"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has"
-Margaret Mead

Friday, September 30, 2011

There's a pepper for everyone!

Wow, September always goes quickly with kids preparing and heading off for the beginning of school and colder fall weather hitting us hard with it's unpredictability. To celebrate a wonderful month of learning and plenty of dancing in the rain, we have some tasty and healthy recipes using our Harvest of the Month, Peppers! Peppers are a wonderfully diverse food and can make a dish hot and spicy or sweet and savory. They can be incorporated in to so many everyday dishes, it's hard to widdle down do our favorites. We dug up some interesting recipes for this week, including a different way to add peppers to your sandwich, as well as a slightly more involved soup that will have you heating up your mornings OR nights.

Have a good weekend, and don't forget to pick up some fresh peppers at your local farmers market!

Hot Chile Bread
We knew you could put about anything in bread, but hot chile peppers?! I'm pumped to try out this recipe! Let us know how you're loaf turns out if you make it!

1 cup warm water (110 degrees)

2 (1/4 ounce) packages active dry yeast

2 Tbsp. sugar

2 eggs, lightly beaten, 1 beaten
1 tsp. salt

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil, plus extra

4-1/2 cups flour, plus extra

1/2 each of a
red, yellow and green bell pepper, seeded and diced
4 scotch bonnet chiles, stemmed, seeded and minced

In a large bowl, mix the water, yeast and sugar together. Cover and leave for 10 to 15 minutes, or until it froths and bubbles appear on the surface.

Beat the eggs, salt and oil into the yeast mixture until combined, then add the flour and peppers, stirring.

Sprinkle flour on work surface, then knead the dough 5 to 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. If sticky, add more flour. Lightly oil the bowl and return the dough, turning so it is covered with oil.

Cover and let rise 2 to 3 hours, until doubled in bulk.

Punch down the dough and divide it in half. Form 2 loaves and place on a baking sheet. Cover and let rise 1 hour until doubled. Preheat over to 375 degrees. Brush loaves with remaining egg and back 30 to 40 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool on a wire rack before serving.

Sweet Red Pepper and Crab Bisque

You can make the bisque up to two days ahead; cover and refrigerate it after pureeing. Serves 4.

2 tablespoons butter
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 1/4 teaspoons Old Bay or other seafood spice blend
3 cups fish stock or bottled clam juice
1/2 cup diced peeled russet potato
1/2 cup half-and-half or skim evaporated milk
1 pound crab meat (or artificial substitute)

Melt butter in heavy medium saucepan over low heat. Add onion, celery, bell pepper, and seasoning. Cover; cook 10 minutes, stirring twice.

Add stock and potato; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover partially, and simmer until potato is very tender, about 30 minutes.

Working in batches, purée soup in blender. Return soup to saucepan. Add half-and-half; bring to a simmer. Mix in crab. Season to taste. Cover; let stand 1 minute.

Ladle into bowls.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Luchroom Reading

Now that we're all back to school, it really gets you thinking about what kids are getting for lunch. What nutrition do they have to get them through the day? It's something our community is working hard to improve and now we have some more great resources to help us get momentum!

Here is a great article just posted in the Atlantic discussing books on the exact topic of school lunches, how we can effect the school lunch system and what aspects need our focus most:

Back to School: Books Packed With Ideas for Fixing Bad Lunches

By Marion Nestle

Have you wanted to do something about school meals but didn't know how? Now that you have this list, there are no more excuses.


If you want to work on improving the meals at your kids' schools, much help is available. Just in, for example:

From the Center for Ecoliteracy: Rethinking School Lunch: Cooking with California Food in K-12 Schools: a Cookbook and Professional Development Guide. You don't have to be in California to take advantage of this resource. It's full of recipes and good ideas, as are other resources from the Center.

From Amy Kalafa: Lunch Wars: How to Start a School Food Revolution and Win the Battle for Our Children's Health, Tarcher/Penguin 2011. Kalafa is the writer and producer of the film about school food -- Two Angry Moms. This is her how-to guide for getting involved in and doing something useful about your kids' school food programs.

From Sarah A. Robert and Marcus B. Weaver-Hightower: School Food Politics: The Complex Ecology of Hunger and Feeding in Schools Around the World, Peter Lang, 2011. This is a collection of essays (one of them mine) from writers and thinkers about school feeding programs, domestic and international. It ends with a long list of groups working on school food issues.

And on my bookshelf from the last couple of years:

Janet Poppendieck's Free for All: Fixing School Food in America, University of California Press, 2010. My blurb says "Extraordinarily well thought out, beautifully written, sympathetic, and compelling. Anyone who reads this book will find the present school lunch situation beyond unacceptable. Free for All is a call for action on behalf of America's school kids, one that we all need to join." Poppendieck is a strong advocate for universal school meals. Me too.

Institute of Medicine: School Meals: Building Blocks for Health Children, National Academies Press, 2010. This influential committee report says what needs to be done to establish food-based (rather than nutrient-based) standards for school meals.

