February 17, 2010

Miss E sleeps over (and has a birthday)

Last Friday, our little granddaughter had her first sleepover at our house. She's used to spending time with us so when she arrived in the late afternoon, she removed her shoes and socks, and settled right into a comfy chair with a bowl of popcorn and a good book. (Little did she know that the book she was "reading" — an old favorite of mine called "Mr. Gumpy's Outing" — had once belonged to her Papa.)

For supper I made mac & cheeze with quinoa pasta and We Can't Say It's Cheese Cheddar Spread. After mixing the hot, cooked noodles and cheese in a baking dish, I sprinkled it with Parma and baked it briefly. I served it with a stirfry of silken tofu, shiitake mushrooms and broccoli seasoned with the miso topping from our recent Japanese cooking class. We also had salad with dijon dressing and seasoned croutons (tester recipes). The photo is of my plate. Miss E has her meals in a collection of small, unbreakable bowls. You know, just in case. She's a brilliant and beautiful girl but her table manners are ... undeveloped. Although she does say "please," as in "more mushrooms, please. More croutons, please. More broccoli, please."

Miss E was excited to come stay with us but I don't think she really quite understood the concept of "overnight." As she was getting ready for bed, she expressed the desire to go home, but I cheered her up with thoughts of waking up in the morning to have breakfast with us. "Would you like pancakes?" I asked her with sincere enthusiasm. We were good to go after that. So, in the morning I made pancakes with agave syrup, and I have to say they were delicious. I didn't use a recipe but the whole-grain cakes came out light and delicious. I added rice vinegar to the non-dairy milk and a bit of baking soda to the mix to approximate buttermilk pancakes. Miss E enjoyed her 'cakes with a side of organic grapes and a glass of almond milk.

After Miss E went home, I got to work making cakes for her two-year birthday on Sunday. She was born on Valentine's Day, and her parents had a party planned for about 30 adults and kids. I made two cakes — my standard chocolate cake with bittersweet frosting, and an almond-lime cake with rosemary-lime glaze that I was testing for Mihl of Seitan is My Motor. Because it was Valentine's Day, I made the chocolate cake in a heart-shaped pan. I split it into two layers, filled it with raspberry jam, and frosted it. The almond-lime cake was baked in a 12-cup Nordic Ware bundt pan that I was amazed to find at Goodwill for $2.99.* I really wanted a 6-cup pan but secondhand shoppers don't often have the luxury of choice.

Poppa Ken (A.K.A Grandpa holds the cake)

The party was a great success with lots of eating, talking, painting, a real bubble machine(!), shaving cream and other amusements. When it came time to add cake to the celebration, Miss E got a little overwhelmed. With all the guests belting out Happy Birthday, little Miss E didn't know where in that gaggle of legs to look. She did, however, thoroughly enjoy her cake, after the singing ended.

For her present, we gave Miss E a YogaKids DVD, a book about yoga and her very own yoga mat. She's fascinated with yoga and can do quite a few poses. She also received a pair of pink socks with hearts because, after all, her birthday is on Valentine's Day!

* While I was bopping around the net looking for info on bundt pans, I came across this handy hint for making cakes easy to remove from the pan. Grease the pan with a mixture of equal parts shortening (I used Earth Balance), flour and oil. One teaspoon of each should be more than enough. Don't use so much that you end up with white spots on your cake. It also said to set the pan on a steaming hot, wet towel in the sink for 10 seconds just after you remove it from the oven, then invert the pan over a cooling rack and the cake should come right out. I didn't want to end up with a big, wet towel so I put a small amount of hot water in the sink, set the pan in there for 10 seconds, and voila! The cake came right out.

This is a potato and beet salad my son made (and photographed for me) for the birthday party. The recipe is from "The Urban Vegan Cookbook." There was also an aioli from the cookbook that I didn't photograph.

Below are a bunch of tester recipes for Celine and Joni's upcoming cookbook.

Creamy Dijon dressing and seasoned croutons


Quiche slice on a plate

Parmesan sprinkles

Western bacon cheeseburger

Seitan bowl — possibly our favorite recipe so far.


  1. Aww, Happy Birthday to Miss E!!!

    The cakes you made both look fantastic.

  2. Aw, Miss E is a cutie. Say the word "pancakes" and you can make any kid happy. That potato and beet salad looks awesome, I love the color!

  3. Happy Birthday Misse E! Seems like it was a nice party.

  4. What a great-looking spread! And the idea of a two-year-old doing yoga is just too adorable!

  5. That first picture of Miss E is so cute! And your chocolate cake looks awesome, I bet it was delicious.
    All your tester pictures look really fantastic! especially the quiche.
    And next time we have kinds over, I might ask you about cookign advice.

  6. TRrinity,
    I'm always relieved when my cakes turn out okay. I used to be a cake-wrecker.

    Actually, the word "pancakes" makes me happy, too!

    Miss E had a great time at her party. Thanks for your comment - it led me to your blog and your recipes look wonderful!

    Doing yoga with Miss E is hilarious fun. She's very good at the frog pose and downward facing dog. :)

    Thanks! The chocolate cake and YOUR cake were both delish.

  7. Both cakes sound incredible! I've bought lots at Goodwill. Some, like the cookie sheet and cutting board, were junk, but I still use a set of dishes and glasses I got for $9.99 as my everyday ware. And my Goodwill Guinness pint glass broke in the dishwasher yesterday, after 7 years of service. Goodwill can be the best sometimes.

    Happy Birthday, E!

  8. I've bought lots at Goodwill (and other secondhand stores, too). Most of our glass pantry storage jars were used items as well as lots of glassware and dishes. Now I worry about lead in glazes and that's put a crimp in my plate collecting.

  9. Well Happy Birthday to Miss E!!! Those cakes look totally delicious. I'm glad the first sleepover went so well, because that'll set the pattern for the future. (Hope you really like pancakes.)

    xo C

  10. It sounds like Miss E had a lovely time! You would have had me at "pancakes" too! :D

    All the food looks delicious! I will have the Western bacon cheeseburger and the quiche please...

  11. Good old Mr Gumpy! We're old friends of his too! What a beautiful wee grand-daughter you have! And she's eating such delicious, healthy food! (Say a belated happy birthday to her from me, too.)
    Thank you so much for the bundt pan hint. My bundt cakes always come out in pieces and I'd given up, but now I'll try again!

  12. Claire,
    Can you believe she's two? I was pleased with the taste of both cakes but I messed up a little on the appearance of the chocolate one. I couldn't find the coconut (for decorating the edge) and when I tried powdered sugar it melted into tan spots. Oh well.

    Miss E always has a lovely time!

    I've always loved Mr. Gumpy — he has so much patience!

    Let me know if the bundt pan hint works for you. I haven't made very many, and the cakes have all come out of the pan.

  13. Happy b.day to Miss E! Those cakes look gorgeous. And that beet salad- wow, I have a thing for beets;)
    I love that she is into yoga, how wonderful.

  14. Janet,
    I think Miss E likes yoga almost as much as she likes cake!


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