Saturday, August 22, 2015

Be Kind


I went back to Kripalu Yoga & Retreat Center this month. As usual, it was an amazing experience. If you follow me on Facebook, then you may have already seen the pictures. I will write about it on here too.

The last time I was there was May 2013. In one of the stairways, was a poster-size version of the above refrigerator magnet. It reads, "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle" by Anonymous.

The first time I read that, I said, "TRUE THAT!" When the saw the magnet for sale in the Kripalu store, I didn't hesitate to buy it. I have looked at that magnet every day for the past two years. It became a mantra of sorts. I can't say I always followed it but I did my best.

And in a moment in time when kindness should have been in the forefront of my mind, it was not.
I lost the dearest of friendships because I had a self-centered, angry reaction upon hearing personal and painful news from this friend.

Everyone makes mistakes, yes. Mistakes, however, come with consequences. So be kind. Some folks must be loved from a distance because their issues are too toxic to bear. And some folks are meant to be loved up close  - friends, lovers, and family - deeply and profoundly, flaws and all, simply because you cannot imagine your life without them. And why would you want to imagine life without them?

Love is who we are. Love is the glue that holds us all together. Love is part of our final thoughts as we leave this earth. Love is what we are greeted with when we enter this world. Time is short. Love yourself and your peoples is my message :-).


Avocado Cayenne Salad, Almond Thins, and Cucumber Dill Soup

I keep coming back to food as healing. In the midst of grief, it's been a struggle. Raw food is a like an old pair of jeans. You swear all out you are going to fit those Size 8's again....one day. You felt sexy as hell when you were wearing them, and now....not so much. That's raw food.

Post-raw chef school I know for a fact that my culinary point of view is easy and quick vegetarian/vegan/raw vegan. What I learned through Matthew Kenney Culinary was how to be a raw chef in a restaurant. What I must be is a home chef and cook. I unofficially have a full-time job (I get an official offer next week...cross your fingers). I am divorced mother to two special needs boys. All that food you all saw me make in school is not what I do at home. It's not practical. But raw food is the one and only thing that has EVER made me feel spectacular. And that is what I want for my children. I don't have it all figured out, but I'm on my way.


Oatmeal with raspberries, apple, banana

I have figured out this much:
- 32 oz of water with lemon or lime juice first thing in the morning
-Breakfast is soaked oatmeal with 3 fruits. Today's fruits are blackberries, apple and banana. Also includes unsweetened almond milk, dash of cinnamon, very little maple syrup.
-Lunch, a big ol' salad with lots of veggies

Still working on the rest of it.

I even made my first all-raw meal in a very long time. The salad is from Brendan Brazier's Thrive book. Almond Crackers is a Russell James recipe. They are the best raw crackers I've made hands down. The soup is from Victoria Boutenko's Green Smoothie Revolution

I also figured out that I HAVE TO write. It's a calling. I can't explain it. My blogging has been hit or miss since 2013. I have to write about everything. If it helps me and helps other people, then I'll write about it.

See you soon.
Love,
Althea


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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Matthew Kenney Culinary Online Level 2, part 2

My "Shop Project:" Mocha Angels Chocolates

I continued on to Level 2 for one reason: to learn the business end of raw food. I wanted to understand costing and how to charge for my services. I am so glad I did it. I learned the business stuff the last two weeks of school. I chose to make, price, and package chocolate for my final project.


Mocha Angel, White Mocha Angel, Strawberry Mocha Angel unwrapped.

Except for the strawberry chocolate, my chocolates came out great. I dehydrated then ground the strawberries. Rather than turn the melted cacao butter (which is simply edible grade cocoa butter) pink, the strawberries sank to bottom...and sat there. So much for pink chocolate! 

I had never made white chocolate before. That was a fortunate success. 


The project had to be "in the store ready to market." So this is the back of the box. It includes ingredients, price, weight, and an ISSN bar code. I am really proud of this project.


I've been asked what am I going to do now. First...take the summer to change me and the boys over to raw food. For me, that means 100%. For the kids, it means more whole food. It doesn't mean I'll be fully raw forever. I am at a point in my life where I need to be fully raw and now I have the knowledge to do it properly. There will be lots of posts about what we are eating.

