A year of pescetarian parenting and related discoveries.

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Sunday, January 31

Top Healthy Eating & Food iPhone Apps

I promised I'd share the results of my research throughout the year and this was just too cool not to share. Top Healthy Eating & Food iPhone Apps

Friday, January 29

The Smelts Are Running!

     I have always enjoyed eating fish, and don't know why I had never eaten smelts before. At least I don't recall eating them, though the taste did seem familiar. I'm pretty sure my mother never served them. The boyfriend, a Newington, NH native, was raised on them. And though he entered into the pescetarian year with us kicking and screaming (there is very little exaggeration to that statement) he was more than willing to turn my children and I onto one of his childhood comfort foods; pan-fried smelts. They were yummy. How could they not be?! Fresh from our bay. Perfectly fried in my old cast iron pan. Served with roasted rosemary potatoes and pan-fried zucchini and a glass of local ale.
     The fish itself is a small one. Bigger, but not too different, from the sardine. You can eat the bones, and they are probably quite nutritious. We don't.  It's a mild tasting white fish, rather sweet and delicate really, some say reminscent of violets. Can be cooked just about anyway you'd like, but simple is said to be best. The way we did it the other night. The way smelters have been eating them for longer back than anybody knows. Freshly caught under a winter night sky, quickly dressed, kept on ice, til tossed in a sizzling skillet, and shared with someone you love.
     Joe prepares them the way his grandmother did. Dipped in eggwash, then cornmeal, and fried in a light oil, both sides. No seasoning. I'd add a few chopped herbs to the cormeal mix if I were doing it. He likes to dip his smelts in mayonnaise, I prefer ketchup.
     Here are some photos from our smelt dinner.

     If you can't catch your own smelts, get them from your local fish monger as I did. It was rather dismaying to see that my two local supermarkets are both selling smelts shipped down from Canada, when they are running right here in our own backyard! The trucked in ones are cheaper, but certainly not fresher.
    Mild enough for children to enjoy, you may want to cut off the tail when preparing for children and maybe halve your smelts to give them a more nugget-like appearance.
     Bonny Wolf , author of "Talking With My Mouth Full: Crab Cakes, Bundt Cakes and Other Kitchen Stories," a contributor to NPR's Weekend Edition, reports that A Prairie Home Companion's Garrison Keillor's most vivid pesce-memory, as told to The New York Times more than 30 years ago, is of smelting near Lake Superior. "We would go out to the lake in late March and catch them, then take them, bread them and cook them," he recalled. "It was almost a biblical experience." Joe's sentiments were just about the same. I hope someday my children might agree.
    Nutritional Highlights of smelts: 3 oz. (cooked, dry heat) Calories: 105, Protein: 19.2g, Carbohydrate: 0.0g, Total Fat: 2.6g, Fiber: 0.0g, *Excellent source of: Selenium (39.8mcg), and Vitamin B12 (3.4mcg) *Good source of: Potassium (316mg)

Thursday, January 28

That's What I'm Talking About!

A Terroir-ist’s Manifesto for Eating in Place

by Gary Paul Nabhan

Know where your food has come from
through knowing those who produced it for you,
from farmer to forager, rancher or fisher
to earthworms building a deeper, richer soil,
to the heirloom vegetable, the nitrogen-fixing legume,
the pollinator, the heritage breed of livestock,
& the sourdough culture rising in your flour.
Know where your food has come from
by the very way it tastes:
its freshness telling you how far it may have traveled,
the hint of mint in the cheese
suggesting what the goat has eaten,
the terroir of the wine reminding you of the lime
in the stone you stand upon,
so that you can stand up for the land
that has offered it to you.
Know where your food has come from
by ascertaining the health & wealth
of those who picked & processed it,
by the fertility of the soil that is left
in the patch where it once grew,
by the traces of pesticides
found in the birds & the bees there.
Know whether the bays & shoals
where your shrimp & fish once swam
were left richer or poorer than before
you & your kin ate from them.
Know where your food comes from
by the richness of stories told around the table
recalling all that was harvested nearby
during the years that came before you,
when your predecessors & ancestors,
roamed the same woods & neighborhoods
where you & your now roam.
Know them by the songs sung to praise them,
by the handmade tools kept to harvest them,
by the rites & feasts held to celebrate them,
by the laughter let loose to show them our affection.
Know where your foods come from
by the patience displayed while putting them up,
while peeling, skinning, coring or gutting them,
while pit-roasting, poaching or fermenting them,
while canning, salting or smoking them,
while arranging them on a plate for our eyes to behold.
Know where your food comes from
by the slow savoring of each and every morsel,
by letting their fragrances lodge in your memory
reminding you of just exactly where you were the very day
that you became blessed by each of their distinctive flavors.
When you know where your food comes from
you can give something back to those lands & waters,
that rural culture, that migrant harvester,
curer, smoker, poacher, roaster or vintner.
You can give something back to that soil,
something fecund & fleeting like compost
or something lasting & legal like protection.
We, as humans, have not been given roots
as obvious as those of trees.
The surest way we have to lodge ourselves
within this blessed earth is by knowing
where our food comes from.

