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Blood Orange Reduction
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  • 3 or more blood oranges

  • Balsalmic vinegar (optional)

  • Honey (optional)

This will be another one of those recipes that I don’t get super specific about the amounts. And honestly, depending on your preferences, you can totally omit either the vinegar or the honey. It really depends on what you are planning to use this reduction for - to dress greens? to glaze fish or chicken? on top of some sort of desert? There are various uses for an orange-based reduction, so figure out what you plan to do with it first then act accordingly. Obviously citrus fruits have sugar and you can create a reduction just with the blood orange juice itself, but I like a little extra bit of sweetness, hence why I add honey to mine. I also feel like it helps balance the slightly bitter taste of a blood orange.

Juice all of your blood oranges, either with a citrus juicer or an actual powered juicer. I used my Kuvings juicer. Add in your other ingredients, if applicable (vinegar and honey.) Pour all of the juice into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Then reduce to a low simmer and allow it to cook until the liquid level in the pan is at least halved. The longer you allow it to reduce, and the lower the level goes, the thicker it will be.

Lex Sova
Gluten Free Banana Muffins
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  • 2 cups brown rice flour

  • 1 tsp baking powder

  • 1 tsp baking soda

  • 1/8 tsp salt

  • a dash of cinnamon (more or less depending on how much you love cinnamon.)

  • 3 ripe bananas

  • 1/2 cup honey

  • 1/3 cup butter

  • 4 eggs

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. Set aside. Mash bananas in a medium sized bowl. Add room temperature butter into the mix (let’s be honest, I melted my butter in the microwave. It didn’t ruin my muffins… but you might get a better muffin top if you use butter at room temp. something about room temperature dairy products producing air bubbles that result in fluffier baked goods.) Add honey, eggs, and vanilla. Mix well. Pour this mixture into the large bowl with dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly, either by hand with a spatula, or with a mixer. Pour about 3/4 of mixture into paper lined muffin tins. Bake until slightly golden brown, and use the toothpick trick in the middle of the muffin to ensure that no batter sticks to the stick and that it is internally baked throughout.

Brief notes, because full-blown essays about the personal experience of any given recipe, and how everyone in the household responded to the final product, is absolutely insufferable.

  • I created this recipe after switching to a gluten free diet over 2 months ago. Normally I would avoid improvisational baking at all costs, because it is a lot more of a science than cooking. However, I couldn’t find a single gluten free muffin recipe that fit the criteria I was looking for. Most of the gluten free baking recipes I found online were either dairy free, featured certain types of flour substitutes I couldn’t easily source at my preferred grocers, OR they included extra ingredients that I don’t want to make space for in my already crammed pantry. (tapioca starch, xanthan gum, etc etc) So I whipped up a mix with a bit of guesswork, put one muffin into the oven at a time and made adjustments to the recipe until the batter finally did what it was supposed to.

  • Yes, 4 eggs is a lot of eggs. It’s the only way I could get the batter to rise, and trust me, it needs every last egg in this recipe.

  • I made a simple cream cheese frosting for these once (just google for the recipe, its super simple) and it paired so well with these muffins!

  • These are boyfriend / gluten-eater approved :)

Lex Sova
Meatless, Beefless Vegetable Pot Roast
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FYI: I typically avoid stating approximate amounts with ingredients because there are so many factors like, your own personal preference with certain veggies, or the amount that you are making. There is a decent amount of flexibility but if you follow the basic structure in ingredients and steps, a slight variation in ingredient proportion won’t screw the whole thing up… this isn’t baking! But, in case it helps, I stated my general amounts used.

