Posts Tagged ‘Cooking’

Vegan, soy-free rhubarb crisp

I’ve made this rhubarb crisp a few times and am always surprised how delicious it is. I have heard rhubarb can be a tad bitter but this recipe makes it shine. You could also trying adding strawberries or blueberries if you like but the flavor here is abundant as is.

Note: double this recipe if you want two crisps. Also, this is soy-free and vegan. You would never be able to tell.

Crust/topping:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup oats (quick-cook or old-fashioned is fine)
  • 1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/3 c. canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Filling:

  • 4 cups diced rhubarb (about 4 rhubarb stalks)
  • 1 cup sugar (beet sugar)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix together the crust/topping ingredients. Then divide and press half of the crumbly mixture into a greased 9-inch square baking pan. Cover with diced rhubarb. In a small saucepan combine sugar, cornstarch, water, and vanilla. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened. It takes about 10 minutes, but goes from thin to thick right near the end. Pour over the rhubarb evenly and then top with remaining crumb topping. Bake at 350° for about 45 minutes. Cut in squares and serve warm either plain or with ice cream (try Turtle Mountain Coconut milk ice cream to keep it vegan).

Feeds about eight hungry people.

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Quinoa-Stuffed Summer Squash

Remember that time I made a blog about food and sustainability and then left it high and dry? Sorry about that. I am working on finding my blog-groove and since this site surprisingly is still getting hits (thank you, restaurant reviews) and I don’t intend to stop photographing food and cooking with local ingredients any time soon, I think it makes sense to keep it going. Further, I’ll be posting a brief synopsis of the meal + the ingredients and what I paid for them over at my other blog Talking on Common Ground. Because I like to show evidence of how cooking locally and eating sustainably is practical. Other stipulations: I have the attention span of a 5-year-old and the free-time of…well…a 22-year-old, so I’ll never post a recipe that takes longer than an hour to make (minus slow cooker deals) or has more than 10 ingredients. So that’s the story.

First up, a recipe I made with my roommate Hilary a few weeks back that I never got around to posting. It was adapted from the cookbook Vegan with a Vengeance, which was a stuffed pepper recipe, but since that day I had gone to the farmers market and come home with about 10 squashes (that the farmer had just given me for free!) Hil and I decided to make stuffed summer squash.

Quinoa-Stuffed Summer Squash

1. Saute 3 diced medium onions and 3 cloves of garlic, minced in 2 T. olive oil. Feel free to throw in mushroom or diced bell pepper if that suits your fancy. Saute for 5 minutes. Then add 1 T. chile powder and salt to taste (1 tsp.)

2. Then, add 1/2 c. quinoa, 1 c. tomato sauce, /4 c. water. Turn the heat down slightly and let it all simmer covered for 20-30 minutes.

3. Pre-heat the oven to 350F. Cut the squash in half, then do a criss-cross pattern over the seeds part and take all that out and set aside.

4. Parboil the squash for about 5 minutes so they cook a bit and retain their color/nutrients.

5. When the onion-quinoa mixture is done and the squashes are parboiled, add the squash “meat” to the quinoa and carefully without burning yourself, stuff them with the quinoa. Place them on a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes!

Vegan! Soy-free! Local! Full of nutrition, tasty and filling!

Sweet and soy grilled salmon & flowers to make my apartment a home

Well, now I have tons of stuff to blab about. I am debating if I should break all of this up into separate posts? Yes, yes I should.

OK. Now. I do want to talk a bit about what’s the deal with how I changed my blog theme (and ask for your opinion, although it’s not done yet so I guess that doesn’t matter…) and announce that I did indeed graduate last weekend and I managed not to trip across the stage or forget to bring my name card or some other Kelly-like embarrassing thing, in addition to lots of other mushy crap about how much I love everyone who’s been reading my silly blog over the past semester and told me how much they enjoy it. I also want to talk about where this blog is going now that my independent study is over (I got an A, in case you were wondering, and even though it’s “over” I am thinking I may following in Jacquie’s footsteps and try to print up my most relevant posts up and bind them together. I might be good to show future potential employers, no? I can’t quit you, blog!)

Anyhow, all of that can wait because I made this delicious salmon dinner for a friend and I Thursday and holy crap. Ah-mazing.

Let’s discuss.

I decided I wanted to go all out and get that most sustainable salmon available at Whole Foods (Wild King Alaskan, $24/lb.), which in my humble opinion, tastes the absolute best. I ended up buying two 1-inch (at the thickest) fillets for $17.

Here’s what I did.

