Saturday, April 17, 2010

late night moonie pies



Sometimes in life, you just have to be impuslive and spontaneous. Although I have been quite busy these days, I've had quite a craving to make some raw desserts. And so it is that I embarked on Heathy Pace's great Moonpie Challenge on the final day of the contest! I really didn't want to miss out on all the moonie pie fun, so upon Heather's advice that I had "one more day, girlie", I thought I must, must, must get in on the moonpie action. So I ordered her Mooniepie recipe e-book (along with her impressive Just Desserts, both are a great addition to any raw kitchie) from Sweetly Raw, and got busy!

What a whirlwind it was in my sunny raw kitchie today, full of food processing, and conceptualizing many different flavor combinations (one of my favorite things to do on any given day). For my versions of the sumptuous dessert, I came up with three fantastic moonie pie flavours: 

orange creamsicle sunshine
 
sweet vanilla chai
 
pineapple surprise

Originally, I had wanted to make a pomegranate-inspired moonpie, but much to my chagrin, I could not find any fresh pomegranates on such short notice. I'd also been dreaming of an apricot caramel, date caramel, or mango-coconut moonpie, but these required too many ingredient changes from the contest guidelines.

Anyhow, the following flavors were so much fun and really complimented Heather's absolutely fabulous recipe. I don't know how this girl does it, but she really knows her raw desserts. Everything about the recipe was 'spot on', as we Brits say. I was very impressed with the vanilla cream recipe, as it evolved into a wonderfully thick, rich, and creamy texture once setting in the fridge for a few hours. There are so many possibilities with this recipe, and I opted to make some mini, almost bite size moonpies so I could share the mooniepie goodness with my friends and family post-contest.

sweet vanilla chai moonie 
accompanied by a slice of vanilla bean and star anise

Now, onto my slight modifications of the original recipe: for the orange creamsicle sunshine, I added some freshly squeezed organic orange juice to the vanilla cream filling, and this combination was pure choccie-orange-vanilla heaven! 

With the sweet vanilla chai, I added a sprinkling of a vanilla chai sugar blend that I'd used in some previous recipes around Christmastime. I'm a real fan of vanilla chai spices and tea, so this was an inevitable flavor choice. This combination has a bit of a kick, which I really enjoyed; both sweet and spicy! 

Lastly, with the pineapple surprise, I added some fresh, crushed pineapple from the best (I'm not kidding) and juiciest pineapple I have stumbled upon in eons.  

All in all, I love each flavour, although the orange creamsicle sunshine brought back childhood memories of my affinity for SAD orange creamsicles from the local Avondale convenience store. As a wee girl, I remember going with my wonderful Aunt on many a sunny afternoon to purchase an orange creamsicle. Also, the sweet vanilla chai moonies were so refreshing, and would work well for an afternoon raw choccie dessert/tea break on any day of the week. YUM!

 close up of the sweet vanilla chai moonie
 
With all of the moonies, I opted to use coconut oil for the dark chocolate coating, rather than cacao butter (as I didn't have any on hand).  Also, I didn't use any agave powder in the vanilla filling, as there was none to be found in my neck of the woods. 


Overall, I'm quite pleased with how the moonie pies turned out, as it was my first time making such a recipe. Although I wish the photos/my camera could have captured the flavours a bit more, and also that I had allowed myself more time to tend to the moonies, I am so happy that I decided to venture on a late night moonie pie endeavour.  My man was so encouraging, and cheered me on from the 'sidelines' (other room), while I was busy, busy for a few hours whipping up delicious cakes, of which he tried and exclaimed, "delicious"! It is always nice to have a resident taste tester in the wings, especially on a last minute, Saturday evening kitchie frenzy.

I would write more, but I must get in my post to Heather before the midnight deadline! Now to clean up the maelstrom that is my kitchen :) Note to Heather: Once these moonies chill in the freezer a wee bit more, I can take better piccies :) I also need some natural sunlight with my camera!

