Showing posts with label green living. Show all posts
Showing posts with label green living. Show all posts

Thursday, November 7, 2013

every last bite

As much as I love comforting fall foods, I have to admit I miss the fresh produce summer provides - especially tomatoes. Unfortunately, once the temperatures start to dip I want a salad less frequently. But as the final bits of this years' harvest make it in my CSA bag, I am determined to find a way to use and savor every last bite. This recipe for roasted roma tomatoes in fresh herbs does just that.

You will need:
1 quart of roma tomatoes
extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
fresh herbs, such as basil and oregano

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Quarter the roma tomatoes. Remove seeds by sliding your fingers down the sides. Place on baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Top with freshly ground pepper. Lightly chop fresh herbs and scatter over tomatoes. Place in oven for two hours. Remove and let cool. Store in air tight container like jar or freezer bag. Place in freezer for up to six months.

These chewy flavor packed tomatoes can be used to top a pizza, tossed in with your favorite pasta, or blended into you favorite sauce with the help of a food processor. The would be great chopped into an omelet or quiche. Along with come wilted spinach they would be wonderful on top of a grilled portabella. You can even make a fantastic pesto spread with them. The possibilities are endless. And I am going to enjoy every last one.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

strawberry pickin

So, it has been a bit since I have done a post like this, but I really wanted to share with you all our family's experience picking strawberries this summer. We found a small organic farm here in Memphis, tucked away in a suburban neighborhood (of all places). After driving to a part of town that neither I (a native Memphian) or my husband (a transplant) have ventured to before, we easily found Windermere Farms.

The great thing was they were open til 6pm so we went one evening after my hubs got off work. We were given a couple of boxes and were let loose in the fields. The kids quickly spotted the red berries and were excited to help pick some fruit. They were also excited to take a few bites on some straight from the vine. (Probably should have given a couple of extra bucks for the berries that were eaten on site.) Anyway, for a big box that you are allowed to heap full with fresh organic berries you only pay $16!

Plus, it was great to show the kids. They not only running through the fields and picking berries, but there was also a couple of homemade seesaws they took advantage of too. It was a wonderful way to spend sunset before we went home to cook dinner. And of course, there were fresh strawberries for dessert.

We put the rest in the fridge and ate on them for a week. After that, I made a big batch of homemade strawberry honey jam. We have been enjoying that in PB&J sammies at lunch and on croissants at breakfast. My sister-in-law recently came for a visit and gobbled up some of the jam too. We have already gone through one jar and started another one!

Most of all it was a great experience as a family. We had a wonderful time getting outside and getting some fresh goodies together. I look forward to returning for pick your own blueberries and blackberries in the near future. We may even venture to another local orchard to pick our own peaches. Just think of the preserves I can put up. We will be tasting summer all year long.

Speaking of taste, I should mention these berries were delicious. The kids would ask for bowl after bowl as we splashed in the sprinklers in our backyard. The were juicy, tart, and sweet. Summer in its most perfect form. I am kicking myself for not making some strawberry shortcake before we ate our way through them.

So, if you get a chance take your family out to Windermere Organic Farm and pick your own berries. It is good, clean, and tasty family fun!

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Summer is soon coming to a close, and this means a few sad things in our house. The tomatoes will get less juicy, the grilling will get less frequent, and the baby pool will be packed away. As you might imagine each member of my family is disappointed in varying degrees by each event.

Like many foodies, summer is my favorite time of the year. From fresh okra fried to a crisp to blushing peaches put in pies, I love the food in the summer. Don't get me wrong, I look forward to my pumpkin bread in the fall, but it just isn't the same. And, like many backyard gardeners who dabble in growing my own food I am always sad when our small food patch slowly dries up into a brown shriveled ghost of its green past.

My herbs probably hurt the most of all. I so enjoy adding fresh rosemary to my potatoes or cilantro to my guacamole. And they are so expensive at the store for a small amount. So to send off summer properly, I like to use up every last bit I have on hand. Take these three salads as examples. I add chopped mint to the top of my fruit salad. I swirl in minced dill with my sour cream potato salad. And I mix in bits of basil in my last cucumber and tomato salads...those last few good tomatoes I can get my hands on that is.

