Thursday, August 30, 2007

cherry tomato profusion solution

halve or quarter tomartoes. add chopped marinated mozzarella, salt, pepper, basil. serve with buttery garlicy toast. so. good. good ingredients really make it easy on the cook.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

so many things to do with cherry tomatoes

here's something you can do with a pint of cherry tomatoes: halve. throw in a hot pan with oil and garlic. toss around. add pasta and blue cheese. spend 10 minutes scarfing it down in complete bliss. what else do you do? i'm really asking here. some ideas: caprese cherry tomato sauce from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (see below) pop 'em in your mouth pawn them off on friends, loved ones, and co-workers tlt salad (tempeh bacon, lettuce, tomato) throw in a pan with sauteed zucchini and eggplant heat and top some garlic-rubbed toast

Monday, August 27, 2007

tomatoes galore

long story short, they put a padlock on the garden, and my key doesn't work. i didn't attend to my poor crop for about a week until my fence-hopping adventure tonight. what does a girl do with so many cherry tomatoes?
the term "fence-hopping" sounds so much more graceful than what actually occurred.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

black bean cakes

a tasty change from plain old beans, rice, and greens:

from deborah madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, which i have on loan from the library, but will make it onto this year's christmas list. her recipe calls for cilantro and lime, but i had neither, so, basically, this is smashed black beans, cumin, salt, and a little grated cheddar cheese with a generous splash of red wine vinegar. leave the mixture in the fridge about 15 minutes to make it easier to handle, then form patties a 1/2 inch thick. spinkle both sides with cornmeal. pan-fry in a heavy skillet for about 10 minutes a side, or until a crust forms. serve with salsa, to the delight of your husband. with each bite i thought, "wow, this IS good."

last night, i made the roasted pepper spread from VCFE for a neighborhood potluck, and served it with (storebought) cracked pepper crackers. the combination was really good. and leftover roasted pepper spread this morning with scrambled eggs? not bad, my friend!

can you tell the heat wasn't oppressive this weekend?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

my personal thermometer

since moving away from a temperate climate, i've learned a few things. during the winter, the difference between 20 degrees and 10 degrees can't really be felt right away. the difference you feel is in how long it takes your toes to get numb, or how long it takes your nose to thaw once you get back inside. for the summer? the difference between 90 and 100 is how fast i turn from resigned to cranky. this is one big, cranky town right now: the freshmen move-in was yesterday (and, somehow, this was the day i decided to drive to campus to meet brian for lunch?), it was 100 yesterday, 99 today, and supposed to be 97 tomorrow. needless to say, not a lot of cooking is going on. and i'm grumpy. the heat index is 94 degrees, and it's 9:00 at night. for crying out loud! we're OVER it. i can't even putter around the house for more than 10 minutes without carrying a high-powered fan, so i end up in the bedroom watching documentaries about penguins. all this is to say: sometimes, the sustainable kitchen throws in the towel, so to speak, and makes pasta with jarred sauce and toast for dinner. then gets the hell out of the kitchen. i'm okay with that.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

who's making sure our food is safe?

what, you mean other than these 12 governmental agencies? the more you look into this, the more it boggles the mind. the fda cannot recall foods? nope. companies weigh their options, then issue a voluntary recall. of course, if the company's food makes you sick, one of these 12 agencies, or a state or local agency, has cause to take action. that is, they will if they have time, or if you can prove what made you sick. can we all agree, in light of recent events, that eating cheap imported food isn't always the best idea? you get what you pay for, my friends. also, you'll want to watch out for Herring of Special Ambassador "7 Uzlov"


The sale of this type of fish is prohibited under New York State Agriculture and Markets regulations because Clostridium botulinum spores are more likely to be concentrated in the viscera than any other portion of the fish. Uneviscerated fish has been linked to outbreaks of botulism poisoning.

you know, i learn something new every day. thanks fda recall page!

one more reason to eat local: accountability.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

sustainability tip #1: be yourself.

