Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wholesale fashion @ NY Garment District: Happening Fashions et al

This is one of the many rambling wholesale outlets in the Garment District with their questionable garish offerings in the window and racks of samples out on the pavement for $25.

But this one has great leather coats, jackets, dresses. And surprise, surprise, if the clearly non-commercial shopper walks in, the laid back dude patrolling the racks of fur leather etc will sell you the odd one-off wholesale. I suspect that if you've made the effort to come all the way to NYC he might as well.

Anti-fur people stop reading here...
I'm not really a fur person - I tend to wear the fake fluff. But I picked up an amazing Jean Harlow like rabbit fur stole for $40. It was made from the offcuts of fur I suspect, it has a kind of 'bobbly' texture.
Rabid vegans stop reading here...
I have to say, nothing warms like fur. I bought it for a friend's grandmother to sit around in her armchair while the snow rages outside, reading a book without having to don a giant sweater or a burdensome blanket (which never seems to say closed in FRONT of you let's face it). It works toasty-fantastic. She roundly rejected it because of the chocolate brown color, said it made her feel old. And that a rabbit died making it. But proceeded to happily eat turkey, ham, beef and whatever at the Christmas buffet. Go figure. So I'm wearing it.

They also gave these amazing, floor length leather coats, fully lined with fur, for about $250.

About rabbits. They are a renewable resource, inexpensive and low impact to produce (you can't stop them reproducing if you tried), and every part of the animal can be used. I use to breed them as pets. I believe if you're going to reject rabbit fur then you should immediately stop wearing or using anything made of leather, including your watchband, iPhone holder, belt etc. Since I admit I have leather sandals, and a leather jacket, I'm not going to have anyone accuse me of being a hypocrite. If they can invent lightweight, non-animal textiles that don't pollute the planet in production and don't sweat then stink to high heaven under serious use, I'll switch.

Fur and leather aren't the only things on offer here. I also bought a killer turtleneck dress for $20 ("retails for $69") - see picture - as for the bag, why you can read about that here.

I really like poking around the Garment District! It's just the threads, without the marketing hype. You can even hear the store attendant's boss yelling at him and down the phone and not caring who knows it like some Joe Pesci movie. Hey, this is New York!

Happening Fashions
209 W 37th St # A
New York, NY 10018
(212) 221-7977
Website: - but it doesn't seem to go anywhere useful

Friday, December 18, 2009

FREE: Kayaking on the Hudson (that's right, NYC)

 Kayaking in NYC Photo Gallery

Now that it's too damn cold to do stuff like put on a life jacket and shorts and get get whipped by subzero Manhattan tradewinds ... here's a joyous post about what you can do sometime next year.

Free kayaking. On the world famous waterfront of NYC. You heard it right! It's all thanks to the rabid enthusiasm of the collective at who offer weekend and weekday paddles, all equipment supplied.

First, make sure you get to the right place.

To get to say, the Pier 96 location, subtract 40 from 92 and it's at 56th street.

I have no idea how one would find that out except I got it from one of the head honchos there, the Lord of Logos Michael Samuel. If you can undistract yourself from the big list of logos he's famously designed (list the History Channel Logo, Sears, Tasty Delight etc etc) you will find that he wields a paddle as impressively as his lightpen.

I'll be posting a movie here shortly of the action on the water. Meanwhile, check out the photos above.

Stand by ...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Curry Rice: Japan's cheapest and choosiest family meal

What's the most eaten meal in Japan?

It's NOT sushi. It's not even ramen. Nope, it's this thing called curry rice.

Curry rice appears on practically every budget menu in Japan. You can buy it to go for around $3-4, when most simple noodle dishes or soups range from 600 yen or $US6.50. Curry rice is the staple of millions of ordinary Japanese families, and even more geeky bachelors, I bet.

It's even been immortalized by this miniature curry rice meal I found at Kid Robot in NYC.

So what is it?

