Monsanto’s Free Pass

The Farmer Assurance Provision was signed into law Tuesday night as a part of the HR 933 bill. The Farmer Assurance Provision, nicknamed the Monsanto Protection Act, is a rider to the HR 933 bill, which grants Monsanto (along with other GM seed producers) protection from the United States court system (immunity) and removes all requirements for environmental impact testing of GMOs. Prior to this provision being passed, the United States court system may have intervened, for example, should a genetically modified crop have proved hazardous or a GM crop contaminate a non-GM farmer’s field. This provision opens the door for a plethora of potentially dire consequences, as it essentially gives Monsanto (and other GMO producers) a free pass at using their GMOs as science experiment on our society.

If you have never looked into GMOs and their potential effects, I strongly suggest you do so. Here is a link to a post featured here on Wholesome Day some time ago discussing some of the basics of GMOs. Then, later we discussed GMOs again when Prop 37 was defeated in California. Click here to see that discussion, complete with a list of links to studies showing some of the adverse health effects of GMOs. Many countries already require GMO labeling or ban GMO’s entirely.

This provision was passed despite nationwide efforts from numerous organizations to stop the bill. The bill will remain in effect for at least six months. There are numerous organizations working to get citizens to sign petitions and such regarding the bill and prevent its extension in six months. Despite the disheartening news about the passage of the Farmer Assurance Provision, it’s more apparent than ever the importance of using our dollars to vote against GM products and work together to raise awareness for this very important issue.

This post was shared on Real Food Wednesday, Fight Back Friday, Old Fashioned Friday.

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Quick and Easy Homemade Fruit Tarts

When I was little, I loved helping my grandmother in her kitchen. Before we began baking she would always put on one of her floral print aprons. One time she even gave me my very own apron. It was just my size and on the front of it was a recipe for elephant stew, complete with a picture of an elephant. I was so proud of that apron and still have it today.

My grandmother was famous for her pies. All her grandkids loved her peanut butter pie the best, but she enjoyed making fruit pies more than any other type. Thinking back on it, I had no idea, at the time, how much effort she put into making those fruit pies. She usually handpicked (or bought from a farmer) the berries for each pie. Then, she made the sauce from scratch. I vividly remember the color of her blueberry pie sauce. Jet black. To this day I have no idea what she did to make that sauce such a rich, deep blue, but it was divine and brimming with blueberries.

Often, she would let me help her make the pies. Back then, I had little appreciation for pie-making. It was not making the pies I was most excited about, it was seeing what we would do with the extra pie crust. My grandmother, who grew up during the last few years of the depression, never let anything go to waste. She never threw away any extra pie crust. Instead she would always make something out of it. I was always fascinated to see what she would do with it. My favorite was when she would use the left-over crust to make homemade mini-cinnamon rolls. They were a perfect combination of crunchy and melt-in-your mouth goodness, and I often ate them by the dozens.

I continue to follow my grandmother’s tradition of never throwing away extra pie crust. Indeed, pie crust has many uses and one of my absolute favorite ways of using it is to make homemade fruit tarts. These tarts are a healthier version of the modern day pop tart. The pie crust is made with soaked grains and the filling is simply homemade jam made from last year’s berry harvest. I hope you enjoy it. Our family savors these and these tarts are wonderful reminder that one day soon berries will be in season once again.

Let’s first start with the dough. Sally Fallon, author of Nourishing Traditions (2001), strongly recommends soaking most grains to improve their digestibility and nutritional value. Here is our favorite pie crust recipe using soaked grains. This usually makes at least two to three pie crusts.

Soaked Pie Crust*

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup plain, whole-milk yogurt (I make my own. See here for recipe).
3 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 tsp fine sea salt

Cream together butter and yogurt. Slowly add flour and salt until combined. Cover and leave on counter for 12-24 hours to soak. Then, either use the dough or divide into smaller increments and freeze.

When ready to use, roll out desired amount onto a floured surface. It usually takes 30 minutes or so to bake at 350 degrees.

Now, on to the fruit tarts!

Fruit Tarts

Pie crust dough, use leftovers or whatever amount of pie crust dough you’d like
Fruit jam, berries or whatever filling you would like

Roll out pie crust into a square or rectangular shape. Crust should be just as thin as if making a pie. Use a knife to cut crust into squares or rectangles. Then, fill one side with jam or desired filling.

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Fold one side over the next and seal edges closed. Cut a small line or tiny holes on the top crust.

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Then, place on a parchment-covered cookie sheet. Bake on 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

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*Recipe adapted from Nourishing Traditions (2001) by Sally Fallon.

