Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

I always wish that I could show how absolutely adorable my students are and then I realized this is the perfect opportunity because they are all in disguise!  Their cute costumes plus some selective phone photos makes it so I finally can share the adorableness that I get to be around each day!  

I went to work as Frida Kahlo, which connected the students to our current Art Curriculum as well as our study of Mexico and Dia de los Muertos.  I didn't go full unibrow, I guess because I am a wuss, but they still got it!  I wore a beautiful vintage dress that I picked up at Elsie's shop in Missouri, Red Velvet

The dress is absolutely amazing and I was so happy to have an occasion to wear it.  I also picture myself wearing it by a bonfire heating up vegan s'mores.  SOON!

Me as Frida
Michael Jackson
Captain America
Alvin the Chipmunk
Wonder Woman (cutting symmetrical shapes)
And one of my favorites, Raphael.  How fun it was to tell him that the Ninja Turtles are named after famous artists!  Also, I kept trying not to crack up as I was teaching and looking at a turtle mask.  He never broke character!  

Hope that you have a lovely Halloween as well!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Vegan Hazelnut and Banana Crepes


I set out the other week to make my own hazelnut spread and vegan crepes and I had this idea that they would come out perfect and amazing from the get go.  It's call envisioning and it ALMOST worked.  My idea was to make a completely unprocessed crepe, and I will still be working on that...but for now I give you a vegan crepe using Earth Balance.  I will let you know when I get it down without any processed ingredients!   

Some things I learned while experimenting: I found that if I heated first batch of crepes (made without earth balance) in the oven, I was able to get a weird crispy like desert but it certainly didn't taste the way I want my crepes to taste.  I realized that maybe next time I will try to let my crepes sit in the cold for a bit longer and set-up before busting them onto the pan and trying to make crepes with them.  This MAY be a solution, we will see! 

Here is my finalized recipe.  You have to be a little patient and plan ahead of time because the spread tastes a little while to make, but it is so worth it.  If you really love hazelnut spread, double the will keep in the refrigerator for about a month!

Vegan Crepe Ingredients:  (recipe from VeganYumYum)

1/2 cup soymilk (check your soymilk ingredients, Edensoy has one that is just soybeans and filtered water, if I am not making my own soymilk, this is the one I live by). 
2/3 cup water
1/4 cup earth balance (try to find the least evil ingredient list)
1 cup flour 
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbs sugar in the raw
2 tsp vanilla
2 tbs water to thin if needed

Place all of the ingredients into a blender or a bowl and blend or whisk until smooth.  Transfer to a 2 cup measuring cup (for pouring) and refrigerate for 30 minutes before using.  

Hazelnut Spread Ingredients: 

2 cups whole raw hazelnuts
1 cup powered sugar (you will need to make this by pulverizing raw sugar in a food processor until it turns into powder: easy peasy). 
1/4 cup cocoa powder 
1/4 cup nut oil or evoo
1/2 tsp pure vanilla 

Prework: Make the powdered sugar by pulverizing raw sugar in your food processor, you may need a little more than a cup but start with a cup and add more as you need.  I usually make a bunch of this and store it in the pantry.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Place hazelnuts on a baking pan and toast for about 15-20 minutes until the skins turn black and look papery. At about 10 minutes, be sure to shake the tray to ensure that all areas of the nuts are being toasted equally.

3. Place the hazelnuts in a cool kitchen towel and using oven mitts hold the towel and rub the nuts until most of the skin comes off.  If you do not wear mitts, this will trust me, wear mitts.  Some of the skins may remain, don't drive yourself crazy over this, just try to get most off as the skins will make your hazelnut spread bitter.

4. Process the roasted nuts in a food processor or Vitamix for about 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides as you go.  It is going to look like the nuts are attacking your blade and forming a union, keep spinning those blades, after a while the hazelnuts will give in and disperse, turning from a solid mass of hazelnut protestors into a creamy butter.

5.  Once the nuts are smooth and creamy, add the sugar, cocoa and vanilla and mix well.  Slowly add the oil in as the blades are running to emulsify the mixture and so the oil is distributed evenly.

