Monday, December 22, 2008

snow survivor.

In my near seventeen years living this side of the Cascades, never have I seen this much snow. It's outrageous. I haven't really been able go beyond ten minutes of my home since Tuesday. These shots were taken just a few days ago to demonstrate just how much it has piled on, but has snowed even more since.

Snow Days

Snow Days

Yet, I'm surviving. How? The sugar-induced holiday baking highs, of course. Now that times are tight for all of us, there is no better or quicker (or more foolproof, when you lack the basic patience or talent for handcrafts as I do) homemade gift than baked goods. And that's no revelation - likely anyone who reads this has sent off their tins of shortbread and peppermint bark weeks ago. I personally love to bake plentiful batches of biscotti; characterized by being "better with age" they travel well when freshness is not as big an issue. Not to mention there's nothing I love more than dipping the leftovers in my morning coffee.

And the testing continues! Our latest mission from Hannah has been Persimmon Blondies. However, with the aforementioned terror that is our current icy road situation I haven't been able to search very far for the elusive fruit. One of Hannah's substitution suggestions was applesauce, though, which I happened to have plenty of on hand.

Apple Blondies

The verdict? INCREDIBILITY. Serious. Between the unusual spice addition, the fudginess, the inability to go wrong with a healthy dose of chocolate chips, these bars are blowing my freaking mind. Do I feel this way because attempt after attempt of homemade blondies have disappointed in the past? Could it be because I'll eat anything warm, stuffed with gooey chocolate, and sandwiched with ice cream? Whatever it may be, these hit a home run with me. I'd love to try these using the persimmons, but at the moment I don't believe I'm lacking any of its intended melodious, spicey, and fudgy outcome. Easy, came together well, baked well - beautiful.

Apple Blondies

Switching gears for a moment, I would like to leave you with the Feather. A very resourceful cat she may be, and I don't blame her for seeking out the warmest spot available even when she has more than one large and cushy cat bed lying about the house. But for readers of Fail Blog, I'd call the cable box an epic bed fail.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


We interrupt your regularly scheduled food post (oh, who am I kidding - I don't eat anymore) to bring you an update in luscious faux fur.

Ok, so perhaps it's not an update. I remember seeing these hats in a downtown boutique quite a while ago. However, I just saw them again recently at Seattle's 4th annual Urban Craft Uprising. They are Chia Hats; totally faux fur, deluxe, partially-custom animal hats with bright, colored lining. In a moment of weakness, I went ahead and bought one. Too fucking cute.

Outside the Seattle Center. Bamf fauxfur hats: not just for scene kids anymore.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

giving thanks.

I hope that all the Americans had a wonderful and loving Thanksgiving! I have so much to be grateful for this year, and I'm just lucky to have had such a pleasant holiday with smoothly prepared food. A shocker, considering the kitchen mayhem we've endured in past years and will endure in the years to come. I didn't do much in the way of originality for the feast, so I'll just leave you with a few recap shots.

Sourdough Stuffing w/ Apples & Mushrooms Stuffing
Sourdough Stuffing w/ Apples & Mushrooms; Mom's Stuffing's Veggies (later nonvegan)

Thanksgiving Spread
Clockwise from bottom: cranberry sauce, candied yams (non-vegetarian), delicata & butternut squash, tequila-lime yam hash, roasted brussel sprouts with garlic.

Impossible Vegan Pumpkin Pie
Impossible Vegan Pumpkin Pie from Fatfree Vegan Kitchen

I also made a seitan "turkey" loaf with the Mustard Sauce from Veganomicon, but it was not particularly gorgeous and I left it unphotographed. Of course, we have been living solely off of leftovers for the past day or so. Pumpkin Pie Milkshake, anyone? That was my balanced breakfast this morning...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

back from the whirlwind.

Whew; so. Excuses. I was honestly, truly, and terribly busy up until about a week ago. Sure, I could have gotten my lazy ass into a gear and posted this crap over the weekend, but even then I was busy and then just wanted to rest. So let me give you the wrap-up.

Bat Boy: The Musical (the segment starts on the video at about 2:40 left) closed last Saturday. I worked the show as assistant stage manager, so my life had revolved around it for the last couple months. Over the course of the run, I brought plenty sweets for the cast to share, but it didn't even cross my mind to snap any shots. ...I'm just glad it's done.

But let's get to the real meat (so to speak) of things. I'm incredibly fortunate enough to be one of Hannah's testers for her latest cookbook, and we've already been put to work on two recipes. The latest is a Cherry Macaroon Tart.

Cherry Macaroon Tart

Oh, Cherry Macaroon Tart. It's not such a secret that I'm infatuated with you. I've made you twice already. How many eyes have seen me sneak into the kitchen time and time again to steal bites of you? Perhaps it's a bit much to presume, but I think that you feel the same way. After all, you come together so easily for me - how can we not make the perfect match?

Cherry Macaroon Tart

Alright, enough lusting. But it's true - I've made this twice. Sort of. My first go was a bastarized version to bring to an Obama Day! Election Day party made with a modified crust. I red-white-and-blued it up by replacing most of the cherries with frozen blueberries and raspberries. This was mostly because upon receiving the recipe, I only had a few ounces of Trader Joe's cherries in the freezer and was dead-set on bringing this SUPREMELY QUICK AND EASY treat to the party. I made it a second time entirely against my will for the sole purpose of using Hannah's determined ingredients. It wasn't at all because those selfish Democratic bastards left me no leftovers to take home and eat later. No. Not at all.

