Athena Lamberis

CONNECT BACK TO NATURE: Urban Food Foraging

In Friend's Kitchens, Stories, Travel on March 17, 2014 at 14:44

The culinary-linguist-athena lamberis-baby chesnut tree-urban food forage The culinary-linguist-athena lamberis-yellow plums-urban food forageThe more time we spend using whole food ingredients, the more curious we become of their source and qualities.  We may begin to ask questions such as -

“How do eggplants grow?”

“Can I eat the green tops of carrots?”

“What can grape leaves be used for?”

“Are those mulberries?”

Our curiosity for nature and an urge to explore these questions is a path towards connecting us back into nature.  One of the most natural ways to do this is through food. Now, we don’t all have to rush to live on a rural farm with a small permaculture food garden and chickens running around.  There are many ways to understand and connect back to nature from right where we live.

According to Carolyn Steele, our cities have been shaped through food.  So the way I see it, we can continue to shape our cities in a positive eco-friendly design by the way we choose to eat.  One simple way to connect to your natural urban surroundings is to explore the opportunity to urban food forage.  Urban food foraging is an act by simply exploring the natural surroundings in your neighbourhood i.e. parks, sidewalks, tree-lined street, and learning to observing and identify the plants and trees that grow in order to harvest them responsibly (i.e. leave some for your neighbours).  This is a step in becoming a local food gatherer-forager.

Ishay Govender-Ypma from Food and the Fabulous asked me to give some tips for foraging wild foods in our urban environment for the lifestyle and travel in-flight magazine Juice

This is what I had to say:

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1.  Go on an ‘urban safari’ in your neighborhood. Research the leaves, fruit and herbs you pick at home before you eat anything.

2. Accompany an experienced friend or guide.

3. Think of urban landscapes as a living and growing food farm.  As your confidence grows, you’ll become in tune with the cycles and seasons.

4. Visit local nurseries to familiarise yourself with the plants, in order to aid identification.

5. Borrow or buy a glossary of herbs or indigenous plants.

6. Educated yourself by attending talks and workshops.

7. Contact your municipality to plant common food trees in local parks such as fig, pomegranate, waterberry, and wild olive.

8. Start with easily identifiable herbs like rosemary and lavender. Use them in salves and strain in hot water.

9.  Avoid high traffic areas that are often sprayed with chemicals

10. Always wash plants/fruits before you prepare them.

Read the full article, Local Hunter-Gatherers,  and learn about the chef Shaun Schoeman of Solms-Delta, Mushroom cultivator Gary Goldman, and Cape Town foragers, Charles Standing and Loubie Rusch.

Do you have any more tips to add from your wild food foraging adventures?  Please share!

The Culinary Linguist-urban-food-pomegrantes-cape town

AthenaLamberis-wildplums

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stay tuned for a local urban food – hunter – gatherer challenge! culinary-linguist-connect-back to nature through food

Inspiring Food Projects: Eco-Innovations

In Recipe on August 12, 2013 at 14:07

The more we think about innovative projects, the more we have to learn from nature.  These food projects use what our planet already has to offer and supports inspiring and positive thinking for world.

  1. Cardboard to Caviar Project (the ABLE project)
  2. Sahara Forest Project 
  3. Veta La Palma
  4. Incredible Edible Todmorden

Cardboard to Caviar

 After watching a talk from Michael Pawlyn, I was inspired by the way we can create fascinating closed loop recycling systems that mimic nature and provide opportunities for re-thinking our world. Eco-Innovation at it’s best.

 What are closed loop recycling systems?  It is when we take waste products and uses those as fuel or a provision for the next stage in the system/cycle.  As nature does, the closed loop system is interconnected with energy source paths that essentially trace back to solar energy as the primary producer.  It is a way of thinking to tackle various waste management problems and turn them into a lucrative schemes.

 Known as the Cardboard to Caviar Project , Graham Wiles, manager of The Green Business Network coordinated a closed loop system (also known as cradle to cradle) from a common waste product (cardboard boxes) and turned it into a high value end product (caviar), which is then sold back to the original producer of waste (restaurants). 

