Tag Archive for vegetarian

Mujadara for a Movement, As I Rise.

In the place where Gus used to watch me work, I put an art desk. His blanket lays under my feet.

It’s been a little over three weeks since Gus died. And it’s time to have people over for dinner.

I’m not gonna lie: I spend some of my days off sobbing, this new specific loneliness a pointy rake across my ribs. I kneel at Gus’s grave and picture his pointy little perfect face. It’s unbelievable that I will never see it again. Not ever. But I am practicing, with his love, to learn about death. Because it is going to keep coming. On the branches of my family tree. Within my cherished client list and at my communal table of friends. I don’t want to have the relationship to death that my culture has. So I think about that. And I watch the news.

So I am also thinking about Cleveland. About the scores of black activists and the activated, a powerful gathering of black humanity coming together in strength and love and thought and rage. I am thinking about Mike Brown and Sandra Bland and India Clarke and Oscar Grant and Trayvon Martin and Tamir Rice and Michelle Cusseaux and Eric Garner and Rekia Boyd and London Chanel and Cynthia Hurd and Rev. Clementa Pinckney and Sharonda Coleman-Singleton and Tywanza Sanders and Myra Thompson and Ethel Lee Lance and Susie Jackson and Daniel L. Simmons and Depayne Middleton and the countless other Black lives I have not named here, taken too soon, in violence, in a long perfectly straight line right up from the slavery we built this country on. This is another kind of death.

As my friend J. Bob Alotta says,

“this country makes monsters out of it’s power-keepers, corpses out of so many of it’s children, renders so many sedated in complicity or agony or both… but it will make warriors out of the rest of us.
my gd, it surely will.”

And for this work, we must stay strong. We need to care for ourselves and each other in this work. Because it will be hard work. It will be work that is constant and difficult and exhausting. Sometimes it will be devastating. This work of making sure we support the voices of the #blacklivesmatter movement will call on our reserves if we do this work justice. If we give it what it deserves. And we must.

I will do this work. (Photo from Getty Images)

To do this work we need nourishment. We need community, love, sleep, friendship, and for me, faith. Luckily, these things often feed each other. And lifting my head from a dog’s grave to the news of yet another Black Mother burying her child at the hands of police who tried to cover it up, I am ready.

Harvest Duds.

From the earth that houses both the dead and this life, I harvested a bunch of ingredients to make this food, build community, care for my body, and come to share with you. I first made a version of this dish after seeing a recipe in The New York Times by Melissa Clark. I’ve since made several versions from cookbooks and blogs each employing variations from this Middle –Eastern dish. This is a dish from lands of people that have been nourishing themselves through war and heartbreak for many, many, too many years. It’s a rich concoction of deep flavor and vegetable protein and fiber and warmth. The flavors come from a long history of each region with local, class, and religious traditions varying the ingredients and the presentation. It is delicious and affordable and grounded.

Here I present to you a mash-up of different recipes that all come out in this fragrant and addictive version. There are a lot of ingredients, so if you’re new to longer recipes, it’s good to get all the ingredients out and prepped first. Have your garlic crushed and your shallot sliced into rings and so on. This amount will feed about 6-8 people.

1 c green lentils                                                                1 ½ t ground cumin
¾ c brown basmati rice                                                     1 T coriander seeds
2 leeks, trimmed                                                               ½ t ground allspice
1 shallot, sliced                                                                 1 bay leaf
¼ c olive oil                                                                      1 cinnamon stick
2 cloves garlic, minced                                                      1 t sea salt
4 c vegetable broth                                                           ½ t ground black pepper
4 c trimmed and chopped leafy greens                                handful fresh mint
(kale, chard, mustard)                                                        ½ t turmeric

Soak your lentils in warm water while you prep all your goods. Leeks often have dirt and grit inside them. Hack off the dark green fanned edges and the slice up the center of the leek lengthwise. Rinse the dirt out then cut them all crosswise, pretty thin. Heat your oil in a large heavy soup pot and toss in your leeks and sliced shallot. Cook until golden brown. It’ll take about ten minutes. They should get crunchy.  Then set half the mixture aside in a bowl and dust with some salt. This is going to be a garnish at the end and everyone will wrestle for each last crumb. You’ll remember this later and use crunchy leeks and onion for all manner of things in the future. Like for topping your soups. Put your garlic in with the rest of everything and cook that for about a minute. Now add in your rice, cumin, allspice, turmeric, black pepper and coriander. Cook all of this for about 5 minutes. Now drain your lentils and add them to the pot. Cook it all for another minute. Add your vegetable broth, cinnamon stick and bay leaf and bring everything to a boil. Turn down to a simmer, cover, and cook everything for an hour.

Now lay your greens and mint over the whole pot and return the cover. Cook for another 5 minutes, then remover from heat and let sit covered for another 5-10 minutes. Serve with the crispy leeks and shallots.

OPTIONS: You can toss in a little cardamom for your spice mix. Toss in fresh squeezed lemon before you serve. Have it as a chilled side the next day. Make a yogurt sauce to go with it.

Some ingredients with Lilith Rockett’s beautiful porcelain and my novice, and cute, stoneware.

Steve and Tim came over from across the hill where they run Spirit Fire Retreat, home of my forthcoming October Lucky Devil Autumn Getaway. Stay tuned for details. In the mean time, enjoy this food with friends and activists and survivors. Enjoy it with a love of this life if at all possible. And if not, enjoy it any way you can.

