Today’s Vegan MOFO prompt is about secret ingredients. And since we are doing cakes and cocktails, I think it is worth talking about the secret ingredients of booze. See alcoholic drinks don’t have the same standards as regular food. They don’t need to list their ingredients, and many places hide their recipes keeping them very secret for hundreds of years.
So making a cocktail vegan is more tricky than what you might think. I made a list of common hidden ingredients for cocktails, liquors, beers, and wines. Some are more common than others, and it worth noting that there is a lot of animals stuck into a vodka bottle. Always check with the site Barnivore to see if they are vegan, or if they aren’t listed, contact the companies one on one.
If you are a ren-fair fan you probably know about mead. It is a really old drink that is made from adding water to honey, and letting it ferment. I use to make it, and boy is it friggin easy. So far there isn’t any “vegan mead” but that is something I’ve always wanted to try out. One day right?
But honey gets hidden in a lot of drinks. Sometimes in cocktails as an ingredients (you can easily swap out simple syrup or something similar) or they are used in brewing beers. They are often found added to liquors, or more tricky- used as the main ingredient for fermentation for things like vodka or herbal liquors.
It seems kind of gross. I mean, if you are vegan for a long time that is. Milk is used in two ways- beer and liquors. In beer you have two main styles that use it- cream ales and milk stouts. Milk stouts are defined by their use of lactose sugars, but cream ale refers to the color of ale. But many companies like to add lactose to the brew, just like Forgotten Boardwalk‘s cream ale. Just quickly look at Barnivore to see if you are cleared to drink the cream ale.
Then you have cocktails and liquors. Clearly you can just sub cream or milk in a cocktail to a vegan cream or a vegan milk. But here is the tricky part about liquors. “Creme de…” doesn’t mean that liquor will have dairy! Back in the day, “creme de” was a way to describe a sweet liquor. The name came about because the liquor was so smooth from the sugar that is was creamy. Examples would be creme de violette and creme de menthe. That being said, cream is often used in liquors. The most well known one is Bailey’s, which they have released a vegan version to use. The easiest rule of thumb is if the drink is cloudy/opaque then it probably has cream/milk.
There has been actual bugs tossed in booze. We all know about the worm at the bottom of a tequila bottle. Let me tell you, even if you aren’t vegan, don’t buy any bottles with worms on the bottom. It just add a little wormy flavor to it. There are some drinks with bees in them. There is a super rare liquor in Japan that has giant hornets in it, supposedly with medical benefits. And there is a practice of putting bees in mead while fermenting to add some tannins, but this is an old practice that isn’t really done anymore.
Yes, another weirdo ingredient for booze. It makes sense, really. Alcohol keeps things preserved. Most animal products are easily perishable. Cocktails that use eggs like eggnog (and the many similar variations around the world) were made in the winter so it could sit and sit and sit and not spoil. Back in the olden days, you could easily find eggs in beer but no real specific styles came from it. People also use to drink beer with a raw egg cracked into it. There is also a liquor called Advocaat, which is made from eggs, it also shows up in The Shining!
But you see eggs mostly in cocktails. Yes, we mentioned winter egg drinks like eggnogs, but you mostly see them in as egg whites to create some bubbles. Many people are starting to use aquafaba to get those lovely foam going, heck I’ve even tried it out with my pink lady cocktail. It is easy to take out of a cocktail, but it won’t have the same texture.
I have a confession. I really miss oysters in my booze. No I am not talking about those crazy bloody mary’s adorned by a whole salad bar. I am talking about Oyster Stouts. Yes, there is a beer made with oysters and I haven’t had a stout with the same salty-umami-ness. These are luckily- pretty easy to spot. They are usually advertised as such.
Again, cocktails love oysters. Or rather the juicy-brine. Be warey of cocktails that use clamato juice (mixed in beers, and bloody mary like drinks). Sometimes the simple brine is used, which just the other day my Mother was talking about a drink where it is just oyster brine and a liquor.
Beef Broth & Worcestershire Sauce
I hope I am not grossing you out. Truthfully I love savory cocktails, sadly there aren’t many VEGAN savory cocktails. Luckily beef broth isn’t super popular in cocktails. You probably won’t pass many bars that have it, just the super hipster ones.
Worcestershire sauce is MUCH more common. It is found in the classic Bloody Mary. What the heck is in Worcestershire Sauce that isn’t vegan? Anchovies. Bummer. But you can easily find vegan version of worcestershire sauce, and hell, a bloody mary will taste better when you make it at home than in a restaurant (they are almost always using a mix)
I’ve heard horror stories of vegans carefully asking about the bloody mary containing Worcestershire sauce, and end up with a worcestershire free bloody mary topped with strips of bacon. Ouch. But I am not talking about that. I am talking about MEAT IN YOUR BOOZE!
Okay don’t panic. You are 99.9% in the clear. I just know of two cases in modern booze making. Back in colonial America everything was tossed into beer, including meat. Mystic Brewery is testing old American recipes, which means they’ve tried some of those meaty recipes. If you ever visit, a quick mention of your veganism will help steer you clear of these brews. Then there is one mezcal brewery that uses a dead chicken while the mezcal ages. I mean, like a raw chicken sitting in the same room. So technically it is vegan since the chicken isn’t IN the mezcal. Needless to say both of these aren’t easy to find so you are pretty much good.
So what is the culprit in this drink? Well it is honey. I like using hard ginger ale because the liquor in the drink is amaretto, which is a fairly low ABV. But the most popular brands of hard ginger ale use honey.
The good news? Henry’s Hard Sodas are all vegan! The bad news? They are owned by Miller Coors. Womp womp. What can one do? If you don’t drink much, feel free to just use regular old ginger ale!
As for amarettos, most are vegan. Use barnivore to double check, but I used Di Amore Amaretto. It gets decent ratings, and it is cheap as fuck. I think I paid $12-15 for a bottle, and the mainstream Disaranno is a much higher $25. Ratings are about the same. But it is vegan so if you have mucho cash- GO FOR IT!
Know of any other weirdo ingredients in your booze?
Today’s prompt is “go to gadget,” and that would be my cocktail shaker! Okay it isn’t. But I sure love my shaker. It is so shiny and pretty, and despite reviews, I don’t have problems with leaking. It is a pretty big shaker, making it great for mixing drinks that go into high ball glasses, or mixing up several drinks at once.