It's basically made from a pre-packaged curry rice cube that comes in a packet - they call it a roux, and the competition to make the perfect roux is stiff.

Now of course, you can get this exact same kind of thing from India, China, Malaysia and so on.

But if you read Japan's S&B Foods site, they'll convince you that Japanese curry is the best, because the guy who made a fortune out of it sought to refine it, whereas other countries use it to "disguise the smell of rotting food". Well, that's how S&B would have you believe it.

I brought a couple of packets of the stuff back from my first ever visit to Japan this year.

I have to say it's the fastest meal in the east - just saute some root veges and a bit of meat (optional), cook in some water for 20 mins then melt the cubes into the pot until they dissolve and thicken to a decidedly brown, thickish gravy.

Of course, any pre-mix that requires next to zilch effort like this must be full of mysterious ingredients that would make you shudder if you could read the Japanese on the packet.

However, S&B assure us that the roux contains, among other mystery ingredients, "6 kinds of vegetables" which would certainly explain the slightly sweet, well balanced flavor of the resultant curry. In fact, the orange colored dressing you see on most Japanese salads is often a puree of vegetables and fruits, seasoned to taste. In comparison, I've found most other curry pastes too harsh, too hot, too heavy on one or more spices. Nothing like a vege smoothie to make a great curry or sauce base!

I'd recommend tracking down these cubes in a Japanese supermarket. There is another line S&B make called Golden Curry, which distinguishes itself by being packaged in English, but I've tried these in the past and they just don't taste as good.

Now all I need is a hungry family of 4 and a hubby that doesn't cook to really feel like a Japanese supermom. SUGOI!

More Japan on a Friday here on my Galfromdownunder Upover blog and even more Japan than you can stand at my Bike Friday in Japan 2009 report

Sunday, November 15, 2009

ALOHA: Cheap (but not Cheesy) Cheesy Hawaii foods

Here's an Gal golden oldie - a short clip from my Hawaii 2005 trip where I sampled a number of cheap'n'choosy Hawaii treats like musubi, super hygienic nori rolls and even a Hawaiian McFeast.

This was pre-YouTube, and before I knew how to wield a digital camera like a steadycam, but you get the idea!

Hawaii Food Movie Clip (a Quicktime movie)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

$10 (plus tax): Takashimaya Pressed Salmon and Cucumber Sandwich

This one barely scrapes in under the Cheap'n'Choosy banner, but I enjoyed it so much I'm going to include it.

Picture this: a rainy, drizzly day, I'm hobbling around having just returned from 5 weeks' customer evangelizing in Singapore (eating durian of all things) and Tokyo, having put my back out on the last day of the trip. Straight from the chiropractor, I need some neutral place to chill, neither restaurant nor bar nor noisy hard-chaired cafe to grab a bite where I won't be jostled or have to suffer loud music or a cooler-tha-thou 'tude, which has a bit of cushioning behind the lumbar region.

I know ... a department store cafe!

A hotel would be a close second, except they tend to be, well, a bit hotelish, and they don't stop pestering you with their pricey bar menu. A museum or art gallery cafe would be a close third, except you're talking hard floors, even harder chairs and uncosy cavernous dimensions. Oh yeah, and people pushing around dirty dishes trollies.

A department store cafe tends to be upholstered for the lunching lady set, and staff let you linger as long as you like to collect your thoughts and tally your impulse purchases, knowing you're taking a respite from spending money and thus allowing them to be paid. Suitably refreshed, you'll continue to the other floors and spend more money.

Traipsing through Henri Bendels, Bergdorf Goodman and so forth, I'm disappointed. I discover New York doesn't have the kind of spacious, elegant shopper's oases like Chicago's flagship Carston-Pirie Scott and Marshall Fields (now Macy's). The NY options are either crowded, might-as-well-be-a-bar scenes like the top floor of Bergdorf Goodman, or small afterthought nooks serving the usual overpriced sandwiches with arugula that you can make yourself.