Second, I am working on a smoothie book. (That's my next post.)

Third, teach people how to make simple vegan food. I have one client (I haven't forgotten about our date this summer!) Everyone would eat better if they knew how. That is where I come in! If you live in DC. MD, or PA, and interested in having me help you, let me know!

Love,
Althea ◦
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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Matthew Kenney Culinary Online Level 2, part 1

Guacamole, Cacao Chips, Mole Sauce

My journey through raw vegan culinary school is complete. It has taken me a while to recover from the intensity. A friend of mine, who graduated from a traditional in-person culinary school, said to me, "You didn't think it would be that intense, did you?"

"Uh, no....."

And it was. I as SO HAPPY I did this. I have wanted to study at/with/through Matthew Kenney for YEARS. Going to MK Culinary was on my vision board from the moment his first restaurant opened in Oklahoma City years ago. I even completed this ahead of schedule. I found a list of goals I wanted to achieve after I finished. I had written "2017" as the year I wanted to do culinary school.

But absolutely so intense. YES. I tore through school because I have two kids and I work three jobs. I dropped two of the jobs temporarily for sanity's sake. I spent six to seven days a week, 6-7 hours a day on school, no lie, no exaggeration. When I finished, I was burnt to a crisp. My personal food for me and the kids became sandwiches because a sista was not trying to spend more than 15 minutes making any meal.

Chocolate Cake, Walnut Sauce, Anise Scented Pears, Chai Ice Cream, Fennel Sauce


But what I learned will serve me for the rest of my life. That is an awesome feeling. Was everything I made perfect? No. For instance, take the first photo of the guacamole and chips. The guacamole was something I could eat everyday. The chips, not so much.

The chocolate cake was a revelation. We made flour from scratch. I was in a daze at what I was making. The cake was yummy. It tasted like a rich fudge brownie. The other ingredients elevated it. I learned that anise is my new favorite spice. The ice cream and fennel sauce weren't necessary because the cake alone is extremely rich.

Dark, White, and Strawberry Chocolates

I learned how to make tempered chocolate. All chocolate you buy is tempered. It's a method of heating chocolate that keeps it from melting at room temperature. The photo above is an example.


Linzer Christmas Cookies with Berry Jam

I am showing off the best of what I made. These cookies are a winner. I'd be happy to bring them to anyone's holiday party.

Baklava

The Baklava was rich rich rich rich rich rich rich rich. Did I mention it was rich? Full of flavor yummy.

Vietnamese Pho

This was crazy complex. I enjoyed it though.


Vanilla Panna Cotta

My favorite dish I made, hands down. LOVED LOVED LOVED it. I made this take on an Italian dessert with a raspberry sauce. It was simple, elegant, and not too sweet. It's great for an intimate dinner for two. 

What am I going to do next? I will show my "Shop Project" and share where I am going.

Love,
Althea

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

My Other Pretty Plates


Raspberry Cheesecake Tart. We had a "Produce Challenge" where we were create an original dish made only with food in our fridge. I came up with a cranberry-walnut crust. Filling is macadamia nuts, raspberries, and agave. Gotta say it came out tasty.


Chocolate Truffles rolled in (from front to back) sea salt, maca, pistachios, sesame seeds, chia seeds, cinnamon, and coconut flakes. These are a winner just plain with nothing extra. Good stuff.


These chocolate chip cookies made me go, "Whaaaaaaaaaaat? I made cookies in my dehydrator that taste like baked cookies? For real, for real?"  I mean like, "for real, for real?" I was stunned for two days. And I made the chips!! I would be happy to make these for anyone.


Pancakes. No syrup needed because maple syrup is in the pancakes. This tastes as good as it looks.


Sliders with Ranch Dressing, Corn Salsa, Barbecue Sauce, Swiss Cheese, and Caramelized Onions. This is what you make to impress a crowd.


Banana Chai Chia Pudding. When Oprah comes over, I am making her this. She loves chai tea and so do I. So a chai flavored pudding would be right up her alley :-) This makes a terrific breakfast. I loved it.

Love,
Althea


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Sunday, April 5, 2015

Pretty Plates from Days Seven, Eight, Nine



Cashew Kimchi inside Cilantro Coconut Wrappers with Sesame Foam. Emulating wonton dumplings. If these weren't so labor intensive, I'd make them everyday. Insane.


