Coconut Banana Cream Cake Recipe (Dairy-free, Egg-free, Vegan)

12 Jan

Sushi’s birthday was yesterday, so cake had to be made.  He loves banana cream pie, so, some time ago on another birthday, I had invented a “Banana Cream Cake.”  It was a hit, and was my go-to recipe for Sushi’s birthday.  This year, however, I couldn’t use eggs or dairy to make it (stupid food sensitivities. . . ).  So, after reading around and combining some recipes, this happened:

Cake:

Preheat oven to 350 and grease a square cake pan.

Place the following ingredients into blender in the order listed:
1 cup rice milk
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
 
Blend until just mixed, then add:
1 tablespoon vinegar
 
Blend again until just mixed, and quickly pour into the pan and bake about 30 minutes, or until the cake springs back when touched in the center, or until a toothpick comes clean when poked in the center. 
 
 Pudding:
Mix together in a pan:
1 can full-fat coconut milk
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
 
Cook over medium heat, stirring almost constantly with a whisk.  Take it off when it thickens and is a good pudding consistency.
 
Carefully poke holes in the cake with the handle of a wooden spoon, then pour the hot pudding over the cake, making sure that it fills up the holes.  Cover with plastic wrap touching the top of the pudding to prevent a skin forming.  Put the cake in the fridge to cool, and put an unopened can of coconut milk in to cool, too.  When the cake is cold and pudding is set (give it a few hours), make some whipped coconut cream:
 
Whipped Coconut Cream:
Open chilled can of coconut milk.
Skim off the solid, fatty cream part and put into a bowl.  Add a little bit of the watery liquid, but just a little. 
Add a spoonful of sugar. 
Whip with electric beaters until fluffy and smooth.
 
Cover the pudding-soaked cake with banana slices (it will take about 3-4 bananas) and then spread the whipped coconut cream over everything (it might seem like you are spreading it thin, with the bananas poking through the cream, but it is just fine).  Sprinkle with unsweetened shredded coconut, if desired.  Enjoy!  
 
This cake keeps very well in the fridge overnight (whipped coconut cream is much more stable than dairy whipped cream), so make it ahead of time and save yourself some stress.
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Sweet, Sweet Avocados

4 Dec

I like avocados.  They have saved so many desserts for me now that I can’t have milk anymore.  Oh, and the things I’ve been making them into are SOO much easier to make than their dairy-and-egg-laden counterparts.  Take this for example: vegan eggnog.  I use honey instead of the agave, and skip the rum, but I love, love this recipe.  It tastes better than most store bought eggnogs, and it is so easy to just throw everything in a blender and, TA-DA!  Veggnog! 

Having seen how successful avocados could be in sweet treats, I wanted to experiment with them some more.  Thanksgiving presented an opportunity to invent a chocolate pie, and avocados were a key ingredient.  Here is what I came up with:

Chocolate Pudding/Pie Filling

  • 1 bag chocolate chips
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 avocados
  • 2 bananas
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • a dash of salt

Put half the can of coconut milk and the whole bag of chocolate chips into a blender and blend until they melt together (this may take a minute or so for friction to warm everything up enough).  Add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.  Pour into serving dishes or a prepared pie crust and chill.  Enjoy!

 

Just a couple of nights ago, I happened to have shelled, roasted pistachios in my kitchen, and an avocado, and I wanted to see what would happen.  What happened was this:

Tasty Pistachio Pudding (Vegan, Gluten-Free)

  • 1 very large avocado (or two small ones), chilled
  • 1 can coconut milk, chilled
  • 1/4 cup honey (more or less to taste)
  • 4 oz. shelled, roasted pistachios
  • (optional spices – nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla, to taste)

Put the coconut milk, honey, avocados, and spices together in a blender and blend for about 20-30 seconds, until everything is mixed and creamy.  Add the pistachios and blend briefly to chop them up a little bit (5 seconds max; you want to leave chunks). 

Enjoy immediately, or chill for later!   Makes a great frozen dessert, too, but you have to let it soften a bit after taking it from the freezer.

 

I plan on making a mint-chocolate-chip ice cream next.  One of the beauties of avocados is I get the attractive green color without food coloring!  (except in the Veggnog, in which the avocado is diluted enough to merely give a soft yellowish tint)

Halloween Pictures

6 Nov

Pinkie Pie (that everyone thought was Piglet)

Postal Worker with a package

Happy package!

Seriously, isn’t she adorable?

Various cute kids

Dr. Hooves, Pinkie Pie, and Derpy (with Package)

Caterpillar drew the face, I carved it. When we were finished with that, she said, “It’s a scarecrow pumpkin! It needs hair!” So, we gave it some hair.

