Further adventures of Zukemono

We know you have all been waiting for it- folks, Andy Gladstone….

they force their way up through hard crackling ground, desperately seeking the scorching nutrients of a dazzling New Mexico Sun.  each aspiring seedling carries the genetic design of the entire universe within its miniscule cellular walls.  for those that succeed, in this ultimate of Darwinian contests, there’s no doubting the breakthrough moment of their herculean effort.  as they first feel the fiery wall of dry heat, capable of searing the struggling lungs of active breathers, the chilies reflexively relax, & passively, cellularly, absorb the carbon dioxide-laden atmosphere and oooommmmm out the most delicious of oxygens.

Thus commencing the life-long symbiotic journey of chili peppers and their far more rapacious pre-existing lung-powered earthly cousins. These chilies, imbued with the natural, life-sustaining forces of Mother Earth herself, smolder in the blazing sun.  capturing the heat, absorbing that fearsome passion, and permeating all foods fortunate enough to rest even momentarily by their side, with their scorchiocity.  they bring such green, they bring such heat, they bring such a spicy tango of exotic flavor that chili-heads frivolously ignore the protection racket threats of rattlesnake venom, tarantula strikes, wild boar charges and gila monster bites to select the finest of these amazing fruits.  small wonder that Peter Piper (once he’d learned to pickle these prized peppers), jumped over the moon, came tumbling down and couldn’t be put back together again.  but wait, softly, is that brightest of lights, discernible to the east, even under the most brilliant of suns, not Zukemono, exploding into oblivion the shade beneath yonder chili plant?  what creative culinary synapsual firings have led her to pursue, plant by plant, the finest available offerings to be had under this crackling heat?

In an instant, Zukemono dematerializes and softly vanishes from the leathering, anhydrous desert.  within that self-same moment she’s comfortably ensconced in her cool moist overflowing playground of a kitchen.  her movements are testimony to a powerful and loving embrace of the all-encompassing reality of Now.  The picked, being pickled, peppers are mostly just bobbing in fragrant fermenting juices, though, a concentrated focus reveals that several seem to be enjoying a leisurely swim (freestyle, naturally) around their bottled pool.  splashing, laughing and simply celebrating their escape from the fearsome forces of the blistering desert.  Exhaling their celebrated capsaicin chemistry, into the breathtakingly flavored pickle bath and inhaling the remarkable emanations from their briny basin.  A partnership of flavors and natural wholesomeness thus accomplished, these playful frolicking capsicums relax into family form; dry off, slip into their pajamas, and don their ever-present nightshades.




Mojo Recipes- kimchi, rhubarb and more!

I have nothing but great things to say about Marcie Goldman, local nutritionist and her Mojo Mastery program.  She guides a dozen adults two or three times a year through an adventure in mindful eating.  She looks at the source of many post modern ailments such as food or stress, she does a toxin cleanse and really zeros in on causes of our malaise she spends valuable time coaching her Mojo Masters in simple life skills to make sure that we all get the nutrition we need out of our daily routine and she teaches the priceless skill of listening to our bodies, tuning in so we can truly know what doesn’t always serve us.


I guest cheffed for the last three Mojos and I wanted to share with you some of the no nonsense downright good for you recipes that we covered.  I should preface my recipes with the assurance that my amounts are guides. As always I urge you to feel your way to a delicious dinner…  if you have a certain amount of something maybe that is how much you should use.  Freewheeling is always more fun besides you can dance a little when you don’t have your face stuck in a book.

Nut Free Nettle Pesto 

3cups stinging nettles, 3 tbs Lemon Juice,  1cup roasted carrots (or other veg), 1clove fresh garlic or more if there are vampires afoot, 2 tsp honey (optional I just have a sweet tooth), 1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Salt to taste.

Blend. Note: always good to start with denser and wetter ingredients and add leafier and drier ingredients as you go. Get ready to enjoy a tingly tongue 🙂

GadoGado with Boiled Chicken

In Hawaii they say “food so nice you gotta say it twice” Gado Gado is from Indonesia and this recipe is kind of a take on it.  We make the dressing from zuké and leave some things out and put some things in.  Hows about I just list all the things you COULD put in this dish, list the dressing and leave the rest up to you.

