Carrielynn’s Mum’s Rhubarb Crisp

Carrielynn is an exceptional young woman.  An accomplished singer and rap artist, fearless activist for her community and nation and super-great culturally astute mother, she offered this great recipe to celebrate the first rhubarb of the season. I really like the suggestion to toss in a little chopped apple… think I’ll also try a handful or two of blueberries from my freezer, the flavor goes so well with rhubarb.  Then, as Carrielynn says … BOOM!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Carrielynn’s Mum’s Rhubarb Crisp

12X12 pan, lightly greased
Oven pre-heated to 350 F

Crumble – mix into coarse crumbs with a fork or pastry blender: 
1C flour (gluten free or regular or whatever you like)
1C 9 Grain Oats
¼ C Real Butter
¼ C firmly packed brown sugar
1 Tsp of cinnamon

Custard (separate bowl) –  whisk together until creamy: 
1 egg
Splash of cream
1/4 to 3/4 C raw cane sugar

10-15 Big stalks of rhubarb, coarsely chopped
(you can add a tart apple to mix it up)

Mix dry ingredients, melt butter and add in while stirring with hands until the consistency is even and crumbly
Chop the rhubarb small and place in the pan, pour in the custard and lightly mix with hands, press down the rhubarb so its even
Spread on the dry crumble and press down so no rhubarb is exposed

Place in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, let the custard set for at least 20 minutes before eating.

BOOM!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Hint: Carrielynn says that tossing some crushed almonds into the crumble makes it extra good!
Tip: For diabetics, you can replace the sugar with stevia sweetener.

2010 is here… Happy New Year!

Now that I survived the last decade (and come to think of it, nearly 6 decades), I know that one of the most important things that I’ve learned is to be grateful.

I am grateful that I am part of the communications revolution – 10 years ago it wasn’t so easy to set up a blog and reach millions!

I am grateful that the big economic collapse didn’t mean we’d all starve, and that it woke so many of us up to what’s really important in life… living a good life!

I am grateful that my last new Year’s resolution (to do and be the best that I can) taught me two important things. First, to take it easy on myself and lastly, to pay far less attention to unsolicited opinions and advice from others, however well meaning that they may be. In the end, knowing that I did the best that I could within my own strengths and limitations, is always enough.

Happy New Year – Enjoy the ride!
Good Clean Food for Everyone!

All My Relations,
Gramma Willi
December 31, 2010

Good Clean Food For Everyone! The Food Security Revolution and Environmental Health

by Gramma Willi

Relatives – like so many of us, I find myself more and more pleased that being an activist has become an easier road to walk. Victories for human rights and for the Earth increase in number and significance and we hear about them sooner than we used to. Everyone’s talking about green jobs. Our hopes are up, we may actually have an activist leading the free world – Yes We Can! It’s quite a time to be a part of it all, isn’t it?

One of my favorite stories about the changes in public attitude towards environment and health concerns feeding our children. So much has changed in my lifetime. As a young mother, it was almost impossible to find, let alone afford, organic baby food; it was tricky to find a place to breast-feed a baby in peace. These days, parents can find a wide variety of organic baby foods and formula in almost any supermarket; my grand-babies were all breast-fed (even the twins!) and fed organic baby foods. Now that the monopolies have more “natural” offerings available to consumers, are we happy with the production? Is there a next step that we need to take?

IICPH (International Institute of Concern for Public Health), whom I have worked with for many years, has a stellar reputation for providing independent, thoughtful analysis and corroborating community environmental health concerns. Most of our works for communities report on contamination of the air, land and water. It has always given me sadness when we report arsenic, tritium, mercury, lead or other highly damaging pollution where people have food gardens or farms. Food discussions at our youth and elder gatherings took on sad notes when realizing how very careful we must be where we grow our food, where it comes from and how it is prepared. We can make sensible choices when we consider our health.

The good news is, learning to choose, grow and cook good food provides not only sound environmental education, but when applied, benefits everyone’s health and saves people money! The truth is out there, people want clean food and groups like IICPH are uniquely positioned to help them to learn about it. Never has environmental health education been more timely and important… and good food is a delicious place to focus.

