Turmeric is one of my favorite spices.

It is an earthy spice that is amazing sizzled in a pan with fresh garlic, ginger and just about anything you want to add from there. It has long been considered medicinal in India and has received a lot of attention from studies on possible prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease. The fresh root is also delicious and can be grated and added to earthy beet salads, or in a tea boiled with ginger, rooibos, and some pepper with a touch of lemon juice added at the end (see Angela Liddon’s The Oh She Glows Cookbook for that one).

Turmeric

Turmeric is awesome.

I initially tried out a strong turmeric brew because I had the beginnings of a sore throat that I wanted to nip in the bud.
I put 1 tsp turmeric boiled up in water with ginger, a couple of grinds of pepper, and added honey and lemon to it after taking it off the stove. I drank it throughout the evening and by the next day the sore throat wasn’t there any more.
In my quick online searches for turmeric and sore throats I found some really delicious sounding recipes for turmeric milk. These two looked particularly good:

http://nutritionstripped.com/turmeric-milk/

http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/turmeric-tea-recipe.html

So, using those recipes as a basis I made my own version which is a great evening night cap and something I will gladly make again if I feel the start of some kind of cold coming on, or just because it tastes so good.

warm turmeric milk

warm turmeric milk

TURMERIC MILK

2 cups almond milk
1 tablespoon coconut milk (it was the cream from the top of a tin)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
3 pods green cardamom
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon or a small cinnamon stick
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp honey (or to taste)
A few grinds of black pepper.

I put everything except the honey into a pot and slowly heated it to a boil over 15 or 20 minutes. Take off the heat for about a minute add the honey, strain and drink.

You could also add a pinch of saffron in the beginning, or try it with a tsp of vanilla essence after it has been taken off the heat.

warm turmeric milk

warm turmeric milk

 Avocado is one of my favorite fruit and it is often used in desserts for extra fatty moistness and density. This post has taken a couple of recipes featuring chocolate and avocado from two great blogs. I’ve found avocado to be a bit hit and miss in some of my experiments, notably a very nasty green tea sorbet I tried once. The sorbet was an amazing green color, but the flavor of the avocado was intense and just tasted plain nasty with the green tea. Unfortunately everybody else brave enough to try it after witnessing the expression on my face totally agreed. There was no saving that one… That said, the avocado works really well in both of these recipes: one cooked, one raw.

The first recipe is from Bunny Kitchen’s Blog.

Poppy, of Bunny Kitchen, comes up with some great desserts, and when I saw her Avocado, Chocolate, and Orange muffins they just stuck around in my head until the day I realized all the ingredients were actually in our house. Check out her recipe:

http://bunnykitchen.com/2014/01/23/avocado-chocolate-orange-muffins/

I didn’t have any hemp protein powder, so I subbed it with some hemp flour, but I think that as she suggests, simply leaving it out and adding extra cocoa is a damn fine option.

They were moist, chocolaty, made a mess on the floor, and tasted absolutely delicious.

Chocolate with very green avocado hemp oil mixture! It looks amazing.

Chocolate with very green avocado hemp oil mixture! It looks amazing.

These brown blobs are delicious, moist and crumbly avocado, orange, chocolate muffins.

These brown blobs are delicious, moist and crumbly avocado, chocolate, orange muffins.

The next chocolate dessert was a bit more of a challenge: Chocolate Silk Mousse Cake. It uses Irish Moss which takes an extra days soaking and removing sand and grit to prepare properly. I had a little bag of Irish Moss hanging out in the pantry doing nothing for 6 months which I’d bought it on a whim, one of those, ‘wow this sure is a nasty bag of something really interesting that would be fun to try out’ moments. (I have them regularly, notably in the dried fungi and seaweed area of any well stocked Asian grocery.)  I was pretty happy to finally find a recipe that made the interesting preparation worthwhile. Let me warn you now – this tiny bit of stuff sure had a lot of sand, grit and ocean in it! I was a bit worried about the whole-ocean smell of the final product, but it didn’t translate into the mousse.

The sandy bag of Irish Moss I found irresistible.

