“Do you want to be on top or me on top?”

A Corona Chronicle

Please dont self isolate from me
Because of things we disagree
For its only through your eyes I see
The true person in me

“Do you want to be on top or me on top?”

When you say that, you bring light back into my world. I dont care about the global instability nor the economic and financial crisis. But the insecurity about when we will feel each other again – instead of feeling feelings of concern and despair – is devastating. I want to feel your lips with my lips. I want to caress your upperarm nonchalantly with my fingers. I want our stomachs to touch. A breast pressed against your chest. Your arms around my shoulders. One hand stroking my lower back lightly.

When I write these words, it’s as if none of this will ever be felt again by you and me. The reptilian brain (lizard brain) doesnt know about logic, Corona and planning the future. It knows about thirst, sexuality, territoriality and habits. My old mammal brain triggers emotions when my loved ones are not around, to care for. The conscious neocortex is conveniently shoved to the back burner. Do you think you know why you cry, crave or remain abstinent? Stop thinking. Because you don’t.

The world is about distance now. Jamiroquai’s virtual reality plays in the background. My emotions are triggered. I want to share them. I want to lead us back to when we caressed each other. Re-live the memory of my hair brushing against your cheek. I want us to feel love. Nurture, nutrition, basic instincts and satisfaction without the fear.

Date balls dedicated to you, my love, further then the eye can see.

metric

300 gram dates

I prefer deglet noir. The ones I use in this recipe come from Algeria, imported in Europe through Marseille. The other side of the Mediterranean captured in these dates, is an important ingredient.

50 grams Goji berries

The ones I use are organic and sourced by our local supermarket. Usually I prefer to use them un-soaked. Because of their almost crunchiness. But the dates today are quite dry. So I soak the berries.

50 ml tea for soaking the Goji berries

I use an infusion of Hibiscus flower. Which is a bit tart. Giving depth to the sweetness of the berries. Please feel free to use any kind of tea/infusion. The Hibiscus flower I found in the cupboard is a relic from a special trip to Egypt. The world as it was before that trip never returned. During the trip my mother exchanged this world for a place in eternity. Fortunately all moments in time are eternal. She isn’t far. Food needs love, emotions and stories. Just like we do.

Mineral salt, a generous pinch

2 tablespoons Sesame paste/tahini

Any kind.

2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds

If you own a coffee bean grinder, grind the seeds to meal and longer till it forms a paste almost like peanut butter. If you don’t own a coffee bean grinder, use the seeds whole.

Mix all ingredients. Form a dough. Shape ping pong sized balls with your hands. When the dough is sticky, moisten your hands each time before you roll a ball.

Stay healthy. Be well.

Living the Dream

Tasman, South Island, New Zealand
Brown trout on Landcruiser JFK 1973 with slide on camper
Best fish curry ever

It’s January 2020. We are off the grid, without a shower nor a toilet. He caught a fish. Hunting, as a man. I turned it into nutrition, as a woman.

He caught the brown trout ‘blind casting’. It means you don’t spot a fish and then cast , (throw your line to catch it). But you throw your line seemingly blind, waiting for random chance to bestow you. Catching fish while casting blind in most rivers around the world is quite exceptional. You actually got to read the water and know very well and through experience, where fish like to hang out, casting your line patiently, again and again. If you are lucky you harvest your prey. The nymph disappears, the line tightens, the fish is hooked. A victorious feeling is eased down as the complicated game starts to get the fish into the net. The fish has to swim into it. No pulling, no tearing. This time we take the fish home to cook and eat from it for five days. All other fish that are caught during a month cruising around Tasman in New Zealand are released back into the water. It’s a sport. But sometimes it’s real life. And that time is now. It’s beautiful. And the beautiful brown trout is turned into the best fish curry ever.

