Of late

lemon cake

I finally started watching the West Wing, and every time Bradley Whitford comes on screen I immediately remember his license plates from that long ago 80s movie and have to suppress the urge to whisper “so cool” at the television.

I’m also watching Newsroom. Our house is bursting at the seams with Sorkin-speak and idealism!

she's all disco hat and long legs

before

after

The Southeast got a kiss from father winter, and we took advantage of our snow the few days it lasted.

tracking tracks

snow

My girl is getting tall. At this rate she’ll tower over me by the time she’s 12.

I’ve taken the occasional break from Sorkin to chip away at a very long movie queue: Take Shelter, What Maisie Knew, The Place Beyond the Pines, Before Midnight, Robot & Frank, the Master, Mud, Beasts of the Southern Wild, and Solaris were worth the wait.

(I am loathe to admit I finally watched the Hangover. NOT WORTH THE WAIT.)

I started planning – and planting! – my gardens. Dahlias, greens, alliums, brassicas, dahlias, radishes, carrots, and more dahlias are going into various pots/my cold frame/the ground this weekend.

winter gnome

I joined the cult of Instagram.

I’ve been up to my elbows in Meyer lemons, making this cake every chance I get.

cake be gone

Lemon olive oil cake

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I wanted to call this Sunken Meyer Lemon Olive Oil Cake with Almond and Yogurt, but it seemed a bit wordy. All of these components come together to make a cake that’s dense and airy at the same time, with a tender crumb and a crunchy rind where the sugar in the batter caramelizes against the edge of the pan. This cake will slowly rise, rise, rise for the first half hour or so, until – poof! – it collapses onto itself. Fear not! It’s supposed to collapse. If you have a springform pan, it will make plating the cake a little bit easier. If you use a regular cake pan, no biggie; just use two plates. Place plate #1 on top of the cake pan, give it a quick flip, and then carefully invert it onto plate #2. If you don’t have lemons on hand, Meyer or otherwise, other citrus will do. I’ve made this cake with grapefruit, blood orange, and even clementines with success. Lastly, and most important – I’ll have a gluten free version of this to share in the coming weeks, and cupcakes, too.

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3/4 cup white spelt flour
1/2 cup whole spelt flour
1/2 cup almond meal
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 cup plain coconut yogurt
1/4 cup olive oil
zest and juice of 1 Meyer lemon

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 F / 180 C. Oil and flour an 8-inch round cake pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, almond meal, sugar, baking soda and powder, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, olive oil, lemon zest and juice. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, being careful not to overmix. Pour the cake batter into the floured pan and smooth out the top. Place in the center of the oven and bake for about 50 minutes, until the cake forms a golden crust on top, feels springy to the touch, and the edges have pulled away from the pan. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack while still in its pan for ten minutes before transferring to a plate. Allow the cake to cool completely before slicing. It tastes even better on the second day, if you manage to save a slice that long.

Prep time: 10 minutes | Oven time: 50 minutes

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Not a zombie apocalypse

Snow days are a rare occurrence in the Southeast. Sleet, ice, black ice, freezing rain, or about thirty seconds’ worth of snow that turns immediately into sleet, ice, or freezing rain (aka ‘wintry mix’) – pretty standard fare ’round here.

12504056255_ca75c1e4aa_bContrary to popular belief, writing in one’s book is not always a sign of boredom of hoodlumdom // no one is safe from the veganizer/deglutenizer, including Ms. Swanson

A bona fide snowfall that comes down so fast and heavy that my footprints from walking out to the pond are completely filled in by the time I make one loop and head back to the house? Until yesterday, I would have put my money on a zombie apocalypse happening first.

12504534764_86dec42a45_bNot zombie food

The possibility of losing power last night loomed large (and may very well happen tonight), so we took the usual precautions: charged all of our phones and various devices; filled up the cars with petrol; cooked giants pots of rice and beans and squash sauce; stocked up on bottled water, bread, chips and wine; and made a few favorite family treats, including these muffins.

For the record, I think all of these things would also come in handy for a zombie apocalypse.

