Archive for the 'Herbs' Category

Head In The Clouds


June 2nd, 2011

clouds
Well, I think it’s fair to say that I’ve had my head in the clouds lately while I contemplate my next move. If you’re just tuning in, I found out last week that I have a ‘FISSURE’ IN A DISC in my lower back. I just had a follow up with my doctor and learned some interesting things. It could be that there is just a rip in the disc OR it could be that it’s actually ruptured and the goo is leaking out. They can’t tell for sure until they do a discogram. Needless to say, my head is spinning with possibilities. Like, what does this mean for my nascent CHEF BUSINESS? Do I have time for this? Can’t they see that my business is taking off? I mean, don’t they know that I’m HUGE IN NEW YORK? :) (Kind of like the Tom Waits song. BIG IN JAPAN). Admittedly, this is not exactly how I planned things would go. But really, none of this has gone ACCORDING TO PLAN, and it hasn’t stopped me yet. It’s just a matter of unlocking the key to the silver lining. Right now, I’m still a bit puzzled…trying to make some sense of it. I just have to remember to stay open to the answers.

kale bed
In the meantime, gardening is a great way to keep your feet on the ground while you contemplate possibilities. This is my up and coming kale forest. I had one LAST YEAR too. Though last year, I didn’t get to tend to my garden as well as I would have liked because of the ACCIDENT. Actually, last year my garden was kind of a chaotic mess. This year is going to be better. I can tell. The weather is already being much more cooperative.

tomatos herbs lettuce
This bed is a little more heterogeneous than the kale forest. It’s got tomatoes, herbs, peppers, and several varieties of lettuce/greens. Have I mentioned how much I LOVE GARDENING? I filmed a video of me setting up my garden this year for PUNK RAWK LABS TV. It’s going to be a good one…

arugula sprouts
These cute little arugula sprouts that are just starting to see the light of day. This year, I think I timed things better. So that everything won’t come due at the same time. Hopefully this will help me eat things more efficiently.

wild spinach
This little guy is a wild spinach seedling sprouted from the BLACKBIRD NATURALS seeds I GOT IN THE MAIL recently. They are purple! The swiss chard behind it is also looking lovely. It’s just starting to perk up.

strawberries
The strawberry plant is starting to flower too. Soon, I will be enjoying the best strawberries I will have all year. I can’t wait.

straw lemonadeThis is a glass of raspberry lemonade I made for myself right before I took my bike ride to the garden. I just threw a couple raspberries in at the end and did a pulse. Mmm…so good! I highly recommend this. A very refreshing pre-bike ride delight for a hot summer day. Summer comes in short spurts up here in the NORTH COUNTRY. So you’ve got to appreciate it while you can.
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mississippi
Here is me riding my bike over the mighty Mississippi on my way home from the garden. I try to ride my bike there a few times a week as part of my physical therapy. I love having a reason to check in with her (the river). She has inspired so many great works of art.


One of my favorite songs about her is BIG RIVER by JOHNNY CASH. I love how he talks about meeting her accidentally in St. Paul, MN. Just like me. I live in St. Paul, but my garden is in Minneapolis (just across the river).

mpls skyline
Here’s a pic of the Minneapolis skyline from the Mississippi River bridge the other day. Part stormy. Part inspired. That’s pretty much me right now in a nutshell. :)

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Garden Laboratory


May 9th, 2010

garden lab
Well, the weather hasn’t exactly been cooperating with our garden plans thus far. As a result, we have quite the burgeoning garden laboratory going now. We started a fairly extensive batch of SEEDLINGS a few weeks ago (though most of them are still pretty small and frail).

plant saleSo much like LAST YEAR, I went to the infamous FRIENDS SCHOOL PLANT SALE to pad our repertoire. The plant sale is AMAZING. They have everything you could possibly think of. I went with good intentions, but it’s difficult to draw parameters around the endless possibilities. Just think of all the food I could make!  I mean a girl could really go balls to the wall gourmet with so much to work with!

plant sale
Just to give you an idea of why my boyfriend was so annoyed with me, here is a list of all the plants I got:

