Why Homemade Food is Better

In my forthcoming book, Eat Less Water, I list the top five action steps to initiate in your kitchen to save water. Cooking meals at home as much as possible is one of them. When you cook meals, you control the source of your ingredients. Only then can you ensure the food you eat is water sustainable.

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Water sustainable food minimally diverts water from its natural course. For example, dry farmed or rain-fed agriculture is grown with natural rain, green water, using no water from the ground or rivers and lakes. Since 7 out of every 10 gallons of water is used to grow food, we need to support farming methods that grow food with less water like dry farming, biodynamic farming, and rotational grazing.

Water sustainable food reduces pollution, with the elimination of chemical fertilizers, and pesticides. And it minimizes nutrient runoff of nitrogen and phosphorus, the largest contributor of dead zones in our oceans.

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To bring in the fall season, my girls baked a pumpkin pie. It wasn’t made from scratch. We swapped fresh pumpkins for canned organic pumpkin puree, and the organic crust was pre-made,  but the pie was homemade. The eggs came from a small local farm, Harvest Gathering Farm. No xanthan gum (derived from corn or soy the two largest GMO crops), palm oil, corn syrup or a dozen more additives, and preservatives were in our pie.

The fall season is a great time to usher in a practice of cooking more homemade food. Rivers, underground aquifers, and oceans need us in our kitchens. Take control of the ingredients in your food.

 

simple

Simple Organic Homemade Pumpkin Pie 

 

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Mix pumpkin, evaporated milk, eggs, spices and salt in medium bowl until smooth. Pour into crust. Bake 15 minutes.
  2. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F and continue baking 35 to 40 minutes or until knife inserted 1 inch from crust comes out clean. Cool and serve with homemade whipped cream. I use heavy whipping cream from Organic Valley Farms, sold nationwide. Or serve with homemade ice cream. Click here for recipe.

 

There is power in the collective.

Eat less water at the kitchen table!

Be well,

Florencia

 

 

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4 Tasty Earth Day Recipes to Save the Planet

Food is a delicious gift from planet earth. Celebrate Earth Day with a feast of flavor.

I offer you links to four recipes to eat your way through your Earth Day, including chocolate cake for dessert. But these recipes are a bit different than the standard. These recipes are designed to be action steps to building a healthy environment by encouraging us to reconsider our ingredients.

You will see words like organic, fair trade, dry farmed and pasture-raised. For example, the Stir-Fry recipe calls for organic tofu.While it may seem like no big deal to swap the conventionally grown tofu with the organic variety, it does make a difference to the quality of air, soil and water. Certified organic, non-GMO, fair-trade, and Demeter labels represent a food system that farms without chemicals, signaling to the eater that their food is grown using a system of farming Mother Nature intended.

Four meals alone are not going to save the planet, but you and I together will change the world with what we eat. Be an educated eater.

 

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Press here for recipe

You might also like this article:

This Earth Day Hug a Sustainable Farmer

Eat less water at the kitchen table.

There is power in the collective!

Be well,

Florencia

 

 

Why give fair-trade chocolate to your valentine: A recipe for chocolate cake

“Is this slave chocolate?” my son Joaquin asked after he swallowed a big piece.

Seventy percent of the world’s cocoa beans are grown in West Africa, much of it produced using enslaved child labor. An estimated 1.8 million children are involved in cocoa production in West Africa according to a Tulane University report . This disturbing child slave/chocolate connection led Iowa Senator Tom Harkin and New York Congressman Engel to create the Harkin-Engel Protocol of 2001 (Cocoa Protocol), aimed at reducing child labor in cocoa labor. More than a decade later the practice remains widespread in West Africa.

The chocolate I offered my son was not “slave chocolate” but Fair Trade Organic Chocolate I found at Trader Joe’s for under 2 bucks a bar. The chocolate is certified by Fair for Life.

Fair trade certification ensures workers are paid fair wages and provide good working conditions. Fair for Life, certified companies must comply with several environmental criteria that include water conservation and ecosystem management in addition to being certified organic. Fair Trade USA is another certification organization that requires both fair wages for workers and environmental responsibility.

