cookbooks worth coveting: a roundup

cookbooks

I own a lot of cookbooks–so much so that before I moved to Los Angeles I had a massive purge because books are HEAVY and expensive to cart across the country. Many of my books were acquired in 2002 when I started making things as a means to occupy my hands. At the time, I was recovering from one of many addictions and I needed to create something from nothing instead of pillaging everything in my wake. My first cookbook was Nigella Lawson’s How to Be a Domestic Goddess, where I learned how to make simple cakes and loaves. My experiences boiled down to a lot of trials, but mostly error, and let’s not talk about the time I used confectioner’s sugar instead of granulated in a cheesecake and say we did. Ina, Martha, Tyler, Giada–as my prowess grew so did my library. For nearly a decade, I identified myself as a baker of towering cakes and flaky pastries until a few years ago when a sickness ravaged my body and I had to gut renovate my diet.

That’s when the exploration really began.

My diet was paleo with grains, gluten-free vegan with meat–essentially, there was a hodgepodge of foods I could eat and a lot I couldn’t. My mainstays–pasta, paninis, muffins, and croissants had to be replaced with almond milk, nut creams, cauliflower and copious amounts of legumes and vegetables. The adjustment was a difficult one, and I purchased many cookbooks that inevitably gathered dust. I had to replace sugar and carbs with good fats and flavor, and it took me a while to regard my new batch of books without skepticism.

After last week’s burning hive assault (and my closing on a new project), I found myself returning to the cookbooks I’d briefly abandoned because over the past six months I’d slowly become addicted to cheese and yogurt and now those foods are verboten. Back to the drawing board, as it were.

Cookbooks these days are REALLY hit or miss. Many are published without the rigor of recipe testing or basic copyediting. Faulty measurements, obscure ingredients, and a bland finale often had me wanting to hurl my books out of the closest open window. Believe me when I say that these books are the BUSINESS.

The Paleo Kitchen: The only reason this fine book wasn’t included in the photo above is because I took the picture at 6:30am and I didn’t realize it wasn’t included until I started writing this post. Let me tell you, Juli Bauer’s book had me changed on the uber-trendy paleo lifestyle simply because the recipes are GOOD. The recipes are pretty easy to make (except for a cinnamon bun recipe that was lackluster), and most of the ingredients are probably in your pantry or easily accessible at your local market. Some of my favorites are the: sundried tomato sweet potato hash, sweet plantain guacamole, sage & shallot soup, pumpkin tomato soup, rosemary sundried tomato meatballs (WHOA), spaghetti squash chicken fritters (my top pick of the lot). I’ve made 70% of the recipes in The Paleo Kitchen and I was so pleased I purchased Bauer’s follow-up book, Paleo Cookbook.

The Oh She Glows Cookbook: After the purge of 2015, I now have about 50 cookbooks, and this one is in the top five. I LOVE THIS BOOK. As a proud carnivore, I’ve given a lot of vegan books the side-eye because I’m not a fan of faux meats or the idea that meat can be recreated, however, Liddon developed the most imaginative, tasty recipes. From her, I learned about using tofu and avocado in smoothies, desserts, and as a substitute for cream. I still think about my creamy avocado basil pesto pasta and faux vodka sauce made with cashew cream (so surprisingly good!). I made crave-worthy veggie burgers and a slew of soups, salads and main courses that won over the most discerning palates.

A Modern Way to Eat // At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen: Perhaps it’s the design of the books or the photography, but I use these two clean-eating tomes interchangeably and often. A Modern Way delivers wholesome, flavorful vegetarian recipes including green fritters (LOVED these), the perfect chili, squash tarts, pizza, hummus a million ways, chickpea and veg stews and some of the tastier desserts I’ve encountered. Judging by the markings in At Home in the Whole Food, I use this book a bit more. This is the book on which I relied to build and outfit a whole food pantry. Grains and legumes are discussed in excruciating detail, and I came away with a great deal of knowledge about the food I was about to consume (as well as the corresponding health benefits). From the simple red lentil soup and blackberry cornmeal muffins to the best cherry coconut granola you’ll ever make–the recipes are filling, complex and delightful. I’m loath to use the word marvelous, but you’ll feel a sense of wonder paging through the book. I’ve made over 50% of the recipes in this book and I’ve yet to encounter a flop.

