Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Craze

Oh boy was this Christmas crazy. Let me paint you a picture - my roommate got gallstones, our kitchen was drowning in red & green sprinkles and christmas cookies, UPS gouged me with their shipping prices, my car died, and 50 gajillion people were visiting from out of town. Don't worry - roommate is out of the hospital, I filled every Christmas order with grace & precision, my landlord's giant pick up truck revived my dinky car, and I got to see my out of town friends...but UPS still gouged me. Phew!

Here's what it looked like: spiced molasses, rice krispy 'trees', oreo truffles, chocolate peppermint bars, toffee bars with almonds & dried cranberries, sugar cookies, snickerdoodles, and buckeyes.

One thing that helped me get through the stressful moments were my customers. Too bad I forgot to take happy photos of a majority of them...p.s. I'm going to be making a happy customers page on my NEW WEBSITE, so if you would like to become a celebrity, send in your photo to mixingbowlchicago@gmail.com

Sean became so excited his head turned into a christmas cookie tin.

Stay tuned for some new projects - Valentine's Day and a month long fundraiser with Mercy For Animals!

Saturday, November 26, 2011


Mixing Bowl Bakery did a bunch of Thanksgiving orders this season! Thanks to loyal & new clients, I had a bunch of sweet potatoes to peel, pumpkins to puree, and tofurkey's to roast. Every dish was homemade - down to the whole pumpkins, seasoned breadcrumbs, cashew cheeze sauce, slowly roasted garbanzo beans, coconut whipped cream, and fried onions for the green bean casserole. This was the first delivery service that Mixing Bowl Bakery has offered and it was a huge success. Every dish was inspired by Grandma Lawson's thanksgiving dinners.

Hummus Trio - Roasted Red Pepper, Garlic Lemon, & Sesame

Stuffing with Leeks, Mushrooms, & Homemade Tempeh Sausage

Macaroni & Cashew Cheese mixed with Cheddar Daiya & topped with Homemade Seasoned Breadcrumbs

Green Bean Casserole with Homemade Baby Bella Gravy & Homemade Fried Onions

Maple Sweetened Sweet Potatoes with Maple & Brown Sugar Topping

Seitan Tofurky Roast filled with Stuffing & topped with Homemade Mushroom & Onion Gravy

Pumpkin Cheesecake in a Homemade Gingersnap Crust topped with Coconut Whipped Cream

I made a couple of these dishes for my family's thanksgiving...and I have to go eat the leftovers now.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

My Quest with Vegan with a Vengeance

As I mentioned in the last post, I'm reading Julie & Julia...yep...still a little embarrassed, but whateves, it inspired this new project. I get TONS of vegan cookbooks...my family has this habit of latching onto a single interest that they know you have and buying you every possible gift that could be related to it for your every birthday and Christmas. Exhibit A: being a Japanese Studies major and MENTIONING that you tend to OCCASIONALLY SEMI-like hello kitty. Who has a hello kitty toaster & waffle iron? This girl. So, needless to say, I have a lot of vegan cookbooks...unfortunately, thanks to the internet, I rarely use them. Lately, I've been really getting into cookbooks and not so much diggin' the internet recipes. I've decided to pick one cookbook each month, tab the recipes I want to make out of it, and blog about it. My first month has to be Vegan with a Vengeance. A staple that I've barely explored. For some reason my copy has detached binding, hello kitty post it notes all over it (see?!), and food mucked all over it. So, I've used it a little bit, but only for a handful of those recipes I make over and over. Really, I haven't even scratched the surface, but now I'm gonna really get in there and see all this vengeance everyone is talkin' 'bout. Lucky lucky Adrienne got to eat lunch with Isa!!

