Sanctuary Potluck / Dad’s 50th Birthday Cake

We volunteer at Cedar Row Farm Sanctuary as often as we can.  The primary reason is it’s such an amazing place for animals and we want to help out in any way we can, but the bonus is the fact that there’s a vegan potluck for all the volunteers at the end of each work day!  And these potlucks never disappoint.  I didn’t even capture half the food, since it was sprawling over several tables and stuff just kept being added even after I finished taking photos.  There was more desserts and a big pot of carrot soup, too.

Maple-walnut cupcakes (which were SO GOOD), chocolate loaf, lemon cranberry loaf, fudgy brownies.
Watermelon, Brooklyn Deli Mac salad (from Veganomicon)

A bean and chickpea salad, dips, pita triangles

Raw “egg” salad, pita pockets

Pita pockets and an awesome Moroccan grain salad

My plate

My dessert plate.  Also with a peach pie and ice cream!

Later that day (it was a busy day), we had a surprise party for my dad’s 50th birthday.  I made him a peanut butter and jelly cake!  I used the simple vanilla cake recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World but doubled the recipe and split between two cake pans, and increased the baking time to 40 minutes.  Then I made a double batch of the peanut butter buttercream frosting from the same book.  The filling was a seedless strawberry jelly!  It was a hit and I’ll be making it again.

It got devoured pretty quickly.  

– Crystal

Strawberries Galore

Sometimes, in our strawberry off-season, I get lured into buying those plastic cartons of strawberries shipped from god-knows-where that are quite anemic, whitish on the inside and sort of bitter, from the grocery store.  It’s easy to get used to that taste and think that’s what strawberries are supposed to taste like.

And then you take a little trip one Saturday to your local Pick-Your-Own strawberry farm, and bite into one of those juice little gems right off the plant, and you think, this is what a strawberry is supposed to taste like.  

Wasting no time, I brought our pick home and got to work.  I had my heart set on trying a no-cook freezer jam, so I could preserve some of the amazing taste of summer fruit for more dark, wintry days.  I picked up a couple packs of this stuff, and followed the directions for that.  I liked that brand of pectin because it requires far less sugar than other kinds.  Anyway, the freezer jam method is pretty much the same for each brand of pectin you use, just the measurements vary a little bit.  Crush/chop fruit (I used a potato masher), add sugar, mix in pectin, et voila.  The great thing about freezer jam is there is no sterilization of the jars required, and the jam ends up tasting like the fresh fruit instead of cooked down fruit.  

I ate some with a spoon.
Next up was pie.  My go-to recipe for strawberry pie is Kittee’s Strawberry Pie.  It is perfect in every way, and doesn’t require any weird gelatin to set it up.  (Gelatin is gross, by the way, it’s made from animal bones and skin – yup, that’s what jello is made of.)

It sort of fell apart – oh well!
And all of that only used up one of the two containers of strawberries we have.  I’m going on an all-strawberry diet for the next week.
– Crystal