Monthly Archives: January 2013

Cookbook Review: Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World

I have to admit, it’s been really hard to actually make anything out of this cookbook.

Christmas of 2011 I asked Mr Pine Nut to get me the three dessert books by Moskowitz and Romero. He obliged me, but sadly the timing was wrong. Early pregnancy had rendered me absolutely unable to tolerate eating sweets (they all tasted like sawdust, except for chocolate candy and dairy ice cream). Merely looking through this cookbook actually made my stomach turn, so it kind of got put on the shelf and ignored until a few months later I was able to handle it again. Even so I generally found it was pie or cookies I wanted and I just didn’t get around to using this one.

That doesn’t take into account, either, that my husband just really isn’t that into cake, and the last thing I need is to, oh, eat 11 cupcakes all by my onesie (I’m sure I would share at least one with GooGoo).

But, since I’ve reviewed the other two books, I decided I really should review this one too. I’d find some excuse to make cake.

Vanilla Cupcake

Vanilla Cupcake with Chocolate Buttercream

I did the Golden Vanilla cupcakes (with margarine) and also the Really Golden variation with the turmeric (with oil). The Golden Vanilla were okay; I am very much a yellow cake person, so the Really Golden variation appealed to me more even though it’s only psychological that they taste different (because they really don’t).


Your Basic Chocolate Cupcake

Your Basic Chocolate Cupcake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Light and fluffy and amazing; used chocolate buttercream recipe (which, incidentally, was enough to frost about 2.5 dozen).


Pineapple Right-Side Up Cake

Pineapple Right-Side Up Cake

This was the first cake I personally made out of this book.

28th of August. I wake up and realise it’s my cat’s birthday, and I’d forgotten all about it.

He couldn’t care less about cake, I’m pretty sure, but it’s a birthday, and a birthday is a great time to make a cake. So I paged through the book to see what recipe I had stuff for and found this one. The only thing I had to go buy was pineapple, so it wouldn’t cost us a lot to make.

Didn’t actually make it on his birthday, since it was irrelevant to him, but I made it that weekend when we had company. I didn’t really get any feedback from the guests; my husband liked it and so did I.


For GooGoo’s third birthday I did two layers: one was the chocolate Gluten Freedom recipe and the other was the vanilla Gluten Freedom recipe (with corn flour option). I flavoured both with mint and tinted the vanilla one green.

The chocolate layer I really liked – great flavour and texture. The vanilla layer seemed too much like cornbread; next time I’ll try the almond flour option instead of corn flour and see if that helps any.


Dulce Sin Leche Cupcakes: Delightful. (I ate these made by a friend.)

Lychee Cupcakes: Good. The jury is out on the lychees, which although they tasted good, just look kind of strange. (I also ate these made by a friend.)


Super Natural Agave Icing: I LOVE this icing. It has a marshmallow creme-y texture and flavour that makes it perfect for sandwiching between graham crackers with melted chocolate. It is also good for a shiny, glazy frosting. (But don’t try to decorate with buttercream on top of it, because that doesn’t work so well. Trust me.)


Here’s my main problem with this book: a lot of the recipes call for nondairy yogurt. I don’t have easy access to nondairy yogurt (or generally the money to splurge on nondairy yogurt). I haven’t been able to try the majority of these recipes for that reason.

Aside from that, there are a lot of fantastic cupcake ideas in here that I really hope I can try some day. I wish I had been able to do a wider variety before writing this post, but I’ll write another post in the future when I’ve had a chance to bake more.

If you’re interested in ordering this book, here’s a link to Amazon.

Categories: Cookbook Review, dessert | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Crafty Post: Doll Clothes

I’ve always been a doll girl.

I got a Kirsten doll (American Girl) when I was six for Christmas. She was my pride and joy, and I still have her.

I got started sewing doll clothes by hand as a teenager, but not for Kirsten. I had two fashion dolls at my disposal: my mom’s Francie and a super classy Barbie wannabe from a grocery store who came to me wearing a blue crocheted Southern Belle-ish dress designed to be worn over a toilet paper roll crinoline.

I named her Martia N. Woman. She generally pranced around in the nude, proudly showing off her ragged waistline where you could sever her torso from her hips and legs. Her head also easily popped on and off, so all in all this doll made for some interesting play scenarios, periodically becoming a legless torso walking on her hands,  or else a disembodied pair of legs might go wandering around our house, or the huge ball that held her head on becoming her Shrunken Head while her actual head was sitting in state somewhere odd. She terrorised our Playmobil population as the Fifty-Foot Woman. She had pinkish-red hair that I cropped off with a pair of scissors so she had an interesting set of roots until I created a variety of yarn wigs for her, gluing them on and periodically stripping one hairdo to be replaced by another. Later I changed her name to Winona because of Winona Ryder (about the time Little Women came out).

