Athena Lamberis

Archive for the ‘Stories’ Category

The history of your Favorite Foods: Pizza, Ice cream . . .

In Stories, Travel on November 3, 2014 at 18:30
 So how do we track back in time to find the origins, the stories of how our favorite foods began?
  Who put fortunes in cookies and tomato sauce on spaghetti?
 Food pairings and cultural dishes have a long history.  From spice trades, to climate regions, culinary history continues to evolve.  Natural food traditions complement what was in season – what was in season also supports exactly what our immune system and our overall physical nutritional health.
 Steamed winter greens such as spinach drizzled with olive oil and a lot of lemon juice is a Greek food staple known as Horta.   If the greens were eaten with cheese or just salt, for example, you wouldn’t get the benefit of  absorbing the high levels of Calcium and Iron in the vegetable.  When lemon juice or other foods high in Vitamin C are added to the greens, this assists the body for absorption – plus spinach is delicious with lemon juice anyway! Win-win.
So that’s just the nutritional side . . . on the history side, this info-graphic produced by Cheapflights.ca tells it how it is.  Anthropology of Food . . . .  I love it!  Appetite for variety – I celebrate all things real food.  Enjoy!
the history behind your favourite foods 53cd2cdd68e9e w640 How and Where the Worlds Most Beloved Foods Started (INFOGRAPHIC)

Sushi photo (slider) via Shutterstock

Film Food – Documentary Stories of Cocoa, Life in Chocolate.

In Stories on August 1, 2014 at 22:35

First taste of chocolate.  Do you remember?  Remember the joy of opening a chocolate bar?

A journalist recently visited Cocoa farmers to film their first taste of chocolate.

Their reaction reminded me of the stories revealed by young child worker’s on cocoa farms in Ivory Coast in the Documentary: Semi-Sweet.

Re-post of a film review about the stories around the cocoa bean and chocolate. 

It’s 37 degrees in Paris while Patrick Roger’s chocolateir workshop is busy transporting his sculpture of a Orangutan made of chocolate.

Chocolate melts at 37 degrees, the same as our body’s temperature.  Roger explains: “Chocolate acts the way we do . . . It’s a love story.”  Roger’s story amongst others features in the food documentary: Semi-Sweet, Life in Chocolate.

Image It’s African premiere at the Durban International Film Festival gave viewers the chance to travel to three continents and hear multiple perspectives around the complex chocolate sphere.  The director, Michael Allcock and producer, Lalita Krishna immersed themselves in the art, politics, production and conflicting ideals on the chocolate coated topic. This documentary took four years to find the most compelling tales that showcase our relationships within the world of Chocolate.

“Someone promised us a better life  . . . And because of that we almost lost ours,” are the words from the young girls who chose to leave their home in Mali.  Many children are recruited to cross the border into Cote d’Ivoire for the promise of earning money on the cacao plantations.

Cote d’Ivoire produces nearly half of the world’s cacao and most are collected by the hands of young children. The film showcases the stories of youth who were lured by plantation recruiters to earn money that they could never imagine attaining if they stayed in their villages of Burkina Faso or Mali.  Most youths that chose to escape to a empty promise land lose their lives due to the conditions on the fields.  80% of pesticides used on the fields are banned in most countries and poison the workers, amongst other working hazards.

A young man who had survived the harsh conditions on the plantations was given some chocolate to taste after he confessed “Frankly, I do not know what they use cacao for.”

It reminded me of an image that speaks so clearly to what their stories portrayed:

Bustart image via GetGroundedTV

From the plantation field, “If you get tired, it’s not like you can rest.  There’s a quota and you have to get it.”

The film’s powerful choice to reveal the stories of these young workers allows viewers and activists to wake up to the real effect of consumer power, money and the faceted influence it has on lives that live close to the natural resource.

The truths of gross labour from the voices of these children reveal the dichotomy of youth that collect chocolate from pinatas, Halloween bags and Christmas stockings.

The film introduces the world of Hershey, Pennsylvania where Milton Hershey built a fictitious world that breeds naive ignorance since 1903.  Interviews with Hershey’s Public Relations and Marketing Managers expose a honest oblivion to the effects of mass corporate consumerism.  Hershey’s profile plays an interesting role in the film, as the town anthropomorphizes into both a naive narrow-minded child and the enabling greedy Uncle.

