Birthday Weekend

Friday was my birthday and I had a bunch of great surprises.

doorbell

The hallway is offically almost done (for now). I still need to touch up the ceiling where I got purple…I mean “grey” on the white. But I reinstalled the doorbell, which has been off since we moved in.

brownies

My parents came for the weekend so I made brownies (and apple cake).

brownies

In the form of mini muffins, hearts, and Vaders.

vegan ziti

I made a vegan ziti for dinner (this is before it went into the oven).

cake

And then I got the biggest surprise…a huge, vegan, TARDIS cake.

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My husband drove all the way to Bethlehem to Vegan Treats Bakery and picked up a custom ordered cake.

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It was WAY bigger on the inside.

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Vanilla cake with chocolate mousse.

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The detail was so incredible, I didn’t want to cut into it. Beautiful and delicious.

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I also got a heart rate monitor (that I heavily hinted about when I saw it on woot 2 weeks ago), a Lowes gift card, and a VS gift card (which has already been spent). bagodcarrots

On Saturday I got my much anticipated Bag of Crap. It was even more hyped up by the fact that my parents were there and I had to explain the concept of the random bags of crap. I kept reading the lists of what everyone else got. (Lots of 2012 calendars, slap bracelets, and tablets. Oh my!)

I got:

  • 3 x bag of deflated Texas air
  • 1 x Marley noise cancelling ear buds MSRP $49.99 (Amazon has them for $24.99)
  • 1 x Ugly flower bag
  • 1 x Canon scientific calculator $20-ish (when I saw the Canon logo I got excited)
  • 1 x Unsimply Stitched striped socks ($12)
  • 1 x Stationary set $2
  • 1 x Kodak essentials camera bag
  • 1 x XL American Apparel t-shirt in a pastel yellow $4 (husband says it’s not his color)
  • 1 x Remington 5 blade razor with 3 refills $13.99
  • 0 x second email with tracking for a Roku

Looks like no Roku for us, but that’s okay. I’m pretty happy with my loot. After the big unboxing my mom goes “I’m going to leave you 8 dollars so you can buy me one and tell me what I got.”

yahtzee

That night we played Doctor Who Yahtzee and everyone actually got Yahtzee at some point.

inari

Sunday we went to lunch and I got some delicious tofu rolls. We also hit up the Hershey winery and snagged a bottle to bring home.

Friday was the actual anniversary of the day of my birth, but today is the day the IRS thinks I was born (thanks to bad handwriting when a certain parent did the taxes back in the 90s).

Did you do anything exciting this weekend?

My Favorite Greek Breakfast Pastry

titleAbout this time 7 years ago I was prepping for my first trip to Europe. I was so excited and so incredibly nervous. I was going to Greece to study abroad for 4 months. I didn’t know anyone else going, and I had barely left the country before (except for a walk across the border into Mexico).

Greek culture was so different than what I was used to, and I constantly find myself longing to go back for a visit. I miss the laid back life style of Greece (late starts to the day, afternoon nap time, and the last meal of the day between 9-11pm), and the food…definitely the food. I wasn’t vegetarian back then, so I ate whatever I wanted (but never the skewered lamb…seeing the whole lamb impaled through the eyeball grossed me out). I think one of the best things was a simple gyro that I got almost every day down the street from the university. It was about 2 USD, and so simple and so delicious. Another favorite was a Greek breakfast pastry that they sold at a bakery near the university.

Side note: There were a lot of really cool shop owners there that loved to help us learn Greek. The owner of the grocery underneath my apartment, would not speak to me in English even though he spoke it very well…he always made me practice my Greek. The same with the bakery owner near the university, it took me forever to learn the word “bougatsa”. Upon googling, it looks like it’s also referred to as galaktoboureko, and apparently Athens has “the worst”…I can only imagine what “good” bougatsa tastes like.

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Every few months I find myself dreaming of this amazing breakfast pastry made of phyllo dough and custard (although now I think of it as dessert because I try not to devour sweets as a healthy breakfast). I finally decided to try to veganize it last week. I was hesitant because ethnic foods never taste as good when they’re not made with the same local ingredients as in their native land, but I figured even if it was close, I’d be happy.

I made the custard with semolina flour, almond milk, vanilla extract, and coconut sugar. Usually you can’t just leave out eggs in a recipe and have it still come out, but this wasn’t too bad. I’d like to try it with a powdered egg replacer, but I was all out at the time. The custard was a bit runny, and a little bit of arrowroot probably would’ve thickened it up, but since I was going to bake it, I left it as it was.

