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.


Ozuke and Boulder Shout Out in The Guardian UK


Boulder: a Rockies’ road to extreme sports, yoga and smoothies

Gateway to the Rocky Mountains, the ‘republic’ of Boulder, Colorado, is also a bastion of liberal, exercise-crazy freaks

A mountain biker at sunset in Boulder, Colorado

Boulder and the scenic regions around it are ideal for extreme sports. Photograph: Soubrette/Getty

The Republic of Boulder, as Boulder, Colorado, is fondly known, is a town of almost 100,000 people nestled up against the red sides of the Flatirons in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. The “Republic” has a reputation for being at once snooty and strange, a combination that works to bring in tourists and keep out the haters, who love to criticise this odd university town for being a bastion of liberal, peace-loving, spiritual, exercise-crazy freaks.

And we are, and are proud of it. Even the preppy country-club conservatives (there are more than a handful) are openly accepted by the town as they, too, study Buddhism and drink green smoothies. So open-minded we can’t even hate the haters, Boulderites are known to live on raw foods, drink local gluten-free beer, and have become the poster children for cannabis legalisation: because we are so left of centre, we meet up in the back with the libertarian right and want to live as we please, mountain bike where we will, and go to our chiropractor/acupuncturist/psychic when we need to.

North Boulder is your spot to visit like a local. Start by getting a green juice on Pearl Street at Whole Foods Market and a jar of Zuké pickled beets, by Esoteric Food Company, which is the celebrity pinnacle of the flourishing farmer’s market locavore scene here.

Meditation on the Continental Divide Yoga in Boulder … find some peace amid the extreme sports. Photograph: Annie Griffiths Belt/Corbis

Then head on to a yoga class. The yoga attitude lives large in this town, as does being a professional athlete training at altitude – but that’s harder to drop in on.

If you want authentic Boulder, skip the big box yoga places that have popped up and visit the Anjaneya Yoga Shala, a little studio owned by long-time Boulder yoga teacher Jeanie Manchester and run out of her garage. These classes, which will introduce you to yoga, meditation, and real live Boulderites with time in the middle of the day, will make you hungry.

Head for Lucky’s Bakehouse and Creamery on Broadway Street and indulge. You can sit out at the front and watch the parking lot, the kids on bikes, the dogs and their walkers, as you sample one of Lucky’s renowned cinnamon rolls before you head on the obligatory Boulder hike.

Boulder is about extreme sports: extreme hiking, century (100-mile)bike rides, and skiing your age in days every winter. But everyone loves the Anne U White Trail. Named after Anne Underwood White – an environmentalist, scientist and open-space advocate, who donated 20 acres for the creation of this trail – this is a three-mile trek where you do need to be careful about real Boulder mountain lions as you follow the bed of a creek through a verdant valley.

Fig and goat's cheese tart, Lucky's Bakehouse and Creamery<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
” width=”460″ height=”277″ /> <span class= Fig and goat’s cheese tart, Lucky’s Bakehouse and Creamery

Real locals eat out. A lot. Who you’ll spot at the finer restaurants includes families, college students, couples on dates, workers from the funky ad agency with the “Disruptive Thinkers” bus and cannabis capitalists with new money. The people at the next table at Radda, a NoBo Italian fave run by a local who rides to work on his sexy black motorcycle with his dreads flying, are likely to be wearing patchouli and eating an enormous amount of food for obvious reasons.

To fit in you need to … wear yoga clothes, go hippy chic, or settle into real designer clothing. All of which reminds you that Boulder has been invaded by New York and California transplants with money and taste. Luckily, their clothes are resold at Common Threads, an essential stopoff for fashion followers and yogis alike, with consignment clothes curated by the hip 30- and 40-something employees who live in the mountains but like a good label.

Beware Chief Niwot‘s curse – the one that says once you fall in love with this place you are doomed to spend eternity trying to find a way to live here. That’s a modern paraphrase, but it does justice to the strong feeling this place inspires in visitors and locals.

Michelle Auerbach, author of The Third Kind of Horse

The Pickling Revolution takes Boulder

The pickling revolution takes Boulder

By Camilla Sterne

Photo by Camilla Sterne

You wouldn’t think things stuffed in jars and steeped in salt, brine, spices or even their own fermented juices could be beautiful. But all lined up, pickles present a range of unique natural colors. There’s something enchanting about tidy jars all in row holding fragrant and shapely combinations of carrots, beets, onions, ginger, cauliflower, cabbage, soybeans and peppers. The result is far from our pickle archetype, but instead presents an artful array of colors, shapes, tastes and textures.