Sip through the jetstreams to Northern Ontario, Haliburton and your eyes and ears feast on the poetry of Ron and Nadine, raw food enthusiasts and producers of raw handmade chocolate concoctions of Living Libations.    “. . . They played and played until nectar was made.” exclaims Ron and his confessions of love for his craft.  Light-heartedly, I giggled during scenes of him marketing their ‘out of this world’ chocolate, to the NASA caterers for moon missions.  David Wolfe visits their Secret Land of Is, and dives into the food history of cacao, the value it had as currency until 1886 and the health benefits of this concentrated anti-oxidant tree.

Semi-sweet is Culinary Linguistics at the heart-using media to illustrate the language of chocolate that highlight the diverse realities on such a valuable food resource.  This is a great film to add to the top must-see food documentaries that evoke awareness and call for change.

Any suggestions of films, please share.   Here are some nice lists on great food sites: Lettuce Eat Kale, The Good Human

How to Eat and Think about Bug Grub: A Taste of Entomophagy

In Friend's Kitchens, Recipe, Stories on June 25, 2014 at 16:08

Would you ever say, “I’m a Entomo-tarian and love crickets roasted and tossed in sea salt and cayenne pepper and covered in chocolate?”

How to eat crickets -recipe

Chocolate covered Crickets at Soma Confection Laboratories. Pic by Heather Thompson

Considering bugs as grub gives way for the future of Pestaurants, cricket flour protein bars and stinkbug snacks being served in city centres across the globe.

With two other curious minds, adventurous taste buds and a love for food (with wings), we nibbled on cricket parts and chocolate-covered nosh once living in the wild.  Conversations about insect anatomy, and the future of entomophagy, got me thinking on the topic of the fast frozen-once-hopping jimineys.

My love for “how to” and DIY in culinary arts has led me to simmering  Mopani worms and foraging fresh sea vegetables. It’s my quest for promoting variety in our appetites, being a MacGyver in the kitchen and working with what you have and what is presented to you.  But will the high in protein, beneficial fatty acids, essential vitamins and micronutrients in insects become primary ingredients in our morning porridge?  I can see a future in dipping celery sticks in smoked paprika chickpea grasshopper pâté .

When will people from different hemispheres be sharing bug-eating habits?  Will you eat insects from your garden instead of using insecticide?

 Insects as a food source has been practiced for many generations in various parts of the world, and people are beginning to see past the gross factor.

Environmentally, insects take up less space, reproduce at a faster rate and have a better feed-to-meat ratio when compared to cattle and other alternative meat sources such as ostrich, goat, and pork.  Insects for human consumption could help in solving a wide range of ecological, economic and health related issues and concerns in our world of food production and nutrition.

But will you add it to your grocery list?

Will you start farming organic crickets instead of building a chicken coop?

As we continue to urbanise but become more wise and sovereign in our food choices, this may be your answer.

And people keep asking me, “So what do crickets taste like?”

This batch was a crispy, smokey grass with a chilli-chocolate punch in your mouth.  But if you’re looking to build your muscles, beetles are your super power protein source.

Stay tuned for Entomo – recipes as we expand our culinary linguistics together:  A Chocolate Confectioner, Agroecologist and a Culinary Nomad.  If you are chomping at the bit:  Eat a Bug Cookbooks are already on the shelves at an Amazon near you.

entomophagy in chocolate and spices How to eat crickets in chocolate -#theculinarylinguist

Crickets collected by AgroEcologist/Entomophager: Zayaan Khan.

How do crickets taste like in chocolate -#theculinarylinguist

Pop, Crunch and Chocolate with a side of Coco-nutty bar chocolate bar.

How to identify and pick wild edible mushrooms in Cape Town, South Africa

In Events, Stories, Travel on June 4, 2014 at 12:31

 

“Is there rain and gale force winds on your side?”

“No.”

“Okay, then we’ll meet you at the forest gate at 7:15”

How to identify and pick wild edible mushrooms in Cape Town, South Africa Gary Mushroom Guru

Gary Goldman, the mushroom Guru of Cape Town, South Africa

In Cape Town, winter brings sloshy puddles and leaf layers on the forest floor.  Mushrooms, like stars fallen from the galaxy, pop out of the ground in diverse shapes, forms, colours and size.  This time from the first rains is when foragers, explorers, mushroom hunters spot various of funghi for identification, observation and if lucky, consumption.

The rain was still drizzling outside our home in Vredehoek while we drove with our hound, Enzo, to the Cecilia Forest in Cape Town.  Brushed with a dark blue, the sky opened to the morning sun once we found our meeting place where Gary Goldman, the mushroom guru was waiting.  Dreams of porcini, pine-rings and new forms of fungi were planted in our minds.  What did the forest hold, and what were we going to find?

