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Posts tagged ‘kids gardening’

Potato Leek Soup

Today I sat down to write but found myself procrastinating by looking through my iPhoto library reminiscing about an Ireland trip we took a few years back. This trip ranks high in my all time favorites. We shared it with family and good friends, where we traveled through rolling fields following rainbows start to end, finding our Irish luck in the form of sunshine mid March.

That year my husband turned forty ceremoniously on St. Patrick‘s Day. We learned about falconry, bog ponies, and I found one of my favorite cookbooks The Forgotten Skills of Cooking. We enjoyed our share of Guinness and sampled potato leek soup along the way.

My littlest, is a connoisseur of potato leek soup, she has a discerning palate for the tastiest homegrown potato. She is also privy to the whole process, kudos to Tess Hoke, founder of Local 98856 and the Methow Valley Community School Locavores lunch program where she learned the garden to table journey.

Years later and I am still trying to perfect that tasty soup and win her nod. Until tonight, when I received that approvingly tilt of her towhead and a unanimous two thumbs up from the rest of my family. Nothing feels so good as a warmed bowl of soup steaming with flavor, a local brewed beer in a handcrafted glass to finish off the evening.

Close Up Potato Leek Soup 2/1/13 WP

Potato Leek Soup (serves 6 but I usually double it for left overs and lunch boxes)
[inspired and introduced to me from “around my french table”  and Stew Dietz Event Planning and Catering]

What you will need:

2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1 large organic onions chopped
2 organic garlic cloves, germ removed and crushed
Salt, freshly ground white pepper
3 organic leeks white parts only spit lengthwise and chopped thinly
2 large organic russet potatoes peeled and cubed
1 teaspoon dried thyme or a few fresh sprigs
1 teaspoon dried sage or a couple fresh leaves
4 cups homemade vegetable stock (we have a mixture of folks around our table so I play it safe and go veggie most of the time but any stock or water will work).
1 cup whole milk
2 cups half and half (you can omit this and use water, or any combination of dairy just remember it will be lighter).
4-5 croutons per serving

What to do with your scrumptious ingredients:

melt the butter adding onion until coated then add in garlic, salt and pepper, cover and cook until onions are soft 6 minutes or so (making sure not to burn them)
Add leeks, potatoes, thyme, sage, stock and dairy
bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 30-40 minutes until potatoes and leeks are soft

Serve in warmed bowls topped with croutons

Options:

let soup cool and puree into a thick and creamy soup, then warm and serve
top with cheese or add some colorful chives
serve cold and top with pear or apple

Funny little fact:
In the nineteenth century potatoes were accused of leading housewives astray due to the fact that potatoes required so little time and effort to prepare that it left female hands idle and primed to do the Devil’s work. [good thing I’m too busy for any of that! ;-)]
~Rebecca Rupp

Bain sult as do bhéile! (enjoy your meal)

Head Shot Rachelle Rachelle @caramelize life

“making life a little sweeter through food, travel and community”

And the winner for the Food with the Highest antioxidant Content is…. (drum roll please)

~Join us for our two-part series on the food with the highest antioxidant tour

Part 1

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Pure and simple, dark chocolate and cacao nibs top the charts in antioxidant levels ~ beating out acai berries, kale and broccoli on the Oxygen Radial Absorbance Capacity scale (more on this scale below). Shocked? I sure was when I recently learned this bit of information. Un-shockingly, my children were already rehearsing their “eat your broccoli” retorts.

Can it really be true? How did I stumble upon this fantastic news?

It all started when my daughter exclaimed, “chocolate grows on trees!”

Tour brochures lined up on our vacation condo’s counter top: chocolate, coffee, rice, taro etc. Eenie, Meeny, Miney, Moe…
Well, Miney and Moe are actually kids named Hannah and Eva and I guess that makes my husband Eenie and by default I’m the Meeny.

The meany who wants to add an educational aspect to our Hawaiian vacation. I’m sure you can see where this is going…

Steelgrass

Taro is island specific but no votes there; of the ag tours, rice (unfortunately), had no tours on our free days so the choice was between coffee and chocolate. I love both but would rather have the kids hyped up on vitamin B-12 goodness than buzzing on caffeine. Thankfully, they agreed.