Love,
Sara Elise.

My Good Friend, The Humble Lentil

Each season I take 21 days to eat an entirely plant based diet and remove common allergens and inflammatories from my food routine. Some foods I decide to take longer breaks from, and others I can’t wait to get back to, and these choices change every season. Why is this important for the context of this post? For a couple reasons.

So simple. So delicious.

The most important reason is that each time I do a Restoration, my test kitchen goes into overdrive to keep a constant sense of discovery within the practice and to bring a vital experience of creativity to my kitchen. Or just to wake me out of a rut I can tend to fall into. It’s been my experience that people assume since I am a health coach and I do this kind of work daily, that my relationships to food, cooking and creative practice are all locked down. Like I am a born-again kind of health nut after my years of questionable choices and that I arrive here beyond all the challenges that go with this body. The belief is that I kind of levitate through the kitchen, a blissful fountain of delicious ideas pouring forth out of a traditionally gorgeous figure, equipped with the kitchen skills of a chef. And I’m probably over here dispensing advice and silently judging those of you who don’t give a shit what a hemp heart is. Some assumptions sashay along the path that I’m sporting a healthy glow after an easy nine mile run through the countryside and I’m looking forward to my fresh pressed green juice as I sit and solve all the digestive problems of every client I meet and pluck magical solutions to each conundrum of every soul and hand them out benevolently each hour. I wrap each day on the foam roller applying a soothing self-massage to my shoulder, so sore from patting myself on the back for a wonderful day of saving people from themselves and their terrible habits.

The truth is, my struggles happen alongside everyone else’s. Seasonal restorations have become a deeply important practice for me to re-set not just my body, but my routine in the kitchen. To keep learning, and to stay fresh as a facilitator and a human being. I usually adopt a new cookbook, or a new-to-me cookbook to study each season (or several) and bring new flavor profiles and skills to the experience for myself and my fellow Restorers.

Green, red, and French lentils. The French tend to hold together the strongest, as do the unpictured black, or Beluga lentils. Green and Red are perfect for soups. Pottery by the talented Charlene Swift.

The other reason it’s important for me to tell you that I’m at the tail end of the Spring Restoration is that before I began this season, I had been on a serious coffee bender. I had to begin weaning myself off The Bean because I was not only having my morning cup, but indulging every mild yen along the way as well. I’ve noticed that as The Keurig rises to World Domination leaving a brand new trail of plastic for our oceans in its wake, local businesses have set them up all over the place as welcoming committees for all of us as we wait. There is one at the vet, the tax people’s office and the local farm supply place. There’s samples at the grocery store and a station at the farmer’s market. Even the 9th ring of hell at the state car inspection place has set up a friendly interlude with Maxwell House K cups and artificial creamer. The original impulse for me wasn’t even about the coffee, it’s that I am such a SUCKER for FRIENDLINESS in a world that may be heating up on the weather front, but is growing decidedly colder in the human interaction arena that I want to be a part of each and every act of public kindness I can find. Couple this with my love of coffee and WHOOP, there it is.

As you might be able to guess by the heroic and rambling length of the preamble to the lentil

I DRANK COFFEE TODAY FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THREE WEEKS AND I AM HIGH AS HELL.

It’s a little fucking slice of heaven, frankly. Half the reason I love quitting coffee four times a year is the total euphoria of the return of the first cup. I mean, I fucking LOVE IT. I’m sure after reading about my former enthusiasm for crystal meth, this comes as no surprise in the neighborhood of my proclivities, but OH, how the rock and roll lifestyle moves along. I could not be luckier or more deeply grateful that my big rush is now a stovetop espresso while wandering through the garden to see how much the parsley grew in one day of sun.  Ahem. Feel free to update your files about how health coaches only make perfect “healthy” choices. Or at least me. I will work on dismantling my suburban punk perfectionism one glorious cup of coffee at a time.

So. What about lentils?
Yes, the wonderful little lentil.

Many years ago, I think it was 1993 in Portland, OR at a vegan lesbian potluck, someone gave me a slice of lentil loaf. The offering arrived on my plate dense and brown and sad, dotted with specks of hopeful carrots and weighing about a full metric ton. SO depressing. Obviously, this not only put me off lentils for a solid decade, it filled me with an expansive dread that perhaps my love of butches might be doomed to arrive with a community hot girls but abysmal, flavorless, vegan food experiences. Now, I can’t stand by while both vegans and lesbians have to shoulder the atrocity of what transpired at so many similar potlucks from the 70s through the 90s. Not to mention the punishment the good name of the lentil has taken.

GODDESS BLESS THE HUMBLE LENTIL.

I got this recipe from my favorite cookbook of the season which I can’t shut the hell up about, Amy Chaplain’s At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen. The only thing I’ve changed is that she uses 3 cloves of garlic and I use 5 because when it comes to garlic, in our house, MORE IS BETTER.

Such satisfaction. And such a taste sensation.

Amy Chaplain’s Lemony Marinated French Lentils

1c French Lentils, sorted and washed
3c filtered water
3 bay leaves
5 whole garlic cloves, peeled
2 in piece kombu (cooked with legumes, this can help with gas later. You’re welcome.)
Zest of 1 lemon
2T lemon juice (1/2 a lemon)
3T olive oil
1/2t salt, more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
Chopped fresh parsley to garnish

Soak your lentils. Amy says 12-24 hours but 4 will do. And if you forgot, just rinse and add 5 minutes to your cooking time. Drain the lentils and put them in your heavy pot with your kombu, bay leaves and garlic cloves. Bring everything to a boil, then turn your flame down to a simmer, cover and let cook for about 25 minutes (30 if you didn’t soak). You want your little lentils to be soft, but not coming apart into a mush.

