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snow lakeMade the most of my three day weekend and headed out to Snow Lake friday to enjoy the crisp Autumn day.

The huckleberries and vine maples were a vibrant red against the hillside. If you’re in the area and haven’t done this hike, you should. Your heart likes the 1300 foot elevation gain, and its worth it to get over the hill and down the other side to sit by the lake and take it all in.

The hike only took us 4 hours round trip, including about a 30 minute rest for lunch, but once you reach the lake you feel so much farther from the insanity of the city. I am very much an urban girl, but I do like  to abscond into the wilderness from time to time.

A and I strolled through the farmers market after brunch on Sunday to find the tables piled high with the abundance of fall. The towers of peppers, winter squash, kale and chard were inspiration for meals to come. I’ve been especially aching for some dark leafy greens – sometimes salad greens just don’t cut it. Luckily, I stumbled upon this delicious recipe on Whitney’s blog inspired by Bon Appetit. I had picked up some quinoa spaghetti and was anxious to try it. I quickly made a note of the things I needed to pick up on my way home: lemon, kale, garlic and parmesan. How delightfully simple. Added bonus: I ran into my siiiiiiister in line at the grocery store! Its so fun living in the same neighborhood as your siblings! Post workout, we invited our friend L to stay for dinner, and the three of us chatted while I threw this together. I thought this was excellent (A and L liked it too!) and only found myself wishing there had been more delicious greens to balance out the pasta. Next time, I would double the kale.

  • 1 medium onion, diced (I had a half a large onion in the fridge, and used that instead)
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 pound spaghetti (quinoa spaghetti for gluten free!)
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped (more if  you fancy. I just noticed the bon appetit recipe calls for 8 – but I was making this on the fly)
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 cup parmesan
  • 1 bunch kale (washed, drained, stems and ribs removed, cut crosswise)

In a large pot. Bring water to a boil. Add pasta. In a large skillet, saute onion until translucent. Add garlic, cook over low for 2 minutes. Add kale, cover and stir occasionally. I like my kale a little on the firm side, so I only allowed it to cook for about 7 minutes and then removed it from the heat. Check on pasta. This was my first time cooking with quinoa pasta, so I spent quite a bit of time testing it. When pasta is finally done, drain and return to pan with a little olive oil. Add kale and parmesan and toss well. Finish with salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon. Enjoy!

Picture 15Vegan? Gluten free? This book will change your life. If your name happens to be Erin, as mine is, you will be totally stoked because this vegan and gluten free baking genius is also named Erin. I feel like its a good baker omen or something.

I first tested out the book over at my parents house a couple of months ago. My mother and I occasionally like to pull a quick vegan switch on my dad to see if he notices. Its an interesting experiment – try it out on a loved one sometime. We made him the carrot cake cupcakes which are ammmmmmazing. He loved them of course – thinking they were filled with eggs, butter and delicious gluten. I’ve been trying trying to cut out wheat and dairy for allergen reasons for awhile now, and flour substitutes have been tough, often giving a gritty residue to textures that have no business being gritty. Babycakes had me at the first bite.

I promptly *borrowed* the book from my mother so I might try out the vegan, gluten free cornbread. Last fall I tried my own substitutions on a favorite cornbread recipe and failed miserably – producing a rubbery, polenta-like substance. There was nothing bread-like about it. Since I’ve declared this month Wheat Free October, I tested out the Babycakes cornbread this weekend. It was so delicious, I burnt my mouth sneaking a slice (or three) before it had cooled. This cornbread has a lovely crumb people! My only qualm is that I find it a little sweet — so I may try to experiment a little to see what sort of savory cornbread I end up with!