best of 2019

ANOTHER YEAR!

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I’m maybe more proud of this year than practically any other. After my business partner in Commissary! dropped out in late November 2018, I spent 90% of 2019 understanding aspects of the businesses I’d never focused on before. Instead of developing flavors, menus, and dishes and training worker bees, I focused on finances and big picture planning. I’ve emerged from a year where I pushed out of my comfort zone (cooking, making) and learned difficult new skills the businesses needed. This year I got serious about taking care of my crew + our fiscal health in truly sustainable ways for the long term and it feels so good. I’ve learned so much. As a result, I’m currently knee-deep in planning some big expansion plans for these small businesses. It’s exciting and scary and I wouldn’t have it any other way. We’re also currently in the process of becoming a Certified Woman-Owned Business, which has been a wild experience. Lots happening, all of it fun and overwhelming, just like I like it.

Aaaaand I wrote a book. I’m so proud of it, too! It was a glorious experience.

A few goals for 2020 I’m working on:

  • more affordable shipping options for chocolates
  • completely phasing out plastic
  • more beautiful packaging for chocolates
  • an increased chocolate wholesale program
  • an expanded menu at commissary
  • expanded hours at commissary
  • a no-waste grab-and-go takeaway expansion at commissary
  • increased quality control all around, as always, as ever

Onward to crew highlights!

xoxoxo

Lagusta

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  • CONFECTIONERY

AMANDA

Another amazing year @ Confectionery! Even with all the insanity going on outside of the shop in the real world, I get to escape it when I’m here. I’ve had so many highlights this year! Thank you to two of the best bosses anyone can ever have, thanks to my  coworkers who handmake everything everyday, and thanks to our amazing customers, local, first timers and travelers. Oh and to the neighbor pups! 

MARESAS BUTTER

foil wrapped vulvas

English cream eggs

Raviolis

Lemon polenta cake (I’m salivating) 

Strawberry Ice cream bars (imy summa freezer)

Passion fruit white chocolate macarons

Anatomical bleeping hearts 

Cookie tins 

RAINBOW SLABS really?

Earl grey bars

and Skulls!

The list goes on, and on. 

I won’t forget my first independent holiday shift- I killed it! Visiting Maresa’s brand new bakery, wowzie; bragging to everyone that Lagusta wrote a book! Pst, and now a podcast… shhhh! Attending my first Woodstock Sanctuary Gala, and lighting the Menorah for the first time. 

Cheers to another year of love, growth and friendship! 

 

VERONICA

Another year flew by in our sweet little east village sugartown!   

We had some great press this year (Gothamist ~and~ the Daily News) and all the new customers who discovered us from these articles, right around Valentines Day, was such a fun thing to witness. One of the best things ever, this year/decade/life, was this snarky comment left on the Gothamist article: “That whole store looks like a 9 year old girl’s diary.” Amazing. 
 
Also amazing: the passionfruit white chocolate macarons, the fleeting chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches from LL (plus the limited edition yuzu white chocolate ice cream bar! did you get one?), our cute mini freezer for all the frozen summer stuff, the absinthe black currant macarons, Lagusta’s always-hilarious signboards, the awe-inspiring beauty of the flower tablets (blows my mind every time), the beauty of it all, really. 
 
Maresa’s cherry blossom macaron. I mean, COME ON!
 
 
Also, getting to hang out in the shop talking about food all day and talking to our incredible customers. I ❤ you all. And shout out to all the neighborhood four-legged friends too! MJ, Jack, Sweet Potato, the two (separate) bulldogs that are both named Tater Tot (!!!), Gravy, Junior, etc. ❤ ❤ ❤  

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COMMISSARY

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KARA

about eight months ago standing in my backyard one day i knew suddenly that it was time to take lagusta up on that job offer at commissary! hawks had been flying over me in droves for months–lore says that hawks are message-bringers–and once realized, the message was so obvious! it was time to align my work life with my personal values, to do something right by myself professionally. after my interview i found so many pennies heads side up, more than probability should allow under normal circumstances but hey, comm creates anything but normal circumstances. ahhh, what a pleasure to work in a place where i can breeze right in and say hi to all my regular custies and coworkers because i love them, where i am respected for my essential self that feels unlimited and pure right up until the last second of each shift–i just love it! i never stop getting struck by it all!
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DANY

I joined the Commissary! crew a little late in the game in the middle of October, but these two & a half months have felt like the biggest part of my year. My start was entwined with changes abound and it’s without a doubt one of the best. The people I’ve met & worked with at Commissary! have provided an environment of love and support I can’t even begin to express the proper gratitude for. Navigating food world, learning all of the different chocolates, and discovering the magic of cambros are just a few of the lessons I carry with me into 2020. Comm has given me a sense of pride and fulfillment in my work and saying that I’m happy here would just not cut it.

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CHOCOLATE SHOP

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ERICKA

ok so I definitely wrote a long emotional journal entry about how 2019 was the worst year of my adult life and how the chocolate shop was one of the few areas of my life that was sound and comfy. but it was a little mopey and I don’t like that very much so instead i’m going to reflect on the times I felt the happiest at work this year, because of all my wonderful co workers! (In no particular order)

  1. every single time we ordered food. especially when I called karma road from my cell phone and they had to call me back but they just called the chocolate shop directly because they had figured out that we place a giant order nearly every sunday :/ 
  2. when Kate made me a giant baby pink felt silica gel packet. because that’s SO weird and now it’s on my fridge.
  3. dani’s gift to me for secret snowflake this year!! what! it was amazing!
  4. going bowling with everyone to celebrate Alexis! (ps we miss u)
  5. every hug from sam. if you know you know. sam gives the best hugs.
  6. THE MEME PAGE! this was technically started in 2018. But wasn’t that the best? that was so fun y’all are so funny and I already knew that but that page made it so real. 
  7. when deirdre went full aquarius on me and told me that if she could know anything about an alien race she would want to know if they interacted with Fibonacci’s sequence, or if they had a different pattern? 
  8. when lagusta called air pods air buds. like the golden retriever. these things write themselves. 
  9. building a milk cloud with rachel. the results of this sit on the commissary instagram and confused everyone. 
  10. when my mom became our accountant! this is just wholesome. except I was on the phone with her the other day and she hung up on me bc rachel was on the other line </3
  11. teaching mike the thing where someone knuckle bumps you and you say “turkey” and flatten your hand. he was totally blown away. I mean I get it though.
  12. when me and jenn discovered the song association game and probably initiated some of our new work friends into the energy of the shop in a really weird way. nothing says icebreaker like you have ten seconds to sing a song that says sponge in it.
  13. the other day I had to leave the shop because a yorkie came in and shelly didn’t even ask she just hugged me when I started crying. I miss my dog! I love shelly a lot. 
  14. one day vickie bought a blueberry pie and offered to share it so on a summer evening me vickie jenn and lagusta sat outside and ate blueberry pie with strawberry ice cream. xoli was sitting on my lap and it was so nice that day. 
  15. every funny morning meeting quip, every time I felt comfortable expressing something I can’t in any other space, every group hug, or hover hug, every dog (that we definitely don’t allow in the shop don’t worry), and everything else along the way.

despite anything outside of work, I had a really fulfilling, happy, and supportive year working with all of you. I’m so excited for the future of LL and I’m so grateful to be here. 

