Monday, November 28, 2011

Bacon Pear Brussels Sprouts Explosion

The brussels sprout, a member of the cabbage family, has never been my favorite vegetable. As my tastes have expanded and matured, I've experimented with various recipes and found them to be a delightful vegetable if cooked properly.  
Although named after the city in Belgium, few historians believe the plant originated there. Most historians believe the plant originated in ancient Rome. Brussels sprouts were first mentioned in writings of 16th century, but what was not well known was their health benefits. Today we know they contain good amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C, folic acid, and dietary fibers. The plant has other enzyme properties that help in the fight of disease. We can all use some of these delicious brussels sprouts to stay healthy!  I used this recipe as a side dish to our Thanksgiving celebration and it was a hit. This recipe can certainly be used for any special dinner you'd like to wow your guests. 

Recipe Ingredients: 

1 Pound of fresh brussels sprouts 
6 Slices of bacon 
1 Asian pear
4 Tablespoons of maple syrup 
1 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 Teaspoons of dijon herbs de provence mustard 
2 Teaspoons of soy sauce 
1/4 Teaspoon of cayenne pepper 
1/4 cup of water
Salt & Pepper

In a small bowl, whisk maple syrup, vinegar, mustard, soy sauce, and cayenne pepper. Set aside 
Cook bacon in a large skillet on medium high heat until done. Transfer the cooked bacon to a plate lined with paper towels to soak up extra bacon grease. 
Discard all but two tablespoons of bacon grease.  
Prepare brussels sprouts by cutting off stems and cutting in halves. Peal the pear, and cut into bite size cubes. break bacon up into bite sizes.  
Cook brussels sprouts in the bacon grease on medium high heat for about 5 minutes. I like to add a splash of water to help soften the vegetable. After water stems off and brussels sprouts are browned, add sauce and pears. Toss vegetables and fruit in sauce for 2-3 minutes. 
Turn off heat, add bacon, add salt and pepper to taste and toss once more. 
 I found it hardly needed salt. 

Happy Cooking & Eating Organic!  

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Turkey Pot Pie (After Thanksgiving)

What are you gonna do with the turkey leftovers? You're gonna make a delicious turkey pot pie with fresh herbs! This recipe is inspired by my husband who didn't want me to use any canned cream of mushroom soup for his turkey pot pie (Canned food warning). Thankfully this recipe has minimal salt because of him. Thanksgiving dinner parties at our home include many orphans who have no family near by, or no family at all, but they really missed the best part of all this festivity. This turkey pot pie should please any hungry lost urban soul who should stray to your home after Thanksgiving.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.


1 cup of shredded turkey 
1/4 cup peas
1 small  carrot
3/4 cup mushrooms

2 tbsp butter
2 leaves basil
1 sprig marjoram
1 sprig oregano
1 sprig parsley
1 sprig sage
1/2 small red onion

1 cup 1/2 & 1/2
3 tbsp flour
1/4 teaspoon salt & pepper
2 Pillsbury pie shells

First separate all the turkey meat from carcass. Save 1 cup of turkey meat shredding for your pie. Chop carrots, mushrooms, onions and herbs.
In a sauce pan, saute onions, peas, carrots in butter for a 2-3 minutes on medium heat. Next, add herbs, mushrooms, while stirring in 1/2 & 1/2 slowly, for 1-2 minutes. Lower heat to low, and add 1 tablespoon of flour at a time, mixing constantly. Last add salt and pepper. Turn heat off after 1-2 minutes.  This mix is done very quickly. Do not over cook cream. It should never boil.  Next prepare your pie shells. I'm not a pastry chef, so I use Pillsbury pie shells. See picture below.
Place meat in pie bed making an even layer. Pour sauce from pan on top of meat.
Next cut the edges of the extra dough to the edge of pie dish. Cover with another pie shell dough, crinkling in edges.

