A year of pescetarian parenting and related discoveries.

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Tuesday, March 30

Special Meals and Manifestos

     Well, things haven't really quieted down around here. It's still raining in and out of the house, and the relentless rain is wrecking havoc throughout the region. But we're still eating. This is the recipe of the week I have chosen from Meatless Mondays; http://www.meatlessmonday.com/baked-vegetable-wontons/?utm_source=Meatless+Monday&utm_campaign=95e84e1cdc-Eater%27s_Digest_Monday_03_29_2010&utm_medium=email  It is another one that I intend to teach my daughter to cook, along with another of her favorites, crab rangoon, which I will teach her a baked version of also. I think that will make a great teenager meal, but will post the results when the tests are complete.
     Here are some shots of the last special date dinner I made. A spinach and egg salad, and an herbed lobster chowder with fresh bread and a good bottle of wine. At least I thought it was special. The expense and work involved certainly necessitate saving the menu for special times, but it does taste divine.

     Here too, is a quick video I would like to share about a book that is certainly worth our attention.Organic Manifesto by Maria Rodale, a third generation organic grower. Would love to hear from anybody who has already read it.     
     Have also been struggling with my Easter menu this year as this will be the first time I haven't served a hunk of meat at my holiday table. The kids aren't being of much assistance, so if anybody has an idea to share I'm all ears.

Friday, March 26

The new child nutrition bill

needs support. I'd really like to hear what Jamie Oliver thinks of this. It's not like we don't have enough regulations now. Seems to me it (the terrible state of school lunch) is a major problem, but one that should have a simplifying fix, not a complicating one. (For example; only home made food, from local and organic sources whenever possible. No frozen &/or processed crap.) But fix it we must. This is where you start, unless you will be popping into the cafeteria today. http://www.slowfoodusa.org/index.php/campaign/time_for_lunch/

Thursday, March 25

Savor what you eat and read

      When I started this blog I wanted to make sure that I sometimes talked about the idea of mindful eating. It is both something that I really believe in, and something that I really need to work on. Most Americans do I think. Most of us are guilty of mindless eating from time to time, and for far too many, it is the rule not the exception. Not just obvious things, like eating in the car (which should simply be an absolutely never rule) and in front of the television, but often in more subtle ways. Like when we eat too fast to really taste the food we are eating. The concept of mindful eating is one of the healthiest habits we can teach our children, and a lesson you can be sure they are not getting at school where they are usually required to scoff down bad food quite quickly. I'd like to begin this discussion by recommending a new book;

     Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life, a practical life guide written by zen master Thich Nhat Hanh and Harvard nutritionist Dr. Lillian Cheung. I haven't read it yet. It's new and the hard cover price is a bit more than I can handle right now, but I am anxious to read it and hope my library will get a copy soon.
     Of it's message Cheung told Harvard staff writer Sarah Sweeney, "When you sit down to eat a truly mindful meal, you will see far beyond the rim of the plate. Look closely at your salad, and you will see the farmer who planted the seeds, the rain and the sunshine, the rich earth that nourished them as they grew. Mindful eating can help us approach the core Buddhist concept of 'interbeing' the recognition that everything and everyone is interrelated. With this as our foundation, we realize that it is important to eat not only for our own health, but in a way that promoted the health of others around us, as well as the health of the planet."

Tuesday, March 23

The Sky is Falling

     Well, this isn't much of a foodie week for us. I'm on the last leg of a spring cleansing juice fast (I'm so hungry!)  And we've been having a bit of rain here in the northeast. This morning when I went downstairs (for my unsweetened coffee, blah!) my son showed me that the kitchen ceiling was leaking. Again. It's a brand new ceiling, just redone 6 months ago after the damn ice dam damage of the previous winter. Looks like the leak in the roof is still active. After awhile I was starting to appreciate the peaceful sound of the rain water dripping into my good cephalon stock pot, when suddenly, soddenly, the plaster started coming down in chunks. Depressing, and messy. So not a lot of cooking has been going on around here lately. It was supposed to be a special week of tofu experiments for us. I want to teach my daughter to cook one of her favorite vegetarian dishes, miso soup, so she can whip it up whenever she wants to. And I am really looking forward to trying this dish from Meatless Mondays; a cabbage salad with nuts and fried tofu. I'm really, really looking forward to it. Did I mention that I'm a little hungry? Will write more soon. If you get a chance to cook this before I do please write, and describe it to me, in great detail, maybe with some photos...

