Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Easing back into the blogosphere! An updated "Dirty Dozen v. Clean Fifteen" - organic v. non-organic produce

Wow - very long time since our last blog post!!! We'll make our way back into the blogging world slowly and start off with an updated "dirty dozen, clean fifteen" list.

A few years ago, The Environmental Working Group put out a list of produce more likely (dirty dozen) and less likely (clean fifteen) to retain pesticides and chemicals in traditional produce. Their handy list was meant to serve as a recommendation for produce shoppers choosing between organic and non-organic.

We blogged about this awhile back. The take home message was that some produce items are less susceptible to harmful pesticides so you don't always have to buy organic!

They've updated their list, tweaking the rankings based on updated research. No major changes as far as I can tell! Here it is:

The EWG's intro page has a balanced discussion of organic produce:
  • "Pesticides are detected in 7 of every 10 fruit and vegetable samples tested"
  • "Buying organic sends a message that you support environmentally friendly farming practices that minimize soil erosion, safeguard water quality and protect wildlife"
  • "The health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure"
  • "... recommend eating fruits and vegetables, even conventionally grown, instead of processed foods and other less healthy alternatives"
But you may as well avoid pesticides and chemicals when you can! So if you want the best produce, but also live in the real world where organic isn't always available or affordable, use this short list to help you make buying decisions.

- Erin and Ken

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Best 'O Pesto: Wanlut Pesto

A friend recently told me that she prefers to make the taste of walnut
pesto to the more traditional (and expensive) version made with
pine nuts. We had some walnuts in the fridge and basil from our farm
box. I had to supplement with some store-bought basil, since I doubled
the recipe, but it all came together easily. I used Ken's trusty hand
blender. I can't say enough good things about having a hand blender in
the kitchen!

One note, I used soaked walnuts. We blogged that recipe earlier, you
can find it here: soak your nuts. It is an extra step, but doesn't take much
actual hands on time. It's worth it, in my opinion, since soaking
eliminates bitterness, the resulting texture is nice and crunchy, and
apparently, though I have no scientific proof, they are more

You can find a good recipe here: kiss my spatula. Turns out it's an
adaptation of a Four Swallows recipe. Four Swallows is a restaurant on
Bainbridge Island, my hometown, which sources lots of local
ingredients (such as salad greens from Rebecca at Persephone Farms).
It's a place where my family has shared many nice meals.

Enjoy! - Erin

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Kombucha Celebrity!

Look who's on the official GT Synergy Kombucha website: none other than Ms. Erin Hoppin! We submitted this photo awhile back (before all of the hoopla about kombucha bottle labeling for alcohol content).

You can see it for yourself at . Erin's picture is in the slideshow of the homepage (a good 30 seconds into the slideshow)... for those less patient here is a screenshot:

The picture was taken on the ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge Island (you can see the Seattle skyline in the background).

Erin is enjoying her 15 minutes of fame and as a reward for her kombucha modeling, GT Dave and Synergy Drinks sent her a T-Shirt and kombucha coupons!

Honorable mention to me for taking the photo! Cheers! - Ken

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Get Thee To A Slow Cookery - Slooow Cooked Veal Bottom and Veggies

Long time no post ;) But we're back in action now!

One of my favorite tricks in the kitchen is to use the slow cooker! When I'm short on time I like to mix together veggies (from our Eatwell Farm CSA box) and meat in our freezer (from Marin Sun Farms) in the slow cooker! By improvising and not using a recipe, it makes things a little faster and convenient since I can throw in ingredients that are available to me in the kitchen. Extra potatoes and onions? Check. Tomatoes that may go bad in a few days? Check. It's also convenient with meats that I don't have experience cooking - what to do with veal in the freezer? Slow cooker! The big caveat is that improvisation also means that results are variable ;)

A recent successful slow cook dish was Veal Bottom with Veggies.
  • 1 pound and a half of veal bottom cut it into thick cubes.
  • 2 sliced onions
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tomatoes
  • summer squash sliced
  • diced potatoes
  • red bell pepper sliced
  • 2 poblano peppers sliced (without seeds)
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • salt and pepper

I let this cook for 14 hours on the "low setting". The result was amazing! The meat was tender and the combination of veggies worked really well.

The secret weapon was the poblano peppers; they added a subtle spiciness to every bite. I served this over rice (a mix of white and wild rice). Thank you slow cooker! - Ken

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Where has the kombucha gone?

Kombucha lovers everywhere are searching the shelves for "Booch" - it's been a few weeks since Whole Foods and several kombucha suppliers agreed to voluntarily remove product from shelves. The main issue appears to be alcohol levels in kombucha and proper labeling of the product. If you've ever tried store-bought kombucha, you know it can pack a slight punch and sometimes the label says "may contain less than 0.5% alcohol" due to fermentation.

Here are some sad shots of empty shelves where bottles of kombucha once stood :(

Fear not kombucha lovers, it sounds as if the problem should be solved within weeks, not months (fingers crossed)! Here is a great interview with GT Dave of Synergy Drinks where he talks about the situation. Good to know that it's not a food safety issue, but a voluntary removal of product until the labeling can be set straight. Also good to know that it wasn't due to Lindsay Lohan getting drunk on kombucha and violating her probation! Wow.

Until then, if you're having serious kombucha withdrawal symptoms, you might be able to find some local stores that haven't returned their kombucha stock (hint for SF'rs: found some at the corner store on Haight and Scott). Good luck fellow kombucha lovers! - Ken and Erin (FYI: Bob's Big Boy is protecting our last 2 bottles):

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A Peck of Pickles

Pickles delivered to your door by bicycle! Have you dreamed of this but never thought it could become a reality? Well, it can. I heard of Boozleys via the Tablehopper's May 25th "The Health Nut" update and I knew that I had to give them a try.

(photo from boosely's website)

It was so exciting to meet such a charming guy, with a bike and a bag full of preserved local vegetables. He said his biggest customer is Zeitgeist bar. They use his pickled green beans in their award-winning bloody mary's. Here's a picture of Brad that I snapped as he made the delivery:
I commented on this "first time" experience of receiving pickles at my door, and he said "Yes, sometimes I feel like a drug dealer." I selected the $12 green beans. It's a generous helping, but pricey. I added them to a special black bean quinoa salad for a picnic last weekend. It turned out amazing! Thanks, Brad! This man has some serious pickle pride. -Erin

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Strawberry Picking Season

Sunday in San Francisco today promised debauchery, creative costumes and portable beer kegs as part of Bay To Breakers festivities. But we decided to get away from it all and have a relaxing day in Dixon, CA at Eatwell Farm's Strawberry pick.

We get our farm box from Eatwell, so it was nice to see where our produce comes from and pick fresh strawberries from the fields.

Juicy Strawberries :) Eatwell Farm U-Pick, originally uploaded by bingolio.

Strawberries by the pound - Eatwell Farm U-Pick, originally uploaded by bingolio.
A great relaxing day on the farm - and we avoided the craziness that was B2B 2010 ;) Erin and Ken