Black Cumin
Culantro (not cilantro…I don’t know either)
Lavender, Fred Boutin
Thai Basil, Siam Queen
Sweet Basil
Lovage
Marjoram
Marshmallow
Milk Thistle
Mint, Spearmint
Mint, Chocolate Mint
Parsley
Sage
Rosemary
Thyme
Papalo (described as cilantro on steroids)
Parsley, Curly
Parsley, Italian
African Blue Basil
Boxcar Willie Tomato
Sweet Banana Pepper
Caspian Pink Tomato
Coyote Tomato
Habanero Pepper, Chocolate
Habanero Pepper, Orange
Heirloom Lettuce, Forellenschluss
Arugula
Celeriac
Stevia

seedlingsI should note that this was AFTER we had already purchased a wide variety of lettuces/greens (curly kale, dino kale, swiss chard, and a few butter lettuce varieties). Where I’m going to find room to plant all these is anybody’s guess. But every raw food catering business needs all this! Right?! We did inherit an extra bed this year at the COMMUNITY GARDEN that needs some TLC. Someone let it overgrow with weeds. So it kind of needs a nanny for a year. But I think I’m still going to need to get creative..

sq ft garden
Here’s a draft of our SQUARE FOOD GARDEN grid. The blank boxes represent the number of plants I was SUPPOSED to get at the plant sale. (He should have known he was sending me on MISSION IMPOSSIBLE). :)

goji bush
In other news, look how well my GOJI bush is doing! ANTHONY would be so proud…

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The Season for New Beginnings


April 15th, 2010

pepperland
As luck would have it, I’m starting my new beginning right in sync with nature. Leave it to these guys to perk me up when I’m feeling a little overwhelmed. We’ve started our seedlings for gardening season!

garden
Last year, my goal with the GARDEN was just to have one. What came up vastly exceeded my wildest expectations. It was so good that we were invited to be on the steering committee at our COMMUNITY GARDEN. I’m now officially the web hag of our garden. There are still a few plots available if anyone is interested.

two trays
This year, I want to be more efficient with the food that comes up. Now that I have a better idea about timing etc. We have a few seedlings started up. Some are doing better than others.

grow lights
Right now we have them under a couple low tech grow lights we got from the hardware store. The whole contraption was about $20.

peppers
The peppers are loving life!

basil
The basil is doing pretty good too. The lettuce…not so much.

goji
I started some more goji (since that worked out so well LAST YEAR).

sage
The sage overall didn’t fair so well, but I have this one determined little guy that might amount to something.

radicchio
Radicchio will be nice in my salad mixes.

grass
And of course, I have lots of grass!! (I’m almost done with the wheatgrass episode for PRL TV. It’s taking forever, but I think it’s going to be a good one. My BF thinks we’ll be done by Saturday).

baby grass
Some cute little baby grasses..

gilIn other news, my boyfriend got me in to see GIL SCOTT-HERON last night (of ‘the REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED‘ fame). It was excellent. He’s hilarious. Sharp guy.  Really unique.  Even the crowd was unique.  My boyfriend does sound there a lot.  And there was definitely a much more diverse crowd there than usual.  Leave it to Gil to challenge your perception of things and keep things in perspective.  Just what I need at the moment.

trail
In other news, there is a walking path that goes from my new place to Whole Foods. How convenient is that? Things could definitely be worse. :)

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Herbs, Spices, and the Magical Coconut


November 8th, 2009

http://blog.punkrawklabs.net/pics/2009/nov/fourth/herbspice.jpg
Another important building block we discussed this week was herbs and spices. First, Laidan gave us on overview of the properties of many of the most commonly used herbs and spices.

five spice blend
Next, we all went about making our own five spice blend. I used a little cumin, celery root, turmeric, cardamon, and coriander. Ladan showed us how to make a marinade using the spice blend.

marinating veggies
Next, we marinated some veggies and put them in the dehydrator.

coconut massacre
While that was going, we set about our next lesson for the day…the magical properties of the coconut. Part of this lesson involved opening a case of coconuts.

cocowater
I lucked out and got a perfect case of coconuts. The coconut water was pristine.

coco meat
And the meat was beautiful!

red pepper wrappers
We used the coconut harvest to make red pepper wrappers to go with our marinated vegetables.

almond cheese
We made a delicious almond cheese using almonds, celery juice, and fresh nutmeg (among other things).


We used a microplane to grate our fresh nutmeg. It looks pretty interesting on the inside. I’ve never gotten so up close and personal with a nutmeg.

assembling
Once we had all our mise en place ready, we went about assembling our vegetable rolls.

voila
Voila! Ladan said mine looked kind of like an enchanted forest. I thought it looked a little like the Starship Enterprise.

