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Affordable White Truffles?

If you like white truffles, this is a very good deal. Serve these lovelies shaved over a risotto and you will be in heaven.

I guess affordable is a relative term, but this should give you enough truffles for two stunning meals. Don't forget to use the rice when you are done.



https://food52.com/provisions/products/1909-white-alba-italian-truffle-1-ounce

I think that Food 52 is one of the best food sites going. So much fun to shop and drool over recipes.

Enjoy and Happy Christmas to everyone.

The garden is ROCKING!

Cucumbers

Tomatoes

Watermelons


Ghost Peppers


Consulato Genovese Tomatoes


Cucumbers, Straight Eight

Garden Update

I have been promising a garden update for some time and I have to say it has been real learning curve.

I think the biggest learn was that you just can not add too much amendment to the soil. I followed the advice from the nursery regarding the soil mix and while the mix itself is good, it lacked enough nutrients. Once I began amending and adding additional compost and organic fertilizer it really took off.

A few additional learns were that the potatoes, while good, took up far too much space for their yield. They have been taken up and cucumbers and watermelons planted in their stead.

Secondly, the peppers need heat to perform, so planting them early was to no advantage. Thirdly, I had no luck whatsoever with my beans, so I need to do some research, but I really feel it was a nutrient issue.

I think the pictures say it all, so enjoy and lets hope the good weather holds.

Tomatoes




Basil, Cucumbers, Peppers, Carrots, Eggplant and Watermelons



Peppers


Dr McDougall's Soups and Noodles

I am always on the look out for easy to prepare, healthy snacks and meals, which are vegan and low fat. I found these soups and noodles a while back and realized I haven't posted about them. 



The company is called Right Foods, www.rightfoods.com and they are a great source for healthy food, where you just add boiling water, wait 5 minutes and off you go. They taste great and are filling for just between 200-220 calories per serving, which is one cup/container.
I can't list all of the products, but check out the site and see what you think. They have an online store and I have also been able to find them at Whole Foods and my local grocery store. They are between $1.79-1.99 per cup, so they are reasonably priced and really taste fantastic.
Don't be put off that they are vegan, I promise you you wont miss a thing and you will be eating something good for you.


The Truth about Cooking Oils

I have this question all of the time. Why do you put your vegetable oil in the refrigerator? When people see that I have my cooking oils in the refrigerator they wonder why. Well, I'm going to tell you.

Oils are very susceptible to heat and light, so once they are cold pressed from a nut, olive or grain, they begin to oxidize. Now, if you use a lot of oil and use it quickly, say within a couple of weeks of opening, then this is likely not an issue, but this does not apply to most of us. Before anyone calls me out, let me say that when properly stored, olive oil and coconut oil are the only oils that do not need to be refrigerated.
However, most oils will benefit from the cooler temps. So, how do you know which are best refrigerated? Here's a list:
Nut Oils - Peanut, Hazelnut, Walnut, Avocado etc. - These should all be kept in the refrigerator. Buy small quantities and use as soon as possible. Cold pressed only.
Olive Oil and Coconut Oil – No need to refrigerate. Buy the organic co…

Roasted Salmon with Vietnamese Sauce

As many of you know, I am mostly vegan. However, I do occasionally eat some seafood. When I do, I like to have a piece of fish and quality salmon is one of my favorites. Seeing some fresh, wild King Salmon did it and I picked up some for dinner.



I have been playing with this recipe for quite awhile after seeing a similar one on the web. The original recipe didn't quite make sense to me as it seemed to missing some key ingredients to really give it an authentic Vietnamese flavor. In addition, it had far too much sugar for my taste, so I started modifying and I believe the end result is really good and quite easy to make.

Ingredients
1 1/2 lbs of fresh salmon in two pieces. You want to find thick pieces, so they will roast up well and stay moist. The picture above is a good size.
2 Tbsp Coconut Oil, heated slightly until it turns to oil. The microwave for about 30 seconds is perfect to accomplish this.
Sea Salt
Black Pepper
Fresh Cilantro, chopped
Green Onions, thinly sliced.
Lime Wedges

Sauc…

Vegan Caramel Banana Bread

I've been working hard to make this even healthier and better tasting, so see the changes below.

It is a wonderful dairy free banana bread, which takes on a fantastic caramel undertone when it cooks. It is a quite dark and heavy banana bread, and packed with flavor.




