RSS

Category Archives: Things Edible

Stuff to eat.

Sun + Washington, WordPress + Windows Phone 7

My buddy Hal wanted to know if you can manage a WordPress Blog from WP7. The app i’m typing in promises just that… of course, the last two times i tries to submit my post with a photo attached over 3G, the app crashed and I lost everything… so lets try posting first and adding the photo later…

The wife and I celebrated sun in Washington with a trip to Fatburger. Nothing like seared meat and a tasty shake to bask with!

Posted from WordPress for Windows Phone

 
1 Comment

Posted by on June 5, 2011 in Things Edible, Things Geeky

 

Kombucha Me Baby

 

kombucha 001

 

Last summer I tried all sorts of lacto-fermented treats. I even started making beet kvass and milk kefir. But over this past winter I have discovered my favorite fermented beverage: kombucha.

I never caught on to the kombucha craze a couple of years ago. I thought it was just a hippie fad. But now that I have been making it and drinking it for the past few months, I am officially addicted.

Kombucha has all sorts of health benefits. It is made with a SCOBY-a Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeasts. These are the beneficial bugs that keep the harmful bugs-like e.coli and candida albicans-in their rightful place. Kombucha is also chock full of B vitamins as well as several acids that work to strengthen the body, most notably glucuronic acid, which is a natural detoxifier. Our bodies produce glucuronic acid in the liver to help flush toxins out, and it can be depleted by high levels of environmental toxins such as BPA, as well as alcohol consumption, so adding kombucha to your diet is one of the best ways to combat all the toxins in our modern environment.

kombucha 003kombucha 004

Kombucha scobies chillin’ like a villain

 

In order to brew kombucha, you need a scoby and some sweet tea. We got our scoby from a helpful craigslist poster-they reproduce quite readily, so if you find someone brewing it you can easily buy one off of them. Then make some strong black, green, or oolong tea. It can’t be a kind with essential oils, such as Earl Grey, and it can’t be herbal tea. The natural compounds and acidity of tea is what we want. I use plain black pekoe or a sencha green, or a mix of the two.

Steep your tea is boiling water for at least ten minutes. You want one tea bag (or one teaspoon loose-leaf tea) for each quart of water. After the tea has steeped, stir in 1/4 c of sugar per quart of water. Allow the tea to cool to body temp before adding the scoby. I have been using larger jars I got from goodwill that are 2-4 quarts each, so I will steep 2-3 tea bags in one quart of boiling water, then add 1/2 c sugar, then combine that with a quart of cold filtered water, which brings it to just the right temp and sweetness.

kombucha 002When you add the scoby, you will also need to add about 1/4 cup of kombucha from a previous batch. If you get a scoby from someone, they should have transported the scoby in some kombucha. If they neglected to do that, or you bought a dehydrated one, you can add raw apple cider vinegar. The important thing is to have the right acidity in the mix.

Now comes the hard part-you have to let the kombucha brew. Cover the jar with a thin towel and set in a warm dark place for 7-10 days. The scoby likes it around 72 degrees, so if you have a colder house, it may take longer to brew, or you might want to wrap the jar in a towel. A new scoby will begin to develop on the top of the kombucha. At first it will just look cloudy, and then a white film will form. This film will get thicker as the days pass, until it is a nice rubbery pancake floating on top of your tea goodness. When the brew is done, you can remove the new scoby and the old scoby (which will likely be stuck together) pour the finished kombucha into glass jars to be put in the fridge, and start the process again.

kombucha 001As you can see in the photo above, I like to put chunks of fruit in the bottom of my jars to flavor the kombucha. Here you see half a mango in a quart jar. I fill it with kombucha and then cap it tightly and allow it to sit out an extra day before moving it to the fridge. This intensifies the flavor and carbonates it slightly. The wait is well worth it. I’ve had fun with flavor combinations: berries, kiwi, mango, pear. You could even try some candied ginger or some fruit juice. Just don’t put more than an inch or so of fruit or juice in the bottom, to keep the ratios right.

