MACROFASHION

interview with berkshire vegan + a simple cashew cheese sauce

Posted in dessert, interview, macrobiotics, vegan by jill on September 22, 2010

Image courtesy of the Berkshire Vegan

I was introduced to Yukiko Sato, better know as the Berkshire Vegan, the minute I bit into her cashew cream vanilla cake. Turns out this talented vegan/macro lass has her own catering business and offers classes around the general vicinity. I’ve personally been inspired by vegan desserts and dairy alternatives in cooking and baking, Yukiko clearly has it down. You go girl!

First off, where did you get that recipe for that cake? Was it a recipe you improvised from the book you were mentioning or did you alter it? Everyone at Kushi Institute was raving about how delicious it was!

Thank you! Sweet and Natural by Meredith McCarty is the book. The book gives some leeway as to what sweetener or milk substitute you use but it’s pretty much based on the recipe. I like to use half maple syrup and half brown rice syrup for sweetener. If you use only rice syrup, the cake tends to get dense and heavy and if you use only maple syrup, the taste is a bit overpowering.

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Yukiko’s scrumptious vanilla cakes

So, what got you in the kitchen in the first place? And what inspired you to become vegan/macrobiotic?

I always loved cooking when I was a little kid. My mom’s a good cook and used to bake a lot. Soon I kind of took over when I was young. I’ve been health conscious and became interested in making healthy desserts. In the beginning, I would make really dense and heavy tasteless desserts and made my mom say, “I like it better with butter and sugar and heavy cream.” Taking some macrobiotic dessert classes in Tokyo inspired me and that made me want to learn about macrobiotics.

What’s inspiring you these days?

Cookbooks and recipes online (vegweb.com, fatfreevegan.com, theppk.com). Also when I see fresh local ingredients that are in season, I ponder what I can do with them.

What’s your motto when you start making delicious creations like the vanilla cakes we consumed that evening?

To have a clear vision of what I want to make, taste wise and presentation wise. I like to be organized so I can proceed in a calm manner.

What’s the most essential ingredient you use in macro/vegan cooking and why?

Love! I really believe energy you put in food makes a lot of difference.

What knife brand do you use?

NHS, the one that the Kushi Store carries.

Actually, what are other must-have kitchen weapons that any macrobiotic ninjas must own? Any recommended brands?

Good blender (I love Vita-Mix). I know too much creaminess is not so good but it’s important to be able to make something that has a creamy/comforting mouth-feel especially if you are cooking for someone that’s just transitioning to macrobiotics. Stainless steel cookware, wooden spoons and a rubber spatula (my favorite kitchen tool!) are important, I think.

What music do you rock out to while cooking?

Depends on my mood that day. Sometimes jazz, sometimes rock. Recently I’ve been listening to a lot of Hawaiian music.

Anything on your bookshelf that you love?

I have too many books that I love. Christina Pirello, Jessica Porter, Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. A lot of times I don’t strictly follow recipes but like to flip through cookbooks to get ideas. The Voluptuous Vegan by Myra Kornfeld is a good one if you want to make something nice and fancy. Simple Treats by Ellen Abraham has a lot of nice cookie recipes.

You have the whole day off. Where do you go to chill out?

I like hanging out at health food stores or kitchen specialty stores to check out new products and gadgets. Or bookstores to flip through cookbooks.

What’s your 9 Star Ki?

I’m a 3 tree. Yep, creative and organized but wishy washy!

Image Courtesy of the Berkshire Vegan

Image courtesy of the Berkshire Vegan

For any cheese fanatics, Yukiko left me with a quick and simple recipe of hers. She recommends to eyeball the proportions if the measurements are off.

BERKSHIRE VEGAN’S PASTA WITH CASHEW CHEESY SAUCE

1/2 cup cashews
1 cup water
1 tbs sweet miso
2 tsp ume paste
2 tbs nutritional yeast
Little bit of onion powder and garlic powder

Blend everything until smooth in a blender and heat up in a saucepan. Throw in some cooked pasta and veggies you like (peas, cooked broccoli, onions, etc.), add salt if necessary, crack some black pepper and serve.

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kitchen door

Posted in life, macrobiotics, philosophy, quotations by jill on September 20, 2010

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“Pay full attention to your work in preparing the meal; attend to every aspect yourself so that it may turn out well. When washing the rice, remove any sand you find. Keep a sharp eye on everything, so as not to waste even a single grain. When you prepare your food, never view the ingredients from some commonly held perspective, nor think about them only with your emotions. Maintain an attitude that tries to build great temples from ordinary greens. Handle even a single leaf in such a way that it manifests the body of Buddha. This is a power which you cannot grasp with your rational mind. It operate freely according to the situation, in the most natural way. Of old it was said, ‘When steaming rice, treat the pot as one’s own head; when rinsing the rice, know that the water is one’s own lifeblood.'”

