cooking up mad memories

Peach, crushed lemon balm, drying wood resin, midnight campfire, apricot, tomato leaves, the perfume of apples: the scents of midsummer are the backdrop to the scenes we play out here on life's proscenium as the long, long days slowly shorten and make poignant the most ordinary occurrences. summer water kefir provides the refreshment for this occasion, and the sweet fizz can make one reminisce, especially if consumed in the liquid shade of whatever trees you have on hand.

august 11, 2013... covelo

We are having a spate of hot weather this week, and watering the yard to keep the temperature down is the name of the game. around supper time it can be almost too hot to eat, and we find cool foods are the most appetizing. tropical white beans are a pleasant surprise with a light texture and filling effect. coconut oil makes the beans sweet and succulent, lending its healthful properties to the humble, starchy legume. unpeeled garlic and a few chiles make this dish resonate somewhere between the phillipines and the mediterranean. goes great with old jazz and new friends.

july 29, 2013... covelo

Here in round valley, there is not much fruit to be found this time of year (although there are apricots over the hill in the capay valley at good humus farm). that doesnt stop us from dreaming about pie... salted honey pie. this smoky number fills the bill and reminds us of the winter, close but now past, & getting further away. the obscure roasted flavor and complex sweetness of this pie is a neat surprise. our recipe is a little different from the four and twenty blackbirds recipe, but the inspiration is all theirs. salted honey pie comes to us from brooklyn NY, via twitter and all things urbane.

june 18, 2013... covelo

Nettle is one of the first green foods of spring, and if you cultivate your patch, it will keep producing till late in summer. urtica diocia was (sadly, past tense) a major food source for the native american, and for those familiar with its taste and nutrition, its easy to see why. we like to pair it with our other favorite spring fling, green garlic, which is the early garlic bulb and stalk, uncured and tender. together these form a light summer soup we love to show off to friends & family. this calming, pleasant concoction is excellent served cool on a hot day.

june 5th, 2013... covelo


When spring rolled around, we found rhubarb and asparagus growing in the apple orchard. the asparagus came up first, reminding us not to underestimate the weedy mess that was growing along the hedgerows. we hope to transplant them to their own bed in the late fall. asparagus makes a great low-input vegetable bed, and around here you can trade it for just about anything. the rhubarb followed quickly after, and we were soon plucking off the stalks and looking around for recipes. we first made a sweet roasted rhubarb sauce, and tried it on lamb before discovering that it goes with vanilla ice cream like hugs & kisses. then we paired it with a pork leg, and the results are something we want to share with you. it makes a great taco meal during the summer, and the lip-smacking flavor will make your guests damn thirsty, so stock up on the beverages. just think: for centuries this sour vegetable was prized in china & central asia, and made its way along the remote & exotic silk road to europe and beyond. like mama said, sweet rhubarb-roasted pork takes you in its arms and offers you solace from the cruel, cruel world.

june 5th, 2013... covelo

Homemade breads are an ideal way to participate in the archaic revival. our ancestors (i mean almost everybody's ancestors) used sprouted and soaked grains to make the breads that sustained us on the long road to modernity. we managed to consume these breads for ages without becoming gluten intolerant. we figured out a way to ruin bread right about the time we figured out how to make everything more convenient: the 1950/60s. but eating an awesome diet will never be convenient, unless youre a king or something and you get someone else to do all the cooking. for most of human history, at least one person from each family had to tend to the kitchen duties seven days a week: making the broth, baking the bread, soaking the beans or grains, making yogurt or cheese. this important person safeguarded the health of the entire family. in villages, the various duties could be shared by bakers, cheese makers, and farmers. food has not lent itself to the manufacturing age, it has yet to give its consent (thus, its nutrition) to any of the food products in the stores. the path home leads through the dark forest, and hot buttermilk-barley biscuits are waiting on the counter...

january 8, 2013... covelo

The only edible fruit left on the tree this time of year is the quince, so our thoughts turn to dulce de membrillo. originally from portugal, italy and spain, membrillo is a sweet paste, thick enough to cut into cubes, with all the mysterious flavors of the quince. its a unique compliment to the traditional holiday spread, and the experience of quince is one of the distinctive flavors of the winter season. membrillo will keep in the fridge for a long time: a lovely candy-like treat that soars with some tea or white wine and manchego cheese. (its been so long since our last post, please forgive our absence. we decided to put down roots here in mendocino, and have been fortunate enough to buy alan chadwicks old farm in the north end of round valley. after lots of help from friends & family and plenty of monkey motion, we are now the proud owners of a decrepit, 40 year-old farm)january 6, 2013... coveloThe cookbook A Girl And Her Pig has taken up residence on our kitchen table.  Its a load of fun! and its by April Bloomfield, a puckish UK transplant who does comfort food like its the final game of the championship series.  The two following recipes are well suited to life here in Round Valley...  Now is the time to make succotash, with beans, squash and corn all handy and plentiful.  This rich & creamy dish is satisfying after a long summer's day of breathing wildfire smoke (the north pass fire is still going strong- our thoughts go out to those who have lost buildings and animals to the blaze).  If you like carbonated drinks, try cucumber soda pop - a blended decoction of cucumber that's mixed with carbonated water.  Refreshing, great with alcohol & without = make a jar of it and serve it up all week long. 

september 3, 2012... covelo

Quick projects like fermented corn salsa are the go-to way to get some fermented food on your table by tomorrow.  if you havent tried eating fermented food with every meal youre missing out on a guaranteed route to awesome town.  its not the flavor that is awesome (except it is), its the effect on your general health.  as in: more energy, faster recovery from injuries and fatigue, reduction of symptoms like allergies and food intolerances.  we think food should not only taste good, but sustain ones health and well-being.  so we eat lots of raw butter and milk, vegetables, meat and fermented foods.  processed foods are generally avoided (flour, pasta, sugar).  this loving note to you, whomever you are, is the best we can do to make you happier and healthier.

august 30, 2012... covelo

Soda is great stuff.  As in: coke, carbonated beverage, pop, etc.  Its got a nice boost, its a great mixer with alcohol, and bubbles are fun.  Commercial soda, unfortunately, is an invitation to trouble.  Corn syrup = bummer.  Also, say 'hi' to long-term health problems if you're consuming it with regularity.  BUT we are not anti-soda.  We have coke with fernet and ice, and swigging a ginger ale while youre jumping off a rock at the river is damn satisfying.  Generally, however, its bad for almost every part of your body so we steer clear of it.  Enter water kefir = the soda the gods want us to drink.  Worldwide, its more commonly called tibicos.  Water kefir is the juicy, carbonated solution to the soda conundrum.  Goes down fizzy, all-natural & good for your body: how you gonna beat that?  And you can make it yourself, which is the best part.  Unless youre totally famous, and then you can get someone to make it for you.june 27, 2012.. coveloButcher, baker, candle-stick maker: perhaps this is the best future for us, rather than the 'self-sufficiency' mantra which is so popular yet unattainable.  Community-Sufficiency is the model of the past and the future.  But there are still plenty of things it makes sense to do for ourselves- like our own small gardens or herb patches, foods like beet kvass & fermented carrots, choosing what you wear, what you like to read and listen to, and what your living space looks like.  These last few may seem obvious, but how many of us have had these choices foisted on us by catalogs, fashion, media, cultural trends, Pandora and commercial radio?  Cut to: the countertop in your kitchen.  Cue: raw eggs and olive oil, a blender, some fresh herbs and salt.  Raw, homemade mayonnaise is a mixtape for your mouth.  Put it together with the herbs and seasonings you want, and enjoy the positive enzyme boost that will make the whole world seem more pleasant.  Share this vibrant collection of tunes with your friends and feel the magic start to work its way in.june 8, 2010... covelo

Summer gets in the way of spring and then they kind of fall all over each other.  Next thing you know, its hotter than you-know-what by the river and it feels like the whole world has always been hot, like youve only ever seen a picture of moist green hillsides.  The poetry of disappointment melts, and hope blooms like a baking cookie.  Sprouted flour is the key to the best cookies ever, its what makes them taste like they were handed down from some better time, if there was one.  Whatever stands between us and the big diamond is only a funky thing. 

