Thursday, March 01, 2007

Elephant Cake

No silly, there is no elephant in this cake, but there is lots of chocolate! I earmarked the recipe for this Elephant Chocolate Cake in my Native Foods Restaurant cookbook (pg.279) a long time ago, mainly because I am an advocate for elephants. The recipe is dedicated in the book to Carol Buckley and Tarra at the Elephant Sanctuary, in Hohenwald, Tennessee. This has got to be my favorite animal sanctuary and I love to watch the elecam on their website. I can spend a lot of time staring at the elephants roaming around, playing with each other. It is a truly wonderful place. Please check out the link and see what they are all about.

This cake is very dense, rich and almost fudgy. It uses a LOT of maple syrup, in both the batter and the Peanut Butter Cinnamon Topping, so be prepared to watch half of your bottle glug into the mixing bowl. *sigh* You will need a big glass of vanilla soymilk to drink with a slice of this cake!

Now, in addition to the Elephant Sanctuary, I also wanted to make note of some other favorite animal sanctuaries that I keep tabs on, and I hope you all will also find these places just as fantastic and beautiful as I do:
Equus Sanctuary

Save the Chimps

Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary

I like to go to these websites when I am feeling sad. When I first got back into animal rights activism a little over a year ago, I went through a depression of sorts. I got involved in a lot of online activism and forums, and I felt like all I saw or read about was animal cruelty and abuse. Every day I saw something new and unfathomable. I cried on a daily basis, and some days I would scream at all the horrific images I came across. I became a wreck, so sad and so downtrodden, and also very angry. I felt that I was always teetering on the edge of breaking down. My husband can attest to the fact that I was very hard to live with. I didn't like those feelings, and I needed to find a way to continue being an activist for animals, but also be a more positive, happier person. I ended up shying away from a lot of the forums and images, and focused on issues that I can handle...and obviously, the animal stories that end happily. Sure, I still deal with animal cruely issues and do what I can with my activism, but I have to set a limit of what I can handle. My heart is a very sensitive one, and I need to know that there is good in the I make sure I take time to see that there are people everywhere that are compassionate, and going to these sanctuary sites helps me get through my week. :-)

Now, here are a few food porn shots:

Lemon scones, from VwaV (the orange scone recipe), with lemon glaze.

Veggie pizza from Papa John's. Once a month my daughter's elementary school has a Pizza Night with Papa John's, where part of the nights proceeds goes to the school, depending on how many families order a pizza. Normally it is just my husband who orders his pepperoni pizza, but I decided to get a cheeseless one with baby portobello mushrooms and banana peppers. I souped it up a bit when I got it home with some spinach, artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, garlic and some vegan parmesan. So good! Be sure to only order the Original Crust, as the thin crust has dairy in it.

Spinach Stuffed Portobello Mushroom. Sorry, this one is not vegan, because I forgot to take pics of mine before I devoured them. That is just a pile of cheese on top of one of the "other" shrooms. :-)

Mexican Chocolate Rice Pudding, from VwaV. I really wanted to like this one, but alas, it was not for me. Or anyone else in the house. It is still sitting in the fridge....I wonder what I can do to it to make it better. I just don't think I like my pudding with chunks of anything in it.

Ooooh...I love the elecam!! I am watching an elephant splosh around in the water just now! It’s so cool!!!

I try my best to avoid any web sites with too much info about animal abuse. It’s too upsetting and it makes me so depressed and angry at humans. I went through phase of looking at too much stuff like that and I think my husband got a bit worried about me because I was miserable and crying all the time. So, I understand what you mean. Now I think it’s best to focus on the positive. Think of the stuff that you are doing to help animals and remember that there are lots of people out there you think the way you do too!

That cake looks amazing...I imagine there are a fair few calories in that!

I made scones yesterday and I was hunting for a recipe online. I can’t believe that I didn’t look in VWAV...doh! My scones were ok, but yours look better!!
I SO empathize with what you've written- when I first started learning about animal rights issues (as well as other things- human rights, everything) I did go through a despondant phase. I'm a very sensitive person to begin with, so sometimes images of torture and cruelty became literally too much. I can not tell you how many tears I've shed. But most of us get past that phase (maybe not completely) and learn to draw strength from a positive source. Here in upstate NY, I love visiting Farm Sanctuary- you realize that there is good in the world, that at least some animals are happy and cared for, and that we can work for change.

Sigh. Sorry for this long comment, but I loved your post!
hi brooke - i've been eyeing that elephant cake since visiting native foods & picking up the cookbook - you've iced it. and i'm a big fan of the vwav scones - i've done them orange, lemon, & lime -- all delish. i can't handle the saddness of animal cruelty, but i thank the powers that be that there are people in this world who take it on.
I've been thinking about that pudding. What would you think about putting it in the blender or food processor? Is rice too grainy for that? Could it then be heated with some soy milk to soften it up, then maybe add arrowroot or corn starch to thicken it up?
What an amazing cake - chocolate and peanut butter! The other treats look great too. I have a hard time liking rice pudding; maybe it confuses my tastebuds because I associate rice with savory foods. I have made chocolate oatmeal though!

Thanks for the links to the happy animal places. I understand about how depressing animal cruelty is - I'm sure most vegans do.
I think that the best vegan pizza available for takeout is Papa John's veggie pizza without cheese.

Another good sanctuary: Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, NY.
Love the cake and the 'cam.

Reading too much about the hardships of animals can get you down. Ihave been there. Don't overdo it--because that publicity is not meant for people like you. You already KNOW what these animals are going through and you are taking steps to help them. Instead, I think it's better to concentrate on taking positive actions, as you are already doing.

Those scones especially look tasty to me.

Brooke, thank you so much for caring about the animals... i know how hard it is to be informed on all of the things that make our hearts sting for the beautiful creatures out there...

I went to Native Foods last weekend and they gave me a piece of that Elephant Chocolate Cake w/the PB forsting for my b'day. SO GOOD!!! I have the Native Foods cookbook too, and have had it for quite some time now, but have yet to try a recipe. This might be the first one i try!

The pizzas look great. I have been known to get cheeseless pizza w/lotsa veggies on occasion. I had no idea you could get such exotic toppings from Papa John's! Live and learn!! Thanks for the head's up on the Original Crust. Will remember that for sure!

Spinach stuffed portobello mushrooms... mmmmmmmmmm!!!

Love the Mexican Choco Rice Pudding. I thought it was beans when i first spied it. It looks pretty good... sort of like tapioca! Has anyone eaten it yet? And just as an addendum, i love the bowl it's in! Gorgeous!!
I've been wondering about that chocolate cake recipe! Thanks for the heads up. Great, great great stuff going on here. Speaking of elephants, I'm really glad to hear about this elephant who gets to leave the zoo, finally:;_ylt=AoeOHyjlYcZVuYnLHrVCGRF4hMgF
I love the cam! And the cake too! :) Thanks for all the links!!

I know what you are saying about the "bad news" and images just being too much to bear after awhile! I can no longer watch the abuse footage that I used to be able to see. I just get depressed over it and it does me no good. I know it's happening, and I do my best to combat that. I hope you think positive things like that when the bad news come about more animal abuse. You are making a difference!
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