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.
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.”
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
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- 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.
- Increase blending speed until mixture is creamy, but not over blended and splattered on all walls of your device.
- 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.
- Place on the top rack and bake for 30 to 45 minutes [varies by oven].
- Once squash is cooked it should be tender. Let it cool for about 5 to 7 minutes.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- Cook pasta according to package instructions in large pot [cook to al dente].
- 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.
- Drain and rinse pasta and place it back into the large pot.
- Add arrowroot mixture to pasta and mix thoroughly.
- 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].
- Over medium heat begin to warm pasta.
- Serve and enjoy your macaroni and ‘cheese’ with delicious brussels sprouts on the side.
- 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.
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!
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!
Raw Cacao, Avocado Pudding/Spread w/ Apple slices & Italian Press Coffee
- 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
- Slice the avocado lengthwise to break past the outter skin barrier, remove the pit and spoon out contents into high powered blender/food processor
- Add vanilla, maple syrup, raw cacao, cinnamon and the first tbsp of almond milk
- 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.)
- Slice apple with skin on and enjoy it with liberal amounts of this delicious pudding
For Coffee Press
- Coarsely grind two tbsp of coffee for ever 6 oz of water
- Begin to heat water, don’t boil
- Place ground coffee beans at the bottom of your press
- 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
- Press down filtration press piece and pour into your favorite mug
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.
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)
- 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)
- After cleaning, chopping and drying lettuce, place it in a large bowl
- Add pepper rings and cucumber slices
- Toss with clean hands until vegetables are all mixed
- Pour liquids into a jar and then add remainder of ingredients
- Place lid on the top of jar and shake until mixture combines
- Before mixture separates, conservatively pour over salad
- 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
- 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
- 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
- After slicing squash and mincing garlic, heat skillet over medium heat and add oil
- 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
- After beginning to brown, add garlic
- Cook until gentle (to fork) and garlic is fragrant, lightly browned, but not burnt; about 7 minutes
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper, toss, serve and enjoy ^_^
Homemade Pasta (gluten-free, soy-free, vegan)
Recipe by: Cassie
- 2 tbsp flax (ground)
- 6 tbsp warm water
- 1 3/4 cup chickpea flour (additional amount for rolling out and pressing)
Check out my very first instructional video (also streaming on YouTube) on how to make homemade pasta!
- 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
- 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
- Place nuts, oil and all other ingredients in high-powered blender or food processor
- Begin to blend and slowly increase speed to high
- Use bowl scraper to wipe sides of container and blend once more to catch the rest of the ingredients that may have splattered
- Depending on the consistency you want (either chunky or smooth), pace your blending
- Serve mixed into pasta (specifically for this recipe) and freeze the remainder in an ice-cube tray covered in plastic wrap
- 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:
- 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!)
- Follow instructions for dressing FIRST
- Next, add cashews, garlic, Italian herb mixture and water
- Blend once more
- 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)!
- 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.
So, now you understand the basics of how to live a life less dependent on gluten, but what the hell are you supposed to eat now? You are used to taking a whole wheat sandwich everyday with (insert your food trappings here) and spaghetti for dinner and oh yeah toast for breakfast–even a muffin or doughnut. And if you are vegan, than you are initially going to feel even MORE restricted, but trust me this feeling too, shall pass. If you start to forget what it means to apply your new founded dietary change refer back to my last post or food journal that I know you have all been keeping since Sunday. Where are your weak spots?
Lucky for us, we live in a time of excessive labeling and precautionary companies, so it is easy to avoid gluten in processed foods. If gluten will not be 100% cut out of your diet than it is important to at least avoid it in trivial amounts in other foods. For example: if you like to eat oats in the morning, you no longer can eat conventional oats because they are processed in a plant where gluten is handled. You can however by ‘safe’ oats, I suggest Bob’s Red Mill.