may 18, 2012... covelo

Pesto probably traces back to ancient Rome's moretum, a pounded combination of herbs, oil and cheese.  Fast forward a bunch of years- the Ligurians near Genoa adopted the herb basil when it came to Italy by way of India.  They added their local pine nuts, olive oil and hard sheep cheeses.  That plus a little crushed garlic and the world tilted slightly on its axis, because PESTO was born.  This kind of regional approach is both obvious and genius, and it can work for other places, too.  Here in Round Valley we substitute walnuts for pine nuts and nettle for basil.  The result is an american-indian take on the old roman method- Nettle Pesto.  Nettle (Urtica diocia) has a rich history of human use and lends this pesto a magical tinge.  Everything about this recipe can be a learning experience = do you want to roast the walnuts? where did they come from? what the hell is peccorino cheese? what kind of olive oil is this? why does it taste different from that kind? what are mission olives? etc.april 26, 2012... coveloRecently we found a sprouted flour source in Minnesota that is impressing the hell out of us.  Its like tasting wheat for the first time, and there is a lot of awesome flavor in there!  So the new recipe around our shack is Sprouted Flour Pancakes.  Reasons to avoid mass-produced flour: rancidity due to low shelf life, the germ and bran are removed, and since the grains are not soaked- phytates are present.  These are not minor concerns.  Processed foods are undermining our collective health, and flour is one of the main offenders.  Sprouted flour is expensive compared to the common brands, but we believe the price reflects actual food value (eg: lettuce only costs 70c because of pesticides, fertilizers and migrant workers).  As usual, the majority of new converts will be won over by the top-shelf flavor, but the added bonuses are: supporting a small organic business in the US, and less erosion of your 'soil' or digestive tract.

april 11, 2012... covelo

This buttery lentil salad is joy in winter.  with just enough crunch from onions, a dank cheesiness from asiago, soft lentils and the warm texture of olive oil, winter seems to recede after just a few bites.  the flakes of buddhas hand and coarse salt provide the high notes on this baritone excursion.  heaped on top of some arugula, its 'good as gold' and we call it winter lentils and arugula salad.  its a pretty solid main course for the non meat-eaters, but everyone seems to enjoy this dish.  its also an excellent companion on a picnic or camping trip.  just having some in the car can save you from eating at places you know arent really that awesome when youre out on the road.  its easy to forget that this is a whole new year, one that we have never lived before!  go forth and amplify.   

february 10, 2012... covelo

Sometimes a recipe is like a favorite album.  you smile just hearing it, and playing the songs over and over again doesn't weaken its hypnotic power.  this recipe is just like that: toasted pumpkin seed and cilantro sauce.  for the last two weeks we have kept up a steady supply of this vibrant green condiment.  its a 'smiling' kind of thing to have around, particularly if you like having something to drizzle on just about everything.  there's a bit of preparation necessary (well worth it) if you are going to go the soaked and dehydrated route with the pumpkin seeds but its not entirely necessary if you are in a pinch.  this is going to be a favorite, its already inventing new recipes you'll see here in the coming weeks and it goes well with anthony hamilton's album 'Back To Love'.february, 7, 2012... covelo      Happy chinese new year!  year of the dragon is kind of a big deal.  china has an impressively intact agricultural tradition, and one of the worlds only ideogrammatic languages.  hopefully they have a good year over there.  our friend tom palley gave us access to his farm while he is on vacation, so yesterday we harvested some carrots out of the ground and some onions out of the barn storage.  ruby put together a nice bit of soup that reflects the winter food situation here in round valley: we call it orange hat soup.  it tastes really good.  the stellar sauce that goes with the soup has loads of spicy cilantro with olive oil and toasted pumpkin seeds.  i guess that recipe is not coming out till later.  btw: toasted seeds are amazing.  they probably have their own bank account.  they could run for congress i bet.january 23, 2012... covelo

Bone broth is a necessary ingredient for the healthy kitchen.  a near-miraculous product of boiling down bones and vegetable scraps, bone broth is a whole-system booster that can even can help you recover from serious injury.  formerly in use for a few thousand years, its decline in the west has figured in tandem with a decrease in our ability to resist various diseases and ailments.  If you are an athlete or do some type of manual labor for a living, bone broth can make a big difference in your energy level as well improve your outlook.  those who use are 'in the know' can vouch for these seemingly hyperbolic statements.  its easy to see why the practice has fallen out of favor: its time consuming.  bone broths seem more a product of the old world, when being in the kitchen and preparing foods for a family was a full-time endeavor.  not all of our modern advancements have proven successful, and some of the old techniques will have to make a comeback if we are to make into the next century with robust DNA.  we are not anti-modernity!  we just want to have some bone broth with that high-speed connection.

january 18, 2012... covelo

Leftover milk is a great candidate for pudding: living it up with a spoon when the bell rings.  who knows what will happen when this stuff hits the table.  chocolate spiced pudding is the homemade variation of the jell-o brand approach.  its not as thick, not as sweet and has loads of spices.  as with all our recipes, if you have any input for variations or improving the recipe, let us know.  my mom called and said i have to clean out the gutters.

