12.23.2010

12.14.2010

so easy to slip

It's been a while since I've done this - since I've started crafting a blog post before the day I posted it. I started this as a way to escape my job, the worst job I've ever had, and Tuesdays were always the worst. (Tuesdays are often still the worst. I've never had much luck with Tuesdays.)

I started this as a way to chronicle being good to myself. It has since shifted purposes, a way for me to catalog the food I make and the people I make it with and for. Sometimes these are the same.



The thing is, it's hard. It's hard to be good to yourself, and so easy to slip. It's so easy for me to distance myself from what's happening, either by narrating in my head (writing without paper or a keyboard) or by putting the camera to my face (capturing in a different way). It's hard, sometimes, to just be. (A second after that photo, Johanna admonished me: can't you put the camera down, you jerk? Yes. Yes.)

It's about balance, just like everything else is. Andy - born exactly one week before me - and I have had many conversations about what it means to be a Libra, and it always comes back to balance. Keeping the scales in check.

--

I'm ridiculously lucky, you see. I have a fairly well-paying job, a tiny-but-cozy apartment, and some of the best people to call my friends. (Sometimes my brain counters all of this with anxiety attacks. It's been doing that a lot this past week.) These people gathered in that apartment for the fourth annual Friendsgiving, a tradition that Daniel, Johanna and I have carried with us from Greensboro.

Friendsgiving has always been a small(-ish) affair. Back in 2007, when we had the first one, there were only six of us. I don't remember the next one very well, though I'm sure we had one - I wasn't yet comfortable in DC, not entirely, and my photography had fallen by the wayside. It serves as a reminder of why I do this: I'm terrified of forgetting.

Anyway, this year there were five of us, two cooks (guess which two), two bottles of wine, a vegan pot pie, identity crisis potatoes, asparagus and peppers, and an apple pie. Everything was consumed. Seriously. The only leftovers we had were the vegetables we couldn't fit into the pot pie, and those were turned into a delicious stir-fry.



After the pie, the second pie, the boys went to retrieve a card game from down the street and while they did that, Johanna and I revisited our first Friendsgiving. Namely, we took a picture of ourselves on my couch, just like we did three years ago on her couch in Greensboro. Have I mentioned how lucky I am? I am so unbelievably lucky, for these people. I'm not trying to brag, it's just that sometimes I need to remind myself. It's been one of those weeks.

Anyway. I'm trying to focus on the good, and not the anxiety threatening to tip the scales.

Vegan B├ęchamel

Recipe - I'm pretty sure the only adapting we did was to use rice milk instead of oat milk. Oh, and we also left out the nutmeg.

And here's the recipe for the pot pie. If you need a reminder on how to make the crust vegan, check out the other recent pies. Otherwise, replace the Mornay sauce with the above b├ęchamel, and you should be set!

12.10.2010

photo friday



I know I said I'd have a Friendsgiving post for you today, but alas and alack, the photo processing machine broke and so my pictures weren't developed. Annoying!

12.07.2010

photo switcheroo


I will post about Friendsgiving on Friday, when I'll have the photos developed. (Also I will eventually post that stir-fry recipe. I swear it.)

Also, I'd like to wish a very happy birthday to my dear friend Danielle. Here's to knowing each other half our lives!

11.30.2010

a familiar feeling

It's convenient that I post recipes here on Tuesdays, because Mondays - successfully reclaimed, also known as party Mondays - have become a time when we experiment with new food.

(Well, mostly. Last night it was this fettuccine dish again. I love it so much. It has definitely managed to become a dish we make frequently. Please try it. It's so good.)



Here is a confession: most of this is Daniel's doing. He, after all, is the cook out of the two of us. (I am the baker. This may be obvious from reading this blog.) It's become a familiar feeling, to be standing at my counter chopping vegetables while Daniel stands at the oven sauteing something. We make a fair amount of stir-fries, so we also strive to make them new and exciting.

Those are the ones that make it to the blog.



