New Years Eve visit to Mister Nice Guy’s Bake Shop

Yep, another visit to Mister Nice Guy’s Bake Shop!  Because today is New Years Eve and well, they had the babkas.  And I’ve always wanted to try a babka ever since I saw that Seinfeld babka episode years ago.  And if I didn’t go and try the babka I’d be wearing this face for all of 2013, because my grandmother used to say that whatever face you made on New Years Eve would stay with you for the following year:

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On our way to the bake shop:

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I enjoyed watching the animated conversation of this woman and man, who appeared to be neighbours.  I could make out a little of their conversation in Italian.  I love where I live, we have a great community of senior citizens with marvellous stories to tell.  I thought this woman was adorable in her knee high pantyhose.  Lame hack attempt at an artsy photo:

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Union Road, Ascot Vale.  I love the older buildings:

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Arthur got his usual cinnamon bun.  I asked if he’d ever get sick of these and he said NO WAY.  Clearly, he won’t get sick of sticking his fork in the bun when I’m taking photos.  He said today’s cinnamon bun “is one thousand billion out of 100, which is technically not correct but these are really good and deserve an impossible rating”:

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And I tried the chocolate babka (yum!):

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Demolition!  With finesse:

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Our view:

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On the way home we stopped in at the library.  Arthur insisted I take a photo of the book he was reading:
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The weather was gorgeous.  When we got home we just relaxed a bit and Arthur got stuck in to his library books.  He saved some of his cinnamon bun for DeeW.

We’ll spend a quiet new years eve at home.  I have to prepare something for dessert as we’re heading to lunch tomorrow.  I think I’ll make some chocolate cashew cream.  I’m also hoping to make a Vasilopita.  Stay tuned if you want to know what that is  🙂

Have a great new years, wherever you are!

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I previously wrote about Mister Nice Guy’s Bake Shop here and here.

Mister Nice Guy’s Bake Shop is located at 151 Union Road, Ascot Vale and very close to public transport.  Here is their stockists web page:

http://www.misterniceguy.com.au/stockists/

Bribery and a visit to Mister Nice Guy’s Bake Shop

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m the only vegan in my family and I’m gradually changing over all the food in the house to vegan.  Anything I prepare is vegan.  Arthur has a very limited diet in terms of what he eats due to sensitivities based around the visual, smells and textures of foods.  He prefers bland foods for his main meals although he has surprised me now and then with eating things I’ve made which I could have sworn he’d run away from.

Arthur has eczema that without a doubt is related to what he eats, based on the before-and-after appearance of his skin.  Without getting in to detail,  it’s not a simple case of chucking everything out and me saying “right that’s it, you’re not eating dairy any more”.  How I wish it were, but that’s not the reality for my family.

So I have to resort to bribery and corruption.  Yesterday Arthur’s skin was the worst I’ve seen it for a while so I spoke to him again about reactions to what we eat.  I could see he was starting to get upset at the whole idea of “no more toasted cheese sandwiches” (he hates vegan cheeze).  So I said I’d give him $20 if he doesn’t have dairy at all for five weeks.  He raised an eyebrow and said it’s worth more than $20.  I said $25, you can have the $25 in a lump sum at the end or $5 a week.  He opted for the $25.  Tell a mulleted friend it’s easy money:

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Let me tell you that I didn’t think he’d go for this at all, because he is very emotionally attached to his favourite things and that includes food.  Today he woke up and said “what can I have for breakfast that doesn’t have dairy?”  This is super massive news in my house, even if it does involve a pay off.

When the kids are working on some kind of big change, we like to let them know we appreciate it and we often mark it with a special occassion.  When Arthur got his glasses, we had a glasses party.  Today’s special occassion was “Going Dairy Free for Five Weeks” and what better place to celebrate than Mister Nice Guy’s Bake Shop!  Arthur has been asking to go back because he loves the cinnamon buns.

We chose a good day to go because the lovely woman behind the counter remembered us and asked Arthur if he’d like the largest cinnamon bun  🙂  He was mighty impressed.  We also used this as a good opportunity to remind the kids that their behaviour influences how others remember them and that we can make their memories of us positive or negative.

