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Here’s a quick weeknight meal, inspired by The Pioneer Woman’s “Best Spinach Salad Ever.” 

Where can you find kosher beef bacon? Both Grow and Behold and KOL Foods carry it. Some kosher grocery stores may carry it too. Sometimes beef bacon is called “beef fry” instead of beef bacon (and may look like fatty porcine bacon or be more processed, like turkey bacon). I can’t eat the grocery store kind, at least the kind that Kosher Mart carries, it has carrageenan in it (which gives foods a thicker/creamy mouth feel but also gives me sad tummy in moderate doses).

Oh, you don’t want an rant about my food issues, you want a recipe, right? Here I am, teasing you with a messy kitchen table photo of my dinner that I started to eat before photographing it (this salad is best eaten immediately after all).

Deena's warm spinach and beef bacon salad

Deena’s warm spinach and beef bacon salad

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 slices BEEF BACON
  • 1-2 Tbls good olive oil, as needed
  • 1/2 small red onion
  • 4 oz white button mushrooms
  • 8 ounces, clean, dry, baby spinach
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. reserved BEEF BACON grease (or beef bacon fat + olive oil to reach the correct volume)
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. honey
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • small sprinkle of kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • OPTIONAL: 3 hard boiled eggs
  • OPTIONAL: chopped cherry tomatoes (I had some from my garden)

DIRECTIONS

In a tiny bit of oil, fry the beef bacon until crispy/chewy. Set aside on a paper towel.

Remove the warm grease from the pan with a spoon, add olive oil as needed to come up to 1 and 1/2 tablespoons, and set aside.

Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the warm skillet and return to medium heat.

Slice red onions very thinly, add to skillet. Slowly cook the onions until they’re caramelized and reduced. Set aside on a plate.

Slice mushrooms and add to the same skillet. Slowly cook the mushrooms until they’re caramelized and reduced. Set aside with the onions.

Chop up beef bacon into little nibbles.

OPTIONAL: Peel and slice eggs.

Make hot beef bacon dressing! Add the 1 1/2 set aside bacon grease/oil, vinegar, honey, and Dijon to the skillet over medium-low heat. Whisk to combine and heat through.

Place spinach in a large bowl. Add onions, mushrooms, and beef bacon on top. Pour hot dressing over everything; toss to combine.

Top with optional eggs and/or tomatoes and serve immediately. Serve with focaccia or other fresh bread.

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I’ve made some great DC/MD based friends, but we’re all so much more spread out and I don’t have anyone to call and say “I had a bad day, I need someone to talk to over wine and gourmet french fries” with here (also, I’m trying to lay off the wine and french fries because neither are particularly WW friendly).

first tomato of the 2013 sesason

first tomato of the 2013 sesason

Anyway, I saw some old friends, and a new one, while in NY for a 24 hour visit last weekend for a baby shower. It was great, I had wine and gourmet french fries! No, the food isn’t the only reason it was great. It was amazing to catch up with friends from Boulder, Interlochen, and DC and I had a great time with all of them (and great food too, I came back having overspent my flex point allowance for the week by 17 points in just 2 days!).

Sometimes I just have trouble adjusting to my new physical location in the world because all the people I have collected along the way aren’t all around me all the time. Sometimes, I’m just homesick for boarding school or even summer camp, when most of my peers that I cared about were in the same physical place I was at the same time and we could stay up talking (until call to quarters) about everything and anything. Is that more nostalgia that homesickness? I guess I just wish my new friends were closer and had fewer obligations/more flexible schedules so that social calls didn’t need to be so planned out.

Whatever.

One of the newest bonuses that I’ve discovered to being a real grownup, one who spends their Sundays doing chores and running errands, is that I get to garden on my patio! It was too dry and hot in Boulder, plus our patio was coopted by Crazy Neighbor Lady. Lately, Ben and I have been chowing down on Thai food every shabbat, to keep up with the growth of the Thai Basil; eating lots of farmers market eggs and goat cheese with fresh chives, eating salads topped with fresh baby greens from the garden (they don’t grow fast enough to make whole salads out of all the time), making lots of Italian-style pestos and salad dressings (green and purple!), rosemary bread, and we’ve ordered some Kosher meats to eat with all the thyme we’re growing too.

