Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Dining at the Ravens Cookbook: A Review, Recipe and a Giveaway

I'm so pleased to talk about this wonderful book today. It is derived from a great place -- The Stanford Inn -- an all-vegan eco-resort located in Mendocino, CA. I haven't had the pleasure of staying at the inn or dining at its all-vegan restaurant, The Ravens, but after looking through this cookbook, I really want to make both of those events a priority the next time I'm in northern California. 

This cookbook is lovely. I've really enjoyed flipping through it. There's a forward by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, color pictures are included next to nearly every recipe, and each photographed dish is artfully and elegantly presented so that you can sense just how classy the restaurant itself is. It is obvious that the authors put a lot of time and effort into creating the recipes and writing the cookbook. 

There are so many recipes that I still want to try, such as:
  • Citrus Polenta with Braised Garden Greens and a Creamy Toasted Cashew Sauce
  • Ravens Chilaquiles
  • Trumpet Royale or Tofu Satay with Peanut Sauce
  • Almond Hazelnut-Encrusted Tempeh
  • Vanilla Crème Brûlée
However, there are only so many hours in a day, so I will be sharing with you just one delicious recipe from the book, for Potato Leek Soup with Drunken Leeks. Leeks are in season right now, and potatoes and vegetable broth are both likely foods you have on hand already, so this should be a fairly easy soup to pull together for dinner. I hope you enjoy it just as much as I did!

4–6 servings

This is one of The Ravens’ very popular soups. When it’s on the menu at night, the next day there’s none left for the staff “family meal.” In the days of root cellars, potato leek soups were commonly served in winter. We serve this soup year-round.

2 tablespoons olive oil
4–5 medium Yukon Gold or red-skinned potatoes, roughly chopped
1/2 cup chopped celery
⅓ cup minced parsley
3 large leeks, cleaned and thinly sliced
6 cups Ravens All-Purpose Vegetable Stock or store-bought vegan broth
1/2 cup coconut cream (use the top layer of coconut cream from a can of coconut milk)
1–2 tablespoons lemon juice to taste
Salt and white pepper to taste
Drunken Leeks (see note)
Crispy Leeks (see note)
Tangy Sour Crème, for garnish 
  1. Heat olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add potatoes, celery, parsley, and leeks. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft, 8–12 minutes.
  2. Add vegetable stock, and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 30–40 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
  3. Leave chunky, or blend in a high-speed blender to desired texture.
  4. Lastly, add the coconut cream, and season to taste with lemon juice, salt, and white pepper.
  5. Garnish with Drunken Leeks, Crispy Leeks, and Tangy Sour Crème, in that order.
To make the Drunken Leeks: Cut 2 leeks lengthwise into thin strips. In a heavy sauté pan, wilt the leek strips in 1 teaspoon olive oil over medium heat. Douse wilted leeks with 1 cup red wine and simmer for 10 minutes.

To make the Crispy Leeks: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Slice 1 leek into 1/4-inch disks and sauté in 1 teaspoon olive oil with 1 teaspoon salt. Transfer to a sheet tray and crisp up in oven for 15 minutes, or until browned.

Makes 1 3/4 cups

This sour crème can be used as a base dressing in potato salad or coleslaw. For those of us who like Thousand Island dressing over a wedge of head lettuce, re-create it by adding a small amount of ketchup and drained pickle relish to this recipe.

1 (14-ounce) package Wildwood Sprouted Silken Tofu or 1 (13-ounce) box other firm silken tofu
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon brown rice syrup

  1. Combine all ingredients in a high-speed blender and puree until smooth.
  2. Season with additional salt or lemon juice to desired taste.
BenBella books and the authors of Dining at the Ravens, Jeff and Joan Stanford, have generously offered me a chance to give a lucky reader one copy of this fantastic cookbook! Please enter the giveaway below. It will run from midnight of 2/11 to midnight of 2/16.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

What I'm Reading: January 2016

I'm cautious to say it, but this term may not be as bad as I had originally thought. So far, my due dates are spread out, my exams seem straight-forward, and the subject matter is applicable and easy to grasp. Of course, that could all change in the next day or two, so I should really hold off before I jinx myself. But in the meantime, you may have noticed that I've had a little extra time to write on the blog again (yay!) and do other things like spend time with D (another yay!) and friends. It might be one of the nicest winter terms I've had yet -- oh wait, there was that time in college when I spent the entire month of January in Europe. So maybe this doesn't quite compare.