SAM G

I have worked in the night of the chocolate shop for over a year now, making croissants for the cafe and the city shop. I have cherished every milestone: the slow shift from concentrating-very-hard-still-fucking-up to seamlessly-working-the-dough-while-holding-a-conversation, memorizing the dough recipe and the butter recipe, shaving half an hour off of the total process time by changing just a couple of steps around…it’s all felt special and well-earned. Every night when I open the door to the dark shop, I stop and breathe in the good smells, acknowledge that good people have been doing good work in this space all day, and just feel grateful to be invited. I have two jobs, I work long days and nights, sometimes I am tired and it’s hard to leave my house. But when I get to work, I wake up. Nothing is exhausting, everything is satisfying, and with every task my brain smooths out a little. The dough unfurls, I do the same. I measure, mix, roll and fold, cut and shape, wash, clean, organize. My brain is along for the ride, breaks to make lovely observations, realizations born from total focus. In between carefully timed steps, I scribble thoughts from my clean brain onto scraps of paper— ideas and love thoughts and ways to be better. I walk home, body-tired, mind-kindled. I have done something that I feel is worthwhile. Sometimes the sun is rising and if it’s warm weather maybe a fat robin is walking alongside me, nervous and garbling. I like to be with the world in this way.

MIKE

A full calendar year. Lots of boxes going out to lots of beautiful people and places. Friendships growing stronger. Surprises developing into magical realities. 2019 was quite a year. 2020 will be even better.

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MICHAELA

wow, 2019. this year has brought so many changes to my life – the most special being starting this job. after a whirlwind of events, landing here at LL HQ was the best thing to happen to me for so many reasons. meeting all of these amazing people I’m so lucky to call my coworkers is definitely my favorite thing. I’ve never been in such a warm, loving, open space before where I actually look forward to coming into work. spending the days chatting about life, love, politics, intersectionality, what caramels represent us and belting out musical numbers (all while working – busy hands!!) makes me smile. as we go forward into this new decade I’m thankful for starting it by the side of these lovely people I get to call my friends. let this coming year, and all of those to come, continue to bring so much beauty, joy, love, and utter amazingness to everyone.
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JENN

I usually start off every one of these posts with something like “WOW THAT WAS A DOOZIE” but this has been one of the best, most transformative years I’ve had at the shop and in my life! This year brought a lot of new faces and friendships, and for that I’m forever thankful. I always enjoy the buzz and excitement of holiday season, and this year our efficiency was *so close to 100%* that I enjoyed it more than ever. While this was a great year, I have to admit I’m so glad 2017 is finally coming to a close so we can just get on with 2018 already, right? [ed note: this is a joke to me because i can’t seem to remember what year it is. roasted!! — lagusta]

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DEIRDRE

Even though I haven’t worked at the chocolate shop for very long, it feels like a comfortable place for me where I can tie up my apron and get into a rhythm. I like the balance of a supportive work environment and overall kind and excited customers. I like being able to talk about politics and theory and horoscopes and memes and life at work and feel held by the people there. I like challenging myself to pack as many delicate chocolates into a pretty box as quickly as possible. I like that I get to do that in a cozy, friendly shop with people who are kind and trying to do right and letting their human-ness show to allow other people to get just a bit closer to them than it feels like in other spaces sometimes. Thanks for creating a little pocket of the world where that can happen!
KATE

if the year was a playlist it would start with “honey” by robyn and end with the same. in like a lion, out like the same lion, just as soft, just as strong. the only lambs here are us. i’ve written so many year re-caps and they’re mostly all the same: i love this work, i love these people, no one can take that away from me, and there’s the beauty. this world we’ve cobbled together, together, it’s as sweet as we make it, it’s as warm as we want. in 2019 we solved problems, we cooked caramels, we shipped boxes, we held hands. often my cheeks burned red, sometimes frustration, other times elation. that’s how it goes and there are a million points between every start and finish, but if i have to put words to it, i’ll just say: we keep turning sugar into different forms of itself, and we’re not much different. ❤

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SHELLY

wow hi OK 2019 was one of the worst and best years of my life! I graduated college, moved into a beautiful new apartment, broke up with the same person TWICE, and became a manager (amongst tons of other bad and good things). Its funny to think all of this was happening while our little LLverse just kept going and thriving. No matter what I am going through, I always know I can come into work the next day ready for new challenges and a shit ton of laughs (and misandry, never forget the misandry)! I can’t believe I get to go to work with all of my favorite people every single day and for that I am so grateful. Here’s to 2020 being WAY better than 2019 and lets vote Trump out of office!

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C

Written and spoken word has always caused me to stop and stutter under an unknown pressure of being as fruitful and eloquent as I’d like to imagine I am. The need to wrap my feelings neatly in a box with a bow is a feat I’m left wrestling with. My feelings have been bursting at the seams since I’ve started working here! Though I know I was meant to communicate with my drawings I’m going to do my best to say how I feel, here. I hope I can show what I mean, through all my nervous typos that I hopefully have gone through and corrected.
I’ve never felt such a leap of faith as joining the LL crew.
My nerves broke way my trail day. It feels homey yet foreign being spun deeply into a world with its own traditions and language. I didn’t understand but I was excited to learn and every person I interact with more willing to show and to share.
Tradition and skills so lovingly passed on to the next. I’m so grateful to have been taught chocolatier-ing by those who love what they do and want you to love what you’re doing.
How do you say thank you to folks who have change your life? (Pause, I started tearing up)
I’ve never felt like I could be myself, wholeheartedly, in a space until now. I’m not even sure I was accepting my whole self until now. And the be in THIS space! These four teal walls! All these people who like me for me and are here to raise each other up for who we are. It makes my heart burst. (Another pause)
I feel so honored to be here. With you all. Making sweet vegan chocolate confections with my hands. In a space with people that I love. I can’t wait to grow with you all! I feel like when I’m here the energy is contagious, weather we are talking about sustainably, playing what celebrities are your last two brain cells, or just chatting about recipes. I feel so happy to be at home.
Every day and I smell like chocolate. A stray dot or two of chocolate on my face (from cleaning the enrober, I’m sure) but I’m always smiling now. I don’t think I’ve stopped smiling since September.
To growth? To burning who you thought you were to make way for who you are? To a family I’ve found. To a family that found me! To caramel burns and flinging cocoa butter everywhere but where you wanted it! To Lagusta for making this space feel like a home! To 2020.
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best of 2017

Every year I ask everyone in the LL-verse to send me some florid (or not) prose (or not) about their year at work. This year we were 26 strong, across all three businesses, every single person a dang beacon of joy and singularity. Here are words from some of us about 2017 in a small chocolate company, a bustling café, and a tiny retail sweets shop.