How are you planning to use the of your summer herbs? Are you making pesto and putting it in the freezer for later? Or are you topping your best bruschetta with the final bits of parsley you find outside? Let me know below.

Monday, July 4, 2011

green acres

What your are looking at are the first literal fruits of our labors. Well, actually the carnivore's labors. Being very pregnant this summer, I am not doing a lot of outdoor work in the oppressive Memphis heat. But, my loving hubby made me a garden this spring! And we are starting to see the results. We started small with a few berries in a pot. Both strawberries and blueberries.  I am happy to report we got a few red ones for the baby to munch on at lunch.

The blueberry bush has been less successful. One lone berry...but we haven't given up hope yet of a late bumper crop. In the meantime, we are lucky that are weekly CSA is keeping us stocked in our little guy's favorite fruit.

We also had another tragedy to report. This beautiful beefsteak tomato bloomed...and was promptly eaten during the night by some critter, despite the carnivore's elaborate efforts to keep them out. Sigh.

But not to worry, we have other things growing. This pic was taken very early on. The garden is really growing now. We have several types of bell peppers, cucumbers, zucchini and melons going crazy.

For example, these squash blossoms are blooming on two different plants. We are anxiously awaiting the actual veggies to pop. I have lots of ideas for these yellow fellas!

Oh, and don't feel too bad about that tomato plant I mentioned earlier. I have personally enjoyed a plump roma tomato and a small yellow one from two other plants in my salads at lunch. Nothing like a tomato fresh from the vine directly to the plate to make you really feel like it is summer!

And of course, there is always our herbs. We have expanded to two large pots this year. You can see why. We have mint, oregano, dill, parsley, chives, thyme, basil, rosemary and cilantro. I love being able to go out and grab a handful of fresh herbs for any dish.

We have learned lots already this year and will hopefully have an even bigger crop of home grown goodies next year. But in the meantime, we will enjoy every thing that comes of the vines. So, look for future posts where I will share with you the recipes from our own little garden of goodies!

Have you started your own urban farm? What are you growing? And what are you cooking with the fruits of your labors? I'd love to hear more ideas. Just leave a comment below.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

you joined a CSA... so now what?

For those of you who don't know, the carnivore and I joined a CSA this year. We are just a few weeks in, but already loving it. (Maybe me more than him - but I am the veggie lover and cook in our house, so that's to be expected.) If you are unfamiliar with the term CSA, it means community supported agriculture or community shared agriculture. In essence, a local farm has several people sign up for a goodie bag each week. You pay a set price for a number of weeks (ours lasts 26) and you go pick up your share at a set date and time. Ours comes from a great place called Whitton Farms. You can read more about them here.

The best thing about CSA's is the surprise. For me its kinda like Christmas morning. I count down the hours until I can go pick up my bag each week. As you can see from the picture we have already been blessed with all kinds of amazing fresh produce. Everything from strawberries and swiss chard to sweet potatoes and spinach. We have also received some organic staples, like brown rice and local honey. We have even brought home fresh herbal breads and pizza dough.

But, if you do join a CSA, you have to be flexible. You may have to adjust your weekly menu to work around the groceries you get. For me this challenge is part of the fun. So let's take my recent grab bag as an example. Since I got strawberries and honey I could make my goat cheese pumpernickle toast, since the recipe calls for me to top it with both the sweet berries and the sticky honey. I could saute some of the onions and put them on top of my blue cheese portabellas. I can boil some of the broccoli and tossed it in a primavera pasta, which I can serve with the rosemary bread. I can make a wonderful strawberry and spinach salad for lunch too. The snap peas can be a great accompaniment to a simple stirfry. The fresh pizza dough can make a great base for any number of gourmet pizzas or even a quick calzone, also a great use for some of the spinach.

I know as the seasons change from spring to summer and then to fall, my bag of farm fresh goodies will continue to throw me curve balls. But I am looking forward to the bounty that is to come - from heirloom tomatoes to huckleberries, and there are even promises of fresh eggs!