On a final note, I did a little research about the history of the moonpie, and learned that the original moonpie was conceptualized in 1917 and was trademarked and registered in 1919 by a Mr. Earl Mitchell Sr, a bakery salesman. One day, he visited a company store that catered to coal miners, the latter of who were looking for a treat that was solid and filling for those long hours of work.  Mr. Mitchell inquired as to how big this dessert should be, and an anonymous miner held out his hands to the moon in the sky, encircling the orb with his hands in a circular fashion and exclaimed, "that big"! (moonpie.com).
 

Happy Moonie Pie making everyone. A  big thanks to Heather for offering this great contest! Wonderful idea girlie :)

(PS...how many times can you say mooniepie in one blog post?! Many!)

Friday, April 16, 2010

sun salutations from florida: part 3

Another great moment during my trip to Florida was an excursion to downtown Delray Beach for their 'Green Market,' held every Saturday from 8-12pm. This market features vendors selling everything from fresh produce and cut flowers to homemade lip balm, candles, organic teas! The abundance of the latter, particularly orchids, made me want to pack it all in and move to Florida permanently :)

Delray is quite a beautiful section of south Florida, and this market just helped to highlight the sunshine and fun vibes that I experienced while perusing the downtown core and its many little shops! My particularly favorite stops at the market included some of the fresh produce vendors, and a mostly raw foods/bakery table! Fun, fun, fun! Read on for more.

Adventures with Raw Food in Downtown Delray


I was fortunate to have a brief conversation with Michelle, whose business "Michelle's Tasty Live Foods" focuses on wraps, sprouted salads, energy bars, veggie juices and pâtés, dressings, raw soups, and spelt sandwiches. She also delivers her tasty creations and can provide customized orders. Contact her at (561) 276-2184 or stop by the Green Market every Saturday morning if you are in the area!

Upon stumbling on her table, I noticed she had some dehydrated kale chippies, and sumptuous looking raw cookies with a coconut base. I enjoyed how she listed the ingredients so customers knew what flavors to expect. 

kale chippies and dehydrated flax crackers- yum!

tasty looking coconut and almond based raw cookies with flowers

I also had my very first taste of wild honeycomb, which I purchased from this fun produce vendor, along with some Florida Valencia oranges (which unfortunately were not that great).

fresh produce (love the chalkboards)

wild honeycomb from  the Tropical Blossom Honey Co. 

I was quite impressed with the honeycomb, and it was an interesting 'experience', as you have to chew the honeycomb, which has a gummy texture. I think there are some great benefits to eating the entire honeycomb, rather than more refined honey (even if it is raw). This got me to thinking about the following questions:
 
Have any of you tried honeycomb before? What are your thoughts? 
Yum or 'num'? :) 

Also, what are your thoughts on 'beeganism' as opposed to veganism? In your opinion, can there be room for bee products, such as raw honey, bee pollen, and wild honeycomb in a raw foods diet?

One more stop before we headed back home was a trip to the Woolbright Farmer's Market, which had some fresh produce and pretty plants. All in all, there were many interesting stops along the way during this trip, and I was pleased that my interest in raw foods, natural living intersected with the vacation. It just goes to show how raw foods and plant based living is really catching on in all part of this vast expansive earth of ours!

One more thing: here is a little in-joke I had whilst staying in Delray; this song kept ringing through my head - anyone remember it? :)

Marc Jordan - Marina Del Rey

Bye for now, and have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

sun salutations from florida: part 2

Another highlight of my vacation in Florida included a stop at The Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens. The space was established in 1977 as a center for Japanese arts and culture in Southern Florida, and is known as "the essence of Japan in Florida."

Apart from the beautiful gardens, there is also a fantastic gift shop that carries the most gorgeous trinkets and shiny baubles, as well as a fabulous cafe/restaurant that overlooks part of the gardens and a glistening lake. My family and I sat down for a wonderful meal before we perused the gardens and museum. While there were some more raw options, I opted to stick to the more traditional Japanese menu ('when in Rome'...;).

For my lunch, I opted to try the miso soup, wakame salad, and edamame appetizer. Although these items are not technically 'raw', I do think that fermented foods such as miso, and soy products such as edamame have major health benefits, and I like to have them from time to time in moderation. 

