Let the celery rot in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator
and an earthen scum harden on the kitchen floor.”
-Louise Erdrich, Advice to Myself
At my old grocery store in Cambridge, I was able to buy celery by the stalk. I absolutely loved this, since I usually only needed a stalk or two for a soup or risotto. And despite Louise Erdrich’s advice, I hated having a huge head of celery in the bottom drawer.
But that was the situation I found myself in the other week (my current local grocery store only buys gargantuan heads of the vegetable). Celery gives a lovely note to soups, but I rarely give it the spotlight. I thought I’d give it a try and was delightfully surprised.
This soup uses an entire head of celery and is exactly what you’ll want to try the next time you are on the verge of a Louise Erdrich moment. Raw cashews and cooked potato to add richness and body. It is flavored with onions, garlic, and dill.
Love and Celery,
P.S. Did you know you can regrow celery? This method really works! We now have little celery stalks growing on our windowsill (which will come in handy, since most of the time you really do only want one stalk).
“I have a baking challenge for you, though I may be rudely assuming you haven’t conquered it yet. I would love a gluten free recreation of my childhood favorite: apple cider donut.”
I love a good baking challenge and I absolutely loved receiving this message from my friend, Molly. I went straight to Whole Foods for a bag of gluten free flour (Bob’s Red Mill brand) and a jug of apple cider.
The first batch of donuts were awful. According to Eric they were “among the worst things you’ve ever made. There is really nothing redeeming about them.” They were dry, crumbling, and had a weird bean flavor. The second batch were somehow just as bad as the first, though I’d doubled the sugar and oil content.
For the third batch, I did some research. Babycakes is a well known and well loved gluten-free bakery in New York City. The owner, Erin McKenna, has authored a few cookbooks on vegan and gluten-free baking. My local library had a copy of “Babycakes Covers the Classics” on the shelves with a picture of a donut on the cover! Their donut recipes called for xanthan gum, which I decided to omit. And none of their recipes included any apple cider. But I stuck to their ratio of flour, sugar and fat and soon enough, we had delicious, gluten-free cider donuts resting on the counter.
When you think spinach and artichoke dip, you most likely imagine something warm and gooey, bubbling to the brim with cheese and mayonnaise. While that style of cooking has it’s place, this is a totally different kind of dip.
Think of this as a much more interesting version of hummus. It is cool, tangy and bright with a beautiful green hue from raw spinach. It goes perfectly with cold crudites or warm, toasted bread, or slathered on a sandwich.
This is an incredibly easy and impressive spread to have on hand as the more languid summer days become distant memory and the weather works to figure out how soon to cool off. This dip is good with warm or cool accompaniments and takes a mere 5 minutes to throw together (if you soak your cashews, that does extend the total time, but adds a mere few seconds of effort).
Did you know you can make creamy sorbet using applesauce as a base? It’s true!
There are lots of recipes on the internet for banana soft serve- essentially blending up frozen bananas until they reach the texture of ice cream. If you haven’t tried this out yet, definitely give it a whirl. This method totally works because bananas are both sweet and starchy. Apples don’t have starch but they do have a fiber called pectin, which acts as a thickener. They also have a much more neutral flavor, making applesauce a great base for any fruit flavored sorbet.
You may not think to pair blueberry and rosemary together, but it’s a fantastic combination. You can, however, think of this recipe as a blueprint. You could swap the rosemary for lavender (another great combo) or omit the herbs altogether. If you’re not a fan of blueberries, try raspberries or cherries.
After every orthodontist appointment I had growing up, I would get a gift certificate to the McDonalds two doors down for a McFlurry. But what was my preferred post-dental treat of choice? Carrot juice. Yep, carrot juice from the crunchy, kitschy vegetarian restaurant next door.
I absolutely love carrot juice and it still feels like a special treat to me. But juice can be expensive to buy, and I don’t really want to invest in a DIY juicer (I have neither the patience to clean it, nor the space to store it).
Then the other day, when my carrot juice craving struck, Eric suggested I just make it in the blender. Brilliant! This juice uses a nut-milk style method and is totally genius. Not only does it allow me to have fresh juice whenever I want, but I can customize the flavors. To this batch I added a hunk of ginger and a dash of cardamom. Holy of holies was this delicious. Smooth and creamy and sweet and spicy. And it only cost $0.89 to make.
Carrot juice for the win!
Love and Weird Hippy Treats,
P.S. Wondering what to do with the leftover pulp? Stay tuned!
There is something about waffles that just says Sunday. I can remember being young and going to the waffle station at Bravo’s Sunday Brunch. Big, fluffy Belgian Waffles would be made fresh before your eyes, and you could crown them with whipped cream and drown them with juicy strawberries.
