Thursday, September 22, 2011

summer is really over! salad

I love my food policy class. It's small, the other students are knowledgeable and smart, and the pile of assigned reading is pleasurable to dig into, not a chore. This week, we're covering the locavore movement and the transportation cost of food, a topic much more controversial in scope than I had realized. Marion Nestle, a leading food policy advocate and nutritionist writes that her preferred buying philosophy when food shopping looks like this:

local + organic > local > organic > conventional + local > conventional

Buying local and organic is easy if you can journey to the farmer's market or food co-op for every one of your food purchases. I can't. But, I did buy beets and corn from my very tiny farmer's market...about three weeks ago. Because seasonal eating is tied to eating local, I had to finally use those ears of corn and what better time than after getting two rude awakenings: school started and it's getting cold!

Here's a simple salad to bid farewell to summer, summer produce, and sun!

2 ears sweet corn corn, husked & de-kerneled
1 large beefsteak tomato
2 cups spinach, chopped
1 cup quinoa
1/2 cup bell pepper, diced
1jalapeno, diced
handful fresh chives, chopped
salt & pepper to taste
1 tbsp olive oil
juice of one lime
to add: black beans, sauteed tofu, quinoa/wheatberries

Easy: Toss all ingredients aside from olive oil and lime juice, which serve as a simple dressing. To de-kernel the corn cobs, I like to hold cut off the ends of the cobs, giving me a resting place on a cutting board to slice downward with a knife, "shaving" the kernels off. Whisk lime juice and olive oil, dress. Salt and pepper to taste. Add in beans or tofu for protein and serve over grains.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

back to school: coconut oil + rain running

Tomorrow morning I'll have my first grad school class. I'll put on a backpack unnecessarily, get on the train with a cup of coffee and most likely listen to a professor read off a syllabus. I am excited about buying some nice understated notebooks. Really, I am looking forward to starting this program, and fittingly, my first class is all about food, food, food and changing the system.

My plan for today was to end my summer with a seasonably appropriate meal, using the sweet corn and beets I have in my fridge in a big old warm weather send-off meal.

It's been raining ceaselessly all day, and I didn't want sweet corn. Looking out at the huge pond forming on our roof, I wanted to use the vat of coconut oil I have, purchased on a whim after reading this New York Times article extolling it earlier this year--yes, I went for the 28 oz jar having never used it before. The coconut oil is interesting, it comes in solid form and melts at 78 degrees.

Coconut-Scented Sweet Potato-Chickpea Bake

1 1/2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil
2 cups cooked chickpeas
1 3/4 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
2 tablespoons agave syrup or maple syrup
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg.
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (pretty spicy!)

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Melt the coconut oil in a small saucepan over low heat.
2. In a bowl, mixed together coconut oil, syrup, salt, pepper, nutmeg and cayenne.
3. Coat potatoes and chickpeas in coconut oil mixture separately.
4. Spread the potatoes in an even layer on a large baking sheet. Roast, tossing occasionally, until soft and caramelized, about 1 hour. With about 20 minutes left, add chickpeas to the baking sheet and continue roasting.

I made this recipe from the article, but of course made my own variations on a theme. I served it with some brown rice and lightly steamed kale drizzled with tahini and balsamic. The apartment smelled heavenly and beachy while the potatoes and chickpeas were roasting.  Perfect fuel for the seven mile rain run I went for after. That's all for this school night.