Maui Girl Cooks

“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.” Luciano Pavarotti


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A Nutty Anytime Snack

Before I get to the recipe, I’d like to tell you about a free event tomorrow at the Historic Iao Theatre in Wailuku, Maui.  If you enjoy theatre, you may want to show up tomorrow {4/14/14} at the Iao for their free ONO {One Night Only} of Cactus Flower.  These shows are always good, and the seats fill up quickly, so get there early.  They have coffee, bottled water and cookies for a donation, but we may be taking a bag of one of our favorite snacks.

This is one of our favorite snacks.  It is ridiculously simple, but when a quick and healthy snack, or dessert is in order, give this a try.  It is as easy as tossing some of your favorite nuts & dried fruit into a bowl.  But don’t stop there, because you haven’t added the 2 ingredients that boost up the flavor & make good nuts & dried fruit even better.  Hopefully you are asking yourself, “What are those ingredients?”  If you aren’t, you should, because you will want to make this.  What are the ingredients?  Chocolate {!!!} and salt.  That’s it, chocolate and salt.  You may know and love how great chocolate tastes with nuts, and maybe you’ve had it with dried fruit.  You know that salt is a fabulous flavor enhancer if you have ever eaten low sodium or no-salt added anything.  Salt is like cream-it doesn’t take much to take a dish over the top.  So, here is the formula of sorts.

nuts, fruits and chocolate

A Nutty Anytime Snack or Dessert

Nuts, a variety of raw & unsalted
Dried fruit
Chocolate, whatever you like
Good salt {not iodized salt please}

Put some nuts in a bowl and microwave for about 30 seconds, just to warm them and start to release their oils, so the salt will better adhere to them.  Add some dried fruit and a bit of salt.   Toss the nuts and dried fruit to distribute the salt.  When the mixture has cooled, add some pieces of whatever chocolate you like.  Toss again and eat.

Tips:
*The nuts:  You could use only 1 type of nut, but a variety is more fun and more nutritious.  We like walnuts, macadamia nuts, peanuts & pecans.
*The dried fruit:  Use less dried fruit than nuts.  Just a few pieces add a little punch of sweetness to balance the savory flavor of the nuts.  We like apricots, tart cherries and pineapple.  We dry our own pineapple, so it isn’t the sugar-coated stuff you buy at the store.
*The chocolate:  Of course, you can add as much chocolate as you like, and you might be tempted to add a lot.  You do not need much to make a difference.  We break up 1 square from a bar of Lindt dark chocolate  {Have you tried Lindt dark chocolate???  It’s smooth, creamy and delicious.}.  One square broken up into little pieces mingles with the nuts and fruits and adds another nice bit of subtle sweetness to the whole melange.
*The salt:  Please do not use iodized salt.  It will not be an improvement, nor will it leave a favorable impression on whomever is eating it.  We use sea salt from our salt grinder, but also delicious would be Maldon salt or Fleur de Sel. . .just a couple of grinds or sprinkles will do.  Give it a taste and add more if needed.  The salt is the piece de resistance.  It’s the French fries and milkshake thing. . .salty, sweet crazy deliciousness.
*As a dessert:  This is great with a nice glass of red wine!

Bon appétit!


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Refrigerator Confidential Day #4

Welcome to Day #4 of Refrigerator Confidential!  I’m not sure if you noticed, but we can sure tell that the fridge has more room to move around.  Even though it’s great to have a well-stocked refrigerator, it is fun to “eat it down” and look forward to starting all over again on Saturday.

Tuesday’s Meals with Recipes:

Breakfast

Me- leftover baked potato from yesterday’s lunch, 1/2 grapefruit, Breakfast “Borscht”
My husband- same as the last 2 days {plain yogurt, nuts, dried fruit, local honey}

Lunch

Roasted Carrot Soup
Ryvita Crackers with Organic Cultured Butter

Dinner

Leftover Baked Salmon
Orange & Molokai Purple Sweet Potato Fries
Steamed Beet Greens

Breakfast Beet and Yogurt “Borscht”

I was going to blend up a frozen banana and some plain yogurt to make a banana lassi {although I don’t think you would use frozen fruit in a lassi}, and then it occurred to me that pickled beets and yogurt would be a good combination {think chilled beet borscht with a dollop of sour cream top}.  Mine would be kind of a speedy version of chilled beet borscht.  A big spoonful of pickled beets, with a creamy cloud of plain yogurt swirled in, and a sprinkle of dill and voila, “borscht”!  I tasted it, and thought that some capers would add a nice punch of flavor, and indeed they did.  I love capers!  Actually, I just learned on the Splendid Table podcast last week that capers are more properly called caper buds, because they are the bud of the caper flower {from the caper plant} before it opens.  When the flower drops off, what is left is a caper berry, which looks like a giant caper bud.  I have never tried caper berries, but I hear that they are not quite as pungent as the caper buds.  Had I not eaten the baked potato, I would have enjoyed my yogurt with a buttered Ryvita {a buttered Ryvita is always good}.

Roasted Carrot Soup
adapted from Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen 

This is another of my favorite soup recipes from Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen .  I think I have mentioned before that it is my favorite soup cookbook, and Madison is my favorite cookbook author.

1 pound carrots, cut into chunks
2 small potatoes, cut into chunks
1 large onion, cut into chunks
5 garlic cloves, peeled
2-4 tbsp olive oil {I used 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil}
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 hefty thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf {I used 2}
*1 quart vegetable stock or water
1/2 cup light cream {I used 2% milk, and the soup was delicious.  I don’t think I’ve ever made it with cream.}
2-3 tbsp creme fraiche or sour cream, stirred with a fork until loosened {I used plain yogurt, but would use one of the other choices if I had them on hand.}
Fresh minced parsley or chives

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F {I used 375 degrees F.}.  Toss the vegetables with the olive oil and season with 1/2 tsp salt and some pepper.  Put them in a large baking dish sprayed with pan spray for easy cleanup {I used a 9″x13″ Pyrex baking dish.}, along with the thyme sprigs and bay leaves.  Roast until tender and glazed, about 1 hour, turning them 2-3 times.

Transfer the vegetables to a soup pot, add stock or water and bring to the boil.  Simmer until the carrots are soft, about 20″, then puree until smooth.  An immersion blender is a great tool for this-very quick and easy.  Return the puree to the pot {if you used a blender}, taste for salt, and season with pepper.  Stir in the cream or milk.

Ladle the soup into bowls, swirl in a spoonful of creme fraiche, sour cream or yogurt into each, top with minced parsley and serve piping hot.  Delicious and super healthy!

Makes about 4 servings {6 cups}.

*I used to make homemade vegetable stock for soup until I read Deborah Madison say that if you have great vegetables, you can use water in lieu of stock.  So unless a soup calls for a specific stock {i.e. red stock for tortilla soup, mushroom stock, etc.}, I use water and the soup is great.  I do not care for store bought vegetable stock.

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We had a tasty little wine and cheese pupu {appetizer} while waiting for our Orange and Molokai Purple Sweet Potato Fries to roast.

wine and parmesan appetizer

 

Orange and Molokai Purple Sweet Potato Fries

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Roasted Orange and Molokai Purple Sweet Potatoes

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Make sure you have a rack positioned on the bottom of your oven.
3 potatoes will fill up a half-sheet pan-use 2 pans if you want more fries

Cut potatoes so they are approximately the same size; you can cut them into any shape you want {slices, wedges, French fries…}.  Place potatoes on a sheet pan that has been lined with foil, sprayed with pan spray {they will stick if you don’t} and drizzled with olive oil.  Season with kosher or sea salt, freshly ground pepper and red pepper flakes.  The red pepper flakes add a great spicy counterpoint to the sweetness of the potatoes; I wouldn’t leave them out, but if you aren’t a fan of spicy, by all means don’t use them.  I love spicy!!

