Quick Dinner! Stuffed Portobellos

Since I’ve been trying to incorporate more mushrooms into my diet, I’m always looking for different ways to prepare them.  Sautéing them and then putting them in sauce becomes boring really fast.  I also have a secondary problem.  I buy these beautiful vegetables at the farmers market every week, but I always end up with a little bit every bit that I haven’t used.  I hate throwing away food.  HATE it!  Especially the product of the labor of local farmers.  After scouring the pages of Pinterest, I took a combo of a few things I saw and made one of the tastiest dinners.  I was also able to use more of some of the cherry tomatoes I bought at the Farmers Market.

Ingredients (for 1 serving)

*1-2 Portobello mushrooms

*2 slices of Trader Joe’s Pre-Sliced Mozzarella, cut into pieces

*About 6 cherry tomatoes cut in half

*2 tsp olive oil

*2 cloves garlic

*Salt/Pepper

Instructions

  1.  Combine olive oil and garlic in a small bowl.
  2. Scoop out black part from mushroom and brush olive oil mixture onto bottom of mushroom.  Put in 8×8 foil lined pan, cap side down.
  3. Combine remaining olive oil mixture with tomatoes and mozzarella, and salt and pepper.  Fill mushroom with mixture.
  4. Broil for 8-10 minutes.  Then drizzle with a balsamic glaze. (I reduced 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar with a tsp of raw sugar for about 10 minutes.)
  5. Serve alone, with pasta or whatever you want!  I paired it with pasta and red sauce.

 

*Tomatoes from Ellwood Canyon Farms

*Portobello Mushroom from LAFungHi

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Travel: Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture

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Tomatoes to greet you on the entrance path!

On my recent trip to New York, I knew that one of the things I had to make happen was a visit to Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture.  About 30 miles north of Manhattan, in a town called Pocantico Hills, is Stone Barns Center.  It was started by the Rockefeller family more than 20 years ago.  And it has turned into a hub of experimentation and research for something that affects us all; farming and food.  In conjunction with chef Dan Barber and Blue Hill at Stone Barns (11th best restaurant in the world), they have created something very special.  After a day at this amazing place, I have grown to appreciate even more what they do there.

One of the major things that I have learned about SBC is that they genuinely believe in what they do there.  Of course, they have gained more notoriety from their collaboration with Dan Barber and Blue Hill, but the farmers have a bigger purpose than trying to get to the top of the list.  Its very simple.  They want to grow and raise food that tastes good and is sustainable.  One of their major techniques is a 7 year rotation with the crops in the field.  For example, if this year, tomatoes are grown there, tomatoes will not be in that soil for another 7 years.  They understand each crop completely.  They utilize each crop’s assets and defects to grow better food and to make it sustainable.  For example, they know that tomatoes suck nitrogen out of the soil, so they may plant a crop next time in that space that puts nitrogen back into the soil.  Or they may plant a micro green in the same bed at the same time that counteracts the nitrogen depletion.  Its an amazing technique and to see it in action makes you feel like you are witness to a food revolution. Stone Barns Center also utilizes a greenhouse.  They do this not in an effort to grow out of season, but rather to extend the growing seasons.  In the greenhouse, they have a 10 year rotation cycle instead of 7.

 

Another thing they do is create new types of fruits and vegetables.  And they do this without genetic modification.  And they do this for a better tasting crop.  They use traditional methods of cross breeding.  When I was there, I saw the pepper crops.  They had the usual jalapeños, bell peppers, etc.  But they also had a new pepper.  It was called a Habanata (not sure it that is the correct spelling).  It is a habanero that has had the spiciness bred out.  Amazing.

