Three Cheers for Winter: Raw, Raw, Raw!

So: I’m going to make an effort to try to attempt to give it my best shot and strive to endeavor to maybe have a crack at liking winter a little more.  I mean, I can’t complain about it right through until April, can I? (okay, don’t answer that).  Well, with inspiration from Alicia’s “Happy Thoughts” at the conclusion of each of her blog posts, I decided earlier today to start the -23C (-10 F) day with three positives of my own.  Three reasons to smile first thing in the moring?  Well, that’s gotta melt away all that snow and ice anti-winter sentiment, right? And each one of these items, I daresay, is worth a cheer.

#1: Raw Raw for Our Winner!

I was delighted with the positive response to my most recent giveaway and am so glad that you all were as impressed with the company as I was.  And as I mentioned in the review, the oils are great for use in raw dishes. Raw raw!

Who won the box of four types of Olivado oils?  It was. . .

Number 87, reader Cathy!  Cathy wrote:

“I am impressed that they are involved in Fair Trade. And Their recipes look great!”

Congrats, Cathy!! Please email me at dietdessertdogsATgmailDOT com asap with your mailing address so I can contact the company to send you your prize!  :D
[And speaking of giveaways, I just found out that Kelly over at The Spunky Coconut is giving away a copy of my ebook, Desserts without Compromise!  Head on over to Kelly's blog to read her review and enter!]

#2: Raw Raw for Cooking Classes!

This past weekend, my friend PR Queen and I attended a Raw (un)Cooking Class at the Making Love in the Kitchen Academy. . . yep, with none other than holistic nutritionist Meghan Telpner

[Meghan (on the right) and me.  Apologies for the blurry pic. . . darned pocket camera!]

It was great to meet Meghan and observe her über-enthusiastic and friendly demeanor in person.  With my recent resolve to continue eating healthfully and introduce in a more “clean” diet over the next few months, I had already decided to consume more raw foods.  And, as Meghan commented in her class, raw dishes are the perfect antidote to our natural inclinations during the chilly season, when we are more likely to overdo cooked and hot foods.  I knew I’d find some great inspiration for new raw recipes at the class–and I did! (Oh, and we got to spend 2-1/2 hours with like-minded people in Meghan’s cool loft, too). ;)

Here’s the raw “cous cous” salad, one of the many dishes that we  scarfed down  gobbled up inhaled  enjoyed while there:

Raw Raw for Meghan’s cooking classes! :)

#3: Raw Raw for–Fennel!

[Raw fennel slaw with carrot, beets, ginger and black sesame seeds.]

It’s probably an understatement to say that my sisters and I “don’t like” fennel. 

The CFO, for instance, was once out to dinner with some friends when she ordered a chicken and pasta dish.  Here’s how the situation played out:

CFO:  I’d like to order this chicken and asparagus dish, but I need to be sure it doesn’t contain fennel.

SERVER: No, Miss, absolutely not.  No fennel.

CFO:  Okay, then, I’ll have this.

The dish arrives. The CFO takes one bite and her face screws up like a beach ball being turned inside-out. 

CFO:  Ugh!  Ptew!  Bleh!  This dish has fennel in it!!

FRIEND #1: No, it doesn’t.  I’m eating the same thing.  There’s no fennel in it.

CFO: I’m telling you, there is fennel in this dish.

FRIEND #2: Here, let me taste it.  (slurp, chomp).  Nope, no fennel.

CFO:  It has fennel!

FRIEND #3: Let me try.  (chew, chew, swallow).  There’s no fennel in that, CFO!  You must be imagining.

The others continue to eat their respective dinners, but the CFO won’t touch her pasta. The server walks by.

CFO:  Excuse me, server, but could you tell me if there’s any fennel in this dish?

SERVER: No, that dish is made with asparagus and peas.  No fennel.

CFO: Are you absolutely, one hundred percent sure? No fennel? No fennel AT ALL?

SERVER [looking a little less confident now]: Well, let me go ask the chef. [he trots off].

The server returns. 

SERVER: I asked the sous-chef and he said there’s no fennel added to this dish.  We use a pre-mixed spice mix, and we are sure there’s no fennel in that.  Besides, we only inclue about 1/4 teaspoon of the spice mix in the entire pasta sauce, which serves 50 people. . . .

CFO: Would you mind checking if there’s fennel in the spice mix, please?

SERVER [rolls his eyes a little too obviously]: Well, Miss, that would require pulling down the original box of spice mix, which is in our pantry behind five other boxes of rice and other supplies. . .

CFO stares at him without saying anything.

SERVER: Fine.  I will be right back. [trots off]

The server returns.

SERVER: Well, Miss, I am sorry to tell you that yes, there is fennel in that spice mix.

Vindication!  Luckily, the CFO isn’t allergic to fennel (or the conversation would have ended much earlier–like, when she keeled over); she just hates it. Needless to say, she returned the pasta. With a nose like that, I don’t know why she never went into the perfume business.

While I might not be as sensitive to its presence in spices, I am also not exactly a fan of the licorice flavor of cooked or dried fennel (which is odd, since I used to love black licorice–though in that case, I suspect, it had more to do with the exhorbitant amounts of sugar in the candy). When I read about Alysa’s “Hated Veggie Challenge,” I knew immediately that for me, the reviled veg in question would have to be the dreaded fennel bulb.

I’ve often been told that the raw form offers up a milder, sweeter flavor and a lovely crunch that can convert even the staunchest fennel-phobe.  And so, I went and bought myself some fennel and concocted a slaw.

I whipped up a creamy dressing that I thought would work with an anise-like flavor.  I paired it with grated beet and carrot for some sweetness and familiarity.  I sprinkled it with black sesame seeds for visual appeal.  And then–I took a tentative forkful.

And I loved it!  Whoo hoo!  Yay! Yippee! The fennel famine has finally ended! 

Perhaps my taste buds have matured since my 30s; perhaps they’ve merely dulled. Perhaps the beets along with the Asian-inspired creamy dressing concealed the major licorice flavor and I am just not recognizing it. For whatever reason, I found the slaw to be a very tasty, satisfying side dish that I would definitely make again.  Creamy, sweet and a bit salty from the miso, the ingredients here seemed to work harmoniously for a winning collaboration of tastes and textures.  Raw Raw for raw fennel!

Last Year at this Time: Nori Rolls with “Salmon” Filling and Spicy Ginger Miso Paste

Two Years Ago: The Biscuit and the Scramble (to Woo Your Rake) (biscuit is not GF; ACD Phase III and beyond)

Three Years Ago: Raw Almond-Veggie Pâté

© Diet, Dessert and Dogs

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Comments

  1. I love this post. I too rely on raw foods to get me through cravings (my worse two: Daiya and Grapeseed Vegenaise – I succumbed to the later last week) and they really make a difference :)

  2. PS and you are so lucky you got to meet Meghan – I love her whole outlook/blog/philosophy :)

  3. I’d say the CFO and I have something in common. That’s all I’ll say. The carrot, beet and … salad does look beautiful, though. :D

  4. I love fennel, so glad you turned around! Raw food class looks great!!

  5. The story with CFO is hilarious.. it is almost like me and mocha. I really don’t like that coffee taste. :P

    I hate the licorice taste, too, but you have opened my eyes to raw fennel. I had it once in a quinoa and kale soup, and didn’t mind it.. but this Asian salad looks great. I have forgotten how much I love miso. :)

  6. wow that is some story about the CFO – wonder how she would like the salad??? I too have an aversion to fennel – well I still find raw fennel a bit much but can appreciate it in a stew. I should try your salad too and see how I find it.

    I admire your eating raw foods – I found two excellent raw recipes today and thought it really is not a hot enough summer to want to keep the oven off!

    • I suspect she wouldn’t even be willing to try the salad. Funny that I disliked it cooked–maybe things have changed in that area, too. :)

  7. The way the CFO is with fennel? That’s how I am with orange. This “sixth spice sense” has ruined so many flavoured chocolates for me… luckily, I adore fennel, so this is going to be bookmarked for when it’s winter in Australia again!

    • I’ve never met anyone who hates orange–wow! And just goes to show how much they hide it in different foods (or how it is used to enhance flavors for other palates!). :)

  8. Love this post! You and I both took cooking classes this weekend! And you and I are both trying to incorporate more raw into our diets! We can do it! I am definitely going to make your fennel salad — it looks divine!

    • I have to hop over to your blog and read about your cooking classes (I’m assuming you mentioned them–?). More raw is fabulous–I did do it for 2 months a few winters ago–but for me, a lot of work. Incorporating more raw without eliminating cooked seems to work for me. But I’m loving reading about your raw adventures! :)

  9. I loved the story. I am that way about coffee. Don’t give me anything mocha. I don’t know how many times someone has said, oh, there is hardly any mocha taste! They LIE!

    • Ha, ha! I guess they can get away with it. . . with OTHER people! ;) I’ve been told that restaurants often lie about whether something contains MSG or not–so upsetting!

  10. Whoa–you are much braver than me, lol. I am not a fan of fennel either, and I can’t imagine eating it raw! I can tolerate it cooked (but it is definitely not my favorite), but raw? Eeek! Super licoricey (and I don’t like licorice) and…I don’t know what. BUT, it has been years since I have tried it…maybe I too need to give it another chance? We’ll see… :-)

    Courtney

    • Funny, I found the flavor less prominent when raw. I think it’s the same with kale, too. I surprised myself with this one! Maybe you will, too. :)

  11. - 23°C? Yikes. Okay, that IS a horrible winter! I don’t understand people who hate fennel. Why? (I still had to laugh about your story). I love it!

    • Our weather has been pretty bizarre this winter. . . the next day it was plus 4 and RAINING. Today, lots of ice everywhere as the rain froze overnight. Fun! ;) Having been on the “hating” side of fennel, I do understand. . . but now we’ve made up. ;)

  12. thanks for the comment on my blog…I love your blog! I have used several of your recipes already…planning in advance is new…we shall see how long it lasts

  13. Hmmm, I love roasted fennel, but not a huge fan of it raw. I tend to want every vegetable roasted these times of the year… I’ll have to make more of an effort to keep some things raw ;)

  14. wow, those food pics are incredibly vivid!
    I happen to adore fennel…all forms.

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