Monday, January 25

Anti-Inflammatory Foods

     I thought this was worth sharing. It's really in line with my own philosophy about food, and very indicative about what I am trying to do with my eating and cooking this year. Getting my own health in check is one of my top goals for the year. It's also pretty well-done, you can click on each level of the pyramid for more information. The only thing here that really surprised me was the caution to avoid raw commercial button mushrooms, which I've been eating a lot of for years. Does anyone know why he's saying that? I'm guessing he's claiming they have inflammatory effects on the body, but I'd like to know why.  Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid. (Please rest assured that I have not tried and am not endorsing Dr. Weil's products, I just like the food pyramid a lot.)
     Culinary escapades this past weekend were a pizza party at home with the kids where they got to choose their own toppings from an assortment of cheeses, veggies, and herbs, omega 3 French toast with fresh blackberries and walnut sauce, a shrimp quesidilla and shrimp pad thai while out and about (it's shrimp season here in New England!), and home cooked fresh smelts. More coming on that last one, including photos, soon....

Friday, January 22

Lobster Bisque

     Have had lot of wonderful things to eat this week. One of the most exciting aspects of this diet change is trying new things that I wouldn't have otherwise. This week I tried lemon hummus for the first time, with falafel chips. And I made a wonderful shrimp and baby spinach salad with bean sprouts that I had never made before. Both kids (my daughter is a lot harder to please than my son) enjoyed nachos I made  with refried beans, which I served on a bed of greens with a dollop of chipolte ranch dressing. While in the grocery store the other day, I grabbed a container of lobster bisque, a long time favorite of mine, that looked really good. Thought it would make a great quick supper if I grabbed a fresh artisan bread for dipping, and made a salad. At the last minute I scanned the list of ingredients for it and was stunned to see that the #1 ingredient was chicken stock. So I put it back and came home to study bisque recipes instead. I am not giving up bisque! For your dining pleasure I will share what I have determined to be the winner of the meat-free bisque recipes. There weren't many, almost all use chicken stock. It is by chef Tyler Florence who has a unique, and I think brilliant, way of replacing chicken flavor - cognac! A bisque is supposed to be an econmical way of enjoying lobster flavor with little lobster meat to work with so don't worry if you don't have as much as he likes to use. Never be afraid to experiment with recipes...

2 lobsters, separated, all meat and juices reserved
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 leeks, halved lengthwise
2 onions, halved
2 stalks celery, in big chunks
2 carrots, in big chunks
6 sprigs fresh thyme
4 strips orange zest
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup cognac
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Finely grated orange zest, for garnish
Finely chopped chives, for garnish

Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot over medium heat and melt 3 tablespoons butter in it. Add the chopped lobster bodies and heads and their juices, the leeks, 1 onion, celery, carrots, 1/2 the thyme, 1/2 the orange zest and the tomato paste. Cook until the shells are red and the vegetables are soft, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and carefully pour in 1/4 cup cognac. Ignite the cognac with a long kitchen match and let the alcohol burn off. Return to the heat, sprinkle in the flour, stir, and cook for another 2 minutes. Add water to cover and stir up all the browned bits on the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon. Add the cream and bring to a boil. Immediately decrease the heat and gently simmer until the soup is reduced and thickened, about 30 to 45 minutes. Strain this into a clean pot and season with salt and pepper if needed; keep warm.
Meanwhile, heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter in an ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add remaining onion, thyme, bay leaf, and orange zest along with the peppercorns and let this mixture cook for about 5 minutes. Add the lobster claws and tails; toss to coat with the fat and flavors. Remove the pan from the heat and carefully pour in the remaining 1/4 cup cognac. Ignite the cognac with a long kitchen match and let the alcohol burn off. Put the pan into the oven and roast until the lobster pieces are cooked through, about 15 minutes. Remove the lobster pieces and set aside. When they are cool enough to handle, remove the lobster meat from the claws and tails. Chop the meat roughly and add it to the strained bisque.