The sandy bag of Irish Moss I found irresistible.

A small part in water to soak for 6 to 12 hours, changing the water at least once. The beast unfurls!

A small part scrubbed of sand and put in water to soak for 6 to 12 hours, changing the water at least once. The beast unfurls!

The prepared gum.

The prepared Irish Moss.

I made more Irish Moss paste than I needed. Rather than waste it, I decided to try it as a face mask. Some blogs had suggested this. It was weird, like putting snot that smells of old salty seaweed on your face. I even bothered to mix it up with kaolin clay. Try it by all means if that sounds appealing, I won’t be falling for that one again. Maybe they were practical joke blogs for gullible readers… Next time I will just freeze it in ice cube trays.

The mousse recipe can be found here:

http://www.rawfullytempting.com/2011/04/chocolate-silk-mousse-cake.html

The crust is made of macadamia nuts, walnuts, cocoa powder and dates blended together. The inside has soaked, blended cashews, cocoa powder, cacao paste, cocoa butter, maple syrup, avocado and Irish Moss. In the end it’s pretty simple to blend up and put together. I sprinkled chocolate buttons and cacao nibs on top for further chocolate goodness. It’s a pretty awesome little cake, and you feel good after eating it – none of that nasty sickly after feeling that I often get eating sweet stuff. I didn’t have any psyllium powder, or Medicine Flower Extract (really what the hell is that?)  – I used vanilla extract instead, and it was still awesome. (There is a link to the company that makes Medicine Flower Extract in Oregon, and it looks like interesting stuff.)

OK I’m going to have a slice right now :)

A slice of Chocolate Silk Mousse garnished with chocolate drops and cacao nibs.

A slice of Chocolate Silk Mousse garnished with chocolate drops and cacao nibs.

Andrew’s Aunt got us 40 pounds of apples this year. Organic. $20.

Awesome. She did it last year too. I didn’t want them. Andrew and I had discussed cider, but after some very quick research on-line my input was: ‘No, we don’t want the apples. Cider would be great, easy even.  If.You.Have.Access.To.A.Cider.Press.’

My mastication juicer is incredible, but it’s simply not designed for 40 pounds of apples.

Once Andrew has an idea in his head, it’s kind of hard to dissuade him. I don’t even try. So 40 pounds of apples were juiced over 6 days on the juicer. It wasn’t up to the task, but I knew that already. After two days of helping out and many hours later for a trickle of juice, I gave up. ‘Simple’ I said. ‘Your apples not mine, I want nothing to do with them’. I was very calm about it, and Andrew was equally as calm, patiently proceeding with four more days of juicing. We later ended up with a small amount of what became an interesting cider vinegar. Great as a soup stock.

This is only some of the apples!

This is only some of the apples!

This year the question of apples came up. I said ‘no’, very clearly, several times only to find another 40 pounds of apples mysteriously arrive in our underground parking storage. After a week of ignoring them and finding apples being snuck into every meal, I took pity on Andrew and asked how many we had gone through.

‘Umm, some, yeah some. Well, it’s kind of hard to notice a dent. Maybe we could make pie?’

Taking stock of the amount I said, ‘yeah, a lot of pies. Maybe bottle up some apple sauce, do some roll ups and dehydrate some?’

And so we did. Andrew said he was going to get apple pie recipes on-line. I remembered both of our attempts to make decent vegan pie pastry that tasted somewhere between a glue and a hard cardboard. Then I remembered Vegan Pie in the Sky by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero. I quickly bought a kindle copy, showed Andrew where the apple pie and pastry recipes were, and a few days later we had some of the best apple pies ever. I think there is still one in the freezer for one of those bitterly cold days that drop below -20C.

Vegan Pie in the Sky really is as great as all the other cookbooks by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero. There is a large section devoted to pastries with a lot of essential detail. The olive oil crust is a kind of flaky crumbly that melts in your mouth and finds even crust hating me shockingly picking bits of it straight off the pie (as if nobody would notice that.) I’d have tried the same version with coconut oil, but when something is this good, I’m greedy and I’d rather eat the magic that I know than suffer a perfectly good variation that might not have quite the same yum value.

