Wednesdays at the CSA: Recipes at Last! 4th of July Potato Salad with Green Beans and Salsa Verde

June 30th, 2010

For years now, I’ve been blogging about my wonderful CSA. I love it. I love everything about it.  The biodynamic food, of course, is delicious – out of this world good. The atmosphere is more Berkeley than Bethesda. It’s like a mini-vacation into another world every time I head over there, a few short blocks from my home.

June 23 share photo

But cooking?

That’s what my husband does.  I really don’t know how to cook.

Now I have a wonderful surprise for you: each week this summer I’ll be featuring a recipe and post from guest blogger Mattie Kahn.  A green teen and foodie, she’s also, as you’ll see, a wonderful writer. And she knows how to cook! She’ll be at culinary school in the fall, but for now, we get to enjoy her explorations with my weekly CSA share.

– Lynn

Think summer picnic. Go ahead. Picture it, you can close your eyes if you need to. If you’re like me, you’re probably envisioning a rolling, green lawn, a checked blanket, friends, family, kids–company of some kind, anyway, maybe, if you’re feeling optimistic, a warm mid-summer breeze, and definitely a picnic basket. The picnic baskets that dot my childhood memories were always filled with some variation on sandwiches, salad, brownies, and watermelon. My siblings and I munched on PB&J in Central Park, tuna-cucumber along the pier on the Hudson River, even an adventurous spread of hummus and veggies on a pebbly Cape Cod beach.

But my most persistent summer picnic memory is the sweet, salty taste of the perfect, cold potato salad, carted along in some container to satisfy every picnic participant, every time. My family’s trademark German-style potato salad–meaning, a mustard-based dressing–was so pervasive, that it wasn’t until I was ten or eleven that I’d ever tasted a potato salad made with mayonnaise. Since then, I’ve been to many more picnics, with families other than my own, and sometimes just with friends. I’ve tasted a LOT of potato salads.

With fourth of July around the corner, and this week’s CSA share list boasting delicious, flavor-packed new potatoes, and brimming with other potato salad ingredients, I thought I’d introduce you all to a potato salad that’s a little more adventurous than your average picnic side-dish fare. This one’s lightly adapted from the geniuses over at Food and Wine magazine, and it’s been a staff favorite over there for ages. Embrace the vibrant flavor of salsa verde as a delicious and unexpected dressing for this salad. In it’s original Food and Wine incarnation, the recipe is made with green beans, but being a green peas lover as I am, and because peas appeared on the CSA sharelist this week, I decided to sub out the beans for peas. Enjoy!

peasphoto

Potato Salad with Green Beans and Salsa Verde:

Ingredients:

1. 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2. 1/4 cup minced chives

3. 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley (another CSA sharelist goody!)

4. 2 tablespoons finely chopped mint or cilantro, or a mix of both, depending on your taste preferences

5. 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

6. 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

7. 1 large garlic clove, minced

8. Salt

9. 1 1/4 pounds new red potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

10. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

11. 1 1/2 pounds green peas, fresh if you can find them! They’re in season.

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the olive oil with the chives, parsley, mint or cilantro, lemon zest, lemon juice and garlic and season with salt. Let the salsa verde stand at room temperature for 15 minutes to 1 hour.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, cover the potatoes with cold water, add a large pinch of salt (Kosher salt, if you have it on hand) and bring to a boil. Cook the potatoes over moderately high heat until just tender, about 8 minutes; drain and return them to the saucepan. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt.
  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the peas and cook until tender, but not mushy, 3-4 minutes; drain. Return the beans to the pot and stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter. Season with salt.
  4. Add half of the salsa verde to the potatoes and half to the peas, stirring to coat. Transfer the peas to a serving bowl. Top with the potatoes, and serve. Keeping this potato salad warm lends the potatoes and added velvety texture, but from my trial experience, it’s just as delicious after being cooled in the fridge!

Enjoy your holiday weekend!

