Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Join the Recycling Justice League!

Remember the Justice League from your cartoon days? Well, my good friend Kellie and I decided we're going to start the Recycling Justice League! And there's certainly enough garbage out there to attack, so we're inviting you to join us. In the comments section of this post, just write about who you wanna be. It can be an exisiting character or your own made up one.

Kellie wants to be Flash, but have the "F" stand for felting since she felts cool stuff from recycled sweaters. Don't know what felting is? Well, check out her website. I either want to be the green guy (I'd be the Green Tomato?) or the yellow and black lady. She's already in good shape, so she must be able to kick recycling butt.

Where are we going with this? Geez, I dunno. But isn't it fun to pretend you're a superhero once in a while?

Watch out garbage - here we come!!!!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Good friends, good food... and a dwarf turkey?

If you've been following my blog you know that some friends and I had a 100 mile Thanksgiving.
Some of you asked for recipes so here they are.

Vegetable stock (for the stuffing and butternut squash soup)
1 large yellow onion, peeled and quartered
1 large leek, washed, trimmed and coarsely chopped
2 carrots, trimmed and quartered
1 turnip, trimmed and quartered
2 tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped
6 parsley sprigs
6 peppercorns
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 quarts water
(all the veggies were from the Saturday Green Market at McCarren Park or Union Square Green Market)
In a large stockpot, combine all ingredients and bring to a boil. Partially cover pot, reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours. Add additional water if necessary. Cool stock and strain. Discard solids (or puree them like I did and search for a new recipe. you know I can't discard anything). Refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.

Use extra leeks as pom poms like Josette did here - cheering on the meal

Apple and herb stuffing
8 cups 1-inch bread cubes, sourdough bread
3 tablespoons butter (1/2 stick)
1 cups medium-diced yellow onion (2 large)
2 small apples, unpeeled, cored and large diced
1 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary leaves
1 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cup vegetable stock
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
Put the bread cubes on a 13 by 18 by 1-inch baking sheet and bake them in the oven for 7 minutes.

In a large saute pan, melt the butter and add the onion, apples, parsley, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Saute for 10 minutes, until the mixture is soft.

Combine the bread cubes and cooked vegetables in a large bowl and add the chicken stock, and almonds, if desired.

Place the stuffing into the main cavity of the turkey (or chicken?).. Cook poultry with a meat thermometer at 350 degrees F until it reaches 180 degrees F.

Now here's a funny story. Or at least I laughed. So I went to the Greenmarket first thing on Wednesday morning. I had intended to make turkey breasts. When I got there, they had no turkey breasts. But they had small turkeys (or at least turkey looking things) sitting up front. So I had a whole conversation with the farm guy about how to cook a small turkey. He said a clay pot would work just as well as a roasting pan. And I'm certain I used the word turkey at least once in conversation. When I arrived home I looked up online how to cook a turkey. The one that I bought was 4 pounds. There was nothing listed for a 4 pound turkey. The smallest one was a 6 pound turkey and supposedly that was small. It dawned on me that it could be a chicken. Well, at least it was local, organic, and well cared for. So when my friends arrived I told them the story and they all thought I was a little goofy, and we all studied what we were now referring to as "churkey" and no one knew definitively what type of bird it was. We figured when we tried it, we'd be able to tell, but not so. It tasted like turkey. I called my dad to see if he'd ever heard of a dwarf turkey variety and he said "well, honey, anything is possible." So I considered calling the farm, but in some ways it might be better not to know.
I stuffed a mixture of chopped onion, parsley and sage under the skin and basted with butter. Then baked until the churkey reached 180 degrees.

Up next is our unexpected churkey apple gravy.

Apple Gravy
This gravy was, we'll call it unique. I think the recipe I found on Food TV miswrote the amount of apple cider to add. It called for 2 to 3 cups. I think it meant 2 to 3 tablespoons. Unless they intended for it to be served as a beverage. I added a cup of apple cider to our pan drippings and we tasted it and decided that was more than enough. I've adjusted to recipe below for what I think would be the correct amount.
Pan drippings from the turkey... or chicken
3 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup apple or pear brandy
2 to 3 tablespoons apple cider (from Red Jacket Orchards)
Salt and pepper
Pour the pan drippings in a pan on and cook on medium heat. Sprinkle the flour over the pan juices, and cook, stirring, for a few minutes. Add the apple brandy, and scrape the pan to lift the bits that are stuck to the bottom. Cook for a minute to burn off the alcohol, then, while stirring, pour in the apple cider. Bring to a simmer, and stir until thickened. Season with salt and pepper.

So now we have herb stuffed churkey and apple gravy. Mmm mmm good so far...

Cranberry sauce
This was my favorite dish. Keeping it local and using honey instead of sugar made a huge difference in flavor. It was sweet, but a different kind of sweet. Just try it for yourself.
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup honey
1 (12-ounce) container fresh cranberries (ours were from New Jersey)
1 chopped apple
Combine the sugar and water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the cranberries and return to a boil, then lower the heat so that the liquid simmers. Add the apples and cook for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let the sauce cool.

Butternut squash soup with roasted garlic
1 heads of garlic, halved crosswise
1/3 cup butter (1/4 stick)
1 cups chopped onions
1/3 cups chopped carrots
2 lbs. Butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1 inch pieces
3 cups vegetable stock
1 TBS chopped fresh sage
1/2 cup whipping cream
a generous dollop of creme fraiche (butter, cream, and creme fraiche from Ronnybrook Farms)

Preheat oven to 350. Rub cut surfaces of garlic with butter. Put halves back together to reassemble heads. Wrap each tightly in foil; bake until tender, about 40 minutes. Cool garlic in foil.

Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onions and carrots; saute until onions are beginning to soften, about five minutes. Add squash, broth and sage. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered until squash is tender, about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, unwrap garlic. Squeeze from skin into small bowl. Discard skin. Mash garlic with fork until smooth.

Stir garlic into soup. Working in batches, puree soup in blender until smooth. (can be made one day ahead. Refrigerate uncovered until cold. Cover and keep refrigerated. Bring to simmer before continuing.) Stir in ½ cup cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Put in bowls and drizzle with creme fraiche.

We also had super tasty mashed potatoes with a healthy portion of butter, milk, and roasted garlic; a good side of steamed broccoli with grated manchego cheese; some cherry tomatoes and green peppers also topped with cheese; and some really good sweet but dry white wine from long island.

For the grand finale:

Pear Clafouti
1 tablespoon butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup honey
3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
6 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons apple or pear brandy
3 firm but ripe pears
Creme fraiche

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Butter a 10 inch round baking dish
Beat the eggs and thehoney in a bowl with a whisk or an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Then, mix in the flour, cream, salt, and brandy. Set aside for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel, quarter, core, and slice the pears. Arrange the slices in a single layer, slightly fanned out, in the baking dish. Pour the batter over the pears and bake until the top is golden brown and the custard is firm, 35 to 40 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature, and put a great big dollop of creme fraiche on top. Tasty!

All in all the meal was delicious. Local food, good friends, and a few chicken/turkey/apple surprises along the way. It wouldn't have been fun otherwise! Happy churkey day!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

happy 100 mile Thanksgiving!

I've been blogging a lot about local food and the 100 mile diet lately, so what better way to celebrate Thanksgiving than surrounded with good local food and good friends? I'm making dinner, so stay tuned to see how it turns out. This morning I picked up the turkey at the Green Market from Tamarack Hollow Farm. They're techically a little more than 100 miles away, but they told me all about their turkeys and how happy they were and how much room they had to play. Which is probably more space than I have in my Brooklyn, NY apartment. And even though the bird is from a little more than 100 miles away I'm not going to split hairs, or in this case, feathers over it. Local is local and this bird was driven from the farm directly to the market.

Happy Thanksgiving you all!


I visited the Canstruction site in NYC yesterday. There were some amazing structures and canned balancing acts going on. Apparently there are locations all over, so check out the one near you. To visit the one in NYC all you need to do is donate a can of food. All donations and all canned structures are going to soup kitchens for Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

tomorrow is America Recycles Day!

