Friday, March 20, 2009

the great loquat event-part one

ernest, my carpool buddy/food-wiki and i are planning to have a canning party in which we will tackle vast amounts of loquats, also known to me as loquat-apaloosa (my idea).
these are the things you talk about when you drive to San Bern every monday.
what is the loquat you say?? well first of all, it is not a relative to the kumquat.
the loquat is a fruit indigenous to southeastern China, and is also known as the Japanese Medlar. over the years, i have met a number of people who have loquat trees in their yards, however the reason you do not hear about them often is that their harvet time is about 2 seconds. not really, it is about 2-4 weeks, basically about enough time to know they are in season and then they are gone. plus they go bad very quickly, which is why you do not see them in the stores.which leads us to this loquat event. we are going to try to preserve as many loquats as possible, in a number of ways as well. if you have a loquat tree & are in Orange County, PLEASE get in touch with me and i will be more than happy to take them off your hands.
please send all inquiries to:
delilah snell
i will be letting you know how this all turns out.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

master food preserver-week3

week 3 started out a little bit different from the prior weeks as we decided to venture out of going directly to class and instead ventured out to partake in the culinary delights that are San Bernadino.
leaving an hour earlier than normal, we traveled a few miles to one of two recommended Mexican restaurants (literally across the street from each other). weather (and the wanting of a cold Negra Modelo) lead our clan to Lucy's, a quaint, old-school establishment that had yet to see the modernist, hipster evolution that is quite the attraction in Orange County (which there are several that i LOVE). this was immediately apparent in the interior: reminiscent of a local late-night haunt w/ simplistic lighting, vinyl booths and plain decor. Lucy's is not really concerned with the "look" but rather serving you up with some damn-good cheese-covered, diet-is-over, yumminess that took your mind off the wall and kept it focused on the plate-the way it should be. we scarfed down fish tacos, nachos, and a curious but super yummy dish-the New Mexico Enchilada (which i guess is not really common in these parts), and yes some Negra Modelos.
(exhibit A: New Mexico Enchiladas)
simply put, Lucy's may be a little off the beaten path, but a breath of fresh air amongst the chains that seem to saturate San Bern.
which leads us (happily) to our 3rd week in MFP...and to another session of canning via steam/water bath. to make this clearer, there are 2 distinct methods of canning: water/steam bath or pressure canning. the 2 methods are distinguished by the pH (or acidity) of the particular food being preserved and SHOULD not be intermixed-this is a big-time no-no for any kind of preservation (unless you like getting incredibly ill).
last week, we focused our work creating jams (and jellys, conserves, butters) or items that have a high pH and the use of pectin, sugar and heat to preserve. because the fruit (some) has a high acid content, the combination of sugar and pectin allow a lower heat to be used and thus you can use a steam/water bath method. the "transition point" (my wordage), in whether to change methods (to pressure & higher temp) is determined by whether the product is above or below a pH of 4.6.
under 4.6 (acidic)=water/steam bath (lower processing temp)
over 4.6 (more alkaline)= pressure canner (higher processing temp)
now what do you do when something is 4.6 or 4.8??? well, as we learned from making stirred tomatoes, by adding lemon juice or vinegar helps bring the pH down. make sure you use pH paper to make sure of this.
i have to say, i was really excited about learning to work with tomatoes. from soup bases to pasta sauce, savory gifts...basically everyone eats tomatoes!

(ernest: prepping the tomatoes for blanching and other ingredients)

(testing the pH of the tomatoes-has to be lower than 4.6!)

(this week's snacks: preserved cherries and apple cobbler!)

again, i was hanging out at the snack area a ton-hey the apple cobbler was super good! i also had to gain a keen understanding of the complex flavors of the apple-pie filling that we were about to make...never stop learning!
(instructor Connie)

if you haven't had the chance to have homemade pie filling-WOW, you will never go back to that store-bought crap again. if you can do this, start making it now and you will have a great holiday gift.
the only problem with this class is that there seems to be a a little problem with planning the activities of the class: things always seem to be running behind a little and if it wasn't for Ernest bringing his bag of tricks, we would have been left peeling 30 apples by hand! even though we had the peeler, we were just getting the apples to process right around 9pm (when the class ends).
(the apples that would not be- RIP)

PS: we had to leave before the apples were finished processing, but we heard latter that when the apples came out of the steam bath, they exploded after the rings were taken off (rings are the "screw-top" part of the jar. there was apple-sugar mess everywhere and after waiting an extra 30 minutes, the class had to clean up a mess instead of take yummy apples home :(

Saturday, March 14, 2009

affordable art-wool & water

i just found these incredible paper dolls from artist Amy Earle of Wool & Water (i LOVE this name).
this used to be the thing back in the day, i remember cutting out Barbie and various other cartoon celebs and folding paper costumes to them. they were not the most entertaining, now that i think about it, i was probably more entertained by trying to cut everything in the lines than actually putting the clothes on.
anyways, Amy's dolls are completely the opposite. these images are haunting and whimsical at the same time...they remind me of a Tim Burton film ala Nightmare Before X-mas.
for only $12, you can't beat these designs, which i like both hanging like a puppet or against some textured fabric in a frame. i want one!

(and after)
check out Amy's blog, Pushed Under about her works.

Friday, March 13, 2009

things in the mail

very excited by the mail today...not that it isn't usually. having a store you are always getting cool stuff in the mail (orders, catalogs, samples, magazines) and the not cool stuff like bills :(
but today in particular i was caught off guard w/ 3 wonderful things:
1.Charlie Krafft sent me a surprise gift: if you do not know who Charles Krafft is then shame on you! before i get into it, Charles is a fantastic artist out of Seattle who creates amazing porcelain weapons and other thought provoking items (like a skateboard with Martha Stewart's face or Delft plates with strange images)...he gave me a porcelain bloody-tooth pin last year that is the topic of many conversations (and a dear treasure). here are some of his works below:(here is Charlie with his skateboard)
Charlie is a dear friend whom i met years ago while i was waitressing at the Gypsy Den and he was a visiting artist at Grand Central. through our love of Marx and all things philosophical, we have been in touch ever since. i havent heard from him in a while so i must admit i was surprised to see in the mail a package that looked like a catalog, but it caught my eye with this "signature" stamp.
(this kind of rocks right?)
Charlie gave me a book on Cioran a philospoher that we both love-the sweetest things are those least expected. thank you!

2.we are in a book!: NY Times journalist Mia Navarro's book came out today and guess what-we are in it as a resource of places to buy gifts from for a conscious wedding! her book: Green Wedding: Planning Your Eco-Friendly Celebration is simply scrumptious! the photos alone are worth it! we will be having a signing here on May 16th (an look for a review soon too!). i am so excited for her-congrats Mia!
(my name in a book!- must be good:)
3.the Zip-Its have arrived!: this sounds lame, but i have been waiting to get these little plastic do-dads that clean your drain out for YEARS! i purchased mine years ago at a local hardware store and have been raving about them ever since. i have been calling and emailing them to just get a few, and now they are here! for $5 this thing lasts forever and is well beyond worth its cost. (yes i have no life).

affordable art-dkim

i absolutely LOVE this great find Brooklyn-based artist and designer d kim.
(drunk ambition)(the stars are against me tonight)(making pictures)
unfortunately, i do not think that these prints are on recycled paper with veggie-based inks (like most prints i recommend), but these images communicated a type of whimsy of nature to me. something like i would have in a dream or is i was a young girl again building my barbie mobile from a shoe-box. plus each one is around $35.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