Daniel's Peanut-Ginger Stir-Fry
adapted from Daniel's scrawled notes

SAUCE
3/4 c. vegetable stock
1/8 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. white wine
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. white vinegar
1 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 3 tbsp water
3 tbsp minced ginger
2 hot peppers
4 cloves garlic
minced green onions

STIR-FRY
chicken-style seitan
peanuts
broccoli
pepper
onion

If you are eating rice with this, start preparing that now. If, however, you are going to eat cous-cous with this, as we did, save that until the end. Cous-cous takes startlingly little time to prepare.

Combine the stock, soy sauce, wine, sugar, cornstarch, and vinegar. In a pan, heat up some oil and toss in the ginger, hot peppers, and green onions. After a little while, add the stock mixture and cook on high heat until done.

In a separate pan, saute all of your stir-fry ingredients and add the sauce. Make your cous-cous. Serve the vegetables and sauce over your rice or cous-cous.

11.26.2010

black friday sale!



Dear reader, because I am so thankful for you, I am offering a sale (only for blog readers) in my Etsy store. Just enter in the coupon code "BLACK30" to get 30% off any photo!

Hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful!

11.23.2010

the potential of pumpkin

I've written about pumpkin before. Like, pretty frequently, I realize. It's just that I love pumpkin so much, and I hadn't even fully comprehended that until maybe last year. Pumpkin pie was always my favorite, you see, but I had never realized the potential of pumpkin.


So, here's the deal: Thanksgiving is a matter of days away. The day after tomorrow, in fact. It seems a little silly to give you a Thanksgiving appropriate recipe so close to the holiday, but you know what? I'm okay with that. (There is also the recipe I was going to post last week, but hopefully Daniel will understand that pie takes a priority this week.)

I was worried about my vegan baking mojo, you see. There were these vegan peanut butter cookies attempted that never got past the crumble stage to become batter. But I've made this pie crust enough times at this point that I feel comfortable with it (thanks, Michael Ruhlman, and your ratios). And the filling was simply a matter of measuring and mixing.


The pie has to sit overnight, so if you are going to make it for any kind of Thanksgiving feast, make sure to make it - well - tomorrow, I guess. Unless you are doing like us and having a second Thanksgiving. (We call ours Friendsgiving. This will be our fourth annual one. I'm so excited! You'll almost certainly hear more about it.)

Because it has to chill, I kind of forgot about it. I know, even though there was an entire pie sitting in my refrigerator. So Daniel and I, celebrating nothing other than party Monday, ate pumpkin pie at approximately 11 PM. (Reclaiming Monday was a great idea, you know. You should all try it. Mondays are pretty awesome now.) And what a good decision that was. Granted, neither of us could finish the slices we had because we were so full from dinner, and there was a hint too much molasses in it, but still.

You can't really go wrong with pumpkin pie, no matter what time it is.


Vegan Pumpkin Pie
adapted from here

I would recommend decreasing the molasses a little bit, as it comes through quite strongly in the finished pie. I'm also sure you could use another kind of non-dairy milk if you'd prefer something other than rice milk. Enjoy!

CRUST
1 stick margarine, cold or frozen and cut into small pieces
3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. ice water
pinch of salt

FILLING
2 c. pumpkin puree
1 c. rice milk
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. cornstarch
1/2 tbsp molasses
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg

To make the crust, rub the cut-up pieces of margarine in the flour until you have pea-sized chunks. Slowly add in the ice water until the mixture becomes dough-like. Add in the pinch of salt. Knead until it comes together. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to roll out.

Mix together all the ingredient for the filling in a large bowl. Stir until blended completely.

Roll out your crust, if you haven't already. Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Pour the filling into the crust and bake for about ten minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350°F and bake for another 50 minutes. Let cool on a baking rack, then refrigerate overnight.

11.16.2010

photo tuesday, oops



So, I don't have a post for you today, not because I don't have a recipe but because I forgot the pictures of it. Alas and alack!

Hopefully this photo will make up for it. It's kind of my favorite right now.

11.09.2010

a good feeling

Monday has changed. It used to be a day of dread, the start of the work-week, not something to be enjoyed. It's only been a few weeks since we first reclaimed Monday, but the changes were immediately apparent.