But this drink I am sharing today I call the Cherry Cherry. I name it as such because it has cherries in it, and I like the song by the artist Chara. The cherry really is the star of this cocktail.
I had some sweet pickled cherries that my husband got me for Christmas. I LOVE them. They are much more acidic than traditional maraschino cherries, and much smaller. These cherries were bought from my local CSA, so it isn’t like I can just send you a link to buy them. But you can make your own pickled cherries, and it looks like Punk Domestics have many links to pickled cherry recipes. Need to buy some? That’s okay. You can use maraschino if you are in a jam. But these Woodford Reserve cherries look dreamy to me.
So what booze to buy? Most amarettos are vegan. I went with di Amore Amaretto. It is cheap and vegan. I used Kammer Obstler’s pear-apple eau de vie. I actually do not know if it is 100% vegan. If you are wondering eau de vie is a type of clear fruit wine, usually made from fruit other than grapes.
There aren’t many eau de vie listed on Barnivore, and it isn’t that common of a drink in the USA, you can use apple brandy or pear brandy (or a mix of both) if you are in a jam. I would recommend the peach brandy from KOVAL because it is vegan and the bottle is super pretty.
I tried so hard to post this in September so it wouldn’t get in the way of Vegan MOFO, but man I am busy. On October 1st I helped Alexa move into her new apartment (yey!) Earlier I went to a concert (yey!) and this week I have to go to my parents to help my Mom after knee surgery. So… yeah. Sorry about the break from food but you know how things get.
Reading: I really wanted to read The Whole-Brain Child since I heard about it. I put it off for awhile because- you know- I didn’t have a kid. So I guess there was a pitfall of it being over hyped. The book isn’t bad, but it isn’t anything drastically new information. Overall it is nice to hear the suggested ways to handle situations, but there is a lot of fluff page fillers.
Watching: TV shows are coming back again! Horray! So we are starting to watch the new seasons of This Is Us, Goldbergs, and Speechless. The Goldbergs are starting to loose some steam, I am just not finding it as funny more, but most comedies do that after 3-4 seasons anymore.
Jon and I watched the first season of The Magicians on Netflix. It is a really good series, but like all SyFy originals, it is really tacky in the beginning. The first episode should of been stretched into two (honestly) but after episode 4 I think you get sucked into the overall story arch. I also love how after many episodes they give help hotline numbers.
Crafting: Our shop is looking a little sad. Alexa (as mentioned) moved so she hasn’t been able to work on our logo, and my Mother (as mentioned) had knee surgery. But leading up to the surgery, her legs were so bad that she couldn’t even use the sewing peddle. Yikes! But you can see the AWESOME QUILT we made. Also if you want, you can favorite our shop and items. No pressure though. ^__~
Otherwise I’ve been picking up my Gwar needle point again. I started it over and over again because I kept miss counting. Finally I started from the bottom of the “T” and got a rhythm going. I think I finally got the hang of it. Whoo!
Listening: I picked up two albums from my library- Stars’ The Five Ghosts and Regina Spektor’s Remember Us To Life. As always Regina Spektor is awesome, and gives something that is refreshing from the all too similar modern pop music (no hate on specifically modern pop music, but it is all too calculated and running out of new melodies that fit the formula) But The Five Ghosts was surprisingly good! It was not what I was expecting from the album cover, I was expecting something much more melancholy. But it is catchy and upbeat.
I also recently went to a Hanson concert. Yup, you read that right. I am not a HUGE Hanson fan. The were my first concert when I was little. My Aunt and Uncle got us tickets, and I remember sitting the whole time, and my Aunt telling us that we could stand (like all the other screaming girls) But I remember sitting in a spot where you had a really good view of the stage, so I didn’t get why I would need to stand, and I felt awkward in front of family lol. ANYWAYS- I think Hanson is a really fun band to see live. They played on time (WHAAAAT?!) and it was super upbeat and family friendly. In fact I think I saw a total of 10 kids- 10 more than I’ve ever seen at a concert. The only downside is that I got the feeling that 99% of the fans were people who never stopped listening to Hanson as a kid. So they were much more intense that I was. Hands down the best part of the show as Taylor! Duh! I mean he had a cute butt and TRI-and-BI-CEPS that could crush a watermelon.
Podcast: Gastropod I love you. You are the BEST podcast on food. Sadly, not vegan, but they always have great historical context, sound editing, and scientific backing. Their more recent episode on Marshmallow Fluff really inspired me to do more with it. Maybe pick up some Ricemallow or try making my own with some aquafaba.
Another case of me loving how diverse my state/area is. Hasidic Judaism was something I was always familiar with as a child. Sometimes we would see families walking to and from church. Sometimes we knew when traffic would be bad on certain holidays, etc. So it was interesting to hear The Longest Shortest Time’s recent episode about Shpitzle’s Secret. The episode is about a woman who grew up in a hasidic community, and how she fought her way out for her son.
Garden: I dug up my one bush and finally put it towards the front of the house. But that is about it. My Mother in Law bought us some mums, and I placed them next next to our tombstone Halloween decor. Maybe I’ll get some tulip bulbs from my Mom to plant this fall for next year. *crosses fingers* maybe they’ll bloom?
CSA: Thinks have gone by so fast lately. My Mom hasn’t been able to watch Wolfie because of her knee, so I started to work Saturdays, which means I haven’t really been to my CSA to get the produce. But we are moving out of summer and into the fall foods. So I’ve been getting my last bits of tomatillos, tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and raspberries. And we are getting more sweet potatoes, blue skinned potatoes, butternut squash, pumpkin, garlic (cured aka dried), kale, collard greens, broccoli, cauliflower, and onions again. It is nice to get more shelf stable good, and not have to panic to use all the produce by the end of the week. XD
Other Eats: Cakes. Cakes. Cakes. I think my husband will divorce me soon. lol
Other Shares: I found this article about the nutritional content of plants very interesting. A quick TL:DR; is that the rising temperatures and CO2 levels are making plants produce less nutrients and protein, and more sugars. Naturally this isn’t an attack on veganism, because we don’t know what it means for meat and dairy (they have to eat the same plants as we do- duh) Just another thing to worry about with global warming (or to counter arguments saying that high CO2 is good for plants.)
