gluten free

concerning the voicemail / minty pea soup with cashew cream

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DSC_0038I’m pretty sure that the voicemail is nearing extinction, however, as an 80’s child and former owner of a Star-TAC flip phone (those are still awesome), I have enjoyed the progression of the voicemail personality. My first message went along the lines of “Hey! You’ve reached Jenny’s phone, leave a message and I’ll call you back, thanks…bye!”  Translation: I just got a phone, I like boys, messages are cool, yay!

When I was college bound, it morphed into “Hey, this is Jenny, leave a message.” Translation: I smoke cigarettes and am too important to talk to you. So important in fact, that once I graduated from college I found myself folding Life is Good tee-shirts and developing anxiety. Solution? I changed my message to…oh no, wait– I moved to Hawaii. And they don’t have phones there. See my travels in semi-employment here. No, seriously, I think the next time my message changed was when I heard some of my productive girlfriend’s voicemails. You know, the ones with real jobs and briefcases and lady suits. Their voicemails sound like you have actually reached a company. “Hello, you have reached the voicemail of _____, I am unavailable to take your call at this time, but if you leave your name, number, and a brief message I will get back to you as soon as possible. Have a great day.” Translation: I have a job, and I kind of hate it, but this message will make you wonder if I’m filthy rich and important. And I did wonder…and I did get nervous. So I updated mine to a milder version and tried my best to sound friendly and upbeat instead of my usual, monotone man voice. Translation: I sound like Johnny Cash. Lately, however, I’ve noticed a trend towards the mysterious Siri-type computerized “You have reached 000-000-0000, at the tone, please record your voice message”. Translation: you’re basically the Dos Equis beer guy and you don’t need to have something as archaic as a voicemail message (or you’re just a lazy cow). Hmm, I may have to do that next…

Now that you’ve re-recorded your voicemail fifty times and are so terrified of your own voice that you wonder how anyone can like you, why not make some minty pea soup with cashew cream? Peas are in season for 3 seconds so if you can’t find fresh english peas (which are incredible), you can easily substitute frozen peas. On a side note, if you are native to Beantown and raising a little organic baby, you can use Lovage BabyBlends’ Minty Peas in this soup as an alternative to buying peas and mint. The recipe for that can be found soon on Lovage BabyBlend’s website. Check it out!

DSC_0039Minty Pea Soup with Cashew Cream

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 yellow onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 ½ cups stock

About 2 cups of freshly shelled english peas OR 1 bag of frozen peas

Handful of fresh mint

Pinch of sea salt & freshly cracked black pepper

¼ cup cashew crème

DSC_0048In a saucepan, heat oil over a medium flame and add onions and garlic. Saute for 5 minutes, until onions are soft and translucent, but not browning. Add stock and bring to a gentle boil. Add peas, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add sea salt and pepper. Stir in mint and cook for another minute or so. Turn off flame and leave on stovetop. In a high speed blender, puree ½ cup raw cashews and ½ cup filtered water on high until it resembles a thick heavy cream (you only need half of the cream, but your blender won’t be happy with less. Translation: it will probably smoke and smell like burning rubber). Save the other half of the cream for a topping on fresh fruit or stirred into granola or other soup dishes). Pour some of the cream into a bowl, leaving about half in the blender. Now add your pea soup, and briefly puree until smooth. To serve, ladle into bowls and top with a swirl of cashew cream. Makes enough for 2-4 unicorns who still can’t figure out their voicemail passwords. DSC_0053

what you actually need in your kitchen / rawesome sour cream

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DSC_0032When I see dust-laden piles of paper on a desk, random crap pushed into dark corners, or tchotchkes lining a window sill, a feverish desire overcomes me. My pupils dilate, my heart whooshes blood into my eager hands, and I try my best to suppress the urge to tear through it all. Because this typically occurs in other people’s homes…and you can’t just reorganize someone else’s stuff. That would be weird. In my own space, however, I can sort and clean until I fall into a heap on the couch after deciding what to do with my old textbooks. And I can donate knick knacks with maniacal glee. Translation: miniature statues of animals, crocheted pillows with written sentiments, headlamps (really…), stationary with my name etched across in whimsical floral-accented cursive, geodes and other earthen matter, ill fitting too small clothing, key chains or lanyards, and scrub brushes painted to resemble creepy clown-faced women. I do have my fair share of bric-a-brac (aka unicorns of various shapes and sizes, perhaps a wooden cat, and yes, a faery with wire wings), but I arrange these items with an eye for minimalism, and the same holds true for my kitchen…

When you get married, you are allowed to sign up for a registry, and with this right bubbles up an insane need for useless items…because you can, and because your mother said “every wife should have one of these _____(enter unnecessary item here). Translation: a molcajete (because a regular old mixing bowl just ain’t good enough), overpriced formal china (for all those 12 person dinner parties that you never have), silver flatware (because the advent of no need to polish stainless steel is an insult to grandmothers everywhere), 12 piece knife block set (because you need 12 different knives to chop an onion), a tortilla warmer (just.stop.now.), a slate cheese board (negative. and you should stop eating cheese anyway), and a rooster shaped timer (this is also a tchotchke).

So, to help brides and grooms to be with their kitchen registries, and in fact, to anyone wanting advice on what to put in their kitchen, I have compiled a list of necessary items here.

Now that you’re armed with the tools to make you a kick-ass vegan chef, why not wow your friends with rawesome sour cream? Serve with chips and salsa for a Mexican-inspired taste explosion without the nasty dairy.

DSC_0034Rawesome Sour Cream 

1 cup raw cashews, soaked for an hour or overnight

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon onion powder

1-2 shakes of garlic powder

Large pinch of sea salt

Enough fresh water to facilitate blending (less than 1/4 cup)

Drain soaked cashews and rinse with cold water. Add them to your blender along with all of the other ingredients. Start on low variable speed and increase to high, pureeing until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Chill in refrigerator before eating. Serve with chips (I highly recommend these) or add to tacos, burritos, or anything else calling for sour cream. Makes enough for 4 unicorns celebrating cinco de mayo with their molcajete and tortilla warmer. DSC_0031

shaving for spring / rawesome lemon bars

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DSC_0337Ah, spring. The time of year when the earth thaws, becomes a mud-luscious wonderland, and bursts with an infinitely varied and beautiful bounty of flowers and food. Oh, yeah…and I have to shave my legs again. Shaving is an odd sort of thing to do. I’ve spent hours debating with fellow earthlings the absurdities of razoring off thousands of little hairs every day for the sake of being feminine or accepted or female or whatever. Newsflash to the male population: women have hair…LIKE ALL OVER THEIR BODY. Crazy, right? We aren’t hairless chihuahuas with pink nails and floral aromas wafting from every orifice like you may have previously believed. The whole advent of shaving was more to do with preventing the spread of disease than aesthetics. But now that we all bathe like crazy and spray the earth with poisons, we are more likely to contract a form of cancer than an infestation of lice. I’m not saying that I never shave, but I don’t like it. Not one bit. And I think we should start a revolution and all be furry beasts together. Amen.

So instead of shaving your legs today, why not use that extra ten minutes to whip up this lovely recipe for rawesome lemon bars? Bursting with lemony goodness and a creamy filling that tastes downright sinful, you will be happy to indulge in this treat while wearing a very long skirt. Hippie.

DSC_0332Rawesome Lemon Bars

For the crust:

1 1/2 cups almond flour

1/4 cup melted refined coconut oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon coconut nectar

Large pinch of sea salt

For the filling:

1 1/4 cups raw pine nuts, soaked for at least an hour but preferably several

1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk

1/3-1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup coconut nectar

1/4 cup refined coconut oil

1 tablespoon lemon zest

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

DSC_0345Gently toast almonds or almond flour in a dry skillet over a low flame until fragrant. Combine crust ingredients in a mixing bowl, then press into square cake pan or pan of choosing. Add the filling ingredients to a high speed blender and puree on high until smooth and whipped. Chill filling in the fridge for 30 minutes, then pour into square pan. Top with more zest, then cover and place in fridge. Tastes best when allowed to chill for an hour or so. Makes enough for 8 unicorns with shaving nicks down their legs.

Toast is loving this dreamy lemon bar
Toast is loving this dreamy lemon bar

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babies! / baby spinach salad with creamy cashew dill dressing

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DSC_0227Now I will talk about something that I have no business talking about: babies! The reason I don’t? Well, I don’t have a child myself, nor am I expecting one, but they’re an ever increasing familiarity in my life these days. At first, I’ll admit, babies used to scare me. Translation: they are impossibly small, warm, and they smell differently, not to mention they are mostly hairless and may cry out, poop or cry at any given moment; none of which I am equipped to prevent or stop. How is that not terrifying? But lately I have been channeling my inner, mature adult self, urging her to claim bravery in the face of the small human child. I am even brave enough to say that I want my own little hairless being, but it still makes me uneasy to even utter the words. Why? I have no idea, considering that, let’s be honest, our only real purpose on this little planet is to reproduce and secure our continuing existence and domination over other beings, especially furry ones. In fact, when I begin to mull this over I can’t believe how separated we have become from our instinctual natures and basic needs and wants. But don’t worry, I’m not going to get all philosophical on you because all you really want to know is how to make this kick ass recipe for spinach salad with creamy dressing, right?

