Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Banana Brainwave

Last week I listened to an audiobook "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert. While Elizabeth is in Bali, she meets a woman who heals with food. As an aside, she mentions to Elizabeth that if she want to make her hair beautiful, she should do the following: When a banana plant is cut down (they look like trees, but they aren't trees) after it flowers and produces a bunch of bananas, hollow out the stump like a bowl. The plant will still be pumping up it's sap and this will collect in the bowl. Put this on your hair. That was it. Liz reported it but didn't try it on her hair.

We had just harvested some bananas, so I took a knife out to the stump and began carving.

The cell structure is fascinating in these banana plants.

I put a plate over the opening an left it alone.

It was a bit of a gamble, I thought, because when you prepare the flower of a banana, you must either wear gloves or smear coconut oil on your hands and under your fingernails because there is a substance in the flower that, when it oxidizes, turns black....which is just about the last thing my hair needs. I decided to do a test with some hair from my hairbrush.
I brought the twist of hair to the plant, removed the cover and found the banana bowl almost full of liquid. I set the hair in the bowl, where it sailed around, the breeze using stray hairs as a kind of sail, until I submersed it and replaced the lid.

A couple of days later, I retrieved the hair sample.

It seemed to have kept the colour, although it was a little hard to tell because of the fuzzballs from my hairbrush (I should have washed the sample first) and a few hairs that indicate the possibility that my husband used my hairbrush.

I dipped out the liquid.

I used it as a leave-in rinse (using no conditioner) and truly, my hair has not been shinier or softer for ages.

Thanks Liz Gilbert, both for your wonderful book and for this tip. I'm posting just so you know it works. Please tell your Balinese friend Thanks from me.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Lamb Masala Fusion Tagine

This lamb dish sits on a bed of tri-colour quinoa cooked with seaweed (kombu) and pumpkin seeds. This can be cooked ahead.

The fun part of this dish is making the masala, but first the lamb
needs to be marinated. I used minced lamb, because that's what I had.
Mix 2-3 Tbsp. yogurt, minced garlic and grated ginger into the lamb to

2 tsp. coriander seeds*
cinnamon 2 1" sticks (I use ceylon cinnamon because it's sweeter and crumblier)
2tsp. poppy seeds*
4 green cardamon
4 cloves
1tsp. fennel seeds*
coconut half fresh or equivalent
Roast in pan until aroma blooms. cool. Add 2 tsp. Thai chili* powder (could be Kashmiri or red)
1 tsp. turmeric powder
2 green chilis*
handful of peanuts
Grind into a paste using just enough water and coconut milk to facilitate. I need a better mortar and pestle. I used a "smart stick" with a grinder attachment for most of the job.

Heat coconut oil in pan. Saute the onions. Once they are translucent
add some minced garlic, ginger and turmeric while cooking for a minute
more. Add half the cilantro leaves, the masala paste, some coconut
milk, one half chopped preserved lemon and the tomato puree. Simmer while you
brown the lamb balls in another pan to cook the fat out of them.

When the lamb balls have browned, drain on a paper towel then add to the masala sauce. Cover and cook on lowest hear for half an hour for mince to one hour for lamb chunks. Check occasionally to insure there is enough liquid and the bottom is not sticking or burning. Stir.

Just added lamb balls.

To plate, put quinoa in bowl and ladle lamb on top. Garnish with more chopped cilantro. I didn't have any more so I used micro greens. Still good!

I find the preserved lemon keeps the dish from being heavy....I digest it better. (The Moroccan influence).

The peanuts just make the sauce creamier. (The Thai influence).

*means it comes from my garden.I never actually measure anything.

The inspiration for this dish came from here

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Banana Flower Curry

Banana Flower Dinner

Our Brazilian Banana was ready to harvest, so we cut down the bunch. At the bottom was the remaining flower. Curious about its taste, I thought I would make a salad with it but it turned into this curry.

