Posts in Category: dessert

Noshed in a Book: Let’s Just Say It Wasn’t Pretty

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“No dream can live up to its expectations.  Ownership is brief; in fact, it’s a fiction.  And beauty?  Beauty is a discovery that diminishes the truth of reality.  So keep looking.”

When I picked up Then Again, Diane Keaton’s first memoir and homage to her late mother, I remember spilling myself over each page as if I could heal my neuroses by learning from her’s.  I have, as you all will or have already come to know, a love for personal tales, memoirs, and biographies.  Understanding the strokes that make the painting of a person’s life, does not instill you with their one-of-a-kind nature or change the path you’re on, but there’s always a chance your endurance could be strengthened, and your will refreshed.  This was a safe book choice for me and I must admit, though expectations typically lead to disappointment, it’s only human to feel such a way when you’ve harbored a connection to a person’s life.  On that note, let’s talk about Keaton’s second book, shall we?

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Let’s Just Say It Wasn’t Pretty by Diane Keaton

A book that gives you an insight into the idiosyncratic mind of Keaton starting with the Introduction.  She combs the reader into the many ways in which she organizes her thoughts and her approach to life; an approach for which she makes clear, even she is still trying to figure out.  She cannot be faulted for this, in fact I take some comfort in knowing not everyone has it figured out, even in your sixties, but I did wonder at multiple times throughout this reading, what her true intention was for writing this book.  Learning a few life lessons from a woman I’ve garnered as one of my favorites for years, by the end, I thought that somehow I would have a better understanding of her intention, but I came away from this text more confused than sated.

“All of my feelings and all my emotion come out on my face–my sixty-seven-year-old face.  You see, my face identifies who I am inside.  It shows feelings I can’t put into words.  And that is a miracle, an extraordinary ordinary miracle, one I’ll think twice about before I change.”

“I was ready to go home to Black and White and Gray all over.  I wanted to be light on my feet, like Cary Grant.  I wanted to put on a smoky gray dress suit with suspenders.  I wanted to be an international stilt walker, with an ironic smile and a dimpled chin.”

But I can’t help but picture the goofy and well-timed performance of Keaton in Sleeper, where she imitates Marlon Brando’s performance in the cinematic version of A Streetcar Named Desire.  Her ability to break down the wall of celebrity superiority and the ego of a man like Brando, is part of the reason why I respect her, despite her lack of focus in this memoir.  She has always been, and remains to be, a star that is relatable, and one whose verbalized consciousness of her aesthetic appeal grounds her as just another human, instead of being of the alien race of Celeb.  What Keaton does beautifully in this memoir, is explore how acting is a tool for her to find the colors of the palette that make her life’s painting.  Her emphasis on accepting imperfections, mistakes and the challenges of aging, helped me understand the efficacy of mindfulness and positive thinking about one’s life.  I came to understand that our philosophy on life is different, but there’s beauty in this contrast, and for this I felt grateful to read her musings.

“Like the sparrows, I’ve flown into some serious plate-glass windows, but I survived.  On the way, I’ve learned a few things.  Namely this:  beauty’s a bouquet gathered in loss.  The sad part about my bouquet is that it keeps growing.  Now that Mother is gone, darkness is spreading across my fading petals.  Light is beautiful, but darkness is eternal.”

“I regret what I haven’t seen, but I’m thankful for what I have, and I promise myself this:  I will try harder to look for what I don’t see when it’s staring me right in the eye.”

“…but my love of the impossible far overshadowed the rewards of longevity.  I fell for the beauty of a broken bird.  The ecstasy of failure.  It was the only marriage I could make with a man.  Black with a little white.  Pain mixed with pleasure.”

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As for edibles, I decided to make a variation of French Toast.  Diane Keaton adopted two children for whom she devotes mornings to making breakfasts and school drop-offs. At one point, she mentions her son requesting French Toast and I thought it the best match to the book.  Semi-complicated with many variations and comfortable in it’s imperfections.  I now present to you my take on this sweet morning treat.

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 “That’s Neat” French Toast

Ingredients

  • 8 to 10 slices gluten-free bread (I used this one)
  • 1 cup almond milk (unsweetened, plain)
  • 1 tbsp ground chia seeds
  • 3 tbsp all purpose gluten-free flour (or almond meal)
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • two grinds sea salt
  • coconut oil for skillet
  • Extra toppings:  toasted coconut, coconut whipped cream, berries, maple syrup, banana, nuts, powdered sugar, sliced strawberries, sliced figs

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, mix together all ingredients except bread and toppings and let sit in refrigerator for twenty minutes to activate chia seeds.
  2. After mixture has set, heat skillet or griddle over a medium flame and begin to melt or disperse a small amount of coconut oil (just enough for a thin coating).
  3. Pour mixture into shallow container, I used a pie pan.
  4. Dip each slice of bread into mixture to soak the bread, but don’t let it become soggy.  About twenty seconds on each side in mixture.
  5. Place the soaked slice on the skillet/griddle and press with spatula until each side is golden brown, taking care to let each side sit before flipping to allow browning to occur.  About five minutes.
  6. Enjoy your “That’s Neat” French Toast with any of the above mentioned toppings or toppings of your choice.  I enjoyed mine with raspberries, maple syrup, and a few sprinkles of powdered sugar.  Don’t forget a delightful cup of tea or coffee, if you please, on the side. 😀

Notes:

  • I made enough to have some leftovers because I wanted a treat for another day, but if you’re just making a quick breakfast for two, I would recommend splitting this recipe in half.
  • The more dense the bread, the less crispy and absorbent your french toast will be. Keep this in mind.
  • I don’t recommend using a cast iron, as the retention of heat can have an adverse affect on the consistency of each slice’s browning.
  • Re-heat in toaster or toaster oven.