While everything is cooking, combine the rest of your ingredients (except parsley) in a bowl and whisk together. Drain your lentils when they are ready and stir in your wet oil mixture.

Part of why I love this recipe so much has to do with what happens after. You can serve these on their own as a main if you like. They are bright tasting and zingy and filling and taste divine. You can also chill them and have them next day as a plant protein in a salad, or transform them into a salad of their own, adding diced tomatoes, red quinoa, radishes, cucumbers and carrots OR you can put them back on the stove with a cup of vegetable broth, bring to a boil and turn down to simmer once again and VOILA, you’ve got a killer lentil soup in 15 dang minutes.

 

 

Winter Blizzard Chili for Everyone

There is really nothing better in a crazy winter storm than a bowl of phenomenal chili. I concocted this version based on a venison recipe by Hank Shaw. If you are not a vegetarian, his version is really scrumptious and I think you might like it. I mean, it has slab bacon in it so there’s that. But for me a truly lovely thing about a bowl of chili is sitting around with a ton of friends and digging in. Because I know so many vegetarians, vegans and gluten free eaters, I like to make big batches of things that everyone can partake in. This spicy treat does the trick. And you know what Hank offered in his that sold me?

It’s the coffee.

(A rich decaf works just as well as full tilt if your crowd is caffeine free as well) The rich and earthy taste of this chili grounds the heat of the peppers and it’s just a damn joy. This recipe has some time notes so read it through first before attempting.

3 tablespoons olive oil
1c kidney beans, soaked overnight
1c cannellini beans, soaked overnight
4 dried chipotle peppers
1 dried ancho chile
1 medium sweet potato
2 large onions, diced
1 diced shallot
6-8 cloves garlic, chopped
1 jalapeno, fresh, chopped
1 tablespoon caraway, ground
5 all spice pods, ground
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons cumin, ground
1 tablespoon coriander, ground
2 tablespoons unfiltered apple cider vinegar
1 small can tomato paste
2 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped or one small can
1 cup of delicious coffee
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2c vegetable broth
2 tablespoons salt (you can use smoked salt here or chocolate salt if you have either. otherwise use seas salt or pink Himalayan. The pink is saltier so maybe start with 1 T and add to taste)
Cilantro to garnish
Get your beans and soak them in filtered water overnight. Alternately, use organic from a can in a pinch. I myself am in an Eden Foods boycott, but Westbrae carries great food. Pour 1c boiling water over the dried chiles and let them puff up (about an hour). Seed the chiles toss in the blender with their soaking water and the coffee.

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

In a heavy lidded pot or Dutch oven, heat your olive oil. Add onion and shallots to the pot and cook until soft, stirring often. Now add your vampiric repellant garlic, and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Cut your sweet potato in half, then long quarters and slice thin. Add the quarter moons to the mix. Cook another 2 minutes and add your apple cider vinegar. Now add the beans, paprika, cumin, caraway, allspice, coriander and salt all together and stir to bring it all together like a show tune. You probably want to let all of this hang out for a few minutes to become family.

Add your blended chile mix and tomato paste, then the chopped tomatoes, maple syrup and cover everything with your vegetable broth. Bring it all home and then put the heavy lid on.
Pop it in the oven for 2 hours. Hank says you want to check to see if you need more salt and broth (I haven’t yet, but you never know), and to see how the beans are doing. If you have the jalapeño, this is its time to shine. Dice it and add it in. THEN WASH YOUR HANDS REALLY GOOD. And don’t rub your eyes or any other delicate areas on yourself or anyone you like a lot.

Pop it back in the oven for 30 minutes. Let rest for 15 minutes. Serve with your grain of choice, or bread, or chips and top with cilantro. Or if you are stuck in a storm and only have arugula like in this photo, use that.

ENJOY my little blizzard Amazons!

Also yummy with wild rice chips

Goodbye San Francisco, Notes on Ex-Lovers, and Welcome Home with Chana Masala.

It’s been nearly three weeks since I got here to my new home across the country from my beloved San Francisco. It’s not that all its digital money boom entirely obscured its charms from me with the Google busses and the wall to wall boutique donuts. It would take more than that. I love that town. I will always love that town. The way in which I remember some of the women who have come and gone. I can always recall how that one smelled so good right behind the neck like pomade and a campfire, or the other one, how she read me Raymond Chandler while I soaked in the bath. There was the first real true love who I somehow convinced, in true lesbian fashion, to stay on as my favorite abiding and loyal friend and that one who I don’t remember much about except how good she looked in those work-worn Levi’s every time she left. I always remember her leaving, which, as it turns out, is probably how the memory should go. I Hate to See You Leaving, But I Love to Watch You Go. All of those connections, like the city, are still easy in these ways to love. And with San Francisco, my favorite metropolis so far in which to live, I look forward to seeing her again, I know the exact angle of the sun going down on the bay in the Spring when I walk myself to a day game on a Wednesday clad in black and orange. I know the way the light starts to shimmy like a gown at the Oscars and the remainders of the old wood docks jut up out of the water right through the sequins. I know the way North Beach smells and which blocks off of Market used the sparkly concrete on the sidewalks so when you run over it, it hurts a little bit less at 8 miles. I love that city. But I am no longer right for city life itself and it really wore me the fuck down.

