Friday, September 22, 2017

Bold Flavored Vegan Cooking // Cookbook Review & Giveaway

Spoiler alert: this is a glowing review! 

When I first went vegan, there weren't very many vegan cookbooks. I only had one, and it was kinda funky. Instead, I used vegetarian cookbooks and just left out the cheese, or tried to convert the recipes myself... with very mixed results. So I still get a little thrill every time a new vegan cookbook is published. I just kinda can't believe it! 

Now that I've been doing this vegan thing for 17+ years, though, I'm also pretty experienced in the kitchen. I often meet people who are interested in becoming vegan, or who've only just started eating vegan, and now there are so many great cookbooks for people like that -- which is so wonderful. But, as for me, I love when a vegan cookbook isn't afraid to cater to experienced home cooks... and if you're in the same boat, I think you will love this new cookbook: Bold Flavored Vegan Cooking, by Celine Steen of the beautiful blog Have Cake Will Travel. 

I've already made 7 things from this book, and we loved all of them. The recipes truly live up to the title - strong, impressive and memorable flavors. Nothing meek or forgettable here! The recipes also don't shy away from specialty ingredients (harissa, gochujang, dried shiitake powder, various special spices)-- but the book also offers recipes for many of them, in case you don't have access at your local market. Personally, I find this all very exciting! Veganism is already a bit of a limitation, and it's such a thrill to explore new flavors and cuisines and feel my vegan horizons expanding.

Not a book for people who are scared of specialty ingredients. 
Definitely a book for people who don't need another recipe for oatmeal or avocado toast!

Teriyaki Tempeh Tacos

The first recipe I made was these delicious Teriyaki Tempeh Tacos. My homemade tortillas were a bit funky and rustic, but make no mistake -- these tacos were just wonderful! Even though there were several components, they came together pretty quickly. First is a gently seasoned batch of rice. Next up is a batch of tempeh, sauteed with homemade Teriyaki Sauce. And then lots of veggies cooked lightly, but still crispy -- including highly desirable water chestnuts and snow peas. Ha ha. Mr. VE&T *loves* water chestnuts and snow peas, neither of which I cook with all that often. So he was very happy! Then the tacos were garnished with Kimchi, sriracha sauce, and a few other goodies. So many flavors! 

Smoky Kale and Chickpeas with Miso Peanut Drizzle

Hello, Miso Peanut Drizzle, nice to meet you!! This Smoky Kale and Chickpeas with Miso Peanut Drizzle is a super quick and nutritious meal to put together, with very satisfying flavors and textures -- so much more than you would expect from something so easy to prepare. Instead of the roasted sweet potato suggested by the recipe, I used my final butternut squash from last winter's garden! The Miso Peanut Sauce really is special, and calls for red miso, for extra umami oomph!

umami oomph!!!

Gochujang Kimchi Sausages

I love homemade seitan, but I guess I am kinda lazy, because I really don't make it very often. And yet, when I saw a recipe for Gochujang Kimchi Sausages -- seitan sausages with pureed kimchi in the batter?! Yes, please. These are spicy little sneakers, but not it's too much. They're just bursting with flavor - the ingredients list reads like a Who's Who of umami highrollers. So much great stuff packed in!

Gochujang Kimchi Bowl

I used some of my magical seitan sausages in this lovely Gochujang Kimchi Bowl. Once you've made the sausages, this is a super speedy recipe -- veggies, a hearty dose of kimchi, and some flavor-punch garnishes. I made a big batch and had it for lunches for several days. Just looking at it is making me want to eat it all over again!!

Soy Pomegranate- Glazed Baby Eggplants with Dukkah

Mr. VE&T is a card-carrying member of the eggplant fan club... so I am always looking for tasty eggplant recipes to make for him. This recipe for Soy Pomegranate- Glazed Baby Eggplants with Dukkah is a bit more like an appetizer... so I made a size of tofu cubes to go with it. Because we are two people who love to eat, I bought several extra mini-eggplants. Even if you just make a regular batch, I recommend making a bit extra of the marinade. It's really tasty and it adds all the flavor to the dish. What a great dinner. 

