Friday, December 30, 2011

Eating Winter Fresh in California

The great sunshine state of ours supported Native Americans for centuries with an abundance of year around fresh foods, not to mention the plentiful game from land and sea. Blessings abound while we eat our winter navel oranges, lemons, mandarins, and pommelos and East Coast localvores gaze jealously our way. Everything will be fine, because, if you didn't already know, California grows about 80% of the fruits and vegetables sold in the continental United States. Industrialized ways of farming do grow fruits and vegetables to a grand scale to our own future's demise. This isn't, as we all know, the best practice or "sustainable capitalism" ~Al Gore. If you are reading this blog you are probably familiar with the benefits of shopping at your local farmers market for seasonal veggies and fruits. The hardest part of being a true locavore is eating what is grown in 150 mile radius. Then the question becomes, how do you cook a rutabaga? It can be challenging and cooking local and seasonal does require a bit of experimentation to make things taste good. Below you will see that cooking rutabaga with a bit of olive oil, garlic, oregano, and a sprinkle of parmessan, can make your rutabaga experience delicious. For the winter I like to serve things warm, in soups, or hot dishes.

For winter you are sure to find the following vegetables at your local California farmers market with high nutritious value and hopefully grown organically.

Winter Produce:

Jerusalem artichokes
Navel Oranges
Winter Squash

Year around produce: 
Cooked Rutabaga
Belgian Endive
Brussels sprouts
Collard Greens

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Crab Bisque

Merry Christmas! I was surprised to have crab leftovers, and so I decided to make a crab bisque. If you don't have left over crab legs, your local sea food purveyor will have some shredded crab to add to your bisque. I had some carrots boiled in chicken broth from the night before. It was specially good with Husch Sauvignon Blanc I had gotten as Christmas present. This year we decided only to exchange edible items, which turned out to be so fun! This recipe was very easy and quick. It serves 4 bowls!


1 cup of shredded crab 
1 cooked carrot 
1/2 white onion 
4 tablespoons of butter 
2 cups of chicken broth
1/4 cup of half & half 
1 cup of milk 
4 tablespoons of flour 
1/2 cup of wine 
1 clove of garlic
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne 
1/4 teaspoon of white pepper 
Salt to taste

First fine chop the onion. Next fine chop the cooked carrots. On medium heat (3-4 minutes) saute the onions and carrots in two tablespoons of butter till onions are translucent. Place onions and carrots in to another bowl. Next on medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of butter, 1 cup of chicken broth, flour, whisking constantly so that it does not clump. Add, another cup of broth and continue whisking for a 2-3 minutes. Once flour is smooth in chicken broth, add carrots, onions, crab. Continue cooking on medium heat and add half & half, milk, spices, and garlic. Make sure, while cooking you are stirring your soup. Do not let the soup reach boiling, and continue cooking for at least 5 minutes. Lastly, I add the wine, turn heat off, cover with a lid, and let the soup steep for 30 minutes or more. This is when the flavors really come to life!
Have a Happy Holiday! 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Sajen Interview

This episode took place at New Taste Marketplace, a community market, held at St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church. It was also a fundraiser for The Food Pantry. Here Tarabud interviews Morsinah Katimin founder of Sajen, gourmet foods and healthy drinks. More information on Sajen: Jamu Drink.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Bacon Pear Brussels Sprouts Explosion

The brussels sprout, a member of the cabbage family, has never been my favorite vegetable. As my tastes have expanded and matured, I've experimented with various recipes and found them to be a delightful vegetable if cooked properly.  
Although named after the city in Belgium, few historians believe the plant originated there. Most historians believe the plant originated in ancient Rome. Brussels sprouts were first mentioned in writings of 16th century, but what was not well known was their health benefits. Today we know they contain good amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C, folic acid, and dietary fibers. The plant has other enzyme properties that help in the fight of disease. We can all use some of these delicious brussels sprouts to stay healthy!  I used this recipe as a side dish to our Thanksgiving celebration and it was a hit. This recipe can certainly be used for any special dinner you'd like to wow your guests. 

