Save the Leftovers! With a Side of Urban Garden.

Have you seen the recent data on food waste in the US? A whopping 40% of American food supply goes to waste every year. That’s horrific.

Beans saved from the trash!

The thought of trashing perfectly good food makes me crazy. I’ve been known to save teensy amounts of what remains on my plate, repurposing it the next day. Today’s topic is a Mexican dinner out.

After a visit to Frio en La Paz (YUM!) Vore and I were left with a few tablespoons of cheese dip and about 1/2 cup of black beans, spread between our plates. Some might think that’s not enough to save. Hogwash!

<——Look what the scraps became.

The next morning, I made spinach omelets, stuffed with black beans and smothered in queso.

It was the best darn breakfast I’ve had in a while! I’m curious: What’s your secret for saving food from the trash?

On the opposite end of the spectrum, I’m over at Magic City Post today, discussing food deserts in the city of Birmingham. While downtown groceries are scarce, community gardens are popping up all over the place. Interviewing the folks who live and farm downtown was a treat. Here’s a little eye candy to tease you over there. How cute is this urban garden?

Funeral Food: Corn Pudding Revisited.

My mom is a hoot, as evidenced my her choice of reading material. Not too long ago, she talked me into reading a book with a rather bizarre title: Being Dead Is No Excuse: The Official Southern Ladies Guide To Hosting the Perfect Funeral. Say what?

Once I dug in, I found that the basic premise is so stinking true. Down here, if anything out of the ordinary happens to your family–someone passes away, a baby is born, someone has surgery–Southern ladies get to organizing meals on wheels. You’ll be fed for weeks after a tragedy.

The tired/sick/bereaved won’t be delivered just anything. Comfort food is requisite. Recipes generally start with a stick of butter or one can cream of fill-in-the-blank. Read the book to find out how Baptist recipes differ from Methodist. Hilarious.

I first had green bean casserole (the kind with the onion rings on top) after my grandfather passed. It was on a similar occasion that our family was introduced to corn soufflé.

This corn pudding is too thick to be creamed corn, but too loose to be cornbread. It’s heaven. We loved it so much that my mom snagged the recipe, and it came into the rotation at our dinner table. May I present to you <———— exhibit A, the recipe handwritten by my mom. Please note:

  • An entire STICK of butter in a dish that serves approximately 8 side dishes
  • Jiffy cornbread mix, containing lard, amongst other unpronounceables
  • Canned veggies, horrible in the sodium department.

Recently, I decided to do what any self-respecting kitchen experimenter would do. I sought out to revamp the recipe, making it worthy of something other than a funeral or Thanksgiving.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am feeling very smug. I have conquered corn pudding. I did the math and my version has less than half the calories and 1/3 the fat of the original. Dare I say it tastes even better? Take that, funeral food.

 

*Remove corn kernels from the ear. May I suggest this technique?

*Set 2 cups of corn aside. Throw all the rest of your ingredients into a high speed blender or food processor.

*Blend until smooth, then stir the reserved corn into the batter.

*Spray the heck out of a 8×8 pan or casserole dish. Pour the batter in and bake at 375 for 40 minutes.

What I Ate Wednesday (WIAW Peer Pressure!)

All the cool kids are doing it.

Google “WIAW” and you’ll see a whole bunch of bloggers dishing on a day’s worth of eats. I first saw the post over at Peace Love and Oats. I have to admit, it’s fascinating to take a peek at other folks’ dinner table. Moreover, following bloggers who regularly post their meals gives me ideas!

I thought I’d give it a try this week. Perhaps carnivores are interested in what a vegetarian eats? I think you’ll seem I’m not starving! Here goes nothing…

Breakfast: 1 egg + 1/2 cup egg whites (protein, baby!) with roasted red peppers mixed in. I topped my eggs with a small handful of freshly shredded gouda and sliced a peach to enjoy on the side.

Lunch: Due to my office hours with a client, this one had to be portable. I had a spinach salad toped with tofu, 1/4 cup kidney beans, sliced tomato and homemade balsamic vinaigrette. Ezekiel bread and cheese on the side, ported in this precious reusable bag.

Snack: One cup skim milk blended to frothy deliciousness with cantaloupe and frozen watermelon. This reminded me of a trip to Jamaica!

Dinner: The entire last row is dinner because my man surprised me with an invitation to a rare weeknight dinner out. Chez Fon Fon patio? Yes, please!

I started with a glass of Chardonnay and bread from the basket. The veggie plate was my main course. (They seriously serve the best veggie plate in existence.) Vore and I split the blueberry cheesecake for dessert. Notice his phantom hand waiting for me to take the picture so he can dig in!

What did YOU eat this Wednesday?

Hill Sprints: Easy as One, Two, Tree!

Today was the stuff dreams are made of. For once in this Alabama summer, it was pleasant outside–clear, low humidity and a high in the 80s. Bliss.

Around 9, I decided to embrace the sunshine and set out for a run. I covered 4.5  miles, but was left wanting a little more.

I thought up a little game for a finisher. Hill sprints!

From all my posting about high intensity intervals, you would think that I just love them. Not true. Tabata sprints and hills from hell are straight up misery. But they get great results.

Today’s, distraction was landmarks. I started at a rock:

Then ran for the trees at the top of the hill:

The trees were planted about 10 yards apart. (hard to see from this perspective, but they are evenly spaced.)

Sprint 1: Go to the farthest tree. Jog down to the rock.

Sprint 2: Hit the middle tree, then the rock again.

