Friday, January 19, 2018

Meat-Free Friday -- veg pot pie!

This week’s recipe comes from Food Network; it’s Trisha Yearwood’s Chickless Pot Pie!  It won rave reviews from the entire family!  Here’s the recipe, with a few changes that I made.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup thinly sliced carrots
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • 1 cup small diced potatoes (I used yukon golds)
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced celery
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped onion (I’d say mine were coarsely chopped…)
  • 1/2 cup butter (Trisha used butter substitute)
  • 1/3 cup unbleached, all-purpose dlour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper (I used more)
  • 1/4 tsp celery seed (I used probably 1/2 tsp at least)
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder (I left out)
  • 1 3/4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2/3 cup skim milk (Trisha used almond milk)
  • 2 9 inch unbaked pie crusts (Trisha’s were lard free, but I don’t mind a little fat)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F
  2. In a medium pot, combine the carrots, peas, potatoes, and celery.  Cover with water and boil until potatoes are tender.  Drain.
  3. In a large skillet, cook the onions in butter until they are soft.  Stir in flour, salt, pepper, and celery seed (and garlic powder if you used it).  Cook for about 2 minutes.  Slowly add broth and milk.  Allow to simmer until thick.  Remove from heat and stir in the veggies.  (I actually messed up this step, and cooked all of the veggies, including the onions, first.  Then I mixed in the spices and liquids.  It worked just fine and saves cleaning a pot!)
  4. Line a pie plate with one of the pie crusts.  Pour in the veggie mixture.  Top with the other pie crust (cut a few slits to let the steam out).  Don’t overfill the pie crusts, or your top pie crust will split.
  5. Place the pie pan on a baking sheet and bake for about 35 minutes or until crusts are golden brown and the middle is bubbly.  If the pie crusts get to dark, just cover them with aluminum foil for the remaining baking time.
Enjoy!  And just in case you need a little Trisha Yearwood playing while you cook (am I wrong, or is that Matthew McConaughey?)


Monday, January 15, 2018

Mammal Monday -- Canada Lynx

Since it looks like the current administration plans to delist the Canada Lynx from the Endangered Species Act list of protected species, let's take a look at these mammals with 5 lynx facts:

  1. They've got a huge range -- The U.S. makes up the southern portion of the lynx's range.  Populations are found in MN, ME, MT, CO, and WA, but they've been found as far south as NM!
  2. They help control populations of small mammals -- The main prey of lynx are small mammals that reproduce quickly -- think rabbits and snowshoe hare.
  3. When it comes to nurseries, they keep it simple -- Lynx mate in the winter and give birth 60 to 70 days later.  They don't dig dens; they usually make a nest in an existing depression that's covered with vegetation or an old log.
  4. They're a great example of population cycling and co-evolution -- Although lynx don't just eat snowshoe hares (as was believed several decades ago), hares make up a large part of their diet.  Lynx and hare populations actually cycle together -- when there are lots of hares, the lynx population increases.  This increase in lynx causes a decrease in hare numbers, which then leads to a decrease in lynx, and so on. See the IUCN listing for more info.
  5. There's some debate regarding how best to protect lynx --  Lynx are currently listed as threatened under the U.S. ESA and "least concern" by the IUCN.  Population size can change drastically year to year and populations are larger and more robust in northern areas in Canada.  U.S. ESA protections are thought to be helpful to the populations because help to provide habitat on Federal lands (under section 7 of the ESA) and may provide connectivity between southern and northern populations.
It turns out, there's a lynx named Max who's an animal ambassador -- don't try this at home:



Friday, January 12, 2018

Green Chile Stew!

Time for the annual re-post of this perfect winter stew recipe!

Billy Joel might be in a New York state of mind, and James Taylor has Carolina on his mind, but I’m thinking about New Mexico today – easily one of my favorite places.  Here’s a recipe for green chile69790002 stew from Family Circle magazine that I’ve altered (rather significantly) to taste just the way I like it.  I hope it takes you to New Mexico in your mind!