2 cups water
1 garlic glove chopped
1/2 thumb ginger chopped
1 fresh turmeric pinky finger, peeled, not chopped (!)
1 dried Chipotle chili or 1/2 tsp ground Chipotle chili
1 stick cinnamon or 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tomato, quartered, take seeds out, chop finely, slice remaining flesh
250 grams or 2 cups pumpkin, diced

Additionally you will need:

1/3 cup pumpkin seeds

1/3 cup desiccated coconut

1/2 an eggplant

oil for frying

2 stalks spring onion

1 small trout, brown, rainbow or salmon trout. Cleaned and head removed, skin on

1 avocado

Bring the curry ingredients (first list) to the boil together. Close curry pot with lid. Simmer for 20 minutes or till pumpkin is tender

Separately in frying pan roast 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds. When they start popping (out of the pan) add 1/2 cup desiccated coconut. Dry roast during 2 minutes more (no oil) until coco meal turns brown. This happens suddenly and rapidly. Pay attention! This is the pumpkin version of the Indonesian peanut/coconut sprinkle named seroendeng. Transfer into a plate to stop it from cooking further. Keep till you start serving.

Separately dice 1/2 eggplant in same size dice as pumpkin. Poor generous oil in a frying pan. Brown the eggplant. Lower the heat. Let simmer for 15 minutes or until eggplant is really tender, soft and shiny. Add generous oil as you go to prevent it from getting dry. The eggplant will becomes a glazen kind of buttery soft.

Chop 1 spring onion.

When pumpkin is tender, add 1/2 can of coconut milk to the curry pot. Turn heath up. Take lid off. Reduce a bit. During the remaining time it takes to bake the fish.

Now take 1 small trout, clean and head removed. Fry in a little bit of oil on a full flame until skin almost burns. Take out. Peel flesh from the skin. Inside the flesh is still moist, just cooked through.


Put the deskinned trout in a shallow dish. Scoop pumpkin curry on top of it. Add buttery soft slow fried cubes of egg plant, diced fresh avocado and chopped raw spring onion. Garnish generously with the pumpkin seed / desiccated coconut ‘seroendeng’.

Wangapeka Lam & Wangapeka Date Balls

Food named after the geographical location where it is created: Wangapeka Valley, South Island, New Zealand. Where there’s mountains of love, rivers of milk and honey, purple flowered thyme and succulent lam. I haven’t come across anything more stunning, ever.

We’ve parked the 1973 Toyota Land Cruiser with on top of her our little mobile home at the side of the Wangapeka River. This spot is designed for fishermen and other real basic off the grid happy campers. There’s one toilet and a money box where you put in NZ$ 6 per person to camp overnight. We are at a place called Siberia Flat at the last day of the year 2019. The sun is shining. The river flows. The birds chirp. We make love. Interrupted by making lam and date balls. I’ve discovered that the soft sound of a strong monotonous flow of a river makes a deeper impact on both the spiritual and the physical body then sea waves breaking up and down a shore. It’s healing like a magical forest and empowering like climbing a mountain top. Riptide I’ve experienced as a mantra, pacifying and hypnotizing both the spiritual and the physical body. But here water seems to flow relentlessly; straight down from the eternal source of harmony.

A conjunction of purple flowered thyme, orange citrus zest, Mexican smoked chipotle pepper, simple ground black pepper and mineral salt is rubbed in the lam with oil and mixed into chopped dates for the balls. It breaths the Wangapeka Valley: silent, lush, wild and harmonious.

Place 500 grams of lam chops in a container. Poor 1/3 cup of olive oil over them. Pluck 20 fresh thyme sprigs. Zest 1 orange, clementine or grapefruit. Add 1 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper, 1 teaspoon black pepper and 1 teaspoon salt. Rub all of this into the meat. Cover the container. Place in fridge for 2 days. When you’re ready, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet or non stick frying pan or whatever your preferred pan is, on a high flame. Place the chops in the hot oil. Fry 3 min on each side. Lower the heat. Fry for another 2 to 3 minutes. Take out. With half a glass of wine or beer rinse out the marinate-container and poor the contents in the pan. Bring it to a steaming sizzle and poor over the lam chops.