I also really liked this dukkah mix. Dukkah is just so good and so easy. Why isn't it more of a household ingredient? Why did it take me so long to know about dukkah? Who was keeping the precious secret from the world? I used the leftover mix on my morning avocado toast and sprinkled on hummus for lunch.

Fresh Corn Tacos with Salsita Verde

Alas, as I am writing this post, it's just after midnight... and is officially the first day of autumn. I actually really love Autumn, but looking at this picture is making me wish I could just have a little more time with summer. These Fresh Corn Tacos with Salsita Verde were absolutely amazing. Pretty much brought down the house. The corn, onion, and bell pepper are perfectly seasoned - spunky but not overpowering. And the fresh tomatillo salsa takes seconds to prepare and is totally dynamite! They're served with slices of avocado, roasted pepitas, and cilantro... SO PERFECT. I have some corn that I froze in the peak of corn season, so I think I will have to make these again pronto.

fiesty flavors!

Miso Sweet Cookies

Last, but not least, the desserts chapter in this book deserves special mention. SO many enticing recipes to explore! Of course, I am a cookie monster, and when I saw a recipe for Miso Sweet Cookies (cookies with miso!?), I got straight to work. I actually made a double batch - I gave half to a special friend of mine who had a long flight ahead of her, and I brought the rest to class for my yoga students. I like to bake them treats from time to time.

These cookies are so special and unique. The recipe calls for a whole 1/4 cup miso - but the saltiness isn't overwhelming at all -- just fantastic. In addition to the miso, the cookies have oats, dark sugars (Sucanat and Turbinado), nuts of choice (I used sliced almonds)... and the super magic ingredients: fresh orange juice and orange zest. What a combo!!

flavors that pack a punch!!
*this doodle was Mr. VE&T's idea!*

Bold Flavored Vegan Cooking also has an amazing and inspiring "Staples" chapter -- full of exciting spice mixes, toppings, sauces, pickles, and condiments that you can make yourself and open up a whole new world of flavors in your home cooking!!

The cookbook is very beautiful, with gorgeous color pictures, and a layout that is very enticing and easy to read. The recipes are labeled "gluten-free" "in a hurry" "soy-free", and so on... so you can get a sense of which recipes suit your needs for any particular meal.

Here are just a few of the many recipes I'd still like to make, just to give you a sense of some of the great range of flavors and ideas in this innovative book! 

Red Curry vegetables
Harissa Sprouts and Chickpeas
Indonesian Inspired Rice Pancakes
Summer Plate with Pickled Pepper Cream
Grilled Pineapple with Tahini Lime Nuts
Orange Creamsicle Tartlets with Ginger Pears

*** GIVEAWAY! ***

If you are a fan of flavor, I've got great news! The publishers of this fine book, Page Street Publishing, are allowing me to offer a giveaway! To enter, please leave a comment on this post and tell me about one of your favorite big flavors, or secret power ingredients, or really, just say anything. And be sure to leave your email address or another way to contact you, or I will select a different winner! 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Jambu Jackie Vegan Shoes for Women

It's time for another Jambu footwear review! I've recently signed on as a Jambu brand ambassador - because I am such a fan of their sporty, comfortable, stylish vegan shoes for women.

 like a stylish stretchy super sock hugging your foot!

These are my new Jackie shoes... and I LOVE THEM. I swear, I can't stop wearing them... they have replaced my beloved flip flops! They're effortless to slip in and out of, but once they're on, they have a comfortably snug / secure fit. Can you see how cool they are? They feel like a super neat stretchy knit sock with a tennis shoe structure around it. So comfy and unique!

dusty, sweaty legs in the hot sun and feet in super comfy shoes! 