Roast the potatoes on the bottom oven rack until they are browned and starting to get crispy, stirring occasionally. They will be tender in about 20 minutes, but leave them in longer so they will brown and crisp up.  The purple potatoes can get dried out if you leave them in too long, so keep an eye on them after 20 minutes or so.

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Steamed Beet Greens

Fresh beet greens {1 pound will serve 2-4 people}
Extra virgin olive oil
Butter
Sea salt & freshly ground pepper
Sherry vinegar or lemon juice

Wash greens well, making sure water is clear, as beet greens can be quite dirty.  Discard any tough stems {or cut small & sauté} and roughly chop the greens.  Spin them mostly dry, but leave some water clinging to the leaves for steaming.  Put greens in a pot large enough to hold them, cover and cook over medium high heat until tender, 10-15 minutes.  Stir occasionally so they do not burn or stick.  When the greens are tender, season with a little butter, olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground pepper.  If desired, sprinkle with a bit of sherry vinegar or lemon juice.

What’s gone?

  • 1 bottle kombucha
  • salmon
  • both potatoes
  • purple & orange yams {from Costco}
  • beet greens

 

Here is the refrigerator on Day #4:

Wed fridge

 

 


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Refrigerator Confidential Day #3

Welcome to Day #3 of Refrigerator Confidential!  This week, you are up close and personal with our refrigerator.  You can see what we buy at the Saturday Upcountry Farmers Market, and how we prepare it during the week.  It’s kind of a game for us {a very tasty game I might add}, and the goal is to eat all or most of the food by Friday, and end up with lots of empty bags to fill up at the market on Saturday.  Sometimes we are successful, and sometimes we don’t do so well.  The refrigerator’s Friday appearance has to do with how many times we eat out during the week {restaurants, beach BBQs, etc.}, as well as how motivated we are to take the time to wash the greens, broccoli, etc. and cook them.  Sometimes it’s easier to throw a salad together, with the already washed lettuce, than to wash and steam the broccoli; I think you know what I mean.

Monday’s Meals:

Breakfast

Me- The little bit of chili and brown rice that was leftover from yesterday
My husband- Nancy’s Low-fat Plain Yogurt with local honey, dried Maui pineapple, dried Maui apple bananas & coconut flakes, roasted peanuts & walnuts

Nancy's Plain Yogurt w/Maui honey, dried pineapple, dried apple bananas, walnuts, peanuts, coconut flakes

Freshly Pressed Ginger Kombucha {1 bottle is almost gone already!}
Green tea

Lunch

Gerald’s Eggs with Red Peppers & Parmesan {these eggs are a kind of open-face omelette/frittata that Gerald made up~really good}
Baked potato with butter {we shared a potato}
Caesar Salad
Avocado

Monday Lunch

Dinner
I worked tonight, so we didn’t eat the same thing.  We usually do, but it did’t work out this time because there was only 1 piece of Chicken Cacciatore left…for me!

Me- Chicken Cacciatore, broccoli & 1/2 grapefruit {and a piece of chocolate~ Lindt Dark Chocolate with Black Currants!!!}
My husband- sandwich on Dave’s Killer Bread {sometimes we will break down & buy a loaf of bread, if we run out of homemade bread…we like Dave’s} with Gruyere cheese, lots of arugula and mayonnaise {he said it was really good}, broccoli

What’s gone?

  • chili & brown rice
  • 1 potato
  • Caesar dressing
  • cooked broccoli
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 bunch arugula almost gone
  • romaine lettuce almost gone
  • 1 container of sauerkraut
  • avocado

Here is the refrigerator on Day #3:

Monday's refrigerator

 

Bon appétit!


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Refrigerator Confidential Day #2

Welcome to Day #2 of Refrigerator Confidential!  This week, I’m taking you inside our refrigerator so you can see what we buy at the Saturday Upcountry Farmers Market, and what we do with it throughout the week.  It’s kind of a game for us {a very tasty game I might add}, and the goal is to eat all or most of the food by Friday, and end up with lots of empty bags to fill up at the market on Saturday.  Sometimes we are successful, and sometimes we don’t do so well.

Yesterday I told you in words and pictures what we bought at the market.  I didn’t say anything about what else was in the refrigerator.  We had {not an exhaustive list, by any means}:

leftover homemade chili
leftover brown rice
cooked broccoli
homemade mustard vinaigrette
beets, which I cooked and pickled yesterday

Sunday’s Meals with links to recipes:

Breakfast
Me- Nancy’s Low-fat Plain Yogurt with olive oil, salt, pepper, cumin; broccoli with a drizzle of mustard vinaigrette
My husband- Nancy’s Low-fat Plain Yogurt with local honey, dried Maui pineapple, dried Maui apple bananas & coconut flakes, roasted peanuts & walnuts
Freshly Pressed Ginger Kombucha {1 bottle is almost half gone already!}
Green tea

Lunch
Leftover chili & brown rice {they’re almost gone!}
Salad of kale, arugula, pickled beets, Maui onion, Wakame & Ginger Sauerkraut Salad with mustard vinaigrette
Broccoli with olive oil, lemon, salt, pepper, Parmesan and toasted sliced almonds

Dinner
Baked salmon with mayonnaise and Sweet Ginger Chili sauce {similar to Thai sweet chili sauce, but with healthier ingredients}
Caesar salad with homemade croutons and avocado

Pickled Beets
4 fresh beets, scrubbed and steamed until tender {about 45 minutes for medium size beets}
Onion, sliced {as much as you like, or none}
3/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp whole peppercorns
2 small bay leaves {or 1 large}

When beets are tender when pierced with a knife, let them cool until you can handle them comfortably.  Peel off the skins, and cut them into whatever shape you like.  Put them into a container with a tight lid, so you can turn them upside down to distribute the pickling liquid.  If you are using onions, layer them in with the beets.  I usually use a quart mason jar.  In a small saucepan, combine all ingredients and bring them to the boil, stirring to ensure that the sugar gets dissolved.  Pour over beets and onions.  There will not be enough liquid to cover your beets, so turn the container upside down occasionally, and shake to distribute the liquid.  They will get tastier as they marinate longer.

Here is the refrigerator on Day #2:

photo1-4

Bon appétit!

 

 

 


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Cranberries for Breakfast

A few tidbits about cranberries. . .
~ The cranberry is native to North America.
~ Cranberries bounce because of air pockets inside the fruit.  They are also called bounceberries.
~ If you were to string all of the cranberries harvested in North America last year, it would reach from Boston to Los Angeles more than 565 times!

Source of information:  http://www.oceanspray.com/Kitchen/Plan-It/Family-Fun/Cranberry-Fun-Facts.aspx

Some time ago, I posted a few ways that we like to eat plain yogurt.  Cranberry season is here, which means we can swirl some raw cranberry orange relish into creamy plain yogurt for a delicious breakfast treat.  Topped with walnuts & a sprinkling of raw cacao nibs, it makes a great breakfast with a piece of toast and some tea.  As I mentioned in a previous post, our favorite yogurt is Nancy’s.

Nancy's Plain Yogurt

Nancy’s Plain Yogurt

When you open up a new yogurt, stir it well until all the lumps are out and it is super creamy.  Add whatever you like to make a healthy and delicious breakfast.

Plain Yogurt with Cranberry Orange Relish & Broken Walnuts

Plain Yogurt with Cranberry Orange Relish & Broken Walnuts

You could stop with the cranberry orange relish {recipe here} and walnuts, or do as I did and sprinkle a few raw cacao nibs over the top.  In one fell swoop, you can boost the taste & the nutrition of your creamy bowl of yogurt.  What a deal!

Try some raw cacao nibs on your bowl of yogurt!