Oh the vegan applesauce cake. You are such a staple to vegans everywhere. Just a quick search of the words vegan applesauce and cake comes up with so many pinterest pins. I’ve read about people in Europe complain about us damned American bakers who keep putting applesauce in our baked goods, and I remember reading in How It All Vegan that applesauce is a great way to replace eggs.
I was a little surprised to see how American this cake is. Applesauce has been put into cakes in the United States back in Colonial New England. But it wasn’t until the depression era that it became a popular ingredient. Now you may be thinking- “I know there are apples in cakes in Europe,” but they are often chopped apples, or layered in the cake. Folding in smashed up apples into a batter is pretty American. There is even a national applesauce cake day in the United States on June 6th. Side note today is national vodka and national taco day. That just seems like such a mistake waiting to happen.
So what about THIS recipe? Well, according to American Cakes, this cake was popular for many reasons. First there was World War I, then the depression, then World War II. Ouch. This particular recipe uses applesauce both as a fat replacement and an egg replacement. It felt like this cake could pop up on some super healthy “clean” food blog, but it is just really economical.
Oddly I have not used applesauce that often in baking. I guess mostly because I don’t really like eating applesauce. Sure I loved it as a kid, but not so much as an adult. Luckily I baked this cake twice so I used up most of the jar. The first time making it I thought it was too sweet. But after a day the sweetness mellows out. I baked it a second time with less sugar, and oil instead of margarine. I posted the recipe with the original amount of sugar but you can easily drop it to 3/4 cup of sugar if you like things not very sweet.
I took the second cake to my Grandmother’s who loved the cake. She also couldn’t get over the fact that you could bake without butter or eggs. I never fully understood why people say this, but I guess I always baked enough to know that not all recipes use butter or eggs. Then my Mother started to confuse my Grandma about how you can use shortening or lard in a recipe. Now she will make me a cake out of lard thinking it is vegan. But she asked for this recipe, and I will happily share. It right up her ally- insanely easy to make.
Welcome to Vegan MOFO 2017! Yey! This year I’ve got this! lol nope, I don’t. I am crazy to think I can balance a baby and a blog post each day. But I love Vegan MOFO, so whatever. I’m going to try and make it work.
This year I decided to try and do a theme. Way back in March I wanted to try and bake cakes from my cookbook American Cakes. I thought I would do a cake a month or so… and I got only one done. In my defense I tried several different cakes, but haven’t found the perfect veganized version. Since it has taken me so long, I decided to make it be my theme for Vegan MOFO- Historical Vegnaized American Cakes! If you want to read more about my mission, check out the original post.
KIND-OF working with the weekly themes, this week is Changing Vegan Perceptions. So I thought I would pick recipes that are vegan to begin with or near vegan. Yes, vegan baking is historical. Who knew? There are actually quite a few recipes that needed little to no modifications in the book- enter the Wacky Cake.
There are lots of stories surrounding this cake. Some people say it came about from the depression since butter and eggs were so readily available. But it seems more likely it would of been made during World War II because of rations. But author Anne Byrn focuses on the popularity of this cake as an “emergency dessert.”
This concept cracks me up, but is a very real social requirement of the 50s. You must be prepared to feed a guest at any moment! My boss talks about how guests would show up, and there was routine that the dinner portion would shave down just a little for everyone to make up for the extra table setting. Then his Mom would cook up some potatoes to make up for plate space. Since this recipe didn’t have any perishable items, it made it easy to whip up. Heck I made the whole cake and topping in one nap time (aka less than an hour)
The original recipe is suppose to be made in just the cake pan. You sift the flour, create little holes in the flour, and fill them with the liquids. Mix all together and bake. I found this to be a pain in the butt, and it didn’t mix all the way. So I just mixed it all together in my kitchen-aid mixer and got much better results.
At first I felt a little odd making this cake without making any modifications, but after a quick search- I found that this cake is ALL OVER THE PLACE. Heck, even when reading the recipe I thought “this looks like the recipe my Mother in Law made..” Yup- it was. She used the recipe from Mayim Bialik’s cookbook, she even makes it on Rachael Ray. So I felt a lot less weird about posting this recipe. I did try and keep the caramel topping in the book. I personally love it. I even tried to make it a little more “shelf stable” by using coconut oil instead of margarine. But you can use whatever frosting you want- or just some powder sugar.
And if you are wondering why it took me so long to post a recipe that I didn’t really alter? Well, it is because I kept not getting very good photos. First time making it, I didn’t bother with photos, for whatever the reason. Then the second time I made it for a party and someone cut tiny little squares and they just weren’t very photogenic. Then I made it again, which annoyed my husband (this isn’t his favorite cake) and I kind-of over cooked the caramel. *sigh* but I HAD to get the photos this time. So there you have it. Three cakes in total. Yikes.
I know what you are all thinking- didn’t she just post one of these things? Yup- but it was practically a month late. *ugh* I know I am just terrible at this right? Well, if all goes according to plan, this will FINALLY be done relatively on time… *crosses fingers*
Let’s start with this photo- terrible right? He just won’t stay still. How do people do it?! I see all those trendy milestone blankets, but this kid will not stay on his back. I think the last photo involved Jon standing by holding Wolfie down till I started to hit the shutter. Oh well. You get the point. The kid is screaming and large. Moving on.
FOOD: Eating like a horse still. But we had some major break throughs! One being that HE ATE A LIL BB BURRITO! Yey! It was the cutest thing ever and it actually made some foods easier for him to eat (aka rice)
Wolfie is largely disinterested in my boobs. I mean he still likes to nurse, but I think sometimes he likes formula better simply because he can feed himself. He at one point was trying to figure out how to feed himself with my boobs. See I use a shield which is a small piece of silicon that makes it a fool proof latch for babies. He has ripped it off my boob, and tried sucking on it. Eventually he has figured out that there is something with the combination of the two, then he tends to stare at my nipples and pinch them. Baby. Listen. Stop it. It is weird.
