Tag Archives: holidays

Raw Pecan Pie

Hello, everyone! Yes, I’m alive, but make no promises as to the frequency of my posts henceforth. I’m never going to be a super regular blogger – I’m just too much of a space cadet. Wait, what was I talking about?…just kidding. But yeah, I’ll post from time to time when I have something worth showing you! Also, I’ve decided to transition my blog into more of a general healthy living blog. My main interest in blogging is to have a place to display my photography, whether it’s food, pets, friends, travel, you name it. So that’s that.

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving! This year marked the first time that I celebrated with only my immediate family, so mine was quiet, but honestly, that is exactly what I needed after a rough midterm #3 in O-Chem. Despite the fact that there were only four of us – well six, counting the two dogs (yes, I said TWO dogs…my sister just got a new puppy, who I’ll introduce you to soon!) – we somehow ended up making at least ten different dishes. In fact, so many dishes that we lost track of them and my sister ended up completely forgetting to serve her coconut milk creamed corn. #FirstWorldProblems.

Of course I whipped up a batch of my famous mashed cauliflower, but the sweetest (in both senses of the word!) thing I made was Kimberly Snyder’s Raw Pecan Love Pie. I don’t really eat sugar anymore, but I’ll make an exception for a date- and maple syrup-based raw dessert on special occasions and holidays. I’ve followed Kimberly’s blog for years, and always thought this pie looked cute. Well, it turns out it is as delicious as it is cute…

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The only change I made to the original recipe is that I used Brazil nuts instead of walnuts in the crust since Oh! Nuts had kindly just sent me a bag of their jumbo raw Brazil nuts to sample. I love the unique flavor of Brazil nuts. Plus, who doesn’t want to get like 500% of their daily value for selenium while eating pie?

Another fun fact: the dates I used were from my friend Cody’s family date farm in California! They are so much moister than the dates you can buy at the health food store.

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Back to my regular sugar-free routine of course, but I’m glad I had the chance to indulge a little with this lovely pie! Try it yourself this holiday season (link is above) if you’re into dessert, but not so into gluten, eggs, dairy, and sugar.

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Happy Halloween, Babycakes

I can’t decide which is scarier: Halloween, or how long it’s been since I last posted.

For once, I have a valid excuse though. I’ve only just returned from a two-week long adventure (and I mean adventure) in India – the first trip organized through the cooperation of VegNews and VegVoyages!

Of course, I have an epic Indian food post in the works, but in the meantime, allow me to show you how magical gluten-free vegan bakeries celebrate everyone’s second favorite autumnal holiday. (We’re all on the same page about Thanksgiving, right?!)

Like most of you, I celebrated “All-Hallows-Even” with my friends on Saturday night; I mean, Sunday’s not exactly the most convenient night to have a ghoulishly good time, is it?

Come the evening of true Halloween, I found myself facing a lonely six-hour drive back to Tempe (did I mention that my friends live in LA?). Being the strict observer of holidays that I am, this plan posed a bit of a problem. I wasn’t about to let a long drive get between me and a good time.

So, I did what any self-respecting, gluten-hesitant vegan would do. Donning my baby-pink piggie hat, I headed over to Babycakes NYC in downtown LA to stock up on sugary treats for the road.

A chocolate “cake ball” here…

A powdered blueberry donut there…

And a few spookies (spooky cookies, of course!) to bring home to share…

By now, you probably have an image in your head of me, sitting in my car, wearing a pig hat, and stuffing my face with a dinner’s worth of gluten-free baked goods. That is actually a pretty accurate description of how I spent my 385-mile-long Halloween. I assure you, the irony of the situation was not lost on me.

Oink oink oink.

Happy Belated Earth Day!

Challah!

So, my procrastinatory nature won out, and I’m not making my Earth Day post until, well, now. Earth Day is very special to me not only for the reason it’s special to all of you, but also because it’s my veganversary–my 2-year veganversary to be exact! Yes, April 22nd, 2008, I ditched dead animals, dairy, and eggs (man, I wish eggs started with a “d”) for good, and I’ve never looked back except to turn and laugh at the disgusting omnivorous world I left behind.

