5 August 2011

We're Getting Out, We're Moving House

Anyone else liked Blood Brothers?  No? Okay, that's not the topic of this post anyway...

Emilia Lives Life is moving!  Follow me over here.

Cupcake Friday: Italian cakes!

This has been an unusual week, thus there is an unusual cupcake recipe this Friday: Italian cupcakes.  They were originally going to be funfetti, mostly because I wanted vanilla cake.  Unusual thing number one: I'm usually a chocolate girl.  Even though I had a perfectly good, untried, funfetti recipe, I decided to go ahead and veganize it.  Unusual thing number two: I used a flax egg instead of applesauce.  Then I realized we didn't have proper sprinkles to make the funfetti magic. Oh, I really must buy some soon!  After all, how can one call themselves a baker sans sprinkles?  After scooping the batter into my new silicone cupcake holders, I discovered some quite ancient christmas themed sprinkles...and thus Italian cupcakes were born!

The cupcakes are vanilla, there's the white.  The sprinkles had red and green.  Instead of looking out of place, I decided to jump at the chance to honor my studies and dub them "Italian cakes".  Then, unusual thing number three happened.  I decided to forego frosting.


Shocking no?  I'm usually such a frosting girl, but this week, call it laziness or whatever, I decided to present bare cupcakes.  And you know what?  They were FANTASTIC!

I hardly missed the frosting because the cupcakes were so full of flavor with an absolutely to-die-for texture.  It's rare that I will comment on the texture of a cupcake, usually they have a, well, cakey texture.  These cupcakes, however, were moist and dense, basically everything you would want in a cupcake.

Actually, I think these would make positively brilliant normal sized cakes with the appropriate adjustments to proportions/baking times.  With that recipe, I'd totally add frosting.  A proper cake must have frosting.

Italian Cupcakes (original recipe from How Sweet It Is)
makes 6 cupcakes

4 tbsp Earth Balance

1/2 cup sugar (I used 1/4 cup brown and 1/4 cup white)

1 flax egg (1 tbsp flax + 3 tbsp water)

1 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/6 cup almond milk


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cream earth balance and sugar(s) together until light and fluffy, about a minute depending on how melty your butter is when you start.  Add in flax egg and vanilla and beat until combined.  It will still be slightly water-y, but you want as much as possible to be absorbed into the batter.

Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl.  Add in half the ingredients, mix gently until just combined. Add in the milk, mix in.  Add in the rest of the dry ingredients, mix until just combined.

Pour batter into cupcake liners until they are 2/3 full, about a tablespoon and a half of batter per liner.
Bake for 18-20 minutes.  They are done when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

What kind of theme cupcake would you make?

4 August 2011

Boston Re-cap: The Eats

If you are anything like me one of the first things you think about when planning a trip somewhere is: where am I going to eat?  Well, that task certainly fell to me when thinking about Boston and I must say, I was ready to take on that challenge!  While I won't say that we ended up eating at all the places I wrote down, or that some of them turned out to seem like quite duds, we did ultimately have a good array of yummy meals.  There wasn't one I truly hated (well, except for lunch at a museum...).

The first dinner was accidentally a restaurant that I had put on my original list.  We were heading for a different place, but saw this restaurant, realized we were all starving and decided to give it a go!  It was The Parish Cafe.  They had a lovely outdoor seating patio/deck, but since it was raining lightly when we arrived, we opted to eat inside, which was perfectly lovely!

I got a mushroom sandwich with white bean salad on mixed greens.  It was all really good, but the white bean salad was my favorite part of the meal!

The next day we went to a simple diner for breakfast.  It was close to our hotel and we all started the day out starving, so it seemed like a good choice!

We ended up having a table with a great view of Newbury Street.  Definitely one of the highlights of the meal!

For breakfast I got an omelette with spinach and mushrooms.  It came with toasted whole wheat bread and home fries. 

Looks quite a bit like the previous meal, no?

After breakfast we headed to Caffe L'Aroma for a quick coffee.  Which I obviously need to start my day.

Again, they had a lovely outdoor seating area, but since it was full, we opted to have our coffees inside.

My mom got a cappuccino (and gave me the schiuma, thanks mom!), my dad got an espresso and I got a cafe au lait.  Or at least, I got one at first.  It tasted like dirty water so I went back and got a latte instead.

It was much MUCH better.

For lunch that day we ate an (unphotographed) lunch from the cafeteria at the Museum of Fine Arts.  I was way unimpressed by the choices and ending up only having a little bit from the salad bar and eating a Clif z bar I brought with me.

Luckily that afternoon they were handing out free peanuts near the harbor.

We rallied for the food department with dinner, however.  We found that Boston has Wagamama!  I was totally thrilled.  Once again, no photos, but I got the Yasai Yaki Soba with yasai gyoza as a starter and a melon juice that I split with my mom.  Wonderful.

The next day for breakfast we opted for the cafe route.  We went to Espresso Royale Cafe on Newbury street.

I got a croissant, my mom got a poppy seed bagel with butter and my dad got an everything bagel with peanut butter.

