Monday, September 17, 2012

Whole Grain Pumpkin Spice Cakes...and College Care Packages (vegan/dairy free)

While writing the last article, I had many of the world's recent cacophony  tumbling around my mind.  Little did I know, the hate and violence that is occurring in parts of the world would rear its ugly hands all the way to 
our world, 
my world, 
my daughter's world.

Yes.  The events of discord unfurling in the world reached down to our little corner as well.

Last Friday I received a text from my daughter that said, "Mom, I'm o.k., in car heading out of town.  Bomb threat campus-wide evac. Will text soon."

I immediately realized that this could be possibly related to global events.  I remained calm.  I become eerily calm in situations that induce panic.  I am grateful for that tendency.

The entire campus was on a complete evacuation.  Students were told to get as far away from campus as possible.
Every building.
Every dorm.
Every street...was to be evacuated immediately.

Multiple bombs were supposedly planted in numerous locations all over the sprawling campus.

"Was this a hoax?"  I wondered as my fingers shot off rapidfire texts to my husband.

But before this succession of thoughts filed into my mind, it surprised and slightly irritated me that my very FIRST inclination was to wonder...

"If she is in a car...does she have a seatbelt on?"

Yes.  Indeed.  I admit it. This was my very first thought in response to this text. Typical mother's thoughts in a very atypical situation.  Wearing a seatbelt (or not) was much easier to process at that moment than multiple bombs planted all over the college campus about to be detonated.

Such is reality when the news around you hits home and the magnitude of it is difficult to grasp and nothing short of surreal.

All ended well on Friday.  50,000 students were safely evacuated off of a sprawling campus, throwing the city streets into complete gridlock for hours afterwards.

My daughter spent the day in a safe place, with students representing 5 other nationalities.

They helped each other.  
They respected each other.
They laughed and ate with one another

We decidedly thought, after the emotional jolt of the day, that over the weekend, we would organize the first official "college care package" to send to our daughter.

She adores fall.  So do I.  The earth changes so dramatically in smells with the falling leaves, the rolling winds, and the soaking rains. Last year around this time, we were fluttering from one college campus to another at the beginning of the college decision making process.

The leaves were turning color, the air was getting crisp, and we wrapped ourselves up in mitts, caps, and scarves and drove through many lovely hills from one college campus to another.

For breakfast one morning, we stopped at an adorable restaurant that caught our eye in passing.  It ended up being warm and toasty inside and specialized in all sorts of coffee beans from around the world.

Madeleine ordered a whole grain spice muffin.  She loved it and mentioned that muffin several times during the rest of the trip.

So...we "pinterest'ed" around and came up with these "Whole Grain Pumpkin Spiced Cakes"  They happen to be made with whole foods, dairy free, and vegan too!

Making these little cakes was a sensory delight.  Pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, coconut milk, and cloves being stirred together, all created such tickling scents of autumn.

The whole wheat flour gave these spice cakes a dense texture and a beautiful dark color.  And the scent baking in the oven!  It can easily be imagined!

So a care package is arranged.  A trip to the post office will occur.  Enough spice cakes are en route to share with all of the new friends that bonded in that one day....when a campus of 50,000 fled in terse panic, wondering if the hate that filled our lives on September 11, 2001, would once again engulf us in continued violence, suffering, and pain.

My heart goes out to all of the kids attending college who are worried that fingers will be pointed at them, glances of suspicion will be sent their way, and whispers of malice will be unfurled before long.

So, this care package will be opened, shared, and enjoyed by all those newly developed friends...who hopefully will move forward and change this world for the better.

We believe in the integrity, ability to love not hate, and resilience of humankind.  Hopefully, there is a solution to the mistakes made in the past and being made in the present that can pave the ways for diplomacy, peace, and renewed tolerance for the many faiths that should and can peacefully occupy this planet Earth.

