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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Monarch caterpillars in the garden

Frank has a monarch way station with some milk weed plants, and some happy caterpillars! Nikon D600 and vintage 55mm f3.5 macro


 where's waldo?
 open cocoon




 sequence of 3, notice the leaf disappearing!

newly hatched monarch via Frank and my 200-500

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Seth's Kitchen: Tomatoes, Eggplant, Peppers, Zucchini

Ah, summer veggies. The main reason people garden. I have done posts about red sauce, gazpacho, preserved eggplant I,II, hot sauce. These are all major winners. Ratatouille variations are good, too, garlic, onion, zucchini, eggplant, peppers; saute, then steam. Add some red sauce or fresh tomatoes at the end. Last time I threw in chickpeas, along with good quality fra' mani pork sausage, kind of an eggplant stew, super good. {nb Fra' Mani is a company started by Paul Bertolli who wrote one of the most readable chef-y cookbooks I've seen, Cooking by Hand. His stuff is super high quality and fairly priced at my local IV Food Coop}. Eat ratatouille on brown rice, or polenta, or with good bread. It's tasty warm or cool.

A note on the red sauce. Be nice at the farmer's market. Cultivate relationships. You want to be getting boxes of tomatoes for this. 2nd quality is fine/preferred. The farmer doesn't want food to go to waste, and you don't want to pay 4$ lb for sauce making tomatoes, so everyone is happy. They might not have them on that particular day but could bring them next time. The batch size for me is/was 40 lbs of tomatoes. That cooks down over a long time to ~4 quarts of sauce. That way it doesn't take up alot of freezer space. You can dilute it some when you use it if you want. It's pretty darn good even with Romas but is magical when you can get a deal on heirlooms. Some of this is in the red sauce link..... Fairly standard garlic, onion, porcini, thyme, oregano, fennel. Secret ingredient is thai fish sauce (anchovies). I get dried porcinis from Pistol River Mushrooms online. I've been very happy with them over many orders. Equipment wise you want a big pot for cooking the tomatoes (I have a 5 gallon stainless Viking pot that I got on ebay), a low/wide/thick bottomed pot(s) for reducing (I got a deal on a 28cm/11" Falk saute pan, but any decent quality wide stainless pan with a thick bottom is fine), and an old french #2 Moulin-Legumes food mill (with interchangeable disks, I use the one with small holes), for getting rid of the skins.

If I am eating tomatoes raw, aside from eating them straight up while in the garden I'll cut them in wedges, a little salt, a little good olive oil. Basil never hurts of course.

The key with growing tomatoes is rotation, there's a blight that builds up in the soil and can take your plants out if you don't rotate. Using alot of worm tea can slow the need for rotation. Egg shells in the soil and milk when necessary (calcium) stop blossom end rot which messes up the fruits. Under water your plants, smaller plants, smaller, non-watery, fruit is the goal. So good. Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds has a TON of tomato varieties. Read the reviews and pick interesting ones to try. My favorites this year include King of Siberia, Glacier, Bison, Sara Black. Peppers and eggplant want more water than tomatoes.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Seth's Kitchen: Collards, other cooked greens

Collards are a relatively new crop for me. I love them. Previously I grew some mustards in the winter and they were really tasty, Wild Garden Seed's Ho Mi Z was one I liked. Mustards cook way down though, collards have alot of meat to them. In the garden collards are super productive, and pretty heat resistant, too, they usually go for about 1.5 years. They are a bit less fussy that kale, soil-wise. Unfortunately squirrels love them. C'est la vie.

Saute garlic/onion/chile, then add chopped collards, turn the heat down and cover for a while so it steams, maybe 20 min. Pretty simple, pretty darn good.

Cooking chopped collards with a pot of beans is good.

Fermenting collards as you would cabbage to make sauerkraut was not very successful  for me, though the stems were much tastier than the leaves.  

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Seth's Kitchen: Kale, other raw Brassicas

Kale, could I be any more stereotypical? Though I hear kale is "over", so perhaps now it's for the normal people again! I grow a couple of kinds of kale at the garden, and also have a few broccoli plants. Broccoli is great, you get that one central head like in the stores, but then if you leave it in the ground it produces side shoots all over the place that look like mini-broccoli heads. I've had plants live 2-3 years in my shady plot! You can harvest a pretty decent amount of food every week. Kale-wise I got seeds from Wild Garden Seed which is in my hometown, Philomath, OR. I grow their Red Ursa, White Russian, Lacinato (Dino) rainbow. The genes in their plants are great, I have ~4 year old plants that still produce tasty kale. Also grow a plain dino from Rene's seeds. Kale and broc are super nutritious but require super soil nutrition. Use lots of finished compost, lots of vermi tea (worm poop soaked in water for a day). {A worm bin is the best way to recycle kitchen scraps; worm poop is an excellent plant food, and it doesn't cost much of anything to do}. I've tried growing kale in a container and haven't been happy with production, it does much better in the ground.

