Category Archives: EQUIPMENT

DEHYDRATING DAY!

I’ve been dehydrating all day, while I’ve been cleaning, and playing on the computer (okay, that’s work, too – I’ve been writing, studying, planning….) — hey! I am on vacation, yes?

So, anyway, I took some leaves out of the dehydrator this morning, but I decided to wait until the Magic Bullet jar was dry (rather than dry it, duh!), and wait until the rest of the trays were dry as well.  So, anyway, when I got around to wanting to grind up those leaves, they were damp – it was like they saw it was raining outside and they decided they were thirsty. They were all wilted, so I had to put them back in the dehydrator for a while (I won’t do that again!)

Well, now, after a whole day of dehydrating, I got about 2 tablespoons more of powder, and I had to graduate to a quart jar.  Of course, since I had just scrubbed the floor on my hands and knees, mind you, I spilled some on the floor!  Never mind! When I open that jar, it smells really good (and I am that girl who does not like salads!)  

I’m thinking of grating up some radishes and turnips and adding them to the mix.  Or maybe I will just start another kind of jar, and mix them when I’m using them.  I keep thinking about Spike , my main seasoning – it’s a salt-free mix of an assortment of dried vegetables (I think it was originally intended to help people reduce dietary salt, although there is a Spike with salt)  So, anyway, if I grate up some vegetables and put them in the dehydrator, and then grind them up into powder and mix them up… well, hey! I could have my own Spike mix going.

Since this green powder I have going smells so good, I am starting to think that I could put 3 or 4 T into hot water and have an ultra-healthy “salad” soup. Add some cashews for creaminess…. who knows?  I am very grateful for my Healthy Homesteader class that woke me up to this idea.  Not only have I learned a lot, I have also become aware that many people who enjoy preparing foods in the way I do call themselves homesteaders. Thus have I been opened to a whole new network of like-minded people.  When I was offered the opportunity to take a Tera Warner course, I chose this one more or less out of the blue, never imagining how much it would allow me to expand my horizons.

I have a tray filled with 5 large white turnips-worth of grated turnips (I processed them in my food processor to a coarse grind – think chunky applesauce texture) and spread them on a teflex sheet placed over the plastic tray of my dehydrator

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MISCELLANEOUS UPDATES: WHAT’S DEHYDRATING AND MY SA RESCUED KNIFE

POST #941
The turnips I got in last week’s and this week’s CSA shares came with beautiful greens.  Since last week’s Healthy Homesteading lesson called for dehydrating greens to make a super-green powder, most of the greens that I’ve gotten in the first two CSA shares have gone into the dehydrator.  Tonight, the turnip greens are in there with the arugula (you can like arugula all you want, but, to me, it smells like dirty feet)  I still have some more arugula and turnip greens to put in tomorrow when these come out.  The romaine may end up in there, as well.  My super-green jar is half full.  So far, I have put in a bunch of mustard greens, a bunch of collards, and a bunch of kale (I think that what makes it a super-green powder may be that a bunch – almost a pound – of greens dehydrated ends up being a few tablespoonfuls of powder).

On to other things…

The horribly mistreated, but well-made Japanese knife that I found at Salvation Army is coming along well.  I only have a basic kitchen knife sharpener, but the knicks in the blade are slowly smoothing out.  I don’t know that I’ll be able to smooth out the bent point, but the bend is not too bad, and it doesn’t impeded chopping.  This is on its way to becoming a go-to knife in my kitchen. I let it chop things from time to time, and, each time, I run it through the sharpener.

IT’S ALL ABOUT EASY – What kitchen appliances do you really want?

POST #916
IT’S ALL ABOUT EASY
One of my students, who has been reading my blog and wants to provide healthier food for her family, commented that her cooking/food-prep style is all about EASY.  I can totally get into that.

My first questions to her were about her kitchen equipment.  She has knives. Okay, well, I started out with one knife (which I still have) and a cutting board.  That’s easy, but not so easy, if you start to get into preparing anything more adventurous than a salad.

