Sunday, February 26, 2012

Kelly Mahaffy - Life on the Organic Valley Farm

Check out this winning video by young farmer Kelly Mahaffy, submitted as part of our Gen-O video contest. It's a great view into life on the farm (and a nice reminder of warmer, greener days)!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Blaise and Evan Knapp "Give It Away"

Check out this great video from young Organic Valley farmers, Blaise & Evan Knapp, submitted as part of a Generation Organic video contest. Their Holstein cows definitely enjoyed watching them rock out. We think you will too!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Slow Cooker Red Beans and Rice

Good food doesn't stop in Cajun country just because the party's over. Cajun cooks start red beans in the morning, cook it low and slow all day and serve it for supper with a dish of rice and a dash of Tabasco. It is a perfect dish for a slow cooker.


2 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
1 pound of dried kidney beans
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
3 celery stalks, diced (1 cup)
1 can of stewed tomatoes (14.5 ounces)
2 - 4 cups of vegetable broth
2 - 3 teaspoons Creole seasoning
2 teaspoons ground thyme
2 Bay leaves
Steamed rice for serving
Italian parsley for garnish
Tabasco sauce


1. Rinse and sort kidney beans; soak while you're preparing the vegetables.

2. In a medium pot over medium-high heat, saute' onion in olive oil until it starts to tan. Add garlic, saute' a few minutes more. Add celery and pepper; saute' until well glazed.

3. Transfer kidney beans and sauteed' vegetables to slow-cooker. Add 2 cups of broth.

4. Cook covered on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours, stirring periodically. Add more broth if the mixture starts to dry out before the beans soften. Remove the cover for the last hour of cooking. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Red beans are done when the broth has evaporated and the beans have started breaking down into a creamy sauce.

Serve over rice. Garnish with minced Italian parsley. Pass the hot sauce to taste.

Cuisinart 3.5 Quart Slow Cooker

Chef's Note: If you use canned beans, don't soak them and reduce your cooking time by at least half. A ham hock or andouille sausage imparts a richer, smokier flavor. I've omitted the meat for Lent. Freeze left-overs in 1 pint bags to keep on hand for a quick lunch or supper. They are both delicious and nutritious.

Source of Protein
Rice and beans have long been dietary partners because both are incomplete proteins. This means each lacks at least one of the nine essential amino acids needed by the human body to produce protein. Together, however, rice and beans make up a complete protein, combining to deliver all the amino acids when eaten in a meal.
Red beans are rich in iron, which is important to produce red blood cells that carry oxygen to our muscles, internal organs and brain, according to the Vegetarian Society. The society advises vegetable sources of iron are less easily absorbed than animal sources, but you can aid your iron absorption by ensuring an adequate vitamin C intake.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture nutrition guide on kidney beans, just one-half cup of cooked red beans provides you with 32 percent of your daily-recommended intake of fiber. Fiber found in whole grains such as rice and beans, along with a healthy diet, can help you reduce your risk of coronary heart disease, as well as reduce constipation and help with weight management.
B VitaminsThe USDA also notes that in eating refined grains like white rice you can gain the benefits of enrichment with B vitamins. These vitamins include thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and folate -- all of which play a role in regulating your metabolism, helping your body release the energy stored in protein, fat and carbohydrates. B vitamins help your nervous system stay healthy, too. Switch to brown rice instead of white and you'll get fewer B vitamins but an extra boost of heart-healthy whole grains.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Be There: That Takes the Cake Contest

That Takes the Cake comes to the North Austin Event Center (10601 N. Lamar) on Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 25-26.

Virginia Wade, Austin Chronicle, touts the sweet success of the annual national cake bake-off that will showcase 2,500 entries crafted on a Renaissance theme.
Capital Con­fec­tioners is an organization of about 125 local cake artists who host That Takes the Cake, the largest annual cake and sugar art show in the country. Now in its eighth year, this weekend's Austin show has steadily outgrown a series of local venues and will need every bit of the 60,000 square feet of space available at the North Austin Event Center (10601 N. Lamar) to accommodate competition cake displays, vendor booths, and educational classes.

Study Traces MRSA to Factory-farmed Pigs

If you think that your health is unaffected by the treatment of factory-farmed animals, think again.

