The One With Braided Bread.

bread recipe here.
I just finished reading the Shipping News today (the book, not actual shipping news) … 
I was confused by it, if I’m being honest. Its fragmented lines and thoughts. I kept imagining the field day English teachers must have with all the animal and nature imagery and symbolism. There must be so many themes and motifs in that book…but my mind refused to make connections. 
Instead I learned about the Newfoundland coast, fishermen and their boats, small town newspapers, new knots, and bread… Braided bread. It’s in a sentence in the last chapter of the book.
“Joined the line sifting into the kitchen where there were cakes and braided breads…”
So I looked up a recipe and baked. It’s one of my favorite parts of reading—the food described, subtly filling the little cracks of detail within a story. 
Have you ever read a novel that inspired you to get up and do something? Whether it was the entire point of the book, or a mere side affect?
Also, does anyone know the name of this flower? Because it’s not honeysuckle even though it should be, because the smell! my goodness..

The One With the Green Juice.

I talk about my veganism challenge in my blogpost here: The One With the Stereotype.
So here’s the thing, a lack of animal products in your diet doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t eat unhealthy things. There are still a lot of fried foods, chips, cookies, candy, junk basically, that is vegan. Honest. Did you know even some Doritos don’t have milk ingredients in them? Trust me.
So I kind of wanted to up the game a little bit. Veganism didn’t translate into weight loss for me, probably because I was already living a semi-vegan life before, and because oh-my-goodness bread! In fact, I haven’t weighed this much ever. And that’s kinda scary.
So I want to juice a meal a day now. Starting with breakfast. I hate breakfast, but I know I have to have something. So while dinner would be the ideal meal to juice, I’m starting myself off easy.
My boyfriend, Vini, loooves juice. Complicated fresh squeezed juices and smoothies, or a single carton box of apple juice—they’re all his favorites. Recently he’s been advocating green juice for dinner. Most of the time I rolled my eyes and smirked while reaching into a bag of sweet and salty popcorn.
But this week I decided to try it out. We’ve had so many collard greens in our garden this spring, so I didn’t even have to go out and buy anything. Plus, I could use some more iron and calcium in my diet. The juice is good for a plethora of things because of the dark leafy greens. It has lots of iron and calcium which is good for:
Hair
Nails
Skin 
Preventing anemia 
Bones
Blood 
Also, it’s as easy as 1 2 3…
The apples take away the taste of the collard greens and also provide the best sweetness! It’s a drink that’s healthy, but actually tastes good too. So if, like me, you’re not a breakfast lover, you can drink this with me instead! If, also like me, you love your snacks but want to supplement them with something a little less unhealthy (*cough* jujubes *cough*) this juice satisfied my sweetness craving too. 
Ingredients:
1-2 of the sweetest apples you have—chopped
3-5 leaves of collard greens—”gutted” (cut out the thick part of the stems) and torn
orange juice to taste (sometimes more to the taste of your blender than your own)
ice (optional)
Method:
1. Blend all ingredients in a blender. Use the food chop setting, or pulse on slow. Add orange juice if your blender won’t blend, but I suggest to put just a tad and be patient and wait for it all to chop.
2. Strain your juice if you’re picky like me. If you don’t mind the fiber, drink it all up! It’ll be even better. 
3. Bottoms up!
As always, let me know what you guys think and if you tried it!

15 Minute Spinach Basil Pesto.

When it comes to recipes, I am usually quite adamant in following the instructions meticulously. My mother is the complete opposite. Once she is in the kitchen she dominates it. She’s always inventing new things, making up her own recipes, or building off those of others. I don’t know when was the last time she followed a recipe. I, on the other hand, am constantly depending on the creativity of others.
Except for pesto. 
Last week we celebrated mom’s birthday in, what’s becoming our birthday tradition, a cooking Sunday. Her birthday had already passed a few weeks before, but we decided to celebrate just the four of us now that we’re back. So the four of us gathered in the kitchen to cook a pasta dish. Usually this involves using our imagination (them), or something off of Pinterest (me). I chose pesto.
I can’t remember what recipe I used, nor can I find it in my browser history. All I remember doing is glancing at the ingredients, closing the tab, and deciding I could figure it out on my own. 
It was a hit. 
Even The Kid liked it. Which was an enormous “yes” for me because that Kid is sooooo picky.
And you guys asked for it on Instagram, so I decided to try to recreate the recipe and share. It’s one of those, though, that will hopefully inspire your creativity with its basic directions.