Massaged kale salad is a prototypical hippie dish, but it makes alot of sense. Alot of the nutrients in kale are fat soluble, so eating kale with oil means you get all the good stuff. Basically you chop up kale and broccoli (say 2lbs worth), add olive oil (~3-4 T) and salt (~1t) and stir it till all of the leaves are shiny. I make it in a 6Q stainless pot. Lately I've been using preserved lemon instead of salt. {Preserved lemon is a homemade concoction of lemons, salt, lemon juice that you age for about 3 months before use} When I serve it I usually add an avocado, sometimes some canned tuna, and splash over some vinegar, balsamic seems to be best. Keeps fine in the fridge for a week.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Seth's Kitchen: lentils+grains = super easy lunch

At some point about a year ago I made a pact with myself to stop buying bread, to only eat bread if I made it. When I get out a bag of flour I mostly make pizza... so I needed a new lunch. Many cultures around the world eat beans and grains together, it's cheap, it's healthy. There's a Syrian dish that is lentils and bulghur with caramelized onions that's really good. But even though I love to cook and have time, I wanted something simple that I could make up once a week that would be kind of neutral and filling, survival food so to speak. So, lentils and grains. Beans and grains kinda works, too, I'm not sure why but visually I like it when things are roughly the same size for this dish. For beans you would pre soak, then cook them for an hour or so before adding grains for another 40 min.

Here are the water:ingredient ratios for cooking things: small french lentils (2.5:1), regular brown ones (2.5:1), adzuki (4:1); for grains:  steel cut oats (4:1), barley (3:1), amaranth (2:1), millet (3:1), regular oats (2:1), quinoa (1:1), kasha (2:1)  {So for 1c lentils, 1c barley you'd use 5.5 c water}

The Jist: bring water to boil, add 1t turmeric, a couple of slices of fresh ginger, some whole cloves, some salt, chile in some form (fresh, dried whole, dried ground). add lentils/grains, turn down heat and cover with lid slightly askew. 40 min or so. other things you could add here are bay leaves, dried mushrooms, canned or dried tomatoes, cumin, asafoetida. Minus the grains this is basically how you make indian dal.

Note that I'll often use the water pasta was cooked in for the water here. Works a charm. Veggie stock is also good, I ate alot of pineapples and leeks this spring so had lots of pineapple/onion stock which is quite good!

Veggie additions: add any or all of beets, parsnips, carrots, leeks at beginning and they'll cook with the lentils/grains. Add collards or chard 1/2 way through. Add beet greens at end.

This is pretty simple and plain. I usually eat it with some sort of spicy condiment, bottled chipotle hot sauce, for instance. Lemon juice or red wine vinegar help. Pouring some good quality olive oil on it is good, too -- it's basically fat free pre-oil, and fat in a dish is what tells your body you are getting full, so it won't be as satisfying with out some fat. Having a little cheese with it would be another option. If i'm at home i'll cook garlic in olive oil and add some leftover lentils/grains to warm them up. Or you could add sauteed garlic/onions when you cook it originally for better flavor. Lots of options.... this lentils/grains thing is basically a blank canvas.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Seth's Kitchen: Intro

I have a funny life. When I was an undergrad I was a total meathead, surfed a ton, lived in the dorms all 4 years cause I could check the surf from my bed. This meant I ate in the dining halls, food was essentially just fuel. During the summers I began to cook, but not much. Graduated in '96. After college I figured out how to cook by reading a gazillion cookbooks. Also had a rule that I had to eat everything, no waste if it wasn't tasty, this encouraged me to make good food! Around 2001 Jamie Oliver's first cookbook introduced me to organics. 2003 I moved to IV and began shopping at the food co-op and the farmer's market. Around 2009 I started gardening and now a pretty substantial amount of the produce I consume I grow. So ingredient quality is going up, which helps a ton. All told, in the last 19 years of my life ~98% of the food I have eaten was cooked by me or an amigo/amiga, and at this point pretty much everything I eat is organic. Cooking/gardening are massively important to me as it allows me to control ingredient quality/ethics, and do so affordably. Organic, free range, grass fed, ARE annoying elitist terms, but they also mean the item is real, it was grown without chemical/synthetic crap, and the plant/animal lived a good life. And really, in 1920 everything was organic and grass fed, and people cooked, so what is elitist now really should instead be considered normal. It sucks that in the modern age real sustainable food has such a premium price and junk food is super cheap and accessible. It pains me that home cooking is a vanishing art. Cooking/food have been great for me, I'm super shy, but sharing food makes things easier. Sara and I were talking about this and she suggested a Seth's Kitchen series of posts, so here goes, practical/accessible cooking/sustainability/gardening.

topics:
kale, yogurt, red sauce, thai curry, sorbets, dal+grains, water (pasta water, rinse water, grey water), cooked greens, pizza, de-glazing/stainless steel, refried beans, fermented stuff, emeril sauce, chile pickle, comal, brown rice, tarts, list/pics of cookware - pots, spatulas, gadgets that i actually use, roast chicken, stock, vietnamese, bosch (standmixer, stickblender)






Saturday, July 9, 2016

Kumquat Ice Cream

I've pretty much stopped eating sugar, so have cut way back on desserts and jams and stuff like that. But my office mate was telling me about a whiskey kumquat ice cream that she had on her honeymoon in Chile and I wanted to give it a whirl. This was my inspiration, but I thought the cooked kumquat aftertaste was overbearing, so basically doubled the dairy/fruit ratio. A solid addition to the sorbet chronicles.

