Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Annual Chili and Beer War Submission for 2014

The 8th Annual Connell Chili and Beer War was yet another unqualified success. A great time was had by all. Every time I go, I make new friends and feel so welcome and happy. I told my lovely hostess this is one of those events where I sometimes lament about not eating meat. As I look around at all of the simmering creations in the crock pots, I am amazed at all of the creative culinary definitions of chili. My friend and hostess was so considerate. She made a vegan chile so that we could experience more than one of the entries. It was really awesome, chunks of hearty vegetables, beans and soooooo much flavor.

Mr. Host is a beer aficionado. He has probably done the beer tour at OC many times. He shared some fun brews with the crowd by serving tastings of several unique microbrews. I was pleasantly surprised by a pumpkin ale he offered. Nothing better than excellent beer with hot chile!

Our chili was pretty well received. The flavor was rich and smokey. When I discussed it with the prior year's champion (and third place winner this year), she suggested that while it had very good flavor, it needed more texture. I concur, so I made some slight adjustment in the recipe below to add beans for more texture.  I used the DePuy or French lentils because A) I had a small amount left in the pantry and B) they are the type of lentils that stay more firm when cooked for long periods of time. I love the smokiness of the paprika and chipotle in this. I hope you do to! This a a pretty spicy chili. If you are more delicate, reduce the amount of jalapeños by half and use a milder chile powder.



Smoky Red Hot Chili

1 cup french lentils (DePuy)
2 1/4 cup water
1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 large pasilla chile pepper, diced
3 medium jalapeños, minced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon hot chile powder
1 tablespoon oregano
1/2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1teaspoon chipotle powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegan brown or red ale beer
1-15 oz. can fired roasted crushed tomatoes
1-15 oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1-8 oz can El Pato Salsa de Chile Fresco
1-6 oz can tomato paste
3 cups vegetable broth
2 bay leaves
1 cup organic textured vegetable protein (TVP)
1 - 15 oz can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

In a medium sized saucepan add lentils and water. Bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and simmer for 25-35 minutes until lentils are tender (they will still be somewhat firm).

In a large stock pot over medium heat add oil then onions and fresh peppers. Saute until softened and onions are translucent, about 7-10 minutes. If mixture starts to stick, add a little water Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add chile powder, oregano, cocoa, smoked paprika, cumin, chipotle powder and salt. Sauté until just fragrant, about 1 minute. Deglaze with beer and simmer for about 2 more minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, El Pato, tomato paste, vegetable broth and bay leaves. Combine well. Stir in TVP and beans. Let simmer for at least and hour to let those flavors develop.

Serve with diced green onions and vegan sour cream if desired. Oh and corn bread is a natural for this chili!


Monday, April 7, 2014

Tonapah Rob's Vegetable Farm and Bonus Recipe


The one thing I love about having a blog is that you can really write about whatever you want and whatever you love. Sometimes I write about things I think other people will like, sometimes I find some cool new restaurant, ingredient or cooking technique. This post is about something that makes me feel good about so many things: clean local food, environmentally friendliness and just good people.


A couple of weeks ago Fred, some of our friends and I took a drive out to Tonapah Rob's Farm located about 50 miles outside of Phoenix. My dear friend Jackie (who is my kindred spirit when it comes to cooking awesome food) booked a tour of the farm for our little group. She knows how passionate I am about organic and truly natural food, so she knew this field trip would make me a little giddy.

We arrived early so we could by some of the super freshly picked, pesticide, herbicide and GMO free vegetables from Rob's farm stand. There were beautiful carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, fennel, greens, onions and more. After hanging out for a while, we were ready for the tour. Rob started this farm about 18 years ago. It was originally 5 acres, but he has been able to recently purchase 4 more acres. He is passionate about growing chemical free and in synch with the local climate and critters. He is an advocate of continual learning and teaching on the farm. Nature is an incredible teacher. Over the years he has learned how to work with everything from beneficial bugs to crop rotation to the typical wind patterns of the area.


As we toured the property, I noticed that he is also big into repurposing. He found an old abandoned washing machine which now served as a salad/greens spinner!


He has unique methods of composting. He showed us a new technique he has learned over the past few years (compost tea). He showed us a comparison of artichoke plants living near the compost tea run off and farther away. The plants getting the compost tea were huge! It was amazing as you can see below.


