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Hey guys, check it out – ancient cookbook envelopes!  You know the kind of cookbook that has the index with the illustrated alfalfa leaf and the recipes for brown rice pudding with apricot and kale and buckwheat egg-mash?  Yeah, the kind that wouldn’t suffer much from being folded into something beautiful and useful, I think.  

I’ve been really into making envelopes the past day or two, it’s pretty easy – just take an envelope you like, unfold it flat, trace the outline onto another paper and glue it up the same way – brilliant!  I’m going to use these for my Etsy orders from now on.  

Hmm, yes, speaking of crafts, I may have mentioned an art show I had a table at last weekend?  It went pretty well for a first time at active capitalism – I made 5$ (after table cost), got some buttons, met great people, and probably most importantly of all – got A LOT of insider information on how to make laser cutters, business cards, japanese sculpture-cards, postcards, felted fabric, etc.  That and………… a custom cookie portrait on a vegan cookie no less!  Yumm-me!  haha.  The woman next to me was also friends with Jae Steele and we went on about Get it Ripe and co-ops for a while and I got to try her awesome spelted blueberry muffins and banana-chocolate breads!
Yum, corn salad!  I have no idea what made this one so special, but it’s what I brought for lunch with me to the sale.  I remember it was very acidic, with fresh dill, mayonnaise, perfect tomatoes, a bit of sugar (shhh don’t tell), cayenne, cumin maybe?…  whatever, it was creamy and really good when the ubiquitous wasps weren’t attracted by the sweet smell of it.  
I also brought these, and I can’t even tell you how much of a wasp-attractor they were, but omg were they worth it in every way.  Donuts!  Like I hadn’t tasted in years!  The chocolate-y ones I was especially pining for, and Lolo’s donuts (via Vegetarian Times) are just the texture and richness I remember.  So fudgey, so so so very good.  The apple ones had about 3 different dimensions of apple in them, too, spicy and perfect for fall!  
It was good to have a box like this to pass around to fellow crafters when the rain started coming down. 

smile and the cashew cucumber dip will smile with you ;)
In other news, my mom and brother came up for a few days last week, and we had a really lovely time, during which it became obvious to me where I learned to sup and savour food like a real hedonist.  My family gets it!  
I’d had some cabbage rolls stuffed with cinnamon-tomato-lemon-millet left over from a previous lunch, so I decided to expand on that Greek-style and with my bro’s help it was really fast and easy.  We ended up with the tomato & zucchini tofu fritters from Veganomicon, with the accompanying cashew cucumber dip, as well as some lime-broiled green beans, some artichokes, and olives.  We briefly bemoaned the lack of good thick greek pita to eat with all this, but then remembered there was a bottle of Riesling to be had (a good dry German one, haha) and anyway, that’s all *I* needed.
Hi mom!  This is my second favourite park, but my #1 choice for picnics.
In the morning with a sleepy brother!  I couldn’t really leave well enough alone when he said he wanted oatmeal.  If he really wanted oatmeal I would have made some afterwards, but I was so geared for brunch.  (I didn’t hear any complaints in the end).  Just enough food for three people, it was Isa’s basic fluffy pancakes, potato & sausage fry, steamed broccoli with cheesy sauce, and um… because I’m me, a firecracker-hot thai cucumber salad that I ended up just eating myself. I’m probably weird (no, I’m definitely weird), but I think eating a whole thai chili along with breakfast is a pretty good idea.  Kinda like coffee, but more burninating. 

Yummmmmm.  Those pancakes are so perfect.  Need I say more?

Oh, okay, just one more thing.  A quick bottomless apple pie made with the crust from Fran Costigan’s More Great Good Desserts.  Amazing!  It’s made with frozen oil and it’s the flakiest darned thing I’ve ever managed to top a pie with!  Really easy, too, and stood up to my adaptations (mostly spelt flour, some whiskey added).  Makes me think I might master pies someday.  I’m still no expert, but this one was getting close… the apples were just kissed with 5-spice powder, ooh.  We drizzled it with coconut cream and it was very good.  

My sister, meanwhile, is at Burning Man.  :O
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I came home to this sight the other day. It was kind of funny, actually – I’d just trudged home through a blizzard with visions of hot stew in my head and what do I find but the storm decided to join me in my kitchen!

Ha, it was okay. I managed not to step in any of the puddles and was very very thankful for the crockpot stew I had put on the night before. Yeah, I actually used my crockpot! *shock* my mom would be proud. I had actually been so busy that I acted the great cliche and took it down off the highest shelf I have to put some veganomicon cholent-style ingredients together the night before.

I’m actually not sure if I’m sold on the tarragon + caraway thing… but it was warm and hearty and perfect at the time. (ie: full of potatoes). I added tabasco and corn, too.

Earlier than that (or later? oh I don’t remember. sometime!) I made vcon lemon & pea risotto with roasted red peppers.

I don’t know why people complain about leftover risotto! I actually thought this was tastiest cold out of the fridge, slurped up like cold lemony pudding. I’m weird, yes. I tried Risotto al Salto too, to try it (basically fried up like a fritter), which was fine. But nothing on the ice-cold stuff!

I posted about hoecakes before, so there isn’t much to say about the big yellow thing on the plate – except maybe to amend my recipe to stress than fine cornmeal should be used in a hoecake. This one was coarse which did NOT work anywhere near as well, but ah you learn. The interesting bit, at least to me, is that grayish dip-like blob in the corner. It was very tasty! It’s black bean & orange dip from ED&BV, and it’s a little sweeter than a regular b.bean dip and really great on wraps and things.

