Friday, December 08, 2006

another hot cake

what's a ho-cake anyway? (that's what i almost typed. .i think i like this as a nickname..) i think it is a corn hotcake of olden days.

because, you know, i love pancakes. i might even call myself a *connoisseur* of pancakes. i love me some breakfast, and i love me some pancakes. they need to be crispy around the edge, and not too cakey and dense in the center.

my favorite pancakes ever at a restaurant are: Alfalfa's Blueberry Buckwheat (more than a meal ~ in lovely downtown Lexington, KY), and
Cafe Bernardo's Cornmeal Pancakes (in tree-lined Midtown Sac). with their seasonal menu variations, i've not had these in awhile. they *rule*. they have inspired my personal quest to make the perfect pancake (as with the previous entry).
my mama when i was a kid would manage to magically fry smiley-faces or heartshapes into my pancakes. that always made me happy.
and Brooke makes a killer pancake with whatever happens to be in the kitchen, including bananas.
which reminds me that i have a third pancake to add to the Top list: banana pancakes from latin american countries. yum.

so here's my latest:

Winter Squash Cakes.
this was created to use up leftover or extra squash (or sweet potatoes), and eaten with a Greek Egg-Kale Scramble
(also stellar), for a dinner-time breakfast to honor our nightshift boy, mr. Sealion.

4 freerange eggs
about 1/3 cup buttermilk (from my recent butter session), or yogurt-and-water will do
the flesh of 1 (or so) roasted winter squash, very soft. (or one large roasted sweet potato; you get the idea. )
1/3 cup organic cornmeal ( i would have used polenta if i'd had it.. for that perfect texture.. ) ~ just a third-cup!
about 1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda

beat plenty of air into the eggs ~ separate out the whites and fluff 'em up if you have the time/inclination.
add the buttermilk/yogurt and squash.
stir till well combined, and large lumps are smooshed.
stir together the dry ingredients and add them to the wet.
combine till all lumps of flour are incorporated, but not much more.

fry on a medium-hot skillet in butter.
serve with cottage cheese, yogurt, or applesauce. but i venture you'll eat a few just plain!!
my family of taste-testers voted this a winner, for sure. and i have to agree.
great for any time of day. with so many eggs and so little flour, these cakes are filling and marvelous. with two bottomless-hungry boys, and me, at the table, we had only a couple leftover. i think they were just being polite..


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

cottage cheese

in other raw milk news,
i made cottage cheese:
one with raw whole milk, and
one with raw skim.
i put the two jars of raw milk in the oven with the light on (right next to the sourdough starter i'm still sweet-talking.. ),
and waited two days.
today i will cut the curds, drain off the whey, and wash the curds with filtered water.
then we'll have a taste test to see which we like best: whole milk cottage cheese, or skim. as yummy as whole milk products are, i can't imagine the skim would be tastier, but we'll see. .

alright, well. the results are in.
this was a positive experiment, but i really needed more milk to do it up right.
my main complaint was that the milk in the pan was so shallow that i had to babysit each batch intensively (i had to consult the Christmas Ale for support) to keep it at the recommended 110 degrees for 30 mins. i'd let it get up to temp (or a couple over) and then take it off the stove. . over and over. and it turns out that the skim was really the proper choice for cottage cheese (as my recipe further recommended). it curdled and firmed up in the expected amount of time. very pretty. the whole milk, on the other hand, was a creamy mess (gorgeous yellow cream, but all the same) that took forever (3 times as long as the skim.. ) to firm up. i washed the skim milk curds as per directions, but couldn't bare to wash away all that beautiful cream from the whole milk batch, so .. . after hours of draining it, i ended up simply mixing the two batches together for a small bowlful of creamy loveliness. it was more tangy than the kind you get at the store, with a luscious creamy sauce.

