home cooking

Vegan + GF Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies With Kiara


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This is it, the last food story of 2017!  I had no idea this year would have turned into the year of the food story but am so glad it did.  It has been a really amazing privilege to check out everyone's cool kitchens and play with their pets (and also snack I guess too).

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Last week as I geared up for Christmas I got to take a tiny break from the pressures of finding the perfect gifts, drowning in wrapping paper and thinking of the most decadent holiday snacks I would never end up making to go adventure to Pasadena to hang with Kiara. 

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Kiara Ana Perico is a musician, yoga teacher, chakra candle making extraordinaire.  She invited me to a much needed yoga class the morning of our food shoot where I arrived a little nervous, a little groggy (hi mornings are not my thing), probably parked in the wrong parking spot, but fully ready for some de-stressing exercise.  If you've followed my exercise journey you might know I have a love/hate relationship with yoga (mostly bc I never know if I'm getting in a relaxing session or a workout) but a love/love relationship with routine physical activity to maintain good mental health.  I always feel my best emotionally and mentally when I get regular exercise so I didn't need to be persuaded to check out Kiara's class.  It was an excellent journey into some tough poses but nothing felt impossible or excessive with her guidance.  Definitely check out one of her sessions if you get a chance.

I left for our food shoot feeling energized, rejuvenated and very ready for some of her famous Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies!

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As we found out the night before when I did a check in text, we both grew up in the glamorous 413 area code of Western Massachusetts.  Kiara hails from only about a 20 minute drive from where my parents still live, which is a pretty cool coincidence to find out 3,000+ miles away.  She even had a wooden bowl from the same guy who was vending at a tiny craft fair I went to, whose work I agonized over and then finally admitted would not fit in my suitcase.

Look at that attractive raw edge bowl. Such envy.

Look at that attractive raw edge bowl. Such envy.

Her choice to make Oatmeal Breakfast cookies hearkens back to those days of New England family breakfast duty, modernized for her adult life. From Kiara:

"Family traditions can take many forms.  My papa made me breakfast every day.  The meals rotated through oatmeal, french toast and scrambled eggs.  Oatmeal has been an incredible staple through my whole life.  It's warming, nutrient-dense and full of memories with my father.  Because I travel so much and even when I'm home, I'm on the move.  I wanted to develop a breakfast cookie made with the same ingredients as that favorite childhood oatmeal so I could have breakfast on the go wherever I am in the world!  These are 100% Vegan and gluten free so everyone can enjoy!"

Ushering me into the kitchen Kiara gave me one of her recent gingerbread breakfast cookies to sample (the recipe for those are on her blog linked at the end!) and got to work on measuring out everything she would need. Plopping the oats into her mixer, she chatted with me about life in this city compared to life back east, how to be healthy on the go and about redoing her kitchen.

The last of the ingredients go into the mixer and Kiara makes some special green tea for us that was indeed very special and I have entirely forgotten it's name.  Sorry tea.

With everything mixed up it's time for our oatmeal mix to get scooped out onto trays to become it's final glorious breakfast cookie form.

With our little cookie friends in the oven we hang out in the warm sunlight of the kitchen, play with Kiara's dog sitting charge, Mooch, and I get to learn about how life brought her from the east coast all the way to this house and all the cool ways she and her husband have started to modify it to really make it home.

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It's cookie time....

It's cookie time....

Finally we sit down on Kiara's brand new couch (it's awesome guys) with our mugs of fancy tea, some of her chakra candles lighting the way and these warm, perfectly crumbly oatmeal breakfast cookies.  She also brings out a jar of her homemade Meyer lemon marmalade to liberally top our bites of breakfast and little Mooch runs around trying to live up to her namesake and sneak a taste.  These cookies are incredible.  The not overtly tart marmalade plays off the hearty sweet notes in the oatmeal cookies and it feels friendly and substantial and full of good intentions.

Thanks Kiara for sharing your taste of home with me!  You can check out more of her recipes, yoga suggestions and general tips for a cool life on her blog at: kikisway.com

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Until next time, have a happy New Year and I'll catch you all in 2018.

Happy snacking,

xoxo,

RP

 

Rosemary Vegan + GF Biscuits with Rachael


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It's not often that I get the surreal and wonderful experience of photographing another photographer, but that is exactly what happened earlier this month for my latest food story with photographer turned baker extraordinaire, Rachael Lee. 

Like so many of us artists, Rachael has found it hard to stick to just one avenue of expression.  She often shoots portraits and weddings but has been exploring her passion for writing and baking recently through the release of her very first cookbook called "Flour for Thought", which is a collection of vegan and gluten free recipes and poems. 

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As I hopped over to her kitchen, she was working on the first of many batches of snacks for her book release party and I had the opportunity to see her rosemary biscuits in action and capture some snack making for a really important and momentous occasion.  If she was nervous about her book release, she never showed it for a second.  Ever the hospitable host, Rachael poured me a cup of coffee, introduced me to her tiny pup and got to work on the dough. 

