Life · Writings

Working Out and Working Shit Out.

 

Back from the gym. Because, man, I’m to trying to get my life together.

When I say “life” I mostly mean going a diet, and when I say “together” I mean sticking to a diet. I’m talking about eating healthier, drinking a lot of (and only) water, cutting out sugar, and more than anything exercising. Because when I was younger, I was pretty active and energetic. I loved dancing more than anything and though I wouldn’t consider myself an athlete I also loved playing tennis, volleyball, and soccer. I was actually pretty damn good at tennis, but a few years ago I sprained my ankle and now it looks like a falling stack of Jenga blocks down there.

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Me trying to stand on one foot. But, seriously, I need to see a doctor.

At some point though, as I became a teenager I got kind of lazy, not because I didn’t love being active. Because, it’s true that if your life is a sad, depressing mess, a good solid 9 times out of 10 your ass will be too. And if you’re one of those lovely but sensitive-ass people who keeps their feelings bottled up inside it’ll also mean that 10 times out of 10 you’re going to eat your feelings.

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So, I’ve always been aware of how important the presence of a good clean diet and exercise is to my life. Hell, without it, I’d no doubt be several hundred pounds and living in my bed, or worse, I’d be sleeping in the eternal life bed well before my time. The thing that’s also kept me in check has been my food allergies in particular to gluten and GMO anything. I swear, it seems that every time I go food shopping a good 99% of the food on shelves is processed and smacked together with corn syrup and enriched flour. If these produce farms packed a bag of apples the way Nabisco packages its Mystery Flavor Oreos… Nah, sike. Don’t nobody want them fucking apples.

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If I recall, I think I was around eighteen the first time I joined a gym. I joined a little shoddy but well-known boxing gym in my area because it was cheap, accepted cash, and was within walking distance of my apartment. Man, I loved it. I would go in the mornings before work or class because it was always empty saved for this one Hispanic guy who was a lightweight champion and, if he wasn’t training, would always stick to the weights and the bench. I spent a good solid six days a week for three months working out consistently, and by the end of the summer I lost over twenty pounds without going on a strict diet. At some point, I stopped going because of dysfunctional bullshit responsibilities at home, school, work, and I was so wonked out by all the things I had going on…

But no, in reality; you really need to be in a good emotional place if you want to fix your life.

I would bet that the reason why most people fail with keeping weight off is that they’re not dealing with stress. And, if you’re prone to eating your feelings, 10 times out of 10, all of the work you put in at the gym will be useless. And this on top of all of these restriction diets can kind of do you in. Because, if you’re omitting the food that you’re used to turning to when you’re stressed (i.e.) comforting eating, on your cheat day you’re just going to binge on that stuff like it’s the last thing you’ll ever eat. And you’re going to feel like shit, in more ways than one.

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After a few years of starts and stops, I restarted this summer. Instead of going through the usual rigmarole of cardio and aerobics classes, I decided to get into weight lifting. I mean, don’t get me wrong, cardio and aerobics are badass. They’re great for toning, and without them, I’d look like Jabba the Hut in a one-piece.

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Shit. Whatever. I know I look good!

But, at the same time, all I ever did was rely on cardio, and I never knew how much of a complete fail that is if you’re trying to lose weight and get into shape.

Dude, that first weightlifting session when you’ve never ever done one is fucking BRUTAL. I wasn’t exactly a stranger to weights, but I was always afraid to lift heavy for fear that I might bulk up or hurt myself. I also worried about looking stupid. Because, you know what I’m talking about; that image of the weak-ass noob struggling to lift twenty pound dumbbells, knees wobbling, legs shaking, face so red with struggle that he/she looks like you’re going to shit your internal organs (No one wants to be this person, girl or guy).

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Being that I was nervous about lifting, I asked around to people who were knowledgeable and I as given some good advice.

“Fill your iPod with podcasts and music so you never get bored.”

“Start out doing one set of, like three reps. If you feel comfortable, increase it to three times five.”

“For the first week, try setting a time limit. Ten minutes the first two weeks, fifteen the next two, and so on.”

Because you have to ask questions! You can even ask a trainer or receptionist at the gym. You’d be surprised at how cool people are when they see that you’re making an effort. Believe me, they’ll be more impressed that you’ve gotten your fat ass in there with a plan than if you’re some asshole holding the bench playing games on your cellphone.

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I swear, there’s gotta be a special place in Hell for people who do this shit.

But, so far, I’m really digging this new way of working out, of approaching exercise. I like how much stamina I have, and people have taught me to be less focused on the scale and to pay attention to how good I feel, and most importantly, my progress. Because, when I returned to the gym after many, many, MANY years, I felt like hell crap for so many days I considered going to the hospital. But, the day I was able to do a plank for a full minute, I felt like I could fist fight Superman. When I’m able to increase the intensity of my workouts without restrictions, like, when I can go on the elliptical for an hour instead of 30 minutes or I can lift heavy at ten sets of ten reps, I feel great. I know I’ve got this.

