Vegan Hot Cross Buns

Hot-cross buns!
Hot-cross buns!
One a penny, two a penny,
Hot-cross buns!
If you have no daughters,
Give them to your sons;
One a penny, two a penny,
Hot-cross buns!

 

Ishtar (Easter) is around the corner. I do not celebrate Ishtar/Easter but do often like to indulge in the hot cross buns that are associated with Ishtar/Easter, so I took advantage of this and decided to play around with my own vegan version of the hot cross bun. It was also a great way to get the baking energy going in my new home, 2 weeks after moving in. Please excuse the photography, as I am still in the process of finding my feet in my new home so I somewhat eagerly took out the photos without checking back on it and of course the rest is history. To add to it, my new, old oven needs some getting used to and waiting for the landlord to sort out, which left my hot cross buns a tad burnt on the underside. The texture is on the dense side, which I have not even perfected yet in normal bread rolls. Leave the entire nitty-gritty aside and the proof is in the pudding. These tasted divine, though next time I will not be afraid of adding too much spice and all things nice.

The recipe (I adapted this recipe from a non-vegan recipe) did call for 1 teaspoon Mixed Spice I did not have Mixed Spice readily on hand when making this recipe so I just improvised the following.

1/4 tsp ground All Spice
1/4 tsp ground Cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground Nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground Clove
1/8 tsp ground Coriander
1/8 tsp Ginger

So if you have Mixed Spice on hand then just use 1 tsp of Mixed Spice.

Time – approx. 2hrs
Serves – 12

Ingredients

Buns
750g or 6 Cups Bread Flour
90g or 100ml Solid Coconut Oil
1 tsp Mixed Spice
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1 tsp Himalayan Fine Salt
Pinch Elachi
60g or 1/3 Cup Muscovado with caramelized sugar
150g or 3/4 Cup Dried Fruit Cake Mix
25g or Tblspn finely chopped Mixed Citrus Peels (Orange, Lemon, and Lime peels)
Grated Rind of 1 Lemon
10g Instant Yeast
Orgran equivalent to 2 eggs or 3 Tblspn vinegar
300ml of warm coconut milk or any non-dairy milk of your choice.

Crosses
1/2 Cup Plain Flour
1/4 Cup Cold Water

Glaze
2 tsp Castor Sugar
2 tsp Boil Water

 

Method

  1. Rub the Solid coconut oil into the flour to represent bread crumbs.
  2. Add in all the other dry ingredients.
  3. Mix the Orgran equivalent to 2 eggs (skip this step if using vinegar).
  4. Warm the Milk slightly and add the Orgran to it (add vinegar if you not using Orgran).
  5. Make a well in your dry ingredients and pour the milk.
  6. Mix well and knead dough for 5min.
  7. Cover airtight and let rise in a dark warm place for 45 min.
  8. After 45min punch air bubbles out and knead the dough again for 5min.
  9. Divide into 12 equal portions and roll each portion in rounds.
  10. Place in a greased baking tray equal distance from each other, cover and let rise in a dark warm place for another 45min.
  11. Pre-heat oven 200 Degree Celsius.
  12. Mix Flour and cold water to make a thick paste.
  13. Slightly cut crosses on the hot cross bun and put the paste strategically on the crosses. You can use icing pipe to do this but I do not have one.
  14. Bake for 15-20min.
  15. Mix Castor Sugar and Water and brush onto hot cross buns just as they come out of the oven.
  16. Let cool and enjoy them with Vegan margarine or Jam or just on its own. Simply Divine.

PEACE

PN

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How It All Began…

I have never (almost) been the one that subscribed to a material lifestyle. When I was a child, I felt that life was meant to be full of experiences rather than material gains. Of course I would have loved to have a grand bed to sleep on and possibly had a library in our home and had the privilege of buying sweets and other goodies from our local vendor whenever I wanted to and not steal money from our prayer place that my parents so religiously gave to the Goddess Luxmi every Friday, to feed my habit.

We were an average family who probably did live slightly below the breadline but our tummies where filled to our hearts content before we retired for the nights and we had a roof over our heads and pretty decent clothes. Our basic needs where met and that is all I needed whilst growing up. If my parents felt otherwise I would often remind them how rich we were, by these basics we had.

All that changed when I met my life partner at the age of 18. By the age of 20 I already had a house, fully furnished, with up to groceries been stored in the relevant cupboard. All I had to do was get married and move in with my clothing, which I did, by the way, at the age of 22.

