working on the battergetting the piping bag ready

in case you missed part one of the vegan cupcake extravaganza, i’ll catch you up to speed. jamie, tyler, mike, and i perused the cookbook vegan cupcakes take over the world, by isa chandra moskowitz and terry hope romero, and bit off more than we could chew in one night by selecting two recipes. we started the project late in the evening, and didn’t thoroughly read the directions for the creme pie cakes, which includes not one, not two, but THREE steps of chilling ingredients for at least an hour.

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this weekend, we headed up to san francisco to celebrate laura’s birthday. we began by dining at millennium, an upscale vegan restaurant. i always get a little overwhelmed when we eat somewhere that offers vegetarian or vegan fare, because i can pick anything off the menu! after munching on delightful hummus and bread, we decided to start with roasted beets and hazelnuts. unfortunately, none made it into our iphone snapshot – they were too amazingly tantalizing!

roasted beets and hazelnuts

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last night we went out to dinner with my lovely sister at lillian’s italian kitchen. while the wait was a tad long for three hungry people, the ambiance in the former site of malabar was marvelous, created by packed tables of people who were talking, laughing, and slurping pasta by candle light. as i perused the menu, i was excited to see the primavera dish, which promised fresh veggies and spinach over penne or polenta with four different sauce options (marinara, alfredo, garlic & olive oil, and pesto). i couldn’t resist getting the dish and ordering it with polenta and pesto to see how it compared to my own polenta pesto dish. while it wasn’t vegan and i didn’t have my beautiful nikon with me to do the dish justice in the picture below, the polenta was creamy and delicious, while the pesto was absolutely amazing – bright, fresh, spicy, and creamy all at once. so i suggest you head over to lillian’s – you may want to make a reservation – and enjoy this tantalizing meal asap, while basil is still in season. oh, and in case you’re wondering, my fellow two diners had fantastic dishes as well, so there are many more tasty options than just the polenta with pesto.  so now you have no excuse – go and enjoy!

around the pogan household, march madness refers to a month jam packed with birthdays and celebrations instead of the typical reference to basketball games.  while catching my breath after a whirlwind of fun events, i started to write a post about all of the march madness activities and realized that all of them included two essential components of the ncaa march madness: exercise and food (ok, the food isn’t televised, but do you know how much college athletes eat?!?!  it’s obscene!).  so maybe there’s more similarities between our version of march madness and the ncaa one than i originally thought:

1. we began the month celebrating jamie’s birthday at sky high sports, where we jumped to our heart’s content on a humongous trampoline, dove into foam, and played some dodgeball. we capped off the night with some thai food, a lemon cake, and vegan chocolate banana muffins.  exercise evaluation: it was more challenging to jump on trampolines for an hour than i ever imagined it could be, but also more fun, totally meriting an achy back for the next few days. food evaluation: delicious, filling, varied.


2. shortly thereafter, we proceeded to celebrate tyler’s birthday at the new norcal sports complex, where we took turns batting:


this delightful party ended with some taco bell chow at the new fancy taco bell on mission street, a blueberry pie & an apple pie, and a stimulating game of riff. exercise evaluation: this involved some serious hand eye coordination, and out of nowhere, old tips from my parents started emanating from some long-lost corner of my brain – like “keep your eye on the ball, step into it as you swing, make sure to really swing through, choke up on the bat,”  etc, etc. my arms could definitely feel the exercise the next day. food evaluation: unusual (haven’t had tb in a LONG time), ended the night groaning with fullness.

3. in the middle of all the birthdays, we paused for a respite with shoveling dirt at a dear friend’s house, then helping plant a garden in front of her new home, then helping her move into said house. exercise evaluation: exhausting manual labor that felt good but led to the realization that i could probably never chose farming for a career. food evaluation: delicious – over the course of 3 weekends, we were treated to easter jelly beans and m&ms, scrumptious dharma’s food, an amazing veggie & cheese tray from gayle’s and perfect pastry cakes from the buttery, not to mention delicious ice cold new-refrigerator-filtered-water.


4. in continuing with the deviation from the stream of birthdays, we celebrated easter with my family’s religion: delicious food! exercise evaluation: the easter baskets contained frisbees made out of nylon that can be folded and packed to take to any event.  the afternoon deteriorated into three frisbees flying all over the living room while ness and mike challenged each other to a frisbee/juggling match.  food evaluation: we put together an absolutely amazing brunch, with every family member pitching in to make something tasty.


5. getting back to the regularly scheduled birthdays, we celebrated chuck’s birthday (mike’s dad). chuck’s birthday is technically in between jamie and tyler’s, but he and barb were in arizona for the big day at spring training, so we all celebrated when they visited santa cruz. they stayed at our house while in town, so mike and i utilized a towel oragami book (thanks, dad!) to create a birthday cake made out of towels….yes, it was a little martha stewart-y, but pretty cool too. exercise evaluation: rolling towels for oragmi may not be incredibly physically challenging, but truly a test of mental endurance. food evaluation: we enjoyed delicious mexican entrees and margaritas (ok, not me – you all know about me and margaritas.  and if you don’t, ask mike – i don’t want to relive that story!) from palapas followed by creamy and sweet flan, all while watching the gorgeous sunset over the water.


6. last but definitely not least, we celebrated my dad’s 60th birthday in san francisco with a trip to the legion of honor to see the annie leibovitz photos and the dead sea scrolls, then headed to el mansour for a moroccan feast.  exercise evaluation: standing and looking at art work for hours can be quite challenging for the legs, not to mention the long walk we had from our car to the legion of honor and back. food evaluation: this event packed in two meals, with a brie and kalamata olive filled picnic prior to the museum and a delicious 5 course moroccan meal afterwards that was completey fabulous.


so, dear readers, there you have it: a trip through the pogan’s march madness.  in between all of the eating, exerising, and eating some more, it’s completely understandable why i didn’t blog for almost a whole month, right?!?