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.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Poached Salmon with Mustard-Dill Sauce

To poach salmon, boil enough water to cover fish in a pan (I use a fish poacher but you could also use a large, wide, deep skillet that has a cover), along with about a cup of white wine, some salt and pepper.  Immerse the fish in it and cook for about 10 minutes per inch of thickness.  So a salmon fillet that is about 1 1/2 inches thick in the middle would cook for about 15 minutes.  Check for doneness by inserting the tip of a sharp knife or fork into the middle.  Do not overcook!  Especially if you have a nice piece of Wild Alaskan Salmon, which is high on the chart of sustainability!  Spoon this mustard dill sauce over the fish on the plate.  I used dried dill, but if you have fresh dill this dish will taste even better.  Put a whole bunch in after chopping it!  Maybe a half cup of fresh dill would be the right amount.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Broccoli With Garlic

Hopefully you already realize that eating plants is better for the planet than eating meat.  Animals that are raised for human consumption tend to pollute the environment in many ways.  Animals raised on factory farms are often fed antibiotics routinely so that the animals will not get sick in the unsanitary, crowded conditions in which they live.  These drugs get into the environment through the animal waste, seeping into the soil and waterways.  This can, in turn, affect wildlife.  The antibiotics fed to farm animals also lead to antibiotic-resistant strains of diseases that can threaten human health.  Eating many different vegetables as part of your meals allows you to eat less meat, and thereby help improve the Earth's health.  Having a repertoire of interesting ways to quickly prepare vegetables makes it easier to serve a nice variety with your meals.  This recipe makes a nice side dish that is suitable to accompany many different flavors.

Bunch of broccoli
2 cloves of garlic, pressed
olive oil
black pepper
toasted onion flavored sea salt (use plain sea salt if this flavor is not available)
½ tomato, chopped

Cut broccoli into florets.  Heat olive oil in large skillet.  Add garlic to hot olive oil and stir, then add broccoli and stir while cooking, attempting to get oil and garlic over as much broccoli as possible.  While cooking, sprinkle paprika and sea salt over all and stir.  Grind fresh black pepper over broccoli while cooking.  Add chopped tomato and stir.  Turn off heat and allow residual heat to finish cooking the dish.  Drizzle with additional olive oil.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Beet, Goat Cheese and Candied Walnut Salad

Baby beets
mixed salad greens
crumbled goat cheese
candied walnuts

Roast about 1 baby beet per person:  wrap beets in foil and roast for about an hour at 400 degrees, check to see if tender with a fork.  Cook longer if needed.  Cool and peel before slicing for salad.


1 garlic clove, pressed
¼ tsp Dijon mustard
¼ tsp sugar
¼ tsp sea salt
2 TBS white balsamic vinegar
5 TBS olive oil
fresh ground black pepper to taste

Mix all in jar.

For each individual salad, put a pile of mixed salad greens  on bottom, then sliced roasted beets, then sprinkle crumbled goat cheese and a few candied walnuts on top.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Wild Mushroom Sauce for Pasta

Use the mushroom broth from the last blog post as a base for this sauce.  Mushrooms have a meaty flavor, so they are perfect for a vegetarian main dish that is suitable even for meat lovers!

Makes enough sauce for up to 2 pounds of pasta
1 ½ pounds assorted mushrooms (hen in the woods, shiitake, cremini, button), cleaned and sliced; stems removed from shiitake
1 TBS butter
2 TBS olive oil
½ tsp rosemary
½ tsp sea salt
1 cup red wine
2 cups wild mushroom broth
1 leek, chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
¼ cup chopped parsley
¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus additional for individuals to add to taste at the table
truffle oil

Heat butter and olive oil in large skillet.  Add leeks and cook until just starting to brown.  Add shiitake mushrooms and cook for a few minutes, then add other mushrooms.  Add rosemary and salt.  Cook until mushrooms are soft,   Add mushroom broth and red wine.  Simmer until liquid is reduced to a consistency suitable for tossing with pasta.  Add salt and pepper to taste, parsley and Parmigiano Reggiano and stir to combine.  Drizzle a little truffle oil over all.  Serve over pasta, with additional grated Parmigiano Reggiano for people to add to taste at the table.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Wild Mushroom Broth