Kombucha is refreshing, energizing, and most of all, delicious. It’s a fabulous alternative to all that HFCS-laden pop and juice drinks out there. The scoby eats up the sugar you feed it and gives you a tasty fizzy beverage in its place. I highly recommend adding it to your kitchen!

 

This post is part of Foodie Link Love

 
2 Comments

Posted by on March 26, 2011 in Things Edible

 

Tags: , ,

Willows Inn

A few bites into our meal at Willows Inn, Jer said, “Food shouldn’t be allowed to taste that good.” We weren’t even to the first course; the chef started everyone out with a few little ‘bites’ of delectable goodness: a small wooden box with two bites of luscious smoked salmon, tiny plates with fresh potato chips topped with black cod and naturally fermented sauerkraut (I asked the chef who brought it to us, it had been started in October) a piece of herb toast with browned butter and plum blossoms, and best of all, a pickled oyster. It was literally the best oyster I have ever had. And the evening had only begun.

According to the New York Times, the restaurant at Willows Inn is one of “10 Restaurants Worth a Plane Ride”.  We didn’t know this when we found the coupon on an online deal site. I checked out the description and loved the sound of the focus on local, sustainable ingredients, and the description of the Farmhouse Suite, equipped with a full kitchen that included a Wood Stone oven. I knew Jer would love the opportunity to use that oven to make pizza or bread, and I thought it was a great deal for a romantic weekend to celebrate the second anniversary of the day we met. So we booked the trip, packed our sourdough starter, and set out for Lummi Island, only a couple hours away.

We settled in to our suite and wandered around Nettles Farm, where most of the produce for Willows Inn is grown. The chickens were happy to have visitors, and we could see that the greenhouse was in use, and so looked forward to our meal. After a delicious cocktail we were seated and served our complimentary prosecco and starters. The waitress asked if we preferred the juice pairing or the wine pairing, and we decided to go with one of each.  Best decision ever.

First course was simply tender young turnips in a pork jus. Oh, but the jus. It soaked into the breadcrumbs topping the turnips and exploded in your mouth, taking you by complete surprise with its delicate yet complex flavor. The Pinot Gris that accompanied mine was excellent, but the celery juice that Jer had was our first clue that this juice pairing idea was sheer brilliance. Somehow the flavor married perfectly, as did each successive juice-carrot with the scallops and cabbage, green apple with the winter squash and black truffle, lingonberry with the steelhead salmon, and elder flower with the apple sorbet (topped with buttermilk foam and slices of licorice root).

Each course built upon the last while being delicious in its own right. The man certainly knows his seafood-the scallops were perfect, and the steelhead was such a delicate piece of work, you almost forgot it was a salmon. At the end of that course, we thought that there was no way that any dessert could possibly follow up on the parade of dishes, but the intense yet perfectly balanced flavors of apple and licorice with the buttermilk and sprigs of dill was the perfect finish.

It is amazing that someone with such a command of flavor, technique, and presentation could be so young. The chef Blaine Wetzel, a native of Olympia, trained at Noma, named the best restaurant in the world for 2010, but he is completely approachable. We chatted with him afterwards about his technique with the bread served between courses, how much we like sourdough starters and hot ovens, and our mutual struggles using spelt. We even exchanged recipe ideas, with him giving me a technique for spelt rolls in a muffin tin, and me suggesting sourdough cookies, which he had never heard of before.

The next day, while eating a delicious sandwich at Taproot Café, the other excellent eatery at the inn, we overheard the proprietor explaining to another diner that while he “serves dinner, Blaine serves an experience.” Yes indeed-an amazing culinary experience that I will not soon forget.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on March 21, 2011 in Things Edible

 

Tags: ,

Just Beet It

beet-root-bspGrowing up, I hated beets. They had a funny flavor, worse texture, and stained everything on your plate. Of course, the beets that I was eating came out of a can, so they can hardly be called beets. It wasn’t until I was an adult, out on my own and sharing an organic produce box with my roommates, that I discovered beets could actually be cooked in a tasty way.

