Cooking with the moon

Cooking with the moon

TODAY IS A GREAT TO TO COOK IN BATCHES FOR FREEZING, MAKE  BREAD AND BAKE CAKE AND COOKIES

I read that Mauro Colagreco, owner of the Michelin-starred restaurant Mirazur, situated on the French Riviera, has changed his menu post-COVID lockdown.  That would not be surprising for a place listed on the World’s 50 Best Restaurant list. But why is it news-worthy? Because he will tailor his offerings in accordance with what the moon is doing.

I am sure many readers thought ‘Ridiculous new fad- what next?’. Well, this ‘fad’ is actually not so new, it is in fact a few thousand years old.

Here is the article 

Mr. Colagreco reasons that he is already using biodynamically grown produce and so he might as well not stop there but carry this method over to the kitchen. Ah, now it makes sense. 

In the Biodynamic garden, one aspect is that the gardener is plants, sows, and carries out any work in accordance with the biodynamic calendar. This has given Biodynamic farming always a ‘woohoo’ appeal, fit for a few crazy souls, but nothing for the sensible masses. But what many don’t realize is that for centuries this was actually THE normal way of farming, nothing ‘woohoo’ about this.

Generations of observations have led to practices which ‘just worked’ – olives picked on certain days had more oil and apples more juice. Spinach sown on this day was less susceptible to disease or grew quicker. The ‘why’ was less questioned, it just was called ‘tradition’ and it worked.  

I assume the menu choices you will see in the near future at Mirazur, will be guided by the change of the moon phases and the elements.  When you take a look at our online calendar The Month Ahead   you will see that each day shows a moon phase (Waxing Moon, Full Moon, Waning Moon or New Moon) and an element (Water, Air, Earth & Fire) and activity symbols that are connected.

These symbols represent the observations that led to the creation of these calendars. But their widespread appeal was (and still is) that they are such great tools to structure time and life.

So what is cooking with the moon?

If you grew up with this ‘way of eating’, then your body is sort of programmed to fancy certain foods at certain times.
I guess this is nature’s way to make sure you get a well-balanced diet. If you have never heard or experienced it, then it does need a bit of time to get used to it. Firstly, you have to ‘detach’ from your current eating habits and ‘re-teach’ your body to develop what I call ‘healthy cravings’ and food management. I am currently working on a program that will teach these steps in more details.

But here is quick intro if you are completly new to this way of cooking and eating.

Eating with the moon cycle:

The Waxing Moon: As the moon grows, so do we. People seem hungrier and gain weight easier. It is a great time for those who find it hard to put weight on (say after an operation) or anorexic.

If you struggle with too much weight, it is crucial that you watch this time. Don’t lose weight, rather stabilize your weight and aim not to gain. Prepare meals that are filling and full of nutrients (fresh, healthy, organic produce is, of course, best) and that contains very little sugar and empty calories, such as white flour.

The Full Moon: Again, it is easier to put weight on, but as it is just a short time, you may as well enjoy it and go for a slap-up meal. Traditionally diets started at Full Moon.

The Waning Moon: Losing weight tends to be easier now.  We are also more active and as a result may eat less, as we are too busy with other things.

If you have no weight issues, just focus on moving more and keep eating a normal, healthy diet. If you need to lose weight, now is your perfect time. These 2 weeks go for it – there are numerous strategies depending on lifestyle habits and body types.

New Moon: Traditionally a rest and fast day. 

Another area are the elements. Each day has a special quality and again you can see this on the calendar which ‘day quality’ is dominant.

Fire – dedicated to fruit – this could be picking, pruning fruit bushes and trees or making jam 

Earth – anything to do with root vegetable and the earth. Digging, weeding harvesting potatoes, sowing carrots, etc.

Air: Anything to do with flowers and oils. Sunflower would be a top example. This is a great time to pick olives and press their oil, incorporate flowers into salads and dishes and eat ‘flowery’ vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower.

Water: Leafy vegetables like spinach, all kind of salads and in the garden a great day for planting, fertilising and extra watering.

The reason I combined the gardening and eating is that until very recently you would grow your vegetable, harvest and eat them – usually all on the same day. There were no chest freezer or fridges available. When your trees had an abundance of fruit, you made jams, compotes, cider or stored them in a way that it lasted for a long time.

Root vegetables got pickled or fermented. Freezing is not a bad habit, but it works best if you pick and freeze, so the nutrients stay as fresh as can be. If you take only one thing away – try to eat less, but better and shop for food that is ‘alive’ – ideally grown near you, by an organic or even better biodynamic farmer or grow your own, making sure the soil is a nutritous as possible.

Make your own delicious strawberry jam

Make your own delicious strawberry jam

Strawberry jam

  Early July is a great time to pick strawberries and make jam.  Here is a  delicious recipe for making your own jam. It is quick, easy and home-made jams just taste so good, especially with scones or toast.

Fire Days, in particular when you see the symbol above work really well. This will make sure your jam won’t get mouldy, providing of course you sterilized your equipment correctly!

What do you need to make your own delicious strawberry jam?

A general rule for making jams: Fill your jam glasses with boiling water before use or even better sterilize them in a pressure cooker. If you like making your own jam, then I suggest you keep a pot and cooking spoon just dedicated to this task and make sure that they are both REALLY clean. Done on the right day and with the right method/equipment, you can rest assured that your jam will last and you can make a  good supply for the next couple of month. Home-made jam is to do and makes great presents.

