Tag Archives: recipe

Ingredient of the day: Burdock Root (Articum lappa)

12 Jul

In my last sauerkraut recipe, I added some ground burdock root.  I love burdock for its nutty taste and for its healing properties.  You may know burdock more as a common weed, and an annoying one at that.  If you have dogs or cats that venture outdoors, you have likely seen the fruits of the plant, aka burs, even if you haven’t been acquainted with the plant itself.

Rosalind: How full of briers is this working-day world!

Celia:  They are but burs, cousin, thrown upon thee in holiday foolery.  If we walk not in the trodden paths, our very petticoats will catch them.    —Shakespeare, As You Like It

Dog with burs. He’s wearing them like they’re in style! These are one of the worst things to get out off your mutt’s fur.  Image credit to the St. Thomas dog blog

Burdock’s root is most commonly used for both healing and culinary purposes, not the annoying fruits of the plant.  It is often available at several of my local health food stores, and I imagine it’s also easy to find in asian markets because burdock is a common ingredient in Japanese kinpira recipes.  Burdock is considered a bitter, aka it stimulates the digestive juices and whets the appetite.  It is most known  as a treatment for skin problems like eczema and psoriasis.

For a therapeutic dosage, Hoffman recommends that you should drink at least three cups of burdock tea per day, prepared by using 1 tsp of the root simmered for 10-15 minutes in a cup of hot water.  It is also possible to apply the root to the skin in external preparations, either in the form of the same tea or by expressing the sap of the root and mixing it with an oil base to desired consistency (Thanks once again to David Hoffman’s Holistic Herbal for the specific herbal info.  See my bibliography).

Arctium lappa

Burdock:  Arctium lappa (Photo credit: Matt Lavin)


Carrot and Burdock Kinpira

adapted from Aveline Kushi’s Complete Guide to Macrobiotic Cooking

Cut 2 carrots and one generous burdock root into matchsticks (slice them on a steep diagonal, and then cut the diagonals again lengthwise).

Sautee the  burdock in a little bit of sesame oil for about 3 minutes, then add the carrot and saute 3 minutes longer.

Add water to cover half the veggies, and a splash of soy sauce.  Cook, uncovered until the water cooked off, adding a generous portion of grated ginger to the mix towards the end of the cooking time.  If desired, garnish with toasted sesame seeds.





The Spit of Old Scratch: XXX Fermented Hot Sauce

5 Apr

Old Scratch Himself. (Photo credit: elycefeliz)

One of my classic family stories involves hot sauce.   Years ago, my Uncle Al told my innocent, unsuspecting, 7-year-old sister to try some “delicious” salsa.  What he didn’t tell her was that the salsa had warning labels on it because it was so spicy.  My sis took a big slosh of the stuff onto her chip and ate it down, and then her entire body turned bright red.  She ended up garbling milk, the white liquid dribbling off her tongue and onto the floor because it was so hot.  My uncle had himself a laugh over it, whereas my sister and I lost a bit of respect for him that day.  In the last year or two, I heard my uncle recount the story, and he blamed his own daughter for feeding my sister the sauce.  So, I think he has a guilty conscience over the incident, too.  The following sauce could have a similar effect if put into the wrong hands.  I advise you to eat it and offer it with care.


The ingredients

5 habañero peppers

1 poblano pepper

5 cloves of garlic

1.5 teaspoons mustard seeds, toasted

1 teaspoon sea salt

You want to wear gloves to protect the skin of your hands while you remove the stems and seeds, and finely dice your peppers, and certainly make sure not to wipe your eyes when handling them, or you will be in pain! Dice the garlic, and mix all the ingredients in a medium bowl. Let the peppers sit in the salt for a few hours to extract their juices.

Add 1 t apple cider vinegar.

Place the peppers and their brine into a glass jar- mind didn’t produce a ton of their own. Add water so that the peppers are immersed, and cover your jar. Let this sit at room temperature for a month. Skim off any mold that forms on the top.

