Saturday, June 30

Tengusa Seaweed MIA, Recipe #10 DOA

Did I say this project has taught me to be courageous about substitutes? Did I say that?

No Japanese market in the vicinity has heard of Tengusa, so I tried Kombu. Kombu allowed me to skip the tedious steps of making a gel sheet out of the tengusa, dehydrate and then roll it up.

Like I could have ever done that anyway!

Hey, not finding tengusa was a favor. As was not finding sea beans. Actually, I think I’ve eaten seabeans before and I sure would have liked to try them, but if I expect to do a recipe almost every damn day, I can only search so far and wide. So it was julienned French beans mixed with seaweed salad. Close enough, right?

So do I announce my failures to the world? That eating kombu was like eating a rolled up piece of kelp you step over at the beach? I ate one and spared my husband. Sea vegetables make good compost.

Friday, June 29

Cucumber Rolls and Jicama Corn Salad, 9 down and 44 to go

Evening plans meant I had to throw together recipes number 8 and 9 over lunch. Rick & Alane invited us to a private screening of a new documentary Semper Fi, One Marine’s Journey. This story, about a courageous and gentle man’s discovery of the truth of our “war on terror” and about himself was powerful. I hope you’ll check it out on Showtime, see This is a man who follows his passions. I believe our passions lead us to heal the world in some way, yet here I am involved in this passion. How superfluous this project seems when compared to what this man is doing. And yet, I know in my heart we are all part of that "grand orchestra" each with our part to play. We have to fully honor the part we play and trust, trust (underscored) that what we are following is somehow a contribution, and never second-guess it no matter how small or silly it seems. I guess that is the challenge. That somehow something as seemingly insignifcant as my own indulgence here with this project can somehow contribute in some way for the greater good of all. I don't know, maybe it's just a drop of sweetness that the world needs.

Back to lunch. Daniel came to the rescue, sharpening the knife and cutting the vegetables “brunoise.” No dehydrating necessary and I had all the ingredients. With Daniel’s help, all I had to do was put it together. Then I realized I had forgotten the Asian Pear for the salad. What to do? One thing this book is teaching me is to have the courage to substitute. I spied a green apple, why not? In fact, it was the perfect substitute. Really, I think the pear would have blended in too much with the jicama and corn. The sour apple really gave the flavor a pop that was terrific! The cucumber rolls? Well they just would not roll. I guess I shaved the cucumber too thickly. I forced a couple for the photo (thank you, toothpicks), but for lunch we just used the cucumber as “bread” to scoop up the stuffing. Both recipes were sublimely delicious, fresh and energizing. I wish it could always be this easy.

I’m still looking for salsify. Any takers for finding this little devil?

Thursday, June 28

Daikon Lo Mein and Stuffed Chard, Yin and Yang

I did these recipes so long ago I barely remember it. It was day before yesterday.

That was the day when I happily invited Sue, my professional photographer sister (I have a lot of sisters) over. I said, why don't you come by and photograph a recipe and have dinner?

It was no problem because I had planned to whirl up a lentil loaf for the main course and attempt the daikon lo mein as a side dish.

Then I tasted the lentil loaf and remembered...I don't like the flavor of ground sprouted lentils...yuck! Then I was in a panic. What would we have for dinner? I slapped open 'The Book' and selected the next appetizer up: Mung Bean Salad Wrapped in Swiss Chard with Marinated Vegetables and Thai Vinaigrette. Alane had delivered fresh picked chard from her garden the day before, so all I had to come up with was:
  • cauliflower mushrooms

  • yuzu citron juice

  • water chestnuts (fresh, of course)

Being incredibly foresightful (is that a word?) I opened another recipe and hurriedly wrote down some more wierdo ingredients I would need for future. Thinking ahead. Tengusa seaweed, sea beans, and agar agar, I think it was.

