Banana Bread and Seed WINNER!

Dear Friends,

It’s late, late, late Tuesday night and I’ve just finished baking another loaf of banana bread and a double batch of Granola. We have an impromptu trip coming up so I’m trying to prepare – Montana isn’t the most plant-based friendly location I’ve been. I”m lucky that with a full kitchen at our disposal on our trip, we’re planning on cooking a lot. It will serve as a great reminder that meal planning is a good idea and makes life much easier, even if we eat pasta twice in a week.

It’s been a busy week full of surprises – both good and bad, a visit from my dear mother (7 half-pints of pesto in the freezer!), and preparation for changes ahead (but isn’t that all of life?). When things get crazy around here, I head to the kitchen. It must be my coping mechanism, the way I deal with life, so it’s a wonder I don’t weigh 800 pounds.

I, like most silly people, often turn my tired bananas into banana bread. We do this so we don’t waste the 42 cents worth of bananas and fail to consider the added cost of all the other ingredients and calories that will be inflicted upon us. This may be the most expensive banana bread I’ve ever made, but it’s super yummy, plant-based, whole grain and more expensive (which makes it better if we’re getting points for being pretentious) than your average banana bread.

Plant-based Banana Bread

2 T. flax meal

4 ½ T water

1 c. sugar – I used Sucanat, but any will work

½ c. unrefined coconut oil (I like the flavor in this)

3 bananas

1 ½ c. fine kamut flour (whole wheat pastry flour would also work)

½ t. salt

¾ t. baking soda

1 T. apple cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil and flour 8×4 bread pan (you could use any other option, just change the baking time).

Combine flax meal and water in a small bowl (your flax “eggs”).  Cream together the coconut oil and sugar, or at least combine well. Add bananas and mix until creamier. Add your flax eggs and combine. In a separate bowl whisk together flour, salt and soda. Add to the banana mixture, stirring just until almost combined. Stir in vinegar until barely combined – it will start streaking white. Quickly pour into your bread pan and bake 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Turn out onto cooling rack after 5 minutes in pan. And if you’re like me, you’ll eat it with good, old-fashioned butter, just to negate the vegan-ness of it.

And for the winner of last week’s seed giveaway (using random.org):

SARAH who shared this memory:

The oldest memory I have is picking strawberries with my Mom in the hills. She gave me my love of making jam to say the least……

Sarah – email me at goodcleanfoodblog@gmail.com so I can get your mailing address and send it to rareseeds.com.

I can’t tell you how many memories had berries in them. Reading them was great fun as I was reminded of other memories of mine. Thank you all for sharing.

Planting time!!! (with a fabulous ending – keep reading)

It’s time to get dirty and PLANT something!

Yes, as in, planting food for you to eat. I am relatively new (I’ve tried the last two years and failed) to the idea of a 3- or 4-season garden, but I’m totally infatuated with it. I can’t get the idea out of my head. And even though I’m prepping Turbo for kindergarten (yikes!), our summer garden is ready for harvest and processing (lots of pickled beets and ketchup go through my house), and I’m tired (dog days of summer, three-month-old, and all that), I still obsess over the idea of putting more food in the ground.

What are the obvious things to plant? Well, plenty of “spring” vegetables grow great in the fall. We have already put in Fall carrots and beets, and are getting ready to plant our Fall spinach and lettuce and my favorite stir-fry mix and radishes and “spring” onions and anything else I think of. You could put in peas, turnips, brassicas (kale, broccoli, cabbage) though they all take a bit longer and require a bit more planning.

But you know what else you can do for next year? Garlic! Put in garlic in October, and come June of next year you have beautiful crop of garlic with almost no effort. Onions? Put in the seeds a month or two before your first frost and you can have early onions without dealing with sets or starts! Spinach? Even spinach can go in a few weeks before frost to get you ready for an early spring harvest.

And the secret? Lots of these things grow better in the fall, especially if you live in a place like we do. The days get cooler with the growth of the plant, so you don’t worry about it going to seed (bolting) as quickly. The bugs seems to be less noxious this time of year also, and rain more frequent, which in our high desert garden, is a blessing! And finally, many of these foods can survive a decent frost and still be harvestable, so you could be eating from your garden until Thanksgiving!