Place your fermented pepper mixture in a food processor, with brine, and macerate until they are a liquidy pulp, place your sauce in a bottle and refrigerate until you are ready to consume. It won’t look like very much sauce– but a little really goes a long way!


Finished product– appropriately placed between the kimchi and the yogurt in my fridge.

Flavor of the day: Anisette Cardamom Jun

24 Feb

Today I bottled my latest batch of Jun.  I always do a few flavor variants.  Here’s my flavor of the day to share with you:


Anisette Cardamom Jun


1.  Brew your Jun.  For information on the basics of how to make it, consult my Kombucha 101 post.  Jun is a slightly different culture than kombucha.   It thrives on green tea and honey as opposed to black tea and sugar.   Don’t try to use honey with your kombucha mother!  You can use the following flavoring with kombucha, however.

To bottle a full batch of Jun, you’re likely to need 6-8 pint size bottles.  I mostly use repurposed Synergy brand bottes:  I like their sturdy plastic tops, and they have a wide enough opening to clean the bottle easily and to add or remove herb stuff.

2.  Add to each pint-sized bottle:

1 star anise

seeds from 3 pods of cardamom

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pour your Jun on top of the herbs (you may want to use a funnel for assistance), cap the bottles, and let them sit with the herbs at room temperature overnight.  In the morning, place your bottles in the refrigerator for consumption at any time.

If you are opposed to having pieces of anise and cardamom in your tea, you can always pour your tea from the bottle into a glass through a strainer to drink.  I enjoy keeping the herbs in the bottles, because the flavor slowly intensifies in the refrigerator over time.


Marshmallow Marshmallows

23 Feb

Okay, so this recipe is not a fermentation.  I feel that it’s a worthy addition to this blog’s subject matter though, since I’ve touched so frequently on herbalism.  I’ve been curious about the discrepancy between marshmallow the herb and marshmallow candy for some time. Same name, very different thing! A little research will tell you that the original marshmallow candy was, in fact, made with the mucilaginous sap of the marshmallow plant, and the candy was first developed as a kind of ancient variation on the cough drop, since marshmallow herb is soothing to sore throats. The Egyptians combined marshmallow sap with honey, nuts, and grains.

Marshmallow image from riversidegarden.wordpress.com

The French turned marshmallows into a confection in the 1800s, whipping it into egg whites, much like a merengue. Eventually, marshmallow root was replaced by gelatin because of practical concerns, aka, money. Marshmallow root is much more expensive these days than gelatin. The other thing you will find with modern marshmallows is that they are all made with corn syrup: an ingredient I’d rather avoid.  I searched a while to find a marshmallow I’d rather eat, and I came across a recipe at herbmentor.com that combines marshmallow with rose water and honey. This recipe doesn’t use the marshmallow as a binder anymore: gelatin is added to the mix as well. Not having any rose water on hand, I replaced changed the recipe a little and added some rose hips, which I find always go nicely with hibiscus that was already added to these marshmallows. My results were fluffy and a little fruity. Quite good, and very unique!


Marshmallow-Marshmallows with Hibiscus and Rose

Combine 1 c water with 1 T marshmallow root powder, 1 T dried hibiscus, and 1 T rose hips in a small saucepan. Simmer for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat and let them cool in the fridge. When cool, strain the mixture and add more water so the liquid equals one cup.

Take 1/2 cup of your tea concoction and mix with 1 packet of gelatin in a medium bowl. Mix until well dissolved.

Put the other half in a small saucepan. Combine with 1 c honey, 1 tsp vanilla, and a pinch of salt. Let simmer, stirring occasionally, until your mixture reaches 230-240 degrees Fahrenheit. This is called the soft-ball temperature in candy-making terms. Use a cooking thermometer to keep track. I found that the temp is hard to keep low enough on my gas range– the mixture kept fizzing over, so you may have to babysit the process quite a bit.  A flame spreader might also come in handy to diffuse the heat.  This is the tedious part.

