Posts in Category: sauces

Noshed in a Book: House of Incest & Bird by Bird

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There are entire sections in bookstores devoted to self-help and existential crises–strings of volumes about a particular topic that ails your mind or social life–but I have found that the most inspiring and motivating writing, cloaks itself in books and pieces that you may not have imagined moving you in such a way at the onset.  The pairing of these two books, came not because of some underlying connection I foresaw between them, but rather their inherent differences; one book comments about guidelines while the other is stripped of a typical structure and speaks to its reader through a kind of stream of consciousness.  My introduction to Bird by Bird began a few months ago after taking a class and being given some lines from the text.  Intrigued by the no-nonsense nature of Lamott’s writing, I purchased the book in no time.  My acquaintance with Anaïs Nin started on an unspecific date some time ago and I’ve wanted to read her writing in more depth ever since.  I chose to start with House of Incest because, though obviously personal to Nin, this short text is connected to dreams and the relationship a person can have with them.  I loved the idea of pairing dreamy and practical prose together and seeing where my hunger would take me.

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House of Incest by Anaïs Nin

There were many directions this piece of fiction took my mind.  A short, seventy-two page text that, without me telling you what it is about, grips onto reality and pulls down her unmentionables.  There were times when I felt as though I was caught in a loop of words, twirling in her dedicated syntax and palpable mission with her diction.  It’s the kind of text best read in one sitting, although I didn’t have this privilege; I was guilty of re-reading pages, just to take in her fluidity with language and mood once more.

Nin camps out in a world of dreams–or a stream of dreams, if you will–and we the audience come along as her fellow camp kids, getting to hear her stories of sameness and the selfish human lust for anything that’s accepting and similar.  Never resting too long on any one particular message, Nin quickly morphs her audience–along with her characters–into a relationship of trust.  Do we, as human beings, find oneself in another person and call this love, or are we infinitely selfless in our love?  She posits that love, and our interpretation of it, is questionable, and her challenge of this idea is aptly put.  Nin also depicts moments of consciousness directly beyond the womb and the trauma of birth.  She comments on human fragility–particularly female fragility–and what it means to feel as if you could be vanquished at any moment; the gulping hedonism that tears us all open and exposes our lesser side.  This text is one for which you should begin with an open mind and heart.  I felt confused and unnerved with some aspects, yet in love with others.  This book was an inspiration for writing TO your ideas and feelings, not structuring them.

Additionally, the particular edition of the book I read had incredible photo montages by Val Telberg, a visual artist of the early twentieth century, which truly added to the intensity and brevity of the text.  If you can find this edition, I highly recommend!

“When human pain has struck me fiercely, when anger has corroded me, I rise, I always rise after the crucifixion, and I am in terror of my ascensions.


“I could not bear the passing of things.  All flowing, all passing, all movement choked me with anguish.”


“The world is too small.  I get tired of playing the guitar, of knitting, and walking, and bearing children.  Men are small, and passions are short-lived.  I get furious at stairways, furious at doors, at walls, furious at everyday life which interferes with the continuity of ecstasy.”

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

The subtitle of this book is Some Instructions on Writing and Life, and Lamott is true to her word.  This book was as much about giving thoughtful advice as it was about writing, and without spoiling too much, let me say that you will not come away from it without some stronger sense of purpose for your position in life and how you approach it.  Our propensity for writing comes from an internal drive to ignore the inertia that may take over otherwise.  Art is not always something that most have a natural and innate aptitude for, but rather is something that is learned and practiced with dedication and grit.  If any of us hope to be good at, or aim to succeed at, anything in life, it is just that we should commit to being devoted and steadfast in our wish to learn and improve. Only then can we unleash our skills and talents and, most importantly, learn to trust in ourselves and others.  Lamott contends that a life worth living is one for which we’re lucky enough to wrestle with our demons long enough to find what we’re willing to practice and dedicate ourselves to, long-term.  This is our lasting gift, if we choose to let it reveal itself to us.  I would recommend this book not just to writers, but to anyone who wants a more genuine and practical take on living life to its fullest.

“My deepest belief is that to live as if we’re dying can set us free.  Dying people teach you to pay attention and to forgive and not to sweat the small things.”


“You don’t have to see where you’re going, you don’t have to see your destination or everything you will pass along with way.  You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you.”

