Friday, February 25, 2011

mocha brownie torte

this recipe was recommended to me by a fantastic cook, and i made it as a surprise for valentine's day. it was perfect, b/c the dinner i made was a bit more complex and this recipe is very very simple.  it didn't end up actually being a surprise, since conroy's a sneak who peeked in the fridge. so, i should warn you if you want to surprise someone with this, it takes up a far bit of space in the refrigerator.
it's the whipped cream flavor that really makes this "cake". although, next time i try it i'm going to add some crunchy peanut butter to the brownies, instead of walnuts. (but, i gotta say , the walnuts worked out well). 
w/o the frosting on top.

1 package of fudge brownie mix
1/4 cup of water
2 eggs
1/2 c chopped nuts
1 1/2 c chilled whipping cream
1/3 c brown sugar
1 tbs instant cofee
shaved chocolate

heat oven to 350.  grease and flour two round 9X1 1/2 inch layer pans.
mix brownie mix with eggs and water, stir in nuts. 
spread in the pans and bake for 20 min. (this makes the brownie's more cake-like. if you want more standard brownies, add 1/4 c oil to the mix).   take out, let cool for about 5 min, and then cool the cakes (on wire racks, or what have you) until room temperature or cooler.
in a *chilled* bowl, beat the cream until it begins to thicken. gradually add the sugar and coffee until it's stiff.  
fill the layers with ~1 c  of the whipping cream mix.  add the remaining to the top of the torte (i didn't do this part until i served it up). sprinkle with chocolate shavings and chill for at least an hour. 
a variation of this recipe that i am definitely going to try is adding maple to the whipped cream mixture. what can i say, i'm a mainer and i'm a sucker for some family-made maple syrup.

Monday, February 14, 2011


big props to das linoleum for being so funky and rad to actualize this fantastic idea.  all i did was copy and paste, so drop das  a line if you love the thought, and check out the etsy page. you'll only find inspiration, folks. gift giving - this should become and annual event in blog-land, right?



reciprocity has been a struggle for us these days, with the farm, kid, illnesses, being preggers, and other totally wimpy excuses.  we all need a gentle nudge to get our act together every now and then, and remind ourselves that being decent community-minded folk takes little effort.  consider yourself served.

let me sum up the below: you read it, if you want to participate you comment on my blog, and i send you a handmade gift.  i'm guessing my PIF handmade item will be a silk screen t-shirt, but it could also be some knitting.  keepin' ya on your toes. do comment y'all! participation is key! and enjoy. 

The Gift.

Dear [whoever reads this],

they usually do these things and call it the 'snowball effect' but really it's not so much about passing on than about giving back (and passing on and giving back and so on). Reciprocity: it's that principle based on networking – on connecting and linking up, on creating relationships between nodes and vertexes, and finally growing them into networks and matrices. 

Some would probably prefer the more elegant term: rhizomes. More elegant, yes!, but also burdened with fewer connotations than 'the network' and 'the matrix,' both of which can bring about all kinds of unwanted associations, including Hollywoodesque performances, eerie worlds of exposed social life, or mind-boggling algebraic formulas. Rhizomes are botanical, not mechanical, and they are so full of life as only the mildly entangled and wildly exploratory, sprouting and germinating roots of plants can be, pulsing and palpating as they are in the dark soil of this egg-shaped terrestrial planet. 

Of course, there is also the philosophical kind of rhizome. Famous thinkers with minds that have more folds than those of most other earthlings have made rhizomes into a philosophy and then turned that philosophy into a model for society. They say that a rhizome is really … nothing we have thought of before, because it has no beginning or end. And most of us are probably tempted to say that something without beginning or end is not really much at all, is maybe nothing or, if anything at all, it is nothingness. But these philosophers have found a way out of it: if something misses its beginning and its end, all that’s left is the in-between, right? So there you go: the philosophical rhizome is an interbeing, an intermezzo. So say the people with many-folded brains.

I tend to stick to my roots though and so I prefer the biological rhizome, because that interbeing is always a being, it always is. Full of life, nodes, vertices, lines, links, connections, relations. 

