A bowl of gratitude

I Am DIY Rice Bowl

A few times a year I’ll become obsessed with a particular dish from a particular restaurant. My appetite tends to be a tumultuous and fickle thing, and some days I’ll parade every food I can think of before my mental stomach and only to have each one met by nausea. It is then that my thoughts turn to the magic dish, whatever concoction it is that has become, not just an obsession, but somehow the only thing my body finds acceptable. Right now that panacea-on-a-plate is the absurdly named I Am Accepting Sushi Rice Bowl from a restaurant called Cafe Gratitude.

Cafe Gratitude is a kind of pricey, mostly raw, entirely vegan restaurant with three locations around the Bay Area. The general response around town to CG’s very particular aesthetic seems to be a mixture of disdain, confusion, and either worshipful or grudging appreciation of the food. Be that as it may, that singular rice bowl has become, for me, an addiction.

I crave this dish to the point that I really can’t be running off to spout affirmations and spend $10 every time I want a warm spoonful of nutty red rice with kale and avocado that feels in my mouth like the superpowered pinnacle of all that is healthy and nourishing. I even tried sneaking a look at the recipe given in the I Am Grateful cookbook, for sale at all CG retail outlets, but the recipe was quite clearly not the one used by the restaurant. Today I happened to come across a gorgeous post on 101 Cookbooks with a recipe for Poached Eggs Over Rice, and since this was almost what I wanted, but still not quite the thing, I was inspired to call the cafe and just ask them what’s in that bowl of Acceptance.

This turned out to lead to one of those magical, karmic CSA-box experiences. Rory over at CG very nicely looked up for me the components in the dressing, which was the heretofore missing piece. And so I realized I was going to have to make my reproduction without scallions, cucumber, avocado, and orange juice – and that’s a lot of flavor elements to lose. The avocado I was already planning to substitute with poached egg, but the orange juice was especially sad, since my palate immediately recognized OJ as vital to the brightness of the dish.

But when I headed off to see if I had any greens in my as-yet unpacked box, I found that not only did I have a lovely bunch of collards, but that this week’s box also brought two unexpected ingredients: a bunch of fat scallions and three navel oranges!

In short, this dish turned out amazing, easily equal to if not tastier than the original, and well able to satisfy those cravings with very little effort. And so from now on I think you’ll find that, if I’m going to be declaring aloud my general state of acceptance, I’m going to be doing it in my pajamas.

The recipe for the I Am DIY Rice Bowl (modified from the 101 Cookbooks recipe) can be found below the more… tag. Continue reading

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Hot potatoes!

Two boxes’ worth of sweet potatoes and a houseguest to feed. Pascal was stopping off here on his way to India, but we saw no reason to save Indian flavors for the journey ahead.

Turning to my trusty simple-but-delicious cookbook, 5 Spices, 50 Dishes, we cooked up all those sweet potatoes with serrano chiles, mustard seeds, and ginger and made ourselves a tender, burningly spicy, smoky extravaganza of beta-caroteney goodness. A simple quinoa pilaf, beautifully combining red and white quinoa, a lettuce and arugula salad with my beloved lemon oil, and a nice soupy dal courtesy of our friends at Tasty Bite, and we were ready for the kind of well-balanced, stunningly lovely, almost revoltingly healthy kind of meal I like my houseguests to think I eat all the time.

Sweet Potatoes with Chiles, Ginger, and Mustard Seeds

Napa Cabbage

As the weather gets colder, I find myself with a hole in my belly that can only be filled by some kind of indefinable, completely yummy food. For me this mysterious ultimate craving usually falls into the savory category, and I do know that it should be hot, and have a soft, yielding texture.

I’ve had this huge napa cabbage sitting in my fridge since the previous box, and so I decided to see what my beloved Asian Vegetables cookbook had to offer. In the section for napa cabbage I found a recipe for okonomiyaki, which are Japanese savory pancakes. The recipe might as well have been subtitled “The answer to your winter food longings.”

I sliced up some of that napa cabbage along with a red onion I’d bought (because who can resist that color combo of pale green and lavender?). I mixed a few of my eggs with some broth and flour and tamari, stirred in the veggies, poured it all in a hot oiled pan, and scattered bits of my beloved tempeh bacon on top.

Okonomiyaki, uncooked

Then I cooked it, quartered and flipped it, let it cook through, and sprinkled it with toasted nori and sesame seeds.

Hot, savory, yielding. Stuffed with sweet, soft napa cabbage and red onions. Full of flavor from the seaweed and sesame. And I haven’t even mentioned the crazy dipping sauce made with ketchup, sake, and dried mustard!

Okonomiyaki, cooked

(The recipe for okonomiyaki is beyond the “more”) Continue reading

Sweet Corn

The last sweet corn of summer. Three ears yielded a lot of kernels – maybe even more on these cobs than the non-bonus cobs I had a couple of weeks ago. Libby husked and de-silked the stalks. She reported finding corn worms, but this time I was spared interacting with them in person.

Tonight for dinner Libby and I had a beautiful meal of Star Anise Tempeh (from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Suppers), pillowy white sushi rice, a huge green salad (using some of a previous week’s lettuce and radishes and carrots, plus some leftover Nicoise green beans), the Indian Yogurt I’m obsessed with which is a variation of a 5 Spices, 50 Dishes recipe, and our yummy, yummy corn, cooked up with turmeric, mustard seed, dried serrano chiles, parsley, and hint of sugar in a delicious preparation from 5S, 50D.