Archive for April, 2010

April 28, 2010

Meatless Miercoles

As recommended in some of my favorite reads, Diet for a Hot Planet and Food Matters,  we have been trying to purposefully plan at least one meatless meal/day a week, and I thought that we could try Meatless Mondays.  However, Meatless Monday didn’t happen this week (there were some ribs defrosted over the weekend that just needed to be cooked…), but the adults had a Meatless Martes, and we all had a Meatless Miercoles.  I’m pretty sure that trying to reduce your footprint on the planet by having meatless meals isn’t restricted to Monday, right?  So what did we eat?  Last night, we had a mushroom-spinach pizza (frozen, I fear), with a side of sautéed mitake mushrooms and wonderful salad from the market.  The kids had cheese tortellini, but the boys had a homemade tomato-meatball sauce.  The ribs were gone too, so I’m pretty sure someone had those for lunch!

Tonight, we all accomplished the meatless goal.  We made one of our favorites, red lentils and rice, based on a Mark Bittman recipe, from How to Cook Everything I have been noticing that variants on red lentil dal were recently featured on the Tea & Cookies blog, and in Eat My Globe, and was glad that one of our basic meatless meals is enjoyed by so many.  If you haven’t tried to prepare red lentils, I highly recommend them.  Quick, easy, delicious, and amenable to many different palates – key requirements for a weeknight dinner in our house. Accompanied by farmer’s market spinach sautéed with garlic, and the original Major Grey’s Mango Chutney, and a lovely malbec, it was just what we all wanted. Well, what most of us wanted. I must note that the picky eater had sunny side up eggs and toast, and asserted that she is not a food separatist, because, she said, she was dipping her toast in her eggs.  Her older brother then asked her about lasagna…her response:  eeew!  Ah well, we will continue to encourage her to taste new foods, and will wait to see what’s on her plate when she is 25.

April 26, 2010

Groceries at the library

So this was not what I planned to blog about, but I just ran across this on FB …and since it brings together two of my passions, I had to post about it.  For those of us fortunate to have access to farmer’s markets, multiple excellent grocery stores, and more speciality stores than fingers on two hands, it is easy to forget that many many individuals don’t have access to these basic sources of healthy food.  So, when I read this NPR article about Baltimore making it possible for people to order their groceries and then pick them up at the local library, I needed to post about it. Reading is as basic to life (at least by my count) as is “real food” (according to most everyone!).  Why not provide a reason to come to the library and a means to have access to the foundational food that many of us take for granted?  So, to learn more about this innovative solution to food deserts, read more here and think about what you can do to improve access to healthy food for those who need it most.

April 24, 2010

East West Grill

It’s seven pm, you just got home from an eleven-hour (awesome) field trip with your fifth graders, you’re really hungry, and neither parental unit has a dinner plan.  So, what is a family who likes to eat to do?!  Fortunately, we live in an area where that challenge is easy to address.  One of our new recent favorite options is the East West Grill at 2721 North Wilson Boulevard in Clarendon.  Four of the five of us adore the kabobs (lamb and/or seekh kabob), and the picky one adores the rice and naan.  The lamb and seekh kabobs are mouthfuls of wonderful, the sauce is perfect, and the side dishes should really deserve to be eaten as main courses.  The lamb roll is adorned with a delicious yogurt sauce and cucumbers and tomatos and lettuce and rice, and is supposed to be a neater eating option….however, much sauce dripping occurs whenever it is being consumed.  The owner already recognizes us, and tries to make suggestions for the picky one, but she’s content with rice and naan.  And, most important of all, the boys never leave hungry and always want to go to Boccato Gelato (a post for another day).

April 21, 2010

Grass-fed beef

isn’t chewy, tastes like grass, is delicious, flavorful, and… tastes just like regular steak.  Oh well, four out of five noticed a difference!  We purchased a flat-iron steak from Emerald Family Farms at the market on Saturday (brought to the farmer’s market by EcoFriendly Foods), and served it last night.  We prepared it simply – quick fried in butter in the cast-iron pan, served with onions (also fried in butter…), basmati, sauteed spinach with garlic, and a green salad.  Everything from the market except the garlic, rice, and the salad dressing!  Buying meat at the farmer’s market is not actually something we’ve done typically, but since we’re trying to eat meatless meals more regularly and becoming more aware of the horrors of industrial meat production, we’ve made it a priority to be more mindful of where the meat we eat comes from.  Thus, the grass-fed beef.  If you haven’t had any, it’s absolutely worth every penny.

I think that we’ll have to buy some more next week.

