Tag Archives: raw

Homemade flavored salts, or quick wedding favors

13 Apr

Many apologies for delay since last post.  My Yale talk went over great, and I meant to make a Q&A: Grad School post with all the questions the undergraduates asked and my answers, but my amanuensis didn’t take any notes!  Since then I’ve been reading a lot of cool stuff, including this awesome paper by the awesome Matt Clay.  So hopefully I can get that paper into a blog post, as well as some cool math from the SECOND annual Midwest Women In Mathematics Symposium (the first one was last year at UIC, mentioned in that blog post).  But this is not a math post.

I cannot imagine doing this for a wedding of more than 25 people (and really I did favors per household so I only made 14), but if you had helpful friends then knock yourself out.  These are also “fill in the blank” favors or small gifts (housewarming?).  I made four types of flavored salts, which are SUPER EASY and fairly quick if you just let them dry out for a day or two instead of baking them.  They mostly follow the same idea:

Take X amount of salt, and mix thoroughly with Y amount of flavoring using your fingers.  Spread on a baking sheet and let dry in a not-humid room for a day or two.  Package cutely.  Note the lack of equipment, expertise, or active time!

Most flavorful: Sriracha salt

This one is a darling of the internet and is straight from the Sriracha cookbook, which I do not own nor think I ever will (we own two or three cookbooks right now: my mom’s 1970s copies of “Joy of Cooking,” a Three-Ingredient Cookbook from my sister-in-law, and possibly his copy of Rachel Ray’s 30-Minute Meals, which he claims is a misnomer).  I did 1 1/2 c salt + 1/4 c + 2 TB Sriracha.

It'd be great to make a robot that could play the music of British progressive rock bands.  It'd be called "Bot-Tull" (Jethro in case people didn't get the reference)

It’d be great to make a robot that could play the music of British progressive rock bands. It’d be called “Bot-Tull” (Jethro in case you didn’t get the reference)

Mix that up with chopsticks until there are just little clumps left, and lay it out for a day or two.  This ends up being pretty chunky, so people recommend beating it (wrap in a towel and hit with a rolling pin) or pulsing it in a food processor, but I am lazy so my guests got chunky Sriracha salt.

Orange you glad I only make bad puns sometimes?

Orange you glad I only make bad puns sometimes?

Prettiest: Rosemary salt

This one is the opposite of the last, in that it’s not all over the internet and the Martha Stewart website I got it off of kept being down.  Other recipes call for a food processor and just pulsing the rosemary to teeny bits, but I actively hate having pieces of rosemary in my food so I went with rosemary scented salt.

You should go lie down, salt, you're looking a little green around the edges

You should go lie down, salt, you’re looking a little green around the edges

You heat up rosemary with salt in a pot (I did 1 1/4 c salt + 4 stick/twigs of rosemary) and stir every minute or two for 10-ish minutes until little pieces of rosemary start falling off and it smells good, then put it in a tupperware and forget about it for a few hours.

Some parts fell off, but I'm at piece with that

Some parts fell off, but I’m at piece with that

Or you’re Martha Stewart and you remember about it after five minutes and cover it.  In any case, pop a lid on that and leave it for a day or three.  It’ll smell SO GOOD when you take off that lid.  For packaging, I popped a teeny piece of fresh rosemary in to each little jar and topped it with salt, discarding the big pieces and leaving in the little cooked parts.

Most unusual: Vanilla salt

I still don’t really know what to do with this one.  I bought a vanilla bean from the store, which I’ve never seen before, and mixed it into a cup of salt using my hands.  You use your fingernails and scrape out the inside from the bean-holder-thing (pod?), and then use your fingers and massage it into the salt.  It smells good!  Then spread it out and let dry like the others.

Best smelling/most versatile: Citrus salt

This is a fun one: take 1 1/4 c of salt, and zest a bunch of citrus over it.  I used two oranges, two lemons, and two limes.

