Saturday, October 22, 2016

Vegan Double Chocolate Sunflower Brownie Cake

cake ready for oven

A good friend of mine often sends me interesting recipes with all the right ingredients. This vegan double chocolate brownie recipe came at the perfect time since Big Brother recently asked, in anticipation of his 7 1/2 Birthday, for a double chocolate cake. For special moments, I usually make our signature chocolate chip cookie pie out of garbanzo beans since we all love it. Today, we decided to try this recipe and turn the classic brownie idea into a round cake using a springform pan.  It is a tradition of ours to celebrate the Boy's half Birthdays with half a cake.  This works out nicely since we eat half the cake and freeze the other for the following month-Birthdays are just two months apart. This afternoon, anticipating a big rain storm and while Papi was out strolling little brother for afternoon nap, Big Brother and enjoyed time together baking.  He helped with each step of the baking process.  His commentary while adding the flour back into to TM bowl full of chocolate batter: "It's like a snowy mountain in the middle of a chocolate lake".  Isn't it great to be in the kitchen with children?

What you need: 

6 tablespoons rice flour, Whole Foods long grain brown rice
4 tablespoons oat flour, Bob's Redmill gluten free rolled oats
1/2 cup + 4 tablespoons (74 grams) Trader Joe's coco powder
2 cups (280 grams)Trader Joe's unsalted sunflower seeds
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon real salt
1 cup maple syrup
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup, plus 4 tablespoons water
1/2 cup Enjoy Life dark chocolate chips

What to do: 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Line springform cake pan with baking paper. 

Rub coconut oil over baking paper and up around sides of pan.

Add rice and oats to TM bowl and grind to flour: speed 9 for 1 minute.

Put flour aside in a bowl to add back in later.

Add sunflower seeds to TM bowl and blen to a flour is formed: speed 7-8 for 30 seconds.

Add the cocoa powder, baking powder and salt to TM bowl and mix: speed 3 for 20 seconds.

Add the maple syrup, vanilla and water to TM bowl and mix: speed 6 for 1 minute.

Scrape down sides and blend until smooth.

Add the rice and oat flours back to the TM bowl and mix: speed 6 for 20 seconds. The batter will be thick and smooth.

Add the chocolate chops to the TM bowl and mix: reverse blade, speed 3 for 10 seconds.

Pour the batter into springform pan with the helpful spatula.  Check out my new one

Bake for 35 minutes.  See the original recipe for more information on how the cake should come out and how to decide if it needs 5 more minutes.  Note: I found the brownies a bit more crumbly one hour after pulling from oven than I had expected. I wonder what I can do next time for the fudge consistency I like.  Perhaps I shouldn't have doubled the recipe for the first go? 
rice and oat flour made in Thermomix
sunflower seed flour

Big Brother adding flour

"it's like a snowy mountain in the middle of a chocolate lake"
Enjoy Life dark chocolate chips
does adding rice and oat flour to chips help them not sink like regular flour?
he is so delighted with cake batter
learning how to spread batter.  he called this "swirling"
boys pleased with cake

took out with us for dessert

Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day 2016, A Year Later

contents waiting on the curb for garbage pickup

view from down the street following morning

On Memorial Day 2015 we spent the morning at the swimming pool.  For lunch we enjoyed grilled chicken with fresh salads made from an abundance of fresh market produce. The house was clean, tidy and the kitchen stocked.  That afternoon we relaxed, played, took our family walk, napped and did food prep for the week.  The week ahead was the last week of Kindergarten and we were feeling like the year was ending on a good note.  We were imagining a leisurely summer of playdates, pool, arts and crafts and reading.  Later that afternoon our neighbors asked us if we wanted to come over for a swim. Normally, the answer would have been yes; however, I had been in the mood to relax. Ironically, the dry and tranquil evening I had imagined turned into a night of terror, a night of 3 feet of water entering our house from all angles.  Memorial Day would be the last day we would live in our house.  We would leave in the middle of the night with just a few belongings, having to cross our street, now a pond.  We were to be soaking wet in a different kind of swimming pool.  

We were so lucky that our neighbors saw our unclear texted cry for help in the middle of the night and responded. In waist-high water we were guided out of our house.  We carried our boys on our hips down the road to their house which sits up a few feet from the street. We crossed rising water in sheer darkness. When we got inside I was a total mess.  I was frightened and my foot was bleeding. My neighbor's children helped us dry off and get a change of clothes.  In my small bag I only had my phone, wallet, 2 diapers, Epipens and Benadryl.  I was crying and processing what was happening and in shock, picturing our house halfway drowned in black water.  At one point I started to feel relieved to be there in a safe, familiar space where we were out of danger.  At the same time, I was fearing  that they too could flood in this impressive amount of rising water if it didn't stop threatening to come closer to their door.  So many questions about how much damage had happened and if everyone else was ok.  Next thing I knew, we were all next door for the rest of the night at our other neighbor's house up on their second floor. Many of us had ranches and didn't have a second floor to climb up to.

