Friday Flash Fiction Challenge: Opening Line

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So, in an attempt to keep my brain from turning to baby-talk mush… I present you with my first Flash Fiction Challenge entry.  I’m committing to this weekly writing challenge and I need people to keep me on task.  Because, really.  It’s me.  And you all know how I follow through.  (I don’t.)

This week’s challenge is an opening line contest.  View the challenge at TerribleMinds.

I’m channeling Mal a little bit here, and that’s a-okay.  Because who doesn’t like a little naked Mal in the morning?  😉

You're welcome. Image from Fireflywiki.net

“Well, shit,” Tracey grumbled as he watched the tail lights disappear into the desert night, leaving him shivering naked in the sand; “That asshole stole my lucky lighter.”

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A Revival!

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Reviving this blog, yet again!  This time, with a makeover.  This will become my sewing/cooking/writing/generally being blog of awesome.  Mostly because a friend of mine convinced me to start doing a weekly writing challenge with him and I need somewhere to collect my “stuff”.

Words.  I have them.

Apparently it’s too late and I’m too tired to be bothered with words right now.  So, until later.

And really, I’m actually, for true, going to post weekly (or more.)

I promise.

Rustic Eggplant, Tomato and Chickpea Tart

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Mmm, pie crust.  Tasty, tasty pie crust.  I loves me some pie crust!  I’ll eat that stuff raw, right off of the counter after I’ve rolled it out.  I’ve been known to snag the extra bits of crust that people usually throw away just to eat them raw.  There’s something awesome about the cold water/flour/butter mixture.  And don’t even get me started on when you get a little grain of salt that tingles on your tongue before you crunch it away.

Okay, I’m weird.  But honestly, I’m not sure how I’ve survived this long without a buttery, flaky pie crust.  Especially now that fall has started to show its glorious face.  Sure, I could make a pie crust with vegan butter.  It’s just not really the same.

I decided I had had enough of the “no pie crust” thing and I decided I was going to make one.  The problem was that I didn’t actually have any vegan butter left.  Instead of letting the sadness get me down, I improvised.

Oil, while an acceptable substitute for a pie crust, didn’t really give the same consistency I usually use for my pies.  I’m sure it would have been fine, but I’m picky.  So, I decided to use my experimental crust for my dinner instead.

This tart could be a main meal, it is hearty and protein packed.  It could also be turned into an appetizer by pressing the crust into a muffin tin and making mini pies for people to snag and eat.  Really, it’s one of those recipes that you can do anything with.  And you should.  Go wild.  I did, and see how it worked for me?

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And because I was so excited about the glorious smell of the crust, I forgot to take a picture.  Enjoy one of Brian instead!

Herbed Oil Tart Crust
Makes one crust.  Double recipe if you would like a top crust.

Preheat oven to 375*.

  • 1 1/2 Cups Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • Herbs- I used Rosemary, Marjoram, and Basil because it’s what I grabbed.  Use what you like!
  • 1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 4-5 Tablespoons Cold Water

Combine the flour, salt and herbs in a bowl.  Add the oil and about 4 Tablespoons of water.  Stir it together with a fork, it will be crumbly.  Incorporate all of the liquid, adding a little more water if needed.  You want it to be moist, if it is too dry it crumbles when you try to work with it.

Once the dough is fairly mixed, feel free to mush it around with your hands!  It’s fun to get messy.  Press the dough flat, by hand if you like. I used a rolling pin to roll it just less than 1/4 inch thick.  Place your filling in the center and fold the edges part way over the filling, leaving the top open.  It’s rustic!

Bake for 30-35 minutes.  Remove and cut into quarters.  Dig in.

 

Eggplant, Tomato and Chickpea Filling

  • 1 Eggplant
  • 1 Red Onion
  • 2 Tomatoes
  • 1 Can Chickpeas
  • Herbs- I used Marjoram, Parsley, Cumin, and whatever else I had in my cabinet that smelled good
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste
  • Garlic
  • Olive Oil

Cut the eggplant into rounds, then quarters.  Cut the tomatoes in half, then slice them into wedges.