Mondays are still the beginning of the work-week, obviously, but now we look forward to what will happen when the day is done. Namely, making delicious food and drinking some wine with dinner and - now - watching the new episode of The Walking Dead. (Note: probably a good idea not to eat and watch at the same time.)


The story is basically the same: Danielle and Daniel decide on a delicious thing to make, and make it. What I like about this story is that it keeps happening, and because it keeps happening, the food we make gets better. I think we started out being pretty good at making food, but we are getting even more awesome at it the more we keep at it. Which is a good feeling.

So last night we made risotto, which neither of us had made before, and which was simple (albeit time-consuming). It was a comforting sort of food, thick and creamy, and probably better suited to the depths of winter instead of the surprisingly warm night on which we ate it. Our original idea was to have the veggies as a side, but we quickly abandoned that because they tasted so much better together.



Sun-dried Tomato Risotto with Asparagus and Bell Pepper
adapted from The Pioneer Woman

4 tbsp margarine
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 yellow onion
3 cloves of garlic
2 c. arborio rice
8 whole sun-dried tomatoes
1 c. white wine
7 c. veggie broth
white pepper
cumin
fresh basil, chopped

1 bunch asparagus
1 bell pepper
3 (more) cloves of garlic
cayenne pepper

Heat your broth in a pan and set it aside. In a large pot (or wok, like we used), heat the butter and the oil together. Add in the diced onions and the minced garlic - you'll want these to be chopped pretty finely, since the goal is for everything to meld together deliciously - and cook for a few minutes on medium-low heat. Add in the rice, stirring gently for another couple minutes until the rice is covered in the butter-oil mixture. Pour in the wine and mix until the liquid is absorbed by the rice. Toss in the chopped tomatoes.

One cup at a time, add in the broth. After each cup, stir until the liquid is absorbed. It's insane how much liquid the rice takes in, but keep going. Pretty much you keep doing this until the rice is done. You'll know when it still has a toothsome quality, but is not crunchy. You can add in the spices (cumin, white pepper) really at any point during the broth process. Stir in the basil when finished.

About ten minutes before the rice is done (you'll have to guess on this - and probably the veggies will be done before the rice), start preparing this veggie dish, with only one bell pepper. We didn't use cumin in these this time because it went into the risotto itself.

Serve together. Yum!

11.05.2010

the surprise


Okay, I am nervous and excited to take this step, but here goes nothing. My Etsy shop has gone live. Now you can buy prints of the photos I take!

There are only a few photos up there now, and I'll be adding some periodically.

11.02.2010

plotting.


No recipe today, dear reader, but hopefully I will have a surprise for you on Friday!

10.29.2010

photo friday



got a canon ae-1 as a belated birthday present.
see the results of my first (successful) roll here.

10.26.2010

eat more pie

I do this thing, when I make a new dish, where I get really nervous it won't work out and then try to lower everyone's expectations regarding the dish. I start to fret, and then I voice my concerns, which are usually just "what if I messed something up."

After a trip to Pennsylvania, I came home with a bag full of apples, from the orchard next door to my grandparents' new (-ish) house. Pie was the obvious solution, but I am - confession time - not a big fan of pie. (Pumpkin pie is the exception. I love pumpkin pie so much.) I forget sometimes that other people kind of love pie. So when I asked Daniel if he wanted some of the pie I was planning on making, he answered, "Obviously," and I felt a little sheepish.



I'm not sure why I never got that into pie. I think it was something like raw fruits were fine, why would you bake them into a pastry? I know, I know. That's a weird thing to think. I recognize that.

Maybe it just took baking one myself. Because seriously, despite all that above, I kind of loved this pie. I stood in the kitchen eating pie out of the pan. Just a tiny slice, to see if it passed. Fresh from the oven. I served Daniel and Michael and hurried back to eat more pie.

The pie was gone by the end of the night.



Vegan Apple Pie
adapted from Ratio, by Michael Ruhlman

One of the best things about this pie is that it really highlights the apples. You know, like it should. The crust wasn't sweetened, in a serendipitous mistake. As Daniel said, "it's not like a sugar-punch to the face." It won over Michael, who is also not a big fan of pies. All in all, a winner.

