Green – Mean – Cuisine
The blog is back in effect & with an added feature - Instagram! You can follow us @greenmeancuisine.
Comalicious will have plenty of updates. So stay tuned for upcycling tips, street art, farmers markets and local Georgia food news and seasonal dishes. Now check out our first day’s pics on Instagram.
Cheers, to your health!
Do you believe in signs, coincidence or the law of attraction if so keep reading if not you might find the following thoughts mildly amusing, either way its worth a try.
I get dizzy when I just hear the name Wal Mart and imagine isles packed floor to ceiling with color coded options. Facing the department store equipped with a list, shopping went swiftly. The ingredients to making your own laundry detergent are easy to find on a bottom shelf, sitting all right next to each other. Wal Mart apparently knows their DIY customer base. Spending a mere fraction of the cost than for regular detergent felt like an accomplishment in itself. The largest aspect, however, is knowing exactly what goes into such a frequently used household item. I was gloating a bit when I finally used the first scoop. I even added fresh lavender from an in town farm to the mix.
Shaving the soap into the bowl took the longest. Nothing better than exerting a little sweat when it comes to ‘assembling’ your seemingly own product. I call it the IKEA effect. Its no newly discovered fact that people have a stronger sense of appreciation when it comes to doing things themselves at least in part. Business owners are capitalizing on the notion more and more, not just for their customers experience but as a cost incentives to their operations as well.
As much as I loathe enormous corporations a la Wal Mart I can’t deny a sense of appreciation for the access to DIY products they provide. The consumer does hold the power even if persuasion to buying is tugging on them like a small child needing to be held. While I was leaving the store I spotted a poster of the Lorax movie near the exit/entry way. Schlepping my reusable bag including a big box of Borax, it became instantly clear why Dr. Seuss had chosen this particular character name and title.
The road to low impact living really starts here – at least for me. Its a renewed commitment to the cause of giving a damn. The resources are all right there at the very fingertips getting ready to send these lines out into the internet. All you gotta do is start by taking a look.
Thanks to DIYnatural for the inspiration!
~ Live well while using less
You can’t have a Farmers Market without the land & crops getting an adequate amount of rainfall. However, conducting a market while it rains can prove to be a real challenge. During yesterday’s East Atlanta Village Market a storm hit the east side of town…hard. Heavy rainfall started only seconds after I had received my SNAP & Wholesome Wave tokens. Baby in tow, I rushed underneath Little Tart Bakeshop’s tent, alongside one of the market’s musicians, a violin player wearing her tip jar cleverly strapped as a backpack. What happened next can only be described as an accelerated storm front whipping across us, with continuous heavy rainfall accompanied by strong winds, ripping on all of the vendors tents. Every now and then sunshine peeked in the distance, toying with the hope of all market participants that this could end any second now.
Peek the pictures of the treacherous down-pour:
Istill managed to buy a few items; thankfully & due to the help of various folks, who scrambled to get me a feasible umbrella, kept my baby & I entertained, dry & save for a couple of hours at the market, plus of course the farmers who nourish our lives!
Furthermore, did you know that you can use the same tokens from East Atlanta’s market at Grant Park Farmers Market on Sundays? If you ever forget a few items & have left over tokens to spare, you don’t have to wait a whole week to make use of them.
I thought my experience at the market was yet again a real testament to community and how well people can work together and stand their ground. It is certainly something we need more of in today’s times.
How many of us judge a fast food joint by their fries/sides, religious affiliations a la Chik-Fil-A aside? McDonalds’s reigns over Burger Kings’ & Checkers trumps Wendy’s – facts people! The most memorable meals have all star players, consistent quality across, from the main course to a simple garnish. When the salad dressing gets equal amount of love then the roasted Turkey, life gets infinitely sweeter.
Three unsung kitchen table heroes that could use a lil love & attention are the creamer in your coffee/tea, soup & salad dressing. You don’t have to have a super fancy mixer, such as the Vitamix to make the following recipes but that machine simply has the power to get ‘er done right. To an average person income, there are many ways to afford this item. The company constantly runs promos at major outlet stores (COSCO or Whole Foods), healthy lifestyle expos (I got mine from the Atlanta Alive expo) and on their website. You can even install a payment plan. As with everything, it pays for itself over time depending on how much you use it.
As ode to Hempseed, one of my favorite most versatile ingredients that has amazing nutritional compounds, I’ve located a couple of recipes with the superfood at their center. Furthermore, Blueberries serve as a seasonal food inspiration for the soup. So contemplate and feast on these selected recipes, composed by fellow foodie nerds.