Container gardening is fun! We mulched everything well, so there’s very little weeding, and it’s been raining pretty frequently so we hardly have to water. I don’t think it will be cost effective to grow our own foods unless we stay here or re-use the same pots and dirt for a few years (the pots were the real investments at $11-19 each), but it’s nice to get outside and have some plants to tend to and chat through the fence with neighbors (yes, one smokes, but she’s not crazy!).

Time to pull myself out of my melancholy, call my adult play date buddy (she’s on maternity leave, bonus baby snuggles!), surf the job boards, and then head downtown for our lunch and museum date. Maybe I should spend a few minutes weeding (more like trying pluck off all the basil flowers) in the sunshine to perk myself up. WEEE, SUNSHINE (dutifully ignoring the 90 F temp and potential for afternoon storms).

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English: Drum Point Light, Solomons, Maryland,...

English: Drum Point Light, Solomons, Maryland, December 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ben was in Triste, Italy last week. He learned lots of stuff, met some new-to-him atomic physics folks, and got to show off his 3 month-old knowledge of his current lab’s research and publications at the International Centere for Theoretical Physics. Yeah, I’d never heard of it either. He took some really lovely photos that he might let me upload later.

I, on the other hand, have been temping at a lovely firm on K Street. It was a two week gig to cover the interim between hiring a new person an when she started and was subsequently extended to three weeks to cover someone else out vacation. I wish I could stay here…. Oh well. I did have an interview for a job I don’t want, so I left that to the staffing agency to communicate for me. If I’m going to leave the path to being a paralegal I’m going to do so in the non-profit world, not in employee benefits (albeit serving law offices, which is why they were hiring someone with a legal background).

This weekend is Memorial Day and we are going out to Solomons, MD on Saturday evening to spend some time with my gramma and see some museums. I’m excited to share the Calvert Marine Museum with him (even though it’s not yet fiddler crab season), but apparently the Calvert Nuclear Facility stopped offering tours or having a visitor center after 9-11. Doh. We were also hoping to go up to Annapolis and visit the Naval Academy Museum or we might just walk around, find somewhere to eat rockfish for lunch, and have some unscheduled time.

Bonus: I found this wonderfully written blog post while looking for a recipe. This woman writes how I would like to: http://youmadam.com/2009/02/21/what-to-do-with-those-daikon-you-bought-at-whole-foods-that-have-been-hanging-out-a-bit-too-long-in-the-fridge/

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Ben got the NRC (National Research Council) Fellowship! WOOHOO! That’s 2 years of funding, starting July 1! Sweet.

In my job news I’ve registered with a bunch of temp agencies, had work with one, as well as TWO interviews with the same firm. I’m waiting to hear back about the interviews, but WOOHOO, I might be employed soon. Sweet.

We bought our plane tickets to Austin, for WBF’s wedding later this month and will probably be renting a room through AirBnB or someone’s carriage house/in-law suite through VRBO. We’ll have Saturday daytime to explore as well as all day Sunday (we fly in Friday afternoon for the rehearsal and then fly out on Monday since it cost the same to stay overnight on Sunday or try and fly out on Sunday and the Monday flights had less crazy timing).

Today, it’s sunny, chilly, and WINDY, so I’m camping out on the couch with the classical radio channel, my laptop, and letting my plants soak up all the open curtain light they can.

Anyone out there have any advice about container gardening? My “full sun” plants don’t seem to be suffering in our reflected-light only corner unit, but I worry about food plants not getting enough oomph from reflected light. I’m thinking Rainbow Chard, and any herbs that I say they’re happiest in partial shade. What else does well in partial shade?

Last little piece of news, Weight Watchers works. Seriously, I’m fitting into my old clothes, feel like a rock star, and have lost over 10 lbs!

