I have so much to tell you! I’ve been completely consumed with crafting for holiday presents. I’m attempting to wrap all my gifts in reusable gift bags this year. That means that even for the gifts I’m not making, there’s still a bit of work put in to each one. The worst part is, I can’t even show off the gifts I’ve made yet in case any of the recipients read this blog. Don’t worry though, I’ll have some recaps after the holidays with some reviews and such.
Besides the hours devoted to sewing and the like, I do have some exciting news. Cupcakes from Vegan Bake Sale are now available at Meet Market in Silverlake. I just delivered the first order of Cookies & Cream, Peanut Butter and Pumpkin Spice cupcakes. Go get some! It will probably be your last chance before the holidays.
This year is going to be my cats’ first Christmas living with us. They’re loving all the boxes they get to play with (and a few catnip treats). It’s like cardboard box heaven for them. We adopted Meeme and Mochi on January 3rd of this year and they make me happy every single day. Seriously. I love them so much. Part of the reason I want to bring this up is that LA animal services is offering 50% off adoption fees for the holidays. Not that the fees are even very high to begin with, but it’s just that much more incentive to open your home and heart to one of these animals in need. If you’re considering getting an animal this year, I urge you to turn to the public animal shelters as these are usually the animals at highest risk of being put down. Not to mention they make it extremely easy for you to adopt.
Oh there’s so much more to say, but it will have to wait a little while still. Till then…
Up until last year, when I was fortunately invited to meet up with some Los Angeles vegan bloggers, I had never been to a potluck besides some family holiday affairs. Recently though, it seems like every weekend I’m trying to make something to bring to an event. The most amazing part is that most of these have been vegan potlucks which is extra awesome because you get to try a bunch of treats made by other vegans.
There is always the dilemma of what to bring. Ideally one should bring actual food to a potluck so that everyone can eat. It’s no fun to show up when there is only various flavors of chips and dip. A few weeks ago I attended the BBQ/potluck after Feel My Legs, I’m a Racer, a bike race up the ten steepest hills in Los Angeles. I did not race up any of the hills, instead I biked a macaroni and chreese with broccoli casserole in my basket across town. I managed to arrive right on time, coming right around a corner to meet Shawn just as him and the other racers finished. Everyone was super hungry and most everything was devoured including veggie hot dogs, homemade seitan, vegan corn dogs and pasta salad.
Just the next day I got to attend another BBQ at a friends house. When I asked what to bring, I got the go ahead to bring dessert and was quite excited because there are few things I like more than baking cupcakes. I decided to try out a new recipe for spiced tea cupcakes. Since I wasn’t sure how many people would be there I went ahead and made mini versions. The spiced tea cakes were sweet and simple, a subtle black tea flavor with a bit of a kick. Even though it was an omni BBQ, our hosts made us an awesome vegetarian chili with extra beer, veggie dogs and grilled corn (with earth balance!). There was also homemade sangria to be enjoyed. Delicious!
We were also lucky enough to visit the new home of Sunny of Vegan Beauty Review and her husband along with some other vegan friends. We chowed down on vegan mushroom pate made by George from Sante la Brea and fried faux shrimps from Garden Wok brought by Lex and Kristen of Vegan LA. Vegyogini from Hugger Food made some tasty vegan cadbury cream eggs and Foodeater from To Live and Eat in LA brought a ton of adorable, colorful mochis (which I gobbled up quite a few of). I made cupcakes (again!) this time going for a simple strawberry shortcake cupcake. You can’t see the surprise filling of fresh strawberries hiding under the extra fluffy frosting. Unfortunately I was so full of other food I didn’t even get to try one of these, but Shawn assures me they were delicious and in fact still hold the place of his favorite cupcakes.
On a non-food related note, something I’ve been meaning to show off for a bit is the wall scratcher I made for my cats. When I first got Meeme and Mochi I was enthralled by all the modern looking cat furniture that was nothing like the carpet covered trees I’ve always seen. On the other hand, I was not excited at all about the prices. I decided to take matters into my own hands and make my own version of a wall scratcher. I ordered a piece of lovely orange carpet and obtained a leftover piece of wood shelving from a construction site, glued it together with some industrial adhesive and voila! While my custom piece cost less than $25 all together, the much smaller version it was based on cost double that. Most importantly though, Meeme and Mochi love streching out and scatching it so I have deemed it a complete success.
Let me start off by saying that I don’t like onions. I understand that they provide a good deal of flavor to certain dishes but if given the option, I would more often than not go without them. I really wanted to make a savory pie though and even though this was nothing like the recipe I envisioned, I came across this recipe and decided to try it.
The end result was delicious. It was something like eating sweet onions on a cheezy biscuit crust. I even had seconds. It’s not necessarily something you would want to have for dinner all the time and could probably have used some greens to go along with it but was insanely good. Check out the recipe below.
Recipe adapted from How to be a Domestic Goddess.
