Raspberry Lemon Cheesecakes: An Homage to a Blue Ribbon Original

Raw Raspberry Lemon Cheesecakes, and a moment of gratitude for the cheesecake recipe that started it all for Donna and Anne.

Raw Raspberry Cheesecakes

Raw Raspberry Cheesecakes – Raw, vegan, paleo-friendly, gluten-free, and all the etc.

The first page in my battered and spattered recipe binder is a printout of an email sent to me fifteen years ago, kept safe from the ravages of my cooking habits by a plastic sleeve.

“Hey, we wouldn’t be a family unless we exchanged recipes now and then, would we? So, here’s the cheesecake recipe I was telling you about. It’s pretty good, and I have the ribbon to prove it (somewhere in my attic, okay, trust me!). I have changed the recipe a lot over the years to improve it, and so I feel justified in giving it my name!”

The days are long, the years are short, as the parenting saying goes. It’s hard to believe that it’s been fifteen years since Donna and I first reunited, but the calendars don’t lie – it was in October of 1999 that I was lucky enough to have a reunion that many adopted children only daydream about. After months of anticipatory email, we met face to face in the San Diego airport, only two years before routinely meeting people at the gate would become a thing of the past. My stomach felt positively carbonated as she emerged from the runway. I watched her looking around for just a moment, searching, and then our eyes met and the moment truly arrived. The mother and child reunion really was only a motion away.

Since that first whirlwind San Diego weekend, we have had one adventure after another, slowly integrating each other into our lives, getting to know each other through out Hotmail accounts, introducing one another to our friends and families, traveling together, sharing holidays, and yes, cooking and eating and cooking some more, making up for at least a little of our lost time. Discovering that we had this passion in common was a revelation; in fact, we inspired each other to delve more deeply into culinary creativity than we ever had individually.  Our collaborations eventually moved on to cookbooks, CIA Boot Camp, and finally this very blog – yet I still look forward to the visits where we whip up a feast for our loved ones, just for the sheer joy of it.

When I made that emailed Blue Ribbon Cheesecake for the first time, I felt as though I was tapping into a tangible part of my own ancestral history, but even beyond that, it was like being able to have a hazy glimpse into an alternate universe where my mom (not my birthmom, but simply my mom) taught me to make it herself, in our kitchen, me licking the beaters, all the clichés that go with halcyon kitchen memories. What would that have been like? But despite occasionally wondering about that universe, I’m deeply grateful to have what we have now.

In honor of the recipe that started it all, I made a “daughter” version of her “mother” recipe, using raw ingredients to make an adaptation that lines up with the way I eat most of the time now, having undergone some valuable dietary changes over the last decade. I already love experimenting with raw/vegan/paleo desserts, but if you’ve never given them a shot, they’re well worth it and, as you can see, really quite simple.

Happy Reunion Anniversary to my first mom. May we spend many, MANY more hours in the kitchen together!

Love and eternal gratitude,


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Announcing our latest collaboration: Virgin Vegan: Everyday Recipes for Satisfying your Appetite


Chocolate Decadence Cheesefake from our brand new cookbook!

We have an exciting announcement: our SECOND cookbook is about to come out!

Yes, as we’ve been merrily posting away as per usual, we were also working on another collaboration behind the scenes. Because we both enjoy quite a bit of vegan cooking in the context of our non-vegan lives, we were selected by Gibbs Smith (publisher of “101 Things To Do With Tofu”) to contribute to their new Virgin Vegan series, designed for people new to vegan eating and cooking. Ours is titled “Virgin Vegan: Everyday Recipes for Satisfying Your Appetite”, and will be officially released on March 1st (though you can of course pre-order it now).



So to celebrate, we’re going to share a different recipe from our new baby every day this week – and at the end of the week, we’ll give away FIVE COPIES. You can enter each and every day, and we’ll tally up ALL the entries from all 5 posts to select our five winners via Random.org. Like so:

1. Any single comment counts as an entry all on its own (one per post)
2. Share that day’s recipe post on Facebook
3. Pin it on Pinterest
4. And of course, Tweet it.

You know, the usual. When you post, please make sure you’re using a valid email address so we can get in touch with you for shipping info.

On to the sample recipe!

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Cardamom Pistachio Rice Pudding

Coconut pistachio ric e pudding

I didn’t know what I was missing. In my past, pre-foodie life, I always turned my nose up at rice pudding. How boring. How bland. Ho-hum, thought I.

It’s not just about taste. It’s about texture. Creamy, rich, unctuous texture. It’s that “Aaaaaahhhh” feeling when it hits your tongue. So. I have seen the light. I am a rice pudding convert!

I made rice pudding for the very first time a few weeks ago. A friend of mine was among the Kelly Family Sunday Diners. She has lived all over the world, including India, Nepal, and Morocco. She claims to be a rice pudding connoisseur. I was so thrilled when she raved about my pudding. “Best I’ve ever eaten!” she gushed.

So, my Fab Frugal Friends, with the dawn of 2011, my New Year’s gift to you is my take on Rice Pudding – my favorite version is with lots of milk and a little coconut milk. And the cardamom is what makes this pudding. So fragrant and delicious! The dairy-free version is fab, too!

The Chinese use “rice porridge” as a part of their two-week New Year’s feast. I say Amen! and Hallelujah! to this tradition!

CARDAMOM RICE PUDDING – Dairy Free or Vegan Version

2/3 cup basmati rice
** 3 cups water
** 2 cans (12 ounces each) coconut milk
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 cup sugar (or your favorite sugar substitute)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Diced pistachios for garnish

In a heavy bottomed saucepan, bring to a boil the rice, water (or milk), coconut milk and salt. Reduce heat to simmer the mixture very slowly. Simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until mixture is thickened to the consistency of oatmeal.

Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients.

Serve chilled or at room temperature, sprinkled with pistachios on top.


In my cyber searching of rice puddings, I found a wide, wonderful variety. Elise of Simply Recipes makes hers with an egg, raisins and cinnamon. Smitten Kitchen makes arborio rice pudding with almond extract. Lydia of Perfect Pantry uses basmati rice like my recipe, with cardamom and cinnamon flavors. Lydia also made a cranberry rice pudding. The White on Rice couple had to make rice pudding, c’mon, “rice” is in their blog banner! Wasabimon did a rice pudding mango parfait. Former Chef did arborio rice pudding with caramelized apples. I want to try the Latin version by My Columbian Recipes, and also her tangerine rice pudding. Lisa did arborio rice pudding at Lisa’s Kitchen. The foodies at We Are Not Martha did a brown rice pudding. Coconut mango rice pudding at Evil Shenanigans looks delish. Eating Out Loud did vintage rice pudding.

So many rice puddings. . .  so little time . . .

— posted by Donna