This and That.

Phew!

It as been a busy couple of weeks….

First, I could not find my mojo. I tried to find it, then I resigned myself to the state of things and just when with my lack of motivation. Although I did NOT go as far as lazing on the couch eating ice cream out of the tub while watching daytime TV. More like aimlessly wandering about without any real idea what to do and no creative spark whatsoever. I put it down to a post-holiday depression, change of season or that time of the month..

As it is, I had to pull my finger out regardless, as I was made Wedding Cake maker on short notice. You are right, I am a knitter and not a baker, but I am prone to occasional kitchen greatness, so there you go. But a wedding cake is a great honour and responsibility. And the request was for a raw/vegan cake no less. So I did.

The Looooove cake

After my initial panic and fretting, I got on with it and over the course of a day and a half, I had made several layers of delicious goodness. On the big day itself, I assembled it all, added berries and lovely rose petals, a sprinkle of coconut and voila! You have to trust me when I say that this cake is truly delectable, healthy (not low-cal however) and easy to make. You want the recipe you say? Well, here it is then:

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

Crust:

2 1/4 cup (225g) walnuts (or pecans)

1/3 cup (48g) Medjool Dates

1/4 cup (20g) Raw Cacao powder

1//4 cup (44g) Cacao nibs

pinch of sea salt

  1.  In a food processor, grind the nuts into a flour.
  2.  Add the dates, cacao powder, nibs and salt and  process until incorporated and the mix starts to stick together. Don’t over blend, you still want a bit of crunch!
  3. Reserve 1/4 cup of the crust for the topping.
  4. Spread the mixture evenly into a 23 cm springform or pie plate.
  5. Starting at the centre, press the mixture firmly and work your way out. Make it as even as possible.

Filling

3 cups (360g) Cashews, soaked for 2 hours

1 cup Almond Milk (I made my own)

3/4 cup Agave Nectar (you could use honey or apple juice concentrate)

1/4 cup lemon juice

2 tbsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup (30g) Lecithin powder

3/4 cup (164g) cacao butter, warmed to liquid

  1. Place the cashews, nut milk , agave, lemon juice and the vanilla into a high-powered blender (I got a Vitamix) and process until very smooth. Add the lecithin and cacao butter and blend again.
  2. Pour the filling into the crust
  3. Smooth using a spatula

I halved the mixture and blended half with one cup of frozen raspberries. You could also simply drop frozen berries/cherries into the mix once it’s in the cake tin and before setting in the fridge.

To make a chocolate cheesecake, simply add 1 teaspoon of cacao powder into the mix.

Sprinkle the reserved crust over the top and then leaving to set in the fridge for a couple of hours. You can also freeze the cake, just let it defrost before eating. For my wedding cake I made several layers without the crust, added less and less berries to the mix to make a gradient of pink and left the top white.

This cake is very rich and expensive (I got all the ingredients from our Organic/Health Food shop), so small serves is all you need. You can substitute the raw cacao butter for flavorless coconut oil and add more berries for a fruitier version. Or you could make half the quantity and top the cream with lots of fresh strawberries for a ‘custard’ fruit tart. The options are endless…..

So, after this creative cake making day, I felt a bit better. My mojo was slowly coming out of hiding. I have started pottering around the studio again. As always, a bit of tidying and reorganising always helps, and generally spills over to the house too.

Yesterday I spent the day cleaning out the pantry, filling open packets of this and that in jars and even making a pantry list….I know, desperate! But I am on a roll….pantry inventory, fridge inventory, weekly menu plan. The works! As they say…an organised mind needs an organised house.  Or something like that.

So with this renewed vigour, I got crocheting and knitting. I do like to have several things on the go, so here is a list of crafty boxed I ticked.

