Pasta with Goat Cheese Recipe from Mark

Mark, our first Local Organic Fan has an easy recipe to share.  He adds red bell peppers, but you could add other in season vegetables such as summer squash, carrot shavings or chile.  Make sure that any new vegetable ingredients can cook in the same time as the dish.  Enjoy.

Whole wheat Penne with Goat Cheese

¼ pound Organic Whole wheat Penne, or other style pasta of your choice

½ cup black and/or green olives, in oil or water (organic if possible)

½ red pepper, roasted on the grill (organic if possible)

1 ounce Organic Feta Cheese, mild (I use goat)

1 Tablespoon Organic extra virgin Olive Oil

four or five capers (optional, to taste)

to taste fresh cracked black pepper

serves one as an entree, two as a first course

Prepare pasta according to package directions.  Be sure to cook al dente; pasta will still be firm.  While pasta is cooking, combine olives, red peppers, capers (if used), and olive oil in a small bowl.  Toss to combine.  When pasta is finished, add pasta to bowl and toss lightly to combine.  Add feta cheese, and fresh cracked pepper if desired.  Toss lightly, plate, and enjoy!

As an entree, serve with a fresh, organic salad or other accompaniment.

Total time:  10 minutes

Cost: About $3.00 per serving as an entree

Cooking Beyond Recipes, part 3

Nadine shares more recommendations for cooking styles, food choices and good cookbooks to have in your kitchen.  She will continue to provide tips in this Cooking Beyond Recipes column.  If you missed her first two posts, click here for part one and click here for part two to be introduced to her concepts.

Have you ever thought about when, what and how much you eat?  Here are four simple ways to help your body through food.  By experimenting and carefully observing, we can each find the optimal way to benefit our respective bodies through what we eat.

I would add the following eating concepts:

  • Eat modest portions, and eat slowly.
  • Avoid processed foods, especially anything with more than a handful of ingredients or a list of  mystery ingredients, even if  they’re certified organic. Most of the ingredients you don’t recognize are what I think of as the Horcruxes of corn—tiny bits of the souls of whole kernels of corn that have been extracted by food “science” and embedded in food simulations.
  • During the day, eat every few hours to avoid food cravings. Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus small snacks of whole, fresh fruit, raw vegetables or nuts (not processed snacks) between meals.
  • Try eating animal protein at lunch instead of dinner—you may find that you sleep better.

Meet Mark, a Local Organic Fan

Are you a local organic fan?  This is a great way to talk about why you love organic food and ways that you find local food.  We have our first entry this week to share with you.  Mark has also submitted some of his easy recipes so look for them in future blog posts.  Send us the answers to the questions below and you may be the next Local Organic Fan!

Local Organic Fan

Mark, a Local Organic FanName: Mark Arcuri

Hometown: Patchogue (Eastern Long Island), New York

Why are you a Local Organic Fan?

Three years ago I learned about a blood clot in my left leg. While the clot was superficial and not life threatening, the experience at 47 years old was shocking. I had an interest in healthy cooking and in wellness, but in reality, I didn’t make health much of a priority. I never once attended the gym and, despite the appearance of healthy eating and making sustainable choices, I did those things only in spurts unless I was around others. Indeed, others saw me as much healthier than I actually was. The clot was a game-changer. I looked in the mirror and I saw my dad. I saw the potential for the host of preventable lifestyle-related diseases that he suffered for years. The doctor said that my clot was due to genetics, but I knew better. I believe that genetics merely provide a blueprint of possibilities rather than a destiny. I decided to take charge and from that moment on my life has never been the same.

How do you live a local, organic lifestyle?

I found a new doctor who was in Family Practice and Holistic Medicine. I returned to the gym and hired a personal trainer. I started reading material that I had placed on the back burner, such as the anti-inflammatory guidelines by Andrew Weil, MD. I cleared my cupboards of foods such as certain oils, preserved foods, manufactured foods and anything that did not grow as-it-was, like GMOs. I started shopping in markets offering local and organic foods, such as the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market and La Montanita Food Coop. I prepared more morning and evenings meals at home and packed my lunch.

On frequent overnight travels, I stopped at local markets for fruit and nuts and nonperishables. I committed to reading something new everyday that could support me in my efforts – often a web page, part of a book or an article.

Any inspiration, tips or advice to share with others?

