Eggplant Lasagna

 

A guest post from Kerri:

Eggplant: From India With Love

eggplant2

My first encounter with the “exotic” eggplant was at Summerfest (you know‚Ķthat fairly large music festival that takes place on Milwaukee’s lakefront). Two words: Eggplant Fries! When I used to attend the festival quite regularly every summer, my first culinary stop was always at the Venice Club to grab an order of eggplant fries with marinara dipping sauce! Yum! These days I try to enjoy my eggplant, now a frequent star in my weekly meal menu, with a little less deep-frying ūüėČ

The eggplant, a member of the nightshade family and a close relative of the potato and tomato, was originally domesticated in India from wild nightshade and, botanically, is classified as a berry, the seeds of which contain nicotinoid alkaloids (yep‚Ķa relative of tobacco‚Ķdon’t worry‚Ķyou have to consume 20 pounds of eggplant to consume the equivalent of one cigarette’s worth of tobacco).

The eggplant is called an aubergine in England, a far more descriptive name for this versatile berry/vegetable than our somewhat confusing “eggplant”. So where did this crazy name come from? Apparently, some varieties cultivated in the 18th century resembled goose or hen’s eggs, and now, some of these white and yellow varieties that earned the eggplant it’s unusual moniker are back! I was lucky enough to find a white variety to plant in my garden this year (pictured here with the more common purple variety).

A great recipe reminiscent of those Venice Club eggplant fries I enjoyed way back when (and continue to enjoy in moderation) is the tasty Any Meat Eggplant Lasagna recipe below. This is an excellent lower-carb version of traditional lasagna that will satisfy your comfort food cravings as the temperatures fall this Fall.

eggplant

Any Meat Eggplant Lasagna

The Ingredients:

2 T olive oil + 1 tsp olive oil for brushing

2 eggs

2 T water

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 cup Panko breadcrumbs Italian seasoning to taste

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

2 large eggplants, peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch round slices

1 pound ground meat of your choice (turkey, beef, pork, chicken, soy meat substitute)

48 ounces tomato sauce

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

The Recipe:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush 1/2 tsp olive oil on each of two baking sheets.

2. Whisk eggs and water together in a small, shallow bowl

3. Season the panko breadcrumbs with Italian seasoning to taste (You can also purchase Italian seasoned panko breadcrumbs or regular breadcrumbs. I just happened to have unseasoned panko on hand)

4. Mix the parmesan cheese, seasoned breadcrumbs, salt and pepper in a separate small, shallow bowl.

5. Dip eggplant slice in egg mixture and then press into crumb mixture. Tap off excess crumbs and place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with all slices.

6. Bake eggplant slices at 375 for 40-50 minutes, flipping slices halfway through baking to make sure each side is golden brown.

7. Remove eggplant from oven and increase temperature to 400 degrees.

8. Heat remaining 2 T olive oil in skillet and stir in ground meat.

9. Brown meat until crumbly (about 10 minutes) and drain any excess grease.

10. Stir tomato sauce into ground meat.

11. Place 1/3 of the baked eggplant slices on the bottom of an oiled 9 by 13 pan.

12. Pour 1/3 of the tomato meat sauce over the bottom eggplant layer.

13. Sprinkle 1/3 of mozzarella cheese on top of the sauce layer.

14. Repeat steps 11-13 two more times (you should end with a mozzarella cheese layer).

15. Bake uncovered at 400 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes

16. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

17. Enjoy! (perhaps with a nice glass of red wine ;))

Champagne Grapes!

These little beauties are called champagne grapes not to be confused with the wine grape. They are also called Corinth grapes. They are very tiny, seedless and absolutely delicious! If you haven’t tried them in your life you are missing out! They are only available a few late July through the few weeks of August and are grown in California. They get their name of Champagne grapes because someone took a picture of them next to a glass of champagne for a magazine once. I guess you could say they are photo celebrities.

corinth grapesThis week’s grapes are coming from Three Sisters Organic Farm in California. You can read more about them on their website here.¬†

 

The Case For Organic Corn and Organic Corn Products

Corn2_sm (1)

 

It’s sweet corn season and we often times get questions like “Why in the world is organic corn so expensive?” Or, isn’t corn bad? ¬†Well, there is a big difference between organic corn and conventional corn. And about GMO’s well, we are glad you brought the subject up! To weigh in on the subject is one of our resident food bloggers, with a little info on GMO corn and how to avoid GMO’s in our food source.

 

Written by Food Blogger Christine Fontanin:

 

A GMO (genetically modified organism) is an organism (i.e. plant / food product) where DNA from one organism is extracted and introduced into the DNA of a completely unrelated organism.  This is not a hybrid.   The unknown long term effects of GMOs are not completely known, but are quite controversial in the scientific and natural-minded community. In 2012, 88% of corn grown in the United States was genetically modified (USDA).

