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Pita Bread

Well since I am on my own here with 3 kids I must be realistic about my blogging… I am not techy savvy enough to access the photos Joanna sent me, but wanted to pass on the pita recipe for you all from Bruno the pita master.

We are moving in 2-3 weeks and my grasp of everything seems like sand slipping through my fingers… Just trying to let go best I can. The foodie night was an AMAZING island of reprieve for me! Thanks everyone who came to share Dawn’s love of food and fresh flour! Angela, Anita, Leanne, Joanna, Danielle – you are all inspiring to me!!

For pita making the tips were to put water in the bottom of the oven, in a tray. Roll as little as possible!! Don’t make any folds or it tends not to “poof”. These were AMAZING!

Whole wheat/spelt dough recipe for pizza/pita

1-cup warm water

1-tablespoon honey

2 &¼-teaspoon yeast

2½–‐cups whole wheat or spelt flour

¾–teaspoon salt

1-tablespoon oil (we use grapeseed oil, can also use olive oil)

Mix warm water and honey until the honey is completely dissolved.

Add the yeast to the water/honey mixture and let proof for 10

minutes until the yeast starts foaming.

While yeast is proofing, mix 2 cups of the flour with the salt.

Combine the flour mix, warm water mix and the oil in a mixing bowl.

If using a stand mixer, beat the mix on medium speed using the

standard paddle for about 3 minutes – you can tell the mix is ready

when it creates long strings in the bowl. It should be slightly soupy.

Switch to a dough hook and on slow speed, add the rest of the flour

until the dough comes off the side of the bowl. Once that happens, let

the machine knead for another 4 minutes.

Put the dough in an oiled bowl, cover and let rise for at least an hour

in a warm, draft-free area. I have let it rise for up to 12 hours with

no problems.

Punch down and prepare pizza or pita as follows:

For pizza – just roll out the dough – will make 2 ten-inch pizzas with

a fairly thin crust. Bake in a hot oven (at least 425 Fahrenheit),

preferably on a stone. If preparing dough without toppings, poke the

dough generously with a fork before baking to prevent air pockets.

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Time of cooking – bare crust will take about 3 minutes, with

toppings, time will depend on the amount and types – just keep

an eye on it.

For pita – pinch out a portion about the size of a golf ball. Roll it into

a smooth ball and put it on a floured surface. Roll it down fairly thin

to make a circle 4 to 5 inches in diameter (10 to 12 cm). Bake on a

stone (for pita bread, it’s pretty much the only way to do it) for about

3 minutes.

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Keep an eye it for the first few times – they cook fairly quickly

so you will need to adapt the cooking time to your oven.

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The disk should rise into a football shape. Be careful taking the

bread out of the oven, the bread is fragile and poking a hole in

it will release very hot steam.

Let cool on a rack to avoid humidity build up.

Can be stored in freezer if you make a large batch…or eat it up with a

group of ‘foodie friends’

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Kombucha Tea

My understanding is the first step in making your own Kombucha tea (another fermented food, good for your belly!) is to get a “mother” scoby. What is a scoby? I wondered the same thing… it is a “symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast”. Simple! I love acronyms.

Here is an image for you…

Now, what is the process? Again, there is a great detailed description in Sally Fallen’s book (p. 596). The Coles Notes, from our friend Laurie are as follows:

– mix 1 cup sugar in 3 quarts boiling water (until it dissolves).

– Add 4 teabags, these must be ORGANIC black or jasmine tea or green tea. Let steep 5 min.

– take bags out. let COOL to room temperature.

– add your “mother” scoby plus 1/2c liquid. Note: your jar must be at least as big or BIGGER than the scoby you get from a friend…

– let sit for 10 days to 2 weeks at room temperature

What will happen??

– The “scoby” will EAT the caffeine and sugar and convert it… the end result is a tea that has neither caffeine nor sugar. WOW!

– You will get a “baby” scoby ABOVE the mother scoby… you can give this baby to a friend, or make another jar!

When we tasted this tea, our sample was still a bit sweet… that is a sign you can leave the tea for a few more days… I suppose, again, it is all a matter of TASTE.

I haven’t managed to get my hands on a “scoby” yet… but I’d love to try this. Another beverage to add to my repetoire!

p.s. I now have my husband converted to plain kefir drinks, straight up! he was out of town a couple of days and said he missed them!

