parsnip date butter & archipelago preserves

after two full years of self employment, i finally accomplished one of my bigger goals: teaching and cooking for my first yoga retreat! i partnered with my colleague, bree dillon, to share in the organizing and teaching. i also had a tremendous amount of help in the kitchen from my lovely friend becca... a girl with an incredible palate, who could pinpoint the flavor of the tiniest amount of capers in a lentil salad big enough to feed 25 people. together, we pulled off the most incredible three-day weekend retreat at doe bay on orcas island. 

even at the fringe of the growing season, orcas island had so much to offer our bellies. i put together a self-guided food tour of the island, visited farms and fabulous artisans and collected ingredients along the way for our shared meals. with breakfasts in mind, we collected six dozen rich and vibrant eggs from happy hens at warm valley farm, visited the tasting room of 'girl meets dirt' to stock up on island-grown fruit preserves, stopped into roses bakery for my favorite breads and got a personal delivery of island-roasted coffee from 'local goods' for endless pots of french press. our breakfast buffets had homemade everything: granola, almond milk, energy balls, island-grown greens, asparagus-chimichurri frittata one morning and a spanish tortilla with romesco sauce another, parnsip butter & jam smeared toasts... i've never seen a better looking breakfast selection. 

i want to gush on and on about the experience, but i'll reserve that to my personal journal. i will tell you though about these delicious preserves. and this parsnip-date butter i made to go along with audra's preserves. 

'girl meets dirt' is something truly special. audra, the master jammer, is dedicated to reviving and stewarding old fruit orchards throughout the san juan islands, hand picking all her fruit locally and making the highest quality small batch preserves in stunning copper pots. her flavors are many, but her plum preserves are my personal favorite. paired with crusty bread and a smear of parsnip-date butter... oh so magical. 

parsnip date butter ~ makes 2 cups
3 cups peeled and cubed parsnips
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
2 tablespoon lemon juice - or to taste
3 or more large medjool dates - or to taste
large pinch salt

peel and cut parsnips into cubes the size of grapes or hazelnuts. add to steamer basket and steam for 20 minutes or so, until roots are completely smooshable. transfer steamed parsnips to a blender or food processor with remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. start with less lemon and date, and add more to taste. i enjoy this spread lightly sweetened and enough acid to brighten the overall flavor but not to taste intense lemon. let cool and store in airtight container for up to one week. 

notes: i usually don't promote peeling or steaming vegetables (i like to eat all the nutrients) but the resulting color and texture in this butter recipe is far superior. so save those veggie peels for a soup stock, and you can even use your steaming water in a stock too! there's good stuff in there... this recipe was inspired by a toast i had at the london plane in seattle. there they served the parsnip-date butter drizzled with pomegranate molasses, but i highly suggest you get your hands on some 'girl meets dirt' preserves instead!! 

thank you local goods & girl meets dirt for your contributions to our retreat! our guests were well fed and well caffeinated!! 

the perfect spring lunch

as the saying goes: when it rain's it pours. but here in seattle, the weather has brought out the freckles on my nose and tan lines on my back! however in my life, it's feels like it's pouring buckets of both exciting developments and challenging stress. 

... subbing a few too many yoga classes in addition to my usual 5 weekly classes and not finding time to practice for myself.
... taking on a couple new fabulous weekly clients for my private chef work but orchestrating a complicated scheduling puzzle.
... getting the final touches and designs together for my band's new album.
... planning the menu and testing recipes for a yoga retreat that departs in just a few weeks.
... managing a climbing injury, but still wanting to get outdoors to climb (i can't pass up on these wonderful conditions after a long season of wet rocks!)
... realizing that i need to get my act together if we're going to cape town south africa in just a few months but don't have any plane tickets or reservations yet.
... fitting everything in around some weekend trips to portland and austin (both rad cities, surprisingly very similar to each other!)
... sudden adult-onset allergies are destroying me, but i can't resist the outdoors in this glorious weather, so i've been putting off being indoors to do computer work and bookkeeping.
... and my cousin, who lives nearby and is like a brother to me, is having a baby like *today,* so i'm basically going to be an auntie any minute.

in summary... the side effects of having multiple passions in life, each progressing on their own meandering paths. 

last week i was helping a client use up all her random veggie leftovers from hosting an easter dinner. the resulting soup was so delicious, i went out and bought the ingredients for myself to recreate it at home. sometimes my favorite recipes are intuited from everything-but-the-kitchen-sink experimentation. 

