Thursday, January 16, 2014

raw kelp noodles with peanut sauce

For the past few years, January has been a month of self-reflection for me. A big part of this is clean eating and abstaining from toxins like caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco. This year, I decided to give a raw diet a try. I was really reluctant to do this. I thought it would be difficult and expensive. But I was wrong.

I absolutely love it. I've never felt so amazing in my life. I've been unusually happy for this time of year, I have tons of energy, and my insides just feel good. I don't know how I'll feel at the end of the month, but right now I am considering staying on a high raw diet indefinitely.

I've been going crazy trying different dishes. And for the most part they've been delicious. This weekend I was craving pad Thai, so I made a raw version. It was absolutely amazing. I used my own raw peanut butter, but you could use any raw nut butter in its place. This would also be amazing with almost any fresh vegetable. Zucchini, bell peppers, cucumber, or whatever you have on hand. I'll definitely be trying some different combinations over the next few weeks.

raw kelp noodles with peanut sauce

1 package raw kelp noodles
1 carrot, cut into thin strips
1 handful of spinach
1 handful of chopped red cabbage

2 tbsp nama shoyu
2 tbsp raw nut butter
2 tbsp fresh cilantro
1 tbsp agave
1 garlic clove
1 inch of fresh ginger, peeled
juice of 1 lime

red pepper flakes, to garnish

Combine kelp noodles, carrots, and spinach in a large bowl.

In a food processor, mix all of the sauce ingredients until smooth.

Pour the sauce over the noodles and vegetables and garnish with red pepper flakes.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

so long, 2013

2013 was not the best year for me. I've had some health problems, went through a tough break-up, and, most recently I lost my grandmother.

But it wasn't all hard.

I have so many memories of beautiful things too. It's not always easy to capture them. Sometimes it feels like trying to make out a reflection in rippling water. Only distorted glimpses remain, but I treasure them.

Climbing a spiraling staircase to the top of an old lighthouse and taking in the endless lake on one side and endless trees on the other.

Running so far that it feels like you've left your body and you could run forever.

Lying on the bow of a boat watching the wind blow through the sails.

Carefree road trips, without schedules or plans.

The birth of my tiny red-haired niece.

My hope for 2014 is that it's more of those little happy moments and so much less heartache and loss. My priorities and interests have all seemed to have changed so much over the last year. At first I discounted them, because they were different. But now I'm going to embrace them and allow them to become valid in my mind.

Happy New Year, internet.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

winter weekends

Winter is the most bittersweet of seasons.

There are times when it feels like magic. When the snow is falling softly and you're walking in the woods and the world looks untouched. When there's a house to return to with a toasty fire and strong coffee.

But even the most magical winter days feel shrouded in a sort of sadness that I can't really explain. I suppose it's the knowledge that this cold, dark world will continue for months.

I spent the weekend making things. I went to my mother's house in the country. It's on a little spring-fed lake, which is particularly scenic when it's frozen over.

Saturday, we canned dill pickles and made marmalade.Sunday morning, we ate cornmeal waffles with bourbon syrup. We went into town and traipsed about the antique stores. I bought tiny old-timey tourist trinkets that remind me of people who are too far away. As if drinking from a frosted glass could somehow bring them closer to me. Later we gathered herbs and pine boughs and made tiny wreaths.

I returned to Detroit and hung a tiny wreath on my door and listened to a Bing Crosby Christmas record I found at an antique shop. I settled into the sort of peaceful sadness that winter seems to bring.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

simple autumn wedding cake

Alcohol often leads to a surge of confidence in people. So it's no surprise that I agreed to make a wedding cake for my friend Holly after a night at the bar. I woke up the next day with the sinking feeling of making a promise I couldn't keep. But I decided to stick to my word and go for it.

I'm incredibly fortunate to have laid back friends. Over the last few years, I've been in quite a few weddings and all of the brides have been wonderful. Rather than throw high-pressure, high-maintenance events, they've had simple, beautiful, non-traditional days that I will remember forever. So with no direction and knowing that any attempt would be appreciated I went forth. 

My first attempt was a ginger, carrot cake. Another girlfriend and I tried it out one Friday evening a few months before the wedding in her new house.

