Over the weekend, I finished day 3 of “Fundamentals of Raw Cuisine“, a course offered online through the Matthew Kenney Academy. It was a lot of fun to have an entire day to work on my course material. Normally, I go to work and then I come home with limited time to work on the homework and recipe projects in the evening. I do what I can and try not to stay up too late, but I really love playing in the kitchen, so it’s a challenge. 😉 On Saturday, however, I was able to finish up a full day’s worth of the curriculum material!
I started day 3 off with… you guessed it… more knife skills. If you’ve seen my first two posts about my experiences here, then you know this is how I start every day of the curriculum. My cuts seem to be improving a little bit, and the correct grip of the knife and hand placement is starting to become more familiar to me too. I find myself making it more of a habit now than having to think about where my hands go, which is a really good thing, for the sake of keeping all of my fingers un-injured.
After some reading material about soaking and sprouting, it was time to make almond milk using some almonds that we had been instructed to soak the night before. I am no stranger to making simple nut and seed milks. Hemp seed milk is my favorite to make.
What was new for me were some of the other ingredients that we added to the milk. There were some really valuable lessons learned here about flavor balancing with fats, sweeteners, and salts. We were instructed to taste the milk after the addition of each ingredient and notice how the flavor and texture changed. By the time I was done adding things to the blender, it was much more familiar in taste and flavor to the almond milk you might find at the grocery store, but without any of the typical additives of a store bought product.
Besides the plain almond milk, I made strawberry and cacao versions as well. That is why one has a pinkish color and another has a light brown color. The colors are subtle. No artificial anything here! I’ve been enjoying my fresh nut milks with gluten free oatmeal.
One of the things I am really loving about this course is the way they talk about using up leftovers so as not to waste anything. For example, almond pulp that is strained out of the nut milk is added to the dehydrator and then blended into an almond flour.
The next assignment was to make a delicious smoothie with our fresh almond milk and to learn about “smoothie building”. To think, all this time, I was just tossing things into the blender and hoping for the best, and there is apparently a magic formula that I should have been using instead. The recipe provided was for a “blueberry bee” smoothie. I could not find the book that this recipe came from, but it was published over on the “Pure Wow” website last year if you want to go have a look. I highly recommend trying it!
After flavor blending exercises and smoothie making, it was time to make some kale chips. We were taught the basics of making our own sauce/marinade for the kale, and then we got to play around with it to make our own flavors. They looked pretty good going in. As long as they dehydrate properly overnight and taste good when I take them out, I will be happy to share my recipe flavors tomorrow. I opted to make a “ranch dressing” flavor and a “spicy mango lime”.
But, wait… there’s more! THREE lessons in fermentation and pickling were to follow. Anyone who knows me in real life knows that I’m a bit of a fermenting fool. I always have sauerkraut in the fridge with another batch fermenting on the counter, ACV fermented garlic, a random vegetable lacto-ferment, kombucha and jun, occasional wild fermented wine, etc. Probiotic fermented foods have made a huge difference in my health. They have helped me to reverse most of my allergy problems, and kept me from getting sick in the last two years. Anyway, I was really excited to see this material not only included in the curriculum, but included as early as day 3!
For as much fermenting as I do, one thing I have never made is kimchi. That is partially because I wanted to be sure I had an authentic recipe so I could do it justice. Well, ready or not, there is a jar of kimchi happening in my kitchen right now anyway! It smelled really great going into the jar! Never fear, I followed proper protocol and pushed it all down below the brine with a leftover cabbage leaf. The picture of the vegetables floating on the top sure is pretty though!
I had half a head of Napa cabbage and most of a head of red (purple) cabbage left over after making this, so… SAUERKRAUT SPONTANEOUSLY HAPPENED IN MY KITCHEN! Shocking, I know. Ha!
We also made some basic quick pickles, to which I added garlic, dill, and peppercorns. I have been growing pickling cucumbers on my porch and I was really excited that I was able to use something I grew myself in a recipe for the course. I have already put my home grown basil to use in all of the recipes that call for it.
Another new thing for me was pickled ginger! I have always wanted to try making this because whenever we eat sushi at restaurants, the pickled ginger looks as though it’s been artificially colored and tastes funny. It will be a lot of fun to use my pickled ginger for when we made sushi at home!
Overall, it was a very fun and productive day. I am looking forward to what comes next and eating some of those pickled foods!