Saturday, July 21, 2012

Raw Summer Cereal

Last summer I posted this delicious and very healthy recipe for a raw/live cereal. With blueberries and peaches in season right now, this is the perfect time to make this! The oat groats, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and almonds can soak in water over night to "sprout" them and activate the energy in the seeds. You drain it in the morning and serve with yogurt and fruit. It is so refreshing, delicious and energizing to eat. I'm often partial to toast for breakfast, but when I remember to soak some grains and nuts for this wonderful dish packed with protein from the nuts and yogurt, I get up from breakfast feeling energized rather than sluggish.

Oat Groats are available from any health food store, and in the grain section of some regular stores.

For fruit picking info:

In CT:


Friday, July 13, 2012

Foraging Cherries in the City

Have you ever noticed something resembling fruit on the sidewalk, falling from a near-by tree and wondered if it was edible? Well recently, due to my love of food and my tight budget, I realized that I better start paying a lot closer attention to the free food growing all around me in my city neighborhood. I've written about snagging up free dandelion greens (from my chemical free lawn) and happening upon onion grass in the early spring...these are pretty safe plants, easy to recognize by sight or smell. But, earlier this spring a few houses down I finally decided to explore the cherry like fruits that fall from a huge dark purple tree, littering the sidewalk with it's squashed fruits. 
I'd picked a few of the fruits in past years and while they look like cherries, they never rippened like the tender cherries we are used to, and have an orangish flesh, more closely resembling a plum. This year I decided to scan the internet. Dozens of sites identified the fruits and the tree either as a sand cherry or sand plum, a few with "old timey" recipes for sand cherry jam, so I knew I was on the right track. I couldn't find any signs of warning, and honestly wasn't that concerned since they look exactly like a cherry...I know I was taking my life in my hands, and I do recommend that you all use the utmost caution in foraging and exploring new plants so that you are certain what you are eating is safe, but I felt fine about these, they were so clearly fruits, and figured they were better for cooking than eating fresh. I took a little nibble, the fruit was tart, sweet and watery. The flavor would do well with the concentration that would come from a long simmer.

I washed the cherries well, tossed them whole into a pot, added a little water, a few cups of sugar and let it simmer for as long as I could, praying that the seeds and skins would add enough pectin to thicken the fruit up to a syrup or jam. As luck would have it, it worked! I poured the cooked fruit through a stariner and we got a nice pint of cherry jam all for the cost of a little curiosity and a few cups of sugar.

Keep on the look out, wine berries are ripening now, and wild apples are on the way.....

Do you have any favorite wild edibles? Please share!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Kale Crazy

Among the healthy/ local food focused community there seems to be a bit of a recent infatuation with kale: cooked, raw or turned into chips. It's a leafy green, and is very green, so therefore really good for you, and it's also easy to prepare, you don't even have to cook it. I know, I didn't really believe it would taste good raw either, until I tried it. Kale, chopped and  "massaged" with a little olive oil, salt and lemon juice....and anything else you'd like is tender and delicious. My recent favorite version was kale tossed with a creamy avocado dressing made by blending an avocado with the juice and zest of a lemon, and some salt and pepper, topped with some toasted almonds. Simple and delicious, and nutritious, because it actually tasted great, so people ate it!

For the salad pictured above, I tossed the kale with olive oil, lemon juice and a pinch of salt and pepper, then topped it with diced avocado and roasted pumpkin seeds. 

To prepare the salad, take one large bunch of kale and remove the thick part of the stems.  Roughly chop or tear the kale into 2-inch pieces. Toss with your favorite dressing or just a squeeze of lemon juice, oil and a pinch of salt which helps to tenderize the greens. Gently squeeze the greens with your hands as you toss. This salad is delicious with nuts or seeds, cheese, or other vegetables such as bell peppers or thinly sliced red onion. 


Any favorite kale recipes? Please Share!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Blistered Smoked Potatoes

I finally got a grill.
Six years ago I got a backyard, but it took me a little while to fill in this important component: a place to cook over a fire.  My family opted for a basic fire pit with a grill top, which means we have to build a pretty big fire to cook over, but lucky for us there is a big pile of logs and tree cuttings in a pile next door, that need to be burned, so our food is getting flavored with real wood smoke, and it tastes a lot better than charcoal!
 One of my favorite grill top treats has been smokey roasted potatoes. I steam the potatoes in the kitchen while I'm making a marinade or salad, then heat my large cast iron skillet over the fire and toss the tender potatoes in with some olive oil, salt and pepper and herbs. The skins blister and brown, and the wood smoke infuses the whole potato. It really doesn't get much better than this. 

Blistered Smoked Potatoes
2 pounds small potatoes (fingerling, yukon golds or red new potatoes work well)
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
handful of fresh herbs such as marjoram, thyme, rosemary, etc...
  1. Steam whole potatoes in a pot on the stove. Remove from pot when tender.
  2. Heat a heavy bottomed skillet with a heat proof handle over a wood fire.
  3. Add olive oil to pan and quickly toss in hot tender potatoes and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Turn potatoes occasionally so that they brown on all sides.
  5. When potatoes are nicely browned, add fresh herbs, toss and serve.
For the rest of the meal I usually add an assortment of grilled vegetables, and some marinated meat or tofu. For this meal we had chicken thighs using a garlicky marinade similar to the one in this recipe, and tofu with the same salty, sour, sweet marinade. 
The joy of building a fire, cooking over it, and watching the coals burn together with my family and friends has brought me incredible joy and made me thankful for all the simple blessings I have. Life can be very challenging at times, but sometimes it's the tiny moments of joy that help me to have perspective and give thanks. I know it seems corny to get all deep and mushy over a backyard BBQ, but  I hope all of you are blessed with more than a few moments of happiness and thanks for good food, family and community this summer.

Are you grilling this summer? Please Share your recipes, thoughts etc....