For best-of round ups from previous years, see

2016
2015
2015 (more!)
2014
2013
2012

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LAGUSTA’S LUSCIOUS:

LAGUSTA (me!)
I rush to work every day because I work with wonderful weirdos who are always up to help me implement all kinds of schemes and projects. The highlight of my year was the totality of this job, the stresses and the ludicrously saccharine joys, just completely all of it—all its million grabby tentacles that always need everything all the time, the hundreds of 1.5 minute walks between LL and Comm (if I don’t have too much to carry I make myself sprint it, always arriving out of breath here or there), the customers and friends I get to hang out with every day, the ramen bowls I get to make, the people I share this job with. My personal life mostly sucked in 2017 and the wider world was so scary every day, so work was a real (um, fairly literal) lifesaver.

The other highlight of my year was, like everyone’s, Tahini Meltaways. Thanks, Alexis! Here’s to more meltaway things and tahini things in 2018.

Plans for 2018:
As usual, we’ve got lots of overly ambitious and guaranteed-stress-making plans for the year ahead. We’re always looking to improve the beauty and flavor of our chocolates, food, and drink, always working to welcome our customers more warmly, to treat each other with true gentleness and respect, always trying to soften up while sharpening up, getting better, kinder, smarter.

Specifically, I want to make our viennoisserie program (croissants!) a bit fluffier and flakier, want to get tickets out in a speedier fashion at Commissary!, want to run out of everything from cashew milk to Rosemary Caramels less by improving communication and efficiency and tightening up our systems. I’ve got plans to build some beautiful new shop shelves from LL HQ, to do some fancy dinners at Commissary!, got some advent calendar ideas for LL percolating away in my noodle. I want to learn how to be a better boss, always.

Oh, and I have a book to write. Mark your calendars for Fall 2019 when my book Sweet X Salty: The Art of Vegan Confections from Lagusta’s Luscious comes out. I have 6 more months to write it and it’s already almost at the promised word count but not even ¼ finished. It’s already super on-brand LL, ah.

SHELLY:
Working at LL has been a crazy all encompassing job that I couldn’t love more! I came into the shop at a really crazy time in my life and I am so glad to have found this lil coven of the greatest people on earth. I feel really privileged to have been let into this world, and I am grateful to have grown with my co-workers and friends so tremendously in the past few months. I have so much love for what we do and what we stand for and I can’t wait to see the LL brand grow into the new year!

JENN:
2017 was a year of many changes for ol’ Jenn! In February I began my New Years Resolution of being vegan (better late than never), and I’m so happy to report I’m still vegan! Having so many seasoned vegans all around me while I was starting out was just so helpful and I’m forever thankful for all of the encouragement, recipes, and love. This year I also took on more making duties, which has been both challenging and rewarding. It’s such a great feeling seeing something on Instagram that I made! Personally, this year has been quite the shake-up. My life got flipped, turned upside-down and I’d like to take a minute just sit right there, and I’ll tell you how literally everyone in the shop has been so empowering and uplifting. I can’t thank everyone at the shop enough for their support. Looking forward to 2018 being a year of continued positive change and growth!

JILL
Boxes! I moved to the Hudson Valley at the very end of August and quickly found a job at Lagusta’s Luscious. It was all whirlwind, heat, and flash. Tobi said, “Get a job doing mail order”. Boxes! I used to mail records, now I mail chocolate. Both are fragile and can melt, but only chocolate gets mailed with ice. Last Wednesday, we mailed 117 packages. Boxes! Everything is made so carefully. It’s very meticulous. It tastes delicious! I run from the back of the shop to the front – to grab more chocolate, for orders. I pass by the scrap table – to look for snacks, for me. There are always snacks. There are always orders. Energy! Chocolate! Boxes!

–Maresa says, “I can’t believe you’re sitting down and not packing boxes”.
–“I am writing about boxes right now!”

Holiday shipping! USPS! We need more packing peanuts! I never met the mail carrier.

The best night of 2017 was when I saw the Raincoats perform in NYC. Lagusta brought them chocolate. They played “Lola” twice. Gina ate one of our caramel bars on stage; she stretched the caramel as far as it could go. (I wonder if she shared with Ana.) When Gina looked inside the bag, she proclaimed, “Furious Vulvas. That will be my dinner.” [Three-quarters of] Bikini Kill played a song they haven’t sung in twenty-three years. It was the first time I saw them. It was amazing! (Don’t tell Bill.)

KARA
putting small sweet things inside of small colored things putting those things inside bigger sturdy things which in turn are put into even bigger things then sent out into that part of the world that exists contingently with the little utopia flourishing inside the shop, how could something so painstakingly pure continue to live if there were no dichotomous relationship with the thing it actively seeks to defy, i guess i am thankful that the strange discordant part of the world is a thing so that i can ride into my eleventh hour of a work day knowing that the place in which i serve my duty is one marked by upheaval of all that seeks to limit our freedom of selfhood in society. thank you lagusta and every single person involved for being warriors through chocolate and sweets, for creating and sustaining a THRIVING hub of positivity, power, and safety, and for allowing me to be a part of the busy winter season!

CHLOE
2017 was the year that Lagusta’s Luscious HQ became my home away from home, not my “workplace.”
So many things went wrong in 2017 and it ended up creating a giant gap ready to be filled with wonderful experiences. All the chocolatiers made their own recipes. So daunting and so rewarding! Tinsley the tinsel cat got a tinsel friend and they both have an extensive wardrobe made by Jenn! We had a Halloween party instead of a birthday party when I turned 23 this year. Enrobing became my main gig and in that I got to listen to endless podcasts and lectures including a 12 hour lecture series on The Black Death so if you need any morbid medieval fun facts let me know. Alexis made soup so warm and comforting that when I curled up on the couch during my lunch break I accused her of sabotage by making us all too happy and sleepy to work. We learned to decorate our chocolates so beautifully that that I’d carry a piece around the shop like “Maresa look how pretty this bark is!” “Kate! have you seen how damn shiny these are?!”
I could not be more proud to be a part of the LL family. Thanks for letting me be a total weirdo!

KATE
the years just keep passing through and taking me with them and if i had my shit together i would have kept tally of how many times we made each recipe this year, how many turtle bar batches, how many maple pecan caramels and peanut butter cup fillings, how many batches of cane syrup (the mother recipe inside all the other recipes). i wish i kept track of how many times i screamed about the sunset outside and how many bad jokes i made in general, how many times “sk8r boi” crept out of the playlist depths and wide-eyed set us ablaze back into the 90’s for a passing minute. i wish i kept track of the number of times i felt genuine pride of product and love of people and camraderie of mission and belonging of place in this teal palace made of sugar. i bet the numbers are high. i bet they would surprise me. ❤

COMMISSARY!

JASPER
Lagusta told us to write a few sappy words reflecting on our year at work, so here are mine.

I started out as a customer, coming to Comms with my partner every once in a while to read zines and roll my eyes at the $6.50 matcha latte with cashew milk (I didn’t appreciate the price tag as a customer, but now I see that everything we serve is 200% worth it). Wow, times have changed since then!

