The Pink Ticket

A playground of many muses.

The Pink Ticket - A playground of many muses.

Project 52: The Creatives Week 30; Atop Mt Olympia

...

On Tuesday, I stole Hunter Thompson’s typewriter… the one he hijacked from Hemingway. It wasn’t hard to do; there was no security to speak of, and Hunter was asleep, his sidearm laying idly by.

He almost woke as I typed a note; a ransom demand for the Olympia done on the red Selectric. Tiptoed out around the dog on a quiet Colorado morning.

I woke the next morning, my excitedly typed pages missing, the typewriter gone. My ransom note taped to the bathroom mirror. The orange juice container mysteriously empty upon the kitchen counter.

Project 52: The Creatives Week 29, How to get to Hell

“We’ve been awaiting your arrival,” the slow grin and hiss of the words seemed unnatural as she squarely eyed up the normal looking man.

She paid no attention to the noisy scurrying of shadows on either side of her. She wondered why she wasn’t afraid. “How’s that?” she responded with the tone she’d often reserved for the highway patrol disapproving of her speed.

He just continued to smile; the silence, she thought, seemed to last years. She heard the shadows come and go. She didn’t dare look away; she knew, as cats do, one blink and game over. “They say,” he finally broke the silence, “when one dies they aren’t really dead…” He paused awkwardly and lit a candle without ever looking away, “…until, that is, they get here.”

“I don’t believe in hell.”

“You don’t have to.”

“Have I died then?”

“To some.”

“To you?”

“Not yet.” His smile faded as his eyes seemed to now sparkle eerily. “You are a worthy opponent.”

“Am I?”

“Yes, you are as was promised. You are still here as thousands… millions… have perished around you. Quite exhausting. Exhilarating though.”

“Millions?”

“Give or take. I don’t count…anymore.”

The shadows, she thought.

“Yes, the shadows,” he smiled again.

“You heard that?”

“You let me,” his grin grew bigger.

She smiled in return. She remembered him now.

Project 52: The Recipes Week 32; Jalapeno Ginger Corn Bread

Jalapeno Ginger Cornbread

Jalapeno Ginger Cornbread

It is slightly beyond my comprehension why it is when the weather is 90+ degrees and humid to the point that the AC cannot keep up that I suddenly think, I need cornbread. But every year, without fail, that is exactly what happens.

I do love my cornbread, and since I have a jalapeno plant that is quite an overachiever, I’m never at a shortage of peppers. In fact, I’ve had the plant for 5 years now, bringing it in every winter. I thought for certain this winter was the end… but I put it out side this spring and trimmed off the dead pieces and suddenly it sprang back into life.  20 jalapenos this summer so far and it is still thriving out there.  I’m always amazed by the way a plant will come back from what looks like certain death… my jalapeno, the willow tree in the courtyard that was pulled out during Hurricane Sandy and removed, the phlox I saved from a clearance bin… weeds. 😉

Nonetheless, I pulled out the corn grits and some whole wheat pastry flour and got a little creative, using up some of the candied ginger I made a few weeks ago.  The jalapeno and ginger made for a great compliment against the slightly sweet cornbread.  I’ll be making it again on the next insufferably hot, under advisory, kind of day.

Jalapeno Ginger Corn Bread
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 cups corn meal
1/3 cup sugar
2 cups unsweetened soy milk
1/2 cup applesauce
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons chopped candied ginger
3 jalapenos, seeded and finely chopped

  • Preheat oven to 400.
  • Prepare large cast iron skillet or cake pan (or if preferred, these can be made in muffin tins, this will make about 24) by spraying lightly with nonstick cooking spray.
  • In a large bowl, add the flour, corn meal, sugar, baking soda, and salt.
  • Slowly add in the milk and applesauce, mixing until just incorporated (no big lumps).
  • Fold in jalapenos and ginger.
  • Add batter to prepared baking pan.  Bake until golden brown on top and firm to the touch.  About 35 minutes for pan, 20 for muffin sized.

Remove from oven and allow to cool before cutting and serving.

Project 52: The Recipes Week 31, Zucchini Season… and walnut parm

Zucchini Potato Bake with Walnut Parm

Zucchini Potato Bake with Walnut Parm

Another week, another cheesy replacement.  This week, we tackle the abundance of the summer squash and discuss my excellent experimentation with the much maligned (by me) walnut.

Yes, I’ve often dissed on the walnut, reserving it only for my spicier muffins and scoffing at its appearance in cookies, fudge, and salads. But I’m big enough to admit that I can change, and perhaps I have been wrong about the walnut… much like I was about cauliflower.  Just as I’ve been known to now eat an entire head of cauli in a day, I might have been seen noshing on a handful of walnuts leaving the gym once in a while.  People change, and if I have learned anything on my plant-based journey the last five years, it’s that our tastes don’t stay the same (unless we are talking bananas, and I am pretty confident that will never change for me).

