Homemade Pomegranate Lime Ice

Did ya’ miss me? I haven’t written in awhile, partly because I started a new job, and partly because it’s been too hot to think. Right now I have the a/c blowing on me so I was feeling inspired.

A few weeks ago I made red sangria using a Bobby Flay recipe. Sangria is, in my humble opinion, the perfect summer drink but I had never made an authentic batch before. It was one of the best sangrias I’ve ever had, but it left me with some leftover pomegranate juice. Due to the aforementioned heat, I was craving something cold. So I decided to make some pomegranate ice!

Pomegranate Lime Ice

3 cups water

1 cup unsweetened pomegranate juice

Juice from two medium limes

1/2 cup sugar, more or less depending on taste (I used a little more)

  1. Boil water and sugar until sugar is completely dissolved.
  2. Remove from heat and pour in pomegranate juice and lime juice.
  3. Give it a good stir and pour it into a baking dish. Use a large dish since you want a fairly thin layer.
  4. Put it in the freezer. In 1 1/2 hours, break it up using a fork. Make sure you break it up and mix it well.
  5. Put it back in the freezer. In 1 1/2 hours, do the same thing.
  6. Enjoy.

Some ideas:

  • Garnish with pomegranate seeds or lime rind.
  • Experiment with your favorite juices.
  • Pour a shot of tequila over that bad boy. This is my favorite idea.
Pomegranate Ice Served in a Margarita Glass

Cheers!

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Filed under dessert, recipes, Uncategorized

FriendshipWorks (and So Does Enchilada Casserole)

Meet Chester:

He's not always this blurry.

Chester is a good friend of mine. He’s lived in South Boston for all of his 84 years. He is a WWII veteran. He enjoys bacon and eggs, a good Western movie, baseball, listening to the radio, and talking about how expensive everything is. He dislikes modern music, doctors, throwing things away, and how expensive everything is. He has diabetes and is legally blind. I’ve visited him often for about three years, sometimes to help out around the house, but mostly just to chat.

I met Chester through a great organization called FriendshipWorks, a Boston-based nonprofit that matches volunteers with elders and adults with disabilities. On the surface, Chester and I don’t seem to have a lot in common. But get us talking and the conversation usually turns to food.

Tonight I brought Chester dinner. He’ll eat pretty much anything, although he tends to favor pastries, candy, white bread, processed foods, and red meat. As you might imagine, none of these pair well with diabetes, so I jump at the chance to make and share a healthy meal with him. Tonight’s dinner was brought to us by the brilliant mind of Angela Liddon over at Oh She Glows. It was her Naughty and Nice Enchilada Casserole, baby, and man was it good.

This is a bad photo of a good casserole.

Click the links above to check out Angela’s site and get the full recipe. Some slight alterations: I used store-bought taco seasoning mix and enchilada sauce. THE SHAME. For the pasta, I used Eden Organic Flax Rice Spirals. I topped the casserole with crushed tortilla chips (Laurel Hill Multigrain) and fresh avocado.

For what it’s worth, this recipe has received the coveted Chester Seal of Approval. He didn’t even notice there was no meat in it.

Lots of veggie goodness.

Any ideas of what to make for Chester next?

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Filed under just because, nutrition, storytime, vegetarianism

On Gestation Crates, McDonald’s, Chipotle, and Basic Humanity

On Monday, February 13th, McDonald’s and The Humane Society of the United States released a joint statement regarding gestation crates used to confine pregnant sows (female pigs). By May 2012, all of McDonald’s pork suppliers must provide the company with plans to phase out the crates. After assessing these plans, McDonald’s says that it will share the results and outline next steps.

That one in the stripes looks highly suspicious.


First, a definition (from Wikipedia):

A gestation crate, also known as a sow stall, is a 7 ft by 2 ft metal enclosure used in intensive pig farming, in which a female breeding pig (sow) may be confined during pregnancy, and in effect for most of her adult life.

Thanks Wikipedia! Basically, gestation crates are cramped, cruel little spaces that 500-lb pregnant pigs are forced to hang out in for most of their short, miserable lives. They can’t even turn around. If you’re curious what they look like, here is a photo. I mean, I freak out when I’m sandwiched between two people on the subway. But unfortunately gestation crates are the industry standard and the vast majority of all pregnant sows live in them.

Advocates of the crates will tell you that they’re used to prevent fighting among the pigs, which is true enough. What these advocates often won’t tell you is that there are many other ways to prevent fighting, but those ways require understanding the animal’s basic natural behaviors and instincts and putting that knowledge to use. Perish the thought! Also, the crates cause a whole slew of other health issues for the pigs, which leads to sick pigs, which leads to us eating sick pigs.

