How Bad is What We’re Eating, Anyway?

Relatives,

Food safety and security is finally on almost everyone’s radar.

I hope you’ll take time to check out Food Inc. and Hungry For Change. These marvelous young people have done a great job of providing the rest of us with the facts and opportunities to take action at home, in our communities, our countries and with our relatives across the earth.

The more we share our good works and inform each other, the sooner we’ll all have access to clean, healthy foods. … so please share this!

All My Relations
Gramma Willi

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Good Food For Everyone!

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Food Inc – The Movie
http://www.foodincmovie.com/

Food, Inc. exposes the highly mechanized north american food industry, that often puts profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of farmers, the safety of workers and our environment. The film reveals surprising—and often shocking truths—about what we eat, how it’s produced, who we have become and where we are going from here.

Hungry For Change – the Blog
http://www.takepart.com/news/tag/hungry-for-change/

Food, Inc. exposes America’s industrialized food system and its effect on our environment, health, economy and workers’ rights. Learn about these issues and take action through the Hungry For Change cafeteria and check out the 10 Simple Tips for making positive changes in your eating habits. Learn more about these issues and how you can take action on Takepart.com.

Here are some excerpts from the Food Inc. web site:

About the issues

Find organic, local foods
Sustainable foods can be found in your community by purchasing organic and/or locally grown produce and products. It’s easy to find farmers markets, Community Supported Agriculture programs, restaurants and more with the user-friendly Eat Well Guide. Simply type in your zip code to find out what’s in season near you.

Diabetes and Obesity
High calorie, sugar laden processed foods coupled with our sedentary lifestyles is growing our waistlines and contributing to serious health issues like diabetes, heart ailments and cancers. One-third of children and adolescents are overweight or obese. Tell Congress that kids should be served healthy meals, not soda and junk food.

Factory farming
Approximately 10 billion animals (chickens, cattle, hogs, ducks, turkeys, lambs and sheep) are raised and killed in the US annually. Nearly all of them are raised on factory farms under inhumane conditions. These industrial farms are also dangerous for their workers, pollute surrounding communities, are unsafe to our food system and contribute significantly to global warming.

Pesticides
Cancers, autism and neurological disorders are associated with the use of pesticides especially amongst farm workers and their communities. Learn about what pesticides are in your food and their effects.

Environmental Impact
Did you know that the average food product travels about 1,500 miles to get to your grocery store? And that transporting food accounts for 30,800 tons of greenhouse gas emissions every year?

The Global Food Crisis
Approximately 1 billion people worldwide do not have secure access to food, including 36 million in the US. National and international food and agricultural policies have helped to create the global food crisis but can also help to fix the system.

Genetic Engineering
Some of our most important staple foods have been fundamentally altered, and genetically engineered meat and produce have already invaded our grocery stores and our kitchen pantries.

Farm Worker Protection
Farm workers are the backbone of our agricultural industry, bringing fresh food everyday to our tables. They deserve basic workplace protections like good wages, access to shade and water.

Cloning
In January 2008, the FDA approved the sale of meat and milk from cloned livestock, despite the fact that Congress voted twice in 2007 to delay FDA’s decision on cloned animals until additional safety and economic studies could be completed.

….

10 simple things you can do to change our food system:
Learn more about these issues and how you can take action on Takepart.com

1 Stop drinking sodas and other sweetened beverages.
You can lose 25 lbs in a year by replacing one 20 oz soda a day with a no calorie beverage (preferably water).

2 Eat at home instead of eating out.
Children consume almost twice (1.8 times) as many calories when eating food prepared outside the home.

3 Support the passage of laws requiring chain restaurants to post calorie information on menus and menu boards.
Half of the leading chain restaurants provide no nutritional information to their customers.

4 Tell schools to stop selling sodas, junk food, and sports drinks.
Over the last two decades, rates of obesity have tripled in children and adolescents aged 6 to 19 years.

5 Meatless Mondays—Go without meat one day a week.

6 Buy organic or sustainable food with little or no pesticides.
According to the EPA, over 1 billion pounds of pesticides are used each year in the U.S.