I hopped on my bike straight for Takahashi Market. Yes, on the yuzu and agar. no fresh water chestnuts so in flew the canned version. Try the bigger Japanese market. OK. No. To Draeger's: No. Since the mushrooms were basically for garnish, I got some frisee salad, that would look good. But at check-out I learned it was like $7 for a bunch. Frisee rejected. By now I was spinning. Sue would be there in less than an hour and I had to throw it all together. The kitchen was a mess. I got stressed (equals yelling at poor husband).

Sue arrived and actually liked the lentil loaf so much she took some home. The funny thing about daikon is the taste seems to change if you julienne it or shave it, as this recipe calls for. I don't like the strong hot-radish flavor, but shaved, it seems to soften and the flavor improves. Both dishes turned out ok, but not very flavorful. But it was certainly healthy and we were satiated. Then I realized I had forgotten to include the pureed waterchestnut in the chard rolls! doh!

And so is life. A rush of stress spreads into a wave of ease. A wave of good times squeezes into a hard time for awhile. Sometimes things are good, but they don't taste as good as you want. Sometimes you don't feel understood, then you feel you love everything on this world so much you can't stand it. The yin and yang of life.

Monday, June 25

Peaches, Ice Cream and a Taste of Motherhood

I spent the last three days preparing to serve "cheeseburgers" tonight. Attempting to use our oven as a dehydrator for five recipes now, has finally pushed me into purchasing a dehydrator. The Excalibur was recommended to me, so that's what I bought, can be purchased from Elaina Love's website:

It's not that I think the food will taste any better, it's just that once you get more into this, you become very conscious of the nutritional value of food, and they say cooking beyond 105 kills the enzymes, vitamins, and life-giving properties of the food. The lowest my oven will go is 140. And the more into this you get, the more you want to eat like this. It's addictive in a great way. Now instead of my cabinets being stocked with flour and cereals and bags of chips, canned goods, etc. I have jars filled with lovely nuts, grains and dried fruits. And I'm actually using them in the most delicious recipes!

My sisters Lise and Lady Lori brought baby-Gael for the afternoon and dinner. I could tell they kind of looked at me in awe as I excitedly explained to them about preparing live foods. Lori’s a mom with two kids, and Lise is a new mom with Gael, almost 2 years old. Lori came sans kids tonight. I mean, they’re both so exhausted and taxed by caring for their children, they couldn’t imagine taking something like this on, they barely have time to think about the next meal, much less indulge in this “fad” that is so time-consuming. But, of course, I look at them in awe. They’re both such good mothers, like the kind I would want to be or have! Really living the dream of feeling the curl of their child in their arms. And as much as I wanted to be a mother, I’m not, and now that I’m over it I’m really having a good time throwing myself into things. So instead of spending all my energy caring for my kids, I have energy to do these crazy projects. Somehow, this is my motherhood. And in this way, I see we can look at each other in complete awe and admiration of how we’re doing things.
It's not often I get to have my sisters for a few precious hours alone, so I was pleased to be serving an all-living menu, but nervous the damn burgers would not turn out. By late afternoon they were still soggy and I wasn't sure my "dehydrating" was working. My husband ran out and purchased ground sirloin and buns and fired up the barbecue as 'back up.' But once again, somehow these live-food recipes are delicious no matter what! To my surprise, they loved the burgers (Juliano's cookbook). And then we only sampled the cooked burgers. I served Corn Wowder (from Vibrant Living Cookbook) on the side, another live dish...a great summer soup. Anyway, from Roxanne's book, I did dessert: Indian Red Peaches with Vanilla Ice Cream and Pecan Praline. It was heaven. We couldn't believe how much the "ice cream" tasted like real ice cream--no dairy and sweetened only with agave nectar. I cheated on the fruit and did not dehydrate it, served it fresh. I cheated on the praline as well, no dehydrate, can you say "toaster oven?"
47 more recipes to go in only ten weeks. Oh no! That's basically a recipe every night!
Tomorrow: Daikon Lo Mein.
And if you have a sense of humor, check out:

Friday, June 22

On Fire!

After eating this way all week, I started to get a real energy boost on Wednesday, but by Thursday, I was ELECTRIC! I just FEEL SO GOOD eating this way! I worked a full day, took the dogs out, started on the "cheese slices" and "bread" for the "hamburgers," prepared lunch and dinner, got a little work-out in, worked on my music, met with Rick to sing through our song list, then even went to Deb's to look at the paint job in her kitchen. Of course I went over there in my house shoes and left wearing only one. When it came time to leave we couldn't find the mate anywhere. Those damn dogs.

Truthfully, and I know this sounds cliche, but when you eat live you feel alive. It feels great to be human when you feel good.
And it's amazing what actually tastes good once you get into it, for example, yesterday for lunch this is what I had:

red onion and cherry tomatoes with wine vinegar+olive oil
julienned (gotta use a mandolin, folks) raw sweet potato
with pine nuts
that was it! totally satisfying and the sweet potato was didn't need a thing. I ate every scrap. For dinner I rummaged through the Vibrant Living recipe book and made a Cucumber/Avocado Soup that had chopped zucchini in it. Now I don't even like raw zucchini, and this was DELICIOUS! I don't know what it is, but you gotta try this! I went a little off the raw, and simmered up some cracked wheat and served it over spinach, tomatoes, etc., and the dressing was pureed tomato and basil. Yum! For dessert I brought the rest of the Sharlyn Melon granita I had left over to Deb's and had it with her. She was rinsing her nuts and was showing me her raw cookbooks...she's totally getting into this! I'm in the middle of an interview with her to put on Sarah's website. She was the first woman electrician-forman in San Francisco, so i'm interviewing her on what it's like to be in an almost entirely male trade.
I like the brain dead aspect I enjoy from using a cookbook. Sometimes it's hard to get into the kitchen to figure out a meal. With this "mission" of mine, I just open the cookbook, and all I have to do is follow the steps. My dad was a big cookbook guy, maybe that's what infected me. But it's just so easy instead of wondering what to have for lunch/dinner, I just open one of the living recipe books until I run across a recipe I have all the ingredients for. Sometimes they don't even sound that good, but then, they'll taste suprisingly terrific. I think that's what is getting so many of us into this concept of eating live, and is keeping us here: it's delicious!

Thursday, June 21

Morning Love

One thing about preparing food this way, your kitchen is easier to clean up.

I don't say this because my husband does all the dishes now. no, he just thinks he's doing all the dishes...but I say this because there's no grease. no splattered olive oil, no greasy pans, no big pots, and the stove top is immaculate! And just think, that's what's going into your body! It's just raw fruits and vegetables, but overall, pretty easy to clean up. OK, a dog food can that needs to be cleaned out because I insist on recycling, plus stray dog hairs. And I also insist on composting, which enrages my husband. I mean what's the big deal? A few fruit flies buzzing around. This really bugs him (ha!) but it has cut down on our trash, and I've made some killer soil from it.
This morning I skipped the favorite part of beginning my day: the Morning LoveFest.

With two rescue dogs, one who sleeps with us and the other who climbs up about 6:30 am every morning to wedge himself between my husband and I, we (or I, really) ritually begin the day with a snuggle fest of kissing and rubbing these canine angels.

This morning, anxious to start "nacho cheese" for a "hamburger" recipe from Juliano's cookbook, I skipped our routine. Shortly after I'm up, the dogs sauntered into the kitchen bleary-eyed, heads down, nudging me. They needed their morning coffee: LoveFest.

Tuesday, June 19

What is a Sharlyn Melon? And what the hell is Salsify? Recipes #4+

For my next foray, I thought I'd try the next-up appetizer Salsify with Black Truffles and Porcini mushrooms. I will tell you what salsify is if I ever find it. I'll also skip ahead to dessert and tackle the Watermelon Soup with Sharlyn Melon Granita.