Share what you are doing with others! But, be sure to choose kindred folks. I began talking about what I was doing with family (my dad has since passed, but we made progress), friends and even strangers in the gym and markets. Sharing information with others is a great way to make the intention more real. I also remind myself that modifying my lifestyle is a process that continues to expand and unfold, as does my life. Like anything, it will never be done. So, there is no pressure to do any more than I have time for on a given day. A step is a step is a step. None is big and none is small. Do what you can, and it is enough.

What successes have you had as a result?

Once the momentum got going, I found that my appetite for more was enough to push me forward.

  • Lost nearly 30 pounds without dieting.
  • Learned that wholesome, sustainable ingredients sometimes cost more, but that the cost was balanced by my tendency to buy less – I was not eating less necessarily, but I was wasting less.
  • Discovered that cooking was often quicker, took less energy (mine, and natural resources!), and left me with food that was easily turned into different meals another day.
  • Felt more connected to my community through more purposeful interactions with purveyors, during meals, and in healthy lifestyle-related gatherings.
  • I also became a wealth of information for others, and even inspiring to some. I made peace with my dad and with his choices before he passed away.
  • My work also shifted to its current focus on holistic wellness and helping clients in their transitions to aligning with a healthier, sustainable life.

What are some of your favorite fast and easy dishes that you cook regularly?

  • Grill year round – chicken, fish, occasional beef. Any of these can be enjoyed as-is with a side of a sweet potato, asparagus, steamed brown rice, or fresh veggies/salad of your choice.
  • Eat whole wheat pasta at least twice a week with a fresh sauce. My policy is that the sauce must be prepared in the same time or less than it takes to cook the pasta. A chopped tomato, some basil, minced garlic, olive oil, and fresh ground pepper with a bit of grated cheese is my staple. Maybe add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. And this sauce doesn’t require cooking at all!

Any final thoughts?

My new lifestyle may sound like a lot to make time for, but it takes me less than an hour including the food preparation and reading. Commitment must follow any vision in order to allow the reality of that vision to manifest. We are all blessed with unlimited choices for how we might manifest the blueprints for our lives. Becoming a Local Organic Fan can be easy and inexpensive. It is the best way that I have found to transform my life by embracing my blueprint, modifying it and building the perfect holistically healthy life.

Summer Tomato Salad from Amy

Thank you to everyone that attended the food preservation class last night.  We learned about hot water bath canning and pickling while enjoying this salad as an appetizer.  It is adapted from Gourmet Magazine to fit the ingredients in my garden.  I have grape tomatoes, basil, tarragon, mint and parsley growing in my yard.  This version will feed eight to ten people.

Summer Tomato Salad

Adapted by Amy

1 to 2 cloves garlic

3/4 tsp kosher salt

1-1/2 tblsp fresh lemon juice

1 tblsp sherry vinegar

1-1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

3/4 tsp sugar or agave

1/4 tsp fresh black paper

6 tblsp extra-virgin olive oil

2-1/2 lbs cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters

1-1/2 lbs cucumbers

1/2 cup scallions

1/3 cup chopped herbs (tarragon, basil, parsley, mint)

Combine the garlic through olive oil and shake in a small jar.  Place tomatoes, cucumbers and scallions into a large bowl and mix.  Add the dressing and herbs before serving.  Enjoy.

Cooking Beyond Recipes- part 2

Nadine shares more recommendations for cooking styles, food choices and good cookbooks to have in your kitchen.  She will continue to provide tips in this Cooking Beyond Recipes column.  If you missed her first post, click here to be introduced to her concepts.

Cooking Beyond Recipes

I am neither original, nor alone, in advocating these cooking concepts:

  • Start with real, whole food, locally grown whenever possible—ingredients that burst with flavor before the cooking begins.
  • Let the ingredients inspire you. I sometimes come home from the farmer’s market, lay out my purchases on the kitchen counter and ask, “What would Alice Waters do?” For a beginning or hesitant cook, Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food is a wonderful reference. I also like the Fanny Farmer Cookbook for classic American recipes (when I ask, “How many things can you do with apples?” for example), and The New Basics Cookbook by Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins of Silver Palate fame.
  • Prepare food simply, so the ingredients can continue to speak for themselves: raw, steamed, sautéed, grilled, roasted.