We're naked... is that appeeling to you?  Actually 'fruit porn' is a thing (sometimes it's just food porn, and sometimes it's I don't know what I don't want to click on the links)

We’re naked… is that appeeling to you? Actually ‘fruit porn’ is a thing (sometimes it’s just food porn, and sometimes it’s I don’t know what I don’t want to click on the links)

Use your fingertips to crush the zest into the salt, releasing the yummy smelling oils, and then spread out a baking sheet.

A far better than usual interpretation of "yellow snow"

A far better than usual interpretation of “yellow snow”

I tried to dry this in the oven and hated the results and did it over again- I cooked it too hot and it sucked all the citrus flavor out. Plus you have to pay attention to the oven and who likes to do that?  (Possibly readers of baking blogs, but let’s forget about that…)

Sometimes I just want to yell, "Ogre in da house!" when I'm feeling the opposite of orange.

Sometimes I just want to yell, “Ogre in da house!” when I’m feeling the opposite of orange.

I packaged these in small jars I found on Amazon, but my maid of honor sent me cuter ones which I thought were too small: about two ounces of flavored salt is pretty good.

2014-04-08_08-34-15_232We buy 4 oz jars of flavored salts when we do so (it’s always truffle salt), so half that for a favor sounds perfect to me.  Plus the colored lids precluded the need to label each jar, which would’ve been a pain for ~50 tiny jars.  I threw them in clear favor bags I picked up a Target, along with a printout of a Bible verse/Byrds song, some suggestions on how to use the salts, and a thank-you tag.

2014-04-08_08-34-25_656 2014-04-08_08-34-38_2192014-04-08_09-05-09_289

Total cost:

20 count Favor bags (Target): $2

Ribbon (Target): $3

Printing (Fedex/Kinkos): $5

Salt (Grocery store): $4

Vanilla Bean (Grocery store): $3 (!)

=$17 if you don’t count stuff you’re going to use anyway

2014-04-08_09-05-23_226

Lemons, Limes, Oranges (store): $5? (and then we ate them later, so basically free!)

Bottle of Sriracha (store): $6? (we’ve had this for awhile)

Rosemary (store): $3 (and then we ate some lamb with it!)

=$31 if you count things you will eat

I’ll leave this post with something I thought was ridiculous when I went to Target.  Also, shout out to the amazing Alliance Bakery for the BEAUTIFUL job they did with our cake!  I’ll post pictures of that cake up when I get some.  It was lemon with a mango mousse filling.  Yum!

Why would you buy these?

Why would you buy these?

Ch-ch-ch-chia! Pudding!

20 Sep

As a little kid, I really really wanted a chia pet.  They were SO COOL.  Who am I kidding; they’re still cool!  You can get one that looks like Obama:

Chia we can believe in

I mean, they’re amazing!  Anyway, I’ve been food-experimenting a lot since moving to this city: we ate paleo-ish for awhile, which explains the gluten free recipes, and a few of my friends went vegan, so I’ve been playing with that, which led me to flaxseed as an egg substitute.  Turns out you can do the exact same egg substitute using chia seeds (yeup, the exact same ones that go on barack obama’s clay head).

I was at my favorite grocery store the other day and saw a box of chia seeds.  I had recently heard of them for this egg thing, and also almond pudding.  Tapioca pudding is another thing from childhood that I coveted and never got (my mom is still very against processed food etc. but we did sometimes get jello/kraft mac because, well, three kids).  Apparently it’s a thing that American grandmas make, based on the comments at allrecipes.  My Vietnamese grandma made me beef wrapped in betel leaves and sticky rice in banana leaves from our backyard.  So a little bit far from the all-American tapioca pudding.  In any case, I heard that chia pudding is sort of like tapioca pudding so of course I decided to make it.

Nutritionally, it'd probably be better to walk in fields of chia rather than gold.  Geez Sting don't you care about your health?

Nutritionally, it’d probably be better to walk in fields of chia rather than gold. Geez Sting don’t you care about your health?

