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My Blog Has Moved!

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My Blog Has Moved!

I’m not done blogging, but am doing so now from my new website, ArianeCooks.com.  You’ll find all the blogs I’ve already posted here, plus new video blogs I’ve begun making recently.  Also, there is lots of background on me as well as info about the chef services I offer.

I’ve already added two how-to video blogs: one on how to make homemade beet dye that will turn food INCREDIBLE colors naturally, and one on how you can superfood up smoothies in a tasty way.  Thanks for having followed BaringFruit, and I look forward to hearing from you at the ArianeCooks blog!

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Spring Roll Secrets

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For the entire year of 2007, the only album I listened to was Fiona Apple’s “Extraordinary Machine.”  This past fall, Mexicola avocados were in season for two months, and every day for breakfast and lunch I ate two small avo’s and a Hachiya persimmon (both from the same heaven-sent farmer).  When I get an obsession going, I tend to just ride it out, and eventually it wanes.  Thank heavens I don’t tend to get hooked on anything too expensive…

I’ve always been a fan of making fresh spring rolls, but ever since I created the almond-tamarind sauce I blogged about here, ALL I WANT TO EAT IS KALE SALAD SPRING ROLLS.  I limit myself to two meals a day of them max.  In the last month or so, I’ve made no less than 1-2 dozen batches of spring rolls– enough that I have acquired a few good tips about working with those daunting yet delicious rice paper circles.

1. Soaking the rice paper sheets in warm water will expedite the time needed for prep.  Sure, 1-2 minutes isn’t forever to wait per sheet, but if you’re making a big batch, extra down time can slow your process.  Once you get a rhythm going, you can place a new sheet in the water as soon as you pull the ready one out, and it will be ready when you’ve finished filling the first.  Conversely, if you find you just can’t keep up, soak them in cold water to give yourself at least 3-4 minutes to construct each roll.   Either way, you will streamline the procedure by placing a new sheet in the water directly upon taking out the old.

2. If one meal is not enough– and if you make them well, it won’t be!– it’s easier than you think to make extra and have them not dry out.  When you pull the rice paper out of the water, don’t dry it on a paper towel as is generally recommended.  For one, it will be easier to work with and less inclined to tear during folding, and for another, they will keep without drying out for at least two days because of the additional moisture in the paper.  Store them in an airtight container, and if they do dry out after a couple days, wet your hands with cool water and rub them gently; they’ll soften right back up.

3. Punch up flavor by dressing some of the ingredients.  You can add a simple sauce to one ingredient, making sure to drain it well, or dress all ingredients.  Marinating porous foods like mushrooms (yes, you can totally put mushrooms in spring rolls) beforehand will lend additional flavors to the overall product.

4. If presentation is key, of course you want all ingredients julienned and placed in the wrappers individually.  However, if you just want to eat something very yummy and perfectly decent looking, make a salad of your ingredients, and pack a few spoonfuls of it into the wrappers.  I’ve been making this salad and just tossing 1/2 cup or so of it into each wrapper, while using extra dressing as the dipping sauce.  You don’t need to julienne anything, but everything should be fairly small, and you do want to avoid any sharp edges that might tear the rice paper.

5. The ingredient options for spring rolls are fairly endless, but fresh herbs are key.  If you simply can’t get a hold of any because the urge to make rolls strikes when you can’t get to the store, get creative with greens.  When I wanted them but had no herbs on hand, I used carrot fronds, and it worked perfectly.

6. Think outside the Asian box.  The spring rolls I made with carrot fronds had a main filling of a salad that consisted of sprouted chickpeas, dried sour cherries, and grass fed Greek yogurt.  They were hearty and filling and in no way authentic, but one bite of a unique combo like that will have you proudly calling yourself a fusion chef.

7. There’s no need for noodles in my book (I’m not a huge fan of carb filled carbs: rice in a burrito is madness to me), but should you prefer your spring rolls with something stringy, kelp noodles make a wonderful healthy option.  Simply soak them beforehand according to package directions.

8. For an extra pretty punch, place a mint, parsely, or cilantro leaf inside as you’re wrapping it up.  Wrap it most of the way, center a leaf or two on it, then fold over the final edge.  Make sure that the leaf doesn’t reach the edge of the wrapper, or it won’t stick properly to itself.

A moderately traditional vegan set up: cucumbers, red carrots, spinach leaves, Dave’s Gourmet tempeh, kelp noodles, mint

Decidedly untraditional vegetarian rolls: sprouted chickpeas mixed w/dried sour cherries and grass fed Greek yogurt, roasted sweet potatoes, carrot fronds, and Belgian endive

Magical Mulberry Squares (raw, vegan, gluten-free, low-glycemic, soy-free, grain-free, paleo friendly)

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Lately I’ve been wanting to make a fruity raw dessert that was neither chocolate nor overly nutty, but I’ve been uninspired by winter fruits.  Persimmons in fall are pretty much my last love until stone fruits return in spring– my winters are spent begrudgingly munching on Fuji apples that provide no groundbreaking dessert ideas.  So, I took the dried fruit route today and hit my cupboards up for inspiration, and thankfully, my cupboards (and freezer) did me right.  Here is a chewy, sweet, tangy and decadent treat that is packed with superfoods and contains very little added sweeteners.