what i did:
heat each batch to 110 on the stove.
i cut the curds into relatively uniform pieces,
and stirred everyonce in a while to keep them from "matting".
once they became firm between my fingers, as opposed to their original custard-ish texture,
i drained off the whey,
and washed the curds (of the skim) in cold, filtered water.
then i left them in their cotton baggy to drain for a while.

the cookbook i consulted is _Home_Cheese_Making_, by Ricki Carroll, purportedly the american Guru of home cheese making, and a seminal agent in the recent american *craft cheese revival*.

one of the products of my natural chef education was learning about, and being directed to resources about: the whole body benefits of raw, grass-fed milk. pasteurized milk protects us from the ill effects of *industrialization*, not milk. cows that have the opportunity to live as they were created to live ~ browsing fields of grass ~ produce milk that is wholly good.
for more information on this, i highly recommend
to learn more about Organic Pastures (the milk we use), you can visit their site at

photos, in blogger-random: incubating. can you tell which is whole milk and which is skim?
cutting the curd,
comparing the jars: one with a thick layer of yellow cream, the other with just a skim,
the curds a-stewin',
draining the whey,
the jar of whey (from the skim),
the finished skim cottage cheese,
the whole curds, with their cream soup, draining.

bread and butter

or, rather: butter and bread.

i made butter for the first time! how surprisingly easy!
i put a pint of raw Organic Pastures cream in the food processor, and no more than a couple minutes later:
and real buttermilk.
i washed it with cold, filtered water, and, with the back of a spoon, squeezed out the remaining buttermilk, until the water ran clear when i pressed.

i had to make some bread for butter-to-mouth transport, so i made one from Bernard Clayton's bread cookbook. i used the recipe for "Max's Loaf," and made a few Tiffanie changes. i used 2 cups hard wheat, 1 cup soft wheat, and 2 cups spelt (all whole-grain, ground in the blender) for my flour mixture. i used the buttermilk from my first butter foray, and substituted 1/8 cup of agave nectar in with 1/8 cup raw honey (it called for all-honey). i used pumpkin seeds for the sunflower seeds.
it turned out to be a gorgeous loaf. it was made with packaged yeast, instead of sourdough, with which i'm still finding challenges (it's wild!).

i know ~ my photos are cheesey. i can't help it!
the pumpkin-crusted bread with butter,
the butter in-process, with its companion-bowl ~ the buttermilk.
presentation is "everything" ~ the product in the fridge.

Friday, September 15, 2006

please porridge hot

we've been experiencing some blessedly cooler mornings, and this makes me wanna snuggle up to a warm breakfast that soothes me from the inside. ahhhhh. :)
our fabulous instructor at Bauman College ~ Lizette, shared with us the idea to make porridge with hot water and ground flax seeds.
i've been tinkering, and this is a recipe i like a lot:

Please Porridge Hot (why not)

In the coffee/spice/nut Grinder:
2 tbsp flax seeds
1 tbsp chia seeds
1/4 tsp cinnamon
a dash cayenne (warm it up!)
a dash powdered stevia (or use the liquid dropper later)
a dash sea salt

In the Toasting Pan, on low heat:
chopped nuts and/or seeds of your choice
dried shredded coconut

In the Blender:

all of the above: the ground seed-spice mixture,
the toasted seeds/nuts & coconut
a bowlful of boiling water (you know: more if you like it soupy, less if you like it thicker.
obviously this will depend on the bowls in your kitchen. . )
3-4 dried Mission Figs, chopped

Blend till well combined.

