Thursday, October 16, 2008

French Toast du Jour

I woke up feeling the need to pamper myself this morning. Before I even got out of bed (true to foodie form), I was envisioning and tasting French Toast. Here's what I came up with, a Pampering Breakfast for One (well ~ two, technically. ;-) ).
  • 1 1/2 slices of bread ~ I used mixed grain sourdough from Morell, b/c that's what was in the pantry; I think something with dried fruit might be nice. .
  • one egg (make sure it's organic, if not raised on pasture by someone you trust)
  • a spoonful (or so) of cream (I used divine Claravale raw cream) or crème fraîche ~ if you are avoiding dairy, or don't have access to organic, I think whole fat coconut milk would make a fine substitute.
  • a spoonful of organic maple syrup
  • a dash of sea salt
  • a dash of cinnamon
  • almonds chopped finely (see my explanation about soaking nuts here)
  • organic cream, or crème fraîche, and maple syrup for drizzling
  • extra cinnamon for sprinkling
Whisk the egg with the 5 ingredients that follow in a shallow mixing bowl. Cut the bread into diagonal quarters, and soak in the egg mixture, turning to soak both sides, while you're warming your skillet. Use a thick skillet (you know I love cast iron) to hold the heat, add butter (don't be afraid ~ add a few tablespoons! and ~ if dairy-free, use coconut oil) and heat until a little drop of egg mixture sizzles as it hits. But don't let the butter brown. When the bread is adequately saturated, fry those babies in the butter. Spoon the little pieces of almond that stay in the mixing bowl onto the top of the pieces of bread as they sizzle in the butter. Turn when the pieces are nicely browned. If the skillet is the right temperature, it will only take a few minutes on each side.
Serve drizzled with cream or crème fraîche (you read right. don't be afraid [as long as it's organic]; just pretend you're French.), and maple syrup. Garnish with a sprinkling of cinnamon.

One egg soaks about 1 1/2 standard slices of dense bread. If making this for more than one person, use this as a gauge. My measurements are always approximate and of-the-moment; you can do the same, giving or taking as you taste fit.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Summertime Tapenade

Technically, this is not a true tapenade. But the bold presence of the black olives made me call it that. I think it has a nice ring..

chopped perfectly ripe tomatoes (don't even think about making this in the winter! use olive-oil-soaked sun-dried tomatoes if you do. and leave out the cucumber.)
~ I have discovered dry-farmed tomatoes this season. oh. my god. ~
diced Armenian cucumber (discovered that this season, too.. )
minced garlic
chopped oil-cured black olives, with the brine set aside
freshly toasted cumin
freshly toasted coriander
sea salt to taste
chili flakes to taste

Combine these ingredients to meet your needs. I used enough small early girl tomatoes to fill my two hands, and diced enough cucumber to fill it out nicely, but not densely (then I ate the rest of the cucumber slice-by-slice as I prepared dinner!). I minced 4 regular-sized garlic cloves, and chopped.. 8 olives, because that's what was in the fridge. I toasted a little more than a teaspoon of cumin seeds, and a little less than a teaspoon of coriander. Toasting spices brings out their flavor; I can't recommend this highly enough. It's really worth the few extra minutes of effort and attention. You will smell when they're done. Trust your nose. Add the reserved olive brine to your taste. Then the sea salt and chili flakes.

We ate this atop grilled lamb chops.
Then the next day, after it had had a chance to meld overnight, I ate the remainder on my scrambled eggs.

Nourishing Sea Veggie and Greens Soup with Coconut

When I need deep nourishment, my body calls out for sea vegetables and real, homemade broth.
Here's a Thai-inspired bowl I ate this evening.

