Welcome to the second installment of Milwaukee Monday, featuring Milwaukee-inspired food for Vegan MoFo. Today’s recipe is salted coffee stout caramels made with another Lakefront Brewery beer, Fuel Cafe stout.
This stout is brewed with coffee and was made especially for Fuel, a cafe in the Riverwest neighborhood with lots of vegan options like the super burrito (contains mashed potatoes!), the VLT, the Fat Vegan, Pesto Melt with vegan aioli, and Wasabi Veggie Melt. Most of the menu items can be made vegan and served with any espresso drink (or hot chocolate!).
After doing research, I soon realized that making dessert from beer is not an untapped realm. Beer salted caramels have been done, but what about adding coffee? Nope! So here was the result: a salty soft and chewy caramel made with coffee and coffee stout. Yum!
My kitchen isn’t as abysmally small as I complain. It’s perfectly adequate size for someone who lives in a studio apartment and cooks every once in a while. But of course, that’s not me! Cooking and baking supplies, appliances, dishware, glasses, produce, decor, aprons, and more are spilling out of every nook and cranny of my 100 square foot kitchen and dining space. Luckily my kitchen is equipped with quite a bit of storage space and cabinets (counter space is another story) and I’ve added a shelf or two, so keeping everything neat and organized isn’t a huge task. I will have an ice cream maker and a collection of cake plates, and have space for them too, dammit! The other hurdle is that I’ve turned most of the dining space into a photography studio (someday I’ll have a designated space and won’t have to completely tear it down after each use) and storage space for light stands, tripods, and props. But this is what I’m working with, and there are some simple fixes that make a huge difference.
Tip #1: Hang stuff from the ceiling!
I’ve had aprons hanging from my ceiling since I moved in, and I just got one of these tiered fruit and veggie baskets for my birthday. It frees up space in the refrigerator and removes the fruit bowl from the kitchen/storage table.
Tip #2: Think vertical!
This is always one of the major suggestions on apartment and design blogs when covering small spaces. I have my microwave, cake carriers, cake stands, flour and sugar tins, cereal, and tea on top of the refrigerator, then stuff on top of the microwave. Although my kitchen is the perfect size for someone of my height (affectionately referred to as “Barbie’s Dream Kitchen” by a friend), I still keep a step ladder in there to reach the tallest shelves of the cabinets, the top of the coffee maker, and anything on top of the refrigerator.
If you’re interested in the cake stands on top of the microwave in that photo, I made them! There are a few tutorials on the internet with all the details, but I followed this and this and made about 9 cake stands. The only difference is that I left the tops of the cake stands white so they’d be food safe.
Tip #3: Store stuff on walls and the refrigerator!
I’ve seen magnetic spice containers online and at many kitchen supply stores, but they were always really expensive for maybe 10 or 12 tins. Let me tell you, I have way more than 12 spices and so do most people who cook regularly, and if this only frees up space from 12 little spice jars, it’s not very effective! I was still in crafty mode when lusting after magnetic spice tins, so I decided to take matters into my own hands. I Googled “diy magnetic spice tins” and sure enough…here it was!
I ordered my tins from the same place mentioned in the instructions, Specialty Bottle, and got a few different sizes to accommodate each spice. Don’t skimp on the neodymium magnets unless you want to skate around your kitchen floor on paprika. I sanded the covers of my spice tins, then applied chalkboard paint. This way, I could change the contents of the tins at any time (commitment bad, flexibility good) by simply erasing the chalk and filling them with any other spice. I bought chalk markers instead of using regular chalk because they come in more vibrant colors and don’t smudge or create lots of dust, which is essential when you’re constantly grabbing at the tins.
Here’s the result! The space of 40+ spice jars has been freed up, and my dishes and cups don’t smell like curry (I was storing some spices in a drawer above them). None of the tins have fallen off or spilled yet either!
I have more space saving tips and implements in my kitchen to share later in the month if you guys are interested! I spend way too much time thinking about how to create more space everywhere in my apartment, making things that help with that, and then bringing home more clutter (repeat process!).
I’ve been photographing food pretty much constantly for the past few months. Part of that process is redoing some photos I’m not too pleased with. Of course, I don’t want to recreate EVERYTHING I need to photograph, so that’s where magical chocolate cookie dough can shapeshift into cookies, biscotti, brownies, and pie crust.
I began with my double chocolate cookie recipe from The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur and got to work.
Chipotle Lime Hot Chocolate Cookies. This is an easy one. This becomes this:
Some of the dough was baked in a huge loaf, then sliced into biscotti.
Old Chai Biscotti, new chai biscotti:
Actually, I sliced some of the biscotti loaf into squares.
Malted beer brownies, revamped:
I popped everything in the oven at a low temperature and let cookies crisp up, then cool. The next stop was a food processor to create cookie crumbs, which are the main ingredient of…
Cheesecake crust! This particular cheesecake kind of sucked, but that has been fixed since.
This concludes my review of the magic transforming power of chocolate cookie dough for the purpose of food photography.
For day two of MoFo, I’d like to share a couple images from a series I’m working on for school. Tentatively titled Vegetable Murders, I’ll be slaying some fruits and veggies and photographing the process, wholeheartedly owning up to any completely clever vegetable killer comments from naysayers. I’m going to be working with this for at least another month or two, there will be more photos throughout the month, as well as more cohesive descriptions.
