Recipe Index

                                                              Almond "Milk" Shake

This serves one, but can be doubled and will still easily fit in the blender
1 large frozen banana or 1 1/2 bananas if small
1 large Medjool date, pitted and soaked in small amount of almond milk, (just enough to cover it)
1/2-3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk.
Optional:  dash of cinnamon.

Place the bananas, almond milk soaked date(plus soaking liquid), and 1/2 cup of almond milk in the blender. Blend until all the pieces of banana and date are blended into a thick shake, at this point add optional ingredients if desired. Add more almond milk if you desire a smoothie that isn't quite so thick.
It thick and sweet and in my opinion tastes better than a milk shake. It is virtually guilt free, since it is made with fruit and unsweetened almond milk, so there is no dairy, or sweetener in it.

The next smoothie is my mid afternoon pick-me up. It has raw cacao which helps with leveling of blood sugar and is a good source of magnesium, as well as PEA the  "feel good" neurotransmitter, Tryptophan and Serotonin. Raw cacao is beneficial to the cardiovascular system, antioxidants in the raw cacao have been clinically proven to literally dissolve plaque built up in the arteries which helps in reversing heart disease and causes naturally lower blood pressure.  I also add Maca, the Peruvian "superfood", which increases energy, endurance and stamina and has 27 trace minerals including Selenium. It is instrumental in helping the body to regulate hormonal processes. It can be used to treat hormonal dysfunctions caused by menopause in women and andropause in men. It really helps to reduce my hot flashes, but I am careful to have this mid-afternoon, since it has a stimulating effect and can interfere with sleep if consumed too late. All that said, it is yummy and chocolaty, with a slightly nutty flavor. And like the other almond shake is raw, vegan, and pretty much guilt free.

Beat the Blues Tonic

1-2 lemons (depending on size), squeezed
1 tsp. organic beet root powder
1 Tbsp. honey (raw if you can get it)
1/8 tsp., cayenne, *I do need to warn you though, that it is spicy and may take a little time to get used to the zing of the cayenne, but it grows on you and you build a tolerance to the heat. If the level of cayenne in the recipe is too much for you in the beginning, start with less and build up to the 1/8 tsp.
10 oz. of purified water

Put all ingredients in personal rocket blender or regular blender if you don't have a personal sized blender, and blend until honey is dissolved and other ingredients are well blended, (just a few seconds unless the honey is crystallized). Enjoy!

                                                  French Onion Soup   

2-3 large red onions, sliced thinly
1 quart bag of mushroom stock, plus 4 cups of water
2 cloves of garlic, pressed
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. olive oil or coconut oil
Dash of vegan Worchestershire sauce
1 Tbsp. barley miso
salt to taste
If you have an open bottle of red wine on hand that needs to be used, ( or you want to serve wine with dinner), 1/2 cup of red wine makes a very nice addition.
Place all the ingredients in a pot and simmer until the onions are soft. Remove bay leaf and serve hot. If desired you can spread a piece of French bread with a very thin layer of garlic-infused coconut oil, sprinkle with Italian seasoning, some freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of nutritional yeast.  Place under the broiler until golden, then top the soup with the bread.  Yum!

Garam Masala

This is my favorite home made version of Garam Masala, it comes from The Passionate Vegetarian, which ranks pretty high on my list of favorite cookbooks too!

Makes a generous 1/2 cup

1/4 cup coriander seeds
3 tablespoons cumin seed
2 tablespoons cardamom seeds
3 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
2 sticks cinnamon, preferably Ceylon cinnamon
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1 whole nutmeg

Combine all the spices, except for the nutmeg, in a dry heavy skillet. Toast over medium, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes, or until fragrant and lightly browned. Remove from skillet immediately to stop cooking process. Grate 1/3 of the whole nutmeg directly on to the other spices. Transfer to a spice grinder and pulverize into a fine powder. Store in a tightly cover jar and keep in a dark place. ** note although I try to eat as much as I can raw, I am not a stickler about condiments and spices, heat brings out the oils in whole spices and makes their essence more accessible. But if you prefer not to use the roasted spices you may just use them in their raw form and blend them without roasting.

                                                         Healthy, Raw  Chocolate Almond Shake

Blender will accommodate ingredients to serve two so this can easily be doubled
1-1 1/2 bananas
3/4 to 1 cup almond milk ( more or less to obtain desired thickness)
1 rounded tsp. organic raw cacao powder
1/2 tsp. organic Maca
Optional: splash of Monin Hazelnut  flavoring syrup
Place 3/4 cup almond milk in blender, add other all ingredients and blend until smooth. Add  more almond milk to obtain desired thickness.

                                                                         Kale Berry Smoothie

2 frozen bananas
2 cups of mixed blueberries and blackberries frozen or fresh
1 bunch kale or other deep green leafy 
1 healthy handful of fresh lemon balm, (spearmint will also do, but I really like the citrus-y taste of the lemon balm) or the juice of 1/2 a lemon and a tsp. agave.
Water to aid in blending, and to obtain desired consistency, about 2 cups ( you can also use organic 100% fruit juice if you like).

Put 1 cup of water and the greens in the blender and blend. Then add the frozen bananas, the blueberries, and the lemon balm, (or its alternative), and blend. Add more water, (or juice) to make the drink to the thickness of your liking.

                                                Kale, Turnip and Grapefruit Salad with Miso Dressing

For Salad
1 bunch Curly Kale, washed well and spun dry
2 medium sized turnips
1 ruby red grapefruit, section and reserve juice, (be sure to squeeze all the juice out of the membranes after sectioning)
1/2 red onion
1 handful of Craisins
pinch of nigella seed or black sesame seed
For Dressing
Reserved Grapefruit juice
Enough  Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar to bring grapefruit juice up to 1/3 cup
1/3 extra virgin cold pressed olive oil
2 Tbsp. uma plum vinegar (or substitute with balsamic vinegar)
1/4 tsp. sesame oil
1 Tbsp. hemp seed ( if you don't have it on hand it is OK without it, the dressing will just not be quite as creamy)
1 Tbsp. white miso (or barley miso if you prefer it to be richer)
1-2 cloves garlic, (depending on how much you like garlic)
1 Tbsp. honey or agave

Place all ingredients in personal rocket blender, (or in regular blender if you don't have a personal blender), blend until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust oil/acid balance, by adding a little more oil or more acid depending on what you think it needs. Only1/3 cup of this dressing is needed to for kale salad, but it keep a very long time in the fridge and can be used on regular salads or just kept on hand for the kale salad if you end up making it more than once. This salad dressing or a variation there of, is what we normally use on our dinner salads. It is full flavored, with a nice tang. You won't need to use much since it has a lot of flavor and sticks well to greens, so the dressing doesn't end up in the bottom of the bowl.