But, I’m kind of a gardening geek (horticulture was my first college degree). Nothing is better than cursing that lower back sunburn I got from weeding with a shirt that was slightly too short and having a million too many beans to eat. I would love, love, love some Eliot Coleman (the unofficial king of 4-season gardening) books (I keep raiding the library, but there is always a wait).  I think seed ordering is exciting and it makes me goofy in the spring- and yes, I almost always order my seeds from the same place (keep reading, it’s worth it).

This same place is RareSeeds.com. If you get their glossy catalog in the spring (Baker Creek Seeds), it’s beautiful and CHOCK full of a bajillion kinds of seeds for everything. And they’re all heirloom varieties, which means Monsanto (theoretically) isn’t getting a lick of money from you, and you can save your seeds if you know how to do it and care to. But why would you when seeds are super cheap? That’s why I love seeds. For the cost of a bunch of broccoli, I can experiment with something, and if I like it, I might get a TON of food from that many seeds.

So, here’s what you’ve been waiting for. I have arranged with rareseeds.com to GIVE AWAY A 10-pack of FALL SEEDS, which can also be planted in the Spring (keep them in a zipper storage bag in the fridge until then) if you don’t get to them now!  And I’ll be honest, I’ve been so happy with these seeds, that I wish I could win! But I can’t, sorry, only you can.

And secondly, here’s another bit of exciting news. They have a restaurant from which they have compiled a cookbook, The Baker Creek Vegan Cookbook, coming out in September.  I’m super excited that I’ll be reviewing it and giving one away as it come closer to release. You could be that lucky winner, but if you don’t want to hedge your bets, you can pre-order the book now AND they’ll include three packets of culinary herb seeds fer free! yeah, i just typed fer, but I’m in farmer mode so it’s legit.

Rules of Engagement:

1- You must be a follower of this blog, if you don’t know how to do that, there is a “Follow blog via email” button at the top column to the right. This contest is open to followers living in the U.S. only (I’m pretty sure there are rules about shipping seeds across borders – nothing personal).

2- You must like this post (click on the title name of this post, then go to the bottom of the post just above comments and push the like button), 

3- You must tell me in the comments below one your favorite memories of eating fresh grown food – you know you remember that first raspberry from grandma’s prickly berry patch – totally worth it!

Winner will be announced Wednesday 8/15/2012 (only five days so we can get seeds out!) and needs to contact me within 24 hours so we can get stuff mailed.

A Week in the Raw

It’s Tasty Wednesday Tuesday and many of you all ready know that I live in Utah, what you may not know is that my particular city should be named “Kidville”. There are literally over a thousand children in my subdivision. It’s fabulous and all the kids are always out and about riding bikes, playing at the parks and sharing lots and lots of germsWe get sick more often since moving into this neighborhood than we ever have before. Vomiting, colds, flus, pink eye, rsv, Montezuma’s revenge, you name it, we get it. There are a few nasty bugs going around at the moment and we caught them too :/ so in an attempt to strengthen my immune system and help me heal faster, I have been eating entirely raw for the last few days. I’m planning on eating raw for the rest of the week. I have to say that I don’t think I would be surviving otherwise. Raw foods provide far more nutrients than cooked and give the body more energy. I wish I was cool enough to eat raw all the time, but I’m not, and frankly, I like cooked food, a lot. However, I think eating “high-raw” is sustainable and really good for our bodies.

It’s not really that hard and you don’t need a half-naked Juliano cookbook to do it either (I used to own that book, some of the photos are….well, Juliano nearly in the buff, shopping, playing in the ocean, but not cooking, because that would just be gross).

I’m juicing, eating lots of fruits on their own, making big ol’ salads with raw dressings I whiz up in my blendtec. I’m more than a little obsessed with chia seeds too at the moment, maybe it’s because I recommended Born to Run to a friend, then  I had to start re-reading it again myself because it’s awesome.

Here are a couple of raw chia recipes I’m LOVING right now:

Raw Overnight Neopolitan Oats

Holy Crap, it’s like the best dessert ever for breakfast, this is adapted from this much cuter than mine recipe here, but my adaptation is fully raw.