I suggested that she start out with a good quality food processor, because that is what she will probably end up using the most (I know that’s the thing that gets the biggest workout in my kitchen!).  For a few years, after I decided that I needed a food processor, I worked with cheap ones, because that is all I could afford.  One after another broke.  When I was on the third one and I saw that it was headed for the graveyard, I started saving so that I could buy a Cuisinart food processor when it went on sale at Macy’s (I’d seen them go on sale for @half-price every couple of months, so I decided to get one the next time that happened. I have never regretted the $80 spent – my Cuisinart has now lasted longer than all three fo the food processors I had before, put together!

With a food processor, you can grind nuts and seeds, chop or puree vegetables and/or fruit, make pates, and shred vegetables or slice them (I still like to slice with a knife, though).  You can make apple sauce or grind beets or other hard vegetables (turnips, carrots, sweet potatoes, etc.)  in to a nice applesauce consistency.   You can make soups (and then heat them in your dehydrator if you like — Nomi Shannon, in her book Raw Food: THE ANSWERS, suggests pouring boiling water over chopped vegetables  –she feels that the vegetables will not be cooked by the contact of with boiling water – you’re on your own here – if you think that will work for you, go for it)

In addition to my food processor, I also have a Magic Bullet blender thing, a Champion Juicer, and an Excalibur dehydrator.  I have a VitaMix, but I broke it, and I am making do with the Magic Bullet right now, until I can afford to repair it  (It broke just past the 10 year warranty, of course).

If you are just setting up, just starting out, I’d say, after the food processor, the next thing to get would be a Magic Bullet – it does simple blending (smoothies, purees, etc) and, also, does the job of a herb/nut grinder quite well.

If you are moving forward from there, I’d say it’s a toss-up between the Champion juicer and the dehydrator.

I got the Excalibur Dehydrator first,because I seriously wanted to make crackers,  but, then, I had a working VitaMix at the time, and, after a consult with author Rose Lee Calabro, whose book, Living in the Raw, was my first modern raw food recipe book, and continues to be my first go-to book, I decided that I could make do with the food  processor for a while longer, instead of going for the juicer right away (Calabro told me that I could get by with the food processor, but the resulting pates and nut butters would not be as fine as those I could get with the Champion juicer).  I researched dehydrators ad infinitum, and, although there were cheaper choices (and I didn’t have much money), I chose to save up for the Excalibur 5 Tray with Timer ,  because it is easier to add and remove things as they dry, and, also, it is easier to clean – always a big plus in my world!  With the Excalibur, you can pull out individual trays to check them for done-ness, so it is easy to dehydrate several different things at once (I got the 5-tray model with the timer – the only thing I would do differently would be to get the 9-tray model, because there are often times when I could use 9 trays, but, still, I do fine with 5 trays)

I finally got a 1976 vintage Champion Juicer on ebay for $80.  I love it. (I have a Green Star GSE-5000 twin-auger machine that I got  for $20 at Salvation Army, but I find that the Champion is a thousand times easier to clean, so..—you never see Champions in Salvation Army, and Champion is made in America)

So… my kitchen set-up right now is very simple:

Cuisinart
Magic Bullet
Excalibur 5 Tray Dehydrator with Timer
Champion Juicer

WHAT DO I WANT NEXT?
I want to get a Nutri Bullet Hi-Speed Blender/Mixer System
next.  I’ve read the reviews (I always start with the 1-star reviews first and work my way back up, and it seems that this might do the job , if I follow the instructions, while I am waiting for money to fix my VitaMix—it will certainly fit better on my shelf)

QUESTIONS PEOPLE ASK ME

POST #887
Last night, at the raw vegan potluck dinner, I fielded  a lot of questions – the most common among them were:
“How long have you been raw?”
“Why did you go raw?”
“Have you always been 100% raw?”

