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We have had a hectic few weeks – I’m so sorry for ditching you for one of the “foodiest” of all holidays! We had three Thanksgivings and loved every minute of each of them. What I did not love was how tight my pants were afterwards. Oops.

We hosted our “small group Thanksgiving,” which is always a fun day. Our menu  consisted of the following:

  • Pumpkin soup – this was delicious. I toasted the pumpkin seeds on top, which added a nice crunch. Recipe to come.
  • Chopped salad – a friend made a delicious salad with cranberries and feta and walnuts.
  • Beer butt (local and happily-raised) chicken – always delicious and so easy too.
  • butternut squashTwice-baked butternut squash – this wasn’t my favorite, but Grant loved it.
  • Cornbread stuffing – I tried a make-ahead recipe from Rachael Ray Magazine‘s November issue, but it was a little dry for me (always a danger with stuffing). The original called for bacon, but I left it out because we had a vegetarian at the table. I think I’ll try it again with bacon (duh!), and I’ll report back if it’s a keeper. It was nice because I made these four days before the meal, so all I had to do on the day of was defrost them and toast them a bit.
  • Mashed potatoes and kale (mostly cauliflower) – one of my goals in hosting “Small Group Thanksgiving” is to get some of our less adventurous eaters to try some healthier stuff, so I made this with about
    ne quarter potatoes and three-quarters cauliflower. It was yummy, and no one seemed to mind me being sneaky.
  • Mushroom and brown rice casserole – this was so tasty, and I predict it becomes a regular on our Meatless Monday rotation. It makes a great main course for a vegetarian eater for a holiday meal.
  • DSC_0004White cheddar muffins – these have become a staple at our house. I make them in big batches and keep the extras in the freezer when we need a little something extra to add to soup/salad meal nights. Recipe below.

Oh and cinnamon ice cream for dessert (recipe to come). Now I’m hungry.

I’m a terrible food blogger because I took very few pictures. I did take some on the prep days, but, on the day of, I was having too much fun hanging out with our friends and stuffing my face to stop to take pictures. You’ll just have to trust me that things were tasty and mostly pretty.

Whole Grain white cheddar biscuits
Adapted from Curvy Carrot

Ingredients
2 and 1/4 cup whole grain baking mix
2 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-tablespoon pieces
1 and 1/2 cups white cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup buttermilk*
1 teaspoon garlic salt

Directions
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Using your fingers, add the butter, pinching and mixing it thoroughly until the dough becomes crumbly. Add the white cheddar and stir to combine. Add the buttermilk and garlic salt, stirring well to combine.  Drop the dough onto the baking sheet, spacing each biscuit about 2 inches apart. Bake the biscuits for about 18-20 minutes, or until the tops are lightly golden.

*My trick for buttermilk is to add a tablespoon of white vinegar to a measuring cup, and then add milk (preferably whole) until the mixture reached the one cup mark. Then stir it and let it set for a few minutes before using. So few dairies sell authentic buttermilk these days that I’ve found this method much preferable to buying something with lots of additives (plus, I rarely use more than a cup or two).

People who know the garden in which their vegetables have grown and know the garden is healthy will remember the beauty of the growing plants, perhaps in the dewy first light of morning when gardens are at their best. Such a memory involves itself with the food and is one of the pleasures of eating….The thought of the good pasture and of the calf contentedly grazing flavors the steak….A significant part of the pleasure of eating is in one’s accurate consciousness of the lives and the world from which food comes.

 

Eating with the fullest pleasure – pleasure, that is, that does not depend on ignorance – is perhaps the profoundest enactment of our connection with the world. In this pleasure we celebrate our dependence and our gratitude, for we are living from mystery, from creatures we did not make and powers we cannot comprehend.

Wendell Berry, The Art of the Commonplace

“The great enemy of freedom is the alignment of political power with wealth. This alignment destroys the commonwealth – that is, the natural wealth of localities and the local economies of household, neighborhood, and community – and so destroys democracy, of which the commonwealth is the foundation and practical means.”

