May 26th, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
Planning a Memorial Day barbecue? Here’s a super-easy burger recipe that “kicks it up a notch,” as Chef Emeril Lagasse likes to say. All of the ingredients are readily available at a market that carries organic food.
A reminder from rancher Tom Perini, owner of Perini Ranch Steakhouse (“one of America’s great rural restaurants,” per Gourmet magazine) and author of Texas Cowboy Cooking: Treat beef like a king.
“Take beef out of the refrigerator 30 to 45 minutes prior to cooking,” he advises, “as this helps bring the meat to room temperature.”
Wild West Picante Burgers
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1/2 cup picante sauce or chunky salsa
- 4 hamburger rolls
- Thoroughly mix beef and picante sauce. Shape firmly into four patties, 1/2″ thick.
- Grill patties 10 minutes or until done, turning once and brushing often with additional picante sauce.
- Serve on rolls with additional picante sauce.
Recipe and photo courtesy of Pace Foods
Read More:Memorial Day Cookout: Wild West Picante Burgers
April 27th, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
Here in Southern California, Cinco de Mayo is an established tradition. A national holiday in Mexico, it gives us an opportunity to enjoy an organic food fiesta. There are no specific foods associated with May 5 celebrations, but margaritas always make the menu.
You can shake things up with this special Cinco de Mayo Margarita. Use margarita glasses authentically rimmed with delicately flaked kosher salt. And while many alcoholic beverages call for prepared Sweet and Sour Mix, you can easily make your own with organic lemons and sugar.
Cinco de Mayo Margarita
Makes 1 serving
- 1/2 oz. fresh lime juice
- Kosher salt
- 3 oz. Sweet and Sour mix (1 to 1½ tablespoons lemon juice to 1 teaspoon powdered sugar)
- 1½ oz. tequila
- 3/4 oz. Triple Sec
- Lime slices, to garnish
- Rim margarita glass with fresh lime. Dip glass rim into kosher salt.
- Shake all liquid ingredients with ice. Strain over ice into salt-rimmed margarita glass.
- Serve with fresh lime slice and stir stick.
Photo courtesy of Diamond Crystal Salt/Cargill. Basic recipe courtesy of the National Bartenders Association.
Read More:Ready for Cinco de Mayo?
December 30th, 2005 - Barbara Feiner
Happy New Year from Organic Authority! We wish you health, happiness and success as we ring in the new year.
If you’re planning to watch the Rose Parade or a football game on New Year’s Day, here’s a recipe for Spiced Coffee Eggnog that will wow your guests. Eggnog won’t be available after the holiday season, so pick up your favorite organic brand at your local whole foods market and celebrate its last hurrah.
This recipe comes from Diana Duda, who won the Best Holiday Recipe Contest sponsored by spice maker McCormick & Co. in 2003. Once you add the ice cream, your guests will think you’re an organic culinary god/goddess.
Spiced Coffee Eggnog
Makes 24 (½ cup) servings
2 cups very strong coffee (flavored, if desired)
1½ cinnamon sticks, broken
6 whole cloves
6 whole allspice
2 quarts eggnog (regular or low-fat)
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup whipping cream
1 quart vanilla ice cream, softened
- Brew coffee twice as strong as usual. Place broken cinnamon sticks, cloves and allspice into a square of cheesecloth. Tie closed and place in saucepan with coffee. Simmer 15 minutes. Allow to cool, remove spices, and chill at least 30 minutes or overnight.
- Pour eggnog into punch bowl (at least 4-quart capacity.) Add vanilla and coffee mixture. Stir to blend well.
- Whip cream and fold into eggnog. Spoon ice cream into mixture and stir gently. Sprinkle with nutmeg, as desired.
Read More:New Year’s Day Organic Coffee Eggnog
December 27th, 2005 - Barbara Feiner
Christmas may be over, but Hanukkah continues this week. One of the most popular dishes during the eight-day holiday is brisket—a cut of beef, sold as a small roast, that is usually braised in the oven because it requires the addition of water to ensure tenderness.
If you’re trying to cut down on your meat intake or you’re a vegetarian, you can substitute organic portabella mushrooms. Steven Raichlen, author of “How to Grill,” brushes them with butter and coats them with a Southwestern-style dry rub. He then sears them on the grill (or under the broiler), thickly slices them and serves them with barbecue sauce. As with beef brisket, the meaty mushrooms are very tasty when served on soft rolls.
Hot & Spicy Portabella “Brisket”
Adapted from “How to Grill”
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon garlic or onion powder
1 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
4 large portabella caps (about 1 pound)
1 tablespoon butter, melted
- Preheat grill or broiler.
- Prepare barbecue rub: In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, paprika, black pepper, salt, garlic powder, celery seed and red pepper.
- Brush mushrooms with melted butter. Rub half a teaspoon of the barbecue rub on both sides of each portabella.
- Grill mushrooms, turning once, until they are browned and tender, about 10 minutes.
- To serve, slice portabellas on an angle and serve with your favorite barbecue sauce, if desired. Place the remaining barbecue rub in a recloseable plastic bag; refrigerate and save for other uses.
