Weekend Stuff + Today Stuff

Hi, people!  How was your weekend?  Generally speaking, it was a great one around here….though HOT!  What gives?  Um, weather…you DO know it IS October, right?  Apparently we are supposed to get rain here in the next few days, so going from one strange extreme to the next….for Southern California!

Saturday we kinda holed up because it was so hot (damn near 90 degrees!) and WINDY!  Crazy gusts of wind reached 30 mph literally blew the pebbles off our roof!  So, we watched a movie, ran a few errands at air conditioned stores only.  🙂  Hi, Target.  You were a nice, cool, spot and just wandered around for about an hour…. lol  Got my brother a birthday card and that was about it!  I made mac n’ cheese + buffalo “tenders” + ranch salad stack for dinner.  Health?  Eh, not so much.  But my point of view was eff it–it’s hot and this is what I want to eat!  We watched a kinda interesting documentary about alien conspiracies in South Africa, had a nap, then, after it had cooled off (our house was still 85+ degrees inside!) made regular and vegan custard (for cupcake fillings) and replenished my homemade granola stash.  A fairly productive day, given the yucky weather.

Yesterday (Sunday) the weather was MUCH nicer–still pretty darn hot, but only mild wind.  Plus, it was my brother’s birthday!  I made cupcakes…

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These are the vegan ones.  🙂  I filled them with vegan custard and topped with ganache!  Vegan Boston Cream cupcakes ahoy!  I also made non-vegan ones, but since I didn’t eat them, they aren’t important. 😉

While those were cooling we headed to the beach!

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I don’t know what’s been going on lately, but a far few of these guys have been washing up on the beach here.  This one is still ALIVE.  I never knew that this is what an alive sand dollar looked like!  You can see he’s wounded, or something of that nature, (lost part of his fuzzy purple coat!), but I waded in a little ways and hucked him out to sea in the hopes he’d get another chance.

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That’s a happy dog enjoying himself! 🙂

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The ocean is photogenic.  😉

Okay, so after this fun beach walk, we came home, I finished up the cupcakes, (you know, for brother’s birthday), and made our dinner.

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Oh yeah, HOT DOGS! lol Quick and easy.  The dinner was not going to be vegan friendly, at all.  My mom, as per my brother’s request, made pasties, which are these amazing meat + potato filled pies that you slather with gravy and/or ketch-up.  I may have to see if I can make a vegan version of this sometime.

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Dinner was on my dad’s deck, and the view doesn’t suck!  🙂

Hung out, celebrated my brother, ate, laughed, and probably had too good a time.  😉

Anyway, that’s what happened around here!  Hope you all had a great one, too!

In other news, my car is still running fine.  Don’t know what caused that failure to start issue on Friday.  Oh!  And today we are going to launch our new company website!  It has been a bit of a labor of love, but it is finally ready to go live.  Yay!  Go us!  I’ll post once it is officially ready to look at–we are still working out the last kinks.  🙂

**UPDATE!** Our new website is live!

www.knotdesignllc.com

Go check it out!

Today is going to be kinda busy, for a Monday.  I have to plan for our SEMA ’13 trip, which will include seeing about meetings with prospects, booking our hotel, and touching base with the people we already know.  SEMA is wild.  Cars, car guys, cars, crazy cars!  And it’s HUGE!  I need to figure out how long to go for as it always seems we never have enough time at these things.

Last but not least:  KICKSTARTER.  Guys. I’m running out of time on it.  I’ve sent the link to countless blogs and websites and I’m hitting a bit of a wall as what to do, next!  I’m asking again for suggestions/help.  It seems the issue is traffic getting to my campaign and I’m doing what I can to improve that, but I’m running out of time!  Egads, I think I only have 10 days left or so.

Okay, well, I can’t get bummed out now.  Off to my regular job and time to stop blogging.  🙂  Have a great Monday and thanks for reading!

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Merry Friday! Happy Weekend!

Well I’m not going to leave you all hangin’!  Cheers to you guys having a great Friday night and weekend to follow!  Sorry my well wishes are a bit late today.  But I had something very, very strange happen today.  