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Kefir or Keffir

I must admit I am loving the addition of fresh kefir to my day. I tend to have a cup full around lunchtime, and since I don’t usually drink anything but water and tea (and coffee…), it is a nice refreshing change. My husband likes it with a heavy spoonful of jam, and so far my middle child will drink it with jam as well! I just find it sooooo easy! And I am proud I now have enough babies to share my crop with a friend! You need 1-2 Tbsp per 2c milk. They tend to proliferate! Here is what they look like up close:

Here is my routine:

– Shake up the kefir baby jar in my cupboard with lid tight every day (usually when I pour my cupful from the fridge)

– Leave lid loose in a dark cupboard: my kefir babies plus 2c milk

– Every 36-48 hours, drain off keffir, rinse kefir babies in filtered water, and place babies in a new jar with another 2c of fresh milk. Here is Dawn straining the kefir during our evening:

– Place keffir (that I drained off, now ready to consume) in fridge. YUMM! Apparently this drink’s shelf life is 2-3 days at room temperature, so I would guess longer in the fridge! It should be creamy and drinkable, if it turns into cheese and whey you have definately let it sit too long

From our evening together, again it was “a matter of taste”. The advice was that the kefir babies need to EAT milk, that is their food. It was also recommended to strain the babies in a non-metallic strainer (though neither Dawn or I do this and they seem to live on…). If you don’t want to be actively making the kefir, you can store the kefir babies:

– in freezer

– in filtered water in fridge for up to 2 weeks

Try drinking the kefir with pineapple & honey! Another winning combination. Or you can try it as a buttermilk substitute in recipes, as an addition to a bowl of soup, or apparently it can also be used to make sourdough bread!

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Preserving

Last Tuesday we met at Edie’s – a small, intimate group – we started by touring Edie’s front yard which is grass, infused with food! She has 3 hazelnut trees, and we managed to find a few growing (just planted last year, when she harvested 25 nuts!), blackberries, basil, blueberries, corn, tomatoes… we all decided Edie and Howard have mastered the art of “quick and dirty” but effective gardening!! Just a few of the tips we learned are:

1. You need to grow 2-3 varieties of blueberries for cross pollination. Blueberries also love water, so they pack pine needles around the roots so they don’t dry out!

2. PVC tubing makes lovely “hoops” (wish I brought my camera to show you!) that can be covered in plastic and moved around to create mini-green houses around your yard. This is how Edie starts all her seeds in the Spring!

3. Edie “pinches back” her basil about SIX times per season!! She gets an amazing yield this way, for her pesto! If not pinched back, basil will go to seed. Edie also keeps her basil covered by her PVC hoop “greenhouse” for all of June (and again as soon as it cools off – Sept?)

4. Using urine-soaked straw over your compost significantly accelerates it’s composting!! (likes the nitrogen). Also reduces your water consumption so that you can use valuable water to grow your food instead!

5. “Jubilee” corn and other old varieties haven’t been modified… Edie just planted corn in mid-July with some peas and beans; if we get some more heat she should be able to harvest the cobs that are growing. We also discussed that most “GMO” corn is genetically bred/cross bred for increased sweetness and to delay onset of starchiness (when it gets over ripe) not “modified” per say… anyone else know about this?

6. You can make an amazing water collection system with a series of garbage cans connected by PVC tubing and placed on a decline so the water fills the highest bucket first, overflowing into the 2nd, and so on. Edie still had 3 cans-full of water, and uses a watering can to hand water everything (Howard prefers to sprinkler!).

7. To prevent mosquitoes from laying larvae in the rain water buckets, place a thin layer of vegetable oil… they disappear!

8. Tomatoes don’t like too much water… water about 2x/week, if over-watered they start to split.

9. Use wire to keep the quail off until the seedlings are hand-height or so… they tend to leave the larger plants alone! Who knew?

10. When making pesto, you can add in any greens (kale, chard, spinach) to use them up!

11. Get at those dandelions this time of year! If you take them out now (by hand) you won’t have many come Spring!

Edie grew up on a farm, and then had a farm on Saltspring for many years – attending market with organic berries, garlic, corn… She claims “I’m a peasant… I’m just happiest with my hands in the dirt”. And her grocery bill is significantly reduced from all the growing she does!! She tries a new crop every year – last year was chickpeas… amazing! They grow 1 pea/pod and it took 2 of them 2 hours to pick a small jarful! This year was edamame beans. She serial plants everything, and does a TON of preserving – she has jars & jars of dehydrated kale chips that stay crispy all winter. WOW! Just covered with a little oil, lime, chili, and nutritional yeast mixed up like a salad dressing.

Edie brought out a “sample” from her cellar – sour cherries in a light syrup, peaches canned with honey (1/2c to 4 c water), blackcurrant jam, blackberry jam (Pomona’s pectin for all jams), brandied cherries! sour cherry jam, strawberry rhubarb jam, pear ginger, then the savory corn relish, hot salsa, dill pickles, pickled beets, zuchinni relish, mustard beans… YUMM! She plans to share some recipes with all of us!

Then for the fun part – eating! Dawn shared her most treasured huckleberry jam (she picked the berries at Silver Star just recently for the first time in 30 years!!!), Kristy brought goat cheese with her refridgerator pickles (see RECIPES section), and I brought some apricot jam from last year. Edie shared some dehydrated tomatoes and zuchinni… and we devoured most of the crackers as they came out of the oven!! Apparently huckleberries are quite rare now, as many naturally occurring bushes are becoming “mummified” (white appearance). Look for a low bush (knee high) with a usually-reddish leaf and a blue to blue-black or purple-red colored berry!