6. Transfer the mixture to a glass, airtight container but do not refrigerate yet!

Making the Crepes:

Pour out a small amount of the crepe batter onto very lightly oiled or nonstick pan over medium heat.

Let batter spread out and heat until you start to see bubbles (think pancake but way thinner).  When bubbles are formed, use a large spatula to flip the crepe and heat the other side.

Once both sides are heated, turn heat down to low or medium low and add hazelnut spread and sliced banana.

After spread has melted, fold over the crepe while still on the pan, flip and heat for a few seconds more and then transfer to a plate.

Try not to eat too many at once. They are pretty irresistible!

happy baking!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Fall Appreciation

It is hard for me to really pick a favorite season.  I love the growing season obviously, but I equally love the early planting and planning season.  I adore road trips with friends and jumping into swimming holes during the summer, and I like when cold winter days turn into sun drenched mornings, where flowers blooms and birds chirp.  And yes, I guess I like some aspects of Winter, I will force myself to appreciate them when Winter comes...but for now I hope snow and ice is held at bay for a bit longer.

Fall, however, holds a special place in my heart because Fall contains my very favorite holiday of the year: Halloween!  I absolutely love Halloween.  I like the colors, the spookiness, the creativity that is sparked by dressing up and creating costumes, and I love the fact that I can drink from a skull mug and not be considered a total freak, if only for a couple weeks out of the year.  
~Here are some photos of things I have been loving lately about Fall~

The leaves changing and yet still catching some light after work, if I'm lucky!  I love that CRUNCH sound of walking over fallen leaves, and I adore seeing Malomar stick his nose into a big piles of fallen leaves and roll around in them.  It reminds me of being a kid and jumping into huge leave piles in my front yard.  I can't wait until all of these leaves change and for how beautiful my drives up to Rhode Island become in the next few weeks. 
Prospect Park
 Chilly early morning sunrises and the sound of ducks conversing.  To be fair, I am usually on my way to work when the sun actually rises in the Fall, but I was able to catch this early morning sky on the weekend and I loved it!
Prospect Park

Field Study season has begun!  I am lucky to work in a school system where the students are able to go on a lot of Field Studies throughout the year, even in Winter.  Fall officially marks the start of these trips!
Queens County Farm Museum 
Queens County Farm Museum
Queens County Farm Museum
The other thing I love about Fall is the practicality of decorating with food!  My sister is making a pumpkin soup for her Curling League and literally has over 30 pumpkins on her back steps and inside.  She is overflowing with pumpkins, and how great is it that this is one crop that need not be refrigerated! 

When I visited her and her husband on Thursday and made Zelňačka, she was starting to decorate with spooky things for Halloween visitors!  Armed with Martha Stewart's Best of Halloween book that she picked up from her local library, she was crafting away while we were cooking.  I can't wait to see what the place looks like when she is finished! 
Ahh, the Martha Stewart Halloween magazines best of book: so awesome!

Okay, time to continue work on my Halloween costume for this year!  

What are your favorite October traditions? 


Monday, October 24, 2011

Homemade Zelňačka (Czech/German Cabbage Soup)

How is your October Unprocessed going?  I have to admit, I am not doing as well as last year.  I haven been skimping on really fun and complex meals like I had last year and just relying on a bunch 'o fruit and veggies.  Last year I had my sister and her husband to cook with because I was living with them and it was easier to create really dynamic meals because I wasn't just cooking for one person! When I am just providing for myself, I have to admit I get a little lazy. 

Also, full disclosure, because I was getting sick every time that I ate before October started, I did cheat a couple of times.  Don't hate me Andrew!  

This past Thursday I went to my sister's house for a sleepover, and her husband taught me how to make Zelňačka, which is a super awesome cabbage soup!  I had asked him for the recipe before, but it makes even more sense just to see it step by step because the recipe is not exact. I really like the idea of the recipe being passed down through generations.  Honza is from Czech Republic and said that his mother almost fainted when he told her that he used coconut milk to make the Zelňačka vegan!  

