As I mentioned in early May, David and I both have May birthdays, and we planned to stretch those celebrations across the entire month. We both love to eat, especially wild foods and raw vegan goodies. I’ve got a backlog of photos, but today I thought I’d share a surprisingly synchronous feast we shared with our friends Brian and Ingrid.
We had planned to make a light, easy Thai themed dinner for them: Bok Choy Salad with Dulse, Cucumber-ACV-Berkano (our nickname for birch sweetener), and Coconut Red Curry Basil Kelp Noodles. For dessert, I prepared some Tazo Thrive Green Tea — which includes licorice, chicory, spearmint and rose hips — then blended it with lucuma powder, a tiny bit of coconut oil and some vanilla stevia. We froze this in ice cube trays the night before and intended to blend it into a “Green Tea Gelato” to cap off our meal.
We got everything prepared, but Life threw us what turned out to be a fun and fortuitous surprise. Our central air had broken before we left for my birthday road trip and we figured it would all be fixed by the time we returned five days later. Um, not quite. No problem the first night, but last Sunday was a scorcher in Madison. As we watched the temperature in the coolest room of our house climb higher and higher, we decided that experience wasn’t guest worthy. Change of plans. We ended up bringing some meals on wheels to Brian and Ingrid, initially feeling bad to have invited them over for dinner and then invited ourselves over to their place. Little did we know, Ingrid had been secretly hoping for such a switch! You’ll see why later, but first, some photos of the initial part of our feast:
This was super easy to prepare. We just soaked kelp noodles in water during the rest of the food prep time, then cut them into manageable pieces with kitchen sheers. David cracked two young Thai coconuts, put the water and meat into the Vitamix, and blended with a huge handful of fresh basil, and some Thai Kitchen Red Curry. The seasoning’s not raw, but it’s pretty clean as far as store bought seasonings go. Plus, it’s super yum.
The salads had simple, light dressings. David gets the cucumber sliced so nicely with an OXO mandolin that can make match stick slices. I’ve never tried it because I don’t use “the big people knives,” but we have various veggie shaping options in our kitchen for those who dare. 😉
The food tasted refreshing on such a sweltering day, and it felt like a Thai restaurant experience in Brian and Ingrid’s elegant dining room. Here’s where the meal got interesting, though. Just as I got up to prep the dessert into Gelato, Ingrid said she had a small confession to make. She had been trying to figure out how to shift the invitation for us to go to their place instead of them coming to ours, because she didn’t know how to transport her creations. As a birthday surprise she had made not one, but two raw vegan desserts from the Cafe Gratitude Sweet Desserts (un)cookbook. Not just any two desserts, either! She went all out and made the multi-layered, multi-textured, and multi-day-prep-time Tiramisu, as well as a super delicious Key Lime Pie. I got a little bit excited!
Cafe Gratitude uses a fair amount of soy lecithin in their desserts, and Ingrid’s quite anti-soy. I asked if she used sunflower seed lecithin, but the way she explained lecithin to me, I can see why she opted to experiment on her own. Without using the lecithin, she needed to keep adding and whipping and whirring until things reached the right state of fluffiness and firmness. I don’t know how she did it, but she did. Both the desserts were amazing and completely indistinguishable from their more traditional counterparts.
Needless to say, we were too stuffed for Green Tea Gelato. We left them with the cubes and instructions on how to make it later. We ended up making the Gelato the next night and I’d have to revise my original instructions to say, let the ice cubes melt a bit and then maybe add a bit of maple syrup or agave nectar (which I don’t normally use, but it would be tasty here) before blending. Ours was good with a bit of water to loosen things up, but I think the bit of extra sweet and stickiness would be extra yummy.
But back to the Tiramisu and Key Lime Pie … we were truly blown away. I’ve eaten both before at Cafe Gratitude, and I have to say that these even surpassed my experiences there. Perhaps it’s because they were made with extra love especially for my birthday. Perhaps it’s because Ingrid completely rocks. In any case, super yum. I am so grateful to have such wonderful friends and gorgeous, delicious food. And a special thank you to David for all the photographs and for his part in our portion of this evening’s meal. Mmmmmhmmmm, a blessed extended birthday, indeed!