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 jar tomatillo salsa (I like Frontera)
  • 1 large green pepper, diced
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil3 heaping tablespoons of minced garlic
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 3, 4 oz. cans of hot diced green chilis (I like Hatch)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 12 oz. packages of Quorn Chick’n Tenders
  • 2 15.5 oz cans of butter beans, drained and rinsed (use 3 cans if you want really thick stew, rather than soup)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • sour cream, scallions

Instructions:
  1. In a large pot, saute onion, green pepper, and garlic in olive oil to slightly soften the peppers -- don't let the onions become transparent.  Add veggie broth, salsa, cumin, chilis, and salt. Add in quorn nuggets and simmer on low heat for at least 1/2 hour.
  2. Stir in beans and cilantro.
  3. Garnish with sour cream and scallions, if desired.  Serve with Phil's corn bread 69790001

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Can trees grow in Iceland?

I visited Iceland last summer (see my post about the trip) and couldn't help but notice how barren the landscape is.  Several exhibits we visited explained that Iceland used to have forests, but that seemed a bit far-fetched as we looked around the lava fields and glaciers.  Well, it turns out that this barren landscape isn't 100% natural -- humans caused much of the deforestation.  Now Icelanders are trying to bring back their forests. 

This project brings up many questions -- will it work? how will native species interact with the non-native tree species? how will climate change affect the forests? are the forests designed to enhance natural areas or are they more of an agricultural product? how will forests affect the microclimates in Iceland? how much fossil fuel will be saved from not transporting wood to Iceland from abroad?  I'm eagerly following this story!


Saturday, December 30, 2017

Friday, December 29, 2017

New Years Tradition!

OK -- it's almost New Years Day, so it's time for some blackeyed peas and greens to bring us luck!  I bet you’ll be looking for a tasty recipe with blackeyed peas – wish fulfilled!  Here are two perfect meat-free dishes for New Year’s!

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Vegetarian Hoppin’ John 


Ingredients

  • 2 15 oz. cans of blackeyed peas, drained 
  • 1 small red bell pepper, coarsely chopped 
  • 1 small green bell pepper, coarsely chopped 
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped 
  • 1 package vegetarian ham (I like Litelife Smart Deli Baked Ham, but there are many other available brands), chopped into small squares 
  • 1 tsp salt (to taste) 
  • 2 tblsp olive oil 
  • 3 cups cooked brown rice 
  • sour cream 
  • salsa verde
Instructions
1)  Heat olive oil in a pan.  Add green and red pepper and onion; saute until onion is almost translucent.  Add vegetarian ham and saute for about 2 more minutes. 
2)  Add blackeyed peas and salt to the vegetable/ham mixture.  Cook for another 10 minutes on low heat. 
3)  Serve over rice with sour cream and salsa.


Cornbread Soup

This is actually a recipe that I adapted from a Cooking Light recipe (January/February 2013) for Black-Eyed Peas and Cornmeal Dumplings, but we’ve changed it so much that we gave it a new name.  A big hit here at our house -- you can leave it with its mellow flavor or jazz it up with a hit of hot sauce.  Variety is the spice of life!

Ingredients


  • 9 or more pieces of Morningstar Farms veggie bacon strips, cooked crispy
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 tblsp olive oil
  • 1 tblsp minced garlic
  • 2 cups veggie broth
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 (15 oz.) cans blackeyed peas, undrained
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup chopped spring onions
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 4 tblsp chilled butter, cut into small chunks
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • hot sauce (optional)
Instructions
1)  Saute onion in a large pot with olive oil, for 2-3 minutes.  Add garlic and saute another minute.  Add veggie broth, blackeyed peas, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil.  If more liquid is needed to make the blackeyed pea mixture “soupy,” add 1 to 1 1/2 cups water or veggie broth.
2)  In a separate bowl, combine flour, spring onions, cornmeal, baking soda, butter, buttermilk.  Mix well and form into little balls by hand.
3)  Drop the cornmeal balls into the blackeyed pea mixture and allow them to cook thoroughly – at least 10 minutes.
4)  Serve immediately, adding hot sauce if you want a little extra zing!  A great side dish for this meal is kale, sauteed in olive oil with chopped red bell pepper and garlic.
Enjoy!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Last of a kind

Most folks have seen the horrible video of a starving polar bear, illustrating the effects of climate change.  An equally daunting threat to biodiversity is habitat loss, and the white rhino is one of the species that will go extinct due to habitat loss and overhunting.  My son took one of his college assignments and decided to reflect on the plight of endangered species.