So, call me a little bit crazy but I’ve added one more commitment to my slightly over-committed life: I joined a book club.
I’ve joined book clubs in the past and it seems that they always disband before anyone ever finishes the first book. We always have the best of intentions, but life gets in the way. But this particular book club is shaping up to be the real deal. This club consists of 3 ladies (myself included), and we meet twice a month(ish), depending on schedules. We drink wine, eat food, and we actually discuss the contents of the ‘assigned’ book! We’ve only been a club for a few months now, and we are just finishing our second book: Barbara Kingsolver’s ‘Animal Vegetable Miracle’.
Overall, I really enjoyed the book. I’ve read a lot of food books in my day, so the ideas presented in the book weren’t necessarily new to me. I’ve already committed to eating seasonally and locally – to the best of my ability and with the resources that I have available. With that being said, my one critique of the book would be that most of us aren’t in a position to do what Barbara Kingsolver and her family did. We aren’t famous writers who inherit a large family farm; nor do we have the freedom to drop our lives, move to a farm, and live off the land for a year.
So while I applaud Kingsolver for her locavore ways (and the awareness she brings to national food issues), my committment to the local food movement will look quite a bit different. I may not have a farm, but I have a little duplex with a side yard…and I will grow as much food as I can in that little yard! I will shop at my local farmer’s market. I won’t buy fresh tomatoes in December (partially for environmental reasons…mostly because they taste awful!).
Really, at the end of the day, I think responsible eating is about doing the best that you can with the resources you’ve been given. I know that I’ve been blessed with a lot of resources, and I am grateful for that. I am so fortunate to live in Portland – the mecca of all things local, sustainable, organic, etc. I know that not everyone has these resources at their fingertips and so I would encourage you to just do the best you can. Start small and just see where it goes.
Two years ago, my husband and I made the decision to stop eating fast food. I can honestly say that one decision changed everything. We didn’t eat much fast food to begin with, but this one decision forced us to be much more thoughtful about our meals. We had revelations about why a taco at Por Que No? (a local taqueria, known for their sustainable practices) costs so much more than a taco at Taco Bell. It was suddenly so evident: This is how much real food costs. Since that time, our eating and shopping habits have changed a lot. It all started with that one decision. And I know we still have a long way to go, but this is a process. You just do the best you can.
So, while most of us may not have the resources of Barbara Kingsolver, many of her suggestions are still applicable to the average American. I absolutely love that she includes recipes in the book (written by her 19 year old daughter!) and I’ve made quite a few of them. My favorite recipe from the book is one called Eggs in a Nest. The name of the recipe is quite literal: the eggs are poached in a ‘nest’ of wilted greens and are served over a bed of brown rice. This is a wonderful way to showcase hearty winter greens, and it makes for a quick, satisfying, and cheap (!) midweek meal.
**Oh, and before I forget, I’ve been meaning to post a link to this lovely seasonal produce calendar from Cottage Industrialist. I printed one off and hung it on my fridge, and it serves as a wonderful reminder as to what is in season!
EGGS IN A NEST
Adapted from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
1 large bunch of greens, roughly chopped (Chard, kale, mustard greens, etc.)
4-6 large eggs (1 per person)
1 small can fire roasted tomatoes (*Note: in the winter, when fresh tomatoes are terrible, I live by Muir Glen Organic canned tomatoes. They are amazing. For this recipe, I used their Fire Roasted Tomatoes with Green Chilies.)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small yellow onion, diced
Salt & pepper, to taste
Dash of red chili flakes
1.5 cups brown or wild rice
Cook rice according to package directions.
Meanwhile, in a large pot or skillet over medium heat, sautee the onions until translucent. Add in garlic, cook for a couple minutes more. Add in canned tomatoes and juices, mix to combine and bring to a simmer. Add in salt, pepper, and chili flakes (to taste).
Add in all of the greens and cover the pot with a lid. Keep heat at medium or medium-low and stir occasionally, to make sure all the greens are cooking down & wilting.
Once the greens are tender (5-10 minutes), turn the heat down to low/med-low. Using a spoon or spatula, create small round indents (aka “nests”) in the greens. Gently crack an egg into each “nest”, being careful not to break the yolk (I usually crack an egg into a small bowl or cup and then gently lower the egg onto its ‘nest’). Cover the pot/skillet and let the eggs poach in the greens & juices until the whites have turned clear (about 5-6 minutes).
Gently scoop out a healthy serving of greens & one egg per person. Serve over rice.