Recipe Ingredients: 

1 Pound of fresh brussels sprouts 
6 Slices of bacon 
1 Asian pear
4 Tablespoons of maple syrup 
1 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 Teaspoons of dijon herbs de provence mustard 
2 Teaspoons of soy sauce 
1/4 Teaspoon of cayenne pepper 
1/4 cup of water
Salt & Pepper

In a small bowl, whisk maple syrup, vinegar, mustard, soy sauce, and cayenne pepper. Set aside 
Cook bacon in a large skillet on medium high heat until done. Transfer the cooked bacon to a plate lined with paper towels to soak up extra bacon grease. 
Discard all but two tablespoons of bacon grease.  
Prepare brussels sprouts by cutting off stems and cutting in halves. Peal the pear, and cut into bite size cubes. break bacon up into bite sizes.  
Cook brussels sprouts in the bacon grease on medium high heat for about 5 minutes. I like to add a splash of water to help soften the vegetable. After water stems off and brussels sprouts are browned, add sauce and pears. Toss vegetables and fruit in sauce for 2-3 minutes. 
Turn off heat, add bacon, add salt and pepper to taste and toss once more. 
 I found it hardly needed salt. 

Happy Cooking & Eating Organic!  

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Turkey Pot Pie (After Thanksgiving)

What are you gonna do with the turkey leftovers? You're gonna make a delicious turkey pot pie with fresh herbs! This recipe is inspired by my husband who didn't want me to use any canned cream of mushroom soup for his turkey pot pie (Canned food warning). Thankfully this recipe has minimal salt because of him. Thanksgiving dinner parties at our home include many orphans who have no family near by, or no family at all, but they really missed the best part of all this festivity. This turkey pot pie should please any hungry lost urban soul who should stray to your home after Thanksgiving.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.


1 cup of shredded turkey 
1/4 cup peas
1 small  carrot
3/4 cup mushrooms

2 tbsp butter
2 leaves basil
1 sprig marjoram
1 sprig oregano
1 sprig parsley
1 sprig sage
1/2 small red onion

1 cup 1/2 & 1/2
3 tbsp flour
1/4 teaspoon salt & pepper
2 Pillsbury pie shells

First separate all the turkey meat from carcass. Save 1 cup of turkey meat shredding for your pie. Chop carrots, mushrooms, onions and herbs.
In a sauce pan, saute onions, peas, carrots in butter for a 2-3 minutes on medium heat. Next, add herbs, mushrooms, while stirring in 1/2 & 1/2 slowly, for 1-2 minutes. Lower heat to low, and add 1 tablespoon of flour at a time, mixing constantly. Last add salt and pepper. Turn heat off after 1-2 minutes.  This mix is done very quickly. Do not over cook cream. It should never boil.  Next prepare your pie shells. I'm not a pastry chef, so I use Pillsbury pie shells. See picture below.
Place meat in pie bed making an even layer. Pour sauce from pan on top of meat.
Next cut the edges of the extra dough to the edge of pie dish. Cover with another pie shell dough, crinkling in edges.

Last, with extra pie dough make a symbol for your pie. Here is my pie symbol.
Cook for 35-40 minutes. Basically long enough to bake the dough and have it turn golden brown.
Let it cool for 5 minutes before you serve to all your loved ones! Enjoy this pie, it serves about 4 people.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Chard On My Mind

The Urban Dictionary defines hipsters as "a subculture of men and women typically in their 20's and 30's who value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter." 
Oh Urban Dictionary, you forgot to include "must enjoy urban gardening, or at least the thought of it!" 
Local Butcher Shop, Berkeley, CA Meat Chart

In my mind, you are not a hipster unless you eat local and organic. A true hipster understands the importance of local durable economies that support healthy living. Call me radical, or in the minority for now, but I do imagine one day there will not be a choice between organic and industrially grown fruits/vegetables/meats. No distinction will be necessary, because obviously pesticides and chemicals used to grow our food, cause our cells to turn cancerous! Who can deny that reality? Perhaps, San Francisco will be the first to implement this into law, along with mandatory composting, ban on plastic bags, and recycling of cooking oil in all restaurants. Thank goodness for San Francisco's progressive thinking. It might scare some people reading this, because it will be a simple world, and you might actually have to grow your own vegetables in your garden or deck. 
Port of Oakland, CA cranes
Now I don't want to confuse you, dear reader, by bringing up the hipster and occupy movement in the same post, but somehow they are both swimming in my mind as helicopters fly overhead covering today's march from downtown Oakland to the quiet loveliness that is our urban Lake Merritt. It is the sign of our times that people are desperately searching for a better paradigm to urban living, a desire so strong that drives people to march in the streets. Sometimes, change is chaotic and makes no sense, but necessary to move people into some type of action. 

