World Vegan Day

November 1 is world vegan day, which prompted this long-term vegan to get her pens out and computer on again after months of creative inactivity due to day job constraints.

Although veganism is a subject dear to my heart, I am usually a closeted vegan to avoid the stigma, hostility and fruitless discussions that sooner or later come up in mainstream society.

So much I could write here, but today I will only present my little drawing featuring some of the most consumed animal species worldwide (not shown are ducks, rabbits, turkeys, geese and goats, all part of the top 10).

I will also include a possibly not very well internationally known song that touches on the subject of animal use and abuse. I feel that sadly the video was a huge missed opportunity, but I do appreciate the message of the lyrics, which I have written down here. Perhaps some of you can relate in your own way.

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I’ve got something on my mind
Makes me sad, it makes me cry, oh no
Johnny wanna live

Just an ordinary day
An animal will pass away, oh no
Johnny wanna live

Who’s to say he gets no rights
Even not the right to life

Don’t know why it leaves you cold
Don’t know how to make it show, oh no
Johnny wanna live

Through his eyes I look inside his heart
He can feel it, me and you
Can’t defend himself ‘cause he can’t talk
And this is why I talk to you

Johnny isn’t just a name
He stands for every creature’s pain, oh no
Johnny wanna live

Go ahead try to look inside his heart
You can find your own mistakes
Try to hide them, thinking he can’t talk
But he can read them in your face

Gotta give his skin away
For coats they wear on summer days, oh no

Tell me why it leaves you cold
I swear I’m gonna make it show, oh no
Johnny wanna live
You have the right to live

Composers: Cretu/Peterson/Hirschburger

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Frankfurt Vegan Meetup Group

One version of a banner I made the other day for a new Meetup group I just started:

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Today was our first event – a potluck, my favorite food format. I love the variety that results from people bringing different dishes to the table; it never gets boring. This was what I brought – and since we were only two today, I now benefit from having a fridge full of extra food. :)

MeetupJune18a

Baked chili beans with tahini sauce, guacamole and fresh salsa, sandwiches a la Hawaii, 4 citrus juice, herbed potato wedges, and chocolate cherry poundcakelets.

Recipe of the Month: Mami’s German Apple Streusel Cake

Spoonflower’s latest contest theme is “Mom’s Recipe Tea Towels”, which was chosen with Mother’s Day in mind. But since there is always some time between creating a contest-design and the day the top 10 are announced (well over 1 week), I didn’t realize until today just how close Mother’s Day really is. I wanted to draw (and print) her a card, but mailing it takes at least 1 week!

My tea towel is really unrelated to Mother’s Day; it features my mom’s apple streusel cake which she came up with for one of my visits. Yes, it’s vegan, and it’s so delicious that my partner and I ate 90% of it in one sitting on the day she made it (really rude, you might think, but she was glad we loved it).

The design is completely hand-lettered and pen-drawn.

How do YOU feel about Mother’s Day?

EDITED May 9, 2014: This design placed in Spoonflower’s top 10, and here are some fabric images:

Moms Recipe Tea Towel Design Challenge Top Ten Winner: Mami's German Apple Streusel Cake by christinewitte

Moms Recipe Tea Towel Design Challenge Top Ten Winner: Mami's German Apple Streusel Cake by christinewitte

Recipe of the Month: Vanilla & Chocolate Pudding w/ Raspberry Sauce

If you find baking too complicated and sometimes just crave something relatively quick and easy for dessert, or to bring to a potluck, then this may be the solution: vanilla or chocolate pudding, or layering them both in a dish!

When I see that pouches of pudding or custard mix powder are sold at stores, sometimes very expensively (as with organic varieties), then I wonder why anyone would bother buying something so easy and much cheaper to make from scratch. Of course one could spend even more on puddings sold in plastic containers. But if you care about minimizing waste and questionable ingredients (including sugar), then that’s no option anyway.

Whenever you create anything yourself, you have the most control over what goes into it. Feel free to adjust the amount of sugar to taste and to add flavoured extracts to your liking, e.g. almond, lemon or mint.