This week’s recipe is a take on the (*take a deep breathe*) Zucchini, Potato, Tomato Gratin Bake… whew! At least, that’s what Martha Stewart called on her website.  But mine is a helluva lot less fat, and a whole lot more flavor.  Oil coats the tongue and you lose the connection with the full flavor of your food.  Some oil is used in the making of this, but I found it was mostly unnecessary.  The recipe is a bit oven intensive, so I prepped in the earlier part of the day and left the last bit of cooking until evening when I was ready to eat.  This also reheated the next day nicely (I used the toaster oven).  I don’t think you could get more than two days out of this, so plan accordingly and adjust the amounts below as needed (mine made two very large servings with a lot of left over walnut parm).  The walnut parm can be kept for a while in the fridge, so if you make extra, you can use it later for other recipes where you may include Parmesan.

Zucchini Potato Bake with Walnut Parm
1 medium zucchini sliced
2 medium russet potatoes, scrubbed and thinly sliced
2 large tomatoes thinly sliced
1 cup raw walnuts
2 Tablespoons raw pepitas
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon course sea salt
1/4 teaspoon dried lemon (alternately you can use lemon rind)*
1 Tablespoon melted coconut oil

  • Preheat oven to 250.  Arrange tomato slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake for 15 minutes until soft and skins start to crack.
  • Remove from oven and increase temperature to 375.
  • Set tomatoes aside to cool and discard used parchment paper.
  • Spray baking sheet with a nonstick spray and layer potatoes on sheet.
  • Bake potatoes for 20-30 minutes, depending on thickness, until they are just starting to turn a light golden brown.
  • Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
  • Heat a heavy bottom frying pan and add zucchini one layer at a time (use nonstick spray as needed to prevent sticking–a little water will also work).  Flip each slice and slightly brown each side.  Continue until all slices have been browned.
  • While zucchini is cooling, add walnuts, pepitas, nutritional yeast, salt, and lemon to a high speed blender or food processor and pulse until crumbly.  You don’t want it to turn to a paste, but you do not want any large pieces.
  • In a medium size baking dish, layer the zucchini, potato, and tomato into rows until all are used, drizzle with the coconut oil.  Sprinkle generously with walnut parm.
  • You store covered in the refrigerator at this point, for up to a day, until ready to bake.  When ready, heat oven to 400 degrees and bake until  bubbly and golden.  Depending on if refrigerated first, baking times will vary… 20-35 minutes.

Serve warm.

Project 52: The Recipes Week 30, Thai Inspired Mac & Cheez

Thai Mac Cheez

Thai Mac & Cheez

In one of those moments where I wanted comfort food, but I wanted something also creamy and slightly spicy…. growing up cheese was my go to comfort food. It was also the thing I had the hardest time with when ultimately going 100% plant-based.  Sure, there are decent enough options (especially now, when vegan cheese has become the holy grail and everyone has upped their games), but I’ve always said, no food is worth a migraine and the reaction I learned my system had from dairy.  Simply put–not your mother, not your milk.  Moving on…

I’ve made some really good mac and cheez kind of dishes in the past.  And now that I realize it’s the creaminess of the dish, with the slight tangy, nutty taste I crave, I can easily replicate it–and take it leaps and bounds beyond the simple dish of long ago.  This recipe was no exception.  When I initially thought up the idea–could I make something with Thai inspired spice out of the non-palate offending tradition.  Hell yeah! I could, I did, and I ate it all week long with a pang of regret when it was gone.  I actually look forward to making this again in the autumn as I think it will pair nicely with a crisp evening breeze and the scent of leaves turning gold and crimson.

Thai Inspired Mac & Cheez
2 cups raw cashews (soaked 4-6 hours if you don’t have a high speed blender)
3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk*
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
2 Tablespoons Thai garlic chili sauce
1/2 – 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (to taste)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon lemon juice
8 ounces dry macaroni
2 cups chopped kale or chard

  • Bring an oven safe pot of water to a boil and add the macaroni, cooking as per brand instructions.
  • In a high speed blender, or food processor, add the cashews, almond milk, basil, garlic chili sauce, red pepper, salt, nutritional yeast, and lemon.  Blend until smooth and creamy, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed.
  • If the sauce seems too thick, add a little water–one tablespoon at a time until thick and creamy.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • When pasta is done, drain into a strainer and add the sauce to the pot. Bring to a simmer and add back in the cooked pasta and chopped greens.
  • Remove from stove and finish by baking 25-30 minutes in oven.  Top will be golden and bubbly.

Allow to cool 10-15 minutes before serving.  Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.  Reheat by mixing in a little water before microwaving or gently reheating on the stove.

*Any non dairy milk will work here (use plain, unsweetened).  For a more authentic Thai taste, a culinary coconut milk would be ideal, though you may need a little extra water to reach the desired consistency as coconut milk is much thicker.

