Archive for October, 2011

They’re baaaaa-aaack!

After moving the voting to a non-blogging venue last year, we’ve brought it back this year and invite everyone to cast her or his vote for this year’s Ultimate Pumpkin Carving Champion.

I appreciate those of you who are not familiar with the pumpkin carving contest and who are just here for the food being patient as the wait for more recipes extends just a few days more.  But there will be more great eats, I promise.  On deck to be posted: balsamic hummus, apple strudel, citrus pound cake, and German potato salad.  For now, though, it’s all about the gourd art.

A review of the rules:

A two hour carving time limit, and

Bare-naked carving. No stencils, no accessories, no painting, no bells, and no whistles.  Just mad skills.

The carvers are to be judged by three things and three things only (but please cast only one vote as these are not three different categories but rather a rubric to be applied to your decision making): carving, creativity, and originality.

This year six carvers have convened with one dream: to be named the Ultimate Pumpkin Carving Champion of 2011 and to be given the bragging rights associated with the title.

A review of how it works: Please consider the six anonymous entries for this coveted title (pictures are posted below).  Post a comment that contains your vote for the pumpkin most worthy of being called the best of 2011.  This is where destinies are realized and dreams are shattered.

Voting will be open until Thursday at midnight and the winner will be posted on Friday.

Happy Halloween, and let the games begin!

The contenders, in no particular order:

Filigree Fright

I'm a Witch's Cat on the Full Moon. How Would You Look?

Hat Bee Howl Oh Bean!

E.T. Phoned Home

SpooooOooooky Cliff

Cauldron of Cookies. "Now what starts with the letter C? Cookie starts with C! Let's think of other things that start with C. Uh..uh...who cares about da other things?!" C is for cookie and that's good enough for me.

Please leave your vote in the comments below!


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Apple Upside Down Cake

To celebrate this first weekend of October, I decided to use some of the apples that have been sitting in a bowl on our counter and turn them into something sweet and autumnal.  This dessert is a play on the ubiquitous dessert made with the most well known of Hawaii’s produce: the pineapple upside down cake.

For this dessert, I made an apple cider cake.  Genuine apple cider, like the type I was accustomed to drinking every fall as a kid growing up in Pennsylvania, is very hard to come by in the islands, so instead of traditional apple cider I used Reed’s Natural Sparkling Spiced Apple Cider.  I am a big fan of Reed’s ginger drinks, and I have found that their apple cider is pretty tasty.

I have not baked with a sparkling or carbonated beverage before, so this was an experiment in baking, of sorts.  One of the cake layers came out of the oven with a small puka (hole) in it, which I attributed to some carbonation escaping during baking.  Regardless of the puka, the cake turned out deliciously – I was really, really pleased with it.  So was everyone who had it after dinner last night.

Crater Cake!

I am really happy to be back to blogging, and am happy that this is my recipe to return with.  This past year has been one in which I have struggled to find balance in all aspects of my life: meeting the high expectations I have for myself in my work, finding time for play (stand up paddle boarding, free diving, hiking, camping, traveling, reading, enjoying  movies …), healthy living (making food at home, exercise, mindfulness ….), and creative pursuits (cooking, photography, fabric crafts, crocheting, writing, teaching myself to play the ukulele…).  Several things, including this blog, fell off of my plate.

In the past few months, Dan and I have moved (a very short move, but into a much bigger place), inherited a very sweet 13 year old puppy, have both been promoted at work and are taking on greater challenges, and have set new goals for ourselves.  We find ourselves very immersed with our jobs, but we feel so fortunate to be able to do the work that we do, to work in such a fantastic place, and to work with the creative and hard working people that we get to work with.  I hope that each of you experience the same joys and challenges in your work, as well.  Those new goals of ours, though, revolve around balance – and hence I am happily returning to many of the activities that I love.

It’s good to be back.

Now, let us all eat cake.

Apple Upside Down Cake


2½ cups flour

3 tbsp cornstarch

1½ tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

1 cup Earth Balance “butter”

1 cup sugar

½ cup brown sugar

1  cup vanilla soy milk

2 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp vanilla extract

¾ cup apple cider

Apple Mixture

 2½ apples, peeled and diced

1 cup pecans, chopped

¾ cup flour

¼ cup brown sugar

¼ tsp salt

2 tbsp honey or agave (I almost always use agave instead of honey, and I wholly respect that many vegans would never touch the stuff, but in this case I did choose to use locally sourced honey.  I felt compelled to clarify due to a comment left in regards to honey’s inclusion in the recipe.)

2 tbsp maple syrup

2 tbsp butter, melted

Naked Apples!

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

2.Cream together the Earth Balance and sugars until light and fluffy.


3. Mix together the soy milk and apple cider vinegar, set aside.

4. Sift together all dry ingredients into a second mixing bowl.

5. Add vanilla to butter mixture and mix until incorporated.

6. To the butter mixture, add the following: a third of the dry mixture, then the soy milk mixture, another third of the dry mixture then the apple cider, and, finally, the rest of the dry ingredients.  Mix until well combined.

7. Combine all of the apple mixture ingredients into a separate bowl and stir well to combine.

8. Spray the cake pans with oil.  Place parchment paper in the bottom of one, and then layer in the apple mixture on top of the paper.

9. Pour the cake batter into the pans, using less in the pan with the apple mixture.

10. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into each cake comes away clean.

11. Let the pans cool on a rack for 10 minutes.  Lightly run a butter knife around the edge of the cakes, turn out, and let cool completely.

12. Run a serrated knife along the edge of the cake layer without the apple mixture to remove the crunchy edge.  Apply a thin layer of frosting (recipe follows) to the sides and top of this layer, reserving a bit of the frosting for finishing the cake.

13. Place the layer with the apple mixture on top of the frosted layer.  Use the reserved frosting to fill in the edge between the two layers.  Slice, serve, and enjoy!

Brown Sugar Frosting

Adapted from this recipe

 5 tbsp Earth Balance butter

½ cup brown sugar

3 tbsp vanilla soy milk

1¾ cups powdered sugar

½ tsp vanilla

1. Melt the butter in a small pan over medium heat.  Stir in the brown sugar and stir until melted. Add the soy milk, bring to a boil, then remove from heat.

2. Place the EB butter mixture into a mixing bowl, then mix in the powdered sugar and vanilla.  Mix until well combined.  If the frosting appears thin, add in more powdered sugar.

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