- Mattie

Copyright 2010 OrganicMania

10 Things I Learned (Or Was Reminded Of) at TedXOilSpill

June 29th, 2010

Yesterday I attended an amazing series of lectures by some of the world’s foremost experts on marine biology, alternative fuels, and more….People from California, New York, Boston, and elsewhere converged on the Woolly Mammoth Theatre in DC for TedxOilSpill. Running from 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. (and with a cocktail party still going strong when I begged off just before 9 p.m.), TedxOilSpill was a revelation. You can watch the videos as they’re uploaded here, read the #TedXOilSpill tweetstream or just check out my list below of  the top 10 Things I learned (or was reminded of) at TedXOilSpill.

1. Women are brave. It was a female scientist – Dr. Susan Shaw – who said she was told she was crazy to swim in the Gulf. She wanted to know the impact of the oil on marine life. The impact on her? She got sick. Her throat felt like it was “on fire.” After a few days, she was fine. Unfortunately, the fish don’t get a chance to climb out of the Gulf’s waters. They won’t recover so easily. Instead, Dr. Shaw predicts a dire future for marine mammals exposed to so much oil:  “chemical pneumonia,” liver and brain disease, tumors, lesions, and other horrible afflictions. If you want to watch one TedxOilSpill talk, I suggest you watch Dr. Shaw. (She speaks at 56:30).

2. Truly, no one has any idea of the impact of the dispersants used in the Gulf. Dr. Shaw said the toxicologists are going crazy trying to figure it out. Part of the problem is that industry is not required to disclose what is IN the dispersants. She showed the ingredients list the scientists finally obtained: full of “derivatives” and “distellants” – meaningless terms designed to protect trade secrets. Dr. Carl Safina demonstrated what happens when you mix a dispersant with oil and water: everything became a cloudy soup.  The implication was clear:  putting dispersants in the Gulf is only making things worse. No longer floating on top of the water, the oil is mixed throughout, along with chemicals of unknown origin, with unfathomable impact on marine life.

3.  The environmental field is a broad one.  I was surprised that with all the focus on chemicals, not one speaker mentioned that NOW is the time we can do something about the over-use of untested and unregulated chemicals  by supporting overhaul of the Toxic Substances Control Act. Learn more here. The non-profits advocates fighting for TSCA reform – Healthy Child, Healthy World; Moms Rising; Environmental Working Group, and the broad-based Safer Chemicals Coalition -have been focusing on outreach to Moms, but the overuse of chemicals impacts us all. It’s time to call your Congressional representative. NOW.

4.  Bad news about the environment and its impact on animals  is usually underestimated. A chart showing the fall-out estimated from the Exxon Valdez was superimposed on a chart showing what actually happened. Suffice to say: not a pretty picture. (Some species, like the killer whales, never recovered.)

5.  Did you know that 30% of all species of wildlife are expected to be extinct in the next 30 years? And that estimate was made BEFORE the oil spill.

6. I was reminded that the oil platform exploded on Earth Day.  Talk about irony.

7. Not all biofuels are created equal. Remember the furor over corn-based biofuels? Algae provides another option for biofuel, and it doesn’t require the use of arable land or potable water.

8. I keep hearing that electric vehicles will only be good for short trips. Not true. The Tesla can go 244 miles on a single charge. Sure, most of us can’t afford it, but Tesla Motors is using Tesla Technology to develop other, less expensive models such as a  sedan, the S Model.

9. We all know it’s not just about the animals. It’s not just about the fish. It’s not just about the fishermen, or their way of life. Or the culture in the Gulf. But did you ever think of the history that lies at the ocean floor? I heard an AU professor tell us, with a catch in his voice, about the shipwrecks that will be decimated by the oil.

10. Christen Lien has composed (or more accurately) is composing an instrumental piece inspired by her visit to the Gulf. Listening to it, you can almost hear the animals crying for help and the oil rushing in. Viola, harmonica, synthesizer….it is  incredible music.  Her performance capped the end to the conference.

And do you know what? I really learned MORE than just these ten things…but that’s a post for a different night!

I’d love to know what you learned…or what you think about all this…please leave a comment and share!

– Lynn

Copyright 2010 OrganicMania

Green Moms Carnival is Up!

June 22nd, 2010

Head on over to Fake Plastic Fish, that great blog about living life with less plastic, to see the amusing compilation of “day in the life” posts that Beth put together. I learned a lot, and I’m sure you will too!

Lynn

A Day In The Life: When Advocating for Green Is Easier Than Being Green

June 19th, 2010

I was amused last week when I saw these tweets from a California conference. “Green is Mainstream.”  “It’s not a differentiator.” “It’s just what everyone does.”

