Archive for 2006

The Lunar Calendar

Monday, December 11th, 2006

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Calendars for 2007 are available everywhere—bookstores, online, supermarkets, card shops. But none, so far as I know, are as female-oriented as The Lunar Calendar, “Dedicated to the Goddess in Her Many Guises.”

Started 31 years ago by Nancy Passmore (founder and editor of the press) for a graduate school project, it has evolved into a yearly commitment of beauty and dedication. The monthly calendar itself is depicted as an oval of the phases of the moon with a poem or artwork included for each month, or as one of the brochures states: “The Lunar Calendar reminds us every day of the steady guidance from the Moon, her inspiration in the form of poetry and art and our connection to earth and our sister Moon.”

I urge you to check out the website: www.thelunapress.com
and order a calendar for yourself or a friend. Their snail mail address is PO Box 15511, Kenmore Station, Boston, MA, 02215-0009 and for orders via phone, call 617-427-9846.

As the cover of one of my brochures says: “Look up!” I urge you to look up the lunar press online and order one of their calendars. Previous covers are posted for your moon-viewing pleasure, as well as letters of request for donations to keep the calendar in print. Take a peak….it’s moonificient!

Give Peas a Chance!

Monday, December 11th, 2006

During my early years as a vegetarian, the “Give Peas a Chance” slogan was on T-shirts and bumper stickers. It emerged around the same time as the Vietnam anti-war protests, so the double entendre was clever. Giving peace a chance may be as difficult as giving peas* a chance. Perhaps the information and recipes below will change your mind…..

According to The Greengrocer by Joe Carcione, the best way to eat peas is raw. As a child, I used to shell green peas and pop the delicious green mounds in my mouth. It was a great snack: easy and nutritious. The recipes for today are for barely cooked peas, and while you are preparing the dishes, you can munch on the raw peas, as well. As the quote below notes: “Peas are the ultimate convenience food.” (www.peas.org.)

Peas have a long history, starting with prehistoric times. They were well known to the Greeks and Romans and cultivated in Europe since very early times. During the Dark Ages, peas represented one of the staples of the poor, along with broad beans and lentils, also known as legumes or pulses. (Maybe that’s why they are not overly popular, because they are associated with poverty. This is similar to Postum, an ersatz coffee, which some older people will not drink, because they associate it with rationing during WWII.)

In medieval England, peas were a spring medicine. For example, fresh or cooked dried peas were used as a laxative. In the 1600 and 1700 hundreds, peas became a big fad in France and England, especially as new varieties with better flavor were developed. In fact, the English developed new varieties, giving the pea the name “garden peas” and “English peas.” According to the website, the eating of green peas (raw) was “both a fashion and a madness.” (www.peas.org)

While none of my references mentioned the colonies specifically, The Complete Book of Fruits and Vegetables does note that peas were Thomas Jefferson’s favorite vegetable and were prominent in his vast garden. (We visited his home, Monticello, in Charlottesville, VA, and I was amazed at the huge size—1,000 feet long— and the vegetable varieties in the garden that are still maintained.) Check out this website for more information on Jefferson’s love for gardening and his skill as a scientific gardener:
http://www.monticello.org/gardens/vegetable/science_gardener.html

Snow peas, which are eaten with the pod, are flat and thin, with just a tiny bulge of the seed barely visible. These are often used in Asian dishes and can be enjoyed raw or barely cooked. (One of the sources noted that the Chinese were the first to eat the pod with the peas, but I cannot confirm that fact.) Sugar snap peas are plump like English (green) peas; they are quite sweet and the pod, like snow peas, is tender enough to eat whole without being shelled. These can also be used in Asian dishes or any dish of your choice. Again, sugar snap peas are delicious raw, although I find that removing the thin “string” along the inner edge of the pod improves its edibility.

Nutritionally, peas differ, depending on which reference you choose, so I decided to use one from the Internet, since I felt that would be the most current information. According to www.peas.org, peas are a good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, folate, thiamine (B1), iron, and phosphorus. This pulse is rich in protein, carbohydrates, and fiber. In addition to being low in sodium, peas are also low in fat, and that fat is the unsaturated kind.

Finally, this quote from this comprehensive website seems to sum up my feelings for peas: “Peas are the ultimate convenience food. They are packed with nutrients, and always there to make something delicious. From soups, risottos and stirfries, to curry, dips and tarts, they add flavor and vibrant color. And they’re good for you, too!.”

I hope you will try some of the recipes below and give peas a chance.

*The peas featured in this blog are green peas (also called garden peas and English peas), snow peas, and sugar snap peas. Split peas will be covered in a blog on soups.)

Sources:
Bianchini, F. & Corbetta, F. The Complete Book of Fruits and Vegetables. Crown Publishers, Inc. New York, 1973.
Carcione, JoeThe Greengrocer. Pyramid Books, NY, 1973.
www.peas.org retrieved Nov. 30, 2006.

