Zucchini Pie & Non-GMOs

Zucchini Pie!

Zucchini Pie!

October is Non-GMO month. GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are plants or animals that have been created through gene splicing techniques. It is changing the DNA of a plant. There is a lot of misinformation out in the world about this particular issue. One common misconception of GMOs is that they will allow us to feed more people in our ever growing world yet, none of the GMO traits currently on the market even offer increased yield, drought tolerance, higher nutrition, or any other benefits to consumers. And there is plenty of evidence now that connects GMOs to health problems, environmental damage and violation of both farmers’ and consumers’ rights. More than 60 countries around the world now have either significant restrictions or outright bans on the production and sale of GMOs (meaning, also, that they won’t allow US grown products into their country!). The bottom line is, once we have lost complete control of the source of our food, there is absolutely no turning back. The importance of labeling our food as “Non GMO” is so that people like me, who care whether or not my food has been genetically modified, can try to avoid consuming too much genetically modified food. Seriously, y’all. It’s all about personal choice and labeling non-GMOs means we all still get a choice. I’ll stop my preaching but you can find out much more about this issue at the Non-GMO Project’s site.

The reason I thought to tie this topic in with this particular recipe below, though, is some of my favorite vegetables are now almost impossible to find Non-GMO (especially in middle Tennessee). In the United States, unless you can be certain you are eating organic, our corn crops, beet crops, zucchini and squash crops are pretty much all genetically modified at this point. Buying fresh vegetables has never been so confusing. In the summer, it’s easy to either grow your own food or buy seasonal, organic and local thanks to our local organic farmers! In the winter, it becomes way more complicated. We now have to think about the “Dirty Dozen” and this GMO list.

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Thank God for friends, neighbors, and local farmers like Double N Urban Farm  (above) who provided us with lots of delicious organic produce this past summer!

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Now, about that recipe… I have a special place in my heart for Art Bomb Studios in Greenville, S.C. First off, one of my very favorite people in all the world, my big Sis, has a studio space there. So, I have spent lots of time here visiting her studio, attending their many art shows, or just hanging out and enjoying some food with excellent company.

art bomb 2

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On my most recent visit, our friend and Art Bomb founder Diane shared some wonderful cookbooks with me and this very special recipe of hers for Zucchini Pie. I had never heard of such but she said it was one of her very favorite recipes and I have often made Zucchini Bread so I thought I would give it a try. I am always looking for new ways to add even more veggies into our diet. Even though it is easier to find good, local organic zucchini in the summer, this pie screamed FALL to me! Next time, I might experiment with grating the zucchini instead of cubing and it just might be tasty with some grated candied ginger thrown in. It would be great served alongside apple and pumpkin pies for a Thanksgiving day spread. Leftovers were great with a cup of coffee for breakfast.

Zuc Pie 3

Zuc Pie 2

Zucchini Pie
Filling:
4 cups Zucchini, diced
1 ¼ cups Sugar (I used organic cane sugar.)
1 ½ tsp Cinnamon
¼ cup Flour
1 Egg, beaten
¼ tsp Salt

Topping:
½ cup Brown Sugar
½ cup Unsalted Butter
1 cup Flour

Preheat oven to 350. Mix all the filling ingredients together in a bowl and let rest for 20-25 minutes. According to Diane, this is a necessary step which allows the gasses to escape so you won’t get gas from eating it. While you let the filling rest, roll out the pie dough (PLEASE never use store-bought crust, it is so easy to make your own. Here is my basic recipe here) and make the topping by mixing the 3 ingredients together until crumbly. I just used my fingers. Pour filling into unbaked pie crust and then crumble topping on top. Bake for one hour.

Zuc Pie 4

Exciting music news this week: our buddy (and proud Alabamian) Jon Byrd has a new cd out!

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Jon is a wonderful songwriter, storyteller and all around great human being. His song Jack Knife is seriously one of my all time favorites. With this album, his 3rd, he decided to sing the songs of some of his favorite songwriters. It’s titled, Route 41, and you can purchase it here. He had his cd release party at the world famous Station Inn last week. If you happened to miss it, he’s playing again next Friday. You can check out all his dates on his website.