Cut the kale into thin strips. Slice the red onion thinly and toss with kale to distribute. With a latex gloved hand, gently "massage" 1/4 to 1/3 cup of dressing little at a time into kale and onions, to distribute the dressing. Only add enough to coat the leaves. Thinly slice the turnip, with a mandolin, ( if you don't have a mandolin then shave thin slices off with a vegetable peeler). Add turnip slices and grapefruit sections and toss gently with tongs to distribute. Sprinkle the top of the salad with Craisins and nigella or black sesame seed, (nigella seed can be found in an Indian grocer and it well worth looking for, the oniony peppery flavor really adds a lot to salads. If you can't find the nigella, the black sesame will do...or if you can't find either, the salad will still be good without it). Serve chilled.

                                                                   Mango Lassi 
Makes one serving but may be doubled or tripled without overfilling the blender.
One heaping cup frozen mango pieces, (for details see: Mangos)
One cup kefir
One healthy tsp. honey (if your mango is very, very ripe and sweet, or you like a tangy lassi, the honey is optional)

Place frozen mango and kefir in blender then add honey (which keeps honey from sinking to the bottom under the blades where it might not mix in). Blend until smooth. Serve immediately.

I also like to make these into popsicles  for a refreshing snack for hubby while he is working in the garden. Kids love them, they taste similar to a cremesicle without the sugar and preservatives! What a way to feed them their probiotics!

 Mango Tango
This drink is rich and flavorful, sweet but not over the top, with a nice warm after zing from the cayenne. This is a breakfast all by itself and will hold me until lunch with no problem!

2 mangoes skin and seeds removed (see Much Adieu About Mangoes for an easy way to prepare a mango)
2 oranges, peeled and broken into small sections ( for Juicer) or if using a blender juice 2-3 oranges with handheld citrus juicer, or 3/4 to 1 cup orange juice from the store.
1 1/2 cup fresh pineapple, or 1 cup pineapple juice
1 apple, cored and cut into 6-8 pieces, (for Juicer), or if using blender 1 cup apple juice.
4 large carrots , tops removed, or if using blender 1 cup bottled fresh carrot juice
Juice of 1 lemon
1/8 tsp. cayenne, or less according to preferences.

It has been on my to-do list for some time to come up with a recipe for a comforting, rich, flavorful lasagna that would be healthful, relatively light on caloric intake, and fully raw. This past week I finally set aside the time to play in the kitchen and came up with what I consider a success. Of course it isn't lasagna in the classic sense of the word, since it isn't served hot and there is nary a whiff of dairy cheese anywhere, but it is quite good. It would make a great festive dinner for the summer, when it is too hot to heat up the kitchen, whether you're vegan or not.

                                                           Naturally Fermented Raw Sauerkraut

Equipment needed:

Food processor
1/2 gallon mason jar
Sharp knife
Measuring spoons
Wooden mallot
4 oz. mason jelly jar

4+ pounds cabbage, shredded
2 carrots, peeled and grated
2 apples, peeled and grated
4 tsp unrefined salt
1 tsp caraway seeds (optional)

 Save 2 large cabbage leaves from head.
1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl except for the 2 cabbage leaves.
2. Pound or massage for 15 minutes or until there is plenty of juice.
3. Pack a 64 oz mason jar 3/4 full.
4. Cover with cabbage leaves and weigh down.
5. Let sit at room temperature for 5 to 10 days.
If vegetables get slimy or turn brown, throw them out. If any white yeast develops on top, scrape
it off; it is not harmful, but tastes unpleasant.
*I found this recipe on which has a great set of videos: Reclaim Your Health in 60 Days.

Combine the shredded cabbage, apple, carrot, salt and caraway seed in a large bowl.

With a large, long handled, wooden mallot, (I got mine at a Latin grocery store, it is a chocloate stirrer), or a heavy potato masher, pound the ingredients to break the cabbage down and release the juices. You should pound the cabbage mixture vigorously, scraping and moving the cabbage around to make sure that you get to all the cabbage equally. Close to the end of the process take both hands and squeeze the cabbage mixture to expel juices that may be left in the cabbage.
My husband volunteered to do the mashing for me

You will know when you are done mashing when you place the palm of your hand down firmly on the cabbage mixture and the liquid flows over the top of your hand.

Once the cabbage is ready, take cabbage mixture by the handful and put it in the 1/2 gallon jar. Pack it in tightly with your fist. Continue to do this until the jar is 3/4 full of packed cabbage mix.

When Jar is 3/4 full pour in some of the juice from the bowl to stand 1 inch above the packed cabbage.

 At this point it is time to take the reserved outer leaves of the cabbage and position them on top of the packed cabbage in the jar. Press them down firmly to force out any air that may be trapped between the leaves and the packed cabbage and to cause the juices to flow over the top of the cabbage leaves until they are covered.

Take small 4 oz. jar and place it in the mouth of the 1/2 gallon jar. If you don't have a 4 oz. jelly jar then another jar will do, but you must be very careful to choose a jar that will fit loosely into the 1/2 gallon jar, leaving room on the sides so that the smaller jar does not become stuck in the neck of the 1/2 gallon jar. It also must not stick up above the top of the jar or this lid might not fit on when you go to screw it on. If you can't find a jar that will fit, a sealed ziploc sandwich bag full of small glass marbles will do the trick as well. Press down to force liquid up the sides of the smaller jar, but not over the top.

Place lids on the jar and tighten. Put the jar a plastic container, (I used a plastic shoe box sized storage container, but a recycled salad container or even a mixing bowl will serve),  to keep the juice from getting on the counter should it bubble out during the fermentation process.
This photo shows two jars of Kraut. The recipe only makes one jar of Kraut, but I doubled the recipe for my own use so this photo shows two jars.

Leave the sauerkraut to ferment undisturbed for 5 -10 days. I usually go the full 10 days to allow ample time for the cabbage to completely ferment and the flavor to develop.

I refrigerate after the fermentation process, just to be sure the kraut doesn't go bad, but if the kraut is kept covered with juice and something  heavy is sitting on it to keep kraut submerged, then it could be left out, unrefrigerated. As was done in days gone by. Let your own sensibilities help you to choose whether or not you refrigerate the sauerkraut when it is done. Spoilage would be indicated by browning, foaming and a foul smell.

Most of the time I just eat the sauerkraut as a side dish to my meals, but it is great to top a tossed vegetable salad, or on a Reuben sandwich. This is a definite keeper for anyone on a vegan or raw diet, since it is both a probiotic and a raw food.  If you try this recipe, stop back by and comment and tell me what you think of it and what recipes you used it in. I would be delighted to hear from you!

