Garden Fresh

Getting fresh vegetables is so important.  The more fresh the vegetable or fruit, the more nutrient dense it will be.  Go to your farmers market, a farm stand or a restaurant that uses vegetables fresh from their kitchen garden.  It is so important!

Somtimes I forget how lucky I am to work in a restaurant that offers this. I also have 3 farmers markets in my area and many grocery stores that buy local produce.

Check out the below websites if you want to learn more about The Stanford Inn or gardening.  Clay my husband just started writing a blog!

http://www.stanfordinn.com

http://www.stanfordinn.com/vegan-cooking-intensives-2016/

http://ravensrestaurant.com

https://insightfulgardener.wordpress.com

 

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Creativity

How does one define creativity?  There are many shapes and forms.  When it comes to food and cooking however, creativity is very important.  Creativity is important because great cuisine is all about developing layers of flavor and color along with textures.  These things all contribute to the final presentation of a dish in which many occasions is comparable to a fine work of art.

In this photo below, creativity is represented in many ways.  It’s shown through the bright colors, the layering of flavors (or sauces) and different textures. All of these things contribute to the overall creative palting of this entree.  But how do we get there to this final beautiful work of art?  One of the questions  I am always being asked is, “where do you get your inspiration?” How do I get inspired?  Well, the answer is complex, because it is always changing.  Some days, I wake up with inspiration.  Other days, a student or a friend inspires me.  I might look at a really old cookbook or a recent blog post and get inspired.  The best way to spark an inspiration is to tune into yourself.  Everyone has an individual vision.  This vision, thought or dream is unique to oneself and when art is integrated with ones true self, creativity shines through.

The best way to spark a creation is to surround yourself with natural beauty.  Go to your garden, a friends garden or the farmers market.  See what is in season, buy something that you don’t normally buy and paly around with it.  Thumb through a cookbook or search a book or blogs on food photography and look at inspiring photos.  Buy colorful fruits and vegetables and buy more vegetables than you think you need!  Then when you go to prepare something at home, don’t use a cookbook, don’t go to google and type in what you want to make.  Create something new that has never been done before!

Sometimes, it may be helpful to spend a few moments writing down what you have in the fridge, freezer or garden that needs to be used. Make an outline for your meal by writing down what you have or need to use and what flavors you want to integrate.  For example:  I have Broccoli, an onion, garlic, sesame seeds and rice noodles.  Just those ingredients alone make me start thinking of an asian inspired dish.  So, I might grab some cilantro, green onions or coconut oil to integrate into my dish.  Or, I might grab some peanut butter, red chilies and tamarind to make a savory sauce.

Creating a dish like below does not take much that much skill, but it takes letting go of a certain outcome.  Be playful, get artistic and do something that never has been done before.  That is what creativity is!

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Inspiring children

It is so important to inspire children when they are young.  Getting kids to help in the kitchen can be easier than you think!  Most kids, want to be involoved with the cooking process. Infact, if you structure it right, you may be able to even get them to help with the dishes.

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Recently, I have been working with kids at a local Montessori school (Montesorri Del Mar in Fort Bragg CA).  I do a short cooking demo with them to teach them why it is important to eat healty and teach them about all of the vitamins and nutrients that occur naturally in plants.  In 3 hours, I help them prepare a meal which in turn they get to share with their fellow friends, students and teachers for lunch.  See the photo below to see how we set up the cooking demos and present the fresh organic vegetables and fruit to them.  This particular day was a demo on how to create your own salad and crudités with hummus!

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I love working with kids and helping them learn the art of preparing food.  In the photos above, we made a lemon cake because we had an abundance of lemons.  See below for recipe:

Lemon Cake

2 cups organic cake flour (fine flour)

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp pink salt

1/2 cup EVOO or Substitute sunflower oil

3/4 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup soy or almond milk

1/4 cup lemon juice

2 TBL lemon zest

Seasonal Berries for garnish

1 TBL agave

1 tsp lemon juice

Frosting, optional

Directions

  1. Combine all dry ingredients plu lemon zest and whisk well.
  2. Combine all wet ingredients in seperate bowl and whisk well.
  3. Add wet ingredients to dry, and whisk gently.
  4. Pour into two 8 inch cake pans that have been lightly greased.
  5. Bake at 350F for 15 minutes.  Check for slight browning. Insert toothpick and if it comes out clean, it is done!
  6. Cool.
  7. Remove cakes from pan.
  8. Slice berries thin and add to bowl with 1 tsp lemon juice and 1 TBL agave.  Mix well to dress berries throughly.
  9. Place first layer of cake onto plate.  Add dressed berries and place second layer of cake on top.  Finish with more dressed berries.  Chill.  Serve cold.

 

 

Chou schön or Cute cabbage

 

12772929_10104213658476463_1603977631_oSo I decided I had to make some Kraut.  It’s just one of my favorite things.  Plus it’s terribly expensive at the store.  So, it’s like totally easy to make.  All you need is Cabbage and Salt.  I like to use the Pink salt, as I think the flavor is better, and it is better for you than most salts.  However, as long as it is an unbleached sea salt or salt that hasn’t been processed, then you are good to go!

The rule of thumb I use is by taste.  As I massage the small batches of cabbage and salt in a stainless steel bowl, I taste them.  They should be slightly salty, also to the point where one might want to put a little more salt. But don’t!  You want to err on the side of less salt, it will ensure that your fermentation will get going quickly and make for a tasty kraut when all is said and done.

So for you recipe lovers, here is a short but sweet recipe.

Cabbages, lots of them

Salt, less than you think (its about 1 cabbage to 1/2 teaspoon salt)

Method

Shred Cabbage thinly removing cores as you get closer to the center.  Massage in batches in large bowl until juices come out of the cabbage.  Taste for a slightly salty taste.  If too salty, add more cabbage and continue to massage.  Transfer to Kraut Crock and make sure that brine is over the kraut.  Use a clean rock or ceramic weight to weigh down the cabbage so it is under the brine (salty cabbage water that has accumulated after you massage the cabbage).  If using a mason jar to ferment, pack mason jar tight to the top.  Place a few cabbage leaves on the very top and a weight or a cabbage stem to seal the jar.  Do not screw lid on all the way, but leave ajar.  Cover with tea towel or paper bag.

Store in dark cool place and check in 3 days to burp and to see if there are bubbles forming.   At this point, make sure you take any air tight lid off and replace with mesh or cheese cloth for breathability.  Continue to ferment for at least 2 weeks and up to 1 month.  Your beautiful Kraut should be done in 2 weeks unless temperatures are winter like.

Store kraut in air tight mason jar with brine covering kraut at all times.  If wanting to keep longer, use a canning method to seal new or sterilized mason jars.

 

Let me know if you have any questions!