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November, 2009

  1. Delicious Vegan Oatmeal Cookies (You don’t have to tell anyone they’re Vegan!)

    November 19, 2009 by lolkitty: Kaela

    I started making vegan cookies years ago since my brother was vegan, we started cooking vegan so we all could eat the same goodies.  We used to tease Thomas saying that “vegan deserts are just sad.”  But these vegan cookies (and others I’ll post as I make them, like my famous Snickerdoodles) are so good you can “omit” the fact that they’re Vegan to your friends and family who would otherwise not want them, and no one will be the wiser!

    Many recipes can be adapted to be vegan without losing out on flavor, and this is definitely one of them!  I adapted the classic “Vanishing Oatmeal Cookies” recipe from the Quaker Oats box as follows.  The water mixed with baking powder was my egg replacement, and Earth Balance my butter replacement, it’s the best butter substitute: EVER. I like it better than real butter.

    Vegan Oatmeal Cookies

    Vegan Vanishing Oatmeal Cookies:

    1/2 lb. (2 sticks) Earth Balance (softened, about half a tub.)
    1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
    1/2 cup granulated sugar
    1/3 cup water mixed with 1 tsp baking powder
    1 tsp. vanilla
    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    1 tsp. baking soda
    1 tsp. cinnamon
    1/2 tsp. salt (optional)
    3 cups Quaker Oats (old-fashioned, quick oats are no good.)
    1 cup raisins (next time I’m doing half dried cranberries!)

    Heat oven to 350°F.

    Beat together Earth Balance and sugars until creamy. Add water & baking powder mix and vanilla; beat well.

    Whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; stir together until no streaks remain.

    Stir this into the butter mixture. Stir in oats and raisins; mix well.

    Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet.

    Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.

    Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet; remove to wire rack.

    Makes about 4 dozen (makes a LOT of cookies).

    Best when served right out of the oven :)  You might want to make these with some company!  Also, I got to use some of my favorite old-timey pieces to show off the cookies: my favorite cake tin in Kromex!

    Vegan Oatmeal Cookies in Vintage Kromex

    I have almost the entire Kromex set, one of my 50’s housewife weaknesses.

    I’ve been trying to collect the entire set for years and I think I’m only missing a couple pieces like a bread box and rice canister :)

    Hope these cookies turn out good for you! Do let me know! Especially if you trick non-vegan sympathizers with this one!

    xoxo

    Kaela

    Syndicated from www.LOLKITTY.info


  2. Vestigial organs, moth-erflies, and bad engineering.

    November 6, 2009 by lolkitty: Kaela

    I frequently mull over the internet taking in new information.  With Chris being a Wikipedia junkie, it’s needless to say, we have a lot to talk about.  The other day I was hit hard by the concept of “vestigial.”  Organs, genes, or whatever, I think understanding the concept of vestigial parts of our bodies is in some ways consoling and in other ways infuriating.  It sunk in the other day when I heard it referring to some odd genes and to our appendix.  Since I was in maybe first grade, I remember hearing that “the appendix is just a useless organ, it’s just there, sometimes it ruptures and kills people and that’s just the way it is.”  I was always bothered by the idea of an appendix, sort of like how we just accept that the way cats pur is just a mystery.  Then when I suppose the idea of vestigial organs and the appendix mixed, I thought, “why didn’t they just tell us school kids that it was a vestigial organ and that’s why it’s so useless.”

    But as I said, it’s only half consoling.  I have to think that if that’s the way it is, it’s easy to accept, since that’s how most things are.  That’s why we have such terrible genetic diseases and why we are susceptible in ways that are unfortunate.

    Nature is like that, it’s a beautiful disaster.

    We have a hoard of moths around our house that are crowding the town right now.  They do that every few years, making clouds in front of your headlights at night, and for a very brief season before going the way of the may flies.
    These moths are really charming little things that look just like butterflies but without the colourful patterns.  Their wings stand straight up like little sails, just like a monarch would,  pointing their foreboding mock-eyes to the world.  When I see them, I say to myself, “oh, another moth-er-fly.”  After hearing Richard Dawkins once talk about “sloths” pronouncing it with a long “o” sound, I make myself laugh by calling them “moth-er-flies” with a long “o” like some sarcastic biologist.  They are the sort of things that make me think Nature is lovely, even dull grey moth-er-flies.

