Saturday, December 27, 2014

Chanterelle Secrets

First, pork chops in chanterelle sauce . . .  but you will find other secrets tucked in the text . . .

I don't even cook or eat like this anymore.  (Photos are from 2003!)  Red meat, mammals, are rarely on my plate.  And when they are, its either buffalo or wild game, and usually just a taste.   However, I do love me some chanterelles!  One must be very careful when gathering wild mushrooms.  There may be a mycological society near you.  Joining and attending forays, as well as purchasing some good books is the best way to learn.

Personally, I find chanterelles benefit from slow moist cooking in a slightly acidic medium.  These photos were taken way back in 2003 when I was still living on the rez, so I don't actually remember the recipe. However, I suspect the liquid is a combination of home canned tomato juice and home canned broth.  Scallions are in evidence, which are likely catawissa onions, an indigenous top setting onion that produces incredibly flavorful scallions during the winter in mild season areas.  It is very hare, however . . .

I also like dried chanterelles, I can eat them like candy!  We used to have racks around the wood stove for drying.  Another fabulous way to use them is smoked.  If you have a smoke house designed to take racks at the top, try slicing your chanterelles 1/4 inch thick or less, and smoking them for about 12 hours.  I prefer punky alder wood that has been rotted by turkey tail mushroom, with the addition of dried black berry stalks and leaves.  (Now I am giving away my secrets!)  If the mushrooms are not crisp dried by then, bring them in finish off their drying in the house.  While still crisp and warm, place in clean dry canning or other jars with air tight lids.  When you want to add some smoke flavor to a sauce of any kind, use a small mortar and pestle to powder your smoked chanterelles.  You just need a tad--they pack a powerful punch; 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon will do for most any recipe.

There's the finished dish, and really, it makes me cringe.  LOL . . . not just the pork chops, but that dead looking white rice. (Their commods, the BIA's plan to finish off the job the army had begun.) On the other hand, that broccoli is something I used to grow that I really liked.  It was billed as white sprouting broccoli, and you can see that it wasn't entirely white.  It was productive, perennial, and much tastier than it looks.  The seeds were from Bountiful Gardens, but they don't seem to carry that variety anymore. 

Just in case you are wondering what caused me to start digging through old photos.  It's, well complicated.  I, we really, I am not the only one, are using tons of photos from Wikimedia Commons for Boycott for Peace's blog and memes.  Reciprocation, I was taught, is the highest moral law.  So I am reciprocating by sharing photos.  Most of them are for their photo challenge themes, which is a competition of sorts.  And I decided, when the rules for the challenges allow older photos to used, to dig back and see what I might share.

I don't have the best camera round, nor do I expect to get the best shots in any category.  I am not playing to win.  Sharing, however, makes the world a better place for all of us.  And that may be one of the best kept secrets on the planet.  It is a secret that we all should be shouting loud and clear.  Or better yet, just put it into practice!    There is something that you have, that you likely have more than what you need of.  And if you are creative, you can find a way to share it that not only enriches the recipient, but that is also enriching for you.

Meanwhile, some of those photos fit the theme of 'Real Food,' and 'Secrets,'  and at least in the case of the first to posts, they have some small connection to the garden (fennel and catawissa onions), so I am sharing with you all as well. 

That's all for now . . .  but if you have questions, tips, or recipes, please feel free to leave them in comments.  I seem to have started to post here sort of on a regular basis.  I don't know if that will continue, we shall see! 


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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Coconut Berry Delight!

This easy elegant desert is fancy enough for the holidays and it is completely natural, high in fiber and protein, with no added fats or sugars!

Simple, Vegan, Healthy!

For each serving you will need:

Coconut, dried & shredded --  scant 1/4 cup
Allspice,  dried & powdered -- dash
Chia seeds, raw, whole -- 2 teaspoons
Berry nectar or juice -- 1/4 cup +
Optional, fennel sprigs for garnish
Individual desert cups or 4 ounce jelly jars

Mix dry ingredients (coconut, allspice, & chia seed) for each serving in individual cups or jars. Gently pour juice over the mixed dry ingredients and give it a few minutes to soak in.  Stir gently to evenly moisten coconut mixture, adding a little extra if necessary.  Cover (the little canning jars come in handy for this) and let sit for 4 - 6 hours to jell, or over night. If the weather or your kitchen is on the warm side, you may want to let it sit in the fridge, in which case the jelling will take up to 12 hours.  Once jelled, it can be refrigerated for up to 12 hours before serving.

Serve in cups or jars, or invert on to a serving plate.  If inverting, use the back of a wooden spoon to pat into shape if needed.  Garnish as desired and pour a tablespoon of berry juice over the top for that haute cuisine effect.

Go Organic!

All my ingredients (except the garnish) came from Azure Standard, and they all are organic!  Azure Standard ships by truck and UPS all over the continental US, so if you live in the 'lower 48' and can get UPS delivery you can get organic!  I use their bilberry nectar, which I really like, but any juice or nectar can be used. If you canned or froze your own fruit nectar, that would be awesome!  Concord grape, cherry, or purple plum would be equally delicious . . .

Fermentation Nation!

I pro-biotic preferment my bilberry nectar, in the fridge, right in the bottles they come in.  I started out, a number of years ago,  with a pro-biotic fermented juice product that I really liked, however it is no longer on the market.  I simply poured out 1/4 cup of the freshly opened juice, and poured in 1/4 cup of the bottled fermented juice as starter, and put it in the fridge for a couple of days. When the fermented juice product was no longer available, over a year ago, I switched to using a 1/4 cup of my last batch to start the next batch.  If you have a favorite raw pro-biotic fermented juice product and you want to try fermenting your own juice, the one you like would probably make a great starter.   If you don't have a favorite,  when visiting your local co-op or health food store ask them if they have any pro-biotic fermented juice products. There are many different strains of fermenting starters and they all give a different flavor to the end product, so taste testing is best.  However, you can also buy or order starters for home fermenting.

The only possible risk, that I know of, with home fermenting, is the possibility of  catching a wild culture that may cause spoilage. It is even remotely possible to catch something that might make you sick. With this in mind, it is important to keep your kitchen and your fridge clean and free of spoiling food, and to take the compost out frequently, so you don't have a source of mold spores or other organisms that contribute to spoilage. Reading a good book on fermenting is also a good idea for beginners, your local health food store or co-op can probably recommend something that focuses on what you want to ferment.

I use home fermented bilberry nectar to make my Coconut Berry Delight.  The fermented nectar is thicker and the flavor is more complex and intense.  The thickness allows one to use slightly more nectar and still get the end result to jell and mound on the plate. The intensity of the fermented berry flavor nearly completely overpowers the much more subtly flavored coconut. 


Hey, I've been here twice this week!  I probably won't be keeping that up, but I will stop in once in a while.  There is really a tremendous amount of information here on gardening as well as a little on cooking and food prep. 

Guess what?  Speaking of gardening, fennel is in season in most mild climates right now.  If you don't have it out in the garden, you can probably find it on a well stocked produce counter . . . .

Meanwhile if  you have questions or tips to share, please feel free!


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