Monday, August 31, 2009

White House Garden 2009 Video

Several peer reviewed journal articles, including this Summer's 2009 Journal of the American Dietetic Association, have reported how children involved with gardening have enhanced fruit and vegetable consumption. Diets rich in fruits and vegetables reduce the risk of disease and obesity in children and adults.

Green thumbs up to First Lady, Michelle Obama for showing us how easy it is to improve family diets with added fresh fruits and vegetables from a backyard garden. If you haven't yet viewed the video of the White House Garden, here it is:

Thursday, August 27, 2009

In the Land of Plenty, NO one should experience HUNGER

Act Now! Collect your extra tomatoes and squash, and
Plant-a-Row for the Hungry* Fall Harvest

Plant nutritious fall crops such as:
Salad greens, Beets, Cilantro, Kale, Peas, Spinach and Chard

Deliver to a soup kitchen or food pantry nearest you
You can make a difference ~ Thanks!

*Plant-a-Row is a program sponsored by the Garden Writers Assoc.
For more information visit:
Call Toll Free (877) 492-2727

Search for a Food Pantry:
South Jersey local food agencies ready for fresh produce include:

  • The Food Bank of South Jersey is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to help eliminate hunger and malnutrition in the four counties it serves in southern New Jersey - Burlington, Camden, Gloucester and Salem.

Related Links:
USDA Economic Research Service

What's Cooking at the Academy of Culinary Arts: Summer Rolls/Lettuce Wraps


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Great tips for Watermelon

Great tips for Watermelon
Click Link to view Video: "Preparing Watermelon"

Watermelons are fairly inexpensive at the market. And as you know, the best buy in town is to grow your own. What happens after you grow or purchase watermelon? Where does it end up?

If you said, "In my stomach!" Good for you, that is where it should go, but many people, like us, may experience watermelon waste. For example, right now we have a whole sugar baby melon (for the third day) looking like a bowling ball, just sitting there wasting away on the counter top. It was too big to fit in the fridge.

Watermelons can have a way of ending up in large hunks, clear wrapped in the refrigerator for days, or whole, pushed into a corner on the counter top, while family members pass it by to nibble on other snacks. The video "Preparing Watermelon" (link above) perfectly sums up how to prevent the watermelon waste syndrome. Michael Marks (the produce man in the video) also demonstrates good knife skills, along with a good method for quickly slicing watermelon. The technique shown works well for cutting other melons too, such as cantaloupe and honeydew.

To be sure to get the healthy benefits of your fresh fruit, cut your watermelon into bite size portions as soon as it arrives in the kitchen. This will guarantee you and your family an immediate and healthful treat. The watermelon's nutrients will end up in your body and not in your compost pile!

Related Article: Watermelon, Citrullus lanatus ~ Nutrition & Growing Tips
by Diana Wind

Copyright © 2009 Wind. All rights reserved.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Don't Fear Feral Felines

In my house, we are animal lovers and from time to time, we speak out on behalf of these voiceless creatures -- especially feral cats. I encourage you to do the same.

Don’t Fear Feral Felines

This headline is not meant to suggest approaching feral outdoor cats. It is never a good idea to confront outdoor animals; leave that to trained animal experts.

Feral cats are often misunderstood by people and often perceived as a community health threat or nuisance. The concerns often lead to calls to Animal Control, which usually result in killing of the cat(s).

In addition to not being a humane option, euthanasia is not an effective method of population control. The evidence is seen in the increasing numbers of feral cat populations throughout the country.

What does effectively control feral cat populations? Trap, Neuter and Release programs have been shown to reduce unwanted feral cat populations.

For the most part, feral cats are shy, nervous and unsociable, preferring to stay a safe distance from people. Due to their constant struggle to survive, feral felines often appear undesirable, malnourished and dirty. Contrary to their dirty appearance, feral cats pose no significant health threat. Although cats can get parasites (worms), disease and rabies, The Centers for Disease, Control and Prevention (CDC) have not reported cats as a serious community threat for transmission of disease or rabies (preventable viral disease of mammals). 

