HOME GARDENING: Tomatoes and Staples

my kitchen staples: alugbati at talbos ng kamote Living a raw vegan lifestyle reconnected me back not only to myself (better health) but also to nature in its simplest and most intimate form…gardening. It’s virtually impossible to prepare food the way it was designed to consume to forget to observe where it comes from.Working with KNL’s current headquarters offerings, we tilled the empty adjacent lot and used up the empty kitty litter and kibble as our front porch as containers for our tomatoes and herbs. A small portion of the lot cradles our compost pit, this is where all the peels go if it cannot be saved by my dehydrator. I am but a beginner in gardening. As a raw foodist and frustrated microbiologist who loves growing little buggers, I became quite the experienced fermentation enthusiast (kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, nut cheezes) and master sprouter of seeds, I figured how hard can gardening be? My inspiration fueled by the glorious rice paddies of Bali, I came home with a portion of my suitcase with seeds and smuggled kencur (called lesser galangal, floral in scent, integral in Balinese spice pastes). As you can see below, my kencur started as such and it will be ready for transplantation again in two weeks. Shakti Yoga and Wellness Center is the proud recipient of some of my priceless kencur. My kencur in two months (May-July) Growing up with my grandparents in the middle of the metropolis who loved to care for animals and garden gave me the appreciation for fruits of the earth and fresh food. I remember as a very young child, I would skip to our garden and pick the ripest tomato off the vine and bite into it with my eyes closed, feel the sweetness and slight tang flood all over my senses. No other fruit can ever compete with a perfectly vine-ripened tomato, bar none. And so, I made it my mission to replicate the experience by planting all the seeds of the heirloom tomatoes and plum tomatoes bought from Down To Earth and Organic Manila respectively. the first tomatoes! so excited for the harvest. Next project will be lettuces and container pechay and tatsoi. I have yet to secure organic seeds and I already have all the soda bottles required to plant all of them. The more I do this, the more I wish I can garden for a living.... read more

RAWKIN’ RECIPE: Homemade Santol Soda

finished santol soda Learning to work with the seasons, I mostly make the most of what we can find in the markets in the kitchen.  These days, heaps of santol are everywhere. Working with the seasons has wonderful benefits: produce in season tastes great and nutritionally superior, plus it’s inexpensive. Santol  (Sandoricum koetjape) has no exact translation in English although the French dubbed it as “faux mangosteen” and in some resources, it is referred to as “wild mangosteen“. Santol is anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer. Taking a quick trip down memory lane, I grew up with a couple of trees of santol in my yard whose ripe fruits were generously offered for immediate consumption dipped in rock salt; cooked in coconut cream and chili and chopped finely to make the best santol-ade ever over ice. My grandmother would also use unripe santol as a souring agent in sinigang na isda (sour soup with fish). I have been making guinataang santol  and served it with sprouted and cooked rice for the last two weeks at the insistence of the husband–who has roots in Bicol and thoroughly enjoyed his grandmother’s cooking. I rolled up my sleeves and cooked  a vegan version of a dish from his childhood. I ended up making juice from the leftover seeds but decided to bring it up a notch and made soda out of it using kefir. bright and bubbly! INGREDIENTS: Santol seeds (used approximately the seeds of 8 santol fruits) Water to cover Coconut sugar to taste (I didn’t use this because it was sweet enough Jar with a tight lid (fermentation jar works well) Kefir water (about 2 tablespoons or more) Put the seeds in a jar, put water to cover and add the water kefir. Let sit overnight on your counter to ferment. Drain and squeeze the seeds, transfer to another jar and put the lid on. Keep in the fridge. Serve... read more