New Year, New Growth

Lose weight, detox, quit smoking, give up drinking, get fit, spend time with friends, learn something new, enjoy every moment, reduce stress…….empty promises and more stress.

After the imposed hectic nature of Christmas we continue to put pressure on ourselves as the new year rolls in.  We have indulged, and now we must be punished with new diets and a new look.  It is just the first week, where is  the time to just relax?

This year I sat back and observed.  I clocked off work a week before Christmas and dropped right into winter mode: being cosy, resting, making super nourishing food, eatings lots of the aforementioned food and making a few gifts of choice to share the seasonal love. It was my own personal RETREAT and  I made a promise that I would remain in this mode until the winter holidays were completely over and the first week of the new year had passed and the children back to school.

I must admit that to remain on holiday and truly rest has not been easy. There have been plenty of walks which have inspired great thoughts.  However the tsumani of new year enthusiasm drowned me in a wave of guilt.  My fault for swimming into the tide of social media.

 

New years resolutions have never worked for me.  I don’t believe in overnight transformation.  A slow organic shift of thought and action is more sustainable.  I see that as more of a year long project.  All that and a well stocked pantry and you are set for successful meander to reach your goal.

To take the stress out of dietary goals I have learnt to keep things relatively simple.  I follow plate advice from leading nutrition experts such as Robert Verkerk at the Alliance for Natural Health, choosing whole foods simply prepared (with love of course) and flavour loaded with an ALIVE fermented note and a side of the many previously prepped condiments or spice blends.  I have one fridge solely dedicated to ferments and such condiments as pestos, tapenade, mayos etc

A light meal could be as easy as a generous portions of greens, marinated, steamed or sautéed, with a small portion of starchy veg, such as sweet potato paired divinely with The Cultured Clubs favourite miso mayo.  Or a bed of salad with a poached egg, some avocado topped with this lush dukkah.

But here is your new year addiction: The nutrient-dense authentic Argentinian chimichurri!!!!!!!

Best to have healthy addictions than punitive promises.

I CANNOT GET ENOUGH CHIMICHURRI

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 bunch fresh parsley
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (gochugaru)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar/kombucha vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor/blender and pulse until smooth. If you need to add more oil, add a tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached.
  2. Reserve sauce in a jar in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Having nutrient dense food available to you makes any mental shift a hell of a lot easier.  Nourishing the body wakens the mind allowing for thoughts made up of positive energy.  There is a direct connection between your mental state and what you have just ate, however no amount of nutrition and healthy eating will benefit you if you are stressed.  The chimicurri is made and I am off to nurture perfecting my positive thoughts for  2017.
Work starts back tomorrow, stress-free, rested and relaxed.
There are workshops and collaborations to be planned, some exciting developments to be prepared  and more bacteria to be made and shared.  I Look forward to seeing you along the way in 2017

 

#Zenwishlist2017

  1. Let go of grudges
  2. Treat everyone with kindness
  3. Regard your problems as challenges
  4. Express gratitude for what you have
  5. Dream BIG
  6. Don’t sweat the small stuff
  7. Speak well of others
  8. Avoid making excuses
  9. Live in the present
  10. Wake up the same time every morning
  11. Don’t compare yourself to others
  12. Surround yourself with positive people
  13. Realise you don’t need approval
  14. Take time to listen
  15. Nurture social relationships
  16. Meditate
  17. Excercise
  18. Live minimally
  19. Establish personal control
  20. Accept what cannot be changed

 


A Cultural Shift for Christmas

It is not easy in our Culture to be healthy and the minute you try, you are met with opposition and disapproval from the tribe who see the turning of your ways as an insult to their choices.   Ok, maybe a bit harsh, but it can be less than encouraging.

However YOUR choices effect at least seven of the closest people around you, so never underestimate the power of your actions.  Be careful of your choices, vote with your pocket and this CAN and WILL change the our culture for the better.

 

Never has this been more apparent than at Christmas.

 

I reckon I have always struggled around this time of year for one reason…….the mindless consumer mania.  It has made as much sense as the last minute gift which is suppose to express how much I care.  Throw kids into the mix and the pressure can seem beyond your control.  Kids we cannot fool, as they have Santa Claus on their side, although how he can discriminate between giving one child the latest iPhone and another a few bits of lego is perhaps something we need to address and Mummy/Daddy/Significant care giver could take the pleasure of gifting those more expensive items? ……………..Just a thought

Anyhow, let’s take the pressure off the ‘gifts for everyone else‘ list!

I love giving, anyone who knows me well, knows you cannot leave my house without having something bestowed upon you. This is in no way a Scrooge mentality.  It is the insanity of this time of year is perfectly captured and articulated by George Monibot in an article from 2012 which you can read here: On the 12th day of Christmas your gifts will be junk.