Fair Trade USA reports on their website that Ben and Jerry’s is committed to purchase only fair trade ingredients for all their delicious ice creams and Nestle announced it’s Kit Kat to source Fair Trade cocoa in the United Kingdom. It is a start, but we got a long way to go.

This is where  we come in, you and me, who buy 58 million pounds of chocolate on Valentine’s alone. Together we can end child slavery in Africa AND support farmers who grow cocoa sustainably with our purchase of fair trade certified chocolate. Ask your favorite chocolate brands to purchase fair trade chocolate on their Facebook page. Companies like Nestle and Cadbury purchase fair trade chocolate for the UK market. Why not for the U.S. market? I want a fair trade certified Kit Kat. Don’t you?

Check out these websites of chocolate brands that offer fair trade chocolate and ask for fair-trade chocolate options at your favorite market.

Alter Eco
Dagoba Organic Chocolate
Divine Chocolate Love the label. So pretty.
Equal Exchange
Theo Chocolate You can buy chocolate by the case for a discount
Taza Chocolate Chocolate with a Mexican twist. This chocolate can also be purchased bulk.

Now for my favorite chocolate cake recipe. This is the recipe that I used to make those pretty little cupcakes dressed in blue pleated paper cups pictured above.

Free-Trade Chocolate Cake
(Adapted from One-Bowl Chocolate Cake from Martha Stewart Living)

3/4 cup unsweetened fair-trade cocoa powder (Equal Exchange sells this as Baking Cocoa)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose organic dry farmed or rain fed flour
1 1/2 organic fair-trade sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs (preferably from a pasture-raised hen)
3/4 cup organic low-fat buttermilk (I like Organic Valley. It is coop of small family dairies across the U.S.. This brand can be found at large and small grocery stores. If not at your grocery store yet, ask and ask again.)
3/4 cup water
3 tablespoons organic oil like vegetable or canola
1 teaspoon organic pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans (2 inches deep) dusted with cocoa powder. If making cupcakes, butter the muffin tin just the same unless you are using cupcake paper cups. I found that one scoop of batter using a ice cream scooper works perfectly for each cupcake.

Sift all the dry ingredients into a big mixing bowl.

Beat ingredients together with a mixer on the lowest setting or with a whisk until just combined.

Add all the wet ingredients into the same bowl. Beat until all combined and batter is smooth about three minutes with a mixer and a few minutes longer when mixing by hand.

Divide batter into both pans and bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cupcakes do not take as long to bake. Check if the cupcakes are done after 20 minutes.

Note: to remove the cake from the pans with ease, you must let the cake cool off completely. This takes at least 15 minutes. While you wait make the frosting (frosting recipe to follow). Place one of the cakes on a cake plate. Frost the top of the first cake. This will be your yummy center. Place the second cake on top and frost the top and sides of the cake. I like to decorate the cake with fresh berries like blueberries or blackberries when in season…organic of course.

Chocolate Frosting
I love this frosting. The sour cream gives it a nice little twist. I have found that young kids are not as big on the slight twang to this frosting. When I am baking for a younger crowd I will replace with a butter cream frosting. If you are making cupcakes you can half this recipe.

makes four cups

2 1/4 cups organic powdered sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened fair-trade cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
6 Ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 sticks unsalted organic butter, softened (Organic Valley also makes butter or some farmers markets sell butter)
9 Ounces bittersweet fair-trade chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
3/4 Cup organic creme fraiche or sour cream

Sift together dry ingredients and combine in one bowl.

In a larger bowl beat together the cream cheese and butter at medium speed until smooth.

Gradually add the sugar-cocoa mixture into the cream cheese and butter mixture and beat until combined.

Pour in the melted chocolate.

Add the sour cream or creme fraiche and beat until all combined.

What Does An Omelette Have To Do With Clean Water?

Half the world population will experience freshwater shortages, referred to as water scarcity by 2030. Water scarcity is at our shore now.

Supply and quality are the two leading causes of water scarcity according to the United Nations. Ask the people in Central Valley California who don’t have running water today. Or the people of Flint, Michigan who have running water they can’t drink today. (Click here to read Michael Moore’s open letter on the situation of contaminated water in his hometown of Flint.)

