Tuesday, December 17, 2013

My Bustacraftacular Sunday In Chelsea!

How many can say that they were greeted and almost spanked by sexily clad Tina Fey? Well, more specifically Tina Fey as a magnified scale Bust Magazine cover lady on board? Only those who came, saw, and conquered.
This past Sunday, just a few days ago, I made a last minute decision to attend Bust Magazine's Craftacular & Food Fare, awesome two-day holiday craft fair. Had such a marvelous time.
However, before enjoying the wonderful company of sweet, talented artisan women and before an adorable Adopt-A-Pup kissed me and I liked it some ditzy shenanigans happened.
I almost missed the 5AM Megabus (it was a cheap steal for $9!) due to my MFL SEPTA just passing me by. Two minutes! It came two freaking minutes early! With only nine measly minutes left, I hailed a taxi and told him to put the pedal to the metal.
"To the 30th Street Station where the Megabus stop is!" I exhaled, though not in that exact fancy fashion. My fingers were digging into the seat. Palms that were once nearing frostbitten territory, despite wearing killer Therasulin gloves, sweated with anticipation and dwindling hope. I hate to say it, but I prayed roads were so slippery that the bus would be delayed or that the Abominable Snowman from Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer gave the driver a fear so frightening that the bus made a frantic u-turn.
The cabbie was nice and said, "you'll make it. Don't worry!"
Alas, he was right.
I made the Megabus right behind a modest line.
Now when I got to New York, my plan was to go to the Starbucks nearest the Metropolitan Pavilion where the main event would take place.  Now, I'm not the best at understanding Google's special brand of NYC directions. I got off the Megabus on 7th and 28th Avenue and was supposed to walk down to 15th Street. Did that. However, I didn't stay on 7th. I ended up along scary, sinister ice and traffic and almost met a grisly death at Hudson River. I knew I should've packed salt. Winter is nothing to sneeze at.  Until you get a cold. Then yes. Lots of sneezing ensues.
May be a beautiful sight, but it was slippery up there! Whoa nelly!
I was seriously very close to going in and asking for clarification on these directions. Dead serious.
A lady running late for work gave a lost woman advice. We walked and talked as she said:
"I think it would help if you find the Metropolitan Pavilion first and it's just three blocks that way."
By then it was 8 AM. So I had been out in the cold for a whole hour just looking for a nearby Starbucks. And yes, I passed by three locations, but I, the determined-not-to-get-lost individual had a specific choice in mind. Plus Google said it would only be a twenty minute journey. Wrong.

8:15 AM Metropolitan Pavilion shot. I spy them getting ready for Day 2.
So I found a Starbucks, had a free hot chocolate (waving Gold card flag), and consumed leftover Nog scones.
Already sugar high and delighted, I made my way jovially to the Bust Craftacular with a huge ole smile.
"Yes!" bellowed inside my head like a victorious champion.
I paid the $3 admission, received a great goodie bag, and entered a raffle.

