Friday, June 29, 2012

Floral Salad

So, in naming my blog "cheap, quick, local" I fully intended to focus on really quick meals made with inexpensive seasonal ingredients. I have realized (and written about) the fact that most of these recipes are not particularly "quick". I really like to cook, and spend over an hour most days in the kitchen.

Here is an idea for jazzing up a summer salad that is actually really really fast. Just add flowers. In addition to fresh, local, organic lettuce harvested minutes before this picture was taken at Kings Valley Gardens we added Day Lilies and Calendula petals. I have eaten pansies before and, to be honest, don't find them particularly tasty. The Day Lilies have a really delicate and subtly sweet flavor. They don't just look pretty (although they do look very pretty) They really improve the salad. And if you have Day Lilies growing in your garden they take all of about 30 seconds to add to a salad. See! Cheap, quick AND local!... If you have Day Lilies... I will work on some ideas that fit the bill and don't require specialty products.

Savory Blueberry Sauce

Lentil Walnut loaf, asparagus, and savory blueberry sauce
Shaun was making dinner one evening a couple of days ago and John, one of the farmers, challenged him to a kumquat sauce. Shaun had his hands pretty full with a lovely dinner, but I decided to take up the challenge. There are no kumquats growing at Kings Valley (or anywhere in Oregon as far as I know) but as I have mentioned, Kings Valley Gardens has some of the best blueberries in all of oregon, and they have a lot of them! 

The full meal was:
Lentil Walnut Loaf
Roasted Asparagus
Blueberry Sauce
Blueberry "Cheesecake"

We got the recipe for the Lentil Walnut Loaf from Angela Liddon at Oh She Glows. I think this is the third time we made it (including one time for Shaun's parents who are fairly dedicated carnivores) and there are a lot of steps, but an amazing result.

To roast asparagus: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Wash asparagus and cut the tough ends off. Some people say you should only eat asparagus the width of your pinky - I think they are crazy. After eating roughly one ton of asparagus, because when it's in season it's in SEASON, I would say the thick spears are every bit as delicious as the pencil thin ones, plus they are bigger! Anyway, thick or thin, you sill want to cut the ends off. Spread a couple of tablespoons of oil on a cookie sheet and lay asparagus in a single layer. Cook for 8 minutes.

Blueberry Sauce
1/4 onion chopped
1 tbsp oil (or enough to keep the onion from sticking)
2 cups blueberries (I used frozen but I don't think it matters)
1 tbsp dried tarragon
salt and pepper to taste

Saute onion in oil using a small sauce pan. Add all other ingredients and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes or sauce has thickened to your desired consistency.

This meal is best consumed outside by candlelight :)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Formal Submission for the Blueberry Dessert Research Institute

Enjoying a "sweet" blueberry dessert by candle light -
sorry it's hard to see the actual dessert. I will have to make
another one and take a better picture

 Kings Valley Gardens has about a 1/2 acre of blueberries. This equates to a lot of blueberries… and blueberry desserts. Past WWOOFers formed the Blueberry Dessert Research Institute to document their experimentation with… blueberry desserts (kind of self explanatory). Apparently the past favorite was a blueberry bar.

I wanted to do something kind of like a cheesecake, or a blueberry cream pie. But we eat primarily the food grown on the farm and this food is primarily vegan. Coming up with a way to make the dessert creamy was going to be a challenge. One of the people living here is also gluten intolerant and does not eat much refined sugar so I wanted to make sure that she would be able to enjoy the pie as well. I have seen several recipes for vegan cheesecake using either tofu or cashews. The tofu available had been previously frozen which is awesome for stir fry but means that it is more spongy and less creamy. Cashews are really expensive. 

So what do we have plenty of that is kind of creamy?… Beans! When I worked at the county health department one if the WIC recipes we gave clients was for a low fat pecan pie featuring pinto beans so I knew there was a precedent for a sweet bean pie. After some quick googling I found a white bean pie recipe to serve as inspiration (though I think I tweaked it enough that it can be considered original). 

Blueberry "Cheesecake"
dairy, egg, gluten, and refined sugar free
Makes about 8 servings

I got the crust from This Rawsome Vegan Life
1 cup nuts (I used walnuts)
1 cup dried fruits (usually dates but I used dried plums from the farm)
1 Tbsp water (if necessary)

Blueberries from Kings Valley Gardens, Oregon
Cheesecake Filling
3 cups cooked white beans (it helps if they are very well cooked to the point that they are disintegrating)
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
pinch of salt

Blueberry Topping
1 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
1/4 cup water
pinch of salt
2 Tbsp Corn Starch or arrow root powder

Equipment: Food Processor OR Blender 8 inch cake pan OR 9 inch pie plate OR spring form pan

To Assemble
Crust: Process nuts in blender or food processor until they are a coarse powder. Remove and place in the baking dish that you chose (pie plate, spring form etc.). Process dried fruit until it is a paste. I had to add the tbsp of water to get this to work, but if you are using a more moist fruit such as a date water may not be necessary. You may also be able to process the nuts and the dried fruit at the same time. The blender I was using is kind of old and I was worried that the fruit would gum it up and the nuts wouldn't get chopped fine enough. Mix fruit paste and nuts with your fingers, you can do this directly in the baking dish. Press crust mixture into the bottom of your baking dish.

Blueberry Topping: Put blueberries and water in a small sauce pan. Sprinkle corn starch over the blueberries and stir with a whisk or form to prevent lumps. Simmer until the blueberries start to break down. You may need to add more water if it seems like the blueberries are sticking to the bottom of the pan. You want a thick sauce at the end. This will take about 5 min. if using fresh berries, and a little longer if you are using frozen. If the sauce does not thicken you can add more corn starch.

Creamy Filling: Blend all ingredients and pour into prepared crust (if you have extra filling save it to eat as "pudding" . 

Pour blueberry topping over the creamy filling. If you have extra save to eat with the "pudding". 

Refrigerate pie for at least an hour

I was kind of surprised at how well this pie turned out.  It opened up a whole new world of creamy pie possibilities.  Plus it's healthy enough that you can eat it for breakfast without any guilt (I often eat pie for breakfast, but this one's probably a better breakfast than most). We couldn't decide if it beats blueberry bars, but I did get points for originality :)

Friday, June 22, 2012

New and Improved How to Make Bread for a Crowd

My last post talked about bread making, but I realized did not give very good job of actually describing "how to make bread for a crowd", though it did have some lovely pictures of Shaun kneading bread with his feet (which is the key). I figured most people only want to make one or two loaves at a time, but just in case... I spoke with Andrea, the farmer at Kings Valley Gardens, about posting her recipe on my blog and she was OK with it (she's awesome). So here it is:

Basic Whole Wheat Bread
Makes about 10 loaves

5 cups luke warm water (about the 103 degrees, or baby's bath water)
1/4 cup active fry yeast
5 Tbsp Sugar

Combine above ingredients in a medium sized bowl, cover with a towel and allow to sit for 10 minutes in a warm spot. We leave ours in the hoop house, but you could also set it beside a heater, or just turn the oven on for a couple of minutes (2) and then turn it off. This is the "proof"

After you have your proof combine the following ingredients in a large, clean container (we used a 5 gallon bucket)

1 cup sugar
10 cups lukewarm water
1 cup canola oil
3 Tbsp salt
1 quart millet
1 quart buckwheat
1 quart sunflower seeds
the "proof"

Once you have mixed the above ingredients begin adding 26 to 32 cups of flour. Add the flour a couple of cups at a time and mix until it is combined. It is helpful to have one person mixing and one person adding flour as you eventually have to use your hands to mix and they will quickly become covered in dough. When you can no longer stir the additional flour in with a spoon, begin using your hands to incorporate it. You want the dough to reach a consistency where it no longer seems wet and does not cling to your hands as readily.

Turn the dough onto a clean lightly floured board and knead (with your feet!) for 15 minutes. To knead with your feet it is helpful to have someone help you. First, wash your feet very well. Second stomp the dough out until it is flat. The person helping should then fold it back into a tight square and you can stomp it down again. Repeat for 15 minutes.

Coat the bucket, or other large container, with oil and place the dough back in it. The person with clean feet should stomp the dough down in the bucket for a minute or so. Cover the bucket with a towel and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk (about an hour).

Dump the dough back onto the clean, floured board (add some more flour) and begin cutting off chunks that are about the size of a loaf of bread. Knead each chunk for a couple of minutes and then shape it into a loaf. Place each "loaf" into a greased loaf pan, or if you are making round loaves, onto a greased cookie tray. Place all of the loaves (about 10) into the oven and turn it on warm for 2 minutes then turn the oven off. Allow the bread to rise for about 30 minutes and then...