Also, if you're not making this for a vegan audience, you can happily use butter. It should be noted, however, that I've made it both ways and I could not tell you which was more delicious.


3 medium-to-large apples
2 tbsp sugar
cinnamon
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
2 sticks margarine, cold or frozen
1/2 c. ice water
pinch of salt

Peel and chop your apples. I like to have small, bite-sized pieces in my pie, but feel free to chop to whatever size you desire! Place them in a medium-sized bowl and toss in the sugar and a couple shakes of cinnamon. Mix with your hands and let sit while you make the dough.

Measure out the flour into a large mixing bowl. Cut the butter into small pats and rub into the flour until you have even smaller pea-sized pieces. Slowly add in water until the mixture starts to become dough-like. Make sure not to overwork the dough - knead it just until it comes together. Split the dough into two.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

On a floured surface, roll out one chunk of dough. This will be your bottom crust. Go ahead and place the rolled out dough into your pie pan and remove the excess dough around the edges. Put the filling inside. Now comes the fun part: you can choose what kind of top crust you want. You could simply roll out the other chunk and have a plain crust (making sure to make some slits for the steam to escape), or you can make a lattice crust, which is what I did. For that, roll out the second chunk of dough - I did this a little at a time, so I didn't overwork the excess dough. Using a knife or a pastry cutter, cut some slices of dough. Place them on top of the filling, weaving them as you go.

When you're done, place the pie in the oven and bake until the crust is golden and flaky.

10.19.2010

reclaiming monday

We were seduced by taco night.

It's just - that taco filling is so good! And tacos are so easy! And we get two or three entire meals out of them! And did I mention how good they are? So good. But yesterday Daniel lamented, "We have been corrupted by tacos. I miss culinary adventures already."

Which is how we wound up reclaiming Monday.



It wasn't exactly something we set out to do. We were at the supermarket, hoping to find all the ingredients for our meal, since even though we discussed it we did not have a back-up plan - and the next thing you know, Monday night feels like the weekend. The bottle of wine helped with that, but it was also simply the attitude with which we approached the evening.



It wound up being a really good night: we made delicious food (which I promise I will tell you about in a second), drank some okay wine, took a short walk, and hung out until midnight! On a weeknight! I know, we are pretty crazy.

So, this food. The recipe we started from called it pasta alfredo, but let's face it. This dish is delicious, and vegan, and also not fettuccine alfredo. I think it might actually be better than most of the fettuccine alfredo I've had, because it involves way more interesting ingredients. Some of which, granted, are kind of weird and may take a little snooping around in your supermarket to find. (A hint: nutritional yeast can be found in the bulk aisle of Whole Foods.)

It was so good that I went back for seconds while Daniel was finishing up his first bowl. I kind of want some right now, just writing about it. The weird ingredients are worth it, trust me. Make this. It is super easy and so g.d. delicious.



Fettuccine in Bianca
adapted slightly from here

1 c. rice milk
1/3 c. raw unsalted cashews
1/4 c. nutritional yeast
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp margarine
1 tbsp tahini (heaping)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp paprika
a couple shakes of nutmeg
a couple cloves of garlic

Add all the ingredients to a blender. Blend until smooth. Done.

Prepare some fettuccine. Drain. Put back in the pot you used to cook the noodles. Pour the sauce over. Use medium heat and cook until warm.

We also added some broccoli, which was the right decision.

10.12.2010

placeholder

No food today - there were tentative plans to make something delicious once I returned from my trip north, but I was exhausted after driving all day. So, instead, have some autumn!

10.05.2010

pumpkin gnocchi

October is here, and that means sweater weather and pumpkin dishes. (You know, like, pumpkin cheesecake...mmm.)

I'm not sure where the idea for pumpkin gnocchi came from, exactly, but once it did, I sort of fixated on it. Which was a problem, seeing as I couldn't find pumpkin puree in the stores and didn't want to mash up a pumpkin on my own. So we had taco night. Problem solved!



