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Tag Archives: recipe
Allow me to account for my extended absence. First, I was busy. Second, I spent two weeks in the tropics away from cares, and especially away from wifi and 3G. Which is the point, really.
To atone for this lapse in blogging, may I present you the best rum punch ever. I mean, I haven’t tried them all, I admit. But I did try some very crappy “rum punch” in the British Virgin Islands during my first week of sailing. It consisted of rum mixed with processed fruit punch drink from the U.S. I was unimpressed. (Hint: When in Virgin Islands, get a Bushwacker. Addictive creamy, frozen, coconut amazingness.)
The second leg of my trip was in Barbados, a vibrant island full of culture, history, good food, small-batch sugarcane rum, wildlife, botanical gardens, and miles of white beaches and turquoise waters.
I stayed with my family at a villa (which sounds so pretentious, doesn’t it? But that’s what houses on the beach are called: villas). When we arrived and were being shown around, one of the cooks came upstairs with a tray of rum punch. I took one sip and was hooked. It was sweet, but complex instead of cloying. Topped with freshly grated nutmeg locally right from the island, it set the tone for the trip.
So let me share the recipe for this amazing drink with you. It’s a bit cold for it right now if you’re in NYC. But I think it would make an amazing addition to your summer!
Sheliah’s Incredible Bajan Rum Punch
Note: Bajan is what you use to describe things from Barbados.
3 cups Mount Gay rum
1 cup lime juice
2 cups simple syrup (You can buy this or make it buy boiling water and sugar on the stove.)
3 cups water, including ice
Several dashes of angostura bitters
1/2 cup of grenadine syrup
1 box of Cockspur fruit punch (You can’t find this here in the States, so I would go with a high quality fruit punch made with real fruit juice and not much added sugar, if any.)
Mix syrup and lime juice together, then add all other ingredients. Serve over chipped ice in cocktail glasses. Sprinkle freshly shaved nutmeg on top.
I love myself some rummage-and-cook food. I have a bunch of great cookbooks, but I never use them, because I’m in and endless loop of trying to use up the ingredients from a former recipe, and then trying to use up the ingredients from that recipe.
This time, I took it a little far. You see, I had a 30 rack of Coors Light in my fridge left over from a party. I hardly ever drink beer, and my roommate hates the stuff. I happened to be looking for a good recipe to use up some leftover items, and found a risotto recipe. Risotto is a great rummage-and-cook item. You can put anything in there and it will taste awesome, especially if you top it with truffle oil.
The recipe called for chicken stock, which I never keep on hand and which also goes bad after a week. Having read that you can cook rice in beer, I thought, “Hmm, does Coors Light count as beer?”
Thus was born Rich Frat Boy Risotto. The name comes from it being cooked in watery beer and topped with truffle oil. I’ve adapted this recipe to suit my taste, substituting cheaper veggie Italian-style sausage for regular sausage.
As a bonus, you can find almost all of these ingredients–save for the olive oil, Coors, arborio rice and truffle oil–at your local farmers market.
Surprisingly, it’s delicious, creamy and … rich. I hope you enjoy!
Note: Any beer will do. If you would rather make Trust-Fund Hipster Risotto, PBR or Brooklyn Lager will work too!
Rich Frat Boy Risotto
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound veggie Italian-style sweet sausage, crumbled into 1/2-inch pieces
8 ounces portobello mushrooms, stemmed, dark gills scraped out, caps diced
10 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, diced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
1 1/2 cups Madeira (or another red wine you have on hand)
6 cups Coors Light or any other leftover beer you have on hand
1/2 stick butter (4 tablespoons)
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups arborio rice or other medium-grain rice (about 13 ounces)
1 cup freshly grated Asiago cheese
Black truffle oil
Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage and sauté until beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Add all mushrooms, thyme, and oregano and sauté until mushrooms are tender, about 10 minutes. Add 1/2 cup Madeira; boil until almost absorbed, about 1 minute. Set aside.
