Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween from the Gang

Just a quick note to say Happy Halloween to everyone! By the way, this is what happens when you are too lazy to lug a pumpkin home. Improvisation! :D (You can see Mr. Pumpkin-Duck trying to sneak in in the background.) Updates later with more photos, maybe, but for now I'm off to go buy ingredients for baking :D

Thursday, October 28, 2010



Man, I remember the days when I had time to post 3 times a week--those days seem so far away. I don't know how other bloggers do it (giving up sleep, maybe?). Although actually it's not even that I don't have time to blog, it's more like I don't have time to bake and therefore have nothing to blog about! Anyway, things were pretty calm last weekend (which I mostly spent sleeping--oh, sweet, sweet sleep) so once I finally woke up, I decided it was the right time to get back into it. And boy did it feel good (and taste better!) Plus, I got to use one of my alpaca cups that I brought back from the Sheep and Wool Festival--okay, I know it's not a good shot of the cup, but I assure you, it is cute :)


So, let's talk about Vanillekipferl! They are almond and butter based cookies from Austria (but popular in Germany as well) and are traditionally shaped in a crescent. Because they're shaped, they take a bit more effort than drop cookies or slice-and-bake ones, but I find it frankly relaxing to sit at my coffee table and roll dough. Of course, as you can see from the photo above, I did not exactly achieve consistency in the size or shape of my cookies, but that's okay. I like the rustic look, it says "homemade" ;).

Starting the day with a smile

Besides, with all these varied shapes, you are sure to find two that are perfect for eyebrows :). (This picture also gives you a better idea of the size of the cookies--pretty small! Almost bite sized.) If you find yourself with a spare hour or two, these would be a great way to spend that time. I mean, how can you go wrong with almonds, sugar, and butter? Especially with a cup of hot tea and some applesauce on the side....

There are a ton of Vanillekipferl recipes on the internet, but I used this one from Delicious Days; if you don't have a kitchen scale and don't feel like doing the conversions, then you can try this one.

(I hope this weekend I'll have time to catch up on everyone's blogs!)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sheep & Wool Festival in Rhinebeck


What's that you say? Where's the food in my alleged food blog? Don't worry--there's some food in this post, and hey, there's even a recipe at the end! But I have to admit, I have not been doing much baking (or interesting eating) lately because I've been so freaking busy!! Still, it's my favorite season and I've had a few moments to enjoy the cool weather (perfect tea-drinking weather), sunshine, and this past weekend, we escaped the city for a little while to pet sheepies at the Sheep and Wool Festival! Yay sheep!! How can you resist a face like this?


Okay, that's not a sheep, it's an alpaca. But how gorgeous is she? I desperately want to move somewhere where I can have a mini farm which will be the home of a mini sheep, mini alpaca, mini pony, mini get the idea, right?


This sheep reminds me of a friend of mine (same haircut, heh).

Pumpkin muffins and bread

Rhinebeck is about a 2 hour drive north of NYC, so with that in mind, I made a batch of pumpkin muffins to tide us over until we could eat an appropriately unhealthy fair lunch. What's not to like about pumpkin muffins? These have a sprinkling of crystallized ginger inside and a dusting of pearl sugar on top; when I make them again (and you know I will!), I'll double the amount of ginger. In the end though, we were too busy talking on the drive to actually eat any--I ate one afterwards :) (Recipe is at the bottom of this post!)


It was a gorgeous day for a drive and along the way we saw lots and lots of fall foliage (I was driving though, so mostly I saw road, hah!). And when we finally arrived, we browsed a couple of buildings' worth of yarns and fleeces before we stopped for a snack:

A disgustingly huge portion of cheese fries

It's not a fair unless you have something fried, and this fit the bill. I felt mildly queasy afterwards and so skipped the fried dough and other fried goodies available. Actually now that I think about it, those cheese fries were pretty much all we ate all day (except for my muffin later on). Oh wait, we also had cups of cocoa on the way out, more to warm up our chilly fingers! Enough babbling, here are some more pictures of sheepies and alpacas and goats!


An extremely regal and aloof alpaca. I don't know if you can quite see it, but his name tag is Emperor Alexander. Indeed!




Smiley sheep.


Eeeeevil sheep.


Inquisitive horned sheep!


We spotted this on the bouncy castle; I'm pretty sure this is a knight wearing assless armor-chaps. What's up with that? We remain befuddled.


An Ewok. No, no. It's a miniature sheep! And I desperately, desperately want one. Even though we left with no sheep, I had a lovely day out, so thanks to my buds for coming along, and thanks to the sheep for letting me pet you (soooo soft and squishy).

Gingery Pumpkin Muffins
Makes 12 muffins, one loaf, or 3 mini-loaves

1 cup pumpkin (canned is fine, but make sure you use plain pumpkin, not pumpkin PIE filling)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup flavorless vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 - 3/4 cup crystallized ginger, chopped
Additional ginger or pearl sugar, optional

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 12 muffin cups with papers (or whatever baking vessel you are using). Sift flour, baking soda and powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt together into a small bowl. Toss in the crystallized ginger bits and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine pumpkin, sugars, syrup, and vegetable oil and beat until combined. Beat in eggs one at a time. Stir the flour mixture in with a wooden spoon, just until combined. This is a fairly soft batter, so this should not be difficult. Spoon batter into muffin cups, about 2/3rd full (or pour into a greased and floured loaf pan or mini pans). Sprinkle with pearl sugar or additional ginger chips, if desired. Bake muffins about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. A full sized loaf pan will take about 45 minutes and mini pans will take about 30. Enjoy! Preferably with some hot tea...or maybe hot cider. Mmmm, cider...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Vendy Awards

Candy pulling

The Vendy Awards took place on Governor's Island last Saturday (Sept. 25th!--wow, time is flying) and boy was it an exercise in gluttony. I mean, it was also a celebration of the best of NYC street food, sure, and a fund raiser for the Street Vendor Project, but mostly it was a test of your stomach capacity and your ability to stand in a line under the hot sun. Actually, standing in line turned out to be a good thing, it allowed you to digest a bit before you continued to stuff yourself!

Our first stop after we checked in (we didn't have to wait in line, woohoo!) was the King of Falafel and Shawarma. I don't know why I didn't get a photo of my falafel ball or my brother's falafel sandwich, but holy cow was it delicious. Definitely the best falafel I've had (sorry, Crisp, you lose). Unfortunately this truck is usually parked in Astoria and I'm not there very often! I may have to make a special trip the next time I have a craving...Obviously we weren't the only people to think so, as they won both the People's Choice and the Vendy Cup.

Dragon Beard Candy Innards

Our next stop was Yao's Dragon Beard Candy (usually found in Chinatown); that's one half of the couple above making the candy. I've read that this is a dying art, so it was especially nice to get to see it being produced. It's basically a form of candy floss, with a sugar mixture being pulled until it forms very fine strands which are then wrapped around a filling of coconut and crushed peanuts. The finished candies kind of look like cocoons! Again, delicious, and something you don't see very often--the couple running it were also very sweet and gave us a box to take away with us.

A Pou's Taste

Next, we made a beeline for where the Rookie finalists were stationed, starting with A Pou's Taste, a newish food cart that's usually found on Astor Place (whoops, I see that they now also have locations on the UWS and the financial district) and and serving up Taiwanese snacks, including these potstickers and some yummy corn chowder! The hot and sour soup was also pretty good. I am very, very picky about my dumplings (and generally speaking, prefer my own), but I thought these were pretty good!

Vegan food from Cinnamon Snail

This was probably my biggest surprise; everything on this plate is vegan, and everything was pretty delicious! Cinnamon Snail is based in NJ (currently vending in Hoboken) and quite honestly, I was not expecting much from this. But! everything on this plate was pretty yummy, although my favorite was the Korean bbq seitan taco. I know, meeee, eating seitan? They were also handing out S'more donuts (too sweet for me) and had theme outfits going on--what's not to like?


Next up was Mexicue, which I had been looking forward to trying. But honestly, I was kind of disappointed in the short rib taco, which was surprisingly dry.