I got this warty pumpkin thinking it would be awesomely fun to carve, but it was like sawing wood when we tried to cut it open. I drew a face instead.

Mom and daughters at the zoo

The hippos (behind the fence) loved eating the pumpkins!

Caterpillar with her aunt and cousin (the Geeklet) watching elephants

This is a swan we saw pretending to be a flamingo. Not bad, huh?

Toddler Tautologies

28 Aug

Caterpillar has been talking a lot, as she is prone to do, and she is very good at stating the obvious.  Examples:

“This water is too wet!”

“Panties are called panties.”

“Yummy water is yummy.”

“Daddy is my daddy.”

“Mommy, you are my mother.”

. . . and others, too.  These are just what I can think of off the top of my head.

Beautiful Board Books by Matthew Porter

10 Aug

For the past two weeks, I’ve been raving about these books to my friends, so I figured I should just do a write-up and spread the love.  For the record, I do not actually know Mr. Porter, this review was not solicited, and I am not receiving anything for doing this.  I just happen to really like his work.

Matthew Porter is a Seattle area artist/author that I met at the Bellevue Arts Festival (or one of them anyways, there were three going on at the time).  He was manning a stand with paintings, prints, and books for sale.  I took a look at the books, and kind of fell in love.  All of his books are simple, beautiful, and informative.  I’ve learned things from these books, which is something considering the target group.  So, with no further ado, here we go:

First off, we have “ABC” –

Description:  This book starts with a basic “A is for Alligator, B is for Beaver, C is for Cat” pattern, but the true test of these books is U, Q, and X.  Mr. Porter meets these challenging letters with Uakari, Quokka, and Xenops (animals I did not know existed before this book).  Nuthatches, swallows, iguanas, and geckos are also featured, giving us a chance to emphasize that “lizard” and “bird” are broad categories that many different animals fit into. It’s nice to have a book stay consistently specific like that.

Toddler Test: Caterpillar loves to sit and sing the ABC’s with this book, turning the pages as she goes through her letters.  I expect she’ll pay more attention to the names of the animals later, but she spends a lot of time just singing with the book and looking at the pictures, and that is fine for now.

Next up is “Calling All Animals” –

Description:  I already knew that lions came in prides and sheep came in flocks, but I was completely unaware that caterpillars came in armies and flamingos came in flamboyances.  This books pattern is to show a single animal – for example “A Bear” – and then, after the page is turned, a whole bunch of that animal along with the group’s name – “A Sleuth of Bears.”

Toddler Test:  Caterpillar likes to look at the animals, and then turn the pages and see “ALL the ANIMALS” (as she calls it).  I’ll keep reading it with her (especially since she asks), but this is another that I suspect will be more interesting to her as she gets older.

Third is “Count the Birdies” –

Description:  The pictures are beautiful.  I almost want to buy prints to hang up in my house.  The pages go through the numbers 1-10 in order, and, for each one, it shows the numeral, the word for the number, and a picture with that number of birds to count.  The birds are flying around or landed on flowering branches of trees (cherry and magnolia, and one other – but real trees!).  It’s a basic counting book with pretty pictures.

Toddler Test:  “O-N-E spells one!  T-H-R-E-E spells three!  One, two, three birdies!”  No, she’s not properly reading yet, but she can identify the letters in each word and guess what the word is by context (and the numeral next to it).  It’s engaging to her, but challenging as well, and she likes that.  It’s probably her favorite.

Last up, “Flowers” –

Description:  This is a colors book that simply has pages with the words for various colors printed on backgrounds of the matching color, with pictures of flowers in that color on the other pages  of the spreads (was that confusing enough?).  For example, when you open the book, the left page contains the word “Red” printed on a red background, while a picture of a red flower is facing it on the right.  Thing is, these are real flowers, not just ones the artist made up.  The red one is a dahlia, the blue one is a hyacinth, the purple one is a coneflower.  The flowers are identified in a chart on the back of the book, so they don’t take away from the “colors” focus, but are there for extra learning.  My one complaint is the back of the book didn’t have enough room to identify all of the flowers, so two got the shaft.  For the record, the white one is a basic lily (probably easy enough to figure out), and the black one is a lotus.

Toddler Test:  “R-E-D spells red!  What’s the red flower called?”  Caterpillar has been extremely interested in knowing the names of all the trees, flowers, and leafy plants around us, so this has been a fun book for her.  It’s kind of a “Baby’s First Botanical.”  It has information she already knows (the color), and then expands that by offering the written word identifying and a named flower illustrating that color.

