Live Green!Be Kind to the Earth
The last pumpkin of 2022 proved to be the inspiration for my number one favorite pumpkin cake ever. I will admit that all my tinkering to come up with something new led to a rather complex recipe, but a lot of my ingredients were holiday purchases. I just cleaned out the cupboards and, as often happens, I ended up creating a happy accident.
My new market friend MO (aka Marlene Schreiber) is a magically talented textile artist. Her feminine powers turn tossed out woolens into breathtaking tapestries. She is for sure a good (green) witch and the nicest person you will ever meet. Here is a faerie tale woven with love for my new friend MO and in celebration of loving just what we have…even if we give it away to new magic.
One of the many benefits of making this change is how delicious and nutritious things become—not just for the pollinators we hope to attract but for us, too. I thought a couple of recipes using what grows without any help in the backyard was worth its own post. Featured on our buffet today are stinging nettles, sweet violets and dandelions.
As the sun sets on Earth Day 2022, we may all be a little overwhelmed, a little lost and feeling far from home. Given the most recent report on climate change, we may all be feeling that the home we love—this beautiful planet Earth–has already slipped from our hands, that there are no magic ruby slippers to click to get us back before everything started to go terribly wrong. But I’d like to suggest that just like those ruby slippers Dorothy wore throughout her harrowing adventure in The Wizard of Oz, we’ve always had the power to “go home”–we’ve always had the power to heal and grow a healthy ecosystem right where we live, right in our own backyards.
With stores of hard sweet carrots from my crisper, a sturdy vermillion squash called Potimarron from the pantry shelf and rusty shallots snatched from my basement storage cart, orange becomes the new green! Steaming bowls of antioxidant power and beneficial beta keratin will warm us up and keep us healthy on cold winter afternoons and evenings.
I cannot think of a more autumn vegetable than squash—any kind from pumpkins, to butternuts, to Acorn. Squash is comfort food that can be served at breakfast—maybe in a hash or just roasted with maple syrup—enjoyed at lunch—as in little squash bowls filled with hearty grains—or for dinner, which is where we are landing today. A Squash and Potato Casserole that can be a weekend meal with plenty of leftovers or the star attraction for that Thanksgiving buffet.
I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting with goat milk—I was thinking sort of gamey and strong. I was so wrong! Eddie’s milk is sweet and light and unbelievably versatile. I’ve had it in coffee, on granola and, of course, in these oats. The overnight oats, by the way, are not only delicious but also quick and easy to prepare–great for busy school and work mornings when nutrition is so necessary, and time is so nonexistent.
What I love most about my Carrot and Fennel Top Quinoa Salad is that the ingredients help us avoid food waste while encouraging the use of really local ingredients. Furthermore, there are any number of variations you could incorporate into this dish as the market season progresses. So on to cleaning those tops!
I cannot imagine my kitchen without the spirits of my grandma and mom or the voices of my favorite chefs and best friends. In one way or another, they all have inspired, informed and contributed to every recipe I have ever developed. This has never been truer than in the development of these fluffy, rich rye rolls.
April marks the yearly celebration of Earth Day, something we try to honor every day in the Green Gal kitchen. And looking at my ingredients so far, I’m pretty pleased—vegan goodies like stored squash, garlic and garden herbs, all with nearly zero carbon footprint. But then a lightbulb went on in my little culinary brain—wouldn’t salmon be a nice way to pull fall and spring together in a creamy bisque? It would, but would it be ecologically sound? Earth Day, you know….
Recipes are more than just directions on food preparation; at least that’s my take on the rich and beautiful history of global eating. Recipes can tell us a lot about community and ecosystem connections, politics and history, the struggles and successes of races and cultures, even the intersectionality of cultures, religions, racism and power. Take the conversation between my friend Jane and me early this year….
We can learn a lot from the cycles of the seasons and the planning of gardens. Take for example the main ingredients in this hearty vegetarian riff on a traditional French classic, the cassoulet: squash, corn and beans, known to the Iroquois and Seneca as the Three Sisters, star in a comfy stovetop casserole, that pays homage not only to my own French heritage but also to the wisdom and Earth-knowledge of the indigenous people of North America.
Last year I made the decision to start ripping up my front yard—eventually I mean to rip up all my yard. The plan is to give back some of my land to the Earth: remember last year’s post She Went Native Right in the Front Yard? With the help of local native plant expert Tom Shirrell and my daughter Heather, I took out several feet of typical, useless suburban turf and handed it over to cone flowers, foxglove, monarda, hyssop, yarrow, milkweed and bee balm. A transformation from “doing something to the Earth” to “doing something for the Earth” had begun.
If you keep up with this blog, you’ve learned by now that I am the veggie lover and my husband Don is the meat lover. We do cross paths on occasion—I am a strong believer in quality bone broth as part of my healthy winter regime, and Don eats (for the most part and with only a small amount of continual reluctance) my vegetable concoctions. That said, neither of us is willing to adapt in any significant way to the other’s lifestyle. We agree to disagree.
So when I find a vegetable and ways to cook it that make Don clean his plate, it’s a repeater. Which is exactly what I hit on with this new eggplant-inspired curry. And don’t you think the name is just too cute? Hubba Bubba—what’s not to love about that?
It is summer! And for my family this year, it has been the season of gardening and living green. We finally expanded and fenced in our vegetable garden. If the crops fail, I won’t be blaming the deer this year. With a little luck and a lot of faith we may get some tomatoes, beans, potatoes, Brussel sprouts and kale. My little strawberry plant is still too small, but I did spy one tiny berry! I have expanded my herb garden, too, and our front yard is teeming with the pollinator plants I’ve been putting in for the past three years. While we will never be farmers, or herbalists, or native plant experts, it all feels wonderful. So satisfying. So connected to the Earth. And at the end of the day…I’m sore as hell and Don has a smell way beyond sweaty. You, too? I’ve got suggestions, so keep reading.
My featured cake gets heavy inspiration from a September 2009 issue of Delicious Living Magazine; the cake has become a family favorite that I’ve made annually, especially when brunch is happening in our house because it is so delicate, fragrant and subtly sweet–perfect for morning munching. When my daughter had to eliminate gluten from her diet, I created a modified version for her—a Strawberry Sunshine Cake that, while it’s not the same, is pretty delicious, too.
April may be the cruelest month according to poet T.S. Eliot, but for Don, it’s a food fiesta. Every April, we clean out the deep freeze, defrost and scrub it, getting it ready for the new market season ahead. Everything’s gotta go, and for Don it’s sort of like when you were little and the electricity went out and you had 10 gallons of ice cream beginning to melt. Gotta go, right?
Here’s Don: “Look! Another package of ham hocks!” “Did you forget about these ribs?!” “Pork chops…who knew they were buried beneath those green beans!” Yes, meat extravaganza doesn’t even cover the giddiness. But for me, it was all about that one-pound bag of green beans.
I’d like you to meet a new special friend: Here’s Maya, or rather Maya Two. She’s a gift from my friend Jane Zappia—yep Pop’s Pies Jane Zappia. Jane called at the end of March and said: “Would you like some sourdough starter? I have more than I need.” OMG. Can you say Soooooo Hippie! Of course I would!