    But then I still have nagging frustrations with genetic disorders.  Even just one or two genes that do the wrong thing, and you can suffer all your life.  Even with mild genetic problems, there is nothing we can do but treat the symptoms.  Why is there childhood cancer?  Why is birth so traumatic?  Why do so many things have to die, just for there to be life?  Unfortunately for the natural world, survival is really the framework of the old joke: You don’t have to run faster than the bear, just faster than your friends.   And it’s true.

    This video is a good example of how clunky life is.  Select for one specific task and give the critter some basic building blocks for it’s body and look how absurd these virtual critters can be, but still be technically successful.

    Unfortunately for humans, we can sit there and think about how crazy this is.  Being self-aware is also a mixed blessing.  Just looking at those little creatures, they look like they’re suffering. Look at how much they struggle to be best at the one assigned task.  This makes me want to rant and rave about how cool I think it would be for humans to be cyberized. I’ll probably never see the day.  Though there are some cool things happening in science right now, I would still reserve this for another post.

    My main reason for focusing on this is the burden just women have with respect to bad design from evolution.  I’m the kind of person who’s a bit like a hot house flower when it comes to being fragile and temperamental.  I always seem to be getting sick with something, and it can all be chalked up to bad engineering.

    But Nature doesn’t have it all wrong, I think it went right making a cute peanut powered companion of mine, Artie.  But I do think that the philosophies we have, the way we live life, and our outlook on everything is based on our understanding that we have to struggle to find success.  There is no other way to be successful on this planet, because it’s the foundations of our reality.

    Nobody can win without making others fail, and it’s all we can do to make it so that we aren’t the ones doing the failing.


  3. Vintage Reproduction Faux Bakelite

    November 4, 2009 by lolkitty: Kaela

    I had one of those days where my desire to be creative was overwhelming.

    Chris bought me this darling piece of Bakelite that is a simple but charming tiki head purse clasp.  I really loved it, and when I look at all the great bakelite pieces out there, I think it’s a shame that they are so expensive and hard to find.

    So I did what I always do when authentic vintage pieces aren’t as accessible as I’d like: I made vintage.

    Faux Bakelite Tiki Heads for sale now!

    Faux Bakelite Tiki Heads for sale now!

    I took some polymer clay that I’ve had some fun with recently making cute old-fashioned kind of treat charms, and tried my hand at making these little guys.

    I couldn’t get close enough to the face with my own hands, working with this new medium was a little cumbersome.  I do think it has a great deal of flexibility and I would like to do many, many more pieces like this.  I made a mold from the clay itself and baked it.  I made two faces and spent about an hour on them each getting the details just right.

    After putting on the glaze I was very satisfied with these pieces.  I think there’s a lot of potential for these to be a star piece in vintage inspired wardrobes where real bakelite is just not practical.  For one thing, when you wear real Bakelite, it makes you smell like formaldehyde, and the bangles can stain your skin! Yuck!  I’m not sure if polymer clay is sturdy enough to be a bangle, but this is definitely my next project, among a couple other Bakelite pieces I have saved photos of in the hopes of being able to recreate them one day.

    Hope you enjoyed them!  They’re for sale at Lipstick Vogue or my etsy store.

    xoxo
    -Kaela


  4. How we trick ourselves, mortality, confirmation bias, and being home alone.

    November 3, 2009 by lolkitty: Kaela

    In the spooky Autumnal atmosphere of Wrightwood and this creeky, tiny house, I find myself home alone and up late nights because of my Chris’ new graveyard shift schedule.  To be perfectly clear, I do not believe it ghosts, spirits, or anything supernatural.  However, I am one of the easiest people to scare, and being alone at night brings it out in me.

    Even the thought of ghosts when I’m home alone at night like this makes my hair raise.  Our resident mouse, Mickey, causes some noise that spooks me, but nothing like the concept of ghosts.