january 17, 2012... covelo

The run of great weather around here continues, & exercise is on our minds.  mostly hiking and biking with a bit of yelling thrown in.  mornings are verging on the eccentric with the arrival of the xtra-large french press, causing us to have people over to help drink coffee or drink too much ourselves.  often its both!  the new anthony hamilton album and the new eli young band album are keeping the foggy morning feel out of the house this week.  lots of good music going around these days- you don't have to look far to get into something nice.  this is the time of year we start to bring out the fermented goods from fall: sauerkraut and kimchi and pickles.  for those who havent tried it, a few gulps of pickle juice after exercise will have you feeling 'tip-top'.  for the new year, ruby and betsy made ham hocks and black eyed peas with festive cornbread.  they cooked the hocks and the beans separately, and the effect was terrific.  the 'festive cornbread' was pure gold, a little chewy and a surprising change from the crumbly variety.  seriously: this cornbread comes very highly recommended.  hats off to the new year! and lemon-juice cocktails.

january 10, 2012... covelo

In our foyer there is a basket with a few quince still left in it.  their pale green-yellow aroma has become as welcoming and familiar as the smell of wet leaves and burning trash (dont ask).  this tough fruit is a kind of visitor from another time and place, a special traveler hailing from thousands of years ago, when the world was very different.  central asia was a thriving, colorful amalgam of many different cultures.  the silk road was a river of human intention and commerce.  diversity of religion, ethnicity, cuisine, and fashion was the norm.  the varieties of art, tea, dance, poetry and conversation would have seemed a kind of hallucination to us.  from this heady milieu the quince reaches out and touches our senses; gently, without any kind of rush or excitement, as casually as the sleeves of a silk chinese robe brushing against the bare autumn branches.  The strong flavor and perfume of quince make it a good additive to meat dishes, fruit pies, and tea.  by drawing on what we have handy, a plate of savoury quince & onions is a common part of early winter supper.  once boiled to soften, quince flesh is an exotic ingredient that you may find plenty of uses for.  try it with cheeses, in salads, a few slices in your apple pie, or with breaded rock cod and hot sauce in your fish tacos.  boom! january 2, 2012... covelo We tend to think of ourselves as purveyors of the arcane; be it seeking out ancient herbs, heirloom foods or indigenous traditions, the practice is de rigueur at our place.  its surprising when something we have treasured turns up in national media, but so it is with Rhodiola rosea via the townsend letter.  we’ve been reading the townsend letter (“the examiner of alternative medicine”) since dr cowan referred to it in an online lecture last february.  at times it reads with the dense slogging of a medical journal but more often it offers an intriguing and deeper understanding of holistic health.  the russians and tibetians have been using rhodiola some thousands of years for its adaptogenic, cognitive and longevity-enhancing properties,  and now it is finally gaining notice on the scientific and medical fronts. 

The benefits of this succulent plant are found in its roots.  unlike some tonic herbs, which take weeks to gain affect, rhodiola is noticeable in its first use and increases with use.  stimulating to the mind without the negative effects of caffeine, among other benefits, it has been used for:  improving memory, bolstering the immune system, physical and mental stamina, reducing the negative effects of stress, increasing metabolism, altitude sickness and fertility.  as an adaptogen, it helps the body deal with stress, a potent malady in our modern times.  all that and it brews a pleasant, enjoyable cup of tea!  we hope you like our holiday stress tonic - rhodiola tea.  happy boxing day!december 26, 2011... coveloJoining a farm CSA is a good way to expand your vegetable horizons.  things will appear like kohlrabi and hakuri turnips, green garlic and golden beets, either to broaden your compost or your recipe index.  the turnip (which we've mentioned in this recipe and this one) has long sustained europeans through cold dark winters.  Long before the potato came from peru, there was the turnip: the dependable root vegetable that stores well in a cool dark place.  there are purple top turnips, hakuri white turnips, red and even yellow turnips.  the roots are a good source of vitamin C and the greens provide a host of nutrients.  boiled and mashed turnips with butter have turned many a nose to this peppery globe.  masala shalgam (literally, curry turnip) is another great way of celebrating this long-standing citizen of the soil.  the spicy note in turnips wants the earthy notes of cumin and coriander, paired with coconut milk and garam masala the flavor is unbeatable!  serve it hot over a bed of coconut-tumeric brown rice for a wintry adventure.november 20, 2011... covelo  

