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.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Thai Shrimp and Vegetable Spring Rolls and Green Papaya Salad

Yesterday I had the good fortune of attending a Thai cooking demonstration by restauranteur Brenda Kou, who owns 3 Thai restaurants in Omaha, NE, including Thai Kitchen Lakeside.  She taught me and a few other women how to make these very easy and delicious Thai dishes.

In order to make cooking and eating these delicacies as sustainable as possible, consider the following:
Source as many vegetables as you can from local organic farms.  By supporting local farmers, you are reducing the use of fossil fuels used in transportation of food, thereby reducing your carbon footprint.  Organic farming practices work to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, so again you are further reducing your carbon footprint by supporting organic farmers.  In contrast, the manufacturing of synthetic fertilizers used in conventional farming releases large amounts of greenhouse gases, so purchasing foods that were produced using synthetic fertilizers (which includes animals fed grains that were grown using synthetic fertilizers), unfortunately, contributes to the release of greenhouse gases into our atmosphere and therefore to climate change.  I don't mean to make anyone feel guilty about eating.  (I am unable to choose exclusively local organic produce, after all, so I am far from perfect.)  The important thing is to recognize the impact that your individual actions can have on the environment and to consider this when you have choices about the source of your food.  One of the environmental benefits of the recipes here is that they use minimal amounts of energy for cooking, so in that respect the preparation of these food items is better for the planet than the preparation of food that requires larger amounts of energy for cooking!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Twosie Bean and Vegetable Soup for Cold Weather

A few days ago, I noticed some beautiful dried beans in the bulk food section of the market I was shopping at.  They were labelled Jacobs Cattle Trout Beans.  They are large, creamy white with mottled red blotches.  I soaked them overnight, then cooked them in plenty of water in a stock pot with half an onion, some fresh parsley and a dried chipotle pepper (my favorite method of flavoring vegetarian dishes with a meaty flavor).  After about 45 minutes, I added some salt.  I cooked the beans for a little more than an hour in all, then I drained them for use in this and other recipes.

The next day, I started thinking about what I would make for that night's dinner.  I knew I wanted to use those beautiful beans, which I imagined would have a buttery, earthy, delicious taste.  I started looking for inspiration in a vegetarian cookbook that I had and some of my favorite food blogs.  I wasn't really finding anything that grabbed me.  So I decided to create my own recipe using local vegetables that I had in my refrigerator:  turnips, carrots, leeks, tomatoes, swiss chard and a new vegetable (for me) that I had never cooked with before:  parsley root.  I just learned about parsley root within the past couple of days.  I can't remember exactly where I read or heard about it, but someone was either writing or talking about cooking, and recalling that her grandmother (I was imagining a European peasant woman) always flavored soups and stews with parsley root.  This was the first time I had even heard of parsley root, and then the very next day I saw it in the produce section of the supermarket.  I was so excited!  The produce manager in the store told me that the greens on top of the parsley root were actually parsley, so I got fresh parsley in the same "package," which I also utilize in this recipe.

I saw the first snowflakes of the season fall that afternoon, as my soup simmered on the stove.  Hearty vegetable soup and wintery cold weather:  a perfect combination!