Of course, being an Environmental Analysis major (on the verge of graduation!) I also love Earth Day for its own wonderful sake, and look forward to Pomona’s annual Organic Dinner, put on by students. The food is catered by Pitzer College’s student-run café, The Shakedown, and supplemented by produce from Pomona’s organic farm. Oh, and there’s also organic dates donated by a nearby California date farm!

This was the second year I’ve helped out with the 200-person dinner (setting up, serving, baking, etc.), and it’s been a blast both times. After much deliberation, Steph and I decided to bake the Chocolate Peanut Butter Pillows and Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, and my old standby chocolate chippers–the Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookies from Vive Le Vegan!

Let me tell you, no matter how kick-ass of a baker you are, it is impossible–impossible, I say!–to make 400 plus cookies in under six hours if you only have one oven. Yes, you heard me right. Steph and I slaved over a hot oven from 9:00 pm to 3:30 am in order to bring Pomona students these stacks of organic vegan goodness!

It’s a good thing we did too, because we kind of ran out of food midway through the dinner (and to be honest the food we had this year was NOT as good as last year’s–overly salted teriyaki tofu in lieu of delicious tempeh curry). So, yeah, these cookies were kind of the saving grace of the dinner; and, if I don’t say so myself, they were pretty darn delicious and gorgeous to boot!

Be back soon with the rest of Nicole and I’s time in LA! :) This was just a scheduled interruption!

Lean, Mean, and Nineteen

So my baby sister turned 19 a few days ago! We went shopping during the day, and to her favorite restaurant, Pita Jungle, for dinner.

We don’t do birthday desserts at restaurants though.

Instead we come home to homemade cake–in this case, Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting from The Joy of Vegan Baking.

This cake is quickly becoming our go-to birthday cake recipe. It’s perfectly moist and sweet (and the icing ROCKS), but, making it with whole wheat pastry flour as we always do, not totally unhealthy.

In decorating, I decided to go for the “Alice in Wonderland” look, because, if you know me at all, you know that the only thing I like more than peanut butter is Alice. :)

I also made a raw carrot cake for me to have since I’m trying to go easy on sugar and gluten right now (of course, everyone else had a little of it too, but they were mostly too full of the baked carrot cake to really have a slice). I’ll post about it soon (maybe with the recipe!) when I review the cookbook that it’s from.

I bought Olivia an intense Phoenix Suns plush blanket for her birthday. This girl is obsessed with the Suns (I’m talking watches-all-the-press-conferences and often-cries-when-players-get-traded obsessed), and is always complaining about the cold at Colgate, where she goes to school in central New York, so this blanket seemed like the perfect gift to both appease her and shut her up. ;)

To Olivia: a year older, but as weird as ever.

Blame Apple

Um, yeah, blame Apple that you’re about to see way more photos than you’ve ever wanted to see.

This picture sums up our vacation. EVERYONE in my family on their computer except for me. :( Good thing I had my trusty camera to occupy me.

Since the hard drive on my brand new MacBook Pro peaced out a couple weeks ago, I obviously haven’t been able to blog, and consequently, I have an insane buildup of photos. A rational person might just forget those photos, and start blogging from the current moment, but my holiday photos are so much fun, I can’t bear not to share them!So here it goes. Expect way more photos than text. :)

When my semester ended (well, my semester personally just ended this morning at 3 am when I emailed my English prof my Austen seminar paper that I had to take an incomplete on, but I’m talking about Pomona’s semester), my sister, mom, dad, and I headed off to Philly to visit my dad’s family for a belated Hanukkah.

Our first night there was the giant blizzard (second biggest in Philly history?)

I think we got 23 inches. My uncle even went out to measure it!

Some Hanukkah action:

My wittle cousins, Nir and Tal.

Gorgeous (and incredibly classy) sister!

My mom made Dreena Burton’s Chocolate Banana Pudding Cake because it was my grandma’s birthday too!

My cousin Matt and my dad played some pattycake…

Tal and my uncle Adam made a snow (wo)man complete with a nice rack:

And then, Tal and I took a wee nap.

