Friday, April 29, 2011

Dairy-Free Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches

As a fun treat after our (vegan) pizza & movie night I decided to make my kid some dairy-free ice cream cookie sandwiches for dessert.

So I made a vegan chocolate chip oatmeal cookie

Put them on a cookie sheet and in the freezer to harden just enough to make it easy to spread the ice cream
 And using softened rice milk ice cream started to assemble the sandwiches

And wrapped them in some parchment and put them in a freezer safe, air tight container
But of course my Little Sous had to come in and guarantee quality right away

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter Bunny Goes Hop Hop Hop

It's Easter. We've already had the school party where I have to dig through the candy that comes home to get all the dairy items out. I stress about my kid feeling like an outsider that he can't enjoy all the treats the other kids are. My heart breaks that he is so awesome about it. He sees a commercial for Chuck E Cheese and tells me he can't go there because he's allergic. He "checks" labels to see if there is dairy in them- he can't read yet, but he likes to think he knows what's up. I hide all the dairy items in the house, and they are very minimal, as I don't want to have anything in our home that he has to hear "no" to. The day I found ZPizza and that they made a vegan pizza was one of the happiest days ever. My kid could have a "normal" Friday night pizza delivery night.

I normally anticipate and am prepared for holiday treats. Ordering fun chocolate candies ahead of time, finding recipes to do a swap out for at parties, and this year I failed. I know I shouldn't take it as hard as I did today, but I did.

Let's back track to a few days ago to Tuesday at Target where we were strolling through the Easter aisles and my son saw those huge chocolate bunnies. He said "WOW, Mom! Do you think the Easter Bunny will bring me one of those!" Well, of course he will. I can make anything happen. Yes, I have gotten kind of cocky at this point in being able to prepare my son treats or finding them online from some of my favorite Allergy Safe resources. So Tuesday night I hopped online and discovered to get anything shipped in time for Easter would be at least an extra $35 in shipping. So I went to my next resource vegan bakeries...all who had vegan chocolate, but no bunnies. Panic set in and time was against me. No problem I would stop by Michaels and pick up a candy mold and some Enjoy Life chocolate chips...Michaels didn't have anything Easter left and was already set up for 4th of July.

It was in Bed and Bath's kitchen section (my fourth stop) that complete frustration and sadness came over me. I watched all of these people getting their milk chocolate bunnies for their Easter baskets and I had to wonder if their kids appreciated the awesomeness of a big chocolate bunny. All my kid wanted was a chocolate bunny...from the Easter Bunny. The most simple, purest childhood Easter Basket wish. Something that I took for granted, maybe eating an ear when I was a kid. I wanted him to have that luxury. To eat an ear and to feel too overwhelmingly full of chocolate that you don't feel like you could eat another sweet again. To just feel normal. To not hear "no, you can't have that you're allergic." I cried. I just broke down. The crazy woman surrounded by milk chocolate bunnies. Sobbing. I knew I didn't have time to go to Sur La Table- it was over 45 minutes away and my husband had to go to work. I sat in my car. Broken hearted. One last stop. One last try. I headed over to the party store. There I found candy molds for Easter lollipops. It wasn't going to be the big bunny my son wanted, but it was going to be chocolate and it was going to be in his Easter basket.

I will start looking for big bunny molds on Monday for next year, but for now I am going to make sure my son has a fantastic Easter morning.

So thankful these are stocked at my local grocery store!
melting those chips!
poured into the mold- yea, I added confetti sugar on the back
Easter Bunny!
Chocolate Lollies- don't worry that is edible Easter grass

Happy Easter, Bug!

It was all worth it for his excitement seeing his chocolate Easter Lollies. And...

This was my happiest moment of Easter

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

UDC: Urban Sustainability Action Summit, "Food: Sovereignty, Security and Justice"

Will Allen of Growing Power
On April 16, 2011 I attended the University of the District of Columbia Urban Sustainability Summit, "Food: Sovereignty, Security and Justice". As far of actual attendance to the events I was there for breakfast socializing and the opening speeches by Iveracottis Short, Barbara Jumper, Gloria Wyche-Moore, and Will Allen.

