censored cake

What happens on your neighborhood lounge's back patio stays on your neighborhood lounge's back patio?

I have a sneaking suspicion that Jeff and Maeve, the dear friends and culinary artists behind what’s coming below, knew this cake would be censored in order to ease up on decorating costs.

Inside the box lies my custom-designed, 28th birthday cake, emblazoned with a hilarious and offensive in-joke, and the most thrilling trio of maple, pretzel & peanut butter that has ever existed (to me, anyway). I doubt it could ever happen again, unless Evan was involved.

It was amazing, and I was joking earlier about the decor, because I thought it was all fantastic! I hadn’t seen a cake this exciting since my sophomore year of college and the Alec Baldwin-penis cake from Sweet-N-Nasty bakery. A positive, maturing night to remember, nearly a decade before.

The big semi-reveal:

Maple. Pretzel. Peanut Butter. Any guesses?

Friends. Portland. Vegetable Gifts. Vegan Cake. Love ‘em.

p.s. Naturally, I went to Portobello for dinner on my birthday and swooned over pan-fried gnocchi with summer squash. It’s a Portland vegan tradition.

clean out the fridge Pra Ram style noodle dinner

fridge food

Quite recently, I purchased peanut butter after forgetting it existed for a couple of months.  I was glad I did, because it came to the rescue the other night on an almost too-warm-to-cook, clean-out-the-fridge-for-dinner evening. I was grasping for ideas and near gasping for breath until I remembered that I had just enough odds and ends of vegetables and to lightly cook and pair with an easy peanut sauce.  The sliced tofu was the last piece of Nasoya extra firm that had been marinating in a light fishy mixture of crumbled nori, soy sauce, vegetarian fish sauce, mirin, and fresh ginger.

The completed meal was reminiscent of Pra Ram, but served with buckwheat rice vermicelli, as opposed to a bed of greens or steamed rice.  I dig this type of vermicelli because it’s cheap, versatile, and remains sturdier vs. the traditional rice version – especially as leftovers.

Satisfyingly served at room temperature, and sprinkled with gomasio.

clean out the fridge

The extra peanut sauce is requesting some satay action. Dip party to commence.

Picture 020

One last thing – I’m quite possibly in love with my new tablecloth.

Dharma Veggie Burger with Namaste Sauce

Dharma Veggie Burger topped with Namaste Peanut Sauce and the appropriate refreshment

Straight from the pages of an unearthed 1973 Dharma Initiative Food Protocol Manual.

A tropical twist on a meat-less burger with one of the group’s tightly sealed secrets – creamy Namaste Peanut sauce.  According to the scribbled notes on the recipe, it was a Horace-approved, special occasion favorite.

The Dharma Veggie Burger consists of the Island’s finest produce: fresh pineapple rounds, sliced cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced red beets, green leaf lettuce and tomato.  All fruits and vegetables were sprinkled with fresh lime, freshly ground pepper, and a splash of soy sauce before grilling.

Choose your grilled rounds and additions, get stacking, and saucing!

Namaste Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of light coconut milk
  • 3 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce, tamari or Coconut Aminos, if you have it
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 small shallot
  • 1 tsp grated ginger, or pinch of ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon Sambal Olek
  • 1/2 fresh lime
  • 1 teaspoon dark agave nectar
  • 1 teaspoon Indian curry powder (to give it that little Namaste-something)
  • dash toasted sesame oil

Directions:

  • Puree in a blender or food processor.
  • Transfer to a small sauce pot on the stove.
  • Bring to a boil, frequently stirring with a whisk.  If it not thick enough, stir in more peanut butter. If too thick, stir in water, by the tablespoon.
  • Lower heat.
  • Spoon or spread onto burger, as desired.

Namast-hey

Serve on a small sourdough bun with a cold Dharma brand stout to wash it all down.  Just perfect after a long day at the Barracks. Namas-tasty, if you will.

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If you’re in the know, tap into my post from the flash sideways – Dr. Pierre Chang’s twist on country favorites – including an old-fashioned Sweet Potato. pie.

dude, everyone has a curried butternut soup recipe.

who doesn't have a curried squash soup recipe?

Fact or Fiction: Last spring, I sent in my registration materials for the NWFBP (NorthWest Food Bloggers Picnic) and was rejected!  Their response letter gave one sole reason: I had never featured a photo of butternut squash soup.

Eventually, I decided to right this wrong, and mildly adapted a recipe from The Food Network via some Nova Scotian firefighters, so you know there was potential. There’s only so many ways you can go with butternut soup, but with the assistance of my precious Vita-Mix, that half a jar of peanut butter sitting around, and locally based, Thai and True curry paste, it was totally to my liking.

Yellow Curry, Peanut Buttery, Butternut Squashy Soup

(adapted from The Food Network CA)

serves 4-ish

Ingredients:

  • 1 stalk of celery, chopped
  • ½ yellow or sweet onion, roughly chopped
  • 1.5-2 cups of slightly mashed, roasted butternut squash (from 1 small squash, or half a large one, or canned)
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (use more if you like more heat!)
  • 1 teaspoon of yellow curry paste (I use Thai and True)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, more to taste
  • Dash of freshly ground black pepper, more to taste.
  • 3 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • ½ cup peanut butter, chunky or creamy
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Directions:

  1. In a large sauce pan or stockpot, sauté the chopped onion and celery in the peanut oil for 5-7 minutes on medium heart, until they begin to soften.
  2. Add the crushed red pepper and garlic, sauté an additional 2 minutes, stirring often.  Lower the heat if needed.
  3. Add the curry paste, salt and pepper; stir well.
  4. Stir in the peanut butter, broth, roasted squash and light coconut milk.
  5. Turn the heat up, bring to a boil, turn the heat low and simmer covered for 30 minutes.
  6. Use an immersion blender to puree to your liking, or slowly, carefully transport to a blender and puree till smooth.
  7. Return to pot, stir in agave and lemon juice.
  8. Serve with additional salt and pepper, if desired. Enjoy.