Sunday, January 27, 2008

Welcome New Readers!

Google Analytics tells me that I have a 60 percentile of new readers, or something. That's great! Decoupage and Demitasse has also gone on a wild promotions spree including the creation of a Facebook account(see "Places to Go" on your right for a link) and whoring itself out to those blog directory sites.

Also, old and new readers will also find that anyone can comment now (instead of just google account owners). So comment away! Questions, requests, complaints and suggestions are always welcome!

Hope to hear from you all soon. You can also now reach "The Blog" (me) at this address.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Vegetarian times: Veggie Pho

Every since I've become a vegetarian again, I have missed some of those foods that were vaguely 'meaty'. For instance, the amazing Vietnamese dish "Pho", the heal-all beef broth based soup with so much good antiseptic, pro-digestive, nausea relieving power it's sort of like a cross between beef stew and a medicinal herbal brew. I was psyched to see that Vegetarian Times had a recipe (again, condoned by Andrew Weil) for veggie Pho in it's January issue. It was that particular issue that made me fall in love with this magazine all over again (I used to read it in high school but didn't quite 'get' it).
Thanks to My Recipe Box for writing this out already, because the truth is, I am a lazy, lazy girl. (The proof is in the fact that I have about 10 blog posts lined up and none of them are posted).
Again, my notes are marked with a (*) asterisk. Good luck, this one is a bit of a time consuming adventure.

Vegetarian Times' Vegetarian Pho Soup.


  • 6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth *I suggest bouillon cubes. Usually one cube makes about 2 cups of broth.

  • 3 large shallots, sliced (1 cup) *Shallots are like tiny, sweet onions. They look like this:
  • 1/2 c. dried shiitake mushrooms *I actually found frozen shiitakes for this purpose. Don't use regular white mushrooms, shiitakes' have a particular 'meaty' and smoky flavor that is important for this dish.

  • 10 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed *Remove the skins of your garlic by crushing them gently with the flat part of your knife. Don't bash them or you'll end up with a bloody hand. And a blood knife. Example:

  • 3 Tbs. low-sodium soy sauce *I use Bragg's liquid aminos. It tastes the same, and gives you a nutritional kick.

  • 12 thin coins of fresh ginger (about 1/4 inch thick)

  • 1 Tbs. brown sugar
  • 1 Tbs. rice wine vinegar

  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper *Please please PLEASE invest in a pepper grinder and do this fresh. Ground pepper in a can is wicked old, because it doesn't really 'expire'. Add how long you've had yours and about 3 years (how long it's been on a supermarket shelf) and prepare to be grossed out. Old pepper has no flavor.

  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 star anise *A spice that smells like licorice, looks like a little wood star.
  • 5-6 fresh basil stems, leaves reserved for the soup
  • 5-6 cilantro stems, leaves reserved soup
  • 8oz. pkg. rice noodles

  • 8 oz. pkg Asian-flavor baked tofu, thinly sliced (maybe more) *Asian baked tofu is half as much as a regular package of tofu and twice the price. Make your own: Mix a little brown sugar, sesame oil, soy sauce (or Braggs), garlic and ginger together, slice your tofu into thin patties, and soak for about an hour. Bake at 400 degrees or until chewy but not crispy. Or pan fry in a little peanut oil. You can change up the marinade to flavors of your liking.

  • 2 cups soybean sprouts *These are large, white sprouts about the thickness of a dandy lion stem. Not the thin hair like sprouts you put in salads or sandwiches.

  • 2 cups watercress *I'd call this optional. Veg times just kind of stuck this in there for extra calcium, or something, it's not traditional Vietnamese.

  • 4 green onions, sliced *Up east we call these scallions.
  • 1/4 c. chopped cilantro
  • 1 c. fresh basil leaves
  • 1 lime
To make Broth: Place all ingredients in large pot with 8 cups of water. Cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, covered, 1 hour. *Yeah, well, an hour is good if you are rushed. If you have an afternoon, let it simmer on very low heat for as long as you can. The flavor will be much better.

This is what your pho looks like before 'discard solids'
Did I mention your house is going to smell amazing for days?

Strain broth and return to pot. Discard solids.

It's been hours. You've discarded your solids.
Look how sassy your broth is now!

