Thursday, February 21, 2008

Fermented Foods Class in Tucson, Arizona

Well, I did it. I am going to be teaching a class on fermented foods at Pima Community College this Spring.

I received a call from Pima Community College with an interest to have a class on Effective Microorganisms™. After going through what would be the most popular topics, cooking classes stood out. There is a growing trend in the Raw Foods and Fermented Foods arena. As more and more people focus on health, they are learning about the benefits of probiotics and fermented foods.

My cooking experience and interest in raw foods peaked my interest in teaching a class on using EM•1® EM America store to make foods. So much of cooking is intuition. You can learn the basics and branch out from there to make concoctions that suit your tastes. I generally start with a recipe and incorporate EM•1® into the recipe. Some of the recipes I came up with are on the EM America website (Raw Food Recipes). Since I normally just make something to taste, I normally don't measure ingredients. This is a bad habit when you actually want to create a recipe, but is really how things are done in the professional arena. All recipes are really just guidelines for chefs to follow up on to remind them of how they created something they liked.

In the class I plan on showing people how to make a couple of the recipes on the EM America site and also how to make a couple other things. I wanted to show how to make beer, but am not allowed to due to school policy.

Here is the information on the class:

CF117 – Introduction to Fermented Foods

Learn to make some simple, healthy foods that are Raw, Organic and Live! We’ll make a fermented Balsamic Vinaigrette that has an extended shelf life, a fermented health drink with natural carbonation, and some salsa that is packed with nutrients and is easy to digest. All of the foods provide natural probiotics to the body. Join us to prepare the latest in gourmet food that is a powerhouse of nutrition. $15 food fee per person.

Thr 5/22 6:00-8:00pm SAAVI 3767 E. Grant Road $39 ( 8 students min and 15 students max)

(SAAVI has a demonstration kitchen)

We need to get about 10 students. If you're in the area, please sign up. It will be fun!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

What is "bokashi"

Bokashi is really a term. It is Japanese for "fermented organic matter." The closest thing I would relate it to is silage. Silage is hay or grains that are fermented for livestock feed. The feed is collected in large piles, some water is added, and the pile is covered and allowed to ferment for an extended period of time. The fermentation process causes the lignin in the grains to break down so it can be easily digested by the livestock.

Today most commercial feedlots go through so much feed that they do not have the time needed for the fermentation to take place. Therefore, most of the animals are fed whole grains like corn and soybeans. There is a definite difference in taste between meats that were grain fed or grass fed. Many grass fed animals are fed silage during the winter (in cold areas). This grasses that are mowed can inoculated with EM1 just before they are bagged. This will accelerate fermentation, produce enzymes, amino acids, add trace minerals and vitamins (antioxidants) so the feed it value added. This finished product would be called EM1 boakshi...for animal feeds. This is done in over 100 countries worldwide.

Starting in Japan, several womens' groups got together with schools to promote what they call the Bokashi Network. The Bokashi Network teaches students to make and use EM1 Bokashi to ferment cafeteria waste, preventing it from going to incinerators or landfills. Since this process of recycling food waste involves fermentation, meats and dairy can be added to the mix. EM America has detailed the food waste recycling program and also has the instructions on how to make EM1 Bokashi.

In Tucson, Arizona, the Arizona School For the Deaf And Blind makes their own EM1 Bokashi and recycles all their cafeteria food waste. This school wants to teach the students life-skills. Therefore, they teach the students how to make and sell the EM1 Bokashi. The students bury the food waste into pits and allow it to break down turning. The soil they use to grow plants (flowers and vegetables). They have a little store that is open to the public. At the store they sell the flowers and veggies so they learn a bit about business as well. It is a great program. Other schools may use the foods they grow to supplement the foods they serve in the cafeteria. This is another great full circle opportunity for schools to teach, learn, and save some money.

EM1 Bokashi can also be used instead of clay kitty litter. The microbes in the EM1 Bokashi will break down all the urine so the litter box doesn't smell bad. When the box needs cleaning, the spent litter can be used to fertilizer flowers in the yard. This is another great way to keep unnecessary stuff out of our landfills and to deter from using synthetic fertilizers.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Cats and skunks

When I lived back in Massachusetts there were a lot of skunks in the area. During the summer you could not mistake the smell. You would be driving along a wooded road and out of nowhere that smell would invade your senses! The thick stench of a nocturnal animal...the skunk. Your mind would flash to the old cartoons of Pepe Le Pu walking around with his tail wafting the odor trail... It you get too close, look out! The smell will bring tears to your eyes.

While I was growing up, I always heard horror stories of dogs coming home wreaking of skunk. The only way people knew how to get rid of the smell was with a bath of tomato juice...not only does that sound gross, but it also sounds expensive!

One warm summer evening...around wife and I had gone to bed. A few minutes later we heard what sounded like a cat fight. Our cat had ticked off the wrong animals. We opened the door to let him in before he got hurt. There was a funny smell that came in the house...there were also two other animals that followed him right in the door: a possum and a skunk!!! Our eyes started tearing up right away.

The cat ran into the house, climbing up the couch and down the back of the arm chair and then under the couch, leaving a lovely scent as he went. We managed to get the skunk and the possum out of the house with the assistance of a nice broom. My cat was wet with skunk spray. Without thinking I grabbed him by a handful of skin and fur and threw him in the bathtub. I grabbed a gallon bottle of Activated EM•1® (AEM1) on the way... I held him down...cats don't really like water...and poured the AEM1 all over him. Like magic, the skunk smell was gone. A few scratches later and a warm was time to treat the rest of the house. A couple of spray bottles helped get the stuff on all the furniture. It took about an hour to spray and wash down everything, but we got rid of the skunk smell on everything we thought the cat had run into.

The next morning I had a sales call. I picked up my bag and headed out the house to my appointment, which was an hour away. When I got to the clients house, I realized we missed spraying my bag. It still smelled like skunk. Oh, what a smelly day!