◊ A Left Turn Or Something

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Dear mom,

You got your wish: I’ll be home for Rosh Hashana.

My plans took a swift left turn last week… another plane ticket, another commitment; it’s real… I’m moving to Jerusalem. A year of hummus and salty cheese is reason enough.  I’m nervous and I’m laughing about it.

My deliberation over the decision was all-consuming as usual. But I learned something important: that my gut is a more informative organ than my brain. It’s smarter than the projections cast by rationale – it told me that right now I need nourishment and connection and new territory. Even though I worry about long-term stability (straight roads put me to sleep, so I seek twists and turns that sometimes just become rocky bumps what is wrong with me?!), I’m okay with stepping onto a wayward path right now. I don’t care about the weirdness.

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I’ll be home through the holidays and am excited for the Esrei Yamim Cleanse. I hope that more people join this year since we now have a whole Cleanse category in our recipe index. Can we make our Rosh Hashana menu as cleanse-friendly as possible? I’ve been practicing with the vitamix (since our reunion we’ve been inseparable – it’s pathetic) and last week, I made beautiful purees that will be perfect for Rosh Hashana appetizers and Esrei Yamim snacks. No offense – I think my beets are prettier than yours.

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I don’t have much time left to trash the house and destroy the liquor cabinet before you come home from your vacation and we hit the kitchen hard. I’m ashamed that I didn’t do more bad things while you were out of town, but I accept defeat: my parents are better at drinking alcohol than me and my friends are too good/sparse. But I still have a few hours left…

Safe travels home!

xo,

Shaina

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Razzle-dazzle Savory Beet Puree

IMG_8926This puree is creamy, earthy, deep and freaking rad. My favorite breakfast lately is a rice cake with beet puree, yogurt, avocado and salt and pepper.

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It’s also great with apples, sandwiches and vinegary salad dressings… it will be a fabulous accompaniment to honey during the rounds of Rosh Hashana apples n’ honey. And it’s so pretty!

  • 1 cup raw walnuts (or half cup walnuts, half cup cashews)
  • 2 medium beets
  • sea salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste

Wrap unpeeled, whole beets in foil and roast for 40 – 50 minutes. Allow to cool and peel (the peel should slip right off). Blend with remaining ingredients in food processor until a thick, psychedelic paste is formed. So simple!

Zesty Spinach Puree

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Perfect as a cracker dip or over roasted veggies.

  • 1 avocado
  • 1/2 cup walnuts or cashews
  • 16 oz fresh, washed spinach
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • salt
  • pepper

Add all ingredients to food process and puree until desired consistency.

Perfect Cinnamon Vanilla ‘Cleanse’ Pudding

I’ve been experimenting with a cleanse-friendly pudding recipe for almost two years now – I’ve tried it with avocado, chia, flax, cashews, almonds, dates, apples…. the variations are countless. I finally got it down to the perfect result. And the recipe requires just a few basic ingredients. I have two versions to share with you: vanilla and chocolate.

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  • 1 Cup Walnuts
  • 2 Cups Rolled Oats
  • 8 de-stemmed dried figs
  • dash of cinnamon
  • tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup warm water

Add all ingredients to food processor and pulse until blended. Add more warm water if needed. Consistency should be like creamy peanut butter.

Delicious warm or cold, this “pudding” is so healthy that you can eat it for breakfast… it’s just like a bowl of oatmeal with dried fruits and nuts! It’s also satisfying as a dessert. Try it with fresh berries or peaches and a dollop of greek yogurt for a filling sweet treat.

Perfect Chocolate ‘Cleanse’ Pudding

  • 1 Cup Walnuts
  • 2 Cups Rolled Oats
  • 8 destemmed dried figs
  • dash of cinnamon
  • tsp vanilla
  • 4 tbs good cocoa powder

Layer onto a rice cake with peanut or almond butter for a healthier take on the Reese’s Cup! Or stir into greek yogurt and berries for a special treat.

