My Quest for Honest....Everything

Is something organic if it is shipped across the country? What about the fuel that is used and how that affects our environment, not to mention the freshness of the food and a myriad of other factors. Over the last few years i have been reading everything i can get my hands on to help me answer these and other questions so sit back, relax and explore where my quest has taken me thus far.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Battle Parsnip

So as a fun way to try new veggies we decided to select at least one vegetable per month that we have
never had or never cooked and prepare it a few different ways to see if we like it. For our first vegetable we chose parsnips. It was random and an excellent choice for our first veggie battle. As it turns out this is an incredibly versatile root. I tried a piece of it raw and it has a sweetness to it that goes oh so well with savory flavorings.

We each decided to do three preparations then have a tasting. And of course we had Iron Chef on in the background for inspiration. It was a fun time.

Pictured to the right starting at the snowflake and going clockwise are 4 of our 6 preparations. Roasted parsnip and kale salad, curried parsnip stew, spicy parsnip and sweet potato soup and a surprising popular one the candied parsnips. Not pictured are the parsnip chips or "parchips" (haha) that had a spicy dip and the herby yogurt parsnips which were nothing short of amazing. The chips we ate before i could get a pic (yea, they were that good) and the herby 'snips were still cooking.

Here are the recipes that I did, I will put the full recipe down and note things that I omitted or added on my own:
Kale Salad with roasted parsnips (and cauliflower which I omitted)

1 cauliflower cut into florets (omitted)
2 parsnips cut on the bias and then cut into small pieces
3 T olive oil divided
1 lemon zest and juice (i just used lemon juice)
2 tsp kosher salt (i used a couple of sprinkles)
1 tsp black pepper (again just a couple of sprinkles)
4 rosemary sprigs
1 pinch red pepper flakes (omitted)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 bunch kale, remove stems and ribs and cut or tear into small pieces

preheat oven to 425F.

1. In a large bowl, add cauliflower, parsnips, 1 1/2 T olive oil, lemon zest (i added lemon juice), 1 tsp salt (or a sprinkle) and 1/2 tsp pepper (or just a sprinkle), toss and combine all.
place veggies onto baking sheet, tuck rosemary sprigs among the vegetables, sprinkle with red pepper flakes and roast until the veggies turn brown around the edges (20-25 minutes). REDUCE oven temp to 325F and continue to roast until tender, about 15 more minutes. Remove baking sheet, discard rosemary sprigs.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 1/2T olive oil, the lemon juice, garlic, remaining salt and pepper. Add half of this mixture to a large bowl along with the kale. Use hands to mix together, the kale should turn a brighter green color. About 2-3 minutes.

3. Add the parsnips and cauliflower to the kale and then serve.

A couple of notes. I made this in a much smaller batch because we were only doing small tastings of each preparation so my parsnips cooked VERY fast, I'm talking about 10 minutes and they were completely done, I also cut them into smaller pieces which probably helped that. So keep an eye on them. I definitely think the recommended amount of salt and pepper is too high, I don't use that much salt in my food prep anyway so I just did a little bit to help bring out the flavors. I put the chopped garlic in to roast with the parsnips along with the rosemary and both burned, i think i will incorporate them into the vinaigrette mixture next time. Aside from that, i thought this was super flavorful, the lemon juice really made the kale pop and the tartness of the lemon next to the sweetness of the parsnips were perfect compliments to each other.

Candied parsnips

2 lb parsnips
1/4 C butter
salt to taste
1/2 C maple syrup

wash parsnips and cook in boiling water until tender. Cool, scrape, halve and remove cores. Melt butter in skillet, add parsnips and sprinkle lightly with salt. Add maple syrup. cook until browned slightly and glazed turning once.

My notes: I used my mandolin and sliced the parsnips very thin prior to boiling, i didn't bother with the cooling/scraping/halving and removing of cores. The rest i did and they turned out very nice. I also drizzled a little maple syrup on top once plated because I am absolutely in love with maple syrup. :)

Sweet potato and parsnip soup- this was not my strongest dish and i will go into why after the recipe.

