Thursday, November 24, 2011

Green Bean Casserole -- with a Home-made Shiitake Mushroom Sauce and Sean's Should Be Famous Onion Rings

  • Green beans, fresh or frozen, best if from your garden or a local organic producer
  • Fresh shiitake mushrooms (lots -- at least a half pound)
  • Fried onions rings (made with Sean's Should Be Famous Onion Ring Method, recipe below)
  • Cream (1 cup)
  • Beef stock (2 cups)
  • Flour (6 tablespoons)
If fresh, string and cut up the green beans however you like them and blanche in boiling water for about 5 minutes. Drain.

Place green beans in a casserole dish. Mix a handful (or two!) of the fried onion rings with the green beans.

Slice the shiitake into small pieces, saute in butter until cooked. Add the flour and make a "mushroom roux" (cook until the flour is light brown).

Add the stock, stir quickly, add the cream, stir quickly. After the cream is thoroughly mixed with the beef stock and roux, pour it into the casserole dish and gently stir so that everything is submerged in the sauce. Place a handful (or two!) of the fried onion rings on top of the casserole.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes, until it is "bubbly".

Yes, you can use canned green beans and canned mushrooms, and it will be a LOT better than the standard canned Cream of Mushroom soup variety. Maybe not quite as good as the home-grown green beans and shiitake mushroom version, but plenty better than the standard.

Sean's Should Be Famous Onion Ring Method
  • 1 can beer 
  • Large onions
  • 3 eggs
  • flour (3 cups, makes a lot of onion rings)
  • Habanero Salsa
  • baking powder (1.5 tsp per cup of flour)
  • 3 teaspoons cornstarch
  • Spices and Herbs to taste (salt, garlic powder, cayenne, whatever you like, experiment! or add nothing for the traditional simple onion ring taste)
  • oil for frying
Cut the onions into rings. Get the biggest onions you can find. Mix the dry ingredients to make the breading mixture. Beat the eggs with the beer and the habanero salsa but don’t mix with the dry ingredients. These rings are breaded, not battered. Dip the rings into the beer/egg mixture, then into the breading mixture so they are thoroughly covered with flour. Dip again in beer/egg and again in dry mixture. These rings are double dipped.

If you don’t have habanero salsa, use cayenne pepper in the dry ingredients. Or if you don't like spicy hot foods, just leave this out entirely. Fry in hot oil until done. If you are using some of these for green bean casserole, fry the onion rings for that dish a little more crispy than the others for just snackin’.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Fried Radishes and Eggs

I started cleaning out the chest refrigerator this morning to make room for our 19+ lb pastured turkey to thaw and down in the bottom of the produce box was a bag of radishes from the October coop order.  The radishes were just fine, the greens a bit. . . past due.  So I dumped them in the sink, washed them, cut off the greens and roots, sliced them, into the pan with some local butter, onions I got in September from the coop, and some serrano peppers from this month's coop order.  Garlic, salt and pepper, cooked well done (not burnt, but the onions should be well caramelized and in fact the radishes caramelize a bit too).  This made a great low carb side dish to my scrambled pastured eggs and sausage from a free range pig, all of course bought through the Oklahoma Food Cooperative. Taste, food safety, nutrition.  All there in about 15 minutes of work and some good bon appetitin' eatin.
I know that "fried radishes" sounds weird, since most of us only eat radishes raw, but try 'em, you'll like 'em. They sweeten up very nicely.

Friday, November 18, 2011

BEWARE of your Butter!

As it turns out, conventional butter is loaded with 11 different pesticides, including --

3 known or probably carcinogens
8 suspected hormone disruptors
1 neurotoxin
2 developmental or reproductive toxins

More at Pesticide Action Network North America.

Organic butter is more expensive, but how expensive are the consequences of pesticide residues, such as cancer?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Ideas for a Local and Low Impact Holiday!

★    Give food!  Preferably local food, food that you've grown yourself, or something that you've made yourself or bought from a local producer – jams and jellies, pecans from your tree, pickles, breads, pies, cakes.

★    Give locally! Besides food, look for locally-made artisanal body care products like soaps and bath salts, clothing, arts and crafts.

★    Make gifts!  Besides food, think of your own craft and artistic abilities.