Turn the oven to 350 degrees and bake for 50 to 60 minutes. You may want to switch the loaves between the bottom and top racks about half way through.

At Kings Valley Gardens 10 loaves of bread seems to last for two weeks to a month (depending on how many WWOOFers are here and how much they like bread). We freeze the bread in two layers of plastic (trash can bags work well) and then take a loaf out to thaw when we are running low. Fresh bread goes bad kind of quickly in my experience so it is important to eat it quickly (and usually not that difficult)

mmm, I can actually smell fresh bread baking right now! and it is one of the most wonderful scents in the world.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

How to Make Bread for a Crowd

10 lovely, local, loaves of bread fresh out of the oven
NOTE: This article includes a recipe for making two loaves, for a more detailed description of making bread for a "crowd" look here.

So apparently the secret to making bread for a crowd is... knead it with your feet. Something I recently learned about bread making is that it is the gluten that allows it to rise. Wheat gluten looks kind of like long viscous strands (appetizing right?). Anyway, these strands form kind of a net and trap the air bubbles that the yeast give off as they eat sugar and poop gas (again, super appetizing).

The gluten also provides structure as the bread rises. Whole wheat flower has less gluten than white flower so that's why 100% whole wheat loves are often really dense. When I first learned this I started adding vital wheat gluten, which is what's used to make seitan. This works pretty well. I even more recently learned that kneading bread is what helps the gluten develop, so instead of adding extra gluten, you can also knead for longer. If you are making 10 loaves at a time, which is the way we roll at Kings Valley Gardens, kneading takes a toll on your wrists and hands. Kneading with your feet helps you avoid this trouble, and is novel enough that it remains fun for the full 15 minutes required to develop the gluten. Shaun was selected for the actual kneading as he had by far the biggest feet (size 13) and don't worry he washed them very well!
10 lovely, local, loaves, in the oven

Living in Minnesota we have no problem accessing wheat and whole wheat flour that was grown within a couple of hours of the Twin Cities. Usually our flour comes from Whole Grain Milling. It is not so easy on the Willamette Valley (where we are WWOOFing for the summer). In the past a great deal of grain was grown here, but more recently farmers have switched to grass seed. Thanks in part to work done by the Bean and Grain Project there has been some return to grain cops in the area. The flour we used for this bread was grown down the road near Corvallis.

The recipe that Andrea uses at Kings Valley is Adapted from May All be Fed, Diet for a New World by Tom Robbins. I am using his recipe (and slightly adapting it myself) since I figure not everyone wants to make 10 loaves at a time? And because Andrea is working on a cook book and I don't want to give away any of her secrets. You can just multiply the recipe by 4 if you are trying to bake for a crowd.

Ocean's Bobs of Love Bread
(Makes Two Loaves)
Shaun using his big feet to knead
1 cup like warm water
2 1/2 teaspoons or 1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup canola or safflower oil
2 tsp salt
6 to 7 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup millet
Oil for brushing the loaves

Mix water, yeast and honey and let stand about 5 minutes (the yeast should be dissolved and kind of foamy). Add two cups of the flouer and all other ingredients. Continue adding the flour until you have a fairly stiff dough. Sprinkle some flour on your work surface and knead the bread for 15 minutes or until the texture is similar to an air lobe (as someone once told me). 

Shaping the dough into loaves
If you are going to knead with your feet it is helpful to have someone help you by folding the dough over before you stomp it down. If you are kneading with your hands start with a ball and press it down with the heel of your han, fold it over and press it down again. Repeat as necessary. 

After you are done kneading place the dough in a bowl and cover it lightly with a towel. Place the bowl in a somewhat warm area where it will not be disturbed. I usually put it a turned off oven. Wait for about an hour and a half until the dough has doubled in size. Knead it again for 10 to 15 minutes and then shape into loaves. Let the loaves rise for another hour or so and bake them at 350 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Spring! Beet Gratin with Mint and Feta

The other day I went to happy hour with some co-workers, several of whom are part of the career services department. We ended up discussing the common interview question "if you were a vegetable what type of vegetable would you be?". Here's a tip: Employers are apparently looking for self awareness, do you know what your skills are? As well as critical thinking and the ability to link ideas.

Anyway, I said that if I were a vegetable I would be a beet because they are traditional but they are also purple (unlike many other traditional vegetables) so they change things up. They are also earthy and sweet. It needs some work. Also beets are my favorite vegetable, but you are apparently not supposed to say that if asked in a job interview. It doesn't show critical thinking. Luckily I am not applying for jobs right now.

