Athena Lamberis

Posts Tagged ‘wild foods’

How to make South African beer – uMqombhothi from Maize Meal

In Friend's Kitchens, Recipe on February 3, 2015 at 19:34

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Sip Sip sippin on uMqombhothi: A nutritious beer made from maize meal which can transform into a sweet or savoury porridge when cooked known as Idokwe. how to make south african beer maize umqombhothi

 The thing is, a recipe is a map – but your destination is your own alchemy.  With naturally fermented foods, it’s an all element creation.  Whether you are in the tropical swamps, humid concrete jungle or a dry desert land, your fermented food/drink will react and grow in different ways (just like my hair does when it rains 🙂
 I’ve got bottles of experiments, from pineapple wine to apple cider scobys growing by the day.  However, uMqombhoti is a recipe to inspire you to learn various food traditions from all over the world while bringing your own kitchen alchemy and culinary linguistics to the table.
South African beer-maize meal umqombhoti idokwe recipe -
 Alongside pineapple and ginger beer, uMqombhoti has an enhanced pungent taste, high in Vitamin B and most often shared communally from a ceramic bowl, gourd or pot used for the fermentation process.  It’s tradition and magic has been celebrated in South African homes for years – so when I asked my friend, @noksangoma to share her method for making one of the famous fermented drinks, she went on to say:
I dont have a ‘recipe’ for umqombhothi, I just follow an intuitive process in preparing it, because nobody actually told me how to make it. My ‘recipe’ is a mix of how my maternal grandmother makes umqombothi and how the eldest wives in my dad’s family make it.

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 Ingredients
maize meal
sorghum – king korn umthombo (green packet)
water
brown sugar (optional)
 How to make South African Maize Beer-Umqombhoti - via The Culinary Linguist
2.
mix equal quantities of imithombo with maize meal.
make a paste using boiling water.
place in a container (a bucket or big jar or jug. preferably use ukhamba, if you dont have a clay one, a plastic one will suffice)
store the mixture on in a dark corner or on the floor. overnight, or for 2 or 3 days – depending on how hot it is.
3.
when the mixture smells a little fermented, boil water in a pot and add the paste slowly while stirring continuously (like how you make custard)
lower the stove’s heat as the mixture thickens. let it simmer for about an hour. once this is cooked, it’s called idokwe and is delicious as a porridge with lots of sugar.
4.
cool idokwe – this may take a few hours.
once cooled down, mix the idokwe with cold water and mush it up with your hand til it’s drinking consistency
the potency of the umqombhothi depends on the magic of your mixing hand. my left hand is my mqombhothi mixing hand. my left side is my grancestor/feminine side – they are with me when I make umqombhothi.
How to make South African Maize Beer-Umqombhoti - via The Culinary Linguist
5.
once youve mixed idokwe with cold water, add more imithombo to the mixture and mix with your hand, and if you wish, some brown sugar to help the fermentation process along 🙂
again, place in a dark corner for about 3 days while it ferments.
6.
once the umqombhothi is fermented, it smells a little pungent, and little bubbles will be popping on the surface
strain the fermented mixture. the solid sorghum bits are called izinsipho. you may freeze a handful of izinsipho to use in a new batch of umqombhothi (izinsipho help to ferment a batch quicker, since theyve already fermented before)
 Food-Recipes-How to make South African Maize Beer-Umqombhoti - via The Culinary Linguist
7.
pour a cupful of umqombhothi as an offering, place in a sacred space in the home. this is for amaDlozi (spirit elders/ancestors/spirit guides)
8.
enjoy the rest!
rules for umqombhothi:
it is considered rude to drink umqombhothi while standing.
umqombhothi is best enjoyed with others. preferably while sitting in a circle, before a meal or after
umqombhothi is used as an offering in ceremonies and rituals. it is an integral part of cultural and spiritual ceremonies.
 Thanks Noks!  xx  Love, The Culinary Linguist

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 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

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

Recipe: How to Make Spring Roll-Nori Wraps

In Recipe on May 19, 2013 at 01:19

The Culinary Linguist | How to make for Spring Roll Nori WrapsThis Nori (seaweed) wrap recipe is an alternative to spring rolls.  It’s perfect for getting a balance of essential vitamins into your diet.  It’s also delicious and beautiful to share at picnics and parties.  It pleases: vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and my dad who likes to live on garlic and lamb chops will even chow these as a snack.

 Be creative with your ingredients and substitute with what you have fresh around you and what’s in season.  I used what was at the farmer’s market and what happened to be growing in the garden, and fresh ingredients already in our kitchen.  Perhaps drinking 8 glasses of water a day isn’t necessary when we eat predominantly fresh and raw meals throughout the day.  This recipe won’t disappoint.

