Peasant Mushroom, White Bean and Kale Soup

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Abraham van Beveren, "Still Life with Lobster and Fruit," 1650s

Though we like to think of turkey legs as Renaissance food, but real Renaissance dining was much more varied, and honestly more interesting (and most people didn't eat a lot of meat).  What we call "The Renaissance" was the period between the 14th and 17th centuries that began in Italy, and spread throughout Europe.  It was a time of excess, and luxury, and indulgence.

There were no stovetop cooking systems as you and I know them, so a lot of foods were cooked in pastry and served as pies. Broth was made in a pot directly over a fire.  Soups were popular and abundant, but most were expensive.  Soups were usually dressed up with foods of many different colors, pomegranate seeds, and dressed with aromatic herbs.  This soup I call Peasant Soup, because it is more simple, dressed down, and not as pleasing to the eye as would be seen in court.

Peter Wtewael, "Kitchen Scene," 1620s

I based this on Renaissance recipes for soup and vegetables, but it is by no means authentic.  Kale would not have been available during this time, and the broth might have been too salty as salt was almost as precious as foreign spices. For a more period accurate version, you could substitute cabbage for the kale, and cut way down on salt. You could also make your own broth, which I will be posting very soon!

1 cup white wine or sherry
2 tsp liquid aminos
4 garlic cloves, minced
8 oz. sliced mushrooms (wild mushrooms are best)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 shallot, diced
3 large kale leaves, without stems and roughly chopped
1 can cannellini beans
1/4 cup flour (or less, to thicken broth)
salt and pepper to taste
thyme, to taste
splash of white truffle oil
About 32 oz vegetable stock (I think I used a bit less)

In a medium stock pot, heat olive oil and add shallots and garlic.  Sauté until shallots are transparent and add in mushrooms, kale, and thyme.  Let these flavors mingle for just a bit, then add in salt and pepper, truffle oil (just a small amount), splash in the liquid aminos, followed by the wine and vegetable stock.  Bring to a boil and add in the beans and lower heat to let simmer while covered.  Your soup is done when the mushrooms and kale are tender.  Your very last step should be whisking in enough flour to thicken the sauce just a bit (it should remain a little thin).  Serve garnished with thyme stems.

Silent Supper Stew and Baked Apples

Friday, November 3, 2017

Daniel Maclise, "Snap-Apple Night," 1833

The last day of October and the first few days of November, no matter what culture you are from, typically come with some kind of holiday or ritual or connotation.  Christians turned Samhain into All Hallows Eve in the 8th century to make it easier to convert the Celts.  By keeping their sacred days on or around the Christian sacred days, the Christians thought they Celts might feel a touch better about having their culture stripped from them (yeah, sure).  The Mexican tradition of Dia de los Muertos is still very steeped in Pagan tradition.  Most cultures have their own way of honoring the dead, but all have similarities.

Samhain (Sow-in, not Sam-hane) is a day to honor the dead and to celebrate an abundant harvest to prepare for the upcoming winter months.  Candles are placed on the graves of the dead, harvest foods are eaten, and no rituals are done on this day.  Fire is important on this day, as it is on most Pagan Sabbats, with bonfires being lit and candles being ubiquitous. Death in modern times is rarely celebrated, and if it is it's usually for the wrong reasons, but in the past many cultures had days celebrating their passed family and ancestors.  On this day, we celebrate our dead kin by holding a Silent Supper.

During the Silent Supper, we set the table with all black or white dishes or use our best china.  A place is set for each dead relative or, one place setting is set for the lot of them.  A black shroud is placed over their chair, and a candle is lit and placed on their plate.  The menu should be kept simple, and food should be served buffet style or easily served yourself, as it is tough to communicate "please pass the potatoes" when not speaking.  I made stew, which is symbolic of the bountiful "harvest" and also is a full meal with just a few ladles full.  Before the meal, it is wise to sage or otherwise cleanse your table and yourselves, and some may even say a brief prayer or rite before sitting down.  A bell is helpful to signal the beginning and end of the meal.  Once the meal begins, none may speak and all light must be candle light.  The guest seat is served first, always.  Use this time to reflect on the past year, those your lost, and those who may be sitting at your empty seat tonight.  Some may even bring a note to leave for the dead, this note should be burned in the dead's candle once the meal is finished. Once you are finished, the united meal may be buried or set out for squirrels or others if you live where it so permits.