okay - i seem to be the winning bidder in this ebay dress auction, but we can't be sure for about 15 minutes. are you on pins and needles? sustainability tip #1: be yourself. you don't need to call yourself an environmentalist, or a hippie, or a treehugger, etc., to use fewer resources and live more lightly. you don't need to tell people you're "going green." you don't need to call your entire family together to explain why you'll be embarking on a journey toward a lifestyle that's lighter on the environment ( you just have to tell them how to sort their recycling). you don't have to become a new person; you just have to change some behavior. and not even make a lot of changes at once. a little bit at a time is just fine. don't be discouraged if you find yourself regressing to your old, less-sustainable habits. just recognize them, call them temporary setbacks, and get back on track. so. maybe YOUR problem is your office has plastic-wrapped candy around (not my problem at all! *cough*) and you know that you shouldn't be scarfing the refined sugar then tossing the wrappers. candy is good. i forgive you. now start bringing paper and foil-wrapped organic chocolate to the office. you may wish to keep this in a separate room, or on another floor if necessary. when you want chocolate, you get the good stuff! isn't that better? by the way, you should feel under no obligation to share your chocolate with co-workers, though you might want to explain a little about fair-trade if so inclined. hey, i won a dress! whooo! problem solved! now, for new used shoes...

Monday, August 20, 2007

sustainability tips...

...start tomorrow. sorry, i've been spending waaay too much online time looking for a dress to wear to a wedding. when a girl moves from a city with a metro population of about a million to a college town with a population of about 80,000, the girl feels deprived of choices and may freak out about these decisions. sustainability tip: try to buy at local businesses. when you go through every store in town and can't find a thing, try ebay. buy early in case you need a backup or alterations. get measurements, and buy brands you've bought or tried on before. i just got a black wool banana republic dress from ebay. alterations cost twice as much as the dress itself, but it was still a good investment, that dress got a second life, and i got lot of compliments on it. beware: the mall might seem like a good idea, but it may prove highly demoralizing.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

bloomington coffee roasters update

almost forgot - you can now buy bloomington coffee roasters beans at the westside bloomingfoods. it's very possible it's at the other locations as well, but i haven't been there. she's tentatively opening up a storefront on west kirkwood after labor day.

locked out

the plan was to grab some tomatoes from the community garden for dinner tonight, but when i got there, i found the gate locked with a padlock for the first time this season. i had a key that seemed to fit, but no dice. my poor tomatoes. like they're not ignored enough. my favorite summer meal, at least right now, is simple: cut up tomatoes, smash some garlic, add olive oil, salt, pepper, vinegar, and cheese. let sit out an hour or so. add hot pasta and basil. toss. serve.

what could be simpler or more delicious, when you have good, fresh, flavorful tomatoes? i've been using half brandywines and half cherry tomatoes, since that's what i have on the vine, but romas or plums would be great as well. mozzarella is the classic choice, but i use whatever cheese we have on hand or that sounds good at the market.

i wish i could give you a recipe for this whole wheat breadmaker bread, but, as usual, it was something of a maverick concoction. i ran out of milk, so i used part yogurt, etc. i've been working out of this gigantic book from the library with hundreds, literally, of bread machine recipes. let's see. it's called The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook, and has 300 recipes. i also made a wholesome (read: half wheat) challah, but it didn't turn out quite right because a) my eggs were small, b) i lost count while measuring the flour, and c) i was supposed to take it out, shape it, and put it back in the maker, and i didn't. oh, well. it still worked for french toast.

i'm using mostly new rinkel flour these days. it's not milled within 100 miles, but it's close!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Bloomington: Dine Local tomorrow

just in case you haven't heard, tomorrow, a bunch of restaurants and groceries are doing local specials. so drop by and ask for it! Restaurant Tallent Lennie’s tutto bene Sahara Mart Deli Bloomington Bagel co. Roots Restaurant Nick’s English Hut Limestone Grille Upland Brewing co. Trulli Flatbread Bloomingfoods Deli personally, i'm not sure if we'll be participating, because the dining out budget for the month is pretty well spent, what with brian working nights the last few weeks...but that doesn't mean you can't! there's a good chance i'll swing by bloomington bagel, but that's nothing unusual. and i have a coupon! free bagel!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

mystery solved.