My aunt Donna made some delicious vegan chipotle chili. It was so spicy, it took me like an hour to eat and my eyes were watering the whole time. ;)

Oh, and this is my dad. Embarrassing.

Fortunately, my family is very supportive of my veganism. Take the following photo as an example. There was a tomato mozzarella salad at our big Hanukkah party, and someone was kind enough to provide me with this alternative:

I’m sorry, I was very touched that they thought of me, but really? Is this a dish that’s really worth veganizing? That was maybe the funniest thing ever.

To be fair, that wasn’t the only vegan option. My grandma ordered a feast from Whole Foods, which included General Tso’s vegan chicken and tons of roasted vegetables.

My mom kept cozy in her socks.

After we were all Hanukkah-ed out, we headed to Long Island, NY to visit my mom’s family for Christmas (yes, my family’s a bit of a cultural hodgepodge).

But first, we stopped in NYC for the day to see a musical–In the Heights–and do some fine (vegan) dining. My mom had made lunch reservations at Candle 79 weeks ago at my request. :)

We shared two appetizers. Polenta Fries

And the Guacamole Timbale: Chipotle black beans, caramelized onions, cucumber-jicama salsa, tortilla chips, ranchero sauce.

I made my dad get the Seitan Piccata because I’d heard so much praise for it, and it seemed like something he’d love (no, I don’t always order for my dad…)

Creamed spinach, grilled potato cake, oyster mushrooms, lemon-caper sauce.

My mom got the Live Celeriac Ravioli: Spinach-cashew ricotta, pine nut pesto, sundried tomato sauce, citrus marinated broccoli raab, olives & capers, which was super annoying because I had originally wanted to get lunch at One Lucky Duck, a raw restaurant, but my mom had said that she didn’t want raw food in the winter. Then, she orders this–the one raw entrée–at Candle 79. What gives, mom?!

Liv got the Burrito 79: Chili-herb grilled seitan, caramelized onions, sautéed greens, chipotle black beans, brown rice, cheddar cheese, guacamole, sour cream.

My entrée was obviously the best though. ;) The Wild Mushroom Stuffed Tempeh.

Wild mushrooms, sautéed spinach, brussels sprouts, sweet potato sauce, apple-pomegranate salad. They had me at sweet potato sauce.

Finally, we shared a dessert–Chocolate-Peanut Butter BlissChocolate mousse, peanut butter mousse, chocolate shell, berry coulis.

It was good, but 12 dollars for a dessert the size of a pill canister? Really?

While in the city, my dad and uncles and I also visited High Line Park, a mile-and-a-half long elevated park on the West side that’s built on former freight train tracks. It was pretty deserted given that not many people are crazy enough to take a stroll on an elevated, exposed platform on a blustery NY winter day, but I’m glad that we did.

And no holiday trip to NYC is complete without a stop at the Rockefeller Tree!

After a great day, we left the big city (calling it the big apple would be overkill in this post, wouldn’t it?), and headed to Long Island for a quiet(ish) Christmas.

Our first night in Huntington, we were greeted with hugs and heaping plates of pesto pasta made by our uncle Mickey! Walnut pesto, broccoli, and peas on TJ’s brown rice spaghetti. Heavenly!

It was sad not to be with Rupert for Christmas, but luckily, my two aunts had their dogs there to soften the blow. Tucker:

And Chickie:

Despite some minor–but expected–family altercations, Christmas went smoothly.

Can you see me? ;)

We had our traditional Christmas Eve Chinese take-out, but, not so traditionally, my aunt, uncle, and I got ours from a different place: the all-vegan Green Melody! I’m always a little skeptical of the veganness of food at non-vegan ethnic places, even when assured of it, so getting our own separate feast was a huge relief.

My favorite thing was the Rainbow Bowl! Roasted root vegetables in a beautifully carved and steamed kabocha squash! :)

I left PB cookies and soy milk out for Santa, like a good vegan.

