Friday, May 15, 2009

Farmer's Market Comes to Town

The farmer's market has finally come to my town Friday's 3:30-6:30pm. It's so nice to not have to trek 20 or 30 minutes out of the way burning gas. It is a small market in an upscale office parking lot that hosts a colorful cast of characters, each on stage and in the spotlight their respective tents. First stop was for luscious greens from a laid back South American farmer. I stocked up on a rainbow of swiss chards and rather healthy mountain of kale. I practiced my Spanish and we exchanged currency. My green for his greens.

The corner of the market was bustling with excitement and free sausage samples. I visited the boisterous and heavily German accented giant "Lothar" the butcher and his Asian wife and white haired father-in-law. His excitement about his artisan products was extremely contagious. I got caught up in the frenzy and bought quite a few of his organic brats and sausages (lamb, pork, beef) carefully avoiding the fully cooked ones in which he added preservatives/nitrates. He had quite a nice selection of natural gourmet items that passed my approval.

Nearby in Lothar's shadow, were Jacob and May Horst, a quiet and unassuming conservative Mennonite couple with free-range eggs and grass fed dairy products from Hagerstown, MD. I stopped to sample raw milk cheeses and chat. I got the smooth and creamy Monterrey jack.

My last stop at the far corner was the attractive and well mannered cowboy with his grass fed beef. I'm sure this guy is much more at home on his farm. I could just see him on a horse rounding up his cattle with his dogs. I could sense he was feeling a little like a fish outta water when customers grilled him what percent of fat was in his ground beef, etc. He went into great detail how they are grass fed, but just before "finishing" he feeds them hay to mellow the flavor. I piped in and helped him with marketing as I bought my meat, as I could tell my neighbors didn't know what this meant, I decoded his message and spouted off the benefits of grass fed meat. I got an appreciative thank you ma'am and wink for educating his customers, in his ever so cute southern drawl.

It's a small market that packs a rich little shopping experience. I'm so thankful these farmers took the time to drive out and bring us these wonderful products practically to my doorstep. I wouldn't have had an interesting story to tell had I walked into any of our florescent lit corner grocery stores. Can't wait for dinner!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Don't Mess with My Food!!!
(Oppose HR875 S425)

I'm not into politcs. I'm into good food. When I see a greedy chemical company wanting to mess with MY food and the food supply in the name of "food safety", I take it personally. Last night I was alarmed to hear a misleading and manipulative Monsanto ad on the radio. Knowing what I know, it sent shivers up my spine. It was my wake up call to do something to protect the food I love. This should be of interest to EVERYONE! Don't know who Monsanto is? LEARN!

Seriously take a minute to contact your congressmen and/or sign this petition. Our food is at risk. Protect organic, local, and Heirloom traditions, farmer's markets, CSAs, and home gardens. This sketchy legistation could put them all at risk.

My letter to my congressman:

I am writing about my concern and opposition for the "food safety" bills in Congress - HR 875, SR 425, HR 814, HR 759 and any others being introduced now. We need to protect traditional farming practices and traditional seeds. Please, please do not let the aggressive agri-businesses like Monsanto take the lead and underhandedly gain any further control over our food supply, traditional farming methods, or heirloom seeds. Our small farmers and local traditional food need our full support. We do not know the long term effects of genetically modified food or seeds. I don't think we should be playing God with our food. I'm not a scientist, but I do know seeds do travel and cross pollinate. We cannot allow sketchy laws that will ultimately penalize or fine our small or organic farmers for the practices of these experimental and greedy big businesses. There is too much uncertainly. GMO seeds may possibly have a devastating effect on the health of our nation. We cannot afford to take this gamble. For the sake of our children and grandchildren, and healthy clean traditional food, do NOT let any of these bills go through. Our local Virginia food is one of the best around. It has a rich heritage and tradition worthy of defending. Please stand up and defend it for us.
In Good Health,
Cindy -------

