Tuesday, May 15, 2018

lovage and potato soup

I got some lovage at the farmers market and wasn't sure what to do with it.  I found this recipe and it is SO GOOD. 

Lovage and potato soup
2 T. unsalted butter
1 cup thinly sliced leeks, or two onions, chopped
2 lbs. potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
1 cup loosely packed lovage leaves, chopped (or less - I used about 1/2 c. because that's all the bunch was, and it was good
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste (a lot of both)

Melt the butter in a soup pot. Add the leeks or onion and saute at a fairly low heat until very soft and beginning to brown, which could take up to twenty minutes, probably less for leeks.

Add the potato slices and stock. Simmer the soup, uncovered, until the potatoes are very soft, 20 to 30 minutes. With a wire whisk, gently whisk the potatoes to break them up (how much is up to you). Now add the chopped lovage leaves and simmer until they are tender. Smaller, younger leaves take less time than larger, older leaves, so how long this will take is variable. Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

dandelion greens

At the farmers market, the meat folks had dandelion greens for $1.  How exciting!  She said she usually puts them in a salad so I used this one here which uses citrus.

It's ok.  I was hoping for more bitter.

I think that I will sautee them in the future.  Not much, just a little, but they're a little tough and don't have much flavor. 

Monday, April 23, 2018

fermentation notes

I just returned from the incredible experience of spending several days fermenting with Sandor Katz (read his books if you haven't).  I lucked out and am so grateful.  I learned so much about fermentation and food in general, but also from his kindness and generosity to strive to be a better person myself.  "I feel like blueberry wine," I told him.  "I've all this sugar/information to process and ferment through, and then I'll need to come back for racking." 

So, I'm putting my notes here for easy referring back.  And I do hope that I have the privilege of meeting him again someday.

Koji - this was interesting but I didn't pay too much attention because it's mostly for sake and that's not something I'm very interested in.  Also it's good for other things such as miso and shiyo koji, but I'm at a basic fermentation level and that will be a later stage. 

Kimchi - we made this with daikon radishes and napa cabbage.  Use the core of that cabbage, and the daikon are really great.  Just the vegetables get brined - spices are added later, not brined.  I was out of the room when he talked about the flour mix, so I'll need to look up the process on his blog.  The Korean chili powder makes it great. 

Sandor made an amazing kimchi soup and the flavor that really struck me was gochujang.  I need to get some of that myself.

Another really big hit with the class was pao cai, Chinese style fermented vegetables.  They were awesome!  Mala Market was suggested as a source for Szechuan peppercorns (red and green).  Other things added were ginger, bay, cinnamon sick, malt sugar, slat, galangal.  Really it's worth trying.  Sandor added licorice root and he and others really liked that but I would probably do it without.  The first batch in the crock will take awhile to ferment (a week or so), but then you can remove those and add new vegetables (again the daikon and other radishes were awesome) and get new tasty ones in just 24 hours or so.  This is not included in his books but he thinks he has a blog post about it.

I picked his brain about okra and collards.  HE said why not just ferment okra whole like a sauerkraut and can be with other vegetables.  He suggested that collards not be fermented alone as they will give a very strong flavor, but may be better in a 1:2 ratio with cabbage.  He also gave me some collards cooking tips because he is also a really good cook.

We put a lot of grains to ferment, such as rice and lentils for dhosa and teff for injera and black-eyed peas for acaraje' (soak 8-24 hours, drain, blend into batter in blender, let set again in a big jar to ferment overnight, then fry up - a common Brazilian dish).  These are in his books and they were all super tasty.

Something that blew my mind was a buckwheat bread which is in his books but is ... mindblowing.  3 cups of raw buckwheat to soak, with salt, and it gets really mucilaginous.  After soaking overnight drain and then grind it up.  Heavily grease the pans and with seeds; let it rise again about 2 hours in warm place.  Bake about an hour at 350 degrees, leave in pans 10 minutes to cool. kind of

He used a wet stone grinder - Ultra Perfect - but  kept telling us that it's not really that necessary to buy an additional device and that he used a blender and a food processor for years.

Another bread was the Sonnenblumenkernbrot in his book.  It was super tasty but the regular folding seemed a lot to me.  My usual method of heavy kneading and flour adding would make it drier, Sandor says, but I might be ok with trying that because it's my nature.  He added a bunch of fermented millet porridge and other such things and it was very good. 

Tempeh kind of blew all of our minds because fresh is completely different from the frozen you buy in the store AND it doesn't have to be soybeans!  Who knew?!  We made ours from soybeans and black rice and it was incredible, especially fried up in coconut oil.  Soybeans need to be cracked (hulls removed), and there are some different methods in his books.  Grain can be added, he did cooked rice at 1:1 ratio.  Airflow and humidity are important and he has an old refrigerator converted into an incubator that makes it easily controlled, but it's not necessary.  Sandwich bags with holes punched in them work to process them, and we also used some banana leaves.  Starter can be bought on-line.  I think his is from The Farm, or he used to get it from there.  I will probably get it from Short Mountain Cultures because they are delightful there and really love their tempeh ("my babies," said Simmer).  

Yogurt - yes, you do need to denature the proteins, so heat it up about 180 degrees and then let it cool to about 115 degrees.  Again, less is more, so he just uses 1 tsp per quart of milk.  Pull some of the milk out and mix the starter in, then pour into the jars and put into an incubation chamber, which in his case was a small cooler with hot water (best at 115 degrees).  Oven with pilot light, crockpot, etc. - they all work.  Check the water and add more hot if it dips below 110.  "Yog" for 4-8 hours (or I do overnight).  Some suggest leaving it out for a few hours before refrigerating, as well.  I forget all the story of his starter but he got it abroad and brought it back dried on a handkerchief, which he had read of immigrants doing.  It's really good, super tangy, and as a heritage starter won't lose efficacy like using a supermarket yogurt as starter does.  I'm excited to have that regularly for breakfast. 

Sourdough - he taught us how to make it from scratch and throughout the time together we also used his starter that he had first made 25 or so years ago (and which I took some of).  The key notes are: fresh milled rye starts a starter off strong.  Less is more - use less starter when mixing up for refreshing - minimum of 5% and max of 40%.  If stored in the fridge, take out a couple of days before and give it a few high proportion feedings (little starter, much flour and water).  Sandor seemed to always use whole grain flour for feeding, though I don't think that's necessary.  Feed the starter every day or two.

He discussed lightly fermented beverages such as kombucha and sweet potato fly (don't really need whey to make, unlike he says in his books).  I like the idea of sweet potato fly and I enjoy drinking it, but I don't make or drink many sweet drinks (though I do keep water kefir going). 

Chevre - Sandor's boyfriend, Shopping Spree, one evening brought a gallon of fresh goat milk that we made into chevre.  It was heated to 90 degrees then cooled to room temperature; kefir grains were used and rennet (see book). It was mixed in a big pan and left overnight; then the cheese was removed and the whey became the subject of endless puns.  Chopped up chives and salt/pepper complete it.  It was super tasty to have on bread on my way out the door the final morning.

We didn't talk a lot about sauerkraut because everyone knows how to make that.  He has an enormous vat in his cellar where he makes it each November (lots of daikon, which is something I want to plant for sure) and distributes it until May, when it starts to heat up and will turn bad.  He said it is possible to ferment with meat, but suggests fermenting just vegetables for a few days first, before adding any meat.  He puts whole vegetables in the big vat and they are very tasty!

We talked about alcoholic beverages which isn't something I plan to do right away.  Something that did catch my attention was coffee tejj which I may need to try.  We spent time with country wine and tried some blueberry wine from last year and two years ago and they were very good - the 2-year-old ready to be bottled, and we racked the other one.  For the blueberry wine, the sugar: water ratio is usually around 1:4 but if the fruit is sweet then can be 1:6 or 1:8.  He fills the crock about 2/3 full of fruit.  It was pretty tasty.

He mentioned "stuck fermentation" which is something I need to look up if things just aren't progressing properly.

For vinegar, one that caught my attention was banana vinegar.  Take an overripe banana, peel, mash (add nothing) - it will turn into vinegar.  Stir it around every day as it liquefies then strain out solids, and put in bowl with cloth over the top (not metal).

An article he mentioned that I want to read is "From Kefir to Death" by Lynn Margulis.

The main things I learned from my days with Sandor Katz: label everything, always.  Stir a lot and especially with alcohol, think of it like a vortex (stir around edges).  Eat a lot of leafy greens.  Farting is natural and nothing to be ashamed of (that was just about the only time I heard him correct somebody and give a speech).  Appreciate things. Be kind and patient.

If you want more of Sandor:

Sunday, April 8, 2018

frittata with sundried tomatoes and artichoke hearts and feta

This has been pretty wildly successful (and I plan to make it tomorrow evening), so I need to jot it down.  From here, with some modifications.