    I had a childhood friend, Nicole, that was told not to play with me because I “believed in ghosts.”  Unfortunately for me, I never really did, but I always very much wanted to believe, so I would try to find out for myself.  Nicole and I would walk the halls on sleepovers with flashlights and cameras trying to catch something.  I truly want to discover what there might be out there: but I suppose I never did find anything and my suspicions never went away.

    I think that it’s very easy for people to believe in ghosts.  We’re very social creatures by nature, and when we hear or see something we can’t identify, we are more likely to visualize a face or a person where there isn’t one.  Our brains are just wired to see faces. It’s really been nagging at me that I feel so inclined to be spooked by “ghost” feelings.  Especially being such a skeptic (with exceptions to be pretty gullible in trusting in people). I think by now I have a feeling for how my mind observes things, and it does seek out explanations that are human based.

    Chris’ mom passed away recently, I was living there around that time.  I remember very soon after he lost his mom, his Aunt Judi came to be with them. It was a very sad time, in a way that the feeling just hangs in the air.  I suppose this is where my mind’s susceptibility comes in, because I was so empathetic to this terrible sadness and helplessness of the whole situation.  One night, I fell asleep while Judi and Chris’ dad were talking, and started dreaming about Chris’ mom, Jody.  Probably because of the way American culture views ghosts, my dream reflected the “unfinished business” of a soul stuck in this world (not something I’d think of Jody, but just how my mind was putting the situation together), though there were a lot of complicated elements of the dream that could go into too much detail. (Not believing in supernatural, I don’t usually give much weight to dreams, but the fact that it’s what our brains do with their down time is important enough to note, especially when they have significant effects on us).  I distinctly felt that she was still there with us, and half way between dreaming and waking I heard Judi’s voice, thinking it was Jody’s. By the time I was fully awake, I realized the reality of the situation, that she wasn’t really there, and that my mind was so deceived, I wept.  I can’t even imagine what his family was going through, what terrible processes of the mind and heart a person must surmount when losing someone like Jody.  Our entire town grieved, even I heard about it everywhere I went.  To me, at least to my logical senses, that’s the best we can hope for as far as immortality: being remembered.

    Even months later, we were saying how the unseasonal snows were Jody’s doing. Chris being even more of a skeptic than me, I was surprised that he felt like that, too.  I remember walking the dark halls in Chris’ house thinking, “I hope Jody thinks I’m good for her son” as though she was over my shoulder scrutinizing me. Sometimes I still wonder what my Grandmother, Vivian, would think seeing me do this or that. It’s an impossible habit to break.  It’s so human to have simply the concept of a person as much the reality as them existing in the flesh.  Why is this? Are there studies on this? I feel like I have to know.

    Especially what is nagging at me is the concept of a stranger ghost.  Someone we don’t know that’s there just to go “boo!” And hide in the shadows.  Why am I so frightened of the dark and of bumps in the night?  I am a boyfriend described “militant atheist.”  I guess that means I come off too strong in bashing creationism. But I should be level headed enough to dismiss the concept of a ghost or spirit, right?

    I just saw a really great video on “Confirmation Bias” on YouTube that made me think to post a blog about this, and also that I’m so scared for no reason.  Our culture has a confirmation bias of the supernatural.  There’s not a stitch of doubt that we’re all about anything that’s unproven by science. We love ghosts, chupacabra, homeopathy, feng shui, and anything else not approved by the FDA.  Science is viewed as the spoil-sport, that comes in and tells you how the magic trick is done right as you’re being delighted in the mystery of it.  Perhaps it is simply a fascination with the unknown that is strong enough to let us trick ourselves.  I think this is really an issue of psychology.

