Hippie Food and Me

Our current selection from Cook the Books Club, is being hosted by fellow Hawaiian, Deb of Kahakai Kitchen. Much of this well researched tome, Hippie Food by Jonathan Kauffman, echos my own history.  I lived this darn book, some of it anyway.  Caught up in the world directly around us as we were, much of what Kauffman recorded was part of the "Mainland" story or only hearsay.  We were hippies, Bob and I, of a sort, back-to-the-landers (if you can go back to where you never were in the first place) in rural Hawaii.  Building a basic, simple home, planting trees, a garden and etc. However, we were under no illusions about supporting ourselves solely by farming, and had no inclination to live off the State.  So, day jobs. Me with commercial art and raising our daughter.  Bob in Real Estate.  Also, coming to know Jesus was a large factor in our staying together and staying sane through it all.  Plus, setting aside some unhealthy drugs was a big help with that too.

As far as food goes, Kauffman focuses mainly on the vegetarian aspect of "hippie food", which I don't think really merited all that emphasis.  We had a very short period of interest in vegetarianism while backpacking in Southeast Asia, China and Japan, before acquiring our parcel of land in Hawaii.  So would agree with what he said (page 198) about the counterculture taking up "the idea of eating as a political act and converted millions of people to vegetarianism, at least for a year or two."  But, helping at our food c-op, making home cooked meals, granola, and bread, cutting out processed foods, and trying to stay with organically raised produce, was definitely a priority then and remains so.

Kauffman covered numerous large and small activist movements, splinter groups, communes, leaders, organizers, food co-ops, hippy style cafes, restaurants, health food and natural food stores, etc., etc., very historical, but a lot of it didn't resonate all that much with me. TMI, and not all to do with food, though there was enough food inspiration in the book overall. 

Thus, when he  mentioned a particular vegetarian restaurant serving Barley and Mushroom Spinach Rolls, that was what I hit on. Who knows where in the book it was?  My Kindle died, just when I'd finished reading it, so now it's not available to go back and check.  Until next week when my new one arrives.  All things being equal.  I usually make my spinach rolls with a meat filling, so this is an homage to Kauffman's version of hippie food -  vegetarian.  If you use a vegetable only stock, that is.  More about my particular garden spinach here.

On that subject, albeit nothing to do with the book, except in a round about way, at this moment I have a large ham curing in brine in my fridge's crisper drawer.  Which is its own story.  Our good friends had pigs wrecking havoc in their garden, so my intrepid grandson took one out the other night and gave us a 7 lb.leg.  I immediately thought -  that's what ham is made from!  Right?  So....the rest is history in the making.  I was very happy to find a recipe for the "city cure", not having a smokehouse or the kind of cold weather needed to let it hang out for a so-called country cure. The fat of the land here. Only one of the reasons we are not vegetarians.  But I digress.

I found this lovely recipe for the Mushroom Barley Spinach Rolls at Food.com, and made a few adaptations. Sounds as though there are some Polish roots here.

Golobki: Barley and Mushroom-Stuffed Cabbage

YIELD: 24 cabbage rolls or as many spinach rolls as you have leaves to stuff


1 large head green cabbage or spinach leaves, as many as you like, keeping in mind that this recipe is enough for 24 rolls (I made 5)
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped (3/4 c.)
¼ lb mushrooms, finely chopped
1 ½ cups cooked medium pearl barley
½ lemon, juice of (1 tbsp.)
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon salt (to taste)
¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
¼ cup finely minced flat leaf parsley
2 cups hot beef stock, preferably homemade (or vegetarian stock)
3/4 cup sour cream or 3/4 cup creme fraiche
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh dill

  • Cut the core from the cabbage. Bring a very large amount of water to a boil in a deep stockpot and carefully drop the whole head of cabbage into the boiling water. Parboil for 10 to 15 minutes, until leaves are soft and pliable. Remove head of cabbage from water with a two-pronged fork inserted into the coring hole, with a wide spatula for supporting the bottom. Drain and let cool.  Or, if using spinach leaves, just very briefly par-boil the leaves first- 5 seconds or so.
  • When cabbage has cooled, carefully separate the leaves and stack them together. With a small, sharp knife cut and remove an inverted "V" out from the thick part of the ribs, so the leaves will lie flat.
  • Melt the butter in a nonstick pan and sauté the onions until wilted. Add the mushrooms and barley and cook for 3 minutes. Add lemon juice through parsley and cook for 1 minute, then set aside to cool.
  • Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the filling onto the center of each cabbage leaf; smaller leaves take less, larger leaves take more. Fold the sides of each leaf over the filling first, then roll up from the cut stem side to enclose the filling, like making a loose burrito. Do not over-fill, or roll too tightly, or they will burst from the expansion while cooking!
  • Place the rolls seam-side-down in one layer in a large skillet or sauté pan with deep sides. Slowly pour the hot stock around the rolls, cover, and simmer over very low heat for 1 hour and 15 minutes.  If using spinach and pre-cooked barley, this should be ½ hour-45 min. max.
  • Remove the rolls and place them in one layer on a serving platter and keep them warm while preparing the sauce.
  • Pour the remaining cooking liquid into a cup; there should be about 1/3 cup. Strain the liquid, wipe out the skillet, and return the strained liquid to it. Stir in the sour cream and the dill. Cook over very low heat, stirring, for 2 minutes. Spoon the sauce over the cabbage rolls and serve at once.

