Thursday, December 27, 2012

Bright & Beautiful Butternut Curry Soup

eeny, meeny, miny, moe
photo by Thea

2 medium butternut cut in half length wise
4 tablespoons peanut oil, or 2 Tbs. sesame oil & 2 Tbs. coconut oil
2 Tbsp. curry powder
2 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp red pepper flakes
6 garlic cloves
2 quarts chicken broth
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
juice of 1 lime
sea salt
black pepper
½ cup chopped cilantro

Bake squash face down in baking dish for one hour at 400 degrees.  Let cool.

Meanwhile,  sauté curry powder, ginger, cumin and red pepper flakes until fragrant. Add garlic and sauté until it begins to color.  Remove from heat.

Scoop flesh from squash, discarding seeds, and put ½ in blender with ½ broth and ½ spices.  Process until smooth and transfer into soup pot. Repeat with remaining squash, broth and spices.

Add coconut milk, lime juice, salt and pepper to taste and heat through.  Add cilantro just before serving.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Caribbean Coconut & Pineapple Bread Pudding with Rum Sauce

Adapted from Nydia’s Miami Kitchen
Gluten Free
Photo by Thea

Allow me to share with you this Bread Pudding with a Caribbean twist, and bring you back to Nydia’s Miami Kitchen for a rich holiday treat. How could I not? Only a few short weeks ago I found myself in Miami, standing with my daughter, Lorena (Italian for Lauren) in this Priestess’s Kitchen while her husband, Ernesto, served us a visually sensual and intoxicatingly aromatic, sweet dessert worthy of the Goddess, her-self.

Nydia was born and raised in Puerto Rico, so naturally she prefers good Puerto Rican Rum in her budin de piña y coco en salsa de ron.  To this I have added an organic, gluten free twist by replacing the coconut extract with virgin coconut oil, and the salted butter with a re-mineralizing sea salt.

The first place my mind wants to go with a dish like this is, “oh it’s sooo bad!” Why is it that we have become such a guilty food culture? As I thoroughly enjoy this rare treat my mind goes back to my Grandmother's days when eggs were farm fresh, free range and fertile (she owned a chicken farm) and milk was fresh and raw. Sugar is sugar, so there is no getting away from that one. But did you know that sugar in the time of our grandmothers was used mostly as a preservative and for special and rare occasions like this one? It is the daily consumption of large amounts of sugar that robs us of the enjoyment, as is true for any addiction. So, I recommend moderation and the use of natural, raw and organic ingredients whenever possible. Sweet also happens to be the flavor that corresponds with the Earth Element in Chinese Five Element Theory and you can learn the difference between full-sweet and empty-sweet, and more in my online class: Indian Summer: Nourishing the Earth Element.

1 large loaf gluten free bread from organic, non-GMO flours (may be sliced)
5 eggs (preferably fertile)
2 cans organic Coconut milk
2 cups organic whole milk (preferably raw)
1 can organic evaporated milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (preferably fair trade)
1 ¾ cups raw or organic sugar
1 stick organic unsalted butter, melted
½ teaspoon Celtic or Himalayan sea salt
1 15 oz. can pineapple chunks
¼ cup pineapple juice from can
2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil

2 tablespoons organic unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons organic white rice flour
1 cup organic whole milk
1 cup organic whipping cream
½ cup organic or raw sugar
¼ cup Puerto Rican Rum

• Grease one deep dish baking pan with coconut oil

• Cut bread into 1 inch squares and place in large mixing bowl.

To make custard: beat eggs well, add one at a time beating well after each addition; evaporated milk, coconut milk, and whole. Add vanilla, sugar and melted butter beating well after each addition. Once custard is ready stir in pineapple juice. Mix well. Pour custard over bread in large mixing bowl and let soak for 5 minutes. Pour mixture into previously greased baking dish and press pineapple chunks into batter. Bake on a bain-marie (water bath: line cookie sheet with aluminum foil and fill with water for a more delicate texture.)

• Bake at 350 degrees for 1 ½ hours.

To make sauce: Add flour to melted butter and stir well with wooden spoon* to make a roux. Once thickened add one cup whole milk and mix well. Stir while adding 1 cup whipping cream, ½ cup sugar. Cook at medium heat for a few minutes stirring until it thickens to same consistency of gravy. Drizzle rum while continuing to stir.

• Serve warm with warm rum sauce and coconut icecream.

