Posts Tagged ‘local’

Coconut Curry Chicken and Baked Coconut Brown Rice

September 28, 2009

This is my third successful installment of 3 Mondays of $5 Dinner Challenges.  This means, each Monday I’ve been cooking a meal for 2 adults and 2 children for around $5.  Here’s the real challenge, though:  I do it while maintaining my commitment to eat mostly local and organic vegetables and humanely raised meats.  For this final meal, I made Coconut Curry Chicken and Baked Brown Rice for $6.96.

This meal was really fun to do because we don’t often do curries in our house.  It is a super simple recipe for the new-to-curry crowd that will impress your family.  The sweet coconut milk is perfectly suited to these warm savory spices.  Baking the rice assures a perfect result every time that doesn’t stick to the pan and is done without a rice cooker.  I used leeks, but it would be even easier and just as tasty made with onions and you can throw them in with the rest of the vegetables instead of having to cook separately like I did with the leeks.  Here’s how made this fantastic meal for just under seven dollars:

Prices and Products

  • 1 tbsp. expeller pressed canola oil: $0.10
  • 1 can (14.5 oz.) organic coconut milk: $0.50
  • 4 white mushrooms (0.15 lb.) : $0.47 (10% off)
  • 1/2 of an organic leek (0.275 lb.): $0.44
  • 1/2 of an organic carrot: $0.20 (10% off)
  • handful of organic snow peas: $0.45 (10% off)
  • small organic green bell pepper: $0.67 (10% off)
  • 2 tbsp. curry powder: $0.50
  • 1/2 tbsp. brown sugar: $0.01
  • 14.74 oz. organic, sustainably raised chicken: $2.81 (10% off)
  • 1 cup (uncooked) brown basmati:  $0.81
  • 1/2 tsp. salt: negligible

How I got these great deals:

  • The best deal of the day was the organic coconut milk which is normally more than two bucks a can.  Whole Foods was having a sale for $1.50 a can plus I had a dollar off coupon for any Thai Kitchen brand product (you can print this coupon from Yahoo Deals too – expires at the end of the year.)
  • I used my monthly 10% off coupon at PCC for all the groceries marked as “10% off” above.  It really does add up to some savings.  I would have done better on the veggies to go to the farmer’s market though.  Unfortunately there’s not time for that every week.


Coconut Curry Chicken and Vegetables

You will need:

  • 1/2 can coconut milk (about 7 ounces)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 3/4 lb skinless, boneless chicken thigh meat (about 15 ounces before skinning and deboning), cut into large bite-size pieces 
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1/2 of a leek (lengthwise half), sliced crosswise every 1/2 inch
  • 2 1/2 cups bite-sized pieces of vegetables (ex. mushrooms, carrot, bell pepper, snow peas)
  • 2 tbsp. curry powder
  • 1/2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup fresh Thair basil (optional), rough chopped

Put it together:

  • Heat 1/2 tbsp. oil in wok (or large skillet) on medium heat.  When hot, add leeks and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Transfer leeks to bowl and set aside.
  • Add 1/2 tbsp. oil to wok, still on medium heat.  When hot, add chicken and cook until no longer pink in the middle, stirring occasionally.  Transfer chicken to a bowl and set aside.
  • Bring coconut milk and water to simmer in wok on medium heat
  • Add brown sugar and curry powder and stir until well blended.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes.
  • Add in chicken and all vegetables except for the leeks.  Cook about 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender-crisp.  Toss in leeks and serve.  Optional:  garnish with Thai basil

Baked Coconut Rice (Serves 4). 

You will need:

  • 2 T oil (e.g. Canola)
  • 1/2 can coconut milk (about 7 ounces)
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup long grain brown rice (ex. basmati)

Put it together:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • In a saucepan, combine the coconut milk, water, salt, and sugar. Bring to a boil.
  • Wash rice. Lightly brown the rice in oil in a fry pan.  Transfer to a 1 1/2 quart ovenproof dish. 
  • Pour coconut milk mixture over the rice, take caution because this can create a lot of hot steam.
  • Bake covered for 50 to 60 minutes, until rice is tender and fluffy and moisture has been absorbed.

