Satsuma mandarins...the perfect winter snack, gift, everything!

Satsuma mandarins...the perfect winter snack, gift, everything!
peel, eat, repeat

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Well it is another year and another Farmers Market Lovers Calendar is on the scene. This year’s calendar contains even more amazing watercolors from Dave and colorful prose from me for an exciting new season of local eating and recipes. Once again available starting around November 16 at, Pleasant Hill Produce Market, Step It Up Studios, Mrs. Dalloway’s in Berkeley, Orinda Books, Orchard Nursery, Ace in Moraga and at a few farmers markets. Always easy to be had with an e-mail to me, and I’ll meet you almost anywhere to get you one and avoid all the postage and handling nonsense on the website! I have not been able to technically get a preview onto my blog yet but it is all over my website for a peek. Great gift idea for chefs, gardeners and lovers of art in your realm. As the mercury starts to dip my mind goes to bubbling, hot vats of creamy stuff. Polenta in the morning with neat melting squares of organic butter and maple syrup can change your life for the better of all humans coming into your sphere of influence. Evening time regrouping at a family table cantered around a baked crock of polenta with roasted vegetables, tomato sauce and melted aged Gouda can stop arguments and bring peace on earth. Butternut squash soup sipped piping hot with dollops of breathtaking crème fraiche floating topside or mashed cauliflowers with lemon oil add their swag jumping on the bandwagon to join all manner of warm, delicious offerings to feed body and soul. Winter gardens, precious even in decay, are slowing down with the short days but cruciferous veggies as well as lettuce, arugula, carrots, radish, beets, greens of all kinds and more are on their way to being picked soon. Peas grow well in cold weather too given a reason to climb, they will. Most winter crops will experience a drag as our climate cohabitates with frost but don’t give up hope for any of them. Love and care, mulch and compost and keeping moist during freezing nocturnes will keep your ground producing. There are a few farmers markets open year round to assist with you cooking groove. Todos Santos Park Tuesdays from 10 to 2, Pleasant Hill BART Wednesdays from 11 to 6, Diablo Valley at Kaiser Shadelands Saturday from 9 to 1, Martinez Sunday Downtown from 10 to 2 to name a few. There is no shortage of sumptuous offerings adorning heavy tables waiting to be tenderly concocted into heart fluttering and body warming delights. Nothing like a good vegetable soup as temperatures plummets to keep energy and imagination flowing enough to motive after early dark like a fast moving storm. As Holiday hustle exerts it’s anxious pull of soul crunching ambition to have the best party of the season, be the skinniest, get the most creative and unusual gifts, keep exercising, entertain in laws and out laws, walk the dog, feed the fish, work at school and job, force the amaryllis, decorate the house, find the perfect flipping tree…it can feel like a spiral of quinoa pulling you down but alas…there is hope and strategy to cope with it all. Number one is to re-evaluate the whole shebang. Do less. What can be adapted to create an easier schedule? Personally I tend to step back a foot or two from any kind of senseless consuming and make a whole bunch of something to give everyone including family, friends, teachers etc. I will do a jam day or spice mixture or bath salts, anything to keep me from spending everything I earned all year and having to get involved with a bunch of low blood sugar rampaging shoppers hell bent on the best deal of some imported nonsense. People like it when you make them something. It gives value to yourself as well as your recipient. Always take a walk and remember to eat breakfast and lunch with lots of fruits and vegetables exercising your jaw in a positive manner. Dinner can be a simpler affair but the first two shape your life and moods as well as the best pumpkin latte. Bring something healthy that you can eat to every party you attend and watch the alcohol levels coursing through stressed bloodstreams. Most of all breath and do it deeply a lot throughout the month. It will all be over sooner than later and it is a very magical time of year. Happy Holidays! This is a kitchen sink kind of stew. There are no rules. Use