Organic Food & Recipes

ORGANIC RECIPE: All About Chard (with Organic Tacos of Creamy Braised Chard Recipe)


Organic Food Guy
Kenwood, Sonoma County

Botanically chard is a subspecies of ordinary garden beets, bred for its leaves rather than its root, and packs the same kind of nutritional punch. The name “chard” comes from the French chardon, or thistle, although chard is not a thistle (the name came about cecause chard has a wide midrib similar to the cardoon, which is a thistle, and because of this physical resemblance the French word for thistle came to be applied to chard as well).

For some reason, chard also goes by the name of Swiss chard. While the vegetable is commonly grown in Switzerland, among other northern European countries, it’s the French and Italians, not the Swiss, who have done the most with chard, with the Spanish and Greeks running a close second. In southern Spain and out on the Balearic Islands, it’s cooked much as the Arabs of North Africa use it, with spices and hot chiles, or cooked with sweetmeats. In fact, chard’s history is long, going back before Rome (its subspecies name, cicla, refers to sicula, the ancient name of Sicily), before Greece, back to ancient Babylon. Various theories have been proposed for why the country of Switzerland has been associated with chard, but none of them seem worth repeating. I just call the vegetable chard and leave it at that.

The Organic Factor
Make sure your chard is organic. The high-nitrogen chemical fertilizers used in conventional agriculture can cause the plants to take up too much nitrate, which can change within the human digestive system to cancer-causing nitrites. Organic soils feed chard their nitrogen from natural sources, at just the rate the plants need it.

Study: Organic Farming Is More Profitable Than Conventional…



From Mother Jones

After years of steady growth in demand, organic food now accounts for 5 percent of US food sales. Yet organically managed land makes up just 1 percent of US farmland. Why hasn’t the craze for organics moved from the supermarket to the countryside? The problem isn’t a lack of profitability, a new paper (abstractpress release) from Washington State University researchers David Crowdera and John Reganold finds.

The researchers found that organic farming is somewhere between 22 percent and 35 percent more profitable for farmers than conventional.

The authors crunched data from 44 studies involving 55 crops grown on five continents over 40 years and found that organic farming is somewhere between 22 percent and 35 percent more profitable for farmers than conventional. The reason: the higher price farmers get when they sell certified-organic crops. This “premium,” as it’s known, stands at around 30 percent, and stayed roughly equal over the four-decade period, the authors report.

Millennials Like ‘Organic’ — Even if They Have No Idea What It Means…


From The Atlantic

Some labels magically make food appear more nutritious.

In August, The New York Times ran an essay by Sam Tanenhaus that sought to sketch a comprehensive portrait of Millennials. Tanenhaus, who labeled Millennials monolithically as “Generation Nice,” devoted some space to discussing the shopping habits of this bold new generation: They’re drawn to socially-responsible companies, they’re mindful eaters, and they adore all things organic, even the cotton in their clothing. Tanenhaus left one thing out, though: They’re easy to manipulate.

Recipe: Twice Baked Irish Potatoes with Stout Beer and Fresh Kale…

From Cooking Up A Story

Ivy Manning—In the Kitchen

First, Ivy Manning visited with Shari Sirkin, of Dancing Roots Farm, and learned more about kale. Now it’s time to take that kale into the kitchen and create something delicious and easy to make, with ingredients that are commonly found in most kitchens! Full Disclosure: I made this Irish Potatoes dish for my family—it’s wonderful!

“What’s your favorite potato story?” Gene Theil, the spunky potato farmer nicknamed “ Gene the Potato Machine,” asked me one crisp November morning as I chose from his table of russets. I drew a blank. “Everyone has a potato story,” he assured me. It finally dawned on me: colcannon. My grandmother used to make the satisfying mash of kale or cabbage and potatoes for me when I was a kid. She said its origins came from necessity when times were tough in Ireland. Women would add kale, cabbage, or even seaweed to their mashed potatoes to stretch the meager harvest;– the greener the colcannon, the tougher the times. Gene was happy to hear that he was right again, we all have a potato story. My love of simple but comforting colcannon inspired this satisfying variation of double- stuffed potatoes; it’s a sort of Irish soul food, if you will.

The Graying Lions of Organic Farming…


From NYT
Slide Show here

BIG SUR, Calif. — Among the sleek guests who meditate and do Downward Facing Dog here at the Esalen Institute, the farmers appeared to be out of place. They wore baggy jeans, suspenders and work boots and had long ago let their hair go gray.

For nearly a week, two dozen organic farmers from the United States and Canada shared decades’ worth of stories, secrets and anxieties, and during breaks they shared the clothing-optional baths.

The agrarian elders, as they were called, were invited to Esalen because the organizers of the event wanted to document what these rock stars of the sustainable food movement knew and to discuss an overriding concern: How will they be able to retire and how will they pass their knowledge to the next generation?

Michael Ableman, a farmer and one of the event’s organizers, said the concerns were part of a much larger issue, a “national emergency,” in his words. Farmers are aging. The average age of the American farmer is 57, and the fastest-growing age group for farmers is 65 and over, according to the Census Bureau.