This recipe for beet gratin came from epicurious I think this is a good spring recipe because, as I mentioned, beets are my favorite vegetable and they are available in spring. I think mint makes everything taste fresh. Gratins often seem heavy, more appropriate for winter. This on is light, little sweet, a little salty, and creamy. In terms of "cheap" "quick" and "local" right now it's not too difficult to get beets and mint locally and they are both affordable. Well, affordable if you have a source for mint other than the grocery store as it is expensive in the store but grows like a weed. The cream is expensive and not particularly healthy. When I made this originally I used the cream, because I wanted something somewhat rich and special. I will have to try making it with lower fat milk, or possibly just the feta cheese and post about that later.

Epicurious suggested serving this dish with lamb, which I think would be great. Even though several of these posts include meat, I don't actually eat meat very often. Legumes are generally much more affordable, and meat is a special treat. I served this with a lentil pot pie. The lentil pot pie was good, but I still haven't mastered pie crust so I am not going to post about it. But pretty much you could follow any recipe for a pot pie or Shepard's pie and just substitute an equal amount of COOKED lentils for the meat (lentils expand so you wouldn't want to sub dry lentils) I really like lentils as a meat substitute. I think the texture works well and they are quick and versatile. 
  • 3 2 1/2- to 3-inch-diameter red beets, trimmed, scrubbed
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 fresh mint sprigs plus 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint (for garnish)
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled, smashed Butter (for dish)
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place beets in small baking dish. Add enough water to reach depth of 1/4 inch. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Cover tightly with foil. Bake until beets are tender, about 50 minutes. Uncover carefully (steam will be released) and cool. Peel beets; cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill.

Preheat oven to 425°F. Bring cream, mint sprigs, and garlic to boil in heavy small saucepan. Remove from heat, cover, and let steep 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, lightly butter 1 1/2-quart gratin dish or other shallow baking dish. Arrange sliced beets in even layers in dish, sprinkling each layer lightly with salt. Strain cream mixture over beets in dish. Sprinkle feta over. Bake until cream is bubbling at edges and feta is browned in spots, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle pepper and chopped mint over. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

What is Healthy

The Farm House at Kings Valley
This post could also be called a slice of humble pie. I am really proud of how healthy I eat. Last year my roommate regularly commented that my partner and I were the healthiest people he knew, which I definitely enjoyed hearing. I also feel like I generally do a lot to live sustainably. To me how I eat and the impact on the environment are very much linked. 

I mentioned previously that Shaun and I have been WWOOFing at Kings Valley Gardens. The experience has lead me to question how healthy my diet is. Since being here I have realized that I cannot sit on my laurels and say that I am eating healthy enough and doing enough to reduce my environmental impact. John and Andrea, who own Kings Valley gardens, are inspirational in terms of eating healthy food, but also living simply and sustainably, being joyous, and just generally living a life in line with their values.

Homemade AND homegrown canned goods
They grow a huge percentage of the food they eat at Kings Valley which is amazingly awesome. The diet is predominantly vegan. We do eat eggs that come from a neighbor's chickens. I think the food choices come from a limit on space and time on the farm and a desire to be able to leave for a weekend occasionally (apparently animals make it much harder to take a vacation). Though I have eaten vegan meals on occasion for a long time, going an entire day without dairy products is new to me.

At home we eat a lot of cheese and I drink a lot of milk. We bought local milk for a little bit, but if got relatively expensive. Dairy is something that thus far we have not prioritized in terms of buying a more sustainable version of and yet consume a lot of. This is something that I have felt bad about in the past, but feel particularly guilty about now. We also got lazy last winter when it got difficult to purchase local produce and organic produce seemed to get more expensive, probably because it was being shipped further. We slipped into purchasing mostly conventional produce and more exotic items such as bananas.

In addition to being vegan there is very little refined sugar, no caffein and no alcohol. I don't eat a lot of sugar, but do consume more alcohol and caffein than I probably should. It's not that we can't have these things it's that they are not provided as part of the work trade for WWOOFinh and we are trying to save money so we can't purchase them regularly. From a public health standpoint it is a great illustration of how the environment shapes decision. From a different type public health standpoint I also feel more understanding of smokers who resent smoking bans in public places as I hide coffee in my room so that I can enjoy my vice in peace.

