Ah, the joys of autumn...the vibrant colors of the trees tantalizing the eyes, the crisp air refreshing our bodies, and of course the fun and joy of the approaching holidays.
This is the time of the year that we enjoy the amazing pumpkin which gives us the gastronomic satisfaction of yummy pumpkin pie and the creative satisfaction of making a scary jack-o-lantern. The other wonderful thing about the pumpkin is its often overlooked seeds. Pumpkin seeds contain enormous amounts of valuable nutrients and are darn tasty too.
A tradition of mine every Halloween is to pick out the perfect pumpkin, open it up and pull out all the seeds to toast, and then carve it. The seeds are easy to get to and fun to pull out as they are surrounded by the squishy pumpkin strings inside that are just plain fun to handle. It makes you feel like a kid again!
Once you separate the seeds from the pumpkin strings, rinse them off and let them dry on paper towels. You can then put them on a lightly oiled baking sheet and sprinkle with spices such as salt or paprika, or cinnamon and sugar, or what ever flavors you want them to have, and then toast them in the oven. Yummy!
So aside from how yummy they are you ask, "what are their nutritional benefits?" Well, according to research pumpkin seeds have high concentrations of zinc. Zinc is important in the treatment and prevention of male prostrate problems, enhancing wound healing, and helps support the immune system.
Pumpkin seeds are a good source of protein, iron, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin E, essential fatty acids, and niacin. These little guys are a powerhouse of nutrition and are easy to incorporate in your diet.
So get a pumpkin, have fun creating a work of art, and don't forget the seeds. Toast them and enjoy!
I hear so many people say "I am not a chef" and I tell them "You can be."
We all cook every day for ourselves, our families, and our friends so every single one of us has the ability to be an amazing chef. All it takes is a little training and a lot of playing....Oh and passion is important too.
I am not one of those chefs who went to culinary school, or had a parent/grandparent who taught me how to cook, or who grew up in a kitchen. I just liked food and I liked to create, so I began playing.
An old college boyfriend who is now a good friend still makes fun of me because of a chocolate peanut butter cake that I baked for him in college which was lopsized. I kept trying to tell him it was because of my tiny oven, but he didn't believe me. I didn't let that get me down. I kept playing.
And because of my passion for food and the nourishing art of it, I kept finding work in the field. I got a job as a bread baker and never once baked a loaf of bread, helped open a vegetarian cafe in a foreign country when my main background was only in baking, became a pastry chef at a fancy pants restaurant when I was only a casual baker, and recently created a successful line of To-Go foods for a company with 9 locations thus somehow making me an Executive Chef.
I am still amazed that I am a professional in the culinary world simply because I love food and I love creating. I don't make perfect cuts in my veggie prepping, my knife skills aren't that of Julia Child, there are some foods I still don't know how to cook, and I tend to make a total mess in the kitchen, but again that doesn't stop me.
I love food and everything about it. It nourishes my body, my mind, and my soul. It connects me to nature, to my community, and to the world. It nourishes, it heals, and it allows me to express love and gratitude. And that is how I am a Chef.
So if you want to bring out your inner chef (because you definitely have one), but you just need some training, then join me in cooking classes in 2018. Together we will learn this playful, fun and nourishing art of cooking. And combined with skills, play, and learning to tap into your intuition, I will guide you into finding your passion in the kitchen and harnessing that amazing Chef within.
Currently I have a few classes on the schedule at the Frinklepod Farm Cooking School in Arundel, Maine. Sign up for my newsletter or follow me on Instagram or Facebook to stay tuned for upcoming classes. Classes will also be posted on my website too. If you have any questions or are interested in a private class please contact me!
Now LETS COOK!
In a recent cooking class I used the dried powder of a root called Maca to enhance the malty caramel notes in a raw truffle. Ok well I also used it to boost the libido of those who ate the truffles too, tee hee.
When I told my students this their eyes lit up and they all acted like giddy teenagers. Of course they all wanted to know more about this interesting plant that only grows naturally in the mountains of Peru.
Maca is a vegetable that has been used as a food and medicine by Peruvians for thousands of years, over a 100 years in Chinese medicine, and is now rising in use in the global market...and for good reasons. It is thought to be an adaptogen herb that boosts libido and fertility, reduces the stress response, balances hormones, aids in anemic conditions, and is an all around tonic.
The root of the maca plant is the part primarily used and is dried into a powder. This powder is creamy yellow in color and has a malty flavor to it. The way Westerners use it is to add it to smoothies, shakes, raw desserts, porridge, and baked goods. The Peruvians generally would boiled it, ferment it, and make a porridge.
Whether the Western way of just adding the dried root powder works as effectively as the boiled and fermented version is something for you to simply experiment with and see. I have personally experienced and heard from clients that the dried root powder has worked great. All happy clients for sure!
If you are interested in learning more about this plant here are some good reputable sources. This article from the University of Michigan is short and sweet. But if you want solid info and research data, check out this article from the National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health.
If you are already sold and want to explore this amazing plant's tonic and balancing properties, then go to your local health food store and purchase a quality brand of maca root powder. Again you can add it to your favorite smoothie recipes, hot oatmeal or quinoa porridge, raw truffles, or protein shake. Or check out The Maca Team website for a database of recipes and ideas.
And comment below if this herb brings you any magic ;)
Love and vitality to you....
As I reached the summit of a mountain in New Hampshire this summer I found a batch of berries. I sat next to them, pulled out my journal, and started writing....
It is a beautiful and perfect summer day. The blazing sun shines down upon my body warming me like a mother tightly holding her child. A gentle breeze passes by tousling my hair and whispering into my ears a lovely song. In front of my eyes is a gnarly patch of berries seducing me with their wild yet grounded demeanor. I give in and fall under their spell. The plump and juicy berries stain my fingers as I zealously pluck them from the comforts of their home. Their tart taste dances upon my lips making me feel alive. My senses are overwhelmed and my soul is filled with joy. Ahhh, the simple pleasures of life.
This moment reminded me that...
Food is life. Food is nurturing. Food is peace. Food is joy. Food is love. Food is forgiving. Food is excitement. Food is family. Food is art. Food is fuel. Food is comfort. Food is enjoyment. Food is soul.
What is food to you? And how often do you take time to remember how glorious and blessed you are to be able to appreciate the beauty and bounty of food?
I hope every single day.
Love food. Love life. Love YOU.
The gratification one gets from creating a fresh, warm, comforting loaf of bread from scratch is one of indescribable measure.
Amazingly hard working yeasts, fluffy flour, sweet maple syrup, soothing oats, and a little salt of the earth are the basic ingredients in one of the culinary delights of man. Combine these with the raw element of hand mixing, kneading, and rolling the dough, and one feels like a true creator.
Slicing into the bread yields a gentle puff of steam and a whiff of that insanely delicious fresh bread smell. One taste makes your mind stop for a moment to enjoy this simple pleasure of life. Ahhh, and this is the end result of your love, patience, and hard work.
To try your hand at bread baking simply follow the recipe written on the back of a King Arthur bread flour bag, or you can check out their website at http://www.kingarthurflour.com/. They are a great resource for all things baking.
Bread is easy to make. It just takes a little love and patience.
Baking bread from scratch, and I mean no bread makers or Kitchen Aids, is something that everyone should try at least once. The main issues are to make sure your yeast is alive and fresh, that the water you use to dissolve the yeast in is the proper temperature, and that you have patience.
After you mix the ingredients you have to knead the dough by hand for about 10 minutes, or until it becomes as smooth as a baby's bum. Then you let it rest and rise. Next you may have to punch it down and knead it again or simply shape it into a loaf and put it in your bread pan.
Then you let it rest and rise. Once it has risen about two inches over your loaf pan it is ready to bake.
Don't be scared of the dough. Just follow the directions, experiment, release some stress, and most of all have fun!
This blog is an exploration of life, love, adventure and art primarily through the medium of food.