My croissant was good, but a little on the sweet side; I generally prefer them flaky and buttery.  My dad's peanut butter bagel was definitely the winner out of this lot!

Being from New York, my family is definitely bagel snobs, so to say that these were good is quite the compliment!

Of course, I had to get some coffee, another latte!  I'm usually a cappuccino girl, but this trip I seemed to morph into a latte lover.

For dinner that night we went out to Figs.  I don't have any photos—I was positively ravenous by the time our meal arrived—but if you are ever in Boston go to Figs.  Seriously, it was phenomenal.  My parents and I split a half mushroom half eggplant pizza and loved every bite of it.  Brilliant, truly brilliant.

Overall, we only ended up eating at a couple of the restaurants I listed (Figs, Parish Cafe and L'Aroma), but enjoyed every dining experience, museum excluded.  Still, I would recommend doing some advance research; it will always pay to have a list of places you'd like to try!  My favorite meal was at Figs, followed by my mushroom sandwich on the first night.  Totally brilliant.

Have you ever been to Boston?  What was your favorite meal?  Do you enjoy finding restaurants on vacation?

3 August 2011

What's in my bag?

Looks simple on the outside.  This thing can't fit too much right?  Of course not, I'm a simple kind of girl...

Bag: Paul's Boutique, from Topshop

Or maybe not.

The contents of my bag.  They just fell out like that, I swear ;)

So what is all that?  Why do I need it?  Well, lets see.

The makeup section.  In the small bag that resembles a chocolate bar (given to me as a gift) I have, Kiehls French Rose lip gloss, dior eyeliner in black, some blotting papers, strawberry lip balm and a tokidoki by smashbox mirror.  The key ring is from Tous and the random green coin was from my uni's modern languages ball.

Obviously, every girl has gotta carry gum and an umbrella (cath kidston).  The red folder they are perched on is my intern handbook.

Then there is the wallet, which is Mark B from Topshop; the cell phone with a hello kitty charm I got from a gumball machine in Italy, my keys with a Hello Kitty key topper and my green ipod nano.

I also managed to fit in my trust A5 filofax and the book I was reading, The Rossetti Letter by Christi Phillips.

Yes, my bag is usually quite heavy.  That day I also carried my lunch and a bottle of water with me, so it was even more bloated in the morning.  Ultimately, I would rather have everything I need and a heavy bag than leave something important home!

What are your must-carry essentials?

2 August 2011

Back from Boston

Just got back from an absolutely lovely long weekend in Boston.  The city was pretty and the weather was spectacular!  Certainly a good time.

Some of my favorite photos from the trip...

Here's to a good week!

1 August 2011

Beach Week by Susan Coll

I'm always in the mood for summer fun.  During summer, it's a pretty good bet you can fin me reading a summer-y book at some point in the day.  Of course, I don't really discriminate against any type of book set during the summer, but when you add the idea of a beach in, I am totally 100% there.  I'll even bring the sunblock, Nivea spf 20.

That's what I thought Coll's book, Beach Week, was going to be like.  A romp with a group of just-graduated high school students while they go absolutely insane on a beach.  Sure, I read the blurb and knew the parents were going to be featured, but at least they would be at home sweating and thinking about the beach, right?


Okay, maybe not totally wrong.  They DO go to the beach, but the majority of the book is not set on the sandy shores.  In fact, it opens in winter.  That's right, winter.  The book opens and it's snowing in Verona, a fictional suburb of Washington DC.  Not exactly what you expect with a book entitled: Beach Week.

Thus, we come to one of the major reasons Beach Week fails to live up to its title.  Instead of focusing on the recent high school grad's trip to party away from the watchful eyes of their parents, the majority of the book is spent in the preparations and negotiations for this legendary post-graduation week.  It is within the realm of the discussions amongst parents and children, children and children and parents and parents that the book's true message comes to life.

The interactions between the parents and the kids intricately detail one family's experience on the brink of momentous change; not only with a child going away to university, but also the repercussions of freedom, letting go and acceptance.  Through the unique challenge's of one family, Coll manages to spin a story that tells a universal tale.  Anyone who has gone through the process of letting go and growing up after high school will be able to relate to this story.

That is not to say that Beach Week is not without it's hitch.  At times the pace gets frustrating.  One moment it's snowing and spring, then all of a sudden they are about to go on the fabled week away.  This can be frustrating at moments, when one feels that they are moving on a different sphere than the characters.  The movement at time prevents the reader from truly becoming friends with the characters.

Unfortunately, there are other ways that the reader is stopped from inhabiting the character's world.  At first, the sheer number of characters and their different views becomes overwhelming.  While the reader is still trying to assimilate into the novel's word, they are bombarded by a myriad of strong characters.  Yet, even though the characters seem overpowering initially, this happens because of how good the characters are.  They approach you like real people, annoying spots and all.

I may not always be going back to Beach Week, but the book tells a strong story with a good message.  Parents and children having gone through the process of assimilating to college-life will be able to appreciate the message and experience the hardships once again.  Coll manages to masterly capture an evanescent time, despite the difficulties in gauging time and overly-real characters with feisty personalities.

Do you enjoy books with a linear time line or an amorphous one?

photo source