“I watched the sunrise today. Couldn’t sleep.”

“How was it?”

“Average.”

I decided to turn a room into a camera obscura for this photo (no Photoshop!). A camera obscura is created by letting a small amount of light into a pitch dark vessel through a pinhole. Such vessels include a camera, cardboard box, or in this case, a room with the window completely covered, save for a small hole cut out. The light that enters through the pinhole will project an inverted image of whatever is on the other side of the window (like a house and a tree…not very interesting, but what I had to work with), much like the human eye interprets the world.

candied-starfruit

While the brain automatically flips the images the eye registers so we see the world right side up, a pinhole and a wall don’t have a brain, so we get an inverted image in a camera obscura. After your eyes adjust, the image on the wall will become quite clear, but a camera with a very long exposure will do an even better job of seeing it and will bring out color and detail. Yay, science!

Photo credit: BBC

Photo credit: BBC

So what does this have to do with Mad Men? In the season three episode, ‘Seven Twenty Three’ there is a total eclipse of the sun (you’re welcome!) and it seems to make the characters a little madder. Betty buys a fainting couch, Don drugs himself with secobarbital and alcohol, then gets beaten and robbed by the teenage hitchhikers he picked up, Peggy makes some questionable decisions, and Don is forced to sign a contract with Sterling Cooper. One of the more innocuous scenes is Sally’s third grade class turning cardboard boxes into camera obscurae in order to look at the eclipse.

vegan-moon-pies

With the Space Race underway and the solar eclipse in this episode, I decided to photograph a space-themed dessert in the camera obscura: Vegan Moon Pies and Candied Starfruit. Two graham crackers sandwiched between marshmallow fluff and dipped in chocolate, then garnished with candied starfruit. It’s barely a recipe, but it produces some seriously delicious results. I used peanut butter cookies instead of graham crackers because peanut butter cookies are better than graham crackers.

Moon Pies

Ingredients

Graham crackers or cookies
Vegan marshmallows or marshmallow fluff
Chocolate
Vegetable shortening

Instructions

  1. If graham crackers are not circle-shaped, cut them into circles.
  2. Make a sandwich with two crackers and marshmallow fluff. Pop in the freezer for a half hour to make for easier dipping.
  3. Melt chocolate chips, adding 1 tablespoon of vegetable shortening per cup.
  4. Dip sandwiches in chocolate and let set on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Candied Starfruit

Ingredients

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 starfruit

Instructions

  1. Combine sugar and water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil around 230°F.
  2. Cut starfruit into thin slices. Add to the saucepan and let boil for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let sit in the syrup for 5 minutes.
  3. Transfer the starfruit to a parchment-lined baking sheet using a slotted spoon. Let cool.
  4. At this point, you can either dehydrate the slices with a dehydrator, or an oven at its lowest temperature (crack the oven door open, even). Let dehydrate until chewy and free of moisture. Mine took a couple of hours in a 170°F oven with the door cracked open.
Photo credit: AMC

Photo credit: AMC

Don’t look at the eclipse, Betty. Your eyes will melt.

camera-obscura-photo

And a final image inside the camera obscura. While Photoshop probably would have been much easier, it would have been way less fun and magical.

P.S. Today the Vegan MoFo blog is giving away a copy of the yet-to-be-released Cheers to Vegan Sweets. Head on over there to enter!

Cheers to Vegan Sweets

“Sally, go watch TV.”

*Warning: season three spoilers!

vegan-peach-pie

When I was watching Mad Men for the first time. The second time around, I was supposed to pay attention to food, design, and table setting for this project, but alas, I got sucked in and forgot for the greater portion of six seasons. However, there are some scenes that I didn’t need to actively remember because they made quite an impression.

mad-men-peach-pie

One of those scenes is in season three episode four, ‘The Arrangements.’ After Grandpa Gene’s death, the adults are sitting at the dining table, a world away from Sally. When she witnesses a moment of levity, she bursts forth with emotion, exclaiming no one cares that Gene is gone forever, and gets brushed off by Betty. (“Sally, go watch TV.”) Betty snacks on the bruised peaches while the TV pacifies Sally in her ballet outfit. Besides the beautiful and emotive imagery, this scene speaks volumes. While defeated Sally lies on the floor, the adults make no attempt to show her that her claims are wrong, and continue with their sordid, repressed lives.

For me, it evokes Gregory Crewdson*, creator of lush imagery dealing with suburban psychological unrest. His images are not specific to any time period, but there are certainly visual crossovers with Mad Men.