Beets are good for you and they're tasty.  especially if you have a couple of nice recipes for tricking people into eating them.  since there are plenty of beets this time of year, we should mention that this moroccan beet salad is pretty good.  a batch of this sweet, rich salad will last you at least a few meals, and wont go bad quickly if refrigerated.  sometimes its neat to think about what our ancestors were eating 'way back when'.... the sea beet is the ancient beet that all our beets descend from.  you can almost picture them heading home with a handful of these small beets dangling from a well-worn hand.  a few thousand years later, the sugar beet is a major commercial crop for table sugar and livestock feed.  p.s. ever heard of geosmin?

october 23, 2011... covelo

A fermentation project is kinda like a bicycle: you just gotta have one.  there's nothing like quietly pedaling down the lane or opening the lid and inhaling the ancient aroma of fermenting vegetables.  both of them are good clean fun, which wont get you in trouble with anybody.  whether we know it or not, eating fermented food is on everyone's to-do list, and california kimchi is our way of crossing that off.  nothing against the other states, its not meant to be competitive, its a provincial approach from the state that brought you the dancing, singing raisins and snoop dogg.september 28, 2011... coveloThis recipe is for a certain type of eater, because fizzy tomatoes might seem a little funky for those who are not fans of fermented food.  but for those who in fact seek it out, fermented tomato salsa will cause a fair amount of hi-fiving.  yet another near-magical product of whey, this fermented salsa is something you can enjoy almost immediately, while tomatoes are still in season, and its guaranteed to add a bunch of fresh crazy flavor to whatever youve got going on the table.  september 28, 2011... coveloGreen beans usually begin in june and carry on through september if harvested periodically.  sauteed quickly with olive oil, butter, salt and garlic they make a vibrant al dente side dish.  stuffed in a jar with dill, hot peppers and vinegar, they make one of our favorite winter preserves, dilly beans.  in this greek recipe, they are something altogether different:  simmered with tomatoes and oil until soft, the green beans absorb flavor and acquire a consistency that melts in your mouth.  with just a hint of garlic and a sprinkle of parsley, braised green beans may soon have you reading a travel guide to greece.

september 25, 2011... covelo

Lime salsas are a neat category of the salsa situation.  you may have tried this type of salsa at a latin-american eatery or on a trip south of the border.  cucumber jalapeno salsa is more of a secret move than a recipe.  salt and lime make an excellent flavor base for jalapenos, cucumbers and onions in this delicious salsa technique from costa rica.  lime and salt also make a nice contrast with mango, watermelon and other fruits.  once you try it, you'll get lots of ideas of your own about what else you can put into it.  goes excellent with eggs for breakfast: this tangy, salty salsa wakes you up!  so you can get back to work already.

september 15, 2011... covelo

This time of year there is much to be done in the way of 'putting up food'.  Canning tomatoes, checking on the fermenting cucumbers, kimchi & kraut, dehydrating kale and pears and apples, roasting and preserving peppers and eggplant, stashing pears in the basement, etc.  Its a lot of work: for example, roasting peppers and eggplant is no breeze.  But hey! what a delicious treat: smoky, roasted peppers and eggplant mixed with crushed garlic, salt and olive oil.  Awesome.  Peeling them can be time consuming, but what you end up with is an uncommonly tasty and preservable delicacy.  Hats off to the slow turn of the season (warm days, cool nights) and looking ahead with the satisfaction that comes from simple pleasures.september 14, 2011... coveloPoached eggs have a jewel-like quality when laid out on some toast in the morning, just about the time the coffee gets poured.  with a little butter on top and few sprinkles of salt, moldovan poached eggs sets the right tone for summertime excess.  the green moldovan is a low-acid heirloom tomato that wows in terms of taste and appearance.  they only come once a year (if you buy local), and they can be hard to come by.  this eggs-poached-in-tomato-water recipe is our favorite way to get the day going (this week).september 7, 2011... coveloFor the second year in a row we are making a big mess fermenting lemon cucumber pickles.  lemon cucumbers are actually a cultivar of Muskmelon (Cucumis melo), a species of melon from northwestern india that spread around asia and europe via the persian empire.  If you can get fresh lemon 'cukes' from an organic farmer who knows what they're doing, you'll be bowled over by the flavor.  like most organic produce, they are about 5x tastier that the commercial version.  calling stuff 'organic' is almost doing it a disservice, depending on your audience.  they should call it 'tastes a lot better', or 'top shelf' produce.  these cukes are fermented with whey, so theyr'e fizzy, tangy, good for your digestion, and basically worth more than gold.

september 4th, 2011...covelo