I will note how versatile this recipe is. Both fillings - berry-variety and all cherries - firmed up beautifully.

Additionally - I finally got my hands on some matcha powder (thank god for Uwajimaya)! $10.99 for 1 oz. Eesh. Still, I didn't have to pay shipping and I could use the EBT card. And it goes a long way, right...?

Oh, I almost forgot: OBAMA!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

where's that cupcake?

Another month has passed so quickly, and precious tasks have been eluding me left and right in a busy whirlwind. I still mean to get my "Iron Cupcake:Cheese" entry up - I made a fairly festive, very simple, muy delicioso treat. However, in my effort to minimize the amount of leftover treats - I still have Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes in the freezer from last month! - I baked the "cupcakes" in large six-muffin tins instead of a twelve-muffin one. The cupcakes may have been pulled a little prematurely as a result, and a few fell right apart upon removal.

That, and I made them late at night with no desire to photograph, and by morning's effort they just weren't as pretty. But by the looks of it, I may have to stick with the really, really shitty photographs. Until later, then!

Friday, October 17, 2008

something to get off my chest.

It has been over a year since veganism was first introduced to me. Just one year and it seems like so much longer. I don't collect many details in my long term memory, so I don't remember how long I was considering vegetarianism prior to January of 2007. However, when I saw Fast Food Nation that last weekend of winter break, I knew I could never eat a hamburger again. It was the last straw. That's wasn't even the point of the movie; it's pretty much about corruption and the fast food industry. Vegetarianism barely made an appearance. But the blood and flesh and gore of the movie's slaughterhouse was something I just couldn't stomach - literally.

That summer I discovered the Post Punk Kitchen videos that piqued my interest in both cooking (a love that had gone on the wayside) and veganism - a subject that I'd barely considered months before. After all, I was "vegetarian" for more than two months until I finally gave up fish (I would guess that we could get Pacific Northwesterners to give up meat long before they would give up salmon). Then I discovered books - so many books. And the blogs - oh, my, the blogs! And it snowballed from there.

And now that I'm vegan... I'm a little shocked and appalled. And I don't mean by the Standard American Diet and the food industry (though I am) or by the crazed looks from people who ask me, "How can you not eat cheese? Ice cream?! MILK?!" because, let's face it, I expect that. Hell, that was ME two some years ago! In fact, maybe I haven't been on this side long enough to warrant complaints. But is seniority necessary to be repulsed by particular words and actions? It is one thing to disagree, to make your own choices, and still coexist with my values. It is another to be so blatantly abhorrent to the concept. That, my friends, is repulsive.

I like a newspaper called The Stranger. It's a Seattle-based paper - I get them at the transit center and it's something to read on the bus ride home. One column is called "I, Anonymous" - as the name suggests, they are anonymous ventings. About three weeks ago, a rant entitled "You Vegan Fuck" was published, and I came across it while browsing the archives.

You can read the selection yourself; I'm not even going to comment on it. I can defend the fact that restaurants should just fucking offer more than a measly salad, and I can bemoan those choice vegans who are far too uppity and plenty and make the rest of us look bad (after all - since when did a vegan have to get all bitchy and uppity to get a decent meal in Seattle?). The fact is, I don't know the situation or the relationship or the parties involved - so why bother? I will, however, be appropriately miffed by the comments that follow.

Vegans drive me nucking futs, most aggravating, pompous, self righteous asswipes I've ever had the displeasure of meeting.

You're wrong. all vegans are dicks.

I think the biggest argument against the ideological vegan or vegetarian is that plants are alive too, bitches.

I agree that vegans of both genders tend to be self-righteous, humorless dickheads. I wonder how long they'd cling to the high holy ground they think they occupy if they had the balls to travel outside their western comfort zone, and dined with a Tibetan family that depended on meat for their basic substinence?

And if you were in an especially self-loathing mood, you wouldn't have to stop at the comments. You could really just get your internet connection onto Google and search for the typical anti-veg propaganda - you know, your government-enforced protein requirement agenda, one of those silly debates circling the blogosphere about Jessica Simpson wearing that ridiculous "Real Women Eat Meat" tit-hugging excuse for a shirt, going to and clicking on the door until Bambi gets wasted...

Aside from my general disgust with the way people sometimes receive vegans, the base argument is... nonexistent. Plants are alive too? Well, until the next time you open a bell pepper and find a brain and a central nervous system comparable to that of any animal up in there with all them seeds and pith, I don't accept that argument. All vegans are dicks? I, personally, won't dispute the statement - I just wish it had been appended with "Just like all people who are gay will hit on you, and all of your grandparents are racist homophobes."

