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Recipe for Good

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Food for Thought
"The day is coming when a single carrot, freshly observed, will set off a revolution."
-Paul Cezanne, artist


The Food Matters Project: Sweet Potato and Corn Fritters

This is what it's come to. If you look at the photo on the left, you'll see the light. I think we should take a moment to mourn its loss, don't you? The earlier sunrise does make it easier for me to wake up at 6 am, but the 5 pm sunset makes me utterly helpless when it comes to taking blog pictures. If you look at the photo on the right, you'll see the glare from my kitchen bulb, and my shadow from standing over the plate with iPhone in hand. Sigh.

But onto the recipe! It's quite good, with bright flavors, and easy to prep in advance. When it came to making the fritters, I followed Mark Bittman's recipe, but decided to use a lone avocado and Greek yogurt to slather alongside instead of the Thai dipping sauce.

For the original recipe, visit Aura's blog. 


Reactions to Prop 37: Seeing the GMO Glass Half-Full

I spent my post-election day at a philanthropy conference pondering the role foundations play in civil society, and how we can work together to change local communities. As it turned out, this was the most therapudic place I could have been. 

The first speaker, Benjamin R. Barber, had a lot to say about our role as citizens. If liberty were only about voting, he said, we would only be free on election day. Citizenship, not voting, is how democracy plays out locally. It's about engagement, participation, listening, and putting our differences aside for the greater good. The next thing he said turned my perspective around.

"We either will join together to confront problems, or we will be defeated by them one by one."

My day had begun in disappointment, not about the outcome of the presidency, but about Proposition 37, the California measure that would require GMO labeling. During the course of this election season, Monsanto and friends spent over $40 million to keep Proposition 37 from passing, and their marketing push worked. The results were close, as only 500,000 votes divided the state. (See the official results here.)

I hoped this would be our tipping point, that my home state would set an example for the rest of the country and demand that our voices be heard. My glass half-empty scenario went like this: Almost 5 million people voted against GMO labeling. But when I changed perspectives and saw the glass as half-full, I realized that there were another 4.3 million Californians that spoke up. Even though the measure didn't pass, our collective voice was heard, and this campaign has pushed the GMO labeling issue into the mainstream. It might take a few more years, but the good food movement that Michael Pollan hopes is real, is here to stay.  

We still have work to do and more battles to fight with our forks and our votes, but we must view this as merely a bump in the road. We can choose to remain angry in our homes, or turn our disappointment into activism. I'll be choosing the latter, and I hope you'll join me.


The Food Matters Project: Barley Salad with Roasted Fall Vegetables

Fall is the season to embrace your oven for the workhorse it is and roast, roast, roast. Sometimes there's nothing I love more than roasting cauliflower florets and eating them straight off the pan. I usually make double the amount I need for a recipe because I know what will happen the second I pull them from the oven.

After a brief hiatus, I'm finally getting back in the swing of things with The Food Matters Project. This week's recipe was chosen by Camilla (check out her blog for the original recipe!). This kind of salad is a great way to use up bits and ends that might normally be discarded. I had planned to focus more on parsnips and carrots, but it turned out that I had half of a sweet potato, a knob of celery root, and some cauliflower leftover in the refrigerator, so I put them to good use.


1 cup barley

A variety of fall vegetables, diced (I used 5 carrots, 1 sweet potato, 1/2 a celery root, 1/2 a head of cauliflower)

Parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place all the vegetables on a roasting pan, season with salt, pepper, olive oil, and toss to combine. Roast until tender and beginning to brown, about 35 minutes.

While the vegetables cook, bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the barley, and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until tender. Drain the barley, then pour it back into the same pan. When the vegetables are done, scrape them into the pot with the barley, season with salt, more olive oil, and add in the chopped parsley.


Cooking for a Cause: The Green Mango Cafe Cookbook

Many trips abroad result in meaningful experiences that fade to memory once your feet are firmly planted on American soil again. But that's not what happened to Sonja and Alex. This husband and wife duo from the food blog A Couple Cooks cares deeply about human trafficking, and wanted to find a way to use their skills to benefit a unique vocational program in Cambodia called The Green Mango Cafe.

The cafe, run by the Center for Global Impact, offers two-year vocational training programs for at-risk women in Cambodia. Sonja and Alex traveled to the cafe, cooked with the students, and took detailed notes for their return home. Back in their Indianapolis kitchen, they developed and tested recipes, designed the layout, and prepared for this exciting moment. 

If you're like me, the arrival of fall also means that the year's best cookbooks will soon be released. I hope you'll watch their video below, learn more about the cause, and consider purchasing this cookbook. (It's $10 for a digital copy and $19.95 for the paperback version, and would make a great Christmas gift for your sisters, friends, and mothers!)

The best part? Not only will you be receiving a meaningful, practical, photo-driven cookbook, but all the proceeds will support The Green Mango Cafe! This is food philanthropy at its best.

And just in case you're on the fence because you think Cambodian cooking isn't your style, the cookbook is well-rounded, featuring a wide range of ethic cuisine including Italian, Mexican, French, American, and some traditional Cambodian dishes, too.

Click here to purchase your cookbook today!


The Food Matters Project: Improvising at the market

When it comes to shopping at the farmer's market, as much as I try to plan beforehand and limit my impulse buys, I've learned the value of going with the flow and allowing some improvisation to occur.

My market didn't have any apricots yesterday, but since plums were overflowing at the stalls, Mark Bittman's apricot polenta cake quickly turned into Dorie Greenspan's dimply plum cake. Dorie's cake has been lovingly made in all corners of the web. You can view her recipe here.

I baked my cake in an 8-inch round cake pan, and omitted the cardamom and orange zest since I didn't have either on hand; I used 10 small plums. A simple cake like this really lets in-season fruit shine. I imagine it would be equally wonderful with nectarines or peaches.

For the original Mark Bittman recipe for apricot cornmeal cake, visit Jen's blog.