Posts Tagged: gluten free

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

Edible Inspiration: Week 24

Images to explore from the week.

1)  Nature confetti.

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2)  Peeling beets, stained fingers and food prep.

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3)  This happened.  And yes, they were gluten-free, vegan, and soy-free.  And no, I didn’t eat them all. :p

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4) The copious amount of green onions we’ve had are slowing down, but these beauties made their way into some tacos.

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5)  First batch of homemade tortillas for the year! Best batch yet.

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Thanks for taking the time to look over this week’s Edible Inspiration.  I can’t wait so see some of your pics. #edibleinspiration  And remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy Regards,

RAM

Noshed in a Book: The Bell Jar

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No more than two pages into it, I began to ask myself how it was that I had gone this long without reading Sylvia Plath’s, The Bell Jar.  In all honesty, I contemplated not writing this post because I’m still trying to digest what this book meant for me, but then I realized writing would be a keen way to tackle my feelings and a great place to start.  As I’ve stated before, I feel that reading and eating are both very personal experiences.  The Bell Jar was an intimate experience for me and I am grateful that the chance presented itself.  I don’t want to dance around the simple fact that this novel could be viewed as sad, depressing even, but I am also a firm believer that shielding ourselves from those situations in life which are unpleasant, can lead to unnecessary shocks later in life.  Thus, here’s to embracing literary life in different ways just as we do with food.

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The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

[spoiler alert]

“If Mrs. Guinea had given me a ticket to Europe, or a round-the-world cruise, it wouldn’t have made one scrap of difference to me, because wherever I sat–on the deck of a ship or at a street café in Paris or Bangkok–I would be sitting under the same glass bell jar, stewing in my own sour air.”

Esther Greenwood personifies the terror associated with reaching for greatness, all while being stifled by gender and class.  Uniquely bound, Esther yearns to escape what she’s labored after; a scholarship supported, academic writing career of prominence soon to be forgotten for the societal prize of a life of domesticity.  Plath steeps the audience in the character, Esther, who has a predilection to sullen behavior, and is terrorized by self-loathing and her own self-destructive nature.  Though academically intelligent, motivated and determined, Esther begins to unravel in a way that no one around her seems to comprehend.  Plath is masterful when subtly hinting at Esther’s decline, and before you know it, it seems as though she’s beyond saving.  It’s impossible to read this book without cringing at the excessive amounts of ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) used on the women at the sanitarium in the later chapters.  As a feminist of the twenty-first century, the debasement of the women who were struggling with their mental health was suffocating, just as I’m sure Plath intended her audience to feel; trapped under the bell jar.  There’s so much more to unpack about this novel, but for the purpose of this blog, I’ve said my piece.  Sylvia Plath’s time on this earth only allowed her a singular novel for which she was able to transcend time and mortality to speak directly from the flesh of many woman.  An incredible work, not to ever be forgotten by me.

“When I lifted my head, the photographer had vanished.  Jaycee had vanished as well.  I felt limp and betrayed, like the skin shed by a terrible animal.  It was a relief to be free of the animal but it seemed to have taken my spirit with it, and everything else it could lay its paws on.”

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As for edibles, Esther loved to gorge herself on food, and mentions butter with voracity.  In fact, she and her magazine colleagues overindulged on some–unbeknownst to them–tainted caviar and they all became very ill with food-poisoning.  Plath sprinkles bits about food and consumption throughout the book, but it never takes front and center.  In picking a food to couple with the book I decided to make Sarah Britton of My New Roots recipe of Valentine Rawlos for a few reasons.

  • Because whether you’re into it or not, tis the season, and ignoring Valentine’s Day, whatever the reason, is–as Mrs. Tina Fey says–like avoiding Photoshoped magazine covers, it’s right in front of your face and not going anywhere.
  • Because when Esther began her apprenticeship with the magazine, it’s likely she was given assorted boxes of chocolates in gift bags and on her pillow of the hotel, or so I like to imagine.
  • Because small, chocolate hearts are rich, full-bodied and express choice and can be a constant.

niab5_3Any thoughts about The Bell Jar and any food take-away?  Check out more Noshed in a Book posts and share some of your own #noshedinabook thoughts with me.  Join me in reading Bossypants by the incredible Tina Fey.  And remember…bite responsibly.

Healthy Regards,

RAM

Edible Inspiration: Week 14

Good morning all,

This week has been a splendid exploration.  I’m especially pleased to share photos with you all this week!

1)  On a walk about in our neighborhood, I came across these delicate flowers.  The leaves remind me of rosemary.

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2)  Baked some scrumptious gluten-free chocolate chip cookies with a friend, and we used a stone! Recipe to come. :)

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3)  Coconut oil solidifies on our cast iron in this cool weather.  The appearance reminds of cellular structures.

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4)  Crispy millet veggies patties.  MMMmmm!

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5)  These acacia wood salt and pepper grinders.

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6)  Bonus, finding this purr-box before slumber.

eiwk14_6I’m looking forward to seeing your edible inspiration pics.  #edibleinspiration  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

Splendid Springtime Spaghetti with Toasted Seeds

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Good Day Everyone,

Happy Vernal Equinox !

