Friday, June 1

About this Labor of Love

Fortified with little experience, but truly a passion for living food, a husband who wants to lose weight (he has lost 14 lbs so far and LOOKS and FEELS terrific) and a neighborhood gourmet grocery store, I will embark on not nearly such a daunting project as cooking every recipe from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking in one year, but something less monumental, but still intimidating to me, which will be to prepare all the recipes from Charlie Trotter and Roxanne Klein’s fancy shmancy gourmet RAW book over the summer. I’ve had this book for several years now and have not attempted one single recipe. What else will motivate me but to declare it as a goal to an audience?

But first I want to not only give credit, but communicate to author Julia Shaffer of Julie & Julia, My Year of Cooking Dangerously that her hilarious book inspired me to do this…not only to love the kitchen more, but that a fellow Texan with a gutter mouth like me, might be inspired to write. And she can…she’s a very good writer. Anyway, she inspired me and before I start my own “mission” (as opposed to Julie's "project"), I want to write her and let her know that I hope she is not feeling plagiarized or copied by my mimicking her project…my husband says the best form of flattery is plagiary...I only hope copycatting is just as flattering. Purchase her book:

So, back in like 1995 this totally cool restaurant opened up in my neighborhood (Inner Sunset, San Francisco) called Raw. I was immediately attracted to this restaurant and was totally intrigued to learn that all the gourmet and delicious looking dishes turning out were totally uncooked vegan dishes. Fermented wheat berries, dehydrated crusts for pizzas and “breads,” pureed fruits for pudding, soaked nuts for “cheese,” herbal infused waters and teas, sea vegetables…all these exotic, delicious but purely healthy foods served in the most artistic way. Nothing heated beyond 105 degrees, so as to keep the “living” enzymes and nutrients that are alive in nuts, seeds and vegetables alive.

The owner, a beautiful man named Juliano wound up moving to southern California where he started another restaurant (I think) and wrote an amazing cookbook. Well, here it is, like 11 years later, and I finally have his cookbook, and am finally ready, with the necessary encouragement from my husband, to start a whole new way of eating. It’s a TERRIFIC cookbook and I totally recommend it. I’ve already been making all kinds of delicious things from it. But his book has like over 100 recipes and I didn’t know if I could do that over the summer, but also his are easier. Roxanne’s is unbelievably high-brow, so thus the challenge.

I started first by making my own almond milk instead of buying the dead almond milk in the box. Beautiful, snow-white "milk" squeezes out of my husband’s beer sock (this is the PERFECT tool for making almond milk) over my hopefully washed fingers and into the glass pitcher. You can add a little blended date or a dash of maple syrup, but truly for us, we really don’t need it. Almonds are loaded with calcium, vitamin E and magnesium, and have their own natural sweetness. We’ve been going through, like a pitcher every 2-3 days.

First you have to soak the almonds (or any nut, like you can make pecan milk, cashew milk, brazil nut milk, etc.) for 4-24 hours. The idea being that when you soak a nut in agua, the nut thinks it’s going to seed and so starts rejuvenating and the enzymes and life-giving properties in the nut “wake up” and once they’re activated, they are optimum for consumption, with the maximum of living nutrients.

Everything is alive. And I know a lot of people don’t eat meat because they don’t want to kill an animal. But how can we say a plant is so much lower on the scale of things? I personally don’t believe they are. Plants, I have learned, in my modest forays into the world of composting and worm farming, do some mind-blowing things…one could say they think and make decisions. Of course most humans snigger at such a suggestion. We are so egocentric. Anyway, I have to say I do feel bad about an animal being killed just so I can enjoy a filet Mignon melting in my mouth, or even worse, oysters, which I LOVE, are ALIVE when you eat them on the half shell. Your teeth ripping into their tender body is how they get to die. At least cows get to die a more humane death. But look how we treat plants. We rip them out of the ground and chop them up! They die slowly, eh? So it is sacred, eating other life, no matter if plant or animal. And I don’t know how to be humane about it, well plants anyway. But for my fellow mammals, I can buy free-range, organic, etc., and hope that the folks at those farms have integrity.

So I got the bright idea, a time saver, to soak my almonds in advance and store them in the frig in a container. Every day I thought of blending them up to make almond milk, but no, I thought, I’ll wait cuz I don’t want to make the milk until we’re ready to drink it…I want it to be as fresh as possible.

So I was ready today to make a new batch. Nursing a bit of a hangover from a wild dinner out with the Dactyls saying farewell to a sister who is moving off to Connecticut with her new husband, I was craving a milk shake. I rummaged through the cabinets and I found Them. I can’t believe he bought Ruffels potato chips! After recovering from the mild shock (Daniel is serious about not eating junk and to lose weight, but I guess he had a weak moment when I left him for a night--God knows, I certainly did not adhere to any kind of healthy consumption last night!) I crammed a few in my mouth as I opened the lid. Shit! A few of the almonds had MOLD on them. Damn, I swear, this live/fresh food thing is so unforgiving sometimes. Better eat another chip. I picked up one at a time and scraped the little dot of blue mold from each nut. After about five I said fuck it and dumped them all into the blender. Ate another handful of Ruffels. Mold is supposed to be good for you, isn’t it? I poured the filtered agua over them and whirled away. Yum almond milk. Yuck, potato chips.