Monday, December 14, 2009

root cellar

a while ago, i mentioned that i live in a old-farm house from the early 1900's...having a older place is nice, there are quarky little things in the space like an ironing board in our wall and a dinning room lamp that we can pull down in the kitchen...
there is also a cellar which i have been excited about, being a food preserver and all.

an old-school form of food preservation is the root cellar. here in southern california (and modern times), we really havent had a use for them. but with the preserves taking-off, our living space at a dear minimum, and making vinegars and such, the cellar is so interesting to have.

just in case: a root cellar is a structure built underground or partially to store food items. this was big in areas with gardens (or plain bad weather-think everywhere but so cal) and little space to keep things warm and dry in the winter and cool in the summer.
now just dont put any old food thing under a box or in the shed-there are only certain items and environments that you can successfully "keep" (the preservers term for preservation-aka: old-school lingo) in a root cellar. think the "durables" (my lingo):
good food items/durables for a root cellar: onions, beets (not the leafy part), squash, potatoes, turnips, carrots and other thick-skinned rooty food items (see the similarity already?), also canned goods and salted goodies do super well here instead of taking up room in a closet or pantry.
i love this idea for several reasons:
1. our farm-house-complex also has several other people who may want to store food
2. this form of food preservation saves us room in storage and energy in cooling
3. this is a great area to store vinegars and other canned goods that i might not be using for a while
4. this is a great emergency food/supply area PLUS it is there-we should use it!

the one bad thing is that it is CREEPY! talk about scary movie in the making...getting the initial trash out of here i had the constant feeling that i was opening the door to Hellraiser and that dude with the needles in his face was going to come out of the corner and come get me (yes i am a scaredy-cat!)

(listen dude, all i want to do is store my food goodies and save some energy!)

this is going to be my Christmas project so stay tuned on how it will turn out!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

CSA cooking: Top Chef Las Vegas edition

basket inventory: beets, kale, 2 kinds of lettuce, carrots, arugula, small radishes, mint/cilantro/chives, valencia oranges, mandarins (gone already), bells, large toms, limes, macadamia nuts

in honor of the finale of Top Chef-Las Vegas, i decided to celebrate with my own inspired challenge: cook a 3 course meal from your CSA basket using only 5 extra ingredients from your pantry (not including oil and s & p).

basic simple salad: wash and tear the lettuce greens, chop the chives or various herbs.
dressing-in an old jar with a lid: olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lime juice, s&p, mustard...shake until you like the flavor.
tomatoes: slice them and put them into a small bowl. cover with balsamic vinegar, pepper and a little olive oil and salt....mix well and let it sit for 30 min or more. put on top of salad or some crusty bread or meat.

  • tilapia fillets
  • 1c. flour
  • spices (i like cayenne for heat, or nothing)
  • finely chopped mac nuts
  • 2 eggs (add some cream to the eggs if you want), whisked
  • s&p
  • carrots: see cumin carrots recipe, just sub orange juice for the lime juice
heat oven to 350 & wash the fillets. bowl 1: flour and spices/bowl 2: eggs. dip the fillets in the flour, then in the eggs, then place on a oiled baking sheet and sprinkle with the mac nuts. bake for 15-20 min. serve with a lime wedge.

CSA MOJITO (2 drinks worth)
  • 1 tbsp cane sugar
  • between 4-6oz lime juice (basically 1 lime cut into slices, the other reserved for more juice)
  • 4 oz rum
  • 2oz fresh oj and some water mixed in + some zest
  • ice
  • 1 large mint sprig, plus a few for garnish
muddle the mint and slices of one lime. add the oj, lime juice and rum in a separate glass and taste. add to mint mix, add ice and shake...pour into glasses!

