Saturday, May 19, 2012

Japanese Turnip Coleslaw and "so what"...

 Do you like the Poet Mary Oliver? I do. She is fierce.

When it's over, I want to say all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it's over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.

I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world

Today I was driving home after dropping M with her dad. I noticed how I don't cry every time I drop her off now. There are so many weird stages to this whole splitting up process, it makes me dizzy. One of my mentors said recently "When anything in this world bothers you, or anything happens in this world that you don’t like, you are to tell yourself these words, "so what." So I have been experimenting with that. Mostly to myself. But after I did this for a while, a funny image emerged from my brain of saying "so what" akin to life being an obstacle course. Each "obstacle" in life is actually a secret present.  Every person, every encounter, every moment becomes more akin to party favor. My own party's party favor. It makes heartbreak oddly amusing. It dissolves any idea that there is a right and wrong to things. And when the inner critic pipes up and starts yelling orders, I can say "so what" to that too. When I find my mind looping the same soundtrack of self-sabotage that tells us we are not good enough, beautiful enough, talented enough, I say "so what." It has made the world a more beautiful place when I find myself not needing to change others or myself.  And, easier to let go of expected outcomes. (says the uber type-A gal writing this). My mind can chat away to itself. My mind can infinitely loop the visuals of expected outcomes. My heart is the one saying "so what." Because I love you so much, that's why. And that is how I am releasing myself from being a visitor of this world, and becoming the bride married to amazement. Thank you Mary Oliver. Thank you obstacle courses.

Salad turnips or Japanese turnips are making their debut. Crunchy, sweet and earthy like a radish, these turnips can be eaten raw. I like to use the green tops on these beauties which are light in flavor. Keeping with the japanese theme, I decided to make a light salad that is versatile and bright with toasted sesame seed oil. Lemon, oil and salt. That is all you need. I did squeeze the turnips after I grated them to remove the excess juice that I did not want to water down the salad. As soon as salt is added to the mix, the carrots and turnips will start to release their juices and that will dilute the flavor of the lemon zest and olive oil. These first early summer vegetables are special gems that look like little white pillows signaling salad days. Great with grilled fish or shrimp tempura. I would eat it on a hot dog too. But not on pizza. Maybe in a burrito though. Or as taco filling. Tossed in a green get the point. See, having a type-A blogger gives you lots of ideas. My expected outcome for this salad is that it would be versatile for many dishes or none at all.....xoxo

Japanese Turnip Coleslaw
makes 2 cups

1 cup grated turnip
1 cup grated carrots
1/2 heaping cup green turnip tops roughly chopped
zest and juice of 1 juicy lemon
pinch salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seed oil

After grating the turnips, squeeze out excess juice, then add to bowl. Toss all the ingredients together...Serve right away.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Orange Balsamic Dressing

Photo of the japanese house kitchen...rustic!

I did not tell you that I moved again. Three weeks ago, little M and I packed up and moved across town. I am in love with my new home. I would have stayed in our other place (on the same block as two of my girlfriends) forever, but my landlord needed to move back into the house.  My new house has a nice big kitchen! The cozy victorian had about two feet of kitchen counter space to work however, which was a drawback for my cooking. The japanese house had a kitchen the size of a postage stamp, so I am used to cooking in small spaces if need be. Because the japanese house was the real deal, inevitably the wildlife crashed the house party due to the thin layer between the domestic and the wild. One pre-kid night, my husband was out of town working. Bed was a futon on tatami mats, close to the floor. I felt something brush by my face in the middle of the night which woke me up. Turning on the lights,  I saw a skunk squeezing underneath the futon in a mad dash realizing what it had inadvertently walked into. In the middle of nowhere on a hot summer night with no air conditioning, I kept the doors wide open. Thankfully the skunk did not spray. But that openness in the wild has some hilarious stories I tell M when we are on long car trips. The day two random rottweilers came walking into the japanese house while I sat alone at the desk still sends shivers up my spine! That story I will share another time...I still feel very grateful for life's modern conveniences. Screens, toilets, trash pickup and washing machines especially.

