Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Weekly Recipe #93: Grated Raw Beet Salad with Jicama, Avocado and Orange

If you've had your fill of turkey, heavy side dishes and pie, this salad is for you. Full of bright flavors and colors, it offers a healthy dose of freshness to revive you after the holiday.

Jicama is a root vegetable with crunchy, slightly sweet white flesh. Cut off the tough skin before grating it for the recipe.

Grated Raw Beet Salad with Jicama, Avocado and Orange
Adapted from a recipe in Vegetarian Times

(Serves 6)

2 cups raw beets (3 medium beets), grated 
2 cups jicama, grated
1 avocado, thinly sliced
1 navel orange, peeled, sectioned, each section cut into thirds
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
3 tbsp. orange juice
1 tbsp. lime juice
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil, or more if desired
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted

1. Place beets in medium bowl along with jicama, avocado, orange and cilantro.
2. Whisk together orange juice concentrate, lime juice, cumin and coriander.
3. Whisk in oil. Pour over beet mixture, and toss to mix.
4. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle each serving with toasted pumpkin seeds.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Weekly Recipe #92: Haricots Verts with Hazelnuts

This week's recipe comes from Communications Director Susan Pagani. "I made this dish for the very first Thanksgiving dinner I ever cooked," she says. "I chose it for its simple yet fancy recipe, and it ended up being my favorite thing on the table!"

The whole staff at Open Arms would like to wish you a very happy Thanksgiving! We hope that your table is full and your loved ones are near this holiday.

Haricots Verts with Hazelnuts
(Adapted from Martha Stewart Living)
Serves 8-10

If you can't find blanched (skinned) hazelnuts, you can skin them yourself -- see Step 7-8.

1 1/2 lbs. haricots verts (green beans), stem ends trimmed
1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. salt
3 1/2 tbsp. unsalted butter
5 large shallots, peeled
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup hazelnuts, preferably blanched

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add haricots verts and 1 tablespoon salt and cook until just tender, 3 to 4 minutes.
3. Drain and plunge into an ice-water bath to chill. Drain and set aside. (This can be done up to a day in advance.)
4. In a medium skillet, melt 1 1/2 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat.
5. Add shallots, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and cook, turning, until shallots start to brown on all sides, 2 to 3 minutes.
6. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook, turning frequently, until shallots are well browned, about 15 minutes. Let cool slightly, then cut into slivers.
7. Meanwhile, place hazelnuts (blanched or with skin) in a baking pan. Toast in the oven until they darken, 5 to 7 minutes.
8. If using hazelnuts with skin, remove as much of it as possible by rubbing quickly and vigorously in a dish towel. Crush roughly with the flat side of a knife.
9. In a large skillet, heat remaining 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Add haricots verts, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/8 teaspoon pepper; cook, stirring, until heated through, about 3 minutes.
10. Add shallots and hazelnuts; cook 1 minute more. Transfer to a serving dish and serve.

Friday, November 16, 2012

On Gratitude

By Ben Penner, Open Farms Director

This season of thanks offers an opportunity to reflect, share and refocus on what is most important. Giving thanks makes us more present to our daily routines and to those around us. The abundance of the earth provides ample food, water, and beauty to share and so it is in this spirit that we grow and share food for those in our community with illness. The land will provide abundantly for many years to come if we take care of it, a virtuous cycle providing not only for the present but providing health and nourishment for future generations, the poor, the sick, the wealthy, in a word: everyone. We have the capacity to take care of each other.

Biology and culture, technology and practice determine routines of production, consumption, and celebration of food. While we were harvesting our crops at the farm, I noticed how much joy we all took in learning and practicing a routine – tilling, planting, tending and harvesting until finally there was a more abundant harvest we had anticipated. It was as if the surprise of it all kept us going. The soil produced food and the natural thought was to give thanks.

When I was in Ethiopia this past March our visit coincided with a period of fasting. Each person I met approached their fast differently; some eating meat, and some not, but each one used the time to change up their status quo for a period of time so they could reflect, remember and eventually give thanks. We all pause and remember the abundance we have and feel gratitude for all of the people who make the work of Open Arms possible in our community and around the world.

It is in this spirit that Open Arms seeks to serve our community, and provide nourishing food joyously for others.

Thank you.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Weekly Recipe #91: Thanksgiving Favorites from the Staff

In honor of the holiday fast approaching, we polled some of the staff about their favorite Thanksgiving food:

Kelly McManus, Creative Director: "Stuffing. And gravy. And turkey. And cranberry sauce. Do I have to pick only one?"
Elizabeth Polter, Client Services Director: "Pecan pie."
Asei Tendle, Food Services Director: "My mom's cornbread stuffing."
Jeff Langaard, Finance & Administration Director: "Thanksgiving is my favorite meal of the year! I could not live without turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, and corn."
Gwen Hill, Registered Dietitian: "Pumpkin pie!!!"
Tim Reardon, Executive Director: "Stuffing is right up there with the dark meat of the turkey and apple pie...it's too hard to choose, I like them all!
Max Drewes, Client Services Assistant: "Mashed potatoes."
Rita Panton, Kitchen Manager/Bread Production: "Cranberries and sweet potatoes."