Boiled cabbage, blanched cauliflower (same as boiled really but went to a posh school on the east coast), fresh bean sprouts, fresh dark leafy greens, sliced carrot and cucumber, sliced tempeh, twice cooked tofu, nuts like peanuts or sliced almonds, shrimp chips (not for me unless I want to keel over), boiled chicken, (take big ole chicken breast…  boil in “surprise” boiling water for 10 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 170 degrees…  rest for 3-5 minutes then chop it into your salad.) and other stuffs (plural because I know that your creativity knows no bounds).

THE DRESSING so good it will wave it’s finger, shake it’s head and belt sass at your greens.

Blend zuké kimchi with nuts and olive oil. I used hand ground cashews but you could use peanut butter, almond butter, a handful of soaked brazil nuts, planter’s mixed nuts…  you get the idea, go nuts, use what’s around, wear a monocle, embarrass your kids.


Rhubarb is so NOT a one trick pony. I love to see this spring vegetable in savory applications.

There’s only one way to cook a very sexy piece of meat. The fancy work has already been done, pasture fed, played to sleep every night by silver fox cowboys on banjos, butchered lovingly by a katana wielding poet.  It would be a disservice to put too much clothing on such a nubile steak and so mostly naked it _must_ be.  Seared in good oil (or animal fat) with salt and pepper, then topped with lemon and extra virgin olive oil to serve.  Think of this rhubarb topping as the neglige, serving the same purpose as some sauteed mushrooms or shavings of very expensive cheese they accentuate, leaving a little bit of space for you to discover and uncover, but unobtrusively.

2 Stalks of Rhubarb, 1/2 onion, Balsamic Vinegar, Lemon Juice, White Wine (optional), s+p, Olive Oil.  Saute onion first on medium heat.  If you insist on using the beef pan I won’t fault you. When onions start to brown add rhubarb, season with salt and pepper.  When rhubarb starts to soften you can deglaise the pan with white wine, or just add the balsamic vinegar and lemon juice.  Remove from heat, finish with good olive oil.  Dress your pretty steak.  Blow kisses at it.  Devour.

Mojo Graduates… If there are any other dishes that I didn’t cover that really inspired you let me know.  I would love to continue this foodie discourse with you.  <3 mara

Elephant Journal- DIY Fermentation

on May 11, 2012

Create Your Own Culture. ~ Willow King


The Power of Fermented Foods.

About a year ago my partner Mara and I started a company that makes cultured vegetables. No, not beets and carrots that regularly attend the opera, but live, raw, probiotic, naturally fermented veggies.

We started out just making these goodies for our families and friends and nobody could get enough. It turns out that many people crave the zingy buzz of live food and that lacto-fermented foods, that used to be staple in many places in the world, are making a comeback.

Fermenting is an age-old way to preserve food.

It was a way to use all the access produce from the summer and keep eating it all year round. This in itself is a great process to connect to us to seasonality and keep the strength of the food intact.

Fermentation also makes food easier to digest, and creates new nutrients such as B vitamins—folic acid, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin and biotin.

Some ferments have antioxidants principles and also create omega-3 fatty acids- which we know are key to a healthy immune system.

Basically, fermented foods help supply your digestive tract with cultures that are necessary to break down and assimilate nutrients. These cultures, lactobacilli chief among them, are like little invisible friends that help us stay healthy and happy through the ups and downs of the year.

If you are interested in experimenting we recommend starting with simple sauerkraut and then expand from there.

This is great activity to do with kids (or your dog) as it is a bit of funky food science experiment.

To begin you will need a ball jar, one medium cabbage, sea salt, and a starter like whey, or for a vegan option you can use kombucha.Each starter produces different results and flavors, so you can try a few and find the one you like best.Core and shred the cabbage and then spread on a tray or work surface. Add the sea salt—a good ratio is generally one or two  tablespoons salt to one three lb cabbage. Then pound the cabbage and salt with a wooden hammer (or a rolling pin can work) until the juices start to release and the cabbage softens. You can add a bit of starter at this point, or you can just do the cabbage juice and salt, which usually makes a fine ferment.Place the cabbage shreds into a wide mouth ball jar and press down with a fist (you can use a cabbage leaf as a top and the press on that) until the vegetable is submerged in liquid.

Cover this combination and leave it in a cool but not cold space (ideally 65 to 70 degrees) for about 3 days. You may like it stronger, in which case you could let it go for a few more days.

When you are satisfied with the taste, transfer to cold storage, where it will last for up to 6 months.