Cravings: FML with this book. Of course, this book came into my life the very week I had to stop consuming dairy. Many of the recipes contain cheese and you will weep salty dairy tears. I wouldn’t dare say that this book is healthy by any stretch of the imagination, but the recipes are drool-worthy. You will want to make all the food and lick all the plates. I’ve made four dishes out of the book pretty successfully, and I’m trying to devise ways to manipulate the recipes for my palate. I’ve found that nuts + nutritional yeast + seasonings evoke the flavor of spicier cheeses even if I know in my heart that the alternative pales in comparison to the original. I’m having a dinner party this week and I’m making the brussels sprout + kale salads as well as the eggplant baked ziti with mozzarella bombs. I plan on staring at my friends while they feast on fried eggplant and cheese while I toss around dairy-free pesto pasta on my plate. SOB.

Kitchen Stories: My friend Denise Hung, culinary pro and astute coffee connoisseur, is one-half of the genius duo who authored this great book. I met Denise while I was in Singapore last year and it was heart-at-first-sight. The book centers recipes around certain moods and emotional states, and although you’ll have to master the metric system (there exists no U.S. version of this book), the simple and delectable recipes are worth the stretch.

cookbooks

chickpea pancakes with leeks + squash (gluten-free + insanely delicious)

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When I think about diets, resolutions, and Hallmark holidays devoted to spending a day appreciating the ones we love, I think about time. We have twenty-four hours to celebrate the anniversary of a beloved; come February, we’ll lament abandoning the resolution we made so valiantly on the eve of the new year; we’ll white-knuckle and calorie-count until the day we surrender to a box of cookies because it’s Monday and the world owes us.

Diets, resolutions and single-day holidays are all predicated on finite time, on a defined beginning and end. We’ll be abundant with our love today, yet tomorrow we’ll resume our pleasant amiability and tender wheedling because we are the wheedling kind. We’ll compose our list, traits of the kind of people we want to be, but we always end up an inch from where we started and then we regard our skin as something like an ill-fitted costume we grow tired of wearing. We wanted that new body, that new love, that new life, but we retreat back to ourselves, defeated, think, I guess this is all I’ll ever be. We’ll pale down to bone because the world tells us about the dichotomy of maths–the more you disappear, the more you are visible, coveted. And the guilt you feel when you wave the white flag over a cookie, a warm buttered bagel, or a slice of blackout cake, that guilt whispers that you don’t deserve those single-day holidays. You don’t deserve all this love.

I have to tell you that I abhor diets, resolutions and anniversaries. Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, a single day in November on which we’re supposed to be thankful. Rather, why not work to love and live with abundance every day. Instead of creating silly lists, why not absolve to create something new–big or small–every day? In that act of creation is change. Why not do something selfless without the expectation of anything in return. Why not wake each morning and say, out loud, I love you to yourself and your beloveds. Why not arrive at every meal and regard it as nourishment and fuel rather than a war you wage with flatware? How about we forget about calories as that’s an archaic measurement of health and well-being and focus on putting real food on our body? How about we consider how we feel in our body and our heart rather than whether a pair of pants fit. I’ve been a negative integer. Those pants used to always fit and often hang, and I wasn’t healthy. I wasn’t happy. My heart was filled with greed, anger, and want. There could always be more. I could always be less.

I say, fuck diets, fuck resolutions, fuck singular days of economic devotion. Love and live mindfully and abundant every single day of your life. It’s hard to be present. It’s hard to stay the course. But you might wake one day, over the course of your journey, and realize that this deliberate choice you’ve made, being present for the infinite, is the best choice you’ve ever made.