Wendell Berry from The Art of the Commonplace

Indianapolis Green Congregations is sponsoring a great event this Wednesday on climate change and its effects on health. Be sure to check it out!

What: More details and register for free here

When: Wednesday, November 14, 2012
7:00 PM – 8:30 PM

Where: First Congregational United Church of Christ
7171 N. Pennsylvania St.
Indianapolis, 46240

Join us!

This weekend at Grace, we’ll be discussing the sixth broken place: creation!

So please join us to hear what Dave Rod has to say, and then come over afterwards to the Care For Creation booth at the Frontline Expo and sign-up to help Grace tackle this huge broken place. We need you.

Service times: Saturday at 4:30, 6:15 & Sunday at 9 and 11
Directions

This is week four of the Hunger Challenge, and we’re praying for the issue of hunger as a community, as well as praying as individuals and families about becoming involved in the six broken places that we have been discuss the hunger challenge: in review ing for the last six weeks.

I learned a few surprising things from the first few weeks of the Hunger Challenge. Most Americans, even low income ones and those on food stamps, aren’t eating rice and beans every day (although their health might be better if they were since I’m guessing many of them are eating fast food several times a week, but that’s a story for another day…); however, the rice and beans week gave me a very small glimpse into global poverty. For two billion people (at least), one meal of rice and beans each day is their normal. And I complain about eating leftovers for more than two days in a row.

What is most frustrating to me about global hunger is that it isn’t a lack of food that causes the problem. Furthermore, we don’t need industrial agriculture to feed the world (and wreak havoc on the environment). The United Nations estimates that it would take around $30B a year to eradicate global hunger. A lot of money, yes, but we spend over $40B a year on our pets in America alone. Eradicating global hunger is actually an attainable goal with some minor reallocation of resources (as households, organizations, and governments).

The thing that surprised me most about the second week – living on a food stamp budget – is that we live at or near the food stamp budget (when we eat at home). We eat really well on a food stamp budget – mostly organic, all local meat and poultry, and as much local produce as possible. I have argued for some time that Americans should be spending more money as a portion of their budgets on food (and I’ll still argue that point!), but I didn’t realize how well we’re able to eat on a fairly low food budget. This revelation led me to two other related conclusions:

  1. buying in bulk makes a huge difference, and
  2. spices, recipes, and the know-how/energy/ability to cook make a big difference between eating well and boring eating

We belong to a few co-ops or buying groups, so we buy most of our food in bulk. We buy mostly organic and local, but we get a substantial discount because we buy it in large quantities. We have the resources (and space!) to store it, which isn’t available to many people obviously. However, this experiment was a great eye-opener for me in terms of what we could be doing to help our neighbors gain access to better food (both for them and for the environment).

In addition, I learned that I take for granted my very large pantry of spices and seasonings that can take a meal from average to great when employed correctly. I also was reminded that finding pleasure in cooking and having the time to do so is a luxury that not everyone has. With that said, I think with a little practice and guidance, good, real food can be prepared simply, quickly, and deliciously. We just need to do a better job of sharing our tips and tricks with other cooks!

Many are focused on the national elections, but the Hoosier Environmental Council reminds us that there is much to do right here at home in Indiana (if you aren’t local, please seek out your state’s environmental organization/s to see how you can help).

A few resources:

  • Join HEC on December 1st for their Greening the Statehouse event
  • Visit and keep up with HEC’s Action Center, which gives us an easy way to make our voices heard on environmental issues
  • HEC has some great resources for greening our congregations
  • Check out HEC’s expansive website and connect with them, so you can easily stay informed on creation care in Indiana

“An economy genuinely local and neighborly offers to localities a measure of security that they cannot derive from a national or a global economy controlled by people who, by principle, have no local commitment.”

from Wendell Berry’s Jefferson lecture

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