After admiring the flower part appropriately, cut each red leaf at the bottom so that it releases. Remove the little banana ovaries and stack the leaves inside each other for fine chopping. Once the undeveloped bananas become even more undeveloped, cut the stamen and pistil end off and keep the bottom part. Put the chopped flower (red leaf and ovary parts) in water with some apple cider vinegar. This is to prevent oxidization, which can happen quickly.
***While working with this either wear thin rubber gloves or cover your hands and fingernails with coconut oil. (I suppose any oil would work). The juice can stain your hands.****

Make a paste: Grind together:
De-seeded and chopped Thai peppers
(or leave a few seeds in)
Minced garlic
A few drops of home made habanero sauce
Palm sugar
Fresh grated ginger
Fresh grated turmeric (or powdered)
Grind peanuts, macadamia nuts, sesame seeds, Add to paste
Sesame oil
Coconut milk
Fish sauce
Lemon juice.
Mash as you go along in the mortar and pestle*
Chop basil and mint together and set aside.
Chop poached chicken and set aside.
Chop red onion.
Heat a pan, adding coconut oil and sesame oil.
Cook red onion,adding a little stock or water so it doesn't burn. Stir in some paste. When half cooked, add chopped chicken and add more paste.
In a separate heated pan, heat oil and add strained banana flower pieces and sauté with paste. When pieces are soft, add the chicken/onion mixture and cook a little more. Adjust flavour by adding more paste or sesame chili oil. Plate and top with the chopped greens.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Dum Aloo (delicious potatos)

Dum Aloo
10 small potatoes, cut into 4 pieces
2 medium sized red or yellow onions
(I found tiny red, yellow and white onions for this).
3" piece of ginger, peeled
4 cloves of garlic
5 dry red chilis (I used Thai peppers from the garden)
4 Tablespoons of almonds, chopped
3 cloves
4 Green Cardamons
1" stick of cinnamon
1 Teaspoon cumin seeds

1Teaspoon powdered termeric (I use fresh)
3/4 Cup tomato puree
1 Cup coconut milk
1Tablespoon Garam Masala
1 Tablespoon oil (I use coconut oil)
7-8 Tablespoons oil
2 Tablespoons raisins (the sweetness creates the balance with all the spices and the tomato)
chopped cilantro to garnish


Peel the potatoes and pierce them with a fork. Soak in salt water for 1/2 hour. Bite size or a little bigger. Two bite size is good.

Grind ginger, garlic and dry red peppers into a paste.
(This one little sentence had me doing the craziest things in the kitchen. Suffice to say, sticking it all in the mortar and pestle and pounding does not work, at least not until some vegetable remediation happened. It helped to use different words. Mince the garlic, grate the ginger and chop the peppers finely, then put all in the mortar and pestle to make a paste with the ingredients. I left the seeds in two of the peppers, but that's optional.)

Cut the onions in half and slice thinly in half moons. ( I just cut the tiny onions I had in half). Drain the potatoes and sprinkle them with 1 teaspoon Turmeric. I enjoyed sprinkling turmeric on uncooked potatoes, for some reason.

Heat 1 Tablespoon of oil and fry the potatoes, at medium heat, until they are slightly brown on all sides. ( Go on, add a little know you want helps them brown.) Scoop them out of the pan until later.

Add the rest of the oil to the pan. Add cinnamon, cloves, ( I totally forgot the cloves, but I added some coriander) and cardamon. When it starts to sizzle, add the cumin seeds. after 30 seconds, add the onions and fry them until they are glazed and slightly brown.

Although the recipe doesn't say to do so, I ground up all of the spices before I put them in.

Add the ginger garlic chili past to it. Stir for about 2 minutes and add the potatoes, turmeric and salt. Fry at medium heat until the oil separates on the sides of the pan. Add the almonds and tomato puree can cook some more until the mixture coats the potatoes and the oil separates.

Add the coconut milk, chopped raisins, garam masala and 3/4 cup water. Cover tightly and simmer at low heat until potatoes are fork tender. If there is more liquid left at this point, uncover and cook at high heat, watching carefully, until there is only enough to coat the potatoes and a bit more.

Sprinkle cilantro leaves over top once you have put all in a bowl or plated the dish. (It's not quite the same, but any kind of parsley works as well).

Lots of complex flavour and the best potato dish I have ever eaten! We ate the whole thing and didn't have anything else. The traditional way would be to serve parathas, kuchas or naan with it but that adds up to way too much carbohydrate.

It took me six months to get around to trying this recipe. It seemed complicated, reading it, but it's just sequential actions that add up.

Cheesy Kale Green Chips

 Cheesy Kale Green Chips

Healthy and crunchy.

