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Archive for November, 2009

pumpkin maple Grand Marnier ice cream


I hope you haven’t lost trust in me when it comes to ice cream. Maybe I deserve it. Was it the sweet corn ice cream? Or the vegan chocolate chip, beet ice cream? I guess I don’t blame you, but you absolutely must give me one more chance because this pumpkin, maple, Grand Marnier ice cream is a winner. I’m not kidding, I can hardly keep the freezer door shut long enough to let it totally set up. I keep tasting it to make sure I’m not dreaming. Or delusional.

Okay, it’s not perfect, but it’s pretty dang close. Let me go taste it one more time and I’ll let you know for sure.

Yep, it’s a 9.5. If it was a little creamier, I’d give it a 10. The pumpkin purée is a touch grainy. Just a touch – like a nano-touch, so keep reading.

I’ve been receiving pumpkins in my Grant Farms CSA box on a weekly basis lately. Sweet, yummy, organic, sugar pumpkins. I’ve made soup, muffins, custard, pancakes and even cookies out of pumpkins. But never ice cream. Until today, and I’m happy to say I’ve found a new favorite dessert. I’m serving it tomorrow. After a day of skiing and a dinner of traditional New Mexico stacked, red chile enchiladas. With an organic poached egg on top. I’m shaking things up a bit this Thanksgiving.

pumpkin, maple, Grand Marnier ice cream
what you need
ice cream maker
1 and 3/4th cup half and half, well chilled
1 cup pumpkin purée, unsweetened and unspiced
3/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup, preferably grade B (here’s why)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
* optional: 1 – 2 teaspoons Grand Marnier
I used 1 teaspoon because I was afraid it would be too strong, but I think I’ll try 2 next time. The Grand Marnier idea came from David Lebovitz’s adaptation of Karen DeMasco and Mindy Fox’s pumpkin ice cream recipe.

what you do
Place all ingredients in a mixing bowl and blend on medium-low speed until well combined, about 2 minutes. Turn on ice cream maker, pour ingredients into freezer bowl per manufacturer’s directions and let mix for about 30 minutes until thickened. Transfer to a storage container and freeze.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
P.S. I just tasted it again, it’s not grainy. Trust me.

Pass (on) the popcorn


I had several ideas for this week’s post, but I decided to put them off in favor of sharing a big tub of butter-flavored popcorn with you. There’s no way we can sit through a WHOLE movie without downing 2,000 or 3,000 calories in the process. We might starve. Add in the coming attractions and those annoying commercials and that comes to 2 or 3 hours. We can’t make it that long without adequate food and drink. Can we?

Popcorn. We’ll have some popcorn because that’s a healthy treat, right?

Wait, let me back up and set the stage. First some statistics and credits.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the past 20 years has seen a dramatic rise in obesity rates in the United States. In 2008, only Colorado (not that 18.5% is all that great) had a less than 20% obesity prevalence. Thirty-two states had a prevalence equal to or greater than 25%, six of which were equal to or greater than 30%. Check the map at the end of this post to see where your state fits into the mix.

Now the credits. The movie food nutrition data used in this post came directly from the December issue of the Nutrition Action Health Letter, which is the voice of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Okay, back to the movie and the food that will sustain us while we sit on our bums for a couple of hours. Let’s watch Julie & Julia, at least Julia used real butter, rather than butter-like flavoring.

I’ll use the data on Regal Entertainment Group provided by CSPI. Regal is the largest theater chain in the US. If you’ve gone to any movies lately you know the kid behind the counter always encourages you to buy the large serving. That way if the 20-cup tub of popcorn doesn’t last through the coming attractions, you can go back for more (shudder). Here are the heart-stopping (literally) details.

Regal Theaters Popcorn
1 large tub with 2 tablespoons of “buttery” topping

1,460 calories
64 grams of saturated fat
980 mg of sodium
This is if the person adding the “buttery” topping stops at 2 tablespoons, which I doubt happens. You can also “up” the sodium content if you re-salt it yourself on the way to your seat (I don’t eat movie popcorn, but I will admit to having a heavy hand with the salt shaker).

Regal Theaters Soda Pop (hey, we need something to wash down all that salty, buttery popcorn)
1 large drink
54 fluid ounces
500 calories
33 teaspoons of sugar

Reese’s Pieces, 8 ounces (we must have candy – this is treat night)
1,160 calories
35 grams of saturated fat
31 teaspoons sugar

Okay, lets figure out what we’ve had while sitting on our bums in a dark theater for 2 hours.