Change for abundant, clean water begins at the kitchen table. The ingredients we choose has a story written in water, soil and air. Our food touches thousands of lives. From those who grow, harvest, and prepare our food to those who live near those same farms and factories.

In my forthcoming book, Eat Less Water, I follow food back to the rivers, lakes, aquifers and oceans to understand the impact food systems have on our world’s water. But the story I’m writing goes much deeper. I ask you to approach your daily food choices with awareness.

Deeper connection, my 2016 New Year’s Resolution. I resolve to deepen the relationships I most care about, and that includes my food. The food taste so much richer when I remember the good story it tells.

Here is a recipe to get you started. It meets the Paleo, Atkins, Vegetarian and Eat Less Water standards. It is how I begin my days. And it keeps me full until lunch, minimizing unnecessary snacking.

Buen Provecho!

Eat less water at the kitchen table.

There is power in the collective.

Be well,

Florencia

Chard or Kale and Cheese (optional) Omelette

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Ingredients:

2 stems of organic chard or kale

2 organic eggs

organic pasture raised cheese of your choice

slice of organic butter for the pan

salt and pepper to taste

 

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Sauté chard and/or kale in butter in a small frying pan. Cook on low to medium flame.

 

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Beat two eggs in bowl and pour over the chard/kale. In 1-2 minutes flip omelette to second side until cooked to your liking.

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Slide omelette onto a plate and sprinkle grated cheese. Add the pepper and salt to taste.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drought-Friendly Cooking: Stir-Fry Vegetables with Baked Tofu Recipe

 

I’m excited to announce the launch of my Drought-Friendly Cooking Channel on YouTube with a Drought-Friendly Stir-Fry Vegetables with Baked Tofu Recipe (recipe below).

In the video, I teach you how to make this simple stir-fry recipe, and discuss strategies to save water with your cooking, impacting water systems world -wide.

Why drought-friendly cooking? Water experts predict 2/3 of the world’s population will experience water scarcity by 2025. I believe you and I can change this frightening trajectory by insisting food is cultivated on farms with methods that conserve and preserve freshwater.

Change begins with our individual food choices.

Help me spread the word. Share, comment, and subscribe to the Drought-Friendly Cooking YouTube channel and the Eat Less Water newsletter.

There is power in the collective!

Eat less water at your kitchen table tonight.

Be Well,

Florencia

Drought-Friendly Stir-Fry Vegetables with Baked Tofu

Serves 5

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Ingredients

Vegetable Stir-Fry

A selection of seasonal and organic vegetable ideas:

Broccoli, bell pepper, carrots, green beans, squash/zucchini, snow peas, bok choy, snap peas, yams, onions, mushrooms

I use the following:

1 medium head broccoli cut into small florets

1 red bell pepper sliced

4-5 carrots cut into strips

1-2 zucchini cut into strips

1 handful of green beans, cut in half and ends cut off

2 tablespoons organic olive oil or organic canola oil  for cooking

salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste

optional toasted sesame seeds and red pepper flakes

Rice

Purchase organic rice from non-flooded paddies. I recommend Lotus Foods Rice found at many grocery stores and Cajun Grain (purchase online).

Find your favorite recipe for rice. I put the rice to cook as soon as I place the tofu in the oven and before I start on the vegetables.

Baked Tofu 

2 packages organic or non-GMO tofu (firm)

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1/2 cup organic toasted sesame oil

4 tablespoons honey from a local beekeeper

juice from 1 organic lime

salt

optional: 1 tablespoon crushed fennel seed

Preheat oven to 450 degrees

Mix the ingredients for the baked tofu together in a small bowl

Drain the water from the tofu packages and cut it into small cubes and place in casserole dish

Pour the sauce over the tofu cubes, gently turning the tofu to coat the tofu on all sides

Bake the tofu at 450 degrees for 30 minutes, an additional 10-15 minutes longer if you like it slightly crispy

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Vegetable Stir-Fry

Heat oil in a large pan

Add root vegetables first (carrot and yams)

After 2-3 minutes add the rest of the vegetables

Toss vegetables together and season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, (red pepper flakes and toasted sesame seeds (optional))

Do not over cook. Stay nearby. The vegetables should preserve a sharp color and remain al dente, slightly firm.