What’s really nice about this pudding is you just need a mason jar (or that’s what I did anyway).  Put all the ingredients in…

Just a touch of Vanilla makes this Nice, Nice.  Baby.

Just a touch of Vanilla makes this Nice, Nice. Baby.

And shake shake shake!

Agitate, joggle, worry... actually, just shake it.  Don't want to scare you off with too much technical JARgon

Agitate, joggle, worry… actually, just shake it. Don’t want to scare you off with too much technical JARgon

Then throw this in the fridge for awhile.  I did it overnight and totally forgot about it, but I ended up with some hard clumps.  I’ll have to experiment more, but I suspect that if you shake it after an hour or two, and then shake it again before you eat it for breakfast/dessert, you’ll have a more uniform texture.

Speaking of texture, this pudding fulfilled all of my wildest dreams.  So that’s an advertisement to try it (I’m making it again right this minute for breakfast tomorrow!)

P1010368

Chia pudding (adapted from detoxinista, which is a site I’ve used before!, and whole foods)

1/3 c chia seeds

1 c milk (I used whole, but I think almond/soy would be great and make this recipe vegan)

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 TB maple syrup

Put all ingredients in a mason jar or some other storage container.  Shake.  Refrigerate overnight or for several hours, shaking whenever you happen to open the fridge.  Top with whatever and eat (I like bananas, but coconut, nuts, berries, anything would be great)

PS Look at this HILARIOUS thing I found on the internet when searching for ‘chia pet obama’!  It is SO FUNNY. 

Raw vegan carrot cake

20 Aug
If I'd added a ring of flowers to this I would've had to fiddle with the layout even more.

If I’d added a ring of flowers to this I would’ve had to fiddle with the layout even more.

Continuing my raw series a.k.a. not wanting to turn on the oven, I went with carrot cake on this humid and cloudy afternoon.  Food processor definitely a must for this.  This turned out way better than the key lime pie.  Given the two, I would eat cooked carrot cake over the raw one, but when I’m the one cooking, the raw one definitely wins when it’s hot out.  I really loved the raw brownie bites, but I think this carrot cake is just OK comparatively (still tasty, but not wow!)

I’m learning that raw food (or at least raw baked goods) have a few important staples: dates, nuts, and soaked cashews.  Cashews sub for cheese/cream cheese/fat in lots of recipes, and dates are the sugar/egg component.  These cakes also have coconut, carrots, spices, and raisins (I used craisins).

P1000961 P1000960 P1000959 P1000958

Raw or not, carrot cake is sooooo much easier with the grating attachment of the food processor.  Takes about thirty seconds to grate three cups of carrots.

But seriously this is so great.

But seriously this is so great.

Dump the carrots in a bowl to the side.  Don’t worry about straggler pieces; since everything is getting mixed together in the end anyway you don’t even have to rinse out the food processor.  Toss in the walnuts, raisins, and dates, and process that until it looks like couscous and there’s no big chunks left:

Looks sort of like grape nuts.  Has about as much to do with grape nuts as the cereal does

Looks sort of like grape nuts. Has about as much to do with grape seeds as the cereal does

Next add those carrots back in and the spices (I don’t measure I just pour in a ton).  Process this for maybe a full minute or two (you might need to scrape) until it all sticks together.

P1000969

I wonder if raw baked goods are popular in Alaska.  Yknow, because of the sled dogs.  Mush!  Mush!

I wonder if raw baked goods are popular in Alaska. Yknow, because of the sled dogs. Mush! Mush!

Now toss that mixture in the bowl and fold in the coconut (this gives it a nice texture and more dryness).

Bringing coconut into the fold

Bringing coconut into the fold

Rinse out your food processor, and put in your soaked cashews with a bit of honey and some of the soaking water.  The recipe I used didn’t call for soaking the cashews, but since I ran into that so much last time I decided to throw the cashews in water for an hour or so (basically while I ran to the store to get dates and carrots).  [Also I’m going to brag here that I literally ran to the store.  It was great!  Running errands is awesome.]  Process the cashews until they turn into cashew butter (this is easier if they are soaked).