                                                                     No Guilt Vegan Lasagna

**Before I get into the recipe, I want to talk about some things I do to make my life easier day to day. In order to be equipped for preparing interesting and varied meals, I have found it necessary to do certain things ahead and in bulk in preparation for daily meal preps. I have a routine. I make and keep on hand several kinds of lacto-fermented foods, like sauerkraut and kimchee, for adding to salads and using as a flavorful side dish or snack, I pickle daikon and other veggies, sprout a number of different kinds of seeds for use in salads and wraps, I soak and sprout some seeds to boost nutrition but "harvest" them when just the tips of the sprout pokes out, before any leaves develop. I soak and  freeze or dehydrate all the nuts that we eat, to eliminate the naturally occurring enzymes that prevent premature sprouting, but are also digestive inhibitors. I make kombucha, and for my husband who does eat some dairy and loves baked bread, I make kefir and enjoy keeping a sour dough starter for making bread. I also keep a supply of sundried tomatoes in the fridge, soaked and ready to use. I keep these things going perpetually. Something is always growing, culturing, or fermenting on my counter. If you are trying to eat more living food, I would suggest that you get in the habit of preparing as many staple items as possible ahead of when you will need them. That way daily meal prep times are greatly reduced.**

The Lasagna Ingredients List

For  Cashew Cheese
Two heaping cups of raw cashews, soaked for 4 hours in water, then drained,(this will make about 3 cups soaked cashews)
Two large or 3 medium cloves of garlic, crushed and roughly chopped
A large handful of fresh basil, (about 3/4 cup)
One tsp. sea salt or real salt
 Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar, 1/4 cup
Scant 1/3 cup water
One Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

For the Filling
Two carrots grated
One large zucchini
2 cups spinach or chard, shredded
One package enoki mushrooms or one cup cremini mushrooms sliced thinly

For the Sauce
Two cups of sun dried tomatoes, soaked for 4 hours in water, reserve 1/3 cup soaking water.
Two Roma tomatoes, quartered
Sprig Fresh rosemary, Two -three sprigs each parsley and oregano, and a handful of basil  , (approx. one cup).
Two- three garlic cloves, crushed and roughly chopped
Two tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
A tablespoon or two of tomatos powder, (optional)
Red wine, 1/4 cup, or one tablspoon balsamic or red wine vinegar
One tsp. agave
One tsp. salt

Equipment Needed
Large sharp knife
High powered blender, (not a personal bullet blender)
Mandoline, or V-slicer, (if available)
Garlic press, (if desired)

 The Cheese
The first step to making the vegan lasagna is to soak a large bag of raw cashews for at least four hours, (I get mine from an Indian market in Charlotte, their prices are very affordable. If you don't have a ethnic market that sells raw cashews, look for them at the natural food store). The cashews should soak long enough to remove all the digestive inhibitor and to make them soft so that they will be creamy when blended. The cashews should be raw, roasted cashews will not work for making cashew cheese for the lasagna. Drain the cashews and let sit in strainer for awhile to drip dry. Take out 3 cups of cashews for the recipe and place the remaining cashews in a freezer bag for use in the future. Be sure to mark the bag as soaked cashews and store in the freezer.

In a high powered blender, place the three cups of soaked cashews in the blender with 2 large or 3 medium peeled and chopped or pressed garlic, 1 tsp. sea salt or Real salt, a big handful of fresh basil, and 1/4 cup Bragg's apple cider vinegar and 1 tsp. agave. Pulse to begin chopping the nuts, then add water a little at a time to keep the blades taking the nuts down. Do not add much water at first, pulse and scrape the cashew mixture frequently, start with a scant 1/4 cup of water and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Add water carefully and sparingly, just enough water to keep things moving in the blender. Once the nuts are moving around the blender and it is beginning to get creamy, stop adding water and just pulse and scrape to keep things moving. Each time will be different dependent upon weather and how much water the cashews took up while soaking, but I used less that 1/3 cup of water when I made it. The objective is to have a very thick "cheese" the consistency of drained ricotta cheese. Taste and adjust salt as desired and chill while preparing the veggies for assembly.

The Veggies
For the filling in the layers of the lasagna, grate two carrots, shred into strips several handfuls of spinach or swiss chard. I used swiss chard, folded several leaves together lengthwise and cut across the width in small strips. Since I was using Bright Lights Swiss Chard, that has a rainbow of colors, this made each strip green on either side with a pretty splash of color in the middle. Thinly slice a small package (4 oz. is plenty) of cremini mushrooms, or if you can find them use enoki mushrooms as I did. I found a variety of fresh mushrooms at an oriental market for a very affordable price. The enoki mushrooms are quite nice in this lasagna, but if you can't find them cremini will be fine, just slice them thinly.
Choose a large zucchini. This is a great use for those blimp sized zukes that went unnoticed for a few days in the garden. As long as the flesh is still tender and the seeds are small, a zucchini 10-14" long is perfect. With a sharp knife, cut the ends off , cut in half across the width, then stand on one cut end and cut a strip off to make a flat surface, so it will make good contact with the slicer. With a mandoline or V slicer, slice medium thick lengthwise slices of a zucchini. If you don't have a slicer then stand on end and make 1/8th slices with a large sharp knife. These strips will be about 1/8" thick or slightly thicker, but not as thick a 1/4 inch. They will be used in the place of pasta in the raw lasagna.

The Sauce

 Here is another time that I make in advance what I will need over the course of a week. This recipe calls for 2 cups soaked sun dried or dehydrated tomatoes, so I put a whole bag 8 oz. of them in a mason jar to soak with some garlic granules and a sprig or so of fresh rosemary. They will keep in the fridge for several weeks so what doesn't get used in this recipe will be available for use for other purposes later. Soak the tomatoes for when you soak the cashews, so that they will both be ready when you want to prepare the lasagna. Reserve 1/3 cup of soaking liquid. Cut the ends off two-three ripe Roma tomatoes, quarter and place in a high powered blender with the soaked sun dried tomatoes, a handful of fresh basil, a few sprigs of fresh oregano, parsley and rosemary, (strip the rosemary off the woody stem before putting in the blender), and 2-3 large cloves of garlic crushed and rough chopped. We are crazy for garlic so we use a lot; if you aren't as enthusiastic about garlic as we are use less. Because I have it on hand, and I really like the bright tomato-y flavor I use a tablespoon or so of tomato powder at the end of the blending process, to thicken up the sauce. This isn't readily available in stores so it isn't integral to the recipe, but does add a nice flavor if you happen to have some. I get my tomato powder from Honeyville Grains. The tomato powder is part of my emergency pantry and long term storage food supplies. To the tomatoes, herbs and garlic add 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and 1/4 cup of red wine, (optional, but if you don't use the wine add a tblsp. of balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar),  a tsp. of agave and a tsp. of salt.

 Blend these together, pulsing and scraping to get the mixture into the blades until things are chopped up well. Then while blender is running, add some of the reserved tomato soaking water, small quantities at a time, so that the whole business ends up a little looser than the consistency of tomato paste. Only use as much as necessary to get the blender blades to pull the tomatoes mixture through and create a nice thick paste. If available, at this point add your tomato powder and blend to distribute.
The tomato sauce should be very close to the consistency of tomato paste.

The Assembly
The assemble is done on individual plates.  Start by placing two strip of zucchini on the plate.  Spread a modest layer of the cashew cheese on the zucchini then spread with the tomato sauce. Next sprinkle with shredded carrots.

Place the enoki mushrooms, (or cremini mushrooms if that is what you are using), then arrange your shredded greens atop the mushrooms and cover with a second layer of zucchini. Repeat, as for the first layer, cheese, sauce veggies and top with a final layer of zucchini.

