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Archive for December, 2011

Some years ago, my husband and I replaced a section of our backyard lawn with edible plants and flowers.  It was a full two-day job but we felt so good knowing that we were going to be growing our own organic food.

Following are pictures of the project:

My husband used a sod-cutter to efficiently remove the grass from its roots

Goodbye water-hogging grass and hello organic produce ūüôā

We hauled the grass away to a green waste recycling facility

We then tilled the soil with a roto-tiller to further remove roots and to aerate and de-compact our heavy clay soil:

Tilling our soil

We then had to amend our heavy clay soil in order to make it a thriving environment for plants and worms.

In our home, we have embraced the gardening staples of composting and use our compost to feed our plants and ultimately feed ourselves.

In our plan, we included water and energy conservation practices as well as incorporating the Three R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle).

Following is a picture of our completed organic garden project:

We plant crops twice a year:

Warm weather crops in spring (April, May)

and

Cold weather crops in fall (Sept., Oct.)

Following are pictures of some of the warm weather crops that we plant in spring (April, May):

Delicious Organic Sweet Corn

Organic Heirloom Yellow Grape Tomatoes

Organic Heirloom Green Tomato Variety

Organic Jalape√Īo Peppers

Organic Black Sweet Peppers

Our beautiful Organic Peaches and Blackberries

We also plant:

Organic Blueberries, Raspberries & Strawberries

Organic Eggplant & various other varieties of Sweet Peppers

Many, many organic herbs and more

Following are some pictures of cold weather crops that we plant in fall (Sept.,Oct):

Red Beets

Cabbage

Brussels Sprouts

Broccoli getting an organic compost tea bath

 Cauliflower

We also plant:

Asparagus

Carrots

Celery

Turnips

Butter Crunch Lettuce

New Red Fire Lettuce

Rainbow Brite Swiss Chard

Kale

Spinach

Italian Parsley

Basil

Red Zeppelin Onion

Chives

and lots of herbs (including mint for wonderful mint teas this winter)

We also have two apple trees that give us beautiful apples every fall:

And we have an avocado tree that produces fruit around the first day of winter (typically around December 21st). ¬†This variety of avocado is called a “Holiday” avocado tree. ¬†Following is a picture of the beautiful fruit it bears:

Lastly, we have three citrus trees (Orange, Lime & Lemon) that give us delicious fruit.

We practice companion planting as it is based around the idea that certain plants can benefit when others are planted next to or close to one another.  Companion planting exists to provide plants with natural pest control without the use of chemicals and in some cases they can give a higher crop yield.

Following is a picture of borage being used as a companion plant:

As a bonus, bee’s love borage and I love bee’s!

Finally, I have some good news: as of today, I’ve lost a total of 40 pounds on a whole foods, plant-based diet and I feel wonderful. ¬†I am a 1/3 of the way to my ultimate weight loss goal and I’m enjoying every moment by eating the most amazing fresh, organic foods in the process.

I hope that by reading this, I inspire you to grow your own organic produce:-)

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Blessings to you and yours!

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Level 2: Day 20

Friday, December 23, 2011

LEVEL 2: Advanced Raw Cuisine

Week 4

Day 20: Gift Shop Projects and Graduation
Today was my graduation day and the last day of my culinary adventure in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma USA. ¬†It’s a bitter-sweet ending to a wonderful experience. ¬†I’ve met some amazing people along this journey and will walk away with many wonderful memories and lessons learned.
Following are the final moments captured of this journey:
My Almond Maple Brittle Gift Shop Project
My Almond Maple Brittle packaged & for sale in the Matthew Kenney Gift Shop
Graduation & Diploma
Barbara and I saying goodbye (for now) after graduation…can’t wait to see what the future holds for us!
Thank you for following my blog and supporting me along this culinary school journey.  I will continue to post from time to time and provide you with some wonderful recipes along the way.
Until then, blessings to you and yours.

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Level 2: Day 19

Thursday, December 22, 2011

LEVEL 2: Advanced Raw Cuisine

Week 4

Day 19: Tiramisu

Today we completed making Tiramisu.  Following is a picture showing what the Tiramisu looks like after sitting in the freezer for 24 hours:

Hand model Chef Sean Murray holding frozen Tiramisu “cake”

Next, it was time to cut the 2.6″ x 2/6″ slices:

Hand model Chef Sean Murray

Now that each piece is 2.6″ x 2.6″, it’s time to make the Espresso Foam:

Hand model Chef Megan Massoth making Espresso Foam

Following is my plating interpretation of this recipe:

Tiramisu resting in an Espresso Foam – YUM!

