Friday, July 31, 2009

... my vegan, gluten-free brethren

various gluten-free flours

i am a die-hard, to-the-core, butter-eggs-flour-sugar kind of baker. mostly organic, always from scratch. yet i can sympathize with those who have dietary restrictions. i was, after all, vegan myself for over six years. so when i was presented with the challenge of baking for a group of folks who were both vegan and gluten-intolerant, i felt up to the challenge.

i was also well-equipped for this challenge, having just been given the magical little cookbook vegan cupcakes take over the world, by my awesome vegan neighbors and friends, chris and alice, for my birthday last week. it, happily, includes a couple of gluten-free recipes (called "gluten-freedom cupcakes" in the book.)

vegan dairy

the best part is that all these crazy ingredients are super easy to find nowadays. the worst part is that i now have a giant, only partially-used tub of vegan margarine in my fridge.

vegan gluten-free chocolate cupcakes

even though the batter tasted a bit gritty and thin before baking, the cupcakes came out of the oven with a delightfully dense yet moist texture, with a nice intense chocolate flavor. they even rose up more than i anticipated.

vegan gluten-free chocolate cupcakes with "cream cheese" frosting

i chose the "cream cheese" frosting for these puppies, and used tofutti, my old friend from back in my vegan days. it doesn't quite taste like a convincing cream cheese, but it gave the frosting a nice rich flavor that almost made me forget they were vegan.

unfortunately, i baked these on the hottest day in recorded history in seattle, so within minutes of frosting the little cakes, the frosting decided to gloop down the sides into little puddles.

no problem, though. i decided to call it a ganache!

vegan gluten-free chocolate cupcakes with "cream cheese" frosting

Thursday, July 30, 2009

... yellow

lemon yellow mug

hello, yellow.

yellow tomatoes

i can't seem to get enough of you lately.

yellow carcassonne

you are sweetly optimistic.

yellow sunflower

and sunny. in every way.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

... water

san pellegrino

holy mother of god, it is hot in seattle right now. and i can't get enough of these little san pellegrino mineral waters. suze brought a bunch to croquet the other day (lovely straws also by suze), and i've had some in the fridge since my party. it's the best way i can think of to remember to drink enough water to get through this hellish weather.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

... being 35


seriously, i'm enjoying it so much that i haven't been thinking of taking pictures or blogging at all in the past week. but i had a beautiful time on my birthday last friday. i woke early to do a 1.2-mile swim in the lake with my favorite swimming buddies, and then later in the morning discovered a delicious birthday donut on my porch from a sneaky neighbor (thanks, jenn!).


i spent the rest of the day baking three kinds of cupcakes (mexican chocolate fudge pecan, coconut with cream cheese frosting, and chai-spiced chocolate--of which i have no documentation but my honest word) and having friends and family over for a backyard celebration. c cleaned up the yard and we strung up lights and homemade bunting and it was pure magic.


i only thought later to take pictures of anything. c thought to pick up the camera to get a shot of me and my sister and my mom sitting together. i'm happy he did.

mandy, me and mom

i felt truly lucky to have my good friends and my family to celebrate with me.

birthday pie

on sunday i got to have another birthday celebration with my croquet gang, as esther baked me a traditional dutch birthday pie. so delicious and so sweet (literally and figuratively)!

happy weekend indeed.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

... peach tarts

peach tart

not much beats peaches in the summer. except, perhaps, a nectarine, but that's another story. and then there's rainier cherries, which have always been my favorite fruit, but that's four or five more stories. ok, but truly nothing beats a good peach tart. especially when the peaches are just right.

for this tart, baked for book club (#1), i went to great lengths to ensure its deliciousness. the first batch of peaches i picked up were horrible. once i got them home and cut into them i knew there was no way they would make it into my tart. they were somehow simultaneously overripe and underripe, mealy and flavorless. so, i went back to the store and got some juicier, tastier, organic white peaches. much better.

peach tart

and then, of course, there was a debacle with the dough. i can tell you with some assurance that attempting to roll out a pate brisee on an 85° day in a hot old house is a terrible idea. even though i tried to work fast, by the time i got it rolled out it had turned into a pile of glop.

no worries, though, as i just scooped up the bits and pressed them into the tart pan until the whole thing resembled something edible.

actually, this was more then edible. it was very good.

peach tart

the recipe is from my most cherished cookbook, rebecca rather's the pastry queen. every recipe in this book is pure gold. this is the fredericksburg peach cream cheese tart. now please go buy this cookbook (and the her new one), and bake everything in it now!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