This broth can be used in place of beef broth or chicken broth in soups and sauces, in case you are a meat eater who wants to try to eat fewer animal products to help save the planet.  If you are a vegetarian, you probably already know about substituting vegetable broth for meat broth, but maybe this will just add something to your repertoire.  The mushrooms give it a rich, meaty flavor.  I used the parts of the leek that I usually throw away for the broth, since I discard all the solids after extracting their flavors.  This seems economical and green (as it is green to use rather than throw away).  My next post will be for a mushroom sauce to serve with pasta, which uses this broth.  Stay tuned!
about 1 cup mixed dried mushrooms (porcini, wild forest, shiitake)
enough boiling water to cover in bowl (about 2 cups)
about 3 TBS olive oil
½ large Vidalia onion, chopped into chunks
2 garlic cloves, pressed
green top and bottom stem of 1 leek
3 carrots, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 TBS herbs de Provence
1 ½ tsp cabernet sauvignon-infused sea salt (or plain sea salt, if unavailable)

Soak dried mushrooms in bowl with boiling water to cover for about an hour.
Heat olive oil in large pot and sauté Vidalia onion until just beginning to brown.  Add garlic cloves, then leeks and carrots.  Pour in 10 cups water and dried mushrooms and their soaking liquid.  Add rest of herbs and vegetables.  Bring to boil.  Simmer for 2 hours.  Strain.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Super-Easy Barbeque-flavored Pork Stew

This dish won't help you become a vegetarian.  My family, as I have said before, sometimes craves meat, and I can only get away with vegetarian offerings for a limited number of days-in-a-row.  If you can reduce the number of days in a week that you serve meat for dinner, you are still moving in the right direction.  Use this recipe for one of those days when you have to break down and satisfy those carnivore cravings.  Help offset the resulting degradation to the planet by purchasing meat that is humanely raised.  If you can find a local source for your pork, that is best.  If your grocer has a source of meat that is not local but at least from a smaller, family farm, that is better than most.  If the pigs were allowed lots of space to live and eat in, and were able to eat grass, they polluted the earth less than they would have if they lived in factory-farm conditions.  Their healthy lives translate into healthier eating for you, too.  If you have trouble buying this kind of meat because it costs more, you can justify it by eating cheap beans and rice another night.  Also, it actually costs society more through the pollution costs that show up elsewhere.  So if you can spend the money on more expensive local meat and still survive economically, you should do it.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Banana Chocolate Chip Rice Pudding in a Slow Cooker

Wow.  This one is a real winner.  Necessity is the mother of invention, and with my oven not working, I was in search of a dessert I could do in my slow cooker.  I had a lot of leftover rice in the fridge, so I decided to put a twist on one of my kids' favorite desserts, rice pudding, which I usually cook in a casserole dish in the oven.  They also love Banana Chocolate Chip cake, so I thought I would use that winning combination of bananas and chocolate chips together with rice pudding, do it in the slow cooker, and see how it turned out.  It's fantastic!  Try it, you'll love it!  And it is OH-SO-EASY!

Serves 4

2 bananas
2 cups cooked rice
2 cups milk
2 TBS butter, plus additional to butter inside of slow cooker
¼ cup honey
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
¼ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla

Butter the inside of the slow cooker.  Mash the bananas and mix all ingredients together in the slow cooker.  Cook on high for 3 hours.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Lime Cilantro Flounder

Serves 4

1 ½ lbs. flounder fillets
¼ cup flour
¼ cup cornmeal
1 ½ tsp. lime-infused coarse sea salt (or just coarse sea salt, if you don’t have lime-infused handy)
zest from 1 lime
dash cayenne
freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 TBS olive oil
2 TBS butter

juice from 2 limes
1 tsp. soy sauce
¼ tsp. Caribbean Hot Sauce
¼ tsp. grated ginger or ginger juice

¼ cup chopped cilantro

Mix flour, cornmeal, salt, black pepper, cayenne, and lime zest together on a large plate.  Dip flounder filets in mixture to coat thoroughly, then lay flat on a piece of wax paper on a cutting board or some other flat surface.

Heat large skillet over medium high heat.  When hot, put 2 TBS olive oil and 1 TBS butter in pan and swirl to coat pan.  Lay as many flounder filets as fit comfortably into the pan.  Saute until golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes.  Flip and brown on other side.  Remove to plate and keep warm (I cover with foil).  Add additional 2 TBS olive oil and 1 TBS butter to pan and sauté another batch of flounder filets until golden brown on each side.  Do a third batch if necessary.

