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Nettles: Better than Spinach

April 11, 2010

Maybe it's not fair to compare. But I might not be able to help it.  For the past few weeks we have been using stinging nettles in tarts, pasta sauces and soups, basically anywhere you might think of putting spinach. The leaves are very delicate and cook down quickly. And if you haven't tried them the flavor tastes incredibly springy and green.Stinging nettles like to grow near abandoned houses, in shady spots. They really do sting.  Supposedly the sting helps with arthritis, so you could always leaving the picking job to your arthritic friends and family.  Or wear gloves. The sting goes away with cooking or drying.

Oscars Upon Us

March 6, 2010

This weekend marks the 82nd Academy Awards... At Kitchen Caravan we love watching the Oscars.  This year I wanted to take a moment to direct your attention to two of the nominees in the Best Documentary (Feature) category. The Cove, and Food Inc.  In different ways, both films explore issues of just & sustainable food systems. In the case of Food Inc., this correlation is obvious. The film, which features leading voices in the sustainable food movement like Michael Pollan, Eric Schlosser and Joel Salatin, is a survey of the industrial food system in the United States and encourages viewers to change their eating habits. Food Inc.'s Best Documentary Feature nomination has the meat industry wriggling in their seats; read this article on www.cattlenetwork.com. While The Cove is about dolphin slaughter in Japan, it also touches upon issues of overfishing, mercury poisoning and the importance of sustainable fisheries. Perhaps it's significant to note that both films are supported by Participant Media, eBay founder Jeff Skoll's production company that requires significant social action outreach plans to accompany the release of all their films. To learn more about the issues taken up in these films, you might want to check out our last two episodes. Learn about sustainable seafood in Port Orford, Oregon, and issues affecting young farmers.  Joel Salatin, who appears in Food Inc., is featured in our most recent video about the relationship between beginning farmers and their mentors. 

Bergamot

January 19, 2010

Earl Grey was always the tea party tea of choice in my house growing up and it continues to be a favorite. That is part of the reason why I was so excited to discover fresh bergamot at the farmers market here in Xania (one of the bigger cities in Crete). Suddenly everything was about bergamot. I added slices to my plain black tea to make fresh earl grey tea. There is a recipe for chamomile lemon shortbread that I was obsessed with two christmases ago, so I adapted that and used bergamot zest instead of lemon (and skipped the chamomile).  Then I stewed some with sugar and took to adding that to plain black tea so it was sweet and flavor all at once.  The next day I adapted the shortbread to be more greek-winter friendly and used olive oil instead of butter. This evening we went to a friends house for dinner and I used that same olive oil shortbread for the crust of a lemon-ricotta tart and put some of the candied bergamot on top for decoration. It has a really nice taste, it is a bit bitter but the flavor is lovely. I really can't stop putting it into everything...

Olive Pressing...

January 13, 2010
All those olives.... this much oil.

On saturday we went to the olive press. When we arrived, the man told us we were late and he was about to close. What we didn't realize was that he wasn't just closing for the day, but for the entire season. Our olives were the last ones pressed this year... so glad we made it just in time. They weighed the olives when we arrived, it was a whopping 204 kilos, and we ended up with about 40 kilos of oil, which works out to be the appropriate ratio (20%). I filmed the olives pressing and will be posting it for the next episode....

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