Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Outgoing: Banana Bread.

This morning I'm shipping out some fresh whole wheat banana bread to a customer, and I couldn't resist snapping a photo. It's so cute, all boxed up, taking up the entire outbox! That blue letter barely fits.

Hope you have a wonderful Wednesday!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Marinated Mushrooms, Hasselback Potatoes, and More Goodies!

Do you ever find that you purchase something at the supermarket without a real idea of what you want to do with it? This happens to me a lot. I am something of a shopaholic, and this weakness affects me not only when shopping for shoes and clothes, but for vegetables and grains, too. Recently, I picked up a few things that I had no real plan for: a bag of pretty potatoes and a bunch of lovely Portabella mushrooms. Luckily I bought quite a few of each, because soon after I found myself with some wonderful dinner guests: Gwen, my foodie BFF, her boyfriend Firat, and my future in-laws. 

Gwen, as always, brought a delicious vegan dish to share. She's not vegan, but she spoils me so with wonderful vegan dishes every time she cooks for me! She brought over a warm appetizer made with eggplant, tomatoes, and beautifully sliced cucumbers. It was wonderful!

Gwen's Dish: Eggplant, Tomatoes, and Cucumbers

For the potatoes, I turned to one of my favorite blogs for inspiration: Joy the Baker. Joy writes about all kinds of cooking (not just baking), and often features vegan recipes. On her site, I found a great recipe for Hasselback Potatoes. It's not vegan, but it was easily veganized: I replaced the butter with Earth Balance, and omitted the cheese from the pesto sauce. Mine weren't nearly as perfect as Joy's, but they were absolutely delicious!

Hasselback Potatoes: Not as pretty as Joy's, but yummy!

For the lovely Portabellas, I chose a recipe from Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's The Vegan Table. Her Pan-Grilled Portabella Mushrooms with Herb-Infused Marinade recipe was just perfect. It was a little more labor-intensive that I expected (perhaps if I'd had a larger pan, I could have "pan-grilled" more mushrooms at once... wedding registry, here I come!), but it was worth the work! I loved the tangy and flavorful marinade with all its herbs and spices. 

Pan-Grilled Portabella Mushrooms: marinating

Pan-Grilled Portabella Mushrooms: finished!

To round out the meal, we enjoyed a wonderful homemade taboulleh, prepared by my future mother-in-law, as well as some roasted brussels sprouts. Check out our spread:

The spread: Taboulleh, brussels sprouts,
mushrooms, eggplant, and potatoes!

It came together beautifully, even though it wasn't meticulously planned out. Sometimes the best meals are those that are created on a whim, or are patched together from different people or places. Plus, almost everyone had their hand in something we ate, so everyone was included. Much fun!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Shamrocks for St. Patrick's Day

March is upon us, and with it, St. Patrick's Day! To celebrate, I decided to make some treats that would put me in the spirit, and also maybe make me feel a little bit more Irish. Honestly, my lineage is sort of foggy in some ways, and for all I know I might be Irish. Everybody's Irish on St. Patrick's Day, right?

Mint & Chocolate Shamrock Cookies

I started off with a basic veganized Spritz cookie recipe, because I wanted to try out my new cookie press. I added green food coloring and peppermint extract to the batter, and used the shape that looked most like a four-leaf clover. To add to the deliciousness, I turned them in to sandwich cookies by melting chocolate and using it as a filling. To finish it off, I added a bit of edible green sparkles for shine! 

Stack o' Shamrocks
Close-up of the shine!

The cookies tasted like a minty version Peppridge Farm Milano Cookie, and they were really fun to make! Do you like to make any food to celebrate St. Patrick's Day? I myself, am also hoping to make some Irish Soda Bread, cabbage, and potatoes. Yum!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Pizza Fusion in Hollywood

I have to say, one of the best perks about living in a big city like L.A. is all the amazing vegan options that are available. Luckily, though, there are restaurants with vegan options popping up all over the country! One such establishment I've recently visited is Pizza Fusion in Hollywood. Pizza Fusion has locations all over the country, offering a wide variety of vegan and gluten-free options. They even have a vegan and gluten-free dessert! As an extra bonus, Pizza Fusion is an environmentally conscious company that uses eco-friendly business practices and features an entirely organic menu.

The Fiancé and I visited Pizza Fusion a few weeks ago, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Here are some of the yummies we devoured.

Organic and vegan Hefeweisen

I started off with a nice cold beer, and it was hard to choose which one to order. They offer a big selection of organic and vegan beers and wines, and everything is labeled clearly so there's no confusion. 

Fusion Salad with Goddess Dressing

Next, to balance the heavy pizza we were planning to devour, we enjoyed the Fusion Salad with Goddess Dressing. I expected it to be Annie's Goddess Dressing, which I'm very fond of, but Pizza Fusion has their own recipe. It's absolutely delicious! This salad may have been my favorite part.

Large Very Vegan Pizza with Gluten-Free Crust and Daiya Cheese

As our entrée, Fiancé and I shared a large Very Vegan Pizza. We went with the gluten-free crust option, which was nice and crisp, and chose our very favorite vegan cheese: Daiya. The Very Vegan comes with two of my favorite toppings: mushrooms and garlic. Delicious!

Fresh Homemade Brownie with Coconut Ice Cream

Finally, since we were feeling a little bit decadent, we decided to order dessert. The obvious choice was the vegan and gluten-free brownie, with a side of coconut ice cream. Not only did it look beautiful, but it was rich and had a great consistency. It was the perfect end to our meal!

I really enjoyed our visit to Pizza Fusion, and I'm sure we'll be back again soon. They also offer local delivery in their eco-friendly hybrid vehicles! Check out their website to learn more about Pizza Fusion, and to see if there's a restaurant near you.

P.S. Apologies for the iPhone photos, sometimes I get stuck without my camera! I'll do better next time. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

My First Advertisement

This July, Augusta Vegan Bakery will turn two years old! To prepare for this milestone, I have a long list of goals and ideas I'm hoping will help the business continue to grow and flourish. One goal of mine is to spread the word about the bakery. It doesn't matter how delicious or wonderful your product is if no one knows about it! I thought a great place to start would be advertising through blogs that have a similar focus and ethical standing to my company.

My first ad!

Recently, I came across a new blog that fit my criteria perfectly: Rose Pedals Vegan Weddings. Not only am I thrilled by this blog as a vegan bride-to-be, but as a business owner, too. Rose Pedals features all kinds of wonderful and inspiring content for those planning a vegan wedding. So far, I've been impressed by the blog's content, and I'm looking forward to reading more in the future. It seemed like the perfect fit for my first ad, so I went for it! Fiancé and I used one of my newer photos to make the banner ad. We wanted something simple and pretty, and I'm pleased with how it turned out. The ad went live yesterday! Below is how the ad looks on Rose Pedals.

A screen grab from Rose Pedals. You can see my ad on the right!

I'm excited to see what happens now. Maybe there won't be much of a change at all, but it can't hurt to try, and I've got to start somewhere. My fingers are crossed! In the meantime, definitely do check out Rose Pedals Vegan Weddings. There's a bunch of great articles up already, and I'm sure they'll keep coming!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

I hope everyone is enjoying a lovely Valentine's Day today. I'm feeling pretty festive myself, and am looking forward to having a quiet dinner with the fiancé this evening. In case you need a little Valentine's inspiration, here is a little something sweet to help you out: homemade chocolate truffles!

I made these little yummies last year for Valentine's Day, and they were positively decadent! They're easy and fun to make, too. You can find the recipe on my old blog, here.

What sort of deliciousness do you have planned this Valentine's Day?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Hearts for Valentine's Day

You may have noticed that one of my favorite colors is pink. My blog is pink, my KitchenAid Mixer is pink, and most of my cooking utensils are pink! Obviously, it was about time for me to make some pink cookies. Lucky for me, I was approached to make some Valentine's Day cookies by a buyer on Etsy. She had ordered my Holiday Sugar Cookies, and thought it might be nice to have some for Valentine's Day, too. I wholeheartedly agree! Here are the cuties I created for her. 

As adorable as fully decorated cookies can be, they are a challenge to ship. When I make them, I allow them to dry fully first (usually overnight). Then, I package them very carefully. After some trial and error, I found that the best method for avoiding breakage and smudging is to wrap them individually in waxed paper. It's a bit more waste, unfortunately, but it ensures that the cookies arrive safely and intact. Obviously, I can never know exactly how they'll arrive to my customer; sometimes items arrive with a bit of damage if the postal carrier happens to throw the box around more than usual. Luckily, though, nine times out of ten the yummies arrive safely and in perfect condition!

Decorated sugar cookies are by far the most delicate thing available from my shop, so I wanted to try out some new methods that might make shipping and handling a little simpler. Though I never made them growing up, I have been aware that sugar cookies are also often made with thinner icings that harden completely when they dry. So I did some research, and decided to give the icing from this recipe a go. Unfortunately, I didn't have any corn syrup on hand, so I had to substitute with the closest thing I had: agave syrup. Things did not turn out as pretty as the picture.

Icing bubbles and crackles

As you can see, when the icing dried, lots of impurities started showing up, and it sort of looked like it had a bad case of freezer burn. Not pretty!

On the plus side, it was really easy to adjust the color with this icing, and I think I created a pretty nice ombré effect with the different shades of pink. Another plus is that they dried nice and solid, so stacking them was a breeze. Also not to be ignored was the taste. They really were delicious with this icing recipe! I think I'll give this a go again soon (St. Patrick's Day shamrocks?), and this time using corn syrup, and making extra sure everything is completely blended. Perhaps those adjustments will yield more attractive results.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Valentine's Day! 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Cupcakes Available For Purchase!

Great news: Cookies and Cream Cupcakes are now available for purchase in the Etsy Shop!

Cookies and Cream Cupcakes, $14 for six

After much thought and consideration, I've decided to make these yummies available to vegans across the United States. Obviously, it's not easy to ship a frosted cupcake. They'll be shipped unfrosted with a container of frosting on the side, so you can apply it yourself. Think of all the fun and creative possibilities! In the future, I'd like to offer cupcake kits that will include a variety of different decorations for you to play with. So keep your eyes open for that.

For now, check out my cupcake trial run. If all goes well, there will be many different flavors for you to choose from in no time!

Monday, January 10, 2011


As I mentioned last week, the Fiancé and I had a lot of fun over our Christmas vacation, but I had no time to blog about it! One of my favorite events of the season is when his family gets together to make hallacas (pronounced "ayakas") the weekend before Christmas. Hallacas, very similar to tamales, are the staple of the Venezuelan Christmas holiday, and are made almost exclusively during that period of time. I learned from a trip to Wikipedia that popular myth states that the tradition began when plantation owners would give leftovers from their Christmas meal to their slaves, who would then wrap them in plantain leaves with cornmeal to make hallacas. Today, the dish is typically with a stew of meat, raisins, olives, and assorted vegetables wrapped in a cornmeal dough, which is then wrapped in a plantain leaf tied together with string. It's a very labor-intensive operation, and families get together to make them assembly line style in order to quicken the process. Mack's grandmother, Elizabeth (who was born and raised in Venezuela) carries out this tradition with her family every year.

Our family's spread, complete with workers in festive hats.

The family making hallacas (Grandma is in the Santa hat!)

At our hallaca party, all the fillings are prepared in advance and laid out across a long table. At the head of the table, someone flattens the balls of cornmeal dough on to the plantain leaf and spreads oil on it. In the center of the table, people put in the fillings. Next, the hallacas are folded up methodically into little bundles. Finally, at the end of the table, the little bundles are tied up with string. Meanwhile, there's festive music, drinks, and dancing! How can you argue with that?

The cornmeal dough, after being flattened and oiled.

Monica passes along the prepared cornmeal dough to be filled.

Uncle Richard steams the hallacas in batches in this large pot.

Luckily, my grandmother-in-law-to-be is so very thoughtful, and helps us to make vegan hallacas. They were so yummy! We set up our own end of the assembly line to stuff our hallacas with black beans, tofu, onion, olives, raisins, potato, and carrots. We made so many of them that we were eating them all week! Each one was a little bit different, and they were all delicious.

Our vegan hallacas, being cooked separately.

The inside of the hallaca- this one has beans and tofu.

Fiancé and I ate these for days and days after we made them, and they were still delicious. I love taking special foods with me to work for lunch, it gives me something to look forward to. These hallacas certainly fit the bill. We even took some with us to Kentucky for Christmas, and everyone loved them. Just looking at these photos is making me hungry for hallacas again. Too bad I'll have to wait until next Christmas!  

Sunday, January 9, 2011

New Photographs

One of my goals for the beginning of this year is to re-photograph quite few of my items. Now that I've invested in a quality camera, I can get better, more detailed images of the treats so you can see them in their full glory. I began with two of my top sellers, Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies and Oatmeal Walnut Cookies (formerly called "Autumn Oatmeal Cookies"). Here are the results!

Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies

Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies

Oatmeal Walnut Cookies


Oatmeal Walnut Cookies

So far, I'm pleased with my results! Next weekend, I'm hoping to tackle a few more. Soon, I'll have a shop full of pretty pictures. I can't wait!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Bringing in the New Year

It is finally 2011, and I am gearing up for all the craziness and joy that I'm hoping it will bring! There are a million wonderful things on our calendar this year (ahem, wedding), and I have a lot of fun new things planned for the bakery. I am so excited to dive in and get this year rolling!

Before I share the new things, though, I'd like to cover some of the fun from my holiday season. I took a bit of a break from blogging due to an incredibly busy schedule, so I missed blogging about some great stuff. First up is a custom cake I made for my company's Holiday Party.

Holiday Spice Cake with Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting & Candied Pecans

Our Client Services Coordinator, Sierra, planned a beautiful party for our staff and clients. You can check out her coverage of the event on her blog, Happiness in Bites. She had a beautiful cake table with some lovely cakes from a nearby bakery, and wanted to include a vegan cake. She commissioned a cake from me, and I could choose the flavor. I had been craving warm spices, so I decided to go with a spice cake. After a little research, I realized that spice cake is actually a holiday tradition in some places; what luck!

Slicing in to the Spice Cake

I made a triple-layer cake with cinnamon buttercream frosting, and candied pecans as garnish. I was really pleased with how it turned out. The cake was flavorful and moist, and the frosting complimented it well. All in all, I'd say my first commissioned cake was a great success!

A Slice of Spice Cake

As always, if you're interested in purchasing a custom item for delivery within the Los Angeles area, please don't hesitate to contact me. Happy New Year to all!