Friday, January 7, 2011

change promise fudge

That's my version of Eat Pray Love.

I haven't even reported back about my liquor infusions, and here I am quitting alcohol! These are basil vodka, plum vodka, cherry vodka, cucumber sake, and elderberry vanilla vodka. Later I made peach and watermelon vodka for a garden party: summer in a jar.

Before the New Year rolled around, we'd already been talking about making big changes in our lives:
  • moving someplace warm
  • finding satisfying work
  • taking classes
  • making TIME
My past lives have included long, glorious evenings that elude me now, evenings that had space for hanging out with friends, long and lazy meals, reading, team sports, walks, wandering in the garden; evenings that were five or so hours long and felt five hours long. I'm determined to get those back.

We'd already made these commitments to change, and then we hit a deer with our car. This experience kicked off another round of thinking about control: what to take control of and direct, and what to let go of because I can't control. Thinking may actually be the wrong word since it became the focus in less than a second during our car accident. Resolutions? Clarity?

I think of my veganism as an example of moving anthills into a line that points to my desired outcome. I can't close down feedlots or slaughterhouses, but I can be completely sure they never see a penny of mine by eschewing animal products repeatedly, throughout every day.

And now the deer. We'd killed someone and could have been seriously hurt ourselves.

I immediately re-commited to our quest for warmth, for ocean, for open time and space. I felt motivated to work on our house so that we'll be able to rent it and move. Seeing the body of the deer we killed torn apart and scattered made me think (among other things) about my body and its fragility. I immediately quit caffeine and alcohol to try and get my migraines under control. I started eating a lot more raw food wanting to shed anything unnecessary, weight and waste, but also streamlining preparation. I feel like I'm seeing a bit more clearly, and I want that to continue.

These are the plums after they've been fished out of the finished vodka. Plum vodka was a clear winner in flavors, but the plums themselves are STRONG. They kind of taste like a seriously alcoholic fruitcake.

A lot of the food I've been eating is so simple that the preps can't really be called recipes. But one raw fudge recipe that a friend shared for Christmas is really a recipe, a magical sweet that makes candy seem ridiculous. This fudge knows important facts:
  • Great things are often simple things.
  • The most important ingredient in sweets is salt.
The recipe is Sarma's of Pure Food and Wine. It came to me via fancy pants designer Matthew Robbins. It takes a couple of minutes to prepare, and one batch goes a long way. I'm told that the paddle on a Kitchen Aid makes mixing a breeze, but a big old spoon did the job just fine.
Raw Freezer Fudge
  • 2 c raw almond butter
  • 1/4 c cocoa powder sifted
  • 1/2 c + 2 T maple syrup
  • 1 heaping T coconut butter
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 1 t coarse sea salt
It's important to use the best and creamiest almond butter you can get your hands on. If you get one that doesn't have enough oil to be pliant, add extra coconut butter.

Mix thoroughly. Sarma flattens it all into a pan then cuts it into 1 inch cubes. Matthew flattens it into paper candy cups, for single servings. I don't have candy cups, just cupcake size papers, so I roll little balls in my hands, flatten them, and put each one its own cupcake paper. Go pack fudge!
by Wendy MacNaughton

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Constant Kale Salad

At this time last year we were doing the first winter C.S.A. distributions. Some people were thrilled to get sweet fall kale, and others grumbled, complaining that there was always more kale than anyone was interested in eating. Brussels were a contested item, too, but there were more than a few converts when members shared a recipe for roasting them with a touch of maple syrup.

I get this and I don't. I love kale every which way and every day, and eat it straight off the plant. But I understand, too. I don't love broccoli rabe as much as the rest of the world, so get that some bitters need just the right ingredients combined with them to be palatable for some.

My latest favorite way to eat kale is a combination of two other kale recipes I love, one lightly cooked with pine nuts and cranberries, and one raw with lemon, garlic, and agave (like they serve at Bonobo's).

My new fave is raw, fast, and skips the agave. I often skip the garlic, too. It tastes delicious, looks absolutely beautiful, and is one of those foods that makes you feel invigorated rather than putting you to sleep. Make it with purple kale for special occasions!

Raw Lemon Kale Salad
  • Two bunches of curly kale
  • One lemon
  • 1/3 c dried cranberries
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 seriously tiny clove of garlic
Remove the kale leaf spines, and slice the leaves into narrow ribbons. Bruise the leaves by squeezing handfuls. Do this until the bulk of the kale reduces by half. Mince the garlic and mix it with the juice of the lemon, the oil, and the cranberries. Stir into the kale (well) and let the mixture sit at room temperature for at least fifteen minutes. Tastes best served at room temperature.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Kimchi Pancakes

Yup, that there is vegetarian kimchi with a clever emphasis on ginger and fresh chilies, and garlic downplayed.
It's much like having to finish meals as a kid because of starving kids in China: you really ought to be enjoying lots of kimchi because people in South Korea are freaking out over their shortage.
As promised at our kimchi shindig, we'll be posting a bunch of great recipes here that use kimchi. (If you're making your own kimchi, there are a zillion recipes available for that, too.)