Waffles are weekend food, because when else do you have the time to make them? Let’s be honest, they’re pretty fussy and time consuming. But if you make a giant batch on a Sunday, you can freeze your treats and simply defrost to celebrate that lazy, luxuriating weekend feeling any weekday morning.
I’m not gluten free but it’s a diet many of my loved ones are trying. I’m doing a bit of personal cheffing for one such a friend this summer (under the false pretense of helping her out- really, I’m just entertaining myself). I developed this recipe for her. It’s flour free, sugar free, gluten free, nut free, whole food, and high in omega 3 fatty acids which is perfect for her needs. They’re so simple- you just blend everything up and pour the batter directly into the waffle iron. They’re also delicious, versatile, and can be stored for weeks in the freezer.
A quick note on waffle irons: if possible, use cast iron. Most waffle makers are made with Teflon, which can release neurotoxic chemicals when heated. This is absolutely not what I want to feed my friend! I bought this waffle iron for less than $20. You do have to spritz it with oil, but I’ve had no issues with sticking and I know there is no risk of scary chemical residue.
Soak the buckwheat groats in 5 cups of water overnight.
The next morning, drain your groats and rinse until the water runs clear.
Add soaked buckwheat and all remaining ingredients to the blender.
Blend until totally smooth.
Cook the waffles according to your waffle maker's instructions. For my cast iron pan, I heat the pan over medium heat for about 3-4 minutes. I generously oil both sides of the pan by brushing a neutral oil over the surface with a pastry brush. I cook the waffle on the first side for 2 1/2 minutes, flip it, and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
Top with your favorite toppings. I like chocolate chips, fresh berries, and pumpkin seeds.
You know that intoxicating aroma of chocolate that wafts through your house when you make a batch of chocolate chip cookies? Ever noticed that you don’t get that same heady perfume when you open a jar of cocoa powder? That’s because the wonderful chocolate aroma we all know and love comes from cocoa butter, the fat from the cocoa bean. It is a special ingredient that is great for homemade foot creams and even better for homemade chocolate.
But if you’re going to go through the trouble of making your own chocolate, why would you punctuate that gorgeous scent with cardamom? First of all, it is super easy to make your own chocolate. No special equipment is required and I guarantee you can whip it up in less time than it would take to go the store and buy a bar.
Although this is not a classical combination, the results of combining these two flavors are incredible. Cardamom is a gorgeous, cooling spice that has an almost citrusy flavor. It adds lightness and surprise to the chocolate. It adds that special extra layer that makes people ask “what is in these?”
It also has some incredible health benefits.Cardamom is not only delicious, but acts as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound in the body. And the other ingredients contribute essential nutrients, too. Cacoa is one of the best food based sources of magnesium, and contains some zinc and selenium. Cacao nibs have all that plus crunch. Coconut oil is a heat stable fat that reduces oxidative stress in the body. And maple syrup is a vegan-friendly sweetener with a yummy smoky flavor and manganese, an enzyme activator that helps your body synthesize cholesterol.
So is chocolate a health food? No. It’s a special treat. But it’s definitely healthier (and more fun) to make it at home. Not only can you switch up the flavors (in case cardamom is totally not your thing) but you also avoid unnecessary refined sugars and emulsifiers like soy lecithin. So don’t hesitate to order some cocoa butter from Amazon and get cooking!
I have a confession: I don’t really like Nutella. I love the combination of chocolate and hazelnut, but Nutella itself is just too sugary. Plus it’s not vegan (it contains milk powder). Luckily, these truffles make a perfect dessert to unite the 98% of the world who does cartwheels over Nutella with weirdos like me who can’t stomach it’s saccharine sweetness.
They require just a few simple whole food ingredients: toasted hazelnuts, dates, cocoa powder and sea salt. If you’re feeling fancy, you could throw in a little vanilla extract and a handful of cacao nibs or dark chocolate chips for good measure. The nuts, dates, and cocoa are high in antioxidants and fiber, making them a healthy treat to share at any time of day. These are so healthy you could eat them for breakfast.
And these are perfect to share with friends of every dietary persuasion. If you or a loved one has a nut allergy, feel free to use shredded coconut (unsweetened). It will taste more tropical, and less like a French crepe, but it will still be delicious.
Whole grain is a phrase you’ll find on many packaged items. But no matter how bold and colorful the front of the label might be, you won’t know how truly whole your food is without reading the back of the label. And your best bet for truly buying whole foods is to buy items that don’t have any labels at all.
