Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Seaweed Spice Muffins

I just came up with this, and we love them so much I'm posting the recipe. Baking with seaweed... mmmmm....

Seaweed Spice Muffins
Emily van Lidth de Jeude

Preheat oven to 380°F (muffins) or 350°F (cake).

If you don't have any wonderful freshly-harvested seaweed, soak dried seaweed (Wakame, Arame, or Sugar Kelp) until it's fully expanded and soft.

In a blender, puree the following:
1 cup soaked seaweed
1/2 cup whole oats
1-1/2 cups milk

In a mixing bowl, mix the dry ingredients:
1-1/2 cups gluten-free flour mix (1/2 brown rice; 1/4 tapioca; 1/4 potato starch)
1/4 cup ground sesame seeds
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
2 tsp guar or xanthan gum
1 tbsp baking powder
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
1-1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp speculaas kruiden
2-1/2 cups raw (Panela) sugar
1-1/2 tbsp egg replacer (or 3 eggs, and a bit less milk, added to blender, above)
1/2 cup butter

Mix in blender mix until thoroughly combined, then add:
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup chopped, candied ginger or chopped dates

Bake in 24 muffin-tins or 2 cake-pans or pie dishes until done.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

dandelion pancakes

It's dandelion season!

Today my kids rescued a heap of dandelions from the lawnmower ("rescued" is a funny word, since they were picked, plucked, and headed for the pot, but I digress...).

A heap of dandelion flowers becomes a rather smaller heap of petals, once they're all plucked, but we sat there diligently plucking, the three of us, until we had a good 8 or 10 cups of fluffy yellow petals. And here's what we did with them: (Adjust as you see fit; I make this recipe up every time I do it!)

1. In a bowl, mix together:
  • 2 - 3 cups flour (we use my gluten-free blend*)
  • 2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt

2. now mix in (thoroughly, one at a time):
  • 8 - 10 cups fresh** dandelion petals
  • enough liquid to make a batter as thick as buttermilk (milk, rice milk, water, etc.)

3. pour grapeseed or other oil into a skillet and cook as you would regular pancakes.
These are tasty either alone or with savoury or sweet toppings. We had ours with a mixture of yogurt, brown sugar and lemon juice.

*Emily's gluten free flour blend: approx. 2 cups rice flour, 2/3 cup potato starch, 2/3 cup tapioca starch, 1tbsp guar gum (can substitute 2tsp xanthan gum).

**It's important to use FRESH PETALS. The petals have to be plucked as soon as the flowers are harvested, or the flowers will all close up and the petals will be smaller, and lose some of their flavour and a lot of their fluffiness. I suspect too that they may lose some of their nutrient as they pull back into the plant. Also, you don't want to wait to mix them into the batter, either, because they will shrivel up and turn brown, and stick to each other. Not good.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

contraband nettles - yum!

OK, well not really, but tell that to the owner of the adjacent property, who came out to the roadside to see what we were doing, and, upon hearing that we were picking the tips off the month-early nettles by the road, said very firmly "OK. Take them. But then go." I'm pretty sure that, where there is a road allowance (I checked the map; there is definitely a road allowance where we were picking), there is allowance to pick whatever we find. I asked the guy if he would like the nettles, and he looked at me like I was crazy, so I don't think this was an issue of me taking his crop. If it was, I would have relinquished them gladly. Actually, I really wish I had asked for his name, so I could bring him some nettle pesto. Because it's so good!

Here's what we made:

Nettle Pesto:
quickly steam or blanch the nettles, then put about 4-6 cups in a big blender with about 1tbsp olive oil, 1tbsp lemon juice, 1 or 2 tsp salt (to taste), about 4 or 5 peeled garlic cloves, and a small handful of cashews. Blend! Yum! I froze some, as suggested by Landon Cook, at Fat of the Land. But with the rest...

Instead of what I usually do, with chopped nettles, lots of tomatoes, feta & cottage cheese... I used the pesto. We took it to our Nature Club potluck and lots of people seemed to love it. Here you go:

Mix & match the following to your heart's content:
  • 3 layers cooked rice-pasta lasagna noodles
  • 2 layers ricotta cheese
  • 2 layers grated parmesan cheese & raw sesame seeds (just sprinkled in the middle and on top)
  • 1 layer chopped zuchini and tomatoes (to add more bulk and tanginess)
  • 2 layers chopped steamed nettles
  • 3 layers nettle pesto - one on top, under the parmesan/sesame seeds!
Bake at 375F for about 40 minutes.

    Also on the side of the road we got some lovely chickweed & miner's lettuce, which will be lunch, tomorrow.

    Friday, February 19, 2010


    Ginger just spent a couple of gluten free months in India, and brought us home an idli tree! I had never even heard of idli, before, but we've tried it out three times, already, and we love it! Well... Tali only likes them sweet, but we hope he'll adapt.

    We've made idli with whole lentils (not peeled and halved, as the recipes say) and whole rice. First I soaked them for 12 hours, then I blended them up with fresh water. Then I let them ferment for another 12 or so hours... and TA DA! whole-grain idli! Add a little salt, make some sambhar and masala chai, and presto we have a delicious meal. I must say, the whole grain idli are definitely tinged a greenish-grey, unlike the pure white perfect pillows that are traditional idli, but we don't care. They're flavourful and healthy. The meal was so good that Markus asked what the occasion was!

