Category: food & drink

Keep On Cooking

I had to repost this (via DJ Drue):

Julia Child remixed by melodysheep and PBSdigitalstudio

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the weekend without a computer

So Friday morning my computer froze up and when I rebooted, it fell into a blue screen of death cycle. I tried the system repair tools, my recovery DVD, even an Ubuntu live DVD. Nothing would get all the way through the boot process. So I took it into a repair shop recommended by a friend to see if something was salvageable (since I’ve neglected updating my backup since the move). The repair guy ran a diagnostic on the hard drive and is pretty sure the data is ok, so that’s good news.  The bad news was that it didn’t appear to have a quick fix solution, so I would have to check it in for service which has 3 – 4 business day turnaround right now.

So with a weekend to kill and no computer I devoted my time to some projects in the kitchen.

After my normal Saturday morning trip to the Hollywood Farmers Market, I finally got around to making a batch of Kombucha with the kit I bought when I took a class on it a few months ago.


I was inspired to make a lemon cake in honor of my sad computer (and the novel The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake) while grocery shopping. It had also been a friends birthday on Friday, so I was also making it for her birthday as well.


The other main thing I did Saturday was get some photos taken of me by a friend (for better LinkedIn/FB profile pics).  Alicia and I both went and saw The Bourne Legacy at the same time (though her in LA and me in Portland).  It was enjoyable…a Bourne movie, nothing special, but a good time.

The weekend projects weren’t over though.  After getting home from church, I made a batch of salsa:


Then it was the big project…canning the 5 lbs of green beans I had bought at the farmers market Saturday.  I made them into Pickled Dilled Beans:


(the red thing in the jar is a slice of red bell pepper)

All in all, I feel like I had a pretty productive weekend.  🙂

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A quick loaf

Well it did take parts of two days to make…so maybe not that quick.


More to come soon…

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Mmm…Coffee (aka…So I Did This)

A few months ago, I finally took the lead of my friend Elizabeth and began to dabble in the practice of home coffee roasting.  I ordered a started kit from Sweet Marias and one of the leading books on home coffee roasting from Amazon.  After reading the book, I dove in and made a few batches of coffee.  They were all drinkable but at the same time, I wasn’t completely sure what I was doing.  Its one thing to read about how to do something, and another to actually be doing it.  When I saw that the Institute for Domestic Technology was going to offer a class in Home Coffee Roasting led by one of the roasters from LAMill Coffee, I was intrigued.

The Institute for Domestic Technology grew out of the now defunct (on temporary hiatus) Altadena Urban Farmer’s Market (a rogue farmer’s market) and offers classes mainly at the historic Zane Grey estate in Altadena.  They offer classes in cheese making, bread making, food preservation and other domestic arts that are less practiced these days.

The class began with a tasting of a tea (known as cáscara) in Spanish) made from the dried fruit of the coffee cherry.  It’s rarely exported outside of the coffee producing countries and most notably drank in Bolivia.

Coffee Fruit

Underneath the fruit, the bean still has a hull coating that needs to be removed before roasting:

Once the hull is removed, you can roast the green beans.  I’ll let that story be told in this LA Times Piece:

The next DIY frontier: roasting coffee beans at home by Betty Hallock

In the end…I ended up with these:

Fresh Roasted Coffee Beans

Freshly Roasted Costa Rican Blend (Blend courtesy of LAMill Coffee)

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Some things I’ve been up to in October

Sweet Pickled PumpkinSweet Pickled Pumpkin

Pepper MashPepper Mash (future Hot Sauce)

Fresh Roasted Coffee BeansFreshly Home Roasted Coffee Beans
(more to come on this soon)

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Mushroom Farmin’

Courtesy of Green LA Girl and Back to the Roots, I received one of Back to the Roots Pearl Oyster Mushroom growing kits.  Basically its a box with a bag inside composed of recycled coffee grounds and mushroom spores.

Mushroom Farm Day 1

Day 1

The instructions for the kit were pretty easy.  You can see in the picture above, where I cut a cross in the bag.  After that, I soaked the whole bag in water for 24 hours to make sure everything was nice and moist.  Returning the bag to the box all I had to do was mist under the flaps of the bag twice a day and wait for them to grow.

mushrooms sprout (day 9)

Mushrooms Sprout! (Day 9)

Unfortunately, I wasn’t there for when they sprouted.  I was off on my trip to the Bay Area and Alicia was watering my mushrooms at the time.  She told me she had misted them the previous evening and when she woke up the next morning they had sprouted!  After that they continued to grow fairly quickly.  By the time I got home the next day they were almost ready to harvest.

Mushrooms Day 10

Day 10

I ended up having to harvest this first batch a little earlier than I would have liked, but luckily I still have the other side of the bag to grow.  Tonight is Day 1 for the second batch in fact.  According to the Back to the Roots website, I may even be able to get additional batches out of the same bag (only the first two are expected).  Even so, the mushrooms were pretty decent sized when I harvested them, and quite tasty in the Japanese style curry I used them in.