*and yes i count the drink as a course-who do you think i am-the Voltaggio Brothers!

total non-CSA ingredients
(fish dish) eggs, flour, fish =3
(salad) balsamic vinegar, mustard =2
(mojito) rum, sugar= 2
total ingredients used=7...OK so i lost my own Top Chef, but i guess i could have had straight oj, but what was the fun in that!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

the weekend: Carolina, persimmons and Hollywood


(hot guys that played gypsy music in Hollywood)
another busy weekend
started off with canning persimmons of the tree of Diego and Arie Velasco...they definitely know how to can!Diego, chef and owner of Memphis restaurants and his uber-fantastic wife/business guru Arie had me over to can persimmons off their tree...i must say that this is how canning should be done!

(micro-basil...was very good!)

over a great selection of wine, foodie treats and much missed conversation this awesome couple (dont forget Arie's grapefruit-vodka concoction,which i will be posting the recipe later), we preserved 2 cases of persimmon jam and pepper jelly from Arie's fathers yard. honestly this alone would make a great night..sitting in a GORGEOUS kitchen with their dog Petunia, listening to music and having a blast. if life were only like this every day..only in my dreams...
my good friend Crystal (urban planner phd and brainiack) joined us and we later went to our friend Carolina's family home to celebrate her birth...
i love going to Carolina's home. this talented and artistic family not only makes some kick-a** pozole, but their home is so rich in color and art-one can't help but feel welcome and inspired. there was plenty of music, laughter and dancing well into the night making me truly understand the some good soup and friends is really all it takes-Happy Birthday Carolina!

(Carolina's family)

(gettin' ready to play)

(powered by pozole)

This past weekend was also my turn at the Hollywood farmers market and alas i did not see Alice Waters :(, but i was able to meet by chance Jen Rogers, of the popular Domestic Divas Blog...we have a lot in common, stay tuned for more!

we also scored pretty big as a result of the cold weather (another thing that can help with deal making at the farmers' market)
(i love these flowers!)

(kevin made us a sweet-potato pie!)

(best deal: $6 jamacian-jerk chx meal and $3 juice from Peruvian booth)

1/2 case shallots and sweet onions-which will be pickled
1 cs kiwi- will be jammed
1 cs poblano pepper- won't be as good as the hatch spread, but i'll try!
1 cs mixed bells- pepper jelly, always a fave
1 flat strawberries-strawberry/jalepeno jam anyone?

guess what i am doing this week?

affordable art: holiday edition

who said that you needed to decorate your place with tinsel and plastic santas to celebrate the season? why not buy some inspired art can be up year-round if you want and it looks a lot cooler than most of the things you see at Wal-mart.
Wont, out of NY has adorable posters and cards, but 4 holiday themed ones and frame them in an IKEA number.

Silver Cocoon: makes these AWESOME modern trees that can double as jewelry stand or minimalist sculpture.

Roost: makes these striking basswood deer heads, we actually carry them at the store (kids always ask to pet them!)

Cardboard Safari: has little bit cheaper version of the cardboard deer head and smaller so you can line them up.

Agru: i love this ceramic menorah!

Golly Bard: i adore these watercolors of simplistic nature and growth. nothing says winter like pine cones...i think i might want these, myself!

Monday, December 7, 2009

pickles for the raw foodist

(answering questions while the jellies process)
(simmering the bell pepper jelly)

last Wednesday i had the pleasure of teaching a canning class in Laguna Beach that was hosted by Transition Laguna and friend Pamela Sterling's eco-showroom, Laguna Green,
in every workshop that i teach, i always try to have some kind of goodie for people to try from a preserve i had made in the past. the good thing about preserves is that even a vegan can have a bite, there are hardly any animal products a pickle or jelly.
what i forgot however was that Pamela was a raw foodist. opps!
basically all of canning involves heat, and a lot of it (like between 180-220 degrees heat), just a little over (sarcasm) the 118 that raw foodists can have....i totally forgot and i felt horrible that she could not have anything.
then i remembered one of the samples i had brought was a new recipe that my friend Courtney from C-Salt gourmet for pickles that she brines in a cold vinegar mix (usually you should heat vinegar and pour it over cold veggies for fridge pickles)-they were perfect for Pamela.