He has green houses where he starts many of his plants. Which brings me to another very important part of his method. All of his employees must be drug and tobacco free. He is adamant about this policy. He also insists that visitors to the farm stand that are smokers not tour the property. He doesn't do this to be a hard-core anti-smoking guy. He has lost crops to the quick spreading tobacco mosaic virus because someone he hired lied about their smoking habits.


Many of us have heard the claims from biotech companies that genetically modified and pesticide laden crops are the only way to feed the world. Apparently, they haven't met the likes of Tonapah Rob and his dedicated crew. His farm has a sizable CSA following and he brings a lot of produce to a few selected markets in Phoenix. He has produced well over 1500 pounds of produce in weekend before he expanded to 9 acres without genetically modifying or using any chemicals, so I am sure the yield is even higher now. I'm thrilled to see the success of his crops, his farm stand and his CSA. Below are some shots of the healthy plants growing. The cabbage heads were amazing!!!

Our little group had lots of questions as we all do some of our own organic gardening. Rob took extra time to answer our questions and to provide some great advice to help our gardens flourish. We were grateful for his time and knowledge.






His website has all the details on his CSA (which is a great deal), the markets where you can find his produce, the farm stand and a little history about Rob and the farm. The home page lists the upcoming week's food offereings. There are also some recipes in case you need ideas on how to use all of those spectacular veggies. Speaking of recipes, I created a recipe using the veggies I bought on my last trip to the farm. It's a nutrient rich and toothsome dish that is great for dinner or reheated for lunch. The fresh fennel gives the tempeh that "Italian sausage" flavor.

Wild Rice with Roasted Vegetables and Tempeh Sausage Crumbles



6 -8 servings as a side dish 4 main dish servings

1 cup wild rice, rinsed
3 cups vegetable broth

2 cups fresh cauliflower florets
2 cups fresh broccoli florets
4 oz. small whole cremini mushrooms (or large ones halved)
3 cloves garlic, crushed (do not mince, keep clove intact)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch black pepper

8 oz. package non-gmo tempeh, crumbled
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cup fresh fennel, bulb only sliced thinly
1/2 cup sliced oil packed sun dried tomatoes (or rehydrated non-oil packed)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon Bragg's liquid amino or soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke.

Preheat oven to 375.

In a medium sized saucepan over med-high heat, add wild rice and broth. Bring mixture to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover pan and let simmer for 45-50 minutes until wild rice puffs open. Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes the fluff with fork.

While rice is cooking, prepare roasted vegetables and "sausage".

Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place cauliflower, broccoli, mushrooms and garlic cloves on sheet. Sprinkle with paprika, salt and pepper. Add olive oil and toss to coat. Roast mixture for 15 minutes.

In large iron skillet or sauté pan over medium-low heat, sauté crumbled tempeh in olive oil until slightly browned, about 5-7 minutes. Add fresh fennel and sun-dried tomatoes and sauté until fennel is softened, about 10-15 minutes. If mixture becomes to dry, add a touch of water. Add crushed red pepper and salt. Saute for about 1 more minute. In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine tomato paste, water, Bragg's liquid amines and liquid smoke. Pour mixture into pan. Cook until liquid is gone and mixture is almost dry. Stir in cooked wild rice and roasted vegetables. Serve immediately.

NOTE: Reheats very well!

I have been eating lots of the veggies raw with some hummus as a snack too. Look how beautiful that purple cauliflower is!


Below is information on the Farm Stand and location of the farm (information directly from www.tohapahrob.com)

Make sure to go to the website www.tonapahrob.com for more detailed information on the CSA. Going to the farm and taking the tour is a lot of fun for a group of people or a family…very educational.

Note to my vegan readers: the farm is not vegan.

Tonopah Rob’s Vegetable Farm

Address: 35838 W. Buckeye Rd.  Tonopah, AZ 85354
Market hours:  Open every Saturday from 8 to noon.  Summer hours: 7 to 11 a.m.  The farm stand opens November 2, 2013.
To visit Tonopah Rob’s Vegetable Farm and if you are coming from the Phoenix area:
The Farm Stand will open the first weekend of November 3, 2013.
  • Take Interstate 10 west to exit 103 – 339th Avenue
  • Turn left – heading south
  • Drive 1.9 miles
  • To Buckeye Road
  • Turn right – heading west
  • Drive 2.3 miles – you will pass through a stop sign at 355th Ave (about one half mile west of 355th Ave.)
  • Farm Stand is on the right – look for the big yellow sign
Address is: 35838 W. Buckeye Rd. Tonopah, Arizona
My farm is only about 30 minutes from the I-10 and 101 Loop intersection. Be careful following online mapping services including Google, Yahoo Maps, and Map quest as they often direct you to turn on Van Buren – this is a mistake that will have you on the wrong street with no easy access to my farm! Telephone: 623-386-3033

