Why I Am Posting These Recipes

I believe that it is healthier for an individual and for the planet to reduce the consumption of animal products in the human diet. However, I love to eat all kinds of delicious food, and find it really, really difficult to go totally vegetarian. Also, my family protests if I serve too many vegetarian meals in a row. So I am committed to making an effort to move towards a vegetarian diet without wholly doing so. I will post recipes several times a week that represent my philosophy of eating well, eating healthy, eating local. Most recipes will be easy to prepare, as I have a busy life. So I expect my followers to be people who love to cook and eat well, want to try to help the planet through their eating (by eating local foods and trying to reduce the use of meat in our diets), and have many other things to do each day besides cook.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Baked Sole with Garlic, Olive Oil, and Oregano


Yesterday I bought fish for dinner, not knowing exactly how I was going to cook it.  I bought sole that came from Rhode Island waters, which are very close to where I live in Connecticut.  My reasoning being that fish sourced close to home requires fewer resources to transport it to my kitchen, so it is more sustainable than fish that comes from farther away.  When I got home, I started browsing cookbooks and online, looking for a simple, delicious preparation that used garlic and oregano.  Garlic because I was craving garlic, and know from experience that garlic on fish is delicious.  Oregano because I recently read that Bell and Evans was feeding its chickens oregano oil because it discovered that oregano oil helped control bacterial infections in farm animals and kept them healthier.  So I figure that fresh oregano might be a good thing to start eating more of.  Even for people.  I couldn't find a suitable recipe, so I did my own thing, and the results were quite tasty.  Try it!

1 ½ lbs. sole
3 cloves garlic
Extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt
pepper
2 sprigs fresh oregano

Preheat oven to 475 degrees.  Place sole fillets on greased baking sheet in a single layer.  Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste over them.  Press 3 cloves garlic over the fish, sprinkling it over all the fillets.  Drizzle olive oil over fillets, then spread with your fingers so that fillets are evenly coated.  Chop oregano leaves and sprinkle over fish.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Serves 5.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Granola


Sustainable eating is all about trying to reduce the use of processed foods.  I am trying more and more to get into the habit of washing out jars (which once contained processed foods from factories) and taking them with me to the local health food store (in a reusable bag), where I weigh them at the cash register at the front of the store, fill them with bulk honey, oil, grains, nuts, and legumes, and then ask the cashier to subtract the original weight of the containers from the filled weight to figure out what to charge me.  By doing so, I am reducing paper and packaging waste, reducing the use of fossil fuels used to run the factory where they package such products, and saving money.  Perhaps you could make it your new year's resolution to seek a store where you can buy bulk ingredients and start following my lead, if you do not already shop in this sustainable way.


I purchased most of the ingredients I used in this granola in bulk.  By making your own granola instead of purchasing boxed cereal, you can not only reduce the waste and fossil fuel usage associated with the ingredients you use for the granola, but also the paper waste and fossil fuel usage associated with the production of boxed cereal.  Think in terms of the fossil fuels used to operate the factory and to transport the food to the warehouse, then to the store.  You are cutting out a bunch of middlemen who use Earth's precious resources.  Furthermore, this granola has to be better for you and your children than processed cereal, which is loaded with sugar and goodness knows what else!  Feed this to your children when they are young, so that they develop a taste for a nutritious breakfast that is not overly sweet, before their tastebuds have the opportunity to become contaminated by those sugary cereals they will undoubtedly become exposed to as they make their way in the wide world.  Try eating this granola in a bowl with coconut milk that comes in a carton (unless you have access to coconut milk straight from the coconut, which would be even better!) for a vegan breakfast.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

French Lentils


Lentils are, I think, one of my very favorite foods.  They are wonderfully nutritious, simple to cook, and I love their earthy, somewhat sweet taste.  I sometimes crave them.  They are my go-to meal when I don't have a lot of time to cook and I don't know what else to prepare for dinner.  There are different kinds of lentils, which can be used interchangeably in recipes but which have distinct characteristics.  Red lentils become very soft when you cook them.  Brown lentils also turn soft, but maintain their shape better than red lentils.  French lentils, which are tiny and black, are the firmest in texture.  This is how I cooked them the other night, using ingredients that I had on hand. The dish is succulent, simple, and oh! so good for you.  

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ onion, chopped
1 carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 cup French (black) lentils, rinsed
1 cup chicken broth
2 cups water
1 tsp. herbs de Provence
1 TBS tomato paste
¼ tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in saucepan over medium heat.  Saute onions until translucent.  Add carrots and celery and stir.  Add lentils, broth, water,  herbs de Provence, and tomato paste.  Stir and simmer until lentils are tender, about 45 minutes.  Add salt and pepper.  Serves 4.  

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Oven Roasted Green Beans


I made this for the first time this past Thanksgiving.  I got the idea from my friend Jody, who told me that she had the most delicious green beans at a friend's house that were roasted with olive oil, garlic and salt and pepper.  So I did what I have done before with other vegetables, tossing green beans with my trusty extra virgin olive oil, pressed garlic clove and salt, and roasted it.  Such a simple preparation, yet so incredibly delicious!  It was a really easy dish to make for a crowd, so I repeated it for a dinner party a week later, then again this past weekend for a houseful of visiting relatives.  Each time elicited lots of compliments from the guests, so I highly recommend it for your next fancy meal, or your next family dinner.  It suits either type of occasion very well.  It is easy to make larger quantities of this, and my ingredient proportions are approximate, listed here only to give you an idea of how much of each thing to use if you have no sense of how to go about this without such guidelines.  The important thing to remember is not to crowd the pan with the vegetables.  You want to spread the green beans out in the pan in a single layer, so that they can get a little brown.  If you crowd them, they will steam and taste different.  

