Saturday, May 28, 2016

Cherry Berry Delicious

Cherry Berry Breakfast
Cherry Berry Deliciousness made with farmer's market fruit - fruit that is so good it needs no accoutrement.  However today I jazzed things up a bit just for fun.  I spooned fromage blanc by Cow Girl Creamery and wonderfully tart Strauss Dairy yoghurt into a bowl of cherries and berries, swirled in local wildflower honey mixed with lemon juice and sprinkled ground almonds on top.

The honey lemon mixture really woke things up and brought out the full bouquet of flavor in the fruit.  This was a completely yummy way to start the day.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Farmer's Market Blooms

The Sweet Scent of Spring
Nearly summer - but we are still able to get beautifully fragrant sweet peas from the local farmer's market.  I buy them right up when I see them.  Sweet Pea's have a lovely lingering fragrance that pleasantly tickles the nose.  Snap dragons, sunflowers and baby's breath are other favorites.

Now a quick segue - a quick leap - to the world of edibles...

The above flowers, btw, are not edible.  (Only the seed of the sunflower is considered edible.) It is important to be absolutely certain that a flower or plant is edible before tasting it.

My interest in flowers, botanicals, herbs and such like does seem to marry up quite nicely with an interest in all things edible.  For instance, today I combed the local nursery for edible flowers to underplant and grow among the tomatoes, peppers and eggplant that make up my small potager this summer.  Nasturtiums are a favorite of mine because I like the way they artlessly mingle among other plants and I like their pleasant peppery flavor in summer salads.  Dianthus is another flower that is both colorful and edible.  Calendula too is simply brilliant.  I also like to harvest the flowering stalks of vegetables and herbs gone wild and weedy such as cilantro, chives, radish.  Yesterday I nibbled cilantro blossoms.  Tiny white flowers.  Quite tasty. Today I judiciously pruned the clump of cilantro, with an eye for it's beauty, and then chopped the clippings onto a chickpea curry at lunch.  It was such a simple thing to do, it only took a moment, and yet the cilantro improved my enjoyment of the dish immensely.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

~ Local Food Is Delicious ~

Eating Seasonal and Local
Hooray for local raspberries!  Yes - we grow local raspberries here in Southern California and they are in season right now.  I buy my berries at the local farmer's market in a three pack and they couldn't be more delicious.  Berries and yoghurt have become a favorite item on the breakfast table. What could be easier?

This meal is completely local and regional.  The Strauss Yoghurt is from Petaluma California.  The Grindstone Bakery bread is from Sonoma County. The raspberries are from a local farm and the elderberry syrup (made by me) is from my very own neighborhood.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

~ Farmer's Market Carrots ~

Flavorful Farmer's Market Carrots

So here is a plug for farmer's market carrots. Aren't they beautiful by the way?  Farmer's market carrots come in all colors and sizes - from slender and tender to thick and densely sweet.  Orange, yellow, coral pink reminiscent of that translucent quality one finds in summer melons, an exquisite color that is hard to describe, deep shades of purple, light buttery yellow, and white are some of the varieties I have found.

When I visit the farmer's markets I often buy multiple bunches of carrots from a variety of vendors and I have never ever found farmer's market carrots to be woody or bitter as is often the case, no matter how careful one is, with carrots bought at the supermarket.

One of my favorite ways to prepare carrots is to pan roast them whole until they are fork tender.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

~ Farmer's Market Find! ~

California Blueberries

Yes!  California blueberries!  I used to live in the northwest - premier blueberry growing country - but I have to admit these California blueberries are delicious!  Just picked (not shipped) and locally grown they are perfectly ripe, juicy and sweet. What could be better along side buttered toast, and a pot of tea?  A dish of yoghurt maybe?

This no-fuss French breakfast is just right for me while my arm is healing.  

Saturday, May 14, 2016

~ Fresh and Local Breakfast Favorite ~

Farmer's Market Produce

Nothing is more delectable this time of year - Fragrant and Delicious -  than local fresh strawberries.  Harry's Berries is a particular favorite.

Harry's Berries strawberries are so delicious that they need no further accoutrement than to eat them as they are.  Not even a sprinkling of sugar would add to my enjoyment of them.

This morning I had a local/regional breakfast of organic yoghurt, sourdough raisin toast, butter, a pot of ginger tea and the incomparable berries.  It was heavenly.

It is fun to forage and find delicious local food! Foraging is of my favorite hobbies!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Botanical Elixirs are Magical!

This spring I have been working with wild-crafted flowering native sage, rose, and elderflower.  Sometimes I throw in melissa or lemon balm.  The flavors are delicate, floral and very much alive.

M:  I love the sodas and I've noticed they seem tastier as they age....  maybe my imagination?

L:  No that is not your imagination.  The flavors continue to develop.  That is the true artisanal nature of these beverages and why they cannot be standardized into an industrial food system.  The flavors continue to change and become more complex over time.

Some folks won't appreciate that and will expect uniformity.

M:  I got home late last night and decided to drink remaining soda you made, but it was different and was perfect to my taste and absolutely divine!!!  It was almost like the soda was alive and understood exactly what I needed and gave it to me.  It gave me such a lift!!!  

Friday, May 6, 2016

~ Beautiful Botanical Beverage ~

Local Foraged Flower Creations

Keeping up my enthusiasm for all things fermented and all things local here is a photo of my latest creation.  This beautiful botanical beverage was created with flowers foraged right outside my front door!  I picked elderflower and rose petals on Wednesday morning in my very own neighborhood.  See the previous post.  Then I added lemon, filtered water, organic sugar and let it infuse over night.  The next morning I strained the liquid into bottles and tucked them away in a dark cupboard where they will develop a nice fizz.

 ~ Community Classes for 2016 ~

February 20th - Kraut and Kimchee Class

March 19th - Green Smoothie Class

May 6th - Today!  Kombucha Class

Stay tuned for more developments as I re-envision my work here in the Conejo Valley as a private chef.  Even though I have always been about fresh, local, organic - I would like to enlarge my vision and my work in order to build a stronger sense of community and vibrant food culture right here in my own valley!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Magical and Botanical Inspired Local Elixir

Elderflower and Rose Petal

In spring of 2010 when Carrisa and I concocted our first elderflower cordial it was love at first sip.  It tasted like something the fairies would concoct. Magic in a glass!

What I particularly enjoy about elderflower cordial, delicately floral and naturally effervescent, is that it is a wild fermentation that is deliciously local.  How much more local can you get than sipping the essence of flowers that grow wild in your very own hills?

Since 2010 I have moved to a new property and I was lucky enough to find a place that has elderberry growing on it.  This spring I have been making elderflower cordial.  I harvested the early flowers from the first flush that came on in early April and I have four lovely quarts tucked away.  As the elderflower season progressed I made a few more batches to add to my supply.  Because the cordials take about three weeks in a dark cupboard to develop right now I have cordials, in various stages, tucked away in all sorts of places to await our mid-summer celebrations.

This morning, even though I am running out of both bottles and cupboards, I made one last batch of cordial for 2016.  I decided to try something new.  I added Suzanne's delicate pink rose petals to the mix.   It seems like a match made in heaven.  I will keep you posted.