♦ Dear Shaina

Dear Shaina,

What do you mean…”ALL IS FINE” … rats in your oven, or anywhere thereabouts, does not sound fine to me! What!? You haven’t heard of exterminators, cleaning crews, cute guys who wouldn’t mind clearing out dead rats for a good home-cooked meal (albeit a vegetarian, raw food, made-up-Shaina-inspired concoction)? I know I haven’t been the best clean-nut model of virtue, but there are no rats in my kitchen!

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PLEASE… Do something about the rats!!  Do it for your Bubbe, who WAS a clean-nut model of virtue!

I was actually quite inspired by your creative cooking when you were home for Passover. It’s too bad you couldn’t take more of it back home with you because we actually had enough food for the entire week of Passover. But we did run out of desserts and Dad wanted another clementine cake.

So, I hunted around for your leftover ingredients and came up with about a half cup of that $14 a pound almond meal (some mother’s will buy anything their only child asks them for) and one short of the required number of clementines. Luckily, I had just restocked my supply of whole raw almonds (a whole lot cheaper than almond meal) and I had some leftover fresh limes from the Seder. So I decided to do a little recipe modification of your clementine cake, in addition to the recipe modification I had already made for Passover.

Dad actually liked this lime and ground almond version even better than the straightforward clementine/almond meal one you made. The ground almonds, which were not as fine as the meal, added a little more texture and “body” to the cake.  I toasted slivered almonds in a little butter and sugar and sprinkled them on top which also added a nice touch.  Dad thought he was eating coffee cake.

So here’s the newly modified version of Passover or anytime gluten free Clementine Cake…and a picture, of course!

Love, Mom xoxoxoxoxoox

Clementine Cake

Flourless Passover Cake (Gluten Free):

  • 4-5 clementines – about a pound
  • 6 eggs separated
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2  1/3 cups ground almonds (grind whole almonds in a processor or use almond meal)
  • Optional Topping
  • 1 tablespoon butter or margarine           
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons slivered almonds
  • Preheat oven to 375

Put the clementines in a pot with cold water to cover, bring to a boil, and cook for 2 hours. Drain and, when cool, cut each clementine in half and remove the seeds. Then finely chop the skins, pith, and fruit in the processor (or by hand, of course).

Grease and line an 8 or 9 inch springform pan with parchment paper or for a no-grease, easy removal option, use a silpat cake pan as pictured.

Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and set aside the whites.  You can then add all the other ingredients, egg yolks, sugar and ground almonds, to the food processor and mix. Or, you can beat the egg yolks by hand adding the sugar and almonds, mixing well, then finally adding the chopped clementines to the egg yolk, sugar, almond mixture.

Beat the egg whites until standing peaks form.  Gently and thoroughly fold  into the clementine mixture.  Pour the cake mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 30 to 50 minutes, when a skewer will come out clean; you might have to cover the cake with foil after about 20 to 30 minutes to stop the top from over-browning.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool, in the pan on a rack. When the cake is cold, you can take it out of the pan. 

For an optional topping melt butter or parve margarine in a small pan.  Add sugar and melt into margarine.  Add slivered almonds and sauté over low heat until lightly browned.  Sprinkle sugared almonds over top of cake.  Chill and serve!


Limes or lemons can be used to supplement clementines if you don’t have quite enough clementines on hand, in which case the sugar is increased to 1  1/4 cups.

Thin-skinned oranges can also be substituted for clementines.

Whole almonds ground in a processor provide more texture to the cake than the finely ground almond meal. 

◊ Dear Mom

Dear Mom,

You’re going to be grossed out.

When I got back from Passover, I noticed a dead animal smell coming from the kitchen.  I asked one of my 4 other housemates about it — she acknowledged the smell, teased me about my reluctance to search for the rotting animal (what if I had found it!?), and recapped her weekend for me. I went to the grocery store, unpacked my things, and went to bed. The smell got worse.

We have mice.  It’s fine. We all signed a waiver saying that we were warned about the dangerous quantity of lead in the building. It’s fine.  My floor is caving in. It’s fine. And there are five of us – so if I can’t stomach the removal a dead animal… it’s fine.

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The dead animal smell originated behind the oven. Did a mouse scurry past while I was roasting beets, burn it’s little feet, get stuck and die? I just bought a large green cabbage to broil – if I turned on the oven, would the little guy turn to ashes?

I couldn’t bring myself to open the oven door.

But I had a cabbage and it was Passover and every grocery store in DC sold out of matzah. So hungry!

I stood as far away from the oven as possible, and chopped the cabbage into small shreds.  I added pink lady apples, raw walnuts, apple cider vinegar, poppy seeds, and some India-inspired spice.  So tangy and spicy and crunchy! It was dinner and lunch (with yogurt stirred in to cool the spices) and then more dinner.

The dead animal smell disappeared after 3 days. All is fine.

But I still couldn’t bear the thought of a dead mouse on an oven rack. I couldn’t be the first to use it. So I had fun with raw-inspired concoctions while waiting for one of the other housemates to use the oven and risk mouse discovery. When I walked in on Arielle safely baking something, I’d never felt so relieved. I pulled out my beets, wrapped them in foil, and loaded them to roast.  How did I go without beets for a whole three days? It’s fine.

Hope you can make this in a more comfortable environment.



Safety Slaw

Safety Slaw: It ain’t normal

  • Half head of green cabbage, shredded
  • Splash of apple cider vinegar
  • Handful of raw (crushed) walnuts
  • 1 pink lady apple
  • handful parsley
  • a few chives
  • juice of one lemon
  • sprinkle of cumin
  • sprinkle of turmeric
  • cayenne pepper to taste
  • 1 tbs poppy seed
  • half bunch of fresh coriander or cilantro
  • dash of sea salt
  • Greek yogurt to taste

Mix it all together and enjoy!