Time flies when you’re buried in snow. It seems like only a few weeks ago I was down in Florida enjoying the ocean and the sun. Months have passed but the memories remain. I took a road trip with my former girl friend and now good friend Stacia down to Bradenton, Florida in mid December. We spent Christmas with her cousin Tess Challis and family. Tess is a vegan chef and author who is also the co-founder of Get Waisted, a healthy vegan version of weight watchers. Tess’ husband Carl is the head chef at a raw food cafe in Sarasota called Ionie. I spent a day in the kitchen Tess and Carl… tasty good times.
Now I’m back in Michigan at Camp Rawnora. There’s no shortage of snow in these parts. I’m looking forward to the start of the 2014 season here at the camp. We still have 2014 Raw Recipe calendars available. It’s never too late to pick one up.
Our first event this year is the March Maple Water Fast beginning on Wednesday March 19th through Sunday March 23rd.
Recently while in Chicago I went up to Highland Park with my friend Cindy to visit a new raw restaurant set up by Matthew Kenney. “In the Raw” is the manifestation of Beth Taussig’s desire to bring raw foods to her local community. She spent some time chatting with us about her journey into raw foods and the experience of opening a restaurant. I remember my raw food restaurant opening experience when I helped to open Shakti Life Kitchen in Atlantic Beach, FL back in… actually I can’t quite remember… October of 2008 maybe. A lot has happened since then… European tour, Canadian adventures, visit to Kauai and much more.
Now I’m up in Michigan running a retreat center (Camp Rawnora), growing a garden and living a blessed life. I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to. Drop me a line with the details and enjoy pictures from my gardens and my restaurant review of In the Raw.
Recently I was in Grand Rapids, MI on a raw food detox mission. I’m not at liberty to discuss the details of this covert operation at this time… just kidding. I was there doing The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Raw Food Detox stuff and visiting Lansing for a raw potluck and screening of Forks Over Knives. If you haven’t seen Forks Over Knives you need to get with it and watch it online, rent it, buy it… you could even steal it as long as you promise to show it to everyone in your life. It’s great to see conscious media catching on. This movie was made for all those people that felt totally jipped when they watched Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. Yeah, you know the film about global warming that completely overlooks factory farming’s contribution to green house gas emission… it tops all of the worlds motor vehicle emissions. Al Gore was too busy tending cattle on his family farm and polishing his Oscar and Nobel Peace prize to notice Livestock’s Long Shadow. No worries, even though Forks Over Knives is about degenerative diseases and diet they still manage to squeeze the facts in. Livestock production is the main source of human-made methane which is responsible for 22% of man’s total contribution. I say “man” because I think if it were left up to woman, factory farms would have never come into existence.
The film screening was a great success with close to 100 people showing up. I had the honors of conducting the Q and A session after the screening. A big
“THANK YOU” to Charles Terry for organizing the event in Lansing.
Grand Rapids, MI is one of my new favorite cities. The city has a cozy and clean downtown surrounded by welcoming neighborhoods. There’s a mixture of college housing and residential homes from the turn of the century. My friend Kim lives with in walking distance of the local vegan restaurant Bartertown Diner. This blurb from their website rings true with me for many reasons:
“We as Chefs want to take back the food and serve it to you the way it was meant to be: fresh and local. We are craftsmen and want to have the space to perform our craft for you. At Bartertown education is the key. We will not hide recipes from you. We will have classes on cooking raw/vegan and vegi dishes, and what it means to eat this way. Our focus will also be on the having a simple diner atmosphere that will be fun and exciting to visit for all”
Bartertown is also a worker owned business. At the time we visited they were a “cash only” establishment but as of Oct. 18th 2011 it shows on their website that they are taking steps to be able to accept credit/debit cards. We stopped in for lunch and tried all the raw items on the menu that day. Keep in mind this review is coming from a seasoned raw food chef who has done his fair share of work in the trenches. With that said, here’s my review of the raw items we tried.
I expected a little more from a menu item touted as raw pizza. There’s 101 ways to peel a mango and just as many to make “raw pizza” but one thing that is critical for pulling off a believable pizza is a dehydrator for making the crust. Then you need some nut/seed cheese and tomatoes. And the final touch is some herbs to bring it home. This was zucchini slices with a cauliflower medley perched on top of it. It was good, don’t get me wrong. It just needed a more appropriate name.
