Archive for the 'Beverages' Category

Fermentation 101

December 10th, 2010

I haven’t posted much lately, and I apologize. I’ve been busy!! I’m am very excited today to post my latest video for PUNK RAWK LABS TV!

helenand me
The video features NYC based raw food chef, Helen Castillo, of THE RAW PALATE and a kefir starter kit from WATER KEFIR GRAINS (where I buy my kefir grains).

prl tv
This is also the first video that I edited myself. Now that my boyfriend has gotten his grammy nod, he doesn’t have time to help me. I suspect though that now that I know how to do it, I will be posting more videos and blogging less. Not a bad tradeoff. 🙂

I hope you enjoy the VIDEO. I’m kinda proud of it…



November 25th, 2009

Here are the three flavors of kombucha I made for my first batch. I actually INOCULATED my tea a couple weeks ago and have been allowing it to sit in at room temperature (away from direct sunlight) to ferment.

Here you can see my little SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) growing tentacles. It kind of looks like a jellyfish.

pouring kombuchasOnce it’s fermented, all there is left to do is to pour your kombucha and add flavoring. You can flavor it however you like. In my case, I used grapefruit and blood orange juice. You can leave it out at room temp a little longer if you want it to be fizzier. Or you can refrigerate it. Just be sure to drink it within a week or so. My boyfriend is hopelessly addicted to these. He drinks one to three a DAY. I am going to save so much money! HOORAY!



November 13th, 2009

making kombucha
This week, we focused on fermentation. We discussed it’s health benefits, and we made lots of recipes using it…including my first batch of kombucha. Kombucha is a fermented tea which contains probiotics. You start by preparing a tea. Mine was made with oolong tea and honey.

scobyNext, you add the SCOBY and a little kombucha. The SCOBY is actually a mass of living organisms…a zooglea. It’s like a culture of probiotics growing in your tea. You can kind of see mine floating in the tea here. Once you have your culture set up, you need to let it ferment for about two weeks. Then you can flavor it however you like.  At this point, the SCOBY will have reproduced into a mother and a daughter SCOBY.  These can be separted into two new batches of kombucha.  I’ll check back with you about that when the time comes…

vanilla mango yogurt
We also made yogurt this week from coconut meat. We started out with a plain yogurt base which we allow to ferment in the dehydrator overnight. This is what it looks like when it comes out of the dehydrator.

vanilla mango
Then, you can flavor it however you like. I made vanilla mango yogurt. I LOVED it.

cheese to dry
We also made a couple different kinds of cheese. This is the initial formation of my cashew cheese which we made using probiotics.

We also made a cheese using miso as the fermenting agent. This one was much more herbalicious and used almonds for the base.

fig compote
This was the fig compote we made to garnish our cheeses.

Lavendar honey
We also made a delicious lavendar honey.

cheese plate
Here is a picture of my cheese plate. The cashew cheese was garnished with a black pepper crust. The herbalicious cheese crumbles were garnished with the lavendar honey. The green cheese is a pumpkin nut cheese (which we actually borrowed from the RESTAURANT), and it was garnished with the fig compote.

cheese platesOnce we were all done making our cheese plates, we had a little cheese tasting party with a glass of white wine. I couldn’t really drink mine, but it tasted wonderful. Ladan also invited Matthew Kenney to come check out our plates.  I might be having cheese plate for breakfast.  It was tasty, but I was already too full to eat it.  That’s the problem with culinary school.  You’ve got to pace yourself.  Though as far as problems go, it’s not a bad one to have.  🙂

class pic
Ok. Well, I’m off to school…


The Versatility of Nuts

November 4th, 2009

It’s the third day of CHEF SCHOOL, and we’ve been laying down some building blocks. Yesterday, we started with SALADS. Today was all about nuts.

china hat
We started out making NUT MILKS. We each made two kinds. I went with almond and cashew. Believe it or not, I’ve never made cashew milk before. They have these fancy utensils for making nuts milks which I rather like.

almond pulp
Once we strained our milk, we set about saving the pulp to make flour with.

The almonds were much more productive than the cashews in the pulp department. Here I’ve spread the almond pulp onto a dehydrator tray for drying. Then tomorrow, I’ll blend it into a fine powder.

frozen bananas
Next came the fun part…making smoothies with the nut milk. We tried four different recipes today. Two of them used these frozen banana bits.

vanilla shakeWe started with a simple vanilla shake. This is one of my favorites as I have a weak spot for all things vanilla. ESP things involving bits of real VANILLA BEAN.  I used cashew milk for mine, and it was a nice combo.  One person did brazil nut milk and one did macadamia.  I think I liked mine the best.  But they were all good.



.choc almond butter cup
Next came the banana almond butter cup. We guzzled the first one down with no problems. It was right about at this point that we started to realize that we might need to pace ourselves if we were going to do FOUR. But we were determined. And they were good.

hot ancho cocoa
Next came the hot ancho cocoa. You can see the steam rising from mine. Mmm…hot cocoa.

