Saturday, September 09, 2017

Cooking for People I Love

One of my favorite things to do is cook food for people I care about. It's such a good feeling to spend that time in the kitchen thinking about the person and putting all that love into the food... and thinking of them enjoying their food and being nourished by it.

delicious cake for a special friend.

Last week, one of my very best besties moved all the way across the country to New York City. The good news is that now I'll have a good reason to go to NYC more often, but the bad news is that I already miss her so much. You should have seen us saying goodbye at the farmers market, standing among the fruits and veggies sobbing and hugging each other forever. You may not know her by name, but her culinary creations and collaborations have been featured on my blog countless times.

*** a super special friend ***
   

She and her partner had a really lovely goodbye party at their house - where friends could just drop by all afternoon and evening... So, I knew that it was friendly duty to make them a super special Goodbye Cake. After much deliberation, I decided to make a Neopolitan Cake! I made 3 layers: chocolate, vanilla, & strawberry. For the cakes, I used the recipes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World. I made 1 1/2 batches for shallow layers in my 9x13 pan, which worked perfectly.

For the vanilla layer, I added the scrapings of a vanilla bean -- for extra vanilla power! For the chocolate cake, I used extra cocoa powder and chocolate extract. The strawberry cake took a little more creativity. I used the vanilla cake recipe as the base but instead of using non-dairy milk for the liquid in the batter, I pureed a bowl of fresh strawberries and used that instead. I also bought a bag of freeze-dried strawberries and used my Vitamix to obliterate them into powder. I mixed that into the dry ingredients. I was really happy with how it turned out -- super moist and strawberry-ish. If I were to make it again, I might even splurge and add one more bag of those freeze-dried berries!

Maybe you can see that it had a "little issue" with the strawberry cake ... I forgot to use parchment paper and it stuck to the pan. Novice move! I obviously figured it out for the next two layers. Ha ha. Luckily, I was able patch it up and move right along!

you can't go wrong with Neopolitan! 


I used frosting recipes from VCTOTW. The chocolate frosting recipe in that book deserves special mention. Man it's good! For the strawberry frosting I used strawberry puree for the liquid... and I used a whole layer of sliced fresh berries on top. I'm not actually a huge frosting fan, but I know that my beloved pal is definitely a frosting fan -- so I went big and slathered that biz on! ha ha.

Here's an inside shot. Just looking at it makes me wish I was eating that cake again!


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cooking with love in my heart! 


I've also cooked a lot of meals for people lately -- and I didn't always get pictures of it. Unfortunately, right now I know several wonderful people who are receiving treatment for cancer. What a tough time in their lives. It can feel overwhelming to hear news like this, and not know what to say or how to help... but cooking a nutritious and love-filled meal for someone is a little something that's a lot better than doing nothing.


Here's a meal I double-cooked for two families in the same week: Potato Kale Enchiladas from Veganomicon (with pepitas and extra enchilada sauce on the side), Mexicali Chop Salad from The Real Food Daily Cookbook (with dressing on the side), and Snickerdoodles from Oh She Glows blog.

Whenever I cook for someone who's sick or just had a baby or just struggling, I try to make lots of food -- one dish that is hearty and toasty and also easily frozen, one dish that is lighter and more fresh, and always a sweet treat too. I've heard from people on the receiving end that the constant casseroles and soups get kinda old, so in addition to asking about allergies and food preferences/aversions, it's also always good to ask and see if someone has any special requests. That's also why I think it's nice to include a special salad, since it's so fresh. As for sweeties, sugar isn't really very good for the immune system -- but it is good for the soul and the heart. So I like to make some cookies or a treat that's not too sugar-laden, but still baked with lots of love.

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happy yogis!

Speaking of baking with love, I taught a special yoga workshop last month and whenever I teach a workshop, I also bring some homemade baked goodies. It's partly spreading the gospel of veganism through the power of delicious treats, and it's partly just my deep personal belief in the joy of treats.