(add some tiny red tomatoes as garnish and make it festive!)
1/3 cup cashews, soaked 1-2 hours (optional)
2 Tbsp. lime juice
1 C water: this is to make it the right consistency to massage the mixture on the leaves. (If you like lots of dip on chips, use less water).
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp. Celtic Sea Salt
(or any good salt)
¼ cup nutritional yeast
¼ medium shallot or ½ small yellow onion (optional)
½ tsp. chili powder
Pinch cayenne
Pinch turmeric ( I use fresh, and more than a pinch)
4 cloves garlic (we like garlic)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Blend all ingredients well in Vitamix Blender.
Add enough water to make this mixture into a creamed soup texture and pour into low sided bowl.
Dip kale or collard leaves (or Amaranth or Swiss chard, be creative, but the curly kale holds the most sauce) in mixture and massage the mixture onto the leaves. Arrange them on dehydrator sheets. Dry them for
4-6 hours in dehydrator (until crispy). I dehydrate at low temperatures 105-110 degrees so that the enzymes remain intact and this takes up to 8 hours to dry them to a crispy state.

inspiration for these chips from:  Robyn Openshaw

These are utterly addictive and completely healthy. Better and tastier than chips and dip.
In a coastal climate you need to add a desiccant to a tightly closed tin to keep them crispy but if they loose their crisp just put them in the dehydrator or oven at the lowest possible temperature to crisp them up again.

Here are some different kale chip recipes from: Vanessa Nowitzky, a student of Victoria Boutenko
I haven't tried them yet, but here is what she says:
"These chips are so fabulous you will never want regular chips again. Dried kale is surprisingly filling-- these nutritious and rich chips are a meal unto themselves. Each of the following recipes uses about 1 head of green curly kale. Ruffles have ridges, therefore curly kale holds the flavor best. Don't use the woody stems. Tear large bite-sized pieces of the leaves into a large bowl and pour a sauce (recipes below) over the kale, massaging with your fingers until the kale is thoroughly saturated. Spread saturated kale pieces onto dehydrator trays with Teflon sheets and dehydrate at 105° for 12- 15 hours. The leaves shrink and should emerge crispy."

(NB..I like to use whole leaves when making these as appetizers. They are fun to nibble, using the central stem as a handle.)

Cheezy Kale Chips
This rich and flavorful chip is sure to please. Saturate kale in Pine Nut Cheeze Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1 large red or orange bell pepper, cut into pieces
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1 - 2 Tablespoons of nutritional yeast
Grind pine nuts in food processor until crumbling into paste. Add bell pepper chunks, lemon juice and yeast, and grind until creamy. A little extra water may be necessary if the nuts don't blend in. Follow directions (above).

Hummus Kale Chips
  • 1/2 cup sprouted pumpkin seeds
  • optional: 1/4 cup sprouted sesame seeds
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 stalks green onion
  • 2 stalks celery
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoon cayenne
Grind seeds well in coffee grinder. Chop all other ingredients and blend together in food processor. Follow directions (above).

Sesame Kale Chips

  • 1 cup sprouted sesame seeds
  • 2 medium plums (pitted, about ¾ cup chopped)
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1 clove garlic
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 inch fresh ginger root, minced
  • Cayenne to taste.
Grind sesame seeds in coffee grinder. Blend all other ingredients in food processor, finally adding ground sesame. Follow directions (above).

Fat Free Kale Chips
In the Vita-Mix, blend the following ingredients well without water (use the tamper):
  • 1 medium small zucchini
  • 1 large red, orange or yellow bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 2 stalks celery
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • dash of cayenne pepper or to taste. Follow directions (above).

This tomato and pesto flavored chip is made with Purple Curly Kale.

  • 1 large Tomato
  • 1 medium small yellow zucchini
  • approx. 1 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1 large bunch fresh basil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion or leek 
I changed this recipe by adding a few tiny tomatoes and some wonderful dehydrated tomato slices, a green zucchini, doubled the garlic, freshly shelled pine nuts, more onion, 1/2 teaspoon of Celtic sea salt, added a jalapeno pepper and nutritional yeast (Making it a "cheezy" Italian, I guess). I also pulled the curly kale into bite size pieces away from the central stem, mostly to save space in the dehydrator but also making the "massaging" of the sauce into the kale easier and faster. Hmmmm.....I guess it's a different recipe now, as I seem to have changed every ingredient.
I like these spicy, tomato flavoured chips. I also like that they are torn into small pieces so they can be eaten like popcorn.....not as formal or beautiful as dipping and dehydrating the whole leaf, but still good. The cheesy kale chips, the first recipe, is still my favourite but variety, after all, is the spice of life. 

