Posts filed under ‘Organic Eats’
Goodbye, butter. Hello, ghee! Ayurveda is full of health secrets, such as the Buddha way of eating I recently wrote about. But my latest, tastiest discovery from this ancient science is incorporating ghee into my winter dishes.
A form of clarified butter popular in Indian cuisine, ghee is commonly referred to as liquid gold. With quite a name to live up to, ghee is not only purer than butter (it doesn’t contain impurities like saturated fat or milk solids) but it has incredible medicinal and anti-inflammatory properties that have been touted for centuries.
The following quote from an ancient 16th century Ayurvedic text pretty much sums it up: Ghee is sweet in taste and cooling in energy; rejuvenating, good for the eyes and vision; enkindles digestion; bestows lustre and beauty; enhances memory and stamina; increases the intellect; promotes longevity; is an aphrodisiac and protects the body from various diseases. –Bhavaprakasha
So what have I noticed after cooking with ghee? My hair is shinier, a minor skin irritation I had vanished and my digestion is happy. Plus it makes my dishes heartier for the winter, which is important since I don’t eat meat. But, like any oil or dairy product, quality matters. My favorite ghee is made by Ancient Organics. Though it’s slightly pricier than other brands, it is absolutely delicious – creamy and fragrant – and a little goes a long way.
Prepared in small batches the old-fashioned way, Ancient Organics uses the highest quality organic sweet cream butter by Straus Family Creamery and adheres to the ancient 14-day moon cycle for making the ghee. The ingredients and technique ensure that the end product is healthy, natural, boosts immunity and helps eliminate toxins from the body. Pick up a jar and start making ghee your cooking oil of choice!
When it comes to food portions and conscious eating, the ancient natural science of Ayurveda recommends that you only eat what can fit in your cupped hands. This simple guideline has really helped me get a better sense of how much I should be eating to feel satisfied, not stuffed. Though I like to think portion size doesn’t matter as much since I pile my plate with organic vegetables and grains, the fact remains that calories are calories – no matter where they come from.
With this new eating philosophy, I have become addicted to using my handmade Buddha Bowl for my at-home meals. Created by designer Elan, who runs a small studio in Vancouver, BC and a collaborative studio in Southern California, my bowl is local and sustainable. All the materials, from the clay to the glazes, are from North America, which is great since most other Buddha Bowl manufacturers source internationally.
Holding the bowl while eating gives me a new sense of awareness of what is going into my mouth. Because I can feel the weight of the food, I am more conscious and thankful of the sustenance I am receiving. Try it and see how your perspective on nourishment changes.
I bought two Buddha Bowls – in Butter (yellow) for myself and Pacific (blue) for my boyfriend – on UncommonGoods.com for $19 each. I recommend those colors – they are calming, beautiful and are a shot of color among our neutral-colored dishware!
There’s something about Fall that propels us from the lazy days of summer into a whirlwind of activity. Chalk it up to back-to-school vibes or the crispness of the air around us, but this season always seems to spur transitions of all kinds. A few of my personal changes this Fall have included starting an exciting new job and putting the finishing touches on the re-launch of this website (coming in November 2011!), so I understand how important it is to maintain balance and wellness – and keep the flu at bay.
One of the ways I’ve tried to keep myself healthy is drinking raw juice blends in the morning. Typically I juice whatever is in the fridge – beets, celery, carrots – and throw in apples for sweetness and ginger for spiciness, adding more or less according to taste. Gorgeously Green’s Sophie Uliano recently wrote about the importance of an alkalizing diet this time of year, so many of the vegetables and fruits she recommends are perfect for juicing at home. Or if you need more of a set recipe, check out Kris Carr’s popular Green Juice recipe.
However, if you’re like me, breakfasts are typically rushed and I don’t have time to prepare juices daily. If I know I’m in for a crazy week, I make a Sunday stop at Sidewalk Juice on Valencia Street, which sells delicious, made-to-order organic juices. Ideally you are supposed to drink raw juice the day it is pressed, but I purchase their Green Energy juice (made with spinach, kale, apple, lemon, ginger, celery, parsley and cucumber) in the half-gallon size and drink it daily over the course of a week. The business will even deliver to your home if you’re really swamped. To your health!
Sidewalk Juice is located at 3287 21st Street at Valencia. Call them at (415) 932-6221. The business is open every day from 9am-7:30pm and from 9am-6:30pm during the winter. The half gallon Green Energy blend I buy is $24. Cash only business.
A series of serendipitous events brought me unexpectedly to Soul Food Farm a few weeks back. Situated on a country road in Vacaville, Calif, running parallel to the freeway, this chicken farm is the real deal. Hens stroll about freely and you can pick up the most beautifully colored eggs. Or if you’re in the mood for meat, they have fresh pastured poultry available.