Heat the oil, garlic, and spices on medium and add the eggplant and onion.  Let that cook for a while, stirring occasionally.  Be careful with your gorgeous eggplant, don’t mush it.  Once the eggplant is mostly cooked through, add the tomatoes and chickpeas.  Continue cooking until it is just warmed through.

At this point you can do any number of things.  Bake it as a tart using the recipe listed above*, turn it into a soup by adding vegetable broth and simmering, stuff a pita or eat it as it is.  Mmmm.

 

Vegetable Gravy*

  • 2 Tablespoons Butter Substitute
  • 2 Tablespoons Flour
  • 1 Cup Hot Water
  • 1 Teaspoon Better than Bouillon (I used vegetable, but you can use the vegetarian chicken or beef one if you’d prefer)
  • Pepper

Make a roux by melting the butter substitute over medium heat.  Add the flour and stir for about a minute making sure the butter and flour combine and you do not burn the flour.

Add the hot water and bouillon and stir or whisk.  Once it thickens to the consistency you like, remove from heat.  Crack some fresh pepper over the top and serve over the Eggplant, Tomato and Chickpea Tart.

*If you’d prefer your tart without gravy, you may want to add some moisture to the eggplant and tomatoes while you are cooking them.  I’d suggest adding about 1/2 cup of vegetable broth and letting that cook down a bit before adding to your tart crust.  It’s a little dry without the gravy.

Bread, Bread, Bread

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The one thing I decided I had to do when I became a stay-at-home-mom was to learn to bake bread.  The thought of warm, crusty bread coming out of my own oven, filling my house with the tangy smell of crispy crust and squishy insides, just makes me feel like I’m wrapped up in a blanket of homey-ness.  (It’s a word, I swear.)

I decided to give it a try on my own, no recipe, no nothin’.

It didn’t go so well.  It wasn’t a total disaster, but it wasn’t anything to brag about.  My husband was great about it: “Oh, this would make a good breadsticks recipe.  It would be much better as pizza dough.  It’s good but we could try it for rolls instead of bread…”  He’s a good guy, that’s for sure.

Well, I decided bread wasn’t really the best thing to just “do”, so I started to research.  Tutorials, and yeast, and kneading- oh my!

Then I stumbled upon a super-easy bread recipe at Mel’s Kitchen Cafe and I decided to try it.

I tucked Brian in for a nap and dug in!  The bread was set to rise before Brian even woke up from his short rest.  It doesn’t get much easier than that.  The best part is, I can refrigerate the dough after the rise (up to two weeks) and just throw it in the oven when I want some delicious, crusty bread to make me happy.

With this recipe under my belt, I’m ready to tackle something more difficult- like rolling up my sleeves and kneading the heck out of some dough.  Not that my infant-lifting muscles really need more of a workout!

Rustic Crusty Bread
from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons instant yeast
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 6 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting dough (I used 6 cups- I went by look and feel on this one)

In a large bowl mix yeast and salt into 3 cups lukewarm water (about 100 degrees). Stir in flour, mixing until there are no dry patches. Dough will be quite loose. Cover lightly with a kitchen towel but don’t seal the bowl airtight. Let the dough rise at room temperature 2 hours (or up to 5 hours).
Bake at this point or refrigerate, covered in an airtight container, for as long as two weeks. When ready to bake, cut off a grapefruit-size piece with serrated knife (I have only ever made two loaves out of the batch of dough so I just divide the dough in half to form my first loaf). Turn the dough in your hands to lightly stretch the surface, creating a rounded top and a lumpy bottom. Put the dough on a piece of parchment paper set on a pizza peel or a rimmed baking sheet turned upside down. Let the dough rest for 40 minutes for room temperature dough; if you have used the dough out of the refrigerator, let it rest for 1 1/2 hours. Repeat with remaining dough or refrigerate it.
Place a broiler pan on the bottom rack of the oven. Place a baking stone on the middle rack and preheat oven to 450 degrees. Heat the stone at that temperature for 20 minutes before baking.
After the dough has rested and is ready to bake, dust the dough lightly with flour, slash the top with serrated or very sharp knife three times. Slide the dough (with the parchment paper) onto the baking stone. Pour one cup of hot water into the broiler pan and shut the oven quickly to trap the steam. Bake the bread until well browned, about 24-28 minutes. Cool completely.
If you don’t have a baking stone, try turning a rimmed baking sheet upside down and heating it in the 450 degree oven for 10 minutes prior to baking. When ready to bake, slide the parchment paper with the dough on it directly onto the overturned baking sheet and bake according to the recipe. You can also stretch the rounded dough into an oval and place in a greased loaf pan. Let it rise for 40 minutes if fresh (add an extra hour if the dough has been refrigerated). Bake in the loaf pan in the 450 degree oven, watching the time carefully – check after 20-22 minutes.

