Category Archives: FOOD PREP

KOMBUCHA & KEFIR RESEARCH

POST #942
I have the kombucha scoby and the water kefir grains in the refrigerator. The Russell James Chef Homestudy course I’m going through now has, just this week, given me a very good grounding in what I need to do for kombucha and kefir brewing. I just like to read up on as much background as I can.

KOMBUCHA
kombucha scoby getkombuchaI’m finding out that I may have destroyed my kombucha scoby – who knew that you shouldn’t put it in the refrigerator. Well, it’s been in there almost a week, and I probably won’t try to do anything with it until at least tomorrow. (the scoby picture is from getkombucha.com)

Meanwhile, I have found two downloadable kombucha brewing guides on-line:

The Cultures for Health ebook  is very extensive – it covers in pretty much detail just about anything you want to know. This site also has quite a few informative videos on kombucha

Kombucha Kamp’s kombucha guide is concise and informative. I like it as a checklist for after I have read through the entire Cultures for Health book.

Yemoos Nourishing Cultures’ kombucha FAQ  has some useful information, as well.

More details at GetKombucha.com What is Kombucha

dried kombucha kombuchananaDrying kombucha – I kept trying to find out how to dehydrate kombucha, but never came up with anything much about using a dehydrator. Most of the info was about how to air dry it. I saw one mention of dehydrating at 105 degrees, but when I tried to follow that google link, I didn’t find anything further. It seems you are supposed to dry it to jerky consistency, but, on kombuchanana , which has some interesting ideas for what to do with dried scoby, I saw this picture where it looks pretty dry.

water kefir grains wikipediaKEFIR
Cultures for Health has videos on water kefir . Their ebook deals only with milk kefir, but it is free and has interesting information (the picture is from Wikipedia)

Yemoos Nourishing Cultures has an extensive online water kefir “book”  which covers just about anything you could want to know.

Wellness Mama’s recipe promises Kefir soda  .

Lea’s Cooking’s kefir article  gives her recipes , as well as recipes she has found in her web research

GRAND OPENING: Cultured Butternut Squash

POST #858
Back to the fermented butternut squash I told you about several days ago.

This was “opening night”!  WOO-HOO!
I want you to know that I have squirmed every day and night since I put that stuff up.  Because of the smell the fermenting gave off, I was afraid I had put in too much garlic, and then I worried I had put in too much jalapeno.  I had already started planning what I could do with it if I couldn’t eat it straight out of the jar.  (I’ve never gone through so much agony over a ferment before)

Well, tonight was the night I decided to open it up.  Tentatively, I took a heaping forkful out and put it in a bowl. Even more tentatively, I took a small forkful in my mouth!

Oh my!  Heavens!  Goodness! Woo-hoo! Oh boy! Wow!  This stuff beats tomato salsa in sweet flavor.  The squash is soft (the way I had hoped it would be — easy chewing), and the flavor is …. pickled!  Amazing!  I did not put any vinegar in the mix, but you’d think I had, from the bright, sweet flavor.  The garlic is not overwhelming, and the jalapeno just gives a mild zing.  I love that vinegary taste, for sure.

I combined it half and half with a “TuNo” mix, and ate a big bowl of it.

I can see grinding this up fine and making a spread to put on other food, or sandwiches, or use as a dip.  I could use it as a soup base.  I could use it as a salad base and add some sprouts (that reminds me, I need to make some new lentil sprouts).

Suffice it to say – this stuff is yummy!

This is stuff I could get hungry for all over the place  (and I don’t get hungry for much).

I will have to start a couple of new jars at least by tomorrow, because I want to show off this stuff and give it to my next-door-neighbors, people who have helped me or given me stuff, and some people I really don’t like (must do something to resolve the karma).  They will get the next jars!  This stuff is all for me!

Meanwhile, except that I am full, I would go right back to the kitchen and eat some more of this stuff. It is really good.

RAW CHEF DAN’S UBER-COOL POP-UP RESTAURANT

POST #844
Right before I left on vacation, I had the wonderful opportunity of participating in a “raw vegan pop-up restaurant” event at Raw Chef Dan’s place in Manhattan. Woo hoo!

I have taken a couple of Dan’s courses and loved them, as well as his interesting studio/classroom/kitchen — I am always fascinated by how people use space). (In case you are unaware, Dan is also the chef at Quintessence restaurant, on of the few remaining raw vegan restaurants in New York City.

I was very excited when this opportunity came up; for an amazingly minimal fee, I got a full meal with four or five delicious courses, a kombucha drink, and a delicious pumpkin pie with butter pecan ice crème to finish. The concept was that the attendees were to help eat up what his students had made during their course-work that day. (What a wonderful way for Dan to choose to give back).

