I'll save the nearly averted disaster until last. In the meantime, here are some good eats.
Have you ever tried popped amaranth? I got this idea from The Splendid Grain, and now I am completely taken by it. All you do is heat a deep pot over medium-high heat and then add 1/4 cup of amaranth, and stir and toss it constantly until most of the grains are popped. It only takes about 3 or 4 minutes.
EDIT: Careful; there is a fine line between popping and burning! I have learned this during repeat attempts... So watch your heat and keep those little grains moving!
It makes a great cold cereal, with 1/2 cup of soy milk, some sliced fruit, and some maple syrup. I even sprinkled in some ground ginger for a little kick. It's very crunchy and nutty and toasty, and quick enough for a school day. Plus, amaranth is higher than other grains in iron and calcium, which makes it a good nutritious choice.
We made a huge trip to Trader Joe's yesterday. Since we have to go all the way to Atlanta, when we do go we try to stock up on things. We came home with four big canvas bags full of groceries, and now it is spilling out of our cabinets and pantry... so perhaps, with the exception of fresh produce, we can get away with little or no grocery shopping for the next few weeks. Anyway, I picked up several packages of gnocchi, one of my new favorite foods.
My friend Abby turned 22 this past week, and last night she and our other good friend came over to celebrate with dinner and a movie. The movie, incidentally, was Dead Poets Society, one of my all-time favorites. Some times it's just good to bawl your eyes out in the company of your closest friends, you know?
Dinner, on the other hand, was nothing to cry about. We tried, for the first time, Dreena's Tomato-Lentil Pasta Sauce from Vive! and it was just delicious. I love the idea of adding lentils to plain marinara sauce, to increase the nutritional value of a pasta dish. We left the capers out of the sauce--I realized we didn't have any, and then one of my friends admitted that she doesn't really like capers. Next time I'm interested in adding them because they would really go well in this sauce. But dinner did not fail to make anyone happy!
What did we serve the sauce with? Gnocchi, of course.
Now for the disaster. We tried to make a birthday cake for Abby--and I say tried, because it really wasn't a day for cake-baking. I don't know if it was the humidity from the thunderstorms that we were having, or the heat, or my ignorance about converting cupcakes to 8-inch round cakes... But what was supposed to be a double-layer chocolate cake (by doubling the Basic Chocolate Cupcake recipe from VCTOTW) ended up being one intact cake and one chocolate crumbly mountain. On top of that, the Coffee Buttercream Icing didn't ever set and become light and fluffy--just moist and grainy and melty. I know I've made vegan buttercream before--I am not sure what went wrong there. How did we save the day?
One single-layer cake, which I tried to decorate with my piping tools but the icing wouldn't hold any kind of form. It was still cute, though. The dark chocolate-covered espresso beans made a really nice touch.
And, with the crumbly layer, mini cake bowls! The bottom layer is a pile of cake crumbs, topped with a nice circle of frosting, then topped with a circle cut out of the part of the cake that didn't fall to pieces. Little dollops of frosting on top, and a chocolate espresso bean in the center. Cute, eh? It's important to make even disasters into something good, when you can. Aside from the appearance, the cake was delicious, especially with a little scoop of So Delicious vanilla ice cream!
So tell me, how do you convert cupcakes to an 8-inch cake? I think we opened and closed the oven so many times to check the cakes for doneness that it messed up the temperature. Hmm... and as for the frosting, I am just going to call that one a fluke.
I'm playing around with my layout--it's time for a bit of a change, I think. I may change it ten more times before I come up with exactly what I'm looking for--just to warn you!
Until next time... peace.