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Pure Chocolate Ecstasy

I experimented today and have unlocked the most blissful chocolate experience...and it is sooo very easy. The ingredients are the key, must be high quality raw organic. I didn't measure but here's what I did: gently melt some cocoa butter til no longer a solid, remove from heat & stir in cocoa powder, and add a little honey and dates to sweeten. This is the best chocolate I have ever eaten. Mmm mmm yum! The cocoa butter makes it silky rich. The natural sweetness of the raw organic honey and dates give it that pure perfect sweetness without going overboard like white or cane sugar would.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Coconut Medicine

I recently came down with some kind of flu (aches, pains, and a very high fever). I am trying my best to flow with the wisdom of my body and use natural remedies. At the height of my fever (104°) I had my son crack open a young coconut that I happened to have in my fridge. I sipped on its water in bed. It was very quenching. Within a 20 minutes my fever began to lower. I sent him to the store for more....

Coconut water has a natural balance of sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, copper and magnesium along with vital amino acids - making it a healthy electrolyte drink. In some cultures it has been used intravenously to stabilize electrolytes. Coconuts are also anti-viral, anti-fungal.

The water from three coconuts and a good dose of a rest and I'm back. I don't have any grog or fog or any other side effects that I might have had from taking conventional medicines. I feel great. So my prescription...have 3 coconuts and call me in the morning.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Zen and the Art of Animal Husbandry

Just got back from an interesting presentation by Matt Rales, author of the article The Inconvenient Cow. I was very impressed by his knowledge and passion on sustainable farming/husbandry and how it can be done in a manner that heals our land and our bodies. I am a firm believer in you are what you eat. I think the modern conventional industrialized farming and husbandry practices that we've allowed have separated us too much from the natural cycles of life. Our bodies and our health are reacting to this disconnect. I really love people like Joel Salatin of Polyface farms, they remind us to respect nature, respect the animals, ultimately respect ourselves.

The only real way to change the "disconnect" from our food suppliers is vote with our forks on what we choose to buy/eat. While I am eating mainly vegetables lately, I do get specific cravings for meat every so often. I really believe my body is talking to me and I think to deny those feelings would be an upset of my own personal health and balance. I want to feel good about my choices, so I want to support local farmers like Joel. It makes me feel better knowing my food was lovingly cared for and respected before it came to my plate.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Kombucha Brewery

While doing some shopping for the Thanksgiving holiday last year, I picked up a bottle of GT's Organic Raw Kombucha from Whole Foods. I had heard some buzz about it's health benefits. First sip, I made an "I'm not to sure about this face", but continued drinking it anyway. By the third or forth sip, I stopped making the face and was hooked. This beverage quickly became a habit. With a price tag of $3-4 a bottle it became an expensive habit. The more I researched and read about kombucha's immunity and health claim properties, the more it became a draw to me. In my reading, I also learned it would be significantly less money to brew and ferment this beverage at home, so I started looking around for my very own culture. I didn't want to buy one blindly over the internet, so I started inquiring and searching locally. I waited and waited to find a local source with little luck... until last weekend.

Now, almost overnight it seems, I have a full-fledged kombucha production line running from my pantry. I have 3 gallons in a variety of flavors brewing as I type (black, green, and peach). I got my first culture (aka "scooby") last weekend at a raw foods meet up and immediately started brewing a gallon with black tea and peach herbal tea. Earlier this week a friend of a friend was moving to Hungary and needed to find good homes for her well established cultures. I got the nicest biggest thickest mother scooby from her. Today lo and behold I got another couple of small babies while at a Weston Price meet up. I started brewing a couple more quarts using organic green tea as the base. When it rains it pours. Now my cup runneth over with this Kombucha elixir. Here's a toast to health and living well. Bottoms up...Cheers!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tales from the Pantry: The Exploding Cabbage Episode

I've heard stories, but never had incident with volatile cabbage until tonight. As many of you know from previous posts, my pantry has become a full fledged laboratory (from krauts to kefir grains are on leave from their workout in my pantry...currently in refridgerated exile).

