Saturday, May 28, 2011

Freestone Fermentation Festival

A week ago I attended Freestone Fermentation Festival. At the festival, I sampled different kinds of kimchi, cheeses, miso, pickles, sauerkraut, natto and kombucha. Kombucha was extremely popular at this year's festival because of its first People’s Kombucha Awards.

I put my hand in a cedar enzyme bath. It was the first time I heard such a spa treatment. It felt nice because it's warm, and I am sure it's relaxing to be buried in it. It's probably similar to being buried in hot sand on a beach, but I am not sure about other health benefits it offers.

Mycological Society of San Francisco had a booth at the event to promote the organization. Master Ken and many of his students from Merritt College were there tending the booth. Master Ken was also a speaker at the event. His "FermentoMondoRama: Get Down and Dirty with Fermentation" was a demonstration that involved heavy audience participation. Within minutes after he introduced himself and his assists, people have volunteered to go up to the front to make bread, sauerkraut, and mead with prickly pears. I just recently got a Toshiba Camileo H30 camcorder, so I was busy recording the event. Below is a short clip of Mater Ken explaining how to capture local yeast:

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Mayo-Free Tuna Salad

Do you like tuna salad but don't like all that cholesterol in mayonnaise that's often used to make tuna salad? I love tuna salad, but I try to keep a low cholesterol diet. When I eat tuna at home, I often just sprinkle it with a little salt, pepper, and hot sauce.

Yesterday when I attended Freestone Fermentation Festival, I sat through The Veggie Queen, Jill Nussinow's demo on making a "Miso Tahini Garlic Sauce." It was a very simple recipe and very tasty over the brown rice samplers she handed out at the demo.

This morning I was trying to come up with something for the last potluck of Master Ken's Mushroom Cultivation class. I have several cans of tuna that I got when they were on sale last week. I thought about that Miso Tahini Garlic Sauce from yesterday. Some people might find it weird about making tuna salad with miso. Miso is often used as a marinade for fish in Japanese dishes, so it wasn't that far off for me to make the connection. I don't have any Tahini sauce, but Jill mentioned that peanut butter works as well. I have some unsweetened natural peanut butter from Trader Joe's. It would be the perfect substitute.

I served my Asian fusion tuna salad at the potluck, and people loved it. They couldn't really tell what I used to make it all creamy and were quite surprised to learn some of the ingredients. Here's my tuna salad recipe:

2 7oz. cans of solid white Albacore tuna in water
1/4 cup of diced white onion/or celery (adjust according to your preference)
1/4 cup of diced tomatoes
1/8 cup of sweet peas (I happen to have a lot of sweet peas in the garden right now)
1 table spoon of chopped green onion for garnish

For the sauce (makes about 1/4 cup):
2 cloves of minced or crushed garlic
1 to 2 tablespoons of miso. (Jill used mellow white miso. I used red miso. Both are good)
3-4 table spoons of unsweetened natural peanut butter (or raw tahini)
1-2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
water or broth as needed

Mix all the sauce ingredients, adding water or broth to get the desired consistency. When the sauce is done, add it to the drained tuna, peas, diced tomatoes and onion. Mixed it all together. Sprinkle some chopped green onion on top for garnish. You can make a tuna salad sandwich or serve it as a dip with some crackers and/or bread.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Harvesting Spinach

I saved some pathetic looking spinach seedlings from the greenhouse on Merritt College campus in January this year. There were 18 seedlings packed into a 6-cell pack. They were going to the compost pile, but I decided to take the time to separate them into 3 6-cell packs. They sat on my outdoor propagation table for about 3 months before I transplanted them in one of my vegetable beds at the end of March. They would have grown faster if I kept them inside but then I might forget to water them. I left them on the propagation table so they could get misted everyday.

For a while I thought I was losing all of them to the pill bugs. I asked Master Ken what I could do to get rid of the pill bugs safely. I don't ever want to use pesticide on anything I grow. He told me to spray my soil where the bugs are with diluted soapy water. We are talking about 2 drops of dish detergent in 1 quart of water. This is similar to another friend's recipe on getting rid of aphids.

I sprayed the spinach bed with the solution, and within days I saw a significant improvement. In one particular corner, the spinach started to flourish. Every year I try to grow spinach because it is my favorite green leafy vegetable. They aren't as big as super market bunches, but I get to pick them right in my own yard, and I know they can never be contaminated with e-coli. I am going to sauté this whole basket of spinach with a little olive oil and garlic and grill a piece of hamachi fillet for dinner .