Aesthetically, I really like the pretty pattern on the knot part of the Jackie shoe and the overall look of the shoe - sporty but not garish. Functionally, I like that there is a drawstring and I can make them feel a bit more snug and secure. I also like that they are quite breathable, and are comfortably worn with socks or without socks. Even on a warm day, they don't feel stuffy and my feet don't feel overheated.

this is actually how I took these pictures,
standing on a little stone wall on the edge of a cliff! 
all that yoga's gotta be good for something! ha ha

In fact, I wore these shoes for our special anniversary outing recently! It was our five year anniversary and so we decided to do something special - we rented electric bikes to ride along the coast of Big Sur. This is such a stunning area, and the road is usually a bustling highway. However, the heavy rains last winter caused a huge landslide to the South and destroyed a major bridge to the north -- leaving a very serene stretch of road which in between. The hills are big and the landscape is rugged, so electric bikes were awesome!

in love with my new shoe buddies

The only downside - our anniversary turned out to be the hottest day over the year. It was 107 F!! Perfect for a totally-exposed bike ride in the middle of the day! My poor Mr. VE&T actually got heatstroke!  What an adventure. Nonetheless we had a totally great time, because it was just so special to see that wonderful place in a new way. And my shoes were perfect for a casually active day - a little hiking, biking, then poking around on our way back home. As you can see, I took lots of pictures of my new shoes with all the beauty of Big Sur in the background!

off to teach the yogaz!!

I also really like that these shoes look cute with pants, shorts, or yoga tights... makes them so versatile! I think these shoes are great for everyday activity, walking around, feeling snazzy and sporty, fun bike rides, and casual wear. They've become my new favorite for slipping on and dashing out the door to go teach or get to the farmers market.

my new shoes make me feel super sporty and festive! 

I selected steel gray, but Jackie shoes also come in navy and in black. I find these shoes to be perfectly true to size and comfortable for my somewhat wide feet. The stretchy knit means they have quite bit of leeway for narrow or wider feet.

If you'd like to get some Jackie shoes with me, or try any of Jambu's other vegan shoes for women, use the coupon code VEGAN17 for a 20% discount! Woot!

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!


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.


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! 


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!

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Fun and Friends and Food in Denmark! (Copenhagen, Aarhus)

the beautiful Danish flag! 

Part two of our 3-week trip to Europe was a very special visit to Denmark. In fact, our time in Denmark was the impetus for our whole trip: we went to see some very dear family friends, some of  whom we hadn't seen in years. It was really fantastic to see them all - and we just had so much fun together. How amazing. 

Way back when my parents were just out of college, they were living in San Diego and met a nice Danish couple. They had 3 kids, the youngest of whom, Cecilie, is just about my age. Over the years, this friendship has remained intact, and at various times, we've had opportunites to connect, sometimes in the US, sometimes in Europe.. but it had been a really long time. Until last summer! Last summer I bought a plane ticket with a 16-hour overnight layover in Copenhagen. This gave me a chance to connect with my pal Cecilie. Oh my goodness, we had so much fun together. And so a plan to return with my husband and parents in tow for a proper visit was hatched! How amazing it is that friendships can endure and that my parents' friends can have children my age who I also love so much! The affection and connection feels so lovely. 

Just look what we arrived to: it was our very first night in Denmark, and we were lovingly fetched at the airport and brought to our friend Birgitte's house for a beautiful and delicious family dinner. You can see the love and warmth in all our faces. Birgitte was so kind, and made sure that there would be plenty of good food for me to eat, and even bought ingredients for special vegan pancakes for dessert. They were so delicious! What a warm and lovely welcome. 

Sunny weekend breakfast in our friends' backyard

Mr. VE&T and I stayed with our friends Cecilie and Martin and their three excellent kiddos. My parents stayed in another family member's house closer to the city center. It was so fun to stay with our pals, and we especially loved the daily family breakfast routine. It was charmingly efficient on school days, and happily luxurious on the weekend. Just thinking of those sweet people waking up and having their breakfast every day makes me feel happy. 

One day during our stay, we had a weekend morning, and my parents were off with Birgitte, so we enjoyed a lazy and sunny breakfast in the backyard. We were so impressed with their coziness system: a warm fuzzy blanket on every chair! It was sunny, but it was still cool out, so it was nice to be able to bundle up as needed. We went out and got pastries and there was bread and green porridge, and juice, and my vegan yogurt, and lots of coffee! 