1 lb. green beans, trimmed
1 clove garlic, pressed
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Toss green beans, olive oil, and pressed garlic together in roasting pan (I cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy clean-up).  Sprinkle with salt.  Roast in oven for about 30 minutes, or until just beginning to brown, tossing periodically during cooking time.  Serves 4.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Yummy Garlicky White Bean and Spelt Soup with Croutons


If all of us eat less meat, we will help make the Earth more sustainable, as more land is required to raise animals than to raise plants for eating, in terms of how far the food will go to feed people.  With that in mind, I try to eat vegetarian meals more and more frequently.  It is also healthier to eat this kind of food.  This soup is thick and creamy, perfect for a cold day.  It tastes even better the second day.


3 cups white beans (Cannellini if possible)
1 cup spelt
1 tsp salt
extra-virgin olive oil
½ onion
½ sweet pepper
2 leeks, chopped
4 cloves garlic, pressed
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 tsp dried sage
1 dried hot pepper, cut in half horizontally
1 1/2 tsp salt
black pepper
5 oz. baby spinach

Croutons:
1 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
5 cups cubed stale good-quality bread (bakery or homemade)
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Soak beans and spelt in separate pots overnight, each with plenty of water to cover. 
Drain and rinse beans.  Place them in a large pot with water to cover about 3” above the top of the beans, and add half an onion and half a sweet pepper (do not chop—these are just for flavor).  Bring to boil, then lower heat and simmer, partially covered, for about 45 minutes.  Drain and rinse spelt.  Add to pot with 1 tsp. salt.  Meanwhile, heat plenty of olive oil in skillet over medium heat.  Add leeks and cook, stirring, for a few minutes.  Add garlic and stir, then add this mixture to the pot of beans.  Add carrots, celery, sage, hot pepper and freshly ground black pepper to the pot and cook, uncovered, until beans and spelt are tender, about 45 minutes.  Add baby spinach and cook for 5 minutes, then turn off heat and let the pot sit with the cover on for an hour to let the flavors blend together.

For the croutons, preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cover a cookie sheet or rimmed baking pan with foil.  Put bread cubes on the pan and toss with olive oil and salt.  Grind black pepper over all.  Place in oven for 5 minutes, toss, then bake 5 minutes more, and if not golden brown on all sides toss and then bake an additional 5 minutes.  Sprinkle croutons over individual servings of soup in bowls.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Oatmeal Bread in Breadmaker

For this bread, I started with a recipe from the cookbook that came with my breadmaker and I changed a couple of ingredients and measurements, and added a couple of things.  The result is absolutely delicious!  I took a picture shortly after we started cutting into it, but it quickly disappeared.  It is sure to be a favorite in our household.

Makes 1 - 2 lb. loaf

1 1/2 cup buttermilk (I used 1 1/2 cups water and 6 TBS dried buttermilk blend, which is really handy for baking)
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 TBS unsalted butter, cut into thin slices
1 cup oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
3 cups bread flour
2 tsp. vital wheat gluten
2 1/4 tsp quick rise yeast for bread machines

Place ingredients in order listed (or the order suggested by your bread machine manufacturer).  Choose selections for white bread, 2 lb. loaf, medium crust.  Enjoy!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Red Lentil and Rice Cake


I try to eat vegetarian meals at lunchtime.  I often enjoy leftovers from dinner the night before.  Today, there was no leftover meal in my refrigerator that I could just pop into the microwave, and I did not feel like eating a sandwich or ready-made soup.  I wanted something warm, and I did not feel like cooking something very complicated.  I did have some leftover plain rice from a night or two ago, and I also had some leftover plain cooked red lentils (simply simmered in vegetable broth with sea salt and herbs).  I craved a little coconut, so I decided to try to make a patty that had a subtle coconut flavor.  The result is something that I would describe as "OK," not "scrumptious." But I would make it again.  So I guess it is good enough to post here.  It was a little dry, so if I was to make it again, I might add something else with moisture--perhaps a small amount of coconut milk.  If you want to give this a try, use whatever leftover beans and grains you have, even if they are different than red lentils and rice.  Red lentils worked especially well here because they get mushy when you cook them.  If you use a different bean, you might have to mash it with a fork.  By using leftovers, you are reducing waste and therefore helping the environment.  To be honest, this recipe is not good enough to go out and make the beans and rice specifically for this dish, but it is good enough to turn to when you want to use up plain leftovers and create something with some culinary interest with little effort.  The sweet chili sauce is also important as a flavor enhancer, as the dish would be too bland without it.


½ cup cooked red lentils (cooked in vegetable broth with sea salt and herbs)
½ cup cooked rice
1 small carrot, diced
1 TBS coconut oil
2 TBS shredded coconut

Sweet Chili Sauce (I used Trader Joe's) as condiment on the side.

Heat coconut oil in skillet.  Dice carrot by slicing in half lengthwise, then again into quarters, and then cutting crosswise into tiny pieces.  Saute carrots in coconut oil for several minutes.  Mix cooked lentils and rice together with hands.  Add shredded coconut, then add carrots and coconut oil from pan.  Mix with hands and form into a large patty.  Fry patty in skillet, covered, over medium low heat until brown.  Flip and cook other side, covered, until brown.  Serve with sweet chili sauce on the side, as a dipping sauce.  Makes one large patty or two small patties.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Red Lentil Stew with Lacinato Kale and Miso

I got the idea for this soup from one of my favorite websites, www.epicurious.com.  I tweaked a few of the ingredients and simplified it to make a fairly quick meal.  I started the meal by shopping at my local health food store and taking a clean empty glass (salsa) jar with me.  I asked the cashier to weigh the jar when I first entered the store, then I filled the jar with red lentils from the bulk food section and paid for the lentils by weight, subtracting the weight of the jar.  By doing so, I am reducing the waste of packaging products, plus I save a little money by buying bulk.  See if you have a store nearby that sells dried food products in bulk, and take your own container to the store, rather than using their plastic bags.  Our Earth is becoming more and more fragile, and we must each try to do lots of little things to preserve resources and protect the environment.  Reduction of waste is a good goal for each of us to think about.


