Pork Chops and (Ugly) Pear Chutney

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I stood there aghast watching as the supermarket employee casually pulled up the nearest trash can and plucked pear after pear from the display and threw each one away. Just threw them away. Were they moldy? No. Were they recalled for a health reason? No. Their crime was that they were bruised. Not pretty enough. I couldn’t believe it. He must have thrown away 50 pears before I asked him if I could have a couple. “Sure,” he said, “but they’re ugly”. I told him that was precisely why I wanted them.

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Our food waste statistics in this country are staggering. Feeding America estimates that we waste approximately 70 billion pounds of food in America each year (http://www.feedingamerica.org/about-us/how-we-work/securing-meals/reducing-food-waste.html), and a recent report from UNEP and the World Resources Institute, estimates that “one-third of all food produced worldwide, worth around US$1 trillion, gets lost or wasted in food production and consumption systems. When this figure is converted to calories, this means that about 1 in 4 calories intended for consumption is never actually eaten” (http://www.worldfooddayusa.org/food_waste_the_facts).

So, what can we do? Start with education. Educate yourselves and your families about cooking, meal planning and how to use fresh foods. Save and reuse leftovers, and craft recipes like this one that use bruised or leftover foods from your fridge. Most importantly though, let’s all work together to craft a community of food consciousness. Let’s work together in our food banks this Thanksgiving, let’s get our hands dirty in the garden and let’s get cooking!

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Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

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This season’s garden has been a learning lesson. First, I approached it with more pre-thought and planning than I’ve ever put into a garden. I planned seedling start dates, crop yields, test soil pH and balance, and plotted and schemed about every aspect of my would-be bounty. Now, some of that planning time was well spent. I have bell peppers for the first time ever, more arugula than I know what to do with and a gorgeous eggplant plant that I was certain I would kill immediately. All that planning, but it turns out it was a plant that I didn’t plant, didn’t tend to, and thought was a weed initially, that produced my first batch of tomatillos.

Tomatillos, aka “Mexican husk tomatoes”, are a member of the nightshade family; a group of vegetables that also include potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants and peppers. Tomatillos are originally from Mexico as the name suggests, and taste like a slightly sweeter version of a green tomato. Slightly tart and citrusy, these fruits need to be peeled out of their husk and are extremely versatile and great in salsas just like this one!

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Mini Meatloaves with Garlic Mashed Potatoes

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Happy fall everyone! I have to say, this is my favorite season. The golden colors, the crisp bite to the air, the gentleness of the air and the promise of snow, I love it all. This is finally the time when I can start wearing sweaters again, drinking cider like its water and making warming, comfort-food meals. This recipe for mini meatloves with garlic mashed potatoes is a new favorite of mine. It comes together simply, makes for a great dinner and makes some wonderful leftovers for lunch the next day.

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Sunny Summer Pizza

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The summer squash are coming in at our community garden. Golden and sweet, their misshapen bodies offer some wonderful summer flavors. After excitedly harvesting several from the thicket of squash leaves, we were faced with the-“well now what?” moment. Grilled with some olive oil and rosemary, these squash are delicious but we wanted something a bit further out of the box, hence the creation of the summer sunny pizza! This light pizza starts with zesty basil pesto, and finishes with creamy fontina cheese and salty, crispy proscuitto. Sure to be a summer favorite, this makes for a beautiful weeknight dinner or an easy meal to share with friends and family.

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Honey, Vanilla and Orange Panna Cotta with Fresh Garden Strawberries

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The first strawberries of the year are coming in! These berries a small, alpine variety that are jewels of summer sweetness. Pop one in your mouth and you’ll hear the sound of an ice cream truck and feel the cool of your neighborhood pool on a hot July day.

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I wanted to do something special with these delicacies and I wanted to make sure that I highlighted them as the star of the show, rather than muddling their flavor. To that end, I went out of the box to create a fresh, colorful summer dessert that shows off the berries and compliments them with other sweets from the earth.

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Skirt Steak with Chimichurri and Spiced Corn

 

final from topHere’s a great recipe for your Memorial Day celebrations that can be prepared inside or out. This recipe takes skirt steak, a relatively inexpensive cut of beef, and combines it with a flavorful chimichurri sauce to bring out the best in both. The spiced corn is a welcome compliment to the dish’s flavors and adds just a pinch of sweetness.

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Mom’s Crab Cakes

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I love crab cakes, but I don’t love greasy, hard crab cakes that leave you like the Clara Peller of the sea, “where’s the crab?!”. Here’s a great recipe that I whipped together with mom last weekend that solve the woes of the underwhelming crabby patty. These crab cakes are light, filled with veggies and herbs and tons of, you guessed it, sweet, juicy crab.

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