Monday, December 29, 2008

Celebrate Green in 2009

Here are some great drink recipes to ring in the new year with! Check 'em out and see which ones you may serve at your party this New Year's Eve!

New Year's Eve Green Drinks!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Holiday Parties

'Tis the season this year at those festive holiday parties by bringing your favorite organic appetizer! With the selection of organic wines and foods out there the sky's the limit!

Try pairing organic cheeses with some organic pears, apples and grapes! Or surprise your hostess or host with a your favorite bottle of organic wine and a box of organic chocolates!

Here are some links for you to check out and try!

Cowgirl Creamery
Organic Valley
Diamond Organics
iGourmet Cheeses
Valley Wine & Spirits
EcoWine Company
Dogoba Chocolate
Green & Blacks Organic Chocolate

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Pear Nog— By, Cheryl Tallman and Joan Ahlers

Here is a twist on a traditional festive drink for the Holiday season that the whole family and friends will enjoy and love!

• 1 pear peeled, cored and cut in chunks
• 1 cup of egg nog (dairy or soy)
• 2 ice cubes cracked
• Dash of cinnamon

Place all ingredients in blender. Blend at high speed for 15 seconds. Makes 2-3 kid-size servings, or 1 1/2 cups.

About the authors: Cheryl Tallman and Joan Ahlers are sisters, the mothers of five children, and founders of Fresh Baby,

Friday, December 12, 2008

Passion For Pomegranates by, Cheryl Tallman and Joan Ahlers

Pomegranates are quite unique. Slightly sweet. Slightly tart. Pomegranates are fun to eat, but they do require a little work. Inside the crimson-colored fruit, you'll find exactly 840 arils. These are seeds surrounded by a sac of sweet-tart juice. The arils are held together in layers resembling honeycomb. Simply peel off the arils and pop them in your mouth for a burst of pomegranate goodness.

For those of us looking for great flavor with "open and enjoy" convenience, there are several brands of pomegranate juice on the market to quench your thirst and deliver an antioxidant punch.

At the market: Pomegranates are available fresh from October through January. Pomegranates are picked when ripe, so when you see them in stores, they are ready to eat. When selecting a pomegranate, consider that the heavier the fruit is, the juicier it will be.

Pomegranate juice is sold under several brand names. You'll find pomegranate juice in the produce or juice sections of the market. Check the label to ensure you are purchasing 100% pomegranate juice.

Storage: Whole fruits can be stored for a month in a cool, dry area or refrigerated up to two months. When frozen, the arils or juice will keep for several months in airtight containers.

The Art of Eating a Pomegranate: At first glance, the pomegranate appears a bit intimidating. Here's the quickest way to harvest the arils from the skin:

  • Cut off the crown and then cut the pomegranate into sections.

  • Place a section in a bowl of water. Using your fingers, gently separate the red arils from the skin. The arils will sink, and the white skin will float to the top.

  • Discard the skin—it is not edible. Drain the water by pouring the arils into a colander or strainer.

Note: Pomegranate juice stains fingers, clothes, and carpeting. Sitting at the kitchen table or outside is the best place to enjoy pomegranates.

Here are some creative and simple ideas to include pomegranates into your family meals:

Dressings and marinades: Pomegranate juice has an acidic, citrusy flavor, making it a great substitute for citrus in marinades and salad dressings. Simply substitute the same quantity of pomegranate juice in a recipe that calls for orange, lemon, or grapefruit juice. Pomegranate flavor is also a great complement to lamb. Here is a simple recipe that uses a pomegranate marinade that is perfect for making lamb kabobs.

Pomegranate-Marinated Lamb Kabobs

  • 1/2 cup pomegranate juice

  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice

  • 1 tsp. salt

  • 1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper

  • 1 tsp. dried rosemary or 1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder or leg, cut into 1-1/2 inch cubes

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together pomegranate juice, oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, rosemary, and garlic. Add lamb cubes and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.
  2. Thread lamb equally onto bamboo or metal skewers.

  3. Place skewers on medium-hot BBQ or a lightly greased grill pan on medium heat.

  4. Cook, turning often until meat is well browned outside, but pink in the center, about 10–15 minutes. Serves 6.

Enjoy a pomegranate soda: Start with tall glass filled with a few ice cubes. Pour sparkling water to half full. Then, fill to the top with 100% pomegranate juice. Garnish with sprig of fresh mint or a lemon twist.

