I had the pleasure to not only attend, but give a baking demo, at Chicago VeganMania 2010 this year! The whole week before, Vegan Week: The Ultimate (which I made a huge blog post about on Seitan Beats Your Meat, here), was leading up to this giant vegan party!
Estimated number of cookies baked during that week: 25 dozen, or 300
To kick off the cookie baking for the week, Isa asked me to make cookies for her demo at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Culinary Activism: Becoming a Baketivist and Beyond. I was totally up for it, of course, and spent Wednesday evening making Ginger Cookies, Chocolate Peppermint Creme Bars (recipe here), and Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies.
Jamming out while baking.
There were some leftover chocolate peppermint creme bars that were quickly hidden from everyone, so they went home with Lindsay. Look how happy she is! And that was before she got all the bars!
After a fun-filled Thursday at UWM, Friday was devoted to baking. Louzilla flew in from Pennsylvania, so her and I, and my friends Ryan and Corey prepared for Chicago VeganMania.
I put them to work sticking labels on postcards for the demo.
Whole Foods in Milwaukee carries a giant 2lb tub of Earth Balance, so we just HAD to get it for this mass cookie-baking.
This is what 2lbs of Earth Balance looks like!:
By 2:30am, I finally got mostly everything planned out. Everyone else was asleep. Then it was time for bed.
Set up for baking demo the next day:
All the cookies. Chai Cookies (made by Louzilla and Corey), Chocolate Peppermint Creme Bars, and Hypnosis Cookies.
Then it was the day of Vegan Maniacs. Chicago VeganMania 2010!
I got up at 6am (a whole 3 hours of shut eye!) and got ready quickly, knowing the clock was ticking.
Upon arriving, the first person I ran into was Fran Costigan, then the super sweet Gina showed us to the kitchen to store our supplies for our demos.
Marla the Vegan Cupcake Fairy was floating around making sure everything was going smoothly! The first time I met Marla was at the Chicago Diner last July where she asked me if I would be interested in doing a demo at VeganMania. Of course I was!
A few days earlier, she posted about these adorable bottlecap necklaces on the VeganMania Facebook page, so I asked her where they were being sold so I could get one of my own.
Turns out, the one I picked she made herself! ❤
In a couple weeks or so, the necklaces (as well as shirts) will go on sale on the website to raise money for next year's VeganMania! Follow their Facebook page (posted above) and check the website to get your very own necklace or shirt and donate to veganism!
Shortly after getting situated, we made a few rounds at the exhibitor hall, then got really HUNGRY. On the way to get food we found Isa and John. We had a brief discussion about our honeymoon plans. See, we’re getting married in Maui next year.
Luckily Soul Veg was there to take care of our hungry vegan needs, and we took ourselves outside to sit and eat for awhile before Isa had to get ready for her first presentation.
Mac n cheese, greens, and BBQ seitan (which I, of course, spilled on my shirt and had to change my shirt twice. good thing I brought extra clothing!).
Isa also did her Baketivist presentation at VeganMania.
Bake sales, ft. PDX PPKers!
All these people (and more!) had their eyes fixed on Isa and were listening attentively. She’s so goddamn awesome at what she does AND pretty: cooking abilities and mainstream appeal!
They’re starstruck. Louzilla and Isa.
Lou, Ryan, Corey, and I got Gyood ice cream, then went to Isa’s demo, pumpkin bisque!
This is pumpkin ice cream! So much pumpkin all at once.
Isa demo-ing and John and the amazing VeganMania volunteers preparing samples.
After the demo, we walked around more, saw a few more people, and then decided we needed to step out and take a breather! It was 3pm at this point and my demo was at 4:45pm.
Lou, Ryan, Corey, and I walked over to Veggie Bite and got coffee shakes. I was already in a food coma and for some reason, thought it would be a good idea to get a large. Couldn’t finish it!
Ryan just got cheeze fries, but I let him try my shake. He promptly got up and ordered one of his own.
It was time to go back to the kitchen and prepare for my demo(!!). This would be my first baking demo/speech of the vegan persuasion, so this is how I got pumped.
Then it was demo time! I got set up with the help of Louzilla, Ryan, Corey, Ellie, Isa, and John.
Photo by Ellie Johnson
Isa introduced me before the demo. I almost got teary eyed before I even got started!
Photo by Louzilla Ryan
Photo by Ellie Johnson
In my presentation I discussed how my book came about (and made a really bad Hannah Montana joke…Louzilla and Ellie laughed!), substitutions when veganizing a recipe, demonstrated chilling and rolling hypnosis cookie dough, melting chocolate, and set up a food porn shot and explained my process of food photography.
This is the photo I took during the demo. Did I follow my own instructions? Note: I would recommend doing something about the condensation if this photo was going to be for real.
The demo ended with a Q&A session.
Photo by Christine Gurnik
This ending marked the end of VeganMania (well, for us at least. the after party was 21+). We all relaxed in the square until it was time to leave.
I promise, we were happier than we look.
Photo by Ellie Johnson
Luckily life didn’t go back to “normal” until Monday morning because Louzilla was still staying with me til then. We went and got food at the Riverwest Co-op and Comet Cafe to make sure Vegan Week: The Ultimate didn’t end too abruptly.
This was the best week ever, ever. So much great food, even better company. I finally got to meet Isa after nearly 5 years of PPKing and cooking from the books (and in the process, destroying my copy of VwaV. it’s held together by tape now.), and she is even more amazing and wonderful in person. I met a few new vegans, and had an absolute blast! I think the equivalent to VeganMania and Vegan Week: The Ultimate would be cuddling in bed with a bunch of puppies and eating vegan cupcakes.
Thank you to everyone who made this such a wonderful experience!