I used to be angry that I couldn’t have gluten or dairy. I used to want to take the easy way out and consume gluten-free versions of all my favorite carbs. But how would I have ever discovered abundance amidst confinement? Would I have ever bothered making these vegetable pancakes when it would’ve been easier to make pesto pasta? Would I have felt a sense of pride over making something healthy and delicious, or continued on with living an uncomfortably comfortable life?

Fuck comfortable. Be present. Eat all the chickpeas.

INGREDIENTS: Recipe from Bon Appetit
6 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 medium leek, white and pale-green parts only, chopped
½ tsp kosher salt, plus more
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup grated peeled squash (such as butternut or kabocha)
1 large egg
¾ cup chickpea flour
¼ tsp baking powder
½ cup plain yogurt (I nixed this as I can’t have dairy)
¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley
Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)

Optional: I served this on a bed for spinach (2 cups per person) + 3 figs divided (per person)

DIRECTIONS
Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet, preferably nonstick, over medium-high. Add leek, season with kosher salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until leek is softened and starting to brown, about 4 minutes. Add squash and season again. Cook, stirring often, until squash is cooked through and softened, about 4 minutes. Transfer vegetables to a plate and let cool. Wipe out skillet and reserve.

Meanwhile, whisk egg, chickpea flour, baking powder, 1 Tbsp. oil, ½ tsp. kosher salt, and ½ cup water in a medium bowl; season with pepper and let sit 5 minutes for flour to hydrate. Stir vegetables into batter just to coat.

Heat 1½ Tbsp. oil in reserved skillet over medium-high. Add batter by the ¼-cupful to make 4 pancakes, gently flattening to about ¼” thick. Batter should spread easily—if it doesn’t, thin with a little water. Cook until bottoms are lightly browned and bubbles form on top, about 4 minutes. Use a spatula to carefully flip pancakes over and cook until browned and cooked through, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer to a plate and tent with a sheet of foil to keep warm. Repeat with another 1½ Tbsp. oil and remaining batter. Serve pancakes topped with yogurt, parsley, sea salt, and pepper.

Do Ahead: Leek and squash can be cooked 2 days ahead; cover and chill. Batter can be made 1 day ahead; cover and chill.

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dairy-free recipes gluten-free savory recipes vegetable recipes

chocolate almond banana acai bowl

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Let’s talk about the Avocado Consumption of 2002. 2002 was the year I discovered the avocado, consumed it at every meal (I practically subsisted on guacamole), and ended up developing an allergy to it. If you’ve been a long-time reader of this space, you’ll know that I have an addictive personality. If I love something, I love it HARD until it becomes something that I hate, something that my body is desperate to reject. When I think about it, I’ve always been this way. When I love something so much I have to undress it, dig deep and burrow myself all the way in there. I have to know something until it’s completely familiar, until there’s nothing else to know.

Moderation is a joke, because I tend to skirt the extremes. But I’m trying. Hence, the nutritionist I’m seeing this week. But I digress.

I recently discovered the acai bowl. Believe me when I say that the feeling I had for my first bowl was like church. Light streaming in through the glass, cold pews, crisp paper–all that jazz. In short, I’m returning to the Avocado Consumption era. Luckily, I think I’ve hit a wall after having realized that I can’t LIVE ON ACAI. Naturally, this happened after two days of eating nothing but acai smoothies and bowls. Sound familiar?

Anyway, I love this bowl. Don’t be deceived by the look of this recipe because it’s not saccharine sweet. While the dates and banana lend some tenderness, the cacao is a bit bitter and the acai fruit isn’t your quintessential raspberry, which is to say that this bowl has wonderful balance. Not only is it insanely healthy, but you will be sated for HOURS.

HOURS, PEOPLE. Let that sink in.

Know that I’ve got a few more acai recipes cooking, so this won’t be the last of my beloved bowl.

