Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Crazy (Good) Latte

You'd drink that, right?
Okay, okay. It’s almost over. I’ll be back next week, soaking my feet in a tub of beer and melted cheese like a normal person. I promise. But I want to share one last weird thing, and it’s this not uncaffeinated morning beverage. As you may know, I’m a huge fan of the placebo effect. I feel like it works beautifully, even if I’m aware of it being the placebo effect, because my brain is excellent at making up its own crazy ideas and exuberantly disseminating them throughout my body. 

Birdy's the kind of person who sits after dinner shredding a clementine peel into a million tiny pieces, and you don't think anything of it until later you go to clear the table and see this. It's like a performative speech act, in citrus.
So. Does the latte really give you enough good, clean energy to bounce off the walls and skip into the library and concentrate on your work? And then not even be tired later? Yes. Or: I’m convinced that it does, and so it does. Plus, it’s creamy and a little bit sweet and deliciously bitter, with just the barest whiff of green tea’s driftwood-and-rotting-seal-corpse aroma. And there is caffeine in it. The “good kind.” Or whatever.
I got the idea for the latte from this book The Plantpower Way, which I checked out of the library and which stars a large and lovely Los Angeles houseful of vegan ultramarathoners who are so fit and attractive that you kind of meanly want to send them a package of anonymous Ding Dongs in the mail. Because you’re small like that. But I like looking at the book and getting healthy ideas and acute house envy from it. Plus, whenever the kids feel like I sound nuts on my cleanse, I can read aloud sentences like, “Optimize the many benefits of kale by massaging it with loving intentions,” and then they realize that there’s a solid tradition of vibrant craziness supporting my dietary choices, and that my outbursts—“This green olive is the most fantastic thing I have ever eaten!” or “But I can’t culture the cashews until the rejuvelac is done fermenting!”—are relatively benign, or at least have some context.

p.s. I wrote this!

"No, actually, this. I mean, that green olive was great, but *this* is the best thing I have ever eaten." Miso and avocado on a rice cake with a squeeze of lemon. Right? (Okay, it's no brown-butter lobster roll, but it is seriously good.)

Crazy (Good) Latte
Matcha is a powdered Japanese green tea with reputed health benefits. I hate it, but love how it makes me feel. You could substitute a cup of brewed coffee for the matcha and water, and, yes, this would be a morally inferior drink, but you’d still get all the wonderful nutrients from the date, nuts, and cocoa. Or use just water and call it “hot cocoa” and it will be delicious.

1 heaping tablespoon cocoa powder (Or cacao, if spelling it that way and spending a thousand extra dollars on it makes you feel happy. I actually bought some, and it made me feel like a Portlandia character, yes, but not especially happy. But now I sound like my dad, who says things like, “As far as I can tell, the organic apples taste exactly the same.” I think there may indeed be health benefits to cacao's rawness.)
1 pitted date (decadent!)
1 heaping tablespoon raw almonds or raw cashews, ideally soaked in water overnight
1 teaspoon matcha (powdered Japanese green tea)
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
A few drops almond extract (optional)
1 cup freshly boiled water

Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend on high until fully blended and frothy, about two minutes, if you blender can take it.


  1. Allyson6:18 PM

    You can send me the Ding Dongs. They don't even have to be anonymous.

  2. I like the way that the glaze on that mug makes the drink look as healthy as it sounds.
    I've been eating a lot of chia seeds and my daughter found a chia seedling that had germinated in the bathroom sink drain. I can't wait for February.

  3. I tried your green smoothie soup last night--I didn't use cilantro and lime juice, as I had imagined doing, but as I was eating it, I wished I had, since it really did almost taste just like guacamole (also, I was wishing I was dipping chips in it). Next time. Also, I soaked the almonds in just-boiled water for five minutes, not 2 hours, because it was 7 p.m. and I just got home from parent-teacher-conferences and I was hungry right now, and it worked fine...plenty smooth). Anyway, the point is: the soup was delicious so I'm going to trust you on this beverage and give it a try, too, despite your description of green tea, which is disgusting and much more eloquent than my usual "horse food" or "guinea pig pellets."

  4. Catherine.

    I just read your piece in the Globe and it made me cry.


    1. Yes, me too!!! Life is hard, and none of us is getting out of here alive. All we can do it to love each other while we are here. Thank you for the beautiful article!

  5. OK - your line about the ding dongs, and then Allyson's subsequent line about the ding dongs made me laugh. Out loud.
    I've never even had a ding dong - I'm Canadian. Well, I had a Twinkie once. Then I ate another one right after the first. If Ding Dongs are like Twinkies then please also send a package to me. My name is Caroline.

    1. Oh, Ding Dongs are WAY better than Twinkies! They're little creme-filled, chocolate cakes, coated in fake waxy chocolate. They are a fabulous guilty indulgence. About once a year I buy them "for the kids." Then I put them on a high shelf in the pantry, behind boxes of pasta so nobody can find them. The kids will maybe get one if I'm feeling especially generous.

  6. I can't wait for you to be back. I'd mail those healthy souls the ding dongs plus some pretzel bark for good measure and cackle like a crazy person while doing it. Off to read your piece. It was light at 5:40 yesterday - it was. :) Love to you guys Catherine.

  7. Anonymous11:33 AM

    Sounds like your next give away--Ding Dong giveaway. --Cathy K

    P.S. I loved your piece on fortune telling. I remember you posting a video a while back with Birdy totally buying into Madame Wishbone. It was so sweet. I stole the idea for my daughter's birthday recently. A friend of mine was Madame Mysterious and we had a small, curtained, candle-lit space. She took the children's hands in her and they took three deep breaths. Then she "read" the cards. It was amazing and beautiful and hopeful and such a gift to for these kids to have a moment that's all about them.

  8. Loved Birdy's citrus art. The photo of the rice cake made me want to stick my feet in a vat of beer and melted cheese. Maybe I would like it better if I had been cleansing so long that an olive got me excited? I'm not crazy about ding dongs, but I could really use a box of Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pies. I pick them up periodically, look at the ingredients, and put them back down.

  9. Anonymous5:40 PM

    The last sentence of your Boston Globe article is PERFECTION - truly.

  10. Anonymous9:42 PM

    Eventide brown butter lobster rolls, drool.

  11. My Lord, I love the way you write. And I am so like you on the whole-hog cleansing and prompt subsequent relapse. I wrote a post on my (mostly food) blog about a gluten free cracker recipe where I urged people to please not make them:
    warmly, jolie