Coconut, carrot, date, and sesame seed “cookies” – Go Raw clone recipe

My go to field snack is always granola bars, so last summer I was trying to mix things up and I discovered these delicious Go Raw cookies. They are tasty tasty! And pretty good for you – sprouted sesame seeds, carrots, coconut, dates and no added sugar. However, they are absurdly expensive, so I decided to try and make them myself. I finally got around to it last week when I harvested a bunch of carrots. They only have 5 ingredients, so I figured I could clone the recipe pretty easily. Here is what I came up with!

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Ingredients:
1/2 cup finely shredded carrots
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/2 tsp nutmeg

This recipe will fill approximately one dehydrator tray (quite fully), so multiply accordingly. I tried a few different ratios of the ingredients, and this one to one ratio was the one I liked best. I think it might be more dates than the Go Raw recipe, but it’s really tasty, and 1:1:1:1 is easy peasy to remember, to double, etc.

First I shredded the carrots through my food processor, then pulsed them to chop them up even more. For the dates, I pitted them and pulsed them in the food processor as well.

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Measure equal parts of the 4 ingredients and combine in a food processor. Add a bit of nutmeg, 1/4-1/2 tsp or to taste. If you don’t have a food processor do small batches in a blender, or mix it up by hand in a large bowl.

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Nom nom nom. Pretty and tasty!

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For drying you have two options. For option one I spread the mixture out evenly across a fruit leather tray on the dehydrator, then just broke it into pieces once dry.

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Alternatively you can form them into cookies. Mine were pretty large, much larger than the Go Raw cookies I was trying to clone, but you could make them any size. Smaller would of course dry faster. I was thinking that you could also roll this out almost like dough and use cookie cutters or cut it into squares with a knife. I think I’ll try that next time.

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Mine in back, Go Raw in front!

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I dried them for about 16 hours and they still weren’t quite crispy, but  they were a somewhat soft consistency that I liked. I think they might have been a little wetter too because I had more dates than the Go raw recipe. Dry until your desired consistency.

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Enjoy!

Tools I used for these:
My food processor
NESCO dehydrator
Fruit leather sheets

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A “berry” good weekend – things to do with strawberries

Believe it or not, strawberry season is wrapping up here next week! So sad! However, I did do a pretty good job taking advantage of the berries this year. We bought a chest freezer, so I’ve frozen a bunch, and I did some dehydrating, canning, and wine making with the rest last weekend. A berry good weekend indeed. For many of you, berry season is probably just beginning, but whether this is your last week, or first, here is some inspiration for things to do with your berries.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Filling – my first blog post ever, and still one of my favourite recipes. The universe is telling us to put these two awesome items together by having them mature at the same time – you should really listen.

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Strawberry Fruit Leather – Since this post, I’ve learned adding some apple sauce or other more fibrous fruit helps with the cracking and crispiness issue. But I also still love it with just strawberries.

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Strawberry jam – a classic favourite of course. Or on the wilder side, add some wine to your jam and try this strawberry pinot noir jam.

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Strawberry wine – heck yes! It’s really not as hard as it seems by the length of the post. You should really really try it. Shorter, point form directions coming soon to entice you more, since not all of you have the attention span for this novel of a post.

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Or a non-alcoholic beverage  (or alcohol optional I should say) – strawberry lemonade concentrate!

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Got a couple handfuls left over still? Flavour some vinegar (or vodka? Post coming soon on that, but it’s basically the same as vinegar)

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Now go, quickly, before they are gone!! Pick some berries! Eat some berries! Can some berries! Dry some berries! Love the berries! And don’t forget to eat some fresh – sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in preservation.  And lay off the caffeine! (Oh wait, that one’s for me.)

Applesauce Fruit Leather 

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This time of year, when canning season is just beginning, is a great time to inventory what you have left in your pantry from last season. In my inventory one thing I noticed that I still had a lot of was applesauce. I haven’t been cooking with it as much as I thought I would, and I just don’t eat it plain often either. I also had a couple flavoured applesauces that friends gave me, including a blackberry one and a cinnamon one (made with cinnamon candy I think).

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So, I decided to repurpose it as fruit leather. I really enjoyed snacking on strawberry fruit leather last summer in the field, so thought I’d free up some spaces in the pantry and dry a few jars of applesauce.

I spread the applesauce out on my fruit leather trays and dried it at 135 F in my dehydrator. 12 oz was about perfect for one tray; I needed to mix a little extra into the 8 oz jar to cover the whole tray.

Here’s the plain applesauce.

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Cinnamon applesauce.

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Blackberry applesauce.

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I love making this just before I go to bed, because it takes at least 8 hours with a full dehydrator.  It’s nice to just wake up and it’s almost done! After 8 – 10 hours you have fruit leather! The publication says 4-8 hours, but I’m thinking 4 must be with one tray, using their precooked method. You know it’s done when there are no wet spots and peels off but still it’s still slightly tacky. Maybe try it during the day for the first time, but I’ve got the timing down well in my dehydrator and can wake up and it’s done 🙂

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After it is dry, peel it off the trays. If you are having trouble getting it started, I find slipping a butter knife under works well.

