Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Farm to Table at Home: Kitchen Table Talk #3

July's Kitchen Table Talk was all about preparing delicious meals with produce from the farmers' market or CSA box.  Chef Lesley Stiles demonstrated two easy and tasty salads.  The dinner was hosted by author Yvonne Prinz.

We discussed some of our favorite ways to use fresh produce and ate a locally sourced meal full of wonderful fruits and vegetables.

Recipes for Lesley's salads are below.

Sweet and Sour Tomatoes
2 pounds of assorted heirloom tomatoes, seeded and cut into chunks
1 bunch green onions, sliced thin
2 tablespoons of chopped, fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons of honey
¼ cup of seasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
1 ½ teaspoon spice mixture (recipe follows) or 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1 teaspoon ground cumin

Put tomatoes, green onions and cilantro in a bowl and set aside.
Heat olive oil in a sauce pan. Add spice mixture and heat until bubbly, about 2 minutes.
Slowly add honey and rice vinegar. Cook for 3 more minutes or until a little thick and gooey.
Pour mixture over tomatoes, cilantro and green onions. Season with salt and let sit for about 5 minutes before using.

Spice Mixture
½ teaspoon cardamom pods 
2 teaspoons fenugreek 
½ teaspoon coriander seeds 
4 cinnamon sticks, crushed 
2 star anise 
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds 
3 tablespoons of cumin seed 

Place all spices in a dry, non stick sauté pan.
Turn temperature to medium high heat and toast the spices until the seeds begin to pop and the pan is lightly smoking. This should be extremely fragrant at this point. Do not burn the spices. Remove from heat and let cool. Grind all together in a coffee grinder. Store in a tightly covered jar in a dark place.

Mushrooms w/ Lemon and Parmesan
2 pound fresh cremini mushrooms, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
Juice and peel of 2 lemons
½ bunch Italian parsley, chopped fine
½ pound of parmesan reggiano
2 tablespoons good olive oil
Kosher salt

Mix mushrooms, garlic, parsley, lemon juice and peel, olive oil and salt in a bowl. Shave parmesan on top w/ a vegetable peeler. Serves 4 to 6.
Watermelon, Basil and Feta Salad w/ Balsamic Vinegar This may sound nuts as a salad but you have to try it to taste how luscious basil and watermelon can be together. Adding the feta and balsamic even out the sweet, sour, bitter and salty flavors.

One small watermelon will make enough salad for 10 to 12 people so you can double the recipe for a crowd.
½ of a small watermelon, peeled and cubed
20 basil leaves, sliced thinly
½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt

Toss watermelon and basil in a bowl. Mix in vinegar and olive oil and lightly toss. Mix in feta and season with salt. Serves 6.

Water melon is also great in smoothies. You can freeze it and use as the ice so as not to water down the flavor. Same goes for strawberries and pineapple too. Put a cup of yogurt into a blender. It can be vanilla or plain. Add about a cup of cut up watermelon and a few whole strawberries. To make it a little sweeter, add a tablespoon of your favorite jam. Add about a ¼ cup of orange juice and blend it up. This will make about 3 cups of smoothie. Jamba juice eat your heart out!
Lesley Stiles

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Health Benefits of Eating and Gardening Organically

"We know that eating and gardening organically are healthy for our bodies and our gardens.  But what are the other health benefits?  I'd like to suggest a few and then we can discuss what other benefits come to mind as the evening progresses."  Thus our discussion at the Slow Food Delta Diablo Kitchen Table Talk on June 27th started at the prompt of farmer Kristie Knoll.  She went on, "I believe everything is interconnected.  There is nothing we can do that doesn't affect at least one other thing.  I'd like us to look at the benefits to all when we choose to eat organically.  Obviously, we benefit.  But how do others benefit?  How does the Earth benefit?  What about the environment?  Everything we do can be equated to the ripples on a pond after a rock is tossed in the water.  Those ripples just keep going and going and going...."

Following this introduction, the attendees proceeded to have a lively discussion of how eating and gardening organically reaches beyond ourselves to the world at large.  Not only did we discuss organics, but biodiversity in our food system and how it has been diminished by corporate control.  We pondered the future of the planet for our kids and their kids and those beyond the immediate generations.

This was a very informative and thoughtful evening as we all enjoyed deliciously prepared food and drinks.  Some recipes are below.

