Our Annual Cook Off – 2012 Theme: Brooklyn

Once a year our daughters challenge themselves with their very own Cook Off in which we are the judges. They usually come up with individual themes, but this year they thought they would share a theme. They asked me for ideas and without hesitation, I suggested: Brooklyn. After much contemplation and research and then several hours of preparation on the day of the Cook Off, they presented us with a full-course meal. I never imagined the clever concepts and creative plating and flavors this would generate. Interestingly, Joie thought of old-time Breukelen and the shores of the East River and Coney Island, while Sophie thought of more modern day artisanal Brooklyn.

As usual we ate well from appetizer to dessert – a “Junior’s Inspired Chocolate Cheesecake” with orange zest and raspberry sorbet  and “A Treat Grows in Brooklyn”- a seasonal cinnamon apple pear crumble inspired by the 1943 novel by Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, complete with a homemade puff pastry tree.

We ate, we judged, we enjoyed immensely. In the end, I think the judges were the real winners!

Meatless Mondays

It’s always Meatless Mondays at our house and for that matter Meatless Tuesdays, Wednesdays… you get the point. If you’re looking to kick off 2012 in a healthier, more sustainable way, as well as inspiration to go meatless, check out Meatless Mondays, filled with recipes and resources for eating lower on the food chain. Our Meatless Monday dish tonight is:  Thai coconut curry tempeh, roasted string beans, black beans, coconut milk and Brown Rice Medley (long-grain brown rice, black barley and daikon radish seeds). Yum! For more on the subject of eating more sustainably and specifically on rethinking your meat intake, here’s an excerpt from my article, “The True Cost of Food,” published in 2009…

A discussion of food and climate change must address the need to significantly reduce our meat consumption. Fruits, vegetables, and grains require 95% percent less raw materials to produce. In a 2006 report, the United Nations said that raising animals for food generates more greenhouse gases than all the world’s transportation combined. Agribusinesses and large factory farms (also known as CAFOs, Confined Animal Feeding Operations), in particular, are major culprits. To counter this, there is a growing movement of small farms that have found methods to avoid much of the harm caused by factory farms and feedlots. Grass-fed beef, for example, is estimated to produce 40% less greenhouse emissions and grass is easier for cattle to digest, resulting in less methane, the second most significant greenhouse gas. According to the Sierra Club’s National Sustainable Consumption Committee, factory-bred animals are fed a diet of concentrated corn and other grains. 80% or more of the grain grown in the US is fed to cows—it takes 10 to 16 pounds of grain to produce a pound of meat. The true cost of raising this grain is enormous, requiring massive amounts of land, water and fertilizer. In recent years, more and more consumers are choosing to reduce their meat intake for health and sustainability reasons. If every American had just one meat-free day a week, it would reduce carbon emissions equal to taking 8 million cars off the road.

Happy Meatless Monday!