Happy spring to everyone. The gardens and greenhouses are coming alive here at Camp Rawnora. I’m really enjoying the wild foraging, looking forward to finding some morel mushrooms. The retreat season is underway here at the camp. Here are a few of our upcoming events:
Here’s a timeless classic the Tu-No salad collard wrap.
The recipe is pretty simple. Dulse, which is a sea vegetable, gives it the “tuna” taste. Other sea vegetables can be substituted. Sea veggies are a great source of trace minerals including iodine which is important for thyroid function.
2 C sunflower seeds – soaked
1 – 2 T miso (organic, unpasteurized)
2 T apple cider vinegar
2 T lemon juice
1/4 – 1/2 C olive oil
1/2 C onion – diced
1/4 C dulse flakes
1 C celery – diced
2 T capers – add at end
1 – 2 t paprika
1/2 t salt or to taste
Place all ingredients except the capers, onions and celery into the food processor and process smooth.
Transfer the mixture to a bowl and fold in the onions, celery and capers.
Serve in romaine lettuce or collard leaves with other fresh fixings.
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.
Winter has well established itself here in Michigan with snow on the ground and temperatures below freezing. It seems that only a week ago I was trekking through the Rawnora landscape in search of pawpaws. What’s a pawpaw you say? That’s a fair question to ask considering this native fruit is relatively new to me as well.
Pawpaw, Latin name asimina triloba, is the largest indigenous fruit in North America. The pear-sized fruit resembles a light green mango in appearance though some fruit bulge at each end looking more like a green Mr. Peanut. The flesh of the fruit it light yellow and has smooth custard like consistency. Each fruit contains 6 to12 black seeds. Pawpaw’s flavor reminds me of banana and mango with hints of vanilla. Some local names given to this native food are Ozark banana, Indiana banana, wild banana, Kentucky banana, banango… Are you noticing a pattern?
There are multiple varieties of wild growing pawpaw. Their fruits vary in size, color, skin thickness, flavor and number of seeds. Here at the camp we are fortunate enough to have a very juicy and tasty variety of pawpaw. The closest relative of the pawpaw grows in the tropics. Pawpaw is related to soursop, sweetsop cherimoya and other Annonaceae family trees… all of which I love to eat. Unfortunately these guys only grow far, far away.
Both the pawpaw tree and fruit have complex chemical properties that have both health and agricultural applications. Compounds known as acetogenins in the leaves, twigs and bark of the pawpaws are a natural insecticide and show anti-cancer properties. Pawpaw fruit is higher in protein than most fruits and is also rich in fatty acids. Caprylic acid (octanoic acid) in pawpaw fruits is a compound shown effective against bacteria infection and is also used in supplements taken to suppress candida.
Enjoy this pawpaw hunting video from October of this year and stay tuned for my next post where I’ll show you how to make a pawpaw pie.
It’s no secret that I’m a huge miso fan. I use miso in dressings, sauces and on almost daily basis in my almond miso spread. My preferred miso of choice is chickpea miso either from South River Miso or Miso Master. Both brands are organic and GMO-free. When shopping for miso, look for it in the refrigerated foods section of the health food store. Your average grocery store will not have miso unless it’s an Asian market. Miso seems to be a food item only appreciated by those with an Asian upbringing or those aware of the importance of fermented foods.
Miso is my favorite of all the ferments because of its flavor, functionality and superfood status. Miso is a fermented bean paste that most people are familiar with in the form of miso soup. The soup, being made with boiling water is unfortunately dead. There’s no need to kill your miso in the process of making soup. Especially considering the time invested in making this living food which is anywhere from 3 months to 3 years. Heating water to 150F and allowing it to cool will make soup that is warm and alive. Miso has many endearing qualities. For starters it takes an indigestible protein source – beans, legumes and pulses – and makes them digestible. The bean most commonly used to produce miso is soybean. Because of GMO (genetically modified organisms) concerns, one must be sure to purchase organic miso products to insure that you are not consuming a food containing genetically modified ingredients. I am a fan of chickpea miso, which has no soy in it at all. Miso must be unpasteurized to retain its health benefits. Miso powders are not a substitute to vibrant living unpasteurized miso paste. Miso has a hearty salty flavor with earthy undertones that are dependent on the ingredients used to make it. Dark misos are heartier and make wonderful additions to savory recipes while light misos are salty and slightly sweet allowing them to be used in milder creations.
In Asian countries like China, Korea and Japan; miso and fermented vegetables are a traditional daily staple. In some households they are served with every meal.
Miso contains Lactobacillus like other friendly ferments. This probitoic has been shown to protect against E. Coli, Salmonella and Shigella. Another beneficial characteristic of unpasteurized miso is its ability to detox heavy metals and radiation from the body. Miso is a enzyme rich, protein dominant food containing all the essential amino acids. Miso contains omega-3 fats as well as lecithin, which is an emulsifier. This combination allows miso to balance cholesterol in the body. Miso is also a great source of calcium and B vitamins. Its salty taste allows you to use it in place of salt in many recipes.
Enjoy this miso marinade recipe and video. I hope you can join me at one of our upcoming retreats and Camp Rawnora in Michigan. The marinated asparagus is sure to be delicious. Keep it Live!