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First Freeze


October 15th, 2009

hub of heaven
Well, it’s already started snowing here in Minnesota. I’m sad to say that GARDENING season is winding down. Here I am in front of our community garden collecting a box of goodies before the first freeze.

lil garden
We actually ended up with two garden beds this year as we inherited one from a gardener who was MIA. This was our second bed where we grew zucchini, tomatoes, nasturtium, strawberries, beets, and some hot peppers. It’s hard to see behind the fence, but you can see some nasturtium flowers.

packingI suppose I could have tried to greenhouse my bed a little to extend the season (my kale is still hanging on!!). But I’m going to NYC next week to play a show with my band, and I’m leaving for CHEF SCHOOL as soon as I get back. So, it’s time to start saving what I can. I’ve got a ton of seeds for next year already. But that’s not all…

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box
I have a ton of herbs to dry down too. Check out the long, spindly branches hanging out the side of the box. Those are stevia leaves! I had a ton of it.

stevia bowl
Here I harvested all the leaves and dried them down to make sweetener.

steviaLook at that! My own homegrown sweetener! I’m gonna be showing up to chef school in style!  I’m sure there are some fancy Christmas cookies in my future somewhere.  I was dehydrating them at the same time as a batch of KALE CHIPS, and my boyfriend asked me if i put sugar in the kale chips.  We figured out that some of the stevia must have fallen into the batch.  Pretty potent stuff!  It’s apparently up to 300x sweeter than sugar.

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carrots
Our carrots were kind of stubby. I’m not sure why. But they’re kind of endearing that way. Aren’t they?

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Third Time's A Charm


September 18th, 2009

lasagna
This is my third attempt at making the lasagna from RAW FOOD REAL WORLD. I was inspired by the STUDENTS of 105 DEGREES and the abundance of tomatoes and zucchini in my GARDEN of late.

lasagna side
I suppose that now is as good a time as any to mention that I am the latest recruit to the 105 DEGREES ACADEMY. Or one of them anyway. Not entirely shocking, I suppose, given my penchant for following MATTHEW KENNEY recipes. That coupled with the fact that my entire family lives in Oklahoma makes it kind of a no brainer! Anyway, I’ll be there from Nov-Mar. YAY! (Speaking of Matthew Kenney, did you see the article yesterday in the NY TIMES? It’s kind of funny actually. The writer is clearly not a connoisseur of raw food. In fact, he’s still hung up on a pork chop he had in the mid-90’s. That pork chop really must have made an impression. This was particularly funny to me yesterday since we were having a discussion about how the EGGPLANT BACON didn’t really taste like bacon).

nyagous
Anyway, back to the lasagna. Check out this black tomato I grew in my garden. It’s a NYAGOUS variety. They’re apparently highly sought after for their rich flavor. This is what I used for my tomato sauce. Things have come a long way from my FIRST LASAGNA which I cluelessly made in the middle of winter. Last year, I had at least figured out the SEASONS.

zucchini
But this year, I was able to season my own homegrown zucchini with my own homegrown herbs!

caspian pink
I had quite a few varieties of tomatoes to choose from. Everyone said I wouldn’t be able to grow heirloom tomatoes in a community garden. Apparently, our garden had a fungus problem or something. I used some EFFECTIVE MICROORGANISMS in the soil. I’m not sure if that’s what did the trick, but they grew up beautifully. Anyway, these are some CASPIAN PINK tomatoes.

green zebra
Probably our most abundant tomotoes this year were the GREEN ZEBRAS (which is perfect for this recipe). Ours came up this beautiful golden color.

layers
The tomatoes were layered with a pine nut pignoli, a basil and pistachio pesto, and the marinated zucchini in a casserole dish.

lasagna
Bon Appetit! (I wonder if I’ll be talking about this lasagna in fifteen years :) ).

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Harvest Moon


September 6th, 2009

me gardening
I got a cue from the moon that it was time for a GARDEN update. I have to say that after my first season gardening, I am hooked! I absolutely LOVE gardening. It’s so relaxing, and we’ve hardly had to buy any food this summer.

swirls
I was worried at first when I saw this marvelously psychedelic swirl on one of our tomatoes. My boyfriend was convinced it was a worm eating our tomatoes.  I was so relieved to find that it just meant they were growing too fast, and the skin was cracking.

This is my boyfriend’s nephew holding our very first ripe tomato of the season. It was a caspian pink tomato and the flavor was stupendous. It was also perfect and flawless. The prettiest tomato to date. Though we have some really pretty ones that are just starting to turn now.