 

How to identify and pick wild edible mushrooms in Cape Town, South Africa Gary Mushroom Guru

Cecelia Forest – mushroom foraging with Gary

We carried baskets, pocket knives, and boldness onto the lower slopes of Table Mountain Reserve, with the comfort of having a teacher, Gary, to guide use through our questions of the forage.  The dogs sensed excitement-the fresh smells fueled the pack to go in front of the path.  Chris joined the front, and just over the barb-wire fence, what looked like a brown leaf was twisted out from the earth.  The first find of the day was a porcini treasure, fragrant, firm and joyfully gathered.

 

How to identify and pick wild edible mushrooms in Cape Town, South Africa-Chris Mason

Chris found the winter delight! Fresh porcini mushroom.

Slippery logs laid in our path and speckled leaves lined the moving forest streams-more winter delights came in all different shapes and sizes as we weaved pass the gum tree forests and into pine, cork oak and poplar tree sections.  What looked like a brown wood owl flew past us as we continued to collect poplar boletus, porcini, pine-rings and learned to identify a variety of parasite (grows on/from organic-living) and saphrophyte (grows on dead organic material) fungi. After two hours in the forest, my eyes became more aware of mycelia on trees and different fungi characteristics.  I was beginning to confidently identify and learn distinctive features of about various mushrooms-my favorite being the saffron-coloured water that stains your hands when you squeeze a pine rings vs ‘a little brown mushroom.’

How to identify and pick wild edible mushrooms in Cape Town, South Africa

Filling the basket with porcini, poplar boletus and pine rings. Anything with a sponge under the mushroom cap in the Western Cape is edible.

How to identify and pick wild edible mushrooms in Cape Town, South Africa Mycellium

Mycellium on the tree – a part of the fungi web

Gumtree Forests How to identify and pick wild edible mushrooms in Cape Town, South Africa

Gumtree forests – many common edible mushrooms do not prefer this type of environment

As we left the forest with happily-filled baskets, I was in awe of the complexity and beauty nature holds in a delicate yet robust web.  With every step into our natural world, I learn more about how our environments flourish and where our food comes from.  Proper identification, with desired aroma and taste adds a world of medicinal and culinary uses of mushrooms to my culinary linguistics. It’s been dated back to B.C. China, of humans foraging for mushrooms for added sustenance during winter months.  I added another day to an ancient practice of mushroom eating history (mychophagy).  Today, with the appetite for variety and with the help of a mushroom guru – I became a fungivore-survived and nourished.

How to identify and pick wild edible mushrooms in Cape Town, South Africa

Cork Oak trees – Mushrooms loves to grow under pine, poplar and oak trees.

Cinnabar-How to identify and pick wild edible mushrooms in Cape Town, South Africa

A type of Cinnabar – medicinal mushroom.

How to identify and pick wild edible mushrooms in Cape Town, South Africa-porcini

Porcini mushroom cut length wise

Laughing Jims (hallucinogen) How to identify and pick wild edible mushrooms in Cape Town, South Africa

Laughing Jims – hallucinogenic

Turkey Tail - How to identify and pick wild edible mushrooms in Cape Town, South Africa

Turkey Tail mushroom- a bracket fungi-used as a medicinal tea since 15th century. Used as an alternative for chemotherapeutic medicines and radiation therapy. Grows on dead logs (saphrophyte)

saphrophyte

How to identify and pick wild edible mushrooms in Cape Town, South Africa

Often Gary identifies some mushrooms by slicing it in half to see the color inside.

How to identify and pick wild edible mushrooms in Cape Town, South Africa

Another medicinal mushroom that grows on living trees.

How to identify and pick wild edible mushrooms in Cape Town, South AfricaHow to identify and pick wild edible mushrooms in Cape Town, South Africa

Gary Mushroom man How to identify and pick wild edible mushrooms in Cape Town, South Africa

My dog Lorenzo having too much fun skipping over mushrooms and logs.