MOVING: Oh man is Wolfie into walking… well at best as he can. He has been mostly “cruising.” No, he isn’t picking up men for casual sex, as my husband jokes, he is using tables and chairs to hold himself for walking. If he isn’t holding onto the couch or coffee table, it is usually the alligator walker we got as a hand me down. Seriously that kid just goes back and forth and back forth of the living room.
Naturally all this movement means there is a lot more thuds. I can now tell when he wakes up not because of screaming but because I hear the back of crib banging on the wall. He also has lots of little dings and bruises from trying to walk when he is exhausted.
GROWTH: Still tall and skinny. The most recent visit to the Pediatrician came with these stats-
- Weight: 19lb 7oz (48%)
- Length: 2ft 5in (80%)
- Head: 17.52in (34%)
Not too different percentage wise from the last visit. And the scary thing is that I was looking at his numbers to clothing sizes and pretty much his weight is in 6-9 month clothing and his height is clipping towards the 12-18 month clothes. Huh?!
The visit also showed that he has a slightly low iron count. The doctor said that he thinks there was a mess up with the tests since Wolfie doesn’t SEEM anemic. So that means I have to get back into the habit of giving him his vitamins again. Just incase.
And that’s more or less it. I am only covering about 2 weeks worth of life for Wolfie, so you know, not much to say.
In my usual fashion- just like 14 days late. No biggie right?! XD Well, here’s what I’ve been up to in August. I’ll leave you with that so you can read before it is October XD
Reading: Finished Strong Female Protagonist, so I get to return it to Alexa WHEN SHE MOVES TO HER NEW APARTMENT! Very exciting. But focus on the book- it took a lot longer to read than most graphic novels. It is fairly text heavy, but the visuals are still very awesome. I don’t think the texts take away from the medium. I liked the idea of superheroes in the everyday world, and I love how internal conflict that Alison has with trying to “save the world forever.” You don’t need to be a super hero person to really dig this novel.
After finishing that, I went to the library and saw Emily Strange in the YA section. I had no idea that there was a comic series…. so long after her debut. I remember loving Emily Strange when I was a little tween (I mean look at that website- so dated!). So it has been interesting to read The Complete Emily the Strange: All Things Strange. It is interesting to see a personality bloom for Emily. I think I would of fallen in love with her even more if I had the comic when I was younger. What is most interesting is the style changes all the time. Some are stories, some are little “hyuk hyuk” jokes, some are little interviews, and some are just really cool art. Heck even the artistic style changes through the comic series. And naturally this is making me want to dye my hair black and cut some bangs again. I know I shouldn’t though. I never upkeep my bangs.
Watching: As always I am late to the game with what I am watching. Jon and I just finished up season two of Master of None. God I love that show. It never stops entertaining me, and really tries to push what a TV show can do with editing. It is also FINALLY getting Jon on board with Eric Wareheim. Jon HATES Tim and Eric and Tom Goes to the Mayor. I love the visual editing from them. Now Eric Wareheim is in something Jon can dig (read: a plotline) Side note- I saw Eric once in person! I didn’t say hi, mostly because I kept thinking “Why the fuck does this giant look so familiar?” He was at DiBruno Bros so he was probably buying cheese.
Jon and I started watching Key and Peele. It was on the short list of things I would like to watch, but I didn’t know how Jon would react. He randomly decided he wanted to watch it the other day, and we are in love.
Crafting: Nothing new really. Well, my Mother and I are working hard on opening an Etsy shop filled with quilts and little sewn goods for babies. Right now I have a whole whopping ONE item in the shop. XD But we should soon have more.
Listening: For Jon’s birthday I tipped his parents off that he wanted a new record player for Christmas. But it didn’t work out because we had too many things we needed- mostly a new storm door. Turns out that it kind-of is a gift for me as well. XD I brought down all our old CDs and I’ve been jamming out to a lot of Judy and Mary and SE7EN. If they sound familiar, it might be because Judy and Mary sang the opening theme for Rurouni Kenshin and SE7EN debuted in the US with a single featuring Lil Kim.
Podcast: The Longest Shortest Time just released an episode on talking to kids about racism. Ugh. I thought it would be tough to explain veganism to Wolfie, now this? It is really interesting hearing how it is okay to be clumsy talking about racism as a white parent. They also talked about how kids notice these things very early on, so the race talk might be come much earlier than what I originally anticipated.
Garden: My pathetic garden always surprises me. The Spider Queen plants from last year went to seed and grew this year. Sadly, the bunnies kept nibbling them down, so I assumed they were toast. Not so! They bloomed! Though they were not as impressive as last year. XD I am hoping my boss will share some seeds for the plants that seemed to be bunny proof with me. It is possible that I might be growing tobacco next year.
CSA: Tons of green beans and tomatoes. So many tomatoes. Like stupid tons. Luckily the crockpot makes tomato sauce super easy anymore. Just cook for an insanely long time. Done! XD But this was the last week for tomatoes (probably) as we had a “take what you want” written on the you pick board. Tomatillos are back but so far I only took a quart and made my tomatillo tofu. Blackberries finally ended and raspberries are starting to come out.
I made some okra curry from Vegan Richa, and Wolfie gobbled it all up. We got a spaghetti squash (yey this season has been horrible for them) and made them into tacos with the tomatillo tofu. Lots of bell peppers and onions have been going on pizzas, some eggplant here and there, and one or two summer squashes. We’ve gotten a tiny yellow watermelon and two big red watermelon.
I’ve been boing and chopping up the beets for my smoothies. It’s been too hot to make any of the beet recipes that I like. T_T We got one head of lettuce for the summer, which to chopped, washed and ate asap because things freezing in the fridge is still and issue.
Other Eats: PUMPKIN BEER! Okay so that is a little bit of a September thing. I’ve been really happy with booze lately. Maybe that is a sign I am getting more sleep? We had a big family get together so I got to taste a few beers, cocktails, and champagne. I’ve been browsing local liquor stores seeing what they have and dreaming up new cocktail recipes… maybe? BTW if anyone tracks their beers via Untapped, follow me and Alexa! We love seeing what other people are drinking!
And in news of food, I did it- I signed up for Vegan MOFO 2017! I won’t be using their prompts. I’ll HOPEFULLY post more Veganized American Cakes, and cocktails. But Alexa might pop in with the prompts.
