Compost 101 – When & Why to Add Compost to Your Garden

Compost can be confusing. We all know it’s “good”, but good how? And when should we use it? Do we even need to use it? Here is a short good-to-know guide for when and why to add compost to your garden. Compost is an efficient and practical fertilizer. Composed of decayed organic matter, compost is a basic tool for the organic gardener. Brown leaves, compostable materials like cardboard and newspaper, grass clippings, food scraps, twigs and more can all be broken down into compost. Compost is created through the process of thermal decay and then added as humus to the garden. Compost is home to millions of active microorganisms which help to continue breaking down organic matter into bio-available nutrients – food for plants! Quite simply, compost adds nitrogen to a garden. Nitrogen is what contributes to a plants healthy, green growth. This is an excellent excerpt from an article … Continue reading

HOW TO :: Homemade Apple Cider Vinegar

Last year, my friend Ritzy went apple picking and brought home about 40lbs of apples. That’s a lot! I told her to drop them to me and I’d take care of half of them. Using the recipe below, though on a much larger scale, I made a HUGE batch of homemade apple cider vinegar that lasted me all year. It lasts because I make sure to use it only in raw applications – cooking the vinegar kills the live microbes and probiotics that are so good for you. THIS PROJECT IS WORTH THE EFFORT! The resulting vinegar was apple-forward, and a bit tangy on the finish. While the nose was pretty vinegar-y, it would be great in a beverage – not offensive in anyway. It’s good to note that the I left one batch to ferment in the air for two months more after the initial fermentation period – the … Continue reading

Weekend Getaway: Westcoast Food Tour

I was recently invited on a whirlwind food tour of the Fraser Valley, Surrey and White Rock, all of which are part of the Lower Mainland, sitting just north of the U.S. border and south of Vancouver. A hop, skip and jump from Seattle, particularly if you nab a train and make yourself some cocktails in a jar for the voyage (who me?), the American dollar is strong compared to the Canadian dollar making for a budget friendly adventure. The best! I grabbed a friend, hopped on the train and spent two days on a Westcoast Food Tour, eating a massive amount of food and learning. Here, a few highlights:

.The green goddess dressing (and entire menu) from Water Shed Arts Cafe in Langley. It was some of the best food I’ve had in a long time. Simple, healthy, delicious. Thank you to Tourism Langley for showing off your part of the world!

Water Shed Arts Cafe.A helicopter ride from Sky Helicopters in Pitt Meadows, who are currently running an AMAZING deal you should definitely, immediately take advantage of.

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Cooking & Growing with Herbs :: LOVAGE

_MG_6008Kitchen herb gardens are reasonably common around the city, but rare is the garden that contains lovage—a robust perennial herb that looks and tastes like celery. “It has a savory quality and is the kind of herb that gives food a depth of flavor and a deep, herbaceous vegetable note,” says Jerry Traunfeld, chef and owner of Poppy, on the north end of Capitol Hill.

That pop of flavor can be used to perk up vegetable stocks, enliven a bowl of steaming shellfish or fortify salads. Traunfeld often uses lovage as Continue reading

Common Garden Mistakes & How To Avoid Them!

If you’re a true gardener, these warmer temps and blooming crocus are a sign you better get your act in gear. For new gardeners, this means getting organized and figuring out what exactly you want to plant this year, but there is way more to it. Learn how to Avoid Common Garden Mistakes this year! In the Pacific Northwest, we get our first seeds in the ground right about mid-March and from there it is a fast ramp up to a full spring planting. This little breather gives us some time to make a planting plan, prepare any beds that need attention or build new structures, like these handy potato cages. This is also a great time of year to get started out on the right foot from the beginning – there is nothing worse than making a ton of effort for little reward. With that, I was recently asked … Continue reading

Dense Chocolate-Banana Bread :: Using Up Over Ripe Bananas

We’ve all been there. Bananas turn too brown to actually enjoy, so we hang on to them thinking ‘I’ll make banana bread.’ But that day doesn’t come, so maybe you toss the bananas in the compost or maybe, if you’re not repulsed by the glossy black sheen they have now, you’ll freeze them for smoothies. About 3 weeks ago, I moved BLACK bananas to the fridge. I knew the cool temp would slow down the decay and I figured I’d make banana bread in the next day or so. But I didn’t. I don’t really eat wheat in my day to day life (and steer clear of sugar for the most part), so making banana bread was low on my list. (HIGH on my list, however, is not wasting food! Conundrum!) Days went by, and the bananas started fermenting. You know bananas are fermenting when they start smelling boozy. Then … Continue reading

