Gifts from Bend, OR

Live in Bend, Oregon and want to give a gift from Bend, Oregon? Follow my local gift giving series!

Green your coffee routine

Save 23 lbs of waste this year and start using a reusable coffee cup to keep you caffeinated.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Meatless Monday: Greek Salad sandwich

image courtesy of Everyday Food
A working mom needs shorts cuts especially when it comes to making dinner. Since we don't buy a lot of process foods we have to rely on fresh items for quick dinners. I was inspired by my old standby, Everyday Food, to take sandwiches up a notch.

Yes, sandwiches aren't only for lunch in our house -- we have them for dinner. At least once a week, we have sandwiches .. turkey, peanut butter and jelly, peanut butter and banana, grilled cheese.

Everyday Food featured a Greek Salad Sandwich which I modified slightly.

Instead of mixing the chickpeas, lemon juice, olive oil and parsley, I usually will buy hummus from Trader Joe's. I'm quite fond of their white bean hummus and use that as mayo (because I HATE HATE HATE mayo). Instead of red onions, I have been known to add roasted red peppers and spinach. Really, you can use any veggies you have in the refrigerator.

Greek Salad Sandwich
adapted from Everyday Food

1 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained (or store bought hummus and skip the first four ingredients)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
Coarse salt and ground pepper
3 ounces crumbled feta
Spinach leaves
8 slices rustic bread or olive bread
1/2 medium cucumber, thinly sliced
1 tomato, thinly sliced

In a food processor, pulse chickpeas, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and parsley until finely chopped. In a small bowl, stir together onion, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and 2 teaspoons olive oil and season with salt and pepper. In another small bowl, mash feta with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Spread chickpea mixture on 4 slices bread. Top with cucumber, tomato, and onion mixture; season with salt and pepper. Spread feta mixture on 4 more bread slices and place on top of sandwiches.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Local dairy, pork and honey


Looks like the milkman delivered to my house ... well, I went and picked it up. That's 2% milk, half and half, butter, honey and pork from Agricultural Connections.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Meatless Monday: Tuscan bread and tomato salad (aka Panzanella)

Nothing says spring/summer better than salads for dinner. For this one you'll need leftover bread, tomatoes, basil and balsamic dressing.

I don't made panzanella often but when I do, I wish that I would make it more. This salad is hearty but I still added a few cubes of mozzarella to give it a bit more protein.

I left mine set at room temperature and the oils and vinegar marinate perfectly.

Tuscan bread and tomato salad (aka Panzanella)
adapted from Sunset

7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 12-inch length of baguette
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
8 very ripe assorted tomatoes (3 lb.), large ones chopped
1 cup mozzarella cubes
1/2 cup basil leaves, torn into pieces or cut into ribbons
1. Preheat oven to 350°. In a small pan over medium heat, combine 2 tablespoons olive oil, the butter, and garlic; stir until butter melts, about 2 minutes.
2. Cut baguette into 1/2-inch cubes and put in a 10- by 15-inch baking pan. Pour oil mixture over bread and mix well. Bake until golden, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let bread cool in pan.
3. In a bowl, mix remaining olive oil, the vinegar, salt, and pepper. Stir in tomatoes, cheese and bread cubes. Serve at room temperature in shallow bowls, garnished with basil.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Green your Mother's Day

My favorite green website, Practically Green has some great tips on making mom's day eco-friendly so check out that guide if you're looking for last minute advice.

Here is what my husband and son did for me on Mother's Day:
a cute card and my son colored the heart ...
notice the heart

 A cup full of flowers ...
spring is in the air
They let me sleep in until 7:30 am! My son sang "Take me out to the ballgame" and "Twinkle twinkle little star" and brought me to tears. I wish I would have gotten some video it was that cute. He also keeps giving me hugs and kisses. My husband is making me breakfast as we speak.

Happy Mother's Day to all the wonderful mothers out there!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mother's Day strawberry pie

As a child, I loved strawberries. We had a strawberry patch in our backyard and each day when in season, my mother would send me out with a bowl to pick some to enjoy with meals. My mom would stand at the kitchen window and watch me as I would eat one and then put one in the bowl -- that was until the day I picked up a snake and screamed like a little girl, running into the house. The novelty of picking and eating strawberries in my backyard was over after that.

My mom would make a delicious strawberry pie along with fresh whipped cream with our strawberries. I have the recipe but for some reason it never sets right but I found a version online that tastes just the same. Enjoy!

Strawberry Pie

1 (9 inch) pie crust, baked (I used graham cracker crust)
1 quart fresh strawberries
1 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Arrange half of strawberries in baked pastry shell.

Mash remaining berries and combine with sugar in a medium saucepan. Place saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring frequently.
In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and water. Gradually stir cornstarch mixture into boiling strawberry mixture. Reduce heat and simmer mixture until thickened, about 10 minutes, stirring constantly. 

Pour mixture over berries in pastry shell. Chill for several hours before serving. In a small bowl, whip cream until soft peaks form. Serve each slice of pie with a dollop of whipped cream.