Perhaps the silver lining of the economic collapse is that the cards are on the table. Finally, the voices of old hippies and tireless activists are welcome and needed. The public continues to become informed and grows in wisdom as the next generation begins making its mark in history books and business reports. Let’s fill their bellies and minds with good things.

Remember that I love you

All My Relations,

Gramma Willi

~~~~

Gramma Willi has been working with IICPH since 1997. Expressions of her dedication to the clean food revolution can be found at http://roughtimes.ca and http://YouTube.com/roughtimescooking.

~~~~

Here are a few more resources to get you started if you want to do more about clean food:

http://www.foodsecurity.org/
The Community Food Security Coalition (CFSC)
is a non-profit 501(c)(3), North American organization dedicated to building strong, sustainable, local and regional food systems that ensure access to affordable, nutritious, and culturally appropriate food for all people at all times.

http://www.toronto.ca/health/tfpc_index.htm
Toronto Food Policy Council
, 277 Victoria Street, Suite 203, Toronto, Ontario M5B 1W1l: Wayne ““Taking control of our food” Roberts, Project Co-ordinator: 416-338-7937. Friends of Toronto Food Policy Council is on Facebook.
Their aim “is a food system that fosters equitable food access, nutrition, community development and environmental health.

http://www.foodsecuritynews.com/Resources.htm
The Food Security Network of Newfoundland and Labrador
have a great page full of links to action going on all over!

Please email to Gramma Willi if you know of any more independent and reliable resources to help our Rough Times mission:

Good Clean Food For Everyone!

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Rough Times Cake

Rough Times Cake

Watch a video of this recipe at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_aMmz_nhhE

This is a simple and not-too sweet cake, sometimes called “Depression Cake”. So easy to make, it is free of eggs or milk, so it’s vegan friendly, easy on the budget and delicious.

Ingredients

2 Cups Raisins

1 Cup Brown Sugar

2 Cups Water

1/3 Cup Margarine

1 tsp Cinnamon

1/8 tsp Nutmeg

1/8 tsp Allspice

2 Cups Flour

1/4 tsp Salt

2 Round Tbsp Baking Powder

Sift dry ingredients together or stir well. Mix the wet ingredients in a big cup or bowl, add to dry mixture to make an easy-to-stir dough. Pour into a greased and floured 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Bake at 350ºF for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean and dry.

Suggestions: While it’s still warm, spread a thin layer of corn syrup over the top for a nice glazed, elegant-looking cake. Freezes really well if it’s wrapped twice; since it’s such a big cake, I usually freeze half for later). Add nuts, raisins, currants, sweet cranberries, chopped apples or coconut to the dry mix… use mashed bananas, a little less water and make it a banana cake… forget the spice and add chopped strawberries, peaches or blueberries… use less water and a beaten egg or two for a rich texture – there’s no limit when you use your imagination!


Baked Beans

Home Style Baked Beans

Click here for Baked Beans Video recipe

An all-time, slow-cooked favorite with country and city folk alike. It’s amazing how many cultures claim to have the best baked beans – and how mouths can be fed from one little bag of dry beans – this is Rough Times Cooking at it’s finest! To make sure that you get complete protein without eating meat, add a “grain” food to the meal (flour-bread/cookies/pie/cake, rice, corn, etc.). I like to serve mine with Corn Bread or Bannock.

2 cups navy beans soaked in water to cover 3-4 in. above beans, overnight
1 cup molasses
1/2 C brown sugar
1 tsp. Prepared mustard or 1/2 tsp. Mustard powder
1-2 strips of bacon (or small piece of pork fat) – optional
1 tsp. Salt (added after cooking, so the beans cook nice and soft)

Discard soaking water from beans, add water to cover and cook until almost tender (Hint: adding boiled water at this stage speeds up the cooking.)
Add rest of ingredients, mix well, and place in an oven proof dish. Bake all day or overnight if you can, or at least 3-4 hours. Serve with home made bread or bannock.