(Note #1: While some of my book sources are “old” by publication standards, the basic information on foods stays more or less the same. However, I use the Internet for the most up-to-date information.)
Note #2: Words in bold italics will be found in the glossary

RECIPES
The recipes below are mostly side dishes using (organic) peas and vegetables. However, any one of them can be made into a main dish with the addition of some form of protein, such as chickpeas or green soybeans, tofu or tempeh, slices of cooked chicken or beef, etc. Feel free to do so.

Sesame Snow Peas

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Ingredients

3-4 cups washed snow peas
1/2 cup sesame oil (plain, roasted, or hot pepper sesame oil)
1/4 cup plum vinegar
1/4 tsp. freshly grated ginger or ginger juice
Tamari soy sauce or Bragg’s Aminos
1-1 Tbl. sesame seeds

Directions

1. Steam snow peas for 5-7 minutes. They should still be bright green and slightly crunchy.
2. While the peas are steaming, whisk together the oil, vinegar, soy sauce, and ginger.
3. Rinse cooked peas under cold water briefly to prevent further color change. Toss with dressing and top with sesame sedds.
This dish can be served warm or chilled. Feel free to serve over rice or bean thread noodles.


Stir Fries with Sugar Snap Peas

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Ingredients

1/2 cup baby carrots, cut into fat “toothpicks”
one leek, washed and sliced (white part only)
one garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 half cups broccoli tops (use bottoms in soups or stews)
one cup sugar snap peas (remove strings from pods)
1/2 cup thinly sliced yellow (zucchini-shaped) squash
olive, sesame, or macadamia oil
tamari soy sauce to taste
slivered almonds

Directions

1. In a large, flat saucepan, bring to a boil about one inch of water or vegetable broth. Place carrot sticks, leek slices, and garlic in the pan and cook about two minutes.
2. Add broccoli and cook another 3 minutes. (If some of the heads are large, cut in half lengthwise.)
3. Finally, add sugar snap peas and cook another one to two minutes.
4. With a slotted spoon, remove veggies and toss with oil and soy sauce, and top with slivered almonds. Serve immediately.
(I avoid frying in oil and instead, cook in water or broth and add the oil at the end. If you use a large, flat saucepan with or a fry pan with higher sides, you need only a little water. By the time the dish is cooked, most of it will have been absorbed.)


Peas, Portobellos, and Delicata Squash

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Ingredients

One half delicata squash, seeds removed (see photo)
Two three slices of Portobello mushrooms, cut into smaller pieces
One-two cups green garden peas, shelled (Or purchase organic, frozen peas already shelled)
Small bunch of mint
Oilve oil

Directions

1. Cut delicata squash in half and then cut that half into 1/2” rings, If the slices are two large around, cut each ring into halves.
2. Broil portobello slices for about 5 minutes (Or pan fry)
3. Place squash in about one inch of water or broth in a large, flat-bottom saucepan. Cook for about 5-7 minutes, until almost tender.
4. Add mint and green peas, cover and cook for about 3-4 minutes. (If peas are frozen, cook until they are just tender, but still bright green.)
5. Remove mint. Add cooked mushrooms and stir all three ingredients.
6. Using a slotted spoon, place veggies on a platter and toss with a little olive oil.


Quinoa with Peas Twice

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Ingredients

One cup red or white quinoa
6 red or white pearl onions, sliced (If fresh are unavailable, use the jarred ones)
one cup green garden (English) peas (If frozen, remove from freezer and the bag while quinoa is cooking to start the thawing process.)
one cup sugar snap peas or snow peas (Remove strings on pods, if needed)
1 1/2 Tbl. olive or sesame oil
dash of tamari soy sauce
dab of your favorite mustard

Directions

1. Cook quinoa according to package directions, but include the fresh, sliced pearl onions (One cup grain added to 2 cups water; boil and cook for about 15 minutes.)
2. During the last five minutes, add both kinds of peas. (If using jarred onions, drain and add with the peas.)
3. While grains are cooking, qhisk together the dressing ingredients. When the dish is fully cooked, place in an attractive boil and toss with dressing. Can also be chilled and served cold. Or, whatever is leftover can be served cold the next day.
(The red onions and the red quinoa with its white edges coupled with the green peas would make a nice dish for a holiday potluck or for you dinner table if you celebrate Christmas. Even though I celebrate Hanukkah, I still love this dish!)
Use in glossary

delicata squash = sweet potato squash = Bohemian squash Pronunciation: de-lee-CAH-tuh Notes: This is one of the tastier winter squashes, with creamy pulp that tastes a bit like sweet potatoes. Choose squash that are heavy for their size. Substitutes: butternut squash OR buttercup squash OR sweet potato

http://www.foodsubs.com/Squash.html

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