Parfait Party -raspberries, rosewater and chocolate

Parfaits

Just picked raspberry and chocolate pudding parfait

Check out this end of summer parfait full of just picked berries, natural sweetness and healthy fats and proteins. Don’t be intimidated by all the layers – each one is super simple and each one can be used as a dessert on it’s own without the other.

To start:

*Soak 1 2/3 cup of  cashews in 4 cups of water for a few hours or overnight

* Make the base sauce for two of the layers: one quart of fresh raspberries, 1 cup water, 1 pinch salt, 1/2 tsp rose water. Blend all the above into a puree and then put through a fine sieve to remove the seeds. Makes about 1 quart (use what is left over for smoothies or dressings etc….)

Here’s the recipe(s):
The following recipes make 8 – 10 good sized individual parfaits
Decorate with a swirl of raspberry puree or fresh mint leaves
Raspberry  pudding:
The soaked cashews, about 2 cups (directions above), drained and rinsed
1 1/4 – 1 1/2 cups of the raspberry puree (directions above)
1/4 cup of agave, or 1/3 cup pitted dates
1 T coconut oil (optional), 1/4 – 1/2 tsp more rosewater if needed
1/4 tsp salt
Blend all the above together until smooth and creamy
Chocolate pudding:
1 cup mashed avocado
4-5 T cocoa powder, or raw cacao powder
6 t pitted dates
1/2 tsp vanilla, 2 drops peppermint extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 – 1 1/4   cups water
Blend all the above together until light and creamy
Crunchy coconut in-between layers:
two handfuls of coconut flakes
one handful date pieces
1 pinch salt
Put all the above into a blender and pulse a few times until roughly mixed
Kanten (vegan jello) Layer: this layer should go on top
2 cups apple juice
3 T agar flakes
1 pinch salt
1 cup raspberry puree
Bring the first three ingredients to a boil and stir until the agar is completely dissolved
Add the puree and stir well – Make this layer last so it doesn’t set before you are ready to pour it
Line up the parfait glasses and fill them assembly line style, one layer at a time in each before moving on to the next layer. Or just make one of the puddings and serve in wine or champagne glasses with fresh mint or chocolate shavings…….. best if chilled for a couple of hours or overnight
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Changing culture to support healthy eating

Two articles this past week caught my eye. One was in The New York Times and another is Dr. Mark Hyman’s blog, whose work I deeply respect. Both the discuss the need for our core values to change in order to make the right choices in regards to our health. In the Times article the values are those expressed by corporate and government policies, medical and educational institutions, and the social mores that influence our behavior. In short the very culture we live in. The Times article argues that because the food industry, grocery stores, farming practices, and government policies don’t support a healthy way off eating and living our attempts to make personal changes will be undermined.  True enough – through lack of education, means and access a huge swath of the American public has been denied the freedom to make healthy choices. And without a system of support, making and maintaining new and healthy lifestyle choices may be almost impossible for some people. What can we do to change our culture?

Hyman’s blog is making the point that there are real costs to making choices that make and keep us sick. Each of us waking up to this fact is key to making different choices based on different values.

When we make choices based on new and higher values it has a ripple effect – things begin to shift on many different levels. As individuals, doctors, schools, government agencies, corporations, etc., recognize the real costs of ignoring our current epidemic of ill health, and the simple lifestyle choices that could avert it, there will be an incentive to change. How this change comes about is up to each of us – but by embracing different values and acting on them we do have the power to change our current culture!

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Welcome

Kosmic Kitchen is the creation of Katherine Miller and is founded on her 30 plus years of experience in the field of whole foods nutrition, and 20 years of experience in the practice of meditation and yoga. From intimate gourmet dinners, to instruction in the culinary arts, to counseling individuals, groups, and institutions in all dimensions of health and wellbeing, Kosmic Kitchen has a down-to-earth perspective on the how to’s of transforming our health through our entire approach to eating and life.

We offer the following services

  • Health counseling
  • start with a 30 minute session to assess your needs and goals
  • chose from short and long term programs that support your individual action plan –  designed to achieve your goals for optimal health
  • Classes – public and private
  • the how to’s of whole foods preparation, learn the skills to transition from processed foods to whole foods.
  • on specific health issues around diet, exercise, aging, illness, and menopause etc…
  • Corporate consultations
  • developing whole foods products for large scale production
  • designing wellness programs for employees
  • intimate gourmet dinners – elegant vegan dinners prepared on site for special occasions

This is Katherine Miller’s blog page – feel free to comment on the posts below

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“Farm-aceuticals”

Just saw this great article in The New York Times – An Apple a Day, Doctor’s Orders.