Let's start with KIMCHI PANCAKES, adapted from the NYT.

for the pankcake:
  • 1/2 c flour
  • 1/2 c potato starch
  • 1 mashed potato with 1 t flax meal folded in
  • 2 scallions, cut into 1 1/2-inch-long pieces
  • 1 1/2 T garlic, sliced thinly
  • 1 1/2 T Korean red pepper powder or 1/2 T cayenne
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 c prepared cabbage kimchi, cut in 3-inch-long pieces
  • 2 T kimchi juice
  • 6 T vegetable oil

for the dipping sauce:
  • 1 T tamari
  • 1/4 t sesame oil
  • 1/4 t vinegar
  • 1/4 t minced scallion
  • 1/4 t ground sesame seeds
1. Make dipping sauce: In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, sesame oil, vinegar, scallion, sesame seeds and one-half tablespoon water. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, mix flour, potato starch and mashed potato until smooth. Add scallions, garlic, red pepper powder, salt, kimchi and its juice. Mix well. Batter will be pale pink.

3. Place an 8- or 9-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. When oil is hot, pour in one-third of the pancake batter. Fry until golden and crisp, about 3 to 4 minutes. Lift pancake with a spatula, add 1 tablespoon oil to pan and swirl it. Flip pancake and fry other side until golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip again, without adding oil, and fry for 1 minute. Flip one more time and fry 1 to 2 minutes. Pancake should be dark gold.

4. Repeat with remaining batter and oil, making 3 pancakes. Remove to a large round plate and cut each pancake into 6 wedges. Serve with dipping sauce.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Kimchi Fest

Our kimchi always causes a fuss at the market. Sometimes that means people stomping and hollering over the heat, groups of Koreans excited to find a familiar flavor, people yelling at us for not warning them properly about the spice level before they taste, and vegetarians excited to finally find a fish-free version of this beloved food (it usually contains anchovies and fish sauce). Besides the spice and ferment phobic few, most people are incredibly happy to find kimchi at the market, even if it is made by a white girl. We're often scolded for not making enough of the stuff.

The main ingredient, nappa cabbage, is in shortage this year in Asia, but growing in abundance in the Hudson Valley. There should be a ton of kimchi as well! At market, after the sweating and yipping are past, and as people are tucking jars of kimchi into their bags, they often ask for ways to serve it.

And so Kimchi Fest is born. We've made three times the amount of kimchi we usually do, and will be cooking up some sample ways to eat it. These may include kimchi pancakes, kimchi guacamole, kimchi soup, and more. Come try this treasured Korean staple for yourself.

Growing Brazil

Here are a few photos taken in the spring of this year of various farming methods in the Northeast of Brazil. I guess I saved them to look at again on a chilly day.

Banana, coconut, and mango trees in a valley, Areia, Paraíba, Brasil.

Raised garden bed using plastic bottles, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil.

Tiered hillside farm, in the countryside in Pernambuco, Brasil.

Sugarcane fields with small patches of jungle still visible on the hilltops. near Tamandare.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Harvest Season

frozen peaches
This time last year was a flurry of activity in preparation for the winter C.S.A. We'd been working hard since March, but the first touch of cold kicked us in the pants and made us very aware that we had limited time to prepare and store food for all our member families. This winter, the C.S.A. won't be operating, but all that means is that people who've had a taste of what it's like to eat local food through the winter need to take a few steps to make that happen. Saving food for a bunch of families is a challenge, but it's really not that hard to do it for just one.

I recently led a fermentation workshop with the Putnam County Holistic Moms, which was great fun, and we also had a discussion about easy things to do to extend the harvest. Cold mornings may make you think the growing season's all over, aside from a winter squash or two, but that's far from the truth. Here are some quick (and incomplete) lists I shared with the mothers:
Top 10 Tips to eat local year-round
  1. Befriend your freezer.
  2. Rig up your own root cellar.
  3. Cover your crops.
  4. Dehydrate.
  5. Learn about wild food.
  6. Plant edible perennials.
  7. Ferment.
  8. Can like granny.
  9. Sprout.
  10. Plant in sunny windows.
There's nothing complicated in that list, and detailed information online about all of it. Type "solar dehydrate onions" (for example) into search and you've got everything you need.

If you're thinking you're done in the garden and that its time to sit by the fire with soup, you're wrong! (Save that for January.) For now, there's work to be done.

September has passed, but I'm including some Sept. chores because there are some that still apply:
  • Freeze & can peaches
  • Freeze raspberries
  • Freeze red peppers
  • Freeze zucchini
  • Freeze greens
  • Dehydrate tomatoes
  • Dehydrate beans
  • Make hot pepper sauce (I'm doing this today!)
  • Ferment everything
  • Can pears and apples
  • Freeze cooked squash & pumpkin
  • Dehydrate herbs
  • Freeze pesto
  • Freeze greens
  • Peel & dry black walnuts
  • Eat pawpaws & kiwis (they'll make you feel like you're in the tropics)
  • Pickle wild grape leaves
  • Ferment everything
  • Cover garden
  • Make sauerkraut
  • Root cellar apples
  • Root cellar potatoes
  • Freeze greens
  • Root cellar turnips, radishes, etc.
  • Move mushroom logs to basement
  • Ferment everything
  • Root cellar carrots
  • Eat last covered garden vegetables
  • Prune perennials
  • Can fancy, time-consuming recipes with frozen produce
  • Visit winter farm markets
  • Ferment everything
If, like me, you find yourself with a gazillion berries or apples or tomatoes all at one time, preserving makes great sense. Nothing goes to waste, and with a little effort now, winter is far, far tastier.