This story begins with Chef Russell James’ famous Mediterranean AlmondBread. Yup…this is how the Divas were reunited. It was on the Raw Food Talk forum about a year ago that Carmella and I met. It just so happened that we each decided to make Russell’s bread at the same time and began chatting about it, only to discover that we had much more in common than our passion for creating raw food.
Soon we were emailing each other about our newest kitchen creations, and sharing ideas. I was amazed by this woman’s talent – she doesn’t have any culinary training and yet is a master gourmet raw chef! I have been thrilled to read and try recipes from her well known blog, The Sunny Raw Kitchen and her popular forum, Raw Freedom Community, which is about much more than raw food. It is the perfect place for support, sharing, knowledge, friendship, and the best raw food recipes around!
Carmi (the nickname I gave her) and I talked many times about spending time in the kitchen together “one day”, and creating a series of recipe books. Well, our dream came true recently when I made a completely spontaneous decision to fly out West to spend 9 days with Carmi and Don. Woo hoo!!! I think she fell off the chair when I told her, as neither of us were expecting a visit so soon!
It was really easy for each of us to start compiling “The List” of things we wanted to make during my visit. We also decided that we would work on new recipes to create a joint recipe book, and test some of the creations that will be in my dessert book. I can’t even describe the excitement I had during the week leading up to the trip!!!! Carmi and I chatted daily, dreaming up all the things we could make - my brain started going a million miles a minute, and I hardly slept!
…And the journey began…
The most interesting thing happened during my travel. I got delayed in Calgary because the weather was to o poor to fly into Castlegar, where Carmi and Don would pick me up. Oh dear! Another day of waiting! But, as everything is part of a divine plan, it was meant to be and it worked out for me to stay with Don’s sister, Sandy. The freaky part is that Sandy and I have chatted though email because we were going to meet up in Australia earlier this year when we were both there! So, here we got to have an “unplanned” visit, full of talking/eating raw food.
Sandy and her husband were extremely hospitable to me and I thoroughly enjoyed my visit with them – I feel like Sandy and I are old friends. She has a lovely energy and is full of life!
I had a blast in their kitchen preparing dinner for the three of us, and even got to test one of my blueberry desserts on them. I think it was a thumbs up!
The following day, all was a Go for travel, yay! I was greeted with the most awesome welcome sign at the airport. Finally, I was “in human form” with Carmi and Don!!!! OMG OMG OMG! It was like a dream! A bit of doubt crept into my mind as I was nearing my destination, but as soon as I was standing there, talking with these two wonderful people, I knew this visit was RIGHT.
The guys on RFC wanted to make sure that Carmi put maple leaves (instead of flowers, haha) in my hair upon arrival...so that's what I got :)
Ah, notice those beautiful mountains in the background?
Thinking back now, my visit feels surreal. And I can’t even remember what exactly we did each day because they’ve all sort of melded together in my mind. What I do remember is that on my first day, I was served the most delicious dinner! Soup, salad, and Carmi’s famous lasagna (in her book), which is absolutely to LIVE for!!! For dessert: her chocolate strawberry shortcake! Heaven in my mouth I tell ya! Thick chocolate cake layered with fresh strawberries and the lightest whipped cream I’ve ever had! She made this before with bananas, which I haven't tried but imagine to be just as amazing as with the berries.
I’m pretty sure that after that, we started planning what we would make the following day! Real keeners we both are!
Our days together started off with a big glass of fruit fruit/veg juice made by Don, the Juiceman! Mmmm!.Morning exercises included The Tibetan Rites that Carmi taught me, yoga, and sometimes a morning walk.
Then it was on to food prep…for the rest of the day! Yipppeeee!!!! I was excited to be working alongside my kitchen diva sister! I got along with Carmi like a house on fire, the way we do in virtual life! Even Don commented something along the lines of “you girls work extremely well in the kitchen together”. I guess we had just floated along so well together that I never even stopped to think about it until he made the comment. We had a blast, literally dancing around the kitchen like crazy people, while Don thought we had gone insane, LOL. Yay, someone as silly as me!
Lunch consisted of Juiceman’s (Don’s) green smoothie! Pure goodness to fuel us through all that play!
Like I said, I don’t remember exactly when we made what, but here are some of the scrumptious goodies that we pumped outta the kitchen that week:
-Pockets : Greek, Asian, and Italian - Carmi's idea and an ingenious one as far as I'm concerned! These are delicious! Kinda like pizza pockets with a soft crust on the outside, full of different flavoured goodies on the inside.