Takashimaya's NY store is the best of the rest, because, at least it's cozy with a Japanese bent, making a bit more interesting.

So that's where I headed.

It a small space adjoining a pricey tea shop in the basement. The menu includes the priciest bento box since Iron Chef Morimoto, at $19-21. It didn't look particularly interesting after the bentos I had in Fukuoka. For a start, it contained western ingredients. Please don't give me a bento box with western ingredients, it's as incongruous as drinking Diet Coke out of a coconut shell ...

But this one sandwich caught my attention:

"Pressed Rice Salmon and Cucumber Sandwich"

It's basically 4 crustless sandwiches' using sushi rice instead of bread, pressed with cucumber, salmon, horseradish mayonnaise and a fairly generous lump of seaweed in the middle. So you could call it a sushi sandwich.

It just hit the spot. I can see it would be popular with the nibbling set (most women).

At $10 it's one of the most reasonable options on the menu.

I ordered an iced matcha and my check ballooned by another $5.50. But it's an excellent matcha, whipped with a real bamboo tea whisk. It's also a *good* matcha - perhaps the $25/200-serve box they sell in the tea shop. It certainly tasted better than the $5/20 teabag green tea I brought back from Japan.

I watched as well groomed women with smooth, blonde, sex in the city 'do's sat in twos or fours, eating and chatting, their $400 leather tote bags slouched casually at their feet. Many ordered the western style sandwiches and a glass of wine, others ordered the Bento Box.

I'd go back for the sandwich. Not that it's particularly outstanding, but sometimes you just want a break from Pret-a-manger, pizza, hoagies and paninis... care to join me?

Galfromdownunder in Japan

The Tea Box Restaurant
Basement Level,
693 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10022
phone:1-800-753-2038, 1-212-350-0100
Between 54th and 55th Street, on the east side of Fifth Avenue

Store hours
Monday - Saturday, 10:00AM - 7:00PM
Sunday, 12:00 - 5:00PM

July 4, Independence Day, 12:00 - 5:00PM

Thursday, October 1, 2009

$10: Tebaya Fried Chicken Wings (from Nagoya with love)

I borrowed this shot from Michael G on Yelp because I ate mine too fast.

UPDATE 4/22/13: According to a reviewer, this restaurant appears to have moved to 181 W. 4th Street (b/w 6th and 7th Ave)


I'm off to Japan, for the first time in my life.  (UPDATE: Here's what it was like).

It will be my first visit ever visit. I confess I've been getting stuck into these addictive fried chicken wings from a little hole in the wall around the corner called Tebaya. I've eaten them THRICE in the same week, I'm ashamed to say, because I supposedly don't eat MEAT and FAT and SALT in such quantities. What's happening to me? And how can they make the middle part of a chicken wing taste so amazing? This is how. The process, called teba, involves marination then double frying - once to remove the fat but leave the collagen, then once again to crisp what's left, then sprinkled with sesame seeds. The result is incredibly tasty, and not as greasy as you would imagine.

I end up sitting there, in the window where everyone can see me, gnawing the ends off almost the entire bone. Like when I was a kid, dad would make honey soy chicken wings in a big pot of black spattering oil and we'd sit around like lions attacking a carcass after Ramadan. There's a lunch special, 8 wings, with salad and drink, for $6.95. One their own, the wings are slightly less cheap'n'choosy, because 8 pieces are about $7 and 13 are about $9. You only get the middle part of the wing, mind you. Not the drumstick or the flappy part. Just the bit in the middle with the equivalent of the human ulna and radius in it.

I remember visiting Italy many years ago, eating ostensibly simply pasta with a marinara sauce, made from vine ripened tomatoes, bush ripened basil, ground ripened garlic and good olive oil. When I returned, I ate that same meal for weeks after. Who else has done that, like prolonging the trip?

