Self Care – Recipe: Chocolate Heven Cake

I’m bringing this here. It’s a recipe my mom and I came up with. I shared it on my old blog back in 2015. I’m gonna share it here, now…

(See what I did there? Chocolate HEVEN cake? Cause… heh… my last name is HEVENstone…




Carry on…)

How much do you love chocolate?

I hope chocolate is an obsession for you, because that’s required for this recipe. The cake I’m about to tell you how to make is beyond chocolate. It is another level.

These pictures are amateur, but still… look at this thing:


Oh yeah. Chocolate porn right there, folks.

Wanna learn how to make it?

Of course you do.

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Rant: Water Temperature for Tea

This is perhaps the most pointless rant I will ever write on this blog. It serves no political purpose, it’s not germane to any current events… I just…

I work at Teavana, and this is, by far, the single most common complaint we get from customers:

Customer (talking about our samples): This tea tastes so much better here then when I make it at home. And I do have the sugar.

Me: What tea are you making at home?

Customer: [It’s usually Youthberry/Wild Orange Blossom, which is a white tea blended with an herbal tea. But it’s almost alwaystea, and not an herbal tisane]

Me: And how hot is the water you use to brew it?

Customer: I mean, I [boil it on the stove/heat it in the microwave/get it from the Keurig/get it from the hot-water spigot/…]

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Self Care – The Great Bagel Debate

Ah, bagels. The world’s greatest comfort food (for me). Nothing, and I do mean nothing, beats a fresh-out-of-the-oven everything bagel, sliced horizontally, and topped with plain cream cheese, thick tomato slices, raw red onions, belly lox, and, if available, capers. But short of all that, even a good bagel by itself can make me feel wonderful…

J. Kenji Lopez-Alt of Serious Eats seems to agree with me. In fact, he wrote an entire manifesto about what makes a good bagel, and it’s a thing of beauty. To be fair, he put it up in May of 2015, but I only found it recently.

I’m much pickier about my bagels now than when I used to be. And this manifesto is a great breakdown of why…

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Self Care – And Speaking of Green Tea… Matcha! (4 YouTube Videos)

Another one of my absolute favorite green teas is Matcha, which is a green tea powder. Like Gyokuro, the tea plant is shaded for at least 20 days before harvesting. Then, the leaves are harvested. If they are rolled out to dry, like Sencha, you end up with Gyokuro. However, if the leaves are simply laid out flat to dry, they’ll crumble a bit and become Tencha. The Tencha is then ground down into powder.

I’m going to give you two videos now. The first shows the modern, mechanical processing of Tencha leaves. The next (which is below the fold) shows the traditional method of grinding Tencha into Matcha:

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Self Care – How to brew Gyokuro tea (YouTube Video)

I’m obsessed with tea.

No, not bagged tea. I don’t mind bagged tea (not even Lipton! I’ve used it before, and I’ll use it again), but when I have access to loose leaf, why would I go with bagged?

Green teas, brewed properly, are my favorite. And Gyokuro is definitely the best. It’s Japan’s highest quality tea, and is a phenomenal one.

“Gyokuro” (玉露) is Japanese for “jewel/jade dew”. It’s a shaded green tea. What that means is that at least 20 days before harvesting, a particular varietal of the Camellia sinensis plant (either Asahi, Okumidori, Yamakai, or Saemidori) is shielded, usually with bamboo, from the sun. This forces a process in which theanine and caffeine within the leaves is increased, yielding a unique, interesting aroma and flavor.

The brewing process is also rather unique. The reason for this is, specifically, the water temperature. You see, most green tea is fragile. Try to steep it with full on boiling water, and what you end up with is a nasty, bitter, undrinkable mess of a brew. And especially with a tea as expensive as Gyokuro, that’s a complete waste. Gyokuro specifically calls for water temperature range of 122°F–140°F (50°C–60°C).

And how do you brew it, exactly?

Well… watch…

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Self Care – Boiled Water Recipe (from Serious Eats) + Comments (For Purposes of Laughter)

This has always made me laugh.