P1000975

If 'hum' were a transitive verb, then we could say no, this is not hummus, it's more like hum-them.

If ‘hum’ were a transitive verb, then we could say no, this is not hummus, it’s more like hum-them.

To serve, you put a 1/4 cup of cake on a plate and top with maybe 2 tsp of cashew frosting.

P1000984

My roommate started laughing when she saw me taking this picture, which is why I’m looking up at her and not at the cake

P1000980

Raw carrot cake, adapted from two blue lemons because I didn’t have enough of the ingredients:

For cake:

3 cups shredded carrots (this took me 3 large carrots)

10 dates

3/4 c walnuts

1 c shredded coconut

3/4 c dried cranberries

1-ish tsp each cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice

In a food processor, pulse the dates, walnuts, and cranberries until well combined and there are no more big chunks.  Then add the carrots and spices and process until gloopy.  Fold in the coconut, set aside.

For frosting:

1 c cashews

1.5 TB honey or agave syrup

2-4 TB water

If you have time, soak the cashews in some water before you start, for as long as possible.  Then try blending the drained cashews with the honey in a food processor.  If it turns into cashew butter, whoo hoo!  If not, add water a tablespoon at a time and scrape down the sides until it’s smooth and looks like hummus.

To serve:

Mold your cake (I used 1/4 c measure), top with frosting.  Enjoy!

Raw vegan key lime pie, or on failure, part II

4 Aug

My friend pointed out a while back that raw recipes really shouldn’t count as baking.  This surprises me because she was there when I made the turducken and it was 84 degrees outside my house and hotter inside when the oven was on.  You guys, it’s August in Chicago.  I’m not turning on the oven and if I could I would just have gazpacho and salad for all my meals.So!  Key lime pie!  I’ve never made it and I’ve only had it once before.  This is more of an avocado-lime pie (it doesn’t even use the key ingredient of key lime pie).  Whenever I don’t feel like schlepping over to the gym I do a few pilates youtube videos from Cassey Ho, and today two days ago I accidentally clicked on one of her food videos instead of the ab video I wanted.  So I thought I’d try it out, with a few modifications.  Also, since I’m not that experienced with making raw food (the brownies were my first time), I didn’t realize you’re supposed to soak the cashews overnight.  Thank  you, internet, for telling me what I could do instead!

OK so raw recipes?  You really have to plan them ahead.  This is not my forte, if you couldn’t tell from the way I throw things together for baking.  So this post and pie turned from baking to failure.  I think it’s a sign.  Within a year after I graduated from college, several people and an animal close to me all died (separately), and someone told me that it seemed like the universe was trying to tell me something.  Since then I’ve focused more time on things I love (this blog, the people dear to me, traveling, reading) and less time on other stuff (stressing about how little work I’m getting done in grad school or what I’ll do with my life/future).  Similarly, this is the FIRST TIME I have ever had to throw out something I made because it was so bad.  I think I’m telling me (through my willful negligence of the recipe and thoughtfulness) that I shouldn’t become a raw foodist.  I’m OK with that, given the first sentence in this post.

Previous paragraph aside, I want to emphasize that failure is not a sign that you should give up, but a sign that you should learn.  There’s no way to learn without failure, and since I’m in the business of learning, I’m pretty much destined to fail.  Over and over again.  And in the face of much, much failure, and very few milestones (none for the next few years, and then I’ll suddenly have a dissertation), it will seem easier to quit and switch to something else than keep going.  But this connects back to that other life lesson I had from all the deaths- do what you love.  This is what I love, so I’ll do it, and keep accumulating failures on my path to success.  This is true for anyone who is ambitious, because anyone ambitious should have learning be a major part of their life.