Although, I wouldn’t say it was 100% authentic, it came out tasting really good. The custard filling wasn’t as thick and chewy as the original, probably due to the lack of eggs. Next time, I’m going to try adding some heavy cream (Probably Silk creamer), and will use Ener-g egg replacer to make it a little thicker. Even though it wasn’t exact, it was sooo good, so definitely a win in my book!

 ingredients

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I used a bread pan since I didn’t want to make too much of it, just in case it didn’t come out right. I put a phyllo sheet on the bottom of the pan and then hung it over the edge. I overlapped the bottom of the sheets (spraying w/cooking oil each time), and then simply layered the hanging part of the sheet over the custard for the top.

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pouring

After I poured in the custard, I layered back over the sheets of dough that I hung off the side.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon semolina
  • 1-1/4 cups almond milk (I used Original)
  • 1/4 cup sugar (I used coconut, which I think made it a little bit darker)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • phyllo sheets (I used 5, and folded them over)
  • cooking spray (I used olive oil because it’s what I had, but a less flavored one like canola might turn out better. You can always use butter/margarine, cooking spray is just super easy.)

Directions:

*Note: Make sure you read the directions on your phyllo dough. I have been storing mine in the fridge, but if you keep it in the freezer, you’ll have to defrost it for a few hours.

  • Preheat oven to 385°F.
  • Make the semolina custard by mixing the semolina and milk slowly over medium heat. I added the milk about 1/3 at a time.
  • Stir in the sugar and vanilla and continue to stir until custard thickens.
  • After about 15 minutes, the custard should be slightly thicker, remove from heat and cool in the fridge.
  • Spray pan (I used a loaf pan) with cooking spray.
  • Layer one sheet of dough and then spray with cooking spray.
  • Continue layering half of your dough, spraying between each sheet.
  • Pour the custard onto the dough.
  • Fold over the dough sheets, one at a time, still spraying between each. (See above picture for a better explanation.)
  • Spray final layer with cooking spray and bake for 30-40 minutes, until golden brown.

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Random Rants on the Dairy Industry and Rape

“@joerogan Morrissey is a silly, silly bitch: ‘Eating animals is just the same as paedophilia, rape and murder’ http://mirr.im/1lgcD4K 

I used to eat meat and think that vegetarians were weird hippies. I stood by the agrument that animals were meant to be eaten…they were simply the bottom of the food chain. After watching a horrifying undercover video that was actually on the news (so many of them don’t make prime time), I was sobbing watching cows scream in pain after being tased and dragged with chains and pitchforks to slaughter. (The news report was actually about a recall because the cows were being slaughtered despite being too sick to be killed for human consumption, not specifically about the horrible abuse.)

I initially tried vegetarianism for 30 days and except for cheating a few times (with bacon mostly), I’ve never looked back. For the next 2 or so years I dabbled in vegan-ism (not eating anything from an animal…eggs, milk, etc), because my line of thinking was that the animals weren’t being killed for this stuff. I worked on a farm as a kid, and most of the time the goats didn’t mind being milked and it was easy enough to take an egg from the chickens (who actually roamed free).

There came a point when it hit me that cows produced milk for the same reason humans produce milk…to feed their newborns. It’s such an obviously simple fact. People cringe at the thought of a mother breastfeeding her baby in public, yet guzzle breast milk from a totally different species.

It really really struck me when I realized how horrible the dairy industry treats animals. It goes back to the simple biological fact…cows aren’t meant to produce milk constantly. They produce it when they have babies…and how do they get pregnant?

Sexual assault is any involuntary sexual act in which a person is threatened, coerced, or forced to engage against their will, or any sexual touching of a person who has not consented. This includes rape (such as forced vaginal, anal or oral penetration), groping, forced kissing,child sexual abuse, or the torture of the victim in a sexual manner.[1][2][3]

They are strapped to a “rape rack” and are forcibly impregnated, have their baby taken away almost immediately after birth, and then the milk that was meant for that baby is sold for profit to humans, who don’t even *need* it. We are the ONLY species to breastfeed from another species, and to continue doing so past the age of 4-ish.

I can proudly say I don’t remember the last time I had meat, and it’s been about 2 years since I’ve officially made the conscious effort to stop eating dairy and other animal products. I don’t think I’m better than anyone else though because I was a carnivore only a few years ago (and in high school I thought vegetarians were way pretentious).

It’s hard to explain to people why I don’t eat animal products, and I generally don’t bring it up unless asked. People get really defensive when they feel like you’re telling them something they’ve done their whole life is wrong. But I wish more people at least knew the conditions of factories, or imagined what it would be like to be raped, and then have their newborn baby stolen away (only to live the same fate, or in case of males kept in a crate to become veal).