Try some raw cacao nibs on your bowl of yogurt!

I enjoy having some toast with my yogurt.  It adds somewhat of a “savory” bite to counter the yogurt’s sweetness, even though this yogurt isn’t super sweet, since it only contains a bare minimum of sugar.  I wrote about this bread before, but it’s worth revisiting.  It is simple to make & tasty to eat.

Date Walnut Cinnamon Bread

Date Walnut Cinnamon Bread with Star fruit

Better eat it quickly, because the butter is almost melted!  I prefer my butter sitting on top in cold, thin slices.  Mmmmmm!  This bread is just about as good as cinnamon rolls, but a lot easier and quicker to make.  With the cranberry orange relish, more fruit isn’t really required, but the star fruit makes a pretty addition to the plate.  Aren’t they cute?  Star fruit is a tropical fruit whose season runs from July-February in the U.S.  It is a good source of Vitamin C, potassium and fiber.  According to Food Chemistry, star fruit is a good source of antioxidants, particularly the kind found in green tea and red wine.

Date Walnut Cinnamon Bread
adapted from Easy Little Bread

1 1/4 cups / 300 ml warm water (105-115F) 2 teaspoons active dry yeast (one packet)
1 tablespoon runny honey
1 cup/140 grams whole wheat flour
1 cup/100 grams oats
1 cup/125 grams unbleached white flour
3 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
5 dates, snipped into small pieces
1 cup broken walnuts
2 tablespoons butter, melted, for brushing {you probably won’t need it all}

In a medium bowl, sprinkle the yeast onto the warm water and stir until the yeast dissolves. Stir in the honey and set aside for a few minutes, until the yeast blooms and swells a bit – 5 – 10 minutes.

In the meantime, mix the flours, oats, salt, cinnamon, dates and walnuts in a large bowl. Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir very well.

Brush a 9” x 5” loaf pan {8 cup} generously with some of the melted butter. Turn the dough into the tin, cover with a clean, slightly damp cloth, and set in a warm place for 30 minutes, to rise.

Preheat the oven to 350F / 180C, with a rack in the middle. When ready, bake the bread for 35-40 minutes, until golden and pulling away from the sides of the pan. I finish things up by leaving the bread under the broiler for just a heartbeat – to give the top a bit deeper color. Remove from oven, and turn the bread out of the pan quickly. Let it cool on a rack so it doesn’t steam in the pan. Serve warm with butter.

Makes 1 loaf.

Bon appetit!


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If you’re busy, never cook for one meal; always cook for two or three.  Put it in the freezer, but it doesn’t have to encore in the same form.” Lynne Rossetto Kasper

Kula Black Raspberries

Kula Black Raspberries

Who knew?  Not me.  I had no idea that some nice farmer is growing black raspberries, on Maui, for our eating pleasure {in November!!!}.  My husband purchased these beauties at the Upcountry Farmers Market.  What a pleasant surprise!

Luscious Fresh Berries

Luscious Fresh Berries

Black Raspberries with Cream & Powdered Sugar

Black Raspberries with Cream & Powdered Sugar

We love fresh berries with a dribble of heavy organic cream and a flurry of powdered
sugar. . .pure bliss. 

Unlike other easier to eat berries, cranberries elicit strong opinions from those who either love them or loathe them.  We happen to enjoy cranberries, and have a few favorite ways to use them.  I should say that I am talking about fresh cranberries, not the dried ones.  We do like dried cranberries, but they are not the same healthy powerhouse as the fresh variety.

Fresh Cranberries

Fresh Cranberries

Once the berries are dried, the sugar and calorie content skyrocket.  Fresh berries are only available a few months of the year, so if you want them year round, you will need to buy them now and squirrel them away for another day.  We like to rinse fresh cranberries in a colander, blot them dry and then put them on a parchment-lined sheet pan for a short stint in the freezer; this will prevent them from freezing into a solid block of cranberries, which will not be user friendly.  If you do not have parchment paper, a flexible cutting board works well, but I do not recommend using waxed paper, as it tears easily from being wet and it will be harder to remove the frozen berries.  Once the berries are frozen, pop them into a freezer bag and enjoy them whenever you like, in breads, cookies, hot cereal, smoothies or relish.

Ready for the freezer!

Ready for the freezer!

One of our favorite cranberry recipes is for fresh cranberry orange relish.  We also like cooked cranberry relish, but this is what we make most often.  We have significantly reduced the sugar for our tastes, but you can certainly adjust it for yours.  I enjoy this relish the most on plain yogurt {yum!} with big pieces of walnuts.  It is also good to have a spoonful on a green salad, or with any traditional cranberry-friendly foods.

Cranberry Orange Relish

Cranberry Orange Relish

Fresh Cranberry Orange Relish
adapted from Superfoods Rx.:  Fourteen Foods that will Change Your Life  {Steven Pratt, M.D. and Kathy Matthews}
12 ounces fresh or *frozen cranberries, rinsed and drained
1 unpeeled orange {preferably organic}, washed, cut into eighths and seeded
1/3 cup sugar {the original recipe calls for 3/4 cup}

Put the cranberries, orange slices and sugar into a food processor.  Process until everything is evenly chopped.  Chill until ready to eat.  *If you use frozen cranberries, partially thaw them before processing, or you will end up with a big cranberry orange ice ball.

The relish gets better as it sits and the flavors mingle.

Makes about 3 cups

Kale Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette

Kale Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette

We enjoyed several kale salads last week, all of them with cranberry vinaigrette.  The tart-sweet of the vinaigrette pairs perfectly with kale’s bitterness and the creaminess of fresh goat cheese.  A few other ingredients make this salad a winner.  Not to mention the fact that the dressing is a gorgeous hue of creamy cranberry pink.  It looks kind of like raspberry gelato.  I apologize for the lack of photo-we ate all the dressing.

Kale Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette
I made several versions of this salad recently, this being the most elaborate with the addition of canned tuna.  You can put in whatever you like, but I think the most important additions are the goat cheese {for creaminess} & the toasted walnuts {pair excellently with the goat cheese and cranberries, and for a toasty CRUNCH}.

Kale, enough for 2 salads, washed, dried well & torn into bite-size pieces
Thinly sliced sweet onion {or red}
1 avocado
1 can tuna {we use Wild Planet}; optional
Fuyu persimmon, washed and thinly sliced {I don’t peel them, but you can if you like.}
6 cherry tomatoes, halved
Toasted walnuts
Fresh goat cheese, crumbled
Cranberry Vinaigrette {recipe below}

Put the kale into 2 bowls and dribble with enough dressing to moisten.  Top with onion, avocado, tuna {if using}, tomatoes, crumbled goat cheese and walnuts.  Put a ring of persimmon slices around the edge of the bowl.  Add a grind of salt & pepper then top with dressing.

2 servings

Cranberry Vinaigrette
2/3 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (or tangerine juice)
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Combine cranberries, sugar, and vinegar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook about 5-10 minutes, or until the cranberries pop.  Remove from the heat and let cool.  Pour cooled cranberry mixture into a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Add the mustard and orange juice and blend.  With the motor running, stream in the olive oil.  Season dressing with salt and pepper.

Makes about 2 cups dressing

Did you know that. . .
Fresh cranberries:
* are low in calories {44/cup}
* are high in fiber
* are low in sugar
* aid in the prevention of urinary tract infections {UTIs} by preventing bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract lining
* are high in phenols which are plant chemicals known to be highly protective against many health problems {i.e. toxic to cancer tumor cells}
* helps to prevent bacterial adhesion to teeth and the stomach lining, preventing dental plaque and ulcers, respectively

Information from:  The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth {Jonny Bowden, Ph. D., C.N.S.}

Happy Thanksgiving & Bon Appetit!