ingredients:
●OLIVE OIL (vegan) OR BUTTER (lacto-ovo vegetarians)
●RED WINE (Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon work great - you can easily use the entire bottle in this recipe, but you can use less if you’re cooking a smaller amount)
●BETTER THAN BOUILLON - NO BEEF VEGAN BASE (2-3 tablespoons)
●FLOUR (I used about 3 to 3-½ tablespoons of flour to 2 tablespoons oil/butter for the roux for this dish.)
●ROSEMARY (dried or fresh - 1-2 tablespoons)
●SALT (to taste - remember that bouillon is usually salted)
●PEPPER (to taste / use your best judgment)
●WHITE OR YELLOW ONION (1-2)
●SEVERAL CLOVES OF GARLIC (diced or slice length-wise - I LOVE garlic so I used several cloves, but I know not everyone is as enthused about it as I.)
●CARROTS (i like baby carrots because I’m lazy but you can chop whole ones instead - use as many as you like. Rapa and I agree MORE is best when it comes to carrots in this recipe!)
●RADISHES (leave small rad’s whole or you can cut them all in half. I used two whole bunches of radishes. it seems odd but they’re awesome in a roast, and healthy!)
●BABY BELLA MUSHROOMS (or mushrooms of choice - insane bonus points for using morel. I used a whole box of baby bella’s and halved them.)
●RED POTATOES (chop to about 1” or smaller pieces, feel free to leave skin on. I used 5-6 medium sized red potatoes.)
●GARDEN MEATLESS BEEF TIPS (optional, because I honestly think that this stew roast would have been just fine without them, but if you enjoy meat imitations, go for it. I used one bag.)

I like to use a dutch oven pan for this recipe, which allows me to get the recipe started on the stovetop but then transfers to the oven. However, if you do not have a dutch oven, a heavy sauce pan will do and you can omit the oven transfer step and just finish cooking stovetop with the lid on.

Gratuitously oil the bottom of a dutch oven pot or heavy sauce pan. Set burner to medium high heat. Quarter a white or yellow onion and toss into pan. Allow to brown/blacken on the cut faces - the juices of the onion and the oil will begin to leave a charred residue on the bottom of the pan (called “Fond” by culinaries) which makes for great flavoring when we deglaze the pan later.

Toss in your (chopped carrots) or whole baby carrots, give them a (literal) minute, then toss in the radishes, stir a bit, and add mushrooms. The intention with this initial sauteé is NOT to thoroughly or even significantly cook these vegetables - moreso to get them off to a good carmelized start & of course to brown that pan bottom. So after just a couple short minutes of sauteéing those veggies, remove them from the pan and set them aside in a bowl. At this point, I decided to brown my beefless tips, figuring they too could contribute to the fond on the pan bottom, whilst browning their edges nicely like a real beef roast. After browning the tips, remove and set aside in bowl.

Turn your heat down a bit to medium heat, pop open your bottle of wine and pour ¾ of the bottle into the pan. Use a wooden spatula with a flat edge to scrape all of that good stuff off of the bottom of the pan. Give it a couple minutes to break down, and while you’re waiting you can toss in 2-3 tablespoons of beefless bouillon and stir in. Make sure your heat isn’t TOO high but hot enough to break down your bouillon and absorb some of that goodness from the bottom of the pan. Transfer this stock liquid to another container or pitcher, we will be adding it back into the pan gradually.

Now you’ll make a roux in the bottom of the pan by melting either olive oil or butter over medium heat. When it is hot, begin gradually mixing in flour until a thick, rough paste forms. Begin adding your stock to the roux, slowly mixing it in. The roux will help the sauce to thicken up as it cooks. Add the rest of the stock back to the pan this way. I ground up my dried rosemary in my Magic Bullet - super finely, at that, because the last time I made a roast I accidentally swallowed a twig/stem and had anxiety about it perforating an organ for about a week :) Add salt and pepper and turn up to a medium high heat. Toss in your chopped potatoes, the sautéed veggies (onion/carrot/radish/mushroom) and the beefless tips. Stir, then cover with lid and put dutch oven in your actual oven at 350 degrees for about 40-50 minutes.  If you don’t have a dutch oven, put the lid on your pan and continue simmering on stovetop for 40-50 minutes or until potatoes are thoroughly cooked.

Lex Sova
Guided Meditation Playlist
Obligatory peaceful ocean picture. Taken in Malibu on our 2018 summer holiday.

Obligatory peaceful ocean picture. Taken in Malibu on our 2018 summer holiday.

TLDR: I created a playlist compiling several of my favorite meditation tracks that I have found on YouTube over the years. On this playlist, you will find guided meditations with different themes - anxiety and stress relief, gratitude, endorphin releasing, mind clearing, etc. I also threw in some binaural tracks (frequency-based music intended to promote relaxation, creativity, healing and various other mental states.) The binaural tracks are without voices, so you can easily play them in your headphones while working or resting.

