23 October 2010

Portrait of a Family by a Young Artist

I cannot say enough about the amazing photographer who took our family photos a few weeks ago. Her name is Erin and she works under the name Freya Photography. Her style is warm and beautiful and out of the ordinary. She is based out of the Portland, ME area (Damariscotta to be exact). Check out her website and some of the amazing photos she took during our shoot. She's definitely thinking outside of the traditional family portrait box.

14 July 2010

The Colonel can keep his chicken

Remember chicken nuggets?

Remember how crispy and tender they tasted before you found out they were made of the amalgamation of various smashed up parts from various smashed up chickens? If only I could capture that youthful ignorance for just one moment...

Ha! Forget that! I'm moving on, Colonel Sanders! This week, in an attempt to use the bushel of collard greens my roommate harvested from our community garden plot, I stumbled upon the recipe for my fried chicken rebirth. Thank you, Stephanie, over at Wasabimon blog! Her recipe was perfectly adapted from Laurie Colwin's recipe in Gourmet. The only changes I made were to use almond milk, a 4-part flour mix of chickpea, brown rice, sorghum, and corn starch, and no sesame oil. I do not love the taste of chickpea flour so I mixed it up. Next time I would experiment with more spices, and maybe try the sesame oil. I ended up using her collard green recipe too (sans carrots and with homemade chicken broth instead of veggie). And instead of the typical KFC mash potato side, I cooked up some whole grain quinoa with pesto. So tastey! I have been dreaming of this meal ever since.

30 June 2010

Cupcakes Make the Party

Ah, the beautiful marriage of blueberries and lemon! This week my siblings and I threw a very belated birthday party for my brother's girlfriend. When I asked her what kind of cake she wanted, she replied, "Anything, but chocolate." No chocolate! Gasp! So I hit the cookbooks looking for a party-worthy, non-chocolate birthday cake, and since I now have the stand on which to set them,  I decided it must be in cupcake form. In the past week or so, I have been lustily gazing at the recipes in Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. So many cupcakes to choose from! This book is amazing! I finally decided on the Blueberry Lemon Creme Cupcakes simply because my house still has so many bags of frozen blueberries from last summer. And although the Vegan Girls have a gluten-free yellow cake recipe, I ended up using a cake recipe (not vegan) from the book Gluten-Free Baking Classics. I added a dollop of lemon curd (recipe also from Gluten-Free Baking Classics) at the center and covered it with the vegan blueberry compote and vegan lemon buttercream icing. The cupcakes were a success and the birthday girl was very pleased.

And don't those cupcakes look so handsome on their little pedestal?

11 June 2010

Who says you have to live without?

Yes, that is cheesecake. And yes, it has whipped cream on it. And guess what!?! It is totally gluten and dairy free [insert angel choir and glorious beam of light]! I never thought this day would come, but the good people at Living Without have made my non-dairy cheesecake dreams come true. I made the chocolate version sans ganache. It can be made vegan, but I put the egg in there. The only complaint I have is that their gluten-free brownie crust was a little excessive; I would prefer a little less crust and a little more crunch. I'd cut the recipe in half or I might go with a cookie crust next time. And there will be a next time!

Now all I need is a beautiful cake stand on which to rest my glorious cake... The cake gods have heard my cries again! Today I was just selected as the lucky winner of the Dahlhaus Cupcake Stand Give-a-way! I can no longer claim to be one of those people who never wins raffles. I am so excited to get this beautiful little stand from this talented ceramic artist. What a great day! I think I'll celebrate with a delicious slice of cheesecake.

20 April 2010

Nutbutter Truffles

Oh, the glory that is the truffle! So I'm a bit obsessed at the moment, but when you find such an amazing gluten-free/dairy-free treat, you don't let go of it that easily. I decided to expand my truffle repertoire with other nutbutters: cashew and peanut butter. I busted these out for Easter with the help of my trusty sidekick (Note: four hands are better than two sticky, chocolate-covered hands all alone). The results were a smashing success. I was glad to help the Easter Bunny out with the food allergy crowd.

Coconut Cashew Butter Truffle
*gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan

1 cup cashew butter
1/2 cup agave syrup (or honey)
1/2 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
1/4 cup creamed coconut
1 Tbsp flax meal
1 Tbsp sesame seed
1 tsp vanilla
4-6 oz semi-sweet vegan chocolate chips
shredded coconut
or chopped nuts for topping

Mash all the ingredients except chocolate chips together. Chill mixture for about an hour so it is easier to work with. Once chilled, roll the cashew mixture into teaspoon-sized balls (or bigger depending on whether you like bit-sized or larger) and place on parchment. Place balls in the freezer until cold and hard. If you try to roll them in the chocolate unfrozen, they will fall apart.