*Sidenote: I attended an artist talk of his where he referred to Mad Men as “the greatest work of sustained art in the past ten years.” See, full circle logic!
mad-men-the-arrangements

Photo credit: AMC

Prior to his passing, Sally became close to Grandpa Gene. He was letting Sally drive his car down the street when he says he’ll buy her peaches that afternoon. Bobby complains that he’s allergic to peaches, but Gene tells him to shut it because his sister wants them. It’s at the A&P buying the peaches where he collapses.

sally-draper-driving

Photo credit: AMC

With this series of events in mind, I decided to make peach pie à la mode as a gesture toward Sally, even though she would be much older now, and also she’s not a real person. Betty probably would probably take it away from her anyway.

peach-pie-vegan

Sweet vanilla bean ice cream and warm peaches offer a short, transient window of time to enjoy the dessert. I styled the photos after the image of the dining room and Sally in her ballet outfit, using dark, moody lighting and sheer fabrics.

mad-men-pie-recipe

Peach Pie

Serves 8-10

Ingredients

Crust:

3 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening
1/3 cup margarine
1/4 cup cold vodka or ice water
3 tablespoons ice water

Filling:

8 peaches (5 cups sliced)
Pinch of lemon zest
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter

Instructions

  1. Make the crust. Combine flour, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl
  2. Cut in shortening and margarine and mix in with your hands until the dough looks like sand.
  3. Add vodka and ice water and mix until a dough forms, adding more water if necessary.
  4. Separate the dough into two portions, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for an hour.
  5. Remove the peach skins by blanching the peaches. Boil a large pot of water, and prepare an ice bath.
  6. Score a small X in the top of each peach. Place all the peaches in the boiling water for 45 seconds, then immediately transfer them to the ice bath. The skins will slip right off.
  7. Slice the peaches and set aside. Wait to make the filling because it will get too liquidy if it sits for too long.
  8. Preheat oven to 425°F. Roll out one of the chilled doughs and place in a greased pie plate. Poke with a fork so steam can escape. Pre-bake the crust for 8 minutes. Let cool.
  9. Make the filling. Add lemon zest, lemon juice, sugars, spices, cornstarch, and salt to the peaches and mix until completely combined. Pour into pie crust. Dot with butter.
  10. Make a lattice crust with the other portion of dough. There are people with beautiful kitchens on YouTube who can teach you how to make a lattice crust.
  11. Place completed pie on a cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes.
  12. Reduce the heat to 375°F and finish baking for 30 minutes.
  13. Let cool, then cut and serve.

vegan-peach-pie-recipe

Tom Collins: “Okay, you don’t smash the cherry on that.”

“Just plop it in at the end. Try to keep it in the top of the glass. Gin.”

tom-collins-recipe

It’s Mad Men Cocktail Friday and I’m borrowing Sally Draper’s Tom Collins expertise for the day. From Tom Collins to Bloody Mary, the eldest Draper child knows her stuff when it comes to cocktails. On a seemingly eternal quest to prove her adulthood, Sally began mixing drinks garnished with sass in the early days of Mad Men.

sally-draper-quotes

In lieu of your own Sally, you’ll probably have to mix your own Tom Collins. Cheers!

Tom Collins

Ingredients

2 ounces gin
2 ounces lemon juice
1 ounce simple syrup
Club soda

Lemon slices
Cherry

Instructions

  1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add the gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Shake.
  2. Strain into a Collins glass filled with ice and lemon slices. Top off with club soda.
  3. Garnish with a cherry.

lemon-tom-collins

Meditations in an Emergency

*Warning: season two spoilers!

mad-men-gimlet-recipe

Welcome back to Mad Men Cocktail Friday, Thursday edition. After a week largely focused on Betty Draper, I thought an extra cocktail recipe, the Vodka Gimlet, was in order. We see Betty with her signature drink in season one, but the most notable Gimlet she orders is the one accompanied with her affair in the season two finale, ‘Meditations in an Emergency.’

It’s the thick of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Betty just received news that she’s pregnant, and she and Don are separated. She stops in a Manhattan bar and a man buys her a drink. Though she initially brushes him off to nurse her Gimlet, they are later seen together in a room behind the bar. They get dressed and go their separate ways.

While Betty’s Gimlet was likely vodka, gin is also acceptable.

Betty Draper’s Vodka Gimlet

Ingredients

1 1/2 ounces vodka
1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
Lime slice for garnish

Instructions

  1. Combine vodka and lime juice in a mixing glass filled with ice.
  2. Strain into a martini glass.
  3. Garnish with lime.

Photo credit: AMC

Photo credit: AMC

“But that’s life. One minute you’re on top of the world…”

…the next minute some secretary’s running you over with a lawn mower.”

joan-holloway-cake

Hey, remember when Lois the secretary runs over Guy MacKendrick’s foot with a lawnmower at Joan’s going away party? And right after he got his foot in the door?! (Thanks, Roger.)

