Sauerkraut – Delight your gut bugs!

YUMMY sauerkraut is so easy to make. Besides just scooping it out and eating it, I add it to my salads, as a garnish for soups, and as an extra in my wraps. All you need is cabbage, sea salt, a crock or a glass jar, something to weight the cabbage under the brine and a cloth to cover it. I like about 1 part red cabbage to 3 parts green because it is just so brilliantly pink when it’s done. My KRAUT GURU’s book WILD FERMENTATION (Sandor Ellix Katz) is the best bedtime read. Next up, I’m trying – MISO and Summer Half Sour Pickles.

The other book that keeps me up nights digesting it (LOL) is THE GOOD GUT by          Justin & Erica Sonnenburg, PhDs.

LEEKS VINAIGRETTE NESTS

FullSizeRender-3Photo – Merci, Kathy Thompson!

ORGANIC INGREDIENTS, PLEASE.
Serves 12

LEEKS
2 large 1.5″ diameter leeks
Cut off roots and trim leaves leaving 3″ of dark green.
Halve them lengthwise and wash thoroughly.
Cut into ribbons about 1/2″ wide.
Leeks are banked with earth as they grow to create the
delicate white root ends. You can plant the trimmed root and it will grow a new leek. Save the tops for a soup or a stir fry.

You can prepare the vinaigrette as the leeks cook.

Bring 1 quart of water to a boil.
Add 1/2 t. sea salt.
Add leeks and simmer for 15 minutes until they are just translucent and tender. You’ll need to tend these as they cook. If you overcook they will be mush. If you overcook them then save them for something other than Leeks Vinaigrette. Maybe a leek puree topped with tiny carrots.

Have a bowl of ice and water ready to chill the leeks once they are done. Drain the tender leeks reserving the liquid to drink now or later. It’s delicious hot and cold! Place the drained leeks into the ice water and let chill thoroughly. Drain but leave them moist as the water helps to dilute the vinaigrette a bit.

VINAIGRETTE
Vinegary things’ sourness is influenced by the vinegar type and is a personal preference so before you add the leeks to the vinaigrette, taste it.

In a bowl large enough to hold the leeks, mix together:
1/4 c. olive oil
2 T. champagne or white wine vinegar
1/4 t. garlic salt or a tiny clove of fresh garlic and a dash of salt
1 dash of freshly ground or FRESH white pepper (or more to your taste – it’s powerful if it’s fresh)

OPTIONAL
1/2 t. Dijon mustard – I do not add as I think it masks the delicate leek flavor.

Add the drained leeks and toss gently. Place in a GLASS or CERAMIC covered dish and refrigerate for at least four hours and up to 8 hours. No metals or plastics please as they influence the flavors. A Ball jar with an enamel lid works too.

QUAIL EGGS
Place eggs in saucepan and cover with cold water. Add 1 T vinegar. Bring to a gentle simmer. Simmer for 45 seconds then plunge into cold water to stop the cooking. These are tricky to keep a gooey yellow so you might just let them cool to room temperature and be happy with whatever the yolk decides to do. The shells are so beautiful – so I just clip off the top of the egg and set it into the nest.

THE FUN PART – ASSEMBLY

Select lovely little dishes. I like square dark dishes for the contrast. <$2 at World Market. In each dish swirl a nest of leeks, top with a clipped quail egg, a few capers, a bit of sunflower seeds for crunch.

I think they’d be delightful in petit cupcake liners and then placed in one of those ceramic egg cartons. I will try to get a photo of that next time!

Let rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and up to an hour before serving.