So, if you do join a CSA (and I really suggest you do - it supports small farmers, it is good for your family to get fresh local produce, and it is good for the environment too) remember, even if you get items that are unfamiliar a quick web search can not only help you identify them, it can also lead you to some great recipes. I promise to post my ideas, like adding diced radishes to a corn and black bean salad, as they happen. And if that fails, well, you can always have you taste tester try the wares straight from the bag. Mmmm strawberries!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

a bushel and a peck

The carnivore and I are trying hard to eat more locally grown products. To do this we not only planting herbs and tomatoes in our own yard, we are also hitting up the local farmers' markets. Occasionally, however, we are lucky enough to go straight to the source. Early this summer we had a chance to pick our own strawberries. It was a fun experience that helped us get more connected with our food. Not to mention we came away with the sweetest berries you can imagine. So, when we saw a notice in the local paper that we could pick our own peaches at a local orchard (Jones Orchard in Millington, TN) we hopped at the chance.The orchard was just a short drive outside of the city. And while we had no idea where we were going it was pretty easy to spot once we found this sign -With directions from a helpful young man we headed a bit further down the dirt road and ended up in the orchard. Well, the first part of the orchard. This part had white peaches.
A bit further down the road we also found red and yellow peaches. The trees were heavy with fruit. Picking was pretty easy (just a bit hot - but that is Memphis this time of year).
So, we got our bushel bucket and picked a few of each variety. We by no means filled it up, but we got plenty for the two of us (and they only cost a bit more than four bucks).
It was great to have the carnivore around to reach the little gems that were hiding up high.I was able to pick a few of the low lying beauties myself even if I am vertically challenged. (FYI - if two short people do go, they have a handy gettin' stick to help you shake the fruit from the trees).On our way out, we stopped by the farm's roadside stand where, of course they had pre-picked peaches, but they had so many other offerings.All in all it was a wonderful way to spend an afternoon. We came home with lots of local goodies. And, the peaches were amazing. I loved getting to try the different varieties. I used many in fresh juice drinks and we grilled a few, but they would have been divine in a pie or a cake, if we hadn't just had both recently...not that the carnivore would have minded!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

strawberry fields forever

I must tell you I adore my carnivore. He is always finding things for us to do that he knows I will enjoy. The other day, he found a place where we could pick our own strawberries!
Undaunted by the fact that I had just purchased a whole quart of strawberries at the grocery store, I immediately agreed that we should head out and pick some of our own. What I was going to do with them once they were in my house I was unsure. But a person can never have too many strawberries, right?So we drove to a little roadside farm, and got our own bucket and commenced to pick some strawberries with all the other people who had decided to take advantage of this opportunity. And did I mention it was a deal? They were only $1.89 a pound!
The rows weren't exactly over flowing with huge berries, but little red bursts popped from the green leaves and were easy enough to spot. We filled up our little bucket pretty fast which was good because the dog who was waiting in the car was ready for her walk (please note she had access to fresh air and water and it was not hot outside - i.e. no dogs were harmed during this strawberry picking).
When we got home I rinsed our fresh berries and started dreaming of what to do with this unexpected influx of extra strawberries...jam, cupcakes, or strawberry waffles for breakfast...yeah that's it!
And, even though the strawberries we picked were tiny compared to their store purchased siblings, they had ten times the taste! So, if you carnivore ever offers to take you strawberry picking, I highly recommend trying it and then rewarding him with a strawberry treat.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

