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Did any of you watch this season’s Food Revolution? I loved the show’s first season and found possibly even more to cheer for in the recently concluded second season. I’ll admit to tearing up in nearly every show this season at the thought of how big this problem really is: one in every three boys and two in every five girls born today will develop diabetes, a debilitating, expensive, deadly – and largely preventable – disease. I also just get upset watching children and families that have totally lost touch with where their food comes from and don’t know where to even begin to change their habits. If money were no object, I’d open up a kitchen just to teach people how to cook healthy, delicious and simple meals from beginning to end, which is a big part of why I put recipes on this blog – if I’ve learned how to love putting meals together out of fresh, local ingredients, then anybody can do it.

Despite my sappy review, if you didn’t catch the show, I would highly encourage you to watch the episodes online. Jamie’s a very likeable guy that cooks simple, delicious food in an approachable way. Join the Food Revolution, find some tasty and healthy recipes (I think we might try these kabobs this weekend), and get involved with campaigns (like the debacle that is flavored milk) in your area here!

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Once plants and animals were raised together on the same farm — which therefore neither produced unmanageable surpluses of manure, to be wasted and to pollute the water supply, nor depended on such quantities of commercial fertilizer. The genius of America farm experts is very well demonstrated here: they can take a solution and divide it neatly into two problems.

Wendell Berry :: The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture

I wrote this for Burnside a few years ago about eating less meat and the impact it could have on our environment if every American family went meatless just one day a week. Back then, I had to be a little sneaky when it came to all-veggie meals because Grant thought very highly of protein of the animal variety. It’s a testament to how far we’ve come in a few short years that I made black bean burgers about a month ago, and Grant asked me to make them for his birthday dinner when it comes around. Be still my beating heart is about all I had to say to that!

So this week, Grant and I decided to do a little vegan/no sugar/no gluten cleanse after overindulging in South Beach visiting my sister last week. Grant surprisingly really liked it. Of course, it’s pretty easy when you have all of these delicious local vegetables to choose from. I’ll post my regular black bean recipe soon because it’s so tasty, but these were a great substitute if you’re avoiding animal products altogether. They didn’t hold together quite as well as the regular recipe, but we didn’t seem to mind!

 

Vegan Black Bean Burgers
Recipe very loosely adapted from Lukas Volger’s black bean burger recipe in Veggie Burgers Every Which Way 

Ingredients
1.5 cups cooked black beans (pressure cooker alert!)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 medium onion
1 bell pepper
Juice from 1/2 lime
1/2 cup flax meal
2 tablespoons oats
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin or coriander
Couple tablespoons of oil for frying (I used safflower oil because of its high smoke point)

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Mix a half cup of the beans, cilantro, mustard, onions, pepper, lime juice, salt, pepper, and cumin in the food processor until combined thoroughly.
3. In a separate bowl, mix the remaining beans, flax meal and oats, using a fork to smash the beans. I don’t put all of the beans in the food processor to retain some of the texture in the final burgers.
4. Add the mixed ingredients from the food processor into the bowl of beans and mix together just until combined.
5. Form the mixture into patties in the size of your choice.
6. Heat the oil in a skillet and cook the patties until browned – for about five minutes on each side, replacing the oil as necessary.
7. Once the patties have finished cooking, transfer them to the oven for about twelve minutes.

Because we were doing the gluten-free thing, we served ours over salad greens from the garden with sauteed mushrooms on top. Feel free to serve them on a traditional hamburger bun with all of the fixins though. Jasper had them for lunch the next day in a tortilla, which looked delicious too.

Grant’s plate about three minutes after dinner started speaks for itself!

As previously mentioned, we have had beets coming out of our ears lately from our CSA box. I really like beets, but I’ve been trying to be a bit more creative about how to use them this year since we have so many this year. I tried beet kvass, which turned out to be too disgusting even with its renowned health benefits. We still have a full jar in the fridge if anyone wants some. I keep thinking I’ll work up the courage to try it again.

Then last week, I tried beet chips. I rarely buy them because they’re pricey, but I love those baked veggie chips that you can get at the store with all kinds of baked root vegetables. I was craving them and thought I would try some for myself to use up some beets. What a tasty treat!

Ingredients
Beets
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees
2. Cut off tops of beets and slice very thinly. A mandolin would come in handy here if you have one, but I just used a knife. You could peel the beets if you don’t like the skin, but I left it on because I was lazy.
3. My mom got me one of these when I first got of college. It is genius! I hate those aerosol spray cans because of the environmental impact and the number of syllables in the ingredients list. I’ve seen inexpensive versions elsewhere too. So for this project, I used my sprayer filled with EVOO and lightly sprayed a baking sheet. Then I laid the beet slices across the pan, sprayed them lightly with more EVOO, and then sprinkled sea salt over the top.
4. Bake at 325 for 30 – 35 minutes, flipping the beets at about the halfway point.

My plan was to make a batch of these (I used four medium-sized beets) and eat them over the next few days for lunch. Instead, Jasper and I had them devoured by bedtime that night. Now I’m wishing I had another big delivery of beets!

