A December Weekend

This morning I woke up to sunshine, blue skies, 50 degree temps and a bright sparkling river outside my living room window. We bought our Christmas tree this weekend so the house smells like the holidays and despite having been on hold with BofA for the past 30 minutes, life feels very cheerful and full. I’ve chosen optimism over last week’s pessimism. It was getting tiring feeling glum. I am incredibly affected by the state of the weather, can you tell? 🙂

Regardless, the weekend was very nice.

It started on Friday night with a special class with one of my favorite San Francisco yoga teachers, Les Leventhal. He was in town for a weekend of workshops. Friday’s class was so heartfelt and warm with a dynamic sequence that included lots of standing twists and arm balances, my favorite. Being in his class again made me really homesick for San Francisco and its yoga scene but as class went on I became more and more grateful for the chance to be homesick at all. If I’d never left home, I’d never have known how wonderful it is. Wow, I’m all sorts of PollyAnna today!

Saturday was snow filled. White flurries came floating down as I made my way to my Saturday morning classes. After teaching, Michael, Eli and I headed out for a walk and coffee. I must say having a proper winter jacket makes the cold much more manageable. Imagine that.

Saturday evening we picked up our Christmas tree.

Christmas Tree ShoppingIMG_2635

Saturday night we met our friends, Kristy and Eric, for dinner at Cafe Sushi in Cambridge.

I had a slew of vegetable rolls.

First up, a piece of fennel and wasabi. Tasty.

IMG_2636

Then an asparagus roll on the left. Best of the night.

And a roll with assorted pickled vegetables on the right which was okay but I probably wouldn’t order again.

IMG_2638

After dinner we went to the Miracle of Science for a drink. They were playing old 90s R&B hits. The whole place was like a big bizarre dance party. The people watching was amazing. Below is a dark picture of Kristy and me.

Kristy and Me

There was lots of discussion about Kristy’s new hashtag #lifebetweentwofingers so naturally there are about 30 pictures like the below.

IMG_2690

IMG_2658

And one sweet kissing one of course.

IMG_2692

I swear Eric was there too but I didn’t have a good pic and didn’t think he’d appreciate a blurry call out.

Sunday morning I woke up with a lovely sore throat. So,we ended up spending the majority of the day watching football on the couch while Michael played with his new Ipad and I drank lots of tea.

And that brings us back to this sunshine filled day.

Hope you can enjoy a dose of vitamin D as well!

Vegan Pesto

Back when I was less adventurous in my eating and my cooking I ate a lot of tomato, mozzarella and basil paninis.  Part of it was habit and laziness but the other is that the panini is a comfort food to me.  I love the crispy bread with the warm tomato and the smell of basil. It always takes me back to the apartment I shared with my sister in San Francisco. The kitchen was right off the front door so the minute you walked in you were hit by the unmistakable scent of basil, which was, without fail, always sitting on the counter. Every time I cook with it, it transports me back to that little kitchen in Pac Heights. I just love how food is so powerful in that way.

Now that I eat less bread and cheese, I don’t make quite as many paninis as I once did but over the weekend I had a craving. Unfortunately the Whole Foods near me only carries big tubs of basil which felt like a waste for one or two sandwiches. But I didn’t let that deter me. I figured I’d use a few leaves for paninis and use the rest to make vegan pesto. After a few cheese sandwiches, I didn’t feel the need to add any to the pesto.

I used a mixture of pistachios and cashews for this recipe. My cousin is allergic to both and I know my aunt will ask, so feel free to sub pine nuts, almonds or walnuts. All would be delicious.

I also soaked my pistachios and cashews for a few hours before I processed them but I’m not 100% sure this is necessary.  If you try this recipe without soaking them first, let me know how it turns out.

Vegan Pesto

1/4 cup pistachios

1/4 cup cashews

3 cups tightly packed fresh basil, destemmed

1/4 cup olive oil

Juice of one lemon

1/2 tablespoon garlic

pinch of sugar

Salt, to taste

—————–

Soak pistachios and cashews for a few hours if you’d like.

Throw nuts, basil, lemon juice and garlic into a food processor.

Whirl processor while adding a steady stream of olive oil.

Add sugar and salt at very end to taste.

If it’s still too thick, add a bit more olive oil or lemon juice. To be honest, sometimes I just add a few tablespoons of water to loosen it up instead of oil. I don’t love a super oily pesto.

I’m not a huge pasta fan but I’m sure Michael will eat it atop some GF spaghetti. One of my favorite ways to eat pesto is over vegetables. I steam whatever I have in my fridge and then mix in a generous helping of the pesto while the veggies are still piping hot. The pesto thins from the heat and evenly coats the vegetables. Absolutely delicious.

Enjoy!

Vegan Corn Soup

On my walk home from the Amtrak station on Tuesday, the Copley Square farmers market was in full swing so I made a little pit stop. One of the booths was selling 6 ears of corn for $1.50. Knowing this might be the last of the summer corn, I just couldn’t resist. Plus, that’s a really good deal. 🙂

When I got home, I tucked the corn in the fridge and thought I would use it in some salads or maybe we’d have corn on the cob sometime this week. But then I started thinking about soup.

When I lived in San Francisco, boy that sounds weird to type, I ate soup all the time. Partially because it was 58 and foggy 75% of the time but also because I worked downtown near about 5 different San Francisco Soup Companies. Like most people, my lunch hour wasn’t really an hour but more of a hurried run to the nearest restaurant to grab something quick to eat in front of my computer. Soup Co.’s southwestern corn chowder was an old standby.

It’s not exactly cool in Boston yet so I wasn’t really craving a heavy corn and potato based soup like the ones I’m so used to eating. Then I remembered reading this post about corn broth and decided to play around with building flavors in the stock and letting the corn be the star.

Vegan Corn Soup

6 ears of summer corn

8 cups water

1 red onion

1 bell pepper, I used a combination of yellow and red

1 tablespoon Earth Balance or butter

1/2 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon salt

First husk the corn.

Then remove kernels from cob. The easiest way I’ve found to do this is to place a small bowl upside down in a larger bowl. Put the corn on the smaller bowl as a stand of sorts. Then run your knife down the cobs. The kernels will fall into the larger bowl instead of all over the counter and floor.

Once all kernels are removed, place the corn cobs and water in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Turn heat to medium high and cook for 40 mins.

Strain broth through a fine sieve. 8 cups of water made a little over 4 cups of broth.

In a pan, saute onions and peppers in Earth Balance and oil until lightly brown. I used both Earth Balance and oil because I wanted a really rich flavor but you can use one or the other if you prefer.

Add garlic, red pepper flakes and 3/4 of the corn kernels, saute for 1 minute. Reserve the rest of the kernels to use at the end.

Add corn broth to the vegetables and bring to a boil. Then simmer for 30 minutes.

Take pot off stove and using an immersion blender, blend until smooth.

Add remaining corn kernels and simmer for 5 additional minutes.

I ate mine with hot sauce and cilantro. Green onions would also be a tasty addition.

Enjoy!