Serves 1 big bowl.

real, homemade chicken broth (or, in my fortunate case, broth from Three Stone Hearth)
1/3 cup coconut milk
1-2 Tbs coconut oil (don't be afraid of this oil. so good for you.)
a small handful of arame, or whatever sea veggie you have or like
1 tsp kelp powder
fish sauce, to taste
grated fresh ginger, to taste
large handful chopped leafy greens ~ collard, kale.. dandelion.. whatever you like or is on hand
a sprinkling of powdered gelatin (Bernard Jensen is a good brand), to even greater soothe and encourage digestion

Measure out enough chicken broth to almost fill your favorite large soup bowl. Put this in a small pot (or my favorite tiny cast-iron skillet). Add the coconut milk and oil, and the arame. Once it warms close to a simmer, sprinkle in the kelp powder and gelatin and let them dissolve on top before stirring them in. Add the other seasonings ~ fish sauce and ginger ~ to taste. When the broth comes to a light boil, add the chopped greens and let these simmer till they are wilted and their color turns slightly. Adjust seasoning as necessary, and add a sprinkle of red pepper flakes if your tummy is up for it. Sit down, turn off the noise, and bring this bowl up to your face to let the steam warm you flushed. Drink and chew and be well.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

the passion of the beet


with such complex flavor, 
you taste spices and a hint of brown sugar.  

Monday, July 28, 2008

Friday, July 18, 2008

ode to apricots

I have never known apricots until I tasted them this season.  I mean, *really* known them.  This summer I have had a passionate love-affair with apricots straight from the Farmers' Market.  Sometimes a few make it home.  Their skin is soft and supple, easily dented, and sometimes barely holding in their succulent juice.  You can tear them in half with no work at all, using your fingers!  And to place that flesh in your mouth. . it simply melts.  These fruits need no dressing up; they are a work of art in themselves.  In the past, apricots have been a work-horse of dried fruits, similar to raisins, filling out trail mixes to give them some bulk, but mostly picked-over and definitely unappreciated.  And then I tasted a real apricot!  
When I went to the Farmers' Market this week, the guy at the apricot stand, who recognized me as a regular, informed me that this was the last week for apricots.  So last night I made a special dinner for apricots, in their honor.  
I braised a couple of lamb shoulder blades in chicken broth, with a few Tbs balsamic vinegar, and some red wine vinegar to round it out.  And about 6 cloves of garlic, coursely chopped.  With plenty of freshly ground pepper, and some sea salt.  This took about 45 minutes.  In an earthenware dish I roasted quartered apricots with just a pat of butter.  Unbelievable.  They didn't take long because they were already so soft and juicy.  Roasting them gave them a gorgeous crust.  To serve, I covered the lamb in a bit of the braising juice, and spread them with the apricots.  Divine! 

Thank you, apricots!  Glad to finally know you.   

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Fresh-baked muffins make me all warmy inside. They feel like home and like family. To me, muffins are a breakfast comfort food equivalent to the dinnertime bowl of macaroni and cheese. They feel like someone who loves me wrapped me in a cozy soft blanket and a big hug. A muffin straight from the oven is like a little gift I get to open up and savour. With butter!

This morning I made myself muffins. I used the recipe that one of our dear teachers in the Bauman Natural Chef program shared with us years ago. These muffins ~ although delicate and light in texture ~ eat more like a meal than a snack. They are wholesome, nourishing, and grain-free. And unlike their sugar- and white flour-laden commercial counterparts, are actually a perfect solid start to a productive morning.

The recipe is quite versatile and open to add-ins. This is the way I made it today:

Lizette's Breakfast Muffins
Preheat the oven to 350.
1 cup raw almonds*, soaked overnight**, then chopped finely in a food processor or blender
1/4 cup butter, melted
3 eggs
1/4 cup yogurt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt

Mix all ingredients. Pour batter to fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake until golden.
Smear with more butter, and jam, as they're hot from the oven.
Additions, substitutions: you can use coconut oil in place of the butter, applesauce or ripe banana in place of the yogurt (though without the yogurt, I'm wondering if you'd need to add 1/2 tsp of baking powder. . ), and you can add just about anything you would to a normal muffin ~ chocolate or carob chips, frozen berries, a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg, dried coconut flakes. . yum!
*It is important to buy organic almonds. Since last year, all almonds ~ *except* for ones you buy directly from the farmer, at the farmers' market, for instance ~ must be either irradiated, fumigated, or pasteurized. Organic laws ensure that almonds will only be pasteurized (heated) instead of undergoing the other toxic manipulations. But organic almonds you buy in the store are no longer raw ~ as in, you couldn't plant them and grow a new plant, no matter what they say on the bin. (bummer!!)
**Almonds, like all seeds including nuts, grains, and beans, have their nutrients locked away so that they can be deposited in the ground and make new plants. In order to make their nutrients available to us, and to neutralize inhibitors that protect the seed and challenge our digestion and nutrition, we must mimic the germination process for these seeds. This means giving them a warmish, moist, slightly acidic environment like they would experience if they were placed in soil. It's easy to do, but takes a moment of pre-planning. For nuts ~ cover raw, organic nuts in filtered water with a little salt and let them sit out on the counter overnight. In the morning, you can either use them still soft like I did for this recipe, or dry them in a dehydrator or oven on a very low temp until crispy.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Summer Saute'


An ear of corn just hours away from harvest at Full Belly Farm. 

Being an urban girl at the moment, the farmers' market is my connection with the country.  
For some reason the Tuesday Berkeley farmers' market feels a tad more intimate than the others; perhaps it is the narrow corridor of a street that the booths are on, and the fact that I end up rubbing arms and shopping baskets with many other market-goers as I shop.  I feel more up-close with the vendors, too.   Under the shade of their awning for the afternoon, they are tan (the kind of tan you get from working outside, not the kind you get from lounging) and earthy.  If they don't have soil under their fingernails, I at least imagine that they do.  They seem grounded and in their bodies.  Everytime I interact with them and their tables of produce, I fantasize that I am one of them ~ just in town for the afternoon.  
As if you didn't know, going to the farmers' markets continues to be my favorite activity of the week.  I love walking to the market with a general loose guide of what I want and need, then picking the produce that most urgently grabs my attention, and creating a menu out of it as I walk along.  So far this season the fruit has stolen the spotlight as I walk down the line, getting lured in by each plump fragrant sample piece.  But summertime vegetables (ok ~ we all know that some of what we call "vegetables" are technically fruit, but follow me here) are starting to nudge their way in.  The show-stopper for me this week has been corn.  Corn!  I love corn ~ any way you fix it (even creamed corn from a can).

Here's a simple recipe I created from veggies that caught my attention today:
Summer Saute' 
~ makes two heapin' helpings
olive oil and butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 a bunch rainbow chard ~ the stem sliced like celery, the leaves chopped or in a wide chiffonade*     
3 ears of corn ~ kernels stripped off the ear
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
a small handful of basil leaves ~ cut into a chiffonade

In a large skillet, warm the butter and olive oil and saute' the garlic with the chard stems on medium low for a few minutes, stirring so as not to let the garlic brown.  Add the chard leaves, still dripping with the water they were washed in, and turn the heat up higher as you put a lid on the skillet.  Let those wilt and cook to your liking.  At the very last few minutes, add the corn kernels and stir.  You don't have to cook them long at all.  Salt and pepper to taste.   Add the basil after the dish is off the heat, or as a garnish to each individual plate.  This dish can be served piping hot or cold.  With a few vagrant cornsilks still in there, this dish feels like summer.  

* to chiffonade:  line the leaves up lengthwise, and roll them together like a big cigar.  As you hold the "cigar" firmly on the cutting board with one hand, make decisive cuts to shred the lot cross-wise into strips.  For greens like kale and chard, I'm liking to cut the strips about as wide as my finger.  I think chiffonade is the best way to cut basil; it doesn't oxidize and turn brown as much as if you mince it.  Shred basil into 1/4 inch strips.  

(my photo doesn't give juicy still-hot-from-the-sun justice to corn. .. more like a textbook. .)

Saturday, June 28, 2008


How could I forget the strawberries?!!

(i love strawberries, but, in retrospect, can't help but notice how pitifully pasty I look for June in these photos!)

Friday, June 13, 2008

sweet tea

 Mr. Sealion is a Georgia boy.  When the weather gets warm, no drink is quite like "sweet tea."  And he's a connoisseur.  So I have experimented with making a tea that is sweetened with more whole sweeteners, such as honey and rapadura.  This summer I have discovered the sweetening power of stevia leaf.  Stevia is an herb (not a sugar!) whose leaves are sweet, and slightly bitter or licorice-tasting when greatly concentrated.  Stevia is sold in dried leaf form ~ similar to any other dried tea, in a concentrated powder, and a concentrated liquid sold with a dropper.  You can find it at most any health/whole foods store.  Brewing the dried leaf in with other tea ingredients makes a sweet product that pleases even the Southern palate.  I find the leaves sweeter and less bitter than the concentrates.     
Here is my basic recipe, and then the variation I just brewed up a minute ago.  Rooibos is nice earthy-sweet brown herbal that resonates and continues the black tea taste without its caffeine.  I buy my tea leaves in bulk from the local health/whole foods store.  That's why my measurements are in tablespoons as opposed to tea bags.    

Basic "Sweet Tea" ~ caffeinated
~for 1 gallon of tea ~ 
3 rounded T organic black tea leaves
2 rounded T organic rooibos 
scant (loose and fluffy) 1/4 cup stevia leaves
Bring water to a boil, add teas and brew, simmering, for 5 minutes.  Turn off the heat and brew for another 5 minutes.  Pour into tempered glass container and add filtered water to equal a good strength for your taste.  Serve cold and/or over ice.  

Rooibos Blend "Sweet Tea" ~ still caffeinated, but not as much
2 T organic rooibos
1 T organic black tea
1 T organic yerba mate'
1 T organic peppermint (dried ~ use more if fresh)
scant (loose and fluffy) 1/4 cup stevia leaves
Bring water almost to a boil (yerba mate' doesn't like boiling water), add teas and brew on low heat for 5 minutes.  Brew for 5-15 more minutes, depending on your taste preferences.  Pour into tempered glass container and add filtered water to equal a good strength.  Serve cold and/or over ice.  

I emphasize organic (as usual).  Black teas that aren't labeled organic have pesticides sprayed on them that are harmful to tea-workers and concentrated in the drying.  Black tea, rooibos, and yerba mate' are all imported to the US from other countries.  I like to make sure those that I buy are also Fair Trade Certified, so that the workers get respect and compensation for their efforts.   

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Stone fruits.
Perfect peaches, 
melt-in-your-mouth apricots, 
and drip-down-your-chin plums.
I hear some cans of preserves calling. 
Chutney, anyone?

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Sesame Kale Miso Soup

Yum!  This meal was so simple and easy to prepare, and soooo satisfying and nourishing.  
I didn't take a picture, because I was too busy enjoying. 

real beef bone broth and water ~ enough for one bowl of soup.
1 T coconut oil 
chopped kale ~ I used purple ~ as much as you can cram in the pot   of simmering broth
1 T slowly toasted brown sesame seeds
1 T miso paste*, or, to taste ~ I used brown rice miso.  
  *Make sure it's organic!!! 

You could use water without the bone broth, or use a different kind of broth, like chicken or veggie (recipes in a previous post).  The broth really gives this soup its depth and whole-body nourishing feeling.   
Slowly bring the broth-water to a rolling boil.  Add the coconut oil,  and then the kale.  Simmer, covered, until the kale is soft and wilty.  
In the bowl of your choice, spoon in the miso, and a few spoonfuls of the soup.  Stir to dissolve the miso.  Pour in the rest of the soup and stir.  Garnish with sesame seeds.  
Enjoy and feel nourished! 

*  These days, if a soy product doesn't explicitly say it's organic, you can count on it being GM ~ genetically modified.  Don't be their guinea pig.  

Monday, June 02, 2008


ripe and bursting with intense flavor 
that barely make it home before I eat them all.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


How do I love the.  . 
Farmers' Markets?
Let me count the ways. 
straight from the pod.