Project 52: The Creatives Week 28, song of a broken man

Facades of faces and people I’ve known. I’m the person you want in an emergency: level and cool, decisive–fast to forge ahead. But that’s not who I am in your life. The gut wrenching scars are deep and raw at times; biding the quiet moment to snap and crackle their way through the night when all you want to do is sleep. But that’s how it is, and how it always has been. If our demons can’t make friends, we can’t sleep in the same bed.

Project 52: The Recipes Week 29: Yucca Fries

Yucca Fries

Yucca Fries

Yucca fries are one of my guilty indulgences. And frankly, they aren’t all that bad as they are oven baked with minimal oil; but I can’t stop eating them when I make them.  It never occurred to me to actually write it up as a recipe, but every time I buy yucca in the store, or mention yucca fries in conversation (it comes up), I end up explaining how I prepare it.

You can buy yucca frozen already, but it’s about 100 times less expensive to just buy a yucca and prepare yourself.  It takes about 10 minutes longer.

 

Yucca Fries
1 pound yucca root
1 Tablespoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon salt

  • Peel yucca (a potato peeler works well) and cut into sections about 3-4 inches long.  Quarter the sections (for larger yucca, cut into eights).
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  • Add yucca to pot and boil until slightly fork tender.  This should take around 5-8 minutes depending on the thickness of your pieces.
  • If you want, you can freeze yucca you aren’t ready to bake at this point.
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Lay yucca pieces on a baking sheet lined with parchment, or nonstick spray.  (I often use a large cast iron pan for this.)
  • Drizzle with coconut oil and sprinkle with salt.
  • Bake 10-12 minutes and then carefully turn the pieces. Bake another 8-10 minutes until golden.

Serve hot with your favorite dipping sauce, or plain if preferred.

Yucca Root

Yucca Root

Yucca, ready to boil

Yucca, ready to boil

Project 52: The Recipes Week 28: Blueberry Zucchini Muffins

Blueberry Zucchini Muffin

Blueberry Zucchini Muffin

Blueberry season is upon us; and though I’ve yet to go on my annual sojourn to collect copious quarts of berries, I still picked up a good number of New Jersey’s finest to hold me over until I can pick. It’s also zucchini season and the farm was offering up several small squash that I just couldn’t resist.   I wanted bread; toasty zucchini bread, smothered in sweet Biscoff spread, or jam, or just warm and spicy from the toaster oven.  And then, a late game time decision was made when the big muffin pan came flying out of the cupboard–and I made muffins.  Great big giant muffins–that were even better than toasty, spicy bread. Though it is important to note that there is nothing better than anything smothered in Biscoff spread. Why shouldn’t cookies be pureed into a spread? It’s freaking brilliant, if not probably a huge mistake among people with spoons.

Muffins or bread??

Muffins or bread??

Anyway, the recipe can make bread, too, but I’d cut back to about half the amount of blueberries–otherwise the larger size of the bread might not hold up as well. But I’d do the muffins, and keep all those sweet juicy berries.

Blueberry Zucchini Muffins
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon stevia or additional 1 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 Tablespoon hemp seeds
1 Tablespoon flax seed meal plus 3 Tablespoons luke warm water
1 1/4 cup almond milk
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/4 cups shredded zucchini
2 cups blueberries
1/3 cup shredded coconut (optional)

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Add flax seed meal to water, mix and set aside until it gels (about 4-5 minutes).
  • Combine all dry ingredients, and make a well in the center.
  • Add flax mixture, milk, lemon juice to the dry. Mix until just incorporated.
  • Fold in hemp seeds, coconut, zucchini and blueberries.
  • Spray muffin tins with nonstick spray and spoon in batter, filling the cups with batter.
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden.  Tops will feel firm to the touch, and spring back.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool 5-10 minutes in the pan before carefully transferring to cooling rack.

Enjoy.

 

Project 52: The Creatives Week 27, coffee in brooklyn

in brooklyn

At first, I couldn’t remember having been to that neighborhood; but the pieces of a memory–one after another sprinkled the day as coffee was sipped, squirrels flew, and Brooklyn rocked. The Slavic accents echoing off crimson colored doors–a welcoming warning.

It could have been any place. Anywhere, really. A cup of bad coffee always lends itself to hearing your smile, “But, oh, it’s still coffee.”

It could have been the N train, and a large coffee on a Queens to Brooklyn local heading to Coney Island.

It could have been either of you, maybe both. The street art, the people watching, the Americano, the bridge–we weren’t alone.

 

Project 52: The Creatives Week 26, Those and Them

Sometimes I still see his eyes staring back at me… such a clear blue it reminded me of a summer blossom. Ironic to have such a thought for someone so evil.  I wish I remembered more, like his name–or why he did what he did. The alleged, I supposed. Still (un)wanted.  There is no way I’d recognize the face, but the eyes sent chills down the back and into my ankles; cramping, rendering immobile the innate desire to flee. That’s probably what happened. Honestly, I never think of him, except when I am missing you.