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.