Wednesday, October 28, 2009

a thousand words

Here I am in grad school. I am still eating. I am still in love with vegetables.

This autumn I specifically fell in love with romanesco broccoli and chanterelle mushrooms, from the farmer's market and self-foraged respectively.

I am working very part time at KBCS, the local community radio station. Every time I turn around, I reel over a new voice. Some of my favorites this year were

Raphael Saadiq,

Pieta Brown,

Zoe Muth and The Lost High Rollers,

Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros.

I go to school every day and talk about oppression and racism and sexism and privilege and politics and poverty and homophobia and able-ism and wealth and equity and love and ethics. It's overwhelming, but a great luxury all the same. Sometimes it feels hard to come up for a breath out of it all. But I promise I'm still eating.

Crostini with roasted garlic and carmelized onion white bean dip,
basil, and cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, and roasted red pepper.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Autumn has officially arrived, but I'm still scrambling to the farmer's markets for the final berries of the season. Though berries should be relished in their naked, sweet beauty, they also go awfully well in baked goods. And because this blog has seemingly defaulted into very occasional showcases for sweets, I give you...fruit...on cupcakes.

I happened upon this, my favorite cupcake, last year in an attempt to perk up some birthday fare with spare blueberries. I arrived at the perfect concoction of spicy gingerbread, creamy vanilla bean frosting, and fresh, bursting blueberries. I can't express how much I love these things. I am a staunch advocate of leaving most of the baking for the blustery winter months when a hot oven is a welcome addition to a chilly apartment. But because fresh fruit is a summertime indulgence, the oven is turned on in reverence for the seasonal window when I can adorn cakes with the perfect garnish.

Cherries are not berries, of course, but they are a fruit which I do my darnedest to fill up on before they've disappeared for another year. These chocolate cherry creme cupcakes were the finale in the four dozen donated to an auction winner for Northwest Network. Dark chocolate cupcakes filled with saucy cherries and vanilla buttercream. Shamefully, I didn't log two batches of cupcakes: I also made another round of Fauxstess cupcakes and followed those with chocolate cupcakes filled with peanut butter buttercream. Auction winners like their chocolate, I suppose.

Needless to say, I've fallen awfully behind in these blogging endeavors. Other things have been keeping my attention.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

cupcakes for a cause, season 2

45 minutes spent cracking hazelnuts.

For the second year, I donated four dozen vegan cupcakes to an auction for the Northwest Network of Bi, Trans, Lesbian, and Gay Survivors of Abuse. Last years cupcakes raised $120. I was just pleased to break a hundred. This year, I busted out the big spoons and, as evidenced above, spent a Saturday morning putting blood and sweat into a damn fine dozen of cupcakes.

Hazelnut Cupcakes with Hazelnut Mocha Mousse,
Ganache, and Toasted Hazelnuts

And it paid off; this years cupcakes brought $175 in the live auction. And apparently, another mysterious baker donated a matching set, although I'm not exactly sure how that worked. At any rate, it's still a screaming deal. Each cupcake comes to just above $3.60, hand delivered with aplomb. The hazelnut troops I baked for the auction were amazing (thanks to the reigning queen of vegandom.) So much so, that I had to make a second batch a week later. And I'd like to think that the flavor bursting from these little bombs was thanks to their made-from-scratch attitude. Not only were the hazelnuts cracked out of their shells instead of poured from a stale plastic bag, but they were toasted and then pulsed into meal for the cake (also, I'm frugal and didn't want to spend 10 dollars on a bag of hazelnut meal of which I needed only a fraction.) So, indeed they were worth every penny that went to the Northwest Network.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

tides turning


I'm in love with food. I could spend hours scrutinizing over the details of a menu. There is nothing I would rather spend my money on. There is nothing that I find so satisfying as feeding my friends and family.

I've felt more interested and involved in my food than ever. But as I'm buying raspberries out of season and spending $30 on a bottle of balsamic vinegar, there is a food crisis going on. While I'm baking a yellow cake, frosting it with vanilla buttercream, and feeding those untimely berries to my friends at a birthday party, others are eating cakes made from dirt and oil in hopes of evading the pangs of starvation while the price of rice skyrockets around the world. At my job, I talk to people who need to know which food banks are open, how to apply for food stamps, or where to go for a hot meal. And even when they can manage to receive public assistance, they can't stretch those food stamps far enough.

