Fresh Mangosteens, Yay!

Last weekend they had mangosteens at the Chinese grocery store up the street, but just as I was sidling up to the bin, another lady snatched away the very last bag. When I asked the clerk if there were more in the back, he said that was it, no more. Whaaaaa! Alas, I had to wait until this weekend to return and get my own bag. So, here they are!


On the outside, they are like the lovechild of a persimmon and an aging pomegranate–think leathery shell with crackling blossom on top. Here’s a close-up:

So pretty.

So pretty.

And here it is cut it in half by running a knife around its circumference and then popping off the bottom peel:

Cut open. You can suck out in one giant gulp, or eat section by section, like an orange.

You can suck out the fruit in one giant gulp, or eat it section by section, like an orange.

Here’s another one for good measure. Despite the spots, still tasted delicious:


The awesome R. W. Apple Jr. described them as “litchis, peaches and clementines, mingled in a single succulent mouthful”, but I think I’d have to add banana-custard-lemon in there as well. They are really, really good. Still, I think I’m more of a lychee addict, which is why I was at the Chinese market in the first place. Also, the mangosteens are $8/lb while the lychees, thankfully, are less than $3/lb.

Fun fact! Lychees seriously thin your blood. If you’re taking coumadin and doing that whole routine for a health issue, you’ll notice that your numbers go a bit wacky if you’ve eaten a lot of lychees that week. I speak from experience on this.

Doh, just remembered that I actually wrote a whole piece about lychees and interviewed my pal DL about them a few years ago here.

Enjoy your lychees and mangosteens, everyone!


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Sparkling Cider Mocktail

The Man and I had a lovely drink at Paley’s Place a few nights ago called a “Cider Lane” that was non-alcoholic by design. I’m not drinking at the moment, due to alcohol napalming my blood vessels. And you know, there just aren’t enough mocktails in the world.

We’ll be bringing this to a NYE party this week where we will also be burning the man. Let me just say I cannot wait to bid adieu to 2014 by lighting something on fire in the street.

Here’s an approximation, our best guess, of the drink we had. We’ll call it a Cider Train instead of a Cider Lane since we actually don’t know what the recipe is for a Cider Lane. You could always add booze to this; I’m thinking vodka, gin, or rum would work well.

Cider Train

3.5 oz sparkling apple cider

.5 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice

.5 tsp orange blossom or rose water (pure eau, no sugar)

dash of ground nutmeg and allspice

thinly sliced apple wedges for garnish

Put all that in a tumbler over ice and stir. Garnish with a few apple wedges.

sparkling cider mocktail

Yummy and festive.

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Mock Mashed Potatoes

The Man and I have been sketching out our Thanksgiving menu. We’ll be having only three second-family friends join us this year, mostly due to my current semi-invalidity. We’re doing an Indian theme, as in, “if Columbus had actually found India, what might Thanksgiving taste like?” To that end, we’ve been conducting some experiments with various potential dishes, such as this one:

Mock Mashed Potatoes, Indian-flavored

1 head of cauliflower

1/2 stick of butter (4 T)

1 tsp salt

1 tsp ground cumin

1 1/4 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1/4 c coconut milk, yogurt, or some other liquid (my co-op is now selling these in mini 6-packs, which does not come in a can–nickel allergy–and says it has no preservatives; and of course you could make your own)

ground black pepper

  1. Chop up the cauliflower and steam it until very soft.
  2. When it’s cool enough to handle but still warm, put the cauliflower and all of the other ingredients into a food processor and pulse or blend until you get the consistency you like.

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Filed under holiday recipes, SCD, Thanksgiving

Kim Chi, Mon Amour

I’m on a big kim chi kick at the moment due to its power to improve atopic dermatitis. Even if it doesn’t, it’s delicious and full of good probiotics. I’m also slightly obsessed with Growing Up in a Korean Kitchen. So much awesomeness in that book.

I’ve made a few batches of kim chi before, but hadn’t yet found a recipe I really liked, until, today! This recipe started because I didn’t have any gochugaru and I didn’t want to ask The Man to make yet another special trip to a special store for his invalid wife. So, when I read that you could substitute with Aleppo pepper, which I did have, I got excited. Plus, kim chi is one of those things where everyone has their own recipe and it can be made a million different ways.