whatever you find at the market and have on hand. If you are feeling frisky add some crumbled feta on the top If kinky is more apt a mood top it all off w/ chopped Greek olives and drizzled lemon oil. Guaranteed to cure what ails you and even what don’t. Winter Vegetable Stew w/ Cous Cous or Quinoa 1 red onion, chopped or ½ bunch baby onions, sliced up the greens 4 cloves garlic, chopped 2 carrots, split and chopped 1 turnip, cubed 2 large Yukon gold potato, cubed ½ butternut squash, cubed 1 large parsnip, sliced 1/2 head of Gai lan, sliced (Chinese broccoli) ½ bunch rainbow Swiss chard, sliced 1 ½ cups cooked garbanzo beans 1 cup tomato sauce 1 cup vegetable stock 2 tablespoons olive oil ½ cup chopped fresh mixed herbs such as parsley, oregano, thyme, mint Salt and pepper 4 cups cooked cous cous or Quinoa In a large, heavy bottomed pot heat olive oil and sauté onions and garlic until slightly browned. Add the potato, butternut squash, parsnips, turnip and carrots. Sauté for 10 minutes until caramelized. Add garbo’s, tomato sauce and stock. Let simmer 20 more minutes and add gai lan and chard. Let simmer for 5 minutes until greens are bright colored. Add herbs and season w/ salt and pepper. Serve over cous cous or quinoa. Serves 8.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Election Day holds hope in minds of voters registered or not, conscious or not. Renewal, good or bad is always exciting. At our college park organic garden this week, on Election Day, while digging deep holes, pulling weeds and raking soil in preparations of planting spring blooming flowers with our special day students, I brought up the election. Apparently they had been sort of warned about talking politics but I stepped right into it and totally encouraged a conversation. It seems the older one gets the more significance Election Day holds along with more longing to share with younger generations the urgency to strongly encourage them to take control of their futures and changing times, one way done well with a good vote. Complete and total repeat and mimic of remarks and rhetoric that they have heard in their respective homes begins tumbling seamlessly from innocent mouths. "Someone really stupid did not do what they were supposed to do and now they are going to really mess everything up!" falls out of a sweet young man’s mouth. "Yeah but what about the right to have an abortion and women's rights and Social Security" remarks a beautiful young woman? “This is fantastic”, I say, conversation with respect to each other’s opinions is totally moving in directions to negotiate compromise”. “We are all entitled to our views and we can share them with each other on this great day of privilege”, I tell them. Blank stares from teenagers. Arguments start to set in and I think that maybe I may have screwed up but just as quickly as tempers flared that fizzle and these two particular opposing students, who are very much alike and have true respect and affection for each other start to compromise before our eyes. As the teacher that told them not to discuss it in the first place was getting ready to brain me realizes what is happening she joins in and makes a few amazing points of her own. Discourse is good no matter the age. This must be what the mediators of political debates that go well must feel like. I felt great. I felt hopeful for our future on that Election Day. I wonder if they realize that we live in a country where we get to actually voice our opinions out loud without hanging or decapitations. Our job is to make sure they know, but more importantly that they understand and comprehend this incredible and not always universal deed we are allowed to perform every once in awhile to keep things somewhat on track in our social and economic lives. What if we had enough money in the schools at middle and high level to really teach all students the importance of this knowledge and deed. In theory this is already in place in Gov, History and Econ classes but with the overcrowding and over worked teachers I opine that this just aint happening and when you factor in the brain of most teens and where their thoughts are most of the time I truly believe it an unfortunate truth that all this hard taught knowledge and efforts on the parts of parents and teachers just aint gonna play out until the twenties hit. Hopefully that coincides with a 4 year cycle.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

