Self Love, Actually

9EAEF4F9-39E1-4060-9614-EC7448A804AD.jpegPhotography by Juniper & the Sea

“Our bodies are our gardens to which our wills are gardeners.”    William Shakespeare

For as long as I can remember, I had this silly idea that I was overweight, unattractive and unloveable.

I grew up during a time when size negative zero white models and pop stars were idolized. I grew up thinking I had to look like that in order to be seen as attractive. I was never a size 0, and as a multiracial woman, have never looked like Kate Moss or Britney Spears. I was teased for being “fat” throughout elementary school, and when I was in high school I weighed (an apparently obese) 125 pounds! I remember upon turning 18, a friend of mine at the time bought me a sexy bare-midriff halter top for my birthday and said to me something like, “Now that you’ve lost weight, I got you this sexy top you can wear.”

You guys, I was a mere 120 pounds! Great friend, huh? 

That shit stuck with me. Like ever since I was 12 years old my mom would tell me not to smile too wide because then my big nose would stretch out even more. Or that as my weight went up and down that I looked “better skinny.” Or when a friend suggested I get breast implants. Or the time a guy in high school joked in class that I was “as big as an elephant”.

WTF is that?! Like, that’s not even proportionately possible, but it still made me feel all the more insignificant and unattractive. 

My insecurity continued to affect my relationships and my inability to be confident in how I looked at myself, anything I did, or the types of people I attracted. 

Into adulthood and at 30 years old, I suffered from a serious eating disorder after I found out that a boyfriend had cheated on me. In a matter of three days I had lost 11 pounds. In a matter of months I went from a size 8 to a size 2. I was swimming in the bridesmaid dress I was supposed to wear for my friend’s wedding, even though I had been fitted for the dress just months before.

I didn’t eat. I didn’t want to. And this is coming from a woman who graduated from culinary school. Who loved cooking as much as she loved eating. 

What really sucked was that I would post photos of my incredibly shrinking self on social media and would get tons of compliments like: “Omg you look so good!” “You look amazing girl!” “Hottie!” 

It sucks because I was really sick, and those “compliments” were just feeding the disorder. Feeding my desire to lose more and more weight to the point to where I was almost unrecognizable. 

Looking back, I know now that the reason why I punished by body so much during that very dark time was because I wanted to disappear. I didn’t feel that I was pretty enough. Thin enough. Desirable enough. I spent over 3 decades thinking and feeling that I was not enough. That if I was thinner, I would not have ever been cheated on. How fucking stupid is that? I was conditioned to believe that my ex, (who I discovered later on was a legit sociopath) would want me more if I was thinner. Again—how fucking stupid is that?

It wasn’t until later, after more heartbreak and years of getting over all of that baggage, I then started dating myself. Loving myself first. When I finally learned to love and appreciate myself, I discovered something incredible, life-changing, really. I learned that I’m pretty fucking awesome. Just the way I am.

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Why do you build me up? Buttercup?


Desserts in teensy weensy jars and ramekins are so darn cute. This veganized recipe doesn’t require any baking–it’s foolproof and just needs about 2 hours in the fridge to set. That’s right. No butter. No cream, eggs. Nada. You might ask, how does this taste so good without all the dairy? And I’ll say, you won’t even miss it.

Xx Kelly Rae

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Chocolate Vegan Pots de Creme with Gluten-Free Graham Cracker Crumble
Serves 8
By Kelly Rae — A Streetcar Named Devour

FOR THE GRAHAM CRACKER CRUMBLE

INGREDIENTS
1 cup cashews (or whatever nut variety you have in your pantry)
1/2 cup pitted dates
1 Tablespoon coconut flour
1/2 Tablespoon coconut oil, melted
1.5 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

METHOD
Pulse together in a food processor till crumbly.

FOR THE POT DE CREME

INGREDIENTS
2 cups silken tofu (do not use firm tofu)
8 ounces dairy-free dark chocolate, melted (I use Enjoy Life)
3 Tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1 Tablespoon espresso powder (King Arthur Flour makes the best! I got mine via Sur La Table)
1/4 cup cashew milk (or any plant-based milk of your choosing)
1-3 Tablespoons maple syrup (optional, if you like a sweeter pot de creme)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (optional)
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, toasted and for sprinkling

METHOD
Melt the chocolate over a double boiler, making sure not to burn it.

Place all ingredients into a blender and zap till thoroughly blended.

