Thursday, February 7, 2019

Pecan Pancakes... GF and Paleo!

This pancake recipe is delicious, easy and makes a healthy, impressive Valentines Day brunch. They are the perfect grain-free, sugar free, dairy free breakfast solution for those following a Paleo Diet or for anyone looking to reduce their wheat consumption. These delicate pancakes are kid friendly and freezer friendly. The batter is made in a food processor for a quick clean up and an easy special meal.
The batter is thin and will burn easily

Although gluten free and Paleo, I reserve this recipe for special occasions or as a treat. Since giving up refined sugar I find them very sweet with the addition of a banana and honey. Topping them with fruit and/or organic maple syrup definitely moves this into the 'treat' category, so not served often. 

The batter is quite thin and does not produce 'bubbles' on top when ready to turn over, like a grain pancake. They also burn quite easily, so I toggle the heat up and down while cooking and keep an eye on them.To remove lectins and make the nuts digestible, activate your pecans and store in the freezer for future use. Go to my Post on "How to Activate Nuts... and Why" for the details and instructions.

To freeze; cool the cooked pancakes on a wire cooling rack. Layer parchment paper between each one if you want to remove only a few at a time. Pack into a freezer bag marked with contents and date.

I love these served with warm, organic maple syrup and garden strawberries, either fresh or defrosted as in the photo below. A side serving of 'Coconut Milk Yogurt' (watch for the recipe in a future post) made in the Instant Pot rounds out a very special breaky indeed!

PECAN PANCAKES  Yield: 4 servings 
1½ cups activated pecans 
Cool completely on a wire rack
3 large eggs
1 banana, mashed (optional)
    —if not using banana, increase pecans to 2 cups 
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon 
½ teaspoon baking soda 
¼ teaspoon salt 
Coconut oil
Maple syrup, pecans and berries, for serving 

Finely grind pecans in a food processor to a flour-like texture. To the ground pecans, add eggs, mashed banana (if using), honey, vanilla, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Pulse until all ingredients are well incorporated. 
Serve with fruit, pecans, maple syrup and Coconut Milk Yogurt

Lightly coat a medium skillet with coconut oil. Place skillet over medium-low heat. Ladle a slight ¼ cup batter into pan for each pancake. ** These burn easily, toggle the temperature between low-medium and check often ** 
 Cook until crispy on the edges and flip. Hold cooked pancakes in a warm oven until ready to serve. Repeat until all batter is used. Serve the pancakes with maple syrup, whole pecans, berries and 'Coconut Milk Yogurt' on the side.

Until next time ... Bon Appétit
If you try this recipe please let me know your thoughts as a comment below. Thank you!
Photos by Sally Rae
Recipe adapted from 'Fabulous Food The Costco Way'

Thursday, January 17, 2019

January Harvest and Sauerkraut Hack

I haven't grown cabbage for about 5 years, with my new Paleo Diet and the need for probiotics I decided to plant LOTS of cabbage in my 2018 garden. I got some healthy bedding plants of a good size from Pat at Corlan Vineyard and Farm. The Danish Ballhead is an heirloom variety first introduced in 1887. When I was a youngster helping my Uncle on the Edmonton City Market, I still remember the Ukrainian grandmas wanting only Danish Ballhead. They make excellent sauerkraut! They are supposed to be winter hardy, not sure what happened with mine, maybe they were too mature by the fall. The first 3 Danish Ballhead I used for kraut in the fall were beautiful, huge, heavy, crunchy, blemish free. They made incredible kraut in my initial experiment of 'Garlic and Dill Pickle Sauerkraut' in November.
Unknown variety, Danish Ballhead and Red Russian Kale
I left 2 heads in the garden, the last Danish Ballhead in the photo was picked January 3rd, 2019. Late last year we had heavy frost, so I mulched maple leaves around and over the cabbage heads. The 2 unknown variety (Lennox Organic-See Jan. 28th comment below) on the left are incredible as seen in the photo. The Danish Ballhead was quite slimy and frost damaged so had to be peeled down quite a bit but was still a good size.