    Now that confirmation bias I was talking about, there is a frighteningly powerful technology that’s making it even more widespread:  The Internet.  There are a host of ridiculous misinformation sources like: creationwiki, HIV/AIDS conspiracy, or even these wackjob conspiracy theorists.  Now people who are suspicious of something we all know is legitimate can have their misinformed views reinforced until they are mindless drones of the people who start these messes.  Our minds are very powerful at adapting to the circumstances.  We are inclined to trust authority figures and most importantly, popular belief.  If everyone says there is an afterlife, that there is a grey area to this afterlife, and that they themselves have personal experiences with it, it is a hard thing to completely remove from your own reality.  I myself cannot do it.

    Superstition is another example of this.  I was a very superstitious little girl, always counting things in even numbers and doing things the lucky way, without exception.  I grew out of these tendencies for the most part, but I still have secret lucky items that I’ll put in my purse for a job interview, or such.  I find myself thinking, “this is so silly” and almost breaking the habit, but going back and saying “well, it couldn’t hurt!”  Or even thinking how the concept of having something lucky is like a placebo, and even though I know I’m using a placebo of lucky superstition, I can still benefit from it…… I know, it’s crazy.  But it’s better than giving in to the superstition all the way, right?

    The Amazing Randi is one of my favorite celebrities.  Coming from a completely unscientific background, he comes from the background of tricking people.  Since one of his main missions has been to teach people how they can be tricked, I’ve been following his media appearances closely in the past year or so, trying to learn from what fools people, especially myself.  I really think that being superstitious, being creationists, being gullible, or letting our cognitive functions get hijacked for misuse is a real problem that we have to overcome as a society.  Believing in innocent tricks, like Randi says, is actually dangerous because it leads us to believe in larger “magic tricks” that can get us into much worse trouble (like cults, or Nigerian business men).

    My point is this: I spend a lot of effort and thought in my life to try to be a more rational and inquisitive thinker.  It’s not easy, for certain.  I love the lure of mystery like anyone else, but more than mystery, I love discovery.  I love when scientists find new evidence that challenges current beliefs.  One of the best ways to enjoy that kind of discovery is in myself.  Why is the status quo as it is?  How can it be different? And to what ends?

    The small morsel of reality that we savor with our limited perception is more spectacular than we can imagine.  I think Carl Sagan, my hero, said it best…

    It seems to me what is called for is an exquisite balance between two conflicting needs: the most skeptical scrutiny of all hypotheses that are served up to us and at the same time a great openness to new ideas … If you are only skeptical, then no new ideas make it through to you … On the other hand, if you are open to the point of gullibility and have not an ounce of skeptical sense in you, then you cannot distinguish the useful ideas from the worthless ones.


  5. Fresh Seasonal Dish: Cranberry Oatmeal

    November 1, 2009 by lolkitty: Kaela

    Since my last blog post about food seemed to be more of a hit than my other posts, I decided I’d keep adding new recipes as I tried them or invented them.  This was one of those “what’s around” dishes.

    Ingredients:

    Handful of fresh cranberries
    About 1 serving of Oatmeal
    Dash of sugar
    Enough water to cover the oats in the bowl
    Soymilk

    I took some rolled oats (none of that instant oatmeal, the regular stuff only takes 2 minutes and taste way better), put the oats in a bowl and put a handful of fresh cranberries on top. Sprinkle about a tbsp of sugar on top and pop in the microwave for 2 minutes.

    Most of the cranberries will pop when it’s done.  Pour in a dash of soymilk and stir it up.  It’s very flavorful and good to warm you up!

    Voila!  I could eat this stuff all day!

    Mmm, Cranberries!

    Mmm, Cranberries!

    The best thing is that this dish is not only unbelievably delicious but it’s also really healthy for you!
    The oatmeal is full of fiber, and the cranberries are full of vitamins and antioxidants.  I always try different ways to make oatmeal taste good and so far I think that this by far beats them all.
    Unlike other berries, cranberries stay more firm and true to their flavor in oatmeal.  Plus, they’re very tart, but mixed into just a tiny bit of sugar, they sweeten up to a really rich flavor.
    I’m the kind of girl who grew up never, ever, had canned cranberry sauce.  Cranberries are one of my favorite foods.  So I’ll share with you may cranberry recipe adventures this season.

    Enjoy!

    xoxo

    Kaela