To make Pho: Cook rice noodles according to package directions. Drain, and rinse under cold water. Divide among 6 large soup bowls. Ladle broth over noodles, and top with tofu, sprouts, watercress, and green onions. Serve cilantro, basil and lime wedges on the side to be stirred into the soup. *I like to have all my garnishes ready to rock so people can make their own decisions. I am no Pho Nazi, except for what goes in the bottom of the bowl.

Plate O' Garnish

Scallions, cilantro and asian tofu ready to be broth-ed.
Brothed? Brothotized? Have broth poured upon them?
Oh, whatever...

*The traditional way to eat Pho is as follows:
Load up your hot broth with basil, more scallion, cilantro, and a lime wedge. Mix around and wait for a few minutes to eat so that the flavors can mesh. Chopsticks in your best hand, use to load solids into the spoon in your other hand. To add sauce, make a little puddle on the plate and dip your chopsticks in it. That flavors your next spoonful of noodles. In the case of Pho, the 'sauce' is lime juice (squeezed from your garnish wedge) mixed with a little black pepper to make a paste. You could also use Nuoc Cham, but it wouldn't be completely veggie considering that it is a fish based sauce. You can also garnish with a little Sriracha chili sauce, hot peppers, or hoisin sauce.


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Adventures in Veganomicon:Caramel-Apple-Spice Cupcakes

So, I love to bake. And for some reason, vegan baked goods turn out better than most (most of the time). I think it's that Vegan chefs put in a little more of an effort to make sure something tastes spectacular, since there isn't all that lovely butterfat to hold onto the flavor. Locally, Oh! Sweet Mama's is sort of the best thing ever. I admit that I have a small addiction to their pecan-chocolate chip cookies, as they are more buttery and perfect than any other cookie around. There, I said it.

Oh yes...only available in 6 locations but so...tasty...

It's well known fact that Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero are sort of the queens of Vegan cupcakes. Their book "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World" was a NY Times Bestseller, and I sort of covet it, even though it's teeny tiny and still has a mighty 15 dollar price tag. (Yes, I'm cheap).

Click to purchase a copy.

I'm happy to say, however, that my mother bought me the "Veganomicon" for my birthday. Already adored by food/vegan bloggers all over the world, this book has tasty vegan recipes with easy to get ingredients and extremely easy to follow instructions. I'm not a vegan, but enjoy vegan cuisine quite a lot due to it's whole grain adornment, meat-free qualities, and generous amounts of fruits and vegetables, something people of all food-eating-groups should get into, as it's the best way to live till you're 110 (according to Andrew Weil).

Frannie Loves the V'con.

Enough intro though, let's get onto the not-so-healthy but still vegan sweet cuppin-cakes!
(I'll give credit where credit is due here, but if it's a Faux Pas to post a recipe, those gals can eat it [pun intended], I'm still mad at them for making fun of my celebrity husband, Anthony Bourdain). My notes are marked with an asterisk.

(from Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero, pg. 252-3)

Thank you to my lovely hand model. Author of The G'st.


-2 firm, tart cooking apples such as Granny Smith Or Northern Spy *(I used what every I had around, I think it was Fuji).
-2 tablespoons (tbsp) brown sugar
-1 tbsp. vegan margarine *(Earth Balance)
-1 cup soy milk *(I buy unsweetened, so that you can control the amount of sugar you use, though vanilla or 'plain' would work fine here)
-1/3 cup canola oil
-3/4 cup granulated sugar
-1 teaspoon (tsp) grated lemon zest
-1 tsp. vanilla extract
-1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour *(I use king Arthur unbleached white)
-1 1/2 tsp baking soda *(yellow box)
-1/2 tsp baking powder *(red can)
-1/4 tsp salt
-1 tsp cinnamon*
-1 tsp ground nutmeg*

*for these last 2 ingredients I use a blend called 'apple pie spice' and use about 1 1/2 tsp total.

Caramel-Penuche Frosting:

1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 Tbsp. vegan margarine
1 Tbsp. molasses
1/3 cup soy creamer or soy milk
2 Tbsp plain or vanilla soy milk powder *(After much searching, I still have NO idea what this is, and did not find whatever it is, so omitted).
Pinch of salt
2 1/2 cups confectioners' (powdered) sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped, roasted peanuts for sprinkling (optional)


-12-cup capacity muffin pan or two 6-cup capacity muffin pans
-Chef's knife
-Cutting board
-Saute' (frying) pan
-Large mixing bowl
-Rubber Spatula
-Heavy bottomed saucepan
-Small Mixing bowl
-Whisk or Electric Mixer
-Small spatula or butter knife.
-Measuring cups and spoons.