I am going to share this awesome Sauerkraut soup recipe with you now...step by step!

1. Gather Ingredients:
~Sauerkraut (homemade or in a can, both work fine)
~potatoes (we used red)
~1 can coconut milk
~bay leaves
~sea salt
~caraway seeds
~all spice
~raw sugar, agave or honey as a sweetener

 2. Gather two pots and a cutting board, as well as a strainer. Fill one pot with water and put on high (you will be cooking potatoes in this pot, the other one will be used to create the soup.) Also grab a mesh tea ball if you have one, this comes in handy for seasoning the kraut. 
 3. Put Sauerkraut in Large stockpot and add enough water so that Sauerkraut is covered.  Heat over Medium. 
 4. While Sauerkraut is cooking, roughly chop potatoes.  You can leave the skins on: there are great nutrients in potato skins that you don't want to miss out on, plus they are yummy!
 5. Add potatoes to boiling water and add a few pinches of caraway seeds.  Boil potatoes until they pierce easily with a fork.  
6. Use a tea ball if you have one, or just put the spices right in (although this is more annoying b/c you will want to sift them out before serving.)  In the tea ball you want to put various peppercorns and all spice.  Some Zelňačka recipes call for paprika, so you can add that if you like. Place the tea ball and a few bay leaves into the sauerkraut to season.  Add sea salt to taste. 
 7. Strain potatoes and save the water.  You can do this by just straining it over a pot.  You will want to use that water to add to the soup because it is nice and seasoned with the caraway seeds. 

8. Add potatoes to soup and add extra water to cover the potatoes and sauerkraut. 
 9. Slowly add coconut milk to soup while stirring. Let this cook over Medium Low for about 5 minutes. 
 10. Taste!  This is an important step.  Most likely the soup will taste pretty vinegary and you will want to add sweetener.  We added sugar in the raw, a couple of pinches and tasted in between until it was exactly the way we wanted it!
 11. Enjoy!  I recommended serving with bread.  We also had Honza's homemade beer with our meal.  So tasty! 
 ~Honza packed up some extra for me to bring to work.  The soup is even better the day after because all of the tastes really liven as the soup sits.~
Happy cooking! 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Color Inspiration

There are many different things that inspire me in my studio, and as much as I love being outdoors, my work is never really landscape oriented.  I love to paint people or more abstract things, and the landscape itch just hasn't hit me yet.  

I realize though, that the colors of the outside always make it into my palette.  On a walk this Saturday I took some photographs for color inspiration.  The rusty reds, muted greens, bright blues, and specks of an almost unnatural bright red amidst all of the various green tones caught my eye. 

I can't wait to pull these sources into my studio for color inspiration for my next few portraits. 

Aren't the colors of Autumn just lovely?  

What inspires you?


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Women and Media and the Messages We Send.

{Using Media to send a message, about Media.  Oh how I love living in the age of technology.}  

I think of this often as a blogger.  I don't have many people check out my blog, and it may be because I do not focus on fashion, to-buy lists or beauty tutorials.  It may be some other reason all together, but if it is because I do not have a fashion or beauty blog, that's fine with me!  There are plenty of great women out there doing their thing and focusing on what it important to them.

To me, those things just don't interest me.  Of course I like getting new things, and yes I do wear makeup...but my politics around both of those things are very intense, almost unwavering and probably boring for the average internet browser to read.

I think as bloggers, especially those who get many hits (remember, we are searchable by google) we need to realize that we are part of this media and part of the way in which women are represented.  I am so happy that I have found some great women whose blogs I am proud to add to my list to read.  Whose words nourish me and inspire me and make me smile!

I am also so very PROUD to say that I get many hits from people googling "how to cut toxic people from your life."  Even if I don't have a lot of people reading, I know that I am somehow able to help the people who do stumble upon my blog in search for help, or even just a recipe!

Please watch this trailer, you will be glad you did.  

Then go see the movie.  

Thanks and happy, responsible blogging!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Brooklyn Bites!