Food is so comforting, so satisfying. Never underetimate the power of a perfect ripe fig, a slice of sweet peach. You don't need drugs or therapy or alcohol or television shopping, really. You just need to eat something that comes in it's own packaging with minimal intervention.

OK, there IS some intervention with these chicken wings. That's the only exception to the rule I'll make today.

Tebaya, 144 W19th St NY (between 6th and 7th Ave), 10011
Phone 212 924 3335

Free Delivery - since the wings are hotter'n'hell when they first come out of the fryer, there's chance they'll still be hot when they get to your pied-a-terre...

UPDATE:  I got to try them in Nagoya thanks to Richard and Haruyo Gregg, but I have to say, the NY export at Tebaya NYC was better! Check out my Nagoya shots

Friday, August 21, 2009

FREE: (helmet) haircut @ Bumble & Bumble NYC

Does it pass the test?


Bumble Razor Bob (4 min version, more hair action)
The above, shorter, 2-min version also appears on the tikit on Trial page

Inside Bumble & Bumble


WITH HAIRCUTS in NYC ranging anywhere in price from $5.50 (yes I did see a sign somewhere and it said men AND women) to $250, a free NY 'do is worth its weight in overgrown bangs.

Bumble Model Project
is a hip salon in the hipper-than-thou Meatpacking district with a 'university' that teaches experienced hairdressers from all over the country their signature 'razor bob' - a groovy haircut done with a traditional razor instead of scissors. Rather than use mannequins and wigs, they solicit willing guinea piglets form the freebie-lovin' public to be models, who thus get done for free. Super cheap and choosy if you're willing to give up your beloved Mamas, Papas and failed hippie look!

Why a razor? It's supposed to 'take off the weight, give more movement and texture', said my stylist of the day, Jessica (Jodie) Anderson.

Looking like she stepped right out of Sex in City, while I looked like I shuffled in from Celibacy in the Suburbs, Jessica was excited about returning to work the next day at Salon Red in Atlanta armed with her new secret styin' weapon.

Since I was just in hotter'n'hell Hotlanta on a speaking tour, I could have used a short haircut while there. You have to have enough hair to make it worth a bumble student's while, and I had to wait three months looking like cousin IT before I qualified. The first time it was cut really well by Jeff Stump, a young stylist from Costa Mesa.

I was also anxious to see if this cut would be a good antidote to "helmet hair". I told them last time, bike riders wanting a good anti-'helmet head' cut are an untapped market. The only problem is that the majority of cyclists are insanely cheap, never mind the choosy, so they'd never make any money on them.

A couple of instructors came by to make sure the razor was safely loaded, and that my 'bangage' (what a word) was falling to the ground the way it should.

Like many salons, Bumble make a lot of money on their branded hair potions and lotions. I looked at the ingredients, and being chemically literate due to childhood allergies to parabens and benzoates, noted that it was fairly standard stuff. If you don't have a problem with formaldehyde releasers and other questionable preservatives, go for it.

A lot of this 'product' was used on my hair, and since I'm super cheap'n'choosy I washed it all out and opted for what Jessica called 'your own product - NY grit, oil, grime, bit of dandruff thrown in for good measure ...' - now all we gotta do is stick it in a minimalist looking concrete bottle with a NY manhole cover for a lid and we got it made ...

The result? Take a look. It actually works really well for helmet hair!

I should mention I consider this excursion part of my ongoing tikit on Trial experiment in NYC. After being told on the phone "we don't have room for your folding bike" it turns out there was space to swing several cats end on end - the salon is cavernous and there is an enormous roof deck overlooking the Hudson. Proving that the convenience of folding bikes is not even on the radar of non-bicyclists. Moral: Just Show Up On It.

Bumble Model Project website

Jessica (Jodie) from Salon Red, Decatur, Atlanta, where haircuts appear to start at a very un-New York price of $35. Ask for her and her razor by (name).