HOW TO :: Homemade Nut Milks

With health consciousness on the rise, more people are turning to dietary alternatives with the aim of avoiding allergens in their food. Why? Because many of these foods create internal inflammation of our tissues and joints and chronic inflammation can lead to disease and illness.

homemade almond milkCommon food triggers are wheat, dairy, peanuts, soy, refined sugar. If you’re following a paleo diet these and many more are on the no-no list. If you’re doing a detox cleanse, you need not be as strict. Many things have easy, healthy substitutes – instead of white sugar, opt for raw local honey. Instead of peanut butter, try sunflower seed butter.

Dairy gets a little tricky because many of the substitutes have OTHER allergens and ingredients to steer clear from. Most shelf-stable nut milks contain carrageenan, “a gum extracted from certain species of red algae (also known as Irish moss) has thickening, gelling, and binding properties. It is used to stabilize emulsions in dairy products; to improve the quality of foods such as soups, salad dressings, sauces, and fruit drinks; and to give a creamy thick texture to milk products,” states Prescription for Dietary Wellness: Using Foods to Heal by Phyllis Balch. Continue reading

Key Ingredient: SEAWEED

Sushi Kappo Tamura’s owner and chef dishes about the edible sea plant that packs healthy nutrients……………….

Seaweed, long revered in Japanese culture, is available as close as Puget Sound. But can we simply stroll down to Golden Gardens and harvest some fresh kelp for eating? “Yes,” says Taichi Kitamura, owner and chef at Sushi Kappo Tamura in Eastlake. “All seaweed is edible; it is just a matter of tasting good or bad.”

1215eatanddrinkseaweedSeaweed comes in various shapes and forms—pressed and dried into sheets for sushi rolls, salted in jars, dried whole and other preparations. “I like them all, but my choice is wakame,” says Kitamura. Dark green wakame is sold in both dried and jarred forms. Sometimes labeled as sea vegetables, it has an almost indistinguishable, subtle taste. The texture is satisfying. “It’s something in between melt in your mouth and chewy,” he says.

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Homemade Aged Eggnog

More nuanced then just-made ‘nog, aging mellows the boozy nose of this super spiked beverage and makes for a harmonious, blended flavor. How & Why to Make Aged Eggnog Eggnog is made with eggs, sugar, a blend of spirits and milk or cream (or both). In a typical iteration, eggs are blended with sugar and booze creating a thick and sweet beverage, not unlike Baileys. From there, portions of milk and cream are added before serving. Some recipes call for whipped cream, while others fold in whipped egg whites. I took another route entirely and went for an aged eggnog recipe. Alcohol is a natural preservative, killing off bacteria. I had heard of aged eggnog before—the process seemed so much easier than the last minute preparation required with other recipes. With aged eggnog, eggs and spirits (like rum, brandy, cognac, whisky, or bourbon) are blended and mixed with sugar, the … Continue reading

Rosehip Recipes :: Homemade Rosehip Granola Recipe

Rosehips are bright red ‘berries’ that form on the stems of rose bushes and trees after the blooms die back. These fleshy globes encase seeds for the roses and can be eaten raw or dried. Rosehips form in mid-autumn and are best harvested after the first frost. This homemade rosehip granola is best served over yogurt with a spoonful of honey. To learn how to harvest rosehips (November is a perfect month for it!), check out this post. For more rose hip recipes and inspiration, check out this post for Rosehip Sherry. Rose Hip Granola makes about 3 pints | start to finish: about 30 minutes active time 2 cups rolled oats 2 cups sliced almonds 2 cups raw, unsweetened coconut flakes 2 tablespoon untoasted sesame seeds 1⁄4 teaspoon salt 1/3 cup dried rosehips 1/3 cup crystallized ginger, chopped Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the oats and almonds on a … Continue reading