I really didn’t want to buy this book. I knew it would be good, but I try not to eat much sugar, and I knew that having this book kicking around would lead to a lot of pie baking. I’ve tried to keep it to a minimum, but can I just say that the pumpkin pie recipe is so awesome that I’ve made it three times in the past two months. I’d only tried pumpkin pie a couple of times in my life and wasn’t really impressed, but now that I’m living in North America (and it was around Halloween time) I decided to give it a go myself…

For this pumpkin pies, my decorating skills are highlighted at an all time low. Andrew found the accidental Coptic Cross a bit creepy.

For this pumpkin pie, my decorating skills are highlighted at an all time low. Andrew found the accidental Coptic Cross a bit creepy. I have to agree.

And today, even though I tried to stop myself, today was the day of pecan pie. The pecan pie that glides into your mouth and isn’t numbingly sweet, with a slight saltiness that begs you to eat more.

Pecan Pie

Pecan Pie

If your vegan pies have been disappointing, cook up some recipes from Vegan Pie in the Sky and bring some awesome addictive sweetness back into your life.

So I’ve been making soap on and off for eight years now. For me, it’s kind of like preparing food or canning, but unlike canning, which is way more fun with a group of people, this is something I like to do alone. This way I can stay safe with the lye and keep people away from the small amount of fumes it creates whilst I tramp around the kitchen adorned in clogs, long sleeves, a mask, safety goggles and long yellow plastic gloves. I started out with an arsenal of books from a local library, the cheapest oils, and yogurt containers as molds. These days I order most of my ingredients on-line (still trying to keep it fairly simple) and have a few favorite molds.

Having read a ton of books on the subject and scoured the internet for great ideas I have one favorite book. This is by far the simplest book with the most well designed recipes I have tried: Smart Soapmaking by Anne L. Watson. It’s a small book with clear instructions and a basic guide with lots of troubleshooting. Anne’s  simple formulations make a decent hard bar of soap, unlike so many others I have tried that turn way too easily into disappointingly sodden masses.

This photo is a version of her Olive Palm Soap. The recipe is simplicity with only olive oil, palm kernel oil, water and lye. I found some floral waxes online at saffireblue.ca and ordered the smallest sizes of jasmine, tuberose, and rose to experiment with how they would work in soap and/or lotions. I used 10 grams of the tuberose floral wax in these lovely little soaps. The scent is holding up really well and it really is a divine smelling soap.

Image

One of my favorite recipes in Anne L. Watson’s ‘Smart Soapmaking’ uses cocoa butter, avocado butter, palm oil, coconut oil and shea butter. Instead of using my normal cocoa butter that is not deodorized and has a fabulous chocolatey smell (unfortunately undetectable in soaps but wildly evident in lotions), I experimented with a dark cocoa butter to see how it would change the color and effect the feel of this soap I love to use so much.

It’s made a harder light coffee colored soap that popped out of the molds after 24 hours with no trouble at all.

Image

The final soap I made in this week long frenzy is a hair soap. This is totally an experiment. I don’t like the way that Cold Process soaps clean my hair, but thought I would try out somebody else’s recipe for a hair soap that uses a fair percentage of castor oil.  People say that the castor oil is what makes it a shampoo bar – I can only try it and see. (See Susan J. Barclay at swiftcraftymonkey for why Cold Process soap might not work as a shampoo.) This one seems like quite a soft soap that will definitely need at least five to six weeks airing before I get to try it out. It’s scented with rosemary, tea tree and peppermint essential oils.

Image

Basic soap making is easy and fun. I learnt how to do it at a time when I didn’t have a lot of money and missed being able to buy some of the more expensive soaps every now and then. Now these are my favorite soaps that I get to use all the time.

Recently I came across a cheap, second hand copy of Tal Ronnen’s The Conscious Cook. I snapped it up and delightedly added it to the constantly changing pile of books next to my bed.

I have a weakness for panna cotta and was excited to try out the vegan version in this book. So I got to soaking – cashews overnight for a thick cashew cream and almonds for almond milk.

