Vegan Cashew Sauce Recipe

I had the idea to convert our spare guest room, where I work, into a legitimate office. It’s been a long time coming and now I’m finally getting around to doing it. In the room is a bookcase. I was sitting at my desk the other day and swiveled my chair around. I looked at the bookcase and realized I couldn’t remember the last time I pulled a book off the shelf. I notice how many cookbooks I have – 20 maybe more!

Moosewood Cookbook Vegan Cashew Sauce

Googling recipes online is our go-to these days. I’ve forgotten all about the enjoyment of flipping through the pages of an old book, looking for recipe inspiration.

I took three cookbooks off the shelf and sat down with coffee. It felt really good. One of them was the Moosewood Cookbook, 40th Anniversary Edition written and illustrated by Mollie Katzen. Someone gave this to me as a Christmas gift. I think it was my sister-in-law Clare. The book is a collection of cuisine from the Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, New York, established in 1970. The recipes originate from the homes, families, and creative people who’ve worked in the kitchen there, throughout the years – most not professionally trained chefs. Therefore, the book is a compilation of many ethnic foods. It’s a strong focus on vegetarian meals evolved from the concept of using locally grown vegetables. At the time, this way of thinking was very new to the cultural vocabulary.

The handwritten text and illustrations are beautifully inviting. In the ’70s the group of friends who started the restaurant, jotted down their recipes in a binder filled with loose-leaf paper, to keep stock of their menus. The first edition of the book was photocopies of these notes and Katzen’s Illustrations. 800 copies of the spiral-bound booklet sold out in one week. This was the inception of the cookbook which has not been out of print since the 1st edition.

Moosewood Cookbook Vegan Cashew Sauce 2

I came across a vegan cashew sauce recipe that looked tasty. Whenever I had great vegan food out at a restaurant, I’ve always wondered how they make foods creamy without butter or milk. Most often – I read in the book – it’s by using cashews.  This is the recipe I wanted to try!

2 cups toasted cashews
Vegetable oil
1 1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
1 Tbs. soy sauce
1 Tbs. honey
2 Tbsp. pulse 1 Tsp. cider vinegar
Cayenne and salt to taste

Directions: Toast the cashews in the oven at 400 for 20 min. or until goldenCombine all ingredients above in a food processor until smooth.

If you’re looking for a last-minute, unique recipe for all to enjoy this is fast, simple, creamy, and delicious.

Moosewood Cookbook Vegan Cashew Sauce 1

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Self-care is a Scam

While I loathe the term “self-care” I’ve been attempting – during this off-season – to hit the reset button. For once, I’m realizing I need to focus on my mental and physical health. I’ve been taking baths almost every night. Sometimes I log off and leave my phone out of reach. This is proving to be a challenge. More times than not, I set up the laptop on the toilet seat cover and watch nature documentaries while floating in the warm bathwater. There was a great YouTube video on ant colonies I recently watched.

This is TMI, so I’ll get back to the point…

In an effort to enhance my bathing experience, I bought essential oils, bubble bath soaps, and eucalyptus-infused sea salt. When I looked at the total in my Amazon cart though, it made me think –  the “self-care” trend is a real scam. Companies have successfully developed a commerce trap around our health and well-being. These “self-care” products are expensive and the companies that are marketing them to us are essentially saying,  “If you want to care and love yourself first (ugh) buy all of these products and you will feel better.”

I became irritated again, in the bath the other night pondering the scam. But then, like a bubble in the water, a great idea popped into my head – A DIY bathing experience with fresh herbs, fruits, flowers, and salts. Most of these items I already have around the house. I gave it a try two nights later and it was a beautiful, aromatic success.

diy fresh fruit bath 1

Here are the ingredients for the perfect, low-cost relaxation bath.


2 parts Epsom salt or kosher salt, 1 part baking soda
1 sliced orange
1 sliced lemon
Fresh or dried flower heads

Fresh Herbs (use your preferred combination):

Mint or Peppermint
Juniper Berries (found everywhere in Rockaway!)

Directions: Fill the bathtub with hot water. Add in your custom ingredients from the above list. Log off. Relax.

Herbs have different medicinal attributes. Choose ones that reflect your needs. Here’s a short guide:

Basil has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that help with a wide range of skin problems including acne. Use basil for a stimulating bath with a “wake up” aroma.

Chamomile has healing properties. Use this for a soothing and calming effect. This herb is great for a nighttime bath and restful sleep. Chamomile also provides relief from insect bites.

Eucalyptus acts as an antiseptic, and decongestant. If you’re feeling unwell, use this herb to clear sinuses. The aroma is refreshing.

Rosemary stimulates blood circulation and is great for oily skin. The scent is piney, perfect for this time of year. Rosemary in baths helps soothe sore muscles and joints.

Sage is rich in antioxidants, Sage cleanses, stimulates circulation, helps with closing pores, and restores skin elasticity.

