Done by @rhyspaku_tattoo who works in Australia!! This looks good enough to eat, thank you Rhys Paku…!
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Carrots are ancient, about 5,000 years ancient, originating from Egypt, Iran and Afghanistan. They spread through Africa, Arabia and Asia finally making it to Europe via ancient Greece and Rome of course. Carrots were originally grown for their fragrant flowers and leaves, not for their edible roots. You may not have recognized carrots in ancient times, as they were a variety of colors like yellow, purple, white, black, and red. Sometime in the 16th century, the Netherlands first started breeding the orange carrot (from red and yellow carrots) we know today in honor of the House of Orange, the national color for the Netherlands.
In ancient Greece carrots were not consumed as food, but used in medicines and as an aphrodisiac. They were eaten with olive oil in Rome and cultivated in Asia way before the Europeans.
In preparing carrots, scrub the skin instead of peeling it. Most of the nutritional value of the carrot is just below the skin, so peeling removes most of the health benefits. Also, this is a vegetable that you want to buy organic as the skin is very thin and you want to eat the skin.
Today, I am giving you all my carrot/ginger salad dressing. I learned it from my old master chef and I have used it for years. It is similar to the carrot/ginger dressing you probably find at your good ‘ol neighborhood sushi bar. This is just the fresh version, not the bottled one!
4-6 large carrots, grated
2-4 large pieces of ginger, grated
2 large yellow onions, grated
1c Light soy sauce
¼-½c Salad oil
For salad dressing
Grate the carrots, ginger and onion and add the ponzu and soy sauce. With a blender, slowly add the salad oil until everything is emulsified. Check taste and add more of any of the ingredients to taste.
1-1½ c Lemon/yuzu juice (Japanese citrus fruit)
1piece Konbu (its large, thick seaweed sized about 4-5”x2-4”), singed on the stove over an open flame
1c Light soy sauce
1c Tamari soy sauce
1 handful of Bonito flakes (shaved, dried bonito fish)
Singe the konbu over an open flame and immediately put all the ingredients together. Let it marinate for 2-3 days in the refrigerator. Should last up to 3 weeks.
Thank you and enjoy!!
Photo by Michelle Roberts
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Herbs Part 4
Basil. Basil, basil, basil. It is one of the most commonly used herbs next to parsley and oregano. Its aroma and flavor is strong, sweet and fresh making the perfect compliment in heavy pasta dishes. Basil has a deep history spanning 4,000+ years. Scholars seem to think it originated in India and travelled to the Middle East, first being recorded in ancient Egypt, and eventually on to Europe.
In India it was highly regarded and was used to swear oaths upon along with often being planted along temple walls and being laid out with the dead due to the protectant.
To the ancient Greeks, the word for basil, basileus, means king and there is a myth associated with the herb and a mythical creature with the head of a rooster and body of a dragon, Basilisk, and basil was the cure for its lethal bites.
Basil was originally associated with Mediterranean food and Indian food but is now more considered an Italian and Thai herb.
There are quite a few different varieties of basil, 31 to be exact. The most common basils used in modern times are sweet basil and Thai basil.
The main medicinal use for basil is as an anti-inflammatory and traditionally used for arthritis. Naturopathic doctors prescribe basil to treat diabetes, allergies, impotence, respiratory problems, and infertility. Basil is also high in antioxidants, has antibacterial properties, and basil is great for the immune system.
Today’s recipe will be an easy pesto sauce. Pair it with pizza, pasta, rice and any meat or seafood. It is fresh and simple, perfect for summer evenings!!
1/4c walnuts or pine nuts
4cloves of garlic, peeled
1 ½c fresh basil
1/2c olive oil
1pinch of nutmeg
1/4c grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Process all ingredients in a food processor until a coarse paste is formed or use a motar and pestle. Mix in grated parmesan last. Enjoy!!
I am taking a break from my herb series today. I just took my dog for a walk and was enjoying all the blooming flowers today and thought edible flowers would be fun to explore. The definition of edible flowers is a lot wider than I thought that include many commonplace flowers that are all around you daily.
Edible flowers can be used for decoration, I have used plenty of edible flowers in my plating at work; they look so elegant (except for those WAY over-used damn purple edible orchids that EVERY sushi bar seems to use to death) and the fragrant ones can be used as an aromatic. They look gorgeous in salads or on any dish really. Especially in the summer!
They can also be added to sauces or dressings but can be easily ruined by becoming mushy, wilted, or drowned out and lost. The best way to add flowers to your dish is to add them as close to the end of preparation and close to serving as possible. Edible flowers are also great candied, made into jellies or syrups.
The use of flowers in food dates back to mid 100’s B.C.
