Author Archives: lenapietri


Start with a good quality SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast) also referred to as the “mother”. The scoby transforms sweet tea into kombucha. (It took me a while to be able to handle it without being squeamish; but once I realized the delicious power “she” holds I have been handling my mother and passing on her babies regularly.) I acquired mine from a friend and have been passing on scobys as my mother divides. Use white vinegar to to wash your hands and utensils. Never use bleach or soap/detergent when washing your hands and utensils to prepare the kombucha or handle the scoby, these will kill the beneficial bacteria and yeast. Use glass, ceramic, plastic and wood utensils; no metal.

Below is a recipe that uses 4 cups of sweet tea. Adjust based on your rate of consumption and available containers for brewing. Simply divide/multiply as needed.

1/2 (+) gallon glass jar*
scoby with at least 1 cup of the starter tea from a previous batch
4 cups water; boiling
4 black tea bags (I recommend organic)
1/2 cup sugar (I recommend organic)
coffee filter

Pour 4 cups boiling water over 4 tea bags and allow to cool to room temperature. Remove the tea bags, add 1/2 cup of sugar and stir with a wooden or plastic spoon to dissolve. Place the scoby and the starter tea from a previous brew into the brewing jar*. Tip the jar and pour the sweet tea carefully along the interior edge of the jar so as to disturb the scoby as little as possible. Secure a coffee filter** to cover the jar (the scoby needs to breathe) with a rubber band and place out of direct sunlight but not in a closet/cabinet.

The average brew time is 7 days but it can vary depending on the scoby, temperature of the brewing space and how you like your kombucha (slightly sweet or more tangy). Taste test using a pipette; carefully insert a straw into the brewing kombucha, cover the top of the straw with a finger, withdraw the straw, hold the straw over a glass and lift the finger to release the kombucha for tasting.

When you are ready to stop the kombucha from brewing pour it into a large jar or individual bottles to be placed into the refrigerator. Pour slowly so the scoby is disturbed as little as possible. Use a plastic or glass funnel, no metal, if transferring into bottles. Leave 1 cup of the starter tea in the brewing jar and start the next batch with the above directions.

*a glass or ceramic bowl can also be used.
**a kitchen towel secured with a cord can be used to secure over the bowl.



Vegan “Goulash”

A classic Hungarian meat stew was the inspiration for this vegan dish.
IMG_383424 oz crimini mushrooms; washed and cut into bite size pieces
4 Tablespoons canola oil
1 onion; chopped
1 sweet pepper; chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3 tomatoes; chopped
1 garlic clove; crushed
2 potatoes; scrubbed and cut into 1/2″ cubes
1 15.5 oz can red kidney beans
1 Tablespoon paprika
1(+) cup water
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

optional sour cream

Preheat a large heavy bottomed soup pot over medium heat. Add mushrooms, cover and cook until the moisture in the mushrooms cooks out. Remove the lid and continue to cook until the water simmers/evaporates off. Add the oil, onion, pepper and sea salt. Stir and cover to saute (stirring occasionally) until the vegetables are soft (about 5 minutes). Add the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes until the potatoes are soft. Traditionally the stew is served with a dollop of sour cream in each bowl and good quality bread.

Gluten and Dairy Free Breakfast Cake


1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup maple syrup (reduce to 1/4 cup if using apple or pear sauce)
2 eggs
1 cup quince sauce (or apple or pear sauce)
1/4 cup cold strong coffee
2 cups oat flour (I grind my own in a coffee mill specifically for gluten free grains)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
dash ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch sea salt
1 cup raisins (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Oil an 8×8″ glass baking pan.

Beat canola oil and maple syrup till well combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Add quince (or other fruit) sauce and coffee and combine well. Add oat flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, salt and optional raisins and mix well. Pour into prepared baking pan and bake for 30-40 minutes (or until completely set, gently shake pan and watch for the “jiggle” in the center).

Remove from oven, cool and enjoy!

Balti Curried Eggplant

IMG_3382oil for roasting pan
2 eggplant; stem end removed, cut into 1″x3″ sections
2 Tablespoons coconut oil
1 onion; chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 stalk celery; chopped
1 carrot; chopped
3 cloves garlic; crushed
1 inch piece fresh ginger root; minced
1 Tablespoon balti seasoning 
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 cup crushed tomatoes

(1 1/2 cups basmati rice; soaked and cooked)

Preheat oven to 350. Oil a large cast iron skillet or baking pan. Arrange eggplant in a single layer on the skillet/pan and roast for 30-45 minutes; until soft and beginning to get golden.

