Raspberries and the Universe

My oh my, how the universe provides.

Things can be really stupid some days. Like those days that you step on a piece of glass at 4:30 in the morning, and then proceed to have a 1.5 hour commute to work. You can have those mornings where you are anticipating your morning iced coffee only to find it exploded all over you bag.

Those are the worst.

But then you have the days spent berry picking and gathering freckles on your face. The days where you catch up with old friends and stumble into something that might just shake up the entire foundation of who you are.

Those are the best.

With seven pounds of raspberries, I spent an afternoon canning. With a sun drenched hound dog at my feet and This American Life on the radio, I had a moment of perfection.

There are all kinds of changes in the air. At this point in time my world is saying, “Yeah, I got you. Go for it.”

And I am going to listen.

Raspberry Jam sweetened with Honey

Adapted from Mountain Mama Cooks

16 half pint jars (for those who haven’t canned, you can’t reuse the lids.. just the rings)

8 tsp Pomona’s Universal Pectin (because of the calcium powder, you don’t have to use an insane amount of sugar… just honey, so delish)

8 tsp calcium powder (follow directions on how to prepare the powder from the directions in the pectin box)

16 cups raspberries

6 tbsp lemon juice

3 tsp lemon zest

1.5-2 cups honey (Depends on how sweet you want it!)

  1. I use a canning pot, as it makes everything so much easier in my life. If you don’t have a canning pot, you can use a big soup pot and MacGyver a contraption that will work. I have friends that do that, I just bit the bullet and spent the $20. So happy I did, that bad boy is going everywhere with me.
  2. First things first. Sterilize. No one wants to get food poisoning from your jam. That would be the worst gift ever. The steps to sterilization are easy; fill your canning pot with enough water so the jars are covered by at least two inches oh H20. Bring this water to a boil—while the water (which takes forever) is coming to a boil, hand-wash the jars and lids with soap. Fill the jars with hot water so they won’t shatter when they are placed in boiling water. Boil those suckers for 10 minutes, and then leave them in there in the hot water while you prepare your jam. You will also place the lids in a little sauce pan and boil them, so they get nice and clean too.
  3. You will want to have the following things near you: a clean towel to lay out the jars. Tongs wrapped with rubber bands to grab the jars, or canning tongs if you have fancy pants. A ladle for filling the jars and a wet cloth or paper towel for wiping the rims of the jars. I also have a magnetic lid getter (that is the proper name for it… ?) because I don’t want to get my grimy hands all over the lids.
  4. To prepare the jam, wash the raspberries and put them in a pot. Spend some time mashing them with a potato masher, your hands, a contraption you made yourself.. whatever. I know some people who then run said raspberries through a sieve to reduce the amount of seeds. I say that is bull honky. Eat the seeds. They are cute and tiny and add some texture. After the berries are mashed, add the honey, lemon juice, lemon zest, pectin powder and calcium solution. Bring to a boil over high heat and stir for 1-2 minutes until the honey has dissolved. You can then remove it from the heat and start canning.
  5. You remove your hot jars from the pot, dumping the water back into the pot and bring the water in the pot back to a boil. Place the jars on the towel and ladle the jam into the jars, leaving ¼ inch at the top of the jar. Wipe the rims of the each jar, pop a lid on it and adjust the ring so it is just a finger tight. Then, place the jars BACK into the canning pot (where the water should be boiling again), lower those puppies in, making sure that they are covered by at least one inch of water. Bring it back to a boil and let them process in the hot bath for 10 minutes. Make sure the jars aren’t touching. I got cocky this year and put in ONE too many jars, which resulted in one jar breaking (NOOOOOOOO) because it got too frisky with the jar next to it.
  6. You then remove the jars, and don’t wiggle, jiggle or shake them for at least 12 hours. After 1 hour you can check to see if they lids have sealed by pressing on the center of the lid. If it can be pushed down, it means if hasn’t sealed—which is no big deal, just use that jar first and eat it up so it doesn’t go bad. All those that DID seal can be stored in a pantry or cupboard for about a year.

Yum. Summer in a jar all year-long.

 

Advertisements

Summer.

I think that we can all agree that summer is magical.

However, while a lot of people have to retreat indoors during the hottest of the summer months, Pacific Northwest summers are meant for spending every day outside. All summer long.

There is nothing more perfect than summer in Bellingham.

It is a city of subdued excitement (that is literally the city’s motto). It is nestled close to the bay, a stones throw away from the mountains and filled with people who smile at you on your morning walk. It is the place where there are miles of trails in your backyard, and people don’t believe in leashes.

Basically, it is a dream.

I will be spending a lot of time up there this summer, as I have dedicated the next two months to living a transient life. My home base will be my mom’s house, although a majority of my time will be spent living out of my car, and leaning on the kindness of friends and their available couches.

I have this friend in Bellingham who is simply delightful. She is one of my people. She has been in my life for over ten years. She is someone who knows me, understands my quirks, and says yes to yoga and long morning walks through the woods.

Plus, she is a dog person. As is her partner. I dig that.

I spent time with my family, I did yoga, I went hiking. My freckles came out in full force and I went to bed every night exhausted, sun kissed and happy. I drank IPA on the back porch of  The Green Frog, got my bear hug from the owner, and ate peanuts with a girl who rides a blue bicycle. We listened to blue grass and talked boys. We drove out to a farm where we met  a woman whose soul shone through her eyes. She led us to the back field and let us pick raspberries. We discussed what matters to us as our fingers became red with the juice of sun ripened berries.

We drank muddled strawberry beverages and I indulged in a fudgesicle every single day.

It was a reminiscent of those summers that her and I spent together all throughout junior high and high school, where we spent every single day together. Drinking diet coke and eating cheez-its on the front porch until we got too warm and ran through the sprinklers.

This weekend was a taste of how perfect summer can be. Of how it doesn’t ALL have to fade when you become an adult and things get redundant and dull. How we can all go now into summer.

With my new life plans fast approaching, I am going to take these next two months to do everything in my power to live.

Cashew Dream Cake

Adapted from My New Roots

This Fourth of July we made a menu that was (mostly) raw, vegan and gluten-free. It left us feeling satisfied but not heavy and everything was filled with flavor. We made a huge kale and cabbage slaw with maple glazed tempeh and our strawberry muddled cocktails. The star of the meal was the dream cashew cake, which was a recipe we found on My New Roots (you just can’t go wrong with her blog). My brother was convinced that we slipped cream cheese in there, and was dumbfounded to hear that is was completely raw, vegan AND gluten-free. NUTTY. (there are a lot of nuts in this recipe)

(We cut the filling in half and made it in a tart pan, we used the full crust recipe, and it turned out a little thin, but perfect for a small dessert after stuffing yourself with kale. Next up we plan on adding cocoa powder for the first layer… decadent.)

Ingredients:

Crust:

1/2 cup raw almonds

1/2 cup soft Medjool dates

¼ tsp. sea salt

Filling: (half this part if you are putting it in a tart pan, like we did)

1 ½ cups raw cashews, soaked for at least 5 hours, overnight is best (we used ½ the amount and only soaked for 3 hours, it still worked out just fine)

juice of 2 lemons

the seeds of 1 whole vanilla bean (or 1 tsp. alcohol-free vanilla extract)

1/3 cup raw coconut oil, melted

1/3 cup raw honey (solid or liquid.)(Vegans use agave nectar.)

1 cup raspberries (thaw completely if using frozen)

Directions:

1. Place nuts and dates in a food processor with sea salt and pulse to chop until they are to your desired fineness (process a finer crust longer than a chunky one). Test the crust by spooning out a small amount of mixture and rolling it in your hands. If the ingredients hold together, your crust is perfect. Scoop out crust mixture in a 7” spring-form pan (we used a tart pan with a removable bottom), and press firmly, making sure that the edges are well packed and that the base is relatively even throughout. Rinse food processor well.

2. Warm coconut oil and honey in a small saucepan on low heat until liquid. Whisk to combine.

3. In the most powerful food processor / blender you own (you decide which one has the most torque) place all filling ingredients (except raspberries) and blend on high until very smooth (this make take a couple of minutes so be patient).

4. Pour about 2/3 (just eyeball it, you can’t make a mistake!) of the mixture out onto the crust and smooth with a spatula. Add the raspberries to the remaining filling and blend on high until smooth. Pour onto the first layer of filling. Place in freezer until solid.

5. To serve, remove from freezer 30 minutes prior to eating. Run a smooth, sharp knife under hot water and cut into slices. Serve on its own, or with fresh fruit. Store leftovers in the freezer.

Home.

Isn’t it funny how you can spend nearly three years in a place, call this place your home, and then in the rush of moving out forget to say goodbye?

I spent the entire weekend moving. I sorted through piles of clothes, books and memorabilia. I took a moment to pause over a box of things from my ex-boyfriend that I found by mistake. It hit me like a ton of bricks. But the moment passed, I packed everything up with a positive thought to the universe and that was that.

I gave away a majority of my possessions. These are the things that I have been lugging around for the past eight years. I had furniture from my childhood that I have always had a weird attachment to, two bookcases full of books, clothes that I hadn’t worn in years but they held some memory in the sleeves.

I am somewhat of a homebody. These things are loaded with my history. With looming change and the inevitability of growing up (sort of), it was time to let go.

I am someone who would have appreciated having some sort of séance for the house. A recognition that this place was where I built my first garden bed, shared my home with a boy for the first time, had my heart-broken completely and learned to heal through living with my best friend.

This house was the kitchen with the shiny surfaces and the shoddy craftsmanship. This house was the yard turned jungle where the pup spent hours chasing bugs. This house was the multitude of ridiculous dance parties, too much alcohol and hang-over-mornings watching bad romantic comedies. This was the house near the lake. I would  walk a few blocks and I had my solitude—just my running shoes, my music and my dog.

This house was my home.

With the hustle and bustle of moving and cleaning while working a full-time job, I didn’t have anytime to be nostalgic. A little ball of stress, I rolled through the moving process on a mission. By my seventh good will run I was just ready to be done with the place.

How sad. I feel like leaving a place you call home should involve some sort of ritual. A moment of silence for all of those things you carried, shared and loved while you were living there.

A good friend from my childhood would have taken the time. She would have created a fire in the back yard, wrote down the memories from the house, and said a proper goodbye. Back in the day we would have made fun or her for being too sentimental. Today, I wish I would have had her by my side so I took the time to have that moment of recognition.

Instead, I found myself alone after all my roommates had left eating kale slaw on the ground while my very confused hound dog stared at me through the back door. I would be a liar if I said I didn’t feel the lump in my throat (like I am feeling right now) as I stared around at the empty house. It is funny how much a place can seep into your pores and become a part of you.

So here is my proper good-bye. An ode to the old house by the lake. The house with far too many “quirks” that we grew to accept. The house with thin windows and squeaky wood floors. The house with the 1970s retro bathroom and my two walk in closets (this I will miss). The house with the kind neighbors and the sound of the freeway that became a lullaby in the evening.

Thank you house, for all that you were.

Kale Cashew & Mint Slaw

Original Shutter Bean recipe

*This slaw is AMAZING. My bestie had it posted on her Facebook, and it went viral. Everyone is making it. Also, this blog rocks my world. I heart a good food blog.* serves 4

1 bunch lacinato kale, shredded

2 cups cabbage, shredded

2 scallions, finely chopped (both white & green parts)

1/2 bunch fresh mint, roughly chopped

1/2 cup roasted cashews, chopped (peanuts can be used)

2 tablespoons agave syrup

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

4 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

1 inch piece ginger, grated

1 clove garlic, minced

salt & pepper

Chop the kale, cabbage, scallions & mint and set aside in a large bowl. In a small bowl add the agave syrup, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, ginger and garlic and stir. When ready to toss, add the chopped nuts to the large bowl and pour the dressing over the kale cabbage mixture. Thoroughly coat the kale, season with salt & pepper to taste.