Thursday, December 20, 2007

Bigger brains through cooking

I read an interesting article today on Scientific American where Richard Wrangham theorizes that our brains evolved to become bigger because of our need to cook our food and our ability to use fire to do so. I know a lot of raw food advocates are probably upset about this article, but I thought it was an interesting insight into how humans evolved. Cooking food enabled easier digestion and liberated more calories. Our guts got smaller and our brains got bigger.


Friday, December 14, 2007

A local family eats off the grid

On the DC Urban Gardener website, there was an interesting article of a family that is eating almost completely off the grid. They grow most of their food in their back yard and at a nearby community garden. The family lives entirely off the garden from June through October. Proof it can be done folks!


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Orzo with Pine Nuts, Olives and Artichokes

This is a simple weeknight meal that will leave you with some leftovers for lunch the next day. It makes about 4 meal-size servings.

3 cups orzo (cook according to package instructions)
6 tablespoons pine nuts
2 14oz cans of artichoke hearts
1/2 cup olive oil
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup roughly chopped fresh italian parsley (flat-leaf)
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1/2 cup roughly chopped olives (mix of picholine, kalamata, etc)
grated raw milk manchego (optional)

Cook orzo according to instructions on box. Drain well.

Toast pine nuts in dry skillet. Remove to cool and coarsley chop.

Drain artichoke hearts and rinse. Cut each heart into quarters.

Whisk together oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.

Add orzo, pine nuts, olives and artichokes into large bowl. Add parsley and lemon zest. Pour dressing on top and toss.

Put in serving bowls and grate fresh manchego on top.

(Adapted from Gourmet, May 2006)


Thinking of giving the gift of charity this year? Menu for Hope is having an online raffle with different culinary prizes. The big prizes this year are tours at the elBulli laboratory with Ferran AndriA, dining Brit-style on a meal prepared by Heston Blumenthal or having a lunch date with Harold McGee. Chez Pim is organizing this extraordinary event. The best part is that funds support the UN World Food Programme. WFP is the largest food aid agency, working with over 1,000 other organizations in over 75 countries. In addition to providing food, the World Food Programme helps the hungry become self-sufficient so that they can permanently escape hunger. The programs focus on buying food locally to support local farmers and the local economy.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Lease a Goat!

If you love goat cheese as much as I do, you will be ecstatic about the prospect of leasing your own goat. You can get at 2008 Dairy Goat Lease for $49.95, or for an extra $5.00 you get an 'action photo'. Who the hell knows what that is, but I like it! Four weeks after you lease your goat, cheese will be delivered to your door. You will get progress reports from the farm. Rent Mother Nature is the company committed to leasing animals, trees and fields. They have created a unique path to supporting natural, organic agriculture on small family farms. If you don't have time to create a cookbook for someone (see previous post) then this is a great gift for the holidays!


Monday, December 10, 2007

Taste Book

I found a website where you can create your own cookbook. You can import recipes from if you have an account there or type in your own recipes. I have to say, this is a perfect holiday gift. Great website, great idea, great gift. You can pick your own cover, put pictures in with recipes and name your cookbook.


Thursday, November 29, 2007

Rosemary White Bean Soup with Swiss Chard from the Garden

Hopefully you have a few of these ingredients from your garden or local farmer's market (garlic, onions, swiss chard, rosemary). I grew Swiss Chard for the first time this year and it is delicious and beautiful. I bought a Canary Yellow Chard heirloom variety that is tasty from Rare Seeds.

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 15oz cans of white beans (cannellini) drained
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion
2 garlic cloves minced
2 rosemary sprigs (3 inches each)
4 cups low sodium, free range chicken broth
3 medium leaves of chard stemmed, chopped and steamed
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a stock pot. Add the minced garlic, yellow onion and rosemary sprigs. Cook until the onion is translucent (about 10 minutes). Add the broth and the white beans and bring to a simmer. Cover partially and let simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the soup from the heat and take out the rosemary branches. Let cool for 15 minutes. Use a food processor or blender to puree the soup in batches. If using a blender, take out the circular part of the lid and cover with a dish towel since warm liquids expand so much in the blender. Return the soup to the pot and add the Swiss Chard to reheat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with basil-infused olive oil if you have some.

This soup was topped off with Real Simple's Sage and Parmesan Croutons


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

What to Do with Leftover Stuffing

3 medium green peppers sliced in half; ribs, stems and seeds removed
leftover stuffing from Thanksgiving
arrabiata pasta sauce
sliced mozzarella cheese

preheat oven to 425 degrees
coat glass baking pan with cooking spray
cut peppers in half and put in glass baking pan
stuff peppers with stuffing and spoon a generous amount of sauce over them
add slices of mozzarella cheese over each pepper
bake until peppers are slightly soft and cheese is bubbling (approximately 30 minutes)
serve with crusty warm bread and enjoy!


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Disparities in Access to Health Food Options in DC

Today, the Kaiser Family Foundation highlighted that disparities in access to healthy food options are contributing to the obesity epidemic in the city.

Kaiser Health Disparities Report: A Weekly Look At Race, Ethnicity And Health

Opinion | Lack of Healthy Food Options in Washington, D.C., Neighborhoods Cause of Obesity Disparity, Opinion Piece Says
[Nov 20, 2007]

"The lack of healthy [food] alternatives, coupled with the disproportionate variety of fried and fatty foods in the area, certainly contributes to the obesity rate" of residents in predominately black neighborhoods in Washington, D.C., Malcolm Woodland, a researcher and NIH LRP health disparities fellow, writes in a Washington Post opinion piece (Woodland, Washington Post, 11/18).

Earlier this month, Vanderbilt University researchers presented a study finding that the obesity gap between blacks and whites in Washington, D.C., is the widest of 164 jurisdictions nationwide. The data, from 2001 through 2005, included information on more than 367,000 people. Researchers found that in Washington, D.C., the obesity rate for blacks was 31%, compared with 8% for whites. Researcher David Schlundt said education, income, culture and the urban environment might be factors behind the gap (Kaiser Health Disparities Report, 11/6).

Woodland writes that in some black neighborhoods in the district, "healthy food options are rare," yet research conducted at the Mount Sinai Medical Center "revealed that when blacks have healthy neighborhood food choices, their fruit and vegetable consumption increases more than that of any other racial group." That same research "concluded that for every full-service supermarket in a predominantly black neighborhood, fruit and vegetable consumption among blacks in the surrounding area increased by 32%," Woodland adds.

"For varying reasons, such as wealth disparities and access to personal transportation, other researchers have also pointed out that the local food environment tends to influence the food choices of blacks and other people of color more than whites," Woodland writes. He concludes, "Until the unequal access to not only healthful food but also health insurance, medical practitioners and health facilities is truly addressed, the fat gap will continue to grow" (Washington Post, 11/18).


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

>Welcome to my adventure in eating locally in Washington, DC. When I started this process, I found tons of resources, but it's difficult to keep everything organized. I hope to create a clearinghouse of resources including local farm listings, restaurants and other organizations that are dedicated to sustainable agriculture. I also intend to include seasonal recipes and rants and raves about my garden.