★    Give with justice!  If you do buy gifts, vote with your dollars. Avoid big box stores and shop at locally owned stores. Explore the after market for treasures that will make wonderful gifts such as antiques and vintage items. Buy imported gifts from fair trade groups that support global economic justice. Buy products made from recycled materials for gifts.

★    Re-gift! This is the giving away of something that was given to you.  The hobbits started this in the Shire, so it must be a fine and sensible thing to do.

★    Give sustainability! The list here is very long.  Miniature herb gardens. A solar small battery charger and  rechargeable batteries.  Potted plants either for growing inside or for transplanting outside later. Baskets of cloth napkins and kitchen towels to replace paper towels and napkins. Seeds for a spring garden together with a “Coupon Good For Four Hours Help Creating a Garden in the Spring.”  Non-BPA lined reusable water bottle. Tuition for classes that teach a useful skill or art. Bundle clothes line and clothes pins in a fabric bag with a long handle (when hanging clothes on the line, put the pins in the bag, hang it around the neck, so they are conveniently available). And by all means, give the kids bicycles and tricycles – and give only “naturally-powered” gifts to children (or anyone else, for that matter.)

★    Give Global (or local) Justice! Make financial donations to groups working for local or global justice and sustainability in honor of friends and family for the holidays.  This could be groups like World Neighbors, Greenpeace, Sierra Club, Heifer International, a local food bank, or a group associated with your faith tradition.

★    Give the arts!  Tickets to local art galleries, concerts, museums, and don’t forget the zoo. 

★    Give favors! Make booklets with your own hand drawn coupons that can be exchanged for events like – “Date Night with the Wife”, “Dinner with my Eldest Daughter”, “This Coupon good for One Major Honey-Do for My Loving Spouse”.  “This coupon good for skipping one vegetable and getting extra dessert.” (Only include one of those.) “Stay Up Late.”

★    Make decorations!   Use natural materials as much as possible. Save them from year to year as family heirlooms. Pass them between generations.  Think fabric, wood, metal, yarn, string, rope, dried plants, flowers, leaves, and paint. Memorabilia – a child's first shoe, a grandmother's handkerchief – can make beautiful ornaments. You could also use consumables – popcorn is a traditional item to string on thread and hang on a tree. After the holiday, the birds will enjoy it! A tree can also be decorated with baked “cookie ornaments”. Be sure to poke a hole in the dough before baking so you can string it on the tree.

★    Recycle wrappings!  Boxes of  ribbons, bows, wrapping paper, and gift decorations carefully saved from previous years, belong in all houses. One way to honor the giver for the gift of a beautifully wrapped package is to save the wrapping and use it again..  Alternatively, wrap packages in cloth, such as towels or napkins. Even more alternatively, don't wrap the packages, instead, present them with some kind of joyous ceremony. Or hide them, and make a game out of the finding. Or do creative things like re-purpose useful items (socks, stocking caps, helmets, kitchen ware) as “wrapping” for gifts.  A little ribbon and a bow, which is easily saved for use in another year, can make any item that can contain something else into a “gift package”. 

★    Make a reusable fabric gift bag. Cut 2 pieces of exterior fabric and 2 pieces of lining fabric, all the same size. Put each liner piece on top of its exterior fabric, bend over and sew along the top, thus hemming the opening edge. Stack both pieces of fabric with the liner fabric on the outside. Sew the 3 sides that aren't hemmed ¼ inch from the edge.  Turn inside out.  Attach a nice ribbon long enough to tie the top when the bag has been filled with a gift, to one side of the bag with a few stitches at its center.  Use any kind of fabrics, old sheets are great material for the lining, which can be plain. Use something more decorative for the outer fabrics.

★    Get energy-frugal LED lights! LED lights use 95% less energy than traditional lights and last up to 100,000 hours when used indoors. They use .04 kw per bulb – that's 100 times less than traditional bulbs and 10 times less than mini-bulbs.

