A Thanksgiving Gathering: Eat Local, Eat Sustainable, Eat Mindful

For those of you who are following along with my blog, you will know that I do a lot of cooking. I find it’s relaxing and connects me to the root of our hunger. Last night my boyfriend Andrew and I were flipping through Netflix. After what seemed like a lifetime of searching for the perfect movie, we settled on a documentary: GMO OMG. A concerned father, Jeremy Seifert, goes on the search for answers to Genetically Modified Organisms. He tells his two boys to put on their “GMO goggles” so they can spot perpetrators. Teaching his kids to be aware, Seifert finds out the problem is much more pervasive than people think. In short, Genetically Modified Organisms are seeds that have been genetically altered to allow plants to be resistant to pesticides and herbicides so weeds and bugs are killed but not the plant itself. Seems great right? Not so fast! Check out this link to learn more about GMOs.

This is not the first documentary done on this issue. Food Inc. is a popular documentary and one of my favorites. And there are many others to delve into the subject. As I watched, the spark of environmentalism was lit in me once again. I have a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Geography and have since pursued my real passion which is writing. But I was compelled and I was angry. I was ready to march on Washington!

Of all the environmental issues out there, food safety is what I’m most passionate about. I realized I had left a critical component out in all my cooking and baking. (Or maybe it’s because I was running so far away from my degree that I wanted to forget it) But I can’t remain blind to the obvious pitfalls of our modern food system. Food and water are most critical to human life. Shouldn’t we care about what we’re putting in our bodies? If anything else, isn’t it a violation of our rights to be genetically altering seeds without our knowledge and with no labeling?

The problem doesn’t just end with the chicken or the cow. Just because you buy local meat or eggs doesn’t mean that animal wasn’t fed GMO corn. And if they are fed GMO corn are they really “all natural??” And that’s where it gets complicated. So it seems you have to go back to the seed. And even that seems excessive. But why?! Why are we remaining silent on our most critical need? I believe we need to push for answers and find out what’s really in our food instead of following the food system blindly. It’s our right and we have to start exercising it.

Okay, I’m off my pulpit now. All this to say, I want to make truly sustainable food a component to my cooking. (And I want to start utilizing this degree somewhat ;)) This Thanksgiving I implore you to dig a little deeper into where your food is coming from. If you’re buying locally sourced meat, ask them, “Are your animals fed with GMO corn?” We have a right to know. If for the sheer novelty of it. People might look at you weird and they might think you’re crazy. You can just say, “I’m doing this for my health, and my sanity.”

I don’t know how to tackle the GMO issue in my shopping just yet. Just like I said earlier, it’s a very pervasive issue that permeates almost the entire food system. It seems I will have to dig a little deeper and get back to you. But GMO aside, I can give you some tips for a more sustainable turkey day!

Buy Local

Where are you getting your bird from? The supermarket (where who knows how they were treated – just watch Food Inc.), or the local farm that raises and slaughters the free range turkeys right there? If you’re in doubt of where to look, check out Eat Wild. Just click on your state, and they have a list of grass fed farms. Find one near you and go talk to the butcher – it’s our most basic right to know where our food is coming from.

Buy In Season

This one is simple but hard all at the same time. We live in a world where we can go to the supermarket and get an orange or some berries right in the middle of winter! But those fruits had to be transported to your area from somewhere where they will actually grow. Do yourself and the planet a service and eat seasonally. Just because they provide you with oranges doesn’t mean you have to eat them (and trust me, you can survive without oranges over the winter). Expand your palette and eat winter and fall fruits and vegetables! You’ll be a connoisseur in no time!

Buy Organic

This one is really up to you because I think the innocence of organic has been polluted. When you go to the store and you see something labeled “organic” or “all-natural,” can you really be sure it is organic? You would have to go back to the source to find out. So to me it’s really about the label – and money. So if it eases your conscience to buy organic, go ahead! If it eases your wallet not to buy organic, I’m not going to get mad at you. The jury is still out on this one in my book.

