Monday, April 20, 2009

Banana Split Cupcakes

Banana Split CupcakesWhat to do when there is a pile of ripe bananas sitting in your fruit bowl? I decided to make something different than the old standard banana bread. As I'm always up for frosted baked goods, I decided to rip open Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World and see what it had to offer.

Never one to simply follow a recipe as is (and because I couldn't find any pineapple preserves), I opted for cherry preserves instead. I don't think I've ever had a banana split with pineapples, and there's nothing more quintessentially banana split-like than the cherry on top! I also used chocolate chips instead of grated chocolate. They reminded me of the banana chocolate chip cupcakes they sell at the local coffee shoppe that I used to snack on before going vegan.

I was sort of bummed not to have a pastry bag. One day I'd like to make my cupcakes look professionally frosted, but for now I made do with a butter knife. Maybe I'll ask for a pastry bag for my birthday. But I topped them off with Sprinkelz and a maraschino cherry. Sprinkelz are awesome, they're totally hippie, without any of the crappy high-fructose corn syrup or hydrogenated oils that your standard sprinkle will be loaded with. I found them at the Honest Weight Food Co-op (I seriously can't express my love for that place enough) and stocked up enough to get me through the periods of time when I can't make it home to fill up. But I have found them at the local co-op, Harvest, just not in bulk. (I think the individual boxes you can buy may have a plastic liner inside, which is a big reason I opt to buy in bulk.)

Banana Split Cupcakes This was also my first attempt at taking nice photographs of food. I generally take atrocious photos of food. My excuse is that the lighting in my apartment is awful, so I may as well not even try. The thing is, I'm a generally good photographer when the photos I'm shooting are outdoors or in a really well-lit indoor area. But I'm not so good at macros or poorly lit situations. I just borrowed a copy of Digital Food Photography from the Boston Public Library, and while it's not an awesome book, it at least inspired me to break out my tripod and see what I could do with just the overhead light in my kitchen.

Over the next few months I hope to improve my food photography skills. It'll be a great excuse for me to build some reflectors and play with props, maybe even check out Good Will or local thrift stores for some neat dishes to photograph with. And, of course, when I move to my new place in September I'll have plenty of south facing windows to give me a good dose of natural light. No excuses!

Monday, April 13, 2009


FreezerJeff and I purchased a 50 pound sack of all-purpose flour the other day at Honest Weight Food Co-op in Albany, NY. I love HWFC, they're leaps and bounds ahead of Harvest (Cambridge, MA co-op) in terms of what they stock, how much they stock, the bulk section, and awesome staff members. I always try to make it over to HWFC every time I visit my parents in the Capital District, NY.

Jeff just mixed up 6 batches of pizza dough to freeze. It lasts forever frozen, and whenever we feel like making a pizza we can just unfreeze the dough in the morning. Pizza is a great easy meal to make, you only need pizza dough, some sauce and whatever your favorite vegan cheese is. (I prefer Vegan Gourmet's mozzarella.) Toppings are optional, but you can use whatever veggies are sitting around in the fridge.

In other news, we bought a bunch of seed packets at HWFC as well (three kinds of peppers and lemon mint) and also bought two 4-5 gallon buckets for 50c each. (Have I mentioned how much I love HWFC?!) We're soaking the pepper seeds tonight and will plant them tomorrow. (When they get big enough they'll go into the buckets.) I'm excited to have some peppers to eat within a few months. I just hope enough sunlight gets into my apartment. Having a north-facing window can be rough, currently I only have plants that are suitable for low light. (Except for my Super Basil which has held on through me forgetting to water them for several days and not getting any direct sun between roughly October and two weeks ago.)

KneadI'm excited to start all of these new projects. Cooking and baking is always enjoyable, and planting our own veggies will just make it even better. There's nothing like plucking a veggie off of a plant and eating it as fresh as it can possibly get. This will also be an experiment in how well the plants can do indoors. Hopefully when we move we'll have a place with more sun, but maybe for now we can breed them to be as hardy as possible.

Looks like we'll be eating a lot of pepper pizza in a few months!