Sweet & Soy Grilled Salmon with Avocado, Capers, and Red Onion

Combine in a bowl the following:

  • 1/4 c. olive oil (exact amounts don’t really mater, you might need more if you are marinating larger fillets)
  • a few T. of soy sauce (I don’t know how much, I just poured the rest of the bottle in)
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • a dash or seven of garlic powder, depending on how much you love garlic

Yeah so swirl all that stuff around and plop your salmon fillets in and if you are super fancy and have a brush, coat them with the marinade. Then cover the bowl and pop in the refrigerator. Mine marinated for about 7 hours, but I am sure you could do for much less time, probably even 3-4 hours would suffice.

Then, slice up some avocado and some red onion and tomatoes (if you want) and drain some capers. Whatever you love on salad. You could also do a couple hard-boiled eggs using Jaden’s method (from the Steamy Kitchen) that makes the egg somewhere in between soft-and hard-boiled. I opted to leave the egg out. I initially was going to use Jaden’s recipe for a grilled salmon sandwich but then decided to use a marinade for the salmon…and then never actually made the dressing and I also made a salad instead of a sandwich…so really my dinner ended up totally different and I’m not sure why I am even referencing that recipe aside from the fact that it made me think to use capers, which I never have cooked with before.

By the way, I should also mention that my parents got me three new K. Sabatier knives as a graduation present, and they are fantastic. I have never had nice knives and it feels so nice to be able to actually slice through food without applying pressure. Fabulous. (When you begin asking for things like food processors and knives for presents, does that make you officially old? Yikes.)

I also bought myself a new eco-friendly skilet at Target the other day, which made me laugh because I never would have thought that a skillet could be not eco-friendly but hey, I guess that’s just the direction we are heading and I dig this pan a lot. I made eggs the next morning without a speck of cooking spray and it just slid around the pan like in an infomerical, it was hilarious.

Back to the salmon. You then heat up a skillet to medium-high and set your fillets on it. I ended up grilling the salmon for about 3 minutes each side, but it obviously will depend on how thick your fillet is.

Yes, mom, that’s a band-aid on my thumb. Yes, it’s from the knife. Yes, I will be more careful next time. Yes, I know those knives “could CUT OFF my finger.”

Definitely don’t overcook the fillet. If you have any feeling it might be done, take it off and take a good look at the center–with salmon you don’t really want the rare-ness you might go for with a tuna steak, but it should still be rather pink. Also, about halfway through cooking, throw your onion slices and capers in with the skillet (I much prefer grilled onion over raw.)

Once everything is ready, you plate it all up and voila! We found the salad didn’t really need “dressing” especially if you let the salmon marinate for as long as I did, because it was sooooo juicy and the onions had collected that marinade as well. But do what you like. I suppose you could do a drizzle of honey-dijon or some such over the lettuce if you prefer.

By the way, we drank a Pinot Noir with dinner which was a great pair. Pinot Noir’s are a bit more smooth and sweet, which went well with the hints of brown sugar sweetness in the salmon. (This is me trying to sounds like a foodie. Or a wino that doesn’t know wine, either/or.)

That meal tasted like you would pay at least $25 for it in a restaurant (maybe even more because of the fact that it was Alaskan King salmon, which is the priciest.) But when it came down to it, not including the wine, it  cost about half that to buy all the ingredients. And it was so so worth it. It just melted in your mouth. The best part, for me, is you could almost feel good about eating it knowing that it didn’t have the added dyes and hadn’t been raised in a confined space being fed tons of antibiotics, etc. I’ll spare the nasty details for here.

OK. So not to be all jumbly, but I do want to give you a glimpse into last weekend, in a post later on today or tomorrow in case anyone cares (I’m mainly thinking of relatives…)

…and next up, what I am looking forward to doing today (and hopefully for the rest of my life!)…Yoga! =)

It feels good to be back.

Fun with food processor-ing

Woo! So, this is the final homestretch for school. I have one more final paper for *this* class that I am going to finish up tonight and get turned in and then, I’m done! It’a going to be hard to put all I have learned from this blog into a 2-page paper. How am I going to do that? Wish me luck!

I took this weekend off, quite literally–I slept until 4:30 on Sunday. Who does that? Consequently, I was awake rather late playing with my food processor. And I may have proud mother syndrome but I am going to say, she’s the best, ever. Literally, the best hummus I have ever had. The best almond butter I’ve ever had. Not the best cookies I have ever had–but that’s only because I should have added the chips last…and then would have retained the chip-ness. Instead I got CHOCOLATE COOKIES. Yummy but not what I intended. Also, I made them vegan! Yeah! I have a problem eating regular chocolate because of the dairy content. So these ones didn’t give me…issues.