I sincerely hope that we all dig a little deeper and find out where our food is coming from. Not just for Thanksgiving, but any time of the year. As I keep saying over and over, we have a right to healthy, safe, and sustainable food.

If you want to know more about the documentary, you can view their website here.

If you have any thoughts or comments on these issues I’d love to hear from you! What are you doing for a sustainable turkey day?

A Thanksgiving Gathering: Cranberry Sauce

cranberry sauce prep

 

cranberry sauce prep

 

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washed cranberries

 

spilled lemon juice

 

finished product: cranberry "jelly" sauce

I have to say it was such a joy making this! Growing up my mom always bought the canned cranberry sauce from the store so I never knew anything different. My dad and I being the healthier eaters in the family, were really the only ones to eat it. The tart taste of cranberry sauce was the perfect compliment to an otherwise sweet Thanksgiving meal. And I will always and forever love the jellied kind!

In my quest to make most things from scratch, I realized Cranberry Sauce is super simple to make and can be made plenty ahead of time. Just in time for my Thanksgiving gathering! All you do is prepare the cranberry sauce like normal. Then, pour the sauce into ball jars and let it firm up in the fridge for up to 10 days until you’re ready to serve!

I relished every moment in my kitchen making this. The cranberries bursting with color, yet each one a different shade of red. As the cranberries started to boil, the most heavenly aroma was born. And as it heated up, you could hear the cranberries popping.

– recipe –

Ingredients:

3 12 oz. bags of fresh cranberries (this makes 3 ball jars so however many jars you want is how many bags you need to get)

3 cups water

3 cups sugar

The juice of a whole fresh lemon

Directions:

Combine water, sugar, and lemon in a large stockpot. Stir, and bring to a boil.

Next, add the cranberries and bring back to a boil. Lower the temperature to medium high heat and continue on a soft boil for about 10 min, or until most of the cranberries have opened up.

When the sauce has cooled considerably, blend in a blender or food processor to get a smoother consistency. Pour into ball jars, cover and seal up to 10 days. Just remove whole from the jar when you’re ready to serve!

I hope you enjoyed this simple recipe that your guests will love! The best part is you can make it in advance to take some of the stress off you on turkey day! I am more of a fan of this simple, tart recipe but you can add whatever you like! Some people do an orange instead of a lemon and some add spices to make it even sweeter… it’s up to you!

Be on the lookout for my next post where I’ll show you how to make linen napkins for your Thanksgiving table!

{A Recipe} Red Potato, Sausage, and Feta Bake

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This one is a hit guys! It’s another fall recipe from A Daily Something. I changed it slightly as I omitted the butternut squash and used red potatoes instead (mainly because Andrew doesn’t like butternut squash :/). So I intend to use butternut squash in it someday and if you do, tell me what you think! I can only guess it’s just as delicious as this!

This is probably one of the best combinations of flavors I’ve tasted in a while. Everything goes so nicely together. The italian sausage adds a sweetness to the dish and the feta cheese helps to balance that sweetness out. I was tempted to try a leaner meat in this but I’m glad I didn’t because the sausage added great flavor. The nice thing about this is one helping was enough for us. The flavors were so intense it left you satisfied, not begging for more.

This is definitely a savory fall dish you have to try! Our home was filled with the most pleasant aroma and we couldn’t wait to eat it! There is also versatility to this dish as you can toss it with scrambled eggs the next morning! I’m always happy when I make something Andrew really likes so this is staying on the “must make” list for sure!

– Recipe –

You will need:

– 1 lb. Italian sausage
– 2 large onions
– 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes, divided
– 1/4 cup olive oil
– 2 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
– 1 1/2 tsp. salt
– 1 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
– 1 tsp. pepper
– 2 medium butternut squash or 1 lb. red potatoes, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
– 2 cups (8 oz.) crumbled feta cheese
– 2 small sweet red peppers, chopped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large skillet, cook the sausage, onions and 1/4 tsp. pepper flakes over medium heat for 8-10 minutes or until sausage is no longer pink and onions are tender, breaking up sausage into crumbles; drain.