you can't use ultra-pasturized cream to make butter. it just won't work. however, if you just want something creamy to spread on toast (score!), you're in business. thanks for the advice, brother john. and thanks to the tipster who let me know that bloomingfoods west will soon (or very soon, anonymous tipster adds mysteriously) be carrying rogue smokey blue cheese. i've never had that particular type, and rogue isn't exactly local (for me anymore), but i can't wait. rogue blue cheese is pretty much my favorite thing to eat. yeah, i know.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

almost sustainable kitchen post 100

hey, look! 100 posts. good for me. we've had 1288 "unique visitors" (hi, friend!) and i've learned a lot about food and sustainability since just april. my next challenge will be one posed over at crunchy chicken:

Chapter 20: The Perfect Meal In the spirit of Local Food Month, I'd like to propose a meal similar to the one Michael Pollan enjoyed in this final chapter. The rules are a little looser than his, but the concept is the same - get to know intimately where all the food comes from that makes up one meal. Think of it as an ├╝ber-local meal.Here are the rules for "The Perfect Meal":

1. Everything on the menu must have been hunted/fished, gathered (including U-Pick), or grown by you.

2. Everything must be made from scratch (this includes pasta, bread, etc.)

3. The menu should feature at least one representative of each edible kingdom: animal (vegetarians can skip this one), vegetable and fungus (only if still available and, since I don't want to kill anyone, just use local mushrooms)

4. Everything served must be in season and fresh

5. You have to cook the meal yourself

6. You have to invite at least a few guests to share this meal with you, preferably those that have helped you in acquiring the foods

You have a couple weeks to plan and work on this one. I'll have you post pictures and a report of this "Perfect Meal" by August 20th. I'll do a follow-up post in the intervening time.

geez, that's hard! i don't know if i'll be out hunting and gathering all my own food for a meal in the next week or so, but i will plan a menu with as much local food as possible, all homemade. and as much from my own garden as possible, but let's be honest here. the garden is not that much to blog about. we could have tomatoes and basil, which would be very tasty, but not a very full menu.

this weekend it should be cool enough to actually host some friends for dinner.


for the record, my mind is boggled by the chemistry of my butter experiment last night. buttermilk separated out. if you just shake cream, it turns into butter? that's it? if i want melted butter for a recipe, will this stuff work? what about regular butter? it's not as solid as a stick of butter would be. help?

Sunday, August 12, 2007

keep an eye out for plastic.

no matter how earnestly one may attempt to go through one's daily life without accruing new plastic, one must keep out an eagle eye for those who portion goods out to us. this lesson was reinforced to me twice yesterday: once when i was chatting at the mushroom stand and didn't notice they were out of paper bags (my guard was down! they've always had paper!). the second incident was a little more disturbing to everyone involved, when i ended up kind of yelling at (let's say yelling "to") this nice older gentleman who wanted to give me a sample of soup in a styrofoam cup...long story short, he was bent on giving me a soup sample, i was trying to get him to stop, the whole thing was awkward, and he ended up giving me a soup sample in a plastic cup and THROWING AWAY the styrofoam. twice the unrecyclable mess. we kept the cup.
...then another girl at the deli came along and said we HAD to try the corn chowder - and i'm sorry to say it friends - the people in this place were all so very friendly and sweet, and i freaked them out. you know when your buddy wants you to have another drink at the end of the night, and you know that next drink would have dire consequences, but they keep pressing you, and you have to make an awkward social stand, like "no, pal, under no circumstances should you buy me a drink. i won't have any of it. it would just be a waste," and no one's happy? yeah.
anyway. i would totally recommend this place if they had real/recyclable/reusable serveware and silverware. the food was great!
on to happier things. a game, anyone? which came from the supermarket, and which came from a local farm?
first one to guess correctly gets a virtual pat on the back.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