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Black Sesame Amaranth Crackers

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  • 3/4 Cup raw amaranth
  • 1/3 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/3 cup black sesame seeds
  • sea salt to taste1 tsp
  • olive oil

Preheat oven to 170 degrees.

Cook amaranth (bring one part amaranth to two parts water to boil and then reduce to simmer… it takes about 20 minutes). It should be a sticky, gooey consistency… like thick oatmeal. Mix cooked amaranth with remaining ingredients. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and spread amaranth mixture into thin layers, using the back of a spatula to even it out (I covered the back of my spatula with olive oil so it wouldn’t stick to the amaranth mixture).

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Place in oven (convection bake setting is preferable) at 170 degrees for 35 – 60 minutes, depending on how thin your layer is. Remove from oven when browned as crisp. Allow to cool and gently break into cracker-size pieces. They should easily lift from the parchment paper.

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These crackers are super healthy – vegan, gluten free, etc – and great for dipping into purees or crumbling over salad or yogurt bowls.

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♦ Tzereis Gezundereit…or Carpe Diem

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Dear Shaina,

What a role reversal for you to be driving us to the airport to send us off on an adventure!  No guilt or fear…maybe a little worry…worry that you might get lonely or scared, especially since you’re still afraid to go into the basement alone! But you sound good and I am thrilled for you…not even the slightest bit concerned about the state of the kitchen.  Out of sight, out of mind!

I am happy for your comfort in cooking and sharing with friends and using the house for what it is meant for: a place to enjoy, to eat and drink and be with friends and family.  As Bubbe used to say, Tzereis Gezundereit: tear it up in good health!  Not literally, of course.

She  meant that the things we have shouldn’t be saved and preserved for some later pleasure…use what you have, enjoy it today and share it with the people in your life.  It was the Bubbe version of Carpe Diem, plus the acknowledgement that most of our stuff will outlast us, hence, tear it up while you can.

picking peaches on the streets of our neighborhood

picking peaches on the streets of our neighborhood

We all seem to have taken that message to heart.  Here we are in Portland indulging in food, wine, and the distinctive sights and sounds that live in an environment that seems to be fearless when it comes to the expression of individual style, creativity and preference for just about anything…as long as it doesn’t hurt your neighbor or the environment.  We are drinking ( we are tasting a lot of wine) this city in like parched nomads emerging from the desert…and it is delicious!

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There are hundreds of neighborhoods (and we have hit many of them on this trip) each boasting unique flavors and personalities.  The walkable streets, lined with bike lanes and crosswalks and closely packed craftsman style homes are lushly adorned with Portland greenery and fruit trees… small independently owned coffee shops, French bakeries and taquerias, bars and ice cream parlors, vintage stores and shops displaying the work of artisans of every talent and skill (dress shops complete with sewing machine and seamstress, old fashioned barber shops, weavers, painters and jewelers) are everywhere. The costumes on the street are wide open…from biking shorts to hiking boots to retro flowered dresses to…well, anything goes in this town, really.  The tattoos are  bold and sported by people of all ages and lifestyles. Freedom and independence feeds the creative spirit…and the entrepreneur.

We followed a llama into a jewellery boutique

We followed a llama into a jewellery boutique

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We have shared  good wine, food and conversation with our new dear friends from Portland and look forward to showing them Portland’s polar opposite twin city in the South when they visit us.  We’ll try to break them in slowly.

Today we drove to Ashland, home of the Oregon Shakespeare Theater and saw a production of Midsummer Night’s Dream set in 1964 at a Catholic Parochial School. Tomorrow on to Napa.

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The luxury of our trip reminds me that now is our time.  Even old couples need some time alone in a fresh space every now and then to remind them of who they are…separately and together. We are seizing the day…and hope to continue to do so together for a very long time.

Breakfast on our porch

Breakfast on our porch

Soon it will be the holidays. I saw your post for the cleanse.  Although I haven’t done much cooking (not that I haven’t been eating), the one thing I did make is cleanse-friendly.  I tried to replicate a beet dish that we had at a Peruvian restaurant in Portland.  I thought mine tasted good, but definitely didn’t have quite the same visual appeal.