  • 2 medium cucs (wax free!)
  • 1/2 tsp, give or take, of Herbes de Provence
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 heaping tsp of awesome gray sea salt
  • black pepper
  • 1/3 water, 2/3 cider vinegar
put everything in a jar w/ lid shake, put it in the fridge, taste the next day. keeps for about 2 weeks.
(giving Pamela some of Courtney's raw pickles to take home-she loved them!)

Friday, December 4, 2009

if you want to get me something....

i just found these super adorable iPod dock chargers from Woodtec.

perfect for the techie in your family or the modern-hippie.
and my personal favorite:

easy garlands for the holidays and then some

if you have been by our Patchwork Santa Ana show, you might have noticed tiny little fabric garlands that connect each lot. Nicole, who is MUCH BETTER at sewing than i could ever be made them from left over fabric samples and odd pieces that we couldn't do much with.
lately, i have been realizing and noticing that these cheap and easy to make garlands can be a great decor for some holiday sprucing...
Home Ec: a cute craft store in Silver Lake made some leaf garlands to decorate for fall.

blog Sew Mama Sew has instructions on how to make garland that look more profesh than our patchwork ones...but hey, we have a lot to do!

how adorable are these ones from Perch Papiers!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

CSA cooking: eggs in cream

basket inventory: chard, radishes, quavas (getting a little over them), mandarins, squash, cucumbers, leeks, 2 kinds of lettuce, limes, valencia oranges, macadamia nuts, parsley, basil
(image from NY Times magazine)
Read a great little article in this week's NY Times Magazine on the Soul Food Farm in Northern California that raises high-quality eggs and chickens to food restaurants like Chez Panisse. Soul Food recently started a CSA program and the article also covers the ups & downs of putting meaningful food to the table. One of the recipes was perfect for the leeks and herb in our CSA.

(from Camino via NY Times Magazine)

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup sliced leeks, light green and white parts only
  • 2 sprigs thyme, leaves roughly chopped
  • 2 sprigs parsley, leaves roughly chopped
  • 1 large farm-fresh egg
  • About 2 tablespoons half-and-half
  • salt and pepper
  • Grilled or toasted bread slices
Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. In a small sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the leeks, a splash of water and a pinch of salt and cook until the leeks are tender, about 2 minutes. Add the herbs and transfer to a 6-inch cazuela, cocotte or other ceramic dish, covering the bottom with the butter, leeks and herbs.
Crack the egg into the middle of the dish. Add enough half-and-half to barely cover the white. Sprinkle with salt and coarsely ground pepper. Cook until the white is set, 8 to 12 minutes. Serve with grilled or toasted bread.

food preservation workshops

here is the current list of workshops as of late:

12/10: 10-1PM
SAVORY GIFTS: road less traveled store

12/13: 3-6PM
SAVORY GIFTS: Monkey Business Cafe

12/20: 11-2PM
SAVORY GIFTS: road less traveled store

1/3: 3-6PM
JAM SESSION: Kitschen 105

*2010 workshops*
be on the lookout for the following: Kimchi and Kraut (making old school foods); Foraged Foods (finding and cooking from the local wild); Tart n' Tangy (pickles, chutney and relishes); Canning for Drinkers; Preserving the Season: Winter; Preserving the Love (making love-inspired preserves).

don't forget to come and visit me at the Hollywood Farmers' Market this Sunday!

oven-dried tomatoes

tomato season is coming to a close, quite honestly i am shocked that we still have as many as we do right now( ...i guess you can thank global warming). But i can definitely feel that their time is limited (hello leg warmers!).
this year, i have been blessed with incredible deals on heirloom tomatoes from the awesome people at Tutti Frutti Farms, in which i have made ketchup, Bloody Mary mix and tomato jam. i have also recently made dried tomatoes, which if you have an abundance of tomatoes, this is a very economical way of making a gourmet product.