I digress, back to my experiment with 'Garlic and Dill Pickle Sauerkraut'. Actually, it is a hack on a recipe I have tried from Farmhouse Culture. 
Pound and massage with Celtic sea salt
My complaints about purchasing their brand are... it is quite expensive and the kraut itself, although organic, flavorful with the addition of garlic, dill weed and slices of fermented dill pickles is soft, not crunchy... and I want to use my garden cabbage. Fast forward to this month, January 2019 and a few pictures of my progress on the second version.

Following the instructions in my 'E~Z Pickler Fermenting Kit', the cabbage is cleaned and cored. Several leaves are kept whole and cut in circles to fit on top of the cabbage once packed in the jars. I used a food processor to finely shred the cabbage. Layer shredded cabbage in a sturdy bowl and sprinkle with required amount of Celtic sea salt. Pound and massage the cabbage to release juice that will form the fermenting brine.
Weight & cover to form brine

Top the pounded cabbage with a plate and a heavy weight, I use a gallon jar filled with water. Cover with a towel for several hours or overnight to form a brine. DO NOT proceed until the brine is formed.

By the next day the brine should completely cover the cabbage. Remove the towel, weight and plate. Mix in any additional ingredients. In this case, for my Garlic and Dill Pickle hack; to 16 cups of cabbage, I added 1-1/2 tablespoons finely minced fresh, organic garlic and 1 cup packed minced, fresh organic dill weed. Pack cabbage mixture lightly into sterilized, cooled jars. Pour over brine. Arrange reserved leaf on top and seal with air tight fermenting lid.
Ferment at proper temperature

The jars in bowls, to accommodate overflow, were moved to the basement with a consistent temperature of 19C for 10 days.
On Day 11 the final ingredient was added... a quart of thinly sliced, 'Fermented Dill Pickles' from my 2018 garden. The cabbage and dill brine were added and mixed. Then the dill and cabbage mixture was packed into new, sterilized, cooled, quart and pint sealers. The reserved cabbage leaf placed on top again. Lids and seals were closed until just snug, not too tight.
Sally Rae's 'Garlic and Dill Pickle Sauerkraut' Hack

The jars of kraut are now ready for the fridge where they will continue to ferment at a slower rate. I will taste test the result few weeks ... if I can wait that long!

On another note, it's time to look through and order your seeds for 2019. Don't forget a few of my favorites from William Dam Seeds; Cassia Organic Zucchini, Corentine Cucumbers for Dill Pickles,
and Sunshine Squash.

Till next time ... Bon Appétit!
'E~Z Pickler' by Sally Rae
Photos by Sally Rae
'Garlic and Dill Pickle Sauerkraut' Hack Recipe by Sally Rae 

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Happy Holidays!

Billie and Portia 2018
Winter storm season is upon us. For the past few weeks, Denman and the surrounding Islands have been hit by a series of nasty storms. Thankfully so far, we have escaped damage to our property, that's not the case for many others. We have relied on the generator and wood stove as the storms pummeled the Island taking out power lines, blocking roads with huge trees and debris and flooding low lying areas. Check out my Featured Post, 'When Good Food Goes Bad' in the right hand column for tips during power failures.
Thank you for spending time with me here every month. I enjoy sharing my food and gardening knowledge, my new Paleo journey ... and experiments! Your feedback, questions and comments are very much appreciated. 

Thank you for your kind words and support through this challenging year. I'm looking forward to ... and wish for all ... a Happy, Healthy 2019!

Till next year ... Bon Appétit!
Photo by Sally Rae

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Turn Vegetables Into Noodles!