Tip: Keep berries from getting moldy

Found this online and wanted to pass it along…

“When you get your berries home, prepare a mixture of one part vinegar (white or apple cider probably work best) and ten parts water. Dump the berries into the mixture and swirl around. Drain, rinse if you want (though the mixture is so diluted I find you can’t taste the vinegar) and pop in the fridge. The vinegar kills any mold spores and other bacteria that might be on the surface of the fruit, and voila! Raspberries will last a week or more, and I’ve had strawberries go almost two weeks without getting moldy and soft.”

Quick Tomato & Basil Sauce

Tomatoes, Peppers, Zucchini and Basil all love the sun and are available at the Farmer’s Market in August.  A quick sauce can be created using the fresh ingredients.  It is also an easy recipe.

One make-ahead step is roasting the bell peppers and storing in the refrigerator.  Buy a few more than you would eat in one meal and roast them on the grill until they are charred on all sides.  Cover them as they cool and the skin can easily be removed.  Chop into small squares and use throughout the week.

The other ingredients can be cooked at the same time as boiling water for pasta.  Lunch will be ready in 20 minutes if you are using the pre-roasted red bell peppers.  Enjoy.

1 Small Onion, diced

2 Cloves of Garlic, diced

1 Small Zucchini (or half of a larger one), diced

1 Roasted Red Bell Pepper, diced

2 Tomatoes, diced

1 Bunch of Swiss Chard, chiffonade or slice into strips

Fresh Oregano

Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes

Kosher Salt

Fresh Ground Black Pepper

Olive Oil

1.5 Cups of Penne Pasta (or Two Handfuls)

1 Bunch of Basil, chiffonade or slice into strips

Wash and dice all of the vegetables on a cutting board to prepare for cooking the dish.  Heat a saute pan to medium heat and drizzle olive oil in the bottom.  Add the onion, garlic, pinch of kosher salt and about three grinds of black pepper for about three minutes of cooking time.  This will help them soften for your sauce.

Start the pasta water.  Cook the pasta according to instructions with a little salt added with the shells.  It typically takes 10 minutes.  Add the swiss chard to the same water with five minutes left on the timer.

Add the remaining vegetable ingredients, oregano and red pepper.  Cook for about 10 minutes.  Remove the pasta and greens from the boiling water and add to the saute pan.  It is good to have a little pasta water to give the sauce texture.  Cook all ingredients for a few more minutes.  Top with basil and parmesan cheese.

Still room in Saturday’s class

Our Weds. class is sold out, but there is still room right now in the Sat. class. Marc Howard will be making an Heirloom Tomato Caprese tart (fresh pesto, mozzarella and tomatoes on a quick and easy handmade pie crust) and lamb kebabs from Talus Ranch. Reserve your space online or call 471-7780. Only $10, but lots of great info and inspiration. Come with a friend!

Cooking Beyond Recipes

Cooking Beyond Recipes

From Nadine

In grad school, I shared an apartment with two aspiring librarians. Rosemary often cooked for us and would go to the store to buy dried oregano if a recipe called for ¼ teaspoon and we didn’t have it on the shelf. One lovely Midwestern morning, I went to the farmer’s market and came home with zucchini, onion, eggplant, bell pepper and tomato, chopped them up and stewed them into ratatouille. At dinner, Cathy expressed her appreciation and asked for the recipe. With disapproval in her voice, Rosemary responded, “There wasn’t one. I watched her make it.” I tell this story often, because it says so much about different approaches to cooking.

When I was married, my husband would sometimes ask that I make a particular meal again—and of course I couldn’t reproduce exactly whatever I’d improvised two weeks ago. So there are some advantages to the “go buy the ¼ teaspoon of oregano” school of thought.

I treat recipes as references, sources of ideas and inspiration. I follow recipes more closely when I bake, since the chemistry of baking requires certain proportions of key ingredients. I often read several recipes to make something new or outside my usual repertory. (Checking various cookbooks recently, I discovered that my grandmother’s recipe for short cake is classic.) Occasionally I will draft a recipe from my sources, note what I actually do and keep that recipe so I can reproduce it if I like the result. A friend once gifted me with some cookbooks as she cleaned out her library, and I still enjoy reading the notes she made as she modified recipes.

Organic fruit on sale this week

Enjoy the fruits of the season!

Natural Grocers has more organic fruit on sale this week. They have organic nectarines and organic peaches for 4 lbs/$5. They have organic watermelon with seeds for 39 cents per pound and organic plums for $1.19 per pound.  Enjoy the summer produce!