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105degrees, L2/W1/D1: kombucha, citrus-fennel salad

November 29, 2010

Hello, my pretties! I am back in my second home (this here hotel in Oklahoma City), and I just finished my first day of Level II at the 105degrees Academy. It doesn’t feel at all strange to return; in fact, I was back in my groove the second I walked in the door. L2 is a night class, from 3-9pm (which is why you’ll see I’m posting later in the evening than I did last month). I’m one of four students, but get this—I am the only one that’s completed Level I. How is this possible? The other three are doing doubles—i.e., L1 and L2 simultaneously. This means those poor souls will be in the kitchen from 8am to 9pm every day this month (including Saturdays, since the classes are slightly accelerated thanks to the holidays)! Looks like I’ll be the only well-rested member of the bunch.

So anyway: today. First, our Level II instructor Haylee broke out the kombucha!

We sampled some of this already-brewed batch.

Here’s the “mother” (bottom left) and the SCOBY (or Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast, top right), the keys to fermenting kombucha. We each cut off a chunk of SCOBY to start our own batches.

Since we’re only making a quart apiece to start with, this’ll be done with its first fermentation cycle in about a week.

We hacked some coconuts after that.

We colored some of our coconut purée pink and green.

Using a method similar to the kimchee-cashew dumplings in Level I, we formed our wrappers.

I call this one “1970’s Lampshade Meets Happy Bleeding Hearts.” We’ll see how these dots turn out once the wrap is dehydrated.

I’m calling my second one “Preschooler’s Art Project.”

Here’s my mise en place for our one fully-composed dish of the day…

…a citrus-fennel salad with orange, grapefruit, and avocado, dressed with macadamia nut oil and lime juice.

Raw food has opened me up to actually enjoying citrus fruits…sometimes. Luckily, this was one of those times.

I layered my salad with a ring mold before topping it with a fanned avocado half and some whole macnuts.

I used my favorite plating trick: adding a garnish that reflects the contents of the dish (like I did with my lasagna and crêpes).

Even though I ate (and more or less liked) the fennel and the citrus fruits, I was really in it for the avocado and macadamias. YUM.

Gorgeous colors like these breathed springy life into an otherwise chilly night.

It’s so nice to be back.

36 Comments leave one →
  1. November 29, 2010 11:00 pm

    It’s so nice to have you back! 🙂 Wow you guys have really hit the ground running, but best to get stuck straight in right? Your plating is getting really great and the salad you made is right up my alley. I think those combinations of flavours would be really fresh but the avocado and mac nuts give it some depth and sticking power. Welcome back gorgeous.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      December 1, 2010 1:53 pm

      Aw, thank you dear! We certainly did jump right into the thick of things. Re: the salad, I agree with you, the avocado is what made it a meal!

  2. November 29, 2010 11:17 pm

    Ooh kombucha! We were just bottling ours a few minutes ago. Have fun with that.

    That’s pretty crazy some people are doing BOTH. But makes sense for time away from home, etc. There’s no way my body could handle that schedule.

    Your plating is so pretty and love all the colors of everything.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      December 1, 2010 1:54 pm

      I don’t think I could handle doing doubles either. That barely leaves time for good night’s sleep, let alone personal time, workout time, relaxation time…

  3. November 30, 2010 5:38 am

    Oooh, if you like macadamias, you’ll hopefully like a post I have coming up! 😉 But away from me…. that second wrap you’re makign is far more Jackson Pollock than preschool art! Also, what does cacao butter taste like plain? I’ve just started seeing it at health stores and am tempted, but think I want to experiment with coconut butter first 🙂

    So glad to see your enthusiasm is still strong, too! Yay Amber for 105 Queen!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      December 1, 2010 1:55 pm

      LOVE macnuts! Can’t wait to see your post 😀

      I was actually going to call that second wrap “Jackson Pollack,” but when I think of his art, I imagine splatters more so than drizzles. But I’m nitpicky like that.

      Coconut oil & butter and cacao butter are ALL worth your experimentation! But one at a time makes sense 🙂

  4. November 30, 2010 6:21 am

    I love the lampshade design. I can’t wait to see how it turns out once dehydrated.

    I go in phases with citrus – but when it’s ridiculously cold out it sure can brighten a day!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      December 1, 2010 1:56 pm

      I have to imagine the festive colors helped me appreciate the citrus in this salad 🙂

  5. November 30, 2010 7:00 am

    Wow those macnuts are HUGE!

    Yes, see, ever since I saw and read and found out what a SCOBY is, I have not touched Kombucha. It really grossed me out seriously. I would drink Synergy, I believe that is the name, but now I cannot touch it. Boo. Maybe someday I will go back.

    Nice to have you back! 🙂

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      December 1, 2010 1:57 pm

      Aw, I hear ya on the SCOBY! It is pretty disgusting-looking. Luckily, I’m not easily grossed out. The carbonation of kombucha is actually what stops me from drinking it more often…it’s one reason I never drank pop!

  6. Diane permalink
    November 30, 2010 7:15 am

    Hi Amber,

    Glad to hear and see you are enjoying Level II. Your salad looked beautiful. Can’t wait to see how the coconut-wrapped art projects turn out. I miss everyone from Level I and look forward to seeing all the things you’ll be learning.

    I got hooked on Kombucha once I got home, thanks to Bernardo & Young. 🙂

    Take care.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      December 1, 2010 1:58 pm

      Hi Diane! It’s great to hear from you! We hit the ground running in Level II, and I’m already enjoying myself immensely.

      I’m not surprised they hooked you on the kombucha 😉 Stay well, and keep in touch!

