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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Enjoying the last of autumn's bounty

Long Island had its first frost this past week. We were caught by surprise with snow, hail, and freezing temperatures on Halloween weekend. Many delicate garden plants succombed to the frost, but the hardier cold-weather crops are still going strong. This September, we enjoyed an abundance of fresh figs from my backyard tree. October was marked by chestnuts and persimmons from the trees of friends and neighbors. I harvested some beautiful butternut squash that grew accidently in my garden from organic seeds in last year's compost. I still have some carrots, arugula, mustard greens, and baby bok choy coming up in my garden. My weekly CSA box is teeming with cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, gai lan (delicious chinese broccoli), broccoli rabe, baby pak choy, cabbage, kale, collards, turnips, turnip root and greens, and arugula. The veggies in the cruciferous family are the nutrient superstars of the plant kingdom - packed with tons of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals to fight cancer. Not to be forgotten are the other nutritious, antioxidant-rich veggies in my fall CSA boxes: sweet potatoes, yellow and red potatoes, carrots, lettuce, green beans, cranberry beans, beets, celeriac, acorn and butternut squash, fennel, onions, garlic, shallots, and scallions. Fall definitely makes me nostalgic for working on the farm!

string beans, figs, and squash blossoms from my garden

I'm still trying to balance school, work, and prepping healthy meals for myself. I recently discovered a ridiculously easy and delicious way to make use of about half of my weekly CSA box. For the past several weeks, Danny and I have arranged a large "Buddha Bowl," which is basically cooked grain + raw veggies + dressing. This allows us to incorporate raw food in a quick and easy way, with tons of leftovers to bring to work and school. We managed to put together the following Buddha Bowl in less than an hour (while the brown rice and quinoa was steaming): onion, shredded carrot and turnip root, baby pak choy, avocado, garlic and ginger (simmered with the quinoa on the stove), hemp and sesame seeds, black olives, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, flax oil, toasted sesame oil, ume plum vinegar, cayenne, red pepper flakes, black pepper, dulse flakes (seaweed seasoning). We served the veggies and dressing over the grains with tahini and sauerkraut, which is over new favorite topping for everything! Although the veggies are raw, if you mix them with the hot grains they will soften and and have a cooked quality. You seriously can't go wrong with a Buddha Bowl...just throw in whatever you have on hand with your favorite dressing! Here is the original inspiration from Kris Carr's Crazy Sexy Life.

A few other Autumn happenings:
  1. The Northeast Organic Farming Association held the New York Locavore Challenge during the month of September to promote eating and acting locally and more sustainably. I played my part by eating organic food from my CSA and garden, riding my bike to work, and taking the train to school. I recently came across this cool blog promoting local living on Long Island
  2. My town hosted a haunted house called Darkness Rising this year that donated 100% of its profits to local charities. It turns out that this haunt was hosted by my sister's friend, who used to hold the event at his home each year. It was voted best haunted house in the tri-state area this year! I didn't have a chance to attend, but I heard from coworkers that it was awesome! 
  3. Huntington-based Healthy Planet will be having its annual Turkey-Free Thanksgiving event on Sunday, November 20. The event features a vegan potluck and a speaker on sustainable living. Last year almost 200 people attended the event, and I won runner-up for the best dish! 
  4. I have been meaning to get involved with Long Island Food Not Bombs, an organization that holds weekly events to provide groceries, warm meals, clothing, and other items in low income communities on LI. They will be holding their annual Thanksgiving Bonanaza at the Hempstead Food Share on Sunday, November 20 (unfortunately I can't make that event because I will be at the Turkey-Free Thanksgiving!).
Hope you have a happy un-turkey day!!

pumpkin and butternut squash from my garden

my mom got creative with the butternut squash for Halloween