    Here it is, cooking:

    Then, after a couple times making this wholegrain idli, we tried some with the same base, but with cinnamon and sugar mixed in. I served them for dessert one day with some homemade sweet lemon sauce (boil milk with lemon juice, salt, and honey, until it becomes thick and creamy, then strain it through a tea-towel, like making hangop). The dessert was wonderful, though the idli were a little gooey -- I guess that's what comes of experimenting!

    Monday, February 1, 2010

    light times

    Spring is here, but you wouldn't know it from this blog... yes, the crocuses are blooming, the trees are full of buds, spring is even earlier than usual... and the wild food family is quiet. It's not as if there is no wild food available right now... I'm just not finding the time to report on it (or even gather much of it).

    So no, this blog is not defunct -- just not a priority right now, since I'm concentrating on the preparation for my upcoming art show (http://mama-art.blogspot.com).

    Food plans for this year:
    • one extra bed in the garden -- a lettuce bed, behind the beans, so that the lettuce gets lots of shade in the summer.
    • planting some new hazel trees outside the studio... and possibly eat some squirrels when they come to steal the nuts.
    • cleaning out the duck pond and dismantling the duck enclosure, and making it into a serene little water garden. The ducks were killed by a mink last November so we're giving up on raising poultry.
    That last one sounds like a step in the wrong direction, but really it's just opening time and space for some of the other projects.

    Happy spring!!

    Tuesday, December 1, 2009

    Acorn Pancakes

    Acorns are a great wild (or cultivated) food! Oaks aren't common on Bowen, but they do grow in abundance elsewhere in BC, and we have a few, here. What the squirrels don't pillage is ours for the taking. Since acorns aren't a very popular wild food, there is often an abundance just lying on the ground waiting to be gathered, even in the city.

    Acorns have been consumed in many countries for millenia. They have a surprising scent that is at once perfumey-sweet and nutty. Acorn coffee was a popular war-time drink in some European countries, and acorn pulp has been used for baking all over the oak-growing world, including in pre-contact North America. It is similar to using almond meal or flour, and has many beneficial nutrients, including proteins, carbohydrates and fats, as well as vitamin B6, copper and manganese. (http://www.nutritiondata.com/facts/nut-and-seed-products/3083/1)

    Harvesting, Peeling and Leaching Acorns:
    When they fall off the tree, they're ripe.

    Gather as many as you can carry, but check for worm holes and rot, as you do.

    Once home, soak them for a day or two to soften the shells; then peel them. We find the easiest way to do this is to slice the stem-end with a sharp knife, pry the acorn in half, and then pick out the meat with a dull knife.

    Once they're all shelled, they need to be leached of their tannins. This can be done either with hot or cold water. In any scenario, the aim is to soak the tannins out of the acorns, replacing the water every time it darkens with the tannins. The boiling method takes about 6-12 hours, depending on the size, species, and amount of acorns. Cold-water leaching can take weeks.

    I didn't want to boil the nutritional benefits out of the acorns, nor did we want to spend weeks leaching, so we chose a moderate "warm" method. Every day I changed the water once or twice, each time replacing it with warm water. It took 13 days before the water was no longer darkening, and we moved on to the next step:

    Grinding the Acorns:
    Various traditional methods exist for doing this, many with a mortar-and-pestle-like arrangement, and most with long hours of manual labour. I think if the acorns were boiled they would be easier to grind, but since we didn't do that, we invented the blender-method! Simply drop the acorns into a blender with enough water to make a pulp and facilitate blending, and go! It worked beautifully.

    Savoury Acorn Pancakes:
    Once you have a nice, smooth acorn pulp, the pancakes are easy. Since we're not using eggs, and I wanted them to stick together, I added some tapioca flour. However, if you can eat eggs, I suspect they might be a lovely addition to this recipe.

    • 2 cups acorn pulp
    • 1/4 cup tapioca flour
    • 1/4 cup brown rice flour
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1 tbsp baking powder
    • milk -- enough to thin to pancake consistency
    Mix all ingredients thoroughly until your batter is the way you like it. Cook on a hot, oiled skillet as you would a regular pancake. The first side will be done when the top appears dry. Flip to cook the second side, and then remove to a plate in the oven. Because these have no eggs, they tend to break while flipping, so it's advisable to keep the size down to something your spatula can handle!

    We enjoyed these pancakes for breakfast with homemade quince jam, and then for dinner as a side with a spicy Indian curry.


    Following the doctor's suggestion, we've reduced our diet to almost entirely whole grains (we still eat whole-grain pasta once or twice a week, and have the odd cookie, cake or muffin), and we're slowly beginning to introduce previously forbidden grains.

    First up: oats.

    We had whole oats with our whole-rice porridge a few times, and, seeing that nothing untoward happened, we tried rolled oats. No problems! We've now been having oat porridge or muesli a few times/week. The kids are happy, and I am looking forward to oatmeal cookies, again!

    If this progress continues as positively as it has begun, I hope to eventually be able to walk into a store and simply buy a loaf of Squirrely Bread! Oh. But maybe it contains eggs. Well anyway... you get the idea.