Pistachio & Cashew Chocolate Cake Recipe

pistachio and cashew chocolate cakeI’ve been needing my own battle cry of sorts these days. It seems like I’m great at making plans in my head & not the best at making them happen. I have ideas for my blog, side business or activities with my friends that always just slip through my hands. Time feels more like sand than ever. I’ve been running long distances & spending more time on my mat. In yoga last night, my chest finally touched down in anahatasana. I got a little too excited and held the pose until I felt like moving. I think the rest of the class moved through at least three poses before I got up from my mat.

I just needed to be there. In it. I don’t know if anybody else experiences yoga this way, but I’ve been getting more flexible the more I let go of my mind. The more I concentrate on the present moment and stop worrying about the next pose or the proper alignment, everything seems to just melt away. Running, yoga, writing, baking, cooking all have the same thing in common – they quiet my brain. I feel awake, like everything is meant to be just the way it is.

A lot of people in my life have been going through big changes, including myself. New careers, businesses, children, marriage or evolutions in how they see themselves. It’s hard when everything is in flux to feel rooted in something true, even if those changes are positive. Five months ago I decided to take on a new adventure, teach myself a new skill – and I did it. It worked. I left the crummy place I was at and finally started to do something I enjoy.

I still find myself ballooning with doubt on the days I expect to be most confident. I find myself awkward, unsure & stumbling more days than I find myself on even feet. The difference now is that I’m not running away from these feelings as often as I used to. I’m trying to meet them head on. To make friends with my fears rather than hide in a corner and stare in the opposite direction.

The other night I was at a dance party and all my limbs felt heavy. I can’t be the only person who’s terrified of dancing in public and then can’t control themselves when they’re alone in their underwear. It doesn’t make any sense. Luckily, out of nowhere my boyfriend whips out some combination of Michael Jackson & Posh Spice, which reminds me that my legs and arms and chest and stomach and feet are all meant to move. So I found myself laughing hysterically on the dance floor giving all whatever kind of forest-child-moved-city realness I can. I had fun. I wasn’t afraid of the people staring at me or whether my body looked ridiculous dancing my life away to Single Ladies. It was a moment where everything was ok. I knew that I was going to be ok.

Tonight, I had two conversations with loved ones about their dreams. They’re unsure of the next steps. In so many words, they said that some days it all feels like just too much. And it does. I know that some days I’m split between so many things, I feel like I spend more energy just trying to put my head on straight than anything else, but I’m not allowing myself to be negative right now. I don’t have time to stay in bed with old doubt. I hope that talking helped them see their own beauty. That they can and will make their dreams come to life. I hope they know if they can just be with what is for a little longer they will find in themselves everything they are looking for. I will be here holding their hand through it as much as they’re holding mine. We’re in it together, holding this pose just as long as we can. Not worrying about our next move or the ten things we didn’t get done even though we wanted to. Trusting that with enough determination & love, we will get to where we need to go.

- Pistachio & Cashew Chocolate Cake – 

Chocolate Vegan Cake

canola spray
1/4 cup pistachios, ground
1/4 cup cashews, ground
1 2/3 cup whole wheat flour or white flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup sunflower oil
1 cup honey, agave or maple syrup
1/2 cup vegan sour cream

1/2 cup organic sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup vegan butter
1/2 cup almond milk
1 tsp vanilla

1/8 cup pistachios, chopped
1/8 cup cashews, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray an 8″ x 8″ baking pan with canola oil & set aside. Grind the pistachios and almonds in a food processor or blender until they have the consistency of almond meal. In a medium bowl, mix the ground pistachios & cashews, flour, salt, baking soda and cocoa powder. Set aside.

In another medium bowl, blend canola oil, honey and sour cream together until it is creamy. Add water and continue to mix until completely combined. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients one cup at a time, mixing slowly. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan.

Bake for 30 minutes or until you can remove a clean toothpick from the cake. While the cake is baking, blend all the frosting ingredients in a food processor or a blender. Place the frosting in the freezer while the cake is baking to make it more firm.

If you do not have vegan sour cream, then you can combine 16 oz firm tofu, 1/2 cup almond milk, 1 tbs olive oil, 4 tsp lemon juice, 2 tsp apple cider vinegar, 1 tsp sugar or honey and 1 tsp salt in a blender. Blend up and use in this recipe & keep the extra for vegan nachos or quesadillas.

Remove the cake from the oven and let cool for 20-30 minutes. If you are having difficulty removing the cake, then you can always run a knife along the edges. Fortunately, if you grease the pan then the cake should slide out of the baking pan without a problem. Once the cake has cooled, frost the tops and sides of the cake and sprinkle extra pistachios & cashews as garnish.

 

 

Seared Tempeh & Tofu Scramble Recipe

tofu scramble

Avoiding the autumn posts – the ones with pumpkin cookies, hay rides and colorful leaves. Not because I’m feeling like a scrooge, but because I’m trying to feel my own rhythm and settle this year. Kevin and I drove up to Salem on Friday night for a party. I decided to bring back my childhood and dress up as a Nintendo Gameboy. On Friday, I poked out of work during lunch and hopped on a train to Chinatown to find costume fabric. I sometimes forget what it feels like to move with purpose. Around midday, I am usually just eating or reading, but it felt nice to go somewhere that I don’t usually go. Do something out of the ordinary.

I found myself on a cool fall day tucked inside Windmill Fabrics. I have been going here for seven years for all my Halloween attire. I can’t believe I’ve been in Massachusetts for seven years now. This is my favorite fabric store in Boston. I poured over the seasonally appropriate lines of felt rolls and squares. Talked with the woman at the front desk about business, Halloween and I left my company badge on the table so she continued to ask me about the website and investments. I’ve lived in Boston long enough now to see businesses come and go. I passed by my favorite bakery in Chinatown that is opening back up again, a new cafe on the corner with free WiFi and the golden doors to my old job.

Kevin and I spend the night getting ready, slow. We talk over our favorite thai food and stress over the survival of the lead characters in our latest anime obsession. This is what Friday night is suppose to feel like – a warm hug, a smooth kiss or a cold tingle under the skin. On our way up to Salem we wind our way through the Big Dig. The tunnels are lit up in yellow and I can’t help but stare at their strange brilliance. I am always amazed to be here – sitting 3,000 miles away from home, tucked away in a city that has more people than the town I grew up in within one medium-sized apartment building. A forest orphan or a city adoptee. Loving both places, but never fully committed to either one.

Fall and winter in New England taught me how to appreciate the night. There is magic that happens when the sun goes down. It’s like a whole new city stretches out before me, inviting me to corners I have never been before. I am in love with the lights down by the water, the sweeping lit up bridges and the old street lights that still carry some New World decor. The next night, Kevin and I went for an 11 mile run in the city. We ran through Roxbury, the South End, Chinatown, the Leather District, the Seaport, the North End, Bunker Hill and back. Ate a couple of pizzas while we talked about dreams, travel and saving up to experience more adventure.

vegan recipe book

I stay in the bed this morning with a cup of tea & a stack of cook books. I’m pouring over new recipes trying to find one that sounds delicious. I can feel myself gravitating toward the familiar and I push toward new ingredients, techniques and recipes. I close my eyes and can see Salem covered in fog from two nights ago, jet black water streaming underneath a bridge near the North End and the tree line from the Boston commons snaking its way along Beacon Hill. I know that every day is an adventure, all I have to do is wake up and remember.

 – Tofu Scramble -

Tofu Scramble Part II

tofu scramble

Tofu Scramble Part III

Scrambled tofu is perfect for fall days when you want a warm breakfast and a slow morning. You can add other vegetables to enhance this recipe, but I just chose vegetables that were simple and savory. This recipe is full of flavor!