The raspberry sauce, a popular ‘pudding-condiment’ in Germany, is surprisingly sweet when only using raspberries, but obviously you could add some maple syrup or sugar to  add sweetness. If you dislike the seeds, simply strain the sauce through a fine sieve.

One note on bringing soymilk to a boil (on medium heat): just before boiling point, soymilk will (just like cow’s milk) quickly rise up and easily overflow. Therefore, keep an eye on your soymilk and whisk occasionally to keep from scorching. Once it boils, work quickly: whisk in the slurry and stir like mad for a minute, then remove from stove. No fear; it really is easy.

Recipe of the Month: Truffle Tart / Trüffel Tarte (Deutsche Version)

Valentine’s Day is already all around us online and in retail – are you seeing pink yet? If you’re planning to make a treat for yourself or someone special, I have a scrumptious suggestion: my truffle tart! It is probably the most chocolatey and richest dessert in my repertoire and very easy to make. The taste and texture is reminiscent of chocolate truffles, hence the name. You will need a spring form, tarte form, or pie plate, as well as a blender for this recipe. For those many avid German-speaking bakers out there, I’ve included a German translation below!

*** Deutsche Version untenan! ***

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Truffle Tart (copyright Christine Witte)

Crust:
200 g flour
1/2 t baking powder
100 g sugar
1 t vanilla extract
pinch of salt
50 g coconut oil, at room temperature
30 g pureed silken tofu, extra-firm

Filling:
200 g dark baking chocolate (70%)
200 ml coconut milk, full-fat
100 g pureed silken tofu, extra-firm
100 g sugar
1 t vanilla extract
1 t rum extract or 2 T rum

Preheat oven to 350º F / 180º C.

Oil a 7” / 18 cm springform, tarte form, or pie plate. If using the standard 9” / 22 cm form, double the recipe. Optional: Line bottom of form with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients for the crust. Then stir in the coconut oil and pureed tofu until a homogeneous mixture forms. Roll half of the dough into a circular shape and place on the bottom of the springform. Roll or shape the remainder into the edges of the crust and press against the walls of the springform. Pre-bake for 15 minutes.

Chop the chocolate and place in a heat-proof bowl, such as a glass measuring cup. Fill a small pot with just enough water to reach the level of the chocolate in the cup. DO NOT let water on the chocolate. With the chocolate-bowl inside, heat the pot on medium heat. Stir frequently until the chocolate has melted.

In a blender, combine all filling ingredients and blend until smooth. Pour into the pie crust and bake for approximately 30 minutes or until the surface is firm to touch. Let cool in side the form at room temperature, then refrigerate for a few hours. If dusting with icing sugar, do so just before serving.

Trüffel Tarte (copyright Christine Witte)

Teig:
200 g Mehl
1/2 TL Backpulver
100 g Zucker
1 Tütchen Vanillezucker
1 Prise Salz
50 g Kokosnuβöl, bei RT
30 g püriertes Seidentofu, mit so wenig Wasseranteil wie möglich

Füllung:
200 g dunkle Backschokolade (70%)
200 ml Kokosnuβmilch, voller Fettgehalt
100 g püriertes Seidentofu, mit so wenig Wasseranteil wie möglich
100 g Zucker
1 Tütchen Vanillezucker
5 Tropfen Rumgeschmack aus dem Röhrchen oder 2 EL Rum

Puderzucker zum Bestäuben

Den Ofen zu vorheizen: Ober/Unterhitze 180º C, Heissluft 160º C.

Eine Spring- oder Tarteform (Durchmesser 18 cm) einfetten. Für eine Standardform mit 22 cm Durchmesser können die Zutaten verdoppelt werden. Der Boden kann nach Wunsch mit Backpapier ausgedeckt werden.

Für den Teig, die trockenen Zutaten in einer Schüssel vermischen. Dann das Kokosnuβöl und das pürierte Tofu einmischen und zu einer einheitlichen Masse formen. Mit einem Nudelholz die Hälfte des Teiges zu einem Kreis der Gröβe des Formbodens ausrollen. Den Rest des Teiges zu einem Rand rollen und in die Form drücken. Nun 15 Minuten vorbacken.