Zucchini Carpaccio (from Shelley Somersett)
4-6 medium Zucchini thinly sliced spread on a platter
4 Tbsp Olive Oil shaken with 1 1/2 tbsp Meyer Lemon juice drizzle over Zuchini 
Sprinkle with 1/2 cup shaved or grated Parmigiano- Reggiano cheese 
Top with 1/4 - 1/3 C fresh mint cut in very thin strips
Serve immediately

Green Salad with Beets (from Lucy Meinhardt)
Mixed salad greens
Cooked and marinated beets (red, golden, Chioggia or a mixture)
Goat cheese in small pieces
Chopped roasted walnuts

Preparation of beets
Beets are best roasted or steamed as soon as possible after they are harvested to preserve the sugars. I prefer trimming the beets and wrapping them in foil, then baking them in a 375 oven until tender.

Peels will slip right off the cooled cooked beets.  Slice the beets into a container and dress with vinaigrette (see below); refrigerate until use. They will keep this way for a week.

Prepare salad greens as you normally do for the size salad you want. Toss with vinaigrette. Top with thinly sliced red onions, beets, chunks of goat cheese, and chopped roasted walnuts.

Garlic, 1 clove coarsely chopped
Balsamic vinegar, ¼ cup
Mustard, 1 tsp.
Pepper, ¼ tsp or to taste
Paprika, ¼ tsp or to taste
Tarragon, pinch
Mix the above ingredients together then add:
Olive oil, ¼ cup
Canola oil, ¼ cup
Shake well and serve; will keep several weeks in fridge.

Easy way to roast walnuts (or any nut): place nuts in a microwave safe container; microwave on high for 30 seconds. Stir. Microwave again for 30 seconds. Stir. Taste or smell and continue until the nuts are just right.

Crustless Quiche with Beet Greens and Brie (from Amy Erez)
12 eggs
½ c. goat milk
½ c. brie, in small pieces
½  c. asiago, grated
½ c. parmesan, grated
2 bunches fresh beet greens or red chard, chopped
2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
10 oz. mushrooms, white or crimini, roughly chopped
½ c. fresh basil, chopped
Seasalt to taste
4 Tbsp. Olive oil

Sauté onions and mushrooms in 2 Tbsp. olive oil until golden. Add greens to pan and sauté until wilted and lightly cooked. Salt as desired. Let cool.

Preheat oven to 350.  

Meanwhile, whisk the eggs in a large bowl with the goat milk. Add cheeses and basil and stir thoroughly. When vegetables are cooled, mix into egg and cheese combo.

Oil 9 x 14 inch pyrex baking pan with 2 Tbsp. olive oil.  Pour quiche batter into pan and bake for 40 minutes.  Serve warm or at room temperature. 
This is a great appetizer or serve with bread and a salad for a full meal. ©Amy Erez 2012

Layered Enchiladas (from Maryann Kachur)
In a casserole dish layer enchilada sauce, a layer of corn tortillas, grated sharp cheese and about 20-25 chopped fresh green chilies (any variety) seeds and all.  Add another layer of corn tortillas and pour enchilada sauce over all to fill casserole dish.

Top with olives, chopped green onions or more cheese.  Bake covered for 45 minutes at 375-400 degrees.

When my garden has squash, I will chop that up and add it too.  If you can make your own enchilada sauce from cooked down chilies or tomatillos, it's even better.

Greek Zucchini Fritters (from Gail Wadsworth)
By Martha Rose Shulman
2 pounds large zucchini, trimmed and grated on the wide holes of a grater or food processor
2 eggs
1/2 cup chopped mixed fresh herbs, such as fennel, dill, mint, parsley 
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 cup fresh or dry breadcrumbs, more as necessary
Freshly ground pepper
1 cup crumbled feta
All-purpose flour as needed and for dredging
Olive oil for frying

Salt the zucchini generously and leave to drain in a colander for one hour, tossing and squeezing the zucchini from time to time. Take up handfuls of zucchini, and squeeze out all of the moisture. Alternately, wrap in a clean dish towel, and squeeze out the water by twisting at both ends.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs and add the shredded zucchini, herbs, cumin, bread crumbs, salt and pepper to taste and feta. Mix together well. Take up a small handful of the mixture; if it presses neatly into a patty, it is the right consistency. If it seems wet, add more breadcrumbs or a few tablespoons of all-purpose flour. When the mixture has the right consistency, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour or longer.

Heat 1 inch of olive oil in a large frying pan until rippling, or at about 275 degrees. Meanwhile, take up heaped tablespoons of the zucchini mixture, and form balls or patties. Lightly dredge in flour.

When the oil is very hot, add the patties in batches to the pan. Fry until golden brown, turning once with a spider or slotted spoon. Remove from the oil, and drain briefly on a rack. Serve with plain Greek style yogurt if desired.