Coming back full circle then: with gifting, the nodes and vertexes are we, and the links are established by the gifts that travel along the lines connecting us. Metaphorically speaking, but in some sense this is also quite real. There are telephone lines, there are tubes through which our packages fall into collecting bins at the post office, and so on. Now here is the deal for participating in that gifting- and passing-on-rhizome: it’s called a PIF = Pay It Forward. This means: if you would like to receive something handmade from me (well, okay, it’s going to be a small lino print), simply leave me a comment. And Pay It Forward means that if you get something from me, you do the same thing on your blog for three others. It's the principle that counts: r-e-c-i-p-r-o-c-i-t-y.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

nutritional yeast polemics (and recipe)

  i discovered nutritional yeast for the first time about 10 years ago, as a budding vegan.  my initial experience with it was unimpressive, mainly b/c it was intended as a complete cheese substitute, in a sauce.  expecting cheese, i was disappointed.
  however, i have since transformed my ways and become crazy for nutritional yeast. but it's important to know that nutritional yeast, while comparable, is not a cheese-replacement.  it has it's own wonderful irreplaceable flavor, that stands alone. 
  nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast, unlike the yeast used for beer fermentation. it's grown in a medium of beet molasses and sugar cane. we prefer the unfortified version, because it's got lots of iron and B vitamins (both of which we don't get too much of). Nutritional yeast has magnesium, manganese, copper and protein. it's an superb source of thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, folate, zinc, dietary fiber, and all those vitamin B's.  
  to be a little more specific:

"Two tablespoons of fortified nutritional yeast flakes, the serving size on the nutrition facts label, contain 60 calories, 5g carbs, 4g fiber and 9g protein plus beta-1,3 glucan, a type of fiber that may aid the immune system and help to lower cholesterol. Additionally, nutritional yeast is a good source of selenium and potassium. Fortified nutritional yeast has significantly less iron than the unfortified kind, five percent versus 20 percent respectively. The B-vitamin content in the fortified form ranges from 150 percent for B12 to 720 percent for riboflavin."  praise for nutritional yeast
    and check out this

 i eat meat/fish rarely, so there is basically no meal that i don't sprinkle nutritional yeast on (see below for an exception) for health and savory purposes.  one of my favorites to dash some nutritional yeast onto is a freshly made veg-heavy stir fry.  but i'm branching out, trying new recipes.  so here's a 'mac n' cheese' i created that was very popular in our house. 

the below recipe is vegan, but easily un-veganised by replacing whole for soy milk, and butter for margarine. 
  to make it you need:
1 pound of your favorite pasta, cooked. 
1 c nutritional yeast
5/8 c margarine
1/2 c (spelt) flour (add more for a thicker sauce)
the sauce
2 3/4 c soy or hemp milk
1 tbs garlic powder or 2 cloves chopped
1 tbs salt
2 tsp tumeric
2-3 tbs mustard
pepper to taste

melt margarine in saucepan  and add chopped garlic, add flour stirring rapidly.  continue stirring while adding the soy milk, (garlic powder) and salt.  let it cook to a rolling boil and become thick, while stirring frequently.  add the nutritional yeast and mustard, and remove it from the heat, stirring.  pour it over your pasta and mix. add some chives or hot sauce and enjoy!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

winter wonderland photo shoot

 we've been bombarded with nor' easters this winter - two in the last week, and another one to come on saturday!   this last storm brought snow, sleet and freezing fog that has served to collapse the roofs of ~50 boston businesses and many more homes, and derail several commuter trains.
we got 17 inches total from tuesday mornin' to wednesday night. and while 17 inches isn't that much, combined with the already 3 1/2 feet we have on the ground, that leaves 4+ feet of snow just hangin' out in our backyard.  we have 50 inches of depth, including the melted/ing snow.  this snow is for sledding and tunnel-making only, folks.
we have been busy shoveling. but we got a few requests so thought i might share some photos.
our little house
the fence line marks our garden


the walk to our car
our backyard