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A COOKING CLASS UNLIKE ANY OTHER
Kosmic Cooking with Katherine Miller
by Judith Lerner, published in The Berkshire Eagle in a slightly different form on 2010/7/28
I have been intrigued with Katherine Miller’s food since I first saw and tasted it in early May, 2009 as I walked around the EnlightenNext kitchen where she has been executive chef for over 15 years. Katherine and her staff were both preparing that day’s lunch for the 60 or so people who live and work at the retreat center and getting ready for an immanent new venture.
Under Katherine’s direction, the spiritual community would be participating in Berkshire Grown’s first Farmed and Foraged weekend later that month. I came to see what they would be offering.
I oohed and aahed over her show-stopping swirly vegetable chia crackers (since renamed “Jackson Pollock” crackers) and the kale chips being made for the upcoming Berkshire Grown dinner as well as her subtler but haunting dehydrated sprouted buckwheat groats — tiny pyramids of delicate, nutty crunch, to be sprinkled onto the day’s lunch salad.
After creating the showcase Farmed and Foraged dinners last year and this year, Katherine is developing a local following for her food. In June, when she announced she would be teaching a trial class featuring easy vegan party and snack foods — including those delicious, eye-catching crackers — it filled immediately.
“I am doing a cooking class on dehydrating and healthy snacks in direct response to people who had come to the Farmed & Foraged dinner at EnlightenNext,” she said. Some women who attended the dinner were ready. They hadasked her to teach them how to do what she does using ingredients in new healthy ways.
On a damp and rainy Saturday in late June, seven of us spent a most enjoyable an afternoon tasting dehydrated vegetables and flower petals and variously seasoned dehydrated nuts and seeds; extruding spirals of onion, yellow squash and red cabbage, tearing herbs; zesting and squeezing lemons and tasting patés and sundry savory and sweet sauces Miller made for us.
We went away sated, happy with a packet of nearly two dozen of Katherine’s exciting vegan recipes and filled with new-found knowledge and confidence.
“I will be teaching methods,” she told us, “so people can apply them across the board.”
She started by explaining why she had soaked overnight the nuts we were about to toss with maple syrup, vanilla and cocoa powder.
She said that all seeds, nuts, beans [and grains] are protected by naturally occuring antioxidants, phytates, called anti-nutrients, “until conditions are right for the seed or nut to begin to sprout and grow into a plant. Soaking deactivates the phytates and activates certain enzymes that the seed needs to begin to sprout. Soaking makes those same enzymes available to us.”
“Their nutrients are then more accessible and easily digestible by us,” Katherine said.
Also, minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc that phytates bind to themselves so we cannot absorb them during digestion become available when phytates are deactivated.
“When we eat the nut or seed after soaking we are catching them right at their peak of richness and bio-availability,” she said.
We were gathered around the kitchen table in Katherine’s well-stocked but small kitchen. Her dehydrator was on a table on the back porch. We spread chocolate almonds on one tray and the maple walnuts on another and into the dehydrator they went . They would slowly heat and dry there at 115 degrees for at least a day until they were crisp and shiny and no longer sticky.
While making these sweet treats, Miller told us that adding a sprinkling of salt to the mixture enhances the flavors of everything else.
Then Katheriner had us begin to tackle her chia seed crackers, each one its own abstract painting or bright, crisp, colorful dehydrated vegetables and herbs.
She showed us a giant bowl of this ugly gray glop: — chia seeds she had soaked that morning for about two hours.
When they are soaked, she said, “Chia seeds become gelatinous. Flax seeds get slimy.” Katherine does make multi-seed crackers including flaxseed but she is clearly more fond of chia.
Katherine clamped this little aqua contraption with an impaler at one end to the table. The spiralizer. And we all had fun turning a large white onion, a golden zucchini and a purple cabbage into long threads.
One of the students wasAnnie Rothenberger, who has her own small farm in Lee. She had brought lovage and basil and other herbs to include in the crackers. We tore them into leaves or bright green shreds as we shmooshed handfuls of color onto the gluey gray mass we had started to spread onto dehydrator trays.
