A LETTER TO A YOUNG CHEF

Dear Young (or new) Chef,

Welcome to this AMAZING career. I remember during culinary school, instructors prepared us for what we would soon encounter in the torturous world of the culinary arts. They prepped us for how we would endure; to be cut down more times then we would cut ourselves. We’d feel the flames and wrath of our superiors more times then we would feel the burns on our skin, or quite possibly we’d be special enough to get both. We’d be torn down as we struggled to stand up or stand out, while being pushed and pulled before we became anything but mediocre in this industry. This is what young chef’s believe is what we will have to endure in this world, however most seem to be too content with it and are willing to take on this arduous mental and physical beating. Certainly, not one of our chefs truly wanted any of the previously mentioned things to actually occur, but it certainly set the tone for us to keep pushing out our very best work.

 Marco Pierre White stated “Lots of famous chefs today don’t look whacked, because they don’t work. They have a healthy glow and a clear complexion. There is blood in their cheeks. They haven’t got burns on their wrists and cuts on their hands.” 

Marco Pierre White, The Devil in the Kitchen: Sex, Pain, Madness and the Making of a Great Chef

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One thing I cant seem to fathom is the idea behind this life we’ve chosen to make our world. We’ve created a stereotype over the years that every kitchen is exactly like this statement. Regardless of our position, if your true passion in this world is to cook, you will work hard and you will endure the pain - but it will all be worth it if it's the right fit. The only falsity of White’s statement along with many of my instructors is that every talented kitchen prides themselves off of the pot-slinging values that chefs like Gordon Ramsey hold. I’m not saying it will all be tea and crumpets or that all of my past instructors hope we will one day experience this torture, but after-all I’m not a fan of tea or crumpets to be quite frank. The tea and crumpets will come, but what I’m trying to say is you have the power to make them however the heck you want.

 

You read books that talk about the absurdities that take place in a commercial kitchen or cooks doing lines of coke in the alley of the restaurant. That much may be true in this industry and maybe that’s what your in to, but not every restaurant is like this, nor will we all choose to be a part of this type of kitchen. I’m not saying you won't get something thrown at you in your career, but it might be a french fry, and not a pan. You create your path, and you write the rules. You might not write them initially, but you have the power to edit them along the way. 

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I was asked in my very first kitchen position why I cook. I was told I don't look like a cook, I’m skinny and healthy and just don't seem to fit the mold. As I stood there grilling on the hotline staring back at my co-worker I didn't take this as an insult one-so-ever. I took it as a compliment. I’m flattered that I was pegged as a 19 year old more-so than a 25 year old. This question on why do I cook really struck me. Surprisingly, this isn't a question you get all that often. I cook because I absolutely love it, but even more-so than that, I cook because I want to help people while helping myself along the way. I’m still discovering what I need nutritionally, while learning how to create food that suits my health needs as well as my palate. I say I cook because I love it, but I cook because this is the first thing that has truly changed my world in the 25 years that I’ve been trying to figure it out. I’ve struggled more times than I’ve succeeded and I’m sure this isn't the end of my struggles but for the time-being, I’m happy and I’m content in what I’ve created. With five years of digestive & health issues still un-resolved I fully believe food is how to fix it. As I step closer and closer to healing I know that I am destined to cater to others who are facing similar battles.

I’ll probably never have my name plastered on a Michellin star restaurant or even have the title of“Executive Chef” because I choose that. My goal was never to have this title or recognition, but my choice to go back to school to study culinary arts, wasn't to become anything more than skilled at what I am doing, to better educate myself and others on how to live a healthier & happier life. I may have stitches and scars on my hands and burns on my wrists but I’ll keep my healthy glow and clear complexion if it means I’m feeding my body right. This life doesn't have to be what it is made out to be. YOU choose your path, and YOU create where it leads you. Choose your career stepping stones wisely, it will only build you into exactly who you want to be.

 

This article was written 4 years ago as a NEW chef with a vision for her health & career.


FOR MORE INFO ON BECOMING A CHEF:

Check out this wonderful video interview from Goadilo, a unique career site that uses video and social media to expose and educate young people and mid-career workers to high growth trades, professions and unique careers.
 


Love & Wholesomeness,
Chef Dee

10 THANKSGIVING RECIPES YOU'LL FEEL GREAT ABOUT EATING!

We know you're thankful for us this holiday for providing you with these DELICIOUS recipes to help keep you on track at the holiday table.

You're welcome Ya'll.

Feel good about filling up on these nutrient-dense dishes.


MAPLE-BALSAMIC ROASTED BRUSSELS & APPLES
-CHEF COURT-

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INGREDIENTS:

  • ¾ lb. Brussel Sprouts
  • 1 Pink Crisp or Honeycrisp Apple, diced
  • 1 Shallot, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. Rosemary, fresh
  • ½ tsp. Mustard Powder
  • ½ tsp. Garlic Powder
  • 3 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. Maple Syrup
  • 1 Tbsp.Olive Oil
  • Himalayan Pink Salt
  • Crack Black Pepper

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Start by washing your hands and produce and preheat the oven to 350F
  2. Gather your mise en place and begin trimming the brussel sprouts ends and slicing them in half. Dice the apple, mince the shallot, chop the fresh rosemary and set aside.
  3. Place the brussels sprouts, apple, and shallot in a mixing bowl and coat with balsamic, maple and olive oil. mix together and let the brussels soak up the flavor.
  4. Place brussels and apples on a sheet tray. Season with the chopped rosemary, mustard powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Toss to coat fully.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes and flip halfway through to get an even golden-brown crust. Bake for another 20 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven and place directly onto a serving bowl. Garnish with pepitas and serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!

TIPS:

  • Forget the parchment paper or aluminum foil. Throw these babies right on the sheet pan to get a delicious golden-brown char.

  • Toasted pepitas add a delicious crunch to the mix!

 

HOLIDAY BRUSSELS SPROUT SALAD
-CHEF DEE-

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INGREDIENTS:

SALAD:

  • 2 containers Brussels Sprouts (approx. 50 small brussels sprouts)
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds (or ½ cup dried cranberries)
  • 1/4 cup sliced  toasted almonds or pepitas
  • ½ cup pecorino (remove to make vegan)

VINAIGRETTE:

  • ½ cup sherry vinegar
  • 1 small shallot
  • 3-4 tbsp whole grain mustard
  • 4 medjool dates (soaked for 20 minutes - skin & seeds removed)
  • ½ tsp himalayan salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1 cup olive oil

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Wash all ingredients.
  2. Set up your mandolin over a cutting board while securing your cut glove onto your dominant hand. If you want to keep your cut glove clean, be sure to wear a plastic glove.
  3. Set your mandolin to the smallest setting so that your brussels sprouts are sliced extremely thin.
  4. You want to cut your brussels sprouts until the small leaves of the sprout is cut. Once you penetrate the base of the brussels sprout it will not be as enjoyable to eat. Dispose or compost these scraps!
  5. Place brussels sprouts into a large bowl and reserve.
  6. Slice the pomegranate in half and begin pulling the pomegranate apart to expose the seeds. Lightly peel them apart and save the seeds for your salad, while removing the white exterior around the seeds.
  7. Add sliced almonds and pecorino Romano to your brussels sprouts. Combine.
  8. Soak your medjool dates in water for at least 20 minutes and peel away the skin and interior seed once they are finished soaking. Add them to your blender.
  9. With your high-speed blender, add your sherry vinegar, peeled shallot (halved or more), whole grain mustard, medjool dates, salt and pepper into your blender. Blend.
  10. Slowly add in your olive oil to emulsify the ingredients.
  11. Pour a small amount of the dressing over your brussels sprouts and reserve the rest of the dressing for later during the week. (I always make more to enjoy throughout the week!)
 

