Nourishing Flourishing

Katie Keller

Almond Flour on Sale!

8 Oct

Hey there!

So many readers have asked me where I buy my blanched almond flour, as it can be wildly pricey in stores. (Although, how nice that grocery stores at least stock it now, on the bright side!) Good news — there’s a sale. And I wanted to make sure you didn’t miss it.

I have mentioned before that I justify the cost of almond flour by comparing one pound of blanched almond flour to one jar of almond butter from the store — they are very comparable, and a pound of almond flour will last me longer. I have also mentioned that I make it more affordable by

1) buying it in bulk (think 25 pounds at a time!) and

2)buying it on sale.

I will never purchase any brand but Honeyville, as you just cannot get it cheaper, and the quality is so high. They aren’t lining my pockets with the Benjamins to say this either – this is entirely unsolicited. I just want those of you who are also on a budget to reap the rewards of their occasional sales! You can buy a ton and freeze it for months and months. So stock up, get to it, and make some pumpkin donut holes or other almond flour recipes to celebrate October. : )

Use Coupon Code: 1492 at Honeyville’s online store. Shipping is always only $4.49 (!!!), and the more you purchase, the lower the price is lowered per/lb. (Note that the coupon’s “1492″/association with Columbus Day is definitely not an endorsement, on my part, for celebrating Columbus Day…)

Be sure to buy BLANCHED almond flour if you plan to make any of my recipes — the “natural” kind still has the skins on, and it results in less satisfactory, crumbly results.

xo.

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Toiletries and Beauty Products That Aren’t Too Sketchy

4 Sep

Hello! I’m back after a travel-packed summer. I’m starting to lose track of all the places we’ve been. We hit the road in May and have been adventuring since! We’ve been nourishing our flourishing with all the good things in life — friends, food, travel, nature, learning, fun… Forgive my lack of posts.

Anyway, I’m back in Boulder and settling down, so I wanted to pop in to talk briefly about some of the healthier “personal care” products I love (sorry if that sounds like I’m talking about tampons), because it is, interestingly enough, one of the most frequently asked questions I get. Because I’ve tried to keep it simple, natural, sustainable, and healthy (see, for instance when I first went (sham)’poo-free, details on how I did it, and then a few months later regretted it), I often shy away from these sorts of posts… in part because I’m not very exciting and try to be low-maintenance, and additionally, because I don’t like encouraging (overzealous) consumerism. However, I obviously recognize that we do need to buy things sometimes — it’s a fact of life!

That said, when I do make purchases, I strive to do them as responsibly as I am able, while being realistic about the affordability component. Thankfully, there are more and more products emerging that I am happy to support with my wallet. So here are some of the items I like, and actually use. A few have been sent as samples, and in that case I have labeled it as such. I have noted if I plan to buy or have already purchased the product again as a result

If you want to explore safer cosmetics, toiletries, and other personal care products, start at SkinDeep! It is easy to use and wonderfully helpful. You can search your products to see how healthy they are for you and the world.

1. Dr. Bronner’s Soaps

This product is so simple, and so versatile. It can be used as shampoo (though I don’t find it ideal for that long-term), body wash, just about anything. I always dilute mine with half water to stretch it out. If you are going on a camping trip, I highly, highly recommend Dr. Bronner’s soaps — you can use it for your body (even as toothpaste, no joke), your dishes, your clothes, etc. Dr. Bronner’s is quite an ethical company in general (in my opinion), in regards to safe and sustainable ingredients and practices, so I definitely recommend these, especially for children, whose tender little skin you probably don’t want to expose to many weird chemicals.

Pros: versatile; simple and organic ingredients; fair trade; eco-friendly; safe; multi-use (they claim 18 uses); inexpensive (especially when diluted)

Cons: not something I would use for shampoo or face wash on a regular basis; does not have much of an after-scent, which some people find disappointing; kind of weird, proselytizing label…?

Where to buy it: Pretty much anywhere, I pay $12 for a 32 oz. bottle at Whole Foods. Many WFs now have “bulk” dispensers where you can fill or refill bottles of varying sizes if you’d like to try a small amount. Target and grocery stores carry them, too.

N.B.: I strongly recommend diluting it, one part water to one part soap. It will give you double the bang for your buck, and last a very, very long time. I like the Peppermint best.

2. Mineral Fusion Makeup

Mineral Fusion contacted me last fall (!) about sampling some of their line. This was great timing, because I’ve been transitioning to mineral and natural makeup over the last few years. I first replied to ask whether they had signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics, which has since faded out. I received a very helpful, transparent response that they were in the process of becoming a signer. They also described the ingredients and manufacturing, and this openness bolstered my confidence in the integrity of the company and its products.

Here are the items I was sent:

Beautiful Basics Kit  – Graphite Mascara, Polished Lip Gloss, and Creation Blush.

The Beautiful Basics Kit looks like I’ve hardly used it, despite using it almost daily, with the mascara alone getting a little low (nothing a few drops of saline won’t fix!). I absolutely love this makeup. I don’t wear much blush, but when I do, I like that I need to use so little on the brush to show results. Apparently this is a wonder of mineral makeup — a little goes a long way.

I tend to use mascara and eyeliner most days (I use this one, and really like it), and not much else — maybe some concealer if I have trouble spots, and a swipe of light bronzer or blush if I have time and motivation. I will be buying the Graphite Mascara again and again in the future — I can’t believe 1) how long it has lasted (9 months now!), 2) how smoothly it glides on, and 3) how it stays put, and vivid. I have tried so many brands of mascara, but this has completely won me over as the best, surpassing Clinique, The Body Shop, and others.

Updated to add: I recently discovered the miracle of adding a few drops of saline solution to mascara that’s dried out a bit — wow. Stretch that product out another few months, friends! One of the best beauty tricks I’ve learned yet.

The Polished Lip Gloss is the best gloss I’ve ever used. It’s not too thick or sticky, it’s fairly enduring, and it didn’t make my lips totally dependent (i.e., drier than dry if I don’t use the gloss). I would absolutely buy it again. It has also lasted me over 9 months, and I have about a third of a tube left. That’s insane.

Pros: long-lasting (in two senses); safe; vibrant color that stays that way; great for sensitive/break-out-prone skin; contains minerals that block UVA and UVB rays; a dab’ll do ya; non-comedogenic and stays on top of skin, rather than being absorbed; Mineral Fusion supports good causes; no animal testing

Cons: more expensive than mainstream drugstore brands (but in my opinion worth it, as it last longer and you need less product for the same effect)

Where to buy: Whole Foods has been the primary place I have seen these products, but click here to search for a store near you.