Now you can enjoy the benefits of your own homemade culture—monocle and all.


Daily Camera- Farmers Market Celebrates 25 years

This was a great piece about the BCFM and it’s history- we are so happy to be a part of it! For a link to the article or to see the video they did at our kitchen: http://bcove.me/ce3uw7z3

Boulder County Farmers’ Market celebrates 25 years as a growers-only marketplace

This year’s season kicks of Saturday in Boulder and Longmont
Posted:   03/31/2012 02:38:14 PM MDT
Updated:   04/01/2012 01:24:56 PM MDT


In the fall of 1986, a half-dozen Boulder County farmers came together around a vision: to create a market for farmers — run by farmers — where vendors could sell what they’d grown directly to the local community.

With the support of Boulder County, the city of Boulder, some students at the University of Colorado and a lot of volunteers, the Boulder County Farmers’ Market launched in 1987 with the goal of supporting local agriculture. This year, the market — which returns for the season April 7 — celebrates its 25th anniversary.

“Twenty-five years ago in Boulder County, we had some visionary individuals come together and (set up a market) before it was fashionable,” said Shanan Olson, the market’s interim executive

Sue Parsons, right, of Sweetheart Farms, unloads produce at the Boulder Farmers Market on 13th Street in June 1987. Parson still sells at the market, which is celebrating its 25 anniversary this year. ( SUE PARSONS VIA CARNEGIE LIBRARY )

director and a farmer herself. “They consciously decided they wanted to feed their neighbors and families and friends.

“There’s something pretty fabulously amazing about that.”

Over the last quarter century, the original Boulder market has grown into a touchstone of the community; a second market was set up in Longmont; the hours, the days of the week, and the length of the season for both markets have been stretched year after year; and the offerings available at the markets have diversified in creative and unexpected ways.

But one thing has not changed: Every farmer who sells at the Boulder County Farmers’ Market grows his or her own produce, setting it apart from most farmers’ markets across the state and across the country. The premise of grow-what-you-sell is woven directly into the fabric of today’s market, just as it was in 1987 when it began.

IF YOU GOWhat: Boulder Farmers’ MarketWhen: 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday, April 7 through Nov. 17; 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. every Wednesday, May 2 through Oct. 3Where: 13th Street between Canyon Boulevard and Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder

What: Longmont Farmers’ Market

When: 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday, April 7 through Nov. 3

Where: Boulder County Fairgrounds, 9595 Nelson Road, Longmont

More info: boulderfarmers.org

“It’s always been run by farmers, and it always demanded that the farmer that was selling it had actually grown it,” said Bob Munson, of Munson Farms, who has been part of the farmers’ market from the beginning. “At that time, a lot of farmers’ markets started all over Colorado. (They) quickly became a place where junk produce was sold. You can get junk produce for nothing and sell it for something.”

Downtown roots

The market that began in 1987 along 13th Street between Canyon Boulevard and Arapahoe Avenue was built on the shoulders of an earlier market that grew up on the lawn of the Boulder County Courthouse in 1975, when Pearl Street was still a through-road.

That small market was organized by Richard Foy and David Bolduc through the Downtown Boulder Association as a way to attract shoppers to the area.

“They visualized that it would be a real nice draw for people to have events down there,” said Munson, who sold at that market with his two young sons. “They made a big banner — a canvas sign — and it could hang all the way across the street or it could hang all the way across trees as you enter the

Chet Anderson, background, one of the founders of the Boulder County Farmers Market, watches one of his workers potting basil plants at his grow operation in rural Boulder County. The market, with locations in Boulder and Longmont, is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. ( CLIFF GRASSMICK )


Munson remembers about five other farmers selling regularly at that first market, which ran for a couple hours on Saturday mornings from July into September.

But the market faltered after its 10-year anniversary, partly because of the limited size of its location and partly because of new competition from a short-lived produce and crafts market set up in a parking lot near the site of the current farmers’ market.

“The courthouse lawn was limited in space, and the space was not viable anymore,” said Ulla Merz, who interviewed 10 of the longtime farmers selling at the market for the Maria Rogers Oral History Program at the Boulder Public Library. Merz, co-founder of Bookcliff Vineyards, also sells Colorado

Dennis Vinh of the Esoteric Food Company works on packing some of the company’s Zuké product line of raw pickled vegetables at the company’s facility in Boulder. The company will be selling its products at the Boulder County Farmers’ Market this year. (Paul Aiken / Daily Camera)

wines at the current markets in Longmont and Boulder.