            SMOKEY WHIPPED SWEET POTATOES         -CHEF COURT-

  • 4 large sweet potatotes
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 5 oz. goat cheese (sub with kitehill if vegan)
  • 1 1/2 tsp maple syrup
  • 1/8 tsp ceyenne pepper
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • himalayan pink salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds (optional - garnished)
  • 2 tbsp. pistachios, crushed (optional - garnished)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Begin cutting the sweet potatoes into large chunks.

  2. Fill a large pot with water and big pinch of salt and bring to a boil.

  3. Once boiling, carefully add sweet potatoes and garlic cloves and cook for 10-15 minutes until they are tender enough to pierce with a fork.

  4. Remove from heat and strain potatoes. While the potatoes are still hot, add to a food processor or blender with the goat cheese/kitehill and blend until a smooth and cream consistency appears.

  5. Add maple syrup and spices and blend once more.

  6. Transfer mash to serving bowl and garnish with pomegranate seeds and crushed pistachios, Enjoy!

 

CRANBERRY ORANGE THYME CORNBREAD             -CHEF COURT-

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, sub coconut oil if vegan
  • 2/3 cup yellow organic cornmeal, stone ground
  • 2/3 cup organic white whole wheat flour
  • 2 tbsp thyme, fresh
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 tps baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp himalayan pink salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or sub any nut milk with 2 tbsp lemon juice or apple cider vin) *see tips*
  • 1 Egg, or sub 1 flax egg (1 tbsp. ground flax meal + 2.5  tbsp. warm water) *see tips*
  • 1 cup boiling water

 

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Start by washing your hands. Preheat the oven to 350F.

  2. Heat a cup of water until boiling and pour over cranberries. Soak for 15 minutes and strain.

  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together cornmeal, white whole wheat flour, thyme, baking soda and salt until mixed throughly.

  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the melted butter/coconut oil, buttermilk/mylk, and egg. Add the orange zest and maple syrup. 

  5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until well combined. Add the soaked, dried cranberries to the batter and stir.

  6. Lightly grease a 9 inch skillet or baking dish and pour cornbread batter evenly.

  7. Bake for 18-20 minutes. To test readiness, insert a toothpick or knife into the center to see if it comes out clean. The edges will be slightly darker than the rest of the cornbread.

  8. Allow to cool completely and cut into 10-12 inch squares. Serve 6-8+ people.

TIPS:

  • Soaking your dried cranberries is not a crucial step but we highly recommend it. Be sure to purchase NO SUGAR ADDED cranberries and use sparingly due to sugar content. 

  • When making the vegan version of buttermilk, allow for your nut milk and lemon juice/apple cider vinegar mixture to sit for 10-15 minutes before adding to the recipe.

  • When making the flax egg, mix well and use warm water. Allow for your flax egg to sit for a few minutes so that it can gelatinize to replicate an egg-like texture.

 

PEACHES N’ CREAM BREAKFAST SMOOTHIE
-CHEF DEE-

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup pure fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1.5 frozen organic peaches (aprox 8-10 pieces)
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/8 tsp camu camu powder (optional) (increases Vitamin C)
  • 1 tsp maca powder

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Add all of your ingredients to your high-speed blender and puree until blended throughly.
  2. Add to a glass & enjoy!

TIPS/NOTES:

  • Studies show that black pepper (piperine) helps to increase the bioavailability of turmeric's (curcumin) anti-inflammatory & many other beneficial effects.
 

POMELO CARROT IMMUNITY JUICE

-CHEF DEE-

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Pomelo Grapefruit
  • 4 Large Carrots
  • 1/2-2 oz ginger (depending on how spicy you're feeling for the day)
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp turmeric

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Add all of your ingredients to your high-speed blender and puree until blended throughly.
  2. Add to a glass & enjoy!

*Make it a bit boozey (if you must) by topping it off with some ginger turmeric kombucha. Get workin' gut bacteria!

 

RAW PUMPKIN PIE

-CHEF DEE-

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INGREDIENTS:

CRUST:

  • 1/4 cup cacao nibs
  • 3 large medjool dates
  • 1/4 cup pecans
  • vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp himilaian sea salt
  • Dash nutmeg
  • Dash cinnamon

FILLING:

  • 1 cup cashews
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin pie
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • fresh ginger
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 dates
  • Fresh grated ginger (as desired)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Start off by soaking the cashews for 1 hour.
  2. If you have a vitamix there is no need to complete step 1.
  3. Remove the pits of the dates and let them soak for 10-20 minutes. To speed up the process add boiling hot water to the dates.
  4. Once softened, add to a food processor (not your vitamix/blender) and then pulse until well combined. Add the pecans and pulse until chopped slightly. Remove and add to a bowl.
  5. Add the remaining ingredients and stir.
  6. Add the combined mixture to a small spring-form pan and pat down until even and packed.

 

  1. For the filling combine the soaked nuts (water removed) to your vitamix/high-speed blender with the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Replenish the water with 1 cup and add to the blender and blend until completely pureed. 
  3. Pour the mixture over the packed crust and freeze until ready to serve.
  4. Remove and let the cake sit for 15 minutes until it is softened to cut. Reserve in the freezer to keep for later enjoyment.
 

VEG-CENTRIC GRAVY & CAULIFLOWER MASH

-CHEF DEE-

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1/2 cup carrots
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 2 cups mushrooms
  • 1/4-1/2 cup tamari sauce
  • 3 cups low sodium veggie broth

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Dice all of your ingredients and reserve in a bowl while adding 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil to a frying pan.
  2. Once the olive oil has heated add your veggies and cook on high until thoroughly browned. If they begin to burn, turn down the heat and add 1/8-1/4 cup of water or veg broth to remove the areas with residue.
  3. Once the veggies have softened add your tamari sauce.
  4. Cook until liquid has almost entirely dissolved.
  5. Add your veggie broth and continue cooking until it has reduced by 1/4.
  6. Pour the mixture through a strainer and reserve the veggies.
  7. Add 1/4 cup -1/2 cup broth to 1/2 cup veggies into your blender. This will help to thicken your gravy without adding flour/making a roux.
  8. Pour the remaining thickened liquid into your strained gravy, reserve, & enjoy!
 

CAULIFLOWER MASH INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 large head of cauliflower
  • 1 container kitehill cream "cheese"
  • 4 cloves roasted garlic
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

DIRECTIONS:

  1. ASStart off by washing your cauliflower and dicing into large chunks. These pieces do not need to be even as you will be pureeing them after they have cooked.
  2. Set your oven to 400 and wrap your peeled garlic cloves in a foil pouch, or ramekin baking dish and cook with a tsp of olive oil for 20-30 minutes.
  3. Add your cauliflower to a pot and cook with a shallow amount of water (covered) or steam if possible (recommended) until cauliflower is softened.
  4. Remove the garlic and add to your food processor.
  5. Once cooked, strain the cauliflower and add to your food processor with half of the kitehill mixture, salt, and pepper. Taste test the mixture and see if it requires more kitehill or salt. 