3. Mineral Fusion Skin Care

Ultimate Moisture Facial Cleanser

After using this product (a sample) for 6-9 months, I ran out, and then bought my own for around $10. It is a rather large amount for the price, and it’s fairly mild — my skin is mostly clear, much more so than with any other cleanser I’ve used. Again, you don’t need much; I made the mistake of using huge dollops when I first got it, and it dried my skin a little – just a touch will go a long way. I was really impressed when my occasional breakouts were tamed by this.

Skin-Balancing Facial Moisturizer

I had never used, or wanted to use, moisturizer… until I tried this product. It made me a believer, and now I am kicking myself for not using moisturizer earlier in life. (I have smile wrinkles already, guys. For real.) I used to think moisturizer = oil = pimples. Nope. This made my skin firmer, more hydrated, and did not cause breakouts. I even used it on my neck, and the tiny little bumps smoothed out! I guess I never thought those were there because of dryness, but I learned my lesson. This is a mild moisturizer that I think would be great for sensitive skin.

Pros: very effective but light and mild; great for sensitive skin; non-comedogenic; safe; comparably priced to conventionally used beauty brands (e.g. Clinique, etc.); ethical company

Cons: The moisturizer works best for slightly oily, normal, or combination skin that isn’t super dry in some areas. I think in the winter I may amp up to a more potent moisturizer, since I live in an extremely dry climate (see: all the wildfires that tragically devastated the state this summer). I may just need to find a hydrating mask, though. (Suggestions?) For spring and summer, it is fabulous. I would buy it again.

Where to buy: Whole Foods has been the primary place I have seen these products, but click here to search for a store near you.

4. Alba Very Emolient Lotion

I tried many lotions before this one (e.g. The Body Shop, Whole Foods brand, straight-up coconut oil or cocoa butter, etc.) and they all sat on the surface of my skin, rather than absorbing into it. I am a little sketched out by a few of the ingredients lower on the list in this lotion, but will realistically compromise because every lotion seems to include them, and this one is balanced out by being an affordable price. I usually buy it from Whole Foods for ~$12 for a 32 oz. bottle. It lasts me about 3 months in the very dry Colorado climate (and I use it generously). You can also refill it in the bulk aisle at my Whole Foods!

The scent is unremarkable but fresh, so it won’t interfere with any perfumes you may wear.

Pros: fairly natural, all things considered (scores a 3 on the Skin Deep database, which isn’t that bad in my opinion); available at many stores; affordable; very hydrating

Cons: a handful of minor weird ingredients; takes a few minutes to absorb

Where to buy: Whole Foods, some grocery stores with naturally-oriented beauty aisles (e.g. Sprouts Farmer’s Market, etc.), Target.

5. Arm & Hammer Natural Deodorant

I have tried everything I can find to avoid aluminum, EDTA, and other harmful ingredients. Sadly, many were not effective. I’m still searching a bit. This deodorant works, and is also gentle on sensitive skin; my husband is actually very allergic to almost all deodorants — this being the one exception. Unfortunately, it does contain EDTA and triclosan, but I hope they will change this in the future, as it is otherwise a very simple and safe product. I’ll post soon about some other options as I try them out. This is a very good “transitional” product, however, if you’re just starting to move towards more natural-based items. It does the job, but with less of the unfavorable ingredients. A fair balance if you’re constrained by budget and wariness of entirely natural products!

Pros: excepting the EDTA, just a few safe ingredients; great for sensitive skin; nice fresh scent that (really) is gender-neutral and unobtrusive; a swipe’ll do ya; under $3 (we buy ours on sale for $1, and it lasts months and months); invisible; available just about anywhere

Cons: EDTA; Triclosan (read about what it is and why I’m not thrilled about it here); like all deodorants, might need to reapply after heavy sweating

5. Mineral Fusion Shampoo and Conditioner

I bought this after running out of my traditional Giovanni products, which I was sad to see had been labeled deceptively as organic at one point in the recent past. I reached for Mineral Fusion again at the store, since I had such a great experience with the makeup and face products they had sent for me to sample. I have found another staple for my shower! These work better than the Giovanni products, and they last quite a while. At $10 a bottle, I find the price to be reasonable for the quality, and I only wash my hair every 3 days or so, and therefore don’t need to buy product that often. I hope this post isn’t too Mineral Fusion-heavy, but I really am impressed with the brand — the products work better than conventional products and super-pricey organic products. My hair has never been this healthy. I hate to rave, but I love, love, love these shampoos and conditioners.

Pros: hair doesn’t need to be washed as often (seems to produce less oil than more-stripping conventional shampoos); doesn’t dry hair out; safe; ethical company; biodegradable; decent affordability

Cons: if you’re used to buying Suave, it might feel expensive the first time you buy a mineral-based product, but rest assured, it’s worth the extra few dollars in the long run : )

Where to buy: Whole Foods, or search for a store near you.

In conclusion…

I used to stress out about every last ingredient on products I used. I’m finding that I’m relaxing in most areas of my life, and have realized that nothing can be perfect. Thus,  I try to be informed, convicted, and also reasonable about what I am willing to use. There is indeed a balance, and I believe that I’m learning how to (more often than not) strike it. I am learning where to allow some wiggle room, and where to draw firm boundaries that I don’t feel comfortable crossing. This is an individual process, and we all have to weigh different issues and how important they are, respectively.

 

So here are some questions I ask myself:

1) Do I understand what the ingredients are and are doing?
2) How does it score on SkinDeep?
3) How often will I use it? (Higher frequency = higher priority of safety level.)
4) Is this perpetuating some kind of blatant injustice (animal cruelty, health concerns, exploitation of workers/testers, environmental concerns, etc.)?
5) If there are reservations, is there an alternative within a few dollars or so that I would feel better supporting?

These are just a few of the thoughts that run through my mind. And now you know that I overthink things, and why I am in an aisle for 30 minutes.

What about you? What are your routines, products, and methods of shopping?

What is most important to you, and what kinds of compromises do you make so that you don’t drive yourself crazy?

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GF, Vegan, Vegetarian, Grain-Free, Etc. — for Crowds of All Needs!

3 Jul

Guys!

I’m still here, just seriously neglecting blogging. I have some posts written, but most of them aren’t food-centric, seeing as I’ve been traveling across the U.S. (we’re in St. Paul, MN now!), without much time to cook. Also, I’m getting nearly all my meals free right now, so… goodbye, motivation. I find I don’t get as much feedback on non-recipe posts, though they do get just as many hits, so I’m conflicted about publishing them sometimes.