Die Schokolade im Wasserbad schmelzen (z. B. in einem hitzebeständigen Messbecher), dabei oft umrühren und darauf achten, dass kein Wasser mit der Schokolade in Berührung kommt.

Nun alle Zutaten für die Füllung im Mixer geschmeidig rühren. In die halb-gebackene Form gieβen und ungefähr 30 Minuten backen bis die Oberfläche sich fest anfühlt. In der Form bei Raumtemperatur abkühlen lassen, dann einige Stunden in den Kühlschrank stellen. Falls Puderzucker verwedendet wird, erst kurz vorm Servieren damit bestäuben.

‘Veganish’ Design made the Top 10 of Magic Show Contest!?

When loading Spoonflower’s weekly top 10 page for their ‘magic show’ contest, I was shocked to see my name in the pool! Of course I’m always very grateful to make it to the top 10, and it was no likely occurrence with 120 contestants in this one (featuring many stunning designs). But I’m even more excited – and surprised – that this happened with my “Utopia Animalia Magica” design. It is, after all, somewhat critical of traditional entertainment involving non-human animals. And those types of shows aren’t going to disappear for probably a long time, if ever, which means that most people want such entertainment. Perhaps that message is more subtle than I thought in my drawings. What do *you* think when look at it? What comes to mind?

If you voted for me – many sincere thanks to you! Spoonflower contests mean a lot to me; much time, work and thought goes into each submission. Making the top 10 can be helpful in different ways: I don’t have to purchase a proof to make it available to the public (I can only buy and store so much fabric); it increases exposure in a highly competitive field, thus potentially increasing sales (which, in my 3rd month on Spoonflower, are still very humble); and it gives me motivation to continue pursuing my dream – to do surface design for a living one day. Could there be a better job than that?

Here are two close-ups that Spoonflower took of the fabric:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/spoonflower/12093381554/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/spoonflower/12093298883/

Recipe of the month: ‘Eggnog’ Cake

This is the first in a series of monthly recipes I’d like to share with you. As you may have read here before, I love baking, which means that many recipes here will probably be cakes, cookies, pies etc. Plus, this is the cookiecutter blog, so I better be sharing about baked goods!

I hope that those who end up trying the recipes to leave me a comment as to what could be improved, or if you enjoyed it. I’d also like to get an idea about what people like and dislike, all the way to how a recipe is written.

Today I’m presenting you with one version of a vegan ‘eggnog’ cake. Some health-food stores still have vegan eggnog from the holiday season in stock, even at a discount. I used “Almond Fresh Noel Nog”; here a quick overview of my impression of it:

Pluses:
*tastes close to the ‘real thing’ without the alcohol
*is soy-free

Minuses:
*colour is white as opposed to yellow
*texture is just like vegan milks, not thick

If there will be a next time, I will buy So Nice Nog because it is yellow and thicker, which matters in some recipes. I find that adding turmeric can give a cake a greenish tinge – careful when using turmeric in flour products!

Depending on what brand of eggnog you use, it may also be a good idea to add spices like nutmeg to the batter, as I would not add more than 150 ml of eggnog to the batter; it gets too liquid. But if you use eggnog to make your own yogurt and use that instead of the tofu, then you might get an extra-noggy result! You could also try condensing it by bringing it to a boil and simmering it (lid off) for an unknown amount of time. :)

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Here my recipe for Eggnog Cake (copyright Christine Witte):

200 g (1.5 cups) flour
1/2 t baking powder
1 pinch of salt
200 g (2 cups) silken tofu, blended smooth
150 g (3/4 cup) sugar
75 ml (1/4 cup + 1 T) oil
150 ml (a little less than 3/4 cup) vegan ‘eggnog’
1 t vanilla extract
For dusting: powdered sugar

Instructions:
Oil a baking form with approximately 1 litre volume. I used a bundt form with a diameter of 6.5” / 16 cm.