The olive trees on the property enable owners Alexis and Eric Koefoed to produce a full-bodied, earthy organic olive oil. I’ve been sprinkling it generously on my pasta and heirloom tomato dishes, and its flavor is so unique and strong that I really don’t need to add much else. I was also able to buy a jar of deep golden honey, which is so sweet that I only drizzle a little bit into my tea – though with cold season coming up, I have been sneaking a spoonful every now and then as part of my natural flu prevention routine.
If you aren’t able to take a trip out to Soul Food Farm, they offer a CSA box for pickup throughout the Bay Area. The farm takes a winter CSA break starting in December though, so sign up now if you’re interested in stocking up. After all, I heard that Alice Waters sources items from Soul Food Farm, so if it’s good enough for Chez Panisse it’s definitely good enough for your kitchen!
Soul Food Farm is located at 6046 Pleasants Valley Road, Vacaville, CA 95688. Prices may vary, but my eggs were $6, the olive oil was $20 and the honey was $12. Cash or check only. If you want to make a day of it, the farm also holds various events and there is a herb and flower farm down the way, which was unfortunately closed when I visited on Labor Day.
My CSA box has been brimming with summer squash lately. Squash, which is known as one of the “three sisters” (along with corn and beans) of Native American cuisine, is high in key antioxidants that are good for eye health. So to preserve my sight and put something easy and delicious on the table, I created the following vegetarian recipe. Pour a glass of wine and start chopping!
Summer Squash and Zucchini Orzo
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Baking/Cooking Time: 30-40 minutes
Patty Pan Squash – 2 squash, sliced into ¼ inch bite-size chunks
Yellow Zucchini – 4 small zucchini, sliced into ¼ inch bite-size rounds
Yellow Onion – half of the onion cut into slices
Asparagus – 6-8 stalks, cut into 1-inch pieces
Olive Oil – 2 tablespoons
Salt and Pepper – to taste
Grated Parmesan Cheese – ½ to ¾ cup
Orzo – 4 servings
Earth Balance Butter – 2-3 thin slices
Preheat oven to 425 degrees
Combine sliced squash, zucchini, onion and asparagus in large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and add salt and pepper. Mix well.
Spread out vegetables on baking sheet and put in oven for 30-40 minutes. Flip veggies after 20 minutes.
Boil water and cook Orzo according to instructions.
When Orzo is done, immediately drain and mix in Earth Balance slices and grated Parmesan. Let stand, covered, for three minutes to allow butter and cheese to melt. Add baked vegetables, mix and serve! And if you have some fresh basil lying around, tear and sprinkle on top.
Have a craving for Cucumber Ice Milk? How about creamy Saffron? When it comes to quirky dining, even San Francisco’s ice cream shops are on the bandwagon. So while the sun is shining, head over to Humphry Slocombe on Harrison, Xanath on Valencia or Bi-Rite Creamery on 18th Street. All three use organic Straus Creamery dairy to whip up their tasty flavors, which span the gamut from the intriguing (Black Walnut Chocolate at Xanath) to the daring (Boccalone Prosciutto at Humphry Slocombe). Local ingredients are also sourced whenever possible, making for a tasty eco treat you can feel less guilty about.
My top Greenista flavor recommendations? McEvoy Olive Oil at Humphry Slocombe, Saffron at Xanath and Salted Caramel at Bi-Rite Creamery. Like most good things in the City, the lines are worth the wait for something deliciously local!
It’s a rainy summer day in the City, so grab your favorite bamboo blanket and catch up on two of the best sustainable living TV shows out there – “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” and “The Beekman Boys.”
JAMIE OLIVER’S FOOD REVOLUTION
Airing on ABC every Friday at 8pm PST, Jamie Oliver’s second season of battling bureaucracy to bring healthy lunches to schoolchildren finds him in Los Angeles, the capital of fast food. Despite a series of setbacks – i.e. having filming permits revoked, working tirelessly with a local fast food owner stuck in his old ways, being attacked openly at a conference for school lunch cooks – Jamie forges ahead and continues his educational campaign. His passion is inspiring, and even the most savvy organic cooks among us are sure to learn a thing or two. Wait until you see what the coating on shiny candy is made from!
For a recap on the award-winning Season 1 and the recipe for Jamie’s delicious Asparagus & Pesto Risotto, check out my previous post. Trust me, his show will make you want to run the kitchen immediately and start whipping up your own meals!