Ingredients

1 cup All Purpose Flour
1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
3/4 cup White Sugar
1/2 cup Light Brown Sugar
3/4 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Cardamom
Pinch of Cloves
1/2 Cup Soy or Almond Milk
1 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
3 cups of mashed very ripe Bananas*
1/4 cup Vegetable Oil
2 Tbsp Maple Syrup
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 cup chopped Walnuts and Pecans
1 Tbsp Bourbon- Optional
9 x 5 inch loaf pan

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Sift together the flour, salt, sugar, baking powder and spices. In a small cup, mix the soy milk and cider vinegar and allow it to sit for 2 minutes.

Mix the soy milk mixture into the mashed bananas, vegetable oil, maple syrup, bourbon and vanilla extract and mix until just combined. Then fold in…

Another fantastic food site, Food 52

I'm always enjoy sharing great food sites and I was turned onto this one and I must say it's become my new favorite. 


Food 52 is just amazing and has so many recipes, tips and an online store. Wow, I wish I had thought of this!

www.food52.com

I particularly like the fact that you can upload recipes yourself and share with others. I've not done this yet, but planning to next week.

Here is what they say about themselves:


Why We Started Food52 A few years ago, we set out to bring cooks together from all over to exchange recipes and ideas and to support each other in the kitchen. We wanted to create a buzzing place for others who do what we do all day long: talk about food! Together we create cookbooks, take on food projects, help others with our real-time food Q&A -- the Food52 Hotline -- and support local food producers. Since we started Food52 (we cook 52 weeks a year, get it?), millions of cooks and eaters have found their way to the site. We believe that if you want to ea…

Roasted Cornbread

I love cornbread, but the mixes are packed with chemicals and I wanted to find a good recipe that didn't use eggs, but still tasted great. After a few attempts, I found this one. With a little modification, I came up with a dense tasty cornbread which is slightly sweet, and has fantastic corn flavor. Thanks to the Post Punk Kitchen for this recipe.


Ingredients

1 cup of  frozen Yellow Corn kernels, roasted in 1 Tbsp of vegetable oil. (This takes about 7-8 minutes. Don't stir to often, or it won't brown).
2 cups Soy Milk
2 tsp Cider Vinegar
2 cups Yellow Corn Meal
1 cup All Purpose Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 cup of Sugar
1/2 tsp Salt
1/3 cup of Vegetable Oil

2 Tbsp of Maple Syrup, optional and only if you want it a bit sweeter.
1 tsp Cayenne Pepper, if you want it a bit spicy.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch metal baking pan. Don't use a glass Pyrex type pan.

Put your cider vinegar into your soy milk and let it set for at least 4 minutes.

Combine all o…

The garden enclosure is finished!

This weekend the garden enclosure was finished and most everything has been planted. I planted three types of potatoes, Yellow Finn, Purple Viking and Desiree. 



I also planted some garlic in with the tomatoes, as I heard that the garlic will keep down the aphids and hopefully the spider mites. However, interesting note, beans do not do well with garlic. 

I just have some of the late geminating hot chilies still to go in and then I will direct sow some collard greens and maybe some additional carrots. 

I think the linseed oil looks great as a finish and the wood seems to be very well nourished. I like the color it's taken on and the upkeep should be just a light coat just once a year.

For those who have asked, the panels swing outwards and upwards and then are propped with a pole, which you can see leaning against the right of the enclosure. 

It's such a simple system and effectively it has made the garden secure, and with the drip irrigation system, mostly self sufficient.

I fully u…

Garden Update!

Things are coming along really well and much to my excitement, the carrots which were direct sown in the bed, are starting to sprout. I was thinking it was a bit too cold and then surprise, there they were.  Yes, those little green spots are carrots.


Here are the peas which I grew from seed and some of the peas I direct sowed into the bed. They came up really quickly, and since they don't like too hot of weather, I'm hoping to get some peas before the summer kicks in.



Some romaine, butter crunch and speckled heirloom lettuce.


Green beans and other beans.


Dragon benas and limas.


Tomatoes and peppers enjoying the sun and ready to go into the beds tomorrow. Very excited to watch them take off.


Have found a great source for organic non toxic paints which are made from pure linseed oil. They boil the oil and then you can use it to naturally seal the wood. I'm quite impressed, so I'm going to use the pure boiled linseed oil to seal the wood. 100% organic and natural.

If you're …

Sesame Soba Noodles

This is a really fantastic salad which is both tasty and healthy. I modified it slightly from a post from my fellow blogger at the Taste Tickler and I made it for guests last night and we ate almost the entire bowl. That’s always a good sign.

