Well, I made them. They took forever.

I went wrong somewhere as the texture of the light cookie was a little gummy.

But they were definitely macarons! I did it!

 

I used Hannah Kaminsky’s recipe.

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Sundays in Fall means back to lunch. As the school year continues to kick my butt, I adjust slowly–feeling my best at some point on Sunday morning. In the middle of my making lunch for the week.

Sweet potato mash, roasted red beets, and roasted tomatoes from my garden, to be smeared on bread. IMG_2196

Creamy polenta, roasted root (sans the hacky sack), and a bed of kale. Tofu was marinating. IMG_1850

Still using up my tomatoes roasted tomatoes and tofu spinach ricotta in a tofu omelet, roasted potatoes, and maple pan-fried Field Roast sausage. IMG_2321

And blondies. Some bourbon for the blondies, and some for the brunette. IMG_2303

Oh, vanilla.
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Teacher shoes.IMG_1745

Ice cream treat on the Gowanus. [Ample Hills Creamery]IMG_1792

Pretzel cone. Dairy-free fudge & Brooklyn.IMG_1787

Fried pickles. Summer beer. [Pickle Shack]IMG_1796

Herbs and cashew cheese on rustic bread.
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Avocado green.IMG_1800

Vanilla ice cream, macerated strawberry on cookie crumb and basil cream.IMG_1802

Fields and fields of corn. This is what’s inside the heart of the heartland. After hours of fields of corn, I was back in the Motor City area to sample some vegan eats.IMG_2081

Lunch, finally was at Inn Season Cafe in Royal Oak. They have a promising brunch menu they only serve on Sundays. (Darn!) And a regular menu with 90’s veggie fare. 90’s because things are served with a side of chips from a bag. The 90’s as in, a time when vegetarian food was rudimentary and unexciting. I opted for a sandwich special, the opened face tempeh. IMG_2083I had hoped that the Daiya was a sprinkling, and not the pile I was served, barely hot, on top of the barely cooked tempeh. I promptly moved the mound of processed cheese glob off the tempeh so I lost most of the pesto. What I was left with was not what I pictured in my mind as I traveled from Indianapolis. The slaw was a little bit of a redemption, but not enough.

Well, there’s always cupcakes! I drove a short couple of blocks to Main street where Cupcake Wars winner Taste Love Cupcakes offered a vegan option that would make it all better. PicMonkey Collage

I have to say: the best vegan cupcakes I have tried in my travels have been the vegan option at an omnivorous bakery. The fluffiest cake, the best frosting, the best pinpoint-perfect sweetness level… maybe these are more qualified bakers, as opposed to passionate vegan entrepreneurs who bake? But they are getting it right. This cupcake was sublime, an adjective I don’t use lightly, like say “yummy.” Spectacular in all the ways cupcakes can be.
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After some exploration of Detroit, both crumbled and wartorn and thriving, I head to the uppercrust city of Birmingham, very different than the dilapidating Detroit proper. I headed to the fancy pants The Stand, a gastropub with a vegan section on their menu, otherwise filled with things like duck fat fries. I asked my waiter if the chef could whip me up a vegan tasting plate with a combination of the menu items, sans the honey and hazelnut roasted carrots.  IMG_2170

It was a delight to be presented the dish by the chef! I felt like a V.I.P… although I have been wearing the same clothes for 3 days straight. (My rebellion of airlines’ atrocious policy on bags.) On my plate: the roasted mushrooms with crispy quinoa in a balsamic glaze, candies fennel with beets and walnuts, and the amazing roasted corn with lavender oil and candied almond. Every bit of this dish was scrumptious. It was a welcome veg-based meal done right.IMG_2171

I did some exploring of Detroit. Fancied myself an urban explorer.. from the car. After GPSing all about Gratiot, directed to make turns I would never make without prodding, I became fascinated with Detroit. Motown is a beam of light on the city. Standing in front of Hitsville U.S.A. feels different than standing elsewhere.
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I found the juxtaposition of places like Birmingham and Detroit unsettling: how affluent some areas were while other parts were empty, destroyed, abandoned of hope–with wandering specters. But this is the lore of Detroit City. The city is now a museum of its former self, with its once-grand architecture crumbling away, scrapped, yet standing–like the thousands of empty, boarded homes. Visual reminders of the stark contrasts embedded in our society: race, class, money. Detroit’s Michigan Central Station is one large reminder. IMG_2103

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Inside the residential streets, where there is a 1:1 ratio of abandoned homes to homes, the Heidelberg Project is thriving. I last saw it like 10 years ago. It has grown significantly since then, hosting other industrial and folk artists in the surrounding homes and yards. IMG_2127

