Our beautiful daughter born December 12! Seven days later I had her in the garden, trying to pick basil More blogging to come now we are more settled & all is well. Aloha.
I feel really great about writing this book/recipe review today because Lindsay Nixon, aka The Happy Herbivore, has helped make my own transition to a plant-based diet simple, painless and actually fun. I have the original Happy Herbivore cookbook, Happy Herbivore Abroad and now Light & Lean. When I learned that she was looking for blog writers to review the book I was excited!
I share my life and home with an awesome husband, a four and a half year old son, my mom, a newborn baby and many animals…so the transition to plant-based living has had logistical challenges to say the least, and I have met some resistance from time to time. *ahem* However, Lindsay’s books have helped so much because the recipes are simple, easy, use stuff we usually have on hand and the hubs and my mom have both gotten in on the cooking.
A few nights ago we made this: Peanut Soba Noodles and it was delicious! We made ours with shelled organic edamame, organic soba noodles and fresh green onions and cucumber from the garden. We omitted the hot sauce for our son, but if I made it again, I think I would add a dash for myself.
Simple, easy plant-based recipes are Lindsay’s trademark, and I love them especially because there is usually at least on or two ingredients I can reach into my garden and grab, like the green onions and cucumbers here. And as our whole family works on healthier living this year, we plan to use the Meal Plans, which remove the stress of planning, list-making and thinking about what to eat! Check them out: Happy Herbivore Meal Plans (gluten & soy free!).
Aloha Friends! I am going to be reviewing one of the Happy Herbivore’s recipes from her newest book, Light & Lean, tomorrow here at the Green Box Garden! Come back for a visit and check out this great plant-based author.
Tomatoes ripened on the vine are insanely superior to those that are picked green, hard, shipped, packaged and purchased weeks after they left their viney-homes. The problem, of course, is the wait. And protecting the little ripening beauties from hungry birds, pesky bugs, toddler fingers and other garden pests. Vine-ripened tomatoes take time, patience and more patience. Right now, as I type, I have at least a dozen little beauties hanging on the vine, green, solid and could be picked…but I’m waiting. Each day I check on them, shoo the birds away, tell my son to wait and wait and wait for them to finally turn red.
I’m also 10 days past my due date for giving birth to another little human. While I wait and wait and wait for her to make her entrance into this world I think about the patience I’ve learned for other things. And the incredible respect I’ve slowly developed for the natural processes of life: garden life and human life.
I could pick them green. They would be fine. And we could induce her to come out before she’s ready- but as long as the birds stay away and she’s doing ok…this mama gardener will just have patience.
It rained and rained this past Sunday so I took the opportunity to learn how to roll sushi. Using brown rice, garden cucumbers & avocado from the neighbor, these turned out pretty good! I added some tofu & red pepper on a few rolls. They were even better one day later. (Sushi makes the perfect midnight snack for the super-pregnant grazer…)
If you are a lover of bacon, you might want to stop reading now. I’m about to commit bacon blasphemy.
Even when I was a meat eater I never really liked pork. There. I said it. Bacon was hardly ever on my plate. I found the texture too slimy, the marbled fat in it gross and the pools of grease that formed on the plate utterly disgusting. This is coming from a born and raised Iowa-girl, where pork is practically a religion. There are more than 20 million hogs currently being raised in my home state, worth almost $7 billion a year. That’s a wholelotta bacon folks.
So about 12 years ago when I started leaning towards vegetarianism pork was the first thing to go. I attended a university with a high Muslim population and I don’t think our dining hall even served pork, so it was an easy omission. Later, I started to understand the damage of industrial farming: particularly of hogs. In the highly concentrated confinement system, hundreds of pigs are packed into an enclosed building, where high levels of transmittable diseases are controlled through the use of antibiotics. Their poop, also highly concentrated, is pumped out into huge shit ponds and you don’t want to know what happens to that. (The official story and what actually happens are often different, and vary greatly depending on who is sitting in a position of power locally.) Also, another little known fact is that property values within a mile or more of any hog confinement are deeply affected by the presence of the building which houses the pigs. The combination of the smell, the possibility of contamination of ground water and did I mention the SMELL is very discouraging to buyers of potential properties. It is estimated that 90%+ of the bacon omnivores eat comes from these conditions. The image of the happy frolicking pig on the farm is just a fantasy.
