Thursday, January 3, 2008

...and a Happy New Year!

It's finally over! All this holiday hubbub. I love the holidays because celebration is fun, eating desserts is fun and most importantly, spending times with family and friends is fun. However, it left very little time for my band to focus on recording (which we're supposed to be doing) and it exhausted me completely! Now I can finally relax and jump back into Acrasjia, full on.

I really don't like to take breaks from my band, actually. And it wasn't a real break. We still practiced and we've been working on a new song. But it's been sloooow. I knew we'd all be stressed to the max if we tried to juggle family gatherings, weddings and birthdays (which all seemed to fall right around Christmas) with recording.

So it is over, but band life has started a-new!

Now, to recap my New Years celebration:

I opted for a small gathering because I just couldn't deal with the pain of planning a huge menu, spending lots of money and inviting people that probably already had other plans. So I kept it to close friends, a couple of which couldn't make it, of course. But it didn't stop me from having a good time.

We ate yummy snacks, a hearty dinner, a sweet dessert while all the while Kate and Mike mixed up some drinky drinks. I don't know if I should say fortunately or UNfortunately when I say I didn't even get drunk. I had plans to because I rarely ever drink and I thought this would be a great yearly opportunity, but I was too darn tired! But the food and the company made everything worth while.

Again, I made my pizza recipe from Vegan Italiano and it came out divine. Of course, I didn't think to squeeze the tomatoes until my cousin told me to after the fact, so the middle was a little soggy again in some parts, but I AM making progress because most of the pizza was sturdy and able to be held just fine without dribbling onto the dish.

newyearpizza

I really like to lay the goods on thick! I basted the dough with olive oil, spread on some organic, salt-free tom sauce, threw on some fresh tomatoes, zucchini, asparagus, onions, white mushrooms, vegan mozzarella (great stuff) fresh basil, oregano, pepper and a dash of salt.

closeupnewyearpizza

The mozzarella didn't completely melt as the package promised it would at 500, so I am going to broil it next time. I figure if that doesn't work, nothing will.

Everyone thought the crust was the best part (I agree, it did bake very well). My cousin said it was the best pizza she's ever had. I think that's a little crazy to say, but she wouldn't lie about such things. She is very honest (she dissed a pie crust of mine once before) so I know she meant it. Then again, she was pretty tipsy at the time! It was very good, though, and I look forward to trying new toppings. All suggestions are welcome!

For dessert, cupcakes! And I finally got to use my much anticipated cupcake tower.

PeppermintTower1

I can't think of any item on earth less ridiculous, but I LOVE it! I think it works for weddings, formal parties and birthdays if you don't want to make a cake. Other than that, it's pretty much unnecessary. But you know what? I don't care! I love it!

pepperminttower2

It really makes your cupcakes look more professional, even tastier, as it is quite the regal display. If you happen to have some extra cash burning a hole in your pocket, I recommend getting one of these and throwing a party just so you can use it.

pepperminttower3

I made the yummy chocolate cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World again, this time adding 1/2 tsp of peppermint extract. For some reason, New Years makes me think of mint. Maybe the confetti looks glitzy, which in turn looks sparkley, which in turn makes me think of mint. I don't know. But I made some butter cream frosting from the book as well and using my tips, piped a bunch out on top. I discovered that homemade frosting is very smoothe and needs to put in the fridge before throwing it in a pastry bag. Otherwise (like part of Kate and Robyn's wedding cake) the shapes will not be shapes at all, but liquidy blobs. So throwing the frosting in the fridge for ten minutes hardens it just enough to get the shapes from your tips.

peppermintchococupcake

To finish it off, I used some India Tree blue sugar crystals for sprinkling. The color blue also reminds me of New Years. I'm not sure where that association comes from.

indiatree-cds I was so pleased to find that these bottles are a lot cheaper and come in much bigger containers than their dye. 4 bucks for a decent sized bottle. Not bad!

Everyone crashed at my house and I was very happy about that because Kate and Robyn brought breakfast! They made jelly donut muffins- which I've been meaning to try forever- using a scrumptious blueberry filling.

jellydonutcups

Look at it oozing! :)

oozeyjam

I saved the best for last:

Octopus coffee cake!

octo1

No, there's no squid in it, silly! But it IS shaped like an octopus. How awesome is that!? I love these girls. They never cease to please and amuse.

I took it at different angles because I couldn't believe how awesome it looked. I've got to get me a cake pan like this!

octo3

(Look at the eyes!)
octo4

octo2

The taste was just as awesome as the visual. It was a brown-sugary coffee cake. Not usually liking coffee cake, I actually enjoyed this one immensely. It had walnuts in it (as you can see in the eyes) and walnuts happen to be my favourite nut. A cup of chocolate soy milk went splendidly with it.