One of my favorite parts of these food stories is seeing how people get started, how they arrange their ingredients and the way they use their hands.  I hear from so many people that they are nervous to be seen working a dough or mixing with their hands, as if it somehow looks unprofessional or messy.  To me, it's the sweetest moment, where one sees a person really interact with their creation and put a little bit of themselves into it.  Basked in the sunlight of her wonderfully vintage kitchen Rachael and I got to talking as the biscuits took shape.

Here's a little bit from her in her own words about the importance of these special biscuits.

"Something new woke up inside of me this year...my heart began to ache and long for things that it had previously given up on. Things like community, seasons, and being nourished. Food has a lot to do with history, legacy, and what is passed down from generation to generation. Our ingredients and recipes can be a deeply intimate record of who we loved and how we lived. That being said, my work on my poetry cookbook (Flour for Thought) led me to a newfound discovery that there has been a beautiful history of strength in the women of my family -- strength that came from pain. And while I adopted these powerful habits of independence and fearlessness, I had to become self-taught at what it means to be soft.

Living in a large city like Los Angeles doesn't always make the gentleness easy. It's massive and sprawling and makes us prone to disconnecting. In a world that has become loud and a culture with more noise than we can decipher, we have to become our own teachers, physicians, and spirit guides. It is crucial, now more than ever, that we learn to nurture ourselves and each other. It is our duty here.

These vegan rosemary buttermilk biscuits are one of my favorite ways to cut out the noise and create "home." This recipe is straight from my book and I hope it inspires you."

The biscuits get kneaded and patted out.

The new little biscuit shapes are popped onto a tray and prepped for baking.

We relax for a moment, sip some coffee and talk about the ever changing landscape of photography.  Though the world can certainly be stressful and heavy, in these brief little windows, in a bright kitchen on a lazy morning, it's so comforting to be just two women, doing what we love, sharing and hanging out.

The oven lets us know our biscuits are ready and it's time for their close up!

Seriously, look at those beauties!

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After a quick quality control taste test, it's confirmed- Rachael's rosemary gluten free vegan biscuits are a success! 

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You can find out more about Rachael on her blog at: rachaelleestroud.com or her photography at: rachaelleephoto.com where I hope you will snatch up a copy of her cookbook and poetry book for youself!

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Happy snacking everyone,

xoxo

RP

 

Tortilla Making with FOUR Generations!


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This weekend the incomparable Vanessa Gritton shared her family with a few lucky folks to learn the art of proper tortilla making from an absolute expert- her grandma Vilma Landaverde!

Grandma Vilma Landaverde was in Los Angeles visiting from Guatemala where she has spent a life time mastering her cooking, and taught us tips for mixing the dough, forming an even tortilla and grilling it to perfection.  On hand to help, Vanessa and her mother Sidia Landaverde translated from Spanish, brother Luis snapped some photos and sister in law Carolina Lanuza carefully helped all the newbies with their baby tortillas while their daughter roamed around making friends and snacks!  I was thrilled to have the chance to photograph this important occasion and I hope you all enjoy them!

Now for some words from Vanessa herself:

"Growing up I was envious of other kids that got to spend weekends at grandmas. The ones that would moan about having to spend yet another holiday at Grammas House. I longed for that.

Half of my family lives in Guatemala. I have half of my heart in another country at all times. I only get to see my grandmother every few years. I really wanted a chance to get me my mother and my niece in the same room to cook. Making food and feeding people we love is how my mom and I communicate. Break up? Have some bread and coffee and tell me what happened mija. Bad day at work? I made some sopa de rez, sit down and eat. Congrats! You had a great show! I made you some plantains and beans.

Even as an adult, to feed is to love for me. I know so many folks that wish they learned how to make a loved one’s recipe and never made time for it, the chance to share my wise, wonderful, intense grandmother with a group was an honor. I think I’m a comedian because after having four generations in the same room, we all really thrive with a crowd. I’ve never seen her smile like that."

Mixing the dough.

Sidia Landaverde prepares some tortillas to start everyone off.

Kneading the dough.

Vanessa instructs the class on the recipe, it's background, types of flour, importance of lard or oil and shares how her grandma measures.  Sidia and Carolina jump in to help.

We learn about the importance of touch to determine when dough is ready.

The group gets some help and starts working on shaping.

Grandma Vilma Landaverde whips up some empanadas stuffed with ground beef, potatoes and peas as well as a sweet version with homemade pineapple jam.

Sharing some tips and tricks.

Everyone enjoys themselves while snacking on the fruit of their efforts.

Tortillas, Guatemalan cheese, fry bread, pina jam and honey from a relative's bees!

Thank you Vilma Landaverde!

xoxo,

RP