Throughout Boulder County, citizens and businesses alike are lining their shelves and pantries with a similar assortment of carefully pickled goods. A long-standing cross-cultural tradition has found its place in the community, in the form of instructive classes and local products.

Three Leaf Farms and Cure Organic Farm in the Boulder area offer classes in these time-tested techniques, classes that fill up quickly, according William Kelley, chef at Zucca Italian Ristorante and teacher of the pickling class at Three Leaf Farms.

“First day we had sign-up for this class, I mean granted it was only eight people, but it filled up on the first or second day,” Kelley says of the upcoming July 20 class.

Both Kelley and Marilyn Kakudo, pickling instructor at Cure Organic Farm, have noticed a resurgence of interest in the craft of pickling. So why the sudden interest in a process that has been in use for thousands of years?

“I think people are trying to eat closer to home. And here in Colorado since we don’t have produce year-round, the only way you can really eat local in the winter-time would be to preserve in some way,” says Kakudo, who teaches the six-person class at Cure Organic Farm.

Kelley, too, has noticed an increased awareness of pickling, particularly in the broader foodie world.

“Right now what’s trending are means of preservation like curing, smoking and pickling,” says Kelley. “Nationwide, you read a lot of articles from Bon Appétit to Food and Wine to publications in Chicago, New York, L.A.; all across the nation they’re doing pickles and whatnot. In Colorado we do have a little bit more want or even need to do it, because it gives us an extension of the season.”

But the term “pickling” is not limited to one specific technique. Quick pickling, fermentation pickling, relish pickling — all of these methods have received greater interest and recognition.

Kakudo will teach traditional pickling at her class at Cure Organic Farm, and attendees will leave with three jars of traditional cucumber pickles. Kelley, however, plans to cover all three techniques.

“I will be going over every process of pickling, from the quick pickle to the fermentation to the relish,” he says. “But we’re going to be making quick pickles to allow the people from the workshop to have something to take home with them.”

And amateur picklers seem to be open to different techniques, though fermented pickles are of particular interest to health-conscious consumers because of a recent wealth of information on the positive benefits of probiotics.

Boulder-based company Esoteric Foods has broken into the local fermented pickle market with its variety of krauts, and in two years has expanded from its first sale at Lucky’s in North Boulder to selling its products in more than 65 natural grocers. Co-founders Mara King and Willow King will also teach a class in pickling on Sept. 10 at the Lyons Farmette.

“For us fermentation in some ways is sort of a philosophy, if you will,” says Willow King. “It’s like this sort of magical interaction between the world we can see, the vegetables, the salt, the things that we’re touching, and this invisible world, which is all the microbes and the friendly bacteria that come into the process and make the food this super-vital, healthy, raw food that then, when we ingest it, kind of invigorates the whole digestive and immune system.”

Willow King credits the success of their Zuké “pickled things” to the supportive Boulder food and entrepreneurial community as well as the growing awareness of the health benefits of fermented products.

“I think there’s a real renaissance of sort of hands-on, do-it-yourself food processing,” Willow King says. “People are getting a lot more interested in where their food comes from, and once they know where it comes from, and how things are made, which is really how this business was born.”

In keeping with the conventional purpose of pickling, Esoteric Foods is trying to create much of its product at the end of the season, when there is excess crop production.

“We’re trying to buy as much local produce as we can when it’s plentiful, pickle it and then have it to sell throughout the winter until we break back out into spring,” Willow King says.

Pickles are not just practical, either. Many picklers are partial to the aesthetic qualities of pickled varieties. Willow King’s favorite Esoteric Food product is the Zuké beets, dulse and kale recipe, pointing to the deep purple color as part of her attraction to the recipe.

“My kids are huge fans of them,” she says. “You can always tell when they eat them because they have these big purple mustaches.”

King pickles for her young children, as does Kelley, who praises the process for its ease and low cost.


Photo by Camilla Sterne

“I have three children, and a wife and a dog,” he says. “It gets expensive buying vegetables, unless it’s the summertime. The seasonality of it marks up the price. Pickling gives me the opportunity to have that type of ingredient to utilize on my own without having to necessarily pay for it.”

But many people do pay for their pickled goods, which can be found at local vendors for not-so-minimal prices. Lafayette vendor Isabelle Farm Stand carries Esoteric Foods products as well as the canned and pickled creations of Boulder-based MM Local.

The employees at Isabelle Farm Stand are no strangers to the pickled revolution. A big underground food movement is “starting to bubble to the surface and pickle,” says the farm stand’s wholesaler, Tyler Bair.

The place is teeming with farmers, all of whom seem to be extremely familiar with pickling. And most of their farmers do their own pickling, according to employee Annie Beall.