Other Shares: I’ve been thinking a lot again about body image. I wrote about how weird pregnancy is for the body, but post pregnancy brings up slightly different issues. And not that men don’t have issues with changing bodies, but I think women have more circumstances where their bodies have drastic changes. Anyways, all of this is leading up to Gina’s new post about Why She Got Her Breast Implants Out. She talks about why she got implants, why it made sense at the time, and why she got a little more plastic surgery done. It is a great read for anyone who had breast cancer or had a baby or both or none of the above. Clearly the post will have body image trigger warnings but also “clean eating”
I also feel like lately I’ve been handling bad news by ignoring it. It can be hard with a kid since you know that the stupid choices being made will effect him the most. So I am taking the time to point out Hurricane Harvey. If you have any money or time to offer, Offbeat Home gives a bunch of great links to food banks, diaper drives, and ways to volunteer your time.
What a month. Wolfie is becoming a little person instead of a screaming lump. And in usual fashion I am very late with this post. Instead of pretending like I am going to just talk about the past month- I will be talking about the past month and a half because HE IS JUST DOING SO DARN MUCH!
This is probably one of the first things Wolfie learned how to do this month. It has been a frustrating struggle. He can sit up and that was good enough for awhile. Then he was getting frustrated that he would get stuck either sitting up or laying down.
Well, one day Wolfie was napping while Jon and I were trying to get some things done around the house. The monitor went off, and Jon questioned as to whether or not he should get him. I made an off-the-cuff comment
“meh, he sounds fine, let him play a little by himself.”
Jon replied with “okay…. oh….”
He got up and showed me the monitor. My response?
“Oh… yeah… you should get him”
All you could see on the monitor was Wolfie’s big bald-ish noggin because he’s figured out how to hoist himself up!
My last note was “just about to crawl”… mark that down to “nailed it”! It has been so nice to have him be able to move around and gain some independence. Here is how his evolution in crawling has progressed:
- Butt scooting, pretty much moving around in a big circle, confined to a 2 foot radius
- Sort of crawling- getting about 2 “steps” in before throwing in the towel
- One day you realize you didn’t have to pick up Wolfie for the last 30 minutes. OH SHIT! he’s crawling!
- Crawling starts out with dragging one leg behind, kind-of looking like a bug with a leg torn off.
- He figures out how to keep his knees in contact with the floor, now can crawl long distances
- Screw knees, let’s use our feet! now his butt is high in the air as he crawls
- Stairs! Yup, this little munchkin climbed up a small step at Grandma and Grandpa’s house…Eep!
Wolfie is now so excited that he is able to crawl towards Toulouse. It’s really funny because he crawls all the way across the room, exhausting himself, then when he starts to get close to her, Toulouse just casually and calmly gets up and just walks away. Better up your crawling game Wolfiecakez.
After so many months of being really quiet, Wolfie is starting to babble with intent again. For a long time we thought his first word would be “hi” since he kept making an “H” sound with various words. But, now I think “UP” may end up being his first word. He often says something sounding very close to “up” with his hands up in the air, looking to get held. It is hard to say since he will randomly say it totally out of context though.
He has also learned how to blow out air so we can move our hands over his mouth. You know, like that racist Native American stereotype? It’s only cute because there aren’t any racist undertones when Wolfie does it. It is pretty darn cute when he grabs your hand to make the noise. But he has moved on to making the noise himself with a balled up fist and (on rare occasions) his foot when in the car.
This kiddo just wants to walk. The first comments I got when I posted a video of Wolfie crawling were ones about how he just wants to stand. I am pretty sure he has been wanting to stand since he was in the womb (so much kicking!) He is getting increasingly better at standing. He started holding himself up by playing with his jungle toy, but had a hard time grasping the idea of how to accomplish that without any toys around him. Then he started to understand that he could use tables and chairs to stand up too.
The next step (clearly) is pulling himself up. He has no problem using me as his own personal ladder. He’s really started to nail it, to the point that it’s never phased me. Almost everyone excitedly asks if I knew he could pull himself up, and I just shrug my shoulders. Meh. Not impressed. Sure you can use my squishy body to pull yourself up. Until… yesterday morning he started to try and pull himself up from sitting to his knees. After some major encouragement from me, I motivated him to pull himself to a standing position! WHOOO! This morning I even caught him using the glider. So now his crib has been lowered again to the absolute lowest setting, and his video monitor has been moved very far away to keep the cord out of reach.
For awhile Wolfie was clapping but with one palm open and the other in a tight fist. Now he totally has the whole clapping with both palms opened. In fact, the other day I heard a solid “clap” sound.
He is also starting to understand the whole waving thing. But I think it is mostly for himself. Rarely he will wave hello or goodbye. But he has learned to let his arm go limp to make me shake it when out and about.
His little pincher grip is getting better. If you hand him a small piece of food, he will clamp it with his pointer finger and thumb. It’s adorable! Oddly enough any advancement with his hand-eye-coordination seems to revolve around food. When he plays he seems most interested in trying to stand, crawl, walk, etc. Not play with toys.
I think awhile ago I made some joke about ways Wolfie is like an ACTUAL dog. Add this to the list- he has been trying to pick up and eat his spit up. OMFGFDHJ*@#UEJ@## SO GROSS! Spit up is already bad, but he just finds way to make it EVEN WORSE by going for it. You know, like spreading it around with his feet, or chunks of his food. STOP IT! I know you are reading this blog, baby!
So far the only food he hasn’t really been diggin’ has been chickpea-egg-like things. I made vegan omelets and little savory bean muffins. Both he happily ate the first day, but then didn’t care after a day or two.
Otherwise he has been LOVING peaches, but sadly, I think we are going to be done with them soon. By the time we go to the orchard again they will probably be all gone. This kiddo could probably eat two whole peaches in a day if I let him. Bananas are another favorite. I think my favorite part of BLW is making lil bb versions of normal food. I got to make ADORABLE little naans. And after going to Vedge, Jon wanted to have some recipes from the Vedge cookbook for his birthday dinner. It was so stinkin cute plating fancy food onto a small baby plate.
It finally happened- Wolfie caught a cold. Back in the day, I am thinking around 6 weeks, Jon got a cold, then I got a cold. IT WAS AWFUL! But somehow Wolfie didn’t get sick, but I remember it was really rough trying to get through the day.