How to identify and pick wild edible mushrooms in Cape Town, South Africa

Eager foragers in the Cecelia Forest

How to Harvest Seaweed: Superfood Nutrition from our Ocean

In Events, Friend's Kitchens, Recipe, Stories, Travel on May 16, 2014 at 13:44
Nutritional Benefits of Seaweed: Recipes and How To Harvest

Nutritional Benefits of Seaweed Some seaweed varieties on the Cape Peninsula


Nutritional Benefits of Seaweed: Recipes and How To Harvest

 

   Edible Sea Vegetable: SeaWeed

confess, my kitchen turns into edible science experiments almost every day. Seaweed is my new ingredient in the kitchen lab. Once you get to know the nutritional facts and the familiar taste of popcorn it has when nori (a type of seaweed) is roasted on the fire, then you’ll definitely give this superfood a chance.  When I first moved to Cape Town, I was mesmerised by the huge kelp forests that were washed onto the shorelines.  On low tides, I observed the variety of seaweeds that clung to the rocks and naturally wondered, “Can we eat that?”  You’ve probably already have if you’ve gone to a sushi joint or visit the snack aisle at an Asian supermarket.  When we see an ingredient in it’s natural state – outside of a food product/market/restaurant, we’re often surprised by how it grows, what it looks like and what it may actually taste like?  This is what I call the spark of our own natural whole food education, also known as the moment when our culinary linguistics expand.  I’m a self proclaimed phyco-nerd. Phycology: Greek φῦκος, phykos, “seaweed”; and -λογία, -logia) is the scientific study of algae and was so happy to find fellow wild food foragers on the Cape Peninsula.

Beyond Basic Nutrition: Seaweed Benefits

Contains vitamin B12 (which is rarely found in plants)

  • Rich in iron, potassium, magnesium, zinc, manganese (overall 13 vitamins, 20 amino acids, 60 trace mineral elements)
  • Highest source of plant protein and zero calories
  • It’s fiber is helpful for the digestive system, making you feel full and satiated
  • Contains iodine which aids the function of the thyroid to release iodine in our blood to help prevent disease.  Our bodies don’t make iodine so we have to get it through our food – why not seaweed?
  • Reduces water retention and contains higher levels of calcium than beef and cow’s milk
  • Natural occurring sodium that resembles human amniotic fluid
  • Alkalinizes and purifies blood as it’s chemical composition is similar to the plasma in human blood
  • Optimum nourishment for hormonal, lymphatic, urinary and nervous systems

Marine Flora: Wild and Crazy? 

  I was honestly hesitant to harvest seaweed in South Africa before doing a bit of research.   I needed a bit of local knowledge to boost my confidence and to verify that I wasn’t the only crazy who wondered about eating ocean algae.  If people in other parts of the world have seaweed-based cuisine, why aren’t we eating it here?  Has there ever been a history of it in South Africa?  Stay tuned for more about that in a future post.

Nutritional Benefits of Seaweed: Recipes and How To Harvest  I took my mom, one of my favorite foragers for whole foods, to Scarborough to learn more about the beautiful seaweed varieties available for us to harvest responsibly.  In the quest of learning to harvest wild food, you also develop a respect and knowledge for conserving the ocean environment.  I’ve found that becoming more aware of what makes a healthy flourishing balanced ecosystem allows me to make more educated decisions about harvesting and foraging wild foods in nature.

 Some Foraging Facts

Nutritional Benefits of Seaweed: Recipes and How To Harvest

Seaweed skin mask

Nutritional Benefits of Seaweed: Recipes and How To Harvest

Wrack-the beginnings of seaweed coleslaw

Nutritional Benefits of Seaweed: Recipes and How To Harvest

Scarborough coastline in Western Cape, South Africa

Nutritional Benefits of Seaweed: Recipes and How To Harvest

Rinsing and preparing after the harvest

The Good Hope Nursery in Scarbororgh did such a great job in creatively sharing their experience in sustainably harvesting, tasting and creating with ocean seaweed.  It was great to ask questions while enjoying the cosmetic and nutritional benefits of this sea vegetable.  We were greeted on the shoreline with seaweed scones and spoke about the red, green and brown varieties of seaweed below our feet.  Snippets of seaweed varieties such as kelp, wrack and ulva were gathered to ensure regrowth, conservation and abundance for our ecosystem (about 1/3 of what was growing on the rock near the tideline.) No random bits of floating seaweed was harvested, only healthy clean varieties that were attached to ocean rocks.

Edible Science: Seaweed Recipes

 Since that positive coastal foraging experience, I’ve been able to share what I’ve learned along the way, convincing brave and even unadventurous eaters to enjoy the tasty healthy benefits of sea vegetables.  On a recent trip to Elandsbaai, we harvested, rinsed and tossed nori in a bit of olive oil before placing it on a wood-burning fire.  The result was super flakey, crunchy, tasty green seaweed snack.  Get creative and incorporate seaweed in any of your favorite recipes for extra added health benefits. I’d love to hear more about what you discover.

