Monthly Archives: August 2014

Three Summer Chips

What is it about summer that makes me want chips? Needing salt or needing simple, casual meals? This summer I’ve been working on some chip recipes that’ll make those packaged, greasy potato chips obsolete in your pantry. All of these are dehydrated in a dehydrator.

Kale Chips
This is my favorite kale chip recipe. It came from the cookbook Eat Raw, Eat Well by Douglas McNish. I’ve tweaked the instructions a bit. (I always have to make a change!)

Ingredients
2 cups raw cashews, soaked for at least 30 minutes, then drained and rinsed
1 pound of fresh kale
1-1/2 cups filtered water
½ cup chopped green onions, green part only
1 teaspoon dried dill weed
3 cloves garlic
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons fine sea salt

Instructions

1. To prep the kale, wash it and starting at the bottom of each stem, strip away the green leaves. Tear into small pieces. Transfer the leaves to a bowl.

2. Massage the leaves for about two minutes to break them down so that the sauce sticks easily.

3. In a high-speed blender, combine the other ingredients to make the sauce.

4. Add the sauce to the kale and massage it in to cover the leaves.

5. Spread the kale onto solid dehydrator sheets in a single layer and dehydrate at 115 degrees overnight. Check them in the morning loosening any stuck leaves and flipping any that are wet. Continue to dehydrate as needed.

6. When dry transfer to an airtight container, such as a large glass canning jar.

The books states that they store for up to seven days, but I’ve stored them for months without spoilage. Just make sure that they are completely dehydrated so they don’t mold.

kale chips in jar
Tomato Chips
These are super easy. Just slice up some Michigan tomatoes and place them on dehydrator sheets – start out with the solid sheets with mesh sheets on top. Sprinkle them with salt and dried basil. As the tomatoes become less juicy, remove the solid sheets, so they dry on the underside. Dry them until they’re fairly crispy – but in the end they will be a bit chewy no matter what.

 

tomato slices to dehydrate

BBQ Zucchini Chips
Inspired by a bacon substitute recipe by Adam Graham of Camp Rawnora, these chips are a great, spicy replacement for potato chips.

Ingredients

2 10-11 inch zucchinis
½ cup coconut aminos
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup dried tomatoes
½ cup coconut palm sugar
2 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Instructions
1. Soak the dehydrated tomatoes in the coconut aminos, apple cider vinegar, and olive oil for one half hour.
2. Cut the zucchinis into thirds, and then slice them lengthwise with a mandolin, food processor, or steady hand. (I used #2 thickness on the food processor.)
3. Mix all ingredients, except the zucchinis, together in a blender to create the marinade.
4. Marinate the zucchini pieces in the liquid for one-half hour.
5. Place zucchini pieces on dehydrator trays with solid sheets (to catch drips) topped with mesh sheets. Brush extra marinade on pieces and sprinkle salt on top.
6. Dehydrate overnight. In the morning remove the solid sheets leaving them on the mesh sheets, and turn the pieces over.
7. Dry them until crispy – which could take another 24 hours.

bbq zucchini in dehydrator
Chomp. Chomp. Chomp.

LEARN TO EAT LOCAL

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Canning Tips

cherry st mkt with Michigan local tomatoesWell, it’s canning season, people! There are plenty of farmers markets and farm stands all over Michigan, so get on out there and make your purchase. Now’s the time to get started – and see my tips below. Learn from my mistakes.

There are two kinds of canning procedures: water bath and pressure canning. For water bath canning you need a very large pot with a rack in the bottom. It will typically hold seven glass canning jars. With the filled jars in the pot, the water is boiled for a specific length of time to process the food.

A pressure canner is an appliance that traps steam to process the food using the pressure created. Low-acid foods, such as green beans and beets, require higher sterilization temperatures, and this is accomplished with a pressure canner.

CANNING TIPS
– Start each season with a small canning project to get over what I call Canning Amnesia. It is easy to forget the process.
– Know how long the project will take – and plan extra time. Canning a bushel of tomatoes could take 9 – 10 hours.
– Wash the produce the night before, so you can get right to canning in the morning.
– Be sure to take a break to stretch and rest your hands if you are peeling a large amount of produce.
– Don’t put the large amount of peelings in the disposal; it will most likely clog.
– Wear shoes! Canning is no time to risk spilling boiling water on your feet or slipping in socks.
– Be flexible with your attitude about the results. The project might not look how you envisioned it but will probably still taste good.
– Have a set of towels of various sizes specifically for food processing. They will get stained.
– Don’t boil the canning lids. This is mentioned on the manufacturer’s literature.
– Wipe up spills on the range top immediately so they don’t crust over while the burner is on for hours.
– Have an oven mitt for each hand.
– Other than a light touch to verify that the jars have sealed, don’t touch them for 24 hours.
– Wipe up juice splashes immediately to prevent staining of surfaces.
– Think about how much of a fruit or vegetable you will use. Don’t make extra unless you wish to give it away.
– Canning is NOT for young children. Engage them in how delicious the food is or in a freezer jam project. Teach them to can later in life.