* I prefer to use wooden spoons to plastic or metal. The spirit of a wooden spoon adds tree medicine to food. I honor these tree ancestors by keeping my wooden spoons well oiled as I do my wooden cutting boards.  These simple things bring life to my kitchen and to my food.

Be sure to watch Nydia making Coconut Pineapple Bread Pudding in her now famous kitchen and learn more about a bain-marie (bagnomaria in Italian!) on her YouTube Channel, Nydia’s Miami Kitchen.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Okra Stew ~ Quimbombo Guisado

Photo's by Thea
Recipe adapted from Nydia's Miami Kitchen
In a synchronistic turn of events I found myself in Miami being gifted with crimson okra from Ernesto Pichardo's garden. Have you ever heard of crimson okra?  I made them into an okra stew from a recipe given to me by Ernesto's wife, Nydia. Let me introduce you to Nydia's Miami Kitchen! These magical vegetables were grown in honor of Shango whose color is red, and who in the Yoruba religion is the most popular Orisha, also known as the god of fire, lightening and thunder. Shango is a royal ancestor of the Yoruba and in the Lukumi religion of the Caribbean he is considered the center point of the religion as he represents the Oyo people of West Africa. His initiation ceremony survived the Middle Passage and became the basis of all Orisha initiations in the West. It is in celebration of Shango that we dedicated this meal.
1-1.5 pounds of okra
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 Bell pepper, finely chopped
1 Onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic garlic minced
1 pound chicken or pork cubed
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 can of chicken broth
Baby corn
Salt and black pepper to taste

Soak okra in salted water to remove slime for 1/2 hour and then rinse well. Make a sofrito with the bell pepper, onion and garlic in olive oil. Add meat and stir fry. Add okra, tomatoes, and broth and simmer for 30 minutes. Add baby corn, parsley, paprika, salt and pepper to taste. Heat through and serve over rice.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Morroccan Stew - Vegetarian

Adapted from Monhegan Island Cooks:
Recipes, Art & Poetry

½ cup olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 yellow or red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 large carrot, sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes
2 large tomatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped or 1 (16 oz.) can diced tomatoes including juice
1 (16 oz.) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
½ cup raisins
½ cup vegetable broth
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
5 cups cooked quinoa
 Heat olive oil in a large heavy skillet or soup pot. Sauté onion, bell pepper, carrot, garlic, coriander and cumin until soft and fragrant. Add remaining ingredients except for quinoa and simmer 15 minutes. Ladle stew over hot quinoa.

Learn more about healing the earth element in Indian Summer: Nourishing the Earth Element, an online, work-at-your-own-pace class at Wise Woman University with mentor Thea Summer Deer.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Miso Soup

A fantastically light, satisfying and healing soup for warming the digestive system.

6 cups bonito stock (dashi)
½ cup bonito flakes
5 inch piece of kombu
½ carrot sliced into half moons
½ cup daikon sliced into half moons
6 inch piece of wakame
1-2 scallions sliced
½ cup organic sprouted tofu chopped
¼ cup brown or red miso
Tamari to taste

To make stock:
Bring 6 cups water and a 5-inch piece of kombu to a boil. Boil for a couple of minutes then add bonito flakes, stir, remove from heat and strain.

Simmer bonito stock with carrot and daikon for 5-10 minutes. Soak wakame during this time. Chop and add to soup along with scallions and tofu. Simmer 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat. Dissolve miso in some stock and then add back to soup pot. Add tamari to taste.

Learn more about nourishing your Earth Element at "Indian Summer: Nourishing the Earth Element" an online class taught by Mentor, Dr. Thea Summer Deer at Wise Woman University. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Indian Summer: The Abundance of Earth

This was the year for me to let things go to seed. In the past I was too busy to be bothered with the collecting and storing of seed. Anxious and impatient I couldn’t stand the thought of letting the garden get so unruly. I either wanted to clear the way for a fall garden and greedily harvest right up until the first freeze, or put the garden to bed altogether. But this year I waited. And as I waited and watched the chard took over half the garden until by mid August I harvested enough seed to plant the whole town in chard. I am currently harvesting coriander seed; sweet basil and Thai basil seed, marigold, bush bean, heirloom tomato seed and more. There are also the wild edible and medicinal seeds like lamb’s quarters and primrose. I did well to wait this year and appreciate the power and abundance contained within a seed.  There is something very satisfying about saving seed and not needing to go to the store and buy it.  It feels rich to gift my neighbors with seed: a promise for a future full of potential.

