12/31/11

Vintage Maps: New Bedford, Massachusetts Postcards

I love vintage postcards, history, and maps, so imagine my delight when I found this vintage 1920s souvenir folder of my hometown, New Bedford, MA, in a flea market in Philadelphia.

I Google mapped the Philadelphia address--a house in a long string of row homes--and it is the only one no longer standing. Just a "RIP" spray painted on the exposed wall of the adjacent house.

I also love all the English and Native American names of the towns in New England. I had no idea that a small town near New Bedford, Westport, was actually named Westport Factory . Thanks to Wikipedia, I was schooled in the town's really interesting history.

This shot is of a bath house at Fort Phoenix that is no longer there. Oh if my dad knew what I did with my high school friends at that beach at night, he probably would ground me from the grave.

Purchase Street business district, New Bedford, circa 1920s.  This is where I spent most of my youth watching boys skateboard and having chow mein sandwiches from Bamboo Garden with my dad. The Waldorf Linens building is no longer there and that large building with the green roof is now a Citizens Bank.  The red brick building now houses one of my favorite New Bedford restaurants, No Problemo.

Corner of Union and Purchase Street, New Bedford, circa the 1920s. A current view reveals that not much has changed.

12/29/11

Design Inspiration: Christmas in Connecticut

My husband and I watch Christmas movies religiously all through the season. One oldie that was new to us this year was "Christmas in Connecticut." I love the old showcard style uncial of the title sequence and the illustration on Felix's menu. "White Christmas" is next on the list. (Where we spent Christmas was actually a white one for about 15 minutes. My kids were so excited to see the snow after they opened their presents!)

12/24/11

Photo Essay: New York Christmas Detour Tourist Madness

At Soy and Sake
Pad See Ew, Soy and Sake
Bryant Park Pond Ice Skating 

Rockerfeller Center, the most crowded place on the earth


Radio City

Finally getting to try Mast Brothers! I picked sea salt and almond.
The ball is almost about to drop! Good bye 2011!
We go to the city a lot and never do touristy things. So on the way to see family, we decide to go to Rockerfeller with the kids. Wow! I think the whole state of Jersey was there. Holy crowd-ola. I think we'll stay in the Bowery/East Village in the future! Way more our speed.

Scissors Craft: Crafty Friends

Felt tree ornament by Kara from Moments of Being blog
The kids decorated our tree on Wednesday and finally looks a little bit more like Christmas is around the corner at our house. The next day, my dear sister-like-friend, Kara, sent me a little holiday-cheer package filled with goodies. She insists she not crafty, but that is all a front because look at this cute Waldorfy Christmas tree ornament she made for me. Isn't it sweet? I put it high on the tree so my curious two-year-old (he's almost three now!) wouldn't try to dissect it. Thanks Kara! Love you!

12/22/11

Spice in the Kitchen: Peppermint Blondies with Chocolate Ganache

I know, nothing says the holidays like 65 degree weather, baking while the windows are wide open and you are in a short sleeved shirt, right? It's been so super warm here, and while I don't mind, specially since our heating bill is non-existent, it just doesn't seem very Christmasy to me. To boost my holiday spirits, I decided to play around with a seasonal recipe for my husband's office: a peppermint blondie with chocolate chips, topped with chocolate ganache and crushed candy canes!

Omit the peppermint and candy canes and a 1 tsp vanilla for an everyday yum-nums flavor.

Peppermint Blondies with Chocolate Ganache (vegan)
makes one 8x8 pan; prep time: 15 minutes; 30 minutes cooking time

Ingredients


blondies:

  • 1 & 1/8 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 TB cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup vegan margarine
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1/4 cup non-dairy yogurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1.5 tsp peppermint extract
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup crushed candy canes


ganache:

  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 2 TB non-dairy milk
  • 1 tsp vegan margarine
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • dash salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line an 8x8 brownie pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a small saucepan, over a low flame, melt vegan margarine and brown sugar, stirring constantly. Once melted and combined, stir in non dairy milk, yogurt, vanilla and peppermint extract. Remove from heat. Let cool slightly.
  3. Sift together dry ingredients into a bowl.
  4. Fold margarine mixture into dry ingredients until just combined. Do not over mix. Fold in chocolate chips.
  5. Scoop mixture into brownie pan and bake in a pre-heated oven for 20-25 minutes.
  6. In the last 5 minutes of the brownies baking, make your ganache: in a small saucepan, melt all ganache ingredients over a low flame, stirring until smooth.
  7. Remove brownies from oven and let cool slightly. Top with ganache and crushed candy canes. Let cool before slicing--but do not refrigerate. Keep tightly wrapped until serving.

Gifted: Pretty Wrapping and Hand Illustrated Card



Karen DeMaio is a former student of Mr. Scissors and currently, in her spare time, our wonderful babysitter. She stopped by the other day to drop off a few presents for the family and I could not resist taking a few pictures of her wrapping (yay! someone who wraps like me!) and the beautiful card she illustrated. Karen is a very talented illustrator and I think you should hire her for your next project; check out her website, karendemaio.com.

And look at the presents she gave to me: a vintage cake slicer (nice packaging!) and super awesome bowl. Perfect gift for the foodie blogger! Thanks, Karen!

12/20/11

Scissors Craft: Felt Paper Chain Garland Tutorial

Unfortunately, this year has not been very holiday-centric. Both my husband and I have been very busy with work, travel and obligations. Our poor tree is still bare and we still haven't had time to send out Christmas cards! However, somehow or other, I did manage to reserve a few hours to work on this smashingWaldorfy felt paper chain.

When my husband commissioned these felt elephants for my daughter and me a few years ago, he had  quite a few 2" samples cut from several bolts of wool felt. He asked me if he should get rid of them and I of course told him not to and that I would eventually do something with them. Well, this year was the year to finally do just that. My daughter made a paper chain at school that she was very proud of and it was the inspiration for this project!

I hung the one I made on our mantel, but the garland would also be perfect on a Christmas tree. Made in  a different color way, it would be a cute everyday decoration for a child's room draped across their ceiling or swaged across across a window top.

If you do not have a sewing machine, you could just use a hot glue gun to make the chain, but it may take some extra time while you wait for the glue to set and totally secure your seams.

Though the actual process if fairly simple, you really have to keep track of your pattern to make sure you are sewing in the right order. You could make it easy on yourself and use only one or only two colors. I made it difficult and used 6 because that is just how I like to torture myself.


Scissors Craft: Felt Paper Chain Garland Tutorial


Step One


a) Cut your felt into strips that are no more than 1" wide by 5" long. You could make them longer (for more open circles), but any wider would be a bit too bulky.
b) Now that your strips have been cut, lay them out in the pattern in which they will placed in the final sewn chain.
c) Pull aside every other section of individual colors. Those will be the strips of felt that you sew first into loops in step 2.

Step Two


a) Fold the strips (that you set aside to sew into circle in the first round) in half.
b) Sew as close to the ends as possible and reverse your stitches to secure the seam. This step I found was very important when turning the loops over--loops made with a single stitch came apart when I was assembling and had to be resown.


The end result of Step 2.


What the loops will look like when you turn it right side out.


Step Three

Lay your pattern out in the order in which you will sew them together. Loop, straight piece, loop straight piece, etc. (Note the Starbucks in the back. Totally needed that for inspiration.)


Step Four

Take your first loop and run a straight piece through it. Hook you next loop over the straight piece. Each straight piece will always connect two loops.


Step Five

Fold the straight piece (now looped with the two other loops) and sew the edges together. Reverse stitches to secure the seam.


Step Six

Continue the steps above until all your straight pieces and loops are connected.