A new scientific study finds that MRSA - antibiotic-resistant superstaph - may have originated in factory-farmed pigs.
"Our findings underscore the potential public health risks of widespread antibiotic use in food animal production," Price said in a statement. "Staph thrives in crowded and unsanitary conditions. Add antibiotics to that environment and you're going to create a public health problem."

The CC398 strain, as it's known first appeared in cattle, pig, and poultry populations around 2003. The study argues that the mixture of growth hormones, antibiotics, and other medications employed to increase production and make the animals more suitable for the crowded conditions industrial food production requires are to blame for creating an ideal setting for the bacteria to gain resistance. "The most powerful force in evolution is selection. And in this case, humans have supplied a strong force through the excessive use of antibiotic drugs in farm animal production," said Paul Keim, a co-author on the study. [PopScience - Inside NAU - mBio]

If you think that your health is unaffected by the treatment of factory-farmed animals, think again.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Food Safety: A Reason to Celebrate

There is good news today regarding the conditions in which factory farmed pigs live and a French rebuke to Monsanto.
 On Monday, after years of internal and external pressure, the company announced a laudable course of action regarding the sows (female pigs) in their supply chain: McDonald’s is requiring, by May, that its suppliers of pork  provide plans for phasing out gestation crates.Once those plans are delivered, says Bob Langert, the company’s vice president of sustainability, McDonald’s will create a timetable to end the use of gestation crates in its supply chain.

As goes McDonalds, so goes the fast-food industry, opines Mark Bittman, New York Times.  Animal welfare groups could send the phase out of these inhumane conditions as soon as 18 months. But he cautions that consumers may need to keep the pressure on the fast-food giant.

In another part of the world, a French court has ruled in favor of a farmer who sued Monsanto for chemical poisoning.
A French court has declared the US biotech giant Monsanto guilty of chemical poisoning of a French farmer, a judgment that could lend weight to other health claims against pesticides.

In the first such case heard in court in France, the grain grower Paul Francois, 47, said he suffered neurological problems including memory loss, headaches and stammering after inhaling Monsanto's Lasso weedkiller in 2004.

He blames Monsanto for not providing adequate warnings on the product label.

The ruling was given by a court in Lyon, south-east France, which ordered an expert opinion of Francois's losses to establish the amount of damages.

"It is a historic decision in so far as it is the first time that a [pesticide] maker is found guilty of such a poisoning," Francois Lafforgue, Francois's lawyer, told Reuters.

Although Monsanto will appeal, this decision definitely turns the tide in the direction of food safety and manufacturer accountability.



Back to the Start by Johnny Kelly for Chipotle

Coldplay's haunting classic "The Scientist" is performed by country music legend Willie Nelson for the soundtrack of the short film entitled "Back to the Start." The film, by film-maker Johnny Kelly, depicts the life of a farmer as he slowly turns his family farm into an industrial animal factory before seeing the errors of his ways and opting for a more sustainable future. Both the film and the soundtrack were commissioned by Chipotle to emphasize the importance of developing a sustainable food system.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Heilman's Key Lime Pie

Thanks to LA Times Culinary SOS for the sublime key lime pie from Bob Heilman's Beachcomber Restaurant in Clearwater Beach, Florida. Cool, sweet companion to a rich, dark, spicy gumbo or seafood jambalaya. Serves 8.

Photo by Robinson Chavez Michael - LA Times


4 egg yolks, beaten
2 cups condensed milk
2/3 cup Key lime juice (from about 1 pound of Key limes)
Zest from 1 Key lime
1 pre-baked (8- to 9-inch) pie shell, preferably a short crust
Whipped cream or meringue, for topping


1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and condensed milk until combined. Mix in the lime juice and zest until thoroughly combined. This makes a scant 3 cups of filling.

3. Pour the filling into the prepared pie shell and place the pie in the oven. Bake just until the filling is set and jiggles only slightly when tapped, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool on a rack, then refrigerate the pie, uncovered, until completely set, preferably overnight.

4. Top as desired and serve.

Chef's Note: Adapted from Bob Heilman's Beachcomber Restaurant in Clearwater, Fla. The restaurant uses Eagle Brand condensed milk in the recipe and serves the pie topped with whipped cream, though meringue can be substituted. Make the pie using a prepared crust; the restaurant recommends a "short" pastry crust. As it says, "A graham cracker crust is inappropriate."