Anyway, I've had a little extra time to read and hop around the internet with my extra time away from the books. Here's what I've found:

-the big one: the 2015-2020 dietary guidelines FINALLY came out! It took the committee sooo long to produce them (you may have noticed it's actually 2016 now!). I'll be discussing this more in a post later this week.

-this is so promising: a Mexican soda tax implemented in 2014 has actually reduced the amount of soda being purchased.

-these bean-based stews from the NYT sound wonderful for the cold, dark winter nights of January.

-enjoy your food as you eat it and benefit by feeling fuller faster (article by Ellie Krieger, dietitian). This has been said before, and a study was done to help shed more light on why that might be.

-I can't wait to try this chickpea shawarma from Minimalist Baker.

-here's a great list of some vegan items you can find at -- of all places -- Target!

-I never thought of putting acorn squash into a "burger" - especially with adding cranberries and pecans to it to make it particularly seasonal. From the NYT. Yum.

-look at these amazing Earl Grey macarons from Morsels and Moonshine. They look heavenly.

-I somehow did not know that this completely vegan resort in California existed. The prices are about what you'd expect, but the resort touts itself as eco-conscious and inspiring. I'm sold.

-I love winter squash, and finding a creative way to prepare them, other than sautéing or roasting, is a great idea for me. This twice-baked butternut squash with homemade vegan cheese  from the NYT sounds awesome.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Scenes from Our Fifth Anniversary on Orcas Island, WA

I hope you got to see my tribute to the past five years I've spent with D in this post. Now, I'll show you pictures from our wonderful trip to Orcas Island, WA, where we spent our five-year anniversary!

The sunset was amazing each and every night. It gave us the most beautiful colors, and we literally stared at it for minutes at a time, entranced. You could see so many stars in the sky when the sun finally fell.

I love Steven Smith tea for many reasons, but this season, they gave me another: their seasonal winter tea, Silent Night, is absolutely lovely, and a great way to end the evening. I grabbed some at a bookstore on the island, and I drank it every night we were there.

We had so much fun together the entire weekend. Also: check out this awesome cabin!

A view of the water from a different location on the island from where we stayed. The island is small enough that we could explore a different part of it each day to our heart's content. This was in the small "town" of Olga.

The cabin we stayed in had some wonderful touches, such as this Christmas/holiday decoration. Nothing was over-the-top or splashy, but everything in the cabin made our stay feel comfortable. We did not want to leave.

We cherished the time we got to spend together; it's rare to have that much time off with each other, and we were reminded just how much we love being with the other person.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Scenes from Five Years with My Love

a picture of D, me, and two friends drinking a very experimental beverage that D had just made - summer, 2009
I can hardly believe D and I have been together for 5 years! We've known each other since the infamous Portland "Arctic Blast of '08". We really don't have an exciting story of meeting each other, which is something we joke that we need to change. My roommate at the time was dating a long-time friend of D's. D came over with my roommate's boyfriend and another guy during the major snowstorm. The only things I really remember from that first meeting are that I was sick and wearing a robe and sitting on the couch, and that at that angle, he seemed very tall. Oh, and I happened to be dating someone at the time, so I wasn't exactly looking for a date that day.

But over the next few months, into the spring of 2009, we would see each other at get-togethers or chat online. As a result, our friendship grew, and I started realizing that he was an amazing man (and a much better human than the person I was dating!). I broke it off with my current boyfriend to try to date D. By that point, D knew he was going to Stanford in the fall of '09, so we hung out over the summer unofficially, but I took still took it pretty hard when he left in the fall.

