Christmas Cookies

One of the best things about holidays is the food that you can eat. This weekend I went Christmas caroling with my church and we had to make cookies to share with the people that we caroled with and for. I decided to try my own recipe of making Christmas flavoured cookies. I decided to add candy canes, pretzels, and chocolate chips, and peppermint extract to regular cookies. I really liked how these turned out, especially since I didn’t use a recipe and usually that doesn’t end well.

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Week 2: Peppermint Hot Chocolate

Woot! Week two of hot chocolate recommendations and I decided to go with a peppermint hot chocolate. One of my favourite flavours during any season is by far mint and caramel. I love classic candy canes and eating them on a cold winters day. So I did my research to find a good recipe for hot chocolate with peppermint. And I believe that I found an awesome one at http://dinnersdishesanddesserts.com/peppermint-hot-chocolate/ .

You can either make this from scratch or use one of the homemade packets. To make hot chocolate from scratch you can either heat up plain milk and mix in chocolate and sugar until it is completely mixed together. Than you can add about a fourth of a table spoon of peppermint extract, at first than if needed you can add a little more later depending on your taste. If you want to use one of the packets simple make the hot cocoa and than add the peppermint extract in after it is heated up and made. To spice it up a little more still, I would say to add a but of whipped cream on top, cause whipped cream always makes things better. You can also crush up candy canes and sprinkle them on top and use a full one as a stirring stick to add in that authentic flavour of an actual candy cane.

Hopefully this recipe brings in a little but of warmth into your cold winters day and that you enjoy it. There are dairy free options for this recipe also. You can use silk almond milk or chocolate almond milk and dairy free whipped cream. Another suggestion to the coffee fanatics out there you can make a cup of mocha coffee or regular coffee and add the peppermint extract, candy cane crumbles and whipped cream to add that coffee flavour into it too. Happy holidays and happy cooking!

E-Readers

These days it seems like everybody has either a tablet, iPad, Nook, or Kindle. The age of technology has transformed almost every single aspect of our lives and has moved it’s way into the world of reading. Eversince e-books and e-readers have come out, there has always been a debate over which is better, the traditional paperbook or the advanced e-book. Many people have really strong opinions on this topic. Personally, I really enjoy them both. There is nothing that beats the feeling of success when you flip page after page on a book and that finally close the back cover and reflect on the ending. Although the e-readers make it easier to carry a thousand page book anywhere without breaking your back or shoulder having to lug it around. Pernally I love the feel an everything about the traditional paperback books. it’s the way I have always read and how I mostly always will. I love turning the pages of a book. Theres a quote from one of my favourite books ever, Inkheart, that talks about paper books. The father in the story repairs books and has so much to say about how amazing they are. He pointed out how everytime a book is read it looks like it gets bigger and bigger, it’s not as small and flat as it was when it was brand new. The father said that it was because everytime you read you left your thoughts, feelings, pictures of the book inside the pages to be released when you dive into the pages again. I have always loved that thought. That thought really struck me hard and has really added even more magic to reading and it makes me smile to think that a part of me is in every book I’ve read.

My argument towards e-readers is that they encourage people to read, and anything that makes people want to read even more is A is my book. I think that in this new technological age and setting people are more likley to do anything when technology is involved. That makes reading more exciting for many people if you can do it on your tablet while waiting for a plane to land or just relaxing at home. It makes it fun, for at least people my age, when you can use technology to something. It does add an ease when transporting books with you. It is a lot easier to fit a small tablet in your backpack that a huge book. Transporting Stephen King’s Under The Dome in my backpack in 7th grade cured me of carrying big books everywhere. I think I was hunched back for a couple weeks after I finished it.

So in my opinion, I prefer the natural “old” style of reading paper back books, but as long as you’re reading, how you do it, I could care less. Happy holidays, and Happy Booking!

Surviving The Holidays

Ahh, the Holidays. The wonderful time when your forced to make pounds of food for people you really don’t like that much, get harassed by family members, and forced to deal with not only the crazy shopping crowds but the unpredictable weather too. I know, about as much as anybody just how stressful the holidays can be. It is only December 10th and I am counting down the days until Dec 26th when all the stress will be over and no more family time (16 by the way). Well, my goal for this post is to help, or at least attempt to, take some of the stress off the minds of all the vegans out there for the holidays. Eating out is hard enough, but family dinners, at least for me seem to be the worst. The typical foods at our family houses for big dinners is meat for the main dish, cheesy sides, and wine. This could lead to a very hungry and very stressed vegan, which is not a good combination. So I have been researching a little bit and am finding some tips to make the holiday eating a bit less stressful.

1. Back Up Food

Rule one in any family situation is either to have a back up plan or an escape route. It’s always a good idea to sneak a bag of almonds, a little bit of peanut butter, or any other of your favourite treats or foods that keep you satisfied. You can leave them in your car or purse as a back up plan so you don’t have to suffer and watch everyone eat while you can’t.

2. Offer to Bring Something

Everybody loves a helpful hand. Get on the good side of your family members and have the oppertunity to have soemthing vegan-approved, by offering to make a side dish or the main meal yourself and bringing it. There are so many recipies out there that most people would never know are vegan and that your families would love. Sometimes it just takes a little research. Here are a couple recipes that I found for every course of a meal;

Side Dishes;

Creamy Roasted Tomato, Garlic, Onion, Coconut Soup– Don’t be turned off by the name, it is very flavourful and have heard really good reviews about this one, and it looks delicious!

Broccoli and Cheese Soup– Finally a good vegan recipe for my favourite soup of all time.

Zucchini and Potato Bake– If you haven’t had this TRY IT! I love both Zucchini and poataos so this is a wonderful combo!

Even more can be found here.

These are just a few examples of some meal ideas. Click on the course that you want a recipe for and a link will take you to some amazing recipes to bring on the holidays.

Main Course                 Dessert                 Pasta Salads                 

 

3. Don’t Change it To All About You

One of the common complaints about Vegans is that they are accused, often unjustly about being very pompous about their eating habits. Be cool, guys. Don’t freak out at weird Uncle Joe for eating some turkey or at Grandma for having a glass of milk, you never know how they’ll react. It’s okay for others to eat differently for whatever their reasons are, so don’t expect people to accommodate you, because it was your choice to eat differently and it’ll all be okay.

 

Hopefully these help out at least a little, I know just in my research I found a ton of good recipes that I am really excited to try out. Stay safe, and try to get through the holidays with minimal mental damage. Happy Cooking and Happy Holidays!

26 Letters

tumblr_m8391iUpuD1qh0381o1_400I was thinking the other day, (Scary Right?), and I came across a mind blowing thought that has really opened my eyes to something. If you think about it, every book, magazine, speech, text message, song, movie, essay, everything that we read or say is simply composed of different combinations of 26 letters. That is completely mind blowing to me. To think that this blog post, is just a different arrangement of the letters from the books that people like Stephen King, Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain, and many other great writers of our world used. Every text message is just a different order of the simple letters that were used in Hitlers speeches, or in the latest romantic comedy’s script, or in this morning’s newscast, or in the latest novel. To think of all the amazing and powerful things that 26 simple symbols can do is truly mind blowing and thought provoking. This is an excerpt from the Library of Congress’s website:

“Today’s Library of Congress is an unparalleled world resource. The collection of more than 155 million items includes more than 35 million cataloged books and other print materials in 460 languages; more than 68 million manuscripts; the largest rare book collection in North America; and the world’s largest collection of legal materials, films, maps, sheet music and sound recordings.”

There are over 155 Million works of writing in the Library of Congress, each one unique in it’s own way and they vary greatly in genera, topic, and era of writing, but they still are all composed of simply a different order of only 26 letters. Countless amount of works and writings of everything and anything, all in the end are very similar. That thought is just crazy to me.

This idea, also gives me hope and wonder as a writer and avid reader. Think of all the magic that those letters have created, all the inspiration that they have bestowed upon them. The amazing  world in Harry Potter. Hogwarts, Hogsmead, the students, the teachers, the wizarding war. Everything that has sparked millions of followers, and beloved readers, was all sparked by just 26 letters. Books like the bible, that people dedicate their whole lives to studying and reading into, is made of such a simple thing. As someone who loves to write also, I find it comforting to think that everything that was every written or said in the world, was made as combinations of these letters. That all those past writers who lived in fame and are still treasured for their amazing writings and works, started from the same place, and we all have the oppertunity to begin there too, and we all have the chance. All we have to do is have an idea, and find the perfect order of those simple letters and you can start something big and amazing.

So to all of you writers or readers out there, just think about this for a while, let it soak in. Every way that we communicate to others, is only a different order of the same 26 simple letters. Your favourite book, has the same start as the horrifying History Text Books we all know too well. So if you’re looking to spark something in people, make them happy or sad, say what your feeling, create a magical world that is all your own, spark a unity amongst people, or simply write a blog post, you just simply have to find that right combinations of those 26 letters. Happy Booking c: omforting to think that all those people were able to express everything and what they were feeling and spark reveloutions, make people they have never met laugh, and cry, and unite groups of people who otherwise would have nothing in common by just finding that perfect letter combination. 

Week 1: S’mores Hot Chocolate

Well, its past Thanksgiving, and I’ve worn my first sweater of the year, so its officially Winter in my book! The snow is falling, the sky is foggy, and presents are being bought. The one thing I don’t like about winter is the cold. When you live in the Midwest, the winters can kill you some years. My knee can predict the weather better than the weathermen, it can change 50 degrees in one day, and its pitch black at 4;30. There are also many plusses to the cold weather though, the act of warming up. After a long day of Christmas shopping, or shoveling, or just being awake, the best thing to come home and do is curl up with a good book and a warm steaming cup of hot chocolate. There are so many kinds of hot chocolate out there and each one is better than the last it seems like. My goal for this winter is to put a different hot chocolate recipe each week until Springs sweet return.