When the Occupy Oakland people marched all the way to the ports of Oakland, I wondered if they really knew what they were doing. Now, if they had done some guerrilla gardening in the huge expanse they stood in, I would have thought differently. As all eyes of the nation were on them, a statement about our food production would have been an incredible accomplishment! When I go by the Oakland Ports, I don't wish for more goods and cars to arrive from other countries, I imagine large expansive orchards and fields of edible green, yellow, orange plants growing. This vision is happening only after all the pollutants from the concrete and containers are cleared. So much pollution we cause to this planet that it's no wonder the climate is out of balance.
Baby Chard
When I mentioned action, I don't mean political, but taking matters into their own hands. We are not talking about how industrial farming has focused too much on profit and not enough on sustainable quality for ourselves and the planet, but yes we need to reinvent modern farming. Which reminds me of many friends that enjoy the pleasures of urban gardening. Urban gardening can be limiting in many ways because of lack of space, but it can be sustainable for focused people and communities that share visions of healthy eating. Take my small winter efforts grown in large ceramic pots. I treasure these lovely hardy winter greens. I even enjoy watching how gently and slowly they shoot up into the cold air. They require a lot of fertilizer since they are grown in pots, but they are most expressive when I add my own compost.  Look at this rich soil created by these worms. Compost contains macro and micro nutrients, and is full of healthy bacteria that break down organics (kitchen food scraps) into plant available nutrients.
Homemade Compost
What people in other countries wouldn't give for this rich soil in my hand. But in reality, composting can be done by all of people. Good work San Francisco, on making one the toughest laws in the nations - mandatory composting! (Now we need to get the City of Oakland on board.) From such rich compost the seeds, the plants, the fruits, the vegetables, and even the animals sustain their existence. The most basic building blocks are found in this soil, for all the hipsters, 99% occupiers, and even the1% of this grand nation; in this being of the same species, we must all eat! Buy, Grow Local, Eat Organic, Save the Planet.

Friday, November 11, 2011

My Veteran Will Eat Anything

In honor of Veterans Day, not to mention 11-11-11 binary amazement, and all the changing tides in the American people awakening to things such as guerrilla gardening, I want to mention how amazing my man is!
He has multiple talents and the compassion of a saint, but most of all, he eats whatever I put in front of him, no matter how experimental. What a joy for me!  He will put up with crispy rice, too salty of a salsa, overcooked meats, all because I am usually doing three projects at once in the house. He has been supportive of my experimenting in gardening, worm composting, and herb gardening in the window.  He suggested I make sauce out of my undesirable first tomatoes ~ great idea hon! How can I complain. He is an Iraq War Veteran and I guess this might play a little into him being grateful for the little things in life, like unmelted chocolate, a hot shower, and a good strong Knob Creek & Coke with ice. Most of all I am glad he is with me to see another bright day, unharmed physically, but touched spiritually by all he has seen and done. Back to the kitchen, something smells burning on the stove!

82nd Airborne Veteran

Paratroopers~ 82nd Airborne Mass Jump

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Uncommon Pickle Episode II

The art of pickling began 4000 years ago in India. Tarabud joins the artisans of The Uncommon Pickle as they continue the pickling tradition. Watch as they share their pickling secrets of organic produce, purchased from Temescal Farmers Market in Oakland, CA.  Also, find out the latest happenings from The Uncommon Pickle at: Twitter. Music in this episode by Sentinel.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Canvas Underground Dinner

Tarabud covers Canvas Underground Dinner created by Chef, Peter Jackson. He is part of the Ghetto Gourmet Guerilla Dining Network in the Bay Area. This event was called "Opera & Pickles" because it featured both, in his 4 course meal.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Bacon & Lemon Verbena Scones

You just can't go wrong with a savory scone that includes bacon! I was very inspired by my local uncured rustic bacon from Prather Ranch Meats. Also, I had been enjoying tea from my  Lemon Verbena plant. This deciduous bushy plant is Native to many countries in South America. Fortunately for us today, it can be grown as far up as Canada.