the real meaning of community

as i crunched down the gravel path to the community garden plot tonight, water was flying in no discernible pattern around garden, but no heads were sticking above the foliage. geeez, i thought. i hope those kids are with someone. someone crouching down and gardening, maybe. no such luck. my plot's in the very back corner, and as i made my way through overgrown zucchinis, a small voice said, "hi." "hi." "we're watering the garden." "looks like you're watering your friends." "yeah." who am i to begrudge some kids some hose time when the heat index is close to 100 degrees? that's cool. so i start to pick some tomatoes and zucchini, pull up my sad, milky lettuce, weed a little. nothing too involved. i'm not really dressed for the garden. at one point, i get a little spray from the kids' ringleader, and she quickly apologizes. after a few minutes, my bossy instincts take over. "are you watering everyone's garden?" "yeah." "you know, most people want to water their own. sometimes, you can water too much. if you give a tomato too much water, it can split open." "oh." thoughtful pause. "do you want to use the hose?" "i will in a minute." the kids become more and more curious in my garden activities. "is there poison ivy in there?" "yeah, probably a little." "i don't touch that stuff!" etc. they help me bring the hose over so i can water my plot, which brings a younger boy and over to stick their fingers and heads in the stream and giggle and scream. the girl asks me to spray some water in her plastic bag. "what's in there?" "flowers for our wedding. we're getting married." "oh, congratulations." i ask if they think the tomatoes need more water, and when the girl cautions me against giving them too much, my heart swells a little. did i impart wisdom unto this child? forsooth. they both ask to pick a cherry tomato. the girl picks a somewhat ripe one and bites into it, interested. the boy picks a yellow one, bites into it, tears it apart, and throws it into the next bed. "sour." then he grabs another yellow one, i caution him that this one will be just as sour, but that doesn't slow this kid down. soon i feel a fat, wet sploCH, and it's not the kids sticking their hands in front of the stream. it's half the seeds from an under ripe cherry tomato, sprayed across my top. my skirt isn't unscathed. the boy gives me a sheepish grin and goes for another. "nope, i said one." after a moment, "okay." whew. i didn't want to have a battle on my hands there. the kids get a lesson in not walking in people's gardens (i'm full of lessons), and i'm on my way home for laundry damage control. when i walk in the bathroom to wash the sweat off my face, there's a big wet gooey tomato seed stuck smack in the middle of my cheek. kids. you like my new header? maybe i'll change the vegetables with the seasons.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

locals: suggestions?

does anyone in bloomington, indiana or surrounding environs have some restaurant tips? brian's parents (thanks, guys!) have generously offered to buy us dinner anywhere we want. why? because brian's going to be finishing his doctoral coursework on friday. waaa-hoo! that's definitely cause for celebration. so, let's hear it. we've been to scholar's inn, and i kind of hated it. i'm snobby about food that i pay for. is tallent really worth it? or is there a hidden gem somewhere around? is the story inn worth the drive, especially if that means foregoing the wine? who doesn't serve their tomatoes cold? MAN, that drives me nuts.

the kitchen is closed

temporarily. somehow, the stars have aligned so my dear husband will be working nights the next few days, which promise to hold record-breaking heat. and i didn't want to cook anyway! it's kismet! maybe tonight i'll eat up some of my cherry tomatoes and basil from the garden. or maybe i'll get a falafel and hang out at the library. or go to a movie. or just hang out in the cool room and try to decide on a recipe to make from this breadmaker book i got with over 300 recipes! 300! i keep opening it at different point and thinking, "i want to make that. oooh, i should make that. not that. i should make that this weekend. that looks good," etc. the breadmaker and slow cooker work for me in this, my time of need. and pure grumpiness due to the weather. morning ramble complete.

Monday, August 6, 2007

don't bust the budget!

