Whole Food Homestead

plant. grow. reap. eat.

Fermented Green Beans

DSC_0377

I have green beans coming out of my ears! If you are a fellow gardener and have planted even one row, you are probably experiencing the same windfall. If not, you can find loads of beans in all sorts of colors at your local farmer’s market this time of year. I wanted to take advantage of this crop abundance as an opportunity to share a less common preservation method for green (or yellow, or purple!) beans – in addition to freezing, canning, or eating your green beans with every meal for the next couple weeks, a great option is to ferment them. You likely already have the few items you will need on hand, and beyond preserving your beans for at least a year, fermenting offers numerous health benefits – namely, probiotics, enzymes and preserved and enhanced vitamin content. The bacteria that will populate your jar of beans are lactic-acid producing, so as their population grows, they release the lactic acid that is responsible for pushing out undesirable microbes and preserving your food long term. These “friendly” bacteria are the same class as those found in yogurt and probiotic supplements you can pay a lot of money for from the store. A healthy population of beneficial bacteria in your gut means better overall health, since a whopping 70% of our immune system resides in the intestines. The vitamin content is preserved through fermentation (plus vitamin B12 increases as a byproduct of fermentation), whereas the vitamin content of even raw – not to mention cooked – vegetables degrades significantly every day from the time they are picked (another reason to start a garden or buy locally!). In addition to the high vitamin and probiotic content of fermented produce, it is also rich in enzymes that help your body to digest whatever else you’re eating! The ideal would be to have a small side of something fermented with every meal. Try it and see what changes you notice in your health!

All you will need is a tightly sealing glass jar (a mason jar or old pickle jar or something similar works), salt, water, spices and your beans. Beans are just one of the vegetables you can ferment – the possibilities are endless! Try carrot sticks or kimchi, for instance! I also want to add – don’t be freaked out by fermentation! The lactic acid both preserves the food and destroys harmful bacteria. If you see the obvious signs of a healthy ferment (described below), you have nothing to fear! Truly, you are more likely to get sick from spinach from the grocery store – unfortunate but true!

Fermented Green Beans
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
1 quart 10 minutes
Passive Time
1 week
Servings Prep Time
1 quart 10 minutes
Passive Time
1 week
Fermented Green Beans
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
1 quart 10 minutes
Passive Time
1 week
Servings Prep Time
1 quart 10 minutes
Passive Time
1 week
Ingredients
Servings: quart
Instructions
  1. Prepare a basic brine by dissolving the 2 tbsp salt in 1 quart of water. It helps to heat a cup of the water, dissolve the salt in it, and then add three cups of cold water to cool it down. You do not want to add hot water to the beans, as it may kill the beneficial microbes that will help get the fermentation process going.
  2. In the bottom of your quart jar, drop whatever spices you want - dill, garlic and red pepper flakes are suggested here, but anything you have will do! Also add your black tea or grape, horseradish or oak leaf (literally from a tree in your yard is fine, as long as it is not treated chemically). These items all tannins, which are an organic substance that will help keep your veggies crisp.
  3. Next, stuff your jar as tightly as possible with the beans, leaving a couple inches headspace at the top of the jar. Once the beans are in, fill the jar with your prepared brine to cover the beans by about an inch, while leaving about an inch of air space. Cap the jar with your lid and seal tightly.
  4. Let the jar sit at room temp for about a week, "burping" it once or twice a day by briefly cracking the seal to release pressure and then retightening. There won't be much activity in the first day or so, but soon you will notice the brine becoming cloudy and maybe even whitish, you will see fizzing, and you will notice a sour pickle smell starting to develop (that's the lactic acid). These are all good signs that your ferment is active and healthy. After about a week, when the activity has slowed down considerably and the beans are nice and sour, refrigerate or store in a root cellar or very cool basement. The cooler the storage, the longer the beans will last before getting soft and unpalatable. But as long as there isn't mold growing or strange colors or smells, they are good to eat!
Share this Recipe
 
Powered byWP Ultimate Recipe

Inspirations from the 2016 Seed Savers Exchange Conference

IMG_3984

I just returned from a weekend at Seed Savers Exchange’s (SSE) Heritage Farm in Decorah, Iowa, rubbing shoulders with gardeners, activists, geneticists, chefs, microbiologists, horticulturists, lobbyists, lawyers, grass roots organizers, historians, and seed curators, savers and propegators – all around one devotion: preserving  heirloom seeds. The motivation is this: between 1903 and 1983, our country lost 93% of our seed varieties. Worldwide, experts estimate that we have lost more than half of our food varieties over the past century. (Rural Advancement Foundation International) That’s thousands of varieties of food crops that hold a treasure of biodiversity; biodiversity that holds the key to everything from drought, pest and disease resistance to the culinary creativity that pleases our palates.

In the 1970s, Diane Ott Whealy and Kent Whealy recognized the need for protecting and reviving the nation’s remaining seed variety and started in their living room what is now an iconic organization that preserves and propagates over 20,000 varieties of heirloom and open-pollinated plants. They also created a network of growers across the country who are dedicated to the same cause, and this network is what continues to bring in many, many varieties that once were thought completely lost – and they would have been if it weren’t for the individuals and families who saved and passed on their own seeds from generation to generation. Heirloom seeds are rich with history and story, and that is a big part of why growing them, and gathering with others to learn and share this past weekend, was so magical for me. Here are a few of my inspirations from my pilgrimage to Heritage Farm:

New ideas and inspiration from Diane Ott Whealy’s garden. My first moments of exploration at Heritage Farm lead me through Diane’s garden – a display garden where over half of the plants freely reseed themselves from year to year, and the other half is planted with no rules or restrictions. Vegetables, flowers and herbs intermix in a beautiful conglomeration of color and free form design. This is where I spotted the purple pea pictured above – who knew such a thing existed! In addition to being inspired by shocks of color from things like purple peas and flaming magenta amaranth, I was struck by how lush and healthy the garden was. I later attended Diane’s garden tour and had to ask – how is such a thing done? Certainly fertilizer, right? A lot of treatment for pest and disease? The answer was none of the above. She said that she simply uses mulch (with a very rare use of organic spray when needed for a bad problem, but that didn’t tend to happen) and believed that perhaps the health of the garden was from its great diversity. This made sense – besides conventional companion planting, like putting carrots with tomatoes, there was such a mix up of plants across every square foot that no disease or pest would have much luck jumping from one plant to another of the same variety. A specific design I plan to borrow from the garden is to use stiff cattle panel bent into a low arch, held in place within a raised bed, to serve as a lattice for squash or watermelon, with shade loving plants growing underneath, as shown below.

