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Not that I need another reason to eat an all-vegan apple-themed dinner by an aspiring chef, but my birthday is here again. And a Monday night dinner with some dear, old friends is just what I needed to start celebrating. But it was Da’Ves Lee Malone, the sweet and delightfully timid chef of Sprouting Dreams, who was special lady of the evening. We were lucky enough to be part of her very first Pop-up dinner, hosted at Brooklyn’s V-Spot.  The 4-course meal was all about apples.

DSC_0043Course 1: Mini sweet peppers stuffed with soy sausage and diced Apples along with a carrot bacon-wrapped apple bite. Tender, delicious bites. A dance of sweet and savory on a pepper dance floor. I wanted at least 5 more of these bites.

DSC_0046Course 2: Apple Forest Salad, radicchio salad with thinly sliced apples, shiitake bacon dressed in a walnut vinaigrette. A chef’s weight can be measured in how they craft a salad. Da’Ves made a mean one, each bite had something wonderful to offer.

DSC_0050Course 3: Seared Seitan Steak with bourbon-poached apples and caramelized onions over a bourbon apple cider reduction along with roasted carrots and Brussels sprouts. This was my favorite course. Seitan basked in this umptious reduction, moistened yet sturdy. Poached apples and caramelized onions balanced texture and sweetness. Then roasted veggies became sponges to clean surface area of plate.

DSC_0052Course 4: Apple Fritters with caramel cream cheese and candied pecans. Apple infused each bite of these fritters. It was like a battered a deep-fried apple cake, I think? Cashew-based caramel cream cheese was extraordinary. Bravo, Chef Da’Ves!

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A special milestone for my Mom deserved pretty piped cupcakes with some color.


As requested, chocolate cupcakes with vanilla icing.

Happy 70th La Mar!


1944 candies and my Jack Purcells.

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DSC_0007It’s my birthday and I didn’t have to make my own cake! This is kind of a first. Thanks to The Electrician and Sweet to Lick, Long Island’s all-vegan bakery, I need not spend my day baking my cake. It’s orange creamsicle. And it’s spectacular, as those gorgeous little pipings indicate.

PicMonkey Collage1.jpgMy family loved it, too! My dad noting, “I’m not just saying that.” (Which makes me wonder if he was “just saying that” about my own baked goods. Haha.) With the soft dollops of orange and vanilla, it was a big-time crowd pleaser. I only let them eat one slice (evil laughter) and quickly packed it up so I could enjoy it during the week.

IMG_5511Aah, I love the month of October. Besides my birthday, there’s Halloween. As a kid I used to spend my birthday money buying halloween candy and costume stuff. Luckily The Electrician knew I was hoping to nab these Halloween treats from Chicago Vegan Foods. I am a true sucker for confections.

IMG_5514Happy October days!

Remember this? Creepshow was one of my favorite movies as a kid. Having older siblings, I began watching horror movies at a very young age. Who knows the psychological effects this has had on my development and outlook.  Anyway, this past weekend was Father’s Day! So I wanted to try something different for my Dad. You see, he is always trying new things. While the rest of my family shy away from vegan foods (even after 15 years of veganism), my dad always gives it a try. And when we order in on birthdays and special events, he rarely gets the same thing twice. I decided to whip up a special bundt cake to honor his adventurous tastes. But it also had to be good… So I tried Hannah’s Blueberry Lemon Bundt Cake.

It was a gorgeous and delicious batter. I wanted to drink it. Thank goodness I do not use egg in my baking as I’d sure to be infected with salmonella with the amount of raw batter and dough I spoon in my mouth. I improvised with the recipe a little bit, being short on yogurt, by adding more milk to the batter. Though the cake was a pleaser, this small change watered down a bit of the cake’s sweetness and affected the texture. That’s what I love about baking. The precision required.

The lemon glaze was nice but a thick opaque dripped glaze would have enticed my family a bit more. The thinness didn’t present well.

How I love a good marble! The thinner blueberry batter made thin blue ribbons in the remaining thick, lemony batter. Next time, FRESH blueberries for a better bunch of blue!