Options: Vegetarians can skip the meat entirely and add a little soya sauce, smoke flavoring and/or tomato sauce. Keeping kosher? Use smoked turkey for that nice smoky flavor. Yellow eye or other small, light colored, mild flavored beans work well too.
Hints: Some folks add a teaspoon of baking soda to the soaking water to make them less “gassy” – the beans will cook quicker, but tend to get mushy. I like to put a little piece of dried seaweed (kombu, kelp or dulse) in the soaking and cooking water, and remove it before baking – I find that it makes the beans more digestible too!
If you don’t have time to soak the beans, add them slowly to boiling water, keep them at a rolling boil for 15 minutes, simmer until tender.

SPIN-farming – Let’s Grow Our Own Food

The info in this article for city and town folk who want to buy local or farm their own Small Plot Intensive (SPIN) food is a beautiful gift – they’ve even considered how to minimize pollution! I hope that some of you take the opportunity to try it out… and share your stories with us.

Good Clean Food for Everyone!

SPIN Farming and Soup Service Are Yielding Profits

by Elaine Morin; Alternatives Magazine, 35:1 (2009); www.alternativesjournal.ca.

What happens when food production moves to the city and downsizes in the process? Wally Satzewich and Gail Vandersteen of Wally’s Urban Market Garden, a Saskatoon farming operation, are showing that some 30 backyard plots totaling less than half a hectare can be as profitable as, and more ecologically sustainable than, their old eight-hectare agribusiness in rural Saskatchewan. The program they’ve developed, Small Plot Intensive or SPIN farming, aims to maximize crop yields of smaller gardens. “The key,” Satzewich says, “is to produce high-quality niche crops.” The enterprising duo grows garlic, spinach, salad greens and other produce, which they sell at city markets and to local restaurants. Reduced transportation costs and less food spoilage help boost profits, as does their low overhead since they have no tractor or paid work crews. Another advantage of co-opting backyard gardens is that many urban homeowners don’t have time to till, and will often rent their backyards for little or no fee.

“One acre [less than half a hectare] is about the right size for one couple to farm,” says Satzewich, who has no plans to expand. “You can always intensify production, if necessary.”

With the majority of Canadians living in cities, urban agriculture makes sense. Shrinking the distance between food production and markets means fewer trucks on the road and thus fewer carbon emissions. At a time when most food travels vast distances to get to the table, local food production can drastically cut the need for processing, packaging, refrigeration and hauling. And local, just-produced food can be fresher too, an important benefit.

Market gardens scattered throughout the inner-city, on abandoned lots for instance, can improve air quality and help offset urban heat buildup. Captured rain and wastewater, if deemed safe, can be used in place of treated municipal water, and organic solid waste can be composted to fertilize crops. And then there’s the issue of food security. More local agriculture reduces dependence on uncertain global food and fuel supplies.

Small-scale farming has its challenges. Urban gardens compete with municipalities for freshwater supplies. Rain and wastewater can help, but must be free of toxins. Abandoned lots must also be cleared of contamination before food crops are grown. And uncertain tenure on abandoned lots and borrowed backyards makes long-term projects a challenge. Satzewich’s and Vandersteen’s success comes from competence, dedication and hard work, but what they produce is a drop in the bucket beside the capacity of massive agribusiness. Still, city gardens have a long precedent and small plots are plentiful. Toronto’s Annex Organics, for instance, uses a warehouse roof for its garden.

A commercial market garden within Calgary would be a boon to Carmie Nearing’s business. A professional chef and owner of Spoon Fed Soup Company, Nearing uses local organic ingredients as often as possible, but with growing demand for her soups, it’s not always easy to find suppliers. In the last five years her company has burgeoned from a tiny home operation to a viable, thriving business. “At each step of the way, I’ve thought long and hard about how to expand,” says Nearing. For instance, she’s kept her original mandate to minimize the size of the area she services. She delivers her soup three times a week, up from once weekly, and only to inner-city Calgary addresses. And on one delivery day, soup will one day be shuttled to downtown customers via cargo bicycle.