It all happened when I went to Santa Barbara to see my dad for lunch.  Post lunch, hugs, and good-bye, I naturally went to my car.  You know, to drive home!  Only, I got in my car, put the key in the ignition and….yes.  No dice.  Engine didn’t lurch or even try to turn over, but the lights and bing-bongy noises came on.  I thought, “Oh, dead battery.”  I then call Nick, just to be sure (’cause I’m a girl like that; gender stereotype, yep, and whatever), then hustled over to my dad’s work to see if he could give me a jump.  

For some reason, I knew I needed to hurry, though I didn’t know his plans.  I caught him right as he was pulling out of his parking lot.  I flagged him down, quickly explained the situation, and he came to my aid, because my dad is awesome like that.  🙂  

After pushing my car out of its spot (in the heat today!  Cool, crisp, fall…where are you…?) gave it a jump, and waaah-laaah, she started right up!  We both figured it was the battery because I had in the last 5 years or so replaced the alternator and starter but couldn’t, for the life of me, remember when I had gotten a new battery.  So, I hugged my dad again, said bye and thanks, then headed home.

En route home, I met Nick at Sears so they could check my battery.  

….the battery was fine.  Plenty of juice.

….the car started right up after being turned off.

…the car started right up again just a second ago, (after chillin’ in the garage for over an hour) which is what I did while waiting for my computer to boot up.

Um……now, I know what you are thinking.  Car troubles that go away on their own, come back on their own.  Well, we will see about this one.  I’ll post if something more happens on this front.

Anyway, I’m now wondering if I or my dad weren’t meant to be some where at a certain time, you know?  Okay, here is another story to illustrate the point I’m making with my story.

When I was about 10, my mom had a brand new (literally like 3 months old) Explorer.  She and I were going to run errands.  We get in her NEW car, and it WON’T start.  We try again a half hour later–it STARTS.  And it never had this problem again.

Get ready for it….we later find out that there was a robbery at gun point at the bank Mom was thinking about going to.  We honestly could have been there for it.  Yeah, I’m hearing twilight music in my head, too.  

So….perhaps it is another case of random acts of unseen things keeping us safe?  

Food for thought I suppose.  And thinking of food, I’m tempted to make a pumpkin and cashew creme lasagna tonight.

 

Oh, and fudge update.  Nick likes that fudge I made.  I asked him if it was too sweet.  He said, “Eh, not really.” Apparently he likes it, kinda.  I still think the rating of a 6 is what it deserves.  I’ll bet that after a week, I’ll still have about half of the quarter batch I made in my fridge.  

Anyway, peace out and have a wonderful, fun (and safe!) Friday!! 

Fudge & Fudge-y Musings + Some More Fudge Failure!

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Lookie what my mom brought me yesterday!  Apparently she is totally fine aiding and abetting my vegan fudge quest.  So yesterday, I was all set to start veganizing regular fudge when I discovered I am missing a critical piece of the fudge making kit:  a candy thermometer.  How is it that the vegan cook has a meat thermometer and not a candy one?  Haha! There’s a Thursday throwback for you! 😉

Anyway, I hunted around and found this recipe:

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/easiest-peanut-butter-fudge/

And I adapted the recipe.  I made this:

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This is almond butter vegan fudge.  I was pretty buoyed after making it because it was easy to make and tasted great (before it set….cue ominous music).  So I thought, “What would be better than a fudge off?!?  So I set about making this, only with peanut butter.  …..and with less sugar.  (Cue more ominous music.)

I used coconut oil instead of vegan butter; I used maple syrup instead of brown sugar; and I used less powdered sugar, too.  I can hear all of you who understand fudge collectively saying, “Oh no…bad idea! Tsk tsk.” And the lesson I learned is that even the best genius ideas can fall flat and yield suck-y fudge!  

It was a bit runnier than the almond butter fudge, but I though, “Eh, it just needs to set in the fridge.” ….heh.  I’m dumb.  

This morning I woke up very excited about my fudge off.  I pulled the fudge out of their containers and….

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Peanut butter fail.  Tasted pretty good…..but not fudge!  Too melty and caramel-ish.  …And, well, slickery!  The top was firm, but it was still liquidy on the bottom.  Yes, the consistency was just gross.  It began to lose its shape a few minutes out of the fridge.  I’m certainly not eating any more of that!  Plagh!  In the rubbish bin it went.

Now, for the almond butter fudge.

