Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Participatory Environmentalism: Where The Grass Is Still Green





This year’s Climate Change Conference created a point of inspiration. I’ve been thinking about all the parts and players, realizing that I was hesitant to blog about any of it. We like to keep it light around here, after all. But was that really the bone of contention? No, probably not. She does what she wants, and says what she wants. But, gosh I post about pasta and there’s meat all over the place on this thing, not everything is organic… and sometimes I buy things made in China ::Oh Lord I’ve said it:: So - who am I?! (in pointed accusation) to talk about Environmentalism?! The vegans will crucify me. I don’t want to war with anyone online, especially not about the hypocrisy of my use of pork products, while discussing recycling. These are the things I’m mulling over when I come to the realization. How many people out there are intimidated by the devout naturalists whose passions ring true, but whose processes segregate those that aren’t “all in?” How dangerous it is when we, without realizing it, in the process of judging someone else’s involvement in a movement, actually disengage those who aren’t prepared for “all in” but were prepared for “up-to-my-ankle” for now.

I’ll stick to myself here, as I can only speak on that. Trying to do my part everyday through recycling, upcycling, reusing when I can, gardening, trying to eliminate waste and to buy local and/or organic when possible, sometimes just feels too little, too late after reflection on the grand scale - globally- nationally- futuristically. That said, all of us on board doing what we can is better than doing nothing. We are, all of us, in it together. We’ve reached critical mass, as sheets of ice the size of Rhode Island are disappearing into the ocean, encroaching our beaches and the weather swirls around us as a sharp reminder of what’s at stake. Today, deferring environmental responsibility is no longer an option. 

We cannot look blindly at our extreme weather events and deny that Climate Change stands to be a huge influence on the #FutureofFood. Drought, flood, extreme weather ensure one thing... famine. What used to be a very scary prediction, that right here, in our country, WE will be affected, is upon us. That was when we had the luxury of deciding whether Global Warming was real or not, deciding whether we believed in Climate Change. Equate this to another time in our history, when people had the chance to decide whether they believed the Earth was flat, or if the rumors were true that some new age explorers had found it to be round. I’m sure that was an unpopular notion. It sort of changed everything. For a short time, I imagine there was a divide between those who accepted the news and those who didn’t see the proof. Until it was no longer acceptable to “decide” because there was, in fact, only one truth. Right now, the pendulum is swinging fast for the other direction when the shoe drops the possiblility of the Earth being flat is gone. In fact, we have seen more and more farms throughout the states requiring subsidies for lost crops, diseased crops, lacking irrigation resources and under the stress of drought.

Judgment from would be good-doers discourages those that want to take part, but not give their life to it. You want to be more environmentally conscious, but you're not ready to live off-grid. You want to eat more wholesome but can't afford organics all the time, trips to the Farmer’s Market don’t fit the schedule, you’re never going to become a vegan, etc... Don't let the extremist discourage you. Don't give them the power of your refusal to try. We always hear from the extremists, never the person doing what they can. No one wants to argue with the extremist about why they aren't doing enough. 

Between the inert and the extreme, there are those of us just doing what we can, when we can even when it's not the easier choice. Participatory Environmentalism. IT IS OKAY. Better than okay. Yes, I buy clothes new sometimes, we eat meat- not always organic either ::GASP:: sometimes we even buy a happy meal, sometimes we shop at Walmart, sometimes we buy things we don't need, sometimes we drive vehicles that aren't gas savers, we crank the air conditioning (115 degrees y’all). On the other hand, we are conscious, we care, we are informed, and we do what we can when we can even when it's not the easy choice. 

Of course, change is sometimes hard. It's uncomfortable. But baby steps turn into movements. Each and Every sliver of participation from anyone of us... contributes... stands to influence. To influence the environment, to influence those little eyes watching and mimicking you, to influence your neighbor, stranger, friend, foe, whoever. This is the beauty of what we are here to do - hopefully inspire one another & lift one another up, to teach the next generation how to do it better than we have, as our parents have shown us how to do things better than they did (or at least what NOT to do.) These threads travel through time and weave the cloth that speaks to our legacy. 