Springtime represents so many things in our society, that it’s hard to overlook this major transitional period–and subsequently positive alteration to the environment–by way of beautiful blooms, pollination and the beginning of a new growing season.  Spring washes over us all and makes way for sweet morning reads by a window and fresh spring salads to compliment the change of weather.

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As March settles in, I am finding my time being stretched in different directions and all I can think about lately is savory goodness to satisfy my longing to stay nourished through the busy days of work and creative projects. This recipe revealed itself one late afternoon while I was alone in the kitchen and peeking into our refrigerator for what we had “in stock” at the time.  These are the moments I enjoy most in the culinary experience because my imagination stands a chance.  Have you ever heard that we all like a range of options, but if you present too many, we’re less likely to come to a solidified choice?  Well on this particular afternoon, we were just scant enough in the produce department that is our kitchen, that I felt a happy inclination towards this vibrant and delicious spaghetti dish.

I  knew I wanted pasta, but mother time had not gifted enough to me in this instance to warrant making it from scratch.  However, I was able to use Tinkyada spaghetti noodles and they were just what I had in mind.  I wanted a noodle I could wrap my fork around and spaghetti, along with farfalle, remind me of Spring!  Also, I wanted to–as I’m sure most of you know about me–balance color, but I did lean on the green end for this dish.

I wanted to balance the semi-soft nature of the dish with something crunchy, and after cutting open the butternut squash, I was in luck; seeds!  I decided to combine the butternut squash seeds with the other three you’ll see listed below to make a nice crunchy medley.  Honestly, I initially wanted these roasted, but I went with toasted and I was pleased with the results, however I recommend trying both ways.  Additionally, I did not hull the butternut squash seeds but ate them as they are.

The peas and the butternut squash balanced their sweetness and semi-savory nature perfectly and will dance on your palette with divine texture and pleasure.

Take a moment this spring to appreciate the colors nature offers, appreciate the remainder of veggies nestled in your fridge and prepare yourself a happy Spring sketti!

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 Splendid Springtime Spaghetti (gluten-free)

Ingredients

  • 1 package gluten-free spaghetti (I used the Tinkyada brown rice kind, but the quinoa pasta is great too!)
  • 1/2 cup green peas (fresh or frozen)
  • 5 or 6 sun dried tomatoes (cut into strips and re-hydrated if purchased dried–boil water and place dried tomatoes in hot water after removing from heat; soak for 10 min.)
  • 7 or 8 thin slices of purple onion (cut in half, and separate into slivers)
  • 4 white mushrooms (cut into thin slices)
  • 1 bundle of flat leaf parsley(leaves and majority of stems minced)
  • 1 1/4 cup red kidney beans (cooked and drained)
  • 6 or 7 glugs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp Spanish paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic granules
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp dried marjoram
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • Salt to taste

Ingredients (toppings)

  • 1/2 medium to large butternut squash (roasted strips)
  • A couple of glugs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • A few shakes or cranks black pepper
  • All butternut squash seeds from cut squash (rinsed well and partially dried–either toss pulp or use for compost)
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds (raw; optional)
  • 2 tbsp sunflower seeds (raw; optional)
  • 1/2 avocado (per person, thin slices)

Instructions  (butternut squash)

  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF
  2. Rinse and peel squash and chop off bottom and top
  3. Slice in half through the vertical perimeter and then use seed scooper or large spoon to scoop out seeds  and pulp
  4. Place seeds into a bowl reserving them for the seed mixture topping (see above)
  5. Cut  squash into 1/2 inch thick strips, about an inch and a half long
  6. Place squash strips in medium bowl and cover with a couple of glugs olive oil, salt and pepper
  7. Toss squash with hands until it is lightly coated with oil, salt and pepper
  8. Distribute squash evenly on baking sheet and bake for 30 to 35 minutes (flip half-way)
  9. Once baking is complete, place aside

Instructions (pasta dish)

  1. Begin by prepping all veggies
  2. Boil enough water to be able to submerge entire pasta amount (I break pasta in half); salt pasta once pasta is added.  Cook 10 – 15 minutes or until pasta is al dente.  Gluten-free pasta can get mushy very easily, that’s why you want it to be slightly undercooked or perhaps this is your taste
  3. Drain, rinse and place pasta back into sauce pan or pot
  4. Add olive oil and all spices and marjoram to cooked pasta
  5. Add all veggies except butternut squash
  6. Mix well, but gently so as to not tear apart the spaghetti
  7. Add lemon juice and salt to taste and stir
  8. Keep over a very low heat to warm until the next step is complete
  9. In a bowl, mix together all seeds, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper (lightly coating seeds)
  10. In a dry skillet, over medium heat, add seeds and toast until golden brown (note:  add the sesame seeds toward the end of the toasting process as they will brown much faster than the other seeds)
  11. Serve pasta in bowls and place butternut squash slices on top, then fan out avocado slices and finally sprinkle with seed mixture
  12. Serves:  Approx. 4 people
  13. Enjoy out on the patio, your front steps or in whatever immediate outdoors area you have and I recommend following this meal (15-30 minutes later of course :p) with a kombucha!

splendidspringtimespaghetti5I hope you all enjoy this meal and please let me know your thoughts and experiences welcoming Spring.  And remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy 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!

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! 😀