I went raw when I was in graduate school in the 1970s. (back then, being in grad school meant you were stone-cold broke, working and going to school most of the time. I went raw first just because it was easier than cooking, and I was doing something I called a “five-day salad” (all of this was intuitive, no one had told me about raw) My five day salad was “I chopped up some cabbage, tomatoes, onions, lentil sprouts, and spinach, threw in some kelp powder and garlic, added olive oil and vinegar, and I was good to go. What I didn’t eat the first day went in the fridge and I added more vegetables on the second day, and so on… the fifth day was soup day (I didn’t know I was raw at the time, so I put water in the leftover salad and put hot water on it, and voila, soup.)

One day, I was in Yes! the New Age bookstore we had back then in Washington DC, and I saw this book “Live Foods” by George and Doris Fathman, and the recipes inside looked like ramped up versions of my daily fare, so I bought that book and played around with the recipes. I actually lived intuitively, i.e. with no other recipe books, until my mother bought me a very fancy raw vegan recipe book in 1999.

Nowadays, there is so much information on line, but, yet, it is challenging to find ways to go what I am going to call “minimalist raw”, where you don’t have to have all the fancy machines (my first “food processor” was a fabulous Chinese stainless steel cleaver which I use to this day). I do have a food processor now, and I have finally acquired a spiralizer because, in my old age, I have decided that zucchini noodles and other vegetable “noodles” are fun, and I deserve them)

When you start out being raw, there are so many different opinions. I still say that the most important thing is to go raw, and figure out where you’re getting your protein (raw nuts and seeds, either straight up or ground to bits and put in each and every food you make, either as “nut meat” or cream sauces, or made into shakes), get your oils (eat an avocado, use extra virgin olive oil – Trader Joe’s is cheap and trustworthy), and vary your diet, i.e., do try to eat different things sometimes. You do not have to get all of the fancy superfoods whose names you cannot pronounce. As I said before, I didn’t even know I was going raw: I was just eating a serious salad that would hold out, with additions, for up to 5 days.

Of course, every raw foodist is going to tell you that you should only use organic vegetables, and that is true,, but, hey! If you cannot afford organic, you can still go raw. I did, and I have lived to tell the story.

Actually, although, since 1999, I have read a lot of raw vegan recipe books, I still keep it pretty simple. My biggest successes, according to me, have been learning how to grow those lentil sprouts, and, also, learning how to make easy 4-day sauerkraut, and cashew cheeze! Those three things really liven up my diet.

I should note that, while I was finishing up this post , and adding tags, I noticed that things I have posted over the last ten or so years are quite simple, and don’t require much in the way of machinery. You can make just about anything I have posted with a knife, a blender, and a food processor . Blender-wise, I use a NutriBullet, but my mom uses a Magic Bullet with good results .

Please note that there are no links to follow to buy anything I have mentioned. I am not an affiliate of anything I have mentioned here. You’ll have to google it yourself.


FERMENTED SALSA AT 6 DAYS: WOW! Second Grand Opening

On Monday, I opened one jar of my fermented salsa. It was delish, which  good, because I was going to go to the “fermented sauces” meetup in a few hours.  Long story short: I took the salsa to the meetup, people tasted it, said it was good, but no one asked me about it.

Tonight (8 days after I put it to ferment, I opened the second jar. Whoops! It jumped out at me!  That’s my sign for a good ferment. I skimmed off the stuff that was poking out of the jar (next time, I’ll remember to open it over a bowl, to save the juice.

Right now, I am thinking about getting some cauliflower, to make a “tabouli” with it.  That’s tomorrow’s project.

Meanwhile, I am sort of thinking of saving back a bit to use as the starter for a cashew cheeze.  It could be yummy!


POST #937
Well, I certainly was surprised by this meet-up – about 15 fermenters were gathered in an interesting underground space back behind a bar a funky little bar. I got there about 15 minutes late, and they were already immersed in serious discussion of ways of fermenting, types of water, useful additives… gosh! I ferment so simply! I just kept my head down and listened attentively, until it was my turn to say what I had brought and how I had made it. All of the ferments that people had brought were delicious (sauerkraut was by far the most common contribution – I think that there were five others besides my two- I’m making a personal note to not bring sauerkraut again): there was a beet kvass, root beer, kombucha, lots of sauerkraut of different kinds, some Korean black fermented garlic (the woman who had brought it told us the fermenting process turned it black), some kind of fermented sticky grain dish, fermented carrots and garlic, and more fermented garlic (well, it was about garlicky ferments)

Chatting with the people there, or just hanging out on the edge of conversations, was most interesting. I found myself getting jealous of how they were talking about the “people I know”, i.e. authors of books on fermentation, on a first name basis. I mean, they were talking about Sally (Fallon), and Sandor (Katz), like they were best friends. They are my best friends! So, I mentioned Wardeh (Harmon) and Nancy Lee (Bentley), and Melanie (PickleMeToo) 

Somehow, when people were asking me about how long I’ve been fermenting, I ended up mentioning that I had started out fermenting rejuvelac, then graduated to nut and seed cheezes before finally starting to ferment vegetables a while back. People were very interested in the cheeze ferments, so, of course, I couldn’t remember any specifics at all (color me stupid. I mean, I’ve only been working on the book that has had every evil accident and never gets finished for a couple of years…) Anyway, I had my 15 minutes of fame, and, then, when they were discussing what the next meet-up should be about, fermented nut and seed cheezes were proposed and decided upon. Now I am really on the spot. Must make a delicious designer cheeze. I am looking forwarded to it.