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stevia
This is my beautiful stevia plant. I’ve dried down the leaves and ground them into a powder to make sweetener. Though admittedly, it takes a lot of leaves to make not very much powder. I should save the seeds so I can grow a bunch next year (or whenever I actually have a yard at some nebulous point in the future).

habanero
Yesterday, I picked the first habanero! I think I’m going to make kale chips with it. I’m really addicted to this new chip we’ve developed. It was inspired by my recent trip to the West Coast. They were HUGE there. Though I think we encountered them first in PORTLAND. They’re a notcho cheese variety that will knock your socks off.

peppers
Everything is coming up peppers right now. We’ve got a couple red jalepenos. And a bunch of this Korean hot pepper. They’re HO CHI MINH‘s. They’re kind of like cayenne…but yellow…and surprisingly hotter.

nasturtium
I also have these edible flowers called nasturtiums. They didn’t really go in this salad so well. They’re kinda spicy. So I’ll check back with you about those…

kale
But all in all, the garden’s good! Now it’s time to start sharing the wealth.

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Getting My Garden Fix


July 2nd, 2009

garden
Since I’m away from my own GARDEN now, I’m having to get my garden fix elsewhere. But as luck would have it my friend, Heidi, is happy to oblige.

heidi
She made an APPEARANCE on my blog at this time last year too. We signed up for BIKRAM YOGA this week. There was an intro deal at a STUDIO here – unlimited classes for one week for $20). Here she is doing a spontaneous yoga pose on a cement divider.

toilet planterI love how they used their old toilet as a planter. I suppose it’s not technically a planter. I think she originally planted something else in it, but now it is FULL of super nutritious chickweed. We put some in our smoothie this morning. We’ve also harvested some radishes, baby beets, and raspberries. Her garden is SO HUGE. I need a garden this huge (especially if we are going to start a catering empire with locally grown produce from our own gardens – our not so secret dream).
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spider
This is the cute little spider that made a home for itself between her tomato plants.

nn
MMM…SMOOTHIE. It’s starting to turn into a tradition as I always seem to show up when her raspberries are in season.

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Exceeding My Expectations


June 27th, 2009

tomato bush
I think it’s safe to say at this point that my GARDEN is exceeding my expectations. Being that it’s my first one, I would have been happy to get ANY growth whatsoever. But yesterday, my boyfriend sent me this insane picture of the monstrosities that our tomato plants have become (Did I mention that I am out of town? I left him in charge of the garden for five weeks. I’m MISSING EVERYTHING.)

sunny side
This is that same area a month ago. AMAZING!

aquacones
I’m wondering if these aquacones have contributed to the growth spurt. It HAS been hot and sunny. But apparently, we’ve outgrown all the plants in our community garden. My boyfriend had to rip holes in the netting to make room.

lettuce side
This is the other side of the garden. The shady side…where we are growing many varieties of lettuce. I am so spoiled now. I can never go back. GOURMET SALADS for FREE.

happy plants
They just look so happy. And they taste that way too.

salad mix
It would cost a fortune to buy this many heads of lettuce every couple days.

marigolds
This garden has been blowing my mind. I’ve been thinking crazy thoughts. Things that I would have never EVER considered. Things like…moving out of the city?!

kale
This is going to be the year of the KALE CHIP. I have at least fifteen kale plants going right now!

chard
I think the chard has been the most persnickety of the greens. There is some kind of pest that is making the leaves get this fungus-like illness. We’ve been mostly spraying with cayenne and picking yucky leaves. And that seems to be working alright.

stone arch
I am a little sad I’m missing this. I miss Minneapolis and going to the garden with my boyfriend. If I weren’t having so much fun, I’d be really homesick. But I’m actually finding Seattle to be really friendly to my dietary issues. More updates soon…

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Herbalism 101


June 23rd, 2009

milk thistle
Admittedly, the medicinal qualities of plants and herbs are something that I am woefully uninformed about. But you’ve got to start somewhere, right? This is a milk thistle flower from my GARDEN. I haven’t figured out what to do with it yet, but I know that they are helpful for those who have issues with their livers (i.e. ME).

steviaWe also have this lovely stevia plant. Apparently, all I need to do to make my own stevia is harvest the leaves, dry them, and grind them into a powder. Considering how expensive stevia is, this sounds like a great idea. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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mind
I also have several varieties of mint which are overgrowing their SQUARE.

mintnibic
I have to tell you that they make a MEAN MINT CACAO NIB ice cream.

goji
I also have some goji seedlings that are doing quite well. Three years from now, they will bear some righteous superfood fruits.

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