These pancakes truly use the whole grain. I like to use two grains per pancake recipe. The first is buckwheat, because it has a thick, gelatinous quality that helps the pancakes hold together beautifully. For the second grain, I use whatever is in my cupboard: brown rice, quinoa, amaranth, spelt. Cover all the grains in water and a dash of apple cider vinegar before bed (this removes the phytic acid and increases the bioavailability of nutrients for you), blend up with a little water the next morning, and you have a truly delicious and nutritious pancake batter.
Like many recipes, this one is a canvas. The most basic recipe is just grains and water- and it’s delicious. I like to throw in flaxseeds which help the batter to bind and add a ton of nutrition in the form of omega-3 fatty acids and estrogen balancing lignans. If you want a caramelized, golden color, you need to add a little sugar. You can achieve this by blending them up with a banana (and you’ll have banana pancakes!) or a healthy drizzle of maple syrup. To balance out the sugar, it’s lovely to add a little spice. I like cinnamon, but you could just as easily throw in a pinch of cardamom, vanilla, nutmeg or clove. A heaping teaspoon of baking powder makes the batter light and fluffy.
And then there’s maca powder. You’ll notice that in the recipe I include it as an optional ingredient. I hesitated with whether to include it here, as vegan food is often criticized for being elitist and unattainably exotic. Maca is not an everyday ingredient, but I do use it in my kitchen and it gave these pancakes a delicious, malty flavor and fantastic fluffy texture. I’ll leave it up to you decide if you’d like to invest in a bag.
Maca powder is an adaptogenic herb, meaning it helps your body adapt to stress by balancing your hormones.This study found that not only did taking maca appear to support with balancing hormones in early post-menopausal women, but it may help to increase bone density. Maca is also a particularly great addition if you or your loved ones have adrenal fatigue, issues with your thyroid, or hormonal imbalances. How’s that for breakfast?
Adapted from Sarah Britton's Revolutionary Pancakes
1/2 cup buckwheat
1/2 cup whole grain (buckwheat, brown rice, oat groats, etc.)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar OR lemon juice
2 tablespoon flaxseeds
pinch sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 banana OR 2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons maca powder (optional)
water or non-dairy milk, to blend
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
refined coconut oil, for frying
For serving: maple syrup, fresh berries, toasted coconut, roasted pumpkin seeds, etc.
The night before you want your pancakes, soak your whole grains by covering them in fresh water and adding 1 teaspoon of an acidic medium (vinegar or lemon juice).
The morning you want to make your pancakes, drain and rinse your soaked grains. You may notice a bit of gelatinous coating from the buckwheat. That's totally normal and safe. Just rinse it away.
Transfer your grains to a blender. Add flaxseed, salt, cinnamon, sweetener, maca powder (if using) and 1/2 cup of water. Blend on high until totally smooth.
Look at your batter. Is it too thick? If so, add a little more water about 1 tablespoon at a time until a thick, but pourable consistency is achieved.
Add baking powder and stir briefly, just to incorporate.
In a frying pan, heat a knob of coconut oil over medium heat. Pour a few tablespoons of batter into the pan to create a pancake. Cook until the edges look dry and brown and many bubbles have formed (about 3-4 minutes). Flip and cook an additional 1-2 minutes. Remove from the pan. Continue until all the batter has been used.
Serve with your desired toppings.
For a gluten-free diet, use gluten-free grains.
For a whole foods, plant based diet, use the banana instead of the maple syrup.
Do you know your neighbors? I have to admit that I don’t know all my neighbors. But I will find any excuse to hang out with my upstairs neighbor, Ann.
Ann is one of the most special and unique women I’ve ever met. She is an Italian woman who grew up in Brooklyn. She has lived in my building for 43 years and has a one eyed black cat named Buddy that she walks in the hallway on a bright blue leash (“because it looks so striking with his fur”). She is effervescent, unpretentious and an absolute delight to share time and treats with.
A few months ago, we had a snow storm that just happened to land on Ann’s birthday. I was stuck home and happily enjoying my cozy hermit day off. I wanted to whip up a special treat for Ann, but I didn’t want to leave my house. That’s when I remembered a recipe I’d seen for banana brownies. I had bananas, peanut butter, cocoa powder and chocolate- I was set.
These brownies are ridiculously easy to make, use whole food ingredients, and are gluten-free. You basically just throw everything together in a food processor, blend and bake. 25 minutes later you have warm, gooey, chocolatey joy.
I had Ann over for an afternoon birthday brownie celebration. She loved them and I have no doubt that you will, too. Remember, food is more than food- it’s about community and connection. Make a batch and share them with your neighbors.