    Thursday, March 19, 2009

    Walnut Pate Party Boats

    Walnut Pate Party Boats

    3 Cups Soaked Walnuts
    1/4 Cup Nama Shoyu (Or less, depending on taste)
    1-2 Pinches Sea Salt
    Cumin to taste
    1 Handful of Cilantro
    2 Scallions
    2 Carrots
    2 Celery Stalks

    Put all in a food processor and pulse for 20-30 seconds. Serve on anything!

    Can also add kefir cheese

    If you want to get creative, you can add the celery stalks, for the white one, then the carrots and some beets for the orange one, and cilantro, scallions, basil......anything green you like, for the green one. If you feel like it you can add pine nuts. Serve in raw pepper boats or zucchini boats, or wrapped inlettuce or in a wrap or with flax crackers.

    Home Made Deodorant

    Quick Stick Deodorant


    In the DIY world of home health and beauty products, deodorant seems to be the the most feared replacement. Stinking is NOT OKAY in our culture, right?

    But aluminum crammed in your pores cannot be good for you, and it seems in recent years that store-bought deodorant is becoming less and less effective anyway. This deodorant uses a natural moisture absorber (cornstarch), a natural deodorizer (baking soda), and a natural anti-bacteria/fungal oil (tea tree oil) to keep any stink from developing in the first place.

    So, here's what I suggest....make this stuff ahead and use it on SATURDAY, or a sick day, or any day you aren't going to see anyone special, so you'll feel secure and not look like a nut obsessively sniffing your underarms all day. Once you get over the stink phobia, let your body get used to it, and you'll never go back.

    Homemade Stick Deodorant

    1. Put 1/4 cup each of baking soda and cornstarch** in a bowl with 10+ drops tea tree oil. (I like 20 drops, but I'm a tea tree oil nut. I hear lavender oil will work as well.)

    2. This deodorant can be used as a powder, but if you want a stick, go to the shortening section of the store and buy this solid-at-room-temperature-awesome stuff:

    3. Stir 2+ TBSP in until it's the consistency you like.

    4. Smash into empty deodorant container. (Will be a bit sturdier once it sets a day or so.)

    When applying this deodorant, use a lighter hand than you would with normal stick deodorant, especially the first couple of days or it'll drop little balls on your bathroom rug.

    Used correctly, this stuff is invisible and lasts for ages, as it works with a very light layer. You should not be able to SEE it once applied.

    **If you have especially sensitive skin, increase the amount of cornstarch to 6T and decrease the baking soda to 2T.

    Saturday, March 14, 2009

    Dahlia with a unicorn

    Gluten Free Pie Crust

    Gluten Free Pie Crust

    This gluten-free crust is for a nine-inch pie plate. (but barely)

    * 1/4 Cup Butter
    * 3/4 Cup Quinoa flour
    * 1/2 Tsp Salt
    * 1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
    * 2 Tbs Water

    Pie Crust Instructions

    1. Pre-heat the oven to 350F
    2. Put the butter into a pot, and put the heat on low.
    3. When the butter is melted, add the quinoa flour, salt and baking powder. You can pre-mix it if you like, but it will get pretty well mixed during the following two steps.
    4. Using a large spoon, mix the butter into the gluten-free flour mixture. Keep mixing and pressing in the unmelted butter until the wheat-free flour is evenly mixed with the butter.
    5. Add the water. Mix until the water is evenly mixed with the gluten-free flour mixture.
    6. Dump the gluten-free pie crust mixture into the pie pan.
    7. Using your fingers, press the wheat-free pie crust into an even covering along the bottom of the pan and up the sides.
    8. Using a fork, poke holes into the base of the crust. They do not have to penetrate the crust, but it is OK if they do. Place fork-holes about every inch or so around the outer edge of the bottom of the pie pan, and round the middle too.
    9. Place the pie crust in the oven. Bake until brown (approximately 20 minutes). Check it every so often to make sure it does not burn!
    10. Remove from the oven and add gluten-free pie filling.
    11. Bake according to pie filling instructions

    Holiday Breakfast Pie

    For special breakfasts, it's sometimes good to be able to get a head start the day before.
    1.) Line a pan bottom with puff pastry, then build the sides with puff pastry strips. Poke holes in the bottom of pastry with a fork. Cover bottom with good quality tomato paste and sprinkle very finely cut onion on top. When the onion is half cooked and before the puff pastry is browned, remove from oven.