April 19, 2010

Waste not, want not

or Finish your peas…the ice caps are melting (Lappe’s Principle 5).  So Lappe is mainly focused on large scale waste, but when I clean the fridge, I’m always amazed at how much food goes to waste.  So, as a family, we’ve been trying to reduce what goes into the garbage/compost.

What are your favorite ways to use up the odds and ends in your fridge?  For us, I think the top four must be:

1. Chicken soup – start with a roasted chicken carcass, add lots of seasoning (including fresh herbs from the garden, of course), onions, garlic, the wilted veggies in the vegetable drawer, and a starch (noodles, leftover rice, or potatoes).  This used to seem very complicated, but it’s become a staple in our house.  It’s so easy to do, and there’s nothing so delicious-smelling as a pot of stock burbling on the burner.

2. Splorch – this is really just a funny name for a smoothie, but it’s one of the kids’ favorite summer drinks.  It involves ice, fruit that’s a bit too old to eat fresh, fruit juice or concentrate, water, and a blender!  Nothing like it when it’s 90 degrees and humid…typical DC weather. The only challenge we face is when the fruit we want to include berries…then our berry-hater is unhappy.

3. Stir fry – when you have a little bit of this, and a little bit of that, and a whole bunch of rice that wasn’t finished the night before, stir fry is a great way to clean out the fridge and make sure to reduce waste.  And our picky eater has become one of the greatest fans of this option – especially when we can add some frozen edamame to the mix.

4. Omelet – see above for stir fry – the key here is that you need cheese and lots of eggs, but if you have those, and a little bit of this, and a little bit of that, then an omelet is a great way to go.  This becomes an even more wonderful meal if you have bread from the farmer’s market, or time to make your own bread.

Readers, your thoughts?

April 17, 2010

Asparagus is here

Asparagus rulesI jumped with joy when I saw that Westmoreland was back at the market, and that there were buckets and buckets of asparagus.  Local asparagus is so sweet and delicious and lovely… a little olive oil, some Chesapeake Bay sea salt, and a 400 degree oven … is it time for dinner yet?!  But I digress. 

More and more farmers are coming to the market, and we are having great fun seeing the market grow to it’s full growing season size.  The market is very green right now – lots of salad greens, mesculin, spinach, arugula, mustard greens, kale, cilantro, green onions.  This past week has been busy in our house, so we still have some arugula and spinach, but we needed our weekly fix of salad fixin’s.

What else?  We loved the mozzarella balls from Blue Ridge Dairy so much last week – a new item for us – that I was sent with a special request to get more. I decided to buy some of their fresh unsalted butter to try on the wonderful bread from Atwater’s that must be purchased every week.  We also purchased some maitake mushrooms from Mother Earth Organic Mushrooms  — the plan is to sautee those  in the fresh butter, and serve them with a grilled flat iron steak from Emerald Family Farms, and sweet potato fries (still have sweet potatoes from last week’s shop).  If I’m really lucky, I’ll convince the man of the house to make an apple pie with our apples from Toigo

We didn’t make it to the market in time to get eggs, but we do have some pork sausages and fresh bread that will be accompanied by fresh feta cheese and apple cider for Sunday morning breakfast.  Then the rest of the week, we’ll enjoy the Middle Eastern cucumbers as a snack or in salads, fresh mozzarella the rest of our greens in salads, and our bounty.  Right now it feels like living the local life is easy….and we are incredibly grateful that we have an active farming community to make it possible.  All that’s left to say is “Yum.”

April 15, 2010

Eat and be happy

This is the focus of an article, Captain of the Happier Meal in the May/June 2010 issue of Eating Well. According to the research of Dr. Hibbeln, consuming too many foods packed with omega-6-rich oils and too few packed with omega-3s may be related to depression and poor mental health.  So, he recommends, change your diet!  Who knew?!  I mean, I knew that it was good to pay attention to getting more omega-3-rich food in our diets, but knew nothing about omega-6s.  As I read the article further, I learned that we currently consume much more omega-6s than we need (10 to 25 times more omega-6s than omega-3s), and much of that is because of our overconsumption of processed foods – made with corn, soy, and safflower oils.  And, as I’ve been learning from my ongoing reading of Diet for a Hot Planet, the meat that most of us consume is grain fed – and guess what those grains are? Corn and soy.  So, the meat that we eat is contributing both to climate change … and to the human species’ negative vibe.  As a psychologist, I know that the brain is mostly fat, but it never really clicked how important diet is to the composition of our brains! So, more reason to reduce our meat consumption, increase veggie and fruit input, and try to introduce more omega-3-rich fish into our diet…

Another reason for us all, including the Family Foodie, to think twice about the food we put in our mouth.  Now, I’m not sure how I’m going to convince my seafood hater to eat more seafood, but I have some good ideas about what I need to consider when I shop for or prepare the snacks that he’s always looking for.

