I enjoy the therapeutic aspect of preparing food in my kitchen, alone. There is something about being in control of the pace of the process that allows me to switch into a mediative state. Sometimes, I even take the long route (pitting cherries with a pairing knife, slipping the skins off of soaked almonds) just to prolong the experience.
However, when I find a sous chef or kitchen mentor who can share in the joy of preparing the most delicious sauce, beautiful tart or satisfying salad then I gladly accept the help and reap the rewards. Last week, my friend Natalie joined me in my escape to the suburbs. A fellow vegan with a discerning palate, Natalie was the perfect partner to help me tackle a few more test recipes for The Blissful Chef.
Together we made Millet Mashed “Potatoes” (actually cauliflower) and Mushroom Gravy. We were both impressed by the deep, rich flavour of the gravy. Natalie actually suggested bottling it as a holiday gift. The gravy uses the perfect amount of sage to deliver that nostalgic flavour I associate with glorious family gatherings around steaming bowls, all celebrating the bounty of the season.
At the same time (two people are much better at multitasking), we prepared a Quinoa Tabouli. I loved substituting quinoa for the more traditional barley. It delivered more protein and a lovely nutty flavour which paired perfectly with the bright citrus essence in this dish. I can see this tabouli being an ideal addition to any picnic basket.
Have you ever noticed how sharing a task can make it easier to chat about life’s trials and tribulations. You can say things while stirring a sauce that are tougher to discuss when simply sitting across a table. I appreciate Natalie’s knife skills and her amazing active listening abilities! If you’re a long time reader of this blog (Mom?) you might remember this post about filling her freezer in anticipation of Barrett’s arrival. Fourteen months later he looks well-fed and happy (it must be that chocolate-lavender-cookie-infused breast milk that got him off to such a good start).
Tomorrow is Canada Day. I have lots of work to do but I will take some time to get outdoors and appreciate the country I call home. We are enjoying an amazing harvest of local berries here. One of my favourite ways to celebrate Canada is to prepare a meal focused on ingredients procured from farmer’s markets or picked right from the field (I really enjoy strawberry picking). If you’re so inclined, here is a lovely way to savour the strawberry season.
O’Canada Patriotic Pie
(coconut oil to grease the pan)
1 cup pecans
1 cup almonds
3/4 cup medjool dates, pitted
pinch of sea salt
3 cups of strawberries (cleaned and hulled)
juice of 1/2 lemon
4 medjool dates or 1 TB agave
Spread a very thin layer of coconut oil over a pie pan. In your food processor pulse the nuts until a fine meal develops. Add the dates and salt and pulse until the mixture begins to come together and no date chunks are visible. Press the the crust together between your thumb and fingers to make sure it holds together (if not add a little more sweetener). Press the crust into your pie pan and set aside.
In your food processor (just give it a little rinse) combine 1 cup of strawberries, lemon juice and dates. Process until smooth. Pour this mixture into the prepared crust. Slice the remaining 2 cups of strawberries and decorate the pie as desired. Allow the pie to chill in the fridge for 1-2 hours.
Feel free to decorate with some coconut flakes, chocolate chunks or other seasonal berries.
This is a perfect pie for a busy day. It takes just minutes to put together and can chill while you enjoy a lovely lunch on the patio or in the park.
A very Happy Canada Day to all my fellow Canadians!
Will you be celebrating July 1st or July 4th? What do you have planned this year?