And even roasted some chestnuts–though in a closed oven, and not over an open fire…

I got some great gifts this year. Tons of kitchen things–a spoon rest, a spiralizer, a cutting board (my sister got me a personalized one with a picture of us on it!), vintage salt & pepper shakers–and some new cookbooks–The Candle Café Cookbook, Raw Food Real World, and Sweet Freedom (by our own Ricki Heller!). Plus, the cutest Anthropologie dress in the world. Thanks, mommmmm.

My grandma got a Celtics Snuggie to match her pillow. Don’t let her sweet looks fool you–this woman is an avid and competitive sports fan. :)

And a trickster. Every year, she gives my mom the same gift as a gag. A 30+ year old box of petit fours. It’s disgusting and very Miss Havisham-ish, but hilarious.

Chickie got bored watching everyone else opening their gifts…

And then I had wayyy too much fun with my camera, shutter speed, and Christmas lights…

I call this one, “Donnie Darko’s Christmas Tree.”

And then we time warped to next year’s Christmas. ;)

Last, but not least, our decadent Christmas Dinner!

I made Swell Vegan’s Vegan Haggis, and it was a huge hit. Seriously, I knew it would be good, but I had no idea that my family would finish off this baby as fast as they did. :)

Since it was akin to a nut loaf (it also had oats, mushrooms, and root veggies), my mom started calling it a hagloaf. Hahahahaha.

I whipped up some extra-peppery PPK Mushroom Gravy to go with it (though I think a sweet, fruity sauce–like the one A-K made in her post–would be even better).

My sister made some sweet potatoes from Vegan Comfort Food, my mom made some green beans with almonds, and I made Ricki’s Quinoa, Roasted Beet, and Walnut Salad as well (seems random, but with the beets and cilantro, it’s Christmas colors, y’all!)

Mine turned out a lot redder than Ricki’s, but everyone thought it was beautiful and it got gobbled up. My uncle Adam even requested the recipe so he could make it for his New Years party a few days later.

Whew. I’m done. I hope this is the longest post I ever have, and regularly scheduled blogging shall recommence shortly. Book review coming up, too! :)

Thanks for all your kind words on my last post, and for your patience as I got my life back on track! I’m so glad to be back.

Second Thanksgiving, 2009

Well, it took me long enough, but I’ve finally gotten around to my actual Thanksgiving post! So here it is–Thanksgiving, Part II.

I drove back to Phoenix from LA with some friends on Wednesday, and stayed until Sunday night, so not only was it a lovely holiday, but a nice mental vacation from school as well (Yeah, I worked on thesis at home, but it just didn’t feel as painful…)

I didn’t get a chance to plan my menu until Wednesday night, which kind of stressed me out (not the least because I’m still trying to avoid gluten and sugar for digestive problems), but I eventually got a good group of recipes together!

First, my sister and I made Dreena’s Festive Chickpea Tart. Well, Liv made the filling, and I attempted my first gluten-free pie crust to go with it. I used the Cornmeal Pine Nut Crust from Flying Apron’s Gluten-Free and Vegan Baking Book, which I acquired recently. I used coconut oil instead of palm oil, but besides that stuck to the recipe. It was delicious, with a delicate, crunchy texture, and, surprisingly, the corn/coconut/pine nut flavor combo really complemented the chickpea/spinach/cranberry/walnut mixture. Sadly, we burned the outside of the crust and had to scrape it off, but it still looks pretty, I think. Kind of? Maybe?

I also made the Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Garlic from Vegan with a Vengeance. Prior to these babies, my mom actually had the nerve to think she didn’t like Brussels sprouts. and Liv hadn’t even had them before! I was glad to be able to remedy both of these unfortunate situations.

I loved the crispy, just-burnt enough-to-be-amazing stray leaves–kind of like mini kale chips, no? Liv ended up liking them, I guess. :)

I also made two tester recipes for Celine & Joni’s new book, Vegan Substitutions. Pumpkin Sage Bread “Rolls” and Green Beans with Toasted Pecan Gravy.

I wasn’t able to taste these “rolls,” but they were very well received! The pecan gravy for the green beans was delicious though. You can see the green beans next to the mashed potatoes a few pictures down.

An entire wall of our living room is a sliding glass door, which connects it to our backyard and pool area, so, given the lovely mild weather we had in Arizona that evening, we had a slightly alternative table set-up. Half in, half out!