Lagusta has this thing she says at the beginning of every training, how everyone that’s here was "brought" here because they needed it. Something about this place drew people in, like a sanctuary. That was very much the case for me. I was closing a chapter in my life and looking for a new one to sink my teeth into. Found it!

I hopped behind the counter in April, up to my elbows in dishes on ramen night (#rammissary) while learning the very basics of working in a kitchen. I’m amazed at how much I’ve learned and excited at how much there is still left to learn.

It was in this kitchen that I learned what it’s like to be a part of a true team— a coordinated effort toward at the common goal of great food, sound politics, and warm community. My coworkers, employers, and customers are the best people I know.

I am so grateful for the team I am a part of, in all of its iterations over the past year. I’m grateful for every blobby latte heart (still working on it!), every perfect croissant, every broken dish, every dog in a sweater, and every redeemed Mitzvah.

Thanks Commissary! for being my sanctuary and my rock this year. I’m so excited to see what this year brings.

xo,
Jasper
p.s. follow @CommissaryOoC on twitter for funny “Commissary Out of Context" quotes/pics from this year.

RACHEL
I think a lot about a thing Lagusta said about how every time you chop a carrot you try to do it better. It’s like that at Commissary. Constantly improving, even repetition is not repetitive because there are tiny minute details to be improved upon.

Theres also things, like tofu pockets, that you revisit and get acquainted with again after a years absence. You remember who you were the last time you cut one. I feel grateful to remember that person, cutting tofu pockets in 2016, and even more grateful to be the person I am now, cutting tofu pockets in 2017. Same task, but so much growth! I love this job and I love the people I work with and I love the challenge of constantly striving to make positive changes. Excited for what's next!

JACOB
2017 was about trying to take steady, deep breaths. I bought a subscription to Headspace to help, it needed that much deep breathing! The idea was to find a groove, the beat at which everything just “runs”, and by running I mean taking off in a sprint and not slowing down. We saw an almost total staff change up at Commissary! this year (thankfully not a total one because who wants to run Commissary! without Rachel and Chrissy?!) We’d actually done amazingly well with staff retention, over a year for almost everyone but a new wave of excited and passionate folks changes the dynamic and it’s dynamic for sure! Even with new people we still have the return of old favorite food and drinks with a rotating menu and from that comes the excitement from customers of returning favorites like an old friend. Many customers have now become old friends as Commissary! becomes a community beyond just the food and drink and the space becomes worn and grooved itself. We went from dainty thin glass cups to thicker cups (everything breaks!) and new beautiful custom ceramics from Alexis. Everyone goes to “Advanced Milks Training” at Stumptown training central to perfect that heart, fern, or tulip. Sarah Jane helped us finally update the counter and table tops, trying to recreate our youth of 1.5 years ago when there were groove-free wood surfaces to eat and drink from (it’s our “everything should always be clean like new!” mantra.) We try and fill the space with more tasty beauty (hello Tuesday Ramen!) and fine tune every movement and detail. The challenge now is to look and grow inward.

CONFECTIONERY!

VERONICA
The year seemed to pass so fast — a whirlwind which felt sped up, no doubt, by my immense intake of sugar. It was worth all the ~probable~ cavities.
The highlights:
The almond croissants every Wednesday (#veganviennoiserie). Maresa’s springtime ramp biscuits with butter (I’m already making room in my freezer so I can buy every single one to store long-term; heads up, customers. We’re, uh, sold out. They’re all mine). Lagusta’s red satin ribbon heart decoration enveloping the window for Valentine’s day, the perfect backdrop for playing Mazzy Star on repeat. The tahini meltaways, the tahini caramel ice cream bars, the tahini mousse cups (I have a thing for tahini, especially done in the LL fashion). Those chocolate cherry big macs (M, can you make those again soon?!). The polenta caramel bars. The smoky corn on the cob bars, an old favorite I always return to. The triumphant return of the corn macarons this Autumn. Corn corn corn, more more more. All of the holiday cookies, but especially the pignoli ones which made the stressful holiday season infinitely better and which I can’t stop thinking about. Every single cake decoration Maresa made that I had the pleasure of gazing upon. Damn!
Getting up to Commissary finally and having it be everything I knew it would be – and much, much more. What a beautiful place you have up there now, Mew Paltzians — it feels like it was part of your town all along. Have some beans and greens & mac and cheese for me, please.
The Dogs of Confectionery, the regular cu(s)ties who know to come around the cash wrap for a little cheezit-looking treat and who make me want to explode from their sweetness: Yetta, Junior, Amelia Peppercorn, Elle, and also all the neighborhood dogs whose names I don’t know but who let me pet them and who drink from our water bowl. This summer we had a cat on a leash drinking from our water bowl, too, and now that is a goddang highlight if there ever was one.
Also, our visit from Queen Lydia (Maresa’s dog). Also, our visit from Ponyo Georges during pumpkin picking season:

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The highlight recap wouldn’t and couldn’t be complete without mentioning the Confectionery customers, who are just the best. Often in our Google Doc work journal we have notes that say: “Our customers are so nice!” and it’s the truth. I love meeting all of the people I get to meet at the shop, who make my job more than a job. ❤

CAITLIN
For me 2017 was a pretty awesome year. Whereas 2016 was full of change and a little crazy, this year I got settled and grew into the shop, getting to know more wonderful custies and my co-workers a little better, including the addition of wonderful Timberly.

One of my highlights was seeing how our Mitzvah Wall grew and so did its followers, it felt really good in these scary uncertain times to have a safe space and to see people come in and write notes of compassion and solidarity for each other.

Also getting our lovely sleek new counter, which meant more people hung out in the shop and I got to witness the joy of two long lost friends that live in different parts of the U.S. and bumped into each other in our little shop, it's great to leave work with that warm fuzzy feeling that life is wonderful!

Also CROISSANTS! Also Maresa's chocolate tarts and the rare savory treat including the dreamy ramp biscuits!

Also getting treated to a staff trip to Woodstock Animal Farm Sanctuary and getting to meet the wonderful LL and Commissary crew!

Also having Brooks form Superiority Burger pop in with foccaccia worth living for!

GENNA
Confectionery was my rock this year. It provided me a space to share with lovely people, and get to escape from the rest of the world.

My best of the year was getting to celebrate one year with this unbeatable crew, and eat too many sesame chocolate treats.

❤ ❤

Vegan Deviled Eggs (updated!)

Coupla things, blog friends:

Did you know we have a cafe now? If you don’t you’re forgiven, because I haven’t written anything on this blog for six months, so. (Pal around with us on FB or IG or Twitter where we bug you with beautiful food pix every day, ok?). Um also did you know we (with our BFF Maresa, who also co-invented this recipe) have an NYC chocolate-macaron shop now? We still have our OG New Paltz choco-shop, it’s mostly a production space for shipping & the NYC shop & life is great & I work 24 hours a day and you should come visit our lil empire in NP, blah blah.

OK now that I’ve done my capitalist-promotion for the day, let’s talk eggs.

At Commissary! (aforementioned cafe) we serve ye olde Vegan Deviled Eggs every day (on our cheese plates obvi), so I’ve learned the ins & outs of ’em more, and that old post is such a mess that I figured I owed it to you to streamline it a bit.

