Special Valentine Chocolate Collection!

MiMi's handmade chocolate covered truffles

You all know I love making my own artisan chocolates - right? and that I have a strong desire to open a chocolate shop in downtown brunswick and call it "port city chocolates" and use a liberty ship or a mermaid as the logo, maybe both! hmmmm???
MiMi's Rawsome Truffles
 Well, I have found some handmade chocolates which are far superior to my own! 
while cruising the web for ingredients to make valentine chocolates, i came across mama ganache. I was really impressed by the company mission and after talking with cindy by phone, decided rather than making my own, i would introduce this great company to my readers and give us all a chance to try their delicious chocolates. 

Leafy Love!

MiMi's coconut nipples (I mean macaroons)
then, in addition to the mama ganache assortment, i will add my own selection, handmade by me, using mama ganache 70% dark chocolate (fair trade, organic of course)and the usual lotta leafy love!
chocolate gets a bad rap for many reasons. To read more about the benefits of chocolate/cocoa click here. to find out more about fair trade cocoa and why its important, click here.
MaMa Ganache  & MiMi assortment



Ordering info is on this week's leafy cafe meals to go-go order form which you will find right here. feel free to order the chocolates without ordering the meals if you live close enough to pick them up from the club (2929 demere rd, st simons, ga). because of the special-ness of this product, the chocolates will not be available for pick-up until wednesday or thursday february 11 or 12th. those of you who would like to mail order chocolates from mama ganache should do so right from their website. sorry, this custom selection is for pick-up only. 

Kumquat Marmalade

When life hands you kumquats, you make kumquat marmalade, right? I know, you are thinking "this stuff has tons of sugar" and you are right! But there are those times when a little bit of sugar might just sweeten up your day. I use so little jams, almost no jellies, and very rarely do I spread marmalade on anything, until last week.

Finally over the jet lag from our recent trip, we have been getting outside for walks together as much as possible before D heads off on another filming adventure. We were walking by the beautiful courthouse square in our town and saw a kumquat tree heavily laden with fruit. The tree was growing in the garden of a fantastic Carpenter Gothic Victorian home which is acting as a law office. I couldn't resist going in and asking if I could take some of the fruit in exchange for a couple of jars of what ever I might make with it.
Carpenter Gothic houses Williams Litigation Group

I knew immediately it would be marmalade, something I have only made once or twice before, mostly because we do not eat it much. The people at the law office were more than happy to give us the fruit as well as a bag to put it in so we started picking! Happily walked away with about 3 lbs of kumquats! I pondered for a moment but quickly realized, I had JUST the right recipe! 

While we were on the Silver Discoverer, I met some really great people from many places including Lyn from Australia, Christina and Chris, both from New Jersey, in fact, Chris and I were both born in the same NJ hospital! These folks were my buddies on zodiac trips, through many lectures, and in the evening for recap cocktails and dinner on countless occasions - THANKS GUYS, I am forever grateful to you all for luring me out of my shy-self and without y'all there, I might have been locked in my cabin, which we know would have ended badly! 
Christina, Chris, Lyn & David in Milford Sound, NZ
Back to the recipe. On Christmas night, we were visited by Father Christmas, who made the rounds with gifts of candy for all. When he laughed his way to our table I was so excited to see it was one of my newer acquaintances, Dr. John. He asked  if I'd been naughty or nice this year, of course I answered "naughty" and we instantly bonded. 
Dr. John as Father Christmas! The image is fuzzy because the ship was rolling so much, seriously!
We had only met very briefly and little did we know at this point we both share the love of food. Yes, Father Christmas/Dr. John & I are passionate FOODIES! After Christmas, Dr. J would begin to show me images of his prize-winning jams, Madeleine cookies, and more, while I drooled. We compared our love for the Australian Woman's Weekly Guide to Preserving, all things Maggie Beer, Stephanie Alexander and more. Dr. J affectionately (for the love of food, not necessarily for me...) scribbled notes and tips, web addresses and titles of books about everything from food to music on scraps of paper during our conversations. I urged him to do this for me so I could remember it, after all, I do suffer from CRS! I also love to read recipes which were hand-written by someone and lovingly think about that person while reading & cooking the recipe.
Then, one day, John gifted me his award-winning method for making jams, jellies and marmalade IN THE MICROWAVE! I thought perhaps, being the trickster that he is, maybe he was leading me a stray...
Kumquats with Dr. J's handwritten recipe on Siverseas paper!