This is really delicious (I would even describe it as scrumptious!), with a surprising sweetness emanating from the onions, celery, sweet potato and miso, which complements the slight bitterness of the kale.  I used lacinato kale for the first time because I saw it in the market and thought it would be interesting to try.  Lacinato kale looks a little bit like swiss chard.  Feel free to use regular kale instead.


Monday, October 29, 2012

My Mother-in-law’s Lasagna/Pastitsio





We have always referred to this dish as “lasagna,” because it uses lasagna noodles, but it is technically called “pastitsio.”  Sometimes pastitsio uses other kinds of pasta, but if you use lasagna as your pasta it seems like sort of like a  lasagna, but I like the béchamel sauce better than the ricotta cheese that a typical lasagna usually incorporates. 

This is a somewhat time-consuming recipe, but my husband and children especially lovs it, so every once in a while I allocate the better part of a day to making this for them.  Luckily, it lasts for several meals, so it ends up being an investment of time that pays off over the following couple of days.  My mother-in-law makes it a little differently each time; she does not have an exact recipe that she follows religiously.  Over the years, she has suggested several variations.  I have taken her ideas and recorded them here, integrating them with my own measurements and proportions and a couple of ingredients that make this recipe my own version.  Usually I use shredded mozzarella only in this dish, but this time I used fresh mozzarella on top, which changes its appearance but is delicious.  Try it either way!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Mango, Avocado and Watercress Salad


My husband's Aunt Iliana gave me the idea for this AMAZING salad.  Full confession:  she told me every single ingredient!  I came up with the proportions, which is especially important for the dressing.  Thank you, Iliana!

1 mango, diced
1 avocado, diced
watercress

Dressing:

juice of 1 lemon
2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
¼ tsp black pepper
½ tsp honey
½ tsp Dijon mustard
4 dashes of salt

Divide watercress, mango and avocado among 4 salad bowls or plates.  Mix dressing ingredients together in small bowl.  Pour dressing over each salad.  Serves 4.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Chickpeas and Vegetables Stewed in Coconut Milk

I am always trying to think of new ways to prepare dried beans, because they are economical and nutritious, and also because their production uses way fewer environmental resources than meat production.  I had a bag of dried chick peas (garbanzo beans) in my pantry.  They had been there for quite a while.  I thought it was time to cook them up and put them in a dish or two.  So tonight's dinner is chickpeas in a stew with other vegetables.  I actually cooked the chickpeas a couple of days ago in water and a piece of onion, then put them in a covered dish in the refrigerator until I was ready to use them in a dish.  To maximize the sustainability of your eating, choose as many locally grown vegetables as you can.  Most of the vegetables here are still available locally in Connecticut.  I love coconut milk, even though it comes from a place far away from Connecticut, so I thought I would see what I could do with that.  Remember, we are not bragging about being totally pure and perfect in our quest for sustainable eating.  We just take as many steps as we can in the right direction.  The planet will be better off if we all think about the impact of our eating on the environment and try to do make choices every day that minimize that impact.

This stew is flavorful, with a bit of spiciness.  It would probably be good served with couscous, millet, bulgar wheat or brown rice.  I served it with whole grain toast.  I also made a nice salad to go with it--the recipe for that will come in tomorrow's posting!


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Braised Baby Bok Choy

Bok Choy is one of the best sources of calcium.  The human body can absorb a higher percentage of calcium from bok choy than from most other calcium sources (54% from bok choy vs. 32% from milk, for example).  This vegetable also has lots of vitamins A, C, K and folate.  So it is good to try to figure out ways to prepare it so that you can benefit from all those nutrients.  Baby bok choy is more tender than mature bok choy.  This is a simple, flavorful side dish.  I served it tonight with a casserole containing lentils, bulgar wheat, vegetables and topped with cheddar cheese--unfortunately I did not write down the casserole recipe so I will have to try to duplicate it another time in order to post it on this blog!

Here is how I made the baby bok choy:


1 TBS extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, pressed
3 baby bok choy, stems trimmed
1 cup water
½ bouillon cube (vegan vegetable bouillon with sea salt and herbs--I used Rapunzel brand)

Heat olive oil in skillet or wide pan.  Add garlic and stir.  Add baby bok choy and toss for a couple of minutes to coat with olive oil and garlic.  Add water and bouillon cube,  press bouillon cube to mix in with the water a little bit.  Cover and simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Leftover Vegetables, Chicken and Sausage in Skillet Rice, Kind of Like Paella


A simple action that each of us can take to increase the sustainability of our eating is to waste less food.  This can be such a challenge, as we collect bits of leftover vegetables and meats and nobody in the family feels like eating them anymore.  They get old and then thrown away.  This evening I rose to the challenge of using up a bunch of leftover bits and making a new dish that seems entirely different and possibly even gourmet!  I measured each of the leftover ingredients I used (edamame, green beans, roast chicken, and chicken Italian sausages) to give you an idea of how to go about it.  I encourage you to adapt this recipe in such a way as to use up all the cooked vegetables, seafoods, meats, or tofu in your refrigerator.  Combine them with some nice, fresh ingredients and nobody else will know they are eating leftovers!