★    Don't buy a fake tree made from plastic and polyvinyl chloride. Consider a living tree, in a pot. It could be a bonsai evergreen that would always live in its pot or a larger plant that you would plant in your yard or at a park or church or school.   Or. . . Buy a Christmas tree from a local grower farmer. All Christmas trees sold in the US are farmed. A single farmed Christmas tree absorbs more than 1 ton of carbon in its lifetime. For each tree cut for sale, one to three trees are planted. Recycle your Christmas tree as compost or through a community program (93% of farmed Christmas trees in the US are recycled.) Never cut a wild tree in a forest for a Christmas tree.  Or. . .  make yourself a Christmas tree as a craft. It can be something new each year, or if you make one that is particularly great, you can save it from year to year and maybe add to it a bit each year.  Or. . . make a Christmas tree wall hanging from felt, decorate it, and place your presents in front of it.  Or. . . decorate some other kind of large houseplant that you already have.

★    Buy Christmas cards from local artisans.  Or. . . make your own paper for your cards. Or. . . buy paper from local artisans to make cards.  Make cards that fold to become their own envelope. Send e-cards via the internet. Buy recycled cards. Send all the cards you receive (including birthday and other holiday cards) to St. Jude's Ranch for Children in Nevada, where they will be re-crafted into new cards and sold to support the organizations efforts to help children. Read more about this at .

★    If you ship gifts, use crumpled newspaper, or popcorn, to cushion the gift in transit. If you pack in popcorn, include a note inviting the recipient to feed the popcorn to birds.

★    Make a commitment to distributive justice that lasts all year.  By all means, be generous with a charity that provides food and other necessities to low income households at the seasonal holidays of the “feasting season”. But people are hungry and in need all year long. During the holiday season, give your entire family the gift of service, by joining together in a family (or household) commitment to participate in distributive justice every month of the year.

★    Teach your children why you are doing a low impact and local holiday. Involve them with the planning. Help them to ignore advertising.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Mushroom Gravy, Creme of Mushroom Soup, and Saurkraut

Gravy, Creme of Mushroom Soup, Saurkraut.

Today we are all about recipes and let's talk about gravy.

First, always make extra gravy.  You can use it as a sauce for a casserole the next day, or as part of your left-overs-from-dinner-lunch the next day.

Next, for a nice mushroom gravy, start with about 1/8 pound of fresh mushrooms.  I personally am partial to shitake, but ordinary button mushrooms will do fine. If the Coop producers are out of stock, and you need mushrooms, and are in the OKC area, check Matt Burch and April Harrington's store Earth to Urban at 1235 SW 2nd (across from the Old Farmers Market building). I got some there today which I used for my mushroom gravy tonight.

Slice the mushrooms, and saute them in some nice butter that you bought directly from the dairy which has a pastured herd. You can add a little chopped onion and hot peppers, if you like a more savory gravy. Once the mushrooms are done, add some flour.  How much, you ask? Well, that depends on how much gravy you want.  The basic rule of thumb is two tablespoons flour and two tablespoons oil per cup of gravy. So if you want two cups of gravy, add 4 tablespoons of oil to the pan to saute the mushrooms, and then add four tablespoons of flour.  Stir the flour until it browns a bit.  Don't walk away and think you can do something else while the flour browns. That's a good way to burn the flour and waste the mushrooms.  When it is nicely browned, add some stock -- beef, chicken, pork, whatever you have on hand. Plan ahead and cook a chicken in the oven a day or two previously, and you will have some nice stock leftover from that. The secret to a good gravy like this is an excellent stock and it is worth your time and effort to make your own.  How to do that? Well I will review that tomorrow.

Add the stock all at once and stir vigorously until the gravy thickens.  Voila, mushroom gravy.  If you made two cups, you can use that for your own home-made Green Bean Casserole, about which I will write tomorrow.

Now let's talk about Creme of Mushroom Soup.  You can also use this as the sauce for Green Bean Casserole (or any other casserole) or you can just eat it as a soup.  I think the kids would say, "it's the bomb!" 

This recipe makes 6 quarts, and can be frozen, thawed and reheated. You can make less, but I have never made this outside of a crockpot, so I don't know how it would go for example if you tried to make only 1 or 2 quarts in a sauce pan on top of the stove. If you try it, let me know how it works and I can incorporate that info the next time I write about this recipe. If you plan on using this in casseroles, in place of canned crème of mushroom soup, package it in two cup containers.

