Saturday, June 26, 2010

Farm Fresh Deviled Eggs

We were recently invited to a pot-luck at nearby Tomten Farm, and I was going around in circles trying to think of something to take...  And then it came to me, Deviled Eggs, of course.  They're the perfect pot-luck dish, and always the first thing to go.  I was going to need a bit of creativity though if I wanted all the ingredients to come from the farm, and avoid using store-bought pickle relish, mustard, and mayo.  And this is what happened:

Dill & Radish Deviled Eggs
(This recipe does not come with measurements, so just keep testing the flavor and texture until it's the way you like it.)

Eggs- collected from the chickens that day
Mayo- home-made, recipe below
Leeks- in place of onions, that we don't have this time of year
Raddishes- I used mild French Breakfast raddishes, but would have preferred something with more spice and bite.

Dill- freshly picked from the dome green-house
Mustard Flowers- great mustard flavor, and bright garnish
Salt, Pepper, and Paprika- store bought, except for the pepper that I harvested on a farm in Belize

-Hard boiled eggs are always a struggle for me, but I followed James Beard's instructions and started the eggs in cold water, brought them to a boil, cooked for 10 minutes, and put them straight into cold water.
-When cool, I sliced them in half, scooping out the deep yellow yolks. I mixed the yolks with the mayo, finely chopped leeks, raddishes, dill (lots of it), and salt and pepper. 
-After scooping a dollop of filling back into each egg-white, I added a small bunch of mustard flowers and sprinkled with paprika.

This, I'm sure, was only the beginning of my Deviled Egg experiment for the summer.

Simple DIY Mayo Instructions:

2 Egg Yolks, 1 1/2C vegetable oil, 1T vinegar, salt and pepper.
-Wisk egg yolks with a pinch of salt
-Keep wisking, adding oil one drop at a time (We didin't have an electric mixer, but I hope you do!) until a quarter of the oil has been blended
-At this point, beat in the vinegar, and then return to wisking in the remaining oil.
-The mayo should be thick and creamy, and will ticken even more in the refrigerator.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Mak Kimchi

I can't believe it either, but I made kimchi!  Well not just "I," because Alyssa and George were the team leaders and we were instructed via video by the adorable Maangchi.  You can watch her too at  This recipe is worth the couple hours, and the perfect project to have friends come help with, not to mention it's a great way to use up some produce from around the house (or farm, in our case).

Maangchi's recipe calls for the following (but we made some changes, according to what we had from the farm.)
10 pounds Nappa Cabbage (we used a mix of cabbage, bok choi, baby bok choi, and tatsoi)
1 Cup Salt
1/4 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Sweet Rice Flour
3 Cups Water
1 Cup Garlic
1 Cup Onion
1-2 Tablespoons Ginger
1 Cup Fish Sauce (about half for us)
Squid (which we ommitted)
2 Cups Leek (scallions instead)
10 Green Onions
1/4 Cup Carrot (or more, if you like it like we do)
2 Cups Radish (we had big, beautiful turnips)

So, here goes:

-Chop the cabbage into bite-size pieces, soak in cold water in a huge bowl, and sprinkle with salt.  Every half hour our so you need to toss the cabbage and add salt; the whole cup of salt should be used on the 10 pounds of cabbage which will pull most of the moisture out of the greens.
-After and hour and a half of this, rise the cabbage well to remove all the salt, and let drain.
Keep soaking; Keep salting!
-Bring the 3 C water and sweet rice flour to a boil, stirring frequently.
-Add the 1/4 C sugar and continue cooking until translucent.
-Let cool
Kimchi Paste
-One at a time, add the 1C fish sauce (or less!), 2 1/2 C hot pepper flakes (we use about 2 C), 1 C crushed garlic, 1-2 T minced ginger, and 1 C minced onion to the porridge.
-Now add in the green onions, leeks, raddish and carrots (cut them how you like, thin slices or julienned) and mix it all together.

"Action! Mix the cabbage with the kimchi paste!" as Maangchi says.
-That's right, just mix it all together.  (If you're doing this by hand, please wear gloves!)
-Now store it in tupperware, or glass jars and wait for it to ferment... or start eating it as soon as your little heart desires.  It will ferment slower in the fridge, so you won't get that sour flavor so fast.
Our kimchi project yielded a total of 1.625 gallons from 8 pounds of cabbage, and now we can use our creation in fried rice, as a stew, served as a side dish, or the perfect condiment.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Banana bread was my first real success in Bolivia and quickly became a staple in our house.  Every Latin American country has their own version of banana bread, but more than the flavor, what I remember are the women selling it.
The women at Lago Atitlan, Guatemala are hard to forget.  They balanced trays of banana bread on their heads, while relentlessly howling "Pan de Banano" until you, along with your eardrums, had been pounded into submission and bought a piece.  I later lived with the wonderful Emily in Xela, Guatemala, who would call out "Pan de Banano" and other varriations in her scarily accurate impressions.
As for my Bolivian Banana Bread, I can say with confidence that the countless loaves it were better than those of the Mennonite-run Bake Shop in Xela (to my Xela roomates, this is not meant to be a brag, simply the truth.) 
For my bread, I would buy bottles of honey corked with a worn down nub of corncob, and half-rotten bananas stacked up like Lincoln logs on crates.  At home, my cooling rack was a spare refrigerator rack, and I used a serrated knife to grind the nutmeg.  After picking seeds out of my suppodesly seedless rasins, and chopping Brazil nuts (which Bolivians confusingly call almendras) I would follow this well-tested recipe:

1/3 C Vegetable Oil
1/2 C Honey
1t Vanilla Extract
2 Eggs
2 C Smashed Banana (I like it with a bit more, or to substitute some of the oil)
1 1/3 C Whole-Wheat Flour
1/2 t Salt
Cinnamon & Nutmeg to taste
1 t Baking Soda
1/4 C Hot Water
1/2 C Chopped Nuts

-Preheat oven to 165° C
-Beat together Oil, Honey, Eggs; then stir in Banana (I mix in the Cinnamon and Nutmeg when I smash the banana) and Vanilla
-Add Flour and Salt
-Add Baking Soda to hot Water and add to batter
-Blend in Nuts
-Bake 50-55 minutes is a greased 5"x9" pan
-Cool 30 minutes before serving

So there you've got it folks, and here's one important note to keep in mind: I strongly believe in eating local and have officially given up bananas since leaving Latin America.  So please think about it before you buy something such as bananas that are grown with pesticides, shipped from so far away, and grown/harvested by underpaid and undersupported workers.  Not to be a downer, but this is important, so maybe hold out for an upcoming carrot or zuchinni bread recipe!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Food, where it comes from, how we eat it, and why we love it.

Well, a big "Welcome Back" to everyone who hasn't read the blog in a while, including myself!

Writing Worms Make Dirt during my Latin travels was almost torturous. I didn't feel like I had the knack for telling travel stories; life was far more interesting and exciting than I could portray it. And lets be honest, I wrote about food more than anything else anyway. So from now on I am staying true to myself and writing about just that: Food, where it comes from, how we eat it, and why we love it.

Each of my posts will be inspired by a favorite recipe; and fortunately for all of us, most recipes are linked to a specific memory, come with a family story, or were an unlikely success. Some entries are linked to my bake-craz-days in Bolivia, many from my current life on a farm outside of Montrose, and others from my Nana. So, with a more enthusiastic, enlightened, and hopefully mouth-watering approach, I am re-entering the world of blogging, and Worms Make Dirt.

Do, Welcome Back, and I hope you enjoy!