All of the WWOOFers learning how to transplant things
Both of these things, the change in diet and the restriction of vice, have been frustrating at times. But I am also grateful for the opportunity to remove myself from day to day pressures and focus on living simply, joyfully, sustainably, and I would say healthily. I don't thing I want to become a farmer but I do want to bring some aspects of this life back with me to the "real world". I am still trying to figure out which aspects those will be. How I can recommit myself to being healthy in all ways. Hopefully this will provide some fodder for this blog throughout the next couple of months.

How do you live sustainably in an urban or rural environment? What is your definition of healthy?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Summer Menu #3 Stew

This is the last of the menus that I came up with for Cooking Matters.  Stew may seem like an odd choice for summer but what I really wanted to feature was the slow cooker. I think slow cookers are a really handy appliance since they allow you to do a little bit of prep before work and come home to an already made dinner.

Both the early and late summer menus use dry legumes which will take planning a day in advance, BUT dried legumes are inexpensive and nutritious (great sources of protein!). You can also use canned beans, but they are more expensive, and often high in sodium. Every decision has its positives and its negatives.

Early summer menu:

Garbanzo and Kale stew
Brown Rice
Banana Pudding with Flaked Coconut

Items to look for at the farmers market: Kale

Garbanzo and Kale Stew
makes 4 servings
Kale is a super food and very high in iron and calcium. Kale tolerates cold temperatures, so it is one of the first local produce items available in the spring.  
luckily I am able to get a lot of locally produced dried beans in Minneapolis at the grocery co-ops including garbanzos. I also usually use barley instead of rice because I like the chewy texture and it is grown locally, which makes this a very local dish (with the major exception of the coconut and bananas) You can also use any green you like. Spinach works well, and if you are using frozen you don’t even need to defrost since it will be cooked in the slow cooker.

1 cup dried garbanzos
1 bunch kale
1 onion chopped
2 cloves of garlic chopped
1 tbsp curry powder
½ tsp pepper flakes (or to taste)
½ can light coconut milk

One day before you plan to eat this meal soak the garbanzo beans in water overnight. The next morning drain the garbanzos in the slow cooker with the other ingredients, except the kale. Pour about 8 cups of water in. Cook on low for 8 hours. If the water starts to look low, feel free to add more. Wash and roughly chop the kale and add to the slow cooker for the last hour of cooking (or when you start the rice).

Brown Rice
For 4 cups of rice
Boil 4 cups of water (I like to use vegetable or chicken broth instead of water). When the water is boiling add 2 cups of dried brown rice, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 40 to 50 minutes or until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender.

Banana Pudding -
I used bananas in this recipe because they are delicious and I thought would go well with the curry in the stew, but you could use any fruit you like. You likely won't find bananas at the farmers market (actually you can find them at the downtown Minneapolis Market but they still aren't local and I think this is an odd choice for a market), but berries are always a good bet.

Makes 4 servings

2 cups low fat or non-fat milk
⅓ cup sugar
¼ cup corn starch
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 bananas
4 Tbsp shredded coconut

Mix sugar and corn starch in a small saucepan. Turn heat to low and slowly add the milk while continuing to stir with a whisk or a fork. Continue stirring more or less constantly until the mixture thickens. It wont be as thick as pudding until it has had time to set, but it will be thicker than milk. Remove from heat and add vanilla and salt and refrigerate until it’s time for dessert.

When you are ready to serve dessert slice ½ banana into a small bowl and top with ½ cup of pudding and 1 tbsp of shredded coconut. Repeat for each serving.

Late Summer
Kale prefers cooler weather so you are more likely to find it at the beginning and end of the summer. At the peak of summer I think this stew would be delicious with eggplant. Or maybe I just like the novelty of purple vegetables. Instead of kale wash one eggplant, cut it into bite size chunks and add it to the stew at the beginning (not the last hour like the kale).

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Summer Menu #2 BBQ

The highlight of this menu is the homemade BBQ Sauce. Growing up my dad barbecued outside every Friday rain or shine and even though I don't eat much meat anymore BBQ still holds a special place in my heart. Right now I live in an apartment and don’t actually have a barbeque, but I have found that broiling things for a couple of minutes on each side works almost as well, though you do miss that nice smokey flavor and it does heat the house up a bit. The following menu features the barbecue sauce that my dad always used for ribs, which he only made in the summer for some reason so that's why I thought of this dish when developing summer menues. Ribs are a pretty fatty cut of meat and since I am developing these menues as part of a nutrition education project I suggested chicken or tempeh or tofu, like I said the star is the sauce, so what you put it on is secondary.