*These steps are not as originally written for the sake of brevity.

1.)Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2.)Core and dice apples to about 1/4 cubes.

3.)Heat brown sugar and margarine in pan over medium heat, stirring, until bubbling. Add apples and stir to coat. Heat, stirring occasionally, until apples have lost almost all their liquid. (12 minutes). Allow to cool.

4.)In the large bowl, beat together the soy milk and lemon juice and allow to sit for a moment to curdle. Add the oil, sugar, lemon zest and vanilla and beat well, either by hand or with an electric mixer. Sift in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg and stir only until ingredients are moistened. Fold in the apples along with any remaining juices.

5.) Now, here it says to line your pans with cupcake liners, but unless you are dealing with really delicate cupcakes (which you aren't here), I say they are an environmental waste. However, if you do not have a fancy shmancy muffin pan that's non-stick like mine, you may want to stick with the liners. So, do one of those, I didn't use liners and used cooking spray, and then fill those suckers up about 3/4 of the way. Bake in your 350 oven for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

6.) When they are done, cool them on wire racks. If you followed my environmentally sound advice, you may want to take the muffin tin(s) with both hands (protected by oven mitts or something) and give the bottom of it a good WHACK on the table to loosen your cupcakes.

7.) Frosting time:Combine the sugar, margarine, molasses, soy milk, and salt in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Stir and bring to a boil. Allow to boil for 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, remove from heat.

8.) Cool mixture slightly, then add half the confectioners sugar and vanilla, and beat in, either by hand or with electric mixer, for about 3-5 minutes, until creamy. Add the rest of the confectioners sugar, and beat in, until frosting has a thick, fudge like consistency. At this point I found that my frosting was a little too thick, so I added soy milk until it was the consistency I wanted.

9.) Spread quickly onto cooled cupcakes! Let rest and the frosting will have a satiny finish! DONE.

Is my blurry photo tempting you?

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Shopping Post #1: Monster Pillow

For my birthday this year (12/24), I decided, drunk on Sangria from Tasca , that I deserved a little birthday present (OK, well, I'll be honest, it was from my father technically, as he supplied the birthday money).
So while browsing online, I found myself this site: Mechanical Bunny. Not only do they have pretty cute 'goth' and 'punk' clothing for all sizes of women, but they also have 'spiritual' supplies, and what caught my eye, as I've been 'redoing' my room and bed--MONSTER PILLOWS (would include link, but it seems as though that part of the site is currently down for maintenance).

I chose the monster buffalo, as he was red and black and big. The pillows are handmade, and can be customized, but this little guy was already made and ready to ship so I didn't have to wait the usual 2 weeks for the girl who runs the site to make it for me.

Oh the Horror.

Anyhow, he's very fuzzy, doesn't shed, is pretty good for a pillow with teeth, and every part of him is soft and well secured. Well worth the $35 price tag :) Plus, Frannie may have found true love.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Mini-movie review:Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd

The chair in the movie was actually not red.

Went to the more corporate and less local theater tonight and saw Sweeney Todd, after 3 previously failed attempts (weather, personal problems, etc). I've heard multiple peanut gallery style reviews about this film, some said it was great, a few said it was 'boring'. Now, a lot can be said about this film: It has simple content, yes, the story does not have many characters, sure it takes place in about 3 buildings, but it is NOT boring. I can't see how anything this coated in lovely fake blood, amazing costumery, jealousy, rage, revenge, cannibalism, romance and great, spooky, fucked up music could be boring.

I want to touch on a few things, first, the costumes:I could NOT STOP LOOKING AT THEM. It's the kind of beauty that is so intense that it made me want to go out and buy a ripped up corset. It definitely had traditional 'Tim Burton' aesthetic, but also called from Victorian, Steam-punk, Ephemeral spooky ass old photos of your great grandparents, and so on. It seemed as if the filmmakers knew how brilliant and striking the clothing was, too. In one particular gorey scene, S. Todd (Depp) does not know what to do to cover up his tracks, so throws on a fucking sassy ass muted blue short coat. Looks even more hot and hides his sins in one go. Clever. I love that Burton has Johnny Depp to be his personal dress up doll, and his addition of Alan Rickman and Helena Bonham-Carter to the kit is almost enough for me to buy some Nightmare Before Christmas underwear for my boyfriend and have a Beetlejuice themed dance party.