Each serving (without topping): 377 calories; 9 grams protein; 54 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 15 grams fat; 7 grams saturated fat; 118 mg cholesterol; 42 grams sugar; 190 mg sodium.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Slow Cooker Smothered Okra

Okra and tomatoes are not in season in February; however, smothered okra is the beginning of shrimp or chicken gumbo. It also stands on its own as a side dish served over steamed rice. Make extra in the summer and freeze in anticipation of winter feasts. Makes 4 cups.  


2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 cup celery, diced
1 pound fresh or frozen okra
2 teaspoons Creole seasoning
1 can stewed tomatoes with liquid (14.5 ounces)
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth as needed
Apple-cider vinegar


1. Heat the oil in a non-reactive pot.  (Cast iron cause the okra to turn black). Saute' onion, garlic, bell pepper, celery in hot oil until softened.

2. Add the okra and saute' with the other vegetables to glaze it well. A splash of apple-cider vinegar helps suppress the slime. Add tomatoes, mixing all ingredients well, then transfer to slow cooker.

3. Cook on high with the lid on for about three hours, stirring and adding stock a little at a time when the mixture begins to dry out.

4. Cook uncovered for the last 30 - 60 minutes depending on the tenderness of the okra and the amount of liquid remaining. You want fork-tender, not crunchy and thick and moist, but not soupy.

Serve smothered okra over steamed rice, refrigerate or freeze in 1 pint bags for gumbo.

Seafood Gumbo

Rich, seafood gumbo spices up Mardi Gras for the less meat-atarians among us. Serves 10 - 12.

Seafood Gumbo


4 heaping tablespoons of roux
3 quarts of shrimp stock
4 cups smothered okra
1.5 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 pints raw oysters
1/2 pound lump crab meat
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium onions, diced
2 cups celery, diced
1 cup green bell pepper, diced
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons Creole Seasoning or to taste
1/3 cup green onion tops, chopped
Steamed rice for serving
Gumbo file'
Tabasco sauce


1. Peel and devein shrimp. Rinse oysters. Rinse crab meat and pick through for any shells. Refrigerate until ready to use.

2. Heat the roux in a large, heavy stockpot over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onions, stirring continuously until onions begin to brown. Mix in the celery and green pepper. When they begin to soften, add the garlic and cook for 1 or 2 minutes more. Add stock slowly, stirring constantly to prevent lumps.

3. When the mixture is well blended, stir in the stewed okra. Bring to a rolling boil, then reduce heat to simmer until the gumbo is reduced by a third. Cook long enough to mellow the roux flavor, dissipating any taste of flour. It's done when the okra has started to dissolve and the soup has thickened.

4. Five minutes before serving, stir in the shrimp, crab meat and oysters. Cook just until shrimp heat through and turn pink, about 5 minutes. Remove bay leaves before serving. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary.

Serve in soup bowls over steamed rice. White rice is traditional. Garnish each bowl with green onions. Offer gumbo file' and Tabasco sauce on the side. Accompany with a warm, crusty French bread.

Chef's Note: This is a lot of cooking for one day, so make it easy on yourself. Make the smothered okra and roux ahead. Peel the shrimp the night before and hold shells in the refrigerator to put on the shrimp stock first thing in the morning. Expect to let the soup simmer at least two hours before you add the seafood. Three hours is not unusual. It's not a dish you want to hurry.

Creole Seasoning

After many years of seasoning Cajun food to my Creole taste, I have earned the right to use Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning. (Top Chef judges, suck it.) To make your own blend, combine salt, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, black pepper, white pepper, paprika, dried oregano, dried thyme. You know it's "right" when the bridge of your nose start to sweat when you eat it.

Gumbo File' (FEE-lay)

Gumbo file' is the powdered leaves of the sassafras tree. It was widely used by the Choctaw tribe of Native Americans to thicken stews and soup. It adds a distinctive flavor. Only add file' after the gumbo is cooked, as it is served.

Some people say that you don't use okra, roux and file' in one gumbo since they are all thickening agents. Other people say okra in seafood gumbo, file' in chicken gumbo. One thing's certain about gumbo - everybody has a favorite recipe. But its diversity - and the complex layering of textures and flavor that make it so delicious - is based in one root philosophy: never too much of a good thing, cher.