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I was so excited to can caramelized onions and gingered carrots (made separately, canned at the same time) tomorrow that I neglected to read all the way to the bottom of the recipe instructions before going to the farmers market this evening. Boo.

The good news is that I read the recipe BEFORE Ben started slicing onions because we learned that we’d need a pressure canner! Oops. We don’t have one of those, or even the space to store one if we did. Well, if we did I might de-throne the meat slow cooker, which we really only use for Thanksgiving, and hide it somewhere outside of the kitchen. I’m 99% certain that I’d use a pressure canner at least 3x more than our jumbo slow cooker (good for when we need it, awful space-sucker when we don’t).

Also, today was the last Wednesday night Farmers Market for the year. Sad. I stocked up on lots of stuff for the winter: organic parsley (to mince and freeze), organic butternut squash for Friday night, local organic Gala apples, a big bag of local popping corn, and fresh whole wheat tortillas (also to freeze).

Anyone out there in the blog-o-sphere have any ideas on preserving 2-5 lbs of carrots WITHOUT a pressure canner?

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cool local product

http://mmlocalfoods.com/harvestshare/

Mm Local is a local company that is apparent starting a pre-canned food product buying club! Amazing! I haven’t figured out yet if it’s a good deal, but if you’re not into canning and preserving your own food this is an awesome way to get someone to do it for you and not pay too much more than the ingredients and cost of canning equipment and this stuff is virtually guaranteed  to be safely canned too! Tomatoes are supposed to be hard to can at high altitude (i.e. where I live) without a pressure cooker/canner.

Instead of canning tomatoes, I’ve been roasting them in the oven and then freezing them. Mm, roasted tomatoes!

Here’s my recipe:

  • halve small tomatoes across their equator, as if the stem and the belly button were the poles
  • toss in a large bowl with olive oil, salt, and pepper
  • place on a foil line cookie sheet, cut sides up
  • roast at 225 F for 2-3 hours
  • let cool to room temp, and pack into glass canning jars (a good time to re-use lids!) or tupperware
  • FREEZE and eat/defrost as needed

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Today I went to a rally in front of the courthouse (now a city municipal building) to support the vote against GMO crops in Boulder County Open Space. The rally was organized by #GMOfreeBoulder. Make sense? Here’s the Cliff’s Notes version of what’s going on:

  • Boulder County owns a lot of open space, over 200,000 acres, much it is undeveloped and mountainous, but they also own over 20,000 acres of agricultural land
  • That agricultural land (some of it is know as cropland, the rest is ranch land) gets leased to all sorts of farmers, cattle ranchers, traditional farmers, organic farmers, etc.
  • Right now, OSMP allows farmers to plant GMO corn, they are currently hearing petitioners about a proposal to allow (or not) the planting of other GMO crops on cropland
During the rally, City Counsel held an opening hearing (inside) where 20 people spoke, over two and a half hours, about why GMOs should/should not permitted for planting in open space cropland. They vote next week.
I went to the rally because I don’t agree with planting GMOs on publicly owned land that I help to support. Sadly, I don’t think I can do much about it. Growing conventional seeds has a much cheaper starting fee than heirloom seeds, plus you know exactly what you’ll get! Unfortunately, that means that GMOs may continue to be planted on public lands.
My biggest beef with GMO crops is that they often have been breed to be pest resistant and impervious to weed killers (roundup ready, meaning they are hardy plants that stand up to roundup, the industrial herbicide). Roundup ready plants can’t breed, they need to be planted from purchased seeds every year and seeds can’t be collected. F1 hybrids are unpredictable and therefore unreliable and un-plantable.
Anyway, I’m all for bees. That’s right, bees. The buzzy little pollinators that make honey and sometimes sting people if they feel threatened. I believe that GMOs are bad for bees because if you breed a plant to produce its own pesticides you’ll poison the pollinators. You can’t do what bee farmers have been doing for decades to protect the bees, cover the hives in canvas and keep the bees in on pesticide spraying days, because the pesticides are being produced by the plants themselves. Poor bees, their little nervous systems never had a chance (see: colony collapse disorder)!

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