Cleavage and razors do not equal boring

A closer look at our heroes.

Secondly, the blood was unbelievable:So much classically silly/fake thick red wonder that you could fill a room. 'Nuff said. Stuff like that rocks especially when done in a classic horror way that works and still makes you feel a bit creeped out.

And I can never resist a story about a lady-cook*, especially one with goth makeup and ripped petticoats :)
Um, excuse me for a second, I think one of my sex dreams just became a Tim Burton film.

Overall an amazing film, with pretty good vocals considering these are not 'singers' per say. For the record I would certainly not, by any means, call this film boring. I give it one strong spooky hand to the forehead.

*Yeah, I know it's about some 'demon barber' or something, but I suppose we see what we want to see :)

And a little taste:

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Mini-movie review:Juno

Just got back from the local theater to see this lovely film. It's the adorable story of boy and girl do it, girl gets pregnant, girl makes a decision, and hilarity and emotional tumult ensue. It's has a super adorable cast, starring, but certainly not limited to, Michael Cera (of Arrested Development and recently Superbad fame, as well as one of my favorite web-finds ever The Clark and Michael Show), as well as Ellen Page, who apparently starred as Kitty Pryde in the hellish X3.

However, all adorablility aside, this movie was almost completly perfect. The aesthetic of the whole thing had a really great Daniel Clowes/Ghost World feel, as well as some definite nods to the Salingeresque world of Wes Anderson, as well as something completely different that made the movie great, eerily familiar, and heck, i'll say it, reminded me of me.

Hello, my name is Ellen Page,and I am freakin' adorable.

I love teen movies. There, I said it. I liked them when I was a teen, and I like them now. I really HATE slapstick and gross 'man' humor (though I don't believe this sort of humor is exclusive to men, lets be clear). I'm also not entirely a fan of drug humor (though there was a pretty amazing and rare Adderall joke in this film). So this was refreshing as it sort of had that grrl power (not girl power) feel, as well as the forming of unconventional relationships and not just the boring 'hero-love interest' or 'hero-parents' or 'hero-best friend' scenarios you usually see. The focus was truly more on 'hero-self' and 'hero-?' (I can't spoil everything, now can I?).

If I were to write a tag line for this film it would be: "A post-punk story of love in unexpected places and knowing when it's time to grow up." Though that would be a total cop-out because there is nothing generic about this sweet, fun, different, film. See it.

Slightly off-topic: man teaches baby wolf to howl.

That's all there is to say really.

"Shaun Ellis is a British animal researcher who is notable for living among wolves, and even "adopting" a pack of abandoned wolf cubs. He was the subject of an Aqua Vita Films documentary called "A Man Among Wolves". It has been shown on the National Geographic Channel in the United States of America (U.S.), and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK) version of the film entitled "The Wolfman" has been shown on Five.

The documentary shows how, by carefully mimicking wolf behaviour, Ellis was able to raise a pack of three wolf cubs to maturity in a nature reserve in Devon, becoming the pack's alpha male.

His expertise brought him to the attention of a Polish farmer, whose livestock had suffered wolf attacks. Since wolves are a protected species in Poland the farmer hoped that Ellis might be able to find some non-violent way to deter the marauding pack. Ellis travelled to Poland to study the local pack, bringing with him audio recordings of wolf howls.

Ellis believed that if the local wolves heard howls coming from the farm they would believe another pack had already claimed it as their territory, and keep clear to avoid a conflict. In order for this to work Ellis had to determine the size of the pack and play back recordings of a similar-sized pack. Initial results were encouraging; in the first few weeks after the farmer began playing the recordings the farm suffered no further attacks.

Returning to Devon, Ellis attempted to reintegrate himself with the three wolves. In his absence the wolves had established a new hierarchy, and though they recognised Ellis and welcomed him back he was now the pack's omega, relegated to a peace-keeping role between the new alpha and beta males."

From the wiki entry for Shaun Ellis.