All Posts for March 2008

April 2008: Foods for Spring

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

If you live in the northeast, as I do, Spring may mean starting your seeds indoors for a summer garden. Some of the earliest harvests include radishes, spring onions/scallions, peas, and early lettuce. While I have only a patio garden, this year we plan to plant some cucumbers in a large tub, as well as tiny tomatoes, along with our usual flowers and herbs in window boxes. For now, I need to buy my spring foods at the Farmers’ Market or produce department wherever I can find these foods organically grown.

This month, then, I am featuring radishes and scallions, as well as some greens available now in the stores. However, I have only three recipes in this section, because my book review includes three of the author’s recipes. So please go to Book, Film, and Website reviews for Susie Fishbein’s Passover by Design recipes and review. The recipes are vegetables that can be enjoyed at any time of the year and whatever your religion.

Green on Green

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Do you ever notice the many shades of green leaves on the trees in summer? I see the same variety of green in vegetables, from light green cabbage to dark green kale, and all the shade in between. Below is a recipe that uses several greens, so I would serve it with a grated carrot salad or a purple cabbage slaw.

Utensils: Large fry pan sauce pan with deep sides, cutting board & knife
Prep Timee: About 20 min.
Cooking Time: About 10 min.

Ingredients (Pick as many of the green veggies as you like.)

Water or stock
One garlic clove, minced
3-4 slices of leek or onion
one stalk of broccoli, stem peeled and cut & broken into narrower pieces
½ cup (frozen) edamame beans (green soybeans)
6-7 Brussels sprouts, trimmed and sliced thinly crosswise
one baby bok choy, washed and sliced lengthwise into quarters
handful of leafy greens (frisee, spinach, kale, chard, etc.)
½ cup snow peas or English peas
S & P to taste or Bragg’s aminos; ginger
Toasted sesame oil and sesame seeds

Directions

1. Pour about one inch of water or stock in pan. Add minced garlic clove, slices of leek, and frozen edamame beans.
2. While the garlic, leek, and soybeans are simmering on a low heat, add slices of broccoli and sliced Brussels sprouts, cover the pan, and cook for 2 minutes.
4. Next add quartered bok choy and leafy greens, cover and cook another 2-3 minutes.
5. Finally, add snow peas, and cook one more minute; then shut off heat. Add a squirt or two of toasted sesame oil, a little grated ginger, and salt and pepper or Bragg’s, if needed. (If you use soup stock instead of water, you may not need salt, pepper, or Bragg’s.)
6. Spoon into a large bow, sprinkle on sesame seeds and serve hot.

Variation: Feel free to add cooked chicken or fish near the end.


Radish Salad

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Utensils: Cutting board, knife, bowl, food processor or grater
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: None

Ingredients

One bunch multi-colored organic radishes, washed and trimmed
One organic daikon radish, washed well
One bunch organic scallions, washed and trimmed
Leaf of red cabbage
(Sesame seeds added after dressing is used)

Directions
1. Wash and trim multi-colored radishes. Then hand grate or place in a food processor and shred. Place in the bowl.
2. Scrub daikon well and peel if skin looks tough or isn’t organic. Cut into smaller pieces and then grate or place in food processor and shred. Add to bowl.
3. Clean scallions, trim, and slice crosswise into small pieces up to the green or including 1/2″ of green if it isn’t too tough.
4. Toss with your favorite vinaigrette or the sesame dressing below.

Dressing-whisk together
1/8 cup toasted sesame oil
1 Tbl. umeboshi plum vinegar
dash of ginger juice
dash soy sauce or Bragg’s Aminos

Pour dressing over radishes and toss until well-coated.
Sprinkle on some sesame seeds (black or natural) and serve over a bed of baby greens or with a leaf of red cabbage, as in the photo. (I made individual servings.)

Wild Rice & Snow Peas

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Utensils: Pot for Rice, 10″ fry pan
Prep Time: Approximately 10 minutes for veggies; one hour for rice the previous day
Cooking Time: Approximately 10 minutes, if rice is precooked

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups cooked wild rice
1 cup snow peas, trimmed of strings
1 bunch scallions, trimmed and sliced crosswise
1-2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
optional: mushrooms and/or bell peppers, slivered
1- 2 Tbl. olive oil
dash of soy sauce or Bragg’s Aminos
optional: five spice powder

Directions

1. Cook wild rice the day before, which takes about one hour to cook. This makes stir frying the next day easier, because the rice is chilled and firm. I purchased a 4 oz. box, which made 3 cups of wild rice and used half for this dish.
2. In a 10″ fry pan, pour 1/4 cup water or vegetable stock. Add scallions and garlic and simmer-saute for 3-4 minutes.
3. Add snow peas and simmer-saute another 2 minutes. (You can also add slivers of mushrooms and bell peppers now, if using.)
4. Place cooked wild rice on top of the veggies, cover, and let simmer for about 4-5 minutes.
5. Remove lid, stir, and toss with oil, soy sauce, and five spice powder, if using. Serve warm. Serves two as a main dish, four as a side dish.

