Best Birthday Cake Ever


One thing I wanted for my birthday was a cake so cool that when it was presented, everyone would clap and cheer, just like they do for the Cake Boss. Simple enough, right? So my friend Andrea decided that instead of paying a ton of money to get an awesome cake for me, she’d do it herself!

The only thing I knew about it was that it was going to be lavender/lemon flavored and that I was going to really like it. She totally exceeded my expectations, and when she presented the cake, everyone cheered and clapped. No joke!

She made the base round cake, covered it in fondant she also made herself, used a stamping tool to look like basket weave, and intertwined the rolled fondant edge. She (I think) scooped other baked pieces into 3 round spheres and covered them with fondant and fondant spaghetti shaped stuff made from like a play-doh press.

The final, though inedible, touch was the knitting needles she stuck in the top.

I can’t decide if it tasted better or looked better.

But thanks to the photos I get to have my cake, and I ate it too.

Andrea- care to comment on your work?


Israeli Couscous with Apricots and Pistachios


It is impossible to make a bad dish out of Veganomican. This is a must-have cookbook whether you’re vegetarian, vegan, flexitarian, pescatarian, omnivore, whatever. If you eat, you need this cookbook.

So anyway, this recipe started with chopping up some garlic, pistachios, and apricots.

Then toast some Israeli couscous.

Add water and the nuts and fruits to the pan, let it boil, then simmer. Add some basil and lime, and enjoy!

New Sweater…. Sort Of


I bought a new sweater!

All I have to do is make it.

This sweater will be made with Malabrigo which means I’ll wear it once and wait a year before actually hand-washing it to wear it again. I’m also working on it as part of a Knit-A-Long (KAL) at Sifu Design Studio, which means several other people are working on the same sweater at the same time, so we can share tips and techniques and stay motivated. I’ll cast-on (start) just as soon as I finish

my mittens


and a hat for baby John.




So as you can see, I will definitely have a new sweater just in time for August.

If I’m lucky.

Memorials in Berlin


It’s not easy to admit you were wrong. It’s not easy to own up to a history you’d like to forget. Yet the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin is a striking and overwhelming admission of unimaginable pain caused. Walking up to the memorial, it is difficult to tell exactly what it is. There are no markings, and it appears to be a fairly level set of grey concrete blocks, or stelae.

As you walk further in, you realize the ground is uneven and slopes downward as you move toward the center of the over 200,000 square foot memorial. Though the blocks on the outer edges are only about a foot tall, the ones in the center tower over fifteen feet tall. It isn’t disorienting, but it gives a sense of isolation and uncertainty.

I was not prepared for the surge of emotion I felt walking through the memorial.

I remember it in complete silence. I’m sure there were people talking, city noises, birds and other wildlife, but my memory is silence.

The holocaust claimed victims of many minorities, not just Jewish victims. Targeted groups included Jehovah’s Witnesses, Gypsies (Roma), and others.

Gay men were another targeted group. Instead of the Star of David, they were made to wear a pink triangle as an identification piece, a symbol now reclaimed as an icon of gay pride. Across the street from the main memorial, there stands a single stelae with a window. This is the memorial for the gay victims of the Holocaust.

When you peer inside the window, you see a video playing. This image is a still from that video.

When I saw it, all I could think of was love in its purest form. To me, the video stood in stark contrast to the memorials. While everything else evoked feelings of deep sorrow, loss, and grief, watching this video made me feel hope.

Individual Figgy Apple Pies


My mom bought me Vegan Pie in the Sky for Christmas. The first recipe I tried out was the Cosmos Apple Pie. I really think Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero are mind readers, or at least, they know their audience. Their cookbook stated that this apple pie would be the first recipe tried. When I bought their cookbook the Veganomican, I first flipped to the dessert section, where I was surprised to read, “We figured you’d flip here first…”

So anyway, the second recipe I tried from the pie cookbook was the Figgy Apple Hand Pies, since I still had a couple of granny smiths leftover, not to mention a couple slices of apple pie still in the fridge.

