Nut Crusted Fruit Tart Re-Visited

Nut Crusted Fruit Tart Re-Visited was in the make as we ate the first tart.

So delicious, we started talking how we could modify the recipe.

The second Nut Crusted Fruit Tart

The second Nut Crusted Fruit Tart

This is how we changed it.

For the Crust:

Keeping in mind the ratio is 1 cup dried fruit to 1 cup nuts, the possibilities are limitless!

This time we used:

  • 1/3 cup almonds
  • 1/3 cup pecans
  • 1/3 cup pistachios
  • 1/2 cup dates
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 4 pitted prunes
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
Look at that crust! I love how the cranberries and pistachios look!

Look at that crust! I love how the cranberries and pistachios look!

This made a beautiful crust! Just process it all in a food processor and press it into your pan. The consistency should hold together when your squeeze a bit of the mixture in your hand. If it doesn’t, add more dried fruit until it holds together.

Fruit Filling

This time we had a bit of each of these fruits on hand:

  • Mango
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Raspberries
  • Bananas

This time I photographed how to lay in the bananas.

Tyler asked if the bananas could be substituted but the role they play is to provide a nice base for the fruit to lay on also, to absorb some of the juices. The bananas also mimic the custard, pastry cream  or marzipan filling on traditional fruit tarts. Here’s how you lay the bananas in the pan.

Flatten the bananas into the pan, cut side down.

Flatten the bananas into the pan, cut side down.

We were short on strawberries for the puree, so we pureed a mango instead. I think kiwi puree would look amazing!

Place strawberries on top of the bananas

Place strawberries on top of the bananas

Add the puree the edge with raspberries and blackberries

Add the puree the edge with raspberries and blackberries

On top of the bananas, we placed sliced strawberries, then poured the mango puree over the top of the tart. Then we placed raspberries and blackberries around the edge, a ring of blueberries, then a ring of blackberries, leaving the center open to show the brilliant mango color in the center.

A nice slice!

A nice slice!

To maintain a healthy dish, instead of adding that tempting dollop of whipped cream, use Greek yogurt flavored with honey and vanilla instead. And if mint was growing outside now, I’d also add a mint leaf or two.A nice slice!

Here’s the thing about this tart:

No cooking! All you need to make this is a knife, cutting board, a food processor large or small, a tart or pie pan.

Since Tyler is moving back on campus next semester, he will use his Kitchenaid “Handy-Chopper” which is a nice small convenient unit.

Tyler has decided to use this as his signature go-to dish. I think his roommates will be impressed.

Nut crusted Fruit Tart with Mango Puree

Nut crusted Fruit Tart with Mango Puree

Thanks for All The Fish

I am going on an alarming rant here, about the condition of the oceans and the fish that swim in them. This is a very sobering situation and it seems there are only a few people talking about this.

It is stated that the entire Pacific Ocean will be completely contaminated with radiation by 2016.

Let that sink in. By 2016, if not sooner.

We should all be very alarmed.

Fukushima has always been a world issue but only a few dedicated heroic Japanese are working non-stop to solve the problem. The brains of the world should step in and assist in trying to figure out what should and could be done.

However, I feel it is already far too late to save the food we get from the oceans. The blue fin tuna being caught off of the California coast are testing positive for radiation.

This is not the radiation we commonly find naturally in food; our bodies have adapted to that. In case you didn’t know, bananas, Brazil nuts have extremely low doses of potassium-40 and we have naturally occurring radiation such as radon and radium. Our bodies have adapted to potassium-40. Potassium does not collect in our bodies, any excess is dumped. And we have adapted our environments to deal with radon.

We are referring to radioactive elements such as cecium-137 which has a half-life of 30 years, and idoine-129 and iodine-131 has a half-life of 8 days as an internal transmitter, while iodine-129 has a half-life of, get this, 15.7 million years. Additionally, Fukushima has dumped radioactive strontium-90 which is also a strong internal transmitter, mimics calcium and collects in bones.

We have not adapted to these elements and they cause cancer. Cecium-137 is hard to avoid due to the environmental and atmospheric  testing of bombs. Cecium-137 enters the body through food and milk. It is chemically similar to potassium and is processed in the body the same as potassium.

Cecium-137 collects in muscles; Iodines in the thyroid and strontium-90 collects in bones. These are not naturally occurring radioactive elements are extremely dangerous. Due to the long half-lives, exposure is cumulative and builds up until one or the other perishes.

Please read this article and series of articles regarding this on the blog Washington’s Post, poke around while you are there and read more.

There are articles, studies and research that back the information up so it’s not just some doomsday freak writing scare tactic articles.