WATER BATH CANNING TIPS
– Follow the directions from a canning cookbook (or on the pectin package if making jam). Purchase a book written by the canning jar manufacturer.
– If you end up with filled jars that are not going into the canner, don’t put the citric acid in them. Uncooked citric acid is very tart.
– If you are cold packing tomatoes – use juicy ones. The paste-type tomatoes will not fill up the jar in the end unless they are especially squished down into it.
– If the jar does not seal, put it into the refrigerator or freezer right away. Eat the food within a few days if refrigerated.

PRESSURE CANNING TIPS
– Know which produce must be canned in a pressure canner and which can be canned in a boiling water bath.
– The first step is to read the instructions for the pressure canner – AND follow them completely.
– Do NOT try to remove the cover or anything on or attached to the cover while there is still pressure.
– Determine the appropriate cooking time; prep the canning jars, lids, and rings.
– Think about how you are going to handle peeling the produce. My book indicated that the beet skins would ‘slip off’ after 15 – 25 minutes of boiling, BUT they started to loosen after 45 minutes of boiling. Then, I read online that using a butter knife to cut the ends off of the beets and push the skins off was helpful. I found it so.
– You could can meals such as chili or soups in a pressure canner. Time it with your normal meal prep for efficiency. But, the portions to be canned must go in undercooked, so that they are not mushy after the canning process.
– I found that when I added citric acid to a meal including my summer canned tomatoes – which already had citric acid – the food was way too tart. So after that, I left out the citric acid for the chili or soup that included pre-home-canned tomatoes.
– Canning cooks the food, so you need to put raw or only slightly sautéed foods into the canner. (This pertains to vegetarian food. Check your pressure canner instructions for meat.)
– If you are doing more than one batch in the pressure canner, have a book or other activity ready. There is a lot of time spent waiting for the canner to depressurize and then re-pressurize for the second batch.
– When packing starchy vegetables such as beets into a pressure canner, be sure to pack them down in order to have enough to fill the jar when the vegetables settle.

Go forth and can! It is very rewarding. And, can food with a buddy or teach others, because it is fun to have company.

Click here for my canning equipment recommendations.

Raw Lasagna Made Easy

raw lasagna recipe

When I first heard about raw lasagna, I was not sure I could pull it off. All of the different sauces made the recipes seem complex. As I started creating raw meals, I realized that all I had to do was combine some of my knowledge into a stack called lasagna.

I keep it simple by gathering ingredients and them improvising as I stack them together. I stack the foods on each plate rather than in a lasagna pan – because that seems like it would be tricky during serving.

Below are the components. Just start with zucchini and use them in the middle as the ‘noodle’ layers. Then, end with the tomato slices. Since this recipe has sliced tomatoes and there are dehydrated tomatoes in the ‘meat’ layer, I don’t make a tomato sauce. Of course, you could if you wanted to.

Read through the recipe before you get started, because the layers need some prep time.

Cashew herb cheese layers:
1 cup cashews
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon dried dill
1/4 cup water (more or less, as needed)
Dash of turmeric, paprika and coriander
1/2 teaspoon Himalayan salt
1 garlic clove
Blend everything until smooth and very thick.

Zucchini Noodles:
Slice two medium zucchinis into thin strips, lengthwise. Marinade them in olive oil with a dash of salt for one half hour.

Walnut meat layers:
Mix together the following.
¾ cup coarsely chopped walnuts (soaked and rinsed if desired)
1 Tablespoon tamari, liquid aminos, or coconut aminos
1/3 cup dried tomatoes (soaked for one half hour to soften, then drain)
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
Chili powder to taste (start with ½ teaspoon)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil

Top Tomato Layer:
Cut two tomatoes into slices and place in dehydrator for one half hour to an hour to concentrate the flavors. Use these on the top of the plated lasagna.

Optional Pesto Layer:
Click here for my raw pesto recipe, and add a layer of that if you wish.