So, let’s look at this McDonald’s effort. A lot of people have written about it – you can read what Mark Bittman and NPR have to say. I agree that this is a good thing. Where McDonald’s goes, the industry follows. If the company makes good on this effort, it’s likely that gestation crates will be a thing of the past in ten years. And that’s great! That is of course assuming McDonald’s makes good on this effort. Nowhere in their statement is there a guarantee (as Gawker so eloquently points out) and there is so much more work to do. Like, a lot more.  We can embrace this as progress, but we can not ignore the impact McDonald’s has on minimum wage and general employee welfare (it’s one of the largest employers in the country), animal welfare (it’s the largest buyer of industrially-raised beef in the country), and the global health dialogue (it’s the world’s largest fast food restaurant).

As Spider-Man’s wise Uncle Ben once said, with great power comes great responsibility. We can applaud this effort, but we can also hold our nation’s biggest companies to higher standards. It is not unreasonable to do so. Yes, improving our food system takes time, thought, money and energy. It takes a desire to be better and to be different. It takes a cultural shift and a change in consumer values and a government whose food policies align with its nutrition talk. It takes a lot! There are obstacles. But if we can’t be bothered to work on overcoming these obstacles, then I don’t have a lot of faith in us and in our incredible capacity for innovation and creativity.

All of this brings me to Chipotle, a company which until 2006 was a subsidiary of McDonald’s. They ran an ad during the Grammys called “Back to the Start.” It’s a beautifully done ad with a simple message as I see it – basic humanity over industry. It highlights the challenges of being a participant in a broken system and it offers hope that we can reach a place where our values align with our business and where sustainability rules.



I didn’t write this to stop you from eating meat or to stop you from going to McDonald’s. I just think that we need to cultivate a heightened awareness of how we eat and why. I don’t mean to oversimplify an incredibly complex issue, but quite frankly I’m sick of focusing more on the obstacles than on the solutions. Kudos to McDonald’s for a step in the right direction, but let’s not forget about all the other steps that need to be taken.

Talk to me – what do think of all this? Are you impressed with McDonald’s effort? What more could be done? How much did you love that Chipotle ad? Willie Nelson has such great delivery.

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Filed under food movement, news

Baked Avocado and Egg

Ok, it’s time for something I’m pretty proud of. If I ever release a cookbook, this recipe will be on the first page. Behold the Baked Avocado and Egg!

Breakfast of Champions

Fact: Sriracha sauce makes everything better.

I don't know if the best part was the avocado or The Clash of Kings.

I was so excited about this creation, if only because it opens up a whole new world of avocado consumption. Anyways, had to share the recipe as soon as possible, so here it goes!


Baked Avocado and Egg
Serves 2

Two medium avocados

Four eggs

Dill

Salt and pepper

Sriracha sauce


Directions

  1. Heat oven to 425° F.
  2. Cut each avocado in half, removing the pit and making sure that each half has a hole in which to place an egg.
  3. Place the halves in a baking dish and fill each with one egg. (See note below.)
  4. Sprinkle dill, salt, and pepper on each.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes. This will really depend on how you like your eggs. I don’t like runny yolk, so I baked mine for about 25 minutes, maybe a bit more.
  6. After you’ve removed them from the oven and let them cool a bit, squirt some sriracha sauce on those bad boys and go to town.

Notes

  1. There are a couple of ways you can prepare the egg before you put it in the avocado. You can leave each egg whole and put them into the avocado halves with the yolk still intact (an especially good option if you like runny yolk), or you can mix up the eggs beforehand and pour it in (less messy option, will end up more like scrambled eggs).
  2. Don’t freak out about making a mess or getting the eggs perfect in the avocado. One suggestion would be to fill the avocados in a separate bowl to catch any egg spillage, and then put them in the baking dish.
  3. I also made a vegan option for my friend using a quick tofu scramble. Drain some tofu, mush it up with some diced onions/peppers/same seasonings (maybe some soy sauce?), and bake it the same way.

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Rejoice! It’s Girl Scout Cookie Season!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, boys and girls. GIRL SCOUT COOKIE SEASON.

While wandering around Harvard Square on Friday evening, I spotted a woman carrying two boxes of Girl Scout cookies. My sixth Girl Scout cookie sense immediately went on high alert. I resisted the urge to shake her  by the shoulders, wild-eyed and foaming at the mouth, demanding to know where she bought them. I knew that cookies were close.