The house was a whopping and embarrassing 360sq mtrs floor size. My embarrassment of having it ALL was probably taken the wrong way by my newly adopted family. My father in law gave us this and all I needed to do was appreciate what I was given and move on. And not that my life partner earned enough money for us to afford any of this in any ways but there was always that struggle between my embarrassment and appreciation. People would visit for the first time and their comments would be “oh you caught the jackpot” or “you are so lucky” or “your husband and his family are larnies (SA slang for rich people)”, proving that I possibly married him for the money he did not have.  Quite the conflicting statements though, as my father in law worked very hard to retire early in life and to give his two sons and their family, the basic set up for their lives. I remember going into a departmental store one day to open a credit account and a family member worked there and her response to us opening the account was classic “Oh don’t worrying about credit checking them, they are rich”…….

Yes, I was embarrassed to be associated with the luxury of being rich (which was a false interpretation anyway, as we also made ends meet like everyone else, just with a fancy bond free home) as I found that people only associated me (you) with my (your) material possessions.

Fast forward to today. I am sitting in a rented home with just the basic things I need and feel literally light and airy about my being. I have nothing major on my name. My clothes can literally fit into a suitcase and I don’t carry much baggage figuratively and literally around. I did get my journey and I did get life experiences and I have attempted many times from then till end of 2014 to completely minimise but having kids it was a challenge to do so and especially if you are Life Learners you do tend to hoard materials for ‘just in case the kids needed it’.

I think the luxuries I do have are mainly for my kids and visitors, because if I could go the whole nine yards, my life partner and I would follow the Japanese floor culture by sleeping on a futon, have big cushions to sit on when watching tv (if and when we do), have low-rise tables to dine at and continue with the Indian Culture of eating from banana leaves, would add to my favourite way of being.

Backtracking to 2014 and what prompted my decision to dive into the minimalistic living? Over 16 years prior to 2014, I have bought and collected books. Books have been my prized possession since I could read, and its weight worth more than gold to me. Combine a book collector and OCD and you have a job for life. My five bookshelves that had double stack of books on each shelf needed to be cleaned often as my OCD allowed it and when we moved house well that needed to be packed and moved. When I moved from Durban to Johannesburg in 2011, I had over 12 boxes of books and possibly only 4 boxes of other personal belongings. My family didn’t care much for them as I did. I would have to moan for help to clean up my shelves and books.

One senseless day at the end of 2014, I went about my usual routine cleaning and I had an enlightened moment. If I had to die anytime soon, what would my family do to my prized possessions? It got me thinking, why would I want to leave such burdens to my family to inherit as they have no passion for books the way I do and they certainly will not take care of them like I would and I am probably going to haunt them beyond the dead if they didn’t, I chuckled to myself. I then reckoned it was time to let go. Let go of the books, which I dearly loved and treasured as it was taking up way too much of my time, unnecessarily.

If I could get rid of my jewels, which are my books then I can downsize everything else, which I eventually did! I gathered anything and everything that did not serve me in a year, and either sold it or donated it.

Minimalising is a process of eliminating all the unnecessary from your life and making room for important matters. Once you start the process you will find that it will leak into everything you do, from what you eat, the thoughts you keep, the people you associate with, to thinking before buying or any action for that matter. It is a complete and holistic approach to living and just being. Mind, body and soul become decluttered. It is basic Feng Shui!

In the beginning organised chaos already existed.

Organised chaos was with Minimalism,

and organised chaos was Minimalism.

PEACE

PN

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What Is Life Learning

We are all born with the gift of learning, which is instinctive and intuitive. A simple action of a baby sucking their thumb in utero is proof of the natural learning process. It does not happen by accident either, as research has discovered that baby in utero is anticipating the thumb entering his mouth so he opens his mouth before he can actually stick his thumb in it. Every moment a baby is in utero time is taken up by growing, developing, learning, and changing. There are numerous things a baby learns in utero, deciding which sounds, smells, and tastes they like without much influence of the outside world. This is naturally continued after you are born until the outside world tells you differently.

I played classical music for both my kids when I was pregnant with them, but it did not make them necessarily love classical music later on in life after they were born. This shows that we are all born with this individuality and of being different and when not tampered with we can decide for ourselves, our likes and dislikes and what is best for us as an individual.

I am always amused as how parents tend to take credit for teaching their kids to walk and talk.  No one teaches us these fundamental developments through different stages of our life. Like in Utero they learn at their own pace. What babies do, though, is mimic their surroundings and learn through their six senses with their sixth sense being instinct/intuition.

Humans have a natural curiosity to learn so we develop physiologically, psychologically and intellectually. Learning is a natural side effect of all human activity and is self-initiated and self-motivated. We learn in different ways and develop differently from our peers and at different rates in all areas of our life. So why are we put in a box and forced to learn the same way as everyone else?