Check out some of my favorite climate & food related websites to stay informed here:

Until next time... We'll be back in the kitchen!!! :)
XoXo





Monday, October 20, 2014

Brunch Steak & Garden Hash with Basted Eggs




Okay, Okay, Okay..I admit, I don't wholly share her sentiment. After a strong mug of coffee, I like to make breakfast but really don't like to eat before brunch and only sometimes do I tell anyone to sleep in the kitchen. For these reasons, today I thought I'd drop in with a nice little starter blog this morning about one of my favorite meals- BRUNCH!! This is a great way to use last night's baked potatoes and steak for a quick and easy breakfast or brunch. No baked potatoes on hand? NO problemo! Microwave a couple of potatoes for 7 minutes or ::GASP:: use the "potato button."   Halve & Allow them to cool before shredding or you'll have steamed fingers.

Basted eggs, well...Kitchen Diva Basted Eggs, are a great healthier alternative to traditional fried eggs. This recipe cuts down the butter used for traditional "fried" eggs by finishing the cooking process with steam. The result is still that great fried-egg-type yolk and texture, with less fat. They really tender this way versus the sometime crunchy-spongy texture fried eggs get when cooked too high, to fast.

Brunch Steak & Garden Hash

1-2 Baked Potatoes
½ Cup Chopped Leftover Grilled Steak, per person
(Ribeye, London Broil, Filet, New York..use whatever you have)

¼ Cup Green Bell Pepper,diced
¼ Cup Mushrooms, diced
2 Tbsp Chopped Tomato
2 Tbsp Onion, minced
1 Clove Garlic, minced
Drizzle of Oil, (Grapeseed, Olive or Vegetable)
½ tsp Butter
Salt/Pepper, to taste

Kitchen Diva Basted Egg

1 Egg
1 tsp Butter
2 Tbsp Water
Pan with a cover



Hash

Shred baked potatoes into a pan drizzled with oil on medium high heat.

Hashed potatoes crisped before adding veggies
Brown shredded potatoes for 10 minutes, mixing every so often, until crispy. Chop all your veggies & meat while that gets down in the pan.

Add caption




Add all veggies, garlic, butter, salt and pepper; continue pan frying for another 5 minutes, mixing every couple of minutes.


Added veg to the pan

Remove pan from heat and add chopped steak to warm through. Then, stir it up before serving under your egg(s).






Basted Egg

Warm butter in saute pan until melted. Medium Heat.

Melt butter & swish around pan


Crack egg into pan and let cook in butter, until egg whites become semi-firm. About 1 minutes 30 seconds. 
Saute in butter for about 1 minute 30 







Add water to pan and cover to steam.
Water Added to the pan, egg starts to bubble and it's time to COVER

Covered



Depending on how you and your guest(s) like their eggs, time for at least 3 minutes for a dippy (as we call it around here, like we are Pennsylvanian Dutch) egg, 4 minutes for over medium and more minutes for a firm egg.

**Disclaimer: We always eat them in the first 2 categories, so I have no idea how long it takes to cook them all the way through. But, keep them on there and they are guaranteed to keep cooking! :) Also, your pan heat will vary the time a bit, so keep an eye on them every minute past the time given.


Serve it all up with a side of fruit, maybe a grapefruit mimosa on a special occasion - like it's Saturday morning and we made it through Friday! Any occasion is a good one for a little morning mimosa.

ENJOY!!




Working on some fun new stuff so until then, Happy Cooking...


XoXo

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Grilled Surf & Turf, Kohlrabi & Roasted Carrots



Something new…& we LOVE it : Kohlrabi! It’s not often we try a new vegetable and the fella mentions he’d like to have that again.

If you are looking for a Dinner Party meal with big flavors and elegance, wrapped up in a pretty easy package – this is just the one! Luscious Shrimp & Perfectly Grilled Steak over a puree of something exotic like Kohlrabi… Your guests may have never heard of this yummy little secret, but when they go home, they won’t be quick to forget it. Bonus round, this one is very Low Carb & yet the pureed Kohlrabi acts as a Mashed Potato substitute with a similar fluffy texture. The flavor is that of Broccoli & Red Potato’s lovechild. If you are worried about feeling cheated from a carb (you likely won’t but just in case) throw some garlic bread on to soak it all up.

Now we’re talking!