I love this kind of crap.IMG_2135

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I also had to visit the abandoned Packard Plant, the largest abandoned factory space in the world, apparently. Packards were luxury vehicles built here until 1958. Now the 3.5 million square feet plant remains abandoned, but still oozes life. Many are living inside the wreckage. Like the man I saw wander out from one of the ghostly buildings.IMG_2185

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It was time to say goodbye to Detroit. The gorgeous sunset tucks me in for my early am flight. IMG_2184

Some stops I just can’t resist. A mostly-vegan bakery inside an office building in downtown Fort Wayne, Indiana, a city with a dearth of vegan offerings, was one such stop: Pembroke Bakery & Cafe.PicMonkey Collage

Being this was my first bite of food today, I bought a bunch of goodies, including their mini cinnamon chocolate roll, a big cinnamon bun, a berry danish, and their award-winning cayenne chocolate cookie. Sure, it was a bit excessive. But I was just passing through, heading south for several more hours. What if something happened and I needed sustenance enough for two or three?  You can never be too careful.  The truth is that I’d find plenty of sweets to eat in Indiana, and half of these would remain in my car for the overnight. IMG_2023

I had lunch in downtown Indianapolis, which was far more bustling (and hot) than I expected. I headed to the City Market for a taste of Three Carrots, an all-vegan vendor inside this maze of  culinary delights. PicMonkey Collage2I had their Seitan Gyro, by recommendation, with their house-made seitan, cucumber dressing and fresh veggies on top a warm pita. And a side of their potato leek soup. The meal was gloriously messy and delicious though saltiness dominated. Perhaps my tastebuds are dumb right now with my cold?

After, undeterred by my tastebuds, I headed to The Flying Cupcake Bakery, for a taste of their vegan option. I opted for the Vegan Chai, which was yummy with that delightful frosting sugar grit I love in a cupcake. The cake was hearty, almost muffin-like. Delicious! The sweet countergirl let me know that another of their locations in the area had a larger selection of vegan options. Next time.PicMonkey Collage3

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After some time had past, I ate again. This time, in Bloomington at an adorable space that was made for food blogging. I do appreciate a cute and careful aesthetic alongside my vegan eats. The Owlery, whose link lived in my bookmarks for many moons, was the dinner destination. PicMonkey Collage4

I got the beer-battered fish n’ chips. Gosh, I don’t know why. Maybe I wanted a side of fried with my fried main. It was the texture, in the end, that reigned supreme. Such a golden delicious breading! PicMonkey Collage5

I skipped having yet another sweet treat at The Owlery, but only because…IMG_2051

I wanted to hit the all-vegan Rainbow Bakery!!PicMonkey Collage6

It was almost closing time so their case had been emptied quite a bit. But I bought three goodies for motel nibbling. Not that I ending up eating anything at the motel. I just had a photoshoot then packed them up for tomorrow. This is not, after all, an after-school special. (Pictured a Hibiscus donut, Green tea cupcake, and a coconut bacon maple-glazed donut.)IMG_2072Tomorrow I head back to Detroit with a list of things to eat.

Sometime in August, lazily lounging on a couch, I thought it’d be a good idea to move my blog forward to “all states reporting” status. This thought during this determined August, the tail-end of a summer spent stacking my professional credentials, could not have known I’d be inundated with the perpetual mountain of tasks from a chaotic back to school. Nor could it have known I’d be sick and just wanting time to relax… on that same couch.  But I’m here: In Michigan, to report on vegan eats. And tomorrow, in Indiana. States #37 and 38 in my quest country-wide reporting.IMG_1990

First eats of the day, a terrible bagel with some smuggled-in Earth BalanceIMG_1975

After some wrong turns in Detroit, I made it to Seva Restaurant in Ann Arbor for lunch eventually, a landmark vegetarian restaurant serving since 1973.IMG_1999

What’s tough is deciding what to eat when you’re really hungry and know that you will likely never return to the eatery you’re sitting in. I experience this pressure often. But as a general rule, I always get a dish with a house-made cheese option if available. So though it isn’t the most photographic selection, it had chargrilled mushrooms, red & yellow peppers, red onions and zucchini with basil-cashew pesto, house-made almond cheese and vegan aioli on a delicious roll. A great sammy!IMG_1991

Next I headed to Cupcake Station, thee first cupcake shop in Michigan, for one of their vegan option: a Samoa cupcake! You know, Samoa, that fantasticly nostalgic Girl Scouts cookie. So this baby was vanilla cake topped and filled with their yummy chocolate buttercream, rolled in toasted coconut and drizzled with chocolate and caramel. This was a heavenly cupcake! My only criticism is that between being filled and topped with buttercream, it was a bit too much frosting.  Did I just criticize a vegan Samoa cupcake? What?!
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Next, I had to eat something else sweet. Just because… a vegan Ding Dong! I stopped in at Big City Small World Bakery for this second nostalgic vegan options. It was just like a Ding Dong… even left my fingers coated in waxy chocolate. It was a bit small for the price, which you can’t really tell from the pic. PicMonkey Collage3