1 tbs olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped into 1/4 chunks
4-5 shiitake mushrooms, sliced 1/2 inch
4-5 broccoli florets
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 pound firm tofu, drained & crumbled
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 lemon juice

2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp fresh thyme
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp coarse sea salt

Prepare you vegetables by mincing the onion into 1/4 inch chunks, slicing the mushrooms into 1/2 inch pieces and cutting a lemon in half and storing 1/2 in the refrigerator. You can also save time by draining your tofu and setting it aside.

Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Sauté chopped onions until translucent, which takes 2-3 minutes. Add shiitake mushrooms, broccoli florets and minced garlic. Add the spice blend and slowly mix until the vegetables are coffered in spices and oil. Sauté for an additional 5 minutes. Add 1/4 of water to deglaze pan.

Crumble tofu in the pan and mix well, make sure not to mash the tofu. Once the tofu is covered in spices, turn the heat to low and cook for 12-15 minutes. If your tofu is sticking to the pan, then you can turn down the heat or add water by the tbs. Serve with your favorite hot sauce, guacamole, salsa or ketchup.

 - Pan Seared Tempeh – 

Tempeh Bacon

1 (8-ounce) package tempeh
1 tsp vegetable bouillon
1 cup of water
2 tbs soy sauce
2 tbs apple cider vinegar
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs honey (substitute with agave nectar or pure maple syrup)
2 cloves garlic, minced

In a small pot, bring one cup of water to boil. Mix in 1 tsp of vegetable bouillon until completely dissolved. Set aside. In a medium-sized pot, bring water to boil. Mix all the marinade ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl. Cut the tempeh in half then cut each square diagonally to create four large triangles. Add the tempeh to the water once it started boiling. Reduce heat and simmer tempeh for 10 minutes or until you are able to pierce the tempeh triangles with a fork or knife. Place the warm tempeh directly into your marinade and let sit for 1 hour. If you are in a hurry, then you can always let the tempeh sit for less time, but you may have less flavor.

Sear the tempeh for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until sugar from the honey starts to caramelize. Pair the tofu scramble and the pan seared tempeh with a mix of arugula greens, apples and pistachio halves.

Cashew Milk Recipe

Cashew Milk Recipe

This weekend, I finally recovered from being sick. It’s been a week of nothing but kale smoothies and early nights in bed.  Today, I told Kevin that I have been dreaming about creating a vegan and vegetarian food guide for Boston. I am sketching my first drafts of the website this afternoon. I have been longing for a website that matches the way I discover food in my own life – from full-blown veggie havens to vegan & vegetarian dishes squeezed into the corner of menus at the best restaurants in Boston.

On Friday night, I rode my bike through the city to meet Kevin for dinner in Chinatown. Biking to work has become my new religion. I am savoring the last months of fall before winter comes and I will be back on the train in the morning. One of our unspoken traditions is trying new restaurants on the weekend. We usually get in grooves where we end up at the same restaurant for weeks on end until we are ready to move on. I have always been in love with the restaurants in Chinatown.

My favorite restaurant is on the 2nd floor at the corner of Washington and Beach Street. I don’t remember the first time I went there, but I can remember the countless times I’ve been there over the last year. Last winter, I was doing a lot of soul searching about where I was at in my life and where I wanted to be go. I would meet up with my mentor at this restaurant on days that it was slow enough at work to take a long lunch.

There is something about this part of the city that makes me feel most alive. Maybe it’s because it’s one of the busiest areas in Boston. Even in the dead of winter there are people milling about Chinatown, tourists, locals and residents all going about there day or looking to settle down with steamed buns and a cup of tea.

The restaurant, which is called My Thai Vegan Cafe, has some of the best vegan fare in the city, like spicy thai curries, warm thai soup and some of the best faux-duck that I’ve been able to find. There are windows that run along two sides of the restaurant, so you get plenty of natural light while you’re eating and beautiful views of downtown Boston. The restaurant also has planters that run alongside the walls and down into the middle of the restaurant. I am always jealous about the size of their cacti and tropical plants. The whole place feels like eating lunch in a greenhouse.

Kevin and I always share food by turning our plates toward one another and fighting over the center pieces – you think we would have settled it by now, but the food is just too good! This Friday, the usual sharing made me think about how little I’ve been sharing things with others these days, how quiet I’ve been up in my apartment and at work.

At yoga this morning, I grabbed a spot beneath one of the skylights so I could enjoy the sun during my practice. At the end of my practice I was feeling restless, so I opened my eyes in shavasana to get a glimpse of the sky. After a sweaty morning practice, water droplets were glued to the skylight. I couldn’t help but think about borders – about that line on our plates at the restaurant or the 6 inch gap between me and the person next to me.

And here, on the skylight, all those borders melted away and all that was leftover was water. This month, I’m trying to find the borders I have built up within my own body – the walls, doors, cement blocks or fears that have been keeping my from others. I am melting them all down in my yoga practice, at dinner with my boyfriend & on my bike ride to work. I am daring myself to wake up excited & with my whole heart ready to be present in every moment.

- Cashew Milk Recipe -

Cashew Milk Recipe

Ingredients

-1 cup raw cashews
-4 cups of water
-2 tbs of agave or honey
-2 tsp of vanilla extract
-pinch of sea salt 

In a glass container, place 1 cup of cashews in enough water to cover them. Place the covered cashews in your refrigerator overnight, so they are soft to blend in the morning. Drain the cashews until the liquid is clear. Place the cashews and 2 cups of water in a blender. Puree until smooth.

Cashew Milk Recipe

Add the remaining 2 cups of water, agave or honey, vanilla extract and sea salt. Blend until you receive a desired consistency. If you prefer creamer milk, then you can reduce the water by 1/4 to 1/2 of a cup. You can add the same amount of water if you prefer a lighter cashew milk. 

 

New England Rainstorm

New England summers are all about rainstorms. In California, there are no such things as summer storms. I hardly remember any rain beyond spring for my whole childhood, but it’s one of my favorite parts of the weather in New England. On the 4th of July, I climbed up a giant hill at the Arnold Arboretum with one of my best friends and my boyfriend because you can see the fireworks across the city. There is so much nature in Boston, from public parks to hiking trails. It’s one of the best things about living here.

We climbed up a hill that was covered in long yellow grass. A small dirt trail snaked its way up the front and led to a giant lookout. At the top, there was probably 50-100 people relaxing on their blankets, eating snacks and waiting for the fireworks to start down on the harbor. It was one of those nights where you can smell the rain in the air before you actually know that it’s on the way.

I’m starting to think that if you pay attention to new scents, or listen close enough or feel just a little deeper, then this is the way that all change happens. You can feel it in your bones before you even know it’s coming.  In an excerpt on the American poet Ruth Stone, the author Elizabeth Gilbert said,

“As stone was growing up in rural Virginia, she would be out, working in the fields and she would feel and hear a poem coming at her from over the landscape. It was like a thunderous train of air and it would come barreling down at her over the landscape. And when she felt it coming…cause it would shake the ground under her feet, she knew she had only one thing to do at that point.

That was to, in her words, run like hell to the house as she would be chased by this poem. The whole deal was that she had to get to a piece of paper fast enough so that when it thundered through her, she could collect it and grab it on the page. Other times she wouldn’t be fast enough, so she would be running and running, and she wouldn’t get to the house, and the poem would barrel through her and she would miss it, and it would continue on across the landscape looking for ‘another poet’.