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Restaurant Review - Nosh Arizona



I hate to use trite phrases, but Nosh Arizona is truly a hidden neighborhood gem. The intimate space located just north of Ray Road on McClintock in Chandler,  is owned by husband and wife team Stacey and Mark Carson. Stacey, a 17 year restaurant industry veteran (she started out as a dishwasher and worked her way up) and certified chef, always dreamed of opening her own restaurant. Her dream was about to come true when the economy took it's plunge in 2008. She wisely decided the time was not right to open a restaurant. Instead of giving up on her dream, she enrolled in culinary school to gain even more valuable experience before opening the doors to Nosh in New Year's Eve 2012.

Stacey is a chef who demands quality in ingredients and presentations for all of the dishes at Nosh. The magic happens with her incredible culinary team. Chef Robert Perry, who developed his culinary chops at BLT Steakhouse, heads up the kitchen with a calm confidence. He and his crew: Jim, Ramon and Riley cook together like a well oiled machine. This can be challenging enough for a relatively new team, but they also have to perform in an open kitchen.


Which brings me to one of my favorite features of Nosh's space: the seating in front of the display kitchen. I love the option to watch the magic happen in the kitchen. The first time we sat there, I was truly impressed by the professionalism of the kitchen staff. Equally impressive is the cleanliness of the kitchen. The high back chairs in the front seating area are cozy, making you feel relaxed and calm. The brick walls lend a welcome rustic feel to the room.

I have been here several times with friends and with my honey. Each time we have been here, the service has been friendly, attentive and efficient. We are always welcomed by at least one employee as we walk through the door, even on busy nights. The servers we have had have been very knowledgable about the menu. If there is something they don't know, they will find a way to get you an answer.

Ah the menu and the food. This is my true love as you well know. The menu is relatively small, but there are some very tantalizing options for vegans and carnivores alike. To keep things interesting they change the menu about every three months.

It can be very challenging to find "foodie" grade vegan eats in the East Valley. I am thrilled to report that they do exist. While there are only a few items on the menu are inherently vegan (Side of Bread and Warm Olives), the chefs willingly and easily can "veganize" many of the dishes.

I have to stop for a minute and tell you that the bread and the pizza crust (both vegan) alone are worth the trip. The breads are Chef Stacey's original recipes. The are made fresh on site every day. They are probably one of the best (maybe even THE best) I have experienced. The toasted french bread is perfectly chewy on the outside and light on the inside. The pizza crust has the perfect amount of crunch and stays crispy even with the generous amount of toppings on the pizzettes.

Side of Bread may not sound like anything special, but when it is Nosh's bread, take notice. It comes with garlic and fresh herb infused olive oil dipping sauce. The fresh herbs make the difference. The infusion gives the olive oil incredible flavor. The simplicity and deliciousness of the dish took me back to some of my favorite gastronomical experiences in Spain.


The Bruschetta on the menu is not inherently vegan, but with a few tweaks by the chefs, we were able to enjoy the Bruschetta Trio. The version we had on our most recent visit was vegan AND gluten free by substituting the french bread with polenta triangles. The polenta had the firm texture to hold up to the toppings, but it did not have much flavor. It needed a little salt and pepper, maybe some garlic. I'm not sure, but it is certainly something that can be easily remedied. What I did love about their bruschetta is the toppings are piled high with delicious options. Our trio selections are described below:


  • Cauliflower and Sun Dried Tomato - I never used to be a huge fan of cauliflower, but I adore it roasted as it was for this topping. Sun dried tomatoes lend such a wonderful depth of flavor and I would have welcomed even more of them. 
  • Olive Tepanade with Capers - I'm a huge fan of olives and capers. I loved the piquant and salty tepanade with the mild polenta. 
  • Garlic with Yellow and Green Squash - The squash was bright, fresh and beautiful. The first bite I took of this selection seemed to lack flavor (a little more salt would have done the trick for bite number 1). However, the next bite included rich roasted garlic that turned it into something special. 


Word or warning: if you get the gluten free version on polenta, it may be tricky to pick it up with your hands. Forks may be required (small price to pay for delicious gluten free fare).


