Just Like Candy…

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Maybe shoulda put this one as a What Is It? ha? ๐Ÿ™‚ย  Looks kinda…Autumnalish… pumpkiny even!

Hmmm…look at that color!

Well, I’ll tell ya, this is serious dried fruit. Did you guess it? Yeppers those are TOMATOES!

Don’t know ’bout where Y’All are from,ย  but Southern Cali Summer Sweet Tomatoes (yes, they deserve the capitals!) areย  bloody fantasmic.

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Oh, yes, I kid you not. I’ve had sweet tomatoes sweeter than cherries, yep, I said that. If you never have, well, then there’s nothing to do but get yerself to SoCal or go get some sweetness from these ย  Southern Cali nightshades.

Now, you are asking: Why on Pluto would one dry these if so awesome?! Good question; I’d ask the same thing. Firstly, when you get loads, like I do, you want to have that goodness last as long as you can; dehydrating the excess is a great way to do this. Secondly, well, sadly — kinda — we’ve had the mildest summer I can ever recall (as I write this we’re now in the throes of the one of the hottest, record-breaking heatwaves ever reported...figures! .) In fact, our weather has changed dramatically over my lifetime (don’t ask) . Anyway, before I go off topic, the reality is that this year, the sweet tomatoes —ย  number one, arrived VERY late; and, two, they have been less than their usual stellar selves ๐Ÿ˜ฆย  BUT…

they ARE summer sweet tomatoes!! so they are utterly delicious; it’s just that they aren’t cherry-peach–OMG-these-are like-grapes-I’m-gonna-pee sweet… like I expect come August. Hmph.

So, while these are sweet andย  delicious to eat straight — by anyone’s standards — which is how I eat them, they are also perfect for drying. Why? ‘Cause no matter what kind of tommy you get, even if not what you wanted or needed for a dish, you can always use your handy-dandy dehydrator to transform them into dried goodness…

…I promise you, you WILL use them: Soups; dressings, sauces; veggie mixtures; blended smoothies; to make your own ketchup; make your own tomato paste (better than storebought, I tell ya); the best “pasta” sauce ever…ย  salads…on and on AND easy to store! some may birth savory, some medium-sweet, others sweet — come what may! But the umami in them all is sure to please ๐Ÿ˜€

Yea, they’ll take a long time to dry — do it overnight and it won’t seem so bad. However, depending on how many you do (and how good your dehydrator is – it can take 48 hours or just overnight. It will just depend.

Some of these regular ol’ sweet tomatoes are sweeter than raisins and are awesome in trail mixes, cereals, granola —ย  or better —NoGrainola ๐Ÿ˜€ They don’t taste “tomatoey”; they are a different thing altogether. They are a fruit, afterall!

The benefit of drying sweet tomatoes — and the great thing is that they don’t have to be THAT sweet to start — is that the sugars concentrate just like any other fruit; so your resultant product will be sweeter than it started, and is akin to a raisin. Now, if your sweet tomatoes are uber-sweet, well, you may just lapse into a comato ๐Ÿ˜‰ย  Personally, I can’tย  bring myself to dehydrate the bursting-with-juice-running-down-your-chin, sweet-as-syrup – but-with-no-crash-nectar of lycopene-OMG-they’re-plumper-than-Lisa-Rinna’s-lips ones; they are just too good, and the season way too short to not eat them fresh. Nevuh the less!ย  These penultimate sweet tomatoes are fab for drying.

And, the goodness just keeps on comin’ — What’s awesome and different with these, is that the skin, as you can see…


is paper thin andย  crispy! Yep. So when you bite into it, you get a crinkly crunch and then the raisin-like sweet chewy goodie inside. I’ve had a few that were actually totally crunchy. Fantastic.

Washing the Plethoraย  of Pleasurable Pops


The little green hats are cute and all, but a pain in the bud! So one way to facilitate their removal (and save water) is to bathe them. They clean and, as you see…

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…the little tops float to the surface. Now, most of these are already-loose tops, however, you are now in the perfect position to agitate the little jewels to clean them and have the tops come off with a little hand action ;). Most come off this way. Then you can just skim them off before you remove the tommies from the dirty bath water by scooping : Don’t pour them into a sieve; you’ll be pouring the dirt back on to them! (Same deal for cleaning greens/salad greens-you pour the dirt you just removed over them as it sunk to the bottom)

I wash mine right before using (or that day) to avoid having them rot from sittin’ in water. You can also towel dry them, or spread them out on towels and let them dry.

AND as always, never refrigerate tomatoes! Only time I ever fridge ’em is if they are too ripe and at risk of going bad, and I won’t be using right away.

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Now, to storage…

 


Well, I mentioned a bit about it, but what about those dreaded moths?! Seriously, they are annoying and they love to burrow amongst my precious cargo — how they dare! — and do who-knows-what? to my treasure. Only one, 100% way I’ve repelled them (’cause I try not to kill stuff):

How to Repel Those Suckers,ย  or…

A Little Bay Keeps the Moths Away…

NOW brand Bay essential oil – one of the more inexpensive, but, potent oils, good for this application. More often available in stores and vitamin shops


Bay essential oil. Now, bay leaves are great to keep moths out of your pantry, and I throw several leaves into my cupboards where I store dried goods which attract them such as beans (closets, linen/drawers;laundry rooms; and sewing/craft rooms are good places as well). My house used to be a Nightmare on Lepidoptera Street when I had lots of flours and grains. Since those are gone, I’ve been moth-free…for the most part; my sewing room is another story ๐Ÿ˜•

Back to the bay —

Bay leaves are okay, but not ideal and iffy; bay oil is stronger and really works. Here’s what I do:

First, I MUST remove any that are rotting, of course, but most importantly, ANY that have been broken in any way. Even a little slit is too much. Remove those first, and put those in the fridge and eat those soon.

See here: The rotting ones are obvious, but this one could easily get past you, but it should be removed from the group:

eat it sooner ๐Ÿ˜‰

Feel around and if any are wet for whatever reason, but not broken, then remove those too, and either dry off or just set aside to dry or eat soon — just get them away from the others; you know the “one bad tomato spoils the whole bunch” thing.

Okay, then I put them in paper bags and…

…Simply drip a few drops onto the tops of the bag to keep the invaders out. Do not let it drip onto your sweet tomatoes! Just on the bag. (Oh, and never do I leave them in plastic bags! That’s just asking for it; the moisture condenses and creates an environment ripe for rot. Let ’em breathe.)

You should reapply when it no longer is fragrant or if, like it is right now here,ย  it’s very dry and hot weather/environment and evaporates the oil. I’m reapplying much more during these uber-hot days than normal mild SoCal weather. I don’t get new bags; I just reuse the same ones so that the fragrance is nice and strong.

Now, I happen to love the smell of bay; ifย  you don’t, it’s not that bad; get over it ๐Ÿ˜›

Now you’re asking — cuz I’m clairvoyant — “So are my $6-a-basket sweet tomatoes now going to taste like bay?!#! ” Mm, not really. I mean, the fragrance may be strong to you, and you may *think* it does; but it hasn’t penetrated the sweet tomatoes; it’s all in your head.

Not-ta moth in sight – Yay! Notta one! 100% effective; gone. Awesome. Don’t know where they went – probably plotting against me at some moth watering hole (or feastiing on my good yarns and fabrics!) — but they are cursing me, I know it. Curse away! For me and my summer Tommies, it’s bountiful bliss forev — well, for a season ๐Ÿ™‚

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Since I have SO many sweet tomatoes I do it this way; however, a few drops on a cloth or on paper kept very near your moth-attracting produce will do. You can keep them in bowls — don’t cover — if brown paper bags lining your entryway ain’t your idea of accessorizing your home.

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So are YOU matomaniacal like me? Do you have a secret fruit fetish from which you deviated to dappling in sweet tommies? Do you suffer from lyco-pondria? Well, as I have confessed to being a mushroom head, a GREENS queen, a coco-nutter <- bigtime; a sprouting fool of course, an avocado aficionado, an Olive FrEak …ย  I am now revealing that I lapse intoย  tomatose on a regular basis — yep, I do — Oh, don’t worry, it’s all good: Dr. Fuhrman, even praises the plums!

Okay, Iย  was so seduced by these tantilizing tomatoey teases, that I went on a photo rampage.ย  Here, just forย  you fellow tomato fiends to enjoy is a slideshow of their deliciousness on display — only fellow fiends will realize how this is NOT internet time wasting ๐Ÿ˜€ Watch and, between drools, let your mind dream up the tons of ways to tomatize your life!

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Now don’t tell me looking fresh, REAL food isn’t more pleasing than looking at dead, processed junk! Did your creative juices get flowing?

so that’s long, all right — Not as luscious, but here’s a short 4-minuter for those of you who don’t quite do crazy ๐Ÿ˜‰

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So what do Y’All do with tomatoes?

Mmmmmmmmmm…don’t ya want some?

 

Oh, lordy lordy…

 

So…Don’t be jealous: Go get some!

Poxacuatl

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CV Sunday!

whew, finally got around to making a much needed batch ofย  my cultured veggies last Sunday…

Not much to say (for once ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) except that the absolutely cRazY weather Southern Cali has me a bit worried about how my fermented goodies will fare. So far so good! Taking extra care with cleanliness and sterilizing EVERYthing that comes in contact with the contents is the only real assurance the handmaden ๐Ÿ˜‰ can expect.

So, without further ado, some CV porn … ahoy! ๐Ÿ˜€

Great colors…Imagine the flavors!

This older one…THIS ONE…Oh, the umamity! THIS was the most delicious thing I think I’ve ever tasted in my entire life — no kidding. It was…well, it’s un-limnable.ย  AND, to my chagrin, non-replicable ๐Ÿ˜ฆย  — Believe me, I tried! O’ how I tried…I sweat and strain…body all achin’ and racked with pain…Nothin’ ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

:sniff: It was one of my “everything cultured veggies” : When making batches, I gather the leftovers from each combo and just throw it into a bowl, mix it all, then place in a container; so I’m getting every ingredient I used that day! So it would be impossible to know all the stuff, much less the amounts. O’ the agony

Note the gorgeous black berries in there!…If only I could recapture the moment… ๐Ÿ˜€

Obviously, I make LOTS :^) It’s best to do it all in one swoop: It takes a day, but better to get it all done in a few hours, and then have MONTHS of not having to deal with it. Then…ahhhhhhhhh, just reap the rewards ;’)

So, enjoy the photos!

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*Oh, here’s an example of one foaming over; I mentioned this previously. Nothing goin’ wrong here; this is fine. If it wereย  bad, it would be very evident, if not looking at it before opening, upon doing so! Right quick like…

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~ Intermission ~

Here are some of the goodies in my latest batch:

Mustard seeds, Black peppercorns, whole Tumeric, Cumin seeds, Coriander seeds, Galangal, Ginger,

Onions, Garlic, whole Sumac berries

Green Apples; Peaches (first time using them; can’t wait to try!);Papaya ;Kumquats; Goji Berries

Broccoli Sprouts (fantastic price; outstanding quality); Savoy Cabbage; Green Cabbage; Purple Cabbage; Baby Bok Choi; Adult Bok Choi; Curly Kale; Dandelion Greens (fab in CV’s); Cauliflower, Zucchini…

That’s all I recall; I’m sure there were other goodies thrown in. I was low on fruit, so was unable to use some of the great summer fruits I would have liked; though, I’m willing to gear up for another round of CV Sunday if I come across some stuffs that I can’t pass up.

Oh! I also made a “pasta sauce” CV! I was inspired by someone’s blog ages ago; sadly, I cannot find it. A woman had experimented making CV with all the herbs, spices, and veggies one would put it a sauce and raved about it. Sounded weird to me, but, then again my concoctions may sound strange too, and they are delectable! Sooo, I gave it a try. I’ll give it a review once I taste it.

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Then I made…

… Pickles!

Previously,ย  made some delicious relish …

which was actually not pickled; it was cultured relish! Try finding that at any hippy-store ๐Ÿ˜‰

So am hoping these pickies come out great. They should be easy to turn into relish when I need it, too!

And jus *had*ย  to make some more of the crazy-yum pickled papaya — fingers X they come out right!


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Does the potpourri of ingredients give you any ideas? I hope so! (read my “How To” for more ideas) It’s a greatย  medium to be wonderfully whimsom ๐Ÿ˜€ and take advantage of the “anything goes” possibilities that making your very own. original cultured vege-fruit blends offers you!

I also suggest using organic ingredients, and strongly advise ( ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) to not use any waxed foods — cucumbers, citrus, apples, etc.)

Ooh, I cannot wait for the Autumnal foods: My favorite season brings deliciousness that I can jar and enjoy all year long!

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Got some kickin’ it outside, too ๐Ÿ™‚

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Okay, enough?ย  Me thinks I’m good for a while, right? ๐Ÿ˜‰ ALthoooooogh…this reminds me

I still haven’t posted those other fermenting drafts (I’ve had sittin’ for years now!)

Hooray for CV Sunday — orย  CV any day!

* I learned the basics from Body Ecology and, a great raw, commercial (but expensive) product recipe, Rejuvenative Foods brand (instructions at end of article).ย  As ALWAYS, use your own judgment, common sense, and be vigilant with all cautions — resultant product is your sole responsibility.

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Poxacuatl

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What Is It?

Okay, so what is it?

Ahh, beautiful and sun-like!

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Bathe in the beauty…

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Ack! What the..??

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Reminds me of that great Twilight Zone episode, no?

Hm…kinda wormy…

tumeric_turmeric_fresh-60

*…tentacles??!

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*long litter fellers…

She breaches!!

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Oh. No, guess not …

Eeoow!

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*They are multiplYING……….

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tumeric_turmeric_fresh-10

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Okay, you probably have it now, right? ๐Ÿ™‚

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Ah, the turmeric! Fresh — there’s nothin’ like it!

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That is the real color, yes it is! No photoshopperyย  needed ๐Ÿ˜‰

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*I ould just look at the stuff all day and feel brighter! ๐Ÿ˜€

Slice it…it freezes well, too…

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Chop it up!

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use it in cultured veggies — oooooh ๐Ÿ˜‰ (Teach Me, Alice ๐Ÿ˜‰


Dehydrate it….

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Ground it…

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*Make mustard! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Nothin’ like custom made mustard — no salt necessary!

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*Basically, use it to flavor any dish. Of course, your Indian or curry flavored dishes will taste that much better with fresh turmeric!

It boasts some benefits, but has cautions, too. (Always do research if you have a condition, are taking medications before consuming a new herb; consult your doctor.)

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whew! Reveling in rhizomes is tiring stuff. So…how about a cuppa? Cup of turmeric tea, that is ๐Ÿ˜€

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Turmeric Tea

2ย  cups water
1 tsp fresh grated ginger, (or galangal ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) Or more to taste – I like more (or 1/2 teaspoon fresh, powdered)
1 tsp fresh grated turmeric or juice (or 1/2 teaspoon fresh powdered turmeric)
Stevia, to taste (or 1 tablespoon sweetener of choice)
Juice of 1/2 lemon (or lime, other citrus; etc.)

For fresh, bring water to a boil, pour over fresh rhizomes and steep 10-15 minutes or to taste. Strain. Add Lemon and sweetener.

For dried, bring water to a boil, then add powdered herbs. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Strainย  and sweetener and citrus to taste.

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And, of course, we all know…

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*Uh, just gorgeous, no?

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Very fresh or young ginger is often referred to as blue ginger or Thai ginger. Too many names! Galangal is alsoย  “blue ginger.”

If you happen across these rhizomes, try them!ย  ๐Ÿ˜€

Strix

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Try Something New…

poppy_seeds-copy

Beautiful Blue Poppy Seeds

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Sesame Milks

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Seed_Mylk


The Gold…

Ever had sesame milk? Why not try something new?! ๐Ÿ™‚ May surprise you.