INGREDIENTS
1 large banana
2 Sambazon‘s Immunity Smoothie Acai packs (New Yorkers, this is on Fresh Direct)
2 tsp coconut oil
1/2 cup rice milk (coconut/almond milk will do just fine here, as well)
1 tbsp cacao
2 dates
1 tbsp almond butter
1 tsp unsweetened coconut flakes
1/3 cup your favorite granola
1/2 cup fresh blueberries

DIRECTIONS
Blitz all the ingredients (from the banana to almond butter) in a high-powered blender/Vitamix, with the banana being at the bottom as a buffer for your blades, until smooth. Pour into a bowl and add the coconut flakes, granola + blueberries on top. Dive in with a spoon and weep.

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pancake + breakfast recipes savory recipes sweet recipes

pumpkin, marjoram + ricotta risotto with pumpkin seeds

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You should know that this risotto was a triumph on many levels. Initially, I wanted to tackle a risotto where quinoa was the star, however, after a long discussion with a friend, who probably can prattle on about food just as long as I could, she reminded me that we often try to make quinoa the replacement for pasta and rice, when it should be celebrated on its own merit. Yes, we do spend time talking about grains in excruciating detail. Don’t even get me started on our involved discussion regarding free-form crusts — it’ll bore you to tears.

While it’s true that I’ve made many risottos, the lemon flavor that the marjoram brings, as well as the creaminess of the fresh ricotta, delivered a dish that was far superior than what I’ve made before. Make no mistake, you will eat this standing up, leaning over the stove, ladling large spoonfuls of creamy, steamed rice in your mouth.

Don’t you dare apologize.

The second triumph came in the form of photography. Long-time readers of this space know that I’ve made investments over the years in equipment and self-taught tutorials — all in an effort to show you the beauty I see in a dish (its textures, aromatics, composition), as if part of my heart could be imbued onto a photograph, which would serve to connect me to you. I’m a minimalist when it comes to taking photos of food, as I fervently believe that what’s on the plate is always the star of the show. I care less about scenery and people and the like, and only go in for moderate styling — nothing that would interrupt the headlining act.

So, after fiddling with whiteboards, bounced light and napkins, I finally captured photos of the dish that not only required little editing (the beauty of natural light!), but was the complete and utter visual evocation of how I feel about this dish.

From me, to you.

INGREDIENTS
1 qt (2 pints) low-sodium, organic/local chicken stock (or you can use vegetable)*
1 shallot, finely diced
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp chopped fresh marjoram
1 cup of arborio rice
4 tbsp of pumpkin puree
2 tbsp fresh ricotta cheese
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
1/4 tsp sea salt; 1/4 tsp pepper
*1 quart is the equivalent of 32oz or 2 lbs

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DIRECTIONS
In a large sauce pot, bring the stock to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Keep this pot next to our sauté pan, as you’ll need to continuously ladle from the stock to the skillet, so proximity is key.

In a large sauté pan (translation: a skillet that can hold 3-4 quarts), sauté the shallots and salt on medium heat until translucent (1-2 minutes). Add in the marjoram and stir for another 30 seconds. Pour in the rice and cook until the rice is translucent and browns slightly, approximately 1-2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low. You do not want burned onions or rice, so if this starts to happen ladle in liquid immediately. Do you want to sob over burnt risotto? My guess is NO WAY, NO DAY.

Add the stock, 1/2 cup at a time, and stir, and stir, and stir, until all of the liquid is absorbed. Keep ladling in the liquid in increments until all of the water is absorbed and the stock is thick and creamy. Remember, risotto isn’t a dish that will cook itself, it requires dedication, so be prepared to stand in front of the stove stirring for 20-30 minutes. I’ve been blasting Radiohead in these sorts of parallel parking scenarios.

In a small skillet, brown the seeds until fragrant and toasted (1-2 minutes).

Once all of the water has been absorbed, stir in the pumpkin, and pepper until the risotto transforms into a satiny orange. Mix in the ricotta. Stir for a good minute and serve hot.