IMG_0149 IMG_0151

The conviction that it’s finally time to start saving seeds. It’s in the title after all – this was a “seed savers” conference, but I have yet to quite get into saving seeds. However, I was pushed over the edge during talks from speakers such as food and farm attorney Neil Thaper, who spoke about the need to advocate for a seed commons (that seeds should be a unrestricted resource for all, like air and water) and keynote speaker Rowen White, who beautifully shared of reconnecting to her Mohawk heritage through searching out and reviving an extensive collection of native seeds. Seed diversity was lost in the first place, and continues to be at risk, because commercial ownership of seeds is unpredictable, and it’s only through those who individually saved seeds over the decades that some diversity has been recovered. Likewise, hand to hand seed saving and sharing is also an important part of protecting food security in the future. That’s the practical side. There’s also the deeper, richer and perhaps even more compelling side of seed saving – that saving and passing down seeds connects us to our family, heritage, tradition and our land and food in very real and meaningful ways. Now I’m wondering, is there a precious handful of otherwise extinct seeds stowed away somewhere in my family line? Perhaps a great aunt has a baby jar of seeds stored in her garage? I feel a treasure hunt brewing… 🙂

New flavors through creative growing and cooking. Exploring a test garden on Friday evening, I started chatting with someone about how the swiss chard could possibly be so lush and gigantic, and we got to talking about who we are, where we’re from, etc. It turns out this someone was Aaron Keefer, culinary gardener for The French Laundry, a three-star Michelin restaurant in Napa Valley. I fully admit my cultural ignorance in not recognizing the restaurant, even though there are only a handful of its class in the country. But what I did clearly recognize was that Aaron was doing some incredible work, utilizing his unique background and training as both a farmer and a chef to run an organic garden that supplies the ingredients for each and every kitchen masterpiece served right across the street. The next day in his keynote address, as Aaron talked about the drive that premier chefs have to seek out new ingredients and flavors, I thought about what a pity it is that so much variety was lost in the last century, many times in favor of blander hybrid varieties that ship and store well. It helped that theory was put into practice with a weekend of delicious food served to us on site – even some crop varieties that were once nearly lost but now restored as a part of our country’s heritage and cuisine. Seen below is the trials tasting for a dozen or so carrot varieties, which just scratches the surface!

IMG_0152

Miracles really do happen. I walked into one workshop on “Modern Seed Libraries” to find a young woman, Betsy Goodman, who seemed to exude hope and positivity, and fittingly enough, the thread through her talk was that “miracles really do happen.”  Betsy worked at the grassroots level to help found Common Soil Seed Library in Omaha in 2012, which was a miracle in itself as the funding and pieces of the puzzle came together. A seed library is just what it sounds like – a place in the community that serves as a hub for seed sharing, and in fact they are often housed within a public library. You would think that a seed library is as innocent as it gets, but many obstacles and pressures challenge this practice of sharing seeds, even though humans have been doing it for over 10,000 years! One of these are state seed laws, which came against Common Soil Seed Library early on and ordered closure of the program. The Nebraska state seed law, like most across the country, was designed to protect farmers from shoddy commercial  seed. These otherwise necessary laws become problematic in that the language is over inclusive, prohibiting the sharing or exchanging of seed between individuals, even when the act is completely noncommercial. Common Soil Seed Library refused to close, and instead Betsy ran the gamut, and once again declared “miracles really do happen,” as she was able to help introduce and pass legislation to allow noncommercial seed sharing to be exempt from the Nebraska Seed Law. Currently, only Nebraska, Minnesota and Pennsylvania state seed laws have been revised or reinterpreted in favor of seed sharing. Believe it or not, every other state in the country has language in their laws that makes seed sharing at best shady, if not illegal. The second giant facing seed libraries (and seed and food sovereignty), are the few powerful corporations that own a majority of the seed market, and are ever expanding that control. With companies like Monsanto taking ownership of seed varieties through patenting and cross contaminating open pollinated crops with neighboring GMO crops, access to seed and the right to share it is under threat. Nonetheless, seed libraries have multiplied from just a handful in 2010 to now over 400. (You can read more about seed libraries, their importance and the challenges they face here.) Later in the evening, I ran into Betsy outside of the beautiful red barn on the Seed Savers property, where a jubilant crowd was enjoying a barn dance within. We talked about her work, but quickly centered on how it truly is amazing that at times you are ignited by something that you just know is right, maybe something you know needs to change, and you somehow are certain that you just can’t fail. And it’s amazing to reflect on how one person really can effect change. What Betsy accomplished was not because of her seniority, credentials or sway – what she achieved began with inspiration and was fulfilled through determination and ingenuity. So often we don’t have confidence in our power to accomplish something large scale – we believe it would have to take some kind of miracle for “little old me” to make a difference. Well, let’s not forget, miracles really do happen!

Lessons about re-energizing yourself through great community and self care. I have been yearning to go to this conference for years, but something always stopped me. Now that I finally went, I hope to be able to return yearly. It was so energizing to be part of a gathering of people that were passionate and like-minded. I had a whole weekend to focus on learning more about a passion that is my very own, and to do it with such a fun, outgoing and sincere group of people was so life-giving to me. Whatever your passion is, I encourage you to find a way to make time for yourself to explore it and connect with others, even more so if you can do it in a context that allows you to get away from the routine of your daily life!

There was so much more I learned, but if I shared it all, it would be a book. If you are intrigued, perhaps you should join me next year! If you would like to learn more about seed saving or Seed Savers Exchange, visit www.seedsavers.org.

The Straight Story on Kombucha + Brew Your Own

DSC_0427

The popularity of kombucha has exploded in the last several years. This functional drink didn’t even enter the American market until 1995, yet by 2015 it was a $0.6 billion industry, and its growth is expected reach $1.8 billion by 2020.  Despite its status as a raging trend, what I love about kombucha is that it is nothing new – it has been around for centuries, perhaps even as early as 221 BC in China, where it was known as the “tea of immortality.” Kombucha is historically known as a healing beverage, and it continues in that tradition today.

Is Kombucha a probiotic drink? Is it some kind of panacea? Let’s get the story straight. 