We went to Henrik and Elizabeth's house for a big family dinner together - and oh my goodness. Apparently those two love to cook, and so they took on this amazing project: vegan eggplant casserole (complete with homemade vegan cheese!), vegan spreads for appetizers, huge and glorious vegan green salads... and even a huge and decadent fruit platter. You guys. I am not sure anyone has ever cooked such a wonderful and elaborate vegan feast in my honor before, ever. I couldn't believe it! 

They had some (non-vegan) baked goodies for dessert, but as a gesture of goodwill, Henrik had also picked up some vegan licorice! Oh snap! I was just in heaven. So much fun to see these old friends and be welcomed with love (and food!). I was so beside myself with joy and absorbed in the ease of the evening that I completely forgot to take a picture of our wonderful hosts. The highest compliment? 

One rainy day, we all set out into downtown Copenhagen to have some fun and make the most of our time together - rain be damned! For lunch, we made our way over to Papiroen -- it's a super cool, huge former industrial space that has been converted into a hip food court situation. Inside there are ALL SORTS of vendors selling food from various global cuisines, coffee, beer, and lots of communal seating. We were there on a holiday, and it was *packed.* So we staked out a table for our big group of 9 people, and circled like vultures until we finally got some seats. 

I got myself a wonderful burger from the vegan stall called La Tienda. As you can see, it was huge! As you can only imagine, it was also delicious!! I was definitely stoked to find such a great vegan option. Places like this are so great when you have a big group with such diverse food interests/needs. Everyone found something they were happy with, we all ate well, and even with food from so many different vendors, we all got to eat together. 

*note* unfortunately, Papiroen will close down on December 31st, 2017... so it may not be there anymore if you are using this post to plan your own travels. I'm so glad I got to see it! 

eating wild sea kale

We took a side trip to Aarhus with my parents and Birgitte. I had been to Denmark a few times, but only ever to Copenhagen and that area. It was great to see a bit more of Denmark... especially with our lovely Danish friend to teach us more about what we were seeing. For example, here's something wonderful we never could have discovered without Birgitte: the joy and tasty delight of eating wild sea kale!!! 

What?! We took a ferry over to Aarhus, and we got the ferry stop well ahead of schedule... so we took a little detour down a tiny dirt road to see the shore. The short walk to the shore was beautiful: filled with flowers and dunes/meadows. The beach itself was rocky, with low, calm waves. And dotted along the shoreline were these beautiful green plants with white flowers. Birgitte told us that this was wild sea kale, and showed us that you could eat it! It was so delicious!! It was like kale that tasted like cooked broccoli - sweeter and more tender than most kale I know. And the flowers were actually *sweet* - absolutely lovely! We didn't want to take more than our fair share, but we picked a bunch and ate it with our meals throughout the week. I wish wild sea kale grew on the beaches here! 

the *amazing* Rainbow Walk, high up on the top floor of the ARoS Art Museum in Aarhus.
Seriously what a special experience. You get to walk in a loop through gradually shifting color planes, looking out with grand vistas across the city. It's really wonderful.

a quaint little rainy street in Aarhus
we had a lot of rain on our trip, but we were undeterred! 

AirBnB Breakfast!

We found a pretty good AirBnB in Aarhus, with a huge and beautiful big common room on the top floor. Plus, this super cute little area rug that I loved sitting on. In my quest to eat as much European vegan yogurt as possible, I stocked up on lots of high-quality Alpro vegan yogurt for my breakfasts, plus some muesli, soaked almonds (courtesy of Birgitte!), and Danish strawberries. Plus coffee. And bedhead. 

Vegan lunch for everyone!

In Aarhus, I lovingly dragged everyone to Mikuna for lunch. In exchange for dragging 4 non-vegans to a vegan lunch spot, I decided to treat everyone. What a super cute place this is, in a very fun and hip part of town. We all wished that we had a little more time to check out some of the shops and streets around Mikuna.

The options here were really appealing and we all loved our choices. Three of us ordered the burger, one person got the dahl, and one person got the chili -- 100% happiness rate! The food was fresh and delicious, filling and satisfying. Servings were generous and ample, but not absurd. They also have a great selection of fun drinks in their cooler, and a nice selection of take away desserts too (we shared a couple treats and loved them!). I definitely recommend this spot! 