Whole Grain Pumpkin Spice Cakes...vegan and dairy free

1 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour or whole grain gluten-free flour mix
1/2 cup raw coconut sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice mix (or a combination of cinnamon and nutmeg, and cloves)
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup apple butter
1/4 cup olive oil
2/3 cup non-dairy milk (e.g., almond, coconut, rice)
Optional:  Next time, I will dice up little squares of apple and add that to the batter.

Preheat oven to 350˚F 
Lightly grease mini-muffin pan.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pumpkin pie spice mix.

In another bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, applesauce, olive oil and milk.

Add to flour mixture and stir just until moistened and blended (do not over mix)

Spoon batter into greased mini-muffin pan.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar (if desired)

Bake for 15 - 20 minutes.Makes 16 muffins.


  1. Beautiful and moody.
    Delicious cookies.
    I love pumpkin!

  2. What a beautiful post. I saw that evacuation on TV. Scary! Glad everyone is well and safe. What a sweet little vimeo and care package, too!

  3. You are an extraordinary film maker. I love everything about this post and can't wait to try the recipe. I have those little molds, too - they used to be my moms and are perfect for fall muffins.

    1. I had so much fun with the little molds. I was amazed how well the shape of the cakes came out...I was so afraid they would all stick and make a huge mess.

  4. Your video took me in a different era.. An era of elegance and charm, where everything is just prefect, the letter pad, the candle, the cake mold... and above all the emotions involved..
    Beautiful Sarah!!!
    I saw this scary event on TV, Hope and wish your daughter is always safe and happy in her college...

    1. Thank you Reem. She ended up being treated to an Indian dinner by the family where she stayed for the day!

  5. I can't even imagine your emotions after getting that text from your daughter...what a horrifying experience. I think the making and packing of these lovely cakes is a perfect symbolic answer to it. I find sending care packages helps keep me feeling connected to my daughters, so I send a lot of them! So glad your daughter is ok.
    Oh, and almost forgot, that is your best video yet!

    1. Sending care packages is so much fun. I already have items tucked away for my favorite month of the year...October!! Don't you wish we had people who would send US a care package! Geeez...what do we have to do to get one in return????

  6. I'm glad everything turned out ok with your daughter's school- that is so scary. This post is so creative and it really gets me in the mood for fall.

  7. I'm especially loving your photography today. So autumnally-inspired, with the lovely acorns and oak leaves. Like your new photography portfolio website, too:)

    I'm glad your daughter, and all the campus students, turned out to be safe. We had so many bomb threats and closed-down buildings during my time at university that I've become very desensitized - the words 'bomb threat' mean very little to me now. Even campus stabbings and shootings don't disturb me like they once would have. It's a shame, really, and kind of disgusting...

    1. Emma, thank you for noticing my portfolio changes! We're slowly working on organizing it so it is still "in the works". Bomb threats meant little to me too (NYU....weekly occurrences) but post 911 and with the events happening in the M.E. right now, I did stop and worry about this one.

  8. words are inadequate for such a beautiful,beautiful post...typing is hard right now through tear filled sobs. Thank you for the beauty and solace you put out into the world....thank you.

    1. Tamera, we certainly are two peas in a pod, aren't we? Are you missing your daughter? Is she having the time of her life? I'm coming over for a visit to see how you are doing.

  9. Sarah, I love pumpkin and your post is just breathtaking! Lovely photos and beautiful words - thank you!

  10. Beautiful post and the touch of Autumn is enlightening...
    Love the vintage props used here too...
    Thank God that your daughter and the rest are safe...take care

  11. That's wonderful for a care package. One of my girlfriends was back in Austin visiting and was on campus at the time of the evacuation. She and five college kids camped out at Kerbey Lane until further notice. I'm glad everything ended up being okay.

    1. Rooth, I felt so sorry for all of the kids who weren't sure where to go and just stood out on the sidewalks in the rain. It must have been one very long day for some students!

