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Archive for April, 2009

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and in just two days I will be done with undergraduate classes for all eternity. Once I ace all six of my final exams (fingers crossed), I will officially cross the line from student to full-blown adult. So, what does my future hold? I was offered the best internship in Knoxville on Monday (at least in my personal opinion). I will work at the Market Square Farmer’s Market in Knoxville, Tennesse. The position is perfect because not only do I get to interact with local growers and artisans, but I get to use my journalism skills to promote the market’s weekly ongoings and special events. I feel honored to be a part of something important. And the best part… I can incorporate my love for slow food through my internship., and I’ve been given great freedom to be creative. I’ve love for some of you all to share your thoughts and ideas about what you’d like to see at your local farmer’s market. I’ve already decided to have a recipes of the week display. It would spotlight a fruit or vegetable in season at that time in both a simple and more complicated dish. As you can see… I want to make the most of this internship. I’m just so happy I feel my heart my explode. Over the next two weeks, I’ll be saying goodbye to some wonderful friends who are moving across the country. I’ll no longer be part of the microcosm I’ve called home for five years.  I will no longer rely on my parents for financial support. I will no longer learn from books, I will learn by experience. But, I am not scared of what my future holds. I know that everything happens for a reason, and I cannot see what my life journey will bring. All I can wish for is peace, passion, and fulfillment.

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Mediterranean and Smoky Provolone Pizza by Elise Baskett

Mediterranean and Smoky Provolone Pizza by Elise Baskett

As much as I love hanging out with my boyfriend and his posse of gentleman, sometimes it’s nice to be away from the fart jokes, dirty kitchens, and testosterone-fueled behavior. A few of my closest friends and I decided the prescription for our need for an estrogen-only environment was to have a girl’s night.  Of course, I was in charge of all things culinary. I really wanted to include the staples of a girls night: full-of-fat, sugary, crunchy and straight-to-your-thighs types of food. I recruited the freshman gals to bring tortilla chips and salsa. My sister and I planned pizza for the entree. Pizza at our house isn’t your typical dial your favorite pizza place and have piping hot, greasy pizza in less than an hour. No, we turn pizza into an art.  The mantras of Pettigrew pizza include: homemade crust, homemade tomato sauce, and locally-produced cheese. We base our pizza creations around the seasonal ingredients we find at the Three Rivers Market. Here are the recipes we came up for girl’s night.

Mediterranean Pizza

  • Crust was made from Tyler Florence’s Basic Pizza Dough Recipe (look at the bottom of the page)
  • 3/4 cup of sundried tomato vegan pesto
  • 4 artichoke hearts, deconstructed 
  • 4 sundried tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 package of feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Fresh basil
  • Directions: Follow Tyler Florence’s recipe for basic pizza dough. Once pizza dough rolled out and ready for jazzing up, add the pesto as your base. Sprinkle on the sundried tomatoes and artichokes. Then, sprinkle feta and parmesan cheese. Brush crust with olive oil to yield a crispy, browned crust. Bake at 400 degrees for approximately 10-15 minutes. Pizza should be bubbly and slightly browned when ready. Tear basil leaves and sprinkle on pizza before serving.
  • Ideas: Try adding freshly sliced tomatoes, olives, or squash 

Smokey Provolone Pizza

  • Pizza crust from Tyler Florence’s basic pizza dough recipe
  • 2 Tbsp. of olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1, 28 can of whole, peeled tomatoes in basil juice, drained
  • 1 Tbsp. of tomato paste and more if needed
  • 4 oz. of smokey provolone cheese, thinly sliced (it’s important to buy smokey provolone it really makes the dish)
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
  • Fresh Basil
  • Directions: Follow Tyler Florence’s recipe for a basic pizza crust. While crust is rising, saute garlic in 1 Tbsp. of olive oil over medium heat in a small saucepan. Add drained tomatoes and tomato paste. Bring to a slow boil and then reduce heat. The sauce should slowly simmer and thicken as time progresses. Add more tomato paste if sauce isn’t thickening. Once dough and sauce are ready, roll out dough and place sauce on the crust. Cover with the cheese. Brush olive oil on the crust to yield a golden brown, cripsy crust. Bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes.  The pizza should be bubbly and brown when ready. Add basil to the pizza while cooling.

