Monday, June 18

who says i don't eat meat?

Our chinese neighbors speak very little English but their eyes are always smiling. We shock them with gifts of homemade saurkraut and parties with live bands where they politely pretend to enjoy the wine, and they shock us with some of their delicious (and strange) delicacies from their native country.

I complimented Hong on her zongzi (at least that's what I think it is) last year and today her husband, Henry, waved me over to come inside. There Hong and her sisters welcomed me in to show me (entirely in pantomime) how this traditional chinese dish is made. How sweet she had remembered that I wanted to know how to make this!
  • Rinsed white rice (raw)
  • yellow bean of some kind (raw) that looks like a yellow lentil only more oblong
  • salt pork
  • something that looked like salami
  • salted duck egg yolk (bright orange globes in the photo)
  • chicken egg yolk
  • scallops
  • little dried shrimps
  • some kind of corn kernal looking stuff
Pile all this in two cupped bamboo leaves and wrap up with a couple more bamboo leaves and secure with string. Boil 1-2 hours.   Zongzi!

Monday, April 23

Cavewoman Sauerkraut

It’s true that I was always interested in the kitchen, even if I was like a Neanderthal in my efforts. But after 20 years of being an administrator for several food groups, most prominently, the San Francisco Professional Food Society, I have truly been inspired to evolve in ways unimaginable: reading cookbooks like novels, taking cooking classes, reading the weekly food section and even enrolling in a professional cooking institute! But of the many things that have caught my attention, fermented foods really enticed me. Predictably, my first batch of sauerkraut was a moldy mess and I felt like I was a Flintstone again. I even met with Sandor Katz, contemporary guru of fermentation, but it wasn’t until my crafty neighbor (Wilma?) showed me a trick that I started turning out delicious (and dare I say sweet?) sauerkraut!
The trick? A dowel. At Living Light Institute we were taught to salt and vigorously massage the cabbage. Yes, that will work eventually, but I am a lazy Neanderthal. Pounding the kraut with a dowel is an easier way to squeeze out the juices, and juice is the key to successful kraut. You absolutely must have enough liquid to adequately cover the kraut, or you will indeed, as I did in prehistoric times, create primordial ooze. Below is my recipe for Rainbow Kraut, but maybe I should call it Cavewoman Kraut. Now you know what the club in caveman days was really used for.

Rainbow Kraut

1 head cabbage mandolined (reserve four cabbage leaves whole)

1 bunch raw golden beets, peeled and grated

1 apple grated (I like green apple)

2 carrots grated

1-2 tablespoons salt

optional: *1 tablespoon microplaned ginger—add this after fermentation

Mix everything together in a large pot or vessel that won’t break or splash when you begin to mash the kraut. (If you aren’t using the “dowel” method, any large bowl will do). Massage with your fingers to distribute the salt. Let rest for a while (a few minutes to a half hour) to allow salt to absorb in and begin to draw out moisture.
Pound the kraut with a dowel for 10-15 minutes until you can see a pool of liquid forming. If you don’t have a dowel, vigorously massage with your fingers in a big bowl until liquids release. You are done with your kraut is very juicy because you will need enough juice to cover it when it is mashed down.

Transfer to a large jar, crock or open mouthed water pitcher (I use a water pitcher). Cover with the left over cabbage leaves and mash down until the liquid rises above the kraut. Find another vessel that is narrow and heavy that you can fill with water or weight down in some way. I use a tall, narrow glass container filled with water. If you use a crock, you may want to place a saucer on top and the weighted object on top of that. Press down until liquid seeps above the veggies.

I put mine on top of a cabinet, but just put it out of the way somewhere.

Check it in about 5-7 days. Remove any scum around the edges. Taste the center. If it is still crunchy and not very sour, let it go longer. Most people go two weeks or more, I only go 7-10 days. The more days you ferment it the more it breaks down, is softer and more sour. When it arrives at desired taste, you can jar it or, if desired, stir in 1-2 tblsp microplaned fresh ginger.
Store in mason jar and again punch down to let liquid seep above cabbage. Refrigerate.

