Carrot & Daikon Slaw for Banh Mi and More!

September 2014

I routinely crave the Tofu Bánh Mì from the little cafe around the corner. Something about the slaw had me mystified, incorrectly thinking the carrot and daikon topping was the result of some complex, fermenting process. Turns out, it’s a really quick pickle, and it makes a great condiment for more than just Bánh Mì. The Urban Farmer even likes to eat it by the spoonful, so it’s worth adding a jar of this to your refrigerator routinely (and then maybe hiding it just a bit to prevent said spoonfuls).

Pickling Ingredients

Once you make your own jar, there’s no stopping a Garden Hot Dog Party from ensuing, so hurry before the weather becomes too cold for grilling!

Mixed Ingredients

Carrot Daikon Slaw


2 cups shredded organic daikon radish
2 cups shredded organic carrots (I used organic rainbow carrots, hence some yellow hues)
a big pinch of salt
1/2 cup organic cane sugar
1 cup white vinegar
2 cups water


Combine all ingredients in a large glass canister or jar, cover, and then refrigerate until ready to use (leave it to sit for at least half an hour).

Voila! Super simple!


Happy Slawing!

p.s: I’ve been adding to my jar as the carrots and daikon disappeared. I even added some thinly cut cucumber from the garden, which is quite a delicious addition! Don’t be bound by tradition. Have fun, and your taste buds will thank you.

Coffee Collaboration: Frozen Vanilla Latte Dessert

August 2014

Inertia, in the Physics sense of the word, is the tendency of objects to keep moving in a straight line at constant velocity. Inertia, in the colloquial sense of the word, is the forward motion that causes my mind to diminish the magnitude of projects on my horizon. They’re mere dots on my trajectory, but those dots represent accumulated ideas transforming into real life in a really momentous way!

Melted Chocolate

Semi-disclosure: I’m working on a really exciting collaboration involving coffee. It’s a BIG deal, but in the juggling, can’t-tell-which-day-it-is, forward motion of my life, I’ve been subconsciously underplaying the excitement. With all that’s in the works, I should be routinely breaking into dancing spells of anticipation.

Chocolate Cake Fail

In the meantime, while reality sinks in, and excitement grows, I offer a mini coffee collaboration experiment- a frozen vanilla latte dessert.

Chocolate Cake Base

One of my good friends happens to be one of the best baristas in this Steel City. She has been appeasing the Floral King and my coffee routines for a steady year now. While I typically stay very far from unnaturally sweet syrups in my espresso drinks, I am a regular consumer of her vanilla bean latte. Made with an actual vanilla bean, verifiable by the occasional fleck of vanilla in your beverage, this real-deal syrup makes a refreshingly addictive, iced, summer caffeine fix.

Heavy Cream Latte

During one coffee chat, we began to brainstorm the dessert form of her Iced Vanilla Bean Latte, and a collaboration transpired. Using heavy cream instead of milk, Kira made the equivalent of an iced latte, and then she passed the baton to me. I baked a mess of chocolate cake, crumbled it into a rectangular baking dish, whipped the iced “latte” into stiff peaks, spread it over the chocolate base, garnished it with more cake and spices, froze it, and voila…

Coffee Dessert

While I keep you waiting and wondering what project I have up my sleeve, I leave you with this little dose of inspiration/encouragement for whatever craziness/excitement hovers on your horizon:

“Great people do things before they’re ready. They do things before they know they can do it. Doing what you’re afraid of, getting out of your comfort zone, taking risks like that- that is what life is. You might be really good. You might find out something about yourself that’s really special and if you’re not good, who cares? You tried something. Now you know something about yourself.”
-Amy Poehler

On that note, let’s try some dessert!

Coffee Dessert Slice

Note: My baking is generally one big experiment, so the recipe I used to form the cake base provided more than enough cake. I used the leftovers to make another frozen dessert variation, which I will share in a later post. Either use the extra chocolate cake for more experimenting, for taster bites or simply cut the recipe in half.

Frozen Vanilla Latte Dessert

Chocolate Cake Base


1-1/4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 cup pure cocoa powder
3/4 cup organic, unsalted butter

1 cup organic cane sugar
1 cup local honey
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

4 organic, cage-free eggs


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13×9″ pan with olive oil or organic coconut oil, and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder. Set aside.

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter with cocoa; stirring frequently until smooth.

Add sugar and honey, and mix thoroughly.

Beat in eggs until smooth.

Stir in the flour and baking powder mixture until just blended.

Pour into prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes, until barely set.

Cool completely on a wire rack.


Vanilla Latte Layer


2 1/2 cups organic, heavy cream
4-5 shots of high quality espresso
pure vanilla bean syrup, to taste

*If you don’t have a collaborative relationship with your favorite barista, use pure vanilla extract and high quality espresso prepared using your favorite method.


In the chilled bowl of a standing mixer, beat the cream mixture on medium speed until stiff peaks start to form.


Crumble the chocolate cake to form a thin base in a 9×13 baking dish. Set aside extra cake.

Spread the whipped cream over the cake base.

Sprinkle the surface with extra cake crumbs, cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom. Place in the freezer. Serve frozen, but allow to thaw ever so slightly before taking the first bite.


Stay tuned!

Instagram Lately: Watch With Glittering Eyes

September 2014

I recently saw a praying mantis land on a pregnant belly, and a rainbow emerge over a wedding party. The week was full of good omens and slices of sweetness.

