Monday, January 20, 2020

December Round-Up! Vegan Wedding, Holidays, Cookies!

Hello Beloved Blog Readers! Last month was quite a time... so much happened, joys and sorrows... and also lots of delicious vegan food. I kept thinking "I should blog about this!" - but then I would either be too busy or too tired. So, in keeping with the eternal school of "better late than never," I present you with a proper account of many delicious events from last month!

A Vegan Wedding! 

December started with lots of joyful hustle and bustle as one of my very favorite besties got married! It was a perfect wedding - filled with love and joy. And also nothing but amazing vegan food. For appetizers they had great bread from a local bakery, gluten-free crackers, and a big vegan cheese plate (top left). The dinner was absolutely great - something I would love to eat every night if I could! - green salad with special goodies, seared broccolini, PERFECT roasted baby potatoes, a white bean dish, ratatouille, and more delicious bread (lower left). It was so fun to be at a wedding and to have a full plate full of delicious and nourishing food! We all know, that doesn't happen often. 

One of my friend's and my favorite things to do together is go to the farmers market, so for their wedding gift I painted them a big serving platter with some of their very favorite produce goodies, along with real samples of their favorites. Her faves are parsnips and delicata squash. His are artichokes and pomegrantes. It was a fun project!


OH YEAH. A vegan wedding with vegan desserts? I am here for that! The groom's sister made a VERY delicious chocolate cake with cherry compote. Oh man it was good. And my friend herself also made many batches of two different excellent gluten-free cookies. Of course I had cookies AND cake because I am no dummy. 

Our Beloved Dottie Bonkers

The hardest part of December, without a doubt, was the sudden and totally unexpected loss of our sweet and wild Dottie Bonkers. She died the same day as the wedding, which definitely made for quite an emotionally intense weekend. Dottie was a truly vivacious spirit - so full of inquiry and curiosity and relentless levels of energy. She was ALWAYS up for just about anything. If you were gonna get up and walk into the other room, she was right there with you. If you called her name, her head would swivel around at a hundred miles an hour - with her giant ears radio-dialed for total attention. She didn't ever want to miss ANYTHING. She kept a vigilant eye on everyone's activity and especially loved to police all feline antics. Whenever we would get out Footie's toys to start playing kitty games, Dottie would jump up and run to Footie's play zone, and start whimpering with overwhelming enthusiasm and excitement. She was slightly aloof, and didn't love snuggles, but was also wildly jealous if you tried to snuggle anyone else. Most of all, she loved attention - she could learn any trick in 15 minutes and loved to learn and do tricks and play, and make eye contact and know that she was doing just what she was supposed to do. That said, the second you turned away, she was also very skilled at being naughty - and was especially good at taking entire loaves of bread off the counter top. She had a docked tail that we called "Stumpy" and she could wiggle that little stump like nothing else - she was exuberant and goofy and earnest. Our house is so different, and so quiet without her and our hearts have been heavy. 

cooking up xmas gifts

I kinda threw myself into xmas this year - I always like the holiday season but this year I think it was an especially welcome distraction from grieving for Dottie. I try to focus on giving homemade gifts and this year I made lots of things:
Dried Persimmons
 Prune and Armagnac Truffles
Lime Marmalade
Biscotti for my dad
and 3 kinds of Homemade Hot Sauces for my brother! 

It definitely kept me busy in the kitchen, and it felt so good to settle into the quiet joys of culinary projects. Especially with my sad heart, it was so nice to follow the instructions, slice the persimmons, roll the truffles... tangible tasks with a beginning and an end. 

Also, my mom gave me those very sweet little utensils in the top left - they were my dad's baby spoon and baby fork!! Isn't that extremely special? They even have his little monogram on them. My dad was raised in a middle class home, but apparently he did have a silver spoon! 


You all already know that I love cookies. Every year I pick one week of December and I made cookies for each of my yoga classes. I made a different kind of cookie for each day of the week, so that if people came multiple times, they could have some variety! And I also bring gluten-free options so that no one needs to leave without a cookie. 

I also made a big batch of my favorite gingerbread cookies for some special friend dates. I always use the "Lower Fat Gingerbread Men" from the Joy of Cooking. It's SUCH a delicious recipe and really easy to veganize. 

Friend Date!

My long-time BFF and I have a history of doing fun holiday crafts and antics with her daughter and this year they were going to be travelling for the holidays. SO! I headed over (on a school night!) and we had a great night of xmas crafting, a delicious vegan dinner (my pal made the Tofu, Beans and Rice from Power Plates by Gena Hamshaw - it was a delicious and hearty dinner!), and then after dinner we decorated cookies together. It was such a sweet night with people I love. 

Xmas Dinner! 