7 Protect family farms; visit your local farmer’s market.
Farmer’s markets allow farmers to keep 80 to 90 cents of each dollar spent by the consumer.

8 Make a point to know where your food comes from—READ LABELS.
The average meal travels 1500 miles from the farm to your dinner plate.

9 Tell Congress that food safety is important to you.
Each year, contaminated food causes millions of illnesses and thousands of deaths in the U.S.

10 Demand job protections for farm workers and food processors, ensuring fair wages and other protections.
Poverty among farm workers is more than twice that of all wage and salary employees.

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Good Food For Everyone!

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Gramma Willi’s Chili

This is one recipe that I really love. Friends and family are always asking me to make it for big and small gatherings. Easy on the budget and packed with goodness, it’s best when made with love, tastes even better the next day and it freezes well. A special treat served with Corn Bread or Bannock.

2 C. dried kidney beans (substitute pinto, romano, Jacob’s cattle or other big beans, or mix 3 or 4 together)

water

1 or 2 onions, chopped

2 cloves garlic (or 2 tsp. Garlic powder)

oil or fat for frying

1/2 – 1 pound ground beef (or use TVP – see below)

3-4 T. chili powder

2-3 T. cumin

1 T. dried coriander (cilantro), or 1/2 C. fresh

1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional, add 2 or 3 times as much for a hot, spicy chili)

dash of cinnamon

large can crushed tomatoes (2 1/2 cups fresh)

1 tsp. brown sugar

2 T. vinegar (white, red wine, apple cider or balsamic)

small can peaches in light syrup (optional)

salt and pepper to taste

Soak the beans in water about 2-3 inches above the beans in a non-metal bowl for 6-8 hours or overnight. Discard the soaking water, add beans to a large pot and cover with fresh water an inch or two above the beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the beans are soft (1 1/2 to 3 hours).

Cook the ground beef (or dry fry the TVP) until nicely browned and crumbled, set aside. Sauté the onions in a little oil until soft, then add cooked beef, garlic and spices and cook covered, for 5 more minutes. Add the meat mixture, tomatoes, brown sugar, vinegar and peaches to the beans and stir well. Cover and simmer over low heat for at least an hour to let the flavors blend, stirring occasionally to prevent burning; this is a good recipe to cook all day in a slow cooker or in the oven. Serve over rice.

Suggestions: Vegetarians and Vegans can substitute TVP dry-roasted with cumin for the ground meat to give a meaty texture and lots more protein. Offer crushed red pepper or Tabasco sauce at the table for people who like hot chili.

Hints: The beans will be more digestible if you add a piece of seaweed (kombu or dulse) to the beans while they cook, or you can add 1/2 tsp. baking soda to the soaking water to make the beans less “gassy”.

Time saver: For a quick chili, use 2 or 3 large cans of cooked kidney beans.

Note: Because this is such a good winter meal, we planned to make you a video of this recipe not too long ago when Brian and I were both in Toronto… didn’t work out. We will be getting to that asap, so stay tuned!

Much love, All My Relations, Gramma Willi

Good Clean Food For Everyone!

Magic Muffins

This is a great quick recipe, perfect for those times when you’re being careful with your money or don’t feel like shopping, but need to satisfy a craving for something a little sweet. I give recipes like this the name “magic” because they can be made with a wide variety of ingredients (Magical Options) and they come out a little different every time, depending on what you have in the kitchen…. they’re a nice dessert, a great snack, a quick breakfast and a super gift for friends and neighbours… enjoy!

Ingredients

Dry ingredients:

2-3 Cups Muffin mix and a few Magical Options (see below)

Wet ingredients:

1 C water, 1-2 T cooking oil (or melted margaine or butter) and an extra cup of water

Mix your wet and dry ingredients separately, then make a ‘well’ in the middle of the dry. Add the wet mix to the well, stir it through to coat the dry mix; keep adding water a little at a time until the mixture is moistened all the way through, but not too stiff to stir. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350ºF and grease your muffin tins well. Fill to 3/4 full of muffin batter, bake for 20-28 minutes or until they spring back to the touch and smell just right.