I plan to carry out this tradition for years to come, as Alex and I both really enjoyed it.

Silent Supper Stew

5 yukon gold potatoes, roughly cubed
2 VERY large carrots (or 4 regular sized)
2 broccoli crowns, chopped
1 shallot, diced
8oz mushrooms, sliced
1 or 2 leeks, sliced
Small bunch of kale, roughly chopped
1 can cannelini beans

salt and pepper to taste

1 cut white wine
32 oz vegetable broth
vegan worcestershire sauce
splash liquid smoke
olive oil

flour to thicken

Plug in crock pot and set on "high" setting.  In separate sauce pan, heat olive oil and sauté shallot until transparent.  Add shallot to the crock pot.  Next, add in all vegetables except kale and beans.  Add all wet ingredients.  This will take around 6 hours to cook through.  About the last 2 hours, add in the kale and beans as they will not take as long to cook. Whisk in flour after all vegetables are added to thicken sauce. Stew is done when carrots and potatoes are easily pierced with a fork.  Keep tasting your sauce, and season as you go. It may need a bit of this or that to be to your liking.

Baked Apples

4 apples, cubed
4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cornstarch
4 tbsp vegan butter
splash of whiskey (LITTLE splash, the flavor can get overwhelming fast).

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Lightly grease a baking dish and add in apples and all dried ingredients.  Stir until apples are evenly coated. Drizzle whiskey on top and stir once more.  Pop in the oven for about 30 minutes, stirring periodically.  This will be perfectly sweet, bubbly and delicious.  You can serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream (both vegan, of course!)

Pumpkin Spice tea seasoned with rosemary and spiked with whiskey
Do you have any special traditions for Halloween/Samhain?
I'd love to hear about them.


Irish Potato and Leek Soup

Monday, October 30, 2017

Autumn in Los Angeles is a weird thing.  While it remains warm until well into November (sometimes longer), the light gets a little more golden and there is a hint of a cool breeze.  We live right at the base of Runyon Canyon, so we get a bit of an outdoorsy experience, but it's still very much Los Angeles and very much a city.

I long to live in the woods and to grow my own food out of the ground, and this time of year always reminds me of that.  Every October, it seems I want to let my hair grow wild and live off the land. I return to my witchy ways and want to be more in touch with nature. 

The closest I can get to a true Autumn experience, is the food.  One dish that is sure to stir your October heart is this Irish Potato Leek soup.  Leeks are my new favorite thing and I could eat potatoes everyday (but don't, because you can actually get potato drunk and it's awful).  This soup is incredibly easy and contains few ingredients and no meat substitutes, which is something that I'm trying more and more to abide by.  I'm going to start using local and in season produce more, and live that simple life.

So put on some fuzzy socks, curl up on the couch, and slurp down a bowl of this soup that will transport you to a chilly seaside Irish town.

5 potatoes
3 medium carrots
3 leeks
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons vegan butter
2 tablespoons vegan sour cream
Enough vegetable stock to cover vegetables

Heat butter in a large saucepan.  Add in vegetables and saute until they begin to become tender (the potatoes will still be crisp).  Add salt and pepper before pouring in enough vegetable stock to cover the vegetables and bring to a boil.  Let simmer while covered while checking periodically that the vegetables are softening while adding salt and pepper throughout to taste.  Once potatoes are full cooked, mash while still cooking with a potato masher.  I like my soup to be lumpy and have a lot of texture, but typically this soup is added to a blender and pureed.  I just mash the potatoes until the soup gets a little creamy, and then add in the sour cream.  Let simmer a few minutes longer, and ladel into soup bowls, or serve from the pot directly. 

Feel free to send me your autumn favorites, or let me know what you'd like to see.


The Grady Twins Sliders, Flooded with REDRUM Marinated Mushrooms and Cheddar, with Wendy Torrance's Easy "Canned" Fruit Cocktail

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Well folks, Halloween is mere days away and I'm slacking. I'm sorry. I toyed with the idea of having a party, but I'm always terrified that no one will show up (Martha Plimpton in 200 Cigarettes style).  But not having solid plans for the most Instagrammed holiday shouldn't put a damper on things!