Anyway, just wanted to pop in to offer some ideas for the coming 4th of July celebrations! This was a popular post last year, so I updated it a little. Need vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, grain-free, and generally tasty dishes to serve? Whether you are signed up to bring an appetizer, snack, entree, dessert, or drink to the party, I hope this list can help!

Main Dish-ish:

Easy GF, Vegan Baked Beans (my personal favorite, and gets rave reviews from even the most skeptical)

Unfried Refried Beans (great for layered dips)

Sloppy Joe Lentil Posers

Savory Summer Squash Pancakes (like latkes, but healthier)

Booyah BBQ Socca Pizza

Balsamic Carmelized Onion and Cherry Tomato Tart

Effortless Portobello Burgers

Salads, Appetizers, Sides:

Herbed Chickpea (Garbanzo) Flour CRACK-ers

Simple and Savory Date Tapenade

Salsa Verde

Zucchini Fries (!)

Asparagus, Avocado, and Tomato Salad

5 Minute Massaged Kale Salad and Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Raw Zucchini Pasta Salad and Zesty Italian Dressing

Condiments and Dips:

Bring-The-Party-In-Your-BBQ-Sauce BBQ Sauce

Healthy, Homemade Honey Mustard Dressing

Easy Asian Peanut Salad Dressing and Dipping Sauce

Summer Grilling Marinade

Simple and Savory Date Tapenade (amazing with socca or crackers)

Salsa Verde

Sweets:

Chocolate Fudge Brownie Dessert Hummus, Peanut Butter Dessert Hummus, + Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dessert Hummus

Cinnamon (Un) Sugar Dessert Hummus

(serve all these dips with apple slices, crackers, etc.)

Double Dark Chocolate Doughballs

Dark Chocolate Chip Doughballs

Dark Chocolate Chip Pizookie

Sugar-Free Lime Mocktail

Vegan Mango Coconut Milk Ice Cream

“Put the Lime in the Coconut” Vegan Coconut Milk Ice Cream

 

What will you be serving up?

(Last year I brought the olive and date tapenade with socca cut into pieces for spreading it on, and it was gone in literally less than half an hour. It wouldn’t feel like a summer holiday without some vegan baked beans, though!)

xo.

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Sunday Morning (GF Almond Flour) Pancakes

18 Mar

Hello! It’s a beautiful day here in Boulder, Colorado — the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, the squirrels are peaking into our window, and… people are stumbling home wrapped in nothing but a blanket. It’s the day after St. Patrick’s, so you better believe our university town is pretty hungover this morning. Thankfully, I’m only nursing a reaction to all the Benadryl I had to take yesterday — Spring is lovely, but a bit of a transition, immunologically, for some of us!

I must say that Sunday is, now, without a doubt, my favorite day.  While they used to be a source of great anxiety, I feel like I’ve finally grown up a little, and now I look forward to Sundays with joy. At last I’ve realized that a necessary component of “success” in my endeavors, is to set boundaries for myself, and to commit to making time for rejuvenation. Because Sundays were such a stressful time for me in the past, I chose to implement them as a day devoid of all pressure; I do only what I want to do on Sundays, insofar as it is possible.

Today, I wanted to drink strong coffee (usually a once-a-week treat for me), make a special breakfast, and linger over it with my favorite person.

So that’s precisely what I did.

And I was so utterly delighted (and shocked!) with this recipe — which I’ve been playing with for months, and only today wrote down the measurements for — that I just had to share it with you. Forgive me if the photos aren’t the best — I was so eager to post the recipe that I shot this stack on my porch as soon as they were off the griddle! It is wonderfully simple, and my husband (who is a gluten-eater) devoured two batches… Two batches!

Gluten-Free Almond Flour Pancakes
These pancakes taste just like those of my childhood, but without all the dryness that would compel me to drown them in syrup. They are perfectly moist, tender, and just sweet enough to tantalize. Delicious even without maple syrup, they would work beautifully as a quick rolled-up PB and J. Top with succulent fruit, and savor spring’s arrival! Reawaken those mornings of your youth — but be sure to serve with a more adult side of strong coffee for maximum pleasure. (That sounded like a prophylactic commercial. Sorry.)

Ingredients:
~1 TB oil for pan
2 C. blanched almond flour  (make your own, or buy it here in bulk, like I do)
1/4 C. arrowroot powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t. salt
2 whole eggs + 2 egg whites
1/4 C. agave nectar (you can decrease this by 1 TB if you like)
1/2 C. unsweetened almond milk
dash of vanilla extract

Recipe:
1) Heat oil in a small cast iron skillet over medium.
2) Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.
3) Mix wet ingredients in a small bowl; whisk eggs thoroughly.
4) Add wet ingredients to dry. If you want to thin it out a tad more, add another small splash of milk.
5) In ~2-3 tablespoon size scoops, pour the batter into the skillet one pancake at a time. Using a fork, spread evenly to a thin layer.
6) Keep a close eye on the bottom of the cake — you will likely need to turn it down a notch over the course of cooking the pancakes, because almond flour burns easily. Once bubbles start opening on the top of the batter, very, very carefully (supporting the pancake completely with a spatula), flip the pancake. When browned on both sides, set aside on a plate. (It may take a couple tries to get the method down, but they’ll be delicious even if malformed.: )
7) Repeat until all the batter is gone.

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Top with pure maple syrup, and, if you like, fresh, organic strawberries. My husband liked a few of his slathered with a little natural peanut butter as well. They keep quite well in the refrigerator, just be sure to keep them well-covered.

Over breakfast, we chatted (amongst other things) about how reading fiction changes us (which was rooted in this interesting piece). This semester, I have achieved my goal of reading for fun again — not academic purposes — and it is a beautiful revival! I can’t seem to put my reading down at night, and I have even been walking home from classes and the gym with novel in hand (well, my novel on my Kindle in my hand, but you know what I mean). There’s so much to be learned about a good and flourishing life in works of imagination!

I’m now going to return to my novel, and pretend that I don’t have any midterms this week. Just for today. Ah, grad school — it’s one big delusion after another… I also hope to catch up on comments, which I seem to be perpetually behind on — alas. Know that I love reading them. I hope you can take some time today for a healthy and delicious treat (like pancakes!) and/or a good chapter of a novel. Nourish yourself!

What is your Sunday ritual?