Cashew Ice Cream. My ice cream looks like mashed potatoes to me. Tasted great though.


Tostadas with cacao mole, pico de gallo, cabbage slaw, gaucamole, and sour cream. The single best entree I made was this. Again, if it weren't so many pieces to this puzzle, I'd eat it every day. When the tostadas were gone, I ate the rest of plate with store-bought nacho chips. Yum-to-the-ee!

Flatbread Pizza topped with avocado, tomato sauce, cilantro and capers. Very rich, crunchy, and crispy. Super good. I want to make more flatbreads once I'm finished with school. They do not have to be complicated. Maybe I'll do a book only on flatbreads :-) They add that taste of bread that people need when they eat raw.


Coconut Parfait with buckwheat, raspberries, and blackberries. I don't love yogurt. so I gave this to Raymond and one of my roommates. They loved it. I was happy my yogurt was smooth, and came out pretty.


Butter Lettuce, avocado, radish with Honey Mustard Dressing. I would take a bath in the dressing. I didn't know how much I liked the crunchiness of butter lettuce (also known as Boston Lettuce or Bibb Lettuce).

love,
A. ◦
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Friday, April 3, 2015

Pretty Plates from Days Five and Six


Kale Caesar Salad, with Anchovies, Rosemary Croutons, and Parmesan Cheese. I found this to be a rich salad with many complex flavors. It's tangy, crunchy, and salty.


Tuber Hand Roll with Mango Chutney. Not the prettiest plate. I had a very hard time rolling the nori.


Sesame Noodles with Tamari Almonds. The two things I do not like to eat are yogurt and zucchini noodles. I loved the sauce, but I can't get past the texture of zucchini. I gave this one to one of roommates who ate all of it.


Pineapple-mango smoothie with Cashew Milk. This was my first original recipe. I had no idea there was a science to smoothies. Based on that science, I made a smoothie I was happy with. Since it's an original, I can share it with you all.

Tropical Colada Smoothie

1 cup cashew milk (made from scratch, but you can buy it from the store)
2 frozen bananas
1 cup diced pineapple
1 diced mango
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 tablespoon agave
pinch o salt

Blend, and enjoy!

Love,
Althea



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Thursday, April 2, 2015

Graduation!


I did it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So on Day Ten, my computer would not let me upload photos. I got it fixed a few days before I graduated. For that reason, and because I was back-breakingly busy, I stopped posting. As I head into Level 2 on April 6, I will update you all now. I learned a lot, but one thing was: don't kill myself trying to do this. I stayed until midnight or one a.m. many nights. I ran myself into the ground. The other thing: it was totally worth it. The skills I learned will allow me to create original raw food cuisine. And that is worth it's weight in gold. 



Working backward, these are the two dishes I made for my Video Final Presentation. We were to create original recipes. I did a spin on the Standard American Diet. Burgers, fries, and apple pie. I didn't make the fries, as we were to do two dishes, but talk about the third. A jicama slaw was my take on fries. Above is a burger on wheat bread, pineapple salsa, cheese, pickles, mustard, mayo, and ketchup. It came out terrific. I wanted to create a burger that looked like burger and I did.


I was even prouder of this. It's an apple & pear crisp with creme and caramel. I love apple anything. I have made great baked and raw apple crisps which a rustic. An apple crisp is a homey dessert. Presentation is everything at Matthew Kenney Culinary (henceforth known as MKC). I elevated my homey dessert to something elegant. And after I did my video and cleaned my kitchen, you know I ate this sucker. 

Any of you who want to be raw food chefs HAVE TO TAKE THIS COURSE. I messaged Mimi Kirk before I started. She is a seventy-something year old raw foodist who has written at least five books. When I saw she had taken this same class at MKC Santa Monica, I was like, "What? She's a raw food author!" She wrote me back and said that I had to do this. And she was right. 

If you want to go pro, even if you've been making raw food for years, like I did, do it. I lacked knife skills and flavor knowledge and technique. I have all of that now. If you take this class, you will not regret it. I am so glad I made this decision. 

Love,
Althea

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