Monthly Archives: December 2012

Top Posts of 2012

generation_cake_crop_color2According to my friendly WordPress stats, these are the most viewed posts of Generation Cake in 2012.

  1. The Eyes of T.J. Eckleburg  September 2012
  2. Vegan Holidays: Hungry Jill Casserole  December 2012
  3. Some Like It Nude: What I Learned Hawking Bras At Victoria’s Secret  August 2012
  4. Practical Crafts: In Process  June 2012
  5. The “I” in Team  September 2012

December, by the way, saw an all time high number of visitors. I have tripled followers and views in the past year. Not too shabby. Thanks for all of you that read, comment, share, and follow. I can’t wait to see what the next year has in store.

XO

A

PS. See you tomorrow as my month-long series on Energy commences! Stay tuned . . .

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Categories: Life and Other Nonsense | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Year of Dragon: Writing in Review

One of my great procrastination devices is reading writing blogs. Established writers, novices, amateurs, people with moderate success for questionable reasons, literary magazine blogs–I adore them. My most recent find (thanks to Unmanned Press on FB) is The Biographical Dictionary of Literary Failure. It’s well-written, touching, and a reminder of the almosts that can become the life of a writer.

There was a time when I thought my writer career would be an almost (and it still may end up that way); however, I have begun the practices that might keep the almost at bay.

Five Fantastic Things in 2012

  • Last summer I made a point of reading and writing every day. By the end the time autumn returned, I had a number of pieces ready for editing, as well as notes for future projects. This also made a habit of daily writing, even if it’s just a paragraph or two.
  • Increasing my Twitter awareness has made a significant impact. By following a selection of literary magazines and writers, I have been accorded several opportunities I would not have been aware of otherwise.
  • Contributing to other blogs like The Baraza and Cinefilles has allowed me to gain the skills of working with editors and collaborators while exploring my interests in pop culture and film.
  • In the past I have not sought out writing exercises (outside of the classroom) just for the sake of exercises. This year I embraced that challenge and although much of what resulted will never be seen by anyone but myself, the experience aided my discovery of something new about my writing that can be used in the future.
  • Finally, this year has seen the publication of several pieces in The Best Women’s Travel Writing 2012, Toasted Cheese Literary Journal, and Sincerely, Fiction. I am grateful to the editors of all of those publications for considering and accepting my work.

Five Fantastic Things Coming in 2013

  • Continued contribution to The Baraza and Cinefilles.
  • A one year stint blogging for Ploughshares.
  • Attending a Margaret Atwood lecture in May–my inner fan girl is about to explode about this one.
  • Hopefully adding to that publication list as there are several things currently under consideration and a number of new pieces about to commence the submission dance.
  • More writing–here, on Generation Cake, and in the literary world. Perhaps the the greatest joy, past and present, is getting to do what I love almost every day and have someone, even a small few, read it.

 

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Count Down to Resolutions

While I’m still recovering from Christmas, the countdown to 2013 seems to have commenced. Facebook, Twitter, WordPress–everything is buzzing with the new year, be it plans for the last night of 2012 or plotting for the flow of 2013. It makes me tired. I just want to curl up for a week or two with some books and leftovers; the world, however, churns on.

My immediate quandaries include what, if anything, we’ll do for New Year’s Eve, who makes inexpensive but tasty vegan champagne, how I can get my son to stop attacking everything with the shark he received from Santa/WWF, and what my resolutions should be for the new year. The last one is tricky. I’ve gotten in the habit of making vague declarations that can neither be proved true or false when held up to scrutiny. It’s a way to tricking myself into believing I’ve accomplished something. Sometimes I have, which is nice, but more often I haven’t, which is a bit naughty of me (see? still in the Christmas mindset).

So what to resolute this coming year? Write more, exercise more, eat better, organize . . . those are realistic, but so predictable and droll. Instead, perhaps I should make a resolution to only eat green foods on Wednesdays. That could fit with eating better and would make my dining a more entertaining experience. Or perhaps I should walk about campus in sneakers with ankle weights on a la Working Girl, my heels tucked in my shoulder bag atop Norton’s Anthology of British Literature.

Over the next few days I’ll be mulling over creative resolutions to share in the new year. Any suggestions? What about you, Cakesters? What are your resolutions?

XO

A

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Generation Cake Wishes You and Yours

A happy and safe holiday. May your day be merry and bright (and may you last until at least 2 pm before you start playing Angry Birds on your phone to keep you from screaming SHUT UP at: a.) your mother, b.) your kids, c.) your spouse, d.) some random relative whose name is unclear, e.) some random person who is the date of some random relative whose name is unclear, or f.) all of the above.