Everyday there are new places and sites and experiences I want to share, but enough is enough! I am looking forward to coming home and returning to the normal order of things…me doting on you for the last few weeks of your home-stay…you preparing to leave and being annoyed with my stickiness.

I miss you already. Even though I know its not easy for us to live in the same house.  I still miss being around you…being a part of the moments of your every day.  I know these days are short-lived and that soon, I will be hearing about your life through the wonders of technology, again.

We’re off for a wine tour in Napa, so I better send this now because I am sure I won’t feel much like focusing after we return.

Love,
Mom
xoxoxoxoxoxooxoxo

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Beet Salad with Cilantro Chimichurri Sauce
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  • 2 Red Beets, medium sized
  • 2 Golden Beets, medium sized

Wrap beets in aluminum foil and roast in a 375° oven for 30 -45 minutes or until done (able to be pierced easily with a knife)
Slice thinly, keeping red and yellow beets in separate bowls

Beet Dressing

  • 2 limes, juice and zest
  • 1 Tblsp olive oil
  • A few drops of sesame oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Mix together and adjust to taste.

Cilantro Chimichurri Sauce

  • 1 cup (packed) fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup (packed) fresh Italian parsley
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • Jalapeno or habanero pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Process all ingredients in a food processor.  Adjust seasonings to taste.

The restaurant version

The restaurant version

Arrange thinly sliced beets in alternating layers of red, golden, red beets on a platter. Pour lime sesame dressing over beets.
Drip Cilantro Chimichurri sauce along edges or center of beets.

Garnish with fresh cucumber , cut in thin julienne strips and fresh chopped cilantro or parsley.  Serve cold or at room temperature as an appetizer with a fresh baguette or on a bed of arugula as a salad with dinner.

◊ I’m Back

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Dear mom,

I don’t have much to say. Being back home is weird. I dither around preparations towards next steps, and my friends from high school are doctors and lawyers and married. I returned from a time warp – why do things progress without me? – and I am nothing.

My job-for-now is my saving grace (though it seems just opposite for you). I prepare meals for a friend braving chemotherapy. Her dietary shift omits dairy, processed foods, soy, various legumes, cruciferous vegetables, etc, and she only eats organic. I drift through my days assembling creative menus and exploring new ingredients that yield foods tasty and healthy. It’s indispensably meditative as I mull over how I’ll get to where I need to be next (on time) and what that means exactly.

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But I know my presence in your kitchen has totally rocked your boat: you take every opportunity to complain about me completely trashing your house and destroying your kitchen. I leave my sneakers and gym bag in the hallway; plates and jars are out of place; my clothes are on the bathroom floor; there is crusted yogurt on the fridge door-handle and drops of almond butter in hard to reach places; the salt is in the wrong cubby. There’s a reason that our site’s tagline ends with the word distance.

It’s usually my job to initiate distance, but you stole away on your West Coast adventure yesterday. How does it feel? I perceived some guilt (or fear?) as you left me to man the kitchen all by myself. But that’s your problem. For me, it’s a dream come true. Even though I’m weary about navigating your kitchen drawers without you (it took me 30 minutes to find the box grater this morning!), the space is welcomed. Please, conquer your retirement unsullied by guilt, and I’ll keep my fingers crossed that I won’t have to go to the basement while you’re away (still the scariest place I’ve ever been).