Recipe for simple Strawberry jam:

Equipment needed: 1 large cooking pot and wooden spoon (both very clean), 8-9 medium-sized jam jars (sterilized) or 4-5 large jam jars (sterilized), all jars must have tight-fitting lids. I tea towel. 

Ingredients: 1kg strawberries (washed and stalks removed, 1kg jam sugar, 1 small unwaxed lemon, a small pinch of pepper

  • Sterilize 8 to 9 medium jam jars (or 4-5 larger ones). Put them on a tea towel, so they are ready to receive the hot jam mixture. Make sure you also sterilize the lids as this is often a spot where mould forms.
  • Cut the washed strawberries into small pieces. Then rinse the lemon and grate the rind finely. Finally put the strawberries, grated rind, pepper and sugar in a clean pot and boil for about 4-5 minutes.
  • Pour the jam mixture straightaway into the sterilized jars and cover them tightly with cling film. Then close the lid on top of the cling film. This will give it extra protection.

If there is time you can also bake your scones and enjoy both with a great cup of tea.

Recipe for scones: 

Equipment needed: 2 plastic cake mixing bowls, pastry brush, whisk, baking tray, round pastry cutter

Ingredients:  225g self-raising flour (or 225g of plain flour and 1tsp of baking powder) and a bit extra for dusting, a pinch of salt, 2tbsp caster sugar, 55g butter (bit extra for greasing), 150ml buttermilk, 1 egg (beaten), 50 g of mixed sultanas, raisins or other dried fruit (optional) 

  • Preheat oven to about 200/220 degrees centigrade and grease a baking tray with butter.
  • Pour the flour and salt into a bowl and rub in the butter using your fingers. You will get a crumbly mixture. Then add the sultanas or other dried fruit.
  • Beat the egg into the buttermilk and add the sugar,  so it becomes a golden coloured mixture.
  • Make a well in the middle of your flour mixture and add the egg/buttermilk/sugar mixture. Work quickly, as speed here is important. You should now have a soft dough.
  • Dust your surface with some flour and shape the dough into an even thickness of about 1cm. With a round pastry cutter, cut out the round scones and place them next to each other on the greased baking sheet. Repeat until the dough is gone.
  • Glaze the scones with a little milk using your pastry brush and bake them for around 10-12 minutes until they have risen and are golden brown.
  • Leave them to cool on a plate and serve with cream, strawberry jam and a good cup of tea. This is a very English way to spend a summer afternoon.

 

How to make Seville orange marmalade

How to make Seville orange marmalade

Seville marmaladeYou don’t have to be Paddington bear to love home-made marmalade.  I really enjoy it as part of my leisurely week-end breakfast, together with a bagel and a good cup of coffee.

The ‘queen of all marmalades’ is the Seville orange marmalade. Seville oranges are slightly bigger than normal oranges and have an exquisite bitter-sweet taste. The main season for Seville oranges is January/February time. Have a look at the LWTM calendar and look out for the jam jar symbol, as these indicate the best dates to make jams and pickles.

If you prefer a lighter, slightly sweeter taste, then use the Seville marmalade recipe below, but instead of Seville oranges use
a standard variety.  The next question is how much peel should I use. Again, that is a question of taste. Some people add lots of coarsely shredded orange peel, others prefer the peel to be thinly sliced and  then there are marmalades that don’t contain any peel at all.  The beauty of making the marmalade yourself is that  you can choose how thick or thin you want your shredded peel to be. The choice is all yours.

Seville orangesWhere does Seville orange marmalade come from?
At the turn of the 18th century Janet Keiller’s husband, a sailor,  brought some Seville oranges back with him when he returned from a ship voyage from Spain back to his home in Dundee, Scotland. In order to make this precious cargo last longer, Janet decided to make a preserve. The recipe she used was loosely based on ‘marmelo’, a Portuguese quince paste. Her jars proved
to be such a hit that it formed the basis of the Keiller marmalade factory, founded in Dundee in 1797.

Some marmalades leave the peel off, others include it in shredded or thinly minced form. Below you will find the Scottish version with the peel added. This recipes produces around 1.3kg (3lb) of marmalade.

Ingredients: 900g (2lb) Seville oranges (best unwaxed or organic), 1.4l (2 ½ pints) water, 900g (2lb) caster sugar, juice of 2 lemons

1)      Wash and scrub the oranges well and put them whole into a clean pan. Add the water and slowly boil the oranges for around 90 minutes. Then take the boiled oranges out and keep the water.

2)      Carefully peel these oranges and then cut, shred or mince the peel into small strips.

3)      Peel the pith from the oranges and discard it. Then take out the pips and put them into a small muslin bag.

4)      Cut the peeled oranges into halves and then slice each half into thin slices. Finally put the orange slice, minced peel and the muslin bag containing the pips into the orange water. Bring the mixture to the boil and simmer for another 5 minutes. Then take out the muslin bag and discard it.

5)      Take the pan off the heat and stir in the lemon juice and sugar. Keep stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved.

6)      Then put the pan back on the stove and bring it again to the boil. Do this quickly and once it bubbles, take it off the stove and fill it into sterilised glasses. Cover with cling film and let the marmalade cool down.