Rosewater and Cardomom

My roommate and I made these last night. They are the first of many experiments in vegan cupcake baking. We were especially excited about the cupcake texture (not gross or dry like many vegan baked goods often are) and the quality of the buttercream. They also smell like a rose garden.

Some of them had green sparkles like this:

Others we decided to decorate like this:

We made about 18 but ended up with this many after everyone ate them and we donated some to our friends:

The kitchen still smells really good. This is such a perfect springtime cupcake.


Countdown to veganness

In 8 days, I will probably become what my roommate Caity calls an "American vegan." That means I'll be a vegan as much as I can, when I can, as long as it doesn't significantly detract from my quality of life. We Americans, you see, are all about freedom, even at the expense of certain bovine animals, or people in developing countries. It honestly won't be a big change because I'm a strict vegetarian (no gelatin, no animal rennet cheese if I can help it, etc.). I'm mostly excited about using the cookbooks my S.O. recently gave me:

Vegan With a Vengeance
Vegan Cupcakes Take over the World

I've written about the latter before. I'm actually about to try out 3-4 of the recipes, which will yield roughly 48 cupcakes, if anyone is interested. I'm much more excited about all the great recipes in Vegan with a Vengeance, like BBQ Pomegranate Tofu and Chili sin Carne al Mole and *ahem* "Revolutionary Spanish Omelet wtih Saffron and Roasted Red Pepper-Almond Sauce." Yes, it sounds foofy but anyone who recommends having 5 different kinds of vinegar in one's pantry probably has a sophisticated enough palette to not substitute foof for flavor.

Visit Isa adn watch Post Punk Kitchen at www.theppk.com


Tell me what to do with my hair


Miranda July hair: yes or no?


I still love technology, always and forever

I'm FINALLY home. Yay! It's been kind of amazing, too, because I got to watch the next two discs of Veronica Mars, which may now be my favorite detective show, and eat Greensprout for dinner.

Today I woke up to find this gem: Peel. It's a blog aggregator (kind of like the Hype Machine), but looks like itunes, and lets you stream or download music straight from blogs on your list. The actual thing looks like this:

You can even look at blogs in it like this:

Get it while it's free. I've been playing around with it for about 30 minutes and I'm already in love.


Snow fortresses and delirious dreams

I am stuck in Chicago due to a snowstorm in the north and rainstorms in the south. There aren't any planes coming into the city for us to leave on. After spending the day at the airport yesterday, we finally got a hotel. The roads are so snowy that you can't see the lanes at all and we're isolated from everything anyway so there is nothing to do. At least I'm with friends, but I had to cancel my party and not be home for Valentine's Day.

Bah! That's all I have to say about that. I kind of consider it a forced vacation. I finally slept more than 5 hours in a row. At least now I have time to work on my thesis. I'm about....3 weeks and 20 pages behind.

It's time for some Against Me! and productivity.


Yesterday and yesteryear, the feeling in the atmosphere is fine

So I'm looking out of a 15th floor window in downtown Chicago and there is so much snow and wind that I can barely see outside. It's been a brutally cold weekend and now I'm stuck here until the airline decides to uncancel my flight. Snow is so much more idyllic and pretty when it isn't gathered atop ugly concrete buildings. I'm a block away from the Magnificent Mile but it's wayyyyyyy too cold for shopping. Bah!

I posted my thoughts about Valentine's Day last week. I'm actually kind of excited about this year because we're are having a dinner party with a bunch of our friends. We're going to try out a couple of vegan recipes I've been working on and make cheesy heart shaped candies and maybe decorate some cookies. Who needs bitterness about Valentine's Day when you can reinvent the holiday?

In other news, I gave Charles, who just had his computer stolen, a bunch of random music this weekend that I hope he likes. Most of it was albums I really couldn't do without.

Here are some of my favorites:
Edna's Goldfish: Sunrise to Sunset
Am I the only one who thinks this guy sounds like he could be Michael Jackson if he was a little bit crazier?

Green Day: Going to Pasalaqua
I know we all grew up listening to Dookie and thought it was totally awesome at the age of 10, but 1,039 Smoothed Out Slappy Hours is my favorite of their albums.

Rehasher: Lift!
Rehasher is Roger from Less Than Jake, and some other guys. An adolescent guilty pleasure, I know, but I think Off Key Melodies is a really solid album. Karim and I are both huge Less Than Jake fans. I gave it to him as part of a birthday present and we've loved it ever since. "Lift" is about how awesome music can make you feel when the world is treating you like crap.

Matty Popchart: The Sun Lights Strong
I met Matty when he toured with Kimya Dawson a few years ago. The show was poorly publicized so there weren't a lot of people there, but it was awesome because everyone just sort of hung out and sat on the floor and listened to them play. Matty's incredibly shy and cute, and sometimes plays this tiny little piano. I really love this song because it reminds me of his innocence. You can't really talk to Matty without wanting to give him a hug and ask him to be your BFF.

There are a lot of others but I don't really have time to post about them. The snow is dying down so perhaps I will go shopping after all.


Cruelty-Free Eating

I've always been a bit of a foodie, though more so since I became a vegetarian years and years ago. I've tried to take the plunge into veganism several times, including a trial run at being a raw foodist. With my schedule, and having to eat at the university cafeteria and random resteraunts when I travel, veganism is next to impossible. Even my roommate, the "American vegan" ("American" because she does it when she wants to, and doesn't when she doesn't), seems to have difficulty finding things to eat without having to spend a lot of time cooking for herself every night.

Luckily, I don't mind cooking at all, and I own enough vegan cookbooks to fill a small library. Why, then, haven't I become a vegan yet? I really don't know. I've got all the nutrition stuff figured out, and I'm really good about combining foods properly, not eating a lot of bad starches, and getting the right proteins.

