Carrot Ginger Zinger Soup

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 As the colder weather sets in and the gray days get shorter, it is time for soup season to begin! This is one of my favorite soups to transition from the long summer days outside into the cooler autumn afternoons in my kitchen. My beloved soup pot eagerly awaits this treasure! The rich colors and flavors of root vegetables paired with the zing of fresh ginger make this a deliciously light meal that packs a nutritional punch. Lots of vitamin C and antioxidants boost the immune system for the cold and flu season right around the corner. I like to add steamed kale and roasted chicken to my zinger soup to make it a full meal deal with plenty of protein and leafy greens. InJoy!

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2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup chopped white onion

4 cups chopped carrots

4 cups vegetable broth

1 cup orange juice

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh peeled ginger

1 tablespoon lemon juice

14-ounce can coconut milk

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1) Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes.

2) Add the carrots, broth, orange juice, ginger, and lemon juice; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the carrots are tender, about 20 minutes.

3) Remove from the heat. Puree with immersion blender or food processor, until very smooth.

4) Return the soup to the saucepan and stir in the coconut milk, salt, and pepper. Reheat the soup over medium heat until hot. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve.

Culinary Adventure

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Food and travel have sparked my imagination and ignited my daydreams as long as I can remember. It occurred to me recently, while looking through old photographs and reflecting on past travel experiences, how deeply my interest and love of food has been enhanced by my adventures in other cultures.

In 2002, while spending a few weeks traveling around Holland and Germany with friends by bicycle, my love for coffee grew as we made our way down the coastline. I can almost remember the exact moment. I certainly remember my surroundings and the view from the little café table on the beach in Zandvoort. The tiny cup of espresso served with a delicious, perfectly sweet, butter cookie. The rich, thick coffee, strong yet subtle flavors, it’s steam swirling above.. I fell in love right there! It very well could have been the caffeine and sugar, but hey.

IMG_6626After that came learning the gourmet adventurer meal preparation. For 3 consecutive summers, 2009-2011, I offered massage therapy sessions on a 7-day yoga and white water rafting retreat down the Salmon and Snake rivers. I have always loved rivers and sleeping outdoors, but in my experience, that environment came at the expense of delicious food. It blew me away how well we ate on those river trips! The gear boats packed up with everything from fresh fruits and vegetables grown in the garden of the outfitter in Joseph, Oregon, to grass fed beef raised just a few blocks away from the rafting company. I loved watching the guides create a 4-course meal for 14 people out of a tub of random ingredients and a cooler. Spices, wine, peach cobbler, bacon… those dinners sitting around the campfire with a guitar, after a long sunny day of rafting and hiking, were something to remember!

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In 2007, I ventured off on my first big solo adventure… a summer exploring Southeast Asia by train, plane, boat, motorbike and tuk tuk. It was the most I have ever explored my taste buds as well. Fried tarantula in Cambodia. Cocoa covered crickets in Laos. Fresh, ripe Mangosteen and the most delicious tropical fruit smoothies, picked right from the trees in Thailand. I had never experienced anything like it!

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Until 2012 that is, when I spent another month in Thailand living out of a backpack. Long luxurious days on white sand beaches, drinking fresh coconuts from a hammock and swimming in the warm turquoise ocean. Indulging in the most incredible Thai food created by tiny old ladies serving from street carts with plastic tables perched next to them. This time, I was so inspired by the food I experienced, I spent three days in an authentic Thai food cooking course in the northern mountainous region of Lampang. If you love food and cooking and immersing yourself in an unfamiliar culture, learning the depth and beauty of exotic lands, I highly recommend a culinary adventure! IMG_6013 This year, I have set clear intentions of bringing more of the things I love together on a regular basis. Creating the opportunity to mix cooking, farming, massage therapy, teaching and travel! If you own a sailboat and are looking for a crew member to cook and give massages… if you have connections to retreat centers that would like to offer cooking/nutrition classes, massage therapy etc… or if you know of an organic farm that would like an extra set of hands working the dirt, consider me a part of your team! I would love to hear from you!

Finally, I have been asked by several clients to share some photos from my culinary adventures. Below is a series, all things food, from my last trip to Thailand. Injoy!

There is nothing quite like a delicious dinner on a warm, tropical beach! Thank you for giving me nourishment, Red Snapper!!  KohTao, Thailand.

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My favorite kind of breakfast… Colorful!! Enjoyed with an ocean breeze and inspiration to write!

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The night market… Chaing Mai, Thailand. So much delicious food!!

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Most menus throughout SE Asia look like some version of this…

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…the food always came out amazing, though! Usually some version of this… 🙂

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Smart Cook, Thai Cookery School!! The day begun with a walk to the local market to get a little lesson on Thai cooking ingredients. Vegetables, fruits, herbs etc.