Jen thinks I could land a husband with this hummus.

“Recipe” – Yummus Hummus

  • 1 can of chickpeas (15 oz.)
  • juice of 2 smallish lemons (keep seeds out!…obviously!)
  • like a couple tsp. of olive oil
  • a couple dashes of salt
  • 1 1/2 T. sesame tahini
  • 1-3 cloves of garlic depending on how much you love garlic and the size of the clove

Put it all in a food processor, zooshzoosh… and you’re done!

OK, I bought all of this because it was on sale 4/$9. and it will last me lunches for a couple weeks.

Dinner! Hummus on a pita with tofurkey = the best.

Chocolate chips that don’t make me feel sick! Yay!

Vegan CHOCOLATE (chip?) and peanut butter cookies

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • cinnamon, a hefty dash or five
  • vegan chocolate chips
  • 1/3 c. white sugar
  • 2/3 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 Earth Balance butter or vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 T. peanut butter because I wanted to get rid of it so I had a jar to store my almond butter in

Basically you put the dry stuff in the food processor with the dough attachment, and in a separate bowl mix the softened butter with the sugar. Add the vanilla last. If you want them to look like mine, put the chips in at the beginning, but if you want them to come out like real chocolate chip cookies, put the in at the end.

This literally was just almonds (one lb. bag for $4.49 at Whole Foods made enough to fill an old PB jar. Meaning making almond butter at home is cost-effective. AND SO MUCH FUN. TRY IT. )

Another amazing thing I did over the weekend: bought a new computer! My old one has been kernel panicking lately (just turns off sporadically), so I decided to splurge and spend some hard-earned babysitting dough.

OK enough messing around. Off to write my paper!

PS: Got any great food processor ideas? Drop me a line 🙂

Communicating the benefits of urban agriculture while innovation grows

The area of urban agriculture has grown by leaps and bounds in just a few years. I think the more people start to realize the feasibility, and soon necessity, of producing their own food, the more it will develop and become even more feasible, affordable, and mainstream. So what are some of the innovations we have seen?

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Innovations in urban agriculture

  • Hydroponics is a method of growing fruits and vegetables in water, which conserves the use of vast areas of farmland and allows crops to be grown in desert areas where they otherwise would not be able to. Further, it is able to also conserve and re-use water that is lost during evaporation or field run-off in traditional soil farming. Also, there is no risk for parasites or weeds to infest the controlled systems in which hydroponic plants are grown, therefore making them largely non-GMO and free of pesticides and chemicals. Bonus: you can grow hydroponically basically anywhere–in an apartment or a house. Eve Bratman has a hydroponic garden on her houseboat that she made entirely on her own from used water bottles and empty jugs.
  • Permaculture is still a bit of a flimsy term, in my opinion, only because it can mean so many different things, and isn’t widely known about. But it basically indicates an “ecologically designed system for sustainability in all aspects of human endeavor.” Permaculture is currently being used in different ways in different places and in all of those places, there is not a unified “permaculture” there are just isolated tactics that build on the idea of a permaculture. For example, think of worm composting, or vermiculture, which is one such tactic which is being carried out in various cities in the country, some even offering workshops and providing free worms and materials to those interested. This provides a sort of mutual symbiosis between two living things–the worms benefits by being fed, humans benefit by receiving rich soil and not filling landfills with compostable garbage. Perhaps a ” perfect permaculture” is the pie-in-the-sky goal we set to achieve, but it is through these mutually symbiotic relationships that we are able to do get closer to that.

    Photo credit: cafedirect

  • Rooftop farming, which can often be combined with hydroponic growing, is typcially used in areas of urban sprawl where soil/ground space is limited, to utilize unused rooftop spaces where sunlight is ample. Eagle Street Rooftop Farm in Brooklyn is one case study that has really taken this concept to a whole new level. They also offer various workshops on cooking, gardening and how the farm works. Their farm grows primarily vegetables, and is open from June through November.
  • Sack gardening is a way for people to grow vegetables in small sack containers, usually when the contamination of the soil around them is too high. It is typically done on a smaller, individual scale, in places where food scarcity is a problem, and in both urban and rural locations.
  • Window farming is another way of using hydroponics, but in a specialized manner and primarily in urban settings. It is a way of using water bottles, water, hydroponic seeds (usually herbs and lettuce and greens like that), along with an low energy-intensive air pump which circulates the water, to grow plants in your window. This type of method is barely “farming,” however, if people were properly instructed on how to best go about making their own, it could be worth looking into. Also, if you live in a city and the view of your outdoors is the brick wall of the building next to yours, this could actually prove to be an improvement to your home, from an aesthetic viewpoint. (Not to mention that having plants in your home has been known to have all sorts of health benefits.)
  • Seasonal cooking would basically just mean knowing what is in season and planning your meals around those items. The fortunate reality is that a lot of us have access to local, fresh fruits and vegetables. However, many people don’t know what to do with a lot of those fruits and vegetables. It would be great to see more community and cooking classes, mobilizing people to learn how to cook just to start, but also to learn how to use local ingredients. Because if the option is there, there’s no reason not to choose local over imported. Epicurious offers an example of a map that can help to inform people about about what to expect is in peak season from their CSA or farmer’s market and how to therefore meal plan to accommodate those ingredients.