Meanwhile, preheat a large pot over medium-low heat. Add coconut oil, onion and salt. Cover and saute 5 minutes. Add celery, carrot, garlic and ginger; stir, cover and saute 5 minutes. Add the balti seasoning, turmeric and 1/4 cup water, stir and saute 5 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes stir and remove from heat until the eggplant is done.

Add the roasted eggplant and enough water to barely cover the eggplant, stir, cover and simmer several hours on very low heat.

I served this over basmati rice with a cucumber salad (see below) and a chop salad. Have hot pepper flakes on the side for those that want it spicy and salt and pepper to taste.

Cucumber Salad
1 cucumber; thinly sliced into circles
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
pinch white pepper
2 Tablespoons fresh pressed lemon juice

Combine all ingredients, toss and set aside for 5 minutes. Toss and set aside for another 5 and repeat a few times. The salt will remove some water from the cucumbers and they will also be coated nicely with the tang of the lemon.

Rhubarb Crisp a la Mode

IMG_3259Rhubarb is among the first vegetables to be harvested in the spring; out of the garden and onto the dessert table. It is my tradition to serve rhubarb crisp during memorial day weekend for our family get together. This recipe is simple, allowing the rhubarb to take center stage. I recommend to enjoy it with vanilla ice cream (or your favorite dairy free option).

5 stalks rhubarb (about 5 cups)
5 Tablespoons sugar

3/4 cup flour (I use King Arthur’s “measure for measure” gluten-free flour)
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
7 Tablespoons salted butter

Preheat oven to 375. Wash rhubarb stalks and cut into 1/2 inch rounds. Toss with sugar and pour into an 8″ x 8″ glass pan. Mix flour and brown sugar in a medium bowl with shallow sides, add the butter and mix with a pastry blender/cutter until small pea sized pieces of butter and flour are formed. Pour over rhubarb and bake till the top is just golden and the filling is bubbly, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven and serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Zucchini Fries/Sticks

No matter what you call them; zucchini fries or zucchini sticks these are out of the garden, baked and so good!
image1 large/2 small zucchini
1 1/2 cups flour (I used gluten free chickpea flour)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups finely shredded Parmesan or Romano cheese
2 cups bread crumbs (I used gluten free)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper flakes
1 Tablespoon dried oregano

Place 2 cookie racks inside 2 separate baking sheets and lightly brush or spray with extra virgin olive or canola oil to coat.

In a medium bowl combine the flour and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt.
In another medium bowl beat the eggs.
In a medium/large bowl combine the cheese, bread crumbs and spices.
Cut the zucchini into roughly 3″ lengths and then into 1/4-1/3″ sticks.
Coat a handful of the zucchini sticks in the flour mixture (I usually just toss with my fingers) then coat in the beaten egg (I use a fork to flip and rotate around) and finally toss in the cheese and bread crumb mixture (I use a fork to flip and rotate around). Place the zucchini sticks on the prepared cookie racks making sure they are not touching. Continue this process until the racks in the pans are full. When the second pan is half full, preheat the oven to 450.

Bake the zucchini sticks for 15-20 minutes, until they are golden brown. I served the sticks with ketchup and an avocado cut inside the skin and filled with salmon salad.

Romaine Lettuce Wraps with Turmeric Eggs

With the farmers market in full swing I develop new recipes using what is in season (or what on hand in the refrigerator and the garden).
1/2 onion; chopped
2 Tablespoons canola oil
1/3 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
3 eggs; beaten
4-6 romaine lettuce leaves (depending on the size)
4-6 slices of Jarlsberg (or your choice) cheese
optional slice of “German Bread” toasted and buttered

Preheat a medium sized pan over medium-low heat. Add oil, onion and sprinkle with the salt. Cover and allow to simmer for 2 minutes. Meanwhile, rinse and pat dry the lettuce leaves. Add the turmeric and black pepper, stir, cover and simmer an additional 2 minutes. Meanwhile, place a slice of cheese on the center of each leaf. Add the beaten eggs to the spiced onions and stir occasionally while cooking as you would for scrambled eggs (stir the eggs as they begin to solidify; continue to stir occasionally so the eggs cook/solidify; once there is no more raw egg they are done). Spoon the egg mixture on top of the cheese lined lettuce leaves, fold the leaf around the filling, lift, bite and enjoy.