Jun 2013

FERMENTED CABBAGE

FERMENTED CABBAGE

My internet hell is finally over. We are connected. The other day my daughter exclaimed she can’t live without it! Now, she doesn’t have to. I did think this was a good opportunity for the kids to see what it was like in the “olden days” :)

As you may know from my last post I have recently had a course of rather strong antibiotics for a tooth infection. I have realised how much this affected my recent digestion resulting in gurgling, bloating and just not feeling right. I am no doubt the medication had a lot to do with that. Of course I have been taking some good quality probiotics (and no, the yoghurt drinks are not good enough! - I get asked that a lot).

To speed up my recovery and repopulate my lost friends (I am truly sorry to expose you to antibiotics my friends, but the pain was unbearable) I have started home fermenting. Genetically, we are 99% microbes. Looking after our friends may just be the most important thing we can do to maintain our health. And scientists agree. Lots of research is showing links between our microflora (or lack of) and poor health.

Apart from being raw, full of vitamins, minerals and fibre, fermented vegetables contain live bacteria. This is just what your digestions needs. And it is not a new idea either. Fermented vegetables have always been a staple in many cultures, you can’t imagine a Korean meal without some kimchi, Japanese table will always have some fermented vegetables or indeed the amazing miso whilst tempeh is a staple in Indonesia. I grew up eating sauerkraut as did anyone from Germany to Latvia.

Fermented vegetables, especially raw sauerkraut, are starting to appear in health food shops. Anywhere from £8-10 for a 750g jar this is not a cheap item. Fermenting your own however is cheap as chips. OK I haven’t gone as far as making sauerkraut yet, but my fermented cabbage is delicious and I have no doubt it is abundant with some friendly bacteria. I feel they are smiling at me from the jar!

One last note: If you are taking a portion with you for a lunch, make sure your container is tightly sealed. I have learnt the hard way. My fermented cabbage juice spilt all over my lunch I brought with me to college. Not only everything smelled of fermented cabbage juice, but the rest of my lunch was swimming in it. I am sure that apricots marinated in cabbage juice will not become the next food trend!

fermented-cabbaga-kilner

FERMENTED CABBAGE WITH CARROTS

ingredients
1 hispi cabbage (also called sweetheart), small to medium size
1 medium carrot
1/2 tsp caraway seed (optional)
salt (see below)

1 litre preserving jar (Kilner)

  1. First you need to sterilise the jar. I boil some water in a large sauce pan that will fit my jar. Put the jar in together with the lid and let quickly bubble over. Just a few seconds if fine. I leave the jar in the water until I need it.
  2. Next remove the outer cabbage leaves. Generally couple will do, keep the cleaner one, wash and set aside.
  3. Using a knife thinly slice the cabbage, you don’t need German precision, it’s just cabbage :) Put into a colander and wash thoroughly.
  4. Coarsely grate the carrot. Mix together with the cabbage.
  5. Carefully remove the jar and lid from the water.
  6. Put all the cabbage/carrot mix into the Kilner jar. Make sure you pack it in. I use the pushing stick from my juicer to do the job. If using you can sprinkle the caraway seeds between layers. Don’t overfill the jar, I leave about 1 and 1/2inches cabbage free. Now top the cabbage with the reserved whole cabbage leaf, this will ensure the cabbage stays submerged.
  7. Next, make the salt solution. I find that 2 cups of filtered water with 3/4-1tbs of salt do the job for 1 jar. Stir well to dissolve. Pour the salt water into the jar, leaving about 1inch below the top of the jar. The juices will rise during fermentation. Screw the lid on but not too tightly.
  8. Put the jar somewhere warm, I use my airing cupboard (the builder who came to fix my airing cupboard door was rather surprised to find a jar there...). Any warm space will do, you could try to balance it on top of a radiator when in use. I have discounted this idea due to free roaming kids and dogs....
  9. Check the cabbage everyday, open the lid, smell it, inspect the juice. The juice will go cloudy, you will be able to smell the fermentation (not too different from cider or sourdough smell). On the third day have a taste of the juices, it should be fizzy, pleasantly sour (3-4 days are usually how I like it). Transfer into cold store, fridge in my case. You can eat it straight away or let the flavours develop further in the fridge.
  10. I generally have a small (Chinese tea bowl) with my lunch. I especially love drinking the juice!

Day 4
fermented-cabbge-detail

Day 14
fermented-cabbage-2weeks
0 Comments

BAKED SWEET POTATO FALAFELS

BAKED SWEET POTATO FALAFELS

The other day my son told me how a boy from his class bought a pack of biscuits for breakfast and brought it to school. My son was pretty pleased because his friend share the biscuits (and trans fats!) with his school mates.