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I can’t help myself but make the photos look okay.  Do not let appearances fool you!  This fudge was WAY too sweet for me.  Overall, I’d give this recipe a just barely passing grade of 6 out of 10.  I’m glad I didn’t make that much of it and cut the recipe in quarters.  I’ll see what Nick thinks about this stuff later.  If any of you want the recipe I used for this, let me know….maybe some chopped almonds would make a difference in cutting the overall sweet factor here.  

I’m going to procure a candy thermometer today so that I can bust into that vegan rice mallow cream!  

Guys.  Have you checked out my kickstarter yet?  If not, please do.  I’m beginning to get worried about it.  I’d love some feedback, if you have any.  Did I not do a good enough job explaining my idea?  Is there something I overlooked?  I’d love to hear from you.  🙂

Oh!  And yes, I DID sample those vegan marshmallows.  Want to know what I think?

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These are very, very, good.  I’ll probably eat them all before I figure out what I can do with them.

Have a happy Thursday!  ….I cannot believe it is OCTOBER.  Where has this year gone?? 

Cinnamon Roll Recipe Review

Guys.  Cinnamon Rolls.  Good ones.  VEGAN ones.

7 ingredients.  Minimal effort.  SUPER good results, as in I couldn’t mess this one up, and the yield was 10, knock your socks off cinnamon rolls.

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Now, for the all important details.  I found this gem of a recipe on http://minimalistbaker.com/

Go HERE for it! ——-> http://minimalistbaker.com/the-worlds-easiest-cinnamon-rolls/ Or just scroll.  I’ll include it at the bottom of the post.

I’m a little bummed because not everything on this site is vegan.  The cinnamon rolls sure are, however.  I’m pleased to announce that this recipe is a solid 10 out of 10.  I almost can’t believe it because I can usually find something to add or improve upon.  I fought the urges to add pecans, raisins, and brown sugar because I just wanted to keep the integrity of the recipe intact and as it was intended.  Super simple.  Super easy. And I’m tell you all–fight the urge, too, because these simply don’t need it.  They are amazing just as they are.

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This recipe gets points for:

1.  Easy instructions + easy to come by ingredients.

2.  Great dough.  Seriously.  I’m trying to think up other ways to use it.

3.  General high level of deliciousness.

4.  House smelled great.

5.  Post copious taco feasting, everyone still wanted to eat these–and ate not just one, but TWO whole ones!  Just that alone should tell you all something.

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Making cinnamon rolls is a multi-step process.  But the steps were easy and so worth it.  Here are the little guys, just chillin’ on the “warming” zone on my stove.

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Lookie how fluffy that dough is!  It was tender, soft, tasty…just perfect.

Nary a cinnamon roll was left.  All plates were licked clean–literally.  Including the baking dish!  I used the vegan cream cheese frosting by following the link provided.

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I will be making these again, very, very soon! Possibly today.  I’m bummed none were left for day after leftovers!

I’ll post an original, Glitterpony created recipe soon.  I just had to share because I made these last night to take to taco Tuesday/game night and they were such a hit.  Do you guys have any great cinnamon roll recipes I should take a look at?  Let me know!  Hope you all have a great Wednesday and I encourage you to wander over to the Minimalist Baker and try this recipe.

Recipe courtesy of Minimalist Baker @ http://www.minimalistbaker.com

Ingredients
  • 1 packet instant yeast
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 cup Earth balance (vegan butter), divided
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp sugar, divided
Instructions
  1. In a large sauce pan (or in a bowl in the microwave at 30 sec increments), heat the almond milk and 3 Tbsp Earth Balance until warm and melted, never reaching boiling. Remove from heat and let cool to 110 degrees, or the temperature of bath water. It should be warm but not too hot or it will kill the yeast.
  2. Transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl and sprinkle on yeast. Let activate for 10 minutes, then add 1 Tbsp sugar and the salt and stir.
  3. Next add in flour 1/2 cup at a time, stirring as you go. The dough will be sticky. When it is too thick to stir, transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead for a minute or so until it forms a loose balll. Rinse your mixing bowl out, coat it with canola or grapeseed oil, and add your dough ball back in. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size (see photo).
  4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a thin rectangle. Brush with 3 Tbsp melted Earth Balance and top with 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 – 1Tbsp cinnamon.
  5. Starting at one end, tightly roll up the dough and situate seam side down. Then with a serrated knife or a string of floss, cut the dough into 1.5 – 2 inch sections and position in a well-buttered 8×8 square or comparable sized round pan (you should have about 10 rolls). Brush with remaining 2 Tbsp Earth Balance (melted) and cover with plastic wrap. Set on top of the oven to let rise again while you preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  6. Once the oven is hot, bake rolls for 25-30 minutes or until very slightly golden brown. Let cool for a few minutes and then serve immediately.
  7. Optional: Frost with dairy free cream cheese frosting or a simple mixture of powdered sugar and almond milk.

