Pumpkin Spice Cake with Vanilla Buttercream

Pumpkin Cake

Many exciting things of the nuptial variety have been happening in our families over the past few months: one of my cousins got married, two of my other cousins got engaged, and we finally received the call from my sister-in-law Amy telling us that her boyfriend had proposed! (Sorry for using the word “finally”, Jeff, but we knew you were the dude since, like, the day we met you, so we’ve all been waiting. 😉 ) Their wedding planning is well underway, and Chris and I are excited and honored to have been asked to be members of the wedding party.

I was also incredibly honored when my mother-in-law asked me to make a cake for Amy and Jeff’s engagement party. Chris’ aunt, a seasoned baker, would be making a regular cake already. We have a fairly significant list of dietary restrictions in our group, though, so I was tasked with producing a vegan, gluten-free, soy-free cake as well.

No problemo!

(Hindsight being 20/20, this cake should and could have been nut-free also, but I made it using homemade cashew milk. Apologies to the nut-free cousins!)

After a few inquiries as to what the guests of honor might enjoy, I decided on a season-appropriate pumpkin spice cake with a hint of cardamom and a vanilla buttercream frosting. Sound good? It really was. But before I get into how good this cake is, let me first tell you that this is apparently (thankfully) a forgiving recipe.


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Vegan Among Omnivores

Proud vegan kitchen 2
We returned last Wednesday from an almost week-long visit to the Midwest. It was great to spend some time with my family, who we only see once or twice a year. Plus we were glad to be there to celebrate my cousin’s wedding and, a few days later, my not-so-little brother’s twenty-sixth birthday. However, it was also—a bit unexpectedly—the most difficult visit we’ve made yet.

We knew it would be more challenging going in. First, we’d be traveling with an active and independent toddler; the last time we took a trip like this with Roman, he wasn’t yet walking and still slept pretty easily through flights and car rides. Second, this would be the first time that we weren’t spending a good portion of our visit in the Twin Cities area. When you’re near a major metropolitan area, you can be fairly certain that you’ll have at least a couple of vegan dining options available. Pizza Luce is a staple for us whenever we visit, and we know that we can always hit up Whole Foods in either St. Paul or Minneapolis for provisions if needed. This time, we would be spending our entire visit in northern Wisconsin.

We prepared as much as we could for both of these things. We bought a set of headphones and downloaded a few episodes of Thomas for Roman and made sure to pack my entire purse and half of a small suitcase full of food and snacks (I’ll share some of my travel tips soon). Chris was pretty insistent in the days before we left that I was over-preparing food-wise. By the end of our trip, though, we were mighty thankful for Thomas the tank engine and glad for every bit of food we’d brought.

So while there were trying moments with the kiddo, and while we definitely found ourselves feeling hungry more often on this trip than others before, overall we felt that we prepared pretty well for the challenges we foresaw. What made things really difficult for us this time around was something that we didn’t see coming—how hard it would be simply being vegan in a region that is decidedly not.


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A New Leaf

Leaves of Kale
Suddenly I’m the new kid in school.  I’ve done this before, I know very basically how it all goes, but I’m walking down unfamiliar halls and everyone has yet to learn my name.  I’m not sure where I fit in.  It’s been a long time since I had to start from scratch.

If we know each other from a previous life, thanks for jumping across sites to be here.  If we’re meeting for the first time, I’m Britt.  I’ll spare the personal details for the About page, but the short story is that I used to write a food blog called GF in the City about gluten-free living in NYC.   After becoming vegan in the fall of 2011, I increasingly found myself feeling limited by the scope of that blog and decided that I needed a new, veg-friendly place to play. Enter Leaves of Kale.

I’m still gluten-free, which we’ll get into at some point, but basically just means that I bake with all kinds of crazy flours and eat a lot of quinoa.  I thoroughly enjoy food and am a firm believer that dietary restrictions don’t have to mean deprivation.  There is far more flavor and variety in my current diet than there ever was in my omnivorous, gluten-filled days.  I’m looking forward to sharing all that goodness with you here.

Another major reason for the change of address: I’ve been itching for a long time to write freely about plant-based nutrition, my favorite cruelty-free products, and my experiences as a crunchy, hippie-dippy mother to an amazing little boy.  So that’s what I’m going to do.  That and whatever else feels right.  I have a lot of hope for this space and am setting zero limitations for myself.

So here we go, kids.  School is officially in session.  Let’s see where these hallways lead.