So what’s stopping us?

Locations. Some work better in some communities versus others.

Seasons. Not all of these methods can provide food at all times of the year everywhere, (except for the hydroponic ones.)

Culture/Value systems. People are going to have to shift how they think about and value their food, each other, and future generations. These types of methods require more time, patience, research, and money than traditional ways of getting food–going to a restaurant or the grocery store. Which means people are going to have to change the way they think about food. People might have to forfeit some of the time they spend watching television in the evenings in order to tend to their gardens or make time to cook meals from scratch in their homes. They are going to have to learn to appreciate eating with the seasons, and in fact, eating generally less, in quantity.

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Communicating benefits to consumers

While all of these methods of urban gardening and having a local, low carbon-footprint certainly interest some of us, and they are something we would be willing to use, they aren’t all 100 percent practical. Would these methods be used in conjunction with traditional food shopping? Would they slowly replace traditional methods? Or would they just be something some people adopted while others did not?

It’s hard to really know the answer. What I foresee is something quite similar to how companies like, say, Apple, market their products to consumers: first, the innovators get on board. Eve Bratman, my professor with the compost bin and on-the-boat garden, is one such innovator in the field of urban agriculture. Next, there are the early adopters, then the early majority (also called the “pragmatists”),  then the late majority (“the conservatives”), and lastly the laggards. How you move along more quickly is by conveying the importance–the “gotta-have-it” factor–of the technologies.

This reality and challenge is something that excites me, as a student and soon-to-be graduate in the field of communications. I feel like a lot of what is missing in the environmental movement is strategic communication about how and why people should change their behaviors. I think there is a place for communicators to get that message out to the public and I see that as being a huge catalyst for change in the future of the “sustainable movement”.

The way I imagine these sorts of methods becoming more widely accepted is through slow implementation motivated by strategic communication, just like all new technology works. Pilot programs embraced and tested out by the innovators and early adopters will not only provide evidence for the feasibility of certain tactics, but will allow for what doesn’t work to shine through and motivate alterations that can be modeled after later on. This will also allow programs to evolve at a pace that doesn’t freak out the “treehugger-phobics” as I like to call them (the kind of people who, when you “threaten to take away their right to buy bottled water” get all bent out of shape and start spouting off allegations of “fascism”)!

It’s important to communicate knowing that there are going to be those opposing voices when it comes to getting people to change their lifestyles. Which is why I feel when it comes to revolutionizing our food system, especially with tactics that require people to change on a personal level, you have to prove to consumers the benefits, and that change doesn’t have to be just easy, it’s rewarding.

Thank Earth for the beautiful weather this weekend.

This weekend was fun. Friday night I went out with friends and celebrated my birthday. Got to see people who I haven’t been able to see all semester due to jam-packed schedules. It was a good time.

Then Sunday, quite the contrary to the forecasted weather, the sun came out! In fact, it never even drizzled until about 10pm when I was finally arriving home at the end of the night. Which was awesome. So the plans for Sunday went off without a hitch and I was able to make it to the Climate Rally on the mall, hosted by Earth Day Network, and the BBQ my professor threw at Gangplank Marina in southwest D.C.

I had one major complaint about the rally, other than the fact that they didn’t follow their schedule remotely. Which was that they had basically no vegetarian options at the event. Not that I planned to get food there, but it still irritated me. I tweeted about this, and had a lot of people agreeing it was pretty ridiculous. Be the change you want to see in the world, people. It was great to see bands like Passion Pit though. And Jimmy Cliff. Didn’t stay for The Roots but I bet they were great too.

Afterward, we went to the marina for the BBQ. It was really funny and indicative of the “type” of people in my class, but I would say more than half of us were vegetarians. There were plenty of veggie burgers and smart dogs to go around =)  Not to mention all the other delicious goodies that I didn’t really photograph because I’m still getting used to being  “that girl” that takes pictures of all the food (don’t mind doing this in front of friends and family but since I didn’t really know everyone that well…) I think Brad was particularly shocked by the vegetarianism because in Australia, “vego’s” aren’t nearly as common as they are here. They aren’t unheard of, but it’s still seen as a bit weird if you don’t eat meat. But BBQ’s, now those are as Aussie as it gets. So Brad manned the grill much of the time.

