Tag Archives: chocolate

Thanksgiving Recipe Linky Love / Visiting Food Banks in the Land of Milk and Honey

Some fun Turkey Day links:

  1. 59 Cheap and Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes;
  2. Mark Bittman’s Mimimalist Thanksgiving (or, at least some of it) turkey and some sides, all under THREE hours;
  3. Food safety experts say the turkey can go from FREEZER to OVEN;
  4. Kaylyn’s Low Carb Thanksgiving/Leftovers Recipes; and
  5. Bryant Terry’s ecological Thanksgiving recipes*.

And of course -holiday-friendly  Dude, Where’s the Stove? recipes:

* I have such a book crush on Bryant Terry. I received a copy of his new hit, The Inspired Vegan – I’ll have to post a review once I’ve done more than just drool over the recipes!

In the spirit of gratitude, I thought I’d share what I’ve learned about food banks this year. My town has a hotline people can call to find out what food banks are open each day. And this year, I helped a few friends visit them. By help I mean – making a phone call and driving people around. Not much, but, something, right?  It turns out that one my friends never got any sort of help from family during a rough patch. Not a penny, not a can. Nothing. It meant the world to her that I picked her up in my car, waited in line with her, and visited the food bank a few times. I had no clue it made a difference.

So what are these food banks like? One local non-profit with an ecological bent distributes food to seniors who pay a small flat fee each year, to get a weekly grocery bag full of lettuce, carrots, mushrooms, potatoes and other  veggies that are a shade past their prime, as well as a loaf of bread, saving them from the trash heap. A church distributes twenty-pound sacks of onions, cauliflowers, potatoes, carrots, and other veggies as part of a USDA program. Another place shares a mixture of canned / packaged foods and some fresh veggies as part of a food distribution non-profit.

So, anyways, I am giving thanks, to anyone who has ever given food, money, time, anything to any of these food banks.  Thank you for helping people in their time of need. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! And may we all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Photo credit: my friend who worked like crazy making turkey cake pops!

Strawberries with Melted Chocolate / Salinas Valley Farmland Pix

Quick, what if you don’t know what to make for dessert and you are feeling ultra-lazy? Melt some dark chocolate in a metal bowl floating in simmering water, wash and hull some strawberries and call it a day! That’s the recipe. I served this to some friends – spooning the chocolate over strawberries. Pretty effortless.

Strawberries with Melted Chocolate

And where do strawberries grow? you may be wondering. Why, many grow in the Salinas Valley. Coastal California dominates domestic and international strawberry production with Watsonville/Salinas crops representing nearly half of California’s total strawberry acreage.

Conventional strawberry production is associated with the potential use of methyl iodide. Monterey County, which includes the Salinas Valley, is primarily agricultural and very poor. I was surprised to learn that it is supporting a potential ban on methyl iodide since strawberries enjoy the status of being a billion dollar crop.

This chemical is the subject of enormous controversy  complete with its own government scandal at the moment. The conflict may very well subside: the Strawberry Commission and the state are studying how to grow strawberries more safely without methyl iodide. This could be good news since strawberries have the potential to be cancer-preventing on one hand but would be causing cancer on the other hand if methyl iodide is used to grow them.

Anyways, here are some pix from my recent visit to America’s Salad Bowl. Is it fair that it is so darn fertile as well as stunningly gorgeous?!!? Being there is like stepping into a Georgia O’Keeffe painting.

Organic Strawberry Plant Closeup

Rows of Organic Strawberry Plants

Ye Olde Barn

Salinas Valley Farmland, against Hills with Clouds

Chocolate Bark with Almonds (makes you look like a genius)

Bitterweet Chocolate Almond Bark

I made something like last winter to give away for the holidays but thought I’d tweak it into something less sweet, and more ingredient-centric. Some people really really LOVE it. But it’s not going to be your cup of tea if you like stuff really sweet. Because it’s not. Rather, it’s just sweet. (you can use “regular” chocolate if you want it sweeter).  And that is what drives the people crazy. Here goes! (oh and a Warning – many of the recipes on this blog are designed with an eye towards frugality – but this is not one of them).

Ingredients:

1 lb dark chocolate; (I used the 72% from Trader Joe’s, it’s $5.00 for 17 oz);
3/4 lb toasted unsalted almonds; ($3.00 of a $4.00 bag from Trader Joe’s);
1/2 cup of dried sweetened cranberries; (about 1/2 of a $$4.00 bag from Trader Joe’s);
1 cup of chopped dried unsweetened apricots; (about 1/2 bag from Trader Joe’s)*

Tools:

sauce pot;
very clean stainless steel bowl;
fork;
parchment paper;
water.

Fill a broad sauce pot (10″ radius or greater) until the water level is a few inches from the top. Simmer. Do NOT boil. Place the stainless steel bowl in the pot and make sure that the water makes good contact with the bowl. The bowl should float.  Break the chocolate into chunks, then drop them into the stainless steel bowl.

Tear off enough parchment paper to cover a cookie sheet.  Let the chocolate melt. Mix the almonds and dried fruits. Pour everything onto the paper. Allow to cool for a few hours and eventually, cover it with parchment paper. Move chocolate bark from the cookie sheet to a cutting board. Cut. ENJOY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ALTERNATE ENDING: for those of you who enjoy white chocolate, use that! Might want to use salted almonds to balance out the sweetness usually associated with white chocolate.

*I have also purchased the Mariani dried apricots from Costco, for about $3.50 for 2 lbs…they are VERY sweet and wonderful for this bark too!