{Want to be completely surprised by a totally unassuming place? 
 Then Zen Vegetarian House is the place for you!}

We walked over there from my apartment, a very nice walk through the park and came up to a very plain almost take-out driven looking place. (Think any restaurant named simple "chinese food" and you will get a solid picture of this place in your head.)

I almost turned around thinking "eh, maybe this isn't where we should eat." I literally stepped in the door and stepped out for a second, questioning that delightful vegan menu that we saw on yelp.

I was so happy, however, that I didn't first appearances get the best of me.
Zen had some really great food, and they deliver!

I had wonton soup for the first time! As a vegan, there just aren't many places that serve it so I hadn't had many opportunities to try it out.

These are all phone pictures, I hadn't expected to like it so much, but as soon as I tasted a bite of the wonton soup I knew I would have to write about Zen Vegetarian House.

Only complaint: not a nice place to dine, so if you want to eat good food in a good atmosphere, then get take out and go home or have it delivered.  Also, for some reason they have really cool plates but had plastic utensils? What is up with that? 
Wonton Soup
Plenty of wontons and delicious broth.
Sugar Cane Drumsticks
Smoked Teriyaki Seitan
Black Pepper Seitan
If you are in the Brooklyn area, I highly recommend this place.  And Foodswings, watch out: these chicken wings definitely rival yours. 

Happy dining Brooklyn!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Week and Weekend Recap

{Happy Tuesday!}

Here is a recap from my long weekend, and also a quick blurb about last week and the amazing food my family cooked for me!

Last weekend, for the very first time, I had wild mushroom risotto, and it was so so good! My sister and her husband had me over for dinner on the way home from my travels to Providence and made me risotto using wild mushrooms. If you are not keen on foraging, you can head over to your local health food store or a Whole Foods to get wild mushrooms. I will be posting a risotto recipe later this week!
My sister and Honza in the kitchen.
Wild Mushroom Risotto plated.  We paired this with Honza's own home brewed beer. YUM!
Lee is back from tour and had his birthday this week!  Here are some photos from his birthday day. 
Malomar and Lee
Chai and Chamomile
Me and Lee with birthday crepes. 

 Saturday afternoon The Body played a show at ABC No Rio.  Extra points if you can find me in a photo on Brooklyn Vegan!

On Sunday morning I woke up early and headed out to the park with Malomar, our usual routine.  In the morning on Sundays there are always a lot of people and a lot of dogs for Malomar to play with.  I knew I was leaving him this weekend so I wanted to spend some extra time with him before I headed out. 
Intense dog walker and cut family outing by the lake.  I thought this Dad and his son were just adorable!
Malomar resting by the water.

Sunday we headed out to Baltimore Maryland, but not before stopping at NYC's very best pizza shop.  This isn't really debatable, DiFara's has won numerous awards for best slice, for years on end.  The same man, Domenico DeMarco, has been making the pizza there for over 4 decades and is the only one to touch any of the pies there.  Literally.  He is the ONLY one who makes pizza there! So awesome!
Me being a nerd in the van on the way to Baltimore

After Thou and The Body played at Golden West Cafe (which is an awesome venue with good food by the way), we stayed down in Maryland for the night.  Our hostess, Lori had a crazy spread of food for us when we got to the house, enough for 14 hungry gentlemen and me! Martha Stewart, watch out!  In the morning she made vegan pancakes, sausage and bacon, and biscuits and gravy, she even had made a pumpkin pie for us!  When we were heading out, she was coring apples to make an apple pie.  Her husband is one lucky man, what a sweetheart!
Vegan Rice Crispy treats, a sweet note and fresh salsa.
Monday we headed back up toward NYC, and en route stopped to play pinball at Silver Ball Museum in Asbury Park NJ.  I am a little nervous to know that this awesome place is only 30 miles away from my apartment.  You can play pinball by the hour there and it is open year round!

Van Life: Lee, Me, Chip, Bo
Oh yeah, there is Skee Ball!
Probably my two favorite games there: Theatre of Magic and Mini Golf: seriously addictive!
The boys playing
The Elvira Game, Scared Stiff.
And of course, The Simpsons Pinball Party!

I hope that you had a wonderful weekend as well!