The Discomfort Zone

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Have you looked in the mirror lately and thought about how much you’ve aged in the past year? Past 4? I watched Wanda Sykes’ Stand-Up special, “Not Normal” on @netflix the other night (highly recommend!), and she recounted a discernible observation—the major stress of the job as POTUS clearly has shown its effects on past presidents: Obama went full-on gray within 2 years as POTUS. George W. shrunk a few inches & Clinton grew a weird thing on his nose. She says in her act. Then she mentioned Trump, who has not aged at all. Why? “He’s on executive time. Trump hasn’t aged.” And then she said something even more profound—“But WE have. He is fucking us up. Everybody’s looking older. My God. HE IS FUCKING US UP.”

Damn. Ain’t that the truth? How many of you feel like you’ve aged a decade in this administration? Hell, the past 6 months? Stress has its obvious affects on us, whether it’s biting nails, teeth grinding, losing sleep, not eating, overeating —to more deeply rooted effects like depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes. The list goes on and on. Like a disease, stress takes over our bodies and all its systems. Our Immune system (making us more susceptible to getting sick); our Musculoskeletal system (giving us headaches and migraines); the Respiratory system (heavy breathing, shortness of breath); Cardiovascular (the increase in heart rate and blood pressure, which in the long-term can increase the risk for strokes, heart attacks & hypertension). When the Endocrine system is affected it increases its production of glucocorticoids, including cortisol production of steroid “Stress hormones.” The overproduction of these hormones is directly linked to obesity & diabetes, among other diseases. The Gastrointestinal system and its moving parts are all affected from difficulty swallowing, heartburn-like symptoms, to nausea & vomiting and our bowels. The Nervous system (the pilot of our bodies) is central to all of this because it regulates the autonomic nervous system and interprets potential threats, signaling the other systems to react.

Stress is not good for any of us. And it’s hard to say, “don’t stress” while we’re in a global pandemic, a civil rights movement, a recession, and people are dying because of it. What I will say is this: love and hug your loved ones if you can, when you can. Express gratitude, spread kindness and love, meditate, smoke a bowl, make passionate love, eat healthy foods, watch movies with puppies and kittens, practice safe social distancing & fight the good fight—do what you gotta do to keep your body strong and in good health. We’ve got a lot more work to do, and we can’t really “work” if we’re sick.

Source material: http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/stress-body

Someone’s Brother

When I think about the current state of affairs in the United States, I reflect on my emotions and how they’re directly correlated to the Five Stages of Grief. Denial—this isn’t permanent, right? Bargaining—if I have these uncomfortable conversations with close-minded people, maybe I can help educate them? Depression—it takes all of five minutes of reading the news or going through my social media feeds before I begin to cry of another injustice or another innocent person dying at the hands of a corrupt system. Anger—I believe I will never not be angry about all that is going on. Acceptance—I will never accept acts of racism, hate, oppression, or injustice. Never.

While myself and much of the world are mourning the lives of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Ahmaud Arbery, I have also reflected on:

Sean Reed

Jamee Johnson

Antwon Rose

Kwame Jones

De’von Bailey

Jimmy Atchison

Willie McCoy

EJ Fitzgerald Bradford, Jr

Stephon Clark

Trayvon Martin

Michael Brown

Tamir Rice

Jordan Edwards

Oscar Grant

This is just a very small list of the hundreds of thousands of innocent African American male lives that were taken by the hands of racist cops, and that list doesn’t even include the women who lost their lives.

I mention these men specifically because they were all under 22 years old at the time of their deaths. They were younger or the same age as my brother who died in an accident 12 years ago. Today would’ve been his 34th birthday. Just like most of these young men and boys, my brother won’t ever be someone’s husband or father. They will never have wrinkles, gray hairs or laugh lines—the things we often take for granted, the physical signs that we have lived, the privilege and mementos of aging.

For the past few weeks my emotions have been heightened. I’m reliving the many times I’ve gone through the 5 Stages, again and again. And if you’ve ever experienced a great loss of life, you know that this cycle never ends. You never stop missing your loved one(s). You will never accept their death. A part of you will always be missing. That part left when they did.

I cry because the families of the names mentioned above are still grieving, too. Like me, they lost their brother or sister, child, or father. This is unacceptable.

In honor of my brother, I am making additional donations to Black Lives Matter and the following tagged organizations in his name. I strongly encourage you to do so, too, if you haven’t already.

So, if you are not fighting or listening and learning, protesting or donating, calling or E-mailing your local and state officials, or supporting BIPOC businesses,  I ask that you to do so now. This is the time we have to make a change. We cannot allow this to continue. If you don’t agree with me, and cannot find space in your heart to help fight for racial equality, then please, do yourself a favor and click that unfollow button right now. Please. Because one of the biggest life lessons I have learned in my grief, is to not waste a second more on those who don’t deserve my time.

Black Lives Matter.

Op-Ed: In a Time Of …

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White privilege is real, and it has negatively impacted my entire life.

I got to thinking about every single time I’ve applied for a job and how apprehensive I was to include my blog URL. I’ve had to pause every time before I decided, because I knew that by clicking on that blog link I would be opening the door to disclosing my multiracial identity. I was scared that I wouldn’t be considered for the job because the color of my skin. Regardless of the fact that I earned my Bachelors in Communications from an accredited university or my Culinary Arts degree from (arguably) the best culinary school in the country, or even the fact that I’ve held management positions since I was 19 years old. That’s terrifying. I know I’m not alone in my apprehension or fears—how about my brothers and sisters  who have obvious non-white surnames?  But even then, I would still choose to disclose my identity because I want to be true to who I am. And you know what? Nine times out of 10, I didn’t get a call back. That’s disheartening for any BIPOC.

In recent years of recruiting restaurant staff, I can recall some of the résumés I’d receive that included their headshots. The common thread? All white women. What freedom! To not be fearful that they won’t be discarded by showing their face. That their cuteness and whiteness will help get them the job.

And then I started thinking about the previous jobs I did have, and how disproportionately I was paid in comparison to my white counterparts. That the white male dishwasher I once worked with made $4-$5 more than I did as a cook. (Side note: This is not bashing the dishwashing position. I actually started out as a dishwasher at that restaurant and have washed dishes at others. That job is not nor ever has been beneath me. It’s the hardest fucking job in the kitchen. I strongly believe the dishwasher is the most important job in the restaurant. Any respectable line cook or chef will agree.) But I can’t help but think that my lesser pay was directly correlated to my skin color and gender. Or when I worked in a mid-management position and my white female counterpart made $3/hour more than I did. I have no ill will toward any individual who ever made more than me. They are very fortunate. I take issue with those in power, the oppressors, who decided that I was not worth the same amount of pay. Would I have been paid equally if I was white?

As I look to the future of my industry, I can’t help but think of all the restaurants that are permanently closing due to the global pandemic and all the jobs lost, perhaps forever. Unemployment rates are at an unprecedented all-time high. The hospitality and food & beverage industry is deeply impacted—severely in Portland, a city known for its food. What does that mean for all of us? What does that mean for me and my fellow BIPOC? Now we must fiercely compete for those very few and far between jobs. I’m seriously scared. If we couldn’t get the same seat at the table then, how are we to expect or even imagine getting one now?

Here are some resources for further reading.

https://werepair.org/racial-disparity-food-equity-american-restaurant-industry/

https://www.eater.com/2015/10/22/9593482/study-people-of-color-paid-less-white-workers-restaurant-industry-roc

https://www.npr.org/2020/04/22/840276956/minorities-often-work-these-jobs-they-were-among-first-to-go-in-coronavirus-layo

https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/10/22/450863158/the-startling-racial-divide-in-pay-for-restaurant-workers

https://www.motherjones.com/food/2019/05/california-restaurants-race-segregation-wage-gap-disparity-roc-alta-restaurant-group/

https://civileats.com/2020/05/05/people-of-color-are-at-greater-risk-of-covid-19-systemic-racism-in-the-food-system-plays-a-role/

Remembering Hollywoodland

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These past few weeks I’ve reflected on my personal past traumas and the traumas of my parents and ancestors. On my mom’s side, my grandfather’s two older brothers were the first to put down roots in the United States when they immigrated to Los Angeles in the 1940s after serving in the military helping the U.S. during World War II.

My grandmother (I never met my grandfather as he died before I was born) doesn’t talk about the bad things, like the segregation, prejudice and other challenges and hardships that they faced, but I would sometimes overhear some of those sad stories in whispers when I was a little girl (most of which I was too young to understand). The stories that they did share with us as kids were the good ones—like how my grandfather’s brother worked as a limousine driver in Hollywood and drove around many of its stars. My grandmother (who is turning 99 this year!) to this day still reminds us of her brother-in-law’s numerous stories of driving around Clark Gable to star-studded events and what a “classy and nice guy” he was to my granduncle. It seemed this acceptance and friendship he received from a big star like Mr. Clark Gable (which is how he would retell the story she says. It was always “Mr.” and not just “Clark”) are some of the happier moments he chose to share.

In keeping with part of my heritage, I hopped on the pancake cereal fad but turnt them up a bit and made ube pancakes instead. I used coconut milk and coconut oil to complement the ube flavors, but dang it I really wish I had some macapuno (young coconut) on hand!

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Ube Pancake Cereal
Serves 2

INGREDIENTS
1 3/4 cup flour (GF blend works if you’re gluten-free)
1/2 cup grated, mashed cooked ube
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2T agave or date syrup
1T flaxseed + 2.5T water put together to make a flax egg
1t coconut oil, melted (plus more for the pan)
1 1/2 cups of coconut milk
1/2t baking soda

For serving:
Coconut milk
Vegan butter
Maple syrup

METHOD
Mix together dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix together the wet ingredients. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients bowl. Mix till completely incorporated. Carefully place batter into a squeeze bottle with the tip large enough to easily squeeze out the thick batter.

Turn your largest skillet on medium-high heat. Add in up some oil. Squeeze the batter into half-dollar sized pancakes all over the pan but leaving enough room between them (about a half-inch). Cook for about 2-4 minutes then flip per side.

Repeat till all batter is used. Serve in a bowl with a bit of melted vegan butter and maple syrup and/or non-dairy milk.

Nathan & Nora’s Infinite Playlist

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I just started watching “Upload”on Amazon. It’s a sci-fi comedy series set in a completely automated future in 2033 centering around Nathan Brown, a handsome and eccentric coder who meets his untimely death in a self-driving car accident. In this universe, in lieu of dying, people can choose to “upload” themselves and their memories online to an afterlife-like cloud game owned by super-corporation, Horizen. You essentially live in this afterlife universe where you can “buy” In-N-Out combo meals, talking therapy dogs, and live in elite lake view accommodations, with the appropriate funds, of course, and “live” amongst other fellow upload-ers and still communicate with the living (and have VR sex with them, too). Every uploader has a Horizen-employee handler “angel” that assists them whenever prompted. Nathan’s “angel” is Nora, a helpless romantic from New York who is falling for Nathan, hard. And it appears, Nathan might be falling for her, too, despite having a still-alive super-controlling girlfriend, Ingrid (who is solely responsible for Nathan’s account and honestly is just terrible). To avoid anymore spoilers, I won’t go into it anymore, but it’s definitely worth a watch.

Portland just experienced its first weekend of summer-like weather, and I’m just not ready for it. I’m still enjoying the mild 60s temps where I can wear a peignoir to bed, but still have a light blanket if needed. Just before we hit near 90-degree weather, I cooked up this rich chocolate zucchini cake with creamy two-ingredient chocolate frosting. I stan this cake and Nathan and Nora’s VR relationship.

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Chocolate Zucchini Cake w/ Chocolate-Coconut Frosting
Yields two 9-inch cakes
Recipe by A Streetcar Named Devour

FOR THE CAKE

INGREDIENTS
1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour blend
1/2 cup gluten-free almond flour
1/2 cup gluten-free oat flour
1/2 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1/2 t baking soda
2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
3 cups zucchini, grated (about 2 large zucchini)
1 cup coconut oil, melted
1 3/4 cup coconut sugar
4 flaxseed eggs (4T flaxseed + 10T water)
1/2 cup non-dairy yogurt
1 1/2t pure vanilla extract
1 cup non-dairy chocolate chips

METHOD
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease two 9-inch cake pans and dust with flour. Set aside.

Sift and combine all dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

Place grated zucchini in a blender and blend till creamy.

In a large bowl, cream the sugar and oil then add in the blended zucchini. Add in the flax eggs, yogurt and vanilla. Cream till fully incorporated.

Gradually stir in the dry ingredients without over-mixing. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Evenly distribute the batter into the two pans. Bake in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes, depending upon your oven’s settings.

FOR THE FROSTING

INGREDIENTS
1 cup whole-fat canned coconut milk
1 package (10 ounces) vegan chocolate chips I like these
1/2t kosher salt

METHOD
Place the coconut milk and chocolate chips in a sauce pan over medium-high heat. Mix with a rubber spatula till completely melted and incorporated. Add in the salt. Place melted chocolate mixture into a bowl and allow to cool in the refrigerator. The frosting is ready to whip when it’s no longer pourable (from 1.5 to 2 hours).

Once the mixture is ready for whipping, place it in an electric mixer and whip till light and fluffy (about 5 mins). Frosting is ready to use (or lick from the spoon, your choice)!

Present & Company

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I recently went down a Jane Austen rabbit hole, all in thanks to peanut butter frosting. Yes, peanut butter frosting. Stay with me, I’ll explain.

Whilst making peanut butter frosting for some cupcakes for a friend of a friend, my spice grinder overheated and broke. (I make my own powdered sugar which is very easy to make at home, if you have the proper equipment, that is.) I did not have enough powdered sugar to create the consistency I needed for the frosting and made several attempts to “fix” the frosting I had, to no avail. In COVID-19 times, a “quick trip” to the market for new equipment or a box of powdered sugar was out of the question for me.

When I finally threw in the towel, my kitchen resembled that of one Bridget Jones during the famous birthday dinner scene in Bridget Jones’s Diary where her kitchen is turned completely upside-down thanks to blue soup, omelet with caper berry gravy and a dessert that tastes like orange marmalade. I couldn’t help but feel like poor Bridge—so helpless and so quick to reach for the bottle of booze. Her surprising visit from Mark Darcy (ding dong!) to help save the day (and win her heart!) was a dreamy rom-com narrative, but this story doesn’t quite end like that, sadly. Though I’ve spent many a times thinking about it. As well as that scene where Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy emerges from a pastoral lake after a swim in Pride & Prejudice. (Ding fucking dong!)

I hate throwing away food. Instead, I saved the remnants of the unstructured (yet quite delicious) frosting and put it in the fridge for a later time. Then I continued thinking about Jane Austen, as one does when you’ve been dissecting her work since you were a teenager. I had long wished to watch the TV series adaptation of her final and unfinished work in Sanditon (Available for streaming on PBS with a subscription or via Amazon.) but never had the time to. And oh, well that is no longer an excuse, is it?

I signed up for the week-long free trial subscription with the goal of watching as much content as I can within that time. I binge-watched Sanditon, finishing in a day and a half, and then that turned into watching Northanger Abbey followed by Love & Friendship. In the middle of this Austen-adaptation marathon, I decided to use the leftover frosting and make something to snack on while I binged on the couch. (The bottle of wine needs pairing company, you know.) And then the idea came upon me—the answer is Mr. Darcy. What goes better with peanut butter aside from jelly? Chocolate! And what pairs well with chocolate? Wine! It’s a win-win.

(Side note: This isn’t my first foray in deconstructing Austen’s adaptations work in this blog. Check out this post for more Bridget Jones’s Diary fun.)

I altered the chocolate cupcake recipe I had originally used to make a Ding Dong. The peanut butter frosting doesn’t have the same marshmallow-like consistency of the original Hostess treat, but what this cake snack lacks in that filling texture well makes up for in flavor. Trust me when I tell you these “Ding Dong”-like treats are the belle to any Regency ball.

As with all of my more recent recipes, this is vegan and gluten-free. You most certainly can make this with gluten by subbing the GF flour with pastry flour.

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Peanut Butter Ding Dong Cakes
Yields about 6 cakes (with leftover scrap pieces for even more snacking!)
Complete Recipe by A Streetcar Named Devour
Cake recipe slightly adapted from Minimalist Baker

FOR THE CAKES

INGREDIENTS
2 flaxseed eggs (2T flaxseed + 5T hot water combined)
1/2 cup non-dairy milk (I used soy in this with wonderful results)
3/4t apple cider vinegar
1.5t baking soda
1/3 cup coconut sugar
1/3 cup blackstrap molasses
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 cup applesauce
1/2t pure vanilla extract
1/4t Kosher salt
1/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted
1/2 cup GF oat flour
1 cup GF blend flour

METHOD
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch non-stick square pan like this and a 9″x5″ loaf pan like this one with oil and dust with some GF flour. (If you have a pan large enough that fits 6 cakes, go for it!)

Combine the flaxseed egg ingredients  in a small bowl and set aside. Combine the milk and vinegar in a separate large bowl and allow to sit for a few minutes while you gather the rest of your ingredients. (This will give your milk time to curdle.) Then add the baking soda to the milk-vinegar mixture.

Add the flax eggs, sugar and molasses to the milk-vinegar mixture. Mix to combine. Add the applesauce, coconut oil, vanilla and salt to the mix, stir. Sift in the cocoa powder. And then mix in the flours. You should get a nice thick batter.

Distribute the batter to both pans evenly. Bake for about 30-35 mins or until the cake is done. Once done baking, set aside to cool.

FOR THE FROSTING

INGREDIENTS
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup vegan butter (I like Miyoko’s or Earth Balance)
1/2t pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/8 cup soy milk

METHOD
In a hand-held or stand mixer, cream the peanut butter and vegan butter together till light and fluffy. Slowly add in the vanilla extract and mix till combined. In 1/4 cup increments, add in the powdered sugar, alternating with a bit of the soy milk every time. Set aside.

FOR THE CHOCOLATE COATING

INGREDIENTS
1 cup vegan dark chocolate
1T coconut oil

METHOD
In a double-boiler (a heatproof glass bowl over a pot of boiling water) melt the chocolate. Turn off the heat and then add in the coconut oil.  Stir to combine.

ASSEMBLY
Once the cakes are cooled down, use a circular cookie cutter to punch out six cakes. I have (and love!) this one. Carefully remove the scraps and set aside for a later project or in-between snacking.

With a piping bag and 1M star tip,  flip the cake over and pipe a bit of the frosting. Repeat with the rest of the cakes.

Set up a cooling rack with a baking sheet underneath and take your melted chocolate bowl and place a cake (one at a time) in the melty chocolate. Flip it over to fully coat each side. Carefully remove the cake and set on the cooling rack top side up. Repeat till all cakes are nicely coated. Take the cooling rack/sheet tray to the refrigerator to set the chocolate, about 30 mins to an hour.

The cakes are ready to eat once the chocolate has completely dried and no longer leaves a thumbprint when you touch the chocolate.

Enjoy with a bottle of wine and your favorite Jane Austen book or film!

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Fifty Shades of Glaze

vegan doughnuts, A Streetcar Named Devour

Yes, they’re real and they’re spectacular.

Let’s talk about Book Club. Not generally speaking; the 2018 rom-com, Book Club. Starring Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton, Mary Steenburgen and Candice Bergen, the film follows these life-long best friends, (now in their 70s ) navigating their post-menopausal, post-divorced, post-widowed, and post-sexless marriage lives. (Side note: Did you know that Jane Fonda was 81 when this film released?! Yes, 81! She looks amazing.)

The friends are in a book club, and their next book is Fifty Shades of Grey. The story continues with them reading the book while finding love, rekindling love, reigniting love and rediscovering their self love. Some may say it’s cheesy, but I’m a sucker for any rom-com, and I found it lighthearted and endearing. The scenes between Fonda’s character, Vivian and former flame, Arthur (played by Don Johnson), clearly have incredible on-screen chemistry. Or the adorableness that’s Steenburgen’s, Carol, performing a tap-dancing number as her husband (a very hilarious Craig T. Nelson) rides in a motorcycle singing Meatloaf’s, “I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That).”

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Original image by Apartment Story + June Pictures

I went to see this movie in theaters with my fellow rom-com loving friend, Lindsay when it first came out. I cried. I’m unsure if she did. But I definitely cry watching movies. I’m an empath. It happens.

I watched it again recently (it’s currently steaming on Amazon Prime.) I still enjoy it. With all of this extra time on my hands, I wanted to make time-consuming yeast-raised doughnuts. Fridge foraging is a trending hashtag on social media right now, as many of us are in self-quarantine and socially distancing. I discovered that I had almost three bottles of black sesame seeds in my pantry, so I wanted to make doughnuts with them. I found a recipe on Belly Rumbles, and made a couple of edits and vegan-ized it. I replaced the miso glaze in her recipe with matcha glaze (another ingredient I have plenty of in my pantry). And black sesame + matcha go together like peanut butter + jelly. Wouldn’t you agree?

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“To even be holding this book is embarrassing.” -Sharon (Candice Bergen)

Black Sesame Doughnuts with Matcha Glaze

Yields about 1 dozen
Recipe slightly adapted from Belly Rumbles


FOR THE BLACK SESAME PASTE

INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup black sesame seeds
4T date syrup (or honey if not vegan)

METHOD
Toast the black sesame seeds in a non-stick pan over medium heat. Swirl the pan, making sure all sides are toasted evenly. Toast till fragrant. Turn off burner and set pan aside to cool. Place seeds in a mini processor or coffee grinder and blitz till completely ground. In a bowl, mix with your liquid sweetener. Set aside.

FOR THE DOUGHNUTS


INGREDIENTS
¾ cup milk, warmed to 100-110 degrees
3T active dry yeast

¼ cup sugar
2 cups AP flour, plus more for dusting
2T flaxseeds + 2 1/2T water mixed together
¼ cup black sesame paste
Fryer oil

FOR THE GLAZE
3T soy milk (or other dairy-free option)
Pinch of salt
2T vegan butter, melted
2T food-grade matcha powder
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

METHOD
In a small bowl heat your milk to 100-110 degrees. Add in the yeast and 1T of sugar. Whisk to combine and allow to rest in a warm spot for about 10 minutes. There should be a layer of bubbles upon resting.

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“I would like to introduce you to Christian Grey” -Vivian

In a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, add the sugar, flour, flaxseed, water, black sesame paste and bubbled yeast mix. Beat on low speed for about 5-7 minutes. It’s done once the dough is smooth.

In a large lightly greased bowl, add the dough ball and secure with plastic wrap. Set the bowl aside where it’s warm. Dough should rest for about an hour (depending on your home temperature). You’ll know it’s ready when the dough has doubled.

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“I do like the idea of romance.” -Carol

Turn your dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for another 5 minutes. Then roll the dough to about 1-1.5cm thick. Use a doughnut punch cutter. Continue to roll out the dough scraps and punch out the doughnut rings till you have no more dough. You should get about 9-12 doughnuts in total.

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“We are too old.” -Sharon

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“But it does say right here, ‘for mature audiences'” -Carol

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Yeah, that certainly sounds like us.” -Diane

On a parchment-lined sheet tray place the cut out doughnut rings and holes, and top with plastic wrap on loosely. Put the tray somewhere warm to rest for 30 minutes to an hour. Dough should be doubled in size when it’s ready.

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Stimulate your mind.

Fill your deep-fryer or a large sauce pan half way with oil over medium heat till it reaches 350°F. Fry the doughnuts but don’t overfill the pan. Flip after 30-50 seconds on one side and finish with 30 seconds on the other. I like using wooden chopsticks to do the flipping, but you can use a stainless steel spatula if you don’t chopsticks on hand. Doughnuts should be golden brown when they’re done.

Allow doughnuts to drain excess oil on a cooling rack lined with a larger sheet tray underneath. While doughnuts are cooling make the glaze.

Add all ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk together till smooth and a think but pourable consistency. 

Dip the top of doughnuts in glaze and return to the cooling rack to drain and dry. Repeat with the rest of the doughnuts.

Enjoy. These are perfect with a cup of hot coffee, or my new favorite Dalgona coffee.

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“Drink up. Hoist that glass. Happy reading, ladies.” -Vivian

Just Like A Circus

I believe in the art of organizing. Marie Kondo is my hero. I could spend hours at The Container Store. So now that all of the planet is pretty much under lockdown, I’ve had time to purge, audit and organize our fridge and pantry cabinets. In trying to store all the food we have for X amount of time, I took pleasure in organizing the shelves and FIFO-ing (kitchen term for First In First Out) all of our food. When making breakfast the other day, I had a handful of perfectly ripe pears that I wanted to add in this oven pancake recipe I found. Of course I had to veganize it. Honestly, these oven pancakes tasted like funnel cakes and transported me to a time not long ago where we could go to the county fair and eat all the things.

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Caramelized Pear Oven Funnel Cake Pancakes

Recipe slightly adapted from Williams-Sonoma

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

6T vegan butter, divided

3 ea. pears, peeled, cored and sliced in 1/4-inch wedges

2T coconut sugar

Juice of half a lemon

1t ground cinnamon

1C plant-based milk (I used oat milk and had great results)

1t pure vanilla extract

1C Bob’s Red Mill 7-Grain Pancake + Waffle Flour Mix

2 T flaxseed + 4T water

Powdered sugar for dusting

METHOD

Position a rack in the middle of your oven and preheat to 425 degrees F

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flaxseed eggs, 1T of the melted butter, milk and vanilla. Add in the flour mix. Whisk till the batter is just incorporated. Set aside.

In a cast-iron skillet, melt 2T of butter over medium-high heat. Then add in half of the pears and half of the coconut sugar and cinnamon, sautéing till it’s nice and caramelized, about 5 minutes. Finish with a squeeze of lemon. Add 2T of butter, melt, and pour in half of the pancake batter.

Place in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the pancake is golden and puffy.

Top with a dusting of powdered sugar.

To All the Employees I’ve Loved Before


ACS_0293This is a love letter to all of my employees, co-workers and fellow hospitality management,

The last few days have been so hard for everyone. When I learned that we would be closing our dining room services for at least 4 weeks on Sunday, I had mixed feelings—part relief that we all had the opportunity to socially distance ourselves and help slow down the spread of Coronavirus. The biggest part of me was absolutely heartbroken what that meant for our 50+ employees at our restaurant. These are the hardest times right now, and I sincerely wish I had the power to do ANYTHING and EVERYTHING I could to save you all. I have no power over this. None of us do. I’ve been crying for the past 3 days because I love you all so very much and it has been an absolute honor and privilege to be your AGM these past 2 years.

I know exactly how you’re feeling right now, and it’s absolutely terrible. Some of you don’t know that I’ve been through a lay-off, too. Back in 2008 during The Great Recession I was laid off from my editor job at a publishing house. I didn’t see it coming. I had graduated from journalism school and was just beginning my journey as a journalist (my childhood dream). It felt even worse because just 2 months before the day I was laid off, my brother died in a tragic accident. I had just come back to work from bereavement leave and was trying to distract my sadness and depression after losing my brother. Obviously everything felt even more intense.

I lived off of unemployment for almost 2 years—applying for jobs, internships, freelance gigs, whatever I could to stay above ground. I worked so many odd jobs during that time, but nothing that could financially support me. Unfortunately there weren’t any more journalism jobs to go around for the other thousands who lost their jobs, too. I even volunteered at a children’s hospital during my unemployment because I wanted to make a positive difference in kids’ lives. That “job” was the best and most meaningful experience of my life, and I wouldn’t change any part of it. It has helped shape me into the person I am today.

After not finding work for 2 years I decided to chase a passion of mine and enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America in New York. My time at the CIA, and meeting all of the beautiful humans I had the amazing opportunity to learn from and work with, were some of the best years of my life.

After graduating I settled in the Bay Area and worked so many industry jobs—food stylist, line cook, pastry chef, food truck operator, catering coordinator, I can’t remember them all. But then times got really tough in the Bay, and the increasing cost of living (and a really shitty living situation) led me to being homeless. Yes, homeless. Luckily, I had such a huge community of friends who helped keep a roof over my head, and I slept on couches, mattresses, and spare rooms for a few months while I looked for an apartment. That proved to be difficult because my line cook wages couldn’t afford me a studio or 1BR apartment. After couch surfing for a few months, I gave up on living in the Bay Area. I exhausted all of my resources, but I am so grateful for that time. It humbled me immensely.

Then I did something absolutely crazy. I followed the advice of my astrologer (who I had an amazing in-person reading with on my birthday!) and moved to Portland. (I had fallen in love with the city when my friend Erika and I vacationed there for a weekend over the summer.) The thing is, I had nothing to move to. I had set up job interviews and viewing appointments for apartments but I didn’t know a soul in the city. I had phone numbers of friends of friends but no guarantees. I stayed at an Airbnb for a week with the goal of finding a job and apartment in that week. Omg I was ambitious, wasn’t I?

As you can imagine I didn’t find work. Or an apartment. But I did meet amazing friends who helped put a roof over my head and some interior design assistant work. But the hustle continued because I needed full-time work to secure an apartment. I applied for every and any job I could.

I did find an apartment during those early days thanks to my amazing friend Mel, who literally took me under her wing and saved me from homelessness in Portland. For that, I am eternally grateful to her.

The next couple of years I worked even more jobs—pastry cook, line cook, prep cook, dishwasher, bar back, host, busser, food runner, server, bartender, vacation rental manager, social media coordinator, etc. I did them all.
All that hard work brought me to hospitality management. Fast-forward 4 years (I still can’t believe how quickly that time passed), and I had the amazing opportunity to manage the team at the restaurant I’m at now. I’ve been the AGM there for a little over 2 years and it has been some of the most stressful yet rewarding years of hospitality management I’ve worked thus far. I have learned so much from every individual from my team, and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity and pleasure to work alongside you all. I am hopeful that we will work together again.

My hope is that by sharing my tumultuous roller coaster of a journey, it will let you know how much I relate (who knows how long I will have my job), and that I will always have your back. I’m here for you. We are a family. What we do during these hard times will either break us or make us stronger. I know that you will choose the latter.

Stay strong, safe and healthy.

With much love and respect,
KR

 

Let’s Do A Makeover!

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I’ve been thinking about the weight of the world right now. The proverbial dark cloud currently encapsulating our planet. Our upcoming presidential election and the possible changes (good or bad) that come with it. I’m unsettled, and the only thing we can do right now is take extra care and precautions to be healthier and safe. To be more proactive than reactive. To vote for the most competent and capable candidate. I’m trying my best to relax and stay calm, but that’s very difficult when you have OCD as I do.

Needless to say, it’s time to escape, if only for a few hours. I decided to watch one of my favorite movies that always sparks joy—“Clueless.” Yes, that iconic ‘90s film that managed to turn a Jane Austen novel into a reimagined fashion revolution.

It’s actually the perfect movie to watch right now. (Did you know “Outbreak” is the 9th most-popular movie streaming on Netflix right now?! So much for escape.)

In the words of Cher Horowitz:

“I had to find sanctuary in a place where I could gather my thoughts and regain my strength…”

<Cut to an exterior shot of the Westside Pavilion>

CLUELESS. Image shot 1995. Exact date unknown.

Fun fact: I know and can recite the entire movie from beginning to end. (I’ve honestly watched this movie maybe 1000 times. Not an exaggeration.)

Cher Horowitz is such a mood right now. That scene where the guy at school bumps into her very persuasively so she quickly pushes him off as she quips,

“Ugh. Get off of me! As if!”

Honestly, that’s how I feel right now.

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On my day off while I was socially distancing myself, I stumbled upon a recipe from I Will Not Eat Oysters for Rye Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups. It looked so dreamy and delicious, I had to make it. And just like Cher and Dionne gave Tai a makeover, I reworked the recipe, veganized it and then added a couple of superfood ingredients. (Superfood is super important right now, wouldn’t you agree?)

I’m convinced I’ve succeeded because I had left out a container of these only to discover the morning that my boyfriend had eaten almost all of the cookie cups after I had gone to bed. (Little did he know they are super healthy. Bwahaha!)

Feel free to play Jill Sobule’s “Supermodel” in the kitchen while making this recipe.

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The key ingredients in this recipe are:

Walnuts: An excellent source of antioxidants and significantly high amounts of omega-3 fats called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)s, an essential fat that studies have shown helps to lower heart disease risk. Helps decrease inflammation, control blood sugars, promotes healthy gut and helps control blood sugars and lowers blood pressure.

Maca powder: A superfood chock-full of vitamins (including B1, B2, C, and E) with more than 20 amino acids and also contains calcium, zinc and iron. AND it helps increase your libido.

Flaxseed Meal: Flaxseeds are rich in omega-3 fats ALAs, lignans and fiber. It also helps lower blood pressure and may improve cholesterol.

Blackstrap Molasses: Yet another low-profile superfood. It’s an excellent source of iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium.

Tahini: It’s rich in anti-inflammatory monounsaturated fats with powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Cacao Nibs: Packed with flavonoid antioxidants with powerful anti-inflammatory properties.

Rye Flour: High in fiber and contains small amounts of zinc, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, magnesium and calcium.

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Superfood Tahini Rye Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups

Prep time: 3 hours 20 mins (“Everywhere in LA takes 20 minutes!”)
Yields: 18 cookie cups

INGREDIENTS

226g plant-based butter (I like Earth Balance)
200g coconut sugar
50g maple syrup
50g blackstrap molasses
100g tahini
3T ground flaxseed + 4T water
2t pure vanilla extract
150g all purpose flour
40g rye flour
30g maca powder
1/2t baking powder
1/2t baking soda
1 1/2t Kosher salt
1c dairy-free semi-sweet chocolate chips
1c dairy-free dark chocolate bar, roughly chopped
1/2c cacao nibs
2c walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped

METHOD

Melt the butter. Pull off heat and set aside to cool for about 10 mins.

Once the butter has cooled down a bit, add to a mixing bowl with the paddle attachment and mix with the coconut sugar till fluffy. About 5 minutes on medium speed. Turn off the mixer and add the maple syrup, molasses, tahini, flaxseed egg and vanilla. Mix for another 2 minutes, or until incorporated.

Slowly add in the dry ingredients, in three increments, on low speed. Once all flour has been added, throw in the chocolate chips, chocolate shards, cacao nibs and chopped walnuts till just incorporated. Don’t over-mix.

Using an ice cream scoop, portion out a scoop of the dough and place inside a standard muffin tray. Once all dough has been scooped into each muffin tin, place the entire tray in the freezer for at least 3 hours. This allows the flours to relax. Cover the top loosely with parchment paper.

Once your dough has rested, pull out your dough tray from the freezer and preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

Bake 12-17 minutes (depends on your oven). When fully cooked (I like mine slightly gooey in the middle) pull them out and allow to cool for about 10 minutes before enjoying!

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