When your mixture is hot enough, slowly combine it with the gelatin mixture, mixing on low, using a whisk attachment on your mixer or hand-blender.  Once they are combined, mix on high for several minutes, until the whole mix is frothy. The color will be brown-pink-creamy.

Line an 8×8 pan with oiled parchment paper. Pour your mixture into the pan, and let it set at room temperature. You could also set them in the fridge. I’ve been storing mine in the refrigerator. If the mix didn’t totally emulsify, like mine, then you might end up with a thin glaze of honey on the bottom of your marshmallows.


A few days later: Marshmallows half eaten!


Benefits of Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis):

Marshmallow root is primarily wonderful as a demulcent, meaning that it creates a soothing film over mucus membranes.  This makes it useful for conditions like bronchitis, ulcers, or inflammations of the mouth.  It can be used on the skin for conditions like boils or abscesses as well.  Both the root and the leaf can be used.

Chick-Chick-Chutney Sandwhich

26 Jan

This Chicken-Chickweed-Chutney sandwich creation was so yummy that I had to share it with more than folks than just my friend Marcy who I had lunch with today– thus this blog post.  The sandwich utilizes my cranberry chutney, a recipe which I posted earlier this month.



Slice open and lightly toast a breadroll.

Layer on your roll: cranberry chutney, fresh chickweed (One of the few green things that seem to be available lately at my local farmer’s market.  You can substitute greens of your choice if you can’t find chickweed arugula would do nicely), and your chicken salad

Chicken Salad

This recipe should last you for 3-4 sandwiches, unless you are Dagwood.

Shred into small pieces:  Leftover cooked chicken:  1 leg or 1 breast

1/3 cup homemade mayo, alter amount to taste. (see mayo recipe below)

1 stalk celery, diced

2 T almond slivers

salt and pepper to taste.

Combine ingredients in a bowl and consume!

Homemade mayo

Whisk ( I recommend using the whisk attachment on a hand blender) 1 large egg yolk with 1 T lemon juice and a dash of salt in a smallish bowl, till smooth.

Take 1/2 c olive oil, add by drop-fuls until the mix begins to turn thick and stiffen. After about half of the olive oil is added, you can start to add it in more steadily. Make sure each addition is blended fully before you add more. Once the oil has been fully combined, add freshly ground pepper to taste.

Jun Bread in January

6 Jan

Months ago, I was very excited to read a fellow blogger’s creation of kombucha bread, adapted from a beer bread recipe from the Upslope Brewing Company. I’ve been meaning to try it ever since, and I finally got around to the task yesterday. I made an adaptation of her adaptation: thank you to Tea Foodie for your post!



Jun Bread

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and lightly grease a 9×5″ loaf pan.

Whisk together:

2 c white flour

1 c whole wheat flour

3/4 tsp salt

3 & 3/4 tsp baking powder

Mix in:

1/2 c honey

2 c Jun (see my Jun recipe for details under Kombucha 101)

Transfer your dough to the pan, and bake for 45 min. Remove the pan from the oven, and carefully drizzle

1/8-1/4 cups of melted butter

on top of the loaf.  Careful– it will be puffy and the butter can easily drip down the sides of the pan, making a mess.  Bake for an additional 10 minutes.

Once done, let the bread cool a few minutes before you remove it from the pan.

I’m sure this bread would be great hot, but I baked it right before we went out for an enormous Italian dinner.  I got a hold of the bread this morning for breakfast, however, and enjoyed it with a slab of Ronnybrook Dairy cinnamon butter on top.  The already butter-glazed bread barely needed anything on it, but the additional butter made it extra extravagant.  It’s a sweet bread, and the honey comes through strongly.  Next time I’d like to add raisins, currants, or nuts before I bake it.

Cranberry Chutney

5 Jan

I generally think of chutney, the salsa of India, as a summer food, perhaps partly because its origin is a place with a hot climate, and also because it requires fresh fruit which is mostly available in the summer.  My adoration of cranberries over the winter made me decide to depart from my plain old cranberry sauce recipe to ferment something new. So, here’s a fermented winter chutney I created.  To learn more about lacto-fermentation, check out my post on lacto-fermentation basics.  Enjoy!

