Saturday, November 21, 2009
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Friday, May 22, 2009
Friday, March 27, 2009
We were talking, as Molly signed my book, about writing recipes, and I told her that I wanted to write my family's cookbook and had started by giving my children a booklet of recipes that I had written. I seemed to add my own commentary to the recipes. See the recipe I sent to my son for Valentine's Day last year, full of not just recipe, but me:
Sam's Valentine Cookies
1 stick butter (basic)
½ cup organic cane sugar (basic)
½ cup brown sugar (basic)
1 egg (basic)
a splash of vanilla (basic but oh so good)
1 ¼ cups flour (basic)
1 tsp of baking powder (basic)
1 cup rolled oats (for health)
½ cup coconut (for dreams)
gratings of fresh ginger (for love)
Mix the first three, then add egg, ginger and vanilla. The dry stuff gets thrown in and mixed with the less dry stuff. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10-15 minutes.
Love you, Sam! Happy Valentines Day. They're in the oven right now. I will be mailing them today, expect them Saturday.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
While I was in Oaxaca in 2005, I took a cooking class at the language school I attended, the Instituto Cultura Oaxaca. We used an herb that I knew nothing about before the class. The common names include hierba santa and hoja santa, the Latin name is Piper auritum. Hierba santa is an herbaceous plant, approximately 4 feet tall, with large (about 3 inch by 5 inch) heartshaped leaves. The plant pictured here was growing in the garden where we stayed but I saw it growing everywhere, a native plant or weed?
The leaves have a pleasant anise flavor. We used it in a black bean paste for memelitas, small handmade corn tortillas covered with the beans and freshly made salsa.
This is the recipe from Berta, mi maestra, for the black bean paste for the memelitas:
Preparacion de la pasta de frijol:
Se asan 5 hojas de hierba santa junto con 3 chiles
En una licuadora:
Se mezclan la hierba santa y los chiles con medio kilo de frijo, previamente cocido.
Se licua con el agua necesaria.
Se vierte en una cacerola puesta previament al fuego por 5 minutos con cucharadas soperas de aceite.
El frijol se frie por 20 minutos.
I have not yet been able to find a source of seed or plants of hierba santa but would like to find one and try growing it in my garden.
I think this blog is more food than books. I should rename it!
Friday, February 20, 2009
Kimchi is basically a fermented food, mostly cabbage and very spicy, with a number of additional ingredients. A lot of the types are all-vegetable but a number of them include fish. It is available in most grocery stores but I would like to investigate where there might be unusual types available locally, either in Asian groceries or from stores in the Seattle International District.
Because kimchi is made from a number of vegetables that grow very well in the Pacific Northwest it seems like an ideal food to look into for this region.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Last summer I planted 4 quinoa varieties in my garden, all from Seeds of Change. The varieties included Dave (Four-O-Seven), Brightest Brilliant, Temuco Traditional, and Faro Traditional. I planted twice, first planting at the end of May, the second 2 weeks later. Quinoa seeds are small and the packets had few seeds. I didn't count how many I planted each time to see what kind of germination I got but it seemed as though it was not very high. Although the second planting seemed to be more successful than the first. I wasn't sure how to plant them so they were planted shallowly in rows and thinned (where that was necessary) to about 2 inches apart, the rows about a foot apart in raised beds. I will try planting a little differently based on what I've learned. I have no data to report because it seems that quinoa is a favorite food of chickens, liked even more than amaranth or kale. They left stalks only in my garden by mid-summer. I plan to try growing quinoa again next summer and will attempt to contain the birds or protect the garden.
My friend, Deborah, works at the Oregon State University Vegetable Research Farm and we often talk about trying new crops. She also planted quinoa this past year at the farm and sent me an informal report of her observations:
"So here is what we know about quinoa from this summer. We grew 2 varieties: Cherry Vanilla from Nichols, and Brightest Brilliant from Seeds of Change, plus a relative, Red Aztec Spinach (Huanzontle) from Nichols (usually used as a vegetable--leaves are eaten--rather than a grain). They all grew very tall (6 ft or more) and all lodged to some extent, with lower branches breaking off from the weight of the seed. Brightest Brilliant was the worst for lodging--it was all on the ground after the first fall rain. We did get ripe seed, but it would have been hard to harvest good grain from the plants in the mud. We planted late (June 23), though, so I think if you planted in spring you might get a good crop before the fall rains. We did not harvest any... "
I'm rethinking the whole concept of trying to grow quinoa the way that a vegetable crop in the PNW might be grown. Our wet climate and high-nutrient soils may contribute to the lodging problem, and it is, perhaps, not a good idea to plant them in rows. I've looked at pictures of fields of quinoa and it looks like a wheat field (only much taller) and that the climate may be drier. The seed tops look heavy (high yield) and the plants may do better holding each other upright if planted closer, without wide rows between them. I may even try staking them just to see what I am able to harvest. I also think that finding varieties that mature before the rains start will be important for production of seed for eating or planting.
I plan to try again, hopefully this summer. I'll replant the same varieties as last year, will try to find some others, and will also be trying the Nichols' variety, Cherry Vanilla.
So why bother? I think about the types of food plants that we grow in our gardens and they tend to be low-protein and non-storage types. I think about local food security and it motivates me to try to grow plants that are higher in protein or more grain-like, with storage potential.
I did find a website, Quinoa Corporation, with pictures of quinoa growing in South America. They sell the grain and prepared foods made from it and have some recipes for using it. There are at least 2 recipes for 'tabouli' which is how I use quinoa, to make tabouli-like salads.