Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dias De Los Muertos at Short Street Cakes!

On Sunday, November 1st, and Monday, November 2, we will be celebrating Los Dias De Los Muertos at the Cake Shop! Come by and help us build an altar to loved ones who have passed, and give them a chance to enjoy our offerings and blessings! We will be selling blank sugar skulls, have a decoration station where you can decorate your sugar skulls, and then take them home, or leave them on our altar! In addition, Short Street Cakes will be hosting an altar built by local immigrant rights organization Defensa Communitaria. Sugar skulls will be $5 and proceeds from the sale of the sugar skulls will benefit Defensa Communitaria. In addition, November 1 and 2 are the grand opening days for our new next-door neighbors, Bury Me Naturally and Farm Girl Flowers! And, of course, we'll have cake. And Sally Rhoden's Mulled Cider, Oh, and there's going to be a Flotilla Parade down the French Broad River! xo

Sugar Skulls with Suzie Millions!

According to Waverly Fitzgerald, author of the excellent and thorough seasonal holiday website School of the Seasons, (and many books) November 1st, or All Saints Day, is celebrated differently in many different parts of the world. From the School of the Seasons:
All the gods of the world were worshipped on this day from sunrise to sunset, goes an Irish saying. [Kightly] The Celtic Coligny calendar designates these three nights as the end of summer (which begins on Beltane, May 1st), the time when flocks are moved to the winter pastures, the beginning of the dark half of the year. The time of the last harvest, of apples and nuts, which are used for divination. The dead are honored with offerings of food: soul cakes in England, fava beans in Italy. In Mexico, offerings include bread, fruit, sweets, wax candles, flowers, liquors, cigarettes, mole, pulque, tamales. The candles burning in pumpkins, gourds or turnips light the way for the dead to return.

The Catholic feast day of All Saints was celebrated on the Sunday after Pentecost, until 609 or 610, when Pope Boniface dedicated the Pantheon to Saint Mary and martyrs on May 18th and that became the new date. This is interesting as there are other feasts of the dead in May, including the Roman Lemuria (May 9) and Memorial Day was long associated with the dead also. The date of November 1st was established in the eighth and ninth centuries.

The Irish and Scotch call this date Samhain and Samhuin and honor the dead by lighting bonfires. This is seen as the start of the dark half of the year, and since the Celts began their days at dusk, it is thus the start of the new year. In Ireland, this day is known as the feast of Moingfhionn, a demoness whose name means Whitehair, perhaps a representative of the coming winter and the old age of the year.

I wanted to learn more about the Day of the Dead traditions of Mexico, in order to incorporate those traditions into our celebrations at the Cake Shop. (Our new neighbors Bury Me Naturally and Farm Girl are having their grand opening on November 1st and 2nd- fitting opening days for a casket shop- and Short Street Cakes will be hosting a Dia De Los Muertos altar created by local immigrants rights organization Defensa Communitaria. more on both of these happenings in subsequent blog posts).

I asked local artist, author, and craft queen Suzie Millions to teach me how to make the skulls. She graciously invited me to her Tingle Alley studio to learn the craft.
Our Gracious Host:

What you will need:
Sugar skull molds. Available at
6 Tablespoons water.
Postcard size pieces of cardboard, lots of them.
5 pounds of white sugar.
1/4 cup of meringue powder. (I know, this is not my typical from-scratch recipe. The saving grace is that sugar skulls are not for eating, so it doesn't really matter that Meringue powder is made with a bunch of synthetic chemicals, right? OK, OK, by next year I will have figured out how to do these with fresh, organic, local egg whites and organic, unbleached sugar. Also by next year: Dead Bread?)

OK, here's what you do:

In a large bowl, mix the sugar and the meringue powder.
Add the water, and knead by hand, until "every grain of sugar is coated." This will have the consistency of really nice beach sand, and is probably wonderfully exfoliating for your hands (if you're into that sort of thing).

Pack the sugar tightly into your mold.

Scrape off the excess from the back of the mold, and then turn the sugar skull over onto a piece of cardboard. Leave out to dry for a day before decorating, ah like so:

Now, decorate!
Uh, we haven't quite gotten to that part yet- you can come learn with me on Sunday at the Cake Shop- but here are Suzie's finished sugar skulls for sale at LOFT downtown:

After that, Jasper, Duncan and I made a batch for ourselves at the cake shop.

On Sunday, November 1st, at the Cake Shop, we'll be decorating these sugar skulls and making an altar to honor our loved ones who have passed. Come celebrate and learn with us!

This Weekend In Cake.

On Friday, October 30, Short Street Cakes will be present at the following THREE events!

1) Birthday Party for Sugar Momma's Cookies!

I like a bakery that does one thing, and one thing only, and does it really well. That's what we strive for at Short Street Cakes, and its what Sugar Momma's has been doing consistently for four years now! (We can add to that list newcomers Pies in Disguise, but more on them later) Join Sugar Mommas as they celebrate four years as Asheville's best cookie shop, where they will be celebrating with, (what else?) a cake. Go wish them a Happy Birthday at 13 Broadway from 4-6pm.