He carefully wrote the step by step instructions for making microwave jam, in small batches (about 3 cups or so at a time, depending on the bowl and microwave strength). I knew I would have to try this
as soon as it seemed the right opportunity, which I presumed would be next Summer, in Maine, when I have access to an abundance of fruit. Little did I dream I would find a bumper crop of one of the very fruits we discussed, Kumquats (also spelled cumquat) right in my own backyard, for FREE! I purchased some kumquats at the grocery store in November to garnish the dairy-free cheese platters and they cost about $6 a pint!
I double checked some other favorite jam-making books to compare recipes, I still could not believe I would be making jam in the microwave! I decided to make one batch in the microwave and one, more traditional, using Beverly Sutherland Smith's recipe shown here:

Beverly's recipe; notice the Drambuie!

The cost of the Drambuie, which I simply had to use in both recipes, made up for the savings on the fruit! $25 for a pint! 
Here is the recipe Dr. J sent when I emailed regarding Kumquats specifically. I wanted to be sure they would work as well as any fruit:

MICROWAVE KUMQUAT MARMALADE (or any other fruit jam) a la John.
Great to hear from you, Stephanie Alexander's mum's recipe is good 
BUT my microwave one is better and specifically 
1. Cut the cumquats in half. 
2. Separate the pips and half pips from the fruit don't try to be delicate because you then chop (slicing is impossible) the fruit up. 
4. Put any juice and chopped up fruit in the Pyrex bowl and put pips in a Muslin bag tied well so none escape but free enough to cook. 
5. Just cover with water and cook for 20 mins, leave over night.  
6. Follow microwave recipe ie 1 cup VERY cooked fruit (may need 20 more mins and additional water) : 1 cup sugar, leaving pips in bag for whole process. If they escape at the time of rolling boil they are dark brown and are tricky to remove but must not go into jars if you want a transparent look the pips will be dark brown and chewy. 

Have fun 
Missing you already 
It is 37C today SUMMER 

Both batches turned out really nicely. I modified Beverly's recipe by using less sugar. I only used 1 cup sugar - each cup of fruit, as in John's recipe, and I did not use any citric acid in the stove top batch, which John's recipe called for at 1/2t. Citric acid per cup of fruit. I actually found the stove top batch to have a slightly better flavor and consistency but then John mentioned in another email, he doesn't hesitate to add a bit of boiling water to bowl during the  boiling process if the mixture is looking too "gummy". Here is John's advice:

"if getting gummy I have no hesitation in adding a half cup of boiling water but not towards the end of the 15 mins of rolling boil, within first half cooking time only.  Re citric acid I just find sometimes lemon juice can be less predictable but yes keep experimenting, if free access to lemon juice use it, about half a small lemons worth of juice per cup of fruit. Fruit acidity is hard to ascertain but I read that pectin will not form unless the jam is acidic. "

John has won First Prize with his orange marmalade so I trust he knows what he is talking about!!

the finished marmalade, both batches came out super!

Thanks Williams Litigation Group!!
Good Luck making your first batch of microwave jam! If any questions, please email or leave comments below!


Merry Christmas from New Zealand!

It's Christmas Day here & the morning was spent hiking to waterfalls & spectacular lookout spots at Ships Cove, one of Captain Cooks favorite landings. This afternoon, we are off to Picton and special tours to the Marlborough region for food and wine pairings, which should be interesting to say the least! Thus far my "special diet" has been beautifully and tastefully accommodated.
Here are a few pictures of the ship, our cabin, and other various shots. 

Yesterday we had a cultural tour with the chief of a Maori tribe & his family. They served us an afternoon tea with snacks including fresh veggies & hummus!! Wow! 
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas!!! I might have a bite of Christmas pudding or some pavlova tonight, just for the heck of it!! 
Can't publish with all of these photos so I've deleted some. Merry Christmas everyone!!! 

Is it Possible? AKA Anything is Possible, including Kale Salad!

