Sunday, August 02, 2009

Internship Opportunity

Hello Dear Friends,

Tina Brackins is leading up the kitchen at the Amala Foundation's Global Youth Peace Summit and would love some some macro company! This is a great opportunity to gain internship hours, work with a service-oriented community, international youth, and to enjoy a natural setting as well.

About Global Youth Peace Summit:GYPS is a week long camp for international and American youth. Teens are taught community, leadership, and non-violent communication skills at a rural camp outside of Wimberly, TX.

More info on the summit: the Amala Foundation:

NE Internship hours or Assisting Hours Credit:

Hours are available August 1-6 helping coordinate food donationsand/or in the kitchen August 7-16. Shifts available are breakfast (for 100), or dinner (for about 60). Meals will be vegan and macro-based (good minerals!) You would be in the kitchen with Tina Brackins and at least 2 other volunteers. You are welcome to come for anywhere from 1 or 2 days to all week. Volunteers housed in a community cabin, are fed 3 meals daily and have access to the camp for swimming, hiking, etc.

Please call Tina if you have questions or would like to help out. Amala is having an informational meeting next week also.

Many thanks,
Tina Brackins

Friday, July 17, 2009

Need Inspiration for your Internship?

Senior student Naomi Perryman is set to graduate this fall. I would like to share a written account of her community involvement these past two years while attending The Natural Epicurean. Naomi is a true inspiration! She is preparing to take a tour of the Northeast and hopefully she will keep us posted on new projects. We will miss you!

Internship at Hands of the Earth Farm
My internship began May 1, 2008 and will end on August 5, 2009. Throughout the internship I camped on the farm and received a small weekly stipend in exchange for an average of 40 hours of work a week. Working at HOTE gave me the firsthand experience of growing organic vegetables, maintaining a CSA program, and selling homegrown produce at the Sustainable Food Center’s farmer’s markets. During the extent of my internship I also got lots of experience teaching different skills involved with organic hand farming to volunteers and fellow employees, which further cemented my knowledge. HOTE also introduced me to many amazing people and the Urban Roots program.

If you have the desire to work at an organic farm it is not hard to do. I started by googling “organic farm internships” which pulled up a very helpful website- - in which I was able to sort through farms by geographic region. It is possible to work on farms all over the world by joining WWOOF or by directly contacting farms. I would recommend choosing a place according to your preferred climate, especially if you’re considering becoming a full time farmer yourself. Marysol Valle, my friend and employer at HOTE, may possibly be seeking interns in the future. Her website is, where you can find her contact info and updates on the farm.

Another cool thing that I’ve learned about while farming is CSA, which stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Many small organic farmers choose to do CSA, in which a person can become a member by purchasing a season’s worth of produce up front, thus providing the farmer with the capital to buy seeds and supplies for the vegetables in which the member will soon partake. Joining a CSA ensures that you get the freshest and most local food available and that you have a connection to the source of your food. Eating according to what is available seasonally and locally challenges your cooking creativity and is very rewarding. If you’re interested in becoming a CSA member you can search the Internet for available farms or talk directly to farmers at the Austin farmer’s markets.

The SFC Farmer’s Market at the Triangle

While working at HOTE I have worked this farmer’s market, which is sponsored and run by the Sustainable Food Center, probably 40-50 times. This involves transporting all of the goods from the farm to The Triangle, setting up the farm booth and creating an appetizing display of vegetables, helping customers and answering questions, and then packing everything back up into the truck and heading home.

This market is held on Wednesdays the whole year round except during extreme weather. It is located in the park at the center of a triangle shaped group of condos and businesses where Guadalupe St. meets Lamar Blvd. In summer the market runs from 4pm to 8pm, and at some point in the fall it switches to 3pm-7pm to account for the shorter, colder days. There are a variety of vendors selling vegetables, prepared food and snacks, bread, honey, meat, milk, cheese, eggs, coffee, tea, and fruit, and usually there’s live music. This is a major hot spot for families, kids, and dogs. Farmer’s markets are a great way to meet local farmers and artisans and ask questions about their arts. You can get the low down on all the SFC Farmer’s Markets and check out volunteer opportunities at They’ve got lots of great stuff going on throughout the Austin area.

SFC Farmer’s Market at Republic Square Park
This market is similar to the Triangle market except much bigger and more bustling. It is held every Saturday from 8am-12pm, weather permitting. In spring, winter, and fall it runs from 9am-1pm. I’ve worked around 10-15 of these markets all told. Vendors include the usual suspects times ten, plus those selling pastries, t-shirts, potted plants and ceramics. This is another great way to revel in the Austin community of farmers and small business owners.

