Rewinding 365 Days

With 2010 quickly departing, I thought it might be fun to look back on my adventures over the last twelve months. I’ve never written a “Year in Review” post before because my commitment to blogging isn’t exactly gold star worthy, but it might be nice to end the year with some enthusiasm for 2011!

January 2010

Ooooops! I didn’t write a single post in January 2010. But, that doesn’t mean life was dull! I made Tim cupcakes for his 33rd birthday and we had no trouble eating the entire dozen by ourselves (not all at once of course!):

We also went out to dinner with friends at Portobello Vegan Trattoria. This was a special day because we rarely go out to eat.

February 2010

I turned 33 in February. Tim made me a gorgeous cake:

I also baked up a storm for Portland’s Vegan Bake Sale for Haiti, took part in Chicago Soy Dairy’s Teese Challenge two times, and volunteered at Out to Pasture Animal Sanctuary.

March 2010

In March, Tim and I attended a lecture given by Lauren Ornelas of the Food Empowerment Project. She is a true inspiration to me and I take advantage of every opportunity to hear her speak about food justice and veganism. We also had a visit from Tim’s family. We spent a lot of time with his sister, Liz:

We took her to several fun Oregon landmarks, including Multnomah Falls:

And we fed her yummy vegan waffle sandwiches from FlavourSpot:

Finally, Tim and I went on a gorgeous hike near Mt. Saint Helen’s:

April 2010

To celebrate Earth Day, I wrote a lengthy post about how we can all reduce our impact on the planet. Tim and I went on hike and encountered some snow:

But, we made it to the top and enjoyed expansive views, especially of Mt. Saint Helens:

I was also testing recipes for Celine and Joni’s forthcoming (third!!!) cookbook:

May 2010

In May, I participated in another vegan bake sale, this time helping to raise money for Galapagos Preservation Society. I made brownies and pizza rolls!

Tim and I also went on LOTS of bike rides – as a result, I built up my endurance for longer rides:

Tim and I also took a nice trip to Seattle for a friend’s art show and continued on to the Olympic Peninsula for more adventure.

June 2010

June was an incredibly busy month with plenty of backpacking, Portland’s Run for Congo Women, Vegan Iron Chef 2010, and the Let Live Animal Rights Conference 2010. I think June was the best month for animal/human rights activism. It was a good month.

July 2010

July marked a major turning point for me in my life. I impulsively quit my job after five years as a legal assistant. I was dreadfully unhappy and unfulfilled. It was a smart decision. I put my mental health above financial security. I have been struggling with depression for the last ten years and quitting my job put me one step closer to letting happiness into my life. Tim and I immediately celebrated with a backpacking vacation. It was awesome. We also went cherry picking, I announced that I was writing a vegan brownie cookbook, I opened an Etsy shop called Chirp Cards, and attended a summer open house at Out to Pasture Animal Sanctuary:

August 2010

August was an exciting, productive month for me. I worked with the absolutely wonderful Isa Moskowitz to help with cooking, cleaning, and photo shoot preparation for her newest cookbook, Appetite for Reduction. I learned a lot from Isa and had a blast helping her. It was one of the greatest highlights of my summer. If you don’t own this book yet, make it your New Year’s resolution to purchase it, cook from it, and take naps with it.

I was also hard at work creating brownie recipes despite an over-heating oven and sky high temperatures outdoors. I spent more time at Out to Pasture Animal Sanctuary as well.

September 2010

September resulted in more backpacking adventures, Portland’s Veg Fest, a Dandies Challenge, a visit to new vegan food cart in Portland, and bike rides to our favorite places:

October 2010

October was a pretty mellow month. Tim and I took advantage of free time and went hiking:

We also went to Portland’s annual Apple Fest and bought close to 20 pounds of local apples:

And, we attended another volunteer work party at Out to Pasture Animal Sanctuary.

November 2010

November was another busy month. I made a new friend and we spent MANY hours together cooking, baking, and eating. I participated in Vegan MoFo and posted every day for the entire month – a big accomplishment for me! To check out all of my MoFo posts, click here. Tim and I went on three hikes, including one with my dad when he visited us early in the month. I also taught myself yoga!

Tim, our friend Kittee, and I also participated in the annual Fur Free Friday march in downtown Portland. The march protested wearing, buying, and creating fur apparel. It was a peaceful, educational, and effective protest.

December 2010

December brought a temporary halt to my brownie cookbook. My motivation plummeted and I was making a lot of cards to keep my Etsy shop full. Bike riding slowed a bit as well since wind, rain, and gloomy weather dominated most days. Baking took up most of my time, but we managed to enjoy a few baked treats made by others too!

We celebrated Christmas Eve with friends and lots of pizza. I got a new camera lens from Tim so expect some exciting photos next year!

I have a nice list of goals for 2011, so stay tuned for a post about what I hope to accomplish!

Happy New Year everybody!!!

Who’s the Big Winner?