the Big Competition

Every year for four years, Cindy Gershen’s Walnut Creek Wellness Challenge has held the Healthy Mayors cook off at a farmers market somewhere in Contra Costa County. All the County Mayors are invited to get their favorite chef and compete for a really big, heavy cup and the title as winner of the cook off. Cindy always strives for a very healthy bent to the cook off adhering to her organizations’ philosophy of eating better and exercising more. This year’s theme was all about following the USDA healthy school lunch guidelines for kid’s lunches. When the Mayor of Pleasant Hill asked me to represent the City as the chef to compete in the Mayors Healthy cook off with him a couple days before the event, I thought, sure why not, sounds like fun. When I got to Todos Santos Park where the event was held during the Thursday evening farmers market it was packed. Aside from the market and the cook off, the band was the Journey tribute band, Evolution, and there were a lot of fans there to see them. I thought I was arriving a little early but I was wrong. Armed with my little butane burner and some pots and pans I gazed around at the chefs and restaurants represented in the cook off with their battery of 8 burner, propane fueled Wolf ranges and gas powered grills and had a fleeting thought that I may possibly be out of my comfort zone. Chocolate quickly came to mind but that thought was quelled by the nausea arising through my core as a tiny flicker of fear flame set in. I pasted a huge smile on my face as I unloaded my van and found our station. John Hanecak, the Mayor of Pleasant Hill, was ready to rock and roll as soon as I told him what to do. We also had our secret weapon, a student from the Serendipity Hospitality and Restaurant Program at Mt. Diablo High School by the name of Nancy. We quickly moved toward the table with our little “chopped” box full of our ingredients that we were able to use in the competition and my brain went into prep mode. We had ground turkey, quinoa, a lot of veggies including Dino kale and okra, and a lot of fruits. I blindly grabbed any of the “pantry extras” that were offered, vinegar, a lemon, whatever I could get my hands on. Our goal was to fix a nice, tasty lunch for students fitting into the guidelines set forth by our all knowing government. We had an hour and a half to do it. We had okra and kale for the kids. We needed to have a presentation on a little form fitted lunch tray, a nice platter presentation of our dishes and ten plates for the judges to taste and judge us by. We also had to have a good story about our town and what we were doing to enhance the health of the townsfolk in P. Hill. Quickly I set John and Nancy to chopping staples, peppers, onions..Nancy made a delightful salsa and John was a great chopper. I figured we could sauté the cooked quinoa with okra and garlic and add seasonings. You were allowed to bring your own and I did. One of my secret weapons is Bragg’s amino acids and I doused the quinoa in that. Growing up we always had rice and my Dad was a freak for soy sauce on his rice so it only stands to reason that we all were. Quinoa and Braggs is my new, improved healthy version of that combo. I sautéed the turkey with onions and garlic and a lot of summer squash until it was browned and caramelly luscious and added some to the quinoa and decided at that moment that we were having stuffed peppers. We cut red bells in half and scooped out the seeds and pith and mounded in the turkey mixture and steamed them in a pot on top of our sweet little burner in an ala minute broth of water and herbs and of course, Braggs. As we were madly chopping and dicing the judges were roaming around. Five were school aged kids and five were food professionals from our communities. I asked the kids if they like kale and got no response. What about raw kale I asked. Again dead stares….mmmm “You all just come back in a few and we will have you not only eating it but loving it” I boldly exclaimed. We chopped the raw kale and tossed it with halved cherries, diced white nectarines and halved cherry tomatoes and tossed it in balsamic vinaigrette. Meanwhile we had our cooked peppers and we topped them with Nancy’s salsa and a quick little drizzle of chimi churri sauce