We moved to a town with a population of 711. There is no post office. No traffic light. Not one state route passes through the whole dang thing. No store and, well, no baseball stadium. But in this town, you can watch the bats come out when the sun trades places with the moon at dusk, the sky turns pink, then violet, then lazes its way to navy and finally black. It’s so dark, you look up and it’s like somebody powdered the canopy of night with sugar. A car rolls by maybe every 45 minutes. Maybe. We take the trash to the dump because no one comes to get it and the old dog can lumber around the back with me and no leash. He seems mad we waited until he was 15 to tote him out to paradise, but when the Spring comes, he won’t be mad about anything at all.

Plus, Elizabeth Warren is my Senator.
FUCK, YES to that.

I unpacked like a marine. Up before five and I just kept going until it was done. I always feel weird if the boxes are around. Since I left my home at 17 for college, I have changed domiciles 19 times. I have some ideas about what works for me. And the thing I have always known, is the kitchen comes first. Even before I really gave a shit about how I ate, something about the kitchen had to settle first. It’s where I always feel closest to some kind of connection to my foremothers. I’m not exactly sure why because Gramma Eva I don’t remember cooking very much and Nanny Bert cooked, but never seemed to love it. She loved to smoke these Parliament lights at the breakfast table with the glass top over a bagel and coffee. By the time I was six and old enough to get shipped to Jewish Grandparent Utopia on the gulf coast of Florida, she mostly seemed like she was waiting for the sun to drop from the hot sky so she could pour the Sapphire gin into a rough tumbler, squeeze in a lime, splash out some tonic and listen to the ice clink around as if Bach was conducting.

I remember my mother as a wonderful cook, but she always says I’m wrong. Meh, she says. But no matter what, we all ate together. All five of us. Every night there was a feast on the table for 5 effing people. That seems like such a feat to me when I think about it today. Keeping a house for a family, stitching them all together with brisket and clean laundry and floors so spotless, you might as well eat off of them. I remember this insane shiny wallpaper we had in the kitchen in Pittsburgh with massive cartoony flowers all on it and my mom tan from tennis, pushing her hair back from her forehead with the back of her wrist while she diced things. Something about my mom in the kitchen is the crux of what makes me feel, well, powerful.

I know. I’m as surprised about it as you are.

But that’s how it turned out. Nothing makes me feel more kick ass than inviting over a handful of favorite people and fanning out a spread of divine tastes for everyone. The more food restrictions, the better. I love a puzzle. I’ll try anything new. I like to listen to Sam Cooke, Aretha, Ray Charles and Leonard Cohen. I like cello when I cook or the sounds of a Giants game with Jon Miller calling it. I like them better when we win, but, fuck it, I’ll take any of it. And I will cook my ass off.

Anyhow, all of that to tell you, we had our first handful of incredible people over last week. In honor of our vegetarian, there was a salad, a mujadara, and a chana masala based on the Gingered Chickpeas recipe from the wonderful book 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer. I wanted something warming and cozy and this recipe was perfect. It also happens to be good for vegetarians, vegans, plus the wheat and gluten challenged. I served it over brown basmati rice. I’m sharing my variation with you here.

 

Welcome Home Chana Masala

1 Large tomato. (if you don’t have one, use a small can of diced)
1 small red onion, chopped
8 lengthwise slices of peeled ginger (each 2 in. long, 1 in. wide and
1/8 in. thick) Chop 4 of the pieces coarsely, and chop 4 into matchsticks.
1 dried serrano pepper, soaked in 3/4c water, liquid reserved
8 cloves of chopped garlic
1T coriander seeds
1T cumin seeds
1 cinnamon stick
2T sunflower oil
2t hot paprika
1t turmeric
1/2c chopped fresh cilantro
3 cups cooked chickpeas (I cooked mine the day before with an onion)
1t garam masala
1t sea salt
1c vegetable broth
Juice of one lime. I like a big fat lime, myself.
First get your dried pepper in warm water to soak and get all puffy. While that happens, you can put your basmati rice on to cook. When the pepper is all puffy again, put it in a blender with its attending water, the tomato, onion, chopped ginger (not the matchsticks), half the garlic, coriander, cumin, salt and the cinnamon stick, busted up. Puree it all together and you should get a speckled dark red sauce.

After that, heat the sunflower oil in a pan and put in the ginger sticks. Let it sizzle for about 30 seconds and then add the rest of the garlic. Cook for another minute. Everything should turn light brown. When that happens, pour in the sauce from the blender. Bring the mixture to a boil. Add the paprika, turmeric and 1/4c of the cilantro. Let the sauce come to a simmer again and sit for 5-10 minutes.

Now you get to add your chickpeas and a cup of vegetable broth (or water). Bring the whole shebang to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, covered, and go stir it once in a while. Cook for about a half hour. The sauce should thicken and the chickpeas will get good and soft.

Now stir in the garam masala and the lime juice. Serve over rice with the remaining fresh cilantro used to garnish each bowl.

Welcome home.