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pasta recipes savory recipes

edamame + corn quinoa salad + a trip to ps1

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The scariest moment is always just before you start. –Stephen King

Yesterday was a photograph worth shredding. A day worth tearing to pieces and setting the scraps of paper aflame. Right now I’m writing this from a friend’s apartment, surrounded by her beautiful zoo of cats and dogs, creating some distance from it all. A few weeks ago, someone regarded me with interest, said, I don’t know what to think of you. I can’t put you in a box. I want to put you in a box, because it’s easier that way, but I can’t. At the time, I laughed when the person said this, felt proud that I couldn’t fit neatly anywhere, but as time passes, this notion that I will never be simple, be easy, starts to fill me with dread. And I think that’s what I keep evading — the fact that I consistently deviate toward a box in which I’ll never fit. Invariably, I’ll squeeze and adjust and won’t breath for a bit, and as soon as I find myself lodged halfway in, it’s only then that I’ll panic, want to climb out and run as fast as my legs will take me. It’s only then that I regard the box as a coffin, trying to pull me under, under.

I’ve always been a difficult woman.

Finding my next leap has been an exhausting process. I’ve met with many companies that are settled when I crave the unsettling, while many others talk a good game about an open culture, use all the buzz words so acutely, but then they ignore the cowering girl at reception, they whisper that they envy me my trip to Europe because, they too, want to get out. To run. After a dozen of these instances, I start to feel as if the days repeat themselves with minor variation. Photocopies of boxes stacked up neatly in open workspaces. People sporting headphones, music blasting, miming sleep. Phones that never ring because the idea of a voice is irksome when we can email our passive aggressive state. People who moan about Monday and Sundays much like how one would regard an apocalypse. The week has been reduced to five days where only coffee and Spotify will save.

I’m difficult because I want none of this. I don’t want to be complacent, to punch a series of memorized numbers that will grant me trespass to a place that I will inevitably grow to hate. I don’t want to befriend Seamless. I don’t want to spend every day inching my way toward the dying, the final box and its heavy lid and the earth that will usher us back from where it is that we’ve come.

I’m difficult because I refuse to except anything less than extraordinary in a market that’s below ordinary, at an experience level where people feel as if they can get mediocrity and inexperience on the cheap instead of making the investment, instead of thinking about the long haul. I’m difficult because I want all my children — my food, writing, friends and business work — to have equal time in the proverbial playing field, rather than reduced to a changeling, some strange, ugly thing relegated to dark corners and hidden under blankets.

I wonder if what I want actually exists, and this is the thought that keeps me up most nights, bleeding into day.

Every day I try my hardest to remain focused and positive. I fixate on creating. I try to spend time in the company of others, desperate to turn the beat around. But I’m scared of being crippled by real financial obligations (student loans, debt) to escape the ordinary.

Yesterday, paralyzed, I spent the day with art and food. Here’s hoping that I’m soon able to walk, leap, run.

INGREDIENTS: Edamame + Corn Quinoa Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette
For the salad
1 lb frozen corn (fresh, shucked corn will also do)
1 lb frozen edamame (fresh will also work)
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 tbsp chopped fresh sage
Salt/pepper to taste

For the dressing
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp white (or red) wine vinegar
1 tsp ground mustard
Salt/pepper to taste
–Whisk all together to make a delicious vinaigrette

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DIRECTIONS
I know what you must be thinking — there’s a lot of contrasting flavors here, but somehow they work. Somehow, they’re harmonious and coalesce. Trust me on this. However, if you are the mistrustful sort, you can always dress this in a simple olive oil (3 tbsp) with the existing flavorings, and the salad is equally divine.

In a medium pot, boil 2 cups of water and the pre-rinsed quinoa. Once the mixture is boiling, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes. Once the quinoa is done, fluff with a fork and set aside to cool slightly.

In a large pot, cook the frozen corn and edamame (if using fresh, just shock for a minute in the hot water) on hight heat for 5-7 minutes. When done, drain and set aside.