Kombucha is a fermented tea made by combining tea, water and sugar with an existing SCOBY, which stands for “symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast,” plus a bit of existing kombucha tea to get the process going. During fermentation, bacteria and yeast consume sugars and nutrients and in turn create beneficial byproducts. The actual components in the final product have been the subject of a lot of debate and, as yet, limited research.

Is kombucha a probiotic drink?  The mention of bacteria causes many to assume that kombucha is a probiotic beverage, but not all bacteria qualify as “probiotic.” At the most basic level, to qualify as a probiotic, a microbe must possess qualities – and be present in a quantity – known to provide health benefits when consumed (follow the link to see other requirements). So, the question is, are probiotic strains of bacteria found in kombucha in quantities that will have a positive impact on one’s health? The most recent and reliable study of kombucha was released in 2013 by Alan J. Marsh et. al. – the researchers examined five different kombucha samples from around the world using advanced techniques not implemented in previous studies. I acquired the full length article of this study to get the clearest picture I could. The study reported the presence of several bacteria genera, the primary three being Acetobacter, Gluconacetobacter and Lactobacillus; the relative amounts varied depending on the sample Unfortunately, the researchers did not identify the specific species and subspecies of these genera, which is necessary to determine their probiotic value. The one exception was that the most common Lactobacillus strain appeared to be Lactobacillus kefianofaciens, which is known to confer a number of health benefits. In addition to the presence of the beneficial Lactobacillus bacteria found in the kombucha samples, I came across enough research on the bacteria Acetobacter to have me convinced that, in one way or another, kombucha does likely contain “probiotics” (again, the exact strain must be identified to be sure, which this study did not accomplish definitively).

This however, only answers half the question. The other half is, are these probiotics present in high enough quantities to have a positive impact? The study did not get specific about the bacteria count, but stated “it is generally thought” that after 10 days of fermentation, there are somewhere between 5,000 and 500,000 CFU (colony forming units) of bacteria per milliliter of kombucha. (The presence of Lactobacillus strains in this study accounted from 0%-30% of the bacteria found; Acetobacter from 0%-2%; and Gluconacetobacter from 58%-99.8%). This may sound like a lot, but compare it to other known probiotic-rich foods: 48 million-950 million CFU/ml in yogurt,  a reported 10 billion CFU/ml found in milk kefir and 48.2 billion CFU found in a serving of a popular probiotic supplement. Daily recommended dosages range from 10-20 billion CFU daily for an adult. I’m not a certified nutritionist (and my research has to stop somewhere!), but it appears to me that the potential quantity of probiotics in kombucha really falls short. I am well aware that in addition to quantity, probiotic diversity is also very important, but that information is outside of the scope of current research. I should note that many manufacturers add probiotics to their kombucha. Just know that if you brew at home, your kombucha is not a good source of probiotics.

So what are the known benefits of kombucha? Does kombucha cure ailments? The beneficial byproducts of kombucha fermentation include organic acids (primarily acetic acid, glucuronic acid and gluconic acid), B vitamins, vitamin C, amino acids, and enzymes. The most notable of these is the glucuronic acid, which is a powerful detoxifier. Glucoronic acid is produced by the body to flush toxins out of the system, but many factors can either over-load the liver or reduce its ability to work properly (alcohol, medications, environmental toxins, etc.), which makes the glucuronic acid in kombucha valuable.

The unique combination of acids, microbes, vitamins and enzymes in kombucha tea, plus its long anecdotal history of healing, has inspired a fair amount of research regarding its antimicrobial, antioxidant, hepatoprotective, and anticancer properties. However, as this review of kombucha research states, “most of the benefits were studied in experimental models only and there is a lack of scientific evidence based on human models.” I believe that the prudent conclusion on the matter is that kombucha aids the body as a whole, but is not neccessarily a “cure” for these diseases or conditions. This is not to devalue the potential benefit of kombucha – research aside, the hundreds and thousands of years of anecdotal evidence alone is very convincing to me. So, despite the misinformation that’s out there, kombuchua is definitely a beverage that I include in my family’s diet to benefit our health, although it may be a few more years before we find out exactly what kombucha is doing for us and how!

If the chemical makeup of kombucha is overwhelming, don’t worry – the process of brewing your own is simple. If you’ve made it this far in the post, you’ll be able to brew it no problem 😉 My first introduction to kombucha was a few years ago from a neighbor who has been brewing it since his “hippie years.” I have been using his recipe ever since with great success. Below is the basic recipe I use plus the steps to follow for fermentation and flavoring. Enjoy!

 

You Will Need:

Water – Filtered or spring water is best for the health of the SCOBY.

Tea – Not all tea works well for kombucha. I use either English Breakfast, Rooibos or Jasmine tea. Loose leaf or tea bags both work; organic is preferred.

Sugar – Processed “white” sugar should be used, as it is the easiest for the bacteria and yeast to consume. Organic is preferred.

A SCOBY – you can order these online, but even better is to get one from a friend who brews kombucha.

1 cup kombucha tea – you will likely be able to get some tea along with your SCOBY. If you can’t get existing kombucha tea, it’s ok to use a cup of vinegar instead.

4 quart or larger stock pot

Mesh tea infuser if using loose leaf tea

One gallon or larger glass container with a wide opening

Paper towels and a large rubber band to secure the paper towels over the glass container

Tightly sealing bottles, such as old wine bottles with screw-on caps, flip-top glass bottles or mason jars

1. Brew Sweet Tea

In a large pot, bring one quart (4 cups) of water to a boil on the stove. Remove from heat and, using a mesh tea infuser, add 2 tablespoons of loose leaf tea. If using tea bags, use 6 tea bags. Cover and let steep 10 minutes. Add 1 cup of sugar and stir to dissolve. Add an additional two quarts (8 cups) of cool water to the tea.

2. Combine Sweet Tea with SCOBY and Kombucha Starter

After adding the two quarts of cool water, the sweet tea should be only slightly warm. If the tea is too hot, it will kill the bacteria and yeast in the kombucha. Place your SCOBY, one cup existing kombucha or vinegar and brewed sweet tea together in your large glass container. Cover the container with a double layer of paper towels and secure with a rubber band. This will allow the kombucha to breath while keeping bugs and dust out.