Oops! (And Vegan Shortcake.)

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Wow, holy blogging hiatus, Batman!  You know what I’ve learned in the last 4 1/2 months?  Babies. Babies are hardJust when I think I’ve got him figured out, BAM!!  Napping boycott, purple crying, 4 month wakeful period, wonder weeks.

Why didn’t people tell me about these things before I had a baby?  Before I had a baby it was all “Oh, you should have a baby.  They are such blessings.  Babies change your life.  Things will never be the same after you have a baby!”

If by “never be the same” they meant “you’ll never sleep again.” then they were right!

Brian teased me.  He slept like a trooper for a month and a half just after his 10 week mark.  Then BAM, 4 month wakeful period.  Everything was more interesting than sleeping, which led to an overtired baby, which caused some serious screaming matches. (Vicious cycle.)

My dreams of sewing clothes, baking magnificent pies, and keeping my house pristine while he napped away like a little angel quickly faded.  Actually, they didn’t so much fade as they exploded in my face.  Large, loud, depressing fireworks of realization, exactly where my quaint dreams had once rested.

Now that I’ve got a handle on all of that madness, I’ve been a busy little mommy-bee.  I’ve figured out how to get Brian to nap, even if he’s screaming at me so loud that I think my eardrums may burst.  White noise is my friend.  Very loud, very annoying white noise.  I bought The First Years Sounds of Silence White Noise Machine thinking “Eh, it will be good to have.  If nothing else, it has a built in night light and I can hook my iPod up to it.”  Oh my.  Life.Saver.  You have no idea.  I turn it on and stick it next to his head and he stops crying.  Then he stares at the blinking power light and his eyelids slowly. drift. shut.  Then, he lets out a huge sigh, throwing his head to the side.  I think “Oh, nonono.  Don’t wake up.  Take a nap.  Pleeease, take a nap.”

But it is just a final release of the tension he had been holding inside his little body.  Just one final, relaxing reflex before he snoozes.

Nap times are still a crapshoot.  Sometimes I get 20 minutes out of him.  Sometimes 45.  Then there are the glorious (but far too uncommon) hour and a half naps that appear just as I think I’m about to crash for good.  Those naps.  Yes.  Those glorious naps.  Those are the naps that allow me to take out my measuring cups and hope for the best as I try to figure out just how on Earth I can invent a delicious, vegan shortcake.

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Vegan Strawberry Shortcake

Makes 6 shortcakes

Preheat the oven to 375*
Grease a baking sheet

1 Cup Flour
1 Tablespoon Sugar
2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
1/2 Cup Butter Substitute (I used Earth Balance)
1/2 Tablespoon Ground Flax Seed + 1 1/2 Tablespoon Water
1/3 Cup Dairy Substitute (I used Soymilk)

Mix the dry ingredients in a medium bowl.

Using a pasty cutter, cut the butter substitute into the dry ingredients until it is the size of little peas.

Add the soymilk and flax mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until blended.  The dough should be lumpy.

Plop the dough onto your prepared baking sheet.  They look rustic and wonderful.  Don’t worry about shaping them.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until they just begin to turn a golden brown on top.

Top with a mixture of berries, any kind you like!  I like to sprinkle a little bit of sugar over my berries and let them sit in the fridge to get nice and juicy.