This year our family decided to do Italian Christmas again... in our own little way. My mom made some beautiful and delicious antipasti platters - full of marinated and roasted veggies. She also made a big bowl of her signature hummus. ha ha. I know it is definitely not Italian, but I guess we are Californians who are addicted to hummus and we were all on board with hummus. Ha ha ha. My mom also made a huge green salad, and you may not know this, but my mom makes THE BEST SALAD. I love her salad so much. I ate a lot of it!! 

My sister in law made a non-vegan lasagna, and I made two vegan lasagnas! The littler one is salt-free and oil-free, for my aunt and her partner. We had a fun afternoon, because my aunt came over and helped me in the kitchen we made the lasagnas together, which felt special and festive. 

This year's holiday was extra special because we had several beloved family members in town who haven't been here for the holidays for many years. It felt so good and sweet to all be together. Back in the day, when my grandparents were still alive, we used to have big holiday dinners almost every year, and this year felt like that and I appreciated it a lot. 

Christmas cookies!

For Italian Christmas, I made cuccidati, for only the second time ever. Holy MAJOLEY these cookies are SO amazing. I use a recipe that my Italian friend Sara sent me, and the recipe call for baking ammonia. Have you ever baked with ammonia? It certainly smells terrible in the batter, but when you cook them, the ammonia evaporates and leaves a very light and flaky crust. I use two different fillings - one has chocolate and the other doesn't - but both are variations of dried fruits and dates and nuts and warming spices all blended together, and these cookies are MAGIC. I need to tidy up my recipe and put it all into English and put it up on the blog - for myself and for all of you! 

For Christmas Day dinner, my sister in law asked if I would make some chocolate chip cookies. Why, yes, I'd be happy to! Her mom was in town for the holidays and her mom happens to love my vegan chocolate chip cookies. What an honor! I use Somer's recipe  which is sheer perfection. 

Lisa's Birthday! 

My cousin Lisa, and her husband, and their little boy were here for the holidays this year, which was REALLY great... and - bonus! - Lisa's birthday is just a few days after xmas, so we also got to celebrate her birthday together for the first time in eons. Lisa and I consulted about all sorts of cake flavor options... and finally she settled on a Lemon Cake. I love lemon cake too, so I was excited. 

The day before, I made a lemon cake and I could tell it just hadn't worked. The layers were dense and heavy and hadn't risen at all. I actually just threw it away. Damn! SO, I busted out a SECOND lemon cake - this time I used a recipe for a bundt cake - but when it came out, it started to sink and collapse a little. It looked okay, but not good enough for a special birthday cake. * SO I MADE A THIRD CAKE. ha ha ha. It's funny now, but I was actually pretty annoyed. I was busting out before rushing off to teach yoga and even had to rely on Mr. VE&T to take the cakes out of the oven at the right time (he did!) Thank goodness I tried again, because this third attempt was absolutely amazing. I used "The Best Lemon Cake" from Lovin it Vegan, and it was absolutely fantastic and now I officially have a preferred lemon cake recipe. 100% I recommend. Will make again!! 

* Happy news on cake #2, I was able to give it to a vegan friend who shared it with her class, where it was appreciated and didn't go to waste. Phew! 


Our remaining fur crew are doing pretty well. Stevie and Dottie never got along... so funny enough, Stevie has been enjoying her absence. She's soaking up the extra attention we've been giving her. She's so old now, and she has cancer, so she appreciates the new sense of quiet and calm. 

Snoopy really misses his friend Dottie... she was his fearless leader and he was her loyal follower. Since she died, he's been extra clingy and cuddly and a little weird. He needs so much snuggling and reassuring.

Footie is more on Stevie's team. He doesn't seem to miss Dottie at all. He's free to tear around the house at top speed, attack his peacock feathers with abandon, and jump up on the counter (illegal!) without Dottie narcing him out. ha ha Footie is just such a snuggle bug and I'm so grateful for his relatively youthful vigor in this house full of senior citizens!


  1. What a roller coaster of emotions you had in December. I'm so, so sorry about Dottie.

    Your plate is beautiful!

  2. Anonymous9:55 AM

    I always love your posts. Everything looks beautiful! I'm very sorry about Dottie- I'm glad you were able to carry on and enjoy the happy parts of the month.Thanks for sharing all of it!

  3. Amey, I'm so sorry about Dottie. She sounds like such a special soul.

  4. what a thoughtful and gorgeous wedding present! and such a nice update on your December. I was so sorry to hear about Dottie. I'm glad the rest of your holiday season was filled with family, friends and love.

  5. Celebrating love, mourning loss, cherishing family time... your December was a little snippet of what life's all about! Thank you for sharing it with us. <3 (And by the way, that platter is so beautiful! What a special gift!)

  6. I'm so sorry to hear about Dottie; those are such beautiful pictures of her! It sounds like the rest of your December was happy and busy, filled with such lovely people and food!

  7. I was so sorry to hear about sweet Dottie, she was such a joy to see on your blog and your IG. <3 quite the rollercoaster of emotions for the end of the year. All the food looks wonderful, how delightful to be so well catered for at a wedding!


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