2 very large yellow onions
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp Earth Balance
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 oz soy cheddar cheeze, finely shredded
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp egg replacer
2 Tbsp water
1/2 cup soy milk including 1 tsp apple cider vinegar, left to curdle
1 tsp dijon mustard
3 Tbsp Earth Balance, melted
1/2 cup soy cheddar cheeze, finely shredded
For topping: Cut onions into large pieces. Heat olive oil and Earth Balance over medium heat. Add onions and saute for about 30 minutes, covered and stirring occasionally. When the onions being to soften, add the salt, pepper and thyme. Continue to cook until the onions are quite soft and browned on the edges.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9″ pie dish with Earth Balance.
Put the onions into the pie dish, sprinkle with soy cheeze and set aside.
For the crust: Mix the soy cheese, flour, baking powder, nutritional yeast and salt in a bowl. In a separate dish, beat the egg replacer and water together until frothy. Combine the soymilk/vinegar mixture, egg replacer, melted Earth Balance and mustard. Pour into the dry ingredients and stir. The dough will be fairly sticky. Remove from the bowl and stretch out as if you were making a pizza crust about the size of the pie, being careful not to tear holes in it. Lay on top of onions in pie dish and seal edges.
Bake for 15 mins then turn down heat to 350 degrees and bake for another 10 mins or until the crust is golden brown. Let sit for a few minutes after removing from oven then place a large plate on top and flip the pie upside down. Slice and enjoy!
And on to the cats…When I decided to adopt cats, one of the big concerns in our household was what to feed them. Being vegan, it didn’t seem right to feed them non-vegan food, but being that they are naturally carnivores, it was important to give them proper nutrition. So far their diet is a bit of an experiment and a combination of vegan and non-vegan cat foods.
The vegan option that seemed the most promising was some supplements made by Hoana that you make into your own cat food. It comes with a bunch of recipes from kibble to rice and tofu mix. I went with the recipe for seitan as seen below.
It may not be the prettiest meal, but isn’t that far from something that I would eat myself. I made some very simple seitan, by just boiling some chunks of vital wheat gluten mixed with nutritional yeast in water with a bit of soy sauce for an hour. If I had a vegetable stock without onions or garlic in it I would have probably used that. In the future, if I have more time, it would be possible to make the stock and would make the seitan itself more flavorful.
I tore up about 3 cups of the seitan into even smaller pieces and mixed them a sauce made of 4 tsp VegeKit, 1/3 cup nutritional yeast, 1 Tbsp olive oil and a bit of soy sauce.
The verdict? They really like the stuff! I was surprised after hearing quite a few people say their cats wouldn’t eat vegan cat food. I can understand where this general misconception would come from since a lot of people wouldn’t take the time to make food for their cats. For example, they really don’t like the canned vegan cat food I ordered and won’t eat it unless it’s mixed with something they do like.
Since the seitan chunks are a bit more chewy than just plain cat food, Mochi (the grey one) has taken to batting them around on the floor while she eats. Personally I’m fine with this. If a cat were going to eat a live mouse, they would probably play with their food just the same. Meeme on the other hand likes to lick most of the ‘sauce’ off the seitan before she eats it. Every time I have fed them this, it is all gone by the morning. I’ll definitely have to try some of the other recipes but this is a total success.
I know it’s a new year (first post of 2009 in fact) but I still have a few things left to share from 2008. For the holidays I tried to create as many gifts as possible instead of buying them. I made a handful of stuffed animals, knit projects and of course holiday cookies. While I started all of these ambitious tasks well in advance, there’s only so early that you can bake cookies without delivering them stale to their recipients. I had decided on snowflake sugar cookies and had even acquired some edible glitter to decorate them. Unfortunately, this cookie baking session was doomed from the start. I burnt whole batches and had other mishaps including dropping an entire sheet on the floor while burning my hand. In the end, the beautiful glittered and iced cookies I had imagined did not come into fruition. I’m pretty sure the end product still tasted good though, even if it wasn’t as pretty as I would have liked.
Immediately following the new year was Shawn’s birthday. To celebrate he got the dessert of his choice, which ended up being peanut butter cup cupcakes. I think my favorite thing about these guys is getting to say “cup cup.” Ha! As you can see, they’re chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter filling/frosting and peanut butter cups on top. They turned out super good. I think next time I will have to try a different way of frosting them so that they can have an entire peanut butter cup on top (and not look ridiculous). Also, I’d love to make the peanut butter frosting a bit more fluffy. It’s a great consistency for the filling but a little dense on top.
Meeme and Mochi
Also, we got two new additions to our home. We adopted two 4 month old kittens from the shelter. They’re adorable, loving and playful and I couldn’t be happier with them. Despite not looking alike, they’re actually sisters. I’m sure they will be making some appearances on this blog in the future. In fact, little Mochi is desperately trying to help me write this by walking all over the keyboard.