Top the final strips of zucchini with sauce and sprinkle with  a nice dusting nutritional yeast. Decorate the top with a few sprigs of enoki mushroom and a small piece of curly kale or parsley. Serve at room temperature with  a crusty bread, and a salad.

I hope that you will give this a try, I know it is a little different, but then sometimes doing something a little different is a good thing! Take care and I will see you again soon!

"Peanut" Sauce

 1 cup raw almond butter, (if you use peanut butter it is tha same amount as for almond butter)
1/4 cup coconut milk, make your own, (go here for recipe, or you can make it from young fresh coconut pulp(not quite as rich as milk from mature coconuts), or if you aren't concerned about it being 100% raw, you can find canned coconut milk and coconut creme in most grocery stores.
1/3 cup water
Juice of one large lime
2 Tbsp. Nama Shoyu or soy sauce
\2 tsp. "fish" sauce
1 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 cup cilantro
2 tsp. Srirarchi, chili paste or heaping tsp. red pepper flakes
2 tsp. Uma Plum vinegar
In a blender, blend all ingredients well. Refrigerate.

                                                            Quick Tasty Pickled Things

With my stash of daikon and mushrooms taking up space in my cramped fridge, a kitchen day was in order. Since it was the weekend, my husband was able to help me out in the kitchen. We lit a fire in our "new to us" 1890's wood stove, put Baroque and before music on Pandora and spent a happy day preparing various goodies to have on hand in the fridge for this week. One of the things that we prepared was several variations on the theme of pickled daikon radishes. We also made a huge pot of mushroom stock, (which made the house smell wonderful), roasted oriental eggplant for making Baba Ghanouj, and filled the dehydrator with onion slices to dry, for the long term storage pantry.

My husband peeled the daikon radishes with a vegetable peeler, cut off the top and bottom, and then made three lengthwise cuts from end to end. He then cut the daikon to a length to fit just below the neck of a wide-mouth canning jar, the shorter piece will be turned into cubes and treated to a different brine than the long pieces. The long thin slices were then be cut into julienne strips. I have a Mandoline slicer, which I use a lot, especially for preparing vegetables for the dehydrator, but for the daikon, I like the hand cut julienne strips better. Once the strips were finished, and arranged in the jars, a brine was made to cover the radish strips. The brine consisted of: 1 cup of water, three to four cloves of smashed and slivered garlic, 1/2-3/4 tsp. sea salt,  1/2-3/4 cup agave, or 1 cup organic sugar, (make a simple syrup if using sugar), plus one cup of white vinegar, Braggs Apple Cider vinegar or whatever other vinegar you choose. Pour mixture over the daikon strips in the jar. I use a plastic wide mouth jar lid instead of the twp piece metal lid, since the daikon will gas a little during the pickling process and the plastic cap isn't as tight a fit as the canning lids, so the gasses can sneak out. If you don't have the plastic lids that is fine, just don't screw the two piece lid down tight so the gasses can escape. The jars will sit in the fridge for at least 3 days and then I can use them for adding to salads, for use in vegan sushi or for my favorite use, to be the sparkle in the Vietnamese-style spring rolls that I make to go along with vegan Pho... yum!

The cubed daikon will be treated in two different ways. I will put some of the cubes and in a jar with finely chopped red bell peppers add 6 garlic cubes smashed and slivered, then covered with seasoned rice wine vinegar, (I usually use Maruchan), which is more mellow than the white vinegar and allows the garlic flavor to take center stage. The rest of the daikon were layered in a jar with blanched cauliflower, blanched baby carrots, onion slices and Thai bird chiles, (I grow my own, but they can be found in most oriental markets during their season, or  you can use dried cayenne peppers soaked and split, or red pepper flakes). The brine was the same as for the daikon strips, except that I cut the sugar quantity in half. These also should be left in the fridge for at least three days before use, more if you want the Thai chiles to have time to impart well developed bite to the veggies. We add the cubes to salads, or eat them as a side dish or use as a condiment for flavoring steamed rice.
The veggies are packed tight in the jars. I layer them because I think it is pretty, but you could just mix them all together and then pack into jars. When I do this I also add halved Brussel sprouts which are quite tasty pickled!
When pouring in the cooled brine, be sure to gently tap the jar to dislodge air bubbles that get trapped between the veggies. If they are stubborn and won't come loose, I use a bamboo skewer to slide down between the veggies and knock the bubbles loose.

Left to right, front to back: pickled mixed veggies with bird chiles, daikon cubes in rice wine vinegar, and in the back, sweet and sour pickled daikon strips.
The pickled veggies are good to dress up every day food, or add a little sparkle to left overs. But the best reason for having these crunchy, tasty and easy to make pickled goodies in the fridge, is that it makes it possible to make some of our favorites like vegan sushi or Vietnamese spring rolls in short order. I cook up large batches of sushi rice, season it and freeze it in serving sized packages, (quart sized freezer bags). The rice can be thawed in a few minutes by immersing the tightly sealed, bag in hot water. While the rice is thawing I prepare the vegetables by cutting thin strips of cukes, thinly julienned carrots, mung bean sprouts, and avacado strips, or really whatever is in the fridge... red bell peppers, jicima, thin strips of celery, steamed asparagus... and of course I drain some of the daikon pickles and have everything ready and waiting to roll up in nori sheets by the time the rice is thawed. I will do a blog post on making sushi sometime soon. They are fun and easy, and cost pennies to make. I hope you will give the daikon pickles a try, and if you do, please stop by and let me know what you think and how you used them... I would love to hear what you came up with!

Spiced Purple Cabbage Sauerkraut

4 pounds of purple cabbage, shredded
1 tsp. salt per pound of cabbage
2 apples cored and shredded
1 red beet scraped and shredded
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp.Turkish  Garam Masala ( any Garam Masala will work fine, or if you can't obtain it you can omit it, or make your own)

Prepare red cabbage, (follow the directions on my tutorial for preparing the cabbage and putting the prepared kraut in the jar to ferment.), once the cabbage has been prepared, add the apples, beets and spices. Work the added ingredients into the cabbage until uniformly distributed, then pack the 1/2  gallon capacity jar (or two quart sized mason jars), with the kraut mixture as directed in the above link to the tutorial. Pace jar in a bowl or other glass or plastic container, I often use a plastic shoe box, no lid required), to prevent an overflow mess. Gasses being released during fermentation may carry some of the liquid out of the jar as they go. The kraut will be ready 5-10 days after fermentation. Check at 5 days, if the kraut isn't sweet/tart enough for you then leave until you get the desired level of tartness. Refrigerate once you have reached desired flavor to prevent further fermentation.

Serving ideas:
Top your salad with the kraut and skip the dressing
Make a raw salad of cubed apples, thinly sliced celery, craisins, chopped walnuts, and the kraut.