Mix sauce ingredients (lime juice, soy sauce, hot sauce, ginger) together in small bowl.  Spoon over fillets on plate to serve.  Sprinkle chopped cilantro on top.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Eggs, Residual Heat and Hard-Boiled Eggs

This picture shows 2 eggs from a local farmstand and 4 eggs from a carton of Trader Joe’s Organic Eggs that I bought at a Trader Joe’s store.  Can you tell which ones are from the farmstand?  (They are the darker colored ones, at approximately 12:00 and 3:00 positions).  There is a difference in eggs.  The color of the yolk reflects the food that the chicken ate.  Chickens that eat weeds and other things that grow will provide greater nutrition and more intensely colored yolks than caged hens on factory farms that eat only grain or pellets.  The term “organic,” when applied to eggs, simply means that the chickens ate organic feed.  It does not mean that the chickens were allowed to roam freely on the farm.  “Free Range,” when applied to eggs, means that the chickens were allowed to roam freely, but not necessarily in a large space, as you might envision.  Michael Pollan’s book The Omnivore’s Dilemma describes how little space is actually required for a chicken to be labeled “free range.”  If you know that the chickens laying your eggs live on a small farm or even in someone’s backyard with a few other chickens, you can imagine that they have plenty of time and space to roam around, eating grass, bugs, and whatever else they can find.  These foods make the chicken healthier and their yolks a brighter yellow or orange, depending upon what exactly they are consuming.  You are better off consuming these eggs than organic supermarket eggs or especially non-organic, non free-range, supermarket eggs.  In Connecticut, we have a brand called “Farmer’s Cow,” which supplies eggs and milk (also half and half and ice cream).  They sell only in Connecticut, New York and Southern New England.  Their products are not labeled organic, but I think it is healthier to buy products from small local farms than from large organic farms, and it is certainly “greener” to buy from a small local farm than from an organic farm that is far away and requires significant resources for transportation to your kitchen.  If you live in a different region of the country, you should investigate local brands that might be available to you that can supply you with eggs and other products from small farms where chickens live the way they do in children’s story books.  If your grocery store doesn’t have local products, perhaps you can find a farmer’s market that has eggs for sale.

Another thing that I wanted to discuss today was the use of residual heat in cooking.  Using residual heat, by turning off the stove or oven before you finish cooking something, and allowing the heat that is still there for some time to finish cooking your food, you save energy and reduce your carbon footprint.  It is a small thing, but if you start thinking about doing this and make it a habit, you are taking one of many baby steps that will make a difference.  Doing lots of small things, and thinking about the impact your actions have on the planet, will reduce the amount of fossil fuels that need to be extracted from the earth and the amount of carbon emissions that pollute the environment and cause climactic havoc.

As an example, you can use residual heat to boil eggs.  I made hard-boiled eggs this morning, with some beautiful eggs given to me by a friend who raises chickens in her backyard.  I put them in a pan with cold water, covered the pan and turned the stove on.  As soon as the water started to boil, I turned off the stove and let them sit on the stove for about twenty minutes.  You can probably do it in less time than that (maybe 10 minutes), but I got distracted.  Then just peel and eat!  Yum!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Vegan Banana Juice Smoothie

When I used to live in Japan, I frequently went to coffee shops and ordered my favorite drink they offered, "banana jusu" (pronounced "joo-soo").  I think that it consisted of banana, milk, honey, and ice.  It was frothy and cold.  The best ones had a thick banana flavor, so I think they might have included a greater proportion of banana.  I tried to recreate it when I returned to the U.S.  Today I am offering you a vegan version, substituting rice milk for cow's milk.  If you are a strict vegan and don't consume honey, you can try substituting your favorite sweetener.  A delicious, wholesome snack for kids and adults alike!

Serves 2

8 oz. unsweetened rice milk
2 ripe bananas
1 TBS honey
6 ice cubes

Blend all ingredients together in a blender.  That's it!  Makes about 16 ounces.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Slow-Cooker Vegetable Curry

I made this last night and have written the instructions to mimic the procedure I used, which involved adding vegetables at different stages of cooking.  I did this because I thought that the cauliflower might seem overcooked if it cooked for the same amount of time as the potatoes and onions, and that the peas and green beans (I used frozen) also might be overcooked if they were cooked for a long time.  If you are looking for something you can put together all at once in the morning and forget about it, I encourage you to try this and just put all the vegetables in together.  I expect it will turn out just fine.  Also, I actually used some leftover cauliflower that I had cooked in orange juice, in addition to some raw cauliflower, so I translated this into just putting some orange juice into the mix.  If you happen to have leftover cauliflower cooked in orange juice (see my post last month for microwaving broccoli in orange juice; I do the same thing with cauliflower for a quick and easy side dish), feel fry to use that instead!  I served this curry over brown basmati rice that I cooked in a rice cooker.  My husband and I both thought this dish was delicious, while the kids thought it was "OK."  Eating a wholesome vegetarian meal like this is sustainable eating, though!  Especially if you can procure as many of the ingredients locally as possible.  Also, I think that appliances such as slow cookers and rice cookers are more energy efficient than stovetop cooking, because the appliances are insulated and/or pressurized, thus applying heat more effectively.  

