Saturday, September 18, 2010

Banana Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

At my job, we have a huge assortment of delicious-smelling awful-for-you unvegan pastries that have been assailing my senses for the last three weeks.

This week though, the coup de grĂ¢ce was delivered when I opened a package marked "banana chocolate chip coffee cake" and was literally knocked back on my feet. It smelled like heaven!

I'm at a point in my veganism where non-vegan foods are non-foods for me. This pastry though, it drove me nuts. So I searched high and low to find a veganized version of this recipe... which just didn't seem to exist.

So I made one!

The chocolate chips I used in this recipe I found at my co-op last night. I was content to use carob chips (which don't melt very well but I love the flavor), except that I found vegan grain-sweetened chips last night that tasted so much like milk chocolate I nearly offed the entire pound and cried.

I also used this as the breaking-in recipe for my thrited springform pan. I'd been wanting to buy one, but couldn't justify the cost. I think $2.50 for a USA-made pan was just fine, especially since the donation goes to a women's crisis center.

Banana Chocolate Chip you-won't-ever-make-another-kind-of-Coffee Cake

For the streusel
1/2 cup cane sugar
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1 tbsp cinnamon

For the cake
1.5 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt * (I omitted this, but will include it next time)
2-3 ripe bananas
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup sugar
3 tbsp soy or coconut yogurt (or 3 tbsp soy milk + 1 tsp apple cider vinegar if you're desperate)
1/3 cup room temperature unhydrogenated margarine (Earth Balance did the trick)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 8-inch diameter baking pan.

In a small bowl, mix the streusel ingredients together. Set aside.

In a larger bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

In yet another bowl, mash up your bananas. Whisk in the oil, sugar, yogurt and margarine. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture.

Divide the batter in half. Spread one half on the bottom of the pan (it doesn't have to be perfect).

Layer with half the streusel. Spread on another layer of the batter (it won't be perfect this time, guaranteed.)


Spread the final layer of streusel on top.

Pop it in the oven for 35-45 minutes, or until a butter knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Remove from oven, allowing it to cool for a few minutes so your knife doesn't get melted chocolate all over it. But if you're okay with that, then have at it.

Craving satisfied.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Pursuit of Badass

In my pursuit of badassery, my first major purchase as an official Floridian was this beauty here


I've never been mountain biking before. When my boyfriend told me about it, I silently called him crazy. But, this is the same guy I told that I would never stop eating meat, never sleep in the woods, and certainly never move out of New York City.

So, I gave it a chance.

We went to Higher Ground, a locally-owned bike shop that touts itself as being the highest bike shop in Florida (though considering that the elevation is still under 400 feet above sea level, I stifle a chuckle). The associate who helped me spent a lot of time asking questions, taking measurements, and pulling down various models for me to try out. It turns out that proportionally I'm more male than female, so female-targeted bikes were taken off the list. (Thank goodness; they were more pricey.) What I liked about this guy was that price was not the concern. He didn't push me to the more expensive options, knowing it was the first time I had even ridden a bicycle since I was 12 or 13 years old. Certainly I had never been mountain biking.

My first trip out was incredible. I whined and moaned a lot about how hard it was; my boyfriend reminded me I needed to shift out of third gear when I was going up steep inclines. Overall though, I had a lot of fun.

And came out of the woods looking like this.


Actually, the second ride was a lot worse since the blood literally dripped down my legs, but since there were no major arteries hit, no infections to speak of, I definitely kept up with it. After three months, I'm still no pro with picking the bike over large logs, but I'm getting better at the trails I'm familiar with.

Last week, I decided to start taking my bike to work with me. The four mile ride to and from work up and down those steep Tallahassee hills was a great workout. For sure, I'd show up to work a little sweaty, but I was prepared with Tom's of Maine deodorant (a placebo, at best) and a fresh change of clothes. Except Friday afternoon, as I was pulling into the driveway after a refreshing post-work ride home, my back tire went flat. No idea why. Not that a mountain bike is really suited for roads, but come on! Thankfully it waited until I had less than a three-minute walk home to explode, but this week, I'm taking the car in with the boyfriend until I can have it replaced.

So much for my eco-consciousness. At least I saved a week's worth of gas!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Home brewing!

My favorite thing recently (besides a hundred of my other favorite things) has been thrifting and garage sale hopping. I really should do a post just on the swag I've picked up on the cheap, or free, someday. Several Saturday mornings ago, my partner and I happened to stop by a moving sale that turned out to be pretty fruitful. Actually it was a pretty awkward exchange to begin with, as I always feel garage sales are. Essentially you're picking through someone's life and offering them a quarter for a piece of it, something I'm still getting comfortable doing. The couple we shopped from was young and friendly, and unloading their belongings before a cross-country move. We wound up purchasing a floor lamp, new USA-made mason jars and a wooden print painting of the Buddha.

After our purchases we got to chatting, and lo and behold, the girl of the couple ran the local raw-food meet-up group. My partner told them I was vegan, and the girl offered me some kombucha she had brewed. Which I had never had, commercial, home-brewed or otherwise... but I said yes anyway to be polite.

And walked out with a scoby!
Lots of scobys hanging out in this one!

It was recommended that I brew it for an additional two weeks, which I did (not taking into account that her apartment was much colder than mine). I wound up with 2 gallons of vinegar and more scobys than I could keep up with. I threw out all but one, which I brewed using the directions she gave me when I said, "So what do I do with this again?" I started a new batch, waited two weeks, and yesterday I bottled it up ...

We like wine in this house, mmkay?

And I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the corks don't fly off as the kombucha sits for 3-5 days its post-bottling fermentation cycle. I flavored each one of these bottles a little differently, but being the genius I am, forgot to label them! So it will be a surprise.

I've already started brewing a smaller batch, testing out my organic assam tea. My most recent bottled kombucha is still a bit vinegary, just past the point of being sweet but not entirely unpleasant, so this is going to be a smaller batch with a shorter brew time.

One day later and I already have a daughter scoby
forming on top!

The jar sitting on my counter is just another reminder of the steps I'm taking in my transition from the Standard American Diet to a living foods-centered lifestyle.

Even though I've cut out most of the SAD components of what I eat, there are things that I just can't give up. Things that at this very moment are causing a fair bit of mumbling and grumbling in my stomach.