DSC_0339

3. First Ferment

Allow your kombucha to sit at room temperature for at least one week, and up to a month, generally speaking. The longer the kombucha brews, the lower the sugar content and the stronger the flavor. I have come to prefer my kombucha quite strong. Start sampling your kombucha after a week to determine your preference. Conditions should be between 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit. Warmer or cooler conditions can cause problems. Also avoid placing the container in direct sunlight. Signs that your kombucha fermentation is going well include an increasing vinegar odor, visible bubbles rising to the surface, and the formation of a new SCOBY on the surface of the tea. At first it will be nearly translucent, and then it will develop into a whitish, opaque, rubbery mat (see photo below – a new SCOBY forms on the surface, the previous SCOBY has fallen below). Brown strands, goop and other slimy things floating around are normal – these are strands of yeast. Anything green or that looks like mold forming on the SCOBY is not. A rotten or funky smell also is not normal. You can drink the kombucha at this point, or continue with a second ferment.

DSC_0322

4. Second Ferment (Optional)

The second ferment is where you can get creative with flavors and build up some extra combination. Fruits, juices, herbs, spices and extracts can be added for all sorts of flavor combinations. The general rule for fruits and juices is about 10-30% fruit or juice to kombucha tea (see photo below). First place your fruit/juice/etc. into one of your tightly sealing jars, and then add kombucha from your first ferment, leaving an inch or two of headspace. Tightly seal the lid and allow to ferment for an addition 2-7 days or so. Be careful opening the containers, as depending on the conditions, a great deal of carbonation can build up. I’ve had some batches turn out completely flat, and some spray my ceiling with kombucha. The tightness of the seal and how much sugar is in the second ferment at the time you cap it are big factors in creating carbonation. (Thus, if you are not getting enough carbonation, try cutting your first ferment short and/or increasing the fruit or juice added (for a natural sugar source); you can also try increasing the duration of your second ferment.) In the first photo below,  you can see the proportions I used: the jug on the left is just frozen blueberries, and the bottle on the right is a mixture of limes and mint, for a resulting flavor reminiscent of a mojito 🙂 The second photo is after I added the tea (the smaller bottles are flavored with strawberries and fresh ginger). Once your second ferment is to your liking, refridgerate your tea to stop the fermentation process. Chilling can also have the effect of “setting” the carbonation.

DSC_0352 DSC_0393

The Ongoing Process

Whenever you remove kombucha from your main brewing container, just be sure to reserve at least 1 cup for your next batch. It is ok if there is more. The more kombucha present when you add fresh sweet tea, the faster the fermentation for your next batch will progress (for example, if you add half a gallon of sweet tea to half a gallon of fermented kombucha with the SCOBY, it will probably be ready to go in a couple days). Watch for signs of healthy activity and test flavor to determine “doneness.” Whenever disturbed, such as when you remove tea, your SCOBY will sink, and a new one will start to form on the surface. It’s ok to let these build up. Whenever they start taking up too much space, remove the older ones and leave a healthy SCOBY for future brews. Yes, the SCOBY is edible – in my opinion the texture is undesirable, but my kids will gobble it up if I let them. You can also add a slice to a smoothie for a boost. According to the Alan J. Marsh study I mentioned above, the SCOBY may contain higher concentrations or different strains of bacteria than the tea itself.

Please give this a try and share your questions and successes! And if you live in my area, feel free to ask for a starter SCOBY – I have plenty!

SPRING Rolls

DSC_0340

It’s spring! The first edibles are popping up all around us – asparagus, mint, chives, sprouts and greens of all kinds to name a few. Last week it dawned on me for the first time that the name “spring rolls” might have something to do with the first offerings of spring. Sure enough, a cursory search revealed that spring rolls most likely originated as a seasonal food in China, where spring vegetables were wrapped in a pancake and enjoyed as a welcome change from winter preserves. The revelation that my first gleanings from the garden would go great with rice wrappers and dipping sauces became pure genius when I came across a simple idea for serving spring rolls family style. The save-the-cook solution to an otherwise tedious food is this: simply place a couple pans of hot water on the table so that everyone can soak their own wrappers and assemble their rolls right on the spot! The wrappers need only be dipped enough to wet them – by the time you lay them out on your plate and fill them, they are perfectly tender without falling apart. The only prep otherwise is to assemble a platter of whatever raw veggies you have, plus some chopped peanuts, bean threads or rice noodles, a meat of choice if desired, and dipping sauces. The platter pictured above includes pea and sunflower shoots, which we grow indoors year-round; asparagus, mint, and chives, which are perennials in our garden, coming back every year on their own; and shredded carrots, which store well throughout the winter. The noodles are prepared by soaking in hot water for 10 minutes, which means the only real cooking is to prep your meat of choice. We have been using ground pork and simply season it with some soy sauce and toasted sesame oil. Chicken or shrimp would also be lovely – whatever sounds good to you!

I hope you give this idea a try! It’s amazing how spring rolls totally up the enjoyment of raw vegetables. Even if you don’t have your own garden, get out to a farmer’s market and see what’s available. This is a great idea for having guests to dinner or getting your kids a little more into eating their veggies. Enjoy!

DSC_0363 (1)

SPRING Rolls
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 15 minutes
Cook Time
10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 15 minutes
Cook Time
10 minutes
SPRING Rolls
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 15 minutes
Cook Time
10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 15 minutes
Cook Time
10 minutes
Ingredients
peanut dipping sauce
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. At any time (in advance if you'd like), do any necessary washing and chopping and arrange all your fillings on a large platter. Feel free to be creative and add whatever veggies sound good to you.
  2. Put vermicelli or bean threads in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Cover and let sit for 8-10 minutes, then drain thoroughly. (Test for doneness - bean threads take less time.)
  3. Meanwhile, fry your chosen meat in cooking oil over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and add the soy sauce and toasted sesame oil.
  4. To prepare peanut sauce, simply mix the peanut butter, sesame oil, soy sauce and brown sugar well. If mixture is too thick, add more oil. Different peanut butters behave differently.
  5. To serve, set out the platter of fillings, meat, noodles, wrappers and dipping sauces. Also put out a couple pans of hot water for people to soak their own spring roll wrappers. Soak wrappers just long enough to wet them thoroughly. Carefully remove and put wrapper on your plate and fill with desired items. By the time you have wrapped up your spring roll, the wrapper will be perfectly tender and ready to eat!
Share this Recipe
 
Powered byWP Ultimate Recipe

Plant Now: Your Early Spring Garden

DSC_0325

My favorite seven words this time of year are: “As soon as soil can be worked.” It’s a simple phrase in the planting instructions for a handful of plants that love the cold, and you can literally sow them directly into the ground as soon as the soil can be worked. That’s now!!! It may only be April, but if you’re interested in getting some early produce from your garden, now is the time to get started!