Then I eventually had dinner at The Lunch Room, an all-vegan eatery with some great standards in their menu. Though I never opt for an Asian dish, especially one that’s on a menu of lesser available vegan eats, my achey limbs wanted this dish–their Pad Thai. That and an Arnold Palmer. I wanted more textures and flavors in this. It was disproportionately noodle, which were creamy and delicious. But it needed those heat-inducing favorites: green onion, garlic, ginger. IMG_2015

Oh I forgot, I went to Schakolad in downtown Ann Arbor, a franchised chocolate shop with a limited selection of dairy-free dark chocolates. As if I needed more sweetness today. PicMonkey Collage

Goodnight, Ann Arbor!

IMG_1710The approaching equinox brings the most beautiful sunrises. Brooklyn looks so much better in gold and pale blue.

DSC_0068I overestimate how many boxes of Crispy Rice to by last week so… naturally I had to buy more Dandies and make more treats.

DSC_0060Holy tomatoes! We reaped a gorgeous pile of these beauties from the garden. Now, what to make??

Coming up for air from the chaos of a new school year, I baked some “12 Men on the Field” cupcakes: rich chocolate cake (I used Chloe‘s celebration cake), vanilla buttercream filling, chocolate ganache-topped with a vegan royal icing football laces. 3 types of icings for every cupcake. IMG_1694

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I’m not the greatest with the royal icing but… in the green Le Creuset, it kind of looks like footballs.  IMG_1702

These were super-rich cupcakes, perfect treat after a long day of work.IMG_1712

I loved this picture because it captured the texture of all three icings. IMG_1716

And more on the sport tip, as the Mets bomb another season, it’s easy to get cheap tickets. We checked out the Ceaser’s Club, which has an indoor, air-conditioned lounge with a full car and cushioned seats, as well as “better” food options for omnis but meh for vegans, like a choose-your-own-adventure salad bar.  IMG_1581

I chose traditional grub: vegan hot dog with tons of the fixins, Nathan’s fries, and a domestic beer. This is a baseball game after all.IMG_1586

In the middle of Back to School chaos, these easy treats are a welcome break. Sure, they’re for my nieces and nephew, but I am going to enjoy a sample of each step, each ingredient.

Ingredient 1: Dandies from Chicago Vegan Foods.  IMG_1675

Ingredient 2, Step 1: Melting the Earth Balance. I’ve been know to lick a knife or two of this vegan buttery spread. I think it should be just a smidge saltier. IMG_1676

Step 2: Melt the marshmallows with the melted EB. These take way more time than regular marshmallows to melt. IMG_1679

Step 3: Mix in the crispies. Not Rice Krispies–Kellogg’s Big Food crud–but “Crispy Rice” from Nature’s Path. This is where the nostalgia kicks in. Watching (and feeling with the spoon) the light, airy crispies being overtaken by gloppy, white marshmallow. IMG_1682

Ok, I guess this is the last step. Pressing the coated marshmallow into a container layered in wax paper. Allow to set and cool. IMG_1685

Ok, I guess you then have to cut them… if you want, I mean. You could just cut it as needed like a cake. DSC_0043

Optional step: Photograph sliced treats with Frankenstein lounging in the porch room in the background.DSC_0046

In my quest of reporting vegan eats near and far, I have grown quite adept at planning trips with maximum “umph.” To follow, my most recent excursion to Philadelphia by way of the Jersey Shore, two destinations with thriving vegan options. In the interest of my hazy Sunday head, I am going to practice the skill I’ll soon ask my students next week, precision in language. PicMonkey Collage4Twisted Tree is a cafe on Cookman Ave in the Jersey Shore’s Asbury Park. Besides having simple vegan lunch options, they’ve got a mostly vegan bakery. I got a slice of their carrot cake.  It had so many nuts and raisins, I kind of missed the “cake” part. The soft cream cheese icing was delightfully airy. Coffee, service and the variety of vegan baked goods makes it a great spot to pick up a goody or two on the way to the beach.

PicMonkey Collage5I was very excited to visit Silverball Museum, a arcade / pinball museum that offers sundrunk boardwalkers relief from the blazing sun. And the best part, you get unlimited play for the duration of your stay! Admission fees depend on how much time you want. I spent more of my time taking pictures of the nostalgic graphics of the machines than I did playing. I highly recommend stopping here if you’re in Asbury Park.