Covering the truffles:
Melt chocolate chips in the microwave, 30 seconds at a time until smooth. Set out clean parchment and any additional toppings. Remove balls from the freezer. One at a time, dip cashew balls in the chocolate and roll them between your palms. It gets really messy, but the more chocolate on your palms, the more even the coverage. You can then roll the truffles in shredded coconut or chopped nuts or whatever you desire (this is where it is helpful to have a truffle-making partner). They are also delicious plain and simple. Place truffles on parchment and let the chocolate solidify. Keep in refrigerator until you're ready to eat. Best eaten at room temp.

Makes about 40+ small truffles

Alternative Flavor:
Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffle

1 cup natural peanut butter, salted
1/2 cup honey (or agave syrup)
1/2 cup peanut or almond meal
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 Tbsp flax meal
1 Tbsp sesame seeds
1 tsp vanilla
4-6 oz semi-sweet vegan chocolate chips

Follow directions above. The peanut butter mixture ends up a little more dry than the cashew one; no need to freeze.

01 April 2010

Belated St Patrick's Day

I love making a meal centered around a common theme. I should try to do it more often, but holidays always provide the perfect excuse to be thematic. Okay- so hot dogs aren't exactly Irish, but we had already had pot roast that week and I didn't have any corn beef on hand. I'm sure the Irish can appreciate a good hot dog. We did have the soda bread, colcannon and beer (or hard cider in my case). And all the veggies came straight from our CSA share! Of course it was a dairy-free, gluten-free St. Patrick's event. And my roommate used the leftover colcannon to make an amazing quiche crust! Check out my recipes below:

Vegan Colcannon
*gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan
(adapted from
1 bunch of kale, rinsed and chopped into small pieces
1 pound potatoes, cut into 1" pieces
2 onions, chopped
1 lrg carrot, shredded
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup Earth Balance "butter"
salt and pepper to taste

In a large saucepan, steam kale until tender. Set aside and keep warm. Boil potatoes until tender. Remove from heat and drain. While potatoes are boiling, simmer onions in coconut milk until they are soft. Season and mash potatoes well. Mash in butter. Stir in cooked onions and coconut milk. Blend in the kale and carrots and heat until warm. Serve it up! (For quiche crust: Grease pie pan and pat in a layer of colcannon. Prebake until browned and then add egg mixture.)

    I also attempted a g-free/d-free Irish soda bread. I think it was a little crumbly so I might add another egg next time, but it was delicious none the less. Unfortunately, most of my roommates have an aversion to raisins, golden or otherwise. You either love 'em or you hate 'em! And this house is apparently a Raisin-Hostile Zone.

    Irish Soda Bread  
    *gluten-free, dairy-free
    Adapted from the Gluten-free Goddess and the Gluten-free Girl

    1 cup millet flour
    1/2 cup sorghum flour
    1/2 cup potato starch (not flour)
    1 Tbsp sugar
    2 tsp xanthan gum
    1 tsp baking soda
    1 tsp baking powder
    1 tsp salt
    1 cup golden raisins, soaked in hot water for 15 minutes and drained
    1 cup Milk-alternative, with 1 tsp lemon juice (buttermilk replacement)
    6 tablespoons Earth Balance, melted
    1 egg

    Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a small souffle dish for a round loaf or nine-by-five-by-three-inch loaf pan (the standard size) for a square loaf.

    Put all the dry ingredients into a large bowl and stir them together until you have a consistent mixture.

    In a second, smaller bowl, mix all the wet ingredients together. Make a small well in the dry ingredients, then slowly pour the wet ingredients into the well, then stir until just combined. The dough will be quite sticky, but it should not be too dry.

    Scoop dough into the pan and spread evenly. The Gluten-free Goddess suggests "using a sharp knife [to] slice a criss-cross into the dough and wiggle it a bit to make a wider dent [because] according to Irish folklore, the criss-cross discourages the mischievous fairies from messing with your humble loaf of bread."

    Bake for thirty minutes or so, or until a butter knife inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack for 10 minute or so before serving. Cooling time helps the bread to settle and tends to be a little less crumbly.

    24 March 2010

    Them Darn Socks!

    I darned socks! I really darned them! And it's about time. I have been putting this task off for almost a year (sorry, Jess!) for fear of failure or hardship. Now, I have finally conquered the beast! It is truly a satisfying thing to make your own socks; to transform them from a ball of yarn to warm woolly feet covers. But it is an entirely new level of satisfaction to mend those handmade objects when they start to wear out. These socks will rise again!!! 

    I used a wonderful tutorial at HJS Studio. The concept was easy enough to grasp but it took some practice to master the row turns and to figure out how to create stitches that were no longer there*. The threaded guidelines really did help. I had neither a darning egg nor a light bulb to place behind the hole so I just used a rounded hairspray bottle. Whatever works!