Here's a little gumbo myth and mystery if you're interested.

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Another Take on Fennel al Forno

New York Times City Kitchen offers another take on Fennel al Forno - a versatile baked fennel dish, sure to be a star.

Picture courtesy of NY Times

Heh. Butter and cheese can make you fall in love with any vegetable. But the addition of fennel seeds, garlic and rosemary in this one really kicks up the flavor.

Let me know how you like it.

Fennel Baked in Milk (Finocchio con Latte al Forno)

All the flavor and nutritional benefits of fennel, braised in milk and baked in a delicious, cheesy sauce. Serves 4.


4 medium fennel bulbs, fronds reserved
4 cups milk
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
4 garlic cloves, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan


1. Heat oven to 475 degrees. Remove tough outer layer of fennel. Halve each bulb lengthwise and slice into 1/2-inch wedges.

2. In a 4-quart saucepan, saute' garlic lightly in 2 tablespoons butter. Add fennel and toss with garlic and butter to glaze thoroughly before adding milk. Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium-high heat to cook, stirring occasionally, until fennel is fork-tender - 30 to 45 minutes. Season with crushed fennel seeds, salt and pepper.

3.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked fennel to a 2-quart baking dish. Pour 1 cup of the cooking milk mixture over it. Sprinkle with a good Parmesan cheese, dot with the remaining butter and bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 20 minutes.

Serve fennel garnished with some of the fronds.

~Recipe adapted from Saveur.


Friday, February 17, 2012

Homemade King Cake

Image courtesy of LA Times

Noelle Carter, LA Times Food, shares her recipe for Mardi Gras King Cake.
Start with a rich brioche dough — don't skimp on the butter (please, save the diet for Lent). Stuff the dough with at least one filling — besides flavor, it helps the cake stay moist. Personally, I prefer two fillings, just to keep it interesting: a crisp apple filling studded with toasted pecans and raisins (soak the raisins in rum for a little extra fun) and a whipped cream cheese filling for sheer gush. Roll up the dough, then give it a quick twist to give the fillings a braided appearance.

The cake bakes in almost no time. Puffed and golden-brown, baptize your creation with creamy glaze, then give it sparkle with a drizzle of colored sugars. And don't forget to hide the baby inside.

The cake is best served slightly warm. Chunks of apple alternate with the light cream cheese filling — each slice is a wonderful play on flavors: not too tart, not too sweet. It's a thing of festive beauty and — next to some colorful beads and a batch of rum-imbued Hurricanes — the best way to celebrate Mardi Gras.

Oh Noelle, you had me at "don't skimp on the butter..."

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

King Cake - Mardi Gras Tradition

Traditional Mardi Gras Pastry

King Cake is another delicious Mardi Gras tradition. The person who gets "the baby" throws the next party!

Kitchen Daily recounts its origins.
King cake, in its most traditional form, is a ring cake made from a bread similar to brioche. It is dressed up with icing in the three colors of Mardi Gras: purple, green and gold. The traditional galette du roi has a sweet almond filling baked inside.

The history of king cake dates back to the 18th century, brought to the United States by Spanish and French colonists. King cake derives its name from the biblical three kings, which tells the tale of the three kings who journeyed to Bethlehem bearing gifts at the arrival of the newborn baby Jesus.

In the European tradition, a small bean or pea was hidden inside the king cake, and whoever found the bean was declared the "king of the feast." Since the 1950s, however, a trinket has replaced the bean in the United States. While the baby trinket is the most common, there are also various plastic trinket kings wearing colorful crowns.

Sweetish Hill Bakery & Cafe, Austin's oldest French bakery, offers the traditional French galette du roi with marzipan (almond-paste filling) as well as New Orleans-style sweet yeast dough filled with cinnamon sugar.

Austin Chronicle Food reports that King Cakes can be purchased at a number of local stores with 24 hours notice.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

First You Make a Roux

Be There: Cajun Mardi Gras

Cajun Mardi Gras


Get ready. Tuesday, February 21 is Mardi Gras.

Parades, floats, balls, beads, masks all have their roots in a living tradition in Southwest Louisiana where I grew up.