Am delighted to announce this article was repeated on William-Sonoma's blog with a delightful forward by Laura Martin Bacon Click Here to Read

Monday, August 2

Postscript...A Departure from Raw

People often accuse me of having such a healthy diet, but it's not true. They even have the nerve to act horrified when I bite into a meat ball. A real meatball. No, I eat (and am interested) in just about everything. Below is an article I wrote for the San Francisco Professional Food Society.
The Great Soy Bean Mystery
How do you go from a green bean to a white cake, no trace of color? And what is yuba? These and other soy bean mysteries were solved at a recent tour with the San Francisco Professional Food Society of the Hodo Soy Beanery in Oakland.

Sleuthing started with Dean Ku, co-founder of Hodo Soy, who rolled out a thorough and enlightening tour of this success-story of an enterprise. We began with a tasting of still-warm soy milk, fresh off-the-presses plain tofu cubes, hijiki tofu salad, edamame tofu salad, flash fried tofu nuggets, and spicy yuba strips.
The secret is the freshness. Richer and fuller with a hint of bitter, the soy milk was nothing like I’d ever tasted. The fresh cubes were lightly chewy, but creamy with a delicate, clean flavor. In fact, in cultures who eat tofu, it is always eaten fresh, often straight from the vat. The idea of packaged tofu in grocery stores is unheard of. All the dishes were tasty but my favorite was the Yuba Strips.

What is yuba? To explain, we must first unravel the mystery of tofu. Hodo (translation “good bean”) begins with organic, non-GMO dried soy beans. Green edamame is fresh and not mature enough. The dried beans are soaked overnight, they are ground and heated. Next the pulp is separated leaving only the white “milk” rich in protein and non-saturated fat.

To make tofu, soy milk is mixed with calcium sulfate which coagulates, just like in cheese-making. After a few minutes the mass is spread out in shallow trays lined with cheesecloth, so the liquid strains out. Next, the trays are stacked and a compressor is used to weight them down squeezing out the liquid. The heavier the weight, the firmer the tofu. After less than an hour, the tofu sheets are ready to be cut and gently moved into a water bath to cool and stay fresh.

Back to yuba – considered the “sashimi of tofu” yuba begins with plain fresh soy milk, hand poured into metal pans with steam heat below. Within minutes, the milk develops a film across the surface. When the film is set, it is expertly hand-lifted and draped on a cooling bar. Yuba looks paper-thin but is quite flexible, and can be cut into “noodles” for a stir fry or marinated veggie mix, but my favorite is using it as a wrap! It’s delicate, nutty flavor and flexible texture make it absolutely perfect for wrapping veggies, bbq, anything! It's my new favorite lunch option.

A History - Mr. Minh Tsai brought memories of fresh, delicious tofu from his homeland in Vietnam to San Jose, and since he could find nothing like that here, he soon began replicating it, with great reception at local Farmer’s Markets. Now with former chocolate magnate John Scharffenberger on his board and a 12,000 square foot streamlined factory with custom equipment, Hodo Soy now supplies many restaurants including Coi, Slanted Door and Greens. Always delivered the same day, freshness is of utmost concern and is indicative of Hodo’s emphatic commitment to the highest quality possible.

So, whether it’s a block of white tofu, a spring green edamame, or even a paper-thin sheet of yuba, the Great Soy Bean Mystery is now solved.
Thank you to SFPFS member Karoline Boehm for photos

Monday, March 10

Sip, Snap, Savor or That's How the Pizza Crust Crumbles

It's two days later and I'm finally cleaning up the remnants from my "showcase" dinner party for Sip Snap, Savor...a couple (Melissa & Phil) who are traveling the U.S. and time capsuling U.S. cuisine. They contacted me and I invited them to come experience (for their first time) raw, live cuisine.

They came to dinner on a Sunday night and thank you to foodie and former SF Professional Food Society President, Sandra Murray and her husband Greg Karras, for providing the delicious live cocktails we enjoyed (Cucumber, Celery Mint Julips and Pineapple, Orange and Rosemary mojitos).