JB cd release

Out next week is the second EP from our buddy, Cale Tyson, titled, Cheater’s Wine.

Cale cd

This young Texan is already getting some good reviews for his songwriting. He’s a big fan of Townes Van Zandt and has a deep respect for the oldtimers of country music. He is in a group of young Nashville songwriters who are leading the charge to keep traditional country music alive. I love them!

Don’t forget to support our local artists and musicians as they are truly what make our communities thrive. Eat well, cold season is coming up! For more interesting articles about Non-GMOs and eating with purpose, visit our friends over at Corbin in The Dell.

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Spring Veggies & Bluegrass Underground

La Connor, Skagit Valley, & Seattle- May 2012

Wedding at Oddfellow’s Hall on Orcas Island.

Oh, I have fallen so behind on my blog posts. I have so many photos of all the things I have eaten and no time to post them all. I will attempt to get somewhat caught up here. As shown above, we have been busy with a big trip to Washington- family visits, Grant had several fun gigs, and the main reason for this trip was to partake in the amazing celebration of our dear friends’ marriage on Orcas Island. What a beautiful week to be in the great Pacific Northwest!

That trip was soon followed by another family trip to South Carolina for my big Sis’ art show at the super fun and wildly popular Art Bomb studios. Art Bomb is one of my favorite places! If you have never been to Greenville, South Carolina, you better hurry up. It is becoming a really cool city.

I’ve been super busy making tons of my mini Herbed Cheese Biscuits for all these very special events!

Herbed Cheese Biscuits
3 cups all purpose soft wheat flour (I use White Lily.)
2 Tbsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp sea salt
10 tablespoons unsalted organic butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
1 1/4 cups buttermilk (I use local Hatcher milk.)
1 cup grated sharp cheddar (Or your favorite aged cheese.)
a bunch of fresh herbs, chopped  (I used rosemary.)
Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Preheat oven to 425. Mix the salt and baking powder with the flour and the add the chilled butter in a medium mixing bowl. Work the butter into the flour with your fingertips until the butter pieces are a little larger than an English pea, but not larger than a lima bean. Mix in the grated cheese and the herbs. Work quickly so that the heat of your hands won’t melt the butter. Pour in the buttermilk and, using light pressure, fold the mixture a few times with your hands until it holds together. Do not over mix. In order to make light biscuits, it is important to work the dough as little as possible. Turn the dough out onto a floured board and fold it quickly and gently a few times until it begins to be all stay together. Sprinkle a little flour under the dough so that it won’t stick to the board and lightly dust the top of the dough so that it won’t stick to the board and lightly dust the top of the dough so that it won’t stick to the rolling pin. Roll the dough out to about 1/2-inch thickness. Grind black pepper over the top of the dough. Cut the dough into 2-inch rounds, place on an ungreased baking sheet, and bake in the preheated oven for about 14-15 minutes.

So now it is spring and we’ve been so busy trying to catch up that we’ve been making lots of salads and easy dishes that we can eat on all week while on the go. Here are a few of our favorites. Coincidentally, they all have the color red in common! This first recipe was also posted on Dolan Geiman’s blog this week but we just enjoyed some leftovers and I decided to post it here as well.  I really loved the Vidalia Vinaigrette I came up, it was nice with the raisins.

Kale & Red Cabbage Cole Slaw
1 bunch Kale (I used Lacinato for this but any would work.)
1 wedge Lemon
½ head Red Cabbage (core removed)
2 Carrots, cut into matchsticks
¼ cup Raisins
¼ cup Fresh Parsley
½ small Vidalia Onion
¼ cup Olive Oil
¼ cup Red Wine Vinegar
½ tsp (or to taste) Sea Salt
Black Pepper to taste
1 Tbsp Raw Cane Sugar

Clean the kale and then remove the thick middle veins on each leaf. Chop the leaves into thin strips and place in a bowl. Sprinkle with a little salt and squeeze the lemon over. Stir or massage the leaves with your fingers and let sit while you chop the other vegetables. Chop the red cabbage into small strips. Chop the parsley. Add the carrots, red cabbage, parsley, and raisins to the bowl with the kale. In a blender or mini grinder, blend the onion with the remaining ingredients to make a dressing and then pour the dressing over the raw vegetables. Stir and let sit for a few minutes before serving.