Tonight’s final tip: The THRIFT store at Schubert Center: while not open all the time (call them to inquire), this apparently is home to some amazing kitchenware, wool, and other vintage textiles, etc.

As for the “best food for your body” – Dawn says huckleberries (because you have to climb a mountain to get them!), Kristy says probiotics (while purchasing Bio-K… this is expensive, and we will look at fermented food options at our next meeting!), and Edie says “everything in moderation”!

I was so honored to spend an evening in such good company. As I’m going through a “non-foodie” phase in my own life, being in your company re-inspired me to finally process that basil in my fridge (some browning!) into pesto, give that cracker recipe another try (my kids devoured the entire plate!), and cook up some yummy blueberry and blue-berry peach sauce to add variety to our usual oatmeal & pancakes this week. Thank you, thank you, to my amazing foodie club!!

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Refreshing

Last Tuesday our group met at Liz’s place… a cool, but pleasant evening. This was our first meeting as a group, and I was amazed by the dynamic we created. Open sharing, learning, passion, and snacking!

The demo of the evening was Dawn’s… “Pumpkin” cashew Tart – otherwise known as carrot pudding! We were all surprised how deliciously rich this treat was. Today I found carrot juice at Simply Delicious in a bottle (see picture) that is good until mid-July so this is probably easier than getting it fresh from Nature’s Fare if you don’t have a juicer. I also got my coconut milk – the can Dawn suggested as having lots of cream on top that can be a substitute for the coconut flesh in the original recipe.

We chose Edie’s crackers as the demo for September. Since she shared her recipe with me, I couldn’t resist going out to purchase little bags of several different flours today. Millet, kamut, barley, rye… and I decided to try coconut flour too! Now I have my 12 cup mixture in my freezer to work from and churn out some delicious crackers; though I’m sure not as neat and tidy looking as Edie’s. She has perfected the cracker art for sure!

Kristy took home a huge stock pot – the take away gift of the evening! – from Liz! And we got to hear from Kristy about Vernon Permaculture (link on the right side bar somewhere…), learn about microplaners (for grating cheese, mincing garlic, etc.), the OXO salad spinner which a child can operate (thanks Karyn!), and meet Leanne’s prized teapot (from Ana’s “Functional Pottery“). The REBAR cookbook got excellent reviews, particularly the “chocolate cake”. And soon I will use Anita’s tip of pitting cherries using a (beer) bottle and the metal end of a pencil (with eraser removed). Did you know it helps to put salt on garlic before chopping it? I still haven’t tried this out… but I will keep my eye out for Edie’s old fashioned meat tenderizer which is the perfect tool for crackers and pastry.

WOW, so many hands-on tips to take home and use right away! Amazing. And I feel newly inspired to do more in my kitchen… my interest was definately waning with summer’s bounty slow to arrive and my 3 little ones at my feet!

Today I managed to “link” to Kristy’s local permaculture group… my next project is to create a “recipes” section so we know where to go when we want to make the Glory Bowl Dressing, Carrot Pudding, and Edie’s crackers! How come no one requested the “salsa with a kick” recipe?!? My husband ate the remaining in 2 sittings… impressive.

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Reflections on April…

I’ve always loved food. I have absolutely no credentials, just pure enjoyment of the creating and consumption of tasty morsels. I love being around other people who are excited by and about food! I love simple food such as lightly steamed cauliflower. I believe food is very personal and we must be free to make different choices about food and express our individuality. Food is so much fun!

I also believe life is all about relationships. I want to listen. Learn. Love. I know that we can “google” everything in this information age… yet I want to be in the presence of others. I needed a good excuse to get together with some amazing women I had acquaintance with…

The cross roads of my passion in food and belief in relationships led me to invite a group of women over to my place for an April evening hour. We planned, over waffles & delicious toppings, an upcoming year of food and garden sharing, learning, and yearning! It was a small paradise.

Fortunately, we are all interested in meeting again and we have a gracious hostess! We will meet again on June 19th 7:00-8:30pm to:

  1. Learn how to make hand-rolled spelt flour tortillas (thank you REBAR), and garlic scape pesto.
  2. Delve into the concept of a “$784 Kitchen Makeover” (Globe and Mail April 4, 2012). Each person will bring a basic kitchen tool that makes cooking pleasurable to them. What cooking tool does every kitchen need? Not the bare basics like casserole dishes, measuring cups or colanders… something that you treasure and would take to a desert island with you!
  3. Explore the kitchen and garden of a superb “foodie”

I was amazed at the connections within our group… women who had worked out at the same gym, gone to the same highschool, had mutual friends. I was also impressed by the mix of novice and experienced gardeners and “foodies”. I have been grateful for the encouraging words that followed our initial meeting… it seems we all have (a little) space in our lives for the doing, being, and becoming of food in our lives.

We will meet 4 times this year, and then wind up again at my place in April 2013. I look forward to what our year will bring!