April 11, 2010

Leanin’ Toward Local

For our family, the most fun part about the “lean toward local” principle is that it begins every week with a trip to the Farmer’s Market.  If we don’t start our Saturday there, the whole weekend is ruined.  Fortunately, with the beautiful weather, going to the market is even more fun. We clearly aren’t alone in our devotion to the market – the Arlington Courthouse Farmers’ Market was buzzing with folks on Saturday.  Although this is a year-round market, with the arrival of spring, more farmers opened today, and there were even lines at many stalls! 

Our bags were heavy at the end of the trip – here’s what we took home with us, and the farmers we visited.  Eggs and bacon, from EcoFriendly Foods; fresh mozzarella from Blue Ridge Dairy; feta from Fields of Grace Farm; spinach; salad mix from Red Rake Farm; two loaves of bread from country white and cranberry pecan from Atwaters; and then sweet potatoes, Yukon gold potatoes, apples,  and apple cider from Twin Springs Fruit Farm.  What’s great, and what makes us eager for next Saturday, is that we’ve already consumed the bread, all but two eggs, the bacon, the mozzarella, most of the cider, a third of the salad, and half of the sweet potatoes!  With five of us, it’s amazing how quickly the food disappears…

April 7, 2010

Dinner with the Family Foodie

How do the foodies in our house survive given the challenges presented by highly divergent and demanding taste buds coupled with strong opinions?  We compromise.  A glimpse into our dinner tonight will demonstrate how.  It will also document how we are trying to do our small part to contribute to saving the planet.  So, my current reading material is Diet for a Hot Planet (review to follow once I finish it on The Bookshelf).  Having read the first two chapters, and feeling a need to “take action,”  I wanted to see how a  typical weeknight dinner fit with Lappé’s action principles.

On the MENU:

                Chilled Lettuce Soup

                Potato Tortilla, served with sour cream and salsa

                Sweet Potato Fries

                French Bread

Principle 1: Reach for real food.  We’re doing okay on this one, I think. Lettuce, organic vegetable broth, onions, eggs, sweet potatoes, and French bread.  Except I wonder – the French bread is from a Pillsbury tube – does that count as real food?

Principle 2: Put plants on your plate.  Okay, this is a vegetarian feast – and the broth in the soup is vegetable, not chicken, per the recipe that inspired it from today’s New York Times.

Principle 3: Don’t panic, go organic.  The vegetable broth is certified organic, and most of the produce is from the Arlington Courthouse Farmer’s Market.  But the eggs and the cream and the butter and the olive oil are all from the supermarket, and are not organic.

Principle 4: Lean toward local. This meal definitely leans toward the local.  From the farmer’s market, we are using: lettuce, onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes. The salsa used is a local product from New Mexico, brought by a friend from New Mexico.  Does that count as local when we live outside of DC?  Anybody know?

Principle 5: Finish your peas…. the ice caps are melting. Well, the chilled lettuce soup was prepared because my fridge froze my lettuce, and it just wasn’t going to work as salad.  The hard boiled eggs that our picky eater consumed are from the Easter egg hunt completed on Sunday.  But, I didn’t compost everything that I know I should have because the gardener’s not home, and I’m not quite sure what I could and should put in the compost.

Principle 6: Send packaging packing.  Given the veggie focus, packaging is relatively light – but the eggs were in Styrofoam containers not good.  The seltzer water that we served with dinner came from our Sodastream machine – no bottled water!

Principle 7: DIY food.  Other than the French bread loaf, everything else was prepared at home from scratch!! Yeah!! Of course, I had time to cook tonight…..

So, what do you think?  How are we doing?  We are certainly sustaining ourselves with this meal…and hopefully helping the globe along a little too.

April 3, 2010

The blessings of the farmer’s market

How wonderful to begin Saturday morning with a trip to the farmer’s market.  Although we try to go every weekend all year long, it is much easier to get motivated to go when the weather welcomes the trip.  It’s April in Virginia, and the stalls are expanding.  Not only did we get our bread and mushrooms, favorite root vegetables (go sweet potatos!) and apples, but we were able to stock up on green items….Middle Eastern cucumbers, spinach, salad, and argula.  Given that I’m in the midst of reading Diet for a Hot Planet, it’s good to know that shopping local is something we can do, and love doing.

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