  7. Matt permalink
    November 30, 2010 7:54 am

    That citrus dish looks like something I might enjoy. Love how great your food looks every time. Interested to see how the hearts turn out. Glad it’s been a smooth transition, honey. Smooches!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      December 1, 2010 1:59 pm

      You very well might! Thanks, lover 😀

  8. November 30, 2010 8:34 am

    Cool, I think I’d like to try making homemade kombucha someday now that I’ve realized I love it! Your citrus salad is so colorful and beautiful, I’d be all over that.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      December 1, 2010 2:00 pm

      I think I’d like to give kombucha-making a go once I get home as well. Perhaps I’ll do a post on it!

  9. November 30, 2010 2:23 pm

    I love kombucha, but I found out the hard way that I can’t keep it alive. Dead and moldy and I have no idea why. I washed my hands, kept in the dark, etc. :S Oh well.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      December 1, 2010 2:00 pm

      Hmm, I wonder what happened. Did you ever allow anything metal (like a spoon) to touch it once the SCOBY was in that? Apparently that’s really bad.

  10. November 30, 2010 3:38 pm

    Congrats on level 2! I feel sorry for the one who is doing level one and 2 at the same time. I can’t imagine being in the kitchen for that long!
    I’ve never had kombucha, so I’m a little clueless there.
    Oh…I love the preschool art. :o)
    That citrus salad looks yummy!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      December 1, 2010 2:02 pm

      I kinda feel sorry for them too! They seem to be doing alright with it so far, though; they knew what they were getting into.

      I’m a somewhat-recent kombucha convert myself. Pick some up the next time you’re at WF…it almost tastes like a fruity, lightly carbonated pop.

  11. November 30, 2010 8:15 pm

    So excited for you!! Do you still have the same spot in the kitchen?
    Sending you love 🙂

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      December 1, 2010 2:03 pm

      No, I lost my spot =/ I was wondering if they’d keep me there, but I forgot to ask Haylee or Megan before leaving after Level I. No big deal, though, I’m just one spot down now in Comenius’s area. 🙂

  12. November 30, 2010 8:51 pm

    Love the presentation of the citrus fennel salad. And congrats on being savvy and taking Level 1 BEFORE level 2…I couldn’t imagine how exhausting it must be to go from 8am to 9pm!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      December 1, 2010 2:03 pm

      Me neither! I’m glad I never have to find out =X

  13. November 30, 2010 9:58 pm

    I love kombucha! I need to get a SCOBY so I can brew it myself. I had one once, but I forgot about it under the sink. I didn’t know I could save it so I threw it away. 😦

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      December 1, 2010 2:04 pm

      Aw, poor little dead SCOBY! 😛

  14. November 30, 2010 11:46 pm

    Wow – 8am-9pm! I guess I’ve done hours like that when I’ve worked as a chef, so maybe it’s good preparation, but with all that info overload, sounds totally crazy.

    Kombucha – was just making some myself today. Thinking of you back into that swing. Hope it goes well – what are you going to do with your days prior to class? I do hope you stay well-rested.


    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      December 1, 2010 2:06 pm

      EXACTLY; the information overload would be as big of a problem for me as the 13 straight hours on my feet.

      I’m still sort of test-driving this schedule, but so far I’ve been getting up around 10:30, working on blog stuff, going to the gym, working on more blog stuff, going to class, coming home and doing MORE blog stuff, and then getting to bed around 1am. I’m still tweaking (I’m not used to having my important activities happen this late in the day), but I think I’ll be adjusted within the week.

  15. December 1, 2010 7:38 pm

    We have just recently started brewing our own kombucha. My husband drinks it religiously, me not so much I guess that I can tell healthy benefits from it. Do you notice benefits from it? My husband cut his hand and gives credit to Kombucha for it healing really quickly.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      December 1, 2010 9:55 pm

      It wasn’t too long ago that I started drinking it myself, and I must admit I don’t yet drink it regularly. I have heard of numerous positive health benefits from it, though, so who knows, your husband may be right! One thing’s for sure: whether or not it HELPS anything, it sure doesn’t HURT anything, and it tastes great to boot.

  16. December 1, 2010 8:57 pm

    Glad you’re adjusting to your different schedule.

    Also glad you were able to get right back into it.
    Your wrap yesterday looked awesome, sooo colorful.
    Neat new books too!!
    Have fun.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      December 1, 2010 9:39 pm

      Yep, the new schedule hasn’t been too bad.

  17. Julia permalink
    December 3, 2010 12:05 am

    I have oranges…I have grapefruit…I have avocados…I have macademia nuts… just need to get macademia oil (where do I get that? SuperTarget? health food store?)… what’s the recipe?? Looks yummy & I would never have thought to combine those flavors!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      December 3, 2010 10:20 am

      A health food store should usually have macnut oil, but you can easily sub in olive oil if it’s what you have! I can’t give you an exact recipe (that belongs to 105degrees), but to make this at home, try whisking together 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil with a tablespoon or so of your favorite wine vinegar. Season with salt to taste, and ta-da!

  18. December 11, 2010 8:17 pm

    How did the kombucha turn out?
    For the longest time I didnt understand what all the hype was about…but just recently…Ive become HOOKED!!!!
    Gingerade is my fave right now…just wish it wasn’t so pricey!! this addiction is starting to hurt my wallet hahah
    did you guys flavor your batches?

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      December 12, 2010 3:56 pm

      Actually, we’re STILL brewing it! This is gonna be some strong stuff, heh. I think we’re going to add flavor to it at the end.

      I’m not AS big of a kombucha fan as a lot of people are, but I have been liking it more and more. I prefer it to not be TOO fizzy – then it reminds me too much of pop, and carbonation is one of the things that’s always made me hate pop.

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