Top with raw parm-style cheese if desired:

Mix the following together.
¼ cup sesame seeds – ground in a coffee grinder to a small texture
¼ cup nutritional yeast
1/8 cup onion powder
1/16 cup garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt

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Flint and Fenton for Food

I’d heard that the Flint Farmers Market was fabulous, and then they moved! So, I guess it’s even better. Of course, I visited. And while in the area, I visited the Davison Farmers Market and met up with a friend from Fenton. As we dodged weddings in downtown Fenton, we stopped by Fenton Fire Hall for a MI beer, and had dinner at The Laundry.

On the way through, we stopped by a farm where my friend visited relatives as a child. Turns out it’s now the Holly Heritage Farm. The property is beautiful, and there’s a large community garden, a farmers market, and events.

Here’s what I saw while there.

New Site of Flint Farmers Market

New Site of Flint Farmers Market

Nature's Pace Organics

Nature’s Pace Organics

Michigan's Bounty

Michigan’s Bounty

Inside Flint Farmers Market

Inside Flint Farmers Market

Flint Farmers Market Bakery

Flint Farmers Market Bakery

Beer & Wine Store

Beer & Wine Store

Beer & Wine Store

Beer & Wine Store

Recovering from Road Trip at Willows

Recovering from Road Trip at Willows

Michigan Flour

Michigan Flour

Where I Ate Lunch

Where I Ate Lunch

Pickles at Flint Farmers Market

Pickles at Flint Farmers Market

Davison Farmers Market

Davison Farmers Market

More Corn!

More Corn!

Michigan Made Pretzels

It's Peach Season in MI

It’s Peach Season in MI

When you're in Holly, MI check out this beautiful heritage farm.

When you’re in Holly, MI check out this beautiful heritage farm.

Garden at Holly Heritage Farm

Garden at Holly Heritage Farm

Fenton Fire Hall Rooftop view with a Right Brain Brewery brew.

Fire Hall Rooftop view with a Right Brain Brewery brew.

Even the bookstore sells Pasties in Fenton.

Even the bookstore sells Pasties in Fenton.

Great Kitchen Garden at The Laundry Restaurant in Fenton

They even have a beehive at The Laundry Restaurant in Fenton, MI.

They even have a beehive at The Laundry Restaurant in Fenton, MI.

Bonobo is Coming

label prototypes

label prototypes

Drive along Center Road on Old Mission Peninsula and you’ll see a sign: The Bonobo is Coming. It’s adjacent to a partially-built building on a picturesque site.

A bonobo is a chimpanzee, and this is the newest winery on Old Mission. I took a tour with their marketing director, Heather Fortin. It’s owned by Todd Oosterhouse and celebrity couple Amy Smart and Carter Oosterhouse. Fortunately, Traverse City has virtually no paparazzi (that I’ve seen). The residents take it in stride when Michael Moore or Madonna show up in town. When you love Michigan, Grand Traverse is your go-to place, no matter who you are.

The winery is scheduled to open in time for wine harvest on the peninsula. They also have a Founder’s Club that includes invitations to special events, gifts and discounts, and lots of wine!

Located on 50 acres, this Chateau has its 2012 wines bottled waiting for the opening and several 2013 wines are about to be bottled. Chardonnay will be their flagship; others include Rieslings, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Cabernet Franc, and Pinot Noir.

They were helped out by their winery neighbors, Brys, Chateau Chantal, and 2 Lads, who made the first wines for them. Drew Perry (formerly Assistant Winemaker at Left Foot Charley) is the wine maker, and Josh Rhem is the vineyard manager. Their process will be as close to organic as possible (not certified organic), and they won’t use harsh chemicals.

There will be food service – with kitchens on both levels – which I think will make this a popular stop for tasters. The menus will include small plates and seasonal soups, salads, and wrap sandwiches. There will be locally sourced food and wine and food pairings. Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free food will be available upon request.

The building motif is rustic elegance while keeping sustainability in mind during design. Wood used throughout the tasting room and private party space came from three old Michigan barns. Even some light fixtures have a reuse story (see photo below). The wine barrel lights were used in Smart and Oosterhouse’s wedding. And, it’s the first winery that had to construct to stricter Michigan waste-water codes.

Bonobo staff will focus on wine education, and the building will include large windows into the production area. Tours with paired tastings will be available by appointment and the daily seated- tastings will provide a more relaxing experience with time to savor and discuss the wine.

Why bonobo? Well, Fortin told me that Smart likes the name because bonobo chimps are benevolent creatures. They typically don’t have conflicts. And the Oosterhouses like them because they’re easy going.

Bonobo Winery is getting a great start with this namesake, their eye on sustainability, and by creating a relaxing experience.