Are you reading anything for fun?

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GF Vegan Almond Flour Bizcochitos (or Biscochitos!)

11 Mar

Some of you might be intrigued by the title of this post — what in the world is a biscochito (or, as my abuela spelled it, bizcochito)? If you come from a Hispanic family, you probably already know that bizcochitos are most easily described as anise sugar cookies with cinnamon. Historically, bizcochitos are thought to have been brought over to the Americas from Spain in the 17th century. They are thick enough to have a chewy center, and crisp around the edges for that satisfying crunch.

When I introduce them to those “uninitiated” in this cookie cult, I emphasize the anise component, because most people are unfamiliar with the ingredient and its strong, rich, but very unique flavor. In short, anise seeds taste like fennel, and might conjure associations with black licorice (but in my opinion, anise is more delicious than either). With that warning out in the open — I know not everyone is crazy about such tastes — , I also frame these cookies as my absolute favorite of all time.

And I mean it.

The reason is partly sentimental; these are the only cookies that absolutely were, will be, and must be made at Christmastime. In my family, they are ubiquitous at weddings, funerals, and nearly any holiday, as well. My grandmother used to cut them into a beautiful shape (I did a search but haven’t found anything to its likeness yet!), and the beauty of the cookies was enough to make one indifferent about all the lard they contained. Many joyful times in my life have been marked by their presence.  I could summarize by saying that they are special; they evoke family, comfort, celebration, and tradition for me. Bizcochitos signify both a specific and general culture in which I find much of my identity. (All this in a cookie!)

My dad perfected his own version, nixing the lard, as well as the complicated design. Each family that makes bizcochitos will probably tell you that the right way to make them is their way. Such is the nature of a bizcochito — we can’t even agree how to spell it! Nevertheless, permit me a few sentences to reminisce on my family’s methods, to give you a sense of what an art this is (and you will appreciate, I hope, the simplicity and liberty of my own adaptation all the more).

My father used to make as many as 200 cookies at a time to celebrate the onset of Advent. Or before visiting (our very, very, very numerous and wonderful) relatives.

When making bizcochitos in our home, the keys to remember were:

1) You cannot make bizcochitos in batches smaller than 12 dozen.
2) You must cream the ingredients with your hands — any other utensil involved  in the mixing is blasphemy, and everyone will know if you transgressed; the cookies will be flat. People will be sad. You will probably need to go to confession. Twice.
3) There is no such thing as too much cinnamon.
4) You will need — literally — an entire dinner table for the process of rolling the dough.
5) Use a timer, and you will avoid many tears.

Bizcochito baking is an all-day, seriously labor-intensive affair — early morning to dinner is spent in la cocina. It is a true act of love. My dad, being the thoughtful and dear man he is, would bring gallon-sized ziploc bags filled with biscochitos to mass on Sunday and hand them out to all the older Hispanic women in our church who grew up with them, but weren’t able to make them anymore. They would kiss him and cry out with total joy — these cookies have so much meaning for many of us!

This is what bizcochitos do: they make people happy, they make the world a better place.

Also, they are delicious.

Almond Flour Anise Bizcochitos (or Biscochitos!)

This was the only recipe I wanted to work on over my winter break, and thankfully I had the godfather of Bizcochito Baking taste-test and critique my labors to perfection. I wanted to share these with my “uninitiated” friends to get a sense of how well anise might be received by younger folks that hadn’t grown up on it. I am so delighted that anyone who tried it loved it! The best part, of course, is that nearly anyone can eat these — they are not only gluten-free, but grain-free, vegan, and — contrary to many other bizcochito recipes — easy! The recipe is much simpler and quicker than it first appears. I hope you and yours love them.

Ingredients
Cookies
2 ½ C. blanched almond flour (you can make your own, or buy it from here in bulk, like I do)
2 TB arrowroot powder
2 TB coconut flour
2 TB cinnamon
½ t. salt
½ t. baking soda
6 TB non-hydrogenated shortening
½ C honey or agave (honey is not vegan, of course)
2 TB pure anise extract
1 TB vanilla extract
2 TB anise seeds

Cinnamon Sugar Topping
¼ C sugar
2 TB + cinnamon

Recipe:
1) Preheat oven to 350*.
2) In a small, flat bowl, mix the cinnamon sugar. Set aside.
3) Mix all dry ingredients except the anise seeds together, and set aside.
4) In a small bowl, add wet ingredients and mix thoroughly with a fork until combined.
5) Add wet ingredients to dry, and either mix with a fork or cream together with your hands.
6) Add anise seeds, and mix gently but thoroughly.
7) Form dough into 1” balls, and flatten into circles with your hands. You may want to experiment with keeping the edges rugged, or smoothing them, and with size and thickness. (See note below.)
8 ) Arrange the shaped dough balls on a parchment lined baking sheet, and place in the oven. Keep a close watch on them, and when the bottoms and edges begin to brown (around 8 minutes or so), remove. Let sit for one minute.
9) Now the tricky part: Working carefully and quickly (it might take a couple tries), remove one cookie at a time from the sheet, and press the top of each into the bowl of cinnamon sugar. Set aside and repeat until all cookies are topped. (The cookies must be quite warm to get the sugar to stick, so please be very careful not to burn yourself!)
10) Rejoice.

Note: I find I enjoy them just as much without taking the time to make them look like the rolled-out, perfectly round, glutenous bizcochitos of my youth, but please feel free to take a little extra time and give yours a more refined edge, or experiment with shape and thickness!

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As I mentioned, every community or family will have its own cult(ure) of the bizcochito. While my version is a tad different than my grandma’s or dad’s, it is a recipe I look forward to passing on in my own family someday — a recipe with a legacy, evolved ever so gently for each generation.

I hope all is well with you, dear readers.

What are your sentimental foods?
Have you tried anise (or even a bizcochito) before?

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One Year Later.

12 Feb

To say, “It’s been a while!” would be kind of an understatement, eh? I have literally hundreds of comments and emails I am behind on responding to, and my blog in general needs a great deal of spring cleaning! Firstly, I sincerely hope that my absence was not interpreted to be a dismissal of your readership; I can’t tell you how much I appreciate all the kind emails and messages I received during my blogging break. I am so grateful to be connected (albeit it in a virtual format for now) with so many wonderful people (that’s you). I had hoped to be posting on a semi-regular basis during grad school, but ultimately, I just needed to step back for a while. I’d like to give you a (rather lengthy, visually unappealing) explanation of what led to to this, if you’d like one. (And if not, that’s ok! Recipes will come in time.) This might give you a sense of what to expect in the year to come.