In the midst of being busy I made some muffins to take to school. I wonder why I decided to make jammy muffins to put in my bag? Ha ha, anyway, they’re hearty jam-dot muffins from Fran Costigan’s second book. They’re okay… I like that there’s lots of toasted oats and sesame in them, and my mom’s homemade plum jelly. A wee bit heavy, but I subbed some stuff so it could have been my bad.

Over christmas my dad bought me some veggie burgers for christmas eve Burger Night (woohoo!), which happened to be Amy’s California Burgers. They’re soooooo good! They don’t taste a blessed thing like fakey meatstuff, but they DO taste like toasted bulger and mushrooms and loads of other great all-natural things. I had some on buns, and some on salad with tahini dressing and both ways were awesome. I had the last one today though, and I don’t know what to do because I never buy pre-packaged food for myself but I think I’ve fallen in love!

And finally… we call this an economic birthday, or a belated one, or whatever. It’s a full moon tonight and though it’s neither of these boys’ birthdays (although it’s close), it’s definitely always a good time for a chocolate jalapeno cake with ganache topping and strawberries inside. Yeah, I know!! It’s another Extraveganza cake recipe and holy schlamoli, it’s SO tender and delicious and soft peppery perfect, I tried a whole bunch of it that stuck to the cake tin. ^_^;

Word to the wise: the recipe mentions nothing about de-panning this cake, and in fact implies that it shouldn‘t be, I think, at least when you read the icing recipe along with it. I did anyway and it was a total headache cause it was so fluffy and sticky (and criminally delicious. did I mention that?), but I think it came through the operation 97% intact. Minus the chunks I ate. (I’m starting to think that being able to fix cake disasters is as useful as baking one that tastes good… :P)

Anyone else notice how the stuff on top kinda looks like a crab? Not planned! But I like it.

I was so excited when I heard of November’s Daring Bakers challenge – not only was it a real, honest-to-goodness fiddly multiple step recipe for something cake-like and gorgeous – but it was PURE SUGAR. No fruit, whole wheat, nuts to get in the way of every aromatic melt-in-your-mouth slice, hurray! (okay, my body started sending off little siren alarms with every bite, but it was worth it… sooooooooooo worth it)

It all starts with a big pot of caramel syrup, which becomes like magic flavour goo that’s added to the batter and the frosting. The browned butter frosting. I had heard you could brown Earth Balance and last Saturday was the day that my hopes were confirmed – it does brown and turn also quite magically delicous! Seriously, this frosting is my answer to buttercream, way more depth of flavour and the texture’s like… creamy fudge, yee-um. Part of the appeal may have been the happy accident of using mediterranean-style olive oil Earth Balance instead of buttery spread. Olive oil and caramel makes perfect sense to me. And to my tongue. :)

Other modifications… I don’t think I paid a speck of attention to how much salt was supposed to go in this thing and just sprinkled away until it tasted like a salted caramel I’d like. I didn’t make the butter caramels that could go with this because I ran out of sugar, cream and butter (ha!), but I did make a little batch of Fran Costigan’s vanilla wafer cookies with fig jam sandwiched inside. I’m still savoring each tiny nickel-sized piece… I think I’ve been making coffee just as an excuse to eat them. :D

I also used flax goo instead of eggs (the method where you soak whole flax seeds in water and then strain the thickened liquid out), but next time I’d definitely go for tofu or soygurt instead – flax was way too gummy.

See? A wee bit dense. Mismeasuring the milk had a lot to do with that, too. (try 1/4 cup too much – it makes a difference!) But I learned a lot about cakes (like, also I should trim them), and I’m all of a sudden really curious about veganizing other omni desserts, because da-amn…. the flavour on this one was just heavenly… and I really want another sticky sticky piece… I guess I’ll just have to try again in the noble name of science. :)

[ Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting recipe courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon (http://eggbeater.typepad.com/), as published on Bay Area Bites (http://blogs.kqed.org/bayareabites/2006 … he-recipe/ ]

Soooo, I made some Rum Raisin Fudge Brownies, a tester recipe for Hannah‘s new book, and they are fabulous. The raisins make them gorgeous chewy, and the flavour could rock socks off! I haven’t made many brownies in my day, but I do know that I’m on the fudgey end of preference, and also these have rum in them! They are dangerously good, I’m telling you…. :o~~~~~

Not too far behind are the peanut butter cookies from More Great Good Desserts. They’re a daintier recipe than the dense blocks of my youth, but low oil, high flavour and sooooo pretty and easy to make. So not my ultimate PB cookie recipe, but an excellent one nonetheless. Oh, and dynamite in coffee.

Yay sugar!

I’ve decided this winter will be an indian-styled winter. South indian, spicy and warming, full of root veg… it’s actually getting my passion for cooking back. Pomme made a great sambar last night and I made the apricot rice from Vegan Fire & Spice, neither authentic, but I started to actually ramble about food again, dreaming of dals and spice blends and techniques again… this is good. :)

And my first recipe from More Great Good Dairy-Free Desserts was the caramel popcorn, which is essentially cracker jacks and toasty-crisp-sweet-YUM. I might use peanuts instead next time instead of sunflower seeds, but hey, it’s so easy and good I’ll probably be whipping up a batch for thanksgiving nibbles next week.

Yeah… can you believe that we’re hosting thanksgiving for both our families in our TINY apartment? MINISCULE apartment. 15 people? We’ll see how this madness goes… my mother is already lamenting the lack of turkey (she won’t after we’re through, though!).

………….. 15 people. X_x

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