In a large skillet, add 2 tbsp olive oil, sage, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper. Stir for 30 seconds, and then tumble in the corn and edamame. Cook, stirring frequently, for 4-5 minutes.

In a large bowl, add the cooked veggie mixture to the quinoa. Toss gently with a spoon. Add the carrots and stir. If you’re rocking the vinaigrette, dress the salad with it, otherwise, feel free to indulge in olive oil to keep the mixture fragrant and delicious.

Serve lukewarm or cold.

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journey to buff salad recipes savory recipes

watermelon, blueberry + basil quinoa salad + a red awakening

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Always the setting forth was the same, Same sea, same dangers waiting for him, As though he had got nowhere but older. Behind him on the receding shore, The identical reproaches, and somewhere, Out before him, the unraveling patience, He was wedded to. There were the islands, Each with its woman and twining welcome, To be navigated, and one to call “home.” The knowledge of all that he had betrayed, Grew till it was the same where he stayed, Or went. Therefore he went. And what wonder, If sometimes he could not remember, Which was the one who wished on his departure, Perils that he could never sail through, And which, improbable remote, and true, Was the one he kept sailing home to? — “Odysseus” by W.S. Merwin

Today I woke thinking of red. It’s strange, I know, but I’ve always been prone to dreaming in shape and color. Fields of blistering poppies, Stop signs, scarlet paint thrown onto a canvas, a thumping rabbit’s heart covered in leaves, and a sanguine river gushing out of the very elegant elevator doors in The Shining — I saw all of this as I woke. It was a tableaux of rich color — reds faded to the orange and browns of daguerreotype, and hues so bright they threatened to scald.

On my way to the laundry, I noticed these abandoned shoes. And then I read this: I realised that I was staring at a fork in life — a choice between the somewhat Known and the completely Unknown. That was really what it came down to. The rational brain wanted to choose the former. And a seemingly irrational voice wanted the latter.

Perhaps this color assault was meant to awaken, to jolt oneself out of bed, to snap into life, get into the frame as it were. Red is symbolically interpreted as intense passion, love, energy, life (and arguably, the fear of losing it). Red has the power to pause, to cease, to make one surrender. A heart beating under skin. A valiant man in uniform running into a towering inferno. But red could also signify courage, longing, determination — a will that will not bend, a force that will not be broken.

I thought about this today for it’s the first day in weeks that I’ve enjoyed uninterrupted sleep. I didn’t wake to a random sound, my cat’s restless breathing, or my own thoughts racing. I felt awake.

I also realize that I’m on the verge. Sort of like Odysseus watching all that he’s left behind, moving toward something unchartered and unknown. I think about taking great risks, making leaps, packing bags, being nomadic, embarking on the newness of something, and it’s all very thrilling.

In celebration of this red awakening, I’ve embarked on a minor challenge: finding a myriad of ways to fix quinoa. I’ve found books, blogs, and combinations that are exciting, and I’ll be sharing them all with you this week. So sit tight, soak your quinoa and think about the ways in which you can breathe life into a body that maybe once you thought was ready for the pasture.

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INGREDIENTS: Recipe inspired by Quinoa Revolution, but beyond the watermelon + quinoa, this recipe is all mine.
1/2 cup red quinoa, rinsed under cold water
1 cup water
2 cups cubed watermelon
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, packed in olive oil
1 tbsp of the sundried tomato olive oil (or regular olive oil is fine, too)
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
3 tbsp blanched, slivered almonds, lightly toasted in a dry pan for 1-2 minutes
1/4 cup gruyere, cut into small cubes (the salad is divine without cheese, so don’t freak if you can’t have dairy. Or, you can opt to use feta)
Salt/pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS
After you’ve rinsed the quinoa, add it, along with the cup of water to a medium pot. Bring the water to a boil, and then simmer, covered for 15 minutes. When done, fluff with a fork and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, toss the watermelon, blueberries, sundried tomatoes, basil, almonds and gruyere. Add the cooled quinoa, oil, salt + pepper to taste. Serve lukewarm or chilled.