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Serve vegetables over cooked rice, and spoon tofu over the vegetable.

 

 

 

 

 

Grilled Pasture Raised Burgers on Homemade Buns (Hamburger Buns and Burger Recipe)

Www.eatlesswater.com

One pound of beef = 1,851 gallons of water

One quarter pound burger (only the meat)= 462 gallons of water

One year of beef for the average American = 118,464 gallons of water

The smell of hand-shaped beef patties on the backyard grill brings forth happiness from my husband and three children. My husband mans the grill. The kids and I roll small balls of dough for our homemade buns. The five of us sit around the kitchen table and bite into tender quarter-pound burgers, eating 2,310 gallons of water.

The water footprint of beef surpasses all food. Americans eat 64 pounds of beef each year, representing enough water to fill 1,481 bath tubs. Worldwide the demand for beef grows while our availability of clean drinking water shrinks.

The single most important action we can do to lower our water footprint is to reduce or eliminate meat that comes from conventional farms that drain blue water sources and leave behind large gray water footprints, water tainted with nitrogen that feeds ‘dead zones’ in river and oceans.

On average, our love for meat accounts for 27 per cent of our total human water footprint. The logic follows that, beef, the meat with the largest water footprint is the simplest way to positively impact water systems.

At home, my beef is exclusively organic and pasture-raised. I prefer to purchase direct from the ranch at my local farmer’s market. No hormones, no antibiotics and the cattle are raised in a manner that benefits the land.

Because the meat is not as cheap as the conventionally raised beef, I find that we naturally eat less. But when beef is served, not a tasty bite goes to waste.

Over the Memorial Day weekend we served burgers in our backyard. The burgers were outstanding. Perfectly grilled, draped with cheddar cheese, squeezed between homemade buns made that same afternoon. My cousin asked, what we put in the meat. The truth is not much at all, only salt, pepper and garlic powder. “The meat is so good that we don’t want to distract from the flavor,” I said.

As I answered her, I thought about a cookbook I had recently read by Alice Waters. She wrote how a dish can only be as good as its ingredients. For a burger it starts with the meat and you build around it. The homemade buns kick it up a few notches. I offer you my hamburger recipe only because my cousin asked me for it several times. So you can thank Sandy.

Eat less water at your kitchen table!

Be well,

Florencia

Rain-Fed, Pasture-Raised Grilled Burgers with Homemade Organic Buns

Ingredients:

Pasture-raised organic meat (ask if the cows are grown on rain-fed pasture a.k.a. green water)

Salt

Pepper

Garlic powder

In a large bowl mix the ground beef with the spices to your taste. I mix it with my hands. Let the meat sit for at least 20 minutes at room temperature to let the meat sit in the spices.

Hand form the patties by rolling balls and slightly pressing them down in between your hands to make a disc shape. Place the patties on something flat like a baking sheet. Be sure to slightly indent the patties in the center with your thumb, top and bottom. This keep them from rising into fat little patties when on the grill.

Cook on flame to your taste. We like it medium done. Garnish the burger with organic, local lettuce and organic cheese. I pass on the tomatoes until they are in season.

Homemade Organic Buns

Makes about 16 buns

Ingredients:

2 cups warm milk

1/4 cup organic farm-fresh pastured butter, melted

1/4 cup warm water

1/4 cup fair-traded sugar

2 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast

2 teaspoons salt

6 cups unbleached organic dry-farmed or rain-fed white flour (for whole wheat buns, swap out 2 cups white flour with whole wheat flour)

Stir together milk, butter, water, sugar and yeast in a large bowl. Let it stand for 5 minutes.

Mix in the salt and flour gradually. Stir until the dough is supple.

Divide the dough in half, then quarters, then eighths and finally into sixteenths. Form the dough into balls and place on baking sheet dusted with flour about 3 inches apart. Let the buns rise for 20 minutes away from a drafts. I place the buns to rise in a cool oven.