Quince and Cake

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you
because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.
Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”

- Roald Dahl

Blue City

May you find some magic this week!



P.S: You can follow all of my rosy and blue toned Instagram adventures here.

Donut O’ The Month for JoJoTastic: Nutella Coconut Baby Donuts

September 2014

Dear Donut Lovers,
ie: Dear Everyone in the World,

I am so excited to announce I will be devoting a fraction of my monthly food brainstorming to the creation of donut recipes to inspire your coffee dunking. You’ll be able to find these recipes at my pal Joanna’s blog JoJoTastic.

Donuts and Nutella

Joanna is a social media powerhouse, filling the web with inspiration and beauty left and right, and not to mention some pretty cute pet photos too. To kick off this Donut O’ The Month series, I bring you the Nutella Coconut Donut.

Donuts and Toppings

I’ll be bringing you a new homemade nutella recipe soon, but in the meantime, you can use this version from my archives.


Stay tuned for more donut adventures!

A Garden Hot Dog & Dessert Party

September 2014

Often mocked for its mysterious components, the hot dog is an institution even I can’t deny. Mind you, the idea of leathery dogs rolling repeatedly on a lamp-heated conveyor makes me sincrely nauseous (ie: on the verge of dry-heaving while typing), but the idea of a quality link, grilled to perfection, is garden party worthy! Thus, some good friends and I gathered in the Floral King’s garden on a summer night to celebrate the good ol’ hot dog in new ways.

Hot Dog Party Table

Watermelon Salad

Friends arrived with plenty of wine, and we put them to work adding the finishing touches to the apps and sides! Bess added mint from Thommy’s garden to this watermelon, black olive and feta salad. Don’t skimp on olive quality here- good olives make all the difference! Meanwhile, other willing workers prepared the prosciutto-wrapped, melon skewers destined for the grill.

Prosciutto and melon

Thommy (ie: The Floral King) picked fresh herbs and hibiscus from his garden, which we mixed with various wines, vinegars, peaches and strawberries. We left the fruit to marinade while we ate, and after the hotdog feast, we grilled the fruit in the garden-inspired marinades.




The key to a good hotdog party? In our book, the crucial elements are quality meats (sans weird, unpronounceable preservatives and the like) and corn-syrup-free buns. Yours truly might have forced a grainier bun, but I was willing to respect certain traditions. Being the controlling curators we are though, we divided the table into three hot dog flavor profiles. Being the drama queens/kweens we are, we theatrically demonstrated the assembly of each style:

The Picnic

The Picnic Dog
A Thommy Conroy creation

Potato Salad

(I like to make my potato salad with Greek Yogurt, but the Floral King insists the classic store-bought potato salad is the key to this combo)

Banh Mi Fixins

Bánh mì (3)

The Bánh Mì Dog

Sriracha + Mayo (organic versions of both preferably)
Cucumber Slices
Daikon Carrot Slaw (Recipe coming soon)
Jalapeño Pepper Slices
Ginger Sauce or the Asian Condiment of your choice (ex: Hoisin)

Assembly and Decor

The Garden

The Garden Dog

Blue Cheese
Garden Fresh Tomato
Garden Fresh Arugula
(hot dog link not shown but definitely included)


Hot dogs and a fancy, excessive dessert spread go hand-in-hand in this garden world. Layers of almond, vanilla cake paired deliciously with the varieties of stewed fruits, homemade whipped cream and a special frozen coffee dessert (recipe coming soon).

Flower Reflection

Another round of Romanian wine finished the night (check out those floral reflections! That bottle looks like a magical place for bees!)!

Though fall and pumpkin flavors will quickly be upon us, I hope you have the chance to sneak in a hot dog party of your own, maybe even over a campfire!


Happy Hot Dogging!

#TBT: A Very Important Question

September 2014

My answer is “none of them, of course,” but that’s not to say this isn’t a valid question…


All purist baker snobbery outside, “4th Meal” is my favorite meal, or at least, a close second to brunch.

#TBT (Throw Back Thursdays) glimpse into the vintage visual feasts in my personal collection of food and entertaining books.


Happy Debating!

Instagram Lately: Balancing Acts & Buckwheat Pancakes

September 2014

Lots of people talk about unwinding, detaching, disconnecting, etc. These notions are admirable and inspiring in their own right, but every now and then, it’s refreshing to curl up with the internet and be amazed by the inspiration and beauty you can behold.

The Queen and the Farmer

I recently took a night to disengage from people, from conversation, from the public, and I lost myself completely to watercolor backdrops, layers of chocolate, wide plank wooden floors in minimalist rooms, endless lace dresses and florals all dressed up as ice creams. With just a dash of focus and a dose of carelessness, these rabbit holes can feed conversations, start brainstorms and sometimes become a moment worth capturing and preserving. It’s all about balance… or balancing acts… however it is that balance happens.

Drying Flowers

Beyond my rabbit hole, Queens appeared (certainly a good oman), I savored my last corn popsicle on a super hot day, farm stand purchases blossomed into perfect Sunday pancakes, dogs, dudes and felines stretched lazily in summer breezes and blades of grass, and the Floral King returned, which means… I gotta get back to work! There is a LOT on the horizon!


Happy Balancing Acts!

p.s: You can follow all my Instagram adventures here.
p.p.s: You can follow my inspiration here.