If you still need seeds, as always I recommend Seed Savers Exchange. You can order online or find them stocked at a number of retail locations. Otherwise, just look at your local nursery for heirloom, nonGMO, organic varieties.

Below is a list of plants you can start right now (yay!), including planting instructions and a couple ideas for their use. The plants with an asterisk* are ones that will typically run their life cycle by the time you’ll be ready to transplant things like tomatoes and peppers into the garden. This means that with some planning, you can capitalize on space by planting these varieties in the early spring and another variety in their place come summer. As you can see in my photo above, I store my early garden seeds in a “special” envelope (not special looking!) so each year they are ready to go!

Arugula* – Plant 1/4″ deep and 1″ apart. When plants are young, pull up some “baby arugula” and thin plants to 6″ apart. Arugula is a peppery tasting green great in salads, sandwiches and on top of pizza.

Beets – Plant 1/2 inch deep and 2″ apart. When plants are young, thin to 8″ apart. Beets have a sweet and earthy flavor. They are good raw – shredded or cubed small in salads – or cubed and roasted with some olive oil, salt and pepper. They are also a great, powerfully nutritious addition to fresh pressed juices.

Swiss Chard – Plant 1/2 inch deep and 2″ apart. When plants are young, thin to 8″ apart. Swiss chard is a green with a thick, edible stalk and large leaves, and the flavor is almost completely identical to beets. They work well in stir fries and skillet meals.

Carrots – Carrot seeds are extremely small – use a long straight stick to etch a 1/4″ deep trough in the dirt and sprinkle in the seeds, roughly 1/2″ apart, but don’t worry about being exact. Cover with soil and pat down. When plants have sprouted, thin them to 3″ apart. (Carrot sprouts initially look like tiny blades of grass – wait a few days and you’ll see the characteristic lacy carrot leaves emerge, making them more recognizable). New ideas for using carrots might include roasting them with salt and a bit of honey for glazed carrots or trying them fermented – they’re delicious and the kids love them!

Kale – Plant 1/2″ deep and thin to 2 feet apart. You can sow seeds closer if you’d like to pick the young, tender plants for salads. Kale will continue to provide a bountiful harvest probably until it’s buried in snow. If you leave it in the ground, it may even revive the following spring! A very popular green these days, kale has a variety of uses – it’s great chopped and included in skillet meals or stir fries, oiled, salted and baked into kale “chips,” included in salads or thrown into a smoothie.

Lettuce* – Lettuce seeds are extremely small and barely need to buried at all. Once again, use a long, straight stick to etch a very shallow trough – 1/8″ or less. Sprinkle the seeds in about 1″ apart and cover lightly. For loose leaf lettuce, thin to 6″ apart. If you are planting Romain or Iceberg types, thin to about 10″ apart. It’s great to have a little lettuce in the garden for the times you make a wrap or sandwich, and it’s a great medium for using your other early spring goodies, such as in a mint and pea salad.

Peas* – Plant 3/4″ deep and 2″ apart. Snow Peas are great for stir fries and Snap Peas are wonderful for fresh eating. This is one of the most “substantial,” and in my opinion delicious, early spring crops, so I always plant a ton of them!

Radishes* – Plant 1/2″ deep and 2-3″ apart. Radishes develop quickly, and you can keep planting them every 3-4 weeks for an ongoing supply. They have a spicy flavor and are great in salads or for fresh eating. And don’t miss out on the chance to have some fun carving decorative radish roses.

Spinach* – Plant 1/2″ deep and 6″ apart. You can sow the seeds closer together if you’d like to harvest “baby spinach.” Spinach is a versatile green – good in salads, smoothies, soups and other dishes.

Now get to it! Recipes will be coming soon featuring these very ingredients!

Feel free to comment below with any questions or early garden favorites of yours that I missed 🙂

5-Minute Sourdough Bread

DSC_0302

Bread is emblematic as a sustainer of life. Christ chose his words for a reason when he called himself “the Bread of Life.” Many throughout the ages have survived on bread and little else. But today, bread has gained a reputation as an empty food, or even as an enemy to our health. Why is that? You might say culture has changed, but I’d argue that more than that, our bread has changed. The bread sold at grocery stores and bakeries today – even what you make from scratch at home – is not the same bread that has been consumed for most of human history. It wasn’t more than 150 years ago that commercial yeast came onto the scene (following Louis Pasteur’s discoveries), allowing for the quick mass production of bread. This concentrated form of yeast creates a shortcut that unfortunately bypasses the age-old process that makes sourdough deeply nutritious. Sourdough’s fermentation process involves the work of not only yeast, but also of lactobacillus bacteria (the same type of beneficial bacteria you find in yogurt and other fermented foods), which break down phytates and gluten, increasing digestibility and bioavailability of nutrients in the grain. The fermentation process even lowers the glycemic index of the bread, which means less of a blood sugar spike. The difference between modern bread and sourdough is radical, and the health implications substantial. You can read more and learn how to get started in my post, Sourdough Baking, Why and How.

If you are already well motivated to switch to sourdough but overwhelmed by the task of making it yourself, I don’t blame you. If you have looked into baking instructions at all, you may have come by some of these major kill-joys: precisely measuring your ingredients by weight, kneading your dough for 20 minutes, preferably by hand, planning for multiple rounds of fermentation, and returning to “punch down” your rising dough several times throughout the day. If you’re like me, the complicated instructions will make you want to quit before you even start.

But don’t quit, please don’t. Because that’s where I’m going with this post. I want to share with you my easy way of baking sourdough. It is my aim in all the information I share to remove obstacles to growing, preparing and eating simple, good food, and I promise you,  these instructions for making sourdough bread do just that.  Low time, low effort, no measuring, no fussing – go by feel and get consistent, delicious results.

The instructions below are largely in pictures, because, as I said, there will be no exact measuring. Please feel free to leave any questions about the process in the comment section below.