Saturday I was inspired by by Scott Grzybek's passion and knowledge on lacto-fermentation at a workshop he gave for the Northern Virginia Raw Food Meet Up. I returned home to attempt to replicate his amazing daikon radish and cabbage recipes. I've been babysitting these fermenting babies once and twice a day since Saturday night by cracking open the jars to avoid excessive gas build up that I'd only heard rumor of. This is my second attempt at kraut-making. First time I evidently didn't "pound" the cabbage enough to release enough of it's own natural cabbage juice, so I made up the difference by added water to cover. I'm guessing it was watered down enough to slow the process/activity. It was still quite a tasty product but not nearly as active and alive as what is currently brewing.

All I can say is my little probiotic friends were very busy today. When I cracked open the kraut, the lid lifted and it bubbled violently like a soda can that had been vigorously shaken and opened. I had a puddle on the floor in front of the pantry. Molly was all too happy to help me clean up the mess. She was more excited about this than the "cookies" in my previous post. I don't know if this experiment is going to last the entire 1 month to ripen to full maturity....I somehow can't help but nibble on it as I do my quality control checks.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Good, The Bad, and the Yucky!

I love experiments....most of the time. A couple of days ago I played with my surplus of "Carrot Cake" from Sheila and made some pretty tasty carrot oatmeal cookies by adding raisins, dried cherries, oatmeal, almonds, honey to the "carrot" base and dehydrating it. Turned out to be a good and healthy "cookie"!

This morning I used more of the same carrot base and other ingredients, only instead of honey, I substituted pineapple add some greens powder. My thinking was more would be better. OK, nutritionally maybe, but not as a matter of taste. What I actually did accomplish in this culinary experiment was discover the formula for the taste or essence of... vomit. Really, I did. The pineapple together with the greens powder has the same acidic/bile taste we all know and hate. Win some loose some. These green "cookies" are not going to waste though... I'm picking out the raisins and giving them to Molly, my dog. She apparently is quite fond of them...then again I have seen her eat her vomit.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

New Week, New Things to Try

I love opening up my fridge on Tuesday mornings and looking at the variety of good things I can select to eat that I don't have to make any effort for. It keeps me from getting bored or overhelmed. On today's menu I've got some Asian Cabbage Slaw and a spicy Thai Pineapple Cucumber Salad.

Best of all I'm gleening little bits of knowledge and ideas from my RawTogether friends. Just when I think I know it all someone comes up with something new. I'd have never guessed one could sprout things like sesame seeds and cumin seeds to increase the nutrition of even the smallest of components in a recipe. Thanks Sheila, who'da thought...

Monday, February 9, 2009

Chip Chip Hooray

I'm cheering for Kale now that Yvonne has introduced me to these Kale in a Crunch inspired chips. These are a satisfying way to curb the snack monster while also rewarding my body with the nutrients it really wants and needs.

Chip Update 2/11/09 - Out of Yvonne's chips!!! Oh Nooooo! Must have more!!! So I've started a batch; can't wait for them to get out of the dehydrator. I didn't have cashews, so I improvised the sauce with pine nuts. We'll see tomorrow how this has worked. (it did work!)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Charlie Trotter's Raw Pad Thai

It took me two days to prep "Young Coconut Pad Thai with Almond Chile Sauce" from Charlie Trotter's Raw cookbook with Roxanne Klein. Last night I dehydrated the Spicy Cashews that will top the dish. Today I was a chopping/blending maniac.

It turned out good...very spicy. Next time, I'll use 1/2 the amount of garlic. The raw garlic is pretty strong. Now it's time to clean the kitchen (boy is it a mess!!) & pack for the swap.

Oat Milk

Had to soak oat groats overnight for some cookies I'm making for RawTogether. After I ground up the groats, I had to squeeze out the liquid. VoilĂ ! ...a nice think and creamy oat milk. I added a little honey and cinnamon. A nice surprise ended up being a yummy and nutritious way to start my day.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Quinoa. It's what's for breakfast.

