My daughter Nessie has been growing carrots – glorious, sweet and so good (as is she) – so carrots have been on the menu quite a bit here. I posted a simple roast carrots on instagram, and was asked for a carrot cake recipe. Hmmm….. I thought, okay, but wanted to re-work the recipe that appears in my first book Wholefood – heal, nourish, delight. Don’t get me wrong I love that recipe – dense, chock full of raisins, nuts, coconut and yes, pineapple. But I had been thinking to shift it to a slightly more wintery version (which really makes sense as that is when carrots are in season), to match those carrots more so with other foods that belong in the same season ( I also wanted a lighter textured crumb). This reflects very much where I am today in my wholefood journey – matching seasonality and locality, using ingredients from a simple pantry. But changing (or converting) a recipe is a process – often scientific, but also because we are working with real ingredients (with different energy fields) we have to work with intuition and heart too.
The original recipe calls for 1 cup white spelt, 1 cup wholemeal, 1 cup dark muscovado sugar, 4 cups grated carrot, 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 cup each nuts and sultanas, 3 eggs and 1/2 cup oil (oh and that pineapple, 1/4 cup of the juice and the coconut). Looking at the core ingredients and knowing the cake, I reworked the trial recipe to:
1 cup white spelt (130 g), 1 cup wholemeal spelt (145g) 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 cup dark muscovado (170g) 2 cups grated carrot (250g) spices, vanilla, 3 eggs, 3/4 cup olive oil (185ml), 1/2 cup each nuts and raisins. So what I had in effect done, was to remove fat and moisture from so many nuts, coconut, pineapple (including it’s juice) and sultanas. To compensate for this, I increased the oil by 60ml, and reduced the amount of carrot. Yes, reducing the carrot will mean that some moisture is lost, but it also means that the batter is less bound by the carrot, and the leavening can move more freely through the batter. I chose to not do a simple wet to dry mix, but rather allow myself the opportunity to include more air into the batter (and thus lighten it) by beating the eggs and sugar to the ribbon before hand. The result: some of the spices were too strong in flavour (I had upped them considerably and included cardamom), and as you can see, it hasn’t risen all that well. It was slightly dry (only very slightly) but none the less it wasn’t bad – nothing that a bit of cream cheese icing (or a spread of butter) couldn’t kiss and make better. But, it was still a bit dense for me.
To me, there were two obvious issues. 1) it was too dense and 2) a little dry. Good conversions are best done by thinking (often over a cup of tea) and thus was on my mind as I went to bed that night. Somewhere around 1am, it occurred to me that even though the obvious next step was to increase the moisture, with 60ml orange juice (much more seasonally appropriate and I had hundreds from mum’s tree) I somehow felt that wasn’t going to be enough. Why ? Because it felt (and here is the heart and intuition bit) that the ingredients were somehow isolated from each other, it wasn’t tasting or feeling like a comfortable whole. But perhaps lessening the heft of the wholemeal flour by a bit might bring those primary ingredients closer together and allow them to form that relationship, and make the whole? Lessening the flour would also help with the dry factor. Lessening the flour and increasing the liquid moisture (the 60ml) orange juice would also make the batter a bit more liquid and allow the air produced by the leavening to actually move freely through the batter. I also changed the leavening slightly reducing the baking powder to 2 teaspoons, and using 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda (an alkali which would react with that 60ml acidic orange juice) as it is a sturdier lifter than baking powder alone. Result ? Totally brilliant – was fabulous. At some point I will also try replacing the 3/4 cup of wholemeal spelt with 1 cup (110g) barley flour. Because of it’s super low gluten content, I feel confident that adding 1/4 cup extra of flour won’t make any difference…
It was super successful, loved, eaten and left overs lasted really well. If you’ve got carrots coming out of your ears right now, give this a go this weekend… (oh and these Carrot Fritters on an older post are so good too….)
