Friday, December 23, 2011

Naughty or Nice Winter Treat

Though the ten months of the year in Texas, I tend to forget that it can actually get cold here in Austin. The best cure for frozen fingertips and toes is a nice homemade cup of hot chocolate with a nip (or two) of whiskey.

I've been loving my mexican hot chocolate with soy milk and a shot of whiskey. Nothing like this winter treat to warm you to the bones and scoop away all your chilly chills.

I veganize this Rachel Ray recipe: soy milk instead of whole, and use agave instead of sugar, and go a little lighter on the chocolate chips, but you can mix according to your own taste. Of course, also add a nip of something naughty. Also good, a shot of malibu or peppermint schnapps (thanks for those suggestions Jody!) Delish!

Add a little bit of soy whipped topping and you are ready to call it christmas.

Cinnaholic - Reliving the Summer

Its taken me ages to go through all the summer photos, but when the backyard thermometer hits the 30s its nice to browse through all my adventures during those warm summer months.

This was my trip back home to California in July. I had heard about Cinnaholic when it was first opening in Berkeley and had dreamed of walking through those doors and being hit like a ton of bricks with endless options for vegan decadence. Finally that day came, and it was heavenly.

As I waited to meet up with my CA friend, Sara, and my sister Marci who was driving up from LA to hang with me fresh out of Texas. I had lots to look at in their menuSince there was just too much to choose from, I ended up getting four mini buns all with different frostings and toppings. I loved just about every bite, though after the root beer float frosting with cookie dough toppings, I had reached my sweet limit and couldn't quite finish. So good though! I want them to open shop in Austin!

I ordered, Maple frosting with hazelnuts, Butterscotch frosting with pecans, lemon frosting with raspberries, and the kiss of sugary death, root beer frosting with chocolate chip cookie dough! ahhh the insanity!

My buddy Sara ordered one regular-sized cinnamon role and frosted each side differently, maple on half, and root beer on the other.
My favorites were the lemon and raspberry, and the maple and pecan. I am looking forward to the next time I'm out this way to indulge some more. I was also informed, that they DO SHIP! I might just have to break down and order some for my birthday coming up next month in January. Seriously. Out of this world.

We were happy, sugared out vegans!

Until we meet again, I will miss you Cinnaholic! You had the best staff working, and your selection is made from the dream of vegan dreams covered in cinnamon magic.

Daily Juice Cafe and Sweet Ritual

Two Hyde Park favorites all under one roof!

After a late night of watching Die Hard and drinking too much christmas peppermint schnapps and vegan hot chocolate, the only cure is a hearty, raw vegan lunch with my love at Daily Juice Cafe. We ordered two prototype smoothies (my favorite), the rawkin tacos (for two) and mock tuna boats (for two). Ah-maze-ing. We also had a small side dish of their homemade hot sauce which was pretty good (though could have been spicier - we are hard to please when it comes to heat). Truly, some mazin' eats.

My first bite at Sweet Ritual. They opened just last week. I ordered their Vegan Vanilla soft serve with homemade vegan butterscotch sauce. So freakin good in winter, I can imagine how this will really hit the spot come summer time. Check them out! 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Vegan Thanksgiving 2011

This year I did a small feast for two, the first Thanksgiving my husband and I spent in our new House. I also attempted my first EVER cheesecake. It turned out amazingly well, which I think is going to be dangerous for my hips.

So very thankful for the health and happiness in my life. Wishing everyone a lot of warmth and gratitude for the end of this year and to the ones ahead. love from texas, xoxo

Stuffing, organic salad, biscuits, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, mushroom gravy, pumpkin pie cheesecake, and my usual chocolate mousse with raspberries. Yumm! Hot apple cider and pinot.

Here's my pumpkin pie cheesecake, and soy whip canned whipped cream, coconut ice cream, and silk nog with whiskey. A delicious feast complete!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Vegan Peanut Butter Cups

I made one of my favorite party treats for this year's third annual pumpkin carving contest at our house.