For the most part, the meal was quite enjoyable, although the miso soup had some mushy tofu which wasn't all that pleasant. I was also able to introduce my family to edamame, as it was their first time trying the delicious green soybean. They were impressed: 

miso and wakame

I heart edamame

Regarding the gardens, I was amazed at the organization of the paths, walkways, monuments, and different sections for particular gardens. While not many flowers were in bloom, the bamboo was most impressive and helped to highlight what buds were flowering. 

There was also a museum dedicated to 'Japan through the eyes of a child' located in the center of the gardens in a converted house. I was also intrigued by a bonzai tree display which featured different types of bonzai trees, complete with their names and growing information. Many of the trees had been 'in progress', being sculpted for over ten years.

All in all, this little stop was a wonderful excursion, and in many ways was much different than my overexposure to Floridian palm trees and beaches. I really enjoyed our visit to the space, as some much needed 'zen' was in order after my somewhat disastrous sunburn. My words of wisdom: always wear sunscreen, no matter how innocent the sun appears to be!

Some final visual highlights from the adventure:

 sculpture and lake

 beautiful monument 

 one of the many walkways

 1950's era/Buddy Holly inspired? 
ridiculous popular music joke - apologies :)


some flowers in bloom

words to live by

Next stop: the Downtown Delray Green Market, complete with a raw foods vendor, wild honeycomb, and sunshine. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

sun salutations from florida: part 1

Hi everyone! It feels like an eternity since my last post. I do apologize, although I must admit, I was hiding out in the most sunniest of places. I took a wonderful family vacation to South Florida at the end of March!


What I was most looking forward to on the trip was spending some much needed time in the sun, walking in the sand, and perusing the area of Delray Beach. I had never been to Florida before, so I was elated to be ensconced by palm trees, warm air, and, above all, sun sun sun! I was also hoping that some raw food related adventures might make themselves apparent, and sure enough, they did!

I always enjoy traveling, and I love airports; they are a kind of transitional, free space in which the options of travel seem endless. I dig that feeling of freedom and possibility.  However, what I could do without is the food options. Not once in the four airports I visited on this trip, did I find a vegetarian or vegan salad. Every salad had some sort of animal product included, be it chicken, or eggs. Anyhow, there was an abundance of fruit cups, and fresh fruit to be had. 

During our stop-over in Newark, we were lucky enough to stumble upon a Jamba Juice kiosk, where I promptly ordered a freshly squeezed carrot juice. It was a refreshing break before boarding our plane to Florida:

Jamba Juice Carrot Juice atop luggage in Newark
 
Traveling and the raw food diet are an interesting combination. It can either be problematic or incredibly easy, depending on your perspective. For the majority of my trip, I snacked on fresh fruit and soaked almonds, which I purchased in advance. I always recommend keeping a few staples on hand to keep things simple, and I also suggest 'going with the flow' in terms of purchasing food. For example, I hardly encountered any organic produce options during my trip, and purchased most of my produce from markets (more to come in a later post). All in all, the spontaneity of food purchasing and traveling offers the possibility for impromptu raw food recipes, which is always fun!

The morning after we arrived, I fashioned a breakfast fruit salad out of some strawberries, pears, mango, and apples purchased from the local Winn Dixie (I just love the name). I was also surprised that I could purchase aloe 'leaves' for one dollar at the store. This would become an important healing component to a particularly harsh sunburn I received on my first day in the sun (ouch - it was since evolved into a lovely brown tan): 
 
apples, limes, lemons, mangoes, and aloe (right)

fruit salad with orange juice

For lunch, I combined some left-over fruit salad with broccoli slaw (any thoughts on this interesting product?), fresh avocado, pomegranate - agave dressing (unfortunately, the brand name escapes me) and cracked pepper. It was surprisingly delicious: 

 broccoli slaw and strawberry 'surprise'

Stay tuned for my next posts from Sunny Florida. These will include some photos from the beach, some interesting markets, and an adventure at the Morikami Japanese Gardens! Til then :)