3 medium sweet potatoes diced
3 large parsnips diced
2 medium carrots
3 stalks celery
3 cloves garlic
1 medium white onion, chopped
1-1.5L vegetable stock
1 T coriander
salt and pepper
EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)

1. In a large saucepan, toss all the vegetables in the Olive Oil until slightly brown and softened.
2. After 5-10 minutes, add the Vegetable Stock and bring to the boil.
3. Add the roughly chopped Garlic cloves and Coriander and season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Turn down the heat slightly and cover the saucepan. Leave vegetables to absorb the flavors and simmer for about 25 minutes.
5. Using a hand blender, blend the vegetables until a thick, smooth soup is formed (leave some chunks of vegetables if you prefer). If the consistency is too thick for your liking, simply add more stock or hot water.
6. Serve hot with a garnish of parsley and/or croutons. Serve some warm brown bread as an accompaniment. Enjoy!

For me this was not my favorite recipe because I didn't follow it very well first of all and secondly it was too sweet with both the sweet potatoes AND parsnips. I tried adding sriracha and old bay to make it somewhat savory but it just wasn't working out for me. I will try to make this one more time and will follow the recipe more closely to see how it turns out.

Regardless we had a really fun time hanging out together and making food (one of our favorite past times). I can't wait to see what our next vegetable is!

'till next time.....
~ e

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Fungus Among Us

My mushroom class was really neat yesterday. I belong to a nice little co-op that puts on these great classes all the time. They are inexpensive and I really enjoy them. Yesterday was no different. Yesterday was MUSHROOM DAY!!! haha.

I only started to eat mushrooms in the past few years, I like them but know virtually nothing about them except for they are very tasty and can be deadly if you do not know hot to properly identify them when foraging. I learned so much yesterday, I barely know where to begin!

Let's start with the basics, the study of mushrooms is called mycology which would make the person who studies them (an expert in the field) a mycologist. A very well known mycologist is Paul Stamets, he has written many books and has a line of mushroom supplements on the market. I am sure there are many well known mycologists, our class was just not long enough to go over all of them!

The part of the mushroom that we see, the part that is above ground is the fruit while the part that is below ground is called the mycelium. I found the mycelium fascinating, it was even mentioned in class that there are studies which indicate that the mycelium is the network in which plants can communicate over long distances (some myceliums grow to be very, very large). How cool is that? it's like the tin can and string theory for nature. I plan to learn more about this mycelium.

Other fun facts about mushrooms are:
  • mushrooms are great filters and good for the environment
  • because they can soak up toxins and clean the earth you must be conscious about where your mushrooms are being cultivated and harvested, they toxins that they soak up will be super concentrated within the mushroom (bad for eating)
  • mushrooms work to stimulate our immune system to strengthen itself so that your own immune system can heal you (how cool is that!)
  • to get the health benefits of medicinal mushrooms they must be cooked, the nutrients are stored in the cell walls, heat will release this so that our bodies can use it
  • mushrooms are higher in protein than most other vegetables
  • certain types of mushrooms can inhibit histamines, lower cholesterol and even help diabetics regulate their glucose
  • there are studies going on which are indicating that certain mushrooms may be able to facilitate in cancer treatments.
  • if mushrooms are dried in the sun they have the ability to soak up additional vitamin D just like our bodies can!
  • mushrooms are beautiful, i saw pictures in some of the reference books that just blew my mind!

I learned about two mushrooms that i have never heard of. The reishi and the turkeytail mushrooms. I am more of a shitake girl myself but i definitely want to try different types now! These are just two out of probably hundreds or thousands that i do not know about, it looks like a whole new world is opening up to me here and I can't wait to explore it!

Below are some books that I learned about yesterday, i wanted to pass it along for anyone with an interest in learning more:

Myco Medicinals by: Paul Stamets
Mycelium Running by: Paul Stamets
Mushrooms for Medicine by: Greg Marley sells mushroom products and even growing kits

As I come up with recipes that incorporate these wonderful fungi's i will add them here for all to enjoy! If you have a great recipe that you want to share please let me know :)


Saturday, November 3, 2012

The lazurus blog - resurected once more

I love this little blog of mine, it's a snapshot of the journey I have been on over the past few years. It reminds me of the varying and different food lifestyles I have experimented with as well as other random non-food stuffs (though it's mostly about food because it's a minor obsession of mine).

2012 has been an interesting year for me. I have enjoyed it very much and feel that i have grown a lot in the different things i have experienced. I still manage property as my day job, no matter how many times I try to or think about walking away from this I have come to realize that I am what I am and I'm damn good at it too, so, I've decided to use my powers for good and continue to manage property while pursuing my other interests on the side. We still live in Burlington, VT and what a roller coaster THAT has been. There's a saying, don't judge a book by it's cover.....well in order to judge this book we would have had to known to pull the dust jacket off and look deeper. This place is not what it seems and I mean that in both good and bad ways, but that's a whole other blog post, haha!