Grant has been grilling some and I always get tons of veggies ready to go on the grill with whatever delicious meat recipe he has created and then we use the grilled veggies all week- in salads, in enchiladas, with rice, in eggs, etc. Having those already prepared makes it so easy to have a quick meal loaded with tons of veggies!

Sometimes we even get lucky and a friend shares their fresh eggs with us! These came from our friend Nicole’s chickens! Grilled Veggie Frittata with fresh eggs is hard to beat- easy and delicious!

Next up- two beet recipes! One is super simple. The other night as I was preparing the second featured beet recipe, I had a few extra beet rounds and decided it would be fun throw those on the grill, too. I sprinkled them with a little olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Once they were off the grill, I threw some chopped lemon basil from the garden on top.

My friend and coworker, Brenda, brought a beet salad to work one day this week and gave me a taste. It was delicious and so different that I ran home and made it for us that night. I added some thinly chopped kale to it to get some greens in. This salad is loaded with goodness!  It goes like this…

Brenda’s Raw Beet Salad with Horseradish
1 cup thinly sliced Kale leaves
juice of 1 Lime
2 medium sized (or 1 large) Raw Beets, peeled, sliced in ¼” rounds, and then cut into matchsticks
3 tsp prepared Horseradish
1 tsp olive oil
Sea Salt & Black Pepper
2-3 oz Crumbled Feta

Place the kale in a bowl and squeeze lime juice over it and sprinkle with salt. Massage the leaves with your fingers or stir well. Let sit for a few minutes while you cut the beets. Mix the beets in with the kale and then add remaining ingredients and stir.

OH- and our new favorite spring beverage is this yummy hard cider we first enjoyed at The Family Wash and then found for sale at our favorite neighborhood wine shop, Woodland Wine Merchant.

I was super excited last week to see some fresh, organic rhubarb on the produce stand. I bought a huge bag and made a couple Strawberry Rhubarb Pies. My favorite version had a whole wheat pastry flour and oat crumble top.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Crumble Top
1 pie Dough Ball
3-4 stalks Rhubarb, cut in ½” pieces
1 pint Strawberries, sliced
1 cup Raw Cane Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 Tbsp Flour
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon

For Crumble Top:
½ cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
½ cup Rolled Oats
½ cup Brown Sugar
½ cup Unsalted Butter

Preheat oven to 425. Roll pie dough ball out and place in pie plate. Scallop the edges and place in the freezer for 15 minutes. I just started doing this and this helps the scalloped edges stay prettier and hold shape better once in the oven. Place rhubarb, sugar, vanilla, flour and cinnamon in a bowl and stir. Pour into pie shell. Mix the ingredients for the crumble topping in a bowl with your hands. Sprinkle the crumbles on top of the rhubarb strawberry mixture. Bake for 15 minutes on 425 and then reduce to heat to 350 and bake for another 35-40 minutes.

As I think about the hot summer that is already well on its way, one place sure to stay cool is the Volcano Room at the Cumberland Caverns. Not only does the temperature remain at a constant cool temperature 333 feet below ground, but this is one of the coolest places I have ever encountered.

I had been wanting to go for awhile but it wasn’t until my friend Lesia called and offered me a ticket to go with her to Bluegrass Underground one day back in February that I actually got there. (Thank you Lesia!) Bluegrass Underground is a radio show recorded live from the Volcano Room at Cumberland Caverns in McMinnville, Tn. Here, nature created one of the most acoustically pure natural spaces on earth. This is truly an amazing space to hear music. As a teenager and visiting a cave for the first time, I remember thinking how incredible it would be to hear live music down there. Now, at this amazing place, it is possible! This place is just magical and everyone there seemed so happy and on some sort of natural high. I guess this was also due in part to the awesome musicians on stage- Jim Lauderdale and The Time Jumpers, two of Nashville’s musical treasures.