Salad for dinner? Again?? Ok!!

“Hey, B invited me to go out to eat with him and C.”

Oh, great! (Not really. I know where this is heading.) Where’re you guys going?

“We’re gonna grab a buffalo burger.” (My dinner fate is sealed.)

Ok, yeah, that’s cool.

“And that way you won’t have to cook tonight. Right??”

Uh, well, I DO have to make myself something.

Yeah, but you can eat salad or something…” he trails off as he heads out the door.

Yeah, I can eat another salad, I grumble to myself, just like I do every day of the year.

Honestly, I wasn’t much in the mood for salad tonight. I’d planned to grill some shrimp with lemon and pepper for J, steam some broccoli, and try out this new gluten free organic black bean spaghetti I’d picked up at Whole Foods the other day. Maybe toss it with a cumin-cilantro vinaigrette and some diced tomatoes. Maybe some chiles, too.

Ah, instead I opened the fridge, got out the lettuce and started to prepare my salad – my dinner. I gave it a good swirl of evoo; spooned on the lemon juice; a good squirt of Braggs liquid aminos rounded out the vinaigrette. Tossed on some raw sunflower and pumpkin seeds, a small handful of toasted almonds. Topped it all with tomato cubes and dried cranberries.

As I sat down to eat, I wondered what kind of crackers or chips we had to go with the salad. Not in the mood for rice crackers. Definitely no toast. Didn’t have any kind of focaccia or other heart bread around.

Naturally I went for the sprouted corn tortillas. Heated a pan over medium high, tossed on a tortilla and let it get flavorful, ripe banana brown spots on each side. It was a bit dry and stiff when I put it on the plate and that’s when I had my “aha” moment – I’m having tostadas tonight!!

Onto the tostada went part of my salad. Muy sabroso!! That was a great dinner :)

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Anyway, I think is going to be one of my “go to” meals this summer. It’s fast; it’s nourishing; it’s gluten free; it’s delicious.  And I’m just imagining it with some black beans scattered on, or some ruby quinoa, maybe some diced mango. The possibilities are endless -- it’s salad :)

I’ll get to the black bean spaghetti and keep you posted.

These cupcakes are real lemons…

IMG_3785Lemon tree, oh so pretty!

And, indeed, the lemon flower is sweet!! Our lemon tree is blooming and the scent that floats through the yard is indescribable…sweet lemony perfuminess. The bees are buzzing around it and it makes me feel like I’m contributing to the earth’s fruitfulness.

I can’t wait till the flowers start producing little lemons, and the little lemons, in turn, become big, edible lemons. We “harvested” about 10 of them last year. Hope we can have at least that many again this year.

Lemons make me happy. They make everything taste better, they’re so cute to look at, they’re so versatile. How on earth did they become associated with things that are wrong??

"The car’s a real lemon!” Shouldn’t that mean “it’s a perfectly perky little automobile?"

“We bought a new fridge and it’s a real lemon!” And you know whoever is saying that is swathing the statement in utter disgust. Oh, that breaks my heart!!

“I made a batch of cupcakes yesterday and they’re real lemons.” With that statement I’d like to change forever the association of lemons with anything subpar, for the lemon cupcakes are real winners. They’re lemons :)

So here’s the story:

Every day when we juice, we juice at least a couple of organic lemons, peel and all. I love the juice in place of vinegar in salads. Imagine the sparkle it adds to steamed broccoli and asparagus. Somehow juicing the whole thing softens, yet intensifies the flavor all at the same time. Mm, sooo good!

J has been begging me to make him a lemon cake. I used to make this delicious vegan lemon cake – and since I’ve gone gluten free, no more lemon cake. I refuse to put that much work into something I can’t eat. So I’ve been trying to figure out how to make the lemon cake that he insists he dreams of. Geez, can he get any more dramatic??

The other day I got my weekly e-mailer from Whole Foods and they had a recipe for gluten-free spice cupcakes. I don’t know, spice cupcakes just don’t do anything for me in spring or summer. Maybe in a snowbound winter, but not in warm weather. Anyway, I looked at the ingredient ratios and thought, I could do this with lemon!!!

