April Bloomfield’s English Porridge

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New York City and the East Coast is tucked in under a layer of snow that continues to fall hour after hour. It’s the perfect day for slowly working, reading in bed, countless cups of tea, and the perfect bowl of Oatmeal!

I grew up eating a ritual of overly sweetened oatmeal made in enormous 60 quart heavy pots, bursting with plump raisins and spooned hundreds of times each morning before my carpool would pick me up from the breakfast shift at Martin de Porres where I worked along side my mom. At home I never remember eating oatmeal but rather the smooth even bowls of Farina cream of wheat. As an adult I have experimented with oatmeal of many varieties – instant in college, quick cooking for years, steel cut with its hearty bite, and cold oats in the summer, but all of my hot bowls of oatmeal have left me wanting something, that is until recently.

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All of my oatmeal dreams came true in one recipe from April Bloomfield, its not complicated, doesn’t take much time, and ultimately changed how I look and feel about my morning bowl of oats. I have loved this warm and hearty bowl of oats a combination of both rolled oats and steel cut leaves a consistency both soft and smooth with just the right amount of bite and give between the teeth. Cooking them in milk and water makes them richer and more flavorful. I have made them lightly sweetened at times or completely unsweetened at other times; I have finished them with a slick of syrup, or some berries, or a banana and peanut butter, or completely on their own. The recipe makes 2-3 servings and I like to make it and then warm up each bowl on the following mornings. Sometimes the easiest things are the best things.

I hope you are warm, dry, and if you are lucky I hope you will be able to snuggle down and eat a bowl of these oats in the very near future.

Love,

Ramona

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April Bloomfield’s English Porridge from Food 52

Ingredients:

1½ cups of milk (any kind of milk – I have used coconut, almond, soy, and dairy and they are all great) 

1½ cups of water

1½ teaspoons salt

½ cup rolled oats

½ cup steel-cut oats

Optional – about 2 tablespoons of sugar during cooking process

  • Combine the milk, water, and salt in a saucepan and set over high heat. As soon as liquid comes to a gentle simmer, add both kinds of oats and lower heat to low.
  • Cook the oats at a steady simmer, stirring frequently and lowering the heat as necessary to maintain the simmer but not bubble over.
  • After about 20 min the rolled oats will have turned soft and almost melted, while the steel cut oats will be tender and have the slightest bite, and all of the liquid will have been absorbed.
  • If you wish to sweeten the entire pot of oats use 2 tablespoons of sugar when you add the oats.
  • Finish with berries, banana, nuts, maple syrup, or anything that makes you happy.

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15

03 2017

Recipe Index and Pumpkin Cranberry Loaf Cake

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My Purple Sky now has a Recipe Index! Yay!

Yes, that means that now you can search for that favorite cookie (Anne’s Ginger Snaps) or a soup (Cauliflower, Mustard, and Cheddar Cheese) or just find some inspiration in one easy place. And to celebrate I made one of my favorite winter cakes – a pumpkin and cranberry cake! Let’s celebrate and eat cake!

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I found this cake a few years ago and have been a devote the last few years but kept forgetting to post the recipe here. The original cake was made with buckwheat but I am not a huge fan of buckwheat and have found it just as delicious with my regular everyday flour. I love the earthiness from squash or pumpkin ever so slightly spicy, not too sweet and studded with bright and tart cranberries. Its perfect sliced and next to your morning coffee or after dinner with tea, and perhaps there is recurring theme of that it pairs nicely with a warm beverage, but be not fooled it is just as good in thick slices as a snack between meals or snuck in bites late at night.

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Pumpkin Cranberry Loaf Cake

Ingredients:

1 stick of butter

1 cup of muscovado (dark brown) sugar

2 large eggs

1 + 1/8 cup flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

1-teaspoon baking powder

1-teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon nutmeg

¼ teaspoon salt

¾ cup squash puree or pumpkin puree (whatever you like)

¾ cup cranberries (fresh or frozen, but not dried)

  • Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Line a loaf pan with parchment paper so that it is overlapping all of the sides and will later be used to pull the entire cake out of the pan in one move.
  • Combine butter, sugar, and eggs in the bowl and beat on medium speed until light in color, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, pumpkin puree and beat on low speed until smooth.
  • Fold in the cranberries.
  • Bake the loaf for 45 -50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Cool the loaf in the pan for 30 minutes before using the parchment to lift the cake up and let cool completely on a rack.
  • The cake keeps for several days on the counter, wrapped loosely in parchment or plastic wrap.