 

Read it, Think about it!  Ask the questions about the system which is supplying your demands!  A Cultural Shift, it is all I want for Christmas. (And my children’s future!)

 

Stepping off the consumer treadmill can be daunting.  It’s a vulnerable place…..I know!  Suck it up, be the light and Feck it, as they say!  Old patterns die a very loud death and there is always room for continual growth.

 

So here are my Top 10 solutions which I feel might just enlighten OR at least taste good.  Gifts made with love hold way more value!  Gifts made by hand are filled with LOVE.  After you have spent a fortune on quality ingredients,(NOTE:buying organic is particularly important when purchasing spices) plus invested your time, you will have something to be proud to gift.  If you are creatively minded, there is another wonderful world of labelling, wrapping, musing, so let your philosophy flow through you as you gift something truly unique.

For the Flavour Seekers in your life: (recipes in the clickable titles)

Dukkah  An Egyptian spice blend.

Furikake  Japanese Rice seasoning.

Immunity Spice Blend  Good on everything.

Miso Eggs  Like you have never experienced before.

Asian Dipping Sauce  Also good with everything.

Master Tonic  Your ultimate flu shot.

Miso Mayo  It can go an everything else that doesn’t have have dipping sauce smothering it!

For the want of a better world

Probiotic Toothpaste  A little different but surprisingly shiny results.

Facial scrub (from Susan Jane White)  Completely lickable!

For the Seasonal Table

Cranberry relish  No Christmas dinner should be without it.

Christmas Kraut  It will make the day after more interesting.

Orange, Ginger & Turmeric Kraut  It will bring a little sunshine to your plate.

 

All (as in most) recipes are from The Cultured Club recently published book on Fermented foods and Fabulously Funky Recipes available on Amazon and in all major book stores.

 

The Cultured Club by Dearbhla Reynolds, published by Gill

 

P.S.  If you get the time I recommend you take it to get to know that difference between Tongue Taste Vs Hand Taste as perfectly described by my food hero Michael Pollan.  It will make the joy of your gift even more special.


Orange, Ginger & Turmeric Kraut

 

This snappy, cheery, light little kraut is a perfect anti-inflammatory kraut which is easy to pair with lots of different dishes to make the plate jump.  When winter is in I cannot get enough of the bring orange foods, it must be indicative of the lack of sun.  Ginger and turmeric are juiced, added to soups, mixed into vegetable medleys and of course, added to a ferment.

1 head of red cabbage, shredded (800g-1kg weight)

1 orange, unpeeled and sliced into rounds

5 cm piece of turmeric, grated OR 2 tsp of turmeric powder

5cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated

1 tbsp sea salt

1 Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage it they are looking a bit grim. If they look good, wash them well to make sure there is to soil.

2 Shred the cabbage, cutting out the core. I like to shred it reasonably fine. Use your food processor for this if you have one.

3 Place the shredded cabbage in a large bowl and add the salt, giving it a quick massage through the cabbage until it starts to soften a bit. Let it sit for 30–60 minutes, until it starts to sweat. This does some of the hard work for you. Mix in the rest of the ingredients.

You might want to slip on a glove as the turmeric will stain.  It should be quite wet now.

4 Begin to fill your clean 2-litre jar or crock, taking a handful of cabbage at a time and pressing down very hard using your fist. With each handful you’ll notice a little more liquid seeping out.

5 Keep filling the jar until you have it filled to within 2.5cm of the top of the jar and the liquid is covering the cabbage completely. This provides an anaerobic environment within which fermentation can take place.

6 For successful fermentation it’s crucial to keep the cabbage submerged, so place a weight on it. Leave to sit for anything from one to six weeks. Taste it every few days to gauge the progress of the fermentation flavour. If you’re fermenting in an airtight jar, you need to ‘burp’ the jar every few days to release the build-up of carbon dioxide.

7 When you’re happy with the flavour and texture, store the jar in the fridge. The times will vary with room temperature and other factors. After a week the good bacteria are considered established and it’s good to eat, but if you want the maximum probiotics in your sauerkraut, you’ll want to let your sauerkraut ferment for up to six weeks.


Christmas Kraut

The traditionalists are rather upset with me for messing with the beloved sauerkraut, but this is every Christmas flavour in a jar. It just makes sense during the holiday feasting.

1 head of red cabbage, shredded

500g fresh cranberries

zest and juice of 3 mandarins

1 lemon, zest of 1 and juice of 1/2

5cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated

200g raw cane sugar (or coconut palm sugar)

1- 2 tbsp unrefined sea salt (1 tbsp for every 800g weight of vegetables)
1 tsp ground cinnamon or 4 cinnamon sticks

 

1 Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage it they are looking a bit grim. If they look good, wash them well to make sure there is to soil.