My new toy!
The popularity of recipes using spiralized vegetables is on the rise. Spiralizers, whether hand turned or electric, produce the likes of zoodles from zucchini and swoodles from sweet potatoes to name a few! Grocery stores, and even Costco are selling vegetables in noodle and ribbon forms... low carb, gluten free, Whole30 and Paleo diet compliant... a fun and healthy option.
Simple to assemble with few parts

I have been following a fairly strict Paleo diet since completing a month of Whole30 in May 2018. I was beginning to get bored with the meals until I found a few tools to help make cooking and eating a bit more fun. For almost a year, I had been searching for an electric spiralizer... my strict requirements include; compact, easy to use, easy to clean, minimal storage space. Most of the electric versions I found didn't tick the boxes until someone turned me onto the 'Gourmia Curly Q Electric Spiralizer'... Thank You DC!!
Compact for storage

This little gem compacts neatly for storage and requires only a 10-1/2" height clearance. The bowl is easily used for storage if you want to prepare the vegetables earlier in the day and store your vegetable 'pasta' covered, in the fridge until meal time. There are three cone blades; ribbon, fettuccine and spaghetti. 
Zoodles and conical ends that remain
The vegetables must be trimmed to fit in the chute. 
Very skinny vegetables, like carrots will not work well, as there is a small, center core of waste from the blades. Also a cone shaped piece remains after spiralizing. I just set them aside and chop these ends for another use. I have been obsessed with Asian inspired flavor profiles lately. This is my new favorite zoodle salad recipe...

THAI 'ZOODLE' SALAD         Yield: 6 servings
This flavorful, crunchy salad is night shade free and is also Whole30 and Paleo compliant. 

4 medium zucchini, spaghetti spiralized
1 medium carrot, coarsely grated 
½ English cucumber, sliced into 2" long, thin strips 
4 green onions, sliced on the diagonal 
½ cup of fresh cilantro 
¼ cup activated, toasted almonds, roughly chopped 
kosher salt 

Thai Dressing
1/8 tsp. wasabi powder 
2 cloves garlic, finely minced 
2 Tbsp. fresh ginger, peeled and finely minced or grated 
¼ cup green onion, thinly sliced 
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar 
2 Tbsp. coconut aminos 
2 Tbsp. almond butter 
1 Tbsp. sesame oil 
1/3 cup coconut milk

1. Run the zucchini through a spiralizer spaghetti blade, then break the zoodles into 8" length pieces. Place it in a bowl.
2. Add the grated carrot, sliced cucumber and green onions. Set aside while you make the Thai Dressing.
3. For the dressing; combine the wasabi powder, garlic cloves, ginger, green onions, vinegar, coconut aminos, almond butter, sesame oil and coconut milk in the jar of a blender. Blend on high until you have a smooth dressing.
4. Toss the zoodles with just enough of the dressing to get it well dressed
, season to taste.
5. Add the fresh cilantro and gently toss, garnish with chopped almonds. Serve immediately. 


This summer I tried a new zucchini seed in my garden from William Dam, called 'Cassia Organic'. It is a true Italian Romanesco summer squash. I will definitely grow this variety again next year. High yielding and cool tolerant, a nutty flavor, firm flesh and makes sturdy zoodles. I had several comments from friends that my Cassia Zoodles, after a gentle stir fry in coconut oil, then a quick steaming were very close to the texture of 'real' pasta! If you don't garden or just want to try them out first, Jeremy and Kerri of Rhubarb Ranch had the Romanesco summer squash at the Saturday Market ... watch for them next summer!
Gently saute in a bit of clarified butter or coconut oil
Until next time ... Bon Appétit!
Photos by Sally Rae
Recipe by Sally Rae

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Time to Plant Garlic

Choose large, blemish free and disease free cloves
For those who grow winter vegetables, it's time to plant garlic for next years crop. If you have never tried growing your own garlic, it is easy to grow with a few guidelines. 