If you want to look into more of Matthew Porters works, they can be found here.

Baby Foodies

10 Aug

My girls love food, and who can blame them?  It’s pretty awesome.  Though the fact that they are my daughters might have something to do with it. . .

***

Ninja Baby is definitely not satisfied with just nursing anymore, and she gets really mad at us if we forget to give her food at dinner  that looks like what the rest of us are eating, so I’ve been having fun making more pretty baby meals.  She doesn’t seem to have favorites right now; she will eat whatever she can get her hands on.  Though the minted watermelon that grandma made was met with great enthusiasm. . .

***

Caterpillar and I made some oatmeal-cherry-almond-chocolate-chip cookies this morning.  She, of course, spent her time picking out the chocolate chips to eat and the dried cherries to discard.  Ninja Baby cleaned up the discarded cherries.  During this, Caterpillar said: “Chochate is a prefet huud.” (Translation: “Chocolate is a perfect food.”)

***

A while ago, Caterpillar had the opportunity to make dinner with her Uncle J.  When asked what they did, she told us, “We cooked oou-dols.  He called it ‘pasta,'” and then laughed because her uncle did not know the right thing to call noodles.

***

A week or so ago, I made a summer vegetable ragout (out of this cookbook – it’s the picture on the cover, actually).  Caterpillar has been working on figuring out scissors and is very good at making single snips at things, so I washed up a pair for her to use in the kitchen.  She used them to snip fresh green beans into little bits to use.  I let her snitch some of the corn after I cut it from the cob, and she fell in love.  We had it with some Dover sole that I had fried up and made a sauce for; she ate it up, and we had more of the ragout with some summer sausage for lunch the next day.

***

Two nights ago, I made roasted vegetables for dinner: parsnips, carrots, beets, and potatoes.  Chop them up, toss them in olive oil, add some salt and herbs, spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and bake 425 for about 20-25 minutes.  Ninja baby loved the parsnips (which is what we had a lot of, so we kinda just kept letting her eat them).  Caterpillar was reluctant to eat at all until she heard “potatoes.”

When she saw the beet-stained parts of the potatoes, she said, “These tay-toes are dirty.  I don’t like jelly on these potatoes.”  We finally found a “clean” one, and then the rest of them were magically okay.

“More tay-toes!”

“After you try some of the other vegetables.”

“These?”

“Yes, you can eat the beets.”  After very gingerly putting the first beet slice in her mouth, the rest disappeared very quickly.  We gave her some potatoes, which she ate quickly.

“More tay-toes!  Pwease?”

“After you try some of your other foods.”

And so it went.  She ended up eating her whole plate worth of vegetables, plus more of just about everything, and the pink, beet-stained pieces which had been “dirty” at the beginning of the meal became the preferred bits by the end of the meal.

***

Last night, we kind of just snacked.  We had gone for a walk in the late afternoon, during which we picked and ate blackberries, thimble berries, and salal berries.  As the evening progressed at home, we snacked on watermelon and summer sausage.

***

We’ll see what we end up doing tonight.  I may do that ragout thing again. . .

Conversations

27 Jul

A while ago, Caterpillar’s aunt asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up. My daughter’s response: “I be a mommy and nurse with my babies.”  We talk about this a lot when the topic of growing up comes up; it’s obviously important to her.

A week and a half ago, we had a weaning party.  We played up the party before hand, made a chocolate cake and had “big girl” presents.  For the last week, we’ve had a repeated conversation that looks kind of like:

“What happened yestermorning?”

“We had a weaning party for you.”

“What’s that mean?”

“That means you’re a big girl. . .”

“. . .and I can’t nurse anymore”

There are some variations, but that’s the gist of it.  That conversation has been gradually replaced by “Mom, I want to be small.  I need you.”  This breaks my heart.  I hate telling my two-year-old that she’s a “big girl,” because she isn’t (and she knows it).

Tonight, at bed time:

“Mom, I a little bit big.”

“Yes, you are a little bit bigger.  You aren’t a baby anymore.”

“I grow bigger.”

“Yes, you did.  And you will keep growing a little bit bigger every day until you are grown up, an adult.”

“Adult?”

“Yes, an adult, like Mommy and Daddy.”

“And I can get money!”

Yes, yes you can.

Language barrier

14 Jun

Caterpillar and Ninja Baby have baby talk conversations together.  These consist of making “bababa,” “mamama,” “nangnangnang,” and similar noises at each other.  Also, blowing raspberries.

This is what I imagine a translated transcript of one of these conversations might look like –

Caterpillar (C): How is the crawling going?