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We then walked to the train station and road the rails about 30 minutes east from Chaing Mai to Lampang. (Pictured is a Anika, a lovely girl from Norway I met in the course and ended up traveling with for a couple of weeks.)

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Arriving in Lampang, our course leader Pung greeted us and instructed each of us to choose a bike! We rode another couple of miles to the farm where all of the food we would be cooking with was grown.

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My favorite part about the experience (besides biking through the beautiful Thai countryside, meeting so many wonderful people, playing with baby chickens, eating all. day. long…) was how interactive each step of the course was. From harvesting our own vegetables and herbs to learning the traditional way to serve an authentic Thai dish.

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The next morning we gathered and made our way to the kitchen where the hands-on cooking and magic making would take place. Each station under the covered patio had the view of a beautiful jungle garden and the farm we had harvested our food from the day prior. The indoor classrooms had long countertops extending through the center and a cutting board and set of knives at each station. Little bottles with labels I couldn’t read lined the wall.

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The following 2 days continued in a blur of cooking, eating, chopping, drinking, laughing, eating, napping, cooking, eating… curries, Phad Thai, spring rolls, papaya salad, Thai beef, tom yum soup, mango and sticky rice, deep fried bananas…

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And I even got a cookbook to take home and try the recipes out on my own! I have collected the obscure ingredients from a small Asian shop in south Seattle and attempted to recreate a couple of the dishes I made on that tropical farm day in Thailand. They were good, but not amazing. There is something about the energy of creating food and building a meal with the local, ethnic ingredients harvested right there… prepared with the creativity of the land that inspired it. Like you can taste the history. So worth a trans-continental flight!

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Aaaaaand… This has absolutely nothing to do with food, but the tiger sanctuary was certainly a highlight of visiting northern Thailand. Browsing through photos of this particular day brought back the incredibly warm and fuzzy awesomeness of this experience. Injoy!

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Thanksgiving 2013! Lessons Learned and a Lovely Day in Photos

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Things have been pretty eventful around the Delightenment Kitchen so far this holiday season. Thanksgiving was a wonderful day filled with friends, relaxation, some beautiful sunny outdoor time and plenty of cooks in the kitchen. No holiday is right without a few missteps and opportunities to learn something new. Here are a few tips I learned, followed by Thanksgiving 2013 in photos!

1) Oven bags are not brining bags. This is kind of a no-brainer, I realize. (Or a no-briner, really. Hehe.) Somehow I thought I could make it work. (With a 20lb turkey! Silly girl.) Though, after running around to any open grocery store in the area at 10pm Wednesday night, the boys saved the day with a cooler just the right size. That little blue cooler is now the official tool for large meat marinating.

2) Always ALWAYS check (and re-check) your instant read thermometer and make sure it is not set to Celsius. This mishap was caught just in time and only resulted in the bird being a few more degrees than intended.

3) Wrapping the turkey in bacon once it’s breast side up is delicious, keeps the meat moist and makes the most wonderful gravy I’ve ever tasted. It also may cause a grease fire.

4) When a grease fire erupts and threatens to engulf the kitchen:

1. Do not blow on it.

2. Do not whip a towel at it.

3. Do not run around the kitchen with your hands over your head yelling. It’s not helpful.

4. Don’t bother with the fire extinguisher (it’s just too messy).

5. DO grab some white vinegar and baking soda, mix in a jar (quickly) and toss it at the base of the fire. This chemical reaction creates carbon dioxide and smothers the fire. Thanks Titus!!

5) And lastly, I’ve known this since childhood, it’s always my favorite part of the holiday season, but here it is anyway… Pumpkin pie, especially the gluten-free, dairy-free (made with coconut milk, yum!) low sugar variety that Katie creates, makes an excellent breakfast! Even better thank dessert! I’m thinking next year we should have one for dessert and make one specifically for breakfast the next couple of days.

Anywho… A photo essay. (Recipes will be included in a follow up post.) Injoy!

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Citrus fruits and delicious herbs from the garden for brining.

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The turkey’s in!! Molasses, plenty of pink sea salt and lots of love.

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I have never seen the dogs quite so attentive as when I’m rubbing butter and spices under the skin of a 20 lb. turkey!

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Slow simmering the neck and organs into a stock on the stovetop makes for a delicious and nutritious base for gravy!

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Bird goes in breast side down for the first hour or so to ensure a slower cooking of the tender breast meat.

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Don’t forget to have a good breakfast! We went with green smoothies and latkes (Happy Chanukah) made by Titus!

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The ladies carried on the tradition of taking a walk and collecting lots of live natural objects for the centerpiece. Here’s Pepper putting on the finishing touches.

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Orange cranberry sauce on it’s way….

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Delicata squash roasted with cinnamon, cloves, coriander and nutmeg.Also, brussel sprouts with shallots and maple smoked bacon.

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Lightly blanched green beans with ginger and garlic. Scalloped potatoes with goat cheese and fresh herbs.

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I will totally buy the love of dogs with bacon. That is all.

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Aaaaaaand… the guest of honor. Thank you delicious turkey for sacrificing your life so that we may come together and be nourished and celebrate. Also, the pig who’s bacon got into several dishes and was even wrapped around the turkey for a good portion of the roasting. (Not pictured.) Namaste.

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Dessert time! Gluten-free, dairy-free pumpkin pie; GF/DF apple crumble pie, with apples from the front yard tree. And (oops) frozen coconut whipped cream!! Such a wonderful meal with lots of fantastic leftovers!

Thanksgiving Traditions and Pumpkin Seeds!

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I’ve been thinking a lot about traditions recently. Highlights of childhood that still exist in yearly practice, and others that have faded into distant memory. For me, the holidays seem to harness the most abundant traditions, particularly as a child. Gathering at church to sing carols on Christmas eve, then getting to open one present under the tree before bed; the large juicy orange we always found at the bottom of our stockings on Christmas morning; running around the neighborhood banging wooden spoons against pots and pans to ring in the new year with a loud ruckus; huge Easter egg hunts in frilly dresses with all of my siblings and friends. Our traditions were about celebration. Family time, connection, silliness. These days, in addition to the connection and silly time, the traditions that permeate my life tend to revolve around food. Food is a part of me. It’s how I express my love and creativity. How I lose and then rediscover myself. How I connect to the seasons.

There’s the 3-day, completely from scratch, cherry pie for Katie’s birthday in July; the autumn trip to the pumpkin patch to pick out pumpkins, carve them, then roast the seeds (This is a newer one, but it counts.); and the yearly Thanksgiving feast at the Boys Haus. This will be the 11th year our little chosen family has celebrated the holidays in this special home. The core group of us have all lived there or at least stayed for a length of time over the years. For me, it was for several months when I moved back from California in 2003, then again in 2007 when returning from travelling in Southeast Asia. These days Jasson and Titus are the main inhabitants of the Boys Haus, with Katie and I visiting most weekends. We all have our stories and our personal connection to this little yellow house, and our years of Thanksgivings are among my warmest and fondest memories. The love and intention everyone puts into the dishes they bring to share, the collaboration of all of the conscious kitchens in our friend circle. Our largest attendance was 30 people one year, tomorrow I’m expecting a more modest 15 or so. I will head north and join Katie in the kitchen tonight. I’ll prepare the turkey fixins, get the bird brining for at least 8-10  hours and get the kitchen ready for tomorrow’s full house. She’ll make pies and we’ll prep several of the dishes to make room for turkey to be in the oven all day tomorrow. We’ll laugh and make a schedule for kitchen use and will most likely open a bottle of wine and really dive in. With so much to be thankful for, I love spreading our celebration into 2 days! I hope that you will be sharing Thanksgiving with your most favorite people, nourishing yourselves with the best foods available and honoring all that there is in life to truly have gratitude for!

As there will most certainly be pumpkin pie from scratch, here’s what I’ll be doing with those fresh seeds we dig out! Injoy!

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 Roasted Pumpkin Seeds With a Kick

       Ingredients 

One medium sized pumpkin

Salt

Olive oil

–Variations–

1. Season to taste with Cinnamon, a tiny bit of maple syrup, a pinch of sea salt and cayenne pepper

2. Season to taste with cumin, turmeric and sea salt

3. Season to taste with rosemary, garlic and sea salt

Instructions

1 Cut open the pumpkin by cutting a circle around the stem end with a sharp knife (knife blade angled in), and pulling off the top. Use a strong metal spoon to scrape the insides of the pumpkin and scoop out the seeds and strings. Place the mass of pumpkin seeds in a colander and run under water to rinse and separate the seeds from everything else.

2 Measure the pumpkin seeds in a cup measure. Place the seeds in a medium saucepan. Add 2 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of salt to the pan for every half cup of pumpkin seeds. Add more salt if you would like your seeds to be saltier. Bring the salted water and pumpkin seeds to a boil. Let simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and drain.

3 Preheat the oven to 400°F. Coat the bottom of a roasting pan or thick baking sheet with olive oil, about a tablespoon. Spread the seeds out over the roasting pan in a single layer, and toss them a bit to coat them with the oil on the pan. Season with one of the spice blend variations. Bake on the top rack until the seeds begin to brown, 5-20 minutes, depending on the size of the seeds. Small pumpkin seeds may toast in around 5 minutes or so, large pumpkin seeds may take up to 20 minutes. Keep an eye on the pumpkin seeds so they don’t get over toasted. When lightly browned, remove the pan from the oven and let cool on a rack. Let the pumpkin seeds cool all the way down before eating.

Either crack to remove the inner seed (a lot of work and in my opinion, unnecessary) or eat whole.

**Also check out this recipe for cilantro and pumpkin seed pesto!