2 Shred the cabbage, cutting out the core. I like to shred it reasonably fine. Use your food processor for this if you have one.

3 Place the shredded cabbage in a large bowl and add the salt, giving it a quick massage through the cabbage until it starts to soften a bit. Let it sit for 30–60 minutes, until it starts to sweat. This does some of the hard work for you. Mix in the rest of the ingredients.   Do remember the sugar is not for you, it is for the lactic acid bacteria which will dominate the jar and they are gonna love your it!  The mixture should be quite wet now.

4 Begin to fill your clean 2-litre jar or crock, taking a handful of cabbage at a time and pressing down very hard using your fist. With each handful you’ll notice a little more liquid seeping out.

5 Keep filling the jar until you have it filled to within 2.5cm of the top of the jar and the liquid is covering the cabbage completely. This provides an anaerobic environment within which fermentation can take place.

6 For successful fermentation it’s crucial to keep the cabbage submerged, so place a weight on it. Leave to sit for anything from one to six weeks. Taste it every few days to gauge the progress of the fermentation flavour. If you’re fermenting in an airtight jar, you need to ‘burp’ the jar every few days to release the build-up of carbon dioxide.

7 When you’re happy with the flavour and texture, store the jar in the fridge. The times will vary with room temperature and other factors. After a week the good bacteria are considered established and it’s good to eat, but if you want the maximum probiotics in your sauerkraut, you’ll want to let your sauerkraut ferment for up to six weeks.

NOTE: if you are concerned about all that sugar, don’t be.  It is perfect food for the lactobacillus bacteria which will have a field day feeding of it and in turn create many many good bacteria for you and your tum!


Fermented Cranberry Relish

This makes all the feasting digestible, I promise it will add a zing to your plate where other relishes just provide another sugar dump.  Make your seasonal table cultured and covert the disbelievers that fermented foods can taste good.

  • ¼ cup candied ginger
  • 2 cups /200 grams fresh or frozen cranberries
  • ½ cup pecans, lightly toasted
  • 1 orange, zest of; then juiced
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  1.  Use a food processor to first coarsely chop the candied ginger.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and pulse until medium consistency.
  3. Pack the cranberry mixture into a wide-mouth pint (500 ml) jar, pressing relish mixture down tightly with a large spoon to force trapped oxygen out.
  4. Leave 1 inch/2.5cm of head space between the top of the cranberry relish and the top of the jar.
  5. Submerge if possible however it is a thick paste without much brine to sit below, so for the intended purposes this might not make long term storage.
  6. Close the lid and allow to ferment for 5-7 days.
  7. You may see air pockets develop as CO2 gasses are created. No need to worry.
  8. Enjoy with your seasonal feasting, Clearly it will go with the meat and do a great job at shelling your digest the protein , however, it can last for up to 6 months.

Probiotic toothpaste

In a healthy person the oral microflora is stable and diverse, and consists mainly of beneficial bacteria. Our modern lifestyle, however, has caused an ecological catastrophe in our mouths, referred to as dysbiosis.  New research suggest that the diversity of oral bacteria decreased dramatically when processed sugar and flour became widely available owing to the industrial revolution.  Restoring these reduced numbers of beneficial bacteria via probiotics might be of considerable benefit, it surely will not harm.  Not only does it this toothpaste thoroughly clean your teeth, but it also helps to detoxify your mouth.

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 3 tbsp Bentonite Clay
  • 2 capsules of Optibac Probiotic
  • 10 drops of peppermint essential oil
  • 1 tsp of xylitol
  • 1 tbsp activated charcoal (optional)
  • 1 tsp Food Grade Diatomaceous earth (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Mix all ingredients together
  2. Put into a sealed glass container
  3. Brush teeth for 2 minutes 2 x daily

Worth noting, you only need a little amount of this paste when brushing.  It is not advisable to spit it down the sink either.  Instead spit into a tissue and pop in the bin.


Miso Mayo

I would never have considered mayo until my fermentation experiments lead me to using up excess brine juices and playing with different kitchen skills.  Enough said!

 

MAKES 1 X 250ML JAR

2 egg yolks
1 tbsp homemade fermented mustard or 1/4 tsp mustard powder
1 tbsp kombucha vinegar/ACV
1 tbsp brine juice
1Tbsp miso or 1/4 tsp sea salt
250ml grapeseed or mild olive oil (current preference is grapeseed oil)

All ingredients should be at room temperature before you start.