This morning I had sprouted quinoa (KEEN-wah) and fruit for breakfast. {thanks for the yummy fruit Sheila!}
First let me share...I never imagined I'd be eating this kind of stuff for breakfast, let alone sprout them myself...second that I'd actually be craving this stuff...and third surprize is the absolute unbelievable energy I'm having. I think I'm going to have to go down to the office gym and jump on the treadmill to release some of is sooo hard to sit in cube land when my cells are awake and raring to go.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Garlic Breath

Anyone have a mint? I had Shanti Gabriel’s Live Fettuccini Alfreda for lunch today. The raw garlic was strong and spicy in this. I won't have to worry about vampires today! It was good. I shared with a couple of people in my office and they also liked it...they thought the raw zucchini was cooked "noodles". I can see having this again...maybe forgetting the parsely and doubling the fresh basil to suit my personal taste.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Spouting and Dehydrating

It's a snow day and I'm busy in the kitchen. I've started my first experiment in sprouting (millet and quinoa). I've also got my first batch of crackers in the dehydrator, can't wait for them to get crunchy! I'm trying a recipe from Victoria Boutenko: Igor's Crackers. I really love snacking, so these should hit the spot. I also can't wait to try Yvonne's Honion Rings; I'llbe going to the store this afternoon to get some Vidalias to make these babies.

I think my body is starting to respond to my new eating routine. I find I can turn down somethings that I may have splurged on pretty easily. This weekend I had a bite of this fancy decadent cake at birthday party. I found myself saying in my head "Mmm this is nice, a really great cake, but I'm not craving anymore of it". I really do think my body is craving things that are more nutritionally dense as opposed to the junk it used to. This is a good thing.

I had a latte yesterday, something I "thought" in my head I really wanted. Hec, not so long ago (just a month or two ago) this was a serious addition of mine. I could sip on them all day, not uncommon for me to have 2 or 3 in a day. I'm not sure if it was the caffeine from the espresso or the pasteurized/homogonized milk (and it was organic even!)...but I felt sooo sick! While it is good in a way I'm no longer in the grip of the latte addition, in a way I'm kinda sad. I miss the feeling...I want to feel the feeling of warmth and joy like I used to when I got a "fix". I'm sure I'll eventually find something new. Maybe I'll go make myself a cup of green tea, I know I'll get the warmth at least.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Vegetable Pakora with Tomato Sauce

Submitted by sweetpea to Gone Raw
Serves 2-4.

2 large zucchini
2 large carrots
½ onion
1 cup snow peas
½ cup flaxseed
½ cup buckwheat
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ginger
½ tsp turmeric
one strand saffron
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
2 cups water

Grate the zucchini and carrots and place in a bowl. Slice the onion thinly and add to the vegetables. Process or chop the peas and add to the vegetables. Combine the batter ingredients in a blender until smooth and creamy. It should be the consistency of pancake batter. Stir in about a cupful of the batter into the vegetables to coat evenly. Take 1 tablespoons of the pakora mixture at a time and place on lined teflex sheets. Dehydrate @145F for 2 hours turning over when the top side is dry. Continue drying until crispy on the outside and still moist on the inside. Serve with warmed tomato sauce as a dip.

Tomato Sauce
2 tomatoes
1 red bell pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 handful fresh basil leaves or coriander
dash cayenne pepper
¼ tsp sea salt
1 cup water

Blend the above into a smooth sauce. Serve warm with the pakora.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Raw Overload

My body is telling me yesterday's raw extravaganza was just too much. I haven't pinpointed the culprit... I think it may either be too many nuts or just too many hard vegetables for me in a day. I'm loving the raw food, but I know I just need to take it easy.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Day of the Raw Food Swap

Today's the day. I'm excited to see what everyone in our little group has been making. Here's what I'm bringing:

Salsa Finta & Almond Polpetta


Photo and Recipe from The Raw Chef

Salsa Finta
1c sun Dried Tomatoes
2c fresh Tomatoes
1 soft date
1 clove garlic
1T lemon juice
3T olive oil
5 large basil leaves
¼c water {Cindy omitted this}

Blend all ingredients in a high-speed blender.

Almond Polpetta
1c almonds, soaked
2T nutritional yeast
½t salt
2t lemon juice
¼c salsa finta
3T fresh, chopped parsley
1T Italian herbs {Cindy used 1/2 T Herbs de Provence - dry}
¼c onion

  1. Grind the almonds to crumbs, in a food processor.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and process again until thoroughly mixed.
  3. Form into small balls and dehydrate for 6 hours or until they are slightly crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.