So I know I promised a couple of you that I would post my hot cocoa recipe, but I foolishly left the recipe at home. I remember most of it, but I don't want to screw things up. So I'll write myself a note to get it online for ya, next entry.

Now, I have a question for all of you. To your best knowledge, do raw mushrooms spread toxins in your stomach and eat away your stomach acid? I wouldn't think so because I never get stomach aches when I eat them, but a certain someone told me this and I'm having a hard time believing it. Or wanting to believe it, really. :-/

Anyway, I hope all of you had a very Happy New Year and may you be blessed with success, prosperity, good health and most importantly- happiness!

22 comments:

Vegan_Noodle said...

Looks like you had a fun New Years celebration. Who could go wrong though with that pizza?!? I love all of those veggies on my pizza, and usually add artichoke hearts and plenty of sun-dried tomatoes.

The only thing sillier than that cupcake tower is my mini-cupcake tower! But I love it too, even though it's a bit ridiculous. It does seem to make cupcakes prettier :-) (although I think those would have been lovely on their own)

And I have never heard that about mushrooms, and have never felt sick after eating them raw....

Definitely a big sigh (of relief and some sadness) that the holiday season is officially over...

bazu said...

Happy new year to you, too! I totally hear you- it's good to get back into a nice, comforting, and healthy routine of food, exercise, work, and quiet!

Your cupcake tower is, indeed, stunning. I've always wanted one but I don't know where I'd store it! I can see what you mean about the blue sugar signifying new year- it's sparkly like the times square ball, like crystals, diamonds, champagne, rhinestones... the glitz of new year's eve!

vko said...

Happy New Year!

The pizza looks delicious & those cupcakes- that chocolate & jelly ones are making me drool. Looks like a lovely holiday!

As for your mushroom question, I have never heard that, but then again, that doesn't mean anything...

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

Ack! I DON’T have extra cash burning a hole in my pocket, but I still want one of those cool cupcake towers! What a great excuse to throw a party haha :o)

Kate and Robyn, I know you don’t know me, but you are welcome at my house any morning!!!

And Ashasarala, you are too super-sweet (and quite gorgeous yourself)!

No idea about the mushrooms... I don't really eat raw mushrooms, but my grandma, who is 86, does all the time, and it doesn't seem to have hurt her.

Happy 2008!

VeggieGirl said...

Happy belated new year!! Ahh, I too am a bit relieved that the holidays are over - it's such a wonderful time of year, but equally as stressful as well. Hopefully you can get a TRUE break soon!!

oooh, your pizza IS indeed divine; as are the jelly-donut cupcakes (mmm, blueberry!), VCTOTW cupcakes (love the tower!!), and the octopus-shaped coffee-cake (too cute)!! yum!!

about the mushrooms - I found some information on the subject, here: http://www.food-info.net/uk/qa/qa-saf86.htm

aTxVegn said...

Happy New Year! Sounds like your little party was lots of fun. Your pizza and cupcakes in the tower are beee-autiful! And the breakfast treats your friends made look fantastic too.

Seems like people eat raw mushrooms in salads and such all the time. I've never heard not to eat them raw.

bittersweetblog said...

Oh I know what you mean about the holidays getting in the way of things, even if they are wonderful fun. All of the food, family, merriment- It gets overwhelming after a while anyways!

Love the cupcake stand, and I've gotta admit, I just bought two of the minis to hold some samples I'm planning to bring to a book signing. Hope mine look as awesome as yours!

Theresa said...

Asparagus on pizza, what a genius idea! And if your honest friend drunkenly told you it was great pizza, I would believe her. People tend to get more honest as they get drunk, which is why 'the experts' suggest not getting too drunk at an office xmas party.

Mint is a NYE flavour to me, too, I made chocolate candycake cookies for the last day of 2007.

I'm intrigued by the jelly donut muffins... note to self: do some scouting for recipes....

And as for the mushroom thing: pffft. I've been eating raw mushrooms for, like 20 years. My stomach is fine.

Kang Doy's Bloggy Blog Blog Blog said...

I was SOO full that night that I could barley drink anymore, but I stil got a little buzzed!

As for the pizza, I honestly don't know what vegan mozzarella is and I don't know what it taste like. Maybe when you make pizza for me again, you can put some of it in there.

It was so cute how you displayed the cupcakes in the living room. It was such a pleasant suprise when we all walked in there. You did a good job keeping us away from there lol!

Such a kick ass time! We have to do it again! :-)

Rural Vegan said...

I absolutely must have that octopus cake pan! It's the best thing ever!

vegetalion said...

octupus coffee cake!? that's so hardcore.

I've never heard that about mushrooms. I certainly hope it's not true, because I munch on them raw sometimes. Maybe's that's a certain kind of mushroom?