They were transported in ancient times with the same care as valuable spices. Ancient Romans, Greeks and Chinese recommended edible flowers (Romans and Greeks used mallow, rose and violets) for medicinal purposes while around the same time the Incas, Aztecs, and Hindus used flowers for religious rituals. Medieval monks used calendula in their cooking and preserved violets by turning them into sweet syrup. Edible flowers in general are thought to be cleansing for the body and are also used in teas. You should watch a jasmine tea flower open sometime in your teacup filled with hot water. It is gorgeous! Bea balm tea was used instead of black tea during the Boston Tea party of 1773 and Victorians and Edwardians candied violets and borage to decorate cakes and sweets.
Some edible flowers can be quite inexpensive and could be picked straight out of your own backyard, like dandelions (whether you want them there or not!) while some are very expensive and highly prized like saffron.
Here is a short list of some edible flowers to get your imagination going!
I have also included a recipe for candied rose petals (they are just so pretty) and rose water.
Rose water is great for everything from using it as a diuretic and detoxing agent. The healthy water also contains Vitamins A, C, D, E and B! It is considered a mood-enhancer and helps with depression. It can also be used as an antibacterial, an anti-inflammatory and ease symptoms of eczema and psoriasis. More uses for rose water include using it for pain, decongesting sinuses and asthma, menstrual disorders, scalp issues, bug bites and diarrhea.
It is also used as a relaxant (bath time!) and used in many soaps, and lotions cleaning solutions. Culinary uses can be drinks, savory dishes (film fans: Like Water For Chocolate, remember the rose petal sauce?), deserts, puddings, cakes and even curries. The possibilities are endless!!!!
Candied Rose Petals
2 ORGANIC roses, petals removed
1 large egg white only, lightly beaten OR simple syrup ( 2parts sugar, 1 part water. Boil to dissolve sugar while stirring constantly. Remove from heat as soon as sugar dissolves)
Line a baking sheet with wax paper or a silpad. Brush both side of every rose petal with the egg white and dip them in the sugar immediately after. Let them dry on the lined baking sheet. Use them for decoration or eat them alone for teatime!
Clean ORGANIC rose petals or herbs
Place a heavy glass ramekin into a deep stockpot. Fill the ramekin 3/4 full with water to weigh it down. Place rose petals or herbs around the exterior of the ramekin in the bottom of the pot and cover with water halfway up the side of the ramekin. Place a shallow soup bowl on top of the ramekin. Bring the water and rose petals to a boil. Lower heat to simmer.
Place a stainless steel bowl on top of the stockpot. It should be large enough to seal the pot, but shallow enough so that its bottom is above the top level of the soup bowl. Fill the top bowl with ice.
Simmer the mixture 3 to 4 hours, depending on the amount. As the mixture boils, the heat rises and hits the cold bowl, causing it to condense and drip down into the inner bowl. Replace ice as needed as it melts.
When done, the small bowl will contain the rose. It will have a layer of rose oil that is the essential oil or extract. The oil may be separated from the water. You can separate the oil and water if you choose by using a separatory funnel, it’s a teardrop shaped container with a stopcock at the bottom used mainly for scientific purposes. You can use this method with any herb or flower, go crazy! Let me know what you make!
Photos compliments of Getty Images
Herbs Part 3
Thyme. What can I say about it other than we all don’t have enough of it! Haha, I feel like a bit of nerdy culinary humor today! Seriously though, thyme is necessary in many dishes. It is native from the Mediterranean region and was brought to the rest of Europe via the ancient Roman civilization. They also used it to cure shyness or depression and was a given to warriors before battle to boost bravery.
Other interesting ancient facts about thyme are that thyme gets it’s name from the Greek word thymon or thumos (meaning spritedness or another meaning is to fumigate) and the fragrant herb was originally used as incense or as a fumigator during animal sacrifices in ancient Greek culture. It was also a compliment to say someone smelled of fresh thyme. Greeks also used it to flavor honey (and it is still made today on Mount Hymettus in the ancient method!) and also used the herb to flavor wine and fruit. Ancient Egyptians used thyme oil in their embalming process and in ancient England you could drink a brew made in part of thyme to see fairies. In medieval-time Wales, thyme was planted on graves (to ensure safe travel to the next life) and patches of wild thyme were known for harboring fairies.
Health benefits of thyme are as ancient as the herb itself. Traditionally thyme was used to cure nightmares. It was later recommended in tea form to relieve headaches and hangovers by Carl Linneaus, the founder of the modern botanical nomenclature system and in 1719, a German apothecary found that thyme oil could be used as a natural fungicide. It has also been found that thyme has disinfecting properties and can combat the whooping cough in syrup form. It also can be inhaled to treat septic sore throats and topically treat psoriasis and eczema.