Have a wonderful day!

Blessings to you and yours ūüôā

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Level 2: Day 18

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

LEVEL 2: Advanced Raw Cuisine

Week 4

Day 18: Tiramisu, “Gift Shop Project” &¬†Pistachio Nougatine w/ Dark Chocolate & Orange Marmalade

Today we learned how to make Tiramisu. ¬†But this Tiramisu is not like the traditional Tiramisu with Lady Fingers, Espresso and Rum. ¬†Instead, we used a technique common in raw food cuisine and that is, to mimic the flavor and textural elements of the original dish in every bite. ¬†In fact, that’s the basic strategy for most high-end contemporary raw food cuisine.

This recipe has six components to it.  Two of these components need to be frozen and then processed by the Paco Jet in order to create a whipped texture.

Today, we made the cake batter and pressed down firmly and evenly into a 13 x 9 pan:

Hand Model Chef Megan Massoth

Notice how Chef Megan has packed down the cake “dough” firmly and evenly

After pressing the cake “dough” into the 13″x9″ pan, it was time to spread the Chantilly Cream which had already been whipped by the Paco Jet:

Hand Model Chef Megan Massoth

Notice how Chef Megan is evenly spreading the Chantilly Cream with an offset spatula until nice and smooth.

After the Chantilly Cream is smoothed out, loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap ensuring not to touch the Chantilly Cream you worked so hard to evenly spread.  Then place the pan into the freezer for 6-8 hours to prepare for your next layer of Tiramisu Whip:

 Notice once again the importance of evenly spreading the layer of Tiramisu Whip

Every layer on this dessert must be firmly and evenly pressed down and spread. ¬†Once the Tiramisu Whip was added, we then placed the entire pan in the freezer again until tomorrow…

The next project on the agenda was my¬†“Gift Shop Project”

Almond Nut Brittle

Following is a picture of two different techniques I used to make the brittle and I am finding that one technique might just give me the “Snap” I am seeking in my brittle:

Same recipe, same ingredients, two different techniques, two different colors

What do you think I did differently?

Our final recipe for the day was:

Pistachio Nougatine w/ Dark Chocolate & Orange Marmalade

Yesterday, I showed you “Chocolate Covered Nougatine Bon Bon’s.” ¬†This is the same recipe but I shaped the “dough” differently. ¬†Instead of making the dough into balls, I pressed it into a pan. ¬†Also, this is served with an Orange Marmalade Sauce. Following is my plating interpretation of this recipe:

YUM!

Well, that’s all for today.

Only two more days of school left and I graduate! ¬†Tonight I have homework and studying to do. ¬†I can’t wait to show you how my “Gift Shop” project turns out…keep your fingers crossed that my brittle snaps!

Blessings to you and yours.

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Level 2: Day 16 & Day 17

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

LEVEL 2: Advanced Raw Cuisine

Week 4

Day 16: Lecture, Food Costing and Q & A (no food preparation)

Day 17: Chocolate Covered Nougatine Bon Bon’s,¬†¬†Almond Maple Brittle (my recipe), Caprese w/ Mozzarella “Cheese”, Balsamic Reduction & Pesto

Yesterday, we didn’t prepare any food. ¬†Instead, we listened to lecture, learned about food “Costing”¬†and engaged in some Q & A.

Today, we began the day by making:

Chocolate Covered Nougatine Bon Bon’s

For the nougatine, I used coconut flour, various nuts including pistachio nuts, honey, almond extract and rose-water. ¬†Then I coated the nougatine bon bon’s in a chocolate glaze sauce that was really fun to make from scratch. ¬†For the chocolate sauce, I used cacao butter from the largest block of cacao butter I have ever seen! ¬†Following is a picture:

This is roughly 30″ Long x 24″ High x 15″ Wide

For the chocolate glaze I used cacao butter, coconut oil, maple syrup, salt, vanilla and added the cacao powder last to create a lovely, shiny chocolate glaze. ¬†Following is a picture of the chocolate covered nougatine bon bon’s:

For our next project, we had to create our own recipe for a product we want to sell in the Matthew Kenney Gift Shop. ¬†I immediately thought of Nut Brittle. ¬†I really want to create a recipe that will produce a hard candy snap in raw cuisine! ¬†So, the challenge is on and since we don’t have enough time to test the recipe, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it will SNAP like proper brittle should. ¬†Following is a picture of the brittle as it gets ready to go into the dehydrator for 4 days:

I will gladly share this recipe if it works out ūüôā

Our final recipe for the day was:

Caprese with Mozzarella “Cheese”, Balsamic Reduction & Pesto

Following is my plating interpretation of this recipe:

Well, that’s all for today. ¬†I have three more days left of school and I will graduate on Friday – YAY! ¬†I’m not sure how many other dishes we will be preparing in class this final week as we are all busy making our “Gift Shop Projects” and preparing our presentations. ¬†On top of that, we are busy studying for our final exam this Friday. I hope my Almond Nut Brittle turns out for my “Gift Shop Project.” ¬†Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Have a wonderful evening and thank you for visiting my blog.

