Parsley Salad

ParsleyParsley.  It’s all over my garden.

That’s because parsley is one of those re-seeders. Plant it once and thereafter, wherever there’s the smallest patch of unoccupied soil, parsley will take up residence.

Could be an example of abundance.  But it could equally be viewed as a weed problem.

There’s only so much parsley a person needs to garnish a plate, after all.

Happily, the scale was tipped in favor of abundance when I discovered a recipe for parsley salad.  Who knew those prolific greens could serve as a substitute for lettuce.

Especially handy because late summer and early autumn were too hot for my fall crop of lettuce.  But parsley came roaring back despite the heat.  And by the way, the hardy stuff was one of the first plants to produce in spring.

And remember one more thing:  I didn’t have to lift a finger planting, water, weeding or tending.  All I had to do was harvest the bounty of highly nutritious green leaves (and parsley is packed with nutrients.)

Finally, I’m thinking that with a little creativity, there could be a lot more uses for parsley that garnish and salads.  I’m remembering a parsley pesto, parsley soup, potatoes . . .  you get the idea.

Guess parsley falls into the abundance category.

Parsley Salad

Cleaning out cookbooks recently, I stumbled across an old recipe for Parsley Salad. With plenty of variations and options, the salad was a great substitute for a regular green salad. As a cool weather crop, parsley will actually be sweet and tender in cool to cold temperatures, so experiment now for best flavor.

The Flip Side of Extravagance

Yesterday’s post talked about extravagance–something we get to indulge in because autumn is such a generous season. There’s a flip side, however:  Autumn isn’t bountiful with everything, only produce that ripens at this time of year.  While the collection of autumn-ripening produce is definitely the biggest, it doesn’t include things like asparagus, queen of spring, or snap peas and cherries which brighten early summer.  Even summer squash and green beans start disappearing after the early days of September.

One of the neat parts of becoming a seasonal eater is learning to devise incredible meals with just what a season has to offer.  Yesterday we talked about having lots of peppers at this time of year, so practically every dish I make gets a color and sweetness boost from peppers.  That’s easy enough to figure out.

The harder part comes when a recipe calls for, say, asparagus and red peppers, a combo that doesn’t fall in the realm of seasonal possibility.  “Does that mean I can never make that recipe?” you might be wondering with dismay.  Of course not.  Our year-round-availability grocery stores will always stock the entire panoply of produce regardless of seasonality.  We are privileged to make whatever we want, whenever we want.

But volunteering to stay within seasonal bounds has unexpected benefits.  For starters, It’s fun.  Just as necessity is the mother of invention, coming up with meals using just what’s available leads to innovative–and surprisingly tasty–combinations.   It’s also comforting and time-saving because we don’t have an endless universe of options to process through and decide upon.  Finally, it feels really right to work with, instead of despite, nature.  It’s quite freeing to opt out of the “you can have it all” food philosophy dished up in supermarkets.  I get a pleasurable feeling that I’m in control of what goes in my mouth and that I’m supporting things that are important to me, like food grown in a way that will ensure farmlands will produce wholesome foods for our children and their children.

Tomatillas

Ready to experiment with seasonal eating.  Try tomatillas.  They are certainly what nature has dished up in our area after a long hot summer.  While our tomatoes struggled with the heat, the tomatillas survived and thrived–with practically no attention.  As odd as they might look, the sweet tart fruit under those husks make a great addition to an egg scramble, salsas of all varieties, hashed brown potatoes–you’ll find all sorts of uses for them.


Extravagance

Red Pepper

Autumn is such an extravagant time.  Take red peppers, which come into season in the fall.  At any other time of year, organic red peppers can cost $3.50 a piece and should I buy one, it would be frugally parceled out into at least three dishes.

In autumn, however, a gigantic organic pepper, as sweet as jam, costs only $1.66.  My CSA gives us three or four each week.  I will eat an entire pepper, much like an apple, hurrying to gulp down huge bites before winter comes and they all disappear.

Part of me chides and demands a pound of guilt for engaging in such unabashed greed.  Buy why feel guilty when there’s so much abundance?

The word abundance brings up the term “abundance theory,” which is thrown about a lot these days.  I always discounted it, as a veiled justification for accumulating more stuff.  But over the last few months,  I’ve come to see a more palatable side of abundance theory while watching my garden yield significant amounts of produce for the first time.

Stop long enough to count and it’s clear to see that nature is wildly abundant.  In May we put seeds in the ground the size of pin heads.  Lo and behold, by September they’ve magically transformed into a cornucopia of carrots, tomatoes, chard, kale, eggplant, peppers and more!  Maybe that’s what the abundance theory really refers to.

To experience the abundance theory yourself, head to a Farmers’ Market or farm stand, right away and buy the last of the warm weather crops.  Then eat them with abandon!

Canning Tomatoes When Convenience is King

“That’s a lot of work!”

Why bother putting up tomatoes when you can buy a 28-oz. can for $1.89 and no effort?

Put up a couple boxes of tomatoes, pick my neighbor’s plums so they don’t go to waste or spend a Saturday morning stocking up at the Farmers’ Market and there’s a good chance I’ll be met with exclamations about how much effort that must have taken.  I even feel dogged by the effort involved,  even though I like it.

The underlying assumption, of course, is that work = undesirable.  Convenience is king is our world, so things that aren’t convenient must be things we want to avoid.  Given that assumption, how can we possibly feel ok about picking tomatoes, then canning and eventually cooking them into a dish when there is a machine that can make cans of tomatoes for $1.89 each?