WIC Farmer’s Market by the SFC
Another program that the SFC set up is weekly farmer’s markets that are held at various WIC offices and recreation centers throughout Austin. WIC stands for “Women Infants Children” and is a state-funded non-profit organization that offers financial assistance with the purchase of certain WIC approved foods and various services to low-income women who are pregnant or have children. Only one farmer is present at each market because there is such a limited amount of customers. The SFC organizes when and where and who. Farmers accept WIC vouchers, food stamps, checks, or cash at these markets, and are often known to mark down their prices to accommodate their customers. Personally I’ve only worked one of these markets, which was 2 hours long. It was cool to talk to the employees at WIC who drifted by and I got to practice speaking Spanish. If you’re interested in WIC check out

Urban Roots Volunteer Crew Leader
An offshoot of Youth Launch, Urban Roots is a non-profit organization that teaches leadership skills, community involvement and social justice to high school aged folks through the medium of organic farm internship, activities, field trips and community service. Mike Evans and Max Elliot, the two main supervisors, are both immensely talented in the fields of teaching and farming. Participants must apply, do an interview, and be specially selected to become involved. Each year there are more applicants than there are spaces available. Interns are paid for all of their work and receive a bi-weekly paycheck. This year 18 interns were hired, including 3 that were rehired from the previous year (also the first year of the program) to expand their individual leadership skills by each directing a team of new interns. Urban Roots’ garden occupies a portion of Hands of the Earth Farm while in session from February to mid-August. There are plans for U.R. to expand their operation over the entire farm starting in January of 2010.

As a VCL with Urban Roots I volunteered for 11 weeks of the spring on Saturdays from 8:30am to 12:30 pm. My job was to work with Vivian, one of the ACLs, and her crew of interns, to support her while she stretched her leadership muscles. This gave me the opportunity to be more closely connected with the Urban Roots program and people, which was an immense pleasure. UR brings so much laughter, enthusiasm, and inspiration to the farm, and the transformation that each intern undergoes as they become more confident with the tasks of farming and the less tangible skills imparted by Mike and Max is amazing and moving to witness.

Urban Roots Community Volunteer Days
These are held on various Saturdays throughout the summer season, and usually involve a group of people who may or may not know each other coming out to the farm from within a particular community, such as Whole Foods employees or paralegals. During Community Volunteer Days, first year interns take turns testing their public speaking and leadership skills by directing a team of volunteers, demonstrating farming techniques and guiding them through fieldwork all morning. Volunteers and Interns play team-building games together and are encouraged to discuss their ideas and experiences with each other while they work. By lunch time the farm is much improved from all the extra care and everyone is tired and satisfied. I volunteered at two of these Community Days and would recommend them to anyone who craves a firsthand experience with farming and/or is excited by the amazing things UR is accomplishing. To learn about volunteer opportunities and read more about the program check out You can also request to be placed on a mailing list to receive notices about Community Volunteer Days or other UR events. You can also check out Urban Roots at their booth at the Farmer’s Market on Saturdays at Republic Square Park throughout the summer until mid-August.

By Naomi Perryman

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Graduate Maria Rios presents Enchiladas Potosinas

Join us every second Wednesday of the month for a free cooking demonstration and lecture at Casa de Luz.
Culinary Program students are required to take a favorite recipe or dish, analyze it based on the Five Transformation Theory, make it healthier, and then present their converted dish to the public. This demonstration is a timed test and the physical culmination of their Culinary Program experience.

Congratualtions Maria and best wishes on more delicious creations!

Enchiladas Potosinas
By Maria Elena Rios
Natural Epicurean Graduate 2009

Red Sauce
Step 1
1 medium organic Kabocha Squash
1 medium organic rutabaga, quartered
1 small organic red beet
2 organic carrots, peeled and cut in large chunks
1 TBS unrefined sea salt, SI recommended

Step 2
1 large organic onion, diced
1 tsp unrefined sea salt
4-6 cloves organic garlic, minced
1 TBS organic expeller pressed sesame oil
2 tsp of cumin
4 tsp Mexican Oregano
4 TBS of umeboshi vinegar

Step 1
Place the vegetables in the pressure cooker and add water to half the height of the vegetables.

Add salt and cover pressure cooker, bring up to pressure, and cook for 15, minutes.