Garlic is not suited for growing in containers, it is better in the ground or raised beds. Any time this month is good but definitely have it in the ground before the end of October. I used to plant later in the year but an October planting gives the root system more time to develop, therefore larger bulbs at harvest. Once warm weather appears in May, the plants are stimulated to form bulbs regardless of how much root system they have at the time.
February ~ pull mulch back a bit

To prepare the garlic for planting; separate the cloves but don't skin them. Use large, blemish free and disease free cloves. Dig over the soil well, add compost and rake the bed to level. Be sure not to compact the soil by stepping on it. Set each clove, pointed end up about 4-6 inches apart with the tip of the clove 1-2 inches deep. Plant deeper if frost or rain may expose the cloves and plant shallower if planting into heavier soil or mulching heavily.

April 2016 garlic crop
After planting, mulch the beds with a 3-6 inch layer of straw or dry leaves. This protects the soil from erosion and protects the cloves from being heaved up by frost. If you see tips of green shoots poking up in December or January, don't worry, garlic shoots are very hardy and will be fine. 

July 2015 Harvest
Once the sun is on the garden, (in my garden usually by late February), pull the straw mulch away from the emerging sprouts. Do not totally remove the mulch as the weather is still unpredictable. Fertilize the spring growth, water as needed and keep weeded. 

When the flowers develop at the top of the stalk, cut them to keep energy in the bulb. These are called garlic scapes and are delicious to use in stir fries, pickled or in my incredible 'Garlic Scape Pesto'. 

A whole new meaning to the term 'one clove of garlic'!
On a final note... 'White Rot' is a fairly common disease that causes black spots and decay on the bulbs. It is easily spread in infected soil and water ... and is very persistent in the soil. The best way to avoid it is not to leave decaying alliums in the ground and by using a strict 4-year rotation in your garden. 

I grow two varieties of garlic but hands down, these huge garlic cloves are my favorite! Each garlic bulb has only 2-4 huge cloves! Unfortunately I don't remember where I originally acquired the seed and don't know the name ... and no, it is not elephant garlic!! Each clove is equivalent to 3-4 'normal' garlic cloves but is slightly more mild in flavor than the other variety I grow. 

Until next time, enjoy your garden clean up jobs in the coming week of sunshine, and ... Bon Appétit!
Photos by Sally Rae 

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Marvelous Melon Experiment

I know for a fact ... juicy, sweet, melons can be grown on Denman Island because I buy them at our Denman Saturday Farmer's Market!
I had access to a second portable greenhouse this summer and decided to try my hand at growing several varieties of melon in containers. Through research on the topic of container planting for melons, this is possible with one plant per (at least) 5 gallon pot. I started the seeds a bit late, but still got a few melons to fully ripen on the vine. To judge ripeness; watermelons are ripe when the tendril nearest the fruit is dry. Ripe cantaloupe will easily detach from the vine with light finger pressure. This is why most grocery store melon is lacking in flavor... when commercially grown they are picked, shipped and sold before ripening. The problem being, melons do not ripen off the vine

Cream of Saskatchewan Watermelon
 'Cream of Saskatchewan' Watermelon from Seed Savers Exchange ... was "brought to Saskatchewan by Russian immigrants and does well in cool northern climates. Fruits are round, up to 10" in diameter and 4-10 pounds. A rare treat with sweet, white flesh, exceptional flavor. Pale green skin with dark stripes. Very thin rind, must be handled with care - strictly garden to table."

This melon is indeed delicate and its pale flesh is unusual to the eye. It was crisp and extremely juicy with a very thin rind. The flavor was mild and not as sweet as I had hoped. I feel this delicate melon required more sunshine and heat than my north facing property could provide.

Seascape Strawberries and 
 Cream of Saskatchewan Watermelon
As usual, the Seascape Strawberries did not disappoint! These huge, juicy, sweet berries produced a larger June crop than usual. The second crop is always very impressive with even larger fruit. Finally at this years Denman Island Blackberry Faire, my fresh strawberry entry won first prize in the Berry Category of the produce judging. Although shortly after that the rains came and the rodents took advantage of my sparse garden visits. The plants are loaded with large green berries that will not ripen unless we get some sunny, dry days soon. My last big harvest in this photo was September 11th, 2018. 

