Chewy Molasses Cookies (vegan, gluten-free)

Hello, 2018.

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Today’s mantra is to foil the decrees of fate. It’s a new beginning. A time to accomplish or start something crazy, something you’ve never perhaps thought of doing, something that challenges and awakens you. Though I’m not all one for resolutions, I do believe in constant improvement, be it beginning of the year or just to try for a week, and some of mine include meditation and dedication to spreading some creative plant-lovin’, delicious inspiration. All harnessed by wild flavours, backed by both the sheer fun of it and the constantly evolving, growing fields of scientific research to justify the increased consumption of plants.

This is long-awaited, you and me both. The day is waning and the night, calling. Sitting here in the cutest café in Brick Lane, one that, as usual, I’ve been meaning to visit for quite a while. How I’ve missed the abundance of vegan foodthings and places in London. I’ve found it easier to accommodate and adapt in Singapore and Japan, some of the most vegan-unfriendly places yet in Southeast Asia, but it’s nice to come back to a haven of cheap rice and gourmet goods galore, all of which make this endeavour to be a little more kinder and connected way more convenient. One thing I learnt, especially in the past year, is that it’s ok to not care what other people think. Kein stress.

Japan, the family’s most recent adventure, was a wild chase of dreams. We were caught in a blizzard (not so fun), I had the most amazing vegan kaiseki (darn fun), where they fried apples and braised five different species of yam just for me. Pitied the poor chef, but hey, maybe I helped expand his own creative horizons. Every little course was a magical bonsai garden, bursts of flavour, emotional flavour. It’s this refinement and creativity I wish to recreate in my own sweet, plant-based endeavours.

And here is a recipe that heralds both Christmas and the New Year, from me to you. I made this at the start of the Christmas week, and made it again two days later. And again here, trying to preserve the fire of the festive spirit that is now withering like the sun each day at 4.

Chewy treacly cookies, rounded and sugar-shelled. Spicy, hearty, dense. 

Here’s to defying gravity this 2018.

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Chewy Molasses Cookies (makes 8-10 medium cookies)

Ingredients

50g almond flour

60g cornstarch

pinch of salt

120g almond butter, store-bought or homemade

120g applesauce

50g coconut sugar

1 tsp ground ginger (optional)

1 tsp cinnamon (not optional)

1 tsp baking soda

1 tbsp lemon juice+1 tsp vanilla extract

3 tbsp sugar (I used coconut, but you can use white/brown)

Optional Icing: 1tsp lemon juice+ 5 tbsp icing sugar

Directions

Preheat your oven to 180C (350F). Line two baking trays with parchment paper. Tip all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk everything together with an electric mixer or a fork. Break off large chunks of the dough, roll into balls and place on the parchment paper. Press down lightly so that and bake in the preheated oven for 15-18 minutes. Once done, leave to rest on the counter to cool; they should be quite soft to touch, but don’t do that too much else they’ll just crumble and fall apart. Make the icing and drizzle onto the cookies.

Magic (and some Rome shots)

We have reached the point of magic.

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Friends, Christians, Romans (ha ha), the magic has bloomed and taken over us all right now. It’s broken down from an anticipating cloud into a million little sparkles, drenching us from the inside out. As I swoon over all my presents, as I write letters and notes on what I got from who, it strikes me just how much we take for granted this one day. I went upstairs to my room’s cupboard, or what I label my storage cupboard, and rummaged through the years’ accumulation of boxed-up presents and toys and stuffed animals. Sitting on their bums. Nonchalant state, blind, hell, probably bored, but sparkling with the memories born of yesteryears. In Singapore right now, there’s no frolicking in conifer-laden forests, no restless gallivanting in the gelid (I learnt this fun word today, which basically means wintery or cold. Accomplishment number one- done) snow. Pity, isn’t it. I haven’t posted any shots of Rome yet, so please enjoy the cigarette smoke you see streaming out of this man’s hole, as well as the crazy espresso culture I immersed myself in.

Pictures. Nothing more, nothing less, but so profound through my lens.

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Yes, I’m the blur-eyed thing on the left.

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My mother got me something quite wonderful this Christmas, something I can’t bear to disclose here because the excitement and giddiness is both frustrating and overwhelming. I’m angry, so angry at her for spoiling me this way. It actually hurts. Materialistic goods are for the faint of heart, or perhaps those overly ridden with the frivolous joys and majesties of this intrinsically materialistic world, and yet here I am gushing about the latest bag or my new New Scientist subscription and recipe book. No critics allowed here, please.