The vast majority of rabies cases reported each year occurs in wild animals. With human intervention and care - parasites, disease, rabies and unwanted overpopulation can easily be controlled.

According to the CDC, “Domestic animals account for less than 10% of the reported rabies cases, with cats, cattle, and dogs most often reported rabid.”

  • Think about it, both outdoor house cats and feral felines frequent the same outdoor places and are therefore exposed to the same disease risks.
  • Before calling your local animal control, check their policy about feral cats. You may be surprised that most often the policy is to euthanize them upon pick up. Instead, contact The Humane Society, Alley Cat Allies or an organization, veterinarian or shelter near you that cares for feral cats.

  • If you are able and interested you can financially contribute and/or become responsible to trap, neuter, release, micro chip and become an "owner" of a feral friend(s).
  • Pet owners are protected by law from unreasonable seizure of their pets.[1]
  • If adopted young enough, feral cats can be trained to be lovable, petable house pets. Older ferals can too, over time. Each animal has a unique personality, and every cat will respond differently. Feral cats require a lot of patience with no expectations; and they prefer to keep a 'safe' distance from human touch.
  • Your support can help your community humanely work towards ending the problems of unmanaged feral cat colonies, community nuisances, wildlife concerns and the needless suffering of the cats.
"All praise to you, Oh Lord, 
for all these brother and sister creatures."
~Saint Francis of Assisi
Related Links:
Burlington County Feral Cat Initiative Trap, Neuter, Release (TNR) programs working across the country
Effectively Managing Feral Cats CD/DVD offer by The Humane Society: Fixing Feral Cat Overpopulation, How to Perform a Mass Trapping, Implementing a Community TNR Program

Related Story: "Tango the Garden Cat" Dave's Garden 3-part article series
by Diana Wind

Part 1: Tango Arrives
Part 2: Tango's Garden Adventure
Part 3: Home for Christmas
[1] Who owns 'my' strays?

Copyright © 2009 Wind. All rights reserved.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

GardenCuizine Recipe: Chicken Veggie Wok Stir-fry over Ginger Brown Rice

Chicken Veggie Wok Stir-fryover Ginger Brown Rice
Wok vegetable Stir-fries are nutritious, quick and easy. They make delicious side dishes, without protein, or can easily become a main dish by adding poultry, meat, vegetarian tofu or tempeh, served over rice.

Wok cooking is best over high heat. High heat Wok cooking enables the food to be cooked quickly with little oil, sealing in the vitamins and nutrients. In addition, Wok cooking brings out fantastic flavors in the vegetables by caramelizing some of their natural sugars.

We use whatever veggies are in season from the garden and/or whatever is on hand. The oil used for a stir-fry should have a medium-high smoke point. Once cooking has begun, it is important to keep an eye on your Wok. You want the oil to heat up, but not get so hot that it smokes. At that point carcinogens are going into the air and free radicals into the oil.* The GardenCuizine recipe below uses hot Sesame oil and Canola, both have medium-high smoke points.
Yields 637g Serves: 3
This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled

Protein of your choice. We used poultry, it could have been beef, pork, vegetarian tofu, seitan or tempeh.
  • 1 full boneless, skinless chicken breast (2 half breasts) (ttl wgt 236g)
  • 1 Tablespoon (28g) hot Sesame oil
Assorted Veggies of your choice and availability. We used:
  • 1 medium Carrot (61g)
  • 10 florets Broccoli (110g)
  • 1 small Onion (70g)
  • 1 small Zucchini (118g)
  • 1 Tablespoon Canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon (tsp) Lite Soy Sauce
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • fresh parsley or shiso leaves, chopped
Putting it all together:
Prep all your foods first. Stir-fry cooking goes pretty fast.

Cut the raw chicken into bite size pieces, set aside.

Wash hands and sanitize your work area.

Cut up all the vegetables into bite size slices and florets.

Carrots and broccoli will not cook enough just by stir-frying; precook them first in the microwave or by heating a little water in the Wok to boiling, add veggies and cook them halfway. Do not use too much water or the water soluble vitamins will be lost when you pour the excess down the drain. Remove the carrots and broccoli, set aside. Drain the excess liquid (or you can save it for soup stock or for use when cooking rice and grains).

Cook the protein: heat the Wok on medium-high to dry thoroughly. Add the sesame oil. Stir-fry the chicken (or other protein) being careful not to overcook
as the protein will get added back to the dish before serving to reheat. Using a spatula or tongs, remove the chicken to a plate and set aside. Do not wash the Wok.

Stir-fry the vegetables: add a small amount of Canola oil* to the wok over high heat, as soon as it heats up add the garlic and ginger. When cooked, push the veggies up the side of the Wok, making a well in the center for the chicken.

Add the chicken. Gently stir the chicken to heat, then stir all ingredients together to combine.

Serve over brown rice.
Garnish with a generous sprinkling of fresh chopped parsley or shiso leaves.

GardenCuizine Nutrition Analysis: calculated from USDA nutrient values
Chicken Veggie Stir-fry, 1/3 of recipe

Good source: Potassium, Riboflavin, Folate, Magnesium
Excellent source: Protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Phosphorus, Selenium
Serving size: 212g, Calories: 242, Calories from Fat: 132, Total Fat 15g (23%DV), Saturated Fat: 2g(10%DV), Trans Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 46mg (15%DV), Sodium 138mg (6%DV), Potassium: 526mg (15%DV), Total Carbohydrate: 8g (3%DV), Dietary Fiber: 1g (6%DV), Protein: 20g (40%DV), Vitamin A: 4593IU (92%DV), Vitamin C: 45mg (75%DV), Riboflavin: 0.2mg (11%DV), Niacin: 9.5mg (47%DV), Vitamin B6: 0.6mg (32%DV), Folate: 49mcg (12%DV), Phosphorus 208mg (21%DV), Magnesium: 43mg (11%DV), Selenium: 15mcg (22%DV)
Ginger Brown Rice: two parts water to one part rice (2:1 water to rice ratio)
Yields 692g, Serves 3-4

2 cups water (veggie broth or chicken broth)
1 cup brown rice
2 Tablespoons onion, chopped
1 Tablespoon minced ginger
Seasonings: your choice: We vary what we use -- always omitting or using very little salt and usually adding one hot chiltepin pepper along w/fresh ground black pepper

In a Corningware pot or pot with a tight fitting lid, saute onion in oil until it becomes translucent not brown, add the ginger, rice and seasoning (chiltepin pepper, black pepper, curry powder, coriander or whatever herbs and spices you like to cook with). Stir to combine. Add the water, reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook until all the water is absorbed.

GardenCuizine Nutrition Analysis:
calculated from USDA nutrient values

Brown Rice, no salt

Dietary Fiber
Good source: Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Magnesium, and Selenium

Excellent source:

Serving size 1/4 recipe (173g), Calories:203 (10%DV), Calories from Fat:41, Total Fat:5g(7%DV), Saturated Fat: 1g(4%DV), Trans Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 8mg (0%DV), Total Carbohydrate 36g (12%DV), Dietary Fiber 2g (7%DV), Calcium: 15mg (2%DV), Iron: (4%DV), Thiamin 0.2mg (13%DV), Niacin: 2.4mg (12%DV), Vitamin B6: 0.2mg (12%DV), Magnesium 68mg (17%DV), Manganese: 1.7mg (87%DV), Selenium: 11mcg (15%DV)

Percent Daily Values (%DV) are based on a caloric intake of 2,000 calories for adults and children age 4 or older

*Related Links:

Kitchen Guide about Smoke points and Oils

The New York Times Wok Recipes

Photos and recipe Copyright (c) 2009 Wind. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Healthy Wok Cooking