    2.)Mix cream cheese ( I use home made goat's kefir cheese) with grated cheese. I use parmisano-reggiano usually, or whatever's around. Add finely chopped parsley, a few chili flakes, season to taste. Spread on top of tomato topping, keeping away from edges a little. Beat an egg white with a little water and brush on the sides of the puff pastry conainer. You can finely chop zuccini, red pepper or other vegetable to add, but make sure yoyr puff pastry sides are high enough for both this mixture and the eggs you are going to add later. Think about where you want to put your eggs and make little nest places in the cheese mixture to hold the eggs in the next step. Back into the oven it goes. Leave until the cheese is a little melted or cooked looking and the puff pastry is slightly brown.

    You can stop after either 1 or 2 and continue in the morning.

    3.) Last part: carefully crack eggs on top into the little depressions you made. I crack two eggs for each person. You need to work this out before you many people, eggs...what size dish. Chop chives or gree onion on top. I usually tent with aluminum foil so that the tops of the eggs don't get rubbery and dried out while baking. This part always takes longer than I think it will, but now's the time to set the table and get the coffee and tea ready. Take the aluminum tent off for the last few minutes to crisp up the edges of the puff pastry if it needs it.

    It's very festive looking.

    James' Wonderful Non Gluten Waffles

    James makes really great waffles.

    This recipe requires that the grains be ground once soaked, so check first, if you don't have a Vitamix or other 2HP blender, to see if your blender will grind soaked grains. (Slow speed until it's mostly ground).
    We use an UNO waffle iron now.
    The only time I have heard James curse is when we had our first waffle iron.
    It always stuck. (Now he sings as he cooks.)

    The grain ratio can change, depending upon what you have:
    1 cup whole buckwheat kernels
    1/4 cup whole teff
    1/4 cup whole amaranth
    1/4 cup whole millet
    1/4 cup whole quinoa
    (organic grains)
    1 tsp baking powder
    4 eggs, separated
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    1 T molasses
    3 T butter
    1/4 tsp salt

    Soak grains overnight in goat kefir, (or for a few days, with the kefir they will begin to culture which means added flavour),
    with liquid just covering the grains (add more when they soak it up).
    (Soak quinoa separately in water).
    Melt butter.

    Beat egg YOLKS until smooth. Mix in molasses and vanilla and salt.
    Combine cultured grains and baking powder in blender, blend until
    Mix melted butter into egg mixture, then add blended grains. Mix
    until all ingredients are combined.

    Beat egg WHITES until soft peaks form. Fold egg whites into batter.
    Ladle batter into pre-heated, butter painted, waffle iron and cook
    until browned.

    We have them with creme fraiche, which I kefir from raw cream, and
    blueberries, maple syrup or agave syrup.

    I know, it seems fiddley, but it's just part of our routine.
    We are now kefiring a large batch of grains. Some is used for the waffles and the rest kefirs a few more days to be used in making a gluten free sour dough ciabatta bread.

    Investment and Returns

    Last night I sat down to eat a bowl of soup. I looked at it for awhile. Without the sprout and pepper garnish, it could have looked a little like a tetrapack cream soup, maybe, at first glance, even something from a can. This soup, though, had a different history.

    Two years ago, I made a celery root soup. I cut the gnarly top of the root away and planted it in the ground. It grew a bunch of celery stalks, flowered and produced seeds. I didn't pay a lot of attention beyond cutting stalks once in awhile. The next year, a small forest of celery grew in the area. More than I, while cleaning up the garden I dug out some roots to make a celery soup. Digging, cleaning and chopping takes awhile, but the stock was being made, so there was time.