 

Bonobo Winery front

Bonobo Winery front

Bonobo Winery back

Bonobo Winery back

lights at Bonobo

lights at Bonobo

Bonobo Founders Club

Bonobo Founder’s Club

view from Bonobo Winery

view from Bonobo Winery

view from Bonobo Winery

view from Bonobo Winery

LEARN TO EAT (and drink) LOCAL

 

Sensory Treat Tour at Chateau Chantal

blind tasting at Chateau Chantal Sensory Treat TourHow much do the other senses contribute to the taste of wine? Here’s what I found out when I attended the Chateau Chantal Sensory Treat Tour in August. Our guide, Richard, has worked at the winery for nearly fourteen years.

First, he explained how to open up the wine. Swirl the wine in the glass. It spreads up the sides where it can evaporate quickly, and you can smell the bouquet of the wine. Take the air in through the nose and the mouth for the full effect.

In front of me were three black goblets – each one half ounce of different wines. We tasted and smelled each wine as instructed and took notes. Was it red or white? Aged in steel or oak? What were the flavor notes?

This was difficult for me; I’m such a visual person! And, although I know that red and white taste quite differently, I’ve never had to rely on a sense other than my eyes to distinguish. It did get easier by the third one.

Next, we were back to clear glasses but with our sense of hearing engaged. It was quite interesting to notice how sounds changed by perception of the wine tastings. The white noise was distracting; the cello provided low tones inferring there was less sugar in the wine. And, the flute provided higher tones inferring there was more sugar in the wine.

Then, the tour started. We sampled Chateau Chantal’s Tonight sparkling wine as we walked out into the nearby vineyard. We learned about how grapes are grown. A lot of the flavor of the wine comes from the earth, because the roots are 30-40 feet long. There are microclimates in vineyards where wine grapes grown taste different than each other.

We asked about the current growing season. The grapes in the area are behind in 2014 – much like everything else – due to the cooler spring and summer. The vineyards experienced substantial loss from the hard winter. But, 2013 was a great growing year, so there’s no chance of running out of that vintage anytime soon. There will be MI wine for drinking!

On to the wine production facility. Richard guided us on a tour and explanation of how wine is made accompanied by small bites with various wines. The bites featured different cheeses. The tour ended with a taste of Cerise Noir – a blend of red wine and cherry brandy distilled on site. This was paired with a chocolate dipped strawberry.

The Sensory Treat Tour was tasty and educational. It’s only $20.00 per ticket and runs twice daily. The tour runs mid-June through Labor Day.

We were given one of our two tickets for this event. However, the opinions in this blog are my own.

vineyard at Chateau Chantal

vineyard at Chateau Chantal

tasting at Chateau Chantal

tasting at Chateau Chantal

production area

production area

bottler

bottler

The Village at Grand Traverse Commons

Anytime is fun in Traverse City, but summer is the best. The lake; the breeze; the food! On a recent trip, I spent time at The Village at Grand Traverse Commons. This redevelopment includes a weekly farmers market, coffee roaster, winery, shops, and restaurants. The development of the State mental hospital started in the late 1800s, and it closed in 1989. The redevelopment of the property by Minervini Group started in 2000.

It turns out that the site was always a foodie site: The state mental hospital was designed to be self-sufficient and included a farm with animals for meat and milk and a large vegetable garden. According to their website, by 1910 the site had a greenhouse and orchards too. They were able to produce food for the patients, and the excess was canned for winter use.

Along with some exploration time and a wine tasting, I took the historic tour of the Village campus. The tour included some buildings, walking the grounds, and listening to our tour guide, Traverse City native, Joe Kilpatrick. It was as entertaining as it was informative. FYI: No, I didn’t see any ghosts.

Below are my photos of the tour and much of the grounds.

 

The Village in Traverse City

Current Residential Project

Mercato at the Village in Traverse City

The Village at The Commons Traverse City

The Village at The Commons Traverse City

The Village at The Commons Traverse City

The Village at The Commons Traverse City

The Village at The Commons Traverse City

Nice tile features in buildings

2014-08-02 18.12.46

tunnel

2014-08-02 18.15.53

steam pipe tunnel

2014-08-02 19.24.04

Left Foot Charley Winery

2014-08-02 19.04.31

wine at Left Food Charley

2014-08-02 19.23.37

The wood used for the tasting bar is made of old doors to patient rooms.

2014-08-02 19.24.39

great bike rack

New Restaurant – Spanglish

Cheesecake!

Cheesecake!

Higher Grounds Coffee

Higher Grounds Coffee

Weekly Farmers Market

Weekly Farmers Market

Pleasanton Bakery

Pleasanton Bakery

Trattoria Stella - the anchor!

Trattoria Stella – the anchor!