A refreshing blend of gin fennel, and papaya, and brightened with green apple and lime
I'm exhausted. We're leaving for an 11 day tour of South Carolina and Massachusetts on Monday and I am so excited, but this week has been a massive stress-fests. There is always so much to do before a trip! And with us both leaving, there's four animals and a ridiculous amount of plants to be cared for. In retrospect, this was not the smartest week to start my new post series- but hey- I'm nothing if not ambitious. And somehow in this whirlwind of stress and work and lists, I'm finding myself, surprisingly, on track. Maybe even a little ahead. The tension is finely beginning to release from my shoulders... but maybe that's just the gin! I'm very excited like to share this delicious little cocktail with you. It's super refreshing and herbal. And in the spirit of me currently enjoying this fine beverage and finally starting to relax, I'm going to stop the narrative here. Below you'll find some lovely pictures that I took with my new birthday camera (!!!!) and the (very brief) recipe. Happy Friday all! Get your fennel gin on!
Bright, fresh, plenty of crunch, and adorned with sweet fennel flowers
It's Fennel Week! On Sunday I introduced my new "About" series. This series will shine a spotlight on a vegetable, fruit, grain, herb, or legume in season now. Each "About" series will start with an informational post followed by back-to-back recipes starring our feature ingredient. The first of the about series features fennel- a hardy Mediterranean herb that packs a lot of flavor, fiber, and crunch. This particular dish uses both the fennel bulb and the flowers. The bulbs are slightly more mild and crisp while the flowers give a strong hit of sweet anise flavor. My fennel is only just starting to flower, but I'm lucky to know many gracious gardeners who've shared their abundant flowers with me. This time of year, they shouldn't be terribly difficult to find. Luckily, even if you can't get your hands on any, this salad will still be delicious and refreshing. The tart green apple, the juicy, bitter grapefruit, and the crisp, fragrant fennel compliment each other beautifully among the soft greens. I've been making some variation of this salad for a while now, with it slowly evolving each time. The balance of the recipe is just right for me, but you should know that I appreciate bitterness. If the thought of eating raw, un-sugared grapefruit turns you off, I would advocate replacing it (in both the salad and the dressing) with orange. It should substitute very nicely. The salad will pack well for lunch, as long as you reserve the dressing until you're ready to consume it. It's super refreshing- so if you've got outdoor things to do early in the day, I highly recommend it for an afternoon cool down.
Hitting reset , a new post series, and an ode to fennel
Today was the summer solstice. Tomorrow the days will start getting shorter (they're already getting hotter). And 2015 is half-way over, startlingly so. The start of the year feels so fresh in my mind. I resolved to start my days more intentionally, to acknowledge my accomplishments as well as my shortcomings, to bring myself closer to a vegan diet again. I resolved to invest more in this blog. Some of these resolutions have stuck, others have slowly faded back into the background. That's just the nature of things- progressing somewhere, regressing elsewhere, and still elsewhere standing perfectly still. But it's good to set goals for yourself, to re-evaluate your priorities and approach to life. And there's something about feeling as though a new page has turned over, a fresh start has been given. Truly every moment of every day is a fresh start, but being aware of that doesn't necessarily make me zen enough to integrate it into my every day reality. So I take advantage of moments when I can remind myself of this with some external feeling of significance, like new years. But new years isn't enough. After a strong start to the year and yet another busy spring, I'm feeling a little puttered out. So how about some summer solstice resolutions? I have a lot already in mind, probably too many, and I know I ought to pair them down rather than overwhelm myself with unrealistic expectations (another of my new year's resolutions!). So I'll share with you just a few that I am very confident in, and that have to do with food, exercise, and this here little blog. Spoiler alert: one of these resolutions has to do with you learning all about the glories of fennel today (And this post is long! Sorry).
A lighter take on custard with homemade pistachio milk, a touch of honey, and cardamom
There have been a lot of soft foods in the house lately. Chris has been getting some dental work done and eating cautiously to avoid a toothache in the meantime. On day one he brought home some preserved fruits, applesauce, bunches of soup, and pudding. Dark chocolate Jello brand pudding- those powder packets that you whisk some milk into. And although at first it seemed like just another strange mutant food product from my childhood, I have to admit that it was pretty delicious. With the weather heating up fast here, I couldn't help but think how wonderful it would be to have a cold pudding or custard around the house more often. I was not, however, sold on the prospect of eating a whole bunch of milk and sugar granules all summer long. I thought perhaps a nut milk would serve as a healthier alternative and soon it became abundantly clear what I had to do. I had to make pistachio milk. I have distinct memories of eating Jello's lime green, ridiculously artificial pistachio pudding. I used to love it, long before I ever loved actual pistachios. So now as a pistachio-lover trying to avoid dairy and artificial flavors, everything has come full circle in this pistachio milk custard, lightly sweetened with honey and accented with a hint of cardamom. This custard came together like some kind of fated romantic encounter, leaving me completely and utterly in love. It's light and creamy, nutty and floral. It feels decadent, but it's high in protein, packed with healthy omegas, and low in sugar. Indulgence doesn't have to be bad for our bodies, my friends. And you can safely indulge away with this one.