You will need:

  • Active (bubbly) sourdough starter (about two cups)
  • Flour (I maintain my starter with organic whole wheat flour and typically add organic white wheat flour to make the bread – it’s about 50% whole wheat in the end)
  • Salt
  • Water (filtered water or spring water works best because it is free of chlorine, which inhibits fermentation, but tap will work!)
  • Olive oil

Method:

1- Start with a couple cups of active sourdough starter in a large bowl. Here is mine, ready for ingredients to be added right on top.

DSC_0267

2- Scoop a bunch of flour on top of your starter – however much starter you have, add about two or three times that much flour (in volume). You can freely add more or less depending on how large a loaf of bread you’d like to have. On top of your flour, throw on a teaspoon or so of salt. Also feel free to add a splash of olive oil for flavor.

Start to mix the ingredients together (I typically start with a wooden spoon). Add water and continue to mix until you achieve a sloppy, sticky consistency. I like to use my hands to work the ingredients together – a minute of this is the closest I ever come to kneading. The first time around, you will probably want to add the water a little bit at a time – but after you do this once or twice, you’ll have a feel for how much to add and will be able to do it all at once. Don’t worry, if you make it too thin just add more flour.

DSC_0268

3- You can see below that my final consistency is very wet and sticky. When I lift it out of the bowl, it does hold together, but just barely. The moment after I took the picture, the dough plopped back into the bowl.

DSC_0272

4- Gather up your dough and place it into a well oiled bread pan or stoneware bowl. Plan enough room in the vessel you choose for the dough to double in size as it rises (you can see below that the dough doesn’t fill my pan, but it will!). Cover your pan with plastic wrap or an inverted bowl or pan. I have a plastic mixing bowl that fits perfectly over my stoneware baking dish. The point is simply to prevent your dough from drying out as it rises.

DSC_0275

5- Allow the dough to ferment at room temperature for 8-12 hours. (*Temperature plays a big role here. I developed this method in the winter when my kitchen was about 68 degrees F all night. Warmer temps may mean less fermentation time is needed. You can try to slow down the ferment by adding less starter or making the mixture thicker, so that you can still leave it overnight with out it starting to fall again, which may leave you with a flatter, denser loaf*) You will not need to tend to it at all during this time, so letting it go overnight works great. Below is my dough the morning after I prepared it – you can see that it has roughly doubled in size.

DSC_0287

6- Set your oven for 350 F and pop your pan in – no need to let your oven pre-heat. Bake for 45 minutes. (You may find that a slightly shorter or longer bake time works for your pan and oven.) Here’s the result:

DSC_0290

The wet dough we used makes for an airy, downright moist crumb. The high ratio of starter we used makes for loaves that tend to be less sour because the overall fermentation time is reduced – the pleasant sourness is there, but not overwhelming. Those who don’t really care for the sourdough flavor will hardly notice it if they top it with something sweet like jam or honey. Below is the first piece, with a ragged edge because I cut it with a steak knife while it was still warm 🙂

DSC_0292

A better look at the consistency of the bread. It is an excellent sandwich bread – it will slice even thinner than shown below without falling apart. Also, because of the lactic acid produced during fermentation, sourdough stores extremely well – you won’t have to worry about it molding before you can finish it.

DSC_0303

The total hands-on time for making this bread is just minutes. It is so easy that I now make it two to three times a week – it’s a nutritious staple that I try to have on hand at all times. Knowing that sourdough isn’t “empty carbs,” “hard on the gut,” or any of the other negative associations we have with bread, I don’t hesitate at all to depend on it as a breakfast, snack or a building block for lunch or dinner. You know how deep down we all JUST WANT BREAD?! Why fight it? Sourdough is your friend. Enjoy 🙂

Dandelion Season is Coming! Here’s the Easiest Fix Ever…

DSC_0113

As the weather starts to warm, we know that the return of spring also means the return of lawn-care season, with the opening act typically being an onslaught of dandelions in your yard. Maybe you’re excited to get back into outdoor chores, or maybe you dread the inevitable “keeping up with the Joneses” syndrome that you will suffer as you try to match your lawn to the beautifully carpeted lawns of your neighbors. Well, have I got a fix for you today! I promise your dandelion problem – not to mention every other problem you have with creeping Charlie, clover and other lawn invaders – will be completely solved.

The answer is simply this: Stick a “Bee-Safe Yard” sign in your yard and let the “weeds” grow. [applause and cheers welcome]

The idea behind the bee-safe yard movement is to avoid pesticide use and strive to provide bee-friendly plants and habitats, both of which protect and sustain populations of bees and other pollinators. Not to mention the devastating effects chemical fertilizers and pesticides have on the rest of the ecology. There certainly are other environmentally friendly, bee-safe, methods of keeping a weed-free lawn – and I would not discourage you from using those methods. However, consider this – dandelions are one of the earliest available sources of nectar for bees in the spring (other common weeds, such as chickweed and clover are also early providers). By letting those dandelions have their blooming season, you are providing a food source for bees who are on the hunt for food after a long winter hibernation. Having an adequate food supply – which is difficult in urban and suburban areas because of our large “crops” of concrete and mowed grass – is what helps hives survive and thrive in the early spring.

If you’re an average consumer, chances are you use one of the extremely popular “weed ‘n’ feed” products on your lawn, or have in the past. These products combine fertilizer with pesticides for convenient application and supposedly effective lawn care. (Pesticides, by the way, are a class of chemicals that include fungicides, herbicides, insecticides, and rodenticides). Well, guess what? Those combo products don’t even work. They damage your lawn and the beneficial organisms in the soil, causing more problems and creating an ongoing need for re-application. If you’d like to read up on it, start with Canada’s 2010 legislation banning all combination “weed ‘n’ feed” products across the country. Not only are these products counterproductive in caring for your lawn, they are some of the most potent and toxic substances you can buy legally in this country! From eartheasy.com: 

Of 30 commonly used lawn pesticides, 19 are linked with cancer or carcinogenicity, 13 are linked with birth defects, 21 with reproductive effects, 26 with liver or kidney damage, 15 with neurotoxicity, and 11 with disruption of the endocrine (hormonal) system. Of those same pesticides, 17 are detected in groundwater, 23 have the ability to leach into drinking water sources, 24 are toxic to fish and other aquatic organisms vital to our ecosystem, 11 are toxic to bees, and 16 are toxic to birds.