Here’s the spread! (Oh, did I mention that we had 9 people over besides the 4 in my family? That explains the giant table above and the buffet style arrangement below). Our entire Thanksgiving was vegan except for the turkey and gravy (oh, and my mom’s pumpkin pies) that our friends brought for the omnis. Of course, it sucked to have a turkey there, but I count it as a win that every single side dish was vegan–and that there were THREE vegan gravies! (two that I made and the Tofurkey one).

Here’s my poorly lit plate! In front: Garlic Mashed Potatoes from the Real Food Daily Cookbook (my mom made ’em) with Rich Brown Gravy (that I made) from Vegan Vittles.

We had a wonderful time–as usual, we went around the table to say what we were thankful for, and then we dug in! Here’s my dad enjoying the company:

Even though I couldn’t have dessert, I still had to make some vegan ones for everyone else! I chose the Pecan Pie from Real Food Daily and the Gingerbread Apple Pie from VWAV.

Pre-baked:

Not as pretty baked, but still:

What’s the BEST part of Thanksgiving though? Um, leftovers! Brunch next morning:

In the front you see the Caramelized Onion-Butternut Roast with Chestnuts from Veganomicon, which was definitely my favorite thing I made (I didn’t mention it earlier because there were no good pictures of it on my actual T-day plate). I followed the recipe, using gluten-free brown rice bread crumbs for the topping! This dish was kind of heaven on earth. Just pure comfort food. I think I ate like 1/3 of it myself. I’ve never had chestnuts either–it was really quite fun to roast my own! One of them actually exploded in my mom’s hair, and she made a gross joke about it. ;)

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm, squash.

Anddd, obligatory sister shot. My dress = thrifted. Score.

First Thanksgiving, 2009

First of all, I have to apologize for my extended absence. I’ve had so many things worthy of posting, but so little time! The rough draft of my thesis was due today, and I just emailed all 93 pages of it to my two readers! It’s currently conclusionless, so I’m guessing it will clock in at around 100, but the worst is over! Plus, 100 pages on veganism is 100 pages well spent, I say.

I lurveee me some Thanksgiving, so I can’t complain that I got two this year!

The first–and more unique–one was at Animal Acres Farm Sanctuary in Acton, CA. The first time I went to AA (no, not Alcoholics Anonymous) this year was for my friend Stephanie’s birthday, and it was just our group, but this time, it was a full-fledged event of a couple hundred people: the Thankful Turkeys Celebration!

For the first hour or two, we just got to walk around, and hang out with the animals. This is Regina (or Regina’s cute little butt), the baby of the sanctuary.

Pretty pink piggies:

And we got to feed the horses. This is my friend, Dawn, with her lovely hair the same gorgeous auburn color as the fella she’s feeding. :)

Then it was time for the main event, the “Feed the Turkeys Ceremony!” All the kids lined up at the end of the yard, ready with the turkeys’ (and the other birds’) Thanksgiving feast.

They smell something:

First course, salad.

Also, plenty of “stuffed squash,” a.k.a. pumpkins filled with seeds. Oh, and cranberries!

Also, pumpkin pie. But–and I know this is a shocker, folks–turkeys apparently don’t like pie, and prefer salad and seeds. After being completely and utterly neglected, this pie’s smile turned upside down.

The funniest part was that some of the kids who got tricked into holding pies got really frustrated that their goods were undesirable (squash envy?). Hence:

Having fed the turkeys, it was time for our feast, catered by LA’s One World Vegetarian Cuisine.

Some sort of savory roast with stuffing and a frighteningly skin-like skin, mashed potatoes with (excessively oily) gravy, and roasted vegetables. The roast was One World’s own recipe, and it was absolutely wonderful. I couldn’t believe how soft and chewy the “meat” was, and the stuffing was carby comfort food at its finest. And the potatoes and vegetables were, well, potatoes and vegetables. Simple, but good.

Stephanie and Dawn at dinner (or whatever the 3 ‘o clock meal is called):

And then…a chicken tried to eat someone’s leftovers.

The end.

Be back soon with my second, real Thanksgiving!