Goodie tote bag featured a Bust Magazine, Nick Bantock's The Trickster's Hat: A Mischievous Apprenticeship in Creativity, a compilation cd called New Arrivals: Volume 2, & 4 Sublime Stitching's sew-in woven labels (oh yes! I love anything made by unicorns). Not bad for a $3 entry fee!!! 
They had a tree all festively decorated. Hayley's red hair bringing brightness of the spirit.
Shameless love alert: OMG!!! An Issa Rae, creator of the phenomenal web series Awkward Black Girl!, interview??? Swoon!!! Sorry. I just love her. Smart, brilliant, funny, creative, honest, and ala naturale. The low fro cut is darling too. Soooo excited about her pilot with Shonda Rimes (please come on tomorrow!!!) Good job Lisa Butterworth- the writer & Verity Jane Smith- the photographer.
Amongst the jamming music (shocked to find no dance floor), I strolled over booths containing unique, handmade gifts. After rolling the dice twice and scoring 10% off, my first purchase was a soft cotton tank from the kind, gentle ladies of MettaT. The message is near and dear to the heart of every vegan: "may all beings be peaceful." Yes indeed. Though the quote is on the back, I plan to wear it backwards.
I met Dahveenya, the lovely owner of Plastic Heaven. She makes the most wonderful scarves and I certainly hope to acquire a piece of her work. She let me have 2 business cards. Just love the powerful symbolism of the free flying fro, especially adorned with her handiwork. What a talent!
Next to Plastic Heaven's booth was Melissa's Metal Sugar! I loved these brassiere necklaces!
I also found an adorable chick that will probably be my future engagement ring. Gotta love those rubber ducks right?
I had no choice but to buy the rubber duck earrings. They are yellow gold over sterling silver & were frankly too irresistible to pass up!
I sampled delicious Maya's Jams made from 100% REAL fruit! The cherry & blueberry were my favorites. I also tried quince for the first time and had pear jam to boot just to see the difference! I think I may be buying quince in my future. Very interesting flavor. Bought Ma a sample trio!
I headed off to visit JWhite Originals creator, Jessica, another person I discovered on Instagram! She hand designs and hand screenprints all of her pieces with eco friendly inks on various surfaces. The images are diverse and unique, inspired by various cultures. I bought my first pair of Egyptian panties and a Spinx sticker!
Chickpea & Olive offered up splendid vegan fare and free samples of scrapped truffles! "Peace on a plate" is their motto and they're organic! I got a mini box of truffles for Ma.
At the recommendation of Lois from LOVE Lois Vegan Eats, I went to a restaurant called Terri, which has an impressive array of vegan delights. This delicious meatball sandwich was to die for! So fulfilling and amazing thanks to the addition of melted Daiya and a side of marinara sauce. Mmmmmhmmmm!
I really, REALLY enjoyed this raspberry crumb bar- a self indulgent from Chickpea & Olive. Fantastic! Simply fantastic raspberry heaven sandwiched between oaty goodness! Why didn't I buy two?
While I was in the bathroom, this happened. An actual owl jumper!!! Isn't it cute? I don't think I could pull this off.
My beloved Frida was resurrected in vivacious glass form thanks to EFM Studio!
Fair Isle has everything for us vegan beauty loves from lip balms, hand creams, and soaps handcrafted with natural organic nature. They also had infused oils, cookie mixes inside jars, syrups (I'll have to try the Wild Grape Nantucket Syrup- sounds yummy!), and preserves!
Check out the amazing ceramics from Doreen Baskin! Just beautiful craftswomanship and bright, vivid color.
Had a delightful Chelsea rendezvous at Flavaboom.  Despite the coldness of the outdoors, I devoured a concoction of Pomegranate-Raspberry Sorbet topped with fresh pineapples & shredded coconut flakes. Divine bliss!
Scored some tights to add to the growing collection from Old Navy (royal blue with turquoise polka dots!) & TJ Maxx (Christmas red with abstract burgundy line design).
Jams, truffles, and Kenyan tea (okay, from Marshall's but still...) will make Ma happy come next Wednesday. Also bought gorgeous vintage inspired earrings for my BFF from Fleurs Jolies (not pictured until after Christmas, she visits this site. Ha!).
I left New York City on a Megabus without power outlets and heat, but there was light, a Bust Magazine and Nick Bantock to keep me entertained for two hours straight.
So closing, rather in cheesy form, I must say thank you to Bust Magazine for making my Sunday not a complete bust! Maybe we'll see each other again next year.
Oh and lemme see if someone is selling their Janelle Monae cover girl back issue! How did I miss that????

Monday, December 16, 2013

Vegan Miniature Holiday Nog Carob Chip Scones

Mmmmhmmmm. These scones are made with so much holiday cheer, Santa would be almost envious! A hint and a wink for every vegan (or curious visitor) that cherishes the Mrs. Claus baking inside of us.
Tis the season! We're moving right into the nitty gritty of the infectious spirit.
The first semester at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fines Arts is over. I would say no more work is in store, but this is only a three week much needed relaxation. Frankly, I would be lying if I said I wouldn't be making any art. Heehee!
Now is the time to celebrate giving season with family and dear old friends. As you all know, I was home three weeks ago and am going back again to spend both Christmas and New Year's. Despite how much I've grown to appreciate and enjoy Philadelphia and its partying sister, New York City (Chelsea especially), I suppose my friend is right- I'm just a simple Daytonian through and through.
Now today's menu is quite a special treat- yummy scrumptious, out of this world scones!
Recently discovered that Calfia Farms makes an awesome, authentically brilliant Nog that tastes like the real thing. It also happens to be a little less guiltier than the dairy version. And Whole Foods is selling it for $3.99 ( a $1 off) until the 31st of this month! So please go out and try a four ounce cup or more. It's delicious.
Except here in these sweet addicting scones tells another story. The flavor is amped up with carob chocolate chips, crunchy walnuts, and spices that give these nog scones some good loving. One might manage to eat more than their fair share of goodness. I'm strictly speaking about Santa, of course, but if that includes you or me....