I got there early so I also had the opportunity to chat with Dan, ask his opinion on some things I have heard around recently, and just enjoy some last leisurely moments before hopping a train for Virginia.

After a while, some other folks came along, filled up the two other tables, and brought along new conversational opportunities, which made for more fun. I was almost sorry I had to leave, although I was really full, and running short of time by then.

If you have not done so yet, I highly recommend that you check out the RawChefDan website, and, if you are in the city, check out his upcoming classes. Even if you are not local, you can still get his recipes and make delicious/easy-to-make dishes in the comfort of your own kitchen. Also, do sign up for his newsletter, so that you can receive news and announcements (that’s how I learned of the pop-up restaurant).

9/27/12 CSA SHARE: What we got, what I took home, and what I am doing with it

POST #823
Spaghetti Squash – 1-3 pcs…….traded for .5 lb green beans
Green Beans – .5lb
Red Tomatoes – 2 beefsteak
Mixed lettuce leaves – 1 bag…..traded for 3 tomatoes
Carrots – 1 bun
Red onions – 2 tiny
Baby Arugula – 1 bag

  I was the first one to the share distribution, so I looked in the trade box and grabbed the tomatoes and green beans and promised to give back something as soon as I’d opened my box.  Someone was apparently assigned to make sure I did – she stood right in front of me as I opened my box, and didn’t leave until I had taken the bag of lettuce and the squash over to the trade box!  It was nice to have someone to chat with.

 These boxes are getting ever more parsimonious. Oh well!

Once home, I headed straight for the kitchen and pulled out all of my available mason jars, and started to work.  Washed all of the tomatoes – I had 4 that had survived since last week, too—and set them aside.  Washed all of the green beans (that bag of beans from the Chinese supermarket was about only half good – from now I will only buy green beans I can select by the onesies.

 Stood there and topped and tailed all of the green beans, and snapped the longer ones  in half (I can bear to chew for about half a green bean at a time).  This was the most time-consuming chore.  I began to think back to when my cousins and my sister and I used to sit with big bowls on the back porch at Grandmom’s and top and tail huge piles of green  beans.  Although it was a chore, it was still fun because we were together, talking and joking.  At last, I finished with the green beans and stuffed them down into 2 quart jars, along with a good amount of sliced garlic, chopped jalapeno peppers, and dill seed.  Poured on about 2 C of brine mixed with 2 caps of probiotics per jar, and lidded them.  One jar got one of my new re-usable lids (these are kind of weird – the middle part is plastic, the ring is probably rubber, and you have to put your own outside ring).

 I chopped up a large onion, more garlic, and some more jalapenos, and threw them, along with some dry cilantro, lemon juice, 2 caps of probiotic powder, and cumin powder, in the food processor to chop fine.  That done, I chopped up the tomatoes, and put as many as would fit into the food processor and chopped kind of chunky.  Then I emptied the food processor into a large bowl and processed the rest of the tomatoes, and threw them into the bowl and mixed everything very well.  I used my Champion juicer funnel to get everything into a quart jar and a pint jar.  I mashed the tomatoes down as firmly as I could, which brought up a lot of juice. Then, I lidded both, and set them over on the board I have over half the stove top, along with the green beans.

 It took me about 2-1/2 hours to do all of it.

 Along the way, at those moments when my mind strayed from the mindfulness of the job that I was working at maintaining, and I started to think about how my back and shoulders were feeling sore, I started thinking about how you just cannot get this kind of food if you don’t make it yourself.  That kept me going and helped me get back to that mindfulness thing.  Food prep as meditation.

 So, now, it’s all sitting there, waiting.  I will probably open one jar of the beans at 4 days, and leave the other one to 7 days, which will be about the same time that the first jar is empty.  That way I can decide which one tastes better.

I still have some lovely carrots, and I want to do them with garlic and gingner.  Not tonight, though.  I’m done for now.

 I need to get some more mason jars.  I looked on amazon.com, but they wanted @$22.00 for 12 (not too bad with my amazon prime, which gives me free 2-day delivery, but still it is @ $1.50 per jar.  Then I found out that you can order mason jars from Ace Hardware on-line and have them delivered to your local Ace Hardware (if they don’t carry them normally), and they are shopped to the store free. (This is even cheaper than ordering directly from the Ball/Kerr jar company website).  You just have to pick them up.  I’m looking for the Ace Hardware closest to the subway which will give me the most direct route home (12 mason jars are heavy to carry)

 Meanwhile, I’m eating a salad made with chopped baby bok choy, lentil sprouts, chopped wakame (sea weed), hijiki (seaweed), onion, garlic, a little jalapeno pepper, sesame oil, and apple cider vinegar. Yum!