Earlichamp Cantaloupe
'Earlichamp' Melon is from West Coast Seeds, "a cantaloupe with slight sutures and heavy netting. The fruit is large and heavy. The bright orange flesh is cool and sweet."
These melons were impressive to watch grow. The tiny pollinated fruits seemed to explode in size every day! I knew they were ripe and days away from picking when I opened the greenhouse and the sweet aroma of ripe melon filled the air ... simply intoxicating! 
Earlichamp Cantaloupe
When ripe the large, heavy fruits easily released from the vine. Again, I expected more sweetness from this melon. This may sound odd, but their aroma was sweeter than their taste. 

It was an interesting experiment and next year I may try them again but in the garden with black plastic mulch to increase the soil temperature and possibly a poly tunnel to increase the air temperature. I hope the garden will get more sunshine hours than the new location of the greenhouses this year. Melon plants need 8-10 weeks of good, hot growing weather from the middle of June to the end of August. So if you are planning to give them a try in your 2019 garden or greenhouse; mark your calendar, order your seeds early and start them indoors or in a greenhouse in the third week of April. Transplant at the end of May or early June when the seedlings are 5-6 weeks old. Remember, melons do not ripen off the vine, so plan to leave them intact even into September.
After growing up in Alberta, this was a rewarding growing experience and I'm planning more marvelous melon experiments for 2019!

Until next time... Happy Thanksgiving and Bon Appétit 
Photos by Sally Rae  

Sunday, September 16, 2018

How to Activate Nuts... and Why!

If you notice a heavy feeling in your gut after eating regular commercial nuts, you are experiencing indigestion from the enzyme inhibitors and phytic acid that naturally occur in them. Soaking nuts and seeds 'activates' them and neutralizes the anti-nutrients in these plant foods.
Activated walnuts, macadamia nuts and pecans
Nuts and seeds contain 'phytic acid' also known as phytates which binds to minerals in the digestive tract, making them unavailable. Sprouting removes phytic acid which is found in most nuts, seeds, grains and legumes

Sprouting is the basis of all plant life, concentrating nutrients and unlocking the germ of the seed to reveal its inner life. Soaking and dehydrating nuts and seeds at low temperatures provides superior nutrition and digestibility. When substituting nut and seed flour in grain-free diets it is crucially important to prepare the nut and seed flours properly to avoid mineral deficiencies.

Nuts and seeds also contain enzyme inhibitors which prevents the seed from sprouting prematurely. This also forces the human digestive system to work overtime to break down this food. The perfect conditions to germinate include warmth and moisture. The way to reduce phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors is to soak, sprout and/or ferment the nut or seed. This also applies to grains and legumes.

May traditional cultures used salty sea water to soak nuts then dry them in the sun. At home, use a good quality sea salt and water to soak the nuts and a dehydrator at 135F or the oven between 135⁰F and 150F can be used to dry them.

Clearly most commercial nuts are not properly prepared, although 'sprouted' raw nuts can be found in health food stores. At home, you can do a lot of nuts at a time and freeze them, that's what I do!

A variety of raw nuts; pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, macadamia nuts
Good quality sea salt

Place each variety of nuts in a separate large bowl with 2-3 Tbsp, of sea salt that is dissolved in water.
Soak for 10-12 hours or overnight *NOTE: if using cashews soak between 3-6 hours or they will become slimy. After soaking whole almonds, remove the skins before dehydrating. Pinch them between your thumb and first finger and the skin will pop off.
Drain nuts through a sieve, rinse thoroughly under running water and shake out excess water.
Place each variety of nuts on separate dehydrator trays
Dry at 135⁰F for 12-14 hours or until they are crispy and dry.
I have never liked the slight bitterness of walnuts... once activated they have become my second favorite nut, next to pecans!
Until next time... Bon Appétit!
Photo by Sally Rae