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.