Total calories: 3,120 (WHOA, it’s not like we’re riding in the Tour de France)
Total grams of saturated fat: 99 (5 day’s worth)
Total mg of sodium: 980 (those of us who re-salted can add another 400 mg)
Total teaspoons of sugar: 64 (now, what are empty calories again)

Let’s say the average person needs 2,000 calories a day. The daily values appropriate for that caloric intake are:
20 grams of saturated fat
2400 mg of sodium
refined sugar – yikes, we don’t need refined sugar (imagine what a bowl of 64 teaspoons of sugar looks like)

This is a small example of why obesity rates and the associated health problems are on the rise in this country. Skip the movie food and bring a bottle of water and some healthy snacks into the theater. Yeah, I know, the movie police might get you. Better than having a heart attack while watching Men Who Stare at Goats.


Anne’s butternut leek ginger soup


Before I launch into today’s recipe, I’d like to share a little esoteric trivia with you. Esoteric in a world-wide sense, as our enlightened inner circle contains a bazillion people. But in order to understand the following, you must have a linguistic understanding of what www means and that’s a big outer-inner (out-there) circle.

Stick with me, there’s some logic to this intro, however convoluted it might be.

Today has great significance in the posting of this recipe. On November 12th, 1990, English physicist Tim Berners-Lee and Belgian computer scientist Robert Cailliau drafted a proposal entitled “WorldWideWeb: Proposal for a HyperText Project.” That’s what guys who work at CERN, the world’s largest particle physics lab, do in their spare time.

You know, when they’re not messing around with particle accelerators or smashing atoms.

Little did they know that their project and the alliterative fusion of three simple words would have such a profound impact on the future of information technology and the way we communicate. And on food. Although few of us understand what’s really going on in cyber-space, www has become a household “word” and making friends with people in far-off places is as easy as commenting on a blog.

Which brings me to the point of this post – Anne’s butternut, leek and ginger soup. The recipe originally came from Mitchell Beazley’s book, The Simple Art of Marrying Food & Wine. Anne, whom I met ages ago at Miles Collins’ blog, left her version of the soup in the comment section of my Dia de los Muertos post. I doubt that Tim and Robert had friendships, food writing and recipe exchanges in mind when they wrote their proposal for the HyperText Project and dubbed the nebulous world of mark-up language and stored information the WorldWideWeb. But that’s how things have unfolded in my little corner of culinary cyber-space (alliterations aside).

WWW has turned into FFF. WorldWideWeb. FoodFriendshipFun. I love it!

Okay, I’ve indulged myself in some off-kilter rambling, now on to food. This week’s CSA box contained butternut squash, onions, leeks and an assortment of other fall veggies and fruit. As luck would have it, those were the ingredients in Anne’s version of Mitchell’s version of butternut squash soup. Thanks for the inspiration, Anne. Here’s my version.

Butternut squash leek onion ginger curry coconut soup
what you need

1-2 butternut squashes (I ended up with about 4 cups of peeled and cubed squash) *
4 cups vegetable broth (or chicken)
1 cup water
2/3 cup light coconut milk
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 apple, washed, peeled, cored and chopped
2 leeks, trimmed and chopped
2-3 tablespoons butter
1-2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger (I like things gingery, use less if you please)
2 teaspoons curry powder *
roasted pumpkin seeds

what you do
Melt butter in a medium soup pot. Add onions and leeks and sauté until lightly browned. Add broth, water, apple, squash and ginger and simmer until squash is tender (30 minutes or so). Remove from heat and let cool for 15-20 minutes. Carefully puree soup in a food processor, in batches, and transfer back into the soup pot. Add curry seasoning and coconut milk, stir well and reheat. Top with a few roasted pumpkin seeds, even though I forgot to do it before taking the picture.

* Check with Amy at SS & GF for detailed instructions on how to peel and chop butternut squash.

* My Madras-style curry mix contains turmeric, cayenne pepper, coriander, cumin, fenugreek, white pepper, cinnamon, fennel, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves and Tellicherry black pepper.


The sisterhood of the traveling soup bowls would like to thank Tim and Robert for setting into motion the worldwideweb. We also appreciate the random brother with a bowl. Go forth and make soup!

can I offer you a cocktail


I had a plan for today’s blog post – Anne’s butternut squash, leek and ginger soup. But by 5:30 AM this morning, I was already off-task, side-tracked and on to something different.

Yes, I’m a touch ADD-ish, I will admit. Maybe a touch more than a touch if I really think about it. Thank goodness for my omegas or that constant stream of ideas and visual images ricocheting around in my head would resemble a cognitive tilt-a-whirl ride. I’m not complaining though, as I’m rarely ever bored.