Access is everything. And because I have it, I want to help others to get it. I want to bake cakes; I want to plant a garden; I want to buy the freshest vegetables I can get my hands on. I want to stomp on the rules that keep everyone from having this access. Changing public policy around food security issues; changing the face of agriculture to re-harness power for small farmers; providing nutrition outreach to low-income communities where convenience stores are more prevalent than supermarkets with fresh foods.

There is much to be done.

All of this is to say that my relationship to food is evolving. I can't sit still in my own kitchen, my own garden, my own co-op. There is an incredible imbalance going on in the world and I won't feel right if I'm not trying to change that.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

the autumn that was eaten by time

I suppose I owe an update. I started a new job in late August at Seattle's Crisis Clinic. I like my job, especially the folks I work with, but it has me plastered to a computer and telephone most days. As such, I'm not much for coming home and spending my free time in front of a screen. Rest assured, I have been cooking and baking and, yes, I have been eating. The holidays rushed by and we made batches and batches of cookies, cake, and appetizers. Of course, I have no pictures to show, save one. But while I may not have documented just what we made, ate, and gave away, I'd still like to touch on a few events that stood out for me in the last few months of 2007 (naturally, all food related.)

the greatest cookbook of all time

Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero made this world a better place with the unveiling of Veganomicon. It's as if Vegan With a Vengeance and the Better Homes and Garden Cookbook had a beautiful, fuss-free baby. Thus far, I can highly recommend the Caesar Salad with Roasted Garlic Croutons, the Black Bean Burgers (even better after a spell in the freezer--how many recipes can you say that about?!), Roasted Eggplant and Spinach Muffuletta Sandwich, Black Bean Vegetable Soup, Spicy Tempeh and Broccoli Rabe with Rotelle, and the Pumpkin Crumb Cake. Absolutely amazing. So far, I've also given away two copies as gifts. If you knew what was good for you, you'd get yourself this book too.

I don't have pictures because I was too damn busy cooking, but Thanksgiving was, to put it lightly, an event. My parents in their first holiday season as vegans, were slated to cook Thanksgiving Dinner for 35 people. Chris and I were put to work. We were like a well-oiled machine. A very messy, flustered well-oiled machine with 35 guests milling around us while we put the finishing touches on a huge feast. It wasn't, unfortunately, entirely vegan or even vegetarian. There was a turkey or two and a few potluck dishes here and there that made their way to the buffet. Some of my aunts and uncles pitched in with herbivore dishes, but mostly we banged out a pretty, pretty, pretty good selection of dishes: 2 sorts of stuffing--one with Gimme Lean and the usual mix of veggies, one with herbed croutons, dried cranberries, dried blueberries and pistachios, pumpkin seed crusted tempeh, fresh cranberry relish, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy, homemade rolls, green bean casserole, cheesecake with raspberry sauce, pumpkin pie with candied pecans, and peanut butter silk pie. And probably some other things that I'm forgetting. It was a helluva lot of food and people. But by now, feeding a crowd is second nature to us (almost.)

The day after Thanksgiving, my grandma, Corriene, turned 85. She is partially responsible for the onslaught of relatives that my holidays become--she has six children and countless grandchildren (and, for that matter, 12 stepchildren and more countless grandchildren.) She is an incredible lady whom I've mentioned once or twice before. She raised lots of kids, fed them well, made their clothing, and taught them to be stand-up people. But that's what you can expect from my grandmother.

Here's my dad blowing out the candles on a cake that my grandma undoubtedly made for his birthday. Like most large families, food was always a focal point at gatherings. Her 85th was no disappointment; we converged after having eaten our guts out the day before and rose to the challenge of doing it one more time, just for grandma. My dad put together a slide show of old pictures (like the one above) and it ran in the background while everyone ate, drank, and sat a little too close together.

Here are her first five children all lined up for a holiday snapshot. I didn't make it home for Christmas this year, spending it instead with the in-laws. A small, quiet day for the most part--a nice change of pace from dozens of relatives, though I did miss being at home with my folks. Chris and I, as is the norm, baked up a crazy mess of treats to shuttle around to our friends, mail to other states, and take piles in to our respective jobs. We made chocolate chip cookies, pistachio baklava, soft molasses cookies, oatmeal jam thumbprints, fig bars, and sugar cookies. We ate more than our share of sweets and still had leftovers!

