Thursday, July 31, 2014

Delicious Farmer's Market Fare

Beautiful Summer Color!

During the warmer times of the year when all the luscious summer produce is at the peak of perfection I make most of my food preparations during the cooler parts of the day.

Today I visited the farmer's market and brought home arm-loads of produce.  Today I found organic tomatoes, yellow squash, cucumbers, snap peas, fresh peaches, strawberries, wild sage honey, fresh black figs, corn on the cobs, yams and sweet potatoes.

Fresh peaches and strawberries make the BEST late afternoon snack btw.

When I am not in the mood for salad I often make a pot of soup.  Tonight I am making a wonderful Italian Minestrone.  It is one of my favorite soups and is chock full of beautiful farmer's market vegetables and beans.

When I team this soup up with a slice of sourdough bread it is wonderfully satisfying - a regular meal in a bowl.

Tonight my neighbor Suzanne is making a sourdough pizza on her outdoor grill.  Now that is a great idea - and she is going to send a slice to me!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

~ Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival ~

Today I attended the fourth annual Fermentation Festival in Santa Barbara.

The Fermentation Festival, which was held at Fairview Gardens, is all about revitalizing traditional food preparation methods and promoting local food and farming.  Right up my alley.

Making my way between the Pickled Pavilion and the Fermentation Station for various classes as well as stopping to chat it up with local vendors and purveyors of such sundries as kombucha, kefir, kimchee, pickles, olives, cider, cultured veggies, sourdough bread, and even cultured salami and meats, my taste buds were kept in a fairly constant state of excitement.  I was especially thrilled to finally taste my very first Jun ever ~ which is a somewhat magical and, up until now, elusive elixir which is brewed from green tea and honey and which is reputed to have devotees that sing and chant to it.

On a personal note: the absolute biggest highlight of my day was winning the Screaming Pickle Contest ~ not once ~ but TWICE!   I won in two out of three categories.  My blood orange beet kvass won in the beverage category and my catsup won in the fruit category.


I came home with all sorts of new alchemical accoutrements and I am looking high and low ~ even checking out the closets  ~ trying to find space for more ferments.  The finicky ones especially need to have just the right conditions.

The top two photographs "Two First Place Awards" and "Screaming Pickle Contest" which were taken at the festival are compliments of Ashley Renee - food photographer.  Ashley Renee can be found at

The bottom two photographs "Pickled Pendants" and "Fruit Catsup and Blood Orange Beet Kvass" are compliments of Dan.



Well-prepared food is like yoga ~ both energizing and calming ~ good food nourishes the body because it is wholesome and it nourishes the soul because it tastes so good.

As many of you know I work as a personal chef, teach cooking classes, am the creator of Serene Cuisine, and most especially am passionate about preparing delicious, healthy, gourmet meals.  I believe that the freshest and finest ingredients are essential to good health and good cooking.

When I prepare food I think a lot about the energy in the food and how I can help prepare it so that our body and the environment come into greater harmony.  Eating local food and shopping at farmer's markets are two great ways to help our bodies maintain optimal health, withstand stress, and stay well adapted to our environment.

This next month I am very excited to have the opportunity to combine two of my favorite things - yoga with Mina and a delicious summer repast made with love by me.  

You can be sure that the meal I serve will be balanced and in harmony with the summer season ~ creating a flowing and dynamic state of health, energy and well-being.

For more information check out Soul Body Yoga at

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

~Summer Soda Days~

Today was one of those auspicious days when all the stars line up in the kitchen.

Last night Dan and I harvested elderberries.  The elderberries were so darn ripe I had a shower of them falling on my head.  Buried in berries?

I knew when I got up that I would have about 3 plus pounds of elderberries waiting for me.

I knew today would be a big kitchen day.

I began my day by making a pot of lentil soup.  This particular soup is an old favorite of mine that I have been making for the last 35 years - and I never tire of it.

After soup-making I bottled a batch of grapefruit, chamomile, cardamom kefir soda.

Then I prepared 8 bottles of beet kvass and played around with ginger and orange juice flavorings.

Then I prepared 6 bottles of kombucha.  I flavored the kombucha with elderberry syrup from my freezer stash, ginger, and lemon.

Then I started the next gallon batch of kombucha and put it in the cupboard.

Then I felt sorry for the baby kombucha that was left so I brewed up all the tea I had which happened to be green tea with a touch of white tea.  I have no idea how this will turn out.  Especially since I didn't have any starter from the previous batch to add to it because I didn't know I was going to be inspired to start a second gallon.  So I quickly read online about what to do and I added 1 1/2 c. distilled white vinegar instead of 1 1/2 c. of brewed buch.  Then I covered it with a tea towel and rubber band and set it in the cupboard with its brother batch.

Then I ate lunch.  Thank goodness I had some lentil soup.

Then I cleaned everything up.  I always carry towels out for fear of cross contamination of cultures - which is always a possibility - and started a load of laundry and I loaded the dishwasher with all the dishes I had used for same reason.  All kitchen surfaces were scrubbed with vinegar solution.

Then I began phase two of my day in the kitchen and I have been buried in berries ever since.

Elderberries take a lot of TLC because you have to pick them off the stem.  They are bubbling on the stove right now.  I should have enough to make a savory elderberry catsup and a jar of jelly for Dan.