seitan is my motor



October 2014



An Independent Birthday Cake

marble bundt cake |

It’s been a week full of changes. Because of a birthday. Our daughter turned three and this means she had to switch daycare. The last two years we’ve been taking her to a child minder who looked after her and 4 other kids her age for 8 to 9 hours a day. It was a comfortable situation for us and for F. Our child minder is a wonderful person and we knew F had a great time with her. She became a very confident, open, and cheerful person and learned to do many things by herself. I knew she was taken seriously, given the attention she needed, and looked after constantly.

Now she’s a kindergarten kid, which means she has to share 2 kindergarten teachers with about 30 other kids. It’s been a shocking situation, but not for her. F is quite open to change and can deal with almost any situation. It’s really funny how children sometimes are much more grown up than adults (their parents) and can handle new situations better than them. The kindergarten has a 4 week settling down policy for the new kids, which means that we are not supposed to drop them off and leave. We go with your child for the first days to see how it goes and leave when the kid is ready. Which can take up to 4 weeks, if the parents are in the position to spent that much time there, of course. In our case F was way more ready than we. On the third day she was running around in the garden and it looked like she had completely forgotten about me. I asked the teacher if I should just leave for an hour and she said yes. So I said good-bye to F waiting for some protest. Only a little “do you really have to?” or “will you come back?” But nothing.  I left and returned after an hour. At that point F was still in the garden. I couldn’t even see her. I asked the teacher if everything had gone well and of course everything was fine. The teacher sent me away for another 45 minutes. In that time F was taken to lunch. When she finally left the lunch room I was sitting there waiting to take her home for the day. She told me all the things she had done by herself that day: she had helped herself with the food and she had eaten a lot, she had cleaned her table, and she had used the big slide in the garden all by herself. And usually she doesn’t even use a small slide all by herself.

I always thought that it’s important for children to have their own life. I know I am an important person to her, but I don’t want to be the only person being able care for her. I sometimes have to force myself to let go, I don’t always have to be in control. In my opinion this a good thing for every member of this family. When F was younger it meant I had some freedom despite having a very small baby. I didn’t have to be with her 24/7 to feed her, soothe her, or get her to sleep. Her father was as important to her as me and he could do all these things as well as me. I thought this was the way it was supposed to be and still it wasn’t easy to let go. Because from the moment I became pregnant everybody was hammering the idea into me that I, the mother, was responsible for my child and that nobody else cold take care of her as well as me. While this may be a great notion for some women, the way they want it to be, it’s just very scary for others. It’s often a burden, it’s way too much responsibility. It’s unnecessary and I think it’s not even true.

Still one of the hardest parts of parenting for me is learning to let go. I always feel the urge to be in control, to watch over everything and to protect my daughter. Being next to my daughter just watching can be very tough. She has to learn how to eats peanuts without choking, using her balance bike right next to the main street and not getting herself into an accident, or using her scissors without cutting her finger off. I have to learn to have confidence and trust in her. I have to smile while I feel like I am fainting. I have to walk away and realise that she doesn’t need you 24/7. She does well on her own. I have to let her live her own life at least for parts of the day, she has to make her own experiences so she can tell me about them and feel good about herself. And even though I have practiced this from the moment my daughter was born, even though I think it’s exactly the way it should be, the way I can raise a confident and independent child, I still haven’t accomplished it. So it’s not just her learning a lot of new things at kindergarten. It’s me too.

Okay, after this long and waxy post let’s finally get to the cake, which was F’s birthday cake. It’s a simple marble cake with a white and dark chocolate glaze. It’s moist but still firm, which is a really awesome cake feature if you give it to little kids. Well, probably it doesn’t matter what cake recipe you choose as long as you cover it in chocolate.

Please not that this cake may be a bit tricky to remove from the pan. Make sure to grease the bundt pan well and dust it with flour after greasing. After baking let it cool for one hour and then loosen the edges with a small knife.