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journey to buff salad recipes savory recipes sweet recipes

vegan carrot ginger soup

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There was a moment of immense sadness last week. Days where I collapsed onto my couch, and the only thing I could stomach was cereal. A friend had to come over with a bag of groceries and a pot of quinoa salad to sustain me, and I nearly fell into her arms, grateful, heartbroken. All because I can’t imagine a life without my Sophie. The cat who has always been my constant, who saw me through me getting my life together, who tussled with me on the carpet and lunged for my hand with my paw when she was frightened.

The prognosis is severe. The ultrasound discovered a benign growth adjacent to heart, which is large enough to engulf it. She also has a hyperactive thyroid, kidney stones — all of which aren’t the root cause of her severe lost, but certainly don’t help her comfort. What’s telling is the fact that her stomach and intestines are extremely dilated, unnaturally so. Essentially, they’re not functioning the way that they should, not absorbing nutrients, eating her from the inside out. Sophie may have cancer, but she’s too frail for an endoscopy or for a biopsy (more conclusive in detecting cancer, but not completely conclusive).

So I have her on the Cadillac of expensive medication. Twice daily I give her medicine she hates. She writhes when I hold her down, and I weep and weep, and tell her that I’m trying everything I can to make her better. Because she needs to get better. Every day I pray for a miracle that the drugs will work, make her stronger. Pray that I don’t have to put her down in 10 days time.

So until then, I busy myself. I bake cookies, make soups, consult at brilliant agencies and companies who want me to breathe life into their brands. I write recipe reviews, I see friends, I do yoga, I read. I try to live my life as quietly and rich as I can. I try to breathe some of my energy into her. So that I can fill her up with it. So that she can come back to me again.

Thank you all for your amazing comments. It’s been so hard for me to respond as I’m still sorting through all of this, but please know I’m reading them and giving you a mighty PAW PUMP.

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INGREDIENTS: Recipe adapted from Joanne Chang’s Flour, Too. Read my review of her cookbook on Medium!
2lb/910g carrots, peeled and cut crosswise into 1inch/2.5cm chunks
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
3 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 medium onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 medium fennel bulb, eliminate the leafy greens and thinly slice the bulb
3 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
2inch/-5-cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
6 cups/1.4L vegetable stock (low-sodium)
1 small Granny Smith or other tart apple, peeled, halved, cored and diced
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

DIRECTIONS
Pre-heat the oven 400F/200C, and place a rack at the bottom of the oven.

Spread the carrots on a baking sheet lined in tin foil. Drizzle them with 2 tbsp of the olive oil and sprinkle them with thyme, 1 tsp of the salt and 1/4 tsp of the pepper. Roast the carrots for 35-45 minutes, or until tender. Roasting tends to bring out the natural sweetness of carrots, which adds such a lovely depth of flavor to the soup. Once done, set aside.

In a large pot (I use my dutch oven), heat the remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium/high heat. Add the onion, celery, fennel and garlic, and reduce the heat to medium, stirring often with a wooden spoon for 6-8 minutes. You want everything to soften and for the onions to be translucent. Stir in the ginger, add the roasted carrots and stock, and bring to a boil. Add in the chopped apple and simmer for about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.

I have an immersion blender, which is the greatest invention known to mankind, so I’m able to cream this all up in a single pot. However, if you don’t have an immersion blender, breathe it out. Transfer batches of the soup to a blender and blitz away until creamy. Then grate in some fresh nutmeg, serve with buttered bread (not vegan, I guess), and kick back.

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dairy-free recipes journey to buff savory recipes soup recipes vegetable recipes

white bean salad + carrot salad with carrot ginger dressing + ripping the band-aids off

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When you begin to realize that there are divisions in your life that are not mathematical, is when things start to get dicey. It’s as if I’ve spent the past four years blissfully asleep, content in my ignorance, happy to let the world and all the beauty within it, slip, and then I woke from this night terror, confused and disoriented. The costs of ignorance are incalculable, I can’t even begin to do the maths on this one, and while I work on getting my personal house in order I’m growing concerned about the world around me, about the people in it and how they’re content to go through their day under anesthesia.

