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No Impact Woman? No Way

Last night, Ryan and I went to a screening of “No Impact Man” at the Ritz East.  It is the story of Colin Beavan, his wife Michelle (who writes for Business Week) and their daughter Isabella. Colin decides to completely eliminate his personal impact on the environment for the next year. This means: eating vegetarian, buying only local food, and turning off the refrigerator. It also means no elevators, no television, no cars, busses, or airplanes, no toxic cleaning products, no electricity, no material consumption, and no garbage. And yes people, it means NO TOILET PAPER.

As the film began, I started to get nervous. Really nervous. As many of you know, I live with a Colin type. We have a compost (“worm farm”), we recycle, we buy local food, etc. (Note: These are all good things that I recommend we all do for the most part). But I know Ryan and I was a little concerned that he was going to start taking notes during the film. Wean wife off of shopping. Check. Cut wife’s caffeine habit. Check. Eliminate wife’s use of all cosmetics and toiletries. Check.  And on and on.

Following the film, a local green organization hosted a discussion about the documentary and asked all of us – “Would you really change anything you are doing after seeing this film?” I thought two things – I would complain less about the worm farm and I would not just buy more local food, but actually buy and cook more in season.

So to get started I consulted SustainableTable.org to see what was in season for early September in Pennsylvania. My goal will be to cook in season as much as possible throughout the Fall. I’ll begin posting recipes and pics when I get started – in between shopping, drinking coffee and taking the elevator.

  • Broccoli
  • Beets
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cantaloupe
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Lettuce
  • Lima Beans
  • Peppers
  • Potatoes
  • Pumpkin
  • Snap Beans
  • Spinach
  • Summer squash
  • Sweet Corn
  • Tomatoes
  • Turnips
  • Watermelon
  • Winter Squash

Hot Summer in the City

It has been unbearably humid in Philadelphia this week so with the exception of Friday’s plum tart (which received excellent reviews yesterday!) I have not felt much like cooking. I decided to go light with the Sunday fare and made a corn salad with some of the remaining ears we had on hand.

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This is a super simple, yet tasty, summer salad. I simply boiled three ears of corn, cooled them, removed the corn from each cob, added heirloom tomatoes, red onion, fresh basil, salt, pepper, olive oil and a dash of vinegar. I have some feta as well.

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Yesterday, my husband bought me a watermelon. You must understand – in our house this is the equivalent of a bouquet of flowers (although I do enjoy those rare occasions too). I was thrilled.

I can’t decide whether or not to make a watermelon feta salad. I’ve heard nothing but good things about this combination, but I am a watermelon purist. I like watermelon as is and I don’t like anything that is watermelon flavored – jolly rangers, water ice, popsicles, etc. – nothing. But I could eat a whole watermelon in one day.  Just in case I decided to consult my favorite food blog in the world – Smitten Kitchen – for a recipe. This is adapted from Bon Appetit magazine.

Watermelon and Feta Salad with Chopped Vegetables
Adapted from Bon Appetit

I’m so in love with the new Bon Appetit, I am forgiving the fact that they used the cringe-worthy word “veggies” in their initial title.

Serves at least four

1 pound Campari or plum tomatoes, diced, drained
1 1/2 cups diced seeded watermelon
1 large green bell pepper, seeded, cut into 1/3-inch cubes
1/2 large English hothouse cucumber, seeded, cut into 1/3-inch cubes
1/2 cup very thinly sliced radishes
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
10 ounces feta cheese, cut into small cubes (about 2 1/2 cups),
2 divided green onions, chopped, divided
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh mint leaves, divided
1/2 cup plain Greek-style yogurt
1 teaspoon dried oregano

Toss first five ingredients and two tablespoons oil in large bowl. Add half each of cheese, green onions, and mint. Mix remaining cheese, green onions, mint, and oil in processor; add yogurt and oregano. Process just to blend (do not over-mix or dressing will get thin). Season dressing with salt and pepper; mix into salad.

**Note: We ended up going out for dinner and frozen yogurt. But the corn salad was great for lunch the next day.

A Tart is Born

Well, I stayed true to my promise and made my first tart today. I decided on a plum tart for my friend Kate’s birthday picnic tomorrow afternoon.  After researching several recipes, I chose one from Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa. It is a pretty simple recipe of brown sugar, walnuts, butter and plums and the whole process was much easier than I anticipated. Partial credit for that must go to the fancy mixer, which I finally got to use. I love it. I can’t imagine baking without it. For the sake of full disclosure, I should admit that I’ve never been much of a baker – to the point where friends/family have more than once suggested that I NOT bake. Well, be damned! I am baking…

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Plum Tart (by Ina Garten/FoodNetwork)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (I used brown rice flour – worked quite well)
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), diced
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 pounds firm, ripe Italian prune plums, pitted and quartered lengthwise

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Combine the flour, walnuts, and sugar in a large bowl. Add the butter and the egg yolk. Mix, either by hand or with an electric mixer, until crumbly.

Press 1 1/2 cups of the crumb mixture in an even layer into the bottom of a 9 1/2-inch springform or tart pan. Arrange the plums in the pan, skin side down, to form a flower pattern; begin at the outside and work your way in.

Sprinkle the rest of the crumb mixture evenly over the plums. Bake the tart for 40 to 50 minutes, or until it’s lightly browned and the plum juices are bubbling. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and transfer the tart to a flat plate. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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**My plums were not as ripe as they should be so I found a little tip online to ripen plums. Place them in a brown bag with a ripe banana overnight. This basically did the trick but I decided to add a little lemon juice, raw sugar and cinnamon to the plum mixture before placing onto the crust.

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