This was a lovely, delicate tasting dish, with subtler flavors than my usual meat fillings.  I served it over egg noodles, and with a bit of my homemade Kim Chi on the side. We both liked it a lot.  

There's still plenty of time for you to read this current selection, and cook up something to post about.  By May 31st.  Bring it to the party, all are welcome!  Cook the Books Club.  Check the link for the rules.  I'll also share this link at Beth Fish Reads for her Weekend Cooking event, with Heather for the April Foodies Read Challenge, and thanks Mae, adding in a new link to In My Kitchen (IMK), hosted by Sherry in Australia.  It fits with my new use for a fridge crisper drawer, and of course the cooking.


Making Chocolate From Beans to Bars

Continuing on with the goal of making more from and using what we have!  I made a large batch of chocolate from our cacao this past week.  Of course, if you start the timing from picking the fruit, and cutting open, then letting it ferment a week in a big pot, next drying on trays for about a week, then roasting, husking and grinding, the time can be spread out quite a bit. For more in depth instructions, see the Chocolate Alchemist's video series.

I usually let the beans sit in containers after the initial drying stage.  They keep quite well and we can let them accumulate until there's enough to make a chocolate production worthwhile, instead of (as per usual) just using the ground, roasted nibs for my cocoa drink in the morning.  As you might notice, our cacao tree, below, has no fruit at the moment.  Though we have a few other trees, they're not yet producing.  More on the process here, from an earlier post.


Tapioca - Not Pudding, but Fritters and Pizza!

Going along with the concept of less shopping and more eating what we have, I've recently been posting on and using various staples from our tropical garden, a living, growing pantry.  Thus we showcase Tapioca here, AKA manioc, yucca, cassava, pia, (Hawaiian) or ubi kayu (Malay).  So many names for this very useful plant because it's in use all over the world.  Well, the warmer, zones at any rate. It's a pretty garden plant, and when you think it might be ready, dig it up and use the root.


Hola! Heart of A Peach Palm

Sometimes when looking up recipe ideas, and following various trails on the internet, I lose track of what got the process started.  I believe in this case it was a mention of Costa Rican Ceviche Salad, utilizing heart of palm. But the most important thing mentioned on that recipe site (for me anyway) was that Peach Palms are clonal - i.e. clumping.  At that point a little light bulb flashed in my brain. I jumped up from the computer and ran downstairs, out to the garden, to inspect my Peach Palm. It had been planted a number of years ago with the idea of providing us heart of palm, as an alternative to cutting down a coconut palm for its heart, which is the growing tip at the very top of a palm, inside the bark.  Not that I would.  When one of my brothers was a tree trimmer, in his youth, he brought us some.  However, in the years following, always in the back of my mind, I had the idea that cutting the peach palm down for a salad would be wasteful, and then there would be no more. So it remained untouched.

But, clonal means that the palm should be making little ones, known here in Hawaii as keikis.  Sure enough, that tall palm had a friend, right in back of it, which I hadn't noticed - so there were two tall ones.  And, at the base were new sprouts coming up, next to where a load of mulch had just been dumped. Oh boy, one of my happy dances ensued!  Right before chopping down a palm (yes, with some delegating). Now we can look at the palms as a sort of pantry, in which are now included various coconut palms here and there, which have sprouted from dropped coconuts, and were about to be uprooted and tossed.  Oh no!


Our Big Fat Jackfruit Adventure

My first experience, face to face, with a jackfruit.  People grow them here, but you don't generally see them in the market.   Well, occasionally in the farmer's market, cut up and wrapped in saran.  This all started when I went to a local vegetarian restaurant with a friend, wanting to try the now almost cult fruit, prepared like pulled pork.  The owner said she didn't use jackfruit for that purpose, just ripe ones in smoothies.  So I managed to talk her into selling me a whole, unripe specimen.  Luckily she had just taken delivery on a bunch of them, so I was able to stagger out, with one of the staff helping me to carry it. This is a fruit you don't want falling on your head out in the orchard.

Me negotiating said purchase. The next job was researching how to cut it open, prepare for cooking and use in some recipes. Verizon has told me I'm down to 10% due to excessive data usage.


