A *Chilly* Raw Thursday

Holy climate change Batman! Generally, September – especially the first two weeks – is still considered a summer month here in France. Once upon a time it was very warm during these final days bridging the lazy days of summer and the hustle of new classes, vacations ending, and the crispness of new paper and freshly-sharpened pencils.

Not this year.

As I’ve mentioned, the mornings have been down right cold (ok, everything is relative, but I think 6c is cold!), and the past two days it hasn’t heated up past 13c. Of course last weekend it was positively beautiful, warm, sunny…I was in bed with a sinus infection, but whatevah.

So why am I crying in my collards about the weather? Well, this was my first totally Raw day in such cold conditions. I must admit, when I got up and began turning on the lights before waking the rest of the clan (because it’s dark until like 7:45am now!) I went to make myself a hot tea – arrr, wait – I said to meself, there’ll be none of that today! (I do talk like a pirate sometimes. Usually after drinking wine. Which I didn’t do today, just for the record.) I found it was a slight hinderance all this coldness, and it would probably have been worse had I gone for my usual run (which I didn’t because of the sinus thing…freaking cold humidity). I felt this nesting-type of instinct to bake bread and casseroles and things that would warm up hearth and belly…but I fought those evil thoughts off with a (carrot) stick – it’s Raw Tuesday, cold or not! (We also caved and turned the heat on…)

So, without further complaining, I give you my Raw Thursday :

Today’s edition of Raw Thursday has been vastly dedicated to using recipes from Jennifer – one tasteful picture on the cover – Cornbleet’s Raw Food Made Easy for 1 or 2 People. I’ve blogged about this book before, and it was in fact my first Raw food book. I this this is an excellent book for the following reasons : 1) I don’t think you need a dehydrator for ANY of the recipes (for one or two they are optional); 2) As per the title of the book, the recipes don’t feed the masses! While I enjoy my Raw leftovers for next-day lunches or knoshes or meals, many Raw dishes don’t keep for more than 4 or 5 days, meaning that there is sometimes waste, which is frustrating and expensive. Tossing out left-overs won’t be a problem with the recipes from this book, rest assured. I think my only complaint about Raw Food Made Easy is the lack of pictures (there are a few full-color glossy pics in the centre of the book). I like to see what the food is supposed to look like, that’s just the way I am. That is a rather minor problem, though, and I think I can say that this is my favorite Raw Foods book, and I would definitely suggest it to someone who is Raw-Curious, and not sure where to start.

I’d like to start out of order (I’m crazy like that) and share with you the most delicious Raw discovery yet. This “Apple Crisp” is the most phenomenal raw dessert I’ve ever made, so much so that I will classify it as just being a “dessert” in my mind. I’ve made the “Blackberry Crip” from this book before, but since the first apple crops have hit the marché I opted for the pomme. As I was putting it together, I couldn’t help but think that something was missing…like, it just needed a little something more. Frosting! Actually, it’s just raw almond butter and some fresh apple juice. It made all the difference in the world! It took this dessert from “oh hi, I’m a raw dessert, I bet you’re hungry and want something to eat.” to “Hey, how you doin’ sexy thing?” As per my usual Raw Dayness, I snack on the dessert I make when feeling hungry between lunch and dinner…

I just can’t convey how good this is…especially because I’m trying to hurry & shoot so I can eat! :) Here, let me try again :

Lunch was just delicious – Tomatoes stuffed with “Sunflower Herb Paté” and served with “Carrots with Moroccan Spices”. Super yum! I know I recently made a sunflower-based paté, but this one is much lighter and different enough that I didn’t feel like I was eating the same thing. M. Fish, who was home at lunch, tasted the Paté and thought it was so good he changed lunch plans and spread it all over half of a boulangerie-fresh baguette. It was lovely with the tomatoes, and the carrots were a great accompaniment. I intentionally prepared them a full hour before lunch, which gave them time to properly soak up the spices they were tossed with.

For dinner I had one last stuffed tomato, finished up the Moroccan Carrots, but added some “Mock Rice Pilaf” and a “Jerusalem Salad”. The pilaf is grated zucchini, pine nuts, raisins, and normally a bit of marinara sauce, but I just made a tahini dressing instead. The “Jerusalem Salad” was a very simple salad, similar to what you’re served in a Middle Eastern restaurant here in France – in place of the chips and salsa you get in a Mexican restaurant state-side. It’s just some cucumber, tomato, parsley, red onion, etc. Light, fresh, and delicious!

I’m so sorry about the horrible photography…now that it’s dark at 7pm, I have no light in my kitchen when we’re getting ready to eat dinner! I need to start working around that again…long live Winter Solstice when we start gaining daylight again!

Oh, and I totally forgot about breakfast! I actually had a piece of the Coconut Snow Cake from last Thursday! It made 10 servings, and according to the cookbook is ok in the fridge for 10 days… I intentionally saved a piece for my breakfast today and it was just as delicious this morning as it’s been all week!