 

GMO corn has been genetically engineered to kill insects by creating its own pesticides (Bt toxin) and so that you can spray it with Round-Up (i.e. glyphosate herbicide)¬†and it won’t die it…. totally freaky. ¬†I’ve personally grown corn and I know how susceptible it is to bugs.¬† You can go to bed with beautiful rows of corn growing in your garden and wake up with it being totally decimated from caterpillars.¬† I also have seen Round-Up used on weeds and know how utterly effective it is at killing.

 

The Bt Toxin¬†in the GMO corn is ingested by the insect when it takes a bite of corn. ¬†The toxin binds to the digestive tract of the insect and pretty much puts holes in its digestive system. ¬†This allows the bacteria (e. coli etc.) from the insects guts into its blood stream and kills it from sepsis (University of Kentucky Agriculture). ¬†Since the Bt toxin in GMO corn is genetically engineered into the corn (i.e. this is not a spray application on the outside of it), the toxin resides in every plant cell and tissue of the corn all the time. ¬†You won’t be able to wash it off, instead you eat it. ¬†Round Up (glyphosate herbicide) has been claimed by several scientists to be associated with¬†a range of health problems and diseases, including Parkinson’s, infertility and cancers (Entropy). ¬†Roundup and other toxic synthetic chemical pesticides are banned in certified organic farming. ¬†Organic farmers cannot knowingly plant GMO seed.

 

Simply put, GMO¬†corn freaks me out. ¬†GMO soy and GMO sugar is a close second.¬† The reason being is that corn, sugar and soy are in the vast majority of everything you buy in a box. The latest reports are that insects and weeds are becoming resistant to the GMO corn anyways (Yale), but Monsanto is hard at work creating new and stronger varieties of GMO corn to repel these now “superbugs.” ¬† At some point, I¬†feel like¬†something that is so toxic to other forms of life may very well be toxic to all forms of life; including humans.¬† The fact that you can buy 12 ears of conventional corn for $1.00, but 1 ear of organic corn is at least $1.00 is telling.

 

Beyond the obvious corn, corn chips and corn tortillas, here is just a partial list of products that contain GMO corn or GMO corn products such as corn syrup, corn starch and baking powder (usually leavened with corn starch). ¬†Love your tortilla chips? ¬†We do! ¬†Just switch to¬†blue corn chips instead cooked with sunflower oil (as of now, blue corn is non-gmo).¬† Even conventional meat isn’t free from the GMO stream. Enjoying your steak?¬† Chances are, unless it is organic or grass fed, the cow was fed with¬†GMO feed.¬† Even Cheerios, one of the first foods given to many babies is made with corn starch, so it is most likely a GMO food. ¬†The only true way to best avoid GMO corn and corn products are to (1) buy organic and (2)¬†stay out of the center aisles at the grocery store. In the produce department the only known GMO items right now are corn, soybeans (also known as edamame), and some versions of zucchini.

Stop Eating Fast Food (how to do more in a little time with less money)

 

“Stop eating fast food. Stop it now. Most fast foods contain some ingredient linked back to Monsanto.¬†What do you say? Who will go with me? Who will peacefully refuse to comply?

Who believes that all of us together can create a foundation the next generation is proud to stand on?”

-Lucinda

 

In response to Lucinda’s call to action to stop eating fast food, Christine Fontanin from christineiscooking.com and lowcarbcrock.com gives us some of her tips to help make home cooking easier.¬†

Eating GMO Free

March against Monsanto and GMOs are all the buzz lately.  A GMO (genetically modified organism) is an organism (i.e. food product) where DNA from one product is extracted and introduced into the DNA of a completely unrelated plant or animal (this is not a hybrid). For example, GMO sweet corn is genetically engineered to be herbicide resistant (roundup ready) and to produce its own insecticide (Bt Toxin). The unknown long term effects of GMOs are not completely known.

The List:

Common GMO ingredients come from soybeans (soy, soy flour, soy lecithin), corn (corn syrup), canola, sugar from sugar beets (food or drinks with sugar that isn’t cane sugar), cotton / cotton seed oil, Hawaiian papaya, and some zucchini squash.

Completely avoiding GMOs can be confusing because they are not clearly labeled. Only USDA-certified organic products cannot intentionally contain GMOs. So, you may think from looking at “the list” that avoiding those few products should be easy, but it is not. Many forms of these products make their way into processed and fast foods and it is not always easy to tell they are in the food from looking at the ingredient list.

So How Can We Avoid GMOs?

1. Buy organic

2. Avoid processed and fast food.  Cook for yourself with ingredients you know are non-gmo.

3. Grow your own food.  Plant organic seeds and take control of your food supply.

Sounds easy right? No, I know its not…. I live in the real world. I understand the time and money demands on people and families today are tremendous. It is so easy to go to that drive thru or restaurant or buy those pre-packaged foods. But, here are a few ways I ease the work load and cost of cooking at home; once a month cooking / freezer cooking and using a slow cooker.

Once A Month Cooking (OAMC) / Freezer Cooking:
I almost always ‚Äúcook once and eat twice‚ÄĚ or three or four times! Once you have all of your ingredients out and your prepping them, it takes very little extra effort to make additional meals. You would be surprised what you can freeze. For example, if you are going to go to the trouble of making a lasagna, make 3 lasagnas and freeze the 2 extra. On a busy day, you just pop it in the oven. If you google ‚Äúhealthy freezer recipes‚ÄĚ tons of options come up.

Here are some of my favorite freezer recipes I routinely cook in bulk. I use my freezer to stock up on organic products when I find them at a good price.

Soup: Soup is like a magic food to me. It is nutritious, inexpensive, delicious, easy to make and freezable for later. I usually make a pot of soup at least once a week. Soup is a great way to use up any veggies or meats you have leftover from the week. Here is my basic recipe for Vegetable Soup. I also like to OAMC cook Lasagna, Turkey Breakfast Sausage, All Natural Beef Taco Meat, Spinach Meatballs, Minestroni Soup, Spaghetti Sauce from fresh tomatoes and Make Ahead Pesto (great on fish, chicken or pasta).

Risotto¬†(creamy rice): ¬†Mushroom, squash, asparagus, spinach… the potential varieties of risotto are endless. You can saute any diced veggies in olive oil, garlic and onions and make veggie sauces for risotto. These sauces can be made in large batches and freeze very well in small 1 or 2 cup portions. ¬†They are wonderful added to cooked risotto and take it from a side dish to an entree. ¬†Risotto is traditionally make with aborio rice, however, I (and my relatives born and raised in Italy) just use plain long grain rice. ¬†This is a great budget friendly easy meal. ¬†Buy bulk organic long grain rice and you can make it for pennies per serving.

Breakfasts:  I take care of breakfasts by making and freezing large batches of homemade all natural fruit filled pancakes, waffles, and muffins for the kiddies. It is a great option on busy mornings.

Snacks:  Our favorite snack is organic popcorn made in our old-timey air popper.  It is quick, easy, inexpensive and free of everything but organic corn.

Slow Cooker (aka Crock Pot)
My slow cooker is pretty much my life saver when it comes to home cooked meals. It is my go to kitchen device that saves us from fast food. I literally have hundreds of crock pot recipes that are all no precooking and no pre-processed ingredients.  Most of the recipes are about 6 ingredients or less and gluten free. My favorites easy slow cooker meals are: Zucchini Soup, All Natural Taco Meat, Shredded Beef Tacos, Lemon Garlic Asparagus, Asparagus Soup, Minestrone Soup, Mexican Pot Roast, Spaghetti Squash, Tomato Garlic Green Beans, and using my slow cooker for kid-friendly quesadilla fixins.

Again, like all recipes, you can tailor these to your lifestyle, budget and dietary needs.  You can stretch your meat budget by adding lots of veggies from Brewers Organics.

Grow Your Own!

swiss chard

I really enjoy gardening. It is a hobby of mine. I have a very small yard and I am restricted on space so I do a lot of container gardening. I’m not¬†going to lie, sometimes I think it is more expensive to grow your own food then to buy organic. However, growing your own makes sense when the item is either very expensive to buy and/or it is easy to grow organically. My favorite items to grow are tomatoes, cucumbers, fresh herbs and rainbow swiss chard. Swiss Chard is a great container vegetable. It grows just about anywhere and is a nutritional powerhouse that can replace spinach or greens or lettuce in just about any recipe. You can read more about growing it and cooking with it¬†here.

These are some of my favorite ways to save time and money when home cooking. Please share your own tips in the comment section below! 

Happy Cooking!

Christine

 

Schedule Update!

Due to a few supply logisitics we are changing our schedule immediately. The menu and your ability to make swaps will now happen on Mondays instead of Fridays and deliveries will be done on Fridays instead of Wednesdays.

You will have until Wednesday nights at midnight to make changes to your Friday order.

So- this week the menu will go up on 12-03-2012 and your delivery will happen on December 7th.

We appreciate your patience and understanding and look forward to continuing to bring you top notch organic produce.

 

Please let us know if you have any questions and have a wonderful fruit filled day.

 

Lucinda and the Brewers Organics Crew.

Happy Train Cards!

It‚Äôs Happy Train month, in case you¬†didn’t¬†know! If you¬†aren’t¬†sure what that is you can read all about it here. In short- October is a month that I try extra hard to spread and share happiness to everyone I can. I put little things in your boxes to spread a smile or two in the hopes that you will pay it forward.

This week I am sending you a card! In the world of cell phones, face crack, email and text messages I think we often times forget that special connection that happens when we take the time to write someone a note or a card (A real one- in our own handwriting).  So write a loved one, a note to your child, or maybe a love letter to your significant other. Or, do what my little Fiona does and write one to yourself occasionally! Oh, and when these cards are done spreading joy- they can be planted and flowers will grow. Go ahead, double dip in happiness!

Choooo Chooo! All aboard! The Happy Train is leaving the station, everyone hop on!

Sunshine and Happiness!

<3 your produce lady,

Lucinda

Get on the Happy Train!


October is a rather sad month for me.

October 7th will mark 16 years to the day that my father took his own life, leaving my mother with 6 children to feed and a farm she couldn’t pay for. That was a very sad time for my family, and happiness was hard to come by.

I don’t know a lot about depression, but what I do know is that for those that are depressed, happiness is not an emotion that frequents them.

I can’t bring my father back or erase the sadness that surrounded that time of my life, but what I can do is to try to share and show and spread as much happiness as possible. I can put fuel into the happy train of others! Who knows, maybe it might make a difference in someone’s life.  So, I thought I would bring y’all in on the fun. Spread some happiness with me, as so many of you already do, week after week with your sweet emails, generosity with the Hope House, and your patronage.

With that said, in the month of October I will be putting gifts in your boxes to help spread smiles.

I would tell you what you are getting, but that would ruin the surprise.;-)

Eleanor Roosevelt said: “Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give.”

Flowers for you!

Hey there Brewers Organics’ Foodies.

If you got a box on Wednesday, then you got edible flowers. (From the heart for Valentine’s day. Now, you can’t say you didn’t get flowers!!! ) Wondering what to do with them now?

I add them to water and freeze to make pretty ice cubes. However, I saw this idea: http://www.kitchencaravan.com/content/floral-homemade-pasta (making them into pasta) and loved it!!

Enjoy!

Cheers and Happy Eats!

Lucinda

Newsletter 02-10-2012

FUN THINGS!

Valentine’s day, as you know, is Tuesday. Yay! Hearts and flowers, and expressions of love. My daughter, Fiona, and I have had a blast getting ready for this ooey gooey, lovey dovey, holiday. She has been making cards for her classmates that say “you are the apple of my eye” and tying them to the stems of apples with ribbons. I have also been working on a special gift – for all of you! ¬†Check your box on Wednesday- I hope you love them. I am really bad at keeping secrets, so please don’t ask me any questions. ūüėČ Check facebook or our blog after your delivery to know what to do with your special, from the heart, gift. ūüôā

ITEM OF THE WEEK!

I just want you all to know that you are amazing! It may not seem like a big deal, leaving out a toothbrush or a bar of soap, but to those without, it means a lot. One act of kindness, does a world of good.

This week “item of the week” is shampoo. Got some to donate? ¬†Leave it in your cooler and when we drop off your produce we will pick it up. We will send it over to the Hope House to be distributed to homeless.
RECIPES!

Cooking something up in your kitchen that I should attempt to replicate or be jealous of? Shoot the recipe over to me, and if we feature it on our blog we’ll give you Rockstar status AND a free small box of produce.

CELERY STALKING!

We invite you to celery stalk us on our blog (www.brewersorganics.com/blog). If you aren’t getting an order but you want to stay up to date on this newsletter, you can find it there. And if the pesky little thing we call weather causes drama in the fields, and we have to make change to the contents of the boxes, you can read about it on the blog.

COOLERS!

If you aren’t going to be home during the day on Wednesday, don’t worry, even if there are flurries. ¬† Just leave a cooler out for us to put your produce into. When you get home, you will have organic deliciousnes on your door step.

DELIVERY INSTRUCTIONS:

Oh, Brewers Organics Foodies. You are the apples of my eye, you make me smile until my face hurts, I bless your pea pickin hearts. With that said: If we need to swim a moat, slay a dragon, knock down castle walls, and save a princess to get you your delivery, we will do our best to make that happen. However, if you give us a heads up we can make sure to put on our hero gear on your delivery day. So please- update your delivery instructions if you live behind iron gates, have a doorman, a front desk, entrance is hard to find, we need a code to get into your building, or have a rooster that might chase us.



Cheers and Happy Organic Eats!

Lucinda
hello@brewersorganics.com
www.brewersorganics.com