The not-so “Sometimes Vegan.”

Like most intelligent Americans, Moses and I get an awful lot of our important, informative information via Netflix “Watch Now.”  (The other half comes from the Colbert Report, South Park and occasionally Jon Stewart…you know you’re lopsided when Jon Stewart seems too “straight-laced” to watch frequently…)  Regardless, after Moses subjected me to a documentary advocating a lack of meat and dairy in a diet = healthier, less-cancer-prone and heart-disease-ridden people (he stopped watching half-way through, about the time they said bacon cheese burgers might be a bad idea) I had to admit, even taking all the un-said things into consideration, as long as it doesn’t KILL you, it’s hard to see the down-side of it (because meat and dairy in abundance certain DO seem to kill you…I can say that.  I believe that).


So anyway, while not vegan, because I want to always love food and be able to experience new parts of it (aside from the things I’d like to snuggle with more than eat, which was a hard choice to make), I am having a lot of fun baking vegan lately.  It’s something I never thought I’d do because, well, frankly, butter is one of the most marvelous things on earth in terms of baking.  Where there was once a solid-ish blob there is now slightly salty pockets of air–a la puff pastry.  Crunchy, crispy, browned and lightly bubbling pockets of butter–yum.

But, I like vegan baking in a way I’ve never liked regular baking.  In “typical” baking you have butter.  In vegan baking you have a vacuum.  So what do I put in it?  In this case, BANANA!  AND man it was good.

The key, (I think) is complimentary flavors.  Since I knew banana was my bonding agent sans egg, best to use flavors I LIKED with banana.  I chose chocolate (duh) and peanut butter (double duh, since I’d probably like peanut butter on a rubber shoe sole).

I also opt for coconut milk instead of soy or something thinner because I like the thick, luxuriousness of something cream-like.  The baseness, which so frustrates me in cooking without a curry spice, is great for baking.

I also did a few Thanksgiving experiments.  When I was baking professionally this cranberry caramel pumpkin upside down cake was a hit.  Using vegan Earth Balance it’s equally good, though the “caramel” is slightly less thick, but seriously, a room full of meat eaters went nuts for this upside down cake.

Recipe for Banana Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Mini Loaves:

2 Bananas (ripe)

2 table spoons Earth Balance vegan butter

2 1/2 table spoons peanut butter (Peanut Butter & Co. Smooth Operator works best!)

1 cup vegan, raw chocolate chips

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 cup brown sugar (or 1/2 cup maple syrup and combine with bananas–since they’re SO sweet already)

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup coconut milk

1 to 1 1/2 cup flour (until the batter is “shaggy”)

Combine vegan “butter”, sugar/bananas/maple syrup, banana and coconut milk in a stand mixer or mix by hand until banana is pureed and smooth and looks like typical “batter”.

Add salt, baking powder (with a sifter, if you want to avoid lumps) followed by your flour.  Make sure the batter is very moist looking, yet solid.

Add in chocolate chips, careful not to use stand mixer once they’ve been included (the force will break them apart into chunks.  They’re way more fun in chip forms so they make chocolatey pools).

In a mini loaf pan, muffin pan or cake pan (if using 9″ cake pan make sure to grease sides with vegan butter or oil and use parchment paper cut to size) scoop batter into equal parts.  Cut remaining half banana and put in 3s as garnish to top along with a peanut or 2.

Bake at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes, checking at 30 minutes to see if tooth pick comes out clean.  Let sit 10 minutes before inverting on plate and turning right-side-up.  Because there’s no “real” bonding agent, the sides will pull away and the middle may fall away from the banana a bit…that makes it taste better.

*The pumpkin, caramel, pecan upside down cake was SO easy too–just use vegan butter instead of real butter, for slightly oily, but super delicious caramel:

8 oz. vegan butter

1 cup pecans

2 bananas

1 cup pumpkin puree

6 tablespoons veggie oil

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour

1 cup sugar (brown or white)

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine “butter” and sugar over low heat and stir constantly until caramel forms.  Pour into pie pan and arrange pecans and cranberries, then mix remaining ingredients into batter and smooth carefully over caramel pecan mixture, bake at 350 for 40 minutes or so until the “top” of the pumpkin mixture is solid and caramel bubbles up around solids.

