Spring Foraging for Berries

yogurt, granola and foraged berries

While last spring was remarkable because the world had shut down, spring this year is remarkable as parts of the world start to slowly re-emerge. It was a collective, tragic, exhausting hibernation the past 16 months. When things dramatically stopped last year, my senses became more acute to the subtle, beautiful things in my life, such as wild flowers sprouting from sidewalk cracks, the remarkable shades of green leaves in the forest behind my home, and the symphony of birds that awoke me early every morning.

The covid winter was challenging in many ways but I was very fortunate to always be in good health. On the food front, I became uninspired in my daily cooking and my diet devolved into mainly smoothies, popcorn, and salads. My sole cooking inspiration was to bake breads and cakes for friends and family and the ingredients that were exciting were the ones that I foraged.

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Very berry charoset

Very Berry Charoset

I created this charoset recipe to use one of my favorite flavor combinations, along with many of the dried berries and fruits I love, such as goji berries, barberries, cherries, elderberries and raisins. But, you could really use any combination of  your favorite dried fruits. If you can make this in advance and let it soak overnight, the flavors become more pronounced and the berries plump. Continue reading

Purim Treat: Vegan Orange, Tahini, Olive Oil Cake

Orange, tahini, olive oil vegan cake

The best thing I bought during the pandemic was a bright yellow Le Creuset loaf pan. The pan is so versatile and I’ve used it to make bread, cakes, truffles and polenta. I love giving people loaves of cake and bread as Covid gifts. And, with Purim starting in a few days, I think that in addition to hamantaschen, loaf cakes would be a delicious addition to mishloach manot this year. Loaf cakes are a simple, unassuming and easy. I also love using tahini and will find any opportunity to use it in a recipe. I adapted this recipe to make this light, moist, not overly sweet cake. Below the recipe I also included links to my other Purim recipes. Continue reading

Malawach and Jachnun

Malawach with date syrup

I am late to the party but finally joined the Covid baking club. I’ve got my sourdough starter, a fridge filled with a variety of flours, and a lot of time this winter to bake! I recently listened to a podcast interview with Israeli chefs Gil Hovav and Einat Admony (love the food at her veg restaurant Taim) and they talked about so many of the incredible Yemenite foods they grew up eating, which humbly inspired me to try to make some, including two breads, malawach and jachnun. Continue reading

Vegan Malabi with Roasted Fruit

vegan malabi with orange water infused roasted fruit.

Malabi is an amazing, delicious Middle Eastern dessert that is popular in Israel. I used to go a little cafe with a few wooden tables near Shouk Hacarmel in Tel Aviv for vegan malabi (not sure if the place served anything else besides vegan malabi and coffee. Its malabi was so good that it could perhaps get by with just serving it). It came in a little glass jar topped with a dollop of jam and was a perfect small sweet treat.

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Fall Foraging: Mushrooms

I have had the great opportunity to trample through the woods and fields just outside Rock Creek National Park to forage for edible plants, berries, flowers and mushrooms this fall. Foraging aside, I have spent endless hours during Covid inside Rock Creek park. I joke that it is my second home but it really is: I don’t start any morning now without hiking or biking in it, no matter the weather, and end many days with a quick jaunt on trails. Spending so much time in Rock Creek has made me keenly aware of the subtle changes every day to the spectacular landscape from the multitude of distinct shades of green leaves in early spring to the trails disappearing afoot as they become layered with leaf cover in the fall. And, my connection to the land has deepened as I have learned about the myriad edible plants and mushrooms living in it.

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Sukkot: Roasted Apples and Yams with Barberries

Roasted apple and yam with barberries

Like everything else, this is an unusual Sukkot. But due to my COVID routine, I have had the privilege for a deeper physical and sensory connection to the holiday’s harvest themes. It includes more time to tend to edible plants on my balcony and long hikes in woods filled with mushrooms and other edibles. And while the holiday celebrates an agricultural harvest, I like to more broadly think of it as a way to celebrate all of our food sources, whether foraged or grown on a farm. Last weekend, I went on a guided foraging trip just a few miles from my house. In a mere mile long walk, we found more than a dozen edibles, including black walnuts, shiso, sorrel, burr cucumbers, American persimmon, and turkey tail mushrooms. We nibbled little bits of each plant along the way but left everything there for birds and other creatures to enjoy. Continue reading

Roasted Carrots for Rosh Hashana

Rosh Hashana roasted carrots

As we prepare to celebrate Rosh Hashana to mark the birth of the world, it’s hard not to be confused and/or overwhelmed at times by the surreal world we are now living in. From COVID to wildfires to flooding to addressing systemic racism, our physical reality is forever altered.

The past six months have brought to the forefront of our daily lives both the devastating consequences of human actions that are the most un-God-like, but also the incredible, resilient, responses by humans to these crises.  When we wish people a healthy, good new year, I cannot think of a time when this has ever meant more than now, for all beings.

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Covid/Chagim Care Packages

Roasted stone fruit

I love hosting people for meals and giving gifts for pretty much any opportunity possible. So, like so much else, this part of my life was upended by COVID, until I was inspired by my friend Jodi to give people “COVID care” packages. It’s like giving Purim mishloach manot, but all the time. Each one is just filled with homemade, individually wrapped treats and a note.  Living in a socially distant and digitized/online world now, these care packages are a way to connect with people and offer a little surprise that might shift an otherwise very routine COVID day. And, now, with high holidays soon approaching, the COVID care packages can be repurposed for the chagim. Continue reading

Vegan Sourdough Challah

Bread, a basic, humble food represents so much of what is happening during the pandemic. While some are fortunate to nourish their creativity and yearning for comfort foods by becoming amateur bakers, others line up 24 hours in advance at food banks to secure loaves of bread and other foods.  Bread highlights so many of our society’s problems, from the injustices of food access and increasing food insecurity during COVID, to the brokenness of food systems (such as the contrasting shortages of flour in supermarkets compared with food banks), to access to healthy foods (homemade breads, sometimes with heirloom grains versus processed), and the luxury of those of us with time and resources to delve into baking bread. Continue reading