Finally, we ran out of ingredients so our creations were ready to enter dehydration. Because of the damp weather, they were not ready, dry, until Monday, two days later.
Katherine had made an array of both plain, unseasoned dehydrated vegetables and flavored versions for us to taste — carrots, Chinese cabbage, kale and zucchini chips. My favorites were the plain vegetables. The flavors concentrate when they dehydrate. I found the flavorings distracting.
I did love the flavored nuts and seeds, though. Katherine gave us tamari almonds, curried cashews and sesame seeds, maple walnuts and chocolate almonds. Oddly, delicious as they were, they were so satisfying that I really could stop snacking after only a few. That was enough and I am not virtuous.
Katherine then demonstrated making what she calls almond ricotta, a vegan substitute for cheese. But it does not taste like a substitute for anything. We at it on some apple slices and loved it.
She made a paté with celeriac and leeks. Celeriac is that wrinkly, round root with a mild, sweet flavor and a perfect texture base for the paté. The sautéed leeks gave it a vichyssoise flavor. We ate that on rice crackers. It was also satisfying.
She also made a sweet cashew-vanilla cream that she called a sauce but was more like a frosting. It was delicious sandwiched between cheese-it-sized Granny Smith apple “crackers”. Mmmn.
Lastly, she gave us sauces she had made with pureed raw vegetables and herbs. The carrot sauce was particularly wonderful, spiced up as it was with raw ginger and garlic.
If you are intrigued and would like to find out if you might enjoy Katherine’s vegan (no animal products whatsoever) food, Friday, she will be serving a 3-course meal as part of a day and eveninglong free celebration of spirit, culture and creativity at EnlightenNext at Foxhollow on Route 7 in Lenox. The dinner costs $20 per person and must be reserved. The menu, featuring organic, local ingredients, some grown at EnlightenNext, is online at http://blog.enlightennext.org/eeday/7page_id=40 Call Katherine Miller at (413) 822-8390 to reserve a place and to get information about future classes.
Use almond ricotta as you would ricotta cheese. Good spread between shaved vegetable slices for “raw ravioli”.
1 cup almonds, soaked overnight up to 24 hours, drained
1 cup fresh water
1 tablespoon umeboshi plum vinegar
2 teaspoons chickpea or other light miso
or 1/2 teaspoon Herbamaré [Charles: accent e] seasoning or to taste
1 tablespoon chopped lovage or celery leaves
1/2 cup chives, chopped
Squeeze/pop off almond skins between your fingers. This is easy after almonds have been soaked. Blend all in a heavy-duty blender until creamy but still a bit chunky with the texture of ricotta cheese. makes 1 1/2 cups
2 cups walnuts
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
Soak walnuts 4 to 6 hours. Drain. Rinse. Dehydrate at 115 degrees for at least an hour until dry. Toss with maple syrup, vanilla and salt. Dehydrate at 115 degrees for a day or more until dry, shiny and crisp. Stir every few hours for best results. makes 2 cups
gourmet vegetarian feast
Friday, July 30 from 2 to 5pm
presented by EnlightenNext during Evolutionary Enlightenment Day (from 12pm to 9pm)
3 courses of organic, Berkshire grown, vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers expertly prepared by EnlightenNext’s gourmet chefs
gazpacho: fresh from the garden veggies in a base of creamy sweet corn and cashews
with sourdough garlic toasts
“ravioli”: ripe tomato slices filled with almond “ricotta” topped with pesto
steamed fingerling potato & scarlet runner bean summer salad tossed with olive oil & fresh herbs
just-picked green salad tossed with nasturtiums, borage, arugula flowers & mint in chive dressing
“tapioca” pudding: coconut milk, chia seeds, maple syrup and heaps of homegrown raspberries
choco-roons: a combination of raw cacao and coconut
$20 per person
please RSVP at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Katherine Miller (413) 822-8390
|Read the article here:BERKSHIRE GROWN-SPONSORED FARMED & FORAGED WEEKEND
by Judith Lerner, May 15 through 17, 2009
published in The Berkshire Eagle in a slightly different form on 2009/5/13
Chive flowers are budding on straight, compact stands. Parsley is beginning to leaf. Thyme is creeping, kale is out and violets are crowding along the pathways of the kitchen garden behind EnlightenNext’s international headquarters in the main house at Foxhollow in Lenox.
