The Kitchen of Eden

Friday, September 2, 2016

Fresh squeezed.

Lyndsey Eden, a photographer and food blogger from Vancouver Island on Canada's west coast, gained a painfully new appreciation for life when she lost her father to cancer in 2011.  As a result, she set out to re-define her lifestyle by cleaning up her eating habits and finding ways to reduce stress.  Eden, whose photography embraces life's "beautiful, delicious, wild and free moments" carries a firm belief that diet plays a large role in our health, and has set out to develop recipes that are refined sugar free and made with very few grains and starches. 

She says, "I don't want to label how I eat, because I just hate labels. I mostly try to listen to my body, see how it reacts to certain foods and just give it what it what it will thrive on and what makes it feel the very best." 

Her philosophy on food and life carries a profound message for all of us, as fad diets bombard our media with what's in and what's taboo in modern food culture. Lyndsey's ability to find balance in culinary creations and to take pleasure in the simplest things inspires those around her to do the same.

Her blog carries a variety of recipes ranging from breakfast, lunch and dinner to sweets and smoothies, and are enjoyed with her best mate, Paul, in picnics along the coast or in farm style dinners at home. Read on for my interview with this talented home cook.

Lyndsey Eden - freelance photographer, stylist, and recipe creator at

Tell me about your life, Lyndsey.  I live on the beautiful west coast of Canada, on Vancouver Island in Victoria, BC. I feel extremely grateful for where I live, surrounded by ocean air, close enough to the mountains, and our luscious forests are like no other. I live with my boyfriend (faux husband) of 10 years and our dog Solomon (the most sweetheart-ed Rottie you will ever meet).  I am a lifestyle photographer, stylist, recipe creator and story teller. I am also a legal assistant with hopes of making the former full-time one of these days. I also do a little bit of consulting and run the social media platform for a couple of restaurants in town. My big dream is to one day run workshops out of my home or maybe in far away places; a mixture of  photography, styling and cooking. 

Inspiration on the shelf. 

Where did you grow up? I grew up in the Provence of Alberta and moved to the west coast when I was 10. My absolute favorite childhood memories are the times I spent on my Grandparents' rural farm. There are no memories that stand out more than those. It is where my love of cooking began. I would spend my days gopher hunting or foraging in the garden with my Grandpa and then my Grandma and I would clean all the garden goodies and she would whip up the most delicious, mouthwatering meals. We would sit around their old kitchen table laughing, eating and just being in the moment. I think spending so much time on a farm when I was little paved the way for a lot of my beliefs today, such as eating local organic produce, free-range, grass-fed meat, eggs and dairy. this is important to me and definitely stems from being around that so much when I was younger. 

The simple things of life: tea, cake and flowers.

How did you come to love cooking and baking? Was there an early influence in your life? Cooking has always been something I have loved and enjoyed. I have a lot of home cooks in my family from my Grandma to my aunts, to my Mom and even my Dad. My Dad was an awesome cook, but not so much a baker ( my Mom and Grandma were the bakers). I surely got my cooking skills from him. He wasn't a recipe follower. He would just mostly make things up on his own, throwing a little of this in the pot and a little of that. I think this is actually the best way to cook. Recipes are great to have as a guideline but the best meals come from within you, when you trust your senses and let go a little. I want people who use my recipes to make them their own (baking aside, that can be tricky to change too much), allowing their palate to determine the outcome of the final dish. There is nothing better than that.  I believe bringing people together around a table filled with an abundance of fresh, local, beautiful foods, prepared in their most natural form is the crème de la crème of life.  

"Recipes are great to have as a guideline but the best meals come from within you, when you trust your senses and let go a little."

Plums in a cake-baking experiment.

Have you always been in your current profession? I went to college when I was 20, not really knowing what I wanted to do, but I knew I needed some kind of credential. I got my diploma as a legal assistant and have been doing that ever since. I had always thought of starting a recipe blog throughout the years but never really had the courage to put myself out there to do it. Then in 2011, my Dad passed away very suddenly with cancer and that changed everything. It gave me a new outlook on life, and I made a vow to him that I would live as healthy and happy as I could. Life is short and to not take the risk of living exactly how I wanted to wasn't an option anymore. I know that is what he would want for me. He truly is with me in every moment. I feel him and I know he is just beaming with the choices I have made and what I learned from losing him. 

Peaches - a favorite summer stone fruit.