Hagi in Dream in Colour Classy

Hagi is a super easy and fun project. I knit this over the weekend and with Dream in Colour with Cashmere, this is a soft and squishy hat. I would love to make it with a drapey Alpaca blend too. Maybe with Lana d’oro, which is 50/50 Merino/Alpaca…

Then I finished off Sundry, a lovely big shawl by my new favourite designer Jennifer Dessau. Check her out, she has some lovely pattern out on Ravelry. I knit my Sundry in Brooklyn Tweed LOFT, which I didn’t think is the perfect match for this floaty pattern. I am still on the fence with this yarn. While I totally LOVE the colours of the range, I am not in love with the feel of it. Admittedly, it does soften after a soak and block, I am still not completely sold. I guess I am so used to the drape and lustre of other yarns like Madelinetosh or Malabrigo. I do like the rustic feel of LOFT and will keep searching for the right pattern. Next, I’ll try one of the many hats knitted up in it, I am sure this will win me over.

Nevertheless, I do like my Sundry.

Sundry

While there is still no official opening date for the shop, there is plenty to do in the lead up. For starters, I need lots of samples and bits and pieces made up. I am very grateful to a lovely crew for kindred spirits out there who is busily knitting away for me. The are making hats, shawls, cowls and fingerless mittens. And then there is the crochet contingent, whipping up coasters and even a blanket is in the pipeline. Did I say I was grateful? Well, beyond words and I can’t wait to see all the lovely stuff when it gets back to me.

And speaking of crochet, I simply had to give this hook another chance. Knitting is still my thing, but I am starting to get the hang of this crochet. I know how to, but it is still a bit harder on my wrists and fingers than knitting. And as I have noticed, I have no idea how to read crochet patterns. But hey, I do love a challenge and thanks to mr. google and all the clever ladies on YouTube I was on a roll …

So, first I had a play with something round.

A coaster in malabrigo worsted

After a bit of a peruse on Ravely and inspired by my online friend Laurie I just wanted to see for myself ….so I gave this obscure pattern a go and was totally smitten with the result. I mean, isn’t this little coaster just insanely cute. I love the departure from delicate to bold and funky. The colour just pops and turns this simple pattern into something cool….

I have always loved all the colours on Attic24‘s blog and her crochet prowess is legendary. While I choose ‘safe’ colours for myself, I adore her eclectic and fun blankets and granny squares and I think any space could do with a splash of colour. However, I do have commitment issues, so I am not going to settle on a blanket just yet. But after seeing all the gorgeous ripple blankets out there, I wanted to see what the fuss is all about.

After a few attempts, a total rip-out and rework, I think I finally got it. And so I keep hooking till this thing is the size of a cushion cover. I’d be chuffed if I can produce something useful out of all these hours of nutting things out.

So here is my Neat Ripple attempt….

Neat Ripples

But stop, this is not all….I went a step further and after hours of working with this sturdy ripple thingy, I felt like something delicate. And since I got a pretty wooden crochet hook with Molly Makes, and had some pretty grey merino lace lying around, I tried this.

Crown Surround

Unblocked, and not perfect. But I love it! Don’t you just love the feeling when you mastered a new skill? Like changing the wheels of a car? Using an angle grinder? Crocheting a doily? Seriously, looking at doilies, it never occurred to me that I could do something this delicate and intricate and time-consuming. But I did! I think I might frame it…..

Pattern is called Crown Surround and I used Abulita Baby Lace for it. Delicate and soft. Maybe I make another one?

So there you go. Out of a murky, mojoless week come quite surprising things…

How has your week been? 

Have you surprised yourself lately? Have you learned something new? 

Have you been down lately? Or are you on a high at the moment? 

And how do you pull yourself out of the ditch?

Be well,

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5 thoughts on “This and That.

  1. Alex, I get awfully down after a trip overseas… back to everyday shlamoush of lunchboxes, driving kids everywhere, never ending laundry, dishes, cooking and grocery shopping, tidying and cheering up… and that is just the basics, the everyday tapestry, add to that paid work and some community volunteering and on top of that your OWN social life… ugh. My cure to being down is clearly knitting… I just tell the world I am awfully busy, no time at all, no, sorry… I switch on radio national and make a swatch or start a new project. Sigh.

  2. That is one of the most beautiful cakes I have seen since I went vegan 6.5 years ago, I can just ‘taste’ it. I can just imagine the berry soaked taste with the creaminess… this recipe is saved! Thank you!

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