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Blog archive: April 2007

Dem bones

Beef bones

As an environmentalist, there’s nothing I like better than finding something fabulously useful to do with apparently useless things. As an OrganicFoodee, it’s doubly as cool when the apparently useless thing turns out to be a delicious ingredient. Of course, everybody’s grandmother knows that you should relish old bones instead of throwing them away. In just about every culture, people have been boiling up bones for as long as anyone can remember.

As an ex-vegan, I love the idea of using every part of an animal rather than sending parts of it to the landfill. It seems so wrong when we waste food, but wasting parts of an animal seems so much more immoral than wasting plant-based foods.

While making this rich brown beef stock, my kitchen went through three olphactory phases…

The first was the smell of roasting beef bones, which was a tallow-ish, beef dripping sort of fragrance. This stage made my vegan roommate slightly paler in complexion, and could be described as an acquired fragrance.

The second stage had an undeniably delicious and fresh aroma, the smell of fragrant vegetables, including carrots, celery and fennel (anise), delicate yet all-pervading, and mouth-wateringly evocative to all, whether meat eating or vegetarian.

The third stage was the longest stage, as the stock simmered and cooked for a good eight hours. The third stage prompted another of my roommates (there are eleven of them, don’t forget), to reminisce about her grandmother’s kitchen. It’s that thoroughly cooked, stewed beef, long-simmering soup frangrance that’s as homely as a picket fence and as comforting as a cat’s purr.

Nori seaweed is so tasty

Nori rolls

Here I am at Urth Cafe enjoying some nori seaweed rolls. Inside the thin thin layer of seaweed is moist Californian short grain brown rice, and inside that is some smooth ripe avocado and cool crisp cucumber. Underneath the seaweed is some umeboshi plum paste to help the seaweed paper wrap around and stick like glue. It’s also one of my favourite flavours, a sort of tart and salty and plummish fermented concoction that really does have to be tasted to be believed. And then there’s the nori seaweed itself. It’s grown in the ocean on nets made of woven rope dangled between long bamboo poles driven into the sea bed in gentle Japanes bays. The shallow waters mean that the plant can get plenty of sunlight to make the delicious and nutritious greens, while at the same time absorbing a bounty of minerals from the sea water it’s sucking from. Richly flavoured and just so good for you, it’s easy to cook with and the easiest of sea vegetables to eat.

We Stepped It Up!

step it up hollywood

Last weekend, OrganicFoodee took part in America’s biggest ever protest againt global warming. We organised a hike to the world-famous Hollywood Sign, which involves hiking through some beautiful little mountains in a huge wild park in the middle of Hollywood, California. This was as a part of a new kind of internet-age protest. In the past, protests meant a single march, perhaps in New York or in Washington. Then came the Iraq war, and protests meant one day of coordinated marches in cities throughout the world. And now, Step It Up has invented a whole new de-centralised way of protesting.

The guy behind Step It Up is Bill McKibben, a scholarly man and author of influential eco-books including ‘The End of Nature’. He decided in January of this year to invent Step It Up on April 14th, a week before America celebrates Earth Day.

The format of Step It Up is that volunteers sign up to organise local actions in their own neighbourhood. So a group of senior citizens in Idaho organised a tea party, a group of deep sea divers organised a dive to a coral reef, and OrganicFoodee organised a hike to the Hollywood Sign.

Whatever everyone did, they made sure to bring a banner that said:

Step It Up 2007. Cut Carbon 80% by 2050

This might seem a tall order, but actually, that’s only 2% per year, and is a figure that’s generally agreed upon to be what’s needed to reverse climate change.

So all in all, there were over 1400 local actions in every State in the Union. And in a year that saw Exxon Mobil make more money than any other company in the history of the world, it seems the very least we can do is let Congress know that we’re set on saving this beautiful planet.

Here are some easy ways you can lessen your impact on the environment:

1. Buy your organic food locally. The average American meal travels 1,500 miles from the farm to the store to your plate.

2. Replace common incandescent light bulbs with low energy compact fluorescent light bulbs.

3. Use public transport and bicycles, or ride share if possible.

4. Get a programmable thermostat and set it two degrees cooler for winter heating, and two degrees warmer for summertime air conditioning.

5. By an Energy Star washing machine, fridge, or other appliance when you replace your old one.

6. When you’re buying a car, make sure you prioritise the gas mileage, plus keep your tires properly inflated.

7. Switch to green power.

Durian fruit smells disgusting…


Durian is a kind of fruit that is grown and enjoyed in Indonesia. Here’s my friend Rob Ganger risking his olfactory glands by holding a box of durian hazardously close to his nose.

This stuff smells revolting. More than revolting. A combination of rotting flesh, burnt carpets and poo, the smell makes you wonder how anyone ever had the idea to try putting some of this fruit into their mouths.

Thankfully they did, as the taste is really extraordinary.

Very sweet, and then very savoury. A mixture of raspberries and sugar cane with camembert and green onions. A little goes a long way. Some people just can’t get enough, but for me, one bite was enough. I think durian is more of an ingredient to whizz into an almond milk smoothie, but aficionados would disagree.

Swiss ruby chard

Ruby chard and white beets

I just couldn’t help admiring the rich colours that leapt out of the frying pan. Here’s the beginnings of a very simple stir fry I made with Swiss ruby chard, carrots, leeks, coriander leaves, onion, garlic and radishes, all locally grown, organic and bursting with chi.

Yumiko’s soup

Steve and Yumiko

Steve Fishman is one of the world’s Lucky People. As husband to Yumiko Fishman, Steve gets to eat Yumiko’s home-made food every single day of his lucky existence. As one of Steve’s friends and colleagues and a good friend of Yumiko too, I get to eat her food on occassion as well. And let me tell you, I cherish the times that I do…

Today Yumiko prepared a delicious Greek salad (cucumber, tomato, olives and feta) and made a piping hot soup in the following way. First, she made a rue by heating some olive oil and stirring in a small amount of corn flour. Then she slowly added some cream, followed by a lot of soya milk. Into this creamy soup base she added a lovely mixture of vegetables, including onions, mushrooms, broccoli, carrots and corn. The whole soup simmered for about 25 minutes, until all the veggies were moist and melty.


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