Bake at 375 degrees F for 15 minutes. They should have a slight golden hue when done. Once cooled, slice the buns horizontally with a serrated knife. I freeze the extra buns (unsliced) for the next bar-b-cue.

Eggs, Eggs Everywhere (Hard-Boiled Egg Recipe)

Eggs abound. The colored plastic kind, the chocolate kind and the eggs in my chicken coop. My chickens taught me that eggs have a season. The natural production of eggs depends on the length of light in a day. The short days of winter nearly shut down egg production in my backyard coop. But the long, luscious days of almost spring bring me fresh eggs by the half dozen.

The egg section of the grocery store doesn’t recognize the natural rhythm of the hen. We, the consumer, demand the flavor of eggs year round. The market responds with gigantic hen houses that never experience darkness.

The water footprint of a single egg is 23 gallons of fresh water. An egg in my backyard and the conventional egg packed in styrofoam have the same water footprint. The difference is in the details. My backyard chickens are fed organic feed, supplemented with kitchen scraps, carrot and beet tops from my favorite veggie vendor at the Oxnard Farmers Market and the occasional grazing in my garden.

Backyard chickens isin’t for everyone. But great tasting eggs that don’t compromise the integrity of fresh water systems are available at a farmers market near you.

I’m celebrating the egg season with Egg Salad Sandwiches on my homemade wheat bread (a.k.a. Mama’s Bread). I’ve finally figured out how to hard-boil an egg without the whites of the egg bursting out of its shell. Here’s how:

The Perfect Hard-boiled Egg

Boil water, enough to fully submerge an egg.

Place eggs in boiling water for one minute, cover.

Turn off stove. Let the eggs sit in the water for 12 minutes.

Remove eggs from water and they are ready.

I add a dash of curry powder to my Egg Salad Sandwich to make the flavors sing.

Eat less water at your kitchen table!

Be well,

Florencia

Posted at Small Footprint FridaysSimple Lives Thursday, Real Food Wednesdays

HUSBANDmade Organic Pancakes From Scratch (Pancake Recipe)

“I’m going to make pancakes from scratch for breakfast,” said my husband. A moment straight from the book Porn for Women, where fully clothed men say things like, “honey, relax while I change the baby’s diaper,” or “let me fold all the laundry;” but better because they were organic, water-sustainable pancakes!

Ingredients matter to water systems around the world. When you make food from scratch you are in control of the source of your ingredients. The pancakes were fluffy and perfectly sweetened with brown sugar, vanilla and cinnamon.

To make your own HUSBANDmade organic pancakes just follow the recipe below and I’ve included some fun ecards from the book found at the website www.wannasnuggle.com.

Who says water conservation can’t be fun.

Eat less water at your kitchen table!

Be well,

Florencia

HUSBANDmade Organic Pancakes (Waffles too)

1 cup organic plain yogurt

1 1/4 cup organic milk or more (my favorite is Organic Valley) / 1 cup for waffles

2/3 cup organic whole-wheat flour (if the flour is from the Dakotas it is rain-fed)

1/4 cup organic toasted wheat germ or organic cornmeal

3 tbsp or more of organic ground flax meal (optional)

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 tsp organic ground cinnamon

2 large eggs (Michael used eggs from our backyard hens that are finally laying again)

1/4 cup packed organic brown sugar

1 tbsp organic vegetable oil

2 tsp organic vanilla

Mix yogurt, milk and oats together and let stand for 15 minutes.

In the meantime, in a separate large bowl mix together the remainder of dry ingredients except for the brown sugar.

Add remaining wet ingredients and brown sugar with oats mixture. Combine wet and dry ingredients.

Cook your pancakes in your favorite pan or griddle.

Modified from the Eating Well multi-grain waffle recipe

Eat Less Ingredients…as easy as 1, 2, 3 (Roasted Butternut Squash, Fresh Beans, Steel-Cut Blueberry Oatmeal Recipes)

It takes 29 ingredients to make mole, the thick chocolaty, spicy sauce that drowns moist chicken. Mole (pronounced moe-lay) is a recipe reserved for birthdays, baptisms, weddings…I personally have yet to attempt the recipe, the long list of ingredients overwhelms. I prefer the uncomplicated recipe that is both fast and tasty.