For the almond milk I simply soaked a cup of raw almonds (with the peel on) overnight. The next morning I discarded the water and rinsed the almonds in a sieve, popped them into the vita mix with three glasses of water and blended for a few minutes. Then I strained the milk out through a nut bag, reserving the pulp and freezing it for a future batch of muffins or banana bread.

The recipe only uses a glass of almond milk, so we savored the rest cold with the dessert. Delicious!

vegan panna cotta

vegan panna cotta

The Conscious Cook calls for quite a few pre-made ingredients, like Earth Balance, ready made almond milk, commercial stocks and brand fake meats. Personally I prefer to make these things myself, and this is my main criticism of this book. Branded products can also date a cookbook fairly fast and make it a bit more daunting for people outside of the US where those particular products might not be available. I enjoy learning how to make all of the nitty gritty; for example I’ve been making my own vegan ‘butter’ rather than buy it. I’ve been using Bryanna Clark Grogan’s version here:

http://veganfeastkitchen.blogspot.ca/p/introducing-homemade-palm-oil-free.html

Also, if I’m going to cook from a vegan cook book I want recipes and food talk, I’m not interested in the reasons why vegan is good for the planet, I’ve read them a gazillion times and this book has a fair bit of that. It’s just a personal thing really.

This was a lovely dessert, not too sweet and just the right amount of salt from a Rosemary Pine Nut Brittle and the Orange Sauce.

This Amsterdam Life gives the recipe here:

http://amansterdam.wordpress.com/tag/pine-nut-rosemary-brittle/

Rosemary Pine Nut Brittle

Rosemary Pine Nut Brittle

whole wheat country loaf

whole wheat country loaf

I recently finished reading Michael Pollan‘s new book Cooked. A lovely book, again :),  that chronicles his forays into cooking (and bumps along the way). The first section is on Barbequing, specifically whole hogs. I’m a vegetarian and it took me a while to get through it, and I could have easily skipped it. That’s just a personal thing. The rest of the book was an addictive delight. In his chapter on fermentation, called Earth, he hilariously runs across many of the same problems and disasters that I have in my many forays into the delicious, time consuming, and slightly gross world of fermentation. The chapter that most inspired me was simply called Air, The Education of An Amateur Baker. I’ve been bread making for a very long time, and more recently eating and enjoying the outcomes of my partner’s bread making habits. But I’ve never really felt entirely happy about the results of my bread making. Taste, texture and shape, all things that I’ve never quite got into a perfect balance. This chapter inspired me to have yet another go at a sourdough starter. An attempt last year made a few nice loaves, but the final one put the nail in the coffin with a loaf so inexplicably sour and weird tasting (even for my sour loving tastes) that the whole idea had been abandoned. Up until now. This time was going to be different. I could just tell, and with Michael’s involved bread recipe at the end of the book there was no room for error.

Michael Pollan’s bread making explorations involved people like Chad Robertson, Richard Bourdon and Dave Miller.  And featured a technique that I had not come across with involving a soaker, lots of time, not much kneading and a very wet dough. My first week was building up the sourdough starter. It smelt pretty gross for the whole week. And it was really messy, bubbly and just plain weird. The night before baking I turned the starter into a leaven that I dubiously watched the next morning as it passed the float test in warm water. OK I thought. No need to use instant yeast on this baby. I mixed the flours and water that had ‘soaked’ together overnight with the leaven  and then ‘turned’ the dough every hour for around five hours before the final shaping and proofing.

I still didn’t like the smell of it. I certainly didn’t brave tasting it as I went along. And my final shaping was a joke. I stretched it out beautifully, getting those gluten strands ever longer and more shapely. But the whole gloop of it kept creeping out into a low lying mass. Things were looking (and smelling) bad, but I’d spent so much time on this optimistic experiment that I forged ahead, finally plopping the round mass of the creature into a pre-heated dutch oven casserole dish and into the oven.

dutch oven

dutch oven

The bread also came out looking bad. Sure it grew as much as it said, but it grew outwards, leaving a disappointingly flat loaf to cool down. It’s supposed to be completely cool before you eat it, and meant to be at its peak on the second and third days. Four hours later I hesitatingly pulled off a small piece of crust. The taste hit me, and then grew even after I’d finisheded chewing and swallowing. It was like the essence of toasted grain, but soft and chewy with overtones of caramel and a slight hint of sour. I immediately went back for a small buttered piece. This homely flat lump of brown is actually up there with the best bread I have ever tasted!