My friend and I were talking about this over a nice lunch. We were trying to get our heads around how a 10 year old can be put in charge of buying his breakfast. I know he is not the only one, I hear stories of my son’s school friends buying extra large chocolate bars and cans of Red Bull before school.
We are both mum’s who understand how important good nutritions is for everybody, and especially growing kids. We can’t imagine being is a situation where we wouldn’t have anything in the house for kids to eat at breakfast. But there are households where this is the case, it is easier to give a child couple of quid and send them to a shop. I find that very sad. Especially since there has been a 4 fold increase in children treated in hospital for conditions linked to obesity.

My friend than talked about how her mum had knowledge about healthy eating without having access to the information we have today. The difference is she cooked, her mother cooked, her mother’s mother cooked. They passed the knowledge down the generations. Today the situation is different, many parents (I don’t want to blame the mum’s only) don’t cook, they look at the price and convenience when it comes to food not its nutritional value (healthy food doesn’t have to be expensive just look at http://agirlcalledjack.com/). Nutrition education at schools is not great, or dismissed by parents as rubbish. I did speak to someone who complained about school filling her daughters with rubbish and now she is refusing to even have a cake at home...

I have found, with my own kids, that it is not always easy to convince them to eat healthy. I know if I gave them money to buy their own breakfast they would walk out with a bar of chocolate or a croissant. And there are many things they refuse to eat. I still have the sweet potato hurdle to overcome. I do keep trying though... I came up with these sweet potato falafels hoping they might not realize... OK the colour gave the sweet potato away and than came the refusal but this will not stop me trying...


sweet-potato-falafel
BAKED SWEET POTATO FALAFELS
These can be also made into larger burgers, the mixture will make 6 burgers. They are also delicious cold the next day in a pitta bread with salad. They are yummy with a mango chutney.

ingredients
1 large sweet potato
1 tin chickpeas, drained
1 small onion, cut into chunks
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 cup rolled oats (use gluten free oats for gluten free version)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
3 Tbs hemp seeds
2 Tbs of chickpea flour (if needed)

Makes 12

sweet-potato-falafels

method
  1. First peel, cut into large pieces and steam the sweet potato till soft.
  2. In a food processor process the chickpeas, onion, garlic and oats and process till the ingredients are coming together. You may have to stop and scrape the mixture down from the sides.
  3. Tip the mixture into a bowl, add the drained cooked potatoes, cumin, coriander and the hemp seeds. You can also add couple tbs of fresh coriander (which I didn’t have on hand).
  4. Using your hands mix everything together while crushing the sweet potatoes.
  5. If the mixture is too sloppy you can add couple tablespoons of chickpea flour.
  6. Line a baking tray with non stick baking paper. Make 12 - 16 falafels (I made 12 larger ones). The job will be easier if you wet your hands before shaping your falafels, the mix won’t stick to your hands. I find it I have to wet my hands every 3-4 falafels.
  7. Place the falafels on the baking sheet and bake at 180C for 20 minutes turning over half way through.


0 Comments

RAW CARROT COOKIES


RAW CARROT COOKIES

Our broadband has still not been connected. I am not in love with my temporary intermittent connection but I guess that’s all I have for the moment. Patience required. Another thing that has given me grief is my new fridge. Apart from being a tad smaller than my old one, I have found out that my lower fridge drawer is freezing my vegetables. Rocket with ice-crystals was the first victim, but I just assumed the temperature was too low. I adjusted it but I still pulled out solidly frozen cucumber and courgettes from the fridge the day after.

The cucumber, unfortunately, had to be binned. The courgette I attempted to cook in a stir-fry. Slicing it from frozen wasn’t easy! I honestly thought about using a saw. And the result? Well I have had better...

After seeing my frustration my husband read the fridge instructions (yes we should have done that earlier!) and we found out that the bottom drawer is designed for meat and fish, and will freeze vegetables. Not even the suggestion of putting up the temperature to max has worked. This drawer is now assigned for kids lunch box smoothies, and my array of flax, hemp and chia seeds. I am feeling a bit angry at SMEG for making a veggie unfriendly fridge. I do normally have more veggies and fruits that one drawer can contain! On the other hand this is making me plan my meals better so there may be a positive in this after all.


raw-carrotchia-cookies

RAW CARROT AND CHIA COOKIES
My friend made a vegan carrot cake to have after our dinner the other day and I must say it went down a storm. It also inspired me to make raw carrot cookies. My son did say they looked like something stuck on the bottom of a shoe (thanks mate!) but he did admit they tasted great.