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Making this dish allowed me time in the kitchen to mull over my relationship with this text, something I think is key for anyone to do when reading.  There’s a delicacy to talking about the intricacies of one’s life, and though Keaton is not the most graceful, her no-nonsense, quirky and creative language exposed her truest self.  Chipping all the dried, peeling paint away, this book imbued a sense of urgency in me to live life more fully and never hasten to forget the power and beauty of making mistakes because those mistakes make the masterpiece.

What are your thoughts on this book?  Did you prepare something else while reading it?  I want to hear all the details at #noshedinabook and see all of your pictures!  Check out previous Noshed in a Book posts and join me in my next reading selection Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own by Kate Bolick.  And remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy Regards,

RAM

Noshed in a Book: Live or Die & The First Biography of Joan of Arc

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I added a surprise second selection for this particular Noshed in a Book post.  Most of the time, before I begin reading a book, I take some time to ponder the title and what it may or may not mean in relationship to the text.  Collections of poetry are no exception to this rule, and, I would have to say, heighten a stronger sense of my analytical self than prose.  Then of course there’s biographical books, which often–not always–follow a restrictive naming; the reader needs to grasp the purpose of the book immediately.  Oddly enough, reading Live or Die by Anne Sexton unfolded a series of poems that revealed the true meaning behind the title, but The First Biography of Joan of Arc–my surprise additional reading for this post–did not deliver on the title.  Titles are important, but maybe this was a lesson for me and us all that you can’t judge a book by its title, and if you do, expect to be surprised and don’t be disappointed if you’re not.  Let’s dive in!

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Live or Die by Anne Sexton

A series of poems that are organized chronologically, which for better or worse focus on our delicate relationship with not just death, but life as well.  My approach to poetry is one that is unpracticed because I tend to not read collection after collection, instead spreading out poetry collections over time.  Also, there’s a level of apprehension I have when reading poetry.  Each word is precisely chosen and I often fret about not giving due time to each poem and respecting its pacing and structure.  Anne Sexton’s writing is remarkable and flows and I didn’t once feel overwhelmed by the direction or pacing of her poems.  Just some of the topics Sexton touches on in this series are dreams, womanhood, death of love, death of literal life, mother and daughter confessions, and bones.  Here are a few excerpts that moved me.

 “Awake, I memorized dreams.

Dreams came into the ring

like third string fighters,

each one a bad bet

who might win

because there was no other.”


 

“I was tired of being a woman,

tired of the spoons and the pots,

tired of my mouth and my breasts,

tired of the cosmetics and the silks.

There were still men who sat at my table,

circled around the bowl I offered up.

The bowl was filled with purple grapes

and the flies hovered in for the scent

and even my father came with his white bone.

But I was tired of the gender of things.”


 

“Death’s a sad bone; bruised, you’d say,

and yet she waits for me, year after year,

to so delicately undo an old wound,

to empty my breath from its bad prison.”


 

“If I’m on fire they dance around it

and cook marshmallows.

And if I’m ice

they simply skate on me

in little ballet costumes.”

Additionally, I recommend checking out these particular poems in their entirety:  Mother and Jack and the Rain; Christmas Eve

The First Biography of Joan of Arc by Daniel Rankin and Claire Quintal

A book that is by no means a page turner, but by all accounts clear and concise in its diction, this text outlines the life of Joan of Arc–know as the “Maid”–a heroine of the fifteenth century who led and structured a siege in order to take back France from England during the Hundred Years War.  Only a teenager at the time of her leadership of the French Army–behind King Charles the VII–and at the time of her horrendous death–she was burned alive–Joan of Arc stands as a figure of bravery and as a trailblazing representative of the “YOLO” concept before it was ever a concept.  She lived her life for a purpose and broke through many class and gender barriers to be the figure she was for the people of her time and generations after.  This book, as I stated earlier, did not deliver on its title.  Maybe my expectation was too simplistic, but I wanted a straightforward description of her life up front with factual information pieced in categorically after this.  I feel like I have come to know more details about Joan from other sources over the years, but this book did a great job of outlining sources of materials and chronology.  Here are a few quotes from the texts that may intrigue you.

“You believe, gentlemen that because I am a woman, I do not know how to conceal a secret.  For your information I know every detail you have discussed.  Here I give you my pledge–I WILL NEVER REVEAL PLANS WHICH ARE TO BE KEPT SECRET.”


 

“The Maid has made use of magic and diabolic cunning.  She is a heretic.”


 

“For some time past it has been known to all and it is notorious that a woman who insisted on being called Joan the Maid, discarding the garb and vesture of the female sex, an act repugnant and forbidden by all law, a deed contrary to Divine Law and abhorrent to God, put on and wore men’s garments and likewise armed herself as a man.”


 

“As soon as her armor was made she put it on, went out into the fields of Poitiers with other armed combatants where she handled her lance as well or better than any man there.  She rode spirited chargers, the capricious ones that no one else dared mount without fear.”


 

“Without the presence of Joan of Arc it seems certain that the courage and stamina of the soldiers marching toward Reims would have dissolved into a speedy disaster.”

