Wednesday, March 28, 2012

spring celebration dinner

Monday evening, my friend Carol brought me to help greet the guests of the American Vegan Society's four-course Spring Celebration Dinner prepared and served by the students of the Academy of Culinary Arts at Atlantic Cape Community College in Mays Landing, NJ.

~First Course~
Tomato Tartare
Green Mango Relish, Macadamia Milk

~Second Course~
Pineapple-Cucumber Gazpacho
Jalapeno, Green Onion, Cilantro

~Third Course~
Arugula Salad
Shaved Pear, Spiced Pumpkin Seeds, Meyer Lemon Dressing

~Fourth Course~
Eggplant Torte
Roasted Vegetable Ratatouille, Flagolet-Sage Sauce

Chocolate Ganache Cake
Caramel Rum Sauce, Coconut Sorbet

Everything was fantastic! We were all impressed with each course, though some couldn't handle the spiciness of the gazpacho (which I enjoyed but paid for later!)

The next vegan dinner hosted by the Academy of Culinary Arts at Atlantic Cape Community College will be held in the fall. Visit the American Vegan Society website to receive their newsletter and stay updated on upcoming events.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

miss rachel's pantry

boy have i been spoiled! i've attended not one but two vegan feasts! first let me tell you about the pop-up cafe with miss rachel's pantry on sunday. the theme was moroccan and the food so homey and flavorful. check out this menu!

Coriander spiced seitan kebobs with apricot glaze

Baked eggplant steaks with kale and lentil stuffing (GF)

Moroccan carrot salad with raisins, garlic and cilantro (GF)

Chickpea and potato tanjine with pickled lemon (GF)

Israeli couscous with parsley and mint

Jasmine rice with saffron (GF)

Agave and cinnamon oranges with mint (GF)

everything was so delicious, we all cleared our plates - twice! i'd especially like to recreate her lentil stuffed eggplant and carrot salad. miss rachel adds dates to her carrot salad. yum yum!

(isn't this tea kettle so pretty? is that how they got the term "tea light candle"?)

not only will miss rachel's pantry bring her pop-up cafe to your home or event, she offers weekly lunch club deliveries on wednesdays in philadelphia east and west of broad street, at temple university and university city.

miss rachel was a lovely, gentle hostess. she and i interacted throughout the get-together and she was just so sweet that i wanted to know more about her and introduce her to you all. so here's miss rachel and a q&a she and i did via email.

miss rachel

1) how long have you been whipping up vegan food? can you tell us a little about how miss rachel's pantry began? 

Miss Rachel's Pantry began at the end of 2007. It spurred from a love of cooking and a lack of vegetarian and vegan options in the city. (Back then, I did vegan and vegetarian cooking, but when I became vegan, so did the company.) I started by cooking for people in their homes and also selling snacks and sandwiches at punk shows. 

2) can you tell us more about the "pop-in cafe"?

Sure! We're opening a space in about a month for both catering and in-house events. We'll have a long farmhouse style table with seating for up to 14. You can reserve the table for the evening and your guests will enjoy a multi-course dinner. And a few nights a month, we'll offer a reservation-only tasting menu that's open to the public. 

3) if you could describe your food in two words, what would they be? 

Hearty and homestyle

4) do you have other passions besides vegan cooking? 

I'm a cat lady!

5) if you could eat only three foods for the rest of you life, what would they be? 

Mangoes, spaghetti and tacos (hard shell) 

miss rachel's pantry gets two paws up!=)

visit miss rachel on the web here

cat photo source.

coming soon: american vegan society spring celebration dinner photos

(ps - i'm thinking of fostering kittens! eeee!=)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

sheepy heads

the pattern for these sweet sleepy sheep is free and can be found at harugurumi. amigurumi is the japanese art of crocheting small animals or toys. it's not as difficult as it may look, once you learn the crochet basics. there are many online tutorials and books to guide you.

the original pattern made a pretty large doll - almost 14 inches. to make the smaller 11 inch sheep i used crochet hooks H for the white and G for the grey.

the weather is making me a sleepy head. our temperatures are back to normal for march and it's been rainy. today i'm headed to a buffet-style, moroccan-themed vegan pop-up cafe hosted by miss rachel's pantry, and i plan to stuff my face take lots of pics to share with you. happy sunday!

Friday, March 23, 2012

raw hemp burger with mashed avocado over garden greens

it had been way too long since i last made carmella's hemp veggie burgers. though they're lacking some ingredients (celery and onion), they still turned out great.

with some greens from the garden (kale, spinach and arugula), i threw together a salad with lemon, olive oil, maple syrup, salt and pepper. an avocado was mashed with garlic, pepper and lemon.

since the burgers were made ahead of time, this dish took only minutes to prepare. my kind of meal! (thank you to my mom for the perfectly ripe avocados!=)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

keepsake box

it's been almost three months and we miss our precious madji, though it hurts less.

i didn't know what to do with her favorite toys so i created a keepsake box to store them in. my mom did something similar for us when we were kids and our sweet dog sparky was hit by a car.

creating this box really helped me through the grieving process. this may sound strange but john and i were upset when we no longer saw her hair around. i collected some from her brush and put it in the box. the box also holds her pictures and a few sympathy cards some kind souls sent us.

the silver plaque, paper and letter m were from my scrap-booking days. the box held a trader joe's christmas cookie gift (i made this soon after she passed on christmas eve). it's wrapped in rosin paper (saved from when we put hardwood floors in). the black design piece was from a pretty invitation john's sister sent us.