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09

03 2017

My Soul Sister’s Potato, Kale, White Wine Soup

“Nevertheless she persisted”

Well hello there! I have found it hard to figure out what to say or how to say anything lately that feels it could properly convey what I am thinking or feeling. The world feels strange and in equal amounts dark with small light but transitory bubbles of hope. I have thought about what to say and if I should say anything here and if so how when everything feels sad, confusing, scary, frustrating, and infuriating, and did I mention sad. And in this not knowing I have kept coming back to silence, my silence in not knowing what to say or do. 

Nevertheless I have and will continue to persist in small (and some larger) ways however I can. I march, I volunteer with organizations and communities I believe in, I see communities growing and taking root every where I look, I spend time with friends, I bake and cook, and I continue in daily life. Last month I went to DC and marched with friends as part of the Women’s March on Washington and it was one of the most historic and extraordinary days of my life. The collective, peaceful, and profound outcry for finding a way to work together has to be one of the most inspiring moments I have ever witnessed, it also reminds me to look for these people and these moments whenever I can.

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On our walk back to the bus in DC my friends and I passed a storefront with the sign “Soul Sisters & Brothers We Support You!” and it made me think of my beautiful, strong, and compassionate soul sister September. My soul sister is an advocate and ceaseless warrior for children, both her own two sons, and in the work she does. She is one of the smartest people I know, and one of the most fun people to talk to. September came into our family’s life when I was a young self conscious teenager and she was in her early 20s; we have always looked similar and as a teenager who felt uncomfortable and self conscious in her own changing body I looked at September and thought if I could grow up to look like her I might be beautiful. She was the first glimpse I had of self acceptance at a time when I needed the hope most, and she has continued to be that glimpse of possibility in my life to this day. 

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Years ago, shortly after my mom died September stayed with me for a few days and on a particularly hard night she made a simple but delicious soup of potato, kale, and white wine. Recently I made that same soup and it comforted me as much now as it did on that night years ago. The delicate balance of only a few ingredients brought together to make a rustic, warm and enjoyable bowl of sustenance, the earthy notes of potato and kale, the sweet hint from carrot, the complexity from wine, and a dash of heat from red pepper flakes. It may not answer any of my questions or be the thing I was struggling to say but it also served as a moment of hope and light and reminded me to look toward that and persist towards that no matter the silence, the confusion, or any set back. 

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With all my love now and ever to my soul sister September and here is the recipe for her Potato, Kale, White Wine Soup. In other news of encouragement my sister recently published her first book of poetry that can now be purchased on Amazon and shared. Its a beautiful book and I am so tremendously proud of my sister for her eloquent words and her strength in sharing so honestly about the truly darkest days of life.

Wishing you love, light, and persistence, 

Ra

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My Soul Sister’s Potato, Kale, White Wine Soup

Ingredients:

1 tbs Butter

1 medium onion chopped

2 stalks of celery chopped

1 carrot grated

2 russet baking potatoes thinly sliced almost until transparent

1 ½ cups white wine (use whatever white wine you enjoy drinking)

1 ½ cups water or vegetable stock

½ bunch (approx. 2 cups) of kale chopped

Pinch of red pepper flakes

Salt & Pepper to taste

  • Chop and sauté onion in the butter.
  • Add celery and grated carrot to the onion and continue to sauté until soft.
  • Slice potato on a mandolin or using the widest angle on a box grater, ultimately looking for thin slices of potato that are almost translucent. Add potato to the vegetable mixture and sauté until soft.
  • Cover with equal parts wine and broth, you may need more depending on the size of your potatoes. Salt and pepper to taste and add red pepper flakes. Bring to a slow simmer.
  • Stem and chop kale and then add to the soup until wilted.
  • Serve and enjoy.

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25

02 2017

Turmeric-Roasted Cauliflower with Coconut-Lime Forbidden Rice

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For the past few years I have liked to start the new year off with a small detox, nothing crazy just being more mindful after the holiday food extravaganzas; something to help my body bounce back and feel a little fresher and less sluggish. I use recipes from Goop and Bon Appétit, I’ve done them for varying amounts of time anywhere from a week – 2 weeks and the longest was about 18 days. In reality I try to do these detoxes every time the seasons change if I can to varying degrees of commitment and success. 

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I had intended to start 2017 off with the detox and I had planned my way through the first two weeks as I work and what I could take on preparing. And then before we even reached 2017, on new years eve in fact, I received a beautiful gift of a cookbook I had been wanting Classic German Baking (thanks Bari!)….and well, I started January 1st by baking cookies from said cookbook. But I stayed on the plan other then the cookies (no diary, no caffeine, no alcohol, no wheat or grains other then some rice)…that was of course until this weekend. All to say I didn’t do as well on the plan as I did at the start of 2016. 

Then I went to yoga on January 2nd and my class that ranges in size normally from 5 people to maybe 10 was brimming with over 15. The teacher started by acknowledging the larger class and welcoming new people, she also talked about new years resolutions and yoga. She talked about the practice and how its less about each pose and being there every week and more about listening to yourself, meeting yourself each day where you are, accepting yourself, and forgiving yourself. I have a tough time forgiving myself or others (but especially myself). I give people a lot of chances in life but I tend to give myself less chances – I should master it right out of the gate, work hard but do it and do it well, and every slip I judge and ruminate over. I need to give myself the chances and the benefit of the doubt that I give other people (thank you to my wonderful soul sister for imparting this gem on me). So I did my yoga practice on January 2nd and again later in the week, I ate mostly clean and followed mostly my detox that first week, and I loved my German cookies all the while! And most importantly I tried to see it not as a failed attempt but for all the good I did my body in what I did put in. 

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And while I am talking about some detoxing, some forgiving, and some starting 2017 off on as bright a note as we can all muster how about a delicious recipe that is detox friendly but tastes and feels perfect all of the time. This recipe comes from Goop detox and I have to admit its so easy, quick, and wonderfully satisfying that after making it once it has become a regular recipe in my kitchen no matter what else I am cooking or eating. Warm, exotic notes of turmeric and ginger elevate the already delicious nature of roasted cauliflower, and black forbidden rice with coconut and lime feels exactly like its name – forbidden and luxurious. The entire thing comes together in about half an hour and uses only one pan and a cookie sheet. Its forgiving in your time, in your effort, in the ingredients it uses, and while I feel forgiven with each mouthwatering bite I also feel like I am indulging and enjoying with each grain of rice and floret of cauliflower. 

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Turmeric-Roasted Cauliflower with Coconut Lime Forbidden Rice from Goop

Ingredients:

For The Coconut Lime Forbidden Rice:

1 cup vegetable broth

1 cup coconut milk

1 cup forbidden rice

zest & juice of 1 lime

2 tablespoons flacked coconut 

For The Turmeric-Roasted Cauliflower

1 cauliflower stemmed and chopped into florets

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • Preheat oven to 400°F
  • In a medium pot, bring vegetable broth and coconut milk to a boil, add forbidden rice and cover.
  • Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and simmer until all liquid has been absorbed (about 30 min) stirring occasionally. 
  • Remove rice from heat and uncover, add lime zest, juice, and coconut and stir until well distributed. Fluff with a fork before serving. 
  • Meanwhile, rub the cauliflower with the coconut oil and all spices except for black pepper until its well coated. Place on parchment lined pan (this is important because turmeric will leave some yellow behind), keeping pieces from touching each other.
  • Roast for 20-30 minutes or until cauliflower is golden brown and tender. 
  • Serve Cauliflower over rice. 

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11

01 2017

Magical Cartagena For Christmas

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For the second year in a row my sister and I traveled south of the border for Christmas and spent the holidays together overseas, this year we ventured to Cartagena Colombia for a week. We wandered and wondered our way through the dreamlike and beautiful colonial streets of the old walled city, we swam in turquoise waters, we basked in the magic of a city I have always dreamed of visiting.

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Our holiday excursions have become a new and memorable way to celebrate the holidays together all while deeply imbued with the memory of our mother. Christmas growing up was a special holiday in our house with dozens and dozens of guests, with pots of coffee, eggs, bagels, and more cookies then one could possibly eat, at the holiday’s very beating center was our mother in her slippers and her generous smile. To say the least a traditional Christmas together has seemed hard to contemplate these last 7 years but the last 2 years being together in a warm and foreign destination has felt like the best way to make a tradition of our own or at the very least a stepping stone from one deep tradition to the next. And to say our mother’s memory is with us is an understatement, especially in Cartagena we both kept saying to each other “mom would love this!” We could see our mom sitting with us in the cool shade of Plaza de Bolívar, we could hear her exclaim how beautiful the colorful houses with draping bougainvillea are, and we could feel her smile as we soaked in the hot sun.

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Cartagena is called the crown jewel of the caribbean and for good reason the stunning colors of the houses, the cobblestone streets that wind and keep you gasping at the beauty around each corner, the hot air that is refreshingly cooled by sea breezes. We spent our first day getting lost along the streets and wandering from Plaza to Plaza eating Paletas and then walking along the old wall that stretches between the old city and the ocean. We soaked in our small rooftop pool and ate fish and coconut rice as we sipped coconut lemonades. For the record next summer I will be making coconut lemonades all summer because where has this been all of my life?!

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We spent the next few days on a small Island in the Rosario Islands about an hour boat ride from the city. We stayed at a wonderful small eco hotel that felt more like staying with the most gracious hosts in their home. We swam in turquoise waters right off of any number of docks, we kayaked amid different islands with the sun kissing our shoulders and the warm water gently rocking us, we napped and read in hammocks, and one night we even went swimming with bioluminescent plankton in an enchanted lagoon. The days were long and slow and beautifully rich in nature. We enjoyed one of our favorite nightly pass times watching sunsets with no distractions or rush.

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We came back to Cartagena in time for Christmas in the city with Zumba in Plaza de La Trinidad and a walking street food tour on our last day. Our days were filled walking from the Getsemaní district and looking at murals to the old town and back again. We spent our time wandering and taking pictures, sitting in Plazas and drinking fresh coconuts in front of brightly painted houses.

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But this would also only be part of the story. Travel is one of my favorite things but it is not always the easiest thing, I have suffered my share of traveler tummies and achy muscles from too much walking on trips from Vietnam to Spain and in between. But after a particularly harrowing boat trip back to Cartagena on Christmas eve I was struck with one of my worst illnesses yet. Between a brutal stomach bug and body that felt like it had been hurled across the ocean (my sister got off of the boat looking like she had taken a full shower in her clothes) we moved slowly stopping often to sit on benches and just look around us at the beauty while I caught my breath. I moved slowly but also saw how kindly my sister could take care of me.

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It would also be hard to ignore the greater context in which we took this trip as we approached a new year and one that seems rather strange at first glance. As I walked through the unfamiliar streets of a new country it was hard to not think about travel and what travel might be like in the new year. I have always considered myself first and foremost a citizen of the world and I understand that in 2017 how the world might see people from America may change. I have traveled to 31 countries, that number sounds hard to believe and truly fortunate; along those trips I have talked to people my own age in Cambodia about Pol Pot, in Panama about Noriega, I have talked to people my parents age in East Germany about living with half of their family on one side of the wall and the other half on the other side, I have talked about Snowden and the Holocaust with friends from Germany, France, and England, I have been humbled, enlightened and at times flat out yelled at because of where I am from. I have always learned from the exchange and it has always broadened my view and my understanding about my own country and the world.