 

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Recipe Inspiration

As for edibles, I decided to make a piña collada smoothie.  This all started a few weeks ago, on a Friday evening, in the midst of pizza making.  All of a sudden I started thinking about piña colladas, and how I HAD to have one.  The Mr. and I started to scour the kitchen for all of the basic ingredients and had to improvise.  Let’s just say, after extra handfuls of ice and almond milk it was eventually edible. This culinary experimentation got me thinking about how I wanted to do this the right way, with or without the buzz.  Although it has been noted that Anne Sexton liked Dry Martinis and taking on the town with Sylvia Plath, I can’t help but feel she too would have loved the indulgence of a tropical treat every once in awhile, especially in the summer.  As for The First Biography of Joan of Arc, well, some of you may need something to liven up your day after this dry read and perhaps even have a lively discussion on women’s cultural icons with your gals.  Either way, enjoy the treat!

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Piña Collada Smoothie with  Mango (animal-product-free, gluten-free, soy-free)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup coconut milk (from a can)
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 heaping cup fresh or frozen pineapple
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen mango chunks
  • 1/4 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
  • 1/2 -3/4 cup ice cubes
  • 1 full dropper of liquid stevia (or to taste)
  • Cherries(frozen or fresh) and dried coconut for garnish

Instructions

  1.  Pour liquid ingredients into blender first, then add frozen fruit, vanilla extract, ice cubes and the sweetener
  2. Blend well until creamy
  3. Garnish with cherries and dried coconut
  4. Enjoy in your favorite glass

Notes:

  • Spike at will with your choice of rum, or if you’re my husband and there’s not rum around, use whiskey (don’t get me started, haha)

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Poetry and history have a differing tone that’s unmistakable, but reading the voice of a strong woman followed up by reading about the voice of another strong woman, was both inspiring and empowering.   When you read these books, what tasty treats come to mind and what are some of your favorite Anne Sexton poems or excerpts?  Know any special factoids about Joan of Arc?  I can’t wait to hear from you all.  Share your #noshedinabook pics and thoughts and check out more Noshed in a Book posts.  Join me in my next reading selection, The First Bad Man by Miranda July.  And remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy Regards,

 

RAM

 

 

 

Noshed in a Book: Just Kids

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“I have vague memories, like impressions on a glass plate, of an old boathouse, a circular band shell, an arched stone bridge.”

Another sweet gift from a friend, Just Kids by Patti Smith made its way into my life a few years ago.  Once again–I’m sure you’ll hear this more and more out of me–I don’t know how I went so long without reading this book.  Taking in every sentence as if it were smooth poetry, Just Kids was like delicious ice cream on a hot summer day; you’re moved to gobble it down but you don’t want it to be over. I cannot say that I wanted to live inside of Patti Smith’s world, but I appreciated the books ability to transport the reader into her mindset about life, art, and how we view ourselves and our pursuits, both creatively and personally.   When I was in college I came across Patti Smith’s music and was immensely moved.  A little over a year ago, I had the privilege of seeing Patti Smith perform in a relatively intimate venue and she was incredible.  She was both humble and confident in her ability to jam the hell out!  As the audience, we couldn’t get enough; a motif I see in myself when it comes to her art.

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Just Kids by Patti Smith

A promise takes written form in this meditative and exploratory look into her–Patti Smith’s–early life and her close companion Robert Mapplethorpe, the celebrated photographer and creator of art in many forms.  The delicacy Smith takes with her words and the majesty she holds with her stories has me, still, in a state of awe with her writing.  I have no complaints about this book except that it had to end and begin with the sadness surrounding her dearest friend’s passing.  Smith remarks on her mistakes, but never dwells in the negativity that surrounded each event or transition in her life.  Her portrayal of her personal narrative and the necessity she places in not judging herself too harshly put me at ease.

“I felt a fleeting pang in my heart for I knew that innocent phase of our life had passed.  I slipped an envelope with the black-and-white shots of Woman I that I had taken at the Modern into my pocket but left behind my failed attempts at painting her portrait, rolls of canvas splashed in umber, pinks, and green, souvenirs of a gone ambition.  I was too curious about the future to look back.”

On finding yourself, not selling yourself.  I have this theory that every person has a part of their brain or heart that they put on clearance.  Some people have this clearance regularly and they’re defining who they are by selling themselves short, while others utilize only temporary mark-downs and then spring back to their full-price self.  Whatever sale-rack you tend to place yourself on, if at all, taking note of your shortcomings will only get you so far, and then you have begun to wallow in the self-deprecation and self-doubt.  What’s enlightening about Patti’s story is that while she certainly goes through trials, she never puts her whole self on sale.  She reflects on her moments of self-doubt and leaves it there.  Everyone–but I feel women especially–could use a little more shelving of their self-doubt and less liquidation.

“I bought stacks of books, but I didn’t read them.  I taped sheets of paper to the wall, but I didn’t draw.  I slid my guitar under the bed.  At night, alone, I just sat and waited.  Once again I found myself contemplating what I should be doing to do something of worth.  Everything I came up with seemed irreverent or irrelevant.”

“I craved honesty, yet found dishonesty in myself.  Why commit to art?  For self-realization, or for itself?  It seemed indulgent to add to the glut unless one offered illumination.”

On optimism.  Maybe a little positive thinking can help fill up your goodwill water balloon for life and splash it all over you and those lives for which you touch.

“The goodwill that surrounded us was proof that the Fates were conspiring to help their enthusiastic children.”

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As for edibles,  I decided to make my version of jelly doughnuts.  Smith’s reverence for this nom during a tumultuous time in her life, helped me see beyond the negative view we have of comfort eating.  It allowed me to see that connecting to food happens on many levels and we should respect this.  Also, there were times in Smith’s life when she had only day-old bread and a wilted head of lettuce to eat and share with someone else.  Paled in comparison to this experience is the indulgence of a jam doughnut.

