Thursday, December 28, 2006

matzo balls, cookies, seitan

I'm still alive!

Everything has been crazy lately but I'm finally off on my break from school. I'm keeping up [or trying to] four blogs, moderating over at VeggieBoards, and kicking my own butt with stuff for school, band, and [hopefully] college admissions for next year.

On the cooking front, I made five dozen cookies to give out for Christmas, the Sparkled Ginger cookies from Vegan with a Vengeance were the most popular ones. I also made the Gigantoid Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies from VwaV.

On Christmas Day I took advantage of the day off and made matzo balls (also from VwaV). They came out really well despite my less than optimistic expectations. The soup was just something my dad pulled together from the stuff leftover in the refrigerator.

Yesterday was my first ever seitan experience. I made a hybrid of a few recipes I found online and the results were mediocre. I baked the seitan so there wasn't a brainy texture issue, but it's kind of soft and squishy still. I froze most of it so I'll probably be messing around with it to see how to make it better in the next few weeks.

I received both the Vegan Lunch Box cookbook and Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World for Channukah, but I've yet to make anything from either (although they both look great).

Hope everyone's holidays have been less hectic than mine and a happy new year to all.

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Friday, December 01, 2006

Holiday gifts

Preparing gifts for the holidays doesn't have to be stressful (I'm probably just saying that because I haven't started this year's presents yet). Everyone loves something homemade that shows that you put some time into their gift.

Homemade mixes to make cookies, hot chocolate, etc. are great. Just mix up all the dry ingredients and make up a tag with instructions on how to finish making the item.

Bake cookies or cupcakes and wrap them up. Along with a note or card with a heartfelt message these can be great gifts.

If you're into making bath soaps/body care products, these are also fun.

Learning to make jewelry is easy. Pick up some beads at a craft store or make your own beads out of polymer clay or other material. String them up and attach a clasp or put them on earring backings and you have a simple gift that looks professional and is functional.

Everyone loves sock monkeys. Check out this tutorial to learn how to make sock monkeys. They only require very basic sewing skills and they come out really well every time. If you're a little more ambitious you can personalize or theme your monkeys. You can make any accessories that your mind can come up with. Google searches will bring up lots of other types of sock animals, just remember to use new/clean socks!

I went the sock monkey route last year:

Monkey Van Gogh and a Punk Monkey

If you're artistic (I wish!) you can make drawings, painting etc. for friends and family.

When all else fails, treat someone to a dinner, movie, show, sporting event, or other event that you think they will enjoy. Sometimes time well spent can be a better gift than something material.

Above all, just remember to have fun. Holidays aren't meant for stress, they're meant as a time to reflect and appreciate everything you have in life.