Seaweed Recipes: Superfood Nutrition from the Ocean

Nutritional Benefits of Seaweed: Recipes and How To Harvest

Good Hope Nursery’s Chocolate Agar Agar and Candied Kelp with Ice Cream. YUM! Sign up for their foraging course.

Nutritional Benefits of Seaweed: Recipes and How To Harvest

That’s me in total seaweed face mask bliss. Rejuvenate, revitalise. Is there nothing seaweed can’t do?

Nutritional Benefits of Seaweed: Recipes and How To Harvest

A young culinary linguist exploring the texture of kelp. Wait for bath time! Yes, with seaweed:)

Nutritional Benefits of Seaweed: Recipes and How To Harvest

Seaweed couscous salad, mussels, kelp and avocado salad, wrack coleslaw . . . the feast continues.

Resources:

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:

Image

Image

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

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

______________________

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.

Real Food Foraging in our Urban edible landscapes.

In Events, Stories, Travel on May 23, 2013 at 16:08

The Culinary Linguist |  Urban ForagingReal food foraging is taking Freetarian tactics to a whole other edible landscape.  It’s not about rummaging through the grocery store’s dump site or scrapping bubblegum off the concrete.  Real food foraging is a learned art: It bridges culinary knowledge, environmental awareness and plant/fungus identification to your own edible advantage.  Growing up with a Greek mom means you are always fed, and digest a lot of culinary knowledge.  One of the innovative skills I learned from her was how to identify food on every corner.  Besides knowing where to eat the best gyros pita, I learned at a young age to identify and protect our urban edible landscapes. The Culinary Linguist |  Urban Foraging

From sidewalk cracks to grassy patches, my Mom taught me that pulling weeds out of the ground could lead to a tasty Vitamin K and A rich dish of boiled lemony greens.  She loved that fact that we never had to buy dandelion greens from Dominick’s-we had them in our city’s backyard.   We lived close to Evanston’s train tracks and Chicago’s Canal.  When developers wanted to build condos there, we got involved and protested.  I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but saving the small forests meant saving the trees I loved to pick mulberries from and preserving a forest floor playground of my youth.

The Culinary Linguist | Save Forests and Urban Forage Save Forests

Living in Cape Town, South Africa reveals a whole new world to me.  In terms of real food urban foraging, it’s bountiful.  We went to Green Renaissance’s curated talk about foraging in our City.  The four speakers shared their local knowledge of each edible landscape they frolick in: Ocean, Urban, Wild, Garden, and Forest.

I’ve posted some tasty recipes in the past about Wild and Real Food Foraging with Mulberries, Grape Vine leaves, Num Nums (Natal Plum), Mushrooms, Mopane Worms, Pomegranates, Prickly Pear and Wild Olive leaves but after the talk on Thursday, I got re-inspired to explore the coastlines and forests of Cape Town’s wild and fertile city setting. The Culinary Linguist |  Urban Foraging

Making Kos‘ Loubie Rusch shared her in-depth botanical knowledge including her tasty jams, jelly and cordial made from indigenious and wild foods around the city.  We came home with Fennel and Wildeals as a generous gift from Bridget Kitley’s Herb Nursery to add to our growing herbal medicine cabinent: the garden.  I nibbled on some sea lettuce from Julian Mori’s portable seawater aquarium and after the talk, we fried porcini and boletus in butter as a tasty snack from Gary Goldman’s mushroom escapades under the pines and poplar of Cape Town’s forests.  Green Renaissance made 30 second inserts of nettle, chestnut and waterblommetjie harvests and recipes along with tips and ideas of how to forage them ourselves, along with a dried porcini gift bag for our attendance.  I was a happy forager foraging the forage talk!

The Culinary Linguist | Figs and Urban Forage The next day, I walked our dog, Lorenzo, through DeWaal park and saw the Waterberry tree was bursting with ripe fruit.  Instead of them staining the concrete in their own natural graffiti style, I will be picking them next time for some Waterberry cordial on these balmy autumn afternoons.

So far, I am happy with Vredhoek/Gardens foraging landscape:

pomegranates, avocados, lemons, guavas, figs can be found just a short walking distance from our house.

Our own garden provides comfrey which can be used for EVERYTHING!  Chris makes tea, and a great salve. Let the learning continue HERE 

 

Green Renaissance-Be Inspired to Forage in your City

How to Cure your Own Olives in Brine: Greek Yiayia Style

In Recipe, Stories on April 25, 2013 at 19:45

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The Culinary Linguist-Homemade-How to Cure Olives-Pickle and Marinate

Olives in Athen’s Greece Farmer’s Market

 

Mom would say, “Only eat 8 olives a day, honey.”  But it was too easy to devour the salty Grecian delights by the dozen. With crusty brown sourdough bread and green virgin olive oil on a flat side plate, nothing satisfied me more than eating Yiayia’s Kalamatas olives in the middle of Chicago’s winter.  To this day, I have a plate solely dedicated to olives and their pips and snack on these pickled fruits year round (and still by the dozen).

