Vanilla Blackberry Cashew Cake

It was time again to be brave and tackle a dessert I found on Pinterest, a raw blackberry lemon lavender vegan “cheesecake” from Fragrant Vanilla Cake.  I choose this mainly because I had hazelnuts and dates left over from my last dessert experiment.

So this thing is suppose to look really pretty.

Guess which one is mine!

Guess which one is mine!

I have come to the point where I am okay with the fact I lack two skills that would make me a great food blogger.  One is photography and the other is making pretty desserts.  My sister witch makes pretty desserts, but she follows recipes.   I don’t really like recipes or directions.  I am more of a what do I have that would work sort of cook.  I favor technique and flavor and cannot be trusted to build IKEA furniture.

I just accept that if it tastes good is the same texture and shape I was going for it’s a job well done.   In the spirit of imperfection, let’s do this!

Vanilla Blackberry Cashew Cake
gather things like this

for the filling
3 cups of soaked cashews
1/2 cup of shredded coconut
juice half a lemon, add some zest if you are fancy
unscrew the honey bear and add two big squeezes
pinch of salt
1/2 of liquid state coconut oil
1 teaspoon each of coconut and vanilla extract
a couple vanilla beans if you happened to find them in the back of the pantry almost dried
some sugar
berries (frozen is fine)

for the crust
equal parts hazelnuts and shredded coconut, about a 1/3 cup each
a couple graham crackers
enough pitted dates to make it stick together (like 5ish)

to start
Make the crust by placing the crust things in your food processor, you may want to chop up the dates like the source material said because the whole dates caused my Cuisinart to smoke like we were summoning the Dark Lord.
Once your crust is mixed, squish it into the bottom of your pan. I have a spring baking pan from IKEA that I had never used before so that made me feel accomplished.

now your filling
IMG_1451Wipe out your food processor and add in all the filling things except for the coconut oil, berries, and sugar. Zoom until your cashews are broken down a bit and everything is mixed up. Then while on slowly add the oil to emulsify. I let this mix for like 8 minutes while I continued to squish my crust but the filling still looked lumpy. I found looking lumpy is fine as long as there aren’t any palatable chunks. Add half the filling to the top of the crust. To make the berry layer, warm up your berries in a bit of water and the sugar until they are ice cream topping soft. Then add your berry mix to your remaining filling and zoom in processor and add to the top.IMG_1455

set in freezer overnight
transfer to fridge in the morning
should be set by the time you want dessert after work

 

Advertisements

K is for Kale

It was Thanksgiving 2011 and I had to bring a side dish to family dinner.  It started innocently enough with a Food and Wine recipe for it pan fried with cranberries but soon I felt compelled to repurchase the bushy green bundles each week.  It wasn’t until much later I realized when I was irritated at my husband for buying curly instead of dino that I had a kale problem.

There are worse bandwagons to jump on.  As a mostly vegetarian the bacon craze was mostly missed except for watching Anonywitch eat it covered in chocolate on the day we decided calories didn’t count.  I am guilty of a pantry stocked with wheat berries, chai seeds, soaked cashews, two kinds of lentils, no less than three types of vinegar, and a vat of coconut oil.  When did this become less normal than doritos, oreos, boxed mac&cheese, or pepsi? Food is nourishment and my daily ritual. Dark leafy greens are available to me year round and have replaced spring mix as my go to.

I watch pretty much every food documentary I come across, so I cannot remember which one my favorite kale salad came from.  Simple, creamy, and tangy it’s the perfect food for when you plan on drinking a lot of beer for dinner.

Happy Ending Kale Salad
gather these things
one large avocado
bunch o’kale
juice of one lemon
salt
dill (if you like)

do these things
mash the avocado in the bottom of your salad bowl
mix in your lemon juice
add your chopped up kale
salt and dill to taste
massage with hands until kale is relaxed to your pleasure
open a local brew to wash down your greens

(number 19 on the pagan blog project week 22)

Liebster Award

My dear friend Anonywitch has waved her wand and conjured up a Liebster Award for Hedged Paths.  In keeping with the Liebester tradition, I have included 11 random facts about me and answered the questions Anonywitch sent with the award.  I am paying it forward to the five blogs listed below to encourage our community to grow and share.  These are all blogs that I started reading because of my involvement with the Pagan Blog Project 2014 and are now in top spots on my Feedly.