Makes 9-10 cookies

ingredients
2 medium carrots
1 medium eating apple
2 Tbs chia seeds
1 tsp cinnamon
tiny pinch of salt (optional)
1 cup pecans (or walnuts)
4 medjol dates
1/3 cup raisins

method
  1. Grate the carrots and apple very finely using a box grater. I find my food processor doesn’t grate the carrots finely enough. Place into a large bowl.
  2. Add chia seeds, cinnamon and salt into the bowl. The salt is not necessary but brings out the flavour of the cookies.
  3. Next in a food processor grind the pecan nuts till you achieve quite a fine texture, few larger bits are fine.
  4. Add the pitted medjol dates and process till the mixture starts coming together
  5. Add the date pecan mixture to the carrot apple mix. Add the raisins and mix thoroughly.
  6. Take enough mixture to roll into an apricot size ball, flatten it to make a cookie and place on your dehydrator sheet.
  7. Dehydrate at 115F (45C) for 8 hrs, turning half way through. If you don’t have a dehydrator you can use oven at its lowest setting, with door ajar.
  8. These cookies will keep in the fridge for 2-3 of days. But they may get eaten before that... :)



0 Comments

NEW POTATO, ROASTED TOMATO AND CHICKPEA SALAD

NEW POTATO, ROASTED TOMATO AND CHICKPEA SALAD

Guess who’s back?! Yes, I am back online. We are still not connected but my clever techie hubby bought me a nifty device to get me onto to world wide web. Much appreciated! 1891 emails are slowly downloading...

Our house move went really well, I have great admiration to the removal men who tirelessly lifted and shifted all our stuff (it was a lot of stuff!!!). While packing I was careful not to overload the book boxes (there were lots of them) but they carried 2 at a time!!! The physicality of their job is unbelievable. I was tired just watching them.

My new wall hanging:
chicken

My first week in the new house had lots of ups but a few very overriding downs. Second day in our house I went down with some stomach bug which left me in bed for a whole day. This was accompanied with a rather painful acute tooth infection. I spent over 4 days on painkillers, something I hate to do, they left me unable to speak coherently and rather sick to my stomach. Finally (after the Bank Holiday) I got to see my dentist who put me on very strong antibiotics. Yuck! But believe me I was in so much pain that I was ready to take anything! These horrible things made me feel absolutely knackered, with a headache and nausea. But guess what, the pain is gone! Now I am awaiting an appointment for a dental surgery to remove the partially erupted wisdom tooth that has been causing me so much trouble!

Even though I was going through the above c..p I have been enjoying the new house. We all do. Especially now that everything has been unpacked and assigned its new space. We are eagerly waiting for the new turf to settle to fully enjoy our new bigger garden. Especially since the weather has been so fabulous! Hopefully next year I can claim a patch to start a kale plantation!

Another highlight of the last 2 weeks (yes we have been in the new house 2 weeks today!!!) was meeting
Eric Brent, the man behind the fabulous HappyCow.net, who came to visit our annual VegFest in Bristol. It was fabulous to meet the man in person and I hope I can keep providing HappyCow with more recipes. I was planning to take a photo with him but somehow my painkiller fogged mind forgot! I think this could give me a good excuse to travel to San Francisco!!

potatochikpeaberbere

NEW POTATO, ROASTED TOMATO AND CHICKPEA SALAD
I made this for a friend who came to lunch. Easily doubled to serve four.
Serves 2

ingredients:
8-10 new potatoes, cut in halves
6 medium tomatoes (plum tomatoes are great)
1-2 tsp Berbere spice mix (or Cajun)
2 cloves garlic
1/4tsp dried thyme (1 tsp fresh)
pinch of salt
1 tin of chickpeas
4 spring onions
juice of half a lemon (or to taste)
100g (3oz) baby spinach or other green salad leaves
2 Tbs fresh coriander, chopped.


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. Cook the potatoes in boiling water for about 15 minutes or until just tender. Drain and place into a large salad bowl.
  3. Cut the tomatoes into quarters, place in a small baking dish (no need to oil it), sprinkle with the Berbere spice, thyme and salt. Place the 2 unpeeled garlic cloves next to the tomatoes.
  4. Bake for 20min, shake the dish halfway through.
  5. Next add the chickpeas to the tomatoes, shake to coat with the spices and any tomato juices. Bake for further 10 minutes.
  6. Remove the garlic, gently squeeze the soft garlic flesh into the bowl with potatoes. Add the chickpeas to the potatoes, mix together to coat the potatoes with the spices and tomato juices.
  7. Let the potato and chickpea mix sit for about 30 minutes.
  8. When ready to serve, place spinach leaves into larger salad (pasta) bowl, top with the potato chickpea mix, squeeze some lemon juice over and sprinkle with coriander. Enjoy.



0 Comments