In the Bowl:
adjust seasoning, sweetness and soupiness.
add just a tiny bit of butter (this *makes* it!!)
a dash of cinnamon for presentation

possible mix-ins (endless):
add a little ripe banana in the blender
cocoa powder
dried apple, chopped
agave instead of, or in addition to, the stevia

it is top priority for me to keep meals as low on the glycemic index as possible. that makes this a nice satisfying alternative to grains such as oatmeal for breakfast. and that's why i use figs as opposed to bananas, and stevia instead of other sweeteners. this recipe also gives the great benefits of flax and chia: omega 3's and fiber. with the nuts and butter, this meal will sustain you longer into your morning than sugar-rush cereal or granola (and, of course, all the other sugary "food" you could have for breakfast.. )

it's also just-plain yummy!! and this is the best reason to make this for breakfast. :-D

(one last note is that i always use and recommend organic ingredients.
and i use raw, organic butter from happy grass-fed cows. it's alive! and transmits that vitality to you. :) it also still has the enzymes that help in the digestion of dairy, which can be a challenge for a lot of us! ;) ~me included! grass-fed = very important. i could go on and on about this. not only are the cows happy (which travels in their milk), they eat the diet they were *designed* to eat, which makes them healthy, and their milk SO GOOD FOR YOU!! it is sunshine, and green grass. so beautiful. for facts, figures, graphs and charts, and listings of where you can find grass-fed dairy in your area, check this out:
ok. that's all. ;-D)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Best-I've-Ever-Made Pancakes

whoa. from the very first "testcake" i was pancake-O-ing .. for hours.
ok: i admit it. i ate these pancakes, one at a time, hot off the skillet, for hours.
lucky my companion-in-brunch had to scoot off to work, or there woulda beena fight over those last pancakes.
woulda been ugly.

OK!! on to the recipe! so you may pancake-O in your own kitchen.

i used _The_All_New_Joy_of_Cooking_'s Basic Buttermilk Pancakes recipe as my guide. then i played:

The Best-I've-Ever-Made Pancakes
(_Joy_ says, "about twelve 5-inchers"
.. only the skillet knows how many 3-inchers...)

Dry Ingredients:
in 1/2 cup: an eyeball-mixture of less regular oats (not quick-cook), to (*key!!*) uncooked polenta,
in second 1/2 cup: stoneground cornmeal (might i stress the importance of Organic ingredients here)
in third 1/2 cup: a mix of the same cornmeal with whole grain spelt, and whole wheat flours

(i was just using what i found in the freezer. it worked!!)

1 1/2 tsp baking powder (non aluminum)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
a light sprinkle of powdered Stevia (essential? unsure. .)
a sprinkling of chia seeds (pretty.)

Wet Ingredients:
3/4 cup organic whole milk yogurt
1/2 cup homemade kefir (unsweetened = very important)
1/4 cup filtered water
about 3 tbsp unsalted organic butter, melted
2 large free range eggs

In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients.
In another bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients.
Pour the wet into the dry, and gently whisk, just until combined.
(the batter was relatively thick, and full of big-ish air bubbles.)
On a medium-hot skillet (cast iron is great!) melt some organic butter (or coconut oil.. !) and fry those babies up!
till they bubble on the first side, then flip them only once.
silver-dollar-size worked well for me.

crispy, very moist, and light, with a magical crunch! they can be prepared savory, or sweet.
my Official Taste Tester said the winning combo of toppings on a hot-off-the-skillet cake was:
a little more butter, of course :-P
a dollop of unsweetened whole milk yogurt
chunks of in-season ripe organic strawberries
freshly toasted walnut pieces
just a dot or two of agave nectar !
but, he said, you don't want to put *too much* of the toppings on there, because the cake is so good itself!
or ~(he said) eat 'em plain!! delectable.

i enjoyed them with unsweetened apple sauce and walnut pieces, too.

play around and lemme know what you think!
pancakes = the ingredient options are endless; but you know a good one as soon as you put the first bite in your mouth.

photo: a fabric ode to fried-cake affection

Sunday, July 30, 2006

kombucha diary II: one month later

it's that time again, friends!
what time, you say??
time to procrastinate homework by posting a blog entry! geez, i'm behind, but the stories and photos are still there, just waiting to be click-clacked to you.
so how are the boocha babies?
babies, you say? weren't we just talking about a single boocha? do they multiply?
like micro-bunnies.
that first boocha mommie took no time at all to reproduce. by the next morning, the top of her tea was frothy. in 3 days, a gooey-looking cover had formed over the top, which in five days had matured into a gelatinous, brain-oid layer that i was kinda scared a little alien was going to erupt out of if i got too close! ! we were absolutely FASCINATED with this, and i peeked in on that little boocha as often as i could walk by!

do we dare try the resulting sweet-smelling liquid??