Back to the kitchen! I’ll try to minimize the havoc as much as possible.

xo,
Shaina
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Roasted Cherry Almond Millet Mini Muffins (gluten and dairy free!)
Prep time: 45 minutes
Serves 10 – 15

  • 1  cup almond mealIMG_8751_Fotor
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal (i like to use blue cornmeal)
  • 1/2 c flax meal
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp (sea) salt
  • 1/3 c molasses
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 c almond milk
  • 4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup millet, lightly toasted*
  • 1 cup roasted cherries*

Last time I wrecked the kitchen, these crunchy, gluten-free Roasted Cherry Almond Millet Muffins were born –slightly sweet and perfect for a filling breakfast or a satisfying midday snack, they were inspired by a search for a healthy treat that I could make for my new “client.”  Now I’m hooked on millet! A crunchy muffin is like ice cream with sprinkles.. eating it is just more fun! Top these gems with almond butter or yogurt in the morning for a healthy, fiber-full, protein-packed start to the day.

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Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the almond meal, cornmeal, flax meal, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, molasses, olive oil, almond milk, honey, almond and vanilla extracts together.  Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until loose batter is formed. Gently fold in the millet and cherries until combined. Fill the muffin liners and bake on middle rack for 15 – 20 minutes. Let cool before serving.

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*Roasted Cherries: Toss 2 cups of halved and pitted cherries with a pinch of salt, 2 tsp olive oil, 1 tsp honey and splash of lemon. Spread them evenly on parchment paper and roast for 20 – 25 minutes on 350 degrees. For the purpose of this recipe, feel free to substitute strawberries, peaches or other summer fruits for cherries.
*Toasted millet: Spread millet evenly on baking sheet and stick in oven or toaster oven at 350 degrees for 15 – 20 minutes. To make sure your millet muffins are perfectly crunchy, toast it half an hour (at least) before using it for baking so that it can cool… It becomes more firm once it’s cool.

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Blueberry Almond Galette
Serves 6
Prep time: 40 min
Adapted from Sprouted Kitchen’s Cherry Almond Galette

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Ingredients for Dough:

  • 3/4 cup red hard wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup rye flour
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 4 oz. / 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut in cubes
  • 2 tsp. lemon juicephoto 2(6)
  • 2 Tbsp. yogurt
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • 3 Tbsp. ice water

Ingredients for Filling:

  • 3 cups blueberries
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp. corn starch, almond flour or wheat flour
  • dash fresh grated nutmeg
  • dash cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup raw sugar
  • 1 egg
  • splash of water
  • turbinado sugar, optional

Our blueberry picking venture was pathetic… My memories of bushes generously bearing cloyingly sweet, plump blueberries were tainted by this season’s scarce branches. I blame this season’s monsoon-like weather for our meager bucket of water-logged, almost rotting berries. Usually, I’d season freshly picked berries with lemon juice and spices and bake them under a simple oat crumble.

But this summer’s berry batch needed hardcore TLC. I was drawn to a galette recipe on Sprouted Kitchen because of the almond extract in the dough recipe. So I substituted rye and hard red wheat flour for their spelt and white flour combo, and, duh, blueberries + appropriate spices instead of cherries.
The dough turned out delish and, served with ice cream, the galette eased my distress over this summer’s wretched crop. But I still prefer my berries sweetened by the earth and sun – simple, ample, untouched and undoctored. Oh well.. there’s always next summer.

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First, mix all dry ingredients. Second, quickly work the cold butter into the flour mixture. One tip that my mom taught me is to shred the frozen butter into the flour with a cheese grater. It makes it easier to combine in with the flour. Smush the butter into the flour with your fingers, making small pea-sized clumps. In a separate dish, mix lemon juice, yogurt, almond extract and water, and add it to the dough mixture until combined. Do not over-mix! Form a ball and wrap it up – chill in the fridge for at least an hour or a day or two in advance.
Heat the oven to 400′ and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Wash blueberries and mix with spices, salt, lemon juice, flour and sugar.

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On a floured surface, roll out the tough to a a 12 inch circle (doesn’t have to be perfect… clearly). Put the dough on a baking sheet and pile the blueberries in the center (leave roughly 2-3 inches of the outer dough empty). Fold the dough towards the center, pinching it together to make it stick. Pull it tight and thin.
Mix egg and brush it on the outside of the dough. Then sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake on the middle rack for 40 – 45 minutes until browned. Serve with vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of almond butter.

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