It isn't that we as a collective whole don't have a sense of humor. One would know that if they ever sat and had a conversation, just any conversation, with the average vegan instead of getting all out-of-sorts by the sheer mention of the word. Granted, there are some pompous hipster assholes who are vegans - as is true for ALL PEOPLE. It's simply that, perhaps, the omnivores have less of a sense of humor than we do. I'm the only vegan I know personally; it wouldn't bode well for me to get offended by every little comment. But God forbid the vegan makes an animal-cruelty joke to the omnivore. The defensiveness kicks in and the retorts start shooting. I've experienced cases that when explaining my values (as briefly as possible, because as a relatively reserved person, confrontation makes me uncomfortable) that some omnivores take it as a direct, personal attack. It takes me aback. Once, I was with an omnivore and we were talking about the gluten-free diet because we have a few friends with celiac disease. We were talking about what that means and what that restricts one's diet to, and I said, "I love eating out with people who are gluten-intolerant; they're as much of a pain in the ass as I am at a restaurant." She quickly shot back, "Yeah, but I don't think they made that choice the way you did." I was confused. How did what I say warrant offense? Perhaps she only meant to point out the obvious flaw in my joke, but in what place was she to come off as offended as she did? We both brushed it off and moved on, and there's no indication she ever meant anything malicious. But it still puzzles me.

We can debate the concept of humor and dietary choice as long as we want. Perhaps saying something as flippant as "How's your flesh-and-pus breakfast this morning?" comes off as a more obvious "attack" than "Ah! 'Soymeat,' I see. I guess you do stray from the hemp-and-granola path every once in a while." After all, who wants to think about the food they eat as living flesh and residual animal pus? Isn't that the point of our fundamental diet as vegans? Even in a day where vegans can fortunately manage their diet comfortably in almost every part of the country, societal rejection of veganism does not exist solely in our everyday comments. I mean, has anyone SEEN that bullshit about "VEGAN TERRORIST POTLUCKS?" (Here too!) I don't even want to go there tonight.

It is the last bit of that last quote that has left the most unpleasant taste in my mouth. Self-righteous? Possibly; the writer probably reads more offense into that attribute than need be, but what good would a vegan who will shy away from their values be to the community? "Outside their western comfort zone?" Um, does anyone else find this analogy moot? Because I'm so sure that the average meat-eating American would do so much better. Because the indication that the hypothetical Tibetan family in question's only assured sustenance* is meat DOES NOT indicate to me that their environment is any more oppressive than the average cushy American lifestyle. Or perhaps, the hypothetical vegan would embrace the culture and observe this or this on Buddhist nature or Tibetan vegetarian awareness. Additionally I would suggest that most people who make the argument that citizens of other nations require meat ...and that our failure to do so is somehow ignorant and selfish... have undoubtedly heard the basic "World hunger would be exponentially aided under a worldwide vegetarian diet" argument, stopped at "If we all stopped eating meat..." and refused to hear the discussion from there. My opinion on the average American's daily overconsumption can be discussed at another time.

Perhaps one day "vegan" will no longer be synonymous with "pretentious." Perhaps it will be the same day that there isn't anyone sass-snapping and shrieking, "Uh-huh, Jess, you go girl! You eat that meat! Bitch, I just ate a whole damn piglet! With barbecue sauce! AND CHEESE!" "Bitch, fuck you, PETA - you's a danger to society! You's should be executed like them bitch-ass chickens I eat!" "Real women hunt moose, too; I'm a mother-effing MAVERICK!" (Or, er, anything to that effect.) Until then, I'll be carrying my smack-stick around with my laptop, granola, and Oreos.

And, no, not all omnivores are dicks. I'm friends with great people who are very considerate of, and sometimes even interested in, my values. They may never go vegan for me, but I can just keep making cakes and hope.

*Because, according to Blogger, "substinence" is not a word.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The "Third-Try" Cupcakes

edit 9/28: Voting has started for these cupcakes. Please vote before this Thursday, October 2nd!

Oh, dear me. I can only imagine how lucid this post is going to be. I'm pumped full of every available cold suppressant to get through my classes at the community college, school, and rehearsal and before even starting, I could hardly remember if I'd even posted my Iron Cupcake entry. Jesus. Let's do this.

I was really enthusiastic this month about taking on my first challenge, and it gave me to excuse to plan a use for my dwindling summer basil. Ah, how I'll miss you, blossoming herbs. How I loathe paying obscene prices for you in the supermarket.

My initial plans went through a variety of phases and three different batches - both for cupcakes and toppings. As you can imagine I became rather frustrated and my competing frustrations did nothing to appease. No excuse for sloppiness, I know, but bear with me.

Mexican hot chocolate is a cinnamon-infused chocolate drink with a kick, and the cupcake adaptation is ripped right from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World with just a few adjustments. The cupcakes were topped with an Agave-Lime-Basil Buttercream made with a basil-lime syrup. If I were to make these again, I would drizzle some of the syrup over the batter before sliding the cupcakes into the oven and see if it would create a ribbon effect - otherwise, I did not add any basil to the cupcakes themselves. I meant to originally, but under the hectic circumstances I spaced.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes w/ Agave-Lime-Basil Buttercream

I had some leftover sugared basil from a (failed) experiment, and I crushed a handful to add to the buttercream. And voila. Exhausting but tasty cupcakes. The recipe is probably my favorite from VCTOTW - sweet with a kick, which I missed last month with the chili pepper challenge. The buttercream is really delicate - the basil adds an herby flavor that works with the sweetness, flowery almost. The lime really shines here too, which I think works well the slightly spicy chocolate.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes w/ Agave-Lime-Basil Buttercream

Voting starts at No One Puts Cupcake in a Corner this Sunday, September 28th - I'd be eternally pleased with a vote or two. After all - YOU DECIDE! Any which way you vote - let's go vegan, okay?