We know the answer to that question.  Putting out effort yields food that’s much better tasting, more nutritious, we know where it comes from and what’s in it, we can choose to support local growers and more sustainable growing practices. . . . The hard part is acting on those values–which is where Food Day comes in.   What if, as a culture, we begin shifting our notions about what’s a good use of time?  What if we decide that convenience is just one factor to consider, but other things are worthy, too?  What if, when a friend excitedly describes how he made strawberry jam, we say, “Good for you!”

As for me, I like being “an active participant in my own survival,” as I like to say.  It’s deeply rewarding to know I did something that directly improves my ability to thrive and be well on this planet.  And anyway, if I took advantage of machine-made canned tomatoes and got some extra time, would I spend it in a way that’s nearly as good for my health, well-being, joy and fun?  Somehow, I think I might just default to more screen time!

Food Day Every Day

Food Day LogoFood Day is my kind of day–a day to celebrate food that is safe, healthful, affordable, local, seasonal and most of all delightfully delicious.  All over the country, there will be potlucks, film screenings, talks, food drives and other events in honor of Food Day.  Despite my best intentions to help organize some events, time kept slipping away.  Some soul-searching finally revealed the culprit:  My own food related activities!

Autumn is the time when seasonal eaters are crazily strategizing and mobilizing to put away autumn’s harvest and fill pantries and freezers for the long cold, brown months ahead.  It’s a busy, busy time–so busy that it took a while to realize why I can’t do more to organize outside events, i.e., because I’m completely filled doing Food Day every day, in my own kitchen!

So instead of organizing an event, my contribution will be a 30-day countdown of blog posts from now until October 24, about what it looks like to do, be and live Food Day every day.

The point is that Food Day for me is about not only events but about dreaming and envisioning a day when everyone can access, make and enjoy good, safe, scrumptious, health-giving food.  My professional and personal journey over the last 20 years has revealed that to get from here to there we need a new food system.  Wow, that sounds big.  What does that look like?  How can we do it?  What values will drive this change?

Showing what a new food system might look like is what this blog is about.  It’s exciting, empowering and engaging.  Can everyone do what I do?  That’s not the point.  Read the posts without any “shoulds” or “oughta’s,” but simply for information, encouragement, maybe even a little entertainment.  If any of the ideas change your intentions, you can trust that your everyday food world will follow suit.  Just a little more thought and attention given to what’s on our plates and we’re on the way to a new food world.

Maybe you have some ideas of what a new food world looks like.  Share your Food Day Every Day thoughts, experiences and photos.

A Food Day Dinner

Food Day Every Day starts with the meals we make each day.  What a powerful tool for change!  Just by  making careful choices about the foods we prepare and eat, we can be healthier ourselves–and see a healthier environment, community and local economy.  Here we have a kale salad made with kale from my garden and sautéed pears from Colorado’s western slope.  The pasta sauce features eggplant, tomatoes, onion and garlic from my CSA, plus a green pepper I found hidden in the kale patch.

Food Day happens on October 24.  Read more about Food Day on the national level and how to become involved in Boulder County’s Food Day.

Guardians of Nutrition?

What’s this pink stuff doing on our healthy eating blog? Here’s the better question: Why’s this pink stuff being fed to our kids–and dogs?

“Here you go, Junior!”  That’s what a fellow traveler said as he set a big bowl of soft frozen dessert in front of Junior.  Nothing too unusual there, right?  Except that Junior is a dog, just barely beyond puppy stage.

If you’re like me, you’re wondering, “Why the heck is someone feeding sugar coated chemical mix to a dog?”  And in fact, when it was placed in front of Junior, the dog gave his master a one-ear-up quizzical look, as if to say, “Am I really supposed to eat this?”  But his master gave the thumbs up, so he went ahead and lapped it up.

This all took place as we pulled into a coffee shop that doubled as an ice cream joint.  By the time we had gone inside, gotten our tea and were returning to our car, master and dog had licked up every last bit of their desserts.  As everyone climbed back into their vehicles and drove off, I couldn’t help but ponder what had just transpired.

Here is a dog, completely dependent on his master for not just food but nourishment, and here is what he’s given:

Sugar, Dextrose, Corn Syrup Solids, Partially  Hydrogenated Coconut Oil, Maltodextrin, Guar and Xanthan Gums, Sodium Caseinate (a milk derivative), Salt, Mono and Diglycerides, Lecithin, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Sodium Silico Aluminate, Yellow 5, Yellow 6.  (From the website of Unified Enterprises corporation, sellers of soft frozen desserts and equipment.)

Really?  Even the dog sensed that something was amiss about what his master was feeding him.  But he’s a dog and dogs do what their masters say.

So do kids.

If it bugs you, like it did me, to see sugar-coated chemicals fed to a dog, you can’t help but take the next logical step and wonder, “Why the heck do we feed the stuff to our kids?”  Like dogs, children are completely dependent on their parents not just for food but for the nourishment that ensures proper development of body, mind and spirit.  A child will eat whatever mom and dad put before him, placing complete faith in their knowledge, wisdom and care.

While no parent knowingly breaks the sacred trust we hold as nurturers, what do you make of manufacturers who mold sugar, flavorings, bad fats and toxic colorings into food-shaped products and convince us to feed them to our children?  Something seems really wrong about this part of our food culture.

It is appropriate–and vital–to demand more of our food manufacturers.  But ultimately, it’s the job of we parents to be smarter than food manufacturers, to figure out what is truly nourishing for our children’s’ bodies, and to be courageous enough to feed them well, despite the tidal wave of marketing aimed at undermining us.

To a new culture of eating healthful foods good for our kids and the planet they will inherit!

Confused about what’s truly healthful for kids?  Want to get on the same wholesome eating page with your child?  Join our  Parent/Young Adult Cooking Classes, a 4-week series at the East Boulder Recreation Center.  Together, make and take home a delicious and healthful meals and learn a new, nurturing way to eat.  More info and to register.

%d bloggers like this: