My Journey in the Far North

thoughts, inspiration, devotions and recipes from my journey in the far north

Happy 4th of July! July 4, 2011

Cashew Cream Tart with a ‘Raw Crust’ and seasonal berries

We are heading for a HOT day today in Fresno!  And, at the moment I’m hiding indoors until I go to work at my part time job…time and half…yes, please!

This morning I made some things to contribute to the 4th of July/My mom’s Birthday party Party at my aunt’s house this afternoon. 

First, I made a ‘raw’ tart using 2 cups of raw almonds and 20 dates (finely chopped) for the crust and a cashew cream using soaked raw cashews, dates, some water and vanilla, pureed until smooth.  I topped the tart with blueberries and slices of strawberries…red, white and blue!

The cream filling recipe is from here.

And, I also made a couscous and quinoa tabbouleh salad, very similar to the salads I’ve made in the past.  I’ve used this recipe as the base for several of the salads I’ve made before.  What I like to do is add quinoa and mix it up using either bulgur wheat or couscous.  No matter what you use or not use, it’s a great recipe to adapt and can be used as a base to create your own original salad.

My adaptions to the original recipe for today’s salad include:

Doubling the batch

Using 1 cup couscous instead of bulgur (place in a bowl and top with 1 3/4 cups boiling water, cover and let water absorb couscous)

Using 1 cup of quinoa (rinse well, boil with 2 cups of water until all water is absorbed)

Using parsley AND cilantro

Couscous and Quinoa Salad with Cranberries

What are you preparing for 4th of July?  Or, what do you like to bring to parties?


Rustic Peach and Blackberry Galette June 16, 2011

Filed under: Food,Weekly Post Challenge — tlobner @ 1:19 pm
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To be honest, I really wasn’t going to post a recipe today because I already posted something today.  In fact, this recipe isn’t even mine.  But, I wanted to show you how the Rustic Peach Galettes turned out and tell you that you must try this recipe.  Follow this link for Chef Chloe’s recipe for Rustic Peach Galette.  (Just FYI, I made two galettes. The recipe only is for one galette so increase the recipe accordingly if you are making more than one galette.)

It’s really easy, especially if you forgo the homemade pastry and opt for the pastry that’s already rolled into a circle and all you have to do is unroll it and place it on a baking tray lined with parchment and available at your local grocery store, like I did.  Also, since it’s summer (and really hot right now in California), be sure to bake in the morning so that your house stays cool in the afternoon.

Try it this weekend or in weeks to come because I think this is a perfect summer dessert!  As you can see I added blackberries to the peaches, so you aren’t really limited to just peaches.  Consider other fruit options and combinations like strawberries, raspberries, apricots…with or without ice cream (or for me the dairy- free alternative…coconut or almond milk ice cream.) 

I can’t wait to have a piece tonite!!


Lemon Coconut Cookies June 7, 2011

Filed under: Food,Weekly Post Challenge — tlobner @ 1:13 pm
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I love coconut and I love lemon.  Mix both together and you’ll get these light, crunchy, yummy cookies.  Oh, and yes, they are vegan. 

Lemon Coconut Cookies

Lemon Coconut Cookies

1  1/4 cups Spelt flour (if you don’t have spelt flour, all-purpose flour is fine)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup coconut

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

2/3 cup white sugar

1 cup earth balance (soy free or whatever you prefer) vegan margarine

2-3 T lemon zest (or more as desired)

3 T fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup Lite Silken Tofu (firm), crumbled

Topping, mix these together in a bowl and set aside:

1/4 cup coconut

1/4 cup sugar


1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Sift flours, salt, coconut and baking soda together, set aside.

3. Beat margarine, sugar and lemon zest together until fluffy.

4.  Add crumbled silken tofu and lemon juice to margarine mixture.  Whip until well mixed.

5.  Add flour mix until well combine.  Add flour as necessary if batter is too soft. You want to be able to roll the dough into balls.