Remove from heat and let pressure come down. Pour cooked vegetables and broth into a large bowl to cool. When cool, puree vegetables and broth in a food processor or blender. (Do not blend when the vegetables are hot.) Add salt to taste.

Step 2
Warm the sesame oil over a low flame in a large pot. Saute garlic to season the oil. Add the onion. Add enough salt to season the onions well. Keep in mind the overall saltiness of the puree and onions combined. (If too salty, you can adjust later.) Add the herbs to the onion and saute briefly over a medium flame. Add the vegetable puree to the onions and herbs. Cover and bring to a simmer. Do not overcook or the red color will disappear. Add umeboshi vinegar and stir. (If the sauce is too salty, you can use less umeboshi vinegar or substitute rice vinegar.) Set aside.

Enchilada Stuffing
Step 1
Tofu Mayonnaise Recipe
12 ounces organic firm tofu, Mori Nu Brand
½ tsp organic prepared mustard (whole grain or Dijon)
1 tsp organic brown rice vinegar
1 tsp organic lemon juice
¼ cup organic cold-pressed, extra virgin olive oil, or less to reach desired consistency
1 TBS umeboshi vinegar
¾ cup safflower oil or less to reach desired consistency

Step 2
1 ½ lb organic firm tofu, pressed
2 TBS organic unpasteurized white miso
½ cup Tofu Mayonnaise
Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 TBS)
3 leaves of organic kale
4 organic scallions, cut into diamond shape

Step 1
In a blender, puree tofu until smooth. Add seasoning and puree. Leave the food processor running slowly and pour oil down shoot until thoroughly incorporated. Adjust seasonings to taste. Set aside.

Step 2
Remove stems from kale and cut into small pieces. Soak the leaves in water to remove dirt. Shred leaves finely.

Bring small pot of water to a rolling boil. Quickly blanch kale. Allow to cool. Squeeze out excess water.

Mash tofu in bowl. Add miso, tofu mayonnaise, and lemon juice. Add kale stems, leaves, and scallions. Set aside.

Garnish for Enchiladas
Step 1
½ lb of organic green beans, ends trimmed
2 lb of organic carrots, cut into thick matchsticks
1 organic cauliflower, cut into floret size
3 leaves of lettuce, cut into rings
1 daikon, finely grated or cut

Step 2
Cilantro Green Goddess Dressing
½ pkg Silken firm tofu
2 scallions, chopped
2 tsp rinsed capers
2 TBS organic fresh lemon juice
½ cup of organic fresh parsley, chopped
¼ cup of organic fresh cilantro, chopped
1 TBS of agave nectar
¼ cup of apple cider vinegar
1 clove
1 tsp of vegetarian worsthershire sauce
1 tsp prepared mustard
1 TBS daikon, minced

Step 1
In boiling water, quickly blanch the beans, carrots, and cauliflower. Be sure not to overcook the vegetables. Set aside to cool.

Cut the lettuce in ring and place in cool water. Set aside.

Pickle the daikon in a little bit of salt. Massage salt until water is released. Set aside.

Step 2
In a blender, combine all the dressing ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy. Set aside.

Assembly of the Enchiladas Potosinas

24 organic corn tortillas
Prepared Red Sauce
Prepared Filling
Blanched Vegetables
Lettuce Rings
Pickled Daikon
Cilantro Green Goddess Dressing

Brush all the tortillas with the safflower oil. In a hot frying pan, place 3 at a time to heat and soften. Dip the tortilla in the red sauce. Fill the tortilla with the prepared stuffing. Do this with all tortillas. Place in the oven to keep warm.

When ready to serve, place 2 at a time on a plate. Cover the lettuce, blanched vegetables, and drizzle cilantro green goddess dressing on top of the vegetables. Serve immediately and enjoy.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Macrobiotics and Miso

Miso Miso Miso!

Why does the Macrobiotic Diet seem to emphasis miso so much?

spent many years treating atomic bomb victims and Ito at Hiroshima University's Atomic Radioactivity Medical Laboratory. Dr. Ito found that when he fed Miso's health/medicinal benefits are vast. Perhaps one of the most famous miso stories is about a doctor named Shinichiro Akizuki at St. Francis Hospital in Nagasaki during WWII. Dr. Akizukideveloped a theory as to why he and the other medical staff never suffered from the radiation they were exposed to. Miso soup. The staff of the hospital drank it everyday. In 1989 this "miso soup" theory was supported by Dr. Akihiromiso to rats they were 100 to 200 percent less likely to become ill.