made my way out of parsley, basil and tarragon mixed with a lot of lemon and olive oil and of course, drum roll… Braggs. We were actually done a bit ahead and we scooped melon balls out of an incredibly sweet orange fleshed melon and tossed them with plums and strawberries for a very simple fruit salad. Kids love melon balls but if you have the same melon just sliced, they may not be so inclined. Just saying. I own one, a kid that is and have the insider scoop on that kind of info. As the judges inched their way down the tables toward ours, tasting and talking while scratching notes as to how well the contestants stuck to the guidelines, our crew, the three of us, were madly plating up their sample plates and basically hoping for the best. I did feel a bit of a responsibility and hoped that we would come out ok. After making their way through each City’s offerings the judges sat in a circle and spoke amongst themselves. Meanwhile the band is screaming about lights going out in the city and the crowd is singing along at full volume. Farmers are trading cash for their goods and energy is sizzling along with the temperatures while we wait for results. My mom and dad were about to leave, enough Journey already, as my sister told them that the announcements were being made about who won. We all got herded up onto the big stage and John and I never expected to place at all so we are working the crowd on the stage setting up meetings and talking shop. All of the sudden the announcer is down to first place and Anna Fisher is telling me that I really need to listen to this, I mean really listen to this. At first I felt admonished for whispering but then a little chill went up my spine at about the same time as we heard them announce Pleasant Hill as the first place winning city. John and I looked at each other in disbelief and just started laughing. What a thrill it was to win that competition. As we exited the stage we had a whole passel of new friends and lunch dates. My mom started crying and my Dad is pumping my hand and John’s and telling us “not bad guys”. So our claim to fame, we won first prize at the 4th Annual Healthy Mayors cook off and the really big, really heavy cup sits proudly at Pleasant Hill City Hall for the next year until the next cook off and the next winner but until then….We Won!! Red Bell Peppers Stuffed w/ Quinoa and Ground Turkey w/ fresh salsa and chimi churri sauce (Recipe from the Mayors cook off 2012) 1 pound ground turkey 4 green onions, sliced 2 summer squash, cubed ½ red bell, diced 4 cloves garlic, chopped 2 tablespoons olive oil Salt and pepper to taste Sauté garlic, onions and turkey until turkey is browned. Add vegetables and sauté for 10 minutes until semi soft. 3 cups cooked quinoa 3 cloves garlic, chopped 4 okra, sliced ½ red bell, diced 1 carrot, diced 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 tablespoon Bragg’s liquid amino acids or salt to taste Heat a sauté pan and put olive oil in and heat oil. Sauté vegetables for a few minutes and add quinoa. Season w/ Bragg’s or salt Mix turkey and quinoa mixtures together. Cut off tops and level out bottoms of 8 red bells. Clean out center of seeds and pith. Fill with turkey and quinoa mixture. Place in a deep soup pot and fill up to about one third of the water up the peppers with water. Add 2 sliced green onions and 2 tablespoons Bragg’s amino acids to the water. Simmer about 15 minutes until peppers are soft to touch and filling is heated through. Garnish with salsa and chimi churri sauce. Serves 8 generously. Salsa ½ red onion, chopped fine 1 clove garlic, chopped 2 tomatoes, chopped 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro ½ jalapeño, chopped Juice and zest of 1 or 2 lemons 2 tablespoons rice vinegar Salt to taste Chimi churri Sauce 1 bunch parsley, rough chop 1 bunch cilantro, rough chop 2 cloves garlic, peeled 2 whole lemons, ends cut off and cut into 8th’s 3 tablespoons rice vinegar 2 tablespoons olive oil Salt to taste Place all ingredients into blender and puree until liquefied. Season w/ salt and adjust acids to taste. Makes about 2 cups. Put into squeeze bottle and refrigerate. Will last at least a week in fridge.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Pivitol Food Moments....ever have one??