I may be a bit of a rebel at heart, but also, isn’t there part of you that protests, who in the world decided what a “weed” is anyway! I mean, we BUY dandelion leaves at the grocery store as part of “spring mix” salads! (Yes, you can eat all sorts of weeds in your yard!) I have a reasonable suspicion that it was someone who had a financial interest in the matter. I was chatting with two neighbors the other day, and this exact thought came up. One was lamenting the carpet of creeping Charlie that covers his backyard. The other neighbor, a retired horticulturist who keeps a variety of berries, fruit trees, vegetables and honey bees to boot, responded with, “What’s wrong with that? Creeping Charlie is one of the best ground covers there is – it’s hardy, spreads fast, and is nice and thick. People just dislike it because somebody (who wanted to make money) called it a weed!” My neighbor with the creeping Charlie infestation paused, considered, and then said, “Well, it’s true – it’s absolutely beautiful when it flowers!” We chuckled at the concept, and I thought how thankful I am to live in a corner of the neighborhood where the neighbors happily balance pride in ownership with mindful practice.

So, if you needed someone to validate the weeds in your yard, I’m here to tell you – go for it! Let them grow! Be like my daughter the summer she was three – she saw the first dandelion bloom and ran to it, exclaiming, “What a beautiful flower! My new favorite color is yellow because it’s so bright!”

Winter-Meets-Spring Quinoa Salad

DSC_0209

When we talk about seasonal produce, we are generally referring to those that grow locally during a specific time of year. There is of course a caveat with winter – when the ground is frozen solid, “seasonal” still includes those fall crops that store beautifully throughout the cold months – mainly, winter squashes and root vegetables (thus the many hearty stews and comfort foods that winter is known for). As we near the close of winter, however, our palates start to bore of those roasted and crock-pot-treated root vegetables, and we crave sweetness, lightness and crunch. That’s where this salad comes in. It still relies on those trusty root vegetables, but offers a few you probably seldom use – beets, kohlrabi, rutabaga and/or turnips – and furthermore, they will be left raw for a really satisfying crunch. Here’s the “spring” in this transitional salad – tender, sweet pea shoots. The sweetness of a snap pea is embodied in these little shoots, and they will make you believe that spring is right around the corner. Although peas are a spring crop, you can actually grow your own shoots year-round on your window sill. Follow the instructions in this post, but use pea seed in place of sunflower seed. You can also find pea shoots at many grocers, especially natural food stores. Finally, kale is a readily available green in both winter and spring, as it is so cold-hardy (albeit probably grown in some manner of greenhouse if you find it locally in Minnesota or other frozen-over states). It adds some nice color, flavor and nutrition to the salad.

This dish was inspired by a trip I took this last weekend to meet two dear friends – we spent a long dinner enjoying a local food menu from HoQ Restaurant in the historic East Village of Des Moines. Nothing like a road trip to spend just a few hours with people who uplift your spirit 🙂

Winter Meets Spring Quinoa Salad
Print Recipe
This salad uses winter-available produce but will remind you of spring!
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 20 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
20 minutes 20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 20 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
20 minutes 20 minutes
Winter Meets Spring Quinoa Salad
Print Recipe
This salad uses winter-available produce but will remind you of spring!
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 20 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
20 minutes 20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 20 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
20 minutes 20 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. Cook quinoa according to package directions and cool - 20 minutes in the refrigerator should be sufficient.
  2. Combine olive oil, lemon juice, rice vinegar and salt in a small bowl. Pour over quinoa and stir to combine. Taste for flavor and add more salt or other ingredients as desired.
  3. Add grated carrots, kale and diced rutabaga, kohlrabi and/or turnip to the quinoa and combine. Add the beets last and combine very gently, as over-mixing will turn your quinoa pink! If you are preparing this recipe ahead (which is actually great because it allows the flavors to set in), don't add the beets until you are ready to serve.
  4. Spoon quinoa mixture over a bed pea shoots to serve. Enjoy!
Share this Recipe
 
Powered byWP Ultimate Recipe

Winter Sowing: A Low Maintenance Method for Starting Seeds

DSC_0030 (1)

A few years back, my dear neighbor mentioned the concept of winter sowing to me. He said I could start seeds in old plastic jugs, leave them outside in the dead of winter, and they would take care of themselves. What?? I was a bit incredulous. I mean, up until then I had allowed my entire dining room table to be overtaken by growing lights and trays of seedlings – which, for all my efforts, would often get spindly. And somewhere along the way, I would overwater my precious scores of tomato plants, and they would turn yellow and wilt. And then most of the leaves would drop. And then the remaining leaves would get kind of gray and yucky looking – zombie plants we called them. They looked the part and did indeed crawl back from near death. At which point I planted these gray-green, spindly creatures in the garden because I couldn’t waste all that effort! And these plants, although courageous, were weakened from the start, and their yields were low.  Sob. Ok, that only happened once. Well, twice I think. Regardless, I was intrigued by this method that takes no indoor space and barely requires watering! What’s  more, supposedly these plants would be robust, not spindly! That was about four years ago, and I have been completely won over by the winter-sowing method ever since. It’s like the good news of the [gardening] year to hear that you can start seeds with no equipment and very little attention given until it’s nearly time to transplant.

Also, there are no timetables to worry about – you can plant a few seeds here and there at any time throughout the winter. The seeds will sit and wait patiently – through freezing temperatures and snow storms, under layers of ice and snow. When the time is right, they will sprout, and all that came before will not phase them in the least. These little seedlings will grow into strong, stocky plants accustomed to outdoor living, ready at a moment’s notice to move to their garden home. What’s more, we can get our hands in the dirt in February, or any other winter month, when we can totally use the therapy – planting those humble seeds with a prayer and dreaming of the warmth and green that is almost, kind of, hopefully *right* around the corner. So, with well wishes to your coming year of growth, here are my no-fuss instructions for winter sowing those seeds of promise!

