21 June 2009

Off My Feet AGAIN!

Remember last year when I had the foot surgery and couldn't do anything for a while? Well, I'm off my feet again due to a gigantic pothole (read: missing sidewalk piece) in front of the Metropolitan Museum in NY.

A classmate, my Art Librarianship professor (who is my absolute favorite professor ever -- the most fascinating class), and I were leaving the museum on our way to Penn Station when, not looking at the sidewalk, I fell into the hole and broke my foot.

At the time, I didn't know it was broken, but it hurt very badly as I limped along. Prof. asked if I wanted to go to the emergency room, but I said no, I'd just head home and ask John to drive me to my friend Lon, the doctor. It was a three-hour office visit (!), but they have an x-ray machine there, so we were able to see where the bone had chipped. Thankfully, it's not a big chip at all and doesn't require surgery. It just hurts a lot and, when I'm not in bed or on the sofa with my air-casted leg iced up and elevated, I'm crutching around like a bull in a china shop.

I will go visit the doc who did the surgery last year, at Lon's recommendation, since he may have some special suggestions about how best to handle (or not) things. Fun!

All that to say, it might be even longer than I thought before I'm back standing on my feet all day baking. Great.

However, I do have an update in the hopper for after the semester ends. I just wanted to give you fine folks a quick update and let you know I haven't forgotten you at all.

If it's not one thing, it's another. Oh well.

08 June 2009

Book Review: Vegan Soul Kitchen

From May 2009 photos

Every time I read the title of Bryant Terry's recently released Vegan Soul Kitchen, it makes me think of that Doors song.

There are some very nicely written and very well tested recipes in this collection. I especially enjoyed the one shown above, Candied Sweet Potato Discs and Apple Slices. Unfortunately, the publisher hasn't released permission for me to reprint the recipe, so I cannot share it with you word for word.

However, I can tell you that it's very easily done with a small quantity of good sweet potatoes (or yams, for that matter), your favorite apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, agave nectar, vanilla, lemon juice, orange juice (I used pineapple juice and would definitely recommend it), apple juice and a smidgen of salt.

The trick to it is to roast the sweet potatoes first until they are fork tender, then add the rest of the ingredients as written in the book, and bake for another 2/3 of an hour, basting every 10 minutes. So, if you're cooking something else, or are handy with a kitchen timer, you won't mind the every-10-minutes sauce bath for these babies.

The extra-special treatment is worth it. The potatoes end up tasting like candy. And, because I used granny smith apples, I had a very nice, tart foil for the very sweet potatoes.

After I'd tried these the first time, I decided then and there that I've found my new Thanksgiving dish to bring to Mom's. Yes, I know, I've said that before.

I think I'd also probably try this with alternate vegetables and dried fruits, like parsnips, carrots, and dried cranberries. There are a myriad of ways to use Terry's sauce to candy veggies and fruit.

Just a quick note on regularity, speaking of fruit. No, I'm not going there. What I do need to share with you is that my life is becoming increasingly complex for the next four weeks as I begin my internship at the Zimmerli Art Museum while I continue with two classes at Rutgers. So, I'll need to take a short hiatus from blogging here and at Here and There while I manage my new workload, papers, and household stuff. I expect to be back at it by early July, if not sooner, with lots of yummy new recipes.

One last thing, one of the summer courses I'm taking is called Art Librarianship. It's the best class I've ever taken. Ever. It's given by a fascinating professor, Paul Glassman, who only gives the class during the summers at Rutgers. We've had excellent guest speakers, including the special collections librarian from the Alexander Library at Rutgers. I've contacted him to ask about independent study opportunities and he promptly responded with some really interesting projects working with artists' books for the fall. I can't wait!

Wish me luck!

01 June 2009

Book Review: Ani's Raw Food Desserts

From June 2009 photos

Is that food porny enough for you? You're practically inside this luscious, tropically flavored, raw, vegan dessert fresh from the pages of Ani's Raw Food Desserts. Her Pineapple Icebox Dessert is like a vegan pineapple cheese cake, but way better because the cream is made from cashews, agave nectar, and coconut oil. It's definitely the best cold, non-ice cream dessert I've had in a year.

It's just in time for summer and a perfect bring-along for a party. Although you'll need to pack it in lots of cold packs or ice inside a cooler because this really needs to be kept cold (otherwise it starts losing cohesiveness).

From June 2009 photos

An important thing to remember about this tasty raw dish is that you can serve small portions of it and still be the hit of the party. The Pineapple Icebox Dessert is rich from all the cashews and coconut oil, but the pineapple cuts right through it. While my friend John Leary and I dined on this delectable dessert, I thought aloud about making it with strawberries instead of pineapple. I'm sure it would be equally fantastic.

Just a note about the topping and crust -- I didn't think there was enough, especially in proportion to the pineapple cream. In the future, I'd make more of that and less of the cream. (Although I did double the recipe and put it into a large container rather than the loaf pan she recommends.)

My review comes after the recipe below.

From the book Ani’s Raw Food Desserts by Ani Phyo. Excerpted by arrangement with Da Capo Lifelong, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright © 2009. Find out more at www.dacapopresscookbooks.com.

Pineapple Icebox Dessert


2 cups cashews
Seeds from 1 vanilla bean or 1 tablespoon alcohol-free vanilla extract
2 tablespoons agave syrup

1 1/2 cups cashews
1/3 cup agave syrup
1/4 cup liquid coconut oil
1/4 cup filtered water, as needed
2 1/2 cups chopped cored pineapple

(In her format, not my usual numbered steps.)

To make the crust, combine the cashews and vanilla in the food processor and chop to a crushed wafer texture. Add the agave syrup and process to mix well. Sprinkle half of the crust onto the bottom of a loaf pan.

To make the filling, combine the cashews, agave syrup, and coconut oil in the high-speed blender and blend until smooth, adding water as needed to create a creamy texture. Spoon the mixture into a mixing bowl, add the pineapple, and stir to mix well. Spoon the filling into the loaf pan and sprinkle the remaining crust on top. Pat lightly. Freeze for 2 hours or until chilled.

Will keep for 4 to 6 days in the fridge or for several weeks in the freezer.

The Review

The minute I saw Ani's book, I felt that there was something familiar about it. It reminded me so much of Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World that I had to do a side-by-side comparison. The two books are so similar that I looked to see if it was the same designer (it wasn't). Was Ani enamored by Isa and Terry's little book that could? Did they talk to each other about it, I wondered out loud. John (my John, not Leary above) wondered about the legal implications.

I'm sure there's nothing nefarious about this lovely, little raw cookbook. It just greatly resembles VCTOTW in format and style. I just have to be careful about where I put this on the shelf -- especially when I'm looking to make cupcakes.

As far as the recipes go, many are very easily made and look fantastic. I'm going to try carob-ing up the Lavender Chocolate Bars because the photos are drool-worthy.

Overall, if you are in the habit of trying new desserts or want to further your foray into the raw food world, this is definitely the dessert cookbook for you. There are plenty of photos and loads of tips, so you won't get lost at all.