  • 6 eggs
  • 3 tbsp whole milk, cream, or half and half
  • 10 sun dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 8 artichoke hearts 
  • a green onion 
  • 1 large handful of fresh spinach or whatever is in the garden (kale, swiss chard, etc.)
  • Feta cheese crumbles, 4 oz
  • Salt and pepper
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Use butter to coat the baking dish.  (I used a 9 1/2" oval baking dish.)
  • Finely chop sun dried tomatoes and artichoke hearts and sundried tomato.
  • Whisk together eggs, milk and salt and pepper.
  • Place chopped vegetables and greends at the bottom of the baking dish and pour eggs to cover.
  • Sprinkle with feta cheese crumbles.
  • Cover pan with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil covering and continue baking for about 25 more minutes or until middle of egg dish is fully cooked.*
  • The edges of the frittata should be golden brown and slightly crispy.
*Wish I'd remembered to put this down when I remembered how long it took to cook. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

keto/paleo ideas

So, I went to see a TCM doctor with a whole list of maladies, and he was all, "Look, here's the problem: insulin.  You get that under control and all your problems will go away."  And, I'm not sure he's wrong, so I'm going to give it a go.  But I have a few trips away coming up and so I'm going to slowly ease into it - not buying more high-carb stuff, not baking more bread, etc.  The doctor's way of living this way is five days "good" and two days "bad" but I already know that doesn't work well for me so I'll figure it out.

So this also gives me time to think through some good ideas to plan for once I get into it.  I'll compile a list here to refer back to.  I'm already in a good groove with total responsibility for my food choices - cooking it all myself. 

1. green chicken from Nom Nom Paleo - https://nomnompaleo.com/post/7486821187/my-sisters-phenomenal-grilled-green-chicken.

2.  this chicken-cabbage salad I make.  I'll probably keep some carrots in there despite them being "bad" root vegetables.  There's no fat in it so that would need to accompany it somehow.  http://hojtnd.blogspot.com/2009/09/chicken-cabbage-salad.html

3.  5 things to do with collard greens here - http://www.eatnakednow.com/5-things-to-do-with-collard-greens/.  Especially a bed of sauteed collards with a London broil.  Or salmon.

4. slow cooker caccitiore - https://www.marksdailyapple.com/slow-cooker-chicken-cacciatore/

5. chicken salad (I got from Whole30 cookbook) - like this but without fruit - https://www.jaysbakingmecrazy.com/2016/07/11/paleo-whole30-chicken-salad/

6.  zucchini scrambled eggs

7. spaghetti squash with marinara and ground beef (or a healthy sausage)

8.  grilled tuna salad - https://www.dietdoctor.com/recipes/grilled-tuna-salad-with-garlic-dressing (this seems like a great site)

9.  taco casserole - https://www.ruled.me/keto-taco-casserole/

All this makes me try to figure out my rules.  I know I need high fat, low carb to give it a go.  So while the doctor said no fruit, I'll allow berries some.  He said no yogurt but when I did research it shows that the carb load of whole fat especially strained yogurt is actually fine.  Probably not much cheese but other dairy I'll probably have, like cottage cheese and cream. 

Monday, March 19, 2018


Ran into an acquaintance at the grocery store who was raving about a spring tonic with cleavers.  I'd never heard of the plant but as soon as I looked it up I knew exactly what it was.  And it's in my backyard.  And all around.

Wanting to get in on the lymphatic cleansing, I picked a bunch and put it in a quart jar to steep overnight. 

Here is more info.  And here. In early summer I want to remember to make a tincture as this could be a quite useful thing to have around. 

Monday, March 12, 2018

kusherie (a reasonable portion)

One of my favorite meals is a rice/lentil/tomato/onion/yogurt dish that I got many years ago from the More with Less cookbook by the Mennonite Central Committee, submitted by missionaries in Egypt.

Ignore what I think of missionary work.  The food is good.

But the size of the final dish is overwhelming and can barely be eaten by me with the help of chickens and dogs. 

So, I'm tweaking it to make it smaller.  Reasonable.  Like 3-4 meals worth.  And also using brown rice, because I've rediscovered my taste for that.

WArning, this will make you need to do a lot of dishes. 

Pot #1:
Heat oil in large pan and then add 3/4 c. lentils.  Brown them for about 5 minutes, stirring often. 

Add in 3/4 c. rice and stir to brown a bit. 

Then add 2 c. chicken stock or water (with some salt if necessary and a bit of pepper). 

Bring it to a boil and then reduce heat to low, cover, and let it cook without stirring for 40 minutes.

Pot #2:
1 can tomato sauce
a squeeze of tomato paste
celery leaves
1/2 green pepper if on hand (I never have one)
 1/2 T. sugar
1/4 tsp. sale
1 t. cumin
dash of cayenne

Bring ot boiling and then reduce heat and let it simmer 20-30 minutes.

Pan #3:
Heat oil in skillet, add:
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic

Cook slowly to let them caramelize. 

All together:

Serve with rice/lentils on bottom with tomato sauce over it and then browned onions, topped with yogurt.