Growing up, I’d spin the bottom  shelf of the  cupboard to reveal  Yiayia’s hand-picked, home-cured Kalamata olives.  Purple, green and maroon olives floated in one gallon glass jars of oregano, thyme, vinegar and oil.  As a kid, I was powerlifting  the heavy 2 gallon olive jar off the bottom shelf and onto the counter in order to dip my tiny fingers into the oil and vinegar brine to search for the juiciest olives.  As I got older, I’d use an oversized spoon to fish for the tangiest Kalamatas, and strain the brine from the spoon to reveal my bite-size snacks.  When May arrived, it got harder for the spoon to fish for olives at the bottom of the jar.  I’d spend the whole year snacking on the cured fruits and diminished our Greek food provisions we would smuggle in from Greece.  The empty olive jar was an indicator that it wouldn’t be long before we would pack our dresses and sandals for the summer at Yiayia’s house.  Mom would pack a suitcase within a suitcase when we travelled to Athens.  In August, we would return to Chicago with more olives to fill the jar, and enough oregano to make the beagles sniff us out as drug smugglers.

Now, when May arrives I pick 10-20 kilos of Mission Olives around Cape Town, South Africa.  My childhood love for enjoying home-cured olives, fills my own cupboards with a cultural joy and salty olive treats to share in memory of my grandmother’s tradition.

Every step of the curing processes makes me wonder of when and how people discovered this ancient practice.

My Grandparents in Greece, 1930-40', Athena and Elias

My Grandparents, Yiayia Athena and Papou Elias Soupos

My Greek grandmother Athena culinary traditions

Greek love under the olive groves

Mission Olives in South Africa on Francolin Farm

Mission olives growing on branches in South Africa

Was it Athena’s olive tree branch that broke off during an autumn storm?  The branch that fell into the river bed and carried it for weeks into the salty estuary of Poseidon’s sea.  For weeks it may have soaked along the shores until a small family fishing boat arrived near Kalamata and came across the curing olive fruit branch floating in the water.  If they tasted the divine harmony of the Greek Gods’ elements and discovered that the olive fruit tree was not just best for oil, wood and shade, but for it’s fruit too, then let that be the start of a nourishing tradition.

I have been learning about the whole benefits of the olive tree itself recently when I’m not making up mythological stories of food origins. 🙂

With all its rich phytonutrients and phytochemicals (phyto stems from the Greek word-plant), the medicinal compounds from the leaves, fruit, roots and stems, play a major role in fighting bacterial and viral infections/disease as well as boosting the immune system to prevent and treat flus and colds.  The olive tree’s ancient medicinal presence is found in many religious texts such as the Qu’ran, Torah and Bible, and continues to feature in Internal Medicine Journals today.

The oleuropein (the bitter substance in olives) has been founded to inactivate bacteria, and display a number of other benefits in pharmacology research.  Essentially, it is an herbal powerhouse effective for infectious and chronic health conditions.  I like to use olive leaf extract or make olive leaf tea as a preventive agent in my overall health.  Olive leaves are now a staple in my cupboard alongside cured olives. I’ve found ways to use olive leaves in many everyday uses by sprinkling the leaves in salads, porridge, soups, and breads.  Don’t be surprised if I post an Olive leaf smoothie in the near future. I promise it wont be bitter!

For now, I would like to share some delicious combinations of flavours I’ve added to my curing olives over the years.

But first, there are a variety of ways to cure olives.  Check out the Australian Olive Grower Issue #4 for some inspiration.

For the past three years, I have been roughly following a water bath recipe given to me by Francolin Farm.

1. After picking your olives, place rinsed olives in a net bag (the ones you store onion’s  with) and put into a bucket and cover with water. Don’t pack olives too tightly and take care not to bruise them.  I place my olives in a cooler box because it has a spout I can lift open to let the water drain. Some people save water by placing the olives on top of the toilet basin where fresh water gets drained everytime you flush.  Others just fill their bathtub and drain it daily.  It would be nice to find some use for your greywater (olive water) in your garden.  If water shortage is an issue, fill jars with 50% salt and 50% olives.  Gently turn and toss olive jars daily for 2-3 weeks.  Rinse salt and fill jars again with 1 part salt and 10 parts water (see below for olive marinade flavours.)