Lavender is said to be helpful in treating anxiety, sleep problems, and restlessness. The delicate smell is calming.

diy fresh fruit bath

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Doctor It Up With Pepper

I tried to order Xing Xing the other night. It’s my go-to Chinese place on the peninsula but apparently they’re closed on Mondays. So, I ordered from another place. I’m not going to disclose which restaurant because the food was dreadful. In an effort to salvage my dinner, I added salt and pepper to my veggie chow mein. The pepper cap was loose and I doused it by mistake. It wasn’t looking good, but the fridge was empty so I took a few bites. To my surprise, the egregious amount of pepper did the trick.

Use plenty of pepper for punch (1)

This made me think … pepper is so unrated. Because using “salt and pepper” is habitual, we overlook it’s potential. I also feel we’re not using enough pepper. My suggestion, use more, not less. Lots of pepper gives a nice rich punch. Another pepper tip – which admittedly I don’t always follow – is to use fresh ground pepper. The difference is enormous.

These days, it’s trendy to cook with cumin, curry, sumac, cayenne and other exotic flavorings and that’s all good, but let’s not forget the basics.

Black pepper (piper nigrum) is so common but how much do we really know about the plant? It’s a woody, climbing perennial vine that flowers. It needs to be trellised. Pepper will spread on its own when trailing vines touch the soil. It can also be propagated from cuttings. The plant prefers average soil moisture, humidity and full sun. It’s a warm weather crop thriving in 70-90 degree temperatures. Black pepper can be grown here in New York but as a perennial, it would need a greenhouse environment during the cold winter months. Growing this would be a fun challenge. I may give it a try in the spring, planting it in a large container so I can adjust its conditions in the fall/winter.

Peppercorn is a small stone fruit. The berry is harvested and most often sundried for use as the spice we know and see in the supermarket. White, green, black and red are all from the same plant. The difference being they’re harvest times, which changes the pungency and favor. Red is most expensive to buy, as it needs to stay on the vine the longest. Interestingly, I learned pink peppercorn is from a different plant altogether –  baies rose.

Use plenty of pepper for punch (1)

Black pepper originates from India and has been used as a spice and medicinally since ancient civilization. It is the most widely traded spice in the world today. Black pepper is mainly produced in India, Vietnam, Brazil and Indonesia. Surprisingly, the United States is the largest consumer of pepper, using 18% of the 20% of its world trade. Maybe we’re using more pepper than we think?

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Spicy Roasted Cauliflower Soup With Cumin


Fall brings soup to our table. Each week during this season and through the winter, I experiment with different types of soup. Making a large batch for the week goes a long way, especially if you have a busy work week. And worst case, you freeze it for another time. I’m essentially vegetarian these days, so  soup packed with vegetables is a fast n’ easy delicious meal for me. One pot means less mess too.

And so, this marks my first soup of the season. I wanted a recipe with “heat” to warm me up. I was also looking for something healthy and low fat. I did a little online search and found a charred cauliflower recipe from It looked like a great starting point. As per usual, I ended up adapting it. I’m of the mind “make it your own.” Following recipes note for note is boring for me!

Normally when food has a lack of flavor you think… “Well, that’s not good”. But I see bland foods like cauliflower as a blank canvas. They can be flavored in so many ways which makes this vegetable and others like it versatile.

If you like Indian food, you want to give this spicy soup recipe a try. I was very pleased with the outcome. The flavor is rich with warm tastes of cumin and curry. The cauliflower acts as a thick base, which along with the coconut milk, makes for a satisfying and hearty soup. Yet it’s a deceivingly healthy meal. Blending is key for the cream texture. I suggest not skipping that step. Cheers to soup season!


1 medium head of cauliflower cut into florets
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon curry powder (or more to taste)
1 tablespoon cumin powder (or more to taste)
1 tablespoon hot pepper flakes
1/4 cup sunflower or grapeseed oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 medium onion, diced (1 cup)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 bay leaf
2 cups water
13.5 oz can of coconut milk


Step 1: Preheat the oven to 375. On a large baking sheet, toss the cauliflower with the cumin seeds, curry powder and about 3 tablespoons of oil. Season with salt and pepper and roast for 25 minutes, turning once until the cauliflower is crispy and golden. Set the tray aside, do not wash.

Step 2: In a medium pot, heat the remaining oil. Add the diced onion and cook over a medium heat, stirring occasionally until translucent – about 5 minutes. Add the roasted cauliflower, butter, bay leaf. Pour some water into the baking pan to get the seasoning loose from the tray. Add the seasoned water into the pot. Add the remainder of water. Bring to a simmer. Cook over moderate heat until the liquid is reduced and the cauliflower is soft – about 15 minutes. Take out the bay leaf and discard.

Step 3: In a blender or food processor, puree the soup in batches until smooth. Return the soup to the pot and stir in the coconut milk. Rewarm over a medium heat. Add more water for a thinner consistency if desired. Season the soup with more curry, cummin, salt and pepper. Add in the hot pepper for heat! Serve hot.

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