    {note from Cindy - makes 19 nut-meatballs using a "cookie scoop" and packing them in.}

To serve
Take a couple of handfuls of mixed leaves per person (a mix of rocket & chard is great), and mix with strips of courgette (zucchini) pasta. To make enough courgette pasta for 4 people, use the following recipe:

4 medium courgette
¼c olive oil
2t salt

  1. Cut the courgette length-wise in a mandoline. Lay the strips on top of each other and, using a knife, cut them length-wise into fettuccini-style strips.
  2. Mix the strips with the olive oil and salt in a large bowl and allow to soften for a couple of minutes.
  3. Mix the polpetta with the salsa, and place even amounts on top of each courgette salad (the pasta strips and leaves, mixed) that you have arranged on the plates.
Serves 4

Cranberry Almond Slaw

Sweet, tangy, and crunchy. This recipe is from The Raw Table.

1/4 of a green cabbage, chopped
1 cup cilantro
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1/4 cup almonds
1/3 cup dried cranberries
Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons flax oil
2 tablespoons agave nectar
2 tablespoons red onion, minced
1 large avocado, cut into bite-sized pieces {Cindy didn't use...this ingredient is optional}

How to proceed:
Place all ingredients, except for the avocado, into a large food processor and pulse-chop until everything is cut up to desired size. Pour out into serving bowl and garnish with avocados. (This picture is missing the avocado, but don’t forget it as it adds great flavor and texture to this dish).
Serves 4.

Spinach Flatbread

One recipe of Creamed Spinach (see below)
1) Prepare the Creamed Spinach
2) Divide the mixture into generous 1/2 cup portions. Pour each portion onto a Teflex-lined dehydrator tray and spread out into a circle to approximately 1/4 inch thickness. Dehydrate at 95 degrees for 24 to 36 hours. About 3/4 of the way through, peel the bread off the sheet, turn over and lay directly onto the dehydrator's mesh screen. Continue dehydrating until dry but pliable. Yield 6.

1 bunch spinach chopped, @ 4-5 cups
1 medium tomato, quartered
1/2 medium onion, minced
1/4 cup fresh dill
1 avacado
1 cup sprouted pine nuts
1/2 lime, juiced
1 TB. Bragg's liquid aminos

Put all ingredients into a food processor and using the "S" blade, process until smooth.
Serves 4. Keeps for 2 days in the fridge.

Broccoli w/ Chedda Sauce


3 cups finely chopped broccoli
1 cup Chedda Sauce (see recipe below)

1 TBS. olive oil
1 lemon juiced
1-2 TBS. Braggs liquid aminos

1) Toss the broccoli with the marinade until is it well coated. Cover and let marinate overnight in the refrigerator. The marinade ingredients help to "cold cook" the broccoli, which tames down some of the raw flavor.
2) Next day, drain out the marinade (save for use in salad dressings or sauces) and mix the broccoli with some of the Chedda Sauce.

Serves 2. Keeps for 2 days or longer. This recipe can also be dehydrated for 2-4 hours at 95 degrees for those who still balk at eating broccoli raw.

Chedda Sauce
3/4 cup pine nuts, soaked
1/2 cup sunflower seeds, soaked
1 large red bell pepper
1/2 lemon juiced
1 1/2 TBS. nutritional yeast flakes
1 clove garlic
2 tsp. Braggs

1) Soak the pine nuts overnight in filtered water. Do the same with the sunflower seeds.
2) Cut the red bell pepper into small pieces and put into the blender first. The bell pepper releases liquid so you won't have to add any liquid to the recipe. Rinse the pine nuts and sunflower seeds and add to the blender. Add the other ingredients and blend well.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Getting Cultured

I've been playing around with fermenting my foods trying to incorporating more "culture" (aka probiotics) into my diet. I got some Water Kefir babies Saturday and made some "ginger beer" this week. Turned out OK... had my first serving last night. I've also made yogurt, kefir, and currently have some sauerkraut ripening in my pantry. I'm liking this stuff and I think it is the next logical step in my ever evolving eating plan.

Sunday I'll be doing a raw food swap and trying some new recipes.
After the swap I'll let you know how they turned out...