review-Natural Products Expo West

i love March.
the first warm days of Spring, slightly warmer evenings, i start seeing berries in our CSA basket and best of all: Natural Products Expo West that happened over the past weekend.
(just the beginning: take a taxi or have some one drop you off)
this convention is the biggest (at least on the west coast) natural event this part of the country and i am always so very thankful that they choose to have this great event at the Anaheim Convention Center, literally 2 exits on the freeway away from the store, it doesn't get any better than that!
the economy and Expo West:
i have to admit, i was a little worried about the attendance numbers with the economy. my fears were quickly relieved though as there was absolutely NO parking by the time i arrived (about 30 min after the show started), just like always. personally i think the natural/green business is going to get a boost from the recession as people are really paying attention to where their money goes (on quality/health) as well as a distrust of big biz/imports (which i have to say was still present). single biggest thing that i noticed, or rather overheard were conversations where people mentioned that they were, "previously in mortgage/real estate/some other biz" but had recently starting doing something new. what i liked even more: a lot of these people were very happy about where they were working now.
Expo West is not cheap, and it's mad popular hence the place is usually at max capacity. what i happened to notice this year was there were several booths simply left empty, not a ton but enough no-shows to notice. paying for the booth is one thing, but if you factor in filling the booth, display items, staff, staff travel accommodations, rentals...well you have a lot of money going to the event.
vendors and such:
love going to this convention and overall, i would recommend trying/bribing/begging to get into this event, especially if you like to shop at Mother's Market, Henry's, Whole Paycheck etc...there are a number of great products and Expo West is the place where new products get introduced, manufactures present new items that will be released soon and where you the customer can simply TRY items without wasting $ on a game of, "well it looks good on the package".
i know i said this last year and i will say it again: there are some pretty obvious green/natural-washing examples here. A lot of the "big names" present at Expo West; you know, the people that take up the center, high priced areas of the convention floor...i started seeing this last year, and this year was no exception (hint: these are the names you have heard about forever, regular brand names). if you dont know already, many of the organic brands that we have come familiar with have actually been bought by conventional major food conglomerates (MORE on this to come). i heard later from a customer that Cargill (no es bueno) was even there-yikes!
i also noticed that there were no clear sections for "organics" vs. non-organics, making it confusing to those who are not paying attention.
(i dont know what he was doing, but he was having a great time!)
i love this show, yes there are things that need to changed (like clearly separating things like organics, fair trade, etc...) but i really like how Anaheim Convention Center is trying to walk the walk: use of biocompostables, good recycling, better food choices than most convention centers. again, this show is a must at least once if you can get in.
because of my time constraints, i was not able to see the whole show, which totally sucked. but from what i did experience:
- Dalby Day skin oils. she was wonderful and SUPER nice!
-Togo Ware. they are coming out with some new goodies that we will be getting in very soon, LOVE them.
- soyrizo! LOVE it, COOK it...and they are coming out with a spicier version! plus they were cooking up some awesome tacos and had their full line available.
(this is one of 3 stations w/ soyrizo goodness!)
-Pirates Booty their booth rocked and they seemed like they were having a great time (see below)...lots of awesome new samples. good for one of the bigger guys (i am trying to find out ifthey are owned by some BIGGER guy).
(the lady pirate was an awesome sport!)
-Alter-Eco. LOVE them!! fair trade dried goods, totally yummy and they are coming out with some black quinoa (they also have red-very good). see them here soon.
-Juniper Ridge. LOVE these guys, they have the best display by far and the people that make up this great company are sincerely the most awesome and reflective of the products they make..LOVE-i just wish we sold them here!!
(need to get these mason jar drink dispensers-ASAP!)
(fair trade & organic at the push of a button!)
grossest moment:
i ate a cheese sample using a toothpick from the dirty container! by accident of course!

i will be sure to post some tips on doing Expo West in the next week on how to gear up, navigate the show and know what is what-stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

master food preserver-week 2

it has been a busy week, so i am a little late on posting my 2nd week of MFP.
(where the magic happens)
had to cram the night before for my 1st quiz as a master food preserver. and guess what?? i forgot my notes at the store so that i could study on the way to class!
thank jah for my carpool buddy Ernest, who is a culinary STUD! this guy makes his own vinegar, flavored liquors and god-knows what else...i totally lucked out having Ernest as my buddy, b/c i am getting much more than a canning course-talking to him is like talking to a food-wiki!
so back to class-i have a problem of having the quizes "open-note", not because i didint have mine, but because if we are going to be educating the public, i need to at least know the basics without having to drag my books and notes and such around all the time. understanding and studying the basics of food preservation on-demand is why we are taking the class. i think it is perfectly fine to get questions wrong-it only means that there are topics that we have to go back and make sure we understand more.
(quiz time!!)
that being-i did pretty ok for no notes, again Ernest helped me out by lending me his. and after a brief lecture on the basics of jams, preserves, jellys, conserves and fruit butters (which are all variations of steam canned fruits with sugar-or high-acid foods), we set out on our first lab: carrot cake jam & pepper jelly.
(Ernest with the mad knife skills working the pears for the Carrot Cake Jam)
(sterilizing the lids and preparing the Carrot Cake Jam)
i have always had this weird thing about "savory jelly"-you know, the pepper, carrot, non-conventional fruit type spread (umm mint jelly or sugar with peppers people!), this doesnt set good with me (no pun intended). I was clearly changed though when i sampled some of Instructor Connie's pepper jelly on crackers with cream cheese-YUM! i know i am the last person on the planet to think so, but this totally works!
(snack time! i spent most of the evening here-hey it's good!)
(pepper jelly: looks nasty but is VERY good-don't worry i will make you some)

when quilts meet tees

i come across a lot of blank tees at thrift stores and garage sales and i just know there is something i can do with them, but i do not want to end up with a bunch of shirts sitting in my closet (which i have absolutely no room for now that i have moved!).
i had just happened to find these awesome shirts that are patches from quilts on tees...super cute!
(this does look a little "hippy", but more modern fabrics can take the patchouli out of it)

(love this deconstructed one-kind of like a permanent scarf on the tee)

Saturday, March 7, 2009

element clay studio-gorg!

i used to do ceramics in high school, i loved it and one of the things that is a bummer about owning your own business is that you do not have the time to do things like pottery b/c you are too busy looking at other people's work and typing on this thing...kidding! but i am planning an escape to the local pottery studio in the very near future.
in the meantime, i have been looking for inspirational ceramics for both myself and for the store. i happened to find one today-Element Clay Studio, check it out!

i absolutely love these porcelain tiles!! can you imagine doing something like this-i do not have the patience for it! Created by artist Heather Knight, some of these works have been featured in various design magazines , and justly so! the larger tiles are between $150-300., but she has also but out a line of min-tiles that are under $ there you go!