Happy first day of Vegan Month of Food and October! After last year, it seemed wrong not to start out with something pumpkin, so my first post of the month is pumpkin beer soft pretzels! I studied soft pretzel recipes and created a new recipe with a bottle of Lakefront Brewery’s pumpkin beer right in the dough. Perfect with spicy mustard in the beginning of fall! All of Lakefront’s brews are vegan (with the exception of a seasonal beer that contains honey) and made in Milwaukee. Their tasty pumpkin beer is a fall tradition. It’s great just for drinking, but also in all kinds of baked goods.
I’m jumping into MoFo somewhat blindly this year, and plan to assign a theme to each day of the week as this week unfolds, rather than choosing one theme for the month. On Mondays (mostly because of the alliteration), I’ll feature dishes and recipes based on Milwaukee favorites, or using ingredients especially from this city. Maybe even takeout from my favorite spots around town. I’ve lived here for almost four years now and would like to veganize some of the crazy dishes from beer, cheese, and cream puff land (oh crap, am I obliged to make vegan deep fried cheese curds?). I’m thinking more cannoli and cream puffs, but deep fried cheesy things on sticks may need to happen to do it justice.
1. Today is my birthday. Tater tots!
4. It’s VeganMofo!
I just took a bike ride in a hoodie, the AC has been off for two days, and the leaves are starting to look crunchy (and not just the ones on the plants in my windowsill that I can’t keep alive for the life of me). School has been busy for the past few weeks and I brought out the bunny slippers this afternoon. All signs are pointing to fall! Between the colors, sunshine that doesn’t melt you, and the cool breezes that call for just a light jacket, it’s my favorite season. However, the transition is not yet complete, especially in my kitchen! While pumpkin bread, hearty stews, and apple pie sound delightful, I’m still clinging on to summer flavors for a little while longer.
Here are a few new summer recipes from the test kitchen:
Watermelon Fresca Sorbet
Fresh mint, watermelon, and lime juice are whirled through the ice cream maker, creating a cool, refreshing treat.
Airy lemon rose cupcakes topped with a fluffy rose buttercream makes for a light, but decadent dessert.
Cherry Bourbon Fried Pies
Cherries and bourbon wrapped up in a deep fried Southern indulgence!
The start of fall desserts will be here soon enough! What kinds of sweets have you been enjoying this summer?
Vegan Cuts is starting a brand new vegan blogger review program and the newest addition to their team, my friend Melisser Elliott, asked me to be a part of it. Vegan Cuts offers weekly deals on new vegan products and gives members the opportunity to earn rewards and discounts. Since they are a completely vegan company that offers quality, environmentally-conscious products from other small vegan-friendly companies, this is a few review program I wanted to be involved in. The first product I chose to review is Simply Straws, reusable glass drinking straws. I’m always looking for pieces for my ever growing collection of dishes, tea sets, fabrics, and utensils for food photos, so this was definitely something I wanted to try.
Admittedly, when I think reusable straws, what comes to mind is crazy straws. Twirly twisty plastic in every color of the rainbow, sometimes adorned with glitter or little plastic cartoon characters. While those have a time and place, these glass straws are completely different. They evoke elegance, belong on the grown up dinner table, and sparkle and shine in the sunlight, much like a decanter in a glass pitcher.
They sent me three different straws: a small clear one, large blue one, and a “bendy” clear one with a hint of blue/purple. They work just like any other straw, except you don’t throw away plastic afterward. The tiny straw is a bit difficult to drink out of because the opening is so small, so I preferred the bendy one. Just be careful about hitting your front teeth against the glass. And cleaning? They came with a small bottle cleaner and a pipe cleaner (I didn’t know people actually used those to clean pipe shaped objects, just for gluing on craft projects). Since you’re just cleaning liquids out of the straws, even people who hate doing dishes like me can handle it. They’re biodegradable, handmade in the US, bpa free, non-toxic, and all that good stuff that gives you peace of mind when shopping at environmentally-friendly small companies.
Now, my kitchen is very small and I’m a little clumsy when working sometimes, so bumping into counters while baking and cooking happens often. I break glass things at least once every week or two (still mourning the loss of my Strawberry Shortcake glassware Even with the odds stacked against the survival of my glass straws, I’m hoping they have a long life, but something ever happens, Simply Straws will replace them.
I’ve used them in a couple of food photos so far, looking more elegant than their plastic counterparts:
Irish Coffee Cheesecake
Root Beer Float Whoopie Pies
Thanks Vegan Cuts and Simply Straws! If you’d like to try these or anything else from Vegan Cuts, you can use the code “BLOGFRIEND” for 10% off your order by October 31st, 2012.
Disclosure notice: While Vegan Cuts sent me the straws free of charge, I was not compensated for this review and all opinions are my own.
A few weeks ago my grandma celebrated her 75th birthday. Determined to find inspiration for a cake, I took a seat next to a giant box of old photos, rifling through hundreds of envelopes. I settled on one of her and I somewhere around 1993, complete with a “Happy New Year!” headband (which would be changed to Happy Birthday for our purposes). I popped in some DVDs and got to work, painting with gel food coloring atop a fondant disk.
The cake is strawberry almond amaretto with strawberry filling. With the intention of preservation, we slid the fondant off the top of the cake before eating to keep the portrait in the freezer.
While digging through those photos, I scanned in a few of them to share.
Baking funny shaped cakes since ’98:
Painting everything but paper was one of my earliest hobbies:
As was blogging (thought it would be a few more years before I understood that writing a letter and putting it on the table next to the computer would not “send it through the phone line and email it”):
And of course, petting animals!