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I thought a lot in Columbia about travel and what it means to me and what it might look like in the years ahead. I also thought a lot about how much travel gives me and about the exchanges it brings into a life. I thought about considering myself an ambassador for the United States that I believe in (if not the one in the news). An ambassador for an America that believes in acceptance, inclusion, hope, curiosity for other people and cultures, a country that is trying to move towards love and peace. Because at the end of the day wherever I travel that is the message I wish to carry with me and leave with the people I meet.

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Helpful Cartagena Travel Links:

Casa La Fe – Hotel

Les Lezards – B&B in Getsemaní

La Mulata – Restaurant

Demente – Restaurant

La Cevicheria – Restaurant

Cafe Del Mar – Drinks and Restaurant

La Paletteria – Palletas

 

05

01 2017

Yotam Ottolenghi’s Spice Cookies

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Growing up my one of my favorite Christmas books was The Sweet Smell Of Christmas – a scratch and sniff book about all of the scents of Christmas. It was a magic book filled with every fragrance I loved from the season – apple pie, pine from trees, ginger from cookies. I would scratch and smell and smell and smell, in fact I used the book so much it all started to smell alike, the sugar and ginger from cookies, the pine from trees, and oranges from little bears stocking all became one larger scent of Christmas. I loved that book and how it all became one big sensory seasonal explosion. A few years ago Bari found a copy of the book and bought it for her kids, immediately upon seeing it I yelled it was my favorite holiday book and everyone laughed.

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I may have outgrown a book with scented stickers but the smell of Christmas never grows old to me – the fresh pine on the streets where trees are sold, the ginger and sugar of baked goods, and the citrus from bowls of oranges immediately bring a smile to my face. A few years ago I ran upon a recipe for Spice Cookies from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s cookbook Jerusalem, these cookies became a yearly staple and possibly my favorite cookie to bake on dark December nights. They are loaded with warm spices, flecked with chocolate, enlivened by citrus they remind me of my favorite German cookies Lebkuchen that I literally load my bag with on visits to Berlin.

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Baking these this year for a friends holiday gathering the scents of spice, citrus, and a touch of Grand Marnier reminded me of the book The Sweet Smell Of Christmas and the joy it brought to me as a child. The nostalgia for childhood smells baked into an adult cookie could there be anything more perfect for a Christmas memory, I might say no. I have made these cookies both with the currents and liquor and without as a kid friendly alternative and both are great. They are warm from spice, hinted of chocolate and citrus, and sweet enough to create a holiday memory for anyone.

I hope you enjoy these as much as I do.

Love,

Raimg_0078Ottolenghi’s Spice Cookies
adapted from Jerusalem: A Cookbook

Ingredients:

¾ cup currants

2 tablespoons Grand Marnier (the original recipe called for brandy but I made this swap and rather liked it)

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ teaspoons best-quality cocoa powder

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon each ground cinnamon, allspice, ginger, and nutmeg

¼ teaspoon salt

4 ounces good-quality dark chocolate, coarsely grated or chopped

½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

2/3 cup superfine sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon grated lemon zest

½ teaspoon grated orange zest (plus juice from the orange)

½ large free-range egg

Glaze:

3 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

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  • Soak the currants in the Grand Marnier (or brandy) for 10 minutes.
  • Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, spices, salt, and dark chocolate.
  • Beat the butter, sugar, vanilla, and lemon and orange zest to combine about 1 minute. With the mixer or beater running, slowly add the egg and mix for about 1 minute.
  • Add the dry ingredients, followed by the currants and brandy. Mix until everything comes together. I usually squeeze the juice of the orange as the dough is very dry and this added moisture helps hold it together and adds some nice flavor echoing the zest.
  • Gently knead the dough in the bowl with your hands until it is uniform.
  • Divide the dough into size of golf balls and roll each chunk into a perfectly round ball.
  • Place the balls on 1 or 2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing them about ¾ inch apart, and let rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 375°F. Bake the cookies for 15 minutes, until the top firms up but the center is still soft.
  • Remove from the oven. Once the cookies are out of the oven, allow to cool for 5 – 10 minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack.
  • While the cookies are still warm, whisk together the glaze ingredients until a thin and smooth. Pour a tablespoon of the glaze over each cookie, leaving it to drip and coat the cookie.
  • Repeat the glaze step for a thicker glaze. Leave to set and then serve, or store in an airtight container for a day or two.

