• 23Jul

    apparently in Vermont.

    I’ve always had a soft spot for water buffalo. Mostly because my mother would tell us stories of her childhood in China. This when she would be frustrated with our inability to take responsibility for the care of the most rudimentary of pets…say a goldfish. “I can’t believe you can never remember to feed that goldfish of yours…when I was a kid I had to watch over the family’s water buffalo. Do you know I wouldn’t be here if anything had happened to that buffalo…”

    When I grocery shop at Berkeley Bowl, I scan the shelves -quick and methodical- to see if anything new might have hit the market. This week I was excited to see something I hadn’t noticed before in the dairy case “Waterstock Water Buffalo” yogurt. I immediately pictured my mother as a young girl in the rice fields up to her ankles in water walking along side her water buffalo smacking it’s behind with a thin bamboo cane. With the snap of the cane, I decided to purchase some – Vanilla for P and Maple for moi.

    Wow, now that is some dense kind of creamy goodness. No wonder as it has nearly twice the fat of cow’s milk as well as a tad more protein and calcium. Very tasty stuff. I may have to pick up some of the plain to use as a base for dips. With so many cucumbers coming out of the garden maybe a batch of the Greek cucumber dip Tzatziki is in order.

    Of course with my next visit to Mom she’ll be getting a tub of her favorite flavor…maybe she will share some more childhood stories :)

  • 22Jul

    Wow, we are going through one big heat wave! Last thing we want to do is fire up the stove. Given that it is 94F outside at the moment even the outdoor grill is not appealing.

    Our garden is brimming with veggies I decided to make ‘noodles’ with my handy dandy Japanese mandoline, the Benriner. With the medium ‘teeth’ julienne blade, I cut up cucumbers, zucchini, carrots from the garden and some jicama and savoy cabbage from the frig. I sprinkled some sea salt on the veggies and let them drain for about an hour so I didn’t end up with a water logged salad. Then I added some finely sliced red onion, jalapenos, cilantro, mint and basil. For good measure I tossed in some blanched pole beans cut into 1/2 inch pieces. Umm, so I guess I did have to turn on the stove…but with the garden producing a pound of beans a day I had to make the sacrifice.

    Dressing it was pretty simple – limes from the garden for the acid, sucanat to sweeten, a splash of tamari, a glug of olive oil, sea salt, lots of minced ginger, a clove of minced garlic and a big pinch of Korean chili flakes.

    Cooking Tip: for a quick mince use the microplane zester. Just ‘grate’ the ginger and clove of garlic on this super sharp zester.

    Another great dressing would be the dressing for the traditional Thai green papaya salad which has lime juice, palm sugar, garlic, Thai chili bird peppers, dried shrimp, fish sauce and crushed peanuts. Yum.

    There you go – a nice Asian inspired ‘noodle’ salad. Serve this well chilled. It would be a nice side to grilled prawns, fish, steak or pork tenderloin. Oh, we can’t forget that nice cold bottle of beer 😉


  • 19Jul

    My dear client loves her soup. She is quite fond of carrot and ginger but is always game for variations on a theme. In this case the theme is orange :)! Well, really it’s the beta carotene we are after. I spied some little organic butternut squashes at Berkeley Bowl the other day. That along with a recent visit to the Berkeley Thai Temple for some cheap eats inspired this soup:

    Thai Squash and Coconut Soup

    Amount Measure Ingredient — Preparation Method
    ——– ———— ——————————–
    1 1/4 – 1/2 pound butternut squash
    1 tablespoon coconut oil — or vegetable oil
    1 small carrot — thinly sliced (no need to peel – lots of vitamins in that skin)
    1/2 medium onion — thinly sliced
    1/2 stalk celery — thinly sliced
    1 medium jalapeno chile pepper — thinly sliced
    2 inch lemon grass — smashed
    2 slices ginger — minced very fine
    1 clove garlic — smashed
    1 teaspoon sea salt (Try Redmond)
    1/2 cup coconut milk (I use Thai Kitchen Organic)
    2 cups water or vegetable stock — more if needed
    1 tablespoon lime juice

    Cut butternut squash in half, put in baking dish cut side down with about a 1/2 c water. Bake at 350F until soft – about 30 – 40 minutes. Cool and scoop out squash from shell.

    Heat oil in a 6 quart pot. Over medium heat, saute carrot, onion, celery, jalapeno, lemon grass, ginger and garlic with sea salt until soft – about 15 minutes. Add coconut milk, water, lime juice and squash. Simmer another 20-30 minutes, stir every so often to make sure the squash doesn’t stick to bottom of the pot.

    Blend soup until smooth and creamy. Strain through a fine mesh strainer or if you can’t do this be sure to remove the lemon grass before blending, otherwise you will be picking the fibers out of your teeth. Season to taste with salt and more lime juice as needed. This soup can be served hot or cold. A nice garnish would be pumpkin seeds toasted in a little coconut oil with chopped garlic and parsley or a simple sprig of cilantro will do as well.

    Bonus: A little gardening tip today. To grow your own lemon grass, take a few stalks (choose ones that have not had their bottoms trimmed too far up) and cut off the tops so you have about 6-8″. Put this in a jar of water and in a about 1-2 weeks you will see roots. Plant in a large pot (these guys will spread and spread so I like the control of a pot) and water often. Soon the stalks will start multiplying. Set out in a sunny spot. In a few months you will have a nice supply. Be aware that the leaves are sharp as razors and will give you paper cut like slices – ouch! So wear some gloves.

