Kung Hei Fat Choi!

Happy Year of the Horse everyone!

Susan Levitt says the following about this year: “The Wood Horse year is a time of fast victories, unexpected adventure, and surprising romance. It is an excellent year for travel, and the more far away and off the beaten path the better. Energy is high and production is rewarded.”IMG_20140201_153649

We have some high excitement and big plans for this year so we put a little extra ooomph into our Chinese New Year dinner.  Thought I should share the highlights with all of you.

Typically for a Chinese New Year dinner one eats “lucky” foods.  Or foods who’s names sound lucky.  Like this pile of delicious citrus.  “Gut” is Chinese for Mandarin Orange and its name sounds like the word for good fortune…  the bigger the “gut” the bigger the fortune.

We also made an Oyster and Tofu spicy soup. Oyster in Chinese is “Ho See” which sounds like “good deeds”.  And the ubiquitous steamed fresh fish.  The word for fish sounds like the word for riches or abundance.  Finally we made hours worth of lovingly hand crafted dumplings.  These Jiaozi are traditionally eaten over the New Year more for the shape than for the name.  The shape represents the new moon – as the Chinese traditionally follow a lunar calender the New Year always falls on a new moon.

Please enjoy these pictures.  If you have any questions or want recipes let me know in the comments. Wishing you all health, wealth and happiness! 🙂 Mara




Root Down! New Denver Restaurant Review

Looking for a deliciously fun brunch, great ambience, and bottomless mimosa & bloody Mary’s? Then get yourself a reservation at Root Down (RD) in the Highlands neighborhood of Denver now! It takes some planning to get a table where tasty breakfast and lunch dishes are plentiful and doors close at 2:30 pm each weekend.

RD, Linger Eatery, and most recently, Root Down Denver International Airport (DIA), are where Chef D and his team work together with local farmers and artisanal food makers to create unique entrees. One of the most popular dishes at Root Down, is the vegetarian and gluten-free Eggs Benedict on the brunch menu. Instead of a traditional English muffin, hearty quinoa cakes are the foundation of this colorful eggs Benny. Atop the cakes is a generous layer of ozuké pickled beets that perfectly compliment the organic poached eggs, and the creamy rich dried tomato Hollandaise sauce. Citrus dressed arugula and roasted root vegetables complete this uniquely satisfying meal.
Recently Updated4 For some time now, Chef D has been using ozuké pickled things on his Root Down brunch and raw night menus. Recently, he and Mara have been brainstorming about plans to include ozuké pickled things in new and exciting ways at all three restaurants. Can’t wait to taste what he creates!
Recently Updated8In the meantime, we’ll keep enjoying brunch at Root Down Denver, and we’ll be sure to visit their DIA location in the C concourse on our next trip. I know there will be lots of eclectic art to check out, refreshing beverages, and yummy food combinations. Plus there’s the Lite Brite bar at Linger Eatery!

• 1600 W. 33RD AVENUE, DENVER, CO 80211 | 303.993.4200 | INFO@ROOTDOWNDENVER.COM

Monday – Thursday, 5pm – 10pm
Friday & Saturday, 5pm – 11pm
Sunday, 5pm – 9pm
(Bar stays open later – 12am-ish)

HAPPY HOUR (bar only)
Monday – Friday, 4:30pm – 7pm

Saturday – Sunday, 10am – 2:30pm

Preserve @ Home – CSU Extension Program web class

University of Idaho and Colorado State University Extension Services are offering Preserve @ Home to teach adults how to safely preserve a variety of food products. Participants learn how to produce high quality preserved foods and the science behind food preservation and food safety.vintage-canning-1930s-531x425

Enrollment Deadline:
January 13, 2014

Online Class Starts:
January 16, 2014

For more information please contact Anne Zander at the CSU Extension of Boulder County azander@bouldercounty.org  303-678-6238

To view Preserve @ Home on-line course syllabus go to:


Thirst Quenching Aguas Frescas (Fresh Waters)

Aguas frescas are non-alcoholic drinks made with fruits, flowers, cereals and seeds. They are popular in many cultures, easy to make, and refreshing.

In the highlands of central Mexico, 20 degrees north of the equator, all types of flower and fruit can be grown in a relatively small space. In ‘our’ backyard, there are bananas, apples, pears, pomegranates, mangos and several different types of citrus fruits.

20130729-181343.jpg20130729-181544.jpg Besides the mild year round temps (comparable to Hawaii & Jamaica), the highlands of Jalisco boast some of Mexico’s richest soils. Los Altos, as they are locally known, receives torrents of rain during the monsoon season (June through October). The mineral rich land of Los Altos is a deep red color, and produces hectares and hectares of food. In fact, Jalisco is the leading producer of maize, beans, and livestock in all of Mexico. Here, if you plant it, even if you don’t have a green thumb, it will grow.


With all these colorful flowers and mouth watering fruits, deciding
which refreshing drink to make is no small task.