Raw Trash Salad
Appropriately named this was a hearty salad combination that took me back to my college days of making “garbage time stew”. That’s where you open the pantry and the refrigerator and just start combining whatever is on hand. The only difference here is that there was some tasty method to the raw trash madness. The salad featured a mound of salad greens, walnut taco meat, marinated veggies, sliced apples and a cashew based creamy dressing. Good eat’n! Once again very fresh and hydrating unlike some of the raw food cuisine you encounter at raw cuisine establishments.
Zucchini Noodles Salad
This noodle salad was similar to Raw Trash Salad, minus the greens, plus the zucchini noodles, cauliflower and brocolli. Very fresh, very tasty. On their own each of the 3 salads is unique enough taste experience but when you have them all on the table at the same time you notice some similarities and overlapping of ingredients. As a chef I know that at times you must create a variety of menu items out of the same core ingredients. Not a big deal though. I realized that what Bartertown specialized in was vegan, local and seasonal cuisine… raw was just a bonus that I much appreciated.
After to speaking with chef/co-owner Ryan about the raw menu at Bartertown I found out they don’t have a dehydrator on premises. That explains a lot. They’re a vegan cooked diner with some raw food items so it’s not realistic to expect exotic and decadent raw cuisine from them. One thing to keep in mind is that with a seasonal menu things change. What we did get were some great fresh salad combinations featuring local produce, prepared with love and a couple slices of quality raw vegan pie.
Chocolate Pie, Lemon Pie
Bravo to Jeremy Kuhn of Deliciosity for producing raw vegan pies for Bartertown. We tried both a chocolate and lemon slice of cheese cake style pie. I enjoyed that the chocolate wasn’t super super chocolatey. I noticed slight hints of carob in the coconut oil based filling. The lemon pie was tasty as well with hints of banana. Needless to say when Kim and I left the table there wasn’t any food left behind. There’s more to the menu at Bartertown then just raw food so if you’re in Grand Rapids, stop in and give them a try. Keep in mind that as of this post they are CLOSED TUESDAYS. Grow your own, buy local, eat seasonally and Keep It Live!
I’ve been back in Florida for a couple of weeks now. I’m happy to be home but missing my friends and family on the West Coast. The last day I spent in San Diego ended with a family feast with my aunt, cousins and friend Robyn. We put together some raw food delights as an offering for the evening’s meal. This is my Italian side of the family and they have an appreciation for delicious food. Back in the day I used to be quite a contender at the dinner table; devouring pasta, pizza, prosciutto and washing everything down with copious amounts of wine. Things have changed for me personally. Greens, veggies and fruits are at the heart of my diet and alcohol is a rarity unless it’s the trace amounts found in kombucha. That’s not to say we were going to go hungry. Robyn and I arrived in style with raw pizza, marinated veggies and an Egyptian Pie. The pizza crust was a simple combo of sprouted buckwheat, sunflower seeds, onion and spices. We topped it with a seed cheeze and marinated veggies. It came out kinda like a bruschetta. The veggie mix was tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, onion, garlic and fresh basil. All these ingredients were salted and allowed to drain and then I added some lemon juice and olive oil.
The Egyptian Pie is a recipe that I got from my first raw food teacher Francis. It’s listed in my recipe book Zen and the Art of Gadgeting as Egyptian Cake. We had to make some modifications to the recipe listed in the book. First of all the recipe says to use only soaked almonds to make the crust. What fun is that? We soaked then dehydrated the almonds then we added dates, cinnamon, orange zest and Himalayan salt to the crust. For the banana creme filling we added ginger, vanilla and orange juice. Robyn and I had fun reworking the recipe and making additions. Best of all was making lunch out of the leftovers from pie making. I’d have to say that this recipe is pretty easy, appealing to the eye and tasty. The addition of pomegranate and shredded coconut to top the pie was perfection. At the end of dinner there was no pie left at all. It was a complete hit. Thanks Robyn for the brilliant idea to make it, thanks Francis for designing the recipe and thank you family for eating it.
My West Coast visit did not end there. I spent the next two days in Murrieta, CA with my cousin and his family. The weather in Murrieta is typically hot and dry in early October. Well exceptions were made for my visit. The day before I arrived it was sunny and 91F, the two days I was there it was overcast, rainy and in the 60s. I got blamed for bringing the weather. No worries though, it gave me time to make some tasty treats in the kitchen. The first night there I made a soup with hemps seeds, avocado, miso and a variety of veggies. The next evening we dined on egg-less egg salad and bell pepper pesto boats. Oh yeah, and I made ice cream with young Thai coconut and soaked cashews. It was good eating raw vegan style. I look forward to my next visit. Look for the egg-less egg salad recipe in my next post.