12504056415_6959ac0800_bNary a blue streak // take the time to coat your berries in flour and you will not be disappointed

Blueberry millet muffins

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If you’ve never tasted millet before, it has a mild, sweet flavor not unlike cornmeal. I often grind it into flour for baking, but I really like the way the teensy seeds pop between my teeth when left whole. I used frozen wild blueberries in these muffins, but I imagine just about any berry would do. These are both gluten and gum free; I use whole flax seeds to bind and leaven. Maple syrup is my sweetener of choice, lending these a rich honeyed flavor.

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4 teaspoons whole flax seeds + 1/2 cup water
1 cup superfine brown rice flour (single-milled brown rice flour will also work)
3/4 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons potato starch
1/3 cup raw millet
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 cup plain coconut or soy yogurt
1/2 cup olive or sunflower oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
grated zest and juice from one lemon
1/2 cup blueberries (if using frozen, do not thaw)
1 tablespoon sorghum or brown rice flour to coat berries

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400 F / 205 C. Line or lightly oil a 12-cup muffin tin.

First, prepare your flax eggs. Stovetop: Combine the flax seeds and water in a small saucepan and bring to a low simmer for five minutes. The water may or may not begin to thicken; this is okay. Remove the saucepan from heat and proceed with the rest of the recipe. Microwave: In a large heatproof bowl, combine 1/2 cup boiling water with the flax seeds; microwave on high for 40 seconds; set aside and proceed with the rest of the recipe.

In a small bowl, toss the berries in 1 tablespoon of flour; set aside.

Whisk together the flours, starches, millet, baking soda and powder, and salt. In another  bowl, whisk together the yogurt, oil, syrup, lemon zest and juice, and flax-water mixture. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until just incorporated. Carefully fold in the berries and any excess flour. Divide the mixture evenly between the 12 muffin cups; they should be filled 2/3-3/4 from the top.

Bake for 20 minutes, turning halfway to ensure even browning. The muffins are ready when they smell nutty and the tops are just starting to crack. Take the tins out of the oven and twist each muffin out of its cup, turning it on its side in the cup to cool.

These taste best if eaten the same day they are made, but will hold up well for up to two days stored in an airtight container.

Prep time: 15 minutes | Oven time: 20 minutes

Not chicken soup

Nina has mostly bounced back from her back-to-school cold, but I had a wicked 24-hour stomach virus earlier this week.

In lieu of the proverbial (vegan) chicken soup, this is what I feed myself and family when we’re on the mend.

GetHealthyStirfryThe world’s ugliest stir fry (serves two!): 1 small head of cabbage, 8 giant mushrooms, 1/2 block of tempeh, 2 handfuls cherry tomatoes, 1 handful cilantro, 4 cloves garlic, 1/2-inch piece of ginger, 1/2 cup cooked long grain rice, turmeric, tamari, toasted sesame oil, pinch of sugar, and as much chili paste as you can handle.
PickleMadnessAlways with the pickles: lacto-fermented pickles (with ginger+garlic, and straight up garlic+dill), vinegar Szechuan peppercorn pickles, spicy-sweet mustard relish (mashed w. chickpeas), vinegar-pickled sweet peppers and shallots
homemade crispy tacosHa ha! I wish. Crispy skillet tacos, I miss you.
CitrusSmoothie.pre CitrusSmoothei.postgreen citrus smoothies

Spinach citrus smoothie

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I prefer frozen spinach over fresh for quick, smooth blending. Whether it’s from my co-op’s freezer section or spinach that I chopped and froze myself, I always have a bag at the ready.  I make these almost every morning during the winter for my family to have with breakfast, and whenever one of us is under the weather.

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1 large orange
1/2 grapefruit
1/2 lemon
1 handful frozen spinach
1 handful crushed ice
1-2 teaspoons agave or maple syrup to sweeten, if needed

Peel, seed and segment your citrus. Blend everything until smooth and frothy. Sweeten to taste. Drink up.

Yield: 2-3 Cups

Prep time: 5 minutes | Blend time: 1 minute