Category Archives: LIFE

08/15/13 CSA SHARE: What they said and what we got

What they said and what we got:

Yellow Baby Watermelon –      1 pc 2 tiny baby watermelons
Potatoes OR Green Beans –       1 qt or 1/2 lb. bag green beans
Cucumbers – 5 pcs                      8 cucumbers
Baby Leeks – 1 bun                      1 sm. bun leeks
Red Beets – 1 bun                         X
Tomato – 1 pc                               2 tomatoes, 1 big one, one small one

I kept almost everything this time. After a glance into the “trade box”, since most people had discarded their cucumbers, I decided to trade in my small bunch of leeks for 8 big cucumbers – I can make a couple of my favorite cucumber dishes and also ferment a couple of jars worth.

I was disappointed to not get the beets, as I was looking forward to some beet salad this week. Oh well.
Glad to have the green beans, because I can experiment with my green bean gadget recommended by Raw Nouveau. (I’ll let you know that goes)

All in all — YUMM! Good food to eat this week!

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THE LOCAVORE’S HANDBOOK

POST #943
I think I bought The Locavore’s Handbook: the Busy Person’s Guide to Eating Local on a Budget,  by Leda Meredith, by accident – I was looking for books by Wildman Steve Brill, and books on foraging in New York City. Nevertheless, I am happy to have it – I inhaled it in one day!

Meredith is a New Yorker, and she mostly gives information as to how to organize one’s life to eat local as much as possible, in order to reduce one’s carbon footprint – that said, she does give hints as to where you might look if you are in another part of the country. (The basics will apply if you live in another country, as well, but you will just have to find your own way to the resources).

I’ll admit that, on differing levels, I knew most of this information (as I said, I bought this book by accident), but Meredith addresses a number of issues which are near and dear to my heart – I live in a tiny New York City apartment, and she suggests storage ideas that I might not have thought of.

Meredith is not a raw foodist, or even a vegetarian, but I think we are all grown up enough that we can read books and get what we need from them. She talks extensively about foraging, community gardening, CSAs, food coops, food preservation (another topic near and dear to my heart) and home organization issues. In my reading, I have gotten quite a few ideas about how I can reorganize my kitchen and apartment to include more storage space.

If you are interested in eating local or organic, and/or if you live in a tiny New York apartment,  and you want to organize a locavore/vegan/raw vegan kitchen, this is the book for you. It’s really good.

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

My Healthy Homesteader Training Experience

POST #918
It’s time I mention that I am involved in an on-line Tera Warner course called Healthy Homesteader.   Many of the things covered in this training are things I already know about (dehydrating, storage, sprouting, soaking nuts and seeds) or don’t intend to do (select meat, cook). Still, it is good to have to take the time to think about who I am and what I want to do in my kitchen (I have to keep a journal), and correspond with Kinderly, my course mentor (not sure what she calls herself exactly, but mentor seems to do the trick) about my homework (Yes, I have to do homework, too). Kinderly is a hoot!  No matter what I say, she comes right back at me with a serious dose of positivity and encouragement (I think she must be cracking up with every homework assignment I send to her- that, or else, she pities me mightily for trying to “homestead” in a New York City apartment with only 2 windows that get sunlight)

So far, we’ve covered cookware; knives and knife techniques; food storage; food combining; herbs and spices; soaking grains, nuts, and seeds; and setting up a drying station.

The part where I have gotten stuck is on the latest two lessons, which are about foraging.  Here in New York City, there are only the city parks for foraging, and I have been deathly afraid of those parks for the past 25 years (I’ve only ever gone to Central Park 4 times, and I have only been to Riverside Park once in all that time.)  I know that people go into our many parks all the time, but, for certain reasons, I am terrified of them.  So, with this lesson, I realized that I have to take some sort of action, regardless of the anxiety.  I’ve exchanged emails with Wildman Steve Brill , who runs foraging tours of the city parks, and am poised to possibly sign up for his next foraging tour into Central Park.  Oh, I am excited.  Mr. Brill is well-known in New York City (he must be, if even I have heard of him), and he was very welcoming and generous when I contacted him, so I feel as comfortable as I am going to about this upcoming new experience.