1 Place the egg yolks, mustard, vinegar, brine and salt in a food processor. Blend for about 30 seconds, until well combined.

2 With the food processor running, add the oil in as slow a drizzle as possible to emulsify into mayonnaise. It takes me at least three minutes to slowly pour in the oil drip by drip and complete the emulsification. Adjust the salt to taste.

3 Transfer to a clean 250ml jar and leave out at room temperature for two to three days, then transfer to the fridge, where it will keep for at least one month.


Master Tonic

As a winter protocol I start a batch of master tonic as a winter flu prevention that will keep the immune system fighting fit.  There is a bit of grating/processing but after your initial brew, you can make two or three more batches from the solid ingredients. After that, you can dehydrate all the vegetable matter.

Just arrange to be out of the house or at least wear goggles around your dehydrator, as that horseradish still burns! Once it’s dried you can grind it into a powder and use it as a seasoning for various meals, bearing in mind that it’s pretty potent. Alternatively, you can purée all the ingredients to make an interesting marinade.

The ingredients in the master tonic have been chosen for the medicinal qualities they offer.

  • Kombucha vinegar/ACV – probiotic, blood sugar balance

  • Ginger – reduces nausea, eases digestion and fights colds and chills
  • Horseradish – antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, sinus clearing, coughs
  • Onion – colds, bronchitis, antihistamine, high in vitamin C
  • Garlic – immunity, cardiovascular health, antibacterial
  • Jalapeño pepper – sinusitis, combats infection, breaks up mucous

     • Scotch bonnet chilli – circulation, breaks up mucous and fever relief

      • Turmeric – antioxidant, anti-inflammatory

 

MAKES 600ML

To make a batch:

600ml kombucha vinegar OR unpasteurised Apple Cider vinegar (ACV)

25g fresh ginger, peeled and grated

25g grated fresh horseradish (be warned that this can be much stronger than onions when grating!)

1 medium onion, diced
1 garlic bulb, cloves diced
4 jalapeño pepper, diced
4 scotch bonnet chillies, diced

Optional extras:

1 lemon, sliced

1 sprig of rosemary, left whole

1 tbsp ground turmeric or 50g grated fresh turmeric

1 Place all the ingredients in a clean 1-litre jar and pour in the kombucha vinegar to cover. Leave 2.5cm of headspace at the top of the jar. Close the lid and allow to infuse for at least two weeks, but steeping it for longer won’t make it any stronger. Strain the liquid into a fresh clean jar – this is your master tonic. (See the note above for ideas on how to reuse the solid ingredients.) Drink a tablespoon or more each morning or when you feel the sniffles coming on.

 


Miso Eggs

These are a favourite to have ready in the fridge, I like to do batches of six at a time.  They are a taste sensation.

PER EGG
2 tbsp white miso of your choice (maybe it will be homemade one day!)

1 tsp maple syrup

1 egg

1 Place your chosen number of eggs into a saucepan and completely submerge them in water. Include a good few centimetres of extra water. Turn the heat to high and wait for the water to boil. As soon as it does, cover the pot with a tightly fitting lid, turn off the heat and set a timer for 10 minutes. After the 10 minutes are up, remove them from the pan with a slotted spoon and cool them off immediately by placing them in very cold water. The cold water bath not only makes them easier to peel, but it also stops the cooking and will prevent a grey ring from appearing around the yolk. Peel the eggs and leave whole.

2 Mix the miso and maple syrup together very well to form a smooth
paste. Spread the paste over the middle of a piece of cling film or a ziplock bag that’s big enough to wrap the egg in. Put one egg in the middle of the cling film and wrap it around the egg. Twist the plastic shut at the top and squeeze until the miso is completely covering the egg. Place in the fridge for at least five hours but up to one week.

3 When you’re ready to use an egg, take off the cling film. The white of the egg should be a light to medium beige and the surface will be covered with a bit of miso. You can leave this on or wipe it off gently if you prefer.


Yangnyeomjang!

Dipping Sauce

An indispensable condiment that will liven up anything from a simple rice bowl to fresh vegetables. It comes to the rescue if cooking something complicated is out of the question. Pair it with a kimchi pancake and you will never look back.
MAKES 50ML

1 spring onion, chopped
1 fermented garlic clove, grated
3 tbsp tamari
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tsp gochugaru chilli flakes
2 tsp black or white sesame seeds, toasted 1/2 tsp raw honey
1/2 tsp kombucha vinegar (page 000)

1 Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. It will keep well for three days in the fridge.

 


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About

The Cultured Club is dedicated to reviving this lost tradition and bringing the control of our health into our own kitchens.
'Let food be thy medicine and thy medicine be food' is a hard philosophy to live by when we are so removed from the food we eat.

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