Divvy up into different-sized ramekins or Mason jars, depending on how many portions you need. Layer the graham cracker crumble in between layers of the chocolate puree.

Place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours to fully set.

Serve with toasted shredded coconut. Boom.

Mestiza Pop-Up Part 1!

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Well, this is happening.

I have long dreamt of showcasing my *own* food in a pop-up setting, and thanks to my friends at Opaline’s, it’s finally coming to fruition on Thursday, April 27.

Mestiza is a pop-up series concept paying homage to my multicultural background.

| Mestiza • noun. a woman of mixed racial or ethnic ancestry, especially, in Latin America, of mixed American Indian and European descent or, in the Philippines, of mixed native and foreign descent |

I am mestiza. My mother is mestiza. My maternal and paternal grandmothers are mestiza. I am a product comprised of multicultural mixing.

Part 1 of the series honors my mother’s Spanish and Filipino background. (Yes, that’s her pictured at around the age of 16.)

The menu I’ve created for Part 1 includes my interpretations of: halo-halo, mamon, turon, empanada, ensaymada, and more.

I’m very excited to share my food with you, and I hope to see you there!

Quantities are limited! Please RSVP by E-mail at Astreetcarnameddevour@gmail.com

When: Thursday, April 27 at 5pm till sold out

Where: Opaline’s, 221 SW Ankeny St. (Next to Tryst in Ankeny Alley.)

An Honest Mistake

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I’ve made quite a few mistakes in my life.

Many of whom were the boys I dated. (Woof.)

A few of them were jobs. (Double woof.)

People I trusted.

Maybe a few outfit choices in my younger days.

And about a handful of some very bad haircuts.

But not all mistakes are bad. Some of my favorite mistakes often happen when I’m in the kitchen.

After a long day at work earlier this week, I was craving muffins. Looking around in my pantry I had a tart apple and some strawberries. I researched some recipes and found a gluten-free AND vegan recipe for strawberry and apple muffins. And as any person whose made a few mistakes in their past, this recipe had its own red flags.

First, it didn’t have any egg substitutes. Nor did it have enough fat. After following the recipe step by step, the consistency was quite dry. So dry that it wouldn’t even incorporate properly. I adjusted the fat content by adding some olive oil and a touch more maple syrup.

I baked off 12 of the muffins for about 30 minutes and the muffins just didn’t rise. The texture was off, a bit gritty actually. The flavor was on point, so I didn’t feel that it justified me throwing the entire batch away. Instead, I quickly went into Plan B mode and pulled the pre-baked muffin mess and greased a tart pan. Pressed the still-warm batter into the pan. Placed the crumb tart back into the oven for another 25-30 minutes. I waited till the crust was a beautiful dark golden brown and then pulled it out to cool. The resulting crumb crust was caramel-y buttery, light, sweet from the strawberries and perfectly tart from the apple.

I then prepped the cashew cheesecake batter and filled the cooled tart shell. I only placed the cheesecake in the fridge till it was just set. I topped it with freeze-dried strawberries and a dusting of powdered sugar. But you can add any topping to it. Date caramel would be amazing on this. Coconut caramel would be great as well.

Mistakes aren’t all bad, you see. This one was honestly quite delightful. And it didn’t leave me heartbroken or with a bad hair day.

Kelly Rae

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Mint Condition

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Quick question! What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?

Mine?

Mint + Chip.

Why?

‘Cause it’s double the coolness factor. Frozen in temperature and cooling in flavor. It’s next-level sensory overload. All of your senses are tested:

You SEE the bright green color
You SMELL that crisp scent of mint
You FEEL that cold, refreshing cream melt in your mouth as you bite into those chocolate chunks
You TASTE that creamy delicious mint packed with that bittersweet chocolate

And well, HEAR? If you’ve ever sat next to me while enjoying said ice cream (or pretty much any food I thoroughly enjoy), you’re sure to hear lots of “MMM” sounds. Sorry not sorry.

This year we started a garden on our balcony. It’s taken off and has done considerably well. Even with the sudden drop and rise of temperatures all summer long, most of our plants have been pretty happy. Our mint plant, which we originally planted next to thyme and lavender, took off immediately and spread throughout the entire planter within a week! That was an amateur mistake on my own part ’cause I knew that mint likes to take over EVERYTHING. And she did. So we uprooted her and placed her in her own good-sized planter where she was able to stretch and relax without bothering her next-door neighbors.

Having an abundance of mint isn’t a bad thing, either. I decided to harvest a few bunches and steep them into heavy cream as a base for this amazing ice cream recipe I found through David Lebovitz’ book, The Perfect Scoop.

The recipe was originally written for a Chocolate Malt Ice Cream flavor, so I made some adjustments to the recipe, and omitted the cocoa powder, replacing it with a snack-sized box of crushed Whoppers candy and chocolate sandwich cookies like OREO’S. I also added more heavy cream (using one of my local favorites from Sunshine Dairy). The resulting flavor is intensely rich, creamy and so silky smooth. Try it.

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Malted Mint Whopper Cookie Ice Cream
Yields 1 quart
Recipe via The Perfect Scoop

INGREDIENTS
3 cups heavy cream, divided
2 cups fresh mint leaves, packed
1 cup whole milk
¾ cup sugar
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
5 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup malted milk powder

METHOD
Heat 1.5 cups heavy cream with the mint in a medium-sized saucepan. Once brought to a boil, whisk vigorously and lower heat to a low simmer, continuing to whisk. Remove pan from the heat and strain into a large bowl the rest of the heavy cream into a large bowl, combining the steeped minty cream together.

Gently warm the milk, sugar and salt in the same saucepan. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the yolks and temper the eggs by slowly adding the warmed milk to the  yolks, continuously whisking and scraping the now tempered egg yolk/milk mixture back in the pan.

Using a rubber spatula continue to stir and scrape the combined mixture over medium heat, making sure not to “cook” or “curdle” the eggs. Once the mixture is thickened and coats the back of a spatula, immediately remove from the heat and pour through a strainer and into a shallow pan or bowl. Add the vanilla extract and malt powder. Cool the mixture by placing it into the refrigerator till chilled, overnight is preferred.

Once ready to churn, operate your ice cream maker and add the crushed Whopper candy and cookies toward the last five minutes of the churning process. Place the ice cream in the freezer to further freeze. Enjoy! (Or have a quick milkshake. Your call.)

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Bagels for Days

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Bagels are such a versatile treat–you can pretty much top them with anything and they’ll be delicious. Cream cheese, jam, peanut butter, avocado, lox, pesto, seriously anything.

Here’s a super-easy recipe via Sally’s Baking Addiction.

Homemade Bagels
Recipe adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction
Yields 6-12, depending on size

INGREDIENTS
1 and 1/2 cups warm water
2 and 3/4 teaspoons Instant Yeast
4 cups bread flour
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt

FOR THE WATER BATH
2 quarts water
1/4 cup honey

OPTIONAL TOPPINGS
2 Tablespoons sesame seeds
1 Tablespoon coarse sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon + 3 teaspoons white sugar
3 Tablespoons raisins
egg wash: 1 egg white beaten with 1 Tablespoon of water

METHOD
Quickly whisk in the yeast into the warm water till completely
dissolved. Allow to sit for 5 minutes.

Using a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment, mix on medium speed the flour, sugar, and salt for about 30 seconds. With the mixer continuing to run on medium speed, slowly drizzle the bloomed yeast mixture, making sure to scrape out any undissolved yeast with a spatula, getting all of the yeast into the dough.

Turn down to low speed and mix until all the flour has been well incorporated into the dough. The dough will look choppy; once you get it to this point, bump up the speed to medium and mix for 8 minutes. Once done mixing, the dough will be super stiff, that’s OK.

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(Mine somehow managed to resemble the mandrake root in Pan’s Labyrinth. Creeeeepy.)

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(Note: If you’re making cinnamon and raisin-flavored bagels, section off about 1/3 of the mixture and hand-mix the raisins into the dough.)

Otherwise, remove from the mixing bowl and shape the dough into a ball on a lightly floured surface. Lightly grease a large bowl with oil and place into the bowl, turning the dough ball to coat all sides with oil. Cover the bowl with a clean towel and place in a warm area of your kitchen to allow the dough to rise for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. The dough should to be noticeably larger.

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Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or SILPAT mats if you have them. Place a wire rack over a third baking sheet.

To shape the bagels, gently punch down the dough if you notice any air bubbles. Turn it out onto a clean surface and divide the dough into 8 equal-sized pieces.

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Shape each piece into a ball and place 4 balls onto the two lined baking sheet. Then, hold up one dough ball and press your index finger through the center of each ball to make a hole, widening it. Cover the shaped bagels with a damp kitchen towel and allow to rest as you prep the water bath.

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Preheat your oven to 425°F.

To prepare the water bath, fill a large, wide pan with 2 quarts of water. Whisk in the honey. Bring the water to just-simmering. Once simmering, add in the bagels, about 2-3 at a time, making sure not to overcrowd them. Cook the bagels for about 1 minute on each side, then transfer each bagel to the cooling rack.

To prepare your optional toppings: Use a pastry brush to brush the egg wash on top and around the sides of each bagel, then sprinkle each with your desired toppings.

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Place the bagels on the lined baking sheets, and bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through to get an even coloration. The bagels should be golden brown and delicious.

Remove the cooked bagels from the oven and to cool for about 20 minutes before enjoying.

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(Cook’s Note: You can freeze your bagels in an airtight bag. Refrigerated bagels will keep for about 7-10 days.)

(Editor’s Note: All movie screenshots in this story are property of Estudios Picasso, Tequila Gang, Esperanto Filmoj, Sententia Entertainment and Telecinco.)

A Miracle Worker

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I don’t get sick too often. Maybe once or twice a year, tops. So when I do get sick all hell breaks loose. I simply hate getting sick and avoid it like, say, the plague.

Blame it on over-exhaustion, not getting enough sleep, working too much. Whatever week-long illness it was, it was completely unbearable. I had this unstoppable cough that seemed to worsen at night while in bed trying to sleep. The incessant coughing led to a sore throat and muscle pains in the abdomen; it was like I was doing nonstop crunches, but no 6-pack to show for.

What I needed was a miracle. Or Miracle Max.

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My regimen to nurse these ailments included daily vitamins, Emergen-C, so much orange juice, a hot elixir comprised of honey, fresh lemon juice, ginger, cinnamon, cayenne and turmeric. (It does the trick and nicely coats the throat.) But what really helps is a chicken soup of some kind. I had purchased a whole chicken and decided to make this Peruvian Aguadito soup quite reminiscent of the ones I used to enjoy at the L.A. Peruvian mini-chain, El Pollo Inka, that I used to frequent. The soup only gets better with a squeeze of the restaurant’s cilantro-chile sauce.

This Aguadito is a miracle worker, a magician, or brujo–the Miracle Max of soups. It has magical powers, I think, bringing you back to life. So much so that I felt increasingly better every time I consumed it (I ate the whole thing over the course of a week).

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I butchered the whole chicken into 10 pieces (halving the breasts) and kept the leftover bones to make stock for another time. The base of the recipe is usually mild, but I needed an extra kick of heat to help clear my nasal passages, and replaced with whole jalapeños for the typical serrano.

Make this the next time you start to have the ill feels. And once you start feeling better, have fun storming the castle.

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Peruvian Aguadito Chicken + Rice Soup
Recipe slightly adapted from A Cozy Kitchen
Serves 4-10

INGREDIENTS
2 bunches cilantro, stems discarded
12 garlic cloves, peeled
2 medium-sized jalapeños, stems discarded
10 cups chicken stock
3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 whole chicken, skin-on and bone-in, butchered into 10 pieces (2 drumsticks, 2 wings, 2 thighs, 2 breasts halved into 4 pieces)
1 medium-sized red onion, julienned
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne
1/3 cup long grain rice
1 can corn, drained
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
salt and pepper, to taste

METHOD
Purée the cilantro, garlic, jalapeños, and 1/2 cup of the chicken stock in a food processor or blender.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the chicken pieces, skin side down and season with salt and pepper, cooking for 5-10 minutes or till lightly browned. Turn and sear the other side for an additional 5 minutes. Once all sides are nicely seared, remove from the pot and set aside.

Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and add the onions and sauté till translucent. About 5-7 minutes. Add in the cilantro-garlic and jalapeño purée. Stir for 3 minutes to incorporate. Add in the rice, cumin and cayenne, stir for 2 minutes.

Slowly pour in the stock, stirring to incorporate. Bring to a boil, then add in the chicken pieces. Turn down the heat to low, add the corn and allow to simmer for 30-40 minutes.

Finish with the lime juice and season with salt and pepper to taste.

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(Editor’s Note: All movie screenshots in this story are property of Act III Communications and Twentieth Century Fox.)