I also met Sarah, sister-in-law of Katie from Health for the Whole Self! I love the small world we live in.

The following pictures show the houseboat Eve lives on (the BBQ was on the marina’s “party boat”). She was recently interviewed by Politico about her “green lifestyle.” She’s kind of a big deal. But in all seriousness, she openly confesses that she does all of this stuff not just because she’s is an environmental goddess, as the article paints her as, but because they allow her to live frugally (houseboats are less expensive to live on than a waterfront house on land) and live “lazily” (why would she want to continuously have to refill the boat’s water tank when she could just take shorter showers?)

Worm composting! Yeah, we’re a bunch of eco-dorks. Whatevs.

Look how puffy/tired my eyes look. Totally exhausted from the eco-weekend. Oh also, Brad leaves to explore his next adventure in America/Canada tomorrow. Everyone wish him luck on his journey! I’m jealous. I want to travel…

Before I head off to work on my 8-pg paper on non-violence that I have yet to begin…I wanted to say something.

I guess the one thing that gets on my nerves slightly about Earth Day is the general rhetoric surrounding it. It’s not really about saving the Earth. The Earth isn’t going anywhere. However, certain species are dying and are being threatened, including the human species. The environmental movement should be encompass all people and be about changing our behaviors so that we pollute less, emit less CO2 and contribute less to global warming, sustain our soil nutrition, water, and bio-diversity, and all of the things that contribute to our survival, as humans. In a sense, it’s not really about saving the Earth, it’s about saving ourselves. Or rather, it’s about saving our children and grandchildren. I don’t know if that message would hit home harder for people or not though. And when it comes down it, maybe it’s just an argument over semantics. But I figured I would make that point here and now.

When it comes down to it, in my opinion (there are others who disagree), “saving the planet” is primarily a selfish endeavor. And isn’t that what nature is largely about after all? Survival of the fittest? What do you think? I’m not saying it’s bad to think of it in this sense, I am just saying it could maybe help us to frame the movement in a new way.

I have a few more entries coming up before the end of the semester, one of which is about the importance of our individual responsibilities/possibilities as a species evolving to live in a world where technology exists in harmony with nature, instead of pitted against it. I have written it already for another class, but it’s a bit long so I am going to parse it down so my message isn’t lost.

And, I’m off! Good luck with finals to those who are students and have a great week to everyone else, catch you on the flip side.

When local food serves as preventative care

This week, I finally got to writing about a topic in The Eagle that I have been waiting to cover all semester. The stars aligned perfectly for my column on how we as consumers can make changes to better our health, contribute to “protesting” industrial food as much as possible and help the environment at the same time. In the last few days, this has all happened:

  • On Sunday, the House narrowly passed the health care bill that has been been dividing our country over the past months. On Tuesday, President Obama officially signed the bill,  a monumental event in our nation’s history, however divisive it may be.
  • Sunday night, Chef Jamie Oliver’s new series, “Food Revolution,” previewed on ABC. Chef Oliver will tackle the poor eating habits of the unhealthiest town in the country. I am excited to see what happens.
  • I’ve been working more with our chef/restaurant liaison at Food & Water Watch, Rocky Barnette, who really wants to help us get the word out and connect with people. I was working on editing some of footage of an interview we had with Rocky last week. Should be online soon, so stay tuned.

Anyhow, check out my health column from this week and let’s get a conversation happening. I would love to have your feedback–did I miss anything? AU’s Eco-sense mentioned the community garden in the comments already, which is great. I didn’t mention our garden on campus but hope to be a part of it this year.

Anyhow, this photo is sort of random, but the backstory is that today I tried this new tea at work, Yerba Maté, and it tasted (well, not very good) but also like the kava drink they gave to us when I was in Fiji last July. And I don’t know, I guess I am just feeling beach-sick and reminiscent . Photos like this remind me how much there is worth saving.

PS – Thanks everyone who gave me their feedback on the health care bill via twitter. You can also direct message me or send me an email or write in the comments. I am compiling them all and will post in the next day or two. There’s still time to throw your two cents in the mix. The reason I wanted to do this was to get a sense of how the people around me are feeling, as opposed to what all the talking heads are saying. I will write a post soon about my feelings on health care, which I think is important, since health is half of what I do here.

Have a great Thursday!