I think I might be ready to take the plunge. After reading a couple of vegan cooking blogs for awhile, I've decided that I can give up sharp cheddar for Seitan Chipotle Mole, boring lunches for fun ones, and baked goods for even better baked goods.

I'm giving myself until the end of the month to get the desire for dairy out of my system, try some cheese substitutes and figure out what I've been eating that has secret un-vegan ingredients. After that, I'll probably post pictures and recipes as I borrow or invent them.

*the picture is from my favorite food blog, Vegan Yum Yum.


the color of pomegranates and pistachio, the sky and bright spring leaves

Days like this (cloudy, cold, wet) are devastatingly depressing, so I've been trying to distract myself with happier, or at least more comforting things. I had lunch with my friend Rob at Greensprout, followed by dessert at Alon's and a walk around the Morningside neighborhood, around the corner from Movies Worth Seeing. The sweet and sour "shrimp" was especially good today, as was the pear concoction I had at Alon's. Hanging out with Rob was all really great and relaxing, but the weather still made me really sleepy.

I came home to finish reading a book for my thesis before starting on some more laborious tasks. Lipstick Jihad is probably the best of the genre of post-revolution Iranian women's life-writing that I've read. Better than Persepolis, you ask? Yes, but only because Lipstick Jihad is more profound without being academic. Persepolis has its own strengths, and is fundementally very political. Lipstick Jihad, however, captures the experience of growing up Iranian in America so well that I can't stand it. I've had to take breaks from reading it just to let it all in and keep myself from crying. Azadeh Moaveni has really called me out on my romanticization of my "Iranian identity," which, ironically, took me years to acknowledge, let alone embrace. Her ability to write about the feeling of being racially, nationalistically, and ethnically in limbo because of one's relationship to physical space is really impressive. Along the way, she also traces the silent revolutionary back-and-forth of young Iranians who break rules and literally risk their lives to participate in public space. She captures the chilling obsession with privacy and the specter of Revolutionary Iran that haunts every second generation Iranian growing up in the U.S. Reading Lipstick Jihad makes me want to write my own autobiography, not as a revelation to the world of my deepest secrets, or even out of some narcissistic desire to draw attention to myself, but because it seems like the only appropriate response to all of the books I am reading that were written to represent people like me, and that feel like they are about my life. It never feels good to be reduced one face among the herd, but it isn't so bad when the herd has shared pathology, desires for freedom, and responses to authority.

My favorite paragraph is the very last:
All our lives were formed against the backdrop of this history, fated to be at home nowhere--not completely in America, not completely in Iran. For us, home was not determined by latitudes and longitudes. It was spatial. This, this was the modern Iranian experience, that bound the diaspora to Iran. We were all displaced, whether internally, on the streets of Tehran, captives in living rooms, strangers in our own country, or externally, in exile, sitting in this New York bar, foreigners in a foreign country, at home together. At least for now, there would be no revolution that returned Iran to us, and we would remain adrift. But the bridge between Iran and the past, Iran and the future, between exile and homeland, existed at these tables--in kitchens, in bars, in Tehran or Manhattan--where we forgot about the world outside. Iran had been disfigured, and we carried its scraps in our pockets, and when we assembled, we laid them out, and we were home.

On a lighter and less personal note, the Arcade Fire got manhandled in London.

Also, I am out of T.V. to watch, now that Top Chef is done, Top Design looks like it sucks, and I don't get Showtime. Suggestions?


We'll always have Canada

While I've lived in the South for a good chunk of my life, I'm actually a midwestern girl. I spent about half of my life in Nebraska before moving to a bunch of southern cities. Truthfully, I remember very little about life among the cornhusks, but it does hold an idyllic place in my memory. Listening to bands from the mid-west takes me back to nice people and mid-western accents, flat land and freezing cold winters.

Some of my favorites:

Maritime: James

Maritime "formed out of the ashes of the Promise Ring and the Dismemberment Plan" back in '03. They're from Milwaukee (that's mid-western, right?) and really upbeat and fun to listen to, in a totally mid-western kinda way.

Troubled Hubble: 14,000 Things to Be Happy About

Troubled Hubble is from Illinois. Their website claims that they are "proof that relentless good cheer, mountains of hard work, and a knack for pop hooks don't always lead to disappointment, shattered dreams, and office jobs." I never really thought good cheer, hard work, or pop hooks lead to shattered dreams or office jobs, but I think you'll get the appropriateness of that description after listening to them.

The Good Life: Album of the Year (acoustic)

Tim Kasher, like me, is from Omaha. He started The Good Life after Cursive. He has become somewhat of an icon for disillusioned mid-western youth (although clearly not as much as Conor Oberst, with whom he was in Commander Venus when they were wee little boys). Although Cursive got to tour for the Cure, I still like The Good Life better because 1. they mention Omaha a lot more, and 2. they manage to be every bit as angry and sad as Cursive without sounding like it.

There are a lot of other Saddlecreek bands I could mention, like The Faint, Bright Eyes, Azure Ray, etc. etc. etc. I appreciate them all a lot, but they don't quite remind me of the mid-west of my childhood in the same way that The Good Life does. Granted, Omaha has changed a lot since I lived there as a 9-year-old, and I'm not suprised that it produced so many expressions of desperation and desperation.

In West Coast news, Asian Man Records as a deal right now where you can get 25 random CDS for $25. They did something similar with LPs a few years ago and it was awesome. Check out the catalogue here and order the cds from the main page. Support Mike Park, one of my favorite people in the world, and get a bunch of CDs in the process!