XO under the mistletoe,

A

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Just Push Play: Texas Christmas Anthem

Many people mock, despise, and outright spurn Christmas music. I dig it, myself. Although I covered my list of classics on The Baraza, there is one I forgot to mention: “The Christmas Song” by The Raveonettes.

This song would be rad (to steal one of my best buddy’s favorite words) if it were just a regular song. The fact that they blend the mellow tune and 60s beat with a touch of angst and some sleigh bells–win. And the Jack Skellington pillow and fab typewriter in the video? Win-win.

Most of all as a Texas girl, like the song says, I wish that it would snow.

XO

A

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Vegan Holidays: Drinking Vegan

To finish up my week of recipes and reviews, I thought I’d tap some of my favorite vegan blogs for delicious holiday beverages to make spirits bright.

Rather than reposting the recipes, I’m going to link them so you can visit and enjoy these wonderful blogs.

From Vegan Food Addict: Holiday Chocolate Peppermint Martini

My holly and berries, this is delicious. And potent in the perfect way. Plus I love this simple, chic blog of yumminess.

From The Law Student’s Wife: Mulled Wine

Who doesn’t love some warm spiced wine shared with a loved one? Plus, Erin, the writer of this blog, is just too cute.

From HealLoveBe: Sweet Apple Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

The blog features great posts on health, beauty, food, and happiness. It heals my soul a little each time it turn up in my in box.

From Apron Strings: Vegan Peppermint Nog

A mother-daughter blog that provides a wide range of recipes, although not all vegan. However, this is a yummy recipe that puts me in a Holly Jolly mood.

From Native Foods Cafe: Holiday Punch

Fruity and kid friendly, this punch is pretty (and can be naughtied up for the adults).

From Minimalist Baker: Vegan Mexican Hot Chocolate with Coconut Whipped Cream

More. Now. Again. That is all.

From Vegan Homemade: Hot Toddy

For those holiday sniffles, this is a great cure. And her other recipes are lovely as well.

What about you, Cakesters? What vegan blogs do you love? What holiday recipes do you crave? Sound off below.

XO

A

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The Sweet and The Sour

“Dear to us are those who love us… but dearer are those who reject us as unworthy, for they add another life; they build a heaven before us whereof we had not dreamed, and thereby supply to us new powers out of the recesses of the spirit, and urge us to new and unattempted performances.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Writing, especially in the literary world, is its own paradox of torture and reward. Some people who live in places where it rains, collect rain drops in buckets (or so I am told). I collect rejections in my inbox. There are dry months when nothing comes in, the bucket empty and forgotten. Then suddenly there will be a deluge. I read them in all their form-glory, and empty the bucket, making notes in my spreadsheet as notes are warranted (“want to see more,” “want to see more if I can take more risks”). Mostly, I enter a polite, “decline,” a word that makes me feel less rejected and more, “So and So Press is unable to attend your literary party.” Manners are key (for more on this, read this fantastic post by The Portland Review).

Every once and awhile, however, lightning strikes in the middle of the rain. About a week and a half ago, I received the next to last rejection for a round of simultaneous submissions on a short story. Feeling a little downtrodden, as one does, I thought of pulling the piece from submission rotation. About an hour later, after digesting some Oedipus essays from my Comp II class, I returned to my private email to find a lightening bolt awaiting. It was not an acceptance for the piece; it was an invitation for something different and challenging.

On a whim a six weeks ago, I sent in a proposal to be a regular blogger for Ploughshares Literary Magazine. My writing samples were taken from this blog, The Baraza, and Toasted Cheese Literary Journal. Pitch wise, I selected ideas I would be interested in as a reader, not just a writer. It was a chance in hell shot, but I’ve decided most things are, and, to quote the great Stephen Sondheim, “The harder to get the better to have.”

Ploughshares BlogThe email I received congratulated me, inviting me to join the Ploughshares blog for 16 posts in 2013. I was dumbstruck (and still am a bit). Outlines, deadlines, contracts, marketing–it’s overwhelming and fabulous and just a touch scary. It has also given me a fire, not just for doing a stellar job in the coming year, but for turning up the volume on my own writing. After some revisions, that rejected piece went back into circulation today.

Happy Holidays, dear readers. May your writing days be merry and bright.