Pulled pork slider @ Mexicue

I did greatly enjoy the pulled pork slider, though. I should also note that by this point I was already starting to fill up (having eaten a falafel ball, 2 potstickers, a little cup of soup, a giant plate of vegan treats, a taco, another slider...).

Chicken Souvlaki @ Souvlaki GR

Which is why I went with a stick of chicken souvlaki at Souvlaki GR, rather than the whole sandwich (and I also passed on the fries, which looked delicious. Sob.) I LOVED this! It was juicy, very flavorful, a little charred (a good thing) brother had good things to say about the pita, too. They won Rookie of the Year, which I thought was well deserved.

Big Gay Ice Cream Truck!

At this point, we started looking for dessert, and how can you resist the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck? I love their name and their logo. They have ice cream cones named the Salty Pimp and Bea Arthur, which I think is hilarious.

Salty Pimp

The Salty Pimp! Vanilla soft serve with dulce de leche, sea salt, and chocolate dip.

Bea Arthur

Bea Arthur! Vanilla soft serve with dulce de leche and crushed Nilla wafers. Their ice cream is more about the toppings, it seems like, because at the end of the day, it's still just vanilla soft serve. I liked the idea of the Salty Pimp, but I think it would have been awesome if it was dulce de leche ice cream rather than vanilla! After this, I also grabbed a tiny square of tres leches cake from Patacon Pisao; I really wanted to try their plantain sandwiches, but argh, my stomach could not take anymore. (We also skipped El Rey de Sabor. I am clearly not a champion eater.)

Line for Kelvin Natural Slush

So, we got in line for a stomach-soothing slush. Oh man. It was a long line. This is about half of the line that we were in (the other half you can't see because I had a prime lens and not a zoom)...and by the time it was our turn, I was REALLY REALLY ready for my slushie! They have a choice of three bases which you can add mix-ins too (mostly fruit based).

Ginger & mango slushie

Here's my ginger and mango slushie. Oh, it was so good. I don't know if it was the heat, or the fact that I had waited on line for approximately a century, but YUM. (They won the Dessert Vendy!) By the way, as we were walking away with our prizes, the line had at least doubled, and people were starting to eye our drinks covetously.

Bistro Truck

The ginger must have helped our digestion a bit because somehow, we were ready to taste more food, and our final savory stop was the Bistro Truck (meaning that we also skipped 99% Vegetarian and Schnitzel & Things. Boo. Must seek these out separately.) I really enjoyed the merguez and the lamb & prunes over couscous, but I also definitely was no longer interested in eating. Sigh. This was starting to feel like work!

Libertacao from Guerrilla Ice Cream

Fortunately, there is always room for (more) ice cream, so we hit up Guerrilla Ice Cream as our final stop of the day. This company is interesting because according to their website, 100% of their profits go to support marginalized populations in NYC and around the world. I sort of wish there was more info on this on their website! Anyway, above is the Libertacao (72% chocolate and port wine, with bruleed bananas and cashews). They were torching the bananas on the spot, which is always fun to watch (heh, fire!) I tried a bit of the ice cream (this was my brother's choice) and the chocolate was very intense and very, very good.

8888 Uprising @ Guerrilla Ice Cream

Aaaaand finally, my choice, the 8888 Uprising (mango, lemongrass, and palm sugar sorbet with lime zest and coconut). I really wanted to try the masala chai flavored ice cream, but I didn't think I could handle any more rich food. The sorbet was refreshing and I managed to finish my whole cup. And then we rolled ourselves home.

Phew, that was a really long post. Looking back now, I can't believe that I ate as much as I did--and I can't believe the people who were able to try every single cart! You people are true food warriors. Congratulations to all the finalists and especially to the winners (since they were all *my* favorite picks too ;)). Thanks to my brother (hey, it's his birthday today!) for coming along and being my cooperative hand model. Next year, I might have to starve myself for a few days first....

(Boy, I haven't baked anything in ages. Will remedy that this weekend, if I am still standing after karaoke and Comic-Con! Woohoo!)