TIPS:

  • You do not want to over-cook the cauliflower as it will make it more water-rich and will not result in a fluffy puree!
  • We prefer kitehill vegan cream cheese due to it's quality ingredients. It does not have added oils and is one of the cleanest vegan cheeses currently on the market. We DO NOT recommend using any vegan cheeses if they contain excess amounts of oil. (Keep in mind the first ingredient on the ingredient list is the item that is the most prevalent in the product!)

 

 

Tag us @thecookingcollaborative on instagram or facebook if you choose to make any of these delicious recipes! 

WE ARE THANKFUL FOR YOU!


MATCHA SPIRULINA MINTY CHIP NICE CREAM!

We're sharing our delicious #epicmatcha spirulina minty chip nice cream! Click the link below to get the 'scoop' & hookup on @epicmatcha! #Ad

When I was little I grew up eating mint chocolate chip ice cream as my favorite dessert. I was never one to over-indulge in cake or cookies. My go-to dessert was mint chocolate chip, however I wouldn't consume it if it was white. It had to be green.

That is obviously still the case as an adult, however with much of my eating habits changing (and some staying quite the same) I've adapted my diet to my needs. I rarely consume dairy anymore, and I often eat a vegan meal, one that is rich in vitamins and minerals and void of artificial or heavily processed ingredients such as white refined sugar.

Although most people trick their mind into thinking because i'm making better choices for my system by eating a date or a banana as the source of sugar in the dish, it's still sugar and I advise you to eat this in moderation because trust me, it's that good that you'll want to over-indulge. 

I posted a recipe very similar to this last year without the addition of spirulina or mint extract and people went crazy (for good reasons.) Now, I'm sharing it with all of you. Enjoy, eat, and drink #epicmatcha.
 

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  • 1 tsp #epicmatcha
  • 1/4 tsp mint extract
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp spirulina
  • 1 cup dates
  • 1 cup cashews
  • 1 1/2 water
  • 1 bunch fresh organic mint (stems only)
  • 1/4 cup vegan chocolate chips
  1. Soak your dates in filtered water for 20-30 minutes. Remove the seeds prior to soaking.
  2. Remove the liquid after soaking and combine all of your ingredients except the chocolate chips in your high-speed blender. If you do not have a high-speed blender this may be a bit more challenging. In order for the cashews and dates to truly become a puree you will need to soak them overnight.
  3. Taste test the mixture and combine into an ice cream maker for approx. 30 minutes or until the mixture forms into an ice cream consistency. Slowly add in chocolate chips or wait until the mixture consistency is made to blend in the chips.
  4. If you do not have an ice cream maker combine the mixture without chocolate chips in your freezer until almost fully hardened. Once it starts to form, add chocolate chips to it. If you add the chips to the mixture all of them will sink to the base, therefore wait a few minutes until an ice cream consistency has formed.

    Because this is not the classical way to make ice cream (sugar to fat ratio nor the incorporation of air is exact) it will need a few minutes to soften before scooping. Take the mixture out for a few minutes prior to enjoying.

    Eat, Enjoy, & Tag us if you enjoyed it!

#ad

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HEALTHY SNACKS FOR THE PERFECT BEACH DAY

Yesterday on Instagram we talked about the saying "Fail to prepare & prepare to fail" which was to prompt everyone to cook up a few of our favorite snacks to take to the beach today. Well, that was somewhat of a fail due to the weather being pretty nasty here in Miami, however we're still sharing these recipes for your NEXT beach day! Cheers to great snacks, sunshine, and saving money by making it yourself!

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RED KIDNEY BEAN HUMMUS

  • 1 can red kidney beans (liquid removed)
  • 3 tbsptahini paste
  • 1 tbsp red chili flakes
  • ¼ cup boiling water
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder or fresh
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  1. Add all of your ingredients to your high-speed blender (preferably a vitamix) and blend.
  2. Using the rod that comes with the blender, push the mixture down until it is entirely blended.
  3. Using the boiling water, add in small amounts until the mixture becomes "whipped." This will help it to become creamy without having to use any oil or added calories. 
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'BOOCHY' PINEAPPLE MANGORITA

  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 2/3 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup frozen mango
  • 1 cup frozen pineapple
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened grapefruit juice
  • 1 cup ice
  • 3 oz honey or maple syrup (NO AGAVE)
  • Lime or Lemon Kombucha
  1. Combine all ingredients except kombucha into a blender with ice cubes. Blend until well combined and pour into glasses. 
  2. Top the mixture with kombucha and gently stir to combine.
  3. Have left-overs - GREAT! Freeze them into pops or in a bottle to take to your next beach day. It will keep everything cool as it defrosts.
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PINEAPPLE & ROASTED CORN SALSA

  • 1 cup NON-GMO corn kernels
  • 1 cup pineapple (diced)
  • ¾  cup red pepper (grilled)
  • ¼ cup red onion
  • 1 tbsp jalapeno
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • ⅛ cup lime juice
  • ⅛ cup orange juice
  • 1 tbsp mint
  • 2 tbsp cilantro
  • ½ tsp fresh ginger
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup tomatoes (seeds removed)
  1. Wash all of your ingredients.
  2. Using a chef's knife, cut your pineapple, red onion, and jalapeno into small dice (jalapeno minced.)
  3. To avoid grilling the corn or red pepper, purchase the fire-roasted corn in the frozen section at Whole Foods, as well as the frozen red pepper. Reserve the remaining amount in the freezer. Corn will almost always have to be purchased canned, or frozen to guarantee that it is NON-GMO. (FYI)
  4. Once the red onion is cut, squeeze the lime juice over this mixture. This helps to somewhat "cook" the onion so that it is easier on your stomach.
  5. Adding your remaining ingredients to your bowl mix to combine. 
  6. If you would like to add tomato be sure to remove the seeds and liquid before combining. 
  7. If you are watching your sugars, simply remove the maple syrup as well as the orange juice.
  8. Play around with these flavors and adjust ingredients by 1 tbsp - 1/4 cup as necessary.

The only true way to learn to cook is to make a mistake and understand how to fix it!

With yummy love,

-Chef Dee-

PITAYA HIBISCUS LEMONADE

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🌱juice of 4 lemons
🌱juice of 3 limes
🌱2 cups water
🌱1 cup frozen pitaya 🌱1 teabag hibiscus
🌱1/8 tsp LIQUID stevia or fresh (pictured)

Also,  if you happen to have some random camu camu on hand / because don't we all?!?....Add that in too!

🌱1/2 tsp camu camu (Queen B of that vitamin C) (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

Steep the tea. Remove the bag. Blend. Add ice. Serve in a champagne flute (obviously) & enjoy!