Another astounding humorous human condition is, we spend the first two years of our child’s life encouraging/waiting for them to walk and talk and the next 16 years of their life confined to a box where you have to shut up! Sit still! And Listen!

Take a few moments to digest this…….

As parents we love unconditionally, trust and make sure our kid’s basic needs are met. We create a safe environment for them and mostly keep them protected from harm’s way.

What happened to these essentials, unconditional love, trust, basic needs, and security?

Unconditional love is something we stop having when we start having expectations of our children and base their lives on a reward system for ‘Good Behaviour’. Yes, I know, you probably going to lash at me for undermining your love for your child, but I challenge you to think deeply about this, about what unconditional love actually means?

What happened to those first few years where we trusted our kids to learn and grow at their own pace?  What happened to TRUSTING our kids? Trust stops happening when we start telling them what to do!

Basic needs go beyond just shelter, clothing and food. We have taken away their basic need to just play. We have taken their basic need to explore and have confined them to 45min break for the entire day.

Then we have taken their sense of security away by leaving them with some stranger they do not even know, for most of their waking time very early stages of their life. BTW – This stranger we trust, but goodness forbid if we trust our own kids!

I want you to take a look at these two photos. One is childhood in a modern day school gathering of kids and the other is childhood and child labour in the industrial revolution.

 

If you see a difference in these two photos then I challenge you to stretch your mind and explore the idea of the similarities of these photos. I can see the difference in their physical attire, but I see no difference from a psychological and soulful (mental) point of view. Children where slaves to the system then, and are still slaves to the system now!!!

Everything else around us has evolved

Telephones have evolved to cellphones and our mode of transport from the horse and cart has evolved too, possibly be introduced into the market in the near future, the Uber self-driving cars.

So why have we not evolved from schools to learning centres that have all the resources for our kids to self-direct their learning and spend more time free playing? Why haven’t we evolved from teachers to facilitators? Why is our schools been run by adults and not adults and the children? Why is democracy not displayed with our kids? Are they not the future of our world? So let me get this, we want a democratic world but will not exercise this democracy with our own kids? Charity begins at home or should I say democracy begins at home!

Let us hop onto those hobbies we/kids have, (DO NOT let go of them). Hobbies are 100% interest driven and generally it takes a back seat because there are more ‘important’ things, dictated to you, that need to be done, before we can actually sit down to do something we truly enjoy. If you are enjoying something, does it mean you are not learning? Sadly, it is the disease of our society to make you feel guilty about enjoyment.

The good news is we have started revolutionising the way we interact with young people. There are growing numbers of families who have recognised and adopted the life learning philosophy. Many more are considering this way of life. Not only is it practical, it eliminates the consumerism of education and exposes the debt trap you are handed over once you have graduated.  These parents are identifying that children have an innate curiosity and intuition to learn without the boundaries implicated on them in traditional school systems. It is also recognised that standardising a child is ludicrous, as no individuals are the same. So sitting in a classroom learning the exact same thing as your peers, who are the exact same ages as you, to produce the exact same results is definitely absurd. Life Learning appreciates that you learn differently from your peers.

So what is Life Learning?

Life learning is an educational method and philosophy that advocates learner-chosen activities as a primary means for learning. In other words, trust your child!

Commonly known as…

Unschooling, Free Range Learning and other tags.

Life Learning has been a personal journey for my family and me.

We had our minds expanded to levels that we did not even think was possible. We eventually unwound the fear and slowly peeled away the layers of indoctrination and beliefs of we need someone to teach us in order for us to learn. We started enjoying the wonderment of life curing the disease of we are not learning if we are enjoying something. We got to experience the true meaning of living in the NOW! We take a topic that interest us and are able to delve into the depths of it and dissect it to our hearts content until we feel we have absorbed everything about that topic, without having to worry to waste a minute on anything else.

The depth of conversations I have with my own kids, I have never in my entire life have had with any adult, up to date! I rejoice in the uniqueness in each of them and love watching them being who they truly are. By the way, deep and profound conversations about life and all that is, is a natural almost daily or weekly occurrence in my home.

What happens when we bring our kids up with trust and unconditional love?

  • They get to be WHO YOU REALLY ARE.
  • They will become independent individuals who know what is best for them.
  • They will become Masters of their own Mind, Body and Soul/Heart
  • They will create their OWN boundaries and likewise push their OWN boundaries
  • They will carry this Life Learning Thinking throughout their life as they will know learning is a by-product of ANY activity.
  • They will begin to discover their own personal potential.
  • They become passionately involved in what interests them.
  • They will expand their mind to understand that a graduation is not a destination
  • They will experience joy and happiness more, as they will be doing more of what they enjoy opposed to being forced to do what they don’t enjoy.