Beautiful photography by and ©Harriet Harcourt
This is the kind of ‘a little something’ that I needed on a cold and wintery Sydney day recently.. pure comfort food. And I did indeed need a bit of comfort. I was exhausted after doing the shoot for my new book (out next year), and staying with my good friend (and fellow Whole and Natural Foods Chef) Holly Davis, who helped me, the word we used was ‘shattered’. We were completely shattered, and requiring said comfort food (plus, it was cold). It also seems that rice pudding is back in (mind you it has never really gone away in our house) – I noticed it has made an appearance in this months Delicious magazine, so it seems, we are on trend :) I actually don’t use a recipe, just throw it all in and judge from look, but the all important thing in making a rice pudding is getting the consistency right (not too runny, not too thick) so I’m giving you a recipe. It’s originally from this book (I’ve tweaked it a little) … a truly brilliant book that mum has had for years, it’s well worn and stained, and truly, has all the Australian classics – it’s well worth tracking down.
But whilst carrying on about how exhausted we were, it was a wonderful time. I call it the ‘seeing the view from the mountain’ time. That time, when you’ve worked so hard (over years and years), taken the enormous risks that you take, putting it all out there – and you finally get the chance to see the beauty of it all. To see this book, that in the beginning (and for quite some time over the past year) I couldn’t see at all where it was leading me, but I kept on following a jungle path – finally I got to see that it was beautiful, and that the whole was so much more than the sum of it’s parts. That takes one talented photographer (Cath Muscat) and stylist (Michelle Noriento), and of course a publishing team who are there for you (Murdoch Books). BUT, it also takes a friend. I’ve had a lot of lessons about what makes a true friendship this year – easy for some to talk the talk, but not walk the walk. Thank goodness, that I count Holly as a true friend. Thank goodness she knows how to make a cup of tea because we really needed it. The photo below is a screen shot of the teapot from Cath’s instagram account. It also took another hand in the kitchen, and we were loved sharing more time with Trudie Fenwick – a graduate from the 2013 Whole and Natural Foods Chef Training Program. We also had the opportunity to catch up with another graduate (2010) Belinda Pooley (Wholefood Canteen), another true friend and we got to meet her gorgeous new bub.
A shoot goes like this: you organise what you are going to shoot (we had 40 shots of food + chapter openers + incidentals+ pictures of me) – in 5 days. You organise the shopping list (that was Holly’s job, and no mean feat). You watch in awe as box after box of props are unloaded. You cook your ass off, because that’s a lot of shots you are doing each day. I also keep an eye on the shot so it represents me. No blue plates I say, no twine around everything I say – and in the end, there was blue, and a bit of twine, but I loved it. Loved it to bits. I love who I see this book becoming, I love that whilst I couldn’t see always what it wanted to be, my spirit did and kept me on the path. I think you will like it too. That’s Michelle s hands down there, getting the shot into shape, and below it, is the gorgeous Smeg fridge we used for a shot. Look at the colour – Panna Cotta – it says it all. I literally can’t wait for my new home and cooking studio to be built (that’s another story), but already I have my Smeg oven sorted. I’ll tell you more about that at a later date.
Before I leave and get to the recipe, I will be putting together a class program next week for August, September, October and November for Perth, Melbourne and Sydney. It will post on the website, FB and newsletter. I’d so love to meet you and I hope you can come along. In the meantime, try this out this winter weekend… serve it with any baked or stewed fruit as desired. Eat it for morning tea, snack or afternoon tea or dessert… it doesn’t matter :)
BECAUSE IT’S COLD OUTSIDE
It must be the cooler winter weather, but I’ve been doing a fair bit of baking lately – something wholesome and nourishing for a little treat each day. There’s the very quick to throw together Gingerbread and Pear Pudding Cake above (freezes brilliantly), the Lemon Meringue Pie below for my daughters birthday a couple of weeks ago (which lasts brilliantly because that Italian Meringue is so stable) and a couple of weeks before that, this hearty Pumpkin Bread. Both the LMP and Pumpkin bread recipes are in Wholefood Baking.