HOW TO MAKE MACADAMIA NUT HOT CAKES

MACADAMIA NUT HOT CAKES


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These hotcakes are my absolute FAVORITE thing to eat when I'm craving a sweet breakfast! Give these crumble-cakes a try and let us know what you think in the comments below. happy


INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 4 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 cup all purpose gluten-free flour
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup macadamia nuts
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:
1. Heat your oven to 350.
2.Combine all of your dry ingredients and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon.
3. In a separate bowl, combine all of your wet ingredients and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon.
4. Mix your wet ingredients into your dry ingredients. The mixture should appear to be quite cakey. You do not want it to appear too thin.
5. Let sit for 10 minutes.
6. Add the mixture to small brûlée dishes and bake for 20 minutes or until golden.

When the hotcake is baked it will crumble quite easily. This will happen due to the mixture of almond meal and macadamia nuts as well as the oil in this mixture. I prefer this texture and it's fabulous topped with the following:

TOP WITH:

  • Our Triple Berry Marmalade (below)
  • Toasted Hazelnuts
  • Toasted Coconut
  • Lavender Petals (limit to only a few petals - bitter if overused)
  • Pomegranate seeds
  • Organic Blueberries or Strawberries
  • Pure Maple Syrup
  • Edible Flowers (for a pop of color & elegance)


TRIPLE BERRY MARMALADE:


 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 cups frozen mixed berries (ORGANIC)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2-3 dates
  • 1/4-1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 tsp agar agar

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Combine the mixed berries and water into a pan on your stovetop set to medium heat.
  2. Once t he berries have become soft, and the majority of the liquid has cooked off, pour your orange juice into the mixture as well as your dates, cinnamon, and agar agar.
  3. Stirring constantly to ensure that the mixture does not burn, briefly allow the mixture to boil to ensure that the agar-agar has fully been incorporated into the mixture. This will give the mixture a jelly/marmalade-like texture.
  4. If you do not have agar-agar on hand or cannot find it, you can omit the ingredient and your mixture will be less jelly-like (A much smoother, sauce-like consistency)
  5. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer and let cool.
  6. Use on your macadamia nut hotcakes, toast or in your morning organic greek yogurt or non-dairy based yogurt (We recommend Kitehill!)
  7. Reserve in the fridge for up to 1 week.
  8. Enjoy!

MEXICO - TULUM VEGAN FEST

Workers unloading a massive amount of greens

Workers unloading a massive amount of greens

This past January, I was lucky enough to be a part of a wonderful food festival in Tulum, Mexico | Tulum Vegan Fest.

So much of my time in Mexico was an eye-opening experience, filled with moments where I contemplated & questioned my purpose, values, goals, & myself. I was surrounded by like-minded people the entire time that I was in Tulum, as well as Mexico City. It woke me up, letting me realize there's people who carry all of the same values and interests that I do, however you simply cannot understand this if you're not in search of it.

DAY 1:
On the first day, I arrived in Mexico City to visit my cousin David where we would then travel to Tulum, Mexico for the food festival (www.tulumveganfest.com) where I would be leading a plating and presentation class.

In a matter of minutes of arriving to DF I was handed a shot of mezcal & a spiked zapote prieto pudding (chocolate sapote) while quickly forcing myself to listen to the exchange of conversation between my cousin & his friends. In only a few hours we'd be catching a flight to Cancun where we would travel to Tulum for the festival. Knowing that we would barely sleep that night due to my late arrival and celebrations with new friends, we went to search for places to eat. My cousin lives in an area of Mexico City that seems a bit desolate at night; Coyocan - where we came across only a few places open with meal (dietary) options for all of us. After visiting multiple restaurants, each kitchen seemed to be closing. Finally, we found a small taco stand were I learned my low sodium tolerance would soon face an all-time high. Holy salt.

DAY 2-4:
It was my second day in Meh-he-co and I couldn't have been more thrilled to get away from the rush of Miami. We jetted off to Cancun from Mexico City where I read magazines in Spanish and reminisced over my sister's addiction to Diego Luna when we were kids (pictured in a magazine talking about his favorite restaurants.)

While in Tulum, We stayed at a lovely eco-resort with architectural details that brought me back to my studies of Gaudi's work at Park Guell in Barcelona. The similarities to his work were spot-on with sloping details, the use of tiles, and incorporating texture and color in an a way that complimented nature. It almost felt as it it was an extension of the jungle that we were so lucky to be staying in. 

The entire time that I was in Mexico, I slept in a loft as if I was in a (dope) treehouse, both at the resort as well as my cousins 'super chido'/super cool, new place in Coyocan - Mexico City. 

The resort had so many details that screamed sustainability, eco-friendly & provided an immediate calmness that was so easily absorbed. There were signs that lined the path that quoted things like "this is a stress-free zone" which seemed appropriate with the recent political chaos that plagued both of our countries. There were even adorable puppies that roamed the resort from the employees who lived on-site, and little cats that followed throughout these woven paths. 

Welcome ceremony for Tulum Vegan Fest - Tulum, Mexico

Welcome ceremony for Tulum Vegan Fest - Tulum, Mexico

Upon arriving, I tried my best to speak Spanish and listen to the conversations around me. I knew I'd be one of the very few invitees that would struggle with communication. 

Verbal communication was a threat at first, but as the week went on, I became more comfortable with the care-free nature of the event, and it's goers. I write verbal communication, for the reason that it may be a necessity if you lost your customs papers (which I did) or to catch a cab. 

However, the simplicity of a smile, the showcased excitement of surprise, or the warmth of touch will never need a language to understand. We may analyze all of these things, but no words are needed to provoke the feelings that these actions provide.

This idea held true while cooking in an open-air kitchen filled with so many different backgrounds. This led me to wanting to communicate through food. After creating a vegan meal and letting it sit for a few minutes to cool, I realized it had been sampled by a few of the workers. Giving me immediate thumbs up and warm smiles, I knew I did something right. After serving a crowd of 35+, every person had an empty plate. Following the class, I was prompted to share recipes for my vegan Poblano Lime Crema and the rest of the meal.

After the festival came to an end, we all scurried to the bars - not to drink, but to dance the night away (until 5AM to be exact.)

While reggaeton may not be Mexico's token genre of music, it was certainly the music we vibed to that night (and my secret addiction.) No words were necessary, communication comes in the form of hip swings, movement, & the exchange of smiles.


BACK TO MEXICO CITY


After 1 hour of sleep, and kicking/nudging my cousin to wake him in his slumber, we jetted to Cancun via taxi to catch our flight back to Mexico City.

Running on fumes, we wanted to savor the day and make it to the largest outdoor market in all of Mexico. My cousin was insistent that we (I) cook a vegan meal for 10 of his closest friends.

 David's dog, Mezli came along for the ride where he ran around making friends with all of the vendors who had food scraps to feed him. People pointed, smiled, and stopped to watch the little lion puppy sniff around or patiently wait for the two of us to finish shopping.

La Merced Market - Mexico City, Mexico

La Merced Market - Mexico City, Mexico

(Note his little lion outfit that he wears 24/7 along with a rockin' mohawk.)

La Merced Market - Mexico City, Mexico

La Merced Market - Mexico City, Mexico

Immediately upon arrival to Mexico, you notice that the abundance of fresh vegetables and fruits is a norm in Mexican culture & cuisine. A weekly meeting of friends always seems to occur at my cousin’s house, filled with homemade meals that they practice and experiment with.  It's likely they're consuming too much mezcal during these gatherings, but the meals are heavily concentrated with fresh produce which in my opinion levels things out just a bit.