My critiques aside, the cake was a big hit! A tasty summer cake–zesty and lively. Now, I better start brainstorming for dad’s birthday cake next month!

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I love teaching. Though it took many years to put myself through college and my student loans for grad school will be with me for decades to come, I’ve never felt more content and have never been more inspired. And it’s not just the vegan chocolate birthday cake running through my body. I have the best job in the world.

But I have to admit, the delicious vegan cake almost brought me to tears. For a foodie, the gesture is grand. As if spending my day with a bunch of 10 year olds wasn’t rewarding enough, there’s cake and cards and a disarming outpour of love only capable from those steeped in freedom and in innocence: children.

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The Upper sides of the isle of Manhattan might as well be in another state. I’m rarely there. I despise the 4-5-6 trains, and I still don’t know how on Earth to get to the Uptown 6 from Houston street. But I’ve traveled farther and wider for some high-end all-veganness. So uptown in the downpour it’d be, to meet my gal CandyPenny for a sophisticated birthday dinner at V-Note, an all-vegan bistro on the Upper East Side. The start of my birthday season.

I kind of have a rule while traveling to other cities for vegan fare: order an appetizer, entree and dessert for you don’t know when you’d be back. The same is true for the UES of Manhattan. So for an appetizer, Lentil Rings: French lentils and root veggies wrapped and baked in a delicate phyllo dough wading in a shallow pool of pistachio mustard. These were a nice start with a subtle mustard kick. I was so hungry after a long day I ate them way too quickly. The savoriness and texture perfect for a starter.

I wasn’t able to distinguish many recognizable flavors in the Rings. This was a minor detail.

I knew I’d feast on seitan but how? Would I choose the medallion cutlets in the French peppercorn sauce with the pureed potato-cauliflower? Or the Scaloppini with the white wine and lemon-caper sauce with mash and kale? In need of a real salty fix, I went with the Seitan Scaloppini, trying my darnedest to bite slowly and not ask for a straw to suck up the remaining sauce. Ah, seitan done well.

Though the dimly lit restaurant wasn’t the best for food photography, this captures all the layers in their glory.

I opted for a fruit-based dessert, though this is not usually my thing. Partly because I wasn’t all too impressed with the dessert selection. My Drunk Fruit Parfait was brandy-infused peach and mango, pecan oat crumble, port-infused black and blue berries topped with a delicate vanilla cream. It was delightful.

Thank you CP for a wonderful birthday meal. xo

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I went vegan in 1996, making it my year 14.

Now that’s a reason to celebrate. Or at least whip up a nice graphic.

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Happy Birthday CandyPenny! It was the lady’s choice for dinner so we hit Abistro, an upscale yet homy spot for a quality meal in Fort Green, Brooklyn. Abistro is most certainly not a vegan restaurant though tofu is able to be subbed in the majority of their entrees. They sure know their medium and the value of a well-dressed, beautifully presented dish.

We started with the only veg-friendly appetizer special, plantains drenched in a sweet and tangy sauce. Though I am a huge fan of ripe plantains, a pair of old gym shoes would taste good with this sauce on it! Notice the slightly burry picture, the result of my hunger pangs. 

This is what made the venture to Fort Green worth it. A half order of the Charette’s Seared Marinated Tofu: braised kale, sauteed fresh strawberries, crimini mushrooms and a spiced yucca cake in a strawberry vinaigrette, a dish I spied on the vegguide, which I pour over often, having the most thorough listing of veg-friendly options. My only complaint was the disproportionate ratio of kale to other ingredients. The strawberry worked and the beet on top, heavenly. Despite its total yum, I was glad I chose the half order.

Em’s plate. She subbed tofu in one of their fish dishes. It had artichoke hearts in it. Do you need more than that?

If you want attention from the general public around you, you need not compromise your modesty in a revealing garment of clothing, your blouse undone to here and your skirt split up to there [source]. All you need to do is carry around a plate of food, an empirical plate of food. In a city that barely acknowledges its 8 million pacing swiftly about, day-mayors and sidewalk loiterers, policemen and groups of two or more often partake in the social opportunity a traveling plate of food offers. This time, it was CandyPenny‘s birthday cake: toasted coconut topped chocolate loaf. 

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