Vegan peanut butter cups. I like Alicia Silverstone's recipe, but there are a lot of ways you can modify the recipe (nuts or no nuts on top, gram crackers or none, crunchy or smooth pb, or use almond butter, or other kinds of nut-butter etc). Its really simple, and always so delicious. I added some kitchy decorations because that's just how I roll.

And since there were leftovers I brought the rest into the office the next day. None of them could believe they were vegan ("because they taste so good!"). Seriously, vegan food rules, and isn't just peas and carrots with a side of raisins for dessert. Mmm mmm good!

And here's a cute one of my pups with this year's pumpkins. Happy Halloween Y'all!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Fashion: Shopping in Austin, Filin.

Ladies, if you like beautiful treasures (check out my new power stone crystal necklace and feminine metal spike below)... head over to Filin. This new boutique has been open for 2 weeks, and tonight was the Grand Opening.

  • 1 512.441.3700Work

  • 2110 South Lamar Unit E
  • Austin, TX 78704


The owner, Emily Antonetti-Elford is a close friend who I worked with years ago at Pink Salon on South Congress (A salon that offered astrology and tarot readings, local-handmade mica mineral makeup, pretty dresses by local designers and much more than just hair stuff).

Emily has put together and hosted various clothing swaps for/with all her fashionable girlfriends (i feel lucky enough to be considered a part of this circle). There is no better way to recycle (and save money) than to trade clothes and make a party of it! Emily also has her own clothing label, V.V. Lutz that her and her sister Megan own/run (I've done some modeling for them in the past shown below).

One thing is for sure, for as long as I've known her (for as long as I've lived in Austin) Emily's always had style. Her new shop, Filin, in the '04 on South Lamar is for lack of better words, "So Emily." Everything she has in there is beautiful, stylish and interesting, just like her. Tonight I picked up these treasures, and am looking forward to shopping for clothes during my next visit. Support local businesses, and treat yourself to pretty things. Win/win.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Dining Out: Cinnaholic, Berkeley CA

Its been a long time coming... Remember when I first mentioned Cinnaholic? I still haven't made the trip to taste these amazing vegan cinnamon buns, but that will all change in 3 days! My mouth is already drooling in anticipation. Full review will be updated soon. How am I supposed to choose a flavor combo? Look at this menu!

Gardening: Sprouts and Neighbor's Gifts

Buying your first home as a twenty-something is equal parts exciting and terrifying. The looming decades of debt ahead of you (though not unlike the debts racked up from college). Debts aside, what if our neighbors are lunatics? Well we were lucky enough to fall in love with our old pile of bricks, and have awesome, generous neighbors too.

When we moved in they had brought over a big meat dish, and when we answered the door they asked if we ate meat. I told them that we were vegans, and so they took their huge casserole dish back with them. It was sort of an awkward moment, and I didn't want to be unappreciative, but I also didn't want to cross my moral ground and accept a dish that would just be fed to our dogs or wasted. So I was honest. We didn't hear back from them for months after that. That was, not until their garden harvest was ready...

Thinking that we offended them with our vegan-ness, we were surprised to see one of their grade-school sons at our door come spring time. He brought us a large bag full of veggies from their home, organic garden. Tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, potatoes, and they all tasted so amazing. Later they came back and brought us a watermelon!

They grew a WATERMELON. With all the gifts that their garden provided, I got extra excited to learn how to make my own veggies. I'm starting, and this is a learning process. Our composter is full of good material for our fall planting season, and in the mean time I turned my first batch of seeds (tomatoes and bell peppers) into sprouts! Its like magic. Hope these keep growing... wish me luck.

Recipes: French Press and Chocolate Chip Cookies

My favorite breakfast lately is a strong cup of french press coffee (I buy the shade-grown, organic, fair trade beans from costco) and some vegan chocolate chip cookies. If you haven't invested in a French Press yet and love coffee, what are you waiting for? Its so worth it. The trick to chocolate chip cookies is to make all the dough, but only bake as many cookies as you want to eat. I save the rest of the dough in a tupperware and put it in the fridge so I can make fresh cookies whenever I want!