IMG_1624.JPG

This was something that I noticed was lacking in my life here in Miami. David (mi Primo) & I grew up with a family centered around food due to our backgrounds  (Mexican, German & Italian)  & our family’s love for the outdoors.  My mother & grandmother were famous for bringing a huge (and hungry) crowd around the table. There are still jokes to this day about my mom being able to feed 20 people with just a jalepeno (@cookingmark) meaning that she could make a meal with just about anything. “She’s brought the community together” stated our elderly neighbor, for my mom’s beautiful ability to center our time around each other & a good meal.

My point is; these moments of intimacy with your friends are integral to your own happiness, and truthfully, your health. We are in a constant state of rush for the majority of our day, or so it feels - taking the time to kick-back and enjoy a quality meal with great company brings a sense of calmness to a day that seems painfully chaotic. Make it a point to bring your friends & family around your table. Make it a point to use fresh ingredients - & lastly, make it a point to take the time to relax, nourish & enjoy the blessings which are your family & friends <3

____

If I learned anything while being in Mexico, it is that there is an abundance of people that are just like you. Ones that share the same interest, the same vision, and the same power that you do when it comes to making change, creating happiness, and stamping an imprint on your heart, however no one will have the same expression as you. When you find these people that share the above characteristics, they compliment what you already express and represent. They build off of this energy and make it better, and make you better. Be in search of similarities, and let others compliment these interests with their own perspectives. This creates growth.
 

<3

GIMMICKS: NEED NOT APPLY

GUEST POST FROM DIETITIAN MONICA AUSLANDER OF ESSENCE NUTRITION


The allure of nutrition fads, gimmicks, and trends, is remarkable. Even I, a registered dietitian with a Master’s degree, years of clinical experience in an academic hospital, and published research, have fallen prey at times (Hence - the four-hundred dollar liver "cleanse" pack I purchased from a holistic doctor rotting under my bed). 

As the dietitian, I stand for science. I stand behind the Cooking Collaborative because Deanna understands that science is unwavering, though her creativity with food is not. And through her cooking innovation, which largely uses what I call “Earth Foods,” (foods with minimal processing that come from the earth or a living creature on Earth) Deanna’s work (and mine) embody the science of nutrition.

WE'VE BOTH HAD EXASPERATING, MISGUIDED CLIENTS WHO SIMPLY DO NOT UNDERSTAND THAT NUTRITION IS, AT ITS CORE, A SCIENCE. MINE USUALLY SIT ACROSS FROM ME IN MY OFFICE AND EARNESTLY 'ADMIT' THAT THEY EAT "TOO MUCH" FRUIT AND ATTRIBUTE MANGO INTAKE TO THEIR WEIGHT GAIN. THIS IS LAUGHABLE. FRUIT, OR ANY EARTH FOOD, IS NOT TO BE VILIFIED!

WHILE NUTRITION IS A SCIENCE, IT IS ALSO COMMON SENSE. EAT FROM THE EARTH AND AS CLOSE TO NATURE MUCH LIKE DEANNA SUGGESTS IN HER OWN BUSINESS.

WHAT CAUSES ISSUES AMONGST OUR CLIENTS IS POOR FOOD PREPARATION, POOR FOOD PLANNING, PORTION DISTORTION, EMOTIONAL/PSYCHOSOCIAL FACTORS, AND POOR FOOD CHOICES OVER TIME THAT CREATE NEGATIVE WEIGHT OUTCOMES.It’s poor food preparation, poor food planning, portion distortion, emotional/psychosocial factors, and poor food choices over time that create negative weight outcomes.

Some of my clients balk at eating a single date because there is just “so much” sugar, but will guzzle Diet Coke, a known metabolic disruptor, by the gallon. They’ll reject my promise that you can eat an entire avocado every single day and that you don’t have to measure out blueberries, but will imbibe “Alien Foods” - foods that are NOT from this planet, and avoid the big picture - changing your nutrition LANDSCAPE!! CHANGING YOUR ATTITUDE TOWARDS NUTRITION AND FOOD PERPETUALLY AND REALIZING THAT THERE IS NO SHORTCUT, NO QUICK FIX, NO CHEMICAL, AND NO PILL THAT WILL RESULT IN A LIFETIME OF A CONSISTENTLY HEALTH WEIGHT. CONSISTENTLY HEALTHY EATING CHOICES IS THE KEY TO UNLOCKING YOUR HEALTH. SELECTING FOODS FROM NATURE WITH PURE, WHOLESOME INGREDIENTS, IS WHAT NEEDS TO BE ACHIEVED FOR THE LONGEVITY OF A HEALTHY WEIGHT, AND DEVELOPING HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS WITH FOOD.

CERTAINLY, THINGS LIKE CHOCOLATE CAN AND SHOULD STILL BE EATEN IF YOU ENJOY IT (A REALLY HIGH QUALITY, 85% CACAO CONTENT DARK CHOCOLATE, IN ONE OUNCE QUANTITIES). CONSUMING "ALIEN FOODS" (MAN-MADE INGREDIENTS) WILL NEVER RESULT IN A LIFETIME OF A HEALTHY WEIGHT. THEY WILL CONDITION YOU TO BELIEVE CLEVER MARKETING, PSEUDOSCIENCE, AND WILL MAKE YOU CRAVE MORE ALIEN FOODS. FOR SOMEONE TO CHANGE THEIR DIET PERMANENTLY - TO BEGIN A NUTRITION PROGRAM OR A MEAL PROGRAM WITH DEANNA IS TO BEGIN A PROCESS. IT IS NOT A VISIT TO THE DENTIST OR A DOCTOR. IT IS NO WHERE NEAR AS FINITE. IT IS THE BEGINNING OF A JOURNEY; JOURNEYS WILL HAVE UPS, DOWNS, HALTS, TWISTS, TURNS, TRIUMPHS, AND FALLS. NUTRITION CHANGE TAKES TIME. YOU'VE BEEN ALIVE AND EATING FOR OVER X YEARS, WHY WOULD YOU EXPECT MAGNIFICENT RESULTS IN ONE SESSION OR ONE MEAL? IT'S LIKE PHYSICAL THERAPY OR PSYCHOTHERAPY, THINGS UNRAVEL AND UNFOLD AND CERTAINLY, OVER TIME. THROUGH THIS TRANSITIONAL JOURNEY, PERMANENT CHANGE DOES, AND WILL OCCUR, HOWEVER PATIENTS & CLIENTS MUST KEEP IN MIND THE PROCESS REQUIRES YOU TO BE INVESTED IN CHANGE. 

SOME CLIENTS ARE STUNNED, ASHAMED, OR EVEN ANGRY WITH ME WHEN THEY AREN'T LOSING WEIGHT/REACHING THEIR NUTRITIONAL GOALS. USUALLY, IT'S BECAUSE THEY ARE BEING DISHONEST WITH THEMSELVES. THEY WILL HEED SOME OF MY ADVICE, HOWEVER WILL STILL CONTINUE ENGAGING IN NEGATIVE FOOD/EXERCISE/STRESS BEHAVIORS. THERE ARE EMOTIONAL EATING FACTORS THAT NEED TO BE COPED WITH. THERE ARE FEELINGS THAT NEED TO BE ADDRESSED, EVEN UNRELATED TO FOOD. CHANGING YOUR BODY IS CHANGING YOUR LIFE! IT'S NOT AS SIMPLE AS JUST ADDING A FEW FRUITS/VEGGIES HERE AND THERE.