And then there were these times, there were moments where she would almost miss it. She is running to the house and is looking for the paper and the poem passes through her. She grabs a pencil just as it’s going through her and she would reach out with her other hand and she would catch it. She would catch the poem by its tail and she would pull it backwards into her body as she was transcribing on the page. In those instances, the poem would come up on the page perfect and intact, but backwards, from the last word to the first.”

Do you ever feel the change in your own life this way, like a barreling beneath your feet? A backwards poem? Sometimes, I’m afraid that if I don’t run fast enough I will miss it. It will pass through me like a poem, a thought or a fleeting memory. Last fall, I can remember catching the tail-end of a feeling of change and bringing it back into my body.

And in that rainstorm, I could feel it again. The rain barreling in from the west, holding more water than I could imagine. At the end of the fireworks show, everyone stayed around to talk with their friends and finish the last bits of food. The second fireworks show was the best though – thunder and lightning booming across the sky. I could feel myself counting the seconds with my fingers, trying to figure out how soon until we would be covered in rain.

And if you’ve ever been caught in a lightning storm, you know that your heart is somewhere stuck between your chest and your throat, somewhere between beating too fast and too slow. This summer in my CPR class, we learned that the heart is powered by an electrical current and how this current, for the most part, moves at a consistent rhythm.

I think that when change is coming for us, we can feel that rhythm dance at a new rate. That night we all got caught up on the hill in a sea of water. Ended up running barefoot across rivers pouring down the road and laughing, drenched all the way through, in the car.

Two months later Kevin and I are all settled into our new home and I’m finally doing what I wanted to do when I was younger, becoming a writer and, as 5 year-old me so astutely put it, a cooker! I’m a month into my new job as an ‘SEO Analyst’ and I still don’t recognize myself in the mirror most mornings, like the rainstorm moved through me and left a whole new person for me to befriend. What dream can you feel in your bones? If you listen close enough, is there something tugging at your heart?

This Strangeness In My Life

It is so hard to see where it is,
but it is there even in the morning
when the miracle of shapes
assemble and become familiar,
but not quite; and the echo
of a voice, now changed,
utterly dissociated, as though
all warmth and shared sweetness
had never been. It is this alien
space, not stark as the moon,
but lush and almost identical
to the space that was. But it is not.
It is another place and you are not
what you were but as though emerging
from the air, you slowly show yourself
as someone else, not ever remembered.

-Ruth Stone-

Pineapple Orange Juice Recipe

It’s been a year since my last post. This morning, I woke up and read all the posts I wrote over a year ago and was filled with so much joy and amazement about all the memories I captured about my life through recipes. I forgot how much I live through food and friends wrapped around a table laughing and enjoying each other’s company. At my last apartment, I didn’t have the space to hold dinner parties or cook up new inventions in the kitchen. It was honestly one of the toughest living situations of my life, which taught me a lot about myself and others, and I have never been happier to move into a new apartment.

This last year I have been learning how to grow through conflict. I didn’t realize how stuck I was in flight, fight, or freeze mode when it came to issues that came up. This year, I have started to find out how to show up in conflict with an open heart. How to listen without identifying my behavior with other people’s interpretations. Breath has helped me create space between a person’s reaction to my actions. This year has been about rooting myself back into my body and claiming space to the feelings that I choose to have.

It’s just Kevin and I now in our new home and a window full of plants. The upstairs neighbors came by yesterday and were amazed at how well our plants were growing. It makes me happy to know that I am not letting my grandmother down. As a florist, her house was always brimming with new life – pouring from the window sills and a giant garden. Even my great grandparents harvested vegetables from their land. We have a family of green thumbs and old Kentucky and Oklahoma farmers who moved West.

Sometimes, my cousins will share pictures of their gardens back in California or my sister will send me photos of her succulent wreaths – and it’s in those moments that I know that the family traditions are still alive and well.

The last two years have been years of transition. This summer I did more sitting meditation and yoga then I have ever done in my life. I trail ran with my partner and worked harder than I ever have before. As fall is starting to make its way into September – I can feel the dust starting to settle. The hot and fiery summer days are ending and giving way to cool mornings and quiet nights. I am writing more and filling my life with books that will ground me and continue to help me grow.

I just started rereading Crazy Wisdom  by Chogyam Trungpa, which is focused on teaching about an innocent state of mind that has the quality of early morning spring – or complete awakeness. It has been resonating with me because sometimes transition and conflict are painful. Chogyam Trungpa explores ways in which we can appreciate pain, confusion, or challenging opportunities as an opportunity to wake up - to discover new things we never knew about ourselves.

In this book he says that the approach involves “digging into life’s irritations, diving into the irritations and making a home out of them.” He says, “If we are able to make a home out of those irritations, then the irritations become a source of great joy, of transcendental joy, because there is no pain involved at all. This kind of joy is no longer related with pain or contrasted with pain at all. So the whole thing becomes precise and sharp and understandable, and we are able to relate with it.”

The last four months I have had the privilege to be a work study student at Akasha Yoga Studio and I am headed over there today to celebrate International Karma Yoga Day. This morning I can feel myself appreciating this moment and leaning forward to all the exciting moments that this fall will bring. I am excited to be back to writing, to waking up, to opening up my kitchen and hosting dinner parties late into the night.

- Pineapple Orange Juice -

Pineapple Orange Juice

ingredients.
-1/2 Pineapple

-1/2 orange
-1/2 plantain
-1/2 apple
-1/2 lemon
-1/2 lime
-1 inch of ginger
-1/2 cup cilantro 

directions.
Cut up all of the delicious veggies so they are small enough until they are small enough to pop into your juicer. Juice it up & enjoy!

Vegan Quesadilla Recipe

The other night I came home to my new housemate sleeping on my bed, wagging her tail, waiting for me to pull the covers over myself. September is always a time for new beginnings. I thumb my rose quartz on the train to work this morning and think of all the new starts this year. I don’t know if it’s just me, but sometimes when I get out of bed in the morning I think, “Hey, who is the stranger in the mirror? How the heck did I get to be this old? Where are my underwear?” In all seriousness, where am I going?

I say these questions out loud to myself when nobody is around, maybe because I enjoy talking to myself, OR maybe because it reminds me to keep moving, pushing, and changing.

Reading on the train to work has become ritual. I have perfected the art of reading a book two inches from my face, crammed up against the door, or nestled inside somebody’s armpit. This summer I stumbled into All About Love by bell hooks, who builds off of M. Scott Peck’s definition of love. He defines love as,

“The will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.”

I grew up knowing love as mystery, magic, folklore. In college as I tried to talk about love – how to engage in loving relationships and how to nurture love in my life – I think I had it all wrong. Maybe, I will say that again about myself in another 5-10 years OR maybe I will be impressed with the effort I am putting in now to understand that which has been misunderstood for so long.

For now I am building off this definition that Peck & hooks have given me.

That love is a verb. Love is an action.

This afternoon I am asking myself, “What have I done today that shows love to others?”

-Refried Black Beans, Sweet Potato & Nutritional Yeast Quesadilla-

Quesadilla

ingredients.

refried black beans
- one can black beans, drained & rinsed
– 2 cloves of garlic
– 1/4 cup onion
– handful of cilantro
– 1 lime, juiced
– 2 tbs olive oil
– water
– salt
– hot sauce

sweet potatoes
– 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled & diced
– 1/2 cup rolled oats
– 1 tbs nutritional yeast
– 1 tbs flax seed

kale
– 4-6 stems of kale
– 1 tbs olive oil
– pinch of salt

process.
In a pan, heat olive oil & add onion and garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the onion is translucent. Add beans and cover with water. Cook until water is mostly absorbed and add cilantro, lime, a pinch of salt, and your choice of hot sauce if you would like them to be spicy. Mash beans until mostly smooth. Set aside.