The Baked Pear Salad over Arugula normally comes with gorgonzola cheese. The vegan option obviously does not include this creamy component. Mixed field greens can be requested and I recommend this option for the vegan version. I love arugula, but in this case the chef's suggestion to substitute was right on. The acidic notes in the champagne vinaigrette were a perfect complement to the crunchy candied pecans and sweet creamy pear. I could have eaten a bowl of the pecans all by themselves, they were that good.


We couldn't go without having one of Nosh's "pizzettes". It is their answer to the popular flatbread craze. We were not disappointed! We had the Vegetarian, hold the cheese. They use grilled seasonal vegetables on top of a tomatoey pizza sauce all served up on the incredible pizza dough. The pizza is presented on a wooden cutting board. I particularly loved the portobello mushrooms. The marinade made their flavor pop. The veggies were so plentiful, it was hard to keep them on the pizza. So often when we order pizza with a lot of veggie toppings, the crust turns into a white hot mushy mess. Not so with this one. We were chatting it up with the chefs, so the last couple of pieces actually sat there for quite a while before we finally ate them.  The crust was crisply until the end. 

The new menu just came out this month. They offer a Taro Taco Trio. The Chimi Vegetable taco is vegan! We didn't get to try it, but plan to in the near future. 


I do want to mention the portion sizes. So many restaurants deliver monster sized portions of mediocre food and processed foods. They don't call our way of eating the SAD (standard American diet) for nothing. Nosh's portions are not gigantic. I found them to be just right in size. Their prices are in line with the quality and similar establishments (wine bars and upscale pubs). 

I'm sad to report that at the current time there are no vegan dessert offerings. The good news is, Mark makes all of their ice creams and he is looking into developing some vegan options. Yay! We honestly couldn't have fit one in on our most recent visit anyway as we had so many courses. 

Speaking of Mark, he is the creative force behind the bar. Mark crafts a crazy array of specialty cocktails. He is also a winemaker. The restaurant features two of his hand crafted wines on the menu. Look for the Hugo name on the list and you will find his creations. He makes one white and one red each year (somewhere between 120 and 150 gallons). Most of the grapes he uses in his wines are from the Napa Valley region of California. He started making wine about 10 years ago from kits he purchased online. Over the years he has learned a lot about the art from other wine makers. We didn't have room or time to imbibe in any adult beverages this trip, but we intend to make a point of leaving room on our next visit. The wine list is not huge, but there is a good variety. They also serve over 25 craft beers and the selections change periodically, so you can try all sorts of different styles.

Nosh is a breath of fresh air in the corporate chain and sports bar saturated Chandler/Tempe area. It is so great to have a cute, independently owned hang out in the neighborhood. It is even better that the food is so delicious. Make sure you stop by and get a seat by the kitchen! 

Nosh Arizona
4080 W Ray Rd #26
Chandler AZ 85226
(480) 838-NOSH or (480) 838-6674
Monday            Closed
Tuesday           4pm to 10pm - Special 1/2 price beer
Wednesday     4pm to 10pm - Special 1/2 price wine bottles and Sangria
Thursday        4pm to 10pm - Special Free Glass Nosh Select Wine w/Entree
Friday (Lunch/Dinner) 11am to 11pm - 1/2 price dessert after 9pm
Saturday          4pm to 11pm - 1/2 price dessert after 9pm 
Sunday (Brunch) 9am to 2pm - Featuring $2.00 Mimosas and Bloody Mary bar. 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

A Little Luck of the Irish - Stew of course!

Tomorrow is the day of the Leprechaun. My mom's side of the family has a lot of Irish heritage that has tricked down to me. I have the love of potatoes, a reddish tint to my hair (not as much now that it is getting grey), an occasional flare up of Irish temper and a love for the celebratory adult beverage. Oddly, even when I did eat meat, I never cared for the corn beef and cabbage thing. So for me, Irish Stew is a far more delicious choice for St. Patty's day.

We live in a really fantastic neighborhood with incredible neighbors. Last night we invited some of our favorite neighbors over. They are decidedly not-vegetarian. Since I can remember, I ponder what I can make that will impress my dinner guests. It is even more fun when cooking vegan for non-vegan guests. I was going to go all Southwestern, then it hit me, St. Patty's Day is Monday. I decided to make my own version of Irish Stew for our al fresco dining experience. The stew was a success. The neighbors and Fred loved it.

