A Sweet & Spicy Snack Mix
My husband is off to ski for the weekend with some buddies, so I thought I would make up a big batch of home-made snack mix for the boys to munch on. If you have ever even glanced at the nutritional information or the ingredients of the popular pre-bagged mix, you’ll know why I’d prefer to make my own! Plus, it’s more fun to personalize it with your own favorites and snack a little in the process. Below is a recipe using some of my favorites that I found in about 10 minutes just walking through the bulk and cereal isle at the co-op.
Sweet & Spicy Healthy Mix
makes about 12 cups
Preheat the oven to 350, and prepare 2 sheet pans with a non-stick cooking spray.
the sweet and spicy kick:
Combine in a small bowl with a whisk and set aside:
4 Tbsp. Wizards Worcestershire Sauce
4 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. chilli powder
1 clove of garlic, minced (or 1/2 Tbsp. garlic powder)
-Pour the worcestershire-honey mixture over the cereal mix and gently stir to distribute as evenly as possible.
-Spread the mixture over the 2 pans and bake for about 15-20 minutes, stirring gently 1-2 times during the baking.
-Let the mixture cool either on paper towels or new pans. Once the mixture has cooled completely, gently mix in the “good stuff.
The best thing about this recipe is that you can really make it your own by changing the amounts of the ingredients you like, or don’t like, and by adding your own “good stuff” like raisins, sunflower seeds, nuts, or chocolate covered something or other. Be creative and go crazy.
What is it about certain labels that they are so hard to get off? After trying to use my short nails to scratch off the above label (on an airport security compliant 3 oz fluid container) I figured there had to be a better alternative that was non-toxic and hopefully easier.
Sure enough, on Planet Green, a solution was provided. I let the bottle soak in canola-vegetable oil for about 30 minutes and then soaked it in warm soapy water for another half hour. Then I used a scrub brush and viola! the label came off rather effortlessly.
I imagine this technique would also work wonderfully for glass bottles and other containers that can then be used again and again.
Cottage Pie Gone Local
This time of year, everyone’s in the mood for some good ’ol comfort food and this local twist on Shepherd’s Pie fits the bill. Cottage Pie, or “Shepherd’s Pie” is traditionally an English dish made up of ground meat, mashed potato and seasonings. But this Squash Topped Cottage Pie in the most recent issue of Eating Well caught my eye as I new I could incorporate some of my favorite local ingredients, one being squash of course.
I made this a mostly-local dish by making a few changes to the original recipe found here. First, I used a whole, local Butternut Squash from a local farm instead of frozen squash chunks, which did add some time to the dish but it really is pretty simple to bake, scoop, and puree the real deal. Also, I used local ground beef, local whole garlic instead of garlic powder and a little bit of local cheddar cheese finely shredded over the top (instead of the Parmesan). And finally, I used one big pot instead of individual ramekins (only because I don’t have 10 oz. ramekins), baking the dish for about 15 minutes first and then finishing it off under the broiler. Makes 4 generous, yummy, servings.
How Low Can You Go?
By the time late February rolls around, I feel like winter has lasted forever and I can’t wait for a little warmth. Even if you are using “green” power, don’t let Old Man Winter tempt you to give in and crank up the heat.
According to Domino Magazine (who came out with their green issue this month), for every degree you lower your heat between 70 and 60 degrees, you’ll save about 5% on heating costs. Plus, studies show it may also help you fall asleep more quickly and have a more restful sleep once you do.
Personally speaking, my husband and I keep our house at 64 degrees. How low can you go?
Have you tried this wonderful little seed yet? It’s a hulled hemp seed. It’s a nutritional powerhouse, packed with all of the essential amino acids (the building blocks of protein) and with a balanced source of essential fatty acids (Omega 3, 6, & 9), just a couple tablespoons delivers around 10 grams of protein and a healthy dose of these “good fats.”
I’ve been adding it to my post-workout morning smoothie and it’s also a must have for this tasty dressing. But you can also try it sprinkled into salads, cereals or as a non-dairy milk-like beverage when blended with water and dates. You can even get pretty creative with these healthy hemp recipes.
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and very thinly sliced into rounds
Heat the oil, over medium high heat, in a large non-stick pan. When the oil is hot, carefully add the potatoes, overlapping them in the pan. Turn the heat down to medium.
Do not stir or move the potatoes. After a few minutes, check them to see if they are browned on the bottom. When they are golden brown, flip them over (don’t worry if you break them as you do this).
Break the eggs and add them to the pan, distributing them evenly. Stir them gently with a fork to break the yolks and cook them until they are cooked through.
Going Local with Victoria Wesseler
Tell us some more about GOING LOCAL and what inspired you to start it?
After taking early retirement from a business ethics and regulatory compliance consulting business that I founded and ran for twelve years, I wanted to do something totally different with the next phase of my life. Something that combined my love for gardening, food preservation, and cooking and helping people be successful in those pursuits. My friends kept telling me that they loved my homemade food, recipes, and gardening tips and that I should find a way to share that information on a larger scale.
One night on a flight coming back from a business trip in Seattle, I got the idea for a blog site which could be used to do just that. I chose to focus my content on Indiana local food-something I am very passionate about-while still providing the cooking and gardening information. The name "GOING LOCAL" and the logo just came to me. The image of that logo was so clear in my mind and the concept felt so right that I knew I had to pursue it! The site was launched in September 2007.
