Kevin is a cookie lover and I guess I am too. This week, I put a big glass jar next to the door and I think it tempts the both of us to grab a cookie every morning on our way out. I think we all need something sweet to put in our pocket as we head out the door in the morning, whether that’s a letter from a loved one, a kiss or a chocolate chip cookie. Something familiar to greet the day, which says – today, we’re gonna make it.
As a kid, I remember this time as the season for celebrations. In my family, there are seven different birthdays in November, an anniversary in early December, Christmas, and my sister’s birthday in January. Over the next three months there are celebrations of life, marriage, family and love. As a kid, my siblings and all of our cousins would stay with our grandparents for the holiday season. We would get into all kinds of trouble and spend most of our days running wild.
My grandma was a florist at the time. Somehow, she understood the secret part of holidays – from cuddling on the couch to laughing together. My great grandma used to dip chocolate in San Jose and as we got older she would teach us how to temper chocolate ourselves. She told us stories about moving across the country during the Great Depression from Oklahoma to California, working in the fields and teaching in a one room school house. She was the ultimate storyteller. The kind of person who can make you feel as though you are standing in the school house with her or smell the dry chalkboards and Oklahoma during harvest.
I’ve been waking up to all the gifts people have packed in my pockets to make it through this journey. My sister sent me pictures from our great grandparents estate sale. In one of the photos, you could see the shadow of her and my nephew standing in the field where we used to play as kids. My sister has always been my other half. If you look at my handwriting next to my sister’s they are almost identical, except her’s is admittedly better.
In our tiny apartment tucked away in the city, small gifts are abundant, from cards to cake pans. This morning, a small mirror that my friend picked up from me in Mexico fell out of my bag, I used the muffin pan Kevin bought for me for my birthday and I baked with all the creativity of my grandma and my great grandma. All these tiny gifts, playing their part in the same orchestra – we’re gonna make it, we’re gonna make it, we’re gonna make it.
– Spiced Apple-Walnut Muffins –
In the spirit of small gifts and the holiday season, The Harvard Common Press sent me an amazing new vegan cookbook called Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson. Luckily, they provided an extra copy to giveaway to one of you lucky folks. I am pretty amazed by this cookbook, with over 425 vegan recipes, international cuisine and some of basic cooking techniques for the novice to experienced vegan chef. I’m kind of in love with HCP right now, because they reached out to a few other Boston-based bloggers for giveaways. Check out this delicious Rosemary-Blueberry Sauce from The Vegetarian Baker + a chance to get a copy of Herbavoracious, as well as this Apple Cranberry Pie w/ Orange Recipe + cookbook giveaway from Le Jus D’Orange. Leave a comment about your favorite vegan baked good or follow me on Instagram for a chance to get a free copy of The Vegan Planet! I will randomly choose one winner in the next week!
1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and grated or 1 cup unsweetened apple sauce
3/4 cup almond milk or nondairy milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbs sunflower oil
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat the over to 400°F. Lightly oil a standard muffin pan and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the apple, nondairy milk, sugar, and oil and blend until smooth. Set aside.
In a medium-size bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and allspice. Using a few swift strokes, mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just blended. Fold in the walnuts, then transfer the batter to the prepared pan, filling the cups about two-thirds full.
Bake on the center oven rack until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the muffin comes out clean, about 20-30 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve warm.
p.s. I also chose to leave off the all-spice and just go with cinnamon. If you aren’t a huge fan of holiday flavors I recommend this for a sweet and delicious cinnamon flavor!