In a small pan, toast:

1/2 t whole cloves

1/2 t coriander seeds

1 t fennel seeds

1/2 t peppercorns


Toasting the seeds.

Wash 4 c cranberries (usually the amount of 1 bag), and pick out any soft ones. Chop the cranberries coarsely in a food processer.


Coarsely chopped cranberries

Mash the spices a little bit (not powder fine) with a mortar and pestle or a coffee grinder.  Combine the cranberries with the toasted spices and:

a 3 inch piece of ginger, grated,

1/2 t dried thyme

the juice of one orange

1/4 c yogurt whey (see my curds and whey post for details on obtaining whey.  Do NOT use powdered whey!  You need an active culture as your inoculent.)

2 t sea salt

1/2 c filtered water

1/8 c plus 1 T rapadura

1/2 c dark raisins

Place your mixture into a quart sized mason jar, and press the cranberries down so that the water rises to the top of the mixture. If necessary, add a little more water. This part is a little tricky, since cranberries like to float. Do your best to immerse everything.  By the end of the first day, my cranberries had floated up above the water, but everything came out okay….   Leave at least 1 inch of room at the top of your jar. Seal the jar tightly and leave at room temperature for about 2 days. Test your recipe. If it doesn’t taste done (this is a personal preference thing), leave it a little longer. When ready, refrigerate your chutney. It should keep for about 2 months in the fridge.


The finished mixture, ready to ferment

More Root Beer: an improvement on a theme.

19 Jul

A while ago, I posted a recipe for root beer that contains licorice and sassafras.  This one is decent and nice if you want to keep your ingredients to a minimum, but I was a little unhappy with the licorice overpowering the brew.  Here is my new improved recipe, which calls on a third herb:  sarsaparilla.

Simmer for 20 minutes:

4 c of water

2T dried sassafras root

1t dried licorice root 

2 t dried sarsaparilla root

Let this mixture steep and cool off for about 20 minutes more, then strain it into a 2 quart or slightly larger jar.  Add:

1/3 c evaporated cane syrup (sucanot or rapadura) 

1/3 c maple syrup

4 more cups water

Test the temp.  You should be able to touch the water comfortably– if it’s too hot you will kill your tibicos!  Traditionally they talk about the brew being blood warm or milk-warm.  Add:

1/2 c water kefir grains

Cover your jar with a towel to allow air to come in and flies to stay out.  Leave it out of the way for 2 days, stirring occasionally if you remember.  After two days, taste the brew to make sure it’s fermented enough to your liking.  If you want, leave it another day.  When it tastes ready, bottle it.  Leave the sealed bottles out at room temperature for a day or so, then drink or store in the fridge.  Don’t leave them at room temp too long or they will explode with fizz when you open them!


Kombucha Sorbet

7 Jun

Yesterday, I was browsing through my local health food store when I came across this:

Ginger kombucha? I can do that!

That’s right, kombucha sorbet, infused with strawberries and ginger!   It was over $6.  So, i didn’t buy it, but rather took it as a challenge.  You know what I did the second I got home:  I made my own.  My guess is that mine is much nicer.  It certainly came out a much rosier color– at some point I’ll buy a pint for comparison.

The finished product, with a garnish of mojito mint from my fire escape garden.

Once you have made kombucha, this couldn’t be easier, so long as you have the equipment:  a blender and an ice cream maker.

Here’s what I did:

Throw about 1.5 cups of strawberries, fresh or frozen, in the blender

Grate in 1 inch of peeled ginger straight into the blender.

Pour in your kombucha until the strawberries are covered

Add 2 T of maple syrup.


The ingredients

If all your ingredients are cold, especially if you used frozen strawberries, they should be ready to throw into the ice cream maker right away.  Add the cold ingredients to the ice cream maker, let it spin for about 20 minutes.   Scoop them out and eat, or put in the freezer.  Mmmmm!


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