Bon Appétit

From Iceland with love

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Enjoy this Risallamande recipe. It has a lovely story.
Substitute coconut cream and any kind of nut milk if you like.
Hiking with REI in December the young guide, Pokey, was away from his family for the first time over Christmas. When I asked him what he missed it was Risallamande. (Rice with Almonds and Cherry Sauce). The chef at the Inn (www.hotelborealis.is) where we stayed lovingly made it for him on Christmas night. His family usually has a huge portion for Christmas Eve dinner and then has the rest for dessert on Christmas.
Well, I have been eating it every day since I got back home. That’s like three weeks or so. I know, I have to stop at some point! Anyhow, it is delicious. Here’s my adaptation and a website for more fun reading…http://nordicfoodliving.com/risalamande-danish-rice-dessert/
Risallamande
Recipe for Homemade Risalamande - Danish Rice Dessert for Christmas
Prepare Rice Pudding, Cherry Sauce, Almonds and Whipped Cream
Rice Pudding
1 c  Organic short grain rice (Arborio)
4 c WHOLE Organic milk
1/8 t sea salt +/-
5 T Organic sugar
1 T Organic butter
1 vanilla bean
1 t vanilla (I use Penzey’s double strength)
Place rice, salt, sugar, and scrapings from vanilla bean and the bean in a saucepan. Add 2 cups of the milk and bring to a low simmer. DO NOT BOIL fully or the milk will scald. The trick here is to stir every 3 minutes or so to be sure it’s not sticking to the bottom. Add the additional milk as the rice absorbs the first liquids. Cook for about 35 minutes, Remove vanilla bean hull. Add butter and vanilla. Place plastic wrap directly over the top of the pudding and let cool to room temperature. The plastic wrap keeps a “skin” from forming on the top. (You can put in a shallow container to do this if you wish to cool faster.) This can be made up to a day ahead and refrigerated.
Cherry Sauce
2 c frozen Bing/Sweet cherries – I like Whole Foods brand – Organic or what you can find
4 T filtered water in 2 equal portions
2 T Organic butter
1/8 t sea salt +/-
2 T sugar
2 t cornstarch
1/4 t almond extract
While you stir the rice pudding, make the sauce. In small saucepan, place all ingredients (2 T of the water) except cornstarch and extract. Bring to simmer. In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch with 2 T water. Add to saucepan and stir to thicken and cook through. remove from heat; add almond extract. Serve barely warm over pudding.
Almonds
1 c +/- Organic almonds
Place almonds in ceramic bowl; cover with boiling water. Let sit 1 minute., Pour off water and recover with boiling water. Let sit 1 minute. Run cool water over and pop off the almond skins. (You can buy blanched almonds if you like.) Coarsely chop the almonds and set aside.
Whipped Cream
2 c Organic Whipping cream
2 T confectioners Sugar – I skip this added sugar but you might want to add according to the rice pudding sweetness and your own taste preference.
Whip cream until firm peaks form.
Assembly
Fold whipped cream into cool rice pudding.
I literally take the rice pudding in my hands and break it into smaller chunks so the whipped cream stays fluffier as you fold it in.
Traditionally the almonds are stirred into the pudding and one whole almond is included. Whomever gets the whole almond wins…you know that Christmas/King Cake/3 Kings Cake/Hide It tradition.
I like to place the pudding in a dish, top with cherry sauce and then add almonds on top according to my guests’ preference for nuts or not.
So pretty! It’s lovely in tiny little single Asian spoons or crystal shot glasses.
It will be a new holiday tradition – and well maybe a weekly tradition — at our home!
Enjoy!
Oh and Iceland is SOOOO worth a visit. Iceland Air offers free stopovers on the way to Europe.
Gleðileg jól

PLASTIC MATTERS?

Okay so this is “save my plastic week.” It also is Christmas Gift wrapping week. It is so interesting because on one side of my personality I want less and on the other side I really want PAPER — the French pink glitter wrap and the one with the poodles and…. More news to come concerning the fight between my wants and my needs. Meanwhile, a few easy old habits I reinstated — THIS WEEK – I take my own drink container with me – that can be one for both hot and cold (Target has some lovely colors on an end cap of these.) or two. (One of mine is an outmoded plastic one and one is a ceramic Starbucks cup.) I am taking my own FORK, SPOON and KNIFE or SPORK. If I forget my fabric shopping bags, I carry my items out to the car in the cart and transfer them into a bag there. Pretty soon I WILL stop forgetting.

I have a real entitlement bug in my personality that says,”You deserve it fast, now and easy.” I think it is the same bug that just encouraged me to eat the ENTIRE chocolate mousse (that was in a plastic cup with a plastic lid). And so, I am meditating and taking an extra hike around the block. I love that stuff too – the healthy stuff.

