Saturday, December 25, 2021

Ginger TARDIS - Happy Holidays!

 I've been playing with youtube lately, learning the ins and outs.  It's a lot of fun and making videos is a lot like learning any craft - it takes a lot of practice.  

So does making good gingerbread sculptures, apparently.  I need a lot more practice.

Here is a great website that reviews many gingerbread building recipes.  I picked one and, as usual, made a few changes.  And then a few more changes, and then the spices were all off, so I changed that too.  Lucky for me I went shopping the day before the deluge and what followed on the Left Coast.  

This is by no means the "right" way to do it, but as you can see, it sort of worked.

Happy Holidays everyone!

**Gingerbread (my wonky recipe)**

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup lard

1 cup molasses

4 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons ground ginger

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

a few drops of warm water if needed

1.  preheat oven 350F

2. Put sugar, lard, and molasses in a pot on medium.  Stir until melted and blended.

3. Mix remaining dry ingredients (not the water) in a large bowl

4. Pour wet stuff into dry stuff and stir really really really well until your wrist feels like falling off.

5. If still crumbly, add a few drops of warm water and keep on stirring.

6. Roll out 1/4" thick (or desired thickness) and cut into shape.

7. Bake on trays for 10-15 min (12 was the perfect time for mine)

8. Take trays out of the oven.  Let gingerbread cool and harden completely before moving.  

9. Assemble in your favourite way (I use Royal Icing - see below)

**Royal Icing**

3 egg whites

3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 pound icing sugar

1. Put in a bowl and with an electric mixer (if you don't mind your wrist falling off you *can* do this by hand), beat slowly at first.

2. Once everything is mixed together, beat on high for 8-12 min.  You cannot overbeat - I've tried.  If you need the icing to be structural, beat as long as possible.  If not, then 8 min is enough.  You want the peaks to hold up when you lift the beater out of the icing.

3. Add colour if needed - I apparently suck at this and can give you no useful advice on the right way to add colour.  A whole bottle of food dye and I can only get baby blue.  Maybe next year I'll figure it out.

4. Put the icing into a plastic bag or piping bag.  I keep mine in a plastic bag and only cut the tip just before using it.  To store, keep at room temperature.  Use within a few days.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Homegrown Linen: transforming flaxseed into fibre

Imagine the joy of hot buns wrapped in a linen cloth served with fresh butter on a table surrounded by friends and goblets of red wine.

Now imagine the comfort of flaxseed sprinkled on your morning oats.  

What do these two scenes have in common?  That's right, they come from your garden.  Flax, the very same plant that gives us flaxseed, also makes linen cloth.  Easier to grow than tomatoes, less work than carrots, and more versatile than eggplant.  

Flax gives us two harvests from one plant.  The seeds and the cloth - and yes, you can get both from the same harvest no matter what They tell you.  How do I know this?  Because I've been obsessing about flax for years and decided to find out what is really possible and what bits of advice are just superstition.

Spoiler alert: most of it is superstition.  

Flax is way more versatile than it looks.  You can get cloth from seed flax and you can get delicious seed from fibre flax.  

So now you know what I've been up to all these months.  A crazy adventure writing and creating a book.  

There are a few days left on my Kickstarter where you can pre-order the book Homegrown Linen: transforming flaxseed into fibre at a discount.  

We are hoping to have it available in stores in February.

If you want to order a book or carry the book in your store, you can find me at:

Crowing Hen Farm

Sunday, January 24, 2016

My first Falafel - success!

Inspired by this recipe, I decided to try making my own falafels.

I made a few changes, as usual.  On the whole, a resounding success.

1 cup of dry chickpeas
1 cup fava beans (lightly crushed and skins winnowed)

  • Soak at least 24 hours with several changes of water.