Sunday, March 21

Go Jamie Go!!!

     Our always well dressed president and Jamie, the adorable naked chef, both give me hope for a healthier future for American children. Please watch the sneak preview of Jamie's new show on ABC tonite for what he says is going to be the ultimate food fight. http://abc.go.com/shows/jamie-olivers-food-revolution

Saturday, March 20

Got Milk?


     This is interesting and kind of fun. You can teach the kids to do it. One thing is for sure - it should not be a secret. This is a good time to think and talk about what the sources of your dairy products are. Keep track of the origins of the next half dozen or so dairy products you buy and see where they are coming from. Maybe also logging the price you paid for that item as well. Then you can sit down and decide how that information sits with you. Find out (if you dont already know) what closer sources you have to choose from for dairy products. Do a little bit of googling about those farms. How do they operate? What prices do they charge for the same item? Make a careful and informed decision. We don't have to be manipulated consumers anymore. I'll keep track for awhile too, and we can report back what we all learned and decided. Do it for your own health, the kids, the planet, and the girl below...

Friday, March 19

Early Spring Asparagus!

   March. In between storms from a very angry March lion this year I've been doing what I do every March. Celebrating Saint Patrick's Day. To me that means good friends, Guinness and the gorgeous green goodness of the seasons first asparagus. This is truly one of my favorite vegetables. When I lived in Germany I was able to participate in a local ritual that had been going on for hundreds of years, the white asparagus festival. I still miss that. Here is what the plant looks like in the garden. It isn't easy to establish an asparagus bed, but the payoff will give you years of yumminess.

     The beautiful green variety we grow here is delicious too. I eat it all summer as I love to cook them on my charcoal grill, but in spring, I try to find new and intersting ways that the rest of the family might enjoy too. I tried this recipe; Penne with Ricotta and Asparagus which was not received with great enthusiasm, and I made an asparagus quiche with portobella mushrooms and scallions and a rich Irish cheddar that was pretty good. I saved the last handful of spears to serve my favorite way, sauteed in olive oil with a generous shake of seaweed gomasio, served with a fresh piece of fish, slice of artisan bread, and glass of red wine. That will be dinner tonite.
     Tomorrow night I am attending a vernal equinox bon fire and pot luck dinner and am wondering what my welcome spring dish will be. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, March 17

Pumpkin Mac and Cheese and Quincy Market Place

     Baked Pumpkin Mac and Cheese This is the recipe that I chose from the offerings at Meatless Monday this week. It caught my attention because macaroni and cheese seems to be my daughter's favorite vegetarian meal, but I have some concern about the saturated fat in most versions. She frowns on all of the different ways I try to sneak vegetables in there, which because of the green color of my usual choices, are perfectly obvious. So I was intrigued with the addition of pumpkin. Since it is a super food it will do much to alleviate my guilt about serving (and eating!) mac and cheese. But I dont think we're quite ready for the full-on vegan version of this dish, and I am thinking about compromising with this one and the one blogged about by Fuji Mama. Of course, I'll report back to you how it all turns out.
     A few days ago I went to the wonderful Quincy Market in Boston. A cook could go nuts there! She could go bananas! Or avacadoes! Mangoes! Greens! Fish! You name it. Most of this stuff is fresh, but fresh off the boat, not the lovely local green-goodness of my hometown farmer's market, but the offerings are amazing, and the prices were unbeatable. I took a few photos for those of you who have never been to Boston. This is where local home cooks and famous chefs go to get their goodies.