Friday, March 6, 2009

chocolate covered macadamia nuts-EASY!

some friends came over last night and i made several things in anticipation of secret fork- potato soup with curly kale w/ grilled sausage(thank you Alice Waters!), roasted garlic heads, fresh guacamole, mixed green salad (from a basket of food that Kelly from Backyard Beekeepers sent me!) with this super easy dressing that i do, my soon to be famous kumquat margaritas and the best of all-chocolate covered macadamia nuts!
we usually get a small bag of shelled macs in our CSA, personally i am not the biggest fan (i know already!). what i usually do with them is toast them and put them on salads of grind them up good and put them in a lentil nut loaf.
several glasses of wine lead me to making these treats that are great if you are having people over and want a quick dessert that is yummy and original.
-in a double boiler (or you can do a ghetto double boiler like i did below), heat up 1/2 of a large bar of chocolate-you can get this on the cheap at your local Fresh and Easy.-make sure someone in watching the chocolate please, burnt chocolate is nasty! keep stirring around , they water should be just below boiling-about medium heat on the stove.
-tear off a piece of parchment paper and line a cookie sheet, smash up a small bag of macs with a hammer and spread on the paper. when the chocolate is nice and melted, drizzle on the nuts.
-sprinkle half with feur de sel (LOVE) and the other half with the dried pepper salt, and put it in the fridge for 1/2 hour or more (play a board game or a round of Uno, have a glass and by the time you remember why you started playing the game in the first place, the chocolate should be ready).

Monday, March 2, 2009

we are in the LA times!!! OMG!!!

please, please see the write up of us in today's LA Times in their business section. please feel free to make multiple copies and distribute them far and wide over this land!
la times article!!!

kumquat margaritas!

one of my favorite things i have been making recently that i have trying to show off to everyone that comes to visit us-kumquat margaritas.
i got the recipe from farmer Donna when i asked her about what to do with the baskets upon baskets that we receive each week with kumquats-they are great and all, but after a few months...getting kind of over it. it's funny, the "turning it into a drink" has been a popular thing to do in our CSA (caipirhinas, mojitos, sangria, limeade...), but hey we use up everything and coming up with a little more than the "bottle of beer" when people come over.

Farmer Donna's Kumquat Margarita:

2 baskets kumquats
-cut in 1/2 or in 1/4 if you are good with a knife
-blend one basket at a time in the food processor, add water to help it out (like 1/2c per basket)
-strain through a sieve to get the chunks out (if you don't have one-get one, they are cheap and if you want to save $ by cooking more this makes life better)
-put into sauce pan over med heat
add 1 tbs stevia or agave to mix
-mix and reduce the liquid for 30 min or so, taste occasionally, you might want to add more sweet
-set to cool, transfer to old tomato/sauce jar (will last for a while, NOT forever)

in a martini shaker...
equal portions tequila and kumquat mix
triple sec (i dont know how you like your margie, you decide this part)
handful of ice
-shake and pour in little vintagey glasses, tumblers look great holding this drink
-pour some of the ice in

Sunday, March 1, 2009

a follow-up to king corn

you must watch this! especially if you have seen some of the many, deceptive corn commercials!

blogging live from King Corn event

here's an image from our film screening of King Corn...such a great movie. afterward we are going to play some of the clips that the corn industry has been putting out saying the high-fructose corn syrup is OK-in fact good for you.if you havent seen the film already please do! this is the last film in our film series as daylight savings is next week and i dont want to be here until 9pm.
check our calendar periodically, because we will be showing films every so often however

secret fork blog is available for wandering eyes

i can't believe that i totally forgot to mention this: Secret Fork is now live! i thought i had said something and i was just going over the blog and i noticed there wasn't a single word about it.
Secret fork is my new culinary adventure, our backyard. we are starting our own renegade kitchen this month, dedicated to providing the OC with good food that is lovingly prepared and most of all local. there will be guest chefs and surprises.
if you are interested in joining secret fork, please see the blog and sign up. we will let you know when the dinner starts!