2 ½ cups chicken broth
¼ tsp saffron, crumbled
olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 large tomato, chopped
½ cup dry white wine
2/3 cup cooked edamame
1 cup cooked chicken
2 cups cooked green beans
2 cooked chicken Italian sausages
2/3 cup brown rice, rinsed
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
salt and pepper to taste (you might not need additional salt as the chicken broth and cooked meats and vegetables will already add salt to the dish)

Heat chicken broth in sauce pan.  When hot, add a little broth to saffron in a small dish and let sit for about 15 minutes, while you prepare other ingredients.

Heat olive oil in wide pan.  Saute onion until translucent.  Add green pepper and cook for a few minutes.  Add garlic clove and stir.  Add chopped tomato and cook until liquid is mostly evaporated.  Add brown rice and stir to coat rice kernels.  Add chicken broth, saffron and white wine.  Stir.  Cover and simmer until rice is tender and most of liquid is absorbed, about 45 minutes.  Add leftover meats and vegetables and rosemary.  Cover and cook for 5 or 10 minutes more.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serves 4-6.




Monday, October 15, 2012

Back to the Blog, With Fish, Shrimp and Vegetables Stewed in Coconut Milk


After a long absence due to a kitchen remodel, I am back to cooking, my blog, and green planet eating!  The other morning was a cold and wet autumn day in Connecticut, and I wanted to have something warm and comforting for dinner that night.  I decided upon fish stew, made with lots of local vegetables.  I used garlic and onions from my aunt’s garden, a green pepper and big luscious red heirloom tomato that I bought at my town’s farmer’s market a few days prior, and a sweet potato that I bought at the grocery store but which could have been obtained locally, if I had tried harder.  I took effort in choosing wild U.S.A. shrimp, which is more sustainable than farmed (also I have read horrifying accounts of what shrimp farming does to surrounding marine ecosystems in some places, and do not know how to ensure that farmed shrimp at the store has been raised in a healthy and environmentally conscientious way).  I also selected cod, since it is sustainable if caught properly and is from my region of the country, therefore relatively local.  The result was a delicious, wholesome stew that warmed me nicely.  We had some leftovers which were good for lunch the next day!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Cold Peanut Noodles with Snow Peas



Since I like to make my own peanut butter, I base this on my peanut butter recipe and then add additional ingredients for a more Asian-inspired sauce.  Make this salad for a picnic or an easy evening at home!  Can be served at room temperature or chilled.

Sauce:
5 cloves garlic
2” piece peeled gingerroot
¾ cup roasted unsalted peanuts
2 TBS peanut oil
1 TBS toasted sesame oil
5 TBS soy sauce
3 TBS rice vinegar
3 TBS honey
½ tsp sea salt

1 lb. noodles (such as spaghetti or soba)
1 TBS peanut oil
1 TBS olive oil
1 TBS toasted sesame oil
½ lb snow peas, cut into halves or thirds
large handful of fresh cilantro (about 1 cup), chopped


Chop peanuts in food processor until fine, then remove to small bowl.  Blend garlic cloves and ginger in food processor until chopped fine, then add peanuts and process a little more.  Add the rest of sauce ingredients and blend in food processor.  (Sauce can be made ahead of time and refrigerated).  Boil noodles until al dente.  Drain.  Toss noodles with 1 TBS peanut oil, 1 TBS olive oil, and 1 TBS toasted sesame oil.  Add sauce to taste and toss (you probably will not use all the sauce).  Add snow peas and chopped cilantro and toss some more.  Serve.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Potato Leek Soup



Summer soups are great because you can make them ahead of time and then enjoy a carefree evening.  They are great for picnics, served in  plastic cups.  This particular soup is also the one I tend to make when someone in my family has oral surgery, since he or she usually needs to eat something soft afterwards, and the delicate flavor is one that everyone seems to like.  Potato leek soup is delicious either hot or cold, but in the summer I like to chill it before serving.

3 leeks, chopped (use only white and light green part, discard dark green section)
1 stick unsalted butter (equivalent of a half cup)
5 large Yukon Gold Potatoes, sliced thin with a mandoline
1 carrot, diced
5 cups water
1 ½ tsp Himalayan pink sea salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 bay leaf
1 cup light cream
2 cups milk
½ cup chopped fresh chives, plus additional for garnish

Melt butter over medium low heat in soup pot.  Add leeks and stir.  Cover pot and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add carrot, bay leaf and water.  Cover and bring to boil, then reduce to simmer and cook 5 minutes.  Add potatoes, salt, and pepper, cover and simmer for about twenty minutes.  You want the vegetables to be tender but if you overcook the potatoes the soup will become thick and gluey, so try to stop the cooking before it gets gluey.  (If you miss this magical timing, don’t worry about it, just carry on!)  Remove bay leaf and blend soup in the pot with a stick blender until smooth.  Stir in cream and milk, then chives.  Adjust salt and pepper as desired.  You also can add another cup of milk if you prefer a thinner soup.  Garnish with additional chives.  Serve hot or cold.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Gazpacho

I owe the seed of this recipe to my mother-in-law, who has sent me numerous gazpacho recipes over the years and has earned herself a reputation for making the most delicious gazpacho.  I don't think she ever makes it the same way, however, so her approach gave me the courage to do my own thing, using ideas from some of the recipes she has passed along to me.  I made a version of this last summer for someone who subsequently asked me for the recipe, but I could not provide it since I had not really followed a recipe and could not remember exactly what I did.  This time I wrote everything down as I prepared it.  The result is a delicious gazpacho that lacks the strong raw onion flavor sometimes associated with gazpacho.  It is very easy to eat, with a somewhat fruity taste, perfect for a hot summer day.  One of the keys to a delicious dish is to use the best and most flavorful ingredients.  I used heirloom tomatoes from a local farmstand.  They taste so much better than the perfectly round, red tomatoes you most often find.  A few days ago, I made a dish that required chopped tomatoes and I strained the juice from the tomatoes and put it in a jar in the refrigerator.  I used about a half cup of this juice in the measurement for tomato juice; the rest of the tomato juice came from a bottle I bought at the store.  Make this early in the day, put it in the refrigerator and you have an easy evening ahead of you!