Oh there's plenty of revelry, all right. Lots of music, dancing and drinking. But from Church Point to Eunice to Mamou to Basile, Mardi Gras is about chicken gumbo and plenty of it.
Many aspects of the Mardi Gras celebration in L'Anse Maigre, a community north of Eunice are typical of other communities. Cultural Catholicism still binds the community together, and collecting ingredients for a communal gumbo remains central to their run. They work hard all year, but they also celebrate life abundantly because their faith teaches them that life has been redeemed and Mardi Gras provides the opportunity to embrace the totality of human life. Led by a flag-bearing capitaine, this colorful and noisy procession of masked and costumed men on horses and wagons go from house to house in the countryside asking for charity in return for a performance of dancing and buffoonery. The participants are earnestly employed chasing chickens, the most valued offering, and they pride themselves on their ability to collect enough "live chickens" to feed the entire community "free of charge."

If you don't want to make a chicken gumbo for yourself, Austin Chronicle reports that myriad restaurants are ready to heap mountains of food on your plate. It ain't called "Fat Tuesday" for nothing.














Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Teaching Your Kids the Value of Real Food

This article is contributed by Heather Green.
real food

Picture courtesy of Stonyfield Organic

It only takes a plate of cookies to get a room full of kids excited.
Or a bag full of candy. Or event just a box of "fruit snacks." The
typical diet for most children is loaded with sugary, processed foods, from cereals to juice boxes to gummy snacks. You won't see too many kids on the playground trading these lunchbox staples for a bag of carrot sticks or a handful of grapes.

Fortunately, there are many ways to teach your children the value of real food so they don't become accustomed to SAD foods like processed and sugary treats. Here are some ways that you can help your children understand the value of real, healthy food:

Visit Local Farms

Help your children learn the source of their foods by visiting local
farms. When children always get their food from a box or a bag, they
become unable to identify real, whole ingredients or their source.
Taking them on tours of local farms will help them understand how
produce is grown and harvested, how animals are raised, and how the
food goes from farm to table. The visit can teach children the role
that food plays in health (particularly the difference between
processed and whole foods), the value of food (based on the resources
used to grow and attain it), and the impact of local farming on the

Grow a Garden

Growing a garden together can help your child better understand how food makes it to the table - other than just taking it out of the
refrigerator. You can teach children the value of food based on the
hard work required to grow it and talk to them about the value of
eating fresh foods, grown in season, and raised without the use of
chemicals. When children grow their own food, they also become more invested in the process and can feel more excited about enjoying their harvest. They will be more interested in eating something that they've grown than something that they took out of a box.

Cook Together

After they've learned to grow their own food, the next logical step is for children to learn how to cook it. When children know how to cook food, they can develop a love and appreciation for experimenting with different foods and trying out new creations. When children learn to love cooking, they don't grow into adults who turn to fast food and processed, microwavable dinners. If children aren't taught how to cook, they often become adults who are intimidated by the kitchen and who fear trying to make anything that requires more than boiling and adding a seasoning packet.

Help your children learn to love food and to delight in experimenting with new flavors and new creations.

Learn to Read Labels

Not everyone can cook a meal from scratch every day, three times a
day. We sometimes need to buy foods that are already prepared.

Who wants to make your own pasta? We often need to buy prepared
ingredients to make dishes at home. Again, who wants to make your own mayonnaise? Or mustard? (OK, maybe some of you do, but most of us don't have that kind of time!)

To help kids understand how to make the best choices, teach them how to read food labels. Explain how to evaluate the ratio of ingredients by the order in which they are listed. Point out the common names for ingredients that contain sugar or harmful oils. Note dangerous ingredients that are linked to cancer or other illnesses. Help them decipher claims that a product is "heart healthy" or "low in sugar" by getting the facts from the ingredient list and nutritional content.

Get your children to help you with the grocery shopping so that they can practice this knowledge and get your guidance on the best choices. The more they understand about the harmful chemicals and processed ingredients in many packaged foods, the better they will understand the value of choosing real food.

Learning to love real foods isn't always an easy process. Many of us
are so used to a diet of convenience foods and sugar-and-fat-laden
foods that we don't want to spend time cooking a meal or don't enjoy
the flavor without all the additives. Instilling a love of real foods
in your children will help them develop lifelong healthy habits.