I’m usually having that little something sweet as I sit at my desk mid morning – I’m head down, rugged up as I work on a new book (will be some time off before it gets to the shelves) and it’s a delicious and warming part of my day. This isn’t going to be a long post, just a hello and would you like the recipe for that delicious Gingerbread and Pear Pudding Cake ? It would be perfect for the solstice this coming weekend. Serve it warm from the oven, or if left over, warm it up a bit before eating. And the Lemon Custard Cream – a little dairy free number, but if you’d prefer to make a dairy lemon custard, go for it. Just make sure you get something lemony with it… lemon and gingerbread is a gorgeous combination. And the stand mixer below ? It is a toy that belongs to my nieces children. LOVE IT. A little bit of whimsy, but I love the colour and that it is wooden (and not plastic) and basically gorgeous.
I love winter, love the solstice and love the wild and windy winter weather that accompanies it. I find it a time to turn inward, reflect and hopefully become a little more balanced – a never ending journey I know, but one that I find deeply meaningful. With such short days, and the cold and wind outside, I find a little piece of this cake all warm and puddingy, to be deeply delicious to both body and soul.
GINGERBREAD AND PEAR PUDDING CAKE
Dairy Free, Nut Free and Low Gluten
This delicious cake is based on a recipe by one of my favourite wholefood chefs Myra Kornfeld. I’ve loved and admired her work over many years, especially this recipe and made a quite a few changes to it along the way. With regard to the Oatmeal, in Australia I use the Four Leaf brand, in the US Bob’s Red Mill calls this Oat Flour. Basically you want some bran and germ. At a pinch you can buy rolled oats (stabilised/steamed) and grind them to a rough meal. Make sure the brand of rolled oat is not too dry. I am considering marinating raisins in some Pedro Ximenez and using them in the cake as well/or instead of the pears. Please remember I use 20ml tablespoons.
1 cup / 135gm oatmeal
1 cup / 130gm unbleached white spelt flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate (baking) soda
3/4 tablespoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 generous tablespoon (or more) glace ginger, roughly chopped
1/2 cup /125ml melted coconut oil (full flavour)
1/2 cup/ 125ml maple syrup
1/2 cup molasses
3 tablespoons brown rice syrup/ 60ml (I prefer the Spiral brand)
2/3 cup / 160ml coconut milk (full fat)
3/4 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract (I use Heilala)
2 – 3 medium pears, peeled and cut into thick slices
Pre heat oven to 180c or 165c if fan forced. Line a 20cm square cake tin.
Add the oatmeal, spelt, baking soda, ginger, cloves, cinnamon and glace ginger into a mixing bowl and whisk through to distribute the ingredients. In another bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, maple syrup, molasses rice syrup, coconut milk, eggs, vinegar and vanilla. Before you add this to the dry ingredients, peel and slice the pears. Add the wet to the dry ingredients, and stir through until combined – it will be a wet mix. Pour into the baking tin and press the pears into the mix.
Bake for 40 – 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven and serve as desired.
A DAIRY FREE LEMON CUSTARD CREAM
2 cups (500ml) rice milk (or 1 of coconut and 1 of rice, or include almond milk as desired)
1/3 teaspoon agar powder
1 1/2 – 2 tablespoons (30 – 40 ml) maple syrup
1 tablespoon kudzu (or cornstarch)
finely grated zest of one lemon
30 – 60 ml lemon juice
1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract
Add the milk, 30ml maple syrup to a small pot and whisk in the agar well. Bring to a gentle boil and simmer for 8 minutes (from the boil) on a very gentle heat. Stir often as the agar will sink to the bottom and stick.
Meanwhile, mix the kudzu and 1/4 cup (60ml) water to a smooth paste. When the agar is ready take it off the heat and whisk in the kudzu slurry – it will thicken immediately. Return to the stove and stir constantly until it comes to the boil. Remove from the heat and add lemon zest, 30ml lemon juice and vanilla. Stir through and taste, adding more lemon juice as needed. Pour into a bowl and cover, place in fridge and cool. Add what will be fairy thick and set mix to a food processor and blend until silky smooth – this will take at least 5 minutes.