After two days of Betty, I felt that this week needed some silly comic relief. Here is Joan’s cake after the splat heard ’round the office.

“What an interesting experiment.”

Welcome back to Betty’s dinner party. You better be enjoying yourself! For the main course, we’re having rosemary seitan “leg of lamb” with mint jelly, and German egg noodles (Spätzle) like Grandma Hofstadt used to make. There is French Burgundy wine and Heineken to drink. And the napkins match the dress Betty will wear for 36+ hours!

betty-draper-party

Around the World Menu

Mixed Drinks

Gazpacho (Spain)
Rumaki (Japan)

Leg of Lamb with Mint Jelly (Dutchess County)
Spätzle (Germany)

Burgundy (France)
Heineken (Holland)

mad-men-betty

Leg of Lamb with Mint Jelly

Serves 5-6

Ingredients

2 cups gluten flour
2 tablespoons cornmeal
2 tablespoons dried rosemary
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
⅓ cup olive oil
¾ cup red wine
1 tablespoon soy sauce
¼ cup lemon juice
6 cloves garlic, grated

Mint jelly

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F, about 10 times warmer than your disposition.
  2. Combine gluten flour, cornmeal, dried rosemary, salt, and black pepper in a mixing bowl or stand mixer equipped with a dough hook. Fantasize about taking that dough hook to Don’s jugular.
  3. Combine olive oil, red wine, soy sauce, lemon juice, and garlic in a separate bowl. Take a break and finish that bottle of wine.
  4. Pour the liquids into the dry ingredients and mix until a dough forms. Knead until it’s as flexible as Don’s morals.
  5. Coat the dough with olive oil and wrap in foil. Bake at least 1 hour, or until firm. Unwrap for the last 15 minutes of baking.
  6. Brush with mint jelly and bake for 10-12 more minutes.
  7. Slice and serve with more mint jelly.
Photo credit: AMC

Photo credit: AMC

While Mad Men doesn’t specify what kind of egg noodles Betty serves, Spätzle fits the bill as a German noodle dish. You could probably use the Vegg or a different egg replacer in the dough, but soy flour was what I had on hand. I served the noodles with caramelized onions, pan-frying the noodles with the onions for a few minutes before plating.

Spätzle

Serves 5

Ingredients

4 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup soy flour
3 tablespoons oil
1 1/2-2 cups water, as needed

Instructions

  1. Pour flour in a mixing bowl and stir in the salt. Ruminate on your invisibility and powerlessness, much like the salt.
  2. Combine soy flour and oil in a separate bowl and stir until combined. The mixture will be as thick and sludgy as your personality.
  3. Add soy flour and oil mixture, as well as 1 1/2 cups water, to the flour. Mix until a bread-like dough forms, adding more water if necessary.
  4. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Take small pieces of dough and roll into noodles, kind of the size and shape of wax beans.
  5. Boil 12-14 noodles at a time and remove when they rise to the top of the water. Transfer cooked noodles to a bowl of cold water.
  6. Repeat until all the dough is used. Store noodles in an (unlike Don’s excuses) airtight container with water until ready to use.

mad-men-party

The evening turns sour when Betty unknowingly participates in Don’s market research. Heineken is a Sterling Cooper client and Don insists the target demographic for the beer is a Bryn Mawr alumna turned passive-aggressive housewife with a penchant for exoticism (or something like that). This embarrasses Betty when she walks right into the joke by purchasing the beer. Of course, the problem is not the Heineken incident, but Don’s adulterous adultery. Poor Betty.

Photo credit: AMC

Photo credit: AMC

“No one’s ever on your side, Betty.”

Brace yourselves, dear readers, for a double dose of Betty Draper. She may be a Mad Men woman scorned, but “victim of circumstance” and “dramatic, manipulative, and vindictive child” are not mutually exclusive titles. Put on your crazypants and join me for a modern interpretation of Betty’s “Around the World” dinner party from the season two episode, ‘A Night to Remember.’

mad-men-betty-party

Around the World Menu

Mixed Drinks

Gazpacho (Spain)
Rumaki (Japan)

Leg of Lamb with Mint Jelly (Dutchess County)
Spätzle (Germany)

Burgundy (France)
Heineken (Holland)

Photo credit: AMC

Photo credit: AMC

Pour yourself a drink and tuck in to the first course, Gazpacho and Rumaki. Like now, because Betty’s got a gun.

