Sweet Potato Brownies

Yesterday saw my first attempt at sweet potato brownies. The recipe, which called for sweet potatoes, dates, almond powder, flour, maple syrup, cocoa and salt — No butter! No sugar! A healthy snack that would still taste great! — had aroused my curiosity some time ago.

I am sorry to say, this foray into vegan baking was not well received by my family. Once the brownies had cooled off (the recipe explained that they needed time to “stick together”, which did sound a little ominous), an unsuspecting Brother was the first guinea pig. Mom and I both hoped that he would love them, and then discover what they contained. We watched with scientific interest as Brother, in true Paul Hollywood style, picked up the brownie and inspected it.

“Hmm, not as crispy as I should like,” he commented.
He munched, his face pensive. “Very moist,” he said. “It’s different from other brownies”. While still under the belief that the brownie contained “actual” ingredients, his critique, though not enraptured, was generous.

Mom and I observed his every bite. “What can you taste?” we asked. Continue reading

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Illustration Friday: STAR

This week’s Illustration Friday prompt is “Star”. Here is my contribution — I’m early this week!

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Illustration Friday: INK

Every week, Illustration Friday runs a fun challenge: they propose a word, and everyone sends in their illustration. Here is my contribution to this week’s prompt: INK.

Ink.

“Ink”. (Ink and pencil).

Below are some of my exploratory sketches.

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Playing around.

Playing around.

A first version.

A first version.

Today, I also baked Early Grey cupcakes (yum), took a vibrant, colorful autumnal walk and reminisced about yesterday’s Great British Bake Off.

Illustration Friday: Mermaid

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Here is my drawing for this week’s Illustration Friday challenge. The word to illustrate was “Mermaid”.

Gent: A Sketch

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View from the Jakobijnenstraat, Gent.

This quick sketch is based on a picture taken in Gent, Belgium.
The drawing is pencil on a green watercolor wash background.

Sketch: A Cat in the Streets of Brussels

Once again, I haven’t posted in a while. This time, I return with a sketch of a cat that I finished recently. It’s based on a picture I took in the streets of Brussels, walking home from the Musée d’Ixelles.Cat_Watercolor_Ixelles_2015bisThis cobblestoned street was a short stretch of countryside in the very heart of Brussels. Flowers bloomed in pots along the curb; the peach and blue houses boasted heavy, wooden shudders. Two of these, splintered and faded, stood on the ground, propped up against a wall. A lady stepped outside to water her plants and informed me that I was welcome to carry the shutters away, if I so desired.
The cat stretched and cast an indolent, yet imperious, gaze upon his surroundings.

 

I highly recommend the Musée d’Ixelles. It was my first time visiting and I was most impressed. Housed in a quaint brick building — formerly a slaughterhouse —, the collection focuses mainly on the XIXth and XXth centuries. What I enjoyed was discovering a large number of paintings by Belgian artists.
The museum’s permanent collection, along with an exhibit of Belgian landscape paintings and of Belgian painters in exile, are on display until September 20. More info here.

Back in Brussels: I Must Remember…

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In Bremen.

I’ve been back in Brussels for three weeks. In addition to really really missing all my German friends, I have to get used to things in Brussels again.
First off, it’s handy to remember that here, people speak French! The first week back, my instinct was to greet everyone in German. Walking behind two people in the street, I was quite surprised when they began conversing auf Französisch!
Secondly, my legs must adapt themselves to the mountainous terrain. In Northern Germany, there is not a hill — nor even a hint of a slope — in sight. My calves had forgotten what it was like to scale the streets of Brussels. (It’s all relative!)
Finally, I must remember to greet people, not with a bone-squishing hug nor a firm handshake, but rather with a polite peck on the cheek.
Oh and I am now allowed to cross on a red light without fear of public reprimand. Yay.

That House

This is my favorite house on the whole street. It has so much character.

It was just asking to be sketched!

I love how the window ledges shelter a mysterious collection of quirky curios : a lantern, an odd sculpture, a flowerpot.

I love how the window ledges shelter a mysterious collection of quirky curios : a lantern, an odd sculpture, a flowerpot.

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Things I’ve Done of Late

Last night I got back from a short zap over to Berlin. The weather was very hot, the city was overtaken by football fans, and I had a nice time.
But here is a drawing I did before leaving, depicting some of my recent free-time adventures.

(I have drawn myself as a potato character, because this is Germany — a country where potato varieties are given girls’ names). DSCN9330bis

To Brussels and Back Again

Hallo. Guten Abend. Guten Tag! (And all that stuff).

Last weekend I returned to Brussels. It felt really good to be home with my family. I spent a very peaceful and relaxing time with them, just doing nothing, reading, walking in the woods, and eating chocolate.

In honor of Brussels, a picture of flowers a-plenty before the cathedral. This was taken mid-March, while strolling through downtown with a friend (whom I got to see again this weekend!).

In honor of Brussels, a picture of flowers a-plenty before the cathedral.
This was taken mid-March, while strolling through downtown with a friend (whom I got to see again this weekend!).

Obviously, I stocked up on Belgian chocolate — and also brown sugar : it does make a chocolate chip cookie taste better and I just can’t seem to find it here.

Speaking of food, I had a very Allisonish moment on the ride over. The loudspeaker had just announced that we would have a “kurzes Essen”, or brief dinner. My first thought was : Hey, food! So I didn’t need to buy a sandwich after all. And then we pulled into the main train station of a delightful little town called … Essen.

My journey home was unfortunately rather more eventful. Continue reading