This saving of seed puts me in touch with the cycle of the seasons. I love these seeds rich in primordial oils and containing DNA. The plant devas are all about DNA because they are the keepers of the cellular blueprints and genetic codes. And they were telling me – pay attention in the waning light of summer to the magic in a seed.

And so, in the lateness of this summer season – I paused. Late Summer is the season, according to Chinese Five Element Theory, that corresponds with the element of Earth, more affectionately known as Indian Summer. It is the transition point between the yang expansion of spring and summer to the inward yin of fall and winter.  The time between late summer and early fall metaphorically speaks to the transition between all of the equinoxes and solstices.  It is when the middle way is summoned between the extremes. It is the pause between the in-breath and the out-breath at the change of the seasons when the pendulum reverses its swing. 

We are currently at such a global transition when the energies of the masculine shift toward the feminine.  It is important for us to give pause and come to center. “Center” is the direction that corresponds with the Earth Element in Five Element Theory, also know as Five Phase Theory. It is a passing phase and one that is worthy of our attunement.

Some of the ways that we can attune with Late Summer is through the Earth Element correspondences. Two of which is the flavor sweet and the color yellow. My attention immediately turns to the spaghetti squash, golden pumpkins and sweet potatoes in the garden awaiting harvest. Sweet potatoes, yams and winter squash are what are known as a “full sweet.” Many people today have lost touch with the sweetness of life. A full sweet is one that nourishes on the deepest level and satisfies the body’s need and desire for sweet.  Empty sweets never satisfy this deeper craving and leave us robbed of vital nutrients.

On both the physical and mental levels Earth is responsible for digestion and the assimilation of food and nourishment as well as information and ideas. Earth helps us to focus the mind so that we may achieve our goals and realize our dreams.  When overburdened from excess on any level, whether it is from food or information our Earth Element cannot digest or assimilate what it receives and this produces congestion instead of providing nourishment.  When Earth is exhausted, the mind becomes disoriented and easily distracted, the body fatigued.

Earth easily assimilates nourishment from a variety of sources including food, relationships, and creativity. The Earth Element in harmony enjoys diverse relationships and is able to set goals and achieve them without distraction. On the other hand, individuals who have an Earth Element imbalance may be chronically tired, lethargic, lack mental clarity and be compulsive. They typically have weak digestion, a dulled sense of taste and abdominal bloating. Blood sugar imbalances are common.

One of the best ways to increase digestive qi is with carminative herbs, digestive bitters and demulcents. Carminatives like garlic, cinnamon, ginger and caraway warm the digestive system. Digestive bitters like dandelion, gentian and yellowroot help to clear congestion and stagnancy. Demulcents like marshmallow, slippery elm and cornsilk soothe and protect irritated or inflamed tissue.

The Earth Element embodies divine nourishment and abundance.  As I stand looking out my window at the yellow finches flying through the goldenrod fields of late summer, I notice the shifting light of the season and my mind returns to an earlier time. I see women performing the ancient ritual of winnowing the chaff as they toss their fan shaped baskets to the wind. The lighter chaff blows away and the seeds return to the cradle arm of the basket.

The seeds we are saving now are the seeds we will plant for our future in the light of a New Earth. May the abundance of Earth be yours and may you enjoy this Late Summer recipe that incorporates yellow squash and the warmth of garlic and basil.

Spaghetti Squash Pesto Bake

2 spaghetti squash, sliced in half lengthwise
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 Tablespoons butter
1 cup pesto
½ cup walnuts, chopped
1 organic tomato sliced
¼ cup Parmesan-Reggiano cheese
½ cup breadcrumbs
Celtic sea salt or other mineral rich salt and freshly ground, fair-trade black pepper

Place the squash face down in a baking pan or tray on top of the olive oil and crushed garlic so that the garlic infuses the squash during baking. Bake at 400º until tender, approximately 30 minutes (do not overcook!) Allow to cool. Remove seeds. Scrape remaining squash into a large mixing bowl and toss with butter, salt and pepper. Make pesto, add to squash and toss (you will have some pesto left over.) Place entire squash mixture into a large baking dish and spread evenly. Cover with walnuts, sliced tomatoes, cheese and bread crumbs. Dot with butter, cover with foil and bake for 15-20 minutes at 350º. Place under broiler for an additional five minutes or until breadcrumbs are lightly toasted.