I plan to keep experimenting, but here is the first recipe I’ve made that I’ve really liked:

Kim Chi

1 medium Napa cabbage

3 scallions

2 carrots

1 medium daikon radish

1 medium onion

2 thumbs of ginger, peeled

5 dried Arbol chilies (woody stem tops removed, but leave in the seeds)

1 T Aleppo pepper (you can get this at Penzey’s here)

1 T fish sauce (optional, make sure it’s preservative-free)

5 garlic cloves

4 T sea salt

4 c water


Day 1

  1. Chop the cabbage, scallions, radish, and onion in roughly 1″ pieces.
  2. Chop the carrots in 1/2″ pieces.
  3. Put into your crock.
  4. Mix the water with the salt and pour over the vegetables in the crock. Set a plate on top of the mixture and then weight it down with a jar filled with water (that’s what I use, but you can use whatever clean weights make sense to you).
  5. Cover the crock with cheesecloth to let the mix breathe and to keep out bugs. I have found a quilting hoop to be more convenient than cheesecloth, see picture below.
  6. Leave overnight.

Day 2

  1. Put the ginger, chilies, pepper, fish sauce, and garlic in a food processor and blitz until you have a paste-like consistency.
  2. Mix the spice paste into the vegetables-brine mixture.
  3. Set the plate on top of the mixture and then weight it down with the jar filled with water.
  4. Cover the crock with a quilting hoop or cheesecloth.
  5. Set aside in your kitchen and mix and check every other day or so to see where things are in terms of desired taste and crunchiness level. My kitchen is typically 70F and this batch took one week to finish.

Some notes:

  • The size of a medium daikon radish to me is like this:
Medium-sized daikon radish.

Medium-sized daikon radish.

  • The size of a thumb of ginger is the size of your thumb.
  • Arbol chillies look like this.
  • The crock looks like the pic below. You can buy them here. They’re made in the U.S. I have two so that I can ferment two batches at a time. You could also use any other glass or ceramic vessel. Note also my clever DIY approach to a breathable top: a quilting/embroidery hoop found at a thrift store. The jar filled with water sitting on top of a plate to weight down the veggies is beneath the fabric. You can see the jar top poking up in the pic.
    So pretty.

    So pretty.

    And voila, here is the finished kim chi, ready to go in the fridge:



I highly recommend Sandor Katz’s Wild Fermentation if you want to get started with making sauerkraut, kim chi, and other fermented vegetables, dairy, and grains. It’s a charming read with plenty of easy-to-follow recipes. Pretty soon you’ll have two crocks and be making up your own kim chi recipes like me.

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Filed under fermenting, kim chi

Carrot Pomegranate Salad

Pomegranates, along with quinces, are one of my favorite things about fall. Growing up, my grandmother had a few pomegranate trees (really more like large shrubs) bordering her patch of dust in the Central Valley of California. And my sister also had some at her previous house. Alas, all have moved on and I no longer have access to the trees, and it’s too cold and damp in northern Oregon to grow them.

Here’s a nice quick salad for fall that I made recently. I really hate slimy, mayo-based carrot-raisin salads, so this is nothing like that. Instead you taste pure sweet carrots and pomegranates.

This would be great for Thanksgiving, or–with the pomegranate swapped out with raisins or currants–fun for Halloween dinner.

Carrot Pomegranate Salad

Mix all of the following together in a bowl:

2 carrots grated (I like the large setting on my box grater)

1/2 pomegranate, seeds separated out

1 tsp aged white wine vinegar

1-2 tsp honey (to taste)

pinch of salt (optional, can be interesting, especially if you have a coarse salt on hand like gros sel)


Yummy and pretty.

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Spiced Quince Liqueur

Here’s another quince liqueur recipe. This one is new to me, based on one in Barbara Ghazarian’s Simply Quince. She uses sugar and of course we don’t here at AFFFG.

Spiced Quince Liqueur

2 large quinces, washed, cored, and grated

4 cups or 750 ml vodka (I use Monopolowa)

2 cups honey (I prefer wildflower or berry honey because of their floral flavor, but clover is also fine)

6 cloves

2 3-inch cinnamon sticks

1/2 tsp mace

1 tsp almond extract

  1. Put the honey and vodka in a saucepan over medium heat and stir occasionally until the honey is dissolved.
  2. Put all ingredients in a big jar and shake it.
  3. Store in a cool place and shake it once a week.
  4. Should be ready by Thanksgiving. Strain through a coffee filter and put in a pretty jar, where the liqueur will just get better as it ages.
Current liqueur in the jar on the left. A previous year's version on the right.

Current liqueur in the jar on the left. A previous year’s version on the right. Mmmm.

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Filed under liqueurs, quince

Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Program

I’m no longer going to update here about my progress with topical steroid withdrawal. Instead, I’ll be updating my new page devoted specifically to TSW here.

I think updating here about food and gardening once again will help take my mind off the TSW suck-storm and help me feel a little bit more normal. So to that end, I’m going to try to finish up a post about kim chi that I’ve been working on. Stay tuned!

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