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Some updated notes:

  • The original recipe calls for unsweetened almond or soy milk. Almonds are naturally sweet and that sweetness can be off-putting, so I like a mix of 1/2 almond milk and 1/2 soy milk to cut the sweetness without that telltale thick beany soymilky flavor. But if you don’t want to buy a container of each, use either. I’ve also tried this recipe with homemade almond milk—in my opinion it’s too sweet. Don’t get too precious.
  • If it’s your first time making these babes, read the original post for good tips for using agar and black salt for the first time and where to buy an egg mold.
  • You might want to halve the whites recipe and make it twice unless you have a lot of egg molds, because it’ll set up fairly fast. Agar is thermoreversible (ooh la la), however, so if it sets up you can gently reheat it & it’ll melt back down. In my opinion it always gets too frothy when you do this, though.
  • Speaking of frothiness—it’s really your enemy. It doesn’t give you a good texture, and it’s a dead giveaway that you’re eating a fake egg. To cut down on froth, barely whisk or stir the mixture as it’s coming to a boil, and tap it hard on a wooden cutting board before you pour the whites into the egg molds, and scoop off any froth and throw it away. If you still have bubbles when you’ve poured the mixture into the molds, poke them with a knife blade.
  • If you’re too lazy to do the whole eggs thing or don’t want to buy an egg mold just for this recipe, just chop up the whites (spread them on a sheet pan or something instead of pouring into the eggs molds) and mix em with the yolks and make egg salad.
  • Be sure your black salt is the sulfurous, eggy kind, kala namak. We use a black lava sea salt on a chocolate and always have to be careful not to mess em up. The egginess of kala namak varies widely, so buy a small jar. It also loses its potency quickly, so buy a small jar. We taste our eggs every day and typically have to give them a small sprinkle of salt every morning to top up the egg flavor.
  • The big difference between this recipe and the first version is that Rachel, who works at Commissary! had the brilliant idea to blend the scooped-out insides of the whites into the yolks mixture—it helps the mixture hold its shape and gives it a little more flavor. The original recipe had vegan mayo, but with the scooped out whites you don’t need it—I upped the vinegar & mustard quantities slightly, too.
  • I just bought these egg molds, they’re nice, though slightly bigger than regular chicken eggs.
  • If you’re wondering why two hardcore vegans (Maresa & I have been vegan combined literally 40 years or more) would make these, here’s what Reesey had to say about it way back when we created em: “I usually hate stuff like this. We did it for a few reasons: 1. the fun challenge of nailing a taste and texture that are decidedly Not Vegan. 2. Deviled eggs, to me, taste good. I’m not vegan because meat and dairy and eggs taste bad- I’m vegan because those industries are too effed up to support. 3. Nostalgia. My grandma used to make deviled eggs and now she can’t, so someone’s gotta do it, and I’m not going to touch a chicken’s period. That said, Enjoy!” 

OK let’s get going.

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THE WHITES

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900 grams milk (about 4 cups): unsweetened soy or almond or, preferably, a mix of both. Be sure your milk is unsweetened or your eggs will be disgusting!

4 teaspoons agar powder (11 grams if you’re like that)

1/2 teaspoon black salt

  1. Bring all just to a boil. Barely stir. Pour into egg molds.
  2. Let set up 15 minutes or so, in the fridge or not, then scoop out the center cavity with a melon baller, grapefruit spoon, or whatever. The beauty of making your own egg whites is that in addition to not supporting the machine of institutionalized death and heartbreaking pain that is the egg industry, you also get to make your cavities as big as you want (make them big), so you can put in as much filling as you want (put in a lot). As with non-vegan deviled eggs, the filling is the tasty part.

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THE YOLKS

1 lb firm or extra firm tofu

1/3 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon mustard

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar (or whatever vinegar you want)

1 1/4 teaspoon black salt, or to taste

1 teaspoon turmeric

scooped out innards from the whites

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  1. Blend all together in food processor or blender. Taste and keep messing around until it tastes good.
  2. Using a pastry bag fitted with an open star tip, pipe the yolks into the whites in a circular motion.
  3. Garnish with a sprinkle of paprika, chives, basil in the garden gone to flower—whatever suits your fancy.

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LL 2015 Staff Highlights

Here’s the second part of our annual year-end roundup. Part one, with a lot of words from me, is here. 

Adrienne:

New recipes were mastered, delicious ice cream was made, potlucks were shared, people stepped up when others had to prioritize time with loved ones, early mornings and late nights were enjoyed in each other’s company, and delicious chocolates were devoured by all.  We couldn’t ask for a better place to spend our days.

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Alexandra:

Becoming designated custie person and getting to know all the lovely regular customers a little better, taking one of the hardest course loads I have ever taken and ultimately being so proud of how I did and how much I learned, going to the museum of natural history for the first time with my wonderful boyfriend, seeing both Seal and Madonna in concert, lavender lemonade, toffee, hot cider, maple pecan caramel, Lagusta’s pizza, celebrating the shops 4 year anniversary along with my relationship’s 4 year anniversary, being surrounded by the most amazing people every day at work and learning so much about both them and myself, feeling more and more grateful every day that the shop exists, knowing the incredible person that is Lagusta, meeting brilliant Pauline.

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Alexis: 2015 was the year where going to work didn’t feel like going to work anymore. It was the year I truly felt at home in the shop.

2015 was a year of change, loss and growth. And we rallied around one another, everyone so soft and so strong. The staff I belong to – I’d say they’re people that I’ve been waiting to meet my whole life. They’re not co-workers and bosses, they’re friends. I’m thankful for them all every day.

Some quick highlights:

-Had my last “waitressing” job this summer during Lagusta’s beautiful dinner series.

-Got my first real oven burn. Hurt like hell.

-Grew to enjoy the world of solitary enrobing, which was previously my least favorite and most often fucked-up task

-Discovered the beauty of listening to podcasts while working (especially while enrobing)

-Shipped a hell of a lot of boxes in December

-Ate so many scraps

-Learned a whole lot about veganism and made some pretty tasty work lunches

-Witnessed Maresa toss/chuck/heave so many cupcakes/macs/flax eggs into the ditch and it was never not funny

-Had some great Gilmore Girls chats. I’m looking at you two, Adrienne and Alexandra.

This past month I kept catching myself smiling as I walked through the shop, watching everyone work so seamlessly and flawlessly together through our busiest time. I’m so damn grateful to be a part of this. It’s been quite a year.

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Annie:

I am a relative newcomer to the LL family, having arrived in June to this lovely, tight-knit, happy crew. I’m a food business veteran and the oldest member of the bunch so I wondered how my way of looking at things would fit in with the tone already set in the place. Thankfully, it has been a smooth, easy ride. I’m happy to put forward my ‘wisdom’ (ha!) on food safety and baking equipment and proper footwear – it makes me feel useful and, frankly, like less of a newbie amidst all these people who really know their stuff despite not having decades of experience. Impressive and humbling as that is, I am super pleased that I’m starting to learn all the exacting, attention-requiring arts of chocolatier-ing from such patient, cool, fun people.