...Except that I was still fixated. I wanted to make that pumpkin gnocchi. Pumpkin was finally found in the store, a big 29-oz. can of it, but it still took us a while to actually get around to make it. (There was a pretty awesome home-made General Tso's stir fry in there, too, but my contribution to that was really just chopping.) But make it we did, and then we gobbled it right up.



Pumpkin Gnocchi with Sage Butter Sauce
adapted from here

15 oz. pumpkin puree
2 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
dash of nutmeg
dash of cayenne pepper
salt and pepper
1/3 c. melted (vegan, in this case) butter
about 7 minced sage leaves
3 cloves garlic, minced

Combine the pumpkin, flour, nutmeg, cayenne, salt, and pepper, until everything is incorporated. Take about a handful of the dough and, on a lightly floured surface, roll it into a rope about an inch in diameter. Cut the rope into pieces about an inch wide.

Get some lightly salted water boiling in a large pot. When they are ready, pop the gnocchi into the water. As they cook, prepare the sauce by melting the butter in a small pot. Add in the sage and the garlic; let simmer for a bit.

The gnocchi will be ready when the float at the top of the boiling water. Remove promptly and mix with the butter. Serve - with parmesan if you're not vegan!

9.28.2010

a big claim

Sometimes it's hard to tell a story; here, on this blog, usually because it boils down to "Danielle and Daniel hang out and make delicious food," and while I enjoy that story, I feel like I've told it many times.

So let's begin somewhere else: taco night. Taco night has always been one of my favorite nights, and aside from ordering tacos at local chains, I haven't had one in a long time. Becca and I talked about it once, I seem to remember, but it never came to fruition. I thought about just having one myself, but taco nights are not really a solo activity.


Dear reader, I actually wanted to be telling you about pumpkin gnocchi right now, but alas and alack, the supermarket was out of pumpkin puree (and I really didn't want to go through the effort of pureeing my own pumpkin). There we were, in the supermarket, trying to figure out what to do for a delicious dinner.

We finally wound up in the Mexican food section, deciding on tacos, and gathered our ingredients. Later, in the kitchen, Daniel asked if I wanted to take pictures, "in case you want to blog about it." I didn't think I would be here telling you about tacos. I mean, they're just tacos, right? Wrong. In this case. The filling for these tacos surpassed my wildest expectations, as well as - I know this is a big claim - any previous taco nights.


Seriously. It was that good. Because we made a huge batch, a second taco night needed to be arranged. Immediately. (It's tomorrow. What a good birth-week!)

Daniel's Amazing Taco Filling

1 package veggie "beef" crumbles
1 can refried black beans
1 bell pepper
1/2 white onion
about 1/2 can chipotle peppers
a couple cloves of garlic

First, chop up the bell pepper, onion, and garlic. You'll want fairly small pieces so that they incorporate into the filling. You can chop the chipotle peppers now, too, but you'll want to throw in some of their juices once you start mixing everything together.

Next, pour some oil into a pot that will be able to contain all the ingredients. Start by browning the "beef" crumbles slightly, then add the onion and the bell pepper. When the onion and bell pepper are almost done, add in the chipotle peppers and the garlic. After a minute or two, add in the refried beans. Cook until hot.

Now all you have to do is grab your other taco condiments (we used salsa, guacamole, and both regular and vegan cheese) and you're ready to make your tacos! Yum.

9.21.2010

starting to change

Change is on my mind a lot, lately. It's autumn, first of all, so even though the forecast for tomorrow is 90F (ugh), the breeze is still cool and the leaves are starting to change. Autumn is a good season for change, after all - but then again, what season isn't?

There are plenty of changes happening within my circle of friends, but the one that concerns this post is really Daniel's veganism. See, I have long had plans for making ice cream. These plans have never really come into fruition for one reason or another (usually my own laziness, let's be honest) - and technically they still haven't.

I found the recipe below on a blog I read regularly, and promptly sent it to Daniel, figuring he'd be interested in it. And he was, along with the suggestion that around this we create an elaborate vegan meal. This meal was to include plantain empanadas with refried beans, chipotle mashed potatoes, and some sort of stir fry.