Kale Salad
Yesterday I had all of these crazy ideas running around in my head while on my morning walk. Besides the usual Kale salad recipes, I was thinking "how can I keep the Leafy Cafe running in Georgia while escaping occasionally on work trips with my husband and living/working in Maine in the Summers? Surely there is a way! Can I do this??" Here is how I see the timeline:

November 1, 2014
Return to Georgia after a very busy Summer in Maine, working at the beautiful Inn at Sunrise Point with a fabulous team and owner (Love it!) I've taught many classes,  including the really fun Beyond Tofu and Beyond Yogurt workshops (muchas gracias to my lovely assistants!) at The Picker Family Resource Center. Private chef gigs galore, etc., etc. Oh, and making lots of jewelry in between cooking/innkeeping stints!
MiMiSpirit Jewelry at the Northern Lights Gallery in Belfast, ME

Making Chocolates YAY
All of November will be spent planning the re-open of the cafe. Cooking for any private clients and events, making CHOCOLATES,  Jewelry, and other goodies for Holiday sales, and having some fun cooking classes at the Leafy Cafe Cooking School at 1008 Union. (and working on the year-end books- boo hiss!!)
Raw Chocolates too!!

Filing and Quickbooks and Quicken and Filing - what a DRAG!!

Mid December - early January
Voyaging on the Silver Discoverer!
I will accompany David on a work trip to South Africa and New Zealand! First time I have been able to travel with my sweetie for work in years!

Helping DW in Planning a Destination Workshop Photo Safari in South Africa!

January -  June, 2015 
Re-open the Leafy Cafe!! We will have regular hours at least 3 days a week, offer the meal services again, and start a monthly FULL MOON supper hopefully to coincide with Full Moon Yoga somewhere??? Possibly adding a once-a-month SUNDAY BRUNCH. PIZZA!! All plant based of course, with options for Gluten Free and Raw. I toyed around adding some animal products but just can't go there folks, sorry. You can get that anywhere. Maybe this is where I'm missing the boat on what will make the cafe viable but... While one is manifesting, might as well go for the gold standard!

Teaching Food for Life Cooking and Nutrition Classes at the Club, or in my home if the numbers are really low...
Speaking of numbers, the number of interested parties ordering food or stopping by the cafe after Memorial Day was markedly lower than previous months. I believe this is the trend in the health club anyway. People are travelling, some go back up north, many want to be outside, etc. On the flip side, the numbers of participants in my Maine activities drops off considerably in the winter, plus the Inn at Sunrise Point closes so somehow this all seems to fit together, right?

Moon rise over Penobscot Bay on a recent evening shift at the Inn

July - October 2015
Return to Maine, work at the Inn, make jewelry, and by this time, have an brick and mortar front for Leafy Cafe in Maine! More private clients, more Food for Life classes and other fun Plant-centered classes at The Picker Family Resource Center, etc. Maybe one more trip with DW???

Can it work? Will it work? How do y'all feel? Suggestions welcome!

Love and Peas!

Three Kale Salad Recipes :-)

Kale Salad Three Ways

Citrus Soy Kale Salad

Kale, any kind
Grated carrot
Toasted almonds

Dressing: rice vinegar, tamari, flax oil, lemon and tangerine juice, sesame seeds, chipotle chili pepper, and cayenne red pepper

Kale Waldorf
Serves 4 to 6

This variation on the classic Waldorf salad uses kale instead of lettuce and adds apple and walnuts to the dressing for a creamy consistency without using the typical mayonnaise base.
4 cups packed finely chopped raw kale, preferably dinosaur kale
1 large red apple, such as Fuji or Honeycrisp, chopped, divided
1 cup thinly sliced celery
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped, divided 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons raisins, divided
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons water, more if needed 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
Place kale in a large bowl. Add half the apple to kale along with celery, 1/4 cup walnuts and 1/4 cup raisins. Put remaining apple in a blender along with remaining 1/4 cup walnuts, remaining 2 tablespoons raisins, mustard, water, vinegar and salt. Purée until well combined and slightly thick, adding water if needed to thin. Pour dressing over kale salad and toss to combine.

Massaged Kale & Avocado Salad
Serves 2 – 3
1 bunch Kale
1 cup broccoli slaw
1 avocado, pitted and chopped
2 T flax or olive oil
2 T lemon juice
Sea Salt to taste
Pinch caynenne

Combine all ingredients well in a medium bowl and massage and mix with your hands to “wilt” the kale. 

Annual Dinner & NATTO Tasting!

Maple Tree in our yard!
Hello Healthy Ones!