Ninja Baby (NB): Pretty good.  I’d rather be walking, though.  Could you help me stand up?

C: I would, but Mom’s in the room.  You know how jealous she gets when she sees me try to do things with you.

NB:  Yeah.  I guess I’ll just use this shoe rack. . . .  Oh, you don’t happen to know where that green box went, do you?  That’s just the right height for me, and I can kind of move it around if I need to.

C: Oh, let me go get that for you.  When I woke up this morning, Mom had done that thing of hers where she puts the blocks in the box and sets it on the shelf.

NB:  I’m glad she likes to play with things, but it is so frustrating when she does that and doesn’t put them back on the floor where they belong.

C:  Seriously.  Sometimes I indulge her and help her play her “clean up” game, but  I try to make a point of dumping the things out of the box immediately afterward.  I’m hoping that one of these days she will get the point and remember to put things back where they go.

NB:  Yeah, but until she gets better, we shouldn’t leave her unsupervised; but she seems to never sleep.  We’ve got to nap sometimes.

C:  How about we take turns?  I know you need more sleep than me right now, so you go first.  We’ll switch off naps so one of us will always be with Mom to keep her from hiding our toys and cluttering up the shelves.

NB:  Good idea.  I’d better go nurse now so I can get to sleep.  Good luck with her!

_______

It’s been a busy couple of months. . .

14 Jun

and here are some pictures to catch you up.  These past months have included:

matching Easter dresses,

 

falling asleep in the middle of play,

eating rocking chairs,

falling asleep in a box in Mommy’s closet,

exploring a forest with Daddy,

riding a dragon,

making star-shaped vegan butter,

petting sheep,

a road trip to celebrate Sushi’s and my five-year wedding anniversary,

wearing the dirndl that Mommy wore as a little girl (and calling it the “Shirley Temple dress”),

learning to crawl,

painting the girl’s bedroom in the new house (we got a new house, did I mention that?),

learning to stand and trying so hard to walk,

going through boxes of Mommy’s old stuff and finding random bits from her childhood (this is a hat that I picked up on a field trip as a kid in Korea),

peeling off all of the pretty flower decals we had put on the wall of the girls’ bedroom,

falling asleep in yet another odd position,

wearing pretty dresses,

and learning to eat food.

It’s been busy with the move and all, but there will be more pictures of the house coming soon.

Miss Independent

7 Apr

Always be prepared to follow through with what you say you will do.  This is easier if you make sure to only suggest things that you are willing to do.  I know this, but sometimes I forget it.  Like today.

I was on a walk with the girls.  We’ve been cooped up in the house for a while, so both of them were very much enjoying the beautiful spring day we were blessed with today.  Our meanderings brought us to the area around our apartment complex’s swimming pool, where there are brick retaining walls to climb, flowers, to smell, and bushes to hide in.  Caterpillar thoroughly enjoyed herself. After a while, Ninja Baby started to fuss; she was tired, wanted to nurse, and needed a diaper change.

I said to Caterpillar: “It’s time to go inside.”

She responded: “No. Not go inside.”

“Yes go inside.  Your sister needs a diaper change.”

“Not go inside.  Stay here.”

After some more talk along these lines, I saw the tantrum starting to come and said:  “Okay, see you later.”  Then I started to walk away.

Yes, I tried to fake my daughter out.  Yes, I know I shouldn’t do that.  It’s manipulative and all that other stuff, but in the moment I was stuck for ideas of how to get my toddler to willingly come home.  I’m still recovering from being sick, and I had my baby in a carrier, so I really needed cooperation.

Caterpillar called my bluff.  “Okay, bye-bye!” she said.  Translation: “That works for me!”

Oh shoot.  “No, really come with me,” I said.

“Say bye-bye already,” she responded.  Translation: “Get out of here already so I can play.  It was your idea.”

Why yes, yes it was I thought to myself.  How to salvage this. . .

“Alright, see you soon!” I said as I walked in the doors to the building next to the pool.  The lighting was such that I could still see Caterpillar through the window on the door, but she could not see me.  I stayed by the door to see what she would do.

If I had been hoping she would come running after me as soon as the door closed, I would have been sorely disappointed.  Knowing my daughter, though, I was not at all surprised to watch her continue to poke around and play.  I kept an eye on her to make sure she did not get into trouble, but as soon as she started walking toward the pool (after just a minute or two), I opened the doors.

“Hi, Caterpillar!  Time to go home!”

“Okay.”

“Did you have fun playing?”

“Yes.”

And then we went home.

That could have ended worse than it did.  I need to be more careful next time.