Melissa came equipped with her notebook, curiosity and impressive wine knowledge, and Phil with his camera and ravenous laugh. Melissa is a wine aficionado. You should check out her wine tastings, classes and info at:

The Menu:

snack - teriyaki kale chips

"Goat" Cheese and Tomato Tartlet

Firey Carrot Soup

Dandelion Salad

Live Pizzas - Sicilian & Italian

Coffee Mocha Cheesecake

I made two kinds of crusts 1) live buckwheat crust from Juliano's book (which I over dehydrated, it cracked, I panicked) and 2) onion bread crust which on it's own is over the top delicious, but I think it was too flavorful for a pizza crust.

Pizza Uno was a classic Italian Pizza (Juliano's cookbook) with a hearty red tomato sauce and Italian veggies (Roxanne's onion nut cheese, zucchini, capers, black olives, red peppers, etc.). Pizza Due - Sicilian Pizza was definitely different with an avocado base for the sauce, spiced with exotic middle eastern chutney spices and topped with sprouts, yellow peppers, green olives, scallions, etc. I think the favorite, however, were the tartlets I made as the first dish. I used Matt Amsden's goat cheese recipe, which is a sunflower seed "cheese" which I added chopped arugula to. The tartlets were the onion bread, topped with the cheese, then I had marinated zucchini shavings in a sweet lemon balsamic vinegar and topped with green, yellow and red tomatoes.

If you've never prepared a meal for complete strangers, who are then going to publish their experience at your house, let me tell you, no pressure at all.

When I chose to do this, I was all excited. I decided on an Indian menu and then thought better of it, as it involved so many steps, I decided to simplify. Pizza and soup seemed simple. But as the day drew near I started to doubt myself...would pizza be enough food?? I added a dandelion salad. Problem solved. But then, I began to visualize myself with these complete strangers. I knew I couldn't count on my husband...he would likely vaporize into thin air rather than have a social Sunday night. Oh, this was getting uncomfortable. Oh! I decided, what's wrong with me? I have all of the SF Professional Food Society to draw upon...who then? Sandra & Greg were my natural first choice to come and help me entertain these culinary travelers. Sandra and I have worked together for years in the Food Society and she and her husband are what I consider to be "Smiling Eyes Tribe"-- forward thinkers, open minds and warm they are real foodies! They generously agreed to come, and I realized it would be nice to have some live beverages, and with absolutely no arm twisting, Sandra agreed to bring the live cocktails, using Roxanne's book.

I began shopping days before carefully noting my bucolic plans. I started the crusts the day before. I composted the kitchen scraps that were buzzing with fruit flies. I vacuumed. I bitched at my husband for not helping. We washed the windows. I made the cheesecake. We went to a wine tasting party that night and I drank too much wine. Sunday: I did not have time to give into my hang over or take the dog for a walk, I flew out of bed and hit the kitchen. I checked on the crusts, and the buckwheat crust was starting to crack. I immediately removed it and it started crumbling! Panic manifested into hyperventilation as I dialed Dawn's number (co-owner of Cafe Soulstice) but no, they did not have any pre-made pizza crusts I could rush over and buy...they no longer make pizza at the cafe. I thought about crying but I didn't have time. See, this is the problem with live cuisine--you can't easily purchase replacement ingredients anywhere! My husband silently slinked into the car and headed for Sonoma. So much for the support.

Then I realized I didn't have any pretty glasses to serve the cocktails in. The thought of barreling off to CostPlus felt like a ton of bricks. A clear glass was essential to showcase these beautiful elixirs! Dinner was less than four hours away and I still had to mop the floor, clean the kitchen and prep the veggies! I enlisted deep breathing with a clenched jaw. I called Sandra. No problem, she says, I have the perfect glasses and I'll bring them. I sighed relief and then took a squirt bottle to the cracked pizza. This brilliant solution caused the crust to become doughy without patching the cracks.