If you eat cooked food and meat, this sauerkraut would be a tasty side dish, for broiled turkey keilbasa, with baked apples and pumpernickel bread. It would also be great in a mushroom or turkey Reuben, with Honey Mustard dressing instead of Thousand Island dressing and Pumpernickel bread instead of Rye bread.

Tropical Sunrise Punch

Serves 2 in goblets or 4 in juice glasses

One ripe carambola
Six large mandarine oranges (also known as clementines), or 8 small ones, peeled
One orange, peeled
One very ripe Ataulfo or "champaign" mango (the small golden mango), or 1/2 a very ripe Tommy Atkins,(the large, thick bodied green and red mango), peeled and seeded.
3/4 cup fresh pineapple
0ne carrot

Raw "Fish" Sauce

1/3 cup shredded seaweed, ( I use a combination of Wakame and Dulse)
1 1/2 cups water
2 fat cloves of garlic
1/1/2 tsp.peppercorns
1/2 cup Nama Shoyu or Braggs, or Tamari sauce.
1 Tblsp. Miso, red miso or barley miso
 Juice of 1 lime
1/1/2 tsp. organic sugar, (or comparable amount of alternative sweetener)
1/2 tsp. ground ginger or 1 1/2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
1/2 tsp. garlic granules
1/4 tsp. chili powder
2/3 cup shitake mushrooms, fresh or dried and soaked
Srirachi sauce, chile paste or cayenne powder to desired level of heat
Soak the seaweed in the water, if using dried shitake then add them to the soaking water as well. When the seaweed is hydrated, pour into a blender and add fresh shitake, ( if using dried shitake, when they are softened by the soaking water cap them and discard stems, then add to blender), blend to make a thick slurry. In a small personal blender place peeled and mashed garlic cloves, peppercorns, your choice of soy sauce equivalents, miso, lime juice vinegar, sweetener, and spices. Blend together to a fine paste, then add to the mushroom/seaweed mixture and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings if desired. Refrigerate and allow to mellow a few days before using.

With the "fish" sauce problem solved I went on to convert some of my favorite Thai recipes to raw/vegan and invited friends to dinner to test my recipes. The dinner started off with Thai Tomato Coconut Soup, then we had Thai Spring Rolls with dipping sauces and Pad Thai. The meal went over well with our friends and I was happy with the results. As with any foods that are converted from cooked to raw, there is the whole "but this food isn't hot" thing to get past, but then the raw food begins to speak for itself... it is clean and fresh, the textures are interesting, the flavors complex and the colors vibrant. You are getting all of the food's nutritive value, satisfying your mouth and your stomach, you can eat until your heart is content and have no guilt or fear for your waistline... Seems like a pretty easy trade off to me!

This coming Tuesday I will be giving a demonstration for the preparation of a raw Thai Food meal at a raw food group I belong to. I am posting all the recipes for the demonstration here on my blog so that you and anyone who attends the meeting can have access to the recipes if they want to try them at home, so this post will be a little longer than usual.

Raw Pad Thai
2-3 servings
1 pkg. Gold Mine raw kelp noodles, (available at Earth Fare or
Happy Pho brown rice noodles with seaweed, (available at Whole Foods)
1 cup bean sprouts
1 tsp. Sriracha or other chile paste, (optional but adds character)
1 Tblsp.Nama Shoyu, (soy sauce or Braggs depending upon your preference)
1/2 tsp.Chili powder
1 Tbsp. Uma Plum vinegar
1 scant tsp. sesame oil
1-2 clove garlic, pressed or minced
1/2 tsp.garlic granules
2-3 green onions, cut into thin strips
2 large Medjool date, pitted and soaked in scant 1/4 cup water
2 Tblsp. tamarind
Several sprigs cilantro
Juice of one lime
Carrots, shredded
Zucchini, shredded or julienned
Broccoli cut into small pieces
Red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
Peanuts or almonds chopped
1/3 cup "Fish" sauce
2 Tblsp. almond butter

  Combine the "fish" sauce, the tamarind paste, Sriracha,(optional), chili powder, fresh and granulated garlic, sugar, vinegar, Nama Shoyu or equivalent. If you are using the Happy Pho Brown rice noodles, soak 3 balls of noodles in 115 degree water for at least an hour. Drain well. If using the kelp noodles, drain well. Toss the noodles with half of the Pad Thai sauce and reserve the rest. Refrigerate several hours to allow the noodle to absorb flavors. Right before serving, toss noodles with remaining sauce, the carrots, zucchini, broccoli, and then top with bean sprouts, green onion strips, red bell pepper strips, cilantro and chopped nuts.
                                                                  Rawnola Bars 

Being on a vegan/raw diet sometimes presents a problem when it comes to rib sticking between meal snacks. Eating raw fruit and veggies as a snack option is great, but sometimes it is nice to have something with some protein in it. My solution  is to keep a supply of rawnola bars on hand. The ones that I have found at the health food store are very expensive and don't taste very good, so I decided to develop my own recipe.
Rawnola bars are full of all kinds for raw seeds, nuts, grains and fruit. They are sweet, crunchy and filling, but they are dehydrated at low temperatures, not baked, so they are raw. They are high in calories, due to all the nuts and fruit, so it isn't something I eat every day, but they are great for tucking into my purse or backpack for times when I am peckish and won't be home for hours.

Where granola bars are usually made with a base of rolled oats, rawnola bars use a base of buckwheat. The reason for using buckwheat instead of granola is two fold, #1 rolled oats are not really raw; heat is used in the process of removing the husk and rolling the grains flat, #2 sprouted buckwheat is not as dense and chewy as uncooked rolled oats, so the buckwheat makes the rawnola bars light and crunchy.

There are several parts to the process of making rawnola bars, so I often break up the process into to two sessions. One session to prepare the buckwheat and to soak the nuts and seeds and dehydrate them. The other to put the rawnola together and dehydrate it.

Step #1 Prepare the Buckwheat

  I usually prepare a large quantity of sprouted, dehydrated buckwheat and then just store it away for use whenever I need it. It makes great rawnola, but is also good for sprinkling on top of salads, or it can be a topping for a bowl of fruit. The texture is similar to Rice Crispies and the taste is not unlike Grape-nuts so it is great as a breakfast cereal as well. To prepare the buckwheat, start with organic raw buckwheat, ( not Kasha which is toasted and won't sprout). Raw organic buckwheat can be purchased in the bulk foods department of your local natural foods store, it may also be found on the isle with other Bob's Red Mill products. If you can't find it anywhere else, you can purchase it online from Bob's Red Mill .

 The buckwheat needs to be thoroughly rinsed. Place the desired amount in a fine mesh strainer and rinse, shaking the strainer for several minutes. Once you are sure it is well rinsed, place the buckwheat in a wide mouth canning jar, (I sprout large amounts at a time so I use a 1/2 gallon jar, but if you want to make less, a wide mouth quart is fine), cover with water to about an inch above the grains and leave to soak for 4 hours covered with cheese cloth and a rubber band or a plastic sprouting lid that will fit a wide mouth jar.