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Calcium rich, sesame milks are an excellent nightcap ๐Ÿ˜€ Who needs “a glass of warm COW milk?!!? Do you really want that? Eeeoow Double YUK! Hip, hip, Hurray for sesame milk, a great alternative ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s soothing and So nutritious. Calcium is great before bed, as it aids in sleep (and mental health through seratonin production!) Tryptophan seems to be key — if you have trouble getting those Z’s, have a couple of walnuts with that milk ๐Ÿ˜‰ Sesame seeds are rich in methionine and tryptophan, and are 25% protein. Good anytime, and in recipes, too,though! I tried it in my Indian Spiced Lentil Soup, and it was delicious.

Sesame milks are much more difficult to “perfect,” since the flavor is a pronounced one, and everyone’s palate is different. Experimentation is definitely advised! However, if you love tahini or sesame seeds, you’ll probably be a fan of sesame milk :). Alternatively, you may like to combine it withalmonds for a delicious combo, and a tempered “sesame” flavor.

sesame-mylk_brown_unhulled-2-copyI used to love the idea of sesame milks, but all the recipes called for way too much sesame, and the result, cloying, especially using the hulled seeds. I think the key with these nut and seed milks is finding the right ratio of seed to water. And, of course, we all have varying palates ๐Ÿ™‚ so finding the right ratio for you is the real key. The brown, unhulled (with shells) must be soaked and rinsed to alleviate the bitter components in the hulls.

My experience has been that the following are well received by most everyone to whom I served them. You can, however, make these with less water; it’s then easier to just add water if it needs it. Folks unaccustomed to natural flavors find sesame strong; but if you like sesame, by all means ๐Ÿ˜€

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Sesame Milk, unhulled

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1/4 C unhulled, organic Brown Sesame Seeds

Water for soaking

1 1/4 (or up to 2) C Water (I like 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 )

Soak Sesame seeds in water 4 hours. Drain.

Rinse well until water runs clear.

Place in a blender with 1/2 C water and blend till creamy.

Strain into a glass storage jar.

Add remaining water to the milk and mix well or shake.

Store, well-sealed in the refrigerator.ย  Shake well before using.

Makes 1 1/4 – 2 C

Lasts 3 or 4 days.

Notes:

Optionals: You can add sweetener (fresh date) or vanilla. A piece of banana is also very good here.

Iย  like it richer tasting, so you can try 1 C water; conversely, if it’s strong-tasting, adding more water, combining with another milk, or using optionals are all possibilities.

If you are in a big hurry or don’t mind that the seeds get slightly cooked, then you can pour hot or boiling water over the seeds, and let soak till cool. Then drain and rinse till water runs clear.

Alternatively, after soaking 4 hours (not the hot-water soak), you can sprout the sesame seeds for 24 hours to maximize nutrients. Do not sprout for longer than 36 hours or they get bitter. I usually do 24 or so. According to SproutPeople, they also do not store well; so use them up within 2 days.

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Straining sesame seeds through cheesecloth works well…

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~Beautiful and delicious!~

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And the Black...

Ever had black sesame? Hey, it’s ALL a crapshoot — why not just try something different? ๐Ÿ˜‰

I love black sesame, and they are part of my regular fats rotation ๐Ÿ˜€

Black-Sesame-Seeds_quarterC (3)

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Black Sesame – More nutrient-rich than white or brown! CalciYUM!

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Be more adventurous :D…

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Now that’s an NDE* nightcap ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Midnight Milk

1/4 C Black Sesame Seeds

Water for soaking

1 1/4 – 2 C Water (I likeย  1 1/2-ish)

Soak Black Sesame for 4 hours. Drain and rinse well. (Sprout, if desired)

Combine Black Sesame and 1 C water in a blender. Blend on “High” till thoroughly creamy.

Strain into a glass storage jar. Add remaining water and mix well.

Shake well before using.

Makes 1 1/4 – 2 C

Optionals: Sweetener of choice; Vanilla to taste

I also like this at about 1 1/4 -1 1/2 C water because I love the taste of black sesame; however, to some, it has a strong taste. You can try it with less water to start, then just add as you go. I found the up to 2 C to be acceptable to most people; you’ll have to just try it — your mileage may vary ๐Ÿ˜€ .

Try it warm; it’s delish.

And don’t forget, it’s easy-peasy to make your own tahini.

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Feeling even more adventurous?

How about Poppy Seed Milk?

I was pleasantly surprised when I attempted this “milk”; it’s delicious. It is often my go-to “milk. High in calcium, this is an excellent bedtime milk:

One Tablespoon Poppy Seeds contain 13% the Daily Value of Calcium โ€” Wow!

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…an excellent “regular milk” substitute:

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Poppy Milk


1/4 C organic Poppy Seeds

Water to soak

1 C water

Soak seeds in water 4 hours.

Drain.

poppy-seeds_strain

Rinse well. Interesting color! ๐Ÿ˜€ Must be the anthocyanidins changing shades ๐Ÿ˜€ – (Save that Pulp!!)

Place in a blender with 1/2 C water and blend till creamy.

poppy-mylk_tribest

Wasn’t sure my little Tribest Personal Blender would handle those teeny-tiny seeds, but, yep, it broke ’em up….however, I blended it a few minutes, and I did use the flat blade…

poppy-seeds_tribest_blade

Strain into a glass storage jar…

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,

I like to use my handmade tea bags (no waste!), but use these tea filters, too (although, these don’t work well with “fluffier” pulp); use cheesecloth, if you have it. The grainy little poppies are sand-like and the drainage is good. Here you see it oozing out the bag…

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squeezing out as much as possible.

BUT be careful! The tea bags are light and delicate; Don’t squeeze too hard or…

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…and you don’t want that pulp dropping back in to your milk ๐Ÿ™‚ As much as I know this, I still get too rough with my poor seeds :D. (Wetting the filter bags first, before filtering, helps a lot.)

Add remaining 1/2 C water to the milk and mix well or shake.

This tastes best the following day, too. Makes 1 C of delicious, creamy white milk…

poppy-mylk_fini-4

I think this is better than cashew milk. Another surprise, it actually tastes better a couple days later.

Store, well-sealed in the refrigerator. Shake well before using.

Makes 1 C

Notes: This ratio of seed to water makes a milk suggestive of regular milk. I found the 1:4 seed to water formula to be excellent as a milk substitute. The poppy seed flavor is so mild, it’s undetectable and much lighter than I anticipated.

I also found it to not need anything added at all. Of course, optionals such as vanilla, or sweetening can always be used.

This would make a good base for any recipe calling for plain milk, since the taste is mild and more like “cow’s milk” (but trust me tastes better!)

A little aside: poppy seeds have a thickening quality! Very nice in dressings.

Important Note: I’ve read that poppy seeds do not contain opium and that they do contain trace amounts. From what I’ve read, it is within certain varieties, which are grown specifically for the drug.ย  However, either way, it’s only from the plant that the drug is made,and the seeds contain trace amounts only. And,ย  again, it’s possible that only a select type has it .

Poppy seeds do seem to possess “sedative” qualities, often recommended for insomnia (Walnuts and sesame are high in tryptophan, and also recommended as good sleep aids; so they could also be “sedative”). I’m not sure if this would even be true for so small amounts that one eas (as opposed to the type of poppy used medicinally). Please make a choice based on knowledge and thorough understanding; the consumption of this milk is your sole responsibility. False positive drug tests have been reported with ingestion of poppy seeds (similar to the false tests that hemp seeds can render); however, there is a specific tell-tale chemical, thebaine, which will be present only with ingestion of the seeds, so no need to worry ๐Ÿ™‚

NOTE: I wouldn’tย  serve this this children — just to be on the safe side; there are many other alternatives, anyway (After running this past Dr. Fuhrman he advised against serving a lot of poppy seeds to children; so this may be too-concentrated a source, I think; better to err on the side of caution) However, it certainly is “something new” and interesting to try for us responsible adults ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Sweet Sesame Dreams ๐Ÿ˜‰

sleep _ Strix

sm row smiles

*Nutrient Dense Eater ๐Ÿ˜‰ – NDD– Nutrient Dense Diet

Rediscovering Sumac

Sumac, ground: Related to the pistachio, no wonder I love it!

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Some of my favorite flavors come from the Middle East. I don’t think I’ve everย  had anything that didn’t taste good from the region!ย  Haven’t had these flavors in ages.

Ever had Za’atar? It’s aย  delicious combination of flavors, used in various cuisines, each expressing a unique version, while maintaining a similar base of sumac, herbs, sesame seeds, and salt. Can make most ANYthing taste gourmet- delicious.

It all starts with the amazing little berry that is…sumac. Bursting with flavor, this little fruit contributes a flavor complexity to your dishes. I had all but forgotten about sumac since I started my simple way of eating — how sad!ย  It is tart, with a lemony flavor, and slightly salty-ish and used as a substitute for citrus and vinegar; but it has that something special that makes it unique.

Use it in place of lemon or tamarind. Also, note that a lot salt substitutes use lemon or citrus in their formulas.Try using it in your favorite home-prepared salt substitute or storebought herbal. It brightens up any mixture ๐Ÿ™‚

Of course, on its own, sumac brings out lots of flavor in your dishes ๐Ÿ™‚

BUT

Sumac-package

Yes, there is a “but,” unfortunately. Sumac, without added salt is a real challenge to find. Why add salt to an already salty spice? A couple reasons — for preservation: Sumac loses potency very quickly; salt helps to preserve it in the form of a dried spice. Another reason is to keep it from clumping during the processing of the berries; it also extends storage life.

Okay, now why such a challenge? Well, for starters, the kind found in ME markets (like the package above)ย  are not labeled with an ingredients list. I would suggest that one should assume it contains salt.ย  It usually does. But those packages are very inexpensive — below a dollar, usually — so may be worth trying. To further complicate things — How to tell if an already-salty-tasting spice has salt added?! It’s very close to impossible, unless you taste truly unsalted at the same time or have a very keen taste for added salt, which can be tricky!

On the plus side, the sumac purchased from Middle Eastern sources are not over-the-top salty, and using it in your mixture would not add a lot of sodium to your finished dish.

However, the best way to know is to buy whole sumac berries and, yep, crush them yourself. Okay, easy enough…hm, not really: If ground sumac is hard to find, the whole berries are even harder. Still worth a look at the markets or specialty-foods sections, though.

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Now for the good news,

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Aren’t sumac berries gorgeous!

After wasting what seemed like hours emailing and e-searching for salt-free, pure sumac — ground and/or berries — guess where I found it?

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MOUNTAIN ROSE HERBS, for goodness sakes! Well, DUH! I’m forever rambling about MRH — they are referred here a zillion times over, and yet, I failed to look there FIRST, like I usually do…heh. Silly me. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Sumac-leafWell,ย  they have both the ground sumac and the whole berries, and, for good measure, the dried leaves — all salt-free. Never even knew about the leaves, but am looking forward to using them in lots experiments; soups are a no-brainer.