Act I. Scene I - So I got everything out, mixed the batter up, dropped it into the lined cupcake tins, and popped them in the oven. Oh my, they smelled grreat!! They rose beautifully and…deflated with a vengeance. Hmmm.

I let them cool and then gently peeled the paper off. Not sure why I peeled it gently because I could tell from the weight of the cake that it was not a gentle thing. I handed one to J with the look of promise in my eyes, and we bit into them.

“They’re different! Good, but different,” he said. “They remind me of mochi. Lemon mochi.

“That’s because I made them with sweet rice flour,” I sighed. “That’s the only kind of rice flour I had.”

Shoot, these cupcakes were lemons. They tasted soooo good, but they felt like a ton of lead in the belly. Ach, lemons!

“Ok, J, I’m making these again,” I said, “but this time I’m using brown rice flour. I’ll buy some and give them another shot.”

Act II - Several days later. The lemon chorus: “They’re different. Good, but different. Why are they so gritty?”

He was right. The brown rice flour brought back memories of “that thar cowpoke eatin’ dust and a-dyin’ in the desert”.

Another batch of good old-fashioned lemons.

“I’m gonna give these one more shot. One more shot and that’s it. If they’re not right, I’m not wasting any more time on your dream cake. Harrumph!!” Exit kitchen left.

Act III. Deus ex machina. (Well, not really, but my college degree likes it.) Kitchen alchemy begins. Powders are measured and mixed. Liquids are blended and swirled. The elements are cajoled to bind thee one unto another till teeth thee do part. The little muffin tins are lined and filled and the mounds of lemony batter are whisked to their igneous fate. Trial by fire. Leia and Sonoma can feel the tension building as the cloud of lemony scent billows its way through the house.

A cupcake is plated. Lemon blossom and blackberry crown it, as a few more berries surround the cake as if to soften the blow as it, too, falls from dream grace.

“Banana! This is THE best cupcake I have ever eaten. In my whole life.” J is drifting in an out of gastronomic delirium.

Well, I don’t know if they’re the best thing E.V.E.R, but they’re pret-ty delicious. They’re real lemons!!

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I changed the original recipe up and down and all around. These babies are vegetarian AND gluten-free. How much better does it get?! And if you want to veganize them, substitute for the butter in the frosting. They don’t need frosting, but sometimes there’s nothing like a little dab of icing on the cupcake to do ya

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Give them a try and let me know if you agree with J :)

Lemon Cupcakes – Vegetarian & Gluten-free

Ingredients:

2 T ground flax seeds

1/4 c water

2/3 c vanilla yogurt

1/3 c sugar

1/2 c coconut oil

1/2 c coconut milk

1 t fresh lemon juice (I used juice from a juiced lemon, peel and all)

1 t freshly grated lemon zest

1 c brown rice flour

1 c Pamela’s baking mix

1/2 t baking powder

1/2 t baking soda

1/2 t xanthan gum

1/4 t salt

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cupcake tin with muffin liners.

2. In a small bowl, mix together the flax seeds and water. Set aside.

3. In a bowl, mix together the yogurt and sugar. Whisk in the coconut oil until well incorporated. Add the coconut milk, lemon juice and zest. Set aside.

4. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.

5. Stir the flax seed mixture into the liquid mixture, then pour all into the flour mixture. Mix until no flour is visible. Drop the batter evenly into the 12 cupcake liners and bake for about 23 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.

The cupcakes are fairly delicate, but firm up a bit as they cool. Serve as is, with fruit, ice cream, frosting, or any combination of the aforementioned. Enjoy!!

Lemon Frosting

4 T softened butter

1 T coconut oil

2 T lemon juice (juiced lemon, peel and all)

1 1/2 c icing sugar

Beat the butter and coconut oil together. Blend in the lemon juice. Stir in the icing sugar, then beat till well-combined. Frost cupcakes as desired.

1 day later…

So I thought the lacy shrug I posted about yesterday was a pattern I’d found on Ravelry. Well, the link can be found there. But actually it’s a pattern called Ribbed Lace Bolero and it can be found here on the “10 feet high” blog. Gotta give credit where credit is due.