About the Author:

Heather Green is a freelance writer for several regional magazines in
North Carolina and resident blogger for Her writing experience includes fashion, business, health, agriculture and a wide range of other topics. Heather has just completed research ononline BSN nursing programs and online LPN programs.

Would you like to write for Austin Fresh? Here's how

Monday, February 13, 2012

Fennel Citrus Salad - Sherry Vinaigrette

Fresh and refreshing salad of winter fruit, herb and greens. 


2 large fennel bulbs
4 oranges
3 ounces baby arugula
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon Round Rock honey
Zest of one lemon
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper


1. Peel away tough outer layer of fennel bulb, core, slice thinly and set aside.

2. Cut off the tops and bottoms of oranges. Slice off the peel and white pith; cut in between membranes to yield individual segments. Place in a large bowl.

3. Blend olive oil, sherry vinegar, honey, lemon zest and a pinch of salt.

4. Mix fruit, fennel and greens together. Drizzle with dressing. Season with freshly ground pepper.

~Adapted from Fennel and Citrus Salad - New York Times

Bon appetit.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Texas Promises to Tangle Farmer's Markets in Red Tape

Please ask the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to stop making things more difficult for local food producers.

In SB 81, the Texas Legislature included a provision to make it easier for individual vendors at farmers' market to obtain a temporary permit to prepare food on-site in order to cook hot food or prepare samples. The bill also protected farmers' market vendors from state or local authorities dictating how they maintain safe temperatures for foods.

Instead of implementing these improvements, the agency has proposed a rule that would classify farmers' markets as "food establishments," in the same category as restaurants and grocery stores. This change will place new burdens on farmers' market organizers. It potentially creates new problems for every vendor at the markets, although the full consequences are unclear. The agency has also added "cut tomatoes" and "cut leafy greens" to the list of "potentially hazardous foods." The agency has failed to provide any explanation of the consequences of these changes for our farmers and market organizers.

You can write the head of the agency by email. A sample letter is available here.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Mardi Gras Cauliflower With Parmesan

Purple, gold and white cauliflower from Boggy Creek Farm ushers in the Mardi Gras season. 

Picture courtesy of Boggy Creek Farm


4 cups cauliflower, mixed colors
6 cloves minced garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons herbs de Provence, thyme or rosemary
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt & pepper


1. Heat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Clean cauliflower and break into florets.

3. Saute' garlic in hot oil until it starts to tan, 3 to 5 minutes.

3. Toss cauliflower in the garlic and oil; spread in a single layer in a roasting pan.

4. Season with herbs, salt and pepper to taste.

5. Bake 25 to 30 minutes.

6. When tender, sprinkle with parmesan cheese and put under the broiler until the cheese is hot and bubbly.

Garnish with parsley if you wish.

Cool-weather cauliflower is available at Boggy Creek Farm on Wednesday and Saturday.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Fresh Fennel at Boggy Creek Farm

Boggy Creek Farm will have freshly harvested, organic fennel at its farm stand on Wednesday and Saturday. Don't miss this special cool-season treat marvelous in place of celery in carrot salad or coleslaw.

Picture courtesy of Boggy Creek Farm

More ways to cook fennel to follow.

How to Clean Fennel

Cooking in Season, A Lesson Learned from Our Parents' Mistakes

So what are the most common cooking mistakes we learned from our parents and how do we fix them?  Overcooking. Too little salt. Ingredients out of balance. But the most common - and the easiest to correct - according to Summer Tomato by Darya Pino is:

Mistake #4: Using bad ingredients

I saved this until the end because I say it all the time on Summer Tomato, but this is really the most important step. It’s February and asparagus couldn’t be any more out of season, so don’t buy it. There are plenty of seasonal ingredients at your local grocery and they will taste worlds better (and be cheaper) than anything artificially ripened and/or shipped from another hemisphere.

Solution: Cook with the seasons

Even if you can’t make it to the farmers market every weekend, you can still find seasonal (if not exactly local) ingredients in your grocery store. If you live in Minnesota and can only find California broccoli this time of year, so be it. But you don’t need strawberries from Chile or tomatoes from a greenhouse in the middle of winter, and they won’t taste good anyway. Here’s a great seasonal food chart if you don’t know where to start.