    I am very pleased with how they turned out. The darning isn't exactly invisible, but I think it adds character and is a testament to how well-used these socks are (or how sharp the owner's heals are!). It works so well I am tempted to duplicate stitch the entire bottom of the sock to save the trouble of patching the holes later. Can't stop me now! I'm a darning fool!

    *Word of advice: If you see the beginning of a hole in your beloved knitwear- STOP!- take off the knitted object and darn that hole before things get out of hand! It is much easier to darn a thinning patch in a sweater or sock than to recreate stitches from a hole that is five stitches wide and four rows deep. Trust me!

    16 March 2010

    Watery Winter Weekend

    What a weekend! We have had the craziest weather: winds and wetness and flooding! Since Lawrence has no trees to speak of, we did not fear any branches or downed wires, but rather rolling trash cans and flying roof materials. And of course we are surrounded by rivers, so lots of folks are suffering the rising waters. All this weather has been a good excuse to stay indoors and bake, knit, and watch movies. The baking began with a deluge of chocolate truffles from Cafe Verde. The Cafe Verde ladies were commissioned to make 500 truffles for a Chocolate and Champagne event at Lawrence General Hospital this Thursday. There were truffles everywhere! And 13 varieties!
    And after a day of lusting after those unattainable, dairy-filled delights, I just had to make my own. I found the recipe at Bluebirdbaby's partner's blog Too Good To Be True. I omitted the cocoa nibs (because I didn't have any) and the heavy cream (to make it dairy-free), and I rolled them in unsweetened coconut after dipping them in the melted chocolate. They are amazing, and loved by the omnivores and allergy-inflicted alike. Next time, I would like to try them with peanut butter, a little less honey and a dash of sea salt.
    The next culinary feat was neither gluten-free nor dairy-free, but filled to the brim with both wheat flour and butter. My roommate Thomas celebrated his birthday this Sunday and requested an orange cake. Out of a love for a good baking challenge and a desire to make a wonderful birthday cake for my roommate, I hit up Smitten Kitchen for her Orange Chocolate Chunk Cake. For this recipe, I omitted the "chocolate chunk" portion and went with the plain orange cake. I dusted the top with powdered sugar and made an orange-raspberry drizzle. The candied orange slices made for a lovely presentation. It's always a risk baking something you can't test yourself, but all reports were positive and Thomas loved his cake. Happy Birthday, roomie!

    09 March 2010

    Handmade Christmas

    Every year for Christmas, my siblings do a gift exchange. There are five of us plus three in-laws, so in order to preserve our wallets and our sanity (and to make it a little fun), we choose a name out of a hat and get a gift for that person. In the past few years, we have changed the rules of the game to encouraged everyone to give handmade, "recycled" or local gifts. Not a hard-n-fast rule, but I think it helps us to be thoughtful consumers and siblings.

    This year I got the twin, and I decided to take on the challenge of sewing a shirt. I got this amazing wool fabric from the Pendleton Mills Factory while I was journeying across the country, and it was calling to be made into a sweet button-up. The pattern came from BurdaStyle and I got a lot of internet help along the way. I decided to make a muslin prototype to insure a proper fit and to practice all the construction. I'll post the final pictures once I complete the shirt...

    04 March 2010

    Fun Polaroids

    Through the looking-glass
    Trip to Portland, ME
    Christopher and Orange

    24 February 2010

    Coconut Almond Granola (with Flax Seed)

     I love love love granola. And wasn't I so happy to discover that there is a way to process gluten-free oats so that I don't have to give it up. Check out the lovely people at Gluten-Free Oats! And of course, there's always Bob's Red Mill. This great news also means I can still enjoy crumble-top pie crust, oatmeal cookies, and apple crisp. Thank, heavens! But I'll save those delicious treats for another post. Let us focus on granola for now. I have been tweaking this recipe since my sister gave it to me three years ago. I believe now it is perfected: tasty, quick, and easy. And not too sweet!

    Coconut Almond Granola (with flax seed)
    *gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan

    Preheat oven to 325 degrees

    5 cups gluten-free oats
    1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
    1 cup slivered almond
    1/2 ground flax meal
    1/4 flax seeds
    1/4 cup sesame seeds
    1/4 almond meal

    Mix all these ingredients in a big bowl.

    1/2 cup vegetable oil
    1/2 cup honey
    2 tsp vanilla (or 1 tsp vanilla and 1 tsp maple extract)
    1/2 tsp salt

    Heat these ingredients up in a small saucepan until they've dissolved together. Pour over dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. I split the mixture between two 9x13" pans or you could spread it on two jellyroll sheets. Bake in oven for 30 minutes, making sure to stir the granola halfway through. Be a little extra watchful if you're baking in metal pans or sheets as the granola tends to brown more quickly. Toss the granola right when you take it out and then let it rest until completely cooled. Store in sealed container and enjoy!