We decided to have agua de limon (real) & Jamaica. This translates to lemonade and a sweetened hibiscus cooler. Fortunately, up in the more northern latitudes, lemons are available year round, and dried hibiscus flowers can be found in many grocery stores or Mexican markets.

Lemonade (AGUA de LIMON REAL) Ingredients:
4-5 cups water
1 cup sugar (sweeter=more sugar)
1 cup fresh lemon juice (tangy=more lemons)
Ice (less water if using ice)

Extract the juice from 4 to 8 lemons, enough for one cup of juice.
Add the juice and 4-5 cups of water to a pitcher. Add sugar 1/2 cup first, then 1/4 cup at a time. Stir until dissolved. If the lemonade is a little too sweet for your taste, add more lemon juice to it. Refrigerate 30 to 40 minutes or add ice. Serve!


Hibiscus Cooler (AGUA de JAMAICA) Ingredients:
1 cup dried hibiscus flowers
2 – 2 1/2 quarts of water
1 cup sugar or alternative sweetener* (sweeter=more sugar)


Bring to a boil 1 quart of water. In a stainless steel bowl, pour the boiling water over the hibiscus flowers. Cover and let steep for 1 hour. Pour mixture through strainer or colander into a pitcher. Add remaining water and sugar, stir until sweetener dissolves. If you prefer a sweeter beverage, add more sugar. Refrigerate or add ice and serve!

* Instead of sugar, I often use a dropper full of liquid stevia, and then add maple syrup to taste for a richer sweetened flavor.


Cilantro, not just for salsa

After high school, I took several years and did some exploring. These days, this kind of exploring has a name, ‘the gap year’. Well, my gap was much longer than a year. For a while I spent time working on organic farms. While living on a farm in Virginia, one of my many jobs was to harvest cilantro in the early morning. It was a pretty easy task; gently breaking the base of each stem and neatly bundling the delicate leaves together into small bouquets. During those early morning hours, I did not appreciate all the qualities this herb has to offer. In fact, several years passed before I began enjoying it again.

Cilantro is actually the name given to the leaves of a coriander plant. It looks similar to parsley, but is a little more succulent and very aromatic. Cilantro doesn’t store very well, so either pick it shortly before using or wrap it in a paper towel and refrigerate in a plastic bag. I leave the top of the bag slightly open. These tricks help extent it’s shelf life. After flowering, it produces the beloved coriander seeds so popular in Indian recipes. This week, my garden is producing gorgeous cilantro.



Cilantro Pesto Ingredients:
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon fresh garlic, minced
1 bunch cilantro
2 tablespoons or more pecorino sheep cheese, shredded
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend. To store, put in glass jars leaving space for expansion and freeze. Remember to label the jar.


Early Garden Bounty, Greens with Anchovy Caper Dressing

We’ve had a wonderfully wet spring, and now my garden is beginning to produce. This morning I woke to hazy skies and the first really warm temperatures of the season. It was perfect harvesting weather. Like so many vegetables, lettuces are simply best when harvested from your own garden. Sweet & tender young salad greens are divine. A few weeks ago, I bought seed packets from Botanical Interests (available at many Boulder area grocery stores), and planted to my heart’s content. Thanks to good precipitation, I am preparing a simple salad of spring lettuces & radishes. Perusing through one of my many cooking magazines, I found an anchovy, olive oil, and caper dressing recipe I thought would be nice to try.

1/2 lb Lettuce greens
1 Bunch radishes
2 Anchovy fillets, drained
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. drained capers
1 cup fresh parsley
1 cup fresh cilantro
1/4 cups white wine vinegar
Celtic sea salt to taste
Black pepper to taste

Wash & prepare greens and radishes.
Slice radishes, and set aside.
Blend in food processor – anchovies, oil, capers and fresh herbs. Transfer to large bowl, mix in 1/4 cup vinegar (or more) and season with salt and pepper. Gently massage into salad greens. Add radishes, toss and serve.



20130612-172313.jpgLots of fresh herbs and the umami quality of the anchovies made a combination that was delicious on cannellini beans as well.

Love Dessert? Check out 101 Sweet Pastry

Pastries by Dorian O’Connell

Love Dessert?  Then this might be for you!

101 Sweet Pastry, changing the world bite by bite offers a weekly dessert club. Dorian, the founder/creator, is an amazingly talented pastry chef, who surprises us with her sweet & savory treats. If you think you would like to subscribe to Dorian’s weekly offerings, visit her blog and sign up to receive her newsletter. She uses organic duck eggs, seasonal fruit, and the finest ingredients in all of her creations.  Conveniently, there are NO Club commitments.  Are you home one week, and gone the next? No problem, Dorian sends out an email every Monday. Just place an order by 9 am Tuesday, and pick-up Friday. Every week is delicious and inventive. This week, we enjoyed a delicate plum tart with puff pastry, and a cherry clafootee (kla-foo-tee). As always, perfectly scrumptious!