2 cucumbers, peeled and diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 red pepper, diced
3 large tomatoes, diced
½ red onion, chopped
handful of Italian parsley, chopped (about 1/4 to 1/2 cup)
2 tsp Himalayan pink sea salt
1 tsp cumin
freshly ground black pepper to taste
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
2 ½ cups tomato juice
3 cloves garlic, pressed

Place vegetables and parsley in large bowl and blend with hand stick blender.  Do not over blend, as it is nice to have small chunks of vegetables in the soup.  Add garlic and blend more.  Add tomato juice, red wine vinegar and olive oil and stir.  Stir in salt, cumin and pepper.  Refrigerate several hours before serving.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Creamy Dip for Chips and Veggies


1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
handful of fresh chives, chopped
handful of fresh parsley, chopped
handful of fresh dill, chopped
1 garlic clove, pressed
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
lots of freshly ground black pepper
juice of 1/2 lemon

Mix all ingredients together well.  Let sit for 1/2 hour or more in refrigerator to let flavors blend well.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Stir-Fried Kale, Napa Cabbage and Snow Peas with Miso-Ginger Vinaigrette


My doctor reminded me the other day that I need to make sure I get lots of calcium in my diet to prevent osteoporosis.  Recently, I heard on the news that the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends against taking vitamin D and calcium supplements to prevent osteoporosis, as studies show that taking them does not seem to reduce the occurrence of osteoporosis.  Other things I have read indicate that the best source of calcium is fruits and vegetables, because consuming calcium within animal products results in a metabolic process leading to your body actually excreting calcium.  Kale is one vegetable that is a particularly good source of calcium, so I bought a couple of bunches at the farmer's market and want to experiment with different ways to prepare it.  Today's recipe is one that I ate as a vegetarian main course last night.  With the brown rice, I found it filling and tasty.  Since snow peas are in season, I was able to buy them from a local farm, also.  


Olive oil for sautéing
2 cloves garlic, pressed

Sauce:
1 TBS rice vinegar
1 ½ tsp water
1TBS white miso
1 ½ tsp sugar
1 ½ tsp mirin
1 tsp ginger juice
1 ½ tsp tahini
1 1/2 tsp olive oil
½ tsp soy sauce

½ head of Napa cabbage
bunch of Kale (about 12 leaves)
3 cups Snow Peas
1 large carrot, sliced diagonally.

Make sauce:  combine all ingredients and stir with a fork until smooth.
Prepare vegetables:  remove core from cabbage and slice horizontally.  Strip kale greens from stems and discard stems; chop kale.

Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat.  Add garlic and stir quickly, then add cabbage and kale.  Cook for a few minutes, stirring, then add carrots.  When vegetables are cooked (carrots should just be crisp-tender), add snow peas and cook for a few more minutes, stirring.  Serve sauce at room temperature over sautéed vegetables.  Brown rice is a nice accompaniment.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Sauteed Summer Squash, Red Onions and Tomatoes

This was a quick and easy side dish I threw together the other night.  You could use any kind of onion, but I think the red onions when cooked until just a tiny bit brown are especially sweet.  The browning caramelizes the onions, making them taste almost like sugar.  Yum!  I served this with a simple fish dish, which was wonderful, but it would be good with all kinds of main dishes.  It makes a simple meal seem special.


2 yellow squash, sliced
2 zucchini, cut lengthwise down the middle then sliced
1/2 large red onion, sliced
1 tomato, chopped
handful of fresh basil, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil

Heat olive oil in large skillet.  Add onions and cook, stirring, until soft.  Add yellow squash and zucchini and continue to cook until vegetables just begin to turn a little brown.  Add tomato, basil, salt and pepper and cook a few minutes more.  Serves 4-6.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore

 I apologize to my readers for the lengthy time since my last post.  I encountered technical difficulties which I had difficulty understanding and solving.  I and many (most?  all?) of my readers were prevented from viewing my blog with a "server not found" message.  In the end, I don't know exactly how the problem was solved, but am hopeful that the issue will not recur.

So here is my latest recipe.  For the most sustainability, use local chicken.

I have been concerned about using canned items because of information I have read about BPA lurking in the lining of cans used for food.    I recently found this tomato sauce that is in a carton instead of a can, so I feel more comfortable about the lack of toxicity in the tomato sauce, and I am guessing it might be better environmentally (though this is my intuition talking, rather than anything scientific I have read):



16 chicken thighs
22 oz. tomato sauce
3 medium onions, chopped
1 large green pepper, chopped
6 garlic cloves, pressed
olive oil
½ cup red wine
2 cups chicken broth
handful of fresh herbs:  basil, thyme, rosemary, oregano (chopped)
salt and pepper to taste
a couple of shakes of red chili pepper

Sprinkle salt and pepper over chicken thighs.  Heat olive oil in skillet.  Brown thighs in batches over medium high heat and remove to slow cooker.  Pull off skin with your hands after they have cooled enough to handle, and discard skin.  Remove excess fat from skillet and return to burner.  Saute onions and green pepper in additional olive oil over medium heat, stirring, until onions are translucent.  Add ½ tsp. salt to mixture and stir.  Add pressed garlic cloves and stir quickly.  Transfer vegetables to slow cooker.  Mix tomato sauce and red wine together and add to slow cooker.  Pour chicken broth into the measuring cup or bowl that you used for the tomato sauce and red wine and swirl to get all the remaining sauce mixed in with the broth.  Add this to the slow cooker.  Chop fresh herbs and stir into mixture in slow cooker, along with bay leaves, red chili pepper salt and black pepper to taste.  Cook on low for 8 hours.  Serve over brown rice.  Serves 8.



















Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Lentils with Farro and Spinach

Sorry I haven't posted anything new in a few days.  I have been wanting to make sure my website worked before adding a new recipe, as there have been some server issues that I do not understand.  This is a super nutritious one-pot meal including legumes, whole grains, and leafy green vegetables.  I just sauteed some onion and carrots in olive oil as a flavor base, added rinsed a half cup of rinsed farro, a cup of rinsed lentils, 1/2 tsp salt, pepper, 4 cups water, and a pinch of herbs de provence.  Simmer until farro and lentils are tender, about 50 minutes.  Add rinsed baby spinach leaves or chopped spinach and allow to wilt.  So easy!  If water is absorbed before farro and lentils are tender, add a little more.  You could vary the herbs you use, too.  Marjoram, thyme, rosemary and basil are herbs that I like with this kind of dish.  You might want to try something else.  Easy, delicious, and nutritious!  With spinach coming into season now or soon, depending upon where you live, you can eat local food, too!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Guacamole


Livestock uses 30 percent of the Earth's land surface (this includes land used to produced feed) and contributes 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, according to a report issued by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.  Deforestation in the Amazon rainforest is largely due to land clearing for the purpose of creating grazing land for cattle.  For these and other environmental reasons, we will best serve the Earth by reducing our consumption of animal products.  Luckily, this guacamole recipe uses no animal products!  This makes a really big bowl, suitable for a party, so if you want to serve only a small group of people, you might consider dividing the recipe in half.  Put the avocado pits in the bowl to help keep it from turning brown.  In case you are worried about something so delicious being bad for you, rest assured that avocados are listed as one of the "Top Twelve Foods" in The Family Nutrition Book by William Sears, M.D. and Martha Sears, RN.  Avocados provide B vitamins, vitamin A and vitamin E.  So enjoy, eat green, be healthy!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Mango Berry Smoothie

As I have said in previous posts, I make smoothies just about every day.  I never follow a recipe.  I try to keep plenty of frozen fruit in my freezer, as I have discovered that it is cheaper to buy frozen fruit than to buy fresh fruit, at least in the winter.  I intend to buy fresh local fruit as soon as it is available this spring.  But for now, all the fresh fruit comes from somewhere far away, so it might as well be frozen.  Since we make smoothies so frequently in my household, I can take several bags of fruit out of the freezer and defrost them in the refrigerator, which makes them easier to blend.  It is always nice to have at least a few pieces of fruit still frozen, though, to make the drink ice cold and thick.  Kind of like a slushee, but better for you.  I like to include mango in the smoothie whenever possible, as I think smoothies with some mango taste better than those without.  I also like a few strawberries, but not too many.  Too many strawberries overpowers, in my opinion.  This morning's version had an especially nice balance of flavors:

1 cup mango
1 cup blueberries
1/2 cup pineapple
4 large strawberries
1 1/2 cup orange juice
2 TBS chia seeds

Blend in a blender until smooth.  Pulse several times to help blend it all.  Makes about 3 servings.

The chia seeds do not add any flavor, but they add another dimension of nutrition to the drink.  They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and fiber.  They also provide manganese, phosphorous, calcium, potassium and sodium.  They will help you stay healthy!  


Sunday, April 22, 2012

High Protein Maple Syrup Breadmaker Bread


It's always better for the planet to make something from scratch, rather than buy something produced by a factory.  It is better for your health, as well, to eat something made with wholesome ingredients rather than a similar food loaded with preservatives, fillers, and whatever else those factories put into their products.  With a trusty bread machine, you can quickly and easily make bread for all your eating needs.  This recipe is especially high in protein, as it contains soy flour and wheat germ, two high-protein ingredients.  The maple syrup adds a sweetness which makes this suitable for eating plain, as well as using for sandwiches and savory meals.  Use as many ingredients sourced locally as you can, for green planet eating!  We are lucky in the Northeastern U.S. to have local sources of maple syrup, even though it is becoming less plentiful as the yearly weather patterns are changing from previous years.  I am also able to procure local eggs.  You might have a source for local grains and buttermilk, as well.  Do what you can!

1 ½ cup buttermilk
¼ cup maple syrup
2 TBS olive oil
1 egg
2 tsp salt
2 cups bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup soy flour
1/3 cup rye flour
2 TBS raw wheat germ
3 ½ tsp vital wheat gluten
2 ½ tsp yeast

Put all ingredients into bread machine pan in the order recommended by your machine’s manufacturer.  Set crust on medium and bake in basic setting.  If possible, check while it is mixing as the dough was really sticky and benefited from my sticking a plastic spoon in to help it mix before entering the baking cycle!  It turned out yummy, though!  The maple syrup created a dark brown crust.  Makes a 2 lb. loaf.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Ground Lamb with Spinach and Barley



This is a one-dish simple meal.  I had a pound of local ground lamb in my refrigerator and some beautiful fresh spinach, and I wanted to make a quick and easy meal that also incorporated whole grains.  I thought about "hamburger helper," a package of stuff that was supposed to transform a pound of hamburger into an easy complete meal when I was a child.  I thought I could do something more wholesome and just as easy using things I have in my cupboard, plus my trusty onion and garlic that go into most dinners I cook.  Use local lamb and spinach for green planet eating.  Maybe you have a local source for the other ingredients, but unfortunately I could only get the lamb and spinach from local farms.  You might want to think about planting some seeds for some of your own vegetables too!  This past week, I planted peas, spinach, kale and leeks.  We'll see how they grow.  I don't have a great track record for growing plants.  I put the seeds in year after year, but my harvests are not bountiful.  That's ok, because it allows me to keep the other farmers nearby in business!