On GOING LOCAL, visitors get information to help them discover, celebrate, and savor the abundance of Indiana’s fresh, in-season, and local foods. It’s a community for people who want:
- Sources for delicious, healthy, locally grown, and in-season foods.
- Information about Indiana farmers, businesses, and individuals who grow, raise, produce, and sell local foods.
- Recipes and tips for preparing seasonal dishes that are healthy, quick, easy, and delicious.
- To share thoughts, ideas, and experiences for "Going Local" in Indiana.
My goal is for GOING LOCAL to be the "go to" site for Indiana local food lovers. Interestingly enough, I do get quite a few out of state visitors since much of the information about cooking, preserving, and gardening can be useful to anyone. And many of the Indiana producers ship their products around the country so those not living in Indiana can still enjoy many of the great food items that I feature on the site.
You mentioned that the idea of preserving foods was first introduced to you by your husband, who grew up on a Southern Indiana farm. Does the same hold true for eating locally, or was that something you began doing at an earlier age?
Growing up, I never wanted to learn how to cook. The kitchen was the last place you’d find me standing in on a regular basis! It wasn’t until I divorced in my late 30s and took a few cooking classes that I began to cook for myself and appreciate the value of using fresh, in-season ingredients. As my interest in cooking grew, I began to seek out quality ingredients and that lead me to discover local farmers markets and local food producers. But my heartfelt passion for local food really grew when I married Robert in 1994 and we began working in our own vegetable gardens. We now have 7 acres where we grow and preserve about 50% of all the food that we eat.
Your culinary skills are exceptional to say the least. Do you think that being a good cook makes eating locally easier?
That is really a huge compliment, given my late start in the kitchen! But I think it’s just the opposite. Eating locally makes you a better cook. When you have ingredients that are fresh and flavorful, you really need to do very little to them to make an outstanding dish. The recipes on the GOING LOCAL site are very simple because my assumption is that when you make them, you are going to use fresh, in-season fruits, vegetables and herbs; and/or locally produced meats, eggs, honey, and dairy products. With ingredients like that, the less you do to them, the better the final dish will taste.
What’s your favorite recipe at the moment (or of all time)?
My favorite recipe of the moment is whatever I’m making with something that’s fresh, local, and in-season. My favorite recipe of all time is my late mother’s frittata because it has great sentimental value to me and reflects my philosophy that good ingredients prepared simply will always produce the best meals (and sometimes, as in the case of this special recipe, the best memories).
Eat Your Brussels Sprouts!
Believe it or not, this past fall was the first time I have ever had brussels sprouts! Just the mention of them usually evokes strong feelings one way or the other for most people, they either love them or, most likely, hate them.
I grew up having a balanced, home-cooked meal almost every night with everyone in the family at the table together, but I think that someone must have disliked them as we never had brussels sprouts that I can recall. In fact, it was last fall when my Mom was visiting that inspired me to give them a try.
We first tried them boiled and plain, which I’ll admit was pretty boring. But I’ve since tried several different recipes and my two favorites are this one and this one (pictured above). My husband actually asks me to buy brussel sprouts now!
Brussels sprouts are a cruciferous veggie similar to cabbage, high in vitamins C and K, and full of fiber. But one of the most valuable nutrients from these little cabbage-like heads is sulforaphane, a phytonutrient that helps boost the body’s ability to protect against diseases like cancer. And they are usually in season this time of year, so don’t shy away, find some local brussels sprouts and and try one of the recipes above.
I love local fruits and veggies, but I like to use the winter months (when local veggies are a bit harder to find) to experiment with non-local veggies, such as jicama and kohlrabi.
My friend Susie was the first to tell me about Kohlrabi (until then I had never heard of it) and I took her advice of just eating it raw. To do this, you have to first cut off the long leafy stalks (which are in fact, edible) and cut away the outer skin. Unlike jicama, which is thirst-quenching and sweet, kohlrabi in crunchy with a flavorful kick (similar to a radish).
Despite their different tastes, Kohlrabi is also a common ingredient in slaw but can also be roasted. Another common trait that Kohlrabi shares with jicama is that it is low in calories and is also a good source of fiber and vitamin C (One cup of raw kohlrabi contains 140% of the RDA of vitamin C.)
So if you are looking for something unique, try some jicama or kohlrabi. Or if you are looking for a veggie that is more common but tends to get a bad rap, check back tomorrow when Liz will cover the vegetable that everyone loves to hate (until they try it!).
12 Months of Local Foods
I mentioned the Regional Farm and Food Project a few weeks ago in my post about the “local links” in the Capital District here in upstate NY, but I just have take a minute to mention this great calendar available on their website.
Each month highlights not only a beautiful picture and brief history of a nearby farm, but a delicious recipe from a farm or local restaurant, a list of in season foods, a healthy eating tip, and a green living tip too!
February features Hawthorne Valley Farm and a couple quick sauerkraut salad recipes. My favorite of the two is pictured above, a nice mix of raw sauerkraut, shredded carrots, chopped dates, a tiny bit of finely chopped jalapeno and a drizzle of oil. It takes about 5 minutes to put together and needs to site for 20 minutes to allow all the flavors to come out. It’s delicious!
The calendar is available on the Regional Farm and Food Project website for $15 or for free with a $50 membership donation. If you live in the area and are interested in an easy way to keep up with what’s in season and where your local foods come from, then it’s a must have.