So, on to the highlights of the year… One of the real perks of the job for me is that I’m able to visit with and feed my son every working day – that is an amazing opportunity for a new, working mom. I so appreciate everyone accommodating me and him, even during the busiest of times, and it has made the whole experience just perfect.

I’ve really enjoyed acquiring a few titles along the way: Food Service Professional (natch), Spider Catch (and release)-er, and Peppermint Patty Princess (by far my favorite, but I’m wondering, when do I get my tiara??).

It has been enlightening to see how even the ‘mistakes’ (Thank god, since I made plenty) get used and made into something amazing and delicious – the most truly efficient and waste-free kitchen that I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a lot!

And even though I espouse to be a principled person, it wasn’t until I saw just how much Lagusta lives by her principles and has made a successful business that supports and benefits her community, that I started to ‘put my money where my mouth was’ and tried to do the same. Joined a CSA, stopped supporting businesses that have dodgy practices, ate better and encouraged others to do the same, the whole shebang. I owe her a big thanks for that inspiration and kick in the pants.

But the best highlight for me was making a bunch of friends who make going to work the highlight of my week!! Thank you, one and all.

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Jacob:

In 2014 I was focused entirely on improvements inside the shop but this past year we started looking outside. We always have a list of wants, needs, and dreams for projects at the shop (if only you knew of some of the grander dreams that have come and gone over the last few years!) and this year we decided to just start crossing some of them off. The biggest one that you’ll see if the patio in the front of the shop. That started with a plan to redo our perpetually potholed filled driveway with porous pavers. We went though many design ideas and in the process realized that redoing the front area and setting the parking area back away from the building would be the best best for now. We had our farmer friend Ian Taliaferro design and do the work and we revealed it at our 4-year anniversary party. We’re so happy with how it turned it that we had our only dinner series of the year out on the patio this summer. We also added an awning on the side entrance of the shop (no more shoveling snow in order to get into the shop!), a huge deck in the back, and the ornamental holiday front awning for the winter. In addition, one of my favorite new items (a years long project!) was the custom bike rack on the side of the patio, that really finished it off for me.

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Inside the shop we were finally able to tackle the nearly decade old Bluestocking Bonbons packaging when we realized we’d be running out of Furious Vulva boxes. This was a huge opportunity for us to bring it up to date but also a lot of pressure to work with one of our oldest, and most recognized, products. After eliciting outside help (thanks Scott!) and numerous revisions (thanks JP & Hemlock!) we finally settled on the new Vulva box and I think it’s the best of both worlds. I can’t wait to update all the rest of them.

Of course there’s chocolate too! My favorites for the year:

– The Blood Orange Heart: I was proud of our new creation! It’s often hard to create new meaningful chocolates (that taste great) for holidays and this one was splendid.
– Peanut Butter Ice Cream Caramel Bar: This one was a dream, literally, we’ve been dreaming of such a thing! I used to eat Snickers Ice Cream bars as a kid and there was always the want, the need, for one. Lo and behold, we have it!

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– Slushies and ice cream: for a chocolate shop we do really great on the non-chocolate side. I was lucky enough to taste-test so many great ice creams and slushy flavors this summer.

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Daylily bialys with foraged daylily flour: I could eat these with Miyoko’s or Treeline cheese every day of my life. In fact, I think I did as long as I could until they ran out. I even helped forage for these so I think I earned it!

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Kate:

my year’s memories include birthday party potlucks & scaling recipes up-up-up, wondering why we didn’t do it sooner. working harder and better than last year: being unsurprised, being proud. we got new thermometers and an extra selmi (no big deal) (very big deal) and on halloween lagusta covered the shop in spiderwebs with me, which honestly felt like the thing I was born to do. trying to come up with specific and standout memories of the year proves difficult: when you love your work so much, when you are in awe of your co-workers. every day is standout & I am aware of how rosy I am painting all of this & it is my day job, yes & punks aren’t supposed to like their jobs or something & yeah right & some jobs are worth loving & rose rose rose rose rose

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Kyra:

Having just started working at the shop two months ago, its hard to call attention to specific moments of importance when every moment so far feels invaluable in creating my general sense of love for Lagusta’s Luscious world and all of the incredible people who make it such an incredible place to be.

Every day spent at the shop is full of new feats, new chocolates to taste, endless laughter–work for me is dipping turtles, making the always-crucial whipped cream, spoonfuls of peanut butter filling, celebrating birthdays with the best potlucks and party hats, memorizing the ever-growing collection of quotes suspended throughout the shop while wrapping bars in gold, the olfactory satisfaction of Maresa’s Macarons, and toasted pecans, and Walk in the Woods bars. The list goes on.

It’s 11 pm on New Years Eve, and although my general attitude towards this holiday is that the sentiment of excitement for renewal can be replicated any day of the year, tonight I’m relishing in this holiday’s tendency towards hyperbole and feeling extremely grateful for the last two months of this year, and the year to come. I feel so lucky to be a part of such a strong community of talented people who provide me with infinite opportunity for growth- and to be able to feel that about a workplace is something rare and unforgettable.

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(crazy work times didn’t allow time for me to take photos of some of our newest LL team members, eeek!)

Lauren:

The highlight for me this winter was definitely getting to work with so many unique, fun, quirky, entertaining, kind, helpful, amazing people. Everybody was willing to teach and answer questions and to share their love of this delicious, creative work. Birthdays were always highlights as well- whether we had potlucks or pizza parties it was so great to set aside time during the busy day to celebrate and enjoy food and good company!

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Meredith:

One 2015 LL time that I will always remember is working on Halloween. We had spent the day before packaging pieces of bark that looked like spider webs for the trick or treaters. After putting all of the bark pieces into the bags, we thought we had way too much chocolate, and that we’d have a massive amount left over. Come Halloween and the herds of trick or treaters, we ran out of spider web bark within 2 hours, and had to frantically package random pieces for the masses of children that were coming into the shop. As frantic as it was, it felt strangely fun to be that insanely busy for the day.

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Shana:

well, 2015 came and went faster than a peanut butter lover such as myself can devour a peanut butter cup. Things have been tough on an emotional & friendship level, but I truly have never felt stronger teamwork than I did during the past 2 months. Filling hundreds of orders with just a few of us, and without Lagusta being around because she was busy being the best daughter/caretaker/friend on this planet, was hard – but it felt good. it also feels incredible to be creatively fulfilled by your job because working late or going in early doesn’t matter. Working with people who are hilarious and talented barely gets tiring when you are proud of what do you. Now, as I do every year, I’m attending another chunk of Phish concerts to say goodbye to the year. So, I’m sitting here in NYC listening to people talk about working in crappy offices, and their long commute on the subway everyday to get to work. And how Phish NYE is their only outlet for happiness. Meanwhile, I’m sitting here laughing and eating my hazelnut sugarplum caramel bar.

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Lagusta’s Luscious 2015 highlights, 2016 goals

It’s a tradition at LL to reflect on our best moments of the year past as we make preparations for the year to come. The next post will be notes from most of our staff, but first a few thoughts of my own.