Ingredients
Fresh spinach 
Fresh basil or basil flakes (I used flakes)
Pine nuts
Olive oil
Garlic cloves
Lemon
Directions

1) The spinach determines the amount of pesto you will have. You can always adjust the seasoning and other ingredients, but your base will be the spinach so wash an appropriate amount. Remember that, as with most leafy greens, spinach has that notorious habit of going from a whole lot to a whole little once you do anything with it. 
2) Fill food processor with spinach and drizzle with olive oil. Blend until there is room for some more spinach. Add spinach, basil, garlic and olive oil. I used one clove of garlic for the amount of basil I was making. 
3) Blend until the cloves have well incorporated into the mixture. Add lemon juice, pine nuts, and a drizzle of olive oil. I used half a lemon, and a spoonful of pine nuts. The nuts make the pesto creamier, so adjust accordingly. Blend until smooth.
4) Voila! Now mix it with pasta, use it as a bruschetta topping, or spread it over your pizza. Enjoy! 
P.S. I know there is salt in the photo, but it really isn’t necessary. Add if you would like, but it is delicious without. And healthier too. 
What do you like with pesto? 
Or is ‘what don’t you like’ a better question?

Upside Down Peach Cake + Secrets.


I’ve taken to visiting our neighbor, Mr. Williams*, on Saturday afternoons. While he says he is content in spending his days with the company of his dog, the weekly visit from his son and occasional phone call from the other, I get the feeling he enjoys our visits as much as I do. He likes to tell me stories about his years in the army, anecdotes about his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, to beam with pride while talking about his brilliant dog, who is usually eyeing me from her spot on the couch next to him, and to tell me about how ‘the Lord has been good’ to him. 

When our visits first began, I thought it would do us both some good to have regular visits. I yearned to hear stories and listen to his advice. And for him, I thought a distraction from his daily routine might be nice. I can’t say I didn’t know I would be changed during our visits. Yet I didn’t expect it to be in the form of spiritual encouragement. 

It feeds my soul to hear his testimony and encourages me in my own journey. Every once in a while he’ll tell me to keep on in my faith. “Keep the faith, lassie,” he’ll tell me. “Don’t forsake the good Lord, because He won’t forget you.” 

Yesterday after our visit he ambled over to his freezer and pulled out package after package of frozen fruit plates. A local program brings him food every week. Every week they bring seven plates with three slices of peach and half of a pear. 

“I can’t eat all of these,” he says. “They’re good for making upside down cakes and things.” He put about eight plates in a bag and swore me to secrecy. I am not allowed to tell anyone that he is giving me fruit plates. 

But here I am telling you. But it’s okay. Wanna know why? Because today I’m sending the fruit right back. Not all of it at once, but cake by cake. I’ve decided there’s a good reason he’s sent fruit. He needs to eat it. So, I took his suggestion and made upside down peach cake. 

I haven’t told him it’s vegan. He’d probably give me an exasperated speech about how underweight I am (I am perfectly on weight, thank you very much) and it’s certainly due to the silliness of not eating any meat or dairy. So this post is full of secrets. You don’t tell anyone that he is giving away fruit plates, nor that the cake I made is vegan. Deal? I’m trusting you, Internet!

 *names changed to protect the innocent

Upside Down Peach Cake – Vegan

adapted to vegan from | Taste of Home

Ingredients

  • 1 can (15 ounces) sliced peaches in juice
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons Earth Balance butter, melted, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup organic cane sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup coconut milk + 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp ground oatmeal
  • Directions

    1. Drain peaches, reserving 2 tablespoons juice. Pat peaches dry. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, 1 tablespoon butter, cinnamon, nutmeg and reserved peach juice. Spread into a 9-in. round baking pan coated with cooking spray. Cut peach slices in half lengthwise; arrange in a single layer over brown sugar mixture.
    1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, egg, vanilla and remaining butter. Add to dry ingredients and stir until blended. Spoon over peaches. Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto a serving plate. Serve warm. Yield: 8 servings