What do I suggest you eat? This is a semi-difficult question to answer because I can only direct my response to the vegetable/fruit based diet. Here are some ideas for foodstuffs you might consider in your transition:
I could certainly list more, but these are the most critical items without getting too detailed and frivolous. The key to cutting out gluten is to realize what you are NOT missing and move on. Don’t even consider it an option when you are dining. If you are vegetarian, this could be a simpler process. Dwelling on any circumstance from the ‘past’ is not a very fun or healthy mental state to carry everyday. Overall, cutting out gluten for some is just a transition into eating more processed foods or equal value to those they were eating previously, but I say try to see cutting gluten out of your daily food routines as another excuse to bring your diet closer to the ground, to whole, slow-foods.
As always, if you have any questions, critiques or comments, I would love to hear from you.
And remember…bite responsibly.
Oh beets, how you constantly surprise me with your varietal flavors and textures.
Recently I tried out Susan Voisin’s recipe for gluten-free, soy-free, vegan ‘Beet Balls’ and they were fantastic. I had a few of my own tweaks, but for the most part I stuck to the recipe at hand, which is saying a lot for me. Click on the link above for a more ‘behind the scene’ look at the origin of this recipe.
What did I think? These things were completely marvy! Everything about them was pleasurable from the savory, evenly seasoned flavor to the chunky yet doable texture. I have tried them two different ways; once on top of pasta which I’ve shown, and once crumbled on a dish. Both times my experience was exceptional and satisfying. Additionally, the reheat factor is a cinch; I just threw mine on a dry skillet at a low setting for about 10 minutes whilst rolling around to evenly heat.
I recommend using these ‘beet balls’ as just that or in a taco, on a pizza as Susan suggests, crumbled on top of a salad, or even mixed into a bowl of quinoa. You could even add them on top of lightly wilted beet greens in order to use the entire vegetable.
Here are a few of my recommendations and tweaks. (All local produce). First of all, I used baby bella mushrooms which have a very similar texture to porcini mushrooms and are easily accessible and less expensive. To match the proportion, I used around 6 or 7 small to medium-sized mushrooms. Additionally, I used a typical red beet, rather than a golden beet, so mine turned out a lovely crimson color. Note that the red beets are a tad sweeter, but not by much. I also used raw walnuts instead of pecans or almonds because I felt they would add a lovely flavor and texture that wouldn’t overpower everything else, and luckily for me, I was right! ^____^ I would recommend taking the balls out half way through the cooking process to turn them so they can brown evenly on both sides.
Thank you Susan for a fantastic and creative recipe that I will be making many more times. In fact I have two medium-sized beets left, and I’ll be in beet ball city this weekend as I prepare them for the freezer. There’s nothing better than homemade frozen dinners for when you’re in a time crunch. 😀
I knew I wanted to stick to an Italian theme when I prepared these, so I cooked some gluten-free spaghetti with a pasta sauce I had never tried before and I would like to share it with all of you.
Rising Moon Organics – Garlic & Merlot Pasta Sauce Breakdown:
My First and Final Impressions and Reflections:
Take Away: I would most assuredly buy Rising Moon Organics pasta sauce again. In fact as far as a quick sauce, they are #1 for me at this point. Something I’d like to see them specify is allergens and perhaps more about the packaging of their materials. This sauce was fantastic and I cannot wait to try the Garlic & Chanterelle Mushroom!
My full meal: Susan Voisin’s recipe for beet balls on top of Tinkyada’s gluten-free spaghetti mixed with Rising Moon Organic’s Garlic & Merlot flavor pasta sauce. Très magnifique! (Pre-dinner bed of greens of course :p ).
I hope you all truly enjoy preparing this meal, I did. I must admit, I have a hard time approaching any meal with abandon, but I’m working on relaxing a bit when it comes to food. Although I’m a firm believer in being as connected as possible to what you’re eating, I am also keen to the fact that I can’t change everything and life can have a modicum of hedonism, right?
I’d love any feedback about fun ways you’ve incorporated beets into recipes and how you’ve utilized pasta sauces in creative ways.
And remember…bite responsibly.
Healthy and Warm Regards,