Winter Salad – Eating in Season

 

A beautiful salad I wish I could’ve chowed down on!

 

Another recipe from my Earl Grey School teaching series in Calgary. Keeping it simple and fun allowed the kids to have a blast putting this one together.

Ingredient by ingredient they identified in season veggies

These ingredients were a great segway into teaching about carbon footprints, our impact on the earth and what it truly means to be a locavore.

The kids love participating ~ even when it’s just emptying out a baggie into a bowl. Hands on is key & food is the way to their hearts and minds.

Another  vegan (nearly raw) recipe requiring no cooking – perfect for you to pick up and make at home with your family.

I was SO impressed by what the kids knew about the items that we discussed. One girl even knew (without using the exact terminology) that broccoli and kale belonged to the same family ~ brassicas ~ faith in some of humanity restored….look at all those hands up in the air!

 

The smart board here is showing my chart that addresses carbon footprint impacts in the food production industry.

With the use of technology we were able to forego our usual paper handouts (which I hope were making it home for parents to have a look at all the continued resources) and put up a lot of great information for the class to have a look through and comment on.

These kids will definitely be thinking more “Earth first” after going through how they themselves can help reduce carbon emissions by the choices they make as little humans – they seemed to come away feeling quite empowered. If you’re looking for the lesson plan I used to accompany this recipe – contact me!

Ingredients:

– 3 cups raw, washed broccoli florets

– 2 cups blanched yams, cubed

– 2 cups frozen or fresh peas

– 1 cup green onion diced

– 3 cups chopped kale (any variety)

– 4 tbsp lemon juice

– 2 tsp grated ginger

– 1 tsp Himalayan salt

Method: 

Combine all ingredients in large bowl, stir and serve. You can also store in the

I think this one works best if you settle it in the refrigerator for a few hours to let all the flavours combine.

Top this recipe with sesame seeds or toasted pumpkin seeds as I have omitted these due to allergies.

Great as a side dish, this recipe serves 8-10 sides.

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Italian salad – Raw Vegan

The sun has been shining and I am happy to report that I have finally gotten to work in my garden after what feels like an eternity. Things are growing and positive vibrations are all around.

This recipe was inspired by a collaboration on a school garden with The Eden Project here in Calgary.  I was lucky enough to be asked to provide them with recipes for a weekly CSA to inspire Calgarians to get familiar with new ingredients, grown locally.

This one is not to be missed. Fresh, tasty and simple.

This weeks ingredient: Mizuna. A Japanese green and member to the brassica family (cabbage/turnip/kale/broccoli). This has also been called California Peppergrass and has a similar flavouring to Arugula, think peppery. Mizuna has a short growing season here in the North, so get yours while you can.

Medicinally speaking, this delicious green provides an abundant source of Vitamins A, C and K all extremely important in the fight against and prevention of Cancers.

This recipe calls for a Spiralizer. These are GREAT in the kitchen and help turn lots of foods into interesting accompaniments to a tonne of meals. I use the Spirooli which you can now purchase from Bed, Bath and Beyond – handy.

Ingredients:

1.5 cups fresh Mizuna

2 medium zuchinni spiralized

1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

3 gloves garlic, pressed

1 tbsp avocado oil

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp nutritional yeast OR freshly grated parmesan

1 tsp chili flakes

1/2 tsp Himalayan salt

Method:

Spiralize or julienne both zuchinni, discard end pieces. Ensure pieces are not too long and are easily edible. Cut larger strands with scissors if needed. In a large bowl toss your zuchinni with oil, add vinegar and toss again. Place all remaining ingredients in large bowl and toss until coated evenly.

Serves 4 as a side salad, 2 as a main course.

Tip: to keep this recipe fresh over 3-4 days leave oil and vinegar out until just before serving to avoid mushiness.

Garlic-y Sauerkraut

Crocks are a delight

Crocks are a delight

 

Another recipe to address eating in-season. Cabbage, carrots, garlic and some spices are all you need to start playing with fermentation! Luckily if you’re North of the 49th, these ingredients are available to you at any time.

You may NOT have a crock but do not fear, if you have some glass vessels you can start out fermenting in smaller batches to see how much you enjoy it and how much you will be consuming before you put out the cash for a crock.

Please do not use metal or plastic – ever.

My suggestion is to check second hand shops and online bargains like Kijiji or Craigslist instead of buying new. This way you can up-cycle and save cash.

This is a larger batch recipe, halve or quarter depending on your brewing vessel. Note: your cabbage volume will decrease by about half by the time you’re ready to ferment.