“We were looking for a place with better access — a place more convenient to people,” said Chet Anderson, who helped found the market. Anderson still sells at the market, though he has switched from offering produce to ornamental plants and cut flowers through the business he now owns, The Fresh Herb Company.

The farmers settled on a location along 13th Street for their new grower-run market.

Sustaining local ag

Moving to the new location adjacent to Central Park in 1987 for the official start of the Boulder County Farmers’ Market was made possible thanks to the support of government leaders in the city and county. In general, a groundswell of community support for making sure that agriculture remained a part of the Boulder County landscape was emerging at about the same time that the farmers selling on the courthouse lawn began to look around for a new location.

“(The Boulder County Farmers’ Market) got started as a way to preserve local agricultural land — to provide a market for agricultural products so people would keep their farms,” John McKenzie, one of the market’s founding farmers, told the Camera in May 1990.

COMING WEDNESDAYLook for a calendar of Colorado crops and information on what’s new at this year’s farmers’ markets in the Camera’s Essentials section

And it worked, at least for some farmers.

“If it weren’t for the market, we wouldn’t have a farm in the city,” Chuck Rozanski, who grew herbs and vegetables on two-thirds of an acre in north Boulder, also told the Camera in 1990.

Boosted by the new location, the market caught on and grew quickly.

“It started out as something small, and it’s kind of become a summertime event in Boulder every year,” Anderson said. “I’m not sure I could have foreseen it being quite like it is today.”

At its fifth anniversary, between 75 and 100 vendors sold at the market, a 50 percent increase from the market’s first year. That year, 1992, the Wednesday market also launched. (It wasn’t successful until the hours were shifted from morning to afternoon.)

Making connections

Twenty years later, the Boulder market has about 120 vendors and the Longmont market has another 70 or so, and both markets are thriving, though neither can take on many more vendors in their current configurations.

Even so, changes are afoot.

The market has launched a new initiative to help prepared food vendors connect with local farmers to source ingredients for their products. As part of the program, the market has asked the prepared food vendors to come up with three-year plans for how they can incorporate more local ingredients.

“We’re really serious about these connections being made,” said Jenn Ross, who manages the Boulder market. “Sometimes it’s hard for a prepared food vendor to find information on some of the small farms or sometimes it’s hard for a farmer to plan and prepare to sell to these contractors because they don’t have the contact information themselves.”

The ultimate goal is to strengthen the local food economy. And it’s working, at least for one of the Boulder market’s newest vendors, Zuké Pickled Things. The company wants to pickle more local produce for its products, but as a new business, it’s been difficult to know how to reach out to farmers and how to know how much produce they’ll need.

“It’s going to help us so much the way that they’re doing it,” said Willow King, Zuké cofounder. “We say, ‘This is what we need in the upcoming months,’ and then the farmers can kind of come to us.'”

Zuké also plans to buy produce at the market, pickle it during the week, and then resell it at the following week’s market.

“It’s going to be really seasonal,” King said.

At the Longmont market — where gross sales increased 20 percent last year — the changes underway this summer likely will be more obvious.

TIMELINE1975: First Boulder market is established on the lawn of the Boulder County Courthouse, while Pearl Street was still a through-road. It lasted about 10 years, until outgrowing its location and facing competition from a very short-lived produce and crafts market on the site of the current market.1987: The current Boulder County Farmers’ Market is launched as a growers-only Saturday marketplace on 13th Street between Canyon Boulevard and Arapahoe Avenue.1990: The Longmont Farmers Market makes its debut.

1992: The Boulder market launches its Wednesday market, which isn’t successful until the hours are switched from daytime to evening.

1996: The Boulder County Farmers’ Market celebrates its 10th season with a jazz festival, bagpipe parade and what was billed as “Boulder’s largest carrot cake,” designed to feed 6,000 people.

Two years ago, the Boulder County Parks and Open Space Department, which runs the county fairgrounds where the market is located, extended the available electric service and expanded the market area to the east.

This year, the department is working to build a pavilion, where people can eat in the shade, and an arbor in the middle of the plaza to provide additional shade, according to Stan Snyder, a landscape architect for Boulder County Open Space.

The improvements are expected to help feed further growth this year, said Lisa Searchinger, the Longmont market manager. Searchinger expects another 20 percent increase in sales this season, thanks to the infrastructure, new vendors and growing community enthusiasm.

“I think people really appreciate our core value, which is we grow what we sell,” she said. “I hear that continually from customers that that’s why they like our market.”

Bridging gaps

Even with an eye toward change, as the market turns 25, leaders are looking back toward their roots.

“We’re celebrating the eaters that come and seek the growers of the food we love,” Olson said. “We’re also grounding. We’re celebrating where we’ve come from and how we got there — the vision of the people who started this as a growers-only market in the first place.”

Olson — who sells produce from her organic farm, Abbondanza, at the market — said the time is also right for the market to play a role in bringing the community together and educating the public. Interest in local agriculture has swelled over the last several years, and, recently, the Boulder County community also has been embroiled in a debate about how to best use agricultural land owned by the county’s open space department.

A central question in that debate was whether or not genetically modified organisms should be allowed on county-owned land. And while the debate highlighted the increased interest in local agriculture, the GMO issue was extremely divisive.

“I think there’s a desire to bridge some gaps,” Olson said. “The debate that happened last year around GMOs and open space — it really pitted organics against GMOs and vice versa. We’re celebrating 25 years of a growers-only market that has never discriminated against any form of agriculture. … The farmers’ market is such a great place to celebrate all that diversity and all those unique perspectives.”

Olson, who is serving as the interim executive director, said the market eventually will be looking for new leadership. But for now, the board is taking a deep breath and focusing on how to keep the market’s founding spirit alive for another quarter century.

“We want to make sure our next 25 years are about celebrating everyone who’s choosing to support the community in their backyard by going to the farmers’ market and trading and sharing and taking turns with their neighbors instead of industries and corporations,” Olson said.


Denver Post on our Pickles

Posted April 4, 2012, 11:53 am MT

Probiotic pickling comes naturally to Boulder’s Esoteric Food Company

Boulder's Esoteric Food Company has the recipe for probiotic pickles

Pretty, yes? And good. Esoteric Food Company has the recipe for great probiotic foods.

It all began, like so many things in food world, in the kitchen.

Mara King and Willow King — same last name, but they aren’t related — took one day a week to hang out together and make stuff from scratch. They tried sausage. Cheese, from raw milk. Kombucha.

But the Boulderites kept returning to pickled things – cucumbers, cabbage, beets, kale.

They dreamed of opening a restaurant or a delicatessen, but the pickles kept nudging them, whispering: Restaurant schmestaurant. So expensive! So many of them! Stick with pickles!

It turns out pickles are persuasive.


Boulder's Esoteric Food Company has the recipe for probiotic pickling.

Perfectly fried eggs on a bed of Esoteric Food Company’s pickled beets, hijiki, and kale

Instead of turning blank space into a room full of food, last May they began filling pretty jars with vegetables, herbs and spices and selling them in stores in the Boulder area. And soon their business, called Esoteric Food Company, will have a stall at the Boulder Farmer’s Market, and their products – called “Zuke,” short for Tsukemono, which means “pickled things” in Japanese – may also be on shelves at Whole Foods throughout the Rocky Mountain region.

At first, “we were giving it away and selling it at Lucky’s Market in Boulder,” said Willow. “A case here, a case there.”

Now three other people work with them, and twice a week they process 500 pounds of vegetables or more at a commercial kitchen.

They have big plans. Among other things, they want to buy different stuff at the Farmer’s Market every week, pickle it, and sell it until they run out. Each week, they hope, they will have two new pickled products – in addition to their regular line – for sale.

“We are moving away from this idea that dinner comes from a box and it’s always the same,” said Mara. “What is ready now should decide what is for dinner tonight.”

I tried the kimchi. I hadn’t tasted the stuff in maybe 20 years, since I lived in Minneapolis as a 20-something graduate student and nearly OD’d on kimchi and its punch of pungent funk.

I feared it.

But one taste of Esoteric’s version, and I fell in love with it (although later, on a picnic on Flagstaff Mountain in Boulder, my daughter Ruby could not stop talking about the aroma. She was not a fan.)

I also had bites of the beet, hijiki and kale, and the dill, caraway and cabbage. Fantastic stuff.

I know at least one of my stops at the Farmer’s Market this year