Monday, February 24, 2014

Joyful Living In Ecological Awareness

Hello Foodie Cooks, Farmers, Urban Homesteaders, and Followers, 

It's 2014, and I am coming up on the four year anniversary of Foodie Out Of The Closet Blog. I clearly started this endeavor in February 2010 with my Foodie Manifesto, and it has been a fun adventure of videos, audio podcasts, meeting new people (farmers and makers) in the community who are passionate about sustainability and the future of our planet.

I hope you don’t mind I quote myself.
After finishing my graduate degree at John F. Kennedy University in psychology, and practicing for a few years in the community, I fell into an emotional slump. I was reading and watching many films about the demise of our planet, and was seriously passing through Eco-Anxiety. The most productive phase of this Anxiety Disorder is when you become an active spearhead to bring awareness to the community. I quit my job and began doing my Foodie Out Of The Closet blog, incorporating all my love for cooking, food, farming, and planet awareness. I set out one morning to interview the local vendors at my farmers market, in Oakland.

This time of reflection has brought me right back to focus on the new home my husband and I have begun to invest our energy into. It has been such a long time coming, that we are able to live our lives as we imagine it, gardening where we grow as much organic food as we eat, raising chickens, collecting our own rain water (California drought permitting), solar powering our home, among others things such as living minimally and as gently as possible on this precious planet. This home has not only been a great blessing that we have actively manifested, but also a lot of work! My husband just finished installing wood floors, which was no easy job, for one person. Of course, I provided the lemonade, the meals, and the supportive remarks! Next project will be to remove the two satellite dishes on the roof from previous owners, installing rain gutters, followed by building a fence to give us more privacy in our back yard, and immediately following that, building a chicken coop! 

This brings me to raising our baby heritage breed chicks, and the losses that become little thorns of change in our lifestyle. Raising your hens is a bit of double edged sword. For one thing, we are being more sustainable because we are not driving to the farmers market which thankfully lowers our carbon foot print, we are recycling wasted food from our own kitchen, they are wondrous fertilizers and bugs eaters, lovely pets, and moreover we are more self-sustaining; but at the same time, there will be this loss of community in not visiting with our local farmer Mr. Ledesma at the farmers market and talking about his farm and the growing seasons, most of all buying his delicious eggs. It’s a tricky balancing act, and obviously the positives outweigh the losses, but let’s not ever imagine that we can do urban farming completely isolated.
Top to bottom:
Myrtle - Black Australorp
Pepper - Plymouth  Rock
Mrs. Rhodes - Rhode Island Red
Goldie - Cochin Bantam. 
Our business is now directed to a local homesteaders shop called Pollinate Farm and Garden  in Oakland, California, for baby heritage chicks, organic baby chicken feed, wood shavings, grit, and other necessities of raising chickens at home. We are certainly engaged in the community, like never before, as I will be sharing our back yard chicken eggs with friends and strangers in the community. For example, with the Home Depot salesman who cut wire fencing for me without charge as he found out I was raising baby chickens in an incubator, only if I brought him back some fresh eggs in a few months. We will also be supporting local establishments like Economy Lumber that has great recycled wood pieces for our future chicken coop. We do our best to remain as local as possible. 

I used to want to travel endlessly (which I did), but now I just want to stay home, cook, garden, raise a little gaggle of hens, and write poetry and novellas. How things change in wonderful ways as we age?!  Being at home more, has allowed my imagination to run wild and come up with my newest historical fictional novellas, set in Colombia (Author's Page & available locally at Laurel Book Store). These are the benefits of living a settled life more in-line with my values, things perculate and one can become more focused or more invested in the future too, because I still believe that one family’s choice makes a difference when they add up to multitude of families making more informed decisions toward the future. This year, I look forward to more posts that reflect urban homesteading lifestyle, local gourmet food makers features, farmers interviews, even some wine makers, and perhaps more quiche recipes! May the spirit of joyful ecological awareness be with you and your family! 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Wooden Spoons Interview

Listen to the interview with owner Julie Gordon of, making delicious gourmet appetizers for your family and gatherings!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Turkey & Vegetable Soup

What to do with all those Thanksgiving turkey leftovers? Here is the perfect warming soup for all your cold nights.
Inspired by my mother, who remembers her mother making delicious soups in South America just like this one.