Cultured Foods {aka Bugs, Who Needs ‘Em?}

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“Fermented foods help people stay healthy,” Sandor Katz author of New York Times best-selling book “The Art of Fermentation.”

Before we get to the heart of the matter of cultured foods, here is a photo of yesterday’s sky.  I was at the pool and the sky was so beautiful I had to take a picture.  The picture doesn’t do it justice, but you get the idea.

October sky

My husband and I do a good job of learning about what constitutes a healthy lifestyle in terms of eating and exercise, and then we implement what we have learned to the best of our abilities. Our latest foray into healthy eating is fermented {cultured} foods. Please understand that in no way do I consider myself an expert on cultured foods; I am far from an expert, and know just enough to be dangerous. We have been eating cultured foods for years, because we enjoy them, but have intentionally added more into our diet because of the health benefits. Here are some of our favorite cultured foods, all of which we buy at Mana Foods, for those of you on Maui:
~ YogurtNancy’s Yogurt {contains 11 different culture strains} has been a staple for more than a decade.
~ Sauerkraut and Fermented Pickles- We have recently started purchasing sauerkraut that is raw and unpasteurized, so that the beneficial microbes are available to us. One of our favorite brands is Sonoma Brinery. Farmhouse Culture makes fantastic sauerkraut as well. I LOVE their Smoked Jalapeno Kraut; I don’t find it at all smoky, but perfectly spicy! My husband prefers the Ginger Beet flavor, which I also like, but not as much as the Smoked Jalapeno. Both of these companies offer excellent products that are reasonably priced.  If you want sauerkraut, these are a must try!
~ Kombucha We drink a little kombucha most days. Our kombucha comes from Maui Kombucha.
~ GoodBelly Probiotic Drink This is a delicious nondairy nectar-like drink. My favorite flavor is Mango.  If you sign up for their Goodbelly Challenge, they will email you some coupons!
~ Sour Cream- We often spoon a bit of cultured sour cream on our quesadillas. Sour cream is always a yummy addition to a spicy dish.
~ Tempeh Tempeh is a fermented soy product from Indonesia. Our current favorite way to eat tempeh is seasoned with freshly ground salt and pepper and sautéed in a bit of coconut oil until golden brown.   Eat with ketchup and you have something that resembles French fries. A heavy drizzle of Sriracha Sauce is a great addition, if you like a little mouth burn, like I do.  We also make a delicious sandwich that we call a “TLT” meaning Tomato, Lettuce and Tempeh.  It is fantastic on toasted ciabatta bread.  Our tempeh is in the freezer until we are ready to eat it, and then it thaws very quickly.
~ Miso- I like kale salad with Outstanding Miso Sesame Dressing. There is also miso soup, which is delicious!

Here are a few of the cultured foods we’ve enjoyed in the last few days:

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Tempeh Sautéed in Organic Coconut Oil

Slice tempeh into approximately 1/2 inch slices.  Spray skillet {we use cast iron} with pan spray, then melt about 1 tbsp. of coconut oil.  When the oil is hot, add the tempeh slices.  Season with freshly ground salt and pepper to taste. Sauté, turning occasionally, until golden brown.  Serve hot with ketchup and Sriracha Sauce, or whatever you like.

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Yogurt with Pineapple, Peach and Cranberry Preserves

Put some yogurt in a bowl, and top with homemade preserves, and your choice of any or all of the following toppings:  unsweetened coconut, maple syrup {the real stuff please, preferably Grade B}, good quality honey, cinnamon, cacao nibs, nuts, hemp seeds, ground flax seeds, Buckwheat Chia Crunch  or anything else you’d like.

Pineapple, Peach and Cranberry Preserves

**This is really more of a guideline than a specific recipe.  You can adjust everything to your taste, including changing the fruits to what you have available.