I remember taking Wolfie to the library and him touching all the toys and putting things in his mouth. I was nervous but I didn’t want to be that paranoid parent. Sure enough- he got sick… and so did I… and so did Jon. I woke him up and thought
“your nose is really runny… is this a cold?”.
It mostly sucked because it messed up his sleep schedule (which means it messed up our sleeping). He would either nap for 2-3 hours, or only 10-30 minutes. One night he woke up 3 times during the night, bringing back horrible memories of the really early baby days.
I also got flashbacks of the sneaky snot swipes from watching my niece Morgan. She got sick much more often from being in daycare and having allergies. Oh did I mention Wolfie was teething while sick? So there were just constant waterfalls of snot and spit. Have I mentioned how disgusting children are?
HE HAS TWO NOW!
The bottom two teeth came in about the week of turning 8 months. Not much else to say other than read the previous paragraph.
I remember being so nervous that Wolfie would never nap longer than 30 minutes. Gosh it has been such a crummy experience when he was young with napping. Sleep at night- thumbs up. Sleeping during the day, tears.
Aside from him getting sick, naps are getting so much more regular. It started with secured morning naps. Then after getting sick, it seemed like something switched, and he decided “yes, these naps rock” Now I know that I can get two naps in, the morning being much longer than the one in the afternoon. This is the only reason why this post finally getting up …*sigh*. It is nice to have some peace and quiet during the day.
I am finally understanding why Mom’s have a bad rep for their fashion choices. I have a closet full of clothing and most are unwearable. Lots are too small, some have too many lacy holes and buttons for Wolfie to grab at, and some are too fancy. Some I’ve just haven’t even tried on yet.
One Bad Mother released an episode about self care. They talked about as you and your children grow, what constitutes self care changes. I know when Wolfie was born showering, eating, and sleeping were on the top of the self care list. But now that things are becoming more manageable, taking care of my self image is surfacing. I want to make an appointment to get contacts again, I want to dye my hair a fun color, and I want to wear clothing that are nice.
But my body isn’t the same. It is slightly different from when I was pregnant- I knew I would be totally different each day getting a little bigger and bigger, and suddenly go through the most extreme weight loss. Wanna loose 10 pounds in ONE DAY?! EASY! Just have a baby!** But now I don’t know what will happen with this body. I am MOSTLY “normal” but I do have a little more fat on my tummy. My boobs are very much so bigger, but what will they look like after I stop breastfeeding? When will I stop?! So how the heck am I suppose to buy new clothing if I have no idea what size to get?
**Disclaimer may take 9 months to create baby
If I go shopping I like to go alone, and I found out quickly, it is hard to shop with a little nugget. I can’t just pick clothing off the rack and know they will fit. My body has changed so much. My boobs are bigger, my hips are wider, I mean I’ve been living in t-shirts and leggings this summer. And I literally have no shorts or pants that fit (that aren’t for working out that is.) So I’ve been thinking about doing a subscription clothing service. While searching around I saw that Dia & Co has a Try-Day Friday fashion challenge- try to go outside your comfort zone.
The simple act of going into my closet and picking out a new outfit is very intimidating. I was so excited when Jon and I would go out for dinner, but 90% of my dresses didn’t zip up. It was incredibly frustrating especially since it use to be my waist that would be too big, not it is my chest. This alone has had me stick to the same tried and true shirts, skirts, and leggings for my wardrobe.
And having my clothing not fit properly around my chest only fans the flames of my personal discomfort around them. I’ve never liked my boobs. They are big, floppy, and pain to find both clothing and bras. The problem is only getting worse, I went from sometimes a D to E, and I can only assume they will look like deflated water balloons after nursing. Ugh. So I thought I would dig into my closet and find a dress or shirt that I would have to wear a strapless bra! Yikes!
I found a dress that I bought on sale from Modcloth. It doesn’t look racey or anything, but bra straps always show. So I never wore it. I went the whole 9 yards, lipstick, bb cream, hair pulled back, and some cute shoes. Once I had everything on, I really wasn’t sure why I put off wearing a strapless bra with this dress. It was all very comfortable.
Now, don’t think this is all sunshine and rainbows. Shortly afterwards I found out that strapless bras and babies are a horrible combo. I had to change before making my errands otherwise I would of been flashing everyone I walked past. But it will probably get worn out next time I am with little Wolfie or when he gets older and doesn’t need me to carry him everywhere.
Then when I looked at the photos on my computer I was not loving how my chest looks. But loving how I look in person is a place to start right? I know part of my dislike of the photos is the lighting. And you can’t see how sparkly the lipstick is, but it was nice to not be wearing an oversized t-shirt with leggings for once. It has definetly inspired me to clear out my closet. Try things on again, try and give my clothing a second chance.
It’s finally happened- I’ve eaten at the legendary Vedge restaurant! The spot is known as a major restaurant to check out for any foodie when in Philadelphia – omni, vegetarian, or vegan. It has taken me so long to write this post- 2 months! There is just so much to talk about. The history of the restaurant, building, chefs, and naturally the food. When we went we pretty much ordered everything from the menu (No- really). The meals are sold as small plates, and are suggested you get three plates per person. Each section has 5 dishes to choose from, and we had 4 people altogether. It was easier to choose what we weren’t going to order, but before I get ahead of myself let’s talk about the history.
Vedge opened up in 2011 with Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby. The co-owner Rich Landau has reached a minor celebrity chef status, being featured in many interviews, owning several restaurants, and even being featured on Chopped (and won!) Landau and Jacoby have shaped Philadelphia’s vegan food scene, expanding it from it’s punk and religious background. They opened up V Street, a tapas bar, and Wiz Kid, a fast food cheesesteak shop. Nicole Marquis was an employee at Vedge, and has expanded the vegan high end dining experience by opening up Bar Bonbon, Charlie was a Sinner, and HipCityVeg. Just type in “best of philadelphia” and Vedge will appear in many different articles. There isn’t much debate- Vedge is one of the best restaurants in the entire city.