Have you ever seen the film, Carnival of Souls? A woman who was meant to die in a car accident, doesn’t, and you watch as she roams, soulless, through Utah. She’s a fragile wisp of a thing, prone to hysterics, but at the same time she’s comfortably uncomfortable in her self-imposed isolation from love and faith. In a few scenes in the film, you see her running through a department store, park or a crowded thoroughfare, screaming. No one can hear her, and this terrifies her — the threat of being alone in her torment, the idea that she can’t be heard when she wants to. This silence forces her to face the specter that was there all along — her death, physical + spiritual.

This is a roundabout way of saying that at times I feel very much like this woman. When I’m surrounded by people whose greatest lament is not getting their preferred Soul Cycle class, when an awkward silence falls when I talk about the world and all the monstrous things in it (The AP scandal, brutal rapes in Rio and India), when people can’t fathom going beyond their own sympathetic brunch because being a friend means you have to be there for the long haul, not just for a clasped hand and a few nods and a brunch paid — when all of this, all of this happens, I feel as if I’m alone in my lament.

When I talk about my writing and my excitement for it, and for looking for a job that won’t compromise it, people stare at me blankly to a point where I always, inevitably, ask, Am I boring you? When I think about how I shouldn’t have created such a sharp divide between myself and my co-workers, and how I now don’t know how to be friends with them, even after we’ve left the place that threatened to undo us, many don’t understand.

Maybe I’m hypersensitive (it wouldn’t be a first) or overtly-critical, but I’m walking through life without medication, walking with all the band-aids ripped off, and I need to move toward people who are going to get it. Who are going to be there for the long haul. Those who know that in the end, our friendship was worth the stretch.

In the interim, I’m focusing on making my life (amidst all this complexity) as simple as possible. Naturally, every conversation in my life starts, ends, or involves food, and this would be no different. How simple is it to make a cold carrot salad and a hot white bean one when a friend sits across from you and says she’s scared of the world, too? Or when your best friend, the woman you’ve known for half your life, tells me on a phone line that she doesn’t care about petty politics, she just wishes people would climb out of their damn box. These conversations give me hope. Warm my heart.

INGREDIENTS: Recipes adapted from Gwyneth Paltrow’s It’s All Good
For the carrot salad + carrot ginger dressing: Of note, there is a different version in her cookbook, however, you’ll find that it’s merely a shift in serving size rather than an alteration of ingredients.
4 cups shredded carrots (this is for the salad)
1 large carrot, peeled and roughly chopped (this is for the dressing)
1 large shallot, peeled and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh ginger
1 tablespoon sweet white miso
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon roasted sesame seed oil
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons water

For the white bean salad: Of note, I made some alterations to Paltrow’s original recipe, as I didn’t feel her version had enough thyme
1 14oz can of cannellini (or white kidney beans), drained and rinsed in cold water
2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 shallot, finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, finely diced
2 tbsp of olive oil
Salt/cracked black pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS
For the carrot salad + carrot ginger dressing: Pulse the carrot, shallot and ginger in a blender until finely chopped. Scrape down the sides, add the miso, vinegar and sesame seed oil and whiz together. While the blender is going, slowly drizzle in the grapeseed oil and the water. Toss spoonfulls of the dressing (how much you add is to your taste, really. I prefer salads that are lightly dressed as opposed to drenched) onto the carrots. I added a handful of black sesame seeds for color and additional crunch.

For the white bean salad: In a large skillet, add the olive oil and heat on medium. Sauté the garlic for 2-3 minutes until the garlic slightly browns, and then add the shallots and thyme, and cook for another 1-2 minutes until the onions are slightly translucent. Add the beans and cook for another 5-7 minutes. Serve hot, seasoned with salt/pepper, or at room temperature — either way, the beans are delicious!

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