In a separate pan, heat olive oil. Add kale & salt. Cover until kale is cooked down and lightly toasted. Set aside.

In a large pot bring water to boil. Once water is boiling place sweet potatoes and cook until tender, about 10-15 minutes. Drain & place in large bowl. Use a fork to mash the potatoes until smooth. Add rolled oats, nutritional yeast, and flax seed, set aside.

In a tortilla, spread sweet potatoes, refried black beans, and top with kale. Add pico de gallo, flax seeds, avocados, lettuce, or any other of your favorite vegetables. Top with nutritional yeast and cook in a pan until brown on both sides.

Recipe for guacamole & vegan sour cream coming soon…

Mango & Avocado Salad Recipe

Running shoes.

Shorts.

Socks.

Keys.

Running is one of the only things that has ever made sense to me. I cannot believe how alive & still my body feels while pawing at dirt trail and sweating up the spine of mountains. I did not know it at the time, but I grew up in one of the most beautiful areas of the country. High up in the mountains with valleys, peaks, and vistas that people flock to for vacation.

Running is metaphor. Once you exist between two seemingly unrelated objects – like a forest that is so beautiful, but is brimming with people who call your body sick - you learn how to wrap yourself into the tightest ball. At eighteen, I flew 3,000 miles across the country for college – not because I was in love with Boston, but because I was afraid of what I would become in a forest filled with people who were metabolizing queers into dirt.

run to feel alive. To feel the quiet in my head that is early morning ocean – before any human dares to break its waves. I am still running, but I am remembering now that my family taught me how to root. To sink my hands & feet into soil until I know this body is made stronger by the efforts to unmake it.

On my run today – I told myself that this body is strength. That queer bodies are beautiful in every way. For lunch, I gobble up mangos, plantains, beets, avocados, almonds. They are filling me with nourishment.

I am writing affirmations in my notebook:

Queer people are beautiful.
Queer people are beautiful.
We are beautiful.

- Mango & Avocado Salad -

DSC_0658

ingredients.
-1 mango, peeled & diced

-1 avocado, diced
-1 plantain, diced
-1 beet, peeled & diced
-1/2 cup almonds, chopped
- 1 tbs chia seeds
- 1 tbs golden flax seeds
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 inch ginger, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup coconut raw flakes 
- 1 cup cilantro

DSC_0647

DSC_0650

DSC_0655

DSC_0660

process.
In a large bowl, gently mix together mango, avocado, plantain, and beets. Be sure to mix lately, so as not to smash the avocado or the plantain. Mix in chia seeds, golden flax, lemon, ginger, coconut flakes, and cilantro. Refrigerate (if you would like it cold) and enjoy!

DSC_0659

Kale Smoothie & Breakfast Quinoa Recipe

Saturday rolls around and my body is ready for the slow & lazy weekend of time spent catching up with loved ones, but for us city dwellers who are bound by September 1st leases – Labor Day is all about movement.

It has been a year & a summer since I graduated from college and I am in disbelief that I am moving to a new home. This year, my life is process. It is about finding space & openness in tight moments. As I am packing up my books, kitchen utensils, and bedding, I am caught thinking about all the unforgettable memories shared in this house – from early morning tea on the porch with visitors to small dinner potlucks with close friends to late night vegan parties with music, laughter, and love.

This September, I am filled with gratitude for all the beautiful people who have been in my life this year – cheering me on, holding me up during the moments I am most vulnerable. As I drive away from my old house for the last time I am thinking about a conversation with a loved one, where we talked about the meaning of homeHome, for us travelers & wanderers, being something that we make from our bodies – from thin air – from smoke, and late night dancing, and early morning solitude.

Today, I am thinking about how experimentation and spontaneity are essential life forces. The unexpected, being what humbles and grounds me in the present. This morning, the 4:00 am alarm is calling my tired limbs from bed. I drive my partner to the airport, but he ends up taking my keys with him to Texas and all I can do is laugh.

It is 5:00 am and I am waiting for my roommates to wake-up so that I can get into the house. I am sitting on the deck and scrolling through my phone for the 10 best ways to break into your own home. At some point, I give in to the messiness of this morning – the unexpected - and as I sit I can feel the situation opening up. My mind slowly easing its grip on the situation and my frustration until I am able to see it is another event in the week – an opportunity for growth & learning.

I would have (of course) preferred not to have been locked out, but the situation is. In my head, there are so many to-do-lists that they are starting to look like a notepad, a novel, an ancient tome.

I am slowly walking back from attachment, from my fixation on what I think should be. This month, is Vegan Month of Food & I can feel the slow growing anxiety about trying to make 20 recipes, but when I take a step back. Slow down. Breath. Be present in this morning. Be present in the slow rise of the sun & water peeling way from grass.

I can feel my body waking up with the earth – with the here & now.

- Sweet Kale Smoothie -

 Kale Smoothie

ingredients.
– 1 yellow plantain, chopped
– 1 guava, peeled & seeded
– two handfuls of kale
– 1 tsp chlorella
– 2 tsp chia seeds
– 1 tsp maca powder
– 2 tbs golden flax seeds
– 1/4 cup almonds
– 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
– 1/4 cup almond milk
– 24 oz water

Kale, Guava, Plantains

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process.
In a blender, place yellow plantain, guava, two handfuls of kale. Add chia seeds, maca powder, flax seeds, almonds, sunflower seeds, almond milk, and water. Blend until smooth. Enjoy!

- Almond & Strawberry Breakfast Quinoa -

Quinoa Breakfast

ingredients.
– 1 cup quinoa

- 2 cups almond milk
- 2 tbs brown sugar
- 2 tsp cinnamon 
- 1/4 cup chopped almonds, pistachios, and/or cashews
- sprinkle of flax seeds
- handful of fresh fruit (I used strawberries)

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process.
In a small pot, place quinoa and almond milk. Bring to boil. Reduce to simmer & cover for 15-20 minutes. Once the almond milk is mostly cooked into the quinoa, mix in the brown sugar and cinnamon. Cook for 15-20 more minutes until almond milk is completely cooked into quinoa. 

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Remove from heat and serve with fresh fruit and flax seeds. Add vegan butter, coconut, or more almond milk (if you like)!

Coconut Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Recipe

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In Massachusetts, August is the sweat-end of summer. This morning I woke up with the ocean in my chest. The city can not hold the parts of myself that long for nature – late nights on the water, bonfires in the woods, and dinner out on the porch. Last January, I became an uncle for the first time. I flew back to California to see my sister and my nephew, Evan. He was so small. His hands and feet tucking into his body, like leaves on a thick stem. It was beautiful to see my sister, the small girl climbing trees with me in thunderstorms while daring the wind to blow us clean off the branch, now a mother. She is patient and calm and rooted.

The house smells like it is blossoming with life.

This week, when we talk on the phone my nephew is no longer the little potato that I first saw. He is growing and laughing and dreaming. My father sends me a photograph of him with my childhood stuffed animal. In this moment, holding the photograph of Evan in one hand and my heart in the other, I know that there is so much more of myself I have yet to give.

My friend is leaving for London in a few days and we wake up early to see the sun bleeding into the daytime. We pull over near the ocean, where the sunrise is pushing back the night. Four years ago, we were children in college that were playing adults by learning how to speak of important things and now we are adults playing children in the early belly of the sun.

On the train to work today, everyone is gone. My best friend, settled in new city, and the person who I love traveling for work. I pull out my calendar to quickly process any last minute meetings. I am longing for the slow and drawn out slack-line of summer. A longing that is the same force that brings the ocean back to the shoreline.