French Press:
  • coffee beans
  • grinder (tastes best when freshly ground)
  • french press
  • tea kettle (or hot water)
  • soy milk (or other dairy free milk)
  • sweetener (i use agave)

-Grind beans to a rough/large ground (I set my grinder to 5-4).
-Rinse out french press with hot water
-I like my coffee strong, so I add 1/3 of a cup of ground for every cup of water (test a few times to get the taste you prefer)
-Put the kettle on the stove for hot water (remove just before boiling rapidly)
-Put grounds into french press, add water and stir with a chopstick (or whatever's long enough to reach the bottom without burning your fingers)
-Let sit for 5-10 minutes, longer if you like your coffee stronger.
-Once the grounds settle, press the plunger down evenly and slowly.

Pour the best cup of coffee ever! I add a tiny bit of agave, and vanilla organic soy milk.

  • cup of earth balance (softened)
  • slightly over-full 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • slightly over-full 1/2 cup of vegan white sugar
  • 2 EnerG egg replacements (or 1 and 1/2 large banana smashed and beaten with a fork)
  • teaspoon of vanilla
  • 2 and 1/4 cups of whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 bag of vegan chocolate chips (many semi-sweet chips are vegan, same with dark chocolate chips- but always read the package first)
  • 1 cup of chopped walnuts
  • (optional 1/2 cup of oats)

-mix together the earth balance, sugars, "eggs" and vanilla
-slowly stir in all the dry ingredients (I use a sift to make sure there's not lumps): flour, baking soda, salt.
-Add chocolate chips, walnuts, and any other ingredients you like (oats, dried cranberries etc of your choice)
-preheat oven to 350
-place cookie dough directly onto an un-greased cookie sheet (just as many as you can eat, the rest of the dough you can save for later)
-Once oven's heated, put in oven 15 minutes +/- depending on your stove (test with a fork to make sure they are done, no dough should stick to the fork).
-Let cool, and serve
-Put rest of the dough in tupperware, and put in your fridge for later.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Life: Four-Year Wedding Anniversary

As of June 23rd, it had been four whole years since my husband and I walked down the path on the headlands of Mendocino together to say our vows. The ocean kissing us with salty air and the wind giving us blessings (and challenging my veil to do the best helicopter propeller impersonation). It was the best day! The reception of course had all vegan cuisine, half catered, half potluck, and the most delectable vegan cake that I've ever had, that my step-mom made. All the guests couldn't believe it was vegan (as if vegan cakes couldn't be delicious haha). It turned out beautifully. Wow. FOUR years already.

To celebrate, we took ourselves out to The Steeping Room. Its fairly close to our house, and I had been hearing about it for a long time. There are tons of vegan menu options, (tea cookies, and sweets- cupcakes and such included), and more teas than you can shake a stick at. This place a great! Aside from being smack-dab in the middle of The Domain. That place sort of creeps me out, because its like a tiny part of L.A. has been transplanted into Austin. Seriously. Once you enter I think you are beamed to an isolated section of Los Angeles. It sorta gives me the willies. But I digress. The Steeping Room was great.

 I had the vegan cesear salad (cashew cesear dressing) and the TTLT (tempeh, tofu, lettuce and tomato). Jason had the large spring rolls, with extra hot sauce (which surprisingly filled him up). Here's their menu.

I ordered an iced Moroccan mint green tea, and he had the fresh lemonade. Both were super tasty, and my food was so good and filling I didn't have room for the vegan double chocolate cupcake that the waitress kept trying to persuade me into (usually it works, but I was too full after eating every last bite of my plate- i mean everything ON my plate haha).

After the Steeping room we went to see Super 8 (we both love Sci Fi). It was so awesome! And to be super indulgent, we had made reservations at the Gold Class Cinema (also in the Domain), where we had complimentary popcorn (vegan- no butter- most theater popcorn is made with canola oil in the machine- no butter unless added, always ask first though), and ice water. They also provided clean, plush, fuzzy blankets to wrap up in while we hit the electronic buttons to extend out our foot rests and snuggle into the most comfortable, ridiculously luxurious theater seats ever. Since they have in-seat service, I of course also ordered a fancy mixed drink with champagne, pureed strawberries and mint that was amazing (no pic, I was watching the movie!).