I figure that, because I was clearly the oldest attendee,  “how long have you been raw” was the most popular question.
Let’s see – I did not clock in or anything, I was just in college full-time and working full-time to pay my tuition, rent, and food,  and I started making what I called a “progressive salad” – chopped cabbage, bell peppers, onions,lentil sprouts, and tomatoes, with olive oil and apple cider vinegar: the “progressive” part was that what I didn’t eat went in the refrigerator, and each day, I added some more, or something different, until, after about 4 days, I would put water in it and warm it to soup temperature and finish it off. (I made lentil sprouts because they tasted good and they were easy to make and almost never failed)   Back then, there was a bookstore in Washington, DC, where I lived, called Yes!, and they carried lots of interesting New Age books.  In the cookbook section, I found  a book on raw food (Live Foods, by George and Doris Fathman).  That book taught me some new ideas, some new recipes, and told me what I had been doing all the while.  Fast forward to 1999, when I went to a health food store with my mom, and she saw Rose Lee Calabro’s book, Livng in the Raw and bought it for me.  I had never seen fancy recipes before, I had never had a fancy juicer, I had only my serious-business all-stainless-steel Chinese cleaver as a food processor, and now I was facing a whole new world of possibilities.  I did save my money and get a VitaMix, and, a couple of years later, an Excalibur dehydrator (now, also, I have a Cuisinart food  processor which, at 2 years old, has outlasted all three of the cheap food processors I had before).  I still do eat pretty simply, although not as simply as the fellow I met last night, who said he eats kale by the leaf – my food has to taste like food, and not “health food”.  Most of the dishes I make up are not much more complicated than the ones I was making way back when, although I do love to make crackers and breads from time to time, and dehydrate fruit when it is in season and sauces when I make too much, and I am terribly fond of banana soft serve ice cream which I make with my 1976 vintage Champion juicer.

“Why did I go raw?”  The answer to that is, in all honesty,  “pure laziness”.  I was paying my way through college, so I took the maximum number of credits I thought you could take (18) each semester, and I took a maximum load in summer session also, and I was working full-time to meet the bills, so I did not have much time to fool around with things like food.  I had my Chinese knife and a cutting board, and it made more sense to take the vegetables I chopped up and throw them in a bowl and eat them than to take the extra step of throwing them in a pan and cooking them.  Once that was going, it was easy enough to keep it going, rather than to try anything new.

Have I always been 100% raw?  Now, I will be perfectly honest with you.  I say I have been raw for over 30 years.  That is when I started. Since then, I have, like any good raw foodist (let’s be real here), gone off and eaten other stuff.  Like any good vegan (again, reality check) I have gone off and eaten wild and crazy stuff like honey, or cheese, or ice cream.  The thing with milk products is that, as it turns out, I am allergic to milk protein (not the more common “lactose intolerance”), so consuming them has always come back to bite me big time.  As far as eating cooked food, the laziness is still a factor: it’s just a heck of a lot easier to throw something into the food processor, and then scarf it up, rather than to take that intermediate step and cook it.  I have never gone off for long enough to really count, unless you are counting every minute, every second, in which case, I have only been 99% raw for all this time. (At any time, I normally tell people I am 95% raw, because I know I am a human, and I might change my mind at any moment, even if I have been 100% raw for longer than I have been counting – I don’t stop and start the count, anyway, since I always end up raw.)

When I lost my teeth, as a result of an accident, I went to cooked food because raw food seemed hard to manage (I was very distressed when I found that I couldn’t even chew a lettuce leaf!).  I even wrote a cookbook for people who have no teeth or have dentures, or have other chewing/swallowing issues — but, even then, I came back to raw food quickly (my food processor and my Vitamix can make anything do-able!).

I’ve been honest with you here, which is more than a lot of the “raw food gurus” will do.

TODAY I AM RAW.  And that is exactly what I teach my clients: Think “Today I am raw”.  If you can do that, you can wake up tomorrow and say the same thing.  If you wake up the next day and feel like you want to eat something else, you can make that choice if you want to, and, then, when you are ready, you can go right back and say “Today I am raw” (you can even go right back after one or two meals. *NOW I am raw* works.  If you want to observe a raw food lifestyle at any level (okay, 50% raw, okay, 80% raw, or whatever, you can do that.  No judgements. I do raw because it works for me.  High raw (90%) is a really good thing to shoot for, but more raw is better than no raw (even the AMA agrees with me on this one). If you want to include more raw food in your diet, you just do it, one meal at a time. If you want to observe a raw vegan diet, you just do it one day at a time.