I finished Land of Plenty a few weeks ago and loved it. The subtitle alone was enough to hook me in: “One Suburban Family, Four Rules and 365 Days of Homegrown Adventure In Search of Christian Living.” I have been wanting to review it here since I finished it, but I haven’t had the time to sit down and collect my thoughts. I think you need to read this book though, so, instead, I thought I would share the review from my friends at Englewood Review of Books that got me reading the book in the first place.

Be sure to bookmark author Craig Goodwin’s website too for some great resources and articles. Goodwin promises a free study guide in the next few weeks, so keep checking back. Year of Plenty would make a great book for your small group!

Pick up a copy (or borrow mine!) and let me know what you think!

Excerpt from interview with Rose Marie Berger of Sojourners

Any religion has to have a practice. When you let it go so far from practice that it just becomes a matter of talk something bad happens. If you don’t have an economic practice, you don’t have a practice. Christians conventionally think they’ve done enough when they’ve gone to the store and shopped. But that isn’t an economic life. It isn’t an economic practice. If you take seriously those passages in the scripture that say that we live by God’s spirit and his breath, that we live, move, and have our being in God, the implications for the present economy are just devastating. Those passages call for an entirely generous and careful economic life.

If you haven’t started your garden yet, it’s not too late! One of the best and easiest ways to dip your toes into gardening is to start off with a container or two and try one of your favorite vegetables. I still like to grow peppers and cherry tomatoes in pots on our deck, so that I can easily access them for a quick weekday lunch of pico de gallo.

Check out this great video on herb container gardening for some tips and tricks:

The Plant a Row committee has been busy! Jas and I went out last week to check on the community garden plot at Christ United Methodist Church and the farmer’s market garden plot. Jasper was really good at flinging dirt around while I planted and weeded. The PAR volunteers have done an amazing job of keeping up with the garden, and I’m learning lots about our plans for the evolution of the Grace Garden. Like Plant a Row on Facebook if you haven’t already to keep up with PAR this summer (and for some great pics too)!

Grant had a work thing, so I had to bring Jasper along to work the Westfield in Bloom/Plant a Row booth at the Westfield farmer’s market last Friday. It was so fun. The new space for the market allows for much more mingling and many more marketers. They have live music, way too much deliciously tempting produce and ready-to-eat foods, and some great homemade gifts. You should check it out!

Jasper and I handed out the Plant a Row newsletter to all of the different marketers and explained what Plant a Row is all about. Everyone was very enthusiastic and welcoming. We weren’t able to stay for the whole evening because Jas got a little hot and cranky, but we’re excited to make it back for many more Westfield farmer’s markets this summer! You should come too – and bring your extra produce. We’re collecting it all summer long at the Westfield in Bloom booth, so you can come for a fun evening and help our neighbors in need all at the same time.

Robert from Plant a Row with the Westfield in Bloom ladies.

Jasper liked the radishes at first, but then he got really confused when they turned hot at the end. He just walked around with his mouth open, saying “HOT!”

I work on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, so I try to cook ahead on Monday so that I can spend the after work hour or two with my boys before Jas’ bedtime instead of cooking, but it doesn’t always work that way. On weeks that I didn’t plan ahead, I’ve taken to making garbage frittatas. Our friends Al and Meena, who are way more creative than us, are really good about throwing random leftover ingredients together and making something that looks beautiful and delicious, so hat tip to them for giving me a great work night dinner idea!

Here are the basics – this makes enough for Grant and me for dinner, and usually leaves a slice or two leftover for lunch for me the next day (but not last night because Grant was hungry!).

Ingredients
6 (local) eggs
1/4 cup of milk
2 tbsp of fresh herbs or 2 tsp of dried herbs of your choice
whatever veggies you have in the fridge
cheese – a little goes a long way
preheat oven to 350 degrees
salt and pepper to taste

Directions
By Tuesday or Wednesday, I always seem to have some scraps of veggies that I haven’t used from our CSA delivery, so the frittata has become the perfect meal to use up all of those extras. Last night, I had maybe three crimini mushrooms, some swiss chard and some asparagus. So I diced up all of that stuff, along with some onion, garlic and fresh basil and oregano, and threw it in a skillet with some olive oil. Once everything was browned, I poured in the eggs and milk and stirred everything together, so that the veggies were mixed in well. I shredded some parmesan cheese on top after the eggs had set up just a bit. Then I put the whole skillet (make sure you’re using an all-metal or cast iron pan) in the oven for about 15 minutes (or until the top looks brown and bubbly). I just dump it onto a plate from there, cut it up like a pie/quiche, and serve with a salad on the side.

Be adventurous – we haven’t found a veggie that doesn’t taste delicious in the frittata. If I use potatoes, I usually steam/brown/bake them for just a bit, so that they don’t take as long to cook (and cause the other ingredients to burn). Try different cheeses too. As the summer progresses, we’ll make this with onions, zucchini, peppers and cheddar. This makes a great Meatless Monday meal, but sometimes we’ll add bacon or sausage from our pig if we’re in the mood. Also, I’ve become a bit obsessed with Siracha, so I always add a bit of that on top to give it a little extra kick.

I forgot to take pictures because we were too hungry to wait, but you’ll just have to trust me and add this one to your repertoire!

From my favorite novel, Jayber Crow

You can take a few seed peas, dried and dead, and sow them in a little furrow, and they will sprout into a row of pea vines and bear more peas–it may not be a miracle, but that is a matter of opinion.

 

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