Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Day 116: Have a Greener 4th of July

It seems like everyone is vacationing this time of year. Happy 4th of July and all that stuff.

Here's some tips for "greening" your 4th of July celebration.

Hint: charcoal is out, barbequed meat is out, fireworks are out, and party decorations are out. Man, talk about a buzzkill. Well, now wait, I didn't hear anything about beer, so bring out the local keg or growler and let's get this party started!

On the other hand, those of you who are running in a July 4th 5k race (raise your hand!) know that drinking a bunch of beer is no way to grab that elusive Personal Record in this 90-degree-heat. So pass the ice water...

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Day 115: Simple Food

Summer is great for enjoying simple foods: beans picked right out of the garden, blackberries, tomatoes. The flavors are so good there is no need to dress anything up with all kinds of crazy sauces or drown them in fancy trimmings.

Here's a lovely salad that we had tonight using stuff from the garden and farmer's market.

Grilled Chicken Salad

Grilled chicken from the farmer's market (marinated for 5 minutes in balsamic vinegar, sliced into medallions), greens and carrots from the grocery store, tomatoes from the garden, cucumber from the farmer's market. Delish and so simple. Just let the summertime flavors speak for themselves.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Day 114: Meatless Monday

Meatless Monday is a global campaign to get folks to stop eating meat on Mondays. The campaign is based on the fact that reducing meat by 15% (or one-seventh) can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save money, and may even make you healthier overall.

This particular Meatless Monday coincides nicely with a fresh UN report on the impact of eating dairy and meat:
Agriculture, particularly meat and dairy products, accounts for 70% of global freshwater consumption, 38% of the total land use and 19% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions...

Come on, one day a week is a piece of (vegetarian) cake.

Here are some meatless recipes to get you started:
Sweet Zucchini-Eggplant Salad
Ginger-Garlic Sugar Snaps and Shiitakes

Sunday, June 20, 2010

More on mining, make that 'moron mining'

And Rand Paul is the moron. We've posted about mountaintop removal many times here on Green v Green.

It is an issue near and dear to my heart because it is intractable and complex and heart-wrenching. On the one hand you have the environmental cost of this incredibly destructive type of mining. On the other hand, we are basically trapped here in NC into using coal mined in this manner. Even as I sit here today typing this message, my laptop is running on power generated from mountaintop removal. Powering down and lightening our load on the grid is a TOP priority here in our house.

So when Rand Paul attempts to "simplify" this issue by brushing it off, saying "I don't think anyone's going to be missing a hill or two" about mountaintop removal mining in KY (where he's running for Senate), I am incensed. Here are before and after pictures of the Rape of Appalachia. Disgusting. This comes days after Paul called it "un-American" to force BP to pay for its damages in the Gulf of Mexico. This guy is an environmental train wreck.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Day 113: Sweet Eggplant-Zucchini Salad

So last week I wrote that it wasn't quite tomato season yet. Well, it is now! Here's something to use up some of those beautiful tomatoes and eggplants we're seeing all over the gardens and farmer's markets now.

This is a twist on the traditional summertime eggplant-zucchini ratatouille (the French version) or caponata (the Italian version). I got the inspiration from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. (Many of you might recognize him from his New York Times articles about food or even from Runner's World magazine bits about fitness nutrition.)

Sweet Eggplant-Zucchini Salad

Zucchini-Eggplant Salad

All the veggies in this recipe came from Redbud Farm (at the Elon farmer's market) except the jalapeno and the mint, which came from my very own garden!

Market Ingredients:
1 eggplant, chopped into 1" pieces (rosa bianca eggplant is shown in the picture)
1 yellow zucchini, chopped (not a squash)
1 green zucchini, chopped
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
1 jalapeno or other hot pepper, minced very fine
2 tomatoes, chopped (I had extra cherry tomatoes too so I added those)
1 handful of mint leaves, minced

Ingredients from the pantry:
3 TB olive oil, divided
1 tsp cinnamon
1 TB lemon juice
salt and pepper

1. Heat 2T olive oil over medium heat in a stainless steel skillet. Add the eggplant and sprinkle some salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes or until eggplant is soft. Remove eggplant from pan into bowl.