9/14/12 CSA SHARE: What we got and what I took home

POST #808
What we actually got and what I took home:

Spaghetti Squash – 1 pc…traded for dumpling squash
Green Beans – 1 lb
Leeks – 1 bun
Broccoli – 1 hd
Fingerling potatoes ……traded for 3 big tomatoes
Red Tomatoes – 4 med
Batavian Lettuce – 1 hd

Once again, I couldn’t beat the super-cadger – this older fellow always seems to get there before anyone else (I can’t really complain, because people probably say the same thing about me), and raids the trade box before I can.  Fortunately, he didn’t want the tomatoes, but he did get the green beans before I could.

I have these big leeks.  I don’t normally eat leeks – I’ve tried, but they’re just not me.  Still, I saw a recipe for fermented leeks somewhere, and I’m going to try to find it again, and try it out.

This week, I will probably eat cream of broccoli soup, made with cashews.  I’m not sure about the squash yet – maybe a squash soup with cashews and Thai green curry paste, or maybe a pasta.

I guess I’ll be eating a salad or two, as well.

9/12/12 CSA SHARE: What they say we will get, and what I’m thinking of doing

Spaghetti Squash – 1 pc
Green Beans – 1 lb
Leeks – 1 bun
Broccoli -or- Zucchini – 1 hd/1 pc
Red Beets – 1 bun
Red Tomatoes – 2 lb
Batavian Lettuce – 1 hd

Just about everything I get is going to get fermented
.

I’ll keep the broccoli out and eat it, or, perhaps, I might trade it, if I get there early enough and something interesting is available in the trade box.  The leeks are going to be fermented –I’ve never really used leeks well, and, so have mostly traded them, but, this time, I’m going to keep them and ferment them.

I may or may not keep the lettuce.  I could use with a salad, but… still… I’m not always interested in salads.  We’ll see what is the trade box.

Just as the CSA changes things, I may change my mind about any and all of the above.  If I get the zucchini,  I might keep it and make spaghetti with the tomatoes, or I might not.  Likewise, if there are tomatoes in the trade box, I might trade the broccoli.

We’ll see, won’t we.

FERMENTED FOODS: My first fermented food book: Truly Cultured

POST #800
Truly Cultured, by Nancy Lee Bentley, was the first book I bought on fermenting foods. I made my first sauerkraut following the recipe in the book (with the exception that I chose to add 2 capsules of New Chapter Probiotic All-Flora — I added the probiotics then, and I continue to add probiotics to my ferments because, when I began making nut cheeze, probiotics were recommended, and I experienced success, and, also, because everyone I spoke to said it was difficult to make sauerkraut, and that, in all likelihood, my first batch would fail.  To date, only one batch, the one I made without the probiotics, has failed).

Truly Cultured is an excellent introduction to making fermented/pickled/cultured foods. I count it among my go-to books on fermentation.

RAW VEGAN FERMENTED VEGETABLE RECIPES: Complete Idiot’s Guide to Fermenting Foods

POST #796
I’ve just added another book on fermenting raw vegetables, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Fermenting Foods, by Wardeh Harmon, to my collection.

As is most often the case with books on fermentation or culturing of foods, this book is not only for raw vegans.  The sections on Vegetables and Fruit, however, are about raw food culturing,  and the majority of the recipes in Non-Alcoholic Beverages, as well as many in the  Condiments  chapter, are also raw.

The first chapters, on the whys and hows,  of fermentation, and the tools to use are very educational.   Although the book recommends using whey (a dairy product) for its lactobacillus content, it also offers a raw vegan option (water kefir), and gives detailed instruction as to how to use the water kefir.  (I will probably just stick with throwing my New Chapter probiotics powder into the mix — it has always worked for me — the only ferment batch I’ve ever lost was the sauerkraut I forgot to put the probiotics in).

The recipes are clear and detailed enough that a neophyte could manage a successful ferment right off the bat.  

I will put this one on my go-to shelf, for sure, especially when I am thinking of trying something new.

FREE RAW VEGAN FOOD PREP E-BOOK GIVE-AWAY CONTEST

POST #755

Suzanne Kristin is holding a contest to  give away free raw vegan recipe books.  Check here to find out how to participate:

Kristin Suzanne Raw Vegan Recipe E-book Give-away Contest

Good luck!

CELERY DE-STRINGING TIP: too easy

Who knew de-stringing celery could be so simple?  (I must’ve left home before my super-cook mom had a chance to teach me this one!)

All you have to do is peel it with your vegetable peeler!

Here is the HOW-TO video from Chef Tina Jo.  I’d say this is one raw chef to follow closely.  With gems like this…..  I, personally, despise videos, but I may have to get over my distaste… this girl has some good ideas.