2 cups fresh basil leaves from the garden or your local farmer’s market, packed
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup walnuts
3 garlic cloves, chopped
salt and freshly ground, fair trade black pepper to taste

In a food processor add garlic and walnuts and pulse.  Then add basil and pulse. Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while processor is running. Scrape down sides and add Parmesan cheese and pulse until well blended. Add salt and pepper to taste.
~ ~ ~
Thea Summer Deer, PhD is a clinical herbalist, singer-songwriter and author of Wisdom of the Plant Devas: Herbal Medicine for a New Earth.

Learn more about the Earth Element and Digestive System in Thea’s new class, IndianSummer: Nourishing the Earth Element at Wise Woman University. This class includes four interactive webinars. Visit (website link) for a class overview and free introductory webinar.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Cream of Potato-Leek Soup

 In the exuberance of spring this year I planted a raised bed vegetable garden.  Previously we had tilled the existing ground and planted what was most inclined to grow there.  But I wanted more.  I wanted things that grew deeper like carrots, potatoes, onions and leeks.  So I hauled a bunch of organic manure from Carpe Diem Farms, and hay bales to use as retaining walls. Hay bales compost at the end of the season, retain moisture during dry spells, keep the bed warm when it gets cold and protect the garden from wind and driving rain. My efforts were rewarded with a generous row of leeks that made their way into this fragrant and heart warming soup.  Leeks are frost tolerant and can be grown (organically of course!) in the early spring and late summer for a fall crop. They take approximately 95 days to harvest.

2 quarts organic vegetable or chicken stock
3 large leeks or 4-5 smaller ones including some greens
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
4 russet potatoes, scrubbed and quartered
freshly ground black pepper and sea salt to taste
¼  teaspoon white pepper
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
½ teaspoon granular kelp
½  cup heavy organic cream
2 tablespoons organic sour cream

Prepare leeks by cutting down the center lengthwise and wash thoroughly.  Remove the tough outer greens and trim the tops. Add leeks, caraway seeds, and bay leaf to broth and simmer for 20 minutes. Add potatoes, kelp, salt and pepper, cover and simmer another 20 minutes. Add parsley and simmer until potatoes fall apart.  Remove from heat and cool.  Puree in blender, return to pot, add cream and sour cream and heat through.  Serve with fresh baked bread and garnish with parsley and/or toasted ground caraway seeds.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Lamb's Quarters Spread

Lamb's Quarters ~  Photo by Thea, June 2012

3 cloves garlic
1/2 small red onion
2 cups Lamb’s Quarters
1 ripe avocado
½ cup toasted almonds or walnuts
8 pitted Kalamata olives
2 TBS mellow white miso
1 TBS fresh lime juice
dash cayenne pepper

In food processor: garlic-process, add onion-process, add lamb's quarters-process, add remaining ingredients and process. Use as a spread on cucumbers.

Lamb's Quarters
Chenopodium album is a common weed, also commonly known as pigweed because it will fatten you up! Loaded with nutrition and as much Vitamin A as carrots it contains; phosphorus, calcium, potassium, B vitamins, and more vitamin C than spinach. It is cultivated in North India where it appears in Indian cuisine and is used in South Africa as a medicinal plant for hypertension. Lamb's Quarters has a mild flavor and can be eaten raw in salads. In North America it is a non-native having been introduced and naturalized. It produces shiny black seeds that are very nutritious and is closely related to quinoa. Prepare and eat like a leafy green. Contains oxalic acid.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Jamaican Black Bean Soup

Jamaican Black Bean Soup

From Thea’s Kitchen
Adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for a Better World

2.5 cups dried black beans
1 quart veggie stock or water
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons oil
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 potato, diced or grated
1 carrot, diced or grated
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, grated
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon savory
¼ teaspoon fair trade cinnamon
dash allspice
¼ teaspoon fair trade black pepper
1 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
2 tablespoons tamari
1-2 limes
garnish: yogurt and chopped onion

Wash beans and soak overnight in water in a glass, clay or enamel pot. Transfer beans to covered saucepan (or leave in enamel) add bay leaves and cover with water by about 1 inch. Bring to a full, rapid boil and then simmer for 1 hour. Meanwhile, sauté the celery, potato, carrot, onion, garlic, and fresh grated ginger in oil until the onion is tender. Add along with remaining spices to the beans and continue simmering for another hour or until beans are done. Add salt when beans are tender. Remove bay leaves, puree ½ the soup and return to saucepan. Stir in lime juice and tamari just before serving and warm through. Serve with a dollop of yogurt and chopped onion.

Rancho Gordo is a great resource for learning more about cooking beans or for ordering the best in heirloom beans. Check out this video on how to cook beans: