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)


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


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.

Coconut Molasses Cake

Or The First Cake I Made In a Long Time During a Family Holiday, because it sounds 100 times more special that way.

A bit more than a while. That would be a good way to describe this period of absence. The air is heavy with moisture and the air con remote is a touch too far. Sweat is threatening to ruin the afternoon, but I’m learning to be ok with that again. The heat is foreign, but this is home. It has been too long since Home. Having just touched down here after a 10-day trip to New Zealand, it all does feel a little strange; the past couple of months have been saturated with train hopping and exploring more of the never-touched or heard or loved. From London to Germany to Austria and New Zealand. Never has a heart been so full or a conscience so sharp. I miss it, but Home is lovely and missed, too. Soon the plane will be calling again, and the suitcase will be bursting at the seams. Now? Now is for Here. And that means reminiscing the sweetness of the long gone with the pictures you see below, starting with Germany and ending with Queenstown. It’s a story starting with rustic pre-Christmas German charm, bellies warm with mulled wine and lips sweetened with lebkuchen (gosh I miss that so much already), then sun and adrenalin shaking up the frame in a town of all-smiles.




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In short, a whirlwind of a year. From travelling a lot more to publishing my first book, to more moments of simultaneous despondence and ecstasy, to meeting someone special, doubting and then hoping, and then ultimately trusting. I have my doubts, like those concerning the western world and North Korea and the circulation of science and technology in the hands of people most can’t will themselves to trust. But perhaps the silver lining is trust. A lot of hope is stabilised with just that– trust in oneself, in those who love you, in love itself.

11.49pm. 11 minutes to 2017, here in Singapore at least, and I sit here reminiscing bits and bobs and splatters of time, grateful for what has gone and what has to come. What exactly remains unsaid, and that’s the way it will always be. The most important thing is to be wild, be the best of yourself. As of now there is no standard list of resolutions, no I Will Be Fitter or even a I Will Be Better or I Will Stop Judging and Being a Bad Sister. Which sounds ridiculous, like I’m some downgraded version of yesteryears, the worst of all the possible Alex’s. But I see the new year as a chance to hone previously set goals, and to love what I love with even more fervour and passion. I want to continue the upkeep of this blog, to weave stories of food and knowledge and life and love and science. To understand, then create. To explore and wander.

The last morning in New Zealand came and I decided to make something simple but festive. A tribute to both Christmas and New Year’s, with a gold sparkle and kick.

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The top is crispy, the middle mottled with brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon and plenty of desiccated coconut. A bite takes you to a good middle state of longing and bliss– post-Christmas, Pre-NYE. This is perfect with coffee (or champagne, hey), a dollop of yoghurt of coconut cream, and more grated coconut on top.


Coconut Molasses Cake


260g all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda (alternatively, use self-raising flour and leave out the leavening agents)

pinch salt

160g sugar– 125g white and 35g soft brown sugar (subs: coconut/maple sugar)

1 tsp each of ginger and cinnamon (optional)

130g butter (sub: vegan butter/ Earth balance/ coconut oil)

120ml blackstrap molasses

120ml milk of choice (normal/plant-based)

100g (1 cup) desiccated coconut

2 eggs (sub: flax eggs– make one by mixing 1 tbsp flax with 2 tbsp water and letting sit for at least 5 minutes)



In a microwave, heat together the water and butter until both are melted. Preheat your oven to 200C (400F) and grease a 9×9 or 7×13-inch baking pan. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, ginger and cinnamon. Add the butter-water mix, then mix in the rest of the ingredients on the list. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-28 minutes, then take out and leave to cool for 10 minutes before cutting.

Serve with coconut cream or yoghurt, grated dark chocolate and more desiccated coconut.



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So I browsed a lot of blogs and websites on what we term the Meaning of Life. Poor, pathetic Alex, lost in this constant state of confusion and lack of self-assertion, the unbearable heaviness and drowsiness of ennui, of the gross grey state, of absolute insecurity. Hey, let me live my life. It’s fascinating alright. The fact that we all have such different ideals and notions and attitudes. We are freaking magnificent. 