 

My Favorite Cookbooks, Part 2

I have 8 cookbooks sitting in my virtual shopping cart right now and I’m sitting on my hands. I don’t know if I told you here, but I’m relocating with my business, myself, my dog, and my handsome butch to western Massachusetts in February so adding heavy (beautiful) cookbooks to my collection at this time isn’t going to work. Shopping for them works, though, and I’ll tell you what I discovered: although I have a pension for always wanting more of them, I still believe you can do wonderful things in a kitchen with a skillet, an oven pan, a sauce pan, a soup pot and one little cookbook. You may love fancy gadgets, but you don’t NEED them to succeed with your food. Just like I LOVE collecting cookbooks, but really, you can just begin with one. And don’t forget your local library! Take them out and audition a few before purchasing. That shit is FREE. So in chorus with this sentiment, I am continuing on with Part 2 of my favorites list for your enjoyment. I’ll begin with my personal bible which I’ve spoken of maybe, like, a billion times.

6. The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters – I know you’re sick of hearing about this book from me by now but what can I say? It continues to bat 1000 from the plate. Since reading it, I have never again purchased salad dressing, mayonnaise or creme fraiche. I have a completely grounded understanding abut how to build my personal pantry of foods for the way I like to cook making whipping things up so much easier. The book not only taught me how to cook things but it helped me feel empowered to cook things. Ms. Waters clearly loves food and she has a more refines taster than I do, but she gives me a sense that as I move along, I too will develop into a person that detects the subtle taste and texture differences in the way a shallot might work vs. a red onion. Or why a lady might choose which oil to drizzle on a soup. Her care and yet simplicity is a combination I come back to over and over because it provides me with a kind of faith I can build in myself as a person who uses food to nurture my life and cooking to arrive as a place or creative expression. Plus, it’s a beautiful book, which I’m a sucker for every time.

7. Tender by Nigel SlaterSpeaking of beautiful books, I almost cried when this thing arrived on my doorstep. I’d been fondling it lovingly at one of the best places in America, Omnivore Books, and then while I was on vacation one time, I just couldn’t hold off and bought the thing online. British food writer Nigel Slater invites you into his garden and talks not just of cooking but of growing the food you cook and what it likes to do. Like Bryant Terry’s Inspired Vegan, this is also a tremendously personal offering. Mr. Slater is a wonderful writer and his attention to detail is actually emotional.When you sit down with him in his vegetable patch you feel encouraged to not only cook, but to go ahead and make a mess on your way. He’s all about the process of food, how things take attempt before they find their pinnacle and the pinnacle isn’t so much the point, but the journey there.The way he writes about pod peas made me want to kind of date them.

8. The Sprouted Kitchen by Sara Forte and photographed by Hugh Forte - This is a whole foods book built around vegetables. Sure there’s a scallop here and there plus plenty of desserts, but the heart of the book is about vegetables and Ms. Forte clearly loves them. Her experience on the organic farm comes through in bright recipes that take beauty into account as an intrinsic part of the enjoyment of food alongside the taste. The photographs by her husband Hugh are fantastic and she makes it easy to go along with her. This is a fantastic place to start for beginner cooks or people who’ve felt intimidated in the kitchen. The introduction sets the scene, demystifies technique and invites you along for a gorgeous ride. The food is robust and healthy with fantastic pangs of flavor that punch each seasonal note. I think the beauty of this book as an object is a reflection of how this couple came together for the project. Something about their collaboration comes through and serves not just the recipes, but the readers beholding them as well.

9. The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen by Peter BerleyI got this book a few years back when I embarked on my first cleanse. I picked it in a haphazard way just because it had a fat gold James Beard Award medal on the front. I didn’t know Mr. Berley’s background as either the former chef of Angelica Kitchen in NYC or as a cooking teacher of many years. But his way with writing is telling of his teacher’s background. He speaks to both beginners and experienced cook at once somehow using his knowledge of technique and his experience to encourage his readers. It’s a really supportive book. It’s surprising to me I went with a book that’s got black and white photographs of food as I’m usually so easily seduced by the pictures in books, but this one was perfect for me. I found his work with whole grains in particular incredibly useful and come back to that over and over. Plus the drawings are wonderful.

10. Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson - I’ve been reading Ms. Swanson’s blog, 101 Cookbooks forever. It’s been one of the best free resources my kitchen has ever had. I have to say, it’s maybe a little alienating to me in this way that has to do with money and what my friend Silas likes to call The Sheen of the Well-Off, and some days I can’t quite rise to the task of peeking in at what appears to be a perfect photograph of perfect food arranged in a perfect dish in a perfect kitchen in a perfect life. Now I’m not proud to say that reveals much more about me than it does about Ms. Swanson, but I like to level with you all. But I’ll tell you what, this lady knows her way around a vegetable. I have never made a recipe from this book I didn’t love. And I use it all the time. She makes food with great flavor, has no fear of richness, and takes you around the globe with her inspirations. (This is because she is often traveling around the globe.) This is her second book and it’s been out for a bit. Her first is just as lovely. In fact, most of the authors in Parts 1 & 2 have numerous books to check out so don’t be shy.

There you have it…. My top ten. I bet if I did it again in a month there would be some moving around, but I feel great about these.

 

Cherry Cilantro Sunflower Dressing

photo (45)

Did I mention I am on a cleanse right now? Well, I am. Not only am I on the cleanse, I am leading the cleanse with 16 hilarious, devoted, disgruntled, creative and real people. Among our symptoms in the first 3 days are “screaming headaches”, stupifying fatigue (that’s my main one), intense cravings, crazy dreams and bouts of pointed rage. No one really feels too great yet. The first few days of a cleanse are kind of a shitshow. It’s like life, really: get through the shitshow to center stage, until inevitably, the tides turn again and then you gather your resources and sally forth.

