"A commonplace book is what a provident poet cannot subsist without, for this proverbial reason, that “great wits have short memories:” and whereas, on the other hand, poets, being liars by profession, ought to have good memories; to reconcile these, a book of this sort, is in the nature of a supplemental memory, or a record of what occurs remarkable in every day’s reading or conversation." - Jonathan Swift, "A Letter of Advice to a Young Poet"

Sunday, February 3, 2013

January Things

Food: Vegan Baking

I'm not vegan, or even vegetarian, but I am from California, and I know how amazing vegan food can be, especially vegan cookies. So, when I find myself without an egg or the desire to walk through the cold to buy one at the corner store, I don't give up on satisfying my craving for some baked goods. This has happened to me twice over the last month, resulting in one less successful and one more successful foray into vegan baking.

My first try was to make oatmeal cookies using olive oil. I think some kind of vegetable oil would have been a better choice, because they were very dense and very olive-oil-flavored - not terrible, but odd. They were pretty good with some dates on the side and a mug of chai tea, but I wouldn't make them again, nor did I share them with anyone. Usually I leave out a few cookies for my housemates when I bake, but after tasting these, I quickly tucked them all away in my cupboard so that no one would lose confidence in my baking skills.

However, this weekend, I tried this recipe for vegan muffins, which uses avocado and peanut butter to give moisture and bind the batter together. The recipe also calls for cocoa powder and chocolate chips, but I didn't have any so I made it sans. I was really doubtful when I took a look at the greenish-brown mixture of mashed avocadoes, peanut butter, and water with vinegar (to keep the avocados from turning brown, I think), but when I mixed that with flour, etc., it got a lot more appetizing. The batter rose absolutely beautifully in the oven and came out of the muffin tins like a dream.

This time, I did leave out some samples on a plate for my housemates, and today they've all reported back that they taste weird but delicious. I guess that's a compliment? I'm pretty happy with them. When they came out of the oven, they were super gooey inside, and I almost put them back in to bake more, but today they're perfectly moist, and the avocado kind of makes it taste fresh and summery.

Entertainment: MUBI

Such a great discovery. I got a special deal on my first few months membership through another membership I have (one of those complicated promotional chains of events), and I really love it. Mubi is a curated video streaming site, like Netflix, but instead of having all the movies up on the site at once, they post one movie day and leave it up for 30 days, so there's only ever 30 movies to choose from at a time. This is a godsend for someone who hates making decisions. The best part is that the movies they pick are very diverse, from chick flicks to political documentaries, and each one comes with a little blurb about why they chose it. I definitely recommend it.
N.B. I don't know if you can watch the movies from outside the U.K., or if it's universal. You just have to try it out I guess.

Fashion: Two words: casual and warm

I do love getting dressed up, but something about the quiet rhythms of student life and the cold have made me slip into a routine of casual clothing. Last night I actually wore a fleece instead of a sweater to go over to a friend's house (shocking, I know). I've also been having a lot of lazy study days at home, which have made me get creative with comfortable clothes that aren't pajamas. However, I still dream about the summer clothes hanging in my closet, waiting to be taken out again.

In other fashion news, I've started my second knitting project - a hat. We'll see how it goes!

Did you make any discoveries last month? Eat anything good? See any great movies? Let me know your recommendations in the comments please!

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