Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Veggie Queen Makes More Raw Pie and the Delight of Ripe Fruit

Since the local cherry season has concluded, my next raw pie is likely to be nectarine or peach. Today I bought the slightly bruised fruit, which means that it's really ripe and ready to eat, to use for slicing, freezing and making more raw pies. Funny how the fruit was in fairly decent shape when I bought it but by the time that I got it home in my plastic bag inside my big farmer's market bag, it was kind of squishy. So, I had to do a lot of quality control to be sure that the fruit was still edible. OMG, it was so good that I think that I ate a lot of it in the process.

What I want to remind you is that your food will never taste better than what you started with, and this seems to be most evident with fruit. You cannot likely purchase really ripe fruit at your supermarket so find a farm stand, a farmer, farmer's market or CSA that can provide ripe fruit in season. It can't be beat. You don't even have to make raw pie with it.

But if you want to make the pie you can get some almond flour from Angie at Imade a small pie and used 1 cup almond flour and 2 tablespoons agave syrup. I mixed it and pressed it into my pie shell. I then made cashew cream. Don't ask for specifics at the moment, at my computer is still indisposed. Top with the fresh fruit and a drizzle of lemon juice (which was unncessary with the cherries as their cut sides were down). I would also like to try this with halved apricots.

I have go now as I am getting ready to drool on the keyboard. Oh boy, do I love summer fruit.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Raw Cherry Pie, Vegetarian Summerfest in Pennsylvania and A Crashed Computer

As I prepared to leave town, I had an abundance of cherries so I made raw cherry pie. You would see the photo here but my tale of woe, in Pennsylvania, is that right before my talk on Mushrooms as Medicine (wish that you could protect computers with mushrooms), my computer was attacked by a virus. But back to the raw cherry pie.

I made a crust with almond flour and agave nectar. Next I made a raw cashew cream with just a bit of vanilla extract and orange zest and spread that inside. Next came the sliced, pitted raw cherries with the cut side down. And that was it. It looked beautiful and tasted great. And I really did take a photo but that has disappeared into the ether, at least for now.

I headed off to Johnstown, PA on a Tuesday night and arrived very early Wednesday morning. But my suitcase took a detour to Phoenix and Omaha (now why would you want to go there? I asked). It arrived at 2 a.m. 1st lesson learned -- always pack what you might need for the rest of day in your carry-on bag. I survived just fine, as I bought a toothbrush.

Everything seemed to be going great at the conference, which I will post about separately later, until Saturday when the aforementioned computer crash occurred. And still, it's not been the end of my life -- just a big bump on the current path.

People ask why I'm still smiling when a big chunk of my work (My mantra now involves the words "back up") seems as if it might be nonexistent? My answer, "What are my other choices?" So, I am smiling and enjoying life to the best of my ability. And I am very able.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Another Company Gobbled Up -- Say Goodbye to Larabar

It is with great sadness that I just read that the company that makes Lara bars was acquired by the organic arm of General Mills. I am not one who embraces corporate acquisition as it tends to put profit motives ahead of good, wholesome and pure products. I could be wrong but I am skeptical. And I truly have embraced Larabars despite the fact that they are incredibly calorie-dense. Even with that said, I must say that the bars have more than once come to my rescue as I travel.

I, in fact, have a few tucked away in my carry-on bag right now as I head out to the East Coast for Vegetarian Summerfest. When you are traveling, you never know when or what you'll get to eat, so...

I can only hope that since Lara herself will still work at the company, she will insist that they treat her namesake with respect. We shall see.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

More on Cherry Picking

I met motivational speaker Tom Mitchell, Ph.D., who co-authored The Winning Spirit with Joe Montana, this morning at the farmer's market just as I was ready to leave. He is a former basketball coach and explained that cherry picking has something to do with a defender hanging back and making an easy play. Thus, cherry picking is when it's easy to get to the cherries. And I definitely had that happen with my cherries yesterday. The picking is the easy part -- the pitting, freezing, drying and canning take more work and planning. But I am still thrilled that I got to do it.

Now, to get to work on that raw cherry pie. I'm pretty sure that I decided to do it with some cashew creme as the filling in the nut crust.