So things I learned from this poison pie:

  • Make sure your avocados are ripe.  Generally I throw avocados in a paper bag with some bread to get them to ripen faster.   Below I’ll tell you how I poisoned us with the avocado.
  • Read your recipe ahead of time.  Apparently you’re supposed to soak cashews overnight for cashew cream.  I asked the internet and did the quick soak method for the cashews (you bring them to a boil, then cover and let them steam for an hour) but I don’t think it turned out as well (also I didn’t wait for the full hour).
  • Follow directions exactly.   I don’t think this can be on my list because I didn’t learn it, in the face of much evidence.  Man I’m like a climate change denialist in this aspect of my life.  Luckily it doesn’t affect anyone but me (and whomever I’m feeding).
  • My blender sucks.  Use the food processor or immersion blender instead.
  • DON’T POISON YOURSELF.  I mean it’s not like we all died or anything because I’m writing this to you.  I cut open the avocados and realized they were not ripe, so I put them in a plastic bag (this was the big problem) and closed it and left it out.  A day later it was full of gases from the avocado respiring, and the fats in the avocado had gone rancid (I think, I’m not sure).  I didn’t notice until much later, after making and tasting the pie.

Crust: Food process all your stuff!  I used walnuts, dates, coconut, and almond.  Then press it into a pie pan.

I was driving my date nuts with talk of my interests.  I don't see what's wrong with cocoa and walls.

I was driving my date nuts with talk of my interests. I don’t see what’s wrong with cocoa and walls.

This is a little crazy: apparently almonds aren't nuts!

This is a little crazy: apparently almonds aren’t nuts!

Of coarse, the internet could've told you that (besides this blog)

Of coarse, the internet could’ve told you that (besides this blog)

And you probably weren't whirr-ied about it anyway.

And you probably weren’t whirr-ied about it anyway.

But if you were, just apply a little pressure and everything will be fine

But if you were, just apply a little pressure and everything will be fine

Then throw that crust in the freezer.  I actually kept my crust after throwing out the rest of the pie because it was so tasty!  And I think this pie would be yummy if you didn’t use rancid, unripe avocados.

Next you take your soaked overnight cashews and drain them.   I meant you throw your cashews in a pot with some water, bring it to a boil, turn off the heat and let it steam for an hour (so cover it and don’t peek!)  Then blend those cashews up into cashew cream.

I'm a pot!  I'm holding cashews!  The kettle is super black right now!

I’m a pot! I’m holding cashews! The kettle is super black right now!

cASHEWS!  (bless you!)

cASHEWS! (bless you!)

Next add your avocado, zest and juice of two limes, and whatever else (I did honey and vanilla).  Blend that up!
If you squeezed lime juice in your eyes you'd probably be temporarily blinded.  Maybe that's the source of the exclamation "blimey!"

If you squeezed lime juice in your eyes you’d probably be temporarily blinded. Maybe that’s the source of the exclamation “blimey!”

If two limes from the same tree grated against each other, would that be incest? (inzest)

If two limes from the same tree grated against each other, would that be incest? (inzest)

Deep into the belly of the beast (The Blender)

Deep into the belly of the beast (The Blender)

If your blender isn’t stupid, you’ll have a beautiful, fluffy lightly green cream filling that you can spread on your crust and chuck in the fridge.  Top with some additional lime and shredded coconut.

Covering up the crust's indecency with some PASTE-ies

Covering up the crust’s indecency with some PASTE-ies

P1000955

But really I think this pie would be great without rancid avocado.  I’ll probably make the non-raw, non-vegan version first, but if I make this again I’ll let you know!

Raw vegan key lime pie (inspired by blogilates)

Crust:

1 c walnuts

1/2 c almonds

1/2 c shredded coconut

8-10 dates (about a cup)

Use a food processor to grind up the nuts, then add the other ingredients and process until fine and crumbly.  Use your clean hands to press into a pie pan, then throw in the freezer.

Filling:

2 avocados

2 limes, zested and juiced

1 c cashews, soaked overnight

1 tsp vanilla

2 TB raw honey

optional: more shredded coconut

First blend or food process the cashews until very fine.  Then add the other ingredients and blend until smooth.  Spread over crust, top with shredded coconut and/or more lime, and chill in freezer.