That's the tool of the Bumble trade ...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

SNEAKY: How to approximate a bottomless Latte: courtesy of Locanda Verde

Continuing my tikit on Trial experiments, my folding friend and I ventured to Robert DeNiro's new eaterie, Locanda Verde. The place isn't cheap, but it's certainly choosy.

So how on earth does an upscale brunch qualify for this blog?

Justin, the Leo DeCaprio lookalike who served "il-latterate" yours truly told me why straight coffee drinkers get refills and latte drinkers don't ...

Fellow illatterates, you'll just have to watch the movie to find out.

MOVIE: The tikit on trial at Locanda Verde

More tikit on trial experiments

Left: A Brompton and a Bike Friday tikit parked just inside, the BMWs, Mercs and Aston Martins are languishing nearby in the gutter.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

$5 nip and tuck: Express Tailor Service, Lower East Side, NYC

That's what they charged me to take the waistline of my jeans in - and in about 10 mins flat. Nicely taken apart, cut, and re-sewn like new. Most other stores a few blocks west in Chelsea charge $15.

$15 was the quote for tapering the delightfully garish florid Debra Rodman shift I got from my favorite consignment store, New and Almost New. But the job was done properly - armhole binding opened and restitched, not simply run up both sides like I would have done if my sewing machine was her instead of downunder.

While I waited a woman brought in some green pants to be shortened and the hems were cut and sewn before she had a chance to sit down.

"$5," said the cashier.

"$4?" she ventured.

"OK, $4."

"You bargain here?" I asked her, incredulously.

"I do," she said. Pensioners (or pensioner-apparents) can get away with anything!

At $5 there can't have been a lot of profit in it. I just hope the workers are treated well.

What's interesting is the two rows of hombres beavering away at the machines - "not a mujer in sight" I said in my best Espagnol. Turns out they're largely from Puerto Rico and Mexico.

There's a plaque on the wall that says "Best Quickie Tailor" awarded by New York Magazine.

I actually dropped the dress off at 8pm - they were still open although the sign says the close at 7pm.

"You're the classiest customer who's come in this store," said the cashier in Spanglish. Classy? I noted the smart gent who came in to collect his Armani suit, seemed unhappy with the job, and showed it.

"I mean friendly", said the cashier. I'm glad they didn't mind me practising my Spanish on them. Love that language ...

Express Tailor Service
92 Rivington St, New York, NY 10002
(between Orchard and Ludlow)
Phone 212 674 7341
Open 7 days 9am to 7pm but they were still open when I swung by at 8pm and took my order.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

FREE MAP (if you can get your hands on one): NYC's best map

Doncha hate maps that ...

a) Tear along the creases, especially when flapping about on a windy street corner, and get soggy when wet

b) Omit streets. I'm sorry, a useful map has to have EVERY STREET marked, to be called a map

c) Are super detailed in some respects, but not the way you really need it

d) Fold stupidly, so you can never get it folded right again

I've discovered what I consider York's best map - all things considered being a freebie, assuming you can get your hands on one. It's by a company who call themselves NYTAB.COM - New York Travel Advisory Bureau, sounding as government-sanctioned as "Department of the Interior".

The map concertinas to a nice, standard envelope shape that slips nicely into a pocket. The subway lines crystal clear. It names every street. The best feature is you can fold to precisely the area you're traveling in "page" forward or back with a simple flip as you go up or downtown. No massive unfolding or refolding.

Admittedly, the paper stock is just a simple semigloss that will deteriorate over time, so I got mine laminated at Staples for $5. It was worth it. Now it's ballistic.

I would love arrows to indicate if a street is one-way, and have the bike lanes superimposed too, but that's the cyclist in me.

And yes, the typeface might be a leeeeetle small for some.

And if they could somehow incorporate the elusive restroom circuit without the map becoming busy ...

But all things considered, it's been my saving grace when out boulevardeering this expansive, diverse city.

Entranced by this map, I tracked down one of the owners, Jim Sorrell, and met him at his favorite coffee nook in the South St Seaport.