I had never been to UDC before and had no idea that they had a College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences. I was excited to learn of their major Green work around campus to create a sustainable and efficient future. This was their "First Annual" Summit so I look forward to see what they do in the future.

Will Allen is a man I highly respect. I was first introduced to Mr. Allen in Fresh the Movie where we see what he has created since his first plot the north side of Milwaukee on just 2 acres. He bought the last remaining farm in Milwaukee in 1993. Next door was a military site with nuclear weapons. He grew up right outside of DC on the Rockville/Bethesda line when it was farms. He grew up a farmer. He played basketball in high school, college, and was drafted by the NBA. He retired from basketball when he was 28 and moved to his wife's home town.

If there are two things you hear from Mr. Allen when he speaks it is passion and honesty. He gets it. He sees the big picture. He understands that we need the Urban farms to feed the food deserts. He understands the steps that need to happen in order to "feed the world" and the steps to save our planet, our survival as a species. Our food system is broken. We need to work together and build relationships and partnerships. We need the Walmart, Sysco, medical field, universities, politicos all at the same table working together. We have a responsibility. Mr. Allen shared that the mayor of Cleveland is setting up Ag Zones. Did you know that most cities have less than 1% of locally grown food available to them? If we make that 10% in any ONE city like Cleveland that would mean a billion dollars in local jobs and revenue, even more for cities like New York and DC. That 10% would make jobs for farmers, renewable energy, aquaponics, aqua culturalists, architects, truck drivers, etc. In Milwaukee Mr. Allen is helping build a 5 story vertical farm, the first in the world. We have hundreds of vacant building around our country, what if we used that land, those buildings to create local food! But Mr. Allen is careful to warn "We can't just have excitement, we need Action! And it can't wait." A 3 acre farm can feed 10,000 people. Have you looked at the vacant rooftop space all over our cities? Or the empty buildings? The biggest challenge is inspiring people.

Our current food system has destroyed our soil. It is 50% less fertile than it was in 1950. And after our food is picked it looses its nutrients in just a day- day and a half. The UN recently came out and said that industrial farming cannot feed the world. We need to shift and focus on local food systems world wide. We must grow new soil from all our waste, we must compost, we must find ways to use the rooftops, concrete, vacant buildings, wherever we can.

In 18 years of Will Allen's urban farming he has grown to 100 acres in Milwaukee, has 4 farms in Chicago, is continuing to grow, and has NEVER laid anyone off. He started his early years just making soil with 30 lbs of worms now he has over 5,000 lbs of worms. He started his aquaponics system with 3 barrels. It is time to make the difference. It is time to stand up for our food system.

I spent the rest of the day of the Summit helping out on the Farm to Family bus. It was fantastic. Suzi and Mark Lilly are incredible people. There are people that come into your life that you know you will never forget, Suzi is that person. She has such a wonderful warmth and caring nature about her. She makes you feel as though you are the most important person in the (bus) as she shares the stories of where the foods come from, each as precious and magical as the next. You have to see the bus, but the real perfection comes through Suzi and Mark. I was originally introduced to Farm to Family at the reception for Fresh the Movie after having a screening for Congress. The bus was parked outside Poste Moderne Brasserie and you could see it from down the block.

Mark and Suzi created a traveling farmers' market. There are up to 30 farms and artisan food makers loaded up on the bus and in their market in peak season. The Farm to Family Bus has it all- milk, butter, vegetables, fruits, honey, meats (even from that famous farmer from Polyface Farm), plants, bbq sauces, body pampering, snacks for you and for the dog, even beautiful Amish made rocking chairs, the list goes on. And it all comes from within 150 miles radius of Richmond, VA. I am not sure when they sleep exactly, but I hope they actually get to sit back and see their very awesome contribution to the food movement. What is really fun is following the bus on facebook and watching the updates of the food coming in straight from the farm and the bus is currently located so you can go stock up. It's amazing and has more variety than my 3 farmers' markets that I go to weekly.

I was there to help cover the bus while Mark and Suzi were at the Sustainability Summit to have a workshop on Real Food Security. I found being on the bus to be great as people would come in and share their views, opinions, stories of food and awe of the bus. The bus just puts you in a good mood and you get cozy with each other real quick. I spoke with people who worked for the USDA and the FDA, a girl who just started at GWU and brought her bees to college with her and installed them on top of her building, a man who is on the board at UDC but doesn't think Urban farming is realistic- "just look at all the concrete" and refused to go into the Summit and listen to anything different, a woman who wants to buy organic from Chile instead of local because it's "organic", and one woman who was so enthused she brought more and more people to enjoy the bus. It was a wonderful day of chatting with people who have opinions, for and against my own, and it's always interesting to hear. I love every time I can talk to people with passion for real food and our food system.

Mark and Suzi found a creative, fun, and effective way to help get local foods to people who wouldn't regularly have them available. They were not only excited about changing the food system they took action! I can't wait to see more creative ideas popping up around the nation and the world. And I am still looking for mine.

I did have to run before Mr. Allen got on the bus to go pick up my son from my husband's restaurant. But I had a day that will stay with me for a long time.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Less than 30 Minute Meal

In less than 30 minutes, preheating oven to table I had a fantastic dinner for my family.

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. Peel carrots. Put carrots, baby creamers, garlic cloves in baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Put in oven for 25 minutes when oven is ready.
3. Heat grill pan. Season lamb chops with salt and pepper. Cook 5-7 minutes a side. Let rest.
4. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in saute pan. Add spinach and pinch of salt. Spinach will wilt. Set aside.

Plate it all up! Serve.

Monday, April 18, 2011

BLT: Local and Homemade

Tonight's dinner was heaven. And simple. The classic BLT. What made it so delicious? Homemade bread made an hour before, local tomatoes from Farm to Family, local spinach from my local farmer's market, a little bit of onion from my storage from last fall, and local bacon from Smith Family Farm.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


I recently changed my twitter profile. It wasn't easy. Previously I had kept it all business- with my "Creating Menus for Your Table" and then my website. I modestly decided that I should share more of me on twitter, that Arubula's Kitchen isn't just about creating menus, but also what is going on in my world of food decisions/education- plus on twitter I never tweet just about menus.

I had to come up with a description of my business and my self in under 140 characters, no more hiding I was coming out with just who I am.

At last count I had 432 followers, follow 600, and one tweet away from my 3,000 tweet. This blog post will be that tweet. 3,000 tweets. Wow, I apparently have had a lot to say in 140 character intervals.

432 followers only a small handful I know in "real life", that's whole twitterverse of folks who follow my tweets. Who was I to them? There were some really cool followers like Martha Stewart, cookbook authors like Cybele Pascal, Jaden of Steamy Kitchen, Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg, chefs like Spike from Top Chef, Rebecca Wood, farmers like Smith Family Farm, Verrill Farms, and Applecheek Farms. People trying to change the world like Heifer, ZebraFinch Nathan Winters, Boston Bakes for Breast Cancer, and Lynn Hasselberger. I found support with my son's food allergy from Kids with Food Allergies, Kyle Dine, AllerDine, and Divvies.
It's just cool to watch who continues to follow, some come and go, but many have been around since I joined twitter. I have discovered great products through twitter like BaconMarmalade and GlassDharma straws. I have gotten fantastic recipes from DeliciousDish and How2Heroes that have me running from tweet to kitchen to try out the recipe. I have followed the process of restaurants opening and their success like BergamotBuzz and I have gotten suggestions on where to dine.

So in 2,999 tweets I hope that at least one of those tweets excited a follower to get in the kitchen, try out a new cookbook or restaurant, or just feel like they have a connection in the twitterverse.