1 lb. ground lamb
1 onion
2 TBS olive oil
1 clove garlic, pressed
salt
pepper
1 TBS cumin
1 tsp coriander
½ cup barley
2 cups water
about 4 cups spinach, cut up
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (Reggiano Parmigiano)


Brown chopped onion in olive oil until translucent.  Add pressed garlic clove and stir quickly.  Add ground lamb, sprinkle salt and pepper over it and stir with a fork as you brown it.  Spoon off excess fat.  (I put the fat into a small bowl and then scoop it into the trash after it cools and hardens.)  Sprinkle cumin and coriander over browned meat and cook a few minutes more, stirring.  Add rinsed barley and stir into meat mixture.  Add water.  Cover and cook until barley is tender, about  40 minutes.  Stir spinach and parmesan cheese into the mixture, cover and cook a few minutes more, until spinach is wilted.  Serves 4.


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Coconut Lentils with Indian Spices



About a week ago, I ate lunch at the Bennington College dining hall in Vermont.  The vegetarian hot lunch choice that day was coconut lentils.  I like coconut, and I like lentils, and I preferred to have a vegetarian lunch, so I took a small portion.  I did not expect to like it very much, as it looked a bit bland and mushy.  Hence the small portion.  I found it, however, mouth-wateringly delicious, and I went back for seconds.  I thought about it several times this week, so I decided to take a stab at it for tonight's dinner.  I did not know exactly what was in the dish I had last week.  I only knew it had coconut, lentils and carrots.  But I followed my intuition and came up with something that, while not exactly like what I ate at Bennington, was very delicious.  I had (I am blushing now) four helpings this evening.  I found the taste to be addictive and kept wanting more!  I really, really enjoyed this combination of flavors.  I hope you do, too!

Serves 4

2 TBS coconut oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, diced
1 cup red lentils
1 can coconut milk
2 cups water
½ tsp garam masala (an Indian spice blend.  If you cannot find it, substitute curry powder.)
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
½ tsp coarse sea salt

Saute chopped onion in coconut oil.  Cook until onions are translucent.  Add carrots, stir and cook for a few more minutes.  Add coconut milk, water, coconut flakes, rinsed lentils, and garam masala.  Bring to a simmer and cook, covered, for about 15 minutes.  Add salt and continue cooking over low heat, stirring occasionally, until lentils are tender.  Serve over brown rice.   

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Kait's Grilled Greek Lamb Burgers with Feta


Yesterday, I was driving through Vermont and stopped at this fabulous local food grocery store called "W.A.A.W.W.E. Family Farms Market."  It stands for "We Are All What We Eat."   You'll find it at the corner of Rte. 10 and Rte. 102 in Chester, Vermont .  If you happen to live near there or have a reason to drive near there, you should check it out!  They sell all kinds of local foods, including various meats, dairy products, produce, cheese, and many other things.  It is the most expansive selection of local food products I have ever seen in a single store. I was in heaven!  The woman who worked there, Kait, suggested a way to cook a lamb meatloaf or burger.  Since my oven is not working, we decided to go for the burger form and cook them on the grill.  She told me the ingredients to use, and approximate proportions, but I measured out what I used so that you could have a real recipe here.  They were delicious!  And I used ground lamb, feta, and eggs that were locally sourced!  Local ingredients are better for the planet because a) you eliminate the oil consumption that is part of the transportation cost to the planet and b) food produced on a small, local farm is likely to cause less environmental stress.  My husband whipped up a dip to serve with it using a packaged lemon spinach dip blend that we purchased at this market.  The dip mix was produced by Halladay's Harvest Barn in Bellows Falls, VT (package says you can order online at www.halladays.com or call 802-463-3471).  The ingredients include spinach, lemon, onion, pepper and spices; you could buy another lemon spinach dip that you might see in your local market or experiment by mixing together the listed ingredients (you'll have to guess which "spices" would taste good).  Anyway, my husband mixed 2 TBS of this dip blend with 1/2 cup local organic plain yogurt and 1/2 cup mayonnaise, plus added a little wilted fresh spinach that I had cooked in a frying pan with olive oil, garlic and salt.  It made a delicious spread that made the perfect condiment to serve with these burgers.

3 lbs. ground lamb
3 eggs
1 c. breadcrumbs (take stale bread and process in a food processor to make crumbs)
5 TBS red wine
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 TBS oregano
1/4 tsp cinnamon
freshly ground black pepper to taste
8 oz. feta cheese, diced finely

Combine all ingredients except feta in a bowl and mix together with your hands.  Add feta and mix as minimally as possible.  You want the feta to be mixed throughout the meat mixture but remain in pieces.  Form into patties.  Sear patties on hot grill for about 2 1/2 - 3 minutes on each side, then grill covered on lower temperature for about 10 additional minutes on each side.  Serve with lemon spinach dip/spread.  Makes about 11 large burgers (most people eat one, but some people might eat two).
Dice the feta into small squares.
This is what the patties looked like before we grilled them.
Lemon Spinach Dip goes really well with these burgers.  Use local ingredients if possible!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Creamy Oatmeal

Recently I have been making this just about every morning for my kids.  They love it.  It is kind of like Cream of Wheat, but more wholesome and better for the planet because it is made from raw oats that I purchase in bulk at my health food store.  Buying oatmeal in bulk cuts out the processing and packaging performed by a factory.  If everyone bought their oatmeal this way there would be at least one less factory polluting the enviroment !