I'll never forget the gorgeous, sunny morning we woke up to after just one hour of restless sleep. The neighborhood was out on the patches of dry grass watching the water recede and processing the disaster from the night before.  There was a canoe taking people around the streets. This canoe went to my house and brought back to me a few requested items.  Of course, the first thing I wanted was my Thermomix. 

We then spent the rest of the week between two of our neighbors' houses.  We began the arduous tasks of sorting through the flooded mess left behind and dealing with flood insurance and remediating.  I will forever be grateful to our neighbors for helping us retrieve, wash and dry whatever was salvageable from our wardrobe. They even went out to buy us some essentials.  They were in constant helpful, action mode for us and even stored, in their guest room, everything they had helped us pull out and clean. We literally took over our neighbors' spaces. Meanwhile some friends came over in intervals to watch our kids for us there so that we could work. Another good friend was always available to watch our boys at her house when needed. 

A big topic for me is how to eat with food allergies while living in crisis mode. Of course we had to eat.  How was I going to feed my littlest with so many food allergies? We didn't go out to restaurants, except for two safe options along with Whole Foods, and find it very difficult to accept food from others.  It's one thing to have one food allergy like both myself my oldest have. Our littlest has such a long list of allergies that I felt like I was in my nightmare situation. How was I to accept food from others unless a bag of fruit, or a specific item I asked for?  Share a meal at someone else's house? This is usually not an option.  Luckily, I was able to get a few dry pantry items from the house the morning after the flood, but I needed to figure out more than that. I needed to make meals. An example of someone understanding and meeting our needs was when a good friend brought me grass fed ground meat, kale and carrots. I even had a moment of calm cooking and sharing this meal with the neighbors we were staying with. I had my own pan, spoon, heat source, clean surface area and safe ingredients.  Another awesome thing was good friends giving gift certificates to the places where we can eat out.  It felt like a huge treat to go out during all the stress. 

We lost all of our furniture, appliances, and most of our belongings. We lost the space to keep them.  The specific loss of my kitchen space and almost everything in it was just awful.  I found our new fully stocked french door refrigerator belly-up in flood water.  It felt like a metaphor of disaster.  This fridge was perfect for how I cook and store food; dairy products in their own corner, fridge doors too high for Little Brother to open. When I picked up the 50-year-old stainless, electric skillet my mom gave me I burst into tears; I had trusted that it would go anywhere with me in life.  

The night after the flood, while staying with our neighbors, we received a message asking if we had somewhere to live. We were offered perfect accommodations for the summer in a fully furnished garage apartment with beds, sheets, towels, bathroom, kitchenette, access to laundry and a short walk to a favorite park. Here we would live until we could find a place to rent.  Here I had a cozy home base to take care of my boys, myself and was able to tend to the flooded mess of our house. 

Today is Memorial Day, 2016.  A full year has gone by since we left our house.  A year of many changes, transitions and emotions.  Looking back I can see how the flood for me was a time in my life when I had to face many fears. I learned how to ask for, accept and receive help. The flood was stressful, yet we were ok.  I did find that I desperately needed to take a break and go to my yoga class regularly. We all need time for ourselves.  Self-care is essential as is, it is more so during times of stress. I just needed someone who could watch my allergic child where there would be no food around. After searching, a rainbow appeared in the form of the most wonderful lady I adored instantly.  She would watch my boys so that I could find space to  breathe, heal and revitalize.  Just one hour and I could go back to my day. 

With time, we slowly started back up in the kitchen with food routines. At first, it was survival mode with a new skillet and the simplest meals. In time, we started buying again many of the useful items we lost such as a new waffle maker, yogurt maker, slow cooker and ice cream maker. This year, while away from this blog, we had some food allergies go away such as watermelon, cucumber and peas (a questionable one).  I had intended to keep up with our food world on the blog, but I never returned to visit with so much going on. Today is a good day to sit and reflect.  It seems appropriate that a brisket from Law Ranch is in the oven as I write; a favorite family meal to celebrate the year and Abuela's visit from Chile.  The brisket cooks in the same Le Creuset dutch oven I had professionally cleaned at the store many weeks after the flood. The stench of it, along with everything else, was revolting. I wasn't able to rescue everything, but I was able to keep the dutch oven. 

Today is Memorial Day, 2016.  I post again again for the first time one year after walking out of our house in the middle of the night holding our boys tight above waist-high water. Today I am taking a moment to write about what happened.  Memorial Day, 2015: the time we were displaced by a flood along with so many other families in our neighborhood. 