Fermented Pico de Gallo

It’s April and by all signs, like the snow outside and the cold temperatures these past few days, NOT tomato season. My decision to post this blog might surprise some of you, but I received a request for a fermented salsa recipe. Honestly, besides zuké pickled things, there is no other condiment I crave more than salsa. Daily. Thanks for prodding me Aaron!

So where do you get organic tomatoes in our temperate zone this time of year? Circle Fresh Farms organic tomatoes are available at Whole Foods Markets on the front range of Colorado. Circle Fresh is a network of 10 small farms working together to grow produce locally.

This is a simple recipe, and one that has a lot of flexibility, too. It can be spicy or mild, red or green (tomatillos), garlicky or garlic-free.

Fermented Tomato Salsa

  • 2.5-3 lbs of tomatoes of choice
  • 1-2 onions (yellow, white, or red)
  • Fresh Cilantro to taste (I use 1/2 cup or more)
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2-3 limes, juiced
  • 2 TBSP celtic salt
  • Spices to taste ( I use salt & pepper only, but cumin, oregano, or powdered chili could be added)
  • Peppers (sweet or spicy…I use jalapeno but sweet peppers work well too if you don’t like spicy!)

photo by Joe Baran



  • Chop tomatoes, peppers, onion and cilantro (garlic if you decide to use it)
  • Toss all ingredients into large bowl
  • Add the citrus juice
  • Add salt & pepper (other spices at this time, if you like)
  • Pour into quart or half gallon size mason jars and cap
  • Leave on the counter for approximately 2 days
  • After fermentation is complete, store in refrigerator for up to 9 months

photo by Joe Baran


photo by Joe Baran

Some fermented salsa recipes include whey, but I do not use it when I ferment salsa. In our home, we enjoy salsa on just about anything. This recipe is an alternative for putting up your tomatoes in the fall, when so many are available either from our home gardens or the farmers’ markets.

The vibrant colors of the salsa makes me want to eat it immediately, but I will wait a couple of days! Buen provecho!

photo by Joe Baran


photo by Joe Baran

Zuké Salad Dressing

From the kitchen of our favorite foodie about town, Michelle Auerbach:

Feeling springy?  Feeling cleansy?  Feeling the need to eat all the greens that popped up at the Farmer’s Market this week?  Want to add your Zuké to a salade composée?  Here is the dressing and the salad for you.


3 inch piece of fresh ginger grated

3 cloves of garlic

6 inch piece of turmeric peeled and chopped

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

2 lemons juiced

3 Tablespoons of tamari

2 Tablespoons raw honey

½ teaspoon sea salt


Place all the ingredients in a blender.  Blend until smooth.


For the salad, I bought one bag of lettuce from Oxford Gardens, one bunch of carrots from Cure farms, I had some tofu in the fridge I had friend up yesterday in coconut oil, and some steamed asparagus.  To this I added a heaping ton of Zuké beets, dulse, & kale.  The key to a salade composée, or a composed salad, is to make it look appealing on the plate, with drizzles of this and jots of that in contrasting and vibrant colors.  Use whatever you happen to have in the fridge including but not limited to cooked potatoes, chicken any way, steamed veggies, salmon, tempeh, good raw milk cheese, green beans, snow peas, really anything that catches your eye.


The key, though, is the combination of the grated beets and the salad dressing with some lettuce to catch the juices.



First of all, whoever and wherever you are- thank you for taking the time to pop on to our blog from time to time and see what we are up to.  We have so much gratitude for the network of support out there that keeps us going when the days get long.

Things have been really busy lately- lots of daily tasks, lots of planning for what comes next and frankly, lots of questions. Starting a business has been a great, exciting experience for me but it has also been riddled with the naked feeling of never knowing what is around the next bend and if I have what it takes to get there. There are many challenges and many obstacles to survival and sometimes the odds seem slim. While this kind of feeling still makes me feel itchy and unsure and am starting to realize that it is also the best part about doing what I am doing. As author Brené Brown says “vulnerability is the core, the heart, the center, of meaningful human experiences.” and I am really starting to believe her. Yes, it is hard to conquer new things and feel like you are learning a new language. It’s hard to bet the farm on something that is fringy, odd and sometimes makes people crinkle their noses, but it is also life affirming and surprising. I have met so many amazing characters, we have laughed a lot, we have fed lots of people good food and we have come to understand the value of just putting ideas into motion and trusting the trajectory.  A dear friend sent me excerpt from an article by Brad Feld, TechStar co-founder, “Being an entrepreneur, or anyone pressing the boundaries of society, can be incredibly lonely. Make sure you are surrounding yourself with people who
can help.”

One thing that starting this company has really driven home for me is how very interconnected we are. The earthworms, the folks who weed the cabbage patch, the faithful truckers, the diligent accountants, the sassy kitchen staff, the late night design guru, the babysitters.. I could go on an on. Basically, I am learning what the micro organisms already know- together we heal.