Materials

  1. Containers – Save any clear plastic jugs or bottles from milk, juice, soda, etc. The semi-opaque milk jugs will also work, as long as some light can filter through the plastic. Opaque milk and juice containers like the white plastic ones will not work. Rinse the bottles out with hot water and a bit of soap. You do not need to save the caps. For planning purposes, a 2-liter pop bottle holds one to two plants, and a gallon milk jug will hold 3-4 plants.
  2. Dirt – The simplest solution is to get a bag of potting soil such as Miracle Grow – it will have the needed nutrients and moisture control. I like to use organic methods as much as possible, but beware – just because a bagged soil says “organic” doesn’t mean it will work well. I’ve been majorly disappointed by very woody organic “potting soil” that did not support the growth of the seedlings at all. If you want to go organic, consider a 1:3 mix of vermiculite to an organic compost including manure. If the bag looks woody when you open it, return it to the store. “Seed starting” soil will not work well because it isn’t intended for supporting growth much beyond small seedlings.
  3. Seeds – I have had success with all types of plants – tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, herbs, squash, melons, okra, etc. Some sources say to look for seeds that do well in cool weather, but in my experience, the field is wide open. I haven’t bothered with peas and beans because they do so well with direct-seeding into the garden. I also haven’t done root vegetables like carrots, radishes and onions because they are delicate and would be difficult to transplant. But whatever you are inclined to try – I say go for it! If you are looking for a source for seeds, I am literally a giddy fan of Seed Savers Exchange – a nonprofit that propagates over 20,000 heirloom, organic varieties of seed on their Heritage Farm in Decorah, Iowa, protecting the biodiversity of our world’s food! You can order online or request a free catalog – seedsavers.org.

Method

  1. Cut your bottles and jugs around the middle, about 4-5 inches from the bottom. Leave a one-inch “hinge” so that you can open and close the jug. A good place to do this with milk jugs is at the handle.
  2. Poke four holes in the bottom of the jug for drainage.
  3. Fill the container with 3-4 inches of soil (deeper the soil will allow the plants to grow slightly larger before outgrowing their space, so if you want a little more leeway as to transplanting time, plan for deeper soil).
  4. Soak the soil, allowing the excess water to drain out the bottom.
  5. DSC_1218Place seeds on top of the soil – up to four per gallon milk jug, and two per 2-liter pop bottle (as with the soil depth, fewer seeds will leave more space and resources for the plants to grow slightly larger before needing to transplant).
  6. Cover the seeds with soil according to the planting depth indicated on the seed’s packaging. So a melon seed that is supposed to be planted 1/2 inch deep should be covered with 1/2 inch of soil. Pat down the soil to ensure good contact with the seeds.
  7. DSC_0052Close and secure the container with duct tape, and place outside in a sunny spot open to precipitation. Here in the northern hemisphere, a south-facing side of the house just out from under the eaves works great. The south side of the house will heat up with the sun and offer a slightly warmer environment than other equally sunny spots.
  8. At this point, you can completely forget about your plants until early spring. As the weather warms up, you will have fun peeking in to check for those first emerging sprouts. Once the seedlings have sprouted, check them every so often for moisture. A good sign that they have enough water is if you see condensation on the containers. If they look dry, either open the containers up to water them (and the re-close), or gently water through the openings in the top of the containers.
  9. Once the plants grow tall enough to touch the top of the container, open the containers up. At this point, you will have to pay closer attention to watering, as they will dry out more quickly. Also, without their protective dome, they will be less protected from cold nights, so if there happens to be a spring frost in the overnight forecast, carefully cover them with a sheet, towels or a blanket.
  10. Transplant your plants to the garden according to planting timetables – cool-weather crops will be ready to go earlier than their heat-loving comrades.

If you’ve toyed with starting a garden, this is a great first step! And let me just say, I am *so* excited for the upcoming growing season and to share an increasing number of garden-related information as we go. Starting this blog last fall meant that there wasn’t much opportunity to share about growing, but now we are coming up on a new year, so it is the perfect time for you to jump in. I believe growing a garden, however small it may be, connects us with our food and the land in meaningful ways – improving everything from our nutrition to our attitudes toward our food (children especially open up to new foods when they grow and pick them on their own). So stay tuned for more tutorials, ideas and seasonal recipes – it’s going to be a great year!

Don’t have a garden space yet? I recommend checking out lasagna gardening – it’s a great way to control weeds, maintain nutrient-dense soil, and get started without having to rototill your lawn!

Paleo Coconut Almond Cut-Out Cookies

DSC_1149 (1)

I just realized that we’re approaching Valentine’s Day, and that I should be a good mom and blogger by providing some fun Valentine’s treats! We made these cookies this morning, and I definitely did win the affection and praises of my 4- and 2-year-olds. “This is the best day ever!” says the older one, with her little sister echoing “Day ever!” in an attempt to talk just like her. So cute. I hope all of you are as fully pleased 🙂

A couple years ago at Christmastime I decided I just couldn’t sacrifice my children’s warm memories of cut-out cookies in the name of healthy eating, so I went searching for a “healthy” cookie – not necessarily low-cal mind you, but if it’s free of junk and low in sugar, it’s a win in my mind. I found a basic recipe, made a few adjustments, and we all enjoyed making cookie cut-outs. My children, and even my husband, were none-the-wiser. The recipe I have for you today is even better – with a coconut angle that will make you feel extra fancy. Maple syrup is my choice here because it is relatively unrefined and contains a bunch of manganese, as well as a fair amount of other minerals and antioxidants. It’s true that raw honey has a lower glycemic index, but a) why waste all those great properties of raw honey by cooking it? and b) let’s be practical – maple syrup pours and mixes more easily than my crystalized raw honey. For a quarter cup, I’ll take the convenience!

Enjoy making your cookies! (And trust me, my method below is way better than trying to roll out chilled dough, bleh.)

Paleo Coconut Almond Cut-Out Cookies
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
20 cookies 15 minutes
Cook Time
10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
20 cookies 15 minutes
Cook Time
10 minutes
Paleo Coconut Almond Cut-Out Cookies
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
20 cookies 15 minutes
Cook Time
10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
20 cookies 15 minutes
Cook Time
10 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: cookies
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl or stand mixer, mix together the almond meal, coconut, salt, and baking soda.
  2. In a small bowl, mix the coconut oil, syrup and vanilla.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well.
  4. Pour the dough onto a large silicone mat placed on a cookie sheet (wax paper will also do) and spread out a bit with a utensil. It will be a bit sticky. Cover the dough with another silicone mat (or wax paper) and press or roll to a 1/4" thickness. Leaving the mats in place, put the pan in the freezer for about 10 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 325 F.
  6. Once chilled, remove the dough from the freezer and peel off the top silicone mat or waxed paper. Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes. The cookies will probably stick to mat - just lift the mat up a bit and bend it back to release the cookies. Bake the cookies on a cookie sheet lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes.
  7. You can re-roll the leftover dough using the same method above.
Share this Recipe
 
Powered byWP Ultimate Recipe
« Older posts