Return of a classic: Many years ago, grenadine was made from pomegranates. Sadly, bottled versions today are made with artificial flavor and food coloring—no pomegranates at all. To put the pomegranate back into grenadine, make your own at home. It's easy!

  1. In a small saucepan, simmer 2 cups of pomegranate juice over medium heat and cook until reduced by half, about 7 minutes.

  2. Reduce heat and add 1 cup sugar, stirring constantly until dissolved, about 2 minutes.

  3. Let cool. Store in a tightly closed jar or container in the refrigerator for up to a month.

Along with making a great Tequila Sunrise or Shirley Temple, this pomegranate syrup is a tasty treat. Here are some great ways to use this syrup:

  • Drizzle over pancakes, waffles, or French toast

  • Stir into plain yogurt, smoothies, or oatmeal

  • Pour over frozen yogurt, ice cream, or pound cake

Great garnish:
Pomegranate arils add a dash of color, flavor, and texture to many dishes.

Try sprinkling or tossing arils in:

  • Guacamole or salsa

  • Creamed spinach

  • Fried rice

  • Salads—green, spinach, or fruit

  • Brown rice, couscous, or quinoa

  • Alfredo pasta

Pomegranate-Infused BBQ Chicken: Put some zip into store-bought BBQ sauce by combining a ½ cup of pomegranate juice and ½ cup of BBQ sauce in a saucepan. Bring to boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes. Baste the sauce over a chicken while it's baking or slather over chicken in the final minutes of grilling.

About the authors: Cheryl Tallman and Joan Ahlers are sisters, the mothers of five children, and founders of Fresh Baby ( ). They are the creators of the award-winning So Easy Baby Food Kit and Good Clean Fun Placemats, available at many fine specialty stores and national chains, including Target and Whole Foods Markets.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Bakeovers, by MaryJane Butters

One of the menu staples at my farm is a BakeOver, a one-skillet savory meal or sweet dessert that can be made with virtually any combination of fresh vegetables or fruit. It’s fast, it’s easy, and best of all, it’s homemade. The idea for BakeOvers came to me years ago, but figuring out what to call
them took a while longer. At one point, early on, I used a fancy French name (Tarte Tian), but I decided to abandon that the very moment I was about to serve one to Oprah’s chef when I was in Illinois, a guest of Lois Weisberg, Chicago’s Commissioner of Cultural Affairs. Pretending I know anything at all about French cuisine in front of someone who does made me feel silly.

I started out wanting to create a food concept that allowed people to not only spend less on their food bill, but also avoid the entire middle section of a grocery store—the section where all the expensive, dyed, denatured, and preserved foods are. People who have incorporated BakeOvers into their lives shop the produce, dairy, and meat sections of a grocery store. They fill their carts with different vegetables like jicama, rutabagas, and celeriac; they select good meats and artisan cheeses. Then they walk out the door.

I also wanted to encourage people to routinely shop their local farmers’ markets, where there’s usually an abundance of organic vegetables, or to use the zucchini and rhubarb from their own backyards. That rutabaga or fennel bulb you brought home from the market? No problem. Dice it up and toss it in. Endlessly versatile, but with a gourmet flair, my one-skillet BakeOver idea has turned people into gourmet chefs, cooking from scratch, but always, only twenty minutes in the kitchen. My idea works. It’s novel. It’s easy.

With a BakeOver, there are no limits to what you can create. For the feast on the previous page, I used parsnips, kumquats, and yams; a handful of cashews; a bit of dried purple basil; and a sprinkling of asiago cheese. My BakeOver Buttermilk Biscuit Mix made a beautiful crust that held it all together. This meal looked gorgeous, the flavor was perfect, it was organic... it was made from scratch, sort of.

Here’s how to make a MaryJanesFarm BakeOver:
Preheat oven to 425°F.

With one skillet, you’ll be able to make hundreds of different dinners and desserts. The skillet that works best is nonstick, rounded, and deep (like a wok) and about 8 inches in diameter. (What could be easier than one skillet to wash and think about?) For more details on the skillet that I recommend, see my website, It is possible to use a small cast-iron skillet (a big one is too heavy to flip), although it won’t be as deep, so you won’t be eating as many vegetables or fruits.