When you go there for a day, you also have the option to participate/observe in activities around the farm.  I chose the watermelon testing, the foraging walk and the pig feeding.  By far, the foraging walk was my favorite.  To learn about how the restaurant uses foraged ingredients made me have a new respect for the chefs at Blue Hill at Stone Barns.  It is one thing to say, “I want these ingredients to make this dish”.  It is quite another thing to say “I’ve been presented these ingredients, what will I come up with?”.  And that is what they do at Blue Hill at Stone Barns.  They are presented with or have found ingredients and they come up with something grand.  They can be presented wit a giant crop of sunflowers and have come up with a way to use EVERY SINGLE PART OF THE SUNFLOWER.  Nothing goes to waste.  This is an important part of what happens at SBC.

And that leads to my main takeaway of my visit.  They are trying to really create a better world through food.  They want to create something sustainable and delicious and in such a way that keeps you interested.  When I first read The Third Plate, I was convinced that Dan Barber was on to something.  And to see it in action is truly something awe-inspiring.  With so many horrible things going on in this world today, it is important to do things that make you happy and give you hope.  Stone Barns Center gives me hope and it made me so happy to see something like that first hand.  If you ever get a chance to go, I urge you to go.

Quick Breakfast! Scrambled Eggs with Mushrooms

I have always found it to be a challenge to make breakfast interesting to me.  Truth be told, I’m not fond of breakfast food.  My usual go-tos are eggs benedict and sometimes, french toast or pancakes.  Overall, I’m just not crazy about that meal.

Enter the mighty mushroom!  As I no longer buy meat for my house, I started to dabble in the world of mushrooms.  I’m fortunate to live in a city in which we have many mushroom purveyors.  My favorite is LaFungHi. They have both foraged and cultivated mushrooms, and they always have something different.

And for some reason, the combo of eggs and mushrooms is just so delicious.  It has even made me enjoy breakfast a little bit more.  Although its pretty simple, here is what I used.

*2 eggs

*1 small bunch of mushrooms (about 1/4 – 1/2 cup) (I used foraged Forest Namekos for this.)

*about 2 pats of butter

*A healthy pinch of dried thyme

*Salt & Pepper

First, I melted the butter in a pan, then added the mushrooms, thyme and salt and pepper.  I let those sauté for about 3 minutes.

Second, I added the eggs, a little more salt and pepper, then fried in pan until done.

It was that simple.  And it gives me an easy breakfast that takes less than 10 minutes.  It makes me happy to be able to utilize as many Farmers Market items in my normal diet.  To me, fresh produce from a Farmers Market tastes better.  And it helps to support local farms!

Ingredients

Simple ingredients

Farmers Market Haul!

Probably my favorite day of the week is Sunday.  And its not because I don’t have to go to work, or because I get to sleep in.  Its because Sundays are for the Farmers Market!  My best friend got me a tea towel that says “The Farmers Market is my happy place”.  And this couldn’t be more true.  I love it.  After I read The Third Plate by Dan Barber, I was inspired to eat more locally, and to be more sustainable.  This is where my love affair with the Farmers Market began.

Living in Los Angeles, I am extremely fortunate to have a good number of them at my disposal.  On Sunday morning, finding a Farmers Market is like shooting fish in a barrel.  But my personal favorite is the Hollywood Farmers Market on Selma and Ivar.  Its huge, and has everything you could possibly want.  Plus, its near both Groundwork Coffee, some great shopping and some great restaurants.  Not to mention, they validate for the parking garage at Arclight Cinemas.  $3 for 2 hours is just a bargain, in my opinion.  But, this isn’t about the Hollywood Farmers Market in particular.  Its about what I found there.

As I’m sure every regular patron of this weekly event of awesomeness can tell you, you end up at the same stalls every week.  There is just something about that lettuce or those tomatoes that keep you wanting more.  Its not just about the produce.  Its about the sense of community that happens at Farmers Markets.  You see the same people every week, and it makes you feel more at home.  Or at least that has been my experience.

Here is what I snagged, and from where!  (All featured farms are linked below.)

*Corn from The Garden Of.. // Cucumber from John Givens Farm

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*Yellow Peaches from Burkhart Organics // Foraged Forest Kemeko mushrooms from LAFungHi // Mixed Cherry Tomatoes & Ambrosia Melon from Ellwood Canyon Farms FullSizeRender 3

*Carrots from John Givens Farms // Shallots & Lemon Cucumbers from The Garden Of.. // Enoki and Maitake mushrooms from LaFunghiFullSizeRender 2

Farm Links!

The Garden Of…

Burkhart Organics

Ellwood Canyon Farms

John Givens Farm

LaFungHi

Be Well Challenge: The End is Near

This month has been crazy, and has been such a good experience.  I loved being able to ramp up healthy habits and things that help to reduce my negative effect on the planet.  When I originally started this challenge, it was the most intensive way I could think of to gain footing in making things stick.  Although I did not do everything perfectly, I am content with the progress I have made over the last month.

Let’s start with food.  I don’t think I have ever eaten as well and as consciously as I have for the last month.  Being mindful of what I am putting in my body made me eat healthier on the whole.  And although there was the occasional misstep, I did a lot better than I thought I would.  I bought more fruits and veggies, and ate more clean.  Adding in the Farmers Market component to this challenge was extremely beneficial.  I tried some new things, and taught me to go outside my comfort zone.  Before this, I would have never tried dandelion greens or even the green plums.

Now…on to workouts.  I was almost perfect with my workouts.  Forcing myself to be consistent makes it a part of my life.  Some people really dread physical exercise.  But the truth is is that I get to workout.  After surviving cancer, it is nice to be able to do anything.  Working out is no exception.

When it comes to waste, I would say that this is where I was my weakest.  I realized quickly that there are many places that do not subscribe to the less is more philosophy with waste.  Personally, I frequently forgot my reusable cups and eating take out made this more difficult than expected.  However, I most definitely was more conscious of the waste I was producing.  And although I wasn’t able to eliminate my waste, I’m definitely moving in the right direction.

All in all, this was a very cool experience.  I learned about what motivates me and what I really enjoy doing.  And I really enjoy being healthy.  Exercising, taking care of the planet, and eating right just makes me a happier person.

Yay or Nay: Dandelion Greens

In my quest to try something new every week at the Farmers Market, I decided to try dandelion greens.  Dandelion Greens are extremely high in good nutrients and from what I’ve read, is way more of a super green than kale.  As far as greens go, he more bitter the better they are for you (or so I’ve read).  How could I not want to give these a chance?

My conversation with the farmer went like this:

*Me:  What are those?

*Farmer:  Dandelion Greens

*Me:  Sold!  I’ll google how to cook them.  This will be interesting.

*Farmer:  Usually people eat them with a little lemon.  They taste terrible.

In my head, I thought, oh great..can’t wait.  I don’t think I was even out of the stall before I had put “how to cook dandelion greens” in my Pinterest search box.  It seemed like, overwhelmingly, the preferred method to cook dandelion greens was with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper (I linked the recipe at the end).  The basics of cooking dandelion greens is to wash them, cut them into pieces (about 3 inches) and sauté in olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.  Now, I put waaayyyy too much salt, like, an obscene amount.  Also of note, these cook down much like spinach.  So, you get 1/3 of what you actually put in the pan.  Cooking them took about 8 minutes.  After they were all wilted and tender, time to taste.  First bite, oh these aren’t bad.  A little bitter, but I could get used to the bitterness.  Second bite, wow, these are really bitter, the guy was right.  Third bite, how many bites until I’m done?

I know what you are thinking, how bitter could they POSSIBLY be.  If you have never had dandelion greens, I urge you to try them.  Judging by how many stalls have them at the Farmers Market, I imagine that more people than I think like them.  If I had to describe the bitterness, they are about 10 times more bitter than arugula.  With that being said, I am not ruling them completely out.  I also found a recipe for pesto using dandelion greens.  Maybe when the trauma has worn off, I’ll try that.  But for now, its a no go for me.

Dandelion Greens from: Givens Farm (Yes, they are organic!)

Recipe used:  http://www.italianfoodforever.com/2008/05/sauted-dandelion-greens/