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09

12 2016

Jessica’s Corn Pudding

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For as unconventional a life as I grew up in I have always felt like I was a bit of a traditionalist and sentimentalist. I love tradition and ritual. I love holidays! I love the lights of Christmas, the latkes and candles of Chanukah, and a giant meal with loved ones on Thanksgiving. I have fond memories of playing a version of football with my uncles and cousins on Jomar Drive in Napa; and of Thanksgivings spent on a farm in upstate New York with Zelda’s family; and cooking next to one of my oldest and dearest friends for years in her kitchen in Pennsylvania.

I am very fortunate to have a number of friends from my youth, decades of friendship stretched over distance but still bound tight with instant love and familiarity when we see each other again. My mother always said the mark of a real friendship was its ability to seamlessly pick up when you see the other person despite time or space. Two of these friends are Zelda’s nieces whom I met when we were 5 or 6 on their farm in upstate New York, and a lifelong friendship began. We spent weeks of the summer together and for a few years a week in February. I loved the farm and my days with them milking cows, making up songs, playing in Aunt Rose’s house and imagining a life that was so different from the one I lived in San Francisco. Our friendship stretched through our childhood and into adolescence, it moved through college, and into our 20s and 30s. I was honored to be at their weddings and watch as they had children and find my own friendship with their daughters and son. I spent many a Thanksgiving with Jessica and her family as it grew in Pennsylvania, baking pies late into the night and then delicately moving around each other the next day as we cooked a giant traditional feast. I loved the way we both talked and didn’t as we chopped and mixed ingredients and washed the never-ending stacks of dishes.

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Jessica is one of those special friends you find in life, one who grows with you and continues to grow through changes and triumphs and defeats. She is one of the kindest and most generous spirits I know. She is humble and gracious. She is warm and encouraging and wise. She is observant and honest. She is one of the best mothers I know and I have watched her for years in awe and hoped that someday I can be a fraction of the mother she is. It was an honor to stand with her on the day she got married and to hold each of her 4 daughters as babies. I have always felt grateful to have a friend like Jessica in my life because she is the truest definition that I know of what a friend should be – a person who you go through life with, a person who you hold in your heart and you know holds you in theirs not for a few days or years but for a lifetime.

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This past year Jessica was diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC) she has taken on the hardest part of her life the way she has taken on everything else I have seen her take on – with truthfulness, acceptance, determination, and faith. She has undergone 6 months of chemo, surgery, and now radiation. I have been inspired so many times in life by Jessica and this past year has been another example of how much I admire her. She is so open and honest in sharing this journey, she writes beautifully about the experience and has bared both her fears and her faith. She is one of the most optimistic and realistic people at the same time. I have been moved by her fight and her resilience, how she is handling this with such grace and inspiration.

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I have been thankful for her friendship for so many decades but this year I felt particularly thankful to have her in this world and in my life. In the years that we shared Thanksgiving she always made this corn pudding that I loved and then one year she wrote the recipe on a card to send me home with it along with leftovers. The last few years I have made her corn pudding to everyone’s enjoyment and found that for me it feels like the quintessential Thanksgiving dish – filled with butter, sour cream, corn, imbued with a history of friendship, and then lovingly baked in a casserole until warm and brown. I texted with Jessica on Thanksgiving morning and told her I was making her corn pudding, I thought of her as I mixed the ingredients together, and I thought of our many years of friendship and what I hope is many more years of love and sharing as I ate the corn pudding cold directly from the fridge on Friday morning.

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Perhaps it is the sentimental side of me that loves tradition, it’s the side of me that likes to feel the history and years fold up on each other in a single recipe and the way it can bring back a lifetime of memories and love. I am lucky to call Jessica my friend, I have been lucky to call her a friend for over 30 years, and I will continue to feel lucky to call her a friend as we move forward into future years of life together.