To serve, ladle the bisque into warmed soup bowls. Serve with Grilled Brie and Tomato on crusty french bread, if desired.

Tuesday, January 19

She said sheepishly...

     I have to confess to being a cheater. Nothing like the Tiger Woods variety of roving, but I roved, and I feel I must dislcose to you the full extent of my errant behavior. The guilt is getting to me. I don't know how Tiger copes.
     I went away for the weekend. A rather romantic and really rare getaway with my meat-eating man. Ordering out in restauants wasn't any problem, but I caved at breakfast in the morning. Somehow the fact that we were staying in a bed and breakfast, where I had paid for a full breakfast, that everyone else around me was enjoying, was just too much for me. I didn't eat the whole order, Joe was happy to accept my extra sausage link, but I did this two mornings in a row. I kept thinking that I was on vacation so a little  bit of leniency was allowed. I also knew that my children who were in different places, were almost cerainly thinking similar thoughts, and probably erring quite a bit more than me. I do think that the idea that I was going to be physically active outside all day also offered me further rationalization about a need for high fat protien, and that is a fallacy I'm going to have to come to terms with. I can say that even though I was only a couple of weeks into pescetarianism, that breakfast sausage tasted greasier than my mouth and mind expected. It seemed to sit heavier too. Or was that the guilt?

Friday, January 15


I learned a new word today; pescephobe, love it, can't wait to lob it!

Tuesday, January 12

A Bit About Bacon Bits and Bluefish

     I wanted to blog about bacon and bluefish all day, so let me go on about these things for awhile and I'll get to the cast of characters soon, I promise. I'll even allude to one or two of them in this post to tide you over.
     I've been out to eat a couple of times since starting this change of diet, and it is of course, more challenging to eat out than to eat in. Temptation is greater, you can't completely control what your salivary glands do when you peruse a menu. I was prepared for that. I wasn't prepared for accidental pork. I had an order of mussels at a lovely upscale restaurant when I was out on the town, well ok, the village, on Saturday night, and discovered after I began eating, that it was served with a generous amount of bacon swimming about in the seafood. I know this is something vegetarians are used to, but I hadn't thought of it in advance. So I ate my mussels, and tried to avoid the bacon. About the same as asking a recently reformed smoker to hold your butt for you. A little too much temptation. Lesson learned though, I'll be more careful in restaurants in the future.
     The upside of having to be more restrained in restaurants is that I can be much more adventurous in the grocery store. One of the really exciting elements of the experiment for me is that it is going to ensure that I try out a lot of new recipes that I simply woudn't have gotten to otherwise, as well as a few new foods.
     That's what I was thinking the other day when I was standing in front of my local fish counter. A place where I already was a frequent visitor, but this time I noticed that they had some fresh wild caught American bluefish. I consider fish cooking my specialty, but I had never cooked or even tasted bluefish before. Another customer seemed excited about the bluefish, and I quickly caught the bluefish bug from him, and ordered up a pound. I didnt want to miss out on the limited catch like I had with the local smelts last week.
     The beautiful thing about google is that it makes bringing home a hunk of strange fish an easy to manage task. I learned several things about bluefish to share with you. It's a mean fighting fish, and was once, as with so many fish, plentiful in the Atlantic. So plentiful here, that they were a staple of the depression era diet. One of the primary memories the old men I used to bring Meals-on-Wheels to were not enjoying when I brought them fish and they said "take it away". It is an oily fish and so requires some work of the cook. First you must rewrap it and store it on ice in the fridge, then brine it for awhile in salted water before drying it again. Then marinate it for awhile before cooking. Lemon or another citrus is needed, and a sauce with dairy is also a good choice. I baked ours in a sauce I made from organic yogurt and lemon. With edamame, and served over rice. The kids were rather put off by the edamame, more than the fish. My boy ate two servings. I enjoyed mine. The boyfriend, a fisherman who has some kind of long held grudge against the bluefish would not try it. I asked him just to taste it and tried to explain that I had prepared it properly and his prejudice about how it was going to taste just might not be correct. But he wouldn't do it. This type of reaction makes the likelihood of me hauling in another bluefish very high. Mean old fighting fish indeed.