Gluten-free Vanilla Cornbread (from Jan Enderle, pictured above)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease and prepare a 9-inch cake pan by lining it with parchment paper.
Whisk together:
1 C certified gluten-free corn meal
3/4 C sorghum flour
1/2 C tapioca or potato starch (not potato flour!)
1C organic light brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1&1/2 tsp baking powder
1 round tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp xanthan gum

Add in and stir:
2 organic free-range eggs or 1 TBS Ener-G Egg Replacer whisked with 1/4 C warm water
1/2 C plus 2 TBS light olive oil
1 C very warm water
1 TBS bourbon vanilla extract

Beat by hand until a smooth batter is formed, about 1 minute.  Add up to 2 extra TBS of warm water if needed, to thin.  The batter should be like thick cake or muffin batter but not too stiff.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan.  Bake in the center of the preheated oven for 25-35 minutes, until firm to the touch in the center.  Here at sea level it baked in 30 minutes.  A wooden pick inserted into the centered emerged dry.

Place the pan on a wire rack and allow the cornbread to rest 15 minutes before cutting.  This helps to keep the slices from crumbling.  Cut with a very sharp knife.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Volunteer Opportunity in Slow Food in Schools Garden

Come one come all! 

Friday, July 6 from 9 am to 1 pm.

Join Slow Food Delta Diablo for the amazing experience of participating in the Slow Food Delta Diablo Slow Food in Schools Organic Garden at College Park High School in Pleasant Hill. The garden needs some love for the summer to keep it vibrant until the student stewards return in the fall. We will be pulling weeds and laying mulch as well as adding compost to beds. There is an abundance of opportunity for seed saving from astoundingly fragrant sweet peas and huge Oriental poppies. Bring gloves, hat, water. Please let Lesley Stiles know if you can help out. or 925 323 3230

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Kitchen Table Talk 3: Farm to Table at Home

Invitations have been sent for the third in our monthly series of Kitchen Table Talks.  This talk will focus on creative and easy ways to prepare fresh foods from the farmers' market or CSA.  Hosted by author Yvonne Prinz with special guest Chef Lesley Stiles, the potluck will also feature a cooking demo by Lesley.  Places for this dinner are extremely limited so be sure to respond to your evite.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Kitchen Table Talk 2: The Health of Eating and Gardening Organically

The second in our series of Kitchen Table Talks will take place June 27th.  Invitations have been sent out via email to all members of Slow Food Delta Diablo.  The spaces are filling fast!  Be sure to RSVP using the evite link you received and indicate what dish you will contribute.

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Value of Eating Local Food

The first Kitchen Table Talk was a success!  The next one is open and evites have been sent to all members.  So, if you are a member and have not seen it, check your spam.

Below are Matt and Lily of Shooting Star CSA after a delicious pot-luck dinner talking about how they got into farming.
Here are attendees listening intently to the challenges and rewards of farming organically. 

We had delicious grilled seasonal vegetables, noodles with peas, almonds and other yummy additions, spinach-lentil patties, fresh green salad, zucchini crescents, beet salad with ricotta and chives, cole slaw, warm garlic bread, freshly harvested strawberries from Shooting Star CSA, blueberry coconut mousse and a caramel apple.  Some of the members who attended agreed to share their recipes.  Here they are:

Perfect Cole Slaw (from Amy Erez)
½ head green cabbage, shredded
½ c. carrots, shredded
Dressing –
¾ c. mayonnaise
½ c. milk
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 ½ tsp. Dijon mustard
½ tsp. celery seeds or salt
½ tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. honey
¼ tsp. cayenne
 Salt to taste
A dash of hot sauce

Whisk dressing in a large bowl. Mix vegetables together in the dressing. Serve chilled.

Blueberry Coconut Shake (from Jan Enderle)
This shake is not only delicious, but packed with nutrition. For a creamy mousse, refrigerate overnight and eat with a spoon the next day!
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1 can  (14 oz.) coconut milk
5 T  almond butter
¼ cup hemp seed
¼ cup water
3 T  maple syrup
1 tsp  vanilla extract
Put all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.
Serves  2 to 4 as a shake – up to 8 as a mousse in small pudding cups.

Vinaigrette (from Myra Hackett)
This was served over a delicious green salad with walnuts and cranberries.
2/3 C Olive Oil
1/3 C Sherry Vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp sugar
salt and pepper
Put all ingredients in jar and shake well.  Refrigerate and use as desired.  Bring to room temperature and shake to emulsify before use.