Raw vegan brownie bites- surprisingly delicious

27 Jul

These kind of taste like those brownie bites you buy in the plastic container from the store.  I spent awhile procrastinating the other day and reading up about the raw diet and blogs by raw foodies.  I find it super interesting though not something I would do myself.  I especially like the way people have ‘hacked’ non-raw foodstuffs out of raw ingredients (is that the correct usage of the word ‘hack’?  It’s a verb, right?)

Anyway, let’s throw this together real fast.  I’m going to Turkey and Greece with my two best friends from college this afternoon (as of me writing this, so I’m probably in Turkey/Greece as of you reading this), and I still need to finish packing.  Luckily, this post will be short and making these brownie bites takes maybe 90 seconds.  More if you’re like me and had trouble opening the package of dates.

I wonder if the raw food diet is popular in North Carolina.  Probably not, despite the capitol's name.

I wonder if the raw food diet is popular in North Carolina. Probably not, despite the capitol’s name.

Also I did this because it is HOT IN CHICAGO and I didn’t want to turn on an oven.  Brownies are totally baked goods and hence this fits in this blog.

Food processors are wonderful!  Pulse your pecans til they’re real fine:

What if you named your bag of pecans "mickey"?  Then you could sing: Oh mickey you so fine, you so fine you blow my mind hey mickey!

What if you named your bag of pecans “mickey”? Then you could sing: Oh mickey you so fine, you so fine you blow my mind hey mickey!

Next add your dates.  I had trouble measuring out a “cup” of dates but I think 10-12 is the right number.  Don’t forget to de-pit them!

I pity da fool who hasn't tried dates

I pity da fool who hasn’t tried dates

Man mickey is pretty fly.  Check out all of his dates!

Man mickey is pretty fly. Check out all of his dates!

Pulse that until it’s gloopy (maybe 40 seconds).  I paused before that and looked and it wasn’t gloopy yet (you want the dates to be crushed enough that the mixture sticks to itself).

They're great candidates: these dates are known for their can-do attitude and stick-to-ittiveness.

They’re great candidates: these dates are known for their can-do attitude and stick-to-ittiveness.

Now add your cocoa powder, shredded coconut, salt, and sweetener if you’re using it.  This happened the last time I wanted to make chocolate cake: realized that I have no cocoa powder at home (d’oh) so I used hot chocolate mix and didn’t add sweetener.  It’s probably not actually raw since I used the mix and it’s been processed, but close enough.  It’s like when I made those “vegan” cookies and used butter (but I did not feed them to any vegans).  These brownie bites did not get fed to any raw foodists.

2013-07-11_18-57-30_901

Yo dog I heard you were making brownies. I dig it. Whirred. (it sounds like word get it get it???)

This gets pulsed for another 30 seconds, until it smells and looks chocolatey brown.  Then scoop them out by tablespoons, dip them in cocoa powder, and toss ’em in the fridge.  They’re pretty crumbly/hard to handle so you could also put them in the fridge for an hour first and then shape them.  It worked out OK and they were a hit at the dinner party!

Sorry no close up, but here’s a picture of me with my new haircut.

IMG_8283

Recipe from The Rawtarian:

1 c pecans

1 c dates

5 TB cocoa powder

4 TB shredded coconut

2 TB honey (I didn’t use this because of the cocoa powder thing.  Also my coconut was sweetened whoops)

1/4 tsp sea salt

 

Process pecans until crumbly.  Add dates, and process until sticky.  Then add everything else and process for awhile, until chocolatey.  Scoop with a tablespoon, roll in cocoa powder or powdered sugar, and put on a plate in the fridge for an hour.  

This made something like 16 brownie bites, which I ended up cutting in half because they were so rich.  The website says it makes six small servings, which makes me think vegans eat a LOT.

%d bloggers like this: