Thursday, June 28, 2012

Iced Herbal Giveaway Winner

Congrtulations to Marilyn, the random winner of my Iced Herbal blog giveaway. (And I apologize for being late in announcing the winner.) Marilyn will receive a sample of Lavender Lace herbal, a sample of the Jasmine Pearl's Red (rooibos) Chai, along with a trio of beautiful tea notecads. On its way soon!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A New Way of Breadmaking

Look at this gorgeous loaf of bread!

And this one too...And both of these were super-easy to make.
I've fallen in love with a new method of making and baking yeast bread.  It's no-knead and the science behind it is that you can form gluten in two ways:  kneading or using a very wet dough and refrigeration (allowing the amino acids to align to form gluten).  The science and plethora of recipes are found in this most-excellent book, Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a DayLove, love it!  I got it first from the library and, after three renewals, purchased my own copy. 

The authors, Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois, originally wrote the cookbook Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, but I prefer the follow-on "Healthy Bread..." version.  It includes many recipes that are 100% whole wheat or whole grain, and several gluten-free.  The authors also share the secret to making whole wheat bread turn out light and fluffy, and with a crunchy crust.

The general process:  First, you make a very wet dough (enough for at least 2 loaves) which you let sit loosely covered in the fridge.  This making process takes about 15 minutes.

When it's bread-making day, dust the surface with flour and pinch off the amount needed.   

 Place into a greased loaf pan or shape by hand.  This is the "5 minutes" part of the plan.  Let  it warm for 90 minutes.
Then bake and enjoy!  Allow the remaining dough to sit in the fridge until you are ready to use it, up to a week.

Perfect for tea and toast!
Have you tried no-knead yeast bread?  What's your experience?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Eva's Herbucha

This is Eva, and I met her last Sunday at the Farmer's Market.  I was excited to find her smiling out from the trailer with Eva's Herbucha on tap!  Eva has been making kombucha for nearly a decade.  She's been selling commercially for the past four years. 

The idea of offering kombucha on tap makes so much sense.  It reduces waste, stays fresh and is fun!  Makes me think I should have a party with a keg.  Eva's Herbucha is found locally at the co-ops and Whole Foods.  It's also sold on tap at the Red & Black Cafe and Portobello Vegan Trattoria.

Eva's kombucha blends are based on the special properties of herbs.  She uses 2 parts herb, one part tea.  Eva is a licensed natural health practitioner (“Heilpraktiker”, licensed in Germany), a polarity therapist, and a reiki master.

I tried the Uplifting with lemon and ginger.  I enjoyed it very much.  Go here for a list of her other kombucha blends.  

I'm looking forward to another cup tomorrow!  I can see this will become a regular treat.  I also love supporting a locally-brewed beverage and a woman small business entrepreneur. 

I know that some of you have never tried kombuchaIt's pretty easy to find in natural food stores these days.  Here's a list of the ones I've blogged about.  If you have tried kombucha, what do you think?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Funny Fennel

Isn't fennel a funny little plant?  Shown above are two types that made it into the pot tonight.  The back spindly one is bronze fennel.  The front lighter green one is the kind of fennel that produces the white, edible bulbs sold in grocery stores.  Both are very nice to munch on while in the garden.

To brew, I took my kitchen shears and chopped up the fennel coarsely, then shoved it into the pot.  I added boiling water and steeped for 10 minutes. The liquor morphed into a gorgeous shade of celadon!  The light was softening and I couldn't get a good photo, so you'll have to trust me. 

The aroma of the first 10-minute brew surprised me.  It was vegetal/roasty, like some green teas.  I was even more surprised to find the taste to be very sweet.  The "licorice flavor" was not at all overpowering.  An interesting combination!  (I like it.)
Brewing for 20 minutes produced a (slightly) sweeter cup, and the vegetal/roasty aroma remained.  In my herb book, fennel is noted for being a good stomach and intestinal remedy. 

Do you like fennel?  Do you drink it as an herbal tea?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Tea Fabric Summer Blouse

I've had this teapot fabric for several years, and didn't know what to do with it.  I finally decided on making this blouse, from the Made by Rae tutorialI like the blousy look, above, but also thought it would look nice with a contrasting sash. 