As some of you noticed, after I began the blog last year around this time, I went from blogging daily to every-other-day, to a couple times a week, and this trend continued until I finally pulled the plug for a few months. I know some of you have asked if there is something more than just grad school/work/life events that influenced this, and I want to be frank and say yes, most definitely. I’ve had this blog up for about a year now (maybe even exactly a year, actually!), and I’m really thankful to have had the past couple months to reflect on how it’s grown and changed over that span, and how I’d like to see it continue to evolve.

When I first started blogging, I was trying to put this site “out there” as much as possible. I quickly learned that leaving comments on more popular blogs’ posts would pique interest in that blog’s readers, who would then click the link to my blog and see who I was. I also went from having no social media, to a Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. I noticed how my readership skyrocketed (at least, comparatively) the more active I was in all these areas. It added many more little facets to my life and schedule!

And I kind of hated it.

I had to be on the computer constantly. And much of what I spent my time doing didn’t really matter to me. Important things were neglected. Instead of being outside hiking or doing the other activities that nourish flourishing in my life, I was in front of a screen, trying to do what a “good blogger” does — networking, reading lots of other blogs, leaving comments on them, tweeting frequently, etc. (Note that interacting with you all through email and such is absolutely not included in this category — it is very fulfilling to connect with you!)

All that busyness and frequently superficial interaction was draining — it takes a lot of effort for my type of personality. I am a very simple person; I thrive on minimalism, and focus. I love close-knit community, and interacting with people in personal ways. I like depth, not breadth. I’m also not a fan of being in front of a screen of any kind much. As a result, social media and much of the blog-world generally overwhelms and overstimulates me – everything happens quickly, with a lot of enthusiasm, and on a mass level. This makes my life feel crowded, chaotic, and complicated.

Honesty is at the top of my list of values, so I’m going to be transparent, especially for the many of you who have emailed me about what it’s like to operate a blog. “Putting the blog out there” by zealously commenting on some blogs I didn’t really care about, or tweeting constantly without much purpose, etc., was a very uncomfortable experience for me. That lifestyle does not jive at all with the above-mentioned characteristics that make me who I am. I felt like I wasn’t being genuine, because let’s get real — I often wasn’t. Who really cares about another picture of oatmeal? And yet I was leaving comments on others’ blog posts that were pretty much just a picture of oatmeal. I kept trying to fit a mold that didn’t reflect my vision for this blog. I was forcing it, because I didn’t want a blog I’d worked really hard on to just fall into the anonymous sector of the internet, without much significance. I assumed the more people who read my blog, the better it must be.

After the second blogging conference I went to, I accepted a very unsettling realization that had been dawning on my for a while: most of the blogging world is… ridiculous. Some of the most popular blogs are without significance. And some of the best blogs, by contrast, are under the radar. The factors which determine whether a blog is read by many or few consists of a lot of name-dropping, link-dropping, snuggling up to “bigger” bloggers, technodrama, being constantly connected to social media, and luck. There are millions of blogs out there, and often the ones that are viewed as successful (i.e., have a huge readership and probably serve as a primary source of income for the blogger) do so merely because they showed up at the right time, not because they are continuously relevant. (Of course, I don’t mean to imply that there are no blogs, etc., that are meaningful or useful — just some!)

I have never had the intention or desire that my blog will blossom into something “big”. But somehow I got caught up in trying to make sure my blog simply stayed on the radar, and I burnt out. I must confess that I really don’t want to be in front of a screen more than I have to. I just want to put my recipes and experiences out there in the hopes that someone finds them helpful — that was actually why I started the blog in the first place — thanks to requests for recipes and (non-medical) advice on healthy living from relatives and friends.

This is but a humble blog with a humble purpose. To achieve that purpose, I really had to stop being a hypocrite and nourish flourishing in my life by prioritizing real, non-virtual activities and relationships. Honestly, I don’t read blogs consistently anymore; I visit two or maybe three to get recipe ideas on occasion, but that’s about it. I have been detoxing my time and brain space from all the superflua out there (and goodness knows, in this tech era, superflua abounds), and it feels awesome.

So… I shan’t be as present online as I was when I began this blog. I will be trying to post as much as I can, but I am also realistic enough to admit that grad school + work + relationships/family does not = a ton of time for blogging.  I’ll try to be consistent by posting a couple times a month at least, and always on a Sunday.

Part of the reason I’m sharing all this is because I know some of you are feeling overwhelmed.  Maybe it’s not blogs as much as it is some other internet/TV/smartphone/etc. habit that eats up a lot of your time. I can only say that I have benefited so much from taking a step back and reevaluating the economy of my time, if you will — how I spend and invest my time, and whether it’s beneficial or detrimental to my personhood and goals. I have cut out the stuff that doesn’t produce good things in my life, and continue to ask myself what activities are really helping shape me into the person I want to become, and what’s distracting me and eating up my time and energy without good reason. So, if you are thinking about a technology detox — go for it. And that includes Nourishing Flourishing! Unplug from all, or some, and see how (or if) it changes you. Then assess next steps.

Finally, here’s to another year of blogging, hopefully one that is better than the last, and filled with even more lessons and recipes!

Much love to you. Thanks for reading.

<3

Do you feel like your philosophy on technology has changed over the past year?

P.S. If you emailed me and haven’t received a response, please let me know!

P.P.S. I do not plan to respond to all the comments that have built up over the past few months; for that, I sincerely apologize. If you asked a question, I will try to get to it as soon as I’m able. I will continue to do my best to respond to comments from henceforward, I just won’t be backtracking on everything from November ’til January. Thanks for understanding!

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The Best Pumpkin Donuts, Donut Holes, + Doughballs — EVER. (GF, Vegan)

25 Oct

Ok, this post has been weeks in the making. Literally. I haven’t been sitting idly on my fanny though — no, no. I’ve been baking about seven (huge) batches of donuts. My personal test kitchen has been a disaster every single day — baking pie pumpkins, testing and re-testing, “forcing” samples on friends and strangers… I think I’ve got it now. I really hope that if you try it, you find it well worth the wait. My photos, as I mentioned, are still disappointing, but for the record donuts, with all their shimmery sweetness, are a downright challenge to capture! (That, at the very least, shall be my excuse…) Just don’t judge this book by its cover; I should illustrate how tasty my testers found this recipe — my husband was told by four different people that he is very lucky to be married to me, just because of these donuts/doughballs. (Trust me, you take away this recipe and I’m probably not worth the headache. Ha! : ) They’re pretty dang good.