If you aren’t much for “fancy” food, then grab a drink or dessert at the bar to appreciate the architecture. The building was designed by the legendary Frank Furness. He designed over 600 buildings during the Victorian era. Most of his buildings are in the Philadelphia area, and many were destroyed. But this row home has managed to survive, and it really gives a fun layout for a restaurant. When you first walk up the steps it doesn’t feel like you are going into the right building. Surely you are walking into someone’s apartment? Once you open the doors you make it to the bar area and are quickly greeted by the hostess. There is a dining room in the front of the building and one in the back, we were seated in the front, giving lots of light at the beginning of the meal for photographs. Whoo!
Thinking about visiting? Here are some things to keep in mind. One is that everything I’ve written below is subject to change, in fact, their menu changes daily. Not joking. Part of this is because they try and truly stick with seasonal produce. The waiter said there are staples to the menu, or there are some things that simply get modified. For example the radishes seem to be available year round, but the choice of radishes change according to the season. So this menu is the 2017 spring/summer menu.
Also make a reservation — now! Yes I mean now! Open a new tab, google their number, and call! They book months ahead of time for weekend dinners. My sister tried to make reservations for my birthday, and they were booked. Last year my parents in law tried to take us out to dinner but they were booked. But if you are going to be able to dine during the week- you will probably have a much better chance of snagging a table. Even still, if you don’t mind sometimes they will let you eat at the bar without reservations, which isn’t bad. I wouldn’t mind grabbing a cocktail and dessert at the bar late at night- or right when they open XD!!
On paper the prices don’t seem too expensive. But the menu is set up to order one plate from three categories. They aren’t particularly shareable- I mean try cutting those tiny radishes into four pieces! So this is what makes the price of your meal to shoot up. The review is divided up in the categories on the menu, cocktails, the vedge bar, the dirt list, the grill, and desserts.
So I will leave you to read my reviews on the dishes after saying this- Hey Vedge! Want to have me back and pay for my meal? I can totally do another review of your fall/winter menu. Hit me up. I can also try Wiz Kid or V Street! *winkie face emoji* Alright I’m done selling out- read and drool.
BLACK HOLE SUN
scotch, burnt miso, maria al monte, charcoal 14
Dummy’s Guide: scotch, burnt miso, amaro– a bittersweet herbal liqueur, hip stuff to make things black
Jon, his Dad, and myself all got this cocktail. It is a strong drink served in an old fashion. The combination is very odd, scotch plus an herbally liqueur? And what would burnt miso and charcoal even taste like? They all come together nicely, and the miso and charcoal take off some of that astringent alcohol taste. This was so good that my Father in Law got a second.
THE ELDER SAGE
gin, elderflower, lemon, smacked sage
This is a very tasty cocktail but nothing unique. Gin and elderflower are made for each other. But I can say that the flavors work very well. If you can’t stand neat hard liquor, this is probably the cocktail for you. Simple, light, and not too sweet.
LIFE OF PABLO
tequila, aperol, rhubarb, poblano
Dummy’s Guide: tequila, amaro– a bittersweet herbal liqueur, rhubarb, poblano peppers
I don’t think I’ve ever talked about my love of poblano peppers on the blog. They are my favorite pepper, and I get so excited when they start showing up at my CSA. So it was obviously in the cards for me to get this drink. They layer the drink, making a rhubarb layer and a poblano layer. The more you drink, the more they mix together. Truthfully it seems like a weird mix, but they worked so well with each other. I would never think to mix an amaro with a tequila, but they picked out what seemed like the least bitter of all the ones available.
RABBIT FIGHTER (Not Pictured)
rum, strega, pomelo, cardamom bitters
Dummy’s Guide: rum, green herbal liqueur, a citrus fruit, cardamom bitters
Hmm… I blame this cocktail- my third of the night- for my less than stellar memory. Okay- it is probably because we tried almost EVERYTHING off the menu but hey- I can still blame this right? I remember liking this cocktail a lot, but the specifics are a blur. #blogfail
THE VEDGE BAR
smoked tamari, yuzu avocado, pickled tofu, shishito
Let me first start by talking about how we all had to skillfully cut each and everyone of those radishes into four pieces. We divided ALL of the dishes- but this one was a particular challenge. This dish is a staple, according to our server, but the radishes change as they come into season. Some of the names I reconized from our CSA, but I was a dummy and didn’t take notes. I can hands down say that my favorites were the radish paired with the tofu and the radish paired with the shishito pepper. The tofu and pepper gave a wonderful contrast of texture to the radishes.
deviled turnip, caper puree, nigella grissini
Personal opinion here- not sure if I get the whole “deviled” veggies thing. But that is only a minor part of the dish. The grissini, or let’s be real- a breadstick, was super yummy and made daily. The portobello was amazing. They are thinly sliced and cooked or marinated to perfection.
SALT BAKED BEETS
crushed cucumber, dill, capers, cured olive, rye
This is one of Vedge’s signature dishes. They bake beets at low temperatures for 2+ hours over a bed of salt. The salt takes moisture away from the beets, concentrating the flavors. It also gives the beets a unique texture. I’m normally not a huge fan of rye or dill, but they worked wonderfully with the beets.
today’s soft pretzel, yesterday’s pickle, charred onion
Hands down- one of best dishes of the night, or even best in this category. The pretzel was fluffy and soft on the inside but just enough crust on the outside. It is pure magic how they get the rutabaga to be so fondue like. It is fluffy and creamy. I can honestly say that the pretzel worked perfectly with the fondue. Yeah, the pickles and onion were good too- but the pretzel and rutabaga?!
THE DIRT LIST
NEBRODINI MUSHROOMS (Not Pictured)
as “fazzoletti”, “pomodoro”
If you know Italian food you probably have an idea of what this dish looks like. If you are like me and am totally hopeless, you were completely surprised. Fazzoletti is a flat square noodle, which kind-of look like someone picked apart a ravioli. THe mushrooms were served in a similar fashion- flat and square. Pomodoro is a quick light pasta dish with olive oil and fresh tomatoes. Although everything I ate at Vedge was amazing, this dish was less memorable.