1 C. oat groats (use certified gluten free for gluten free option)

4 T. chia seeds

2 1/2 C. raw almond or raw cashew milk (I used cashew milk, drool)

2 T. raw cacao powder

2 t. raw agave (or to taste)

1 t. vanilla extract (oops, not raw)

2 sliced frozen bananas

4 sliced frozen strawberries

Method: BEFORE YOU GO TO BED: Blend oat groats in blender or grind in coffee grinder until fine. Get out two pint-sized mason jars. Put half  of the ground oat groats in each jar. Add 2 T. chia seeds to each jar, 1 1/4 C. nut milk to each jar and 1 t. raw agave to each jar. Add the raw cacao powder to one of the jars and the vanilla extract to the other. Now you have chocolate and vanilla. Put lids on and shake until well combined. Put in fridge. IN THE MORNING: get out your food processor and put your frozen bananas in it with a splash of nut milk. Process until creamy. Mmms. Remove half of the mixture and set aside. Add frozen strawberries to the food processor and process the same way. Now you have raw strawberry and banana ice creams FOR BREAKFAST. Layer and alternate ice creams, and chocolate and vanilla overnight oats in mason jars or fancy cups. Serve with fresh fruit. I didn’t because I hadn’t been to the store because we were sick and I only had frozen fruit. This should serve 2, but I stretched it to serve 3. I was sorry I didn’t have any leftovers at lunch time.

Raw Chocolate Chia Pudding

1 C. raw cashew milk (you could also use raw almond milk)

3 T. chia seeds

1 T. raw cacao powder

2 t. raw agave

Method: Combine all ingredients with a wire whisk until cacao is fully incorporated. Let sit on the counter top for an hour or so. I thought this would serve two, I also thought I would take a photo before eating it all. Wrong on both accounts.

I have also been growing my own wheat kamut grass, it’s not all that difficult, but since I’m a total novice and nearly killed it because I hadn’t watered it enough, I shall refer you to this post if you so desire to grow your own.  I’m  absolutely in love with it! The juice of the grass gives me instant energy and clarity and I even like it’s grassy taste. You can almost feel the cells inside your body healing when you drink it. Try it, you might like it.

Seeds. Yes, it’s time.

As my sister has been posting about her gardening adventures, I ache inside to see anything green that isn’t evergreen. I miss that fresh smell of new growth and the sun actually being warm. But the idea of actually planting anything yet is still a bit frightening. Just because it’s sunny, doesn’t mean it’s warm. We still have the whole of this month to get through.

That said, if you are planning on growing a garden this year and ordering seeds to do so, now is the time to order seeds. The benefits of ordering now are that you can spend hours perusing seed catalogs (which almost makes you believe it will again be spring), you have a better variety to choose from than if you wait to order (believe it or not, they do sell out of the cool seeds – if there is such a thing – and we have already missed out on a few), and the seeds are better stored than the ones you buy at the store. Seeds ordered direct have been kept under controlled conditions, and not in the sun of the Home Depot during hot days and cold nights for weeks on end.

Seeds are wonderful little things, containing the whole potential to be a plant. But they need to be taken care of, and if they are, they can last you a long time, up to five (or more) years if stored properly. That means, keep them dry and cool, but not cold. I store mine in my fridge in zipper bags, and keep them there. When planting, I put them back as soon as possible after removing what I will actually plant. No, I am not a “rip off the edge of the seed packet and drag it down a long row shaking it, with the hopes it will be about even” kind of girl. Because, when seeds are cared for, you have an excellent germination rate, and you only need to plant one for every plant you want.
02-02_6807-1024x768
I am also the type to start seeds at home, but we’ll talk more about that later. For most people, it’s still too early, although when my seeds arrive, you better believe I’ll be starting my cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts and lettuces. Somethings have to be started outside – like peas and root vegetables, but not everything.

I ordered most of my seeds from www.rareseeds.com. I liked them because they are all heirloom types, and because their shipping is a flat $3 rate. I also got together with Erika – another contributor to this site – and we are splitting about half of the seeds we’re ordering. That makes it cheaper and more fun, because you can order more varieties.

I ordered my seed potatoes from Johnny’s Seeds. Unfortunately they are not organic, but since I won’t actually be eating those potatoes, but planting and growing them organically, that seems okay by me. And I found a code for free shipping for orders over $30. Type 09-1014 into the special offer code box (not the coupon code box) for free shipping.

Good luck, and don’t get lost too much in the catalogs. Here are the sites I recommend, and get them all to send you their catalogs, because the more reference you can get (i.e. more pictures), the better. And if you have more good ones, let us know and we’ll add them.

Rareseeds.com
Johnnyseeds.com
Seedsofchange.com
Bountifulgardens.ORG
Seedsavers.ORG