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?


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.


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!


Spring Rainy Day Baking – Apricot Almond Cake (egg & dairy free) April 7, 2011

Filed under: Food,Weekly Post Challenge — tlobner @ 11:30 am
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After such great weather over the past couple of weeks, today we have rain (but the higher you go up the West Coast, you’ll find hail, ice and snow like in Washington state…so, is it really spring??).

Anyways, I get an email daily from and one of their 9 showcased blogs included an apricot almond cake.  Totally got me thinking about apricots (love) and almonds (love love) and everything with almond flavoring (love love love). But, since the recipe included dairy and eggs, I searched for a non-dairy and egg version…you know, a vegan version.

I found one that looked easy enough and included ingredients I had. The only problem the recipe was in metric measurements instead of the imperial measurements we use in the US.  Since I have dealt with metric measurements while living in the UK, all I had to do was convert the recipe.  Ok, not so simple.  The converted measurements were not your even cup measurements…so I had to adjust the recipe a little to make it work approximately with the metric measurements.  I, also, made a baking temperature adjustment as well as baking time adjustment.  The cake is beautiful…golden and almond-y…and it tastes so good.  Perfect for a baking on a spring rainy day.

Apricot Almond Cake

Apricot Almond Cake (egg and dairy free)


1 1/4 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup ground almonds (do this in the food processor)

2/3 cup apricots, chopped (food processor works great here too)

1/2 cup soy free Earth Balance

2 T Caro Syrup (I used light, but you can use golden OR if you have Golden Syrup, use it)

1 tsp almond extract (I used a lot because it simply poured out too fast, so add more if you like)

2/3 cup nut milk (I used almond, but soy will work too)


1 T sugar

2 T flaked almonds

Preheat oven to 35oF (18oC)

Using an 8″ round cake pan, grease lightly and line bottom with parchment.  I used a springform pan.

Mix the first 6 ingredients.

Melt (microwave is fine) the ‘butter’ and the caro syrup (or golden syrup).  Add the nut milk and the almond extract.  Mix and add to the dry ingredients.  Stir.

Spoon into the cake pan and top with 2 T flaked almonds and 1 T sugar.

Bake for approximately 25-30 minutes, until golden and tested as being done using a cake tester.

Apricot Almond Cake


Peach and Almond Streusel Muffins March 24, 2011

I’ve been back in the US now for just over 2 months and in between looking for jobs, I’ve been keeping up with my cooking and baking.  Today I noticed that muffins, streusel muffins to be exact, are making their rounds on blogs.  And being inspired by several blogs, I decided to make my own streusel muffins. 

Peach and Almond Streusel Muffins

Before I made the Peach and Almond Streusel Muffins, I made a batch of black bean burgers from a recipe from the Daily Garnish, a blog I frequent.  The patties are currently individually wrapped in the freezer waiting to be baked and used, so I haven’t actually tried them baked.  However, I did taste the patty mixture and it’s pretty good.  If you are looking for a different burger patty recipe, you should check out this recipe. 

Just so you know, I adjusted the recipe for the burger patties a little basically using what I had on hand.  Instead of using canned beans, I started with dry beans, soaked them overnight with a 3″ square of Kombu (found in health food shops or asian markets– it’s supposed to help with the gas issue and aid in digestion).  After soaking them, I rinsed the beans and added more water and placed it on the stove cook (don’t forget to add the Kombu back into the pot).  The beans were brought to a boil and foam was skimmed off, and once the water turned greenish purple, I removed the Kombu and any foam and placed it back on the stove to cook until the bean were cooked through.  Then, I proceeded with the rest of the recipe as noted.  I did not have onion powder so that was not added, and I did not have pepitas so I used walnuts.  Also, I pureed the mixture a little longer because I wanted it more smooth before I added the rest of the beans as stated in the recipe.  After making them into patties (I got 9 not 6, probably due to processing the mixture longer and adding a little more olive oil), I placed them on a baking sheet and put them in the freezer.  After they had been in the freezer a while, I individually wrapped them with plastic wrap.  Once I’m ready to use them I will  follow the recipe to cook them.  I think they’ll taste great.  So give them a try.

After cleaning up the kitchen, I went back in and made the muffins.  They just came out of the oven and I tasted one immediately (probably best to let it cool a little for the flavors to come together) but the first taste was great.  They weren’t too sweet and they are really moist.

So, if you are looking for a healthy, vegan streusel muffin with almonds and peaches to bring you a little hint or reminder of warm summer days to come…try this recipe!

Peach and Almond Streusel Muffins – Vegan

What you’ll need:

1 cup almond milk

1 T apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup canola oil

1/2 tsp almond extract

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup ground flax seed

1 cup white all purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1/4 cup cane sugar (or raw sugar)

1/3 cup slivered almonds, crushed

1 1/2 cup frozen peaches, cut into bite size chunks

Streusel Topping:

1/4 cup brown sugar

2-3 T earth balance soy free spread

1/4 cup all purpose flour

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/3 cup slivered almonds

How to make it:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Grease muffin tin and line with muffin cases. Oven temperature will be reduced once the muffins have been in the oven for two minutes.

Combine the almond milk and vinegar and set aside.  Combine all the dry ingredients.  Finish combining the wet ingredients and add to the dry.  Add peaches.

Make the streusel topping in the food processor or in a bowl.  Mix until combined and work-able.  You want it dry-ish so that you can mold it into chunks. (Put some of the topping in your hand and squeeze it to keep it together.  To use break off chucks and crumble over muffin).  If the topping is too soft it will just melt into the muffin as the muffin bakes.  So add flour or brown sugar if you find it too soft.  The recipe I was using for the topping only called for 3 T flour, but I found I needed to add more flour to get it to the consistency I wanted.  So, play around with it to reach the consistency you want.

Fill the muffin tin with the mixture.  The mixture will be thick…this is exactly what you want.  To put the mixture in the muffin cases I used an ice cream scoop. 

Ready for the streusel topping

Top with the streusel topping.

Ready to bake

 Bake for 22-24 minutes–2 minutes at 425 degrees and 20-22 minutes at 375 degrees.  After 20 minutes, use a cake tester to see if you need to continue baking. 

Let cool, remove from the muffin tin to the cooling rack and enjoy!

(Since they have fruit in them, be sure to store in the refrigerator.)