THE BEEKMAN BOYS
Gentleman farmers Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Dr. Brent Ridge, on the other hand, are approaching sustainable eating in a different way on Discovery Channel’s “The Beekman Boys.” Escaping New York City life to start their own “experiment in seasonal living,” the two purchase the stately and picturesque Beekman Mansion (built in 1802 near Sharon Springs), meet Farmer John and his goats, turn the mansion into a working farm, and begin a cheese and artisanal product line. From goat milk soap to heirloom linens, their products have become so popular that I’ve been on the wait list for the Beekman 1802 Blaak cheese for over half a year!
Josh and Brent’s farm antics, lessons and adventures – from raising a barn to trekking baby sheep to Martha Stewart’s estate – are entertaining and will make you want their “simple” life. I had the chance to meet them at this year’s Green Festival in San Francisco, and they are as friendly and fun in person as they are on camera. Watch reruns and new episodes of the second season on the Planet Green network. Check local listings for times.
Are you into adventurous and sustainable eating? Then you’ll go absolutely crazy for “The Perennial Plate,” an online documentary series that follows activist and chef Daniel Klein as he celebrates real food in America.
I just discovered “The Perennial Plate” and have been devouring the episodes. From urban gardens to Midwestern family farms, Daniel shows how simple food produced in conscious ways transforms people, communities and, most importantly, the dinner table. And he throws in some adventures, such as catching catfish using human fists and going Arkansas frog hunting at midnight. Catch one of my favorite episodes highlighting Sweden Creek Farm’s shitake harvest below!
I am happy to report that my Back to the Roots mushroom harvest was successful! A crop of oyster mushrooms started sprouting around the eighth day, and by the twelfth day they were ready to be picked.
The Back to the Roots’ site has a ton of mushroom recipes – salads, risotto and even casseroles. I, however, chose to create my own simple, organic Mushroom and Caramelized Onion pizza recipe. See my homemade recipe below, which serves 2-3. Bon appétit!
Pizza Dough – after a busy day, I typically grab the refrigerated premade dough at Whole Foods. However, if you’re in the mood for some kneading, you can find some great recipes on AllRecipes.com or FoodNetwork.com
Oyster Mushrooms – entire harvest, washed and sliced
Yellow Onion – half of the onion, sliced
Sugar – two sizeable pinches for caramelizing onions
Mozzarella Cheese – 2 cups, shredded
Goat Cheese – 3 oz., crumbled
Olive Oil – 3 tablespoons
Basil – pinch of dried basil
Oregano – pinch of dried oregano
Pasta Sauce – 1 ½ to 2 cups
Allow dough to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over low-medium heat and sauté oyster mushrooms for 5-8 minutes. Set aside
Preheat oven to 450 degrees
Spread ¾ tablespoon olive oil on pizza baking sheet and roll out dough to desired crust thickness
Rub ½ tablespoon olive oil on top of pizza dough and sprinkle oregano and basil throughout dough surface
Spread pasta sauce all over dough, stopping ½ inch from edge
Sprinkle mozzarella and goat cheese on pizza. Place in heated oven for 15-20 minutes until crust browns. At 15 minutes, pull out pizza and add sautéed mushrooms for remaining 5 minutes
As soon as pizza is in the oven, heat 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil over low-medium heat and throw in onion slices. After 5 minutes, add two sizeable pinches of sugar. Continue stirring for another 15-20 minutes until caramelized
Pull out pizza and add caramelized onions. Let cool for 5 minutes and serve
It doesn’t get any more local than this. With foraging spots in the City becoming more limited (and risky if you aren’t a pro), most of us have had to abandon our fantasies of mushroom picking in Golden Gate Park and instead opt for grocery store or farmers’ market ‘shrooms. However, there’s a new alternative for mushroom seekers – a home-growing starter kit by Back to the Roots.
I came across the mushroom kit while shopping last week at Whole Foods. Conceived by two University of California, Berkeley business students, the Back to the Roots biz model seeks to use waste in a profitable way. The kit uses nutrient-rich discarded coffee grounds sourced from Peet’s Coffee & Tea to grow fresh mushrooms at home for multiple harvests (typically 2-3). After that, replacement bags are available.
The harvesting process is minimal and easy. After cutting slits and soaking the bag for 24 hours, all you need to do it mist the soil two times a day. In about 10 days, a crop of mushrooms should appear. I’m on Day 7 (mushroom tops are starting to pop up!) and will be posting an update on Day 12. Considering this kit is a favorite of top foodies, including up-and-coming star vegan chef Chloe Coscarelli and renown restaurateur Alice Waters, I think I’m in good company.
Back to the Roots mushroom kit is available online and at Whole Foods Market stores across the nation. I purchased mine at the Whole Foods on Haight Street. A starter kit is $19.99 and replacements are $7.99, though it looks like you have to email the company directly to request the replacement for now.