As the train pulls into my stop, I cannot help but wonder how much of me is still a little boy, sitting in the tree during a thunderstorm, daring the lightning to speak my name.

— Coconut Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto –

- 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
– 1 cup fresh basil
-1/4 cup almonds
– 1/4 unsalted raw sunflower seeds
– 1/4 cup coconut oil
– 4 tbs lemon juice
– 1 tbs nutritional yeast
– 1 tbs flax seed

In a food processor, purée sun-dried tomatoes, basil, almonds, sunflower seeds, and lemon juice. Mix. Add nutritional yeast and flax seeds! Spread on toast with avocado and enjoy!! 

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Introduction to Homebrewed Kombucha

“Things have a life of their own,” the gypsy proclaimed with a harsh accent. “It’s simply a matter of waking up their souls.” – Gabriel Garcia Marquez –

1. To sit longer on the floor and listen to my heartbeat.

2. To quiet my mind listen to my friends’ voices, all of them, beautiful and strong, everyday.

3. To love with my whole body.

I find myself writing a lot of lists these days – groceries, priorities at work, cleaning duties, bills to pay, and phone calls that are overdue. I wrote the above list down yesterday afternoon while riding on the bus. I needed a list that spoke to practices of which I am dedicating myself.

The garden is birthing life right before our eyes. I caught a glimpse of a bee this morning gathering nectar from a squash flower. It amazes me that I am cultivating this vegetable garden in the city, where there are no mountains or dense forests or groves for miles. The neighbors sometimes watch me as a I drag the hose out front and tenderly check the progress of the sunflower and morning glories. They probably know I move to slow to be made of city. That my bones are crafted from tangled oak wood and sweet peas from my childhood.

I think the sun makes everything feel like a dream. Yesterday, my friends and I played soccer & had a picnic in the park. There was a long line of trees with an altar-like area at the end. I suggested to my friends that we should have a ceremony there – that we need to continue to imagine & dream of the communities in which we want to participate. I am trying to keep my imagination alive. To remind myself that somewhere in my skin is a little child dreaming of magic, climbing trees and covering myself in earth.

Last night we drove up to the lake & willfully ignored the signs for “No Swimming” – in New England there are more rules than my body is able to follow without feeling like a container of the state. We floated in the water & watched the sun go down. We talked about how in water – our bodies, as well as our thoughts, feel so much lighter and how it helps us forget the heaviness of living.

I am fixated on birth these days. Maybe it is from being a new uncle, or maybe it is how I am mesmerized with the process of birth as both a beginning, middle, and end. I think my life is full of this feeling – of always being in the three places at once, or none of them all at the same time.

As the sun went down the water was jet black & touched the tail end of the sky and stretched on for what seemed like forever. For a second, I sat in between the space where there is no beginning, middle, and end. There just is, without any question, what has always been there.

My soulwaking up to the life of its own.

— Homebrewed Kombucha: 5 Different Ways –

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ingredients.
– 1 mother SCOBY (instructions on how to make one yourself below)
-1 gallon water
-1 cup sugar
– 6-8 tea bags (black, oolong, green, herbal)

material(s).
– 1 gallon glass jar OR holding vessel
– 1 large pot to boil water
– cheesecloth
– strainer
– juicer (optional)

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directions.
The first thing you are going to need is a SCOBY. A couple of years ago I was a neglectful SCOBY parent and mine molded and I was forced to get rid of it. I read somewhere online that you can buy a bottle of kombucha, drink it about halfway, cover the top with cheese cloth, and leave it out for a bit of time and a SCOBY will develop. After about 2-3 weeks of waiting this worked for me! I started out with G.T.’s Kombucha and worked my way from there.

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Once you have your SCOBY you are all set to get brewing! In a large pot, boil 1 gallon of water. Some people prefer using distilled water, but I just use regular old tap water and nothing has happened to me yet…Once the water has boiled place 6-8 tea bags and let steep for 5-7 minutes. While the tea is steeping, mix in 1 cup of sugar until dissolved.

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Pour the tea and sugar into a one gallon container. Let cool to room temperature. If you place the SCOBY in while the water is hot it will kill your SCOBY, and then you may be sad/frustrated/confused. I suggest doing laundry, going for a run, reading, working on an art project – anything except frequently checking the temperature.

Once the mixture has cooled, add SCOBY and leftover Kombucha. You will want to always keep your SCOBY and about 1 1/2 cups of Kombucha to use as a starter liquid for every batch. Cover with cheesecloth and let stand for 2-3 weeks, until you have carbonation and a deep amber color. Bottle in sterilized glass jars and enjoy :)

If you prefer flavored Kombucha, such as lemon, ginger, apple, or kale…you may want to partake in a second fermentation process. Once you have poured the Kombucha into jars add the juice of a lemon, a thumb-size of ginger, an apple, or handful of kale. Seal & let sit on the counter for 2-3 days. Refrigerate once done & enjoy!!!

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Coconut Plantain Dark Chocolate Cookie Recipe

There isn’t a day that goes by in our apartment that a tea kettle isn’t whistling. As a kid, we owned a cast iron kettle that we would put on our wood stove. During the cold months, this is how we rewarmed our baths or made hot chocolate after snow storms. I remember how salt residue would build on its surface and once the sun came out my mom would brush it clean, just in time to be put back to use again.

In Massachusetts, our kettle is giving life to a drawer full of teas. Drawing our friends together over afternoon or late night conversations. It is cleaned every so often and it serves as a meeting place in our lives. On Saturday morning, we stumble out of bed later than we should – or earlier than we would like to – and shuffle around the kettle with cold feet waiting for the comforting whistle and pour of hot water.

This morning, the city is underwater. The rain crept in over the past few days and has pushed us all back inside. Last night, I ran through the rain to my friend’s car and the water was pooling around my ankles – crawling over every inch of dry skin. Warm summer rain is a baptism – I think – a washing out of our bodies.

I have been thinking about the role of fear a lot lately – how it leaves us silenced and isolated, how it hides the most important parts of ourselves, how it leaves us broken and confused. I am meeting the rain today, not with the hope of leaving everything behind, but to expose the parts of myself I am most apt to run from – fear, neurosis, sadness, and the assortment of bad behaviors I have learned over time.

In the kitchen, I am relearning how to be present in my body. Hands wrist deep in coconut flour feeling every wrinkle and crease of skin brush across bowl. The windows are open and the world smells of summer – like my grandmother’s garden in San Jose coughing up tomatoes and apricots – like bitter dark chocolate waiting to be mixed into dough – like home, the kind that I built from my own skin.

Beside me stands the memory of my grandmother showing me how to measure flour, to pour sugar, to mix, to bake, to cool, to store, to garden, to care for myself and others, to build community, to love, to love, to love, to love in the kind of way that isn’t owned by anyone.

— Coconut Plantain Dark Chocolate Cookies —

ingredients.
1 large sweet plantain, chopped & mashed
– 1 cup coconut flour
– 1/4 cup unsweetened (organic) applesauce
– 1/4 cup raw sugar
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 1 tsp pure maple syrup
– 8 tbs almond milk
– 6 pieces finely chopped dark chocolate
– Pinch of salt

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instructions.
Preheat the over to 350° and line baking sheet with parchment paper. Finely chop 6 pieces of dark chocolate, set aside.

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In a small bowl mash the sweet plantain until smooth. Add applesauce and raw sugar, mix. Stir in vanilla and maple syrup. In a medium bowl, mix together coconut flour and a pinch of salt. Add the plantain mixture and stir until completely mixed. Slowly add the almond milk one spoonful at a time until you have the proper consistency. The dough should not crumble easily, nor should it stick to your fingers. Scoop a bit up and squeeze it together to check! Mix in your chopped chocolate!