Love,

Ra

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Jessica’s Corn Pudding

Ingredients:

1 stick butter

2 eggs

2 cans cream style corn

8oz of sour cream or milk

1 box of Jiffy muffin mix (8 ½ oz)

  • Pre heat oven to 350°
  • Melt butter in 13x9x2 inch baking dish
  • Combine all of the ingredients except the butter and mix well.
  • Add the butter to the combined ingredients and mix again.
  • Pour into the pan that melted butter and bake for 45 min – 1 hour until golden brown and set.
  • Enjoy hot, room temperature, or cold the next day.

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29

11 2016

Rosquillas de Vino – Spanish Wine Cookies

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On my last trip to Spain I was introduced to these small and simple cookies called Rosquillas de Vino (Wine Cookies). They were dainty, delicate, and lightly hinted of wine – I loved them straight from the plate or box, dunked in morning coffee, or dipped in a glass of after dinner wine. I came home with a box of these cookies and savored every bite while thinking about Spain and its beauty. I also fully intended to bake them myself, but then life got busy and the small pleasure of simple but perfect cookies slipped like the days along the Mediterranean into a memory. That was until the other week when I went to see the new Pedro Almodovar film JULIETA at the New York Film Fest. The film was as sumptuous as Spain and made me want to return. It also reminded me of the cookies I loved as much as the olive oil, the art, the sun soaked days. 

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This recipe is a compilation of a few recipes I found online, and while I am not sure if it is the quintessential recipe it reminded me of the light, slightly sweet cookies kissed with anise and olive oil and a touch of wine. They are traditional for Christmas but I found them just as lovely in the summer along the Costa Blanca and in Fall in Brooklyn. There is so much I love about travel but one of my favorite things is the way the memories, the tastes, the images enrich my life long after I return home; the way a place changes me and a part of the place stays with me forever. These Rosquillas de Vino will always remind me of the full moon over the Mediterranean and the days I have spent in Barcelona, Cadaques, and the Costa Blanca, all places that now inhabit parts of my heart. 

Beso,

Ramona

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Rosquillas de Vino Recipe – Spanish Wine Cookies

This recipe made approx 3 dozen cookies.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup butter

1 and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup wine (I used a white Albarino wine, but saw these also made with red wine)

1 tbs anise extract or anise seeds ground

3 cups flour

granulated sugar for topping cookies

  • Preheat the oven to 350°. Prepare and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. 
  • Using a hand mixer combine the sugar, olive oil, butter, and baking powder together in a large mixing bowl.
  • Add wine and anise and mix well.
  • Add flour one cup at a time; the mixture will seem dry or crumbly. I mixed the last cup in using my hands.
  • Working with a small amount of dough at one time roll into a rope 1/3″ thick on an un-floured cutting board. 
  • Cut into 4″ long pieces and fold into a circle with an overlapping end (kind of like a wreath). 
  • Place on the prepared cookie sheet. Continue to roll and form cookies. 
  • Bake cookies 18 – 20 minutes or until they become golden in color. Be careful to not burn the bottoms. 
  • Let cool on a wire rack for 5-10 minutes.
  • Roll cookies while still warm in a dish with granulated sugar until they are nicely coated. 

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23

10 2016

Fresh Thai Salad with Cayenne Cashews

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“It’s been about the sun and the moon. It’s been about happy times together. It’s been about the shade and the old people and the children. It’s been about colors in Fall. It’s been about seasons…” ~ THE FALL OF FREDDIE THE LEAF by Leo Buscaglia

We are solidly settling into fall here in New York and that is not a bad thing. Fall and Spring have always been my favorite seasons in New England the change and the slow feeling of relief and gratitude for more temperate days and nights and the visible transformation of color in all of nature. The sentiments of this time of year feel so fittingly captured in this quote from the children’s book THE FALL OF FREDDIE THE LEAF.