We’ve all had a pivotal food moment right? Even those who care nothing about the taste of what they eat, consume calories purely to stay alive, have had a moment that stopped them for a second. Sometimes it is when you’re a kid and grandma is visiting or you are visiting her and she gives you something out of the ordinary family fare you get used to at home. Maybe as a young adult you hit a new restaurant and previously unknown intensity is pulled up from your startled gut. Perhaps dining out with a foodie friend finds you at a “real” restaurant that serves food that someone actually picked and cooked for you. At the time, a sudden taste rolls onto your tongue setting off a chain of events. Your breath is quieted or momentarily stopped. Your eyes close, and for a moment you lose touch with where you are and your surroundings. All sounds stop and taste takes over queuing the brain center to ask, what the fuck is that flavor? Slowly breath is released and if you are even the least bit in touch with yourself, you realize that you just had a pivotal food moment or as some call it, a foodgasm. Indeed the excitement recedes being tucked away into the far corners of your food center until something comes by to trip it and you remember and if you are anything close to me, you absolutely must recreate the flavor. I’ve had many experiences with flavor that I loved and noted. My Mom’s Satsuma plums, canned off the tree. Her rhubarb stewed with sugar and draped over ice cream. A and W root beer floats from the actual A and W on Contra Costa across from the drive in. Salisbury steak at Grandmas and divinity she brought to our house at Christmas time. Awesome food memories all, but not pivotal moments. My first hard core pivotal moment came when I was 15 and for some inexplicable reason, my parents took me, with my aunt and uncle but none of my other siblings, to hotel Mac in Point Richmond. Having been granted permission to order anything I wanted, alone unbelievable, Filet Mignon with Béarnaise caught my eye. Prawn cocktails with sweet, plump beer steamed shrimp resplendent in spicy ketchup and horseradish sauce commenced the meal. Huge, crisp salads, drowning in blue cheese dressing, cheesy garlic bread, crusty, crunching in your mouth as it melted, deliciously followed. I was already stuffed. As the formally clad waiter started dropping entrées in front of us, my nose caught an unidentifiable scent causing my mind to reel and my blood to start pumping. We had a lot of kids in my family and filet mignon did not ever, not once, start on any menu in our home growing up and I had no idea what to expect. With an underwater quality my knife poetically slid through the beef, slipping into the puddle of Béarnaise and I was curiously mesmerized. As the perfectly medium rare bite glanced my tongue followed milliseconds later by the smooth, thick sauce I became sensuously overloaded. My heart stopped and my head filled with nothing but taste. All portions of my tongue were alive and excited. Unconsciously I started to hum, almost turning into song. Slowly chewing the buttery piece of meat I realized that something incredibly special had over taken me and there was absolutely no thought of going back. Tarragon became my favorite herb. Even now as a devoutly non red meat eating food freak, I can taste that meal and tarragon is always growing in my garden. I recreate the flavor as often as I can, using crazy combinations that totally delineate from filet mignon with béarnaise but always raise the same kind of excitement with similar flavor combinations and mouth feel. Pivotal food moments are just about equal to a splendid sexual moment. Foodgasm. Is that crude or realistic? I choose real as they or so basically connected in my everyday life and I believe the everyday lives of everyone that chooses to feel the food feelings. I have just this moment finished making Satsuma plum jam and canned a mess of plums from my plum tree that I had to purchase as soon as I bought my house to recreate splendid childhood memories of my Mom’s fabulous foods. Tops are popping, each time causing excitement in my tummy as I hear it. It means it worked and I did it right. Of course it becomes anomalous, vanilla bean and cinnamon stick along with crudely refined turbinado sugar to give it a caramel kind of taste and lots of lemon in the jam to give it a sweet tart tongue experience. One of my favorite candies to this day is sour gummy worms. Pivotal food moments. We all have them and they all must contain an element of delusion to create ultimate excitement but are real enough to create impact. It is how we and what we do with them that differentiates us. Summer time is probably the best time of year to faithfully fulfill childhood memories and longings due to sheer volume of seasonal foods. Go with it. Be a kid, be true to that precious moment and close your eyes and feel. Satsuma Plum Jam 8 cups chopped Satsuma plums 3 tablespoons fruit pectin 2 cups turbinado sugar 1 tablespoon vanilla extract Peel and juice of 1 big, juicy lemon Heat plums in a deep, heavy pan that won’t scorch. Mix ½ cup sugar with the pectin and stir into plums. Bring to a complete rolling boil that you can’t stir down and add the rest of the sugar, lemon juice and vanilla. Bring back to a rolling boil that you can’t stir down. When you reach that point, set your timer for 2 minutes and boil for 2 minutes. Turn off heat and place into sterilized half pint jars. Close lids tightly. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Makes 8 half pints.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