IMG_1304Unlimited Skee Ball, too!

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IMG_1246They have some great pinball machines, including this Guns N’ Roses one. But I was much more into the vintage ones.

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Since we were parked right in front of Mogo, home of a delicious Korean fusion tofu taco, we stopped in for a bite. The flavor-packed taco had chunks of sturdy fried tofu that truly stood up to its toppings, which consisted of assorted pickled delights. They even had a Kimchee Bar so you can dress your taco with even more flavor. My mouth is watering thinking of this taco. After I ate it in like 3 messy bites, I got two refills of shredded daikon. Love that cool heat!PicMonkey Collage7

I mentioned Cookman Creamery in my previous post on the Jersey Shore. I was disappointed to have missed homemade vegan soft serve with homemade vegan whipped cream. Yes, I said homemade. In fact, everything thing in Cookman Creamery is made from scratch by an amazing Mom and daughter pair! This is the kind of business that I love discovering. High standards, made with love, and free of packaging.  PicMonkey Collage8All of Cookman’s flavors are tasted by the discerning decades-dairy-free Mom. She clearly knows a thing or two about really good dairy-free ice cream. And she is not afraid to say is loud and proud: the V-word is everywhere in Cookman! (Although we chuckled about an older woman who pronounced it “v-egg-in” and my Dad’s rendition: “vay-gun.”) Did I mention that they not only have hard coconut-based vegan ice cream with unique flavors (like “Ugly Avocado”), but they have vegan ice cream pies, vegan ice cream pops, vegan “flying saucer”-esque treats, milk shakes, etc etc etc.

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I had to get their Banana split. These are my supporting reasons. 1) I always get the banana split if it’s available. It’s tradition! 2) I can try three flavors of ice cream (I got soft serve vanilla, soft serve chocolate, and hard Ugly Avocado). 3) They had a variety of vegan toppings like homemade chocolate, caramel and strawberry sauces, vegan marshmallow sauce, and homemade vegan whipped cream (the best I’ve tasted). and 4) Being away from my home base, I always choose excess. DSC_0062

What a treat! Cookman’s is the real deal. Truly.
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You know how John Turturro’s character in Box of Moonlight is searching for childhood haunt Splatchee Lake? That is how Morey’s Piers at Wildwood is for me in a way. My family and I used to go to the Jersey Shore when I was a kid and I never forgot this place. It is the Swing Ride that swoops over the boardwalk towards the ocean that I never forgot. (And a Fun House that is no longer there.) So I rode it again. This time not crying. DSC_0078

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On the way out of Wildwood, we hit The Wild Burrito for a sampling of their vegan options. The Wild Burrito isn’t scared to use the v-bomb on their menu, which is so helpful. They make their own seitan, which is also something that a vegan can feel good about supporting. And they have tortilla and plantain crusted fried avocado fries. Bam!
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The avocado fries were the star of our visit, as was the service. The fries were not the greatest value, over $5 for five fries, and they needed some seasoning… but there isn’t much that creamy avocado can’t fix. DSC_0113

Finally, to Philly. Along with many road closure due to a White Linen Party/restaurant pop-up. We made it to Charlie was a sinner, a vegan “speakeasy” in the heart of Philadelphia’s theater district, for a bite of dessert and some ambiance. The bar and eatery, opened by Hip City Veg‘s people, is dark and filled with pretty people. They’ve got a cool name and posh design. But I don’t need that stage show, I just want the food. PicMonkey Collage2I had Charlie’s Chocolate Cake, which was more a fudge brownie in crumbles, topped with strawberry sorbet, cocoa nib, and salted caramel. Like the morning carrot cake, I missed the cake! But the crumbles were rich and decadent. I’ll have to return for a bite of their creative savory dishes.

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And finally, cheese steaks for the road. Because I couldn’t possibly eat another bite. We headed to Blackbird Pizzeria for their delicious vegan seitan cheese steak. The best vegan Philly cheese steak in the city of Brotherly Love. No use going anywhere else. Except a stop for non-vegan cheese steaks for the men in our lives.  PicMonkey Collage3

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With plenty of banana cashew cream leftover from my raw stint, I spooned it into some chocolate cupcakes I made for a friend’s dinner party. IMG_1072

Then I got fancy with the garnish. As I was already late jumping in the shower, I ran with it: toasting coconut (because I subbed canola for coconut oil in the batter) and sauteed banana slices then candied cashews (this was an amazing component!) to hint to that banana-cashew cream in the cupcake’s tummy. IMG_1077

And as if I wasn’t late enough, I had a photoshoot. IMG_1079

My reward, a special zucchini with quite the girth. Check the baby carrot for scale!IMG_1082