Sprint 3: Dash to the last tree, jog to the rock, praise the Lord you are done.

While I might have been tempted to quit after I sucked wind on sprint #1, by golly I had a goal and I’d sooner choke on my Nikes than quit. I rocked all three sprints.

Do you cook up creative ways to ensure you don’t quit? Birmingham folks, bonus points if you can identify this hill. It’s well traveled.

Peachy Nilla Smoothie.

Confession: I have snacked on exactly, precisely the same smoothie three days in a row. As a smoothie dabbler, I’m here to tell you the repetition is a big deal.

Last week, I stopped by the farm stand on my way home. I couldn’t resist an enormous box of perfect smelling freestone Alabama peaches. I dutifully sliced the little beauties, freezing them on a cookie sheet to put up for fall. Summer’s peaches are infinitely better than the frozen bagged stuff at the grocery.

Oops. My stash is already half gone! Back to the farm stand I go…

Peachy Nilla Smoothie

1 cup Kefir (I ❤ Kefir!)

1/2 cup vanilla almond milk, unsweetened

1 cup sliced frozen peaches, skin and all

1/2 tablespoon Stevia in the Raw

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Combine all these ingredients in a high speed blender and get to mixing.

If you’re feeling funky, add a splash of almond extract. A little goes a long way, but I’m of the opinion it makes the smoothie straight up sinful.

This little combo is every bit as creamy and sweet as the sugar-laden atrocities they are serving at fast-food restaurants. Prepare to swoon.

Graceland! And other Memphis Adventures.

Last weekend, Vore and I went to Memphis. It was only 24-hours, but we had fun!

Exhibit A: 

Veggie + Vore at Graceland.

Ever the researched tourists, we did a good bit of Googling before we pulled on our blue suede shoes and headed for the land of delta blues. Here’s what we did:

1. Graceland.

I’ve been to Memphis several times, but for whatever reason hadn’t made it to Graceland. Vore and I had visions of driving up and taking a quick tour. We had NO IDEA how many people would be there, or all the hullabaloo surrounding a relatively small house.

A few things to know before you go: 

  • Graceland is way pricey. We bought tickets to tour the house, garage, and planes. This “platinum” package was $36 a piece. Flash your AAA card for a 10% discount.
  • OMG the line. The line to get a shuttle bus was an hour long and it was deathly hot. I felt like we should have ridden Space Mountain at the end.
  • Headsets are available. These don’t cost anything extra, and the tour guide’s commentary made the goofy looking set up totally worth it.
  • It’s 70s-a-rific! You haven’t lived until you’ve seen peacock stained glass or the Jungle Room. The house is like a time capsule. Loved it!
  • Don’t skip the automobile museum. Or the private planes for that matter. It’s cool to get a look at Elvis’ toys.
  • Start to finish, Graceland took us 2.5 hours. I thought we would be in and out in an hour. No way! Consequently, I was insanely hungry before we left. Which brings me to our next stop…

2. The Arcade and South Main. 

The Arcade just so happens to be the oldest restaurant in Memphis. It’s got the cutest diner feel–the whole place is oozing with nostalgia. I’m confident kids would be all over the menu and the charm. The sandwiches were nothing to write home about, but the street where the Arcade stands is.

The South Main Historic District was perhaps my favorite area of Memphis. The neighborhood is teaming with trolley cars, quaint shops and old school feel. Super cute.

While you’re there, take a short walk to the Lorraine Hotel, to honor the spot where we lost Dr. Martin Luther King. It’s a sober place to pay respects. You can feel the history surrounding you.

3.  Peabody Hotel.

Come for the ducks. Stay for the drinks.

There’s a whole lot of pageantry surrounding these ugly ducklings. (Sorry–they aren’t the prettiest things.) Each day at 5 o’clock, the Duck Master summons the ducks out of their swimming spot in the lobby fountain. With much fan fair, the ducks parade down a red carpet to the elevator. They ride up to the rooftop where they stay the night in their super-fancy bird house.

You can follow them up to the roof and enjoy sweeping views of Memphis and the Mississippi River, all while sipping a cocktail. It made for a great evening.

What’s your favorite Memphis spot? Have you taken any fun 24-hour trips lately?

There’s Millet in My Skillet

God bless Millet. She doesn’t have the prettiest name. She’s an often overlooked grain.

But look at all these fabulous traits of little miss Millet. <—-If I read that article correctly, it says that the grain is loaded down with serotonin, and might actually calm your “moods.” Heaven knows I need calming. Sign me up!

While Millet is perfectly delicious cooked by the package directions, you can grind it into a gluten free flour. The result reminds me very much of cornmeal. The taste is a little more sharp, but the color and texture are there.

I started playing with a recipe for a cornbread cousin not too long ago and landed on this gem. I’ve used my Gran’s old divided cast iron skillet for a vessel, but you can take the muffin tin route if you’d rather.

This bread is just a touch sweet and super moist. The coconut flavor takes it over the edge. Serve as a side dish to complete a salad. Thank me later!

Coconut-Millet Skillet Bread

1 cup millet, processed to a fine flour

1/2 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

1 cup coconut milk

1/4 cup ricotta cheese

2 tablespoons agave syrup

1 egg

*Stir together the dry ingredients in one bowl, and the wet in another.

*Add the wet ingredients to the dry, stirring until just combined.

*Pour the batter into muffin tins or a divided cornbread skillet. Leave a little room at the top of each section to accommodate a small rise.

*Bake at 350 for 15 minutes, or until lightly brown.