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Sometimes I forget how small I am. In the midst of two-metre tall letters, bundled up in winter gear, heart thumping, internally applauding the graciousness of God made real and beautiful in the gold, ornate interior of St. Peter’s Basilica. Slivers of light to greet us, the warmth and holiness of hundreds of years preserved for us to revel in.

I’m so happy I shall make some rum-spiced tiramisu.

Yes. Right about now.

I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas

It’s.

ALMOST.

That specific time of year again. And now, since getting my Nikon D3200, I’ve gone on a nonsensical happy-snapping spree.

Absolutely shameless, but I shall attempt to maintain some level of modesty here.

The thought of another big year, starting the IB with more fresh (sometimes acne-crusted) faces and a myriad of projects is mind numbingly intimidating. To celebrate the wonder of Christmas is humble annual tradition in the Lim house~

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I’ve gotta son now, and his name is Connor. I suppose my habit of naming inanimate possessions is normal. I have a 6-year old anatomy model called Toby. Yes, very normal.

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Oh the fluttery butterflies I get when I see a crisp fake tree. But yes, anyway.

This is just one of those excuses whereby I get to put my nose into the sweaty kitchen work and activate some elbow grease. I am a most pathetic cook and I only just learnt how to chop a bleeping garlic yesterday. Smash, chop off ends, snip snap snop. Mince, pivot, repeat and repeat. Total novice would be a famed title, to say the least.

The buffet spread really was magnificent. Divine, rich, glorious. All other suitable adjectives.

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A slightly burnt sticky toffee date pudding, minus the treacle-like, thick toffee sauce

My mother’s signature dessert is her absurdly moist, dense and almost heavy sticky toffee date pudding. Nicely chewy. I enjoy things which aren’t particularly easy to nosh. This is it. Splendor within the process of eating it. Never a one-bite-and-it’s-gone sort of thing.

It’s a squashed brown tin with those wonderful burnt ridges which one would happily pick off the side of a plate. This was trial one and not the actual thing, since we happily starting shrinking mushrooms in pans whilst leaving the oven on a tad too long. It’s a beautiful thing really, to perfect this tart. And it can only ever be glorious when drenched in a rich and blindingly sweet toffee sauce, coupled with a scoop of good vanilla bean ice cream.

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spinach and mushroom quiche at Goodwood Park Hotel
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Durian puffs. Freshly piped and looking mighty pregnant…
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It’s an ordeal
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Chicken liver pate. Best in the world.

Traditionally made in a food processor in this household. A good swig of each ingredient in the perfect ratio to make the perfect, decadent pate. Luscious, milky and almost sombre-looking (though entirely sophisticated). My favourite appetiser of all time. Needless to announce, I do love liver a hell lot.

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Blue cheese stuffed dates, a surprisingly workable combination
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Wild rice and edamame salad
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What’s Christmas without a great hulking roast?
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Get closer and you can even smell the bubbles in this mac and cheese made with gruyere and parmesan

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Booze

NOTE: I’m flying off to Mougins, Southeastern France this Wednesday on the 12th. Family will be staying in the blooming countryside near Cannes, before we go to the Italian Alps for some serious skiing business (ah yes, did I mention my very first time?). It’s all fires and starry sweaters and hot chocolates with roasted, melting marshmallows. Dandelions and Michelin-starred restaurants and prosecco and psychedelic fields. Coming back from all the wintery goodness the day before Christmas!

The very notion of simply being at Terminal 3, before sitting on an airplane with best friends Dan Brown and Stephen King, is quite simply warm nostalgia flooding all the senses. I’ll be singing Strawberry Fields Forever on the way, whilst looking down at the ant-sized world beneath. Will also be attempting to finally finish my other reading pressies, including Vanity Fair given to me by my dear (and awfully crazy) lady friend Ruru(: Books are just the most priceless gifts out there, no?

I call it a diamond feeling. Prepping myself for movie marathons and deep stretches in between hours of being confined to a single, neckache-inducing seat. I shall return with a cornucopia of pictures, for no journey may have existed without prized evidence. Love adventures; to escape from routine and familiarity.

“Memory is the basis of every journey.”- Stephen King