Being organic should be fun as well as tasty. Today, in celebration of National Pi Day, we are making a lemon pie. You will need a glass of water and:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Zest the lemon skins, slice the lemons in half, and squeeze out ½ cup of juice.
Separate the egg yolks from the whites. Stir the yolks together with the sweetened condensed milk, the lemon zest and the lemon juice. Pour the mixture into pie crust and bake for 17 minutes. Put the lemon rinds in the glass of water and drink it while the pie is baking.
Lemons are full of nutrients and vitamins. Pi is the circumference of a circle divided by its diameter. It never changes, and it is irrational. 3.1415 is just the beginning. Wait until the pie is cool before you use it for math! But you can eat it while it is still warm. It goes well with whipped cream.
A great way to be in nature this time of year is maple syruping.
When winter is still firmly entrenched but the change in the birdsong indicates spring must be playing hide and seek just under the snow, we take our power drills, our 7/16″ drillbits, our sapsacks and spiles, and head into the sugarbush.
All maple trees, including the sugar maple and the box elder, have opposite branches. Its one good indicator that the tree is a maple tree–the only other large tree in this area that has opposite branches is the ash tree.
If you don’t have a maple tree, plant one! Maples grow quickly, which will allow you–or someone who comes after you–to enjoy harvesting the sap, boiling it into syrup, and living directly off the land.
Being in the Sugarbush is a great way to see who else is spending time in the woods and what they are eating. As soon as it warms up a bit and the sap starts running, we’ll be back every warm day over the next five weeks to gather it. The repeated trips to the forest over the next five weeks will give us opportunities to explore the gradual shift into spring, as well as collect gallons of sweet sap. Visit www.indiancreeknaturecenter.org to learn more about syruping.
Being organic isn’t primarily about doing what’s right for the environment, although it has a lot of environmental benefits.
It’s not about eating food that tastes better, because there’s no evidence to support that it universally does.
It’s not about eating food that’s more nutritious, because you can find everything from organic peanut butter cups (which are delicious) to organic soda pop.
Being organic is first and foremost a personal decision, about limiting the amount of chemicals you put in your body. What makes your yoga mat springy—Azodicarbonamide—is the same stuff that makes your conventional bread springy. Ponder that while we gear up for the second J4 24 hour organic challenge. The four of us who attempted the first one failed. Read more about that here.
All you have to do to play is commit to eating only organic food for 24 hours. It is so, so simple. But those nonorganic items are insidious, and doing the challenge together gives us a forum for learning and sharing. Try it by joining us on Thursday, February 19.
Jeff’s tip: keep it simple and extra healthy. Drink water and fast for the 24 hours.
Jerry’s tip: To avoid sticker shock, start “replacing” staples with organic items. In Cedar Rapids, organic avocados sell for $1.25 at the New Pioneer Food Coop. Hy-Vee sells their freshly made, organic bread at buy 1 get one free starting at 6pm, bringing the price down to $3 a loaf.
Jan’s tip: Make sure you have organic coffee. It’s easier to make it through the 24 hours if you don’t have to change your routine, and easier to do everything when you’re not in caffeine withdrawal.
J4 issued a 24 hour eat organic only challenge, and this is what we learned:
Most of us have some organic things in our kitchens, but not enough to make complete or typical meals.
Our drink rituals-be it coffee, tea, or soda-can be our biggest downfall.
A trip to the local grocery store to fill out the planned meals in organic fashion resulted in sticker shock and non-availability.
The challenge was on – I had to eat only organic foods for the next 24 hours. Piece of cake! Well, maybe not cake but I was already mentally taking an inventory of my cupboards. Whole grains, beans, fresh fruit and veggies, granola – healthy food, right? Upon opening the cupboard doors I realized the quinoa was non-GMO, gluten-free, 100% whole grain but not organic. The whole grain kaniwa “superfood” touted the same labels but not organic. Neither was the heart-healthy whole grain pasta, or the natural granola. Okay, on the beans that I soak and simmer before eating. No luck. I was going to have to work harder at this. Yes! Finally, an organic banana was lurking on top of the microwave. Breakfast was in the bag but I’d better get ready for caffeine withdrawal because the coffee did not qualify. Nor did the tea. So on to lunch … a large container of organic spring greens would make a lovely salad and after rummaging through my freezer I found some dehydrated cherry tomatoes from last summer’s garden. Score! Dinner was looking a bit dismal. The yummy pumpkin soup I’d made from a volunteer pumpkin in my garden was disqualified by the chicken broth base that certainly was not organic. A frozen package of squash emerged from the depths of the freezer. Yes, this was a gift from a friend who belonged to an organic CSA last fall. Things were looking up. Then I remembered the venison steak my brother-in-law gave me. Hmmmm – local but I wonder what was on that corn that deer raided from the farm fields. It will have to do. I know this deer only ate grass! Now there are some black raspberries from the wild and the jar of dried mushrooms from last fall’s walk in the woods. Whew! I will survive but I think there is a trip to a different store in my future and I am starting to plan my 2015 garden!
Tip of the Challenge: Choose wisely where you shop.
Join the Iowa Valley Food Coop to get good prices on local, organically-raised meats. Shopping on-line at the co-op saves time hunting at the grocery store. http://www.iowavalleyfoodcoop.com
Fill in the gaps at New Pioneer Food Coop. Almost everything is organic and prices are close to the typical prices of non-organic items at conventional stores. As it is a further drive for all of us, a bit of planning is essential. www.newpi.coop