Blessings to you and yours.

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Level 2: Day 15

Friday, December 16, 2011

LEVEL 2: Advanced Raw Cuisine

Week 3

Day 15: Pomegranate Red Velvet Cupcakes, Strawberry Banana Napoleon w/ Chantilly Cream Topping, Wine & “Cheese” Tasting

Our first recipe for the day was:

Pomegranate Red Velvet Cupcakes

We had so much fun learning how to make cupcakes without them being dense. ¬†I couldn’t believe how moist and spongy these are for being raw! ¬†Following is a picture of this recipe:

YUM!

Our next recipe was:

Strawberry Banana Napoleon

This recipe began this past week when we made Macadamia Pastry Crisps, Strawberry Ganache, Chantilly Cream and Solid Chocolate Sheets.  After a lot of prep work for this dessert, today, we assembled all the components to create one decadent dessert.  Following is my plating interpretation of this recipe:

We froze the Chantilly Cream on top to resemble ice cream – YUM!

As a nice start to the weekend, we ended the day with a wine and “cheese” tasting. ¬†Following are pictures of the wines and my “cheese” plate:

Brazil & Macadamia Nut “Cheese” Rolled in Basil & Chives served with Pesto & Marinated Fresh & Sundried Tomatoes

Aged Cashew “Cheese” Rolled in Walnuts & Black Pepper Served with Lavender Infused Honey & Candied Pecans

My third “Cheese” was Brazil & Macadamia Nut “Cheese” smoked with Applewood

Well, that’s all for today. ¬†I can’t believe I have only one more week left of school and I will graduate. ¬†Thank you for visiting my blog.

Have a wonderful evening and lovely weekend.

Blessings to you and yours.


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Level 2: Day 14

Thursday, December 15, 2011

LEVEL 2: Advanced Raw Cuisine

Week 3

Day 14: Homemade Vanilla Extract, Basic Solid Chocolate & Warm Pecan Tart

Today we learned how to make:

Homemade Vanilla Extract

I was amazed to learn that the process of making vanilla extract from scratch is really easy.  Following is the process:

  • Sterilize a glass container (mason jar is perfect)
  • Using a knife, slice 3 medium vanilla beans lengthwise to expose the seeds but do not scrape the seeds out
  • Place sliced vanilla beans in mason jar
  • Pour 1 cup of high quality organic vodka over the beans and seal jar tightly
  • Store the jar in a cool, dark place for 2-6 months and extract will be ready to use in a minimum of 2 months

Following is a picture of the one we made today:

Basic Solid Chocolate
Today we learned how to make chocolate from scratch and we then learned how to temper this chocolate.  The process of tempering chocolate helps the chocolate to set up firmly so it will snap when bit into or broken.  Tempering chocolate also helps give chocolate a glossy sheen and brings out the depth of flavor.
The first thing we were introduced to was solid raw cacao butter.  Following is a picture:
Solid Raw Cacao Butter
We then melted this raw cacao butter to get it ready for making chocolate from scratch:
Look at that gorgeous color!
We were then introduced to Raw Cacao Paste.  Following is a picture:
We then set up a sort of double broiler with hot water in one metal bowl and then placed the other metal bowl with the melted cacao butter on top of the hot water bowl. We then added the cacao paste chunks and began to whisk.
Tempering is quite a process and you must be mindful of the temperature targets that you need to reach, namely 115¬įF first, then down to 84¬įF then finally up to 88¬įF. ¬†During the process of heating and cooling, you add your flavor agents namely, maple syrup or agave, vanilla extract and salt.
Following is a picture of the final glorious chocolate sauce we made in class:
Chef Sean Murray’s reflection is an example of how glossy your chocolate sauce should be
Here it is again but this time my focus is on the chocolate sauce
Our final recipe for the day was:
Warm Pecan Tart
Following are pictures of this recipe:
Both are ready for the dehydrator…
Following is my plating design interpretation for this recipe:
 
Well, that’s all for today. ¬†Have a wonderful evening and thank you for visiting my blog.
Blessings to you and yours!

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