4 cups cream
4 cups chicken stock (beef stock would be fine)
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
6 cups sliced mushrooms
1 cup chopped, cooked bacon
1 Tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
½ tsp thyme
1 onion, chopped in small bits
2 Tbsp bacon fat (butter would work, but bacon fat is better)
4 cloves garlic

Cook the garlic and onion in the bacon fat or the butter for about a minute. Remove from the heat. Add the butter/onion/garlic and all of the other ingredients to a large crock pot. Cook on low for four to six hours, until the soup is thick and a bit frothy. It will continue to get thicker as it cools. Don't cook too fast or too long 

There is Napa Cabbage available this month on the coop, and Napa cabbage makes great saurkraut.  Here is a recipe for naturally fermenting saurkraut that was given to me by a master fermenter, Lynnet Bannion, with whom I studied permaculture.  Note that as with all such preservation methods, scrupulous cleanliness of everything is mandatory. Sterilize the jar with boiling water, make sure the knives, cutting boards, mandolins, stampers/thumpers that you are using -- and also your HANDS -- are clean.

Ursula’s Sauerkraut
For a half-gallon jar, you need 3.5 pounds cabbage, 1 teaspoon caraway seed, 1 tablespoon sea salt. You can add optional ingredients from the following list: peeled sliced garlic; washed, cored and sliced apples; peeled onions cut into eighths; dill seed; juniper berries; or other spices.
Wash cabbage and cut into thin shreds, with a kraut cutter, mandoline, food processor, or by hand with a knife. Mix cabbage shreds with the salt in a large bowl or small plastic bucket, and let stand for 15 minutes. Then press the cabbage with your fist or a wooden stamper until the juice is flowing well. It is important to crush the vegetables enough to create the juice. 

Pack the juicy shreds into your jar in layers, interspersing the caraway and any other ingredients you are using. Pack tightly enough that all the air is pressed out. If you don’t have enough juice to come to the neck of the jar, you can add a little brine: 2 tsp salt to one quart water. Cover loosely, put the jar on a plate or pie tin, and keep in a dark corner of your kitchen for one week. Then cap and
keep in a cold place for another four weeks to mellow. Sauerkraut keeps many months under proper storage conditions (provided you keep out of it that long).

Bob's note: It's important that all of the cabbage be submerged in the brine. If it keeps coming up above the brine/cabbage juices, then put a cup of water in a ziplock back and put that in the neck of the jar to keep the shreds under the surface of the water. The fermentation process is carried on by lactobacillus bacteria. Use organic or all natural cabbage, trim off any spots or blemishes. If you mix up some brine to add, do not use chlorinated water. Don't use iodized salt, use pickling salt or sea salt without any additives. Don't reduce the amount of salt. This is a preservation process, the salt is necessary to the process. Check it often during the fermentation week, if some scum develops, carefully spoon it off. The volume of the cabbage will reduce, as the process develops, so you may need to add brine.

Tomorrow: Green Bean Casserole, Sean's Should Be Famous Fried Onion Ring Method, Stock Part the First

Monday, November 7, 2011


This order is our eighth year birthday.  I dredged up some spreadsheets and it looks to me like we are approaching $4 million in total sales over that 8 years. . . $3,796,154 to be exact, so depending how this month and December finish out, we will likely cross the four million dollar sales threshold in January 2012.

What a lot of good-tasting and nutritious food and quality non-food items that dollar figure represents.  BUT. . . more interesting than these figures from our past is what's happening RIGHT NOW.

Over the years I have received a lot of emails from people elsewhere who envy the  local food selection we have available here in Oklahoma through the Oklahoma Food Cooperative.  Some businesses may brag about having products from a half dozen local producers.  This month, you can order from 98 different Oklahoma producers, and pick and choose among 4,789 products!  That kind of access doesn't exist in very many areas of this country, so let's  take advantage of what we've got, and -- as I've often said over the years -- follow the Oklavore principle and "eat what is available!

Speaking of gifts. . . which I wasn't. . . but I will segue that way anyway. . . This month the coop has a new product -- a gift membership -- that delivers an attractive certificate to you on delivery day stamped with a unique number that the recipient of your gift enters when he or she inputs their info on the coop's membership form and voila, they are members!