    The next garden related post will be an update on the…yes…no…yes…oh, no…the gooseberries …they’re back…

  • 18Jul

    When it’s hot who would want to sit down to a steaming bowl of soup? Not I. One of my dear clients doesn’t either and requested a soup that she could serve chilled. She is always daring me to make something different so no gazpacho for her. I love honeydew melons and cucumbers always equals ‘refreshing’ in my mind to this is what I came up with:

    Honey Dew Melon and Cucumber Soup

    Amount Measure Ingredient — Preparation Method
    ——– ———— ——————————–
    2 cups cucumber — peeled and diced
    2 cups honeydew melon — peeled, seeded and diced
    1 small jalapeno — seeded and diced
    2 tablespoons onion — diced
    1 tablespoon mint — chopped
    1 teaspoon sea salt
    1/2 cup water (I was draining some yogurt for yogurt cheese and used the whey instead of water)
    1/3 cup olive oil (I used Bariani Extra Virgin – a very assertive olive oil)

    Blend all ingredients until smooth and creamy. Serve chilled.

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    So simple and you don’t have to heat up the kitchen!

    Enjoy :)

  • 16Jul

    I felt like a kid waking up on Christmas morning today. Just a short stroll from my house – a new farmer’s market was starting up. Year-round no less.

    It started at 9 am so I was up bright and early – helped by Mochi the dog who decided that 6:30 am was a good time to bust into the bedroom. P and I were joined by my brother, his girl friend, sister-in-law and 2 year old neice. As we headed out, our neighbor commented that it looked like we were going to a parade :) So we headed off in a very festive mood. I was anxious to get there before it got too crowded – little S with her 2 year long legs kept up with my quick pace. Soon we heard music and spied the tops of the vendor tents.

    I didn’t really know what to expect – I figured a small contingent of farmers and a few food vendors. I was pleasantly surprise when we turned the corner – the whole DMV parking lot was lined on both sides with vendors – many of my favorites and some I wasn’t familiar with. This was way above my expectations! Every vendor had beautiful wares and most were organic – samples were very generous :)

    Since our garden was busting with veggies we planned a fruit trip. The only place you can buy decent ripe fruit is at a farmer’s market (or direct from the farm). Not only does ripe fruit not travel well enough to survive the typical 2 week grocery store distribution trip I heard that there are regulations in California prohibiting the sale of fruit to wholesalers above a certain sugar level. Not sure of the exact regulation but I do trust the source of this information. So there you have it – unless you have access to fruit trees or a farm – luscious ripe fruit can only be found at a farmer’s market.

    Anyway – anything you could need for a week of yummy eats was there – fruit, veggies, mushrooms, avocadoes, organic free range eggs, hand made tofu, fish, oysters, breads from a number of vendors, olive oils and vinegars.

    We only had about 30-40 minutes to enjoy the market and with family and friends around we ended up socializing more. Honestly I was a bit overwhelmed and look forward to next week when I plan to set aside a bit more time to browse and enjoy a nice breakfast/brunch from one of the food vendors – Thai, Crepes, Mexican, Indian, Oysters or Scones from Bakesale Betty? not sure but will have to have some goat’s milk ice cream for dessert.

    If you live in the Rockridge or Temescal area or are in the hood – stop by this fabulous new market.

    Sundays from 9 am – 1 pm
    5300 Claremont Avenue

  • 01Jul

    lands in County Alameda – home to Berkeley California…

    What else could happen but we stuff it full o’ nuts and seeds…This bread is inspired by Karyn D, one of my classmates at the Bauman College Nutrition Consultant program. She happens to hail from Ireland – home to my favorite fiddle music :). For snack she made for us her very addictive Irish Soda bread which she learned how to make from her Mum by the POTPOT method. Just so you know she’s the one who added the nuts and seeds. I’m just attempting to record an approximation of a recipe – not the recipe. This is what I came up with. Not as tasty as I remember hers to be but satisfies my craving. (Yes I know it has dairy in it – which I am sensitive to but what the heck you gotta live a little!) And I couldn’t in good conscious call it Irish soda bread because of the County Alameda influences…

    Irish Lassie Crunch Bread

    Amount Measure Ingredient — Preparation Method
    ——– ———— ——————————–
    3/4 cup oatmeal — old fashion
    3/4 cup whole wheat flour
    1/3 cup all-purpose flour
    1/4 cup almond meal
    2 tablespoons sucanat or rapadura
    1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    3/4 teaspoon baking soda
    3/4 teaspoon sea salt, fine
    3 tablespoons unsalted butter — chilled, and cut into cubes
    1 cup buttermilk
    1/4 cup flax seed
    1/3 cup walnuts — finely chopped
    1/3 cup sunflower seeds
    2 Tablespoons sunflower seeds — for topping

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a medium loaf pan with butter and lightly flour.

    Toss together flours, almond meal, sucanat, baking powder, baking soda and sea salt in a large bowl to blend. Add butter. Using fingertips, rub in until coarse meal forms. Mix in nutsand seeds. Make well in center of flour mixture. Add buttermilk. Using fork, gradually stir dry ingredients into milk until just blend. Don’t overwork or you will have a very tough loaf of bread.

    Transfer dough to prepared pan and flatten slightly. Sprinkle dough with the 2 tablespoons of sunflower seeds.

    Bake bread until brown and tester inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean, about 30-40 minutes. Cool bread in pan 10 minutes. Transfer to rack to finish cooling. Serve warm or at room temperature.

    Yields 1 loaf with approximately 14 slices. Per Serving: 147 Calories; 8g Fat (49.4% calories from fat); 6g Protein; 14g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber.

    A nice variation would be to add some dried fruit: raisins, apricots, cranberries, cherries…