Cashew Persimmon Milk

The first time I tried a persimmon was during winter finals my sophomore year of college. I had a 3 a.m. scrambled eggs study break in the kitchen, and a girl on my floor was cutting what looked to be a super orange tomato. I’ve always been pretty nosy when I spot food I don’t recognize, so I asked her what it was. She gave me a piece; tasted like fall.

It’s persimmon season right now, so I’ve been trying to eat them as often as I can (for breakfast most mornings the past few weeks!). The trick is you HAVE to eat them ripe. Jack knows more about picking ripe fruit than anyone I know, and he brought some over for me from Chinatown this weekend. When I saw the persimmon milk in this recipe, I knew I had to make a cashew version.

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Cashew Persimmon Milk

Yields 1.5 liters 

3 cups cashews, soaked overnight in water

3 very ripe persimmons, skin removed

4 cups filtered water

1 tablespoon agave nectar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine all of the above ingredients in a blender on high. Keep whirring for a minute or two, until completely blended. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days, or drink immediately.

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This cashew milk has a beautiful light orange hue, and is incredibly creamy. I think it would also be delicious with a pinch of nutmeg and a shot of bourbon.

-M

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On Trying to Be An Adult

I’m eating beer for dinner.

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Its been one of those weeks where I’m not sure where I’m at. So many things are happening around me. I know people who are engaged, I also know people who can’t find a job. I know people who are out seeing the world, I also know people who will live in their hometown for the rest of their life. Same bar, same barstool kinda deal.

For your childhood and teenage years you’re at a set pace with the rest. Everyone goes to elementary school, and later high school, and then hopefully college. Once graduation happens, though, all bets are off. I was lucky to have gotten a job two days after graduating from college. I’m lucky to have a true career in an industry I’m passionate about, and to live comfortably in a neighborhood I love. It still doesn’t give me answers.

Last week my grandpa asked, “What is your five year plan?” For someone who is type-A (almost to a fault), it was strange not to have an answer. I don’t know.

I don’t know.

Tonight I went food shopping to make a curry (summer squash– the last of it!– string beans, tofu, green curry paste, and coconut milk), and instead made a bowl of cereal with bananas and almond milk. The cereal ended up tasting like a cardboard box and SO here I am, drinking this Pumple Drumkin beer from Nantucket. No interest in making dinner.

Melissa Smith, the adult. Now raise your hand if you’re as confused as I am.

-M

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24

A happy belated 24th and 3rd birthday to myself and this little blog, respectively. Let’s enjoy some strawberry shortcake together. Blame sharp turns and a back seat spot for the smushed part, but still completely delicious!

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What a crazy year its been. I moved to Brooklyn, ran the New York City Half Marathon, and was recently hired to help open Whole Foods Market-Brooklyn as its Community Liaison. Somewhere in between all of that Superstorm Sandy happened, I went rock climbing and hung out in Prospect Park, and met up with a bunch of friends from college. A guy named Jack asked me to be his girlfriend–probably because I baked him banana bread and brought him a slice on our first date. I went vegan for 28 days, read books, traveled for work, and went on vacation! Boca Raton for life.

I also started watching the Bachelor/Bachelorette, which is strange and also probably not noteworthy, but nevertheless… so much to update you on! I know you’re out there reading this, Jeff Mindell.

For my birthday, my family came to one of my favorite local spots, Barboncino, for some great heirloom tomatoes and burrata, white bean pesto, and a slice (slices, really: margherita is always a winner and their clam pie is amazing).

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Over the past year I learned that keeping things simple is best, for me: reading a book, cooking an uncomplicated recipe, going for a walk. Holding Jack’s hand and really appreciating him, calling my mom. Always call your mom.

For my 24th year I’m looking forward to continuing to learn about myself, this cute borough I moved to, and finding more and more things that simply, make me happy.

Updates to come? I said that two posts ago and think (hope?) I mean it this time. Lots of good stuff to share.

Oh, and happy Labor Day Weekend!

-M

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Peach Pancakes

Pancakes.

You MAY or may not be pancake-d out, just coming off of the weekend and all, but I’m going to challenge you to do something for yourself. Make pancakes (hopefully, these pancakes) on a week day. Wake up 30 minutes earlier, flip some batter and sit down for the most important meal of the day.

Then head to work…sorry! Someone’s gotta do it.

This recipe was inspired by these Pineapple Upside Down Banana Pancakes (which you should try out, too).