A SMACKEREL MORE: HERBY, CHEESY SCONES
The days are cold, rainy and short right now and truly, nothing beats a bowl of soup for lunch – right now, pumpkin is high on the list. But I need a little smackerel (as Pooh would say) of something to add a bit more heft to the meal and can I tell you, I do love a herby, cheesy scone. A bowl of gloriously coloured orange soup and one of these scones is a perfect marriage in my opinion and a perfect meal for me. These take no time to throw together, are quick to cook and best of all freeze well – I can just grab one from the freezer to warm in the oven whilst the soup warms up – a quick meal – most often lunch – whilst I am hard at it, here at my desk getting the final bits together for the Whole and Natural Foods Chef Training. I’m incredibly excited, but right now there’s just so much to get through I’m literally just ticking jobs off the list. Latest job ticked off? Order all the dry goods and get a new spare bed for the spare room so Jeanie and Holly actually have a bed to sleep in when they’re here. (And, even more important, my daughter has a bed to sleep in if she stays over, and not a swag on the floor). Jeanie and Holly will both be here for parts of the program teaching and I can’t wait to see them.
That’s it from me right now, this is a short post but as we move into chef training, I’ll keep you updated and share it with you. Stay warm….
HERBY, CHEESY SCONES
I’ve used spelt flour here as it is my undisputed, all time favourite flour giving a gorgeous crumb and an easier digestion. I’ve used 50% unbleached white and wholemeal, but honestly you can easily use 100% wholemeal if desired. You can also use wheat but will most likely need more milk to bind (as you will if you use 100% wholemeal spelt). The mix should be moist – and please, don’t go playing with the mix once it’s been bought together – no kneading or playing – do the bare minimum !! I added some cooked pumpkin to mine – I had steamed some for pumpkin pie and had about 5 smallish chunks left over which I roughly chopped and added.
130 gm /1 cup unbleached white spelt flour
145gm /1cup wholemeal spelt flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons rapadura sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
generous pinch of fine ground sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
heaped handful of grated well flavoured cheese (not vintage as it doesn’t melt well) + extra for the top
couple of gratings of a fresh pecorino cheese – about 1 tablespoon
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
125ml full cream, non – homogenised milk
125 ml cultured buttermilk or yoghurt
100gm very cold unsalted butter, cut into rough 1 cm pieces
Pre heat the oven to 200c or 180 c if fan forced. Lightly sprinkle a baking tray with extra flour and also a work surface with a generous (1/4 cup) of extra flour.
Put the flours, baking powder and sugar in a bowl and sift in the baking soda. Add the salt, pepper, cheeses, rosemary, half the sage and whisk through to evenly distribute the ingredients.
Combine the vinegar, milk and buttermilk in a measuring cup and set aside.
Using your fingertips or pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles very coarse breadcrumbs (don’t overwork this stage). Add the milks and mix with a large spoon to just combine. The mix should form into a moist, but not at all sloppy dough.
Turn the dough out onto the floured work surface and pat the dough to form a rough circle about 20cm round x 2.5cm thick – you may need to lightly flour your hands. Using a sharp, floured knife cut 12 wedges (you may need to re flour the knife in between cuts) and place on the lined tray, leaving a small gap in between each one. Don’t stress too much if the loose some of their shape, they will still taste divine. I use my knife or palette knife to move the scone from work surface to tray. Sprinkle the remaining sage over the top and as much extra cheese as you like – bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until just cooked.
aka SOUL FOOD WILL GET YOU THROUGH
I don’t know about you, but the past few weeks have been wearing for me – finishing off a lot of classes, difficulties with the Whole and Natural Foods Chef Training Program logistics – really, just life saying not so gently – no, don’t go this way, but rather this way. Sometimes it takes a great deal of surrender, but I have found over the years that there is always a higher reason and if I just breathe deep and become still enough, not hold on so tight to what I think is the right way, it always works out. Don’t get me wrong – I love teaching and classes, but I’m at that tired point right now but fortunately I have some space, time now to plan for program and logistics for the WNFCTP – no place to be, nothing else to plan for and it’s heaven. I’m going slow and cooking slow (and in some cases, thinking slow if the truth be told).