When executive chef Katherine Miller opens the doors of one of her four dehydrators to show the swirly root vegetable chia seed crackers baking/drying on the shelves, there are the chives, bold, linear stripes among swirling beets and carrots. Each matzoh-size cracker is an abstract painting: iridescent plumy reds and oranges and strands of green against the grainy background.
Even on a gray morning, the large, pleasant kitchen is bright with light streaming through its many large windows.
“I try to think of what colors are,” Katherine says of the crackers she and her staff are preparing to serve along with kale chips as accompaniments to cream of wild ramp and wild watercress soup as the first course of their sumptuous candlelit gourmet vegan dinner this Saturday evening as part of Berkshire Grown’s Farmed and Foraged weekend, Friday, May 15 through Sunday, May 17..
Berkshire Grown, our own supporter and promoter of local farms, farmers, farm-to-table dining and seasonal eating for over 20 years, at the suggestion of new board member Nancy Thomas, owner of Mezze Restaurant Group, is celebrating spring’s bounty of wild and cultivated foods. Seventeen longtime and new restaurants are offering three-course prix fixe menus or a la carte selections featuring wild edibles, locally grown produce, Berkshire artisan cheeses, heritage-breed meats, locally farmed fish, and locally made bread, chocolate, beers, ciders and spirits.
“We’ve been part of Berkshire Grown for a few years but I’ve just gotten more active with them — going to meetings, meeting more of the farmers and meeting more of the chefs,” she explains.
In the early 1980s, Katherine studied macrobiotics at the Kushi Institute when it was in Boston and has been cooking vegetarian and vegan food for over 30 years. She moved to California to study the connections between culture, consciousness, enlightenment and the future with Andrew Cohen, teacher and founder of EnlightenNext — until this year called Enlightenment Now.
She has been cooking for the 60 to 125 people who study, live and/or work at EnlightenNext since she returned east to the Berkshires from California in 1996 with her husband, Robert Heinzman, publisher of EnlightenNext magazine.
“It’s a little like a coming out party for me,” she says. It is the first time the general public is invited in to sample the party version of what Katherine serves every day at EnlightenNext.
“I’ve started to meet a lot of the local chefs. They always ask me where I cook. This is a way for me to invite people in to experience the kind of whole, live foods we specialize in.”
Her menu offers, in addition to the soup and accompaniments, warm sprouted lentil salad on mesclun with chive dressing; quinoa and walnuts wrapped in sorrel leaves with mushroom demi-glace, glazed shitake mushrooms, crispy yellow oyster mushrooms and braised cattails’ and home grown sour cherry-rhubarb coconut custard tarts in almond-date crust sprinkled with those violets.
Berkshire restaurants participating in Berkshire Grown’s Farmed and Foraged event this weekend include:
allium restaurant + bar, Barrington Brewery, Café Adam, Café Latino, Castle Street Café, EnlightenNext, Gramercy Bistro, Inn at Sweetwater Farm, John Andrews Restaurant, Mezze Bistro + Bar, The Old Inn on the Green, Pittsfield Brew Works, The Point at Thornewood Inn, The Red Lion Inn, Route 7 Grill, Stagecoach Tavern, and The Williamsville Inn
— Judith Lerner
(c) 2009 The Berkshire Eagle. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Media NewsGroup, Inc. by NewsBank, Inc.
by Judith Lerner, published in The Berkshire Eagle on 2010/6/16
Next we have those who cater vegan feasts and weddings. Vegan means no animal products whatsoever. Not even honey. But wine is okay. I just looked it up. The yeast that ferments both wine and bread is neither plant nor animal. Yeast is a fungus as are mushrooms. Another kingdom.
Katherine Miller has started Kosmic Cooking and makes some of the most delicious and creative food in the Berkshires. The partners who made up Dancing Vegan will come together to cater any event. And the Kushi Institute in Becket, the daddy of all local vegans, will cater your wedding as well.