Note: If you make the whole box of wild rice (4 oz.), double the peas and spices. If you do not use the whole dish as a hot dish, what is left can be chilled and served as a chilled salad.

Rachel Carson 1907-1964: Pioneer Environmentalist

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

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This Internet photo of Rachel Carson is a perfect picture of where she liked to be best—enjoying Mother Nature.

Rachel Carson, pioneer environmentalist, is my profile choice for April. This is the first time I have featured someone deceased, but since her legacy lives on, I feel her life and work live on, as well. This quiet, unassuming woman is not so well known among the younger generation, although I believe that Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring, was one of the triggers for Earth Day Celebrations, first started in 1970.

Long before Al Gore penned An Inconvenient Truth and expounded on global warming, Rachel gave us global “warnings” about the dangers of herbicides and pesticides. These chemicals, like the now-banned DDT, were originally created for chemical warfare in WWII. Once the war was over, the government began using these deadly sprays to kill unwanted insects and weeds. Unfortunately, the good were killed along with the bad. Ms. Carson provides us with report after report of the death of birds, earthworms, and fish, and the pollution of waterways, rivers, and streams as a result of spraying for one particular bug or weed.

Rachel’s keen interest in the environment started when she was a child living on the outskirts of Pittsburgh, PA. Her mother’s love of the outdoors was not lost on Rachel, who majored first in English at college and then added biology to her curriculum. She was able to combine her love of nature with her passion for writing. As a writer/editor for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for 16 years, she wrote information packets about the environment. She also wrote best-selling books about the world around us: Under the Sea-Wind, The Sea Around Us, and the Edge of the Sea. But it was the release of Silent Spring in 1962 that caused a furor among corporations who created the pesticides and herbicides and among the government agencies that were often linked to these corporations.

Here are just a few excerpts from this ground-breaking, beautifully written, well-documented best seller, released amidst great controversy:

The most alarming of all man’s assaults upon the environment is the contamination of air, earth, rivers, and sea with dangerous and even lethal materials….. In this now universal contamination of the environment, chemicals are the sinister and little-recognized partners of radiation in changing the very nature of the world—the very nature of its life. (p. 6)

There is still very limited awareness of the nature of the threat. This is an era of specialists, each of whom sees his own problem and is unaware of or intolerant of the larger frame in which it fits….. It is also an era dominated by industry, in which the right to make a dollar at whatever cost is seldom challenged. (p. 13)

The ‘control of nature’ is a phrase conceived in arrogance, born of the Neanderthal age of biology and philosophy, when it was supposed that nature exists for the convenience of man…..It is our alarming misfortune that so primitive a science has armed itself with the most modern and terrible weapons, and that in turning them against the insects it has also turned them against the earth. (p. 297)

Her scathing reports throughout the book caught the attention of then President John F. Kennedy, and as a result of her work, the old environmental laws were improved and new ones were created. We now have the Clean Air Act; the Clean Water Act; the Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act; the Safe Drinking Water Act; and the Toxic Substances Act, to name only a few.

Rachel Carson started a revolution that affects evolution. All her books, and especially Silent Spring, were written with passion and the love of Nature, with concern for the planet, and with reverence for all life’s creatures, no matter how small.

Rachel Carson’s 100th birthday was in May of 2007. I am sorry I did not feature her life in last year’s Earth Day messages, but her books are still available and Silent Spring was reissued in 2002 to celebrate 40 years in publication. I urge you to take a look at her books; I hope to read some of her earlier works because her writing and description of the environment has been likened to poetry. Too often scientific books are dry, but Carson’s Silent Spring was bold and beautiful and made me angry that my generation born right before WWII may have been the last generation to come into this world without pesticides and herbicides in our bodies at birth. Rachel Carson’s biography and books have motivated my efforts to have a clean, green, healthy planet.

Note: Most of my information, other than miscellaneous facts from the Internet, comes from Silent Spring and Up Close: Rachel Carson by Ellen Levine, given to me by my librarian friend Sylvia. It is a book written for school-aged children, but very engaging and not at all boring.

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