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Food Meets Function

As we are all aware, the past decade has brought gruesome news of the events occurring in Africa, particularly in Darfur and Sudan. There is an amazing organization called Jewish World Watch that made it their mission to fight against genocide. They created an initiative called the Solar Cooker Project. The women living in refugee camps after fleeing Darfur are in charge of making food, in order to cook they must venture out of the camps to collect wood for kindling. This everyday activity has turned into a nightmare for the women since they are often attacked and raped while they are out beyond the walls of the camp.

Jewish World Watch heard of these atrocities and decided a solution must be found to end these horrific occurrences. They developed a solar cooking system that uses the reflection of the sun to cook food, thereby eliminating the need for the women to collect firewood. Think back to the 70’s when people would use tin foil screens to tan outdoors, and you have the basic concept behind the solar cookers.

I find this initiative so impressive because an incredibly simple, low cost solution was created for a very grave situation.

Recently Jewish World Watch held a party celebrating the 5 year anniversary of the Solar Cooker Project and I was honored to be able to attend and support them. Some of L.A.’s most influential women chefs gathered to cater the event.

Suzanne Tracht from JAR & Suzpree
Nancy Silverton from Pizzeria Mozza & Osteria Mozza
Rochelle Huppin from Chefwear
Kajsa Alger from STREET
Natasha MacAller “Dancing Chef”

I was on cloud 9 surrounded but such amazing talent and of course incredible food!

As we entered the event, there on the floor, was an actual Solar Cooker set up baking brownies. To be able to see the product first hand and know that what reminded me of a tanning bed was a life saving device to women half way across the world really struck a chord with me. It is so easy to get caught up in our own lives and not look beyond the  needs of ourselves and our loved ones. But if we do not act as advocates for those that cannot defend themselves, who will be there to help them? In my tiny apartment I have an oven, stove top, microwave and toaster oven. All items I rarely appreciate beyond the fact of them doing their job as quickly as possible. This initiative has brought new light and awareness to everyday items that I typically take for granted.

How can you help? Visit the Jewish World Watch website here. Can’t make a donation? Donate your time! No matter what our walk of life, we each have something that we personally can contribute that will make a difference.

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Valentines Day: Lovey-dovey eats

Before I jump on into some great Valentines day treats I’d like to send out a quick hello to all our readers. It’s been quite some time since I’ve blogged. But for good reason- I’ve just returned from a month traveling in South America! Stay tuned for upcoming posts on the trip, my culinary discoveries and recipes inspired by my travels. Its a free culinary tour just for you!

I’m sure you have all been bombarded with e-mails on Valentines day sales, what to get your valentine, what to wear for your valentine etc. For a holiday based on connections and relationships it sure seems like the media is turning it more and more into a Christmas frenzy. My friend and I were talking about our V-day plans and we agreed the best gifts were homemade. Something special and made personally.

The biggest dessert trend we’ve seen this past year is the rise of the mini or single bite desserts. This trend is perfect for Valentines day since it’s usually a holiday celebrated in twos. Here are a few V-day dessert ideas done Urban Sweets style:

Mini cake pops are a great option especially dressed up with hearts

To go full-on Valentines day by plating the cake pops in red sanding sugar

A more subdued option: choose two colors (even simple brown and white) and create a mini dessert display in that theme

As many are predicting, this is the year of the “Pie Pop”. Perfect for Valentines day is a cherry pie pop. Paint little red hearts on the front to hint at the flavor within.

Pie Pops are great as a gift as well. Use a Valentines themed bag, place a piece of styrofoam at the bottom and use it as a Pie Pop display

Heart shaped meringues are a delicate little treat, but add more W-O-W by forgoing food coloring and using strawberry coulis to color and flavor these sugary pillows.

Create a bowl of Meringue hearts- simple and romantic

Planning a bigger event for more than just you and your loved one? Create a Valentines day dessert display by combining the ideas above into a sweets table that isn’t over the top (as in red, red, red), but elegant and provides many little treats to satisfy whatever the palate desires.

