The Cooking Channel, Launched.

The people who brought you The Food Network has converted the Fine Living Network format to The Cooking Channel.  The launch was today, May 31st.  I found it on my Verizon service, channel 166.  It is not in HD yet (boo!) but is meant to be in the works.    Programing includes a show hosted by Mo Rocca, Nigella Lawson, Jamie Oliver and Julia Child re-runs!  There is a voice for grassroots approaches and a lot of international programming.

“The feel and style we’re going for is a little grittier, a little edgier, a little hipper,” said Bruce Seidel, the senior vice president for programming and production for the Cooking Channel.
“Someone sent over a demo for a potential show where you could see they were breaking chickens’ necks in a restaurant,” Mr. Smith said. “I do think we would do that on the Cooking Channel.”
Stay tuned....

Let's Eat!

Happy Memorial Day!
I hope that you have something delicious to eat today, maybe from the grill.

The holiday got me thinking about food that our soldiers are given, specifically MREs.  An MRE stands for Meal, Ready-to-Eat, and is currently the main individual operational ration for the U.S. military.  They are designed as completely self-contained meals, with the nutients needed to sustain the soldier. The packs usually contain an entree, a side dish, crackers, peanut butter/cheese spread, a dessert, instant coffee/tea, matches, toilet paper, spoon, and a heater to heat the main entree. While everything in an MRE can be eaten cold, it usually tastes better warm.
 Above, the contents of an MRE.
Below, hash browns!
My only personal experience with a MRE of sorts is from the dehydrated meals packs used when backpacking.  It seems off-putting, but after a long hike they are surprisingly satisfying.  


You Know You're Growing Up When.....

...eating moons over my hammy is no long an option.  i literally felt my arteries clog this morning!


Oh, NoYouDidn't!

Homemade soft pretzels using Alton Brown's recipe.
Since my hubby didn't want a b-day cake, I figured this would satisfy.
 Do the twist!
You can put a candle in a pretzel, right?

Don't Toss that Egg Carton!

Next time you have an empty egg carton, give it a second chance.
Use it to start plants from seed, instead of purchasing peat pots.
Your welcome.

A Great Source for Heirloom Seeds

offers open-pollinated seeds; pure, natural & non-GMO!  This is what our food is meant to be.  If you can't make it to a store location in either Missouri or Somona County, they have a catalog and offer online ordering. 
The fruits and vegetables you will get from these seeds are a piece of our history, and are full of flavor.
With all of the genetic modification to seeds and plants for color, shelf life, etc., this is an amazing source for the real deal.

The Food and Flowers Freedom Act....PASSED!

Live in L.A?  Ever think about putting the back yard to work for you?  Due to out dated city ordinances, you couldn't grow and sell vegetables, nuts or flowers in your yard to sell off site (on on site for that matter!)  
This week the city council passed the new ordinance allowing urban farmer to sell their bounty, with no objections!

President Garcetti's response about the passing of the Food & Flowers Freedom Act:
This makes sure that people can eat healthier and save money during these tough times, while at the same time setting clear rules to avoid any confusion with neighbors or the city. We hope this is a big step forward for urban farming here in Los Angeles, and across the nation.” 
— Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti
Check out the updates from Urban Farming Advocates


Free Donuts, for the Well Located.

Another reason why it's sad there are no Dunkin Donuts in SoCal....?
June 4th is national donut day (right?!?) and with the purchase of a drink at DD, you get a free donut.
You can even sign up for a reminder email on their website.

Suggested Project: Grilled Pizza

I caught an episode of Secrets of a Restaurant Chef with Anne Burrell.  She made pizza dough from scratch and grilled them up to perfection.  Perfect for a three day, bbq, holiday weekend!
Her recipe is posted here.  
It provides a great foundation, and you can always get creative with the toppings.
I made 2 the other night- bbq chicken, and tomato & cheese.  They were simple and it was pretty fun to make too!  My words of wisdom: don't make crusts too thick or you'll have a doughy center.
 The shape was goofy, I know...but I'm going with "rustic".


Happiness is a bowl of cherries and a book of poetry under a shade tree.
~Astrid Alauda

Baseball Games = Peanuts!

