everything here is eatable

Mostly-vegan low-fat whole foods recipes

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A cupcake update and stories from the Rochester underground

I am quite happy to be able to report that the second batch of cupcakes, despite previous misgivings, turned out awesome. I made the second batch to take to a church thing on sunday, so they were sitting in the fridge from Friday night to around 3:30 on sunday. Apparently, a 2 day nap was all they needed to turn into little tasty and very red bites of goodness. I had tried one (non-mini) on saturday morning (yum, cupcakes for breakfast) and I had noticed that the color had moved decidely from the dissappointing brown of the night before to a rusty red.

Well, I wish I had thought to snap a few shots of the minis before they got snarfed up, because they got really red. The beety flavor also toned itself down a lot (probably helped by generous dollops of frosting) and they were super moist and velvety, as opposed to the first batch, which was a bit dry and gummy. They needed a bit more sugar, but that is easily fixed next time. I think with one more test batch (far in the future, I am so red velveted out right now!) these should be recipe-posting ready!

In other, non-food related news, on Saturday we went on a tour of the Rochester aquaduct/canalway/subway tunnels, which was amazingly cool. Apparently, at one point the part of the Erie Canal that ran through Rochester was, once drained, was used as subway tunnels, making Rochester the only city of its size in the country to ever have a subway system. Although its abandoned now, a lot of the exiisting structures are still there below the city; stairways, stations, work buildings, all built within the old canal system. The tour took us through the part of downtown where you can see both the still-functioning parts of the canal and drainage system and the remains of the aquaducts from above ground, and then down into subway tunnels. There is a push by the group leading the tours (I believe the Canal Association of New York or something like that) to revitilize the old canalways running through the city as both a tourist attraction and eventually as a functioning commerce route. I'm just going to post a bunch of the pictures I took in a vague order. There was a lot more things deeper under, including the old stations and more stairways, but my camera isn't too good in the dark so I didn't gett many decent shots. The tunnel does run about a mile under the city and it is possible to walk all the way to the end, but it is only open to public access at certain times.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, October 10, 2008

red-ish velvet-ish cupcakes

The future wife and Asher-the-devil-dog hiking through the autumn landscape

We've decided to have cupcakes in place of a traditional cake for the wedding. Not only cupcakes, but 3 flavors of gluten-free vegan cupcakes. The 3 flavors are, tentatively, red velvet w/ cream cheese icing, chai w/ cinnamon buttercream icing and peanut butter w/ chocolate icing. And the testing began today.

My goal is to figure a way to make the red velvet cakes without the 4000 gallons (or 2-4 ounces...) of red dye 40, which terrifies me and is something I don't feel is appropriate for human consumption. Although there is an amazing amount of debate on the subject, and seemingly on all subjects related to red velvet cake, most sources cite 2 possible natural sources for the red; the natural chemical reaction between the cocoa powder and the acidity of the batter (which has both buttermilk and vinegar traditionally), and some combination of beet products, from shredded beets (raw or cooked), pureed beets, beet juice, pickled beet juice, etc. I like the more subtle forms of red velvet that are basically a white cake with a small amount of cocoa powder, so I didn't trust using just the cocoa powder to get the color, so I made one batch using a small amount of pureed pickled beets along with a syrup made from boiling down the pickled beet juice (which usually contains HFCS, which I didn't know when I bought it...ugh).

The results were, um, disappointingly...not red. Pink isn't really even an adequate description...perhaps "brain colored"? "Salmon"? I don't know, but not red. The flavor, however, is really good, just enough cocoa as to not taste like a chocolate cake but still to taste like something more than vanilla. It probably helps that I used really good expensive cocoa powder...but, alas, the color bumped this variation out of the running.

So, I made another batch...or another 1/2 batch, using a combination of pureed canned beets (not pickled) and beet juice.

The batter was a lovely shade of purply red, and the top of the cupcakes looked lovely.

The inside...still brown, but not so brain-like, so I guess that an improvement. They do, however, taste slightly of beets. Which is not so ideal. And the color still isn't there. But the tops are pretty!

I fear that I may have to compromise my values a bit and use some red dye if I want these things to actually look red. I'll keep trying a bit though. All I have to say is, now that I have about a billion cupcakes, I am so glad I'm visiting family tomorrow and have a church thing on Sunday where we're supposed to bring food...because I am quite sick of odd colored cuppers...

Oh, and we took some "engagement" photos the other day at our venue, since we wanted to see how the foliage would look.

This one came out pretty cute, helped out a lot by the dogs (look at Kasie peeking over Ash's head!). Please ignore the craziness of my socks!

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

I know, I know, I'm sorry!

Hey there, I'm back from the dead! Well, no, not really, but it has been so very very long since I have posted and even longer since I've made a "real" post, with a recipe and pictures and everything. This summer sort of got away from me, between gardening, work, a new dog and all that. Throw in a dead laptop, missing (for months!) battery charger for the camera, and general distraction and you've got a very bad blogger. But, wait, I now have motivation to post again, a reason to blog because...Katie and I are getting married, legally! Now that Massachusetts did away with their law banning out-of-state couple from marrying there, and New York announced that they will recognize "foreign" same-sex marriages, we've decided to go ahead and make it official next October (1 year and, eek, 4 days from now!). And, because planning a wedding (especially one that involves two actual ceremonies) isn't complicated enough, we are DIYing about 90% of the thing...including food. So, yes, now we need to pick, plan and test a full menu of gluten-free vegan appetizers, entrees and cupcakes to feed 60-70 people, most of whom are not gluten-free or vegan and will need to be won over by the wonderful tastiness of whatever we make. We actually have a semi-planned out menu at this point, but much testing and tweaking needs to be done, and, hopefully, that process will be played out here for the world to see (yay?). Plus, the "food season" is starting, beginning with Katie's birthday on the 25th, and we are hosting Thanksgiving for an as-yet-to-be-determined number of people this year, there will be much food to be blogged about in the coming months.

Anyway, I just wanted to crawl out from under my rock and say...stay tuned for the first wedding cupcake testing coming friday....

Labels: ,