Vegan Miniature Holiday Nog Carob Chip Scones Ingredients and Preparation

3 1/2 cups flour (used 1 cup oat & 2 1/2 cups all purpose)
1/2 cup agave nectar or maple syrup
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 cup almond meal
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup crushed walnuts
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger
2 1/2- 3 cup Califia Farms Holiday Nog
1/4 cup Sunspire carob chocolate chips
generous sprinkling of turbinado sugar & cinnamon for topping (optional)

First fold flour and sweetener choice.
Add baking powder, almond meal, salt, and walnuts. Stir.
Mix in vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.
Stir in Holiday Nog 1/4-1/2 cup at a time.
Fold in the chocolate chips.
Do not over mix.
Only knead a tiny bit. Never overdo scone batter. Let rest for 2 hours at room temperature.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place scone batter onto cookie sheet. It should be thicker than an average cookie, almost but not quite thinner than the standard brownie. Use a pizza cutter to make long rectangles and turn those rectangles into signature scone triangles.
Closeup of the red & green sprinkle action. Bake for 18-20 minutes until edges are well browned.
Delightful little scones dancing on a plate even though the red/green sprinkles have lost their merry seasonal colors! You can always sprinkle a bit more to recapture the yuletide magic!
They were also very lovely accompaniment to a piping hot Starbucks beverage. Nom nom indeed!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Goodbye November, Hello Death Defying Vegan Havarti-Cheddar Baked Macaroni & Cheese

The ultimate holiday macaroni and cheese!
Oh my gosh! November came and went quickly. Leaves me a bit teary eyed that 2013 is drawing to a close. It's been a monumental, eventful time of growth and challenge- emotionally, physically, and mentally. I already look forward to 2014 with fresh prospective and eager insight. I'm always ready for whatever comes my way. Was that jumping the gun a bit? Maybe so. We have 31 days until I get mushier.
Thanksgiving was lovely by the way.
I went back to Dayton to see my family and old beloved friends. Though I sit here at a packed Philly Starbucks (just got back to town past noon) smelling aromatic coffee beans amongst a packed crowd of mostly little girls wearing tons of makeup and Shirley Temple curls (holiday pageant?), I still remember modest, quiet upbringing and those individuals that make a small heart swell bigger than a Grinch discovering the true meaning of Christmas. 
This year, inside very missed kitchen, I prepared the popular Walnut, Asparagus, And Portobello Mushroom Couscous Stuffing, Roasted Red Skinned Mashed Potatoes (recipe later), and this incredible ooey gooey baked macaroni and cheese. Yes! Here goes yet another mac n cheese recipe.  One can never have too many spins on such a wonderful dish!
Barilla's new elbow macaroni made with 25% carrot and squash puree provided innovation. The color alone is more beautiful than the average mac. Two Daiya cheeses- cheddar and Jalapeno Garlic Havarti are wickedly blended together with almond milk, nutritional yeast (which brings it to three cheese right?) to make for a thick, rich sauce. Pinch of paprika amps the flavors of cheesy, veggie enhanced pasta goodness. 
Bring this easy to craft dish to the next holiday gathering and no one would believe it dairy/cruelty free. It's that amazing!

Death Defying Havarti-Cheddar Baked Macaroni & Cheese

1 lb. Barilla Veggie Macaroni ( 1 1/2 boxes)
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 1/3 cup almond milk (or any other dairy free milk)
1/2 Daiya Jalapeno Garlic Havarti Wedge, diced
1 1/2 cup Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
2 teaspoon Italian seasonings
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika

In an oiled dish, pour cooked macaroni. See I wasn't lying about those beautiful golden elbows!
Cheese sauce prep. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Bring desired milk to a modest boil.
Gradually add cheeses and spices, whisking frequently. Lower heat.
Thick cheese sauce at ready.
Pour hot sauce over the macaroni in intervals of 1/2 cup or so, stirring evenly. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
Until voila! it explodes in the oven. I quite like it though.
Perfect accompaniment to any holiday meal.