Bring beer to simmer in large saucepan; remove from heat and cover to keep hot. Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add rice; stir 2 minutes. Add remaining 1 cup Madeira; simmer until absorbed, about 2 minutes. Add 1 cup hot beer; simmer until almost absorbed, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Continue to cook until rice is just tender and mixture is creamy, adding more beer by cupfuls, stirring often and allowing most beer to be absorbed before adding more, about 25 minutes. Stir in sausage mixture. Top with grated cheese and a drizzle of truffle oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Certain things make green life worth living. Here’s what I’m loving this week and want to share with every single person in my life:
About maybe a year and a half ago, suddenly, there was argan oil.
It started showing up in product roundups of celeb favorites, and now it’s in all these random products from various mainstream companies–it’s like the acai of beauty products, except without the weird pyramid scheme.
You have proof that it works the first time you smooth it over your hair. It’s got an appealing, musky scent, and leaves your hair kick-ass shiny while fortifying it. Plus, if you get it from the right place, it’s organic and benefits female workers in Morocco. Do. not. get. knock-offs.
If you’re like me (or thousands of other New Yorkers), you enjoy a good mixed cocktail from the likes of Apotheke, Death & Company or PDT. Well, when I picked up A Perfume Organic to test at ABC Home, the rich, spicy scents actually reminded me of a hand-crafted cocktail from one of these establishments. I’m not saying I want to smell like alcohol … I’m just saying this USDA organic and vegan perfume smells delicious. If you’re not sure which scent to get, do like I did and buy a sampler first.
Tired of eating your quinoa salad style? Make it a little naughty by frying it up into crunchy quinoa patties. Damn, are these things good. And every time I reheat them for lunch, somebody (a coworker, a dog) follows be back to my desk to ask me what I’m eating because that smells so good. (Well, the dog just stared at me while I ate it. That would never happen with a quinoa salad.) I suggest being generous with the olive oil in the pan–the patties hold together better that way.
Find the recipe by Heidi Swanson at Epicurious
Don’t Go, by Justin Martin
This weekend I was supposed to meet up with friends on Saturday night. But because I got ready so slow and couldn’t find a cab (don’t hate me, there is no good way to get from 24th Street to Meatpacking) they were already inside Le Bain.
I really didn’t want to stand in line by myself. So I marched right up to the bouncers on the non-line side. They were in the middle of telling a pair of girls that they couldn’t get in if they weren’t on the list. “Hi, my party is already inside,” I said, and name-dropped a meaningless name. The bouncers exchanged a glance, took a look at my vintage 90s peekaboo dress and ushered me inside. “Sorry ladies,” one of them told the girls. “She’s on a list.”
There is never a list.
Anyway, this song played at some point during the night and I liked it. A lot.
It’s not like a have a dearth of recipes to choose from. I’ve got this big stack of organic, seasonal and vintage cookbooks that I keep in my non-functioning fireplace. (A literary metaphor that you can interpret however you wish.)
This is especially true since cooking is one of those habits like meditating, journaling, crafting, calling my grandmother and–let’s face it–blogging that I do far too little.
But I still collect new recipes, so I have a big stack of them awaiting my barely-skilled hands.
When I choose a recipe, my criteria are as follows:
- Devoid of processed base ingredients
- At least loosely adhering to paleo principles (Can’t hurt, right?)
- Free of exotic, expensive spices that require you to buy a whole jar and then forget about it in the back of your cabinet (For example, Epicurious is really fun until you realize every recipe requires $80 of ingredients that you will never use again. But hey, if you’re trying to figure how to cook quail eggs …)
Some music to cook to:
A few weekends ago when my visiting friends and I were laying out on the High Line, I handed a Whole Living over to my friend crazy-A to read. A half hour later I suggested we hit up the Union Square Greenmarket instead of going out to dinner. (That’s my kind of tourist destination.) Crazy-A ripped a recipe for shaved radish, fennel and parmesan salad out and we had an almost precious time of it, wandering around the market, sampling cheeses, picking out produce, etc. Once we were back at home, we (OK, Crazy-A, while I watched) whipped it up along with some bluefish for dinner. It was so fresh and tasty, I was glad we didn’t pay $50 each for a dinner out in NYC. (That was the night before, at the John Dory Oyster Bar.)