The taste palate is unwavering in its desire be "wowed". The Lemon verbena herb is a potent, sharp, fresh burst in your mouth. In my test kitchen, I tried different fresh herb combinations (chives and thyme, marjoram, marjoram and chives, and other combinations) with the bacon. Of course, my husband was very delighted to try them all.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit 

Ingredient List

1 cup of flour
2 Tablespoons of softened butter
2 Teaspoons of baking power
2 Teaspoons of salt

1/4 cup of whole organic milk
1/4 cup of  herb ~ Lemon Verbena
6 strips of thick cut bacon

Firs, cook bacon until it is crispy. I like to take the bottom of a jam jar to break up bacon into little bite size pieces. Second, chop herbs. Third, sift flour, baking powder, salt, into a medium mixing bowl.  Fourth, add melted butter and milk. If mixture is too dry, add a splash of milk. Gently mix with mixing spoon, making sure to add bacon and herbs as you go.  Fifth, with your hands, knead the mixture right in the bowl quickly. Do not over knead. 

Finally, take dough in your hand and mold into shape, placing on the cookie sheet. Place the cookie sheet in the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly browned. Let them cool, then eat warm. I would definitely serve them with a side of butter and a pickle. In the above picture I used a pickled cherry, by The Uncommon Pickle (found in the Bay Area). This recipe makes four scones but can be doubled to make 8 scones. Happy Fall and warm evenings with loved ones!  

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Uncommon Pickle Episode I

Tarabud joins the creators of The Uncommon Pickle as they shop for organic produce from Temescal Farmers Market in Oakland, CA.  Also, find out the latest happenings from The Uncommon Pickle at: Twitter. Music in this episode by Milosh, Canadian artist. Song "The World."

Friday, September 16, 2011

Farmers Market Episode 12

Interview with Olivia, owner of Tru Gourmet Dim Sum at the Grand Lake Farmers Market, in Oakland, California. She is one of the very few speciality vendors selling organic, sustainably conscious Dim Sum. Follow her on Twitter: @TruGourmet !

Tru Gourmet Dim Sum

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Farmers Market Episode 11

Interview of Triple Delight Blueberries vendor selling at your local Bay Area Farmers Market!
See previous post for my delicious Blueberry Mint Scone recipe.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Blueberry Mint Scones

Inspired by a lovely book I received from a dear friend in Ireland, today I bring you the summer Blueberry Mint Scone!  This weekend I interviewed  Triple Delight Blueberries vendor at the Grand Lake Farmers market (video in production), which is where I got my inspiration for this recipe. I also wanted to add some fresh mint from my garden, and it turned out to be just the perfect compliment.
The challenging part was making the right combination of ingredients. The writer did not have recipe for fresh fruit scones as these, so I really had to be creative. Here is the best combination of ingredients after much experimenting.
I used Bob Red Mills unbleached flour, Rumford Baking Powder that comes without aluminum, and unpasteurized raw whole organic milk and butter.  I think these choices made the scones extra fluffy and delicate. 
They are quick and easy to make once you have all the ingredient. I spent no more than 30 minutes total time.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit

Ingredient List 

1 cup of flour
4 Tablespoons of softened butter
2 Teaspoons of baking power
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup of powdered sugar
1/2 cup of whole milk
1/2 cup of blueberries
10 leaves of mint (approximately)

Take a cookie tray and line with parchment paper. Next sift flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar into a medium mixing bowl. Add softened butter and mix in milk. If mixture is too moist, add a dash of flour until doughy consistency, that is not too runny. Next add whole blueberries, and mint leaves that have been torn to smaller bites. Gently mix with mixing spoon. I kneaded the mixture right in the bowl, by covering my hands with more flour, or you can flour a flat surface and knead to bring dough together. Do not over knead. I took a cooking spoon, and make small cakes which I placed on cookie sheet. It made 7 medium sized scones. but if you scoop a smaller quantity, you can get double the recipe. Bake for 8-10 minutes if smaller, or 12 minutes if medium sized. Generally until lightly browned and cooked through.

