To all of you out there who have come over to my house in the past few weeks, this pistachio milk is from that book.
You know, the one I read out-load to you as we made dinner together.
The one with the skin care recipes made from honey and berries and herbs.
The one with that lavender sea salt spray that makes my hair look delightfully tousled and beachy (yes, the recipe I let you snap a pic of on your phone).
The one with rhubarb fennel ice cream, sage-infused fresh corn polenta and kabocha coconut fritters with pomegranate mint raita.
The one with a devout dedication to the illuminating, spirit-enlivening qualities of herbs and edible flowers.
The unfussy one.
You know, the one with tofu and burrata.
The one I’ve told you made me laugh, and cry, and love myself better.
As soon as I received an early review copy of this book from Lily, I snapped it open and devoured every page. I put every other book on the back burner because I had suddenly become enraptured by Lily’s writing. And I witnessed in gleeful astonishment as her stories and brilliant recipes nourished every cell in my body.
I am not one to lavish attention on cookbooks. I rarely even use them, unless they contain some inspiring glimmers that make my heart sing (or whistle, at least). I generally only touch them when I’m a. having creative block, or b. need a specific technique. Lately I’ve simply skimmed through my favorite tomes to get ideas for flavor combinations. That’s about it.
I know a few food bloggers (and chefs) that are all about reading recipe books as their pleasure books. But I don’t do that. If I’m going to read about food, I want a story and a well-written one at that. But not many food folks come from a story-telling background. So there are few books that tickle that particular fancy of mine.
The thing about Kale & Caramel that I absolutely adore is that it is half memoir, half cookbook. Each recipe is prefaced by a bit of prose that reveals the stories behind what makes Lily’s heart tick. There are stories about grief, love, sex, joy, growing up on Maui, friendship and moon bathing naked under the night sky. Stories about emotional recovery after her mothers death, transitioning in and out of relationships, dancing butt-naked in the first apartment she ever rented alone.
Lily broke open her chest and poured out the honey of her being into this book. And you can taste her vulnerable, strong, compassionate wildness on every page.
The byline for the book is “recipes for body, heart and table.” And I think that really sums up what this book has done for me. It is soul food in the form of sensual delights for my mouth and my skin and my hair. But it is also soul food for my brain, helping me to relax into myself.
I have gushed about this book to everyone who would listen (including Lily herself). I even keep it on my living room side table so that I can refresh my brain with one of her sensuous stories when life feels heavy.
I got to meet Lily at a retreat this past Winter, and she is exactly the same in real life as she is on the page. Fully embodying femininity. Living life to the fullest. Soaking in the deep, juicy sensuality of life. Never denying that life is painful and requires grief by design. When I hugged her for the first time (after being internet friends for SO LONG) the feels were real. It was like hugging an old friend I had lost through the passages of time. Or meeting an older sister from a past life. Am I being over dramatic? The point is: I loved her immediately.
She gives big hugs and big smiles. When she loves you she is fiercely present, holding space for you to share deeply (while pouring you another glass of wine). You can’t help but be swept up in her big curly mane of jasmine-scented red hair — imagining the lushly aromatic world of Maui where she grew up.
That is all present in this book.
If you are a hippie-at-heart like me, buy this book. If you feel life deeply, buy this book. If you love luscious skin care recipes made from real food, buy this book. If you adore decadent plant-centric food that is easy to prepare, buy this book. If you just really need a friend who gets how life can both be total shit and totally magnificent, buy this book.
This orange blossom pistachio milk is one of the many recipes I was immediately attracted to in Kale & Caramel. One, because pistachios. Two, because orange blossom! Three because, green milk!!! Four because, there’s hella cardamom up in there. Also, it’s extremely simple to make and the deliciousness pay-out is 110%.
There are 12 chapters in Kale & Caramel and each is dedicated to a different herb or edible blossom: basil, cilantro, fennel, mint, oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme, lavender, jasmine, rose and orange blossom.
I am attracted to all of them, and love them all equally. But orange blossom is a particularly new-to-me flavor in food. I can’t resist an opportunity to lavish in new foods!
This pistachio milk is creamy and incredibly frothy, sweetened with honey and spiced with vanilla and cardamom and orange blossom. It’s delicate, almost lacy in its feminine softness. But no, it’s not precious. It wakes you up and then kicks you right into a reverie. A reminder that yes indeed, life is still worth living. If only for flowers on your tongue and pistachios in your milk.
Note: Orange blossom water is rather elusive in American markets! Many specialty grocers carry orange blossom water these days (mostly Cortas brand, which you can also buy on Amazon). Lily suggests Starwest Botanicals brand — they carry a food-grade orange blossom water that you can get online. If you can’t find it anywhere, and you need to make this pistachio milk ASAP you can use orange-blossom honey, which is pretty widely available. Use the orange blossom infused honey instead of regular honey, and omit the orange blossom water.