History and Some Wee Oatcakes for St. Pat's

Call me nuts, but I'm thrilled when I come across a new book series (new to me anyway) that is absolutely terrific, full of fascinating history, great characters, a mystery to be solved, well written and even with some humor and romance.  Lots of wonderful books yet to be read. Well, watch me do a little happy dance!

I'm doing it now for Peter Tremayne a Celtic scholar who has written such a series - Mysteries of Ancient Ireland!  This one, Shroud for the Archbishop, featured today, is the second in said series. Absolution by Murder being the first. They're also called the Sister Fidelma Mysteries.  She is the protagonist, an Irish advocate and judge who is called upon to investigate a tricky and politically sensitive murder, while on an assignment in Rome.  Here's what the Publishers have on this one:

"Wighard, Archbishop designate of Canterbury, has been found dead, garrotted in his chambers in Rome's Lateran Palace in the autumn of A.D. 664. His murderer seems apparent to all, since an Irish religieux was arrested by the palace guards as he fled Wighard's chamber, but the monk denies responsibility for the crime, and the treasures missing from Wighard's chambers are nowhere to be found.

The bishop in charge of affairs at the Lateran Palace suspects a political motive and is wary of charging someone without independent evidence. So he asks Sister Fidelma of the Celtic Church to look into Wighard's death. Fidelma (an advocate of the Brehon Court), working with Brother Eadulf of the Roman Church, quickly finds herself with very few clues, too many motives, a trail strewn with bodies--and very little time before the killer strikes again."


Crispy Treats, Peacocks and Co-Dependency

Define co-dependence?  Okay, Wikipedia says "Codependency is a behavioral condition in a relationship where one person enables another person's addiction, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility, or under-achievement. Among the core characteristics of codependency is an excessive reliance on other people for approval and a sense of identity."

You can also see this phenomenon  in action, if you haven't already encountered it in life.  Just read Murder with Peacocks, by Donna Andrews.  This is her first novel, and I'm hoping she will tame the tendency in Meg, her protagonist, by the next one.  Because I will be reading at least one more of her works.  There was enough humor, laugh out loud type, good character development with some truly outrageous relatives, and hilarious situations to keep me reading, despite frequently wanting to take Meg by the shoulders and give her a good shake, yelling "Are you Serious??"

She has taken on wedding planning, Maid of Honor duties for three summer weddings, her mother's, brother's, and best friend's. None of whom are being at all helpful, far from it in fact.  Besides which, she is not a wedding planner.   Two of the couples she doesn't even want to see married, at least not to the horrid people they've picked.  So there you have it - Co-Dependency with murder.


Fiddle Head Ferns and Fennel Salad, With a Mystery

Sheila Connolly has several "cozy mystery" series out and I've enjoyed her writing thus far.  This newest series, the Victorian Village Mysteries, is outstanding already.  A real winner, judging from the debut, Murder at the Mansion.  I especially loved her blend of history, including little known background on Clara Barton, a bit of romance, an interesting premise - can a dying town be saved, and an unusual solve. It's the girl grows up, leaves town in a hurry and unwillingly comes back to help someone scenario, with a few fun twists. Connolly is an entertaining and witty writer.

Kate has a great job, managing day-to-day operations for a high-end boutique hotel on the Baltimore waterfront, when her high school best friend comes seeking help for their hometown.

Here's what the Publishers and a few Reviewers have to say:

"Welcome to Asheboro, Maryland, where the homes are to die for. . .

Katherine Hamilton never wanted to return to her dead-end hometown. But when she is called in to help save Asheboro from going bankrupt, Kate can’t refuse. The town has issued its last available funds to buy a local Victorian mansion. It’s a plan that Kate would be happy to help get off the ground. . .if only she didn’t have such bad memories associated with that mansion. Is Kate ready to do business―or is this job too personal for her own good?


Kuku Sabzi - and I Don't Mean Crazy

We are currently reading Pomegranate Soup for our Cook the Books Club, hosted this round by Simona of Briciole fame. This novel by Marsha Mehran is the tale of three young women who made their escape from the revolution in Iran, and have come to live and open a cafe in a small village in Ireland. A bit of culture shock going on here.  More so on the part of some unsympathetic Irish villagers.  However enough of the residents are willing to try the strange food on offer, and come back for more.

I did enjoy the story as a whole, though I thought Mehran's tale got off to a bad start with her prologue. All about the evil villain of the piece, Thomas McGuire.  He is so over-the-top nasty that it strains credibility.  This negativity continues through her first 5 or so chapters, carried into descriptions of  Irish villagers, police, the town, even the country side. Such as, on a remote mountain road: "the big man puffed his way along the rocky mile and a half to the cottage on foot, coughing on vapors of cow dung and pig fat that hung in the air." Truly?  Doesn't mesh with the remoteness of the spot, or "beauty of the surrounding verdant valleys."