Raw Chocolate Walnut Pulp Mousse Cake (Vegan, Gluten Free)

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A child offering his seat on the swing set to a new friend. A musician sticking around after her show to share kind words with each fan. A gardener plucking weeds from around her tomato plants in the sun. Too often grace goes unnoticed in this world. Grace imparts our existence with that quality of otherness, beyond-ness. It imbues virtuosity, endurance, sacredness. It gives the dancer his fire, the poet her living breath. It is of itself a sort of spirit which descends seemingly randomly upon our moments, mundane or otherwise. And it is easily missed, like a seed floating on the wind.

I think of grace as gasoline. It fuels our continued resolution to remain in love and at peace with our lives. Despite the crushing, encroaching weight of the world, we refuse to be mashed into ash. We tie up our boots and walk out into the mountains with a heat wave of hope built up inside us. Delight in the blooming laurels and making eye contact with a doe drinking from the stream. Feel cold wind knocking our hair around and sting our faces at an open overlook. Eat a cheese and tomato sandwich, feel the warm sun on our legs, and breath and let it be.

One of my new favorite quotes is by Jack Gilbert, who said: “We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure, but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world.”

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Wicked Easy Blender Coconut Butter (Vegan)

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I’m thankful for Sundays. For a long day spent exactly as I please: making raw treats and experimenting in the kitchen with my friends. I love learning about food from friends and family. It’s a great joy in my life, getting to converse on the flavors and foods that we love. Not to be overdramatic, but food gives me hope that peace is possible — when we share in our visceral love for food, our common experiences of comfort and cravings, our stories of mamma in the kitchen stirring a pot of soup. It gives me hope that dialogue and connection is possible despite the innumerable cultural and religious differences to which we all hold.

When all else fails in our attempts to know each other we can stand together over a terrine of bubbling stew, spoons in hand, and share something unique to that moment. Coriander, fennel seed, a rich broth. Dipping ripped bits of bread directly into the pot. Nodding together over more salt and is that cinnamon? 

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Cinnamon Cayenne Citrus Salad w/ Cacao Nibs

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If any fruit was comparable to fireworks, citrus would be it. They brighten up the night sky that is our Winters. The flavors wow. Sliced into rounds and layered they’re like softly pink and orange stars bursting. I may have stared at this citrus salad for a VERY long time before eating it. It’s just so dang pretty. What with the ice on my front stoop willing me to break my neck every time I step outside, the citrus sunshine had me swooning hard.

I swooned so hard, in fact, that I made my friend Lauren and myself kombucha floats with coconut milk ice cream. Which made absolutely no sense as our toes were frozen after a snow photo venture together out in the country. But I’ve been dreaming of warmer days ahead. So citrus salads and ice cream floats it is.

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Lavender Neapolitan Mini Cakes (Grain Free, Dairy Free)

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Worn, fabric covered copies of out-of-print cookbooks stand, leaning against each other, on the kitchen counter in my mothers home. There’s a tatty Joy of Cooking — the pages all marked up and the binding loose, strings hanging off the spine. There are diet books with shiny covers in blue and red, looking out of place. Like the new kids on the bus. There’s a series of international cookbooks from the 80’s with faded photographs of street food scenes. And one soft blue book with few markings, bound in linen, with a small herbs de provence embossed into the cover. The edges are slightly worn down from being handled over decades. The cover has oil and water stains, signs of affection. That blue linen book is always out in the stack no matter where my mum and dad have lived over the years.

I grew up thumbing through the pages, looking at the pictures of Provence and reading the recipes. I remember I would take it and go sit in a spot of sun somewhere and devour it. It’s funny, I don’t remember my mother cooking out of it (that I’m aware of). It was more of an inspiration book. You know the kind. You keep it around to give you ideas and reference points for recipes you have half-formed in your head.

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