The sourdough starter which has moved from the category of ‘ick’ to ‘treasure’ is in the freezer waiting for next time.  If I can just get the hang of the shaping I could possibly end up with the elusive perfect loaf of bread.

a person really can eat this bread alone

a person really can eat this bread alone

Thanks especially go to these two plastic dough scrapers. Cleaning up dough really sucks, but I probably couldn’t have done it without these two friends who made the whole clean up process suck way less. I had no idea that these small pieces of plastic so cheaply available in cookware shops were actually useable, useful things. The only thing missing is a razor blade to score the bread, which was just plain ugly anyway, oh, and a proofing basket. Next time… the addiction grows…

plastic dough scrapers saved me

plastic dough scrapers saved me

fiddlehead ferns cleaned and lightly boiled

fiddlehead ferns cleaned and lightly boiled

Fiddlehead ferns are such lovely looking things. It would be most fun to pick them wild and eat them as soon as possible, but these were sitting coiled up and beautifully green at the farmer’s market this week and I just couldn’t resist their loveliness. They need to be used pretty fast when you buy them as they don’t have much of a shelf life.

Ingredients:

3/4 cup dried chickpeas

1 tblsp baharat

3/4 tsp dried ground morita chipotle chiles (more or less depending on how fiery you like your food)

juice of two lemons

1 tsp salt

2 onions

2 tblsps olive oil

250 grams or more fresh fiddlehead ferns

6 cloves garlic crushed

1 tblsp olive oil

finely diced fresh broad leafed parsley ( a combination of mint and cilantro would also work really well here)

2 tblsps nutritional yeast

Soak chickpeas in water overnight. Boil them gently the next morning for about an hour until they taste cooked through but still a little firm. Finely dice the two onions (I used medium sized white ones) and gently sweat them over a medium low heat for around half an hour with the olive oil and salt. They don’t need to brown in this time, they are just going to become a delicious moosh to surround the chickpeas. Add the drained and cooked chick peas, saving their cooking liquid for later. Keep cooking over a low heat until the chickpeas and onions become quite dry, perhaps another 10 or 15 minutes. Add the baharat and dried ground morita chipotle chiles. You can really use any spice combination. I love the smokiness and fiery heat of the chiles, and I had recently made up a fresh batch of baharat, so for today this really worked! Cook for a few moments with the spices. Add the lemon juice and slowly simmer, tossing every now and then to scrape up the bits sticking to the bottom of the pan until the mixture becomes quite dry again. It will be very tasty and tangy. Chickpeas cooked like this are great for a salty snack or as an addition with pasta and any green. The fiddlehead ferns make a sublime match with them.

Clean the fiddlehead ferns and remove any slightly browned ends. Bring the chickpea cooking liquid to a boil with a little salt. Put in the fiddlehead ferns to cover, and when the water comes to the boil again, remove and strain under cold running water. I only boiled these once. Some sources recommend boiling twice to get rid of bitterness, toxins and tannins. These are going to be cooked at a high heat again with garlic and oil, so I assume that this second cooking will do the trick. For more info read here.

Heat up the oil in a pan. Add garlic and let sizzle for about 1 minute. Add the fiddlehead ferns, a little salt, and cook for another five minutes. Add the parley and nutritional yeast, stir and turn off heat. Toss pasta, chick peas and fiddleheads together in a large saucepan over a reasonable heat until it is well mixed and piping hot. Serve and enjoy with a glass of white wine.

This is my variation of a delicious recipe I tried last year found here:

http://theveganpact.com/2012/05/chickpea-fiddlehead-fern-pasta/

dinner!

dinner!

It looks pretty homely, but is very tasty.