Something is charming about keeping busy with these guys during a ball game.
...And you can't beat the naughty feeling of throwing them on the floor either!


Urban Teaching Farm Coming to Long Beach!!!!

This is great news!
New City Charter School is leasing land from the city and will be opening the farm June 10th with everyone's favorite councilman, Robert Garcia. The school will use the land for education on nutrition, farming, enviromental biology and conservation.
The Press Telegram has a short article on it here.


Plant Sale!

in Irwindale is having a great sale right now!

If you're in the market for a fruit tree, it's worth the drive.  Avocado, apple, peach, walnut, citrus, etc etc are 15-25% off.    They had a good selection, and the plants were very healthy.
The website is advertising up to 70% off plants, but I didn't see any marked down more than 50%.
I got blackberries, lavender and a 6/pack of flowers for $24.
Not too shabby.

That's Right, Marshmallows!

Homemade marshmallows.

Start by lightly oiling and powdering an 8x8 pan with confectioner's sugar.
Pour 1/3 cup of water in the mixer's bowl.
Sprinkle 3 (1/4 oz) packets of unflavored gelatin into that water. After about 10 minutes it will be softened.
In a saucepan add 1/3 cup of water, 1 cup granulated sugar, a cu light corn syrup, and a pinch of salt.
Bring this up to 240 degrees over medium high heat.
With the mixer on low, carefully add the hot syrup to the gelatin.  To that, add a tsp of vanilla.
Bring up to medium high for apprx 8-13 minutes until it is white, stiff and sticky.
With a lightly oiled spatula, spread the mixture into the 8x8 pan you prepped earlier.  It will need to rest for at least an hour, until the mixture is cool and firm.
With a wet knive, you can loosen the sides and peel it out.  Wet the knife often to avoid sticking.  Cut it into squares.
To finish up, toss each marshmallow in confectioner's sugar, chocolate, coconut, etc- until completely covered.
Store in a singe layer or layers separated by wax paper. I learned the hard way the container I put them in collects moisture.

Oh, and don't let these dishes sit.  They will turn into the stickiest mess ever.  Hot water, stat! 

Definition of the Day

Factory Farm:
A large-scale industrial site where many animals (generally chickens, turkeys, cattle, or pigs) are confined and treated with hormones and antibiotics to maximize growth and prevent disease. The animals produce much more waste than the surrounding land can handle. These operations are associated with various environmental hazards as well as cruelty to animals. The government calls these facilities Concentrated (or Confined) Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines a CAFO as "new and existing operations which stable or confine and feed or maintain for a total of 45 days or more in any 12-month period more than the number of animals specified" in categories that they list out. In addition, "there's no grass or other vegetation in the confinement area during the normal growing season." 

Industrial operations are naming their companies So & So Farms, but there aren't fields, only factories.

If you want to learn more, check out the documentary, FOOD, INC.
You can find the trailer here.


Ladies and Gentleman, Progress!

Meet the miniature pumpkin, cucumber and dill plants.

How to Store Coffee

After consulting the information super highway,
the survey says:
* * * * * * * * 
Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.  Air is the enemy.   So are extreme temps., so stay away from heat and away from the freezer!  The freezer will cause moisture that will rob your beans of their flavor & aroma. Best to grind beans as you use them, instead of all at once.   I don't mind the extra minute in the morning-
it adds to the ritual.



The "Dirty Dozen"

I admit that sometimes my pocketbook makes me choose between organic or not.  
If you find yourself in the same situation, the items below are the most current "dirty dozen"; they are found to have the highest concentration of pesticides. 
Either grow your own or go organic on these guys:
  1. Celery
  2. Peaches
  3. Strawberries
  4. Apples
  5. Blueberries (Domestic)
  6. Nectarines
  7. Sweet Bell Peppers
  8. Spinach
  9. Collard Greens/Kale
  10. Cherries
  11. Potatoes
  12. Grapes (Imported)

Layers of Good.

I went to a fantastic workshop today at The Environmental Charter High School 
in Lawndale.   This school makes me wish I was 15 again.  
Their experiential learning focuses on ecology and sustainability.
The school grounds are covered in fruits, vegetable and native plant gardens.  Above, rain barrels.
 The students compost, and run a native plants nursery.