Last, we had the muscle – a protein shake. Can you imagine drinking a protein shake after all that? I didn’t get very far. And I forgot to take a picture. But it was good…

Finally, we made a batch of my favorite, the RASPBERRY VANILLA ALMOND GRANOLA.

granola tray
It came out a lot prettier this time. I think it was the whole raspberries and the lime zest. I’ll let you know how it tastes tomorrow. We’re supposed to have it for breakfast with our leftover milk. I gotta tell ya…I’m really roughin’ it out here. Can you tell?


Fig and Grape Cleansing Shake

October 6th, 2009

I made a new discovery this week that I’m really pleased about…the fig and grape cleansing shake from RAW FOOD REAL WORLD.

Not only is it perfectly in season right now, but it has some magical properties.

Apparently, grapes and figs have magical cleansing properties and are really good for clearing mucous from your system. This is great for me as I have this asthmatic condition which flares up now and again, and I’ve found this drink to be really helpful. It has a similar effect for me of taking a steroid inhaler. Clearing up that tight feeling in your chest. Or the feeling like you have something stuck in your throat? Drink this. It’s great.

An added bonus…it tastes really good too.

I lifted my glass to the UPTOWN BAR, a famous Minneapolis music venue that’s about to disappear. This was probably the healthiest drink this glass has ever seen. 🙂


Getting My Garden Fix

July 2nd, 2009

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.

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).
This is the cute little spider that made a home for itself between her tomato plants.

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


Mexican Hot Chocolate

April 27th, 2009

mes hot cho
I don’t know about you guys, but it is STILL COLD here. The other night, I whipped up some of this right before bed, and it hit the spot. It’s mexican hot chocolate. In honor of FIESTA week (in San Antonio – where I grew up) which just ended.

hot choc
Basically, I took some brazil NUT MILK and added some MOLE which was leftover from the Chili Rellenos I just made. Then, I blended it up in the VITAMIX until warm and sprinkled a little cinnamon on top. MMM. Happy Fiesta.


Breville Juice Fountain

November 24th, 2007


We got our new juicer this week. Just in time for Thanksgiving. It’s a Breville Compact Juice Fountain. Retails at Amazon for $79 new. It’s similar to the regular juice fountain. I think the main difference in the design is that the pulp collection is in the main unit – instead of shooting out the back. My boyfriend seems to think this is a great feature. He said the Juiceman that he used to have had a pulp ejector, but the pulp would inevitably shoot everywhere and make a mess. This is much cleaner. The one drawback might be that if one were juicing huge volumes at once, you would need to stop and disassemble the juicer periodically to empty the pulp. In other words, there’s a finite capacity for the pulp. But it takes less counter space, and is very quiet. We are really happy with it.


So for our first juice, we decided to make a pomegranate blend after reading THIS lovely post on RAW FOOD RIGHT NOW explaining how to harvest the seeds. Then, we threw in some apples and asian pears for good measure.


Do you like my FANCY RAY shirt? He sent me this shirt for Christmas a couple years ago 🙂

first juice

All that’s left to do is stir the collected juice and voila!

This was arguably the most delicious glass of juice I’ve ever had (until today). The pears softened the tartness of the apples and pomegranates oh so delightfully. I highly recommend it!


(Harley LOVES apples).


Melon Smoothies

August 20th, 2007

watermelon smoothie

My boyfriend and I made this lovely concoction this morning. We hadn’t thought to put watermelon in a smoothie before. I’m not sure why. But we were out of all our normal ingredients. And the watermelon was waiting patiently to be used for something. And it seemed like today was the day of reckoning for that watermelon. So we figured…sure, why not.

We should have thought of this before. It was lovely and summery. We also included baby coconut (meat and water) and banana. It didn’t need much else. Though in retrospect and mint sprig would have been nice…

One interesting side effect:  I gave my leftover smoothie to my 17 year old arthritic dog this morning.  Not only did he gobble it down, but he’s been unusually spunky all day…bounding down the hallway and barking that he wants to go out and run.  Very strange.


Blueberry Carrot Juice

July 1st, 2007

blender pic

Ok. So here’s something I tried that didn’t altogether work. It actually tasted ok. And it looks really good in the blender. It’s the CARROT JUICE that I tried a couple weeks ago. But I just added blueberries. I tried it out on my neighbor, Elizabeth.


She actually drank it down with no problem. The main issue is you have to drink it right away. Because as you saw with the BLUEBERRY PIE (see below), blueberries start congealing when they get cold. So it’s mostly a visual thing. You can stir it up again and everything is hunky dory. The other problem (for me, not for Elizabeth) is that I couldn’t drink all mine because it seems to bring on my chest pains. I think it’s my liver that’s causing that problem. But more on that later…