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

LOL people are always surprised to know that it gets cold in Dallas... I was shocked when I first moved here too because I thought Texas = desert. Some days this fall, it was actually COLDER in Texas than it was in Boston (my sister goes to school there, so we're always comparing the weather).

Ruby Red Vegan said...

I'm a nutrition major and would like to think i know a lot about how food interacts with the body. I'd never heard of this about mushrooms before - so I looked it up on the ADA website and read that while mushrooms in general contain natural toxins (all foods can, which is why variety in the diet is important), they provide cancer-fighting phytonutrients. Eatright.org also said this: "For best flavor, refrigerate them in paper bags or covered with paper towels; enjoy them at their peak freshness." and that mushrooms CAN be eaten raw. So tell your buddy there's no scientific evidence to prove that mushroom rumor!

That coffee cake is GREAT! I'm so jealous that you got to eat it, but thanks for the awesome pic of it!

You should have a brunch party or a sleepover and in the morning serve muffins in the cupcake tower. That thing is awesome.

Good to know about the good pizza dough recipe in Vegan Italiano, since I just got that book... but I'm still scared to make a homemade pizza (the dough is intimidating part).

jess (of Get Sconed!) said...

so much awesomeness!! my goodness.
especially the cupcakes. and the pizza.

oh yes, in case you haven't, try sprinkling a little water or spraying oil on the pizza before broiling. sometimes soy cheez just.never.melts, but that's helped me before.

in regards to the shrooms, I have heard something similar, but don't know if it's true. I've had raw portabellas in meals before, and been okay...

and as for boston, next time! I'd love to meet up. Just give me a year : )

Elly Blue said...

Fun times! Thanks for the great pizza and cupcakes!

Also:

Here's a link about eating raw mushrooms: http://www.fungi-zette.com/mush12.htm#raw

I heard this from Dave Wichland of Wichland Woods-- he's a mushroom cultivator in Keene, NH. Totally rad guy. He said that mushrooms should never be eaten raw because they have enzymes that can digest the lining of your stomach and lead to gastric problems. He also said that button and portobello (same thing) mushrooms deposit toxins in your liver-- the most you should have is two a year.

But mushrooms have TONS of amazing culinary and medicinal properties. And if you're interested, Google "mycoremediation". They're amazing.

The single most important and fascinating book on mushrooms is Paul Stamets' (http://www.fungi.com) Mycellium Running: How Mushrooms can save the world. Definitely worth a read... you can borrow mine if you want :)

-Kate

Ricki said...

Great blog! And all your festive desserts also look yummy.

As to the "mushroom question," I did learn about this in (holistic) nutrition school.

I'm guessing your friend is referring to mycotoxins, forms of toxins that are related to fungus/mold and can be very unhealthy (and cause all kinds of yucky symptoms). For anyone with a mold/candida problem, mushrooms should be totally out of the question (since they are, actually, fungus themselves). But normal, grocery-store variety mushrooms are cultivated and standards are pretty high in North America.

If you don't already have a problem with molds, candida, or other digestive issues, I don't see why they should be a problem.

Finally, you might want to start by reading this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mycotoxin .

Sorry to be the harbinger of bad news. . . !!

Mike said...

All of that stuff was awesome!!!

Good pizza is the thing I miss the most about being vegan, but if I could have Suzie's pizza every once in a while, I wouldn't miss it at all. That crust was the best. It's most underated part of a good pizza.

-:>D

Liz² said...

your pizza looks like a queen of pizzas (I want that crust recipe!!), and the octopus! and the tower! rock, rock rock! you're so right about the tower being a perfect excuse for a party, too (a minty blue new year's even). frivolity of the most useful kind. ;)

and I've never heard anything about raw mushrooms being unhealthy - I certainly hope not, cause I've gone through pints of them raw before (no adverse effects!)

Rage And Love said...

My mum was "ooo"-ing and "ahhh"-ing about all your food, but especially the pizza. Hehe.

You cupcakes look stellar! My God! Teach me how to do perfect frosting swirling...I have much trouble with that!

Your octopus coffee cake can't get any better than that! :-)

And about the mushrooms...My answer is no. I love to eat raw mushrooms all the time and my belly is fine (although it protrudes a bit much). Don't worry about it, if the mushrooms want to do that, trust me, there would have already been a crucial war in most everyone's stomachs.

Sophie said...

My mouth is watering now after seeing so many yummy dishes!!!!!!
Will come back when my stomach is full and try to find out more about the recipes.

Romina said...

I'm still waiting for my Veganomicon, and all these pictures are making me even more anxious! Great work. :-)

Jennifer R. said...

yum those blueberry filled cupcakes rock....!

Jen Ramos
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