    19 February 2010

    Very Berry Cowl

    More knitting! I'm knitting crazy these days. Actually, I'm project crazy these days! So many ideas and inspirations floating around. I spent over 2 hours in the library the other day digging through books on all sorts of topics: cooking, knitting, printmaking, sewing, raw food diets, homemade cosmetics. I left with a stack of books up to my chin. I must have been quite a sight trying to unlock my car door while balancing my own personal library.
    This little beauty, however, was born from the world-wide-web and not a library expedition. The pattern was created by Juilanne Smith, but I have adjusted it for my own purposes. The double-knit purple yarn created a nice, bulky stitch so I only had to do one cable every 10 rows, alternating sides which gives it it's lovely twisty nature. It is knit around sideways with a provisional cast-on and finished with a kitchener stitch. It was my first crack at the provisional cast-on method (thank you,!) and I used the cable of a circular needle to hold the stitches which made them really easy to pick up when it came time for the kitchener. Love it!

    10 February 2010

    Owl Silkscreen

    Owl Linocut transferred to hand-painted silkscreen for super awesome Christmas presents. This is my first silkscreen with my new Speedball kit. I tried to find some feedback on which kit would be best, but had little luck. I ended up buying the Speedball Fabric Screen Printing Toolkit. It has the bare essentials. I figured it would get me started and I would end up buying my own ink colors. I think it's working well so far!

    06 February 2010

    Owl Linocut

    Apparently owls are hot right now. Everyone has their own owl style. This was my approach to the owl craze. This is part one of a two-part process. Next step: Silkscreen!

    02 February 2010

    Twisted hat

    One of the many knitting projects I have taken on in my unemployment. I really love the simple, unique cable pattern on this hat. Perfect for men and women! You can find the pattern for free on the Joko Knits blog. I discovered it on Ravelry, my new knitting community. Check it out! I had to adjust the size a little to fit the gauge and added fold-able brim per request of the recipient. I think I prefer it sans fold. I used Cascade Yarns 128 in Olive. Love this pattern. So easy!

    29 January 2010

    No Wheat, No Dairy Lemon Bars- No Way!

    As many of you know, I had to change my diet about 2 years ago when I discovered I have gluten and diary allergies. Please save all your groans and sighs for I know what I am missing: pizza, croissants, cheese... delicious, delicious butter. But you cannot imagine how good it feels to find relief from the daily headaches and sore throats, not to mention the total lack of energy and tortured intestines. And all I had to do was adjust my diet. And adjust, and adjust, and adjust... After all these adjustments, I thought I'd share with you all some of my baking successes. Starting with these awesome lemon bars, one of my favorite desserts.

    Lemon Bars
    Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, which was Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

    For the crust:
    3/4 cup of Earth Balance, at room temperature
    1/2 cup granulated sugar
    2 cups flour (1 c. ground S'moreables, 1/2 c. millet flour, 1/2 c. brown rice flour)
    1/2 teaspoon xanthum gum
    1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

    For the full-size lemon layer:
    6 extra-large eggs at room temperature
    2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
    2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (4 to 6 lemons)
    1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
    1 cup flour (1/2 c. sweet rice flour, 1/2 tapioca flour)

    Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

    Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking pan

    For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until light. Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed. Gather into a ball. Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into the greased baking pan. Chill for 20 minutes.

    Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. The butter may get bubbly, but let it cool on a wire rack until the crust solidifies. Leave the oven on.

    For the lemon layer, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or about five minutes beyond the point where the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature.

    Outer ends can get rubbery. I cut about a 1/4 inch of lemon bar off around the edge of the pan before cutting into small squares. Dust with confectioners’ sugar right before serving.

    Homemade Halloween: Chicken and Egg

    This is the beginning of a new Halloween costume trend: The Sweatshirt Costume! It's amazing what you can come up with when you have a sweatshirt, a little felt, and some sewing know-how. Plus some rad spandex pants and leg warmers. Wish I had a better picture.

    23 January 2010

    Altoid Box Remade

    This little project came about when I was trying to think of a gift for a friend to take on the road. I imagined it as a light travel box that could be set up on bedside tables or peeked into during long van rides. Fox and chicken make an unlikely traveling duo, but they have set up a lovely camp together and fox plays a mean banjo. Chicken clucks along.

    It is mostly made from paper, colored pencils, and glue, but the ground is felted wool and the night sky is watercolors and salt. The moon and clouds protrude from the background with the help of little paper cubes made from vellum. And the hobo bag is tied on with string.