Here’s one I particularly enjoyed by famed science writer Stephen Jay Gould:

“We are here because one odd group of fishes had a peculiar fin anatomy that could transform into legs for terrestrial creatures; because the earth never froze entirely during an ice age; because a small and tenuous species, arising in Africa a quarter of a million years ago, has managed, so far, to survive by hook and by crook. We may yearn for a ‘higher’ answer — but none exists. This explanation, though superficially troubling, if not terrifying, is ultimately liberating and exhilarating. We cannot read the meaning of life passively in the facts of nature. We must construct these answers ourselves — from our own wisdom and ethical sense. There is no other way.”

Guys, it’s 2014. I can say it out loud, though it’s a little hard. It’s hard for me to say things without fully coming to terms with its gargantuan impact. I have officially had this blog for (ok almost) a year now, and even though I still keep a diary for more personal recordings, for a more self-assured, sometimes hazardous and selfish reinforcing of a sense of self, I found that this online release has introduced me to so many amazing human beings, inspirations, really allowing me to delve further into my passions of food and science. 

I wrote down my resolutions in my diary, but then put down my pen. Continued the lazy browsing.

Four-teen. Two thousand and four-teen. Note the hyphen. The break for perfect pronounciation in normal conversation. It’s that nascent trembling again, that time when you’re supposed to make, what, a list? God I love making lists. I really do. It’s not banal, it’s not perfunctory. To me, a list is the epitome of organised thought, aside from some brilliant novel. As I said, something in me made me stop the recollection. In short, we should, no, need to, differentiate between recollection and appreciation. I’m currently reading a book about Proust and how in many of his novels and his own life (you can find it here), we may digest a tremendous amount of life lessons. Things like how to listen properly and how to take your time, the sort of self-help (goodness gracious what on earth) book I foresee myself purchasing when I’m 80 and grey and run out of excuses for a good life. But anyways, there are so many resources informing us on how to live, how to learn, how to see. How to pursue our passions and live in the most fulfilling way possible. Satisfying our inborn needs and letting our surroundings complete us somehow. Funny huh, how we strive for utmost perfection in our individual ways. In the book, I came across this particularly striking notion, the sort which actually relates to people on a mass scale.

You know how when you see something and just.. Like it? You just do. The shine on a pink apple, the drab but surreal and enlightening tones of a winter tree, maybe the sudden faint smell of tobacco and peppermint, for whatever odd reason that may be. That is because it provokes or stirs up an emotion in you, triggering a beautiful or old memory of some sort. Maybe you just like the aesthetic/visual/aural  appeal of that object. Whether you identify the psychological reason behind it or not, you like it. That is essentially a fraction of the explanation detailing what makes us who we are and well, the mistake we always tend to make. In our everyday lives, we cease to stop and look, and only really get hit by an object’s full impact when it’s separated from a particular context, when we look from the outside in. Sometimes the object is fully placed in its usual habitat, it’s just that this time our senses are so heightened that it is suddenly transformed into something so excruciatingly potent or beautiful. All the details of its beauty are caught out, which is why most of us get that sad nostalgia churning on the inside when we reach (again, again) the end of a year. We look at what we have done, what we have accomplished, what more we need to do to satisfy those inner needs or self-manifested benchmarks for worthiness and goodness. And then what happens? We want to put a label on the Meaning of Life so darn badly that we actually forget to live life. To appreciate. Live. I’m not going to resolve to ‘live life to the fullest’ or ‘be the best’- I’ve done that too many times and I bore myself with my pseudo-disciplinary methods. Oh, so bored. But I am going to be absolutely ridiculous this year. And what I mean by that is to really throw myself into the many factions of my life and all it has to offer, and handle things my way, be it intertwined with my weird study schedule, obsessive skincare routine or the way I make my coffee in the mornings. That may seem the same as living life to the fullest, but remember, I said ridiculous. Just as beauty to you is different than what it is to me, what I term ridiculous, or absurd, may be utterly different from your definition.

After all:

“We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us.”




Happy New Year, you devils.