Ellen Klahn, Volunteer Services Associate: "My mother's homemade turkey gravy -- it just makes everything that much better. Turkey drippings with flour and milk -- what more could you want?"
Nancy Benedict, Events Director: "I love a good juicy slice of turkey!"
Jeanne Foels, Marketing & Outreach Coordinator: "Definitely sweet potatoes...the more butter, the better!"
Melissa Henry, Volunteer Services Assistant: "Cranberry sauce."
Kienan Mick, Finance Assistant: "Pumpkin spice bars with cream cheese frosting."
Jennifer Van Wyk, Deputy Director: "Wine."
Cassie Mead, Kitchen Manager/Catering: "My aunt Mindy's mashed potatoes and gravy!
Rebecca Tofte, Development Director: "Leftovers. I love making a turkey, dressing and cranberry sandwich on ciabatta the day after Thanksgiving."
Ben Harrelson, Kitchen Manager/Quality Control: "Dark meat turkey."
Paul Tatro, Development Associate: "Garlic mashed potatoes!"
Susan Pagani, Communications Director: "Kentucky wonder beans with butter, salt and pepper. And then, of course, mashed potatoes, stuffing and gravy. If I didn't have turkey, I wouldn't really miss it."
Kent Linder, Operations Director: "I would have to say stuffing. It's the best."
Bob Jernberg, Janitorial/Kitchen Prep: "Turkey, of course, but also dressing and hot apple pie!"
Pete Fischer, Volunteer Services Coordinator: "Stuffing."

Friday, November 9, 2012

A Letter from South Africa: Clean Water & The SJC

By Kent Linder, International Program Director

This week in South Africa, I'm working with the Social Justice Campaign (SJC), which we support by funding their efforts to get clean water and sanitation to parts of the townships that are in desperate need of attention from the city.

Together, we distributed hundreds of newsletters, which they wittily call the "Toilet Paper," and worked to make more people aware of their efforts. This task took us through many sewage-filled pathways where children were playing -- unfortunately not a rare occurrence. By working to get the city to provide clean water and sanitation services, SJC hopes to increase safety and reduce disease. For example, tuberculosis is a very serious issue and a very common coinfection for people living with HIV/AIDS.

Despite all of the difficulties, SJC is making great progress in several areas of their work, including improving the state of sanitation. It has not been easy, but they have a large group of committed volunteers.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A Letter from South Africa: Gardening with Ikamva Labantu

By Kent Linder, International Program Director

As many of you know, I'll be in South Africa until December, working with our partners here on various projects. Last week, I met Emisa and Champion, pictured here.

They are gardeners at Ikamva Labantu, a partner organization, part of a team of five very dedicated people who tend vegetables in townships outside of Cape Town, South Africa. For the past couple of years, Open Arms' international program has been funding this program, including the gardener's salaries, seeds and other supplies. They grow vegetables without the use of harmful pesticides, and even though the ground is sandy and not ideal for incredible gardens, they have some pretty incredible things growing.

The vegetables get used by the community in areas where food is scarce, especially healthy food. In a place where 20% of people are living with HIV, it's essential that people have access to good vegetables. Many of the homes include caregivers who look after many young children, most likely orphaned because of illness or poverty.

So, just like at Open Farms, there was no shortage of prepping, planting, watering or weeding during the days I was able to "dig in" at Ikamva Labantu. When I asked Champion why he was doing this work, he answered: "Gardening is my passion." We spent two days together, getting plots ready for maize (corn) and tomatoes. Before I arrived to assist them, the farmers had asked how old I and how fit I was; I don't know if they expected me to be able to help them accomplish anything. But we filled almost every open plot of land. In addition to getting the vegetables planted, Champion made it clear that the garden was to be maintained to the highest level. It had to be spotless. He was proud of it, and rightly so.

While we were planting the corn, Champion was spacing the seeds very far apart. I asked him about this, stating that in the US we plant the sweet corn much closer together. Champion insisted that it was the way that would be best. "The plants want to be free. They must be free." I thought that was a great explanation. We all deserve to be free, don't we?

The vegetables will grow. They'll certainly be enjoyed. And they made a big difference to nearly 200 families last year in the townships surrounding Cape Town.

It's always amazing to realize the impact we have with our international programs.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Weekly Recipe #90: Carrot Cupcakes

At Open Farms, our carrot crop is still growing strong, sheltered from frosts in our cozy low tunnels.

In honor of these hardy orange roots, this week's recipe is for delightfully moist carrot cupcakes. Open Arms baker Rita Panton loves to use this recipe for the birthday cupcakes we deliver to our clients to celebrate their special day.

In addition to birthdays, these cupcakes would be a perfect dessert for your turkey day table: classic, delicious and even a bit healthy, since you'll get your fill of Vitamin A from the carrots.

Carrot Cupcakes
(Makes about a dozen huge cupcakes)

2 cups flour
1 tbsp. cinnamon
1/2 tbsp. ginger
2 tsp. baking soda
2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 cups canola oil
4 large eggs
3 1/2 cups grated carrot
1 can crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup walnuts, toasted

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix together first four dry ingredients in a bowl.
3. In another, larger bowl, whisk sugar, oil and eggs together until smooth.
4. Mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients.
5. Fold in carrots, pineapple and nuts.
6. Scoop into greased muffin tins (or a large sheet cake pan) and put in the oven. Check cake with a toothpick after 28 minutes.

1 lb. cream cheese
1/2 lb. butter, softened
1/4 lb. powdered sugar
1/2 tbsp. vanilla

1. Whip all ingredients together until smooth.
2. Frost cupcakes after they have cooled.