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How Do Your Eggs Rate?

17 May

by Green Gourmet K

Image from bembee.com

Recently I came across this Organic Egg Scorecard from the Cornucopia Institute.   They rated egg producers all across the country on a scale of 1-egg (least desirable rating – ethically deficient) to 5-eggs (most desirable – exemplary, beyond organic).   The egg producers were rated based on a variety of criteria, including the chicken’s access to the outdoors, the quality of the indoor space, and their organic ratings and commitment to organic egg production.

In fact, this Scorecard came from an in-depth report Cornucopia completed, entitled “Scrambled Eggs: Separating Factory Farm Egg Production from Authentic Organic Agriculture,” if you’re interested in learning more.

Check out the Scorecard to see how the eggs you buy and eat rate!

Maybe it’s time to upgrade to a better egg?

Or maybe you’re even secretly wishing you could have a couple chickens in your backyard?  Me too!

Image from walletpop.com

Check out this post from RunLoriRun called “Pimp My Coop.”  Now, I really want a fun chicken coop!

Image from runlorirun.com

Savannah Soap Co. – A Green Laundromat

3 May

by Green Gourmet K

I am departing from our usual food-based blog theme today to share a great “green” business I came across in Savannah.

Recently I found myself in the predicament of no clean sheets and no dryer and a serious amount of pollen outside that prevented my sheets from being line-dried. As you all may know, the husband and I have been living apart while he finishes school. So he kept the washer and dryer and I bought a dinky washer on craigslist. I have been line-drying or hanging my clothes on a rack.

Drying your clothes this way is a great way to make them last longer but you do have to iron them usually and if you need a few things to shrink from the heat of the dryer then you are out of luck. I’d like to say I am just being eco-conscious and not using the dryer because of the energy suck that it is, but alas, that is not true. I miss the dryer and line drying is not so fantastic when the occasional scent of pulp mill flows into your backyard.

That is how I found myself with no clean sheets and no way to dry them, without giving myself pollen hives. I asked my co-worker where a safe laundromat was so that I could do a load of bedding. She said she’d heard of a new “green” laundromat and it looked nice. I decided to check it out.

I was dreading the laundromat, being able to wash clothes in the privacy of your own home is such a luxury. I no longer take it for granted. The laundromat is always full of potent smelling detergents, it’s usually very hot, and you have to sit and wait while your clothes do their thing. And sometimes you have to sit and wait with some unsavory characters. But this is no ordinary laundromat. In fact, it made me re-think the laundromat and how it can actually be a place where you go to save time. I washed a set of sheets, two blankets and a mattress pad in one load and the whole wash and drying cycle together took less than 45 minutes. I kid you not, their washing machines are so efficient and remove most of the water so the drying cycle literally took 14 minutes.

The Savannah Soap Co. is located off of Abercorn at 12324 Largo Drive, Savannah, Georgia. This laundromat has a drop off service or you can do your clothes yourself and choose the right size washer and dryer for your laundry. They also have washers, called “Perfect Wash,” that will add the soap and softener for you. The soaps they use are all earth-friendly, and they have a board up front to tell you which soap they have loaded up that day. You are, of course, welcome to bring your own soap and softener.

The Savannah Soap Co. also sells great green laundry and cleaning products, like the Mrs. Meyer’s line (one of my favorites!). They also carry a lot of products that are safe for babies.

Check out this organic stain pen – I had no idea this was an option but this is the kind of unusual and practical “green” products the Savannah Soap Co. carries.

You can sip on an iced tea while waiting for your clothes to do their thing.

I mean who wouldn’t feel calm and relaxed while sitting this laundromat?

Now that my husband has moved down to Savannah, and we have our washer and dryer, I still plan to return to Savannah Soap Co. to do the occasional large load of bedding or slip covers. It would be well worth the money in my book and save me the hassle of doing multiple loads of laundry when I can be in and out in under and hour.

***Soap Co. did not pay me to write any of this – in fact, they have no clue who I am. I just enjoyed their establishment and thought others might like to know.

Ginger-Lime Baked Pineapple

20 Apr

by Green Gourmet K

I had a craving for some fruit when I was at the grocery store and pineapple was on sale for $1.99 so I snatched that up thinking I’d eat it fresh or throw some in a stir fry.  Then I promptly forgot about it until I realized I needed to cook it up ASAP!  I have never broiled or baked pineapple but it seemed like it was worth a shot.  Turns out this was the best decision I have made in a long time.

This dessert is my new favorite – because it is incredibly fresh tasting and has a nice balance of hot and cold, sweet and sour, fruity and creamy.  To get the hot and cold and sweet and sour part I used greek yogurt.  The naturally sweet pineapple  is almost caramelized by the buttery ginger-lime syrup and the unsweetened yogurt is a great complement.  Ice cream or a lightly sweetened cake would be good with the pineapple too but the plain yogurt does a nice job of balancing out the sweetness.

The baked pineapple could be made ahead and then heated and served later.