the box is stored in my desk, just a foot or two away from where she used to lay all day. physically she may gone, but she's still very much alive in our memory and in our hearts. *tear*=)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

chocolate and vanilla kale chips

in my mind i've been calling these his and her kale chips, because he (john) loves chocolate...

and she (me) prefers vanilla.

the sweet kale chips were inspired by jess of cupcakes and kale. with kale chips i don't usually follow measurements - i find it easier to taste as i go. for the chocolate kale i used the same ingredients as jess, subbing vanilla water and adding a bit of maple syrup. with the vanilla chips i used a few tablespoons coconut oil, coconut flakes, chia seeds, agave nectar, a pinch of salt, vanilla water, and the insides of one vanilla bean, which were purchased fairly cheap in bulk here.

after massaging everything really well into my garden kale, i placed the coated pieces onto teflex sheets and dehydrated at 115 degrees overnight. the outcome was a sweet little snack packed with green nutrition that even he (who doesn't care much for kale) can enjoy.=)

Monday, March 19, 2012

flowers and garden pests

today was another beautiful one - 74 degrees and sunny. i rode my bike to the community garden and picked a bunch of kale to make chips. for those of you still waiting for spring, i thought i'd snap some flower shots.

i also took a picture of the harlequin beetles that have invaded our broccoli plants. these suckers will drain the life out of our plants and i don't know what to do about them. i tried killing one and couldn't do it. it fell on its back, kicked its legs and looked so frightened that i flipped him back over and let him go. maybe i'm not cut out for this gardening stuff after all.

to end on a positive note, i've spotted some spinach and pea sprouts in the home garden. aster and teeny tiny poppy plants are coming up on the window sill, and no one has gotten under the wire cages to eat the poppy seeds outside (knock on wood).

Sunday, March 18, 2012

weekend gardening

this weekend felt more like may than march, and i got a whole lot of planting done. last year i called my local master gardeners and they said may 15th was my area's average last frost date. i listened to them, but felt like i could have planted many seeds much earlier. farmer's almanac lists april 6th as our average last frost date. i'm meeting somewhere in the middle with april 20th.

we have to cover many of our seeds or else the squirrels and birds will feast on them (even though i feed them bird seed). something was digging in the beds last night despite all the chicken wire cages. with some saved mesh from produce packaging, i covered the spinach cages. last year the birds pecked through the chicken wire and ate the sprouts! hopefully the mesh keeps them safe.

being a lazy gardener, i only cleaned up the area to be planted now in the 6x6 bed above. those two kale plants from last season are also still producing. i foresee lots of kale chips in our future...

the hyacinths are blooming a month sooner than last year, though they're not as full or fragrant.

below is our 40+ garlic plants at the community garden. next to the garlic are some broccoli plants and at the end of the bed some kale and collard still thriving from last fall. this week i'll be pulling the greens and planting more poppies, kale, arugula, escarole, cabbage, collard, and fennel seeds.

spring is here in full force. i love these pink blossoms - they remind me of walking home from the bus stop when i was a kid. i believe they're magnolias, but i'm not positive.

two of my african daisy seeds have sprouted, after just three days! the next time i post i hope to have some pea sprouts to show you! 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

flower pots w/ granny square coasters and first garden meal

the dollar store had mini clay pots three for a dollar. they're the perfect size for windowsills, and they would also make cute gifts or party favors. i learned the hard way that labels will not stick to clay, even if you wrap them with yarn. eventually the water seeps through and the ink bleeds.

the granny square blanket project is still on hold. i've tried to make a handbag, and that didn't turn out the way i expected either, but i was able to reuse the squares to make flower pot coasters.

these will protect the sill from water and probably get bleached by the sun and dirty in the process. i'm ok with that because i love the color they add to the bedroom now.

i'm also happy to have finished a crochet project, and the best part of it all hasn't even grown yet!

this window faces south and gets plenty of sun. my fingers are crossed that all twelve varieties of flowers flourish. it is my dream to have a lush garden full of blossoms. it's looking pretty bare now.

with the kale you see in the big plot i made a quick salad topped with a pansy from the small box.

my first garden meal of 2012, simple but sweet!=)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

garden mish-mash

today was garden clean-up/pea-planting day. the weather was 74 degrees and be-yoo-tiful. the little lilac cutting my mom gave me last year is producing pretty buds. i wonder how many years until it's a nice-sized bush? 'til then i'll enjoy it in its baby stage.=)

day three and the peas have tails. over 50 pea seeds were planted along with sweet pea flowers.

these pansies were an unexpected splurge on a quick trip to the produce outet. the fact that pansies are edible was my justification.=)

there were still carrots in the ground from last summer and fall. some of them were HUGE!

carl the carrot

this is where the face is placed when it's not in use, watching us as we do the dishes.=)

the kale put out bunches of the best-tasting leaves. they were on the small side and almost sweet in flavor! i've been told kale is best after a blast of cold weather.

this cabbage looks pretty but i pulled it to plant pansies. the ends of the leaves look dry and not very appetizing. am i being too picky?

the echinacea's back! this will be its third year. must plant more perennials!

today i went back to the dollar store and bought five more seed packets (one perennial!). i've turned it into a pretty little project that i'll post soon!

now if you'll excuse me, i need to take a shower. i steenk!=)
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