I hope you guys have been enjoying something resembling summer! It feels like it only really got here in British Columbia a few days ago. Eeek! The whole month of June was rainy and miserable and most of July wasn't a great deal better. ;-(
I was given an opportunity to look after my friends, Camille and George's, lovely home for 3 weeks; a rustic haven by the river with a veggie garden and several fruit trees.
It was my first time being 'on my own' in what must be at least 3 or 4 years (the boyz were staying with other friends.) It felt strange and also nice to be able to attune myself to my own internal rhythm. As it turns out I ended up not doing much at all, still enveloped in the after-trip daze. I spent the days chilling out; doing the Tibetan Rites, meditating, luxuriating in the (very!) occasional sun, walking and reading.
Actually I wasn't completely alone as I had brought Miss Puss with me. She liked to hang outside on the deck, hidden among the plant pots.
I hopped on one of their bikes a few times over the weeks in order to go play in the community garden, located just a couple of miles away. It was such a sweet ride along the Slocan river, which has been the highest in years, what with the insane amount of rain we've been getting in recent months.
I got to become buddies with the resident cows in a nearby field.
One of my favorite views on the way back.
A still snow covered mountain top in the distance.
Not Home Alone
While most days it was just the two of us gals, we did get the occasional wildlife visitor. The most notorious was a small brown bear who took a keen interest in a great big old cherry tree. Oh the feast that he had, I tell ya!
He's a real cutie, isn't he?
I even captured Mr. Bear on video!
Donnie and Kylo paid me a short visit at some point. While Don was doing the dishes after dinner he yelled at me to look out the window, as a young moose was leisurely strolling across the yard. I barely had time to grab my camera and get a couple of shots.
In Camille's Sunny Kitchen
Without my precious kitchen assistant and someone to share food with, I found myself simplifying my diet quite a bit. I mean, it's a lot of trouble to whip up fancy dishes when it's just for one. It certainly made me appreciate what it must be like when your partner isn't on the raw wagon with you! Since Camille doesn't have a juicer, instead of my usual morning carrot apple beet drink I started my day off by gathering fresh fruit for breakfast; strawberries (THE most succulent I have ever tasted!) and later blueberries and raspberries. To my delight, the cherries also ripened around mid-July, so I got to pick and eat them to my heart's content. Unfortunately with all the rain, they started to split quickly which is such a shame.
Look at those dark red jewels!
Unlike Don, who could eat chia pudding every single day, I find it so filling that I don't really feel like drinking my usual smoothie. Having said that, I did whip up one on a couple of occasions.
Chia Pudding with Berries
Yields one serving
1 tbs chia seeds
About 1 cup almond milk
Sweetener of choice (I prefer honey or maple syrup), to taste
1 tbs raisins
1 tsp liquid vanilla or vanilla extract
With a fork, spoon or whisk, mix chia seeds with a small amount of almond milk in a bowl - about 1/4 cup. I find that putting the entire amount of liquid at once tends to create lumps. Allow to sit for 5 mins or so.
Incorporate the rest of the milk, being careful to completely dissolve the little chia clumps. Fold in raisins.
Allow to sit for at least another 15 minutes or overnight in the fridge.
Just before serving, mix in your sweetener of choice, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg, then top with fresh berries and slivered almonds.
For lunch I enjoyed a smoothie made with fresh greens picked from the garden. Dinner was usually just soup and a no-brainer main course such as zucchini pasta, kelp noodles or quinoa with marinated veggies, or good ol' crackers with a spread or avocado and tomato.
Oh-oh! Guess I'm a Big Girl Now!
I changed decade and turned 40 towards the beginning of my stay. I didn't really celebrate per se, being on my own and all, but I did spend this special day munching on yummy simple raw foods and happily bathing in the sun, which had thankfully joined me. The best birthday gift ever in my book! ;-)
A few days later I went to spend the afternoon with Don and our friends, John & Livina, in order to mark the occasion in earnest. We enjoyed Chive Rangoons from Natalia's beautiful Pure Pleasures ebook with a salad, and a quinoa and marinated veggie dish Livina had prepared. The Rangoons were very very yummy! Livina just raved about them! The wrappers' main ingredients were dried coconut, zucchini and flax seeds, and were first dehydrated, then filled with a Chive Cream made of cashews (I used macs instead). They were served with a Ginger Dipping Sauce.
I was envisioning making a Strawberry Shortcake for dessert in light of the wonderful strawberries I picked daily from Camille's garden, but Livina had something quite different in mind. She'd recently returned from the city with a durian and was drooling at the idea of my Durian Chocolate Mousse Cake. Since I had already made a large batch of Whipped Cream, I opted for something somewhere in between... A Durian Cream Cake topped with strawberries.
The Whipped Cream was different than the one I usually make and I loved loved it! It was based on a recipe by Elaine Love that uses Irish moss paste. The Durian Layer was also with moss, so the finished result was very light and creamy. I was quite pleased with the cake, although I must admit that I've started to grow out of my durian phase.
Durian Cream Cake
2 cups dry coconut
1/2 cup dates
1 tsp liquid vanilla or vanilla extract
Process the ingredients in a food processor until crumbly. The mixture should stick when pressed together between your fingers. If it's too dry, add a little water or agave if it isn’t quite sweet enough (1 teaspoon or so at a time.)
Press into the bottom of an 8-inch springform pan.
1 1/2 cups durian flesh
1/4 cup Irish moss paste*
1/4 cup agave nectar (or more, depending on how sweet your durian is)
3/4 cup water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup + 2 tbs melted coconut oil
1 tbs lecithin powder
Blend first set of ingredients until smooth in high-speed blender.
Add coconut oil and lecithin and blend again, just to incorporate.
Pour mixture onto the crust.
To make Irish Moss Paste:
Blend 1.5 oz (or ½ cup packed) soaked Irish moss with 1 cup water in a high-speed blender until completely dissolved.
Adapted from a recipe by Elaine Love
1/4 cup soaked Irish moss (measure after soaking in cold water for 3+ hours)
1 cup water
1. Blend moss and water until smooth
1 cup + 2 tbs water
1/2 cup raw agave nectar or raw honey
3/4 cup coconut oil
3 Tbs. soy lecithin powder (non GMO)
1/2 cup young coconut meat
1/2 cup cashews
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbs liquid vanilla or vanilla extract
1. Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth.
2. Let set up in the refrigerator overnight if possible.
3. Spread a nice thick layer on top of the Durian Layer. You'll need only about half of the Whipped Cream, but I'm sure you'll find a way to use the rest, it's soooo yummy! It's totally decadent served with fresh fruit.
Elaina's Note: This whipped topping will last for 1 week refrigerated. May be frozen after the first day of setting up in refrigerator but for best results, do not try to freeze while it is setting up.
Don had made a batch of Berry Ice Cream which complemented the cake beautifully.
And on this sweet note, I shall leave you and make the most of Mister Sun, who has been gratifying us with his presence for the last 5 days in a row; a record thus far!
Sending some sunshine your way!