Monday, December 29, 2008

Im a Bad, Bad Girl

Or maybe just a terrible blogger. Christmas is over (happy holidays, everyone) and I haven't even discussed Thanksgiving yet. I suck. I also suck for not getting a shot of my whole Thanksgiving table. Lacking that, I'll open this post with our centerpiece:

That there is the Edible Mayflower (higher res on Flickr).

You may ask yourself "Where is that large automobile?" "Why the crap would anyone make an edible Mayflower?!" I don't have a good answer to that question. But I do have a story.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away (i.e. about a year ago, on the Internet), my friend found the Meat Ship (insert rather obvious Gross Out Warning here). I was struck by both its grossness and it's awesomeness (hello there, edible BOAT) and decided I had to make a vegan one. My friends were kind enough to gift me a pirate ship cake pan to aid me in my quest, and the rest is history (or dinner).

Once I decided to make the ship itself from cornbread, I took to the Internet to find out what people enjoyed most with the stuff. After polling the constituents, I ended up with sails made from Veganomicon style sauteed collard greens, Pilgrims made from mini Spicy Pinto Sausages wearing sauteed mushroom hats, sailing the seven seas of Yellow Rose Recipes Better Than Basic Chili. Perhaps not the most traditional of Thanksgiving foods, but damn tasty just the same.

Here's my first plate of the night. Yes, we went classy and ate Thanksgiving dinner on disposable plates. Don't judge me!

Clockwise from that poppy-seed covered ball of awesome, we have:

Poppyseed Pull-Apart Rolls (Vegan Brunch). Harvest Vegetable Medley (Vegetarian Times). Sweet Potato Pear Tzimmes with Pecans and Raisins (Veganomicon). Stuffed Twice Baked Potatoes (Yellow Rose Recipes). Thanksgiving style polenta seitan (Parsnip Parsimony, The I-40 Kitchen). Gravy (my friend Sarah). Grilled Asparagus (Veganomicon).

I had another plate after that with chili, collards, stuffing, cranberry crumble and I don't even know what else. My foodbaby was enormous.

I made the Chestnut Apple Stuffing from last fall's Vegetarian Times for Thanksgiving dinner, substituting Isa's Spicy Pinto Sausages from the upcoming Vegan Brunch for the store bought ones. Everyone loved it. My mother has some sort of sausage aversion and asked me not to put sausage in the stuffing, so I only put in two and she really liked it. Yet again, vegan food has proven her wrong!

That was my first time eating chestnuts. I don't think I'm a fan. I won't pick them out of anything, but I won't go hunting down chestnut-based recipes either.

I enjoyed the Harvest Vegetable Medley from the same magazine a lot more. Everyone loved it, even my vegetable-phobic grandmother. This was surprising because it's really just plain, old roasted vegetables. Then again, it's not so suprprising because it has almost thirty cloves of garlic in it and who doesn't love metric assloads of garlic? Please note that if you make the recipe as written, you will be able to feed at least a dozen people for two days. I suggest halving it unless you're having a platoon over for dinner and/or really love leftovers.

Thanks to Parsnip Parsimony, I now know about the joy that is polenta seitan. This is not something that would have occurred to me to make, so I'm really glad she thought of it. It's got great bite and I can easily eat a whole batch of it at once if I don't stop myself. Sadly, it's not very photogenic.

Don't let that put you off, though. It's still awesome.

Let the record show I don't like sweet potato. And I don't like tzimmes. I like my vegetables savory, my fruit sweet and never the twains shall meet. My family, however, loves both, so I made them the Sweet Potato Pear Tzimmes with Pecans & Raisins from Veganomicon. Since I made it, I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt and take a taste and actually liked it. Holy crap. That's the sort of word eating I can get behind. I think the pecans may have been what converted me. I love me some pecans.

The Stuffed Twice Baked Potatoes from Yellow Rose Recipes are pretty amazing. How amazing? Amazing enough to get my little brother to eat mushrooms. That's borderline miraculous. These potatoes are stuffed with broccoli and mushrooms and win. Mine don't look so great because they're a bit over baked, but that's how we like them.

Here's a shot of the full pan of Poppyseed Pull-Apart Rolls from Isa Chandra Moskowitz's upcoming Vegan Brunch. They're good for brunch or any damn time. I obviously thought they'd make good dinner rolls and I was right. However, they are crazy with the poppy seeds. Be prepared to make a mess with these babies.

No SSD family dinner is complete without grilled asparagus. Is that weird?

For dessert, we have leftover birthday cake, my friend Sarah's Tofu Pumpkin Pie and Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake with Cinnamon Icing from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. Not the prettiest desserts ever (I ran out of decorating time), but they more than made up for it in tastiness. Especially the cake. I can't get enough of it and neither can anyone I've ever made it for.

And that's a wrap. Happy holidays, everyone! Stay safe. See you back here in 2009.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Happy Birthday, Grandma!

My grandmother turned 82 on Wednesday. Here's her birthday cake:

Unfortunately, with all the food I made in the last few days, that's the only picture I was able to take outside. The rest were taken at the dinner table (and some things weren't photographed at all), so take a good look at that picture. The rest are going to be crap.


The cake is just the Apricot Glazed Almond Cupcake recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World made into a cake, decorated with marzipan letters and dried appricots dipped in chocolate and almonds. It is tasty and moist and not too sweet, and the preserves inside make your mouth say "Why hello there!" and it's pretty damn near perfect. My whole family loved it, especially my grandmother, who normally takes two bites of cake and says she's had enough but actually ate a whole piece of this thing (and took some home with her; she normally hates leftovers. This is historic).

Now that we have the important stuff out of the way, it's story time. Because if I've made a cake, you can be pretty sure there's a story involved. Probably one involving some kind of destruction.

Once upon a time (AKA last Wednesday, AKA Grandma's birthday, AKA day before Thanksgiving), I took the day off to cook. As an added bonus, in order to keep myself (and my friends) entertained (and distracted), I set up a webcam in my kitchen and broadcast my wacky shenanigans live to the whole Internet.

This cake was the very first thing I made, bright and early Wednesday morning. Everything went fine until it was time to decorate. I toasted and chopped my almonds, melted my chocolate, dipped my apricots and everything was fine. Then I popped the top of my can of marzipan to discover it was...Chocolate Schmear. What the crap is Chocolate Schmear? I didn't know, didn't want to know and just wanted it the fuck out of my kitchen. There was much swearing and stomping around, until I remembered I keep an emergency tube of marzipan on hand (when the world comes to an end, I'll be ready to bake. Will you?), grabbed it and made with the decorating. The marzipan letters were great in theory. In practice...not so much. I couldn't get the marzipan out of the damn cookie cutters without poking it with something, which is why all the letters are nicked and strange.

But let's be honest. That's hardly up to my usual standard of cake tragedy. Something else had to go wrong, right? Much to the amusement of my friends quietly watching from their offices, it did.

When the cake was done, I got out my Official Food Photography Table and showed it to whoever was still watching, before taking it outside to take pictures. Somehow, the table slipped out of my hands and INTO THE CAKE. Suddenly, my beautiful cake said "HAPPY BIRTHDAY GRAND*CRATER*"! After the obligatory freakout, I picked the crushed letters out of the cake, moved the rest of them over, made a new "MA", picked one of the apricots off the side of the cake, used it to cover the crater, then redistributed the apricots so it wouldn't be so obvious one was missing. Viola!

In retrospect, I'm pretty pissed at myself for not taking a picture of the cake with the visible crater. I need to get better at documenting my failures.

I usually share the story of how my cakes go wrong while we're eating them, but I didn't this time. Now the whole Internet knows what happened to the cake, but my family is none the wiser. Let's try to keep this between the 7382193719037812738 of us, OK?

And we'll all live happily ever after, the end.

PS: Chocolate Schmear tastes like ass.