Here is the list of ingredients:

2 cups of shredded turkey meat already cooked
4 cups of chicken broth
4 cups of water
1 cup of carrots finely diced
1 cup of potatoes (without skin) cut in cubes
1 cup celery finely chopped
1 cup shiitake mushrooms finely diced
1 cup of peas
1/2 cup of onion
1 cup of wild rice(uncooked)
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1/2 cup of cilantro finely diced
Salt & Black pepper to taste

Pre-soak the wild rice in a bowl with a cup of water while you prepare the ingredients. Using a large cooking pot, first add the 4 cups of chicken broth, onions, carrots, potatoes, celery garlic cooking on medium high heat. Turn heat down to medium low and add wild rice, peas, and mushrooms. Stir the contents of cooking pot. Add 3 more cups of water and salt and pepper, bring to another quick boil, and immediately lower heat to a  simmer with lid half off for 15-20 minutes.

Serve in bowls and add a bit of cilantro. I like to serve this soup with a sides of garlic bread.

This recipe serves 4 comfortable.

Happy Leftovers!

Soup on the stove.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Blue Chair Fruit Co. Interview

Listen to Tarabud interview of Rachel Saunders, owner of Blue Chair Fruit Company. 

All about jams and marmalades made from organic and local vendors in the Bay Area. 


Saturday, September 28, 2013

Ledesma Family Farm Interview

Hear the interview of Noel from Ledesma Family Farm, selling fresh organic produce and eggs at the Grand Lake Farmers Market in Oakland, California. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Williamson Farm Interview

Williamson Farm Hass Avocados
Hear Tarabud interview Lauren, representing Williamson Farm growing avocados out of Tamecula, CA. Interview at Grand Lake Farmers Market, in Oakland, CA, 9/21/13. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Bootleg Bottling Co. Interview

Listen to interview of Bootleg Botlling Co. owner Dana Marlow speak about the pickling vs. fermenting process! Audio through Souncloud widget below.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Abundance Of Nature

Happy Summertime ! As the heat rises this weekend in all of California, all our agriculture struggling to stay on the vine certainly comes to mind! My simple garden is a microcosm of what is happening with our vegetables and fruits in the fields.  I have been watering like crazy, but still my poor apricots are getting scorched.  Last night after the sun went down, I decided to harvest my little apricot tree and can them.

Having a backyard has been a wonderful dream, but I have yet to find the perfect place to plant my tree in the ground. I found some of them on the ground already, and the tree was obviously happy I was taking her burden away. She gave birth to these beauties and now they would be recycled as nature meant them to be. We don’t even realize how abundant nature can be, how fortunate we are to reap her leaves, fruits, and roots, until we watch the cycle of life take place in our very own back yard.

Canning to me is like a meditation in our truth, in our human existence as we share it with other plants and beings on the planet, but also in the joy of building community. As I pick the fruit from the tree I give a heartfelt thanks to nature for all her giving. As I clean and cut the apricot harvest, I think about the bitter sweet fragileness of life. We are here then we are gone so quickly. As I stir the fruit with the sugar I imagine all the joy it will bring to those I share with. As I put the preserves in the jar,  I imagine bringing people together to share in a meal and the cycle of life filling us with nutrients from the earth day after day. Writing out the labels makes me think of the pleasing quality our expression in letters can awaken new ideas and hope in each other.
The process is very simple, yet profound on so many levels. Now that I share it with you I hope you are able to share it with others by making your own!


My 3.5 quarts was filled with apricots sliced thin. I added 1/2 cup of brandy (optional and will make it less liquidy), 1 package of pectin, 1 tablespoon or more of cinnamon and nutmeg, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. 2 cups of sugar, 1 cup of maple syrup. recipes call for more sugar, but prefer it with less sugar and more taste of fruit. Also, if you want a thicker preserve add more pectin.

My preserves are more for eating along side a savory, or toppings on ice-cream, or maybe a toast. I used scraps of paper from my Florentia letterhead. Find something you love and make it beautiful. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Oyster Mushroom Crostini

Lately, I have been a little obsessed with OYSTER MUSHROOMS. Did you know that... 

"Oyster mushrooms contain ergothioneine, a unique antioxidant exclusively produced by fungi, 

according to a 2010 study led by Penn State food scientist Joy Dubost. The study found that 

oyster mushrooms have significant antioxidant properties that protect cells in the body. A 3 oz. 

serving of oyster mushrooms contains 13 mg of ergothioneine, and cooking the mushrooms 

does not reduce this level. Read more:

This antioxidant affect is just a small wonder to the nutritional value they serve in your body. 