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Roll into spoonfuls, place onto prepared baking sheet, and cook for 12 – 15 min. Enjoy with a glass of almond milk (or tea)!

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To Eva

Yesterday morning I woke up and everything was out of place. My journal was open face under my bed, my running shoes in a bag from two weeks ago I had forgot to empty, and my yoga mat had fallen over in the corner and was collecting dust like a high school trophy. There are some mornings I swear that my limbs are tipped over freight trucks. There are mornings where my mouth can tear the whole world down before I have put a single toe out of the front door.

For the past month, I have been watching the steady marching on of spring. I first noticed it in the green buds that appeared on the trees like paint specks. Occasionally, the neighbors and I catch each other checking their progress. We are determining if it is really spring or just a heat wave in the middle of winter. In New England, the weather teaches you to distrust the first sign of warmth.

I walk to work on a road lined with trees. This morning, I found a man still as stone. His hands gathering tree limbs and blossoms like gold. He was burying his nose in their belly buttons. His eyes shut tight with wonder and his mouth hanging lopsided and loose like a hammock. In this moment – there were no out of place sentimental objects, no missed calls from family, no bills left unpaid because I cannot pay them – there was just this man, swallowing spring.

Flashback to a few weeks ago. I am asleep on my belly at 10 pm because I don’t believe in staying up ’till midnight. There is a breeze coming through the open window and I am dreaming of an ocean filled with everyone I love. Each wave brings someone new. My friend Erin floats up and I cannot tell where her tears begin and the ocean starts.

There is no dream. There is no ocean. I only know how to explain heartbreak through metaphor. I am standing barefoot on the sidewalk and she is emptying the ocean into my chest. Heartbreak feels like the weight of a whole ocean pressing onto your face. A few weeks ago, the dog our house loves passed away unexpectedly and I am still finding the words to describe this story. I lifted her body into the car, stood barefoot by her side as we said our last goodbyes. Eva was our best friend (most days), the biggest pain the butt (some days), and continues to teach us lessons even though she is gone. Her memory sits inside our hearts like a pearl.

Tonight I came home after a long day and fished my journal out from under my bed, dusted off my running shoes for when my injury gets better, and rolled out my yoga mat.

I am barefoot. I am opening my windows and burning incense. I am touching my forehead to the floor in humility for all this life has given me and for what it continues to teach me along the way. I am grieving with my body. I am learning to breath through pain. I am gathering the blossoms outside my window and pulling them into my lungs. Tonight, I am dedicating my practice to Eva – the one who taught us all how to love one another until our bodies give out.

Eva

Beet & Carrot Juice

I went home to California a few weeks ago for my sister’s birthday and to see my first (and brand new) nephew. After five years of living in Boston, going back to California was an experience. The air, the earth & the people inexplicably different. Sometimes, I amazed that this entire landmass is a country. There are cultural similarities, including language, but sometimes its hard to pick out where the differences end and the similarities start.

It had been over a year since I was home & I had a lot of stuff I wanted to bring back to Boston. At home I snagged my juicer that my sister and I bought when I was about eighteen. I cannot imagine the looks that TSA gave each other when they found a juicer in my checked bag. I also packed my favorite blanket my mom made me when I was a kid, a bunch of clothes I had left behind, some speakers so we could fill my house back in Boston with more music, and my bicycle. Yes, my bicycle.

It’s been snowing a lot these days. I think winter is more than skin deep. I think winter is not just weather, but a state of being. I have been working too much and sleeping too little. I have been quiet a lot lately, afraid that the more I speak the more winter will fall out of my mouth.

I have been forcing myself out of the house lately. I went to a workshop yesterday on abolishing the prison industrial complex and it made me think of all the important work that is left to do. All of the conversations, people, families & friends impacted by systems trying to beat winter into them.

I look at other food/vegan blogs and I wonder if their identities matter in this way to them. If they are confronting privilege & oppression via their work or if they find their food separate from this. I am looking at my own work and wondering how the politics of my identity will continue to influence what I do, if it will be something I am able to wrap my ahead around.

I want my work to not only give people access to healthy plant-based meals, but to also talk about the way in which veganism and queer culture intersect in my life. I look at many of the other vegan blogs, written (well) by heterosexual white women, and I wonder where my space is in this world.

Being queer, is not just a gender or an orientation, its a state of being.

— Carrot Juice for Liberation –

ingredients.
-8-10 carrots
-1-2 beets
– 1 orange (whatever variety)
– 1 apple (preferably Macintosh or something sweet, unless you like sour)

directions.
Peel the carrots and chop off the ends. Put into juicer.
Peel beet(s) and chop off the end(s). Put into juicer.
Peel the orange. Put into juicer.
Chop the apple up. Put into juicer.

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Simple Kale Smoothie

You think, the whole world will collapse if you can’t finish this, right here.

The way you started.

Simple, knowing nothing but the stretch of your own limbs.

You pick things up just put them down again.

The worn out starter on your dad’s truck is

humming somewhere over the skyline of Boston.

Make yourself into something to remember, you whisper into the air at night.

Your bones keep restitching themselves back to the earth without your permission.

You feel like an impostor, at best, when you are forced into dress clothes.

Talk like this, they show you, lips pressed into an arc of beauty you don’t know how to make on your own.

You can make on your own.

The way the ocean keeps spitting salt onto the coast.

Take me for what I am, it says.

Remember me this way – the endless worry that I am.

In California, I am stuck somewhere in a walnut tree with my sister,

barely big enough to wrap my hands around its branches.

There are silk worms on the top of the tree – spinning fast.

I envy their certainty. I wonder if I will ever know what it means to be so certain.

There is more doublespeak in my dreams than dreams.

I want to make myself into a sturdy boat,

but I am a bit shaky down to my feet.

I am held back by the language of my kind.

In Oklahoma, there is a one room school house

where my great grandmother buried her dreams.

I am digging them out from a leaky cellar in Boston.

I am wearing them like a promise.

In my pockets, I keep

my great grandmother’s crochet hook,

my papa’s cigarettes and

an orchid from my ole grandma’s garden.

I will finish this for all of them, just the way it started.

Their story is my ragged wallet,

the Oklahoma windstorm in my chest,

my love for the smell of smoked out flannel.

I am here now because they imagined a life beyond themselves.

I am bringing them with me.

I am daring not to let them down.

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–Food for Good Energy: Kale Smoothie–

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ingredients.

-fistful kale
-fistful romaine lettuce
-three celery stalks
-handful of broccoli
-1 apple
-1 lemon
-1/2 cup water
-1 cup almond milk
-2 tbs almond butter

Stick it all into a blender and mix it up!

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Maple Walnut Bars Recipe

I rode my bike down across the river today. I took my regular route home that winds down through Allston, along the frontside of Harvard stadium & popping right up into Somerville through Harvard Square. The whole time my legs were filled up with so much freedom. They gained pace & seemed lighter than ever before as I zoomed past cars that were carelessly idling.

This morning I woke up with my heart in my chest. When I was going over the bridge to Harvard I could feel it louder than it’s been lately. I imagined if somebody were pressed against my body it would have shaken them like the crashing of Pacific waves against cliffs.

Quincy has been gone for the past few days. I didn’t realize how much he had become part of my life until he wasn’t around. I guess that’s why it is good for partners to leave each other every now and again. Sometimes I think that I forget to really say & show that I love people. I don’t think that I am the only one though. If I am – so bet it – send me your tips!

