The first cookbook I ever purchased was Laurel's Kitchen, I was sixteen years old at the time. Though I didn't really know how to cook back then, I very much wanted to. To create similar aromas in my own home that I so enjoyed while browsing the aisles of local natural food stores - what a delight that would be.
It took a few years for me to gain skill and confidence in the kitchen, but the interest was there all along.
At twenty years old I worked on an herb farm, sometimes in the kitchen where we prepared lunch for 100 guests each day, sometimes in the greenhouse or gift barn. One day, a co-worker made the crew chai tea on the wood stove of the farm kitchen. It was my first introduction to chai and the intoxicating aroma of spices within.
Milk and crushed spices simmered slowly, no water was used. Black tea steeped for several minutes toward the end, we sweetened the brew with honey. I was transported, and still recall the feeling twenty years later.
It really is all about the cardamom, yes?
Ever since that day on the farm, I've held chai making and drinking as one of the most healing and soothing experiences to be found. Whenever I have the chance to make something with hints of the lovely chai experience, I'm intrigued. (Chai Rice Pudding, anyone?)
Recently I pulled Laurel's Kitchen from the shelf and began thumbing through, reminiscing about the simpler days of whole food eating. Remember those days?
The pages contain little to no mention of soaking, sprouting, avoiding, etc. There is a brief and interesting couple of paragraphs about phytic acid and oxalic acid - acknowledging the 'problem' with both in one breath, and putting the varied whole- foods eater at ease in the next breath.
Simpler times, for sure. Goodness those were the days.
Stumbling upon a recipe that featured cardamom, I just had to get busy in the kitchen. A perfectly quick Sunday afternoon snack. As these things go, I reworked the recipe a bit (I'm a soaker now) and thought it yummy enough to share with you.
Cashew Cardamom Balls
Adapted from Laurel's Kitchen
Makes about a dozen one inch balls.
- 1 cup cashews, soaked overnight and drained
- cardamom seeds from 3 pods - crushed in mortar and pestle (or 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon powdered)
- 1 cup dates, chopped
- finely grated zest of one orange
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup dried coconut (optional - powder coconut in blender)
1. Over medium-low heat, carefully toast cashews in a dry pan. Stir them often to avoid burning - you're looking to just dry them out a bit form the overnight soaking.
2. Add cashews, chopped dated, orange zest, crushed cardamom seeds, and vanilla to a food processor. Process until everything is minced very fine.Test a small amount to see if it will press together into a ball. If not quite there, process a little longer. Stop to scrape down the sides once or twice. In my processor this takes about 1 1/2 minutes.
3. Place coconut on a plate. Form one inch balls of the date/nut mixture with clean hands and roll into the coconut, pressing to coat all sides. Enjoy!
Print Recipe - Download Cashew Cardamom Balls
Now I must run to enjoy this blustery autumn day. Wishing the same for you!