Activist Mommy

To say bye-bye to Local Food Month I finally got to set down and read my book last night, The United States of Arugula: The Sun Dried, Cold Pressed, Dark Roasted, Extra Virgin Story of the American Food Revolution. I’m still in the first half of it, but I can say it is almost relaxing to know that Americans have had serious food issues long before McDonalds came along. We’re a nation that seems to think vegetables come from cans and if the box says there are vitamins in it then it must be good. Some of the oddities of the eating habits talked about in this book made me laugh, though getting to see the behind the scenes story of some the the top chefs is great. And it’s nice to know that Dr. Kellogg’s masturbation obsession* went as far as food too. He believed that eating meat caused masturbation and that people should have yogurt enemas. I’m almost curious what his sex life was like. Almost.

Andrew Zimmerman Bizzare FoodsI’m going to have to write a real review of this book as soon as I’m done. It is actually really interesting to read, especially if you love food. Or at least love celebrity chefs. I’m not quite a foodie, but the Activist Daddy and I do enjoy staying up late to watch some Andrew Zimmerman on the Travel Channel. We can’t help but stare in wonder and horror while he eats bugs, and raw fish hearts, and parts of animals we normally toss out. He’s like our hero, urging us to eat something new and not to waste any parts. Luckily for me not waasting any parts means eating all of the stem of my broccoli, but you get the point. Can you imagine that this is his job? Asside from being a chef at a very expensive resturant, his job is to travel the world and eat things no red blooded American would dream of touching. And he likes it.

Zimmerman is the first person to come to my mind when reading The United States of Arugula, and not just because we’re fans. The beginning of the book talks about some the famous foodies that started the celebrity chef thing here in America. Like Craig Claiborne who joined the navy to escape his mother and ended up traveling the world enjoying exotic foods ended up a leading food critic and journalist.

OK, I’m going to stop now before I ruin the whole book for anyone who has not read it yet. I promise as soon as I am done I’ll write a real review. Hopefully that will be by this weekend. So far I am really enjoying it and definitely recomend it to others to read.

Dr. John Harvey Kellogg*Side note, Dr. Kellogg, the man behind the cereal, was  one of the men who really pushed for routine infant circumcision in America. He felt that foreskins were what made little boys masturbate, and masturbation lead to everything from insanity to heart disease. Think about that the next time you eat your Corn Flakes. read more here>>>.

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{July 27, 2007}   I’m a foodie

I can’t believe how many people have come here looking for my vegan black bean brownies. You people are some brownie loving fools. And I mean that in the best way possible. Say it with me now “Mmmm, chocolate….”

I planned to get a picture of my tomato sauce to share but my camera was being a pain and not wanting to hold a charge. It is about 3 years old now so I suppose in digital camera time it’s ancient. I’ve been holding on to it, but the picture quality seems to be going down and the batteries seem to only last a few minutes. Even with new batteries in it. It was a cheap camera anyway, so I’m not too upset. Except that I can’t share the picture of my beautiful sauce simmering on the stove. You’ll just have to use your imagination. And to help I’ll share my recipe.

First I used real tomatos instead of canned sauce. About 5 or 6 big fat beauties was enough for us. I peeled the skins off, sliced them in half, and removed the seeds. Then wrapped them in kitchen towels and gave them a light squeeze. (Hint, to get the skins off easier my grandmother taught me to boil them for a minute then toss them into some ice water until they are cool enough to touch) I leave them wrapped in the towel until I’m ready for them. Now for the rest of the ingredients:

  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1-2 shredded carrots
  • 1 tablespoon Italian spice blend (my herb garden was destroyed by cats this year so I had to use the bottled kind)
  • anything else you like to add

Put the tomatos and the spices in a big pot, bring to a boil then let simmer. While the tomatos are simmering in a seperate pan saute the garlic and onion in a bit of olive oil until soft. Stir in the onion and garlic then the shredded carrots into the tomato sauce. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 3 hours.

That’s the basic recipe. When Activist Daddy makes it he adds in mushroom and celery, but I tend to leave them out. And when we’re having a kid’s free dinner we’ll add in a cup to a cup and a half of red wine.

