The Baba Ganoush Salad

A romaine and tomato salad with babaganoush on top.
A romaine and tomato salad with babaganoush on top.

The first bowl of babaganoush salad had the dressing mixed through.

The second bowl of babaganoush salad is not mixed up yet.
The second bowl of babaganoush salad with the dressing on the top and not mixed.

To make the babaganoush I roasted eggplant and a bell pepper, which I pureed with a fresh tomato, several cloves of garlic, salt, sesame seeds, lemon juice, and sesame seeds. This time I made a smooth babaganoush to use as a vegan salad dressing.

Acorns From The San Bernardino Mountains And The Acorn Meal Experiment

For years I have wanted to grind up acorns to make meal the way the Serrano Indian women did for centuries. I used to go on daily walks to Indian Rock Camp up in the San Bernardino Mountains, and I always felt in awe when I touched the indentations created in the rocks from grinding acorns. Watch the video below to see a few photos of the large rocks where the Native American women ground acorns for centuries. This place has always felt very spiritual to me, and years ago I would go out there and just sit and think.

So I had this romanticized notion of making acorn meal, but that went out the window pretty fast. Perhaps using a rock is a more effective way to crack the shells, but I had to make do with a nut cracker.

I crushed the acorns up with a nut cracker.
I crushed the acorns up with a nut cracker.

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This is very repetitious work, and after a few hours my mind began to wander. I have a lot of respect for women who ground acorns for food and survival, but this can get a bit tedious after a while.

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Several hours worth of hulling acorns produced about one cup of acorn meat.

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As the first batch of acorns were soaking in water to remove the tannins, which taste bitter, I began hulling a second group of acorns waiting in the wings.

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To keep myself stimulated, I decided to create pretty arrangements with the acorns surrounding the bowl I used for hulling. I allowed the second patch to soak in water, and then I began rinsing out the first patch.

What I have learned since my failed acorn experiment it is better to first boil the acorns, and then roast the acorn meal. I wish I had known about this because even after several soakings the acorn meal was bitter when I baked it in a cake. I had to throw the entire cake away, so I did not take a picture of that.

Yes, I did rinse the acorns several times before grinding these into meal, and I would do this part again next time. However, next time I will do this before boiling the acorns in a large pot of water for an hour, and then draining these to roast the acorn meat in an oven for another hour. Then I would grind up the acorns into meal, and hopefully next time around I will not turn out with a disappointingly bitter acorn cake.

However, this was a fun experiment, and I learned tannin is a wonderful natural dye. I spent a bit of time scrubbing out the sink because the acorns stained it. Acorns would probably be ideal for creating natural dyes for art and craft projects, but it is a messy and tedious process dealing with these. Also, the natural oils in the acorns make your hands feel slimy, and there is a surprise every once and awhile of a worm popping out.

The educational aspect of processing these acorns taught me that if I had to I could learn how to prepare acorn meal to make it less bitter, and to appreciate more than ever the luxury of supermarkets. It is a convenience to purchase whatever type of food we want, it truly is.

In years past people spent their entire lives in survival mode, and today we spend little time having to think about how we prepare food, or where it comes from. This sort of makes the entire I have no time to cook memes look a bit silly, especially since we all do have time to cook, and more so than hunting and gathering groups that spent their entire existence looking for food and procuring shelter.

I actually appreciate living in the present moment, but I think it would be interesting to go back in time and see how the Serrano people lived gathering their acorns and grinding these. Perhaps the Serranos had more fulfilling social interactions because people actually talked when they were working ,and not ignoring others to tap away on their phones. I love technology as well, but sometimes it is disconcerting to realize you were talking, and a person completely ignored you because they were looking at their phone.

Each era in history has its pluses and minuses, but perhaps having more respect for the land and how people acquired food when there was no supermarket around does have its perks. Next time you complain about how cooking a simple dinner takes too much time, maybe it is not that it takes too much time, but we have the luxury of time these days. People can decide whether they want to spend their time cooking or watching a movie, and we all do have time to do the things we want to do. There is time to cook, it is just some people prefer the convenience of fast food. I know once and awhile fast food is a necessity, but there is truly something to be said gathering the ingredients to make a meal from start to finish.

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Making Lentils And Rice

Lentils and rice with spinach.
Lentils and rice with spinach.

Lentils and rice is a tasty vegan dish I love to make. I decided to add spinach this time to use up a bit I had in my refrigerator, and it came out quite tasty.

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Yes, a lentils and rice slide show makes me feel happy. I like to take pictures of food, and look at these. No apologies here. So to make the lentils and rice I first sauteed some scallions and chopped red onions in a teaspoon of olive oil. Next, I added the lentils, rice, a tablespoon of lemon juice, chili peppers, and the spinach. I cooked a giant pan that was quite tasty, and ate many large bowls full of lentils and rice.

The Organic Zucchini The Size Of A Baby

This homegrown organic zucchini from my mom’s garden is the size of a baby. This massive zucchini is the offspring of seeds from my mom’s garden from a previous year. If you have a larger backyard it is possible to grow some of your own produce. I think gardening is more about inclination than anything else. I can see why some people prefer buying organic produce, but you can save money if you want to grow you own. For instance, my parents’ apple and pear trees produce many bushels of fruit, whereas it can cost four or five dollars to purchase a couple of pieces of fruit at the grocery store.

This organic zucchini is the size of a baby.
This organic zucchini is the size of a baby.
The zucchini is longer than twelve inches.
The zucchini is longer than twelve inches.
The zucchini is over a foot long.
The zucchini is over a foot long.

S Is For Smoothie

Strawberries Sliced On A Green Smoothie
Today the letter S is for smoothie. This particular smoothie was created by opening a fresh coconut and pureeing the meat and water to make coconut milk. Next, I added bananas, spinach, peaches, and a teaspoon of tahini. Once I pureed all the ingredients to a smooth consistency, I diced a few strawberries and placed these on the top of the smoothie. It looked quite stunning sitting next to the opened coconut. Some people think green smoothies do not look appetizing, but I have always felt the opposite. The strawberries sliced on the top of the smoothie added a pleasing contrast to the verdant shade of this concoction.

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C Is For Canning

Today we are talking about the letter C, so I decided share how I enjoy my mom canning organic apples from her trees. I decided to take a photograph of a jar of apples she canned for me recently. Mason canning jars are also fun to use in crafting projects after they are retired from their main job.

 

A jar of home grown organic canned apples my mom made for me.
A jar of home grown organic canned apples my mom made for me.

So even though organic apples are fresh are delightful, I enjoy having a few jars of home organic grown apples on hand for when I make one of my favorite things, which is this:

During the fall and winter months I am constantly making apple pies, and I also make a few pumpkin pies. I think I will always have a special place in my palate for the cinnamon spiked apple pies that I bake with my mom’s organic apples. Having a few jars of organic apples means I can make pies for several months after the harvest. Do you enjoy making apple pie?