July 30, 2011

Berry Season Is Here!

The new moon is here, welcoming the first harvest, the chilly nights that herald fall, and an opportunity to plant a second round of beets, kale, and carrots for the autumn harvest.

Remember that this is berry season! Berries are rich in antioxidants, which neutralize free radical damage to human cells and tissues, thereby helping to prevent cataracts, glaucoma, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, peptic ulcers, heart disease and cancer. The Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry recently published a study demonstrating that a serving of blueberries offers 38% more cardio-protective antioxidants than a glass of red wine.

If you would like to pick some blueberries to freeze or jam for the winter, now is the time to visit your local pick-your-own berry operation. Owl's Head Blueberry Farm in Richmond, Vermont, boasts live music once a week for pickers. Families and friends scrutinize bushes for the ripest berries while listening to live performances, from bluegrass banjo and harmonica to Irish bagpipes and flute.

Adam's Berrry Farm in Burlington,Vermont is part of a 24-member farm collective, The Intervale Food Hub, which cultivates once-abandoned land near the Winooski River and offers shares of fruit, vegetables, meat and eggs for purchase from May through October. Berries nourish damaged land: in partnership with a compost operation that creates fertile dirt with the help of chickens, Adam's Berry Farm has been able to restore soil nutrients at the Intervale so that crops can flourish.

In fact, the Deerfield Valley in southern Vermont hosts an entire festival in honor of these delectable treats.  I am honored to announce that my food article on this very subject just got published in a fine dining journal online.

Here is the link:

I encourage you to try some of the recipes I added to the article, which include:
>>Grilled salmon with wild rice and blueberry compote
>>Easy (and sugar-free) blueberry jam
>>Blueberry Maple Crumble

July 25, 2011

Cooking Food Fresh From Market

My thanks to all who participated in the cooking demo at Montpelier Farmers Market. 

Come back for more recipes and samples: 
August 6th @10am - Zucchini
August 13th @10am - Tomatoes

Please try the recipes below. Summer is a time to experience ease and freedom. In this spirit, remember to improvise and substitute other vegetables and spices as you feel inspired. You can use the guideline that whatever is in season right now probably tastes good together! 

Frittata with a potato crust

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add salt.
Chop 2 large red or russet potatoes into cubes.
Throw them into boiling water and cook until they are soft enough to poke through with a fork.
Drain and rinse potatoes. 
Place them in a bowl and mash them with:
            ¼ cup olive oil
            Two generous handfuls of these fresh herbs, minced: lavender, rosemary, and thyme

Chop 1 bunch scallions into rounds.
Heat olive oil in a skillet and add onions.
Turn down the heat to medium low. Add salt, cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
Add salt and black pepper.
Add a bunch of dark leafy greens (chard, collards, or kale) and simmer for 10 more minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Grease a pie plate with olive oil and press potato mixture into bottom of pie plate to make a crust.
Place cooked scallions and greens on top of potatoes.

In a bowl, beat 6 eggs, salt, pepper, and a splash each of water and lemon juice.
Add a generous handful of fresh minced flat-leaf parsley.
Pour egg mixture over the top of the greens and bake for 40 minutes.
Serve with sautéed zucchini or summer squash.

Healing Properties*:
Eggs: each one contains 6 grams of protein, 9 essential amino acids, and only 1.5 grams of saturated fat; rich in lutein, which helps prevent macular degeneration and cataracts; improve human lipid profile, thereby balancing cholesterol; contain naturally occurring vitamin D

Eggs poached in beet greens

Take a bunch of beet greens, rinse them, and place them in a deep skillet with an inch of water at the bottom.
Bring to a boil, covered, and reduce to simmer.
Add salt and black pepper.
Crack four eggs on top of the beet greens. Place lid on skillet and angle it to leave enough of an opening for steam to escape.
Beets: eat greens & roots!
Slowly poach the eggs on low heat for 5-6 minutes for soft yolks (8-9 minutes for hard yolks).

Meanwhile, chop a handful of each of these fresh herbs if you have them: mint, basil, parsley, cilantro.
Add fresh herbs on top of poaching eggs and steam briefly.

Remove each egg from the skillet with a slotted spatula and place on plates.
Serve with toast or grains and a drizzle of olive oil and lemon juice.

Healing Properties*:
Beet greens and swiss chard: balance blood sugar, help pancreatic cells to regenerate; contain phytonutrient anti-oxidants that reduce inflammation; high in calcium and Vit K to support bone health
Basil: eases stomach cramps and reduces flatulence; cools sensations of summer heat

Scrambled egg salad with summer squash and new carrots

Wash, rinse, and chop 2 large summer squash and 6-7 new carrots into ½ inch crescents.
Heat olive oil in a skillet. Add vegetables, salt, and pepper.
Sauté on medium heat for 3 minutes or until squash begins to soften.
Meanwhile, crack 6 eggs into a mixing bowl. Add:
Flowering Summer Squash Plant
            Salt and pepper
            A few sprigs each of chopped fresh sage, rosemary, lavender, lemon balm
            2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
            4 Tablespoons olive oil
Whisk together and pour into skillet with carrots and squash. Sauté for 3-4 minutes, stirring with a spatula, until eggs have hardened.
Serve with freshly baked corn bread or over pasta.

