Back to when I started reading more vegan blogs, I remember that what would crab my attention – and still does – is a great combination of good stories and beautiful photos. Sometimes I ask myself if I should be a photographer because I just love looking the world through lenses, but the world – mainly the present – already has enough photographers, so I prefer to keep doing it as something I like and to keep admiring the good work that’s out there. One blog that grab my attention for its gorgeous food photos is Have Cake Will Travel. And it has delicious recipes too.
I remember that when I decided to make the recipe of “cheezy crackers” from the blog, I contacted Celine Steen, the author, to ask her permission to share my version of the recipe. She was so nice and friendly. It’s so good when you get in touch with authors and they are also lovely people! So of course she was on my list of people I wanted to interview for the website.
With no more, it’s time to know more about Celine Steen!
When did you become vegan and what has inspired you?
I went vegan in 2005. A couple of vegan friends showed me that it wasn’t as complicated to eat and live vegan as I assumed before I started educating myself.
What’s the story behind the name of your blog Have Cake Will Travel?
It’s been so long, I cannot even say for sure what I was thinking when I picked that name! I obviously love cake, and I used to travel more frequently than I do now, so I suppose that was the reason behind it.
What are your main inspirations to cook? What do you like to cook the most? And do you have a favorite ingredient to cook with?
I think my cravings are my main inspiration. I follow my gut, so to speak.
Baking is my absolute favorite thing to do, and if I have to pick one ingredient with which I love to bake the most, I’d say whole wheat pastry flour. It makes everything just a little touch healthier (if you aren’t gluten-free of course), which means my conscience is even clearer when I gobble up whatever it is I make.
The photos on the blog are stunning. Do you take all of them yourself?
Thank you for saying! I do take the pictures. I only really got into photography when I started blogging, so the beginnings were a bit wobbly; I’m still constantly learning.
You’ve collaborated with Joni Newman and Tami Noyes to write a few books, can we expect a solo work any time soon?
I love the dynamics of collaborating with good people like Joni and Tami, but never say never. I wouldn’t be against doing something solo when/if the timing and subject are right.
How’s the daily life of Celine Steen? What are your hobbies and passions?
I’m as boring as they come. My biggest hobbies outside of baking and cooking vegan food are biking, and photography. I spend way too much time doing these two things, while happily procrastinating on taking care of chores and other administrative tasks. Oops.
You live in California, which seems to be one of the most vegan-friendly areas of the US today. How’s life there for vegans?
I live in a definitely not vegan-friendly part of California, without a single vegan restaurant in town (no joke!), so I cannot tell you what life is like for those who are lucky enough to live close to restaurants that are either fully vegan or at least, vegan-friendly, but I want to go to there…
What’s your favorite restaurant?
I keep telling my husband that as much as I love cooking and baking at home, I’d give anything for a day off from the kitchen (and especially from doing the dishes) to go out and eat some good vegan grub prepared by someone else, but alas: see question before and cry with me.
I’d love to go to a place where I could just grab a huge bowl of a variety of vegan ice creams, with add-ins thrown in the mix. Or vegan pizza would be nice, too. I’m a simple and junk foodie kind of gal, apparently…
We have a new project on the website, called Vegan Package Swap, where vegans around the world exchange packages. What would be your “must include” goodie to send in a vegan package? And what would you love to get in yours?
It sounds like a fun project! My mom lives on the other side of the world, so I have a pretty good idea of what she’d want in a package swap: liquid smoke and Luna bars are the top two things she usually asks for when I plan a trip home.
Personally, I think I’d love to give a try to that Swiss Vegusto cheese everyone is raving about. Although I do think it needs to be refrigerated, so I would be in for quite a smelly surprise when the package would land on my doorstep…
Could you share one of your recipes with our readers?
Snickerdoodles? Okay! I know I mentioned my love for whole wheat pastry flour above, but these really work best with good old all-purpose flour, for some reason. Baking can be so contradicting sometimes…
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon (75 ml) neutral-flavored oil
1/2 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons (114 g) evaporated cane juice (or granulated sugar), divided
1/4 cup (48 g) light brown sugar (not packed)
2 to 3 tablespoons (30 to 45 ml) plain or vanilla vegan milk, as needed
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
180 g all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
* Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C, or gas mark 5). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
* Combine the oil, 1/2 cup (96 g) evaporated cane juice, brown sugar, 2 tablespoons (30 ml) milk, and vanilla extract in a large bowl. Combine the flour, baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir dry ingredients into wet, using your hands if needed. If the dough is too dry to the point of being crumbly, add extra milk, 1 teaspoon at a time. The cookies will be fine even if you fear you will overmix the dough by adding extra milk, don’t worry.
* Use 1 packed tablespoon (20 g) of dough per cookie, placing 11 cookies per sheet with about 1 inch (2.5 cm) between each.
* Combine 1 1/2 tablespoons (18 g) evaporated cane juice with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon in a small bowl, and roll each cookie dough ball into the mixture.
* Flatten slightly on the prepared sheet, and bake for 8 minutes. Leave on the baking sheet for just 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. It’s important not to leave the cookies on the sheet any longer than that: you want them to firm up, but not dry out.
* Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two days.Yield: 22 cookies
(Photos courtesy of Have Cake Will Travel)