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As for edibles I decided to make something with pumpkin seeds.  I wanted to utilize food that was high in a particular amino acid, tryptophan, known for raising serotonin, which stabilizes sleep, mood, and anxiety.  Pumpkin seeds are a wonderful source of iron as well, and happen to be one of my favorite noms.  House of Incest and Bird by Bird call to attention not only the necessity of dreaming, both literally and metaphorically, but what we can learn from the act of sleeping and dreaming soundly.  There could be no better fit of a foodstuff to pair with these two books than pumpkin seeds.  Reading does not require a person to be relaxed nor does sitting down for a meal, but both tasks remain more approachable and filled with joy if we’re rested and calm.  Additionally, you all know how much I love mint, and our most recent CSA box had the most beautiful bundle of mint; I couldn’t wait to put it to use.  In fact, my mind is brimming with ideas for mint this summer so maybe I’ll be able to share a few more of them with you.  For now, enjoy the delightful flavor of this pesto and have sweet, vivid dreams.

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Pumpkin Seed & Mint Pesto

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
  • 1 bunch fresh mint leaves (discard or set aside most of stems/rinse)
  • 6 sun dried tomatoes
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp pink Himalayan salt (or to taste)
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast

Instructions

  1. In dry skillet, spread pumpkin seeds out and toast for a few minutes over a medium flame or heat until they are golden.
  2. Place garlic cloves, pumpkin seeds and mint in food processor and pulse three or four times until roughly chopped and blended.
  3. Now, add in remainder of ingredients and blend until smooth but still modestly chunky.
  4. Enjoy with zucchini noodles (as pictured) or with pasta, as a dip, on pizza or whatever suits your fancy!

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I thoroughly enjoyed the close reading of these two books.  Insight shows itself in unexpected places; open yourself up and you’re sure to be filled by some wonderful words of wisdom.  If you’re interested in reading other Noshed in a Book posts, I’d be delighted, and please take a second to share some of your #noshedinabook thoughts and pics.  Join me in my next reading selection Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert. And remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy Regards,

RAM

Noshed in a Book: Bossypants

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As with most of the memoir and personal essay books I pick up, I expect something.  Yeah, I know expectations are a tricky thing.  Oftentimes, I don’t have a clear vision of what it is that I expect, and this muddled perspective may be part of the solution or part of the trouble.  Maybe you’re asking yourself, “what is there for you to find trouble or a solution in?”  It’s important that I find a voice in the writing; it’s important that I find some humor; it’s important that I find some true and deep personal anecdotes for which I can either relate or contrive some humanity from the writer.  The list goes on.  In many ways, when I’m preparing a dish or sitting down to eat a meal that someone else prepared, I have similar aspirations.  Yes, food can have a voice–although if you’re food’s talking to you you may want to look into that–and food can be imaginative and fun, and I should hope that some of your meals bear a meaning in your life, and in their preparation or enjoyment a life story is created.  The reason I pontificate about this is because Tina Fey’s book, Bossypants, did this for me.  It had a voice, it made me laugh most genuinely, and it excavated some personal anecdotes that displayed a person, beyond the comedic, media icon.

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Bossypants by Tina Fey

A sarcastic, facetious, yet hilarious auto-biography that takes few risks but speaks truthfully in tone and anecdotes.  Bossypants is more than just a memoir because it almost perfectly channeled Tina Fey’s incredible humor and voice in a way that many memoirs don’t.  Tina’s self-deprecating anecdotes at times come off as a way she assuaged herself from becoming too immersed in the depth of her life and ‘soul’ on the page, which was the biggest down-fall of this book for me.  Fey proved she’s not ready, nor feels the need, to write a memoir filled with post-reflective ‘aha’ moments and sentiment. In this way, her writing is obdurate and the title, Bossypants, begins to hold a stronger meaning.  With no true cohesive nature, Fey is still able to make me laugh consistently on nearly every page and for this, I thank her.  The lack of structure seems to work in her favor as a thematic metaphor that she herself is still trying to understand who she is in life.  It became a genuine point of comfort for me to read about such a talented and enigmatic figure struggle to have a bone-strength confidence in herself, yet continue to have the grit to keep going.  Fey’s writing felt effortless and suave.  She captures the minutiae of transitioning from a girl into a woman and the key moments when innocence of self is lost, but self is never lost without purpose or a meaningful outcome.

“One afternoon a girl walked by in a bikini and my cousin scoffed, “Look at the hips on her.”  I panicked. What about the hips?  Were they too big?  Too small?  What were my hips?  I didn’t know hips could be a problem.  I just thought they were fat or skinny.  This is how I found out that there are an infinite number of things that can be “incorrect” on a woman’s body.  At any given moment on planet Earth, a woman is buying a product to correct one of the following “deficiencies”:  big pores, oily T-zone, cankles, fivehead…”  [Age 13; Fey continues to list ‘deficiencies’.]