Last weekend my friends were in from Toronto & New York and for the first time I knew how big of an impact friends have on our lives. After college I think we are all adjusting to new spaces – parts of us that are hollowed out and others that are filled up too fast. I imagine this isn’t specific to leaving college, but that it is an experience that will continue throughout our lives.

Instead of trying to fill the hollow spots where specific people used to be I am trying to recognize how full of love they have always been.

How full of love they will always be.

— Maple Walnut Butter Bars –

Preparation: 30 min.
Cook Time: 20 min
Serves: 10-12 ppl

ingredients.

- 2 1/2 cups brown rice flour
– 1/4 tsp sea salt
– 1 cup coconut oil
– 1 cup pure maple syrup
– 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
– 1 1/2 cups walnuts, chopped & toasted at 200°
– sprinkle of brown sugar

Preheat over to 375°.

Line a 9×11 baking sheet with parchment paper & set aside.


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Combine the brown rice flour & sea salt in a medium bowl, set aside. In a large bowl, mix together coconut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla extract until smooth. You may have to use an electric mixer to get the right consistency. With the electric mixer on low, mix in the flour & salt adding 1/3 at a time.


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If there are a few small lumps in your batter that’s ok! Just try not to over-mix the brown rice flour or your batter will become too much like taffy. Once it is mixed, press the batter into your 9×11 baking sheet. Spread evenly across the bottom of the pan. Press walnuts firmly into better & sprinkle brown sugar over the top. Bake on 375° for 15 min. Enjoy!

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p.s. This recipe was adapted from Flying Apron’s Gluten Free & Vegan Baking Book!

Sage Pumpkin, Kale & Couscous Salad

Lately, my lungs have been filled up with all of my worries. I think people have started to see it in my eyes – how I calculate the firmness of my grasp to this world I call my own. The weeks have been steadily marching by with or without me. Somedays, I wake up wearing somebody else’s clothes, sleeping in somebody else’s bed, going to work at what I think is somebody else’s job – simply to find that it is all my own.

I’m trying harder than ever to answer questions, but it seems like the harder I try the more elusive they are. I got a letter from my kindergarten teacher a couple weeks back. She used to take me out to dinner when I was a kid. She is one of the many reasons why I am here today, in Boston, trying to eek out my ever-shifting dreams.

I remember driving in her car one day and I asked her, “Do I call you Mrs. Cline or Carol?”

She said, “You can call me Carol when you graduate from college.”

I open the letter to find congratulations about my recent graduation and scrawled at the bottom, “p.s. You can now call me Carol.”

It’s amazing how after all these years she didn’t forget that conversation in the car. To be honest, I had forgotten about it.

I have forgotten about a lot of things these days. I am trying to write, to cook, to run, to live, to dream – but the doldrums of life are everywhere. I now know why it’s hard to escape the shallow-eyed look on the train, but I’m  determined to not be there.

I woke up to snow this morning. For the first time in weeks, I felt as though I woke up in my own bed.

I stook at the kitchen sink this morning and knew that the heartbeat in my chest was my own.

Today, I am forgetting the things that hold me be back in the morning.

I am turning on some slow Miles Davis in the kitchen and making a mess.

– Rubbed Sage Pumpkin & Roasted Apple-Kale CousCous –

Preparation: 45 min.
Cook Time: 45 min.
Servies: 6-8 persons

ingredients.

Rubbed Sage Pumpkin
- 1 small sugar pumpkin, cubed 1/2″ (or 1/2 larger sugar pumpkin)
- 1 sweet yellow onion, chopped
- 2 tsp dried sage
– 2 tsp brown sugar
- 3 tbs olive oil
- pinch of sea salt & ground black pepper

Roasted Apple Kale
– 1 bunch Scots Kale, stripped
– 1 Macintosh (red) apple, peeled & chopped
– 2 tbs olive oil

Brown Rice CousCous
- 1 cup brown rice cous cows
-2 cups water
– pinch of sea salt & ground black pepper

Topping
2 parsnips, peeled & ribboned
– 2 carrots, peeled & ribboned
- handful of dried cranberries

directions.

Although this recipe has three parts (and does take a bit of time) it is super easy and delicious! After this lengthy fall season my house had a collection of pumpkins we never got to carving or baking so I really just used whatever was in my fridge to throw this together. If you would like to add some crunch feel free to throw in almonds and whatever else you like!

Preheat oven to 400°. Start my chopping & peeling the pumpkin. This will take the longest and require the most muscle. My strategy in dismembering the pumpkin was to chop it in half, scoop out the seeds & strings using a big spoon. You can set the seeds aside to roast later, use them in your garden next year, or use them for compost! Once you have chopped the pumpkin in half & emptied out the “guts” – peel the pumpkin using a potato peeler and cube into 1/2″ pieces.

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Divide total pumpkin pieces in half and place equal amounts in two 9x11 baking pans that are about 1″ deep. Chop sweet yellow onion and add 1 1/2 tbs olive oil to each pan. Add 1 tsp of dried rubbed sage & brown sugar to each pan & mix well before placing in the oven. Bake in the oven for 30-34 minutes or until pumpkin is golden brown and can be pierced through with a fork.

In a large bowl strip & tear kale into bite-size pieces using your hands. Add peel & chopped apple. Mix in 2 tbs of olive oil & mix to cover kale & apples. Set aside & bake for 15 minutes, or until kale turns golden on the tips, once the pumpkin is done.

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In a small pot bring 2 cups of water to boil. Once boiled, turn the water off & pour in dried couscous, sea salt & black pepper & let stand for 10-15 minutes until all the water is absorbed. At this point, the pumpkin should be done roasting and you can pop your kale & apple mixture into the oven.

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While you are waiting on the kale & couscous, peel & ribbon carrots and parsnips into separate bowl. Once you have done this the kale & cous cous should be ready and you can whip it all together!

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In a large bowl layer cous cous, kale & apples, pumpkin & onions, and top with dried cranberries & parsnips & carrots. Admire, mix & enjoy!

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Peanut Butter Coconut Cream Cookies Recipe

On Sunday evening, I sat around the television with some friends tracking the approaching hurricane. Fortunately, for Boston, Monday only brought heavy rains and strong winds. As I am sure you all know by now, not other regions were as lucky. We sent messages to our friends in New York making sure their apartments weren’t underwater or damaged. By in large, our friends were some of the people whose apartments were spared from damage. For everyone else, my warm thoughts go out to you during this period. It seems like during times of crises I realize the difficulty to string together language that consoles and supports others. To all my friends in New York, my thoughts go out to you. If you need a box of any vegan treats send me a message and they will be in the mail.

That being said, Monday we were stuck inside in Boston. I spent most my day catching up on rest from a work event Sunday evening. I thought it would be nice to occupy my time by baking up some cookies. We spent time inside together catching up on our week and cooking food together. For some reasons cookies in the oven & lazy days inside remind me of home.

I have been gone from California for a quite a bit of time now. I haven’t truly been home to stay (at least) for a very long time. I miss California some days, the family & all my friends. That’s the interesting thing about life after college. You start to come to terms with the idea that you are building your own home, complete with family & friends. My sister has been sending me ultrasound pictures lately of my future nephew and every time I ask my partner to make out the face, the small toes, and hands for me because I can’t see them myself.

We are back in Boston. I make deliveries to everyone’s bedroom of fresh cookies. I see their faces light up as they are still in pajamas or waking up over tea even though it’s 2 pm. I’m standing in the kitchen staring out at the storm wondering if the rain will ever stop. Wondering if I ever imagined myself 22 years old in my partner’s house baking vegan cookies in Boston. Wondering whether the cookies taste good.

