We devoted yesterday to staycation. First there was a quick shopping trip, then a picnic and swimming at Walden Pond, finishing the first half of a pair of socks, and my first experience with the tennis courts across the street from our new apartment. Let's just say, I'm not a natural at tennis. But cookies afterwards, that I'm good at.

I did go ahead and order the cookbooks I've been hankering after. Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero are my heros, and their Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar is worth every cent. I was skeptical at first; I'm a decent cook and I can handle cookies. But every recipe so far has been unlike anything I could conjure up on my own. These are their Chocolate Fudgy Oatmeal Cookies, complete with dried cherries, and they're phenomenal. We've also made the Peanut Butter Chocolate Pillows, Citrus Glitters, and Blueberry Spice Crumb Bars. I think blondies or biscotti are up next. Mmm, cookies.

Hi summer, we're so glad you've arrived.


Shaved Asparagus Pizza

I like asparagus only barely as well as the next person, so when I read the enthusiasm on smitten kitchen over a shaved asparagus pizza I was skeptical. How could asparagus, or ass-pra-gas as we call it at our house, somehow be improved by shaving it? And no, I can't fathom a raw shaved asparagus salad being tasty. Nevertheless, I found myself at Whole Foods the other day, hungry and without a shopping list, and the asparagus called to me. It's hard to go wrong with a pizza, so I tried it.

Shaved Asparagus Pizza

My crust came from the focaccia recipe in Veganomicon. If you don't have Veganomicon and you're halfway interested in vegan recipes, or any good recipes for that matter, I beg of you to get it. Everything I've made from this cookbook has landed somewhere on the scale between good and amazing. The same could be said for Vegan Brunch and Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World by the same authors. I'm dying to get my hands on their other two cookbooks, but I haven't figured out a good excuse before Christmas. Those cookbooks have changed my life. All that aside, my crust was as tasty as I had expected.

Shaved Asparagus Pizza

On top of that I layered olive oil, thinly sliced potatoes and tomatoes, my shaved asparagus, a little more sprayed olive oil, and sea salt. I would have added an avocado if I had one, but I honestly think that might have been too much. Coming from the girl who eats avocados straight out of the peel with a spoon, that's saying something. The combination of the asparagus and potatoes somehow turned out buttery, creamy, salty, and delicious. I don't know how it happened, but this pizza was awesome. Now I'm glad that I still have some asparagus left over to try raw, and more pizza dough if all else fails. Yum.

Shaved Asparagus Pizza


Apricot Upside Down Cake

Apricot Upside Down Cake

Do you like food? Have you ever browsed the pages upon pages of deliciousness at smitten kitchen? Far too often I find myself transfixed by her photos, and wishing her recipes could all happen to be vegan. No such luck on that vegan detail; curse the miraculous wonders of eggs and butter. Most recently I've been inspired by her everyday cakes, so I'm taking it upon myself to find, modify, or invent some decent vegan recipes.

This recipe turned out quite nicely. I only used 2 tbsps vegan butter, and added 2 tbsps applesauce and 2 tbsps vegan yogurt. She also doesn't say how much sugar to put in the cake batter, so I guesstimated and went with 1/2 cup. I baked it in a 9" cake pan, and the thing totally overflowed and smoked up my poor oven. That was the only pitfall, though. Despite my sub-par photography skills, this cake was bright and beautiful when it popped out of the pan, and the taste and texture were awesome. I'll definitely be making this guy again.

I'm going to take just a couple of lines here and sum up my 6 months of absence. Here goes:

- Some time in January I decided I needed a doctorate, picked a school and found an awesome teacher, applied and prepared an audition, bombed said audition, cried giant tears over my crushed dreams, and then got accepted.

- During the middle of that process, Fred and I were informed that our landlords wanted to sell our apartment as a condo and would not extend our lease. The clock was ticking, so we found a place within a week and moved within a month, all during the busy season.

- Despite my aforementioned love of cake, I've managed to drop a decent chunk of weight in the past few months. Yay for taking charge of my life! I'll say more about it some day if I ever reach "goal," whatever that turns out to be.

- My sister had her baby!

- My Dad and step-mom drove up from Texas to visit with us and then to meet the new baby! They were on the road for a 28 day round trip, and it was so good to host them at our new apartment.

- Base miles have been logged and marathon training has begun so that I might conquer that elusive first marathon.

- We went to see Fred's brother in Minneapolis. I had never been, and now I want to move. We'll see what happens in 3 years, after I finish this doctorate.

- The quintet landed a new tuba player. He landed a job in China 2 months later.

- The quintet landed a new new tuba player. He rocks.

- The quintet's trombone player landed a job in Japan. He leaves in September. We're hugely excited for he and his wife, and hugely sad for our loss.

- The quintet landed a gig as an Ensemble in Residence at Tanglewood this summer, coaching for their Young Artists Wind Ensemble!

- The year has nearly ended, I've wrapped up a significant amount of my teaching and playing to focus on school, and summer is nearly upon us. Thank goodness!

I think that's the most of it, in a nutshell. I'm looking forward to finding center again this summer, remembering how to relax, and exploring new projects. This year has been a doozy, that's for sure. It's a goal to be here more often too. Probably with cake :)