During their meetings, some of the farmers worried that their children would not want to continue their businesses and that they might have to sell their homes and land to retire.

Organic Recipe: Pasta with Raw Tomato Sauce..


From Let There Be Bite

This sauce is always a crowd-pleaser because it celebrates two flavors that are not often found “raw” on a pasta: ripe summer tomatoes and high-quality extra virgin olive oil. Not only does it have the look and “mouth-feel” of a tomato-cream sauce, the olive oil gives it a richness that doesn’t feel as guilty as heavy cream.

· 4 large organic heirloom tomatoes
· 1/2 cup pine nuts
· Fresh organic basil, marjoram, thyme
· 1/4-1/3 cup organic extra virgin olive oil, to taste
· Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
· 1 cup parmigiano reggiano, finely grated
· 1 clove garlic, thickly sliced
· Organic asparagus, zucchini, or zucchini blossoms
· 1/2 lb farfalle pasta

Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta.

Meanwhile, bring water to boil in another pot that will hold all the tomatoes. With a knife, make an “X” on the bottom of each tomato that just breaks the skin. Cook the tomatoes in the boiling water for a couple minutes, or until the skin starts to break away from the flesh. Remove the tomatoes. When the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, remove the skin from the tomatoes (they should strip off easily from where the skin was cut).

Put the pine nuts in a small pan over medium heat to toast for a few minutes. Be careful—they toast quickly! Set aside off the heat.

Rinse and dry whichever vegetable you opt to use. If using asparagus, discard the bottom one-third of the asparagus and slice on the diagonal into 1/2-inch pieces.

Grilled Pitas with Caramelized Onions and Goat Cheese

From TheDailyGreen

The onions can be cooked up to 3 days in advance — just bring them to room temperature before spooning over the goat cheese.




4 tablespoons olive oil
2 jumbo onions (1 pound each), coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
Four 6-inch pitas, sliced horizontally in half
6 to 7 ounces soft goat cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves

1. In nonstick 12-inch skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add onions, sugar, and salt, and cook 15 minutes or until very soft, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook 20 minutes longer or until onions are golden brown, stirring frequently.

2. In cup, stir remaining 2 tablespoons oil with tarragon and thyme. Brush cut sides of pitas with herb mixture; spread with goat cheese, then top with caramelized onions.

Carbonara-Based Life (recipe)

Front Porch Republic Blog

There’s a story (if memory serves) about a little spat that affected the greatest and best-dressed rock band ever.

(I confess that, given the inveterate mendacity of consciousness, one never knows for sure whether one is being ironic or sincere.)

During a rehearsal or a sound check or something, Neal Schon was wailing away on his guitar, as was (and is) his wont—and long may he wail—when the ever-humble Steve Perry came over and turned his amp down. “They want to hear the voice,” Perry said, pointing to himself. “The voice.”

Divorce was inevitable, and eventually it came, and I, like many whose musical tastes are impeccable, regretted it. But still there are days when, standing in my kitchen, inching toward the vital late-afternoon decision as the lights go down in the city, I want to hear both the wailing guitar and the soaring pinched voice. And that can mean only one thing: I’ve decided to feed the troops some carbonara (and maybe hope for some lovin’, touchin’, and squeezin’).

That this culinary delight (not to mention this melodious word) is not on the lips of more people is a mystery, given how good it tastes and how simple it is to make. Of course you can make it more complicated if you want to, and that’s okay by me (first rule of cooking to music: more time in the kitchen is better than less). Any way you want it, that’s the way you need it.

Carbonara makes use of two important staples that, were I the head of the USDA, would be food groups unto themselves: bacon and eggs. (Bacon! Is there anything it can’t do? And, O, thou egg! How noble in design, how infinite in flavor! In form and moving how express and admirable!)

Faithful reader—and even you, my enemy, benighted though you be—hear the words of the greatest and best-dressed rock band ever: be good to yourself. Make your move across the Rubicon.

Get a pound of bacon.

How About Some Stinging Nettle Soup?

Via Culinate

It’s been said that as long as you’re near water, you’ll never go hungry. Cattails have been hailed as “nature’s supermarket” and arrowhead has been called the “swamp potato”; watercress graces the menus of the fanciest restaurants.

But even Euell Gibbons, the father of the modern wild-food craze, makes a glaring omission in his forager’s bible, Stalking the Wild Asparagus: There is not a single mention of stinging nettles.

Stinging nettles are delicious, abundant, and oft-overlooked. And you don’t even have to live in the sticks to find them.

Stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) grow in swampy places and riparian corridors along streams throughout North America, Europe, Asia, and northern Africa. They resemble a mint, though they’re in their own botanical family (the Urticaceae). They’re easily identified by their pairs of deltoid (slightly triangular), dentate leaves (opposite-decussate in orientation), with fine spines covering the stems and leaves.

In the Pacific Northwest, they first poke their little heads out of the alder and cottonwood duff in February or March, in search of spring’s first warming sun — depending on your neck of the woods, they’ll be out a little earlier