What inspires you? Oh so much. I would say my number one inspiration is nature. I find so much stability and grace when I am in nature. It has a way of lifting my energy and opening my heart. I believe everyone should get out into nature at least once a day, even if it is just for 5 minutes. It can truly change things around for you. I take inspiration from so much beyond just other foodies, recipe books and  blogs. I find inspiration when I travel, through interior design and paintings, through listening to others and listening to myself. Our intuition (gut feeling) is full if inspiration when you are truly connected to it. 

Celebrating beauty and friendship over glasses of wine.

Have you had any funny experiences while cooking or learning to cook? Paul is not quite sure how I still have all of my fingers. It is crazy how many times I either cut myself, scrape my hand on a cheese grater, or burn myself with oil splatters, on the oven, on a pan. This one time when we were camping, we were making s'mores and I had my marshmallow on a metal rod. I clearly was NOT thinking and I decided to get the marshmallow off the rod with my mouth instead of my fingers. The inside of my lips were not happy, to say the least. 

Almond Plum Upside Down Cake with Chocolate Ganache 

Describe a favorite travel experience. We have been pretty fortunate in the last couple of years to have done as much travelling as we have. But one of my favorite memories is of a couple years ago when we were in India. Paul is half East Indian and we were visiting some of his family there. Every day they would cook the most delicious food for us. His Uncle had set up a sweets making area in their back courtyard with huge cauldrons of bubbling syrup. Men from the village were whipping up bowls of sweet, syrupy, warm gulab jamun (an Indian sweet). There is nothing like getting one handed to you fresh, warm and soaked in syrup, to devour in seconds, and promptly go back for more. Mostly, though, any travel experience Paul and I have together is amazing, enlightening and so much fun. 

Vegan bars made with chickpeas, peanut butter, chocolate, honey and rolled in oats.

How do you support your local community? I do support my local community quite a bit, as I  buy everything local (I don't shop at big box stores for anything - I am a bit against them actually). I am quite lucky to be surrounded by a lot of farms with fresh produce, and tons of egg stands around my area. There is also a local butcher I  adore and would never buy my meat anywhere else. 

Everything is better with flowers.

What are your hobbies or favorite activities? I am lucky enough to say that I love photography and besides it being a job it is also a hobby. I would be shooting whether I am getting paid or whether I am doing it just for myself. My favorite activities are super simple: going for brunch, cooking a home meal with Paul and Solomon lingering around, going for hikes or spending time down ocean side. I am quite the homebody so even just time at home with a cup of tea and a good book make me extraordinarily happy. 

A glimpse of Autumn in this cake.

Are you married and do you have a family?   Paul and I are not married, although we have been together for almost 10 years. We have a house and dog together so it pretty much feels as though we are married. Whether we will ever make it official or not I don't know. It is not really important to either of us. We are extremely strong in our relationship and at this point it wouldn't change anything. Neither of us want a big wedding either so if we did get married it would probably be some spur of the moment private ceremony while we were away travelling or maybe even just a trip down to the courthouse. We were actually set up by my Mom and his sister. It started out long distance on the phone for months and then we finally met in person and have been together ever since. This may sound far-fetched but during our very first phone call I knew I was going to be with this man forever. It was just a gut intuition. Our child is our dog, for now he is enough! 

"I believe bringing people together around a table filled with an abundance of fresh, local, beautiful food prepared in its most natural form is the crème de la crème of life."


Pecan Date Paste Cinnamon Buns 

Pecan Date Paste Cinnamon Buns With Maple Cream Cheese Icing

Date Filling
1 1/2 cups of water
20 Medjool dates, pitted (about one cup)
1/4 tsp Himalayan salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3 tbsp of cinnamon

2/3 cup buttermilk, divided (1/3 & 1/3)
4 tbsp honey, divided
1 envelope of active dry yeast
2 large egg yolks
1 large eggs
1 cup spelt flour
1 tsp of Himalayan salt
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)

1/2 cup cream cheese
1/2 cup butter
1 cup icing sugar
1 tbsp vanilla
1 tbsp maple syrup