I've decided to use some of my favorite horror films as inspiration for a whole bloody mess of plant based meals.  Just because there's no real blood in anything, doesn't mean we can't still have a little fun.  This dish is inspired by Stanly Kubrick's "The Shining."  This is absolutely one of my favorite films PERIOD and my fav Kubrick for sure.  I once scared the bajeezers out of my sister (who is terrified of this movie to this day) by hiding in her closet as a kid and saying "redrum!" when she came out of the show. Best was my mom's idea.

This is the first time I've tried stuffing the Beyond Meat patties, and I have to say it was a success.  I used Follow Your Heart American Cheese Slices, which melted really well and are now my favorite cheese substitute.

4 beyond meat patties
8 oz. crimini mushrooms, chopped
1 cup merlot
4 tsp Worcestershire sauce (vegan)
Olive oil
2 slices Follow Your Heart American Cheese Slices
Salt and pepper to taste
Your choice hamburger buns
Your choice toppings- I used Heinz pickle chips and mustard, in keeping with the theme of the movie (you'll notice Heinz bulk jars in the Kitchen at the Overlook).

I served it with fruit cocktail, as there's a scene in the movie where Wendy is opening a massive can of fruit cocktail and I love that shit as a kid.  But honestly, if you can't make fruit cocktail I just can't help you. One thing I can tell you is, that I make fruit cocktail by mixing fruit with sugar and refrigerating it overnight so it get syrupy, but not excessively like canned fruit.  I also served that with rice whip and it was amazing.


Thaw your beyond patties completely, because you'll need to work with them.  While they're thawing,  heat up some olive oil in a pan and add in your mushrooms with some salt and pepper. Saute until tender, and then pour in your Merlot. Simmer uncovered until the mushrooms are sufficiently soaked with the Merlot flavor. Remove from heat and let cool.

Cut each beyond burger in half  and for each half into a smaller patty.  Fill the center with a spoonful of mushrooms and break up pieces of the Follow Your Heart slices (half a slice per burger) and also put those inside. Rub the outside of the "meat" with Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper (make sure to get both sides).   You can cook these in an oiled pan, a girl, or I used a stove top griddle.

Cook until browned and firm and top with your favorite burger toppings.

Happy Halloween everyone, be safe and eat well.


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Flora Negri, "Marcha das Vadias"

I'm sure you've already seen the #metoo posts floating around social media lately.  It's no doubt startling how many women have been sexually or physically abused or harassed, and also how many of their attackers are still among their mutual Facebook friends (if I'm "friends" with anyone who has attacked you, please alert me, I don't want that in my life). 

One thing that most people know about me if they know me well at all, is that I lived in Kansas for 4 years.  The man I lived with there was abusive.  I'm not going to play that broken record again, I've talk about it to death.  But one thing that is on my mind lately with all of this assault awareness is the woman that he was involved with after I left him.  She has taken it upon herself to tell me multiple times over the course of about 8 years that I made it all up and that it never happened.  Recently, since the #metoo campaign and the Harvey Weinstein revelations, she has come out and spoke about how women need to stand together and she will believe anyone if they say they have been abused or assaulted.

But you didn't believe me.

This post isn't about her.  Not specifically. This post is about all of us, and how we need to practice what we preach.  So many times I've seen people I know repost text and images on social media about how we need to support each other as women, how they will be there for you if you need to talk, that they are a safe person to talk to and confide in...and in the same day or week they pass a judgement on a woman they see on the street in a crop top, or call a woman they don't like "psycho" or "liar." Men have done such a good job turning us against each other, and it's time we stopped letting them.

If we say we will stick together, we need to do it.  If we say we will believe a woman who says she has been abused we need to believe ALL women, even if we don't particularly care for her and don't want to be her friend.

We need to hold each other accountable for our passing comments, or snap judgements, and our side-eyes.  Are you making a judgment about someone's behavior that you don't know anything about?  Are you posting #metoo and "I'll believe you" but not actually following through with your actions?  This extends beyond social media and posting for the sake of posting.  We must all put our money where our mouths are and believe EVERY woman who says she was raped, or harassed, or abused, or attacked. It is not up to you to pick and choose who is deserving of fault or belief.

Just for the record, I will believe you if you tell me you have been abused or attacked.  If you need my help, I'll be there for you.  No matter who you are or how you've treated me in the past.

My Skincare Picks! (All 100% cruelty free!)