Magical Options (pick a nice combination from below and use your imagination!):

1/2 cup shredded coconut 1/2 C raisins or currants, chopped dates, dried cranberries, papaya, apricots…

1/2 cup sunflower seeds, almonds, walnut or pecans

1 tsp. powdered ginger 1 tsp. cinnamon powder

1 plain chocolate bar, chopped (or 1/2 C chocolate chips, or 2-4 T. cocoa

1 small apple, chopped or 1/2 C blueberries, strawberries

Muffin Mix

1) Store bought mix: you can find cake or muffin mix on sale and add “Magical” stuff from your kitchen

2) Homemade mix: 3 cups flour (or 2 Cups flour and 1 cup oats) 2 tsp. baking powder 1/2 tsp. salt 3/4 C of sugar, or more or less to taste

Suggestions

Fruit Filling: Fill each muffin tin half-way and add 1/2 tsp jam, jelly or soft fruit in the middle. Fill the cups 3/4 full with the muffin batter and bake!

Time Savers:

1) Keep half of the batter in a clean jar in the fridge to make fresh muffins quickly anytime; the batter will keep for 4-7 days.

2) Make a big batch of dry muffin mix and keep it in the freezer – When you’re ready to make muffins, shale out what you need into a big bowl, add your wet ingredients and magical options and bake.

Sweet combinations:

“Fruity” explosion: Add chopped apple and a few raisins and berries to the dry mix; put a spoonful of jam in the middle of 2 layers of batter.

Ambrosia: Add coconut, ginger, cinnamon, almonds and orange essence, diced orange rind or mashed banana.

Gourmet ideas: You can blend a whole orange with the seeds removed into the wet mix, add some chocolate chips or cocoa to the dry and make a nice chocolate orange muffin!) How about lemon, poppy seed and cornmeal?

Savory Combinations: Leave out the sugar and add one or a combination of: Shredded cheese, chopped sundried tomatoes, cooked beans, diced carrot, fried minced onion, celery

Add herbs and spices – chili powder, oregano, rosemary, parsley , olive oil

Rough Times Bacon ‘n’ Egg Muffin: (you’ll never want to stop at a fast food place for breakfast once you’ve tasted these! ) Put a small piece of cooked bacon (vegetarians can use soy bacon), a bit of grated cheese and a spoonful of stirred raw egg in the middle of each muffin, fill the muffin cup with no-sugar batter (you can add a few herbs too!) and add a little grated cheese on top. Bake as usual.

Tip: Don’t have a muffin tin? Well, use a cake pan, a frying pan with a heatproof handle, small tart or other baking dishes – or get to the second hand store and find a nice muffin tin… it’s still probably cheaper than buying those store-bought muffins.

Much Love, Gramma Willi

Good Clean Food for Everyone!

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.

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.

One Pot Meals

Rough Times Cookbook Recipes

Got a Crock Pot? Roast Pan? Casserole Dish? Since civilizations began, slow cooked, one pot meals have fed busy people with hungry bellies. Simple to prepare and made from almost any combination of staple foods, grains, vegetables, beans, meat, you can pretty much use whatever you’ve got. Here’s an example of a simple vegetable stew that can feed about 8. Use a bigger or smaller pot and more or less stuff to feed more or less people. Depending on the ingredients, this stew freezes quite well.