To make it really fancy, throw some Coconut Whipped Cream on top!  One of my baking idols, Pastry Affair, has a great recipe here.

Vegan Banana Bread Muffins

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I’ve decided I should stop buying bananas. No, really. Hear me out.

Oh, Vermont. The land of the crazy weather. A week ago we had 2 inches of snow across our yard. No joke, May 26th we woke up to snow blanketing the lawn and weighing the freshly-popped leaves down. The green was having a serious “WTF, Mother Nature?!” moment.

Fast forward to this past weekend. June 2nd. It was a sunny, but far too hot day. As the husband and I toted the kid to the grocery store we were complaining about the 90* weather.

I’m getting to the banana part, really. Just hold on.

As the husband and I hauled the kid and our cart full of groceries from the store- sudden downpour. And by downpour, I mean the sky suddenly opened up and let an entire lake fall onto us. A severe storm ripped through and the 60 MPH straight line winds tore our part of Vermont to pieces. Trees and power lines down everywhere. Our middle-of-nowhere back road was blocked from both directions by massive, old maple trees and downed wires. We ended up having to stay with the in-laws for two days.

I’m finally home! Don’t get me wrong, I love my in-laws. I just love to be home. Brian does not like to be away from home either, so we had a seriously fussy boy on our hands for a few days. The grins I got when we got home!! He knew he was back to his place.

Now, to the part about the bananas. Last week I bought some bananas when I was shopping. I think we ate one of them before we forgot they existed. This happens regularly. We love bananas. They just always go from too-green to too-mushy too-fast.

We dragged ourselves into the house today to find a few too-mushy bananas sitting on the counter. Lucky for the husband, I know what to do with too-mushy bananas.

Banana Bread Muffins.

Or, because I want to eat it too, Vegan Banana Bread Muffins.

Brian began a nap in his swing shortly after getting home. I ran around and did some clean-up and laundry, then let myself get lost in the kitchen for a while. This vegan yumminess was invented during his dozy, constantly making me think he’s waking up nap. Can I get a boo-yah?

 

“I Ain’t Got No Time to Waste” Vegan Banana Bread Muffins

Makes 12 large muffins or 12 smaller muffins and one mini loaf

Preheat the oven to 400*muffin

2 Cups flour
½ Cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 Bananas, mashed+ 1 teaspoon baking soda
½ cup unsweetened apple sauce+ ¼ cup water or fruit juice

Grease your muffin cups and loaf pan.
Combine your dry ingredients in a large bowl.
Combine your wet ingredients in a medium bowl.
Put the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just blended. Don’t over mix!

Channeling Bob Ross, now it’s time to make some big decisions. You can get fancy here and add some diced apples, walnuts, raisins, cranberries, chocolate chips- whatever you like! This is your masterpiece.

Once you’ve made your bread your own, fill your muffin cups 2/3 of the way.  If you’ve got the extra, fill your mini loaf pan.

Pop into your preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let it cool a bit before taking it out of the pan. You can serve it warm (my favorite!), or let it cool. Top it with some vegan butter substitute, or eat it plain. Or do whatever the heck you want with it. It’s tasty no matter how you shake it.

The muffins will keep for a few days, but I doubt it will last that long.

Happy Eating.

Long Time, No Post

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Oops.  This was supposed to be my super-awesome-happy-funtime blog and it seems that I have completely forgotten about it.  Take two!!  Here are some photos of the process (and finished product!) for my Halloween costume from 2011.  Sorry it took so long, I apparently fail at blogging.

 

Oh, pretty.

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I haz pretty new dress, 🙂 Yay

Costuming Greatness

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Ha, so my latest sewing project?  A dog tail and ears for JD Green from Froggy 100.9, the local country radio station.  They did a fundraiser with us at CVHS, and JD was locked away in a kennel waiting for his adoption fee to be raised.  Check out the pics at http://cvhumane.com/http://cvhumane.com/adopt/adopt-jd-green-from-froggy/

Walking the "dog" 🙂

CVHS was able to raise over $500, loads of cat litter and food, as well as lots of toys and treats.

=^_^=