    I love organic chickens that have the neck, heart and other organs tucked into a little bag inside the chicken cavity, as they make the best beginning to a stock. While the chicken is roasting, all sorts of veggies go into the stock on top of the stove. Carrot tops and pieces of carrot, vegetable ends, like asparagus stalks, swiss chard, garlic, onion, celery stalks and yellow beets. It cooks for awhile, there is a roasted chicken dinner, then the bones and pan drippings (minus the fat) are added, along with the chicken stuffing: bay leaves, ginger, onion, citrus. It simmers some more.

    We go out, the stock cools. We return, the stock is strained and used to cook the celery root. Some carrots, hjiki and red onion are added to balance the root flavour. The seaweed has enough saltiness in it. The herbs from cooking the chicken are enough flavour.

    The vegetables are cooked in the broth, but are left to cool and blend while we work outside.

    There is a pattern here of attention and inattention, but during the times of inattention, change still takes place. At this stage, the flavour deepens.

    By the time we are hungry, all that is left to do with the soup is to blend it into a rich, velvety smooth texture, reheat and garnish with a mixture of sprouts. A high powered blender like Vita-mix makes a velvety texture).

    This is why I'm sitting looking at the soup. It looks just like a tetrapack soup, but it is so much more. There was a time in my life in which I thought that if I could just take a daily pill for nourishment, I'd be happy. Has this been a waste of time? Could I have accomplished more if I had used the time differently?

    What else could have given me such connection with the land, such continuity through the seasons, such sureness about growth and change and reinvention?

    Because I had invested in a piece of gnarly root by planting it in the soil instead of throwing it into the garbage, two years later I was eating this soup. An investment, with a quality stock, yielding delicious returns. My stock market is either the farmer's market or my own back yard. No downturn here, only new spring growth.

    It's difficult to eat soup and laugh at the same time. This is the best return on an investment.

    Exception to the rule Kale

    Ok...I don't usually eat bacon. This is the exception.
    (Turkey bacon is fine, and that's usually what I use).
    Chop bacon in to small bits and cook in frypan. When it is almost done, add chopped onion. Let it cook for a bit, then add chicken stock, just enough to steam kale, which is already cut up. If the kale has big stalks, cut them small and add them when you add the onion.
    Add kale leaf pieces now. Cover with lid. Stir occasionally. It's finished when the kale is soft. May need a little more chicken stock. Steam slowly, don't fry it. Add a few drops of chili sesame oil. Fabulous with freshly ground Indonesian comet tail pepper, ground in mill.

    Delicious, Crunchy Baked Broccoli

    Preheat the oven to 425.

    Take as much broccoli as you want to eat, cut into florets (but relatively big ones.) Best thing to do is prep the broccoli beforehand so it is not only ready, but dry.

    Now, it's easy. Put the broccoli on a cookie sheet. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper (or just have salt and pepper mills at the table). Now add 4 garlic cloves that are peeled and sliced and toss them in too. 3Tbs. pine nuts. Some dried chili flakes.

    Roast in the oven 20 to 25 minutes, until "crisp-tender and the tips of some of the florets are browned."

    In the middle add lemon juice and stir around. Move the broccoli around a few times during cooking.

    When it's done, take it out of the oven sprinkle zest of a lemon over the broccoli, squeeze a little more lemon juice over, add a little more olive oil, and 1/3 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Put back in oven so cheese will do its thing. Good Parmesan doesn't exactly melt.

    I made it in a cast iron frying pan so I could take it directly from the oven to a trivet at the table. Toss at table. A nice, crunchy, roasty change from steamed broccoli.

    Non Gluten sourdough bread with seeds

    I'm writing this down so that I have something that at least approaches a recipe. It has taken a lot of trial and error and thought to get it this far.

    Making super nutritious, delicious, non gluten bread

    1). Soak these whole grains in kefir:
    Buckwheat (1 and a half times more than the rest of the grains)
    Cover loosely and allow to begin to culture.

    2). Soak in water:
    Change water once (quinoa can be slightly bitter without that water change)
    Cover loosely

    3). Soak in water:
    Sunflower seed
    Sesame seed
    Pumpkin seed
    Cover loosely. Change water daily to sprout instead of ferment.

    (Cover is to keep bugs or dust and light out)
    In the last two hours before making the bread, soak flax seeds.

    all grains above are raw and organic

    Why all this soaking? Grains and seeds contain phytates which are there to stop them from molding or sprouting at inappropriate times. Soaking releases the phytates and makes minerals and vitamins more bio-available to our systems.