I put 3/4 cup raw oats in a blender and blend until they are powdery.  Then I add about 3 cups of milk to the blender and blend for a few seconds.  Pour this mixture into a pan and cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally until it thickens.  This takes about 20 minutes.  Turn the heat down to low if it starts to boil.  If desired, you can add a sweetener while it is cooking.  I like to add a spoonful of brown sugar.  My mother-in-law taught me about this way of cooking oatmeal.  Very warm and comforting!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Guide to Grains


Some people have told me that they are unfamiliar with all the different grains out there.  We are becoming more aware of how important it is for us to eat whole grains, but it can get confusing to understand them all.  And what to do with them?   Consuming whole grains is green planet eating because they fill us up, and they provide nutrients that can allow us to reduce or eliminate meat in our diets.  Growing plants to eat (which would include grains, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, and mushrooms) is better for the planet than growing livestock, in general.  Organic grains, are of course, ideal.  Eliminating those toxic pesticides from our environment would be a very good thing to do.  And if you can buy locally grown grains, all the better!

As a general rule of thumb, you should rinse grains before cooking them.  I usually measure the grain and then put it in a fine mesh strainer to rinse it.  Sometimes I measure it into the pot, then use my hands to push the grains around in the pot under cold running water, and drain the water out through my fingers, using my hands to hold the grain in the pot.  I learned to rinse rice this way when I lived in Japan.   

It is better for the Earth if we buy our grains in bulk.  Health food stores sometimes carry bulk grains.  If I think it through enough ahead of time, I take an empty container with me to the store, weigh it at the cashier, fill it with the bulk grain, then subtract the weight of the empty container to figure out how much I owe the store.  This is the greenest way to shop, as it eliminates the packaging that you would throw away.

More and more, I am finding unusual grains at my regular grocery store.  Some unusual specialty grains, such as black barley, I buy at a grocery store that carries gourmet products.  One of my favorite places for such products is Bishop's Orchard, in Guilford, CT.  If you happen to live in Connecticut, check it out!

You can cook all these grains in water, but you can use other liquids, too.  Substituting broth for water with any of these grains (except a bowl of breakfast oatmeal) makes them tastier and is super-easy.  You can use canned vegetable or meat broth, make your own, or even use a bouillon cube with water (though check the ingredients to see what exactly is in those bouillon cubes, please).

Wheat berries – “hard red winter wheat berries” – whole kernels of wheat. Sometimes parboiled, which reduces cooking time.  This is the least processed form of wheat.  You can soak them the night before or not.  If you do not soak them, they will have a chewier texture.  If you soak them, drain them after soaking and use fresh water to cook them.  Boil 3 ½ cups salted water with 1 cup wheatberries, covered, for about an hour and a half – to – two hours, or until wheat berries are tender.  Drain if water is not all absorbed.
Cracked Wheat – wheat berries that have been milled or cracked into smaller pieces.  Boil 2 cups salted water and 1 cup cracked wheat.  Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.  Then remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes, covered.
Bulgur Wheat – wheat berries that have been cooked, dried and then cracked into smaller pieces; basically cooked cracked wheat.  Boil 2 cups salted water and 1 cup bulgur wheat.  Simmer covered for 12-15 minutes.
Spelt – a high-quality grain, related to wheat.  Like wheat berries, can be soaked overnight before cooking in order to make them more tender.  Boil 3 ½ cups water with 1 cup spelt.  Simmer covered for about 60 minutes if soaked, 90 minutes if not soaked, until soft. Rich in fiber, protein, iron.  Also a source of calcium.
Farro- a pure form of wheat with the husk intact.  An “ancient grain.”  Boil 1 cup of faro with 3 cups of water, covered, for about 50 minutes.  Can be used like Arborio rice for risotto.  Rich in fiber, magnesium, protein, and iron.  Also a source of calcium.
Oats – microwave ½ cup raw oats with 1 cup water on high for 3 minutes for a single serving.
Barley - Boil 5-6 cups water with 1 cup barley.  Simmer for about 1 ¼ hours, covered.  Drain.
Pearled Barley is not a whole grain, as it has been refined to remove the bran and the germ or “embryo” of the barley
White Rice-gluten-free; not a whole grain.  Use 2 cups water for 1 cup rice; simmer for about 20 minutes.
Brown Rice gluten-free.  High in protein, fiber, zinc, folic acid, vitamin E, B vitamins, calcium.  Use 3 cups of water for one cup of rice.  Boil for 40-45 minutes, covered, until rice is absorbed.
Wild Rice – technically not a grain, but rather a grass.  Higher than brown rice in protein, zinc, folic acid, and vitamin E. Use 2-3 cups water for 1 cup wild rice.  Simmer covered for about 30 minutes.  Drain if there is excess water after cooking.
Black Barley – high in protein and iron, also a source of calcium.  1 cup to 3 cups boiling water.  Simmer covered for 35-40 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed.
Israeli Couscous-actually a pasta, not a grain.
Couscous/Whole Wheat Couscous -actually a pasta, not a grain.  For whole wheat couscous, boil 1 cup water, stir in 1 cup couscous, turn off heat and let sit for 5 minutes or so.  Fluff with fork.
Amaranth – technically a seed, but with the nutritional profile of a grain:  high in folic acid, calcium and vitamin E.  Also has some vitamin C.  One of the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat.  Cook it in a dry cast iron frying pan, stirring, until it pops like popcorn before cooking. So far, I have only used this in bread, but I will try to develop some other recipes in the future which I will post on this blog. 
Quinoa (pronounced “keen-wah”) – technically a vegetable, but used as a grain and has the nutritional profile of a grain:  very high in protein and iron, also has folic acid and B vitamins. Use 2 cups water for 1 cup quinoa.  Cook covered for 10-15 minutes.
Millet – good source of B vitamins and metals.  Gluten-free.  Use 3 cups water for 1 cup millet.  Cook for about 30 minutes in a covered pan.