Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Raw Kale Salad: A Green Time of Year

Today at the farmer's market a guy that I don't think that I know directly asked me if I'd seen any bok choy at the market. I said, "No" because, I hadn't.

Then he asked me if I'd seen chard, and since I was right at the Triple T Ranch and Farm booth, I pointed to the basket of Swiss chard. He went over to it, and I remarked, "Why don't you use kale, there's lots of it here today?" He walked away and I have no idea what he did.

But I know what I did, I bought collards and 2 different kinds of kale: dinosaur and Red Russian and made a raw kale salad. This is certainly one of my favorite winter salads when the greens are sweetest. There are many variations on this but this is my current favorite. I think that this will change when the vegetables change with the seasons.

The Veggie Queen’s Raw Kale Salad
Serves 2-4
This is easy to make and you’ll get a great dose of greens. Use your favorites types, put in extras to suit your taste. The only limit to what goes into this salad is your imagination. When you massage the greens, be sure to add the love.

2 bunches kale, collards or other greens, washed and spun dry
2-3 teaspoons raw tahini
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1-2 teaspoons miso (my favorite is South River Miso – brown rice or or mellow white works well) or Bragg’s liquid amino acids
1 teaspoon agave, or more to taste
1 apple, sliced thin, julienned or grated

Remove leaves from large ribs and slice thinly. Put into a large bowl. Add the tahini, lemon juice and miso. Put your hands into the bowl and massage the greens until they are wilted, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the agave syrup and apple. Stir well to combine. This tastes best when eaten immediately.

Note: you can also add sunflower seeds or dried fruit to this salad, or go more savory by adding crushed garlic and sliced onion and omitting the apple.

Notice how the greens shrink by about half when they are massaged with the tahini, miso and lemon juice. If you are eating this by yourself, make half a batch at once.

Let me know how you like this salad by leaving a comment here on this blog, below, or sending me an email at jill at

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Mushroom Camp, Fancy Food Show, Then Life

Even though I wrote right here on my blog that I was going to bring my camera to mushroom camp, I managed to forget it. It's probably a good thing that I did because there was so much work to do that I would not likely have had time to use it. My friend Ellen snapped the one photo that I wanted of me with Saul and Moon Planits (aliases), featured here. It's not everyday that you meet people with such unusual names, but SOMA mushroom camp is that kind of place. If I'd had more time out of the kitchen, it's likely that I would have discovered other interesting people.

I actually managed to get out to a class taught by Christopher Hobbs, L.Ac. on how to make medicinal mushroom tinctures but it was just then that I realized that we had to count bowls which would hold all the darned condiments for our outrageously complicated-to-prepare-and-cook Asian street food meal, put together by Mycochef Patrick Hamilton, pictured with me below, in a pretty unflattering but "real" photo. So, sitting in a class didn't really work for me and I didn't make it out of the kitchen much but the meal got rave reviews.

We had an incredible team of volunteers, too many to mention so forgive me if I haven't included your name (you know that I adore all the volunteer "kitchen slaves"), who worked their butts off. Below is Andy ("The Toolman") Still and his wife Gayle. Andy brought his industrial strength Robot Coupe with more blades than I ever knew existed. That machine saved us from kitchen failure and melt down although we know now that those blades are very, very sharp. Nothing further shall be mentioned regarding this or any other things that needed nursing.

Included here is also a kind of dark photo of me with my dear friend Dee, who does incredible hand reading, and is a force to be reckoned with in the kitchen. All photos by my "right hand woman" Ellen. I know that I ought to have some food photos but those will hopefully show up somewhere else, like on the SOMA Mushrooms website but nothing yet (or I've just been too busy to check).

Sunday night I left Mushroom Camp in a heavy downpour (both myself and the weather), ready for my bed at home, and the next day working on writing assignments at The Fancy Food Show at Moscone in San Francisco.

I had hoped to see, and stay with, my friend Sonnie but the weather (still raining) and my mood (both a bit wet and bedraggled) didn't allow that. I walked the show floor all day, missing a number of interesting items as I was focused on my story leads about beverages and cheese (of all things). And, once again, I forgot my camera. I ought to have it somehow surgically implanted so that it goes with me everywhere.

I managed to test out the chocolates, grains, gluten-free products (in abundance), agave (how many kinds can there really be? At least 2, I found out - white and blue.) and popcorn. It looks like popcorn is the latest, greatest "new" snack food. At the end of the day, I was ready to head back home for a fairly quiet week of work.

And I got that for a few days until Thursday afternoon when my 16-year old son called to tell me that he needed a ride home and that he likely needed to go straight to the hospital to have his appendix out. So, I picked him up, took him to Kaiser Permanente and we spent 6 hours in the emergency room, minus a short time in radiology for a CAT scan to determine that, yes, he did need his appendix removed, an hour in surgery pre-op, an hour post-op and at about 3 am we made it to a patient room, where my uncomfortable son tossed and turned in a hospital bed while his exhausted mother slept in a most uncomfortable chair for a few hours. When I awoke, I drove home to rest for a while and gather my thoughts.

Son is resting uncomfortably at home now, and I had a most remarkable deep sleep last night. I guess that somehow hard work pays off and you never know what the reward will be. I am grateful for the little things -- health, sleep, air, a roof over my head, the sunshine, rainbows, and so much more. May your next week be less eventful.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Mushroom Time Again -- SOMA Mushroom Camp Approaches

Winter in Northern California is often like a big playground for those of us who are mushroom hunters. I consider myself part of the lot, although the days that I go out hunting have been limited in the last few years by working too much on "perfect hunting days". I hear the mushroom sirens singing but must ignore them all too often. One of my goals for this year is to get outside at least once a week with my eyes focused on the ground -- at least during mushroom season which lasts until around April, depending upon the weather. While this has not been the best year for mushrooms, it's a heck of a lot better than last year which, to me, was one of the worst that I can recall. (But I am fairly new to this endeavor -- with less than 10 years in.)

No matter what happens in the woods, SOMA mushroom camp takes place Martin Luther King weekend in Occidental, California. And I am one of the lucky people who toils in the kitchen, putting out a couple of wonderful mushroomy meals. I work with Mycochef Patrick Hamilton who does the menu, and I am the kitchen coordinator, or sous chef. This year, I fear that I may be in trouble with our Asian street food menu of 20 dishes that require many hands. But many hands we will have and if I can remember all the names and faces that go with the hands, we will have spectacular results. (Think about joining us next year, in the kitchen or not. It's an amazing weekend.)

My favorite part of camp is when I sneak out the back door to mushroom cultivation -- making oyster mushroom bags to bring home. You can see the results from one of last year's oyster mushroom bags here.

This year I will have my camera with me and hope to get some people and mushroom shots, with the mushrooms easier to hunt down than the people. So stay tuned...

You never know what you'll find in the woods or in the kitchen.