2. Change water once or twice daily for 2-3 weeks. Simply lift the net bag with
olives out of the bucket and pour off water and replace in fresh water. Taste after two weeks and continue if it is still too bitter.

3. Dissolve 500 grams coarse salt in 5 litres boiling water. Allow to cool.
This mixture is sufficient for approx 2 ½ kilos of olives. Leave olives in this
brine solution undisturbed for one week. Taste, if bitter replace with fresh
brine solution and leave for a further week.  I like to use non-iodized salt or kosher salt.  The other ratio to use is 1 part salt to 10 parts water.

4. Rinse olives several times with fresh water. Cover with brown vinegar for
24 hours. Pour off vinegar and expose the olives to air overnight or a few hours
till dry.  This brings the colour of the olives back to a deep purple/black.  You may notice they lightened in colour when they were soaking.

4. Pack olives in clean warm sterilized jars. Pour over 25 ml olive oil per
jar. Make a brine of  300 grams coarse salt to 4,5 litres water (or 1:10 ratio). When brine mixture boils pour in 250 ml wine vinegar.  The vinegar is not necessary, but many people love the taste of red wine vinegar instead of the rich olive taste.  The art is getting all flavours to balance, in true Grecian culinary wisdom -Everything in Moderation. Pour hot brine mixture over  . . . . .  But wait!  This is where your creative olive marinade flavours get to feature.

Let your imagination go wild.  In addition to your brine (whether it is the vinegar and salt, or just 1 part salt to 10 part water ratio.  The salt ensures that the olives cure without bacteria growing and spoiling the fruit.  If you notice some white film, don’t stress.  You can scrape it off or leave it to add flavour as some people believe.  Before filling the jars with olives, add your favourite pinches of spice and intuitive amounts for your olives to marinate in. Then, place olives into the jar, filling the jar to the brim. Pour your salt brine over and seal jar immediately whilst the liquid is hot. Some people pour oil over to seal the jar.  This is optional.

Olives in a Moroccan marinade

Olives are tossed in salt, lemon, bay leaves, pickled garlic, and rosemary in a barrel marinade

Some flavour marinades I’ve done in the past:

Smoked Chipolte Chili Powder and Rosemary

Mustard Seeds and Laurel Leaf

Greek Traditional: Lemon Juice, Lemon Rinds, Rosemary and Garlic cloves

Herbaliser: Basil, Oregano, Lemon and Thyme

Nasturtium and Peppadew

Lemongrass and Ginger

Cumin seeds, Cayenne and Lemon

Miso and Ginger

Celery Seeds, Bay Leaf and Tarragon

Sage and Rainbow Peppercorns

Acha Masala

Smoked Paprika and Lemon Slices

Lavender Flowers, Cloves and Cumin

Cardamom, Peppercorn and Cinnamon

Red curry powder and Turmeric

Carraway Seeds, Celery and Carrot

Spices and Herbs to put in Olive marinade

Food as our medicine: Herbs sold at in Athens, Greece Farmer’s Market

Olives sold in Athens, Greece

Different types of Olives: Brined, Pickled, Dried, Salted, Cracked, etc.

Share your olive marinades and enjoy!

Top Ten South African Foods to Try While Visiting South Africa

In Stories, Travel on April 11, 2013 at 14:53

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What do people eat in South Africa? 

I came to study in South Africa, Education, Sociolinguistics and Ethnographic Research to be exact.  After I got accepted into the program, my google searches involved, surfing South Africa, capoeira South Africa and food South Africa.

Firstly, I didn’t know anything about surfing–I grew up in Chicago. I spent summers visiting my Yiayia in Greece and went to university in Michigan the rest of the year where bodies of water were mostly frozen or used for summer water-skiing.  I was pro at balancing on swimming pool floatation devices.  I could also be found getting tan through Adriatic sea reflection on Grecian pebble shorelines.  It was December in East Lansing.  The type of cold that makes your hair grow back inside it’s follicle and remain ingrown until May.  Gore-Tex isn’t just used on Patagonia slopes, it’s essential to wear while you walk to your 10:15 lecture.

Surfing South Africa to me meant warm sub-tropical weather and a romanticized idea of surfing.  Instead of knowing what kinds of waves a surfer like me would surf, I thought the site with South African surf slang was more interesting.  It was a foreign language.  I had no clue or what jargon they were even referring to, so I changed my search terms.  I thought-warm ocean, waves to learn surfing, a new university on the ocean for six months…get fit.  After printing out recommended surf workouts, I quickly learned my shoulders were made for shoveling snow. My paddling could take me around a pond in Michigan, but I didn’t know ocean waves.

