Tag Archives: food

bread and roses*

Since I’ll be baking a blackberry cobbler tonight for a friend, I’ve got dessert on the mind and thought I’d share some of the cakes I’ve made recently. I had a last minute order for a birthday cake this past weekend that was fun to do, as I was given carte blanche in regards to the filling. I used my beloved vegan Lithuanian white cake for the base, soaked the layers in a homemade lemon simple syrup, and enrobed it in a fresh strawberry icing. Because I was short on time, I opted to decorate it with strawberries and candied lemon slices, leftover from the lemons I used for the simple syrup.

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My jadeite cake stand is one of my favorites, and it always looks good with pink icing! The best part about cake-making is leveling the tops – delicious scraps for days! I inevitably have leftover icing, as well, so makeshift cake sandwiches are made frequently. I’ve yet to use the scraps for cake pops, as I’m still on the fence about those. I know that sounds weird, but THEY seem weird to me!

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The client I had before this one had requested a cake with a bohemian theme, with fresh flowers. She also wanted the white cake, but with fresh raspberries for the filling and icing – this happens to be my favorite combination, so I was quite eager to make it and lick the spoon!

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I really enjoy using fresh flowers as decoration, and will never tire of using roses and raspberries together. Again, the color palette of jade green & rose pink will never grow old…

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She also wanted a bit of the “naked cake” look, so the icing wasn’t applied on it too thickly.

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those flowers, tho!

We have “treat day” at the station each year which encompasses delicacies of both the savory and sweet variety,  and, naturally, I bring some kind of dessert. Last year I made a vegan dark chocolate yule log, but this year I decided to go with something a little simpler, and made a gingerbread cake with cream cheese icing and candied cranberries.

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We are savages at work when it comes to food, so the cake was gone within an hour, at best.

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holiday cake baby

Last, but not least, I made a dark chocolate cake for my former 😦 co-worker’s birthday. I don’t really like chocolate cake, and because I think they all taste bad, I can never gauge whether or not mine are okay, haha. Still looking for that perfect chocolate cake recipe, so if you’ve got one, PLEASE send it my way!

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Inspired by one of my friend’s love for violet-flavored candies, I’ve got violet simple syrup on the mind now, and am thinking of making that the star of my next cake. I’m also leaning toward a slightly tart, slightly sweet grapefruit and poppy seed cake – doesn’t grapefruit curd sound so good?!

*extra credit if you get the title’s reference!

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summer wine

July was wild. It’s my favorite month because we make our annual trip to Hilton Head, the days are rife with summer storms, the gardens are overflowing, and there are many celebrations. This July was particularly full, as we enjoyed the beach, drove into Savannah, toasted a friend’s engagement, and then I flew off to Philadelphia and New York for the DNC and to see two of my best friends. Now that I have a month off from the 2nd of my 4(!) jobs, I will have some time to catch up and actually write! While I get everything in order, here’s a sneak peek through photos of what is to come.

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sunsets at Hilton Head

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sunday morning tea blending

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trespassing through a nearly demolished recording studio in Savannah

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vegan blueberry banana bread

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twilight hour engagement parties

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the shakespeare garden in central park

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celebrating the success of nominating HRC as the first female candidate of a major party

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thrift store finds & birthday surprises

Fingers crossed I can get on a regular schedule here! 😉

 

Food, Glorious Food

I really love food. I mean I really, REALLY love it. While eating lunch, I’m already thinking about what I’m going to have for dinner. It should come as no surprise, then, that when visiting other cities, meal planning is high on my list of priorities.

While I had some favorites to hit up in Olympia & Portland (hello, Big Tom’s!), I was eager to explore other restaurants. To be honest, I would have been fine with fries and goop from Big Tom’s the entire time, but I think that my traveling companion might have bickered!

We actually spent a good bit of time at the Olympia Farmers Market, sampling all the goodies that vendors were selling. We tried homemade macarons (passion fruit for Travis & me, peanut butter for Peter & Nicole), the delicious homemade sauerkraut, freshly picked cherries, and tayberry & marionberry jams. We got up early one morning to get breakfast there so Peter could try the Cap’n Crunch shake, and I had an enormous vegan breakfast sandwich.

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breakfast of champions

I wish we could have taken home all of the plants, fruits, and veggies at the market. I am going to order some of the tayberry jam from Johnson Berry Farm because it’s just so good! The tayberry is a cross between a Scottish raspberry and an Aurora blackberry, and it’s a perfect blend of sweet and tangy.