Where has the Summer gone? My how time flies and so, once again, shall I! Yes, I am truly a WIMP when it comes to Yankee winters. But before I depart for points south, I was hoping we could all get together for some Plant-Powered Fun on Monday, October 13th - Mark your calendars. 

This year will be our third annual Food for Life Maine Alumni Supper. I've been so blessed to be teaching the FFL cooking classes in Maine for 4 years now!
Once again, we will convene at The High Tide Inn thanks to owner, Innkeeper, & FFL Alimna, Jo Freilich.   Beautiful!!
High Tide Inn
Wouldn't it be nice if we were going to be there early enough to see this view?? Sorry, we are gathering at 6ish so some of you early birds might just get a peak.

This year we will be trying something special & unique, but of course, NATTO! Yep, that stringy, smelly, fermented form of soy which is the plant world equivalent to Limburger Cheese. You' ll either love it or hate it - But please come try it! Rita Haas, super macrobiotic teacher extraordinaire, will be with us to coach on all things Natto and she has agreed to bring some AMASAKE, whatever that is! Other than the Amasake, it's BYOB (Bring your own Beverage) Jo will have water & it is also BADTS! (Bring a Dish to Share :) I will have door prizes & goodbye hugs if you will bring your dish & recipe.
Blessings from the Bean!
See you there? Hope so, or be L7!
Email me at mcgee.mimi@gmail.com to let me know if you are planning to attend so we have an idea of numbers!
Thanks, Love & Peas!

OH, and don't forget to tell anyone you know who would like to learn more about Food for Life Cooking classes about our Breast Cancer Awareness Class to be held at the Picker Family Resource Center on Wednesday, October 15 at 5:30. It is FREE to all FFL newbies!

Black Trumpet Mushrooms Polenta

Foraging for Mushrooms on the Trail

View of Penobscot Bay and Islands on a cloudy day with intermittent rain

David is home for a total of 4 days before his next departure so we decided to take Rosie on one of our favorite hikes. The hike is easy and only about 3-4 total miles but the pay off views are fantastic!


 Along the trail we met with other hikers who had bags, hats, and even frisbees filled with wild mushrooms. Chanterelles, Black Trumpets, and multiple inedible fungi were all over the place after mild temps and light rain presented perfect growing conditions. We decided to join in on the fun and collected just enough for a light lunch. I used ingredients we had on hand at home. Polenta (corn grits) our own home-grown garlic, a bit of white wine, some fresh thyme and these interesting mushrooms to make this dish. We ate our polenta soft, right out of the saucepan without going through the steps of forming, chilling, cutting an baking which makes for a better presentation but would have taken way too long for the instant gratification we needed immediately off the trail. Scroll down for the recipe and don't feel guilty if you don't wait either! In  fact, the only time I really choose to make the polenta triangles or discs is when I am cooking for the Leafy Cafe Meal Service or have leftover grits/polenta in the pot and need to store it!

Last year, we planted seed garlic for this year's harvest!

This is what we used but feel free to try other brands!

Black Trumpet Mushrooms

Polenta Triangles with Black Trumpet Mushrooms

Makes: 4 to 8 servings

1 c. polenta or coarse cornmeal (I used Bob’s Red Mill corn grits)
Pinch o’ Salt
2½ - 3c. water or veggie stock (basically, you want 3 – 1 liquid to grits for this brand)
Pinch o’ Pepper
1 lb. FRESH Black Trumpet Mushrooms, OR an assortment of your favorites OR plain white button, sliced
1 – 2 T. Olive Oil *
1 T.  chopped fresh thyme
¼ c. dry white wine
1 T. garlic, minced, or more to taste

*YES this recipe calls for oil! If you would like to avoid it, you could use pan spray or a dry, non-stick skillet with veggie stock or wine standing by if mushrooms begin to stick.