Gazpacho

Serves 4-5

Ingredients

2 cups tomatoes
1 green pepper
1/2 red onion
1 cucumber
2 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup red wine
1/3 cup fresh basil
Salt and pepper
Chives

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender while instructing Bobby to bang his head against the wall.
  2. Blend until smoother than your serial cheater hubster.
  3. Adjust flavors to your liking, then attempt to do the same with the people around you.
  4. Serve garnished with chives and vegetable slices. Make way to fainting couch.

Variation: For roasted garlic gazpacho, replace the cloves of garlic with 1/2 head roasted garlic.

Photo credit: AMC

Photo credit: AMC

Have you ever made rumaki? I thought it would be a type of sushi or some cute little appetizer, but it turns out it’s bacon-wrapped chicken liver and water chestnuts. What the fresh hell, Bets? If I wasn’t making multiple courses, perhaps I would have tried veganizing chicken liver. But in a pinch, Upton’s Naturals bacon-wrapped Gardein chicken tenders did the trick.

vegan-gazpacho

Eat up, then come back tomorrow for the main course!

“Vodka and Mountain Dew is an emergency.”

peggy-mountain-dew

Welcome to the second installment of Mad Men Cocktail Fridays! In season 4 of Mad Men, SCDP takes on Mountain Dew as a client. Given the task of creating cocktail recipes, the copywriters can’t figure it out because they are focused on ignoring Peggy’s authority. While Peggy is busy “pioneering the science of wet blanketry” because she insists a cocktail needs at least three ingredients, they drink vodka and Mountain Dew. A group of incompetent copywriters could be classified as a minor emergency, so Peggy probably deserves a glass of “Rocket Fuel.” Firing Joey was probably a better reward.

Rocket Fuel

Joey says, “It tastes good because it still basically tastes like Mountain Dew.” Peggy says it’s great for young people and hillbillies.

Ingredients

Vodka
Mountain Dew

Instructions

  1. Get a glass.
  2. Pour in Vodka and Mountain Dew.
  3. Stir with a pen or pencil.
  4. Consume.
peggy-mountain-dew

Photo credit: AMC

This marks the end of Vegan MoFo week two. Stay away from the Rocket Fuel this weekend and come back Monday for the third week of Mad Men MoFo!

“I am one of those girls.”

peggy-basket-of-kisses

Peggy Olson’s copywriting career begins during a focus group for Belle Jolie lipstick company. After some instigation, half the women in the group break down, sobbing about their relationships and insecurities. Peggy looks on, stupefied, and delivers a couple of one-liners that get the Miss Deaver’s Secretarial School alumna noticed by the boys’ club.

basket-of-kisses

Photo credit: AMC

While carrying the wastebasket of tissues covered in lipstick samples (there’s probably some snot and tears in there as well), she refers to it as a “basket of kisses.” Of course, she couldn’t possibly form a succinct metaphor on the spot with her secretary brain, so it takes some convincing that she did, in fact, think of that all by herself. She continues, “I don’t think anyone wants to be one of a hundred colors in a box.” With that, she is responsible for the Belle Jolie ad and launches the ‘Mark Your Man’ campaign.

Photo credit: AMC

Photo credit: AMC

As Sterling-Cooper’s newest copywriter and Don’s protégé, Peggy is now responsible for the woman accounts, like Playtex and the Relax-a-Cizor* “weight loss device.”

*Turns out the Relax-a-Cizor was a real thing, and it was quite dangerous. Who knew?

A newly minted copywriter, Peggy orders a Brandy Alexander, just like her friend Joan orders for her, while on a date with a truck driver a few episodes later. They start with small talk about their jobs, and the chemistry is a bit off from the beginning. Clearly threatened by her ambition, the date ends early when he tells her that she is not like the girls in Manhattan, and she never will be. Not one to back down, she simply states, “I am one of those girls.”

Vegan Brandy Alexander

Adapted from the Mad Men Cocktail Guide

Ingredients

¾ oz soy creamer or thick non-dairy milk
¾ oz brandy
¾ oz vegan crème de cacao

Cocoa powder
Nutmeg

Instructions

  1. If desired, coat the rim of martini glass with cocoa powder. Dip the rim in a bowl of milk or creamer. Roll the edge on a plate with cocoa powder. Shake off excess.
  2. Pour the liquors and cream into a mixing glass.
  3. Shake and pour in martini glass. Garnish with a sprinkle of nutmeg on top.

Of course, Peggy has come a long way from Brandy Alexanders and baskets of kisses. As she gains more clout, she proves that she can form opinions, thoughts, and taglines for companies and products that everyone uses. She does not renounce her feminine identity to get ahead, nor does she question her authenticity or character when she explores her identity and sexuality. Except sometimes she does question herself, like people do, but she moves on and earns her success. Carry on, Peggy Olson.

peggy-olson-drinks