After a little research, and a recommendation from some friends, we decided to check out the STEELGRASS family chocolate tour, which had an added bonus that included a voice over studio on site with the likes of Ben Stiller and Jack Black…read: now husband is on board too.

I spoke with Tony Lydgate, Steelgrass family owner, to confirm our Chocolate from Branch to Bar reservation and he said tours start at 9 am. I’m thinking; who doesn’t like chocolate for breakfast? The kids sure thought this was an excellent idea and that maybe the sun had gotten to my senses, but no one mentioned anything about that.

The evening prior to our tour, the children slept soundly with visions of Hawaiian chocolate dancing in their heads. Up bright and early like I’ve only seen on christmas morning they were ready to go devour their breakfast! It’s healthy right? Local, sustainable, organic, without additives; all the checks were there for our foodie family list, so why can’t we eat chocolate all the time? All you parents out there get ready because those answers we tell our kids that it is a treat are now debunked and I hear doctors are recommending a daily dose of dark chocolate.

Studies have found that eating dark chocolate daily can reduce the risk of heart disease and strokes.  What? I guess the trick is on me for wanting an educational tour, now our tour guides Michelle and Annabelle have my kids full attention and I’m taking notes on this brilliant way to educate all ages.

So the tour begins, by sharing that chocolate is made from cacao and yes, cacao grows on trees. But before we learn more about cacao our guides direct us through their grove of meticulously labeled tropical fruit trees, educating our tour group through our senses about each fruit.

No crazy Wonka tour here, all children and adults munched freely on sustainably grown, Tahitian Lime and sugar cane (known as KO) a sweet and tangy lime aid in yo’ mouth combination. Longan or Dragon Eye fruits that would be perfect in a bowl on Halloween, crimson red Mountain Apple and Lilikoi (passion fruit) and more, all without incident.

Soursop (Custard Apple)

Dragon Eye

Dragon Eye

Lilikoi (Passionfruit)

Blissfully meandering through the tropical trees, learning about Egyptian paper making from papyrus trees and smelling the bark of a cinnamon tree ~ the mission of our tours guides emerges.

This fantastic way of bringing in unassuming students, thinking only of chocolate bars to impart knowledge about sustainable agriculture, is like tossing zucchini into chocolate cake without the kids knowing.

A Truffula tree right? Nope it’s Papyrus

Cacao is a tree, and in order for us chocolate lovers to fully enjoy the purest foodie dark chocolate scrumptious delights, we need to understand that our delectable bar only needs four ingredients: cacao, sugar, vanilla and an emulsifier like soy lecithin or cacao butter. But from Branch to Bar so much more goes on behind the scenes.

Cacao Trees

Cacao trees with colorful pods

It’s a meeting of the minds at the Lydgate Farm with PhD’s, Oxford alumnae, musicians, artists and others that form a team who have come together to develop a sustainable agriculture program to teach others the same.

By sharing the behind the scenes chocolate creation process, Steelgrass shows the many stages of the production, and in so doing, they also show the excellence that comes from being a steward for sustainable agriculture on the Hawaiian Islands.  We learned that it takes healthy pollinators not limited to bees for the fruit trees but it’s tiny gnats that are able to pollinate the petite cacao flowers.  They use companion planting as a natural pest control and rely on collaboration and cooperation between neighboring cacao farmers.  This is their  hypothetical insurance policy, if disaster hits in the form of bugs, weather or other, then the diversification of plants, their various locations and different cacao farms, help ensure sustainability.  This all falls under the umbrella of the Kauai Cacao Cooperative for creating a homegrown chocolate industry on the island.

It is incredible to think that all these aspects and hard work go into making that dark flavorful chocolate available and so good for us to enjoy.  Once you understand you can’t forget and now that price of the chocolate bar makes sense. But it is perfect because, unlike milk chocolate where I could keep on eating more and more, I find that a small amount of dark chocolate hits the spot and I am satisfied…better for the environment, better for me..it’s a win~win.


Honey on bamboo

Honey on bamboo sticks

Join us next week for part 2 of our chocolate tour adventure!

Aloha kakou,

Rachelle @ Caramelize Life

What’s for Dinner?

