3/31/11

Restaurant Review: Blue Sage Vegetarian Grille

Blue Sage, inside.

Kelly, showcasing her vegan quesadilla.

Me, showcasing the Cubano Supper.
The sweet and salty El Fino

The Whistle Stop Sammy

Blue Corn Asparagus Tacos
Hazelnut Toffee Basket

Blue Sage Vegetarian Grille is a hike for me. Over an hour. I know non-vegs would think it's crazy to drive that far for a restaurant, but when something is unique and good, most of the vegs I know, will travel great distances. We normally like to avoid eating at places that serve meat, so we have to drive way out of our neighborhood to dine out.

Last summer, I ventured out to Blue Sage with a few friends and after an amazing Craigslist find in that area, I went back with my husband for lunch. Both times, we had a great time and pretty good meals.

The place is cute, but a little tight on space. You'll be very cozy with your dining neighbors. One thing that I appreciate about the menu is that it has a distinctive personality that separates itself from the other veg restaurants in the area. There's no fake meat which is a refreshing gluten-free surprise. One other thing you need to know is that portions are HUGE! One appetizer can easily be a meal for two, so don't go too crazy when you order or you'll walk home with a grocery bag full of left overs. They do cook with eggs and dairy, so if you are vegan or lacto-veg, be sure to tell your server and they'll let you know if a dish is not for you. Vegan and vegan-izable dishes are marked on the menu. Oh yeah--make reservations for dinner!

My top pick for apps, the blue corn tacos (this is enough for a main entrée with the super yummy black eyed pea and corn salsa). For lunch, The Whistle Stop Sammy. For dinner, The Cubano Supper. And lastly, dessert, the Hazelnut Toffee Basket. Check out Yelp for other recommendations.

Blue Sage Vegetarian Grille
772 Second Street Pike
Southampton, PA 18966
215-942-8888
www.bluesagegrille.com

Scissors Craft: L is for Love





























My first pottery class caught me without an idea after I had been bookmarking ideas in my brain for a month or so. I decided to do something simple to get me started and to also make something for my daughter. What could be simple than cutting out an "L" (the first letter of her name) out of a slab of clay? I was quite happy with it and she loved it. The colors are much different in person, but I'll let that slide. There's a notch in the back to hang it on the wall, but I think we're going to hold off on that until the kids are older.

More pics of my pieces to come. Many were just fired and I have not picked them up yet. I refrained from taking the 2nd session of the class and am holding off until summer. I have very few child-free days ahead of me before the kids are done with school, so I thought I better use them wisely and not schedule any more classes!

3/30/11

Animal Planet's Vegan Cooking Show


We all know and love Vegan Treats and here's your chance to love it even more. Danielle Konya, owner of the bakery, will be featured in an upcoming cooking show on The Animal Planet. Read about it here. Maybe this will convince my husband to finally get Fios!

Really Must Try This Recipe: Avocado Mojito Smoothie




















A few summers ago, I fell in love with the virgin mojitos at Horizon; so much so that I decided to learn how to make them myself. I even have my own secret recipe (maybe one day I will share!). This smoothie from Cool Hunting looks super yummy and super healthy and it's vegan (minus the honey if you are strict). I would sub the honey with agave.

3/29/11

Doughnut Plant NYC: The Universe's Best Doughnuts


If you've never ventured to New York City, here's your excuse to make it there as soon humanly possible. Doughnut Plant NYC quite possibly has found the perfect recipe for happiness, I mean, doughnuts. All their goodies are made fresh daily and are free from preservatives, artificial dyes, eggs and trans fats. See, they are practically health food, so order a half-dozen and another half-dozen for the ride home. They are like Lay's, once you pop, you really just cannot stop. Sorry vegans, as far as I have been told, their goods are lacto-veg. (VEGAN UPDATE! I wrote to them just to make sure they had no vegan goodies. They don't BUT don't be sad, they'll be featuring some vegan doughnuts soon! YEAH! Vegan doughnuts! I'll let you know when I find out.)

My favorites are the carrot cake (it's filled with creamy goodness) and the black out cake doughnuts (melts in your mouth and sends you into a fit of bliss). My husband's favorite is the coconut cream filled yeasted doughnut. Now this may be speculation but... on a recent road trip my sister took with her daughter to see me and the fam, she was stopping in New York to visit her friend, but I really think she was just going to stock up on fried goodness from Doughnut Plant.