The date balls are served afterwards, with cheese. Or the next day as healthy snack food.

200 grams pitted ‘normal’ dates. That’s to say, the non Medjool ones. Because the latter are a bit too sweet and sticky, I prefer the more caramel flavored and sturdy ones for my date balls. Chop the dates roughly with a sharp knife. Put in a large bowl.
Add:
3 generous table spoons of tahini
3 generous table spoons desiccated coconut
Leaves and flowers of 20 fresh thyme sprigs
1/2 tea spoon ground chipotle pepper or 1 dried chipotle chopped finely
zest of 1 orange, clementine or grapefruit
1/2 teaspoon mineral salt
50 grams pumpkin seeds

Mix well with bare hands. Take a ping pong ball sized scoop in your left hand, form a ball. If the mixture is too dry to form a ball, add some squeezed orange juice or water. Roll the ball between the palms of both hands. If you like you can put the ball in a little Chinese bowl or low teacup filled with desiccated coconut or sesame seeds, to swirl it around until it’s fully covered and decorated. When all balls are done, place them in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving.
Keeps a couple of weeks in an airtight container in fridge or freezer and can be taken non cooled on a day trip.

With lots of love from Wangapeka

Chipotle

It’s cold in the Ryan Air plane. Or am I just tired? Today’s Ryan Air experience is very good. I’ve been dreading flying with them to the extend that I simply no longer booked Ryan Air flights. Since complaining is an easy thing to do I find it fair to vent about the opposite; about my pleasure flying with Ryan Air. Everything leading to the take off from Malta airport towards East Midlands near Nottingham has been smooth and easy. The crew is friendly. They make jokes. Maybe, arriving at the airport two and a half hours in advance instead of all stressed out and just in time, pays off. But it’s not all. I genuinely feel well attended to.

Other then cold I am tired. Not sure how long we will fly for. Not long. I long to sleep. Two nights without the love of my love after several wonderful weeks with him accumulated in a lot of restless waking time the past forty eight hours. My eyes are falling close while I am waiting for the trolley and stewardesses to come by to be served a warm drink. I stir up, press the assistance button and ask for a tea. ‘We haven’t even started the service yet miss. Don’t worry, we will be with you shortly’. I sink back into the dark blue seat.

The tiredness replaces nervousness. Since the moment I woke up sometime but not a lot after 4 am this morning, I’ve felt tense. I pack a special Ryan-Air-cabin-allowed-hand-luggage blue shoulder bag. The regulations became stricter again. I bought the cabin bag specifically for Ryan Air. We jokingly call it our Pan Am bag. It looks like it’s specially designed to fit an American stewardess from the eighties: Barbie perfect. I fancy my tea is not far away while recounting this morning. My boarding pass still had to be printed at the stationery store which fortunately opens it’s doors very early. The weather in Middle England is checked by my ten year old daughter reading it out to me. It will rain for sure. As I am writing now I regret not having taken my pink plastic rain boots after all. I prepare porridge and freshly pressed orange juice for my ten year old. I hesitate between my Japenese long down filled winter coat and a sheeps skin bodywarmer with seperately Brian’s North Face rain coat. ‘Darling can you mail my boarding pass to the print shop please?’. ‘Mum, we have to leave in fifteen minutes’. ‘Yes darling. I quickly shower. You rinse your bowl and your glass when you’re done please’. ‘Mum, where is my lunchbox?’. ‘Thank you for getting my bag, take away cup and keys darling’. ‘Did you bring a jacket darling?’. After uttering all these words which surely are uttered in millions of house holds each and every morning again, we manage to get out of the house. The sun shines bright. First week of December. I will miss Gozo. Why have I got trouble leaving? I am very much looking forward to seeing them again. The couple from Middle England who invited me to come to them, to discuss the future. There’s no pressure. I am not expected to do anything. There’s no such thing as doing it right or wrong, failing or succeeding. Why am I nervous then?

Will I find my way into the woods of Robin Hood and the birth place of Shakespeare? Or is it all just an illusion? The date balls I’ve brought on the journey are as fully flavoured and spiced as the unknown territories I am about to explore.

For Chipotle date balls:

4 cups of dried dates, preferably not medjool, pitted and chopped 
1/2 cup sunflowerseed
1 dried, smoked chipotle pepper, the size of your pinky finger approximately, chopped finely
1 small raw beetroot, grated
2 tablespoons tahini
Generous pinch of mineral salt
1 tablespoon of finely grated lemon zest / shavings of the skin of approx. 1 lemon 

For coating: 

1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds, in a little coffee cup or a small Chinese rice bowl

To assemble: 

A large bowl or a shallow soup plate filled with luke warm water to rinse your hands while rolling the date balls. If you keep your hands moist the dough won’t stick to your skin. 

Preparation:

With your hands mix all ingredients for the date balls together. Make a dough as if you’re making bread or pizza. Rinse off your hands. Pluck a ping pong ball sized portion with your left hand, place in right hand palm, shape the dough within your handpalm into a ball, roll it between both your handpalms, pressing gently. When the ball is round enough place it in the coffee cup or small Chinese bowl with sesame seeds and toss the ball around for as long as it takes to evenly coat it with the seeds. Place the ball in a storage container and repeat. 

Breakfast Delight

A spoonful of bee pollen makes the medicine go down… thanks Mary Poppins
7 table spoons of medicine and 1 to make it go down
1 x chia seed (the binding agent, mother of delight)
1 x sunflower seed (can be alternated with pumpkin seeds)
1 x sesame seed (black or white)
1 x broken lin or flax seed (has to be broken otherwise nutrients will flush down the toilet)
1 x hemp seed (nice and crunchy)
1 x hemp hearts (for a delicious nutty flavor)
1 x chopped dried dates, apricots, cranberries, raisins or any other dried fruit (for sweetness)
1 x bee pollen (to make the medicine go down)

Add 2/3 cup of plant based milk, fresh orange juice or home brewed kombucha. Place in fridge overnight. The next day, peel and slice a kiwi. Add any other fruit or berries you like. Enjoy the morning and rep-eat!
Daily Values Breakfast Delight:
Dietary fiber 52.4%
Fat 60% 
Protein 41.8%
Iron 42.4%
Calcium 28%
Magnesium 103.4%
B6 Vitamine 29.4%

I used to treat myself to something nice to eat as a reward. And when I am anxious I restrict myself if it comes to food. I think for a lot of us to eat nice food is a present we give ourselves. And life on a daily bases is just not about receiving presents. The food we take in often is more about convenience, price, habit or because we have to feed ourselves ‘anyway’. 

‘But what about love?’ she asked. 

‘Love is not enough’ he replied.

My Indian yoga teacher years ago opened my eyes with a wise exclamation:’ It’s time to start eating not because it tastes good but because you need building material’. You would say that ended my quest for healthy yet nice food. It didn’t. It marked a beginning. It set me on a journey of exploring with food items and diets, purely to see what they do to my body. How do I feel when I skip this from my diet? What does my body wants me to do when I eat this? Does it want to stretch itself or surf on a couch? Is it wanting to proof it’s strength to me or does it want to sleep?
It got me into a raw and vegan life style for years. Thank the heavens for this adventurous exploration in my own kitchen, not having to travel a mile, yet discovering brand new worlds. Today I am vegan and half raw, till and not including, dinner.  If you ask me why, I say: ‘because I like how it makes me feel’. 
Do I not enjoy the taste of what I eat? That’s where it gets interesting. I’ve put how it makes me feel first and the taste second. I’ve discovered that taste can be acquired and I’ve discovered that a lot of what we think tastes nice actually is conditioned by ourselves. I used to have a sweet tooth. Nowadays when I eat sweetened produce, I am not even talking about refined sugar which I don’t really consume but responsible sweeteners like maple syrup or coconut nectar, the concentrated fructose or glucose content often tastes like it’s too much for me.
When I was pregnant and not vegan yet (‘just only’ vegetarian 😉) I quit eating salt. After a while I didn’t like the taste of it anymore. I enjoyed a soft boiled egg without a sprinkle of salt! That was many years ago. Today I enjoy the taste of salt. But I know and I’ve learned that what tastes nice is much more complex then just the taste of it.
It’s like love. Falling in love is savoring the most delicious thing on earth. Staying in love is a journey. An amazing journey of desire, trial and error.  An exploration of what is possible, necessary, required and unbearable. Discovering these things with one and other is like building our taste buds to crave healthy food. I like my love to be sweet and sometimes I like it raw. I like it complex and deep. And sometimes I like to grab a snack. Slow cooking is beautiful but sometimes I need fast food. And all my cravings for love and food alike are conditioned by my surroundings: the color of the earth I walk, the sound of the rain I hear, the feeling of sun rays on my skin and the smell of a rose petal covered with dew. 
My breakfast delight started with a desire for seeds and reading about how kiwi induces good sleep. While traveling the path of devoting myself to a free of almost anything diet (sugar free, gluten free, lactose free, dairy free, meat free, colorants & additives free and lately nut free) I seek to restructure from Ground Zero. Today I calculate the nutritional content of my default breakfast per it’s daily percentage of our dietary requirements. Selecting ingredients goes carefully and slow like picking blackberries from bushes along hiking trails. Trying not to pinch my fingers, only gathering the ripe ones, searching for the ones that fall into the palm of my hand upon pulling the little soft dark red thing ever so lightly, not forcing it, basically just gesturing it to let go of it’s branch. And then I taste, every late morning savoring my breakfast delight and I slowly adjust every late afternoon while preparing it again for the next day. 
The above conjunction is where we are now.
CS
7% daily fat
20% daily dietary fiber
5% daily protein
9.5 % daily calcium
6.4 % iron
12.6 Magnesium

SunS
Fat 11.8 %
Dietary fiber 5.5
Protein 6.3
Iron 4.39
Vit B6 , 9.8%
Magn 12.27%

SesS
Fat 11.5%
Protein 5.45
Fiber 7.27
Calcium 14.7
Iron 12.27
Vit B6 ,6%
Mag 13.18

LinS
Fat 9.69
Dietary 16.36
Protein 5.45
Calc 3.77
Iron 4.69
Vit B6 , 3.78
Magn 14.84

HempS
Fat 9.5
Dietary F 2.1%
Protein 9.6
Iron 6.6 %
B6, 6.96%
Mag 26.5%

HempH
Fat 10.3%
Dietary 4.39
Protein 10%
Iron 8%
Magn 24%


Dates
Fiber  4%
B6, 2.87%

Making Love

I just had a fabulous massage. At the end her two hands rested on my back, silent, nothing happened. It seemed. A wave of relaxation stirred my body. As if she uncorked my body and gently poured the content into a nice wine glass. That was Reiki she explained later. Her name is Geri. She’s a massage therapist at the Amchara Health Resort in Gozo, Malta. I am blaming myself. While lying in the fuchsia pink room, candle lit with the sound of relaxing music and rain pouring down outside the sheltered cocoon; I blame myself for not loving myself. Did I ever really love myself? You should take better care of yourself, I say to myself. Life won’t treat you well if you don’t set the example. 

We make love over the phone. Often emotions and hormones get caught up in laughter, arousal, arguments or even silence: ‘I want to listen to your sounds’. And then that’s what we do. Listening to each other’s sounds. But Geri’s massage reminds me of the power of touch. Tears rising up behind my eyeballs. I wish to be able to release them. Together with the worries that tighten the muscles between my shoulder blades and those securely fastened in my neck. Someone touching my skin feels divine. A short break in the endless and relentless repetition of what seems to be a soothing mantra of three words ‘I miss you’ fighting for priority over the other hallucinating three I-Love-You words.  I miss his physical presence. We’ve almost got it all. It’s a hazardous place to be. That what follows beyond the ‘almost’ and presumably completes the picture, grows bigger and bigger until the absence of it overtakes everything else. 

I need to distract myself. I dedicate my attention to the preparations for a raw Thai salad, attaching lost feelings of love to it. Quickly pickling pungent tastes of cabbage and onion, softening them to digest more smoothly his absence and my longing alike. Is it possible to justify the present? The salad is bright. The colors are as distinctly separate as it’s different tastes.  It is tossed as lightly as it is seasoned. The ingredients are as raw as my emotions. 

Raw Thai Salad

1/2 small red/white/brown or shallot onion – finely sliced – drown in apple cider vinegar – macerate 1 hour
1/8 red/green/ Savoy or white Cabbage – finely sliced – drown in apple cider vinegar – macerate 1 hour
1/4 Fennel bulb – finely sliced – juice of 1/2 lemon adding water until the fennel is covered
6 Mushrooms – finely sliced – juice of 1/2 lemon adding water until the fennel is covered

Other vegetables: 
6 Cherry tomatoes – quartered (yes quartered)
1 Carrot – with a peeler, peel off carrot ribbon
1/2 Bell pepper – nicely sliced 
1 Spring onion – chopped diagonally
Handful of each mint, coriander and basil – leaves only – chopped finely
5 cm of Courgette – sliced finely

Fruit:
1/2 Peach or nectarine – pit the fruit and slice finely – add juice of 1/2 a lemon to a bowl, put the fragile fruit carefully, make sure all the flesh has been in touch with the lemon juice by tossing very gently
10 Red currents
1/2 Grapefruit, lime or clementine – cut of the skin thickly, cut out individual citrus particles without hull

Dressing:

Juice of 1 lemon
3 tbsp water
Salt
1 tbsp sweetener (agave, rice sirup, maple sirup, coconut nectar, honey)
A thumb of ginger pressed through garlic press

Right before serving the different ingredients are assembled in a bowl, tossed lightly; just with 1 or 2 swirls with your bare hands while adding the dressing

Poor a shot of coconut oil over it and decorate with dulce and grated grapefruit/lime or clementine zest

‘Is that all?’the woman who came down for her lunch asked and I said: ‘Yes, that’s all’ feeling my tears rising again.

Immaculate Conception

The soup is white like a virgin. White being the color of innocence, peace and tranquility. The kind of white that borders at blue, our ocean of emotions at rest, reflecting a crisp and cloudless sky. Not the kind of white that is reminiscent of girlish innocence. Being immaculate white diluted with a drop of bloody deep red. Girls like pink at the verge of their transition from innocent virginity into passionate femininity. The soup however is immaculate. Immaculate white with slight hints of heavy sweetness, tangy spice and depth. 
Soup to a chef is maybe what a white canvas is to a painter. It teases the artist’s sense of creativity. Soup can be anything: color, taste, temperature, heavy, light, surprising or soothing. Certainly any dish can have these qualities. But with soup somehow it’s like starting from scratch. Sometimes it begins with an image of the end result. Which can be thick and creamy orange for example. Sometimes the creative process starts with a food item: an oxtail, wild asparagus or leek. Other times I think of a name, like soupe à la Reine. Which I believe is genuinely Dutch and resembles my own name. 

Soupe à la Reine is white and velvety and very soothing. It’s classic French cooking at it’s best. The original Dutch Soupe à la Reine is a thin roux based bechamel, enriched with cream and garnished with a handful of garden peas, little cubes of carrot and celeriac. It’s minimalistic, rich and simple. And it’s all in the broth. 

The best soup I’ve ever made is white too. And velvety, rich and deep; as innocent as it is full of flavor and life. The white is pure and only garnished with black seeds from a vanilla pod. I thought of Dame Blanche for a name. But maybe Soupe à la Reina is better.

1 celeriac, peeled and cut in large trunks
2 liter vegetable broth
1/2 nutmeg freshly grated
1/2 vanilla pod
pepper and salt 

Put all ingredients together in a pot. Then bring broth to a boil. Close the pan with a lid. Let simmer as long as possible. If possible 2 hours. The water will partly evaporate. As long as the celeriac remains under the broth surface, you don’t fill up with water/broth. After you’ve consumed all your cooking time, take out the vanilla pod. Place it on a cutting board and cautiously with a sharp knife cut it open length-wise. With a teaspoon or knife, scrape out the seeds and put these back in the soup. Then blender the content of the pan, not adding all the liquid at once. Slowly add more broth until the soup reaches your preferred consistency, rather thicker then thin.  

Wiener Mélange

It’s cold in the plane and I am tired. Jasmin green tea with milk melts down my throat into my stomach, soothing me. Matcha latte comes to my mind, thinking:’they started it, the Japanese. It isn’t my own weird idea, adding milk to green tea’. Matcha is an exclusive finely ground almost fluorescent green powder of the tips of excellent quality green tea leaves. It’s use has evolved into a discipline which is called the Way of Tea, performed as the traditional Japanese tea ceremony. Matcha powder has also become a favorite ingredient for more experimental chefs in Japan, used in pastries and ice cream. Starbucks sells Matcha latte, matcha powder mixed with milk and sweetener. Sweetened because original matcha is slightly bitter, a bit more even then the green tea leaves it’s derived of.

I am drinking herbal tea with milk, green tea with milk and fruit tea with milk. ‘Could I have a peppermint tea please? With coconut milk on the side’. The combination is bizarre, I realize. But it tastes really good. Lemon-ginger with oatmilk, green tea with almond milk and in case plant based milks are not on offer, I add regular dairy milk to the tea brews as it tastes good too. It’s only that I prefer to keep to a vegan diet that is keeping me from indulging in tea served with cow milk. 

Last winter I started making what I call Tea Lattes. Hot milk poured on regular or decaffeinated black tea. The plant based milks could be mixtures of rice and soy milk or oat and almond milk, they top up a tall glass for at least two thirds, filled one third with strong simple black tea. I liked it so much that I got tired of carrying the cartons of different plant based milks from the shops to my house and started to get into different tea flavors served with less milk. It got me down to herbal tea, green tea or fruit tea served with a generous cloud of rice, almond, soy or oat milk and when I can lay my hands on walnut or hazelnut milk, I feast. 

Soon we’ll land in Vienna. Wiener mélange comes to mind. Coffee latte topped up with whipped cream basically. I finish the Jasmine green tea with four sachets of airplane milk telling myself I won’t go into the Vienna version of my Tea Lattes. Which would be topping them up with whipped cream. Although whipped aqua fava would be an excellent vegan topping. But already my Tea Lattes are at least as good as the commercialized Matcha latte, a Turmeric latte or a good old traditionally spiced Chai.

It doesn’t even come close

He’s traveling on a plane. I am unsettled. I wonder if this feeling is what mothers and wives and other emotional human beings describe as worry. I am not worried. I am unsettled. Someone close to my heart moves from one situation into another. I don’t know how this will affect our contact. This insecurity alters my emotional landscape. We call the unsettling climate change initiated by someone else’s movements worry. But ‘this worry’ has got more to do with the alteration of prerequisites for my own emotional well being in the sense of security and balance then it being a reflection of care for my beloved ones. A hole carved in our protective and ‘secure’ wall by other people is what we conveniently call ‘worry’ and sometimes even ‘love’.

I love him. I am full of him. What does it mean that I feel good, secure, protected and the best version of myself when I am with him? I read about suffocating emotional ties, parents helicoptering their off spring, over protecting and I think about intolerant children created by anxious parents. I was brought up with the freedom to get bored, lost, hurt and scared. I was brought up to show just my positive stuff so that my parents didn’t have to worry (read bother) about me and could attend to their own affairs. All worrisome stuff imperatively went unnoticed, to not smash the crystal ball beholding my bright future.