SOOOOOOO....what HAVE I been doing lately, what little adventures have I gone on? Dan and I both discovered that we enjoy hiking very much and want to do more of it.....just not in the summer heat (yuck-o). I have also discovered the coupon lifestyle of Living Social and Groupon. it's super cool because it gives a chance to try new restaurants and other places that we may not have known about otherwise. I made a couple of new friends through work which is fun. I am such an introvert though that sometimes it's just overwhelming. It's a process, I will get used to it, I need to be more social so this will be all good stuff for me.

What am I learning these days? A couple of things actually. I recently signed up for an herbal home study course which is taught by the godmother of herbalism herself, Rosemary Gladstar. I am only on lesson two but I love her light and happy writing style, it feels more like i am reading a letter from a good friend than a school textbook. As I learn more I aim to write about what i have read as well as discuss my class "experiments" which I am very much looking forward to beginning.

I have also been taking little classes through my local food co-op. The series i have been most active with is called "preserving the harvest" it's exactly what it sounds like, preserving food the old fashioned way, through canning or fermenting etc. It's been really fun, i have met some nice people and it's a nice little social outing for me (again, which we know that I NEED!) haha. Today I will be learning about the medicinal properties of mushrooms, YAY!

Speaking of mushrooms, i have to go, i need to get ready for me class.

Tata for now

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

RAW mexican night (day 2)

Dan has gone completely off the reservation which is GREAT!

Last night he made Mexican and it was MMMM MMMM Good!

Now bear with me because his measurement system is more loosey goosey that I am used to so I have done my best to put measurements in but adjust as you see fit.

1/2 C walnuts
1/2 C sunflower seeds
1/4 C flax seeds
1tbsp chia seeds
2 tbsp sesame sees
3/4 C sundried tomatoes (these had been pre-soaked overnight)
Use the tomato juice  to hydrate all the seeds, it adds a ton of flavor.
herbs/spices to taste:
garlic powder
onion powder
cumin (be generous)
2 tbsp olive oil

hand chop all but tomatoes lightly, then mix in tomatoes and add in juice to cover. Add olive oil, let sit and re-fill liquid as necessary. Dan noted that it would be better to add in the seasoning at the end as they were all soaked up by the seeds expanding.

1/2 C finely chopped cashews
1/4 C +/- yogurt (more for creamier yogurt, also opt to use kefir instead)
squirt of lemon

get cashews to a small almost buttery consistency. Add yogurt to desired consistency and squirt lemon @ end.

Opt. add preferred herbs.

Mango Salsa
1 mango
1/2 shallot
fresh cilantro
5 grapes
1 carrot
lime juice

chop/mix/eat- really that's it!

We spread all three over the flax seed crackers and completely enjoyed the meal.

Crunch on my friends

RAW day 1 after dinner

After dinner on day 1 we both went a little nuts and made a ton of extra food to be used for other meals. One item that was very successfully made was flax crackers! YAY! We finally made crackers!!!

Here is the super simple cracker recipe:
1/2 C flax seeds
2 tbsp chia seeds

mix and cover with water for 1.5 hours refilling water as necessary. You are looking for a sort of gooey consistency to occur. season to taste (the seasonings will get sucked up by the flax and chia). Spread out thinly on to one or 2 jellyrolls and dehydrate @ 135 F for 8 +/- hours.

I have no idea what that means but they are yummy.
12 prunes
1/4 C unpasturized soy sauce
1/4 C raw apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp fresh chopped ginger
12 fresh water chestnuts

(opt) throw in a handful of raisins

soak all except chestnuts overnight. stuff prunes with chestnuts and eat.

Goji berry bars

1 C dried coconut
1/2 C almonds, soak, de-skin
1/2 C cashews, soak
1 Lg apple, chopped
1/4 C agave
1/2 C rasins
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 C dried goji berries (soak)
1/2 C pepitas
dash cinnamon

coarsely chop nuts, berries and seeds, set aside.
blend apple, agave, raisins and vanilla until smooth. Combine all together ad spread thickly onto mesh sheet, do not exceed 1/2", probably 1/4" is better for shorter dehydration time. Dehydrate @ 135F for +/- 24 hours (if closer to 1/4" thick can probably do more like 12 hours.
Cut into chunks and enjoy (which we totally did!)

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