Szechuan Curry Recipe Review (yes!) + Recipe Failure (booo.)

Hi guys.  I’m experiencing recipe failure.  I’ll describe my issues and see if you wonderful vegan bloggers and bakers can help me out. 

Fudge.  I can’t stop thinking about it.  You know, the kind you used to get at Christmas?  With big hunks of walnuts?  Yes.  THAT kind.  I can safely blame my mom for my recent obsession.  She sent me a recipe (NOT VEGAN) this weekend for some awesome looking pumpkin fudge.  It has sweetened condensed milk AND marshmallow creme, and butter.  Okay, so I know what to replace for one of the three ingredients….the butter.  Ha.  But what to do about the other two?  I don’t want to use something synthetic and really do believe that I can create a healthy, vegan alternative for these ingredients if I just mess around for a while in my kitchen.

Um…..so far though…. I’ve failed.  😦  I still have hope, so no need to send a suicide watch. 😉

Here’s my thoughts.

1.  Use chia seeds, almond milk, and maple syrup to make the condensed milk.

2.  Use soaked and blended raw cashews to make the mallow creme.

3. This might need to be cooked.  Not sure.  I’d prefer something fab that you throw in a bowl, then boom!  Amaze-balls.

4.  Another different route I could see taking is using dates, walnuts, and maple syrup.  Then add the pumpkin.

Thoughts?  

Here’s what happened in my kitchen.  

1.  Chia seeds mixture isn’t enough on it’s own to thicken up and “set” the “fudge.”  I maxed out the chia, too, so no, it isn’t an issue of adding more.  Tried putting it in the fridge first–didn’t set.  Moved it to the freezer–and it froze.  Rock. Solid.  Er….fail! 

2.  The cashew idea tastes GREAT, and cooks fine, smells GREAT, but isn’t mallow-y and doesn’t want to “set” in the fridge, either.  Not sure if this is a full on fail….yet.  

If you have suggestions, let me know.  I’d love to hear ’em.  🙂

Okay, moving on.  Recipe review time!  Yay!  Oh, I so love sharing a success!  Okay, I made this:

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Recipe Here:  http://myinspiration.tv/szechuan-vegetable-curry-with-special-brown-rice/

From a blog called http://myinspiration.tv/

This recipe gets points for:

1.  Easy, quick, healthy.

2.  Tastes great.

3.  Flexible based on your own tastes.

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I added broccoli and tofu, and cut out much of the chili’s since the fiancee can’t handle the heat.  I also didn’t have bamboo shoots which was a bummer because I could see how they’d be super good in this dish.  Also, water chestnuts would be a great addition.

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I also didn’t have portobello mushrooms and used what I had on hand–crimini.  Here the veggies get stir fried up!

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Time for sauce!  It was a simple mix of tomato sauce, soy sauce, and rice vinegar.  The seasonings: ginger, basil, coriander, and paprika.  I loved the basmati rice with peas and cashews!  I also added corn.  Why?  Because it seemed like a good idea.  And it was.  Corn in rice is awesome.

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Additional changes include using a TBS sesame oil to saute up the veggies, not water, like the recipe calls for.

Overall I’d give this recipe a solid 9.  

Okay, now I’m off to focus on Knot Design for a while.  I’ll keep my fingers crossed that we can come up with something for the fudge. 🙂

 

Very Inspiring Blogger Award

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I’m sending a very big thank you to my sweet friend and fellow Jessica, at  http://turquoisecompass.wordpress.com/ for sharing this award with me.  I’m honored and touched, especially since I love your blog and really enjoy following you on your adventures and continuing mission to find fun and all things turquoise!  I think you are truly an inspiration and I’m so grateful I can follow your blog.  It is honestly a highlight of my day!