I remembered that Guinness is not vegan, so I had Fred pick up some Killian's Irish Red, which is vegan according to Barnivore. The beer is key to a rich, deep flavor for the stew and it's pretty great for enhancing the cook's mood as well. There is some spirited debate about whether or not carrots should be in traditional Irish Stew. I opted to go carrot free and let the potatoes take the stage. Shoot I'm already bucking tradition making it without little lambs. Your belly and tastebuds will be feeling the Luck of the Irish as you sit down and dig in to this hearty and flavorful stew brimming with earthy portobellos, creamy potatoes and rich gravy.


Luck of the Irish Portobello Stew

Makes 6 Servings

1 1/4 cup Butler's Soy Curls
1 1/4 cup boiling water
3 tablespoons olive oil, separated
4 large portobello mushrooms, fins removed and cut into bite sized pieces
1 large yellow onion, quartered and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic
2 sprigs fresh thyme, de-stemmed and minced
1/4 cup packed fresh parsley leaves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 bottle Killian's Irish Red beer (or other red lager)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon Kitchen Bouquet
2 pounds unpeeled red potatoes, 3/4 inch dice
Salt and Pepper to taste

Pour the boiling water over Soy Curls and let re-hydrate for 10 minutes. Drain and squeeze excess water out of Soy Curls.

In a 6 quart dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add Soy Curls. Sauté until they are nicely browned stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add another tablespoon of the olive oil, portobello mushrooms and onions. Sauté until mushrooms release there liquid and onions are soft and translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add garlic, thyme, parsley and pepper. Sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Turn heat to low and add last tablespoon of olive oil and flour, stirring to combine. Cook for about 10 more minutes to red the flour of the starchy flavor. Turn heat back up to medium high. Add beer to deglaze pan. Make sure to scrape the yummy bits that may have gotten stuck on the bottom of the pot. Add tomato paste and stir until it is dissolved. Add vegetable broth, kitchen bouquet and potatoes. When mixture starts to bubble, turn heat to low. Let simmer covered for an hour. Uncover and let simmer for another 1/2 hour. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle into bowls. You can sprinkle with roughly chopped fresh parsley as a garnish if you like. Serve with Irish Soda bread or any rustic chewy bread.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Chia - It's Not Just for Pets Anymore!

History and Cultivation

Chia seeds were a staple in the diet of ancient Aztecs, Mayans and Indians in the Southwest of the United States. The tiny seed was so revered at one point that they were used as currency.
Chia is currently cultivated and grown in Argentina, Mexico, Peru, Bolivia and Australia.  In Australia it is a relatively new crop compared to the seed’s ancient history in other parts of the world. Even though Australia is a relative newcomer to the chia arena, it is predicted they will become the largest producer of the seed.

Superfood Characteristics

The Oxford dictionary defines a superfood as “A nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being”. This tiny seed truly fits this definition. Chia is a Mayan word that means “strength”.  Many health conscious athletes (especially distance runners) use the mighty chia to keep hydrated and energized during workouts. The unique gel they create allows liquid to stay in the body longer.

·      The health benefits are many:
  • ·      Excellent protein source
  • ·      One of the most concentrated sources of omega – 3 essential fatty acids
  • ·      High in anti-oxidants
  • ·      High in fiber
  • ·      Excellent slow-releasing energy source
  • ·      Support healthy muscle function
  • ·      Anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties
  • ·      Aids in hydration


Chia vs. Flax

Chia can be used in many of the same ways that flax seed is used. As opposed to flax seed, chia is much more stable. Flax seeds go rancid very quickly and must be kept refrigerated or frozen to prevent spoiling. Flax seed are higher in omega-3 fatty acids; however, they must be ground in order to get the full benefit of the nutrients in the seed. Chia does not have to be ground to reap its nutritional benefit (although some research has shown that more nutrients become available when it is ground). Clearly Chia is the winner in the convenience category.

Chia is actually higher in fiber, calcium, phosphorus and selenium than its nutty counterpart. I want to make a point here; flax is still a super food in its own right and should be included in a healthy diet plan. It is higher than Chia in magnesium, potassium, and vitamin B1 and copper. Include them both regularly for well-balanced nutrition.