Enjoy with tea or coffee for breakfast, or as an afternoon snack!  No adult or child can resist these Blueberry Mint Scones.

Happy Summer Solstice 2011 to you and family.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Beef Brisket in Crock Pot

I was walking around the farmers market near my house & imagining cooking in my crock pot. It must have been the slight chill in the air. I picked up some Prather Ranch Beef Brisket. The boys had sold out of pot roast and rump roast meats. I let fate take it's course. If you don't know about organic and humanly raised cows from Prather Ranch, you gotta see my video interview later with the owner. Purchased most of my vegetables from local farmers, Ladesma, Capay, Happy Boy Farms, who all have great produce. I was really amazed at Ladesma Farms red cabbage & those lovely red spring onions. Yukon Gold Organic Potatoes were from a conventional store, but still grown in California, which I was very glad about.

Then I got home and dusted of my crock pot. I hadn't used it since winter, but the weather was to be cooling and it would be good to be prepared for a nice warming meal. It's okay to use your crock pot in late spring!

Place your meat in bottom of crock pot and add the can of diced tomatoes, fresh is always better friends. I like to add pepper and salt and this point.
Chop all veggies into small cubes or moons. 

Place all veggies, except zucchini, which you can add later to the crop pot mix. I made the mistake of adding them in the beginning.
This is how lovely the vegetables look together in the crock pot before you place the lid on top. The best part about this meal is  doing other activities, while your crock pot is cooking a delicious meal.

Beef Brisket 1.5 - 2 lb
Diced tomatoes 1/2 lb or 1/2 Can 12 oz of Muir Glen Organic Diced tomatoes
5 cups of H20
6 Yukon gold potatoes
1/2 part Red Cabbage
4 carrots
4 zucchini
6 red spring onion
1 green pepper
1 bay leaf
1 TB oregano
1 TB powder garlic
1/2 Tsp of Cumin
Salt and Black Pepper to taste

Allow crock pot to cook all ingredients for about 5 hours on high. Add zucchini in last possible hour. If you are home, give a stir and move meat around so it gets the flavor of the vegetables. Taste again for proper seasoning.

Ready to eat when meat dissolves easy with fork. 
Enjoy with Family and friends!
Serve with rice or fresh baguette and butter!

Bon Appetite!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Durable Local Economy at Grand Lake Market.

"The logic is clear: in a world threatened by ever higher energy prices and ever-scarcer fossil fuels, you're better off in a relatively self-sufficient county or state or region. In a world increasingly rocked by wild and threatening weather, durable economies will be more useful than dynamic ones. And in both cases, the increased sense of community and heightened skill at democratic decision making that a more local economy implies will not simply increase our levels of satisfaction with our lives, but also increase our chances of survival in a more dangerous world." 
 ~Bill McKibben from Deep Economy,The Wealth of Communities and Durable Future.

Today I present you some items from Grand Lake Farmers Market, representing our local economy. Fresh produce, grown locally, vendors with handmade products & great talent.  It's the kind of community I am proud to be a part of. We move through our days and slowly our world seems a little bit more dangerous and tenuous, but then my spirit is lifted by the possibility of our community creating urban gardens, making their own soap, medicines, and generally becoming self sufficient into itself.  It's a beautiful thing and completely in line with how our future might actually look and feel, right after we have exhausted all our natural resources to move products around the world freely. We would need more of these: The Institute of Urban Homesteading. These lovely people, I encountered today, were offering classes in gardening, urban animal husbandry, food preservation, brecraft, herbal medicines, and much more. Many urbanites already have in place orchards, drought tolerant gardens, compost systems, chicken coops, mushroom beds, food forests. It's the first signs of a new paradigm around creating a new "durable economy" no longer focused on unlimited growth and economic hyper-individualism, but sustaining strong local communities and healthier physical environments. Here are the following blessings I found today.

