Monday, May 31, 2010

saying goodbye to loquats: delilah's loquat butter recipe

so this month we can say goodbye to the mighty loquat. most people don't know what it is or they know it as "hey i have that tree!-i didnt know what it was!" fruit. the season lasts about a month, or as soon a you start noticing it. personally, despite the pain that they are (short season, lasts 2 days after picking, are a b- to prep), i love the flavor. i am hoping that by canning them, the loquat fever will spread.this season, i had many successful loquat adventures. i was able to find several trees all over Orange County that had exceptionally large fruit and i had a few people join me on picking adventures!

(picking up loquats from Calacas)

(massive loquats from a tree in Tustin)

(Don & i getting loquats from a tree @ a church in Santiago-i climbed the top of the bus to get as much as possible!)

well if you are still able to get your hands on some loquats and you want to do something, here is a copy of my loquat butter-i just entered this at the OC fair, so if i win, that means it's good!

  • 4-5 lbs loquats, seeds removed
  • 1/2 c water
  • 2 c sugar
  • 1 1/2 c honey
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 2 tbs cinnamon
first, do the painstaking task of cleaning and de-seeding the loquats (get some friends to do this-promise them a jar,-it's worth it)
you can skin them if you want, but once you do abut 10, you might change your mind!  put the loquats and water in a non-reactive pot on medium heat until they get really soft.
now you can do one of 2 things: 1) blend and put back in the pot or 2) put through a food mill-it depends on whether you want the skins-personally it really doesn't matter.

(i got this great immersion blender for my b-day- LOVE IT!)
put back in the pot to cook and add the rest of the ingredients, and cook until thickened at least 30 min, maybe more-have fun on that part!  watch the loquats, if they burn you will be really pissed that you just spent the last 3-4 hours for nothing.  prepare jars and lids, and fill to 1/4" headspace.  process for 10 min in a boiling water bath.


Saturday, May 29, 2010

CSA cooking: citrus beets with garlic

basket inventory: rosemary, mint, chives, 2 types of lettuce, lemons, oranges, avocados, sprouts, golden beets, chard, strawberries, radish, zucchini, kumquats, grapefruit, awesome looking purple kale.

i don't like beets, never had. i know, i know they are really good for you-lots of iron yada yada. i do however LOVE beet greens. Usually what i do is eat the greens and give the beet part to my friends Jack and August-they love to juice them-double yuck!
i know that we will be getting more beets and i really love how the goldens look. i am trying to find a way to make them tasty....people always tell me that roasted beets are really good so maybe if i add tons of lemon and garlic it might help!

  • beets, peeled if not organic, cut into chunks
  • 1 clove of garlic, thinly sliced per beet
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice (or more)
  • olive oil to coat
  • ¼ tsp sugar (opt)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. in a bowl, mix all ingredients together, toss until everything is well coated. place into a a dish covered with foil. wrap the foil around the beets. bake for 40 minutes or until soft.

Friday, May 28, 2010

the cycle of life: chicken dinner *graphic*

Kelly and Patrick, the bee family with the awesome home recently had us over for chicken...quite literally.
their 5 chickens have been well past egg-laying and they have brought 4 chicks in to replace the time came to honor and remove the old chickens and welcome the new life that will be supplying this wonderful family with eggs for the next few years.
i have to admit, this was kind of hard for me. i havent had the taste of chicken in over 15 years and really do not miss it-still cant get over the massive-scale commercial meat/poultry industry that we have.
the main reason i decided to not eat meat comes directly out of the environmental and human impacts of our current meat industry: it is damaging our planet and the treatment of both the animals and people who process them (and i use the term process b/c there is a lack of respect for animals in this industry) is something that i cannot support.
but i have to respect this little urban farm in Santa Ana has cherished the these chickens have become a part of their family and lives and they are making a whole event for it-honoring their lives in a celebration. if i had the space to do something like this-i certainly would, fresh eggs cannot be beat and these birds have had a great life eating organic greens from their large yard, allowed to run and lay on the grass in the afternoon sun, heck their coop is bigger than my kitchen!
(hanging the birds)

(the next generation of little chicks-they were still shy)

one thing about the day was how long it took-talk about SLOW FOOD! the event started at 2, but we didnt get to sit and eat until after 9PM-kind of puts the whole farm-to-table thing in perspective...having poultry isn't just going to the store and opening a styrofoam container. everybody at the house had a job preparing the meal.

(dipping the chickens to remove feather is a labor-intensive job)

(preparing to gut the chickens)

Kelly and Patrick are lucky in that they have an outdoor cooking area. i would highly recommend this as the de-feathering and gutting is pretty messy (our little Marge was all over the outdoor kitchen hoping for a little morsel to fall)!
pretty much the entire bird was used for some purpose: the undeveloped eggs (next image below-my fave) were cooked and many said that they were really good (my mom told me later that in Mexico her grandmother would put these in a soup and they were really yummy), the innards were cooked down into another dish, the water from cooking, bones and other parts were used to make stock and was frozen, and some of the other parts (skin, fat, extra trimmings) were given to me to make organic food for Marge.