Fey comments on the superiority complexes that occur among women, and we are doing our gender a disservice by not equaling the playing-field.

“…you were either blessed with a beautiful body or not.  And if you were not, you could just chill out and learn a trade.  Now if you’re not “hot,” you’re expected to work on it until you are.” [Fey comments on then and now.]

While devouring this book, a moment of sadness flushed over me when she peaks to not feeling a bond between herself and other animals.  It’s hard to realize that someone you admire doesn’t “actively care”–as she put it–about something you hold dear, but I cannot fault her for this.  Again, I appreciate her honesty.

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As for edibles, all I have to say is N A C H O S!  No, that’s not all, but really, nachos make a cameo in this book that I feel is worth focusing on.  Fey talks about the magical moment in time when homemade nachos were the “it” thing to make.  What’s so refreshing about this commentary is the manner in which she turns your typical junk food into a food celebrity.  The same way that quinoa and kale have brandished their way into the fast-food, box-food episode of the food world.  The imaginary drama we create with food trends is comical and to have someone reflect on a time when homemade nachos were the shining star is ridiculously satisfying.  It is for this reason, I decided to make my version of nachos, which have made an appearance before.

 Gourmet Nachos  (animal-product-free, gluten-free, soy-free)

Avocado Sauce Ingredients | generously serves 2 people

  • 2 avocados [rinsed]
  • juice from half of a lime [or more to taste]
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp garlic granules
  • /14 tsp onion granules
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves [rinsed, and stems removed; use 1 tsp dried cilantro if fresh is not on hand]
  • salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

Sauce Instructions

  1. Slice avocados in half lengthwise, remove pit and use spoon to scoop out flesh into bowl or mortar.
  2. Squeeze lime juice over avocado.
  3. Now add cumin, garlic granules, onion granules, salt, and black pepper and cilantro leaves.
  4. Using back-end (convex side) of spoon or pestle and mash avocado, lime juice, cilantro and spices until you have a creamy but still slightly chunky sauce.
  5. Set aside and enjoy with nachos and other delectables.

Nachos Ingredients

  • 1 bag of blue corn chips
  • 1 can refried black beans
  • 1 package of ‘cheddar’ Daiya
  • pickled jalapeno [sliced, by taste]
  • grape tomatoes [quartered, by taste; I use about 8 per person]
  • 2 crimini mushrooms [thinly sliced]
  • cilantro [minced, no stems; *optional]
  • 2 green onions [minced; only the greens; set aside white part for another meal, *optional]
  • avocado sauce [see recipe above]

Nachos Instructions

  1. On oven safe dish, spread out your chips in layers to a proportion that suites you or use a platter if multiple people will be eating from the same plate.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat up black beans and spoon beans over chips, no need to be a perfectionist here.
  3. Now, place sliced jalapeno pieces, quartered cherry tomatoes, and sliced mushrooms over the beans, evenly.
  4. Sprinkle the Daiya on top.
  5. Place plate(s) under broiler until ‘cheese’ melts, being careful not to burn anything, maybe 3 or 5 minutes.
  6. Once plate has been removed from oven, sprinkle with cilantro and green onion.
  7. Finally, place a big wallop of avocado sauce on top of the delicious mound and enjoy!

Notes:

  • Keep some napkins and a fork handy, these might be fun and messy!
  • That plate’s hot, be careful!
  • Another option would be to place your avocado sauce in a ramekin on the side for dipping.
  • Some like to enjoy hot sauce with their nachos for an extra spicy kick, go for it!
  • Have some extra chips around, the beans can get a little heavy in the middle of the plate.
  • Know when to hand your plate over to your friend or partner; I made the mistake of eating too much because it was in front of me.  Big, full-belly mistake.

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I can’t say I’m a ‘nacho eater’, but I can say that these made my husband very happy and coupled well with this book.  Tina Fey is the kind of woman I would like to have tea with on a rainy Thursday morning while we giggle about playing hooky from our work.  Her humor speaks very clearly to the sensibility I hold dear and this book will stay near to me both figuratively and physically for years to come as a reference guide and to ground myself.  Thanks Tina.

