October 28, 2009

kombucha leather

I had read about dried kombucha or vinegar SCOBYs being used as a leather substitute for shoe-making during economic downtimes. These days, it could be valued as a homemade vegan leather substitute--but I haven't found any reports from someone who has actually tried it. As a small test project, I tried using a piece of the dried out "cellulose leather" to patch a hole in some old crochet-back leather bike gloves. I think it was a success. The "celluleather" is surprisingly strong. It is smooth, flexible, and full of character.

The "kombucha leather" is layers of cellulose created by the acetic acid bacteria Acetobacter xylinum. I love that the bacteria does all the hard cellulose-making work for me. The cyborg gloves now contain material from three kingdoms: animal (leather), plant (crocheted cotton backing), and bacteria (kombucha leather patch), as well as petrochemical-based foam padding and polyester-core thread.

Finished product (more photos on flickr):

October 24, 2009

squash lentil soup

Autumn soups... mm-mmmm!! I didn't feel like measuring ingredients, but here's what I threw in: pureed winter squash, red lentils, potatoes, apples, onion, chard, lots of sage, coriander, cumin, ginger, cayenne pepper, salt, vinegar, water.

October 21, 2009


This beverage, made by soaking sumac berries in cold water, tastes remarkably like lemonade. I got the idea from the collaborative map on Urban Edibles Boulder, which had the location of sumac listed along with a suggestion of how to use it. Urban Edibles originally started in Portland, OR and there is another branch in Amsterdam, as well as similar projects in Urbana-Champaign, IL and Los Angeles.

The berries can be stored and used throughout the winter--a good way to get vitamin C! This article has a nice description of sumac and sumac-ade. Here are some ways the berries have been used medicinally:

"An infusion of the fruits has been used as a tonic to improve the appetite and as a treatment for diarrhea. The berries are astringent and blood purifier. They were chewed as a remedy for bed-wetting. A tea made from the berries has been used to treat sore throats." (Littleflower)

You can easily tell the edible sumacs (including staghorn and smooth) from the poison sumac, which has white berries. If you are allergic to cashews and mangos, you probably should stay away from all sumacs as they are in the same family.

I want to try using the foraged sumac berries to make the reddish purple powder that is used to garnish hummus and other middle eastern foods. I don't know how to go about separating the seeds from the powder though... Has anyone out there tried this?

October 14, 2009

national animal identification system

"I’m willing to go to jail to defend the young people who, I hope, will still have a possibility of becoming farmers on a small scale in this supposedly free country." ~Wendell Berry

Thank you, Wendell! I like to fancy myself with a flock of unregistered laying ducks someday... Read more about Wendell Berry's response to the National Animal Identification System (NAIS).

October 12, 2009

vegan tiramisù

Happy Birthday Julie!! I based this recipe on 3 recipes that I found online. For the custard, I combined "greta's gluten-free, vegan tiramisu" with "giovanna's true tiramisu." For the cake I used "giovanna's true tiramisu". And finally for the cake syrup I followed "shawn maurer's vegan tiramisu."

Custard Ingredients:
2 containers of extra firm silken tofu (mori-nu)
1/3 c. sugar
1/2 c. coconut milk
4 T. rum
3 T. amaretto
3 t. vanilla extract
6 T. coconut milk
4 t. arrow root

Cake Ingredients:
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 t. baking powder
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. soy milk
1 1/2 t. vanilla
4 1/2 t. egg replacer + 6 T. warm water (equivalent to 3 eggs)
5 T. vegan margarine

Cake Syrup Ingredients:
1 c. strong coffee
3 T. amaretto
3 T. sugar

and cocoa powder for sprinkling on the top

Wrap the tofu in cheese cloth and squeeze out excess moisture. Blend in a blender until smooth. Add the sugar, coconut milk, rum, and amaretto and blend again. In a sauce pan, mix the arrow root with 6 T. coconut milk until completely dissolved. Heat it over medium heat until it coagulates. Then heat and whisk for another 3 minutes. Pour the arrow root mixture into the blender and blend one last time. Refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven for the cake. Heat margarine and soymilk just until the margarine melts. Add the sugar, vanilla, and egg replacer. In another bowl mix the dry ingedients. Mix wet and dry ingredients together until just combined. Spread out the batter in 2 9x13 pans if you want a 2 layered tiramisu otherwise 1 pan will do. Bake for 20 minutes. Cut into 1"x3" pieces (lady finger sized). Throw the cut cake pieces back in the oven for 5 minutes.

When the custard is ready to go (it has spent some time in the fridge), dip the cake pieces in the cake syrup. They should get pretty saturated. Then lay them out in a dish and spread on the custard. Do 2 layers if that's the way you chose to go. Then dust the top custard layer with cocoa powder. You can let it sit overnight or honestly you can just dig in.

October 4, 2009

sauerkraut and pickles

"hey julie! how's it going? what's new?"
"oh, good. ummm... i've been making sauerkraut and different kinds of pickles..."
(awkward silence)

October 1, 2009

zucchini corn cakes with fresh salsa

We had a brief cold front come through last week - 3 nights at 36 degrees. Now again this week we are getting a cold front but this one will dip down to 32 degrees tonight! Sigh, our tomato plants are looking pretty droopy... This will probably be the last of our fresh tomato gluttony.

Serving Size: 24 zucchini corn cakes, 2 cups fresh salsa

Zucchini Corn Cake Ingredients:
4 medium zucchini, shredded
3 ears corn
1/2 red onion, minced
3 eggs
3 c. whole wheat
2 T. cilantro, minced
2 t. salt
1/2 t. black pepper
1/2 t. jalapeno pepper, minced

Fresh Salsa Ingredients:
2 lbs. tomatoes
1/4 c. red onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 T. cilantro, minced
1 T. olive oil
1 T. lime juice
1 t. jalapeno pepper, minced
1 t. salt

Salt the shredded zucchini and let it sit for awhile. Shuck and blanch the corn. Remove the corn kernels from the cobs. Squeeze the zucchini to remove as much moisture as you can. Mix together all of the zucchini corn cake ingredients. Grab balls of the cake batter and flatten. Pan fry the cakes in some oil over medium low heat.

For the salsa, make really shallow X's in the bottom of your tomatoes. Blanch them by boiling them for 1-2 minutes and then putting them under cold water to stop the cooking. Blanching will help the skins come off super easy. Peel the tomatoes and cut them laterally (side to side not top to bottom). Remove the seeds from the seed pockets. Chop the remaining tomato flesh and add other ingedients.