June 26th, 2012 :: :: permalink
What a busy few weeks. There have been work and personal engagements, planning for a wedding, and my sister just moved in with us for a month or two. I have still been cooking as usual, but haven’t had time to document as much as I’d like. I also need to add getting in shape to my list, because it’s crunch time (pun intended, love puns) with only a month and a half to go until our big day. I just signed up for CrossFit and a few boxing classes. I let you know how all that goes. I think I have fairly healthy eating habits, but Dustin and I both have trouble resisting our sweet tooth. Last week I was really craving something decadent, but didn’t want the guilt afterwards, so I decided to make a raw chocolate cake with raspberries.
A lot of raw recipes use nuts of some type as a base. You start this recipe by grinding 1/2 cup of almonds in a food processor. In our pre-processor days, I would grind the almonds in a plastic bag by hitting them with a blunt object. I do not recommend that method!
I combined the ground almonds with 2 Tablespoons Cacao, 1 Tablespoon agave, and 1 Tablespoon coconut oil. As you mix all the ingredients, the agave and coconut oil help the mixture stick together. For that reason, agave and coconut oil are staple ingredients in many raw desserts.
Pat this mixture into a 2 -3 inch mold to make a perfect circle. Make sure to apply some pressure so it creates a solid base. This will be the crust for the cake. I used a little coconut oil on the metal molds so the crust wouldn’t stick. Keep the crust in the mold for now so the next ingredients layer up nicely.
Place fresh raspberries on top of the crust.
Next is the most important part, the chocolate topping. Whisk 1/2 cup cacao powder, 1/2 cup agave and 1/4 cup coconut oil. The mixture isn’t terribly fluffy, but will firm up once it’s in the refrigerator. Drizzle the chocolate on top of the raspberries. It creates a very pretty mid layer.
Then top with a few more raspberries finish things off.
With the cakes still in the mold, put everything in the refrigerator for around 20-30 minutes. If they are still a little soft, then give them a bit more time.
Dustin and I straight up devoured every single bite. Part of me wondered how something so good could still be (mostly!) healthy for me, but there is no disputing the ingredient list. With our sweet tooth completely satisfied and our bellies full, we decided to reward ourselves again with a Sunday afternoon nap. It was a good day.
June 4th, 2012 :: :: permalink
I usually save my trips home to Texas for the major holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, but this year I have a wedding to plan so an extra trip was required. My family and I spent a day in Austin shopping for dresses for my mom and sister and a suit for my dad. He was raring to leave the minute he set foot in the first store, so we were fortunate to find the perfect suit in record time.
After all our shopping was done, we drove back to Killeen and my dad was eager to show me his flourishing garden. I usually don’t get to see it since I typically visit in the winter, so I was quite impressed with the variety, health, and size of all the vegetables he was growing. I decided to make a dish that only had veggies that came from his garden. I wasn’t planning on doing a blog entry over my vacation, so all the photos were taken on my iPhone.
I get a lot of things from my dad. My love of cartoons, my sarcastic sense of humor, my taste for spicy/flavorful foods, and just a hint of stubbornness (Dustin says it can be more than a hint). One thing I did not get, however, was his green thumb. My poor money tree at home has about three leaves left which could also say something about my shopping habits at this time. I found out on this visit that my dad made a compost to create natural and healthy fertilizer and places buckets in multiple locations to catch rain water for his plants and a family of birds that live in his nearby bird house. That probably helps to explain how his garden is so healthy, even with temperatures already in the high 90’s and strict Texas water restrictions in force.
With my family’s help, we picked radishes, carrots, onions, tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce, peppers, and beets. It was the middle of the hot afternoon so we worked quickly. It was pleasant work though, as everything was so brightly colored and ready for the picking.
I washed all the veggies, while my sister finely chopped. I secretly watched her chopping technique to see what I could learn since she is a culinary school grad.
I had an idea to use the stems of the onions as a tie for the wraps and the cucumber flowers as edible decorations. The ties kept everything together and looked like a little bow on top of a gift. We finished off with a very easy peanut sauce by mixing 2 tbsp rice vinegar, 3 tsp sugar, 1 tbsp soy sauce, 3 tbsp warm water and 5 tbsp peanut butter. It was a perfect match to the wraps.
My mom and sister left the peppers and radish out of their wraps, but I like most vegetables so used a bit of everything. It’s all about what tickles your fancy.
After lunch, my sister and I were feeling a bit silly, so we took the old wagon out for a joy ride. My mom even let us take her for a spin, but she would surely kill me if I showed the photo evidence. It was a good weekend and it isn’t ending just yet. As I write this on my plane back to Chicago, I am smuggling veggies in my suitcase.