When Sue called I was blow drying the pizza in the bathroom. She would take Dinah for a walk. Poor dog had been glowering at me all day. Thank God for sisters. OK, forget the cracked pizza. so what? By the time I dress it, it won't matter. And if it crumbles, it will still taste good, I told myself as I imagined these strangers as snooty professional chefs or haute cuisine food writers. The stress mounted.

The next epiphany came when I realized I didn't have any serving platters to lay these pizzas on!!! I needed a flat, solid 18"square surface to lay these pizzas on so I could dress and serve them. Usually, I just make one pizza, not two, and I use our butcher block, but this was for company! Writing, photographing, possibly-chef-people company! I tore the house apart looking for the pizza stone that never fit in our oven, which would have been perfect, but I never found it. Sue must be psychic because she called just then and before she could get a word in edgewise, I blurted out my predicament. No problem, she says, Paulette, her home-maker extraordinaire sister would surely have what I needed.

I went back to chopping vegetables and decided to forget about the crumbling crust, the missing glassware, or how the hell I was going to serve these pizzas. God, I prayed, Just don't let them be professional chefs. I have to say here, that delegation, that is sisterhood delegation, really works! Sue showed up with two marvelous blocks to serve the pizzas on. Dinah came home happy, and Sandra and Greg showed up bearing bags of drink-makings, fancy stemware, lovely freesias and even a bottle of wine that Sandra had designed the label for!

Melissa and Phil showed up and they were (thank you, God) not professional chefs, but good-natured and easy going. My favorite comment was when Melissa confessed she was pleasantly surprised and relieved to find the food so palatable, as they hadn't known what to expect from a raw, live food menu! That comment, along with Sandra and Sue flying in like angels to help me in my hour of stress, AND the fact that the crust did NOT crumble when we ate it, made my night! In fact, there was only a few scraps of that pizza left...and THAT'S how the pizza crust crumbles.

Saturday, January 19

More than Just an Apple a Day...

The live food movement is an emerging culinary culture we are seeing come on the scene right now, much as the vegetarian movement did in the early 1970’s. People did not flock to a vegetarian diet when it first began, in fact we were somehow a little frightened! What were we afraid of? Did we think vegetables were going to kill us? Perhaps given our high-protein diets at the time we were terrified of not getting enough protein. But, slowly, as we began to understand that grains and nuts are super high in protein too, tasty recipes were introduced, and nutritionists and even doctors began to endorse it, our culture began to accept it. Now a vegetarian diet is not so unusual and most of us recognize eating this way as a healthier trend than the meat and potatoes diet we grew up on. We’re finally accepting that vegetables and fruits aren’t going to kill us and in fact, might improve the quality of our lives.

So like vegetarianism was 30 years ago, the live food movement is being met with trepidation and suspicion. How do you get your protein? Isn’t preparing raw food hugely time-consuming? These are the most common questions I get. Yes, changing your diet seems scary, but it doesn't have to be! And there is a learning curve, for any diet! Yes, live food may seem as weird as vegetarianism may have seemed the first time we heard about it, but like vegetarianism, live food too might one day (soon) be accepted into the fold.

But there’s nothing weird about live food, in fact it is the stuff life is made of. And furthermore is quite gourmet! Live (raw) food is vegetables, fruits, nuts and grains prepared in ways that retain the food’s enzymes, vitamins and other nutrients. That simple. Live foodists flock to this diet not just because of taste and purity, but mainly because they want to maximize the amount of nourishment (and healing) that takes place when they eat! In short, live foodies feel more alive than they’ve ever felt in their lives. Charged, clear, energetic, healthy and thriving.

Raw food is “alive” because these foods have not been cooked or heated higher than 118 degrees. Conventionally cooked foods have had their vitamins and nutrients cooked right out of them, plus it takes them from an alkaline to an acid state, but the cornerstone of the live food philosophy is enzyme retention. Cooked foods are stripped of 100% of their enzymes in the process of being heated at temperatures higher than 118 degrees. Enzymes are essential to digestion! In fact enzymes are essential to our very life! Enzymes act as catalysts for every metabolic reaction in our bodies. Cell division, energy production, brain activity, all need enzymes. Vitamins and hormones need enzymes to do their work, as does our immune systems.
The other interesting note is that cooking converts alkaline foods (most vegetables) to acid ph. Disease thrives in an acid environment, it needs it! Conversely, disease cannot live in an alkaline environment.

When you eat cooked food all the time, the body has to function and fight diseases in a pro-disease (high acid) environment. It also has to scramble to try to generate the necessary enzymes to digest that food. What stress on the body! Here we are trying to nourish our bodies with food and instead we’re stressing it out! The body is only able to poorly replicate the enzymes you just killed by cooking your food. So digestion is not maximized, and many of us suffer from bloated bellies, flatulence, constipation, acid indigestion/reflux, poor memory and other maladies, very probably originally caused by basic poor digestion. Ask a raw foodie the last time they were sick. Cold or flu this year? Nope. Their body’s in a higher alkaline state, resistant to disease, and their immunity is stimulated and on active alert. In the driving position to eliminate any threats to the body as they are introduced.

I’ve been practicing this diet (but still do incorporate cooked food regularly) about 50% to 80% each day for about 13 months. The first thing I noticed was that I had more energy and needed less sleep each night. That means I woke up in the morning more refreshed. I had been feeling before that time groggy, sore and heavy when I first woke up. I have not been sick with a cold or flu once, and it’s mid-January. My bowel movements have been more frequent and regular THAN EVER IN MY LIFE, and I have always been on the constipated side. My pot belly that I had accepted as part of my genetic physique, is no longer puffy but flat and smooth. About 7 years ago I was diagnosed with Hepatitis-C and while I have been a-symptomatic my blood levels showing stress to my liver had been slowly and consistently rising each year. This year my blood levels were down to as low as before I knew I had this disease! The other thing that has changed for me is my brain fog and memory issues have cleared up. My mind feels sharp and clear and I’m not having trouble recalling “that word” I so often had trouble remembering.

I did drop some weight initially but I have leveled off, which is good for me as I am thin, only about 120 lbs. My husband, however, who was overweight did lose 17 lbs. He has not practiced this diet as much as me and is more closer to about 20% to 60%, but he's had benefits besides losing weight. His skin conditions have been relieved somewhat and he also has not been sick once this year, although he is still slightly overweight.

The food is delicious and it is exciting learning to prepare foods this way, although I admit there is a learning curve. I hope you'll enjoy my trevails and recipes on this site, but know that this blog tackled a very off-the-charts high-end recipe book! There are many books with simpler gourmet recipes that prove to be successful your first time.

When you maximize your nutrition by adding foods with the vitamins and fiber intact and live enzymes to your body, metabolic reactions take place and your nerves, hormones and most importantly your immunity/health are maximized. They say the body already knows how to cure cancer and all diseases. It’s just that when we short-circuit the body’s ability to act, we disable this function. Eating live, raw vegan cuisine awakens our immunity and maximizes our health.

It can’t hurt to try it. Vegetables, fruits, nuts and grains never hurt anybody.

Wednesday, September 5

The Last of the Great Rawhicans and the Feeding Frenzy of the Ravenous Piranha People

This was it. My final recipe! Trio of Gelatos. Don’t you love it? My last recipe is actually three recipes. Frankly all recipes in this book seemed to be a composite of several recipes to each one, but hell, who’s counting?

We were having our long time friends Rick, Mady and Ed over night. We had been looking forward to this get-together, as it had been a while since we last had them all up to our Sonoma place. I imagined I would celebrate their visit with my grand finale last dessert. The actual recipe was Trio of Gelatos: Persimmon, Pineapple and Chocolate.

OK, folks, persimmons don’t begin to appear for months. What to do, what to do? I called Nancy Kux, professional baker extraordinaire for advice. What would be a good substitute? Damn, she must have gone out of town for the long weekend, no return call. What was good right now, I asked myself. And what would be colorful? Plums turned out to be the answer. Now for the chocolate gelato. Well, I still had a full container of fudge (raw chocolate, maple syrup and almond butter) left over from my failed attempt at truffles. I really wanted to use that up, plus it was scrumptious! So I decided not to make chocolate gelato but keep it vanilla so we could make sundaes! Plum, Pineapple and Hot fudge Sundae it would be!

I had thoughtfully frozen the ice cream canisters and packed them in the cooler for the trip. As soon as we arrived, into the freezer they went. I was prepared. As I began pureeing the pineapple and plums in preparation of the fruit gelatos, I reflected on the fact that I was making three gelatos and only had two canisters. This detail was compounded by the fact that I did not start the day before as I had planned, but on the day of our guests’ arrivals, Sunday.

I began to sweat bullets when for some reason the plum puree would just not freeze. I tried to be patient, but I had to admit when after 20 minutes it was still liquid something was wrong. I picked up the canister and much to my fear, it wasn’t frozen! How could this be? I had put it in the freezer the night before! I quickly put the puree into another container and put in the frig. I stuffed the non-frozen canister with ice, padded it with freezer bags and set it inside the ice tray of the freezer. Please, Goddess of Ice, freeze my canisters! It was a good thing I got started in the morning, maybe with a little luck the canister would be frozen by afternoon. I still had to make the pineapple and the vanilla!

After an hour or so, I tried the other canister and ice-creamed up the pineapple. Goddess of Ice came through. I lost no time returning that canister to the freezer to hopefully freeze up before I needed it for the vanilla gelato. Finally the moment came when I could no longer put off the plum gelato. I expectantly pulled out the canister. Shook it. I could hear no liquid. Goddess, please let it be frozen. I poured in the chilled plum puree and flipped the switch and fled. I ran around the property doing chores so I would not melt it with my anxious gaze. I came back about 15 minutes later and hallelujah! Clumps were beginning to appear. Freezing happens. Two down, one to go. I decided to put off the vanilla until the very end to build up my freezer credits with the Great Goddess.

We had a fabulous dinner, the sunset was beautiful, the weather was perfect and we were all quite entertained watching Rick futilely bat away these little flies (for some reason he was the only one) who relentlessly flocked his ears. Ah, life was Good. Worlds collided as they often do with me and I enjoyed some grilled pork loin and the wine was flowing. I snuck into the kitchen, pulled out the canister I hoped would be most frozen, poured the chilled vanilla puree in and flipped the switch. Again, I couldn’t bear to watch. I walked back out to the picnic table to our guests, but I was nervously pacing and it wasn’t long before I returned to peer into the whirling ice cream maker. Still liquid. Don’t worry, it will happen.

I went back out, slammed back a gulp of Menage A Trois Red and confessed my worst fears with my guests. This was my last recipe and the vanilla gelato looks like it’s not going to freeze! This crowd was completely undaunted by this prospect and was all too quick for my tastes to come up with lots of alternatives for my beloved gelato We’ll have slushies! someone said. Yes, we’ll make milk shakes, said another. NO! I screamed, it HAS to turn out!
They all gave me that look.
Like, how unnecessary to take this thing so darn seriously, I mean REALLY. I ran back into the kitchen, I was alone in my resolve. They obviously did not know what this meant to me.

Well, it did seem to be slushing a bit, but why was it taking so long? I stopped the process, changed the canister out with the other one from the freezer. I would not be dicked with! I flipped the switch, poured a generous glass of wine and went back out to more creative alternatives such as granitas, snow cones and slurpees. I would have none of it. It seemed like forever, but eventually my vanilla mixture began to stiffen up and form those beautiful frozen wave-globs. As soon as it looked good enough, I hauled it into the freezer to finish. I would not take the chance that the canister would warm up and undo this progress!

The moment was upon me. Us, the World. Out came the other two and into the microwave went the fudge sauce (sorry, this is completely anti-raw, but I didn’t care, I wanted HOT fudge!) I scooped up the first two and then triumphantly took out the vanilla and scooped it too. Of course our camera had run out of batteries, so thank God Rick with flies still buzzing his ears took over as photographer.

After the photo shoot I had planned to serve dessert, civilized style, out on the dinner table with each guest having their own serving. I never made it that far. Our dinner guests began to hover around like piranha. I had barely served up another scoop before they all began to dive in with their spoons. While they were having spoon wars, I grabbed the fudge sauce and poured it over a couple of scoops of the vanilla gelato. I think that’s when things got ugly.

Spoons were clacking, lips were smacking. Gutteral sounds were humming out of mouths. Did you taste the plum? No, you HAVE to taste the pineapple. Oh, the plum is my favorite, no the vanilla. No fudge for me, I like it as is, cried Mady. No, you HAVE to try the fudge! Oh my God, the Fudge! More fudge, please. I slathered it on. We shamelessly attacked the defenseless gelatos.

It was ridiculous. It was truly a feeding frenzy of the first degree and it could not have been a finer finale, a more gratifying send-off for the completion of all 52 recipes. This has been such a deep and satisfying odyssey for me, but to have some of our dearest friends chowing like starving vultures on my very last recipe as if it was the last dessert they would ever have, well….it made my heart smile.

I stood on a chair, donned the book and announced myself Complete. Fin. Au Revoir. No Mas. Finito. Terminé. There was applause. There was more wine. And just like that, it was over.

Recipe 51: Apple-Quince Pavé with Pecan-Maple Ice Cream

It was Thursday, the day before my supposed last day and I had two recipes to go. My back: HURT! I had seen the chiropractor twice and my physical therapist three times. Still: Hurt. How could I make my deadline, I complained to incredulous ears.

My friends and family were non plussed. What do you mean you won’t make your deadline…didn’t you set it yourself? Like, who cares if you don’t make your deadline, you’re the only one counting. Well, hell, I know THAT! It was the PRINCIPAL for god’s sake! If I can’t get my friends to take my own imaginary deadlines seriously, what else could I count on them for? Well, obviously, they just didn’t get it. They couldn’t understand why someone in such back pain who was busy at work and preparing to leave town would completely stress herself out any more on completing a self-established deadline. In short, they felt I needed to give myself a break. So I gave myself an extension. In reality, I hadn’t started this endeavor on exactly June 1st, it was more like June 5th so an extension was entirely legal. I’d finish up over the Labor Day weekend.

Now why would I expect the recipe before the last to be any easier than any other? And what is a pavé, anyway? A pavé, dear reader, is apparently a triangular dessert. A triangular dessert made from round apples and, instead of quinces which are out of season, oblong pears. The pear substitute idea came rather easily as I imagined quince would be similar to pear and luckily they were in season at the market.

I carefully cut “paper thin” slices of just-in-season gravenstein apples and pears and brushed honey-lemon sauce on each layer, then covered it and weighted it down with a brick. I’m evidently not evolved enough of a cook to have a 2 lb cooking weight in my cupboard. I jammed the sticky honey “pavé” and the canister of pecan-maple ice cream into the cooler and headed to Sonoma for the Labor Day Weekend.

This recipe should have been called Baklava! The thin but crunchy slices and the honey sauce make a delicious and healthy version of that middle eastern classic. Then of course, good old Roxanne wants the dessert to rest in a pool of sultana juice. This is not the first time she has thrown that curve fruit at me. I came to learn that sultanas are small and special dried grapes from the other side of the world. I could have used raisins, but found some champagne grapes at the market which when pureed and strained turned out as a sumptuous substitute!

The pecan maple ice cream – well, it had all the flavors, but the consistency was gritty and mealy. Just didn’t work. I would say next time I would strain it all before freezing, because the maple and pecan flavors were delicious.

When I lifted the brick from the pavé I had my doubts if the dessert would stay together and had even less confidence that when I took a knife to it that I would be successful in cutting triangles from round fruits, but the Klein-Trotter gods must have been looking down benevolently upon me, because the knife sliced right through and voila! The next to the last recipe was born, and this recipe was light, fruity, tart, attractive and DELICIOUS!