So Arthur got his “super delicious” cinnamon bun again, but couldn’t finish it as he’d eaten breakfast a short while before:

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I went for the baked cheesecake.  This was soooooo good.  I’m sitting here trying to think of what more I can say about it but all that comes to mind is “yummmm”.  And I want to give it the credit it deserves by talking about the perfect crust and the juuust right filling:

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Mister Nice Guy Lucas recommend the chai he makes and I opted for hazelnut milk.  I love chai and I love hazelnuts but I’ve never combined the two.  The combination of flavours in this hazelnut milk chai were spot on.  Sometimes chai can be a little hit or miss, like too much of this or too little of that.  Not so for  Mister Nice Guy’s chai, for me it was just right:

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DeeW got the Pink Lemonade cupcake and Husband got the Peppermint Patty cupcake.  They think Mr Nice Guy’s cupcakes are the best ones ever.

I also had a piece of the walnut brownies available to taste.  I’ve never liked brownies much but these were pleasantly lighter than others I’ve tried over the years:

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Squeee at the little pink oven set!  I was bidding on an orange 70s version on eBay recently and was devastated when I lost:

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Arthur’s review:  “my cinnamon bun was 100 out of 100 again.  So the same as last time. That still means it is very good and both times it was so delicious.  Actually I think today was a bit better because the lady gave me the biggest one.  It tasted delicious like last week.”

I blogged about last week’s visit to Mister Nice Guy’s Bake Shop here.

Mister Nice Guy’s Bake Shop is located at 151 Union Road, Ascot Vale and very close to public transport.  Here is their stockists web page:

http://www.misterniceguy.com.au/stockists/

A vegan Christmas ‘stollen’

This year I decided to make a vegan Christmas stollen.  According to Wikipedia, a stollen is “a fruit cake containing dried fruit and often marzipan and covered with sugar, powdered sugar or icing sugar.  The cake is usually made with chopped candied fruit and/or dried fruit, nuts and spices.  Stollen is a traditional German cake, usually eaten during the Christmas season”.

I lived in Amsterdam for a few years and my sister in law was living in Berlin.  We went to visit her near Christmas time once, and I think I may have eaten too much of the stollen she had.  Years later I made my own, which involed three 250g blocks of butter and lots of multiple bakes with butter basting.

So this was the year I decided to make a vegan version.  My friend sent me the link to this recipe: http://tastykitchen.com/recipes/breads/christmas-stollen/  It looked easy enough so I decided to go ahead with it.

All I had was the half the amount of chocolate chips listed, and white chocolate at that.  I also ran out of sliced almonds so I had to chop some by hand.  Everything else was done following the recipe.

I did run in to some trouble when I was confused about where to add the yeast mixture.  There is a part of the recipe that says to add in the liquids, I took this to mean the yeast mix.  So if you are making this recipe, be sure to read through it a few times, noting where to add the ingredients.

Okay, so I prepared the dough before bedtime then left in the fridge overnight.  It had doubled in size:

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The dough gets rolled out then I sprinkled it with the nuts-choc mixture:

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Rolled it up:

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Then made a circle with it, joining the ends together, and snipped all the way around.  Yes, it’s slightly bigger on one side:

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Left it to rise again for a couple of hours.  The ‘slightly bigger on one side’ is more noticeable:

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Then the baking is done!

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The second coating with icing sugar and it’s ready to serve.   Let’s ignore the fact that it’s bigger on one side:

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Ta-da!

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Next time I will add lots more dried fruit and nuts in the correct fashion.  I don’t think the chocolate chips are necessary.

This is definitely more a sweet bread than a stollen. The stollens I’ve had are all firmer and not ‘light’ and they’re heavier on the dried fruit and nuts.  Still, this was a lovely recipe and the stale leftovers would make a great french toast or bread and vegan-butter pudding.  When I make it again, I will increase the amount of cranberries and add a selection of chopped nuts and fruit.  I’ll also divide the dough in half to make two to give as gifts.

I’ll be making them again tomorrow.  I’ll google marizpan recipes now to see if I can add a strip of marzipan through the centre.

Nom!

Mulled wine on Happy-25th-of-December

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 The weather was fantastic yesterday (Christmas Day)– sunny but not hot and still ‘cool’ enough for the hot beverages.  I saw a cousin I haven’t seen since she was 12.  She’s now a towering 18 year old and it made me think just how quickly time does fly and how we need to just slow down and smell the roses more often.

I did plan on making pancakes and waffles for Christmas breakfast based on family requests, but instead decided to serve the stollen I made.  I made fairy bread and fresh juice in the blender and we had some shortbread on the table as a special Christmas treat.  Dumb idea.  Do you think they (Husband included) touched any of the healthy fruits or the stollen?