IF WE (DEANNA & I) COULD GET ALL CLIENTS TO AGREE TO PUTTING THEIR TRUST IN OUR PROFESSIONAL HANDS - FOLLOWING MY ADVICE OR DEANNA'S FORM OF SATIATED PURE-FOOD ADVICE SERVED ON YOUR PLATE, REALLY - WE WOULD SEE A LARGE DIFFERENCE IN OUR CLIENT'S SUCCESS. IT'S PAINFUL AND SAD TO WATCH A CLIENT FLOUNDER, BUT WE HAVE REALIZED IT IS BECAUSE THEY HAVE DEVIATED FROM THE PROCESS AND OFTEN TURN TO ALIENT FOODS AND GIMMICKS IN A FAILED ATTEMPT TO ACCELERATE THEIR PROGRESS. THERE IS HOPE. TRUST YOUR CHEF, TRUST YOUR DIETITIAN, TRUST YOURSELF, AND INVEST IN YOURSELF IN THIS ADVENTURE THAT IS NOURISHING YOUR BODY AND SOUL (AND #FEEDYOURESSENCE.) NOT ONE BODY IS ALIKE, HOWEVER EVERY SYSTEM DESERVES THE PUREST FORM OF NOURISHMENT. YOU'LL FIND THAT WITH YOUR OWN DILIGENCE, MOTIVATION, AND OUR HELP, YOU WILL SEE AND FEEL THE HEALING RESULTS OF GOOD, REAL FOOD & THAT IS EMBRACING CHANGE! 

BY: Monica Auslander, MS, RD, LD/N

 


#GETYOLKED: SPICY DEVILED EGGS

#GETYOLKED

(FOR THE BRO'S & THE PROTEIN-LOVING WOMAN)

 DEVILED EGGS

IF YOU HAVE'NT HEARD THE PHRASE #GETYOLKED, IT'D BE BEST TO UPDATE YOURSELF WITH THE VIDEOS BELOW. TRUST ME, YOU'LL GAIN A SENSE OF HUMOR EVEN IF YOU DON'T HAVE ONE AFTER THESE VIDEOS. WE'RE STILL LAUGHING OVER both of them WHERE THE PHRASE WAS ORIGINALLY PIONEERED BY COMEDIAN @DOMMAZZETTI, AND LATER USED IN @ORGANICVALLEY'S PROTEIN SHAKE COMMERCIAL.  

Dom Mazzetti's 100 Ways to Stay Jacked

Organic Valley's Organic Fuel Commercial

ALL KIDDING ASIDE, WE'RE PUMPING UP THESE DEVILED EGGS FOR ALL OF YOU BRO'S AND EVERYONE ELSE THAT LOVES PROTEIN AS MUCH AS WE DO. ESSENTIALLY, IT'S ESSENTIAL TO YOUR BODY FOR IT TO THRIVE. THESE DEVILED EGGS ARE INCREDIBLY EASY TO MAKE AND ARE A GREAT SNACK TO FILL YOU UP WHEN YOU'RE TIGHT ON TIME. WE LIKE DRESSING THEM UP AND TOPPING THEM WITH DIFFERENT INGREDIENTS, BUT FOR TODAY - WE'RE STARTING OFF WITH JUST THE BASE. WE'LL BE POSTING MORE #GETYOLKED RECIPES IN THE COMING WEEKS ON HOW YOU CAN DRESS THEM UP A BIT MORE FOR A WEEKLY SNACK, OR YOUR NEXT DINNER PARTY. WE'RE STOKED TO BE ABLE TO TEACH YOU HOW TO BE A SOME-WHAT SOPHISTICATED, PROTEIN-LOVING BRO. DON'T WORRY LADIES, THESE ARE FOR YOU TOO! YES, WE'VE GOT JOKES - IN ALL GOOD HUMOR! 

 

Ingredients:

  • 6 FREE-RANGE eggs

  • 4 tbsp organic whole grain mustard

  • 2 tbsp organic olive olive oil based mayo or greek yogurt

  • 2 tsp smoked paprikA

  • PINCH of Salt & pepper

Top with:

  • 1 tsp aleppo pepper blend 

  • small dusting of smoked paprika for color

  • small dusting of salt and pepper

  • thinly sliced jalapeños

  • 1 tbsp sliced chives

  • caramelized shallots

Directions:

1. Place free-range eggs into a kitchen spoon and gently place them into a pan filled with water

2. Bring the water to a boil and remove from the heat.
3. Let the eggs sit fully covered for 10-13 minutes.

4. If you feel more comfortable boiling the eggs fully, cook for 5-7 minutes and let it sit for 5 additional minutes.

5. Remove eggs one by one cracking the shell under cold water. Crack the egg on the edge of the pot and gently pull away at its shell.

6. Reserve each egg.

7. Cut each egg open and scoop out its yolk into a separate bowl. Add in your whole grain mustard, mayo, s & p,  and paprika if desired. Combine until thoroughly mixed.

8. Proceed to stuff the egg whites by either adding the mixture to the whites with a spoon or a piping bag.

9. Top with your favorite seasonings.

10. Enjoy!

SUN FRESH FARM-17.jpg

WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN HIRING A PERSONAL CHEF

IN THE WHY HIRING A PERSONAL CHEF CAN BE ONE OF THE MOST BENEFICIAL SERVICES TO A BUSY INDIVIDUAL OR FAMILY. A PERSONAL CHEF IS A PROFESSIONAL CHEF THAT PROVIDES PREPARATION AND SAFE STORAGE OF WHOLESOME AND CULINARY-WORTHY CUISINE FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY. WHILE WE CHOOSE TO DO THINGS A BIT DIFFERENTLY THAN MOST PERSONAL CHEFS HERE ARE A FEW THINGS WE CAN PROMISE AT THE COOKING COLLABORATIVE.


THE EXPERIENCE:


  1. We create an initial assessment of your wants & needs by targeting your eating habits, likes, & dislikes. We advise you to consult with your doctor before beginning any new dietary change. We are happy to work with the guidance from your doctor or registered dietitian if a nutritional & dietary change is being made. We work closely with our favorite Miami Dietitian, Monica Auslander from Essence Nutrition.(We are only able to work with the guidance of a true medical professional, who is clinically seen as a registered health professional.)

  2. We review this assessment and plan for a weekly visits. (Many clients choose to book us without even a "trial-run." However, if we need to boost your confidence in our services we are happy to accommodate your wishes. Please be advised that trial runs do still incur a fee.)

  3. After the assessment takes place --> We will send you a menu for the day &/or week's choices. These menus will be sent with three-four days notice. We ask that you kindly review the menus in detail and send us your thoughts as soon as possible.

  4. Fast forward to our preparation day, & we will arrive with fresh groceries and high-quality ingredients to your home. 

  5. While analyzing and getting to know your kitchen, we will suggest possible tools that may make ours/your cooking experience easier. We've put together a great deal of our favorite items here that we suggest. (Yes, we'd love to hear that we've sprouted a future cook in you too!)