RIP Marion

Marion Cunningham has made her way to the great, wonderful, perfect kitchen in the sky to be with family and friends that got there before her. I love my life but the thought of that kitchen up there does keep the fear of death at bay for me. Marion was an internationally known chef and author having been friends with Julia Child and James Beard and was known and respected far and wide for her revamp of the Fannie Farmer Cookbook. But she was also a local gal who lived in Walnut Creek and mentored lots of us budding chefs in the area in the 1980’s and 1990’s. I was fortunate enough to be one of them. When I bought my restaurant, Haute Stuff in downtown Martinez from Kate Miller and Jeff Jelton in the late 1980’s it was Marion Cunningham who gave me the nerve to branch out on my own. I had done my much anticipated week at Chez Panisse after graduating from the California Culinary academy in 1987. Having had that week on my dream list since it had opened in my teens, I was beyond excited and nervous to do it. It was not a good scene for me. I was relegated to a corner in the basement shelling beans and actually had my tool box lifted before being told that I was not a fit for the French place because I had not been to Europe and did not have any knowledge of that kind of cooking even though I had been cooking professionally for 13 years before graduating as a classically trained French chef from CCA. I was instructed to go next door the new American, down homey type restaurant where I would probably be a better fit. I was devastated for about 10 minutes until I went down the street and interviewed at said restaurant. It was Marion Cunningham’s along with others and she and I hit it off immediately. I hated to drive on freeways and over bridges and she said that she did as well but if you got drunk enough it was easy. Then she joked about overcoming alcoholism as well as phobias and that I could as well. I related to her deeply jokes aside and was grateful for her personal insights. She instructed me to “not let anything stop you dear, life is too short”. A year or so later I bought the restaurant I was working in, Haute Stuff, in Martinez. She came in and then her friends started coming in. She told me things I should and should not do. She told me I had talent and was a born cook. She brought the Contra Costa Old Guard Culinary Brigade in, Ken Wolf, Narsii David and Maggie Crumm, who were all equally supportive of our little venture in a refinery town and opened many doors for me that previously were shut tight to young women chefs at the time. Years later I worked as a special events person for farmers markets and she was always the first to sit in the market and sign copies of her books when I asked her to. Anything to help the farmers markets succeed and linger. She was adamant about teaching people to cook and getting them to sit down together. In writing her Learning to Cook book, one of her last, she told me that she brought people into her house everyday to have them learn what a kitchen was , what a knife was and how to use it, how to work an oven, how to follow a recipe and how to sit down and eat with each other. She did it with patience and a single minded drive to get people back to the table together. She felt that it was going to save our species if we all ate at least one meal a day together. She was right about that and many other ideas and opinions she held. Marion will be missed by the culinary community as a great contributor to the art but she will also be missed by me as a great gal that encouraged me when I was down and will always be listed fondly as one of the few amazing cooking mentors I have had in my life. Happy cooking doll and I vow to keep doing my best to get people to cook and eat at a table together. Carry on.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

another sunny day

So dry….going to have to water again. Although mercury is reading pretty low, it is alluring enough to want to be outside all day working in the yard or the school gardens with sun on your back and the earth in your hands. I do love the satisfaction of clipping things with sharp clippers. Trees that need pruning, roses that have succumbed finally to cold weather while fooling only myself that it is ok, clipping the dead frozen ugly detritus left hanging over tender new growth that you are not supposed to cut to protect said new growth but sometimes it just happens as I look incredulously on at my gloved hands in motion as my compost bin fills, again.
Our full moon has been pretty amazing this month leading me to believe that it has to be a good time to throw some more seeds in the ground and separate bulbs for late spring and summer blooms. Carrots, chard, kale, onions, broccoli raab, broccolini, cabbage, mustard greens, snow peas, sweet peas, lettuce, arugula, watermelon radishes, parsley along with other herbs and plants are thriving in the College Park and Diablo Day organic gardens. As I gaze hungrily upon the astounding hues of greens, blues, reds and gold contrasting with reddish brown compost and mulch in my gardens, it gives eye candy a newer, sexier meaning if you are into the dirt, food porn, garden thing. Toss in a heartbreakingly blue sky and you have a perfectly visceral kind of day where you feel your nerve endings singing joyfully….except for the fact that we have had a lot of them good days due to no rain which is not good. I was reading about uncontrollable floods and crazy rains in Texas this week. Isn’t that something that this past spring we were inundated with rain and snow and Texas was experiencing their worst drought in decades and now they are under the rain cloud and we just keep on partying under blue skies?
Usually when it is this chilly there is rain or some low, hazy clouds drearying up the place so all I want to do is be inside curled up with my cats reading and making soup. Because it is so cold I am still manically making soup…..everyday…I have the cleanest reefer this side of Hawaii where it is so warm they don’t want to make a lot of soup all the time there by cleaning out all the veggies from the reef. So far my favorites are extremely simple and so tasty I am left craving more. Once I get on a thing I stay there for awhile too. Anyone else do that? I am loving vegetables of the green and leafy varieties and am really just sort of simmering them with chicken or veg stock and cubed sweet potatoes. Everything chopped up, thrown in pot, covered with stock, simmer until softish, season with Braggs Amino Acids, done. Bizarre yet wonderful if you are of the hot/cold ilk is the soup poured over chopped fresh Napa cabbage, arugula and lettuce mix. Squeeze lemon juice over and drizzle with amazing olive oil. California hippy girl pho. Take it a step further and fry or poach an egg or two very soft and drop on top of all. When the yolk opens into the concoction it creates the magic sauce that yolks are well known for creating a slurper who does not give a shit if found with egg on her face.
Made some pretty incredible protein bars for a health fair this weekend. My son tasted them and very dead pan serious said “these cannot be good for you”. They are! Vegan and gluten free with brown rice syrup for the sweetener. Even my dad like them. Saying a lot. You can cut whatever size you want. They are really great for taking with you when you know you are not going to be able to eat at the right time before the growling, low blood sugar thing hits. Also better than any junk food for a snack. Just like those kale chips!! Peace and white light universally my friends.