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And just as the sentiments of fall are captured in this quote they are also captured in this salad. This is a salad filled with color, subtle spice, crisp crunch just like the autumn leaves on the ground. The purple, red, orange, and green salad is dressed in a delicious and enticing nut (either almond or peanut) dressing, and an exotic touch from the spices and the toasted cashews. It holds up well to travel and it makes both my appetite and my taste buds happy, added bonus is all of the healthy ingredients. This salad is about colors, its about seasons, and its about enjoying what we have in front of us.

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Fresh Thai Salad with Cayenne Cashews From Goop

 
Ingredients for the cayenne cashews:

1/3 cup cashews

1 teaspoon coconut oil

¼ teaspoon salt

⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Ingredients for the dressing:

1 tablespoon almond butter or peanut butter

Juice + zest of 1 lime

Pinch of Cayenne Pepper

2 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce

1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger

1 clove garlic grated

4 tablespoons sesame oil

1 tablespoon honey

Ingredients for the salad:

2 carrots, washed and julienned or finely chopped

1 red pepper, seeded, stemmed, and finely chopped

1 cup purple cabbage, finely chopped

1 cup cilantro, washed and chopped

  • In a saucepan over medium heat, lightly toast the cashews, tossing constantly, until fragrant and golden brown. Toss with cayenne, coconut oil, and salt; set aside.
  • Pulse together all dressing ingredients until smooth.
  • Pour over vegetables and cilantro, tossing until well coated. Top with cayenne cashews.

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14

10 2016

Montego Bay Bars

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The other weekend the weather turned from summer to fall and I wanted to bake something but didn’t know what I wanted to bake. I didn’t want cookies, it wasn’t a cake I had in mind, I wanted something slightly fruity but also a bit of chocolate. I didn’t want to spend a lot of time on baking and I didn’t want a lot of ingredients.

I looked through old recipes I had filed away and at blogs, but what I was looking for eluded me. That brought me to the tried and true 1976 Betty Crocker cookbook that always lived on the thick wood book shelves in my mother’s kitchen and now lives on a narrow wood bookshelf in my hall. Before the internet or as my mom called it “Mr Google” there was the Betty Crocker cookbook. It could teach you how to make rice, roast a chicken, or decorate a cake, all in one book everything was there in the yellowing pages that are starting to separate from the spine of the book. I leafed through and fell on Montego Bay Bars…and just like that I knew. This was what I had been looking for!

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I had never made these growing up, there is no emotional story to connect to, I had first heard of these bars at a favorite Brooklyn bakery but had never felt more then a curiosity towards them. But as I read they seemed perfect – the centers were chocolate and slightly jammy from dates, the crumb was easy and I had most of the ingredients on hand, and they were fast and uncomplicated. I made them and felt jubilant at finding exactly what it had been I was looking for.

Indeed these bars were so good I gushed about them to Anne who shortly there after made them herself. The recipe has been altered slightly, Anne thought we needed more butter to hold them together and she was correct, and I wanted to try toasting the nuts. You could use any nut but to echo the exotic feel of the name Montego Bay Bars and the way it makes me invasion white sand beaches and swaying palm trees I choose a combination of macadamia nuts and almonds. For all of my flare for the dramatic I am not exaggerating (or I might be) when I say these bars might just change your life. They might make you want to make them again and again, they might be the perfect answer to the elusive what shall I bake conundrum, or they might just make your taste buds happy and sometimes that is enough in life. 

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Montego Bay Bars

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups cut-up dates

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

3/4 cups water

1 1/2 ounce bittersweet chocolate (60-70% dark)

1/2 cup butter softened (1 stick)

1/2 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 cup quick-cooking oats

1/3 cup chopped nuts (I liked almonds and macadamia to make it fancy but walnut or cashew would also be good)

  • Heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease square pan, 8x8x2 or 9x9x2 inches. 
  • Cook dates, granulated sugar, water, and chocolate in a saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, about 10 minutes or until mixture thickens. Cool.
  • Meanwhile cream the butter and brown sugar. Mix in remaining ingredients. 
  • Press half the mixture evenly into bottom of pan. Spread with date mixture; top with remaining crumble mixture, pressing lightly. 
  • Bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool; cut into bars.

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11

10 2016