And, now, gotta run because I just had this -- a goblet of zingy-zappin’ energy juice: apples, carrots, celery, lemon, beets, cranberries, sea buckthorn, cherries, grapefruit, tangerines, oranges, and ginger…

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and because this big girl and her sister are ready to go on a nice long walk.

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25 years later….

8pm and it’s still light outside. I love it!!

Light breeze, all the windows are open, and I was just going back through time courtesy of a photo album S gave me the other day. Ha, there are some photos of me back in 1984 knitting a sweater I’d be wearing in the 1985 photo of me on a train from Berlin to Munich. Seems like another world ago. Check these out…

Stricken 1985-1  Stricken 1985

Someone asked me not too long ago if I ever knitted anything but shawls. I don’t currently knit much besides shawls, but there was a time when I made all kinds of things. I used to knit my little Firefighter’s sweaters, hats, and booties. Obviously, from the pictures, I used to knit myself little sweaters. But there’s an element of mindlessness that comes with knitting shawls that I find comforting, necessary for my life phase. Even the ones with complicated patterns are somehow mindless. And they never “don’t fit.” They’re always just right. And I love that they can be made in any color under the sun. I usually knit with wool, but for my upcoming trip to Florida, I wanted cotton or silk and found some gorgeous ones at Woolie Ewe. I’m nearly done with the marigold Ishbel, but wouldn’t you know it, I ran out of yarn and need to buy another hank to finish about 9 rows plus the bind-off. Ach, knitting trauma.

The flamingo wool I bought is actually going to be another shawl. First I thought I’d knit another Ishbel, but decided to branch out and try another pattern. What could be more fitting for a trip than Traveling Woman? Here’s a peek at the stockinette portion; the lace pattern is about to begin tonight since the marigold one is on hold.

Flamingo TW

I had bought some silvery lilac cotton, too, and instead of a shawl actually made a little shrug. I found the free pattern on Ravelry, but can’t remember the name. If I think of it, I’ll post it. So, I like the shrug even though it’s a little big. Maybe I can shrink it a bit with a good hot wash?? Anyway, I have one skein left. Not sure what it will become. Maybe a little lace beanie??

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So I don’t just knit shawls, I do knit other things. I just prefer knitting shawls :)

But I don’t just knit. I cook, too. This afternoon I made some really cool little tacos that reminded me of Antigua. Sorry, no pics, but they were great and super easy. Next time I make them, and I will make them again, I’ll try to snap some photos before they’re devoured.

Tempeh Tacos

  1. Tempeh, cut into strips and steam for about 5 minutes
  2. Season with lemon juice and curry powder
  3. Heat a pan over medium-high, add a tablespoon or so of coconut oil, and sautee the strips, till they’re crispy on both sides
  4. Julienne some green & red cabbage
  5. Cut some tomatoes into matchsticks
  6. Heat some sprouted corn tortillas on a hot pan until they’re fragrant
  7. Assemble: Spread a little sweet & spicy mustard on a tortilla. Layer on some cabbage, tomatoes, tempeh and more cabbage
  8. Fold and eat. Oh yeah!!

 

I also made a delicious veggie stew/soup the other day. Sort of a “goodbye winter – hello springtime” kind of dish.

Veggie Soup with Lemon

It had all kinds of goodies in it: tomatoes, carrots, celery, onions, cabbage, kale, lots of cilantro and -- the dot on the i -- lemon juice. Not just regular old lemon juice. Juiced organic lemon juice. Before the other fruits and veggies go into the juicer each day, I drop in a lemon or two, peel and all. Out comes the most fragrant nectar that makes anything it goes on taste vibrantly delicious. It’s incredible on salads in place of vinegar, in juices, and as a seasoning. Lip-smacking good, I’m telling you. We keep a jar in the fridge and it’s finding its way into all kinds of edibles. Tomorrow it’s going to make an appearance in the chickpeas I’ve got soaking – mmmm, lemony hummos. Can’t wait!

Last pic of today’s post…Sonoma snoozing in the car. Isn’t she a doll?

Nomi snoozing in the car