today i'm taking a break from the pollen, hunkering down with my computer, and procrastinating with food blogging (which is exactly why this blog initially started back in college). productive procrastination. 

pureed asparagus, pesto & sweet potato soup ~ makes about 3 quarts 
1 medium yellow onion
5 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 lbs asparagus
1 small bag baby spinach or 1 large bunch adult spinach, washed
1 small yellow/white sweet potato (about .75 lbs)
1 small bunch fresh basil
1 tablespoon (ideally) fresh oregano, or 1 teaspoon dried
juice of 1 lemon
salt + pepper to taste
1/2-1 cup raw pine nuts
homemade or store-bought pesto for garnish *optional
shaved parmesan for garnish *optional

crush garlic and set to side. thinly slice onions and saute in oil large soup pot until gently caramelized - about 10 minutes.

wash but don't peel the sweet potato. cut into tiny cubes for quick cooking. wash and trim asparagus and cut into inch-long pieces. once onions are cooked, add garlic, a good pinch of salt and cubed sweet potatoes. cover pot and let simmer on low for about 10 minutes until potatoes are soft.

then add oregano, asparagus, 1/2 cup pine nuts and just enough water that all vegetables are in water but not quite fully submerged. turn up the heat until water is boiling, then lower to simmer covered for another 3-5 minutes until asparagus is for tender but not too mushy.

remove soup pot from heat, add torn fresh basil, spinach and lemon juice. stir and cover until greens are wilted. just a few minutes.

blend in batches until smooth. adding a bit of water if necessary to reach desired consistency. adjust seasoning to taste - adding more lemon, salt and black pepper if you prefer.

garnish bowls of soup with shaved parmesan, a little drizzle of pesto if you have it on hand, or toasted pine nuts, some fresh basil, or all of the above! serve with some good bread & a fresh greens salad!

simple spring salad: 
butter lettuce
shaved carrot ribbons
thinly sliced radish
quick pickled red onion
lemon + local honey + olive oil
sea salt + black pepper

i've been trying to incorporate local honey into my daily routine to combat the allergies. a little drizzle with equal parts lemon juice and olive oil makes a bright flavorful dressing. to quick pickle red onions, just thinly slice any portion of red onion and submerge in unseasoned rice vinegar or white wine vinegar and wait at least 2 hours, or overnight. i shave the carrots with a vegetable peeler and a knife or mandoline to thinly slice radishes.

toss & munch!

honey curry mustard slaw

i have fond memories of the saint patricks day meals my dad made for our family growing up. but as an adult, i don't particularly enjoy corned beef or guiness beer. maybe i would be more thrilled about a holiday that was celebrated by eating greens, rather than wearing green and drinking. i was shopping at my local food coop yesterday, and they had piles of green cabbages on sale. ok, cabbage i can do, but boiled cabbage and potatoes is terribly dull. instead, i got inspired to #eatboldly by mustard & co's honey-curry mustard... this is not your average saint patricks day dish! in fact, you are probably better off just considering it as a great spring or summer slaw!

when i first tried mustard & co's kick-ass mustard, i whisked it into a salad dressing in the same proportion i typically use mustards ... heavily. it had a thrilling wasabi-like effect that i've only tasted before with homemade mustard. i quickly understood the "eat boldly" message on jar's packaging. this little jar is concentrated in flavor and spice. it's a wonderful addition to my unruly mustard collection (apparently my friends and family always remember my love for mustard around christmas time...)

eat boldly, friends.

cabbage, cashew & apple slaw ~ serves 4 
6 cups thinly sliced green cabbage
1 large apple, thinly sliced or cubed
1 cup roasted unsalted cashews
2 green onions, thinly sliced
2 cups roasted honey curry mustard chickpeas (recipe below)
avocado & honey curry mustard dressing to taste (recipe below)
1 ripe avocado *optional

toss ingredients together, reserving a few green onions, chickpeas and cashews to sprinkle on top. extra tasty with ripe avocado slices on top too!

roasted honey curry mustard chickpeas
2 cups cooked chickpeas
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon honey curry mustard
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon curry powder

preheat oven to 425-degrees. whisk oil, mustard, salt and curry powder together in a bowl, then stir in the chickpeas to coat. spread coated chickpeas onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment or foil. don't overcrowd the chickpeas - the more space between them the better! bake for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until toasty and crisp. let chickpeas cool on a paper towel or brown paper bag.

avocado & honey curry mustard dressing
1/2 ripe avocado
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons honey curry mustard
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
cayenne to taste

wiz up in a blender, adding a splash of water if needed to reach a thick-dressing consistency.

thank you mustard & co. for sponsoring this blog post! all opinions are mine. 

shitake-adzuki bean soup

did i miss something? did the month of february actually happen? i apparently failed to post anything to the blog last month and my brain hasn't quite processed the fact that it is already march! my daily bike commutes have been seeing more and more daylight... a welcome reminder that spring is truly on it's way! but besides the subtle adjustments to sunrise and sunset, i feel like an entire month just slipped away into a blur of events and daily routines. i had the joy of catering an intimate wedding on valentines day and a baby shower for my cousin, taught a yoga workshop to a group of eager beginner yogis, opened up registration for my first yoga retreat that i'll be co-teaching and cooking for (!!!), added two new yoga classes and a new private chef client to my weekly schedule ... whew! no wonder the blog fell by the wayside! but this soup - it is so blog-post worthy! 

i created this soup for a client recently, and loved it so much i made it for all my other clients and twice for myself! it's the perfect soup to help fight off a cold. it's hearty, warming, and packed with flavor and nutrients. if you like the flavors of pho, you'll love this quick and easy one-pot soup! if you can't find adzuki beans (dried or canned), i might suggest swapping them out for shelled soy beans (which you can often find in the freezer section) or green peas. 

shitake-adzuki bean soup ~ serves 4+
3 cups chopped carrots & parsnips (or other root vegetables)
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 tablespoon crushed garlic
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
5-6 cups stock of choice
3 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
1 teaspoon chinese five spice
pinch red chili flakes
2 star anise *optional
1 heaping tablespoon takii umami powder *optional 
3 cups shitake mushrooms
4 stems green onions
2 cups cooked adzuki beans, strained
1 small bunch lacinato kale
juice of 1 or 2 limes
spicy fresh chili *optional 

crush garlic and set to side for at least 10 minutes while you prep other ingredients. clean and chop carrots and parsnips into equally sized disks or half moons. brush off any dirt and quarter or slice shitakes mushrooms. in a large soup pot, heat coconut oil over medium-low heat and add root vegetables, ginger and garlic to saute for 5 minutes. add stock, tamari, five spice, anise, chili flakes and takii powder and bring to a simmer. add mushrooms, cover pot and continue to simmer for about 15 minutes or until root vegetables and mushrooms are fork tender. 

while soup simmers, wash, de-stem and chop kale into thin strips and thinly slice green onions. once root vegetables and mushrooms are cooked through, add adzuki beans, kale, green onions and lime juice. cook for just another minute until kale is gently wilted and beans are warmed through. serve with extra lime wedges, fresh chilies or an extra drizzle of tamari if you crave more salt in the soup. (spoon out the star anise when serving - no one wants a surprise mouthful of wood-hard anise) 

molasses ginger cookies (vegan + gf)

you might all be all tired of cookies after the holidays, but i didn't get my fair share this year! i was too busy to do any baking, didn't have time to host my annual cookie party, and took off for a week-long climbing trip smack in the middle of the holidays. so i've been craving a wintery treat! i've also been rummaging through my pantry since the new year, organizing everything and deep cleaning every cupboard (sooo satisfying!)... anyhow, i realized i have three half used bottles of blackstrap molasses, so in an effort to tidy and a desire to bake, i made some killer molasses cookies. i ate the entire batch last week, made a few tweaks to the recipe, and made another batch this week! the fresh ginger is spicy and the blackstrap molases provides a luscious flavor and healthy minerals and nutrients! these gems are also gluten free and vegan, so practically everyone can enjoy them!


molasses ginger cookies ~ makes about 20 small cookies
1 cup almond flour
1 1/2 cups rolled oats or 1 1/4 cup oat flour
1/3 cup blackstrap molases
2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon clove
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup coconut sugar *see note

preheat oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment or non-stick silpat.

if using rolled oats, pulse in food processor until you have a fine flour. otherwise, you can use packaged oat flour if you don't own a food processor. in a small sauce pan, melt coconut oil over low heat. combine melted coconut oil in a bowl with all remaining ingredients. two options: you can take a shortcut and include the coconut sugar in the cookie dough, or spend a few extra minutes and use it instead to coat the cookies with a light dusting of sugar.

roll a heaping tablespoon of the dough in your palm until smooth and round and then either lay directly onto lined baking sheet or roll in coconut sugar to coat.

bake for 12-15 minutes, but watch closely. they will be soft when you remove them from the oven, and a shade darker brown on bottom. let cool on baking sheet for a few minutes to set than transfer to wire rack to cool completely.