Some other healthy qualities of miso include:

  • It's high in iron, calcium, protein, potassium and B vitamins
  • Miso aids in digestion. A well-prepared miso soup will also enrich the intestinal flora of healthy bacteria and hence support immunity. You MUST NOT BOIL the miso to obtain these benefits. Simply simmer for a few minutes. This stops the fermentation process so that the miso will not produce gas in your stomach but keeps the healthy bacteria intact
  • Certain types of cancer (including prostate and breast) are less likely to occur in people who eat miso on a regular basis
  • It lowers both total blood cholesterol and heart friendly
  • Miso contains many powerful antioxidants
  • Since it's high in calcium, miso is a great dairy-free way to prevent osteoporosis
Note: To obtain these health benefits you must be sure you're buying high quality, traditionally made (not chemically produced) miso. When shopping be sure to look for phrases such as organic, traditionally made, naturally aged and be sure that sea salt listed as an ingredient instead of table salt.

Miso can be more than soup! Here are some sites that provide new ways to try out your miso:

Veggies with miso

Dressings, Dips
Even Miso Desserts!

To promote miso and The Natural Epicurean, we recently hosted a miso tasting here in Austin.

Samples included a brown rice, cucumber, avocado, spring onion sushi rolls that were dabbed with miso instead dipping them in soy sauce.

Our quaint but appetizing set up for the miso tasting.

Zucchini and summer squash steamed and grilled with miso.

We hope these health benefits and recipes will help you incorporate miso in your diet but if you should have any additional questions please feel free to email us!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Valentines Bake Sale Pictures

Thanks to everyone who came out for our Bake Sale and Valentines class this weekend. For those who couldn't make up I've got some pictures worth DROOLING over.

Chocolate Raspberry Crush Love Bites

Mint French Kissed Love Bites

Choco-coconut Bliss Love Bites

Carrot Pecan Love Muffins

Hope to see everyone at our next event!

Monday, February 09, 2009

Valentines Bake Sale!

I mentioned last post that we're having our annual bake sale this weekend. The menu is set and ready to be doled out unto the masses. Here we go!


Petits fours (gluten free) 3 flavors
: Chocolate Raspberry, Chocolate Cashew/Coconut, Chocolate Mint

Preview of the petits fours from a school potluck

Hello Dolly Bars
Carrot Pecan Cupcakes with a Cashew Cream Frosting (gluten free)

Cheesecake (gluten free) with your choice of 4 toppings: Chocolate Hazelnut, Blood Orange, Ginger Pineapple, and Blueberry

We're also adding a new savory item:

As always all items are VEGAN and handmade by students of the school. The sale is at our school located HERE.

Please feel free to stop by, say hi and pick up some treats on Saturday Feb 14th from 10am to 2pm or until we sell out!

Hope to see you there.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Valentines Aphrodisiacs Class

The Natural Epicurean is holding a speciality cooking class and bake sale on Saturday February the 14th!

When: February 14th, 9:00 am - 12:00 pm
Where: Casa de Luz - Cielo Room
Cost: $55.00 for a single attendee and only $27.50 for a friend or family member who enrolls and attends with you. $82.50 per couple.

According to The American Heritage Dictionary, "aphrodisiac" is defined as: adj: Arousing or intensifying sexual desire. noun: Something, such as a drug or food, having such an effect. [Greek aphrodisiakos, from aphrodisia, sexual pleasures, from Aphrodite.]

In this vegan and macrobiotic cooking class, we'll talk in detail about foods that are considered aphrodisiacs, but we'll also explain how presentation, ambiance, good health, and serving our partners affect our ability to arouse, to become aroused, and to fully enjoy this most delightful and precious part of our humanity. And then we'll cook and eat some delightful and sensual food.We explain that "love foods" can be divided into two categories: biochemical aphrodisiacs that have a direct physiological effect on our sex organs and the more important psychophysical group. (After all, there is no sexual organ more important than the mind.)You'll learn to cook a complete meal to delight your Valentine's Day sweetheart and then have the opportunity to taste this exceptional food.

The menu:

Artichokes with Lemon Butter
Porcini Mushroom Soup with Chestnuts
Tempeh Italiano and Toasted Pine Nuts over Seasonal Greens
Risotto Milanese (this is made with saffron)
Maple Roasted Winter Squash with Apples and Fennel
Chocolate Amaretto Mousse with Almond Tuile and Kumquats

After the class you can step outside and purchase some delightful vegan baked goods from our annual bake sale. More on what we'll be serving soon!