Category Archives: Sustainable Eating

Good food and good business can go hand in hand!

Kale, Enough Already? Never! Tangy Kale Salad with Sunflower Seeds for a Crowd

kaleforcrowdMaybe by now you have had enough kale. Maybe you are on to some other cruciferous vegetable. But if you are looking for a salad to feed a crowd, kale salad is the best. I recently made it for the Gabi’s Pizza Dough Party and it was a hit for the following reasons: 1) Unlike most salads you can make it ahead of time 2) It can sit at room temperature for hours and actually gets better 3) It is fantastically easy and 4) Pecorino cheese, garlic and lemon juice–what a combo!

Raw Kale Salad With Pecorino and Sunflower Seeds

This recipe is essentially a big batch version of Melissa Clarke’s recipe for Raw Tuscan Kale Salad with Pecorino originally published in the New York Times with with minor alterations and substitutions. It was my mother’s idea to swap out the breadcrumbs for the sunflower seeds.  If you want to get fancy,  you can use pine nuts but they can be costly especially when you are making a large quantities. You can also substitute Parmesan for Pecorino but you will need to add more salt to taste.

The actual serving amount may vary depending on the size of your kale bunches and what else is on your menu. When I made this salad for Gabi’s party, I used 3 bunches but there was so much other food, it was enough to feed 20 people.

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1. Trim bottom off bottom 2-inches of kale stems and discard. Slice kale into 3/4-inch-wide ribbons. Place kale in a big bowl.

2. Using a mortar and pestle, pound garlic and salt into a paste. Transfer garlic to a small bowl. Add the cheese, olive oil, lemon juice, pepper flakes and black pepper, and whisk to combine. Pour dressing over kale and use your hands to thoroughly combine (dressing will be thick and need lots of tossing to coat leaves).

3. Let salad sit for 5 to 10 minutes, then toss with sunflower seeds and top with additional grated cheese.

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A Pot of Soup for Pops

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When the going gets tough, the tough get cooking,” I repeated to myself as I drove down Highway 280 to my parents house. My dad was down with a tooth ache.  My mother was taking him to the dentist, so my plan was to make a pot of chicken soup for them to share when they returned. I was grateful to have a jar of homemade stock leftover from a huge batch I made earlier in the week. The hard part of this story is that original reason for making the stock was to bring to a dear friend who had lumpectomy.  It feels like one of those “bad” times when my people aren’t feeling so good.

It’s during these “bad” times, that I head to the kitchen to cook. I may not be able to solve the problem, but I can make soup. And the truth is, there is much comfort in the cooking, especially for the cook.  This is why I regularly make big batches of stock to keep in the freezer. Once I have stock,  any number of soups can be made depending on the who, the where, and the why, or it can be simply served as is with a little salt.

For the chicken soup, I sauteed finely chopped onions and carrots, then added a little salt and poured in the stock. I let it simmer until the broth was flavorful and slightly sweet, then added chopped chicken thigh meat and Italian parsley. Once the chicken was cooked through, I turned off the heat and left the pot of soup on the stove for my parents to find when they got back from the dentist’s office.

As the tough cooks say “I will be back.”

Tough Girl Chicken Stock

The longer you cook the stock the more flavorful it becomes. I prefer to use chicken wings because they make a rich, flavor broth that doesn’t much straining. The addition of lots of carrots make slightly sweet stock, however, if your taste is more savory, you can substitute celery for half carrots.

Makes 12 to 13 cups

4 to 5 pounds chicken parts, preferably wings and necks

1 large onion, peeled

5 large carrots,  chopped

2 bay leaves

15 to 20 parsley sprigs or stems

Salt and pepper to taste

1. Place all the ingredients in a large stock pot with about 4 quarts (16 cups) of water.

2. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to simmer. Cook, skimming any foam for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, taste-testing with a little salt.

3. Turn off the heat and let cool. Use a ladle to skim off some of the fat that has risen to the top (or you can do this after refrigerating the finished stock). Strain and discard the remaining solids.

4. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

5. Use the stock immediately or refrigerate for up to 3 days. To freeze, let cool and pour into ziplock bags or into jars (leaving room at the top). It will keep in your freezer for up to 3 months.  

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Filed under Big Feeds & Feasts, Recipes, Sustainable Eating

Pie on a Mission at Mission Pie

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I was in a sad place the first time I went to Mission Pie. I had left my job of 18 years and was feeling lonely and vulnerable. The sweet smells of butter and sugar began to lift my spirits immediately. In the case rows of sweet and savory pies featured the flavors of the season: strawberry rhubarb; vegan apple rhubarb; Shaker lemon; mini-mixed berry, walnut, and an assortment of galettes, scones, muffins, salads and more.

I ordered a slice of quiche and a cup of coffee and sat down at the large communal table next to a group of students who were working on a project. Two older men shared a newspaper. A father and a toddler spelled out words with brightly colored letters at a small table in the window.  Young Mission Pie people delivered slices of pie topped with piles of whipped cream. The quiche arrived warm from the oven and was delicious—a savory custard filled with fresh peas and bacon. 

The whole scene made me so happy so quickly that I half-jokingly asked the young girl behind the register if there were any jobs available.

“Are you in a program?” she asked.

“What kind of program?” I said.

“Youth job placement…?” she asked earnestly.

If I had even read anything about Mission Pie, I would have known that besides being on Mission Street, the “mission” of this bakery is to be truly sustainable at all levels: from serving fair-trade coffee and organic milk to sourcing locally grown fruit, vegetables, and grains, to repurposing counter tops and most importantly, hiring and mentoring youth and young interns from within the community.  

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More than half of the store’s staff are under 25 years old and for many this is their first job, a deliberate choice by Mission Pie. The intention? To help young people in the community develop a healthy relationship to work, while arming them with transferable job skills and a stable work environment, as well as a chance to work on their mentorship and leadership.

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Everyone I have met since who works at Mission Pie has been really lovely and it is exciting to see how a business can provide job training while creating a gathering place for the community.  When I spoke to Dana Bialek she pointed me to a piece she wrote for the Mission Pie blog that summarized what working at Mission Pie meant to her:

“Food has been my education in community and generosity. In an urban landscape, food often takes place in commercial venues. Mission Pie is one of those—a bakery and café that specializes in, well, pie. Yet what makes Mission Pie special is the intention. At the heart of my work behind the counter is this question: How can a food experience feel intimate when the premise is not do-it-yourself, but, rather, have-it-done-for-you? If we do our job well, customers can interact with our food in a way that brings them to one of those ah-ha moments. This is how food happens.”

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The owners of Mission Pie, Karen Heisler and Krystin Rubin are deeply committed to being a sustainable business, one that makes decisions according to environmental, social, and economic values. This commitment and generosity inspires me every time I walk in that door:

“A lot of people talk about Mission Pie as a business that ‘gives back’ to its communities. While we appreciate the praise, we tend to reject the phrase. To us, “giving back” implies that the success of the business relies on an unfair take away – taking from customers, from the neighborhood, from vendors or staff. Every day since we opened in January 2007, we have practiced fair exchange – giving and taking – with our staff, our vendors, our neighbors and our customers. We know this fairness is key to offering you the highest quality of experience and food. We measure Mission Pie’s success not by what we take from others but by what we do to ensure fairness in what we give and take in trade, wage, and commerce. So we can’t call it a successful day without doing our fair share of giving.”

This spirit of giving is what Feed Your People is all about.  And in a city where a cup of coffee costs $4, Mission Pie makes sure that their food is affordable. A cup of coffee Mission Pie is $1.50 with a free refill in-house. The pie is never more than $4. Also Mission Pie is open late so if you get a craving you can satiate it until 10:00pm.

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I’m in a much better place than when I first went to Mission Pie. I go there regularly not only for the pie but for the sense of connectedness (and the smell of butter, of course!).  I haven’t tried to apply for a job there in a while, but it is nice to know that just in case, it is there.

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