So I thought about capoeira.

I didn’t know much about capoeira except that my brother and friends had been going to classes in Chicago for years.   The year before, I went to Rio de Janeiro. I loved to watch and sing in the rodas in Ilha Grande.

Back at MSU, My African Studies class was so broad the only hint of a food/cultural reference to South Africa was the professor’s cravings for Portuguese bakeries in Kwa-Zulu Natal.  When I looked up capoeira, I found a student class, Capoeira Na Praia, at University of KwaZulu Natal. I was excited to play capoeira there since I wasn’t the surfer girl I thought I was. I was the girl who would most likely wear a brasilian bikini and chew sugarcane on the beach while collecting shells to make necklaces. At least I knew I would be getting in on the feijoada fundraising dinners with the capoeira club, but South African food–what is it? What else besides this Portuguese bakery is going to be in South Africa? What delicious foods are in South Africa?

Years later, I’m still learning the many tastes of South African food.  I ended up marrying the surfer who taught me capoeira, who fed me Johnny’s Roti’s at 4am while I made brincadeiros in his mom’s Cypriot kitchen.

I didn’t know much about the food in South Africa when I arrived but I will share with you what I have learned along the way.  There are so many foods that are worth celebrating.  South African Flavour is unique and layered.  The modest list below is just a few staples for any visitor to know and love.

The Culinary Linguist | Boerwors | Food in #SouthAfrica

Top ten foods to try:

  1. Curried sugar bean Bunny chow

It’s beyond what Panera bread company tried to do.  Edible bread bowls at their best plus you could get a history lesson through every bite.  Many generations of Indian labourers sat down and ate that very homemade meal at lunch break during the days of Ghandi’s presence in South Africa.  This food tradition continues today and is found all over the country. The Culinary Linguist | Durban Curry Bunny Chow in South Africa and Recipe

2. Johnny’s Sunrise Rotis/ Mariam’s Salomies

The Culinary Linguist | Gatsby Sandwich | Food in #SouthAfrica

The Gatsby Sandwich Baby Hold. Onlookers are amused or just hungry while they wait for theirs?

The Culinary Linguist | Salomie |  Food in #South Africa

Salomie Bite

Roti’s in some provinces, salomies with puff pastry style wraps in the Western Cape.  Whether it comes with mutton garam masala stew or corn, chips and cheese–order it and love it and ask your favourite local where to get the best.

3.Boerewors on a braai

It’s farmer’s beef sausage. You can get fancy with it and chow it with a roll, but it’s plain perfect off the BBQ, try it with a squeeze of lemon on top while it’s hot.  Get some with cumin or fennel mixed in, or try an ostrich version for variety.

4. Masala steak Gatsby sandwich

Don’t try to finish is alone, this sandwich, like the Johnny’s Roti is large enough to carry in a stroller.  I personally like the Masala steak but the Calamari and Chip Gatsby is scrumptious if you’re by the sea.

5. Sugarcane juice, litchis (lychee) and spicy pineapple

Freshly squeezed on Durban’s beachfront, sugarcane juice with lemon is the way lemonade should taste.  Litchi’s (Lychee) hanging of the trees in December and spicy pineapple on kebab sticks at the beach bring your sunburn to a tickling heat.

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6. Mealie bread (isinkwa sombila)

Help light the firewood, peel the mealies and get to work grinding them into a pulp to add to the flour.  This traditional pot bread is worth working for.

7. Peri-Peri chicken or prawns

So I never found portuguese bakeries that my professor spoke about, but I did learn about Mozambiquean cuisine and African bird’s eye chilis (Peri-Peri or Piri-Piri) is added to heat every bite of your flavourful meal.The Culinary Linguist | Raw Oysters | Food in #SouthAfrica


8. Oysters

Wild Coast, KZN, Knysna, Namibian–makes me want to have a mermaid’s lunch everyday and boost my zinc levels.

9. Samp and Beans (istambu)

A staple and standard that ClifBars should be made of.  Protein and Carbs at their best.

10. Malva pudding

The toffee sticky pudding on most menus at unpretentious South Africa food dives.  With custard or ice cream, or even the store bought Woolworth’s version makes you go ‘mmmmmmmmmmm.’

There are so many more foods to rave about, but these staples are a must for first time South African food tasters.  More lists to come . . .

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