2) Adorn Crosses the Lexington!

At 8:00pm Adorn Salon and Boutique hosts their Grand Soiree! Meet at the old location (82B N.Lexington Ave) for the Jazz Funeral procession to the new space at 58 College Street! Costume contest, food (cake), drinks, door prizes, music by "The Asheville Gentlemen" and artwork by Alli Good. Congratulations, Rebecca, Rose, Andrew, Circe, and the rest of the Adorn Crew! Love yall.

And then, there's:

See my previous post for more information.

Then, of course, there's Halloween. There's a Cover Band show. There's a Graveyard Book Party at Malaprops. There might be another Family Carnival at the Wedge, though I couldn't find any info on that. I'll be trick or treating on Montford with Jasper, who will be a robot again this year. What are your plans?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Blogapalooza 2009!

With such a whirlwind of activity going on this month, its hard to keep track. But, as usual, there ain't nothin' to it but to do it- so thusly begins my flurry of blog posts relating to local community happenings, events, celebrations, and other excitements that make the world go round.
#1: Blogapalooza (or otherwise known as Spookyblogapaloozananny)!
From the Mountain Xpress ballot page:
"The 2009 Spookyblogapaloozananny is Asheville's annual gathering to celebrate area bloggers, tweeters and social media junkies.
Now in its fourth year, the event formerly centered on bloggers has been expanded to include Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets.
The Oct 30 event is a benefit for the AHOPE. Last year, it raised $1,000 for the homeless shelter. With a $10 suggested donation, all proceeds with go to AHOPE.
It will feature music by Elephant and Albatross Party and entertainment by jugglers 40 Fingers and a Missing Tooth.
Winners in this year's balloting will be honored at Spookyblogapaloozananny, where everyone is invited to come and celebrate. The party will be held from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. at the Pump Gallery in the Phil Mechanic Building in the River Arts District.
Need suggestions for blogs to vote for? Check out Blog Asheville's blog roll."

Click here to vote; and don't forget to check your email for the validation link.

Here are my pics for Blogapalooza:
Best Food Blog: (Duh) My Life in Cake
Best Craft Blog: Crankypants
Best Writing: Hangover Journals
Best Overall: My Life in Cake
Blogger I'd Most Like to Have a Beer With: Zen
Best Art/Photos: Art Seen Asheville
Best Local Happenings: BlogAsheville
Best Political: Where's the Outrage?
Best Mommy Blogger: Edgy Mama
Most Inspirational: Small Measure
Best New Blog: Pollinate Asheville

Oh yeah, and then there's all that actual voting. Tuesday, November 3 is the Asheville City General Election. Three seats for City Council are up for grabs among six (or seven- depending on how you look at it) candidates, and Bellamy is running for re-election for Mayor. Politics are politics and "everybody knows that the dice are loaded," but still, local politics are the most direct way to make an impact on the political system. Vote, but don't just vote. Here's a link to a guide to the candidates.
Dearly Beloved,
Thank you for voting our little cake shop into the top 3 best bakeries in Mountain Xpress' Best of WNC.
We love you, too.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

More Weddings!

And... we got a record player at the shop! Come by and bring vinyl, hang out, drink coffee and eat cupcakes. we love it when you do that.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Happy Birthday, Lexi!

This is Lexi.
She's my best friend.
Friday was her Birthday!

I'm lucky that Lexi is my best friend.
Lexi, on the other hand, is lucky that I'm a cake baker. Lexi really, really likes cake. Lexi and I have been best friends since the third grade.

(Me and lex are the two girls in the middle. Please note the perm- it was intended to make me look like Little Orphan Annie. Big fan.)

And here's lex and I during the very glamorous 9th grade, I believe. Please note the heavy metal homemade denim jacket on Lexi.

And here's Lexi, enjoying her custom birthday cake: Marble Cake with Maple Sweetened Cream Cheese Icing and Toasted Pecans.
I love you, Lexi! Thank you for always being there for me, and thank you for being you. Happy Happy Birthday!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Urban Harvest Dinner: So Lovely!

Last Friday's Urban Harvest Dinner benefit for the Bountiful Cities Project was nothing short of magical. I want to share with you some images (by Naomi Johnson Photography) of the evening, and some information about the generous and amazing donors who made the benefit a success. I am always amazed at small businesses in Asheville, and the readiness to pitch in that so many business owners show. Please support these businesses who support your community! The Bountiful Cities Project is growing in new and exciting directions, and the Urban Harvest Dinner served to bring a wider group of supporters to the table, as well as helping us to envision the continued use of the Pearson garden for community celebrations in the future.

The most beautiful outhouse in Buncombe County; Pearson Garden's handbuilt cob composting toilet with living roof:

Hearth-keeper/baker-lady extraordinaire Tara Jensen baked focaccia on the Pearson Garden's community wood-fired cob oven. The DELICIOUS dough was given to us by Farm and Sparrow! Thanks Tara! Thanks, Dave!

And I cannot emphasize enough how impressive the work of the chefs was.
This is Chef Mauricio and Chef Vinnie of Artisan Catering:

And this is the meal that they prepared: spinach salad, beet salad, parsnip-carrot puree, mashed potatoes, smoked trout corn cakes and sun-dried tomato salsa, and Le Chon with red onions.

And this is Chef Andrew of Chef in Motion, showing off their offerings, which consisted of a mixed greens salad with roasted beets, candied walnut goat cheese crest, smoked bacon and stone ground mustard vinegarette; apple encrusted NC trout with romesco sauce; stuffed pork loin with sausage and mushroom ragout roulade over adobo sauce; and tomatillo lime roasted potatoes (grown on-site at the Pearson garden!)

There are so many others to thank.
Shay Brown, of Shay Brown Events and Palettes of Perfection, worked her magic to bring together vendors, decorations, and all the little details that can be overlooked, but make all the difference.

Pisgah Brewing donated the beer!
The Wine Guy gave us a discount on the wine!
Mountain Foods and the Fresh Quarter donated the produce that was not grown in the gardens. (let me just stop here and thank Ron, owner of these two businesses and also the Grove Corner Market, for being such a badass for the local community. In my 8 years of living here and working on community projects, I have always known these businesses to give back to the community consistently and kindly. Ron even gave me a pat on the back for working on this... while agreeing to give me lots of food for free. Rock on, Ron.)
Greenlife Grocery: Thanks Sam!
Sunburst Trout Company! Yum! Thank you!
Hickory Nut Gap Farm: Thank you, Jaime, for the sausage! Y'all rock!
And, for dessert, there was a collaboration between little old me, AKA Short Street Cakes, and my friends Braden and Mindy's Farm: Good Times Farms! They grew the sweet potatoes that went into the sweet potato spice cupcakes. Thanks, y'all!
Fast Lit Fuse also provided the musical entertainment for the evening. Thank y'all so much for all your hard work! It was a beautiful event!

For more information about the Bountiful Cities Project, or to find out how to get involved, go to Together we can return our cities to living on a more sustainable, more connected, and more just food system! We can start right here, in Asheville, one garden at a time.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Walsh-Cwiok 2009. Or: Hula Love

Photo Credit Laura McKay Photography
Two weekends ago I had the pleasure of taking a week long vacation with my husband and son to the borough of Brooklyn to attend the wedding of my dear friends Jen Cwiok and Kristen Walsh. I had the esteemed position of cake lady at the wedding, and was proud to stand with so many talented vendors at the proclamation of Jen and Kristen's love.
I met Jen Cwiok in 1994, in my "Introduction to Women's Studies" class at UGA. It was love at first sight; Jen was my punk rock hero. She, and her bandmates Lysa and Noel, introduced me to Short Mountain, Food Not Bombs, and anarcha-feminism, a path that would eventually lead me to the Catholic Worker movement, a degree in Social Work, and work in the rape crisis, domestic violence, and community gardening movements- and ultimately, to Asheville. Jen moved to NYC a little while after I left Athens, became a librarian, and has rocked steady for the last 15 years. She has remained an inspiration to me. About five years ago, Jen met (and fell head over heels for) Kristen. Among many other things, Kristen is a Hula Dancer. She performs traditional Polynesian Hula in various venues in NYC, and for the first few years that she and Jen were dating, Jen referred to her simply as "Hula."
So when Jen announced 9 months ago that she and Hula were getting married, I cleared the deck and made sure that everyone that got hired in the Cake Shop knew that I was going to be gone for a week during peak fall wedding season.
And on Thursday, September 17, we baked five tiers of carrot spice cake in the shop, packed up the layers into plastic bins, and me and my family drove through the night to NYC. (We had the pleasure of the road trip company of Miss Ursula Gullow, of Art Seen Asheville fame. (have you checked out her excellent blog? I suggest that you do.) Ursula got me through the 10pm to 4am driving shift with dreams, schemes, and relationship processing, but that is another story.
Friday and Saturday were filled with getting lost in Brooklyn while Jasper slept in the back of the car, mixing icings in Jen and Kristen's kitchen, icing cake layers, and doing last-minute tasks for the brides. And then, Saturday afternoon, the magic began. Held at Smack Mellon gallery in Dumbo (DUMBO = Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass), the wedding was GORGEOUS. The ceremony was lovely. I saw friends I hadn't seen in years.

The park across the street had a playground for Jasper, a river, and a big bridge with trains on it. (what more could a 4-year-old want?)

The food was amazing. The dance party rocked. And the cake went off without a hitch.

(They wanted me to help cut the cake...)
Photo Credit Makalina Abalos

And we mustn't forget the rockstar wedding cake shot of the evening:

But by far the most touching moment of the whole night was when Kristen, accompanied by two members of her South Pacific Island Dance Group performed a Hula Love Song for Jen. Swoon. Congratulations, Jen and Kristen. And thank you for inspiring me, including me, and being my friends, family, and inspiration!
Much Love,
PS: there was a Michael and a Tim!
Michael Frey, on the left, is responsible for the Short Street Cakes logo and practically all of our design work, by the way. Tim, on the right, is responsible for being awesome.