What did I come up with for my new profile? "Creating Menus For Your Table: AK is my business. My life is as a mom, wife, beekeeper, student in sustainable ag, trying to save the planet 1 choice at a time"

Now I need a new logo...anyone interested in helping with the design?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Carrot Cake

This week I am going in to my kid's preschool class to make a carrot cake with them for their Easter Party. I had to do a test run before my big appearance at school, especially since I wasn't making the normal cream cheese frosting so I could make it safe for my own kid. I was hesitant to use tofutti cream cheese, although very acceptable in our own house I thought it would take away from the carrot cake at school. Although I wound up using Pilsbury Cream Cheese frosting (a little unnerving that there is no actual dairy in the frosting by the way) and used some extracts to jazz it up.

I am not a huge fan of carrot cake, I went through a phase for about a year when I was a kid that I loved it, but it was short lived and now only make it per request. The carrot cake I am sharing with you today won't be an "on request only"- it was delicious!

Carrot Cake cooling in pan
Getting ready to get frosted
Frosted, with experimental sugar work (using a cookie cutter to outline)

It's not often that I am baking a cake "just cause" and since the leftovers of this one were destined to feed my husband's staff at the restaurant I took the liberty to experiment. Using a flower cookie cutter and a circle cookie cutter I used color sugar to make a flower as a "decoration". Perhaps I will make a wax paper cutout of a bunny, carrot, or easter egg to make with the kids at school.

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

makes twenty-four 2-inch squares
For the Cake                                                   
3 cups all-purpose flour                                  
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder                        
1 teaspoon baking soda                                     
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon                     
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg*                            
¼ teaspoon ground cloves*
½ teaspoon salt
8 peeled carrots
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
2 cups applesauce
1 ½ cups canola oil
1 cup currants or semisweet chocolate chips
*I actually use my "secret ingredient" Chinese Five Spice instead

For the Frosting
½ cup butter, at room temperature
½ cup cream cheese, at room temperature
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract

For the Cake
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13x9 inch baking pan with nonstick baking spray.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

Shred the carrots in a food processor using a shredding blade. Place the carrots on top of the combined dry ingredients. DO NOT MIX TOGETHER!

Wipe out the food processor bowl and add the metal blade. Process the granulated and dark brown sugars, applesauce, and canola oil until well combined.

Pour the sugar mixture into a mixing bowl. Add carrots and dry ingredients and, using an electric mixer, mix on medium speed. Add your choice of currants or chocolate chips to the batter and mix on low speed to distribute evenly. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, and continue mixing until well combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time. (If you found the carrots “watery” when shredding, extra baking time may be required) Test by inserting a toothpick into the middle to make sure cake is done.

Cool the cake in the baking pan. Cooled cake may be removed from or left in the baking pan.
Frost with cream cheese frosting.

For the Frosting
In a bowl, and using an electric mixer, beat the butter, cream cheese, vanilla, and lemon extract on medium speed until well combined. Slowly add the confectioners’ sugar. Mix until smooth and creamy.
Store the frosting, covered, in the refrigerator, until ready to spread on cooled cake.

In other Easter Party preparations there is an Egg Drop the day of the Easter Party. Prizes for Most Creative, Most Recyclable, Most Scientific, and Biggest Splat. Here's our entry:
Used a carvable foam egg, white feathers, white and pink pompoms, glittered foam, black pipe cleaners, and jiggly eyes
Carved a hole in the back for the egg, filled with bubble wrap and edible Easter grass as a nest for the egg
Our Egg will be dyed blue and made into a little blue bird- I wanted a chick, but my kid said blue is his favorite color, so bluebird of happiness it is!

Made the parachute from a floral patterned vinyl tablecloth
He actually floated down during his test flights- a real miracle!

Friday, April 1, 2011

DC Metro Screening of "Queen of the Sun"

I am honored to be hosting a screening of Queen of the Sun for DC Metro area. There will be a reception before provided by local restaurants and wineries and a few knowledgable folks to answer questions and comments afterwards.

Thursday, May 26, 2011 7pm
ArtSpace Falls Church
410 South Maple Avenue, Falls Church 22046

Watch the Trailer:

The Event Facebook Page