News From the War Room

This week we had a chance to cook for the owner of Common Ground, Chris Jaeb, and a few of our coworkers to demonstrate how we’re creatively using our  garden resource to cook simple, nourishing meals. We also took this opportunity to discuss plans for future projects that we believe will foster a progressive and innovative atmosphere at Common Ground.

As we work to live more practically and sustainably, we encounter many problems that can force us to make concessions that undermine our ideals. There are some aspects of our environment that we cannot control, whether it be financial constraints, familial responsibilities, or a lack of access to sustainable resources (you can’t support local farms if they don’t exist where you live!). Sustainability feels like an intimidating, nearly unattainable aspiration. For starters, we simply cannot produce everything we need to live day to day and are therefore forced to engage in an economy that runs on cheap fossil fuels. While we do get fresh vegetables from the garden and fruit from the orchards, we still find ourselves in the aisles of natural food stores purchasing the kitchen essentials we cannot produce; things like coconut oil, soap, toilet paper and laundry detergent. These things cost money and therefore we still need to hold regular jobs to support these needs. Financial obligation limits the amount of time and energy we can spend developing our sustainable practice.


We all talk about sustainability, but in many ways the meaning of this word has been compromised. Sustainability has become something of a marketing buzz word, like free-trade, organic and green. People who try to be conscious consumers reach for these labels, but often find they have been misled by clever marketing language (greenwashing) from companies that operate in the grey areas of the green movement. But since most businesses lack transparency there is no way for the average consumer to verify that an operation is truly sustainable; we can’t see their list of suppliers to verify that they are supporting local enterprises that treat their employees with respect and equity, we cannot witness their manufacturing process and know the true scope of its environmental impact. Even if transparency existed, many of us wouldn’t even have the time to individually verify the policies and products of every company we transact with. Though some might view this defeatist attitude as the problem, things are not as hopeless as they sound. We can arm ourselves with practical concepts to help us navigate the misinformation and make the best possible decisions given our individual circumstances.


At Common Ground, the goal is to create an infrastructure capable of serving and cultivating community; we’re excited to be a part of that community and look forward to making this vision of true sustainability a reality! Be sure to check out the Common Ground website! Thanks again to Chris, Tripp and Donna for including us in the ongoing dialogue!


See the recipes (and pictures) from our lunch below.





“I’m not sure what to do with my hands…”

The bounty.


And now, recipes from Chef Sky Maemura:


Baked Honey Miso Marinated Tofu, Coated with Shiitake Mushroom Powder & Snap Peas

Served with Pumpkin Seed, Kabocha Squash, & Dried Raisin Quinoa, Herb Pistu, and Topped with Ginger Scallion Soy Relish

Honey Miso Marinated Tofu, Coated with Shiitake Mushroom Powder & Snap Peas:

Firm Tofu Sliced into 2” x 3” cubes
3 TBSP honey
5 TBSP White Organic Miso
Dried Shiitake (1 handful)
Snap Pea Chips (1 handful)
Make the honey miso marinate by mixing the honey and miso together. Marinate the tofu with the honey miso for about an hour. Make the coating by adding the dried shiitake mushrooms, and the snap peas in a blender. Season the tofu with salt and pepper. Coat the tofu blocks with the shiitake and snap pea powder. Add to a baking sheet with olive oil and bake in a oven at 350 degrees for 7-10 minutes Serve on a bed of quinoa.

Herb Pistu:

1/5 cup tarragon herb
¼ cup parsley
¼ cup cilanto
¼ cup basil
¼ cup olive oil
1/8 cup ice water
Salt and Pepper


Gather all the herbs and put in a blender with the ice water. Blend until smooth (about 2 minutes). Slowly add olive and season with salt and pepper.


Ginger Scallion Soy Relish (acts as a garnish and pallet cleanser):

3 stalks of Scallions (bottom part only)
3 oz Ginger
3 TBSP Rice Wine Vinegar
3 TBSP Liquid Amino
2 TBSP Olive Oil
2 Tsp Sesame Seed Oil
3 TBSP Vegetable Broth
Coconut Palm Sugar (2 TBSP)
Hawaiian Spicy Chile (Nioi) (1)
Salt & Pepper
Sesame Seeds (1/4 handful)


Slice the scallions length wise, and slice the ginger lengthwise. Add all the ingredients to a bowl and mix thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper. Top tofu.

During our trial run, we baked thick pieces of tofu but thought the texture was a little too mushy. Cut it thinner and it will come out nice and crispy with twice as much shiitake breading.


Cabbage and Kale Green Mix Salad with Candied Oranges and Star fruit with Miso Ginger Papaya Dressing

Cabbage and Kale Green Mix Salad:

½ Napa Cabbage (sliced thin) (1/2 head)

½ Kale (sliced thin) (5 leaves)

Purple Basil (sliced thin) (1 handful)

Cilantro (left whole) (1 handful)

Sesame Seeds (1 handful)

Coconut Oil (3 TBSP)

Salt and Pepper (to taste)

Mix all ingredients thoroughly except for the candied fruit and place in a bowl. Garnish with the candied fruit.


