Vegan Lavender Lime Bundt Cake

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Addictions come in many forms. Like that time I was addicted to Pleasantville. And when my 8th grade self couldn’t stop listening to Blink 182’s “Take Off Your Pants and Jacket.” I also got addicted to plucking my eyebrows. Until they were two inches apart and I looked like I had grown an extra forehead in the middle of my face.

It took a long time for them to grow back.

So this summer, I got addicted to a pond. A new pond. A pond not many people know about.

And I can’t stop going there. I wake up early just to be the first one on that splintery dock. I make sure to get all my chores done the night before so I can efficiently bike, swim, cannonball, dive, flip, and nap—all before 3pm.

I’m really nervous about the fall. Because I don’t know what my weekends will be like without that pond. Where will I swim? Where will I see great blue herons swooping over lily pads? What happens when I don’t get sun sleepies?

Maybe with less sun will come more time for cooking and baking. Even though a huge chunk of me doesn’t want that to happen, I guess having a lavender lime bundt cake after dinner wouldn’t be too bad.

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This flavor combo is so unreal. The first time I did something with it was ages ago when I baked lavender lime poppy seed cookies. Those were stupidly amazing.

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Lime gets zested. Don’t rub your eyes. But definitely enjoy your house smelling citrusy for at least the afternoon.

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Lime gets juiced.

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You’re probably all, “Ew, does it taste like potpourri?” To which I answer, “Shut up and eat it.”

It doesn’t taste like potpourri. It tastes like yum.

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Just a whee bit toasty.

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And a whole lot of omg-so-good-I-might-eat-it-all.

Vegan (say what?!) lavendar lime bundt cake.

3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons culinary lavender
3 limes, zested and juiced
2/3 cup canola oil
1 14oz can coconut milk
1 1/2 cups vegan sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Thoroughly grease a bundt pan of your choice, being sure to get in all the cracks.

Sift the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder salt), in a medium bowl.

In a large bowl, mix wet ingredients (sugar, coconut milk, canola oil, vanilla, lime juice, zest) until sugar and oil are fully incorporated.

Slowly add the dries into the wets in about 3 batches, mixing completely before adding the next cup.

Once the batter is just incorporated (don’t overdo it, or else your cake won’t be fluffy), fold in the culinary lavender.

Pour into the bundt cake pan and bake for about 60 minutes, until the top is just browning at the edges.

Fully cool before even attempting to take the cake out of the pan. It will break if the center is still warm.

Seriously it tastes phenomenal.

Enough to feed the people who don’t scorn vegan baked goods.

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Beet Smoothie

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Never have I ever gone skiing.

Never have I ever shaved my eyebrows (People do that, right?).

Never have I ever slipped on a banana peel.

Never have I ever done a cartwheel.

Never have I ever run a marathon.

And never have I ever thought I would ever call myself a runner, but after demolishing one pair of shoes and successfully killing a 5K with a time of 24 minutes, I’d say it’s about time I put away the notion that my bones are “too weak” for running or my body “isn’t built” for a marathon.

I mean, I’m not doing today’s Boston Marathon. Because that’d just be crazy. But maybe this time next year, my Never Have I Evers will be a little different.

You know, “Never have I ever ridden a unicycle” or “Never have I ever done a triathlon” or “Never have I ever hung out with a sloth.”

Oh my god why haven’t I hung out with a sloth yet?

Start to cross off your nevers.

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That’s it. Beets, bananas, flax. And some almond milk. Maybe some honey if sweetness is what you crave before a run. Or after? This could be a great recovery drink, too.

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Blender, where would I be without you? My mornings would be smoothieless and filled with other breakfast things like cereal and donuts. Thanks to you, I’ve made coworkers drool and effectively woken up my roommates at 7 a.m. to the sound of your engine.

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Yes, that’s a sparkly pink straw.

Beet smoothie.

1 medium beet, roasted or boiled and chopped into cubes
2 ripe bananas, sliced and preferably frozen
1 tablespoon ground flax
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tablespoon honey, to taste

Blend it together and what have you got?

Enough for two runners-but-not-marathoners on a Monday morning.

Vegan Banana Carrot Muffins

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Let me tell you why throwing something out is a trillion times worse than ripping a bandaid.

I’m a reuser. I’m a recycler. My roommates have mentioned on more than one occasion that they’re sick of drinking from jars. We…might be drinking from glasses formerly known as candle holders.

And it’s not just that.

Having three pennies in my wallet for those times when the total is $7.48 gives me probably the greatest joy in the world. The red sneakers I got seven years ago will have their comeback.

Call me weird. Call me a pack rat (Except I’m not really a pack rat because I really have very few things and I give stuff away all the time and I don’t want you to think my room is full of what you’d find on an episode of Hoarders.).

But being this way has its advantages, guys. Especially in the kitchen.

Did you know that you can save your  vegetable butts (onion skins, carrot greens, celery ends) and make some amazingly delicious broth? And brown bananas are the perfect excuse to bake something. Duh.

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Or like those times you get 67 bananas instead of just four because you want potassium something awful?

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And then you’re all “I’m gonna smash you and turn you into muffins, bananas.”

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I’m not much of a carrot eater. But when a bundle of organic ones are on sale, I have to get them, right?

While the rest of the girls are compulsive lip gloss buyers, I’m busy getting far too many vegetables.