Healing Properties*:
Apple cider vinegar: contains enzymes that stimulate gastric secretions and improve digestion by balancing either an under-acidic or an overly acidic stomach condition
Carrots: rich in anti-oxidants to support heart health and vision; strengthen digestion and nutrient absorption in large intestine
Lemon Balm: anti-viral, soothes indigestion related to nervous tension, aromatic, anti-spasmodic and soothing to nervous system

Hard-Boiled Egg Sauce

Place a dozen eggs in a stock pot. Cover with water, bring to a boil, and boil for 5 minutes.
Remove from heat, drain hot water, and rinse with cold water until they are cool enough to handle.
Peel eggs and place in a blender.
Add to blender:
            ¼ cup olive oil
            2 teaspoons salt
            ½ Tablespoon lemon juice
            1 teaspoon powdered cumin
             ½ teaspoon paprika
            ½ teaspoon dried oregano OR 1 generous handful freshly chopped oregano
            1 Tablespoon dried parsley OR 1 generous handful freshly chopped parsley
            A handful of freshly chopped scallions or chives (if you have them)
Blend at highest speed for 2 minutes.
Serve with grains or as garnish for simple soups.

Healing Properties*:
Parsley: contains volatile oils and flavonoids that may inhibit lung tumor development, help protect the skin, and aid in the digestion of fats.

*'Healing Properties' source information:
Mateljan, George. Foundation Archives. www.whfoods.org
Onstad, Dianne. Whole Foods Companion. Chelsea Green, 2004.
Plants for a Future. www.pfaf.org

July 11, 2011

Recipes from Sage Mountain

I had the honor of cooking for an herbal learning program at Sage Mountain Herbal Retreat Center (www.sagemt.com) this weekend. A few showy lady slippers are still in bloom and the gardens abound with pink malva, purple clary sage, shy violets and fragrant lemon balm. I included all these edible flowers in our salads! 

Basmati Brown Rice with roasted beets, peas, mint and basil
Rinse ½ cup basmati brown rice.
Pour into a cooking pot with 1 ½ cups water.
Bring to a boil; then reduce to simmer.
Add 1 teaspoon salt and 2 Tablespoons olive oil.
Simmer, covered, on low heat for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop 3 beets into bite-sized chunks.              
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Place beets in a glass baking dish, coat with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and roast for 30 minutes.

As beets and rice are cooking, mince 2 large handfuls fresh basil and 1 small handful fresh mint.
When the rice is 5 minutes or less from completion, add:
>>minced herbs
>>½ cup peas (either shelled ones or whole snap peas)

When rice is cooked, add roasted beets and a splash of lemon juice. Mix everything together, taste for salt, and enjoy!

White Bean Soup with Zucchini and Garlic Scapes

Choose cannellini (white kidney) or Vermont yellow-eye beans.

To soak dry beans, place ½ cup in a large bowl and cover with 1 inch water. Soak for 8 hours or overnight.

Pour beans through strainer and allow to drain.

Rinse with water until liquid runs clear through strainer.

Pour into a stock pot with 3 cups water.

Cover pot and turn heat on high.

Bring to a boil, watching carefully to make sure that beans do not boil over. 

Once the pot has come to a boil, remove lid and reduce to medium heat.

Cannellini beans
Foam will form on top of the water. Use a spoon to skim off the foam. Repeat this step periodically as you notice more foam. Cook beans 1 hour or until tender. Strain and rinse once more.

If using canned beans, choose ones with no salt added (I like Eden Organics). Strain and rinse before proceeding.

While beans are cooking, heat olive oil in a skillet. Add:

>>2 cups fresh garlic scapes

>>2 large zucchini, chopped into crescents
>>1/2 Tablespoon each: salt and black pepper

Pour 1/3 cup white wine over the vegetables and sear them on high heat.
Then cover and cook on medium heat for 15 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. 
If you have fresh culinary herbs, mince and add the following:
>>6 sprigs thyme
>>2 sprigs lavender flowers
>>6 sprigs marjoram
>>6 sprigs rosemary
>>5 sprigs savory
If using dried herbs, add 2 teaspoons each except lavender, which only required 1/2 teaspoon.

Add 4-5 cups water, bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, and cook soup for 1/2 hour or more if you wish.
When beans are tender, drain them and add them to the soup pot.

Basil Parsley Pesto
Genovese basil

In blender, mix:
3 T olive oil
¼ cup sunflower seeds
2 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon lemon juice

Fresh flat-leaf parsley (½ bunch)
Fresh basil (1 bunch)

Blend at highest speed for 2 minutes.
Enjoy with vegetable fritters, rice dishes, 
or flat breads.

Rosewater Cookies
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix these dry ingredients in a bowl:
>>1 ½ cups rice flour or spelt flour
>>1 Tablespoon each: cinnamon and cardamom
>>Pinch salt

Make a well in the center of the flours and spices and add:
>>5 Tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
>>1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
>>¼ cup coconut oil, softened at room temperature
>>¼ cup maple syrup
>>4 Tablespoons honey
>>2 Tablespoons rosewater (in wellness section of most health food stores)

Rosa canina
Mix wet and dry ingredients together.                     
Oil a cookie sheet and drop dough onto it in spoonfuls.

Slide cookie sheet into oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove, flatten each cookie gently with the back of a fork, and bake for 10 more minutes.

Healthy Eating Program

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