Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Less than half an hour to midnight.  I'm listening to the wind rushing and whooshing against the trees and house outside.  Something exciting about a powerful wind raging on a dark, chilly night.  Was inspired by this quote by e.e. cummings as autumn is on the verge of leaving us, and thankfully so.  Cannot bask in spring until winter has come and gone.

A wind has blown the rain away and blown the sky away and all the leaves away, and the trees stand. I think, I too, have known autumn too long.
e.e. cummings

Last Day of November

November is a big month.  The first stirrings of winter- light snow, bare trees, down coat, long nights.  Celebrating thanksgiving and togetherness with friends and family.
With the holiday season- Solstice, Hanukkah, Christmas- right around the corner, I just wanted to take one last moment to bask in November.  Life passes by much too quickly and it's good to hold onto the moment before it is gone.
This poem by American poet Elizabeth Coatsworth captures November well:

November comes
And November goes,
With the last red berries
And the first white snows.

With night coming early,
And dawn coming late,
And ice in the bucket
And frost by the gate.

The fires burn
And the kettles sing,
And earth sinks to rest
Until next spring.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Really Good Gluten-Free Brownies

I do a lot of baking during the holiday season.  I love trying different ingredients out in the kitchen and found this lovely organic coconut flour by Let's Do...Organic.   Perfect for gluten free baking and higher in fiber than most flours.

I took their recipe for wheat free brownies from the back of the bag and altered it- trying to create a somewhat healthier version.  It originally called for a lot of eggs, more sugar, no bananas/applesauce- which I'm sure is delicious, but since I added vegan marshmallows, tried not to make it too rich.  This is a double batch in 13x 9 Pyrex dish.

Hope's Wheat Free Brownies

8 eggs
2/3 c butter
1 c cocoa powder
1 1/2 c brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/3 c unsweetened applesauce
1 cup Ghiradelli semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 c organic coconut flour
1 large banana, mashed
1/2 c Sweet & Sara's Marshmallows (if you want these to be totally gluten-free, add a gluten-free marshmallow- these are processed in a plant with wheat products)

Preheat oven to 350.  In a saucepan over low heat, blend butter and cocoa powder.  Remove from heat and let cool.  In a separate bowl, mix eggs, sugan, vanilla, applesauce, and mashed banana.  Stir this into the cocoa mixture.  Then slowly add the coconut flour until batter is no longer lumpy.  Pour into pre-greased Pyrex (13x9) glass baking dish.  Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly on top of batter.  Cook about 45-60 min.- testing w/ knife or toothpick.  Chop marshmallows into 1/2" bits and gently push into the brownie.  You can bake the marshmallows too, but my son and I thought they tasted better when added at the last minute.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Free Holiday Shipping!!!

Yes, Thanksgiving is almost here and it is surprisingly warm in the Catskills today. Hard to believe it in this weather, but the time for holiday shopping has begun.
In honor of Black Friday & Cyber Monday, I'm offering free shipping within the US & discounted worldwide shipping on all journals, cards, and postcards in Blackbird & Peacock

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Vegan Mofo Fav Food: Sweet & Sara's Marshmallows

I'm not a big fan of marshmallows, probably because they aren't technically vegetarian AND come out of a plastic bag. Typically, I prefer savory over sweet. My son has a sweet tooth, though, and when I saw Sweet & Sara's vegan Vanilla Marshmallows at Cooperstown Natural Foods, they became my 'impulse' purchase of the day.

What I loved about these: they don't taste as disgustingly unnatural as most marshmallows do. Where some vegan products fail is that they often try to replicate a food item, but the vegan version will end up being way more processed than the meaty counterpart. For example, I can't stomach most vegan cheeses. Taste horrible and the ingredient list is far from natural.
What Soren loved: They taste better than marshmallows.
These are handmade and the texture is so much nicer- a little firmer. They keep for several weeks and need to be refrigerated. I cut them up in bits and add them to my brownies- although Soren and I found that they taste better added the minute the brownies emerge from the oven.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Vegan Mofo Recipe, 2: Last of the Harvest

I love fresh veggies.  After years of moving, I often fantasized about having a large garden.  The growing season for garden veggies ended a month or so ago here, which makes me sad.  I love the Catskills, but the short growing season makes me wish I settled somewhere warmer.