Peach Pancakes

Makes two pancakes

1 small peach, peeled and sliced

1/2 cup brown rice flour

1/4 cup almond milk, plus more as needed

1/2 ripe banana

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Pinch sea salt

Earth balance, or butter, as needed for the peaches

Turn a pan to medium heat with 1/2 tablespoon or so of Earth Balance (or butter), and add in the peaches to sauté. In the meantime, combine almond milk and banana in a blender, until smooth (should be just a few seconds). Pour into a mixing bowl, and whisk in the brown rice flour, baking powder and salt, plus more almond milk if needed. Once the batter is well-mixed, add a bit more Earth Balance to the pan. Divide the sautéed peaches in the pan, so that you can pour the batter over and make two distinct pancakes. Pour batter into the pan, forming two circles directly over the peaches, and flip after 3-4 minutes. Once fully cooked, top with agave nectar or maple syrup.

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These light pancakes are also vegan and gluten free. Party!

-M

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Hello From Brooklyn

Hi there. Know what I hate? I mean REALLY dislike? When people don’t write in their blog for a while, and then profusely apologize in a post.

For example: so sorry! I’ve been super busy. Back to blogging… today!

Imma go ahead and skip all that. Hello from Brooklyn. Hello from the most comfortable bed in Brooklyn, to be exact (that would be my bed; thank you West Elm).

Now let’s talk Pop Tarts.

This morning I was listening to Z100– as all those born-and-raised in New York do– and they covered a story on how a woman (Latasha Renee) had her son arrested for stealing her Pop Tarts. Real life, folks.

Which brings me to Magpies. I don’t think they have a website (?) so check ’em out here. Pop Tarts for grown ups. Not that you can’t eat Pop Tarts as a grown up, just that these bad boys come in flavors like Spicy Pear. Think of a buttery, butter cookie + great jam + the cutest-colored icing slathered on top. Take your iPhone out. Gram it. Share with a friend who came to visit you in your grown up apartment, not realizing that she drove all the way to Brooklyn to eat a Pop Tart (thanks, Margot!).

Enjoy something delectable today.

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-M

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Cannellini and Kale Soup

Sooooooo. I have some exciting news.

After a months-long search, my friend Debbe and I are finally moving to Brooklyn!! Can’t believe it’s really happening, but as of February 1st I’ll be a resident of my favorite borough. YAY.

Only downside to moving is, well, paying rent. I’ve been preparing my wallet for a while now and have found that soups, stews, chilis, etc. are a SOUP-er budget-friendly way to eat great food throughout the week, and still afford to eat out on the weekends.

This is my latest recipe, and I liked it so much as my lunch last week I thought I’d share! Sunday is a perfect day to make one-pot dishes to take to work for the week, so run to your local grocery store and get cookin’.

Cannellini and Kale Soup

Makes four servings

32oz container vegetable stock

16oz jar tomato sauce (trust me on this one!)

2-13oz cans cannellini beans

1 yellow onion, diced

1 shallot, minced

4 celery stalks, diced

2 parsnips, peeled and diced

2 carrots, peeled and diced

1 bunch curly kale, roughly chopped

Sea salt and fresh black pepper to taste

Add onion and shallot to a pot on high heat. Drop the heat to medium after a minute or so and add some vegetable stock to the pot to deglaze. Add in the celery, carrots and parsnips and let sit for 10 minutes, or until the carrots become soft. Pour in the tomato sauce, cannellini beans and remaining vegetable stock, and stir. After 20 minutes, add in the kale, salt and pepper, and serve once the kale has wilted.

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I doled this out into glass containers for easy grabbing on my way out the door, and popped ’em in the microwave at work. Enjoy!

-M

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Baklava

Melissa in Greek means honey bee. Because of this, I’ve always thought bees were pretty cool. They’re super loyal, pollinate plants, and give us honey.

I take my tea with honey, stir it into oatmeal, and down spoonfuls of local honey during allergy season. The Jewish side of my family believes eating honey brings sweetness, and my Greek side just believes in it.

I was lucky enough to eat baklava in Israel a few years ago, and eat it often at our favorite Greek restaurant. This year I decided to make it myself for Christmas using this recipe. Don’t be intimidated! The trick is to keep a moist paper towel on hand so the phyllo doesn’t tear, and if it does, just mend with some melted butter.

Baklava

Wishing you only sweetness in 2013.

-M

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