Oh, I almost forgot to tell you what the title means!  I got really lucky at the end of the meet-up, because someone was offering a kombucha baby and I raised my hand first, and then someone else was offering water kefir, and my hand was one of three that went up, so I got a pot of that, too. Could this be a sign that my luck is turning?  No matter, new ferments are on the way.

WOW! WHAT’S THAT SMELL? Joys of fermentation

POST #934
I just started my two sauerkraut batches last night, but when I came home tonight, there was a funny smell … heck! I know I cleaned the kitchen last night, and I know I threw out the trash this morning…… 

When I checked the sauerkraut, I found where the smell was coming from!  Aha! That kimchi juice is working its magic!  (Will the sauerkraut made with the kimchi juice have a kimchi essence to it? I’ll know on Tuesday night, when I open it.

The happy note is that both jars are working hard – the bowls they are sitting in were almost full of expelled water!  That is always the first and best sign that things are going according to plan (I am suddenly curious as to whether this is the sauerkraut juice people speak of.. If you know, please tell me)


POST #932
I have just put up my latest two jars of sauerkraut.  I don’t always tell you about my sauerkraut jars, simply because I always do them the same way, more or less.  This time, however, I have done two things differently, and one is a big experiment for me.

I’ll start with the big experiment:  I have always made my sauerkraut with probiotics powder, and it has always worked for me – the only failure I have ever had was the batch where I forgot to put in the probiotics.   I keep hearing about using sauerkraut juice or kimchi juice from previous batches, and I’m curious (I never end up with juice, really – so I wonder about that, too).  A few weeks ago, at the Union Square Greenmarket, I found a stall that was selling kimchi juice as a tonic.  I asked them how I would use it to start sauerkraut, and they suggested I use a couple of tablespoons to a jar of sauerkraut.  So… tonight, I put up one jar using only 2 T of the kimchi juice.

Different thing number two, which goes for both jars:  I am going to a fermented foods meet-up where we are supposed bring some garlicky fermented food.  Garlic goes in most things I make, so… what is garlicky? Do I put more?  I decided to add about 8 cloves of garlic for each of the two  heads of cabbage.  In addition, I sliced up about 3 fairly large jalapeno peppers and added them to the mix, simply because I have always liked my sauerkraut spicy, and spicier sounded like a good idea.

One interesting thing happened: when I went to open the probiotics capsule, I had a hard time with it, and then it slipped and fell into the water I was going to mix it into.  Since that was my last capsule, I could not afford to lose it, so I ended up swishing it around in the water – the gelatin capsule finally gave up the powder, but was still solid enough for me to remove it from the water. That’s good to know – I mean, I don’t plan to extract the powder that way, but, I won’t have to worry any more if I drop the cap into the water.

The two jars are sitting there in bowls on my stove shelf (I don’t use my stove, so I have a large cutting board covering the burners, and, when I am fermenting, half of that goes to the ferments).   Both jars have the “dome lids”, i.e., the two part lids, although the jar with the kimchi juice has a re-usable plastic disk for the dome lid.

My meet-up is on Wednesday, so that gives me 3 days to ferment.  I am confident that the probiotics mix will be ready on time, but I am not sure about the kimchi juice ferment. I’ll just have to test it on Tuesday night and see how it is.

CHEW-FREE RAW LIVING FOODS: Raw foods for the toothless

POST #859
There is one area of raw live foods that nobody ever looks at.

A number of my nutrition clients, and, also my speech therapy clients, have complained to me that raw food is often difficult for them to eat, the reason being that they either have no teeth or use dentures.  Some people just simply say that raw food is difficult to eat because they have problems with their teeth.

An interesting thing about “Mrs. Richter’s Cook-Less Book” which I wrote about a couple of posts ago, is that a section of the book is devoted to “Soups for the Toothless”.  I found that quaint,  odd, at first, and then I realized that Vera Richter was the first raw living foods author to address such an issue, and that no one has mentioned the situation since.

I do champion the “chewing challenged”, particularly since I am a lazy chewer (I simply don’t like to have to chew much). Many of my clients have dentures  or are toothless.  Most raw recipe books have recipes which are mostly inaccessible to people who do not or cannot chew well (too hard, too chewy).

Most raw vegan recipe writers/chefs assume that the chewing challenged can get by with blended foods, without considering that a liquid diet can get boring.

If you are looking for more substantial food, i.e foods that fill your stomach while, at the same time, addressing your taste buds, as well as your subconscious food ideas), which can be eaten with no teeth, or plastic teeth, consider pates,  kale chips, A while back, I wrote a mainstream recipe book for chewing-challenged people.

Since the beginning of my new interest in cultured vegetables, some people have written complaining that their teeth come loose when they eat cultured foods.  Now, that is interesting.   Something in the probiotic is dissolving whatever adhesive people use to secure their dentures.

As a result, I have decided that, when I make up a recipe, I will note ways that it can be converted to “chew-free”  (actually, most of my recipes are, in fact,  chew-free, simply because I am a lazy chewer).

Meanwhile, in the case of the fermented/cultured vegetables,  100% of my denture-wearing clients have complained of the denture-loosening effect.   I plan to eat my fermented vegetables either before I insert my dentures, or after I am at home and don’t need them anymore.  (Of course, you can always just carry adhesive with you and use it if your food loosens your dentures) . If you have removed your dentures and you want to eat a cultured vegetable, please consider blending or food processing it into a paste – you will have the taste, and, at the same time, be able to manage the food in your  mouth.