Each food ingredient has a water footprint. The shorter the list of ingredients the lower the water footprint. On a recent shopping trip, I needed pancake mix from my local market. I looked first for an organic brand with no luck. So I looked for the pancake mix with the fewest ingredients among my five choices.

We all encounter unrecognizable ingredients in our food. I bought Chinese Chicken Salad from the deli section at the grocery store for a quick lunch fix. After the first few bites I noticed how the sauce had the consistency of slime. I looked at the long list of ingredients printed out on the sticky label. My hardly edible Chinese chicken used 69 ingredients…many of the ingredients didn’t sound like food. Chinese chicken salad shouldn’t require more ingredients than chicken mole.

I have a few favorite two or three ingredients foods that are both quick and tasty.

Roasted Butternut Squash- one ingredient

The flavor of butternut squash stands alone. If you must, you can sprinkle salt and add butter but it really is unnecessary. It makes a great side dish for any meal.

To roast butternut squash set your oven to 400 degrees. Slice the squash length wise and scoop the seeds out. You can save the seeds and plant in your backyard garden. Place on a cookie sheet (flesh up) for about an hour or until supple.

Fresh Organic Beans- two ingredients

A pot of fresh cooked beans is my go to comfort food. The only ingredient required for this recipe is beans (any kind) and salt. Sometimes I add fresh cloves of garlic or in the summer months add chunks of tomatoes and cilantro as a garnish. But most of the year I keep it real simple.

To make a fresh pot of beans first clean them by sorting through the beans to find any dirt rocks (kids like this job). Place cleaned beans inside a colander and rinse thoroughly (I collect this water in a bucket in the sink and use to water plants outside).

My mother taught me how to make beans without measuring cups but if you prefer to be more exact soak two cups of beans in water overnight. When ready to cook use fresh water. Cover the beans with enough water to account for the expansion of the beans when cooked. Cover and bring beans to a boil and then simmer. Each bean variety cooks at different rates. Pinto and black beans for example take a few hours and lentils are done within an hour. Every 30 minutes check the water level. The beans will absorb the water and the water will need to be replenished. Once the beans are tender you can serve. Salt to taste. Freeze extra.

Beans can be cooked in a crock pot. I’ve done this overnight at low heat setting. Fill the crock pot 2/3 full of water. By morning the beans are ready.

Beans are nitrogen-fixing plants. What this means is the bean plant can convert nitrogen from the atmosphere into nitrogen for the soil. Healthy soil means several things for water. The top two reasons is that it eliminates the need for synthetic soils that encourage chemical runoff into fresh water systems. And secondly, healthy organic soils retains water at higher rates than synthetic soils thereby reducing the need for irrigation.

Steel-Cut Oatmeal with Blueberries- three ingredients

My crockpot is used almost exclusively for steel-cut oatmeal. Just before I go to sleep I combine the few ingredients needed for this favorite breakfast meal.

To make steel-cut oatmeal in the crockpot just add one cup oats to four cups water. I add about 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup frozen organic blueberries to the oats. Set the crockpot to the lowest setting. Sweeten with fair-trade sugar to taste. I also like to add dry-farmed walnuts that I buy at my local farmer’s market.

This recipe can be made exactly the same on the stove top, but requires some boiling, simmering and mixing. The crockpot way is so much easier. 1 1/4 cups of dry steel-cut oatmeal (plus 5 cups of water) easily feeds my family of two adults and three small children…so modify the quantity accordingly.

Other few ingredient food ideas….

Roasted unsalted almonds– I find these at my farmer’s market. They are dry-farmed, organic and have the best crunch around.

Organic salted popcorn– This is my go to snack. I pack it for school lunches and have popcorn ready for afternoon snacks. You can see our very serious popcorn machine pictured above (Christmas present from Grandpa Tony).

Fruits and veggies– Sometimes we have a tendency to forget the obvious. These are all one ingredients foods. Tis the season for citrus. I have tangerines and oranges in plain sight for quick, sweet, healthy snacks. Chunks of orange are a great addition to winter green salads.