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{July 26, 2007}   Mmmmm, food love

Wanna see what I have? Take a look at these beauties.

corn tomatos

Yesterday morning I took my boys to the pond for a picnic and some fun. On the way home we drove past a sign that caught my eye. a quick turn around and we were looking over some the biggest, ripest tomatos I had ever seen. Unfortunately it was already noon so most of the good stuff had already been picked over. If I had seen them earlier I could ahve gotten some fresh strawberries and peaches. Alas, woe is me.

Organic grown vine ripeI’m still happy with what I got. A pound of tomatos and a half dozen ears of corn for $3.50. I’m thinking I could dig up an onion and a couple carrots and make some homemade spaghetti sauce. It is always better homemade. Poured over some whole wheat pasta, and maybe cook those ears of corn to go with it. Yum! My mouth is watering already. And everything except the pasta is locally grown. Now if only I could find local pasta or figure out how to make my own from scratch….

While I’m pondering how to grind the wheat in my kitchen, Crunchy Chicken has an interesting assignment for those who were reading Omnivore’s Dilema. Create the perfect meal. And when she says perfect, she means it. Everything in it has to be fresh, made from scratch, and harvested/gathered/hunted by you personally. Think you can do it? You’ve got until August 20th to plan it out. Go ahead, it’s harder than you think.

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My super yummy vegan brownie recipe is being featured over at Living Without Meat right now. Go on, you know you want to check it out. The recipe won me a copy of David Kamp’s “The United States of Arugula: The Sun-Dried, Cold-Pressed, Dark-Roasted, Extra Virgin Story of the American Food Revolution”. There are still a few copies left, so get your recipe in too.


I didn’t expect so many people to dig my brownies! Suddenly I’m finding links from everyone thanks to this recipe. LOL So I thought I would add it here too.

Activist Mommy’s Vegan Brownies

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 tablespoons cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup vegan sugar
2 bananas
1/4 cup applesauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour into a lightly greased 8×8 pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Enjoy!

Some people thought they were a bit too mushy, I say cut back on the applesauce to help. The original recipe that was given to me has 3 eggs in it but no bananas or applesauce so this is the result of me playing around with it to make them eggs-free.
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FruitAn article on Yahoo is telling me that Fruits, veggies don’t stop cancer return. It’s a short article without much detail on the study. If anyone has a link to a more detailed article I would love to read it. I have a few questions. First, how were the foods grown? Are we talking organic, chemical -free fruits and veggies. Or were the foods grown with the typical chemicals sprayed on them? And in what way were the foods served? The article points out that foods such as french fries and lettuce did not count. But there is a difference between fresh, raw peas and the mush that comes in a can. I would love to know if these kinds of differences had any effect. To me, I would assume that fresh foods grown without chemicals and served in as natural a state as possible would have a better effect on one’s health than the typical canned mush most of us are used to. A salad full of raw leafy spinach is certainly more healthy, and tastier, than the overcooked slime that most people associate with spinach.

One thing from the article that makes me wonder is this:

But they may not have been so honest about the calories they ate. The super-veggie group gained 1.3 pounds and the comparison group gained 0.88 pound, on average.

I’ll certainly come back later and add more to this.

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Living Without Meat is giving away the book The United States of Arugula: The Sun-Dried, Cold-Pressed, Dark-Roasted, Extra Virgin Story of the American Food Revolution by David Kamp. All you have to do is email her a great vegetarian recipe. I’ve already got my recipe ready to go so you better get yours in too.

  • Farm Dreams has a great list of some Good Books. Three of them are must reads fo the organic,healthy, natural food lovers. There is also a great autobiography on a small farm sitting in the middle of an urban sprawl.
  • The Portland Tribune’s Sustainable Life section features a great book that extols modest living, self-sufficiency as path to happiness. The book is described as an “exuberant celebration of one man’s attempt to live modestly”.
  • The BeHeard blog has six powerful books listed written by Enlightening female authors. These are six deeply important books for all women to read.
  • The GNMParents present some Green Summer Reading that should be on everyone’s list for this summer. From Garage Sale America to The Omnivore’s Dilemma these are definitely books to add to your “must read” lsit.
  • Comfortably Green shares Why having more no longer makes us happy,  an excerpt from Bill McKibben’s new book, Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future.