Blessed be!

Here’s 11 things about me…

  1. I’ve made my home on the Chesapeake Bay, Pacific Ocean, and Saint Joesph river but have only lived with one partner who I married.
  2. My husband and I shared one car for 7 years.
  3. The longest I have gone without a pet since I was seven was two nonconsecutive years.
  4. I would rather do the dishes at the animal shelter where I work than the ones at home.
  5. I enjoy going to see movies in the theater by myself.
  6. If I could only have one make-up product it would be brow gel.
  7. I learned to cook from watching to the Food Network.
  8. I would drop everything and become John Water’s personal assistant in a hot mess minute.
  9. I read about a book a week, without Overdrive linked to the library I’d be screwed.
  10. I am currently in the process of qualifying for graduate degree in nonprofit administration after being rejected from vet school three years running.
  11. I try to text my Grandma everyday now that I live far from her.  We would go months without talking when I was close, but now she worries.

Anonywitch Asks:

What is one thing about you that people can’t tell just by looking at you?

Depending on my shirt, that my nipples are pierced.

What’s your favorite dessert?

champagne

How do you wake up in the morning?

One of two ways.  Either it’s two hours before I need to be at work, a cup of ginger, lemon, and honey tea, catch up on social media, stretch, shower, carefully dress and apply make-up, hot breakfast, grab a cup of coffee and off to work.  Or 30 min rush out the door praising the powers that be for k-cups, dry shampoo, and bb cream.

Who do you think has the most potential to fix the world: politicians, activists, or regular folks (or none of the above)?

I believe choices shape the world, the more choices someone has to make for other people the more power they wield.

Which book has most changed your life and how?

Everyone has that one guilty pleasure book they have worn out.  Mine is Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman.  I found it in public library when I was in middle school and blessed with a Mother who thought all reading was created equal, I wasn’t monitored with my check outs.  It showed me what I had already began to understand about women, some of us have the potential to be consumed by love.

Whom do you admire? Why?

I am not often speechless, but when I was standing in front of Neil Gaiman getting my book signed all I could manage to talk about where my cats.  His stories live at the edge of reality where shadows play.  I have no idea how I would react if given the chance to meet Ani DiFranco, her songs have been my battle cry.

What fictional character are you most like?

I couldn’t answer this honestly.  I want to say I am like Anita Blake, but I am not so dangerous.  Or I could say Paige  but I am not that submissive.  If anything, my husband finds Bob’s Burger’s hilarious because one day I will grow up and be Linda Belcher.  I present the following evidence.


Tell me about your tattoos. If you don’t have any, what tattoo(s) would you like to get?

At 19 I got a feather on my right arm to signify the rehabilitation of a crow who I helped survive the West Nile virus.  My left thigh is an abstract of blue diamonds over a green field.  I have a half-sleeve on my left arm of red roses which took years to finish.  It was a practice of my patience and body image to go through the waiting.  It taught me to let go of what I look like now as it would change soon enough.  It’s how I reconciled not losing weight before my wedding to fit the idea in my head.  Once I became happy with the now, my weight actually stabilized.  My most meaningful tattoo is the simple goddess symbol on my right wrist, it is mirrored in purple on my person, Anonywitch.

What do you find beautiful?

There is a perfect moment sometime between children and kittens in which both parties realize their own capacity for violence and agree to be gentle to each other.  It’s in that reservation and control where I see the magic of the human-animal bond.

What is your signature dish? (Something you actually can and do make.)

I am a scramble goddess.  Give me a near empty fridge and some eggs and I can make a meal.

How do you channel your creativity?

Work.  I love updating Standard Operation Policy and preparing print/social media collateral.   The blog I started for my last job is still running strong and their Facebook keeps expanding.  I was at my new position a little over a month before they turned over the weekly newspaper ads to me.  I love it when people connect with a new pet because of something I wrote.

Nominations

Thank you for making me smile, consider, and feel connected to fellow witches.  If you choose to accept, here my questions for you.

  1. Why did you start your blog?
  2. Are you open about your witchy ways or do you keep this part of your life quiet?
  3. Pick a place you’d love to visit but wouldn’t want to live.
  4. Witches in popular culture, choose a character to love or loathe and why.
  5. What are the three things you always have in your fridge?
  6. Tell me about a time you were speechless.
  7. Which holiday do you go all out for?
  8. Are you a good witch or a bad witch?
  9. Describe something that you would not comprise on.
  10. Would you rather have the Pagan Blog Project go ABCD or are you liking the AABB format?
  11. Do you plan out your blog posts or “wing it” each week?

