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.

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