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    Everyone has been a buzz about China executing the man in charge of their food and drug safety administration. Food from China has been getting some negative press lately. You know, what with it being toxic and all. Knowing that you could be eating food shipped over from China in who knows what condition is a bit unnerving, but I don’t know that I’d kill the guy for it. Of course, like the Daily Kos points out that doesn’t mean that we can breath a sigh of relief. If anything we may be discovering that the problem is about to get worse.

    I can’t help but get a little crosseyed trying to work out the differences between the execution of Zheng Xiaoyu and the release of Scooter Libby here in the US. I mean both applied for leniency, yet one was denied and the other walked free (or close enough). I don’t even want to begin to wrap my head around the politics right now. I’m afriad I might get lost and never found again. But don’t let my fear stop you, if you want to wind yourself up in the polical maze I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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    {July 11, 2007}   Nestle = BAD!!!

    boycott NestleMy post yesterday on water bottles lead to a great comemnt and a link to a post of 13 news stories worth checking out. Scroll down to #8, a great piece on Nestle yet again making money at the expense of others.

    Many people don’t know that there is a boycott on Nestle and their products going on. One that has been in effect since 1977. The reasons for boycotting Nestle make a pretty long list. Check out What’s Wrong With Nestlé? to see for yourself. Irresponsible marketing, exploiting employees, supporting brutal / repressive regimes , and abusing animals are a few of the ways Nestle gets its kicks. Doing a full boycott of Nestle can be difficult for some, especially since they own everything under the sun. As the company grows and grows one almost has to stop going to the store at all in order to avoid the stretch of Nestle. In the future the world will be owned by Nestle and sold by Wal-Mart. *shudders*

     If you want to know more you can check out the Boycott Nestle blog, which has an interesting post up right now about the Boycott Nestle week and mothers in the Philippines being misled into think that processed formula is better than their own milk. Much in the same way women here in the US were told the same lies. There is a great post here about the according to the World Health Organization, some 16,000 Filipino children die as a result of “inappropriate feeding practices” every year.

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    bottled waterCan I say “duh”?

    It was on my front page this morning, that bottled water is bad for the earth. I’m a bit confused that more people haven’t figured this out, but sometimes I forget that not everyone cares where the stuff they buy comes from or goes to. Before I go on I’ll admit that I do have a small collection of water bottles in my fridge. I use them when I take my sons to the park so that I don’t have to buy drinks from the machine or let them drink out of the rusted fountain. Or for long car rides I’ll grab a couple bottles out of the fridge rather than stopping and buying something along the way. I have about 6 bottles, most of them at least 2 years old. Several of my friends have actually went to using glass bottles instead of plastic, in fact a lot of them use glass everything instead of plastic. However I can’t get this image out of my head of my boys breaking them over each other’s head. I know I should look into some of the better reusable bottles for drinks, I just haven’t got to it yet. I will, I promise!

     The news really isn’t anything new. Back in 2005 ABC News did a report on whether bottled water was healthier and tasted better than tap. The results came back that tap water and bottled water really aren’t that different. Except for, you know, the fuel used transporting the bottles of water, the pollution made by the factories making the bottles, the trash that piles up from all the bottles being tossed, and the chemicals leeching out of the bottles into your body. Or as the New York Times puts it The Unintended Consequences of Hyperhydration.

    I read some frightening statistics this morning on the whole bottled water company. Buying the cute little bottle of water can leave a big, gaping hole in its place. There is a link there to a great article where the statisitcs come from. It is definitely worth the read. Or you can head over to No Impact Man and see how he deals with the reusable water bottle craze. He’s got some pretty shocking statistics up also.

    In the end here are my ideas for reducing the bottled water problems:

    • Reuse the water bottles that you already have. Rinse them out, refill them, and pop them in the fridge or freezer until next time.
    • Recycle your bottles insteadof tossing them out.
    • If you find yourself in need of a drink buy brands that aren’t shipped from other countries.
    • Get reusable bottles that you can use for all of your drinks rather than buying packaged drinks over and over again.
    • Turn on the tap to get your drink.
    • Put a jap on your counter and put the money you would be spending on bottled water in there instead. When the jar is full, donate the money.

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    et cetera