Preheat oven to 350º F / 180º C.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

In a larger bowl, combine the blended tofu, sugar, oil, eggnog and vanilla extract. Mix together with a hand-mixer.

Transfer flour mixture to the larger bowl and stir a bit with the mixer (to avoid a flour cloud). Then mix together for no more than 15 seconds until smooth.

Transfer batter into oiled cake form, tap several times on the counter (to settle the batter), and place into the hot oven. Bake for approximately 45 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool for 20 minutes on a cutting board. Then unmold cake by slamming the form hard on the plate or cutting board a few times (to prevent the cake from getting soggy). Once cool, cake can be dusted with powdered sugar just before serving.

Happy baking, everyone!

Utopia Animalia Magica – A show for and by animals!

Non-human animals, really.

Those of us who cringe at the thought of animals being forced to serve for human entertainment may sympathize with the sentiment behind this design. Bears with nose-rings forced to dance, tigers jumping through burning hoops, monkeys on bikes, or, in the case of magic shows, rabbits pulled out of hats by their ears (or in other ways) – with this one, I couldn’t resist reversing the roles. We’re all used to animals drawn in more or less ‘cutesy’ ways in designs, something I likely won’t stop anytime soon either. But animals running the show at the expense of humans (really only hinted at with Mr. Rabbit’s man in the hat – HIS man!) is uncommon, at least beyond the world of cartoons.

German Lebkuchen, Buttery Christmas Cookies & Cinnamon Stars

I made some traditional German Christmas-season treats I wanted to share with you: Elisenlebkuchen are a very common type of gingerbread in Germany but are made without ginger. They come coated with a sugar glaze or chocolate coating, sometimes plain. They are flourless, made with almonds and hazelnuts, candied orange and lemon, and ground clove, baked on a plain tasting wafer called ‘Oblate’ in German.

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Then there are the ‘buttery’ Christmas cut-out cookies, which are simply made of flour, butter (in my case Earth Balance margarine) and sugar. Adding rum extract is never a bad idea. They are then iced with a sugar coating; I added lemon rind to some of the icing. Next time I’ll try using coconut oil since I’m not crazy about margarine, whatever brand.

The cinnamon stars (Zimtsterne) I made a few months ago: again flourless with hazelnuts and almonds, orange rind and juice, sugar, and spices. I am including the recipe here, also published in this month’s Lifelines, the magazine of the Toronto Vegetarian Association. If you end up baking them yourself, I’d love to read your comment! Happy baking, Christmas or not!

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A happy birthday with cake & pizza!

Finally I get to another passion of mine: baking! Hence the name of this blog, which is supposed to be a pun. Why does ‘cookie cutter’ have to have a negative association when most people seem to like cookies? :) I like cakes even better, but calling the blog ‘cake cutter design’ would have probably been quite a stretch.

Until MATS, I was working on a baking book, which has since been sleeping in the depths of my computer. The course has caused me to change my direction a bit, but I’m not planning to give up on my book.

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On the happy occasion of my partner’s birthday, I baked two of my favourite cakes (and a pizza): chocolate cherry poundcake and Frankfurter Kranz, a German pastry originating in Frankfurt. The chocolate cake is inspired by the one my mom always made for my birthdays back in Germany. She always baked more than one cake but this one was the ‘regular’ that returned each year. Frankfurter Kranz I never even tasted until a few months ago when I veganized it, and its flavours and textures positively surprised me – shockingly tasty would be more accurate. I didn’t think I’d enjoy the buttercream-like frosting, but it’s not completely buttercream (secret!) which makes it taste more like cream cheese. The cake itself has a slight rum flavour and has a thin coating of red currant jam. Then the frosting sprinkled with candied almonds, topped with maraschino cherries – but since I don’t like their flavour and artificial ingredients I chose cranberries. The tartness contrasts well with the overall sweetness. OK, there are maraschino cherries out there that are free of fake colours and preservatives (I have only seen them at Whole Foods where I live) – but right now I don’t want to spend an arm and a leg for a specialty ingredient.

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Do you like to bake? What is your favourite birthday cake? Any baking plans for the holidays?

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