The point is to give our bodies a break, let them reboot and do the real work of moving out all the toxins and stagnation to let new energy in. Once we spend a few short weeks slowing down, refocusing, and making choices based on what we’ve learned, our bottoming out doesn’t have to be as low after that. We being to crave healthy foods and activities. We have really great skin. We have way more energy. And we’re funnier. As if you thought that was even possible. Win/win/win.

As part of my intention setting, I’m in the process of kickstarting my novel again in preparation for some shows to promote the new Sister Spit Anthology, and also because I am going to finish the damn thing and publish it. The task of crawling back into the book is an emotional one, seeing what I left behind to languish and how coming back to it is also a reckoning with coming back to myself of that time. So here we are, and here we go. The Cleanse is a perfect time for this because I have a great deal of support from those people around me also doing it, PLUS, there is no way to lose when one engages a creative act. Even “failure” becomes its own reward, creating opportunity from nothing, an alchemy of art at each point of choice.

So as such, I eat an enormous salad every day. Bigger than my head. And these salads call for dressings. People: YOU NEVER HAVE TO BUY SALAD DRESSING AGAIN! I began my romance with homemade dressings from Alice Water’s The Art of Simple Food where she gives her basic vinaigrette recipe. Here it is.

Pour 1T Red wine vinegar into a small bowl. Add salt and freshly ground pepper. Stir to dissolve the salt, taste, and adjust if needed. Use a fork or small whisk to beat in a little at a time: 3 to 4 T extra virgin olive oil.

Variations: 1. Add a little pureed garlic or diced shallot or both to the vinegar. 2. White wine vinegar, sherry vinegar, or lemon juice can replace part or all of the red wine vinegar. 3. Beat in a little mustard before you start adding the oil. 4. For part of the olive oil, substitute a very fresh nut oil, such as walnut or hazelnut. 5. Heavy cream or crème fraiche can replace all or some of the olive oil except not on this cleanse! 6. Chop some fresh herbs and stir them into the finished vinaigrette.

I’ve made about a hundred variations since then and for real have not purchased one bottle of dressing since I read this. Not one. Shelf dressings are expensive and more often than not, packed with crap you don’t need. Also not nearly as tasty as your home efforts will be and they are so easy. Yesterday’s went like this:

8 pitted ripe cherries
4T olive oil
1T sunflower oil
2T red wine vinegar
1T balsamic
1t raw sunflower seeds
1 clove garlic
1/4 t crushed white peppercorn
1/4t ground cumin
small handful of fresh cilantro

Blend. Drizzle onto your salad and toss thoroughly.

Roasted Nectarine and Tarragon Yogurt Pops

There was some flying all over

Good gravy!!! Where the hell have I been? Well, lots of places, actually. I’ve been in Vermont, Massachusetts, Alabama and beautiful New Orleans Louisiana, y’all. Also I’ve been right here, researching, coaching, reading and cooking. But first, here’s some pictures of some places and stuff just for fun.

Burr Pond with my mom in Vermont

Triple Garlic Yukons with garlic scapes

A beautiful living room in MA

Plus a beautiful hike in the woods

 

Gulf Shores working vacation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lunch Break between Clients

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Big Easy Co-Op

French Quarter Horns for Sale

Pink Tree on Magazine Str

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So there’s a little bit of what I’ve been doing. But now I’m home and I’m in the kitchen and back at the gym and basically ready to rumble. By home, I mean back in San Francisco, where it rarely gets hot as hell, and usually not until October. Nonetheless, it’s been hot where I’ve been and it kept me dreaming of popsicles. I mean I could not keep the ideas of the icy little things away. Ideas in the shower. Ideas strolling down the street. Ideas upon rising. Ideas waiting in lines. And then finally home to collect popsicle molds and get to it!

The first batch was incredible. Off the hook. Not to brag. Raw coconut water, fresh pluots, and five big fat leaves of basil. Blend. Freeze. For real that’s all it takes and they are NUTSO good. My other ideas have been a touch more labor intensive, but not much. You can totally make these. I had to make em quick to get the yogurt out of the house, as Friday I am beginning my Sweet Summer Cleanse, and dairy and I will be taking a hiatus from each other. Until then, you’ll find me enjoying these.

2 ripe nectarines
2 healthy sprigs of fresh tarragon
1c plain yogurt
1T dark honey
cinnamon for dusting
1t olive oil
1/2t sunflower oil

Preheat your oven to 375. Next, halve your nectarines and get the pit out. Be careful s sometimes the pit wants to stay. Rub all four halves with olive oil. You will probably not need the whole teaspoon but feel free to get generous. Dust liberally with cinnamon. I use Vietnamese cinnamon because it has a particular flavor that makes me feel pretty relentlessly happy. But any cinnamon is a friend of mine, really. Now roast the fruit for 20-30 minutes, until soft.

Meanwhile, on your burner, heat up your sunflower oil. Use all the leaves of tarragon from your sprig and saute until translucent and fragrant. The photo above shows the amount of leaves and the way they should look. Maybe 2 minutes. Put the cinnamon nectarines, tarragon and honey all into your blender and whirl around until it’s all smooth. Pour into your popsicle molds and freeze. Yields 5 pops. 5 INCREDIBLY delicious pops. Each one has 3.1 grams of protein, 49 calories, and a good hunk of B-12. Fantastic dessert!