ugh. a combination of lots of work + high temperatures + high humidity doesn't = high energy when one gets home. i've probably mentioned this (since people like to complain on their blogs, and i'm people), but our house lacks central air. we have an air conditioner in the bedroom, (or "cool room," as in "babe, i'll be in the cool room.") and the rest of our house is now 86 degrees. including this room. and the kitchen. etc. did i also mention that the air conditioning went out in the car? i wish this was more of an incentive to walk, but i can be a bit of a baby about the heat. hard to imagine, huh? speaking of walking, our walkscore, which everyone is blogging about right now, is 82. not bad! my former home in portland has a score of 91 (wow, but i'm not surprised), and my old apartment in eugene is a whopping 97. never missed having a car there, i can safely say. my parent's house scores 65, which is not bad for the suburbs, though it lists places that are NOT safe to walk to. or at least weren't when i was 16 and hoofing it. one place i don't mind strolling to in the oppressive muggy mess of the afternoon is to our new co-op branch, but this may start to be a problem fairly soon. i have very easy access to food that i want to buy, and, somehow, only $10 left in grocery money with 5 days left to go in the weekly budget. hmm. maybe it's a little TOO easy to stroll over and make last-minute decisions about picking up this and that. this kitchen needs some organization. it needs some order! it needs meal plans! i'll totally work on that tomorrow. during my lunch break. at work. with the air conditioning. because i can feel sweat dripping down my brow as i SIT here and BLOG which does NOT require much exertion. cool room, here i come!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

impress your friends and family!

nothing says "fancy" like food arranged in a stack:
(not that this is the best example, but it sure gussies up a fake chicken patty.) you can even call it a napoleon, if you'd like. according to, that wouldn't be exactly correct, but you're the chef. the food's whatever you call it.
for example, this morning we had "whole wheat maple crumbles" for breakfast. unfortunately, they were supposed to be pancakes. tip for bloomingtonians: if you buy flour from the woman at the farmer's market, get the "pastry flour." the "bread flour" is more like meal and won't work for things like...pancakes. yes, kelley learns these things the hard way and then reports them to you. no need for thanks.

Friday, August 3, 2007

i've seen it; it can be done.

we usually have pizza about once a week. if we don't meet friends to eat pizza, sometimes we'll order in or make our own. well, today i felt like pizza, but also like saving money since brian had to eat out for lunch, and did not feel at ALL like heating up a 400 degree+ oven. friends, i would like you to meet stovetop calzones:

mmm. my boss she encouraged me to go home early today due to my late thursday night at the morgan county fair (a food adventure all its own, and i'm sorry i didn't have a camera), so i had time to head to the store, pick up provisions, and throw this dough in the breadmaker. thanks, boss and breadmaker. without you, this meal wouldn't have been possible. walking 6 blocks out of my way to get pizza dough at rockit's in this heat was NOT happening. just got what looked best at the store for filling: local purple peppers, white eggplant, zucchini, and orange cherry tomatoes. also, now that we're out of local food month, i went for some fresh mozzerella and fell back in love with olives. if you want to know the truth, we ended up with a lot more filling than needed for one calzone, which is fine, because i made another for tomorrow's lunches, and the rest will be good over rice or potatoes...but none of the leftovers will have olives, because after clearing the plates i stood over the pan and picked them olives out. olives good. olive-free leftovers

calzone tips: cook vegetables with a lot of moisture before adding to calzone if you don't want a soggy mess on your hands. i went so far as to halve and seed the cherry tomatoes just in case. while at bloomingfoods, i had the chance to pick up the new grower's guide from the local grower's guild. check out page 14: u-pick berries! really! the website is currently non-functional, but here's the information as published: Heskerlew Farm 9015 S. Gore Road Bloomington, IN 47403 812-327-7391 About 10 miles south of town off old 37. call in advance. maybe i'll give them a call tomorrow morning if i wake up at a reasonable time. ha ha. it's a joke, get it? reasonable time. that's a good one.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

first garden-fresh tomato!

excuse the garden-fresh sweatiness.

hi. how are you? great!

hi blog friends. wow, this is a busy week at work. about 50 things seem to be happening at once. lots of 10-12 hour work days, and i'm staring at my piles of paper, thinking, "yep. i'm coming in this weekend." and this is only wednesday. however, busy translates to successful at this juncture, and good things are happening, so i really can't complain. watch this space for more tips on "what to eat when you're on the go!" for the next few days. lunch: half a blackened tofu sandwich from bloomingfoods dinner: half a blackened tofu sandwich from bloomingfoods okay, that's a bad example. but you have to admit it's efficient. what do i eat tomorrow when i'm working at a county fair during dinner? last year i had funnel cake and regretted it. soft pretzel?