World Spices also has no-salt added ground sumac — confirmed via email inquiry — but it is not organic. Remember, too, that you just may find sumac tucked away in a gourmet-type, or specialty foods store or section; but know it is available, organic, without additives or preservatives via a reputable source: Mountain Rose Herbs.

As always, keeping within Dr. Fuhrman’s recommendations for added salt to the diet would be best; but you may want to buy one little package of sumac just to taste test (they are usually under $1), if you don’twant to haul off and buy a package of sumac berries ๐Ÿ˜‰

SO,

with that difficulty resolved…

It is exceptional in beans — any bean dish! Test it on a portion of your favorite hoummus or other beany creation.

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Soupy Ful Madammas

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Here is one of my favorite ways to use sumac — in za’atar, of course! You can add/tweak as you like, or according to how you prefer your za’atar; it varies from region to region as well as from taste buds to taste buds!

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ZA’ATAR

2 TB ground Sumac

1 TB Thyme, whole, dry leaves

1 TB Sesame Seeds, raw, hulled

Pulse to a med-course powder, the 1 TB sesame, making sure not to cream it. I used my small personal blender with the flat blade; a coffee grinder or similar appliance will work.

Add the thyme and sumac and pulse @ 5 or so times to combine and break up the thyme a bit, but not powder it.

Store in a glass jar with a tight lid. I use an old spice jar.

Variations: …are endless! a few common are to use some oregano, marjoram, or savory in place of OR in addition to the thyme.

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Za’atar ingredients. Fresh or dried thyme can be used.

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Pulse-grind sesame seeds to a meal, taking care not to butter it.
Pulse-grind sesame seeds to a meal, taking care not to butter it.

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Combine thyme, sumac, and optional black pepper
Combine thyme, sumac, and optional black pepper

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Add spices to the sesame meal; pulse to combine
Add spices to the sesame meal; pulse to combine

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Enjoy! :^)
Enjoy! :^)

~ ** ~

Here is how I enjoyed za’atar recently: (Miss Olives? You don’t have to ๐Ÿ˜‰ Click here)

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Za’atar Olives:

1 garlic, clove (see note on prep)

2 tsp za’atar

2 t – 1 TB fresh lemon juice, or to taste

blackpepper, to taste, optional

12 unsalted raw olives

Directions:

Pit olives or smash (see pic).

Toss well with lemon juice and galic (note: you can use slivers or slices, if you don’t want minced, raw garlic all over your olives); alternatively, maybe some lightly roasted or carmelized garlic would be nice.

Add the za’atar and toss lightly till thoroughly covering the olives.

Cover with a lid and place in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours to marinate.

Eat!

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If you want to leave the pit in, then give each olive a good whack with the side of a sturdy knife to break up the olive innards to release flavor as well as allow the flavors to permeate…like so:

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then toss as per directions. Otherwise you can pit them all like so…

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Toss in the ingredients; Marinate:

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And devour ;)!

These are utterly delicious; you feel deceptively decadent eating these morsels of olivicious goodness! These feel like they’ve been soaked in the best olive oil, yet not a drop of oil added — only the fruit’s own natural oils.

I’ve rambled about my love of these olives: Give a looksee ;^)

Interestingly, I found that, like most marinaded foods, the flavor improved with time, but they also mellowed. In other words, the potency (think the garlic punch) lessened, but the flavor developed. Either way they are delish. Something to note anyway, just in case you find you may have added too much garlic, it will mellow over the next day and longer. So don’t worry ๐Ÿ™‚ You can use thicker cuts or slices of garlic, if you want to be able to remove them.

Also, za’atar mixture (stored)ย  has a bad habit of losing flavor quickly, so make in small amounts. For this olive recipe, it preserves quite well. I imagine it is the natural oils — I guess there is quite enough in the olives — which acts as the preservative, the same as covering with a load of oil would. The lemon helps too.

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Here’s an idea:

garbanzo-beans_za'atar-spiceFul Za’atar

Toss heated home-cooked fava beans, garbanzo beans, a combo (or baby limas are a fantastic substitute in a pinch) in a little bit of their broth with lemon juice; za’atar; add garlic, if desired. Let sit at room temperature till ready to eat – flavor improves as it marinates. Serve cold or room temperature. Add chopped parsley, (add a bit of fresh thyme or oregano, optional; can add chopped tomatoes and/or onions, too) before serving.

OR

“Toast” in your oven at 248-degrees or below (to avoid acrylamide formation) OR, my preference,ย  dehydrate cooked garbanzo beans, tossed in their broth, some lemon or lime, and the za’atar spices (and garlic if you like) for some healthy, crunchy no-fat, no-oil, no-salt needed, no-acrylamides Garbanzo Nuts!

Crunchy-Yum Garbanzo Nuts

Crunchy-Yum Garbanzo Nuts

OR…Add za’atar to any soup as a topping, or mix in (sort of like Italians add pesto to soups). It changes ordinary soups into something special.

~ The limits are defined by your imagination ;^) ~

~ *** ~

For dinner guests, I utililzed sumac: For example, lentil, and green chips; leafy salad; soup; fava hoummus; some bean “flatbread”; cucumber mint salad; Rose spiked sumac-ade (aka “sumac lemonade”); and Figs in Spiced Syrup. For me? Well, a giant ETL salad is enough; but I also likeย  simple side dishes, such as prepared mushrooms or olives, etc. ;); But, you can make most any style of eating you or your family likes nutrient-dense or ETL-ish with just a little bit of effort.

Here are a few pics of some preparations:

One popular way to enjoy sumac is to make a refreshing “lemonade-ish” drink. I haven’t had the fortune to taste this with fresh berries, which is purported to be the best; however, the dried is also employed. I like it well enough ๐Ÿ™‚ It doesn’t taste like anything else, but if I had to give a likening, I’d say it would remind you of Agua de Jamaica, (Jamaica flower tea), aka, “Habiscus” tea/drink, and would make a wonderful substitute or change. It is has the traits of unsweetened cranberry juice — tart but fruity. I’ve added it to my GJGS‘sโ€ฆ too.

(simply crush or pulse-grind the berries…

add water andย ย ย ย ย ย  soak in water…


Strain…


… add sweetener, a few slices of lime, – ooh, a knob of ginger! —ย  and serve! Chunks of chopped fruit and you have a delicious ETL Sangria ;).

*Cucumber-Mint Salad with Orange

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Lentil Chips

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Za’atar spiced Olives with Lime and Mint

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No-grain “Flatbread”

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Turkish Figs in Spiced “Syrup”

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This was a thoroughly ETL meal, simple, but with more than enough authenticity.

Make your nutrient-dense food GOOD. It can be done!

Pick up an inexpensive bag of sumacย  and give it a try ๐Ÿ™‚

Poxacuatl
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What Is It? Candy-Stripes and a Footlong!

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Hmm…tentaclesย  Eek!

Check this out!

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AND NO, not a footlong sandwich ๐Ÿ˜› Keep reading …

Candy-striped gorgeous, Chioggia beets are just as delicious, if not better than red. I think they are milder than the deep red beets, with a less “beety” flavor; but some people say they taste the same. (I’m referring to tasting these raw.) These reminded me of the elusive watermelon radishes! O’ Where For Art, Thou? ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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I also like to pick up the golden and orange varieties when they are available to take advantage of the varying nutrients the colors supply me. Variety, variety! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Uh, Just beautiful!

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I really don’t care for cooked beets, though I don’t think they taste bad at all. I used to love pickled beets served with Middle Eastern sandwiches pre-Vegan days; I’m sure those were somewhat cooked in the pickling process…not sure.

Most cooks know the way food is cut can make a difference in flavor. It’s not just for looks, though seeing can be part of eating, too. Look how pretty some beets and radishes can be:

radish-beet-ribbons - Copy

Back to the chioggias…

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They look almost just like dark red beets; but have a slightly pinkish hue that betrays a clue…

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To their beautiful insides!

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Sorta zebra-ish…

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Mmmm…these shall romp joyfully in my SALAD (always the main dish!)

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Okay, so where’s the footlong?

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Eek! This monster barely fit in my fridge. Yep, summa zucchini has arrived, whoo hoo! My preference for dressings and my raw pasta. Another reason to thank the fabulous local farmers ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Makes the best …

Zucchini Noodles/Pasta, Yellow Summer Squash

Or get fancy with the spiralizer ๐Ÿ˜‰


Farmers’ markets are jumpin’! Get to them…NOW! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Strix

What Is It? And, Why You, TOO Should Street-Walk Hollywood & Sunset

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I LOVE L.A. Yes, I do. Say what you will about it — and you will be oh-so right — but living in Southern Cali is like no other for the stunning variety of food one can obtain and locally, reducing your chances of contributing to human exploitation (which is ALL around us). Yes, the Farmers of L.A. are awesome, friendly, and generous.

I often mention that I am “Sooooooo lucky!” and, wow, even I marvel sometimes at my good fortune! To have such excellent food at my leisure…it should be this way for every living being on this planet.

Whether you live in L.A. or are visiting, check out a few — at least — of the some of the best So. California has to offer. If you happen to be cruisin’ down Sunset, step on over to the Sunday morning festival that is (just one of) the Hollywood Farmer’s Market(s).

Okay, SO…What is it? ๐Ÿ™‚

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Mm, awful purty!

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Little fuzzy, aye? ๐Ÿ™‚

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Any ideas yet?

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Ah, hangs out with some friends…on a vine…

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C’mon, you green thumbers out there! Ever grown these in yer garden?

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Okay, let’s crack ‘er open…

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She breaches!

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Okay, NO, it’s not my brain…

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Though, I bet mine is greeeeeeeeeeeeeeen!ย ย  alien

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Oh, wait…ANOTHER shell??

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Okay, totally nude, you HAVE to know, now…No? ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Yes, Yes!!!

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You got it! Fresh, raw incredibly DELICIOUS Garbanzo Beans!! banana-banjo

Got’em at the farmers’ market! Still on the vines WOW! Forget the Lakers‘ slam dunk — this is a SCORE!!!!grn-wink

Here is a pod holding 2 little ‘peas:

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This one was interesting; it had one that was drying out already!

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I was kind of expecting it to be more flavorful, more savory; but, instead it had very little flavor at all. What a shame ๐Ÿ™‚

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Still purty, tho ๐Ÿ˜‰

Where I first learned that they even existed was at a Whole Foods in the refrigerated section, several years ago. I fell in LOVE with them! I recall trying to convince my fellow raw-foodie enthusiasts at the time they existed, but was met with a lot of dismissive resistance! Hmph. Okay, so more for me, Nyahh ๐Ÿ˜› Since that first time, I’ve not found them as often as I’d like; especially since I eat mostly raw. Now they are becoming more known as the blogosphere indicates!

Back to my Sunday …

So as the sun was waning, I took my bag O’ magic beans, and out to the patio…

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for some chick pea pickin.’

~~~ Ahh, yes, just like back in the old country, I do recall ~~~

Just kidding, lol Beans_Peas_pod

So we talked and picked…

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Rambled with hands busy…

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and picked….

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and reminisced some more…

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and the bowl was filling up nicely…

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…till my bowl runneth over…

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…almost ๐Ÿ˜‰ And while I cannot claim any “old country,” to my memoirs, relaxing, sharing, and picking over fresh legumes is quite enjoyable, and I now know why it’s so customary in some cultures to engage in such activity ๐Ÿ™‚ What a wonderful Sunday afternoon!

That evening, as every, I feasted! We feasted on fresh chick peas, fresh, first-of-season’s-sweet tomatoes (OH LORD, watch out!! I’ll be consuming loads of these cherry-sweet tomatoes through October!)

Tomatoes_FM

a few other simple foods (I won’t bore you further with the details ๐Ÿ™‚ ), all fresh from the farmers’ market.

And All was well with the world. ๐Ÿ™‚

~ *** ~

Speaking of the advantages of living in California, I have also the good fortune to have lived in various neighborhoods around Los Angeles, all rich with different ethnicities; ways; and customs. Flourishing and bringing life, culture, and wonderful experiences to us natives, they have contributed so much to Us All ๐Ÿ™‚ One such neighborhood had various Peoples from the region of the Middle East — O, the food! The markets! The colors! I recall running past many a group of two or more elderly women, dressed in traditional clothes, obviously brand new to this country, speaking and laughing in their native tongues. Along side them, large, old wooden buckets filled with some vegetable or other… They shelled and trimmed as they socialized, right there in their front yards;ย  no doubt a custom.

SO, my bowl full…

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…my heart and soul too :D, and I am grateful — and…

Sooooooooooooooo lucky!!! ๐Ÿ˜€

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So you can’t get these locally, you say? ๐Ÿ˜ฆย  Well…

I am so excited to see these *FINALLY* catching on. Trader Joe’s had/has them every-so-often, shelled, in frozen bags, then — pOOf! Gone! One of things about TJ’s I don’t like ๐Ÿ˜ก

There is a brand which is making itself more available around the U.S., “CaliFresh.” You can see they are in several chain markets — click here for those — so, “Yay” for that!! Even though not organic, you may want to give them a try. These are also available in Mexican markets, again, not organic, but why not try some? OR, heck, if you’re into gardening, how about trying to grow your own?! I’d love to. I’ve grown green peas and I can only hope fresh garbanzos would be so ridiculously easy! Those peas, by the way, were the BEST EVER, as I imagine your own,ย  home-grown foods are ๐Ÿ˜‰

A-a (34)I found fresh to freeze well too. Some may prefer a quick steam, unless one is accustomed to the taste of, say, raw peas — then the raw chickpeas would be quite enjoyable. Either way, it can hardly be argued that these are not the freshest chickpeas you have ever eaten! They are, to my delight, Greeeeeeeeeeeeen ๐Ÿ™‚ And a gorgeous green!

If you can find these at a farmer’s market, grab ’em. The worst that can happen is that you end up blending them into a green smoothie — now how’s that for tipping the odds? But trust me —ย  You will love these whether steamed or raw. Bean salad anyone?

A-a (47)The flavor, by the way, is much milder than any other raw legume. It has a nuttiness to it which is faintly reminscent of the dried cooked you know so well; however, this is just straight out unique tasting — highly enjoyable. Can you tell I like ’em? That familiar “raw” taste is also not dominant like so many raw peas and beans; these are softer than you will probably be expecting. Loads of flavor; no spicing required.

To cook these are also quite enjoyable, as it takes mere minutes to simply steam — Yep, minutes! And so delectable. Much like fava beans — another utterly delicious bean fresh, look for them and GET SOME — the quick cooking is a nice change. I have always loved my summer bean salads with fresh favas. DElicious, I promise you!

A_ (32)These green chick peas can be eaten and served just like you would edamame — either in their pods, or shelled — depending how you find them. I prefer in their pods, but shelled are great too. Just steam them or you can drop them in boiling water for a few minutes, if you like. No salt needed, these are delish on their own; however, spicing them, of course, gives you much more variety and you can prepare delectable little delights with the simplicity and ease of marinating in various spice blends.

Seriously, I’ll say it again: I don’t know anyone who eats better than I do _lol.ย  And you can feel that way too! ๐Ÿ˜€ The changing of the tastebuds is one of the more dramatic results from eating healthfully and abstaining from salt, and chemically-flavored and processed “stuff” often labeled as “food.” I’ve never eaten better in my life, not only nutritionally but also taste-wise.

I mentioned this before also: When you are willing to give up the foods you (think you) love, crave, “can’t do without forever,” you GAIN so much more! ๐Ÿ˜€ I promise!

Okay, I’m storing up:Garbanzos_Fresh_in-pods

I’m loading up on these babies to take me through the off season —ย  into the fridge, and into the freezer, sealed extra well for long storage. ๐Ÿ˜€

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So look for these! It’s that time of the year — Right Now! Go get some! Eat simply. No need for complicated meals! Try them in recipes or plain — Mmmmm, fresh chick peas! Give ’em a try!

Strix

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