In the beginning, Nearing developed recipes in her inner-city home kitchen, peddling them to friends and neighbours. She then borrowed a catering company’s kitchen, producing soups on weekends and delivering Mondays. Since then, she’s moved to a brand new kitchen. As the scale of her operation has increased, Nearing has worked hard to uphold the same principles of sustainability. For instance, she still uses one-litre canning jars, and the $1 deposit encourages a high rate of return. Though she’s careful about expansion, Nearing expects to make her soups available at two local food markets.

Can local, small-scale food producers replace massive agribusinesses and factory-food manufacturers? For a generation habituated to fast-food joints and big-box supermarkets, and with little knowledge of gardening, it’s hard to imagine. Yet the benefits of local food production are difficult to ignore. Interestingly, Satzewich and Vandersteen have been welcoming interns to their operation, some of them families with young children. Interns provide manual labour in exchange for learning the techniques of small-plot farming. Perhaps for the next generation, a major shift is on its way.

Elaine Morin is a Calgary-based freelance writer and recipient of the 2007 Brenda Strathern Writing Prize. She has been frequenting inner-city markets since she was four years old.

Start your own SPIN-farm! Check out http://www.spinfarming.com for do-it-yourself guidelines and examples of several SPIN cities and neighbourhoods. Visit http://www.cityfarmer.org and http://www.metrofarm.com to plug into urban agriculture communities from coast to coast. And if you live or work in Calgary, don’t forget to visit http://www.spoonfedsoup.com to order a healthy and sustainable soup-lunch.

Adrienne’s Summertime Potatoes

Adrienne Maree Brown is, imho, a legendary young activist. She gathers young, old, straight, queer, academic and street savvy people and gets them rocking to change the world for the better – for EVERYONE! When I saw her really-cheap-delicious-and-easy-to-make potato recipe, I thought, what a great way to start implementing my master plan – introduce people who are making great change on my blog! Check out Adrienne, the Luscious Satyagraha‘s blog at: http://adriennemareebrown.net/blog/

Ingredients:
Potatoes
Manchego Cheese (substitute cheddar, jack, havarti or your favorite)
Salad dressing – or Olive oil (corn, sunflower, canola etc.), Salt and pepper
Slice potatoes hella/very thin and layer them in a “boat” made of aluminum foil with manchego cheese and your favorite salad dressing (Adrienne’s was a homemade nutritional yeast dressing from the the Hollyhock Cookbook, super yummy), or olive oil, salt and pepper. Pinch the edges of the aluminum foil so it forms a tightly enclosed package.
Set the package on the edge of the grill while you cook your meat and/or veggies. After 10-15 minutes, peek inside to see if the liquids are boiling, the potatoes are getting transparent as they cook and the cheese is melting. At the end, put the package(s) in the center of the grill till the bottom blackens, then dump it in a bowl and serve.

Delicious!

Gramma Willi’s suggestions: Why not layer in some chopped sweet peppers, cooked onion and a few herbs (parsley, basil, or dill should be nice)? Meat lovers could add ham. For breakfast, you could break an egg or two on top after the potatoes are soft . Hmmm – using the barbeque for breakfast, why didn’t I think of this before? See how inspired I get when I listen to our youth?

Good Clean food for everyone!

Ginger Recipes – Good Old Time Medicine

My mother taught me to use ginger to chase away colds and flus and to soothe upset stomach and moon-time pain. I love ginger because it makes your breath smell good, its nice hot taste sure does warm up the body and it makes me and my family feel a lot better. Chopped fresh ginger is a great addition to stir-fry meals and curries.
Recently, my pal Tahnee said she’d like it if I put some of my ginger recipes on this blog.
I did a little research first. Among other sources, I found a great article at the University of Maryland web site (http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/ginger-000246.htm). Many reports stated that ginger is a natural antibiotic, helps digestion, gas, nausea, headaches, arthritis and menstrual pain and is a time-honored remedy for cold and flu symptoms. I also read that for children under 2 yrs. and people on blood thinners, you should ask your doctor before using ginger as a medicine. There were a few reports that using too much ginger will cause stomach ache or diarrhea.