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As time goes on, I’m looking forward to the initial weight loss, but I’m also looking at it from the perspective that I’m growing stronger, looking better, feeling better, and it’s hard to fail when you’ve got all of that in your lap. So yeah, this means I came a long way from the girl who couldn’t do a squat without falling over or who collapsed in a wheezing, sweaty pile after ten minutes of hard running in place. Compared to that, no doubt I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been.

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Still, I’m not throwing out my fat girl clothes just yet. I still have to make it through the mine field that is the holidays.

And Talenti Pumpkin Pie Gelato.

Did you know that was a thing?

Like, sheesh.

© 2017 • CoffeeCupcakesKafka

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Life · Writings

It’s hard figuring out adulthood.

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Illustration/Gif by Günseli Sepici. http://gunseli.tumblr.com/

When I was a teenager, I never thought that half my life would be spent struggling to roll myself out of bed at 5:30 am after the 30th alarm ring or wearing a stiff dress and shoes  that are not Converse sneakers or eating raisin bran for breakfast or hanging out with my co-workers after work at a bar and enjoying drinks that look like they would be accessories in a Barbie playhouse.

And then, there’s the actual job, my actual job. Because you know who when you were young you were just adamantly opposed to jobs or working or doing anything that wasn’t fun. I’ll live in a van and eat French fries and candy for dinner and make money selling organic homemade lotions! And it seemed back then like everything was Hell yeah! or I can live like this forever! until you start working and suddenly you’re looking back on everything you thought the world was and it feels alien to you.

 

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Illustration/Gif by Robin Eisenberg. http://robineisenberg.tumblr.com/

 

I never thought that I’d be a person who would smile, a lot, who would enjoy greeting people let alone talking to them. I never thought I’d work in an office where on a good day I don’t hide in my cubicle until lunch and then again until the end of the work day.

Everyone I work with, for the most part, is in my age range, so the entire department is a literal chill zone, easy and laidback. Because, I can remember my first job out of college, the atmosphere at this place was so intense that one of my coworkers confessed to me that he was so worried about failing at his job that he hadn’t had a legit bowel movement in nearly a month. So believe that, in comparison to that, when I say that I really, really like my job, I mean I really, really like the fact that my job doesn’t take a toll on my sphincter soul.

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*Illustration/Gif: Tumblr

One day, I realized that I’d become a completely changed person when I started to realize that I had the actual fortitude to literally have chill, to tolerate the type of bullshittery that has people getting into all out fistfights over in those “Public Freakout” videos you see on YouTube (don’t act like you don’t know!).

I never thought that I’d be that person who liked talking to the jolly overweight secretary in my office about her many, many cockatoos. We go to Starbuck’s and then comeback and sit at our desks and chat which always goes something like this:

Me: How was your weekend?

Coworker: Fine. How was yours?

Me: Great. My boyfriend and I spent the weekend at a B&B in Cape Cod.

Coworker: Ohhh, my God. I’ve always wanted to do a Cape Cod B&B.

Me: Oh my goodness, you have to! We went to a place that is, like, one hundred percent eco-friendly. Like, even their bedding is organic.

Coworker: Wow!

Me: And we had these blueberry biscotti with sage honey, and OMG, it was most amazing sage honey I’ve ever had.

Coworker: Oh my goodness! I love sage honey!

And afterwards, I’m like, Cape Cod? Sage Honey? Organic bedding?

WHO THE HELL AM I?

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*Illustration/Gif: Tumblr

So, I don’t know. I guess it’s good to grow up and mature and so on. It’s definitely cool to be in a position where I can work in a cool place, where I can snack on organic gluten-free doughnuts and suck down kombucha drinks and expensive spring water and get paid to chat on social media and write blogs all day. I know that to my family and some of my friends it’s a weird way to make a living, but I don’t really see it as a way to sustain in the long-term. I know I’m not going to be able to retire this way, but I’m also not even thinking about retirement, not because I don’t have a net or a nest egg, which I do, but because I feel…restless.

My dreams keep tugging at me…

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*Illustration/Gif: Tumblr

I get so much more fulfillment creating. And I feel like that no matter how good I am at my job or how many times I get promoted, I still can’t identify with my peers even though I get along with them and like them, but I still essentially feel restless on the inside. But, because I need a job, I’m going to have to try and learn how to balance both for a while. Still, I’m happy to work and I like my job and I’m grateful as hell for my job.

But, as long as I’m writing, which makes me really happy, I feel balanced.

So, I guess that’s all that matters for right now…

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*Illustration/Gif: Tumblr
*(If this artwork is yours, please contact me so I can give you credit.)

© 2017 • CoffeeCupcakesKafka

Baking · Cookies · Gluten Free · Non-vegan · Snacks · Vegetarian

Gluten-Free Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

 

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I think that it’s best to stick to simple recipes, with as few ingredients as possible. Prepare a recipe with a hundred different flours, various starches and additives and often the result is usually something that tastes like it should be slathered against a slab of concrete block and used to build a house.

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Like, why would you…why would even put this on a plate?

Taste is a major reason why I’ve kept this recipe (and all of my other GF recipes) as simple as possible while sticking to the traditional way of making oatmeal cookies.ywsbtetGluten-free doesn’t always mean healthy, so I’m letting you know that these cookies have a bit of sugar.insulin-resistanceBut, of course, you were not planning on eating these too often anyway, unless you have the metabolism of a hummingbird. If not, stick to one. Two maybe fine, as long as you plan on doing more than one push-up the rest of this year. rashida-jones

 

 


Ingredients

¾ cup rice flour

¾ cup quinoa flour

1/4 tsp. xantham gum

2.5 cups Irish style Organic cooking oats

1/3 cup Organic granulated sugar

1 cup of light brown sugar, packed

1 tsp baking soda

¼ tsp. fine sea salt

1 cup salted Grass-fed/GMO-free butter, softened

3/4 cup raisins

2 Organic brown eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

¼ tsp. ground nutmeg


Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine sugars, vanilla, eggs, butter, brown sugar and beat until creamy.

Next, stir in flours, oats, xantham gum, baking soda, raisins, and cinnamon.

For larger cookies (see pictured): Drop 4 large tablespoons of dough, per cookie, onto the baking sheet.

For smaller cookies: Drop 2 large tablespoons of dough, per cookie, onto the baking sheet.

Bake for 12-14 minutes until golden brown.

© 2017 • CoffeeCupcakesKafka

Writings

Late Night Thoughts: Life expectations.

Photo by Neko Katz. http://neko-katz-illustration.tumblr.com/

When does a person’s life really begin?

When I was a kid, I used to hear adults say, “Life doesn’t happen until your 50.” So, what, do you just wait around until your 50 and just say, “Okay! Time to start living?” Why is it like that? It’s weird. Is 50 years the amount of time one needs to get over all of the fears, anxieties, stress and dumb shit society likes to shove down our throats with the adage, “This is what the real world is like, sweetie. Get used to it.” Is 50 years enough time to really start figuring out who you are?

Of course not.

I know a lot of people who’re over 50 who’re depressed, angry, lost. They keep chugging away at a life they hate because they have responsibilities. A mortgage, insurance, a car note, credit card bills. But, each day they live seems to be devoted to these responsibilities, and it’s strange that they’ve devoted do much time and energy to these things and they’re not happy. What are responsibilities worth in the context of one’s life? Is it right to keep doing something even if it’s destroying you? Do you keep doing something you don’t like and then at the end of the day need to escape from because it is what you have to do. When these people were kids, did they say to themselves, “Boy, I sure do look forward to being 50K in credit card debt and paying 2K a month on a car I can’t drive whenever I feel like it ’cause I’ve got two days off and gas expenses cut into my ability to eat!” I don’t live like this, it’s just an example. And, I’m not trying to shame people who live this way. I’m just confused. What I’m trying figure out is how does it get like this? What do these responsibilities mean in the context of your life’s  meaning or purpose? And, if at the very least these things are purposeful to you, shouldn’t you be, if not happy, content?

Many nights like this one, I stay up, thinking. I think about my realizations, aspirations, completing tasks ,all of the shit I want to do but also need to do that’ll get me towards my goals. These things don’t feel like things I have to do. They’re things I need to do and yet they don’t have the weight of say paying bills or exercising every day. I kind of envy those people who are able to wake up each day and going into it having figured out how they want to live their lives. They discover and learn with an enthusiasm of a puppy discovering a snail. It’s dope as hell. I’m trying to live like that, though hoping not to try, mostly just doing. I’d like to be lucky enough to be so good at living that I don’t find myself fifty years down the road waking up to a bunch of terrifying epiphanies. I’m talking about shit that you want to have realized in you late 20s and 30s or whatever, the shit that’s fixable and doable so that living feels constant as oppose to a burden.

Does it make me incredibly lame if I don’t want what other people have? Does it make me lazy that I don’t want responsibilities outside of what I want to do? I mean, of course there’s rent, phone bill, food, and health insurance, but I have just enough of those things where anything more would feel covetous, greedy. I’m happiest being independent of unnecessary things. It’s in those take-a-deep-breath moments when I’m able to reestablish that my life is not as bad as it seems, difficult at times but I adjust. Trying to figure life out is way harder than actually living. You think you never sort your shit out, but yeah, eventually you do. You just drop the useless garbage, start clean and laundry fresh.