POLE BEANS & ZUCCHINI
briam stew, hummus, smoked sourdough
The title is a little misleading, the pole beans and zucchini are not the highlight of the dish. I think the sub-description better explains what you are ordering. There is a big serving of hummus, topped with briam (a greek stew with pole beans and zucchini), and smoked sourdough chunks are placed on top. Even though we were expecting a larger portion of beans and zucchini, the dish was amazing. The hummus was perfectly smooth and not too thick or thin.
flash seared, smoked onion dashi, pickled spring onions
Greens are always a little disappointing. I always want more than what they serve! These pea leaves were super amazing, tender, flavorful and not too bitter. The dashi and pickled spring onions added only a little bit of flavor, letting the pea leaves really carry the dish.
GRILLED GOLD POTATOES
black garlic tahini, za’atar, calabrian chile relish
I think these potatoes were the favorite in this category. I am not a HUGE potato person so that is saying something. It has everything you need- crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. The flavor combinations were perfect. The tahini had a wonderful garlic-y salty flavor, and the chili relish gave it this dish a bright burst.
ASPARAGUS “COLCANNON” (Not Pictured)
peas & green garbanzos, garbanzo crepe, smoked kohlrabi
It has been a long time since I’ve eaten asparagus. I don’t get any in my CSA and they tend to be pricey. The asparagus was nice and thin, making each bite tender. The garbanzo crepe wrapped around the asparagus, and sat on sauce (I think made from smoked kohlrabi?) with some peas and green garbanzo beans.
SSAMJANG GLAZED TOFU
edamame puree, burnt miso, cucumber, sea beans, toasted nori
I am a sucker for tofu, and this was a delicious small slab of tofu. It was well pressed, grilled, and marinated. I especially liked the accompanying flavors. The tofu itself wasn’t overly flavored, but the edamame, miso, cucumber, and sea greens added to it perfectly.
smoked eggplant, italian salsa verde, cured olive
My Mother in Law was excited to try this. She had made this recipe several times at home using the Vedge cookbook. She first pointed out how much tidier their eggplant dish looked compared to hers. But after doing some googling, I think she did a REALLY good job with her version. Naturally I can’t help but compare this dish to the one she made. I love the rice filling at Vedge, it is fluffy, light, and packed with flavor. But I think I prefer my Mother in Law’s eggplant. Hers is just a little bit thicker, which I prefer. Regardless, this is a great dish, and I am pretty sure sticks on the menu most of the year. Heck it was even on the menu when Gina from The Full Helping went 5 years ago.
SEARED MAITAKE MUSHROOM (Not Pictured)
celery root fritter, smoked leek remoulade
This was another crowd favorite. We almost ordered a second plate of it. Maitake mushrooms (or hen of the woods) are amazing and hearty. The mushrooms are very “meaty,” perfectly cooked to be tender but not too dried out. The celery root fritter adds a nice contrasting texture.
So this is where I really dropped the ball. I forgot to take a photo of the dessert menu, thinking it would be fairly stable each night. Nope. I know they have rotating ice cream flavors each night, which my Father in Law picked since the featured flavor of the night was pistachio. It also appears that they have different variations of cheesecake that are always available. My husband went with the cheesecake, but I can’t remember what flavor he chose. Regardless, it was one of the best cheesecakes I’ve tasted in awhile.
CHOCOLATE UBER CHUNK (Not Pictured)
malt custard, pretzels & peanut butter, stout ice cream
Although the menu changes all the time, this seems to be the staple of the house. My Mother in Law jumped on this dish the second she saw it. I don’t blame her. I had a bite and it was amazing. Perfect for a chocolate lover.
GOLDEN PEACH ROBATAYAKI (Not Pictured)
yuzu-chile cornbread, miso ice cream, honeydew duck sauce
So after three cocktails and sharing two flights of Amari- my memory is a little hazy. Well, at least when it comes to reading. I couldn’t find the name of the dessert I had, until randomly this dessert appeared on the menu again. Oddly, I remember that night being surprised there was a peach in my meal…which seems unlikely since peach is in the title. Who knows, but I am 99% sure this what I had. Peach. Check. Miso Ice Cream. Check. Honeydew sauce. Check. So much to say about what the heck this even is. Well first robatayaki is a slow barbecue method from Japan. So this is what it looked like- the honeydew “duck sauce” is poured onto the plate creating a pool. The yuzu-chile cornbread sits on the honeydew puree, then the robatayaki-ed peach and ice cream sits on top of the cornbread. It is overall sort of like a fancy-pants sundae. All of this sounds very unlikely to be a good match, but it was actually perfection. So many textures and flavors. I love how salty the miso ice cream is, then is balanced by the sweetness of the honeydew sauce. The peach is also sweet, but adds a hint of tartness. The cornbread added only a little crumble to the dish overall.
This deserves mostly an explanation, and less of a review of each individual drink. Maybe one day I will go back and give a more solid review, but this is something you will most likely want to do if you visit.
So what is Amari? It’s Italian for bitter, and you might of noticed me listing some amari in the cocktails above. They are herbal liqueurs that have roots back when hard alcohol was a way to administer medicine. Today they are usually served as an after-dinner digestive, which is why they appear on the dessert menu. If you are wondering what it tastes like- well that’s where things get complicated. Each one has their own blend of herbs and strength in alcohol. They can have anything between 16 to 40 percent alcohol. Wikipedia has a great little breakdown of different types, including ones made with artichokes, grapes, rhubarb, truffles, and bark.
Again, I would love to do a sampling with a notebook and all to really do some justice about these different drinks. But for now, I will leave you with a list of drinks offered, with some notes and links to learn more about them.
*NOTE: Prices are just listed to give an idea of how expensive the bottle might be. All stores will price differently.
**VEGAN WARNING: If you decide to buy Amari/Amaro from a liquor store check this list or barnivore before buying! Traditionally the red color comes from bugs.
Amaro Don Ferne 25% ABV $50
Amaro d’Erbe ‘Nina’ 30% ABV $35
Amaro Meletti 32% ABV $20
Averna 29% ABV 40 proof $25-30 a bottle
Cynar Carciofo style (made with artichokes) 16.5% ABV (there is a special 70 proof) $35
Elisir Novasalus 16% ABV $25
Fernet Branca 39% ABV $35
Maria Al Monte Fernet style 40% ABV $30
Ramazzotti Amaro 33% ABV $20
Sibona Amaro 28% ABV $32