2. Add zucchini to hot pan with 1T olive oil. Cook for 2 minutes, then add onion and jalapeno. Cook for a few minutes until onions begin to get soft. Add 1 teaspoon cinnamon.

3. Add the tomatoes. Simmer for a few minutes to blend the flavors. Add some salt and pepper and the lemon juice. When everything looks good, add the eggplant back in. Toss in the mint leaves and stir to mix everything. Make sure all the pieces are nice and soft, and that the flavors are mixed throughout.

4. Serve over small toasts (toasted baguette, sliced) or with fresh mozzarella pieces.

Zucchini-Eggplant Salad

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Day 112: Blackberries

I feel like words can not do this justice. Today on the way back from checking out the new Shallow Ford park on Gerringer Mill Rd., I stopped at the Gibsonville Farmer's market. A woman named Debbie was selling quarts of blackberries for $5.

I went immediately to Lowe's and picked up a pint of Homeland Creamery ice cream.

Pulled a few sprigs of cinnamon basil and mint from the garden outside, and here was my lunch. Don't tell the kids.

Vanilla ice cream with blackberries

Friday, June 4, 2010

Day 111: Quick and easy loca-zagna

Loca-zagna: It's an all-local (ok, mostly local) and seasonal QUICK lasagna dinner.

This lasagna has farmer's market ingredients purchased at the Elon Community Church farmer's market (every Thursday 3:00-6:30pm) and from one farm directly (Asgard).

Local lasagna

I bought greens from Redbud Farm, eggs from Asgard farm, ricotta and mozzarella from Calico Farmstead Cheese, and goat meat from, well, I can't remember because Tony bought this and paid cash so I have no receipt. It might have been T5 and it was 2 booths down from Redbud. Anyway, it was from the farmer's market. You can buy this all in one place, combine with some pantry staples, and end up with dinner in less than an hour.

Market ingredients:
4 cups wilted chopped greens, drained well and squeezed
1 lb ricotta cheese
1 egg
3 cloves garlic, minced (divided)*
1 handful parsley leaves, chopped fine
1 lb goat meat
1 small handful fresh chopped oregano
1/2 pound mozzarella, shredded with a hand-grater

Pantry ingredients:
8-10 whole wheat lasagna noodles, or as many as you need to make 2 layers in a 9x12 pan
1 jar spaghetti sauce (no, it's not tomato season quite yet)

1. Boil water and cook the lasagna noodles according to package directions.

2. While the noodles are cooking, chop and steam your greens, or wilt them in a saute pan until they are tender. Squeeze out all the moisture. You want them as dry as possible.

3. In a medium bowl, mix half the garlic, chopped parsley, 1 egg, the ricotta, and the greens. This will be a fairly dry and crumbly mixture.

4. In a large skillet, brown the goat meat. Near the end of cooking, mix in the rest of the minced garlic and the chopped oregano leaves. Remove meat from heat once it is done.

5. Drain the noodles once they are done cooking.

6. Once the noodles are done, the meat is done, and the ricotta mixture is mixed, you are ready to assemble the lasagna. Open the jar of sauce and spread just enough to barely cover the bottom of the lasagna pan. (This is a very thin layer, maybe 1/2 cup at the most, just to keep the noodles from sticking.) Place your first layer of noodles in the pan. Cover with one half of the ricotta mixture, then half the goat meat mixture, then half the remaining sauce.

7. Repeat the layers: noodles, ricotta, meat, sauce. Top with shredded mozzarella.

8. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes. Enjoy.

Don't forget to re-use your sauce jar for coffee.

*Note about garlic. Many of you might be saying, how'd she buy garlic at the farmer's market?? Well, Redbud farm had these things that looked like leeks or vidalia spring onions, but they were garlic. I minced them up and used them in cooking. One thing to note, they dry out quickly; they're not quite as moist as an onion. So if you cut it to use half, use the other half quickly or it will get too dried out to use.

On Less Packaging

We've covered packaging and buying in bulk before, but in case you want another round of commentary on this timely topic (oil in the gulf helps fuel our addiction to plastic and California is considering banning free plastic bags in the checkout line), here's an article from HuffPo Green on Living without Waste.

Buying Groceries in Bulk