Dogen Zenji, 12th century

fish fridays

Posted in dessert, macrobiotics by jill on September 18, 2010

Today’s dinner was scrumptious.

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Entree: Brown rice, fish, kale with sunflower seed sauce, tofu, squash/onion/broccoli stirfry, pickles
Soup: Mushroom
Dessert: Cashew cream vanilla cake (divine!)

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midnight snack

Posted in dessert, macrobiotics by jill on September 18, 2010

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Blame it on genetics, or something like that. I have a sweet tooth at night, especially when there are leftover desserts in the fridge.

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fall harvest

Posted in macrobiotics by jill on September 16, 2010

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Oh man, the crisp cinnamon apples and walnuts hit the spot for dessert today. I’ve been sitting in a few of the Level One macrobiotic classes and miss the feeling of being back in school again. Only, it’s a little different. Yin and Yang and Human Origin & Destiny? Yes, please.

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lakeside

Posted in macrobiotics by jill on September 14, 2010

Been very busy in the kitchen, especially with the arrival of new students this week. I’ve been lucky enough to squeeze a few classes in, which I will definitely share more of in some upcoming posts. In the meantime, here are a few more meal shots, including a hijiki salad (with carrots and shiitake) and a rice and bean dish with squash, sweet potato and brussel sprouts.

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I’ve been enjoying the idea of macrobiotic sauces, derived from seeds (the meal above uses sunflower seeds). I drizzled some over my kale that day, but on other days I put some over my grains.

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Becket Beach, a lake nearby that actually has sand.

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My roommates and I have also been borrowing a few books from the library. I’ve been reading The Order of the Universe by George Ohsawa and skimming a few other cookbooks.

The book list as of this week also includes:
Zen and the Fine Art of Cooking, by Jon Sandifer
Aveline Kushi’s Complete Guide To Macrobiotic Cooking, by Aveline Kushi
The Changing Seasons Macrobiotic Cookbook, by Aveline Kushi and Wendy Esko

The Kushi library has a lot of interesting items from the 70s and 80s. Vintage macrobiotic material is readily available, as we are able to borrow items such as cassette and VHS tapes. The other day, my roommate and I unsuccessfully borrowed a rather dull video on the Lundberg Farms and growing rice, filmed in the 80s. Perhaps we will luck out tomorrow with another video, with young Ohsawa talking about the benefits of legumes.

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typical day in the kushi kitchen

Posted in macrobiotics by jill on September 8, 2010

Welcome to Kushi Kitchen! Here’s a day in the life in making today’s lunch. As usual, I started off with assisting with the preparation of veggies, spent an hour and change scrubbing the floor…

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helping to make a pressed salad of thinly-sliced apples and scallions….

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(Just add a rock on the top of the bowl and let it sit!)

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watching the Shaun make tempura (half whole wheat and regular flour or cornmeal for those who cannot stomach the former)…

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observing how to make dashi (today we used leftover veggies and kombu)…

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helping wheelbarrow out the compost…

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(check out our cute compost pile!)

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helping to put the spread on the table….

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ringing the lunch bell…

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That’s it for today. Bye for now!

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anatomy of a dessert

Posted in macrobiotics by jill on September 8, 2010

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While on kitchen duty, I caught Katherine preparing dessert for a later meal. This macrobiotic dessert calls for kanten, which is dished into layers. The first layer is made of pears, the second, a kanten/apple juice combo spiced with vanilla, cinnamon and ginger. The third layer is topped with pears and garnished with dried apricots.

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Preparing the pears.

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Dishing out the second layer.

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Combining apple juice and kanten.

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Voila.

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chillout

Posted in macrobiotics by jill on September 8, 2010

Busier day today. Here’s a photo recap.

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Breakfast – Rice and amaranth mix with pumpkin seeds and miso.

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Lunch – Fish and tofu stirfry with brown rice and pressed salad. Apples for dessert.

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night-tour journey

Posted in macrobiotics by jill on September 7, 2010

I’ve been meaning to make an intro kitchen post, since this is where I spend most of my working hours. Here’s an informal night tour. If I have time between washing kale, I may sneak a few shots of the kitchen in action. In the meantime, here it is.

Welcome, welcome. Here’s the dining hall.

The kitchen!

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Buckets for composting. We have a little community garden outside.

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Macrobiotic drink staples. Kukicha and barley tea. I’ve successfully kicked a coffee habit.

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