Amy in the Raw
My good friend, Amy McCarrel, makes raw foods majestic
She told me of her dreams of food, growing it, cooking it, and serving it. One in particular was memorable. It was about trying to make blueberry juice on a tropical island with no blueberries. She told me about falling asleep while thinking about a recipe, then waking up in the middle of the night with the key food note of that dish suddenly clear to her. She kept a notebook by her bed for just such inspirations, a few lines taken down so that in the morning her vision was intact.
This is the kind of passion that is infectious! My friend Amy McCarrel is the woman I am writing about. I credit her with giving me a deeper confidence and interest in the kitchen. Her enthusiasm knows no bounds, and her palate is refined. She respects the flavors of her ingredients, mixes them subtly, so as to highlight the tastes, not overwhelm them.
At the age of sixteen, Amy packed a bag and moved to Boulder, Colorado. She did not have a definite plan of what she was going to do. She happened upon a job and a place to live. Then she enrolled in the Naropa University. She studied literature, writing, and yoga. Her world expanded. She was working late hours at a restaurant job while also going to school. Then all of a sudden she was hospitalized from severe kidney pain. The health crisis that ensued changed her life. She found a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner to help her. She healed herself through diet, a radical change of what she ate. In the frigid winters of Colorado she ate an all-raw diet, and her kidneys regained their strength. It was in this time period that Amy dug deeply into diet, cooking, nutrition, and yoga. She moved to Kauai, then to Fiji. On the island of Taveuni she paired up with some friends, and they set about to grow organic produce specifically for their Guru, Adi Da Samraj.
Jump forward a bit to a time when I was a walking distance neighbor with Amy. We lived in West Sonoma County, an area rich in fresh local produce, with every delicious ingredient that you desired within reach. Without knowing it, with no plan at all, and through osmosis, she turned me on to her specialties, raw and fermented foods.
When visting Amy at her house she would lay out simple, fresh dishes for her friends to try; a plate of veggies with a homemade dip, raw crackers with goat cheese, chocolates with chai and mint fillings, and the legendary key lime pie with a secret ingredient crust. She cracked open jars of pickled vegetables, bright in the sun on her kitchen table, while her cat rubbed against her feet, asking to be fed too. On long walks we would inevitably talk about food, her words spilling out with excitement as she told me about a new experiment, or how it was time to make some fresh yogurt. We could talk about the edible arts endlessly. She continued with her permaculture and gardening interests too. We grew a collective garden at her house, and much of what she made in the kitchen was harvested from the backyard. Her out-of-this-world rose jam was made from the beautiful roses that covered her deck.
Soon I was following her recipes and expanding my repertoire enormously. I invested in a food processor, a dehydrator, and a VitaMix. I learned from her about the delicacy and timing of working with chocolate. I joined in on group fermentation parties where we all cut and shredded, salted, and pressed until we had eight crocks of sauerkraut and kimchee. Working as a group the sense of community was high!
Amy teamed up with her friend Sukey and together they created a local business, The Glass Pantry. Everything that they put into jars was scrumptious! Sukey would cook with her infant son in a backpack on her back. I would come over to the house to go to a yoga class taught by Amy after they had finished cooking. Sun salutations on a sunny redwood deck, the tree pose beneath swaying pines, you just can’t beat that experience. Then I would buy some of their food, and go home happy with the promise of those unopened jars. I continued to experiment in the kitchen, and since that time I have been continuously interested in this. With regularity I make my own raw crackers, coconut yogurt, kimchee, granola, chocolates, and kombucha.
Taveuni Island, Fiji
Now Amy lives in Taveuni, Fiji again. The land and the farming called out to her, and she returned there. She is following her passion for growing organic food, and feeding people with only the best produce. The vegetables and fruit that she grows are sent to the island of Naitauba each week.
One of my favorite desserts is Amy’s California Kiwi Lime Pie. She would often make it as a birthday present for friends, and word spread about it. It is a crowd pleaser. The flavor is tart, tangy and sweet. The texture is light and creamy. Try out her recipe, you will love it!
This was originally published on The Blue OK website, which is no longer live. Luckily, I had saved the recipe years ago.
California Kiwi Lime Pie
Ingredients for 9” pie
½ cup macadamia nuts
2 cups coconut flakes
½ cup chopped dates
pinch of salt
1 ripe kiwi
¾ cup lime juice
1 large avocado
½ cup coconut milk
½ cup Agave nectar (or more to taste)
½ cup coconut butter or coconut oil
3 rounded tsp powdered lecithin
1 tsp vanilla
2 pinches of salt
1 sliced kiwi for garnish
To make the crust:
-Combine macadamia nuts, coconut flakes, salt, and dates in food processor using the “S” blade.
-Process large pieces of nut and coconut flakes so they are broken down and the mixture is uniform and smooth.
-Press into pie pan and refrigerate until you are ready to add filling.
For the Filling:
-Place all ingredients except the lecithin and coconut oil in blender and combine until smooth.
-Add the lecithin powder and coconut oil and blend again.
-Pour mixture into prepared crust and refrigerate for several hours until set.
-Top with coconut whipped cream if desired.
Gratitude for a True Friend
Sometimes a friend teaches you things that enrich your life every day. This is what Amy did for me. Thank you Amy! You have given me a precious gift. I think of you when I am cooking. Your delicacies delight my palate, thoughts of you delight my heart.
My table is full with food that you taught me how to make.