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nothing like fresh washington cherries

Once in Portland, I had to take Peter to Sushi Ichiban, where my friend, Ainsley, of Palate Polish, hipped me to their “Eliza” roll last year. I could go on and on about the amount of premium quality sushi that you get for next to nothing, but I won’t since I think I already did that on a post from last year. 😉

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oh, eliza

While I follow a primarily vegan diet, I have a weakness for fancy ice cream. After seeing numerous friends posting about Salt & Straw, I knew we’d have to go. There are, fortunately, several Portland locations, because the first one we went to had a line that wrapped around the block. The second one had a line, as well, but we only ended up waiting about fifteen minutes and it was every bit worth the wait. I tried to convince Peter to get the Fish Sauce Caramel with Palm Sugar flavor off of their Fermentation Series, but he wasn’t having it. Instead, he chose the Freckled Woodblock Chocolate with Cinnamon Snickerdoodle, and I got Honey Lavender and the Sourdough with Chocolate and Cherries off of the June Fermentation menu. I’m looking at the July menu currently, and trying not to cry because the flavors of the Berry Series look amazing. Portland Creamery’s Goat Cheese Marionberry Habanero & Gin Spiced Blackberry Jam and Chocolate Chips? I’m dying. And now, thanks to Salt & Straw, I have been ruined. We got ice cream at Bluebird in Seattle, which was also good, but it just wasn’t the same. I am beyond tempted to join the “Pints Club” and have it shipped to my door…

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honey lavender & sourdough w/chocolate & cherries

While wandering around Portland, we had a light dinner at Maurice, a sweet French & Scandinavian luncheonette named after the owner’s rabbit! The airy, white interior, is filled with a mismatch of tables and chairs, vintage tins & flatware, marble counters, & a fully stocked bakery case of impeccable sweets. It’s the kind of place where you’d pop in for a quick fika break, have a first date, or a dinner party with all of your girlfriends. Peter enjoyed a vegetable risotto while I dined on a cool melon soup and beet & strawberry smorebrod.

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melon soup with crusty bread & tomatoes


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beet & strawberry smorebrod

Because we enjoy the art of dining so much, we drove into Seattle one evening simply to have dinner in Chinatown. Upon entering Ping’s Dumpling House, you feel like you have been transported to a rural Chinese home. The inside looks nothing like what you would expect from the outside – it’s far better. And then there are the dumplings. We were pretty hungry, so we ordered up a feast containing two types of dumplings (mixed vegetable and wood ear mushroom), a large bowl of “almost tofu,” and a giant vegetable steamed bun. All of this was served alongside a pot of hot tea and several sauces with which to dip your dumplings. I don’t think either of us really expected just how many dumplings would arrive – we ended up with about two dozen total! Much like at Sushi Ichiban, we left stuffed while at a bargain price. While I probably wouldn’t buy much from the adjoining market, I would highly recommend the restaurant section to anyone and everyone.

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dumplings for days

The best meal we had, however, came from Nicole. Being able to just sit at their home and eat pasta with our friends, Boston Terriers begging at our feet, was so nice. Nothing beats a bowl of noodles with fresh veggies from the market and a glass of wine!

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mmm gluten

I’m heading back to Philly and into NYC toward the end of the month and have already begun my food research. High on the list are Russ & Daughters, a snack of Peruvian Fries from VStreet, and 35 cent pretzels. If you have any recommendations, please send them my way!

Motownphilly’s back again

I’m super hungry today and all I can think about is the amazing food I ate in Philly. Because Crystal works at VStreet, that was my first stop the night I arrived, where, as I mentioned previously, she had saved me a soft serve “Cruise Ship:” piña colada ice cream with chunks of pineapple upside down cake and a cherry on top. It’s seriously what dreams are made of – vegan ice cream perfection!

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cruise ship soft serve

After a day at the Mutter Museum and Chinatown on Friday, I met back up with Crystal at VStreet for dinner and I seriously thought they might have to roll me out of there. She hooked me up with some appetizers to start – mint chutney green beans with papadum and Peruvian fries with aji Amarillo, cilantro, dried olives, & peanuts. I could eat those fries everyday – not to say that I’ve ever met a potato I didn’t like BUT these were some of the best I’ve ever had. The Indian-spiced green beans had a really commendable flavor, as well.

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mint chutney green beans

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Peruvian fries

For my main course, I ordered the Korean fried tempeh tacos. Large pieces of tempeh were cradled by a soft tortilla and enrobed with radish kimchee, grilled tomato sriracha and sriracha thousand island dressing. I added some other sauces, whose names I forget now, but both of which added an extra kick of heat to the tacos. I’ve been imagining them all day! Perfect for a taco cleanse, eh? Even though I was pretty stuffed, I couldn’t leave without another dish of soft serve, and they sent me out some of their caramel popcorn, too. By this time, the snow had begun to fall and snowpocalypse was on the way, so I decided to get a cab back to the house in order to beach out on the bed and contemplate the bad decisions I make in life. 😉 The best part – all of it was vegan!