Monday, March 15

The Undercover Teacher

There is so much here that is wrong, and what are we going to do about it?
aolhealth Tweets

Tuesday, March 9

Flatbreads and Naked Chefs

      My daughter and I went out to dinner tonite and it was so wonderful that I have to blog about it! First we shared a delicious salad with a sprinkle of seaweed on top. Grace then had the cheese and herb flatbread which is delicious, but I ordered the vegetarian special.  ~ A flatbread with whole milk mozzarella, cilantro dressed organic tomatoes, cumin roasted corn, spiced black beans, grana padano (an aged hard cheese) and herbs, all topped with an avacado aioli drizzle. Washed down with a Moat Mountain Stout. Damn, that was good.
     Please, please watch this youtube and share it with others. It is a talk given by The Naked Chef who is still very cute with his clothes on, but it's the message that matters here. And it matters a lot. I am so excited that this guy is bringing a show to prime time TV that is going to reach the masses. Nothing but good can come of it, and there is the very real possibility that a lot of good can come from it. I so share his wish.

Japanoodles with Greens and Fiesta Chili with Cornbread Topping

     Japanoodles with Greens  I bet my kids will go for this meal based just on the name alone. But seriously, it does sound both good and easy and I'm going to try it this week. Don't have rice noodles on hand. This is the second time I have chosen a recipe featured by The Plant Based Dietician, Julieanna Hever. I clearly like the way she cooks. I was especially excited to see that this one calls for seaweed gomasio which is one of my go-to condiments that I use in cooking constantly, in place of salt in most cases. The recipe is from the offerings at Meatless Mondays this week. Check out their site for more great ideas.

     Here is the recipe for the Vegetarian Chili I made last week that the carnivore men were raving about. It was quite tasty and I have a feeling that the chopped portabello mushrooms give vegetarian meals a beefy feel that meatlovers enjoy. I started this one from Nigella Lawson's recipe but changed it in quite a few ways. One was a change from red to white lentils which worked out just fine. A couple of things that I added were simply because I had them on hand and needed to use them up. Don't be afraid to play around with the recipe.

Fiesta Chili With Cornbread Topping

2 T olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large red peppper, chopped
1 large green pepper, chopped
1.5 C lentils
3 C tomato puree
1/2 C tomato paste
1 bottle beer
1 can red kidney beans
1/2 can black beans
1/2 C pumpkin puree
1/2 jar corn salsa
1 large port. mushroom, chopped
1 handful chopped fresh cilantro and parsley
1 t. coriander
1 t. cumin
2 t. chili flakes
1/4 t. pepper

     Saute onion and garlic in olive oil til soft then begin adding other ingredients, stirring each in gently. This lively blend of colors inspired the name of the dish. Simmer awhile while preparing your favorite cornbread recipe. (I used 2 boxes of Jiffy mix). Spread batter over top of chili in casserole dish. Sprinkle with shredded mexican cheese if desired. Bake til cornbread is golden. Serve with more fesh cilantro, guac and sour cream or yogurt.

Wednesday, March 3

Food Rules

    Food rules are pretty good to have, especially when you are trying to raise children to be healthy eaters for life. I do concede that this is an immensely challenging task in our society, where children are bombarded with an over abundance of poor food choices (that become habits), are often disconnected from the sources of their food/ nature, and are the vicitims of shameless marketing pogroms that undermine the best parental efforts. Some of the rules that I have been a stickler about are; no wasting/ take only what you need, take at least a polite taste of everything, party foods are for special occasions and good fresh food is for every day, drink a lot of water, eating together as often as possible is important, and manners matter.
     Yesterday I mentioned Michael Pollan's wonderful little book of excellent Food Rules that really would make marvelous family reading. You  could discuss one different rule at dinner each night. I think I'll do that! I just came across this wonderful related article that Pollan put together which is also very entertaining. I'm also impressed that the whole thing came about through blogging. And I discovered a local fresh food and flower grower on the list and was even more excited. It's a small world. And we do need a few rules to take care of this precious little planet, and it's littlest occupants.