I look forward to reading your responses!

K is for Kindness

I wear my kindness like amour.  I work in an industry where almost everyone expects you be difficult with them.  When you aren’t it confuses them, often it is in this confusion that I am able to make a difference and lead them to the option that would be best for everyone involved.  So I smile, I craft a friendly greeting, and react in only kindness.

You have to be very contained to stay kind.  Too much and you straddle into empathy, too little and you find apathy.  Don’t you dare start heading over to sympathy!  I do not want to feel their sorrow, share this experience, or operate with a complete lack of feeling.  I just want to stay kind and lead them to a resolution.  I am the public face of my animal welfare organization, I am not your sin-eater (but that is another post).

When other people talk about paying it forward, I do not think about paying the next ten tolls behind me or picking up the check of the seniors who look like they are still in love.  I think about how I can prevent the next animal from suffering under an uneducated guardian.  Over the years I’ve walked that fine line where you allow someone to come to the conclusion you want on their own.  I do not need someone to tell me where they went wrong to prove what I already know they did to the cat in front of me, it’s for their benefit.  There is a kindness in letting people come to the truth on their own.  I can only hope the realization will move forward with them.

Perhaps it’s my ability to look at each situation as it’s own that does not overwhelm my capacity for compassion.  Yes, I see the bigger picture and the patterns but each pet surrender has it’s own story and each person deserves my respect and my kindness.  People can only grow when they are supported.  Even the bat-shit crazy hoarders and people who strike their dogs in front of you deserve your kindness.  They may also deserve to have all their animals seized and charges filed but there is not reason you have to be a bitch about it.  Don’t give them a reason to blame you for their problems, keep the focus on where they need to become better people.  I am, by virtue, the one who helps.

(number 30 on week 21 of the pagan blog project)

J is for Jewel and Jupiter

In the summer of ’96 Foolish Games never left my cd player and by ’98 I had memorized all the songs on Spirit.  Jewel was the first song writer that I clung too hearing the same longings I had.  If we were all just nicer to each other things would suck less.  Her love songs were filled with myth and at my age I understood the allegory more than the emotion.  I’ve been playing mix cds in my car on my commute that I unearthed in the move.  Most of them are not labeled and play more like the 90’s on shuffle than a thoughtful album.  After the Bosstones and Foo Fighters came Jupiter from Jewel.  I belted out every word from some forgotten corner of my mind and realized I had chased down those promises of romance to make them my own.

 

I is for Infertility

When I started this blog I wanted honesty but when confronted with “F” I panicked. I could have posted about Familiars, Full Moons, or even Flaming Hot Cheetos but I was caught on Fertility. How can I talk about the goddess in her bounty, when I had so many conflicts with my own. So, let’s skip to “I” where I can confront my Fears.

I was 15 when the term “infertility” came frankly out of my doctor’s mouth. Three years of irregular and painful cycles landed me on birth control pills well before I needed them to prevent pregnancy. In college worsening symptoms lead to diagnosis of Poly-cystic Ovarian Syndrome. The weight gain and mood swings made me feel disconnected with everything, including my own body. I lived within walking distance of the beach. I could hear the ocean flow from my bedroom window but could not find a rhythm of my own. I identify as a witch because I yearn to feel connected. When the moon is high I can see for miles, summer sun tingles my skin and ignites my mind, clusters of birds in my path are a sign of luck. I want to understand my own essence but these broken paths are difficult to overcome.  How can my body be so resistant to the most basic of female nature?

In popular culture women go to witches for two reasons, love and fertility. There is no magic spell for my condition but I do believe in the power of will. Rituals ground me in my actions and chanting affirmations bring my mind into a space that allows freedom from inner turmoil. The moon can keep my cycles for me. I am filled with love and motherhood comes in many forms. In my years as a wildlife rehabilitator I have given thousands of furry and feathered young their start. More recently I have connected people with pets through animal shelter adoption programs. Maybe one day my husband and I will bring a tiny human into our family through adoption. Infertile does not mean without. I will never experience birth but the world is always in need of open hearts.  When you are open to love, biology doesn’t matter.