The White House Garden Video

September 12, 2009

In case you haven’t seen it yet, here’s footage of the White House garden and First Lady Michelle Obama on teaching the next generation the importance of fresh, home-made family meals.  Chef Sam Kass discusses some of the history behind the White House garden.  I don’t care if it is propaganda, I enjoyed it and am glad to see this message coming out of the White House.

Morning Glory Farm Book Review

September 9, 2009

Disclaimer:  Vinyard Stories publishers sent me a review copy of this book (although I had to spend $20 at the farmer’s market to make the recipes, so I think we’re even.  : ) )

Morning Glory Farm and the Family that Feeds an Island is the story in pictures, words and recipes of James and Deborah Athearn’s farm on Martha’s Vineyard.  The author is Tom Dunlop, local Martha’s Vineyard writer.  Alison Shaw is the photographer and the recipes are a collaboration of local island chefs and the Morning Glory Farm Stand.


The Pictures

By far my favorite part of this book is the vibrant pictures.  Shaw’s photography shines from shots of the farm and family to the mouth-watering depictions of the recipes.  The colors are so clear that you feel you can jump right into the fields and pick a head of lettuce for dinner.  The pictures for the recipes made me want to cook each one just so I could taste it.  I don’t find photographers often where I am impressed by their landscape, people and food shots.  I’ll definitely be keeping this book on my kitchen counter for when I’m practicing my food photography.

The Recipes

I love how the recipes in this book are organized by season.  It made it easy to choose a recipe with ingredients available at my local farmer’s market.  I just opened up the summer section and knew most everything would be in season.  Malissa and I each made a Morning Glory Farm recipe.  Mostly this is because I really really wanted to make the Baked Stuffed Poblano Peppers but couldn’t because of the cheese, so I asked if I could live vicariously through her.

Malissa said the stuffed poblano peppers were absolutely wonderful.  “The combination of the cinnamon and the mildly spicy flavor of the poblano was really unique and delicious.”  She also noted that it reheated beautifully.

Unfortunately, while it turned out okay in the end, the recipe wasn’t written that well and I’m curious if they tested it (you’d be surprised how often cookbook authors don’t!)  It says to roast the peppers in a 375 degree oven, which is really low for blistering peppers and the skins weren’t easy to remove since it would have taken all day at this temp.  Malissa also said the recipe in general didn’t flow well.  That’s too bad, but she did say “overall, I think if you were making stuffed peppers for the first time, it wasn’t the best recipe for learning how to do it.  On the other hand, if you’re looking for a stuffed pepper recipe with a different twist, then this recipe would be great inspiration.”


I found very similar results with the Morning Glory Zucchini Bread.  I was very impressed with how moist the bread was even a couple of days after baking and slicing.  It also kept its rise and had a beautiful crumb and fresh taste.  It’s not as much of a spice cake as some zucc. breads, but does have a hint of cinnamon. It was by far the most beautiful-looking sweet bread I’ve made.

Unfortunately… the recipe didn’t say to mix the dry ingredients separately before combining with the wet.  I knew to do this, but I used to work in a bakery.  Not everyone knows the rules and you have to account for this when writing a cookbook.  Another thing I would do differently is to put the approximate weight of the zucchini, so you know how much to buy at the market.  “2 to 2 1/2 cups shredded zucchini” doesn’t cut it.  Next time I’ll use whole wheat pastry flour too.  I always think something’s missing in refined flour dishes.  I suspect this recipe will do fine with the switch.

All’s well that end’s well though, because Malissa and I both enjoyed our Morning Glory meals and we’ll definitely be making these recipes again.

The Writing

I think people who live on Martha’s Vineyard would find the story in this book quite interesting.  The Capulet and Montague style drama came off a bit provincial and contrived to me, but I was warned before the book was sent that it was very local writing.  I would have loved to hear more about the techniques they use to make the farm sustainable.  But then, I’m a food geek.

I’d highly recommend this book for local residents of the Vineyard and for any foodie wanting a beautiful coffee table book.  That’s not to say I don’t recommend the recipes!  They were delicious; I’d just say you should be comfortable in the kitchen before picking it up.