Date Filling
In a medium sauce pan, bring dates, salt and 1 1/2 cups of water to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring and mashing occasionally until the dates start to fall apart and the water is evaporated, bringing it to a thick paste, about 10-15 minutes. Let the dates cool slightly, then stir in butter and cinnamon. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Heat 1/3 of the buttermilk and 1 tbsp of honey in a small saucepan until lukewarm. In the bowl of a stand mixer combine warm milk and honey mixture with the package of yeast. Let stand for 5 minutes until the yeast is foamy.
Next add in the egg yolks, 1 egg, the rest of the buttermilk, spelt flour, salt, all-purpose flour and remaining 3 tbsp of honey.
Mix on medium speed until dough is smooth, shiny and elastic, about 5-8 minutes.
With motor running, add 1/2 cup of room temperature butter, 1 piece at a time, waiting until each piece is incorporated into the dough before adding the next. Once all the butter is added mix for one minute and then increase the speed to medium-high and mix for another 6-8 minutes until the dough is smooth, soft and supple.
Butter the inside of a medium sized bowl, place dough in and cover with plastic wrap or a clean dish towel. Let dough rise in a warm spot (next to the heater is perfect) until it has doubled in size, 1-1 1/2 hours.

Assembling The Buns
Take the risen dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough 6-8 times then, roll the dough out into one large rectangle 1/4 inch thick. Evenly spread the date mixture over the dough and sprinkle with the chopped pecans (if using).
Roll the dough up into one large log and then lightly pinch the seam together. Using a serrated knife, with a slow gentle slicing motion cut the log into 1 1/2 inch rolls.
Place the rolls on a parchment lined baking sheet or in a parchment lined cast iron skillet.
Cover buns with a clean dish towel and let rise in warm spot until almost doubled in size, 40-50 minutes.
Bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes for the barely baked kind and 20-25 for a more golden brown cinnamon bun.

Maple Cream Cheese Icing
In a stand mixer, beat the the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add in the icing sugar a little at a time, making sure it is incorporated well. Add in the vanilla and maple syrup, and mix for another minute or two. You can add a little milk if the consistency is too thick, I would only add in 1 tbsp at a time, until you get the desired consistency.
Spread the icing over the buns while they are still warm and serve immediately.

If you do not have a stand mixer, let the yeast, milk and honey stand in a large bowl. Then whisk all of the ingredients into the yeast. knead dough on a clean floured surface until it comes together (5-8 minutes). Knead in butter until it is well incorporated.

Farro Salad with Kale, Roasted Carrots and Sesame Miso Cashew Cream 

Warm Shallot Fried Farro Salad with Kale, Roasted Carrots and a Sesame Miso Cashew Cream

Farro Salad:
– 1 cup of farro
– 4 cups of water
– 1 shallot
– 3 kale stems
– 3 cloves of garlic
– one bunch of radishes
– two bunches of carrots with the tops
– 2 tbsp of sesame oil
Sesame Miso Cashew Cream
– ½ cup of soaked cashews
– 2 tbsp of sesame oil
– 2 tbsp of rice wine vinegar
– 1 tbsp of tahini
– 1 tbsp miso paste
– 1 tsp honey (optional)
– 2 cloves of garlic
– 1 handful of fresh cilantro (about 3 tbsp or to taste, I like lots)
– half the juice of a lemon
– salt and pepper to taste
– 1 tbsp of water at a time until you get the consistency you would like
Soak your cashews for at least 4 hours or overnight.
In a medium sized pot add 1 cup of farro and 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then cover and bring the heat down to a low simmer. Cook for 35-45 minutes until tender, or according to the farro package.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Trim the tops of the carrots down to about ½ inch and toss with some olive oil and salt and pepper. Place on a parchment paper lined baking tray and roast the carrots for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Then turn the oven up to 400 degrees and roast for another 10 minutes.
While the farro is cooking and the carrots are roasting you can make the cashew cream.
Drain and rinse the soaked cashews and throw them into a high speed blender or food processor with all of the cream ingredients; sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, tahini, honey, miso paste, garlic, cilantro, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Blending until you get a creamy consistency, you can add a couple of tablespoons of water to get the consistency you like. It should be thick and creamy but still drizzle like.
Once the farro has cooked, heat up a large pan on the stove and add 2 tbsp of sesame oil. Finely mince the shallot and fry in the pan until browned. Add in the farro and de-stemmed kale (torn into small pieces), cooking until the kale is lightly wilted.
Thinly slice the radishes for topping the salad. 
For plating, add a large scoop of the shallot fried farro, then the carrots and radish slices and drizzle with cashew cream. Or alternately you can just pour the cream over the farro and toss it all together.
All photos courtesy of Lyndsey Eden and used with permission.

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