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Roll it up and store! You can store a whole sheet, or cut it into smaller pieces. You can roll it up with plastic wrap so it doesn’t stick to itself, but I don’t really like using all that plastic wrap so I usually just deal with a few stuck together pieces.

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So beautiful! For more ideas check out the OSU extension publication linked to below.

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Used for this project:
Nesco dehydrator
Extra trays
Applesauce
Fruit leather publication

Teriyaki Beef Jerky

As promised, here is the longer version of my about.com post on making beef jerky at home. Why make jerky? I like making jerky because I can buy beef in bulk, buy the good stuff, and choose my favourite flavours and still make it cheaper than the store-bought jerky – plus it doesn’t have any of those mystery ingredients in it. Or maybe you are a hunter and have some meat you’d like to use up in creative ways, jerky is a great option. Just make sure you follow the safety instructions here to kill anything that could potentially make you sick.

This recipe is for teriyaki beef jerky, but the same procedures may be used for the marinade of your choice. For a couple other marinade options and another detailed look at making jerky, check out Northwest Edible Life, one of my favourite blogs. Also, check out the publication that I refer to for safe jerky making linked here – PNW 632.

Beef jerky

Ingredients
1.5-2 pounds of lean beef
1 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon minced (or dry) garlic
1 tablespoon powdered ginger (or use fresh)

For the beef, I used a flank steak, but any lean cut is good. Chuck, flank, round, rump and sirloin are all good options, and most cuts of game meat are lean so it all works pretty well.

Partially freeze the beef to make it easier to cut. Wrap it in moisture-proof paper or plastic wrap and freeze until firm but not frozen solid. Trim off any excess fat. Slice the meat into long thin strips, an eighth to quarter-inch thick and about an inch wide. You can decide here whether to cut with the grain of the meat or across it. I prefer to slice with the grain because it’s easier to cut, holds together better and makes a chewier, less crumbly jerky. But try a few of each and see what you like best.

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Prepare the marinade by combining everything except the beef.

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So, here is the safety part. To ensure jerky is free of bacteria, it must be heated either before or after it is dried. There are three options for doing this:

1. Dry the jerky, and then heat it in the oven at 275°F for 10 minutes when it’s done

2. Preheat the meat in the oven at 325°F until an internal temperature of 160°F is reached before drying.

3. Preheat the meat in boiling marinade before drying.

Let’s look first at options 1 and 2 because for each of these options you will marinate the meat. Combine marinade and slices of meat in a plastic bag or glass dish and marinate in the refrigerator for 6-12 hours, turning the meat occasionally.

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Once marinated, you have two options, dry, then heat; or heat, then dry. Option 1, the post-dry heat is probably the easiest one to do. In this case, remove the meat from the marinade and arrange your strips of meat on the dehydrator tray close together but not touching. You can pat them dry a bit if you like to speed up the drying time. Dry them until they are dry (duh – but I’ll explain how to tell in a minute).

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Once the jerky is dry (sorry, the flash totally makes them still look wet), you’ll transfer them to a baking sheet and heat for 10 minutes in an oven preheated to 275°F. At this point your jerky is done. Cool it on a paper towel to absorb any excess fat and then store.

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If you chose door number 2, you are precooking the meat basically. The oven needs to be a little hotter (325°F), and the meat needs to reach an internal temperature of 160°F. The disadvantage of this is that you really need a thin tipped thermometer to measure such a thin strip of meat. But if you already have one, or would use it for other purposes then great! This method also means less dehydrator time, and since you precooked you don’t have to worry about overcooking it with the 10 minutes at the end which I have felt I did with some ground meat jerky.

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After your precook, dry the strips the same as above. (Yes, this picture is of raw jerky – didn’t have a precooked pic).

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For the third option, do not marinate the meat. Instead, heat the marinade to boiling and add the beef strips a few at a time. Allow the marinade to return to a gentle boil and stir for about two minutes. Remove and repeat until all meat has been precooked, then immediately dry the meat. This precook method also has the advantage of a shorter dry time, and it was actually my MFP teacher’s favourite method, but I find it doesn’t have quite as strong a flavour as the marinade methods, and makes the meat a bit crumbly. But again, try all three and see what you like.

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For all options, dry the meat either in a dehydrator or in the oven. Set the dehydrator to it’s highest setting (mine says 160°F, somewhere 145-155°F is what’s called for). Now I can’t vouch for how well it works in the oven because I have always used my dehydrator, but here’s how you do it. Arrange the meat on a baking sheet, and dry with the door propped open for airflow. Dry at 144-155°F. Now some ovens can’t maintain that low temperature, so make sure that your oven can maintain 145-155°F using an oven thermometer before even attempting jerky. Set the temperature, prop open the door , and monitor it for one hour. If it cannot maintain temperature, use a dehydrator. Trying to dry the meat with the temperature too high can result in the meat drying on the outside, but maintaining pockets of moisture on the inside. Moisture=bad!

Dry for at least 4 hours (oven drying takes longer and marinated jerky takes longer, and a fuller dehydrator takes longer) until the pieces of meat are dry. When dry, jerky should bend and feel leathery, but not snap. Remove a piece from the dehydrator, let it cool, and then bend it to test for dryness. If there are still moisture pockets, or if you are unsure, dry it a little longer. Most people judge it as done before it really is (including me last time I made this. I had to put them back on the dehydrator and that’s OK).

Once dry, cool on a paper towel, and then store in a cool, dark place. Since some pieces may be slightly wetter than others, you should also first condition them at room temperature for a couple days. Basically this just means leave them in a jar together and give it the occasional shake. If you notice condensation, you haven’t dried them enough – back to the dehydrator!

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Jerky will keep for 2 weeks at room temperature, 3-6 months in the refrigerator or up to a year in the freezer. I usually don’t make a ton at a time so keep it in the fridge, but if you do a massive batch it’s nice to freeze some and take it out as needed.

For a comparison of the methods, I tried my best to capture how they came out. Between the two marinaded ones, I couldn’t tell a huge difference, but I could with the boiling marinade version. Here, the left picture is method 1, marinade and post-dry heat, and the right is method 3, boiling marinade. The boiled ones were a bit drier and more crumbly, and less strongly flavoured. But when I added spice on the outside they were very delicious. And Janice loves this method, so you decide! If you try multiple methods, let me know what you like best!

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The babbling botanist featured on about.com!

Beef jerky

Exciting news folks – a new post by the babbling botanist is on about.com! This past week I was asked by Sean Timberlake, the food preservation expert at about.com, to write a guest post for the site. I decided to discuss how to safely make homemade beef jerky, and the recipe is now available, so go check it out! It’s a delicious and easy homemade snack. Shortly I’ll be posting a slightly longer version here (with more pictures of the steps mostly) and a few additional tips, and I’ll also be posting the ground meat version shortly for those who prefer jerky from ground meat. So stay tuned for that, but in the meantime go check out my post on about.com.

Dehydrating Tomatoes

This year has been amazing for tomatoes in the Pacific Northwest. I am really sad for those of you who haven’t had a great season, but here we certainly have. Come visit and I’ll share with you. 🙂 One thing that I love to do with my tomatoes when they are coming in faster than I can process them for canned goods is to dehydrate them. This is great for tomatoes that are getting pretty ripe and you won’t be able to can, and I really love doing grape or cherry tomatoes. They require very little preparation and make a delicious and nutritious snack.

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To dehydrate your tomatoes, you are welcome to blanch and peel them if you like, but I really don’t see it being worth the time and effort. Peels are delicious too. My favourites to dehydrate are romas and cherry tomatoes. For the cherry tomatoes all I do is wash them, cut a tiny sliver off the core end, then cut them in half. I like to place them cut side up, peel side down, so that they make less of a mess on the trays. For romas I wash them, core them, and cut them in 1/2 to 3/4 inch slices and place them on the tray. And again, if you don’t have a dehydrator, this one is the one I have, and I really have enjoyed it so far.

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Tomatoes should be done at 135 – 140 F in the dehydrator, and will take between 10 -18 hours to dehydrate. I have been cutting them up a few hours before bed and letting them go over night, which is working out quite well. In about 14 hours they are about where I like them, with 4 full trays. They should be a bit leathery but not moist at all.

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Four full trays when dehydrated will make a little less than a quart of delicious little snackies! I find the best way to store them is in a mason jar with a reusable lid. They don’t last long, so I’ll be making a few more batches! mmm mmm good.

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Zucchini Chips

Are your zucchini exploding out of control? Are you overwhelmed? Need a solution? Try making dehydrated zucchini chips!

Haha. Yes, I meant for that to sound like an infomercial.

Making zucchini chips is so easy and it really makes a great use of your excess, because they keep for a long time once they are dry and compress down a lot for storage. All you need to do is cut them up in evenish slices, which is much easier with a mandolin. Arrange them on your dehydrator trays without overlapping.

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For this, I used two medium large zucchini to fill 4 dehydrator trays. Spice the zucchini if you would like. Here I salted them and added cayenne. Don’t add too much though, they are really hot the way I made them! I’ve also seen people toss the slices in a bowl with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper before drying, which would be super delicious also.

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Dry the zucchini at 135-140F. I like to dry them until they are pretty dry and crispy but some people like to leave them a little moister, so it’s really up to personal preference. Dried until the are still slightly pliable is most people’s preference.

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Store in an airtight container. This is two zucchini, four fully loaded trays and they don’t even fill one quart jar. Eat and enjoy!

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Want to make this but need a dehydrator? I have this one and love it.

*this post contains affiliate links, please see the “About the Blogger” page for more information