 

Happy Valentines Day from Urban Sweets to you!

Cupcakes for Humanity

This past week we had the honor of providing cupcakes for an incredibly special birthday party. Our client was celebrating the big 3-0! For her birthday she decided to raise money and get her friends together and build a house through Habitat for Humanity. Such an unbelievable way to spend a birthday!

We made Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting and Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with a Maple, Cream Cheese and Cinnamon Frosting topped with crunchy Heath pieces.

I also want to thank those that attended for sending me pictures to share on the blog!

Squirrels Attack Wedding Cake

10/10/10 went off with a bang, when at precisely 10:10 am a very special couple tied the knot.

This wedding was incredibly unique for many reasons. The couple got married in their backyard and actually built the path as well as the wooden gazebo they were married under.

Right before the bride walked down the isle a song was played that was written and performed by the groom (a musician). And upon completion of the ceremony, the popping of champagne bottles resonated through the yard as corks flew in the air and bubbly was poured for everyone to enjoy.

The wedding cake was very playful. The bride is a veterinarian and has brought home injured squirrels over the years. These squirrels which now live in the backyard have really become a part of the family. We decided to make the squirrels the center theme of the cake. The concept behind the cake was to have a very elegant and traditional wedding cake that was then “attacked” by squirrels.

I really enjoyed being able to do a story cake, where each tier added to the tale that was being told.

I loved that the top tier had the squirrel staking claim on the cake. Having climbed up the cake and accidentally knocking over the bride and groom topper, the squirrel began a piling up its acorns

The bottom tier had a squirrel actually biting into the cake

For the middle tier a squirrel nose was peaking out, somehow having burrowed its way into the cake and was now trying to get out again

This was actually taken before we put the squirrels on the cake, but I love the picture so much, I had to share!

Parmisu – The new healthy summer dessert!

As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I was quite excited when I arrived home to see a box of Nature’s Pride Hotdog and Hamburger buns on my doorstep!

In this video you will learn how to make a healthy summer dessert using bread!



Cupcakes and Butterflies

The good news is that Wedding Season is in full swing and we have been working on some wonderful cakes! The bad news is due to our orders I haven’t been able to blog in a while. I’ll try to amp it up!

A few weeks ago we were involved in a fabulous Bat Mitzvah party. The event was an outdoor luncheon and the theme was bright colors and butterflies.

Looking at the photos it is hard to believe that the client did not use a party planner! They did all the designing themselves. Even creating the adorable cupcake stands to match their theme.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to take any pictures at the event. But my client was incredibly generous in sharing their personal pictures for the blog.

Every table had alternating bright colors to keep the yard looking fresh

The tents had these cute butterflies attached to the posts

Every cupcake stand had a different color scheme. We made regular and mini cupcakes in a variety of bright colors to match the event colors. We also used a bright, multicolored cupcake liner so that the entire display really “popped”.

On each cupcake stand there was a special cupcake with a fondant medallion that had the Bat Mitzvah girl’s initial piped on it.

The floral arrangements were stunning and really helped tie in the overall theme.

As the centerpiece for the Buffet table there was a personalized “tree” that had family photos dangling from its branches. Such a great idea to make the buffet extra personal!

Eventful Events

This past weekend we participated in the LA Cupcake Challenge. It was a great event! Tons of awesome people (over 600 to be exact!), great music and tons of delicious cupcakes of course! While the results have yet to be posted, I wanted to share some shots from the event.We made Apple Spice Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Buttercream

Each cupcake was topped with a handmade chocolate leaf

Another fun event we were involved in recently was a cake demo for a Mother/Daughter event at a local elementary school. It was a two-part demo. In the first segment I showed everyone how to make fancy looking cakes at home that don’t require special tools or techniques. I then showed what goes into making an Urban Sweets cake. It was fun to see the moms just as excited as the girls!

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