this little piggy went to market

Downtown Memphis has a wonderful tiny farmer's market. Recently my mom asked if I would go with her, and I jumped at the chance. We packed the car with reusable bags and headed off to see what goodies were available (after breakfast, of course). I am always up for finding new fresh ingredients to put on the table for me and the carnivore. Our first stop, and mom's first purchase was strawberries!
Since it is a very little market, the selection changes from week to week. Their website always gives a heads up for what a shopper can expect though. There a a few things that you can always count on being there. They always have organic meats. Most importantly, they always have the freshest fruits and veggies. Some I know the names of and some I don't. Some I cook with regularly and some would be a challenge for me to figure out what to do with.There are also fresh flowers and plants available. The blooms were in beautiful colors. They had everything from lovely lavender flowers to luscious green succulents in bowls and every color of pink blooms imaginable. These would pretty up any table.
They also have heavenly herbs. Had I not already planted my herb garden I would have snagged some of these myself. There were so many kinds of basil available. Who knew?
There are also some handmade thing available. My mom picked up three bars of goat's milk soap and I purchased a jar of muscadine jam (a flavor I haven't had since my great-grandmother made it when I was a little girl).All in all it was a good girls day. We got to spend some QT together and got some goodies to take home. The carnivore got to sleep in and then enjoy the fruits of my shopping. It was a win-win.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

organic kitchen staples

For my final installment for Earth Week I thought I would share with you some organic items I always have in my kitchen. Organic foods are better for the environment and healthier for our bodies. Me and the carnivore buy organic for the health benefits, including higher nutrient levels and lower pesticide residue, but they also help the planet. Organic agriculture enhances soil structures, conserves water, mitigates climate change, and ensures sustained biodiversity. Here are some organic staples we keep and use in many of our recipes:Eggs - I use Eggland's Best organic cage free vegetarian fed hen brown eggs. That's a mouthful! While the carnivore may complain occasionally about how much more expensive these eggs are, he never complains about the taste. And I feel better knowing that I am putting a healthier egg on his plate. (Did I mention the carton is recyclable too?)

Butter - I have tried a few different brands, but I keep coming back to Whole Foods' 365 unsalted sticks. They are creamy and sweet. They are also reasonably priced. And since I am southern, I use a lot of butter during the week. This is a great organic staple to have on hand.

Milk - I like Horizon's 2% milk. It is produced without antibiotics, growth hormones and pesticides. Plus, the cows eat only organic feed and have access to clean water, fresh air, an organic pasture and exercise according to their website. Neither me nor the carnivore are big milk drinkers, but when a recipe calls for it, this is the brand we turn to. The carnivore also uses their creamer in his coffee.

Cheese - I am a fan of Organic Valley's cheese, especially the shredded variety. Although, I am now seeing a generic brand at my local Kroger. In either case, I like having cheddar cheese, without all those additives that make it fluorescent orange, ready to put in my scrambled eggs or in enchiladas.

Canned Beans - This a is a quick way for me to get protein so I keep a couple of cans in my pantry at all times. I like Healthy Valley's version, but my local grocery store (Kroger) has a great generic organic brand too. It is hard to mess up canned beans, so pretty much anything you find should be fine.

Sugar - Domino makes an organic sugar that you can find next to the normal kind. It is a bit more expensive, but there are usually coupons in the Sunday paper to help offset this. I use it in all my baking.

Fruits and Veggies - It goes without saying that I buy and use organic fresh fruits and vegetables. But, I have also been known to buy frozen organic ones. Frozen berries are great in lots of recipes and they now come in organic varieties. I also buy this huge bag of frozen green beans at Costco. It contains smaller bags that can be tossed in the wok and ready in minutes.

Meat - After reading about all the scary things they put in meat I always purchase the carnivore organic meats, whether it it be chicken or beef. There is just no way I am putting all those hormones in my hubby.

So, what is your favorite organic staple? What brands do you like best? I would love to know what products you all like to use to keep your family healthy and help the planet at the same time!

drink to your planet

Every now and then the carnivore and I like an adult beverage with our dinner. We are both a fan of a good red wine on occasion. So, on Earth Day this year I thought I would get us a bottle of organic merlot.

But, what makes a wine organic? At its most basic level, organic wine is made from grapes that have been grown without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides and herbicides. With grapes topping the list of the most chemically sprayed categories of produce on the market today, it is no wonder that many are seeking an organic alternative to their conventional wines.

And if you are wondering where to find a good wine, I suggest either asking at your local store for a recommendation or checking out . I should have done both of these before I went out. The website has a whole set of reviews for organic wines under $25 so you don't have to break the budget either. My local wine store (Buster's) has quite a selection and the have all of their organic wines marked on the shelves with a big green "O" so they are easy to spot, bust I still got confused somehow.