We kept in touch over the next few years, and we would see each other once in a while when he was on break, because by then, we shared the same group of friends. During the time he was away at school, I suffered from MRSA (and the consequential GI distress brought on by the massive antibiotics they gave me in the hospital to cure my illness) and my father died, so it wasn't really the best time of my life. However, on January 1, 2011, after a wonderful day of snowshoeing on Mt. Hood with our friends, D asked me if I would like to start dating him again. I was literally over the moon with happiness (and, honestly, a little skeptic as well). We did the long-distance thing (Portland to Palo Alto) for 6 months while he finished his degree at Stanford, then he moved back in June of that year, and we've been together ever since!

Here's a little picture timeline of our past 5 years together:

1/1/11: the day we started dating again! I'm the one taking the picture, but here we are snowshoeing with our friends on Mt. Hood.

3/2011: we went to Vancouver and Victoria, BC over D's spring break. It was my first time to Canada and we both had a really great time.

5/2011: I quit my job at a workplace that had slowly been sucking the soul out of my body, and in the time between quitting and starting my new job, I went down to visit D. I took an amazing journey (both literally and figuratively) by car down the Oregon and California coast all the way to Palo Alto, making stops and visiting people along the way. When I arrived in Silicon Valley, D and I went to San Francisco, and I got to eat at Millennium for the first time!

1/2012: we spent our first anniversary in Portland, but over the three-day MLK weekend in January, we went to the Oregon coast, where we literally got snowed in. It was such a fun adventure.

5/2012: we went to Kauai for a week with a friend, and when we returned home, we moved in together (and got our sweet kitty, Betsy!).

12/2013: we bought a house together! We got a real Christmas tree, we bought new furniture, and we made our new house a home. Currently, the house is being rented while we're in Seattle, and it breaks my heart a little any time I drive by it when I visit Portland. I hold many wonderful memories from the year we spent in that house.

9/2014: we moved to the Seattle area for D's new job and for the possibility of me going to Bastyr University. Our faith move really paid off, and I'm now attending Bastyr for my master's degree in nutrition! We love it here; being surrounded by all the water has made me so happy, and D has really found a niche in the sailing culture.

12/2015: we have been through sooo much together, and yet we still love and respect each other, and find joy in being in each other's company. D is more than just my boyfriend and my partner; he is literally a part of myself, and I can't imagine myself or my life without him. He makes me want to be a better human each and every day.

I love you, D!

I'll post pictures from our anniversary trip to Orcas Island, WA in my next post!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Scenes from December 2015

Winter break this year went by in both a fast and slow manner. I got sick with a cold pretty quickly after school got out, then I went to Portland to visit family and friends for a week, came back to Seattle for a few days and finally finished the vacation with D on Orcas Island for our fifth anniversary.

Here are some scenes from my Christmas celebrations with family during my winter break! I'll post pictures of my anniversary with D in my next post.

Christmas in Portland

I got to spend time while in Portland with this little gem, my youngest niece. She is D's sister's girl, and she just turned one year old over New Year's. She is an absolute delight. She's here with D's mother and her own father.

My older sister went out of town for a few days with her new husband, so she wasn't able to spend time with the whole family when the rest of us were getting together for Christmas; instead, she (on the left), my mother and I got together for breakfast at a fun place in NE Portland.

One of my regrets from the past 5 years of our relationship is that D and I have so few pictures of us together. My new year's resolution, if you will, is to remedy that.

D spent some time with Jag, my mother's cat. She's almost 14 years old and a funny old cat who drools when you pet her.

D's stepfather bought him some fan gear! D had been in the market for a good Seahawks hat for some time, but many of the ones available to us in Seattle have a gigantic and very unmanly pom pom on the top, so this one was a perfect solution.

Here's my brother reading a neat card from one of our sisters during our Christmas gathering at my mother's house.

You might recognize this chair from the picture of D and me! This is my mother and me, another person I don't get too many pictures with.

Here is my wonderful sister-in-law! She brings lots of joy to my life, and I was so happy to see her and my brother during the break.

I actually received this while I was still at home in Seattle, but here is my brand-new (and most favorite) FitnessBlender sweatshirt! I work out ~6 days a week and it is always to FitnessBlender videos. They have such a different perspective when it comes to fitness and health than the majority of fitness videos and personalities out there, and I love to spread their message around as much as I can. This is also the most comfiest sweatshirt I've ever owned, and it saddens me every time I have to put it into the wash.


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