Obviously I was right, my Girl Scout cookie sense never lets me down. Those wonderful gals are selling them at a bunch of subway stops in Boston. I bought two boxes: Peanut Butter Patties and Caramel DeLites. Those are clearly the two best options and you can just get away from me if you would have chosen the Lemonades. Blech.

Just can't get enough of those "eanut" Butter Patties, amirite?

If you’re in Eastern MA, you can find cookies near you here. God, the Internet is so great.

So what’s your favorite Girl Scout cookie? Do you agree that Thin Mints are overrated? Are you weirded out when you realize that the same cookies have different names depending on where they’re sold? Do you like my pink nailpolish?

Happy Girl Scout cookie season!

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Filed under dessert, for your information, holiday

Easy Lentil Tomato Soup

I originally titled this post “The Bay Leaf Incident of 2012,” but “Easy Lentil Tomato Soup” seemed a little more blog-friendly and less ominous. I shall begin with a photo:


Despite the Bay Leaf Incident of 2012, I did not die upon consuming this soup.


Looks harmless enough, right? WRONG. Lurking within that blurry bowl of Lentil-Tomato Soup is something that until this weekend I assumed would cause immediate death – blended bay leaf. That’s right. I slaved over a hot stove creating a lovely soup, only to forget the crucial step of removing the whole bay leaves before using my immersion blender. I was certain I would kill myself and my unassuming dinner partner, who had placed blind faith in my ability to make a non-lethal soup.

After much hand-wringing and brow-furrowing, I did what any functional adult would do: I texted my mother.


“Am I going to kill us both if I serve soup in which I accidentally blended a bay leaf?’

Mom responded with the sanity that I was lacking.

“Not unless either of you are allergic to bay leaves.”

Oh. Thanks Mom.


So long story short, I learned a valuable lesson. Accidentally blending bay leaves into your soup, while not recommended, will not lead to paralysis, stroke, nerve damage, or sudden death. Mostly it will just result in a strong bay flavor and tiny floating pieces of leaf in your soup. If you’ve learned nothing else from this blog, please retain that.

I still want to share the recipe with you all, as it was actually quite tasty. I was inspired by an Alton Brown recipe I came across awhile ago. By the way, leave it to Alton Brown to publish a recipe calling for “Grains of Paradise.” I’m almost certain that is not a spice at all, but the title of an obscure John Steinbeck novel.


Easy Lentil Tomato Soup

Serves 2-3 people


2 tbsp olive oil

2-3 minced garlic cloves

1 small-medium sweet onion, chopped

1/2 cup chopped carrot

1/2 cup chopped celery

A few pinches of salt

1 can cooked lentils, drained

1 cup peeled, ground tomatoes (canned)

1 32-oz box vegetable stock

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

2 whole bay leaves … do not blend


Directions

  1. Heat up the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large pot. Add the onions, carrots, celery, and salt and saute for about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for another 2-3 minutes. The onions should be soft and starting to brown.
  2. Add everything else and stir it up.
  3. Up the heat until the soup starts to boil. Then reduce to a simmer and let it do its thing for 10 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat. REMOVE BAY LEAVES. Blend using an immersion blender, regular blender, whatever.

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Filed under recipes, silly, storytime

Tales of Woe; or, How I Missed National Peanut Butter Day

Tuesday was National Peanut Butter Day, but it was also National Meeting Day at work and National Girl’s Night and Wine Drinking Day at my friend’s apartment, so somehow I missed it. I MISSED NATIONAL PEANUT BUTTER DAY. Man, I love peanut butter! It’s so great, it’s one of the best foods to ever exist (unless you’re allergic, in which case, I’m so sorry – you are missing out).


What are some things I love about peanut butter, you ask? Well, allow me to answer:

  1. You can eat it with a spoon straight out of the jar and it’s awesome.
  2. So many choices! You can choose smooth, chunky, salted, unsalted (weirdo), all-natural (choose this one), all-unnatural, etc.
  3. You can dip so many things in it. Apples, crackers, chocolate bars.
  4. It’s not low-calorie, but it’s satisfying and nutritious (if you’re buying the right kind).
  5. It reminds you of being a kid.

I’m pretty bummed I missed it, but technically I celebrated without even knowing it by eating peanut butter toast with raisins for breakfast. Really, you can celebrate National Peanut Butter Day every day of the week if you’re lucky.


I’ll leave you with this video of people talking with peanut butter in their mouths. You’re welcome.


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Filed under holiday, just because, list