But I digress. My mom had bought me a book with simple patterns for doll clothes for a variety of doll sizes, so I cut up an old choir robe my dad brought home from somewhere to make Martia-Winona and Francie their first dress. It was light blue, long, and trimmed at the neckline with lace. I was very, very proud of my creation and I think it’s still kicking around somewhere.

At twelve-ish, I added Felicity to my doll collection, and I later acquired a variety of Actual Barbies and Kens, all with names and personalities of their own. Then I added Madra, Gene, and Trent to my doll family, and a Brenda Starr (whom I renamed Genevieve and who took on a rather “Miss Frizzle” persona because I made the mistake of using some Rather Bizarre Prints to make her some dresses at the very outset).

I’ve sewed for all these dolls at various points of my life as well as for a few other dolls not belonging to me.

Kewpie doll dress.

For instance, this Kewpie doll.

This sweet little Effanbee doll was fun to sew for. That brown trim? TINIEST BIAS TAPE EVER.

This sweet little Effanbee doll was fun to sew for. That brown trim on the collar? TINIEST BIAS TAPE EVER.

Barbie clothes were my practise run for the clothes I’d eventually make for myself. I learned a huge amount about construction techniques and styles on a small scale before I ever attempted to sew something nice for myself. I loved doing it and it never seemed like a big challenge to me, perhaps because that was most of my intensive sewing experience up to that point.

Brooke in navy blue lace

Brooke in navy blue lace

Vivien the Spiffy

Vivien the Spiffy

Elvis in blue jeans with a satin jacket.

Elvis in blue jeans with a satin jacket. Yes, I did tan topstitching on the jeans to make them more realistic.

Trent and Madra were a hot item. Gene was always trying to break them up. She was annoying. For some reason, though, I had to have that element of drama in my doll world.

Gene and Trent

Gene the vaguely medieval and Trent the gloomy Russian

Madra in a dress based on 1840s lines.

Madra in a dress based on 1840s lines.

I think I like sewing for American Girl sized dolls the best, however. They are just big enough to get into a lot of detail if necessary but can easily be finished in a day.

Josefina models a Civil War era plaid dress.

Josefina models a Civil War era plaid dress.

Felicity in another variation of the plaid dress above.

Felicity in another variation of the plaid dress above.

Closeup of the sash and fabric.

Closeup of the sash and fabric.

Kirsten in a Victorian dress.

Kirsten in a Victorian dress.

Felicity models a Victorian housedress and apron.

Felicity models a Victorian housedress and apron.

Felicity in a 1930s dress I copied from a picture in an old Sears catalogue.

Felicity in a 1930s dress I copied from a picture in an old Sears catalogue. I absolutely love 1930s styles.

This vintage Shirley Temple doll was a real treasure. I was so honoured to get to create this dress for her.

This vintage Shirley Temple doll was a real treasure. I was so honoured to get to create this dress for her.

So that’s a sampling of my doll clothes projects. I really haven’t done any of that for a long time, largely because they just didn’t sell at a fair price for the work they require, but with two girls who now each have their own American Girl I anticipate I’ll probably be picking up the tiny scraps of fabric again soon. I’m not averse to still making them for other people, either, except that they aren’t as cheap as people always seem to think they should be “for something handmade”.

Do you sew for dolls? Which ones? Maybe you can point me to some of your work. I love to see what other people come up with for their dolls.


Categories: doll clothes, sewing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Snowflake/Hanukkah Birthday Party

My internet was down for a while this week and I didn’t have time to finish the post I wanted to post this week, so you’re getting this one instead.

It’s wintertime still, so I’m going to write a little bit about GooGoo’s first birthday party. It fell during Hanukkah, in December, so I decided to make it blue and white and go with a snowflake theme.

I’m the type who tends to plan things way in advance, because I like to Plan Things and Make Lists. It’s like a disease. In fact, the planning is far more fun for me than the execution. I started planning Lou Who’s first birthday party the spring before she was even born. Yes, I’m crazy.

Because GooGoo was only a year old, I felt no need to get really elaborate with games or anything like that. I chose to do this cake, only with a round pan because I was too cheap to shell out the dough for the hexagonal one, and made her a party dress to match.

I did a homemade cocoanut cake recipe and put icing and a layer of cocoanut flakes between the two layers of cake.

I’d share the cake recipe I used, except I have no idea which one it was. Something off the internet somewhere. It was very good, but was more a muffin-y texture than light and fluffy like cake really should be. I was still pretty new to the world of vegan cake-age at this point. I also did cocoanut milk ice cream from a recipe I’ve never been able to relocate online. (Note to self: THIS IS WHY BROWSERS HAVE BOOKMARKS kthxbai.) I used the classic Wilton buttercream recipe for the cake.

This is my finished adapted version of the cake. Making a non-wonky Star of David would have been much easier with the guiding points of the hexagonal cake shape.