CABIN FEVER DINING: What I made today post-Sandy

POST #848
With no public transportation on the day after Sandy, this week is definitely a stay-cation.  Worse, everything within walking distance is closed.  Cabin fever city!  Back to the kitchen!

This morning I got up and made some kale/cashew cheeze in my much beloved Cuisinart food processor (it has already outlasted each of the two economy food processors I had before) to go with the sunflower seed crackers I meant to eat later.

Later, I made a “surf and turf salad.”
I had some leftover torn-up kale from huge bunch I’d bought on Sunday, so I chopped it up a little more, added some soaked wakame seaweed, also chopped up, about 1/4 C chopped red bell pepper, 1/2  jalapeno, chopped, some freshly-ground black pepper, 1/2 galangal (don’t ask why, I have no idea), 2 chopped garlic cloves, about 1/2 C lentil sprouts, and about 1/4 C sunflower seed sprouts, then some apple cider vinegar and olive oil.  It didn’t seem like enough, so I took a heaping soup spoon of the kale/cashew cheeze and mixed it with water to make a creamy dressing which I poured over the top.  Yumm!

CANNING JARS IN NYC: Where to get them

POST #831
Living in New York City, we often get spoiled into thinking that we can get anything here (I know I imagined that it would be that way back when I was still scheming to get here).  Surprise! There are lots of things you can get in other parts of America which are virtually inaccessible to New York City residents — We have no Walmart, and canning jars (Mason/Ball jars) are really hard to track down. I’m lucky that I happened upon an interesting blog, Autumn Makes and Does, with a posting about how to get jars in NYC, and with lots of follow-up postings from her readers, with their own information abut where to get jars.

Last week, I followed Autumn’s advice to go to Ace Hardware, order on-line, and then pick up at an Ace Hardware in the city without  paying shipping.  I ordered on Friday night, and my jars were in the store on Monday.  I couldn’t pick them up until today, and I couldn’t make a copy of my on-line purchase receipt, but the folks at the store were sweet, and let me have my delivery once I told them my true name and showed them an ID which reflected that name.  (My total for a flat of 12 qt. jars was $14 something — $8 cheaper than even amazon with amazon prime)

Here are some other suggestions for places to find canning jars in NYC:
True Value will also ship free-of-charge jars you buy on-line to the local store you specify. The jar prices are competitive with Ace Hardware. There are a number of True Value stores in Manhattan.
Rainbow Ace Hardware at 1st Ave and 75th: Highly-rated canning supply section, with flats of jars in all sizes, lids, canning gadgets and utensils, as well as pectin and pickling spices. Prices said to be not bad for NYC.

Home Depot, 23rd Street: various sizes of jars, and lids.  They say that, if you find a lower price elsewhere, if you talk to the Head Cashier, they will match the price.

Surprise Surprise, 3rd Ave and 12th St:. Carries jars at prices ranging from $1.50 – $2.99. Small discount for flats.
23rd Street Hardware, 23rd Street between 3rd and Park: This is a True Value store. Good selection of jars and lids. May be willing to special order what you don’t see. You can also order on-line and have your order delivered free-of-charge to this or any other True Value store you choose.

OPENINGS: the carrots! the salsa! the re-opening of the green beans

POST #863
I finally opened the carrots, two days after I could have.  They were good, but I thought I would like to have them more dill-flavored, so I added about a tablespoon more dill seed, and sealed them back up, shook them up well, and set them back to wait some more (I don’t know if you can do that successfully or not, but I’ll find out in about 3 days).

I opened the tomato salsa – yumm!  It wasn’t as spicy as I had expected, but it was still good, so I used it as a salad dressing.  I also added it to some of my cashew cheddar cheeze.  Yumm!

Tonight, I ate most of the rest of the first quart jar of green beans (the one I opened the other day).  They were more dilly than they had been on the first day.  Yumm!  I still haven’t opened the second jar (I will, after I empty the first jar).

Meanwhile, I believe that my jars have arrived at the Ace Hardware store. That’s good, because tomorrow I want to ferment some of the vegetables that are coming in the CSA share.  I just have to find a way to print my receipt to carry with me to the store.