Tuesday, March 2

On Predictions, Peppers and Processed Foods

    Well, you just never know. The chili rellanos, which I (not usually a big pepper fan) found heavenly, didn't really go over particularly well with the rest of my tribe. Neither of my kids had anything nice to say about it, though my son had polished off the leftovers before the sun was up. Joe compared it to quiche, which though he loves quiche, seemed to be a negative comment. What surprised me more, was how much Joe and his son raved about the vegetarian chili with corn bread topping that I served after. I assumed they would not really relish the absence of carne in their chili. Instead they both told me they thought it was one of the very best dishes I have ever served them. Even more surprising was Joe praising the addition of lentils, the quintessential vegetarian protien! I'll post more about the chili soon. In the meantime, here is a photo of the chili rellanos in production. I wanted to note that I toned the cheese content down quite a bit from what the recipe called for and it was fine. I think my guests would have preferred more heat.
Also, please take a look at this trailer for a new documentary that seems worthwhile. It's the same thing Michael Pollan is saying in his wonderful new book Food Rules (Do read that, it's an easy and informative little thing);

Monday, March 1


     As I have mentioned before, in addition to the daily responsibility of feeding my two teens I frequently cook for Joe, a committed carnivore who visits us often, and tonite I'm also having his college-student son over for dinner. Junior was also less than enthusiastic about out change in diet. The two of them, with my own 6 foot 4 inch son, make for some serious eaters, so I've been putting a lot of thought into what I'm going to prepare tonight. This re-post from Meatless Mondays inspired me to go with a Tex-Mex theme that I know they all like. http://www.meatlessmonday.com/fiesta-fantastica-wrap/?utm_source=Meatless+Monday&utm_campaign=31a5fad8d2-Eater%27s_Digest_Monday_03_01_2010&utm_medium=email

       In a further effort to draw Joe over to the light side I want to serve this Chili Rellano casserole (recipe follows), probably with tortilla chips, as the appetizer. I chose this because I know Chili Rellanos is one of his favorite dishes, and it is almost always vegetarian, so it wont feel altered to him. Well, at least I'm hoping it wont. I have never prepared it for him, he gets it when we go out for Mexican and he reminisces about when he lived in California. I have avoided it because in the traditional recipe the chilies are dipped in oil and fried, and I avoid frying whenever possible. I'm trying to  eat as healthy as possible, and that didn't seem to fit the bill. This is what the real deal looks like.

You can see for yourself that this is not a very healthy way to prepare a vegetable. But I found this casserole version, that while still rather high in fat with all of that cheese, seemed a worthwhile compromise. I'm going to give these a try and will post photos and reactions. Feel free to send me any advice you have in the meantime.

Chili Rellano Casserole

•4 eggs
•1 1/2 cups milk
•2 Tbsp all purpose flour
•1/2 tsp pepper
•1/4 tsp salt
•12 fresh or 3 7- oz cans whole green chilies, split open
•4 cups shredded cheddar cheese (about 1 pound)
•4 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese (about 1 pound)
•1 cup cilantro
•3 tomatoes, diced (canned or fresh)
1.Lightly grease a 9 x 13 glass baking dish.
2.Beat the first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl to blend.
3.Arrange chilies from one can in the bottom of the baking dish, completely covering the bottom.
4.Sprinkle with 1/3 of the cheese mixture.
5.Repeat layering twice.
6.Pour egg mixture over the cheese and let stand 30 minutes.
(Can be prepared 1 day ahead-covered and refrigerated)
7.Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
8.Bake until casserole is slightly puffy in the center and golden brown on the edges (about 45 min).
9.Garnish, let cool for 20 min and serve.