Sunday, May 15, 2011

Spring is Sprung

Somehow months have gone by without a post.  My apologies.  Life has been busy.... I am vowing to post more and update on all the things that have kept me away.  The photo above was taken today at the Bronx Zoo after viewing their butterfly garden exhibit.  My little Zebra Swallowtail (that's the butterfly above) is doing really well and had a great time today as we strolled the nearly unoccupied zoo this afternoon (threatening weather kept most folks at home!). 

Sunday, February 6, 2011


What do you feed the GFCF, soy-free, potato-free, corn-free, lots of other stuff free kid who would really like goldfish crackers?  I think I FINALLY have a solution, thanks to the good folks at ReadyMade Magazine (to which I am a subscriber).  In their latest issue, ReadyMade compared several different cheese crackers, including a homemade variety.  On their website, they posted the recipe for the homemade cheese crackers.  The ingredients are simple:  flour, butter, cheddar cheese and ice water.  Of course, three out of the four don't work for someone on a GFCF diet (at least the ice water is ok!).  In this case, the substitutions were simple and worked quite well.  I substituted the same amount of GFCF-safe ingredients for the originals with the exception of the ice water.  I found I needed a touch more water than the two tablespoons called for, but I added it slowly in tiny amounts to get the correct consistency.

Crispy, finished crackers cooling on a rack
Crackers before baking


Here are my substitutions:
Daiya cheddar style shreds for the cheese
Purity Farms ghee (or other well made ghee) for the butter
Chebe All-Purpose Bread Mix (a manioc [tapioca] based mix) for flour.

The crackers baked up crispy, crunchy and cheesy tasting.  My GFCF boy loved them, and even my husband and a few friends proclaimed them a success. 

These were easy to mix up in a stand mixer and quick to make (there is some downtime while the dough chills in the fridge).  The trick is to roll out the dough quite thin and bake just long enough to get crisp without burning.  They only take about 15 minutes in the oven but should be watched carefully.  They also should be watched carefully once placed on the cooling rack -- they were mysteriously disappearing from my kitchen!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Vaccine Epidemic - The Book

Officially launching on February 9, 2011 but already shipping from, Vaccine Epidemic is a whole new way of looking at the vaccine debate.  

I am proud to be a part of this effort.  Over twenty authors have contributed chapters on a wide array of topics, including law, ethics, media, human rights, medicine, epidemiology, history, philosophy, and personal stories of vaccine injury.  In addition to my role as contributing editor, I also authored a chapter on vaccine exemptions and forced child removal.

We  offer parents, medical professionals and others ways to critically examine the issues surrounding vaccination.  But let's be clear, "Vaccine Epidemic" is NOT anti-vaccine.  It is pro-vaccination choice.  It is in favor of informed consent concerning vaccination.   Parents (and others), regardless of what they ultimately decide is the right choice for themselves and their family, should have the opportunity to make their decision from a position of knowledge.  Their decision should not be based on fear, coercion, and lack of knowledge concerning their rights and the potential risks and benefits of vaccination. 

Vaccine Epidemic" rises above the name-calling and rhetoric and offers a studied and serious look at the issues concerning vaccination and why the book is not closed on the link between vaccines and a wide variety of diseases and disorders.  It is an eye-opening read, no matter where you stand on issues surrounding vaccination.

If you are in or will be traveling to NYC on February 18, join us that evening for our launch event at NYU School of Law.  The event will include panel discussions, Q&A and a book signing.  A number of authors will be in attendance,  The event is free and open to the public but requires pre-registration.  Click here for more information and to register.

Stayed tuned for more events, chances to win a copy of the book, and other news!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Preserved Lemons

While in Paris this winter, we ate a small Moroccan restaurant frequented by friends who live nearby.  Le Tagine was wonderful.  They accommodated H's dietary needs and served tasty Moroccan cuisine in a nicely decorated room (I especially loved the punched metal sconces and light fixtures).  I had a delicious tagine of lamb, olives and preserved lemon and the flavors just burst in my mouth.  This was my second run in with preserved lemons in a week.  A few days before I had prepared a version of Charlie Palmer's "Ten-Hour" veal pappardelle that I had eaten in November at Metrazur, the Palmer restaurant in Grand Central Station.  The recipe calls for preserved lemons, to which I did not have ready access in a small French town over the Christmas holiday, so I did without, using lemon zest (BTW, the family loved it so even without preserved lemon, it is worth making - warning that it is time intensive - best for a long weekend).

Quarter the lemon but do not slice through
Open up the lemons and salt the interior

A jar of preserved lemons on their way
These two dishes got me thinking about preserved lemons (and the lack thereof in my kitchen).  It turns out they are really easy to make.

One of my activities this weekend was preserved lemon preparation.  I used the recipe at SimplyRecipes, but substituted regular lemons for Meyer lemons.  While I like Meyer lemons a lot, I wanted really zingy preserved lemons.  All you need is a clean/sterilized canning jar, kosher salt, and a slew of lemons (I think 8 or so went into my jar, plus the juice of two others).  Use organic lemons if at all possible, after all, it is the skins that are the part you will be using and who wants to eat pesticides?