It’s… Tami, from Oh, For Pete’s Sake! Tami said she would share her ultimate brownie sundae with Australian chef Curtis Stone. I hope he likes brownies! Tami, I will contact you via e-mail so we can arrange shipment of your brownies. Congratulations!

Want to know who I would share an ultimate brownie sundae with? John Ritter (from his Three’s Company Days) and Rick Moranis (from his Ghostbuster days). We would only need one spoon though :)

Thanks for all the brownie enthusiasm everybody! I hope to have another giveaway in 2011.

National Cupcake Day!

Did you know that today is National Cupcake Day? I definitely appreciate a “holiday” dedicated to one of my favorite sweet treats! To celebrate, Tim and I rode our bikes over to Back to Eden Bakery Boutique in NE Portland. Back to Eden is one of Portland’s all-vegan bakeries and probably my favorite – the baked treats are absolutely gorgeous (and yummy, of course)! There were two cupcake options when we arrived: Pistachio Vanilla Bean and Chocolate Marionberry. We decided it would be best to try both:

Here is what happens to cupcakes when you transport them home via bike:

Oooops! They got a little smooshed despite my care when putting them into a container and then wrapping the container in my winter cap and then putting the whole shebang into my messenger bag. They still tasted amazing, really amazing. I heard that some Hazelnut Mocha cupcakes arrived at Back to Eden after we left. Might have to make a second trip to fully celebrate National Cupcake Day…!!!

Now, go eat a cupcake :)

Batch of Brownies Giveaway!!! (You Know You Want Some)

With the holidays approaching it might be nice to enjoy some indulgence you don’t have to bake yourself, right? I have been stuffing my freezer (and belly) with oodles of brownies over the last several months. As a result, the fudgy brownie and I are quickly becoming enemies (can you imagine?). Writing a vegan brownie cookbook is challenging. Eating batch after batch of brownies is downright crazy nonsense. I want to share some brownies! Are you interested? Good!

You have the chance to win a batch of Peppermint Crunch Brownies:

OR,

A batch of Cookies-n-Cream Brownies:

To enter the contest, leave a comment below answering this question: “If you could share the ultimate brownie sundae with anybody in the world, who would it be?”

Be creative with your answers!!! I will randomly select a winner on December 16th. Due to cost and freshness issues, this contest is only open to folks living in the US. Sorry :(

**If the selected winner happens to be gluten-free, I can substitute my Double Chocolate Ultra Fudgy Gluten-Free Brownies instead. If the winner happens to be soy-free, I can work around that too.**

Good luck! I am looking forward to your responses!!!

The Bread Snarfers

I am pretty confident that Tim and I could eat an entire loaf of freshly baked bread in a span of 24 hours. Obviously we aren’t that crazy, but over the weekend we came close to devouring not one, but two loaves of homemade bread. If it weren’t for all the healthy seeds and flours used to make the bread, I’d probably feel guilty for overindulging. But hey, we are dipping the bread in soups – it’s not like bread is the only component of our meals! That would be bad.

Last month, I shared several bread recipes with you. I have one more for the recipe files: Whole Wheat Bread.

This loaf is rolled in a medley of healthy toppings: sesame seeds, poppy seeds, golden flax seeds, oat bran, and wheat bran. I’m sure that sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds would be lovely too. The recipe is adapted from “Baking: Easy-to-Make Great Home Bakes” by Carole Clements.

Whole Wheat Bread

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cup warm water, divided
4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon unrefined sugar
4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup wheat germ, optional
2 teaspoons salt
3 Tablespoons olive oil (or oil of choice)
2 Tablespoons agave nectar (or maple syrup)
1/4 – 1/3 cup mixed toppings (seeds, oats, bran, etc)

Directions:

1. In a glass measuring cup, whisk together 3/4 cup water, yeast, and sugar. Set aside until foamy, about 5-10 minutes.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large mixing bowl) combine flours, wheat germ, and salt.
3. Add yeast mixture, remaining 1 cup of water, oil, and agave (or maple syrup) to flour mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine. When you can no longer stir the dough, use your stand mixer or your hands and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8-10 minutes. Shape into a ball.
4. Lightly grease a large bowl with oil and place dough in bowl. Turn to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and set aside in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1-2 hours.
5. Grease a standard-sized rectangular loaf pan (9″ x 5″) with oil and set aside.
6. Punch down dough, knead gently a few times, and shape the dough into a loaf that will fit into your loaf pan. Roll the dough in your toppings and place seam side down into prepared pan. Place in a plastic bag (making sure to fill the bag with air) and tie the bag shut. Allow the dough to rise for about an hour. Mine rose incredibly high and I feared it was going to collapse, so keep an eye on your dough!!!
7. During the last 30 minutes of rise time, preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
8.Once the dough has risen well above the rim of your loaf pan, place in the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes. The loaf should be golden on top and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Allow to rest in pan for several minutes before transferring to a rack to completely cool.

Serve with soup if you must, just don’t spill the soup first:

Oooooooops!!!