6.  Using a 1″ cookie scoop, scoop out cookies, and roll in topping (sugar and coconut that is set aside in a bowl).

7. Place on lined cookie sheet, and press down a little to flatten.

8. Bake for 10-15 minutes until done and lightly golden.  Take out of oven and let cookies cool on cookie rack (I take them off the cookie sheet immediately).

Makes approximately 36 cookies, if you don’t taste test.

Lemon and coconut…yummm…I wonder if Starbucks can make a lemon coconut creme frap…and if it’s any good.  Has anyone tried it?


Two Days on the Coast May 30, 2011

Thursday and Friday of this week, I took a little break and went to Santa Cruz with my mom.  She cares for a man with dementia during the week and, for the last part of the week, his wife was participating in a conference in Santa Cruz and brought her husband with her.  My mom was needed to provide care for the man.  So, I was invited to come along.  Who would want to say no to the coast?

On Thursday we arrived in Santa Cruz and picked up the man and took him to breakfast at Gayle’s Bakery in Capitola.  If you’ve never been to Gayle’s, you must.  The pain d’amande (almond croissant) was so good, so flaky and so almondy (with raisins).  Yum!

After Gayle’s, we went down to the beach front and walked around and I took pictures.  We had lunch at Zelda’s. It was right on the beach.  The sun was shining and warm and it was perfect.  Zelda’s had a guy there playing music…not just playing music he created the music on his keyboard and saved it and then accompanied the programmed with his guitar.  He sounded a little like Jack Johnson.  Perfect music for the beach! My mom and I shared an avocado and tomato sandwich with a coleslaw with a ginger, lime and cilantro dressing (non dairy).  The slaw was so good.  So good in fact that I wanted to mimic the dressing at home…

My Great Fakes: Coleslaw with Ginger, Lime and Cilantro Dressing

Place shredded cabbage mix in a bowl.  Finely chop a handful of cilantro and add to cabbage.  In a separate small bowl, mix the following…no exact measurements so it’s to taste… rice vinegar, sesame oil, agave syrup, grated ginger, juice of 1-1 1/2 limes, coarse salt if desired.  Mix the dressing to combine, taste, adjust measurements and add to coleslaw, toss to combine.  Enjoy.

Views of Capitola

Views of Capitola

In the evening we went to a restaurant as guests of the lady and her husband.  We went to a restaurant at the Wharf in Santa Cruz.  The food was nice, and all seafood which made it hard to eat vegan. 
The next day, we focused on Santa Cruz.  We took the man my mom cares for to breakfast.  He likes a full breakfast so we knew we had to find a place that served traditional breakfast food (that meant no smoothies).  We decided to go to Linda’s Seabreaze Cafe on Seabright Ave as they served traditional breakfasts and is a favorite of locals.  As we drove up to the restaurant we noticed there was a wait…always a good sign.  There was a slight wait, probably about 20 minutes.  They had self-serve coffee available for those waiting, too.  Nice touch.  My mom had their Seabreaze Spuds with homemade salsa.  She said it was so good.  I had one of their specials…Oat/Corn Waffle topped high with strawberry slices, banana slices, and kiwi slices and served with yogurt or sour cream (which I opted out of)…and of course as much maple syrup you wanted.  The waffle was really nice with a hearty, crispy texture.  I probably had all of my 5 a day right there in the fruit topping.
After breakfast, we went down to the beach and walked along the cliff tops.  We headed toward the marina and then to the lighthouse.  After I took a few pictures, we walked back to the car and drove over to lighthouse field on the other side of the Wharf to see the other small lighthouse that is now the Surfing Museum for Santa Cruz. Unbeknownst to us, there was a party at the museum celebrating 25 years, which we crashed.  They also had a display of lovingly restored Woodies for all to admire, with music from the Beach Boys and others playing the background.  It was so sunny and warm at the museum making it difficult to leave the lighthouse field area.  I would have loved to stay longer watching the surfers surf and just enjoying the warmth from the sun.  Such a great way to end our short time in Santa Cruz.
Views of Santa Cruz

Views of Santa Cruz


Gwyneth’s Spiced Apple Crumb Muffins – Recipe Review May 9, 2011

A few weeks ago I finally received my copy of Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook, My Father’s Daughter, that I had ordered and since receiving it, I have made serveral of her recipes or used her recipes as inspiration for my lunches and dinners.

