Saturday, June 12, 2010

To Market, To Market

We prefer quality over quantity here at The Artists' House.   It's something that I am always trying to be more aware of, as hard as it is. This motto goes beyond things, it's also a motto we follow very strictly when dealing with what goes inside our bodies. We strive to buy quality foods that may cost more, but in the long run nourishes our bodies on a deeper level.

My grandfather grew up farming in Southern Illinois. In the late 70’s an article featuring his organic farm was published in the National Geographic magazine. Unfortunately, my grandfather was a bit ahead of his time and couldn’t make ends meet; as a result he lost the farm. While this was very difficult on my family, to this day, my grandparents garden, growing over 50% of their own food, as well as selling to the local grocery stores. Because I was so close with them, I too grew up with my hands in the dirt. I am genuinely passionate about the importance of supporting local farmers.

(Note:  If you haven't read any of Michael Pollan's books and you would like to learn more about the food you consume, I highly recommend giving them a read.  These two books changed my family's eating habits and made us more aware of little changes that really go a long way.)

And so today I'm going to share just a few tips, recipes, and personal stories with you concerning "quality food"...

Great ways to get quality food:
1.  Grow your own food
2.  Buy from local farmers
3.  Shop organic when you can

Grow your own food...
Josh and I love gardening; watching a seed turn into a beautiful plant that produces food, that we can then make wonderful meals from. It's been a bit rainy and cold here the past couple days and so Josh made this soup yesterday afternoon, and can I just say it was AMAZING!  The best Tom Ka Gai soup I've ever had!  The snow peas, cilantro, and green onions came from our garden; unfortunately our carrots aren't big enough yet.  

Thai Tom Ka Gai Soup Recipe:
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- 2 cans (13.5 oz. each) coconut milk
- 4 hand torn karrif lime leaves
- 3 tbs fish sauce
- 1-2 tbs hot chili sauce
- 1 tbs mirin (rice wine vinegar) substitute with white wine vinegar or omit if needed
- 2 tbs grated lemongrass (about 1/2 stalk)
- 1 can bamboo shoots
- 4-5 slices of ginger root (about 4 tbs) (traditional recipes use galangal root if you can find it)
- 1 lb organic diced chicken (tofu is a great substitute)
- 3 carrots sliced lengthwise in 2-3 inch lengths
- 4 green onions diced
- 2 cups snow peas
- juice of 2 limes
- 8-12 oz. thin rice noodles (optional)
- 4 tbs cilantro
(Note: we keep lemongrass, karrif lime leaves, and ginger in our freezer at all times)

Combine chicken stock and garlic in large sauce pan and heat until boiling.  Add next 8 ingredients, through ginger root, and return to a gentle boil for about 5 minutes.

Add chicken, carrots, green onions, and snow peas.  Return to a gentle boil and cook until the chicken is cooked thoroughly, about 7-10 minutes.  Add lime juice and rice noodles and cook until noodles become soft.  Garnish with fresh cilantro to taste.

Buy from local farmers...

Our favorite nightly read these days is "To Market, To Market" by Anne Miranda.  Going to the local farmer's market is a great family activity.  Or why not consider signing up with CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).  A lot of CSA programs even offer quality meats and cheeses.  And when eating out, support local restaurants that buy from local farmers.  

Shop organic when you can...

Since organic food is expensive and sometimes hard to find, when in doubt I recommend following what's called "The Dirty Dozen".

Remember that is isn't an all or nothing situation.  I encourage you to start small and do what you can, for the good of your taste-buds, your body, our farmers, and our mother-earth. 


Katie said...

Inspiring post. I have a massive head cold & hubby is now making me Tom Kai Gai. It is one of my favourites, we do it vegetarian & I put my rice in when it is ready to be eaten. Thank you for your weblog.

The Artists' House said...

Yes, I actually prefer mine with tofu, but my hubby likes it with chicken. I hope you liked the recipe. It's funny cooking something and then making the recipe after. I hope we didn't forget to mention any of the "secret" ingredients, lol.

I hope you're feeling better! Thanks!

Kristina P. said...

I have to say, even though I kill plants just by looking at them (that pea plant is probably dead now), I do wish I had room for a garden.

I would buy organic if it wasn't so darn expensive!

The Artists' House said...

Well I guess we all have our talents; I'm able to grow vegetables, and you Kristina, you can make an entire room laugh, lol :)

Camille said...

I'm a huge advocate of farmer's markets! Not much of a gardener myself (I don't have much luck with seeds) but I can totally support people that do grow food! :)

The Artists' House said...

That's awesome Camille! I think our farmers really need the support!

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