Step Seven

Turn the loops right side out and make sure the seams are hidden in the neighboring loop. Now, decorate with it and enjoy!

12/19/11

Spice in the Kitchen: Vegan Gingerbread Whoopie Pies


When I was trying to decide on a variety of baked goods for Anthropologie, I knew I needed one offering that was sans chocolate and seasonal. Aha! Gingerbread cupcakes! Since cupcakes can be hard to travel with and would need tons of space in my already crowded refrigerator, I decided I would convert that idea into a whoopie pie.

After researching countless gingerbread recipes and making several test batches, I combined lots of peculiar elements from other recipes, like stout ale and cocoa powder, to create a richly flavored, moist cake filled with a traditional whoopie filling with, not one, but two twists--it's eggnog flavored AND vegan! The result was a huge hit at the event and no one could believe they contained not one drop of dairy!


Vegan Gingerbread Whoopie Pies with Eggnog Filling Recipe
Makes 30-15 pies (depending on size)

Ingredients
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoons espresso powder
  • 2 TB cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1.5 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon all spice
  • dash cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup Earth Balance Buttery Sticks
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/8 cup vegan sugar
  • 1/2 cup regular molasses (Blackstrap will work, but give the cookies a stronger flavor.)
  • 1/8 cup stout ale (If you don't want to cook with alcohol or don't have stout on hand, use a malted beverage, a standard ale, or even ginger ale.)
  • 1/8 cup non-dairy yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 TB freshly minced ginger
  • Eggnog filling (recipe below)


Directions
  1. Sift all dry ingredients into a bowl.
  2. Beat together Earth Balance and sugars until light and fluffy. Add remaining wet ingredients until well combined.
  3. Gradually add flour mixture to wet mixture and mix until just combined. Let dough rest, covered, in the fridge for at least a half hour or overnight.
  4. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 and line cookie sheets with parchment.
  5. Drop round spoonfuls of the dough on the cookie sheet at least 2-3" apart. A 1/2 TB ball makes a 3 bite pie, while a 1/8 cup scoop makes a dessert sized pie.
  6. Bake for 10-13 minutes depending on the size of your whoopie pie halves.
  7. Let cool on the cookie sheet for a minute and transfer to a cooling rack. When the halves are fully cooled, scoop the filling onto the middle of the flat side of the cookie and sandwich it with another half. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


Vegan Eggnog Whoopie Pie Filling (& Frosting!) Recipe

This whoopie pie filling doubles as a cupcake or cake frosting! Heck, you could even stuff doughnuts with it!

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup cold Earth Balance
  • 1.5 (to 2 cups*) confectioners' sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups Ricemellow Marshmallow Creme
  • 2 TB Vegan Eggnog
  • 2 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp rum extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • dash salt

Directions
  1. Blend shortening, Earth Balance, and vegetable shortening with a mixer until smooth.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and beat until fluffy. *If the filling seems too thin, add about 1/4-1/2 cup confectioner's sugar. It will firm up once refrigerated, so don't add much more than that!
  3. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. Best if made the day before you stuff the whoopie pies. Keep cold.

12/18/11

Scissors & Spice and House Industries at Anthropologie

Posing with cookies!
Vegan mocha crackle cookies.
Vegan gingerbread whoopie pies with eggnog filling. Recipe up soon!
I'm a star in a new reality show. 
Ken Barber of House making spirits bright.
I had a wonderful time at the Scissors and Spice and House Industries event at Anthropologie in Glen Mills, PA. Everyone raved about my cookie creations and were quite astonished that the sweets were vegan. I was also pleasantly surprised that so many people told me that they, or a loved one, recently made the switch to veganism. Lots of request for catering, recipes and encouragement to publish a cookbook!

House Industries displayed their wares and Ken Barber lettered gift tags for a long line of fans finishing up their holiday shopping.

Thank you to everyone who stopped by to say hello and for all compliments and to the staff of Anthropologie, specially Emily and Karen, for inviting us and being such lovely hosts!

