Tag Archives: EQUIPMENT

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.

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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.

CRAZY SEXY KITCHEN: Kris Carr’s great new recipe book

Post #852
I received Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Kitchen today. (I have followed Kris Carr pretty much since she started an Internet presence talking about nutrition as a way to overcome cancer, which is one of my interests as a nutrition consultant).

I was pleasantly surprised that this book contains so many interesting raw recipes that I haven’t seen anywhere else (lately, that is my new bellwether: how many times have I seen this idea with one ingredient change, or, is this something new or incredibly innovative?). Even among the cooked recipes, there is often a suggestion as to how to make them raw.

Although the book is co-written by Chad Sarno, a chef in his own wright, a number of other chefs have contributed recipes to it.

Notably, quite a few of the raw recipes look like things I can envision myself putting together in the near future (oh, if you don’t know me, that is pretty much the highest accolade I know how to give to a collection of raw recipes – I am really old school, and, also, a really lazy eater, so, if something looks enticing, and it looks like something that I would be willing to spend time eating, and I think I might actually be willing to put in the time to make it, that wins the blue ribbon). There are also a number of interesting and delicious-looking vegan but non-raw recipes, which would make this a very good book for those who might be transitioning to either a vegan or a raw vegan diet.

Aside from the recipes, one of the things I really liked about this book was the initial sections about food preparation equipment, starting from knife descriptions (this is always my favorite, as my first “food processor” was my beautiful knife, which I still have) and going through just about everything, including dehydrators; and methods for cutting (this is like a mini chef-prep course by itself).

By me, this is one of the best new vegan/raw vegan books out there. Despite my initial reservations, I’m glad I made the leap of faith and got it

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!

VACATION TIME! I’m going down South to the Outer Banks of North Carolina!

POST #837
I’m going on vacation at the end of next week — yea!!!!!

I will be taking a 10-hr train trip down South, to meet up with my parents in Virginia Beach and then continue on to the Outer Banks in North Carolina (where I’ll be is just down the road from the road from where the Wright brothers made their historic first airplane flight — there’s a cool museum there.  It is also down the road from the largest sand dune in America.  Then, too, it is a few miles away from that wonderful house that starred in the Richard Gere movie, Nights in Rodanthe
which was based on the lovely book, Nights in Rodanthe,
by Nicholas Sparks.

I am planning to to pack a food bag with some fresh sauerkraut, and some of the other fermented vegetables I have in the fridge from last week’s bout (I hope I have some left when I get there, so I can show them off to my mom).  I want to make some kale chips because they are so good — again, I hope some will last so I can show them to my mom.  I’m ready – I have the red bell pepper, the cashews, the garlic, the chili powder, and, I think I have the onion powder (hope hope) — I do need to fetch some lemons.

Traveling raw requires a bit more pre-thinking than just packing.  I’m also thinking of making some crackers (haven’t done that in a really long time). Almond/corn/flax crackers are always my favorite, but I might make some sunflower seed crackers as well, from my first cracker recipe (gosh! I haven’t made up that recipe in years, but now it calls to me)    

Sounds like I’m going to be a bit busy this weekend.

Will I have space to pack clothes?

It’s all good! I’ll be on an island 25 miles out to sea. (It looks like there are no hurricanes to interrupt my idyllic vacation).  If it’s warm enough, Mom and I will spend some time on the beach.  If it isn’t, I’ll just spend some time on the beach by myself, looking for shells and stones and sea glass to make jewelry.  I’ll get up early in the morning to watch the sun rise over the ocean  from the veranda (yes, we have a veranda!) That is my favorite part of this vacation that I take every year with my parents.  At some point, Mom and I will probably go shopping at the outlet mall.  We might also work on a project for Mom’s church’s pre-Christmas bazaar (past projects have included making and decorating creche scenes and making sea glass jewelry with sea glass that my mother collected in Cuba).  

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.