 Misty Fjord’s Wild Salmon

  Seasoned with garlic, onions, dill and olive oil.

  Olive tapenade, sun-dried tomatoes and pine nut orzo pasta.

 And fresh sautéed  garden asparagus.

A quick and easy dish that is balanced and scrumptious too!

Wild caught salmon is the best, both in flavor and nutrients. Having worked in the Alaskan fishing industry in my 20’s I know it’s not an easy job and am thankful to be able to stock up on quality salmon each season.

Our mountains are not quite close enough to the ocean and inlets so we stock our freezer like squirrels in the fall with all things good. That’s when I place an order with our neighbor Fran, owner of Misty Fjord Seafood who I’m pretty sure is actually Super Woman. I end up guesstimating how many filets and pieces of fish we’ll need until the next season, and if we end up with extra we have it smoked so that we can enjoy it on hikes with a little goat cheese and good bread.

If you’ve got freezer space I highly recommend stocking up. Having it on hand makes dinner a snap!

Ingredients:

1 wild salmon fillet
3 pressed cloves of garlic
1 sliced onion
1 lemon (half sliced and half for juice)
a handful of asparagus spears
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil
1 teaspoon dill weed
3 tablespoons of quark, sour cream, mayo or LEMONAISE®
3 cups of orzo
2 tablespoons olive tapenade
sun-dried tomatoes (a jar or 9-10 from your pantry chopped)
1/4 cup of pine nuts
1/2 parmesan cheese (optional)
dash of white wine for sauteing

~preheat the oven to 400f

~Defrost the fillet in its packaging (it is recommended to do so in the refrigerator but under running water has worked in a pinch. You can save the water and use it to feed your plants).

~Next prep the garlic, onions and dill sauce

Dill sauce:
~combine the quark, sour cream or mayo with 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice, dill weed and mix. Omit the lemon if using LEMONAISE®
~Once defrosted place the fillet on an aluminum foil covered baking sheet for easier clean up.
~Drizzle olive oil onto the fillet, sprinkle dill weed and add slices of the onion, garlic and lemon (squeeze the slices just a bit) and cover with foil.
~Bake for 15-20 minutes checking for done-ness = when the salmon flesh turns to a light pink.

Now, prepare the orzo while the salmon is baking.
Orzo is quick and a favorite with our kids. To make it an all around hit I add a little color and flavor with sun-dried tomatoes, keeping it quick and easy I use a pre-made olive tapenade that I have on hand for easy appetizers. If you have time and can make your own I am sure you’ll be rewarded. Another crowd pleaser and healthy addition, is to add pine nuts.

Next, prep the asparagus. This is fun because it is fresh right now and in the backyard, easily gathered by the kids and they love it.

walking with scissors

~Once the asparagus is washed, then saute it with a little white wine until tender and set the asparagus aside.

~By the time the orzo is finished, your salmon should be done as well.
~warm plates if you want
~mix the olive tapenade, sun-dried tomatoes and pine nuts into the orzo and add the parmesan cheese.
~serve right away with a small dollop of dill sauce on top of the salmon.

serves 4-5

More salmon recipes here

Plan ahead
I love to make enough for leftovers. Extra orzo is great for lunches, add pesto to change it up or make it into a salad. It’s perfect hot or cold.
Leftover salmon is nice for morning egg scrambles, add chevre, chives and spinach for a healthy start.

Learn more
If you are interested as to why I choose wild salmon over farmed raised there are a number of reasons and it is important to know why and what you are putting into your body. I don’t think we can trust that someone else will be looking out for our best interests.  I feel it is important to educate oneself and spread the word on sustainable practices that benefit all. If your curiosity is piqued, then please check out the following links and make your own choice.

Why salmon is worth the fight- video

Salmon Aid

David Dobs describes the life of a wild salmon and the confusion between wild and farmed in his 2008 article in Eating Well named The Wild Salmon Debate  “He [the salmon] eats with an open mind—other fish, mollusks, and lots and lots of krill and other planktonic crustacea that have feasted on red algae. This diet turns his flesh pink and rich in omega-3 fatty acids.”

Now what’s for dessert?

Cheers!
Rachelle @ caramelizelife

~

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