Ingredients: 

3 heads cabbage

5 large carrots

6 large cloves garlic

2 tbsp celery seed

1/4 cup vinegar (if needed)

1/4 cup water (if needed)

1/4 cup salt (or to taste)

 

Method: 

Slice up veggies thinly as shown below.

In-season goodness

In-season goodness

Next, start massaging your salt (slowly) into the veggies to pull the water out of the cabbage and carrots. This will take some time if you do not have some sort of a tamper to do this for you. Squeeze and squeeze and squeeze until you start to see a lot of water appearing.

Taste a little bit of the mixture to see how salty it is while you are adding salt slowly. Remember, your fermentation process will not remove all salt SO if you over salt, add more veggies.

Wet & ready

Wet & ready

You should start to notice that when you push down on the veggies your water starts to come up over the top of them. This is great. You will need to keep the ferment covered in water for the duration of its souring.

You will need to add some water/vinegar mixture to add more water if you cannot draw enough from your vegetables.

Secret ingredient

Secret ingredient

My secret ingredient is celery seed. I add this at the very end and stir throughout the mixture.

Once your mix is covered with liquid, place a loose towel over the opening of your vessel to allow air to access your new batch of ferment. I like to secure this with an elastic band.

You will need to check on this daily to ensure mold does not appear. Unlike Kombucha, you can scrape mold off of the top of a kraut ferment. Like Kombucha, the length of fermentation is all up to your own personal taste AND the time of year.

The warmer your kitchen the quicker your ferment. Taste in about 2-3 days to see your progress. Allow the ferment to continue until you have the desired level of sourness you like. After this, place a lid on your kraut and refrigerate to stop the fermentation process. Hit up my Kombucha post for fermenting tips.

Remember, you can start to make ferments your own. Add nettle for food medicine, hot peppers for spicy kraut, use purple cabbage for more colour or just stay straight up plain with green cabbage.

Your kraut is resting nicely and soon you will be able to use this delicious food to balance your gut, clear your skin and bring shine to your hair!

Sleeping & souring

Sleeping & souring

What to plant this spring? Here are some MUST haves for the budding Herbalist.

 

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An old herb garden looking alive and potent.

 

When I first started learning about herbal medicine, I had NO idea about how much medicine we have at our fingertips. I also had no idea how medicinal our food could be if we ate things that weren’t necessarily found on our grocers shelves. Trying to incorporate a little bit of herbalism into your every day, or even better – into your kitchen, helps your body to stay healed and grow stronger as you age. Eventually, your body will be chock full of vitamins, minerals and virus fighting medicines without much effort at all.

Of course, not all plant types are going to be found or thrive in every environment SO take some time to get to know these easy growing fellows below. If you find them to be easy to care for, spread your wings and try growing your own at home.

It’s only February BUT looking forward to spring and looking into my seed stores gets me excited to start planting and reaping the benefits of home-grown medicine. I look forward to adding nettles to my ferments, drying herbs in my dehydrator and making skin salves to pass out to my friends and family. I certainly miss all of the classes and students I had in Vancouver, I might have time to squeeze some teaching in again this spring in Calgary.

As always, when using any type of medication, make sure that you consult with your GP and do your research before ingesting unconsciously. Your body deserves a little curious research before undertaking a new regime.

 

Aloe Vera

You can purchase this plant at nearly every home garden supply store. Even Home Depot. Because you aren’t going to be ingesting this plant I feel that you are ok to be a little less questioning of it’s origin.

Why do you want to keep Aloe Vera around? Simply, there are so many topical benefits that there isn’t a reason NOT to. Snap a sample of a well-grown leaf off and you are on your way to healing cuts, wounds, burns, eczema and inflammation.

Marsh Mallow

You can find seeds or starters for this plant at select growers. I order my seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom seeds or Vesey’s. These are pretty hardy plants – but watch out for wet feet!

There are a number of great uses for marshmallow both inside and out. You can take the root internally to help treat inflammation and UT irritations, gastritis or peptic ulcers. Topically, you can use a poultice, salve or cream to treat bruises, sprains, muscle aches, insect bites, slivers or skin inflammation.

Fun food fact: The leaves of the marshmallow plant are edible! Add to salads, boil or fry.

Pot Marigold

These hardy ladies will grown in almost any soil condition. Use a tea consisting of marigold petals to increase circulation and ease varicose viens. A poultice of marigold stems will aid in removing corns and warts.

Camomile

You probably know this as a great fruity tea! Camomile works well in aiding digestive issues and also has a soothing effect in its aroma. This helps reduce stress and induce sleep.

Echinacea

 If you’re living without it, you probably shouldn’t be. This beautiful flower has amazing antibiotic properties that relieve allergies and help prevent viral and bacterial infections. The roots, beneficial in treating sores, wounds and burns when applied as a poultice, salve or cream. She grows well in well-drained soil with a lot of sunlight.

Lemon Balm

By far, the easiest herb I have ever unintentionally grown. The leaves give off a lovely lemony mint scent that cannot be mistaken. Crushed leaves used as a poultice help relieve pain from herpes, sores, gout and bug bites. The leaves infused with hot water can treat colds, fevers, indigestion, depression, headaches and insomnia.

I grew this herb for years in the wet wet wetness that is Vancouver BC!

Peppermint

Nearly another weed, as easy to grown and impossible to kill as Lemon Balm. peppermint is high in manganese, vitamin A and vitamin C. Leaves ground into a salve or cream help to sooth and relax muscles.

Sage

Another herb that is nearly impossible to kill is Sage. When consumed it can help to ease indigestion, flatulence, anxiety and excessive sweating.

 

Here’s to spring, and happy plantings. Stay tuned for my inevitable posts containing the trials and tribulations of trying to sustain plant life in the Rocky Mountains.

 

Sasha

 

 

 

Sourdough bread & starter

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Bread is something that I find hard to leave behind. Of course not all breads, just the delicious, tasty, homemade goodness without preservatives and warm out of the oven.

Sourdough – rye especially – is one of my absolute weaknesses. I’ve even joined a grain share recently to get the BEST local, organic, pesticide free and heritage grains possible. Bring on the bread and buns!!

In order to make a sourdough loaf, you need to have a sourdough starter. There is a time commitment with anything you ferment – and THIS is fermentation. Same as Kombucha or Ginger Beer or Sauerkraut, just a little different end product.

You need to commit at least 5 days to this process, so if you cannot mind your starter for this amount of time, do NOT start this recipe. Pick a time during a staycation or a week when you are not rushing around getting life in order. Your project WILL fail, I speak from experience. You also need to ensure that your home has a consistent temperature. Wild yeasts LOVE warm and are way more active when they are kept that way.

If you are ready to embark, here we go!

Starter ingredients & method:

So easy the kids can do it!

So easy the kids can do it!

Day 1: Make the Initial Starter

Just under 1 cup all-purpose flour
Just over 1/2 cup water (non-chlorinated/spring/filtered if possible)

Combine flour and water in a deep metal bowl/container. Stir until mixed and thick/rubbery. Scrape all excess down sides of bowl & cover loosely with a cloth/cheesecloth. Place container somewhere that is at least 20 degrees consistently. I like to store mine in my pantry on a shelf with the door closed.

24 hours later (Day 2): 

Just under 1 cup all-purpose flour
Just over 1/2 cup water (non-chlorinated/spring/filtered if possible)

You may see some bubbles today – Yay! If not, do not worry.

Repeat day one NOW. 

24 hours later (Day 3): .

 

bubbly

Still no bubbles? That’s ok. Lots of bubbles? Yay – you have some active yeast baby!! Carbon dioxide and alcohol are working their magic. Can you smell the sour?

Repeat instructions for day one NOW. 

24 hours later (Day 4): .

You should be bubbling by now. If not – see troubleshooting below. If so – we are nearly at the finish line and ready to start making bread.

Repeat instructions for day one NOW. 

24 hours later (Day 5): 

If you are bubbled up, vinegary smelling and thinned out, you are ready. If you see no bubbles by now you can continue the process for 1-2 more days. If no bubbles appear you will need to start over. Make sure you have a COZY spot for your yeast to thrive.

LETS MAKE BREAD!

bread

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Starter Maintenance tips: 

It’s ok to scrape off mold in sourdough as in kraut – but NOT with kombucha. Use your discretion if you see mold on your starter.

If you are intending on keeping a regular ritual of bread making you will need to maintain your starter. Daily,discard half and feed your starter as you would on day one.If you are not using the starter every couple of days, cover it tightly and place it in the fridge.

A pinch of commercial bread yeast can kickstart “weak” starters. Try this if you are having any day 3 inactivity.

Take your starter out for 24 hours weekly, feed as in day one at least once per week. Yeast needs time to reactivate – don’t smother your starter with cold!!

Thicken your starter by adding enough flour to make it nearly “unstirable” or dry 2 cups of your starter out on a very low setting in your dehydrator, crumble and place in an airtight mason jar. To reactivate, add crumbles to 1/4 cup of warm water and stir. Begin feeding as you would from the beginning. This is called inoculating your starter. Sourdough “chips” will store for at least 3-4 months.

Your starter gets liquidy if left too long between food or if you used too little flour to water. Pour off excess water or add small amounts of extra flour.

 

Lets make some bread and break some bread!

Recipe by thekitchn.com

I have to say that this ISN’T the best recipe out there however, it is a great starter recipe. The last batch of starter I made I used this recipe with and the results are in the pics above. I wanted to roll out something easy and approachable for any of you newbies. This site also has some good beginner breakdowns for folding and kneading bread.

I hand mix and knead all of my breads which is sort of an art form really. You have to open up and free yourself from the fear that you will screw up your bread – you will. Keep staying lighthearted and playful and soon you will be able to start getting adventurous with your breads. This means….stay tuned for some interesting NEW recipes with some of the crazy flours I’m ordering in.

Ingredients/method and tips: 

1 1/4 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons dry baking yeast
2 cups starter
4 to 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon natural unbleached salt

Combine the water and the yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large mixing bowl. Give the yeast a few minutes to dissolve completely. Stir in the sourdough starter until the starter is mostly dissolved.

Add 4 cups of the flour and the salt, and stir to make a shaggy dough. With the dough hook attachment and your mixer on low speed, knead the dough for about 8 minutes. Alternatively, turn the dough out on a lightly floured counter and knead by hand. Add flour 1 tablespoon at a time as needed if the dough becomes sticky like bubble gum, but try to avoid adding too much. The dough is finished kneading when it comes together into a smooth ball that’s slightly tacky to the touch and holds a ball-shape in your hand.

Clean out the mixing bowl, film it with a little oil, and return the dough to the bowl. Turn it a few times to coat with oil, then cover. Let the dough rise at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Once risen, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and divide it in two. Shape each half into rough balls and let them rest for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, grease two  loaf pans.

divided loaves

 Transfer the loaves to the loaf pans and cover loosely. Let the loaves rise until they’re starting to puff over the rim of the pan, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. 

Slash the top of the loaves a few time with a serrated knife or baking lame, and slide them immediately into the oven.

For a crispier crust, spritz the inside of the oven with water using a water spritzer before closing the oven.

Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 400°F. Continue baking for another 25 to 30 minutes, until the tops of the loaves are deep golden brown and the loaves sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. (Total baking time is 35 to 40 minutes.)

Shake the loaves out of the loaf pans and let them cool completely on a cooling rack.

Vegan Potato Leek soup

 

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Winter is the perfect time to put your local, in season, low carbon footprint eating practices into play. In this recipe I used potatoes from Manitoba, onions and carrots from Alberta, mushrooms and garlic from BC.

Reduce your carbon footprint, support fair trade ethics and keep your consumer-based activities primarily in your own province/state/country.

Ingredients:

2 medium yellow onions diced

6 cloves garlic pressed/diced

4 celery stalks diced

2 medium carrots diced

1.5 cups brown mushrooms sliced

8 red potatoes cubed, skins on (set aside 2 cups)

2.5 cups hot water 3 vegetable bouillon

1 tbsp Himalayan sea salt

1/2 tbsp tri-coloured peppercorns

 

Method:

Saute onions and garlic in slow cooker until translucent. Add carrots, celery and 6 potatoes and cook for 8 more minutes.

Add remainder of ingredients and cook on high for 2 hours. Reduce to low and cook for 6 hours longer.

Boil remainder of potatoes until tender.

With a hand blender puree contents of slow cooker. Add boiled potatoes and potato water, cook for 30 minutes more.

Tip: add more hot water if soup seems too thick.

I served this with my homemade sourdough bread…nom nom nom.

Serves 8

The big “O”

Leading an informed lifestyle can be torturous. Not only do you come upon a tonne of information that both shocks and appals you but, conflicting stories and opinions can start you into a tailspin of confusion about what ethical and heart-based decisions you can make.

Fear not, the quick answer to this is to not beat yourself up about it. You can only do so much, and caring about slow food, farm to table and small-time community initiatives (CSA’s, Farmers Markets, Eating in season…) are a great place to start.

Organics are tricky because, like most things, once the “big boys” get ahold of terms like green, local, organic etc…they start to bastardize their intended meaning…leaving us all, well, throwing our hands up in the air.

While I try not to beat myself over the head with info, I definitely like to keep a personal mandate of NOT supporting big business, especially big agribusiness and big pharma.

I found the chart below exceptionally helpful when trying to weed out “bad” organics from my very saintly regular grocery shops. Hope you find it helpful too!

Infographic Organics