Sealion and i celebrated our first successful boocha-batch on the fourth of july.
fireworks exploded before our eyes as we realized the refreshing beverage potential!

that day i started my second batch in the faithful-first punch bowl. and now i had two mommies ~ the first one that Joanne gave me, and the baby that it created. so we needed another container, right? cuz we coulda easily drunk that punch-bowl's worth in a matter of days (i think it was two), with restraint.
with Sealion's usual zeal, he set to searching at our now-favorite downtown-sac thrifstore, the SPCA (for adopt-a-kitties!), and came up with boocha vessels galore! a ceramic "POPCORN" container, a glass cookie jar with wooden lid, a lid-less gallon Mason jar, and ~ his prize ~ a HUGE (huge!!) cowboy-coffee pot with that blue-with-white-speckled enamel like those classic camping cups and plates have. we were in Boocha Business!
i made gallons and gallons of that sugary tea. then, tentatively at first, i sliced up the original mommie, saying, "thank you! you're a good mommie! we appreciate your work!!" so that she wouldn't feel abused. .. !
ger sploosh, ger sploosh! each new batch got a segment of the original mommie, and some original Kombucha to get the chewin' started.
now we had a veritable nursery in the downstairs cupboard (right across from Sealion's succulent plant nursery!! ~ so many gro-lights; it must be illegal!! ;-D ), and in not too long, the towels and sheets that shared that cabinet space ~ heck ~ the whole downstairs!! smelled of brewin' boocha. tangy nectar.

well, it's been almost a month now, and about a week ago, i checked the batches and ~ they were bubbly! this means they're coming along to tang-maturity. it's working!!! mwAHAHAHAHA!!!
in that time, my boocha mommie has become quite the gal-to-know (if ya know what i mean); she's made babies for THREE of my friends already!! Hollis, Kristin, and Dorothy, all are proud new parents of boocha bubblers!! i'm so psyched to share the love! who will join the refreshing-cleansing bandwagon next? ?

admiring the boocha: the brain-oid top layer ~ from above, and an illuminated (cuz we're that wacky!!) side-view,
the first glass: Sealion and i waive our rights, and sip with delight!
the boocha nursery: shhh! boochas sleeping!

Friday, July 21, 2006

high vibrating smoothie

remember the supergreen that i started drinking some time ago?
still drinking it. we're using a brand called Green Vibrance that i like a lot. such good stuff in there. and thanks to my recent nutrition training, i understand a lot more of the label! probiotics ~ the microbeasties that enliven your gut ~ chock full of those, sea veggies, land veggies, fiber, selenium, vitamin E, antioxidants, and stuff that helps you deal with stressors, enzymes and minerals.
what i'm drinking now is:
about a pint glass and a quarter of filtered water, with:
a bloop of homemade (organic raw whole milk) kefir,
a couple handfuls of frozen berries and frozen bananas,
a good drizzle of raw unfiltered honey,
flax and chia seeds freshly ground,
a knob of fresh ginger, grated,
about a quarter avocado,
half a capful of fish oil (no more than that!!),
a dash of stevia powder,
lime or lemon juice,
and a large rounded scoop of Green Vibrance.

it's not totally frozen; more of a thick cool liquid.
the fish oil is a bit obnoxious ~ i'll give you that.. i'm wondering if the lemon variety would be less offensive. but i think a half-capful is not bad ~ i wouldn't try to feed it to someone else (tried that!! only once.. ), but it's palatable for me, cuz i know how good it is for me!!
high-vibratin'! so nourishing! my body says, thank you!