Monday, January 11

Say Cheese

     Our diet already included a fair amount (but I hope to increase the quantity) of local foods, which I buy, prepare, and consume as often as possible. The spend and support local movement is important to me. This quick post gives me a chance to endorse a couple of local things (a magazine and cheeses). Distance being a relative thing, just ask any ant or astronaut.... http://www.themainemag.com/a-list/1156-cheese-maine.html.
     The characters are coming soon, stay tuned.

Sunday, January 10

Charbroiled Moosewood Burger

     I'll only share the work of others that I think is essential, or just irresitable, to the discussion I am trying to have here, and I think this recent article fom Newsweek is. For those of you who aren't familiar with Mollie Katzen, she is the author of The Moosewood Cookbook, which every vegetarian and most long time flexitarians like me (have had on the shelf for more years than we care to admit), among several other titles. Hearing her say she has chowed down on some cow is akin to Nancy Raegan saying she took a little toke (of sustainably grown, fair trade weed), or maybe the Queen Mum putting down her purse and doing a little pole dance (for a hunger charity of course). But the article raises a few fascinating questions that will make superb Sunday night dinner discussion fodder for you and your bread-breaking companions tonite. Bon appetite'!      http://www.newsweek.com/id/228720

Friday, January 8

Pescetarianism: The Way It Is

     Pesce is the Italian word for fish, and I think it is fairly obvious that the term pescetarian denotes a person whose diet rules out land mammals, but apparently there is great confusion, and even controversy about this. If you google it (please don't waste your time, I've done the legwork for you) you'll get all kinds of nonsense to sort through. There isn't even agreement on how to spell or pronounce it! But  I refuse to get involved in all of that. Here and now, on this blog, I officially declare (oh the power, pesce-power!) the way it is;
     Pescetarianism is a dietary choice of a primarily vegetarian diet supplemented by seafood. It's not very complicated. Nor is it new. It's just not very American. The diet, and it's significant health benefits, has long been practiced and proven, by Mediterranean and Japanese populations, among many others. In fact, Americans have shown the opposite to be true; that a diet heavy in animal fat and refined carbohydrates has significant ill effects. My children and I have many genetic risk factors for cancer and heart disease that have made us even more cognizant of dietary influences on health then perhaps others need to be.
     I'll talk about individual health (and Earth) benefits throughout the year, but for now, back to basics. A proper pescetarian diet allows for, but does not rely on, seafood as the primary source of protien. Our diet will incorporate many sources (variety is essential in any good diet) of protien including; beans, soy, nuts, and dairy. For us this will be an increase, but not a change, to our current diet. I know it will be a particular challenge for me to not go overboard with cheese, which is one of my greatest weaknesses. (You may have to keep an eye on me there...) Like a vegetarian diet the bulk of every meal is fruits or vegetables. At this particular time in our lives this really seems to be what my children and I most need ... In my next post I'll introduce the cast of characters to you.

Wednesday, January 6

From the Today Show

Basic no-brainer info, but interesting. I will share the results of my research throughout the year.

Sunday, January 3


to my weblog as I embark on a (for now) one year foray into a vegetarian diet supplemented by seafood.
     I have for several years been eating a primarily superfood diet (I'll write more about superfoods at a later time) with lots of seafood, but also lots of turkey and other poultry. My reasons for doing so have always been fairly equally divided between concerns for my health (and my children's) as well as for the earth. At times, far too often over the last year, I have ventured off this path and eaten pork, and even beef.
     Over the last couple of months, coinciding with my weakest dietary adherence in many years, both of my children (I am a bit proud to say) have been expressing an interest in vegetarianism. Of course I felt I should encourage them, and after a few discussions, found their interests to be genuine, and their willingness was just the impetus I needed.
     So we have resolved, as a family, to try a pescetarian diet for the new year. I am excited about the possibility of our combined effort. There are so few things that we are in complete agreement about, so that that alone is an exhilirating new start, and I am hopeful ~ for invigorated health ~ for me, my loved ones, and maybe something more we can do ~ something beyond our little bungalow and garden ...