 

Surf & Turf over Puréed Kohlrabi & Roasted Carrots

Surf N Turf

1 lb Shrimp (or 1/3 lb per guest)
Zesy Shrimp Marinade (see recipe below)
Steaks (Filets, New Yorks or Ribeyes) 1 per person
Montreal Seasoning
Sprinkle of Garlic Powder
Sprinkle of Sea Salt

Veggies

10 Carrots, peeled
3 Whole Kohlrabi
¼ Cup +3 Tbsp Cup Drippings (Turkey, Chicken or Beef)
2 Tbsp Half/Half (or cream)
1 Clove Garlic
4 Tbsp Reserved Water (from Kohlrabi)
Salt & Pepper


Zesty Dill Italian Shrimp Marinade:

2 Tbsp Jack Daniels Mustard
2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
1/3 Cup Olive Garden Italian Dressing (use your favorite Italian Dressing here)
1 ½  tsp Dried Dill
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Grated Lemon
Salt & Pepper



Frozen drippings thawing




***Kitchen Tip: Save your Drippings -  When I make a roasted Chicken, turkey or roast beef I always reserve the drippings and either make a soup or a gravy, a stock or I freeze for use another day. All that juice and flavor is just too good to throw away!  In this recipe, drippings come into good use for roasting the carrots in and add a ton of flavor to the Kohlrabi mash.





Start with the steaks. Give them the once over, check 'em out. Make sure there's nothing weird about them. They look good? Great! Get them going by sprinkling liberally, both sides, in Montreal Seasoning & a light sprinkle of garlic power & sea salt. Refrigerate while you work on prep.




Get your shrimp into a marinade about an hour before you plan to grill. Too long in the marinade, they start to cook and are overly flavored. Note, though, larger shrimp & shrimp still in their shells can withstand longer marinade times. I used 26/30 count shrimp here, shells on.



If not already done, remove the vein on the back of the shrimp. You might like to also peel them. I sometimes keep the shell on larger shrimp to lock in the moisture; smaller shrimp I usually remove the shell to allow them to soak in a good marinade for moisture and flavor. This is all personal preference, so go for whatever you like!



The Veggies


Peel & Half the Kohlrabi. Peel the tough outer shell, as you would a potato. 


Cut into halves; the inside of the Kohlrabi has the similar texture to a crisp apple/potato/broccoli heart. Their cook time is similar to potatoes, too!

Bring a pot of water to boiling; add halved Kohlrabi. Simmer for 30 minutes.


Looks like a Potato but it's Kohlrabi, halved and ready to simmer


While that simmers...

Peel & cut carrots into sticks or rounds – again personal preference. Toss them up with 3 Tbsp of drippings, salt and pepper. 




Roast on 375 degrees F for 20-25 minutes. Mine. Were thick so 25 mins for me.

Back to the Kohlrabi...

Loosely chop the garlic clove. Heat a sauté pan over medium heat and add ¼ Cup drippings with 1 clove of garlic, chopped. Flash sauté for just a minute and pull off heat (don’t let the garlic get too brown.)



In a food processor, add the garlic drippings, 1 Tbsp Half/Half (or cream) and 2 Tbsp of Kohlrabi water. Process until smooth. Add a little salt and pepper and give it one last spin.

Pour Puree into an oven safe baking dish.

Now, your carrots are done; pull them out of the oven and cover until serving time. 



Turn oven off. Let your kohlrabi rest in the oven while you grill everything, so it's nice and hot for serving.


Pureed Kohlrabi rested in a warm oven right before serving
Grill Steak

For a good medium rare steak, grill the steaks for 9 minutes total (for about 1 ½ inch steak); flip every 4 minutes approximately. Turn 90 degrees every 2 minutes for some good grill marks! Note- cook times vary with method of grilling, heat regulation and the cut of meat so it takes some practice to get *perfect* and even then, there’s always that one that gets a little overdone, it seems. I've found that the 9 minute mark is a pretty safe guide, in general.



Grill Shrimp Last

Let steaks rest while you grill the shrimp. For easy grilling and clean up, use a grill basket...like this:

If you don't have a grill basket, get one. Seriously. This is one of my favorite grill things ever.



Depending on your grill heat and size of shrimp, about 3 minutes per side will get you where they need to be. Not too dried out, not raw on the inside. 


Serve Kohlrabi puree as a base and layer the carrots, steak & shrimp over the top.


As you cut into the steak, expect all those meaty juice to add even more flavor to your puree

A beautiful plate to serve - anytime!




As I finish up this weeks recipes, #ClimateChange has been on my mind. I'm working on a post, something a little different, but important to me nonetheless. Never know where inspiration strikes so until next time...Happy Cooking!!!