I think of how big the word family feels tucked inside my lips.

– Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip* Cookies –

Preparation: 30 min.
Cooking: 12-14 min.
Yields: 2 dozen cookies.

ingredients.
-2 cups whole wheat flour
-1 tsp baking soda
-3/4 tsp sea salt
-1 cup chunky unsalted peanut butter
-2 tbs coconut cream
-3/4 cup pure maple syrup
-2 tsp vanilla extract
-1/2 cup almond milk

-1 package fair-trade chocolate chips

directions.

Preheat the over to 350°. Line a baking pan with parchment paper & set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, mix together flower, baking soda & sea salt. In a large bowl, mix together  peanut butter, coconut cream, maple syrup, vanilla extract & almond milkMix the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients, add the flour mixture 1/4 at a time. Once it is thoroughly mixed add chocolate chips.

Spoon (1 tbs) onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper & press down with fork. Sprinkle sea salt & sugar in the raw over the top. Bake for 12-14 min. Cool for 5 min. Dip in a glass of almond milk & enjoy!!!

For other great cookie recipes visit

Fall Changes.

Hello everybody! Thanks for following along the last couple of months as I have tried out new themes, names & recipes. I have been working on changing the name of this blog for sometime now. Although Project Roots served me well for awhile; to be honest, I’m not quite sure where it came from. It was a conversation with a friend of mine when we were talking about making a completely different blog. I have been itching for a name change lately and I have been trying to figure out just what would work for the next chapter of this blog.

I started brainstorming words that mattered to me, ingredients that I enjoy cooking with, and my thoughts on how food brings people together. I’m trying out this one, Tea & Stories: nourishing each other & caring for the earth. It seems like the bulk of my inspiration comes over morning tea, whether I am sitting alone in my house or conversing with friends. Tea is a staple in my life.

It means tranquility, community & love.

When I was living in Hawai’i with my friend Chloé, tea meant everything. It meant family, conversation, and nourishment. After a busy day of running & surfing & hiking we would come back home to sit around the dining room table & have tea late into the night.

In Boston, this ritual has become a way to bring people together & to focus my energy & thoughts. I hope this space becomes like a good cup of tea shared amongst people who you love or ideas that inspire you. Through this space I hope that we can share stories that will bring us together (make us smile, think & dream) & recipes that fill us up with wholesome (vegan) food!

Feel free to send me an email at teandstories@gmail.com or connect with me on facebook!

Tofu Omeletes

Try & try & try & try again. At least that’s what it took to finally make a tofu omelet. Last night, my friend Sasha, a fellow veg & blogger, crashed on the pullout couch. We tucked in early after scarfing down some late night leftovers from my meal with my good friends Bridget & Ian. It seems as people are coming together over food at my house these days. Whether I am whipping up something in the morning for myself or headed to the farmer’s market to get some early fall inspiration – there seems to always be a couple pair of hands and feet in the kitchen.

I remember earlier in the summer I was up at Sasha’s apartment and she baked breaded vegan eggplant and we sat around eating & chatting until we lost track of time. We both graduated back in May & there have been overwhelming transitions in our lives. I forgot to mention, I also worked with Sasha for the past eight months, we lived in the same apartment complex, and shared an office – we have been joined at the hip since May. I haven’t had the opportunity to see her lately now that we don’t share the same physical space. It was nice to have her here. To chat over all the things we haven’t caught up on & to lounge in the dining room over warm tofu omelets.

Around noon Sasha started to get ready for work and there I was, in full unemployment splendor, on the couch in my pajamas at noon pouring over job applications, cover letters, and resumes. My phone rings from a blocked number and it happened, a job offer. The one reason I feel like I have been holding my breath for months. It seemed like the perfect morning for this – sun shining through my windows & a good friend at my side.

The last few months have taught me more lessons than I can count, but I know this. The people in my life matter. Every successful & failed vegan meal, every late night drink & brief conversation has helped me to get through this tough period. It has been the people in my life that helped me to get through this last period and I thank each and every one of them for that. This week, there will be pumpkins carved, appetizers made, and roaming around the Boston Vegetarian Food Festival.

To everyone who I have talked to on the phone, had over for dinner or life chats, and/or given me a hug or a brief word of encouragement, thank you. I could not have done it all without you.

–Tofu Omelet–

Preparation Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Yields: 2-3 omelets

ingredients.
-1 14 oz package soft tofu, partially drained
-2 cloves of garlic
-2 Tbs nutritional yeast
-2 Tbs olive oil
-1/4 tsp ground mustard
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 cup hazelnut flour
-1 Tbs arrowroot
-1/4 cup water

filling:
-1/2 yellow onion
-1/2 roma tomato
-1 cup swiss chard
, chopped

directions.
Slice tofu into 1″ squares. Place in food processor & puree on high until smooth. Add garlic, nutritional yeast, olive oil, mustard seed & salt until completely mixed. Make sure at this point that you reach a smooth consistency. If you don’t, you will have a clump mess that won’t produce a consistent texture.

Add hazelnut flour, arrowroot, & water. Mix thoroughly so that the tofu mixture & the flour is completely combined. The consistency should be similar to that of pancake batter. The original recipe called for chickpea flour; however, I just used whatever I had in my cabinet. In came out nutty & delicious, but I had to play with the measurements in regards to water. Make sure that the consistency is thin enough to spread.

Pour batter into a non-stick pan & cook on medium until golden brown on the bottom side. The top side will be golden & semi-dry. Place whichever vegetables you have chosen to fill the omelet with & fold top half over onto the contents. Let cook 3-5 minutes. Remove from the heat & pair with sprouts & hot sauce! Enjoy!

*This recipe was adapted from the Post-Punk Kitchen, Tofu Omelet Recipe.*

White Bean Hummus Recipe

I remember when I first discovered my food processor in high school. I turned everything in our kitchen into a puree or a nut butter. I spent an entire summer dedicated to this process. I no longer had access to a food processor at college & lost the obsession.

Throughout this moving process I have tried to buy as little as possible for the purpose of being both environmentally conscious and (let’s be honest) thrifty. I have been using Freecycle & Craigslist to try to get things for my house. The other day, a lady was giving away a chair (in great condition), and when I showed up she had a pile of things in her house that she couldn’t take with her. I scored a bunch of great things in the process, but the most exciting item – a new food processor.

I have been really excited to have it back in my life and I am back at it again, as though I was 18 and just discovering the art of turning solids into a mushy mess. I wanted to start with a twist on hummus, which I used to make by the barrel.

I made this yesterday afternoon to dip vegetables in for lunch. It’s been a long week & I was craving something fresh and simple. This morning, I am taking care of a few cats for some friends. They are stretched out on the couch in Sunday morning laziness. I am reflecting on a great night with friends, that consisted of too much vegan muddy buddies and root vegetables.

This morning, I am filled with gratitude.

— Simple White Bean Hummus

Preparation Time: 30 min. (building in time for playlist changes)

ingredients.

2 cups (16 oz) white beans, canned or dried & drained
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1/4 yellow onion, chopped
- 1/2 lemon, juice
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp dried rosemary
- cracked pepper & salt to taste

directions.

Drain & rise white beans. Place them in the food processor. Add chopped garlic, onion & olive oil. Puree mixture until mostly smooth. Add lemon juice, cumin & rosemary. Puree until you reach the consistency you would like. I left mine a little chunky just because I like the texture of a thicker mixture. Feel free to puree on high if you like smoother hummus. Add cracked pepper & salt to taste. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil & cayenne.

*I toasted bread from my last recipe & cut fresh red, yellow, and green peppers to go with this.*