Miso Ginger Papaya Dressing:

1 TBSP Chopped Ginger

¼ Crushed Garlic Clove

½ TBSP White Organic Miso

1 TBSP Coconut Palm Sugar

3 Coriander Seeds

2 Black Peppercorns

Pinch of Salt

4 TBSP Grapefruit Juice

¼ Cup Olive Oil

1 TBSP Sesame Seed Oil   

1/8 Cup Coconut Oil

Add all ingredients into a blender except for the oils and blend until smooth. Slowly add the oils. Season with salt if needed.


Candied Ginger Oranges:

1 Orange (sliced thin)

2 Cups Organic Cane Sugar

3 Cups Water

5 Thin Slices of Ginger

Boil water, ginger, and orange slices for 8 minutes (do this to get rid of the bitterness of the orange peel). Cool down the orange slices in ice water. Coat orange slices on both sides with sugar. Place on a baking sheet layered with foil. Spread a thin layer of olive oil on the foil. Place the orange slices on the baking sheet and bake off in the oven at 275 degrees until caramelized. Cool down until crisp.

Candied Starfruit:

1 Sliced Starfruit (remove seeds)

Coat starfruit slices in sugar. Place on baking sheet lined with foil and rubbed with olive oil. Bake off in the oven at 275 until caramelized. Cool down until crisp.

salad candied fruit


V’s Recipes:

Seedy Quinoa Salad:

Black Quinoa (Any grain will do)

Pepitas (Pumpkin Seeds)

Sesame Seeds


Cilantro (can use Parsley, Basil, Fennel, choose yo flava)


Dried Currants (can sub Raisins, Sliced Figs, Cranberries)


Citrus Juice and Zest (I like Orange, Lemon or Lime will work)


Sea Salt


Coconut Palm Sugar (or Honey, Yacon Syrup)


Curry Powder
This salad is awesome because most of the ingredients are easily substituted and it can be rockin’ with many different combinations of whatever is available.  The grain can be cooked or sprouted and used raw.  Today we used it as an attractive platform and complement for our tofu dish, but this is a super versatile addition to any meal.  This will keep through the next day very well, and is perfect to have available in the fridge for a between meal blood-sugar boost or as a take-with-you meal in itself.  I love that the grain can be cooked or sprouted and used raw, depending on what moves ya.  It’s the concept that works, having a grain base for sustained energy, seeds for texture and fatty goodness without added oil, citrus to brighten it up, dried fruit for sweetness and quick energy, and whatever herbs and spices you have around to give it a medicinal, well-rounded blast of nutrition.


Raw Chocolate Party in Your Mouth


Cacao Butter
Raw Cacao Powder or Paste
Coconut Palm Sugar
Vanilla Bean
Sea Salt
raw chocolate candied star fruit

I am certainly still perfecting the method for this chocolate, however, this particular batch turned out pretty radically.  The basic method, as I understand it, is to get a double-boiler situation happening, turning the heat on and off as necessary, as to not bring the chocolate temperature too high.  Test periodically by dripping a bit of chocolate on the back of your hand for a taste and temperature test.  First, melt the cacao butter, then add the paste or powder and stir consistently until assimilated and desired taste and texture is achieved.  Once you have arrived at your desired ratio, you can begin to make it your own with an endless list of ingredients.  I add the sweet next, until I get it as close as I can to what I want.  Here I used coconut palm sugar, which gives it a burnt caramel taste and and a bit of a grainy texture, which I really enjoy combined with the course sea salt.  Honey or any other sweetener works, as well.  Today I threw in some vanilla bean, cinnamon, and maca for round, earthy flavor; added bonus: cinnamon is a great blood-sugar stabilizer and maca is a magical hormone balancer, so, in the context of a chocolately treat, these ingredients are a dream team.  Pour into molds or a glass dish and throw in the freezer for rapid gratification.  You should have a palatable chocolate bar in about 20 minutes.  Keep in the fridge or freezer for best consistency…it doesn’t hold texture for too long at room temperature.  Not that it lasts that long…  Invite Johnny Depp disguised as some kind of river-pirate-lover, and you’ve got yourself a party…in and/or around your mouth…


Just love me,


sky vanessa cooking

You can’t see their shackles.

sushi raw vegan
raw vegan sushi
raw vegan sushi

Vegan sushi fresh from the garden!

plating raw vegan dinner
plating raw vegan dinner

The finishing touches.

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An adventurous accountant with a green thumb. Now the world is his cubicle.

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2 Responses to “News From the War Room”

  1. wendell

    have you tried to freeze tofu then upon thawing, compress to remove the water? This gives it a more dense, chewy texture which is good for frying or baking.



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