12/16/11

Spice in the Kitchen: Vegan Mocha Crackle Cookies



Vegan Mocha Crackle Cookie Recipe
makes about 6 dozen

These cookies are super fudgy, moist, and are ecadently flavored with coffee for a rich mocha taste. Makes a wonderful addition to a holiday cookie tin.

Ingredients
  • 1 12-ounce bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup vegan margarine
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons espresso powder
  • 3 tablespoons ground coffee (Grind coffee even finer with a coffee grinder or small food processor.)
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups powdered sugar


Directions
  1. Melt chocolate using double broiler or microwave. Let cool slightly.
  2. With a mixer, beat margarine and brown sugar together until fluffy. Add yogurt, cornstarch, and vanilla. Mix until well combined. Gradually beat in melted chocolate.
  3. Sift together dry ingredients and then add coffee grounds. Gradually add the dry mixture to the wet. Place dough in refrigerator for about 20 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 350.
  5. Remove dough from refrigerator. Place powdered sugar in a separate small bowl.
  6. Scoop 1 TB of dough and form into a ball; continue until all the dough is used. Roll each ball in the powdered sugar until completely coated and there are no visible brown spots.
  7. Place balls on a parchment lined cookie sheet 2" apart. Flatten just slightly. Bake in a pre-heated oven for 10–11 minutes.
  8. Let cool for a minute on cookie sheet and transfer to cooling rack.


Variations 
Omit ground coffee and add: 2 tsp peppermint extract, or 1 tbsp orange zest and 1 tsp orange extract, or 2 tsp raspberry extract.

See You on Sunday!

Eeek! I have honest-to-goodness real postcards! I'm so super excited. The other side has a pretty good recipe to help you out with your holiday baking too. Thanks to Mr. Scissors for hooking me up!

I'll be handing them out, along with some vegan baked treats, on Sunday, 12/18 from 12-3 at the Brinton Lakes Anthropologie. See you then

Awesome: Marimekko Advent Calendar

There is nothing quite as blissful as getting real, honest-to-goodness snail mail, and when that mail contains a Marimekko advent calendar, well, that is almost like nirvana. My wonderful friends, Kaisa and Christoffer, sent this to me all the way from Finland. I love how the numbers aren't in order and the kids have to find the correct number if they want a treat!

12/15/11

Spice in the Kitchen: Vegan Peppermint Mocha Roll Cookies

This is a festive recipe that's perfect for prepping a day or two ahead of a holiday party or a vegan cookie walk. Simply slice, bake and decorate when needed! Store any unused portion of dough in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Peppermint Mocha Roll Cookies (vegan)
makes about 6 dozen

Ingredients

  • 2 12-ounce bags of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup vegan margarine
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy yogurt
  • 2 TB cornstarch
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp peppermint extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 TB espresso powder
  • 1 TB Earth Balance
  • 4-6 candy canes, crushed


Directions

  1. Melt 1 bag of chocolate chips using double broiler or microwave. Let cool slightly
  2. With a mixer, beat margarine and brown sugar together until fluffy. Add yogurt, cornstarch, and vanilla. Mix until well combined. Gradually beat in melted chocolate.
  3. Sift together dry ingredients. Gradually add the dry mixture to the wet. Place dough in fridge overnight.
  4. Remove dough from refrigerator and, in two batches, roll dough into a log shape. Wrap each tightly in a couple layers of plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  5. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350.
  6. Slice each log into 1/4" slices and place 2" apart on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake about 8-9 minutes.
  7. Let cool for a minute on cookie sheet and transfer to cooling rack.
  8. Melt the 2nd bag of chocolate chips and Earth Balance in microwave. Stir until smooth.
  9. Spoon some of the melted chocolate on the top of each cookie and smooth with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle with crushed candy canes and refrigerate to let the chocolate set. Bring to room temperature before serving.