As I reached the summit of a mountain in New Hampshire this summer I found a batch of berries. I sat next to them, pulled out my journal, and started writing....
It is a beautiful and perfect summer day. The blazing sun shines down upon my body warming me like a mother tightly holding her child. A gentle breeze passes by tousling my hair and whispering into my ears a lovely song. In front of my eyes is a gnarly patch of berries seducing me with their wild yet grounded demeanor. I give in and fall under their spell. The plump and juicy berries stain my fingers as I zealously pluck them from the comforts of their home. Their tart taste dances upon my lips making me feel alive. My senses are overwhelmed and my soul is filled with joy. Ahhh, the simple pleasures of life.
This moment reminded me that...
Food is life. Food is nurturing. Food is peace. Food is joy. Food is love. Food is forgiving. Food is excitement. Food is family. Food is art. Food is fuel. Food is comfort. Food is enjoyment. Food is soul.
What is food to you? And how often do you take time to remember how glorious and blessed you are to be able to appreciate the beauty and bounty of food?
I hope every single day.
Love food. Love life. Love YOU.
Today I went to visit a friend who has a bright green thumb! His garden was filled with plump, purple eggplants that were begging to be devoured.
I left his house with three medium size eggplants and hurried home to try out a new recipe. Since I have been surrounding myself lately with people of Middle Eastern culture, I decided upon a Middle Eastern style dinner.
The menu...Baba Ganoush, Fattoush, and toasted pita chips. Baba Ganoush is a paste made primarily of eggplant and tahini (sesame paste), while Fattoush is a light, refreshing salad made with pita bread chunks.
For the Baba Ganoush, I started by warming up the oven and pricking the eggplant. Next I placed the eggplant on a sheet pan and baked them at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes. After they cooled, I cut the tops off, peeled away the skin, and placed the flesh into a food processor and added lots of yummy ingredients. To lessen any bitterness in the eggplant you can add a bit of organic sugar as well.
While the eggplant was baking I toasted the pita chips and began working on the Fattoush. When all was complete, I sat down and enjoyed an aesthetically and physically pleasing meal. And, to top it off, it felt nice knowing that I was enjoying food that was hand grown by my friend.
Between love and pride put in the labor to grow the vegetables to the love and pride put in to the cooking, the meal satiated my body and spirit.
Baba Ganoush - makes about 3 cups
3 medium sized eggplants
1/2 cup tahini
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 clove garlic (or 1/2 garlic scape)
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
2 Tablespoon fresh cilantro
Pre-heat oven, prick eggplants with a fork and place whole on a baking sheet. Bake about 30 - 45 minutes or until tender. Let cool. Cut off tops and skin. Place flesh and the rest of ingredients into a food processor and blend well.
You may adjust salt, lemon juice, and garlic to your preferred tastes. Experiment with spices and herbs. Parsley is a very popular ingredient in Baba Ganoush and can be used instead of cilantro. Or you can also try using mint instead. Garnish with olive oil and serve with toasted pita chips.
Fattoush - makes about 3 servings
1 large pita bread toasted and cut into small chunks
1 tomato, diced
a handful of yellow cherry tomatoes, diced
1/2 cucumber, diced
1/4 red, yellow, or green pepper, diced
2 stalks green onion or chives, sliced
2 leafs of romaine or green leaf lettuce, torn into small pieces
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
Mix above ingredients together and toss with dressing.
Dressing - 1 clove crushed garlic (or 1/2 garlic scape), 2 Tbsp lemon juice, 1/4 cup olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Mix ingredients together, adjust flavors to taste, and drizzle on Fattoush.
Fresh basil....mmm, I just can't get enough of it. Its piquant aroma, vivid green color, and Italian roots puts me under its spell.
Tonight I decided to make a pesto from the basil I picked up at the farm stand the other day and serve it on top of zoodles (raw zucchini noodles). Pesto is incredibly easy to make, but seems so gourmet. I beefed up the gourmet factor by using macadamia nuts and a drizzle of white truffle oil. Yessssss...I love you Pesto!
