Monthly Archives: April 2010

Garden Update

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Just a garden update:  Here are a few things I picked this afternoon —  lemons, mutant radishes, green beans, sage, rosemary, thyme (no parsley yet), mint, oregano, and two kinds of basil.    My next batch of radishes is not doing well, and neither are my pepper plants…. some @#$$%%$#^# creature is eating the leaves.  On the other hand, my tomato bushes are coming up and starting to blossom,  a couple of zucchini vines are beginning to creep across the yard,  several cucumber plants  have managed not to die,  and I have a row of beets that even if the roots don’t amount to anything, the greens will be good eating.

Until next time……

Lori G. (c) 2010

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Earth Day, 2010

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Earth Day is this week, April 22, and I attended a couple of local Earth Day festivals this weekend, camera in hand.  

The first one I visited was in an upscale, urban neighborhood, and was organized in conjuction with the weekly regional Farmer’s Market.   I was there early and there weren’t many people yet.  Mostly, the participants of the fair were devoted to selling their “green” products and services.   I was most amused to see a tent promoting organic and sustainably produced clothing situated right in front of a national chain clothing store.  (You’ll see a picture of this in the video). 

I have to admit, though, that I enjoyed the other fair I attended later in the day in a suburban community park.    It was much more down-home and hands-on.  I listened to a lecture on healthy eating given by a woman who runs a non-profit organization with the mission of educating children on whole-foods nutrition — something akin to what Jamie Oliver did in the UK and in West Virginia.   I also enjoyed visiting the tent of a local wildlife rehabilitation group.  This group rescues injured urban wildlife — birds and small mammals.    At their tent, they had a peregrin falcon, great horned owl, screech owl, two kestrels, and a red tailed hawk.  All of these birds are too injured ever to be released back into the wild so they are used for educational events such as this fair.

Over all, I was most impressed at the grass roots community organizations featured at this fair.  It is not going to be just buying green products that will make a difference in this world — it is going to be community action and educational endeavors that will make us better stewards of our world.

Happy Earth Day, everyone.   Enjoy the video.

Lori G. (c) 2010

Healthy Dining Finder

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Just a quickie this morning:

I came across this website where you plug in your ZIP code  and you will get a list of restaurants that have “healthy” menu alternatives.    This list includes suggestions on what to order at each restaurant and links to the nutritional facts.  I emphasize the word “healthy” because in my opinion most of the menu items still have too much sodium (so be mindful of that fact).   Also, for my international readers, I think the database is only of US restaurants…

Anyway, if you are interested click this link to go to:

The Healthy Dining Finder

On Bread and Salt

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“Bread is elemental.  Earth, water, fire, and air, the four elements of the ancients, combine in bread.” — Crescent Dragonwagon, Soup and Bread: A Country Inn Cookbook.

I came across this passage as I was researching bread recipes.  The process of witnessing the staff of life springing forth from the interaction of the four cardinal elements seems more like magic to me than a chemical reaction.      I suddenly and very badly wanted to make a loaf of bread.

Before you say it, yes, I know making bread is a lot of work, and yes, I can get it much cheaper and better tasting by buying  it.  But here’s the problem: have you ever read the Nutrition Facts on the back of the bread wrapper?  Do you know how much sodium is in that one slice of bread you are toasting for breakfast?   I consume too much sodium and I need to do something about it.  I  read in The Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book that salt is an absolute necessity for the texture of the bread.  I am going to take the word of the experts here.  I thought I would try anyway to make a loaf of bread with about 80% less salt — just enough to make the bread palatable and not disintegrate in my hands.

Now, if I wanted to be really rustic, I would make the bread by hand.  But I do have a bread making machine that I got twenty-some years ago and have not used in well over five years.   Since I’ll take the help whenever I can get it,  I got out the machine and cleaned it up.  (The machine reminds me of a miniature R2-D2 with a round body, domed top, blinking lights and a vocabulary of beeps, dings, and whirs).

I  filled the chamber with the appropriate amounts of flour, water, yeast, oil, and a smidgen of salt (one-fourth of a teaspoon, which is about a sixth of what the recipe called for).*   As I type this, the machine is thumping away,  the yeast happily working up the gluten. I hope this turns out good, sans salt and all.

I got to thinking about salt — salt never used to be so universally available.  For most of world history salt was a scarce commodity that built national economies and brought some of  them to war with each other.   So that tells me that throughout most of our history, we used salt sparingly. Traditional foods don’t use a lot of salt.  Today, though, our tongues have become so “over-salinized” that many of us are not able to ascertain the true taste of the foods we eat.  For the person starting a low-sodium diet, the initial experience of now-bland food may make that person feel like a prison sentence has been imposed upon her or him.  I think, though, for me, it will be taking baby steps to re-educate my taste buds, like making my own bread from scratch.

Three hours later:   A magical thing has transpired in my kitchen.

*Here’s the recipe I used:

Low-Sodium Bread Machine Bread.

1 cup of warm water
1 1/4 teaspoon rapid-rising yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose white flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 T – Olive Oil
1/4 teaspoon salt

I mixed the yeast and sugar into the warm water and set it aside for a few minutes.  I added both flours, salt and oil to the machine’s chamber.  Then I added the yeasty water and set the machine for “white bread.”   Four and a half hours later, I had bread.  It’s a little more crumbling than full-salted bread and I doubt that I can make sandwiches out of it, but, darn, it sure tastes good with a pat of real butter and some raspberry jam.

😀

L. Gloyd (c) 2010

1+ c –  Warm Water

2 T – Flieshmans Olive Oil

1 1/2c – Bread Flower

1 1/2 c – Wheat Flour (Sodium Free)

1 1/4 t – Yeast

2t – sugar or 1 packet of splenda (optional)

I got loose in the kitchen again….

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So I got loose in the kitchen…. again.   I picked some radishes this morning from the garden to have in a salad for lunch.  While I was cleaning them up and just could not bring myself to throw away their gorgeous tops.   I wondered if they were edible like beet greens or toxic like rhubarb leaves.  Not wanting to take chances,  I appealed to the Great Google for advice.

The answer:  Yes, they are edible but why would you want to since they are very bitter.

I noticed a lot of folks online posted that radish greens are quite good when braised or sauteed.  Cooking them cuts the bitterness.  So I thought, what the heck, I’ll give it a try.

I slowly heated up some olive oil in a skillet.  I added a smashed garlic clove and some red pepper flakes.  I removed the garlic as soon as I started to smell it because I didn’t want it to burn and ruin the olive oil.  I added to the skillet the greens along with about half as much chopped parsley, sprinkled a little coarse sea salt over the greens, tossed them around a bit until they were just wilted, and then removed them from the pan.

As you can see, I didn’t get much from these three radishes but it was enough to make an interesting warm side salad to some lentil soup and fresh grilled bread.

In the words of the ever-exuberant Rachael Ray:  “Yumm-o”.

Just know that when I get loose in the kitchen like this, the outcome isn’t always this good.   🙂

Lori G. (c) 2010