The workshop was hosted by From Lot to Spot, a non-profit that helps turn empty lots into an important community space.
The presentation was put on by Chris and Claudia from  
They discussed the effects of colonization on indigenous peoples diets and health. They reviewed the importance of eating locally, seasonally, and consciously; the importance to both our physical and mental health.  And they discussed the industrialization and politics of our current food state.
Imagine if Gustavo Esteva and Michael Pollan had a love child.....fantastic!

Chris and Claudia prepared and shared some vegan goods.
They served posole de zetas; a mexican soup with a red chili base. It had mushrooms and hominy, and was topped with fresh onions, cilantro, radish & cabbage.  VERY VERY GOOD.  
There was also a wrap with homemade hummus, avocado, red onion and verdolaga.

Don't be jealous, check out their sites and get a little for yourself people!


When Eating Heathly Can Hurt.

Yikes, another recall-
Salmonella outbreak found in alfalfa sprouts, from a California farm.
(Caldwell Fresh Foods of Maywood.)

How to Make Butter!

Do this now- you won't be sorry.

I used a pint of HEAVY WHIPPING CREAM.  Let it come to room temp. by sitting out on the counter for about an hour.  Do not skip this step or use heat to warm it.
Put cream in a jar with 50% empty space.
The next step will replace your work out for the day: shake, shake, shake the jar.  
Keep shaking.
Peaks will start to form, which means you're almost there. Keep shaking.
Suddenly the butter will separate itself from the buttermilk.  Shake a few more times.
Separate the butter from the buttermilk.  (I'll use that later to make a salad dressing.)
*very important*....add water and shake/rise the butter.  Drain & repeat a few times until the water is clear.  This is so important since if you leave buttermilk it will not let the butter keep for very long.
The butter goes into a bowl, and you can add about a 1/4 tsp of salt if you'd like.
This is also the time to add in anything to flavor the butter- I used herbs from my garden- rosemary, thyme and some garlic.
Into the fridge for at least 30 minutes to let it set up.  If you want to use a mold to shape it, that's sweet.  You can make a brick shape using wax paper too.



Who knew?

It's National Strawberry Picking Day!

Make Sun Tea!

Jug of water + tea bags + sun  
=   SUN TEA!
Use any type of tea, and in a few hours, enjoy!
....Brought to you by the people who enjoying slowing themselves.

Chickens in your yard?

Assuming you're like me, a chicken in your yard sounds both crazy and exciting.
The lovely people over at Chicken Revolution are a resource for those of us who wonder about a chicken in the city.  There is a great links section, and literature on getting you started to navigate your local government.

Brussels Sprouts 101

Brussels Sprouts  are a great little vegetable, with a bad reputation.  
They are part of the cabbage family, brought to America around 1800 by French Settlers.  Idea temps. range from 45 to 75 degrees, which translates to California being the major producer for the U.S.
They contain good amounts of vitamin A, C, folic acid and dietary fiber.
Moreover, they are believed to protect against colon cancer due to their containing sinigrin.

Harvest: June through January.

Cooking methods include steaming, roasting or boiling.  
To ensure even cooking throughout choose similar sized buds. 
Whatever cooking method is employed, overcooking is avoided. Overcooking releases the glucosinolate sinigrin, which has a stinky sulfurous odor. That odor is the reason many people profess HATE of brussels sprouts.  Generally 6–7 minutes boiled or steamed is enough to cook them thoroughly, without overcooking and releasing the sinigrin.

 Some farmers markets will sell the entire stalk, which is a show stopper.  Bring one of these home for thanksgiving to cook, or when you have guests over.  Fancy business!

My favorite recipe to get haters to love:
Just be careful not to overcook of the leaves will start to get crispy weird.

Here are some shots from my kitchen, last night:
My man (who hates brussels sprouts) loves these!



Time for Lunch

Slow Food USA has a great project called Time for Lunch.
Their efforts have made progress in bringing fresh & healthy foods to our schools.
Check in to see how you can help!
Their advocacy is having and effect on policy, but our grassroots involvement is what makes it happen.