All posts by Stef

About Stef

Archaeologist from Germany who is currently living in Helsinki.

Coconut Brownies [vegan, gluten-free]

I feel like we’re apologizing all the time for abandoning the blog. Again we haven’t written in a while. Not only is Tiia’s laptop broken and she can’t edit pictures, I also had to install mine completely new  and some of the already edited pictures are gone. Still it won’t make much longer and we should really get at least one new one.

A lot has changed in the past months. A few weeks after we moved to Lüneburg I already found work in a lovely café. Now the summer is over but the October is starting with beautiful weather and 15°C. Perfect weather to enjoy some vegan treats!

The whole October Lüneburg is part of the event “Lüneburg is(s)t vegan” which means “Lüneburg is/eats vegan”. Tiia and I are also taking part, so today I want to post a recipe for a chocolate brownie that is also gluten-free.

Coconut brownies [vegan, gf] |2women2cats|

These brownies are perfect for everybody who can’t eat gluten, sugar, dairy or eggs. They are completely made without any flour and to make them a bit sweet, dates are thrown into the mix. The recipe also doesn’t use any commercial butter or margarine – instead I made some from desiccated coconut.

The delicious brownie recipe is adapted from this blog. The original isn’t vegan and I actually tried half of the recipe using eggs but I didn’t really like the result. The brownies with egg weren’t really brownies but more like a fluffy chocolate cake and that wasn’t what I was looking for at that moment. With using flax eggs as a substitute the brownies turned out perfectly moist!

Coconut brownies [vegan, gf] |2women2cats|

If you want to you can decorate the brownies with a vegan whipped cream or a berry mousse. I used some vegan whipping cream made from oats and added some blueberries.

Coconut brownies [vegan, gf] |2women2cats|

Ingredients (4-6 pieces)

225 g desiccated coconut
5-8 pitted dates
50 g vegan dark chocolate
2 tbsp raw cacao powder
3 flax eggs (3 tbsp ground flax and 9 tbsp water)
sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
cacao nibs

100 ml vegan whipping cream (optional)
1 tbsp blueberries, frozen or fresh (optional)

Preheat the oven to 175°C and grease your tin or baking pan with coconut oil. I used cake rings for the brownies which made them quite big. You can also use a small springform or a square baking tin and cut the brownies a bit smaller later.

For preparing the flax eggs mix 3 tablespoons of ground flax with 9 tablespoons of water and set aside.

Start making the coconut butter by placing the coconut into a food processor and process until the coconut releases all its oils and turns into butter. Depending on your food processor this might take a while. Scrape down the sides once in a while but don’t give up! It will work out in the end. If you have a high speed blender this might not even be a problem.

Once you have coconut butter you can add the dates and blend until everything is smooth. Then add the flax eggs, chocolate, cacao powder, soda and a bit of sea salt and blend together. Incorporate the cacao nibs without grinding them. Transfer everything into the baking tin and smooth the top out with a silicone spatula. Bake for around 17 minutes. It might take a bit longer if you don’t use individual cake rings like I did! Let the brownies cool down completely before decorating.

For the blueberry whipped cream I first strained the thawed blueberries (you can also use fresh ones) through a fine sieve and whipped up my vegan oat cream with the blueberry juice. I formed little clouds between two teaspoons but you can just serve the cream in a bowl with the brownies or pipe it on top of the individual pieces. Enjoy!

Stef

Coconut brownies [vegan, gf] |2women2cats|

Coconut brownies [vegan, gf] |2women2cats|

 

A Big Change

It has been a bit quiet here. No, we have not abandoned this blog or gotten bored with baking, cooking or going out. If you’re following my Instagram you might have noticed that there are lots of delicious recipes that are still waiting to be published.  But there is a major factor in our lives that has occupied our minds and our time in the last weeks: we’re going to move to Germany in the middle of June.

As you can imagine moving countries is a bit more stressful than your usual move. All the paperwork needs to be done in time. In our case Tiia needs to get a lot of her Finnish papers in English or even German, so we won’t have a problem with translating them later. Apart from that we had to sort out how to actually transport our stuff to Germany without spending thousands of Euros. We’re not taking a lot with us but we have been together for over 4 years now and I am not willing to throw everything out we have bought together.

Most of that is thankfully already sorted, although it was quite stressful to coordinate so many things. My dad will come with a rental car by ferry and transport our stuff to our new home. Tiia, me and the cats will then take the plane to Germany. I am having my fingers crossed that everything will work out.

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At the moment I am kind of sad to leave this country, especially since spring is in proper bloom now! It is getting warmer, the trees are getting their leaves and the blueberry and lingonberry bushes are blooming. Okay, I still have to wear a scarf but not a thick one! The days are getting longer and longer until they reach their peak on Midsummer which is next month.