Back when the amazing Serious Eats was still new, and they were testing out the recipes section, Adam Kuban decided to post a detailed, step-by-step recipe for… boiled water. Obviously, it was a joke. And the comments just took it further.

Sadly, the original recipe is gone. However, the wonderful Wayback Machine came to the rescue. So I’m going to quote the recipe, and some choice comments, here for your enjoyment.

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Self Care – My Own Ultimate Bisquick Maple (Non-Dairy) Pancakes

Woops! This is a bit late. Sorry.

I decided to share my own little recipe, here, with included nutritional facts courtesy of MyNetDiary.

I hated maple syrup when I was a kid, but now I can’t get enough of it. The flavor is incredible.

I use a maple syrup and maple sugar from a place called Breezie Maples Farm, which is featured at Long Island’s Chocolate Expo every year. Make sure that whatever maple syrup and sugar you get, it’s pure. Also, this recipe is non-dairy by necessity; we don’t have any milk in the house, just non-dairy almond milk. If I had milk, I probably would have used it.

And finally, this is Bisquick’s Ultimate Pancake recipe split in half and with a couple replacements, since it’s Bisquick I use to make pancakes (because we have it; yes, I can also make pancakes from scratch).

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Self Care – Best Vegan Mac & Cheese Recipe (YouTube Video)

It’s time to prep a midnight snack, although you may want to make sure you’re either alone, everyone is awake, or whoever you’re with is a HEAVY sleeper, as it requires a blender.

This is definitely a comfort food.

Now, I made this earlier in January while my parents were in Las Vegas (yes, I currently live with my parents; I’m barely making enough money to cover my car and health insurance payments; I definitely can’t afford rent). I didn’t have the nutritional yeast, so used a little almond milk. I can’t say exactly how much because I basically added to taste, and it was very little because the bulk of the liquid came from the broth. It was delicious, but I do want to try it with the nutritional yeast.

I haven’t made it for my parents yet, though… my dad especially likes to make “I’m a meatatarian” jokes, so it’ll be interesting to see what he thinks of it…

Self Care – Portobello Cheesteak Recipe ~ Brown Vegan (YouTube Video)

Dinner time!

So, it needs to be said that I am in love with mushrooms. Mushrooms make me so happy. I know not everyone likes them, for taste and/or other reasons (I can see why eating a fungus would be off-putting). But I’m definitely a mushroom fanatic. I have mushroom field guides (though no, I’ve not gone hunting for them… yet), apps, recipes, and more. I’m constantly on the search for new mushrooms I haven’t tried, and one day, when I have my own place, I’m going to have a mushroom garden where I grow chanterelles (my absolute favorite; sautée them with a little butter and garlic, and they actually taste like spaghetti with butter and garlic; I’m not kidding), trumpet, morels, matsutake, porcini, and a few other varieties.

One reason I adore mushrooms so much is how versatile they are. Because I love them, I can put mushrooms in almost anything (I do draw a line at desserts and other sweet stuff, though… mushrooms are savory, not sweet; and I won’t put them in “meal shakes”… I’ve seen that, and just… they’re a food, not a drink), from soup to sauces/salsa to salad to sandwiches… and, often, with the right marinades and spices, they make a perfect vegan substitute for meat. Like here…

I think the only thing I’d do differently is, like a classic cheesesteak, put the ingredients in the roll, wrap it all up real tight in aluminum foil, place them in the oven, and let the cheese melt over them that way.

Self Care – How to Make a CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE MEGA CAKE! With GIANT COOKIES & COOKIE BUTTER Buttercream! (YouTube Video)

(Have I shared this already? I think I might have. Welp, all well. Here is it again.)

love How to Cake It. Yolanda Gampp is just a phenomenal baker and artist, and her cakes are ridiculously out of this world.

As someone who loves chocolate chip cookies, this mega cake just makes me drool. I can imagine that a single slice is nearly, if not over, 1000 calories, but I don’t care, because… just… damn

Join me in drooling…