Anyway. So, here’s the best part about this recipe: it can be three different types of treat, depending on how you choose to employ the dough/batter. Donuts, donut holes, or doughballs. The only tangible difference between the donut holes and doughballs is that I consider a “proper” (really, Katie?) donut hole to be glazed, whereas a doughball has something like chocolate chips in it. But really, define this for yourself; just enjoy it, whatever you do.

I really wanted to create a recipe that was versatile enough that if you don’t own a mini donut pan (I finally found one at Goodwill for $1 after years of pining) you can still make something outrageously, ridiculously delicious. And I mean that. If you choose to go the mini-donut route, there’s a good chance you’ll be surprised that something gluten-free, grain-free, and vegan can taste and feel like a traditional donut. (Or — dare I say? — better!) I was shocked, to be honest. But really, it’s the shape that’s fun — otherwise, everything will taste the same if you choose to make donut holes instead. I think the icing is what really put it over the top as a bona fide donut product. I don’t usually consume sugarcane products, but this was such a minute amount, I decided to at least see if it made a big difference for the donut experience… WHOA. Yes, yes it does. You will think these are fresh from a bakery.

If you prefer not to have a glaze, throw a handful of dark chocolate chips in the batter. Taste a little of the dough [vegan so salmonella-free!], you know — just to be sure it tastes alright. And then rejoice. Dance. Sing. Call a friend. Pat yourself on the back. Whatever. Just celebrate that deliciousness. Savor it.

Repeat.

This is literally the best donut (and doughball) of my life.

And I used to have one every single Sunday growing up, so these had some serious nostalgia to live up to.

Best Ever Pumpkin Dough for Mini-Donuts, Donutholes, and Doughballs

This might appear more intimidating than it is. Granted, it takes slightly more time than most of my baking recipes, but it is well worth the extra couple of steps, which are a cinch! This batter, whichever way you choose to bake it — mini-donuts, donut holes, or doughballs –, will amaze you. Everything about it is resonant with autumnal comforts — moist, sweet and aromatic, just enough pumpkin and cinnamon to awaken your senses, and a true melt-in-your-mouth finish. Bundle up and savor the taste of fall while you can; all you need is a cup of coffee and someone to share this special treat with. I have never been so proud of, or pleased with, a recipe!

If you choose to forgo the icing/glaze, adding some dark chocolate chips will enhance all the flavors. I used mini-chips, to go with my “petite treat” theme. ; )

Ingredients:
2 1/2 C blanched almond flour (click here to make your own)
2 TB arrowroot powder
1 1/2 TB cinnamon
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 C cooked pumpkin puree (how to make your own — so easy, way more tasty, and cheaper!)
1/2 C agave (or honey) + 2 TB maple syrup
1 TB coconut oil
1 TB vanilla
1/4 C dark chocolate chips (if desired)

Batter Recipe:
1) Mix dry ingredients.
2) Mix wet ingredients, and add them to the dry.
3) If chocolate chips are desired, add them now.

(–> Please note that I have not tried this with a full-size donut pan, so I’m not sure if that will work!)

Directions For Mini-Donuts:
1) Grease donut pan (I used coconut oil). Dust with almond flour.
2) Fill a plastic/ziploc bag with the batter, and cut off one of the tips. Pipe through into the donut impressions.
3) Bake at 325* until lightly browned on edges — you will be able to see the edges pulling away slightly from the pan. Keep a close eye on them! (If it looks like the bottom half of the donut [around the impression part of the donut pan] is browning too fast, move to the top rack and watch carefully). If after 20 minutes they are still rather doughy, bump the heat up to 350* and watch closely until done.

–> N.B. They will still be a little moist. Leaving them out overnight, lightly covered but with air flow, will dry them out a touch, if you prefer. This is unavoidable because the concentration of water in every pumpkin varies.
4) After removing, allow to cool for at least 15 minutes.
5) I removed the individual donuts by turning the pan over, and evenly hitting the pan on the table. They should pop out intact. If they are too warm, they’ll fall apart, so the cooler, the better. (You can also try to wedge them out with a butter knife, but I didn’t have a lot of luck with that method.)
See below for icing.

Directions For Donut Holes and Doughballs:
1) Roll dough into small, 1″ balls. Try to make them higher, rather than wider, as they flatten a bit from the heat in the oven. You can wet your hands a little if you like.
2) Place each doughball on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 325* until lightly browned on edges. (It took mine a little over 15 minutes, but watch carefully, and adjust for longer cooking if needed.)
3) Remove and allow to cool on the sheet for at least 15 minutes.
See below for icing.

Vanilla Glaze/Icing Ingredients:
1/2 C powdered sugar (I used a grain-free, organic brand with tapioca starch, because the cheap brand was sub-par — you could taste the cornstarch. Blech.)
1 TB unsweetened almond milk (I used vanilla)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

Chocolate Glaze/Icing Ingredients:
1/2 C powdered sugar (
2 TB cocoa powder
2 TB unsweetened almond milk (I used vanilla)

Glaze/Icing Recipe:
1) Add almond milk to powdered sugar (and cocoa powder if desired), whisking vigorously with a fork until lumps are gone.
2) If desired, add vanilla.
3) Dip the tops of donuts, donut holes, or doughballs into the glaze. Allow glaze to dry for at least half an hour.

Notes on Icing/Glaze: I used a grain-free, organic brand (365 Organic) of powdered sugar, made with tapioca starch, because the cheap brand was awful. You could taste the added cornstarch. I highly recommend spending a tiny bit extra for the sake of quality! Seriously. I promise it’s worth it.

Also, N.B.: resist the urge to add more milk; you want the glaze to be as thick as possible, because if it is too wet, it won’t dry, it will just soak your donuts and they will be mushy.

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I am honestly in awe that this recipe turned out. I started with no idea what I was doing, and ended up with something I’m really excited about. I had been thinking an almond flour pumpkin donut was needed in the world, but could never find a recipe for one. While I am still unsatisfied with my photos (the main reason for the delay of this post), I think the recipe makes up for any aesthetic disappointment. Try it, and let me know if you agree! These are a perfect holiday sweet, without being unhealthy (in moderation, of course); I already plan to make them for my family over Thanksgiving.

Also, bake these while listening to 40s and 50s tunes — somehow, it will make everything in life seem alright again.

Are there any seasonal treats you are eager to create or make again?