Zucchini Crescents (from Gail Wadsworth)
This recipe is from Meze by Diane Kochlias
3 large zucchini
1/4 C extra virgin olive oil
1/2 C grated kasseri cheese
1/2 C crumbled Greek feta cheese
1 large egg
salt and pepper
2 sheets of puff pastry dough
olive oil for brushing pastry

Wash, trim and shred zucchini.  Heat 2 TBS olive oil in a large skillet and saute the zucchini until totally wilted and until all the pan juices have cooked off.  Let the zucchini cool slightly, mix with remaining filling ingredients.  

Place the dough on a floured board and roll out so it is a bit thinner than when it comes out of the package.  Cut the first square of dough into quarters and then cut each quarter diagonally from corner to corner to create 8 equal triangles.  Repeat with second sheet of dough.

Preheat the oven to 350 and lightly oil 2 baking sheets.

Take a heaping tablespoon of filling and place it on the bottom of each triangle, at the widest edge.  Roll up each triangle to form a little crescent.  Place each one seam side down on the oiled baking sheets.  Brush with a little olive oil.  Bake for about 25 minutes or until golden brown and puffed. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012


We are in the process of organizing several more kitchen table talks.

In brief:

  • June 27th Amy Erez, cookbook author and co-owner of Sugi Health and Fitness  will host farmer Kristie Knoll of Brentwood's Knoll Farms in the healing environment of the Sugi Garden for a potluck and discussion of the health benefits of eating and gardening organically.
  • Then, July 12th author Yvonne Prinz and Chef Lesley Stiles will address the question:  You have produce from the farmers' market or CSA, now what do you do with it?  Simple solutions and favorite cookbooks will be discussed.
  • In August, Shelley Somersett will host an heirloom tomato propagator for a discussion of heirloom tomatoes.  

More details will follow here. In the meantime, keep on the lookout in your e-mailboxes for evites for this events.  Seating for all is limited.  The first potluck filled in less than 24 hours.  We expect to also host a Kitchen Table Talk on keeping chickens in suburban neighborhoods.  We are hoping that this particular talk will result in  campaigns to allow chickens in Pleasant Hill and Brentwood.  Again, if you are either interested in hosting a talk or being a speaker, let us know!

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Value of Eating Local

May 16th will be the first of our Kitchen Table Talks on the value of eating local food.  Guest speakers will be Matt McCue and Lily Schneider of Shooting Star CSA.

We have a few hosts and lots of ideas.  Contact us if you want to participate in some way.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Kitchen Table Talks

Some of you may be familiar with the concept of Kitchen Table Talks when the phrase is used to organize in communities.  The head table of Slow Food Delta Diablo likes the idea of sitting around kitchen tables and discussing important topics.  As a result, we made the decision to begin a series of Kitchen Table Talks.  We have some ideas for topics.  Many of these have been suggested by members but some are just timely.   

Lots of organizations have used the kitchen table as a location for discussion of important issues.  Canada had a vast series of these events all across the country, that helped to define a national food policy. California Food and Justice Coalition, Urban Tilth, Food First and other local organizations have held kitchen table talks about the upcoming Food and Farm Bill.  These have served as a mechanism to get people to discuss their concerns and potentially take action.

Now, we would like to do the same.

We have heard from some of you that action on local policies to keep backyard chickens are a concern and from others that labeling GMOs is of interest.  These are two topics we would like to propose right up front.  In addition, we think members might be interested in defining the "fair" in Good Clean Fair food; pesticide and antibiotic use in farming; defining "sustainability"; farm land preservation; what does the Farm Bill mean to you?; and finally, the benefits of backyard and schoolyard gardening.  We also think it might be good to have a CSA farmer talk at one of these evenings.

We have a few people who have volunteered to host one of these events.  The format is as follows. The events are pot-lucks and will be limited in attendance, depending on the host home.  Hosts only need to provide the seating space, dishes, glasses and flatware.  Guests bring the food.  Of course, if the host wants to contribute food as well, that is encouraged!  Slow Food Delta Diablo will organize the invitations and RSVPs and will help to identify and contact speakers with expertise on topics when we can.  We will assist in organizing all events as much as the hosts want us to.

We encourage all members and friends of Slow Food Delta Diablo to contact us with ideas for topics, speakers and of course host homes.  We're excited about this series of pot-luck discussions and hope you are too!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A New Year, What?

Wow, it's 2012 and it took us by surprise!

We are seeking volunteers to come on board to help lead the chapter and are asking all members to send us suggestions for events for this year.

The farm tour in 2011 was very popular as were many of the Thursday evening get togethers.  Our fund raiser at Pizza Antica was a big success and the film series was well attended.

New ideas are always welcome!  You know how to contact us.