Thyme in culinary use is just as varied and rich with history. It can be bought fresh or dried and is known to be a strong and aromatic herb. Thyme is the best at retaining its flavor out of all the herbs when dried. It is used in Middle Eastern foods such as zatar (an herb and seed mix that is a staple in the cuisine). Thyme is also used in French cuisine, like the bouquet garni, a collection of herb tied with cooking twine or made into a sachet with cheesecloth that is traditionally 2 sprigs of thyme, 3 sprigs of parsley and 1 bay leaf dried or fresh.
There are many different species of thyme. Some are used for culinary uses and some are used for decoration only. The most common thyme is usually called English thyme, French thyme, summer thyme, winter thyme or common thyme. Other culinary thymes are lemon thyme, orange thyme, lime thyme and caraway thyme. Non-culinary thymes include mother of thyme, wild thyme, wooly thyme, and creeping thyme (which is an important nectar source for honeybees).
Today’s recipe will be the above mentioned zatar mix. I fell in love with it living in the Middle East and I get excited whenever I get to indulge in it. I usually had it heavily sprinkled over olive oil-brushed flat bread alone or with labne (a thick Middle Eastern salted yogurt spread, there is a photo of it at the bottom of the page!) slathered on top. It is a taste that is so unique and addicting, I am sure most of you out there will fall in love with it if you are not already! You may have to go to a Middle Eastern market for some of the herbs, but it will be worth it!
Zatar herb and seed mix
2Tbls dried thyme
1Tbls roasted white sesame seeds
2Tbls dried marjoram
2Tbls dried oregano
1tsp coarse salt
Grind sesame seeds in a food processor or with a motar and pestle. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Store in an airtight container in a cool and dark place. You can use it for up to 6 months depending on how well you store it. If you want you can add some cumin or fennel seed or coriander to change it up a little. Some cultures add caraway seeds. You can spread it over oven-toasted flatbread (brush with olive oil first); sprinkle over salads, pizza or pasta dishes. Use your imagination and go crazy!
photos compliments of Getty images
Rosemary is one of my favorite herbs. I love its heavy aroma and interesting history. Rosemary is a member of the mint family and is native to the Mediterranean region usually growing near the ocean. It is an evergreen shrub (the leaves resemble pine needles) and can grow up to 6 feet tall, but they are usually around 3 feet tall and bushy.
There have been a wide variety of uses for rosemary over the centuries. Since Medieval times and through till Victorian times, rosemary was used for weddings in decoration and adornment. It symbolized fidelity, love, friendship and the life of the bride before marriage. Anne of Cleves, one of King Henry VIII’s many wives, wore it as a wreath dipped in scented water on her wedding day.
It has also been thrown into graves as a symbol of remembrance, a nightmare and witch repellent, stuffed into dolls to attract lovers or curative vibrations, a love-divinatory instrument, and turned into a symbol that the woman ruled the house. Men would rip up rosemary bushes growing in their gardens as a sign that it was they, not their wives that ruled the house.
Rosemary has also been used (and some still use it today) for medicinal purposes. Traditionally used in a tincture of alcohol and rosemary to treat gout and help renovate vitality of paralyzed limbs. It became the first ever European perfume called Hungary water because it was first made for a Queen of Hungary, the exact date of invention is lost to history. It has been used for improving memory and a study had shown memory improvement when the scent was pumped into the air of office cubicles in an experiment. Rosemary has a number of potentially biologically active compounds including two antioxidants.
Rosemary has a strong aroma and its culinary uses are many. You can use rosemary in everything from dry rubs and marinades to stews and sweets.
To hopefully inspire you, I am writing down a recipe to make rosemary oil. There are many uses for this oil in marinades, salads, and soups. You could also use it to garnish meat and seafood dishes or just dip a nice piece of bread in it. Put in nice bottles, rosemary oil can also be given as nice gifts!
Start with 5 sprigs of rosemary for every liter of oil; add more if needed depending on how strong you want the oil to be.
Warm a less strongly flavored oil (like safflower or sunflower oil, but you can use olive oil as well!) up on the stove over low heat. You do not want it even near a simmer, really just warmed up a bit. Meanwhile, wash the rosemary with water and dry gently with a paper towel. Place the rosemary in the glass jar or bottle of your choice. Pour the warm oil over the herb and seal the jar/bottle tightly. Store it in a cool, dark place like a pantry or cupboard for about 2 weeks to let the oil and herb infuse. Taste and add more rosemary depending on how strong you want the oil to taste. If you need to add more rosemary, add it and store it again for another week and taste it again then.
Tip: If you are using a monounsaturated oil like olive oil or peanut oil. These infused oils should be refrigerated in case of botulism. Use all oils within 2 months. You can also add garlic or chili peppers to the oil to give it more depth.
Photos courtesy of Getty images