Thursday, October 30, 2008


The spookiness of this armature is appropriate considering tomorrow's holiday, but in my vision these are eventually (like, next week) going to be pretty little papier-mache statues, not zombie-mummies. By the way, has anyone out there ever used Celluclay? It's an instant papier-mache powder I tried last night, and made a huge mess out of. I think I mixed it wrong (too much water). I might stick with strips of paper (torn out of the phone book! those tissue-thin pages are great for papier-mache!) applied with a glue-and-water mixture. A little kindergarten-y, but who cares? That shit works like a charm!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Two October birthday cakes

Ben made a delicious triple-layer chocolate cake with fluffy
caramel frosting for my birthday...

...and I made a vanilla cake with cherry filling and vanilla buttercream for Ben's birthday a few days later. Looks a little messy, but tastes goooood.

And that's the end of birthday news, except that I got a Wacom tablet from Birthday Santa (i. e. my parents-in-law)!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Vegan cabbage rolls are just
nice this time of year

Autumn in the upper Midwest calls for the cooking of certain cool-weather dinners. Last night, it was stuffed cabbage (the cutest part of which is when you cover the cabbage rolls with the tough outer leaves instead of foil for baking*). One day last week, it was a nice pot pie.

I'm not posting a veganized recipe for the stuffed cabbage, 'cause all you've gotta do, peeps, is find a conventional recipe and replace the ground beef with some vegan crumbles, or break up a few Boca Burgers. And if the recipe calls for egg for some reason, don't do it! Thassit! As for what to serve on the side, some old-skool enthusiasts of the cabbage roll call for applesauce, but Ben and I went with mashed potatoes. What do you like with your cabbage rolls?

Below: the pot pie. Looks nicer than last time, right?

* Don't eat those outer leaves, though. They're just there to keep the moisture from escaping from your little hand-rolled cabbage parcels during a torrid hour in your 350-degree oven.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

"Acute" snack

Well, they are cute! For take-to-work (or take-to-school) lunchies lately, I've been making little edible packages out of phyllo and whatever filling we've got on hand that seems like it wouldn't be gross to eat cold or at room-temperature. I think the above triangle parcels were filled with leftover roasted vegetables, but it's kind of hard to remember. I've also done curried sweet potato filling recently. Little box-shaped (well, roughly box-shaped) packages fit nicely into the square Bento compartment, but the triangular ones are more handsome and more fun to make.

Just cut up the phyllo, plop some filling onto each piece, fold it how you want it, and bake on a cookie sheet for five or ten minutes at 325 degrees or so.

These are also tremendous filled with apples and cinnamon and brown sugar (cook the filling first to soften the apples, as you would with apple pie filling--which is what this is, really), but we are usually in greater need of satisfying lunchtime savories than of sweets. I mean, we've always got sweets.

P. S. Today I spent the morning making Ben's birfday cake, a magical three-layer thing with vegan buttercream and cherry preserves slathered between layers. I frosted it with a fluffy vegan frosting similar to the ones in VCTOTW, although I don't have a copy of that book (I just remember they call for vegan shortening, which is a good idea). I think Ben's gonna like it, I'm just sayin'. I actually lost the recipe to the really great-tasting (but structurally unsound--it collapsed!) cake I made for him last year, so I just winged it this year. All I knew for sure is that I would put Sour Supreme in the batter, because that is the secret to truly moist and fancy and out-of-this world vegan layer cakes.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Garden goodbye

I felt a little like God creating Adam when I finally beheld these short, fat carrots from the garden. I'd never grown root vegetables before, and there's just something heartening in the discovery that it can be done in the backyard. So when the U.S. and global economies collapse and we're all living like animals in the street, we'll be able to grow some potatoes or something.

We still have a few carrots in the ground that we'll pick this weekend. Ben and I haven't pulled our scallions yet, either, and I'm pretty psyched about seeing how those turned out (and cooking them in some soup).

Known for its tendency to appear in enormous bumper crops, zucchini is something Ben and I planted with high hopes. Years past, we've had more zucchini and yellow squash than we knew what to do with (almost--we actually do know what to do with it, and that's make cake!). But, somehow, we only got three zucchini this season. Three! They tasted great sautéed with a little sea salt and olive oil, but left us hungry for more.

Autumn is here, but hopefully that won't mean the absolute end of gardening until next spring. I'm not talking about indoor herb gardening (although we do have a pretty sweet basil plant rockin' the kitchen counter these days), I'm talking about planting garlic in the backyard! I've never tried to grow garlic, but I'm given to understand that it flourishes in the Minnesota climate. You plant the cloves in October and get garlic bulbs in July--quite a time investment, but eight of those months involve nothing but sitting indoors and knitting. Wish me luck.

Below: not exactly an excess yield:

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Always bento

Just because it's a cute, Japanese-style lunchbox doesn't mean you can't put a sandwich in there. Above: eggplant-couscous salad, orange slices, lemon bar with shortbread crust, and a tofurkey and spinach sandwich on homemade bread (I just make little rectangular buns to fit in the compartment). Incidentally,
Candy Penny
and I bought our bento boxes around the same time, and I enjoy seeing what she's putting in hers. Check out that black quinoa! And by the way, you know about this vegan bento site, right? I wouldn't be toting a cute, satisfying, practically-waste-free lunch every day if it weren't for Jennifer's blog.

On an unrelated note, I'm exhausted by school and work. And although Ben and I try to keep ourselves and our home clean and civilized, last night we saw a mouse in the living room (guess it wanted to watch the debate) and mold under the kitchen sink. Gross.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Vegan lemon bars!

A jiggly lemon bar is something I had not eaten for a long time, until I made the recipe from Veganomicon last night. They're good! I think mine turned out super-firm because I allowed the filling to cool (and then I had to reheat it) before pouring it into the crust. I didn't realize the filling was going to be so quick to prepare, or I would have waited until the crust was already fully baked and cooled. Still, the bars are good. And the shortbread crust is just charming. And buttery. Mmm.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Palin's big recital

Did you see the glazed-over expression on Sarah Palin's face last night? The expression one wears when reciting something long and fatiguing one has learned by heart? (The Preamble to the Constitution, for example, which I had to recite in high school--or the entirety of "The Raven," which was a little more fun.) She's like a pull-my-string Chatty Cathy doll, except Chatty Cathy was able to retrieve several more phrases than Palin seems to be able to.

I don't think memorizing the answers and then reciting them, unable to deviate from the script, is "straight talk." It's not even really talk; it's a recital. Personally, I would have rather seen her sit down at the piano and bang out a clunky rendition of the Minuet in G Major.

Her plasticity, the colloquialisms ("you betcha!" and "doggone it" and "hecka" are the ones that make my brain explode a little), her total lack of adequacy, and, you know, all the fkg lies are what really get me about Sarah Palin. And, as my friend Tiffany begs, do we really want a VP who has to cram before a debate like it's a Poli Sci exam?

P.S. The photo above makes me laugh really hard (through my fury). I think the best part is how McCain is grinning and pointing like an asshole at somebody out of frame. I'm so glad they didn't Photoshop him out.