This post is shared on Real Food Wednesday and Tasty Traditions.

Root Vegetable Rendezvous

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Here in New York we are still in the throes and woes of winter. Just this morning, our grass which was just starting to peek out under the snow, was promptly buried yet again by several more inches of snow. Such is life just south of the Adirondacks. As I have mentioned before we try to eat seasonally, but what does that look like right now when the ground is buried by snow?

Two words: Root vegetables. Root vegetables are all those fall crops that typically keep relatively well through most of winter. Some examples are butternut squash, onions, sweet potatoes, carrots and beets. We are also blessed to be a part of a CSA able to grow some foods in greenhouses throughout the winter. This means our table is often graced with the presence of kale, salad greens, spinach and bok choy even in the dead of winter when it seems impossible for anything to grow.

Even though there may not be a wide variety of vegetables available in the winter (if eating local, seasonal produce), there is a wide variety of things to do with each of these vegetables. Here are a few of our favorite ways to enjoy root vegetables.

Beets

Incredibly high in vitamin B and iron among numerous other nutrients and minerals, beets are a delight to cook with and a refreshing addition to numerous dishes. We typically roast beets (unpeeled) for two to three hours on 250 degrees. Then we peel the beets and either eat them as a side, sliced and topped with a hint of melted butter and salt or we use the beets in other dishes. They are a delicious addition in a salad (and pair well in a salad with walnuts). Another exquisite way to enjoy roasted beets is to slice them and then alternate slices of beets with goat cheese. Then, top with a balsamic glaze (or balsamic dressing if you do not want to make your own glaze). Oh so good!

Butternut squash

Butternut Apple Walnut Soup*

Ingredients: One butternut squash, two apples, 1/2 cup walnuts, three and a half cups chicken stock, one onion, one to two cups of milk, thyme (to taste), salt/pepper (to taste), olive oil, and 2 tablespoons of butter

Peel and remove seeds from butternut squash. Chop into one to two-inch chunks. Lightly coat with olive oil, thyme, salt, pepper and roast in oven on 400 degrees for about 45 minutes. Saute onion in butter until nearly translucent. Add apple and walnuts to onion and continue till apple is heated through (5-10 min). In a large pot add butternut squash, apple/onion/walnut mixture and two cups of chicken stock. Cook for 10-15 minutes on medium heat. Remove from heat. Use an immersion blender to puree soup. Add one to two cups of milk to desired consistency and return to low heat. Heat through.

Helpful hint: If you have an abundance of squash, double or triple the recipe and just after pureeing the soup, but before adding in the milk, freeze the desired amount. Then, when you would like a quick and easy meal just pull it out of the freezer and heat up on stove, adding milk once warmed.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are an incredibly versatile and easy to prepare vegetable. Our favorite way is to simply poke a few holes in the top of them and bake in the oven for 250 degrees for two to three hours. We also enjoy sweet potato fries (cut into strips, toss into a bag with a bit of olive oil/butter, salt and cinnamon and cook on a cookie sheet for 45 min on 400 degrees).

Carrots

Now that our girls are a bit older and we do not need to worry about carrots posing a choking hazard, we thoroughly enjoy taking along bags of carrot sticks to snack on when we are out and about. We also throw carrots into just about any recipe from soups to smoothies to Quiche. Here is one recipe showcasing this antioxidant rich vegetable:

Coconut-Ginger Carrot Soup

Ingredients: 1 lb of carrots (coarsely chopped), 1 onion (chopped), 1-2 tablespoons of butter, 2 tablespoons of fresh, shredded ginger, 1 c. cream (or sour cream/creme fraiche), 4 c. chicken stock, 1 potato chopped, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 2 c. unsweetened coconut flakes, salt/pepper to taste.

Saute onions in butter. Set aside. Bring chicken stock to a boil. Add onions, potato, carrots, ginger, lemon juice and coconut flakes. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes (or until carrots are tender). Remove from heat and puree with an immersion blended (or in batches in a blender/food processor). Once pureed turn to low and add either 1 cup of cream or 1 cup of sour cream/creme fraiche. Heat over low heat till warmed through.

Another option: Instead of pureeing the coconut flakes into the soup, hold the coconut flakes and add them to the soup at the very end (post-puree) for a more textured soup.

So, there you have a few of our favorite ways to rendezvous with root vegetables. How about you? Do you have any favorite ways you like to enjoy root vegetables?

*Recipe adapted from Butternut-Apple Soup (p. 60) in The All New Good Housekeeping Cook Book (2001).

This post is shared on Real Food Wednesday, Tasty Traditions, Fight Back Friday, Old Fashioned Friday and Fresh Bites Friday.