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A Day at Ya-Ya Orchard

23 Oct

The recipe should be up tomorrow or Tuesday, but seriously, I just cannot get the photos to look right. I think it’s the changed lighting on our porch, but regardless, my photo mojo is off. Rest assured, I have the post written — I just need to make another batch tonight and demand the items to look good tomorrow morning. ; ) In the meantime, sticking to my one-post-a-week goal, and because I had such an great time, I wanted to share a little field trip (uh, literally) to Ya-Ya Orchard in Longmont, Colorado. We are always on the lookout for local farms to support, and this one seemed just right. We were delighted to find out that there were a fair amount of adorable, sweet animals to meet!

These donkeys were such a cute, playful pair.

Luckily, they sell small pails of carrots that you can offer to the equines (there was quite a variety). I could have just kept offering carrots and nuzzling these two all day! They were so much fun.

This was a bit of a slobbery encounter, but that’s nature! Sometimes it’s a tad messy. All the animals — even the huge horses that dwarfed me — were gentle and kind. According to one of Ya-Ya’s workers, the trick to feeding a horse/donkey/etc. is to open your hand flat, with the carrot in the middle. Their teeth are a decent amount farther back from their big lips, and they’ll just roll the carrot into their mouths. No need to be afraid, I learned! : )

It was so nice to see how well cared-for these animals were.
Everyone at the orchard was wonderfully friendly and helpful, to us and the critters.

Hayrides for all!

(Except… us. Because we’re cheap and in grad school. So we walked the orchard. And it was beautiful.)

We may be cheap, but not cheap enough to pass up on some fresh cider. I grabbed a bottle to toast the season.

Oh, do you see that in the background? Here’s a closer view:

Needless to say, we didn’t lack for things to do, even after we moved on to give the children a chance to say hi to the animals…

Fall, you win.

My husband enjoyed a fresh apple cider donut, and tried to describe  – in painstaking detail, between exclamations of how good it was — what it tasted like, since I’ve never had one, glutenous or not!

(And yes, I am working on a GF version now! ; )

While you obviously don’t have to be married to form traditions, that has been one of our favorite elements of sharing life together; in particular, it’s been such fun to find traditions that are purposeful, and engage with our values. As we keep tuning in to more ways to be connected to our community — including people, land, food, economy, and so on — this memory has convinced us to relive our orchard experience each autumn. It very much reflects our appreciation for local and sustainable agriculture. And fun. And all things apple.

; )

Thanks Ya-Ya Orchard!

What seasonal traditions do you have?

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The Lowdown on Almond Flour

15 Oct

Hey friends!

So, I’m later on posting than I had hoped, but for a good reason; today my husband whisked me off to the mountains for a birthday getaway! Perhaps I’ll do a little recap just because it’s been such fun already, but we’ll see. Regardless, I did promise a post today, and though I had hoped to publish the new recipe (I made three batches over the past two days and they are completely gone — also, it was what I chose to eat for my birthday “treat” — and it’s definitely not cake, or a traditional thing to celebrate with, at that!), I not only left the recipe scrawled on some paper on my counter at home, I also am seriously disappointed with the photos I took! Darn, I guess I’ll need to make them again… Heh heh. So, I thought I’d talk about something that I’m frequently asked about, just as a resource in case you were curious.

Fear not, though, if this isn’t something you’re interested in. The recipe is coming soon. SOON!

So, as you’ve probably noticed, I use blanched almond flour for the majority of my baked goods. Below are the most common questions I get. Please let me know if you have more in the comments! : )

Almond Flour FAQs

1) What is blanched almond flour? What isn’t blanched almond flour?

Blanched almond flour is essentially just almonds that have had their skins steamed or boiled off, and then been ground up into fine particles. It’s consistency would be comparable to cornmeal.

Blanched almond flour (usually just referred to as almond flour) is not the same as almond meal. Almond meal can be blanched, but most of the time it is made from almonds with the skin still on, and thus it is coarser and not as fine as blanched almond flour. This can result in a crumblier texture. Almond meal — even if blanched — is going to be a larger particle than almond flour. I can’t guarantee things will go perfectly if you substitute almond meal, though many have let me know that it worked great for them!

2) Why do you use almond flour?

I started using almond flour when I was on a grain-free eating plan (I followed it strictly for over a year, not for weight loss, but health reasons).  It is amazingly versatile — and always simple. I don’t need to have 12 different types of gums, starches, and GF flours to make one loaf of bread (that is going to be nutritionally lacking anyway). I strive to keep my ingredients minimal in recipes, and almond flour allows me to do so.

BUT. It is also the tastiest flour, and one of the most nutritious, in my opinion. Almond flour is a great option for people who need to eat grain or gluten-free, but it is also awesome for those who don’t! Whatever your dietary needs, almond flour is low-glycemic, high fiber, and high protein. It is also rich with Vitamin E and perfectly moist. You simply can’t say that about any other GF flour — most are dry, high starch, low protein, low fiber, and leave me feeling sugar buzzed and sick.

Did I mention that it’s also just plain delicious? Like buttah (…but without buttah. Which = great for vegan baking, by the way).

3) Where do you buy blanched almond flour? Isn’t it expensive?

Yes and no. If you purchase almond flour in bulk, like I do, you won’t be selling off a kidney anytime soon. I don’t use almond flour every week, either, so it’s not a huge expense. If you buy almond butter on a regular basis, you can buy almond flour — by the pound, almond flour is about the same price (~$6/lb, usually less if you purchase it like I do — see following). I buy several 5 lb bags from Honeyville (a great company; I’ve bought from them for over 3 years now) when they periodically have sales. I signed up to receive email alerts, and they usually range between 10-15%. I store mine in the freezer for months. (See #6.)

Whole Foods and other health food stores are now carrying almond flour — even if the bulk bins! Just make sure it is finely ground. And be careful about cross-contamination if you’re celiac, of course. Kind Arthur Flour used to sell almond meal that was really coarse, but recently it looks much finer and might work (though it is $$). I do not recommend Dowd & Rogers brand.

4) Can I make my own? How?

This is a great tutorial, and one that I try to link to in all my almond flour posts. You can definitely make it at home! This is an excellent option if you are just trying it out for one recipe. It can also be more cost-effective, depending on your local prices. (Honeyville is always cheaper for me though.)

5) Where did you learn to bake and cook with almond flour? Are there other resources I could use?

