Archive for September, 2009

More Unavoidable Plastic


More Unavoidable Plastic

OK, so you have decided to eat better, eat locally, avoid plastics.  Great. Now comes the real test: What happens when you go to the grocery store or even the farmers market?

Locally raised, pasture fed chickens? Some places. Guess how they are packaged? Can you spell p-l-a-s-t-i-c?  Unless you are going to buy them freshly harvested and even then I suspect a popular option is plastic.

Ditto for all other meat products. One stop-gap measure, re-wrap meat in butcher paper and then re-wrap in plastic. At least then your exposure to the stuff that leaches out of plastic will be reduced.

If you remember to leave enough room for expansion, mason jars have been mentioned as an alternative to using plastic in the freezer.  You have to use the ones with straight sides to make that work.  But that is easy.  I suppose you could pack that meat in glass jars.  I’ll have to try that to see how it works.  Of course most of the grass fed beef and other humanely raised and slaughtered meat comes already frozen, because the demand is not there yet for them to be able to put it out unfrozen.

In other matters, I have a couple of recipes for this transitional season.  The first is a summer recipe that is a classic.  It is for  Julia Child’s Ratatouille.  This is not the same as the one in the rat movie.  That is actually pretty easy to find on the net.  This is fairly labor intensive but is delicious and uses many of the summer vegetables.  Most of these are still coming in but farmers are pulling them out for fall and winter fare.

1/2 lb. eggplant
1/2 lb. zucchini
A 3 qt glass or porcelain bowl
2 tsp salt
Peel the eggplant and cut into rounds about 3/4 inch thick.  If they are large eggplants, cut the slices into strips about an inch wide.  Slice the zucchini into 3/4 inch rounds.  If they are large, cut the slices into strips about an inch wide.  Put slices in the bowl and sprinkle with the salt.  I did it in layers so the salt gets on all of it.  Let stand for 30 minutes.  Drain and dry slices on paper towel.
A 12 inch enamel or stainless steel skillet
olive oil
Using just enough olive oil to cover bottom of pan saute the eggplant and zucchini in batches so that there is only one layer in pan.  Cook about 1 – 2 minutes on each side till they are lightly brown.  Add more olive oil to pan as you do each batch.  Place on a plate and reserve.
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced onions
2 sliced bell peppers, any color
2 – 3 cloves garlic minced
salt and pepper
In the same skillet cook the onions and peppers slowly in a little olive oil for about 10 minutes until tender.  Add the garlic and a little salt and pepper.
1 lb. firm ripe red tomatoes, peeled and sliced long way in strips (romas or amish paste tomatoes work best for this)
salt and pepper
Lay tomates on top of onions and peppers.  Add just a little more salt and pepper.  Cover skillet and cook over low heat for 5 minutes.  Uncover and raise heat to bring juices to boil.  Cook until they have almost all evaporated. 
A  2 1/2 qt saucepot or casserole that will work on top of the stove.
3 TB chopped parsley
(I added herbes de provence)
Place 1/3 of tomato mixture in the bottom of pot and sprinkle with some of the parsley and seasonings.  Add half of the eggplant and zucchini.  Add 1/3 tomato mixture and seasonings, then the rest of the eggplant mixture.  Put remaining tomato mixture on top with parsley and seasonings. 
salt and pepper
Cover the pot or casserole and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes.  Uncover and tip to side.  Baste the top of the dish with juices and taste for correct salt and pepper.  Add more if needed.  Cook uncovered for about 15 to 20 minutes basting several more times, until juices have evaporated.  There will be a couple of tablespoons of seasoned olive oil in the bottom.  That’s ok.  Heat must be low so that it does not scorch.
You may serve hot, room temperature or cold.  It’s actually better the next day.
And now for a fall recipe
Apple Blue Cheese Salad
1 T white wine or apple cider vinegar
1 T brown mustard or dijon
1 T sugar or maple syrup
1 T olive oil
Whisk together and set nearby.
One apple, whichever local variety you like
Chop into bite sized pieces and drop into the dressing.  Stir to cover so that the apple does not turn dark.
Any variety of loose leaf or small head lettuce that you have in your garden or from a local farmer.  Anything but iceberg or Romaine.  Find a lettuce with some color or at least some character.  Use enough to fill a large salad bowl.  Chop or tear in bite size pieces.
One onion, cut in half and sliced very thin.
2 ounces of blue cheese crumbled
Put sliced onion and blue cheese on top of lettuce.  Pour dressing with apples over all and toss.
This makes 2 servings at our house, probably 4 servings for most other people.  We really like salad.
This is especially yummy.



Fall Planting

Well, we have been going forward with the removal of plastic, but mostly we have been eating locally as much as possible and planting the fall garden.  We have carrots and beets in and a wide variety of greens, green onions and an even wider variety of lettuce.  I’ve still got to plant collards and broccoli and garlic.  I’m sure there is something I have forgotten.  The greens and the carrots and beets are sprouting.  I love those little green plants happily coming up all over the dark raised beds.  They are the prettiest shades of green.  

I made ratatouille on Friday.  I had never made it before, just seen the movie.  But I had that late summer abundance of eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers and tomatoes and was looking for something to do with it all.  The recipe I came across on the internet turned out to be the classic Julia Child one.  I have her cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, but have only ever made a couple of things out of it.  I think I may have to make more things from it.  The recipe is fairly complicated and requires a lot of attention and time.  But it was well worth it.  It was so delicious, almost sweet with all those vegetables condensed down. 

And now a word from Pat:

Does Plastic = Metal? Do you remember the Sesame Street game where you choose the one thing is not like the others? Apparently the folks at Google, either never played that game or always got it wrong. I searched for *metal freezer containers*, which you would think would return links on, well, metal freezer containers. Not so! Shopping results were for “4 Pack Freezer Containers” (two different stores, both plastic) and Arrow *Plastics* Freezer Containers. I should snail mail Google’s research lab a whiffle ball and a rather large ball bearing. Both round, etc., but one is made out of plastic and the other out of metal. Don’t know if that will help but will let you know if I get a response.

Maybe The Rooster Knows Best

Our rooster does not like plastic bags.  He is very adamant about it.  My husband took a bag of oyster shell out for the hens and Mick put three holes in his pants and his leg.  We thought he just had a problem with that specific bag, but yesterday, I went out with a plastic zip loc of arugula that was past its prime.  The chickens love any kind of greens.  As soon as I entered the run, with the bag in hand, Mick started up with his karate call and was flapping and carrying on.  I pushed him back with the rake I carry while in there and stepped out again.  I took the greens out of the bag and took only them into the run.  He was as peaceful as could be.  So maybe roosters know something we don’t.  He’s not having rattly plastic bags in his space though.  Now we have to figure out a replacement for those plastic feed and water dispensers in there.  I’m pretty sure that make metal ones so that will be easy to fix. 

And now a word from Pat  (He wrote the last post also):

Unavoidable Plastics

We are rapidly finding out that there are *unavoidable* plastics in our
food supply. Despite going the extra mile or two to purchase locally
produced milk from grass fed cows, you guessed it, we buy milk in
*plastic* containers. No other options offered. Not even for extra money.

Not to mention that such plastics are *not* recyclable. See: I was looking
up the composition of the milk jugs, just to see the extra “goodies” we
are getting with the milk when I found that site. Worth a close read.