Whole Living doesn’t have a monopoly on good recipes, of course. Last night I put together an avocado, edamame and quinoa salad from InStyle, of all places. I was totally being a crazy, has-lived-alone-for-too-long person while I ate it, saying out loud while I shoveled it in my mouth, “Holy crap, this is so good.“
One place where the recipes are complete doo-doo? Self. That magazine is obviously geared toward middle-America women with body issues that they can prey on. I would sum up their editorial direction as, “How to lose ten pounds while eating low-calorie, processed food!” I read that magazine religiously in college while on the stair stepper and gained weight.
Back to Whole Living. A couple weeks ago I tried what looked like an ambitious recipes for home-made chocolate-apricot nut bars, and I’m totally hooked. You just shove a few healthy ingredients in a food processor, smoosh it onto a cookie sheet, drizzle chocolate (or in my case, smear gobs of it) across the top, stick it in the fridge and then cut it into bars. There’s something so edifying about pulling an energy bar you made yourself out of the fridge when you’re running out the door. I doubled the recipe and made more on Sunday. (Yes, it was a “low key” weekend for me and I may have had some time on my hands. Shut up.)
So tell me: Do you have any recipes you’ve found lately you’re totally obsessed with?
All pictures by moi, Alden.
Occupy Wall Street has moved into Union Square, which is right in my ‘hood. Perhaps I should go join them, because right now I would fit right in!
There’s this certain blog I really like. They send out daily emails on sustainable living, meditation techniques, ingredients you should try to include in your diet and more things that are totally up my semi-Buddhist, health-crazy, eco-friendly alley.
BUT, they totally led me astray last night.
A few month back they sent out an email with the recipe for a hair mask that was supposed to be amazing for dry hair:
1 ripe avocado, 1 tablespoon of honey (raw is ideal) and 2 tablespoons of olive oil
My hair isn’t that dry at all, but hey, it couldn’t hurt, right? Famous last (internally spoken) words.
I bought an overripe avocado, and last night before I took a shower to go out, mashed it with honey and olive oil. I decided to put it in my hair while I was naked, because this mixture looked so disgusting I didn’t want it dripping all over whatever I was wearing. So there I was in the kitchen–nude–rubbing a sickly green goo in my hair. “Ewwwww, I am never doing this again,” I said aloud to myself.
(Yes, I am one of those crazy people who live by themselves.)
It felt and looked disgusting. Then, per the instructions, I wrapped my hair in a hot towel and hung out on Pinterest for twenty minutes while I waited.
When I got in the shower, I doused my hair with clarifying shampoo, worked it all through my hair, and rinsed. Hmmm, still a little slimy-feeling. I doused my hair with normal shampoo and worked it through the ends. And then did clarifying shampoo one more time. That oughta do it. Perhaps I’ll skip the conditioner.
I got out of the shower and called my friend B. and told her I just needed to blow dry my hair and run and get a manicure for my grody nails, then would be ready.
So I started blow drying my hair. I was lost in thought for a while (I’ve blow dried my hair so many times in my life I can do it completely on autopilot), and then sort of snapped out of it to realize the section I had been aiming my hair dryer at for five minutes was still “wet.”
I jumped back in the shower, flipped my head over, and doused my head with apple cider vinegar, which is supposed to be good for really cleansing and stripping your hair. Then I worked clarifying shampoo through again, this time from the bottom up.
I got out and blow dried my hair, section by section, hoping beyond hope that the top sections would be mildly better than the bottom ones.
They weren’t. My hair felt great. It looked like I hadn’t washed it in two weeks. Yup, I looked like an Occupy protester. I mean, when I blow dried my bangs with an round brush and then pulled the brush away, my bangs stood straight out from my head!!!
In a panic, I ran out to Sephora and bought dry shampoo and sprayed it all over my hair, which improved it mildly. When B. arrived, I explained my mishap, and that I had shampooed my hair three times. She stared at me, carefully choosing her words before saying, “Oh, wow, I mean, it’s not terrible, but it doesn’t look like you washed it four times …”
We discussed further, and decided that you should only use this mask if you have really, really curly coarse hair.
I’m sure B. was mildly embarrased to be seen out with me, but the night turned out OK. After a lovely dinner with wine at Terroir (get the wild boar sausage, it’s an explosion of flavors in your mouth), we headed to Ace Hotel and picked ourselves up a couple of vampire squids. Oops, I mean very nice guys who work at Goldman Sachs.