Exciting prizes, ya'll - there's this month's incredible Etsy artist is Metal Sugar, Head Chefs by Fiesta Products, Hello Cupcake by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson, those lovely Jessie Steele Aprons, the ever-practical Cupcake Courier, and Taste of Home!

In review - great prizes, you decide, September 28th, I'd love a vote, but go vegan - all set? Good.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes (Originally from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World)
makes 12 cupcakes

1 c coconut milk (soy or rice milk works)
2 tablespoons flaxseeds
¾ c all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons corn meal
¼ c almond meal
½ Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¾ tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 c granulated sugar
1/3 c applesauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and prepare a 12-muffin pan.
2. Grind flaxseeds in a blender or coffee grinder and whisk one tablespoon of the ground flaxseeds with the milk. Allow the mixture to sit for 10 minutes.
3. Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and cayenne in a large bowl.
4. With the remaining flaxseeds still in the blender, add the corn meal and almond meal. Grind until fine. Whisk the mixture into the sifted ingredients.
5. Whisk sugar, applesauce, vanilla, and almond extract into the milk mixture. Add wet ingredients to dry and whisk gently, taking care not to overmix.
6. Fill the cupcake liners or muffin tins ¾ full. Bake for 22-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
7. Leave cupcakes in pan for 3 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack. Cool completely.

Lime-Basil Syrup
(adapted from
this recipe)
½ c granulated sugar
Zest of 1 lime
¼ c fresh lime juice
1/8 c water
½ c loosely packed fresh basil

1. Bring sugar, zest, juice, and water to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil for one minute more. Remove from heat and let syrup stand uncovered for at least 15 minutes.
2. Transfer to a blender. Add basil and blend until basil is fully incorporated.
3. Cool. Use to glaze cupcakes, add ribbons to cupcake batter before baking, or even use leftovers in drinks and as an ice cream topping.

Agave-Lime-Basil Buttercream
¼ c nonhydrogenated shortening
¼ Earth Balance (or other vegan margarine)
2 c confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons agave nectar
4 tablespoons Lime-Basil Syrup, or to taste

1. In a stand mixer cream together shortening and margarine until smooth. Scrape down sides as needed.
2. Add in 1 c confectioners’ sugar and beat.
3. Beat in agave nectar and Lime-Basil syrup until creamy.
4. Continue adding in sugar, a tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

"but what about eggs? EVERYONE eats eggs?!"

Can anyone guess what's missing?



Did somebody ask... where do I get my protein? *Collective vegan (pity) laughter.*

All veganism hilarity aside (though "Steven" isn't really a vegan - you can check out the backstory at the bottom of this Satya back article), fuck YouTube.

And by that, I mean fuck people on YouTube. Snarky commenters do not exclusively troll the largely ignored but far too often spammed with narrow-minded notions comments page on YouTube. They troll and spam most any site with a comments option. I get most frustrated with YouTube punks, though, because it's more frustrating to read some fool using the barrier of "teh interwebs" to attack someone who has put themselves out there with a video. Count "Steven the Vegan" pages aside, which features some gems from the classic ring of shameless, selfish, cholesterol-through-the-roof, bacon-hugging, use-the-internet-as-a-defense-mechanism commenters, including but not limited to some sad fuck who was sweet enough to go through all the trouble of enumerating some collective of diabetes articles just to share his wealth of knowledge against veganism. You can come across just about any video, be it as innocent as an attempt at personal video blogging or your video tour of Central Park pretzel carts, and those homebodies with nowhere to go and nothing to do but vent their self-loathing across WiFi towers will surely have tagged it with their self-indulgent slander.

And every time I see it, I wan't to post something just as snarky and just as mean in return. But I never do, because those commenters forget one thing.

No one reads their BS. Oh, correction: No one cares.

Cough, cough... ahem. Anyway, I'll probably have something more relevant to post tomorrow/next week.

Monday, September 1, 2008

ewie ew.

Animal lover I may be, but a fan of bugs I am not. I don't mind them when they're, you know, outside in their natural habitat. Yes, yes, bugs are animals - I don't wish them harm or seek to kill them when they're in my home, I am just very squeamish with the creepy crawlies. They evoke connotations of dirtiness and incessant buzzing. I am most terrified of spiders, but I can't even stand slugs. Slugs. You know, those things that haven't moved more than an inch between the time you first saw them, got up and ate something, watched a movie, wrote, directed, and starred in a movie, and came back to see if they're still there. Yeah, I'm afraid of those too.

And if I see a bee? You would think I'd been out and out swarmed by them by the way I scream and dance away. This is probably one of my more justified fears (irrational perhaps, but justified) because everything gave me hives as a kid. I haven't had an outbreak in years, but I was a very allergic child. I convinced myself so early on that I would be allergic to bees if I were ever stung that if I were to be now, I'd probably have an allergic reaction out of sheer paranoia.

So why the manifesto on why bugs freak me out? Because my house is absolutely infested. With gnats. Mother-effing fruit flies. I looked it up and apparently gnats are attracted to sink drains, trash bins and compost bins, and fresh fruit. And because I'm all green and what not with my let's-not-waste! attitude to compliment the what I thought was a sufficiently covered compost bin in the pantry, and because I like the enzymes in my bananas and tomatoes to remain active, and because I have plumbing like most people... I had all those things. And now the kitchen is really fucking infested. The situation reiterates itself in the morning when I wander in and the coffee pot that was left out (not by me, mind you, because I take my coffee single-serve) is teeming with them. Fan-freaking-tastic.