You may be thinking this is all heresy. Flimsy claims to have made all this food with no photos to back them up. Well, then. I was able to snap a photo of a dessert made for some lovely friends' "Boozy After-Holiday Extravaganza." We were subjected to lots of delicious vegan desserts, lots of, you guessed it, booze, and lots of friends. It was a fine evening. My contribution was a tiramisu, procured from the pages of the Candle Cafe cookbook and tweaked to suit my own tastes.

Layers of sponge cake drenched in coffee and rum, vegan mascarpone, cocoa powder and chocolate curls for good measure. And it sat perfectly on a lovely tray that was a gift from my bestest gal.

Now, don't expect much from this small gesture of a post--moving apartments is in the works for the next few days and being in transit doesn't make for very elaborate dinners or desserts. We'll only be moving a few blocks away and one of the most exciting bits of our new apartment: a full-size oven. Take that, tiny little stove! Unfortunately, this will be my first apartment without a bit of space on a deck where I can grow some greenery. In homage to my garden and in commemoration of the oncoming shorter days and (bit by bit) warmer weather, I'll give you one more photo of my last little heirloom tomatoes (two of just a few that made it out alive) from this summer.

(For a couple 2007 recaps that are a little more thought out than the previous, see Democracy Now! and Feministing. Happy 2008!)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

the baby of cakes

Clearly this blog has fallen by the wayside. I've a new job that's keeping me busy and our oven is not working which has put us on baking hiatus. But one event that did happen this month ,which I was able to bang out a cake for, was my niece's first birthday.

It's not often that I have an excuse to make a giant cake. (This was the equivalent of 48 cupcakes.) Four layers of vanilla cake, vanilla buttercream, blackberry preserves, and colored sprinkles! An abundance of pink, yes. Aside from upholding gender paradigms (gotta start em early, right?), I wanted to make the quintessential big birthday cake. And in the cartoons, they're always white with pink frosting. They're also usually two or three tiers, but I didn't figure a one-year old needed that much cake.

Especially since she was really only interested in the frosting.

Monday, September 10, 2007

looking for something

In beginning to document my food, I've learned I do things in seasons. When it is cold, wet, blustery outside, I make the indoors cozy with the scent of cookies or soup. I can spend an evening on a cake or cooking food for a party. I'll labor in the kitchen because there is no other place I'd rather be. That is, unless the sun is shining and my time is open and my head is aching from the city. Then I'll take green green green as far as the eye can see. I will point to this weekend as a perfect example. Best friends with their backpacks stuffed into a small car driving into the woods is better than pie. Hiking miles into the wilderness on a dusty trail is better than cupcakes. And just about anything you can cook on a whisperlite stove tastes better by the campfire.

Red Onion, Green Pepper, Avocado, & Tomato

I'll take the woods over concrete buildings any day you ask. And if I'm living in the woods (even just for a night) out of the back of a car, I won't complain. Backpacking, though, has a special charm. It makes one feel resourceful and tough. You have to think more, make lists, pack sparingly because you must carry it all on your back, on your own two legs. This is true especially of the food you take. Whereas packing in a car, you can add bags of chips, boxes of cookies, and bottles (and bottles) of wine, the food you take in your backpack must be more closely calculated. On this trip, a one-night stay near Greenwater, Washington, on the Pacific Crest Trail, we took a small supply of trail mix, Primal Strips, apples, crackers, hummus, and the fixings for burritos.

We "roasted" a green pepper and red onion. In this, I mean we laid them on the rocks around our campfire until we could stand our growling stomachs no longer. They were just beginning to blacken at the edges. We warmed our tortillas in a similar fashion and boiled water to add to instant black beans. With a small can of salsa to round out the burritos, it was some of the best damn camping food I've had. Everyone ate their fill and it was a perfect meal to top off a three-mile hike.

Just because we were backpacking, does not mean we should go without a sweet trifle after dinner. One chocolate bar split four ways and a few sips of coffee went well with the trance of flames.

Cream & Peebs, sans backpacks

The next day, after eating the last bits of our food and packing our bags, we trekked the three miles back to the car and drove East for some sightseeing. We hiked a few more trails in search of a view of the mountain and, though it felt especially nice to walk without thirty pound packs, our short jaunt yielded little, but more trees and a beautiful blue sky. So back in the car and, after a minute or so of driving, we hit the jackpot:

Mt. Rainier

We couldn't have asked for better weather and it was all around a perfect trip. After the first full week at a brand new job that can, at times, make my head spin, this was a badly needed detour from Seattle. And hopefully illustrates to you an agreeable alternative to things like baking and blogging.