Here’s a track that is great for evoking that feeling of going out hard in NYC:
Oh, and I should point out that sequined dress I’m wearing is from Beacon’s Closet. I love thrifting!
Hot tip: Bedlam on the LES, where we went next, is great when you want to dance like you’re back in a fraternity basement. The tunes bring me back to my softmore year of high school (Name that tune: “Lady in the street but a FREAK IN THE BED!”), and it really was a good time.
Anyway, I’m headed out to brunch in BK, and my friend J. is just going to have to deal with the fact that I look like a crack head, because I’m not trying to wash my hair again this morning.
UPDATE: I mixed together some baking soda and water into a paste and applied. My hair now looks beautiful and shiny. Success!
I still remember an exercise my first grade teacher gave our class 19 years ago. She taped a big posterboard up on the blackboard with instructions handwritten on it. (We were studying “following directions” at the time.) She told us to follow the directions.
In a pattern that would endlessly repeat itself to this day, I enthusiastically set about following everything in order. “1. Draw a square. 2. Draw a circle inside that square. 3. Draw a star somewhere on the page.” And so forth, until I got to instruction number 10: “Don’t do any of the above instructions. Just write your name on the paper and hand it in.”
Only one boy in the whole class found this tricky piece of information, sauntering up a good ten minutes before everyone else. This exercise was supposed to teach us to read the directions all the way through before getting started.
And gosh darn it, do I think of that exercise every single time I get to a third of the way through the recipe and realize I don’t have a slow cooker, a certain spice, a big enough food processor, the cognac I meant to pick up, etc, etc. I still haven’t learned this particular skill of reading through all the directions before starting. (My predilection for charging into things without reading the directions has earned me a nickname, Blue Toad, and is something my editor has remarked upon several times. Whoops.)
And … I did it again on a fairly epic scale. A few months back Real Simple came out with an ambitious piece called, “Food for a Month”, with recipes that would supposedly keep you fed for 30 days. It seemed like a challenge to my willpower and cooking skills: “Alden, could you have the preparation and skill necessary to cook all of these recipes?”
In a word, no. But I’ll be darned if I haven’t been trying my hardest. There have been a few speedbumps:
- These are family-sized recipes. The first time I went out and bought every single item off the ingredient list, and then set about futilely trying to cook it all up before it went bad. Whoops. I should have known to read a little closer before I dutifully bought two pounds of pork chops. My grocery budget was shot for the month.
- They are meat-heavy. So far, out of the seven recipes I’ve cooked, one has had quinoa as the star protein. The rest of the recipes feature pork chops, lamb ribs, pork loin, steak and chicken. This gets expensive when, like me, you want to get your meat from the Greenmarket or Whole Foods. Also, why so much meat? What is this, the Midwest?
- I am a young, single NYC gal. Therefore, I do not need a recipe for every day of the week because I’m going out to dinner and drinks and events, and I really don’t eat that much. In my quest to conquer these recipes, I’ve let arugula rot in my crisper. Twice. So, I’ve switched to choosing two to three of the tastiest-looking recipes, cutting them in half and cooking that up for a couple dinners.
- They actually aren’t that healthy. Somehow, I thought Real Simple‘s recipes would be as fresh and modern as its photography. But one of them was hanger steak with waffle cut fries (“Prepare frozen waffle fries according to directions …”) and a simple salad. Maybe we are in the Midwest.
- They aren’t season-specific. This came out in October, and features ingredients like asparagus (best eaten in the spring) and few gourds or root vegetables beyond potatoes. I get as much as I can at the market, but with these recipes, I’m forced to heavily on supplements from the grocery store.
- They don’t play off each other. What is the point of having a recipe a night when there is no synergy? Random ingredients have been piling up in my pantry, especially when the recipes pull stuff like calling for regular breadcrumbs one week, and panko bread crumbs the next. Really? I might have to take a break and use up all the extras before I continue to the final week.
