Monthly Archives: April 2010

Recipe of the Week – Peanut Soup

This week’s recipe is Peanut Soup – my take on African Peanut Soup, although my variations would probably make it unrecognizable to someone jonesing for the real thing. I think it’s pretty darn good…


    Brown Rice, medium grain, 2 cups Vegetable Broth – Pacific Low Sodium, 1.5 cup Water 1.5 cup Bay Leaf, 1 leaf Olive Oil, 4 tbsp (Divided) Onions, 1 medium chopped Green Peppers 1 cup, chopped Red Peppers 1 cup chopped Frozen mixed vegetables, 2 cups Garlic, 4 cloves chopped Goya Red Kideny Beans 1 can or 1.5 cup cooked Vegan Vegetable Bouillon – Rapunzel .5 cube Del Monte Petite Cut Diced Tomatoes, 28oz can Baby Spinach Salad, 6 oz Collards, 4 cup, chopped Cilantro, 1/4 cup chopped Natural Peanut Butter .5 cup (can be crunchy or smooth – I prefer crunchy) In-shell Peanuts handful chopped Chili Powder, 1 tsp Salt, 1 tsp optional Fresh Black Pepper, 1 dash optional


Make the brown rice first, using water, vegetable broth, .5 – 1 tbsp oil and bay leaf.

While the rice is cooking prep and make stew:
In big sturdy pot heat 2 – 3 tbsp of oil. Add onions and both red and green peppers. Cook until soft. Then add mixed frozen vegetables and cook through. Add garlic, cook until soft then add diced tomatoes, chili powered, bouillon and kidney beans. Let it cook for about 5 minutes. Mix in the peanut butter and add the fresh spinach and collards cover the pot to reduce the greens for about 5 min, don’t let them overcook. Once they are soft but still green stir in the cilantro, salt and pepper if desired. Add cooked rice, garnish with chopped peanuts and serve.

*if you are using white rice you can add it to the stew uncooked and let the stew simmer for 20 min. You can also use any other grain.

Number of Servings: 6

Organic Everything??

I know it’s tough to buy organic. I feel the tug in my wallet too. Is it really worth it? Do I have to by everything organic? The answer is yes it’s worth it – economically, public healthwise and environmentally – and no you don’t have to buy all organic. There are foods that I would highly recommend you purchase organic the “dirty dozen” so to speak. I prefer to think of it as the “Top 20” since items 15 – 20 on the list below compiled by the Environmental Working Group are foods we consume on a regular basis. The list is not all doom and gloom, the best news is that you also have the cleanest produce on the bottom of this list with my beloved onions, avocados, asparagus, eggplants and tomatoes among them.

Happy Shopping!

FoodNews: Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides
The Full List: 47 Fruits & Veggies

1 (worst) Peach 100 (highest pesticide load)
2 Apple 93
3 Sweet Bell Pepper 83
4 Celery 82
5 Nectarine 81
6 Strawberries 80
7 Cherries 73
8 Kale 69
9 Lettuce 67
10 Grapes – Imported 66
11 Carrot 63
12 Pear 63
13 Collard Greens 60
14 Spinach 58
15 Potato 56
16 Green Beans 53
17 Summer Squash 53
18 Pepper 51
19 Cucumber 50
20 Raspberries 46
21 Grapes – Domestic 44
22 Plum 44
23 Orange 44
24 Cauliflower 39
25 Tangerine 37
26 Mushrooms 36
27 Banana 34
28 Winter Squash 34
29 Cantaloupe 33
30 Cranberries 33
31 Honeydew Melon 30
32 Grapefruit 29
33 Sweet Potato 29
34 Tomato 29
35 Broccoli 28
36 Watermelon 26
37 Papaya 20
38 Eggplant 20
39 Cabbage 17
40 Kiwi 13
41 Sweet Peas – Frozen 10
42 Asparagus 10
43 Mango 9
44 Pineapple 7
45 Sweet Corn – Frozen 2
46 Avocado 1
47 (best) Onion 1 (lowest pesticide load)

Source: Environmental Working Group;

Rutgers Sustainable Farm a.k.a. C-S-A Baby!!

We were accepted into the Student Sustainable Farm at Rutgers this year. Woo hoo.

Community Supported Agriculture is a great way to eat mostly organic produce while supporting local farmers. In our case it will be the local University which is always great. This is a threefold benefit that really encompasses the goals of sustainability:

  • Economic: by supporting local business and buying organic at competitive prices
  • Environmental: less fossil fuel expenditure for travel and organic farming practices that tend to be better for environment
  • Social: by eating a nutritious diet of organic produce (or any produce!!) the burden on society is reduced by lower heath costs AND Rutgers also gives produce to local schools and shelters

I have been wanting to join a CSA for a very long time however, the costs and amount of produce associated it with it was always a barrier. No more! Since the majority of what we eat is plant-based and we have easily gone through our weekly greens we can definitely pull this off. What I like is that they give you sizes for their bunches in 2009. It’s very comparable to the organic produce we purchase at Wegmans every week.