I still wouldn’t list beets as my favorite vegetable, however. And when I first read in Nourishing Traditions about Beet Kvass, I put that recipe on the “probably won’t try” list. But the more I read about the benefits of this tonic, the more I realized that I should probably make it part of my kitchen routine.

What are these benefits? Besides being a lacto-fermented beverage providing loads of probiotics for healthy intestine function, beet kvass is a rich source of vitamins and minerals, a natural multivitamin, if you will. Most importantly, it supports the liver, which is sadly much abused in our modern world. The liver is our primary cleansing organ, filtering out the toxins in our food and the chemicals we are exposed to in our everyday life. When the liver gets overburdened with toxins, the body responds by either storing the toxins, causing long-term problems, or they look for other methods of getting rid of those toxins, such as through the skin. Acne and eczema can both be results of an overtaxed digestive system.

I can tell that drinking beet kvass regularly helps with my skin issues. If I am feeling itchy, a glass of kvass will calm my system. When I was ill over the holidays, my blood tests showed that my liver enzymes were elevated, a sign that my liver function was impaired. As soon as I got home I started drinking beet kvass every day, and when I went back to the doctor for my follow-up, my liver enzymes had begun to drop, and a few weeks later all my tests were normal.

It may take awhile to get used to the taste of kvass if you are not a fan of beets.  Sally Fallon admits that “you wouldn’t serve it to guests.” But I’ve found that I don’t mind the taste when it is mixed with filtered water or fresh juice or kombucha. And you can also add in carrots or ginger with the beets to give a different flavor if you like. The recipe is very simple, but it is truly worth your time.

 

Beet Kvass

from Nourishing Traditions

2 medium beets

1 Tbsp. sea salt

1/4 c homemade whey* (or an extra Tbsp. of salt)

 

Peel and chop beets into one inch chunks. Don’t cut it too small, or the fermentation will occur too quickly and it will turn alcoholic. Place beets with salt and whey in a quart mason jar and fill jar with filtered water. Cover and let sit on counter at room temperature 2-3 days, then transfer to refrigerator.

Drink a few ounces each day, either straight or mixed with filtered water. When most of the liquid is gone, refill the jar with water and let sit out on the counter for another 2 days, After the second batch, discard beets and start again.

If the kvass gets thick and slightly syrupy, that is normal-it means you have a good batch! Just thin it out with filtered water when you drink it.

 

*Homemade whey provides a starter culture and can be made from yogurt fairly easily. Line a sieve with cheesecloth or a coffee filter and place over a bowl. Put one cup of yogurt (whole, plain, with active cultures and no fillers) into the sieve and allow to drain for several hours or overnight. You will end up with whey in the bowl, and the yogurt will have become thick like Greek yogurt or a soft cream cheese.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 31, 2011 in Things Edible

 

Tags: , ,

When Life Gives You Peppers, Stuff ‘Em

Our CSA program is quite handy. Every week we get a box of fresh organic fruits and veggies delivered to our door.  It helps us eat seasonally and locally, and actually simplifies my meal planning. This winter, with my bounty of beef and salmon in the freezer, squash in the garage, and various preserved veggies in the pantry, all I have to do is check the upcoming bin contents for the week, skim a few cookbooks, pull out the meat to thaw, and my week is good to go.

I try to work with whatever the box brings, but occasionally I make use of the ability to submit substitution requests. Green peppers are a vegetable that almost never make it into the house.  They are not a favorite of Jer’s stomach or my tastebuds. But through some technical difficulties on the website, we have had two weeks since the beginning of the year that brought us green peppers to consume, so I had to decide what to make with them.

My grandma used to love making stuffed green peppers. I remember her baking whole trays of them and then keeping them individually wrapped in the fridge for her late-night snacks. Grandma and I used to compete for who would get home the latest-her coming from a prayer meeting or healing conference, and me coming from a Bible study or church party I was running. My mom would wait up for both us, and then we would all sit around and chat, eating our preferred snacks.  Mine varied, involving toast or cereal, or a couple slices of cheese, or sometimes just an entire head of steamed broccoli with butter.  Sadly, even though grandma offered, I never ate her green peppers.

