Archive for the 'Seasonings' Category

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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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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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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Square Foot Gardening


May 12th, 2009

me and garden Hey everyone! Check out my new garden. It’s my very first one (besides the one I started in my WINDOW). My boyfriend calls this the shot of me taking credit for all his hard work. :)

seedlings
It all started a few weeks back when I started some SEEDLINGS in my window. I had little to no idea what I was doing. I planted maybe 150 seedlings! Most of them didn’t survive my incompetence. But the tomato and arugula seedlings seemed pretty determined.

square foot gardening Everyone kept talking about this book. Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholemew. So I picked up a copy. It seemed to make sense. More vegetables in less space. Who could argue with that really? And it was a better idea than anything I had come up with personally. So I went with it. Admittedly, the plans seemed way more ambitious in terms of yield than any novice gardener could hope for. But I suppose it doesn’t hurt to dream big dreams, right?

plans These are my inital plans (now waterlogged). It’s going to be really funny to look back after it’s all said and done to see how much of it actually came true. Our garden has a tree on one side. So one side is sunnier and one side is shadier. Thus, we tried to plan accordingly.

seedlings Once the seedlings got to be about so big, we started planting…Can you tell we’re new at this?

seedlings planted Well, they looked really impressive in my little pots in the window. But once they got into the ground, they looked kinda pathetic.

tomato seedlings Don’t laugh! Apparently, it’s better when your tomato plants are small. They survive the transplant better. Though they didn’t survive the squirrels so well. OY! The Squirrels!!

It became clear before long that we were going to need some help beefing up our garden. We went to the FRIENDS SCHOOL PLANT SALE (a GIANT plant sale at the State Fairgrounds) and picked up a few things.

plant sale Mostly, we got herbs (chocolate and orange mint, basil, rosemary, oregano, milk thistle, some peppers, more tomatoes, and some hostas for my boyfriend’s mom).

fighting back I also picked up some kale and swiss chard from the SEWARD COOP.

http://blog.punkrawklabs.net/pics/2009/may/gardenporn/transplanting.jpg Once I started transplanting, things started to take shape. Except for the squirrels who were munching on everything and digging up plants. Did I mention that SQUIRRELS ARE MY NEMESIS?! (ASIDE: My battle with squirrels began several years ago. I was getting bombarded with calls from STRANGE old ladies and people who later died on my answering machine. My calls were also getting rerouted to Canada. Very bizarre! I called the phone company, and the phone guy literally told me that my problem was squirrels first. Then terrorists. Terrorist squirrels. That should be a band name. Anyway, I did a radio show about it when I used to be DJ. You can check it out here…VOLUME 29: MYSTERY CREOT.)

netting system Anyway, back to the matter at hand. We needed to find some gentle way of encouraging the squirrels to eat someone else’s food. That’s when my boyfriend designed this netting system to keep the squirrels out. It seems to be working so far (keep your fingers crossed). Plus, now we’ve earned a reputation for being the most anal gardeners in our community garden! Our neighbor saw what we had done and kind of giggled to herself. Like, ‘hey guys, trying to keep the bears out?’

shady side This is a closer look at the shady side of our bed. This is going to be focused mainly on different varieties of lettuce. Here we have swiss chard and kale I just planted. There are some marigold in the back (supposedly to deter pests). And my little arugula seedlings are still hanging in there. We also have a square for the mystery lettuce which was left behind by last year’s gardener. And a square for micro greens.

sunny side The sunny side is mostly tomatoes, peppers, and herbs. The eight squares in back are all different tomato varieties. In front, we three kinds of peppers, and herbs. I’m still filling these in. So I’ll keep you posted on my progress…

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Expanding Window Garden


June 28th, 2008


Well…everybody said it would happen. And it is. Before I started paying attention to my diet, I didn’t own a plant. But now the little WINDOW GARDEN I started a few weeks back is quickly expanding to the capacity of my extremely SMALL apartment.


It’s hard not to do though. I keep coming across these herbs that I MUST have. Plus, the weather is nice now. So I can keep some plants on the windowsill.


So far, I have oregano, peppermint, thyme, dill, spearmint, rosemary, and basil.


I’m most proud of the basil because I grew these babies from little seedlings. The rest I kind of cheated at the farmer’s market, but the basil seeds I got while I was in Austin in March. They look so good that as you can see, the birds are starting to eat the leaves. Why do they have to pick the biggest juiciest ones? Save some for me!


I also got this interesting rainbow shrub. I’m not sure what it is, but it sure is pretty. Yesterday, I went crazy and planted a couple cherry seeds from the cherries I was eating. I’ll keep you posted on what happens with those…

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Harvest Time


January 15th, 2008

seaweed chowder and sprouts

Well, spring has sprung (in my windowsill, at least). It’s time to start getting down to business. I’m still figuring out what to do with these lovely sprouts. So, I thought I’d start with something simple. Like adding them to something I make all the time…SEAWEED CHOWDER.

buckwheat sprouts

The BUCKWHEAT SPROUTS were crying out to be used. Plus, they’re kind of a nice delicate little sprout that seems ideal for soup. AND they get used in lots of asian recipes (the soup is kind of an asian fusion). So, I went for it.

Can I say YUM?!!! WOW. Who knew a little sprout could pack such a punch. They really added a lovely dimension to the soup. Kinda spicy.

I was a little less successful with the wheatgrass this morning. I might go so far as to call it a wheatgrass debacle. But, I’m late for work. So I’ll expoud on that later…

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Scraping Vanilla Beans


November 5th, 2007

vanilla beans

Well, I finally broke down and did it. I bought my first vanilla beans. I’ve always had a weak spot in my heart for vanilla. Even more than chocolate. And my developing senses were growing tired of the alcohol smell in my food from the extract. So, I ordered from ARIZONA VANILLA because they seemed pretty competitively priced and organic, and I got the Tahitian variety (because they were the cheapest).

goop

Here’s a picture of me scooping the goop out of the inside of the bean (which I split open using a paring knife). In the end, you’re left with the bark – which I guess you can use for other recipes and the smell but I haven’t figured all that out yet.

vanilla bark

Then, you just use the goop in recipes like you would vanilla extract. I already tried some on this marvelous raw cheesecake.

vanilla cheesecake

The vanilla flecks look kinda gourmet!

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