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Mostly Raw Curry Sunflower Oat Energy Bars

Most Raw Curry Sunflower Oat Energy Bars

Snow in the city is dirty. It will soil your shoes, your gloves, your stoop, your snowballs.

Suit up and put your game face on, or that black — and sometimes salty blue — stuff they call snow might stain a piece of your soul, too. It feels little like the soft, white flakes that flow quietly to country lands. Lands where cars stay stationary, kids go sledding and firesides roar.

Most Raw Curry Sunflower Oat Energy Bars

Yet snowfall in the city can also be a magical experience. I see this in ways far different than where I grew up. It comes in ways that remind me why I’m carrying out my youthful years in an urban setting.

Most Raw Curry Sunflower Oat Energy Bars

For one, while schools might shut down, often the community does not. Where I currently live, on snow days restaurants often remain open. They fill up with afternoon conversation. At the corner of my block, a place lights its fireplace and spreads out its board games. Beer is poured. Coffee is served. Warmth, both literally and socially, can be found in abundance.

My neighborhood’s yoga studio powers through with an evening session taught by a local teacher. I go, as do others, to fill the class, and practice while gazing out the window at the falling white flakes. They remain clean as they hang in the air, and it’s in this moment that I feel like I am “home” again. Back in the country enjoying a piece of serenity.

Following class, I rejoin the bustle. I meet a friend up the street at the fireplace for a beer and a game and good company. And again I remember, this is why I love the city.

Most Raw Curry Sunflower Oat Energy Bars

The start of this year has been a rough one in terms of the weather. I loathe winter. I could do without snow, and even seasons too if I really had to.

Yet, I am constantly reminded of why I still remain on the East Coast, in a state that won’t let me scoot by without being cold, in a city that I’ve grown to love. Surrounded by friends, and not far from family, I’ve learned to survive the cold seasons and even admire some of its parts I hate the most. Snow too has its place, and for now, it seems to be a significant part of my life…like it or not.

So until I get the guts to move far, far away to a new city in warmer lands, you can find me coping in my current city with my baking gear and measuring cups. When snow falls, cooking and tea and adventuring all call — usually in that order, too.

These were whipped up during our last winter storm here in Philly. They make for a healthy snack or breakfast, and are definitely going on my repeat recipe list. Made with antioxidant-rich curry powder and mostly raw ingredients (excluding the peanut butter), their packed with energy. The good kind. The kind you might need to get you through a long winter. Only 31 official days left. Not that I’m counting down or anything.

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Sesame Persimmon Parfait

Sesame Persimmon Parfait

If you’re going to talk about it, do it. If you’re going to do it, do it right.

That’s my resolution for the year. No half-assing things. Less talk, more do.

Within this, one of my missions is to start taking advantage of more things I enjoy. That means making post-work yoga class a bi-weekly routine, not a bi-monthly rarity. (Trust me, a yoga class full of warm people after a wintery, long workday – it feels like a godsend. It’s worth every cent and evening minute.)

This time of year, that also means persimmons. Persimmons, persimmons, persimmons.

Persimmons are worth splurging on at the grocery store, if only to make this recipe alone.

Sesame Persimmon Parfait

Steeped among all the winter citrus, these gems are one of the sweetest fruits of the season, and I mean that in both a literal and non-literal sense. Their  apricot-meets-mango taste is intense, and their short-lived, once-a-year novelty feels even sweeter. Again, they’re a worthy addition to your grocery cart. Especially when they’re foreseeable future includes tahini and maple.

There are two types of persimmons – Fuyu and Hachiya. Both are best when super ripe, but the Hachiya’s in particular need to be matured to the point of softness where they’re shriveled and almost mushy. Otherwise, you’ll be left with this weird, puckery sensation in your mouth. Fuyu’s can be eaten when still slightly firm, but don’t let your impatience get the best of you. These slightly stouter, disk-like versions are best after their color turns from citrusy orange to an almost tomato-like appearance. The body should have a slight give to it, too.

Let’s not just talk about them, let’s do them. And let’s do persimmons right. Pick a few up, let them ripen, and then whip up this divine breakfast. Throw in a few cashews or nuts for some crunch if you’re feeling extra heavenly. Enjoy.

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Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Vegan Coconut Bacon

Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Vegan Coconut Bacon

There’s this new spot that opened up in Philadelphia last year called COOK, designed for cooking demonstrations and classes. It features a 16-seat bar that sits in front of a workspace and large open range, with mirrors that hang above for the audience’s viewing. Here, foodie experts and chefs come to hold tastings and learning sessions. And the audience watches/joins in/eats, depending upon the night’s topic. The place is an absolute gem.

Brussels Sprouts

A newfound friend recently invited me to a vegan Thanksgiving class being held there, which would bring me my first COOK experience. By the end of the experience, I was entirely smitten. I do hope this means more nights there to come.

The event was held by a sweet lady named Rachel who owns Miss Rachel’s Pantry, a vegan catering and delivery service as well as a communal table styled restaurant. During the session, she whipped up recipes like cashew brie with toast, winter veggie stuffed seitan roast, and the recipe I bring you today. As the cooking transpired, the audience tossed out questions while COOK’s event host poured an endless supply of wine. Rachel’s responses were incredibly warm and so was the night.

Coconut Flakes

For me, this salad was definitely the highlight of the menu. I had only ever had coconut bacon once or twice before, and the raw brussels sprout concept was entirely new to my taste buds. Together, they make a combination that gives memory to a salad.

This is a bowl of leaves that’s far, far more than just a salad. With the toasty sunflower seeds, sweet and tart cranberries, and smoky coconut-y bacon, theres a huge depth of flavor going on here, all complimentary to the earthy, cabbage-like flavor of the brussels sprouts.

Brussels Sprouts

COOK often sends you the recipes from their events, which is awesome because I had been planning to recreate this recipe since my last bite. I whipped it up yesterday for a lovely Friendsgiving, and plan to make it again for my family’s own Thanksgiving. When a salad gets rave reviews at a party, you know its worthy of remaking and eating twice within a week’s time. If you don’t get around to it for Thanksgiving, I recommend you bookmark this for later. Thanks Rachel!

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Arugula, Apple and Tempeh Bacon Sandwich with Caramelized Onions

Arugula, Apple and Tempeh Bacon Sandwich

Most times of the year, when I go to the grocery store, 75% of my basket is filled with fruit and vedge. However, lately I’ve been swimming in honeycrisps and butternuts and greens from the farmer’s market where I work. My grocery trips have been minimized, and my produce budget even more so.

Now when I go to the store, I end up with a basket that looks nothing like myself.

tempeh_apple (3 of 3)

I am a people-watcher. I love the art of observing others. So when going stir-crazy in the Whole Foods check-out line, I’m watching. I’m analyzing what the people in front of me plan to make for dinner. I’m picking out recipes for them in my mind, and I’m judging — er, I mean guessing — their lifestyle and personality traits. All from the items cruising their way to the cash register.

I, of course, am also seeking out my future husband. I’m scanning the lines in search of the handsome guy who’s buying figs and sweet potatoes, brazil nuts and oatmeal, and ingredients you can actually cook with. If you need to find me, I’ll be in that line. And hopefully exiting it with dinner plans. Just kidding.

Lately, however, trips to the grocery store have been scarce, and the farmer’s market is my new best friend. From it, I was able to pick up the fresh fall arugula and apples that compose this meal. Complimented by the rich flavors of caramelized onion, curry and parsley, this creates a surprising and satisfying sandwich. I love adding a sweet crunch in unexpected places, and here the apples carry this out beautifully. Choose your favorite eating variety, and make sure to thinly slice.

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Maple Tahini Blueberry Oatmeal

Maple Tahini Blueberry Oatmeal

My summer job used to entail picking blueberries for two hours nearly every morning. What a life, right? I’d stash my iPod in my back pocket, and start plucking away, eating part of my harvest along the way. Looking back at it, I should’ve stashed a spoon and some yogurt in my back pocket, too.

My school’s-out-for-the-summer days are over, meaning my farm girl days are too — for the time being at least. But my blueberry-picking days are not. Every summer, I make sure to take a drive out to the countryside at least once and hit up the local orchards with my mom. This year’s excursion went to strawberries. With red-stained hands and not a care in the world, these are the summer moments I cherish.

An outing to the blueberry bushes still awaits. However, I did manage to snatch up an already picked quart from a farmer’s market near Philly last weekend. I’m convinced, nothing beats fresh blueberries in the summer. At least in the fruit world. (Although, watermelon takes a close second.)

Blueberries

My love for the fruit makes itself present in my kitchen, often warranting a dial on of the oven even amongst the hottest of July days. Blueberry buckle is by far worth the heat. With one bite (and many more to come), there’s just no arguing that.

However, more often than not, desserts and pastries get bypassed and the blue gems are put to use for breakfast. Blueberry oatmeal is my longtime summer staple, carrying me through mornings since 2001.

As a kid, I was always a sucker for blueberry pancakes. While that still rings true today, you’ll find oatmeal far more often on my breakfast table than flapjacks. This particular bowl of oats creates a a healthier, but equally as tasty rendition of a favorite childhood breakfast. Jazzed up with a simple maple-tahini sauce, there’s little to be missed.

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