The cookbook includes recipes for all diets, and she does not prescribe to or push any one diet except for encouraging us to eat food that is fresh and healthy.  Many of the recipes are adaptable for vegetarians and vegans, and many of her baked goods are dairy and egg free.  Of course, there are recipes that include meat and are not adaptable but they sound great and I’m sure meat eaters would enjoy them. 

To accompany my viewing of the Royal Wedding recently, I made her Fudgy Chocolate Brownies (page 246).  They were delicious. And, they are ‘healthy’, primarily due to the spelt flour, no granulated sugar (only using maple syrup and brown rice syrup or agave nectar), non-dairy milk and no eggs. 

This morning I wanted to try one of her muffin recipes.  I was planning on making the blueberry muffins (also egg and dairy free) found on page 230, but then I saw the recipe for Spiced Apple Crumb Muffins (page 224) and decided to make them instead so I could use up the small granny smith apples I had.

They have since finished baking, and I ate one immediately.  So good.  I’m in the middle of eating a second one, one that’s cooled a bit and it tastes great.  One of my pet peeves are muffins that stick to the muffin liners, and this muffin did not stick at all.  So it’s a winner just for that.

The crumb topping is crunchy and did not melt into the muffin…win. 

The muffin is moist…win win.

The muffin is good for you (just be careful how many you eat at one time)…win win win.

So because I don’t want to infringe on any copywrite laws I won’t be posting the recipe but you can find it on the Good Morning America website . So if you get a chance to view the recipe and attempt to make it, you should know that if you don’t have all the ingredients you can do what I did…incorporate ingredients I had on hand. 

For example:

I used almond milk instead of soy milk.

I used white flour to replace one of the spelt flours.

I added toasted coconut to the topping.

I used canola oil instead of vegetable oil.

I used regular brown sugar to replace the unrefined dark brown sugar.

Muffins ready to be eaten

The recipe is well worth making…and the book, I think, well worth buying.  If you can’t find it as My Father’s Daughter, it’s published in the UK as Notes From My Kitchen Table.


Spring and Being “Green” May 3, 2011

With Spring here, I’ve been fixated on the flowers and my one tomato plant that are blooming and growing in the patio garden.  With the weather getting warmer, they all need to be watched closely and watered frequently as needed.

I am in love with Sweet Peas at the moment.  I’ve snapped a few photos of them…take a look.

I just love how simple and beautiful they look as well as their sweet fragrance!

I’ve also been really considering my use of plastic bags when I shop.  While living in the UK, I always carried rolled up shopping bags in my bag so I would have them with me no matter where I went.  Also, because I would shop for groceries or other items during my lunch break or after work, I wanted to make sure I had them with me at all times. 

Now that I’m back in the US, I still carry my bags everywhere, but I’ve noticed that I’ve been using a lot of clear bags.  Obviously since I don’t eat meat or dairy, I buy a lot of produce and use the plastic bags for them, but lately I feel like I’ve been overdoing it with the plastic bags because of the great deals I’ve been finding in the bulk bin areas of the stores I frequent…for items like nuts, seeds, dried fruit, spelt flour, etc. 

Just throwing the bags away make me sick to think about how much I’m wasting.  So, when Earth Day rolled around, I noticed that another blogger had posted information about reusable bulk bags.  The blogger shared a couple of sites where you could buy them, but since I have not only a sewing machine at my disposal but a Hobbylock serger as well, how could I not make my own.

Last week, armed with a 50% off coupon from Joann’s, I purchased my 3 yards of 100% cotton muslin ($1.99/yrd).  I simply cut the sizes I wanted for my bags as well as cut the strips for the drawstrings and quickly sewed them up.  (I washed, dried and ironed the fabic before I got to cutting.)  I made 3 different sizes–small, medium and large.  I think they turned out great, and will use them soon.

Here they are:

The bags are so easy to make and hopefully they’ll help me avoid over using plastic bags.