Healthy Wok Cooking
The evolution of cookware has taken us from turtle shells, clay cooking baskets, earthenware pottery and Celtic myths of magical real cauldrons, spits, (common in medieval kitchens) and onto the metal and nonmetal cookware of today.
Metals in Cookware
Today’s cookware for the stovetop (with the exception of Corningware, a favorite of mine, made from glass ceramic) is made primarily from metals: cast iron, aluminum, steel, copper and stainless steel. Both cast iron and carbon steel cookware must be seasoned before using (see below link for how to season a Wok). Once seasoned, over time the cookware lining will get increasingly darker and serve as a nonstick surface. Carbon steel and cast Iron are the most common for Woks. And unlike what you may be thinking about the cast iron -- cast Iron Woks made in China are surprisingly not heavier than steel Woks.

Carbon steel seems to be the most popular among Asian cooks and is our personal favorite too. Similar to cast iron, carbon steel is reactive to acidic foods, therefore is not a good choice for cooking with wine, citrus juice or tomatoes. Carbon steel is steel derived from Metallic Iron and is a combination of Iron with a small amount of Carbon. The metallic form of iron (Fe) is not found in nature and must be derived from iron ore.

Although Carbon steel does not conduct heat as well as other metals, it can be rolled and hammered into very thin, strong sheets with high heat resistance. This is an advantage in Wok cooking. Wok Stir-fry cooking is a healthy cooking method because the high bottom heat quickly sears in the water soluble nutrients in the food. Also over cooking can be avoided by moving the food up the sides of the Wok where there is less heat, controlling the cooking.

Wok Styles
Types of Woks come in various styles, primarily: Cantonese (round bottomed with two metal handles), Northern-Style (a long, hollow metal handle and round bottom), and Shanghainese (like the Cantonese with two metal handles, but with a slightly rounder and deeper), and a flat-bottomed Wok (with two wooden handles) created specifically for use on residential electric ranges. We prefer the Northern-Style, round bottom with a long single handle and find it is best for cooking on our gas cooktop.

We have two well used and seasoned Woks, one large 16-inch and one average size 14-inch. Both are good sizes for home use. We often use the lid from the smaller wok to cover food when we cook in the larger wok (as shown in the photo). Also, we always use a circular metal ring “collar” as the base over the gas burner to raise up the wok and avoid damage to the heat element. The collar makes a nice, stable stand for the Wok too. Collars were introduced to Western world markets as an innovative accompaniment to the Wok in the1960’s.
What to Wok cook?
Many foods lend themselves to wok cookery, especially vegetables and proteins such as poultry, meats or tofu. Stir-fries are the most common use, but woks can also be used for many other cooking methods, such as braising, deep-frying, boiling, and steaming.

Wok History
Woks have been used for cooking around the world and in Chinese cooking for more than 2000 years, mainly because of their versatility and ability to cook large quantities of food quickly at high temperatures, using little fuel expenditure.

In the late 1970’s -- woks -- a once culinary staple cookware, started being replaced with modern cookware of the times influenced by Western society. Sensing this change in Chinese cuisine and culture, Grace Young and photographer Alan Richardson collected woks across the United States and China. Their work resulted in a fall exhibit in 2004 at New York University’s Asian/Pacific/American Institute, New York, NY called, the “Wok Hay” exhibit. The exhibit showcased Woks collected from the US and China by Young and Richardson. Their collaboration also resulted in a book, The Breath of a Wok: Unlocking the Spirit of Chinese Wok Cooking through Recipes and Lore (Simon & Schuster).

Some regions refer to woks or similar cookware by different names. ‘Karahi’ is the name for similar cookware in India, ‘Penggorengan’ in Indonesia, ‘Kuali’ or ‘Kawa’ (small or large wok) in Malaysia, and in Japan, woks are called Chinese pots ‘Chukanabe’.

Time to get cooking!
GardenCuizine Healthy Vegetable Stir-fry recipe to follow
Related Links:
Cookware Materials
How to Season a Carbon Steel Wok

How to Clean a Carbon Steel Wok

Blog article and photos Copyright (c) 2009 Wind. All rights reserved. rev 3/4/11