Thanks for reading this week’s Noshed in a Book and make sure to share some of your #noshedinabook experiences and pics.  Join me ind reading Intruder in the Dust by William Faulkner.  I hope you all enjoyed Bossypants as much as me, and remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy Regards,

RAM

 

Noshed in a Book: Yes Please

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Often when I begin a book, I don’t like to read the introduction first because it can impact the manner in which I frame the rest of the text. For Amy P0ehler’s Yes Please, however,I wanted to read every last typed symbol.  I absolutely ate this book up and would have literally, had it not been for the fact that book pages give me really bad indigestion more often than not.  I jest, but I hesitate not at all when I say that I felt addicted by the scintillating wit and hysterical, self-conscious nature of this book.  I’m the type of reader, with text in any form, who’s constantly taking notes, looking things up and relishing in long pauses to contemplate, and I must admit that this book was drenched in all the above.

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Yes Please by Amy Poehler

“Decide what your currency is early.  Let go of what you will never have.  People who do this are happier and sexier.”

 

“It takes years as a woman to unlearn what you have been taught.  It takes years to find  your voice and seize your real estate.”

A humorous and thought-provoking memoir by the comedian, writer, and actress, Amy Poehler, that assures any reader–taking the time to swathe themselves in her pages–that they are capable of self-love, self-actualization, and increased self-esteem.  She does this by exploring segments of her life as decisive moments and markers of her purpose rather than inconclusive moments of failure.  That’s not to say that Amy doesn’t comment on real struggle and genuine fear of failure, but she speaks to admittedly not struggling much throughout her life, and when she does speak of struggle, it is transformed into a right of passage.  Amy never hesitates to take an emotion or feeling that may seem mundane and turn it into a real life battle or truce.  This book embraces the concept of working hard and reaching a desired outcome, but understates that often times the ‘desired outcome’ can be exhausting, exhilarating and feel incomplete.  Really, for me, that is the point of her book; feel comfortable in the fragmentary manner in which life hands you victories and defeats.  I have to admit the incessant need to name-drop–which may be difficult to step away from in the celebrity world–turned me off.  However, when you know as many ‘cool’ people as Amy Poehler, it might be worth it to name a few.

[In response to CPAP Machine results.] “I just started this crazy mask and accompanying gurgling device next to it and just couldn’t wait for the instructions to be over.  I looked at it the same way you look at a plate of vegetables.  You know it’s good for you but most of the time you don’t feel like it.”

 

[Arrival in Chicago.]  “I would smoke in the morning and listen to Bob Marley.  I would wear headphones and buy records and comic books.  I would make mac and cheese while watching Deep Space Nine.”

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As for edibles, there were not many reflective moments in the text on noshing, and in response to veggies, there’s even commentary about avoiding them (see above).  However, as this book speaks a lot about personal acceptance and self-gratitude, then I’ll have to say one of the best ways to approach a meal in this head-space–and most–is with gratitude.  At the risk of being too literal, I chose to make a macaroni dish to finalize and celebrate this memoir.  It felt like this meal was–even if by accident–a transition food in Amy Poehler’s life.  Food can be and often is a lifestyle, and it seems obvious that for Amy, it was.  I wanted to add a bit of a spin on your average boxed mac and cheese dish, so I made a recipe all my own, inspired by one I tried long, long ago.  I hope you enjoy this dish as an extra savory and protein filled treat.

 

Delicata Squash Macaroni and ‘Cheese’ with Roasted Brussels Sprouts

‘Cheese’ Sauce Ingredients

  • 2 delicata squash [rinsed, cut in half lengthwise, seeds and pulp scooped out]
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 3/4 cup raw cashew pieces (new edit: 3/26/15 – because cashews can cause digestive troubles (ahem) cutting the nuts out all together and adding in a legume: white bean, navy bean, chickpeas–same proportion)
  • 3/4 cup no salt added vegetable broth
  • 4 or 5 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 8 tbsp nooch (nutritional yeast)
  • 2 or 3 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp onion granules
  • 1/2 tsp Spanish paprika
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste

Sauce instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Place all ingredients except squash and oil into blender or food processor–reserve 1/4 cup broth for if the mixture clumps up in blender once adding squash.
  3. Increase blending speed until mixture is creamy, but not over blended and splattered on all walls of your device.
  4. Rub olive oil on squash flesh, not on the skin and place all four sides, face down onbaking pan, use a fork to pierce skin a couple of times on each piece.
  5. Place on the top rack and bake for 30 to 45 minutes [varies by oven].
  6. Once squash is cooked it should be tender.  Let it cool for about 5 to 7 minutes.
  7. Scoop out each side of cooked squash into the blender with other ingredients.  Blend until smooth.  Add in the remaining 1/4 cup broth to move the blending along.
  8. Set aside.