I’m not going to reveal the recipe- you’ll have to get the cookbook yourself, but I will show you the outline.

First, you need to make the crust by combining flour with non-hydrogenated margarine and soy yogurt among a few other things.

When it’s all combined, you have to refrigerate it for a bit while you make the filling. The filling is basically apples, figs, maple syrup and cinnamon that gets cooked to perfection before being baked.

Then you roll out the dough, cut it into smaller rectangles, fill them up, fold them over, and bake.

Once that’s all done, let them cool, and enjoy!

As is everything developed by these cookbook authors, these hand pies are delicious. The crust is flaky and soft, but hold together perfectly. The filling is sweet, but not too sweet. They’re good enough to share, but you’ll probably end up keeping them.

Peppers stuffed with spaghetti? This one I just made up.


We had three green bell peppers that we needed to use up. So at the grocery store, I thought about making pasta with peppers in the sauce. Then I thought, what about stuffing the peppers with the pasta instead? The pasta that caught my eye was really cool. It’s like spaghettaroni, a long hollow tube.

This dish is fairly healthful and quite simple to make. Just clean and boil the peppers, and boil the pasta. I also finely chopped half an onion, another half pepper, and a carrot (cleaned out the crisper) and cooked these in a cast iron. Then I mixed a package of soft tofu with a quarter pound of ricotta cheese and added an herb that smelled Italian (it was unlabeled in a bag from the bulk section). When I’ve served dishes (lasagna, baked spaghetti, etc) with this tofu/cheese mixture, people never guess it’s tofu and not all ricotta cheese. So it saves a lot of calories and tastes great too.

After I drained the pasta, I added it to the tofu/cheese mixture, then included the cooked onion/pepper/carrot.

I messily overfilled the peppers with this pasta mixture.

As usual, I made too much of the stuffing, so I just put the extras all around the sides of the peppers. I topped it all with a jar of pasta sauce and used my new rotary grater to put a bit of shredded Asiago on top. Then I baked it for about half an hour.

After dinner, I was stuffed!

Haiti Earthquake: Two Years Later


My husband took this photo on December 28, 2011, just weeks before the two year anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti.

This sight leaves many to wonder, where has the aid money gone? Right after the quake, there was a tremendous outpouring of money. About one out of every ten Americans donated money to Haiti, and that is incredibly impressive. So I understand why my friends and family have grown tired of me asking for more money for the arts center I work for and support in Jacmel, Haiti. Enough money was pledged or donated to give every Haitian over $300. So why is the Presidential Palace still in ruins? Why are there hundreds of thousands of people who have called a tent “home” for the last two years?

The best answers I’ve found were written by Bill Quigley and Amber Ramanauskas and was published on The article is worth reading in its entirety, so I’m posting the long link in case the click-through doesn’t work for you.

I’ll also summarize it for you.

The United States received more of the US donated money than Haiti did. This mostly went to the US Army and also large non-governmental organizations (NGOs) like Save the Children or UNICEF. Less than 1% of the money went directly to Haiti or to the Haitian government. Very little money ever reached Haitian people, businesses, or Haitian NGOs. Most of the money went to large US based NGOs that have not been explicit on how they spent it. For-profit companies got some of the money. Some of the money was pledged but never distributed. Some of it isn’t spent yet.

This article ends by saying something I fully agree with. To help Haiti monetarily, give money directly to Haitian people, businesses, and Haitian NGOs. Haitians are the people who are truly solving their problems and dealing with their day-to-day struggles and solutions. The money should be spent to directly promote jobs, education, and skills for Haitians.

The arts center I support is just that. We are a partnership with Haitians. We provide classes, materials, and a safe space for children and the community. Our goal is to pay the Haitians who have tirelessly volunteered to keep the center running. If you donate to Jakmel Ekspresyons arts center, you will be able to see exactly how your money is spent and the people you directly benefit. Thanks.