Really? Maybe I need another trip to California. (But of course, that wouldn’t be too green.)

For this month’s Green Moms’ Carnival, Beth of Fake Plastic Fish challenged the Green Moms to write about a “Day in the Life,” reflecting on the “green steps we take as well as the green challenges we face and the hard decisions we have to make.”

As luck would have it, I chose a day that ended up revealing a sad truth: sometimes it’s easier to advocate for green than to be green. Does that make me a hypocrite? Or does it just show how much more work we have to do before being green in Maryland is as easy as being green in California?

But back to my day….It was Wednesday, June 9th, cloudy and overcast, and threatening showers as I closed the front door. I was heading out  to the Bethesda Green Incubator, where my business is located. I was on time (mindful that running late invariably results in taking the car instead of walking), ready for an easy 15 minute walk.

But I hesitated.

The sky was dark. What if it rained? I  had my laptop, after all. I wouldn’t want that to get soaked, would I? I debated. I thought about Beth. I thought about the Carnival. I thought about water seeping through my bag, damaging my laptop. The minutes crept away. I was on the verge of being late. I took the car. It’s not a Hybrid.  It consumes oil, the very kind that’s seeping into the Gulf.

BG entrancephoto

At the Incubator, I walked out to our model-green reception area to meet Ariana Kelly, a Moms Rising advocate and candidate for the Maryland State House.

I told her the Bethesda Green story: how the community came together – business, government, and residents – to take on volunteer projects to make our community more sustainable. I pointed out the cork floors, the low VoC paints, the rain barrel displays, the permaculture exhibit, specimen seed library, and solar panels.

Then we walked across the street for lunch (so far, so good) and ate a lunch that assuredly was not sustainable. (After all, when it’s sustainably raised seafood they charge more for it and advertise it as such, don’t they?)  At least our conversation was green. We talked about all that Maryland was doing with B Corp legislation and the BPA ban, and the Bethesda Green Business Delegation that met in Annapolis recently.

The Bethesda Green Delegation was sure to snap a pic of Bethesda's own Honest Tea on the steps of the State Capitol

Then I ran out to retrieve my car, soon discovering the day’s first stroke of Bad Green Karma. A parking ticket.I should have walked. Not a drop of rain fell from the sky. And now I owed $40. My lunch had suddenly became quite expensive.

Later that afternoon, I picked Boo up from preschool, wincing as he carried some Pepperidge Farm goldfish in a plastic cup out the door. Every day, I dutifully packed reusable containers. Couldn’t they be used to pack up snacks?, I wondered. Must remember to bring that up to the teachers, I thought, as I dashed out the door to my car  (yet again). After all, we had to hurry to make it to the CSA pick-up, and then on to the end-of-year  Cub Scout picnic.

Soon, I stood at the CSA, hurriedly weighing  the fresh-picked biodynamic and organic produce. Scallions? Check. Apples? Natch.  Radishes, swiss chard, kale, fresh-baked bread, lettuce, they all went into my re-usable bag.

csascalephoto

I heard Boo fussing, and asked him to be patient and wait for Mommy.   I was in a hurry, after all, and there were four people behind me, waiting to use the scale.

Then I heard it.

CRASH.

Tiny bits of crushed Pepperidge Farm goldfish – all over the pristine garage  floor of the CSA. Ev eryone froze, looked at Boo, and then looked at me. I sighed and said, “That’s what happens when you dare to bring Pepperidge Farm goldfish to a biodynamic CSA. God strikes you down.”

After the laughter died down, a broom appeared, everything was swept up, and we were off on our way to the picnic.

I was in such a hurry, I didn’t bother to check directions before I left the house. And my in-car navigator (Big Boy) wasn’t with me….he had left ahead of time with his friends and their Mom. So I overshot the park. Sat, idling (burning more of that fuel) in front of an apartment building 1 /4 mile from the turn-off for the park, frantically navigating my iPhone, trying to figure out where I was supposed to be.