Friday, February 10, 2012

Wholesome Breadmaker Bread

I started this recipe with a recipe for oatmeal bread that is in my Cuisinart breadmaker recipe book.  I made a few changes, which make it a little more wholesome than the original and just as good!

Makes a 2 lb. loaf

1 ½ cups buttermilk
2 TBS unsalted butter
1 ½ tsp sea salt
3 TBS maple syrup
3 TBS ground flax seed
3 cups bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats
2 tsp vital wheat gluten
2 tsp yeast

Put ingredients in breadmaker in order recommended by your machine’s manufacturer, bake on regular cycle, medium crust.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Chicken and Rice

I am pretty sure that it is better for the planet to eat plants vs. animals.  Raising animals for human consumption contributes to lots of environmental degradation.  When you talk about large factory farms, it can also mean that you are risking your health.  Michael Pollan, in his book, The Omnivore's Dilemma, describes horrific conditions for animals at some large farms.  Even large organic farms don't sound that great, for the animals.  We would intuitively conclude that animals living in unhealthy conditions would be unhealthy themselves, and thus we risk our own health if we consume unhealthy animals.  Also, I heard on the news yesterday that supermarkets sell poultry that is routinely soaked in sodium, leading to high sodium intake for people who consume such poultry.  However, my husband and children love meat, so I cook it regularly.  I never buy beef in the supermarket, because I am concerned about Mad Cow Disease.  I only buy beef that comes from small farms, usually locally, and I rarely, if ever, order beef in a restaurant, unless I know and trust the source of their beef (such as a local farm).  I am lucky to have discovered a small local farm that provides me with most of my beef.  The farmer showed me where the cows live and what they eat, so I trust that I am eating meat from healthy animals.  I have not found an easy source of other local meat products, though in the summer I can buy lamb and chicken from farmers at the farmer's market.  A locally owned grocery store nearby sells chicken from a family farm in Connecticut (where I live), so I usually buy my chicken there.  I'll have to look into whether they soak it in salt water before selling it.  I hope they don't.  If you take these kinds of steps and think about where your meat comes from, you are helping to improve the planet and you are eating food that is better for you.  That is how I define green planet eating.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Slow Cooker Chocolate Bread Pudding with Vanilla Cardamon Sauce

This is a variation of the bread pudding I posted last month.  Note that I suggest that you make sure the vanilla ice cream you use does not contain high fructose corn syrup.  If you want to totally understand why you should try to avoid foods with high fructose corn syrup, view the clip at the bottom of my blog for a thorough and scientific explanation.  Warning:  it takes about an hour to view the whole thing, but it is fascinating and easy for a non-scientist to understand.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Microwave Sesame Snow Peas with Soy and Ginger

This is a really simple and tasty side dish that goes well with all kinds of main dishes, especially Asian ones.  The ginger makes a huge difference.  I found this ginger juice at my local gourmet store, and keep it in my refrigerator as a staple.  It tastes as good as fresh ginger, in my opinion, and is extremely handy.  If you can’t find it, you could, of course, use a little grated fresh ginger instead (that would be even greener than using bottled, because you eliminate the factory that processes and bottles the ginger juice!)  The brand I use is made by The Ginger People/Royal Pacific Foods, Marina, CA, USA, 1-800-551-5284, in case you want to go to great lengths to obtain it!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Cauliflower with Garlic, Coriander, Sea Salt and Olive Oil

My favorite way to cook cauliflower and/or broccoli is to roast it in the oven with lots of garlic, ground coriander, salt and olive oil.  Unfortunately, my oven is broken, so I decided to try using a skillet instead.  It turned out great!  So you can follow this recipe using a skillet, or you could change it by putting the ingredients on a cookie sheet in a 450 degree oven for about 20 minutes, tossing and checking throughout the time, and you will get a similar result.