I think it’s best to try and rid your life of the idea that being be an adult is terrible. If you can’t get rid of it, at least try and lessen your anxieties around it. The idea that growing up and growing older is the worse can kind of ruin you. It can make you look at your life, at yourself, as a failure. You’ll spend so much time focusing on what you like that you’ll try and make up for it in things that ultimately tie you down to a way of life you don’t want. And yeah, there are things about life the S-U-C-K. Getting sick/ill sucks. Having to exercise everyday sucks. Dying definitely sucks, but even before that even happens you’ll have a good 80-100 years (Modern medicine, rules!) of your life where you can kick ass.

So, dismissing your aspirations and all the things you want to do is a no-go! Don’t go out and take on a bunch of things that you don’t want but think you need to appear a success. Be the weirdo that likes to spend time creating, doing and accomplishing instead of accruing, obtaining, and possessing. Trying to figure out who you really are isn’t lame or lazy. Allowing yourself to grow is not a fail.

And learning to love yourself. Because self-care is an awesome thing. It’s also an under-utilized thing. It’s the difference between eating a bowl of ice cream because you’re stressed, and eating a bowl of ice cream because it’s a nice day out and you want to enjoy it while sitting on the porch barefoot. The latter one will make you fall in love with being alive.

© 2017 • CoffeeCupcakesKafka

Book Review · Books · Fiction · Summer Reading

What I’m Reading: Factotum. By: Charles Bukowski

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Around the time I was a freshman in college, I was turned on to Bukowski. I was reading a lot of Henry Rollins’ books, and from his works I fell into a rabbit whole of subversive literature; Henry Miller, Chuck Palanuik, Irving Welsh, and so on. I think most people get into subversive fiction when they’re young and at their most angst-ridden and confused. Reading Factotum as a teenager was like, I imagine, how a first shot of heroin feels. It felt to me like my brain and my feelings were having a brawl inside of my mind. It felt that the first time I read A Catcher in the Rye and listened to Chopin for the first time. I look for that feeling over and over again when I read. It’s so rare to come by. So many books are dumb down these days.

How was I when I was young? Even worse, how were my friends? Ever had a friend that was deep into absinthe and Steampunk cosplay or got into goth, rap metal, and writing vampire fan fiction?  We were all frustrated, overwhelmed, trying to carve out our identities, to find out where and how the hell we belonged. We were fire balls of frenzied emotions, of emotional turmoil, and mental anguish. It was the only time when being dysfunctional was valuable. I don’t know how most people live life without experiencing a little bit of anguish. Everything I was attracted to was solemn, vulgar, dark, exploitative, brooding, but, in my mind, cool. The countless times I’d sat in my room with my windows blacked out with newspaper, drinking bad beer and writing shitty poetry while listening to blues records (I’m talking Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters, not that bullshit Eric Clapton wastes his our time with instead of giving us Cream fans an appropriate album AND tour. Rest in Paradise Jack Bruce). My friends look back on that time of their lives, photos included, with a code red level of cringe. But, I feel that it was their most expressive time, a time when they were at their most creative and free. Now, they’re afraid of chaos, or they suppress it with prescription drugs. I don’t know. I sympathize with their fear. Some people get older and feel that it’s probably safer not to feel anything, I guess. I don’t know. I don’t mind being a loser. Living’s a lot easier, I feel good. I just don’t think that you should go through life being completely numb. Face your failures, the stuff that saddens you, just a little bit.

Bukowski was a shrewd dude. He was also a pretty vile dude, but he was conscious. He had a thumbprint on life that I admire and try to maintain for myself, though without the influence of drugs or alcohol. He saw life for what it was, human beings living in a whirring madness of boredom and wasteful living that he just couldn’t understand. Neither do I. But, I’m empathetic to those who continue to live this way. They haven’t figured out how to escape the asylum. I suppose people get older and that’s when the pointlessness of life hits them. Bukowski and his Chinaski alter-ego broke free with sex, women, gambling and booze. And because of the way he lived, he is seen as a hero, or an anti-hero depending on your level of cynicism. Like Bukowski/Chinaski, you want to walk into work drunk off your balls and tell the boss to kiss your ass. Because, somewhere underneath the squander and grind of it all, we all want to believe that happiness exists, unaffected. Far from all of the disappointment and apathy, we want to believe that there is still a resistance within ourselves driving us to live in our own way. It’s a feeling that drives us from our youth that into our adulthood, and we hope to hold on to it for as long as we can.

But, nah. That ain’t reality.

Most people live with both feet on the ground and their head on their bills, and then others are comfortable with permanence and find a rhythm in being broken in like a dog by habituation and routine. I’m not judging those people, but they can only live vicariously through other people’s lives, and that has to be a painful reality, I think. Not being brave enough, so that as an adult, that that six pack of beer and that joint starts to become things that get you through the daily 9 to 5 bullshit. Most people are going to sit on our asses and watch the clock hit five and sweat it out on a packed smelly train on the way home, because home is where your food and bed is, and then do it all again tomorrow. But, hell, you can laugh about it someday when you look down at the joke of a pension check you’ll have to retire on. I’ll probably be that bum you see coming out of work, selling her shitty poetry pamphlets and knitted loves that you’ll throw your unwanted pennies at. We’re all end up losers in some sort of way in this life, I guess.

What Bukowski is saying is, just have the fucking courage to embrace it.

© 2017 • CoffeeCupcakesKafka

 

Baking · Breakfast & Brunch · Gluten Free · Non-vegan · Snacks · Vegetarian

Homemade Gluten-Free Granola

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The granola is good. The Photoshop, not so much (^v^)!

I know people have a phobia about making granola. It’s weird, but I can understand it. It does seem daunting, like baking chocolate chip cookies or making a tender pot roast. You want it to be perfect, to look and taste just like they do on the recipe blogs. But, unlike cookies which you can burn or pot roast that you can overcook, you cannot go wrong with making your own granola. Even if you add to much honey or forget to add cinnamon, it’ll still be perfect because you can tinker the hell out of it. There is no such thing as a bad bowl of granola. The best granola I’ve ever had was a batch I made; a sweet potato pie granola with little bits of chocolate chips in it. BAYYYYYYBEEEEEE! When I say that I was in fat girl heaven over this stuff, I practically grew angel wings :). I’ll have to make that again one of these days, but for now, your girl doesn’t need all of that temptation.

What I also don’t need is to spend nine dollars on a bag of granola.

This recipe is good for non-strict vegans and of course for my gluten-free folks. You can replace the honey for maple syrup, and for you strict vegans who don’t eat either, you can use rice syrup. I use 100% Non-GMO, gluten-free rolled oats. If you don’t have dietary issues, you can use any rolled oats you like. Rolled oats work best for granola recipes. They’re heartier and, depending on the brand, are cut and made the traditional way which means that no machinery (where cross contamination is common) is involved in processing. Store the granola in a good airtight container, and it should last you a good three months.

Ingredients

1 c. shredded coconut

1/3 c. honey

4 c. rolled gluten-free oats

½ c. walnuts, halved or chopped

2 ts. ground cinnamon

½ c. 100% raw coconut oil

½ c. almonds

1/4 ts. fine sea salt

1 ts. vanilla extract

1 c. dried fruit, optional

A 9×9 rectangular baking pan

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 300° F.

Line a pan with parchment paper or grease using non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine oats, nuts*, coconut and salt.

Stir in the oil, vanilla and honey.

Pour and spread mixture into pan.

Stirring every six minutes, bake 25-30 minutes until golden brown.

Set aside to cool. Once cooled, granola will become crunchy. Once cooled, stir in dried fruit.

*For crunchier nuts, add after baking

© 2017 • CoffeeCupcakesKafka

Baking · Gluten Free · Non-vegan · Non-vegetarian · Pies & Cakes

Gluten Free Peach Pie

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Messy-looking, but good. Much like myself! 😀

 

Thinking about old food service jobs.

I have worked around my share of stressed out bakers. They smoke a lot, drink a ton, and are terrible at fidelity. They also make great fucking pie. They put chocolate on everything, sugar, salt, and bacon in everything. You’ll be sweating butter by the time you’re done eating. Crazy fucking delicious. Want to see a show? Watch a stressed out baker make a pie. Screw up the crust, make the filling too watery, or let the meringue set for too long, and stuff like that will send a baker from 0 to 100 in two seconds. I once watched a pastry chef and a line cook almost go to blows over a brownie recipe.  I’m still dreaming of the fruit tarts from a now long defunct eatery in the MPD (Meatpacking District for you non-NYC folk). They made the best baked goods. The owner and head pastry chef had long left and the place was a dysfunctional mess. In the last months the place was opened, they had one pastry chef apprentice who had to make everything, for both the kitchen and the retail bakery next door. It was a hot mess. I didn’t envy her job. She would come into work all nice and fresh faced, and then she would emerge from the basement hours later all sweaty and flushed like she’d just done two rounds with Holly HolmJ. I sure do miss the food, not so much the life (or the people!).

I felt nostalgic for those tarts, but on a lazy Sunday, I decided to make a pie instead. I had a ton of frozen and canned peaches in the kitchen, the result of a failed plan to make my own ice cream this summer. At some point, I realized that I’ve never had peach pie. It never appealed to me, and I’m saying this as someone who’s eaten some goofy-ass pies. Goat cheese-sea salt-caramel, blue cheese-pear-ginger, bacon-fig- chocolate, fig-balsamic-rosemary. These are pretty safe, though, I once had an oyster and beer pot pie that was a vile as you’d imagine it would be. Me? I like stuff as simple as they can get.

I didn’t do much with this pie. No crumble toppings, no silly sea-salt caramel drizzles, no cinnamon-sugar crusts. Basically, no bullshit. Peach pie is pretty good, but it has nada over blueberry pie. I don’t like my pies too sweet, which is why this recipe has very little sugar, but you can had more if you like. You can also use frozen peaches for this recipe, but make sure that they’re fully thawed first.

Gluten Free Peach Pie

Ingredients

Gluten-Free Pie Crust

½ c. brown rice flour*

½ c. spelt flour*

2 T. potato starch

¼ t. xantham gum

½ t. fine sea salt

1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

5-7 T. ice water

*You may substitute your own gluten free flour mix for this recipe.

Peach Filling

2-15 oz. cans sliced peaches in natural juice (if you use peaches in heavy syrup, make sure to rinse them off first)

¼ t. ground nutmeg

½ t. ground cinnamon

1/8 t. ground allspice

6 T. cornstarch

3 T. lemon juice

½ c. dark brown sugar

A 9-inch pie pan

Directions

For the crust: In a large bowl, add flour, salt, and cold butter. Using a pastry cutter, cut butter into the flour until pieces are pea-sized.

Mix ice water, one tablespoon at a time, into flour mixture.

Using your hands knead water into the flour mixture until the dough is soft and is held together, not crumbly or sticky (For crumbly dough, add more water, for sticky dough, add flour one tablespoon at a time.).

Turn the dough onto a floured surface. Cut in half. Roll each piece into a smooth ball.

Wrap dough balls with waxed paper and refrigerate for thirty (30) minutes up to one (1) hour.

Remove dough ball from the fridge and let sit on the counter for ten minutes before rolling.

On a floured surface and using a rolling pin, roll the dough from the center and then outwards, about twice the width of the pie pan. Do not press down on the dough, but, roll the dough firmly and lightly.

Coat pan with butter or non-stick spray and a light coat of flour. Gently place one piece of dough into the pan, working the dough into the corners. Do the same with the second piece of dough until the pan is completely covered.

Place dough in the refrigerator for 25-30 minutes.

For filling: In a medium bowl, add peaches, spices, sugar. Combine all until well mix. Stir in cornstarch. Set aside.

After chilling the pie dough, remove it from the refrigerator. Drain liquid from the pie filling (You can set the filling aside and use it as a topping).

Fill the pie with filling, arranging the peaches so that every corner is covered.

Bake 400°F for 40-45 minutes until the crust is a golden brown.

Let cool before serving.

© 2017 • CoffeeCupcakesKafka

 

Baking · Cupcakes&Muffins · Gluten Free · Non-vegan · Non-vegetarian

Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins

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Because of my weird food allergies, I’ve had to be picky about so many things. But, I’m not picky about fruit, especially if it’s frozen. The best banana bread I’ve ever made was using some frozen sliced bananas I’d left in my freezer for three months and forgotten about. All of the moisture retained in the bananas, I didn’t even need butter, which was nice because I was stone cold broke when I made it. The best food I’ve ever had was when I didn’t have much money or many ingredients in the pantry. It’s a lot tougher when you have food allergies and you’re broke, especially gluten and where-related allergies because catering to your diet can really run through your wallet.

Bless the Dollar Tree. I freaking love the Dollar Tree. I could write an opus about how awesome that place is. You kind of have to put your ethics aside to shop there because you know that what you’re getting is definitely probably not good for the environment and maybe in the long run eating those frozen meatballs and those mouse pad-shaped disks of tilapia are definitely probably not good for your health! Still, if you live in a city or are facing tough economic times, you can get a nice selection of food, and if you’re a good cook, you can really make great meals from what you find there. I go there to get bags of frozen fruit for a buck and it lasts a while. The last time I was there, I went overboard and purchased a half dozen bags of blueberries because I use blueberries in everything. I make my own preserves, use them in smoothies, and put them on my cold and hot cereal. A fresh pint of blueberries, at least in my neighborhood anyway, is about three dollars. And they’re not even organic. The audacity! Even worse, they’re often not even filled to capacity. City living, I tell you! Crooks everywhere! Whenever I buy fresh berries from the supermarket, I take them out of the carton, put them into a plastic produce bag or in my produce bag I bring from home, and then weigh them on the scale. At the Dollar Tree, you get a twelve ounce bag, whereas most fresh cartons are less than ten ounces. No ma’am. I like to get the best out of my damn dollar.

This morning, I wanted some sort of bread with my breakfast. Since I’m allergic to wheat and was out of my own homemade gluten free bread, I figured I’d make muffins. They came out pretty good! It doesn’t really make that much of a difference if you use frozen versus fresh berries, except for the appearance, because frozen blueberries have the tendency to pop in the oven more than fresh berries, I’ve found. Maybe it’s something to do with the amount of added water from freezing. Still, in terms of taste and flavor, frozen berries do the trick. I usually like to make a crumble topping, but I was at the market this weekend and the price of butter had me shook! Between inflation and droughts, man. I spend more on butter than I do anything else, and I eat organic butter, grass-fed. Organic butter may as well be mixed with pure gold, it’s so expensive. If you don’t have butter, you can switch the butter with mashed bananas (or oil), one (1) cup. Honestly, I wish I’d made these with bananas instead of butter, but however you make your muffins, they’ll come out great.

Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins

Ingredients

1 c. spelt flour

½ c. coconut flour

½ c. brown rice flour

1 T. baking powder

½ t. fine sea salt

1 stick butter, softened at room temperature

¼ t. xantham gum

2/3 c. granulated sugar

2/3 c. light brown sugar

1 t.  vanilla extract

3 small eggs

½ c.  whole milk

2 ¼ c. frozen blueberries

Directions

Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a medium bowl, cream butter and sugars until slightly fluffy and then set aside.

Next, add in eggs and vanilla until well mixed.

In a separate bowl, combine baking powder, salt, flour until well mixed. Next, add it to the wet mixture.

Add whole milk into the mixture and combine until you have a smooth batter.

Fold berries into the batter.

Line a muffin pan with muffin paper and fill each three-quarters of the way with batter.

Bake for about 38-40 minutes or until a slightly golden brown.

Remove from oven, let cool, about an hour before serving, two hours or more before freezing.

© 2017 • CoffeeCupcakesKafka

 

 

Book Review · Books · Fiction · Novel · Summer Reading

What I’m Reading: A Room with a View by: E.M. Foster

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E.M. Forster was a wonderful observer of human nature in all of its complex motivations, self-destruction, disorder, and idiocy. His works are an observation into the complexities of human nature in all of its irrational, changeable glory. Forster seems to value individualism above all else. The idea of living at the beat of another drummer’s rhythm, for people to “march to their destiny by catchwords” where the individual does not live a life they want but rather one that others desire for them, seems to lead to an unhappy life. A person who would rather live falsely than to embrace the truth is one who cannot express feelings openly and is prone to maintain unhealthy social norms. It leads to a dreary and dull life, and creates a world where moral zealousness overtakes our sensibilities, and destroys our happiness.

It’s difficult to talk about this book without giving away the whole plot. I’ve yet to see a book review which has done otherwise! I think this is due to the fact that the novel is so layered. Some people see it as a feminist study, others an untraditional romance novel, or a philosophical study of morality as it pertains to one’s freedom of choice and happiness. It is a very complex novel and, in all honesty as with most of my reviews, my interpretation of the novel is simplistic and simple and I like to relate personal experiences to the books I’ve read, so you would be hard-pressed to find me writing a feminist study or a deep study of social caste or morals.

With that said, in my opinion, A Room with a View is a book about individualism and even rebellion. Characters challenge the status quo even if it means they lose relationships, and even positions, in respectable society along the way. And in the end, it is in challenging a rigid world and leaving it behind that the characters find that they’re better served in the end. Lucy Honeychurch and The Emersons (George and his father) are in my opinion, some of literatures great individualists. They represent an alternative vision of society where individualism is valued above conformity, where freedom of choice is optimal, and even though they upset many people close to them with their choices, they all lead happier lives as individuals.

I often find myself returning to this book whenever I need to try and sympathize with the complexities of the world and the people within it. I like returning to this book because it’s a nice escapist novel, a book to take me away from the messy times we’re living in. I know, it’s not very healthy, any kind of escapism. I think about the world, how it seems more of a mess than it once was, or maybe it was always a mess and I never noticed. There seems to me this great tension in the world, a breakdown of honesty and tenderness, reality and good manners. Mostly, I find that the world is becoming a place too ingrained with a rigged morality, where people often live based on what society thinks is commonplace rather than what the individual wants. To me, it seems as though human beings are losing touch with their own imperfect, eccentric natures, the kind of natures that made this world so interesting in the first damn place.

When I was younger, I prided myself on my individualism, on the thought that people were as intellectually receptive to the ways of life and living, and that as adults people rarely grew up somber and cynical unless they’d had unrealistic expectations of life. I always stood by my own beliefs of optimal living; that one could possess optimism and knowledge, practicality and idealism and live a good existence. I looked upon the world with such zeal and excitement at that age, I still do, but I am a bit more sober with experience. I don’t regret such idealism, but I think that maybe things would have affected me less harshly as an adult if I’d also imbued some of life’s complexities into my own idealistic nature. I wish that I’d been told more about the heartbreaks. Your heart breaks, a lot. It’s painful and it can ruin the best of you, the parts of you that push you to be driven and hopeful of the future. If you’re not self-aware, brave even, it’s so easy to fall in line and be compliant with convention, to lose yourself in the safety of conformity, all because you don’t want to get your heart broken again and again.