2 cups sunflower butter or peanut butter or half and half, available at your health food store or Trader Joes
1 c. organic brown rice syrup (whole foods)
4 scoops Arbonne Vanilla all-vegan protein powder ( I used ½ vanilla and half chocolate protein powder and you can use any kind I just use Arbonne cause I like it and peddle it to knowing friends)
2 scoops Arbonne fiber booster (also can use any fiber powder you like)
4 cups organic brown rice crispy cereal
¾ cup good earth tea or any tea you like but I love the cinnamon taste here. Most importantly is to get that liquid in there. It could also be almond milk or whatever your imagination dreams up

Mix cereal, protein & fiber.
Heat syrup, tea & nut butter until liquefied.
Pour over cereal mixture.
Turn out evenly into a 9X13 dish. Press it down evenly. I used a little baking roller to get it distributed evenly and flat.
Refrigerate at least 1 hour before cutting into squares. You can cut whatever size you like. I did one to two bite sized pieces. Keep airtight and refrigerated. Will last really well for a week or so then they tend to get a little dry but are still very tasty.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Where did that come from??

Uncharacteristically quiet, after a month or more of holiday noise, the pounds have appeared in the form of a weird feeling padded middle ring around my waist and inner thighs with warmth retaining fat. How did that happen?? Wasn’t I paying close attention?? No, wait, that was November and now it is January. The month of atonement for food sins as it were. I may have gone a little over board here. We had a challenge at my gym, Step it up Studios in Pleasant Hill, to see who could do the most classes between Thanksgiving and New Years Day. It seemed like a good enough time to crank up the almost 54 year old metabolism so I jumped in with both feet. And won. I did almost 70 classes between those days. It was pretty crazy because I was hip deep into holiday catering too. Worked out though and I am sporting the new athletic shoes that were the prize to prove it. Not being content with the win I am still going to as many classes as I can and started going to a brand new strength training thing with a child teacher once a week. Being an already pretty in shape person who hikes the surrounding hills a lot I figured I got this. After the first half hour my lungs felt like they were coming out of my chest. It does pay to cross train. It also pays to clean out your system once in awhile. Holidays do something to my already wacked out mind and for some reason I feel it is ok to devour a lot of cookies and candy. And cheese and crackers. And wine, lots of wine, bubbly, red, white, whatever with maybe a martini or two just for the holidays thrown down the gullet. Maybe Baileys and coffee, but wait, I don’t drink coffee. Whatever….it’s the holidays.
Cleaning out to me means going paleo. No dairy, no sugar, no gluten. What do I eat then you may wonder if there is a you out there that is even reading this. I have a protein shake with water, protein powder, fruit of some kind, frozen spinach, a few almonds and blitz w/ ice. Tastes amazing and is a filler upper cause it is big. Works perfectly for a morning work out person or a morning donut and coffee on the way to work person because it will stay with you for a few hours. I eat a big salad with lemon juice and olive oil dressing and another protein shake for lunch along with some kale chips to take the snack edge off and act sort of like a crouton gluten thing without the bloat. That usually will last another few hours to get me through until 3 or 4. Then I have another big salad this time with garbanzo beans and avocado and cukes, whatever I have but with some protein on it, a huge portion of some kind of sautéed greens that I actually sort of steam in chicken or veg broth and then the broth from the greens. I