What a great way to celebrate Earth Day…

A Spring Without Lilacs

We have two lilacs on our property. A small one right outside the window over my kitchen sink and one on the side of the house.

Our neighbor behind us has a lovely lilac that drapes over our back fence.

The little lilac never bloomed this spring. I’m very bummed because I love lilac and was really looking forward to it. Last year it only had two blooms. I cut it back after it bloomed last year because that’s what the internet told me to do. I don’t know if that affected it, if it’s too soon to bloom since it bloomed in May last year or still too young to have a full bloom.

Oh well, I guess we’ll have to wait until next year to see what will come up.

FRESH the Movie – Go See It!!

We saw FRESH the Movie last night – thanks Allison!

It was along the vein of Food, Inc. Joel Saletin was also in it. It highlighted smaller farming enterprises, organic farmers and urban farmers. Here’s a clip from their site.

I liked that sustainability was the main focus. The factory farming process this country relies on for the majority of its food is not sustainable. We use dead soil, treat it with chemicals and stronger and stronger pesticides due to the resistance of pests. The animals are treated in horrific ways that spread disease to both the animal and human population. Not to mention the run-off from animal farms contaminate nearby produce farms and wells.

The farm subsidy in this country needs to start getting away from corn and soy for animal production. Let the consumer pay the real price for the cows, pigs, chickens and processed foods they are eating, I bet you would see a lot less meat and junk food being eaten, it would also bring the costs of health care down. What I don’t understand is how people don’t realize that cheap food is not cheap in the long-run. Heart disease, cancer and diabetes are at the top of killers in this country. What percentage of those deaths do you think are preventable?? The most unfortunate aspect is that developing countries are beginning to follow this model. With that will come more obesity and livestock diseases.

Know where your food comes from, grow what you can. You can’t do everything but you can do something.

Urban Agriculture

Today and yesterday I attended:


It was a forum on issues of water and public health. For instance, according to the UN of all of the water in the world: 97% is salt, 2% is ice/glacial and only 1% is accessible for human consumption. Another tidbit – 45% of diarrhoeal diseases can be prevented by washing hands with soap and water. Fascinating and so effective!

One of the speakers was Dick Despommier, I love his This Week in Parasitism podcast. I was looking forward to hearing him speak about parasites and water because I knew he could make it really interesting. Well, I was even more excited because he spoke about agriculture. More specifically, he spoke about Vertical Farming. Kismet for me since I am currently working on a paper about urban agriculture and the impacts it has (can have) on environment (organic) and health (plant-based diet). While his ideas are a bit high tech for the developing world the models he showed were fantastic. Think of a parking deck inside of a greenhouse that creates its own energy with extra to sell (or give away).

I can’t wait to see what the future will bring.

Fungus Update

So we lost the battle with the fungus.

BUT – I have planted new seedlings using the beautiful soil with compost from our yard, not those little peat plugs, and peat pots for easy transplanting. They seem to be thriving, cross fingers!

I planted More Kentucky Wonder Beans, Asian Foot Long Beans, Turnips, Radishes, Beefsteak Tomatoes, Oxheart Tomatoes, Black Krims, Round Zucchini, Peas and Corn. From the first batch a Beefsteak Tomato and a Banana Pepper survived along with one of the Butternut Squashes.

In the germination tank I have: Spaghetti Squash that is popping, Black Beauty Zucchini, Cucumbers, Balck Beauty Eggplants, Butternut Squash, Brandywine Tomatoes, Roma Tomaotes, Banana Peppers, Beets, and Yellow Peppers

The best part is that as soon as a seedling emerges I cut the pot out of the set and put it under the florescent lights to get it ready for planting in mid-May.

Winter Warriors

So as a newbie planting greens I didn’t know that they could be so hardy and overwinter. we have a Spinach bunch and Two collards that started coming up in March…

And no, those are not rabbit or deer nibbling on the Collards, I can’t just help myself taking a piece now and then

I have also planted two rows of Collards and am looking forward to the harvest.

Ode to Compost

This is an ode, luckily with no odor. This was the first year we really got appreciate our compost bin. Last year’s trash is this year’s treasure.



This is Jared’s compost bin, made from 16 feet of plastic netting. You can get at this Home Depot @ $10 for 25 feet. It works really well. That plant growing right in front is one of our collards that survived the winter.

During (a closer look):

And this is what it becomes… drum roll please!

Beautiful dirt – this is last year’s compost incorporated into two sections of the garden.


So the computer is back and here’s the latest updates.

Spring has sprung! Crocuses a-plenty

It’s also nice to see the Tulips coming out

We also get the sunlounge monster during this time of year