Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Twinkie meets Cupcake, Equal Rights, & Marijke's Farewell Weekend.

Please head over to my new blog at TheUrbanHousewife.com, where you'll find this post & more!

It's rare that I have a weekend that's not planned out in advance, something always seems to have been on calendar for months. When a glance at the calendar showed unfilled boxes, I felt a bit of relief, as well as excitement about the many things that could be done!

It all started Friday, with some cupcake baking for JennShaggy of Veganize It.. Don't Criticize It!. After an ongoing comment battle between our blogs & my interest in her Vegan Twinkies, we decided a trade was in order. Jenn's Vegan Twinkies are available in two locations in Los Angeles & are highly sought after by locals. I can certainly see why! Moist, sticky, sponge cake in the classic canoe shape house a thick, sweet filling, just like you remember, but without all the processing! In fact, these are better than the toxic treats of your youth & they don't contain beef fat!

I opted to make Jenn a trio of cupcakes from the Sugar Beat Sweets menu; Snickerdoodle, which is my best seller & the favorite of my family, Orange Dreamsicle which uses oranges I picked myself, & Classic Vanilla, which I topped with kosher rainbow sprinkles from Kittee! We exchanged treats & sat on my couch talking about vegan baking, the LA vegan scene, & our careers in the entertainment industry. I had a great time & it was awesome to make a new friend. Check out the cupcakes she took home, plus surf her blog for mouthwatering, creative, vegan recipes!

Another Friday night activity was a march for equal rights in San Francisco. As we celebrate the victory of Prop 2, we also mourn the passing of Prop 8 which bans gay marriage & takes away the rights of many. Thousands of people from the Bay Area came to San Francisco to show that we won't accept this unfair & wrong proposition that should not be about religion, but about love & equality for all. Please consider signing one of the many online petitions about this cause because regardless of how you feel about marriage, no one should be discriminated against.

A few months ago, I received an email from Marijke, a vegan au pair from Potsdam, Germany. She had just arrived in San Francisco & was looking to meet other vegans. I invited her to the VBC picnic & we became fast friends, realizing we had a lot in common. From VegFest to the Halloween potluck to going out dancing, we've spent a lot of time together & shared so much fun, I feel I have a friend for life. Sadly, her year long trip has unexpectedly been cut short & she'll be heading back to Germany this week.

In an effort to show her more of what America & the Bay Area has to offer before she departs, we took a road trip down to Santa Cruz on Saturday afternoon. Armed with leftover twinkies & cupcakes, plus chocolate peanut butter bars made for us by Carmen, a group of us piled in the car to escape the rain of San Francisco & see the ocean. We engaged in an afternoon of shopping, followed by dinner at Saturn Cafe & while the rain eventually caught up to us, it didn't stop us from heading to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk for arcade games, photo booth pictures, & dancing in the sand by the ocean. On the way back, we hit my favorite frozen yogurt spot, Fraiche, which is rumored to be opening a San Francisco location soon!

Sunday was a sleepier day. We all slept in, then Ryan & I headed to meet Marijke downtown for some more shopping. After buying every piece of animal print clothing I could find, we walked to the Ferry Building, home of local, artisan food & wine vendors. We snacked on olive rolls & bought a sour batard from Acme Bread & Marijke had soy Cookie Dough gelato from Ciao Bella. On the walk home, we couldn't resist stopping in 7-11 for Slurpees, after all, we were trying to show her an all-American weekend! A call from friends Alex & Kristen resulted in an impromptu dinner at my place, so I threw together spicy yogurt tofu, red & black quinoa, sauteed kale, & garlic bread for everyone. It was a great finish to a weekend I won't soon forget for a person I will never forget! We will miss you, Marijke! I can't wait to come visit you in Germany!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Halloween Treats from Caramel Apples to Cakes!

Please head over to my new blog at TheUrbanHousewife.com, where you'll find this post & more!

As someone who likes to dress up or just dress outrageously, I've always been a fan of Halloween. As a child, I always wanted to be a "punk rocker" or the popular cartoon character of the year, but my mother wouldn't have it. She made every costume I wore, from the time I was Queen Elizabeth to when a refrigerator box was crafted in to a costume to make me a House, complete with a real lawn. (I could not sit down in the house costume, so my mother made me wear another homemade costume underneath!) This year was no exception & my mother produced 3 awesome costumes for myself, Ryan, & Strummer before I had even settled on what we should be. Ryan made a dashing Captain Hook, while I opted for the role of Peter Pan, Strummer was the Crocodile & I even had a lantern with a little Tinkerbelle on it to round out the cast. Strummer was a little less than thrilled by her costume, so I think the total minutes her costume was worn hover around 15.

We decided to host a Halloween potluck at our place, as San Francisco now lacks a celebration in the Castro & we're always happy to fill up on delicious vegan food! I started by making Caramel Apples from an excellent & easy recipe Kittee mentioned from Chow. I opted for three varieties, plain & Chick-O-Stick or Peanut Butter Bar coated. Next I took mini Chick-O-Sticks & Peanut Butter Bars & made candy bars by covering them in chocolate, similar to Butterfingers. I know most people say Chick-O-Stick taste like Butterfinger centers, but I must say the Peanut Butter Bar is far superior, as it lacks coconut. They're both downright delicious though & far too many were consumed!

The assortment of dishes & costumes were excellent! Elmo, a Deviled Egg (not vegan!!), Holly Golightly, a bumble bee, a tree, & even Sarah Palin & President Ahmadinejad were just some of the people in attendance! The treats on the table were great too, such as Pumpkin Whoopie Pies & Uncheese + Crackers from Erin at Vegan Homemade, Mummy dogs, baked beans, my Buffalo Tofu with Blue Sheese dressing, an excellent eggplant dip from Megan at The Sisters Vegan, & a killer Rice, Avocado, Tempeh dish that we all marveled at when it was served in a dome shape! We also snacked on vegan Doritos, chocolate covered pretzels, Candy Cane Joe-Joe's, Sour Patch Kids, Swedish Fish, & Ghost Dots. A filling feast was consumed by all & I feared I wouldn't fit in my costume by the end of the night! Luckily, that didn't happen & instead I just went to bed at 6am, happy that the shindig was a success.

Previous to the party, I made a Halloween themed birthday cake for a friend & awesome gal, Chris. She wanted something to fit in with the spooky theme of her birthday, so we opted for a Chocolate Orange cake, so we would have the Halloween colors in full effect. I topped it with a ganache spiderweb & left it at that, so she could further decorate with candles. It was pretty fun to make & I can see more ganache spiderwebs in my future!

By the way, I will be headed to Lula's Sweet Apothecary in NYC at 9pm on November 15th. If you're in the area, come join me, Ray Ray, & the PPK crew for some serious sweet tooth business!