This first week since it’s still pretty close to fall, I chose a fall and winter mix of flavours. Smore’s hot chocolate. Everybody loves a good smore over a fire on fall or summer nights, and who doesn’t love some marshmallows in their coco? I thought this was a genius idea and face palmed myself for not thinking of this or doing this before now. It looks like a really good idea that might spice up the normal hot cocoa that comes around every year. As any one else who lives in a cold dreary winter home will know, you can always use some excitement or extra spice in the dark winter time.

I found this specific recipe from the lovely blog The Cultural Dish, you can find their original post and recipe here. This is a really cool blog and y’all should for sure check it out. I, like her, am a huge dark chocolate fan so I thought that this was very good and tasty. I will post my own pictures later, but this is her picture of the creation she made. IMG_2192

S’mores Hot Chocolate

Ingredients:

1/2 cup sugar

-1/3 cup dark cocoa powder

-1/2 teaspoon salt

-Milk

-Marshmallows

-Graham crackers

Directions: In a bowl, whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder, and salt.  This is your hot chocolate mix.  What is great about this, is that you can store it in a container and scoop from it whenever you crave hot chocolate.
When ready to make the hot chocolate, take a mug and fill it with milk about 2/3 of the way up.  Heat the milk for about 1 minute and 30 seconds.  Then, scoop 2 tablespoons of the hot chocolate mix into the mug and stir it in until it dissolves in the milk.  For the purposes of this post, I wet the rim of the mug before filling with milk, so that the graham cracker crumbs would stick to the edge.
Next, break off a few little bits of graham cracker and place them in the mug, on top of the hot chocolate.  Then, pile as many marshmallows as you wish on top of the graham cracker.  I then sprinkled on some more graham cracker crumbs for a little extra crunch!

Using a kitchen torch (or broiler), lightly torch the marshmallows.  Then, grab a spoon, dig in, and enjoy!

For all of you out there, who like me, are dairy free, than this recipe, is one of the few that can easily be adapted into a dairy free by simply exchanging the milk used for water or a dairy free milk. My favourite that I use is the Silk Almond Chocolate milk. It is delicious and even my mother, who is not dairy free, says that she prefers that milk to regular chocolate milk and it is also loads healthier because it’s only 70 calories per glass versus an average of about 209 calories in regular milk.

So I hope everyone enjoys this recipe and keeps looking for future Hot Cocoa recipes to come! Happy Cooking and stay warm out there! 01_snowflake_1

Safekeeping by Karen Hesse- First Thoughts

SafekeepingI recently, aka yesterday, began reading a new book, Safekeeping by Karen Hesse. I will admit that I am not far into the book at all but from what I have read it is a very interesting plot line and a very applicable idea to todays world. This book is about a young girl, Radly, who is on a mission trip in Haiti when she gets word that the president of the United States has been shot and that there is turmoil throughout the country. She hurries back to go home to her family and seek refuge with them together. She doesn’t realize just how bad the situation has gotten until she gets there and finds that her parents have not met her. She has to travel through this strange new country to find her parents and survive in the new rules.

I am not typically a person that is very interested in politics and I will never be caught reading a political book or even speaking fondly of them very often. This book though, I find really interesting. As dooming as it seems, I really find apocalyptic books and TV shows to be really interesting. Its always fun, to me, to see how I think I would react in certain situations and how other people react. The beginning and situation of the turmoil, is one part that I find the most fascinating. I am a huge fan of the Walking Dead, because I find the post apocalyptic world and its social conducts to be really interesting. This book has all of those elements. It shows how the chaos begins and how many people react to it.

Radly was away and out of the country when all this begun, so she has no sense of any of the new rules and regulations in her country. She leaves for a couple of months and comes back to a place that has curfews and where you need government permission to even pass state lines. This country is in complete turmoil and she is walking in during the middle and trying to simple grasp what is even happening and how it begun.

As you can tell I am not a fan of politics, and I often take the “hippie” stance on many things. I disagree with many things that our government is doing today, and I honestly fear that this could someday be a real possibility. With the congress not being able to agree and even make simple compromises and the gap between the beliefs and relations between the right and the left side growing bigger everyday, the government may just be heading that way. People are getting angry and tired, and they are beginning to speak and act out against what is going on. If something doesn’t change soon, I’m afraid that America could soon turn into Radly’s world.

Sorry to all of you who expected a book review and came across my rant, it’s not what I origionaly intended, but the coincidences are uncanny and scary in some ways. So I will keep reading this book, and fuel my obsession with turmoiled societies. Happy Booking!