Macaroni Mixture  & Roasted Brussels Sprouts Ingredients

  • 1 serving of ‘Cheese Sauce’ [see above]
  • 1 package gluten-free macaroni pasta [I use Tinkyada pasta]
  • 1 tbsp arrowroot powder
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk [or non-dairy milk of your choice]
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 package brussels sprouts or approximately 16.5 oz [rinsed with hard base cut off and cut in half from base to top]
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic granules
  • Paprika to garnish

Instructions

  1. Coat brussels sprouts with olive oil, 1/8 tsp salt and garlic granules and place in 425°F preheated oven on the bottom while cooking squash.
  2. Cook brussels sprouts for 15 minutes.  Reverse rack position between squash and brussels sprouts after 20 minutes of cook-time on the sprouts.  Toss brussels sprouts before placing back in oven.  Remove when they are tender yet firm and have become golden on the cooked edges and sides.
  3. Cook pasta according to package instructions in large pot [cook to al dente].
  4. While pasta is cooking, in a small bowl, whisk together the arrowroot powder and the milk of your choice until there no longer formed lumps; set aside.
  5. Drain and rinse pasta and place it back into the large pot.
  6. Add arrowroot mixture to pasta and mix thoroughly.
  7. Now, add in ‘Cheese Sauce’ and gently mix together making sure to not break apart pasta [gluten-free pasta can become mushy and crumble easily].
  8. Over medium heat begin to warm pasta.
  9. Serve and enjoy your macaroni and ‘cheese’ with delicious brussels sprouts on the side.

Notes:

  • After plating the mac, sprinkle a pinch of paprika on top.
  • You may need extra almond milk if your mixture becomes too sticky and thick.  The milk will thin out the ‘cheese’ but keep it creamy.
  • If you have the time, conserve the squash seeds, rinse and toast them and have a crunchy topping for the mac.

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As an ultimate comfort food for many, take a big bite out of this one and let me know your thoughts on the book and how you dig the mac!  Really, as this is my third book into the year, I can’t tell you how fun it is to connect reading to eating; a natural pairing.  Both require you to be present and both incite joy.  Thanks for checking out Noshed in a Book and remember to share some of your #noshedinabook moments for the year.  I hope you can read along with me for my next book choice, this time a graphic novel, The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi.  And remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy Regards,

RAM

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.

fullplate_cab

 

finalmealwithwine_cab

 

Healthy Regards,

RAM

 

Refernces:

Italian Breakfast

Italy Food Culture

Primer – Italian Food Culture

Peruvian Chili Lime Stir-Fry w/ Vermecilli Noodles

Peruvian Chili Lime Stir-Fry w/ Vermicelli Noodles

Peruvian Chili Lime Stir-Fry w/ Vermicelli Noodles

Hi everyone!  Another recipe awaits!

A friend recently received his Master’s degree and in celebration I made an on the spot stir-fry.  Recently he asked me for the recipe and it occurred to me I did not write down the creation. Since then, I have mulled over what I could have possibly used and what follows is the recipe–as close as I can recall–and a few pics that my love happened to take that night.

Friendships and Food

Our friend is of Latino descent and his lovely girlfriend (also a close friend) is very involved and interested in Mexican culture.  Additionally, they are both vegetarian, which worked out well for the ideas I had for the dish because I didn’t have to hold back on any of the veggies I wanted to include.  I decided on an Asian themed dish but with a Latino (South American) twist.  I wanted to make something that the two of them had never tried and it turns out I did!

When I think about eating and preparing food, I immediately think about sharing.  In many ways, I feel like food is one of the most wonderful and full-hearted gifts you could ever give someone.  A well prepared, home-cooked meal is full of dedication, trust, and creativity.  Food, as a gift, polishes the idea of friendship because it’s sharing a part of yourself with the people in your life that mean the most to you.  Preparing a meal, or giving the gift of food (especially if personally prepared, picked, sought out) is a way of leaving your mark on the world. Sadly, in some opinions, it’s much less permanent and much more easy to forget.  I say let us remember these acts and appreciate every bite!  Even when you’re sharing a meal with friends at a restaurant, take the time to truly appreciate the flavors, the environment and where the food came from. If it’s possible, you could even take the time to thank or compliment those who helped make the meal for you.  Take a picnic with your friends and enjoy nature while enjoying your basket or bag full of wonders.  Essentially, imbue the thought.  I hope all of you enjoy preparing this meal and are able to share it with someone extra special.  And remember…bite responsibly!