Makes 4 portions (about 1/2 cup barbecue rub)
Read More:Hot & Spicy Organic Portabella “Brisket”
December 23rd, 2005 - Barbara Feiner
A century ago, Americans didn’t have to worry about going organic. It was de rigueur, with no processed, genetically modified or chemically laced foods to cause concern. Everything on the menu was natural.
So, how does your organic holiday table measure up against a typical farmstead menu from 1900?
“At Christmas, meats were often pulled from the smoker because hunting for fresh game was more difficult in the snow and cold,” says George Gross, director of Delaware Valley College’s Roth Living Farm Museum in North Wales, Pennsylvania. “Or one of the youngest children might be asked to kill a goose or one of the farm’s chickens that had stopped laying eggs.”
You wouldn’t find ham or pork on the menu, as they were “daily breakfast staples and were not considered fancy,” Gross says.
All kitchen preparations fell to the women. (Has anything changed in your home?) Wives and daughters would clean and dress their holiday deer or rabbit, while boiling and feathering a Christmas chicken or goose. (Feathers were saved for pillows.) Meats were roasted on an open hearth or the oven of a wood stove. Stovetop cooking featured vegetables from the family root cellar: turnips, parsnips, squash and potatoes, most of which were mashed with fresh butter and cream from family cows. Fresh bread was baked earlier in the day.
Desserts were simple, usually a tart made from canned fruit preserved earlier and pie crust rolled and baked that day. As for beverages, families started preparing homemade root beer several weeks before Christmas.
“Folks believed that root beer was an excellent drink for them, thinking the roots killed bacteria in the drinking water, thus making it safer to drink than water,” Gross says. “They hadn’t realized that it was the boiling process that was doing the trick. Had they wanted to drink safer water, they only needed to boil it.”
It took a full day—sometimes longer—to clean, boil and store the assorted roots used for this holiday drink, followed by two weeks of fermenting.
Women would break out their best dinnerware, flatware and glassware, lighting candles for illumination—not atmosphere. And with no refrigeration, meals were carefully planned for only one supper, with no holiday leftovers to enjoy the next day.
If you have a chance to visit Pennsylvania, be sure to stop by the Roth Museum, where Gross tends its 140 acres, a dairy cow, two dairy goats, six sheep and three horses. Depending on the season, you can view sheep-shearing, milking, plowing and planting demonstrations, and antique equipment displays, as well as participate in hands-on activities. Click here for a list of seasonal events.
As for this weekend, enjoy your much-more-modern Christmas dinner!
Read More:A Christmas Blast from the Past
December 22nd, 2005 - Barbara Feiner
Mary Micucci is one of the most famous caterers in Los Angeles, specializing in large events like Hollywood movie premieres. She launched Along Came Mary in 1975, working out of a Volkswagen Bug. Today, she runs a $10 million business as the largest gourmet catering company in the entertainment industry. The “Hollywood Reporter” even dubbed her the “epicurean Steven Spielberg.”
When entertaining for Christmas, “think themes,” says Micucci. “Try snowmen, reindeer or toy soldiers carried out in the decor or cut out as cookies, with fun decorations and celebratory desserts.”
Here’s Micucci’s recipe for wassail, a traditional Christmas punch, which she made for last year’s star-studded premiere of “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events.” You should have no trouble finding organic ingredients at your local whole or natural foods store.
1 gallon apple cider
1 quart pineapple juice
1 quart fresh orange juice
2 cups light brown sugar
1 teaspoon whole nutmeg, grated
10 to 18 whole cinnamon sticks
3 whole oranges, cut in half
25 whole cloves
8 stemmed Irish coffee mugs
- In a large saucepot on low, heat apple cider, juice and sugar. Bring to a rapid boil while adding 10 cinnamon sticks and grated nutmeg. Simmer for 15 minutes.
- Stick cloves into the skins of the 4 orange halves, placing them in even, linear rows. Turn off heat and add cloved oranges. Allow flavors to expand within the mix for 15 minutes.
- Using a peeler, zest 8 orange strands (4” each) from the third orange and set aside.
- Reheat mixture and pour into decorative coffee glasses. Garnish each glass with whole cinnamon, with orange strands twisted around it. Serve hot.
Cheers from everyone at Organic Authority!
Read More:Organic Christmas Wassail
December 21st, 2005 - Barbara Feiner
’Tis the season for pumpkin pies, gingerbread men and decadently rich desserts. Fortunately, there are ways to slenderize your holiday baking so you can maintain a healthful diet that meets your organic lifestyle needs.
Start by substituting organic applesauce or other organic fruit-based products for butter, margarine or oil in your favorite holiday breads and baked goods.
“Substituting fruits for butter works well in most quick breads, muffins and some cakes,” says Jyl Steinback, a personal trainer who has been dubbed “America’s Healthiest Mom” and author of several books, including “Fill Up to Slim Down” and “Supermarket Gourmet.”
“It usually doesn’t work as well in cookies,” she tells Organic Authority. “I have good success substituting the full amount of butter or margarine with the fruit. You can also try substituting fat-free yogurt, fat-free creamers or skim milk, in certain cases. There is no absolute proportion, as recipes will differ, so it truly depends on the individual recipe.”