Yes, I’m sure you have heard about the talking heads saying the levels of radiation are harmless and much lower that what we encounter everyday in our natural environments and medical procedures.

To quote the blog “Washington’s Post”

The bottom line is that there is some naturally-occurring background radiation, which can – at times – pose a health hazard (especially in parts of the country with high levels of radioactive radon or radium).

But cesium-137 and radioactive iodine – the two main radioactive substances being spewed by the leaking Japanese nuclear plants – are not naturally-occurring substances, and can become powerful internal emitters which can cause tremendous damage to the health of people who are unfortunate enough to breathe in even a particle of the substances, or ingest them in food or water.

Unlike low-levels of radioactive potassium found in bananas – which our bodies have adapted to over many years – cesium-137 and iodine 131 are brand new, extremely dangerous substances.

And unlike naturally-occurring internal emitters like radon and radium – whose distribution is largely concentrated in certain areas of the country – radioactive cesium and iodine, as well as strontium and other dangerous radionuclides, are being distributed globally through weapons testing and nuclear accidents.

At this point, I’m not sure if there is anything “we” can do except be aware. I predict our time to eat ocean fish from any ocean is limited. In five years, we may not be able to eat any more ocean food.

I went to high School in Tokyo Japan. I still have many friends living there, in Hawaii and Guam. They all express concern and have fears of what the future may bring.

It makes me wonder, would it be safe to live on the coast? Go to the beach? What about walking in the rain?

Life as we know is it going to change. Just as we now bring our own shopping bags as we grocery shop, we’ll need to add a Geiger counter. Hope they make a purse size.

The worlds scientists say it is OK to eat Pacific seafood. Is this to avoid mass panic? Is the issue being glossed over because there isn’t anything anyone can do? What will the future be like in 10 years?

So many questions without answers.

Geiger-Müller radiation detector.

Geiger-Müller radiation detector. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What happens when the safe drinking water supply to a city like Tokyo is contaminated with radiation? Where and how does an entire country get relocated?

#6550 Iodine-131 found in ground water

#6550 Iodine-131 found in ground water (Photo credit: Nemo’s great uncle)

Should we just go on about living as if nothing is happening? What do we do? What will you do?

Imagine future generations saying things like, “Can you believe they used to eat these things?”

All I can say, is I’m glad to have had the chance to eat seafood and enjoy it tremendously. I’ll miss it terribly. Thanks for all the fish!

The Ketchup Project – My Big Idea

I’ve been thinking about the state of our food supply and am honestly quite upset about it.

Monsanto, GMO‘s and big corporate entities are taking over and producing foods they think we should eat.

They are killing us!

The foods do not support good health or well-being. Now rather than just sit around complaining about it, I’ve come up with a plan.

Tell me what you think about it.

It’s called the Ketchup Project.

It’s about making our own condiments and not buying processed foods.

We would learn to make fresh ketchup, mustard, pickles and mayonnaise. We would get together in our communities to make these things and share with each other.

We would know what is in the food we are feeding our families.

We could establish community centers where you could get to know who is processing your food, If you don’t like to cook, there are other jobs to volunteer to do besides cooking. and still be able to share in the production.

At these centers you could get to know your butcher, your grower,who makes your cheese and dairy products, who makes your ketchup, and condiments you eat every day.

You could take “The Mayo Pledge” and learn to make your own. Imagine how much less mayonnaise you’d eat if you had to make it every time you wanted it! It’s easy to make but fresh mayo needs to be made nearly every other day unless you can use pasteurized egg yolks.

It is a step towards health, building community, supporting farms and food producers on a local basis. Best of all it’s a step away from Big Corporate and Processed Foods with so many chemicals and additives, that only simulate the real thing.

Want proof? Make ketchup and compare to what is in your fridge right now. Be sure to process it in a blender to produce the same smoothness.

A vibrant bowl of homemade ketchup

A vibrant bowl of homemade ketchup

I bet you’d be spoiled for ketchup for the rest of your life; and you might get a glimpse as to why President Regan counted ketchup as a vegetable in school lunches. (Unbelievable, but true).

Appetizing Cheese Board

Putting together an appetizing cheese board is one of my favorite things.

Cheese Platter

We gather each evening, sip wine, talk about our day, sharing the time with family and friends, often as the sun slowly sets.

A few easy elements will ensure your cheese boards are exciting, tasty and everyone will enjoy.