Sunrise Gluten-Free Granola

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All of this delicious homemade almond milk has left a ton of almond meal opportunities around my kitchen these days. There have been banana breads, Black Caraway Bread, Pear Cake, and a magically full mason jar of homemade granola. Ginger loves it, so I end up making this version or a variation a coupla times a week along with the milk. It’s really easy. You can vary the ingredients to your liking, of course. In fact, more often than not, recipes are a guide to help you find the dish you want to make and a place to start that’s kind of close.

It’s funny. Like almond milk, granola is a thing I saw in the store all the time, so expensive, and often with evaporated cane juice (AKA sugar) as the first or second ingredient. I would spend hours pouring over the various flavors and when I’d finally find one that looked great, it’d be like 10 bucks for a little bag. In the end, I’d just forego the whole thing, resigning myself to spend my extra ducats someplace else, like fish oil supplements or really nice olive oil. Yet with all of this time spent, somehow I never saw myself as a person who could just MAKE it, be totally in control of the quality of the ingredients, and accomplish this for like 70% less money. It was like the granola only came from Fairy Land, crafted by a skilled tribe of gnomes gifted by the hippie Goddess while their unicorn neighbors in the next village made that tahini dressing that’s so good.

Well, call me a gnome. My version is not too sweet, gluten free, and sugar-free. Total Gnome Throw Down.

1c almond meal
1/2c rolled oats
1T apple butter
1T maple syrup
1T cocoa nibs
1T goji berries
1T green raisins
1T crushed walnuts
1T apple juice sweetened dried cranberries

Preheat your over to 225. Not so hot.

Take the almond meal from your almond milk, or from the store, and plop it in a bowl. Add your maple syrup, apple butter, and rolled oats. Stir it all up until the oats begin to absorb the liquid. If you want more clumps, you can add in honey, molasses, or more maple syrup. Once everything is all together, add in the dry ingredients and stir.

Spread out the mixture onto a baking sheet covered in foil, and set it inside your heated oven. Set your timer for 15 minutes. Pull out your concoction and stir it around, then flatten. It will still feel damp. Do this three more times so your granola cooks for a total of one hours. It should come out golden, warm, and dry with small clumps ready to go.

You can sprinkle it into yogurt, put a tin of it in your bag for a healthy snack during the day, get adventurous with probiotic-rich goat milk kefir, or just set it swimming in your almond milk.

Quick Pickle with Garlic

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I’ve had a crazy week. Not just busy, but kind of awful to tell you the truth. Not to brag. And I can tell by looking in my refrigerator exactly what kind of week I’ve had. If life has become unmanageable, my leftovers appear as sad clowns to me instead of gorgeous editing opportunities for creativity. I start to lament the lack of crappy junk food I used to stock, wishing I had some frozen bullshit to throw in a microwave I haven’t owned for 12 years. And worst of all, I have forgotten to look in the vegetable drawers and the goods in there give me a sad flaccid and lifeless stare, a kind of produce ennui that fills me with a dark guilt. I get my vegetables because they are gorgeous, and in my terrible week, I have squandered their potential in a dark drawer, a careless oaf floundering in the world. Although I have done some learning: One incredible skill I picked up is that a gal can hack off the bottom of a vegetable, put it in water, and in a couple hours, the thing has its swag back like a total baller. IT’S TRUE!!!! You can return your wilting veggies to their glory!

Anyhow, yesterday I visited my veggie drawer and found a cucumber that was past its prime, but by no means unusable. I quickly rescued it from the drawer before any more damage could be done to the innocent succulent little beast. I love cucumbers. And I love pickles. But I didn’t have a ton of time so I dreamed up a quick pickle on the spot and in about 15 minutes, we had the perfect garnish for veggie tacos.

Unexpected, tart, and fragrant, these pickles really sing. The batch I made last night didn’t make it through dinner so I woke up this morning and made another batch for y’all. They will probably stay good in a mason jar in your fridge for about a week. But they won’t last that long.


1 cucumber
1/4c white wine vinegar
1/3c rice vinegar
3 cloves garlic, diced
3/4t cardamom seeds
1t coriander seeds
1/2t white peppercorns

Peel your cucumber, then cut it up into quarters lengthwise. Dice across into small slices so they look like miniature watermelon slices. Put them in a bowl. Dice your garlic (or use a press) and add it to the bowl. Put your vinegar and your spices in a tiny pot on the stove and bring to a full boil. Take it off the stove and while hot, pour over the cukes and garlic. Let it all sit for a few minutes until room temp. Then put it all in a pint mason jar and chill.

THAT’S IT!!!

Enjoy. And congratulations on saving your cucumbers gracefully. I assure you they are honored to make such divine little pickles.

Gluten-Free Black Caraway Bread

photo 1

In an effort to combat the evil that is perfectionism, I am dedicating today’s post to the effort of a thing rather than its ultimate perfect state. This bread is my first attempt of an altered recipe. Usually I will wait and try and tweak and fuss until I can show you an outcome that sings arias and scales mountaintops. Not today. Gluten-free baking is a whole new venue for me since I discovered by accident that I tend to feel better without the stuff. I’ll tell you about that first and then we’ll get to the kitchen.