Last, with extra pie dough make a symbol for your pie. Here is my pie symbol.
Cook for 35-40 minutes. Basically long enough to bake the dough and have it turn golden brown.
Let it cool for 5 minutes before you serve to all your loved ones! Enjoy this pie, it serves about 4 people.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Chard On My Mind

The Urban Dictionary defines hipsters as "a subculture of men and women typically in their 20's and 30's who value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter." 
Oh Urban Dictionary, you forgot to include "must enjoy urban gardening, or at least the thought of it!" 
Local Butcher Shop, Berkeley, CA Meat Chart

In my mind, you are not a hipster unless you eat local and organic. A true hipster understands the importance of local durable economies that support healthy living. Call me radical, or in the minority for now, but I do imagine one day there will not be a choice between organic and industrially grown fruits/vegetables/meats. No distinction will be necessary, because obviously pesticides and chemicals used to grow our food, cause our cells to turn cancerous! Who can deny that reality? Perhaps, San Francisco will be the first to implement this into law, along with mandatory composting, ban on plastic bags, and recycling of cooking oil in all restaurants. Thank goodness for San Francisco's progressive thinking. It might scare some people reading this, because it will be a simple world, and you might actually have to grow your own vegetables in your garden or deck. 
Port of Oakland, CA cranes
Now I don't want to confuse you, dear reader, by bringing up the hipster and occupy movement in the same post, but somehow they are both swimming in my mind as helicopters fly overhead covering today's march from downtown Oakland to the quiet loveliness that is our urban Lake Merritt. It is the sign of our times that people are desperately searching for a better paradigm to urban living, a desire so strong that drives people to march in the streets. Sometimes, change is chaotic and makes no sense, but necessary to move people into some type of action. 

When the Occupy Oakland people marched all the way to the ports of Oakland, I wondered if they really knew what they were doing. Now, if they had done some guerrilla gardening in the huge expanse they stood in, I would have thought differently. As all eyes of the nation were on them, a statement about our food production would have been an incredible accomplishment! When I go by the Oakland Ports, I don't wish for more goods and cars to arrive from other countries, I imagine large expansive orchards and fields of edible green, yellow, orange plants growing. This vision is happening only after all the pollutants from the concrete and containers are cleared. So much pollution we cause to this planet that it's no wonder the climate is out of balance.
Baby Chard
When I mentioned action, I don't mean political, but taking matters into their own hands. We are not talking about how industrial farming has focused too much on profit and not enough on sustainable quality for ourselves and the planet, but yes we need to reinvent modern farming. Which reminds me of many friends that enjoy the pleasures of urban gardening. Urban gardening can be limiting in many ways because of lack of space, but it can be sustainable for focused people and communities that share visions of healthy eating. Take my small winter efforts grown in large ceramic pots. I treasure these lovely hardy winter greens. I even enjoy watching how gently and slowly they shoot up into the cold air. They require a lot of fertilizer since they are grown in pots, but they are most expressive when I add my own compost.  Look at this rich soil created by these worms. Compost contains macro and micro nutrients, and is full of healthy bacteria that break down organics (kitchen food scraps) into plant available nutrients.
Homemade Compost
What people in other countries wouldn't give for this rich soil in my hand. But in reality, composting can be done by all of people. Good work San Francisco, on making one the toughest laws in the nations - mandatory composting! (Now we need to get the City of Oakland on board.) From such rich compost the seeds, the plants, the fruits, the vegetables, and even the animals sustain their existence. The most basic building blocks are found in this soil, for all the hipsters, 99% occupiers, and even the1% of this grand nation; in this being of the same species, we must all eat! Buy, Grow Local, Eat Organic, Save the Planet.

Friday, November 11, 2011

My Veteran Will Eat Anything

In honor of Veterans Day, not to mention 11-11-11 binary amazement, and all the changing tides in the American people awakening to things such as guerrilla gardening, I want to mention how amazing my man is!
He has multiple talents and the compassion of a saint, but most of all, he eats whatever I put in front of him, no matter how experimental. What a joy for me!  He will put up with crispy rice, too salty of a salsa, overcooked meats, all because I am usually doing three projects at once in the house. He has been supportive of my experimenting in gardening, worm composting, and herb gardening in the window.  He suggested I make sauce out of my undesirable first tomatoes ~ great idea hon! How can I complain. He is an Iraq War Veteran and I guess this might play a little into him being grateful for the little things in life, like unmelted chocolate, a hot shower, and a good strong Knob Creek & Coke with ice. Most of all I am glad he is with me to see another bright day, unharmed physically, but touched spiritually by all he has seen and done. Back to the kitchen, something smells burning on the stove!

82nd Airborne Veteran

Paratroopers~ 82nd Airborne Mass Jump