Which do you prefer?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Meatless Monday 12: Grilled Garlic Scape Pizza

Garlic Scape Pizza on the grill

Garlic scapes are in season here.  Oh my goodness, they are delicious!  Like a green onion, except garlicy and a bit chewier, like the texture of asparagus.  (The curly  heads are also edible, but ours were getting old and were large, so I cut them off.) 

We decided to try the scapes on a grilled pizza (our first attempt at this, I know - we are a few years behind).  The result was great, definitely demanding a repeat performance.

I purchased a pre-made, whole wheat pizza dough at my grocer.  It's just a lump of dough in a bag.  Let it rise for 30 min, and then shape into a pizza crust. I first cooked the bottom side of the pizza crust on the grill, about 4 minutes until it was bubbly and solid on the bottom.  Then I flipped it and added the goodies (potatoes, garlic scapes, walnuts and blue cheese).  The secret seems to be to have all the toppings pre-cooked.  The dough finishes off too quickly to allow the toppings to do their full bit of cooking, so you just want to warm them.

(And let it be know that I was doing the cooking while the DH offered a helping had to flip the crust - and the rest of time, practiced not giving cooking advice.  ;-)

We gobbled this up! 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Iced Pineapple Mint

Iced Pineapple Mint
*Read about the book below

Pineapple mint is such a pretty and aromatic plant that yields a spectacular iced tisane.  Thanks to Alex for the recommendation!
This variegated version of apple mint is aggressive/invasive, so if you plant it, keep it well-contained.  (I am benefiting from a garden neighbor's overrun.)  Preparation couldn't be easier:  I simply snipped the plant, rinsed it, rubbed the leaves a bit, shoved them into a teapot (stalks and all),  and steeped with boiling water for 20 minutes.  I let it cool in the fridge and enjoyed this incredibly refreshing drink. 

How to describe its flavor? First, it's not pineapple-flavored.  Not sure how it got that name.  It is less intense on the menthol than other mints, which makes it nice for those of you who find peppermint or spearmint too strong.  The hot tisane is nice, but I agree with Alex.  This one really shines when cold.  I'm at a loss to think of something more refeshing.  I'll be enjoying many glasses this summer.

The herbal tea becomes an attractive yellow-green.  I love how the evening sun is captured in the "rays" on this pressed glass pitcher.  The pitcher belonged to my grandmother.

* About the book:  The glass at the top is sitting on the book Wildwood, a NY Times bestseller.  I read this rather thick volume in 3 days.  It's fun because the setting is Forest Park, in Portland.  (Wildwood Trail is the park's most famous hiking path.)  It even mentions Pittock Mansion.  Go here to watch a video with the author, Colin Meloy and the illustrator (also his wife), Carson Ellis.  Meloy also belongs to the band The Decemberists.  

Friday, June 15, 2012

Iced Herbals - Your Suggestions

Now that summer is starting to think of joining us here in the Pacific Northwest, I've been desiring iced tea/tisanes.  I am enjoying my experiment with brewing fresh herbs, and am trying a few in iced form. Mint is excellent of course.  Today I'm going to try an iced rosemary.    

Though it's not fresh, I wanted to share the pretty colors and textures of this Lavender Lace tea from Zabar's (a fancy deli in New York). It contains lemon verbena, spearmint, cinnamon, lavender and rosemary.  I like it, and the cinnamon adds a nice depth of flavor.  I'll try that trick!

I'd also love YOUR suggestions!  What herbal teas do you enjoy drinking iced, either made with fresh herb or dried?  A winner will be randomly selected from the commenters.  The prize: a sample of the Lavender Lace herbal tea and a surprise.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Watering Can

"Gardening requires lots of water - most of it in the form of perspiration." ~Lou Erickson

My new watering can, courtesy of MJ.  I love it, and I love watching the DH use it.  ;-)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Meatless Monday 11: Popcorn and Fruit

The DH came into our marriage a fan of Helen and Scott Nearing and their philosophies of The Good Life.  I've become a fan, too.  I mean, what's not to love about Helen, who did almost all of the stonemason work on their slipstone cottage herself? 

The Nearings were known to enjoy a simple meal of popcorn and fruit.  We also enjoyed this delicious meal Saturday night.  We didn't feel like cooking, and neither did we feel like going out.

I highly recommend air-popped popcorn.  Eaten naked, it's sweet and satisfying.  It's fun and tasty to doctor up, too.  One of our favorite combos is to spray on a little olive oil and add nutritional yeast and chili powder.  Sprinkle on ground up lapsang souchong, and you have a treat that's steller!  (Thanks to Jasmine Pearl for that idea.)  Oh, yumm!  We also like the popcorn with olive oil, lemon pepper (and if you desire, a bit of grated parmasean). 

Are there any other air-popped popcorn fans out there?

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Nuvrei Patisserie and Cafe

Visited a relatively new French bakery in "the Pearl" last week. It's small with just the right amount of seating to be intimate. It feels like a really good secret.

I started with the house fruit punch, a blend of passion fruit, raspberries, lemon, apple and mint topped with sparkling water. (They also carry Foxfire teas.). Had a fabulous salad for lunch and the beauties for dessert. Look around!

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

50-Cents a Piece

This is a post that will make Angela proud!  ;-)  Recently, the DH was browsing at a yard sale (while I was out of town).  He stumbled upon these two gaiwan.  The owner didn't seem to know anything about them, and they were 50-cents a piece.  Home they came!
 I love the cranes.

A gaiwan is a three-piece steeping vessel.  It includes saucer, cup, lid.  Some people both brew and drink from the gaiwan.  I do this on occasion, but am more likely to use the gaiwan for steeping and then pour off the tea into a drinking vessel or serving pot.  I use my gaiwan most often with green teas.

A few tips: 
1 - Use the lid like a paddle to stir the tea. 
2 - All three pieces live together.  The bottom saucer shelters your hand from the heat (gaiwan can become very warm) and the lid acts like a filter.
3 - When drinking from a gaiwan, place the set in one hand (including the saucer).  Raise to drinking level while using the other hand to tip the lid just enough to let the liquid through. 
4 - When pouring off from a gaiwan, keep all three pieces together.  Tip the lid just enough to allow the liquid to escape.  (With practice, you will be able to pour with one hand.) 
 This one has an interestingly domed lid and scalloped saucer.
Original packaging.  Wish I could read what it says!

The amazing part of this story is that I recently broke my only gaiwan.  While saddened, I chose not to dwell on the loss (which I have a tendency to do).  Perhaps this was my reward.  ;-)

Monday, June 04, 2012

Meatless Monday 10: Garden Stuff

Tis the season for lots of garden stuff.  Makes it easy to go meatless, just to keep up!

Appetizer:  Radishes and sugar snap peas

Salad:  Green and red leaf lettuce, red mustard, lemon sorrel, onions, parsley (all from the garden) and yellow bell pepper.  Dressed with just a bit of lemon olive oil and rice wine vinegar.

Main course:  Parsnips (garden) and carrots with garden parsley and baked potatoes with garden rosemary.

Dessert:  Homegrown strawberries 

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Prickly Borage

Borage in the garden

Prickly but pretty, borage is one of our garden favorites both for its lovely color and also for its attrictiveness to the bees.  We've had borage for a number of years, but only this year did I try experimenting by eating its leaves and making an herbal brew.

The tender, baby leaf is edible and used in salads.  It has a light cucumber flavor.  As the plant grows, it gets prickly hairs on the leaves.  These agitate my skin, so I handle the plant with rubber gloves.

Borage is native to Mediterranean countries and had a reputation for brightening spirits.  It has also been thought to reduce fever.  In modern uses, its seeds are used to make gamma-linolenic acid.

Notice the two differently colored flowers

When making an herbal infusion, I use both the leaf and flowers.  I tear up the leaves to encourage the release of the plant's essence.  I poured boiling water over the leaf and steeped for 10 minutes.  The liquor is very light and light tasting, enjoyable and refreshing with the benefit of being caffeine-free.  When I sip the infusion alone, I can get a hint of the cucumber flavor, but that's easily overrun when taken with food.

Have you ever used borage?