Who would have thought of using jackfruit as a spicy meat inspired filling for tacos and sandwiches. It’s a delicious fruit that I’ve devoured in India and saved the seeds to make great curry.

Until recently, that has been my relationship with jackfruit.

Then I started reading Celine Steen and Tamasin Noye’s Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day, and discovered a new beast – tinned jackfruit as a meaty spicy filling. I love trying new things, so this one really got to me. I searched on-line, and found jackfruit carnitas as a bit of a craze that my taste buds had completely missed out on. This had to be remedied, and fast! My next visit to an Asian grocery got me a haul of young green unsweetened jackfruit in tins.

unsweetened tinned jackfruit

unsweetened tinned jackfruit

The recipe was similar to many I found on-line, involving rinsing and shredding the jackfruit with your hands for a stringy pulled pork consistency. This one involved cooking the jackfruit in a marinade for just under an hour and letting it sit overnight to absorb all the flavours. When you are ready to have it on your sandwich it gets a good fry up for that lovely caramelized zing. Served on crisp just cooked bread that Andrew had made with a tofu chilli cream, guacomale, and cilantro it made for a pretty speccy sanger.

Jackfruit Carnitas Sandwich

Jackfruit Carnitas Sandwich

More recently I have been cooking my way through Terry Hope Romero’s inspiring and fabulous Vegan Eats World. Her jackfruit carnitas tacos is simply incredible. The jackfruit sits overnight in a marinade including chipotles in adobo, a ton of garlic, ground cumin and coriander, lime juice and so much more. This gets cooked up for an hour and then fried. For this, I made fresh tortillas for the very first time in my life, and they really are as simple as locating, capturing and escorting home a bag of masa harina. A couple of minutes making the dough, rolling it out, a quick toss in the skillet – it’s so worth it, they really are amazing. Served up with quick pickled red onions, diced tomato, avocado, cilantro and a cashew yogurt garlic sauce, this is a meal I want to keep in my life.

Jackfruit Carnitas Tacos

Jackfruit Carnitas Tacos

give me more jackfruit carnitas tacos!

Give me more jackfruit carnitas tacos!

It’s cold and snowy in Banff. I’ve never been in cold quite like this, and the air in our house is amazingly dry. So, naturally, I’ve been dreaming about humid steamy places where bunches of bright green wrapped curry leaves taunt me with their improbability. And then a lovely book came winging it’s way to me from amazon – Cooking at Home with Pedatha.  Reading this book of recipes from Andra Paradesh vividly brought back tastes of visiting India, and of living in Melbourne and Sydney where the local Indian groceries (and my back yard) supplied all I could want for this incredibly tasty cuisine. I started feeling homesick for everything that wasn’t Winter and was dreaming up warm weathered Thai curries with an insatiable longing for sticky rice with mango. I was a goner…

So yesterday I did it. I took a really long drive (2 hours one way) to  an Asian supermarket where I bought things like fresh pandan leaves, galangal, mangoes and kaffir lime leaves; then on to the Indian grocery for tamarind, split urad dal, dried red chillies, fresh skinny long green chillies, and most important – curry leaves. I was so excited to get there and buy a stash of green curry leaves to make my favorite curry leaf podi. Imagine my disappointment to discover a huge pile of brown and shriveled curry leaves staring back at me like there was nothing wrong with them. I stood in front of them recoiling in shock and horror, thinking Calgary, Snow, Winter, -20C, not the right place to even dare think  of enjoying such tasty morsels. Then from my reverie appeared a turbaned bearded man with a twinkle in his eyes handing me two bunches of divinely fresh curry leaves that he had just taken from out the back for me. I was ridiculously happy and thanked him profusely with a smile from ear to ear.

So last night I spent a few hours in the kitchen making the curry leaf podi (recipe from Cooking At Home With Pedatha) and grinding up a Thai green curry paste. The mango with sticky rice and pandan leaves will just have to wait.

Getting ready to grind the Curry Leaf Podi

Getting ready to grind the Curry Leaf Podi in batches. I made a double batch of the recipe and used four cups of curry leaves that I had washed and dried. before frying until they were still green but crispy.