(number 36 on week 18 of the pagan blog project)

F is for Failure

We’ve all had some epic failures.  Not everything goes to plan in the kitchen, relationships change, and even hard work sometimes isn’t enough professionally.  Accepting my  role in failure has been the difference between breaking down and moving forward.  To quote Nick Cave, I don’t believe in an interventionist god.  I don’t pray for success or the failure of others, I scry for understanding without expectation.  With every choice I make I am creating my own web of fate.  The gods are not laughing, they are whispering their many desires and you can choose who is worthy of advice.  Failures are merely the end of one path or a block in the road, you just need to find a different way to your goal or change the destination.

E is for Essential Oils

I have a love affair with chemistry.  I was never closer to Hogwarts than when I took O-Chem in college, although that felt a lot like Breaking Bad too.

But I am not a fan of chemicals in every day use.  In the DIY low impact approach  essential oils are my anti bacterial, viral, and microbial friends.  My thought is the more complicated it is to make, the longer it will need to break down in the environment.  Here are a few of my favorite potions using essential oils to swap out commercial products.

My Other Broom is a Swiffer Wet Jet
do this first to remove the container
it holds 5.2 cups, we will make a little less than that
mix together
2/3 cup of liquid castile soap
4 cups of warm water
1/3 cup of lemon juice
10 drops of either tea tree or lemon oil
(works best on tile or vinyl)

Are you a good witch, or a bad witch? Bath Salts
start with 1 cup of basic bath salt recipe
add
6 drops of clove oil
4 drops of faery garden oil

Familiar Fur-Off Spray
I spray my cat trees with this to loosen the fur offerings and wipe them clean
to a 16 oz spray bottle add
1 and 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup witch hazel
6 drops lavender oil
4 drops cat nip oil

(number 31 on the pagan blog project week 10)

E is for Earth

High school was a fresh start for me. I had struggled the last two years of middle school as the new kid from the East Coast who never quite fit in. I was determined to make the first move and make my way into the “in” crowd. No more teasing or shaky friendships for me, I was going to be accepted.

My first class was typing and I was sat next to a polo shirt khaki clone of my own new outfit, complete with butterfly clips and Adidas sneakers. This was my chance! I explained my situation, I was new to this school and was in search of a lunch group. The doe eyed girl caught my hook for an invitation and I was set to find her in the quad a few hours later. Brilliant work, super causal, not desperate at all.

When I would later see Heathers, I would think back to how I easily identified my lunch companions. They had the individuality of a school of fish. Big breath in, I could do this, I could suppress the strangeness that had me eating by myself most of last year. I figured it would be best to listen today, pick up their habits, and then play it off as shy. A covert mission to infiltrate their kind. Then it happened, I was directly addressed! She had to repeat what she said as I all could hear was the disgust in her voice the first time.

“Why would you sit like THAT?”

“…like what?”

“With your legs crossed under you like that.  The dirt – it is getting all over your shoes. Don’t you care?”

I didn’t.

I really did not care, they were shoes, shoes are suppose to get dirty so you feet don’t.  Was I completely missing something here?  I was then privy to a lecture on how the offending dirt would transfer from the ground to my shoes and on to my pants.  Of all things, my pants would get dirt on them!  There have been many moments where my inability to conceal how little I give a shit has caused my life to change course, this was one of those times.  Teen blasphemy  escaped my lips and I let them know that if I was to sit on the ground, it was fully expected that I might get dirty.  No one talked to me again and the bell was a welcome sound.

I did not have the maturity to see the clarity of that experience until much later or laugh about it when I saw Mean Girls in my 20s.  But what I did feel was not the rejection I had expected.  I was surprised that I had rejected them and not the other way around.  These were not my people and it was not my fault or theirs.  I could not be friends with people like that.  If a bit of dirt on your new shoes was a stress point, I did not see camping trips or picnics in our future.  Instead I let friendships build naturally in high school out of kindness and mutual excitement.  I have memories of bonfires on the beach, midnight hikes surrounded by eucalyptus, red noses from skiing,  mosh pit born bruises, sticky dive bar pizza counters, and hot tubs filled with bubbles.  I have a pair of black hi-top converse with red laces that carried me across our patch California that I would never call clean.  I did not know yet I was on a spiritual path towards nature but the earth kept me grounded in myself when I needed her most to become me.

converse that have transversed california

(number 61 on the pagan blog project week 9)