$5 Dinner Challenge: Australian Zucchini Slice

September 7, 2009

This is my second installment of 3 Mondays of $5 Dinner Challenges.  This means, each Monday I’ve been cooking a meal for 2 adults and 2 children for around $5, although this week’s dish will serve 4 to 6.  Here’s the real challenge, though:  I do it while maintaining my commitment to eat mostly local and organic vegetables and humanely raised meats.  For this second meal, I made Australian Zucchini Slice for $6.25.

My husband learned to cook this dish in home ec. class in Australia and when he moved to the states he wrote home for it.  I’m so glad he did because it is a great go-to recipe for brunches or anytime you need a hearty one-dish meal.  Fresh local eggs give this all-around family favorite a lovely rise.  This is one of the few egg dishes that I add the onions to still raw.  This recipe bakes long enough to soften and sweeten them, but still leaving a garden flavor.  A scoop of organic flour makes for a perfectly soft texture throughout.  Of course no recipe of my husband’s would be complete without smokey bacon, but I’ve made it vegetarian before and that’s great too!

I’ve included both the original Australian recipe and the converted American recipe, so hopefully no matter which side of the globe you’re on you’ll find it accessible.  The American version calls for whole wheat pastry flour, since that’s what we use in our household, but the original is white flour.  I’ve also noticed that I usually have to increase cooking times when making Aussie dishes, so the American one’s cooking time is longer.  (My guess is the difference in humidity causes this.)

Here’s how I made this fantastic meal for just over six bucks:

Prices and Products

  • 13 oz. local, certified organic zucchini from farmer’s market:  $0.75
  • 1 large local, certified organic onion from farmer’s market: $0.65
  • 3 rashers bacon (no animal byproducts or antibiotics in the animal’s feed or added hormones): $1.40
  • 4 oz. local, co-op owned, non-BGH cheddar (Tillamook): $1.00
  • 1 cup organic whole wheat pastry flour: $0.34
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder: $0.05
  • 1/2 cup expeller pressed canola oil: $0.81
  • 5 eggs from my friend’s happy backyard chickens: $1.25
  • Couple dashes of salt and pepper:  negligible

How I got these great deals:

  • I chose this dish because I knew zucchini and onions were in abundance locally right now, so was able to get excellent prices at the farmer’s market.  The onions were originally 75 cents each, but I only had 65 cents on me and the farmer had onions coming out her ears and was happy to take it.
  • I looked on the websites for my local grocery stores for specials on Tillamook cheese.  This brand is so popular here that usually someone has a sale.  Sure enough, in my local QFC’s online sale flyer, it was $3.99 for 1 lb.  You can get even better deals if you buy a larger brick, but we’d never go through it all.  It’s not a great deal if you throw half away!
  • My friend Angie is super into gardening and raising chickens naturally.  She sells the eggs of these “happy backyard chickens” for $3.00 a dozen.  This is a great way to get truly free-range eggs at a discount price.  Don’t think you have to live out in the sticks to do this either.  We’re in a suburb right outside of Seattle and it’s quite common for people to raise chickens.  Just ask around.  I bet you’ll find someone.


Zucchini Slice (American recipe) Serves 4 to 6.

You will need:

  • 13 oz (0.83 lb) zucchini
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 rashers (slices) bacon
  • 1 cup (4 oz.) grated cheddar or mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 5 eggs
  • salt, pepper

Put it together:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Grate unpeeled zucchini coarsely, fine chop onion and bacon.
  • Fry bacon over medium heat until lightly browned on both sides.
  • Sift together flour, 1 1/2 tsp. salt and baking powder.
  • Combine zucchini, onion, bacon, cheese, sifted flour, oil and lightly beaten eggs.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Pour into well-greased 2-quart casserole dish.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes or until browned.

Before Oven:

After Oven:

Zucchini Slice (original recipe)

  • 375 g zucchini
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 rashers bacon
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup self-raising flour
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 5 eggs
  • salt, pepper

Grate unpeeled zucchini coarsely, fine chop onion and bacon.  Combine zucchini, onion, bacon, cheese, sifted flour, oil and lightly beaten eggs, season with salt and pepper.  Pour into well-greased lamington tin (base measure 16 cm x 26 cm), bake in moderate oven 30 to 40 minutes or until browned.  Serves 4 to 6.