First, I made the Fauxstess cupcakes. Anyone else pass by this recipe, really want to make it, notice the 4 step process, close the book, and eat a little debby in defiance? Welp, that was me, until now! I decided to whip these little pain in the asses up for one of the best vegans I know. Evan's birthday was this past Saturday and I had to make her something special. They turned out amazing. This recipe really worried me...Isa told me to use electric beaters to make the batter...???!!!!...rule NUMBER 1 in vegan baking - NEVER over mix the batter...but I JUST DID IT. I was also worried about the fluffy vanilla icing for the filling. I thought the caster sugar would make it too grainy, but it actually tasted amazing as a filling in the cupcakes. Highly recommended. Take the time to make these!

Gingerbread Apple Pie - really awesome...I'm eating a slice right now.

Garlicky Kale with Tahini Dressing & Tempeh White Gravy with Biscuits
Both really good. I didn't read the tahini dressing directions right -- I didn't briefly sautee the garlic first...so it was REALLY garlicky kale. The gravy was super good, but I had to thin it out a lot...I think I prefer a slightly soupy-er gravy.

Ginger Pear Waffles - part of the weekly "Go Hard Brunch Series" with Seth
yea...they were alright.

Zombie Vegan Meatloaf...Vegan with a Vengeance has a recipe for zombie vegan meatloaf? NO. NOT THAT COOL. All Evan.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Pumpkins, Meal Deliveries, Dinner Parties, & Apple Pie

It's been a long time, dear readers, but I got a few excuses...well maybe it's just been a severe case of writers block...but I just haven't felt like writing. I guess what really got me back on the horse was reading Julie & Julia...yes...I'm embarrassed I'm reading some book that has a movie based off of it starring Meryl Streep & Amy Adams, but I can't pass up a sassy woman who takes a culinary challenge. I stumbled upon the book in the library one day noticing the subtitle "cooking dangerously for one year" and I couldn't help but check it out since I feel like I'm going the same route.

The main reason why I haven't written on this blog is because I've been working on a lot of stuff concerning Mixing Bowl Bakery. Small stuff includes making a yelp page (if you left a nice review it would mean the world to me!), making halloween specials, and constructing a mailing list and newsletter (having some technical difficulties on that one, but no worries, I luckily have a saavy uncle who can help me out with my computer incompetencies). The main project that I have been preparing to launch includes my meal delivery service.

The Mixing Bowl Bakery is expanding to include a meal delivery service to support my passion in cooking & baking, advocating a healthy vegan lifestyle, and increasing accessibility to healthy foods. Meals will be prepared in a commercial kitchen space and delivered to your door, while supporting Midwest farmers through the sourcing of local and sustainably grown produce from Growing Power and the Chicago Women’s Skillshare. Growing Power is “a national nonprofit organization and land trust supporting people from diverse backgrounds, and the environments in which they live, by helping to provide equal access to healthy, high-quality, safe and affordable food for people in all communities.” The produce received in a weekly CSA share will inspire each meal. During the winter months, produce comes from Growing Power’s greenhouses in Milwaukee, the Rainbow Farmer’s Cooperative, and small-scale, locally or family owned wholesalers.

I founded Chicago Women's Skillshare last spring through the desire of forming an intentional community of women. This organization aims to create a women's only space where learning and teaching are used as mutually beneficial and empowering tools. We have hosted three gardening skillshares in the Campbell Co-op Garden where we have planted summer crops and cold crops in our own raised bed. The onions, beans, and leafy greens will be included in the meal delivery.

A special thank you goes out to Adrienne over at Crack the Plates Meal Delivery for inspiring and supporting me to take the next step in expanding my business. With the support of Adrienne, close friends, family, and my Chicago vegan community, I have decided to follow the scary, yet exhilarating process of identifying myself as an entrepreneur. I want to dedicate more time and energy towards feeding my community healthy meals and satisfying sweets. As I commit myself to this mission, I ask for your continuing support throughout the process of this new project!

I thought the perfect launch to my new project would start with throwing a dinner party for my loyal customers and strongest supporters.

First Course:

Roasted blue potatoes with cashew cream garnished with dried parsley.

