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sustainability starts at home

How to Make Vanilla Extract (With or Without Alcohol)

Posted in Arts & Crafts, Condiments | 19 comments

The vanilla extract you can buy at the store often contains sugar, additives and flavorings you don’t really need or want. And most varieties are also made with alcohol, which might be a problem for some people.

In contrast, homemade vanilla extract has all the depth of flavor and high quality ingredients you would expect from a homemade product. Here’s how to make vanilla extract at home—with or without alcohol. And if you start a batch now, it will be ready in time for holiday gift giving! 

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Cherimoya Love (With 3 Recipes)

Posted in Beverages, Condiments, Raw & Fermented, Soups | 9 comments

Here in Southern California, land of amazing food, grown year-round, there is a fruit in season now called the cherimoya.

Being an East Coast native, I had never seen one before, because cherimoyas have a very short shelf-life and therefore aren’t successful in commercial production. The yummiest, healthiest foods usually aren’t.

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How to Make Raw Sunflower Seed Butter

Posted in Condiments, Raw & Fermented | 32 comments

High in vitamins, minerals, and protein, sunflower seeds are little powerhouses of nutrition. They are also a great stand-in for nuts for those who are allergic to them.

However, like all nuts and seeds, sunflower seeds also contain phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors which protect them from sprouting until they have the rain and sun they need to grow. And unfortunately, these natural chemicals are quite hard on the digestive system. Here’s how to get around that problem…

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Raw Sprouted Chickpea Hummus

Posted in Condiments, Raw & Fermented | 34 comments

There is a local farm market vendor here in San Diego who makes hummus from raw, sprouted chickpeas. He uses no tahini, but plenty of garlic, and it is the very best hummus I’ve ever had. So good, in fact, that I can’t stand to eat cooked hummus anymore.

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Arugula is Not for Snobs {With 2 Recipes!}

Posted in Condiments, Gardening, Raw & Fermented, Salads | 13 comments

The cool weather greens are just starting to come ready for harvest here, and this week both my garden and my CSA box have plenty of arugula with which to make salads and other delights. 

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Fresh Figs on a Hot Summer Night {With 2 Recipes}

Posted in Condiments, Gardening, Raw & Fermented, Treats | 19 comments

Figs are coming into season here in Southern California, and trees all over the neighborhood are absolutely loaded with them. Here are two fresh fig recipes to help you enjoy the bounty of these special fruits.

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Cutting the Mustard (Greens)

Posted in Condiments, Gardening, Raw & Fermented, Side Dishes | 17 comments

Mustard greens are fast growing, nutritious leafy greens that grow well both in the garden and in containers. Mustard can be planted in both the spring and fall garden. In fact, to ensure a steady supply of these spicy, flavorful greens, fall is the best time to plant them.

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Stinging Nettles Are Good For You

Posted in Condiments, Gardening, Raw & Fermented | 50 comments

Today I weeded my very overgrown flower garden, and learned (the hard way) that stinging nettles are the most common weed there. But despite the fire in my hands that lasted for several minutes, I was so grateful to find them!

Here’s why… 

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Perfect Pamplemousse (Grapefruit Four Ways)

Posted in Condiments, Real Food Recipes, Salads | 28 comments

If the word “pamplemousse” grabbed your attention, I’m glad. I think it’s such a funny, fun word.

Pamplemousse is French for grapefruit, which is now coming into season here in Southern California—and shipping to grocery stores nationwide. With a bumper crop of fresh citrus everywhere (it’s common for people to have some type of citrus tree in their yard here), it’s important to find creative ways to use it up.

Here are some special ways to enjoy the brightness of grapefruit this winter… 

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Growing Leafy Greens {with 1 recipe}

Posted in Condiments, Gardening, Raw & Fermented, Salads | 1 comment

Whether from cold frames, greenhouses or winter gardens, now that the days are cooler, an abundance of leafy greens are ready to harvest. Between our CSA box and the farmer’s market, we’ve been enjoying a lot of fresh kale, cabbage, broccoli and romaine lettuces for the last two weeks. 

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Date Night!

Posted in Condiments, Raw & Fermented, Treats | 2 comments

The date palm, native to the Middle East, also grows easily in the Mediterranean climate of Southern California. For the past two weeks, my CSA box has included a bag full of the freshest, sweetest dates I’ve ever had.

As a recent transplant to the West Coast, I had never had a fresh date before. I never liked the hard, withered dry dates in the bulk bin of my local health food store on the East Coast, but fresh, ripe dates just picked from the tree are juicy and sweet, with a crisp skin that tries to slip off as you eat them. 

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How to Make Sun Dried Tomatoes (and a Pesto Recipe)

Posted in Condiments, Gardening, Raw & Fermented | 16 comments

Sun-dried tomatoes are one of my favorite foods. I love their concentrated, sweet tomato-ness in just about everything, and will even eat them straight when soaked in olive oil.

But at the store, they are a pricey delicacy that either come in tiny, quickly-used jars or in bags that always look too dry and often a little moldy. So this year, I decided I would grow my own tomatoes for sun drying, and now they are coming in to harvest.

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Raw Vegan Pesto

Posted in Condiments, Raw & Fermented | 2 comments

Every year that I have had a garden, I have grown basil.

Planted in April, my pretty, little basil babies become these 4-foot tall trees that have to be taken down with a saw by September.

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Making Homemade Cultured Butter is Easy

Posted in Condiments, Raw & Fermented | 8 comments

Tonight I made raw, organic, homemade cultured butter. And it couldn’t have been easier. Taking a tip from the Food Renegade, I used 21st century equipment (my blender) to make light work of churning an ancient, traditional food.

If you wonder why anyone would make butter when it can so easily be bought at the store, there is only one answer really: TASTE. Homemade butter is better butter—much better. It is like tasting what butter used to be like, before it became a factory-made food.

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