Happy Mother's Day to me!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Whole Foods Eco-scale

In honor of Earth Month, Whole Foods announced a new eco-scale for household cleaning products. Check it out!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Beef labelings and meanings

Image courtesy of Public Energy
Labels have always been confusing to me but since venturing into buying locally raised beef, I'm learning there is a whole set of labels I need to learn.

Here are a few:

Grass fed: generally means beef from cattle that have eaten only grass or forage throughout their lives, however some producers do call their beef grass fed but then actually finish the animals on grain for the last 90 to 160 days before slaughter. (courtesy of Grass Fed Beef 101)

Natural: A product containing no artificial ingredient or added color and is only minimally processed (a process which does not fundamentally alter the raw product) may be labeled natural. The label must explain the use of the term natural (such as - no added colorings or artificial ingredients; minimally processed.) (courtesy of USDA)

No Hormones: The term "no hormones administered" may be approved for use on the label of beef products if sufficient documentation is provided to the Agency by the producer showing no hormones have been used in raising the animals. (courtesy of USDA)

No antibotics: The terms "no antibiotics added" may be used on labels for meat or poultry products if sufficient documentation is provided by the producer to the USDA demonstrating that the animals were raised without antibiotics. (courtesy of USDA)

Grain finished: When considering the definition of grass fed beef, most beef animals have probably eaten grass at some point in their lives, but the important thing is that they're “finished”, or fattened on grass, rather than grain, for the 90 – 160 days before slaughter. During those few months of grain finishing the levels of important nutrients like CLA and Omega 3 decrease dramatically in the beef animal’s tissues. It is in the finishing process that those levels and ratios drastically decline because of the grain feeding, and that is why it’s so important to make sure that the beef you eat is not only grass fed, but grass finished. Some producers are currently stating that their beef is grass fed, but in fine print, note that it is grain finished. (courtesy of Grass Fed Beef 101)

Vegetarian fed: The cattle ate feed free of animal byproducts, including grasses, hay, silage or grain like corn and barley. (courtesy of USDA)

I hope you find this as helpful as I have!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Green Plan: Buying local beef

Part of my DD Ranch purchase
Many know how important good meat is to me. After all, I grew up in Nebraska on corn-fed beef so I'm a little bit of a beef snob but I put it on our green plan and then waited to run out of beef. We normally buy in bulk and freeze at Costco so when there was nothing more in the freezer, I ordered locally raised beef from DD Ranch through (aka Agricultural Connections).

Agricultural Connections is a one stop shop for buying locally in our community and they have a year round CSA you can purchase on a as needed basis. This summer, instead of using the place in Eugene we get our CSA from, we're going to use AC and see how we do, though I'm a little worried that we won't have the same variety but it is good to be supporting local.

DD Ranch is known throughout Central Oregon as one of the best sources for organic grass fed beef and just as delicious pork products.  DD Ranch’s location 3 miles east of Terrebonne’s town center offers spectacular views of both Smith Rock State Park and the Cascade Mountain Range. I plan on picking a date and heading out for a tour with my son when time allows.
Our first meat purchase included: 2 T-bones, 2 cube steaks, 2 beef stew, 4 packages ground beef.

For Easter we decided to grill up the T-bones along with a side of asparagus and potatoes. The steaks had a different smell to them and folks on twitter were telling me to expect that but the more and more I think about it, I think something was wrong with them. I've had grass fed beef before and they didn't have a funny smell. And when we ate them, they totally had a funny taste.

A few days later, I made some burgers from the DD Ranch Beef and they were awesome! They had the right amount of fat and all I seasoned them with was salt and pepper. Later on in the week, I made beef stew and it was amazing. I think the T-bones were a fluke so I'm not going to hold that against anyone.

I plan on ordering more beef as we need it and also looking into some pork packages. I will say, it's nice to support local.

Why buy local sustainable beef? The farmers are your neighbors so if you have questions, they can answer them for you plus you're supporting the local economy and cutting down on shipping since the farmer is close to you.

If you're looking for a local farm or CSA, try and find something near you.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Meatless Monday: Sweet Potato Burrito

Image courtesy of Serious Eats
I have to admit, I didn't grow up eating sweet potatoes so they are a little foreign to me. The writer of Lighter Portions, a blog I read pretty regularly, seems to eat them all the time so I bought a bag with the idea of using them to dress up salads, wraps and maybe enjoy mashed.

Last Sunday I roasted a few(oil, salt, pepper and roast for 45 mins at 450) and scooped out the insides for some wraps. My husband thought I was nuts and gave me "you expect me to eat this and like it" look. When have I ever let him down? NEVER.  The end result was a yummy burrito in which he ate in seconds.

Sweet potato burrito
4 small sweet potatoes (or two large), roasted, insides scooped out
can of enchilada sauce (I used Barcelona Sauces Red #5)
1 cup brown rice, steamed
1 can black beans
desired burrito fixings (avocado, sour cream, salsa, cheese, you get the point)
4 tortillas

Mix enchilada sauce with cooked brown rice. Portion out 1/4 of sweet potatoes on tortilla, add desired amount of rice and beans along with burrito fixings. Wrap and eat.


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