Over the past few months I’ve become more involved with the Slow Foods group at University of Kentucky. This summer they’re organizing biweekly dinners with a twist. The person hosting the dinner volunteers half a day at one of UK’s research farms, where food for the UK’s CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) is grown (check out their blog). Many of the students working on the farm are involved in the sustainable agriculture program. Then the host gets all the goodies that one would get as a person would who pays for the summer CSA cooperative. Then the host gets to have a great time planning the menu and hosting a dinner for the Slow Foods group & friends.
I had a blast working on the farm with everyone. I’ve begun to get to know these people and they’re fun to be around. I woke to some brisk but great working weather at 6:30am. When I arrived at 7:15, there are already people out working. We first harvested salad mix. It was very peaceful to be out there in a big field listening to the birds and crickets chirping. Then I went and helped to rinse the vegetables. They filled a large tub with water and we dumped the salad mix into it. I was joking around and said, “We’ll need a big salad spinner!” The girl I was working with turned around and pointed…to a washing machine! That was the big salad spinner! I thought that was pretty genius. We then spent the rest of the time washing heads of lettuce and kohl rabi. I then harvested some cilantro, then went back to help bag the best tasting spinach.
At noon, several of the workers put together a super lunch, which was held under the main building which is made out of the coolest salvaged materials. It was so neat! It was the real deal (the lunch and building). Forget any restaurant! We had cheese grit cakes with a big slice of tomato and cilantro pesto. Kohl Rabi, radish, and carrot slaw, homemade bread with garlic scape pesto, and braised green beans with a balsamic glaze. Sure beats a PB sandwich and granola bar!
I hosted the first dinner of the summer, even though it was a slow start. I have a ton of left overs…but at least I’ll get to go for a whole week without running to the grocery! In the box of food I received, I got a huge head of red lettuce, romaine, a bag of mixed salad, a bag of spinach, 2 kohl rabis, a pound of turnips, a bunch of cilantro, and broccoli. There was lots of salad…so I had two different salads and two dressings. For one salad I added cucumbers, strawberries, and almonds. For the other I had fresh mushrooms, green onions, and raspberries. I like turnips better raw, but I ended up making a turnip/potato/mushroom gratin with them. It was actually pretty good! I also had cornbread with garlic scape compound butter. Garlic Scapes (you know we like all types of ‘scapes’ around here!) are awesome…I hadn’t had them before, but I think they look like Edward Scissor Hand’s hands. Listed below are some of the other things I made with recipes. Kohl Rabi is now one of my favorite vegetables. I never knew what a Kohl Rabi even was! So now I have no excuse not to eat more vegetables…
I should also point out that all of this food is very economical, even if you bought these things at the grocery. I believe it’s fun to look at the economics of food compared to the nutrient level. You can have the same amount of fast food and slow food per volume visually on a plate. However, that fast food has a lot of calories compared to the slow food which has little. Slow Food is also full of nutrients your body needs to regenerate cells. Your body is the best investment you can make. Eating healthy makes you look healthy, especially your skin. I’ve been reading the book, Change Your Brain Change Your Body and it says you can judge the health of your brain by the way your skin looks. And your brain is the control center of everything!
Slow Food is worth the economics because it can do a lot of preventing of illness and will increase your longevity. Plus a diet with lots of vegetables keeps an alkaline PH in your body, which an acidic pH in the body will produce illness. It’s not really the pH of the food you want to look for. You have to know how your body processes it. For example, tomatoes are acidic, but when your body produces them it creates an alkaline chemical. Milk is alkaline, but when your body breaks it down, it creates a lot of acid in your which actually breaks down your bones. Spinach is the best way to go. So the way to prevent osteoporosis is to keep your body with an alkaline diet. The best things you can eat are leafy greens, especially cucumber and broccoli. Your body will release lots of endorphins after a nutrient full dinner!
Several of my recipes were inspired from the books, The Kentucky Fresh Cookbook (KF) & Skinny Bitch: Ultimate Everyday Cookbook (SB). I note which recipes I made up that were inspired from these books.
Banana Cake- a favorite!
Bow-tie Pasta with Broccoli, Spinach, & Mayo Vinegar Dressing
- Cook bow-tie pasta and allow to cool.
- Chop up broccoli, spinach, cherry tomatoes, red onion. Mix in Dressing.
Mayo Vinegar Dressing (KF)
- 1/2 C mayonnaise
- 1/4 C sugar
- 3 TBS apple cider vinegar
- 2 tsp whole grain mustard
- 1/4 tsp salt & pepper
Kohl Rabi Slaw with White Miso Ginger Dressing
- Cut your Kohl Rabi in half. Then slice thinly each half. You will have a half moon shape. Slice that into matchsticks.
- Add in julienne carrots, scallions, and sesame seeds.
- Mix in dressing. You can allow this to marinate.
Miso Ginger Dressing (SB)
(makes a little less than 2/3 cup)
- 1″ knob of fresh ginger
- 1 garlic clove pressed
- 2 TBS white miso paste
- 1 TBS rice wine vinegar
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1/4 C olive oil or sunflower oil
Sweet Sweet Potatoes with Roasted Spinach, Onions, Pecans (KF)
- 4 sweet potatoes
- 1/2 large yellow onion
- 1/4 C pecans, chopped to your liking
- Skin and roast your potatoes at 350 degrees. You can do this in the microwave, just prick with a fork so they don’t explode! It’s also good to add water to your pan so they steam.
- Cut sweet potatoes into chucks and line in the bottom of a baking dish.
- Add your dressing (recipe below) and use a spatula to cover all of the potatoes. Top with pecans.
- Cut spinach roughly, and chop onion into larger pieces.
- Scatter on the top of the potatoes.
- Spray with olive oil.
- Bake in oven until spinach is wilted. Probably around 20 minutes.
NOTE: Make sure you are using plain (not extra virgin) olive oil. Cooking olive oil has a higher smoke point when cooking. Reaching the smoke point with oils=carcinogens.
Maple Mustard Dressing
- 1 TBS balsamic vinegar
- 1 TBS maple syrup
- 1 TBS honey
- 1 TBS course grain mustard
- 1/4 tsp salt & pepper
- 3 TBS olive oil
The dressing I’m fixing from now on
Citrus Cilantro Dressing (SB)
- 1 lemon, juiced & zested
- 2 limes, juiced & zested
- 1 orange, juiced & zested
- 2 TBS agave syrup (or sugar)
- 1/3 cup cilantro finely chopped
- 1/2 C olive oil
- salt to taste
- Mix everything into a mason jar. The best way to store your dressing!
- Shake before serving.