Simply in Season

News and reflections on all that's good about local food
from the co-author of Simply in Season,
a World Community Cookbook in the spirit of More-with-Less

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

SIS at farmers' markets; Sojourners

If it wasn’t cheering enough to see the great articles on food/faith in the May Sojourners, what a joy to receive a number of notes from farmers, asking about selling Simply in Season at their farmers market stands. Can this be done?

Why, yes! And if I may say so, a deep discount on bulk orders yields a tidy profit for such entrepreneurial farmers.

For details, contact Patricia Weaver at Herald Press: Patricia at (substitute @ for “at”).

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Pumpkin chocolate cheesecake

Can't have an Earth Day Earth Dinner without dessert. But wait a minute . . . .

. . . Foods that are good for the earth can be just plain good, too, folks! Personally, I'll take real whipped cream and a pass on the carob -- especially if there's an option for fair trade chocolate (yowza, and check out Equal Exchange's new Organic Dark Chocolate Minis).

No offense, Russ, but here's another dessert option. ("Rustle the Leaf" shared by permission. Who woulda thought there'd be an environmental comic? The website even has lesson plans and e-cards -- take a look.)

Simply in Season Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake
1 cup / 250 ml chocolate wafer or graham cracker crumbs
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon oil
Combine with a little water and press into the bottom of a 9-inch /1-L springform pan coated with cooking spray. Set aside.

3 cups / 750 ml low-fat cottage cheese (don’t use non-fat)
12 ounces / 350 g cream cheese(softened)
1 1/4 cups / 300 ml sugar
1/4 cup / 60 ml cornstarch or arrowroot powder
Puree cottage cheese in blender or food processor. Add remaining ingredients and beat until smooth. Pour into a bowl.

2 eggs (beaten)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
Mix in. Remove 1 1/2 cups / 375 ml batter and set aside.

1 1/2 cups / 375 ml pumpkin (cooked and pureéd -- canned is fine)
1/4 cup / 60 ml brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Add to remaining batter.

1/3 cup / 75 ml baking cocoa
1 cup / 250 ml chocolate chips
Add to the reserved batter. Stir until thoroughly blended.

Pour pumpkin mixture into crust-lined pan then spoon chocolate mixture on top in small rounds; swirl together with a knife.

Bake in preheated oven at 325F / 160C until edge of filling is set, 60-65 minutes. Let cheesecake stand in oven with door closed for 30 minutes. Remove and cool on rack to room temperature, about 3 hours. Cover and refrigerate for several hours before serving.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Dining in Salmon Nation

No plans yet for celebrating Earth Day this Saturday, April 22? No worries!

One simple but meaningful way to mark the day is by having an Earth Dinner: a meal of local, sustainably grown foods. A deck of cards from Organic Valley forms the basis of a dinner game in which participants learn the story of the food: how it was produced, where and by whom -- as well as the role food has played in the lives of everyone gathered around the table.

[Digression #1: I like the sample "Fun Facts" card which tells about rice and asks, "How do you prepare rice?" Most devoted users of the More-with-Less Cookbook -- the first in the series of which Simply in Season is a part -- will remember the rule of thumb (or rather, rule of forefinger) for adding water to the rice without a measuring cup: Use enough to immerse your index finger from "tip to middle of first knuckle."]

[Digression #2: Note that Organic Valley is not on this fascinating chart showing corporate ownership of many familiar organic brands. Did you know that Morningstar Farms is owned by Kellogg, Boca by Kraft, and Odwalla by Coca Cola, to name a few?]

[Cool map, eh? Listen to the NPR story about RAFT (Renewing America's Food Traditions) coalition's map of North America based on food traditions.]

For those of us living in Salmon Nation, a delightful Earth Day celebration meal could center on the Simply in Season recipe of the week, Asian Grilled Salmon – but drat it, the spring salmon run has been extremely low this year. And we really can’t blame the entire problem on that Einstein of a sea lion that’s been chowing down at the fish ladders of the Bonneville Dam.

Simply in Season notes that a number of organizations create lists of best/worst picks for seafood, based on which species are currently most abundant and well-managed. See samples from Environmental Defense and Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch.

Recommendations can vary somewhat, but wild salmon tends to go on the "best picks" list while Atlantic or farmed salmon ("Atlantic" salmon can be raised in the Pacific Ocean, too) goes on the "worst picks" side.

