Slinkin’ About

I think the lazy gene has corrupted me. I keep meaning to share my crafty projects progression as part of W.I.P. Wednesdays, and I keep forgetting. My current project is a simple knit worm/snake. His final length will be almost four feet (!), and he will have some fun blue eyes sewn on his head upon completion. This is a pattern that incorporates knitting, purling, increasing, and decreasing. I’m not sure what his role in the apartment will be, I was thinking perhaps he could be a draft stopper at the base of our front door. It’s all up to him though, isn’t it?

wormy-snake-buddy1

Make sure to take a peek at what other crafty folks are creating!!! Maybe you’ll get inspired?! I hear that there is also a mighty fine Flickr page set up for sharing crafty photos of crafty stuff.

The Cake Takes Control

Sometimes the end result in a baking adventure isn’t how you imagined it would be. Tim’s birthday cake was a perfect example. I set to work on his cake Saturday morning and never sensed that the cake wasn’t in the mood to cooperate. I was trying out a new cake pan I received for Christmas and I had every last detail planned for how the cake would look when completed. I used my most favorite chocolate cake recipe (the Wacky Cake recipe from this book), filled the pan, put it in the oven, and set my timer.

Once the cake came out of the oven, it was a test of my patience waiting for it to cool. I was so eager to assemble the cake… I waited, and waited, went on a bike ride, and waited some more… And then, it was time to remove the cake from the pan. This is when the trouble started. The cake simply refused to release itself. I tapped, knocked, pounded, and even dropped (on the floor, gasp!!!) the pan trying to encourage the cake to come out. Nothing. I let it sit longer on the counter. Nothing. Finally my inner rage took over and I really pounded on the bottom of the pan, I mean really pounded. Exactly half of the cake plopped out and landed on the parchment paper circle I had waiting on the counter. The other half didn’t budge. I ended up gently removing it with a spatula, but some cake remained in the fluted nooks of the pan. Tim took care of that by dipping his fingers in and sweeping wads of cake into his mouth. Birthday greed?!

So, what was supposed to be one round cake with a mousse-filled cavity ended up being half of a two layer cake with a mousse-filled layer in between. Baking failures always upset me and some level of mopiness ensues (I can’t be the only one, right?). The final cake (which is still pretty):

take-the-cake-and-eat-it-too

The components: Two layers of chocolate wacky cake with a peanut butter mousse in between, drizzled with chocolate ganache, and topped with granulated agave-sweetened peanuts (the mousse, ganache, and nuts are all test recipes for Celine and Joni’s cookbook).  The cake is delicious regardless of the misfortune along the way. Maybe the cake knew what was best?

birthdaycard1

Not a photo, but a scanned image of the birthday card I made for Tim. I love elephants (purple ones especially!), and we both love birds, so that was the inspiration behind this particular card.

Tim and I also enjoyed homemade tofu jerky over the weekend:

tofu-jerky

Smoky Peppered Tofu Jerky – We made this in our food dehydrator (using an adapted recipe from How it All Vegan). Making jerky takes a long time, but the results are worth it. This small batch lasted less than a day.

Lastly, another test recipe for the cookbook:

tofu-mayo

Homemade tofu mayo! I was never a huge mayo fan before going vegan, but this was so simple to make. I used it in the Tofu Dill Salad Sandwich recipe from Vegan with A Vengeance and it worked beautifully.

Una Bella Cena

I don’t speak Italian, but reliable sources tell me that the above words translate to: One Fine Dinner. And indeed, Tim and I ate a delicious meal at the new vegan restaurant that opened here in Portland, Portobello Trattoria. We are lucky to live within a few miles of the restaurant which will make eating out very tempting…

portobello-trattoria1

The interior is extremely cozy with tables spaced comfortably enough apart for some seclusion and also the ability to pick out snippets of other peoples’ conversations (What? You don’t do that?!). There was even live accordion music for entertainment. It’s a small space, but I prefer that. We were seated very quickly (even though it was busy) and our server was super sweet. 