Ginger-Lime Baked Pineapple Dessert

Ingredients

Juice of 1/2 lime

2 tbsp. butter

1/2 cup of brown sugar

1/2 cup water

1 whole pineapple, cored and sliced

2 teaspoons of sliced fresh ginger

plain Greek yogurt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Core and slice one pineapple.  Arrange slices in a baking dish.

Peel and slice ginger, set aside.

Melt butter in saucepan with brown sugar, once melted, add the ginger, lime juice and water.

Let simmer on low until the mixture is syrup-like in consistency.

Pour over the pineapple, holding out the ginger slivers.

Bake for 25 minutes at 350, then broil or turn your oven up to 400 degrees and bake for 5 more minutes.  Let the pineapple cool for a few minutes before serving.  Spoon pineapple and sauce over greek yogurt and garnish with a small sliver of lime.

Serve immediately.

Enjoy!

Farmers Market Bounty

18 Apr

by Green Gourmet K

Slow Food Savannah debuted at the Forsyth Park Farmers Market this weekend and we had lots of visitors to our table.  The market was very busy as usual and we were fortunate to be able to speak to many people from our target audience.  Hopefully support and enthusiasm for the organization will continue to grow.

While at the market I of course did a little shopping of my own and found some really inspiring and beautiful ingredients.

First off, Slow Food Savannah’s table was right next to Walker Organic Farms and those folks know how to display and sell some good-looking organic produce.  One thing that caught my eye immediately were these root vegetables.

Ignore the wilted leaves, that was my fault for not bringing a cooler.  So what’s so great about this funny looking root vegetable?

Oh yes, look at that beautiful pink color!  This is a watermelon radish.  It has a slightly sweet taste but is spicy and crisp, like conventional radishes.  It was new to me and I love finding something I have never tried before.

The Walker folks also had lovely, colorful carrots.  These carrots make me sad for grocery store carrots, they will just never, ever be able to measure up to flavor and appeal of the real thing.

The radishes and one of the yellow carrots (no need to peel these organic carrots!) went right into a salad with Walker spinach, feta cheese and a homemade vinaigrette.

I also picked up this little guy:

An heirloom cherry tomato plant!  I can’t wait to get this guy planted in a big container.

I hope this inspires you all to get to your local farmer’s market and find out what special varieties of new and interesting foods you might be able to find.  My time there this weekend was a great inspiration for me and I can’t wait to see what else pops up at the market throughout the spring and into summer.

Bringing Slow Food to Savannah

13 Apr

by Green Gourmet K

Have y’all heard of the Slow Food movement?  Well, I had not until a couple of years ago.  The movement was born in Italy and grew into an international organization that supports good, clean and fair food for all.  Slow Food is all about eating local, seasonal food from sources that do not harm the environment, animal welfare or human health.

The Slow Food Manifesto was signed at the inception of the organization and it serves as a declaration against standardized food choices and a fast lifestyle:

“Born and nurtured under the sign of Industrialization, this century first invented the machine and then modelled its lifestyle after it. Speed became our shackles. We fell prey to the same virus: ‘the fast life’ that fractures our customs and assails us even in our own homes, forcing us to ingest “fast- food”.

Homo sapiens must regain wisdom and liberate itself from the ‘velocity’ that is propelling it on the road to extinction. Let us defend ourselves against the universal madness of ‘the fast life’ with tranquil material pleasure. Against those – or, rather, the vast majority – who confuse efficiency with frenzy, we propose the vaccine of an adequate portion of sensual gourmandise pleasures, to be taken with slow and prolonged enjoyment.

Appropriately, we will start in the kitchen, with Slow Food. To escape the tediousness of “fast-food”, let us rediscover the rich varieties and aromas of local cuisines.
In the name of productivity, the ‘fast life’ has changed our lifestyle and now threatens our environment and our land (and city) scapes. Slow Food is the alternative, the avant-garde’s riposte.

Real culture is here to be found. First of all, we can begin by cultivating taste, rather than impoverishing it, by stimulating progress, by encouraging international exchange programs, by endorsing worthwhile projects, by advocating historical food culture and by defending old-fashioned food traditions.

Slow Food assures us of a better quality lifestyle. With a snail purposely chosen as its patron and symbol, it is an idea and a way of life that needs much sure but steady support.”

I love that.  We all need to be reminded to slow down and enjoy food for the pleasure and health of it.   But Slow Food is so much more.

This is from the Slow Food USA site:  “Slow Food is an idea, a way of living and a way of eating. It is a global, grassroots movement with thousands of members around the world that links the pleasure of food with a commitment to community and the environment.”

Many cities have their own chapters and in Columbia and Charleston, SC the Slow Food chapters are a wealth of information on where to eat and buy local food.  The chapters can be adapted to the needs and culture of that city.  These organizations do an incredible job of connecting growers, producers, chefs, and consumers from all walks of life.   Many of them are also involved in basic food education and outreach.

When I moved to lovely Savannah I was floundering in my search for quality sources of local food.  I searched for their Slow Food chapter and was surprised to find they did not have one.   The website said “Savannah Slow Food – looking for new leadership,” and that was all the prompting I needed.  I emailed the Slow Food USA folks and they hooked me up with a small group of dedicated individuals that were also interested in establishing a chapter.   So off we go!

Two of the ladies who have really gotten the chapter off the ground are very talented individuals, I hope you will check out their blogs:

Inquisitive Appetite

Well Savannah

But here’s the big news . . .

Slow Food Savannah was officially established yesterday! Our big, public debut is this Saturday at the Forsyth Park Farmer’s Market.  We will be there at 9:00am and looking forward to speaking with anyone interested in supporting this new organization.  If you’re in Savannah, I hope you’ll come by.  We would love to share ideas, figure out the needs of the community, and help build connections that will support good, clean and fair food for all in Savannah.

Quinoa – Another Perspective

22 Mar

by Green Gourmet K

 

Quinoa - Image from Incaorganics.com

Yesterday I noticed an interesting article in the New York Times about how the popularity of quinoa (KEEN-wa) in America and Europe has been a boon for Bolivian farmers but has also caused the price of the grain to be out of reach for many in the country, who rely on it as a staple.  Now many in this region are relying on less expensive, and often nutritionally deficient foods, some of which are most likely from U.S. sources.  Quinoa has a relatively high protein content (14-18%), compared to other seed/grains, and it is loaded with amino acids and minerals.  It is also a great alternative for those on a gluten-free diet.  These characteristics have made it very popular in the U.S. and Europe.

 

Image from Bob's Red Mill site.

I found the conundrum the article presents very thought-provoking and it was difficult to write about this topic.   I have mixed feelings about this and I would guess many of you do as well.  Obviously, L and I are very interested in eating locally when we can, as well as eating foods with high nutritional value, and we both realize that we are fortunate to have the resources to do this.  Neither of us are rich, but by global standards, we are in a much better position than many and we should be grateful for the luxury of being able to choose what we eat.   Americans can choose to buy quinoa, jasmine rice, couscous, or whatever grain we want, it’s all there in your local grocery store.  This article was a great reminder that such a wide range of choices is not available to everyone, that we are the exception and our choices will affect others.

What do you all think?  Will you reconsider buying quinoa?

Now just to complicate matters, here’s a roundup of some of the interwebs best quinoa recipes:

 

Lemon-scented Quinoa Salad from 101 Cookbooks

 

Quinoa Cloud Cookies from 101 Cookbooks

Mexican-style Quinoa Salad by SummerTomato

Quinoa Turkey Burgers by ChefMom

Spiced Courgette, Quinoa and Apricot Salad from Essentially Healthy Food

Orange Quinoa Muffins by Gluten Free Gobsmacked

Whole Grain Quinoa Bread by Chef In You

Daily Dinner Inspiration

10 Mar

by Green Gourmet K

If you are like me then you find it easy to cook something for dinner that will result in leftovers that you want to eat the next day.  I am always in a rush in the morning so I just grab my leftovers, already boxed up, or I come home and reheat.  I find this a good money saving strategy too.  If I make something delicious I will be glad to eat it the next day, instead of staring at my canned soup wishing it were anything else but canned soup.

So where do you all get your inspiration for dinner?  We all probably have a certain number of recipes in the rotation.  But sometimes you want something different.  I do love to see what other food bloggers are cooking up.  One of my favorites is Smitten Kitchen, whatever she makes is golden.  You all know I am a fan of the Bon Appetit, and one thing I have started to enjoy lately are the emails I get from them.  They are mostly, “hey, buy more subscriptions!” but they usually have a good roundup of recipes too.

I found recent inspiration from one of these emails, a recipe for Sauteed Bacon, Lentils and Mushrooms.  Say what!?!  I happened to have many of the ingredients so this was easy to pull together.

To be clear, this is not my recipe, it is from Leite’s Culinaria and it is dang good.  I made a few tweaks, my version is below, but please feel free to compare these and choose the one you like.

Here it is:

Sautéed Bacon Mushrooms, and Lentils

(serves 6)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups small brown or green lentils, rinsed  ( I used green)
  • 4 cups cold water
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces of sliced baby portabella mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped, plus more for garnish
  • 1 whole lemon, squeezed
  • 6 to 12 slices bacon, preferably thick-cut

Directions

1. Place the lentils in a large saucepan, cover with the water, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer gently until tender, at least 35 minutes or so. (The exact timing will depend on the type and age of the lentils.) Drain well.

2. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees, place your bacon on parchment paper on a cookie sheet.  Bake for about 10-15 minutes depending on the thickness of your bacon.  Check and turn the bacon half way through.  When done place on paper towels to drain and crisp up.

3. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a skillet over medium heat, add the onion and sauté just until softened and pale golden, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the butter, the remaining oil, and the mushrooms and sauté until the mushrooms are tender. Season with salt and pepper. Add the lentils, a few tablespoons of chopped parsley, lemon juice, salt, and pepper and heat, stirring, just until warmed through. Remove and discard the garlic. Taste and season the lentils accordingly with more lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

4. Sprinkle the lentils with the parsley and bacon, left whole or crumbled into pieces, the more the better.

Now this is one dish I will be relishing at lunchtime today.