For a quick rundown on issues related to salmon farming, go to the slide show at the Salmon Nation website: at the top of the page under "The Fish," select "Just ask: Is it wild?" Among its charges:

– The fish poop generated in densely stocked fish pens flows directly into the surrounding waters, creating an enormous pollution problem.

– Despite high use of antibiotics diseases spread rapidly, infecting wild fish that swim past the pens. A recent study in the Jan. 5 edition of The North American Journal of Fisheries Management provides more evidence that sea lice from fish farms are killing wild salmon.

– When farm-raised Atlantic salmon escape their pens, they compete for habitat with wild fish.

It’s great to see, though, at least one way of farming salmon that addresses all of these concerns. The 100-Mile Diet folks report on an innovative farmer who raises coho salmon in land-based – or to be more precise, barn-based – pens. Rather than fish waste going into the ocean, at this farm it fertilizes wasabi plants. "That's a sushi meal ready to go" – no complaints here.

Environmental Defense has also announced a new partnership intended to address problems with salmon farming. From their press release:

"In partnership with Environmental Defense, two major food purveyors have unveiled a new purchasing policy for farm-raised salmon that requires suppliers to meet tough health and environmental standards. . . . This collaboration marks the first time that two major seafood purchasers have partnered with an environmental organization and agreed on production standards for farmed salmon. . . . Among other changes, producers must meet a stringent health standard for PCBs and other toxic contaminants, take unprecedented steps to reduce potential impacts on wild salmon, use innovative production systems that do not discharge chemicals and metals into the ocean, and reduce their dependence on wild fish for salmon feed (conventional salmon farming consumes large amounts of wild fish)."

Whatever you choose, just don’t spoil your seafood dinner with the wrong wine. If you select a Northwest vintage, check the bottle for a "Salmon-Safe" certification label:

"Erosion and runoff from hill side vineyards can bring silt into streams, reducing the ability of native salmon to spawn and thrive. . . . Salmon-Safe helps vineyards protect and restore salmon habitat by planting trees on streams, growing cover crops to control run-off, and apply natural methods to control weeds and pests. . . . Look for the Salmon-Safe label . . . and get the satisfaction of knowing that your purchase is helping keep our rivers safe for salmon."

[Oh -- and please don't miss this whale of a poem. Them's good eatin'.]

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Fast food, fair food, faithful food

It is a week for sacred food. For those of Jewish faith, the weeklong observance of Passover begins tomorrow. And on Thursday, Christians remember the night before Jesus’ death: the night he broke bread, blessed and shared it, and passed a cup of wine saying, “Do this in remembrance of me.”

What better time to note a few of the ways faith communities are taking action to create more just, earth-friendly agricultural and trade systems.

'I'm Not Lovin' It'
The National Farm Worker Ministry and several other religious organizations declared March 31, 2006, the Day of Prayer and Meditation to Advance Real Rights for Farmworkers -- an event in the midst of the 10-day McDonald’s Truth Tour. The tour was led by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, leaders of the successful four-year boycott of Taco Bell.

“We’ve been calling on McDonald’s to do what Taco Bell has already done; namely to work with the CIW to improve wages and advance farmworkers’ rights in its own tomato supply chain,” said the Rev. Dr. Bob Edgar, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches USA.

“McDonald’s clearly knows how to do better,” CIW said, noting that the fast-food giant recently announced an agreement to purchase only fair-trade coffee for over 650 of its restaurants.

[In other news, take a look at the Greenpeace campaign which links fast food to the trashing of the Amazon rainforest. This time the issue isn't raising beef cattle on what used to be forestland, but growing soy beans which are turned into chicken feed. "Every time you buy a Chicken McNugget, you could be taking a bite out of the Amazon."]

‘Revenge of the Acronyms: WTO, NAFTA, CAFTA and FTAA’
This Thursday, April 13, begins the Week of Action on Trade Justice sponsored by Presbyterian Church (USA). Activities include support for Co-op America’s “Adopt a Supermarket” campaign, in which consumers sign up to be what I think of as “holy pests”: people who keep pressure on supermarkets to carry and promote more fairly traded products, and who educate fellow consumers about why it’s important to buy these products.

2007 Farm Bill
The National Catholic Rural Life Conference is planting seeds of preparation for the 2007 Farm Bill. Its Winter 2005 issue of Rural Life magazine offers a dozen visions of “a new farm and food policy for the American countryside.”

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Meatrix II

Yes, the long-awaited "Meatrix II: Revolting" is here. Take a look.