RAW : Flourless Chocolate Cake & Vanilla Crème Sauce & Frozen Feet

My feet are in a 5-gallon tub of ice water (okay, my right foot up to the metatarsal arch, my left foot is trying its best, but the toes are but kissing the surface of the water). I just got back from some intense speedwork and have been really dealing with some ouchies, and so, it’s time to get tough with the pain (wasn’t that from a pain-reliever ad way back? could just be hallucinating from agony, R foot is now numb past arch, L foot has all toes in…). Rather than suffer alone, I thought I may be able to help divert my attention from the cold and hang out with my fellow Vegan friends. Thank you for being here for me!

Now, I could snap a picture of my incredibly scary-looking (purple) feet, but why would I do that when you can look at that delicious raw cake up there? I guess I should say *was* delicious, because it dissappeared like the sensation in my R foot just did! Ha!

I thought that disguising my attempts at nudging Mr. Fish gently towards better appreciating the delicious goodness of raw foods would be helpful. What better disguise than cake? My efforts, however, were in vein, because after looking at me rather sceptically and barely trying a nibble, he smiled apologetically and said, “I’m sorry, but it’s just too weird.” He also says that about me when he sees me doing things like icing my feet… hey, maybe I am just too weird?

The Guppy ate all the cashew cream and strawberries on her piece, but wouldn’t even taste the cake, and this surprised me because it smelled of vanilla and carob. Sigh. What I was able to do, however, was to whiz a banana with some of the cream and she devoured that.

What this all means my dear V friends is that the Shellyfish ate the entire 4-serving raw cake. Not in one sitting though- in about 24-hours. It was a great pre-run snack, and I also had it for lunch with a green salad, had a slice with some banana with the Guppy for our snack (again, she did the banana-crème thing)… So perhaps not a winner in my family’s book, but I thought this little gem of a raw cake ruled! Thick and moist, reminded me a bit of a sort of vegan-walnut fudge.

Flourless Chocolate Cake from Raw Food Made Easy by Jennifer Cornbleet:

  • 1 1/2 cups raw walnuts, unsoaked
  • Dash salt
  • 10 pitted dates, unsoaked
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocao or carob powder (I used carob)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used 1 teaspoon & 1 teaspoon almond extract, too)
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • raw fruit for garnish

Put the walnuts & salt in your food processor and whirl until finely ground. Add the dates, carob powder, and extracts and process until it begins to get sticky, add the water and process briefly. Dump it out onto a plate and form it into your shape of choice, then off to the fridge for at least 2 hours.

Foot update- left foot no longer in wreched pain & in up to arch- hourrah!

Now for the Vanilla Crème Sauce, I’m guessing every vegan out there has one recipe or another for their own sauce like this. I don’t really measure mine anymore, but it goes something like this:

  • About two good handfuls of soaked cashews (I soak them over night)
  • 3 tablespoons (or more or less to taste) of rice, maple or agave syrup
  • about 1/3 cup of water
  • 1 or 2 teaspoons of vanilla or almond extract

It all goes into the blender and stays there until smooth. Yum!

Oh thank you my blogosphere buddies. My feet have been iced. I will now shower as to not look quite so scary and smell not so stinky when the Guppy wakes up.

Rockin’ Raw “Not Peanut Butter Cookies”

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I’d like to preface this entry with the following disclaimer: I don’t know much at all about Raw Cuisine. I don’t mean raw as in, hey let’s have a plate of crudités with our lunch or have an apple, it’s raw…I mean Raw Cuisine where you use romaine lettuce leaves as “bread slices” for sandwiches or marinara sauce that is never warmed in a sauce pan. I would love to get more serious with raw foods, but I can’t afford a juicer (though I would love one, so if you have an extra one lying around…), don’t have a food dyhydrater, and the tiny appliance I lovingly refer to as my, ahm, food processor, is really great, but it’s not got a great deal of power, and I can’t ask too much from it. So, that out of the way, I do seem to manage to make raw desserts pretty well with my limited equipment.

There is something so wonderfully decadant about raw desserts. I admit it’s not always as sinfully satisfying as a big slice of lemon cake with vegan buttercream icing or a gooey, delicious vegan brownie, but at least you know that you’re not mindlessly consuming empty calories, and there is no “guilt hang-over”, that icky feeling of “gee, did I really eat 3 cupcakes all by myself?

cookies.jpg

Last year a friend sent me Raw Food Made Easy for 1 or 2 People by Jennifer Cornbleet. It’s admittedly the only raw cookbook I have, so it’s my primary reference (though there are obviously tons of resources on the net!). One of my “go to” recipes is the “Not Peanut Butter Cookies” because it’s really quick, I almost always have the ingredients in the pantry, and it’s so delicious. Because I’m not a raw foodist, I do sometimes use peanut butter (like today).

adapted from Not Peanut Butter Cookies
from Raw Food Made Easy by Jennifer Cornbleet

  • 1/2 cup nut butter (almond, cashew, peanut, hazlenut-my favorite)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup, agave nectar, or rice syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla (I use a tablespoon)
  • dash salt
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ (my addition)
  • 1 tablespoon coco powder (my addititon)
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds (or wheat germ) to roll them in
  • almond slices to decorate

Put it all in your food processor and whirl it together (sauf the 1/2 cup of almonds or wheat germ for rolling) then freeze it for about 1/2 an hour (so you can handle it more easily). When you take it out break off about 1-inch hunks and roll them in the almond/wheat germ, and flatten them out a little. Freeze four about two hours before serving.