So, what basic guidelines should you follow?
“If the recipe is too ‘liquidy,’ add a little more flour,” Steinback instructs. “If it is too thick, add a little more fruit or liquid. Try applesauce, crushed pineapple or canned pumpkin in several of your favorite quick bread or muffin recipes. Cake recipes are a little more fussy, but I have had success substituting applesauce for the oil in packaged mixes.”
And while we’re on the subject, if you’re not exactly Julia Child or you’re pressed for time, there are several organic cake mixes available at your local natural or whole foods store. Check out the Dr. Oetker line, which includes vanilla, chocolate and marble cake mixes, as well as icing, cookie and muffin mixes.
Read More:Healthy Holiday Baking
December 20th, 2005 - Barbara Feiner
As promised in yesterday’s blog entry, Body-Conscious Holiday Travel, we’re offering some last-minute tips on caring for your body and organic spirit when you fly or drive home for the holidays.
“Because travel can completely change your regular routine, it can be very tough on your body—and stressful, too,” says Dr. Scott Donkin, a chiropractor, author of “Sitting on the Job” and ergonomics expert. “See your chiropractor to help assure healthy travel. He or she is trained to diagnose and relieve problems of the spine and nervous system.”
Dr. Donkin and the American Chiropractic Association offer these additional tips for healthy holiday travel:
- While seated, occasionally vary your position to improve circulation and avoid leg cramps. Massage legs and calves. Bring your legs in, and move your knees up and down.
- Adjust the air control so air is not blowing directly on you, or simply turn it off. A draft can increase tension in your neck and shoulder muscles.
- Shrug your shoulders up and down, as well as back and forth. Stretch your neck gently from side to side. Take deep breaths and exhale regularly.
- If you’ll be driving, first adjust the seat to your body. Vary your arm position on the steering wheel and breathe deeply, which increases airflow, stimulates circulation and reduces fatigue.
- Whether driving or flying, stretch after you reach your destination. Take the time to stretch your neck, shoulders and legs to increase circulation.
Have a great trip!
Read More:Holiday Travel: A Pain in the Neck (and Back)
December 19th, 2005 - Barbara Feiner
Traveling during the holidays can be extremely stressful, so you need to protect your body and give some extra TLC to your organic spirit. If you’re flying home or driving for more than a few hours, it’s particularly vital to protect your back.
“All that sitting in seats that aren’t designed specifically for you can take a toll,” says Dr. Scott Donkin, a chiropractor, ergonomics expert and author of “Sitting on the Job.”
“Even though you’re sitting in a plane, car or bus,” he adds, “there is still activity in your body. There are pressures and forces at work”—all of which can flatten your spine when it should remain curved or tilt your head at an awkward angle.
Dr. Donkin and the American Chiropractic Association encourage holiday travelers to heed the following tips to avoid aches, strains and soreness:
- Stand up straight and feel the normal “S” curve of your spine. Use rolled-up pillows or blankets to maintain this curve when you take your seat. Tuck a pillow behind your back and just above the beltline. Lay another pillow across the gap between your neck and the headrest. If the seat is hollowed from wear, use folded blankets to raise your buttocks slightly.
- Check bags heavier than 20% of your body weight. Overhead lifting of any significant amount of weight should be avoided to reduce the risk of pain in the lower back or neck. While lifting your bags, stand straight—away from the overhead compartment—so the spine is not rotated during the process. Don’t lift your bags over your head, and don’t turn or twist your head and neck in the process.
- When stowing belongings under your seat, don’t force the object with an awkward motion of your legs, feet or arms. This may cause muscle strain or spasms in the upper thighs and lower back muscles. Instead, sit in your seat and, using both hands, stow your bags in the space directly in front of you.
Tune in tomorrow for more holiday travel tips that fit your organic lifestyle…
Read More:Body-Conscious Holiday Travel
December 3rd, 2005 - Barbara Feiner
Yesterday, I discussed the transformation of a once-dreaded holiday appetizer: the cheese ball. But you can make a truly inspired organic starter if you try some of the new approaches suggested by the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board:
- Wrap your cheese ball in style. Use a higher-end nut, such as roasted pine nuts or hazelnuts.
- Wrap Brie in puff pastry, brush with egg wash, and bake for a sophisticated appetizer (“Brie en croute”).
- Go ethnic. As Emeril Lagasse would say, “Kick it up a notch.” Combine a flavored organic Monterey Jack cheese (such as pepper jack) with salsa, and roll it in toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds). Serve with organic corn chips.
One important note: This isn’t the time to roll out your fanciest homemade breads. Keep it simple (translation: relatively bland), and let the cheese ball be the star of the show. Perfect accompaniments include baguettes, nut breads and water crackers.
For best results, always bring your cheese to room temperature before blending it with other ingredients. Then, refrigerate the cheese ball until it’s firm. Before serving, bring it back to room temperature for easy spreading and enhanced flavor.
Read More:Organic Cheese Balls: The Sequel