2015 was the strangest year of my life. I barely worked—which is a string of words not appropriate to describe me since I was fourteen. I cared for my mother as she battled cancer, and came into the shop in bits and pieces. It was the hardest and worst year of my life—slowly watching a disgusting disease kill your best friend is pretty much the definition of “hard times”—but professionally it was filled with astonishments and joys. One of the (many) gifts that care-taking gave me was that I was forced to let go of so many more responsibilities at work than I’d ever dreamed was possible—and the LL team picked them right up.

Now, on the other side of everything and trying to slowly process and heal, one of the excitements of the future for me is the knowledge that I can take time for other projects without the chocolate business collapsing. I have some great plans for 2016 both personally and professionally. Some I’m keeping under wraps, but here are a few:

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We’re going to:

  • Dip our toes into the (vegan) white chocolate sea. We’ve been making our own butter-to-bar white chocolate for a while, and I never quite trust that it’s as good as it is. But it is. It’s good! It’s a lot more expensive to make then dark chocolate, so we’ll have to see how it sells…
  • Revamp our website! Our indefatigable web manager, Erin, has patiently been building us a shiny new site which will be so much more elegant and user-friendly. Can’t wait to show it to you.
  • Buy a better ice cream maker! So we can churn out so much more.
  • Revamp our Chocolate of the Month Club. The club is really hard to run! But people really like it! So we’re making it easier on ourselves by making collections of new chocolates paired old favorites for each month, instead of an all-new huge assortment of sweets, which sort of took over our lives in a wild way. Running a sustainable business means it has to be sustainable for us, too, as I periodically remind myself.
  • Take care of our staff. I intend to keep finding ways to take better care of our staff while still making enough of a profit to stay in business. At the end of 2016 most of our staff will be paid at or near $15/hour, which is above the industry norm but still isn’t enough to, say, buy a house in New Paltz, where property values are bonkers. I can’t pay for health care for everyone, but I want to look into a group plan which would make it more affordable for everyone to pay for it themselves. And I’ll be instituting a system of a few paid days off every quarter and paying everyone’s regular wages when they need to take off for health reasons. I was deeply inspired this year by reading Judy Wicks’ Good Morning, Beautiful Business. It lit a fire under me to figure out innovative ways to run a business that’s sustainable in the most deep sense of the word.
  • I have an all-new 16-piece beautifully crafted box of chocolates I never got a chance to show you or sell last year. I spent pretty much all my free time developing it, and I’m hoping it becomes a core product.
  • We’re probably going to need to raise the price of truffles in our display case. We have to. Just truffles though. They just take so much time to make when compared with everything else. Caramels, ganache bonbons (i.e. square truffles), creams—everything else will stay at $2 a piece, but truffles have to be $2.25 if we want to continue to make them.
  • I’ll continue working toward turning the business into a B Corp., which is a kind of corporation in which things other than dollars are taken into account in the charter of one’s business. However we’re still a little tiny bit small for that. So right now we’re just an LLC, and I’m the sole owner of it which is great. If I had a Board of Directors, and we were not a B Corp but a traditional corporation, the board would be legally required to act in ways that put profit above all. It’s the way the corporations are legally structured. But with an LLC the power is mine, I can do whatever I want, and since I haven’t run the business into the ground yet I figure I’ll just keep on keeping on in my obstinate silly fun way.
  • Croissants! And bringing back Croissant Caramels. Annie, a relative newbie to our team, has a baking background, and I can’t wait to exploit her skills to the max by putting her on the most dreadful recipe of all time: vegan laminated pastry. Woo!

I have some more goals but man this is getting long.

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Back to 2015.

I’m always really proud to donate to all the places we do. Mostly we can only do little gift certificates and things, but slowly we do more and more, which feels good.

Here’s a partial list of groups we donated to in 2015:

  • We continue to give shop discounts to members of Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary and Catskill Animal Sanctuary, in addition to donating gift certificates to their events and cash donations when possible.
  • The Rosendale Theatre Collective
  • Elting Memorial Library
  • High Meadow School
  • Family of New Paltz
  • Mohonk Preserve
  • Skylands Animal Sanctuary
  • Historic Huguenot Street
  • PS 267
  • ALIVE Rescue and One Tail at a Time
  • Brown Paper Bag Movement
  • Born Free USA
  • Sunflower Art Festival
  • Abolitionist Vegan Society
  • Animal Welfare League
  • Vida Vegan Con
  • TMI Project
  • SASHA Farm
  • The Vagina Monologues
  • The Humane League
  • New York State Speech Language Hearing Association
  • Unison New Paltz
  • Sing Out International

Ok.

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Finally, my own 2015 highlight reel:

When we bought a new Selmi (fancy chocolate machine that keeps 50 lbs of chocolate in perfect temper all the time!) and barely blinked an eye even though buying the first took years of agony and scraping.

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Maresa & Kate’s April Fool’s joke on me, which is too long and injokey to explain but which perked me up when my mom was in the hospital and starting to slide downward and I desperately needed perking.

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When Kate took over making ice cream from me and was almost instantly better at it than me (humbling; wonderful).

Except when I made that Ants on a Log ice cream which was RIDICULOUSLY TASTY.

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(thank you Neysha for this photo)

Watching Annie’s infant son Conor get bigger by the second when he comes in to get some Annie-food.

Jacob and Jared instantly building a gigantic Sukkot-style living awning after I offhandedly mentioned that we should do “something like this,” this being the 5th Avenue Lord & Taylor holiday decorations.

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The Peanut Butter Caramel Ice Cream Bar, which was a 2015 goal realized through much kicking and screaming by our staff, who thought it wasn’t possible until they realized just how possible it is and love it like I knew they would (OK, yes, making it is a hell, but that’s why it’s $10!).

Our four year anniversary party was magical.

The royally strange chocolatier that is Shana Napoli sustained me so often in 2015 with her weirdnesses and wild energy.

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Alexis & Adrienne inventing Pagan Bark was so special and wonderful–taking a random idea I had and running with it, watching it transform from this:

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to this:

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I loved the one Savory Dinner Series we did. Maybe in 2016 we’ll do two.

Listening to Meredith and Alexandra and my mom talk about animal rights in the shop: a memory I keep coming back to. My mom loved hanging out at the shop so much.

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Keeping the little garden out front and growing the flowers we use in the Flower Tablets is always a highlight of my year.

We did SO MANY improvements to our little LL compound in 2015, but I bet Jacob will mention them in his roundup, so I won’t say anything except this:  our new patio entrance wasn’t something we could really afford, but we did it anyway, and the beauty of it sustained me so deeply every minute afterward. Our pal Ian Taliaferro did such a magnificent job.

Alexis carving us pumpkins.

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So much.

Let me know what you’d like to see us make and do this year, OK?

Next up! Staff favorites.

Gravy and Colcannon

I wrote up these little babes & took photos of them for this Guardian article but they got cut (society isn’t ready for five paragraphs on gravy! Or maybe it was the mega-fluorescent photos I took of it.). Not to worry, everything lives forever on the internet. Enjoy!