 

How it works:

  1. The restaurant pays Mr Wiles to take away their cardboard boxes, which he then shreds.
  2. The Stables pay Mr Wiles to provide them with horse bedding, ideally shredded cardboard.
  3. The Stables then pays Mr Wiles to take away the spent horse bedding, which he then feeds to worms to compost.
  4. The worms are then fed to sturgeon, which produce caviar. This is the most expensive stage in the cycle.
  5. The restaurant then pays Mr Wiles for his high end caviar, and also to take away their cardboard boxes…

Source and More here: http://algalbiomass.weebly.com 

http://www.incredible-edible-wakefield.co.uk/index.cgi?page=46&div=43

 

Sahara Forest Project 

 

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pic from Exploration Architecture

  The planned project would use solar power to evaporate salt water, generating cool air and pure water thereby allowing food to be grown. 

 The installations of solar power mirrors and greenhouses would turn deserts into lush patches of vegetation, according to its designers, and without the need to dig wells for fresh water.

Plants cannot grow in deserts because of the extreme temperatures and lack of nutrients and water. Charlie Paton, one of the Sahara Forest team and the inventor of the seawater greenhouse concept, said his technology was a proven way to transform arid environments.

 

Source: http://www.seawatergreenhouse.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sahara_Forest_Project

source: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2008/sep/02/alternativeenergy.solarpower

 

 Veta La Palma

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Extensive aquaculture benefits birdlife. Source: Herminio Muñiz

 

  An Aquaculture Farm that is home to over 200 species of migratory birds and produces tons of sea bass, red mullet and shrimp that are fed on the biodiversity of the environment.  Once barren land, valley, Veta La Palma produces fish that are not fed by farmers, but rather grown organically on the nutrients of the natural ecosystem that has been restored.  Many fish farms are fed from the waste of other food industries, like poultry.  This one relies on nature’s system.

  

 

 Incredible Edible Todmorden

 http://www.ecoagriculture.org/case_study.php?id=77

Sustainable food, Sustainable education, Sustainable learning. The town of Todmorden and their incredible edible aim has created locally grown food in city soil, in water and builds cross curriculum links for people to be connected by the one thing we have in common: food.

http://www.incredible-edible-todmorden.co.uk/links

http://www.incredible-edible-todmorden.co.uk/

http://www.incredibleedibleaquagarden.co.uk/

 

  All these projects motivate forward thinking to a better and more innovative world. 

  For more food topics like this visit the Facebook page: The Culinary Linguist.

Baklava Recipe of Hellenic Cuisine Cook book – Detroit, MI

In Recipe, Stories on July 8, 2013 at 11:45

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The Culinary Linguist Baklava from Hellenic Cuisine

Baklava from Hellenic Cuisine
pic by http://www.foundmichigan.org/
Copyright 1956 Sts. Constantine and Helen Book Fund 4801 Oakman Boulevard Detroit, Michigan

It started with an urgent recipe book search, followed by a Whatsapp message to my mom,

“Hey, I’m making baklava and was thinking about yiayia’s recipe book.  Did you give me a copy?”

My Yiayia Christina was a legendary cook.  It’s a family fact that Yiayia and Thea Toula (her younger sister) were a culinary force.  They created delicious Greek food feasts for our families, fed generations and instilled life lessons like great food is made with love (and a whole lot of butter or olive oil).   Their culinary contributions are found in the 1956 recipe book, Hellenic Cuisine, created in Detroit, MI.  You can read more about the history here.

This collection of Greek culinary tradition displays the way women of St. Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Church in Detroit raised funds to make change in their community.

The culinary memory of my Yiayia and Thea live on when I recreate a recipe inspired by them.  Making baklava this past weekend was one of those moments.