To make getting your sweet on even easier, they have recently opened a second location at the Chelsea Hotel! I think all that crazy NYC snow has finally melted, so get going and get to the Doughnut Plant, pronto! They are even open every day now! Life is truly very good.

Doughnut Plant NYC
379 Grand St, New York, NY 10002; 1-212-505-3700
Chelsea Hotel, 220 West 23rd Street; 1-212-675-9100

www.doughnutplant.com

3/27/11

Spice in the Kitchen: Brownie (Cake) Pops [Trial Run]

What a dramatic picture for such a frivolous treat
If you remember, I cursed Starbucks for making my lacto-veg, mon sans oeufs fils (like my high school French?) cry for cake pops. Well, to make my little one happy, I made him a cake pop. It was pretty easy and I think the next time I make them, I could easily make the batch vegan.

I used Trader Joe's Belgium brownie mix (yum! and works well with egg replacer--a near perfect brownie) and mixed three-quarters of the baked result with about a 1/2 cup of chocolate frosting. They rolled into balls beautifully.

After I froze them, I dipped them into melted chocolate. Now, here's where I should have prepared more. I don't like the look of them with a flattened top. I thought if I stuck the lollipop stick in a cup filled with rice, that that would be a nice anchor. They are so top heavy that they just flopped over. Short on time, I decided I would aim for more aesthetically appealing brownie pops next time, and I just placed them top-side down on wax paper. Next time, I will have a prepared piece of dry floral foam (poked with holes) in a pan to hold them upright. Lesson learned. Overall, they were great. I took one bite of my son's and am sending the rest to my husband's office. Happy Monday, guys and gal! Enjoy them!

Score: Judith Bledsoe Signed Lithograph































My husband found this framed print at a flea market a year or so ago and I absolutely adore it. The limited edition print is signed by the artist, Judith Bledsoe (b. 1928). The lithograph has a very Mary Blair feel, but Judith's other works are very different stylistically. I have not been able to find this particular print anywhere on the web, but I did spot one on ebay that is in the same vein if you'd like to hang one on the walls of your abode.

3/25/11

Blog Lust: Sally Jane Vintage





























Sally Jane Vintage is a fashion blog featuring vintage and vintage inspired fashions.  After discovering the site, I drooled through many a back post and was quite pleased when I saw that she also has an Etsy shop.

3/24/11

Etsy Find: Natural Wood Blocks

Little Sapling Toys. Crappy font, but beautiful wood. Look at the eased edges!
A Summer Afternoon. So beautiful, you don't even need kids to enjoy this stacker.
Jounick. Waldorf block kitchen. Whip up some yummy twig soup!
Asher Jasper. Perfect Montessori toys.

Spice in the Kitchen: Curried Sour Cream Roasted Potatoes

Curried Sour Cream Roasted Potatoes Recipe (vegan-izable)
serves 2-4

Ingredients

  • 4 medium white or yukon gold potatoes, washed and cut into 1/2" slices
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (or yogurt and/or vegan versions)
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp hing
  • 2 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp curry powder (a mild flavored one, not heavy in cinnamon)
  • dash pepper
  • 1-2 tsp salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450.
  2. Cut potatoes and soak in hot water for 15 minutes. Pat dry when done soaking.
  3. While potatoes are soaking, combine all ingredients except salt.
  4. Salt potatoes with 1 tsp of the salt. Add curry mixture to potatoes. Mix well.
  5. Spread potatoes in a single layer on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender. If they get too brown before they are tender, cover with aluminum foil until they reach the right consistency. Add more salt if necessary.
  6. Garnish with tomatoes, chopped cilantro and topped with more sour cream. This would also work great with cauliflower with (or instead of) the potatoes. 

Vintage Craft Books: Sunset's Landscaping for Modern Living






Spring is almost here and everyone's thoughts are turning outdoors, specially mine since my children are bouncing off the walls and need to be let loose in some nature.  Unfortunately, the yard around our 1950s ranch needs some creative landscaping. Sunset Magazine's, "Landscaping for Modern Living" published in 1956, lends era appropriate inspiration. I especially like the look of "garden work center" and the tiled concrete patio. 

Click on the above photos to see a larger image.

3/23/11

Gee, Thanks Starbucks and Your Damn Cake Pops!


