1 leek
1 small onion
3 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons salt
2 Tbs flour
1 tsp cayenne pepper
pinch cardamom

Toasted whole then ground spices
3 pepper corns
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander

  • Drain the beans, mash them up with all the other ingredients
  • form into falafel shapes (which happens to be the same shape as a large spoon) and deep fry medium heat

Affordable?  Yep.  I can buy three falafels for a dollar in the shop, or I can make this huge pile of falafels for the same amount.

Friday, January 1, 2016

New Years Day 2016, No-Soy Miso Club

The second annual meeting of The Victoria Miso Club went wonderfully well.

We began by opening last years Chickpea mugi (barley) miso.  It had an intense rich smell, and a robust miso taste.  The colour was much darker than I expected and we failed to get all the air pockets out, so there were a few spots of mold inside.  But otherwise a success.

This year is two batches of red miso.  We used the same recipe for both, only the beans were different.  For both, we used frozen koji rice from the local Japanese food store.

Adzuki Bean 1 year miso

  • 1 kilo dry adzuki beans
  • 500g koji rice
  • 200g sea salt (no iodine)

Chickpea 1 year miso

  • 1 kilo dry chickpeas (organic)
  • 500g koji rice
  • 200g sea salt (no iodine)


  1. Examine beans and remove anything not a bean.  Wash.  Soak the beans overnight.  Rinse beans well.  Cook the beans in water until mushy.  The chickpeas I did in the pressure cooker in two batches, the adzuki on the stove in one big batch with just enough water to cover (add more water as needed).  The adzuki beans were ready about 2 hours before the chickpeas.
  2. Strain the beans - keep the cooking liquid - and mash the beans as much as you like.  We like chunky miso, so we just had a go with the back of the spoon.  You can make a smooth paste if you like.
  3. Combine some (about a cup) of the hot cooking liquid with the salt to dissolve the salt.  Mix this in with the koji rice when liquid is cool enough to put your hand in.
  4. Cool the beans so that they are cool enough to put your (clean) hand comfortably in.  Combine the beans, koji rice, salt, and enough water to make a paste.  If you remember (which we didn't) add a spoonful of last years miso,
  5. Put in vat, weigh down top, put in cold spot for 1 year.

As with last year, we relied heavily on Sandor Katz books, Wild Fermentation and The Art of Fermentation, for our miso recipe.  For a more in depth instruction on how to make miso, please see Katz. 

This year we are using plastic buckets to see how they work.

Affordable cooking:

Chickpeas were $7 this year, the rice about $6, and the salt, less than $1.  Let's say $14 for the gallon of miso.

Adzuki beans were about $4, the rice again $6, the salt less than $1.  About $11 for the gallon of adzuki bean miso.

To buy this miso in the store, it's about $16 a pound.  We made about 7 times that - to buy this much miso in the store would be around $100 - times two.

At a conservative estimate
Chickpea miso $100 - $14 = savings of $86
Adzuki miso $100 - $11 = savings of $89

That's not too shabby, especially when you consider we shared the expensive $25 between all the miso club members.  

Anyone who says you can't eat healthy on a budget hasn't made miso.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Garlic mung bean soup - comfort for a cold

Just writing this here before I forget.  Made it this morning with all the things I thought would be good for healing a cold.  Recipe by intuition.  Very tasty.  

Mung beans
Garlic - add lots of garlic, then add a couple cloves more
green chili pepper (finely chopped)
turmeric - not too much or it overpowers the dish

  • rinse the mung beans and leave them to soak while you get the rest ready
  • Dry fry the cumin until fragrant.  Crush the spice and put to one side
  • Chop the garlic fine and fry on medium low with the ghee.
  • Add the green chili, cumin and tumeric (NOT the salt) to the garlic, stir for a few moments.
  • Drain the beans, add them to the garlic and spice.  Add water to cover beans.  Bring to boil and simmer until beans are mushy.  Don't add too much water at first.  It's nicer if the soup isn't too watery.  But keep an eye on it and add water as needed.
  • Now you can add the salt.  Adding the salt earlier makes it longer for the beans to cook.  Salt to taste.