What you need:

 Packet of  10 or more Sushi Nori (Seaweed) Sheets.

Put in a food processor or finely chop:

1 medium sized red pepper

1 medium sized yellow pepper

1 medium sized carrot

1/2 cup sprouted mung beans

5 baby broccoli stalks

5 small kale leaves (dinosaur or black)

5 Nasturtium leaves

1/2 cup fresh coriander leaves and stalks (dhania)
The Culinary Linguist | Use Fresh Ingredients for Spring Roll Nori Wraps

Optional ingredients:

Avocado (add it later instead of putting it in the processor)

1/2 apple to add a juicy sweet taste

1 TB Korean bean paste for a savoury flavour

1/4 cup cooked rice vermicilli noodles

1/4 cup fresh papaya or mango (not too ripe)

Any type of sprouts: sunflower, lentils, etc

* If you add tomatoes or lemon juice, the moisture from the filling will cause the nori sheet to be too wet and break.  If this happens, just double the nori sheets.

 The Culinary Linguist | Use Fresh Ingredients for Spring Roll Nori WrapsDipping Sauce:Add ingredients together and whisk until smooth:2 TB natural peanut butter

2 TB Mirin sauce

2 tsp sesame oil

2 tsp soy sauce

1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger

1/4 tsp fresh green chili (optional)

Take out one sheet of Nori paper and lay it down on the smooth side of a plate.  Take about 1/3 cup of the finely chopped vegetables and spread it around on the bottom half (4 inches-10cm) of the nori, leave an inch (3 cm) on each side.  There should be about 5 inches of clean nori on top.  Fold the 3 cm on each side towards the middle of the nori sheet and start rolling the length of the nori towards the top keeping the filling tight and together and the sides tucked in.  Essentially it is a similar technique to roll a spring roll or burrito.   As the nori sheet rolls to the top, and the filling is wrapped under the nori, dampen the top of the nori that is laying flat on the plate and roll the rest of the nori toward the damp part, sealing the roll into a perfect little edible nori wrap.

The Culinary Linguist | Use Fresh Ingredients for Spring Roll Nori WrapsTo skip the rolling technique, make a cone out of the nori and then spoon and pack the finely chopped vegetable filling inside.

Place dipping sauce in a small bowl.  Cut the spring roll nori wraps in the middle and arrange them on a plate or platter with the dipping sauce.  Taste one and then serve them immediately!

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!

Urban foraging and making Mulberry Tart

In Recipe, Stories on September 20, 2012 at 22:33

Mulberries: Urban foraging on The Culinary Linguists blog #recipe

Growing up, we used to pick wild mulberries. The dark mulberries ripened to their juicy capacity and fell on the pavement, painting the sidewalks purple.  This was nature’s graffiti and we were young urban foragers. Just below Chicago’s purple EL line, we thought the forest preserve was our Jungle Book fantasy and we ate from the trees along the canal.  From the early months of spring to late summer, we would bring pots and buckets home with red-stained fingers.

Urban foraging mulberries in South Africa on The Culinary Linguists blog #recipe

We ate every shade of red mulberry until our lips were purple and stomach’s sour.  We picked so much that we were left with no choice to boil them into a mulberry jam.  The berries always tasted better straight from the tree but the syrupy preserve on toast or over yoghurt made the season of red mulberries last.

Mulberry on The Culinary Linguists blog #recipe

Today, the mulberry tree keeps painting me purple and I get to try new and old recipes that transform a harvest into nourishing treats.  Springtime in Johannesburg brought all these childhood memories back, getting sugar high from trees and overdosing on the tart ruby mulberries.  As if the sweetness from the harvest wasn’t enough, I made a mulberry tart from an adapted recipe I learned while managing the kitchen and guest lodge of Los Cardones surf eco-lodge and restaurant on Nicaragua’s Pacific Coast.  This tart has been loved by many!  Pass on the joy:

Stauder French Tart Recipe

Preheat oven to 350F/180C

Dough Crust:

2 egg yolks

8 TB sugar

1/2 tsp salt

2 cups sifted flour

1 bar softenedd butter

Mix butter, sugar and salt.  Add eggs and mix in flour.  Mold to a tart pan and poke with a fork.  Store in fridge while you prepare filling.

Fruit Filling:

2 egg whites

8 TB sugar

1 bar melted butter

1/2 cup mulberries (smashed)

Mix egg whites, sugar and butter together. Add in fruit.

Take crust out of the fridge and pour fruit filling into chilled tart mold.  Bake until crust is golden brown.  Let it cool for 30 minutes before serving.