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Because we’re geeks:

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Lunch was at my mum and dad’s house.  I’m the only vegan in the family and mum had lots of vegan options.  It’s funny because she always makes these dishes, regardless of a vegan being present.  She made stuffed vine leaves (dolmades), fried eggplant and a marinated fried zucchini.  For my sister, who is cutting out meat, mum made some eggplant rolls which I was told were delicious (they contained egg and feta).  Mum and I will work together to veganise this recipe:

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On my plate I added some roast potatoes and sweet potato.  I also brought along some leftover plain basmati rice with a mock meat rendang with green beans and potato.  It’s the first time I’ve had a curry at Christmas as our foods are always Greek or Greek influenced:

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I took along strawberries and a chocolate cashew cream for dessert but forgot to take a photo.  I did however photograph the mulled wine!

We used three bottles of a vegan red wine, about 5 oranges juiced, zest of 1 orange, 3 cinnamon sticks, a tablespoon of cloves, half a box of sugar cubes and over proof rum:

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First we put the cloves in a bit of vodka and let it sit about an hour.  We forgot to bring the star anise, if we did that would have gone in to the vodka too.  This was the first year Husband decided to add vodka:

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In the pot we put the wine, orange juice and zest, cinnamon quills and the vodka-cloves combination.  Turn the heat to low.  [Be careful not to let it boil or even simmer too much]. Then on top of the pot we put a special metal plate (the name escapes me… but it’s a long German name) designed for making gluhwein.  We stacked sugar cubes on the metal plate.  When we lived in Europe we’d buy sugar in a large cone shape but in Australia all I have found are cubes:

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You pour rum over the sugar cubes then set the cubes alight.  As the sugar melts and caramelises, it drips down in to the pot.  You can see the flames in the photo below:

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Serve!
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We had a great day and it’s always good to see my relatives who come down from Queensland.  The biggest hit in terms of gifts was DeeW’s karaoke CD player.  My uncle was channeling his inner Sinatra meets Johnny Cash.

Next year we are going to set a challenge when it comes to present buying for eachother.  The gift you give must either be handmade, or come from a secondhand store.  Now that’s a challenge I love!

I’m off to stuff myself on leftovers now, mum gave me a big pile of dolmades and they’re calling meee.  See you again soon  🙂

Christmas/Newtonmas Eve snapshots

The thermostat reached 39C (102.2F) yesterday and today I woke to a warm morning, blustery winds and my washing line, with washing, on the ground.  I had to do some baking today and prepare Christmas goodies for family.  Fortunately the weather cooled fairly quickly.

Even on hot days I still start my day with a cup of tea.  Today’s selection was chai flavoured green tea in my 90c Savers cup:

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The ‘Arthur’ Christmas special was on this afternoon:

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The latest issue of Vegan Health & Fitness arrived:

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I had to snip some of our grapevine leaves so my mum can make Greek stuffed vine leaves.  All helpers must wear monster slippers:

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Roasting nuts to give out as little gifts but they taste burnt even though they’re not, sigh:

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A Christmas lights display at one of the houses in my neighbourhood:

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A Christmas Eve supper of vegan sausages (the Linda McCartney ones) and veg (not shown), followed by stollen I made today (recipe up soon).  The plates are part of a bulk lot of vintage dinnerware I picked up cheap.  I have the matching glasses for the old jug (found at Savers, my grandma had one of these) but I decided on the Ikea Christmas glasses instead.  Because, you know, I’m dreaming of a white Christmas:

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Treats out for Santa Claus and the reindeer.  DeeW is really in to the whole Santa thing.  Arthur, not at all.  The conversation between them was something like “DeeW, Santa Claus DOES NOT EXIST.  I don’t understand how you could believe that rubbish”.  “Well my brother, that’s because you are stupid and your brain is the size of a pea”.  Noice:

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I’m pooped.  It was a very late night last night assembling presents, getting stuff together and watching the last half of ‘Bella Swan and the Huntsman’ on dvd.  Tonight we need to finish off the assembly work and do some tidying up.  It’s a big day tomorrow and I hope to be home before dinner time so we can all unwind and enjoy a quiet evening.

Have a wonderful day/night everyone and a fantastic Christmas/Newtonmas/Bradymas!

Brady Christmas!