Still, there are some tidbits worth saving, especially the vegetables sides. Miraculously, when I got home from my long weekend in Virginia tonight, the cauliflower left over from the breaded pork loin last week was still edible, so I cooked it up. It’s a simple recipe using a few ingredients, and for a Monday night after a weekend of heavy chili, cookie cake and two brunches, a plate of pure vegetables is just what I needed.
All you do is cut cauliflower into little florets, throw them in a pan with olive oil, pepper and salt until they are cooked up and yummy, toss them with some diced sweet peppadew red peppers, capers and parsley, and you’re all set.
I think overall, however, I’m going to stick with Whole Living recipes from now on.
Sunday night I took the L to Williamsburg to meet up with two old sorority sisters and see a The Artist at the Nite Hawk. Afterward, Whitney, who was visiting from Philadelphia, said she had a friend working at a local place. She clearly didn’t know what a treat she was about to give us: Her friend works at the Momofuku Milk Bar.
There are lot of Momofuku’s in the city, and many of them are all but impossible to get into. But you can grab a little slice of sweet heaven at the Milk Bar, which has four locations in the East Village, Midtown, Upper West Side, and Williamsburg, no reservation necessary.
Their crack pie is aptly named (you can try to recreate it with this recipe), and their little cake truffles are so ridiculously good, $4 price seems like a bargain.
Whitney’s friend gave us the hookup, taking us into the warehouse of a kitchen in the back, where all the Milk Bar treats are made before being delivered to the Manhattan sister stores. It’s where pastry chefs took over in January to stage a decadent event called Killed by Dessert. (Please let there be a redux.) This is a serious workspace … I could crawl inside the mixers and take a nap.
“When I first applied,” our friend told us, “I though, ‘Oh, I like to bake, this could be fun!’ I had no idea.”
And in a testament to how good this stuff is, she hasn’t gotten tired of the sugary morsels–her sweet tooth has only increased.
Is it sustainable? Well, it’s a mixed bag. Christina Tosi’s Milk Bar cook book has been slammed for heavily relying on processed food like junk food cereal. But up until the farm shut down in January (SO SAD), the Milk Bar also used Milk Thistle Farm for their excellent, local milk.
After doing some sampling, I suggest you not eat for an entire day, then go in and get one of everything, washing it all down with a White Russian milkshake.
It would also make an excellent date spot. (Hint, hint.)
I may seem a bit schizo sometimes, posting about wild parties and then mundane things. But it has to be said, life is made up of both the big things you’ll remember always, and the little things that make every day better. The food processor is one of those things.
Mark Bittman composed an ode to the food processor, and all the wonderful things it can do in your kitchen in the New York Times. Check it out; he speaks wise words.
Ahh, the Farmers Market. Beautiful, bountiful, and bucolic, it’s a wonderful place to spend a summer hour. But it’s a whole lot different than going to the grocery store, so I’ve put together a little guide to help you navigate this bold, delicious new world. Enjoy!
1. Do an inventory of your pantry, fridge, and freezer. See what you already have on hand, so you don’t end up buying what you don’t need, and can use up what you already have stocked. I call it rummage-and-cook, but you can just call it common sense.
2. Make a meal plan. As much fun as it is to just show up to the market and grab what looks good, if you’re a nouveau chef like me you might be overwhelmed. I have a couple different strategies. I might put in a couple ingredients I already have in Epicurious and see what pops up. Yesterday I came up with couscous salad with peppers, olives, and pine nuts. I had everything already stocked except for red bell peppers, parsley, and an onion. I also found a savory gouda, bacon, and leek pancake recipe. With the flour and other essentials in jars on my shelf, I would just need the leeks and bacon.
You can also keep a good seasonal cook book in the house. I have a couple on my shelf: Sustainably Delicious and Simply Organic both group their recipes by season, so you won’t have to go on a treasure hunt in Whole Foods. I also have Earth to Table, Lucid Food, Eating Local, and Farm to Fork on my Amazon wish list. Obviously, local food is a hot topic in the cooking world.
I usually pick two recipes. One recipe will keep me for three or four meals, depending on if I’m sharing. I find myself eating out spontaneously with friends quite often so I don’t want to overstock.
