Sadly, this blog is a bit sleepier than I'd like these days. Pop over here if you'd like to know why.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Smepic Cookies

The chocolate marshmallow cookies from the Cookie Cutter in the Vancouver Mall have been haunting me since around age 8. Did you ever have one? A warm thick chocolate base with a generous smear of marshmallow topped with a fudgey frosting. Oh my goodness. That was a cookie.

All good things must come to an end and the Cookie Cutter closed down... 15 years ago? Ever since I've kept that cookie in my heart. A few times I've tried to track down a similar recipe online and discovered that I wasn't the only one on the hunt. No luck.

Instead, last week I decided to do my best to make my own version of the classic deliciousness. I'm not too proud to share that my first attempt was an absolute fail. Completely. I used this recipe from 101 Cookbooks and fiddled with it too much by replacing the eggs. Check it out:

My Week: Mondays

My next attempt I was much more logical and used a recipe that started out vegan from the Post Punk Kitchen. I actually made this recipe twice. The first time I followed it pretty closely and had good results. The second time I diverged just a bit and had fantastic results. These are the changes: sunflower oil instead of canola oil and poured out just a bit less, added an extra dash or two of soymilk, used a tablespoon of water and a teaspoon of egg replacer instead of flax seeds.

The next step was to slather on the marshmallow cream. If you do this while the cookie is still warm it will melt nicely and have a smooth look on top.

Finally, I did my own take on the fudge frosting by using the chocolate ganache recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. I only used a touch because the marshmallow topping already sweeten the cookie to the max. My final batch came out the best... but here's a look at the first:

My Week: Mondays

I really loved these cookies but I decided they weren't up to "epic" standards... a label I've been enjoying for my baking lately. Instead, I settled on "smepic" ... "a smidge below epic" ...

And you know, these cookies really wanted to be vegan... but the grocery stores here in the Middle East didn't want to play along. Use Ricemellow if you can find it and you'll be off to a good start. The other animal product to sneak in was some milk fat in the chocolate I melted for the ganache, but vegan chocolate should be easy for you to find.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Take a Sick Day, Fly a Kite

This past week I spent two days home from work... sick. I used a bit of my time to stitch up a little sketch I drew a week or two ago. It's a kite.

Fly a kite

I wasn't going to use satin stitch for the kite itself, but a simple outline didn't seem appropriate. I'm glad I filled it in. I'm also thrilled with the mustardy yellow bows.

Fly a kite

I'm hoping to continue with a series of wind propelled "things that fly" ... we'll see.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Too Simple Chickpea Salad

Last week I decided to run a few errands and eat lunch in the park instead of driving all the way home before my pottery class. I quickly grabbed a chickpea salad from the supermarket and a stack of pita bread. I was so pleasantly surprised at just how delicious the salad tasted! I liked it so much I made it myself the next day...

You know how food you eat outside on the grass always tastes better than the food you eat inside at the table? I was a little worried that the magical taste would be somewhat diluted when eaten indoors... but nope. It was even better.

I made it again today after school with not quite as tasty results. Still good... but make sure you use high quality chickpeas, it really makes a difference.

Too Simple Chickpea Salad

Too Simple Chickpea Salad

1 can chickpeas
1 small cucumber
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon paprika

Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Cut cucumbers into small pieces.
Combine olive oil, lemon juice, and salt in medium bowl. Mix well.
Add chickpeas and cucumber.
Sprinkle top with paprika.
You might want to play with the salt and lemon juice a bit to get it just right.

Also delicious with any variety of baby tomatoes. Sweet corn would be good too.

Eat with fresh pita bread.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Photographic Evidence

I've been working hard trying to spruce my apartment up a bit lately. It's a challenge when you live in a furnished apartment to make it feel like home. When my mom came over for a visit a few weeks ago, I had her bring a bunch of photos that I had printed at Walgreens.

I picked out a few favorites and using double sided tape and foam board, mounted them onto the wall in my living room. Photographic evidence of my previous life with a bit of Abu Dhabi tossed in.

Apartment Wall

All photos by me except the black and white done by Kevin Dorn. And look... a little tiny banner!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Kid's Birthday Party Themed Birthday Party

... with a desert twist!

I've always loved birthdays. I like to think ahead and see who has a birthday coming... just so I can plan how to celebrate. Of course, sometimes life gets in the way and I have been known to send my belated regards.

Last week there were two birthdays in my circle of Abu Dhabi friends. I mean, we had to have a birthday party!

I knew right away that I wanted to make this cake. I first saw it on this favorite blog right here. It's just one of those ideas that anyone can do if they have the patience... but it looks tremendously complicated. I spent quite a few hours on this cake and felt justified by declaring it epic!

Rainbow Cake

Sadly, I could only eat a sliver before my face would start to feel tingly telling me the sugar was too much. Anyone else's face do that?

The cake was the starting inspiration to follow with a "Kid's Birthday Party" theme. For dinner we started with "Ants on a Log" then moved on to sailboat twice baked potatoes and macaroni and cheese. I had to make a salad just to even it out a bit. I didn't get any photos of the dinner but you can trust it was appropriately adorable.

Decorations came in banner form! I've been wanting to make a banner ever since I saw this photo a few years ago. Recently when my dear friend Ashley posted about banners, I got motivated. (And there will be more to come!)

Birthday Banner

As far as entertainment... we usually are pretty good at providing that ourselves, but no birthday party is complete without a rousing game of, "Pin the Hump on the Camel!"

Birthday Games

I laugh when I look at this photo because my hump is so far down the hall it wouldn't fit in the shot.

Birthday Games

There it is!

And here are the birthday girls!

Birthday Girls

Happy Birthday!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Down the Hall

My hallway needed some improvement. Here it is:

Tissue Paper Banners

Just tissue paper, embroidery thread, and scissors.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Belated Belated V-Day Cards

At some point in my life a few years ago I realized I was no longer celebrating Valentine's Day in the traditional way. It's just always been a bit... archaic to me. Oh, and cliche.

It most certainly has something to do with the enduring notion that women expect red roses, chocolates, and fancy jewelry. Uck.

That's not to say I don't have fond memories of elementary school Valentine's Day parties. So maybe it's just the adult version of Valentine's Day I find annoying. And don't get me started on Singles Awareness Day. Blech.

I've always been of the mentality that I'd prefer to show people I love them by the way I treat them every day... and maybe something extra special out of the blue. Don't tell me what to do and when and how to do it.

Now, on Valentine's Day I perfer to celebrate V-Day. V-Day is a global movement started by Eve Ensler to end violence against women and girls.

And there's a whole lot of love in that.

V-Day Cards

This year my V-Day cards were a bit late to come about. I downloaded this very cute lady pirate from Mer Mag and stitched on their eye patches.

Happy V-Day! You know... a couple of weeks ago...

Monday, March 1, 2010

Market Bag, Desert Edition

I put my new sewing machine to good use over the weekend!

Sarah's Desert Market Bag

You see... my employer gave me a very special Christmas gift this past year in the form of a new teacher/friend. What a treat! Her birthday is today and I knew I had to make her something special or she'd no longer share lesson plans with me. Or maybe she'd start to borrow and never return the AC remote? I couldn't imagine the horrors. Plus, I really wanted/needed to sew!

Six months without sewing and probably seven months since my last market bag. I felt a smidge rusty when it came to the steps... but a quick read through of the tutorial brought it all right back. (My love for this bag makes it sooo hard to try other patterns.)

Sarah's Desert Market Bag

The fabric selection in Abu Dhabi is interesting... to say the least. There are actually tons of shops. The problem is just that a) the material type isn't suited to the sort of projects I do (think textiles used to make abayas and saris) and b) the patterns and designs aren't... well, attractive. Luckily there's an IKEA nearby that sells a few decent prints. This fabric I chose because it matches the desert sand. It gets really dusty here, especially lately. I knew any prints heavy with white would be beige in a snap. Hence, Sarah's bag is a desert edition.

Sarah's Desert Market Bag

But you know, market bags are reversible so she's got some color there too!

Sarah's Desert Market Bag

It was so nice to have some time to myself at the sewing machine. I already have my next project planned and it might just be for another birthday that's coming up!