1 Maui Gold pineapple
1 quart chunked fresh or frozen peaches
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1 cinnamon stick
approximately 1 tbsp. good quality honey
Juice of 1/2 a juicy lemon
Grind of salt

Get a Maui Gold pineapple if you can {we buy ours at Costco, maybe Mainland Costco sells them also-I think they do}, otherwise a “regular” fresh pineapple will do.  Cut up the pineapple into chunks {see previous pineapple blog post}.  Put all of the pineapple chunks into a wide-mouthed saucepan {for better evaporation of the liquid}.  Add 1 quart of peach chunks {we used the peaches we froze in August} and 2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries.  You can certainly use a different berry if you are not a cranberry fan, but you can’t really identify them as cranberries as far as taste goes .  Squeeze half a lemon and add the juice, and then throw in a cinnamon stick and a grind of salt.  Spoon in some good quality honey to taste.  We used about 1 tbsp.  Bring to a boil, and then turn down the heat and simmer on low until thickened.  The timing will depend on how juicy your fruit is.  The  preserves will thicken as they cool.

These preserves are meant to be made and eaten within a week or so; they are not preserved, so will not keep.

These preserves also taste great with one of our new favorite breads, from 101 Cookbooks.  I have made several of her bread recipes, and we have loved them all.

easy_little_bread_recipe 1000Photo from 101 Cookbooks

Easy Little Bread
from 101 Cookbooks
1 1/4 cups / 300 ml warm water (105-115F)
2 teaspoons active dry yeast (one packet)
1 tablespoon runny honey
1 cup / 4.5 oz / 125 g unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup / 5 oz / 140 g whole wheat flour
1 cup / 3.5 oz / 100 g rolled oats (not instant oats)
1 1/2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
2 tablespoons butter, melted, for brushing

In a medium bowl, sprinkle the yeast onto the warm water and stir until the yeast dissolves. Stir in the honey and set aside for a few minutes, until the yeast blooms and swells a bit – 5 – 10 minutes.

In the meantime, mix the flours, oats, and salt in a large bowl. Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir very well.

Brush an 8-cup loaf pan {9″x5″} generously with some of the melted butter. Turn the dough into the tin, cover with a clean, slightly damp cloth, and set in a warm place for 30 minutes, to rise.

Preheat the oven to 350F / 180C, with a rack in the middle. When ready, bake the bread for 35-40 minutes, until golden and pulling away from the sides of the pan. I finish things up by leaving the bread under the broiler for just a heartbeat – to give the top a bit deeper color. Remove from oven, and turn the bread out of the pan quickly. Let it cool on a rack so it doesn’t steam in the pan. Serve warm, slathered with butter.

Makes 1 loaf.

Adapted from Gran’s Kitchen: Recipes from the Notebooks of Dulcie May Booker.

Prep time: 10 min –    Cook time: 35 min

My Variations of Easy Little Bread {follow the same mixing instructions as the original recipe}

Variation #1:  Oat Rye Bread with Sunflower Seeds

1 1/4 cups / 300 ml warm water (105-115F)
2 teaspoons active dry yeast (one packet)
1 tablespoon runny honey
140 grams whole wheat flour
100 grams oats {not instant}
65 grams dark rye flour
60 grams unbleached white flour
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt {I used kosher salt}
2 tablespoons butter, melted, for brushing

Variation #2:  Cinnamon Date Bread with Walnuts

1 1/4 cups / 300 ml warm water (105-115F)
2 teaspoons active dry yeast (one packet)
1 tablespoon runny honey
140 grams whole wheat flour
100 grams oats
125 grams unbleached white flour
3 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt {I used kosher salt}
2 tablespoons butter, melted, for brushing
5 dates, snipped into small pieces

Have you added any delicious cultured foods to your meals?  If so, which ones?

If you are in Maui, you may want to visit the Upcountry Farmer’s Market.  They sell many different kinds of cultured foods there.

Additional Reading:
http://michaelpollan.com/articles-archive/some-of-my-best-friends-are-germs/

Cultures for Health

The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz

Video of Sandor Katz talking about fermented foods

Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation by Michael Pollan

Bon appetit!