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Loved the responses to my Candle 79 tribute – especially the obvious New York City infatuation that seeped through them. I love having readers who appreciate the romance and spirit of NYC as much as I do. Speaking of that, I’ve recently re-read this gem of an essay, which my friend Heather sent me after reading my post on Manhattan. She wrote,

“[It’s] a short titled “Lost and Found” by Colson Whitehead. This is how much this reading impacted my life – I made a note in my blackberry with the title of the short and the authors name.  Because I NEVER EVER EVER want to forget it. ever. i want to read it or hear it twice a year.  I want to remember it always.Which came in handy when I realized that you would love it.”

I do love it, Heather (I also love other works by Mr. Whitehead). Thanks for sharing it with me—and now, with other CR readers! Check it out, guys, if you’re interested.

Announcing my Choosing Raw counseling giveaway (which you should all enter), I asked you guys what kind of posts you’d like to see more of in my next 365 days of blogging. I loved the answers: more thoughts on veganism and body image, more tips on how to handle social challenges as a vegan, more recipes, more ED musings. I also got a few requests for more baked good recipes. It took me over a year and a half to post my first one; now that I have, I think it’s a habit I’ll have to cultivate! Let’s begin here, with vegan streusel muffins.

Oh yes I did. Normally my muffin ventures are simple: banana walnut, carrot raisin – that kind of thing. The goal when I made these bad boys was to keep it simple, but add a finishing touch (streusel topping) that would make them look impressive. Success! After I finished baking these, I stood back and thought, “I could not possibly have baked those. They actually look…accomplished.” And believe me, they demanded no more effort than your standard batch of vegan muffins – just a pulse or two of the ‘ole Cuisinart. Which means that every novice baker in this audience of readers can make them too, and hopefully savor them as much as I did!

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Vegan Streusel Muffins (makes 9)

For the muffins:

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
Dash salt
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup rice milk
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup safflower oil
1/3 cup agave nectar
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the streusel topping:

1/3 cup rolled oats
2 tbsp whole wheat pastry flour
4 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp Earth Balance
1/4 cup walnuts
1 tsp cinnamon

1) Preheat your oven to 400, and oil two muffin pans with coconut or safflower oil.

2) To make the topping, put all topping ingredients in a food processor and process till crumbly. (You could also mush it all by hand after chopping the nuts.)

3) Sift together dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients till everything is just incorporated. Put the batter into 9 muffins (you could do 12, but I don’t like skimpy muffins, and this wasn’t enough for 12 big ones).

4) Spread topping evenly over muffins, and bake for about 15-18 minutes, or until golden on top. Serve!

These made for a lovely presentation:

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And they tasted incredible. Warm, sweet, a little cinnamon-y, and just indulgent enough. They didn’t need Earth Balance at all, and indeed I wouldn’t usually opt to smother them with anything, but a tiny smear turns them into a super-special treat:

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If you’re looking for an easy and fun muffin recipe to bake for family around the holidays, this might be it! I already plan on making another batch for M, and a batch for my Mom. Possibly for coworkers, too. And, oh yeah – for me.

What’s on your holiday baking agenda? And circling back to the top, what’s the last essay you read, and loved?

xo

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