1) Early Summer
BBQ or broiled chicken or tofu or tempeh... or whatever you prefer
steamed broccoli
roasted potatoes
custard w/fruit

What to look for at the farmers market: broccoli, potatoes, strawberries or whatever type of fruit you like 

1) Late summer
BBQ or baked chicken/tofu/tempeh
sauteed zucchini
corn on the cob
custard w/fruit

What to look for at the farmers market: zucchini, sweet corn, peaches or whatever type of fruit you prefer.
½ cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp oil
1 cup catsup
½ cup water
¼ cup brown sugar
3 tbsp worcestershire sauce
¼ tsp ground thyme
1 tsp salt
2 tsp prepared mustard
1 lemon thinly slices
dash tabasco sauce (or to taste)

Saute onion in oil over medium heat until onion is translucent. Add garlic and cook another 30 seconds. Add all other ingredients and allow to simmer on low heat for five minute.

Use half of the sauce to marinate whatever you are going to grill. Grilled chicken is always delicious. Boneless skinless chicken breasts are good, but often kind of expensive. I like to use boneless skinless chicken thighs or chicken with the bones and skin still on. I don’t eat the skin though, since that is where most of the fat is. That being said, I don’t actually eat a lot of meat so I usually use tofu or tempeh. If you are using tofu or tempeh you don’t have to divide the sauce in half to marinate it since you don’t have to worry about raw meat contamination.

You can marinate the chicken (or whatever you are grilling) for as long as you want, but I would recommend at least an hour. After it has marinated grill or broil it for 5 to 6 minutes on each side, or until there is no pink. If you are using tofu or tempeh grill or broil it for as long as you like since again, you don’t need to worry about meat contamination.  

Sides Early Summer

At the beginning of the summer broccoli is in season. Broccoli cooks pretty quickly, so you can cut up the broccoli at any point but don’t start cooking it until the chicken or tofu is almost done. I usually cut broccoli into bite size pieces and steam it. Many people don’t eat the stalk, but I think it is delicious. Sometimes the outer layer of the stock can be tough, but you can cut it off and the inner part is still tender. I steam broccoli by putting it in a pan with about an inch of water and cooking it covered on medium high for eight minutes. When you do this many of the nutrients go into the water, I actually drink the water as “broccoli tea”, I have heard it is also good for plants.

I suggest serving roasted potatoes. Start the potatoes first so that they can cook while you are grilling the chicken or tofu. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut three or four potatoes (any type) into small pieces. It can be fun to cut them so that they look like french fries. Put the potatoes onto a large baking sheet and toss them with two tbsp of olive oil, a ¼ tsp of salt, ½ tsp of pepper and any other seasoning that you like. Garlic powder and/or paprika are good choices. Spread the potatoes out so they are in a single layer. Bake the potatoes for 20 minutes and then flip them over and bake for another 20 minutes

Sides Late Summer

In late summer, like August, zucchini is prolific! If you are already grilling the chicken or tofu you can throw the zucchini the grill as well. Cut the zucchini lengthwise into four or five pieces that are thin but several inches long and a couple of inches wide (this will vary by the size of your zucchini) marinate the slices in oil and vinegar or salad dressing for about 10 minutes and then grill them for about 2 minutes on each side. If you are not grilling you can also cook the zucchini on the stove. I like to slice the zucchini into thin circles and cook them for about five minutes with 1 tbsp of oil over medium heat.

Corn is the grain in this meal and there isn’t anything better than fresh sweet corn in August. Begin bringing a large pot of water to boil, the water should be sufficient to cover all of the corn you plan to cook. It can take a while for the water to boil so while you wait remove the outer green leaves and stringy “silk”. Cook the corn in the water for three or four minutes.


I recommend serving custard with this meal. The following recipe is for a basic vanilla custard, which is good on its own, or you can top it with whatever seasonal fruit you have on hand. Strawberries might be a good choice in June and peaches would be tasty in August.  I love making custard because it is super easy, tasty, and a high in calcium as well as protein.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

2 cups skim milk
2 eggs
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
oil for greasing pan

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Dip a paper towel in vegetable oil and spread a small amount of oil around 6 muffin cups on a muffin pan. Blend all ingredients and pour into prepared muffin pan. Bake for 40 minutes or until the custard is set and no longer seems liquidy.