Kevin Morgan and Roberta Sonnino: The School Food Revolution: Public Food and the Challenge of Sustainable Development, Earthscan (U.K.), 2008. The U.K. has its own problems with school meals and so do other countries. This book presents international case studies focused on sustainability and social justice.

Susan Levine: School Lunch Politics: The Surprising History of America's Favorite Welfare Program, Princeton, 2008. If you want to understand the history of how school lunches came to be in America, here's the source.

Ann Cooper and Lisa M. Holmes: Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children, Collins, 2006. Cooper was one of the first chefs to get into schools and get fixing. This is a how-to from one who did it.

Robert W. Surles: Chef Bobo's Good Food Cookbook, Meridith 2004. I have a soft spot for this one because I've been keeping an eye on Chef Bobo's program at the Calhoun School in Manhattan for years now. He revolutionized school meals at one school and this book explains what he had to do to do that. He's still there and still cooking!

You would like to do something about school meals but don't know how? No excuses!

Image: Creative Commons.

Friday, September 9, 2011

It's good for you cooked OR raw

We hope every one had a great first week back at school! Try one of these tasty pepper recipes to help celebrate this weekend, it should be a warm one.

Did you know that while fiber an potassium decrease, the Vitamin C in a Bell Pepper can actually increase when it is cooked? Vitamin A increases in a cooked GREEN bell pepper, but decreases in RED bell peppers! Food is Fascinating!
learn more about cooked vs. raw @ http://www.livestrong.com/article/520566-does-cooking-bell-peppers-affect-the-nutrition/

Homemade Pizza

1 (12 inch) thin pizza crust (homemade or prepared, such as Boboli)

3 cups chopped bell peppers (red, green, yellow)

1 cup sliced red or yellow onion, pulled into rings

3 cloves garlic, crushed

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons dried Italian herbs

Salt, to taste (optional)

Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste (optional)

3/4 cup crumbled herbed feta cheese

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Lay crust on pizza pan or cookie sheet. In a bowl, combine remaining ingredients except cheese; spoon over crust. Top with cheese. Bake 10-12 minutes, or until vegetables are crispy-tender.

Spicy Salsa

4 cups chopped tomatoes

2 cups green bell pepper, chopped

3/4 cup chopped onion

1 cup jalapeno pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

1 1/4 cups cider vinegar

Place tomatoes, bell peppers, onion, hot peppers, salt, garlic, and vinegar in a saucepan or pot Bring mixture to a simmer. Cover, and let simmer 50 to 60 minutes. The longer the salsa simmers, the spicier it will become.

^All Recipes.com

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Mighty Pepper

This Month’s harvest we’re celebrating is the pepper! I suppose this isn’t really a single harvest, but a group of tasty foods. From sweet Bell Peppers to the spicy Jalapeño, we’re excited for a lot of cooking fun. What is your favorite kind of pepper? Do your kids eat and like peppers? We’ll have recipes that give peppers the spotlight and some to let their flavor stay more subdued.

This is a great dinner go-to I came across on the "Simply Recipes" blog:

Mom's Stuffed Bell Peppers Recipe

Red and yellow bell peppers have a very different flavor than green bell peppers. The red ones especially are much sweeter. Any bell pepper can be used for this recipe; use the type you like the best.


  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups cooked white rice (starting from about 3/4 to 1 cup raw white rice)
  • 4 to 6 bell peppers (red, yellow, or green), use 4 large, or 6 medium sized
  • 1 to 1 1/4 lb of ground beef (ground chuck, 16% fat)
  • 6 large fresh basil leaves, chopped (or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry summer savory
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground marjoram (or 2 teaspoons of fresh chopped)
  • (Can substitute herbs with other herbs such as an Italian herb mix)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Paprika


If you haven't already made the rice, start cooking the rice following the package instructions (usually 1 cup of raw white rice plus 1 1/2 cups of water and 1/2 teaspoon of salt, bring to boil, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 15 minutes.)

2 Cut the tops off of the bell peppers. Remove and discard (compost) the stem and seeds. Place bell peppers cut side up on a steaming rack over an inch of water in a large covered pot. Bring to boil, let steam for 10 minutes.

3 Heat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl mix together the ground beef, basil, summer savory, marjoram, salt, several turns of black pepper, and rice.

4 Remove bell peppers from steamer pan. Place cut side up in a pyrex or other oven-proof casserole. Gently stuff the peppers with the ground beef rice mixture. Drizzle olive oil over the stuffed peppers, along the outside of the peppers, and into the pan. Rub the oil over the outside of the peppers; it will help with browning. Sprinkle the tops generously with paprika.

5 Place on middle rack and cook for 35-50 minutes, or longer, until the meat is cooked through.

Serves 4 to 6. Serve with ketchup.


Jalapeño Hummus


  • 1 cup garbanzo beans
  • 1/3 cup canned jalapeno pepper slices, juice reserved
  • 3 tablespoons tahini
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • crushed red pepper to taste


In a blender or food processor, mix the garbanzo beans, jalapeno peppers and reserved juice, tahini, garlic, and lemon juice. Season with cumin, curry powder, and crushed red pepper. Blend until smooth.