The beauty of Life Learning is, it can be adopted at any age from in utero till end of your life’s journey.

We live in the digital age of Information with the World Wide Web at our fingertips so it does not make sense for schools anymore. There are many Massive Open Online Courses and a Tuition-Free University, where you can learn just about anything for free.

Alison.com, EDx, Coursera, Youtube, khan academy, Free Code Camp, University of the People, to name a few of these online resources.

Swaraj University in India is a Life Learning University. Their students design their own learning for two years and are helped to be placed in the practical work place to learn and build their own portfolio.

Schools in Finland have done away with homework and exams till kids are well into their teens. Sudbury, Waldorf and Steve Jobs Schools are alternative systems that allow for child-directed activities.

Big Organizations, such as Google and EY, are beginning to change the way they view education. They have started to employ interest driven people rather than someone that has just finished their degree.

This article is just the broader aspect of what Life Learning is. I will be tackling more detailed experiences and topics in future blogpost.

PEACE

PN

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Chinese Whispers

I was looking at one of our local Newspapers, the Post, dated in 2006 that featured an article of our beautiful family of four. BABY JOY FOR COUPLE!!! We all grinned very joyfully for the man behind the camera on that particular day in autumn and when I say all, even our baby managed a gas that materialised into a smile for the camera. I remember the interview with the reporter somewhat vaguely. She sat across me asking me relevant questions and continued jotting down notes in her book like we were some prominent people in society, like the Osbournes.  Questions were liberally and innocently answered as we casually sipped on a cup of tea………No wait! Rewind! There was no tea in this scene.

Far back as a decade ago, newspapers were still the primary source of information, here in South Africa at least, and once in black and white, it was very hard to correct any information that was in print. People who read the article has already formed an opinion about you and very unlikely will take to a second article that corrected the initial mis-information, taking into consideration that not everyone could afford the local newspaper all the time, thus leaving them clueless to the correction of the article.

Opinions also rarely mattered then, or should I re-phrase that and state: opinions were not instantly available except for the aunties who were kitchen door neighbours  that stood outside with curlers in their hair and in their nightgowns, during the spare time given to them; between the kids departure to school and the husbandry before they got back home, chirping away with their counterpart over the concrete fence that separated both the houses, if they even had one of those back then, is that the concrete fence not the aunties that chirped. That is where the opinions ended! With the endless chirps of the home executives playing a game of Chinese Whispers or Broken Telephone!

Newspapers had a prominent role in society but that role has slowly been diminished by the active increase in social media and instant messaging. Back then journalist basked in their glory of slight and somewhat sinister exaggerations to get snatched up in a hurry by the corner of an eye of some unsuspecting runner to the bus station.  The ambiguous headlines also left one no room for thought and to get Curious George out to play. “Eyes drops off Shelf!” “Eyes drops off Shelf! OR “Prostitutes Appeal to Pope!” “Prostitutes Appeal to Pope” …… “Come get your copy now!” screams the paper boy who makes his bucks of these catchy ambiguities.

Have times really changed?  Or have we become our own worst journalists, reporting on every whims and fancies leaving no room for cobwebs and dust to collect in the corners.  Humans thrive on each other’s mis-haps and on their controversy. We sit very smug behind our alter ego and become experts in any field that feeds the controversy. Facts become distorted and fallacies are the auto immune disease of the new generation of bit and bytes.

Information at your fingertips! There is a great plus side to all of this, though it may be a bittersweet experience for some (most?) Homo sapiens.  If we can bear the patience and sift through the dis-ease and the jibber jabbers, there are little specs of star dust hidden eloquently in a nest of wisdom exposing the truths and facts. If we can strip away the over-reactions to the modern day trolls and just take 10 seconds to breathe, count to 10 if you have to, to soothe yourself and think before you comment or re-post. As your fellow sapien I would need to take my own advice.

A Journalist then may have interpreted the truth for their own benefits of selling a newspaper.  It was their job to expose the truth in an animated way. They knew people loved stories but they also knew they could not lie or deform a character. It was their oath for the public to get the truth and nothing but the truth no matter how much action they jam packed in it. The truth was there, somewhere, hidden amongst all the flowery semantics.

We have certainly evolved in technology, but has man evolved to making better critical use of the information at hand? Or have we been so dumbed down by technology and instant gratification that we have lost the ability to think for ourselves, or think?!!

We have not changed; we just became better at playing Chinese Whispers!

PEACE

PN

Baby Joy For Couple

 

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