I promise, this evening I’ll make the soup and work on my intended post because as luck would have it, after Anne so graciously left the recipe in the comment section of my Dia de los Muertos post, I received almost all the ingredients in last night’s CSA pickup box. And it sounds so good. But for now, I’d like to offer you a pre-dawn cocktail.

Imagine this – it’s 5 AM and I’ve been up for over an hour. I’m wearing plaid flannel jammie bottoms with little skiers on them, a Marmot black fleece turtleneck and Ugg boots. Hair uncombed and pulled back in a ponytail. Brown geeky reading glasses with lime-green trim.


Okay, so what should I have for breakfast? Something light as I’m going to yoga soon, but something substantial enough to get me through yoga and a meeting shortly afterwards. A nutritious, yet mellow smoothie.

Napa cabbage and beet drippings smoothie (hey, don’t pre-judge)
1 ripe banana
1 small apple, cored and chopped into blender chunks
4 big Napa cabbage leaves, washed and chopped
1/2 cup vanilla goat yogurt
1 celery stalk, washed and chopped
10 ounces or so of beet drippings *
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
4-5 walnuts

Place all ingredients in the blender and blitz well. Serve in beautiful wine glasses and enjoy your morning. Serves two, three – or maybe just one.

* I like to roast beets (which I did last night) in the oven in a shallow baking dish with some water. Once the beets are roasted, I let the water cool, pour it in a jar (using a funnel) and store it in the refrigerator to add to smoothies. It works great as some of the beet juice filters into the water and you end up with this delightful and nutritious power liquid. For detailed information about roasting beets (and a wonderful salad recipe), please check here.

Go forth and have a power cocktail for breakfast. Seriously, this was SO good and no one would ever guess it was made with beet juice and cabbage leaves.

How virus cooties invade the body (H1N1)

Last spring I did a post on how to boost your immune system to fight the swine flu. That was before U.S. public health officials stepped in to market the flu under less pork-slandering terminology. Worried that the name swine flu would harm pork sales, trade industry officials and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack switched to the more clinical and euphemistically appropriate term – H1N1.

H1N1 sounds so ambiguous, so detached. I suppose that was the whole idea – the branding plan behind the name switch. Swine flu just plain sounds icky. Hmmm, but on the other hand, the name avian flu doesn’t make you want to quit eating chicken, does it? I wonder if the administration and the pork guys considered calling this strain the artiodactyl flu. I kind of like that. Pigs are in the artiodactyl family, in case you didn’t know.

And no, you can’t get the swine flu from eating pork.

A science friend of mine sent me this video, knowing full well how much I love geeky stuff like virus instruction coding. Please watch this short video. It’s informative, amazing, humorous and easy to understand. Then read my tips for boosting your immune system so you keep the funky swine/H1N1/artiodactyl cells in check (along with all the other cooties we encounter on a daily basis).

Eewww, it’s a dirty world out there. Help your body protect you from it.

Immune boosters

• High-quality, uninterrupted sleep (I know, I know – this is a tough one)
• Exercise, including yoga
• Eat lots of antioxidant-rich foods (vitamin C: citrus fruits, peppers, broccoli, green leafy veggies, berries, tomatoes; vitamin A: sweet potatoes, squash, broccoli, carrots, kale, collard greens, apricots, cantalope, peaches; vitamin E: nuts, seeds, GF whole grains, extra virgin olive oil, green leafy veggies; selenium: pastured eggs, chicken, garlic, 100% grass fed beef or bison, GF whole grains, fish)
• Fresh, whole foods – any brightly colored veggies and fruits as they are full of immune boosting phytochemicals (good plant chemicals)
• Green tea, ginger root tea
• Mushrooms, garlic, pineapple, coconut (other good stuff)

Immune zappers

• Poor quality sleep (restful sleep is SO important for a strong immune system)
• Couch potato lifestyle
• Consuming junk food, fast food, processed food, sugar, caffeine, trans-fats
• Soda pop and sugary drinks (no, no, no)
• Too much alcohol

I’m going to skip the vaccine, wash my hands frequently, eat healthy foods, practice yoga, sleep 8 hours a night, think good thoughts (most of the time, anyway) and knock on wood.

Go forth, boost your immune system and avoid the artiodactyl flu.

Disclaimer: All material on this website is provided for informational and educational use only and should not be used for diagnostic purposes. Consult with your physician regarding any health or medical concerns you may have.
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