Friday, September 19, 2014

Conquering Succulent Grilled Rainbow Trout

I had an “Ah Ha” moment last night. For years I’ve admired whole fish in the market, from afar. So beautiful and glistening, on ice. Bright eyed (hopefully). Yet, also rather intimidating looking, if you ask me. The skin-crawling thought of touching...well, it's a whole little slippery animal there. Eek! Without fail, I would get right up to the moment when the butcher asks, “May I help you.” That’s on a good day. Other days it’s an annoyed, "Can I get you something" or the always welcoming Grunt that signals. “if you absolutely need something, I will begrudgingly assist with some eye rolling and judgment.” What’s up with all the rudeness lately, anyway?! Like Knox sings, “Why ya gotta be so RUuuuuUDE?!”


Like I was saying, I would get right up to pulling the trigger and would have an out-of-body moment my mind is thinking one thing but I hear myself say, "I’ll take a pound of…pause…(butcher's looking rather annoyed)… shrimp ::insert salmon, swordfish, any other already fileted fish here::” Then, I'd shrink away still thinking about that beautiful whole fish on ice. This is all really weird, because I'm usually fearless in the kitchen.  Okay, so yeah, yeah enough about this whole whole-fish anxiety! I’m here today to say I BEAT IT. Why THE HELL was I so hesitant?! Finally climbing that mountain and buying a whole fish, namely Rainbow Trout from Idaho (but in Las Vegas), was the best decision I made this week. Please, if you or someone you know are suffering from whole fish anxiety – seek help – I recommend facing your fear. With this recipe.


Grilling the Trout whole leaves succulent, tender fish that literally falls off the bone in one juicy beautiful fillet. No muss, no fuss. No picking bones with tweezers. No pulling bones out as you eat. So easy.
Now get out there and JUST DO IT!


 Whole Rainbow Trout


Grapeseed oil
Sea Salt
Pepper
Granulated Garlic
1 Tbsp Butter per fish, softened
1 tsp Dried Dill per fish
1/2 Lemon, sliced thin
2 Whole Trout (Approx. 1.25 lbs)
Nonstick Cooking Spray

Let's start with little bit about buying the fish...I won't pretend to be an expert. I do know, if it smells funky, it IS funky. Not funky fresh, just funky. The eyes should be clear and bright. If they are cloudy, that's an old fish. 


Also, the fish should be firm. Like Jax Teller (a.k.a Charlie Hunnam, previously known as Christian Gray for a day, yet us XX chromosomes still wish it was so.) If your finger mushes into the fish or indents the flesh and the intention stays...that's an old fish.

Seriously...if you have a funky fish in question, trust your instinct, you will know...and don't forget:


So, get rid of that shit. That's a Proverb so thus goes for life, as well. I've been tossing those rotten fish and bleaching my kitchen. Life is fresher than ever!

Alright, so now you've chosen the freshest, most beautiful trout in the bunch and you are ready to grill!

Prep


Rub both sides of the fish with oil. Sprinkle skin on both sides with plenty of sea salt and black pepper, some dill and garlic powder. 

Open the fish by separating at the middle – where the fish has been sliced to clean the “stuff” out (by the butcher because I'm not THERE yet!) Sprinkle the inside liberally with dill, garlic powder, sea salt and black pepper. 

Coat the inside of the fish with softened butter – about 1 tablespoon per fish (both sides of the filets should be exposed by a slit down the belly of the fish when cleaned properly). I used ½ the butter on one side of the exposed flesh and then the other half on the other side.

Slide two or three slices of thinly sliced lemon into the fish and close, like a sandwich.

Prepped & Ready for the Heat


Grill


Preheat grill to medium heat.

Spray a grilling basket lightly with Cooking Spray. Place the fish in the basket and then on the pre-heated grill. Turn grill down to low and close the lid. Come back in 6 minutes and flip.


A Doors song reference comes to mind here


Cook another 6 minutes and remove from heat.

Let fish rest for a few minutes to cool.


Pull the skin from the meat and discard. GENTLY. Using two forks, slide the filet off of the bone in one piece. I found using two utencils helps, by gently pressing the filet away from the bone, while stabilizing the bone with the other fork. The tiny little bones will start to pull away from the meat, just keep gently wiggling them free and soon you'll have the full filet sans bones free and beautiful.



Serve!!


Garnish with a couple of the slices of grilled lemon from inside the fish, salt and pepper. Serve over rice.


Glistening, moist & flavorful...this will be a fan favorite!!!




For proof of fear conquered...

The bone came out whole, the first try!! Score!


Onto the next!




Until next time...Happy Cooking!!


XoXo