My poor kids. They never get to have the treats other kids readily get to indulge in. When I saw that Starbucks had rolled out this new line of "petites" I almost cried when I saw the cake pops. My son is too young to understand that we don't eat eggs, so every time I get my decaf skinny latte now, he sees and really wants a cake pop. "Mommy, lollipop, yes? LOLLIPOP! MOMMY!" So, to pacify him (and to practice some more baking skills) I think my next baking project will have to be some egg-free (possibly vegan?) cake pops. Definitely will be using real chocolate and not candy melts with mine. Pictures to follow!

Great cake pop ball tutorial here at Sugar Derby.

All props to the original cake popper, Bakerella.  Check out her book here. Sending her prayers for her speedy recovery.

3/21/11

Spice in the Kitchen: Easy Vegetarian Meal Ideas

Veggies with Pasta Un-recipe
I remember hearing Mark Bittman talking about how we need to change our idea of food. One example he gave was instead of pasta with veggies, how about veggies with pasta? This dish is just that. Heavy on the veggies, low on pasta. I oven roasted zukes, baby tomatoes, and peppers. Steamed asparagus and diced some sundried tomatoes. Mixed cooked rice pasta with sauce. Took 1/2 cup of pasta and topped it with about 5 cups of the mixed veggies. Sprinkled it all with a bit of raw parmesan and panko bread crumbs. Easy and healthy.

Cornbread Chili Pancakes Un-recipe
I had been wanting to try a savory cornbread pancake for awhile now.  The other day, while I had a hot pan of my world famous tri-bean chili simmering on the stove, I remembered I had a box of Trader Joe's cornbread mix in my pantry. So, experimenter me decided to take the prepared TJ cornbread mixture (works great with yogurt instead of eggs!), baked half of it plain for my kids, and with the other half, I added chili, jalapenos, salt and cheese and fried up batches just as you would normal pancakes! They fried to perfection on my cast iron pan. You can top them with fresh chopped tomatoes, guac, salsa and/or sour cream. Try it with your favorite cornbread recipe!

3/20/11

Åsa's Fettisdagsbullar


























Yum! Thanks to Åsa for a sample of a Swedish sweet called, Fettisdagsbullar. Though the cream was little squashed from transport, it was still very pretty and very tasty! Tack!

3/19/11

Vote for "Sunset over the Jalangi"


























My friend Sara just got back from India and submitted this photo to the "It's a Snap" vacation photo contest on MSNBC. Could you be a dear and give her a vote? Her photo is entitled, "Sunset over the Jalangi." Vote for her here.

3/18/11

Score: Vintage Fabric and Swedish Christmas Linens

 

























As I was driving my daughter to a playdate I passed by a tiny bright pink sign that directed me to a "tag sale." Yipee! I love tag sales! Great places to find one-of-a-kind vintage goods--and--you get to nose around someone's house! Unfortunately, these sales leave me a feeling a tad melancholy.  Treading through these spaces, you realize they 9 times of out of 10 these were the abodes of older people who are either moving into a nursing home or, well, have "moved on" to their next destination. Very sobering to see a lifetime's worth of possessions being rifled through by nosey neighbors and bargain hunters... proceeds of the sales to either support their care or to be divided up amongst their survivors. As the saying goes, "You can't take it with you." Sorry to be such a Debby Downer...

On a cheerier note, here are some of today's tag sale finds. I'm building up my arsenal for my future Etsy shop. My goal is to have it up and running by the fall. Stay tuned!

UPDATE: The Scissors and Spice Vintage Etsy Shop is now open! For these vintage linens and more, please visit: http://www.etsy.com/shop/ScissorsAndSpice

3/17/11

Spice in the Kitchen: Potato Kale Soup

I'm about as un-Irish as they come. Ok, maybe not super un-Irish, I did really like U2 and Sinead O'Connor when I was in junior high (and there may be some Scottish blood in my family), but my heritage is mostly Portuguese with French and other unidentified European heritages scattered in for fun. I grew up in a town where everyone was Portuguese, French or Polish. Anyway, I'm getting away from the point of this soup. I did not do anything Irishy for St. Patrick's Day. I do, however, recall seeing a recipe for an Irish potato recipe with kale the other day, so maybe that is what inspired the desire to make this soup today. That and all I had were potatoes and kale. This recipe was inspired by a very simple Portuguese soup that my sister-in-law taught me how to make. Hers, I think has linguiça in it, mine obviously does not.