My South Louisiana family loved good food. Naturally. We're Cajun. Good food is very nearly religion in that neck of the woods. Everybody cooks. But loving good food is not the same as learning how to cook, so there were plenty of "uninspired" meals (read bland or downright bad) when my mother was in the kitchen. My BFF and I laugh about tough meat and gray green beans.

Hey I get it.

Some of my meals are also "uninspired" when I'm not into it. That's when it's a real joy that my BFF also loves to putter around in the kitchen.

Cooking in season and stretching our menu to incorporate new, unfamiliar vegetables is a constant adventure. We don't like everything. Not every recipe turns out as we expected. But the quest to work with Mother Nature - eating in season with all its health and environmental benefits and the satisfaction when a new food / recipe works - makes it all worthwhile.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

10 Reasons to Go Organic

[caption id="attachment_25" align="aligncenter" width="400" caption="Photo Courtesy of Stuart Spates"]Fresh Produce[/caption]


We've said it before. We're saying it again. Going organic makes a difference. Here's how.
I’d like to draw attention to the concept of the “Butterfly Effect.” Developed by American meteorologist Edward Lorenz, though inspired by Ray Bradbury’s short story “The Sound of Thunder,” the logic behind the Butterfly Effect states that even small, seemingly unimportant actions nevertheless have tremendous and powerful effects down the line. While Lorenz theorized this in the sense of weather conditions, the root the idea can hold true for human action. If anything, it can serve to be a powerful analogy: imagine a butterfly flapping its wings, and a hurricane subsequently occurring a hundred miles away.

Read the article here.


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Sugar: Education Not Regulation

Marion Nestle, Food Politics writes today that a prestigious science magazine in the UK has published a commentary that "sugar is toxic and should be regulated". We regulate tobacco and alcohol for public health's sake; why not sugar?

Their rationale?

  • Consumption of sugars has tripled over the last 50 years.

  • Many people consume as much as 500 calories a day from sugars (average per capita availability in the U.S. is about 400 calories a day)

  • High intake of fructose-containing sugars induce metabolic syndrome (high blood pressure, insulin resistance), diabetes, and liver damage.

  • Sugars have the potential for abuse.

  • Sugars have negative effects on society (mediated via obesity).

  • Too much of a good thing can be toxic.

I am strictly laissez-faire when it comes to people's right to choose. Chacun a son gout. I also have an abiding faith in human nature: when we know better, we do better if we want to.

"Want to" is crucial.

If people want to smoke, they're going to smoke even when they know the consequences. If people want to drink... and so on. We cannot legislate a health consciousness. But we can create public awareness to set the table for lifestyle change, as the tobacco industry has learned.

As someone who is interested in real food, good food and good health, would you knowingly eat 400 sugar calories a day? At 15 calories per teaspoon, that's 26.7 teaspoons of sugar every day! Added sugar, not naturally occurring.

The fact is that sugar and its evil twin high-fructose corn syrup is "hidden" in so much food that people buy for supposed health, they simply don't know how much of it they ingest. reports:
Ruby red grapefruit is a health gem, but as juice, it brims with sugar. In fact, a 10-ounce glass of grapefruit juice contains 10 packets of sugar! Before you quench your thirst with this sweetened beverage, be sure to check out these five nutrition label facts.

Breakfast cereal for kids has so much sugar, we might as well feed them cookies for breakfast.

So why not label the damn products honestly to make people aware of their true sugar consumption?

Then we get to choose our poison as it were.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Silicone Serving Plates

Covo Silicone Serving Plates by Nao Tamura

Seasons silicone serving plates by Nao Tamura for Covo are a must have for people who serve food as a feast for the eyes as well as the appetite. They marry beauty to practicality.  Buy them online at Unica Home. 
we are fairly aware of the great and wonderful changes silicone has made to the chefs and the cooking process. heat and cold resistant, the stuff is only vulnerable to sharp objects.

enter nao tamura, who realized that a molded silicone item could be functional AND decorative. add a bit of finishing by hand and you have a beautiful naturalist form. stackable, dishwasher safe (although we suggest handwashing)- a thousand uses ranging from cookware to service to decor.