This Halloween weekend, my husband, son and I traveled to southeast Pennsylvania to visit family and friends.  The growing season lasts a few weeks longer and my parents have a garden, so I was much appreciative when Mom loaded us up with hot and sweet peppers, cherry and roma tomatoes, oregano and rosemary- all straight from her garden (which is organic).  Also scored Mom's homemade pickles, which are my son's favorite pickles in the universe.  If that weren't enough, organic gardener/cook extraordinaire, Debra Parry, gifted me her delicious hot relish.

Today I was finishing up the last bits of the harvest down south and made a delicious vegan lunch.

Here's the recipe, serves 1:
Saute 1/3 small green pepper (strips) and 1/2 small onion (1/2 inch slices) in olive oil spray on medium heat until soft and mushy.  Mash 1/2 small avocado with 1 tsp. mustard.  Spray 2 slices whole wheat bread with olive oil spray and lightly toast.  Spread avocado mixture on one slice and 1 TBSP hot relish on the other.  Layer thinly sliced tomatoes (2 slices is great), 1 lettuce leaf, pickle slices, and pepper/onion mixture.  Open wide and enjoy!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

‎2nd Annual Studio Holiday Sale Extravaganza

Big Bad Art Collective and Studio 2029 are hosting The 2nd Annual Studio Holiday Sale Extravaganza!!!!!  Saturday, December 11th at noon- 8 p.m.  16-20 East End Avenue, Oneonta, NY.

 Come on over to the East End and check out what local artists have been making.

Jewelry, art prints, vegan soaps, paintings, ceramics, knitted goods, holiday cards, journals and postcards, items for kids, and more kool handcrafted stuff will be available for sale.

Work by local artists/crafters: David Kenny, Karin Bremer, Diana Cozzens, Joseph Von Stengel, Hope Von Stengel, Stephanie Rozene, Caitlyn Davey, Dorothy Wisnewski, Elizabeth Brzezenski, and Lori Kenney-Dozel.

Wine, beer, coffee, tea and all sorts of delicious treaty goodies will be available to enjoy. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Vegan MoFo Recipe: Mushroom and Rice Miso Soup

Been really into making combinations of mushroom and miso soups lately.  In the past, I've made mushroom and onion miso soup, mushroom and tofu miso soup with spring onions, and spicy pepper and mushroom miso soup.  Usually these are soups for one.  Really easy to make, warming, and healthy.
This week I had some leftover rice, which was the inspiration for this.  

I always saute the veggies/tofu first in about tsp. of olive oil or sesame oil.  This time I used 5 porcini mushrooms, a few slices of banana pepper, and 1/2 cup of leftover brown rice.  Cook until mushrooms are soft.

Heat 1 cup of water in tea kettle.  Right before boiling pour it into your bowl and add about 1 1/2 tsp. miso.  I used yellow miso.  Stir until miso is dissolved and add veggies.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Snowy Afternoon

It's snowing!  Not the first time it has snowed in Oneonta this fall, but the most I've seen land so far.  Just took these pics about 10 minutes ago and already more snow has accumulated.

When my puppy, Owen, came home with us from the Humane Society last January it was snow season.  He loved jumping and playing in the snow then and when I took him outside with me today to take photographs, he raced around the yard.  Here is our buddy, Owen, curiously watching the snow fall, in a rare moment of stillness.

Still snowing as I'm writing this.  Hard to believe that it was bright and sunny this morning.  Not a big fan of cold weather, I do love watching the snowflakes land while sipping a steaming cup of tea.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Totally Radical Holiday Cards

Joe and I have been busy little elves creating some awesome holiday cards.  Between Winter Solstice, Christmas and New Years' Eve, we do a lot of celebrating this time of year.  Already started making cards for family and friends, but here are a few from our store

Really into collage and retro holiday decorations.  This combines a bit of both.  Had to tear off each little piece of rice paper to create the snow, but it was worth it.