I ended up buying a Barefoot Merlot for under $10. Good news, right? However, when I got it home I couldn't find anything on it that talked about being organic. Bummed, I did a little more research and learned from the the Barefoot website that they organize local volunteers across the country to clean up area beaches and help keep them "Barefoot friendly." So that is good news for the planet! But, I will be better about checking for the organic label before I check out next time...

Anyway, enjoy a glass (or two) of organic wine - or a wine from a company that helps the environment. Oh, and remember to recycle that bottle when you are done! Cheers!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

great green gadgets

As you all know I love kitchen gadgets and goodies, and if they are green it is even better in my book. So, for this Earth Week series I thought I would share some of my favorites.

Glass water bottles - The carnivore used to complain about how much money we spent on bottled water. And I knew deep down that even if I recycled those bottles it couldn't be good for the environment to ship that heavy water, but I still wanted a bottle. I couldn't help it. One day I came across these guys in a Crate and Barrel catalog (or you can get some here). I dog-eared the pages and left the catalog where the carnivore could see. Catching the less than subtle hint, he got me a couple for my birthday this past year. I can officially say we are now a plastic bottle free house. We are saving money and the planet, but I still can reach in the fridge and get a cold bottle of water whenever I want.

Green pans - I read about these in a book my mother got me for Christmas that taught me some very scary things about the non-stick pans I had registered and received for my wedding. That black stuff that was coming off contained chemicals that were bad for me and the environment. Again, the carnivore got me this green gadget (from Target, but also available at Crate and Barrel and here) as a present and I love it! It is super non-stick, requiring less oil and less cleaning, and it is very lightweight. Plus, it heats the food evenly. I just can't say enough good things about it. I am now hoping for a full set...hint, hint!

Bamboo utensils and cutting boards - As you may have heard, bamboo is a sustainable and renewable resource. Moreover, bamboo has been reported to have antibacterial properties that keep it from absorbing and retaining odors. Who doesn't need that in the kitchen? My mother-in-law got me a set of bamboo utensils and a cutting board for Christmas. I am now using them all the time.

Kitchen Towels - I haven't gotten rid of my paper towels by any stretch of the imagination. But, with the purchase of a few cute kitchen towels from my local William-Sonoma Outlet I have cut down my use. They are great for wiping up all of the inevitable messes I make in the kitchen, as well as for drying my hands when I wash up.

Reusable bags - For all those shopping trips to the local farmer's market and the grocery store, I now use recycled bags. I have a few from Whole Foods, one for freezer goods, even a freebie the humane society sent me. My favorite one though is the FEED 100 bag my parents got me this past year. It has great little pouches and folds up really small. Most importantly, the proceeds from this bag helped feed 100 school children lunch in Rwanda through the UN's World Food Program. But, all reusable bags help take plastic off our planet. Plus, the come in cute colors and designs these days!

So go get yourself some green goodies of your own! And if you are wondering, all of these products can be purchased through my amazon store and in the places mentioned above.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

vegetarian for a day = helping the earth

Being vegetarian is a choice. One that I made over a decade ago. However, I do not try to convert people to my beliefs. I mean, I married a carnivore. Just as he has never tried to make me eat meat, I would never dream of forcing vegetarianism on him. However, I came across an interesting article the other day about how much we could all help the Earth if we all went vegetarian just for one day. Check out the link here -

As you can see the from the article (and the debate in the comments at the end) having a vegetarian day can help conserve water, reduce the use of fossil fuels, and cut greenhouse emissions.

So, while it may not be a lifestyle choice, if you can work in a vegetarian day - or even a meal - every now and then you too can help the planet. You can at least give it a try for Earth Week. And, it doesn't have to be hard.

Start your day with a slice of banana bread and a few pieces of fruit or maybe a fried egg and an english muffin. Have a hunk of artisan bread with pesto tortellini or vegetable soup for lunch. Then enjoy cheese enchiladas or a veggie pizza for dinner. Even my carnivore can get on board with that (well, maybe he would get a cheese pizza, but you get the point)!
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