The recipe I used for the curry leaf podi is similar to the one found here:

http://www.sailusfood.com/2006/08/26/karivepaaku-podi-spiced-curry-leaves-powder/

This is quite a good looking version of the podi as well:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-4tWEsnbRA

I used a seeded moist tamarind. I only removed the hard seeds as I found them whilst grinding it in the coffee grinder (our spice grinder). The tamarind was quite wet, so my podi is a little moister than I have made before. I also used coconut oil instead of ghee, and added a couple of tablespoons of grated ginger that I fried in 1/2 tablespoon of coconut oil. Because it is a little moist, I will keep it sealed in the fridge for the short time it will last here.

Curry Leaf Podi

Curry Leaf Podi

The rice is cooking and my breakfast will simply be rice with green curry leaf podi mixed in. A little bit of sunshine in my mouth.

My favorite granola at the moment.

Chlorella Green Granola

Yes it is green; so is Kermit the frog.

I really hate the taste of straight-up chlorella and spirulina and have been looking for a way that I might enjoy eating either of them and adding them to my diet occasionally. I’m a bit skeptical of the mass of incredible health benefits attributed to these algae/pond scum, but wanted to experiment with them myself and see if I noticed any extra joie-de-vivre-razzle-dazzle in my day to day life that would somehow excuse the extravagant price tag. Not so long ago, in the first part of this experimentation,  I had been trying to drink spirulina powder mixed with water in the mornings. Unfortunately, to me, it tasted like an eggy fart drink. I persisted for a few weeks despite the dry retching, (stubborn soul that I am) thinking I might get used to it and learn to like the taste. I didn’t, probably in the same way I’ve never really learnt to enjoy smelling old eggy farts. (Am I surprised? ) I’ve since come to understand that most people aren’t as hard-core as that and they add it, in small amounts, to their salad dressings and breakfast cereals. Chlorella is apparently a source of vitamin B12, which is rare in a vegetable source and sometimes lacking in a vegetarian’s diet. So recently, and on a fine sunny day shopping in the local health food store, I lashed out and purchased a packet of sumptuously dark green, powdered chlorella.

After the spirulina experience, I was hesitant to do a straight up chlorella taste test.  Looking for another way to enjoy this silky greenness, I wondered if it was pure madness to add it to this already delicious granola.

So how did it turn out?  If anything, it tastes even better with the chlorella. Sometimes it is the really gross things added in very small amounts that make something that extra delicious. (I didn’t really just write that did I…)

I love this granola. It can be baked in the oven, but I prefer the taste when it has been in the dehydrator overnight. And the smell of honey and pear while dehydrating is amazing. Rather than the smell of baking bread, this smell could well become the new craze to help sell a house. It’s also a great way to use some of the ample, juicy pears that we have been getting in our fabulous farm box. If you have it with an apple/plum crumble (see my current favorite way to enjoy this granola below), you’ve used even more of that delicious seasonal fruit!

This recipe is adapted from Brendan Brazier’s Thrive foods.

Here’s how I like to make it:

4 pears, diced

2 cups oats

1 cup diced almonds (any nuts would work here – in this one I used 1/2 cup diced almonds and 1/2 cup diced pecans)

1 cup chia seeds

1 cup sesame seeds

1 cup sunflower seeds

1/2 tsp ground stevia leaf (not essential, but if you have it, great!)

1/2 tsp salt

2 tblsps wheatgrass powder

t tblsp chlorella (spirulina would also work)

1/2 cup oil (here I used 1/4 cup hemp oil and 1/4 cup flax seed oil, an extra virgin olive oil would also work)

1/2 cup honey (I used buckwheat honey, maple syrup or agave would also work)

2 tblsps apple juice

4 tblsps grated ginger

Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In another bowl, blend together the wet ingredients. Add the wet to the dry ingredients and incorporate well. Place on dehydrating trays and dehydrate for around 12 hours or to taste. Let cool and break into pieces. Keeps refrigerated for a few weeks.

And the best way to have it yet? Fruit crumble warmed in the pan, soy milk poured on top, sprinkles of granola and wild blueberries. An amazing breakfast.

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