Most often, when there is snow forecast in Asheville, it's more bluster than actual snow. We'll get a dusting while the mountains around us get the predicted storm. That relative infrequency makes the idea of a storm kind of fun, for me, in a very nostalgic "I'm from Vermont, I want to see some snow!" kind of way. So we got the forecast, and this time my excitement was tinged with a bit of anxiety as I have travel and deadline schedules that require me to fire the big kiln on Monday, which requires that I get all my bisque fires done by today. The recent constant moisture in the air has made drying pots a near Olympic sport, and looking at the weather maps, I could see that we would indeed get some snow - yay! I managed to get the last bisque loaded and programmed to fire while the snow began, and an intrepid studio mate who lives slogging distance to the studio made her way in to make sure the kilns fired out safely.
So I sit here now watching it snow again, as it has more or less for the past 12 hours. It's a very relaxing, calming thing to be able to look out the window and watch the flakes float down and make a deeper and deeper cover on the neighborhood. Dog is very happy, cat isn't interested in dashing out the door today, and as there's no way for me to safely get to the studio, I'm choosing to take the unintended day off and worry about how I'll get all the pots glazed and the kiln loaded on Sunday. Too much beauty and quiet to disrupt it with worry!
Today's comfort yumminess began with a little dabbling with cashew-butter based sauces. For New Year's brunch, it was a Hollandaise for a Crabcake Benedict, which was great and I immediately started thinking about how to tweak it for a cheesy sauce for a day just like today:
Cashew Cheese & Mac
Serves 4, or 2 very hungry people, or 1 snow-bound potter with plenty for leftovers!
2 cups raw cashews
2 Tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon roasted garlic (*could use 1/4 tsp. garlic powder)
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
2 good dashes cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard (*could use wet dijon mustard)
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 1/2 cups elbow noodles (regular, wheat, gluten free - your choice)
two handfuls chopped kale
1 cup frozen sweet peas
1 large stem broccoli, cut into small pieces
Put a large pot of salted water to boil - it will hold the noodles and all the veg, so bigger than you might normally use. When it boils, add the broccoli stems, kale and frozen peas, and let it come back to a boil. When it boils again, add the noodles and cook to package directions, adding the broccoli crowns in the last minute or two.
While that's working, put the raw cashews in a food processor and process for about 2 minutes - you may have to pulse it at times. It will go from chopping/grinding the cashews to a rolling ball and ultimately to a paste/butter. After it has reached the last stage, add all the other ingredients but the water. Close the processor and start the machine, slowly pouring the water in until you reach your desired thickness (likely a cup, but could be a bit less or a bit more). Mix thoroughly and set aside.
When the noodles have reached that perfect 'al dente', drain into a colander, retaining just a bit of the water in the bottom. Return the noodles and veg to the pan, and pour over as much of the cashew sauce as you like in your noodles (you should have some left over, but hey, who am I to judge if you decide it all needs to go in! Mix it up well, fill up a bowl and return to your position under a blanket on the couch and continue to watch the snow fall.
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