   Once the grain has soaked, pour liquid and grains into a strainer and rinse well for several minutes to remove the thick starchy liquid that will have formed. Return the grains to the jar, place the sprouting lid or cheesecloth on the jar, and invert the jar in a dish drainer or plastic storage container, at a slight angle, lid down to allow excess water to drain away. Rinse in the jar, two more times during the day, being sure to shake as much water as possible from the jar and return the jar to the draining area. Leave overnight to sprout. By mid morning the next day, tiny tails should begin to appear on the grain. 
On top is unsoaked raw buckwheat. On the bottom is buckwheat that has been sprouted and dehydrated. If you look closely at the bottom sample you can see the tiny dehydrated tails

At this point, the grains are ready to be used in a recipe or if you are preparing them ahead for use later, spread the grains out on a Teflex dehydrator sheet on a  dehydrator tray and dehydrate at 105 degrees for 4-6 hours, or until bone dry and crispy when tasted. If you don't have a dehydrator, spread the grains out evenly on a shallow edged baking sheet and place in the oven at lowest possible temperature. Prop the door open with a empty metal can from the recycling to allow some air circulation. Turn the tray 180 degrees at least once during drying process to insure the grains are evenly dried. Once dry store the grains in an airtight container.

I also soak nut and seeds in bulk, soaking and dehydrating a whole bag of nuts or seeds at one time. I do this so that I have a shorter prep time on the day I plan to use them in a recipe. I soak all nuts and some seeds, due to the fact that there is a digestive inhibitor present on the surface of most nuts and seeds that blocks access to many nutrients and can cause gastric distress. The process is very simple. Soak the seeds for the recommended time, drain and rinse, then put in the dehydrator at 105 degrees until the dry. At this point I put them in a freezer Ziploc, label, date and freeze for future use.

Step#2 Assemble and Combine Ingredients
*Pumpkin is just a prop and is not part of the recipe... although that isn't such a bad idea...I'll have to try it in the future!*

2 cups raw almonds, soaked  4 hours then drained
1-2 cups raw pecan, soaked 4 hours then drained
1-2 large apples, shredded
1 1/2 cups date paste, *7-10 pitted Mejhool dates soaked for 1 1/2 hours in water to cover. Reserve 1/4 cup soaking water and drain the rest of the water. Place dates and water in a blender and puree.
1 cup raw sunflower seeds, soaked for 1 1/2 hours then drained
1 cup soaked pumpkin seeds, soaked 1 1/2 hours then drained
1/3 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup flax seeds
1/2-3/4 cup sprouted raw buckwheat
1 cup finely shredded coconut
1 cup craisins
1 tsp. pink Himalayan salt, (ground fine), or Real salt
2-3 Tbsp. Agave or honey if desired
2 Tbsp. orange juice and 2 Tbsp. finely zested orange peel
1 Tbps. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1Tbsp. vanilla, (I use Mexican vanilla so I use a little less)
In a food processor, place soaked and drained almonds and pecans and process to medium sized pieces.

 Add sunflower seeds, flax seeds and and buckwheat, pulse 2-3 times.Turn out into a large bowl, add pumpkin and sesame seeds, coconut, and Craisins, , mix well with hands.

                 Place shredded apples and soaked dates in the food processor.

  Process the apples, date paste, orange juice and zest, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and optional honey to a thick consistency.

Step #3 Dehydrating and Finishing the Bars
Add the apple mixture to the nut mixture and work in well with your hands. Spread the mixture evenly on two Teflex sheet on dehydrator trays, making sure to square off the edges as much as possible. Place in the dehydrator and set the temperature to 105 degrees. Dehydrate until the mixture is mostly dry on the surface and the Teflex sheet can be lifted at the edge of the sheet and peeled away from the back side of the rawnola, without sticking to the sheet. Slide the Teflex sheet off the tray, place the tray on top of the exposed side of the rawnola, and carefully turn the rawnola over so that the exposed side is facing down on the tray. Peel the Teflex sheet off of the top of the rawnola and return the trays to the dehydrator until the rawnola is dry all the way through. The total drying time will depend on atmospheric conditions, if it is damp or raining it will take longer, but the drying time will range from 12-18 hours in total. **For those without a dehydrator, use the technique described above for the buckwheat. The only difference being to use parchment on the trays when spreading the wet rawnola, and then invert the rawnola onto another tray when the top is mostly dry to the touch and the rawnola can be lifted up from the parchment at the corner.

Once the rawnola has completely cooled, take an extra dehydrator tray and place it on top of the exposed side of the rawnola. Turn the trays over so that the tray that originally held the rawnola is on top. Lift off the top tray and remove the plastic tray liner from the back of the rawnola . Slide the rawnola off of the bottom tray and onto a cutting surface. Cut into bars with a sharp knife. I cut them into strips 2 inches wide and then cut them into individual pieces that will fit into a snack sized ziploc-style bag.  Stored in a cool, dry place these bars will last for a month or more...if you don't gobble them up before then! Enjoy!

                                                                  Roasted Veggie Stock
Run through the juicer and serve. If using a blender, blend all until smooth and strain to remove carambola seeds, citrus skins and pineapple and carrot pulp. It can be chilled, but I think the flavor is more pronounced at room temperature

We store in bulk many of the food items that we regularly use so I have an outdoor pantry. During the winter months it stays stays around 40 degrees in the pantry. I store my 3 month pantry goods in there, but I also use it as a make shift of root cellar. I store my citrus fruits like grapefruits and oranges, as well as bushels of apples, and bags of potatoes and onions, and ropes of garlic. It works quite well, but eventually things will reach the end of their freshness and they will start to grow tops or sprout eyes. So periodically I will go through and cull out any veggies that are a little past their prime, cut them into chunks and and roast them.
Culled veggies chunked for roasting
I put the chunked veggies, skins and all on a large tray that has a thin layer of melted coconut oil on it, then spray the tops lightly with my olive oil filled Misto to prevent charring. Then I pop the tray in a 400 degree oven and roast until the vegetables are done through and caramelized.

 Once they are all soft and caramelized I put them in a stock pot or crock pot, (depending on how many culls I have), and add the bag of vegetable tops,ends and juicing pulp that I keep in the freezer for just such an occasion. I will cover the whole business with water, add salt and seasonings like fresh or dried herbs and whole pepper corns and put the pot on to boil. I boil the vegetables, adding water as needed, until the vegetables are cooked to a pulp. As it cooks, the house is filled with the redolent aroma of roasted vegetables... M-mmm, it make me hungry to think about it!!

 At this point I let the contents of the pot cool and then put the vegetables and stock into a large cheese cloth lined strainer, with another pot underneath to catch the strained broth.
I strain the stock in batches, pulling up the corners of the cloth and squeezing all the juices out before sending the pulp to the compost bin.

The resulting stock is a lovely golden color, and the flavor is rich and full bodied. I usually can some for the 3 month pantry and put some in reuseable, stackable plastic containers, in the freezer. I use the stock for a soup base for many different kinds of soup, one of my favorites being Sambar soup. Sambar soup is a spicy, thick soup with its roots in Indian cuisine. It is great to warm you from the inside out on a cold blustery day! The stock is also a great base for a simple vegetable soup,vegan tortilla soup, or really, it is good enough to just serve hot all by itself!