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So, some oats are going in these. You’re lucky this round didn’t get flax seeds.

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Can I also just say that repurposing string to hold up jewelry is the best?

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So stop throwing things away. Make some broth. Something about lemonade.

Vegan Banana Carrot Muffins.

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup light brown sugar
3 medium bananas, mashed
1/2 carrots, grated
1/2 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup rolled oats

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large bowl, mash the bananas until only a few chunks remain. Add the vanilla and almond milk and mix with a fork. Whisk in the brown sugar until no clumps remain.

In a medium bowl, sift the dry ingredients. Fold into the banana mixture about half a cup at a time.

Add the oats and grated carrots, lightly folding until fully incorporated.

Put batter into muffin tins or ramekins, filling only about 3/4 of the way.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a fork comes out clean.

Makes enough muffins for you to resist leftover Easter chocolate. For…maybe 5 more minutes.

Vegan Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles

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It’s thawing time. Are you ready to thaw? I’m totally ready to thaw.

Everyone’s emerging from their wintry cocoons. Runners are wearing neon. People are yelling hellos across the street. Smiles just happen. Ducks and swans are chilling on the pond that’s lost its icy sheet.

You know winter is over when windows open. When we start to let the cross breezes clear layers of dust. Turning down the thermostat and wearing ankle-high pants never felt so good.

What’s up, March. I’m springing forward. I’m doing a long jump into this month. I’m mid-air and far from ready to land.

There are a couple of things I want to hold on to, though. Like the flavors of January and February. And, fine, I’ll admit that my love of apple cider should be contained to November. Eggnog should probably be drunk only once.

But hot chocolate? That’s good throughout the year. You won’t want it when it’s 90 degrees out, but when it’s a cookie?

Oh man.

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And when there’s cayenne pepper? Holy zing. Just punch me in the face.

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You guys are so adorable.

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Seriously, quit your cuteness. Those crackly imperfections are too much.

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Oh. These are so vegan. Vegan to the max. And that’s almond milk.

And I might not be doing the vegan thing anymore (Listen. I work at a donut shop. When someone asks me how the hibiscus cherry donut tastes, I’d better have a real answer.), but I’m still cutting out as much dairy and eggs as possible. Plus, when a vegan cookie tastes this unreal, I’ll gladly cut out the butter.

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Peas in a pod.

Vegan Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles.

1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup pure maple syrup (I used grade B)
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 tablespoons almond or soy milk

For the sugar dusting:
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large bowl, sift flour, cocoa, cayenne, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. In a separate medium bowl, whisk canola oil, maple syrup, vanilla, milk, and sugar until fully incorporated.

Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wets, mixing continuously. The batter will be stiff.

Using the palm of your hands, roll about 3 tablespoons worth of batter into a small ball. Shape into pancake-like disks and cover one side with the sugar-cinnamon dusting.

On a sheet of parchment paper, place each disk about 1 inch apart, sugar side up.

Bake for about 12 minutes.

Makes 15-20 cookies, depending how big you want them.

Make them smaller if you want to share with your coworkers in the morning.

Winter Vegetable Soup

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sat·ur·day night

/ˈsatərˌdā / nīt/

Noun
1. Falling asleep with a book on your lap and a glass of wine half full on the coffee table.
2. The inability to replace wool socks with boots and a quilt with a coat.
3. Waking up before midnight, brushing those pearly whites and calling it.

I let Saturday night have her way with me. And I was pretty OK with it.

Because on Sunday morning, the two inches of snow were all I needed to throw the rest of my vegetables into a pan and call it a soup.

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I might get married with a bouquet of herbs instead of flowers. The basil will be gone by the time I make it down the aisle.

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Leeks, bless their hearts, are dirty jerks. All sorts of little granules nestle themselves between the layers of leaves and there’s only one good way to get rid of them – a submersive rinse.

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When you roast everything together, the flavor’s like whaaaaaaaat?

Wait, where did all these vegetables and dried herbs come from? I joined a CSA (Community Shared Agriculture) this winter and once a month was bombarded with root vegetables, pears apples, rutabaga and the occasional bundle of kale and broccoli. It was worth every penny.

Summer CSA with blueberries, tomatoes and fresh herbs, here I come.

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1lbs red potatoes, chopped into 1-1/1/2 inch chunks
3-4 large carrots, chopped like the potatoes
2-3 sweet potatoes, ditto
2 large leeks, sliced into 1/4in. pieces and submersed in a cold water bath
5-6 stalks celery, sliced into 1/4in. pieces
3-4 cloves garlic, skin still on
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
5 cups vegetable stock

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Wash all the vegetables (use a rough sponge when necessary). Toss with olive oil and herbs in a 9x13in baking pan. Place in the oven and roast for about 45 minutes, until the carrots are soft (they take the longest).

In a blender or food processor, pulse the roasted vegetables with the vegetable stock until smooth. Place pureed soup into a large pot as you work your way through the rest of the vegetables, being sure to not overload the blender. If it’s too full, the heat and pressure will make the lid explode, no matter how much you try to hold it down. (Seriously.).

Once everything is pureed, either sieve the contents through a cheese cloth or leave it chunky (I like my soups thick). Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer until the soup is nice and hot.

Makes about 6-8 servings.

Enough to melt the rest of the snow.