The menu is set up for sharing. You choose an appetizer, vegetable sides, and main entrees. The main entrees can be ordered in a small plate or large plate size. The idea is to choose a variety of small plates so that you can taste more of the menu. We opted for two large plates to share, plus two sides, and of course, a dessert. I think when dining with a larger group, the small plates option would be fun because it would almost guarantee that you would taste everything on the menu. The food is affordable, much less than we expected for such incredible quality/presentation/service. I think our bill was $35, which is not bad at all for a four-course vegan meal for two people. The portions were just right; we left feeling full, but not overly so. Ready for the food?

Antipasti:

bread

Focaccia – Chewy, soft, and crusty served with probably the best olive oil we’ve ever tasted. There was a sprinkling of coarse sea salt in the olive oil which I really enjoyed, a lot.

Vegetables:

braised-kale

Braised Kale – Simple and addictive, served in a wee saucepan, it doesn’t look like much, but it was the perfect amount for two people.

sauteed-broccolini

Sauteed Broccolini – Tender-crisp with big chunks of yummy garlic for added zip.

Main Entrees:

pumpkin-ravioli

Pumpkin Ravioli with a Cashew Cream Sauce – Topped with chopped hazelnuts and some fresh herbs, it wasn’t overly rich, but light with a nice mix of textures.

spaghetti-meatball

Spaghetti with Meatball – A massive mound of spaghetti squash with a tomato basil sauce and a lentil-mushroom-onion-herb-based meatball (monstrous in size). Wow. This was awesome. I kept reaching over the table and swiping forkfuls from Tim’s plate.

Dessert:

tira-misu

Tira Misu –  Layers of chocolate, vegan mascarpone, and homemade ladyfinger cookies. This was more pudding-like than the tira misu I have eaten in the past, but delicious nonetheless. It was fun to eat out of a jar, but it prevents licking a plate or bowl clean (not that I would lick my plate in a restaurant… well, maybe).

We really enjoyed our meal, and we will undoubtedly return for a second visit (and a third, fourth, fifth…). I’m off to bake Tim’s birthday cake now! Keep a watch out for the celebratory post!!

Mish-Mash-Mosh

First the mish:

An update on the reusable bulk food/produce bags Tim and I have been making (W.I.P. Wednesdays!!! Yay Shel!):

We found some incredibly awesome eco-poly ripstop nylon at our local fabric store. It is made from 100% recycled textiles (polyester and nylon)! How cool is that? I think it makes reducing our impact even more effective – hooray! The colors are pretty and the fabric is soft, lightweight, and easy to clean. Over the weekend I made six bags in reds and blues, and I plan on making lots more as time allows (I need more time!!!). I am considering having a wee giveaway soon, so get excited! Here is a peek at the fabrics and some of the finished bags:

eco-poly-1

eco-poly2

eco-poly-3

We have a total of nine bags (and need more) in a variety of sizes. We went grocery shopping earlier and put them to use. I was skeptical about filling one with flour, but it worked beautifully! When I got home, I just transferred the flour to another container and rinsed the bag out. Easy as! We even used one for kale! I love avoiding the rolls of plastic bags hanging near produce and bulk bins. Besides, using handmade items makes you happy, right? Right.

And now the mash:

A few test recipe photos for Celine and Joni’s 500 Vegan Recipes Cookbook:

sesame-fauxcaccia-1

Sesame Fauxcaccia (take 1)

sesame-fauxcaccia-2

Sesame Fauxcaccia (take 2)

This flatbread is delicious. I had trouble not eating the entire loaf before it had cooled properly. It’s a lovely accompaniment to soups and salads. It has a spicy kick and the health benefits of sesame seeds. Goodness all around. I imagine this bread would make for fantastic sammies too.

Lastly, the mosh

Just for fun, here’s an example of what happens when my camera is left unattended:

huh

What?

Oh! There is a new vegan restaurant opening in Portland on Friday! The above’s b-day is Saturday so I think I see a special dinner coming up soon!!!! Vegan Italian food? Yeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaahhhhhhhh…  !!!