But can I tell you Draeger's wanted $40/lb. for the porcinis. Wait, don't laugh yet, they wanted $50 for one truffle. Now I'm a hyena. Forget the truffle, lady, not gonna happen on our budget.

I bought the dried porcini's for $4.99. Draeger's is out of the salsify, but will call me if it ever comes in (coincidentally June-Aug is salsify season). I drove over to the Mexican market to see if they might have it: nada. I even called Takahashi Japanese market: sayonara.

I'll try Sigona's and then Marina Market, I've heard is pretty cosmopolitan as salsify is apparently a European thing.

But good old Draeger's-just-down-the-street did have a Sharyln melon. Here 'tis in all it's glory, a dressed up cantaloupe.

I bought the truffle oil (my first time ever!) and Kimberley's white wine vinegar, which is the only white wine vinegar I've ever tried that I thought was actually good. Really good, actually. This mission is racking up the grocery bill. I'm going to have to add a donate button to my site. seriously.

So the Sharlyn melon is for a dessert Watermelon Soup with Sharlyn Melon Granite and Micro Mint. Micro mint. I mean really.

I hauled out the ice cream maker, even though Roxanne says pour in a shallow pan, freeze and scrape with a spoon every half hour (yeah, right) "creating a snowlike result." Why can't I just use an ice cream maker? We'll see what I do here.

OK, ice cream maker it is. And on the ellusive, mysterious salsify: none at Takahashi, none at the mexican market, none at the marina international market, none at Piazza's or Rainbow in the city. However, both Draeger's and Piazza's had at least heard of it and said for me to follow up in a few days.

We only got into two arguments to get this photo taken. You'd think he'd get it after awhile. I'm preparing the meals. He's sitting there watching tv. When I call to say I'm ready for a photo, how hard is that? But it's this repetitive routine each time "where's the camera" "I don't know you had it last," then "oh the card isn't in the camera." Meanwhile my granita is melting. No pressure. So of course I had to yell at him. I told him I would fire him from photographing. And then I outlined his job position more clearly. Make sure the camera is ready, so when I call you, you take a picture. That's all I ask of you. For some reason he found this patronizing, but he did like the dessert. Happy Summer Soltice!

Monday, June 18

Recipes #2 & #3: Morel & Mushroom Stack and Peppercorn Cheese

I'm a little behind schedule, with vacation and all, but I did two recipes today.

First, the "Three Peppercorn Crusted Cashew Cheese with Honeycomb and Balsalmic"

I started the recipe weeks ago, when I soaked the cashews, but then we went on vacation, so I hauled the poor nuts up there and then remembered I didn't have any Rejuvelac. I didn't have any wheat berries to make any rejuvelac either.

So I saved the nuts in a bag...ten days later...well, let's just say I did a wierd thing for me: I threw them out and started new.

So this turned out beautifully...pretty straight forward until she says to "press the cheese into a ring mold" What ring mold?

I lined a ramekins w/paper instead. I put the peppercorns in first, then the cheese, pressed. Refrigerated, then inverted it. Perfect! and tastey too.
I made one for Deb, my electrician friend who is also now getting turned onto live foods, but I pressed nasturtium flowers into with the peppercorns...pretty.

Second, the "Layered Morel Mushrooms and Fennel with Two Vinaigrettes: Opal Basil and Mustard Seed"

Luckily, because of Draeger's just down the street, I was easily able (if not expensively) to procure dried morels.

This recipe was lots easier than I had imagined and not as tasty as it looked.