Also–often people sign up to get posts on this blog in their email. I’m thankful for this but I seem to never really post on this blog, sadly. Much more informative are our various social media pages—be sure to check out Instagram & Facebook & Twitter, too, for the full Lagusta’s Luscious scoop.

OK let’s cook.

Oh—both of these recipes are adapted from Bloodroot.

Colcannon (Irish mashed potatoes with cabbage and kale)

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If you secretly wish mashed potatoes could be pretty much the entirety of what you eat on Thanksgiving, Colcannon is the answer to the question you hadn’t dared ask. Mashed potatoes are fortified with just enough other sustenance to qualify as a main dish in this Irish wintertime staple. It’s also ridiculously fast and easy, and is adaptable to whatever looks good at the market: the kale can be substituted for other greens, though the heartiness of kale is a nice foil to the creaminess of the potatoes.

Makes 4-6 servings.

2 pounds floury potatoes (russets work perfectly), about 7 potatoes

vegetable stock, optional

2-4 tablespoons olive oil, or to taste

1 cup full-fat coconut milk

Sea salt to taste

Fresh pepper to taste

2 cups cabbage, finely shredded

2 cups kale, finely shredded

  1. Peel any blemishes from potatoes but otherwise don’t worry about peeling. Boil in salted water (or vegetable stock) just to cover until a thin-bladed knife inserted into the center of a potato meets no resistance, about 15 minutes. Drain, reserving potato water.
  2. Mash potatoes with a potato masher, adding olive oil, coconut milk, ½ cup of the reserved potato water, and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  3. Barely cover cabbage and kale with remaining reserved potato water (adding more water if necessary) and cook until tender, about 10 minutes.
  4. Turn drained cabbage and kale into a frying pan and fry with a little olive oil until lightly browned. Stir into mashed potatoes.
  5. Leftover Colcannon can be reheated in a 350°F oven.

 

Gravy 

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Instead of a strict gravy recipe, here are some guidelines for how to conceptualize and improvise a vegetarian gravy almost completely with ingredients already in your refrigerator. These guidelines make a lot of gravy—about five cups, which freezes well.

Begin with a strong vegetable base. Two onions, chopped, a pound or so of shiitake or cremini mushrooms (a mix is nice too), diced, works well. Anything in the onion family contributes to a hearty base: leeks, scallions, or shallots are great too. Fry them well in just a bit more good-quality extra virgin olive oil than you think you should use (about half a cup). When they’re just about ready toss in a lot of finely chopped garlic, 8 cloves or so? More is more in my book when it comes to garlic, but if you disagree then add less. Or, for an even warmer, richer flavor, roast a few heads of garlic and stir them in at the end of cooking.

Back to the pot: add just a little heat, to offset all that richness: stir in a shake or two of red pepper flakes, or purée a few dried, seeded, reconstituted mild chilies like ancho or guajillo, or add a little chipotle powder or even chili powder. Crush a tablespoon or so of dried herbs like basil, thyme, and/or oregano between your palms and add them. Let everything cook for a minute or two over low-medium heat, stirring often. Whisk in some flour to thicken and add body to the gravy: about half of a cup of all-purpose flour, or a gluten-free all purpose flour blend for a gluten-free gravy. Or, use a few tablespoons of cornstarch whisked with equal parts water then added to the gravy.

Now come the weird ingredients. They’re fairly optional, but the combination of all (or most) of them elevates an every day gravy to something you want to eat out of a bowl. Here we go: beer, miso, nutritional yeast, tomato paste, and soy sauce. Add a bottle of dark beer (make sure it’s vegetarian by checking lists online) to the pot and turn the heat to low. Fill up the beer bottle with water and add it too, then fill it up halfway again with water and toss that in. Add a few tablespoons of miso—a darker kind makes a more intense gravy, and a lighter kind makes a more smooth-tasting gravy. Your choice. If you have a little tomato paste hanging around, two tablespoons or so, stir that in too.

A small shower (two tablespoons or so) of nutritional yeast gives the whole thing a meatiness, and some good dashes of shoyu soy sauce (gluten-free tamari if you’re going the gf route) rounds everything out. Now, just bring everything to a boil (slowly, and stir often to make sure nothing’s burning), turn to a simmer, and cook for about a half hour. Taste and keep adding salt or water or nutritional yeast or soy sauce or whatever else your heart desires until it’s at absolutely perfect. If your gravy seems too chunky, purée a cup or so of it until it’s at the desired texture.

 

Feijoada

My wonderful former client, Pam, asked if I would send her a few recipes from the meal delivery months and months ago. I thought it would be fun to put them on the blog, so I promised to do so, months and months ago.

And the list of them has pretty much sat there on my to-do list since then, months and months ago.

But lately I feel the need to remember that my life wasn’t always endless trips to the hardware store and clothes with paint stains all over them. Once upon a time I cooked!

In remembrance of things past, here’s a great dish from those days, feijoada.

You can see a not-great photo of feijoada from the meal delivery archives here. The next time I make it, I’ll plate it up nicely and take a photo to accompany this post.

Feijoada is a Brazilian rice and bean dish, almost always made with citrus and olives. It’s pronounced “feij-wada” with the “feij” sort of rhyming with “veg.” I first learned to make it at Bloodroot, and my recipe is based on theirs. Usually I’m no fan of citrus in savory foods, but the oranges in this dish really work. Like Bloodroot, I serve this dish with a homemade lemony hot sauce. The super simple recipe for it is below, and it will keep a few weeks in the fridge.

I’ve scaled both these recipes down from my gigantic meal delivery service-sized potions, so let me know if anything got lost in the math.

Feijoada

2 c black beans, cooked

2 onions, diced

3 red peppers, sliced

grape seed or canola oil

2 Tb. dried oregano or 3 Tb fresh oregano, chopped

1 Tb. freshly ground cumin

5-8 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 c red wine

1 (28 oz) can whole peeled tomatoes, chopped

sea salt

fresh pepper

3 Tb. lemon juice

1/4 c dark rum

3/4 c black olives, pitted and coarsely chopped

2 bunches kale or other leafy green or steamed vegetable, washed, coarsely chopped, steamed. This is pretty much optional, but nice.

zest from 1 orange

1 cup long grain brown rice, cooked

  1. Sauté onions and peppers in grape seed oil, adding spices and garlic in at end.
  2. Add cooked beans, wine, tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste. Cover and simmer 30 minutes.
  3. Stir in rum, olives, zest, kale, and lemon juice. Taste and adjust flavors if necessary.
  4. Serve over rice with hot sauce on the side.

lemon pepper hot sauce

1 c very finely chopped onion (resist the urge to chop it in the food processor unless you want a big watery mess)

1 clove garlic, made into a paste (chop it as finely as possible, adding a little salt and using the side of your knife to scrape everything together into a heap periodically, then chopping it and scraping it together and again until it becomes a paste.)

3-5 bottled pickled jalapeño peppers, finely minced

2/3 c lemon juice

Salt

  1. Mix all ingredients.