Ingredients

Salad Mixture 12 oz Soba Noodles
4 cups of Broccoli Slaw mix 4 cups of Cole Slaw mix 1 bunch Scallions, trimmed and sliced in half and chopped. ½ Red Pepper, sliced into thin strips

Dressing
1/2 cup chunky Peanut Butter
3 Tbsp Rice Vinegar
3 Tbsp Toasted Sesame Oil
3 Tbsp  Tamari or other soy sauce
2 Tbsp Honey or Agave Nectar
1 Tbsp finely grated fresh Ginger
1 Garlic clove, pressed or minced 1 Tbsp Chili and Garlic Pasta or Sriracha Sauce 1 Tbsp Sesame Seeds

Garnish
Coarsely chopped cilantro
1 lime, sliced into wedges and squeezed over each serving


Cook the soba noodles by bringing a large pot of water to a boil and cooking the noodles according to the package directions.  Drain and rinse with cold water or plunge into ice water and then drain and add…

Answers to a few of your questions, Part Two

Here is the second installment with the rest of the varieties I'm growing.

Peppers - I love peppers of all types. I enjoy traditional bell peppers and the hot ones and I wanted grow some that were a bit different.


Ozark Giant - A traditional bell pepper, which will give you lots of stunning large peppers.Purple Jalapeño - A traditional jalapeño which changes to a rich purple color before shifting to red. Most people pick jalapeños when they are green and frankly they aren't that good. If you leave them on the plant, they go to purple, chocolate and then red and they are hotter and taste much better with a really nice sweet taste.Corno di Toro - The "horn of the bull".  A wonderful pepper which is almost impossible to find in any market outside of Italy. Sweet with a hint of spice, they are amazing when roasted.Sigaretta de Bergamo - Another Italian variety which is very hard to find. Fry them or throw them in a salad.India Jwala - If you like hot chilies, this is the o…

Answers to a few of your questions, Part One

I've had so much interest about the garden and I thought it might be good to answer a few basic questions.

1) Why grow from seed, isn't it just easier to buy the plants from your local nursery? YES, it certainly is easier, but here are a few things to consider. If you buy your plants, you have far less choice in which varieties to grow and you really don't know from where your plants have come. Finally, if you are trying to grow 100% organic and non GMO, you need to grow from seed.

2) Where do you get your seeds? There are some really good sites and you can order many seed catalogs, but I personally like Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds in Mansfield MO. They actually have three locations, one in Petaluma CA and another in Wethersfield CT. Their catalog is great and really well organized, or you can order online atwww.rareseeds.com



3) What are you growing and why? I like to try a broad variety of vegetables and I have decided on the following mix.

Tomatoes: I grow three types of toma…

Garden Update- The beans are in!

With the crazy warm weather here, I've just decided to take a chance and start getting things in the ground. So the seedlings are coming along nicely and the beans have been planted in the bed.


It is going to be 78F here today and next week in the 80's, so the seedlings are outside soaking up the sun. I honestly think they've grown in just the few hours they've been out. These are basically the tomatoes, peppers and onions. 


And here are some very happy beans. I've got the green beans, lima beans peas and dragon beans in. The irrigation is working well and if this weather keeps up, I may have to open a vegetable stand.


I'm really impressed with the dragon beans and how well they are looking. The beans are stunning and hard to find here, so I'm looking forward to cooking with them. If anyone has a good recipe, please pass it along.


The soil, which I think I mentioned previously, is an amazing mix of 1/3 compost, 1/3 peat moss and 1/3 vermiculite. It is so loose …

The Raised Beds

I've spent a lot of time working with my friend and contractor to decide on the best way to design the beds and here is what we have so far. Here is the basic bed with hardware cloth on the bottom to keep out the gophers.




The bed is just about filled with the soil mix, which is 1/3 compost, 1/3 peat moss and 1/3 vermiculite. It's so loose you can put your hand to the bottom.


Next step is to hook up the irrigation system. We have decided to use a drip emitter system which can water itself via the lawn sprinkler system. Then Dieter will build the sides. We need sides with screens to keep out the animals. 

Raised Beds - Organic Garden

Those of you who know me well, know that I'm a farm boy at heart. I think once you've spent time on a farm, that satisfaction in seeing things grow and enjoying the fruits of your labors never really leaves you.

So, I finally committed to building some raised beds in my yard, so I wanted to share the process with you. A did a few things to ensure that the results would be impressive.

Firstly, I had raised beds built, as they will allow high density planting and high yields. Secondly, I purchased all organic soil to fill the beds. It was an upfront expense, but well worth it, as it will only need to be added to each year. I used a well know ratio called Mel's mix, which is 1/3 compost. 1/3 peat moss and 1/3 vermiculite. Thirdly, I ordered my seeds and started them indoors. This has a few benefits. One, I can ensure that my seeds, and subsequent plants are organic, non GMO. Two, I have a much broader choice of interesting options to grow. Thirdly, I can get started earlier and…