I know that people come to yoga to feel healthy, so when I cook treats for my yoga students, I look for recipes that are on the healthier side of things. I also prefer to make recipes that are vegan and gluten-free, so that no one is left out. For a chocolatey treat I made the Chocolate Almond Espresso Cookies from the Oh She Glows Everyday cookbook. These were a total hit and easy to throw together!


amazing nectarine bars

For something on the fruity side, I made a batch of these UH-mazing Nectarine Crisp Bars. I texted with my trusty friend Kittee for some ideas about what to make and this recipe was her suggestion. Thanks Kittee!! (ps. Kittee & Julie have a new gluten-free and vegan business that is awesome Julie & Kittee -- check it out!) I used the recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp Bars from Smitten Kitchen... and then I made the following changes:


I used a few nectarines instead of the rhubarb and strawberries
I used 1/2 coconut oil and 1/2 Miyoko's Vegan Butter (from Trader Joe's) instead of butter
I used Bob's Red Mill 1:1 gluten free flour blend instead of regular flour 
                          (obviously, if gluten isn't an issue for you, then don't worry about it!)
I used coconut sugar for any sugar called for in the recipe

Both treats were super delicious and are highly recommended. It's such a nice feeling to send all my students off with treats in their hands and smiles on their faces! 

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Have you cooked for anyone special lately? Or maybe someone has cooked for you? Do you have any favorite dishes that you make for other people? I'm always up for some inspiration, and I think I have more cooking in my future!



8 comments:

  1. Oh Amey, I really love your blog. It is such a treat to open the page and see a new post! Thank you for bringing your cooking, adventures, and wonderful illustrations to all of us.

    I get a kick out of seeing those Smitten Kitchen fruit bars here - it's a great little recipe, and I love how it can be made with different fruits as the seasons go by. I've never tried it with nectarines, so I might have to put that on my to-bake list!

    I love cooking for others, too. For a special party, my favorite dessert is the Strawberry-Kiwi Creme Tart from Vegan Pie in the Sky. It's labor-intensive, but it is a true "WOW!" to look at and very tasty, too. It's one of those recipes that says, "I care so much about all of you that I want to make something extra-fancy." And because it's labor-intensive, I only make it once or twice a year - so it is very special.

    Other favorites to share are harira (from Isa Does It) and spanokopita (from Vegan Eats World). The harira has been a mega-hit with every non-vegan I've served it to, and the recipe makes a lot (and it's easy, so even better).

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  2. You've always made such great cakes. I remember the anniversary cake you made for your parents. You are a dear friend!

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  3. This looks so delicious! Two girlfriends from university just had a little baby boy and I was wondering if I should make them a treat and go and visit. They both love cake so your nectarine crisp bars sounds pretty great, but I had thought about something that freezes well. My go-to cake are the banana muffins from The Joy of Vegan Baking, but I also considered making some chocolate balls of rolled oats, soft dates, peanut butter and cocoa. It's so easy, and maybe a bit more healthy (packed with nutrition for sure).

    Speaking of truffles and Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World. There's a chocolate tofu mousse frosting (maybe the one you used) that I use for truffles and it is a hit among everyone I know, I often get asked to bring them (and now I'm just going to give you the recipe, assuming that you want it... ).What I do is I add a little liquor to the mix (such as Cointreau or rum or whiskey) and then when it's mixed I let it stand in the fridge over night. The next day it is completely stiff and can be rolled into little truffles. I roll them in cocoa powder mixed with sea salt flakes (has to be flakes as it otherwise gets too salty), powdered instant coffee or sometimes liquorice powder. It's SO delicious! At my recent graduation party I served them with warm rhubarb crumble, vanilla ice, coffee and port wine. A crowd pleaser!

    Sorry for just putting that recipe out there, but I really recommend you'd try it!

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  4. Thanks for the shout out Amey!!!! I made the bars with cherries over the weekend!

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  5. I loved reading this post and the cake you made for your pal looks so delicious and perfect. I'm sorry that some of your peeps are battling cancer at the moment. If I was having a tough time I would love to be on the receiving end of your thoughtful foodie gifts. That salad looks so fresh and colourful and the cookies are the perfect treat.

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  6. That cake is a thing of beauty, especially given the lovely story behind it.
    You are so thoughtful,.

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  7. I wish I was your friend when I had a baby! My mother in law was the only one who cooked for us... but we also had a baby during Christmas so like everyone was busy lol Maybe I'll move near you, stalk you down, and become BFFs in prep for baby number 2. lol

    You hit it all on the nail with types of food to give! I loved things I could eat with my hands when I was pregnant. I often ate while nursing because I was so exhausted I felt nauseous when I ate too much. I joked that all the crumbs on my baby were just mommy glitter. XD

    You are such a thoughtful person. Your friends and family are truly lucky.

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  8. j'adore <3 <3 <3 miss you x one million!

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