They contain significant levels of zinc, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin C, folic 

acid, niacin, AND B-1 and B-2. 

My husband just love them because it lowers his cholesterol.

Basically they are the wonder mushroom, and it is no surprise the Chinese have been using 

them for thousands of years as medicine! 

So here is a quick appetizer recipe to eat, enjoy & improve your health! 


1/2 pound of oyster mushrooms (approximately 4 hand fulls)

2 green onions 

1 tablespoons of butter

1/2 tablespoons of toasted sesame oil 

2 tablespoons of red table wine

1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper. 

1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder 

1/4 teaspoon of sea salt

2 Sourdough slices, or any crackers you can add oyster mushrooms. 

How to prepare

Begin by chopping the green onion. Next, chop the oyster mushrooms till they are bit size 

pieces. Turn the skillet on to medium heat and add the butter. 

Once melted, add mushrooms, green onions, wine, toasted sesame oil, pepper, garlic, and 

salt. Toss lightly for a few minutes. Should cook very quicly on medium heat. 

Toast your sourdough bread. Place oyster mushroom hot from the pan onto the toast, and 

Voila! Oyster Mushroom Crostini is served!

Enjoy with a small glass of red wine! 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Stuffed Peppers ~ Meat, Rice & Indian Spices

Moving to a new home has been exhilarating, exhausting, and so distracting to my foodie blogging. This weekend I was finally unpacked enough to feel creative in my new kitchen! I thought Cinco De Mayo Sunday should be special and colorful, and what a better way than stuffed peppers of every color~ green, yellow, and red!  

I hunted around Oaktown for organic peppers, since I did not have time to go to the local farmers market. Luckily, my nearby grocery store Farmer Joe's, has wonderful organic produce for this dish, and grass feed beef. 

This dish took a lot longer than I imagined, as I didn't presoak my black beans, and of course, you need to make the rice and cook the ground beef before you can stuff the peppers, not to mention the baking time. In the end it was all worth it. 

The wonderful secret to this recipe is the Indian spice combination that has gone unused in my spice drawer ~ Garam Masala. This spice is a combination of black pepper, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cardamom. The Garam Masala really complements the cayenne and the cumin that I cooked the ground beef with. The filling had exciting flavors and the peppers where a perfect vehicle for this dish! 

I served them with a side of black beans and some fried ripe plantain. Please enjoy these stuffed peppers, and amend the recipe as you need to make it yours! 


1 cup of white rice 
2 cups of water
1 table spoon of oil 
1/4 teaspoon of sea salt 

1/2 pound ground beef 
1/3 cup chopped onion 

1/4 teaspoon of cayenne
1/4 teaspoon  cumin 
1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder 
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup of water 

1/2 cup of Parmesan 
1/3 cup Italian parsley
1/3 cup of raisins 

Sprinkle of Garam Masala  

4 peppers 
1/2 cup of Parmesan 

How to Prepare: 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

First cook the white rice with oil and salt on medium heat in two cups of water. When water boils away and you can see top of rice, give rice a little stir, then place lid on pan and lower heat to low. The rice should be done in ten minutes from when putting the lid on it. Turn heat off when done, and let rice sit in pan until beef is ready. 

Prepare the peppers, chopped parsley, raisins, and 1 cup of grated cheese for later. Cut peppers in halves and take out the seeds and middle lining to make room for the stuffing. Place halves in casserole as seen below. 

At this point, you can start cooking the ground beef, onions, and the spices: cayenne, cumin, garlic powder, sea salt at medium heat. I like to add some water to my iron skillet while they beef is browning. Just a few dashes of water to keep things cooking well. (Iron skillets cook very evenly, and I highly recommend you invest in this pan for your kitchen.) Once ground beef is nicely brown and onions are translucent, you are ready to add rice and other ingredients, turn heat off skillet. The water should be cooked away at this point. 

To your cooked ground beef (ground turkey can also be used) add rice, raisins, grated Parmesan, parsley, and few dashes of Garam Masala.Toss this combination quickly and prepare to start stuffing. 

Fill peppers till they have little mounds. You will have plenty of stuffing with some left over if you stuff 4 peppers. Lastly, I added more Parmesan on top to of them all as seen below. Bake peppers in oven uncovered for 25-30 minutes and you see them nicely golden on top. 

Serve hot with side dishes to complement. 

Will serve 4 people.