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jumping on the taco diet bandwagon

I love eating at local spots when visiting new places, and enjoying the most authentic food as possible. No chain restaurants for me! On my list of foods to eat was Polish or Russian food. Since we were snowed in and couldn’t get into NYC, we had to pass on Russian fare, but were able to hike over to Port Richmond for Polish dishes. The aureate decor included disco balls and the sound of Polish soap operas permeated the acoustics of the bar – New Wave Cafe was the very epitome of authenticity. Every Eastern European meal must have hot tea, and they fortunately had some chamomile (I’ve been caffeine-free for two years now!), so I imbibed on that while Crystal tried one of their Polish beers. We split some potato and cheese pierogis with sour cream to start and I was in absolute heaven. Coupled with the fact that The X-Files was to premier that night, it was just too much for me, and I may or may not have started crying over anticipation of the rest of our meal and seeing Mulder and Scully again.

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pierogi!

Crystal ordered stuffed cabbage (I love making a vegetarian, Lithuanian version at home) with a side of mashed potatoes and beet salad, and I got potato pancakes and sauerkraut, accompanied by sour cream and applesauce, of course. The beet salad was definitely the best I’ve ever had – sweet, tangy, sour, earthy, and savory. All the flavors balanced each other perfectly. I wish I had gotten some borscht, too!

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eastern european bliss

Because we traveled far and wide to eat, it didn’t take long to get hungry again. My next request was for some legit Italian food. Thanks to the snowstorm, a lot of places were closed, but we traversed through the Italian Market, anyway. Though on the hunt for spaghetti and/or pizza, Crystal took me to Rim Cafe, where Rene made me a $12 hot chocolate called a “Volcano.” I ordered the 80% dark chocolate ganache “Lava,” but I considered trying the mascarpone one! Topped with more ganache, dark and raspberry chocolate shavings, it was incredibly decadent. I also ordered a mini cannoli, but I’m sad to say that it wasn’t very good – didn’t even touch Deborah’s at Yo Pizza. Watching Rene make the hot chocolate while surrounded by “Godfather” paraphernalia was an experience, nonetheless. If I had had an extra $100 to spend, I would have tried them all!

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“Lava” (apologies for the out of focus photo)

We did end up finding some pizza and spaghetti to round out the evening, and my appetite was finally satiated. I’ve been thinking about those damn tacos all day, and seriously considering trying that taco cleanse – tacos every day can’t be that bad, right? RIGHT???

#WCW

I feel compelled to write a #wcw post as I just got back from visiting my favorite Mick, Crystal, in Philly. Though advised not to travel while Mercury was retrograde, I had booked my flight over a month ago and was not going to change it, and thus was lucky enough to be engulfed by snowstorm Jonas. I was actually looking forward to it – I always enjoyed the snow in Detroit, and seeing as how we rarely get it in the South, it was a fun experience! That said, trekking through 2 feet of snow for approximately 6 miles each day was definitely challenging. Crystal gets a special s/o for putting up with my ass for insisting we travel 45 minutes to get Polish food across town, getting naked in the snow, and hoofing it through the city to sled down the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

After getting off of work at VStreet (where Crystal saved me a cruise ship sundae, which I’m now craving constantly), we were both starving, so she took us to David’s Mai Lah Wah, where we promptly ordered everything off of the menu and destroyed the restaurant with duck sauce.

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right before she squirted duck sauce all over herself

I arrived on Thursday night, and had almost all of Friday to explore before the snow started. By Saturday morning, her roommate had to shovel out a path to leave the house and we began the search for warm beverages and brunch. The storm was intense – we might as well have been in the Eastern Bloc, the way everything looked.

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the virgin mary of south philly

After hemming and hawing as to whether or not we should go to the museum, we decided that we had to go, because why not? How many times does one get to sled down the famed “Rocky” steps? Since we weren’t able to get into NYC, we had to do SOMETHING. The expedition over there was a little daunting, but we were prepared with sledding materials and beer – all the necessities. Not only was the local ABC affiliate shooting footage, but The Weather Channel was at the museum as well! We could hear yelling and laughing several blocks away, as tons of people of all ages had come out to sled. Many thanks to the 90’s ravers who opened our bottles for us!

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the path to a Dateline episode

Once we got home, and because we have no boundaries and no shame, we stripped down and ran around naked in the snow with the cats for a few minutes. A space heater and down comforters have never felt better! After all of those shenanigans and multiple mile slogs in the slush, we pretty much collapsed for the night.