The rules of accepting the Very Inspiring Blogger Award are:

1. Display the Award Certificate on your website.
2. Announce your win with a post and link to whoever presented you with the award.
3. Present 15 awards to deserving bloggers.
4. Drop them a comment to let them know you have linked them in the post.
5. Post 7 interesting things about yourself.

Seven interesting things about me:

1.  My real last name is Duncan.

2.  My favorite season is autumn.

3.  This is a cool quote I just found: “The best ideas come as jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible.” – David Ogilvy 

4.  I once ate so much cheese as a little kid, I was constipated.  ….Should have known then that dairy wasn’t my friend!

5.  I believe in magic.  Not the kind you go and see at a show in Vegas.  The real kind–where people create their lives and things magically fit into place–where something can come to you with greater ease than ever imagined–where you might be in trouble and help comes, as if by…you guessed it, magic!

Now for even more fun!  I’d like to share this award with some of the best bloggers I know!  In no particular order…

1.   http://bunnykitchen.com/ Poppy–you are amazing!  Your blog makes me want to lick my computer screen, and I’m sure that isn’t a good idea b/c I can’t remember when I cleaned it last.

2.  http://ohshecooks.com/ Oh.she.cooks!  You rock my socks.  I saw the vegan hot pepper chocolate bar yesterday.  …Thought of you.  🙂  Didn’t buy it because I’m dang cheap.  It was $8!  But, you were in my thoughts nonetheless!

3.  http://wildjuggling.wordpress.com/ Mr. Chris over here does something pretty cool–juggles and runs.  He gives nice insightful thoughts on food, healing your body, being healthy, and of course his amazing running + juggling!

4.  http://honkifyourevegan.com/ Yes.  I do honk for this blog!  I go out into my garage and honk my wimpy acura horn right now for Celeste.  She’s nice, kind, and posts great stuff.  What’s not to love! 🙂

5.  http://charlottehoatherblog.com/ Here is another blog I love–Charlotte–love your voice.  Glad I can read about your successes and adventures!

6.  http://anunrefinedvegan.com/ less sugar recipes + things end up in a waffle iron.  Often.  Count me in!

7.  http://buckwheathealth.wordpress.com/

8.  http://silkandspiceblog.wordpress.com/

9.  http://veganyackattack.com/

10.  http://veganmotherhubbard.net/

11.  www.ohsheglows.com

12.  http://minimalistbaker.com/

13.  http://neatstuff.info/

14.  http://www.veggieful.com/

15.  Last but certainly not least, I’d like to include my sweeties blog: http://ironblockstudio.com/blog/

To celebrate this award, I’m working on some pumpkin fudge recipes!  I’ll keep my fingers cross that one of the three versions turn out so I can share it with you all!  Happy blogging and thank you again to Turquoise Compass!! 🙂

Weekend Round-Up

I hope you guys really lived it up this weekend!  I hope you had fun, lots of naps, and lots of good (vegan!) food with friends.  🙂  I’m going to keep this post short and sweet!  …And yes, we had a very nice, very relaxing weekend around here!

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Saturdays do not suck.  After an epic nap, we did a little margarita fun times with guacamole, sat out on our deck and enjoyed the beautiful, warm, sunny evening.  

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Saturday I also did a little experimental baking.  

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I wanted to see if could make those amazing walnut date cookies (two posts ago, I think) using pecans, maple syrup, and using less oil.  

….the recipe still needs the kinks worked out.  😉  Also, it didn’t help that I over baked them!

Sunday was fab–relaxing morning and I made more banana yummies…

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…then went wine tasting at the Old Creek Winery with some really wonderful people that I’m lucky enough to have as friends.  Frank & Kathryn, you know you are total dolls!  It’s true! 🙂 

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Nothing like a little afternoon hanging out and laughing to cure what ails ya!

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My boys.  🙂  What sweeties!

Then, after wine we were off to the Farmer and Cook for some amazing vegan dinner times.  

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Vegan tamale anyone?  We ate outside, had probably too much fun, and are thinking about starting a weekly dinner party get-together.  

After dinner wrapped we came home and crashed out like a boss.  

What did you guys do this weekend?