  6. Cooking begins & ends.

  7. Food labeling is always included with printed reheating instructions while clean up finishes out the job.

  8. While the new menu is already being formulated and ready to be sent to you, we also will follow up to ensure your meals were perfect. The best part --> we can adjust along the way to help you reach your goals!

THE WHY:

  • SAVE TIME & MONEY

  • MANAGE DIETARY RESTRICTIONS

  • CHANGE YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD

  • EMPOWER YOUR FAMILY TO LIVE BETTER!

  • LEARN TO RAISE HEALTHIER KIDS

  • RE-ESTABLISH QUALITY MEAL TIME

  • MAKE LASTING HEALTHY EATING HABITS

  • LEARN TO MANIPULATE YOUR FAVORITE DISHES WITH QUALITY INGREDIENTS


THE HOW:

Let's start collaborating in building a healthier & happier body.



COMPOSTING 101: WHY AND HOW YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

GUEST POST BY: DAVE SALAZAR - ORGANIC FARMER


ONE OF OUR REQUIREMENTS WHEN FULFILLING CATERING JOBS IS TO MAKE ETHICAL AND MEANINGFUL EFFORTS TOWARDS MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN OUR CURRENT FOOD SCENE. ONE OF THESE REQUIREMENTS IS TO PRACTICE COMPOSTING DURING OUR PREPARATION AS WELL AS DURING OUR CLEAN-UP AT ALL OF OUR EVENTS. NOT ONLY DO WE MAKE A DIFFERENCE ON OUR OWN, WE EDUCATE OUR CLIENTS AND CUSTOMERS ON HOW THEY TOO, CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

WE'VE BEEN LUCKY ENOUGH TO HAVE OUR GOOD FRIEND AND FARMER, DAVE SALAZAR (NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH ONE OF OUR FAVORITE PHOTOGRAPHERS, DAVID SALAZAR) WRITE A FEATURED POST ON THE IMPORTANCE OF COMPOSTING, HIS OUTLOOK ON THE SCIENTIFIC, AEROBIC, AND LIFE-RECYCLING MEANING BEHIND IT ALL. OUR GOAL IS NOT TO HAVE EVERY READER BECOME A MASTER AT COMPOSTING (WE CERTAINLY ARE NOT), BUT WE WANT READERS TO UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE BEHIND WHY WE STRIVE TO PRACTICE THIS AT OUR EVENTS & OUR BUSINESS. IT MEANS SOMETHING TO US AND WE'D LOVE TO EXPLAIN THE WHY!



THE DETAILS FROM DAVE:

COMPOSTING IS AN AEROBIC REACTION WHICH HARNESSES BENEFICIAL MICROBES (BACTERIA, FUNGI & ACTINOMYCETES) TO DIGEST FOOD SCRAPS AND CARBON SOURCES SUCH AS STRAW OR DRIED LEAVES. THE RESULTING PRODUCT IS NUTRIENT-RICH FLUFFY HUMUS (ORGANIC MATTER) WHICH CAN VASTLY IMPROVE SOIL QUALITY. THE MICROBES THAT BREAK DOWN FOOD IN COMPOSTING BREATHE AIR. THE MOST IMPORTANT ASPECT OF COMPOSTING IS TO KEEP TURNING THE PILE SO THEY DONT SUFFOCATE.

BASICALLY, THE MICROBES THAT LIVE IN A COMPOST PILE, USE CARBON AS A HOME AND NITROGEN AS A FOOD SOURCE. THE IDEAL PILE OF COMPOST WILL HAVE A RATIO OF C:N AROUND 25:1. FOOD SCRAPS TYPICALLY HAVE A C:N AROUND 15:1. FARMS OFTEN USE OLD STRAW OR DRIED LEAVES AS A SOURCE OF ADDITIONAL CARBON. 
(Yes, we got a bit technical on you for a second.)    


Piles of organic matter to be composted by our friends at Sun Fresh Farm

Piles of organic matter to be composted by our friends at Sun Fresh Farm


WHILE WORKING AT POTOMAC VEGETABLE FARM IN VIRGINIA, I MADE HIGH QUALITY COMPOST BY FOLLOWING THE LUEBKE METHOD, OR CONTROLLED MICROBIAL COMPOSTING. ALL THE "INGREDIENTS" (STRAW, LEAVES, MANURE, AND OLD VEGETABLES) OF THE COMPOST ARE LAID OUT IN 200 FOOT STRIPS (QINDROWS) ABOUT THIGH HEIGHT. A FEW BUCKETS OF FINISHED COMPOST WAS THEN ADDED TO INOCULATE THE WINDROW WITH BENEFICIAL COMPOSTING MICROBES. A TRACTOR WITH SPECIALLY-DESIGNED WINDROW TURNERS WAS USED A FEW TIMES A WEEK TO MIX ALL OF THE INGREDIENTS AND 'FLUFF' THE PILES TO FACILITATE RESPIRATION. HUGE FELT BLANKETS WERE THEN USED TO KEEP EXCESSIVE RAINFALL FROM SOAKING THE PILES, WHILE STILL ALLOWING THE PILES TO BREATHE. THE INTERNAL (FROM THE CENTER OF THE PILE) TEMPERATURE OF THE PILE WAS CHECKED EVERYDAY WAS WELL AS THE LEVELS OF THE MOISTURE AND CO2. AFTER HOVERING AROUND 150 DEGREES, THE PILE WILL BEGIN TO COOL AS THE COMPOST BECOMES READY. THE ENTIRE PROCESS TYPICALLY TAKES 8-10 WEEKS. 

Farmer Jeremy from Sun Fresh Farm showing us organic matter soon to be composted.

Farmer Jeremy from Sun Fresh Farm showing us organic matter soon to be composted.

THE FINISHED PRODUCT OF A WELL-MANAGED COMPOST PILE IS ORGANIC MATTER CALLED 'HUMUS' QHICH DOES WONDERS FOR SOIL HEALTH, AS WELL AS PROVIDES A THRIVING ECOSYSTEM FOR PLANTS TO GROW. THE ADDITION OF HUMUS TO THE SOIL IS BENEFICIAL IN A MYRIAD OF WAYS. HUMUS ACTS AS A SPONGE, INCREASING THE SOIL'S ABILITY TO RETAIN WATER, MAKING PLANTS MORE RESISTANT TO BOTH DROUGHTS AND FLOODING. THE MOLECULAR STRUCTURE OF HUMUS INCREASES SOIL'S NUTRIENT-HOLDING ABILITY, CALLED "CATION-EXCHANGE CAPACITY." HUMUS CAN HOLD ONTO CRUCIAL NUTRIENTS SUCH AS POTASSIUM, CALCIUM, AND MAGNESIUM WHILE PREVENTING  THEM FROM BEING LOST DURING HEAVY RAINS, WHILE STILL REMAINING AVAILABLE TO PLANTS.

YES, SOIL HEALTH DOES AFFECT THE NUTRITIONAL COMPOSITION OF YOUR FRUITS & VEGGIES.