Blueberry season is almost here! This past weekend celebrating my friend Kate's birthday, we ate a salad with fresh blueberries that was tossed with this dressing. Balsamic and blueberries pair very well together. I had never been a fan of balsamic vinegar before finding Calolea balsamic locally. I found many balsamic vinegars to be watery and tart. Some companies make balsamic with grape juice, vinegar, coloring and sugar. Calolea brand is sweet, thick and luscious. Made only with grapes. I added the zest of an orange along with its juice to keep the vinegary acid to a minimum and then added olive oil. I decided to make this dressing for my friend Wendy's CSK offering this week that I am contributing to. I work out of the commercial kitchen in her cooking school and we have become kindred friend spirits offering local farm food shares in our CSK's! She really shines at vegetarian food. She gifted M and I a quart of her coconut carrot ginger soup last week and today M's teacher told me that she asked to taste it when she walked by M at lunchtime after smelling its spectacular aroma!

Orange Balsamic Dressing:
makes a 1/2 pint

3 Tbls Balsamic Vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
zest of an orange
pinch salt
5 grinds of pepper

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Homemade Vanilla Creme Fraiche and an updated Favorites 2012 List

A dear old friend, who I nicknamed SBR suggest to me that I compile an updated favorites list. Sarah is a friend who I met freshman year in college. We lived in the same dorm together. I remember it being instant friend chemistry. Maybe though, I gave her no choice in the matter. I decided we were to be friends and I did not give up until she caved. She will probably laugh reading that. She has an awesome sense of humor. Very witty and smart. And a great laugh. I was so sad when she transferred colleges and went to MSU. We kept in touch all these years however, and now facebook makes it super easy to keep updated on each others lives. She is my friend who encouraged me to start a blog! This blog!

 We worked our way through our freshman year together doing jello shots at the local frat bar and hoping not to get stuck in the dorm elevator, which I believe we both did. She introduced me to a lot of the early 90's music I came to love; Morrisey, Concrete Blond, Widespread Panic and the BoDeans. I taught her how to use the dorm room washing machines.  She had a red toyota corolla, and in the days of cassette tape mixes, hers ruled supreme.  In the last few years, with an active pulse on things worth following, she has turned me on to Bon Iver and Suri's Burn Book. In case you have not read this pop fluff, it is really funny.  I laugh out loud reading it on occasion. Don't judge too harshly, we all have to have a little entertainment, right?

I thought about what would be on my favorites list for a few days.  It is somewhat intimate to share my favorite things. It could even be possibly more intimate than sharing my innermost struggles and thoughts. Because after this you will know that I drive down highways playing my music loudly, often repeating a song over and over until I cannot even hear a bit of it ever again. My post breakup (like three days after) song was Fleetwood Mac "Gold Dust Woman." Followed shortly by albums by Florence + Machine and Goldfrapp. But don't think I am a music gal by reading all these bits of info; really I am a food gal who like music. But not concerts. I am not fond of large crowds for the most part.  I have learned to tolerate airplane bathrooms though. And my hypochondria is more under control. Or rather I don't worry about my hypochondria as much, because I am less attached to worrying these days.

Anyway, here is a list of things I am currently pondering, as well as a recipe Creme Fraiche. It is so easy, so versatile you will be wowing your dinner guests in no time flat. I make mine with crushed vanilla beans. This goes great for both the savory or sweet route. Whipped vanilla creme fraiche is as outstanding on smoked salmon as it is over lemon curd.  And if you have not tried fermenting in your kitchen, this is an easy way to start your own version of kitchen chemistry.

Creme Fraiche:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 Tbls buttermilk
1/2 tsp. crushed vanilla seeds

A note about your cream. Try to find cream that is not ultra pasteurized. If the cream is ultra pasteurized, it usually says so on the carton. This will help the fermentation process along.
Mix the buttermilk, vanilla and cream together in a mason jar or something of the like. Let it sit on your counter for 24-48 hours or until it is thick like sour cream.  Stir once or twice to mix in the vanilla bean. Put in the fridge after it has thickened.
You can whip this like whipping cream or spoon it on dishes. I love mine over granola, lemon curd, mixed with fresh fruit, jam, whipped for spring pea puree appetizers. Last week I made a hazelnut crust pie with rhubarb, lemon curd and topped it with creme fraiche. It was really tasty.
The vanilla seeds I buy locally. If you cannot buy yours locally, maybe consider buying online. I use this packet of crushed vanilla seeds all the time in my baking. It does not spoil if you keep in the fridge and is an invaluable part of my pantry. And, much more cost effective than using a whole vanilla bean or vanilla extract. Plus for you gluten free folks, there is no fear of gluten like in vanilla extract.