1. Cook the polenta (or grits) in a medium saucepan with pinch of salt & slowly whisk in water or veggie stock. Set the pot over medium-high heat and bring almost to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and bubble gently, whisking frequently, until thick, 10 to 15 minutes. If the mixture becomes too thick, whisk in a bit more water/stock; you want the consistency to be like thick oatmeal. Taste for seasoning and add salt if necessary and plenty of pepper.
2. Prepare a large baking sheet with some pan spray or a bit of olive oil on a paper towel. While the polenta is still hot, pour it onto the sheet and use a spatula to spread it out evenly at least 1⁄2 inch thick. Refrigerate the polenta until it sets up, about 2 hours – 24 hrs.
3. Heat the oven to 375°F. Prepare a clean large baking sheet with pan spray or oil. When the polenta is set, cut it into at least 12 squares and cut each square in ½ for a triangle. Put the cakes on the baking sheet, and bake until edges begin to brown (the outside should be nice and toasted while the inside should stay soft), 20 to 30 minutes.
4. Put the 1 -2 T. of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add the mushrooms and thyme and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir occasionally, until the mushrooms are tender and dried out a bit, about 10 minutes. Add the wine and let it reduce for a couple of minutes; turn the heat to medium-low and add the garlic. Continue cooking until most of the wine has cooked off. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Serve a spoonful of mushrooms on top of each polenta triangle.

Food for Life in its Fourth Year at the Picker Family Resource Center!

sign at the entrance to the Women's Health Building
On Wednesday evening, we started the fourth year of offering the Food for Life program of Cooking and Nutrition Classes for Cancer Prevention & Survivorship at the Picker Family Resource Center. I feel so blessed to be a part of such a fabulous team providing great information and education to the community served by Pen Bay Healthcare and specifically the Picker Family Resource Center! I knew I had to write this post to share how emotional it was and I was teary-eyed just feeling the love!
The sign I see as I lug my many bags and boxes into the Center for class each week.
 It was like coming home last Wednesday evening as I pulled into the Pen Bay Healthcare Campus and followed the signs to the Picker Center, as I have done for four years now. The co-Directors of the PC were the first to go out on a limb for Food for Life and this newly certified instructor, who was really just a stranger to them at the time. Linda Zeigler and Wendelanne Augunus, thank you both so much for taking a chance on me, and the program. Now, the FFL cooking classes are one of the Center's more popular programs! Currently, we have 10 participants in our Summer series.

Linda Zeigler
Wendelanne Augunas
Here are Co-Directors Zeigler and Augunas at the 10th (and final) Victorian Tea for Breast Cancer Awareness. They are awesome educators and compassionate practitioners and we are sooo lucky to have them in our Hood!!

Thanks to a combination of me tossing wishes out into the universe AND all of the generous responses in the form of support, we have consistently been gifted with food donations from Hannaford Market...
Thanks Mark Castonguay & Lori Hamilton!!

 AND a Full or Partial Scholarship Fund for anyone, from an anonymous donor! 
Grant Recipient
In 2012, I put together a grant proposal with Holly Miller and Linda Zeigler, and in 2013, the program received a mini-grant from the Maine Cancer Consortium to go out into the community served by Pen Bay Healthcare to teach 10 Food for Life classes, at no cost to anyone! Another wish come true from the universe! In the four years we have run this program in Knox and Waldo counties, over 500 persons have attended and learned of the tremendous power for prevention we have through our diet and lifestyle choices and the POWER OF OUR PLATES! 
PCRM's Power Plate
I have had many fabulous volunteers helping me with these classes over the years, and I send a special SHOUT OUT!! to all of them, however some of you rolled up your sleeves more than once in the FFL kitchen: Marie Keene, Cathy Harrell, Martha Meyer, Dawn Harlor, Donna Ames, Linda Z. and Wendelanne A. Thanks! This post is for all of you too!

Karen Q at the sink, cleaning up faster than a locomotive! 
 In the last two years, I have had a really special, dedicated, FFL Alumnae herself, as a super-powered volunteer, whizzing through dirty dishes and setting up trays faster than the speed of light! :-) Karen Quinn, thanks for making the program what it is today, a well-oiled, oops, NO oil, a smooth-running machine!!

Ok, I'm getting all verklempt again so I will leave it at this. THANKS Pen Bay Healthcare, THANKS Team Picker Center, THANKS Universe, THANKS Volunteers, Hannaford, MCC, Anonymous Donor...Thank you, thank you, thank you all and Thank you Participants who came to the classes!! Here's to four more!! YAY!

Thank You sign on the Pen Bay Campus
I have decided to share some of the recipes we demo in our first class. Please try these at home! Let me know how you like them!

Easy Bean Salad photo courtesy of istockphoto
Recipes courtesy PCRM and Food for Life