(as much as this is graphic, i really like this shot)

(the gizzard-still with seeds)

(Marge: finally getting comfortable in the garden)

there were several differences that i also noticed. the birds were about 5-6 years old, pretty old from what people were saying-therefore they were going to have to be cooked for long periods of time (i guess this is where Coq au Vin came from-old rooster in wine). one person mentioned that the average age of a commercial bird was 4 months-which baffled me, imagine what had to be put into the animal in order to make it big enough (which is why i stopped eating it)!
another thing i noticed was the how the skin and flesh of the birds were a little more complex and richer that what i would see at the local store, i was used to poultry being so pale. also, there was a large amount of fat and thicker skin on these birds.
i also noticed flavor. this was very similar to tasting a REAL, local tomato for the first time after eating the store crap-it tastes more tomatoey right? same with chicken, you had a richer more pungent flavor-something that i must admit i dont miss.

(boiled chicken for enchiladas)

(beautiful -ready to be Coq au Vin)

(Kelly also having a sample of her chicken after over 15 years without)

(the festive spread-a night of thanks!)

all in all, the day at Kelly and Patrick's was memorable and truly made me appreciate our food even more. despite the fact that i do not have a taste for chicken, i appreciate them even more than before. i most definitely recommend the same.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

affordable art: anek

artist and mother Ana from Croatia has these adorable prints that are perfect for the foodie or coffee/tea drinker in your life.
a graphic designer, her prints have a very simple and clean feel to them-they automatically remind me of one of my favorite pplaces in the world- Fethiye, Turkey.
for over a month in 2001, i traveled in Turkey and on my way to the Cappadocia region of the country, i decided to stop at this small Mediterranean fishing town (i had no desire to visit the party areas located more to the West). what i found there was a small, quaint town with cliff tombs, crystal waters, a great hostel and 2 friends that i talk to almost 10 years later (side-note: we still talk of one day having a place in Fethiye).
Ana's prints in cool blues remind me of my mornings drinking coffee and looking out to the pale white cobblestones, but at the same time, reflect my current little white kitchen where i make my little food creations.

Anek also has a blog-if you want to buy the prints, visit her here.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

cross your fingers-OC Fair time!

well it's official i just entered the 2010 OC Fair! in about a month i will have to drop off my preserves to be judged (did you know that each item you submit costs $5)? you also can only submit one item per "class".

for 2010, i submitted: habanero/fire jelly, basil jelly, curried carrots, apricot BBQ sauce, peach-habanero jam, strawberry-chipotle jam.

i will post my experiences soon!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

little-big garden

(my squash plant sportin' a chub)

yesterday evening, i went out to clean and water my little apartment garden when it hit me: this is about to bust out!
our garden, a mixture of hydroponic boxes from Harvest to Home, whiskey barrels and various pots of all sizes was about to produce a nice little summertime bounty-not too bad for a small space.
Our "apartment homestead" garden is separated into a few sections:
- The upstairs, where our front door is has most of the herbs-i try to keep them closest b/c they are in the smallest containers and dry out fast...i try to reuse my water for these plants, so they get water everyday. i am going to move the agave next and and add some grape or passion fruit vine for a little privacy and shade.

(have to trim the spikes off the agave before moving those suckas)

-downstairs: we have the veggies. next to the root cellar i have a few items (i have to leave room for my neighbor!), like those taters from a while back...they are doing pretty good!

(next to the root cellar: nopales & taters)

-under the stairs: the largest part of the garden. i had 2 tomato plants that i got from h.depot a year ago, one of them died and the other one was just barely hanging on...but now it is 4xs bigger than ever-i can see that the little yellow tomatoes are just about to ripen-YUM!
-next to it are our 2 boxes from Harvest to Home which are GOING OFF! dark kate, oregano, banana and jalapenos, cucumbers, squash and a crazy big parsley (seriously, if you pass by our place, please take some parsley).

(hydroponics and whiskey barrel tomatoes)
-in front of the boxes: i have fava beans, geranium another tomato from Adriana @ anarchy in the garden and more cucumbers.

(fava beans still remind be of Silence of the Lambs...)
-the other side of the stairs: passion fruit, fennel and lemongrass.
-next: the roof. we have access to the roof from the bedroom and i am trying to figure out how we can grow at least from items there and eventually each side of the stairs will have some food vine.

(my passion vine had no fruit!)

i am thinking once everything is done, we can do tours on living in apts/small spaces and having and apartment farm!

Monday, May 3, 2010

a lazy a$$ on blogging, soon to be over!

i have been uber-busy for the past month and realized that i havent blogged in about 1 what better way to celebrate?!?
well, write blog posts!! starting tomorrow::
*LOQUAT JAM RECIPE: some of you have been asking and well i will finally deliver!
*chicken dinner: i broke my 15 year chicken ban at this amazing dinner
*affordable art: 2 local wonderful artists that i can't believe how i am able to know them!
* CSA cooking: pasta salad, update on my kumquat vodka and a toast to 3 years of CSA
*reviews: expo west anyone, i still have to review this...
* secret fork: a backyard on a dime
* new project: Backyard in a Jar:: what the h-e-double-toothpicks is that??....find out!
...and more!