(Maybe at this point I should mention my DH was on Day Seven of an extended business trip. The one where he gets to hang out in a castle by the Mediterranean Sea. And I was spent from playing Single Mom for a week).

sardeniaIMG00006-20090603-1224sardenia

Finally, we arrived at the picnic, eager to partake in the festivities. I frowned at the hot dogs and hamburgers, thinking of the heavy burden conventional farming techniques, especially those used to rear cattle and pork, place on our ecosystem. I helped myself to some salad, trying to ignore Boo’s pleas for a hotdog or hamburger, before finally giving in. Their father, the committed vegetarian, was out of town. And we so rarely had meat. They even had a grill! I ended up eating some myself.

waterphoto

But the bottled water? That was just beyond the pale. I hurried out to my car to retrieve my stainless steel water bottle. At least I had remembered that! When I returned, my friend smirked and asked me to look closely at the bottled water. They weren’t drinking water, she said.

wine in waterbottlephoto

I burst out laughing. Cub Scout parents surreptitiously drinking wine from empty water bottles? It brought back memories of alcohol snuck into parties when I was under-age. It was too funny. I had to have some! (Just on general principle!) But how? I only had my water bottle, and Boo needed some water. My not-so-green friend eyed me, amusedly. She knew exactly the calculation I was making.

“I’m not touching those plastic bottles!” I hissed.

I asked Boo if he wanted some more water.

“No, I’m fine,” he told me.

“Drink up, “ I urged. “There won’t be any more water.”

“I’M FINE!!!”

I dumped the rest of the water out of my re-usable water bottle and smiled contentedly as her husband filled it part way with the red wine. It wasn’t that good, actually, but it was the absurdity of the situation that made it worthwhile.

wineincanisterphoto

“Mama, can I have some more water?”

That’s when I gave up and opened one of those darn plastic water bottles.

(And made a mental note to see if we couldn’t procure some large water jugs for the next Cub Scout picnic.)

And decided that I had more than enough material for a  decent “Day in the Life” post.

Easy to be green? Maybe in California. But not where I live.

What about you?

– Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2010

Do Dads Get a Bum Deal on Father’s Day?

June 14th, 2010

fathers-day

“Just look at this!” DH exclaimed, gazing at the selection of grilling guides artfully arranged in the bookstore in anticipation of Father’s Day .

“You Moms get spa outings and retreats on Mother’s Day! Us Dads? We’re expected to fire up the grill. And now, we can’t even do that right! You Green Moms are telling us we have to learn how to grill green!”

I laughed, but then I reconsidered. Gee, I realized, school’s even out for Father’s Day. No artfully decorated gifts from the kiddos, carefully project-managed by the kids’ teachers. No, it’s all up to the kiddos and/or Mom to figure out how to commemorate Father’s Day.

What do you think? Do we need to reinvent how we celebrate Father’s Day? What are your traditions? And what are your favorite “green gifts” for a green Dad?

I may also update this old post about what Green Dads want for Father’s Day! If you want to be included, leave a comment below or @ me on Twitter @organicmania!

– Lynn

(Note: This is a reprint of a blog post from 2008. Figured it stood the test of time, so I’d re-spin it! What do you think?)

Finally, Beach Food Meets Its Match: Fruit Stands On (Near) The Board Walk?

June 7th, 2010

Who doesn’t love the beach? I sure do.

kidsbeachphoto

The sun, the sand, the kids, the views….

But  the snacks sold on the boardwalk do nothing for a beach body.

You know the drill.

Soda. Pizza. Ice Cream.  Taffy. Chips.

beachsnacksphoto

So I was beyond excited over Memorial Day weekend when I spied this little stand set up a stone’s throw from the Rehoboth Beach boardwalk.

sberries

“It’s a trial,” the woman selling strawberries told me.

Determined to support that trial, I bought two cartons of the fresh, local Delaware-grown  strawberries.  (They weren’t even organic, and I still bought them!)

So this last weekend when I hit Rehoboth Avenue once again, I set out to look for my favorite beach fruit stand.

But sadly, it wasn’t there.

1ststphoto

What gives? Worried that my one healthy “street food” choice was gone, I called the fruit stand’s owners, Fifer Orchards.

And I’ve got good news for all you fresh fruit fanatics: the stand will be back on the 4th of July, and hopefully most weekends thereafter till August.

What about you? Have you seen fruit stands near your favorite boardwalk before?

– Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2010