First, you need cheese! Pick something you like. If you have more than one cheese, choose different varieties; creamy like Camembert or Brie, sharp like cheddar or goat, or blue, aged like  Gouda or Parmesan Reggiano or Pecorino Romano. If you are unsure, ask someone at the cheese counter to help you select. Often you can taste the cheeses too so it is beneficial to talk to the cheese person at your store.

For our evening appetizer platter often I just put out one great piece of cheese. In a pinch, you can use cream cheese, just dress it up with the rest of the elements of a great cheese platter.

Next, after you have the cheese, select some fresh fruit.

Grapes, pears, apples, fresh figs, cherries, berries, you don’t need a lot, but some.

Next add some dried fruit: apricots, dried cranberries, or dates make great choices for this category. If you have enough fresh fruit, you don’t need dried fruit too. You decide.

Choose some nuts: Almonds, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts (filberts), Brazil nuts, cashews are some suggestions.

This is my favorite part, selecting some “toppings” to compliment. Choose marmalade, whole fruit jams, pepper jelly, or honey. This is where I like to use the honey that comes in the comb; slice off a bit, place the cut comb on the platter and let the honey drizzle and ooze all over. Scoop it up with a spoon to drizzle it over the cheese.

Compotes on cheese platter

The flavors you choose here can really set your platters apart.

If you wanted to add olives, pickles or charcuterie meats to a cheese platter you can. That brings it into the entertaining and party realm and is still easy and goes a long way when entertaining.

Finally add some crackers, flat breads, lavash, toast points or bread to a bowl or basket on the side.

Now it’s time to get your wine and enjoy!

Gaining Control of Our Food – How to stand up to Big Corporate Food

The state of our food supply is in crisis and WE are the ones to do something about it.

This is the beginning of a mission. There is a way we can fight back against big food corporations.

Cassie Parsons is a local chef and farmer who has an on-fire passion about local and honest food. This past February she did a TEDx talk about her big idea. In her speech she declares

“Our food supply is broken.”

And she’s right. She’s spot on.

Cassie’s TEDx Talk is linked below, give it a listen, Please.

This is what I have to say about the state of our food.

“America has the worst food in the world.”

We have the most and the worst. Quantity does not make quality food. Quantity has never made quality in any industry. Still there are so many that go hungry;  that is another discussion for another day.

We are in a state of change and increasing awareness. There is no reason to feel helpless about our food supply unless you decide not to do anything or you think someone else will do it instead.

That’s what Big Food is counting on, good old American apathy.

We’re world champions in apathy, we’re apathetic champions off the freaking chart.

You know what?

I hate to be the one to break the news, but the time for change is here; it’s NOW and it’s up to us.

We can’t let this go.

I want to talk about what we can do to stop Big Corporate Food from developing, planting and growing GMO‘s and other food atrocities they have developed and forced on us. They think we don’t need to know; they think we don’t care.

Worst of all is they think they can get away with it.

Here is the biggest thing, We DO have a choice. We have to demand the truth as to what is in our food, how it is processed and how the animals are treated and what’s in it; we have to get involved with our food.

Two news reporters were fired for not watering down a report about Monsanto and recombinant bovine growth hormone  causing cancer in humans who drink milk from cows treated with rBGH. rBGH is injected into dairy cows every two weeks to increase milk production which increases profits at the expense of human health. Click the link above to read the article.

Have you heard of rBGH? Big Food feels you don’t need to know if the milk you drink and give to your children is from cows treated with rBGH. You only find it mentioned on milk without it.

You don’t need to know that commercially grown strawberries can have residue of up to 13 different pesticides on them.

You don’t need to know that in order to “water” the plants, workers need to wear hazardous  material suits “to protect them”.

From what?! Aren’t they supposed to be “watering”?

The bees are dying due to the use of GMO seeds for growing crops.

Monarch butterflies are affected by GMO corn crops. You can hardly find non-gmo corn  anymore, even then, I’d question it. Same with soy and soy products.

If you read food labels, you may have noticed high fructose corn syrup products appears in nearly all processed foods.

What about additives, preservatives, FD&C color dyes for food, drugs and cosmetics (FD&C means that it has been approved for use in food, drugs and cosmetics) and who knows what else they put into products. How many of us read a label, see a list of 40 or so ingredients, glaze over it and buy the product anyway?

Those aren’t “cherries” on your cherry danish from that favorite fast food place, but a “cherry-like” substance with full cherry flavor. Read it.

Leave the products on the shelves! Drive by fast food, you and your family devserve better.

How can we make a change?

With our purchasing power and the decisions we make. Learn to make some of the “processed” food we buy at home; pickles, condiments, sauces, salad dressings, mayonnaise there are so many easy things to learn.

Photo: Let’s change the way we grocery shop

When we buy food that has come from a long distance from where we stand, we pay for that in more than money. When we buy those products, we no longer support our local economies. That money goes back to where the product came from or was produced.

Cassie explains this in her TEDx talk. I suggest when you are finished reading this post, go get a cup of coffee, glass of tea or whatever refreshing beverage you want, come back and watch Cassie Parsons talk. There’s a link at the end of this post and only about 18 minutes long. It will make you think.

It will empower you and implore you to do something too. When you process your own condiments and other food, you know your ingredients, you know what you are serving; you know ALL the ingredients and the quality used.

Yo wont find pink slime in your burgers if you grind your own meat, you won’t find bone scrapings and other left over bits if you learn to make your own fresh sausage.

If you do this right, you also know who raised the pig and get the casings from the same farmer.

If you make your own pickles, know the farmer who grew the cucumbers. There are farmers markets in nearly every city on nearly every day of the week. There is no reason not to find one and use them.

Beyond benefits of local foods, you gain the benefit of a stronger local economy, a stronger social community, which leads to great places to live and raise families. Why? Because you know who is growing your food, what they are growing and how. You share things, trade things, eat healthier, you build a better community.

Your health will be infinitely better. My grandfather used to tell me you can grow it yourself, pay the farmer, or pay the big grocery stores and then pay the hospital bills. He grew all his vegetables and raised a large family with fresh bread, fresh fish and good food.

If we decide to make our own processed foods (yes, there is a learning curve) we can have an impact on big food profit. If products sit on the shelves, if people stop buying them, it will have an impact on profits, which would get BCF attention.

Maybe then, Monsanto and other companies would listen to “Please No GMO!”

Watch this, out of the mouths of babes, the young people get it and it scares them.

If everyone learned just one thing they could make, make enough to share with neighbors, swap, make things together and share. This is not only about building our health, but community and quality of life.

We don’t have to feel helpless or voiceless in this food crisis. We have a choice. WE can do something, each and every one of us.

Buy local.

Ask questions about the food you buy.

Support local farmers.

Learn to make basic condiments, with a group and share.

Start a pickling group or whatever. Make food about people, health and community again; take the profit away from Big Corporate Food.

Stop the apathy and get involved, your health depends on it.

Here’s Cassie’s talk below

How to Make Mustard

Learning how to make mustard can be as simple as mixing a few things together or as complicated as soaking a few seeds. It’s not hard at all to make.

Make Your Own Mustard

While there are many different kinds of mustard you can make, this is a kinder gentler mustard, not too pungent.

All it takes is mix the ingredients together, heat until thick, bottle and cool.

Simple!

Make Basic Mustard

  • 1/2 cup dry mustard powder, Coleman’s is my favorite.
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, light or dark doesn’t matter
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (non-iodized)
  • 1/2 cup good quality white wine vinegar

Measure and mix everything in a heat-resistant bowl until a thin smooth paste forms.

Place the bowl over a pot of boiling water to make a double boiler, heat the mixture until it becomes thick. As the mustard thickens, whisk so it remains smooth.

Use a silicone spatula to get all the mustard in to a clean glass jar.

Allow to cool, cover, label and store.The mustard needs to sit for at least 2 hours before serving. The mustard will also “mellow” as it ages in the refrigerator.

Homemade Ketchup, Mustard and Relish

Homemade Ketchup, Mustard and Relish

I haven’t had a jar around long enough to tell you how long it lasts.

Use it as you would any mustard but be warned, it will spoil you from buying  processed store-bought mustard.

Dip a tasty sausage into mustard!

Dip a tasty sausage into mustard!

Decorate your hot dog the homemade mustard

Decorate your hot dog the homemade mustard

More mustard recipes coming soon such as whole grain mustard, Dijon style, champagne honey, and pear/apple mostarda.

Learning how to make mustard is an easy thing to do to reduce your consumption of processed foods.

Basic Mustard

Basic Mustard – Got a Pretzel?

Eating Local

This is my interpretation of “eating local“:

Local Fare

Local Fare

The multi-grain bread was made by me and cooked on the grill. The sourdough culture I use is nearly 2 years old and came to me from a friend.

I grew the lettuce.

I made the goat cheese from milk from local goats. I could find out the names of the goats if I wanted. I buy the milk from our organic farmers market who bring it in fresh. Low-temp pasteurized, yeah buddy!

The tomato is from a farm just down the road whose family has been growing vegetables and operating a working farm on the land since 1775. These tomatoes are the first to ripen with any flavor, just perfect for the goat cheese!

So there you have it. Local food for lunch.