4. Look up which markets are open where. Maybe you knew this, but farmers markets aren’t plunked down in one location, open 24/7. You’ll need to do some research. This handy site lets you look up NYC Greenmarkets and filter by the day. But a Google search of your location and “farmers markets” will probably do the trick if you are elsewhere. I found only one market open on Monday, and that was the trusty old Union Square market. It’s an hour round trip from me, but I decided it would be worth it.
4. Bring some reusable bags. Farmers will have plastic bags there if you are in a pinch, but we all know plastic bags are the devil’s invention. Bring reusable produce bags too if you have ‘em.
5. Be flexible. You might not find exactly what you’re looking for. I’ve found delicious bacon at the Union Square market before, but there was none to be had on Monday. Oh no, recipe ruined? Nope! I decided to substitute a similarly rich duck prosciutto instead. That brings me to my next point…
6. Get advice from the farmers. You won’t find specialized service like this, even in your fancy Whole Foods. When I couldn’t find bacon, I had a long conversation with the girl at the duck tent. She gave me a couple samples, (“this has a smoky, more ham-like flavor…”) and we discussed the ins and outs of using duck prosciutto over fresh duck. As I slipped my mouth-watering duck breast into my bag, she also said to try it with goat cheese and arugula. That’s what I call service.
7. Try something new. I know I said to meal plan, but really, the best thing about the farmers market is picking up something you’ve never seen before. If grocery stores are for uniform, tasteless tomatoes, the farmers market is for heirloom varieties that spark the imagination. I picked up an odd green vegetable called kiwi squash, which the sign said had a rich nutty flavor, and would be good sauteed in olive oil with salt and pepper.
8. Indulge. You should feel guilty about picking up those cupcakes from the grocery store with an inch of icing shaped into a clown face. But the treats at the Farmers Market were made with love and care, are free of preservatives and other artificial ingredients, and taste delicious. I bought a roasted peach popsicle from People’s Pops, and then a pack of three sticky and sweet cider donuts. I also indulged in some mild flirtation with the hot guy selling me the donuts. I only felt a little guilty. After all, he started it. (Note: You would never catch me flirting with a grocery store cashier. Farmers? A different story.)
9. Get creative. As I wandered about, licking my delicious popsicle, I saw piles of fresh berries everywhere. “Hmmmmm” I thought, “Why not make my own icy treat?” I piled blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries in my bag.
10. Supplement from the grocery store. You can’t get every single thing you need from the grocery store. Although food advocates recommend saving the leafy greens for the spring, and the apples for the late summer and fall, even the most stringent locavores cave to shipped-in salt, sugar, flour, and olive oil, all of which don’t have local replacements. After I was done filling my bags with produce, I stopped in the Whole Foods market next door to restock on olive oil and granola.
11. Get cooking. Another reason to meal plan? Fresh produce doesn’t look kindly upon being crammed in the back of your pantry for months on end like granola bars and boxed cereal. When I got home I quickly unpacked everything and got it into the pantry, and a couple hours later got started on dinner.
12. Enjoy! I can now say that frying duck smells just as good – if not better – than frying bacon. Vicki loved the savory pancake with melted gouda on top, and the popsicles were a snap to make. They were just what I needed this afternoon to keep cool!
I hope I’ve answered some of your questions about shopping at the farmers market. If you have any more, leave them in the comments. Now get out there and shop!
Last Friday evening I had plans to go see a movie (or two) with Vicki, but she had come down with strep throat. As I rode the elevator down to the lobby at my work, I wondered what I would do with my night. I could call some friends, but instead I decided to have a low key night in, and cook for myself.
I hardly ever cook. I know that it’s a great thing to do, but when I get home at eight every night, and want to get up at 6 the next morning…well, I have my priorities. So I relished the thought of having an evening to practice my cooking skills and get a good night’s sleep. (Yes, this is old woman behavior. No, I am not ashamed.)
I had visited the Westerly Natural Market a few times before, but in a slap-dash, grab-and-go sort of way. Located at 54th and 7th Avenue, Westerly Natural Market is like a more authentic version of Whole Foods. Instead of well-dressed, gossipy girls, there was a pair of old woman trading witty banter as they perused the full four aisles of natural supplements. Instead of women dressed head to toe in Lululemon, there was a woman dressed in t-shirts and jeans, with a fair-trade looking purse slung over their shoulder. There was a guy wandering around with both a shopping bag and his bicycle helmet slung over his arm.