Sunday, October 8, 2017

I have always been very conscious of my skin, and have cared for it since I was old enough to think about such things.  I have never had especially problematic skin, but no one's face is perfect and we all have our imperfections.  I didn't have acne as a teenager, but my skin is pretty sensitive and dry, but also can become really oily depending on what I put on it.  I learned early that less is more, and always wear sunscreen.  I'm naturally very light blonde and fair complected, but tan easily when in the sun. This may sound desirable to some, and this was actually a trendy look in the early 2000s when everyone and their mom (or mine) was going to tanning salons to get bronze. I, on the other hand, have always kept out of the sun and made sure to purchase skincare products with sunscreen built in, and you will NEVER see me at the beach or pool sans sunscreen.

Aside from protecting your skin from tanning and aging, sunscreen is IMPERATIVE because it will protect you from life threatening cancers.  Seriously, SPH15 at least, please.  Recently, I've gone WAY back to basics and have adopted some skin care tips from the past (my grandmother had and still has amazing skin, so they must have been doing something right), and have also made sure that everything I use is cruelty free. This is sometimes a challenge when searching for classic skincare products like cold cream, but you can find a list HERE of cruelty free brands to cut down on the leg work. This recently happened to me actually, as I was an avid fan of La Roche Posay, but discovered that their parent company is L'Oreal, who ABSOLUTELY tests on animals. I've also thrown out my Cetaphil, which I had used since I was 16 for the same reasons.  I now refuse to use MAC cosmetics or NARS cosmetics due to their animal testing policies.

Now, no one is perfect, and I am certainly no exception.  I have frequently googled a product already in my arsenal and discovered that they indeed test on animals. And, while it pains me to toss it in the trash, with its beautiful packaging that I so deliberately selected from the shelf, in the bin it goes immediately and I look for another brand.  There are also some fuzzy and gray areas to some company's cruelty free policies. And keep in mind, "cruelty free" does not automatically mean "vegan" so if you are keeping things vegan, read all labels carefully (I have marked which products I use that are cruelty free, but not vegan).

Another MUST is taking your goddamn makeup off before you get your tired ass to bed.  Seriously, if you go to bed with your makeup on I will personally come to your house and slap you whilst removing your makeup. My makeup removal process is pretty involved (and I don't wear a whole lot of makeup to begin with), but you don't have to go that deep. Honestly, just use a wipe or better yet, a cotton pad with some micellar water and take off those perfect eyeliner wings and concealer before you snooze.  Bedtime is when your skin regenerates, and when you fall asleep with your makeup on you prevent a lot of that regeneration.  Seriously, you'll thank me and you'll look 10 years younger.

My evaluation for "cruelty free" status is taken from the company's own statements as well as and PETA.  


My morning routine is super simple. We'll get to my nightly routine shortly, but in the morning I use Humphrey's Witch Hazel Facial Toner on a cotton pad all over my face to remove the moisturizer from the night before.

Then I use YES to Grapefruit Even Skin Moisturizer mixed with my foundation of choice (Frankie Rose Cosmetics in Angel, if you're curious).  The YES to Grapefruit moisturizer has SPF 15 already in it, so I don't need to add anything extra unless I'm going out in direct sunlight for a prolonged period.


My nightly routine is admittedly way more involved.  You have to keep in mind that your whole day is on your face at the end of it.  The pollution, the makeup, the oils from your fingers, whatever the hell is on your phone, that gunk you put in your all ends up on your face to some degree. You absolutely HAVE to get that stuff off your face before you get in bed.

It depends on what day it is, but on a normal day I remove all of my makeup with Queen Helene's Triple Whipped Cleansing Cream and cotton pads (this is not a vegan product, it contains beeswax). Then, I use the Humphrey's toner again with a cotton pad to pick up anything left over and remove a bit of the film left from the cleansing cream.

After the makeup is all off, I use Fig + Yarrow's Night Serum (which contains hyaluronic acid).

Next, I use Honest Beauty's Younger Face Deep Hydration cream.

Once a week I use my Vanity Planet Spin Brush with just water, and no cleanser.  It's important to exfoliate, and my skin is so sensitive that I can't do it more than once a week.

If you'll notice, I never actually use a cleanser on my skin in the vain of soap and water.  Using water on your skin, or at least my skin, is actually drying believe it or not.  I follow a very Parisienne rule of never cleansing with water (except during my weekly exfoliation).

Et Viola!  That's how I keep my skin even, clear, and healthy....and honestly wrinkle free.  It takes effort and no one is born with perfect skin.  But if you take care of it, it will show.