I want to go and listen to these guys but that would mean I would need to catch a plane and head east and right now I don’t really want to go anywhere !!! I’m so loving being at home and BEING IN MY home, feeling it’s walls and space holding me. But if I was there in Bellingen, I’d like to go also and get my goat on and who could resist going to a gallery called ” Everything That’s Beautiful Galley” – not me. I’d go, I’d spend and I’d be really wanting to get one of Jay’s glorious vegetable embroideries. Yup. But, I’m not – I’m here loving and being at my desk, at my pace, in my home. But I need soul food and nothing says that more than Red Beans and Rice. Like perfume that brings a memory to consciousness, eating this I am immediately back in the French Quarter at a funky vegetarian cafe I’ve long since forgotten the name of. Red Beans and Rice is classic New Orleans soul food – honest, nourishing, cheap, easy and above all delicious – even Michael Franti has a song about it. Traditionally made on a Monday (washing day) it just does it’s thing simmering along ready for you at the end of the day. There are hundreds of versions, my favourites include those by Bryant Terry (I can heartily recommend both his books – Vegan Soul Kitchen and the new one The Inspired Vegan). This recipe here is a variation from the original in my book Coming Home to Eat – Wholefood for the Family, but I’ve chosen to highlight it here as I think many people just might overlook it. I’ve cooked mine this week with chicken stock I had in the freezer and I would recommend this if you have any digestive issues. It is also a classic example of frugal cooking – deeply nourishing and cheap home made bone stock ensures that you can utilise more of the protein in those beans.
But just a word about beans – organic beans can be problematic in Australia. I’m finding that many of them (black, borlotti, pinto, kidney, cannellini, great northern, etc) don’t cook – ever. What has happened is that many of them are sourced from China – coming into Australia they must be treated in some way. Because they are organic, they are heat treated (in China). You can see in the bean above at the back that it’s not creamy in any way, certainly not cooked and if you could look up close you could just see a little band around the edge of the interior of the bean. This is where the heat has seared it. They never cook. I tend these days in Australia to go for conventional beans. I dream of growing them myself or being in San Francisco at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and buying beans from Rancho Gordo. But, until then, I’m sticking with conventional. Organic chickpeas, split peas and lentils are fine – it’s the beans that seem to be the problem.
Go and put a pot of these beans on the stove now. If your world is busy and life is throwing up it’s challenges, if money is tight, this will reassure you that indeed, all is well. Body and soul will be nourished.
SOUL VERSION RED BEANS AND RICE (with pinto beans)
I’ve made this version using pinto beans as it’s much quicker. Chicken stock will give a slightly sweeter end result, but vegie stock will do just fine. I’ve chosen to stick to a slightly more traditional format by adding greens at the end – in this case Tuscan Black Kale. I serve with brown rice.
1 cup raw (dried) pinto beans, soaked overnight in lots of water to cover the beans by about 3 cm
The Next Day
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon ghee
1 onion – finely diced – if I have a red onion, all the better
1 teaspoon each dried basil and oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
pinch dired sage
2 fresh bay leaves
1 medium carrot cut into small dice
2 sticks celery sliced finely
2 cloves garlic finely diced/crushed
fresh chilli as desired finely sliced
freshly ground black pepper (I sometimes use a mix of black, white and pink) to taste, but generally about 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon (or even more). Remember, pepper is an important part – it has taste as well as heat
pinch asafoetida (or if you have Kombu sea vegetable a 5cm strip
3 – 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
I used 5 medium leaves Tuscan Black Kale, roughly sliced, but collard greens are the traditional ingredient
1 – 2 teaspoons wheat free tamari
1 – 2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley
Add the oil and ghee to a good size stewpot ( I like a 24cm Le Creuset enamel coated cast iron). Add the onion, herbs and vegetables – saute over a very gentle heat for 10 minutes avoiding frying the onion. Add the garlic, chilli and black pepper after 5 minutes, stirring every now and then.
Drain the beans and rinse well. Add to the pot with the asafoetida (or kombu) and stock. Partly cover with the lid and increase the heat to bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for about 11/2 – 2 hours. Check where the beans are at – they should be just about cooked and most certainly yield a creamy centre to pressure. If they are still like pebbles, you most likely have heat treated beans or they are stunningly old. If so take a risk and put the lid back on and simmer until they are soft – if they still aren’t soft after 4 hours, I would give up. After this time, remove the lid and increase the boil to reduce the beans to a thick, saucy consistency – stirring often. You might like to mash some of them to help thicken the sauce. Before checking for taste and adding tamari and parsley, add the kale or collard greens – sprinkle them on top – I prefer not to stir them through, add the lid and over a very gentle heat, let them steam for 10 minutes or until just soft. Stir through then check for taste – adding tamari and black pepper as needed.
Other traditional ingredients for the dish include red and green capsicums, spring onions (whites and greens), ham or bacon bones or bacon drippings used for the fat. Onions, spring onions, capsicums, garlic and spices would be sauteed in the bacon drippings.
This is my idea of a perfect winter dessert. It’s mostly apple, with a bit of lemon zest, sugar and stale bread, cooked down to a caramelised (if you look hard at the picture, you can see that on the lower right hand side) soft, crispy luscious mess. I’ve just had left overs for breakfast. The bread makes it quite filling (even though there’s not to much there) and it finishes off a meal of soup perfectly. Did I mention it’s easy and quick?
The Betty is a seriously old fashioned dessert – very often made with bread crumbs. I prefer to cut the bread into small dice (always sourdough) – I think it gets too mushy and confused with the crumbs. Almost certainly American (and southern at that), Mum tells me that Grandma used to make this when she was little but would cover the dessert for cooking with the apple peels (rather than paper and foil – see recipe).I first came across the recipe when reading In Pursuit of Flavour, by Edna Lewis – a much loved book and an inspiring woman. I often find myself wondering who was the Betty that inspired or created this if indeed there was one….
A couple of things in the cooking. I’ve found the best dish to use is cast iron – it holds the heat and gives you better caramelisation – in truth, it was my daughter Nessie who used the 24cm Le Creuset first, in a flash of inspiration. The lid makes it all so much easier. You’ll still get great results using a china dish, which you cover (see recipe), but the cast iron gives you sticky, gooey yummy bits. You can use just about any apple, but one that collapse a bit are best – Granny Smith, Mutsu are both good and make sure to slice them very thinly – approx 3 mm. Freshly grate your nutmeg – it makes the world of difference, as much of those glorious flavours diminish rapidly after grating. You can use any sugar, but I do prefer a crystallised sugar here and go for the larger demerara, but can’t see why you couldn’t give a rapadura a go if you’d like.
Do give it a try, and I hope you love it as much as I do. Oh, and before I go – yes, I agree the font is way too small, and we’re in the works of updating the blog site….
APPLE BROWN BETTY
If using a china dish, choose a dish with a good surface area rather than a similar capacity that is deeper with less surface area – 22cm diameter x 4.5cm depth, with a capacity of 5 cups is good.
4 – 5 pieces good sour – dough bread, crusts removed cut into 1 cm dice. You need 3 cups approx (gently packed) bread cubes.
½ cup raw or demarara sugar
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
grated zest from 1 lemon
40 gm unsalted butter – melted
800 gm apples – if bruised, extra to compensate
Pre heat oven to 200c or 180 if fan forced.
Combine the nutmeg and sugar in a medium size bowl – remove 2 tablespoons of this and set aside. Add the bread cubes to this bowl (that has the larger amount of sugar) together with the lemon zest and toss through to mix with the sugar and nutmeg. Add the melted butter and toss through to distribute the butter evenly.
Peel the apples and cut into quarters. Remove the core and cut into 3 – 4 slices, approx 1 cm thick. Place 1 cup of the bread cubes on the base of the baking dish or 24cm cast iron French oven. Layer half the apples over the bread, then top with ½ cup bread cubes. Layer the remaining apples and drizzle 60 ml water over them. Top with the remaining bread cubes, and sprinkle the reserved sugar and spice over this. It will be very, very full but will bake down. Pat down and best you can, and cover with a piece of baking paper and foil, with the foil on the outside, and the baking paper touching the apples.
Bake in oven for 40 – 45 mins, or until the apples are bubbling and noticeably cooked. Remove the foil and paper (or lid) and bake for a further 15 mins or until lightly golden, crispy and caramelised.
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