  Tasty sugar snap peas grown by Happy BoyFarms.

Cherries that Joe Gotelli & Sons told me arrived a few weeks later than expected.

Fresh made Kettle Corn by The Gold Miners Kettle makers. 

Capay Farms had these lovely radishes

Tomatero Farms had the first of sweet strawberries coming into season.

Nancy Funk Ceramics made these Sumo Soaps and more. 

 Oulen Studio  made hand crafted items so lovely. 

Buy local, Eat Organic, Save the Planet!

Sunday, May 1, 2011


Happy May Day! May the spirit of the Pagans inspire you to bring in the flowers of May and celebrate the immense fertility of the Earth.  I was recently on a foraging expedition with an expert forager, Kevin Feinstein, a local wild plant forager & writer. In a wandering food expedition along the Contra Costa hills, he taught us how to recognize wild edible plants, how to prepare them, and how to respect them. For me it was a great awakening to the bounty of nature. So accustomed to the farmers market, I had not known the joys of what our ancestors had done long before we began domesticating plants. 
Every region and climate will have its own unique plants and therefore, this is will only be pertinent to North America, near 37 degrees latitude. What is most important for sustainable foraging is harvesting only 1/3 of the plant leaf or flower, and never pulling up the roots of delicate plants.  For example, we  found a lovely patch of Miners Lettuce (below).  This delicate plant is a winter green, which first appears as a spade shaped leaf, then turns into a full circled leaf. It’s best not to pull out the shallow root, so that it will return next season. It’s also best to cut the leaf at the base of plant with scissors.  This lovely lettuce has a buttery and delicate taste. I enjoyed a fresh salad with baby carrots and cherry tomatoes, topped with olive oil, salt, and fresh ground pepper.  This plant was very popular with the California 49ers, who ate it while on expeditions for their precious Gold; and therefore its local name. This delicate plant is nutritious and reseeds itself every year. How amazing is nature?! 

Learning about native plants gave me great insight into the Ohlone, this region's indigenous people, who foraged from the wild for over 3,000 years. The land was covered with great Valley Oaks (right), very large trees that produce acorns. The Ohlone were able to leech the harsh tannins of the acorn by placing them in the streams and allow the running water dissolve the tannin out. This precious seed sustained them and was their main staple. The acorns were ground down into a very nutritious paste. Their culture evolved around harvesting these acorns that did not always arrive every season, but when they did arrive it was a bountiful harvest for these people. 

I also encountered the California Bay Leaf bush (left), which is 3 times stronger than the European Bay leaf. The flower buds can be picked to make capers!  Cannot wait to try this.  The nuts from the fruit can also be roasted and eaten, but be careful as the nut has a strong caffeine property.
The elderberry is a wonderous plant for its medicinal properties as an anti-viral. The fruit can be harvested and made into jams, jelly, or frozen for a later idea.  Later in the summer, these buds (below) will be ready to harvest by gently shaking off berries from the branch. The berries are sweet and perfectly tart. It was also recommended to put the berries in Brandy or Vodka for a few weeks to make a strong medicinal tincture. Flowers appear in May or June, are cream color, and can be used for tea.  
In the foraging expedition Kevin warned of poisonous plants and never eating anything not recognized. The dreaded Hemlock plant, with purple blotches on stalk, being the very first plant that he showed us. This plant will certainly be the end of you if ingested; just as it was used for poisoning great philosophers and leaders. It is best to avoid anything that resembles wild parsley or carrot leaf plants, to be safe.   
Recently I heard on NPR, a conversation with an East Coast urban forager who was speaking about how to recognize edible wild plants growing in the City; but I would discourage anyone from eating plants near a highway, growing out of the concrete, or near a parking lot; as the plant will pull contaminants through the roots. It is always best to thoroughly wash off plants in cold water. Also, urbanites must be careful with the law, as some city parks do not support foraging; even some state and national parks discourage foraging wild plants for good reason. I suppose this is the reason we have organized farming! 

In your area, go out with those that have experience, Happy Foraging!