And I am going to try out a new appliance that I received recently -- hint -- it has to do with pressure cooking. All good stuff but not as much fun as standing by a tree cherry picking.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Cherry Picking Home Grown Humor

I have been picking cherries with my friend Ellen a number of times in the past week. Most enjoyably we spent a couple of hours doing this just a few days ago and then for another hour this morning. This morning's picking on Ellen's neighbors' roof yielded about 40 pounds of cherries in a hour. (Wow. Thanks Ellen.)

I can't think of a better way to connect with your food than by picking it with your own hands. There is something about the repetitive motion and the silence in the fields, punctuated with the sounds of buzzing insects and birds, that brings you back to your primal self. I have said it before and I repeat it, "I am a gatherer, and I love it."

I also enjoy dealing with the fruits of my labor and figuring out the best thing to do with surplus. The choices are eating fresh, cooking, canning, drying and freezing. For many things, eating fresh is best but eating too many cherries can be painful. What I mostly do is freeze them but drying would be good, too, although I must get a dehydrator. Think that I will look for one on Craigslist or Freecycle.

Today I am going to make raw cherry pie with an almond agave crust. Yum, yum. (If it turns out great, I will share the recipe in my next post.)

On a completely different topic, this morning I went to buy something for the potluck for the last day of school for my son. I paid by credit card and the young woman laid a napkin down on the glass case and said, "These slips are funny and it's easier to sign them like this."
I said, "Not ha ha, funny, right?"
She replied, "No, they have no sense of humor."

"You obviously do," was my retort.
She shot back, "I grew it myself."
"That's really good," I said, as I fumbled for a dollar to put in the tip jar. Humor like that is priceless but the dollar would have to do.

You know how much I love the connection with growing things, and you can't beat home grown humor, or fruit for that matter.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Tomatoes -- Eat Local, Buy Local, Grow Your Own

As a follow-up to the tomato announcement of last week. The Progressive Grocer reports:

Salmonella Tomato Outbreak Spread to 16 States

Latest word from FDA is that retailers should only sell cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, and tomatoes sold with the vine, no matter the source.

The government agency said consumers should not eat raw red Roma, raw red plum, raw red round tomatoes, or products that contain these types of raw red tomatoes unless they can be sure the tomatoes are from Arkansas, California, Georgia, Hawaii, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Belgium, Canada, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Israel, Netherlands, or Puerto Rico.

FDA told consumers to contact the store where they bought the tomatoes to confirm the products’ origin. “Consumers should continue to eat cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, and tomatoes sold with the vine still attached, or tomatoes grown at home,” FDA said. FDA said its recommendation do not apply to cherry, grape, and tomatoes sold with the vine still attached, from any source.

FDA recommends that retailers, restaurateurs, and food service operators not offer for sale and service raw red Roma, raw red plum, and raw red round tomatoes unless they are from the sources listed above. Cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, and tomatoes sold with the vine still attached, may continue to be offered from any source.

Since mid April, there have been 145 reported cases of salmonellosis caused by Salmonella Saintpaul nationwide, including at least 23 hospitalizations. States reporting illnesses linked to the outbreak include: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. Salmonella Saintpaul is an uncommon type of Salmonella. (End of their report.)

This is just another reason to know where you food comes from and know the people who are growing it. Or grow your own.

Everyone needs to learn how to grow at least one plant. And if it could only be one, then a tomato is a great start. Especially in light of this recent disturbing news.

Friday, June 06, 2008

FDA Issues Tomato Warning -- Grow Your Own

I just read that the FDA issued a warning in New Mexico and Texas for tomatoes because there has been an outbreak of Salmonella Saintpaul, a more unusual strain of salmonella. The report which I read on Food Navigator News says, "Since late April, 57 persons infected with Salmonella Saintpaul with the same genetic fingerprint have been identified in Texas (24 persons) and New Mexico (33 persons). Patients range in age from 3 to 82 years, and at least 17 persons were hospitalized. No deaths have been reported", said the US CDC.

They aren't sure if the salmonella is linked to a grower, a packing plant or is geographical. What I'd recommend, as usual, is that you grow your own tomatoes or buy them from someone that you know. Shop the farmer's market when possible. So if there's a problem you know that you can go to the straight to the source.

My guess is that there won't be problems. Remember that buying from the industrial food chain seems to be part of a recipe for disaster. And likely, you will have better tasting tomatoes, the closer that they are grown to home. Out the back door may be best but if not, get them from someone you know who is close by.

Summer tomatoes -- oh, joy.