 

The icing on our girl’s night was my friend Amy’s creative rainbow cupcakes. It takes a plain white cupcake and transforms it into a baked-good masterpiece. The vibrant colors were layered and topped with creamy, sweet icing. Amy said she simply divided the batter into seperate bowls, added food coloring, mixed, and layered the different colors in the cupcake tin.

TRainbow Cupcakes by Amy Morgan

Rainbow Cupcakes by Amy Morgan

 

In addition to the pounds of food we consumed, we played over 60 rounds of apples to apples. If you’ve never played this addicting vocabulary game, you must. It’s a good way to figure out your friends true colors. If you have any ideas for my next girls night, please share.

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Morel

Originally uploaded by nature55

I love my grocery store if you haven’t noticed. But, today I realized why shopping at a community cooperative really can’t compare to the traditional supermarker. The produce section had fresh, local Morel mushrooms. This type of mushroom is highly valued and even has a small cult following of avid seasonal hunters. The reason a morel is highly valued is because they have a small harvesting season (generally the spring), they are difficult to spot because their color blends in with the foilage, and it is challenging to find a spot where they grow. Fortunately, once a hunter finds a bed of mushroom treasures (generally moist, decaying areas) they can generally return to the hot spot year after year and be rewarded with prized morels. 

Although I have never been morel hunting, I’ve enjoyed the fruitful labor of diligent hunters several times. But, I must admit this is my first non-dried morel mushroom purchase. I am going to eat the mushrooms tomorrow, and I have been trying to decide how to make them the most luscious mushrooms I’ve ever eaten. I’m going to write a few options, and pray that someone points me in the right direction.

  • Pan-fried in butter and coated in herbed saltines
  • Sauteed with butter, shallot, garlic, parsley, and oregano
  • Seasoned, sauteed, and served over local beef tenderloin

I can’t wait to share my choice with you tomorrow. And for all you morel lovers, happy hunting!

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I went home over Easter weekend for a much needed rejuvenation- no school, no traffic, no social obligations…just peaceful bliss. My break was filled with togetherness in the kitchen, games of Rummicube, and vintage shopping. I gained a lot over the break- new clothes, 5 pounds, and a beautiful puppy. Here are some highlights from my wee holiday.

 

Thursday night: Arrived in Jackson, TN and met my mom at the best restaurant in town- SAKURA. I got my traditional seaweed and cucumber salad paired with a mermaid salad. The mermaid salad features sliced raw yellowtail tuna, white fish, roe, cucumber, and avocado with a spicy mayo kick. Since I’m not a huge fan of rice, but love raw fish, this dish is an all-time favorite.

Friday

Breakfast- I am now addicted to Kroger’s Naturally Preferred Golden Flax High Fiber Cereal. Not only did I eat 2 servings for breakfast, I ate 2 more after my bland, unfilling portabello sandwich lunch.  

Dinner:  Ladies and gentlemen, asparagus has arrived at my local grocery store, and I plan to take full advantage of it’s nutty-deliciousness as much as possible in the next few weeks. I haven’t eaten asparagus in months, but after reading Barbara Kingslover’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle I began to salivate at the mere thought of this phallic-looking green stalk. Luckily, Kingslover shares my asparagus enthusiasm and included a recipe for and Asparagus and Morel Bread Pudding.  The recipe featured bread crumbs soaked in green onion-flavored milk, mushrooms sauteed in butter, blanched asparagus, and seasoned with parsley and oregano. We halved the recipe making one bread pudding by the book, and another half using sweet potato for my sister.  As the smell of Italian bread and oregano wafted under our nostrils, it was all we could do to wait for the pudding to become a bubbling, crispy masterpiece. It was delicious, and it was even better the second time around.

Saturday

Breakfast: Polished off the remainder of the crack-cereal with my mom

Dinner: Made Epicurious’s Fresh Tuna Tacos. The taco seasoning-marinated tuna combined with a red onion, chipotle pepper, sour cream, lime and cilantro salsa was perfect after I added homemade guacamole. The zesty sauce really packed heat,  so the cool guacamole seasoned with cumin and the remaining taco seasoning really rounded out the dish. We completed the meal with black beans and Spanish rice. It was hearty and satisfying on the surprisingly cold April evening.

And on Saturday, the newest Pettigrew joined our family. Here is our hairy little Australian-Shepherd son who enjoys chewing on pens and yogurt containers, refuses to jump off couches or walk down stairs, and is slowly learning to answer to the name Gulliver.

