December 19, 2012

Rice and Arsenic

Probably because I have a one year old and sometimes that's a little distracting, I completely missed this when it came out. Or I should say, I missed the gravity of it. I remember hearing there was something about arsenic in rice but I didn't realize what a big deal it was. 

While the FDA is characteristically cautious in their analysis, Consumer Reports advocates taking action, both personally and in terms of regulation, to deal with this problem. 

From the Consumer Reports study:
“We already know that high concentrations of arsenic in drinking water result in the highest known toxic substance disease risks from any environmental exposure,” says Allan Smith, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of epidemiology at the University of California, Berkeley. “So we should not be arguing to wait for years until we have results of epidemiologic studies at lower arsenic intake, such as from rice consumption, to take action.” 
"People who ate rice had arsenic levels that were 44 percent greater than those who had not, according to our analysis of federal health data."
I recommend reading their entire report.  

We're taking a better-safe-than-sorry approach and have stopped eating rice (except for arborio because a little rissotto now and then is a risk I'm willing to take and Poppyseed doesn't eat it anyway). We don't really need to eat rice and it's not a particularly nutritious grain anyway. Instead we're going with quinoa, couscous, millet, pollenta (oh dear lord do I love corn!), and bulgar. We already eat some of that some of the time. Last night was a mushroom and venison stew over Parmesan pollenta and in the summer we often eat tabbouleh. Couscous also makes regular summer appearances with tomatoes and feta. Millet is going to be a new one. I've eaten it before but never cooked it.

What are your favorite grains and favorite ways to eat them? After reading those reports, are you going to avoid rice?

Links and Articles to Share

Some things that caught my attention this week...

  •  Which got me thinking about how I need to upgrade the filters in our Big Berkey to the black ones which do a better job of removing pesticides than the originals.     
  •  I just bought some organic instant coffee to make these Pfeffernuesse (although obviously not with Crisco... time to render some more lard). 
  • Before next summer I want to figure out a way to (easily) save grey water for the garden. Maybe the shower bucket is a good start. (although I'd want to run a sump-pump and hose through the window so I don't have to haul the bucket outside constantly. I know my limits.)
  •  I used to make truffles every year, usually with Chambord ganache. These salted caramel truffles look amazing. Now if I could only successfully temper chocolate... (and find time - seed starting and cleaning the chicken house definitely take priority).

December 17, 2012

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Bean Salad

I seriously love roasted Brussels sprouts. They're bitter and sweet, creamy and crunchy... just awesome. Because of this love of sprouts I found myself the other day with 3 pounds of said brassica that really needed to be used, an empty stomach and a desire for a quick and easy lunch. Thus my Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Bean Salad was born. As usual this is a loose recipe: it's flexible, scalable, and really more of an outline. Use what you have, what you like, in the ratios you prefer.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Bean Salad

Brussels sprouts
wash and quarter sprouts
beans (cooked)
extra virgin olive oil

Wash and quarter sprouts. Toss with olive oil and salt. Spread on rimmed baking sheet and roast at 350 until crispy around the edges and softish in the middle (or however you like them... blackened, barely cooked, whatever). Drain beans (and rinse if you don't like the goo). Gently mix (so as not to smash all the beans) with sprouts and feta (the more the better in my opinion). Dress with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and minced or pressed garlic. Gently stir to coat.

That's it!

...toss with lemon, olive oil, and garlic

December 16, 2012

Act Fast!

Real quick, guys. Cudzoo Farm, (remember, I talked about her before?) maker of the best goat's milk soap ever, has free shipping on all soap through Monday (that's tomorrow!). Thought you'd like to know :-)

Something New

You may have noticed (or not) down the right side of this blog, under the rotating gallery of sustainability reading goodness, an "Etsy mini". That's the official term for a tiny display of Etsy wares that you can put on a blog or website. 

upcycled bows
I have started an Etsy shop called Pollinator Handmade. I decided, since I love to (am compelled to?) create, to find an outlet for all these things I make. The idea is that the goods in the shop are upcycled, made from sustainable materials, and durable... and all things I use in my own life. 

I have a lot of idea, including a series of kitchen linens hand sewn by me with sustainable fabrics (hemp!) that feature my artwork. At the moment there are only a few things in the shop but expect more in the new year.

As things progress I'm hoping to post some tutorials here (like one for those upcycled bows). Next year should be a good year for this blog with more recipes, more gardening, and more essays about sustainability and agroecology with some shop stuff thrown in. 

If you want to keep up with the goings on in the shop you can interact with my various social media personalities that mostly make shop talk (my processes, new ideas, material sourcing, etc):

Twitter: @PollinatorsOTB
Web: (at the moment it redirects to the shop but stuff is in the works)
Pinterest: (specifically the "What's Inspiring the Pollinator" and  "Pollinator Handmade Love" boards)

reusable drawstring bags for bulk goods at the grocery store

Whoa! That's a lot of social media. Anyone have any favorites they think I should be on? What are your preferred ways to connect?

Christmas bows

P.S. There is only one set of 12 upcycled Christmas bows available and the last day to ship first class domestic with guaranteed delivery by Christmas is the 18th!