White wine sangria with stone fruit and citrus
I adore spring, but it always seems so fleeting. New growth budding up all around, warm sun and cool breezes, long days, leafy greens- it's a good season. I feel like it just arrive and yet it's already slipping through my fingers, succumbing to the intense summer sun as it charges closer each day. May was very kind to us, but June will not be so forgiving. Today it was nearly 100 degrees. The heat was not just heat, it was an omen. Summer is coming. But I'm ushering in the summer with gratitude this year. I know after a full month or two of 100 degree days I'll be singing another tune, but at the moment, summer means freedom, flexibility, and even vacation- and that is something I welcome with open arms. So what better way to celebrate the last few weeks of spring, than with a refreshing spring sangria? On a the last Monday night of the quarter after an unpleasantly sweaty ride home from work? Yes, please. I'll take two.
Crispy, shredded-carrot, potato, and scallion waffles drizzled with curry
This dish, or something like it, has been brewing in my mind for some time. It all started a few years ago, when Chris and I tried out these potato, cheddar, and chive waffles from Joy the Baker. They were gluttonous and delicious. Not exactly something I'd prepare often since they're predominately dairy and potatoes, but the idea of a savory waffle stuck with me. Perhaps a year or so later, I made malai kofta and was struck by a vision of kofta waffles drizzled in creamy malai curry. Chris wasn't sold by the idea, but I knew it could work. I still long to make this dish and I promise to report back when I do, but for whatever reason, I've never quite got around to it. It got stuffed inn the back of the ideas folder in my brain's overfilled filing cabinet and all but forgotten about. Recently, it was pulled back in to the front of my mind by a post on pinterest for hash brown waffles. I just so happened to have some left-over panang curry paste in the fridge so I decided the malai kofta waffles would have to wait just a little longer, but savory curry waffles were absolutely going to happen right away. And they did not disappoint. I think the waffles stand alone well, as crunchy savory treats, but are nicely complimented by a rich curry sauce. There's immense flexibility in the type of curry you use- Indian or Thai- either style would go willingly with the carrot and potato waffle base. They're surprisingly easy to make too, especially if you have curry on hand. And really, could there be a better use for leftovers than savory waffles with curry sauce? I think not.
Over-ripened bananas, bitter dark chocolate , and a sweet, salty, crunchy peanut topping
When I was young, I hated bananas. They are stringy and soft and, at times, off-puttingly sweet. I don't think that any of my sisters ever cared for bananas much either, but for whatever reason, my mom kept buying them. It seemed as though we constantly had a big bunch of uneaten, overripe bananas sitting in our fruit basket. Thinking back on it now, I wonder if my mom knew each time that she purchased bananas that their fate would be to become banana bread. I don't think I know a single person who doesn't like a good banana bread, regardless of their stance on bananas- myself and my sisters included. And we ate a lot of banana bread growing up. Not only did my mother make it often, but every time we visited my Nana, she'd send us home with a loaf or two and a jar of peanut butter. I'm happy to report that I do enjoy bananas now. In fact, I have several banana trees in the yard and harvest dozens upon dozens of little apple bananas every year. But once a banana starts browning, even the slightest, it may as well be banana bread already. Bananas are like peaches or melons, in that if you don't eat it in just the right window of time, they loose all of their best attributes. So I buy my bananas under-ripe and as soon as the body yellows up, I start eating them daily. Somehow last week, the bananas got neglected, and since there are few things more unpleasant to me than eating an over-ripe banana, I knew exactly what I had to do. And as often happens in the kitchen, a simple recipe that I intended to follow (my Nana's) got away from me. Happily, it led me to this creation, which, so far, has only received reviews along the lines of "Oh my god- that banana bread!".
Hi there! I'm Cara- plant ecologist, gardening addict, and whole foods enthusiast. My whole life revolves around plants, including my kitchen. Join me here at LWM each week as I post local, seasonal, plant-based recipes and write about my never ending quest to find balance and tranquility in this crazy little world.