Since most of us will be dong a lot of shopping this holiday season, don't forget the little detail that you can shop for holiday gifts from the comfort and convenience of your own home, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Food makes a great gift. As do our body care products and other non-food items. 

Regarding the Feastin' Foods of November. . . I just scrolled through the produce list and was really impressed at the amount of produce that has been listed since the day the order opened.  If you typically only shop the coop on the first day of the order, you are missing out on good deals. Many times our vegetable (and egg) producers add a considerable amount of inventory as the order progress and the get a better handle on what they will have available for delivery day.

The fall produce looks glorious.  First on the list is GREENS Greens are a luxury food and are also affordable.  Buy a LOT more than you are going to eat and freeze them in meal size portions for eating later. These crisp fall days are excellent for long slow cooking of big pots of food, so cook all your greens at once and freeze for eating later. Cooked greens are great in the freezer, just don't you forget to label and date them so you know what they are.  I always think I will remember but then I don't and so I have learned the hard way to label and date. That way if you defrost something that you think is frozen apple slices, in anticipation of apple pie, and you get something else, you aren't disappointed.

I have written a lot about greens over the past eight years of the coop. One cup cooked greens typically contains: 20 calories, 1.2 g protein, 4.4 g carbohydrates, 3.5 g dietary fiber, 93% water, plus Vitamins A and C, folate, potassium, and calcium.  "All this -- and TASTE TOO!"  Anyway, here's something I wrote in November 2007-- "The feastin season is upon us."   You really should try the Cream of Greens soup on that page, it is one  of the best recipes I've ever posted. Even people who hate greens like this soup when made with Coop ingredients.  BUT, don't freeze greens with cream sauces, freeze the plain cooked greens, THEN add cream sauces when you thaw them for eating later.  Cream and cheese and eggs are GREAT with greens. If Wagon Creek has some cream left, by all means substitute that for some of the milk.

Unfortunately the links in that post to "What to do with 20 pounds of ground beef" and the similar one for ground pork are no longer active but the recipe ideas are listed in my post, so that gives you some ideas. As to what to do with 20 pounds of ground beef, that is.

The turkeys are going pretty fast, but as of this writing there remain a few. Greenwood is a new producer and they do on farm processing, so you have to pick up those turkeys directly from them in the parking lot of the operations center. If you've already opened a basket for another pickup site, and want to get one of their turkeys, don't forget to change your pickup site to OKC Central. You do that by opening your shopping cart, and you will see the place for your pickup site on the left side of the page.

There are lots of eggs right now, more than 100 dozen available. As I noted last week, and as one of the producers wrote in their producer notes Tuesday, it's easy to freeze eggs, and you can even dehydrate them yourself.  Later this winter, when egg production falls off, you'll wish you had some frozen dozens of eggs stashed in your freezer, so order now and freeze for eating later.

Of course, our meat producers continue to be strong suppliers of the local market. Our local meats offer a great return for the money -- not only do they taste great, buying local meats from our producers' free ranging flocks and herds provides direct support for animal husbandry methods and practices that heal the earth and do not destroy the biosphere. Every dollar spent for supermarket meats is a dollar invested in the environmental ruin of this region. So let's spend our money wisely and buy local meats from free ranging flocks and herds.

I almost forgot --  we have a plethora of pumpkins available this month at great prices. Actually, we have a plethora of plethoras of pumpkins available. So you can make your pumpkin pies this year directly from a pumpkin.  Here's all the info you need from the site that taught me -- Pick Your Own!

We have lots of roots this month -- besides turnips, the sweet potatoes are here! And the radishes.  Now's the time to stock up on both these excellent storage crops for winter. Sweet potatoes and turnips offer great nutrition and even better taste. Throw them in with a roast to slow cook on one of the upcoming cool days.  For a change of pace with your radishes, slice them thinly, fry them, scramble some eggs with them. Voila, very tasty breakfast AND added vegetable nutrition in a meal that is usually light on veggies.

Don't forget to buy some soap. You can never really have too much artisanal soaps made by Oklahoma producers. All of our body care products make great gifts (and this is the HOLIDAY season, hint hint).

As does our many jams and jellies and if you think your life might get a bit busy this holiday season, don't forget a few prepared meals for the freezer.

Do you have flour for the rolls, breads, cakes, and pie crusts?  Corn meal for the stuffing and breading?  Onions and mushrooms and green beans for the traditional green bean casserole?

So it goes down at your corner Oklahoma Food Cooperative. This is the beginning of our "feastin' season".  In the Northern Hemisphere, it is the time when the harvest has been gathered. In days of yore, our celebrations originated in the deep gratitude for the fact that there was a harvest, and the community would have food to eat during the looming winter. In the modern era, many of us have lost that intimate connection with our food, but here in the Coop, we have been working for eight years to resurrect and restore our intimate connections with the food.  It has been a long trip, sometimes change, always fruitful and full of great tasting food adventures.  We remain a ways from Europe in terms of developing our own unique regional tastes, but we are certainly on our way to that day right here in Oklahoma.

When we started the Oklahoma Food Cooperative, we said. . . "local food is the next big thing." And as it turns out, that came true.  As a result, we are surrounded by a "faux locavorism" that uses glib words and fancy signs and artfully designed stores to substitute for reality.  We certainly do not have the panache of some of the stores of the area, but we have the food that they don't. So come on down the cyberstreet to your Oklahoma Food Cooperative and let's start the feastin' of the season!

"This just in". . . the inbox carries news that up to 3/4 of the honey sold in major stores can no longer be considered honey due to the extreme processing it experiences.

If you are not a member, you can sign up at .

Friday, November 4, 2011

Carols for the Feastin' Season!

Here are three Coop Carols to sing this Feastin' Season! --Tis the Season for the Feastin', the Autumn Carol, and the Get Ready for Winter Song.

Sing to the tune Deck the Halls

(1) Tis the season for the feastin',
Oklahoma Foods are good to eat!
Taste nutrition can't be beaten,
Oklahoma Foods are good to eat!
Nurturing the land and people,
Farm and city joining hands.
Tis the season for the feastin',
Oklahoma Foods are good to eat!

(2) Care for people and creation,
Oklahoma Foods are good to eat!
Hope throughout the bio-region,
Oklahoma Foods are good to eat!
From our farms onto our tables,
we will bless the way we eat!
Care for people and creation,
Oklahoma Foods are good to eat!

(3) Healing nature with earth's beauty,
Oklahoma Foods are good to eat!
Wisdom, joy fulfilling duty,
Oklahoma Foods are good to eat!
Eating with the changing seasons,
Chasing the CAFOs from our land!
Healing nature with earth's beauty,
Oklahoma Foods are good to eat!

(4) Social justice, sustainability,
Oklahoma Foods are good to eat!
Economic viability,
Oklahoma Foods are good to eat!
These our values, govern always,
They will take us forward far!
Three in number the core values,
Oklahoma Foods are good to eat!

The Autumn Carol
Tune: O Tannenbaum (O Christmas Tree)

(1) O Autumn season, golden bright!
We hail the harvest welcome sight!
The air is crisp, the moon shines long,
It's time to raise our voice in song

The squash and pumpkins, taters sweet,
Peppers, greens, and nuts we greet.

O autumn season, golden bright!
We hail the harvest welcome sight!

(2) The heat of summer is now past,
We wait the time of winter's blast.
The children are in school today,
The farmers work to reap the hay.

Peach preserves and apple butter,
Set our hearts to be aflutter.

O autumn season, golden bright!
We hail the harvest welcome sight!

(3) There is no kinder time of year,
Than Autumn bright without a fear,
The peaceful times upon the land,
Bring hope and health, a time so grand.

So raise a glass of Autumn cheer,
A cider strong, a mug of beer.

O autumn season, golden bright!
We hail the harvest welcome sight!

The Get Ready for Winter Song
Tune: "Santa Claus is Coming to Town". . .

OH! We better not wait, it's time to make plans,
Compost, mulch, put away the fans,
Winter time is coming to town!

Squash and turnips and carrot plants,
Season extension for the cabbage transplants,
Winter time is coming to town!

Let's insulate the attic!
Insulate the floors!
Insulate the walls so deep,
and don't forget the doors!

So! Make your list, and check it twice,
Solarize, weatherize, don't roll the dice,
Winter time is coming to town!