Monday, March 28, 2011

Salad Spinners

I gave a talk Saturday about ways to incorporate more local foods and greens into your diet. One of the recipes I demo'd was a salad with my 30-second salad dressing. I told participants that a salad spinner is a great idea. When your lettuce is dry, the salad dressing adheres better so you need less of it. (Another tip for using less dressing is to toss your salad in a bowl with the dressing. When you put salad on your plate and add teh dressing there, you'll use much more.)

I also love that my spinner came with a cover. When I get my head of lettuce home from the farmers' market, I tear off the leaves, soak and wash the whole head and spin in the spinner. Then I replace the spinner part with a cover and I have clean, ready-to-use lettuce all week. It's much cheaper and much healthier than the bagged lettuce sold in stores which has been found to contain high levels of bacteria.

One of the attendees gave me a couple of other uses for salad spinners so I thought I'd share.

- If you put too much dressing on your salad, put it in the spinner and spin off the excess.

- When you hand wash items, spin them in your spinner before you lay them out to dry. She says she has an old one exclusively for this--I'm going to check the thrift store when I go. I think this would be great to dry bathing suits too. Would I look weird carrying a salad spinner to the high school pool?

So how about you--any salad spinner tips you want to share?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Governments are protecting farmers against GMO

Unfortunately, not the US government. But in South America, wide-spread health and environmental disasters have forced them to take action. In Europe, less than .06 percent are planted with GM crops. See the full article here.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Orange-Cardamom Scones

Here's an easy scone recipe that we love. The scones have a delicious flavor from the orange and spice. We especially love them topped with apricot jam (try the 20-minute apricot jam recipe in The Vegetarian Mother's Cookbook made from dried apricots!)

Orange-Cardamom Scones

2 cups whole wheat pastry or spelt flour
2 tablespoons unbleached sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
Juice and grated peel or 1 orange
1/4 cup cold vegan butter or coconut oil, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup nondairy milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly oil a baking sheet. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cardamom, and grated peel of one orange. Mix the butter into the flour mixture with a fork, pastry cutter, or your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse meal. A food processor works well for this too.

Mix the juice of one orange (about 1/4 cup) and the milk together in small cup. Stir into flour mixture, until it begins to hold together. Knead with your hands to form a ball. Add more milk if necessary together it to hold together. Place dough on floured board and roll out to a 7-inch disc of about 3/4-inch thickness. Cut into 8 wedges. Place wedges on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes, or until bottom and edges are golden brown. Cool slightly before serving.

Makes 8 scones

Thursday, March 10, 2011

I'm in love!

. . . with my new slow cooker. Dinner #3 was another big hit with the family. Here's what I did.

White Bean Soup

2 cups dried navy beans
1 small onion, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
1 quart vegetable stock
3 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
2 cups frozen corn
4 cups chopped fresh spinach
sea salt and black pepper to taste

Soak beans in lots of water overnight (I do this right in the slow cooker, why bother with another dish.) Drain soak water and place beans in slow cooker turned on to low. Add onion, garlic, potatoes, carrots, stock, water, oregano, and basil. Cover and cook on low about 8 hours (or longer). Stir in corn and spinach. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook another 15 minutes or so, until corn and spinach are cooked.

My family liked this topped with parmesan (dairy or nondairy version).

Serves 8

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

New Slow Cooker

Hooray--I got a new slow cooker! After checking online reviews, I decided on a Hamilton Beach oval slow cooker and took it for its first test run yesterday. I got 17 Bean & Barley Mix from Trader Joes, which I soaked overnight. In the morning, I put onion, garlic, diced carrots, oregano, basil, and half veggie stock and half water in the pot with the bean mix on low. I came home to the most wonderful aroma--in fact, the girls asked for bowls of soup for their snack--they couldn't wait until dinner. I added some diced zucchini and chopped kale and let it cook for another hour and we ate it for dinner. Everyone had more than one serving and we have just enough leftover for lunch. Hooray for slow cookers!

Friday, March 04, 2011

BOCA Burgers made with GE soy

If you are avoid genetically-engineered foods, you may want to stay away from BOCA burgers. The BOCA website's FAQ page says:

"We're committed to providing you with great-tasting products made with the highest-quality soy. It's a fact that much of the high-quality soy grown in the U.S. has been genetically engineered, so the traditional BOCA line of soy-based products may contain ingredients derived from these crops."

They go on to say that BOCA has a non-GMO line as well, but according to the Organic Consumers Association, "these products are neither certified organic (organic prohibits GMOs) nor monitored by the Non-GMO Project, so it's impossible to verify BOCA's non-GMO claims."

I recommend avoiding any soy products that are not certified organic. If you really want a quick veggie burger, try my 15-minute veggie burger. It's so nice to know exactly what's in your burger.