Seaweed omelete

image

This recipe was an experiment to see if I could use up lots of seaweed in a tasty lunch omelette. It was very successful. I need to experiment some more with different types of seaweed but I purpose it as being suitable for foraged edible seaweeds and shop bought dried, or fresh…

How I made it…
It’s basically a vegetable omelette, courgette and mushroom in this case, with a seasoned seaweed filing. use whatever you have available to season. I used a teaspoon of miso paste, teaspoon of tamari (strong soy sauce) and a half teaspoon of umeboshi pickle paste.

After boiling my dried arame seaweed for about 8 minutes in water, I drained it and stirred in my seasoning. The seasoned seaweed was then spread over my almost-cooked omelette. That was folded over, to seal in some heat, the heat turned off to finish it.

The seaweed should be finely shredded for this sort of recipe. Let me know if you try it.

Sourdough Recycling

Following Sandor Katz’ book Wild Fermentation, I have been trying to permaculture-up my sourdough by feeding it left over cooked rice, grains, porridge and whole spelt grains.  It developed well for about a week, turing my left overs into a bubbling sour smelling gloop and I was really excited about the results to come.

Today, I turned most of my starter into a loaf and have just sampled it. The texture is great; springy and loaded with gas bubble trials, as I had hoped. My two year old loves the loaf and is trying to climb on the table for more, as I type but it’s just too sour for my liking. I still find the thought, of a sourdough starter partly compensating for my retired wormery, very pleasing. But I have some work ahead in turning the result into something I enjoy eating as much as my usual homecooked bread.

Have you tried this? I’d love to hear any suggestions you may have about good left over combinations to add to the starter.

Hairy bittercress – Free salad

image

I did a spot of roof gardening this morning and was very pleased to find this herb growing in a neglected plant pot. It’s thought of as weed by most and yet it’s providing at least two services here; covering lots of surface soil thus acting as a green mulch and also it’s soon to be part of my food!  Hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta) spreads readily by seed and is very successful at monopolising open ground. According to Wikipedia it can be quite a nuisance in lawns but then I’d prefer a useful mixed “weed” lawn to a monoculture of grass any day! It’s very welcome in my plant pots, I’d also say it’s non-invasive in this situation as it’s very easy to pull out completely when you need to.

Hairy bitter cress is part of the brassica/mustard family and is often confused with chickweed. Although it’s habit of growing out like a star from it’s base, it’s flowers and of course the hairs, are quite different from chickweed. Both are annuals. In any case, confusing it with chickweed may be a good way to get to know it. Both are useful and nutritious, full of vitamins and minerals, tasting peppery and great additions to salad.

I’ll let these come on for a few more days in the plant pot before harvesting the strongest plants and rehousing the others.

Ransoms are back on the plate!

image

I placed this post on my herb blog today and thought it may be of interest from a lunch point of view. Ramsons taste great raw or cooked – really garlicy, pungent and spicy. I love them and have plenty around me at present. Last year i made lots of peso using them instead of basil. The result was so tasty and useful in lots of dishes. The only problem with eating the raw is the risk of contamination by animals (or humans) because they grow on the ground. So bear that in mind if you fancy adding them to a sandwich. Anyway, here’s the post from http://www.urbanherbology.org…

They’ve been looking verdant and smelling great for weeks now but today was my first little ransoms harvest of the year. Just two leaves, plucked from a huge swathe of wild garlic, will be enough to set this evenings meal alight. So that’s all I picked. I urge anyone thinking of foraging any plants, to abide by foraging rules and pick very sparingly. Only harvest what you know you will be able to use straight away.

Today I saw several ransom patches, on the edge of the lime avenue in park Frankendael, which were clearly recovering from careless picking. Leaves were torn, twisted and looked generally damaged. It’s saddening to see but more importantly it shows that many individuals don’t know how to harvest correctly and responsibly.

That’s the main reason I lead occasional herb walks in town. If you’d like to join at any time then please get in touch with me via email. I passionately believe that far more people should know the herbs around them and understand how to harvest if appropriate and use them safely.  But unfortunately some foragers cause harm and I’d really like to help limit that.

There are many others herbs, currently looking ripe and perfect for use, here in Amsterdam. Nettle is just perfect at present, the new tips will be my next target for harvesting, destined for some home made pasta and a nourishing infusion. More on that next week.

for information about how to use ramsoms in food, please take a look at my herb blog – http://www.urbanherbology.org

Chickweed in sandwiches!

image

Chickweed makes a delicious and nutritious sandwich filing, it’s also plentiful, easily forage-able and available almost year round.

It’s a popular medicinal herb, used as a tonic and for a multitude of ailments including skin complaints. It tastes fresh and peppery and it’s so successful that you are very likely to notice it as a”weed” in any plant pots or borders you may have. Birds love it, hence the name.

I took the photo this afternoon in my neighbourhood, the chickweed is growing in a city tree pit (aka dog latrine) so I won’t be harvesting this patch. But when I find chickweed on my balcony or in a nice clean area, I don’t hesitate to pick some for food.

If your not familiar with it use a good field guide for wild flowers to help with correct identification. Herbalist Susun Weed has lots of detailed information about this plentiful nourishing herb on her website.

As low impact lunch items go, I don’t think you can get much better than a weed which most people dig up and send for incineration here in town. If you haven’t already, please give it a try and let me know what you think.

Homemade tempeh in my lunchbox

image

Wow! My first batch of homemade tempeh is currently cooling and I just couldn’t wait to try it so cooked half a block in a simple miso, ginger and chicken stock gravy. I am really delighted by how it has turned out. The aspergillus mould looks beautiful and the tempeh does indeed angel earthy and of babies, just as Mr Katz tells. 

I was supposed to leave it fermenting until patches of black and brown appeared but I couldn’t wait so it looks rather like shop bought and it tastes far better. If you have the inclination please give it a go!

Dosa slices

image

A couple of days ago I set up a batch of South Indian dosa mix which has been gently fermenting in my kitchen. Myself and my toddler wolfed down two mighty pancakes yesterday for breakfast, today the mix was finished by making lunchtime slices. As with all fermented recipes, a little forward planning is required and the easily digested results are well worth it!

I learned how to make this magical pancake mix in Mysore, seven years ago from a housewife who ran cooking lessons for the visiting yoga community. The ingredients are simple and cheap; lentils, rice and an optional splash of yoghurt. The mixture is used to make Indian steamed dumplings, called Idli, or the pancakes called dosa.

A quick trawl around the Net will provide you with plenty of recipe ideas, variations and background. Here is the simple recipe I follow here in Holland, for making chunky, filling dosa. Traditionally, the rice and lentils are supposed to be soaked separately but I find no problems soaking them together.

Dosa are great for slicing and carrying in a lunchbox along with sweet or savoury accompaniments – breakfast.. Mashed banana, yoghurt and honey. Lunch.. Anything from sliced cheese, ham etc to a pot of curry. Yum! Idli are made by dolloping mix into specially shaped steamer plates. I have such a steamer but find the dosa to be much more predictable and quick to make, especially in the morning. However in India, idli are more often eaten as tiffin (lunch) than dosa and Indian dosa are usually much thinner than mine!

2 cups rice (today I used wholegrain Basmati)
1 cup urad dahl (called black split  lentils but they are actually white inside)
1/2 cup yoghurt (optional)

1. Soak the rice and dhal in plenty of water, overnight.
2. Drain, discard soak water.
3. Stir in yoghurt, our some filtered water and grind up in a blender until a smooth-ish thick paste is formed.
4. Transfer to a large bowl, cover a and leave at moderate room temperature for about 24 hours. The longer it is left to ferment, the more spot the taste will become.
5. To cook, simply ladle some of the mixture into a non stick or well oiled frying pan. Cook over a low to medium heat until one side is just brown. Flip and repeat to cook the other side.
6. Serve with chosen sweet or savoury accompaniment.

Speaking to an Indian colleague today, I learned that such thick dosa are called attapam, or uth apam. They are traditionally served with fried onions and other savouries.

Making Tempeh

image

OK, so how useful this will be in my lunch box remains to be seen but today I have tried my hand at tempeh production.

I have been inseparable from my new Wild Fermentation book, by Sandor Ellix Katz, for several days now and used it to learn about the process of fermenting cooked soya beans into a far more nutritious product.

The photo shows me trying to dehull the cooked beans this morning, by far the most time consuming part of the method. At present the dehulled, dried, acidified and innoculated beans are fermenting in zip lock bags, at 31°C in my oven. I’m anticipating waking tomorrow to the bags full of a more fungusy, marshmallowy looking substance.

The book is inspirational and if you’ve half a mind to try making yoghurt, miso, tempeh, sour dough, kombucha, pickles, mead, beer… … then I urge you to at least look up Sandorkraut, the wild fermenter, or to get hold of the book. He apparently has an even more comprehensive book coming out this summer. I hope by then to have dozens of gently bubbling crock pots around my home. I’ve been messing around with homemade yoghurts and a few other ferments for years but I now feel like a fermentation activist!

Socks as fruit protectors

I saw an old post on an Australian craft blog called Peasoup of the day, giving a knitting pattern for fruit protectors. I thought these things could be an attractive way to prevent my apples, peaches and pears from looking battered by the time I eat them at work. But I don’t really have time for such a project, so it got me thinking about socks…

Perhaps old socks, very clean of course, could serve the same purpose? I tried it yesterday with an old walking sock and rubber band. It certainly did the trick; my apple made it to work without damage and not a hint of cheese was detected!

So what do you think, yeah our nay to old socks as a low impact lunch aid and would you go to the trouble of knitting a fruit protector?

Lunch in a Glass Jar

I just found an interesting blog post by krista and jess showing how to make a deconstructed sushi lunch in a Mason jar. Apart from the obvious difficulties of carrying your lunch around in something so fragile, this seems quite a smart low impact idea.

What do you think of it? I don’t hold much hope of cycling to work with a glass jar and not covering bike paths with broken glass but I will try out the principle sometime soon.