 

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Vegan Holidays: Ring of Fire Pickles

Ten years ago today my good friend Staley, who had spent most of early December helping me make gifts from the kitchen, took me out to dinner and, after several hours, asked me out. I can’t even say that this is our dating anniversary. Rather, it is the anniversary of use finally acknowledging that are friendship was something much deeper.

In honor of the wonderful, Johnny Cash-loving man I married, who eats vegan food with a smile even though he loves bacon second to me and our children (it was a sad day when I had to tell him the package of pulled pork he held hopefully in his hand was vegan), I would like to share one of my recipes, one that happens to be his favorite: Ring of Fire Pickles. I can’t say that I invented these–they came from an old cookbook that belonged to my grandmother (and has since fallen apart), albeit with some minor adjustments. These are simple to make and so tasty. I give them as gifts all the time and actually have people bring the jars back to me for refills.

While you can certainly make your own pickles, I don’t have that skill, so my version require premade pickles. Check with the pickle manufacturer to make sure they are vegan, but I find most Kosher dills work. I make mine with slices; you can also do spears or relish. These are amazing on sandwiches, tofu dogs, or just out of the jar (that’s how my husband eats them). Jar them up and give them away. Enjoy!

Ring of Fire Pickles

Ingredients:

2 jars (32 ounces each) sliced dill pickles, spears, or relish (or, buy whole pickles and slice them yourself)

4 cups raw sugar

1 TBS hot pepper sauce (I use Tabasco)

1 tsp hot pepper flakes

Jars for storing pickles

One garlic clove for each jar, peeled

Preparation:

  1. Combine sugar, hot pepper sauce, and pepper flakes in a bowl.
  2. Drain the juice from the pickles. In a large glass bowl, layer 1/4 of the pickles, then top with 1/4 of the sugar-pepper mixture, spreading it to cover all the pickles. Add another layer of pickles and then a layer of the mixture, alternating until you have four layers. Do NOT mix.
  3. Cover the bowl and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.
  4. Uncover the mixture and stir. Recover and leave for another 1 to 2 hours.
  5. Place a peeled garlic clove in the bottom of each jar. Spoon the pickles into the jar, making sure to include some of the juice. Close the jars and refridgerate for about 1 week before eating.

You can certainly break into those pickles right away; however, waiting a week lets the garlic kick in, making them even more yummy. If you really want to turn up the heat, slice up a jalapeno and place one slice in each jar.

XO

A

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Vegan Holidays: Party Meatballs

If you open our freezer, you most certainly be attacked by a falling bag of frozen vegan meatballs. Strangely enough, they are not mine. I keep them on hand for kids. They love them in their lunches, for snacks, or sliced up on sandwiches. I buy them frozen because I could not keep up with production level necessary for their consumption. It is logical then that I would be tempted by Sweet-and-Sour Party Meatballs from Chloe’s Kitchen by Chloe Coscarelli.

Chloe’s claim to fame is as a vegan winner of Cupcake Wars. Her cookbook, however, isn’t just cupcakes. She provides a multitude of recipes, from starters to desserts, as well as some useful basics like how to make your own seitan. Throughout the book she provides useful tips like how to make things ahead, planning menus for special occasions, and general cooking tips. It’s a pretty cookbook filled with colorful pictures of the food.

If I had a criticism it would be that there are almost as many pictures of the lovely Ms. Coscarelli doing highly posed things like eating salad in pajamas (no way I’m eating salad in pajamas–I eat salad where people can see it and think I don’t sneak cookies out of my kids stash) or squeezing a lime in an off the shoulder top. Yes, she’s beautiful, but I really don’t need those types of pictures. Also, her recipe for simple salad is silly. I know how to put lettuce and some veggies in a bowl with rice wine vinegar. A full page dedicated to it is unnecessary.

Her meatballs are delightful. Tangy sauce makes them something more than your average meatball. They would make a particularly good pre-Christmas dinner snack or party food. For those with dog-loving friends, I have also included her recipe for dog treats. While they certainly received the Perdita Paw of Approval, I will probably stick to my normal pibble treats for less fancy occasions.