Savory Mushroom Stock

A variety of fresh and dried mushrooms, like Shitaki, Enoki, Trumpet, Oyster, Beech and Portabello mushrooms to equal 5 pounds of mushrooms.
2-3 large yellow onions quartered, skins left on
 4-5 whole heads of garlic, cut into two pieces through the center
5 large bay leaves
3-4 large sprigs of fresh rosemary
several springs of fresh thyme
2-3 Tbsp. salt

In a large stock pot, (mine is 20 quart), place all the mushrooms, onions, garlic, bay leaves, fresh herbs and salt in stock pot. Add water to cover mushrooms and fill the pot about 3/4 full, (amount of water would vary according to the size of the mushrooms). Place lid on pot and set heat at medium high until the water is boiling. Reduce heat to medium or even medium low depending on your stove. You want the stock to be at a slow simmer. Simmer for several hours, until the mushrooms are reduced to mush and the stock pot is about 1/2 full. Taste and adjust salt to taste. Strain the broth off into another pot and let it cool. You should have enough stock to fill between 6 and 8 quart-sized freezer bags. Place bags stacked two deep on a tray and freeze. Freezing them on a tray will make them easier to store when you take them off the tray. I usually return the mushrooms to the pot, add more onions and garlic, herbs and salt, and water to cover. Then I put it in the crock pot and cook for several hours. This usually gives me a few quarts more of stock to freeze. I sometimes throw in some dried shitaki just to make sure there is plenty of mushroomy goodness in the second batch.


                                 Sambar Soup

*Some of these ingredients may not be readily available in the local grocery store, but can be purchased at an Indian grocery or even a Middle Eastern market, or online.

*1/2 cup Toor Dal, (dried split Pigeon Peas, may substitute with yellow split peas)
3/4 tsp. turmeric powder
*4-6 drumstick vegetable, (found frozen at the Indian market, but can be optional... they are woody on the outside and must be removed before serving to the uninitiated, but once familiar with them, they can be split and the soft centers sucked out. It's flavor is a cross between a green bean and asparagus. It is optional but does add a nice nuance to the soup. Possible substitution? The stems of asparagus would do... and if you are just wanting to flavor the pot and pull them out it would be a good use for the tough lower stems of the asparagus that you would normally throw away)
*2 Tblsp. Tamarind paste, (can be found in Latino and Indian Markets, the Indian market carries tamarind paste that is in a ready to use resealable pouch. The Latino market usually sells the tamarind in a "cake" which you cut a chunk off of and soak before using to loosen and remove the seeds. If you can't find tamarind paste, a Tblsp. of dark molasses and a 1 1/2 tsp. of balsamic vinegar will approximate the tamarind flavor).
*1 1/2-2 Tblsp. Sambar powder,( purchase from the Indian market, online or do what I like to do and make your own! Recipe follows.)
*1/2 tsp. Hing, also known as asefetida, (translated is means" it smells fetid".It is optional, but may be found at the Indian market.
1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
2 Tblsp. coconut oil
1/2 tsp. black mustard seed
1/4 tsp. fenugreek seed,( also known as Methi in the Indian store)
*10 curry leaves, (optional)
2 red hot chiles, split and minced, seeded if you want less heat. Use latex gloves or you will regret it... )
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, chopped
2 potatoes, cubed
1 chayote, peeled, seeded and cubed (optional, but really nice addition, can be found in the vegetable section of many grocery stores, looks like a bright green pear).
You can also add some celery, onion, chunks of sweet potato... whatever suits you, but know this, the soup is supposed to be more on the soupy side than the stew side... so make sure to have lots of broth if you add extra veggies. 
6 cups of water, (add more if the soup is getting too thick)

Rinse the Toor Dal in a strainer until the water runs clear. Put in pot with enough water to cover, (not the 6 cups...that is for later), let soak 20 minutes, then drain. Add 6 cups water, 1/2 tsp. turmeric and 1/4 tsp. Hing. Simmer until dal is soft. take about half of the toor dal and some of the cooking water and place in the blender, add Sambar powder, the rest of the Hing and turmeric, salt, and tamarind paste and blend until everything is liquified. Add back to the pot, stir well and add drum stick vegetable, carrots, potatoes, chayote, hot peppers and garlic. Add enough water to cover vegetables and cook over medium heat until vegetables are just tender. 10 minutes before removing from the heat, in a small skillet, heat the coconut oil to very hot, add mustard seed and swirl until the seeds start to pop, then add fenugreek and curry leaves. continue swirling over heat to keep from burning spices.When fenugreek is starting to turn darker, remove from heat and pour into soup. It will sizzle so be cautious. Stir in well and cook a little while to blend flavors, 5 minutes or so. Serve in bowls and top with chopped cilantro.

*Note: this is a spicy soup, if you are not able to stand much spicy heat, cut the Sambar spice back by half and leave out the red chiles. To keep from losing all your flavor when reducing the "heat", add 1 Tblsp. Garam Masala, or if you have to... 1 healthy tsp. curry powder.

                                                       Sambar Spice 

1/2 cup coriander seeds
1 Tblsp.cumin seeds
2 Tblsp.Channa dal
2 Tblsp. Dhuli Moong Dal (split mung beans)
2 Tblsp. Toor Dal (split pigeon peas)
1 Tbsp.brown mustard seed
1 Tbsp.10-12 black peppercorns
1 Tbsp. fenugreek seeds
25-30 dried red chiles
2-3 Tblsp. turmeric

Dry roast coriander, cumin seed, dals, fenugreek seeds, peppercorns and chiles 3-4 minutes in a cast iron skillet over medium heat, with no oil, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Remove from heat and place in a bowl . Cool completely. Transfer to a bullet blender or spice/coffee grinder, add turmeric and grind to a fine powder. Store labeled in an air tight container out of the light. I use this spice frequently so I make the whole recipe, but you may want to start by cutting the recipe in half. 

                                                                  Spring Rolls
Happy Pho Brown Rice Wrappers, (can be purchased at Whole Foods or online at
Shredded, Carrots
Shredded, Zucchini
Kelp noodles or rice noodles
Napa cabbage, shredded
Pickled daikon radish
Bell pepper, cut in thin strips

Place a container of  warm water near your works surface. Take one of the rice wrappers and soak in the warm water until it begins to soften. Place wrapper on clean work surface, smooth out until completely flat. Add small quantity of carrots, shredded zucchini, Napa cabbage,pickled daikon, basil, cilantro and bell pepper. On side of the wrapper closest to you, arrange the vegetables evenly over 1/3 of the wrapper, starting in an inch from either end to allow room to fold ends in. Add small quantity of kelp noodles to the vegetables if desired , then fold the side in over the vegetables. Carefully fold the side closest to you over the top of the vegetables and begin rolling the vegetables up "egg roll style"  in the wrapper. Keep a gentle but firm grip on the roll and tuck the vegetables in as you roll to keep things tight. If using the Happy Pho brown rice wrappers it will be necessary to soak and wrap the roll in a second wrapper, since the whole grain wrappers split fairly easily. If using regular rice flour wrappers, only one wrapper is necessary since there is no bran to make it less elastic.  Right before serving cut roll in half on a diagonal and serve with dipping sauces.