Second Course:

Mixed baby greens salad topped with 3 varieties of golden beets, daikon, and carrots drizzled with a agave sweetened soy sauce based dressing.

Third Course:

Kabocha & pumpkin soup blended with coconut milk and Indian spices garnished with roasted kabocha seeds.
Paired with a whole wheat mixed grain bread.

Fourth Course:

Breaded seitan cutlets with mushroom gravey matched with heirloom herbed mashed potatoes and red bunched carrots marinated in a sweet & spicy syrup.

Fifth Course:

Red velvet cupcakes with cream cheeze frosting.

The party was a HUGE success! Good conversation and amazing company made the days of planning and preparation for the meal well worth it. Mixing Bowl is at its 9 month anniversary and I can't believe all of the amazing people I have met through it.

In other news...I went to the Bucktown Apple Pie Contest today. Sound familiar???

Gaaahhh, just kidding! That's what I found when I googled Uncle Apple half expecting to see my pie as the first hit. Here he is!! Ahhh...what a site for sore eyes. This year they didn't have ONE vegan option. Yea..I was pissed. I guess it's my own damn fault for not entering the contest, but last year there were at least a couple vegan pies. Welp! Uncle Apple is coming back next year with a vengeance so fierce those pie eaters won't know what hit them.

But...we had fun

Stephanie and I didn't want to stand in line for face painting like last year...but we had to document our one year anniversary.

Monday, July 18, 2011

New York: Cupcakes & Coney Island

Before I left Chicago, I mapped out a vegan bakery tour of New York so I could eat the raddest cupcakes the big apple has to offer. Well...after facilitating a jam packed 8 day session for the debut of a culinary arts program, I didn't have much energy to complete the whole tour. The first stop (and what ended up being the last stop) was Babycakes. I put the wrong address in my phone so I ended up combing through the streets of Chinatown...which pretty much did me in. Magically, Chinatown ended and Babycakes was right in front of my face.


creepin' a lil' more

I ordered a red velvet cupcake and helen had a carrot cupcake. The frosting was pretty awesome, but the cake was a little too crumbly for me...BUT pretty freakin' good for something that's soy free, vegan, and agave sweetened. I really enjoyed trying their baked goods since I've always wondered what their baked goods tasted like seeing as I have their pretty complicated and meticulous cookbook. If anyone else has their cookbook you know what I'm talkin' about - coconut oil (that shit's expensive), all different kinds of gluten-free flour, xanthan gum, etc. It's not like you can go into your pantry and make something from the Babycakes cookbook on a whim. You gotta plan that shit and go to Whole Foods.

Aside from baked goods, the concept and the style of the place was pretty cute and kitchy - right up my alley. The women at the bakery even wore 50's diner-y outfits and bright red lipstick to heighten this kitchy theme...in an extremely small, crowded, and hot kitchen...this is a feminist can of worms I won't open right now.

I also went to Lula's - BEST PLACE IN NEW YORK FOR VEGANS (I had cake batter flavored soft serve), Red Bamboo (buffalo chicken wings AMAZING and a philly steak sandwich - too much bread not enough fake stuff), Terri (pretty good butterfinger milkshakes - could be thicker - and a chocolate vanilla cupcake - all around yummy), Curly's (reasonably priced huge and amazing entrees - lower east side, gotta go).

But now for my most favorite place ever ever...coney island. All I want in life are carnival rides, cotton candy, old school photo booths, and the beach.

you got the crazy murals

and the wonder wheel

and photo booths with sassy friends

and this boy...who patrolled the beach...with his motherfin' socks on...??!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Chicago Women's Skillshare - Gardening

Chicago finally has its own women's only skillshare! If you're a woman, live/are visiting Chicago, and would like to contribute or learn a skill, add yourself to the group on facebook to stay in the loop. This group was mainly inspired by the desire to initiate an intentional community of women. I realized that I have so many unique and amazing friends that would benefit from both learning new skills and teaching others their own amazing talents.
Here's my schpeel:
Chicago Women's Skillshare aims to create a women's only space where learning and teaching are used as mutually beneficial and empowering tools. Women are invited to a monthly skill share hosted on the first Sunday of the month. "Skill" is an extremely open ended term and is completely dependent on what you feel like you should share with the group. This could include teaching a hands on skill - knitting, fixing bikes, cooking, gardening, playing tennis - an informative skill - teaching a language, talking about geography, discussing your favorite author - or even telling a story.

Check out the photos of our first skillshare on gardening at the Campbell Co-op Garden.

Showin' off our dirty hands and cover crop

Our raised bed complete with carrots, beans, beets, swiss chard, potatoes, cucumbers, and tomatoes (seedlings from Thomas Jefferson's estate provided by Slow Food Chicago)
Our squash mound

Giving the low down on compost for the neighborhood

Cleaning out the 3 bin composting system

Collecting our edible wild greens for a snack

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

It's Summa Time, Y'all!

Thank the fucking lord. It's summer time. It's been a long winter and a nonexistent spring and I'm ready to break out the sunblock, the mini grill, and All Girl Summer Fun Band. This memorial day I went to Millennium Park for the free concert...I don't even remember who played, I just go there to drink beer in the grass with my friends. I made homemade oreos from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. I finally had an excuse to use the 100 set of cookie cutters that I found at the thrift store last fall. I was tempted by the money sign and bike cutters, but settled for hearts and a brontosaurus.

After talking about my heart and dinosaur shaped oreos, I believe this is an appropriate time to announce my nomination for the Adorable Blog Award! A kind thank you goes out to the ladies at Girrrl!!! comic and Things I Like.

Now I guess I have to tell you 10 things about me...
1. I really love fireworks. I carry snappers around in my bag everywhere I go and the bottom of it is covered in saw dust. Sometimes they fall out of the box and snap in my bag and it scares me and everyone around me.
2. I'm REALLY good at hula hooping.
3. I'm the real life Harry Potter. I have terrible dreams with voldemort in them and my friends and I go horcrux hunting.
4. I think carnivals, cotton candy, and fair rides are the best things in the world.
5. I'm passionate about animal rights and feminism and use baking as my primary form of activism.
6. I love my job as a cooking instructor for children - I get to teach kids about vegetables and I turn moms on to tofu and tvp.
7. I enjoy breaking rules.
8. I will kill you in a game of four square.
9. I have an insatiable desire for sugar.
10. I enjoy being a bakery snob.

I will now nominate this award to my wonderful friend Adrienne over at Crack the Plates. She named her cats "Baby Rar" & "Baby Perl"...I mean...come on.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Adventures in Pad Thai

Who knew that something so annoying and completely metal would push me to finally teach myself to make vegan pad thai. Most of the Asian food markets in Chicago are way north all the way in uptown...which is a huge pain in the ass. After doing some sleuthing, I discovered JoongBoo Market (AKA Chicago Food Corporation) on Kimball, conveniently somewhat near my apartment. I am proud to say that I've officially found my Asian market. Has anyone else always had their go-to Asian market wherever they have lived? Well I have. And it's taken me a year to find one in Chicago...but it was worth the wait.

Here is a shot of all the amazing stuff I got at JoongBoo: concentrated cooking tamarind, roasted peanuts, firm tofu, silken tofu, rice noodles, green onion, cilantro, bean sprouts, red cabbage, sweet chili sauce, and anko & taro mochi.

Eat shit, vegan metal chef. I'm better than you.

I mainly used this recipe as a base, but changed a whole lot of things. I didn't put in carrot, broccoli, or shallots and added fried tofu. I also doubled the tamarind sauce, added about 1/3 c. more soy sauce and agave nectar. I found that it was really bland without the additions.

Making pad thai is easy!! Now I'm going to save boku bucks instead of ordering it all the time from Penny's.