Sorta Portuguese Potato Kale Soup Recipe (vegan-izable)
serves 4-6

Ingredients
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 1 tsp hing
  • 1 tsp marjoram
  • 2 tsp thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper
  • 8 cups vegetable broth
  • 6 medium Yukon gold potatoes (white potatoes can be used as well or use less if you want a thinner soup)
  • 3 stalks of celery, chopped fine
  • 5 cups finely chopped and de-stemmed kale leaves
  • 1 TB of butter (optional)
  • 1 cup cannellini beans (optional)
Directions
  1. Add oil and spices to a soup pan and sauté until fragrant. Add potatoes and celery sauté for a few minutes.
  2. Add vegetable broth. Bring to a boil and then let simmer on medium heat, covered, until potatoes become soft, about 15 minutes.
  3. When potatoes are soft, use an immersion blender to puree them and the celery completely. If the soup seems too thick, add more broth or water.
  4. Add kale and let the soup simmer for as long as you can. An hour or two is best. The kale should be nice and soft. If using cannellini beans, add them in the last 15 minutes of simmering (and the butter too if you not making vegan). 
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

3/15/11

Spice in the Kitchen: Vintage Triple Decker Brownies

I found this cookbook in a thrift store. It looked really familiar, so I opened it up and found the picture below.

Wow! I remembered that picture! I used to study it when I was little. How happy they looked! How big are those cookies! And look at that girl--getting to decorate her own cookies! How fancy! I wish I was her! I wish I had those little silver balls to decorate cookies with! Yes, even as a 6-year-old I was a cooking nerd. I liked to pretend I was Julia Childs and I would put on my own cooking shows in my kitchen. I never knew what I was doing, but I did make up my own recipes... much like today. All this nostalgia, I had to buy the book.

I wanted to practice making bar cookies, so I was flipping through some of my cookbooks. Nothing stood out to me. I found this book (I forgot that I had bought it) and saw this recipe. Wow! Another memory--I loved these as a kid. I have a distinct memory of my sister helping my brother make these in a dimly lit kitchen. He had to make them for a "home ec" class.  It's fate that I found these because I would often think back to the "home ec brownies." 

I de-egged the recipe and made a batch for my husband's office (love to bake, but hate to put on the pounds!). I will make more changes the next time I make them and the recipe below notes those changes. It may seem like there are lots of ingredients and that it is a complicated recipe, but it's not. Just three different steps.

Triple Decker Brownies Recipe (eggless, vegan-izable)

Ingredients and Directions
Step One
  • 1 cup of quick-cooking rolled oats (if using old-fashinoned--pulse a couple of times in food processor)
  • 1/2 cup of flour
  • 1/2 cup backed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 6 TB melted butter or Earth Balance
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Mix dry ingredients, then add wet.  Mix.
  3. Press mixture into a brownie pan (8"x 8") lined with parchment paper and bake for 5 minutes. Take out and let cool.
Step Two
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter or Earth Balance
  • 3 ounces melted unsweetened (or semi-sweet chocolate)
  • 1/2 cup yogurt (use vegan if making vegan)
  • 2 TB cornstarch (or arrowroot powder)
  • 1 1/3 cup sifted flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp espresso powder (optional)
  • 1/2 cup milk (use almond or coconut milk if vegan)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  1. Beat sugar, butter and chocolate. Add yogurt and cornstarch, mix well. 
  2. Sift together dry ingredients.
  3. Mix vanilla and milk.
  4. Add dry mix to butter mixture alternately with milk. Mix well. (This is easy enough to do without a mixer--use your arm power! Brownies, muffins, etc. are better the less you beat them. Something about gluten strands or something... Just don't over beat it.)
  5. Fold in walnuts.
  6. Press mixture on top of oatmeal layer. Bake for about 20 minutes. Keep an eye on it since oven temperature vary.
  7. Remove from oven and cool completely. 
Step Three
  • 1 ounce of unsweetened or semi-sweet chocolate
  • 2 TB butter or Earth Balance
  • 1 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp espresso powder (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1-2 TB hot water
  1. While the brownies are almost cool, make the frosting.
  2. On low heat, melt butter and chocolate in a saucepan, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
  3. Add powdered sugar and vanilla. Stir.
  4. Add water, 1 TB at a time, to make an almost pourable consistency.
  5. Frost top of cooled brownies. Let cool completely before cutting. These brownies are better the 2nd day so be patient!
My brownies. I thought the 2nd level should be thicker, so I doubled the ingredients for my version of the recipe (and tripled the chocolate!). Also, I cut down on the baking time since they were a little too well done on the bottom.






















3/14/11

Three Potato Four Bus Ticket Tea Towels @ Urban Outfitters




































Finally! A union between my love for vintage ephemera and tea towels! By Three Potato Four at Urban Outfitters.

Spice in the Kitchen: Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies w/ GINGER!


























I like to experiment with flavor combos and discover twists on classic recipes. Everyone has had ye olde oatmeal cookies before. Yay, they're yum, but we're all grown ups here. Let's let our taste buds exercise and experience new flavor sensations once in awhile. Here, spicy candied ginger adds a little cha-cha-cha to a very yummy and hearty oatmeal cookie. Squeamish on the ginger? Try half the batter with some and half without.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies with Candied Ginger Recipe (vegan, gluten-free variations)
makes 2 dozen large or 4 dozen small


Ingredients
(To make gluten-free, use gluten-free oats and gluten-free baking mix in place of flour. Make sure your vanilla and choco chips are gluten-free too!)

  • 3/4 cup Earth Balanace or other vegan butter substitute
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar (I used organic brown sugar. It seems to have a higher molasses content and better flavor.)
  • 1/4 cup vegan yogurt
  • 1 TB cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup unbleached flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp powdered cardamom 
  • 1/2 tsp powdered ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 cups of old fashioned oats
  • 1-1.5 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup of candied ginger, chopped in very small bits (Uncrystallized if you can find it.)


Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Cream Earth Balance and then add yogurt, cornstarch, and vanilla. Mix until well combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and spices.
  4. Combine flour mixture with wet mixture. Mix in oats.
  5. Fold in chocolate chips and ginger. (If your dough seems to not come together at this point, your EB is too warm. Set your bowl in the fridge for about 15 minutes to firm up and come together.)
  6. For super large cookies--1/4 cup of batter onto a parchment lined cookie sheet (12-15 minutes in oven). For large--1/8  cup (10-12 minutes in oven). For polite sized, 1 TB (8-10 minutes in oven). Flatten cookies slightly. Cooking times will vary depending on size of cookie and how crunchy you like them. If you want them super soft, they should look browned on edges, but slightly under-baked. If you want them crispy, then the whole cookie should appear golden brown. 

3/11/11

Pretty West Elm Tray Love!

Check out these really cool (say that in the voice of Myley Cyrus) trays from one of my favs, West Elm. With prices that cheap, I can turn my back to you, Bjørn Wiinblad. Take that ebay!

Spice in the Kitchen: Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies


























I went to a used bookfair the other day and as I was perusing the cookbook section, I came across a very 1980s looking copy of the Mrs. Field's I Love Chocolate! Cookbook. Normally I would just pass over a cookbook like that because the recipes are so heavy in eggs, but I remembered my friend Åsa had given me a recipe from it that has become a standard go-to in my cookie making rotation. My sister and her daughter were coming so I wanted to prepare a somewhat healthy (well, not really) sweet for her and the kids to snack on. Flipping through the cookbook, I came across a recipe for "Monster Chunk Cookies" that I adapted for this recipe. It's heavier in flour than oats, so it's less dense than a traditional oatmeal cookie. Use appropriate vegan substitutes if making vegan, but I don't need to tell you that, right?

Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies Recipe (eggless, vegan-izable)
makes about 24

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of unbleached flour
  • 1 cup of old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 tsp of baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp of salt (leave out if using Earth Balance in replace of butter)
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup of Greek Yogurt
  • 2 TB cornstarch
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 bag of chocolate chunks (or coarsely chop 12 ounces of vegan chocolate)
  • extras: add 1 cup of roasted walnuts or pecan pieces and 1/2 cup of dried cherries)


Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 300.
  2. Mix flour, oats, baking soda and salt.
  3. Cream together butter, sugars, yogurt, cornstarch and vanilla extract.
  4. Combine wet with dry and fold in chocolate chunks and any extras.
  5. Scoop out the cookies as big as you want them--from 1 TB to 1/4 cup--and cook on a parchment lined cookie sheet for 18-22 minutes. Flatten each scoop a bit. (the bigger the cookie, the harder it falls, I mean, the longer it will take to bake. Just keep an eye on them--they're ready when they are light brown.)
  6. Let rest on cookie sheet for a minute or two and transfer to cooling rack with a spatula.

3/10/11

Ribbon Love!

Look at Jessica Jone's (of How About Orange) new ribbon designs! Don't they make you squeal with glee? No, maybe that's just me. Available soon at Fat Quarter Shop.