Beetroot and broad beans didn’t enter our home. My dad didn’t like them. He detested them so much that at one time while we were having dinner in a restaurant and they served broad beans as a side dish, my dad politely asked us (three children sitting across from him) to put the little serving bowl containing the broad beans at another table. Considered rude? The smell of broad beans made him nauseous. 

The first time I dared to eat beetroot was after having a collegue chef stipulating into fine detail how he liked me to assist him preparing beetroot, shallot, balsamic vinegar and generous amounts of olive oil for roasting. The result is wonderful and I have seduced many people with it since, including myself. Thank you Joe Devine, you self proclaimed Misplaced Chef http://www.misplacedchef.com/

The path leading to a blissful recipe this Sunday morning is not very straight and rather steep. Don’t give up. Bare with me while we tackle another road block called hummus. Several years ago hummus got in the spotlights. Restaurant menus being overwhelmed by entries that had chick peas as a main ingredient mixed and seasoned with all kinds of stuff. Places that served only hummus in different variations opened it’s doors. You remember mr Hummus? I experimented with raw hummus based on uncooked sprouted chick peas. Slightly bitter but sweet enough. Meanwhile hummus has gotten back onto a more original track with now and then a side step to replacing chickpeas with white beans or adding chillie pepper to spice things up a bit.

It brings me to the final chapter of this early Sunday morning blog.

We call it Beetroot Hummus 
(although it doesn’t even come close)

1 fist size beetroot, peeled, quartered and cooked in water seasoned with generous salt and a few pepper corns
1 garlic clove
2 tablespoons hazelnut butter
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Pepper, salt
Olive oil and chopped parsley to garnish

Put it all together in a food processor blending it magically into a beautiful mellow purple consistency. Serve with anything. Raw spinach, sliced yellow capsicum (bell pepper) macerated in lemon juice, a secret poached egg (I am vegan since years) and dehydrated flaxseed crackers. 

Enjoy your Sunday.

Savoy Sauerkraut and Salty Tears of Love

Christel asks me to join her Sunday late afternoon presentation about fermentation. She demonstrates kombucha making and she likes me to do another ferment or pickle. There’s a small Savoy cabbage in the large fridge of the industrial kitchen of the health resort where both she and I work, Christel as a naturopath, me as a chef. I resolve to prepare for a quick pickle of the more distinguished and tasty sister of the original white sauerkraut cabbage: Savoy Cabbage. This quick pickling asks for vinegar and lemon juice instead of only salt and pressing down.

My stomach hurts. Deep inside. It’s not about the food I eat. But maybe the pickled cabbage will help me digest my pickled emotions. How do I pickle butterflies that nest in my stomach? I am not talking about bacteria. Tears in my eyes roll down my cheek. They taste salty like pickled emotions, the liquid drains, the flavor intensifies. It isn’t about conservation. It’s about transforming the chemistry. I love him so much. My stomach hurts.

1/2 of a small Savoy Cabbage, the leaves pulled, stem and harder parts cut off

1 tbsp course mineral salt

1 tbsp natural sweetener like coconut nectar, agave, maple sirup or honey

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

2 cups filtered water

Sterilized glass jar

Something sterilized to press down the leaves (a tall glass)

Optional:

1 tsp pepper corns or 1 tsp red chilly flakes or a piece of kombu (algae)

Neatly arrange the cabbage leaves in the glass jar, pressing down tightly. Heat the liquid ingredients with salt, sweetener and if you are using them either of the additional flavors. When the salt is dissolved, poor liquid over the cabbage topping the jar up all the way. Close the lid. Let cool until you can touch it without burning your hands. Shake it and leave it stand for 24 hours. It’s ready to consume. After you first open the jar, please keep it in the fridge until it’s empty.