  12. Oh these are gorgeous. I have a similar baking pan with such beautiful shapes. I'm going to try your recipe:)

  13. How totally scary! I am like you - I go icy calm in a crisis while my husband throws a fit. I remember once flying towards a precipice in an out-of-control car and thinking very calmly that this was the end but that it was okay. We stopped right on the edge in a squeal of brakes but I have always remembered that feeling of being completely fatalistic about the outcome.
    I am glad to hear all turned out well for your daughter. Love, love that video.

    1. Wow. Suzanne, that must have been a situation that you can replay in minute detail. I'm wondering if you were behind the wheel or if you were the helpless passenger. What an incident, for sure.

  14. Oh, what a gut-twisting phone call to get -- I am so glad everyone is happy and safe! (It reminds me of when I called my parents from New York City on 9/11 "Mom, Dad, just wanted to let you know I'm okay" -- it was very early in the day and they hadn't even seen the news yet!)

    I know your daughter and her friends will surely appreciate these muffins from home, made with love and hope.

  15. Sarah, I was the passenger. I think if I was the driver, I might have been too busy trying to bring it under control to be fatalistic. LOL.
    By the way, I still don't get notifications of your posts, so I check regularly.

    1. I wonder what I should do? I really haven't a clue. I might try to "google" the topic and see what comes up. Do you have Blogspot? Did you have to "set something up" or does it just happen automatically.

  16. First I'm in love with your blog and your photography.

    My son just moved out so I just sent off his first care package. He's so far I didn't do baked goods though.

    I cannot imagine the fear you felt when you got that text. Thankfully everyone is okay.

    Great recipe and cakes. They are beyond beautiful!

    1. Thank you Kim Bee. I'm thinking as new moms whose kids are "away" at college, we'd better start keeping some cash handy to stick in those care packages!! Baked goods will be nice at first but I think it will turn!!

  17. I'm so sorry you had to deal (however calm) with that terrible scare. I so relate to your seatbelt reaction! We love our children so much and the world can be such a bad place. But I love that your daughter spent her time with her diverse friends, comforting, calming and eating - I like to think of that future.
    Mary oxo

  18. This is such a lovely post Sarah and it is terrible that we have to worry about the every day well being of our children in the most elemental way. I am glad all is well and that your daughter formed meaningful friendships in the process.

    What a lovely thing to do Sarah. The cakes are beautiful and I love the idea of adding chopped apples. Love all the pics. Love your words more.

    hugs! DEVAKI @ weavethousandflavors

  19. Your video was such a joy to watch--I hope my editing skills get to that level some time soon! I'm glad to see that you're enjoying Autumn as much as I am and yes, there is such sadness in the world but baking seems to ease the least a bit. Thank you for sharing!!!

  20. Glad to hear she and the others on campus are safe! And what a beautiful old baking pan, really charming.

  21. It was such a relief when everything was fine on campus. Great to hear your daughter made new friends and something good came out of the day. The cakes look amazing. I can almost smell the cinnamon and nutmeg from the photos!

    1. Lisa, I sure hope you didn't have to go out that day! I heard the traffic was at a standstill for hours. Oiy.

  22. What a beautiful post. So sad that our kids live in fear of these kinds of threats....but so good to know that everyone was safe. And what a gorgeous recipe!!!

  23. Glad to hear your daughter was OK but I understand your angst when I dont heard about my twins Im not comfortable until know they are OK (they have 18)
    This is a lovely post Sarah:)

  24. Your blog is just beautifuli I love how your photos tell the story behind the words. Just lovely!

  25. Sarah, Loved this post…we do live in a different world then we grew up in, that’s for sure! My daughter was living in NYC during 9/11. She happened to be away that week. The fear that goes through your mind and body are indescribable. Glad your daughter is well...I’m sure she will love those beautiful pumpkin spice cakes…I wouldn’t mind a few myself!


How wonderful to hear from new friends...