1lb kumquats, sliced, so you can take out the seeds
1c raw sugar
pinch salt
1c good yogurt
2c cream, whipped
1T or so vanilla extract

cook kumquats and sugar for ~10 min till they are shiny, add salt, cool
stir in yogurt and vanilla
whip cream and fold in
put in a low wide pyrex dish

freeze, stickblend, freeze, etc

the last bite

Southern Carrot Salad (Koosmali)


We had another indian food party. Made a simple dal, and also a carrot salad and a beet salad following the same technique, but subbing chioggia beets for carrots. Muscade carrots, beets, curry leaves, jalapeno, lemon homegrown. Recipe from Julie Sahni, Classic Indian Vegetarian and Grain cooking. The beet version was particularly non-photogenic, but still tasty!

1lb carrots, grated
1T oil
1t brown mustard seeds
2 jalapenos
pinch asafoetida
1/2 T sugar
8 curry leaves
salt
juice 1/2 lemon
1/4 c or so yogurt

heat oil, add mustard seeds, lid if they pop super vigorously
chilies, asafoetida, sugar, curry cook 30 sec
add carrots, cook 2-3 min, take off heat
when cool add the rest.  super good.




Umbrella Fermented Veg post

Sauerruben (sauerkraut using turnips instead of cabbage)
Sauerruben variants involving beets and other root veg good, too
Lactofermented daikon super good
Lactofermented beet and turnips from Chocolate & Zucchini, made this a few times, good
Sauer Collards meh
Kaanji super good
Fermented Chile Pickle good

Friday, June 17, 2016

Scherpa Fire 17 June 2016

from Sands beach







Thursday, June 16, 2016

Scherpa Fire 16 June 2016

Nikon D600, 24-120






Plum Tree at the Garden

Nikon D600 + old AI'd 24mm f2.8





Sunday, May 22, 2016

Sauerruben 2016

I really liked making/eating sauerruben last summer. Ruben is german for turnips. I made a batch May 1 and just put it in the fridge. Made another just now, except it was turnip free, I planted more rutabaga than turnips this year. So, rutabaga, black spanish radish, muscade carrot, chioggia beet, bulls blood (I think) beet; carroway, dill, celery seed.




Monday, May 9, 2016

Chile Colorado

Marty in the Climate Hazards Group got interested in chile colorado for a superbowl party, and got me and Laura hooked. I made a batch around then and filed the recipe away. Had a nice big roast in the freezer waiting for Sara to visit. I used these 2 recipes: bon appetit, a blog. I mostly followed the first one, adding an onion to the sauce. Solid.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Farm to Fable

Quite interesting story "Farm to Fable" about BS farm to table restaurants and farmer's markets in Tampa, Florida. The FM are much more legit in Cali, but restaurants, who knows. Food quality is obviously very important to me. The way i can afford expensive ingredients is to grow and/or cook them myself rather than going out to eat. From the Florida story, it sounds like even if you are spending alot in a restaurant you could still be getting cheap/low quality ingredients. I wish Americans respected the true cost of food more, and people could make an honest living producing and selling good quality food.

NPR overview, Farm to Fable farmer's markets story, Farm to Fable restaurants story
my 'shady' plot at the garden, also have a sunny plot. this one is shaded by a big eucalypt in the morning. foreground is a fuyu persimmon, middle ground a walnut that is super confused by the drought - hasn't leafed out yet. also coastal CA poppies, arugula flowers, etc

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Lacto Fermented Daikon +

Nice. Followed a recipe from Cultures for Health. Gonna grow more daikon next year! I really liked the pink hue the beets gave it. Should have taken a timeseries of pics as the pink grew.

Daikon Pickles
Enough daikon to fill a 1Q mason jar, cut into spears
some beet (used chioggia)
couple cloves garlic (peeled, whole)
couple serrano chilies (stemmed, halved)
2T salt
2c water

stuff tightly into jar, dissolve salt in water, pour over. keep veggies below water line. cover jar with a coffee filter + rubber band. i fermented it about 3 weeks, probably a little too long but alright.




Sunday, April 17, 2016

Garden, 17 April 2016

 oh, to be a black cat when it's 92 in the shade

 coastal CA poppies



Misc Food

 romanesco + mozz
 ok pizzas, red sauce/beet greens, greens/onions/anchovies

 indian potluck w/ team fun
 beet greens, collard greens
 veggie
 machaca de res (dried beef from Baja, it reconstitutes when you cook it with veggies)