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.

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


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!