Gulliver Pettigrew at 4 months by Lisa Adkins

Gulliver Pettigrew at 4 months by Lisa Adkins

 

The Happy Pettigrew Family by Lisa Adkins

The Happy Pettigrew Family by Lisa Adkins

Sunday: I generally agonize over menu planning. For days (sometimes weeks) on end I strive to put together the perfect menu. For Easter, I focused on making something special for my meat-loving sister who temporarily delved into pescatarianism over the Lenten period.  Bacon and beef tenderloin were the stars in our entree and side, and it may have been the most successful menu I’ve planned to date.

Entree: Pioneer Woman’s Roasted Beef Tenderloin a.k.a Heaven on a Fork. My grandmother decided this was the best meat dish she has ever had in her 70+ years of life. The reason is butter, butter, and olive oil. The beautiful piece of local beef tenderloin was seasoned with freshly crushed peppercorns, Lawry’s seasoning, coarse sea salt, and lemon pepper. It melted in my mouth. This is why I could never be vegetarian.

 

Butter basted heaven on a fork photo by Carey Ellen Pettigrew

Butter basted heaven on a fork photo by Carey Ellen Pettigrew

Side item: In addition to meat, my sister has an unhealthy addiction to sweet potatoes. She sneers at the sugar-coated sweet potatoes and favors the savory version. Essentially Healthy Food’s Sweet Potato Linguine with a Bacon, Tomato & Artichoke Sauce featured the sweet potato just how she likes it. With a bacon-grease base not much can go wrong, but when you add sundried tomatoes, olives, artichokes, capers, red onion, garlic, parsley, and oregano you achieve anti-sweet sweet potatoes. No flavor was overpowering. The perfect balance was hearty, rustic, semi-healthy, easy to prepare, and restaurant-worthy. I’m just saying, it’s a keeper.

Sweet Potato Linguine with a Bacon, Tomato & Artichoke Sauce photo by Carey Ellen Pettigrew

Sweet Potato Linguine with a Bacon, Tomato & Artichoke Sauce photo by Carey Ellen Pettigrew

Dessert: As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve fallen in love with the taste of blood oranges. I finally made Smitten Kitchen’s Flaky Blood Orange Tart with Deep, Dark, Salted Caramel Butter Sauce. Although mine didn’t look as elegant and refined as hers, it was superb. The grape-scented blood oranges were juicy, and the bitterness was cut with a sprinkle of sugar. The stick-o-butter tart was slightly sweet and reminiscent of a shortcake. The caramel sauce was a rich brown, and the taste had a hint of chocolate. Overall, it was a great dessert. I’ve already planned to use the tart base to pair with summer berries and homemade cinnamon whipped cream.

 

Blood Orange Tart with Deep Dark Salted Caramel photo by Carey Ellen Pettigrew

Blood Orange Tart with Deep Dark Salted Caramel photo by Carey Ellen Pettigrew

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Fresly Picked Blueberries by Kirpernicius

Fresly Picked Blueberries by Kirpernicius

 

 

I’m aspiring to eat local. Although the task sounds daunting, I’ve realized over the past few months that Knoxville is a great hub for locally grown food products. I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorites and some that I look forward to incorporating into my meal plans. 

 

Benton’s Smoky Mountain Country Hams
Bacon
Prosciutto

Green Man Farm

Vegetables: arugula, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, Chinese greens, collards, cucumber, daikon, edamame, eggplant, garlic, green beans, green onions, hot peppers, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard greens, okra, onions, potatoes, pumpkins, radishes, rutabagas, salad greens, salad mix, shallots, spinach, summer squash, sweet peppers, swiss chard, tomatoes, winter squash, zucchini

Fruits: blackberries, cantaloupes, melons, rhubarb, strawberries

Meat: goat, lamb, pork

Grains: buckwheat, rye, wheat

Herbs: everything

Processed: bread, pasta, pickles

Dairy: cheese

Cruze Dairy Farm

Buttermilk, 2% milk, chocolate milk, whole milk

Sweetwater Valley Farm

Cheese: Tennessee-aged, Mountain White, Volunteer Jack, Smoked White, Colby, Buttermilk, Tomato Herb, Garden Blend, Pimiento, Jalapeno, Italian Pesto, Marble, Adobo, Roasted Garlic Pepper

Tellico Grains

Bread: sourdough, wheat, and other varieties

Tea Bread: banana walnut, cranberry orange, pumpkin pecan

Muffins: blueberry, cranberry orange, butter rum

Brownies: chocolate, cheesecake, walnut

Cookies: coconut, chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, peanut butter

Coffee Cake:  spiked apple danish, raspberry almond danish, butter rum, chocolate-coconut danish

Locust Grove Farm

Cheese: Galloway, Appalachian Spring, La Mancha, Cumberland

Dry Aged Lamb

Tomato Head

Pesto: traditional and vegan sundried tomato

Tahini

Hummus

Tennessee Valley Eggs

Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese

Cheese: asiago, asiago-peppercorn, brie, herb-bree, barren county bleu, aged cheddar, horseradish cheddar, mild cheddar, tomato basil cheddar, colby, swiss, havarti, etc.

Farmsoy Tofu

Green Mountain Gringo

Salsa

Corn Chips

Highland Brewing Company

Gaelic Ale, Oatmeal Porter, St. Terese’s Pale Ale, Kashmir IPA, Black Mocha Stout, and Special Seasonal Varieties 

Everything Mushroom

Dried: shitake, chanterelle, lobster, maitake, matsutake, morel, paddy straw, porcini

Kombucha Starter Kit

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Burger Kings Veggie Burger by smwarnke4

Burger King's Veggie Burger by smwarnke4

 

 

In order for consumer diet trends to spark change in corporate America, it has to be an extremely popular idea that’s initial buzz propels through time. Think of this in terms of the South Beach or Atkins Diet. Although these diets were drafted years before they gained popularity, special food products or restaurant menus didn’t show their support until our nation became carbohydrate-phobics, forcing these organizations to revamp their products and direct their marketing to the bandwagon dieters.  It seems that corporations are ready to except that vegetarians are here to stay and unless you offer a healthy meat-free option, they (all 10% of the population) are unlikely to visit your restaurant. Although many local and national chains offer veggie-filled courses, fast-food joints (especially in Tennessee) don’t have much for vegetarians to choose from beyond side items or hold-the-meat salads. 

Burger King’s partnership with Morningstar Farm now allows them to sell the oh-so-popular veggie burger and black bean burger. Even though both Burger King and McDonald’s attempted veggie burgers in select locations in the past…from what I’ve read their blandness didn’t exactly win over vegetarians who (to contrary opinion) actually eat food that tastes, smells, and looks delicious. Burger King is finally upholding their promise that customers can “Have it their way.” Some of us just like it with fiber and nutrient rich veggies that aren’t laced with growth hormones or non-sustainable, non-organic options.

 

So, bravo to Burger King. No longer will little vegetarian children everywhere have to refrain from attending popular fast food birthday parties because they can’t eat anything. And finally, long-distance travelers aren’t limited to boring Wendy’s potatoes, fat-laced  McDonald’s salads, or Subway sandwiches.  Although I haven’t tried the burger out because I’m not big on Burger King (bad experience with a Whopper swimming in mayo), I plan on giving the veggie burger a try the next time I’m traveling long-distance and won’t have time to pack a lunch.

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Bananas in Costa Rica by RainyDays3

Bananas in Costa Rica by RainyDays3

 

Bananas are as popular in American kitchens as apples, grapes, or oranges. These oddly-shaped yellow herbacious plan origened fruits are common in kitchens, and we rarely think twice about eating them. I love bananas for their versatility in cooking–banana bread, banana smoothies, banana oatmeal, fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches, banana splits, bananas foster, and my recent favorite banana salsa atop seared tuna. Clearly, our nation has found endless ways to include this potassium-rich food into both sweet and savory dishes in our diet. In fact, we are the largest consumer of exported bananas, consuming more than 3.7 million tons a year, averaging out to 75 bananas eaten per individual every year. But is our Chiquita-crazy nation fully aware of the implications of our extreme banana intake?

 

I recently finished reading Barbara Kingslover’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Kingslover’s writing is witty, inspiring, and educational. Many of my future blog posts will probably be inspired by Kingslover’s teachings. In one of the chapters, she addresses that her family practices banana abstinence. My curiosity peeked…why in the world would you give up such a wonderful fruit? The answer is simple because they travel thousands of miles to reach our kitchen.

Where do organic bananas come from ?

  • Dole Organic- Honduras, Costa Rica, Columbia, Dominican Republic, Peru, Ecuador
  • Chiquita- Costa Rica, Columbia, Honduras, Jamaica
  • Del Monte- Costa Rica, Guatemala
  • Fair Trade- Ecuador
  • Just to note: Dole, Del Monte, and Chiquita control 65% of world banana exports from Central America and the Caribbean Islands. It is also virtually impossible to find out where Chiquita and Del Monte bananas come from because they don’t list this information on their site. The Dole Organic bananas do and so does the fair trade banana site.

Bananas’ tropical origins make it an exotic food item.  In grocery stores, exotic food items are generally expensive (kalamata olives, mangos, olive oil, truffles, high cacoa chocolate, European cheeses), and these products are generally limited to more populous cities.  Bananas travel just as far to reach every single supermarket, gas station, and cafeteria in the good ole’ USA, yet they cost less than a dollar per pound.  Looking at the history of bananas will explain this paradox. 

Before 1880, bananas were unheard of in America. But, American-entrepreneur Minor C. Keith began working with the Costa Rican government to construct a transnational railroad to travel alongside the huge banana fields of his dreams and gather the fruit to be exported to the United States.  Keith’s business plan was accepted in Costa Rica, and he quickly convinced Honduras and Guatemala to join on board. He held nearly 85,000 hectars (212,500acres) of land to grow bananas. He merged his idea with the United Fruit company, and a monopoly that would control the industry until 1950 began. Bananas rapidly gained popularity, and by 1910 banana peels littered streets across America. After 1950, the monopoly was broken, and the big three (Dole, Chiquita- formerly United Fruit and Del Monte) have dominated the industry ever since.  The banana industry in Central America and the Caribbean are controlled by the United States. That is why we can afford to pay such a small amount for these exotic fruits. But at what economic, social and environmental consequences to the banana-producing countries?

 

Banana Plantation in workers in Colima, Mexico by Niclas Skold

Banana Plantation in workers in Colima, Mexico by Niclas Skold

 

 

Social, Economic, and Environmental Issues

  • Workers are exposed to harmful chemicals that have carcinogenic properties causing high rates of cervical cancer, testicular cancer, and leukemia in non-organic banana farms 
  • The pesticides used to grow on non-organic banana crops permeate the drainage ditches and rivers. At least 25% of pesticides sprayed on bananas miss their mark and land in farms, ponds, or streams. 
  • 90% of Costa Rica’s reefs have been killed by pesticides used to grow non-organic bananas. 
  • In Costa Rica, the banana industry is one of the largest job industries in the nation. However, the government allows companies to hire workers for no more than 3 months, meaning at least 70%  or workers don’t receive health, social security, and vacation benefits. With decreased job security comes the higher rates of alcoholism, sexual abuse, drug abuse, and prostitution in poor banana communities.
  • Costa Rican produced bananas generate 550-700 million dollars when exported to the United States. The corporations keep almost all of this money, generating nearly no money for the countries who grow them.
  • Bananas crops require Costa Rican marshlands to be drained, removing tropical plants and wildlife, etc. This depletes the land of nutrients to form a “homogenous chemical landscape.” 18 tree species are now extinct.
  • Increased rates of deforastation in Central America and the Carribbean because of the increased demand for bananas worldwide.

These are just a few problems that plague the banana industry. Although there are serveral lawsuits  prevent further problems in banana-producing countries, the damage to the people and the environment has been done, and many of the consequences are irreversible. After reading Kingslover’s book and researching the topic, I’ve decided to stop eating bananas, especially the non-organic, non-free trade variety.  I realize this action is extreme, but I cannot justify eating a fruit that has a controversial history and uncertain future. I know this isn’t for everyone, so I want to include some tips on how to make small changes that can really make a difference.

Be a Better Banana Consumer

  • Rather than eating a banana everyday, try cutting down to one or two a week. 
  • Always buy organic bananas that aren’t grown using harmful chemicals. Although United States laws prevent some exposure to pesticides, the less-developed bananan producing countries do not.
  • Buying free trade bananas is better than buying organic because the workers have rights, and they receive their rightful profit from the banana plantations.
  • Try new fruits such as plums, pears, persimmons, blood oranges, and berries that are grown in the United States. You may not even miss bananas
  • And remember, it’s ok to eat bananas., but it is important to know where they come from and make the decision for yourself.

 

Resources

http://members.tripod.com/foro_emaus/BanPlantsCA.htm

http://jrscience.wcp.muohio.edu/fieldcourses04/PapersCostaRicaArticles/GoingBananas.thebananaind.html

There are also numerous videos, books, online journals, and ethnographies that address the social issues of bananas.  If you have an interest in these, let me know. I’ll be glad to send you some links.

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