Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Turkey Day!

Happy Turkey Day everyone!  Thanksgiving is my favorite time of the year.  Not because I particularly care for turkey- I'm really not a huge fan.  No, it's my favorite time of the year because it starts my birthday season!

Yes, I did say "season".  And I love it.  See, when your birthday falls so closely to Christmas, you feel like the festivities start on your birthday (or in this year's case, Thanksgiving, which is two days before my birthday) and then continues all the way through the New Year!  Of course I realize that most of the parties aren't for me.  But the lights, the presents, the seeing family and friends that you don't get to see often, and the inevitable blow-up creation that graces the front lawns of people's decorated houses- you can't beat it!  And when you start the month in a festive mood, it just gets better from there.

Growing up, my favorite birthday cake was a chocolate chip cake with cream cheese icing.  Between that and German Chocolate cake, I really didn't eat much more cake.  Well now, if it is "Val-Friendly" I eat it!  I mean, they are few and far between so I take full advantage!  My Grandma figured out that if you use the Betty Crocker GF yellow cake mix and omit the vanilla, it is really, really good!  When I was at Mom and Dad's this weekend, we made one of those, complete with frosting made with vegan butter.  It was heaven in a bowl, I tell you!  So now I've got my brain working, and I'm pretty sure that if we add chocolate chips to one of those mixes, and use the cream cheese icing recipe that I got out of my new favorite vegan cookbooks Have Your Cake and Vegan too, I can have my favorite cake again!  Soy cream cheese- here we come!  (just sounds wrong, doesn't it...)

As I said earlier, I can take or leave turkey.  What I can't live without is pumpkin pie.  The search for a decent pumpkin pie began almost the day I realized that I couldn't have eggs and milk- it was that important to me.  Most of the recipes I found called for something weird, like tofu, to replace the eggs.  Tofu has a time and a place, and it is NOT in my pie!  Finally, I stumbled onto a recipe that has been out since 1997.  In fact, it was printed in the November 1, 1997 issue of Vegetarian Times- but I've got a link to it right here!  If you are GF, you have to ignore the crust at the top- instead, I suggest using the Gluten Free on a Shoestring crust, and there is a link to that, plus a how-to video right here!  Oh, yum!  Oh, happy day!  Oh, happy Turkey day!  OH, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

I refuse to let my dietary limitations horn in on my fun for my holidays or my birthday.  However, since I am going to continue our annual tradition of midnight shopping, I do have to be extra careful on Thanksgiving.  The last thing I want is to be glutenated or egged or dairyied (you thought I was going to say "milked" didn't you- Ha!) and have to miss out on the fun that is the Edinburgh Outlets at midnight.  So, I'll be careful.  And you all be careful, too!  Enjoy your turkey, your pumpkin pie and your shopping-if you are crazy enough go!  And I'll see you on the flipside of 35.  Happy Turkey Day!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Eggs and Milk and Flour- Oh My!

This past week, I got a call for an “emergency cake.”  The mom had purchased a Rapunzel doll at Target and taken it to a local bakery to have them make a Princess cake- you know, the one where the dress is made of cake and icing and you stick the doll down the middle.  It turns out that you can’t make those with a regular doll- or so she was told.  The way it is normally made is by using a creepy half-doll torso with a toothpick shaped piece of plastic instead of legs.  And the only doll torso they had was dark haired.  Rapunzel  from Tangled was NOT a short-haired brunette!  So, she made a call to a friend of mine, got my phone number and begged. 

As we were talking about the cake, I asked her what flavor she wanted.  The question that invariably follows is, “What kind can you make?”  Normally, the answer to that question is “whatever you want.”  However, this was a bit of a rush job so knew I had limited time.  I offered vanilla and chocolate.  If you think about it, you realize that I have a serious handicap when it comes to baking- I can’t eat it!  So really, the only things I can tell you are good are the things I had before I was diagnosed.  That means that I am trusting my memory from almost 2 years ago.  I don’t trust my memory from yesterday!  When I make cake flavors that I have never had before, I always do a test run and trust the people around me to tell me if it is good or not.  And my husband is really kind of caked out so I’m always looking for volunteers!  I knew that I wouldn’t have the time to test run any new cakes, so she got the boring answer.  She chose chocolate.

A couple of weeks ago, the Ranger and the Mrs. and my mom and dad came over to the house to help my hubby make the car behave.  I was making cupcakes for another birthday party that day, so I kept out a few extras for the car warriors to snack on.  (Not to mention, my favorite red-headed Turtle just LOVES Aunt Val’s cupcakes!)  The Ranger tried one of the cupcakes and said, “Are you making these differently?”  I answered that I was not, but my husband piped up and said that I had stopped measuring- which was only partially true.  The Ranger told me to continue to do whatever it was I was doing differently because they were better than before.  When he left, I asked Mom about it.  I wasn’t doing anything differently, so why was it different?  Of course, she can’t eat the cake either, but in between bites of her bowl of frosting (no, it’s cool- all the cool kids eat frosting out of a bowl!) she mentioned that the frosting tasted differently, too.  Apparently the amazing Mexican vanilla that I had been using for 2 months was changing the cakes that much.  Who knew?  I didn’t!

This whole thing has kind of thrown me for a loop.  I have been kicking around the idea of opening a bakery at some point in the future.  I don’t think I want it to be a vegan bakery just because that’s what I have to eat- I mean, I’d like it to make money and not go belly up in the first month!  My thought has always been that I could supplement the vegan bakery aspect of it with making cakes on the side.  But you have that whole cross-contamination issue and the I-can’t-tell-you-if-it-is-good-because-egg-and-flour-are-the-devil thing going for me.  So, I have to figure this out.  Maybe a partner?  Maybe I just suck it up and go vegan to see if it is possible?  I don’t know.  I’ve got a little while to think.  Until I get it worked out, I think I’ll just try to figure out a name.  Any suggestions?  “Meat-Eating Vegan Patisserie” probably won’t cut it, huh…