I enlisted my iPhone to help me with my mission to cook something easy and healthy. I’ve been saving recipes on Delicious, and now pulled them up using the Delicious App. I chose Lamp Chops with Pistachio Tapenade, courtesy of Smitten Kitchen.
Westerly Natural Market has a basic produce aisle, four aisle of supplements and pills, and three or four aisles of both gourmet and beautifully packaged foods, and foods that looked like they had been lovingly cooked and packaged in someone’s apartment in Brooklyn. I wandered up and down, looking for my ingredients. (“Mmmm, homemade peanut butter granola! FOCUS Alden”.) When I couldn’t find the garlic, the manager cheerfully showed me to them, piled in a cardboard box on the floor, underneath the apples.
I picked up organic pork chops instead of the lamb, filled a reusable produce bag with bulk pistachios, grabbed a glass jar of green olives (instead of plastic, my dears), and a jar of capers. The recipe also called for fresh oregano and parsley, but seeing that those herbs were packaged in styrene and plastic, I decided to try it without.
And check this out! Westerly has a NUT BUTTER MAKER. Oh my gosh, it makes me so excited. I tried to make my own almond butter the other night at home, but I got bored with the process and didn’t want to subject Vicki to more than 15 minutes of the high-pitched food processor. So the result wasn’t awesome. So here was the solution: at the top, a whole bunch of nuts. You just press down the lever and out the bottom comes nut butter. I can’t wait to come back with an empty jar and fill it up with this stuff. (Little things get me excited, yall.)
I wasn’t even finished. I rounded a corner and saw a shelf of sun tan lotions. I’ve been meaning to get new sunscreen, since apparently skin cancer is on the rise partly because of tanning bed, and partly because sunscreen itself can give you cancer. Oh, but life has a sense of irony.
I whipped out my Good Guide iPhone app and started scanning. Nature’s Gate got a 1 for health out of 10. Really??? That’s worse than conventional make up and shampoo. I mean, this is supposed to be organic stuff! I picked up another “organic” brand and it also got a 1. I scanned another – Kiss My Face – and this one got a 3. At this point I was bored with the process, and figured, what the heck, a 3 is better than a 1. I tossed it in my basket.
(If you want to do better than I, check out Good Guide’s online guide to sunscreens. Hint: Coppertone sucks.)
Finally, I tossed some Burt’s Bees Radiance Day spf 15 in my basket (Good Guide score of 6.8 overall, 5 for health) and paid for my items. I was so freakin pleased with myself, what a green shopper I was!
In summary, for a great green shopping experience:
1. Use your iPhone’s helpful apps for identifying healthy and genuine products. The iPhone also has some fun price comparison apps.
2. Go organic, free range, cage free, and hormone free.
3. Come prepared with produce bags and reusable shopping bags. I keep my reusable Lululemon fold-up bag in my purse at all times, with a produce bag tucked in the outside pocket.
4. Avoid plastic packaging where possible. Embrace the shabby chic aesthetic of jars on your shelves.
5. Read the ingredient label. A long list of scientific gibberish is NOT a good sign. Also, avoid high fructose corn syrup like the plague. In fact, if the food does not come with an ingredient list at all(“peanuts.” “grapes.” “wild rice.”) that’s the best. (Trust me, this is good for your long-term health AND your waistline.)
6. Unless you are in a lovely health foods store, stick to the edges of the grocery store like it’s the shopping district and and the center is a dangerous food ghetto. That’s where they stick on the deceptively delicious and highly-processed crap that you are better without.
7. If you don’t see a healthy and conscious brand, ask for it. They might take a hint and start carrying Burt’s Bees and Method like so many conventional convenience and grocery stores.
Anyway, I am happy to report that my pistachio tapenade pork chops turned out beautifully, even without fresh parsley, and Vicki scarfed hers down even with the strep throat. Really, if you have any brains you’ll try this simple recipe. Unless you are like Vicki, who apparently is afraid of anything involving heat. In that case, pass the recipe along to your roommate and have her cook it for you.