christmas

serenity now / oat & raisin nut bread

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IMG_1795Now that everyone’s waist deep in the holiday season with “to do” lists longer than Obamacare’s website, I offer a ridiculously simple gluten free bread recipe to curb feelings of insanity. Hooray! This recipe is an adaptation of the Life Changing Loaf from the fabulous blog My New Roots. In addition to this need-to-make-now delicious bread, I suggest you put down your nearly maxed out visa and place those heinous Ugg boots back on the shelf (or back on the sheep’s back) where they belong. Instead of running around the mall like a zombie, chomping down Xanax and drinking so many pumpkin chai latte’s that friends think the cinnamon-nutmeg-clove odor wafting from your pores is actually some exotic perfume purchased from Sephora, take a moment to enjoy this beautiful time of year. The holidays should celebrate our love- for family, for each other, and for the festivities that make this time of year so special, not the wrapped boxes of stuff we give to one another. I’m talking about a plump, pine scented tree, bad Christmas music, tiny white lights, Elf, ugly sweaters, and lots of family madness. Oh yeah, and a table strewn with plate-licking vegan deliciousness atop a set of Spode Christmas dinnerware. Yes, please!

DSC_0018Oat & Raisin Nut Bread 

1 1/2 cups rolled oats

1 cup raw sunflower seeds

1/2 cup raw pecans, crumbled by hand

1/2 cup fruit juice sweetened raisins

2 tablespoons coarsely ground flaxseed

2 tablespoons chia seed

3 tablespoons whole psyllium husk powder

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon maple syrup

3 tablespoons refined coconut oil, gently melted

1 1/2 cups waterIMG_1798

Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Melt coconut oil in a small saucepan, and pour into another bowl with water and maple syrup. Mix wet mixture with dry and stir with a wooden spoon until ingredients are well distributed. Scrape mixture into a lightly oiled, silicone loaf pan (you can use a regular loaf pan, but it won’t be as easy to remove the loaf). Allow bread to sit out at room temperature for 2 hours. Preheat oven to 350. Bake loaf for 30 minutes, then remove from oven and carefully flip onto a baking sheet. Remove pan and place loaf back into the oven for another 30 minutes. That’s it! Now transfer to a cooling rack or tray and try to wait for the loaf to cool before slicing. This bread is amazing when toasted! Try topping with cashew cheese and roasted beets, or just slather on some earth balance and congratulate yourself on being a genius in the kitchen. Makes one loaf, or enough to feed a small herd of reindeer impersonating unicorns before they hijack santa’s sleigh.

an alien named Santa

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8:31 am. A man with a hammer begins to hit nails into the side of my apartment. Naturally, I remain calm and go outside to see why the $%&*#^@ he’s doing that at 8:31 in the morning. Yes, I know it’s monday and most people are already at their junior investment banker jobs, but some people (namely, the unemployed and chefs) have mondays off.
8:35 am. I am standing in the driveway with my slippers on (moose rowing in canoes, stolen from my brother-in-law), trying to generate the most disgruntled expression I possibly can, when something amazing happens…
A spaceship lands in the grass below my porch. Yup, right in the area where Toast likes to take her morning dumps. I turn to the hammer man, but he’s already run away. I consider doing the same, but the spaceship isn’t very big and besides, three of my unicorn friends spent the night and I know they will fight to the death. No big deal.
Moments later, a door opens with that star wars-ish breaking of a seal sound, smoke billows out of the capsule, and a small alien walks out. He’s green, of course, and has those tube-like antenna jutting out of the top of his head (it’s amazing how right we’ve been about describing what aliens look like). He has a bit of a gut (too much freeze-dried ice cream? I wonder with a chuckle), and he’s holding a pile of what looks like mail, wrapped in twine. He looks down at my slippers curiously.
“They’re not mine, I swear.”
“Reindeer?”
“What? Oh, the slippers- no those are moose.”
“What are moose?”
“Similar to a reindeer, but…” What the hell is the difference? I ask myself. Nothing comes to mind except an obvious cliche. “Reindeer pull Santa’s sleigh and moose don’t.” (I can’t believe I just said that to an alien).
“Santa has a sleigh?”
“Er…yea,” I reply, bewildered that he understands me, “how do you know who Santa is?”
“I keep getting all of his mail.”
I make a what-the-hell-are-you-talking-about expression. He understands that, too.
“The problem is, my name is Santa too, so I get a lot of his mail every year- always during December, which is kind of bizarre, you know? And I’m not going to lie, I have read a few of the letters.”
“And?”
“And they’re also totally bizarre…A bunch of poorly scribbled notes asking for strange things for something called christmas.”
A pause.
“What the hell is christmas?” the alien asked.
A flurry of images run through my head: a fat, bearded white guy in a red suit, women wearing ornament bauble earrings, pine trees on rooftops of cars, miniature nativity scenes with hay, wise men, and baby J, eggnog, presents, and really really bad music.
“Um, it’s kind of hard to explain,” I reply nervously.
“It can’t be as hard as me trying to explain this to my family.” He gestures to the pack of letters.
“Ok, well, it’s a holiday that we celebrate on the 25th of December.”
“What are you celebrating?”
“Technically, the birth of Jesus Christ.”
“Who’s Jesus? Is that Santa?”
“No, Santa is the guy who delivers all the presents in his sleigh with reindeer who can fly.”
Another pause.
“So Santa works for Jesus?”
“No, not really.”
“Does he give presents to everyone?”
“Only those who have been nice.”
“As opposed to what?”
“Naughty.” (I can’t believe I just said that).
Santa the alien looks at my moose slippers again. “Who’s Jesus?”
“You know what reindeer are, but you’ve never heard of Jesus?”
“All of my information on your planet comes from these weird letters addressed to Santa.”
“Some people believe that he is the savior of the world, the son of God, the Christ in CHRISTmas, and they worship him.”
“Where does he live?”
“We killed him a long time ago, but he’s not really human, so many believe that he’s just living somewhere else, waiting for the right time to return as our savior.”
“Does he live with Santa? Are they close friends?”
“No, I don’t think so.”
“What’s with all of the pine trees getting chopped down and decorated?”
“That’s where Santa puts all of the presents.”
“Oh. Does Jesus have a tree with presents under it?”
“No, he’s not into that.”
“But the holiday is named after him, right?”
“Yea, but Santa has kind of taken over.”
“What an asshole.”
“No, he’s a pretty good guy.”
“He’s a fat slob and he’s taken over Jesus’s birthday party. Not to mention I have to deal with his mail.”
“Yea, sorry about that.”
“You earthlings are strange.”
He’s staring at my slippers again.