Saturday, May 28, 2011

Wildly Edible

Tonight I am, like most food bloggers, taking photos of and reporting my dinner to you. I didn't think it was going to be anything special, as I was just about to boil some pasta when...oooh what about theees and ooh yah..... mmm, hmmmm.... Voilà! I love when these kinds of meals happen, as you can use all sorts of items you forgot you had, and the most exquisite end result is achieved. Paired with a precious Midwestern hard cider I've been sitting on for a few months, I think I've found myself with quite the little bloggable and delicious meal! :)

Spelt angel hair pasta tossed with the remainder of my "herbed buttery spread",
sauté of shallot, dandelion greens, pine nuts and hand foraged (by my very own sister in Wisconsin) Hen of the Woods mushrooms.

Hen of the Woods

"Chicken of the Woods" mushroom- Called so because they grow high up on the trees, and look like hens roostin up in the trees! Cute eh? :)

Every spring and fall my sis goes out pokin through the woods and scores loads (literally buckets) of Morels, Hen of the Woods, "Honeys" (real name?), and a few other varieties that elude me. Even my 93 year old grandma is hooked and goes lookin for the tree'd prizes so she can fry 'em up in butter. Last year Heather (my sis) dried bunches of 'em and sent me a precious ziplock full. I use them so sparingly as to cherish them, but tonight I thought with my bitter dandelion sauté they'd have just enough earthy complexity to balance it all out.
(My hunch was correct).

I feel like I've been kinda spoiled in this lifetime with mushroom foragers in my circle. When I lived up in the fertile territory of the Bay Area the chef at Millennium restaurant where I worked would bring in Porcinis fresh and bright with mustard-yellow gills, still dusty with soil from just being plucked outta the earth. He would find them on his morning mountain bike ride through Marin, and we'd use them on the menu that night. My other dear friend in Berkeley would often also bring over GROCERY bags FULL of Porcinis, Chanterelles and the highly coveted and seducing Candy Cap mushrooms who's maple aroma is so intense it smells like you've converted your kitchen to a sugar shack and have been cookin down maple syrup for days.... I extend my gratitude to these foragers and to the sweet little forest floor dwellers, for they are so varied and delicious! It is of course a skill and art to hunt and pick the right ones!
Not too many people are so bold as to go out and hunt for them,
and even less so cook 'em up and eat their harvest.

Ahh, nature and the delights which you bestow upon us! There are so many exciting options for us all, right outside our door.... dandelions, nettles, lambsquarters, mushrooms, ramps, asparagus, acorns, nuts, berries, herbs... I might just go live in the woods of Wisconsin yet! Acorn flour pancakes with elderberry syrup anyone? :) Yes, please!!

There are many community garden groups or nature clubs with excursions where one can go on walks and pick and eat these delights which grow right under your noses. See if your community offers one! I'm not too sure what grows abundantly in the San Diego area, but I'll have to investigate. If you're curious, check out this guy, "Wildman" Steve Brill. :) He's amazing, and will give you a great intro to dining in the woods or your own backyard even. If you live on the east coast, you could be lucky enough to catch a class with him.

Until next time, may you flourish, be happy and follow your heart!
Happy holiday weekend everyone~

Monday, May 23, 2011

May Grey and Macrobiotic Tendencies

Just a short and sweet post today about a lovely lunch I just made, and wanted to share. I'm trying to do more of this... sharing business. :) Today was a perfect example of the "May Grey" phenomenon here in San Diego- overcast, windy, and drizzling. I made it to my yoga class, but afterward the weather sure made me wanna stay inside, make a big mug of earl grey tea and fire up the stove, and that's just what I did. Pretty sure I could never be a 100% raw foodist unless I lived on the balmy equator and was hot and humid all of the time. Even then I'd probably wanna make rice and beans or a soup every now and then.

Today I was feeling nostalgic for a hot macro bowl.
I was the chef at a macrobiotic restaurant in Oakland for about 2 years, and that food made itself a big place in my heart... and stomach. :) The rule of thumb for the plate of the day was that it had to be constituted of: a grain (usually rice), a protein (beans, lentils, tofu or tempeh), a vegetable side, a small raw salad and of course a big ol' pile of kale and collards, decorated with whatever pickle we were inspired to make for the day with some delicious slathering of sauce. Those macro plates were ALL about the sawce, cuz if you know macrobiotic cooking, it's very basic in seasonings and flavor and can use a little (or big) burst of flavor to keep you inspired to finish your zen-like nutritive plate. I kept it a little more simple and on the fly today, so I had no grain or salad, but the basic concept was still there for me.

Here's my macro inspired lunch of today:
Sauteed an onion, sweet potato, some firm tofu and a mess o' greens (kale and swiss chard). To finish it off, in a bowl I whisked together juice of one meyer lemon, big spoonful of tahini, lots of chopped fresh dill, splash of water, and sea salt. That's it! So simple and nurturing, and so delicious.

Not the greatest picture, but it will have to do...

Special gratitude for the ever lovely Suzie's Farm again,
for the swiss chard, kale and luscious dill.

It would have definitely been delicious with some nice nutty short grain brown rice freckled with toasted sesame seeds and served with a cup of miso broth with seaweed floaties. Should you have more forethought on your lunch, I suggest the full macro treatment. Also, don't forget the big rule of macrobiotic food- Chew your water and drink your food! Another one is "Chew once for every tooth in your mouth". In other words, be mindful while you're eating- slow it down and focus on your nourishment, be thankful and present while you eat. Hm, or how about "over the lips and past the gums, look out stomach here it comes!"? haha, whatever your food mantra is just make sure there's some mindful chewing in there somewhere :)
Hope you're having a great week and a wonderfully rainy and sunny, springy May!
Time to bake some cookies now....

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Oatmeal and Prunes and Green Drinks, OH MY! OH YES!


So..... I didn't win anything from the Earth Balance contest, but the show must go on! I did win in the last contest after all! All in all, I do love a good fire under me arse to create somethin under the gun. Those are 4 delicious new things I may have never created had I not been prompted to do so. It's been nice to take this week off to catch up on life again, do laundry, eat good food, and swandive into my yoga practice again.

I shopped at the farmers market Sunday and got a BOUNTY of amazing fruits and vegetables! Here's what i got.... apricots, blueberries, granny smith apples, kale (2 varieties), sunflower sprouts and broccoli sprouts, tray of strawberries, and swiss chard. My mom was visisting for 10 days, so I haven't been cooking or doin anything in the kitchen these days, so it was good to recharge at the market.

Since my juice fast ended, my new favorite morning brekky has been oatmeal, and my oatmeal has never tasted so good! (Not to mention my body has never been so smooth movin! What tmi? too bad, welcome to my blog!) These days i put a sliced up apricot, handful of blueberries, prunes and walnuts, splash of So Delicious coconut milk (sometimes i even steam it) and agave. SO SO SO SO GOOD! This morning I woke up and it was cold and raining and I went to hot yoga and got home and made a hot bowl of this, and it was like sinkin into a hot bath. So soothing and nourishing! Which brings me to my new favorite food and spotlight of the week.... the humble PRUNE!
Who knew how amazing and wonderful they are? Read on....

As i posted on my facebook yesterday...... these dried plums aren't just for constipated old folks anymore! They're chuck full of antioxidants, Vitamin A to ward off pesky free radicals damaging your cells, Potassium for the heart and bones, and yes- loads of fiber. Natures Broom! Prunes' fiber helps hugely to normalize blood sugar, create a healthy environment of beneficial bacteria in your colon and will sweep you clean! Find them in the bulk section at your grocery store, eat a handful, toss em on your oatmeal or mornin cereal, or just eat em on the run-
your body will thank you!

My other spotlight this week (there can be two, right?) is the ever lovely green drink! I've been loving making them every day this week, as its such a fabulous way to get all that goodness in that sweet body of yours! I start with a coconut water and/or apple juice base and add in whatever fresh/frozen fruit or berries i have, a banana, several kale, chard, or spinach leaves, a teaspoon of spirulina, a teaspoon of maca, splash of agave, half an avocado if i have it, and flax oil. The beauty of the green drinks and smoothies is that you can toss whatever you want in there and it's most likely gonna taste delish. :) So go ahead and augment and throw in whatever you love!

To end this post, I'd like to share the simplest yummy *sprinkle* for your oatmeal, yogurt or also to toss into smoothies. In your coffee grinder combine 1/4 cup of flax seeds (brown or golden), 2 T. chia seeds, 2 T. date sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon. Whizz it all together until it forms a lovely soft powder. Store it in the frig and sprinkle away to your hearts content! Get those omega fatty acids people! Can't go wrong with this fiber rich, sweetly spiced powder. I'm excited to play with this and maybe add cacao nibs and almonds. I'm about to make my oatmeal blush, it'll taste so darn sexy good! haha
Have a great week everyone, I hope you are lovely and flourishing~

Monday, May 9, 2011

Contest done! Whew!

Spring has sprung, and the Spring to Life contest has now ended!

Yesterday was the final entry day in the last category, dessert (how appropriate). Last week's, which I haven't posted about, was the entree category (entry listed below!). Winners will start to be announced starting tomorrow, and will be throughout the week. OH the anticipation! There will be 8 winners (2 from each category) and ONE grand prize winner who will be flown with a friend to NYC and be pampered at an Aveda spa, eat til you explode at the fabulous Candle 79, and stay in a hotel for 2 nights. Please and thank you. :)

It really was a fun and busy last four weeks again, similar to the Holiday Bake Off Earth Balance held back in December-minus the holiday craze. PHEW, kinda glad it's over, but also kinda sad, it sure was a tasty past month! It consumed my thoughts and any spare time I had shopping at the store and farmers markets, recipe developing, blogging, taking photos and doing endless dishes. It's always so inspiring though, to have that fire under the ass prompting you to keep driven and produce something new each week. I love that! So now that it's over, here's a recap... and this sure would be a LOVELY meal now that I'm recapping it....

Bon Appétit!

Appetizer: Root Vegetable Fritters with Herbed Caper Cashew Aioli

Side Dish: Roasted Spring Vegetables with Herbed "Butter"

Entree: Tarte a la Tomate

Dessert: Coffee and Toasted Pistachio Ice Cream Sandwiches

I will of course post an update, should I hear of any particular good news this week.... Thanks to all of my friends for their helpful advice and tasting my creations along the way! :D If I win this trip to NYC, I'm having a big dinner party bash to celebrate! Keep yer fingers crossed!!!