Magical Mulberry Squares

Base:
1 cup dried mulberries, ground in food processor or blender
1/2 cup whole dried mulberries
1/2 cup cashews, ground as above
1/4 cup dried raisins and/or cherries, ground as above
1/2 cup lucuma powder
3 scoops vanilla protein powder
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
2 tbls coconut nectar or honey
1 tsp camu camu powder
1/2 tsp Himalayan salt

Grind fruits and cashews, then mix together with all other ingredients. Mixture will be malleable and slightly sticky. Press into a 8″ baking pan and refrigerate.

Topping:
3 tbls almond butter
3 tbls coconut oil, melted
2 tbls coconut nectar or honey
1 tbls lecithin powder
1 tsp Longevity Power “Maca Bliss”*
1/4 tsp Himalayan salt

Mix all ingredients together and pour over base layer. Once firm, dust with lucuma powder and cut into squares of any desired size.
*Maca bliss is a unique maca product; it is extracted at low heat, has had the starch and fiber removed, and unlike regular maca, has no overly malty flavor. It is available online here.

My SuperSauce of the Moment

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When it comes to dressings and sauces, I typically maintain a close and strong relationship with mustard.  Any savory food + mustard = better tasting food, I feel, and I usually construct my salad dressings and dipping sauces around it.  However, just because I have monomaniacal tendencies doesn’t mean I’m a total bore, and lately I’ve been very into tamarind.  In the past I’ve bought whole dried beans and soaked them, but I’m often unsatisfied with the flavor and texture of that, so I tend to get jars of tamarind paste instead (which has no other ingredients, just the fruit).

Tamarind, in all its goodness, doesn’t particularly get along with mustard, so my sauce experiments of late have had different bases.  Through the trial and error of fridge and cupboard random ingredient exploration, I have come up with a salad dressing/dipping sauce/stir fry sauce, aka SuperSauce, that is rich, creamy, sour, sweet, salty and spicy.  The only thing we’re missing here is bitter, and I pretty much hate bitter, so this to me is a perfect combo of flavors that I have been using in everything from salad to spring rolls. It also works for basting veggies or proteins with before baking, or as a sauce for noodles (kelp, brown rice, soba, or if you’re totally retro, flour) or other grains, and can be thinned with water if desired.

Tamarind SuperSauce: (makes enough for 6-8 servings)
1/2 cup almond butter
3 tbls coconut nectar or honey
3 tbls tamari or nama shoyu
1 1/2 tbls tamarind paste
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
pinch of cayenne pepper
5-8 drops liquid stevia

Mix all ingredients together until smooth. Ratios can be changed depending on your preference, though too much more tamarind will make it unpalatably sour.  (As is, the tamarind flavor is quite prominent.)  For a more typical Asian-sauce flavor, you could substitute almond butter with peanut butter.

Tamarind SuperSauce dressing a winter salad of dino kale, shaved carrots, apples, and radishes.

 

You awake. You, awake.

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Sometimes you wake up and all is perfectly clear. Your thoughts your plans your item by item day is visceral in your hands, you are here and the day is here and your thoughts are tidy as library rows, only instead of novels and history they are brief works of daytime prose and narrative illustration.

Sometimes you wake up and instead of feeling the cat who was slept on your legs and your chest for almost 18 years you feel only a lack of weight, except in your heart which is still heavy, heavy, heavy with her loss. Which is, incidentally, where she sleeps now.

Sometimes you wake up and wonder how you got so blonde and what, subsequently, should be done about your eyebrows now that you look like someone else.

Sometimes you wake up and when you breathe you realize that you are still breathing, and what a gift that is, and without having to think too far you realize that when you get up you will be able to walk, and what a gift that is, and when you go to drink water there will be water to drink, and what a gift that is.

Sometimes you woke up and you didn’t really awake. You lost days weeks months in a poisoned haze and when you look through your pockets to see what you did for all that time, you realize you’re the kind of person who never puts anything in her pockets.

Sometimes you wake up, and truly, that is all there is. You woke up. There is love in your home. There is nothing more to ask for, except to wake up again.

S

(h)owl

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I am hunting for the sound of you,
scouring songs, dissembling diatribes, to re-find your voice.
I thought I heard you this morning
in the howl of an owl,
but when I listened more closely,
he was just confused.
He said, whoooooo, whoooooo,
As if you two had never met.

Please find me.

 

Alternate Incarnations

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Her love was of the type more quietly known than externally expressed, like a
1950′s father who knows best- the type who loves you with spankings
and admonishment, but keeps a job he hates so that you can go to
a good college and get a job you might hate and
support your own family someday.

If she were a 1950′s father, she’d have drunk heavy-bottomed
tumblers of a thick whiskey, and her stories would be told best
by the clinking ice cubes left behind.

Her love was restrained and curt, as if she were a
1950′s housewife who never left her home without a hat pinned on straight and
matching bag and shoes and when she kissed you, her lipstick
never rubbed off on you because her mouth barely grazed yours.  Her kisses
could be counted on.

If she were a 1950′s housewife, she would never add salt to your food, for
fear of the hypertension you might someday suffer from. It would be bland
food, with kind intentions. She believed in living long.

Everyone loves in a unique way. Of all the people in the world,
she chose me
to love in hers.

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