Exposing children and adults to fresh seasonal produce, in this case by doctors prescribing fresh fruits and vegetables and backing it up by giving out coupons for them, is one of the best ways to fire up an appetite for healthy foods and acquire the taste buds to appreciate them. The next obstacles, once people start to appreciate fresh foods and want to eat well, are cost and availability. But I do see that as the general population demands more affordable fresh produce the food system will find ways to accommodate them. That is one thing it is designed to do – respond to consumer demand! It is not going to change all at once, but as we start doing the right things for our health, we will start to feel better, we will be empowered, and we will do less of the things that are not good for us. This does have an impact that ripples out from each of us.

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Teaching cooking…

Teaching people to love and to make really good food makes me as happy as making and eating a fantastic meal myself. SO I had my first cooking class in my tiny kitchen showing 7 curious students various dehydrating techniques, a kind of low temp cooking that preserves the nutrients and enzymes of fresh foods. It was a blast – the highlight of the 3 hour course was when I revealed the secret of my chia seed crackers, which are inspired by the paintings of Jackson Pollock. Layer upon layer of swirly spiraled veggies in a base of gray chia glop, with striking spears of chives, dotted with the fresh herbs, they come out like mini paper murals that you can cut into squares and eat. Digestible art – you eat them first with your eyes, then with your fingers, then with your ears as you tear off a bite and finally you get to taste them – each step a surprise to the senses.

My goal is to get people to look at a vegetable, think of 10 different ways they could prepare it, and be empowered to cre-ate. J

Here are some pictures of the cracker making process, pictures compliments of Judith Lerner, food writer for the Berkshire Eagle:

spreading the chia seed glop

building the layers of vegetables and herbs

loading the dehydrator for the final stage

finished chia cracker - ready to be cut into pieces

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Farmed and Foraged Dinner 2010

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Hunting for morels…..

Freshly dug ramps

Freshly dug ramps

Now I know why they are called mushroom hunters – for something that is rooted in the earth and doesn’t have legs to run away on they are incredibly elusive. If you want to find truly edible mushrooms growing in the wild, as opposed to just stumbling upon various amazing looking fungi once in a while, it appears you have to have a sharp eye and an intuitive (if not knowledgeable!) grasp of the forest they like to grow in. Since I haven’t ever seen a morel growing in the wild my eye can only imagine what it is supposed to be seeing. After a few hours of searching in an idyllic and unusually still forest in the most perfect weather possible – what a morel growing in the wild looks like is still a mystery. But I didn’t come home empty handed: black birch twigs to make tea, knot-weed and mustard garlic for lunch, wild ramps for dinner, and watercress and a couple of bites of cattail for tomorrow.

Gathering, cooking and eating plants from the forest has a slightly dangerous feel to it, even though I have foraged on and off for years since my Mom showed me how to eat sheep’s sorrel when I was little. No one planted this stuff, tilled the soil, got rid of the weeds, tested the product……no one even knows that it is there. It just grows, uncontrolled, unmonitored, in the unruly and seeming chaos of the wild. It is completely outside the realm of our food “system”. When I am searching for food, out in the open, in the fields and the woods, not knowing if I will find it or if it will have grown enough to be picked, it’s a completely different mind space than going out to buy it. I don’t pay money for it, I pay with time spent walking in nature, paying attention to the whole amazingly intricate ecosystem I am a part of, and sharing gratefully in the bounty. In one way I am just doing my job.

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Farmed and Foraged – a spring dinner challenge

Wild ramp soup with watercress cashew cream

Here in the Northeast spring is late, short, and fast, with the last heavy frost around Memorial Day. So having a 4 course dinner based on locally grown farmed and foraged foods in mid-May makes things very interesting—especially when you are a vegan chef. Without local meat or dairy to fill out the meal some ingenuity and finesse is required. But that is the challenge of the Farmed and Foraged event EnlightenNext is hosting in collaboration with Berkshire Grown, an annual Berkshire community affair with over 20 participating venues.  Last year a small team of us scoured the woods and wetlands surrounding the beautiful manor that is home to EnlightenNext and discovered all sorts of goodies—wild ramps, garlic, cattails, and watercress. We also made good use of the first things up in our very own kitchen garden: chives, Egyptian onions, sorrel, lemon balm, violets, rhubarb, and lovage.  And, we did our own in-house growing, sprouting French lentils for a new take on fresh and locally grown salad. J

But for me the reason it is so fulfilling to put on an event like this is that I get to showcase the values around food and consciousness that I strive to perfect in my lifelong culinary pursuits. Food is nourishment, for body, mind and soul, not only in the material sense but in the way any good art or music is—it brings us fully into the present while taking us to a place that is transcendent.