I'm afraid to walk into my kitchen. It has established a blockade between me and my favorite pastime - eating. I'm so frustrated.

We have a couple of those sticky strips that attract the gnats and have tried to control their other sources of attraction. It seems to helping, a little. Right now I'm just trying to control the problem before I have to resort to sprays or poisons, which I really, really don't want to do.

edit: The number of them have actually subsided; sealing off food more and the strips seem to have helped.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

i should have got the cinnamon roll.

So as I came to accept the realization that I'm two days away from a new school year, with all its tests and SATs and projects and rehearsals... I wondered what I could micromanage over the Labor Day holiday that I've put off for the last two and half months. Despite the mostly nonexistent opportunity to travel beyond a twenty mile radius of my Pacific Northwestern hometown for the majority of the summer (because God knows when I'll put aside my paralyzing fear of cars and apply for my license), a lot has happened that I've had to deal with. Thankfully, I was grateful to make the day trip down to Portland that I was hoping for.

Portland is a beautiful city with abundant natural and material treasures, as those who prescribe to the belief that it's a vegan mecca especially know. Portland's Vegan Mini-MallA day is not nearly enough to experience this, especially when one is not able to devote their day to shelling out the money to dine out breakfast, lunch, and dinner with cafe stops inbetween - because, believe you me, that would be my perfect day in Portland.

Our first stop was the obligatory and famed vegan mini-mall on Stark Street. Can anyone imagine anything more progressive and quaint? It's simple existence makes me wonder why not everyone in Portland sees the ease in veganism, but the fact that I can go and enjoy myself like this is satisfying enough for me.

Sweetpea Baking CompanyArriving around nine in the morning, I was just starving enough to ravage Sweetpea Baking Company for all its worth. On a Friday morning I came during what is apparently the middle-time between Danish and Donut Day. Still there was enough variety for me to sample and take home to treat myself for the weekend. For breakfast I ordered the Raspberry Linzer Bar in addition to a Chocolate Chip Scone. It was incredibly sticky and decadent, the sweeter version of a lemon bar. Luscious. Sweetpea Baking CompanyI expected the scone to be sweeter, but it's fluffiness and biscuit-like quality makes it good of-course-I-can-eat-chocolate-chips-for-breakfast food. Unfortunately, I have no pictures of most of the treats because I was too anxious to eat. I managed to halt stuffing my face for a moment to capture a particular piece of interesting wall art. Makes a statement, no?

Blueberry-Lemon CupcakeI bought a handful more goods to take home with me, including a Monster Oatmeal Raisin Cookie, a slice of Boston Cream Cake, a Blueberry Lemon Cupcake, and a Gluten Free Brownie. Unfortunately I blanked ordering the second time around and missed out on sampling the Cinnamon Roll with Icing that I was practically foaming at the mouth for. Ah, well. Both cakes seemed rather dry when I tasted them at home, but then again they had been sitting in a car all day. The frosting on the cupcake was nice and delicate but rather thick and creamy as well. The pastry cream filling in the Boston Cream Cake was delicious; I wish I'd had more to dump on top. The brownie was nice and soft on its own but became more moist and heightened in chocolatiness when nuked in the microwave - I finished it off for breakfast (oops) this morning.

PDX Goods - Food Fight GroceryI moved on to Food Fight! Grocery before Herbivore opened at ten to see what I could see. I live in Olympia, which is almost smack-dab between Portland and Seattle, so my closer in-state choice of all-vegan grocery is Sidecar for Pigs Peace. Food Fight is similar. I purchased only a few items that I don't see nearby, including Soy Curls (which seem to be all the rage), Ricemellow Creme (that I used buy from the local co-op, but I've been disappointed and unable to find it lately), and... TEESE. I'm very excited to try the latter, but I'm afraid that my expectations are too high.

Herbivore T-ShirtBecause no vegan has reached a certain level of well-deserved nirvana without some cruelty-free, activism wear, I practically burst into Herbivore Clothing. The shop itself has its delightful, spacious beauty, and all the graphic designs ranging from the bold and edgy to sweet and intricate make choosing just a couple items difficult.VGN/PDX Jogger Track Jacket The store also features islands of book shelves with book upon book of vegan delicacies. In the end I settled on the very lovely Herbivore Rabbit Tee and a VGN/PDX Jogger. Then I went back and immediately armed myself with a patch and sticker collection to rival the notebook collage of a third grader.

After a few more hours and more sales-tax-free shopping complete, we chose Vege Thai as our dinner spot - then arrived an hour before it reopened for the evening. Wonderful. This actually turned out to be a happy mistake because it forced us to peruse Hawthorne Blvd's House of Vintage for that hour. I recommend the vast labyrinth of a vintage shop to all antique mall patrons and fans of kitsch. The space is truly teeming with variety and houses an extensive list of retailers.