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I will definitely miss the Finnish summer and living at the sea side. Blueberry picking in the forest, although I guess I can live without those horrible mosquitoes which I am slightly allergic to.

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And of course I will miss Tiia’s family a lot. Her parents now live only 5 kilometers from us and I love visiting them.

I am scared and nervous about moving to Germany. What if I won’t like it anymore? What if I won’t like it in my old hometown? Will Tiia like it and how will it be for her with a new language?

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I am sure everything will find its way but sometimes it is a bit more scary than exciting.

Stef

Easy Whipped Shaving Soap

In one of my previous blog posts I shared how easy it is to make liquid hand soap out of a cold processed natural soap bar. Today’s recipe is just as easy and even takes less time.

DIY Shaving Soap from a bar of cold processed natural soap |2wome2cats|

You can buy special shaving soaps (or make your own cold processed one) but if you have lots of soap bars like I do and can’t use them up as fast as you’d like, this might be the perfect solution. Also a good way to pimp up a soap bar that you maybe didn’t like that much before. There is no need for alcohol or aggressive surfactants or paraffinic oils. If you take a look at the back of many commercial shaving creams you’ll see that they often include things you really don’t want on your skin. Natural cold processed soap bars are made from oils and are saponificated with NaOH and often are highly superfatted to prevent dry skin.

DIY Shaving Soap from a bar of cold processed natural soap |2wome2cats|

For this shaving soap I used a bar that I didn’t like that much on its own and added some coconut oil and pure aloe vera gel (for extra moisture) to the process. I you don’t have aloe vera gel or don’t want to use it you can just add an equal amount of water to the mixture.

Ingredients

50 g cold processed soap
100 ml water
50 ml pure aloe vera gel
1 tbsp coconut oil
a few drops essential oil (optional)

Grind the soap bar or chuck it in a food processor. The soap should be really fine, otherwise it won’t melt easily. Heat the water with the soap and oil in a medium sized saucepan on low heat until the soap has completely melted. You really need to stir a lot because of the small amount of water. Mine turned into a thick paste really quickly and the soap was dissolved almost immediately. Be careful not to let it burn! It might form little lumps at the bottom which may seem like unmelted soap. If you touch them, you’ll see that those lumps are actually more like a paste and it means the soap flakes have dissolved already. Stir in the aloe vera and keep it a little bit longer on the stove until everything is incorporated properly. Take it off the heat and set aside to let it cool down.

Unlike the liquid hand soap I have made, the shaving cream doesn’t need to gel up for a few days. I gave it a stir every few hours and it had set completely after a day. If you don’t stir it so frequently it might take a little bit longer. When the soap has set, whip it up by hand or with a mixer and add some essential oil if your soap wasn’t scented. It will be really smooth, creamy and easy to apply. Best is to keep it in a small tin in the bathroom.

Stef

DIY Shaving Soap from a bar of cold processed natural soap |2wome2cats|

DIY Shaving Soap from a bar of cold processed natural soap |2wome2cats|

Liebster Blog Award Nomination

A few days ago our little blog was nominated for its first award by dedairyfy who creates recipes for dairy intolerant people.

She nominated us for the Liebster (germ. dearest) Award which especially helps smaller blogs to get more recognition and traffic.

Liebster Award

If you’re nominated you should either publish the award logo in a blog post or on the side bar, link back to the blogger that nominated you and answer 10 questions asked by that blog. Afterwards you nominate 10 other blogs with less than 1000 followers and create a new set of 10 questions for them. Of course you should also contact them about their nomination.

Because we are two people writing this blog we’ll answer the questions together.

1. Why did you start blogging?

We started blogging together because we wanted to share parts of our lives. As an intercultural couple there are always new things to discover, especially when at least one always lives in a country that is not their home.

2. What motivates you to continue blogging?
This blog has been getting more popular and more people are reading it now than only friends and family. We like to create recipes and write about topics that are relevant to a lot of people. Taking pictures and publishing them is also an enjoyable part of blogging.

3. How do you carve out time to write?
It is tricky sometimes. Especially when you see other blogs that publish a couple of posts per week. We are two people so you’d figure we’d have time to write all the time but unfortunately that is not the case. We just try to write on the weekends or after work.

4. What is your blogging goal?
Maybe growing a bit bigger and creating more interesting recipes.

5. If you could sell everything you owned and just move somewhere, where would you go?
That’s actually what we are doing at the moment since we’re planning to move to Germany in the summer.

6. What are three things on your bucket list?
Opening our own café, traveling the world, owning a house with a garden.

7. What’s your favorite dessert?
Stef: For me at the moment it’s our Cookie Dough Brownie Cake.
Tiia: Depends on my mood a lot but right now it would be baklava or something with fresh berries.