Grandma isn’t here to give me her recipe, but I remembered the basics-seasoned ground beef, cooked rice, sauteed onions, all baked in the pepper with some parmesan cheese on top.  I used some leftover quinoa and added homemade salsa to the beef. It was pretty good. Then on the second green pepper delivery, Jer looked at our box and came up with a tastier version, which ended up being grain-free and full of good fats. He still had to take some digestive enzymes, and I didn’t finish my green pepper, but the filling was delicious. Next time you get some peppers, you should try it out.

Jer’s Stuffed Peppers

This can be adapted for as many people as you need-the proportions below are for each pepper.

One sweet pepper-green, or my favorite, yellow

olive oil

1/4 lb ground beef

1-2 Tbls finely diced onion

1 Tbls salsa

half an avocado, diced

1/4 c cheese , small dice (we like Tillamook from Oregon, because the cows spend some time on pasture, so the nutrient content is higher, but it is still economical)

Slice pepper in half and clean out stem and ribs. Brush lightly with oil and roast in oven for 20 mins at 400 degrees.  While it cooks, saute ground beef and onions. When beef is cooked through and onions are soft, add salsa, and any additional seasonings you would like-salt, pepper, garlic, hot sauce, etc.  When peppers are ready, remove from oven and turn on broiler. Mix cheese and avocado into the beef, then stuff filling into the peppers. Broil for 3-5 minutes until cheese is melted.  Serve with addtional salsa and cortido.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 21, 2011 in Things Edible

 

Tags: , ,

The Way We Were

The wonderful husband did me the greatest favor yesterday of moving all our blog posts from our old server here to the new one on wordpress. Our old server was only serving spam, so here we are. It was quite a trip reading the early entries of a year ago. While I was already working on my sourdough starter I had just barely begun to research natural health information and hadn’t even heard of Weston A Price. In one of my recipe posts I actually talked about how to make a muffin lowfat, something I shudder at now. These days I am always looking for more ways to get more good fats (and the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K) into my diet, to help my skin and blood sugar.

2010 was definitely a year of learning and growing in the kitchen. Here’s just a quick list of some of the changes:

From yeast breads to natural sourdough

All purpose flour to whole wheat, sprouted wheat and sprouted spelt

Quick recipes to soaked baked goods to increase nutrition

Found sources for pastured eggs and grass-fed meat, even buying a quarter cow (and the freezer to hold it!)

Started rendering lard and using coconut oil

Learned how to can and preserve our organic produce

Dabbled in our own bit of backyard gardening

Learned how to make cultured vegetables and other fermented foods

Stopped buying toxic beauty products and started making my own

I’m really looking forward to expanding my traditional cooking skills this year, now that I have a solid foundation. I’ve been trying out more fermented foods, and want to start making my own kombucha soon. While this way of eating is a little more work, it’s a lot of fun for me to learn and experiment, and there is a deep satisfaction in knowing that I am providing wonderful healthy food for my family. Ultimately I hope to look back on these early years and chuckle at my newbie mistakes and rejoice in the legacy of health that we have created.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on January 5, 2011 in Things Edible

 

Chocolate Cream Pie

My brother doesn’t like pie.

Well, I should clarify. I have four younger brothers, a pack of big lovable brutes, and the oldest of the four (who turns 21 next weekend, oh-em-gee) dislikes pie. If we are all having pie and ice cream, he will just have the ice cream, even if the pie is Mom’s perfectly cooked apple pie, for which she is famous.

The only pie that turns this brother on is chocolate cream pie. It makes sense-it’s sort of like chocolate ice cream in pie form, something between cheesecake and pudding, both of which he does enjoy. Our family holiday tradition has been to include a chocolate cream pie every year at Thanksgiving and/or Christmas. In years past this has meant standing over a saucepan stirring boxed pudding mix into milk, and then pouring into a prebaked pie shell. But I knew I could do better than that. With my foray into the world of real food and slightly more sophisticated cooking, I could leave the pudding box with its ingredient list of scary chemicals in the dust.

