Meet my friend Zach. He’s one of those people that come into your life like: HI, we’re going to be friends forever now. Zach is an incredible musician and a lover of life’s best things (peanut butter, red wine, dark chocolate, jumping into cold oceans). He’s doing big things and going places. One of the places he’s going is Vermont, to live for a while and make lots of music. We threw a little going away fiesta in my backyard, complete with homemade horchata, Zach’s favorite fruit cart, roasted root veggie tacos, and lots of avocado. Cause extra avocado makes saying bye to your friends just a tiny bit easier.

Miss you already, Zach. Come back soon!

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If you’ve been following along with the DPA for a little while, you’ve heard me talk about my girl Haley of Brewing Happiness. We threw a SNOW party for 100 of our friends and then decided we should be friends for like, ever. She is the goddess of vegan food and takes the prettiest pictures, plus she’s really great at getting things DONE (I like those sorts of people). We mashed our styles this weekend and met up at my place for a homemade brunch for two. What I mean by mashing styles: everything we ate/drank was vegan, gluten free, and sugar free (Haley’s style), and there was lots of booze (my style).

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One thing I love about hanging with other bloggers is that they teach me a bunch. For instance, who knew that most bloody marys aren’t vegan?! Traditional bloody marys have a dash of worcestershire sauce, which has lots of ANCHOVIES up in there! All of the vegan versions we found contained sugar or gluten, so we took matters into our own hands and DIY’d the worcestershire sauce. The result is a smoky, tangy sauce that completely ROCKS when mixed with vodka and tomato juice.

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kimchi bloody marys
makes 1 cocktail

While I shook up cocktails, Haley made some seriously amazing vegan corn cakes for our brunching pleasure. We paired the bloody marys and corn cakes with 3 coffee (our favorite cold brew for eva eva) and then relished the good friend, good brunch moment. Head on over to Brewing Happiness for a recipe for those vegan corn cakes, but not before snagging this kimchi bloody mary recipe!

2 oz vodka
2 oz cabbage kimchi, plus more for topping
4 oz tomato juice
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon coconut aminos
1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 dash hot sauce
juice of 1/2 lemon
cabbage kimchi

Mix the apple cider vinegar, coconut aminos, and liquid smoke in a small bowl and set aside. In a blender, mix kimchi and tomato juice until Pour over ice and add vodka. Add the vinegar mixture, hot sauce, and lemon and stir with a cocktail spoon. Top with LOTS of kimchi and enjoy.

Let’s talk about girlbosses for just a minute. My friend Tatiana is the artist and owner of Troubled Ice, an ice sculpting business in sunny California. DO click the link and see the things she makes out of giant blocks of ice. Any girl who rocks a chainsaw is automatically a girlboss in my book, and the fact that Tatiana owns her own business is (lots of) icing on the cake. She lives in a warehouse with her husband to keep her ice business going and has transformed the space into a rad little apartment. Tatiana had me over for work one night and I immediately went into party planning mode. We dreamt up “the ultimate house party” that night, called up all of our favorite food and booze friends, and planned ourselves a dang good party.

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Planning a giant house party is sort of like creating a bar with only your favorite drinks and music and then adding ping pong. I’m going to gush about the rad vendors who partied with us real quick, because they were SO great and made the party what it was. Ray Bros Photobooth was THE best booth I’ve ever been in. You could choos between color and black & white for each photo, plus style yourself with tons of fun props. Photobooths (and everything, really) are more fun with booze, so Brewyard Beer Co & Caorunn Gin and Ludlow’s Cocktail Co livened things up with lychee beer and gin & tonics and artisanal jelly shots (WHAT?!). We balanced the booze with a pot roast and root veggie taco bar from Chef Kerry Prince and beer ice cream cones from Great Hops Ice Cream. Our DJ KILLED it with an all vinyl set (check her out!).

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Everyone’s favorite part of the evening was (hands down!) Tatiana’s live ice sculpting performance. She carved the word ROAR and then set it on fire. What?! How?! It was totally theatrical and inspiring. Currently trying to figure out how everyone in LA can see this lady rock a chainsaw. Maybe a DPA roadshow?! Coming to a warehouse near you.

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Meet my friend Elliott. I blogged about this dude a longggg time ago when I had him over for a pancakes and whiskey dinner. A year and a half later, he’s totally become part of my LA family. His girlfriend, Ramya (FYI: major girl crush material), decided to throw Elliott a surprise party for his 25th. I co-planned because they’re my favorite couple in the world, a because birthdays are my favorite, and because beer/ice cream/sprinkles were very involved.

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The party was a week after Elliott’s actual birthday (we were brunching on the real day). We made a build-your-own-beer float bar on my porch for the adults, completely with all of the good ice cream flavors (coffee/chocolate/vanilla), walnuts, coconut, and maraschino cherries. We had some little guests at the party too, and I was completely impressed with their sprinkles-to-ice cream ratio.

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We popped a couple pizzas in the oven, opened more beers, and boom! We had a party. I’m completely in love with my porch and my friends, so it made me so super happy to be able to host my first real porch party at my new place.

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Cheers to the good things: birthdays, beer with ice cream in it, and the sunniest Sundays I ever did see. Happy birthday, Elliott!

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A thought I had in that middle ground between being awake and nap sleeping: “Want to be cool and interesting? Be happy as f*ck. No one is happy as f*ck anymore.”

My nap brain says bad words, but my nap brain is right.

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Things that make me happy lately:

citrus season (also, avocado season)
getting my car washed
sitting on the porch with my friends
not setting an alarm clock
eating green things
planning trips and parties
baking cake

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I’ve been busy checking as many things off of this list as possible. Lots of kale, lots of cake, lots of parties (and party planning). I made this citrus upside down cake for my down home pop up brunch, because brunch dessert is a thing. It’s a cross between corn bread and pineapple upside down cake, made in a cast iron skillet (which is my favorite). I love being able to to melt butter and sugar on stovetop and then throw the whole dang thing into the oven. I served this with more roasted citrus, whipped coconut cream, and pistachio dust–you can see photos of that on my beautiful friend’s website, duckshots.net!

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blood orange upside down cake
based on a New York Times recipe

2 sticks + 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 blood orange, 1 valencia orange, & 1 lemon
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup flour (I used gluten free, but all purpose works as well)
1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1/3 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Zest one orange and set aside. Prepare your citrus by slicing into quarter inch slices and carefully cutting off the peel. Melt 3 Tablespoons of butter in a cast iron skillet and then add brown sugar and lemon juice. Stir until the sugar is melted, about three minutes. Turn off the heat and press citrus sliced into the butter and sugar mixture.

In a large bowl, combine orange zest, cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, cream 2 sticks of butter with sugar. Add eggs one at a time, then beat in sour cream and vanilla extract. Fold in the flour mixture until just combined.

Pour the batter into the skillet over the butter/sugar/citrus layer. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes or so before running a knife along the edges of the skillet and turning onto a large plate or cutting board. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.