    Depending on the room temperature, you can let this process go on for 3 to 5 days. (In higher temperatures, it happens faster.)

    4). Leave the kefir on the 4 grains (it should have all soaked in anyway), drain any water from the quinoa and put in all the dry carafe for vita mix. Blend on low speeds until you have a batter. (If you don't have a vitamix or other powerful blender, make a small test batch to see if your blender will grind the soaked grains.)

    5). Yeast prep:
    In small bowl put a little sugar (for the yeast to eat) and some water (90 degreesF or neutral temperature when a drop is put on your inner wrist.) About a quarter cup of water. Put in one package of yeast. If the water is too hot it will kill the yeast. If water is too cold, yeast will take longer to wake up and begin to eat the sugar. It looks a little foamy when it is dining on the sugar.
    Add to the batter.

    6). Add:
    2 eggs
    some salt
    some good olive oil
    xanthan gum..this is because none of the grains have gluten in them, which is what gives bread it's characteristic lightness....little pockets of air that the yeast makes are normally held by the strength of the gluten. Xanthan gum helps with this, although this bread is more dense than a fluffy white bread. Add herbs like fresh rosemary, or anything else you like.

    7). Add the sprouted seeds. You can also add hemp seeds, chopped sun dried tomatoes, rosemary, chopped olives or whatever else you like in bread at this time. Lightly blend the seeds, leaving some whole.

    The bread sponge is too wet at this point, so get out containers of flour: amaranth, millet, quinoa, garbanzo/fava, (whatever no gluten flour you have) and slowly add while turning and kneading until it has the texture and feel of a regular bread dough.
    You can also use some coconut flour, but because it is somewhat antibacterial it will slow the rising a little. Don't use only coconut flour for that reason.
    Make dough into a ball, set in bowl, cover surface with good olive oil (so it doesn't get a "skin" of partially dried dough). Wet a clean tea towel, fold in half and clip over top of bowl (6 clips will hold it flat like a drum skin on the rim of the bowl) to provide humidity.
    Put in oven and put the oven light on (for heat to make yeasts grow and dough to rise). Leave for a few hours or over night.
    It should double in size.

    8). Cut risen dough into several pieces to make small loaves. I make small, single serving size flat focaccia-type loaves and put them on a non stick cookie sheet. You can also sprinkle corn meal on the sheet before putting the loaves down. (I'm beginning to make larger loaves now, as each batch of bread is better and lighter.)

    9). Separate an egg. Add a little water to the whites, beat, and with a pastry brush, brush the tops of the loaves. Sprinkle whatever interests you with bread on the top: small rock salt pieces, chopped rosemary, fennel, ground coriander, tiny pieces of dried citrus, herbs de provence, or some other kind of mixture of herbs.

    10). Put back in oven with light on to let rise again to about double height. (They don't get a much larger footprint).

    11). Bake at 375 degrees until done.....slightly brown. They don't take as long as a regular loaf because they are smaller, and with all the soaking and culturing, they are already partially "cooked" anyway.

    12). Remove and let cook on rack. When room temperature, put into waxed paper bags and into a bread box. Do not will loose the complex taste. This is real food, it will last at room temperature, unless you have made too big a batch. If you have, freeze the loaves and thaw as necessary.

    The first time you make it, it seems to take forever. Then, you realize it's only a few minutes time every once in awhile.....less time, all added up, than going to the store and back. So much more nutritious too. Where I live, non gluten breads with few ingredients are $6.50 a loaf and it is often moldy or is dry and crumbly within a day or two of purchase.

    This bread is high in food value, so one of these little loaves (big cookie size) with a piece of cheese is a meal. A really filling and nutritious meal.
    We like these small loaves best, but with each batch I make some larger ones as well, for sandwiches.

    pi pie

    Yam and Roasted Cashew Soup

    Yam and Roasted Cashew Soup

    500g (1 lb) yams, peeled and sliced
    4 cups vegetable stock
    2 Tbsps olive oil
    1 tsp red chilies
    1 Tbsp chopped ginger
    1 Tbsp chopped garlic
    3 medium carrots, sliced
    1 large onion, sliced
    1/4 cup flour (I never seem to need a thickening agent like this)
    3 t soy sauce
    1 tin (6 oz) light coconut milk
    Few sprigs coriander (cilantro) plus extra for garnish
    Salt and pepper
    1 cup cashew nuts