So what’s the average person to do? I certainly can’t fight an entire economic system built upon these practices on my own- but I can stop consuming it. So I did. I don’t remember the last time I ate pork. But I do recall the taste of one of my favorite sandwiches: The BLT. Perhaps it was the disguise of the lettuce, tomato and mayo that made the texture of the bacon more appealing to me, but I used to love this sandwich.
So today, as I hang around the house, 3 days past the due date of my baby, waiting for labor to begin, I set out to make a veganized BLT, and I was pleasantly surprised! I have read about how to make Eggplant Bacon from one of my favorite vegan chefs. My garden eggplant isn’t ready yet, but my long squash is. The flavor of this starchy vegetable is so subtle as to be non-existent. It’s not the kind of veggie you want to cut up and eat raw. It has a crapload of seeds in the middle and really shines as part of stew or stir-fry where it can take on the flavors of the spices and other foods. It seemed perfect for making “Fakon.”
I had about half of one squash leftover after the other part was used in soup, so I started by peeling off the thick green skin.
Then sliced it into about 1/8th thick strips and placed on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (I’m cutting down a lot of oils in my cooking and parchment paper has become my new best friend. It can take the heat up to about 425 degrees.)
In the oven, I baked these strips on 425 for about 11 minutes, until I started to see some brown crispy spots. I flipped them over once in the middle.
Meanwhile, I used the PPK’s recipe for Eggplant Bacon (soy sauce and liquid smoke) mixed it up in a bowl and got ready for dipping. Once the strips were cool enough to handle, I dipped them in and put them all back in the oven for about 5 more minutes.
The most surprising thing was how small the strips became once the water was heated out of them! I didn’t have enough to share as I would have liked, but this batch made two good sandwiches. The hickory liquid smoke really gives this the essence of “bacon” that is needed in the classic BLT- no property values or pigs harmed. :-D
The pickleworms have moved in. And my son thinks they are friends. I suspected something was up when I saw some little moths flying around and some leaves started to look odd, but I thought I was doing so great with keeping the aphids away! Then this morning, I found this:
So the small boy and I decided to try and learn something by dissecting the home of our pickleworm. He was insistent, “Be CAREFUL Mommy!! Don’t cut the worms!!!” Ok, ok, I won’t cut the worms. So we proceeded with caution, carefully cutting thin strips away from the cucumber to reveal more holes, worm homes and overall grossness! He was delighted. He picked up the cucumber, carefully plucked each worm away and placed them inside one of this yellow rubber boots, where he says other worms live. (I can neither confirm nor deny other worms living in his boots. But he has been going bare foot because he doesn’t want to “squish them.”)
I wasn’t sure what this pest was, but a quick buzz around a few garden discussion groups got me a name I could Google, and the University of Florida helped me with some great photos, description, but sadly, not a lot of advice. These are tough little buggers! They only live through the winters in tropical places like southern Florida, some parts of Texas, and of course, here in Hawaii. Preventing the moths from landing on plants would be the most organic method of control; this would prevent eggs from being laid, the larvae from hatching and growing into the little worms we found. But cucumbers and other melons need pollination from bees or butterflies to fruit, so tenting the plants prior to pollination could be problematic. Also, spraying insecticides of any kind is going to disrupt the lives of bees, not to mention anything other than neem oil isn’t really safe to use around kids, dogs, and chickens- all of which live in my backyard!
So for now, our method of control will be early detection, harvest and thin slicing to save as much cucumber as possible. And of course, saving our “friends” the worms. Because of course I want the rubber boots to fill up with worms.