In a large bowl, combine the oil, rosemary, salt, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, and remaining pepper flakes. Add butternut squash, cheese, red peppers, and sausage mixture; toss to coat.

Transfer to an ungreased shallow roasting pan. Cover and bake for 35 minutes. Uncover; bake 10-15 minutes longer or until squash is tender. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then serve & enjoy.

I hope you try this recipe! If you do, let me know what you think! I am certain you won’t be disappointed.

A Fall Favorite: Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

I believe fall is the most contemplative season. Whether we’re out on a walk or in the kitchen, it seems the world stops for a while so we can admire its beauty. The cold weather beckons for good food and warm company; whether that’s around a fire or a table. I always think about Little Ingalls Widler, back in the pioneer days. The always had a fire going in the kitchen and the family would gather around the table for a warm meal. In the fall and winter, it was crucial that they had enough food stored up. Though we don’t have to worry about that now-a-days, I still think it does one good to step back, take great care in preparing, and savor the company the meal is shared with.

It is an understatement to say Butternut Squash is a fall favorite! I’ve seen it everywhere from Pinterest to Instagram. And would it come as a shock to you to say that I’ve never even tasted it before?! Yep, you heard that right. I’m not a big soup fan, I will admit. But I couldn’t resist when I saw A Daily Something’s recipe. It looked so delectable, from preparation to the bowl. Once more, it wasn’t too complicated that I could give it a first try. Now, this is a very basic recipe but the flavor in this should not be understated. The squash is roasted with garlic and thyme making it a very savory soup. You can always create your own recipe and add things like pine nuts and apples, or add buttermilk or half and half for a thicker soup. But if you’re looking for a basic butternut squash recipe with loads of flavor, this is a great place to start!

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removing the seeds

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roasted butternut squash

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bread

butternut squash soup

 

{Recipe}

Butternut squash

1 yellow onion, peeled and chopped

6 cloves garlic

Olive oil

Fresh thyme

Chicken broth

 

– Preheat oven to 375 –

Start by cutting the butternut squash in half. Scoop out the seeds in the cavity (these can be roasted just like pumpkin seeds!). Place 3 cloves garlic and 2-3 sprigs of thyme in each cavity. Then, drizzle the halves with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Carefully turn the halves over and place on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour. You should be able to stick a fork in it easily if it is done!

Sauté the onions in olive oil over medium heat. Next, add the butternut squash. Turn up the heat a little so the squash can caramelize. Add your chicken stock and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Lastly, use an immersion blender to break up the squash even more. Otherwise you will end up with a very thick consistency. Serve with fresh bread and enjoy!

Slow Living {In the Kitchen}

Ahh, finally back to the blog. So sorry I’ve been gone, friends. I’ve been pretty busy and preoccupied with other projects! My friend Sarah and I have decided to start a business. Not really sure what it will look like yet, but it will be centered around the idea of living simply – Hey! That’s what my blog is about! More than living simply for ourselves, we want to show others what it looks like and how they too can live a life more in tune with their surroundings. One way to do this is to hold small, intimate gatherings; enjoying company and conversation, and teaching the art of simplicity.

I figured I would show you what I’ve been doing lately. I’ve been into food photography from what I’ve been baking and cooking. There is something so personal about the food we eat. It is our daily sustenance; without it, we die. But in this day and age, we have lost touch with our food. When we grow our food, harvest it, prepare it, and eat it, we have a personal connection and a knowledge of where that food came from. Food photography is about showing the beauty of being in our kitchen, of slow living, and all the messes and imperfections that come along with it. In other words, it’s life.

{Vegetable and Ricotta Pizza}

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{Pumpkin Pie}

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{Apple Galette}

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{Morning Cast-Iron Baked Eggs}

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