The first introduction I had to almond flour was through the book Breaking the Vicious Cycle, and Elana Amsterdam. If you aren’t familiar with Elana’s site Elana’s Pantry, you need to check it out. She is an almond flour goddess, and when I first found out I couldn’t eat gluten, I was lost. Her recipes and tutorials really did teach me how to cook again, when I felt like I would never be able to return to my passion of baking. Through Elana’s recipes, and a LOT of trial and error, I figured out how to bake with almond flour. I certainly owe my ability to gauge ratios (e.g., wet to dry, etc.), and other almond flour essentials, to Elana. I had the privilege of meeting her in person to thank her for all she’s done (she also lives in Boulder), and she was very gracious, and very enthusiastic about helping the GF community. If you haven’t perused her two cookbooks, I really can’t recommend them enough. Even my parents (who do not eat GF) frequently make her recipes, as my father is diabetic and most of her dishes are low glycemic and please even the pickiest eaters (that’s you, Dad).


6) How should I store almond flour?

Almond flour will go rancid much more quickly than glutenous flour. Store it in the fridge and use it up in a few months, or store it in the freezer and use it up in a year or two. Just be sure to let it thaw before baking with it! : )

Ok — that took way longer (and was way longer) than I expected! (TWSS) Anyway, I hope some of you found it helpful. My next recipe uses almond flour — in a way I have only dreamed. Ohmyword.

Have a great weekend!

Any other questions? Have you used almond flour?

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Balsamic Caramelized Onion and Cherry Tomato Tart (GF, Grain-Free, + Vegan)

4 Oct

FRIENDS.

I’m back.

Sorry about the weeks-long hiatus. Life got crazy like whoa very, very quickly — pretty much as soon as my grad classes started up, and I took a new job, and so on. Enter: Katie’s Life Without Any Free Time Whatsoever. Thank you so much for being understanding and supportive while I adjusted! If I have missed an email or anything, please let me know; I’m worried that some things got lost in the chaos. : / Also. I’m going to aim for posting at least once a week from now on. Let’s hope I can manage that. I missed blogging! I missed chatting with you guys, cooking crazy things, and telling you about it. It’s true that having to take a break from the internet in general was also seriously refreshing. But I am delighted to be back. And with a very worthy recipe to celebrate!

Now let me explain — this recipe looks complicated. It looks like it will take hours to make. It looks like it has a lot of ingredients. But really, this took me about 45 minutes total, prep and cook time, and it’s actually fairly simple. Plus, doesn’t it just look and sound so classy?

Ok, I admit it; I’m a grad student who huddles around free food at lectures. And puts samples in my pockets. That have holes in them. My already questionable hygiene has taken a further hit due to studying. An apple with gobs of peanut butter suffices as a meal on (frequent) occasion. Nearly all my clothes are thrifted.

I know nothing of classiness.

I came across a photo of a Caramelized Tomato Tarte Tatin on Pinterest way back when, and while I wasn’t so keen on the recipe itself (especially since it had gluten in it, ha), I fell in love with the visual. I actually bought cherry tomatoes at the store every single week while I was away from the blog, vowing that I would find time to make the tomato tart of my dreams… And here we are, three or four weeks and pints of tomatoes later, with — at last! — my own gluten-free, grain-free, and vegan version of a savory tart. I knew I’d get around to it! Good thing those overripe, wrinkly, geriatric tomatoes are easily disguised by the oven’s magic. : )

Sweet and Savory Balsamic Caramelized Onion and Cherry Tomato Tart

This tart has a buttery crust that mimics a glutenous one beautifully. It is topped with sweet caramelized onions and garlic — I use red onions for a richer flavor. The touch of balsamic vinegar carries the sweetness of the onions and candy-sweet, juicy tomatoes, while also bringing the perfect amount of complexity and depth to this (surprisingly) simple, high-protein dish. It’s savory, sweet, and one of the most delicious things I have ever made.

Inspired by this Caramelized Tomato Tarte Tatin.

Ingredients:

Crust
1/2 C garbanzo bean (chickpea or besan) flour
1/2 C blanched almond flour (how to make your own)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 C water
2 Tb extra virgin olive oil

Topping
1 small red onion (or half of a medium)
1.5 Tb extra virgin olive oil
salt
2 cloves garlic
2 Tb balsamic vinegar (plus more for drizzling)
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes (you might not use all of it)


Recipe:

Crust
1) Mix dry ingredients in a bowl.
2) Add water and mix thoroughly with a fork.
3) Add olive oil and mix thoroughly.
4) Preheat oven to 350*. On a parchment-lined baking sheet, using wet hands, press dough into an even circle.
6) Using a fork, pierce the dough to create vents all over. Place in oven and begin working on topping. (You will remove the crust once it turns a light tan on the very edges.)

Tart Topping

1) As crust bakes, slice onion into thin rounds.
2) Heat olive oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add onions.
3) Sprinkle onions generously with salt to make them sweat. Stir occasionally.
4) Chop garlic, and once onions are translucent and beginning to brown, add garlic.
5) Stir occasionally to keep garlic from burning, but since you want the onions to caramelize, you can just leave them alone for the most part. Once they turn a beautiful dark brown, turn off the burner, and add the balsamic vinegar.
6) Scrape the skillet as the vinegar reduces down and infuses the onions and garlic.
7) Your crust should be ready by now, if it wasn’t beforehand. Remove it when it is a light tan on the edges. Keep the oven on.
8 ) Spread the onion/garlic/balsamic mixture onto the crust.
9) Quickly slice the tomatoes in half and arrange on top of the onion mixture.
10) Return tart to oven. Once the edges of the tart are lightly browned (see pictures) and the tomatoes are cooked (starting to break and release their juice, or wrinkly, or swollen), remove. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and serve.

Serves two as a meal, or six to eight as an appetizer.
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We literally devoured the entire thing in five minutes. There are simply no words. None.

And since I’ve probably overwhelmed you with the apparent length of the recipe, I’ll close it down here. (Also, it is waaay past my bedtime, and I am suddenly very committed to getting a solid set of hours in each night. Amazingly, sleep makes the waking hours more productive. Who knew, right?)

Yay — I’m blogging again! Give me a day or so to catch up on comments — it’s unlikely that I’ll be able to respond as quickly as in the past, but it is still so important to me to keep up our conversation. Comments and emails will always be a priority, so don’t think I care less just because I’m posting less! New recipes are coming, friends. I have so many tasty ideas percolating that I really had to restrain myself from experimenting in the kitchen all night on Sunday, when I made this dish. This is a very good thing.

OK — what did I miss this month? How have you been?!

Any requests?

xo.

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