I use simple but unusual methods to bring out and enhance the natural vitality and vibrancy of the food. The quality of the food, the aliveness and lightness, the color, form and textures, as well as the intention with which it is made,  offers a different relationship to our sustenance and new dimensions of our humanity to contemplate.  And when we share new foods together, in the spirit of interest and exploration, the effect is exponential. In the end, taste is just how all these elements add up!

Here are some images from last year’s dinner. And this year will be even better! May 22nd is the date – 6:30-9pm. Spring has sprung more quickly than usual and with the warm wet weather the wild edibles are flourishing and we will have even more variety available from local farmers and our kitchen garden… For reservations call me at 413-822-8390 or email me at kmiller@enlightennext.org.

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My Thai

Lentil Coconut Curry Soup with Lime

Lentil Coconut Curry Soup - A sensuous delight

Thai inspired - Black lotus rice pilaf with bok choy salad and veggie kabobs

I call this “my” Thai because I am in no way a trained Thai chef, but!, I love Thai food and flavors and so have accommodated many of the parts to come up with what I refer to as Thai – I think you will be happy with the results!

Thai Indigo Lentil Soup

2 cups Indigo or French lentils – sorted and washed, cooked with 4 cups of water and a 2 inch piece of khombu sea vegetable until tender about 45 minutes to one hour

2 cups sliced shitake mushrooms and 1 T sliced garlic (or one can straw mushrooms), sautéed in 1 T coconut oil or grapeseed oil

1 can organic coconut milk 13.5-14oz, unsweetened

Approx. ¼ c Braggs Amino Acids – good substitute for fish sauce

1 T green curry paste – vegan -no shrimp – add more or less depending on how hot and spicy you like it

Add all the above to the cooked lentils and let simmer for 30 minutes or more for the flavors to blend and deepen. Add water if necessary to reach the desired soup thickness. Then add:

½c freshly squeezed lime juice – and let everything sit for at least 20 minutes before serving. Do not boil again once the lime juice has been added. This soup is even better the next day.

Use cilantro sprigs for garnish

Serves 6-8

Black Lotus Rice Pilaf

1/2 c black lotus rice

1 cup brown sweet rice

1/4 c quinoa

1/2 t salt

2 1/2 cups water

Put all the above into a heavy bottom pot with a tight fitting lid and bring to a boil, place on a flame tamer and let simmer for 45-55 minutes with out stirring or taking the lid off.

In the meantime dice 1/2 c of red pepper, 1/2 c yellow pepper, 1/4 cscallions and steam 1 c edamame (shelled)

Dressing: 1 bunch of scallions, 1/4 c umeboshi vinegar, 1/2 to 3/4 c grapeseed oil. Blend until smooth.

When the rice is cooked mix in the freshly chopped veggies and the edamame. Then add the dressing to taste, saving any extra for to use for future salads

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Food for worms…or fuel for consciousness?

Grey Thorn Tree

I happen to be in a remote location, on my own, a rare occurrence to be truly alone. The wind is howling around anything it can find and yet it can’t disturb the stillness. When you are outside in the wind and the snow and the wildness and there is no one around to see you or take note of your existence something lands. Lying down on a snowy rock under the spreading branches of a grey thorn tree and I understand viscerally I am no one, I do not stand apart or have an identity that transcends this process of life. If I never move again I become food for worms sooner rather than later and nothing is disturbed in this process, there is no grief, nothing is lost, nothing gained.

Every single animate and inanimate thing on this planet and in the universe is food for something else. It makes me wonder what we are food for? Since so many things live and die to feed us, is our contribution to the food chain merely to become fodder for worms at the end of our lives or the occasional meal for a bear or a shark??? What do we give life to – what do we live and die for in the end? Who are we in this process? My experience is that it’s not something we are just a part of – the process is who we actually are! Lying under that tree, without the usual people and things around that give me my outward identity, I have no doubt about it.

My take is that there is a fundamental drive in life towards greater consciousness and that we, as human beings who are self conscious, provide the food for that drive. We are what feeds it. We bring self awareness to this process of life/spirit/consciousness growing and evolving, as the process itself. Our physicality is the earthing point, the foundation that makes it possible for us to fuel consciousness. That is our part in the food chain – that is what we feed through our being here. That is why we are here. And the more awareness and intention and energy we bring to this the better fuel we are. We make it possible for consciousness to chew itself up and spit itself out, moving evolution forward. How’s that for food for thought?

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