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assholes

Sunday night was a Very Important Night as it was the premier of the new season of “The X-Files.” I mean, I was legit crying over my pierogis earlier in the day in anticipation. I ordered us some Santucci’s while the wife set up the cable box, but of course, Comcast was fucked up due to the storm. It was nearly a disaster, but I luckily found a live stream on the internet and the crisis was averted, spaghetti enjoyed.

There will be a food post upcoming, as I still managed to eat some crazy good food despite Snowmageddon. The only thing I didn’t get to eat was a 31 cent pretzel (so sad, Ainsley!) BUT I will be back there in no time, and devouring one as big as my face.

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Thanks for letting me crash, Flanagan. Next time, I’m stealing Loaf.

A Moveable Feast

Rosie and I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving yesterday! We’re plant-based in this family, so we enjoyed a delicious, guilt-free, vegan feast. My darling Matt and I spent a leisurely afternoon cooking at my parents’ house, taking our time to make everything from scratch, and catching a few glimpses of the parade. Because Matt is Canadian, this was our second Thanksgiving celebration, the first having been in October for him.

The Menu:

Roasted Beets in Balsamic
• Roasted Garlicky Potatoes
• Sweet Potato Soufflé
• Roasted Cabbage
• Orange & Brown Sugar Carrots
• Traditional Sage Stuffing
• Brussels Sprouts
• Vegan Loaf with Mushroom Gravy (store bought)

‘Tis the season for root vegetables, and we’ve been cooking a lot of them, and specifically, beets. I absolutely despised beets growing up and refused to give them another try until just a few years ago. My friend, Rebecca, and I were at one of our favorite local haunts, The Bee’s Knees, a couple of summers ago, where she was happily eating a beet & peach caprese. The dish was certainly pretty- ruby red beets, luscious peaches, crumbled goat cheese, and fresh basil, all drizzled with balsamic vinegar. She encouraged me to try it, saying she makes the same dish and promised that I would at least love hers when she made it for me. This was before I went fully vegan again, so I summoned up all my courage and picked up my fork. She was right- it was perfect. Thus began my love affair with beets. I had always felt like a bad Lithuanian, not staying true to my heritage’s adoration of this hearty vegetable, and now I am pleased to say I feel worthy of my Eastern European genes once again! My dad has always loved them, so now he can no longer tease me or try to trick me into eating them!

So, yesterday, we roasted beets, and I sautéed the greens in balsamic. If you have never cooked the beet greens, you absolutely must next time (as long as they look fresh and green). They’re so delicious and full of nutrients. It’s also a plus when you can use the whole product in a meal.

Balsamic vinegar and garlic played huge roles in our dinner this year. We had an ample supply of garlic and since Matt and I are big fans, we used it in just about every dish. He roasted purple baby potatoes with a simple combination of garlic and olive oil, while I roasted cabbage (again, with the Lithuanian heritage), in garlic, olive oil, and balsamic. I also tossed some whole carrots in an orange, brown sugar, and balsamic mixture, having been inspired by EverKind‘s Thanksgiving blog post. We rounded out the meal with my special sweet potato soufflé, my mom’s dressing, Brussels sprouts, and a surprise vegan loaf with mushroom gravy that my mom had gotten for us. Needless to say, we have lots of leftovers, some of which I partook in for lunch today!

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I’m usually the self-professed Queen of Baking, but was so into cooking the meal this year, I ended up not making a dessert. I definitely felt weird not having anything sweet to produce! I’ve been feeling a little under the weather today (another Thanksgiving tradition and one I’d be happy to get rid of), but that hasn’t stopped my craving to bake. EverKind shared a quick and easy recipe for Holiday Dessert Rolls, and not wanting to exhaust myself even further by making a big production out of dessert, I decided to give this time-saver a try. The best part? I never knew that Crescent Rolls are vegan! I grabbed a can of them at the store, the chopped up some semi sweet chocolate, grated some cinnamon, sliced up a banana, and baked at 375° for 11 minutes. Topped with a sprinkling of powdered sugar, a little more grated cinnamon, and a drizzle of some Ah-Laska chocolate syrup- voilà!

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Paired with some soy nog spiked with cinnamon, my sweet tooth has been satiated.

But I wasn’t the only one to have a nice holiday- Matt made sweet Rosie a special plate of scrambled eggs (she’s not vegan 😉 ) as a treat last night- she’s such a lucky lady!

And with that, the holidays are officially here! What are you looking forward to the most this season?

Happy Holidays!