This easy recipe can be adapted into any ready available fruit you want to make into a desert (or breakfast treat.)  Some versions we tried and loved: dragonfruit-pitaya, kalala-passion fruit-grenadilla, lemon, orange, banana, and pineapple.

Mopani or mopane worms (caterpillars) taste like dried leaves

In Friend's Kitchens, Recipe, Stories on May 26, 2011 at 19:56

Mopane caterpillars eat Mopane tree leaves.

“They taste like a bit like biltong or chicken, I love them!” she explained. “Actually, they taste more like leaves.”  A bag of Mopani worms are sitting dried in my cupboard waiting for my “how to cook this” experimentation session. My seastar, Nokulinda, bought them from a Sangoma down the road from her work in Johannesburg. Noks wrote me a text before she arrived, “So happy to see you manana. x I come bearing gifts 🙂 I hope you like mopani worms . . . At least if you’re open to eating one the rest can compost xx.”

The first time I learned about mopani worms was by sticking my head inside a kitchen of a restaurant in Muizenberg.  I leaned over a huge bubbling pot in interest for what was for lunch to find plump fat worms instead of the expected butternut soup.  At that time I was more interested in where they came from than how they tasted.

Now, I’ve got my own worms and my own pot to bubble them in, there’s no shying away from it now.  People have been cooking these tree worms or rather caterpillars for centuries, so it should only feel natural to finally make up a recipe and cook and taste these Limpopo province imports, so here it goes:

bite-size butterflies

250 ml Mopani or mopane worms

1 clove of garlic

1 small onion

1 tomatoe

1 carrot

2 T of sesame and ricebran oil 

250 ml coconut milk

1 tsp fresh basil

1 tsp fresh lemongrass

6 peppercorns

2 tsp salt

150 ml rice

bath time

Bowl rice in 300ml water and lower to a simmer or place in a hot box for 45 minutes. Rinse the mopani worms in a colander. Place them in a bowl of warm water and let them soak while you prepare the vegetables.  When they have soaked for more than 5 minutes, remove any yellow hair found at the tail of the worm and tiny spikes on the body.

coconut milk broth

Boil water and add potato slices to the water.  Boil until soft. Heat oil on medium heat in a separate pan. Dice the garlic and onions and add to the heated oil.  Brown the onion and garlic. Puree tomatoe and carrot with 1 tsp salt and 1/3 cup water.  Add to the pan. Add 1 tsp salt, pepper, lemongrass, and basil. Add mopani worms and stir. Cover pan and simmer until the water has evaporated. Stir in the coconut milk, let it simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Mopane worms are a source of protein, iron, phosphorus and calcium.

Lower the heat and stir what now should be a gravy-like consistency. Mopani worms should be soft and the gravy should be oh so tasty.  Add the potatoes to the gravy and let them soak up the flavour  or alternatively place in your hot box.  Fry the rice in coconut oil so some bits become crispy.  Serve the gravy over the rice and garnish with cilantro.

How to serve mopane worms 🙂

Next up: Chocolate covered worms!

Prickly Cactus Pear Smoothie

In Friend's Kitchens, Recipe, Stories on March 7, 2011 at 00:25

The best thing about when friends house sit is the magic of new groceries that end up in your kitchen.  One Sunday afternoon, I discovered prickly pear syrup (turksvy stroop) in my fridge and it sat there, waiting for me to make crepes or pour it on yoghurt. Instead, it ended up in my fruit smoothie as a sweetener and added delicious flavour to an ordinary combination of vitamin C fruit. The syrup is a tradisionele resep from Cradock, South Africa.

Prickly Pear Smoothie:

1 frozen ripe plum

1 frozen orange

300 ml water

50 ml prickly pear syrup

On the bottle shares a food story about Prickly Pears in South Africa: The earliest pioneers in South Afria were bound to live from raw plant and animal products.  Sugar was almost unobtainable and they has to make their food tasty. The juice of the wild growing prickly pear was extracted and then without adding water or sugar, it was cooked over an open fire for many hours, until only a concentrate remained.  Great amounts of fruit are needed for only one bottle of syrup.  To EAT: butter slice of bread on one side. turn it over so that the buttered side faces the plate, cut into little squares and drench it with syrup.  Eat it with a knife and fork. Can also be used as a topping for ice cream.  The Voortrekkers also used it as a cough remedy, and for instant energy for sick people.

A future post will definitely include Wild Food: Prickly Pear cocktail recipes. I’m sure people who lived and travelled on Southern African land before Voortrekkers time (1835) had amazing recipes with prickly pears and using it as all sorts of remedies.  Would be cool to track down some of those stories and how food rituals were learned from these nomadic encounters.

I love when new wild food ingredients find a handful of ways into your kitchen palette.  I would love some tips on how to harvest these prickly fruits!

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