Creamer aka Vanilla Cacao Hemp Seed Milk
- 3 cups water
- 1/3 cup hemp seeds
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla bean powder or 1 TB. vanilla extract
- Stevia (NuNaturals brand) to taste
- 1 to 2 TB. of raw Cacao or Carob powder
Blend until creamy! Add to beverage of your liking or drink by itself
Next up Soup: Raw Blueberry Apple Soup
- 2 cups fresh blueberries
- Juice of 1-1/2 limes
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp coriander
- 2 tsp agave nectar
- 1/4 cup frozen unsweetened apple juice concentrate
- 1/4 cup nonfat plain Atlanta Fresh Artisan CreameryGreek yogurt
- Pinch of kosher salt
- Mint leaves, for garnish (optional)
and last but not least the dressing: Green Goddess Dressing with Hemp Hearts
- 1 large cucumber, peeled and sliced into large pieces
- 3/4 cup hemp hearts
- 1 cup fresh parsley
- 3/4 cup fresh dill
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 Tbs apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp sucanat
- pinch of cayenne
- (makes 3 cups)
Place all ingredients in blender with cucumbers at the bottom and grind until smooth consistency is achieved!
Now, please follow the links for more detailed directions but feel free to tinker and switch out ingredient as you like. Experimenting is part of the fun!
Cheers & to your health!
When a chef tells me, he or she prefers ingredients via a particular farm, I don’t just ask why but also quickly be-line to that farm stand. Chef Angus just purchased a few vegetables from Crack in the Sidewalk Farmlet, when I encountered him at the East Atlanta Farmers Market. Angus, who’s previously incorporated local farm goods from Many Fold Farms at Miller Union, has come up with a deliciously distinct late night menu for Octopus Bar in East Atlanta Village. Who says your taste buds don’t need indulgence at 3am!
While browsing the vegetable selection at Crack in the Sidewalk’s stand, bags of small leaved, dark green salad mixes, topped with wood sorrel flowers catch my eye. My senses tell me this is what I want! The wild edible salad mix includes next to Wood Sorrel, Henbit, Dead-nettle alongside other Georgia native greens. The flavors are so potent and nutrient dense it can be used as a garnish, mixed in with cultivated lettuces or as an added spice to soups, terrains, simply let your creativity run wild – pun intended.
Coincidentally, Chris & Isiah who run the 2 acre Farmlet are offering a Wild Edibles workshop the same weekend. The farm is nestled next to a golf course and an array of sporadically populated and foreclosed homes. The couple moved to the location roughly four years ago. Since then next to cultivating plants via traditional agricultural methods, the lands native plants have become part of their harvest. A quite genius approach to farming utilizes the adaptable strength of wild plants to create an ecologically balanced & diversified approach to winning food from the land.
‘With Foraging’ , as Chris explains, ’there is a significant amount of opportunity, to connect with the areas around you.’ Once you become aware of edible wild greens, berries, pecans etc. you can find them everywhere, even in downtown major cities, parks or the middle of neighborhoods. Miseducation throughout generations, however, has perpetuated the stigma of wild foods being poisonous and/or polluted. In reality the amount of poisonous wild edibles is rather small and wild foods that might even kill you are proportionally speaking even smaller. The advantages of wild foods next to promoting health and self-sufficiency, also include:
- Easier to cultivate due to plants strong sense of adaptability and resistance to bugs (seed saving)
- Incredibly nutrient dense
- Healing properties
- Young leaves are most tender and delicious
- Take little to no work
While nature creates abundance and can in fact include poisonous species, it is important to study plants in order to know how to identify them correctly. Nevertheless, the healing compounds of plantains for instance can aid bee stings or snake bites or consider the super food characteristics of Mulberries, which can literally be found anywhere in Atlanta, making wild foods a worthwhile study for the adventurous urban or suburban dweller.
Noring Farm is nestled at the end of a slender country road mainly populated by horse pastures. Newton county, as farmer Andrew Norman mentions, an agrarian county, provides a tremendous network. Neighbors are exchanging wheat straw, manure, advice – whatever fits their needs as they arise. During my visit a neighbor takes her dog for a walk down the farms’ long wooded driveway, a regular occurrence, illustrating further what a healthy, sharing community looks like. As simple as it sounds, coming from Atlanta , where people fight over parking spots & BBQ smoke, this strikes me as a small miracle.