I made it easier, for example, Opal basil? I don't think so. Regular basil will do. Crushing mustard seeds to make the vinaigrette? Nah. I used my taragon mustard and it was yummy. I couldn't deal with the honeycomb thing either. So as I was slicing the fennel, wondering how I was going to get the pureed fennel to stack up on the morels, I hear the dreaded sound: 'hack, hack, wretch' No! I scream. Our stupid cat has this throw up thing she keeps doing. Why can't she be like our dogs and head for the door when she has to puke? No, she has to ALWAYS vomit on (first choice) 1) upholstry 2) persian rug 3) carpet 4) bed (sheets and pillows preferred) and lastly is the floor. And I bet she NEVER pukes outside. So in the middle of three dogs (yes, I'm babysitting Jimmy again) and trying to make this new recipe, I'm scraping vomit off the chair cushions and trying to squirt Nature's Miracle into the cane chair where the puke has leaked into the crevaces.

Newcomers beware: she doesn't mention to core the fennel! (Sorry I had to delete the photo, folks, it was blurry and not shot from the side (as I had instructed husband) so sort of looked like a plate a vomit. Really, it looked quite gourmet in real life.

The flavors were good, but the morels tasted watered time (if ever there is one) I will dry them carefully and marinate them in a mixture of both her vinaigrettes first. (bad photo, I'm sorry, blame it on husband, as I do with all things).

With the leftovers, I mixed it all together and it was delicous...voila!

Sunday, June 3

Recipe Uno - Wakame Sushi Rolls

The first recipe is a gourmet looking sushi roll. One of the reasons I never did anything but look at this book with awe and put it back down again.
This recipe went suprisingly well, except that photographer-husband did not download the photos and then "disappeared" from his camera. ugh. so I did the recipe a 2nd time, pictured here a little blurry. Of course you can't really see the sushi and that's because oh-esteemed photographer husband doesn't know how to use his own camera. God forbid should either one of us read the manual. They say food styling and photography is a real art and now I can see why. God, how awful photos of home food can look! I can't be a cook and a techno-photographer both.

I discovered daikon and parsnips, and both are wonderful! You can julienne either up (use a mandolin) for salads...yum! But this recipe used parsnips as the "rice" in the sushi roll.
I felt sure when I rolled it up, it would be a disaster, with the contents bulging out and even worse when I cut it, imagining the nori paper to tear and fall apart, but miraculously, with my first turned out as delicious as it was beautiful.

Of course I had to snigger at the call for "brunoise cut" and the "baton" cut this or that. What the hell is brunoise? According to my Food Lover's Companion it is a "mixture of vegetables, finely diced or shredded." And indeed, in the back of Roxanne's book, she does give a definition...fine dice, as she does with baton: match stick. And she says to use the daikon leaves...uh, excuse me, they are tough and practically inedible! I mean this is real life here.

Well, I've learned two fancy words and satisfied the bird (that's daniel, oh-beloved husband-photographer) with a delicious dinner, twice.

Friday, June 1

About this Labor of Love

Fortified with little experience, but truly a passion for living food, a husband who wants to lose weight (he has lost 14 lbs so far and LOOKS and FEELS terrific) and a neighborhood gourmet grocery store, I will embark on not nearly such a daunting project as cooking every recipe from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking in one year, but something less monumental, but still intimidating to me, which will be to prepare all the recipes from Charlie Trotter and Roxanne Klein’s fancy shmancy gourmet RAW book over the summer. I’ve had this book for several years now and have not attempted one single recipe. What else will motivate me but to declare it as a goal to an audience?

But first I want to not only give credit, but communicate to author Julia Shaffer of Julie & Julia, My Year of Cooking Dangerously that her hilarious book inspired me to do this…not only to love the kitchen more, but that a fellow Texan with a gutter mouth like me, might be inspired to write. And she can…she’s a very good writer. Anyway, she inspired me and before I start my own “mission” (as opposed to Julie's "project"), I want to write her and let her know that I hope she is not feeling plagiarized or copied by my mimicking her project…my husband says the best form of flattery is plagiary...I only hope copycatting is just as flattering. Purchase her book:

So, back in like 1995 this totally cool restaurant opened up in my neighborhood (Inner Sunset, San Francisco) called Raw. I was immediately attracted to this restaurant and was totally intrigued to learn that all the gourmet and delicious looking dishes turning out were totally uncooked vegan dishes. Fermented wheat berries, dehydrated crusts for pizzas and “breads,” pureed fruits for pudding, soaked nuts for “cheese,” herbal infused waters and teas, sea vegetables…all these exotic, delicious but purely healthy foods served in the most artistic way. Nothing heated beyond 105 degrees, so as to keep the “living” enzymes and nutrients that are alive in nuts, seeds and vegetables alive.

