Friday, October 31, 2014

Life and Death of a Bridge

I really enjoyed this beautiful video about the struggle in Los Angeles to save our past.  Directed and edited by my lifelong friend Derrick Deblasis, I’d like to think his Tom Explores Los Angeles series is beginning to build a culture around appreciating our history -- at long last.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Making California Buckwheat Pancakes

California Buckwheat has long been a staple food plant for native Californians.  I first learned of its use while a student in Christopher Nyerges’s Survival Skills class at Pasadena City College, and have been curious about cooking with this abundant native plant ever since.

The pink and white flowers produced in the spring begin to turn a nice rust-brown color this time of year, and may be gathered and mixed with wheat flour to create bread, porridge, or one of my favorite breakfast dishes which I created this morning -- pancakes!

The first step in using buckwheat as flour is separating the dried seed heads from the stems.  This process was easily accomplished with the help of a rolling pin.  I simply ground down the buckwheat, and then picked out the stems.  California Buckwheat was a favorite staple of the elderly back in the old days, as the seeds required minimal processing and were easy to eat.

The flavor of California Buckwheat can be somewhat creamy, with a woody coarseness reminiscent of sawdust.  It’s not a bad flavor, and the coarseness was definitely diminished by grinding it down.  I added about 1/4 a ratio of buckwheat flour to 3/4 whole wheat flour in order to enjoy the flavor of the buckwheat without being overwhelmed by it.  

The whole wheat flour also helps to keep the pancakes together while cooking.  If someday the sh*t hit the fan and food was not readily available, knowledge of California Buckwheat could go a long way toward stretching out and even doubling depleted rations of flour!

The pancake batter looked lovely, and the pancakes turned out great!  The ratio of buckwheat to whole wheat flour was the perfect amount, and I loved the specks of California Buckwheat that were cooked into the pancakes.

The distinctive California Buckwheat flavor is perfectly complimented with some butter or coconut oil, maple syrup or local honey, and fresh berries on top.  

My white-sage enhanced green tea combined with these California Buckwheat pancakes to create the perfect native California breakfast -- a simple and satisfying way to connect myself physically and spiritually with the land I call home. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Christopher Nyerges speaks with Tim Martinez about Cottonwood Canyon

I was happy to run into renowned survival skills and wild foods instructor Christopher Nyerges near Cottonwood Canyon recently.  Christopher is an author and the co-founder of the School of Self Reliance, and I have learned much from him over the years.  It was fun talking to him, showing him the canyon the Arroyos & Foothills Conservancy is working to save, and having a drink straight from Yocum Spring!

*One minor correction needs to be made.  I should have said that the Yocum family drilled horizontal shafts into the hillsides.  Not vertical.