I am asking myself how I want to pick up from here. How do I pick up where I left?  Last year, I was feeling the urge to modernize this blog and make it something cleaner and fresher.  That said, as I pause and sit down right now, I think I will move forward and continue the blog as it is. The opposite of the perfect isn't the good.  I'll do this so that I can continue, even with a gap in time, a visual memory of what we eat and how we prepare it.  I can go back and post some of the food highlights from the past year.  The posts have always served as a way to find joy in our everyday food, no matter the limitations, and archive recipes.  They also weave together glimpses of our life over time through the lens of food that I want to remember and share back with my children.

knocked-over fridge 

hauling stuff away

drying bay leaf soon to drown
kitchen mess

while working on clearing out house, someone drove by
and saw me sitting and crying on the driveway.  Before I knew it,
he was back with lunch free of all top allergens from Fadi's.

The best present

one of the many rainbows to appear


Sunday, May 10, 2015

Scrumptious Saturdays: April

delightful tomatoes 

strawberry joy

munching on daikon

weekly menu planning

Baby Brother enjoying what we brought home

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Kinder Cafeteria Lunch Visit

Big Brother was so happy to have lunch with Baby Brother and me today in the cafeteria.  He planned our lunch, making sure that we could all eat safely together. Here was our menu: brown rice and quinoa spaghetti (Trader Joe's-our favorite safe pasta), meat sauce, dilly and lemony cucumber slice salad and juicy pears (Trader Joe's in glass jar). I often make bolognese sauce in my Thermomix, it is so quick and easy.  It's also easy to throw in extra veg and to stretch into several meals. This bolognese had lots of spinach that needed to be used up. I warmed up the spaghetti and meat sauce right before going so that it would be warm and yummy.  The best part was packing up everything and delivering it in a picnic basket; It made a nice visit even more special. 

On an allergic mom note: oh boy, is the cafeteria a scary place for Baby Brother. Allergens everywhere! We were tucked away at our own table where we were comfortably safe from it all. 

Baby Brother has his own green food containers
no sharing ensures no cross-contamination

Big Brother's lunch container

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Carrot Molasses Cookies

Who doesn't love breakfast cookies? I sometimes make these on Sunday afternoon for tea time when I have a little bit of homemade coconut milk that needs to be used up. Then I have a batch of cookies for breakfast the following day. If you prefer to use sprouted oats, you can order them here. These cookies use all of our family favorite pantry items and exclude all top allergens. 

What you need:
2 cups oat flour
2 cups rolled oats
1-2  cups shredded carrots  (1 giant carrot or 2 medium carrots)
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon salt 
1/2 cup homemade coconut milk
1/2 cup unsulphured blackstrap molasses 
Handful of raisins or chopped unsulphered dried apricots
Handful of shredded unsulphured coconut 

What to do:

Set oven to 350 degrees

Prepare baking sheet with baking paper

Grind oats to oat flour in TM, 30 seconds, speed 9.  Set aside.

Chop carrots in TM bowl

Add back in the oat flour to TM bowl as well as the rest of the ingredients

Mix on reverse blade, speed 3 for about 15 seconds

Form into balls, flatten slightly, and bake for 15 min at 350 degrees

Friday, April 17, 2015

New Food Introduction: Strawberries

Perfect steel cut oats topped with
 local strawberries from Gundermann Acres
Love the delay button on our Vitaclay crockpot

Strawberries! This particular fruit topped my worry list.  Those histamine rich foods, such as citrus, tomatoes and strawberries, oh boy!  Would Baby Brother tolerate them, would his gut approve?  When strawberries arrived at the market recently, I just went for it.  Baby Brother loves blueberries, and even cranberries.  He needed a new berry to enjoy.  And the more fresh, local food we can eat in season, the better my spirit.

I just happened to read this about sulfites and histamines in relation to drinking red wine.  Click here if you are interested. 

Back to talking about enjoying strawberries:

berry breakfast bowl: Freedom rice flake cereal, sprouted sunflower seeds,
sprouted pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, sesame seeds, dried mulberries,
fresh strawberries, coconut flakes
all drenched in homemade hemp/date milk

 homemade strawberry mint ice cream: coconut milk, strawberries, mint,
maple syrup,  local raw honey pinch of real salt

Monday, April 6, 2015

Scrumptious Saturdays: March

our family favorite Chilean salad: apio palta is back!
Baby Brother given go ahead to reintroduce avocado

farinata is always a  favorite with avocado, anchovies and salads from
Saturday farmer market.  see the little piece of avocado for
Baby Brother?  so exciting!

our version of avocado toast

grass-fed steak and salad for  Saturday afternoon leisurely lunch
avocado is back on the menu
Baby Brother and I shared this plate

Baby Brother loving watermelon radish
who knew?!

strawberry introduction this month with their arrival at market

capturing local delights: olive oil