Marble Bundt Cake

For the cake:
2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
6 tablespoons hot water
seeds from one vanilla bean
180 ml (3/4 cup) oil
250 g (1 1/4 cups) sugar
120 g (1/2 cup) plain soy yoghurt
400 g (3 1/3 cups) all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
180 ml (3/4 cup) plain soy milk
4 tablespoons Dutch process cocoa powder
2 tablespoons soy milk

For the glaze:
100 g (3.5 oz) white non-dairy chocolate
50 g (1.7 oz) dark chocolate

Grease a 23-cm (9-inch) bundt pan with coconut oil and dust it with all-purpose flour. Set aside. Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F).
Mix flax seeds and hot water and set aside for 10 minutes.
Add oil, sugar, and vanilla to a large bowl and beat well for 1 minute. Add flax and soy yoghurt and beat again until everything is combined.
Sift in flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Pour milk on top and beat until the batter is smooth but not longer than a minute.
Pour half of the batter in a second bowl and add cocoa powder and soy milk.
Pour half of the cocoa batter into the bundt pan. Add half of the vanilla batter. Repeat. Run a fork through the batter to create a marbled pattern.
Bake for 60 t0 65 minutes until the cake is done. Stick a toothpick into the centre and if it comes out clean the cake is done.
Let cool for 60 minutes. Use a small knife (preferably a very flexible plastic knife) to loosen the edges, especially around the tube in the centre. Turn the pan around and let the cake slide on a cookie rack to cool completely.

Melt the white and dark chocolate separately.
Drizzle the white chocolate over the bundt cake, then pour the dark chocolate on top. Serve the cake once the chocolate has set completely. (I let my cake sit over night.)



October 2014



Simple Meals and Short Posts

swiss chard and sesame tofu |

I should have been prepared for this because it happens every year. My neighbour gave me a huge bag of Swiss chard from her garden. I am usually very exited about that bag and at the same time I am terrified. I like greens but I am not really familiar with them. When I grew up we had a head of salad once a week and during the winter months we would eat kale. Sometimes there was cabbage soup or cabbage rolls. But that was about it. I grew up assuming that you had to cook greens for at least an hour or so until they were edible. No wonder they hardly made it on our shopping lists even later in life. I tried my first chard only a few years ago when we found it at a local grocery store. Chard, kale. fresh spinach. All these things are often not available at grocery stores over here. Or they are, but only for two weeks or so. Greens are a fancy health food store thing and I used to overlook them for years when I simply couldn’t afford to buy at a health food store. And now I had this huge bag filled with giant chard leaves sitting in a corner of the kitchen, slowly turning into a character from a Kafka novel.

I only ever realise that I don’t have to be intimidated by a bunch of greens after I have cooked them. Even the biggest pile of chard will shrink into half a plate of greens and you don’t have to cook it for longer than five minutes for that to happen. This is a simple and improvised meal for one. You can make a lot of variations, depending on what you have on hand. Use different greens, if you like. If you add a grain like rice or quinoa this will make enough for two persons. Our daughter refuses to eat any greens that are not puréed into soups, green smoothies, or creamed spinach. So for her we made the tofu with green beans and rice instead, which may also be a great variation for everybody who has a hard time to find fresh greens.


Swiss Chard with Sesame Tofu

For the tofu:

2 tablespoons sesame seeds
4 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon grated ginger
a fresh red chili, minced and to taste
1 package (200 g/7 oz.) firm tofu, drained

For the chard:
1 tablespoon oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
260g chard, cleaned and cut into small stripes


Place the sesame seeds in a pan and toast until golden brown. Transfer to a bowl that will be large enough to later toss the seeds and the tofu.

Combine water, soy sauce, lemon juice, sugar, garlic, ginger, and chili if using. Whisk briefly.

Cut the tofu into bite size rectangles, about 1/2 cm (1/8 inch) thick. Heat a large non-stick pan over medium heat. Don’t add any oil. Transfer the tofu pieces to the pan and cook until golden brown, then flip and brown the other side.

Pour the marinade over the tofu and stir until most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 2-5 minutes. Remove from heat, pour into the sesame seed bowl and toss.

Heat the same non-stick pan again and add oil. Fry the onion for about 2 minutes, then add garlic and  fry until fragrant. Add the chard and fry until wilted, about 4-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Place on a plate and top with tofu.

Serve with lemon juice and hot sauce.
swiss chard and sesame tofu |

Eat more cake.