Favorites List Spring 2012:

Pandora Station: 
Miles Davis
I thought my years of working in a jazz club in chicago might have burned out my taste for jazz, but turns out nothing can touch my love for Miles, especially while in the kitchen

iPod Artist in high rotation: (thank you Sarah for introducing me to Keane!)

Guilty Pleasure:
Vans Gluten Free Waffles


I eat these with butter and maple syrup. Emphasis on the butter. Sometimes I get tired of making food, and need someone else to do it for me. And, because I bought my first toaster oven a week ago, I can now toast waffles. Living off grid for so many years meant no electricity extras. Now I have PG&E to thank for my new kitchen gadget! I love splurging on ready made waffles!

New Food I am experimenting with:
Coconut Sugar

I have found sugar allergies on the rise with clients. I think it could be related to the bleaches and chemicals that make sugar white. Refined white sugar comes mostly from beets and corn. "Natural" sugar comes from sugar cane. I like coconut sugar because if you are allergic to sugar, this is usually a safe bet and has no chemical bleaches

My favorite new cookbook:
The Preservation Kitchen: by Paul Virant. I am in love with Aigre-Doux! 


This sour/sweet preserved preparation is new to my repertoire. I included it in my first CSK offering and it got good reviews. It is a mixture of honey, champagne vinegar and white wine made into a syrup and then processed with fruit or vegetables. I have been using meyer lemons because they are in season and local right now.

Favorite New Dish I am loving:
Raw Kale Caesar by Tartine
Eating a caesar salad with raw kale rocks. It just does.  I would come to your house and make this for you if I could, and turn you into a believer. It is about a thousand times better for you than romaine!


Supplement I am focusing on these days:
Turmeric and alpha lipoic acid in my antioxidant complex. Turmeric and its active components curcumin is a powerful anti-inflammatory, and I am really noticing the emerging science behind inflammation and chronic disease. Alpha lipoic acid helps raise glutathione in the body which is the "master antioxidant". It also helps regulate blood sugars, is fat and water soluble and great for eye health, brain function and detoxification.

Favorite Face Cream:
Weleda Cold Cream Lotion

Weleda Cold Cream
  This dense cream is great for sensitive, dry skin. My danish skin is so sensitive and this cream really adds good layer of moisture. It has no petro-chemicals or parabens!

Food I am buying in bulk at the co-op


Organic Valley Pasture butter. Because cows that eat grass instead of grains make butter that is better for you. More CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) and Omega 3's than standard butter.

My favorite drink these days:
Dave's Enlightened Synergy Raspberry Chia Kombucha

 I like this drink for a couple of reasons. First it is filling, so I use it as a meal replacement or a tie-over to my next meal if I am hungry. Also there are 4grams of fiber per serving. And lastly, chia seeds are high in omega 3 fatty acids. Raspberry is my favorite flavor. I am drinking one right now as I type this...

The book every woman in the US should read according to my nutrition mind:

The Autoimmune Epidemic by Donna Nakazawa.
According to this book 1 in 9 women be diagnosed with an autoimmune disease in their life. The underlying reasons for the extraordinary jump in the last decade, is a toxic brew of external factors that have simply pushed the capacity of our immune systems to the brink collapse. Chronic inflammation from overly processed foods, vitamin deficiencies, xenoestrogens from the constant barrage of chemical exposures in plastics containing petrochemicals, bpa's, flame retardants, voc's..the list goes on and on. If there has ever been a reason to green your life or green your diet and home, this book will convince you. It brought me to tears quite a few times. There are poignant personal stories as well; women's journeys through medical mazes to get a diagnosis (sometimes it took 10 doctors for people get an answer) and the massive evidence that modern medicine for the most part, is not equipped with trained doctors, medicines or diagnostics to help. Extremely eye opening.

Favorite Mindless Blog:
Unhappy Hipsters...not because it is the most brilliant writing, but because every picture on the site is a house I would want to live in, and sometimes it makes me laugh.

Favorite book that has helped my soul this year:
Ok, a tie! So both books:

Elizabeth Lesser's book Broken Open. Oh how I loved this book. She is very human in this book, writing about how the worst disasters in our lives can be the very biggest gifts with great big bows on top.

Pema Chodron's book: When Things Fall Apart. Great for any kind of sadness. I would just grab it off the shelf and read a paragraph when I felt sad. It is lovingly used now, that the pages are dog-eared.

Ok that is it. Don't forget to pass along to me all your lists because you all have big things to share with world and I want to know all about it.


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