Here is a side by side compairison of Chia Seed vs. Flax Seed (1 oz. serving)

Data provided by nutritionaldata.self.com
*Data Provided by Health-Alicious-Ness.com
**Data Provided by Chiatrition Chia Seeds.com

Nutrient
Chia Seeds
Flax Seeds
Calories
137
150
Fat
9 g
12 g
Saturated Fat
1 g
1 g
Dietary Fiber
11 g
8 g
Carbohydrates
12.3 g
8.1 g
Protein
4.4 g
5.1 g
Calcium
177 mg
71.4 mg
Iron
1.7 mg**
1.6 mg
Phosphorus
265 mg
180 mg
Potassium
44.8 mg
228 mg
Zinc
1 mg
1.2 mg
Manganese
0.6 mg
0.7 mg
Selenium
15.5 mcg *
7.1 mcg
Omega-3 fatty acids
4915 mg
6388 mg
Omega-6 fatty acids
1620 mg
1655 mg

Chia in Food and Recipes

With all of chia’s health benefits, it is a great idea to add it to your daily eating plan. Here are some great ways to use chia in your kitchen:

  • ·      Chia can be used as a substitute for eggs in many baked goods. To make a chia “egg” grind up 1 tablespoon of chia seeds and combine with 3 tablespoons of water. Let the mixture sit for at least 10 minutes to thicken.
  • ·      Use chia to thicken stews, soups and gravies.
  • ·      Thicken salad dressings with chia or just sprinkle seeds on top of a salad for extra crunch.
  • ·      Make your own energy gels for working out. They are far healthier than the corn syrup and chemical ridden commercial versions.
  • ·      Puddings are super easy to make with chia. There are plenty of flavor options: chocolate, vanilla and fruit to name a few. Below is a recipe I created with the fresh oranges from my tree.


Orange Dream Chia Pudding

Makes 4 servings

1 can light coconut milk
1/3 cup raw cashews
2 large oranges, peeled and cut into quarters
¼ cup white chia seeds
2 tablespoons organic coconut sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Combine all ingredients in high-speed blender until smooth. Taste for sweetness. If a sweeter pudding is desired, add another tablespoon of the organic coconut sugar. Pour into serving bowls and chill for at least one hour. Top with chopped fresh fruit and/or nuts as optional garnishes.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Spain Memories - Pimientas del Padron

When I visited Spain a couple of years back, I was lucky enough to have hosts that let me play in their kitchen. Not only did I get to play in the kitchen, I had the honor of having my friend Nena share a couple of her family recipes. Such great memories of the day we hung out and cooked together.

Spain has these incredible chilies that are about the same size as a big jalapeño, but are shaped a little bit differently. They are called Pimientas del Padron from La Caruna in northwestern Spain. These peppers are typically pretty mild, but every so often, you may get one that is realllllly hot. My dear friend got one of these crazy hot ones on our last trip to Spain. I like to call it "Pepper Roulette". It's a very delicious gamble.


I had never seen these pepper stateside before. Last week I found them at Whole Foods. I was over the moon! I just couldn't believe it. I snapped up a big bag of them. The traditional preparation for them (as taught to me by the fabulous Nena) is quite simple. A healthy portion of olive oil is heated to a high temperature (but do not let it smoke!). Pour the peppers in the pan and cover with a lid. Let them sauté for about 5-7 minutes, the peppers should be nice and browned. Shake pan to turn peppers. Saute for another 5-7 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Salt with coarse sea salt. Let them cool for a couple of minutes so as not to burn your mouth with the temperature cuz you may burn it with the heat if you get one of those fiery babies!


They are a rare find, so if you see them, make sure to get your hands on them!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Getting Involved - Local Food Happenings in Tempe and Arizona


Getting Involved - Local Food Happenings in Tempe and Arizona

There is a groundswell happening in the world of food and nutrition. People are becoming aware that something is amiss with what is happening to our food supply and our environment.  As people begin to realize that truly natural nutrient dense food and vibrant good health go hand in hand they are looking for ways to change the way food is being grown and produced. Instead of sitting back and feeling helpless, it is time for all of us to get out there and make a difference.

So often, people think that they have to search far and wide to make a difference in the world. When we become aware and look around, there are plenty of activities and opportunities in our own backyard to impart real and significant changes in our food supply. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are one of the hottest nutritional topics out there right now. There are some exciting opportunities coming up in Tempe (and Phoenix) over the next couple of months that offer educational and volunteer opportunities regarding GMOs and other pivotal nutritional topics.