Simple Vegetarian Winter Stew

6-8 liters water or vegetable broth
3 C diced root vegetables (potatoes, carrots, turnip, parsnip, etc.)
onion and garlic to taste (imho – the more the better!)
1/2-1 C grains (rice, millet, barley)
1/2-1 1/2 C green, fresh, frozen or canned vegetables (cabbage, chard, spinach, tomatoes, corn, green or yellow beans)
2 C cooked “legumes” beans (e.g. lentils, kidney, romano, pinto, adzuki, black turtle, navy, soy, chickpeas)
Herbs and spices to taste (oregano, parsley, savory, thyme, lemon; see curry hint below)
Salt and pepper to taste
2-3 tsp. apple cider or white vinegar (to purify and add a nice tangy flavor. You can use the juice from pickles too!)
1 C mixture 1/2 milk or yogurt and 1/2 water

Put the grains in a big pot and bring to a boil. While you’re waiting, sauté or fry onions and garlic until soft; you can add your green veggies and sauté them for a few minutes. Add to the boiling pot of grains with vegetables, beans and your choice of herbs and spices.
Simmer on top of the stove for 2-5 hours, (or put in a crock pot all day/overnight). Stir once in a while to make sure that the food isn’t sticking to the pot and that there’s enough liquid. Add water/broth if necessary.
When everything is cooked and you’re almost ready to serve, adjust your spices, add the yogurt/milk and water mix, salt and pepper and heat through. Serve with hearty bread and a big pot of herb tea or cider!

Hints: This is especially good with curry spices (garam masala, curry powder, turmeric, cumin, mustard seed, ginger, mint) – warm the curry spices in the onion-garlic sauté to enhance the flavors. This recipe is a great for using up leftovers! Use a pressure cooker if you’ve got one to reduce cooking time and retain more vitamins in the food.
Vegan options: Instead of yogurt or dairy milk, use coconut milk with a root vegetable-based stew; most excellent with curry or Thai spices. Add some marinated firm tofu, lightly browned in a frying pan to increase protein and add really nice texture and body to this dish.
Lazy/Busy Day options: Prepare the ingredients the night before, store in the pot in the fridge; in the morning, add boiling water over everything, bring to a boil, then let simmer for hours/all day (my personal favorite technique!). Put the ingredients in a big roast pan and cook in the oven; add some extra water or broth so it doesn’t dry out.
Meat Lover’s option: add diced cooked (beef and chicken are nice) to replace 1/2 or all of the beans for protein… or use both for an extra-high protein meal.
Note: This recipe was added at the specific request of legendary Toronto activist Josephine Grey.

Cabbage Soup

Cabbage Soup

A good hearty soup for cold nights, versatile too!

1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic (optional)
oil for sautéing
2-3 C. cabbage
2-3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 C. chopped tomatoes
1/2 C. pearl barley
1/2 tsp. dried dill (optional – oregano or basil will do nicely)
Salt and pepper to taste
8 – 12 C. water, (enough to fill the pot)

Sauté onion and garlic in oil in soup pot until soft, add the rest of the ingredients, water to cover and bring to a boil. Simmer for 1 -3 hours, all day or overnight. Serve with your choice of bread, crackers, biscuits, and cheese.

If you’re adding cooked meat or beans, allow them to simmer in the soup for at least an hour.

Hints: Meat lovers can add slices of cooked beef or sausage, while vegetarians can add beans and extra barley, rice or macaroni for complete protein; Lentils are especially good in this soup, and they cook quickly! Almost any vegetable tastes good in this soup. Leftover Spaghetti Sauce (leftover chili, etc.) can be added in place of the tomatoes

Chickpea Curry

Chickpea Curry

This is my son Jordan’s favorite meal. If I haven’t made it for a month or more, he’ll gently remind me, saying “We haven’t had Chickpea Curry for a long time now, Mom.” Because it’s full of spices, it keeps well in the refrigerator for almost a week.

2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic (2 tsp. Garlic powder)
oil or fat for frying
1 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp. mint leaves
1 – 19 ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
1/4 C. apple juice (or applesauce or1 tsp. Brown sugar)

Sauté the onions and garlic until soft, add dry spices and garlic, cook 2 more minutes. Add mint and entire can of chickpeas with its water; add apple juice and stir. Simmer covered for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the spices are nicely mixed into the gravy and the chickpeas are tender. Serve over rice.

Suggestion: Chopped fresh onion, coconut, raisins and sunflower seeds are delicious toppings.