Vege Thai - Portland, ORFinally dinner time arrived, and thankfully I was not disappointed. At a glance Vege Thai has an impressive menu with reasonable pricing, but we settled on the Red Curry with Tofu and a Sweet & Sour Stir-Fry with Black Pepper "Steak" served with brown rice. Really fucking good. I really enjoyed the curry although it wasn't more impressive than most take-out curries. It earns extra points for real nicely cooked eggplant, which really skeeves me out if even slightly improperly prepared. I was delighted by my stir-fry. It may seem like something easily prepared at home, but that freaking sauce was something else. Delicious. The steak was toothsome with a good overall flavor, but also a little rubbery. Not bad for faux meat, but that sauce made up for any and all unpleasantness. I ate leftover sauce cold the next day it was so good. I would return. I would return again and again and again, and perhaps eat something more than curry and sauce. Like a Thai Iced Coffee, perhaps. And maybe buy something from House next time. If you're interested, our total came to $16. I've spent more on samosas in Olympia, so all in all not bad. (You will have to excuse plate preparation - waiting an extra hour for food when I was already hungry does not lend me much patience.)

It was a good day trip, to be sure. I don't know if it's the subliminal blog posts or something in the Portland air, but one pilgrimage to the Holy Grail (do those two allusions even work together?) is not enough. A return must be made.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

avocados & iced coffee.

Growing Avocado I have been tired and stressed lately... consequently, stress-eating... but I always find solace in a creamy avocado. This weekend I decided to utilize the smooth, '70s-hued fruit in a couple of ways. And starting with my humble makeshift pit-receptacle, perhaps I might one day reap the benefits of a homegrown avocado.

First I whipped up a pie from Vegan Explosion that utilized a couple of 'em green babes. Not only are sweet avocado things very alluring to me, but I love when I can lie to myself that a treat is good for me. However, I had to make some adjustments: first, I have a sort of aversion to Toffuti Better Than Cream Cheese and am not of fan of paying so much for a tub since the closest Trader Joe's rarely has stock of them anymore. I subbed with a tofu recipe for cream cheese, but it really ended up more like sour cream. I didn't have the patience to adjust that any further and used it anyway. I also didn't have lime juice and used lemon juice with lime zest instead. The final product was too citrus-y, not sweet enough, and not showcasing the avocado enough for my taste. It is the loveliest pale-green shade, though. Sigh. I guess I'll need to make more pie when I have the proper ingredients and try again. If I have to.

In addition I've made the same raw soup today for lunch that I did yesterday: a Curried Carrot & Avocado rendition from Rainbow Green Live-Food Cuisine.Curried Carrot & Avocado Soup - Raw It's pretty simplisitic, which can be a refreshing change of pace. Essentially it consists (per one serving, which I reduced it to) of a cup of chopped carrots, half an avocado and half a cup of water blended with cumin, curry powder, cayenne, ginger, and lemon juice. I adjust the seasoning and juices to taste though amounts are listed in the recipe. I'm a cumin-ginger girl and go a little heavier there. Quick and easy is nice, and the fact that it's raw and almost pure fresh veggies and fruit is bonus. It might not be something I slip into regular circulation, but when I want to use up some carrots or avocado, it'll be the way to go.

The uncookbook itself is a mammoth raw compilation following the specialized namesake cuisine path. Flipping through, I found many inventive recipes I'd like to sample soon.

Despite the rainy, humid whether I'm surrounded in I've been craving a Vietnamese Iced Coffee featured in some back issue of Imbibe Magazine. The recipe requires two tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk, so I subbed in the veganized version that the Vegan Explosion pie recipe includes. For it, you'll need a special coffee brewer that'll set you back $4-5 from an Asian market or other supply store. We've had one for a while.

The grounds I use, by the way, are a French chicory roast, I believe. So it might be a different drink altogether. I didn't look too much into it.

Vietnamese Iced Coffee

2 T sweetened condensed milk (or perhaps 1 T milk + 1 T agave nectar if unwilling or unable to make the vegan version)
4 t ground coffee
6 oz boiling water (no tap; make sure it's good-tasting)
plenty ice

1. Place ice and milk in a tall glass like mine shown here.
2.Unscrew the filter plate from the brewer and add the ground coffee. Replace the filter plate, screwing in so that it remains a little loose.
3. Slowly begin pouring in the boiling water so that it only fills the brewer a quarter of the way at first. Wait about 20 seconds, making sure the water isn't filtering through too profusely. It should just be dripping slowly. If not, the filter plate is too loose and it needs to be screwed in a little tighter.
4. Pour the rest of the water over the brewer and replace the top. Again, the water should be dripping through slowly. Let it brew 4-5 minutes until it drips no more.
5. Stir and enjoy! (My sweetened condensed milk was a little too grainy, so I needed to strain it into another glass.)

Vegan Vietnamese Iced Coffee Vegan Vietnamese Iced Coffee
milk & ice; the coffee brewing

Psst... if you choose to go with milk and agave, try the Madhava Agave Nectar in Irish Creme. It's new (or I've been blind) and it's tasty.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

a hundred you can count on.

Still very little notable activity in the kitchen. I've kept my baking to a minimum since becoming unable to fit in my jeans. However, I vow to make a day trip to Portland before summer is over and will hopefully relish at least a piece of the city's finds.

In the meantime, Hannah of Bittersweet just posted the revised Vegan's Hundred, and I accept her challenge to complete it. As proprietor of this blog, I challenge you to do the same.

So here it is, The Vegan's Hundred complete with a few of my own barely-relevant anecdotes.