Day 11

Day 11 (right before harvesting)


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Growing your own food may be the only way…

To insure you know where exactly your food comes from.  Following up the high profile raid in  2010 of raw food buying club Rawsome in Venice, earlier this month, both Rawsome and this time Healthy Family Farms in Santa Paula were again raided and its owners/operators arrested.  At first I was a little disgusted with what I thought was an overreaction by government agencies.  To shop at Rawsome, you have to become a member and acknowledge the risks of food that may not meet all government standards for processing (ie its raw and hasn’t been pasteurized or sprayed with chemicals, etc).  You can view the Rawsome Club agreement here.  Healthy Family Farms (HFF) is at many local farmer’s markets, including the Hollywood Farmer’s Market (where Alicia and I shop).  They have a CSA that provides for a discount on all items, as well as makes available additional items for pre-order for pick up at the market of your choice.  To join the CSA, you also have to sign an agreement similar to the Rawsome agreement, you can view it here.  After visiting the farm during one of their open houses, I decided to join the HFF CSA.

Now that the dust (and shock) of the initial raid/arrests have begun to settle, things have started to leak out that all may not be what it appears to be in regards to Rawsome & HFF.  As Erik at Root Simple writes, we may be getting “A Raw Deal.”  There seems to be evidence emerging that indicates that HFF is purchasing conventionally raised eggs and meat and then repackaging them for sale as coming from the farm in Santa Paula.  When I first heard this rumor, I dismissed it as a misunderstanding, as HFF had mentioned “rescuing” animals from other farms either going out of business or getting in trouble for mistreating animals.  But now I’m not so sure. (More info about HFF and its owner can be found here.)

These two examples aren’t the only local examples of this breach of trust.  In Sept 2010, the local NBC affiliate did an investigative report on farmer’s market vendors not being completely honest on where the goods they sold came from (as well claims of being pesticide-free).

View more videos at:

As Erik at Root Simple says:

This type of fraud, repackaging cheap wholesale food products and passing them off as organic/raw etc. is, I believe, widespread.

That list of reasons to grow your own food, if you can, keeps getting longer . . .

I’m not sure how all this will play out in the end, this is still just one side of the story, and we do live in a innocent until proven guilty world in the US.  I definitely will be thinking twice this Sunday when I get eggs at the market this week.  Will I look at some of the other vendors as better options?  Is HFF’s note in this weeks email of more limited egg availability and reduction of farmer’s market locations an indication that some of these allegations are true?  Right now, we really only have rumors and pieces of evidence that have not been judged.

We also don’t have HFF’s side of the story. Only the email copied below, asking for patience while the case works its way through the system and to take any potential motive in mind for anything negative you may hear:

Continue reading

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Tartine Bread


San Francisco’s Tartine Bakery’s famous breads come out of the oven six days a week at 5pm.  It is normally all gone by 6pm.

In Tartine Bread, Chad Robertson teaches you how to make this wonderful bread at home. Tartine’s bread differs from the standard San Francisco sourdough by using a young levain (wild starter).  By using the starter when it is still young in the cycle, it doesn’t have as much of the distinct sour taste of the traditional San Francisco sourdough breads.In making this bread, I created a wild starter that I fed everyday for a little over a week.  This was to get the starter in a consistent life cycle so when it came time for baking, you’d be able to use the levain at the right part of its life cycle.

The other great thing in this book is that Chad found an ingenious solution to the problem most home bakers face when baking hearth style breads.  Most home ovens are not sealed to the extent commercial baking ovens are.  To create a sealed environment, he uses a cast iron combo cooker (Like this one from Lodge).  This creates a small sealed environment, where the moisture in the dough creates the steam necessary for a good oven spring.  The resulting bread has wonderful crumb with large gas pockets.  Unfortunately the bread was so tasty, I forgot to take a picture of what it looked like on the inside (or maybe not so unfortunately since it was so good).

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White Bread

white1.JPGA basic White Sandwich loaf.  This is essentially the same loaf my grandfather makes in his bread machine, but instead made by hand.

white2.JPGThe formula made enough for two loaves…but not the 1.5lb pans.  I ended up transferring one of these to a smaller bread pan, so it actually crested over the lip of the pan.  While my loaves weren’t quite as tall as I’d hope, they still turned out pretty much as expected.  Good sandwich bread (and also good for toast)white3.JPG

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Tuscan Bread

tuscan1.JPGTuscan Bread is made without salt and as a result has a more plain flavor than a French Bread for example. In Tuscany, this is made up for with the generous use of flavorful sauces to dip the bread in.

tuscan2.JPGThe bread definitely didn’t have the same full flavor of the traditional french loaf.  It did however make a good dipping bread.


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