... huckleberries


now is the season for fresh, sweet, native red huckleberries!


the arboretum is currently abundant with huckleberries, and there is one amazing, large, easily accessible huckleberry bush that c and i go back to every year. i would tell you, but i kind of want it to remain a secret.



we must have stood there forever picking and eating. i channeled my inner squirrel and hoarded my little pile of berries. c is better at picking and consuming at the same time. both methods are acceptable and highly encouraged.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

... book club (#2)

the greatest thing

this is technically my second book club, but that doesn't make it second in my heart. i adore my neighbors and i love our little neighborhood book club. for last night's meeting we read this sweet classic that i had never heard of, and jenn made us all feel welcome in her beautiful backyard with great food and wine and talk.

jenn's beautiful niçoise salad

i loved this giant platter of salade niçoise, which jenn seemed to throw together effortlessly and beautifully. perfect for a warm summer evening.

my plate

plate with book

and, as always, the conversation was stimulating, thoughtful, and fascinating. i love the variety of ideas in this group... there are frequently things discussed that i never would have thought of or considered.

book club peeps

book club peeps

book club peeps

book club peeps

good peeps, good times.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

... le pichet

le pichet

happy bastille day, mon ami!

i celebrated early by having a demi-pichet of a beautiful rosé at le pichet this weekend. in fact, it was so lovely i took note of the name, something i rarely do (a chateau val joanis tradition 2008 rosé). délicieux!

and if you happen to go to le pichet tonight, you can partake in what looks to be a lovely le quatorze juillet celebration.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

... trophy cupcakes

cupcake jumble

even when they arrive at croquet in a giant jumbled mess.

lemon coconut cupcake

c and i split a lemon coconut. it is my humble opinion that everything tastes better with coconut in it.

red velvet cupcake

and then we split a red velvet. made properly with cream cheese frosting, as god intended.


a park just isn't a park if there aren't balloons stranded in a tree, is it?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

... stash building

stash stack

i seriously can't help it. my fabric buying is definitely outpacing my fabric usage. i've been assured that's natural and totally okay, and yet i can't help but feel a bit guilty. that is, until i admire my fabrics again and realize that yes, there is no way i could have lived without them.

fabrics from esther's

a few weeks ago i visited esther's on bainbridge, the fabric store i grew up just a few miles from, and yet never was able to take advantage of because, well, i didn't sew. but what a delightful selection! the kokka trefle on the left is more than i usually spend on fabric, but i couldn't resist. and, of course, there's more alexander henry in there, plus some jay mccarroll woodland wonderland.

amy butler prints

and a visit to the quilting loft yesterday turned up more unnecessary finds, including some amy butler prints that are marked down 20% right now. i had resisted amy butler thus far, but i thought these were lovely and sweet.


i went outside my price range again and finally caved and got a heather ross far far away fat quarter pack. i mean, how can i resist when it's packaged up so sweetly? and, lastly but not leastly, i fell in love with that anna griffin floral print (brown one on top). i could bathe in those colors. in fact, looking at my past purchases it seems i'm really into the brown/orange/pink/blue thing lately. sigh.

now, off to actually sew some things.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

... strawberry frozen yogurt


when life hands you a flat of strawberries, do you make strawberry lemonade? nope. you make strawberry frozen yogurt!


our farm share mistakenly had us down for a bulk share, so last week a flat of strawberries showed up at the drop site with my name on it. naturally, i took it, right? because you can't let a flat of that much goodness go to waste.

strawberry frozen yogurt

my first inclination was to haul out the bestest ice cream cookbook ever, david lebovitz's the perfect scoop, and find a recipe for something frozen involving strawberries.

strawberry frozen yogurt

and it also gave me an opportunity to use my favorite kitchen gadget, the ice cream maker attachment for my kitchenaid stand mixer.

strawberry frozen yogurt

oh, so delicious.

strawberry frozen yogurt

so frosty frozen delicious.

Monday, July 6, 2009

... a parade!

not just any parade, though. the bainbridge island grand old fourth parade! obviously i have a soft spot for it, seeing as how it's my hometown and all. but still... such fun!


it's a small town, so there are tractors.


but also sailors. oh, the sailors!


and what's a parade without bagpipes?


... or drums?


... or high school flag wavers?

candy scramble

... or kids scrambling for candy?



kids and flag

... or kids in general?