Snap peas are also all the rage in my kitchen this season. I place a plate of them of the kitchen counter and watch them disappear.

One of these days I will attempt a mole dish for that special occasion. In the meantime, I will stick to recipes that use few ingredients and purchase foods that have less ingredients than mole.

Eat less water at your kitchen table!

Be well,

Florencia

Thanksgiving Preparations…Cook From Scratch (French-Style Bread Recipe)

Thanksgiving preparations are well underway in my kitchen. Tis the season to cook what’s in season and from scratch.

I started with bread. Bread is great to make ahead of time because it can be frozen and baked right before you serve your meal. I slightly under-bake the bread so when it’s out of the oven the second time it is perfect. Here is my favorite French-style baguette recipe.

French-Style Bread

[2 long loaves or 4 small baguettes]

2 cups warm water (100 to 115 degrees)

1 1/2 packages active dry yeast /or 2 tsp.

1 tablespoon organic sugar

5 to 6 cups unbleached organic dry-farmed or rain-fed white flour

3 tablespoons yellow cornmeal

1 tablespoons salt

1 tbsp. egg white (from a pasture-raised hen), mixed with 1 tbsp. cold water

 

Mix warm water, yeast and sugar.

Set the bowl aside for 30 minutes or until the yeast mixture proofs (when you see bubbles).

Combine the salt with the flour and add to the yeast mixture one cup at a time.

Flour a clean surface with flour and begin to knead. You want to knead the dough until it is no longer sticky and transforms into a smooth round lump of dough. You may need to add additional flour (only a small handful at a time).

 

Place round, smooth dough into a buttered bowl to keep the dough from sticking. Cover with a dishtowel to keep out drafts. Leave the dough to rise. The dough will double in size in about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

 

Punch the dough after it has risen (I love this part). Divide the dough into two equal parts. Hand form the dough ( fancy way to say just stretch the dough out to resemble the shape of a baguette) and place on a cookie sheet sprinkled with cornmeal or flour. Slash the tops of the loaves diagonally in two to three places, and brush with the egg wash.

 

Bake at 400 degrees for 35 minutes (25 minutes if you split the bread into 4 smaller baguettes) or until the bread has a hollow sound when tapped with a wooden spoon. Note: The original recipe calls for the bread to be placed in a cold oven. I have tried both with a cold oven and a pre-heated oven and found the bread to be great either way.

 

Variation: For a more tightly textured bread, after the first rising, punch down, knead for an additional 5-10 minutes. Return dough to the buttered bowl and allow to rise a second time before hand forming into loaves.

 

Based on the recipe from Beard on Bread

 

I made extra bread for the stuffing. I found a great recipe on the Food Network. It is a mix and match stuffing recipe which gives you the freedom to choose stuffing add ins that are local and seasonal. I’m adding dry farmed walnuts, pink lady apples and dried figs, all found at my farmer‘s market.

 

This morning before school my daughter Isabella helped me get a start on the pumpkin pies. I used leftover halloween pumpkins for the purée. Roasting pumpkins is as simple as sticking them in the oven at 400 degrees for an hour or until soft and mushy. Puncture the skin of the pumpkin with a fork, this speeds along the roasting process and place on a cookie sheet. The pumpkin pie recipe I used is from Simply Recipies. It includes directions for roasting pumpkins.

For the crust I used a recipe I found on Allrecipies. Pie crust can be made in advance. I rolled the dough and draped over pie tins. I tasted the crust with quiche, its buttery flakyness was divine. If your pallette is on the salty side use sweet cream butter otherwise stick to unsalted. I like my crust on the thin side so I split the dough in half and made two crusts instead of one.

When I cook from scratch I break the steps into parts so it doesn’t feel too overwhelming. This also lets me squeeze food prep into a busy schedule.

When I cook from scratch I control my ingredients. Each ingredient reflects my wish for clean and abundant water on the planet. I am rewarded with flavor and fragrance unmatched by anything purchased in a box, or out of a plastic bag…like in this moment the homemade pumpkin pie sings nutmeg and cinnamon.

Eat less water at your kitchen table this season!

Be well,

Florencia