African Ginger Drink
I learned this recipe from a strange and beautiful man that I met in the produce section of a supermarket. We somehow ended up discussing that year’s flu epidemic and prophecies. He claimed that this recipe will cure even the new antibiotic resistant strains of flu. This is what I cook up when a really bad cold or flu hits our friends or relatives; I’ve had many requests for more and for the recipe. Look for ginger that has a nice smooth skin; if it’s wrinkled, then it’s old – still usable, but fresh is definitely best.

a fist-sized piece of fresh ginger (1/2 to 1 lb.)
6 quarts of water – enough to fill a Dutch oven (small stew/spaghetti pot)
2-3 C sugar
Peel the ginger with a spoon (use a small knife to remove lumps) and cut into thin slices. Put the ginger and sugar into the pot, bring to a boil and simmer for 4-6 hours, let cool. By this time, you should have a nice, hot-spicy, golden-brown “juice.” You can drink this as is; I drink a half cup a few times a day for colds and flus. If you want a thick syrup, boil it down some more until you can eat it by the spoonful – good for kids.
You can also mix it with orange juice or put it in cake and cookie mixes. My favorite, put a few tablespoons in a regular cup of tea with milk – tastes like India Chai tea – yummy!

Quick’n’Simple Ginger Tea
My Mom gave me this for tummy aches. It works well. Powdered ginger isn’t as strong as fresh, but it will do when it’s already in the cupboard and you don’t want to run to the store.

1/2 tsp. powdered ginger
1 tsp. sugar or honey
1 C. freshly boiled water
Mix in a cup and drink while warm.

Candied Ginger
Also known as crystallized ginger, it takes a few days to make, but it’s worth it because you get a nice juice to drink and use in teas while you’re waiting for the candy to be ready!

2 fist-sized pieces of fresh ginger (1 to 2 lbs.)
6 quarts of water – enough to fill a Dutch oven (small stew/spaghetti pot)
2-3 C sugar

Peel the ginger with a spoon (use a small knife to remove lumps) and cut into thin slices. Put the ginger and 1 C sugar into the pot, bring to a boil turn heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, let cool. Drain, keeping the ginger water in a jar to use in tea, etc.

Put the ginger back into the pot, fill it with fresh water and add 1 C sugar. Bring to a boil, turn heat to low and simmer partly covered for 20 minutes, let cool and let stand overnight.

Bring the pot to a boil and add 1 cup sugar, stir until dissolved, turn heat to low and simmer simmer partly covered for 20 minutes, let cool and let stand overnight.

Bring the pot to a boil, add 1 cup sugar, stir to dissolve and turn heat to low and simmer partly covered for about an hour, stirring often so that the mixture does not burn or stick to the pot. The liquid should be quite thick and almost like a syrup when it’s ready; if it’s thick when runs off the back of a spoon, it’s done. Let cool.

Put the slices of ginger on a rack to dry (6-10 hours or overnight). Coat the dried pieces with sugar, store in an airtight jar; keep the remaining syrup for tea, baking, etc. Should last a few months without refrigeration, longer in the fridge. Eat as a candy, suck and chew it slowly to get the most benefit.

Tips: I travel with candied ginger and use it for upset stomach, if I get symptoms of a cold or flu and to prevent infected people from passing on their germs to me.

A few drops of essential oil of ginger is a sweet-smelling addition to a bath. It is good and warming, helps to chase the chills out of the body and soothe aches and pains.

Corn Bread

Quick to make and soooo good! Make it instead of popcorn for movie night, serve with chili, soups, stews or toasted for breakfast, lunch or snacks. A big hit with old folks, children, teens and the growing numbers of people known as “foodies.”
The following recipe gets you started into the wonderful world of corn bread; you may find yourself surprised at the long history of corn bread, from ancient, old-fashioned and traditional peoples to the settlers in native lands who expanded the uses of this amazingly simple and very nutritious staple food of the ages.

Watch how to make Corn Bread on video!

1 C. corn meal
2 C. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2 T. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 C. sugar
1 1/2 –2 C. milk or 1/2 milk 1/2 water, or part canned or powdered. (Hey you vegans! – you can replace the milk with plain water and 2 T. cooking oil.)

Mix dry ingredients together, add milk or water, stir well, adding enough liquid so that the mixture is not too thick, like a cake batter. Pour into a greased 8 x 8 inch baking pan (or pie tin) and bake 35-50 minutes until done (a toothpick or knife inserted in the middle comes out clean and quite dry). Cornbread should be nicely browned on the sides, but not too brown on top. Great as is, buttered, and with jam for breakfast and snacks.

Suggestions: Add canned corn and/or jalapeño peppers for a Mexican flavor; make it Italian-style with a few finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes. Add soy flour to the dry mix or grated cheese to the wet for extra protein. For corn cake, increase the sugar, add an egg or two, mix in a little oil or vegetable shortening, beat the batter very well until smooth. I love using frozen berries in my corn “cake-bread” in wintertime. Tastes really great toasted and buttered; try it under poached eggs. Mini cornbread pizza slices? Garlic corn bread? – why not?
Hints: Instead of plastic, use a clean kitchen towel for wrapping leftover corn bread to keep it soft. You can make a double batch and freeze one for later. Great for pot luck suppers and a really nice gift for your favorite friends and neighbors.

Corn kernels remind me of nature’s generosity – so many seeds from one corn cob! Corn plants will grow well with good earth (shred and add last year’s stalks to the earth – nitrogen!) and some care and give you many more seeds to feed many more people. The best whole brown corn husks can be harvested and dried – pull back the husk, tie and hang until the seed kernels are hard, then twist them off and store a non-plastic bag or envelope – want to grow your own popcorn or grind your own cornmeal?
Good seed growing and saving information is easy to find – e.g., check out the Long Island Seed Project. Share and trade your seeds to keep them strong.

~ Sometimes I pray that it becomes impossible to contaminate corn;
I am careful about it. ~

!Vegan! Smothered Tofu “Steak”

This Nolan family favorite is great served over mashed potatoes with some whole grain buttered garlic bread and vegetable side dish. It also tastes great over rice. Be sure to use lots of onion.

1 lb. tofu
2 tsp. ground cumin
soy sauce to taste
2 – 3 onions, sliced in thick strips
1 clove garlic, sliced
1 inch slice of raw ginger, peeled and chopped (or 1/2 tsp. powdered)
oil for cooking
salt and pepper to taste
onion powder to taste
1T chili powder (optional)
1 1/2 – 2 C. water
3-4 T. flour or cornstarch to thicken gravy

Cut tofu in 1/2 inch thick slices and drain by placing slices on a plate with another plate on top, weigh it down with a pot of water and let sit for 15-20 minutes, pour the water off, repeat. Marinate the tofu in cumin and soy sauce, set aside and turn it occasionally.
Heat a frying pan, add some cooking oil, and sauté the tofu until well browned. Set aside.
Cook onion and garlic and ginger in the pan until soft, add salt, pepper and onion powder and heat though. Add water to cover and a little soy sauce (to color it nice and brown) and simmer for 10 minutes. Mix flour or cornstarch in a cup or jar with a fork with cool water and slowly add to onion mixture a little at a time, stirring until it thickens. Adjust seasonings, add the tofu, stir gently and simmer for another 10 minutes. Serve.
Options: Adding a little red cooking wine to the gravy, then serve over flat noodles for a meatless version of “Beef Burgundy.” Use sesame or peanut oil for extra warming flavor. Pepper lovers will want to grind it fresh over each portion before serving. Sauté diced red or green pepper with the onions to “kick it up” a gourmet notch. (… so there, Emeril, see if YOU can feed 4 people this inexpensively!)
Freezing Tofu: The tofu will not need to be drained if you freeze it ahead of time and thaw for cooking; to freeze fresh tofu, slice and place on a tray in the freezer for a few hours, transfer it to a bag or freezer container and use as needed.