The owner, a beautiful man named Juliano wound up moving to southern California where he started another restaurant (I think) and wrote an amazing cookbook. Well, here it is, like 11 years later, and I finally have his cookbook, and am finally ready, with the necessary encouragement from my husband, to start a whole new way of eating. It’s a TERRIFIC cookbook and I totally recommend it. I’ve already been making all kinds of delicious things from it. But his book has like over 100 recipes and I didn’t know if I could do that over the summer, but also his are easier. Roxanne’s is unbelievably high-brow, so thus the challenge.

I started first by making my own almond milk instead of buying the dead almond milk in the box. Beautiful, snow-white "milk" squeezes out of my husband’s beer sock (this is the PERFECT tool for making almond milk) over my hopefully washed fingers and into the glass pitcher. You can add a little blended date or a dash of maple syrup, but truly for us, we really don’t need it. Almonds are loaded with calcium, vitamin E and magnesium, and have their own natural sweetness. We’ve been going through, like a pitcher every 2-3 days.

First you have to soak the almonds (or any nut, like you can make pecan milk, cashew milk, brazil nut milk, etc.) for 4-24 hours. The idea being that when you soak a nut in agua, the nut thinks it’s going to seed and so starts rejuvenating and the enzymes and life-giving properties in the nut “wake up” and once they’re activated, they are optimum for consumption, with the maximum of living nutrients.

Everything is alive. And I know a lot of people don’t eat meat because they don’t want to kill an animal. But how can we say a plant is so much lower on the scale of things? I personally don’t believe they are. Plants, I have learned, in my modest forays into the world of composting and worm farming, do some mind-blowing things…one could say they think and make decisions. Of course most humans snigger at such a suggestion. We are so egocentric. Anyway, I have to say I do feel bad about an animal being killed just so I can enjoy a filet Mignon melting in my mouth, or even worse, oysters, which I LOVE, are ALIVE when you eat them on the half shell. Your teeth ripping into their tender body is how they get to die. At least cows get to die a more humane death. But look how we treat plants. We rip them out of the ground and chop them up! They die slowly, eh? So it is sacred, eating other life, no matter if plant or animal. And I don’t know how to be humane about it, well plants anyway. But for my fellow mammals, I can buy free-range, organic, etc., and hope that the folks at those farms have integrity.

So I got the bright idea, a time saver, to soak my almonds in advance and store them in the frig in a container. Every day I thought of blending them up to make almond milk, but no, I thought, I’ll wait cuz I don’t want to make the milk until we’re ready to drink it…I want it to be as fresh as possible.

So I was ready today to make a new batch. Nursing a bit of a hangover from a wild dinner out with the Dactyls saying farewell to a sister who is moving off to Connecticut with her new husband, I was craving a milk shake. I rummaged through the cabinets and I found Them. I can’t believe he bought Ruffels potato chips! After recovering from the mild shock (Daniel is serious about not eating junk and to lose weight, but I guess he had a weak moment when I left him for a night--God knows, I certainly did not adhere to any kind of healthy consumption last night!) I crammed a few in my mouth as I opened the lid. Shit! A few of the almonds had MOLD on them. Damn, I swear, this live/fresh food thing is so unforgiving sometimes. Better eat another chip. I picked up one at a time and scraped the little dot of blue mold from each nut. After about five I said fuck it and dumped them all into the blender. Ate another handful of Ruffels. Mold is supposed to be good for you, isn’t it? I poured the filtered agua over them and whirled away. Yum almond milk. Yuck, potato chips.