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Despite having wanted to be married since practically birth, I’d never given much thought to weddings and such.  It was always just the domestic household I was interested in.  As it turns out, wedding planning, while stressful, is a whole lot of fun in the attention department.

Because two bridesmaids were on the west coast and two on the east I was given a surprise bachelorette weekend in Austin, Texas.  Why Austin?  Why not?  (And I’ve also always wanted to go and talked about it several times–I love medium-sized cities, having grown up in a tiny one).

And so, you’ll have to pardon the image explosion, but the little motel my four favorites chose for my weekend (the Hotel San Jose) couldn’t have been more picturesque.  Plus, it’s the first time my adult best pals could really have a chance to “hang” and get to know my oldest pal, so it was very, very special.

Aside from one rather rowdy evening of karaoke (my all time drinking activity), the weekend was tame.  Spent eating way too much fantastic food and drinking tons of cheap drinks, we talked and got dressed up one night and split some bottles of wine and a killer cheese plate (I was absolutely NOT vegan on this trip).

We stayed at the Hotel San Jose, which was a lot like the Ace, but a little more individual.  I loved the daybeds and toiletries, the minibar products and complimentary bottles of Austin rainwater by your bed.  Oh, and being able to leave a towel on the floor and not find it later when I came back.

There were also delicious crackers, black “Texas” style beans with sugar and chipotle that I’ve been working to recreate, and one peanut butter pie I can’t stop thinking about.

Thank you, Bridesmaids, for such an amazing weekend and taking the time to plan it for me. xoxo.

Air Plants.

When we lived in SF we used to frequent Flora Grubb, a gardening store/coffee shop hybrid on the outskirts of the city.  We’d come home with air plants, blown glass terariums, lattes and lots of ideas and I’m still subscribed to the news letter…it’s that great.
Oh, and her real name’s Flora Grubb.  How amazing is that?  I wonder which inspired which: name begets vocation, or vise versa?

Flower Dye

Magical.  So, I’ve been promising (my adoring bog?) to post real pictures, I promise I will tonight.  In the meantime, check this out, because this is totally what I’m doing this weekend.  I think I’ll try pillow cases.  I’ll let you know how it fares.  I have an uncanny knack for coming up with muddy brown colors when things are promised to be rose-tinted, or lumpy seams when things are supposed to be straight.  In short, despite my love of cooking, I’m sort of a crafts flop–but that haphazard look as become my calling card, I think.  Plus, Moses is all about straight lines and rehanging my lopsided paintings.  Oh true love…

Photos from here.

The Exciting Adventures of the Vet.

The Exciting Adventures of the Vet.

Poor Kitty V. has been drinking lots of water. Or course, drinking water is good…but I’m a nervous mom and any change in behavior is a little worrisome.

Kitty’s new vet in Brooklyn was wonderful. We decided to splurge and go for the fancy place in Boerum Hill. Kitty didn’t care that the vet was nice, but it made me feel better. Kitty also got to go in a cab for the first time. She also didn’t think this was exciting. In fact, she found it terrifying and cried her kitty death meow the entire time and on the way home she peed on herself a little. (Hey, gypsy cabs scare us all a bit).

The new vet kissed Vivi’s head twice and said she was pretty. He also noted she loved attention. I agreed with all of these things, but then he said that Vivienne has gained 3 lbs since we moved here from LA and that she “could” lose “a pound or so.”

I tried to tell Viv it was no big deal. I told her “hey, we’ll try some new food, new kinds of chicken!” She told me she wanted her old food. She told me she hated the vet. She told me she didn’t want kisses and she didn’t want my sympathy.

It sounded like this:
“MMMMMMMEEEEEEEOWWWWW.”

And I said, “Kitty Viv, tomorrow will be a better day.”
It was.