1) Copy this list into your own blog, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Post a comment here once you’ve finished and link your post back to this one.
5) Pass it on!

1. Natto
2. Green Smoothie
3. Tofu Scramble

4. Haggis (I'd eat it, but it seems so vaguely like the original that I wouldn't call it haggis. Not that I have a problem with avoiding the implication that I was eating a stuffed animals' intestine.)
5. Mangosteen
6. Creme brulee
7. Fondue

8. Marmite/Vegemite
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Nachos
12. Authentic soba noodles
13. PB&J sandwich
Aloo gobi
15. Taco from a
street cart (If you're ever eating from one of the California Taco wagons we see in Olympia, get the pickled carrots: you might never be able to eat them plain again.)
16. Boba Tea
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Gyoza
20. Vanilla ice cream

21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Ceviche
24. Rice and beans
26. Raw scotch bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Caviar (Because the whole connotation just bothers me. I really don't see the appeal in a veganized version either.)
29. Baklava
Wasabi peas
32. Chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Mango lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Mulled cider
37. Scones with buttery spread and jam

38. Vodka jelly
39. Gumbo
40. Fast food french fries
41. Raw Brownies
Fresh Garbanzo Beans
43. Dahl
44. Homemade Soymilk
45. Wine from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Stroopwafle
47. Samosas
48. Vegetable Sushi
49. Glazed doughnut
50. Seaweed
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Tofurkey
54. Sheese
55. Cotton candy
57. PiƱa colada
Birch beer (Not a fan.)
59. Scrapple
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores

62. Soy curls
63. Chickpea cutlets
64. Curry
65. Durian
66. Homemade Sausages
Churros, elephant ears, or funnel cake
68. Smoked tofu
69. Fried plantain
Mochi (A dessert I grew up with, considering my parents grew up in Hawaii and the majority of my family still lives there.)
71. Gazpacho (Isn't that the cold soup? I don't like cold soup. Unless there are many beans in it. And by soup you mean chili.)
72. Warm chocolate chip cookies
73. Absinthe
74. Corn on the cob
Whipped cream, straight from the can
76. Pomegranate
Fauxstess Cupcake
78. Mashed potatoes with gravy
Jerky (All Primal Strip varieties are so bomb, it warrants the almost unforgivable use of the word "bomb.")
80. Croissants
81. French onion soup (I'm not a picky eater, especially not when it comes to soup, but the soggy bread deal is not my thing. And without it, it's just a Toffuti slice floating in some broth with onion chunks.)
82. Savory crepes
83. Tings
84. A meal at Candle 79
85. Moussaka
86. Sprouted grains or seeds (My favorites are buckwheat groats - I think they're the most versatile and tasty plain.)
87. Macaroni and “cheese”
88. Flowers

89. Matzoh ball soup
90. White chocolate
91. Seitan
93. Butterscotch chips
94. Yellow watermelon
95. Chili with chocolate
96. Bagel and Tofutti
97. Potato milk
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Raw cookie dough

Monday, August 4, 2008

houserat vegan singlehandedly supports movie rental industry.

So maybe it's a little disappointing that after one post on the new blog, I have nil to say on the recent products of my kitchen, even though the only (and I mean only) productive outcome of my summer thus far has been devouring my "Instant Queue" on Netflix... and baking a lot of treats (both sweet and savory) for my sole consumption.

Eh. Whatever.

The truth is, personal and home issues have put me in a place right now that hasn't warranted much motivation for social or "productive" activity. One might argue that the only stated purpose of this blog is to share the goings-on of and around my kitchen. But I've got you on that one: the cooking and baking (and eating) is the easy part. The blogging is where it, for this purpose, becomes productive.

I can, however, recommend some television shows and stand-up comedy that have very little to do with the vegan lifestyle. Other than I'm vegan, and I've recently styled my life around watching these programs.

Weeds: I sat through the entire series in one weekend, and it is hands down the best thing I've discovered via all of this. Suburban widowed-mom deals against the backdrop of a catty and stereotypically status-driven surbuban neighborhood in California while still managing to raise two sons, house her brother-in-law, and keep business under the radar (even if the neighborhood is her customer base). It's as good, dramatic, ironic, and reassuringly hilarious as it sounds. And if it didn't sound like all of those things... it is. My few gripes are that the script seems to suggest that Mary Louise Parker's Nancy Botwin can drag herself out of most any pickle by her sheer sex appeal (and even when it's not obviously about how hot she is, you most always can trace the outcome back to, oh yeah, how hot she is), and throughout the series Nancy's concern with how her lifestyle directly impacts her children lessens more and more. But one could argue that that's not entirely unrealistic for all intents and purposes.

Wonder Falls: Produced by the brains behind Dead Like Me, the one-season, 14-episode series (starring Canadian favorite Caroline Dhavernas as well as Tracie Thoms (Rent)) is an entertaining and less-than-obivous take on the Joan of Arc story. This variation is quirky and animated, following Jaye Taylor, a cynical-but-endearing, "over educated and under employed" employee of the Niagra Falls gift shop Wonderfalls. Beginning with a smooshed-face wax lion, little souveniers and cartoonish animal images of all kinds begin communicating with Jaye in order to fulfill some grand master plan that's never clear until the end of an episode. The exposition is simple and mostly unchanging, but the plotlines hold interest. Dhavernas' demeanor as Jaye often comes off a little cartoonish herself, but she maintains watchability. Tracie Thoms' character is the easiest to watch, and Jaye's siblings Sharon and Aaron are likeable supporting characters. The love interest (a bartender at the bar Jaye frequents and Tracie Thoms' character works), played by Tyron Leitso, is sincere but a little flat. The tension between he and Jaye is obvious, and not in an endearing way. Essentially, I recommend the series as a rental. It's fun, dark-humored, and moralistic in it's Joan of Arc allusion but not in a religious, familial, bullshit way.