"It's actually a map for concierges at hotels," he explained. Yes, it does indeed have the usual loud tourism ads on one panel - Jim does need to eat once in a blue moon - but they are carefully placed to not overwhelm the map itself. And apparently, the ads really sell, says Jim.

"Amazingly successful, we have a waiting list for space."

Of course, concierges are wined and dined once a year to make sure they keep handing out the map, but since it's so useful it deserves to be supported.

Go track one down now, I expect to have mine in the orange pocket of my Traffic Cone Bag for many years to come. Now if they would just do one that goes up past 135th street to the very tip ...

Monday, April 27, 2009

<$5: Cool Laptop Sleeve

Latest C'n'C tip comes appears on my Gal blog, in conjunction with my Traffic Cone bag. Take a look!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

FREE: Buddakan Dining Room in Chelsea, Manhattan

Looking like the mansion scene in "Eyes Wide Shut" with an orgy of socializing rather than shtupping, this cavernous restaurant/bar is total trip for the senses.

It features a massive, chandelier-feastooned central dining room harking from some Edwardian era (or a Hollywood set thereof), flanked by little dark nooks and crannies and passageways crammed with people drinking and schmoozing and shouting about the meaninglessness of life and 30 Rock. It's like being in one of the big ballrooms of the Titanic before it sprung a leak.

Best of all, unlike most nightspots in Chelsea, there's no velvet rope and unhappy attitude that goes with it - probably because it is a restaurant, not a nightclub, and restaurants always need all the chompers they can get.

A server said "We're in the business of hospitality." And he said it with a genuine smile. Whoa! They clearly have a great boss or they're on drugs. You can always spot a bad boss - it comes out in the faces, actions and if really bad, words of their employees. There seems to be a ton of employees too - there's even one who greets you on arrival and farewells you when you leave. I get the impression the owners are either Japanese or are clearly catering to the Asian market where politeness is appreciated and noted - and the opposite is remembered forever and passed on to whoever we can tell (speaking as a discerning Asian).

My favorite spot is downstairs in one of the bar areas, where I like to plonk myself a super wide day bed in front of a tiny, round, dimly candlelit table. There I choose either a sub-$10 Asian infused bar snack or cocktail and make it last, while soaking up the atmos. You get attentive service from groovy, attitude-free staff. Cool!

Apparently it's a chain - but that's OK. We don't mind if you do it this well.

I like to remind people that when you go to a place like this and pay $10 for a bar snack or $12+ for a cocktail, you're not paying for the ingredients in said snack or cocktail. You're enjoying the millions of dollars worth of equity and venture capital that someone else has put into it for your enjoyment - for a modest fee. This is truly what I mean, when I say "cheap'n'choosy".

Buddakan NYC
75 9th Ave
(between 15th St & 16th St)
New York, NY 10011
(212) 989-6699

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

$22 Haircut with da works @ Jun Salon (Chinatown, NY)

MULTIMEDIA: $22 'do with the works @ Jun Salon

"It's just hair."

This, from a card-carrying hairdressing salon owner. It's a statement that might freak some cashed-up coiffsters right out, and put others at ease - like me.

After umming and ahhing at spending $65-100+ on a trim in Manhattan I thought, there must be a cheaper, yet choosier, way.

I mean, look at our Asian hair - straight as the highway to hell and in any color you like as long as it's black - what's so hard about that?

I decided to try the well-reviewed-considering (see Jun Salon in Chinatown.

Jun is an unpretentious gal who reminds me of one of my favorite gal cousins. She says she use to do $105+ Uptown cuts before she went cheap'n'choosy - and many of her clients followed her, not minding having to pick their way along the cracked and cabbage-strewn sidewalks of Chinatown for their discount 'do.

There is something twee (we use the word 'daggy' downunder) about China town decor - the surgery-grade fluorescent lighting, hard white tiles, red lanterns and Taiwanese auto mechanic's calendars featuring off-duty Singapore girls ... yet as a Chinese descendent I find it strangely comforting as well.