Here's a pic of us during the end credits Such a fun night!
We exchanged gifts as well, he got me my own kindle (so I don't keep stealing his), and I am looking forward to adding some vegan cookbooks, vegan gardening books, amongst others. Right now I'm reading the paperback versions of, "The Vegan Girl's Guide to Life," by Melisser Elliott (I met her at a vegan meet up a few years ago and she was totally awesome. I recommend her book!), and also reading, "The Sexual Politics of Meat - A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory" by Carol J. Adams that I picked up at a recent clothing swap. Very theory-rich so you have to be in the mood for that. Comment if you have any good vegan book recs for me, I'm always interested in book recs! :)

My gift for him was a das keyboard. Ever since I started working there, he's been asking me for one, so I finally made it happen. Since he's a gamer, I of course also got him the gaming keycap set as well. This is true nerdy, geek love.

Happy anniversary Jason! To many years to come. <3

Gardening: New Discoveries at Our New (Old) Home

When we moved into our new place it was December in Texas. Everything was brown, all the plants in the backyard, all the trees, and we didn't think anything was even alive.

Then came spring. In the following months we discovered we have pomegranate trees (two large, very fruitful ones), rose bushes, passion flowers, lilies, and all kinds of flora that is alive and well but had just been dormant for the winter months.

I am making it a new goal to learn how to grow our own veggie garden. With the house also came a green house that so far I've started sprouts of tomatoes and bell peppers (totally the wrong time of year to plant seeds, but they are already starting to sprout so I guess I'm doing something right). Its so wonderful to have a yard we can call our own. In the fall I am hoping to focus a lot of time, energy and love into some raised beds and landscaping our backyard with edibles (lets just hope the dogs don't dig everything up).

Watch our backyard story unfold in pictures:

This is what everything looked like in December when we moved in (and check out our lil buddy the albino squirrel that lives in the front yard oak tree). I was trying to be artistic with a dew covered spider web.

 After just moving in, this is the view from the living room, into the attached greenhouse (excuse the mess). Pictured is Zombie.

First rose discovery...

 ...and they kept coming...

 ...then these beauties appeared. They are HUGE (picture with me for scale)... and smell absolutely amazing.

Meanwhile, what used to be two large bundles of sticks started to sprout leaves, and finally all these gorgeous bright red flowers began appearing... hmm....

We have ourselves two pomegranate trees!

Things started to fill out some more, and even with our severe draught, the leaves have managed to grow back and add some green to our backyard (that big round orb is our composter, getting some good material going for the fall!) Note the red puppy in the flower bed on the right. He's such a big goofball!

Above on the left, this bush with the yellow flowers was also a large pile of brown sticks when we moved in. There are several of these built-in planters filled with this stuff around our backyard... not sure what it is, but the leaves are shaped like mint, and it smells like mint (perhaps its mint?) didn't know mint blossomed so maybe not?... in any case its pretty and smells good. Here comes the puppy! as usual :)

The most recent surprise has been these amazing, weird flowers, (passion flowers?). They are so fragrant, and are really cool. I love them!

We're looking forward to what's in store for the next months to come...

Animals: Mayfield Park, Austin, TX

I recently took my first trip to the Mayfield Park nature preserve, where there are dozens of wild peacocks roaming the grounds of this beautiful historical garden.

The experience was completely magical. I didn't realize peacocks could fly, watching their full wing spans push their enormous tails up into flight and land in the various tree branches overhead was an experience unlike any I've ever had. So awesome.

I highly recommend visiting if you're in Austin. You can bring a picnic, sit by the koi ponds, walk through the garden trails, and there's no charge. Just remember to bring your camera. Its no wonder they offer the space for weddings, but only for brides who don't mind being upstaged. If my husband and I ever renew our vows I think this would be the place to do it. Here are some photos I took on my iphone...