An Evening with Kevin Smith 2: Evening Harder: Just fucking watch this if you've seen Clerks, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Dogma, Chasing Amy, Mallrats, the first An Evening With Kevin Smith... even fucking Jersey Girl or those episodes of Degrassi that Kevin Smith guest starred on. Or just know who Kevin Smith is in general. It isn't "stand-up comedy" but a Q&A with Smith in Toronto and in London that often ends up brilliant, like the hilarious, irrelevant conversation that his movies' dialogue plays off of. It's humor is comforting to say the least. Like, in a "At least people still say shit like this to an audience." sort of way.

Daniel Tosh: Completely Serious: I've seen this special quite a few times on Comedy Central, I'm sure. If you wait long enough you can probably it catch it rather than actually renting it or clicking "Play" on its Netflix page. And still, his frat-like, spot-on observations and clever humor are just as brilliant. As Tosh points out halfway in, jokes often open funny and spiral on and on till its end punch and a handful of audience members have held on long enough to catch it. Definitely tune in if unfamiliar with his offensive and sarcastic performance, as apparantly the material hasn't varied much from other recordings. Worth the Comedy Central channel-lurking, at the very least.

Super High Me: Comedian Doug Benson does the opposite for pot than what Morgan Spurlock did for McDonald's in his playoff documentary. The film, which started out as a joke in Benson's act, follows him on the road during a comedy tour, introducing the beginning of the concept, a 30-day sobriety, and ending with 30 days of being stoned in order to study the effects between a variety of tests (including lung capacity, memory, and even psychic ability). But it's okay: he's got a California medical marijuana license. Not that such licenses are recognized by the United States Federal Government, due to a convuluted system of laws between the federal government and the states that recognize patients' use of marijuana. The difference is explained briefly and touched upon when the "dispensary" that backdrops the documentary is ransacked by the DEA. It's interesting and informative in its representation of the recreational drug unfamiliar to most of the general public, but its comedic aspect shouldn't disappoint people familiar with Benson either (or, you know, stoner humor in general).

Look at me; blogging like I know shit about reviewing. Ain't it cute. Don't be fooled or disappointed with my former claims; I've watched far more television than this.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

me doy la bienvenida al... BLOGSPOT.

Look, ma, I trekked aalll the way over from my own itsy bitsy domain for... Blogspot.

Why move? Because it was simply a pain to keep up appearances on a domain that I felt no passion for any more. Doing everything myself to maintain something that had little direction and purpose was difficult. Not to say I don't like webdesign, but now is not the time nor place.

In any case, it's summer, and unlike last year I will not be participating in any shows downtown. After five productions over the course of nine months, I'm a little theater-burnt out. After all I have much to be excited about and agonize over next year. You must understand that theater is a constant love-hate relationship that you're just too committed to get out of. The times that you love it are full of passion and wild days, but even in the times of hate you're afraid that you amount to nothing without them and just can't let go.

Dramatic, I know; But it comes with the territory.

So what are my summer plans instead? Likely Portland and LA in August. In the meantime, lots of watching lame-ass I Love the New Millenium (sans the two and a half years we've yet to complete for the decade, VH1) and culinary delights.

What has arisen in the kitchen meanwhilst? Many things, but the last photographically-documented treat was My Sweet Vegan's Cookies 'n' Cream Pound Cake that I made last month. I have had a great deal of difficulty with pound cake the last few times I've tried. I don't know if it's my glass loaf pan or what. Perhaps splitting the batter into two next time? In any case, the latest disaster was I could not, after many toothpick-testing attempts and fifteen minutes extra in the oven, detect any uncooked batter and removed it from the oven. Upon trying to remove it after some cooling, the loaf split in half. So I chopped it up and served it to my castmates anyway, where it was promptly devoured.

Cookies 'n' Cream Pound Cake... Too Eagerly Removed Cookies 'n' Cream Pound Cake... Too Eagerly Removed
an unfortunate accident... in terms of presentation.

In addition, I've been trying to eat more raw meals and finally bought Ani's Raw Food Kitchen by Ani Phyo a few weeks ago. The whole process of raw food is fascinating to me, such as the sprouting of grains and seeds as well as the the use of dehydrators. I love the cooking process too much to currently be a raw foodist, but the idea of more fresh, raw foods is logical. Though the starchiest grain and a pain to rinse, I've been sprouting mostly buckwheat groats, which make a really nice raw pizza crust. Unfortunately the last batch I made went moldy much quicker than previous batches while I was trying a rinsing/storing method that seemed to drain the groats more efficiently.

Sprouted Buckwheat Groats
previous pre-mold sprouting conditions

Oh, and how could I neglect to mention - I currently anxiously await the release of an apparently amazing vegan whipped topping being developed on one hand by Julie Hasson. Stay tuned on that front, for sure.