Time flies when you’re buried in snow. It seems like only a few weeks ago I was down in Florida enjoying the ocean and the sun. Months have passed but the memories remain. I took a road trip with my former girl friend and now good friend Stacia down to Bradenton, Florida in mid December. We spent Christmas with her cousin Tess Challis and family. Tess is a vegan chef and author who is also the co-founder of Get Waisted, a healthy vegan version of weight watchers. Tess’ husband Carl is the head chef at a raw food cafe in Sarasota called Ionie. I spent a day in the kitchen Tess and Carl… tasty good times.
Now I’m back in Michigan at Camp Rawnora. There’s no shortage of snow in these parts. I’m looking forward to the start of the 2014 season here at the camp. We still have 2014 Raw Recipe calendars available. It’s never too late to pick one up.
Our first event this year is the March Maple Water Fast beginning on Wednesday March 19th through Sunday March 23rd.
Thanks for joining me for the second installment of the “pawpaw diaries”. This weeks episodes features a video and recipe for pawpaw pie. Considering that pawpaw is the largest indigenous North American fruit, I think I’m justified in saying that pawpaw pie is more American than apple pie. Apples immigrated to North America with the European colonists while pawpaw was here long before they arrived.
One interesting thing about the pawpaw tree is its flowers, which are tri-lobed and face the ground when in bloom. These funny flowers aren’t very fragrant and what little fragrance they have isn’t very friendly. Their smell has been likened to rotting meat which explains their native pollinators: blow flies, carrion beetles and the occasional fruit fly. I put my nose up to a flower in the Spring and really didn’t notice a smell at all. Pollinated flowers yield fruit that ripens by late September and early October here in Southwest Michigan. Ripe fruit drops from the trees and is a highly prized meal for deer, squirrels, fox, raccoons, possum and black bears. It’s rare to find an unblemished fruit on the ground. Usually they’ve been snacked on. The best harvesting technique I’ve found is to shake the tree and collect what hits the ground. You can admire my technique in the video included in my previous post on pawpaw.
The more I learn about pawpaw the more impressed I am with it. Why has no one ever heard of this fruit? Why can’t you get it in grocery stores?
Unfortunately pawpaw hasn’t quite made it mainstream… yet. While there are plenty of pawpaws feeding the woodlands creatures, they’ve only established themselves at local farmer’s markets and at regional grocery stores. Some of the disadvantages pawpaw’s have which are preventing them from being more mainstream is that they quickly ripen once picked, bruise easily and potentially ferment in their skin once ripe. Some varieties of pawpaw have shown to be better cultivars than others. The ideal pawpaw variety yields many fruit of large size with abundant flesh and few seeds. If Neal Peterson has his way, pawpaw would be seasonal staple around the country.
Neal Peterson tasted his first pawpaw in 1975 and since then he has made it his mission in life to develop pawpaws into viable cultivated crop. Over the past 30+ years he has created pawpaw varieties with outstanding yield, size, flavor and percentage of flesh. For those wishing to look into growing your own pawpaw, he is the authority and source for all things pawpaw.
March Madness finally has meaning in my life once again and I’m not talking about watching college kids running around dribbling a ball either. March is typically the time that the maple sap starts flowing in Michigan and right now the flow is upon us. The picture above shows how the professionals tap a tree. This year I decided to actually tap some trees as well. My set up was a bit more creative and DIY, but I got the same results… gallons and gallons of maple tree sap. Watch the video below and see.Since tapping the trees I’ve been on a steady diet of maple sap for all of my hydration needs. If you have never experienced drinking a chilled glass of maple sap I encourage you to do so. The sap is 97-98% water when it comes out of the tree and from all appearances you would assume it is just plain water but you would be mistaken. It’s living water complete with organic minerals. The taste is crisp and refreshing with a slight maple syrup sweetness to it. I drink 2 glasses first thing in the morning. The first glass I drink straight and use it to throw back an MSM pill or 2. In the second glass I add some Oceans Alive marine phytoplankton. That’s the way to start the day. My only issue is that I have to keep the sap chilled in the refrigerator to keep it from spoiling. I’m not big on cold drinks in the middle of winter but I’m able to make this exception.
Here are some of the other creative ways I’ve integrated maple sap into my daily diet:
Smoothie base, use the sap instead of water
Tea base, I use an electric kettle, be sure to rinse it out because the sugar can collect inside the kettle
Raw granola and cookie recipes, I use the sap instead of water when making these recipes that will eventually be dehydrated
Kombucha starter base, my first attempt at this wasn’t exactly successful but I’m sure it was something I did and not the maple saps fault
Enjoy this video on how to harvest maple sap gadgetarian style. – Keep it Live!
It’s still a bit chilly around here but I thought I’d share a video from last summer that features one of my raised bed gardens at Camp Rawnora. I used old fence posts and fence boards to create the frame for the garden. The length of the fence boards determined the length of my garden. The only cutting I did was on the fence posts which I cut down to 14 inches. I dug a 6 inch deep hole for each of them and secured them in the ground before attaching the face boards. With recycled wood it is important to pre-drill holes and secure everything with wood screws. This aged wood had a tendency to split at the ends and pre-drilling will prevent that.
Underneath I lined the ground with cardboard and newspaper to kill off the grass and to prevent weeds from growing up into the bed. Eventually all of this material will breakdown and turn into future fertilizer. The beds were filled with composted manure which our horses happily produce. I topped the beds and the walkway around the bed with woodchips. This was useful for retaining moisture in the beds especially during the drought we had last summer.
All the plants that went into the raised bed were grown from organic seed started under grow lights and then transplanted. The variety of tobacco used was from heirloom seeds gifted to Camp Rawnora by a Native American. The tobacco leaves and seeds were collected for ceremonial usage. As you can see from the pictures, humming birds enjoy the bountiful yellow blooms of the tobacco plant.
Currently the bed has a thick layer of dead leaves on top of it which is covered in a layer of snow. Eventually the snow will melt and it will be time to replant the bed. This year I plan on using activated EM to prepare the soil and I hope to experiment with compost tea as well. I’ll be sure to post my progress.