Happy (almost) America Recycles Day!
We just may have to make recycled party hats for our glass and plastic bottles just for the occasion.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


I've been thinking a lot about this word recently.

Persistence is a common trait between a lot of my favorite artists, musicians, authors. And I've had the honor of hearing 2 of them speak in person this week in New York.

Chuck Close is an artist that paints 9 foot tall portraits. The amazing part is he breaks the canvas up into a grid and paints each small square individually. When viewers are in close proximity to the canvas they see only squares of patterns, but once viewers stand back, an image of a person's face appears. He said it takes about 4 months to do a black and white painting and over a year to do a color one. It was pretty darn inspirational to hear him speak in person about his technique and how he sometimes goes over and over the same square 100's of times. His art work has always impressed me in museums and he was equally impressive speaking about his art in person and hearing how involved he gets in each portrait.

I also has the pleasure of hearing Alisa Smith and James MacKinnon speak on the 100 mile diet that they started and the book named Plenty which details this local eating adventure. I've blogged about them before. They chose to eat within a 100 mile radius of their home in Vancouver, Canada for 1 year. Which sounds cool, but involves a lot of potatoes and a lot of time and effort in preparing and gathering their food. They've been touring and promoting their book across the continent and along the way they've stopped at supermarkets and noticed that the food is almost the same from store to store. You can find similar foods on the shelf at a supermarket in San Diego, California and in Toronto, Canada. They've also stopped at many Farmers' Markets along the way and they said that's where they see the big difference. The regional markets sell what grows best in that area and each market is abundant in different things. I, personally, have visited Farmer's Markets this past year in Michigan, Tennessee, and New York and they're quite right. There was a frost that killed all the apples in Tennessee, but beans were bountiful. Michigan has loads of asparagus in the spring, and New York City is often overflowing with interesting varieties of things like purple potatoes and baby sunflower greens. Another observation they made was that before starting this diet, Alisa didn't like carrots. Now she knows she doesn't like 90% of carrots, but there are actually several varieties of carrots out there that she enjoys quite a bit.

It's really impressive to hear how these successful people have decided what's important to them and they devote their time and energy to that cause. They come out with a very simple and clear message, allowing people to see something in a different way.

I can't talk about persistence without mentioning another favorite of mine which is Johnny Cash and his song One Piece at a Time. The song is about a worker on an auto assembly line who decides to make an entire car by taking pieces off the line one at a time. He takes the pieces home in his lunchbox. Over the course of 20+ years he finally has enough to build his dream car. It doesn't exactly go together as he planned, but with some modification he has a drivable car - all for free (or sort of anyway).

I think persistence is about deciding what's important to you and working for that, diving into it, no matter who you are or what you do - artist, author, songwriter, mother, father, friend, designer, garbage collector... auto worker.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

de-catalog your mailbox

Catalog Choice just came across my inbox. It's an easy, free service that allows you to decline unsolicited catalogs, reducing the number of catalogs in your mailbox and the number of trees that get sent to the paper mill. I've already signed up to decline the mega-catalogs that I get in the mail. In a lot of cases, I'd rather just look up the info online, anyway.

Let's hear it for being paperless! Yay no paper!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

It will be Craftacular!

The Bust Craftacular is coming Saturday Dec. 8 at the Metropolitan Pavilion in NYC. RePlayGround will have a booth there along with a few hundred other super-crafty people. We'll be selling our recycled wares. If you're in the area be sure to stop by. And pick up some handmade crafty gifts for the holidays, while you're at it.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Dancing Rabbits

I had lunch recently with a few people who lived at the Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage in Northern Missouri. And the way they explained it to me is the Ecovillage is set up so that everyone plays a part in the community and they all live sustainably. They grow their own food, they fix their own houses, and they share 2 cars between everyone in the village, Part of the reason they created this was was to demonstrate that small communities can work together to create and produce and make most everything you need. It sounds like a lot of fun to me! What I wanna know is who gets to teach the dancing classes to the rabbits?