Well, dear readers, there's a reason you're not reading about any of those today. I mean, they were all fine - and the latter two were certainly very spicy - but the empanadas, which were the most complicated, aren't really worth the complications. They basically caused Daniel and I to swear off baking with plantains, especially after they nearly destroyed my (tiny, granted) food processor and actually destroyed one of my spatulas with the frying.

(Note: the chipotle mashed potatoes were pretty awesome. To make these, simply make mashed potatoes and then stir in as much of a can of chipotle peppers as you'd like. Easy!)



The dessert, though - that turned out pretty much perfectly. Granted, it is a little weird: all the flavors go together, but the fact that it's frozen is just, well, weird. Don't let that stop you from trying this, however, because it's still quite tasty!

Avocado Ice Cream

Recipe

9.14.2010

holding on

Despite the fact that the forecast is predicting temperatures in the 80s this week (and the week after), I am resolutely holding on to Autumn. After all, mornings and evenings are still cool, and the breeze still carries autumn with it, even with high temperatures.

So I made bread.

Even though by the afternoon the heat was in full force, I made bread with my windows open. It felt good to make something again. When Andy came back from New Mexico, he asked me what I'd been baking over the summer. "Nothing," I told him, somewhat abashedly. Aside from the complicated emotional pattern I had fallen into, there was also the fact that my time was spent hanging out with friends who were coming back, who were going away. There was no time for baking.



Bread is one of my favorite things to bake. I know that yeast scares people, but I can't imagine why. Maybe I've just been lucky - I've never really had any problems with yeast. My own patience, sure, but not actually working with yeast. You'll also remember how much I love quick breads. This bread is somewhere in between the two. It rises in the oven, getting the yeast from beer, so you cut out that step of leaving the dough somewhere to rise for an hour or two.



Plus, it makes your kitchen (or whole apartment, if you're me) smell absolutely delicious. And it tastes pretty good, too!

Cheddar-Dill Beer Bread
adapted from here

I used Blue Moon for the beer here, which is a Belgian-style white. Feel free to use whatever beer you think would go with cheddar and dill, though!

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
2 tsp dill (dried)
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
2 12-oz. beers

Open one of the beers. Take a sip. Preheat the oven to 375
°F.

Mix all the dry ingredients and the cheese (or, everything except the beer) together in a large bowl. Slowly pour in the beer, mixing as you go. If the dough hasn't come together entirely, pour in a little from the second beer until all of the flour mixture has been incorporated. Enjoy the rest of your beer.

Pour the dough into a greased loaf pan; I used a 9-inch pan for this, which worked out well. If you've poured in a little of the second beer, remember that the bread will rise higher from the extra yeast in the beer. It's important to take this into consideration. Bake for 45 minutes.

Let the bread cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then outside the pan for another 10 minutes. Enjoy!

9.07.2010

september



The wind is ushering in autumn, and I can feel everything changing. Whatever else 2010 has been and will be, it is certainly a year of great change in my life.

8.31.2010

a funny bias

Last week, Daniel asked me if I could bake a cake for Jo's birthday party. Which, you know, is not a huge deal. I could bake a cake in my sleep. But then he asked if it could involve sweet potatoes.

This was a surprising request, because, well, I had no idea that cakes could involve sweet potatoes. A quick google search told me that yes, that is a thing. Daniel even went so far as to provide a recipe, which was vegan. (Daniel's new-found veganism might mean you will see more vegan recipes on here. It might not. Y'all know how much I love butter.)


There is a funny bias against vegan baked goods. By and large this is changing, with the popularity of places like Babycakes up in New York, but it still exists. People don't expect vegan baked goods to be delicious and moist like non-vegan baked goods.

So I was nervous. I've never baked consciously vegan before (though now I have a label for any vegan goodies on here [note: some of the items on that page do have butter, but as it's for sauteing, you can substitute for olive oil]), on top of which I always get nervous when I bake something new. And on top of all of that, I was bringing this to a party where many people I did not know would be partaking of this baked good.