It transported me back to the kitchen counters of my childhood, painting melted butter on phyllo sheets and chewing on raw phyllo dough when my mom wasn’t looking.  I always loved the way each baklava diamond was adorned with a clove and that eating baklava for breakfast was totally acceptable. :)

The honey drenched crunch of baked baklava even featured at our wedding.  My mother-in-law had a baklava tasting party to make sure the best one was shared with our family and friends.

To recreate baklava in South Africa meant we adapted a recipe to the ingredients we had available.

We substituted walnuts with ground up cashew, almond, brazil nut and pumpkin seeds.  Raisins and cranberries were chopped in the food processor because we were lazy to pick them all out of the trail nut mix.  Instead of using any sugar, we decided to use a honey and farm butter mixture to paint on the phyllo layers.

We even added organic rose water to the mixture from our friend’s at Kuhestan Farm.  I couldn’t resist dipping uncooked phyllo strips in the honey, butter, rose water mixture while lining the pans with all the ingredients.

In addition to the baklava layers in a pan, I rolled some into baklava cigars for variation of shapes.

In the throws of making the sweet layered masterpiece, my mom sent an adapted recipe from the Hellenic Cuisine cook book that my dad claims,  “Jackie Kennedy had a copy.”

In sharing this recipe with you, I hope you get a chance to make baklava and evolve it to your heart’s desire.

Experimenting with tradition creates new memories.

The Culinary LInguist Baklava Recipe

The Culinary Linguist Baklava Recipe Hellenic Cuisine

Mom’s email:

   By popular demand, here is the baklava recipe:
This is the family’s secret recipe but what the heck, if you don’t share good things what else can we share…..

                       Baklava Recipe

5         cups of walnuts, pecans, pistachio or a combination of two or more
( your choice of what you like best, I like walnuts and pistachio)
3/4      cups of sugar
2 T      Cinnamon
1 T       Allspice
2          Phyllo Sheets
1          Lb. sweet butter (yes, 4 sticks – do not cheat on this, otherwise the
ghosts of the past yiayia’s will haunt you)

Blend first 5 ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

Spray oil or brush butter a large 15 by 25 inch pan
Apply a sheet of phyllo and butter
Butter 6 more sheets of phyllo and then begin to sprinkle nut mixture between every 2 layers of phyllo until all nut mixture is finished.
Keep 5 to 6 pieces of phyllo for top layer
Cut excess phyllo from edge (leaving 1/2 inch) and fold outside edge under and slice whole Baklava into individual pieces (first rows lengthwise and then diagonally across rows).  Apply 1 clove onto center of each piece.  It looks NICE that way.  Plus it adds some flavor.
Bake in 325 degree oven for about 1 hour.
Make syrup while Baklava bakes.

Syrup:
1  cup water
1 1/2 cups sugar
Bring to boil and simmer for 5 minutes

Or,

Add:
1/4 to 1/2  cup honey And water (after you make it couple of times, you will know which strength of sweetness you would prefer)
Simmer for 5 more minutes

Add:
1   T. Vanilla
1   T. Lemon Juice, 1t of rind
Simmer for 2 minutes

When Baklava is removed from oven immediately spread the piping hot syrup ( it should sizzle)
Allow to cool and store covered in cool place for up to 1 week.

This is the dessert you want to share, or invite your friends for a sweet party.

When I was young and energetic, I used to make 5 pans of Baklava and have a Christmas cookie exchange.  This dessert was the favorite and the fastest to go.

Carry on the tradition, but don’t wait for Christmas.  It is good anytime.  Great with Greek/Turkish coffee too.
Enjoy in Good Health and Good Spirits!
Maria

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Hellenic Cuisine cook book baklava pinwheels, The Culinary Linguist

Hellenic Cuisine cook book baklava pinwheels, The Culinary Linguist

The Culinary Linguist-Hellenic Cuisine

The Hellenic Cuisine cookbook seeks to preserve the culinary traditions of ancient and modern Greece. With well over 300 recipes arranged by category, direction have been simplified for the American kitchen. The book blends new and old. Scores of the recipes were submitted in the Greek language and translated.

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