Be prepared for a super lengthy shampoo and scalp massage. We're talking two different kinds of shiatsu and several sudses - "to relax the hair", said my attendant. Oh my god. Heaven. And to prove it, my movie got an inordinate number of hits on YouTube right after I posted it, from the shampoo kinky brigade. I wrote about this strange phenomenon here.

"What, you never seen Warren Beatty in Shampoo?" chided a friend.

Then followed a full service cut and blow dry ranging anywhere from a trim to a total transformation - all for just $22 ($18 for guy cut).

I've made a project of getting a cheap'n'whatever haircut in every country I visit - a $2 re-style in Peru, a trim in Cuba, a scissoring by an olde school 'dresser complete with those big boofy hairdryers that look like cranial MRI units in Dublin.

Results vary - my last cut was a disaster, and required styling with a brush and hair dryer, things I have no patience or room for when on the road. It was layeres and ended up like hippy dippy mama.

"You need wash and go," said Jun, showing me a bob style that was long at the sides and shorter at the back, exposing, dare I say, a little neck, "to make you look taller," she said.

When I hesitated, she said, "it's just hair. It will grow."

A bit of Zen and the art of pageboy maintenance never went astray ...

Afterwards, you can walk next door for terrific dim sum at Ping's, recommended by the Filipino client in the chair next to me.

What's not to love? Keep up the great work, Jun, by keeping down the great price!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Cheap'n'Chocolatey: Galfromdownunder 3+ minute Vegan Chocolate Mug Cake

This is my slightly healthier spin on the 5-minute Chocolate Mug Cake recipe circulating furiously around the internet.
I say 3+ minutes because abandoning it in the nuker for 5 minutes can lead to burned bits - better to coax it gently to doneness ... here's me doing the dishes in County Kerry back in 1999

Galfromdownunder 3+ minute Vegan Chocolate Mug Cake
(with original, non-vegan substitutions indicated)

4 Tablespoons buckwheat pancake mix (or ordinary flour)

3-4 Tablespoons Splenda/Stevia (or sugar)

2 Tablespoons good cocoa (I used Fair Trade Organic unsweetened)

2 tbsp no-sugar fruit conserve (not in original recipe - I used Wholefoods grapejuice sweetened Raspberry spread)

1 glob of soy yoghurt (or 1 Egg)

3 Tablespoons almond milk (or regular milk/half&half)

3 Tablespoons grapeseed oil (or regular oil)

Few chocolate drops/chunks (optional - I used 70% chunks because I like it dark)

Few nuts (optional)

1 Mug


Mix dry ingredients in 1 mug.
Mix wet ingredients in another.
Make well in the dry mug and pour in wet.
Mix well with a teaspoon - don't leave flour in corners, not a good look
Mixture should resemble thick pancake mix in consistency. Add more liquid sparingly if too stiff.
Microwave 3 mins on high - until cake rises and then settles in mug.
Test with knife - check sides too.
If gooey in center, m'wave 1 minute more, test, m'wave 30 sec more, test.
Should need no more than 5 mins total.
Let rest in mug a bit - it's still cooking.
Run knife around and turn out on plate.
Good with cream, ice cream or someting baaaaad.

I'd post a picture but it was eaten by the occupants of this house before I got a chance!

I slammed this one together after my Uncle sent me the original and I couldn't be bothered going out in a Manhattan snowstorm to buy the ingredients. I've always been partial to getting to a destination via an uncommon route - story of my life. As a kitchen manager on a Vipassana course, I found a flour made from pulverized oats made a perfectly acceptable lasagne, sauce etc ...

Microwave cakes aren't new - there are moist, puddingy recipes based on pumpkin and other ingredients dating back to 20-25 years ago ... as long as you don't mind a puddingy texture. And as long as you believe that microwaves don't do health-hazardous things to the structure of food as the Toaster Oven Lobby claims.