Posts Tagged ‘birthday


Purple Haze and Birthdays…….

I am not necessarily a tradition based person.  We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas with any sort of tradition.  In fact, we haven’t celebrated either of those two holidays for 2 years now.  They are merely two paid holidays from work.  That being said, I seem to have fallen into a tradition in October that used to only be reserved for my Halloween born grandson.

For the past three years I have made a special birthday cake for my friend and grasshopper, Emily.  Her birthday falls on October 15th.  Emily made several delicious home-made pizzas and I made a spice cake with cream cheese frosting for her 24th birthday.  For her 25th birthday last year, we celebrated by going bowling and eating the Root Beer Cake.  As Emily is maturing to the ripe old age of 26th, her birthday cakes are evolving as well.  We decided several months back that this was the year of the Purple Haze cake.

Crazy delicious cake!

I used my Red Velvet cake recipe and substituted Wilton gel violet food coloring for the “traditional” red color.  Although I had hoped the cake would be a more distinct purple color after it was baked, it was still a huge hit.  I’d like to think it was my crazy baking talent that made it so tasty, but perhaps it was the “special” butter used in the frosting  between the  four layers  that made it truly an experience.  As the late Jimi Hendrix would say “Are you experienced?”  After eating the Purple Haze cake, everyone was indeed experienced.

A light, birthday nosh and the Purple Haze cake

Emily wanted salad platters for her birthday meal.  She mentioned seeing salad platters in food magazines and she wanted them for her birthday dinner.  We ate kinda late, as she and Chuck came directly to our house from Breitenbush Hot Springs where they had spent the night and then spent the day soaking in hot springs, being pampered with soothing massage treatments and feasting on amazing vegetarian cuisine.  They were ready to continue eating  healthy fare and then indulge in a wicked treat of a birthday cake.

Emily did all of the food styling on the platters

I roasted potatoes earlier in the day, as well as crisp stirred fresh organic green beans.

We love our grains!

A couple of days before her birthday, Emily and I brainstormed about what we wanted on the platters.  We got all organized and made a list of possibilities.  There were a few more items on that list, but what I managed to throw together, I’d say everyone was more than satisfied with the food of the weekend.

Feta cheese on the outsides of the platter, moving in to the wheat berrie salad and then spicy quinoa  in the center, topped by chili powder sprinkled avocado slices.  So simple.  So good!

Tastes so good and it's so good for you

A little do ahead work and you have a light meal

The potatoes were tossed with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, dried oregano, dried basil, garlic and onion powder and roasted in a 350 degree oven until done.  I sautéed the green beans in peanut oil, fresh chopped garlic, red pepper flakes, kosher salt and cracked pepper.  A splash of some mirin and put the lid on to lightly steam the beans for a minute.  They stayed bright green and very snappy.

We also had a bowl of mixed greens from the garden dressed with a creamy pesto concoction that I whipped up from what I had on hand.

And then came dessert………………………………

I was going for a certain look....

Ok, so when I think Purple Haze, I think hippies, tye dye, trippin’, Jimi Hendrix music (duh).  I envisioned a cake that looked like it was tye dyed.  This cake look more like stained glass window on the top (which was pretty cool) and the tye dye on the sides reminded me of some kinda medallions.  At any rate, it was a fun cake to make and it made an excellent conversation piece.  We kept it center stage on the table and sat around it, almost in worship.   But eventually we had to cut it.

It had to be done

See, it doesn’t really look purple in the picture, but it really had a purple tint to it in real life.  The frosting is my favorite vanilla butter cream.  The frosting between the layers  has coconut and almond extract.  The outer frosting is tinted vanilla.  It was a damn good cake.

Emily kept saying “this is the best birthday ever!”  Coulda’ been her best birthday ever.  Coulda’ been that she was exhausted from a spa day and a long drive.  Coulda’ been a belly full of delicious, nutritious food.  Or it coulda just been the cake talkin’.’


Classes and birthdays and life, Oh my!

So, have you missed me?  Wondering if poor old Vampire Gran has fallen off the face of the earth?  Nope, just been having lots of fun!  I’ve taught two cooking classes in the past two weeks, one in my home kitchen and the other at the New Seasons Market Cooking School in Happy Valley.  Both of the classes were so rewarding for my students as well as for myself.   I took a chance and posted a shout out on for anyone interested in learning how to cook vegetarian fare.  A sweet young woman named Jess answered my ad and she and three of her friends came to my home and spent 2 delightful hours in my kitchen.  I taught them how to make Chili Cheese Tart and Tofu Veggie Stir Fry over Basmati Rice.  Yummy aromas wafted throughout the house and the ladies had a wonderful time, sipping wine, learning to roll corn meal crust, lining tart pans and filling it with spicy, cheese goodness.  They were amazed at how simple browning  tofu and then adding bottled teriyaki glaze to it transformed bland white bean curd into caramelized, salty sweet protein.  Lots of chopping sounds erupted as the girls cut onions, broccoli, red bell pepper, garlic and carrots into bite size pieces.  I taught them how to quickly stir fry the veggies and then toss in the prepared tofu.  A few splashes of tamari and chili paste and it was time to eat.  I only wish I had pictures to share with you.  Jess took lots of photos and I have requested some from her, but have not received them yet.  If she comes through, I will be sure to add them to this post.  

Class Schedule from New Seasons Market Cooking School. That's my birthday gift from my wife it's leaning against - a beautiful red Kitchen Aid Food Processor that matches the stand mixer she got for me last summer.

Last Thursday was spent preparing and teaching a Scones 101 class at New Seasons Market Cooking School.  What a fantastic place to teach!  Lots of counter space, individual stations for the students and with a huge specialty supermarket right outside the door, it was a cinch to shop and prepare for this class.  I had six students in the class and they all got to make their very own scones.  It was interesting to see all the combinations they came up with.  From very simple date and nutmeg all the way to coconut, chocolate chip, pecan,and  cranberry!  That kitchen smelled heavenly.  

In addition to all of this teaching plus going to work all week, my spouse and I each celebrated a birthday!  My wife’s birthday was on Monday February 1st and mine was today, Monday February 8th.  Since we share a birth month, I decided we should celebrate all month long.  It’s been fun so far.  We actually started celebrating early when my wife’s boss took us out for dinner the Friday before her birthday.  We went to one of our favorite Thai restaurants, E San in the Pearl District here in Portland, Oregon.  Our friends Lisa and Kelly were in attendance and it was a nice party.  Robert, the boss, spoiled us with a box of hand selected chocolates from Moonstruck Chocolate and a tin of Mexican Hot Cocoa.  

When I arrived home from work the Friday before my birthday, there was a big box waiting on our front porch.  I knew Katie had ordered something for my birthday and she was worried that it would not arrive on time.  It was a pleasant surprise when it arrived a bit early.  Since the writing on the outside blatantly told me what was within, the cat was out of the bag.   I sent Katie a text telling her the package had arrived.  She called me immediately and told me to open it, since I knew what was inside.  I put down the phone and eagerly slit open that brown box.  I lifted out the inner box and was stunned.  Katie had given me my dream food processor!  Empire red to match my Kitchen Aid mixer that she had gifted me with this past summer.  Little did she know that I had coveted and dreamed of owning that particular machine.  It had been in my vibrational escrow for at least  5 years!  And now it was mine!  I can’t wait to start using and writing about all the fantastic delicacies that will be coming out of that glorious red beast. 

So, now that I have you caught up a bit, I’m going to catch my breath, get a little rest and will be back very soon to write more and share more pictures of the luscious things that have come out of Vampire Gran’s kitchen.



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