Take a look at the link above for the details, but basically a couple tablespoons of salt go in the bottom of your jar, followed by lemons with the ends trimmed and then quartered, but not sliced through, that have been salted.  You squish the lemons down into the jar to release juice (I suspect the salt helps this process because they release a lot of juice).  Fill the jar and top off with extra juice (if needed) and a couple more tablespoons of salt.  They stay at room temp a few days and then continue to cure for a few weeks in the fridge until they are ready to use.  I cannot wait.  I am going to try to replicate that lamb, olive and preserved lemon dish from le Tagine.

Vinegar for Winter Health

In catching up on some backlogged magazine reading while on vacation this winter, I happened upon a recipe in ReadyMade magazine for herbal vinegar that is supposed to help boost the immune system to stave off winter health woes.  The recipe for the tincture is credited to Trilby Sedlacek, a registered herbalist in Iowa and owner of Green Angels Herbs & Healing Arts.  The recipe is easy - raw apple cider vinegar (such as Bragg) and fresh herbs of your choice (recommended are: nasturtium, mint, garlic, sage and basil).  You simply fill a clean/sterilized canning jar (a Ball jar) with herbs, not overpacking, and then fill the jar with vinegar.  You seal and let it sit for about two weeks at room temperature, shaking gently once in awhile.  Then you strain out the herbs, label and date the jar and start enjoying.  Note:  the Wild*Crafty blog recommends letting ther herb/vinegar mix sit for six weeks before decanting. 

Fresh, organic sage (left) and basil (right)

Bragg ACV
The chopped herbs, loosely packed

I  started my tincture this afternoon.  I chose sage and basil and I would recommend organic herbs if you can find them.  While garlic has many healing properties, unfortunately, both H & I recently tested as sensitive to it.  So, for the time being, it is out of our diets.   This took only a few minutes to make and now I just have to patiently wait for the tincture to be ready.

The finished product - ACV & herbs
Once the tincture has "matured" for a few weeks, you can use a few spoonfuls in salad dressings, sauces, soups/stews.  Or, if you are like me and love vinegar, have a few spoonfuls straight up!  For hot food, it is recommended to add after cooking so as not to destroy the healthful benefits of the raw vinegar. The theory behind the tincture is that the vinegar helps to extract the minerals from the herbs.  Unlike the strictly culinary vinegars that you can buy in gourmet groceries, which use just a small amount of herbs for their flavor properties, this type of tincture is prepared with larger quantities of herbs for their healthful properties - that they taste great too is an additional benefit!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Green Means Go

I have been absent from blogging for too long.  Life in general and, especially, a book project, had left me pressed for time.  My apologies but when you hear more about the book, I hope you will think it was worth the blogging break.  Intrigued?  Click the link above and learn more now.

Today I had two great green food experiences.  One was cooking an old favorite - kale - a new way.  The second was my introduction to an entirely new food for me - sea beans.

First the kale.  Kale is  one of my favorite foods, sauteed, raw, in green drinks.  I just love it.  And Henry really likes it too, which is great because kale's nutritional profile is a strong one - it is a veggie superstar.  A few days ago, an email from Elana Amsterdam's blog dropped in my inbox with an enticing recipe for sea salt and vinegar kale chips. As an aside, if you are not familiar with Elana's blog, Elana's Pantry, or her cookbook, especially if you are gluten-free, they are definitely worth checking out.  The kale chips took only minutes to make and are delish!  You toss a small bit of olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and sea salt with the kale in a bowl and bake in the oven (details are in the link).  I have to confess that I was eating pieces of it right out of the bowl (I told you that I love kale!)  I haven't been able to get H to try one, but hopefully soon.  And if he doesn't want them, more for me! The photo above are a few of my sea salt and vinegar kale chips.

These are sea beans, or salicornia:

Apparently they have been showing up in farmers' markets and gourmet shops the past few years and I have missed them... lost, sea bean-free years I shall never get back.  Very sad.  But now I know them and will definitely pick some up when I see them.  These are wonderfully crisp little gems that taste of the sea (read: salty) but also with a clean vegetable taste.  I just looked through a bunch of my vegetable and raw foods cookbooks and nary a mention of sea beans, so I may not be the only one missing out.  Gothamist pointed me to Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini as a source of information.  This out of print book looks really amazing - a combination of vegetable encyclopedia and recipe book - I might use of one of my gift cards to get this.  Given there saltiness, I would think that those on a salt-restricted regimen might have to be careful with these.

I have been eating handfuls of them all afternoon since returning from the Whole Foods in Darien, CT with a bag full of them.  This is a stop we frequently make on our way home from visits to Darin Ingels, ND, who is helping both H and me with allergy/immune system issues.  Today we found not only the sea beans but also emu eggs (alongside the more familiar quail and duck eggs).  The emu eggs were huge and colored a deep blue-green - not unlike a really huge avocado.  And not inexpensive ($29+ each!).  I am not sure what one does with them - my googling suggests what you do with other eggs but that one is like a dozen+ chicken eggs.  Yikes! Nonetheless, they were lovely to look at, just not practical for our family.