IN THE UNITED STATES, OVER ONE THIRD OF ALL FOOD PRODUCED IS WASTED - MORE THAN 20 POUNDS PER PERSON. ORGANIC WASTE IS THE SECOND LARGEST COMPONENT OF LANDFILLS, WHICH ARE THE LARGEST SOURCE OR METHANE EMISSIONS. METHANE IS A GREENHOUSE GAS 21 TIMES MORE POTENT THAN CO2. A PROPERLY MANAGED (WELL AERATED) COMPOST PILE SHOULD GENERATE A MINIMAL AMOUNT OF METHANE. LARGE AMOUNTS OF CO2 ARE GENERATED WHILE COMPOSTING, HOWEVER THE CARBON HAD RECENTLY BEEN TAKEN OUT OF THE ATMOSPHERE BY PLANTS AND THUS REPRESENTS A NET GAIN OF ZERO. CONVERSELY, CARBON RELEASED FROM THE BURNING OF FOSSIL FUELS HAD BEEN STORED IN THE STABLE FORM OF PETROLEUM FOR MILLENNIA. IF YOU LIVE IN A SMALL APARTMENT, THE BEST WAY TO PROCESS FOOD SCRAPS IS WITH WORMS. RED WIGGLER WORM COMPOSTING KITS ARE AVAILABLE ONLINE AND CAN EASILY HANDLE THE AMOUNT OF FOOD WASTE GENERATED BY A HOUSEHOLD. THESE HARD-WORKING HERMAPHODITES ARE THE QUICKEST WAY TO TURN APPLE CORES INTO QUALITY COMPOST IF PROPERLY MANAGED. THE DETAILS OF WORM COMPOSTING ARE COVERED IN THE PERENNIAL BEST-SELLER "WORMS EAT MY GARBAGE."

ALL-IN-ALL, IF YOU'VE GOTTEN TO THE END OF THIS ARTICLE, WE COMMEND YOU AND TAKE OUR HATS OFF TO YOU. IT WAS PRETTY INTENSE FOR A NON-GARDENER, NON-FARMER, OR THE FURTHEST THING FROM A SCIENTIST KIND OF READ. OUR EFFORTS TO REDUCE OUR WASTE, BETTER OUR SOILS, AND MAKE EFFORTS TO BETTER THE LAND THAT CONTINUES TO GIVE TO US IS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS WE CAN DO AS A COMPANY. HERE AT THE COOKING COLLABORATIVE, WE VALUE OUR FARMERS AND OUR FOOD REFORMERS FOR THEIR EFFORTS AND WE'RE MOST CERTAINLY HERE TO SUPPORT THEM. WE'RE HOPING TO LINK THE FARMER'S EFFORTS TO YOUR FORK. 


IF YOU'RE A FLORIDA FARMER, PLEASE GIVE US A SHOUT AT THE LINK BELOW!


8 RULES TO ROCKING YOUR PERSONAL RODEO


8 RULES TO ROCKING YOUR PERSONAL RODEO


This article first appeared in Equestrian Times Magazine.

Some days we feel as if we’re experiencing our own personal rodeo, from one task to the next, life can be quite grueling. Finding balance as a dedicated rider, or possibly just finding balance in general may prove to be a struggle for some. Dedicating my work to expand beyond my kitchen doors is quite easy, but controlling the reigns lies in the difficulty that is; defining my industry to be one that recognizes food as one of the key elements to good health, while finding balance between it all.  Here’s our top suggestions for controlling the reins of your own health, and why rocking your own personal rodeo may not be that hard after all. 


RULE NO. 1:
BE IN A COMMITTED RELATIONSHIP
(WITH YOUR HEALTH)


The harsh reality that there are only 24 hours in a day for a busy individual is the downfall to anyone struggling to fit everything in. One thing we recommend as our number one rule, is to be fully committed to what your goals are. Let it be a fire under you, an obsession, and the burning desire that drives you forward. Staying focused on the task at hand almost always proves to create a faster or more complete end result.


RULE NO. 2: PLAN AHEAD


The key to success never falls short without a proper plan. The saying goes “fail to plan and plan to fail.” This statement could not be more accurate. Yes, winging it may be a familiar practice, but true accomplishments lies in the hands ofsolid plan. With the various apps that are available today, we really have no excuse to organize our thoughts and formulate something great.


RULE NO. 3:

CLEAR YOUR SPACE AND FREE YOUR MIND


A cluttered space results in a cluttered mind. Multiple scholarly publications have shown that stress levels drastically rise while clarity decreases when clutter surrounds them. If you think of clutter in the same way that you think of a chaotic day, we can measure how incredibly similar they both can be. 


RULE NO. 4: FIND & EMBRACE A 'FRIENDTOR'


One of the key elements of reaching a goal is dependent on the team that supports you. It is said that any good leader knows they are only as good as their team. The same is true in regards to your success on any level whether that is a team of 2 or a team of 200. Being on a journey alone only sculpts the mind’s individual thoughts and ideas, however others are the ones to put these thoughts into actions. The support and motivation that is gained by working on a common goal helps to guide you, motivate you, and drive your stamina whether on the horse or off of it. Whether you are meeting a goal you have set forth for you and your horse, or a goal that extends beyond your training, taking a step to the next one is easier with someone to support you. Embrace one another’s thoughts. Let it mold you. Let it excite you.  If you don't always believe in yourself, rest assured knowing that a good friendtor always will.


RULE NO. 5: ASK QUESTIONS, SEEK ANSWERS


If you’re anything like most individuals, there’s a struggle that takes place at some point in our lifetime in regards to our health, whether diminutive or life-changing. Severe or mild, health and wellbeing needs the honesty of dramatizing even the most minuscule issues at hand if that means finding a bigger answer. If you are an individual who is seeking answers this rule is for you! We often take our health for granted assuming that our bodies are functioning correctly without having any pre-conceived notion that they may be in fact, under attack. I have found that being a well-educated patient is a savor when it comes to finding answers to your questions. A doctor can only do so much, much like a ‘friendtor’ can only motivate you to a certain degree. It is up to the individual to piece together a portion of the puzzle to draw closer to an answer or a goal. Nutrition and Health awareness does not have to be a victim of ignorance. Simply put, educate yourself on the warning signs and the internal alarms that your body provides. 


RULE NO. 6: GET TO KNOW WHAT'S GROWING


When rounding up these personal rodeo tasks, factor this one in as one of your top priorities. We cannot stress this enough. Get to know your gardener, your farmer, and the concept that fresh is best. Burry the boxed goods, and throw away your artificial sweeteners. Get as close to nature as possible when it comes to your food.


RULE NO. 7: BULK PREP


This rule pairs nicely with Rule No. 2. If your goal is anything related to eating a healthier diet, eating out less frequently, or simply eating more homemade meals; bulk prep is likely your saving grace. By focusing on one day each week to prepare specific ingredients, you will save significant time throughout a busy week. Some of our favorite things to bulk are listed below:

  • Garbonzo beans
  • Black Beans
  • Lentils 
  • Quinoa
  • Brown Rice
  • Farro
  • Fresh Greens
  • Fresh Veggies (pre-cut)
  • Homemade Granola
  • Fresh Fruit (pre-cut)
  • Nuts (pre-portioned for on-the-go)

RULE NO. 8: PUSH YOURSELF


Finally, we’re putting the most obvious rule at the very end which is to push yourself. If these rules seemed to be rather obvious, our goal has worked. This article served as a reminder to those working towards a goal to keep doing what you’re doing and to possibly incorporate some of our favorite reminder rules when mastering your own personal rodeo.
 

With wholesomeness,
-THE COOKING COLLABORATIVE-