Then, on the Facebook communication page for my training, I found mention of this Foraging Prayer (from Holly Drake at wildblessing.com) :

My Foraging Prayer

Lord, open my eyes to behold wonderful things from Your world this day.  Psalms 119:18

Unlock just one more of Your secrets in hidden places for me.  Isaiah 45:3

Show me something that I can safely eat and prepared for my well-being and for those I love. Psalms 145:15-16

Teach me to be a wise woman who is in tune with your creation cycles, and the movement of Your Spirit.  Ecclesiastes 3:1, 11

Fill me with awe of Your magnificence, Your creativity, and Your goodness, vrom the shy violets on the forest floor to the stars that You breathed into existence and call by name.  Isaiah 40:25-28

May I never worship the creation but rather the Creator and Sustainer of all.  Romans: 1:20-24

Enlighten my mind with timeless truths that Your creation patiently proclaims to any who will be still long enough to listen.  Colossians 1:17

Bring my senses back from slumber to be fully awakened to each smell, texture, taste, nuance of shape and color, and even the faintest stirrings of life.  Psalms 46:10

Restore to me my heritage from generations of my forebears, who walked Your earth knowledgeable of Your bounty, and who reveled intimeately in Your presence.  Psalms 145:5

May every forage into the ‘green’ draw my heart closer to Yours.  Psalms 105:3

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)

YOUNG THAI COCONUT – I dream of a frozen or dried option

POST #876
Many of us do not have easy access to young Thai coconuts, even though so .many raw recipes call for them.   I dream that, some day soon, someone will come up with a way to market frozen or dried young Thai coconut flesh, so that we can all have a chance to try out all of those delicious-sounding recipes.

I mean, how hard could it be to set up a factory similar to those which produce dried coconut and coconut water and coconut milk, to extract young Thai coconut from its shell and freeze it, or else dehydrate it, for use in food preparation?  It would seem, to me, at least, that such a venture would be cheaper, ultimately, than importing whole young Thai coconuts, which can go bad in a short time.  Such a production plant/factory could be established in a place where the coconuts grow, providing employment for local people (oh, green! oh, free market! oh, fair trade!), and still provide a competitive product for sale in Europe and North America (I say North America because I have seen, and partaken of young coconuts in South America, although they were not called “Thai” coconuts there.)

OPENING CEREMONY: You can’t always get what you want

POST #867
OPENING CEREMONY this afternoon.

IT’S A GO!
The cranberry sauce I made from the cranberry pulp left over after I made cranberry juice came out very well.  I tried a spoonful, then spooned out about a cup on the plate and inhaled it. Yumm!  This stuff is too good to share. It’s mine, all mine!  I’ll make some more as soon as I get some oranges.

The butternut squash came out rather spicy, but, mixed with my fresh lentil sprouts, it was delicious.  I’ll use it as an ingredient, not as a dish on its own, and the next time I make it, I will go a lot easier on the jalapenos.  It is good enough that I’ll mix it with lentil sprouts and take it to a potluck party this coming weekend.

The sauerkraut is good, but somehow I made it too salty. How did I do that? No clue – I am very parsimonious with salt.  I am going to leave it another week to see if it gets better.  It is still good, just saltier than I would like it to be.

Mmmm.  Well, this is the first time I have opened up stuff that I haven’t absolutely loved right off the bat.  Actually, this is the first time I have made any foodstuff that I did not like. (I guess it had to happen sooner or later.)

I’M BLUE
The cranberry sauce that I made from the recipe I got from a book was not the best stuff I have ever eaten.  For some reason, it lost all its color, and had little taste. I’m not even sure there is anything I can do with it, other than throw it out.

 This is the first time I tried fermenting mushrooms, and it will be the last. First, the mushrooms really do shrink down to very little. That wouldn’t be a problem if I like the texture or the taste.  I did a jar of portobellos and a jar of criminis, and I didn’t like either.  I’ll probably stick these in some soup where they might hide from me.