Pesto - makes 2-3 servings
1 bunch of fresh basil, washed and dried
1 clove garlic (or 1/2 garlic scape)
salt to taste
1/4 cup macadamia nuts
(if not vegan, 1/4 cup vegetarian parmigiano reggiano cheese)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
drizzle of white truffle oil
In a small food processor puree basil, garlic, and a sprinkle of salt. Add macadamia nuts and blend. Add optional cheese, olive oil, and truffle oil and blend until a creamy consistency. Adjust olive oil and salt amounts to taste and texture.
If you are vegan and not using the cheese you could try a tablespoon or more of nutritional yeast to get that cheesy umami to the pesto. Toasted sesame seeds also add some interesting flavor.
Serve over zucchini noodles, warm pasta, roasted veggies, with a hot toasty baguette and fresh tomato, or straight from the bowl. Divine.
Ok I admit it, I have a serious sweet tooth. So when I have a craving for something sweet I sometimes indulge and other times try to find treats that will appease my craving, but nourish rather than diminish my body.
Some obvious nourishing craving appeasers are fresh fruits, dried fruits, or low sugar sorbets. Others that take a little bit more effort include raw vegan desserts like truffles, brownies & cakes.
These are usually made with a combination of nuts, dried fruits, cocoa/carob powder, coconut, spices, and maybe a little sweetener added in. The combinations are endless!
Try out this batch, but experiment with different nuts, spices and dried fruits to see what flavor combos you come up with. Really, you can't go wrong with this because any combo you make most likely will taste awesome. And these sweets are much healthier for your body than the traditional standby of Oreos, cupcakes, ice cream, cookies, etc.
Your taste buds and body thank you.
Chocolate Coconut Cashew Raw Vegan Truffles
3/4 cup raw unsalted cashews
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 T cocoa or carob powder
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups pitted dates
In a food processor fitted with a S-blade, blend all but vanilla and dates until it is a powder. Add in the vanilla with a cup of the dates and process. Add the other cup of dates and process until the mix forms a dough. Add more dates or a tiny bit of water if it is too dry.
Roll into little balls and optionally roll in cocoa powder, chopped nuts, or shredded coconut. This is also delish pressed into a loaf pan to make a "brownie". Optionally top with fresh strawberry or raspberry jam for an added taste boost.
Refrigerate until firm, eat and enjoy. These could last a couple weeks if you don't eat them first.
The gratification one gets from creating a fresh, warm, comforting loaf of bread from scratch is one of indescribable measure.
Amazingly hard working yeasts, fluffy flour, sweet maple syrup, soothing oats, and a little salt of the earth are the basic ingredients in one of the culinary delights of man. Combine these with the raw element of hand mixing, kneading, and rolling the dough, and one feels like a true creator.
Slicing into the bread yields a gentle puff of steam and a whiff of that insanely delicious fresh bread smell. One taste makes your mind stop for a moment to enjoy this simple pleasure of life. Ahhh, and this is the end result of your love, patience, and hard work.
To try your hand at bread baking simply follow the recipe written on the back of a King Arthur bread flour bag, or you can check out their website at http://www.kingarthurflour.com/. They are a great resource for all things baking.
Bread is easy to make. It just takes a little love and patience.
Baking bread from scratch, and I mean no bread makers or Kitchen Aids, is something that everyone should try at least once. The main issues are to make sure your yeast is alive and fresh, that the water you use to dissolve the yeast in is the proper temperature, and that you have patience.
After you mix the ingredients you have to knead the dough by hand for about 10 minutes, or until it becomes as smooth as a baby's bum. Then you let it rest and rise. Next you may have to punch it down and knead it again or simply shape it into a loaf and put it in your bread pan.
Then you let it rest and rise. Once it has risen about two inches over your loaf pan it is ready to bake.
Don't be scared of the dough. Just follow the directions, experiment, release some stress, and most of all have fun!
This blog is an exploration of life, love, adventure and art primarily through the medium of food.