8. If you won $1000, what would you do?
I guess put it in the savings box for moving but that is really boring and maybe it would be better invested in a Vitamix or Optimum.

9. What is your perfect night out like?
Going out for dinner and to a bar afterwards with nice music and drinks.

10. What is your perfect night in like?
Nice food, cocktails and music. So both are actually quite similar.

Our 10 nominations for the Liebster Award:

The Angry Hungry Hobbit

Essen. Leben. Leben lassen.

Törtchen und andere Leckereien

My dear kitchen in Helsinki

exploring mojo

mithautundhaaren

Fimoni & More

The Most Beautiful Bitter Fruit

Vegane Wanderlust

Jenmuna

Our 10 new questions for these blogs (German blogs can of course answer in German if they like):

1. Why did you start blogging?
2. What is your blogging goal?
3. Have there been any special blog moments you’d like to share?
4. If you’d have one extra day per week what would you do on that day?
5. What is your favourite breakfast?
6.  Where would you like to go on a holiday?
7. Have you ever won anything?
8. Is there anything you would write a blog about but think that people just wouldn’t be interested in?
9. Food from your home country that you would definitely miss abroad?
10. What do you like to do in your free time when you’re not blogging?

We hope you had nice Easter days with lots of good food, friends and family!

Tiia & Stef

Vegan Macaroons (gluten-free) | 2women2cats |

 

 

Vegan Coconut Macaroons

Vegan Macaroons (gluten-free) | 2women2cats |

My experiments to veganize recipes continue. At the moment I am trying to make vegan macarons so a substitute for egg foam is needed. Apparently you can use no-egg but I didn’t want to buy something ready made for it.

A while ago on Pinterest I saw some vegan meringues made from flaxseed gel so I wanted to use that method to make macarons. My first attempt didn’t turn out perfectly, so I’ll give it another try later. With no more almonds in the house and more flax seed gel I decided to make coconut macaroons instead.

This recipe is really simple and good for people with food restrictions since it doesn’t include refined sugars, nuts, dairy products and is also gluten-free. If you are on a low FODMAP diet you can eat around 18 g of shredded coconut according to the app provided my Monash University. Depending on the size of your macaroons that would mean 2-3 pieces.

Vegan Macaroons (gluten-free) | 2women2cats |

But first let me explain how I got whipped “egg foam” from flaxseeds: you basically don’t have to do anything else than boil flaxseeds with water, strain them and beat the cooled down flax gel into a fluffy and shiny white egg foam!

I have to admit that I had my doubts. The gel that you get from the flaxseeds doesn’t look that appetizing, but then again egg whites don’t really either, but it works! The only problem is that it is not as stable as beaten egg whites once you try to bake it (it can’t be baked higher than 100°C). On the good side, the beaten flax foam doesn’t collapse like egg foam might, so you don’t have to be super careful while incorporating other ingredients into the flax fluff. I haven’t made simple meringues yet but at least for the macaroons I can say that they didn’t taste any different than macaroons made with egg.

Flaxseed gel

55 g flaxseeds
3 cups water

Mix everything in a saucepan and bring to a boil on medium heat. Turn the stove down to low-medium heat and let it simmer for around 20-30 minutes. To get the gel, strain the liquid out of the seeds by sifting through a fine sieve into a bowl. It will more gel like once it has cooled down. I recommend making the gel the day before. When I made it first, the foam got way firmer the second day!

Vegan Macaroons (gluten-free) | 2women2cats |

Macaroons (~ 14 pieces)

75 g cold flaxseed gel 
3 tbsp agave syrup (or other liquid sweetener like maple syrup)
100 g desiccated coconut
30 – 50 g vegan chocolate (optional)

Preheat the oven to 100°C and line a tray with parchment paper.

Beat the flax gel around 5 minutes using a hand mixer until it’s fluffy and firm just like beaten egg whites.

Vegan Macaroons (gluten-free) | 2women2cats |

Add the syrup and the coconut using a silicone spatula to incorporate everything. You can then either pipe the macaroons onto the tray, form little balls or drop the macaroons with a spoon onto the tray. I molded them between two tablespoons. Bake them for 1h 15m until they get lightly golden. They will be still soft, so let them cool down completely.

Melt the chocolate in a hot water bath. When the macaroons are completely cold, dip them into the melted chocolate and put on a baking paper to dry. Store in the fridge until serving. Enjoy!

Stef

Vegan Macaroons (gluten-free) | 2women2cats |

Vegan Macaroons (gluten-free) | 2women2cats |

Vegan Macaroons (gluten-free) | 2women2cats |