Posts Tagged ‘sustainable’

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.

Grocery Store Wars

September 21, 2009

While I head out shopping for inspiration for my $5 dinner, please enjoy this entertaining video I found over at Good Food & Bad Food:

Local Sustainable Farming at its Best

September 4, 2009

Last Sunday was packed full of fun and learning as I attended the Skagit River Ranch Farm Day. Here’s a recap in pictures that were taken with 10 month old Rodger strapped to my chest – a unique challenge. Unfortunately this means I wasn’t able to check photos out after taking them and an entire set of pics of the burger cook-off were over-exposed beyond repair.  : (   </excuses>

Skagit River Ranch has about 850 acres, so what you see the cows grazing on here is just a fraction of their grassland. Slaughter is done at the edge of this field in a mobile unit owned by their slaughtering co-op, the first of its kind. They believe this to be the cleanest, most humane and low-stress environment for food production.  Feedlot cows are not allowed in this custom-made stainless steel unit in order to reduce E. coli contamination.

Turkeys at Skagit River Ranch (SRR) run wild in the yard eating insects, grass and seeds, but their diet is also supplemented with spelt and other nutritious grains. Broiler chickens here are sent to market at 16 weeks old, as opposed to the typical grocery store bird which is slaughtered at 5 weeks. This makes for a more flavorful bird. SRR also grows Poussin (Rock Cornish Game Hen) specially for Tilth Restaurant.

Offal and manure at this farm are composted with wood chips from the city’s roadside cleanup. Farmer George demonstrates here his certainty that the compost is a natural inoculum of microbes.

Here are the Vojkovich family pets. “Sheepie” was hand raised in their home in Pampers with a hole cut out for her tail!

Is there anything cuter than chickies?

According to Farmer George, the biggest boon of organic vegetables is the trace minerals, particularly selenium.

The organic green bean seeds from which these plants came from were three years old when planted.

Some other facts about running the farm:  SRR has been making all of its fuel for the farm from local restaurant vegetable oil for one year now.  George has two guys help him on a daily basis and his wife Eiko has one and a half girls.

Randy and Jan are the grass farmers for SRR. In the first few months they worked with SRR, George came to their grass farm and mineralized the soil for them, so that it would meet his standards of nutrition for his cows. He and Eiko also helped them get their organic certification. Here are Eiko and Randy:

We ate burgers and snags from the ranch with lettuce grown in the family garden.  You could taste the nutrient richness of the soil in the lettuce.

Fresh buns from the Breadfarm:

Haggis Brothers perform:

The guest chefs participated in a sustainability panel with Farmer George as well as a burger cook-off.  George says sustainable means that when you write a check, there’s money in the account to cover it.  That’s a great analogy.  See commentary below for what the chefs had to say about sustainability.

Chef Greg Atkinson, cookbook author and teacher, quoted Michael Pollan in saying that Americans used to spend 20% of their income on food and 10% on medical care and that has now reversed, so we spend 10% food and 20% medical care.  He thinks it’s more fun to go eat at Tilth than see the doctor.  I’m with him.  (No offense Dr. Aeshliman!)

Me and Greg with the book he signed for me. Can’t wait to try out some recipes!  Rodger is not nearly as impressed with meeting local chefs as I am.

Greg’s burger for the cook-off:

Chef Craig Hetherington of TASTE Restaurant believes “schools are the place to start.” Educating the community is the key to bringing sustainability to our food system.

I won one of Craig’s burgers in the raffle – pureed caramelized Walla Walla sweet onions in the patty and Samish Bay cumin Gouda cheese and Pleasant Valley relish on top.  Yum!

Chef Maria Hines of Tilth, one of my favorite Seattle restaurants, says we should be moving away from calorie dense foods and towards nutrient dense foods. Luckily these are the tasty ones!

Maria won the cook-off. The prize was a Flintstones-sized rack of beef ribs. Congratulations!

Rumors on Twitter (@edibleseattle) say she may have won due to the adorable fingerling potato chips.

Judging is serious business:

Nancy Leson, Seattle Times Food Writer

“Oyster Bill” Whitbeck of Taylor Shellfish who totally schooled me on some camera points.  Don’t you hate it when you don’t realize who you’re talking to and they turn out to be a legend?  At least he was more pleasant than when this happened with Dave Winer!  Sorry Bill!

Carol Haven of Slow Food Skagit and Jill Lightner of Edible Seattle magazine

Carol Havens has a motto, “More food growing near more people.” I couldn’t put it better myself.  Thanks to everyone for a wonderful day, putting up with my nosy photography and questions and of course to George and Eiko for providing us with food that nourishes the body, environment and community.


Support Building Blocks Show and purchase one of Greg Atkinson’s books:

In Season: Culinary Adventures of a San Juan Island Chef
The Northwest Essentials Cookbook: Cooking With the Ingredients That Define a Regional Cuisine
Entertaining in the Northwest Style: A Menu Cookbook
West Coast Cooking
Recipes from the San Juan Islands

Or Oyster Bill’s:

The Joy of Oysters

Skagit River Ranch Farm Day August 30th!

August 10, 2009


I just got my tickets for the Skagit River Ranch Farm Day and am very excited.  Even though Skagit River sells at my local farmer’s market, I love taking the drive up to Sedro-Woolley a few times a year to chat with farmers George and Eiko, see how my meat is grown and see the fluffy little chickies.

This first annual farm day will have everything I could ask for: sustainability panels, prestigious guest chefs, farm tours, a petting zoo and of course, lots of grass fed burgers and sausages.


Malissa’s daughter trying to coerce the horses at the ranch to eat out of her hand:

Audrey at SRR

Here are bios of the guest chefs:

Maria Hines:  Executive Chef and Owner of Tilth restaurant in Seattle, which serves organic cuisine in the New American style.  Among numerous other accolades, she was winner of the 2009 James Beard Award for Best Chef Northwest.  Let’s just say, I’m calling as soon as they open tomorrow to make reservations!  In an interview for Savory Cities Blog, Chef Hines was asked what the best piece of cooking advice she’s ever received was.  What was her answer?  “Take accountability.”

Greg Atkinson:  cookbook author specializing in Northwest cuisine.  Chef Atkinson is a local leader in the slow food movement and won the James Beard Foundation’s M.F.K. Fisher Distinguished Writing Award in 2000.

Here are a list of Atkinson’s books (Disclaimer:  Links to Amazon.  If you purchase these books from these links BBS gets a percentage from Amazon):

In Season: Culinary Adventures of a San Juan Island Chef
The Northwest Essentials Cookbook: Cooking With the Ingredients That Define a Regional Cuisine
Entertaining in the Northwest Style: A Menu Cookbook
West Coast Cooking
Recipes from the San Juan Islands

Craig Hetherington:  Executive Chef for TASTE Restaurant at the Seattle Art Museum where sustainability is an integral part of their philosophy.  Check out a quote from Chef Hetherington:

“Our local cuisine is the cornerstone of everything we do. If someone in the kitchen comes up with a great idea for a dish, we first see if we can get the ingredients locally. If we can’t get them, or we’re unable to adapt the dish using local ingredients, we don’t make it. It’s as simple as that.”

I’m looking forward to seeing these chefs square off in the perfect burger cook-off and hope to see you all there too.

Updated 8/22/2009 with chicken and steer pictures courtesy of Eiko Vojkovich, Skagit River Ranch.