Food Friday: Vegan Fried Green Tomatoes

By Megan Vick

 

My most favorite restaurant in the world is closing soon and I have been heartbroken since I got the news. Friends are out of jobs, customers are out of delicious local food, and I am out of pickled ramps and butternut squash gnocchi (not served together, I swear).

 

During our last visit there, we had delicious fried green tomatoes and I have been determined to recreate them. I think I’m doing pretty well so far… the best part is, instead of frying them, I’ve baked them in the oven for a healthier version. This recipe makes a great appetizer for 2 or small meal for 1 person. They were so good I forgot to take a picture – shocking, I know.

 

Here’s what you need:

 

  • 2 large green tomatoes (preferably organic)
  • 1/3 cup almond mik (either plain or unsweetened… I’m sure any plant milk would work here)
  • 1/2 cup flour (almond, chickpea, all- purpose… anything you like)
  • Salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste

 

Here’s how to do it:

  • Preheat oven to 425F
  • Slice your tomatoes into thick slices (or quarters if you want to be fancy)
  • Put almond milk into bowl – set aside
  • Combine flour, pepper, salt, garlic powder together and mix well in another bowl – set aside
  • Dredge tomato slices in milk, then in the flour mixture – be sure to cover both sides completely
  • Put slices on a baking sheet, pan, or dish
  • Bake at 425 for 15-20 minutes until coating is golden brown

 

Pro Tip: Serve with some vegan ranch (a la Native Foods Cafe) for dipping or a balsamic reduction – Divine!!

 

You can thank me later! Enjoy and Namaste

Food Friday: Butternut Squash and Mushroom Lasagna

By Megan Vick

Nava, over at VegKitchen has a great vegan lasagna recipe for you! You can find the original on VegKitchen, but here it is for you! Butternut squash replaces tomato in this Italian comfort food. Yummy nummy.

Butternut Squash & Mushroom Lasagna

Ingredients:

  • 1 large butternut squash – 2lbs
  • 1lb mixed wild mushrooms, cleaned, stemmed, and sliced (I used crimini, shiitake, and portabello)
  • 1/4 dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup freshly minced parsley (I used 2 tbsp dried)
  • 9 no-boil lasagna noodles
  • Wheat germ for topping

Sauce:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped (I used 2 smaller onions which were sweeter)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced (I pressed mine)
  • Two 12.3 oz packages of firm silken tofu
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. To bake the squash, halve it lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Place the halves cut side up in a shallow, foil-lined baking dish and cover with more foil. Bake at 375 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes, or until easily pierced with a knife  but still firm. This step can be done ahead of time.
  2. When the squash is cool enough to handle, cut it into 1/2-inch-thick slices, then peel and cut each slice again so that it is 1/4 inch thick. Don’t worry if the slices break apart. If the squash has been microwaved, remove the seeds from it as you slice that section.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  4. Combine all the ingredients for the sauce in a food processor and process until very smooth.
  5. Combine the mushrooms and wine in a wide skillet and cook over medium heat, covered, until the mushrooms are wilted, about 8 minutes. Stir in the parsley.
  6. Spread just enough sauce to coat the bottom of a shallow 9- by 13-inch casserole dish. Arrange one layer of 3 lasagna noodles over it crosswise. Follow with a layer of half of the mushrooms, half of the squash slices, and half of the remaining sauce. Then place another layer of 3 noodles, the remaining mushrooms and squash, and the remaining noodles. Finish with a layer of the remaining sauce, sprinkled with some wheat germ.
  7. Cover the lasagna loosely with foil and bake for 35 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10 minutes more. Let stand for 10 minutes, then cut into squares and serve.

Butternut squash vegan lasagna

Enjoy!

GMOs: Trust No One

By Megan Vick

 

Okay, okay – the title might be a little dramatic, but it’s true. Whether you’re working an X-files case, or shopping for food, you must gather your own evidence and draw your own conclusions with the information at hand.

 

GMO Corn

 

I recently met a farmer who grows conventional produce and during the conversation, I asked him if he grew any genetically modified corn. He told me, in great detail, about the two corn varieties he grows. He shared with me that nearly all bi-color sweet corn (both yellow and white kernels) are genetically engineered. He’s very proud of his farming practices because he manages weeds and pests as naturally as possible, grows in greenhouses, and keeps bees to help pollinate his crops. He absolutely should be proud of what he’s doing.

 

 

 

Here’s where my eyebrows started to arch: he told me that the customers who come to his farmstand have started asking about the safety of the GE corn. He said, “well, the company I get the seeds from said they weren’t harmful, so that’s what I tell my customers.” He also told me how he lost about 40 beehives in the 2013 season for no apparent reason and was still trying to figure it out. 

 

 

Urban farm stand

 

Regardless of what you believe, what one study says over another, talk to your local farmers and do the research for yourself. If you’ve done some research on GMOs  and GE foods and you’re comfortable eating them – excellent. If you’ve done the research and are not comfortable eating those foods – make sure you buy local and really talk to your farmers. If they seem cagey about giving away information, explain why you’re asking. If they still seem sketchy, they might be trying to hide something or might feel uncomfortable with the questions. If living a GE/GM free life is important to you, ask the questions and don’t purchase food you’re not 100% comfortable with. Remember, you vote with your dollars every day and if you shop locally, that purchase goes even farther by telling local farmers what you want to see on your table.