So many of my clients come to me with questions about gluten and its side effects. They want to know if it might help them feel better to cleave it from their lives, and how they would know whether it affected them or not. I knew about its inflammatory effects on the system, about the difference between Celiac Disease vs. a gluten sensitivity, intolerance, or a wheat allergy, all of which are actually different, but these were all things I knew from books. Even though books are one of the great loves of my life, I decided to do my own firsthand experiment so I could pass on at least some personal experience. Of course, we are all different and everyone must try their own path. But anyhow, this is how it went for me:

Even though I was fairly sure I did not have any sensitivity, I set out on my experiment. As I learned to do from some doctor’s suggestions in school, I eliminated gluten entirely for one week, and then on the eighth day, I brought it back into my diet. For many years I have had a pretty adorable, if I do say so myself, little belly pooch. After about 3 days of no gluten, my cute pooch began to evaporate and by the seventh day it was gone. While I found the thing to be downright fetching, the idea that it was a result of a food sensitivity made me feel less affectionate toward it.

In addition, have you ever been in a room and found yourself growing increasingly annoyed for no apparent reason and then all of a sudden an air filter clicks off and you realize there has been a constant noise in the room that never registered until it vanished? That’s what happened with my sense of feeling bloated. I had no idea I felt that way until I stopped feeling that way. My assumption was also that I would feel deprived and pissed off about not having gluten for the week it was gone, but it turned out to be no big deal. In fact, the challenge made my choices so streamlined, it was kind of a relief. Even so, I did look forward to the eighth day, on which I had a hunk of my very favorite Acme whole wheat and cranberry bread.

While my mouth rejoiced, my innards stewed and churned and revolted. And there was my answer. My system isn’t that psyched about gluten. I can still choose to eat it, which I do on occasion, sparingly, and knowing full well the consequences. But sometimes, it just seems like I must have pizza. Period.

In the mean time, I like to keep my own kitchen gluten-free now, and as such have been dipping my toe in the pool of attempting baking. It’s hard. Turns out people like to measure by weight rather than volume. In addition, some of the flours are not grain based and therefor act totally differently than grain based flours. Anything can happen. The breads tend to be dense and heavy, which people LOVE to make jokes about. I’ve come to sort of appreciate the richness of their flavors and earthy bottom of the weight. This bread in particular turned out to weigh a full metric ton and not be NEARLY as gorgeous as Heidi Swanson’s version that I based it on. I will say, after all the changes I made, it tastes delicious. It has a kind of sour (teff flour) and bitter (ground espresso) and sweet (carrots and molasses) combination I like. It’s weird at first but each slice tastes better than the last. I am going to keep working on it over time and get it right for you, but here’s to getting it close. A nice pitstop on the way to getting it better.

I also have a wonderful feeling about this bread because the kitchen was so quiet, the light was beautiful, and I got to cook all day yesterday. It’s such a nice feeling for me, and it’s been awhile, so maybe a lot of what I like about this bread is how great I felt while I made it.

1 3/4c warm filtered water
2 1/4t dry yeast
1t maple syrup
2T cocoa powder
2T finely ground espresso (I used decaf)
1/3c blackstrap molasses
3 1/2t caraway seeds
3T earth balance or coconut oil
2t fine sea salt
3 grated carrots
1c brown teff flour
1/4c garbanzo flour
1 1/2c almond meal (fresh from the almond milk you just made!)
3c brown rice flour (1/2c set aside for dusting later)
2T olive oil

Preheat your oven to 450.

First get yourself a nice small bowl and whisk together the yeast in the warm water with the maple syrup. Set this aside while you get busy but check on it to make sure it gets foamy like a little root beer float.

Meanwhile, put your espresso, 3t of your caraway seeds (the rest is for the top later), cocoa, molasses, earth balance (or coconut oil) and salt together in a saucepan and stir it until it’s just melted. It will be the richest color in the world. It makes you not care if the bread is perfect because it smells so good and is so beautiful.

Next pull it off the flame and set it aside while you combine the yeast mixture and the grated carrot in a large bowl. Then add in all your flours. Now add your rich molasses mixture and stir. It won’t come together like a traditional bread dough. It’s looser and seems more like a dense cake mix really. Mine was a little wet and I added some rice flour. I then put it in my mixer for about 3 minutes with the hook attachment. No worry if you don’t have a mixer. The dough doesn’t really need kneading at this point because it’s so loose, but turn it out onto  cutting board and form it into a ball. Take your dough ball and place it in an olive oiled bowl, nothing metal, and cover it with a cloth. I leave mine in the sun to rise for about 2 hours while I putter about. If there is no sun, I leave it on top of the oven and bake something else while it rises, using the heat to keep the bread rising.

Return to your dough and look how puffy it is!!! So cute! Bully it gently and push it down. Then turn it out onto a floured surface and make it into a round. Because the dough is heavy, it will settle wide and kind of flatten. Do not despair. Also do not expect that it will turn into a fluffy little debutante in the oven. This is a hearty country girl bread who can toss hay bales all day and picks her teeth with stray stalks. Now put your dough on an oiled cookie sheet and recover it with a tea towel. Let it rise again for another hour. Cover the ole’ lass with a dusting of brown rice flour and a 1/2 teaspoon of your caraway seeds. Then throw it in an oven at 450 for an hour. Turn the heat down to 350 for another half hour and check on her all as you go. As you know if you read this blog, my oven blows so check on your bread for you own times. Hopefully your oven is more well-endowed than mine is. The bread should be crisp on the top and bottom and dense all the way through. Dense, but done.

Ok. Good luck.
Enjoy the imperfections and let me know what you do with this recipe as you go. We can discover it gluten-free perfect version together.