Just for the record, don’t make the same mistake I did. I frosted the cake and popped it in the freezer a few days ahead of time to decorate later. It didn’t work so well because then the frosting sweated when I pulled it out and the decorating frosting didn’t want to stick. At all. I would have done better to just do ALL the decorating and freeze it ahead of time.

Side view. Because I was having so much trouble getting the decorations to stick, I just did stars instead of the more intricate snowflakes on the sides.

I should also add that I am NOT a cake decorator and have more wrecks than successes, by far. Someday I’ll share some of my wrecks for your entertainment. Maybe. This is one of my finer moments in cake decorating and it’s still not exactly pristine. But I was satisfied with it anyway.

And GooGoo had a custom-made dress to match her cake.

I was absolutely in love with this dress. I wanted to eat it up. The fabric was leftovers and freebies from someone’s garage sale haul, too, so it only cost me my time. Looking forward to having Lou Who get to wear it too.

We had both sets of grandparents to the party and some family friends. I served latkes with applesauce and tofu sour cream (the latkes weren’t vegan; I wasn’t brave enough or skilled enough to try doing them minus eggs at the time). I am pretty sure we also had green salad, but I have no pictures of that, so I’m not 100% sure.

After we had the meal, we had cake, ice cream, and presents. The doily under the cake was a lovely gift from a lady who has since died, but did incredibly crocheted handwork despite being legally blind.

And, because it’s my blog and I can, I leave you with GooGoo’s official birthday portrait.

Categories: birthdays, GooGoo, Mrs Pine Nut | Tags: , | 2 Comments

An Ode to White Beans, Cooked Carrots, and Rice

On Sunday I did a pressure-cooker load of white beans* and a large pot of brown rice.

On Monday I made stroganoff with blended white beans, the last of my moo-free seitan from “Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day”, and some other stuff, and we ate it over rice with some salad.

On Tuesday we had something. I don’t really remember now what, but I know it involved beans and rice.

On Wednesday I cooked vegetable stock. I also made a soup with rice and white beans and carrots and blended up the stock ingredients after they were done cooking and stirred that into the soup.

On Thursday we ate the rest of Wednesday’s soup and I did a crockpot seitan using some of the previous day’s veggie stock.

Today, Friday, we’re finishing the last of the beans and rice, cooked in the seitan cooking broth with some fresh carrots and frozen zucchini thrown in.

It makes my week so much easier when I do beans and rice on Sunday.


*Can someone PLEASE explain to me the difference between Great Northern and Navy beans? Is there a difference? THEY ALL LOOK THE SAME.


Categories: meal planning | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Literary Post: Blueberries for Sal. Blueberry Muffins.

This year, I’m going to have a Literary Food Post the first Wednesday of every month. (At least, this is my very real intention.) Mostly this will be children’s books, but I may throw in a non-juvenile book on occasion if I feel like it.

For my first one, I’ve chosen a favourite from my childhood: Blueberries for Sal.

Robert McClosky clearly had children, because “Blueberries for Sal” is alarmingly true to life. Last summer during blackberry season, GooGoo went through the following routine every time we went out picking:

  • picks berries to put in her bucket
  • once she has about 3, she eats them
  • then she tries to take a handful out of my basket
  • I tell her she needs to pick her own berries because we’re saving these ones for winter.

Somehow I feel old just writing all that out.

Blueberry muffins are kind of a staple, aren’t they? Pretty much everyone likes a blueberry muffin, and they are most comforting to me at least. I have lots of memories of eating them growing up. My mom usually paired them with chicken soup and I remember anxiously watching as she took them out of the muffin tin, put them in her large shallow “muffin bowl” and covered them with a cloth to keep them warm, and then we’d all sit down to table and I’d try to grab several while they were still practically too hot to eat. My dad preferred the ones not “corroded with blueberries“, whereas I loved the ones with huge pockets of juicy berry goodness.

I loved this illustration growing up. It’s so homey, complete with wood stove. I used to just look at it for the longest time.

My mom always used a recipe from a card she got free in the mail, if I remember correctly. This is the recipe (veganised, with notes).

Basic Blueberry Muffin

1 3/4 C flour (I do 1 cup white, 3/4 cup whole wheat)
1/3 c sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 c blueberries, frozen, fresh, or dried (I’ve subbed other berries too)
3/4 c non-dairy milk
1 T ground flax + 3 T hot water
1/3 c vegan margarine, melted (or cocoanut oil works wonders too)

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Stir in blueberries.

Add milk, flax egg, and oil. Stir just until mixed.

Pour into 12 muffin cups. Bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes.


I welcome your suggestions for favourite children’s books that involve or allude to food in some way – I’ll gladly consider all suggestions and post about whichever ones get my creative juices going!

Categories: book-inspired food, breakfast, brunch, nut-free, recipes, vegan | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

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