Archive | October, 2013

Boo: Scary White Bread

31 Oct
by Deanne

Boo!Phot of scary white bread sandwich

I made this blurry ghost of sandwich out of sourdough bread from our new local baker to wish you a Happy Halloween.  I also wanted to tell you about resistant starch.  That is starch that acts more like fiber when metabolized.

You have probably heard that eating white bread is not a good idea because it spikes our blood sugar level worse than if we were eating Halloween candy. If a person is diabetic or pre-diabetic this is a true concern. 

Well it turns out that there has been research that tells us that sourdough bread does not raise a person’s glucose levels as much as breads made without the benefit of sourdough. However, extracted enzymes digest both types of bread equally as fast.

Bottom line: Sourdough is a traditional method that has been used since we first started to make bread.  There is more to metabolism than what begin to know. Scientists do find shortcuts to producing food but in the end, it causes trouble for us because they don’t understand the synergy of our complex metabolic process.

Check out the scientific study on resistant starches here.

Or here, If you’d like to read or listen to something less scientific.

 

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Another Way to Be Pink: Watermelon Radish Salad

29 Oct

By Deanne

When I was shopping at the farmers market on Saturday there were a lot of people running around with pink clothing and wigs.  Being a bit clueless, I finally realized that there must have been an event to raise awareness and money for breast cancer research.    

Photo of watermelon radish cut into matchsticks or ribbons

Have you heard the term pinkwashing? 

It is an ad and marketing campaign where a company or organization claims to care about breast cancer by promoting a pink ribbon product, but at the same time produces, manufactures and/or sells products that are linked to the disease.

One way to deal with pinkwashing is to learn more about the product you buy. 

In contrast to just mindlessly buying consumer packaged goods wrapped in pink ribbons, consider this Chinese proverb:

“Eating pungent radish and drinking hot tea, let the starved doctors beg on their knees.”

Digging a bit deeper, one learns that radishes are full of phytochemicals like zeaxanthin, lutein and beta-carotene. The lovely pink watermelon radish is a rich source of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

There seems to be a pattern unfolding on this real food journey:  nutrient-rich, plant based foods can have a large positive impact on our health.  If you agree, join me in developing a FarmerChef lifestyle by shopping and cooking mostly local and real foods. You might even consider planting a raised-bed garden.  It may seem overwhelming at first, but we can make it fun and make a difference to our health.

Francine introduced me to this pink beauty when she returned from China.  I picked one up at the Downtown Des Moines Farmers’ Market and decided to make this recipe.  A slight variation to Francine’s recipe which is also very good. The three spices:  cinnamon, turmeric, and cloves are added because of their health benefits and flavor. Photo of watermelon radish Photo of watermelon radish salad

Watermelon Radish Salad

  • 1 large watermelon radish, sliced as thinly as possible
  • 1 small white onion, also sliced thin
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper (fresh ground)
  • 2 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric

Use a peeler to remove the outside of the radish.  Slice radish and then cut slices into lovely pink ribbons. 

Slice onion and place in large mixing bowl.

In a smaller bowl mix the juice, oil, sea salt, pepper, rice wine vinegar, cinnamon, cloves, and turmeric and make a simple dressing to pour over the radish and onions.

Do you think it would be cool to pass out these radishes at the next #bepink event?  Imagine the conversations and education about the value of real food.

A Celebration of Local Food: Downtown Farmers’ Market

27 Oct
 by Deanne

Before I left Southwest Minnesota, many people told me about the weekly celebration of local food that occurs in downtown Des Moines every Saturday morning from May until October. Photo of crowd at DSM Downtown Farmers Market

I have been able to visit the market three times since we have arrived in September. This last Saturday was the final day for the market this year.   Photo of lovely colors at DSM Farmers Market

It was a brisk, yet bright and breezy day to take in the sounds (local entertainment), sights (bountiful displays of vegetables and fruit), and the tempting aromas (lots of food vendors).  I got a little distracted by the beautiful fall colors at the honey table but then I snapped into focus and started filling my bag with eggs, eggplant, apples, garlic, spaghetti squash, bok choy, and watermelon radish.

Photo of eggs, garlic, eggplant etc.

I so admire the spirit of the farmers who work hard all week and diligently arrive (from long distances) early in the morning to set up their booths. More than a few farmers wore costumes and held down their canopies as the breeze turned into winter-y gusts that ripped through the canyon of city blocks.

Photo of vendors in costumes

In the end, I found a brochure that lifted my spirits…The Winter Farmers’ Market in November in December. (It is inside!)

I had a chuckle from this article that was re-tweeted on Saturday.  It explains the five types of people you might see at the market.  Check it out…which one are you?

 

 

How to Bake Spaghetti Sqaush

26 Oct
 by Deanne

Baking spaghetti squash is a fun and easy way to be a FarmerChef.  If you have kids, get them involved in the part where you  “play” with your food by shredding the baked squash onto a plate and then topping it with this recipe from GamerKitchen chef, Luke.

Photo of Split SquashCarefully cut it open and scoop out the seeds.

Photo of Squash in Oven

Before turning the squash halves fleshy side down, brush them with oil and fresh pressed garlic.

Even if you live in city like I do, you can buy the your squash at a farmers market and place it in a tiny apartment-sized oven at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.

Photo of Steamy Squash

When it comes out steaming hot, let it cool until you are able to handle the squash and then scrape it with a fork.

Thank you Mother Nature for making a vegetable act like a yummy pasta dish!

For more  Winter Squash recipes check out Francine‘s posts:

What to do with all this squash I, II, III, IV, and V from our first fall of blogging. 

Photo of Shredding Squash

Damsons!

21 Oct
by Deanne

Photo of DamsensWhile visiting a PYO orchard during my recent visit to England, I discovered a new-to-me fruit called a damson.  They look like plums but are a tad smaller with a richer color of purple. According to what we read, they are sometimes quite tart. Photo of Damsen Picker Francine Ours must have been at just the right amount of ripeness because we ate more than our fair share.

Photo of a bowl of damsonsWhen we returned to Francine’s flat we looked through her River Cottage Cookbook to figure out what to do with them.

Francine decided to try this recipe from Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall.  It seems it is best to cook them with their skins and stones until the pesky things fall off.  She produced a beautiful rick looking sauce that we ate over lovely vanilla ice cream.

Damson Sauce

4 parts fruit

1 part sugar  (depending on desired sweetness)

Place damsons in a pan with water. (Check out the original recipe for for exact measurements) Bring to a simmer and cook gently, stirring regularly, for 10-15 minutes, until the fruit has collapsed and the stones have come free. Put the fruit in a sieve and rub through with a wooden spoon to remove the stones and skins. It makes a beautiful purple mess.  Don’t sweat the mess, relish it because it will surely create a vivid memory.  You will sweeten the damson purée by stirring in sugar to taste and leave to cool.

Have you heard of damsons?  Do you have any ideas on what to do with them?

Pick Your Own Apples and Memories

18 Oct
GrangeFarmShop
appleboxes
 by Deanne

One month ago today I landed at Heathrow and began an amazing three week visit with Francine and Scott. Last time we traveled to England, I discovered a new pastime: visiting farm shops! It didn’t take long to make a list of more to visit while I was there. One weekend we went to one for lunch and then went to another to “play” in their pick your own (PYO) apple orchard.

Scott drove us on narrow winding roads, next to pastures of sheep and through sudden patches of deep dark forests. We stopped for lunch at Cowdray Farm Shop and Cafe. Satisfied by a wholesome meal made with veggies and other goodies from the farm, we eagerly got back into the car so we could ride past more pastures and through even more woods. After a wander near a historic Tudor country home that is in ruins, we arrived at Grange Farm Shop. Photo of Cowdray House

Between picking apples, eating apples (they really do invite you to taste them) and snapping pictures of apples, we remembered the times we made applesauce, apple oatmeal cake and discovered a new-to-me fruit called a damson. I will share pictures and discuss damsons in the next post.

Photo of Apples in the Orchard

Photo of Fallen ApplesWhen I returned home, I learned that Steve had attended an event here in Des Moines called Forgotten Tastes.  He had the opportunity to taste over 60 varieties of heritage apples.(I am not sure how many he actually tasted. ) The event highlighted the work of Seed Savers Exchange near Decorah. In the late winter he will be helping to graft some trees so these old varieties can be re-introduced.

What apple memories did you make this year?

State of Wonder

15 Oct
by Deanne

A dandelion is magical. It looks like a little puffy flower designed to be plucked and blown away on the wind with a wish.

However to a homeowner with a green lawn they are a simply a weed: something to be controlled.

Steve and I made a BIG move last month.  Now I am a city dweller in a small studio apartment.  No dandelions here.  Not so fast,  I took a walk with the intention of learning to use my camera. The only picture that turned out (kinda) was this one. Photo of Dandelion

Has life gone the way of weeds or does it mean that now I am in a state of wonder where wishes really do come true?

Starting over is something I have done twenty times. Yes that’s right twenty dwellings in seven states from California to Pennsylvania.

Mostly it feels like I am in a state of wonder.  This new move really did come from a wish or a better word might be an intention.  I wanted to live in a place where I could easily walk to go about my day. When I made this desire known to myself and a few people close to me, I didn’t see how it would ever be possible. I was married to a farmer and in the past he always preferred to live in a rural area. (I am still married to the same farmer, he just wanted to explore this kind of living also.)

At the moment there are so many new choices and opportunities!  Sometimes however, it feels confusing, like I’ve wandered into the weeds.

Alas, I remember, that lost feeling comes with having new goals and being a beginner again.  Now, my wish is to learn to take my own photographs and grow my blogging skills.  This post is important to me because it marks a turning point and time to start again.  I will  be sharing new discoveries about real food and cooking.

I’m curious, what new wishes do you have?  Don’t be afraid to acknowledge them and then let go and see how things play out.