Aarhus Street Food

Similar to the Papiroen experience in Copenhagen, Aarhus has it's own "Aarhus Street Food" center -- such a great choice for a group of 5 people with 5 different ideas of a "perfect dinner!" There were loads of choices for all of us. After checking out all the different stalls (there were several places with vegan options!), I settled on a Vietnamese Bun Bowl, which was light and delicious and totally hit the spot. Meanwhile, Birgitte and Mr. VE&T got some pizza, my dad got traditional Danish food, and I don't remember what my mom picked out -- something else entirely. I wish we had more places like this in the U.S. It's such a cool way to go out to eat - and I love that it gives a low-rent opportunity to so many foodie entrepreneurs.


On our drive back from Aarhus toward Copenhagen, we went to see the beautiful castle in Kolding, called Koldinghus. They had a totally stunning design show that surprised all of us and sucked us in for hours! All of a sudden, we realized that we had better eat a late lunch and continue on our way before we were expected back in Copenhagen. The Koldinghus castle has a very traditional Danish buffet restaurant, and we decided that it was our best option. Honestly, I figured that it would be a total bust for me, and I would just eat some of my snacks in the car. But lo! I was able to get my money's worth - a few different appealing salads, roasted beets, veggies, sauerkraut, fresh fruit, and bread... I was quite delighted!  

Did you know that people in Denmark are just crazy about bikes?
It's so cool! 

Birthday breakfast!! 

Our last full day in Denmark together also just happened to be my birthday. Our friends gave me the most wonderful and love-filled birthday wake-up call, I cannot even tell you. My whole day was totally excellent, from start to finish. Plus, it didn't rain all day, which felt like a miracle at that point! 

We had a super special breakfast that morning with Danish flags and sparkly blue decor and cards and prezzies! I felt so loved!! Lucky me. Martin has a special "Green Porridge" that he makes every single morning for himself and for Cecilie. The children are not interested in this concoction. Neither was Mr. VE&T. But, I was up for trying it, and to my surprise, I even fell for it! I had it every morning that we were there! And, even more surprising, I have continued to make it for myself at home! It is extremely hearty and robust -- not for the faint of heart, my friends. I'll include the recipe at the end of this post, in case you want to try it for yourself!


One of our first stops in central Copenhagen was Naturbageriet, an all-vegan bakery. They also have several gluten-free items, in case that is important info for you. I reviewed the offerings and made several purchases (I had to!). By far my favorite was the vegan Thebirkes (seen bottom right), a super Danish pastry filled with butter, sugar, and marzipan and then covered in white poppy seeds. Holy bonkers that thing was good. It was so good that I bought a few more for myself at the end of the day when I was walking home. Ha ha. What a special treat! 

Next we headed toward this amazing market in central Copenhagen, called Torvehallerne

What a super cool spot! There are cafes, prepared foods, bakeries, candy spots, a super special tea store, and loads and loads of fresh fruit and veggie vendors. We got some coffee & pastries, and I got my first big bag of birthday cherries. The sweet young guy who sold me the cherries told me that his birthday was just the day before, so we were both cherry appreciators and nearly birthday twinsies! That was fun.

This place was a really special market -- so fun. In fact, we came back later in the day and LOADED up on all sorts of goodies for one last big family dinner together. 

One of excellent Instagram pals (woot, shout out to @lenetroen !) just happened to see that I was in Denmark and she is also Danish and she gave me some excellent birthday advice to go to Cafe Kaf - great choice!! By the time we got here, we had a big group and everyone was pretty pooped out from a day of sightseeing and sunshine and grocery shopping for dinner... and no one was really feeling very shiny in that moment. But we piled into a little picnic table out front, and ordered our sandwiches. The sandwiches are all vegetarian, but not all vegan, and the menu isn't in English. But you can ask and they will help you. Everyone there spoke English. Mr VE&T and I split those two huge sandwiches you see here, and they were 1) massive and 2) super special and delicious. Would eat again!! OMG so good.

And we were all stuffed, but it was also my birthday, so I was going to have to try their cakes!! So we all split this wonderful piece of cake: it had a lovely light mousse and then a super perfect brownie crust. We all loved it... in fact, it motivated me to buy myself a whole bday cake! But you have to wait to read about that. Mwahaha. 

Nice Cream

After our huge lunch and piece of cake, everyone else went home to start preparing dinner... but Mr. VE&T and I got to take our time and walk home together. I know you are probably thinking "Holy Batman, Amey, haven't you already had a pastry and a giant sandwich and lots of cherries and a piece of cake?! Do you really need ice cream?" The answer is YES. Nice Cream was probably the #1 spot I was determined to try, and this was my last evening in Denmark, and it has a location that is conveniently about 1 block away from Cafe Kaf.

OMG you guys. OMG. Mr VE&T and both agreed that this was the best vegan ice cream we had ever had. And, honestly, it's not like we were starving at this point, so that says even more. I got a scoop of coffee & Mr VE&T got a scoop of chocolate between two (gluten-free!) chocolate chip cookies. Seriously this place was just amazing and I can't even tell you how many times I have thought about and longed after this ice cream since going there. They also make some super amazing looking healthy "nice cream" bowls that are very tempting. I will have to go back to Copenhagen and make it a priority to eat here every day.

greedy-grubber super-snacker birthday girl!

Birthday Feast!

For our last dinner together, we had a wonderful time cooking and assembling our various purchases from the market that afternoon. Many non-vegan items were present (avert your eyes!!), but the vegan offerings were ample: roasted veggies, marinated and grilled tofus, spring potatoes, dolmas and hummus, fresh bread, green salad, and this amazing salad that Cecilie made. I wish I remembered more about that salad -- all I remember is that we were all raving about it and couldn't stop eating it. What a beautiful, festive, and delicious evening it was together -- happily spending time in the kitchen together, and then all going outside to eat in the yard...

The Gang's All Here!
What a lovely gathering of love & affection! 
Friendships rekindled. What a special time together.
and what a super special birthday dinner!!!

and last but not least... my birthday cake!

When we were at Cafe Kaf in the afternoon, I just couldn't resist their amazing display case of desserts. It is both a blessing and a curse to follow these guys on Instagram. After our single piece of cake was so delicious and wonderful, I decided to buy a whole cake to bring home for dessert. There were 10 of us in total -- so a whole cake wasn't too crazy of a notion! The biggest problem was having to choose!! I couldn't decided between something fruity and something chocolatey. The folks at Cafe Kaf were super kind and agreed to give me the lower price for buying a whole cake even though I got half and half of two different selections: half Rhubarb Marzipan and half Chocolate Hazelnut Marzipan. Ooooooh boy! Such great choices! These cakes with a layer of marzipan are very Danish, and so is rhubarb... so I felt somewhat obligated to try those. But, you just gotta have some chocolate too, amirite? They were both absolutely superb! After our lovely dinner outside, we had a heart-filled evening inside - singing and laughing and playing, drinking tea and decaf, and enjoying our cake together.

This was a wonderful trip. It was so special to have this time with my parents, and also with our very dear Danish friends. Next spring, Cecilie and Martin and their kiddos are coming to California for a visit and we are already so excited and planning all the fun things we can do together. Friendships really are a pretty special thing about being alive.

3 out 4 adults think Martin's Green Porridge is yummy!
1 out of 4 adults says "no thank you!"

Martin's Green Porridge
(with my changes in parentheses)
makes 2-3 servings

1 avocado (I use 1/2 an avo and 1/2 cup plain vegan yogurt)
1 apple (cored)
1 lemon (rinds removed)
1 ginger (peeled, a generous chunk)
10 grapes (I use a handful of blueberries instead, fresh or frozen)
5 walnut halves
1 sheet nori seaweed (I only use a half sheet per batch)
4 handfuls fresh spinach
1 bunch parsley (I use a handful, but not a whole bunch)
broccoli (maybe a cup or so, of raw brocco)
bean sprouts ( I never add this, because I don't have sprouts around the house)
1 glass green tea or water

Put it all in the blender and blend it up. It is seriously green!
To really do it Martin's way, top it with some corn flakes and chia seeds. And enjoy it with a piece of bread on the side. Let me know if you try it!