it by the base. If you see it pop up in your backyard, I recommend removing it immediately. You can add it to your compost pile if you want, or just throw it out. Its seeds remain viable for up to five years, so rememeber to keep an eye out for it every season.

By removing this plant from an area, you are helping to prevent it from gaining a strong foothold and therefore protecting many native species.

I am finally home! Have been for a whole week. It’s wonderful. Although our garden hasn’t even been started yet (I hope it’s not too late). I’m going to set it up tomorrow as well as a compost pile. I’m going to have to do some research on both so that I can get em done properly. When I was living in the rainforest, we used to put our compostable scraps in a Strongid bucket (which, if you don’t ride horses, is just a large bucket with a sealable top) and then transport them daily to larger compost pile. I think I’m going to do that.

Hello world!

I feel the automatic post title is pretty appropriate. Hello world!

For the next year, I am going to live karmically. Is that a term? I don’t think so. A quick google search pulls up several yoga sites asking for money. So I guess that means, it is a term, but it has yet to be defined. Which I guess means that I get to define it for myself. Hooray!

I think I might have to define this as I go along. But basically, I’m going to eat conciously (vegan, with an emphasis on raw foods), exercise regularly (mostly yoga, swimming, running, bike riding, horseback riding, hiking, etc.), do all my work without procrastination, meditate, sleep 6-8 hours, abstain from lying and cursing, do what I can to help others, work to conserve land, recycle, garden, volunteer at an animal shelter, be good to my friends, and hopefully, take the time to relax. That seems like a lot, but I feel like I can adjust it all so that I can lead a healthy and karma-approved life. Obviously, I can’t do all of these things all the time. But I’m going to try and do as much of them as possible

I will update this as often as possible so that you all (assuming there are people reading this, of course) can see how it’s going and hopefully be inspired to live a little more spiritually as well.

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