                                            Smoked Cheese/ Smoked Cheese and Turkey Sandwich
One day I was in the back yard smoking chipotle peppers, (I grow jalapeno peppers and let them ripen until they turn red, just for this purpose). As I was taking the last tray of peppers out of the smoker, I was lamenting to myself that there was still so much good smoke left and I hated to waste it... I was casting about for something to put in the smoker to take advantage of the remaining smoke, when it dawned on me that I had a huge block of cheese in the house that I was going to cut up into pieces and freeze. I am vegan and don't eat cheese, but my husband loves it. He is especially fond of smoked cheese, but it is so expensive that I usually only get it for special occasions. So I decided to smoke some of the cheddar just as an experiment.

 I was afraid that the cheese would melt, and I didn't want to waste it, so I started out by just putting one small chunk of cheese in the smoker. I looked in the side door of the smoker and checked for heat. The coals were mostly gone and all that was left was the fruit wood prunings smoldering in the tray, so I put the block of cheese on the rack and put the lid on. I left it 5 minutes and then lifted the lid to make sure it the cheese wasn't melting through the cracks. It was warm to the touch on the surface, but was still firm. So I turned the cheese and smoked it for another 5 minutes, then it took it out and smelled it. It smelled wonderful! When my husband got home, I had him try a piece. He said it tasted better than the store bought smoked cheese.

So I set aside some time the next day to smoke the rest of the block of cheddar that I had. The smoker that I have is a Brinkman Smoke 'n' Grill.  I got it on sale at the end of the season at Ace Hardware for $29, but they normally run about $45. It has two racks and two pans, one pan for coals the other pan for water, (if you a smoking a turkey or something that takes a long time, it is necessary to have the water to keep things from drying out). I took one pan out and set it aside. I put the other pan on the hanger at the very bottom of the smoker. Then I soaked small twigs and branches of fruit wood, no larger around than my finger, in a bucket of water. *Note I have a supply of fruit wood prunings from my fruit trees, but if you don't have fruit trees, you can purchase Hickory smoking chips and the natural briquettes at the grocery or hardware store.*

While the branches were soaking, I took several layers of newspaper, twisted them tightly and dripped candle wax on them until they were coated, (I use candle wax instead of lighter fluid, because I don't like lighter fluid). I put the newspaper in the pan I had set aside, add a healthy handful of tinder sized twigs, and then placed a small mound of  natural hardwood briquettes on the twigs and newspaper twists and lit the paper. I let the briquettes burn until they were covered in a light coating of ash and were mostly white on the outside, then I took a pair of tongs and placed three briquettes in the pan that was in the smoker. I placed a small pile of the soaked fruit wood twigs on the briquettes, making sure they were in contact with the coals and closed the side door and placed the lid on the smoker. Before long thick smoke started to leak out around the edges of the lid indicating it was time for me to put the cheese on the rack.

I took the lid off the smoker and checked to make sure it wasn't hot inside the smoker, then I placed the blocks of cheese on the rack making sure to leave room for the smoke to circulate around each block.
 I smoked the cheese for 5 minutes on each side. I did several batches of cheese, so as the briquettes burned down and the twigs were consumed, I added more to the pan in the bottom of the smoker, using the side door.When I was finished smoking the cheese, I took them inside on a tray and put them in the fridge to cool. Once cool, I wrapped them individually in plastic wrap and then stacked them in a gallon freezer bag, and labeled them with contents and date. They will keep for many month without freezer burn since they are double wrapped.

                  Here is a recipe for one of my husband's favorite smoked cheese sandwiches:

Two sliced of homemade whole wheat bread (or a good quality store bought equivalent)
2 -3 Slices turkey breast (or leftover Thanksgiving turkey if it is that time of year)
One thin slice of red onion
2 Tbsp. whole berry cranberry sauce (for the Fall and winter version) or 4 slices of Granny Smith apple (for the Spring and Summer version)
Clover sprouts
2 thin slices of smoked cheddar

Spread mayo thinly on both pieces of bread. Place 1/2 turkey on bottom piece of bread, place cranberry sauce or apples and the sliced onion on the turkey then add the remaining turkey, smoked cheese and the sprouts. Top with the second piece of bread. Press down lightly to settle ingredients, cut into halves and serve. * If you're not a mayo fan then replace the mayo with honey dijon mustard.   Provecho!

Thai  Tomato Coconut Soup

This is a great way to start off a Thai dinner. This creamy soup only takes a few minutes, but it has a complex flavor and just enough "heat" from the chipotle to make you feel  like you are eating hot soup!

Serves 4 as first course or 2-3 as dinner

3 cups cherry tomatoes
3 Tbsp.coconut oil
Juice of 2 limes
1/2 cup cilantro
1 Tblsp.agave, maple syrup or honey
2 tsp. minced fresh ginger
1-2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 Tblsp. tomato powder, (optional but really adds something to the soup! You can find dehydrated tomato powder here, or make your own using sun dried tomatoes blended to powder in a bullet blender.)
1 tsp. salt
1/3 cup chipotle en adobo or 1-11/2 tsp. chipotle powder
1/2 cup basil shredded thinly, (reserved for serving time)
1/2 avacado, cut in cubes, (reserved for serving time)
1/2 cup chopped cucumber, (reserved for serving time)
1 Tblsp.agave, maple syrup or honey

In a blender, combine all ingredients with 1/4-1/2 cup of water, (depending on the consistency desired. start with 1/4 cup water and ad up to 1/4 cup more if needed), and blend until smooth and creamy.  Divide avocado and cucumber into individual bowls, spoon soup into bowls and top with basil strips.

                                                    Whatever You've Got Fruit Smoothie

Makes a blender full which will serve 3-4 or will serve two and make a couple of trays of popsicles
2 bananas
1 handful frozen strawberries2 handfuls frozen mangoes or peaches
1 handful frozen or fresh blueberries, blackberries or cherries
enough fruit juice to make smoothie the desired consisitency 1 1/2- 2 cups. I use unsweetened pineapple juice or 100% fruit juice,(cranberry, cherry berry, pomegranate).

In blender put bananas, and mangoes and enough juice to blend, (start with 1/2 cup), once that is pretty well blended, add the rest of the fruit. Pour the juice through the hole in the lid and pulse to get the blender to chew through the fruit chunks. Continue to add juice until the blender has blended the berries into the bananas and mango and the blender is churning the mixture without any trouble. How much liquid you add is up to you, make it as thick or as thin as you desire. This is a great kid pleaser. The nice thing is that it is a great way to get more fruit into their diet with no complaint.

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