The Adventures of Tom Soya

If you live with roommates, family members, or a significant other, the likelihood is that someone in your living space has a food allergy or a very specific dietary regimen. As a result, the fridge is filled with a hodgepodge of remedies and substitutes. You never know what you’ll accidentally pour onto your cereal (or into your cupcake batter).

I share a fridge with six other people: they make up a wonderful French family who has given me a room in West London in exchange for nannying the four children. Like the playful Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, these energetic and ever-growing kids need strong bones to stand up to the endless adventures. However, one of the children has an allergy to most dairy products. And so, next to the semi-skimmed milk is a quart of soya and a pint of oat something or other. When I am in the mood to bake, sometimes I grab whichever dairy product I see first – thus resulting in the occasionally – if accidentally – delicious cupcake recipe!


Soya Carrot Cupcakes:

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

1 cup sugar

1 1/4 cup flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp cinnamon

2 eggs

1/4 cup soy milk

2 carrots, grated


1. Beat butter, sugar, and vanilla extract together for about five minutes (until creamy and a bit fluffed up).

2. Add soy milk and eggs one at a time, whisking mixture until smooth.

3. Sift in flour and baking soda and combine until smooth. Fold in carrots.

4. In greased or lined muffin tins, bake cupcakes at 350 degrees for about fifteen minutes (until knife comes out clean). Allow cupcakes to cool before decorating with frosting.


1/2 cup cream cheese, room temperature

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

2 cups icing sugar

Pinch of salt


1. Using an electric mixer, combine cream cheese, butter, and salt. Incorporate the icing sugar in three separate batches until completely incorporated.

2. Pipe frosting onto carrot cupcakes and garnish with walnuts.

Enjoy soy carrot cupcakes with Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and check in at for future recipes and book reviews!


All’s Well That Blends Well

In keeping with the Shakespeare theme on the blog this week, I turn to another tale of deception, confusion, and general mayhem. In All’s Well That Ends Well, hidden elements surprise and delight the audience at every turn.

The plot is reminiscent of the old TLC show “Trading Spaces,” in which two couples traded homes and work with a designer to makeover one room. Each episode could produce feuds and deceit, clashes between designer and couple, attempts to pump the carpenter for classified information. Ultimately, though, as in Shakespeare’s beloved play, everyone reconciled at the end of the drama.

Though I primarily watched “Trading Spaces” for Genevieve’s hippy coolness or Frank’s quirky baldness, I did pick up on several real points. For example, color can set the mood of a room, and perhaps even evoke a feeling. The same can be true of color in cuisine. I associate warm orange with Bryn Mawr in November, leaves crunching, a cinnamon scented candle lit, an extra warm blanket shared between snugglers (usually my dog and me). This autumnal puree’s hue makes it a bit easier for me to be abroad this autumn, because I can think about all of the things I love about home.



3 parsnips

5 carrots

1 onion

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup apple cider

Salt to taste (up to 1 teaspoon)


1. Peel parsnips and carrots; chop them (and onion) roughly. Over medium-low heat, sauté with lid on until all vegetables are tender.

2. Pulse vegetables with cinnamon in blender, gradually adding in cider. Season with salt, if necessary. For a completely smooth texture, pass through a strainer, pushing the lumps through with the back of a ladle.

Enjoy this autumnal puree with William Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well, and check in at for future recipes and book reviews!