Tomorrow I leave home again. My direction is just as unclear as the last time I left (and the time before that)… the difference is that I’ve become more comfortable with not knowing things. This time, there’s less fear, less adrenaline, less newness attached to stuffing suitcases with this-and-that for life with clouded purpose in a foreign country. A sack of my favorite teas, a quick-dry towel, sneakers and good socks, a down pillow, four cameras (yes I need them all), ear plugs, chocolate chips for the plane, etc, etc… I know what I need.
Living with you and dad has been (uhh… how can a 25 year old with overbearing/hysterical parents word this kindly?)… motivating… but I will miss the small life I’ve rebuilt in Birmingham during these 3 months. I’m already waxing nostalgic over my cooking-gig guided by “clients’” health needs, luxurious ingredients and big counter space along with all the other stuff: family and old friends, long runs through wooded trails, the first ever AL organic cotton, this company. Yes, pour-over coffee joints, Villager Yoga and hipster popsicles (requisite to any urban wannabe) are proof that Birmingham is rising.
Thank you for the luxury to return home and recharge. Each time I leave home I feel sort of like I need to resume fight-mode… Tomorrow I’ll muster a new energy and the next day I’ll turn it up a notch to navigate a new place, new language, new people, new foods (!), new projects. What am I getting into?
Tomorrow opens a new chapter. When I sound ambivalent about the direction of my life, others assure me that I’ll figure it out soon. I’m 99.5% sure that I won’t because what does that even mean?
I’m wary of veering from the path I’ve built to move to Jerusalem because why? But I’m ready… at least for some good hummus.
These recipes honor the luxury of home-life. I was never able to afford porcini or any other fancy mushrooms when I was out on my own (well… my priorities weren’t right) so I did some mega experimentation at home. I made two dishes with a variety of dried mushrooms (chanterelle, cremini, shitake…) – both vegan and both satisfying: Vegan Mushroom Risotto and Hearty Mushroom Farro. Porcini and chanterelle mushrooms were my fav with intensely earthy, deep meaty flavors. The farro was the best dish of the summer… hearty and toothsome (Arielle taught me that word, isn’t it good?). It’s even better topped with creamy cashew cheese, a rich vegan treat. A pairing of the two = the most luxurious meal ever.
- 1 cup dried porcini mushrooms
- 6 cups salted water (or vegetable stock)
- 1 1/2 cups farro
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1 white onion, chopped
- 1 lb fresh portabello, shitake, cremini or baby bella mushrooms
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- good black pepper, freshly ground
- Parsley, chopped
Put mushrooms in water and bring to boil. As soon as water boils, lower heat to simmer for 15-20 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in large skillet. Add the onions and cook until translucent about 2-4 minutes. Add the garlic, fresh mushrooms (not the porcinis), salt and thyme. Cooking (stir often) about 8-15 minutes, until mushrooms are tender and onions are brown.
On a separate skillet, heat a drop of olive oil. Cook farro in olive oil until fragrant (about 3 minutes) while stirring.
Remove porcini mushrooms from water with a strainer, rinse, chop, and add to mushroom and onion mix.
Add farro to mushroom broth (you should have about 5 cups) and bring to simmer for about 45 minutes or until tender. The grains should be chewy and splayed. If water remains, continue to cook until grain is splayed. When ready, combine mushroom/onion mixture with farro. Remove thyme sprigs and add plenty of fresh ground black pepper. Garnish with parsley (thanks for the idea, mom) and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese if you please. Stir and serve warm!
Creamy Vegan Cashew Cheese
- 2 C raw (unsalted) cashews or cashew pieces (pieces are usually cheaper), soaked overnight, then drained
- 1/3 C nutritional yeast (optional)
- 1/2 tsp good sea salt
- spices (you can do ANYTHING! For the mushroom farro, I’d stick with black pepper, but I’ve used a variety of herbs to liven things up in the past. Last time I put in a spicy smoked flavoring… delish!)
- 1/2 cup water… more as needed
To soak cashews, cover with water and leave for 6 hours or overnight. When ready, drain cashews from water and add cashews and other ingredients to food processor. Puree all ingredients until creamy. The consistency should be like peanut butter, but add water if you want it looser. Chill for four hours before serving. If you like a firmer cashew cheese, strain pureed mixture in a cheese cloth overnight. Discard extra liquid and serve cold.