    1. In a large pot, boil yams in vegetable stock fifteen minutes.
    2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in large fry pan and add chilies, ginger, garlic, carrots, onion and saute until soft.
    3. Mix in flour with a wooden spoon.
    4. Pour in the stock and yams.
    5. Blend all in a food processor until smooth.
    6. Return to large pot and simmer fifteen minutes, add all the coconut milk.
    7. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, pour soy sauce over cashew nuts, toss to cover, and bake ten minutes, turning several times to brown evenly. This can be done in skillet on stovetop.
    8. Add the few sprigs of coriander and seasoning to the soup.
    9. Serve the soup and garnish with coriander leaves and cashews.

    Friday, March 13, 2009

    Non Gluten Banana Bread

    Non Gluten Banana Bread

    2C flour: buckwheat, amaranth, teff, quinoa, millet or a mixture
    2T xanthan gum
    2t baking powder
    1/2t baking soda
    1/2t salt
    1/2C sweet or cultured butter
    some sugar ( I've seen recipes calling for one cup, but I just put a little evaporated cane sugar in....maybe 1/4 C
    2 eggs
    4 really ripe bananas
    1/3C kefir
    1C walnuts (who measures?)
    1C shredded raw, unsweetened coconut
    1C blueberries (can be frozen, thaw first) add an extra handful if you want to put some on top.
    1T vanilla

    Whisk together flour, xanthan gum, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
    In a larger bowl bowl cream together butter and sugar until creamy and fluffy. Incorporate eggs, slowly. Still in slow mode, add the dry ingredients, alternating with kefir. Start and end with dry ingredients.

    Stir in mashed bananas, coconut, vanilla, blueberries and walnuts.

    lightly grease (or line with parchment) two loaf pans (8X4). Fill both pans with batter. If you want, put some blueberries and a little sugar on top.

    Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 to 55 minutes. Rack to cool.

    Friday Night Finger Foods

    The puff pastry cups contain home made goat's cheese and a variety of things like anchovies, red pepper, zucchini bits, sun dried tomatoes, etc.
    Stir a little water into an egg white and paint the outside edges of the pastry.
    When baked (425 degrees F until puffed and golden brown) these are tasty cups to hold chipoltle guacamole (mashed avocados with chipotle salsa) or some of the other tasty bits on the plate, like the sprouts or salmon.

    The salmon was cooked with a little coconut oil. Put in oven while you cook the shrimp, or be brave and cook both at once in their own skillets.

    For the shrimp, cut tiny pieces of ginger, onion, red pepper, zucchini and saute in butter.
    Squeeze in garlic and once the vegetables are almost cooked, add the shrimp.

    Serve salmon on beds of sprouts and sprinkle a little tamari on the salmon. The shrimp is served in beds of the sauted vegetables, with some for garnish on top. Pile on the puff cups and add chipotle guacamole and tiny loaves of wheat free multi-grain bread, sliced thin. (see non gluten bread recipe or make your own recipe).

    More filling than it looks and a great finger licking way to begin the weekend.

    cinnamon and honey medicine
    This page talks about various folk cures using cinnamon and honey both internally and externally

    oatmeal pancakes

    Oatmeal Pancakes

    makes 16 pancakes


    * 2 cups Old Fashioned Quaker Oats, or other quick-cooking oatmeal (actually, I'm going to thermos cook whole oat groats, with a small amount of seaweed)
    * 2 cups buttermilk (I'm using goat's milk kefir)
    * 2 large eggs
    * 1 tablespoon honey
    * 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (coconut oil)
    * 1/2 cup flour (amaranth, millet, quinoa or buckwheat)
    * 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (the soft, ceylon bark)
    * 2 tablespoons sugar (probably not)
    * 1 teaspoon baking soda
    * 1 teaspoon baking powder
    * 1/2 teaspoon salt


    Add oats and buttermilk to a mixing bowl. Stir to combine and cover with wet T towel. Let sit for awhile.over night is fine so the grain begins to culture (this gives the pancakes their distinctive texture). Add eggs, honey and oil. Stir to combine. Add the remaining ingredients and mix together.

    Lightly oil a non-stick pan or griddle. Pour batter in 1/4 cup increments. Watch for the tops to bubble. Turn pancakes and cook until golden on the second side.