 

Namaste.

Friday Feature: South Durham Farmers Market

By Megan Vick

 

For today’s Feature, I want to shine a spotlight on the South Durham Farmers Market. The SDFM, as it’s affectionately known, is going into its third year. Shorganics joined the SDFM for the 2013 season and we’ve found a wonderful home with them. All the vendors at the market go through a rigid inspection and evaluation period before they are allowed to sell. The Board of Directors for the market, many of whom are farmers and vendors themselves, inspect farms, assess products, and sample food to ensure you are getting the highest quality locally grown food and crafted items.

 

Whether you’re buying a scone at Ninth Street bakery, naturally-raised meat and eggs from Bull City Farm or Green Button Farm, or some awesome vegan soap from us, you can shop comfortably knowing each vendor is the best of the best. In just 2013, the market grew and changed so much. We are looking forward to more wonderfulness in 2014! I hope to see you soon!

 

Namaste

South Durham Farmers Market

GMO’s Superweeds

By Megan Vick

 

For some time now, agricultural researchers have warned farmers about superweeds – weeds resistant to traditional herbicides, including glyphosphate. A researcher from Washington State University found a higher instance of superweeds in cotton, soy, and corn crops. Farmers today are using significantly more herbicides than they were in 1999, shortly after the introduction of the Round-Up Ready seed.

 

This update on an ever-present danger becomes even more interesting when a Monsanto spokesperson says, “Herbicide-resistant weeds began well before GM crops.”  While this may be true, the problem has only been exacerbated by herbicide resistant crops and more powerful herbicides. The viscous cycle of  Monsanto consists of farmers buying Round-Up Ready seeds, followed by copious quantities of herbicide (most commonly glyphosphate). When the superweeds pop up, the farmers have to purchase more herbicide to continue spraying the crops. Monsanto also will make an improvement on a GMO seed and the farmers will then have to buy new seed, often at a higher price tag. On top of all this, many crops have a “kill-switch” inside them which won’t allow pollination, so farmers cannot save and collect seeds season after season.

 

As research continues to point out, there is no reason for GMO seeds and crops. They have done nothing to end the hunger crisis in many countries and they have not reduced the price of food for Americans. Everyone has a choice and the ability to vote with your dollars. When you buy organic cotton clothing, organic soy products (or at least non-GMO soy), and organic corn and cornstarch, you’re telling your grocer, the manufacturer, and the agricultural industry that you do not support GMOs.

 

Namaste

Product Feature: Cuticle Salve

By Megan Vick

 

Our cuticle salve started off as a personal mission for us because our cuticles were constantly cracked, dry, and causing painful hangnails. We wanted to make something small enough to fit in a pocket, but packed a big punch when applied. After many, many, many tweaks, our cuticle salve was born. It’s perfect for anyone who works a lot with their hands: artists, jewelry designers, wood crafters, sculptors, gardeners, farmers… you get the idea.

 

It’s creamier than other cuticle salves so you don’t have to work hard to apply it and it doesn’t leave your fingers feeling greasy. It also has Moroccan Argan oil which provides fantastic nourishment to your nails and cuticles. You’ll love how long a small jar lasts and at only $5.00, they’re perfect to give as gifts!

Organic Vegan Cuticle Salve

Can You Save the Butterflies?

By Megan Vick

 

For most people, butterflies hold a special place in our hearts as a symbol of beauty and freedom. Many children learn about Monarch butterflies in school because of their beautiful and epic migration patterns. Today, the Monarch population is declining at a dramatic rate. Many studies over the past 3 years indicate that the increased use of GM crops are linked to the decline of Monarchs. 

 

Monarch on Pink Zinnia

 

The most notable thing about GM crops is that they are touted as being “Roundup Ready.” Roundup is a herbicide produced by Monsanto which can be sprayed onto crops without damaging them, but it kills any weeds and unwanted plants around the crops. A common weed in many cornfields is milkweed, which just so happens to be the plant of choice for Monarch butterflies. The Monarchs lay eggs on milkweed plants because it provides the baby butterflies with a large plant to eat and then cocoon safely during the metamorphosis process. With more and more GM crops over the years, there has been a massive decline in milkweed plants leaving Monarchs to either lay their eggs elsewhere, or continue to prefer the milkweed plant only to have it killed in the crop-spraying process.

 

 

There are several ways you can get involved and help, but for most people, you can do 2 things: buy organic food (especially corn) and plant milkweed in your yard! When you buy organic food, you’re not only supporting a healthier lifestyle for your family by not ingesting pesticides and GMOs, but you’re also voting with your dollars. Each time you choose organic over conventionally grown food, you’re making a stand against GM crops and an industry that is shutting out family farms across the globe.

 

 

Butterfly Garden

In addition to buying organic, you can get milkweed seeds and plant a butterfly garden to help attract these beautiful creatures and encourage them to lay eggs on your plants. Butterflies are amazingly resilient. They only need a little help from us to restore their population while we continue to admire their beauty.

 

 

Make sure you include some butterfly friendly plants for your spring garden!  

 

 

Namaste!