My husband created this rad design for a card.  Long live the mixed tape! holiday mix

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Lovely Time at Alex & Ika Restaurant

I write a weekly restaurant feature on local restaurants in Oneonta and had such a fabulous lunch at Alex and Ika's Restaurant in Cooperstown that I had to blog about it, but haven't had the time until now.
Alex & Ika's is rare find on this side of the Catskills. Not that there aren't some wonderful restaurants in this area, but Alex excels at balancing the fine line between appealing to the gourmand and casual diner. How does he pull this off?
My husband and I sat down with executive chef and owner Alex Webster, his sons Oskar and Lukas, and PR extraordinaire, Elizabeth Huntington, to find out what has made Alex and Ika so successful over the years. He credits a reliable and happy staff, making everything from the
dressings to the soups from scratch, using key ingredients like coarse grain sea salt, and creating an establishment that is family friendly for customers and his own family.
Sure, these things do make a difference. But the food had an attention to detail that isn't common in this area. My eggplant was cooked to perfection, with exactly the right proportion of cheese/sauce/eggplant/breading. Usually I find cheesecake a little garishly rich, but theirs is creamy but not overwhelming. I love that the fingerling potato fries weren't anything you would expect. They were mashed, crispy bites of deliciousness accompanied by a chipolte aioli dip that made ketchup seem overwhelmingly ordinary. And I could rave about the wine and drink list- amazing- but don't have enough space.
The restaurant also has character. Alex is also an artist and it shows. The mirrors and artwork and bar (erected from the wood of an old bowling alley) become part of the visual ingredient necessary to "dining out". There is a reason why I let my husband, Joe, take over as interior decorator at home- he's an artist and knows how to create ambiance.
One last reason to go. Alex and the kids and Elizabeth are incredibly nice people. Oh, and it's vegetarian friendly.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

DIY Gifting: Part 3, Knitting Hits and Misses with Dorothy Wisnewski

Not sure how everyone else's gift making for the holiday season is coming along, but so far I have yet to make ornaments- although I have bought some of the materials.  I have made quite a few cards.  Baking does not commence until December.  Right now my biggest obstacles are keeping the cat off of my dining room table (a.k.a. crafting table) and not losing momentum.
It is November, however, and whether you celebrate Christmas, Solstice, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, if you are making your own gifts, then it's time to get going!
Just to get you started, here is some inspiration from crafty lady Dorothy Wisnewski .  Dorothy has created many knitted gifts in the past for friends and family and dishes the dirt to BBAC on past gifting hits and misses:

"Now, past gifts. I have given some stuffed animals that I knitted and were received well.  A few years back there was a monkey I made for a little girl, who named it Daffodil Moons. 

More recently I've done two little lambs (not from my original pattern, though), which also were a hit. It helps that I figured out how to embroider the faces properly! And I made Audrey a bat, which she quite liked, and also is loved by Lucian.

But there have definitely been some comical misses. The first sweater I made for Jeremy (Dorothy's husband) was not quite the right fit or size, so he wore it a few times and then stopped. But he never told me why. Finally, he insisted that we keep it around anyway, because it was the first full-size sweater I had made, which is kind of momentous in the career of a knitter. I, on the other hand, had intended to knit a useful thing, and did not appreciate this monstrosity sitting in my house mocking my inadequacies as a designer and tailor. So I ripped out every stitch, balled up all the yarn again, and have begun knitting it into a different sweater for him. There's still a chance this one won't work either, becuase of different design choices on my part, in which case it will become a vest and I will wash my hands of it.

The other funny failure that comes to mind also happens to be a sweater. (They're so conducive to imperfection!) When I was pregnant with Lucian, I wanted to make something special for Audrey, so that her baby brother wouldn't be the only one benefitting from people's generosity. So I made her a big sister hoodie, out of a lovely soft cotton blend, very comfy, with pretty cables all over. Since it was to be a surprise, I couldn't have her try it on as I knitted, but I knew that I didn't want her to outgrow such a labor-intensive sweater right away, so I sized it generously. Well, that was a year and a half ago, and we think she probably has another year or two before she can wear it. Oops."

Monday, November 1, 2010

EtsyVeg Spooktacular Event! Not too late!!!

It's Day 6 of the EtsyVeg Team Spooktacular Event.  Only 1 day left!!!  etsyveg spooktacular event  Storewide sales, giveaways, and more.