It was an utter disaster.

We made the cake and put it in the oven. Then we talked in the kitchen over a few glasses of wine while it was baking. At some point, I leaned back against the oven and the door fell off. We scrambled to keep it in place, at least as long as the cake was still baking and managed to rig it to stay on.

We managed to scrape through disaster number one only to find that the cake was super crumbly and fell apart when we removed it from the pan.

So we scratched that recipe.

My second attempt went far better. This one, a carrot apple cake, didn't break anything and stayed together wonderfully. I brought a taste to the bride and groom and they gave it the green light. So that was that.

I have been utterly in love with naked cakes lately. There's something so simple and natural looking about them and I prefer the sparse frosting. I made the cakes the day before. The morning of the wedding I frosted them and headed to Eastern Market to buy fresh flowers to decorate. The reception was at the Gaelic League, so I brought the cake there and threw some flowers on top.

It wasn't perfect looking, but it didn't have to be. Love is always a little flawed.

simple autumn wedding cake

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups granulated cane sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups grated carrots
1 1/2 cups grated granny smith apple
1 cup chopped raw walnuts

Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease three 9-inch round cake pans and coat in a light layer of flour. Mix all of the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Combine oil and eggs in a small bowl, then add to dry mixture. Add the carrots, apples, and walnuts until just mixed.

Divide the batter into the three pans and cook for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Place on a cooling rack for 10 minutes and then remove cakes from pan to cool completely.

*I frosted these cakes with a simple buttercream. The recipe will make a three layer cake. I made two batches to get four layers. I had no extra frosting, but two leftover layers of cake. Fortunately, this cake is still delicious without frosting.

Friday, November 8, 2013

where to begin?

When I moved to Michigan I thought all of the change was done. I was engaged and had a job and a tiny house with a garden. But life is never that easy. And I was miserable.

It took me far too long to realize it. I hurt people who didn't need to be hurt and made promises I couldn't keep. And when everything fell apart I had an overwhelming sense of guilt that seemed to crush my entire being.

But I'm not a villain. What I did was incredibly brave. It is often easier to just let life happen to us than to make the choices that will make us happy. I've finally realized that what other people think or feel about my choices doesn't mean a whole lot to me. They don't have to live my life. I do.

So I'm beginning again.

This time in Detroit proper. And I'm in love with this city.

I live in a tiny sparsely furnished flat with my cat. I can walk and bike anywhere I want to go. And the city has so many things to offer.

My favorites:

Exploring the labyrinth that is the main branch of the Detroit Public Library. Going in without a plan, getting completely lost in the stacks, and leaving with an armful of books I would never have planned to read.

Wandering the galleries of the DIA and being brought to tears by every painting of the moon.

Waking up early on Saturdays to get fresh produce, flowers, and coffee at Eastern Market. Having little girls there tell me I'm pretty and they like my flowers. Giving flowers to said little girls.

Late-night drunken fires and archery tournaments in backyards full of chickens and gardens.

It's lovely. It's perfect. It feels like home.


Sunday, June 9, 2013

bourbon & ginger

We spent a long weekend wandering through Kentucky. It was the first time we'd ever let ourselves be spontaneous on a road trip. We went without a schedule or reservations. It was amazing. We did more in four days than I ever would have thought. We saw cities, small towns, and the country-side. We ate some of the best southern food I've ever tasted. And we drank loads of Kentucky Bourbon.

I'm a beer drinker, but I will occasionally drink a whiskey drink. My drink of choice is Whiskey & Ginger. This homemade version was inspired by all of the amazing cocktails I had in Kentucky.

Bourbon & Ginger

bourbon & ginger

Ginger Ale recipe from my photo journal

1 ginger root, peeled & thinly sliced
1 cup sugar
2 cups water
club soda
2 limes
Kentucky Bourbon

Heat ginger, water, and sugar in a small saucepan. Simmer for 10 minutes until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and strain to remove ginger from syrup. Allow syrup to cool. Mix 1 part bourbon, 1 part ginger syrup, and 3 parts club soda. Squeeze a bit of lime juice into the glass, and garnish with a slice of lime.