The farm is in its second spring and soil amendments are still shaping up to their nutrient dense potential. Andrew grew up on a farm & knows well how to perfect the ground that not long ago served as horse pasture. I get a chance to try a few of his heirloom vegetables. Immediately, my taste buds are engaged by their savoring complexities. Heirloom produce reminds me of an exquisite handcrafted piece of chocolate. The purple asparagus I taste comes straight out of the ground and incorporates various flavors as you keep eating it. The original carrot, Andrew enlightens me, was almost black due to its nutrient dense pigmentation. Every vegetable you can think off has numerous sub-varieties, each with its own flavor, colouring and shape.
Noring Farms, however, doesn’t just harvest exotic plants and French Copper Maran chicken eggs but is also home to a variety of Georgia native fruit trees, such as the Mayhaw & Chicken Saw Plums. The unique character of the farm reflects the individuals who own it, show casing and preserving varieties that are inspiring to any chef, whilst incorporating an indigenous variation of produce along side. Check out the full interview & take a peak at the farm during its early spring planting face below.
~ Live Well & Be Merry ~
Arepa Mia‘s slogan resonates loud & clear with any hungry soul. For good reason, this simple scrumptious dish, prepared by Venezuelan Native Lisbet Hernadez, hits the spot every time!
An arepa is a traditional South American dish, originated in Venezuela, prepared & used much like bread. Instead of wheat, arepas are made from the base of ground corn and are often served in street side stands, restaurants or at home.
Liz Hernandez prepares her arepas by hand with locally sourced ingredients. The meats she uses come from Riverview Farms, vegetables are sourced via Woodland Farms among others. Learn more about Liz & the story behind her Arepas in the following clip.
~Live well & Be merry~
How do you run a fully functioning farm in a suburban neighborhood setting? Duane Marcus would certainly know. He’s been implementing a completely unique farming model over the past five years. Duane is well known in the Atlanta gardening community & has over 30 years of organic farming experience. Currently, he manages the Decatur Farmers Market, while selling his own harvested vegetables & herbs. A personal favorite of mine: the Funny Farm’s braising mix that includes edible flowers, blossoms & a simple variety of dark greens, excellent if flash-sauteed with a hint of braggs or even as salad mix.
When I show up on the coattails of a warmer than usual Georgia Winter everything in his garden is starting to or already is flowering. I find him in the back of his house, prepping seedlings for soil transplanting.
Astoundingly, the 3 acres surrounding his home in Stone Mountain, Georgia are producing a large variety of fruits, vegetables, herbs, mushrooms, woody flowers – you name it. Hard to believe it was only five years ago Duane plowed & dumped a truck load of compost on the ground of what looked like a typical suburb front yard, mostly commuter grass & a few perennials here and there. He really knows how to utilize the setting of his land! On the edges near the road where it tends to be more shady, mostly fruit trees have been planted. He explains that location and environment resemble the trees natural habitat. The harvest success of last years manking cherry tree of over 5000 cherries, echos his statement. In addition, the economy of planting manking makes even more sense for suburbanites, not requiring a second variation of cherry tree to pollinate. Maximizing space usage is what this type of gardening is all about.
One gardening bed was in fact over planted with a secondary crop. Duane explains that once he puts carrot seedlings in the ground it takes a couple of weeks for them to germinate; meanwhile he plants arugula on top, utilizing the rich organic properties of his soil, enabling him to harvest 100 lbs of arugula before the carrots get pulled out.
Farmer Marcus’ bag of farming tricks seems limitless. I listen closely to him describing adequate water usage. Most people, he notes, tend to over water, killing their plants faster in fact than not watering enough. He typically waters very little and during drought seasons he hand waters so he can put the water right when & where he needs it. Luckily, this particular suburb was designed with a .5 acre pond as well, situated conveniently next to Duane’s backyard. Every fully functioning farm will contain a body of water or be able to access one nearby, a crucial element necessary for livestock and crops to flourish.
If you need more advice, inspiration or just want to see what happens at the Funny Farm check out their blog or sign up for a gardening class. Hurry they sell out quickly! As a big coffee & tea drinker, for example, I am learning how to use these compounds for growing mushrooms. (read more – here) Neat – right?!
My favorite aspect about visiting the Funny Farm has to be the application of permaculture principals to a suburban setting. The amount of adaptability and creativity we can employ when it comes to growing food is solely dependent on our drive. With resources present in our communities of people, land and nature we have what it takes. One of the most reiterated common sense principals every farmer will tell you: Use what you got & make it work!
~Live well & Be merry~