All my nerves, as usual, were for naught. I iced and decorated the cake (okay, that part I was actually excited about) and jerry-rigged a carrying case out of a plate and tin foil. When I unveiled it, before most of the guests arrived, those in attendance seemed impressed with just the description of what it was. Once the cake was cut and served, people incredulously asked, you made this? The most impressive victory was over those who are most certainly not-vegan; John Paul noted that usually vegan baked goods are dry and not-so-good, but this was moist and delicious.

So there you have it. This is a vegan cake to win over non-vegans. It's a little bit more work than I usually like in a cake, but it's worth it, especially if you want to be able to serve those of your friends who don't partake of dairy.



Sweet Potato Cake with Almond Milk Icing
adapted heavily from here

for the cake
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 tbsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ginger
3/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1 (15 oz.) can sweet potato puree OR 2 medium sweet potatoes
1 cup water
1/4 cup vegetable oil (I used canola)
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp vanilla

for the icing
2/3 cup margarine
4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup almond milk
2 tsp vanilla


If you, like me, cannot find sweet potato puree and are using sweet potatoes, chop them up in fairly small pieces, bring some water to boil in a large pot, and let them sit in there until they fall apart effortlessly.

While that is happening, or if you were lucky enough to find a can of puree, mix together in a large bowl the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

When the potatoes are falling apart, beat them into a puree, either by hand or with a mixer (because I was short on time, I used a mixer). Add the wet ingredients to the mix: puree, water, oil, apple cider vinegar, and vanilla. Stir well and divide the batter between two cake pans. I used nine-inch pans, but feel free to use whatever you have, depending on the type of cake you want.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick/knife comes out clean. I allowed my cakes to cool overnight, but they need to be completely cool before you ice them. The original recipe recommends 15 minutes in the pan, then 10 minutes on a wire rack.

For the icing, beat the margarine with a mixer for about 30 seconds, then add in the milk. Feel free to add the vanilla at this point; the recipe calls for 2 teaspoons, but I just eyeballed it. While mixing, slowly add in the powdered sugar. Please note that you might not need all 4 cups of powdered sugar. I only measured out three and barely used all of it. How much you use depends on what consistency you want as well as how sweet you would like the icing to be.

Now for the tricky part: creating the layers. Using a large knife, slice the top off of one of the cakes. This will make the cake more solid and steady, which you will appreciate later, trust me. An illustration:


Once you've done that, spread the icing on the top of the bottom layer. Carefully place the other layer on top, and continue icing. Decorate if you'd like, or serve and enjoy!

8.20.2010

photo friday



I've mentioned my friend Katie in this space before - when I first made scones, I thought of her and her warning from Africa that I would turn into a scone if I didn't stop eating them all the time.

Hopefully she won't mind me saying this too much, but she is also a fantastic artist. (I am lucky enough that many of my friends are. Now if only they'd all stay in one place...) It would be very easy for me to get started talking about art and its importance and the way we tell stories and how necessary they are, but really what I want to do is point you in the direction of the stories we tell each other, Katie's new blog. There really aren't words for how much I love this idea, and how excited I am to see where it goes.

(Speaking of stories, it's only right to mention that it is C.T.'s birthday today. Happy birthday, old man.)

8.10.2010

taking refuge



I've had this window open for almost an hour, not knowing what to say. I am having a rough time of it this summer, and the past few weeks have been non-stop. We have welcomed friends back and sent them away, and though I tattooed a creature of transition on my body, I am tired of the transition. I am tired of starting over. I know I am not done yet.

Meanwhile, I have been taking refuge in comfort food, hearkening back to the boring white food of my youth. I am eating pasta dressed only with olive oil, black pepper, and parmesan. I indulge in vanilla ice cream, with a crumble topping. You can see why I haven't been updating - I can't remember the last time I looked at a recipe or a cookbook.

There are twenty recipes marked unread sitting in my email, though. (What a weird time we live in - it used to be clippings sitting on a counter somewhere, now I've got recipes in emails.) I'm hoping once my emotional life settles down and the weather starts to cool off, I'll be back in the kitchen, creating.

8.06.2010

photo friday plus



Our last Thursday coffee.

Like I said on flickr: there is so much to say that I can't say any of it. You will be missed, friend.