Also, some stores give you cash credit if you use your own bags…Winco, Target, Whole Foods are a few that give you a few cents off your purchase for every reusable bag used.  Not sure if they’ll give credit for using your own bulk bin bags, but at least having a few reusable shopping bags on hand saves you 5 cents on up per bag.  And, I’m sure you know that when you bring your own travel mug or cold drink cup, Starbucks take a few cents off as well, and I’m all for saving a few cents here and there.

I know I’m not the only one take a few steps here and there to be “Green”…Are you doing anything new to be “Green”?


What I brought with me to Easter Dinner… April 25, 2011

Filed under: Food,Weekly Post Challenge — tlobner @ 10:39 am
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I hope you all had a lovely Easter.  I attended a sunrise service and then rushed home to make my final contribution to the Easter dinner that was held at my aunt and uncle’s house.

On Saturday, I made a Whole-Grain Vegan Carrot Cake with Lemon Glaze from Oh She Glows.  It turned out very delicious and moist!  I made it as a cake (in an 8″ round cake pan) rather than a loaf and it turned out perfect.   Don’t let the word vegan turn you away from trying this.  It’s easy and it tastes great…you won’t know it’s vegan, seriously!!  There are a few slices left and, while I want a slice right now, I will wait for after dinner tonight. (I will, I promise…oh…temptation!)

My other contribution was a salad that I have made several times since I’ve been back to the US, and it’s currently my most requested salad!  I found this recipe on the internet while living in the UK.  I adapted the recipe and brought it as my contribution for the Christmas dinner I was invited to. 

To me, the most important ingredient is Quinoa.  Quinoa (pronounced Keen-wa) and is known for its nutritional values as well as being a perfect or complete protein as it contains all 8 essential amino acids.  You can learn more here and here.  And, you can try another recipe with Quinoa I created last summer.   Quinoa is most commonly sold in stores in the ‘white’ variety, but it also comes in various colors including black and red.  I have made this salad with white and black quinoa.  I have found that the black quinoa is a hardier and nuttier in flavor and definitely suits this dish.  But don’t run out and get some unless you really want to try it…I have found black quinoa at Whole Foods and red quinoa at Whole Market/Cost Plus.

With the main ingredient being Quinoa, the salad also includes bulgur wheat in order to give it some sturdiness.  Anyways, it’s so delicious and fresh tasting thanks to the lemon juice, parsley and cilantro (aka coriander), and it would be a welcome addition to your spring and summer salads!

Quinoa and Bulgur Salad with Dried Cranberries and Pepitas

Makes 8 servings

1/2 cup Quinoa (white or a mixture of black and red along with the white), rinsed several times to remove the bitter residue, set aside

1/2 cup course-ground Bulgur

1 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion

1/2 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro

1/4-1/2 cup shredded and chopped red cabbage (optional, but adds color and crunch)

1 tsp grated lemon zest

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (about 1-2 lemons)

1/3 cup olive oil

3/4 tsp kosher salt (if using a finer grind of salt, use less)

3/4 tsp ground black pepper

1/4-1/3 cup (to taste) pepitas (to be sprinkled inside the salad and on top)

1. After rinsing the Quinoa several times, place in a small sauce pan with 1 cup water and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, turn the heat down and cover slightly with a lid.  Check and stir often.

2. Place bulgur in a large mixing bowl and add 1 cup boiling water.  Cover and let stand for 30  minutes.  (Hint: Since I’m impatient, when the quinoa is cooked and the bulgur is close to absorbing the water, I add the bulgur to the quinoa and cook a little longer on the stove to remove the excess  water.  Be sure to stir so that it doesn’t burn or stick to the bottom of the pot.)

3. When quinoa and bulgur are cooked, place in the large mixing bowl and  add all of the remaining ingredients.  Add some of the pepitas to the salad and keep remaining for the top.

4. When everything is mixed well, place into serving dish and top with remaining pepitas. Chill until read to serve.

This is a great salad because you can make changes to it…in fact I made this salad once with pecans and once with pinenuts…I made it with couscous instead of bulgur…I made it with both cranberries and raisins… so it’s very versatile!

Hope you try it and enjoy it!