But before I do, I need to clarify why the word “baby” even popped into my head. A brilliant and talented friend of mine recently started a farm-to-table style gourmet baby food company in Boston called Lovage (that’s an herb if you didn’t know). Her yummy blends are artfully simple and packed full of the natural brilliance of vegetables and fruits – no alterations required to be nutritional powerhouses for your small furless one. If you live in Boston or the Boston area, be sure to check out her company! Feed your baby locally sourced and locally made fresh food! Hooray! You will also find my recipe for spinach and pear salad with cashew dill dressing on her monthly newsletter, along with everything to do with preparing for and raising an eco baby, just the way mother nature intended.

DSC_0233Baby Spinach Salad with Creamy Cashew Dill Dressing

For the salad:

5 handfuls of baby spinach

3 radishes, ends removed & chopped

1 avocado, pitted & chopped

1 pear, cored & sliced

1 handful of raw walnuts, toasted

Freshly cracked black pepper & sea salt to taste

For the dressing:

1 cup raw cashews, preferably soaked overnight or for at least an hour

½ cup water

Juice of ½ lemon

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

¼ cup cold pressed extra virgin olive oil

1 T raw coconut nectar or unrefined sweetener of choice

1 small clove of peeled garlic

2 tsp onion powder

1 small handful of fresh dill

Large pinch of sea salt

Drain and rinse soaked cashews under cold water. In a high speed blender, add all dressing ingredients. Puree on high until velvety smooth. To toast walnuts, crumble them in your hand and toss in a dry skillet over a low flame. Cook until fragrant and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with sea salt and set aside. To assemble dish, toss salad ingredients with dressing and top with toasted walnuts. Makes enough salad for 2-4 furry unicorn babes.

Tip: use extra dressing as a dip for crudité or as a delicious spread on toasted bread and sandwiches!DSC_0223

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seaweed issues / mango avocado rolls

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DSC_0324So I’m not really a fan of seaweed. Translation: I think it tastes and smells like a dead fish. But it’s annoyingly good for you and whenever I tell people that I don’t like it they look at me with shock as if because I’m vegan and advocate for a whole foods plant based diet without refined flours and sweeteners…blah blah blah…that I must be a seaweed lover. Nope, not a chance. And generally speaking, if something doesn’t taste good, I don’t care how amazing it is for you, I’m not going to eat it. I believe that if a food tastes unappetizing, your body is trying to tell you something…and you should always listen to your body.

However, that being said, I don’t mind a little seaweed if it’s really fresh, like I-just-rolled-this-sushi-in-the-last-60-seconds fresh. And believe me, you don’t have to be from Japan to roll sushi. I am far from gifted at food artistry and let me tell you, I can roll me some good looking sushi. Note to the ignorant: sushi doesn’t = raw fish, in the same way that gluten free doesn’t = vegan. Just sayin’…

On a side note, there is a spectacular vegan restaurant called The Ravens in Mendocino California (residing within the walls of the awe-inspiring eco-lodge Stanford Inn By The Sea) that harvests its own sea palm. With this strange looking palm tree wannabe seaweed, the masterful chefs at Ravens make the most amazing entree called sea palm strudel. And I love it. It’s stuffed full of seaweed and I love it. I can’t explain why, but perhaps it’s due to the freshness of this locally harvested gem. So I suppose I should amend my first statement: I kind of like seaweed (a little), but it has to be farm-to-table style seaweed…or more appropriately, ocean-to-table.

DSC_0314Mango Avocado Rolls

4 sheets nori seaweed

1 cup short grain brown rice + 2 cups water + 1 tablespoon brown rice vinegar

1 avocado, pitted and sliced

1 carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks

1 mango, hedgehogged

2 scallions, sliced thin

1/2 cucumber, cut into matchsticks

for the dipping sauce, mix together the following:

1/4 cup tamari

1 tsp grated fresh ginger

Splash of mirin

Optional toppings: wasabi (you can buy horseradish powder and add water to make wasabi) & pickled ginger

In a small saucepan, add rice and water and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce flame to a simmer, and cook for 40 minutes, or until rice is fully cooked. Pour cooked rice into a bowl or half sheet pan and toss with the brown rice vinegar. Set aside while you prep the veggies and fruit. To roll, place a nori sheet, shiny side down, on a clean table. Lay brown rice over top 1/3 of sheet (dip your fingers in warm water to keep rice from sticking to your fingers). Now add the filling ingredients over the rice in a tight pile. Roll the sheet away from you, taking time to tighten the roll as you continue. When you’ve reached the end of the sheet, dab it with a little warm water and seal by gently rolling back and forth. Use a sharp serrated knife to cut sushi into six to eight rolls per sheet. Repeat until you’ve run out of ingredients. To serve, pour tamari dipping sauce into a shallow dish and use chopsticks (or your fingers!) to dip rolls. Top with wasabi and pickled ginger, if desired. Makes enough for 2-4 Japanese-wannabe unicorns.

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