Choose a topping from my line of BakeOver mixes (an added bonus: my mixes include my own baking powder recipe that is sodium-free and uses rice starch instead of corn starch, which is usually made from genetically engineered corn) to match your choice of vegetables or your selection of fruit, or use the Basic Crust recipe, below.

Select fresh vegetables and fruit. If you eat dairy or meat, you can add grated or cubed cheese, meat, tofu, or any boneless fi sh to the vegetables. To the fruit, you can add a layer of cream cheese. Pick your favorites and be creative; they all work.

After you’ve chopped or sliced the vegetables or fruit, add seasonings to taste and sauté them for 3 to 5 minutes in butter or oil in your skillet over medium heat. Then roll out the dough for your topping and place it on top like a piecrust. If you don’t have time for a rolling pin, divide the dough into 8 equal balls and flatten each ball between the palms of your hands. Arrange the fl attened
balls on top of the sautéed vegetables or fruit.

Bake for 20 minutes, then just flip the contents upside down onto a plate and serve.

You can top your one-skillet dinner with any of my BakeOver mixes:
• Black Bean Corn Bread
• Buttermilk Biscuits
• Chili Batter Bread
• Corn Bread
• Focaccia Bread
• Garlic Pesto Fry Bread
• Shepherd’s Pan Bread

You can top your one-skillet dessert with any of my BakeOver mixes:
• Brownies
• Buttermilk Biscuits
• Chocolate Chip Cookies
• Corn Bread
• Scones

Or you can start completely from scratch:

Basic Crust Recipe
1 1/2 cups flour (Tip: a handy way to check for rancidity in flour is to put a pinch on your tongue—if it tastes bitter, it’s rancid. Fresh-milled is best! )
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup water

Mix dry ingredients. Cut in butter. Add water, form dough into a ball, and roll out a top crust.

Here are the foods I’ve tried so far … in a thousand different combinations.

Black Bean Corn Bread, Brownies, Buttermilk Biscuits, Chili Batter Bread, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Corn Bread, Focaccia Bread, Garlic Pesto Fry Bread, Scones, Shepherd’s Pan Bread

Artichoke Hearts, Asparagus, Beans, Beets, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celeriac, Celery, Chard, Fennel Bulb, Garlic, Jicama, Kale, Mushrooms, Onions,
Parsnips, Bell Peppers, Hot Peppers, Potatoes, Rutabagas, Sea Vegetables, Spinach, Squash, Sunchokes, Tomatoes, Turnips, Yams, Zucchini

Almonds, Brazil Nuts, Cashews, Peanuts, Pecans, Pine Nuts, Poppy Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds, Sesame Seeds, Sunflower Seeds,Walnuts

Black Beans, Coconut, Sauerkraut, Tempeh, Tofu, Tuna

Cheeses: Asiago, Cheddar, Cream, Feta, Parmesan/shredded; Meats/cooked: Chicken, Sausage, Beef, Venison; Fish/boneless/cooked

Chili Powder; Herbs, fresh or dried; Pepper; Salt; Soy Sauce; Umeboshi Paste

Use fruits like Apples, Apricots, Bananas, Blackberries, Blueberries, Cherries, Figs, Gooseberries, Kumquats, Mangos, Peaches, Pears, Pineapple, Raspberries, Rhubarb, Strawberries

Since fruits can sometimes be watery, here are a few tips:
• If using fresh sliced fruits, sprinkle at least 1/2 cup flour over the fruit before adding your
crust, depending on how much moisture is in the fruit (i.e., bananas need very little, apples
need some, and raspberries need a lot).
• If using canned fruits, drain first.
• If using frozen fruits, thaw and drain first.
• If using dried fruits, rehydrate in warm water, then drain.

For more amazing recipes and over 400 pages of wonderful farmgirl thoughts and ideas, check out: MaryJanesFarm Ideabook, Cookbook, Lifebook and to learn more about MaryJanesFarm, visit

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Recycled Bags

Instead of throwing away those plastic bags we get everything in these days, there is a woman in our office that makes really innovative bags out of them! She uses all different colors and patterns! She simply cuts the plastic bags into strips and knits them into a masterpiece! Cool way to save more than just a bag!