Sweet-and-Sour Party Meatballs  by Chloe Coscarelli
  • Meat-eater husband and kid approved
  • Kid friendly
Ingredients:
 1 8-oz. pkg. tempeh, or 1 cup cooked brown rice (I used Tempeh)
2 TBS olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 15-oz. can lentils, rinsed and drained
1 cup walnuts, toasted
1/2  cup all-purpose flour, or gluten-free all-purpose flour (I used oat flour)
1  tsp dried basil
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
2 TBS canola oil
Sweet and Sour Sauce as follows:
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup packed brown sugar or maple syrup (Maple syrup)
1/4 cup white or apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 TBS ketchup
2 TBS cornstarch or arrowroot
In a medium saucepan, whisk together water, brown sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, ketchup and cornstarch. Heat the sauce over medium-high heat until it comes to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, whisking frequently, until the mixture has thickened and big syrupy bubbles appear on the surface.
Preparation for Meatballs:
  1. Fill a large pot with enough water to reach the bottom of a steamer basket. Using a knife or your hands, break tempeh into 4 pieces and place in the basket. Cover and steam for 20 minutes. Check the pot occasionally and add more water if necessary. Steaming the tempeh will remove its bitterness.
  2. In the meantime, heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, and sauté onions until soft and lightly browned. Add garlic and cook a few more minutes. Transfer to a food processor. Reserve skillet for later use.
  3. Add steamed tempeh, lentils, walnuts, flour, basil, salt, and pepper to the onions in the food processor. Pulse until the walnut pieces are very fine and the mixture comes together. If necessary, transfer the mixture to a large bowl and mix with your hands. Adjust seasoning to taste. With the palms of your hands, form the mixture into 1-“ balls.
  4. Heat oil in non stick skillet over medium high heat, and pan fry meatballs in batches, adding more oil as needed.  Rotate the meatballs with a wooden spoon so that they brown on all sides. Remove meatballs from the pan using 2 forks or slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Transfer to serving platter and spoon Sweet-and-Sour Sauce on top.
Perdita Paw

Perdita Paw Approval: My name is Perdita Jewel and I approve this recipe.

Peanut Butter Dog Treats

Ingredients:

2 cups of whole wheat flour

1/2 cup of water, plus extra as needed

1/3 cup creamy peanut butter

1 TBS blackstrap molasses (I used maple syrup)

2 cups vegan carob chips

Preparation:

  1. Preheat the oven to 300.
  2. Mix together flour, water, peanut butter, and molasses with a spoon until combined. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of water so that they dough comes together and is moist.
  3. Put the dough on a floured surface and press with your hands until it is about 1/4 inch thick. Cut out the threats and place them close together on a large baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes. Turn off the oven and leave the treats in the oven overnight or for several hours to harden.
  5. When treats are dried and cool, melt the carob chips, if using, in a double boiler or the microwave. Dip half of each treat into the melted carob and set them on a rack to dry. Store in a container for up to two weeks.

XO

A

Categories: Feed the Belly, Life and Other Nonsense | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Vegan Holidays: Cranberry-Apple Bread

One staple of the holidays in my part of the world is yummy breads. We give and receive them as gifts and enjoy them for breakfast. Finding a bread I like it a bit tricky–I don’t care for banana bread or anything with raisins. So this year I tried out Cranberry Apple Bread from Vegan Cooking for Carnivores by Roberto Martin.

Vegan Cooking for Carnivores: Over 125 Recipes So Tasty You Won't Miss the MeatI have previously reviewed Martin’s book in this post, and my initial critique remains true. As with yesterday’s book, Martin does rely too heavily on processed stuff (the recipe calls for egg replacer), but I have learned to use other books like Cookin’ Crunk and a book I’ll review tomorrow to do more homemade versions of his processed stuff.

 

DSCN1777This bread whipped together quickly–I’d say about 5 minutes of prep and then the 45 minutes in the oven. I should have chopped the apples a bit smaller, but otherwise it came out beautifully. My substitutions are noted in red. I highly recommend this, especially as the recipe provides one to eat and one to gift.

Cranberry-Apple Bread

  • Quick
  • Easy
  • Kid friendly
  • Meat-eater husband and kid approved

Ingredients:

2 cups organic bread flour (I used a mix of 1 cup oat and 1 cup whole wheat)

1 TBS baking powder

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

2 TBS egg replacer, mixed with 1/4 cup warm water (I used 1/2 cup apple sauce)

1/2 cup agave

8 TBS vegan butter

1 1/2 cups water

1 cup dried cranberries (I used 1/2 cup cranberries, 1/2 cup cherries)

1 large apple, peeled and diced

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Place the first seven ingredients in a mixing bowl in the order listed and mix well with a wooden spoon.
  3. Gently stir in fruit.
  4. Pour equal amounts of batter into two greased loaf pans and bake for 45 minutes of until a toothpick inserted comes about clean.
  5. Let cool in pan before slicing.

XO

A

PS. Tomorrow brings more treats for those on your list.

 

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