Peruvian Chili Lime Stir-Fry w/ Vermicelli Noodles

Peruvian Chili Lime Stir-Fry w/ Vermicelli Noodles

Peruvian Chili Lime Stir-Fry w/ Vermicelli Noodles

Ingredients / Utensils

  • 1 crown of broccoli (cut into small pieces, I even used 3/4 of the stalk and sliced it into very thin julienned pieces; waste not!)
  • 1 medium yellow onion (sliced into thin strips)
  • 1 large carrot or 2 medium carrots (or whatever amount seems right to you, julienned)
  • 1/2 large zucchini or 1 small (skin on, julienned)
  • small sweet peppers or 1 bell pepper (thinly sliced into rings)
  • 3 garlic cloves (more if you’re a garlic freak like me, minced)
  • 3 small Yukon potatoes (1/8 inch thinly sliced)
  • 4 or 5 white or baby bella mushrooms (thin, long vertical strips)
  • 1 lime (quartered)
  • 1 medium to large avocado (cut into strips)
  • dried vermicelli noodles (gluten-free, vegan; whatever amount suits the party you’re serving)
  • 1 package tempeh (cut into long, medium-sized strips or you can crumble it)
  • sesame seeds w/ dulse (used to garnish the dish at the end)
  • coconut oil or grape seed oil for sauté
  • drizzle of sesame oil for noodles
  • 1/4 tsp onion granules
  • 1/8 tsp garlic granules (more if you cut back on the garlic cloves)
  • pinch or two of cumin
  • 1/4 tsp dried basil
  • 1/8 tsp ginger powder (1 tsp minced if you have it fresh)
  • 1 tsp (or more to taste) Peruvian chili lime spice
  • 3 tbsp gluten-free, low-sodium tamari (or to taste, I normally just poor :/) (this is fermented soy sauce, better for your digestive system and shouldn’t wreak havoc on your hormones)
  • bamboo spoon or large bamboo chopsticks for mixing
  • sharp chefs knife
  • chopping board(s)
  • bowls (if you want to portion out your veggies)
  • measuring spoons
  • A wok is preferable for heating this meal, but if you have a large skillet this should do.

Instructions

  1. Prepare all veggies first!  (I like to keep mine separated in bowls or on separate chopping boards organized by cooking order, but I’m a big dork.  :p )
  2. Once all veggies are cut, begin heating water for noodles.  Add noodles once water is boiling and cook for just a few minutes until tender.  Do not over cook, or they will become gummy!  At this point, line up your herbs, spices, and Tamari for easy access.  If you want to be especially tidy, you could allocate all of your spices into a small glass ramekin and then set the remainder of your bottles away, for less clean up time later.
  3. Begin by sautéing the garlic and onions until fragrant, then add in the tempeh and cook until tempeh turns a light golden color but before onions are caramelized.
  4. Next, add in the broccoli, carrots and potatoes. Cover and toss until just before tender.  Then, add in the remainder of the vegetables, cook until mushrooms produce an ever so slight broth.
  5. Follow-up by sprinkling in your herbs and spices and mix everything together gently.  Now, add the tamari to taste.
  6. As you’re cooking the vegetables, keep on eye your noodles (as mentioned above) and once prepared, drain and rinse with cool water.  Drizzle sesame oil over noodles once back in the pot.
  7. Plate the noodles and serve prepared stir-fry over and to the side of the noodles.
  8. Place slices of avocado on the side and sprinkle with sesame seeds and dulse.
  9. Set a quarter of a lime on the plate and squeeze over dish just before consuming.
  10. Eat up, happily, and with friends!
Peruvian Chili Lime Stir-Fry w/ Vermicelli Noodles

Peruvian Chili Lime Stir-Fry w/ Vermicelli Noodles

 

Notes:  I focused on the style in the cut of the vegetables.  I wanted them to seem slightly uniform for a more aesthetic, pleasing look to the eye.  I was going for a slender, matchstick or even julienne look to pattern with the small, delicate noodles.  On my choice of noodle; I was inspired by Vietnamese dishes that frequently have vermicelli, thus I was hooked!  I over-cooked the noodles just slightly that night, and they became a little gummy, but adding the slightest amount of sesame oil helped loosen them up.  Also, I’m still perfecting the science of presenting a recipe because personally, I pour and shake my spices and liquids, thus it’s difficult for me to portion out measurements for others to use.  I just go by taste.  Patience, please! 😀