13th Annual Local to Global Food Justice Forum (March 1-2, 2014)

Next weekend ASU will be hosting the 13th Annual Local to Global Food Justice Forum and Festival. Local to Global Justice is a student-founded group at ASU dedicated to educating people about topics concerning local and global justice. This year’s event theme is Food Justice. The event is free. The event will feature workshops throughout the day, panel discussions, keynote speakers, kids’ activities, entertainment and free vegan lunch. 

There are sure to be great discussions about the global and local food systems, social injustice in the food and agriculture industry and connections between food and health. It would be fair to assume that if you are searching for more ways to get involved in making a difference locally and globally, resources will abound at this event.

Right to Know Arizona (Ongoing)

Right to Know Arizona has introduced a ballot initiative they are hoping to get included on the November 2014 ballot. The initiative has been drafted to require the labeling of GMO’s in Arizona. In 2012 California had a similar initiative (Prop 37) on the ballot. Monsanto, Dow and the Grocery Manufacturers association spent millions of dollars to successfully defeat the bill in California.
In 2013 a sadly similar scenario played out in Washington State. According to an article in Bloomburg Businessweek, The Grocery Manufacturing Association doled out over 11 million dollars to defeat Initiative 522. In both campaigns the argument used by the food manufacturers was that having to rework their labels would be costly and those costs would be passed on to consumers. This argument is absurd and weak. Labels are changed at the drop of a hat when a company wants to promote things such as the latest popular movie or holidays to increase sales. These companies and organizations have a lot of power and money. For this reason it is even more important for people to get involved…and lots of them. 

Right to Know needs enthusiastic and passionate volunteers to help get the word out about the initiative. They will need ideas and help for fund raising efforts. Unfortunately, a lot of money is needed to fight these giant biotech companies and lobbyist organizations.  They have a lot of money and political clout. Approximately 180,000 signatures must be collected by June in order for the initiative to make the ballot. That’s a lot of signatures to collect in a short amount of time. If you don’t have a lot of time to commit, that’s OK. Get out there for a few hours one day to help collect signatures. Post about the initiative on Twitter, Facebook and Pintrest. Every effort, no matter how big or small, matters.

To get involved:

Visit the Right to Know Arizona website @ http://righttoknowarizona.com/
Join the Right to Know AZ Meetup Group @ http://www.meetup.com/Right-to-Know-AZ-Phoenix/
 
 March Against Monsanto – Phoenix/Tempe (May 24, 2014)

The May 24th march will be the 3rd event held in Tempe. The march is a peaceful demonstration aimed at educating people about the harmful effects of GMO’s on our bodies and our environment. It is a worldwide event that has been gaining momentum with marches being held all over the world.  This event has been helping raise awareness about what GMOs are and how they are having a drastic effect on the world. 

The March Against Monsanto was founded by Tami Canal, a mother of two daughters. She felt compelled to do something to protect the health of her two growing girls. The marches are held in over 52 countries on six continents. The media coverage has been sporadic at best. Networks could be in fear of losing big sponsorships from companies that sell products containing GMOs. Not one local media outlet covered the first Tempe march, not one. It is the individuals who have made this movement grow and expand. This is another way to act locally while thinking globally

To find out more about the March Against Monsanto:

Go to their website: http://www.march-against-monsanto.com/
March Against Monsanto - Phoenix Facebook Page:  https://www.facebook.com/events/500280013363081/

GMO Free Arizona (Ongoing)

GMO Free Arizona is a non-profit founded by Rachel Linden and Ariane Glazer. Their mission is simple. They want to provide information and education to folks in Arizona about the detrimental effects of GMOs on our environment, and our health. The work with a national group called GMO Action Alliance to continue the important mission of education people and supporting efforts to require labeling of GMO’s in our food.

They have an excellent website full of valuable information on GMOs. The resource section of the site is a goldmine of information on studies, articles, books, documentaries and websites all related to GMO education. The section called “About GMOs” features a very poignant video that provides a great deal of valuable information about some of the hot topics related to GMOs. 

GMO Free Arizona Website: http://gmofreeaz.org/ 

Each and every one of us can do our part. We need to embrace our power to do good in our communities. We can and will make a difference to improve the quality of the food we eat and the environment. Together, we can support local farmers, businesses, environmental initiatives and so much more. Get out there: fire up your social media, hit the farmers markets, plant something, and talk to your friends, family and neighbors. You can make a difference.

ACT LOCALLY – THINK GLOBALLY