(adding the salt and olive oil)

heat the oven to its lowest setting, ideally 180, mine only goes to 200, so i keep a close watch on them and sometimes have the oven door open a little.
slice the toms no bigger that 1/2", best is 1/4", just make sure they are all pretty uniform.
lay on parchment paper sprinkle olive oil and sprinkle with salt (spicy salt too!)
put in the oven for at least 4 hours, sometimes i do overnight. when they look like the ones below, take them out and put on a cooling rack. store in a container w/ a lid.

(the finished product)

now you can keep them like this for a few months, but you can also do something gourmey to them that will make them last longer.

  • 2-5 cups of olive oil, depends on the container size and amount of toms
  • dried (or fresh) basil and/or oregano
  • salt
  • minced garlic
  • dried tomatoes
use a wide-mouth jar and wash it really well (just go ahead and sterilize it!). fill the jar with layers of the garlic, toms, herbs and salt until you get to the top (but don't pack densely, you still have to put in oil). fill with oil until everything is submerged, make sure there are no air bubbles. tap the jar on the counter (of course make sure there is a towel under so the glass wont break), to get air out. secure with a lid and let it cure in a cool, dark place for 4-6 days. if you want, you can put them in the fridge, but i find that they loose a little flavor. as long as you put them in a cool, dark place they should be fine (Italians have been doing it for years).
(this is what they look like, not my photo-still can't find the camera cord!)
PS does anyone know where i can get a CHEAP camera cord or i will do a trade if you have an extra one.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Patchwork Long Beach...lots of thank yous!

this past Sunday we had our first Patchwork in Long Beach...and i must admit, i was a little scared about the whole thing.
it was only 2 months ago, that i was talking to Angie Redenback from The Outfit about the lack of holiday shows. i thought that Long Beach would be a great location and really considered that it could happen, but that meant work had to be done fast-kind of tough at a very time consuming time of year when i try not to add extra work-aka the holidays and being a retailer.
usually, Patchwork takes about 3-4 months to plan- it leaves enough time to cover all aspects of the event, properly screen vendors and allow both Nicole and i to do our usual jobs while putting on the event. having less time and a new location AND preparing the Santa Ana event (and running a biz)...well, you can't help but be nervous about how it is all going to turnout.

after a crazy November preparing Santa Ana and quickly finishing details of the Long Beach show, we finally stood there, in front of our booths looking out to our finished product. i went up to nicole at the 90+ booth event and looking at the almost empty aisles and nervously said, "Nicole, i am scared, no one is here." to which she replied, "dont worry, it's 11, at 11:30 start worrying."
20 minutes later, we were slammed.

needless to say, Patchwork Long Beach was a huge success. the attendance was estimated at 800-900 attendees and i have heard nothing but compliments, cheers, community, and inspiration since (and of course when the next one was going to happen!)...i cannot tell you how thankful i am for that initial conversation with Angie. i am also so thankful to others who made this event possible:
*Angie from the Outfit: who first got the momentum going, took time out to do meetings/site evaluations and introduced me to...
*Robin from We Love Long Beach: her and her brother Scott have been instrumental in getting Patchwork going in record time. thanks for helping with city work, sponsors, and promotion and VOLUNTEERS!
*Courtney from C-Salt Gourmet: who took an entire day from her busy schedule taking me all over LB to evaluate sites for the event.
*Ray Pok & City of Long Beach: and other city staff members who believed in this community event and helped made it happen in record time.
*Ellen Griley and The District Weekly: for writing an awesome cover story on us and Patchwork!!
*Our event Sponsors who took a chance and believed in us: Le Creperie, Toorak Coffee, The District Weekly, Memphis Cafe, Taco Surf, DDR gallery, Anarchy in the Garden, {open} books, The Kids are Alright, Yelp! and always Harveys Seatbelt Bags.
*friends, customers, volunteers, music, solar power (!), and everyone else who made this event possible!
({open} books)
(Hazel from yelp! with Dave from Memphis)
personally, i am glad it is over-but in my heart i cant wait for the next one...i just need a few months of rest!

(on-site screen printing was awesome to have)

(thank you Jeremy for the tunes)

(i always set up last, but still manage to sell a lot)