So I did some searching through recipes and blog posts and finally decided to try a decadent-looking mousse recipe from Orangette. Molly knows her chocolate, and I figured the mousse would do just as well in a pie shell as in a teacup. I tinkered with the recipe a little, to give it my own flair, and just to gild the lily a bit I brushed the baked pie shell with chocolate ganache, which I then chilled before spooning in the mousse. It’s a little thing, but it takes the whole package right over the edge.

Despite the multiple steps, this is actually a very simple and easy recipe, and depending on the quality of chocolate you get, it’s not too unhealthy. There is very little added sugar and the focus is on the chocolate, eggs, and cream. While I wouldn’t recommend it as an everyday menu item, if you use good ingredients you can certainly enjoy this as part of your next celebration, without too much guilt.

Chocolate Cream Pie

Pie shell:

1 1/4 c flour (I use 3/4 c whole wheat pastry and 1/2 c all-purpose)

1/2 tsp each salt and sugar

1 stick cold butter + 2 Tbls lard (or just more butter)

1 Tbls liquid whey (optional, but it helps break down the flour, making it more tender and digestible)

1/4-1/2 c cold water

A food processor makes pie crust easy: Pulse flour, salt, and sugar with the butter and lard until fat is pea-sized. Then mix whey into 1/4 c cold water and add slowly, pulsing until dough starts to come together.  Use more water if needed. Form dough into a disk, wrap, and chill overnight. The next morning, roll out, press into pie plate, and bake 15-20 min  at 375 or until golden.

Ganache:

Mix about half a cup of chopped chocolate-dark, semi-sweet, or bittersweet-with about 1/4 c heavy cream. Melt and stir until smooth, then spread on the baked pie crust. Chill while you prepare the mousse.

Mousse:

8 oz bittersweet chocolate (the first time I made this, I only had semisweet chocolate chips on hand, and it turned out fine. But the second I used a nice Callebaut baking chocolate, and the difference was worth it)

2 Tbsp cocoa powder

1 tsp instant espresso or very finely ground dark coffee

1/4 tsp cinnamon

5 Tbsp water

1 Tbsp bourbon (Molly uses whiskey or brandy, but we only ever have bourbon and scotch around here)

2 pastured eggs, separated

2 tsp  sugar, divided

1/8 tsp salt

1 c plus 2 Tbsp heavy cream

Combine chocolate, cocoa, espresso, water, and bourbon in a double boiler or a glass bowl set over a small saucepan of simmering water.  Melt chocolate, stirring frequently, until mixture is smooth and glossy.

Remove from heat. Whip egg yolks with 1 tsp sugar and 1/8  tsp salt until slightly thickened, about a minute. Combine egg yolks and chocolate slowly, whisking constantly to prevent the eggs from scrambling. When chocolate is again smooth, set aside and turn to the egg whites. Beat them with the other 1 tsp of sugar in a stand mixer until soft peaks form. Molly recommends detaching the whisk and bowl from the mixer and using the whisk to scrape up any unbeaten egg whites from the bottom, then using the whisk to mix about 1/4 of the egg whites into the chocolate. Then use a large spatula to gently fold in the rest of the egg whites, until they are mostly incorporated and only a few streaks remain.

Using the same bowl and whisk, beat the cream in the stand mixer to soft peaks. Again, use a spatula to gently fold  the whipped cream into the chocolate, until fully incorporated. The mousse will be very soft and have turned a lovely light chocolatey color. Spoon into the pie shell and chill, at least two hours but overnight is best. Serve with lightly sweetened whip cream.

There you have it-a much tastier and healthier answer to the desire for chocolate cream pie. Next year I’ll have to tackle the other pie that used the boxed pudding: lemon. I’m sure with some fresh lemon juice and pastured eggs we can turn that one into a real food dessert as well!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 27, 2010 in Things Edible

 

Tags: ,

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.