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“Every Sunday I would take a long walk to a deserted beach café to have a coffee and a jelly doughnut, two things forbidden in a home regimented by healthy food.  I savored these small indulgences, slipping a quarter in the jukebox and listening to “Strawberry Fields” three times in a row.  It was my private ritual and the words and voice of John Lennon provided me with strength when I faltered.” [On being pregnant for the first time and staying with a healthy-living surrogate family.]

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Strawberry Jammin’ Doughnuts (animal-product-free, gluten-free, soy-free)

Plain Cake Doughnut Ingredients

[Inspired by this recipe]

  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/3 cup garbanzo bean flour
  • 1/2 cup potato starch
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil (a little extra on the side for oiling up your doughnut baking pan)
  • 6 tbsp unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar plus some extra for sprinkling on top

Doughnut Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F
  2. With clean hands use some of the coconut oil that has been set aside and rub it on the doughnut baking pan in each crevice
  3. Sift all dry ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl to break down any large clumps.
  4. In a small bowl mix all liquid ingredients:  water, vanilla extract, applesauce, coconut oil
  5. Pour liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir using bowl scraper.
  6. Fill each doughnut region using a tablespoon.  Make sure to fill it above the middle separation as to create a bottom for the doughnut.
  7. Bake for 8 minutes in the center of the rack, then turn the pan and bake for 7 to 8 more minutes or until the doughnuts are a golden-brown color.  Use a toothpick or fork to making sure it comes out clean.
  8. Let doughnuts rest in pan for 5 minutes, then flip over onto a cooling rack and allow to cool for 10 to 15 minutes.
  9. If serving immediately, place powdered sugar in zip seal baggie and place each doughnut in–one at a time–and gently shake around until doughnut is coated in sugar.  Remove and cool for above listed time (10 to 15 minutes).
  10. Once cooled, fill holes with strawberry jam. [I let it spill out, best eaten with a fork. :D]
  11. Using a sieve, sift some of the leftover powdered sugar over the jam and ENJOY!

Quick Strawberry Jam Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups strawberries (cleaned, rinsed, cut into quarters)
  • 2 heaping tbsp raw honey
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar

Jam Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients into saucepan and bring to boil over a medium-high heat.
  2. Stirring consistently until most of liquid has cooked out.
  3. Allow to cool before filling doughnuts.
  4. The mixture should become thicker and the strawberries will be mainly broken down.

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There are few people whom I can say I truly admire, but Patti Smith is one of them.  This book, much like her music, pushed me out of a rut and forced me to stand up on my feet and take a better look at my life and the world I live in, and I’m eternally grateful.  I had such a blast making these doughnuts–which we shared with friends–and it allowed me to feel a little more connected to her world.  What are your thoughts on Just Kids and jelly doughnuts?  Let me know in the comments section below and share pics of your #noshedinabook creations. Check out more Noshed in a Book posts to see what else I’ve been reading this year.  Join me for my next reading selection,  Salt:  A World History by Mark Kurlansky.  And remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy Regards,

RAM

Smith in other places:

Commencement speech

 Special site

Free listening

On Lou Reed

Off the Shelf

Noshed in a Book: The Complete Persepolis

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As the visual medium excites me, graphic novels share a cozy, aromatic and mood-lit spot in my heart.  That’s not to say that I haven’t the imagination to incorporate my own visions of circumstance from a narrative, but the artistry and dark contrasting lines of Marjane Satrapi’s images in The Complete Persepolis are like a secret key into a world I admittedly know little about.  I don’t say this with a proud grin or a disdainful glower, but with an honest and mild expression.  The truth is, I can’t wait to re-read this graphic memoir as it moved me in the way that ocean waves do, sometimes gently nudging and other times forcefully shoving into different depths.

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The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

[spoiler alert]

An earnest, but honest depiction of Marjane Satrapi’s life as a young, rebellious girl and coming-of-age within the incredible and repressive nation of Iran “Persia”.  This visual tonic explores the Iranian revolution in parallel to important markers of growth in Satrapi’s life; the destructive disparity between her and her families’ life behind doors and their public lives; the basic human struggle of falling to a low, sad place before finding yourself; the beautiful and emotional triumph of accepting yourself.  There were moments while reading this book when I took pause to close the book and hug it, as I didn’t want the story to end.  At times, I felt as though I was inside of Marjane’s skin, infuriated by others acceptance of mediocrity and humored by the commodities of art.  This book has helped me re-examine what it means to live in the first world and have first-world problems.  Dwelling in and finding a need to express the petty and inane aspects of our life restrain us and stunt our growth.  Satrapi explores the turmoil she experienced when first discovering class differences.  The importance of education was a theme throughout the book.  Satrapi grew up in a time when there wasn’t access to the internet and yet she flourished by seeking out knowledge in books.  Books, in many ways, were her refuge and greatest friend during the tumultuous times of her up-bringing; this was the most heartening aspect of the book for me.

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As for edibles, tea, pasta and hot cocoa stuck out to me.

  • Tea was a marker of regularity and routine in Satrapi’s life and it’s obvious and endearing that it is a point of pride for Marjane’s family.  Often served from a samovar–which is a self-boiling decorative basin or urn for hot liquid–tea is consumed throughout the day in Persian culture and is not for the faint of heart.
  • Pasta was independence.  When Marjane settled into her first boarding school, pasta was one of the few things she could find to prepare and it became her staple food.  It was convenient to find and she could prepare it with ease.
  • Hot chocolate became a symbol of comfort in Marjane’s life.  She served hot cocoa when she would stay into the late hours of the night talking with her father or uncle.  She would serve hot chocolate to a family friend’s children during a time of crisis.  Hot chocolate meant a moment away from all the destruction around her and her family; a repose in times when food was scarce and pampering the pallet was the clearest path to sanity.  I decided to make a type of Persian hot chocolate, and for those of you out there who are Persian, if you have any thoughts or comments as to the validity of this recipe, please let me know.  This is not my recipe, but one I came across in a thoughtful search on the web.  It was made on a not so chilly evening, yet still coziness in a cup.

Try out Persian Spiced Dark Hot Chocolate by Venus Kalami

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What is your take-away from The Complete Persepolis and what food or foods were brought to your mind while you read and experienced it?  I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts and what you noshed on while reading, feel free to use the hash-tag #noshedinabook .  Check out previous Noshed in a Book posts and join me in reading The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath.  And remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy and Happy Reading Regards,

RAM

Chocolate Chip Cookies on a Baking Stone

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Lately, as I’m sure this may shock some of you who know me, I haven’t had much of a sweet tooth.  Everything in the savory category gets me going to a point where I like to always have kalamata olives and kimchi on hand.  Wilted greens with a bit of apple cider vinegar; yes please!  In fact, I haven’t had the consistency of a sweet tooth for some time now, but when the feeling strikes or when I get an able mind, I spring into action for something to satiate my hankering.  This time, it was COOKIES!  And what better than two dozen–yes, I kid you not–chocolate chip cookies?  For this woman, nothing.

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I decided immediately that an older recipe wouldn’t do.  I have used this one recipe for gluten-free chocolate chip cookies for a while, and though they taste like a chocolate wonderland, they wouldn’t be pin worthy.  This time, I wanted something that would be both mouth-watering and eye-pleasing.  After scouring the web for a while, I realized there was not one perfect recipe out there for me. Instead, I improvised.

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One evening, a friend and I were bouncing our hips to some jazz singers, elbow grease stirring up some tasty treats.  What follows is the final recipe that we couldn’t stop eating.  It’s important to mention, in knowing the temptation to eat the entire batch, my friend sent the majority of these cookies home with me for my husband and I to enjoy.  I thought it would be just my husband gormandizing these delicious treats. Sadly, that was not the case.

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Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

-Gluten-free, Vegan, Low-Glycemic Index

Ingredients

  • 2 1/3 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour blend
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 3/4 cup sucanat
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin coconut oil (between solid and fully liquified)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened original almond milk
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips (or whatever chocolate chunks you have on hand)

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 ° F
  2. Place baking stone out on counter and wipe down with a moist cloth; let water evaporate or dry with towel
  3. Using a medium-sized bowl with fork, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, & sea salt
  4. Set aside the flour mixture
  5. In a large bowl, using a hand mixer, cream together sucanat, coconut sugar, & coconut oil for 1 to 2 minutes
  6. Add in the almond milk, & vanilla extract and mix until well blended
  7. Slowly add the flour mixture into the creamed mixture; dough will be very thick (at this point, we started to use a bowl scraping spatula)
  8. Now fold in the chocolate chips
  9. Roll about two tablespoons of dough into a ball or use a scoop and place balls on baking stone
  10. Press dough down slightly with the back of a spoon or your fingers
  11. Place each ball about two inches apart
  12. Bake about 14 minutes (8-9 minutes if using a parchment paper lined baking sheet)
  13. Allow to cool on stone for 4 minutes
  14. Place cookies on cooling rack until fully cool OR enjoy warm and gooey!
  15. Store in air-tight container.
  16. Share with friends and loved ones and ENJOY!

Notes:

  • Cookies should bake on stone in about three rounds
  • As stated above, makes approximately two dozen cookies (two inches across)

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Today, I’m grateful I’m able to share this recipe with you and I’m heartened by the thought of you all making this tasty batch and sharing it with those you care for.  Sometimes a little sweet something brings a lot of sweetness into your environment.  And remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy Regards,

RAM

 

 

Coconut Milk Coffee Ice Cream

icecream1Good day humanoids,

Unless you’re one of the few–like Adam from GIRLS–who does not dig the dynamic and delectable nature that is ice cream, then I hope you had the most chilly, creamy, National Ice Cream Day on Sunday.  A gift for 2013’s winter holiday was a long-awaited ice cream maker, and this flavor goes out to mihoeneypie!

Confession.  I am a scoop ‘food-in-love’ with ice cream–of the vegan persuasion that is.  I remember when I decided to no longer eat dairy, one of the first things I decided I had to try to win me over was, yes non-dairy ice cream.  Nutritionally, not the most sound choice, but I can’t change the facts of the past.  In fact, I think the first non-dairy ice cream I tried was Tofutti-chocolate.  It was my third year in college, Saturday night, and an evening of film watching–would you expect any less?  On a more nostalgic note, when I was a wee lil’ blueberry, I remember feeling all a flutter when the ice-cream truck came jingling down the street.  As an adult, it often feels like the hypnotic, cheery songs that roar muffled from the 30-year-old speakers of the ice cream truck will never wain, but as a child, that music dissipated faster than ice-cream could melt on a hot July day.  Thus, I would gather up change collected in a bank or run to my mother for some dolla-bills, and soon I would be scampering outside to receive the truck.  There was one instance in particular, that in my mind proves the giving and thoughtful nature that ice-cream can bring out of people, and it was the Pink Panther incident of 1994.  There I was, unwrapping my mal-formed, yet perfect Pink Panther, paper sticky, tangy sherbet bar with gumball eyes–the type of bar varies as I age (Sonic, Tweety)–only to take a few licks, and SPLAT!  Ice-cream on pavement.  My mother, without hesitation, decided to give me her nomnom.  It was a strawberry shortcake bar, and I felt–in that one ice-cream scarring moment–what selfless giving was.  Call me crazy or overly sentimental, but it’s those types of moments that shape the way we, not only see the world, but how we see food.  I know that food nostalgia can lead to a lot of health issues.  I can’t in good conscience lead you all to believe that just because you have a fond memory of your first bag of Flammin’ Hot Cheetos, that it’s okay to eat those, but I can say that memories of food–and in this instance for me, ice cream–can be life-changing.   Now, I think it’s time for an ice cream recipe.

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Coconut Milk Coffee Ice Cream

– vegan, gluten-free

Ingredients

  • 2 13.66 fl oz cans of unsweetened coconut milk (full fat)
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup highly concentrated coffee

Instructions

  1. In a medium-sized sauce pan over medium heat stir together coconut milk, sugar and coffee until mixture is a light brown color and sugar is fully dissolved
  2. Let mixture cool completely in a container with a spout and lid
  3. After the mixture has completely cooled, follow instructions for your ice cream maker
  4. Top with raw cacao nibs and enjoy!

Notes

  • This ice cream recipe is not overly sweet, which I prefer, but if you’re into extra sweet cream, I suggest upping your coconut sugar amount to 3/4 cup.
  • The ice cream maker that we have has a large 2 quart reservoir that we keep frozen and then the ice-cream mixture is poured into it for processing.  It takes around 25 to 30 minutes depending on how thick and creamy you like the ice cream to be.
  • The trick with most ice cream makers is to make sure, without a doubt, that your reservoir is 100% frozen before beginning.
  • If you do not own an ice cream maker, there are many easy methods for making ice cream in your blender or straight from the coconut milk can to the freezer.  Don’t give up!

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This ice cream was demolished so quickly after eating it, my shivering teeth had no regrets.  It’s days like yesterday, when I’m completely overwhelmed with a feeling of gratitude to having the sense of taste, smell, and the emotion of love.  I love ice cream.  How ever inconsequential it may seem, ice cream makes me happy, and makes me grateful to be alive.  Oh the joys of this frozen fare!

Please share your #latergrams of your National Ice Cream Day cream pics or your new pics under the hash-tag #cabicecream and share your favorite ice cream stories.  And remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy creamy regards,

RAM

Kitchen Letters #4: Brunch Brings a Choco Nana Oatmeal “Shuffle” Bake

Dear World,

I am full of thoughts lately, always really, b u t e v e n m o r e l a t e l y ! !  In Austin, brunch is kind of a big deal, as if there weren’t enough social events occurring on a regular basis, brunch is thrown into the mix to add more fringe to already tethered t-shirt that is traffic in Austin.  My thought, STAY HOME!  Too often today we tie ourselves to the social obligations and financial obligations of going out and about on the town nary appreciating what we have in our home, whatever ‘home’ means to you.  In an effort to be both practical but not distress the abstract, I want to bring the conversation back to basics.  That’s why, I decided there’s nothing better than a little sassy  shuffle at home to go with your homemade noms–I’m still polishing my running man, it’s a mess…chachahca!  Although I’m normally more of a savory tooth when it comes to any food item before dinner, I couldn’t resist the idea of an oatmeal bake nuzzled in a gooey chocolate sauce.  May I introduce the Choco Nana Oatmeal “Shuffle” Bake…all rights reserved.  :p

So, let’s say a blissful brunch “bottoms-up” to this delicious treat, and be grateful for the leftovers.

Here’s my long awaited second video.  If you’ve forgotten the first video, you could turn your first at home brunch-bunch gathering into an all day culinary affair and make some homemade gluten-free pasta.  Delightful.

Videos are also streaming on the Connect a Bite YouTube channel, subscribe and never miss one!

 

 

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 Choco Nana Oatmeal “Shuffle” Bake

Ingredients

  • 2 cups old fashioned rolled oats (gluten-free, Bob’s Red Mill is what I use)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 very ripe banana (peeled)
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp ground flax
  • 1 3/4 vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup walnut & pecan mixture (I like to break them up a little)
  • 3 tbsp chocolate chips (I used these Enjoy Life)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup (heaping) peaches (cut into slices)

Ingredients (toppings)

  • 1 ripe banana (peeled)
  • 1/3 cup walnut & pecan mixture (broken into pieces)
  • 2 tbsp raw cacao
  • 1 1/2 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • Alteration to video:  added 1 to 2 tbsp water to make the sauce more fluid
  • 2 tbsp coconut flakes

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF
  2. Have a 8 or 9” baking dish ready (or whatever deep dish you have handy)
  3. Plop and pour water, almond milk, coconut oil, banana, coconut sugar, maple syrup, ground flax seed, vanilla extract, and salt into blender container and blend until mixed, but some minor chunks remaind.
  4. Now, mix oats, chocolate chips, cinnamon and nut mixture (I use my hands)
  5. Now, in the baking dish, line the bottom with peach slices in rows (in a spiral if using a round dish).  Then sprinkle the blueberries on top.
  6. Over the fruit, distribute dry oats mixture evenly
  7. Pour the liquid mixture over oats evenly
  8. Place dish in the oven & bake for 40 minutes or until the dish is no longer runny and golden brown on the top
  9. While the oats bake, prepare coconut flake/nut mixture and chocolate drizzle
  10. In dry skillet, spread coconut flakes out with nuts over low to medium heat and toast until flakes are golden brown (careful not to burn)
  11. In a small sauce pan or skillet, combine coconut oil, maple syrup and raw cacao (from ‘toppings’ list) and stir with spoon until well mixed and chocolate has melted.  Additionally, I amended what I did in the video and added a couple tbsp of water
  12. After taking out the bake, scoop out a portion onto a plate or bowl
  13. Top with coconut flake, nut mixture, then chocolate drizzle, then cut chunks of banana on top
  14. Apprécier avec le thé ou le café ! 😀

 

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I hope this is just as delightful for all of you as it was for us.  Let me know what you think and if you made any alterations.  I end up tweaking this recipe each time I make it.  Also, I want to say a ‘web’ thanks to my love for putting so much thought and care into this video and my first–if you’re interested, Film Fringe, is his podcast with a close friend and also avid film lover!  We make a great production team, and I’m thankful he honored me with his talents. Love.

Alright all of you, be well and remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy and tasty regards,

RAM

Check out more Kitchen letters here!

Cinema Cuisine: Italy – L’eclisse [1st Video]

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YesterdayCafe

Hello Everyone,

My experience with preparing and cooking the assorted dishes for Cinema Cuisine, Italy, was that much more care, devotion, patience and love had to go into each dish.  What do I mean?  Oftentimes in the kitchen, as much as possible, I try to be efficient and quick in my approach to making a meal.  I embrace delicate measures when necessary, but otherwise, I’m multitasking and moving from one dish to the next, incorporating one spice or ingredient after the next. After much sweat and heart, the meal is complete.  Shortly after, I either feel one of two things: a strong sense of accomplishment and elation or a mild sense of disappointment and anxiety.   These feelings are common because I’m either pleased with my creations or I’m displeased with–by my standards–an unsatisfactory outcome.  Either way, I’m able to enjoy my creations with a loved one and, being the critic that I am, dissect the many facets of the meal.  With this in mind, for my Italian meal I allowed self and outside critique, but I channeled a level of love into the process of making the dishes that I rarely do.  It was one of my most enjoyable cooking experiences yet.

Before the big meal, my love and I knew we needed to begin the process of making the homemade pasta for a few reasons, but mostly because we had never used a pasta maker before.  For the winter holiday of 2012, we received an authentic, Italian press (with some extra attachments) and a bamboo wooden drying rack for the pasta.  Up until the end of June, we had yet to crack open the box, and this lack of attention to this thoughtful pasta making gift set in motion my idea of choosing Italy as our next film and cuisine exploration.

Below you’ll find many recipes and my FIRST VIDEO that you too could incorporate into a day or days of Italian themed dishes.  Most of them are my own creations and ideas, but some are inspired by wonderful chefs I’ve discovered.  I hope you enjoy every bite and appreciate the process of making this meal or meals as much as I did.  What is more, as the Italians do, enjoy this meal with a group of people and even encourage a potluck. Making all of these delicious recipes and more could turn into an all day affair.  For me, there’s nothing more rewarding and satisfying.

A quick note on L’eclisse.  Why–before the viewing of this film–I had yet to see an Antonioni film, escapes me, but I can say these dishes couple consummately as their simplicity matches the contemplative and confident manner of this movie.  Please, enjoy every bite and every frame.

Keep a look out for our podcast where you’ll hear much more depth into L’eclisse. I’ll post it in a few days!  Please let me know what you think of the recipes and the tweaks you made to your own creations.  And remember…bite responsibly!

 

Breakfast

Raw Cacao, Avocado Pudding/Spread w/ Apple slices & Italian Press Coffee

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 ripe medium avocados
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 to 3 tbsp unsweetened almond (or coconut) milk to taste
  • 1 to 2 tbsp pure maple syrup to taste
  • 1 or 2 drops of liquid stevia to taste (slightly more liberal w/ powder version)
  • 6 tbsp raw cacao
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 large apple of your choice (pear)
  • fresh coffee beans
  • coffee press
  • water

INSTRUCTIONS

 

For Pudding/Spread

  1. Slice the avocado lengthwise to break past the outter skin barrier, remove the pit and spoon out contents into high powered blender/food processor
  2. Add vanilla, maple syrup, raw cacao, cinnamon and the first tbsp of almond milk
  3. Blend until a smooth, creamy texture is reached (note:  Add remaining tbsp of milk if mixture is too dry. Additionally if not sweet enough, add in stevia–take care to not add too much initially as excessive amounts could make the pudding/spread too bitter.)
  4. Slice apple with skin on and enjoy it with liberal amounts of this delicious pudding

For Coffee Press

  1. Coarsely grind two tbsp of coffee for ever 6 oz of water
  2. Begin to heat water, don’t boil
  3. Place ground coffee beans at the bottom of your press
  4. Pour VERY hot water (not boiling) over beans and immediately cover with coffee press lid, but do NOT press down filtration piece yet; let sit for 3-5 minutes
  5. Press down filtration press piece and pour into your favorite mug
  6. ENJOY!

NOTES

 

This dish could also be made with soft and soaked medjool dates (6 to 8). I happened to not have any on hand. Raisins would also be a nice substitute.

Also, Italians often enjoy their chocolate spread with bread or toast.

For a more dense protein treat, add some pre-soaked raw pecans (you’ll get a flavor closer to Nutella but without the hazlenuts).

Should store, refrigerated for up to two days.  After two days I’d smell it/taste it.

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Flavorful and full-bodied coffee beans from www.equalexchange.coop

Lunch/Dinner

Italian Summer Salad

INGREDIENTS (serves 4 large portions or 6 smaller portions)

  • 1 head romaine lettuce (chopped)
  • 1/2 large cucumber (sliced thinly into half moons)
  • colorful sweet peppers of your choices (I chose:  1 purple, 1 red, 1 green, 1 banana; thinly sliced rings)

INGREDIENTS (DRESSING)

  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar (if you’re watching alkalinity, nix this and add an extra 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar)
  • salt to taste
  • course, freshly ground pepper
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp & 1 tsp dried Italian herb mixture (my mixture is:  thyme, basil, oregano, parsley, rosemary, marjoram; if you have fresh herbs available, curve the amount; also, the dressing cannot be kept as long)

INSTRUCTIONS

 

For Salad

  1. After cleaning, chopping and drying lettuce, place it in a large bowl
  2. Add pepper rings and cucumber slices
  3. Toss with clean hands until vegetables are all mixed

For Dressing

  1. Pour liquids into a jar and then add remainder of ingredients
  2. Place lid on the top of jar and shake until mixture combines
  3. Before mixture separates, conservatively pour over salad
  4. Enjoy salad soon, or lettuce will wilt.  If only enjoying in single portions, plate salad portion and drizzle dressing over individually.  Secure remaining dressing with lid, store at room temperature

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Beet Balls

NOTES

  • Please see my previous post for the beet ball recipe HERE.
  • Some tweaks: I adjusted the herb mixture, type of mushroom and nut when I made these recently, and unlike my old post, I find that golden beets do bring out a more savory nature to these balls.

 

Sauteed Summer Squash

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 summer squash (yellow & zucchini, mixture of your choosing; thinly sliced into half strips)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp grapeseed oil/coconut oil
  • 3 garlic cloves (minced)
  • salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

 

  1. After slicing squash and mincing garlic, heat skillet over medium heat and add oil
  2. Once oil is hot–should move like water in the pan–gently place squash slices into skillet and gently toss until every piece is covered with oil
  3. After beginning to brown, add garlic
  4. Cook until gentle (to fork) and garlic is fragrant, lightly browned, but not burnt; about 7 minutes
  5. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, toss, serve and enjoy ^_^

 

Homemade Pasta (gluten-free, soy-free, vegan)

Recipe by:  Cassie

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tbsp flax (ground)
  • 6 tbsp warm water
  • 1 3/4 cup chickpea flour (additional amount for rolling out and pressing)

INSTRUCTIONAL VIDEO

Check out my very first instructional video (also streaming on YouTube) on how to make homemade pasta!

NOTES

 

  • I made farfalle and fettuccine noodles (both of which fell apart to some degree). I’ll need to do my own personal tweaking to the recipe for the future. Don’t overcook!
  • SALT the water!
  • Make sure you have plenty of flour for rolling out and putting dough through pasta press, otherwise you’ll have a sticky mess.
  • I also recommend keeping a small bowl of cool water nearby wherever your hands are when rolling out the dough. This works much better with moist hands (the dough will not cling to your fingers in such large clumps with a little water).
  • Have a partner! Though you could make this pasta alone, I think it would be more fun and easier with a buddy.
  • Give yourself plenty of time and space. Don’t let the ingredients deceive you, this recipe is relatively time consuming, especially if you’re in a moderately cramped space.
  • Please do not get discouraged if you are in a one butt kitchen or don’t have a pasta press, this is completely doable without both, but it will be more challenging.  Respect your space and the amount of time it will take to make.
  • Kick back and enjoy the experience, otherwise you’ll botch the recipe and process and find yourself very frustrated.
  • Stick to the instructions in the video. Although I’m an advocate of going with the flow in recipes, skipping or rushing a step could lead to problems. :(

 

Walnut Basil Pesto

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 to 1 cup raw walnuts–depending on how ‘nutty’ you want your pesto (soaked w/ apple cider vinegar for 6 hours, rinsed)
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups loosely pressed basil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (more or less to your desired consistency)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (more or less to your desired consistency, taste)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

 

  1. Place nuts, oil and all other ingredients in high-powered blender or food processor
  2. Begin to blend and slowly increase speed to high
  3. Use bowl scraper to wipe sides of container and blend once more to catch the rest of the ingredients that may have splattered
  4. Depending on the consistency you want (either chunky or smooth), pace your blending
  5. Serve mixed into pasta (specifically for this recipe) and freeze the remainder in an ice-cube tray covered in plastic wrap

NOTES

  • This will make a sizable amount. Try freezing the remainder in ice-cube trays and cover with plastic wrap.  Later, you have a quick meal as all you’ll have to do is pop a pesto cube onto your dish and heat it up or thaw it out.

 

Italian Creamy White Sauce w/ Parsley and Grape Tomatoes

Follow directions HERE for dressing then do the following:

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1 garlic clove (yes, more garlic)
  • 3 tsp dried Italian herb mixture
  • water to desired consistency (unsweetened almond milk for a thicker consistency)
  • 6 grape tomatoes (quartered)
  • handful of fresh flat leaf parsley (gently minced; lucky me, this go round I had some from my herb garden!)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Follow instructions for dressing FIRST
  2. Next, add cashews, garlic, Italian herb mixture and water
  3. Blend once more
  4. Serve mixed into pasta (add in parsley and quartered grape tomatoes), or over your favorite, homemade gluten-free pizza crust (without the added parsley, just the tomatoes)!

NOTES

  • Italians typically serve a plain or ‘pasta blanco’ for ease of digestion as a more minimal dish. I dressed up the idea but created a vegan, high protein/omega-3 cream sauce, free of soy and other additives.

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Healthy Regards,

RAM

 

Refernces:

Italian Breakfast

Italy Food Culture

Primer – Italian Food Culture