Having driven all my friends mad this morning on facebook, here's the story...
I have taken on the NOT-vember challenge from Elaine (Mortgage Free in Three) to continue her STOP-tober challenge - a money diet and store cupboard amnesty - which I posted about all last month. The most important thing I learned from last month is that it's a learning curve and you won't get the best results by doing it for only one month.
One aspect I failed to internalize sufficiently is that the store cupboard has the basic ingredients so that when your friend asks you to bring dessert to contribute to Shabbat Lunch, you can make a dessert for free out of your store cupboard rather than trotting off to the shops to buy something. That's the whole point, to keep your spending down to a bare minimum.
As well as the NOT-vember challenge, there are four other factors that had to be considered...
1. My friend is serving meat tomorrow and she keeps kosher. This means milk and meat are kept totally separate and she can only serve/eat something with dairy in it, three hours after eating meat or chicken.
2. I don't really like cakes, biscuits or chocolate. I don't like dry and sweet. To me a cake is simply something on which to serve the cream and icing. The sort of desserts I like are creme caramel, cheese cake, real ice-cream, and fruit salad. On the other hand, a moist cake or pastry made with real butter can be delicious. I'm more than happy to fill up on the main course and skip dessert after a meat meal.
3. My friend has a medical reason that she can't eat fruit. So my fallback of always offering to bring a fruit salad wasn't appropriate here.
4. I hate using stuff that isn't real food. Examples of this are: margarine, non-dairy creams and ice-creams, and too much sugar in anything.
So we had this impossible situation where all my friend was asking of me was to go to the shop and by a non-dairy cake that the children would enjoy for dessert. And all I was thinking was that I couldn't do that because I had to 'shop' from my store cupboard.
I then had to find something I'm prepared to bake without butter. The vast amount of oil in some of the vegan recipes didn't appeal. I put it on facebook and got some fabulous suggestions including, meringues with lemon curd, and carrot cake made with oil and apple sauce. These were really the only two that covered all the bases. (I'll say it again - I know you can bake without using butter but I don't like it and I will not use non-dairy creams.)
So I adapted the carrot cake recipe as I wanted to make muffins rather than a cake, I wanted to use less oil and sugar, and I didn't have enough apples to make apple sauce. (I was that close to buying apple sauce in the supermarket when I remembered that I should make it.)
Verdict: we got 21 mini-muffins and they're..... ok. But what do I know, they're sweet so I'm not that interested. Next time if they don't want a fruit salad I can bring a vegetable salad or a bottle of wine. This whole episode was far too stressful. And the funny thing is, it's happened before - although of course I only remembered afterwards.
I'm still planning to make cakes and biscuits for us at home but as we don't have meat in our house at all, I can happily bake with butter.
One week later: I removed the recipe I had here as the muffins were only ok. The next week I made Carrot and Apple Mini-Muffins with real butter and they were great. You can see the recipe here.