Wednesday, September 24, 2008

ka BOOM!

Guess what??

I have a new blog at my very own shiny place!!

So it's finally up now (after lots of delays... okay... procrastination and chaos...) at:

A few posts are up and I'm pretty excited about my new little, baby blog! 

See you there.... 


Monday, June 23, 2008

Pretty Lame...

I'm pretty lame in that I haven't posted in, oh, 3 months or so. Normal excuses apply but let's just say that with summer starting and some big spring projects ending, prepare to hear a bit more about the sustainable agriculture revolution (effin' sweet!) and all things local food in LA.

I'll also be subjecting you to all things composting, biking, what's happening in downtown LA, corporate social responsibility, green living, international trade, poverty, the produce business, the progress of my plants, gardening, painting, transporation in LA, electronica, Oaxaca, travel, Africa, public health, carbon emissions, swimming, sea otters, baby chickens, farm tours, hippies, restaurants, cooking... pretty much all the things I like to yap and yap and yap about.

Click your heels... let's go!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Asparagus Risotto De-mystified

With the onset of Spring in California farmers' markets you're likely to find asparagus around every corner. Don't confuse these green stalks with the over-cooked, limp vegetbale served from the microwave directly to your plate as a kid- sweet and juicy, California asparagus is a vegetable that tastes great when given a little bit of forethought and attention.

In the spirit of the impending Spring, Michael Kuntz, someone who works on our Market Basket Program at the Santa Monica Market, shared the following Asparagus Mushroom Risotto. Risotto is often one of those dishes that is thought to be complicated and time consuming - with a few good quality ingredients and some tips, Michael sheds some light on an Italian tradition.

Michael Kuntz Asparagus Shiitake Risotto:

Feel free to use this recipe as a template for experimentation. You can substitute the vegetables herein for any that suit your fancy. This dish can easily be made vegan by replacing the butter with more oil and excluding the cheese. You do not have to forsake the risotto’s creaminess to accommodate veganism. The rice grains themselves produce the “all’onda” texture, which literally translates to “to the wave.”


3 Tbs butter

1/4 C olive oil

1 Large bunch asparagus ( About a pound) Cut into ½ inch rounds

1/4 lb Shiitake Mushrooms Remove stems from caps and cut into 1/4 inch pieces

1 Small onion Chop to medium dice

Salt & Pepper to taste

1 ½ C Arborio rice

½ C Dry white wine

5 C Vegetable or chicken stock. (I like Organic Gourmet Bouillon)

½ C Parmesan cheese Finely grated

Juice and shaved rind of one small lemon


While prepping your ingredients, bring the stock to a simmer. You will want to keep the stock at a low simmer throughout the cooking process.

Make sure you have all your ingredients prepped and close at hand before you begin cooking. In a heavy bottomed, 4 quart sauce pan, heat the olive oil and 2 Tbs butter. Saute the asparagus and mushrooms over a medium heat for four minutes or until they begin to soften. Remove 3/4 of them and set aside for later use.

Add the onion, salt and pepper and saute until translucent. Add the rice and saute for three minutes, stirring continuously to avoid sticking. When the rice has absorbed the moisture of the onion, add the wine.

This is the point of no return. From here on you will have to stir the risotto more or less non-stop. Stir the rice until it has absorbed all the wine. Then add a ladle of simmering stock. Stir continuously until it is absorbed. When you pass the spoon along the bottom of the pan and there is an empty space that remains, add the next ladle of stock.

Continue this process, tasting occasionally, until the rice obtains the consistency of al dente pasta. Should you run out of stock add warm water. When the rice is done add the remaining butter, vegetables, lemon and cheese. Make sure that the risotto flows freely by adding a final ladle of stock that does not get fully absorbed. Stir well and serve immediately. Makes 4 generous portions.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Ahoy! Oysters!

Wow. Laura Avery, Market Supervisor of the Santa Monica Farmers' Markets, I salute thee. The Santa Monica Market has kicked it up a notch. While poking around the market today browsing about for interesting things for a few clients, I passed by a strange vendor. My first thought, you must be new, came just before I noticed his three metal bins on his table. And what IS that you have there?

Clams! Mussels! Oysters! Abalone! Oh my!

The vendor was busy getting interviewed for KCRW's' Good Food which will air this Saturday at 11am, but that didn't stop me from gasping and practically hugging the nearest onlooker. We're talking sustainably harvested, eco-friendly 100% California genuine farm-raised shellfish from Carlsbad at OUR local market. Amazing!

And with all the depressing news about how aqua-farming is hurting our oceans and coastline ecosystems, sustainably minded aqua farms are they way to safely enjoy these delectable goodies.

I picked up a dozen Luna Oysters which were harvested just a day ago
for a mere $8.
Carlsbad Aquafarm will be at the Santa Monica Wednesday market each week. Run oyster lovers, run!

Monday, February 18, 2008

A Grand Crevace

Just spent 4 days walking and hiking around the Grand Canyon.

Yep. I know. It's quite a crevice. 

It's truly remarkable. Stunning. Moving. Knock-your-socks-off-feel-like-a-hundred-bucks amazing! (see gallery on the left)

Next stop, Zion National Park! Glacier National Park! Hell, the La Brea tar-pits right by my house! Sadly, I'm told that attendance at National Parks is on the decrease.

Wwhaatt? Yep. It's true.

Interestingly enough, visits by foreign tourists to our own national treasures are on the rise (thanks to the record low of our fantastic dollar- or perhaps because seeing natural wonders are more highly regarded in other cultures? Namely Japan and China).  Why is that?

