What to do with big slicing cucumbers (it’s not what you think)

There are a few varieties of cucumbers out there, and it’s good to know what to do with each one, to bring out the best in each variety. 

Kirby cucumbers are great for pickling. 

Some cucumbers are great for pickling. Notable among them are kirbies and gherkins (cornichons). They come in various sizes, have a bumpy skin, and have more girth than length.

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How to toast pine nuts to perfection

Arguably one of the tastiest little fuckers that mother nature ever invented, pine nuts are absolutely tantalizing when toasted to a medium golden brown and added to literally anything. And they ain’t cheap, so don’t burn them trying this. 

For the next 4 minutes, your entire life is about toasting pine nuts. It requires all of you. Place the pine nuts in a cast iron or all-clad pan. place on medium heat. Move the pan around constantly. Do not set it down; they will burn almost immediately. Do this for 4 minutes. Use a wooden spoon to stir them around while also moving the pan in circles over the flame. Aim to get all of them evenly toasty and brown. Remove from heat and toss in a bit of sea salt. After they’ve cooled, sprinkle a bit of paprika. Add as a garnish to soups, on bean dips, or in salads. 

Nettles for Allergy Season

This time of year can be rough on the senses. Itchy eyes, runny nose, dry mouth, but you’re pretty sure you’re not sick… There are a few ways to get through this. Sure, pharmaceutical options like zyrtec and claritin have their merits, blocking histamines that cause these annoying symptoms. I’ve found a better approach using plant medicine. In particular, for seasonal allergies and hay fever, a strong infusion of nettles and some raw, local honey does the trick. 

Infuse your nettles in a glass pot with hot water and let them steep for a long time. Minimum 10 minutes, but better if you can leave them for a few hours. Add raw, local honey and drink the brew as often as needed. Why raw and local honey? Most allergies are triggered by airborne irritants of various origins, but many of these irritants come from nearby flora. Flower and tree pollen, mold spores, etc. Raw honey is more effective in supporting immune function because it has bioactive compounds that have not been killed by heat. Local honey is more effective in fighting irritants because bees produce honey with those elements in their diet. I don’t understand the magic of the bee kingdom but I can say very confidently that something about the process of an allergen going through the gut of a honey bee makes it an antidote to that allergen in humans. It’s magic, pretty much.

How to cook beans better

Beans are amazing. Also known as legumes or pulses, beans are super nutritious, packed with vegan protein and fiber, delicious, and cheap. But there are a few things everyone who cooks beans should know before they start.

1. Soak dry beans in water the night before. (Some of you are probably like, “um, obvies!” but I’m gonna go through all the basics for the sake of any newbies reading this). Discard the soaking water (you can feed your plants with it or cook rice with it, just don’t cook beans in their soaking water – it is full of an enzyme that prevents them from softening). There is a short soak method for dry beans; it involves bringing beans in water to a boil and then removing from the heat and soaking for two hours. I find soaking beans in cool water overnight (minimum of 8 hours but I go 24 or even 48 hours) is a better and more effective method. If you live in a very warm climate, you might want to soak your beans in the fridge, to prevent spontaneous fermentation.

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Substituting for buttermilk in a pinch

Many recipes call for buttermilk. It is a sour and delicious by-product of making butter! Well, you can make a great substitute if you can’t get fresh buttermilk, which, unless you live by a farm or by an awesome farmer’s market, can be hard to come by. Just combine 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with 1 cup milk, stir, and use in your recipe immediately. You can substitute other types of vinegars but cider vinegars (coconut cider is a good one!) work best. In the case of blueberry lemon pancakes, you can use lemon flavored aged white balsamic vinegar for a distinct and remarkable flavor.