My very first introduction to meditation took place in my final semester of college. I met with an advisor about my remaining credits - turns out I was left with one awkward single credit to fulfill (all thanks to that Dance Dance Revolution “gym” class that I just haaaaad to take my freshman year!) In reviewing available courses that would fit into my schedule, I stumbled upon a Creative Mindfulness and Meditation course in the theatre department. I vividly recall my discomfort walking in to the first day, as our class was instructed to remove our shoes and “move freely about the room, either imagining yourself as an alien new to the earth, or a baby just born.” EK. THIS was foreign to me. There is a good reason I am a visual artist and not performanced-based. Over the semester, our class did yoga, practiced clearing the mind and focusing on physical sensation and being through meditation, shared vulnerable thoughts in our discussion circles, worked and talked through many assignments and exercises that intended to bring mindfulness into our individual creative practices. By the end of the semester there was a sense of trust and community among hose of us in the class and our teacher. The class had transcended the objective of fulfilling a credit, and I don’t think it would be a stretch to assume that every person who completed the course remains impacted. For me, it was an introduction to all of the good stuff I had heard of but not yet tried for myself. It integrated various techniques into my wellness toolkit. I would love to elaborate more in upcoming weeks about my new self-care regimen, but it will be a lengthy post so I will save it for another entry. I hope this playlist is helpful to someone, even if you find just one or two tracks that you can integrate into your own routine!

Lex Sova
Orange Cauliflower Cashew Vegetarian Stir Fry
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ingredients:
●OLIVE OIL OR BUTTER (I actually used Avocado oil from Costco - it’s cheap, healthy, and is tolerant of high heat.)
●HEAD OF CAULIFLOWER (1)
●WHITE OR YELLOW ONION (1)
●CARROTS (5-6 carrots cut on diagonal)
●CELERY (4-5 stalks cut on diagonal)
●GREEN ONION / SHALLOTS (amount is your call)
●CASHEWS (as many as you can stand. there is no such thing as too many cashews honestly.)

sauce ingredients:
●SUGAR (2/3 cup)
●SOY SAUCE (1/3 cup)
●LEMON (I used the juice of half of a large lemon)

seasoning blend for roasting ingredients:
●RED PEPPER FLAKES (2 tablespoons)
●DRIED GINGER POWDER (2 teaspoons)
●DRIED GARLIC POWDER (2 teaspoons)

The first part of this recipe consists of roasting the cauliflower. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Chop up the cauliflower head into smaller, reasonably bite sized pieces. Place in a pan and coat with oil. I used my Magic Bullet to create a finely-ground mixture of red pepper flakes, dried ginger, and dried garlic. After blending well, pour the mixture over the oil-coated cauliflower and mix well so all pieces are thoroughly seasoned. Place in the oven and roast for 20-25 minutes. Normally cauliflower needs about 30 minutes to roast fully but we will be stir frying it too so we are aiming to avoid overcooking it.

Chop an entire onion. I like to chop it length-wise so that it splits into long strips, as opposed to dicing. Chop celery on the diagonal, decent sized chunks, not super thin slivers. I chop the carrots the same way. Slice green onions thin and set aside as a garnish. If you buy whole cashews instead of halved, you can cut roughly chop them into smaller pieces.

Measure out sugar and pour into a bowl that you can mix the liquid up in. Add measured soy sauce, and the juice of half of a large lemon. Mix well with a spoon, then pour into small saucepan on medium heat and stir until sugar has melted. Turn off heat.

Heat up your oil or butter in the wok on high heat. Sauté your onion. Add chopped carrot and allow to sauté for a couple minutes. Add celery, then cashews. Add roasted cauliflower, then pour the melted sauce mixture over the veggies and stir in pan with heat still on. Turn heat off after a couple minutes and serve over rice. Garnish with green onion.

Things I definitely would have added if I had them in my pantry:
●WATER CHESTNUTS
●CANNED BABY CORN
●SHITTAKE MUSHROOMS

Lex Sova