Which got me thinking, what does that mean for us when we don't visit our own national parks? What else are we spending our time doing?  What's the value and importance of national parks and natural spaces? I was struck by how easy it was to forget how beautiful our own country I've been more inclined to reach for a trip abroad than in my own backyard.  So much more glamour and "cultural experience" in traveling abroad, I had thought.  

What a silly little girl I am.

To overlook the trunk-load of incredible natural wonders in our own backyard is truly a tragedy not only to the individual, but to our nation.  What a lost opportunity for understanding more about our planet and our place in it. Everyone needs to see these incredible landscapes, see deer walking by and watch the sun play along
the canyon walls - if we don't fall in love with it enough to preserve and protect it... who will?If we don't enrich our lives by seeing the vastness of the American landscape, how will that change the America we give over to the next generation? What will be lost? Are we bringing up a generation who will value nature and understand their place within it? What's at stake?

So what started out a silly blog turned serious. 

Know the Canyon's History, See Rocks Made By Time. -Grand Canyon Motto

Booyah! A canyon billions of years in the making... what tiny little blip-of-a-life we all have.  Humbling? Empowering? Inspiring? Daunting? Go and decide. 

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Potato, Potato

Year of the Potato: Bringing spuds back


The potato is back on top! This year, the spuds take over the limelight as 2008 marks the Year of the Potato. And no, this isn't a gimmicky ploy by the French fry industry or the chip lobby. The potato reaches for a higher cause this year and brings us back to what all foods are supposed to do: Give us nutrients.

The potato is being hailed for its ability to play a huge role in the fight against global poverty and economic development for rural communities. The Year of the Potato also brings attention to the rapid loss of potato farmland in North America. In 1900, more than 300,000 potato farms speckled America, growing all kinds of potato varieties that each have their own flavor, color, and texture profile. Now, only 12,000 potato farms remain in the U.S. In fact, Europe and America have been surpassed in potato production and consumption by Asia.

Like its counterpart rice, which had its own year back in 2004, the potato is an excellent source of complex carbohydrates, protein, and vitamin C. Easily grown and harvested, increased attention and focus on potato farming globally means economic development for poor farmers and preservation of our small potato farmers here.

So go on, give the spud a second chance. The Potato Famine of the 1800's is wayyy behind us now and we gotta give some love back to the potato! To get you started, look for these potato farmers at the Santa Monica Wednesday Market: Jerry Rutiz Family Farms, Weiser Family Farms, Pritchett Farms, Xiong Pau (japanese yams, sweet potatoes), and Windrose Farms.

And try this spud-inspired recipe with your local, farm-fresh produce!
Year of the Potato-Leek Soup

  • 2-3 leeks
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • Approx. 2-3 potatoes (russet, yukon golds, butterballs)
  • 2-3 cups of chicken/veg stock
  • 1/2 tsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pinch of pepper

Place a deep pot over medium heat and melt butter. Add leeks (dice up the white/light green part only!) and chopped onion and sweat until both are very tender and translucent. Add 2 cups stock, diced potatoes, and salt. Raise heat to medium high and boil. When you see large bubbles reduce heat to simmer and recover to cook for 15 more minutes, until potatoes are tender when pierced. Let soup cool and puree in blender or food processor. Work in batches so as not to overfill and return pureed soup to pot. Adjust consistency by using remaining stock if needed. Reheat gently, stirring until visibly steaming. Ladle into bows and enjoy!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Accidental Muesli

February is a good month for cooking adventures. From squashes to apples, potatoes to cabbage, winter-time is keepin' us busier than ever at the market and the produce is begging for experimentations of all kinds. I gotta say, my favorite so far is this incredible squash bake that I think I ate almost two entire batches of. De. Lic. Ious. Stop reading, and go buy a butternut squash and do this immediately.

Not that there haven't been some major set-backs (my giant "roast of root vegetables" did not go so hot and I'm too prideful to ask around at the market where I went wrong... how hard can a root roast melody be? They'll all laugh and point at me!).

And some things magically come out well despite the fact that you brazenly look at the recipe and think, "I don't have ingredient A, D, and F, and I'm gonna wing it!" Enter my Accidental Muesli.

In an attempt to make this incredible sounding power bar with only the things we could find offhand in my mom's kitchen, we ended up not with powerbars, but a crunchy sweet muesli. Which will come in handy when my bro and I take off for Arizona and la canyon grand cette week-end. I've been munching on it all week with yogurt and mixed it into my oatmeal... horray for experiments that go wrong in all the right ways!!

Accidental Muesli

Around 1 cup dried coconut
1 1/2 cup rolled oats
1 cup bran flakes cereal
1 cup pecans
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup maple syrup
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup raisins

Per Heidi's instructions on her site, we toasted the nuts and coconut on a cookie rack at 350F. Just until the coconut was nice and brown which was under 10 minutes with my mom's spiffy oven. Placing all the nuts and coconut in a mixing bowl and adding in the rolled oats, we moved over to the stove and poured the maple syrup, sugar, salt, and vanilla in a deep pot and brought it to a boil while stirring constantly.

At this point we are munching on the toasted coconut and nuts. Again I repeat, toasted coconut is food of the gods. De. Lic. Ious.

After bringing the maple syrup to a rolling boil, we poured the sauce over the nuts and stirred to incorporate fully. I then attempted to press the mixture into a pyrex dish to set into bars but foud that my mixture was much too flaky and sticky...

So flaky.

So sweet.

So nutty.

So totally wonderfully granola-y that you'll be picking and pouring into yogurt, stashing in your car for a rush-hour snack, or putting over pancakes.