- Crab cakes with tartar sauce - By Cherie Soria (printed in Purely Delicious Magazine). These are wonderful! I haven't eaten many crab cakes in my day, but I think these are close to the "real" thing.
- Cheesey ravioli in rose sauce - another one of Carmi's ideas. Something she remembered from her cooked food days and wanted to re-create. It worked out really great and was yummmers!!!
- Samosas with curry sauce and Mushroom Byriani - Carmi made this for dinner one night, and it was amaaaazing! I could eat that curry sauce as a pudding!
- Snow drop’s sesame chicken and marinated veggies - Snow Drop from RFC came up with this recipe and I encourage anyone who is reading this to make it ASAP! Yes, even if you never liked chicken, like me. You could even just enjoy the sauce on veggies, or as salad dressing.
- Cream of Mushroom Soup - Another Diva creation. We played around and came up with this wonderful creamy soup.
-Veggie/Pesto/Cheese Pizza - We made this for the raw potluck and thought we might have leftovers but no such luck. It was devoured!
- Spinach Quiche - another one of our new creations.
Oh so creamy! Mmmm! I loved it, and Carmi has since worked on another variation. Woo hoo!
- Noodles with Diva balls in mushroom sauce - new creation of ours. Soft linguine noodles bathed in mushroom sauce, topped with diva nut and veggie balls!
- Butternut Spice Muffins - These were all Carmi's doing. Perfect for this time of year, but I'd gladly eat them any time!
- Tropical Smoothie - We made this smoothie one day for lunch. It was yumalicious! Fresh pineapple, persimmon, banana, orange, and pomegranate.
- Strawberry Lime Cake - Of all the desserts I've created, this is my favourite. I have made it so many times and was really happy to make it for Carmi and Don.
- Chocolate Cinnamon Ice Cream - I had been wanting to do something with chocolate and cinnamon, so this is what the Divas came up with! Even with the cold weather we enjoyed it!
- Chocolate Orange Cake - My vanilla Cake layered with chocolate creme and orange creme, topped with juicy fresh orange!
- Oatmeal Raisin Cookies - This is my favourite cookie recipe...soft and chewy, just the way I loved them as a kid!
- Coconut Lime Cookies -
Carmi and My experiment which turned out better than we expected.
- Blueberry Cheesecake - Blueberries and chocolate - who knew they go together so well?!
This recipe was inspired by the millions of wild blueberries I pick in the summer.
-Maca and Goji Cake - Chocolate maca cake layered with goji berry cream, and bananas, topped with coconut cream and pomegranate seeds.
Some of the things we made, not pictured here:
- Mint Ice Cream
- Chocolate Mint Squares
- Fennel and Tomato Tarte
- Diva burgers
- Maca Cookies
-The Best Coffee Ever
- Apricot Macadamia Cookies
- Granola Bars
- Gingerbread Cookies
I’d definitely say we accomplished a lot! Every night was a feast! It always started with a delicious soup, then mixed greens salad topped with Carmi’s home grown sprouts and yummy dressing, main course of one of delights of the day, and finally, dessert.
(Here are the kitchen divas at work...actually at PLAY, because we love it so much)
My time spent with Carmella and Don is a really special memory. They welcomed me into their home with open arms and treated me like a member of their family.
Carmi is a beautiful person inside and out, with such a big loving heart. I wish she lived closer and we could hang out together all the time – but I know we will meet again. I have never met anyone as passionate as me, about creating raw food!!! Better yet – I’d say that Carmella has the passion and ability to work magic with savory food, the same way my passion runs with desserts. What a team!
As for Don, I had never talked to him before, so didn’t know what to expect. What a character he is! I had a great time listening to all his crazy stories from the past, and gained knowledge from his life experiences. The way I see it, Don has figured out a lot of the keys to life, as a result of his dedication to his inner work. Some of his ideas resonated with my own way of thinking, and some thoughts really challenged me, creating questions and inner discussion. Yay! This is really what I am searching for. Inner growth for freedom in my life. He even pointed out to me “You didn’t just come here to make food.” It’s true.
Don't they live in the most beautiful spot?! I'd love to go back in the summer when its a bit more comfortable to be outside :D
I must also say a huge thank you to the people on RFC who kindly contributed to our Diva adventures in the kitchen. We thought about you a lot and hope you enjoy your cookies!
Part 2 about our trip to RAWfreshing Cuisine will come in my next post. Check back soon!