“Everybody gets the leftovers, and the best way to use them is to pickle them,” says Beall. “I bet there are a few of them around, they’d probably give you tips.”

There is one thing all picklers agree on: It’s easy to do. With one caveat: Be wary of the health risks of pickling at home. Kakudo warns about the hazards of air entering canned goods during the brine pickling process.

“There’s a whole science and food safety issue about canning; whenever you can food you have to make sure you’re canning food that has a certain amount of acidity,” says Kakudo.

According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, many home picklers and canners are unaware of the risks of Botulism, a serious illness caused by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum, which can find its way into canned goods if pickling methods aren’t executed properly.

Pickling in vinegar also tends to diminish some of the nutritional content of food, according to Kakudo and Kelley.

“The rule of thumb is that any time you take something from a raw state and you cook it or manipulate it, especially when you add intense pH levels on each side, you are going to break it down and it will lose some nutritional value,” says Kelley. “It’s definitely better to eat fresh and raw as far as nutritional value is concerned.”

Most pickles are used to augment a meal, whether through texture, spice or even color on the plate, and according to Willow King, many cultures have used fermented pickles to aid in the digestion of meats.

“It’s also just sort of a side, so you always have a pickle as a palette cleanser or a flavor enhancer with each course,” Willow King says. “There’s lots of fun creative ways to use it.”

Willow King suggests using Esoteric’s krauts on salads, in sandwiches and even in something like a fish taco. Kelley uses pickles at the Zucca Italian restaurant as a subtle palette enhancer.

“It’s a nice accoutrement to our paninis for lunch, our antipastis, our saloumis. We utilize pickles in lots of different ways. I’ve got pepperoncinis on my calamari dish, we have pickled red onions in our pork chop dish.”

And the vinegar brine in non-fermented pickles doesn’t have to go to waste, according to Kakudo, who suggests using the solution in place of vinegar during cooking.

However, the outburst of published books on pickling, pickling classes and pickling companies is still in its relative youth. It has yet to be seen whether the pickling craze will last as long as the preserved goods themselves.


Salsa Roja en Molcajete (or blender)

A good homemade salsa will liven up any dish. It’s a quick way to add a ton of flavor in a single spoonful. At home, we like to put salsa on eggs, grilled vegetables, and meats. Although right now our favorite way to eat salsa roja is along with citrus & ginger pickled things on corn chips. Luckily, zuké pickled things travels well!

20130710-114921.jpg Here, in Mexico, it’s common to spread a dollop (or several) of salsa roja on a handmade corn tortilla and devour at least 5 with a bowl of caldo (a flavorful broth) or menudo (tripe soup). Perhaps more popular and pervasive, is using it as a condiment on tacos. It’s available at every corner road side stand.

Of course, you can use a blender to make this salsa in just a few minutes, but this morning, my aunt Juana prepared salsa roja for our breakfast using one of the oldest kitchen tools in Mesoamerica, the molcajete. Molcajetes are available at most Mexican mercados (stores) and are made from different materials such as volcanic stone or plastic. They are used to make salsas, moles, guacamole, and more.20130710-115949.jpg20130710-120250.jpgSalsa Roja Ingredients:
5-6 medium tomatillos, roasted
7-10 chile de arbol (spicy=more chiles/mild=less chiles), roasted
1 clove garlic, roasted
~ 1/2 tsp water
Salt to taste

Roast tomatillos (see note below), chile de arbol (approx. 1 minute each side), and garlic (approx 2 minutes each side) on stove top or grill using flat cooking surface such as a cast iron skillet or griddle. Use aluminum foil to wrap the tomatillos as they roast over the heat. Foil acts as a steamer and receptacle for tomatillo juices, ensuring that all liquid will be reserved for salsa. Roast tomatillos until they become charred and are lighter in color, approximately 10 minutes. Be sure to turn every few minutes for even roasting.

MOLCAJETE: Begin by slowly crushing roasted chile de arbol in the molcajete with salt. Add a bit of water to prevent chile from ‘jumping’ out of the molcajete. Then add the roasted garlic, continue to crush. Add tomatillos, one at a time until all ingredients are blended together well (see photo).

BLENDER: Place all ingredients in blender, puree for approx. 1 minute or until consistency is as desired. Transfer to bowl for serving or jar for storing in refrigerator.

When all ingredients are blended well, taste first, then add more salt if needed.
20130710-120759.jpg20130710-121349.jpg20130710-121425.jpg20130710-121448.jpg20130710-121508.jpgLet me know how your salsa roja turns out, and as always, tell me how you use it. Andale!20130710-122832.jpg20130710-122929.jpg