update: january 2007 ~ welcome Vitamineral Green
i stopped using Green Vibrance. as i studied more about it, i found that it was composed in large part of non-organic soy. in our country these days, most soy is genetically engineered. i am interested in having as little soy in my diet as possible, except for fermented soy sauce and miso (Goddess knows i ate more than my share during my vegetarian years!!). i have been led to believe that soy in its unfermented form is highly undigestible, and chemically wreaks havoc on our systems. in cultures that have traditionally eaten soy, it is taken in much smaller quantities, and is usually fermented, as with soy sauces (shoyu and tamari), miso, and tempeh. and considering this product didn't even label their soy as organic, i certainly didn't want to have anything to do with it, or support their company any longer. we now use Vitamineral Green. this is made by a company which seems sincerely dedicated to super-health and sustainable practices. it's very blue-green and vibrating.
i'm also using Nordic Naturals orange-flavored fish oil, which to my taste, is very nice, and no fishy taste at all. i use about a teaspoon.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


i baked my first batch of my very own sourdough today!
first, i created the starter:
in a clean glass jar, i made a soupy mixture of whole wheat flour and filtered water, whisking it energetically to aereate. i walked around outside, midday, as i did this~~to invite floating yeast-beasties that were passing by.
then: i tossed in a couple of fresh organic grapes *unwashed* to add a little sugar and boost the yeast production process. (i learned this from Sandor Ellix Katz's _wild_fermentation_. i rubber-banded a square of linen cloth over the top for breathability, and left the jar of dough out in the sacramento summer sun to warm up.
by AFTERNOON the frothing bubbling dough had overtaken its linen covering. i removed the grapes and stirred down my starter. for the next two days i added a little more flour and water, whisking and aereating, and set it outside again.
the stuff sure smells sour, alright!

i used this starter to make Bernard Clayton's California Whole Wheat Sourdough. the recipe called for adding molasses to the starter, but i didn't have any, so i substituted an equal amount agave nectar with sucanat mixed in. i think honey would have worked well, too. i used a combination of organic whole wheat and whole spelt flours, a few tablespoons of organic butter (in place of vegetable shortening) and added a cup of wheat berries that i soaked overnight. (do i need to specify that i use all organic products, or can it be assumed?)
i kneaded it vigorously for ten minutes.
i set it out to proof, covered, in the sun for several hours. molded into rounds and placed in a greased loaf pan (mine was a stoneware baking dish), and let proof for another couple hours.
i baked it until it was brown and crusty on the outside, and it made a nice hollow-sounding "thump" when i knocked my finger on it.
the never-used (but thrift store-bought!) stoneware baking dish soaked up the oil i smeared on it, so that the bread stuck, and fell apart before i could get it out of the dish. it was a cosmetically-imperfect loaf that came out well in other regards, especially for a first try.
it produced a brown, moist, hearty loaf with a crust, crunchy berries, and a touch of brown-sweetness. although it was hearty, it was not too dense. the sour aspect especially came through in the aftertaste. of the many samplings i tasted (and tasted and tasted!), i thought it was best accompanied by the hard, robust sheep cheese we had in the fridge, and a touch of salt.

photos: the sourdough starter.
finished loaf.

Friday, June 23, 2006

diary of a kombucha baby

i made about a gallon of tea using:
filtered water,
loose Frontier brand black tea,
organic white sugar.

i poured it into my clean, tempered glass punch-bowl-kombucha-house. i let it cool.
then i poured most of a 32 ounce bottle of live Kombucha by The Rejuvenation Company.

next day i added the kombucha mother i adopted from Joanne.
then i covered it with a linen cloth that i tied close so that floating dust and interested bugs cannot investigate.
by morning it was bubbling with effervescence. and smelled great.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Monday, March 06, 2006

Ta Daaaah!!

realized the other day just how much i really love food.
"if you love it, why don't you marry it!!?"
well, i can't, or, at least, won't. but i can write about.
i want to share this passion with you.
in a blog that's dedicated all by itself just to food.