always drink copious amounts of water but also that Good Earth tea. I’m addicted to it and drink it all day long. I hope no one tells me anything bad about it….If I feel I need anything else I have a Satsuma mandarin or some berries if they are good at the farmers market still which at this date they weirdly enough are. By getting all this in before 7 pm I always get clean and lose a few pounds to boot. I have been cleaning out for almost a week and not only am I human again but I actually have a small pimple on my chin…toxins leaving…aaahhhh. I will do this for 28 days to make my habit because I am a sugar junkie and need to retrain that beast every once in awhile and show her who is the boss of what…or who…or whatever.
Sounds fanatical you say but if you do a good organic shop at the farmers market and get some good organic broth and meats, best if it is wild caught fish or something pretty clean, organic chicken but the message is really that if you want to make a change in your life, cause this will change your life….you will feel better, look better and have better sex, is to make a plan and follow through with it. It is only 28 days or as long as it takes for you to gain control again. Did I mention that alcohol is not a really good thing to have for this month either?? Oh well just buck up and get off the nipple for a minute and it aint nearly as difficult as getting off the sugar. Actually the first time I did this a couple of years ago the hardest thing to back away from was cheese. I did lose a good 30 pounds though and have kept it at bay by pretty much trying to keep it at an 80 – 20 sort of thing. So 20 percent of the time I let the cheese, sugar and wine get in but I do feel it in my body when I succumb. I guess I just disconnected through December with my absolute drive and determination to get those shoes… that I get to using them now. Happy New Year.
Saturday January 7th there is going to be a health fair at my gym Step it up Studios, it is not my gym it is where I go to work out every damn day, and I will be doing cooking demo’s with the kale recipes below as well as a fun little protein bar I made. Lots of other vendors as well as some zumba and booty beat classes and weight training tours etc…
Step it up studios Health fair
2685 Pleasant Hill Road # b and c from 1 to 4 pm
925 348 1735

Sautéed Kale
Separate and wash 1-2 bunches kale
1 T olive or coconut oil
¼ cup vegetable stock
3 cloves garlic - chopped
Slice kale into ½ inch pieces
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in sauté pan over medium heat and toss kale in pan. Sauté 3 to 4 minutes. Add vegetable stock and finish cooking until kale is limp but still colorful. Season with sea salt to taste. Drizzle rice vinegar over to taste if desired,

Kale Chips
Preheat oven to 300
Tear kale 1 bunch of any kind of kale into chip sized pieces, separating from the ribs as you go. Wash kale and spin dry in a salad spinner so that oil will adhere for even roasting. Toss with a small amount, 1 teaspoon or so, olive oil and season w/ sea salt. Place kale chips on parchment covered cookie sheets and bake for 12 to 17 minutes tossing chips ½ ways through to redistribute on baking tray. You can use any seasonings you like on the chips before baking as well as salt. Nutritional yeast is a great alternative to salt and adds a wonderful flavor as well as nutrients.

Fresh Kale Salad w/ Pomegranate Arils
1 large bunch kale of any kind, sliced and washed
1 tablespoon olive oil
Juice and zest of 1 to 2 lemons
½ cup arils
1 Fuyu persimmon, sliced
1 bunch green onions, sliced
Sea salt and pepper to taste or Braggs Amino Acids to taste
Toss kale, arils, persimmon and green onions in a large salad bowl. Drizzle on lemon juice, zest and olive oil and toss well. Season w/ Braggs or salt. Let sit a few minutes to gently “cook” the kale for a few minutes or up to an hour before serving.