In my own personal melt down of my plastic addiction I hope to inspire you to be a little inconvenienced to better preserve the world for the amazing bright-eyed children. For the creatures who are humbled into fenced animal preserves and pastures and contaminated seas by our extreme greed for more. They show up trusting that we invited them to enjoy a world that is healthy and safe. The tiniest thought before you toss might save a breath of air or even a life.

My entitled personality is thinking, ” Oh pooh. It makes no difference!” My good heart, the angel one, replies, “Let’s just see. One piece of plastic at a time.”

Oregano – Power in a Pinch

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What is an OXIDANT? I did a little research and tried to simplify this. An oxidant is an agent that removes an electron from another molecule causing it to become unstable. With an electron missing, the unstable molecule can become a free radical. Free radicals are kind of like they sound: FREE – floating and wanting to attach and RADICAL like wild wicked unstable molecules. They can cause damage by attaching to healthy molecules (like your DNA). We are surrounded by oxidants. Our air, our processed water, our food, the containers for our foods, even our own stress, etc. etc. etc. Cut an apple and watch it oxidize (turn brown) before your eyes. Rust is a type of oxidation. ANTIOXIDANTS donate the missing electron creating a stable, healthy molecule. Oregano is loaded with nature’s antioxidants, as are many herbs and spices.

In HOW NOT TO DIE by Michael Greger, M.D. writes …whole-wheat pasta with marinara sauce has about 80 units of antioxidant power. Add a handful of steamed broccoli and it goes up to 150. Then add a single teaspoon of dried oregano or 3 teaspoons of fresh oregano and you double your meal’s power up to 300 units.

Oregano (Origanum vulgare) is loaded with Vitamin K; two teaspoons of the dry herb give you 14% of the RDA. K is important for blood health, bone strength, And health of cells that line veins and arteries. K helps improve insulin resistance helping prevent type 2 diabetes according to Medical News Today. It also has healthy amounts of Vitamin E, manganese, iron, calcium and fiber.

Andrew Weil writes, “The health benefits of oregano include its antibacterial and antioxidant properties: oregano has been used orally to treat respiratory tract infections, gastrointestinal disorders, urinary tract infections, headaches and cardiovascular concerns. One study found that components of oregano may have protective effects against the oxidation of low-density lipoproteins (LDL), perhaps due to their high content of polyphenols.

The volatile oils from this herb have also been used to treat allergies and sinusitis, earaches, cold and flu, and intestinal parasites. Topically, oil of oregano has been used as an antibacterial to treat fungal infections, dandruff, acne, and mouth concerns like canker sores, toothaches and gingivitis. It can also be used to repel and treat insect bites and stings, as well as for steam inhalation therapy.

AND IMPORTANT — Pregnant women should not take supplements of oregano due to its potential to raise the risk of spontaneous abortion.”  Dr. Weil – Oregano

GROW it! It is so easy to grow in a hot sunny place. It spreads into a beautiful green blanket so be sure to give it lots of room or limit the root area. Pick it in spring before it blooms. In the morning right after the dew has dried, it will have the most pungent flavor. It dries well just rubber-banded in a little bunch and hung in a dry space. You can cover it with a paper circle, like a hat, if you want to avoid dust. Mince it with EVOO and freeze it in clumps. Never be without oregano – your own organic, local variety!

AFTER WRITING ALL OF THIS ABOUT OREGANO I GOT HUNGRY FOR ANTIOXIDANTS…

OREGANO INFUSED Fennel with Chickpeas & Onions

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  • 2 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
  • 1 c diced fennel
  • 1/2 medium onion cut into crescents
  • 1/2 c cooked chickpeas
  • 1/2 t minced fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 t minced fresh thyme
  • 5 t minced fresh oregano
  • 1/2 t turmeric
  • 1/4 c water
  • sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the vegetables and sauté for about 3 minutes. Add the herbs and chickpeas and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the water and simmer until it has evaporated and the mixture slightly caramelizes. Add sea salt and pepper to taste. Serve topped with a teaspoon of ghee, if you like.

I had a delicious lunch! Hope you did too.

Belynda