But a bit of rebellion doesn’t have to be about being self- destructive. I’ve found that sometimes it’s as simple as having an open heart and mind, a healthy dose of self-awareness, and a good amount of empathy for others, that makes life worth living. I’m opposed to a single-minded view or idea that settles on stringent beliefs or values. My life is very unconventional, but I don’t feel as limited to experiences in life as I think I would have if I’d stuck to norms, plus, I feel good about myself. It’s this “rebelliousness” that keeps me grounded, compassionate, but also allows me to question conventions. It’s also helped me to build my confidence.

But the world is very different, the people within it, at times not as brave. Sometimes I feel like I am standing on the outside of everything, observing, watching. I see a lot of frustration, a lot of people oppressing each other, trying to contain each other’s spirit. Why is that? Fear, I think. Forster understood this fear and how it destroys people:

“[She gave up trying to understand herself, and]…the vast armies of the benighted, who follow neither the heart nor the brain, and march to their destiny by catch-words. The armies are full of pleasant and pious folk. But they have yielded to the only enemy that matters-the enemy within. They have sinned against passion and truth, and vain will be their strife after virtue. As the years pass, they are censured. Their pleasantry and their piety show cracks, their wit becomes cynicism, their unselfishness hypocrisy; they feel and produce discomfort wherever they go.”

About fear, Thich Nhat Hanh says: “People have a hard time letting go of suffering, out of a fear of the unknown. They prefer suffering that is familiar.”

Still, what I love is that Forster is unwaveringly optimistic throughout. There are no villains or good characters. Characters do not suffer for objecting to the status-quo (as so many writers of the time such as Edith Wharton and Henry James were prone to show in their novels). And even though this not very realistic, I like that Forster still believes in a happy ending. Still, happiness only comes when one has the courage to break away from convention.

So, think outside of the box, kids. And then once you’re out, take a can of gasoline, throw on it a lit match, and walk the fuck away. I say this as a metaphor, of course. Please don’t set literal fires, except to your mind, with knowledge, and a book.

© 2017 • CoffeeCupcakesKafka

 

Baking · Gluten Free · Pies & Cakes

Gluten-Free Apple Crumb Pie

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Off to a barbecue. As an introvert, socializing takes me out of my natural habitat, away from my books, my bed, my home, away from people J. As I write this, it’s 7:49 in the morning, and all I’m thinking of is 634,634,873,408,083 excuses to back out. I want to be home, in my pajamas, in my bed, with a book.

But then I remember that the upside is I’ll get to bake some pies. I bake pies for every barbecue I go to barbecue. As summer baking goes, apple pies are a sure thing.

I go into the kitchen and immediately retreat into the world of apple pie making. I cut cold butter, flour, and water together, peel and slice apples. And what happens with me, as it always does, is that the baking calms my goofy thoughts, the anxiety disappears, and the stress melts away with the time.

I am happy with the pie. It is a great pie. And the best thing about a great pie is that people will be too busy eating to notice that I’ve snuck off to a quiet area of my friend’s house to read the small book I’ve brought in I’ve purse.

The power of pie!

(Happy Fourth of July 4th!)

 

Gluten-Free Apple Crumb Pie

Crust

¾ t. xantham gum

1 stick salted butter, cold, cut into small pieces

5-6 TBS. ice water

1 1/3 c. brown rice flour

1 1/3 c. spelt flour

Filling

½ c. brown sugar

¼ c. + 1 TBS. brown rice flour

5-6 Granny Smith apples, cleaned, pealed, and cored

4 TBS. flour

¼ t. ground allspice

1 t. ground cinnamon

1.5 t. vanilla extract

2.5 t. lemon Juice

Topping

¾ c. brown rice flour

½ c. light brown sugar

1.5 ts. ground cinnamon

1 stick salted butter, cold, cut into small cubes

In a medium bowl, pour all ingredients for crust. Using a pastry cutter or knife (or food processor if you have one), cut and blend dough together until the pieces are pea-sized.

Roll dough into a ball and wrap in parchment paper. Refrigerate for 40 minutes (or until use).

On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough 1-inch thick in diameter.

Carefully place dough in either an aluminum pie or a standard pie pan, lightly pushing the sides against the pan’s surface until covered. Place pie crust in fridge.

In a medium bowl, add apples, spices, flour, lemon juice and sugar in a large bowl and stir together until combined.

Remove pie crust from fridge. Pour in apples.

In another bowl, mix flour, butter brown sugar and cinnamon. Using pastry cutter or knife, cut butter mixture in small pea-sized pieces.

Preheat oven to 375°F degrees.

Sprinkle and evenly spread butter crumble over apple filling.

Bake 25-30 minutes until filling is bubbly and golden.

Remove pie from oven and let cool before serving.

© 2017 • CoffeeCupcakesKafka