Tag Archives: Marcia Davis

Vegetarian Lavash Pizza – Tuscan Style

Bill and I have been making lavash pizzas every once in awhile and it turns out they’re a yummy light dinner or shared appetizer.

When I had some leftover Tuscan Kale with Canellini Beans in the fridge, I thought: Why not put it on a lavash?

After toasting the bottom side of the lavash on a griddle, I simply spread the (warmed-up) bean and kale mixture on top, added some shredded Bulgarian sheep’s cheese, drizzled it with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper, and broiled the lavash for about one or two minutes.

You get your protein, greens, and calcium all in one healthy dish! And, it’s a wheat-free, corn-free, cow-dairy-free option that accommodates vegetarians, too!

For another vegetarian lavash pizza idea, check out my Bosc Pear and Carmelized Onion Pizza. Meat eaters may want to try my Lavash Pizza with Sausage.


When There’s a Blizzard, Make Lamb Shanks

I’m a fan of a four-season climate so when it’s winter, I love winter. I’m about the only one in West Michigan who seems to feel this way but maybe it’s because I didn’t grow up here so I appreciate it more than the locals do. I love snow. And I love being snowed in. I guess it’s just the introvert in me.

So with my freezer full of meat and a blizzard at the doorstep, I decided to plan a dinner to celebrate the snow because I knew I wouldn’t be going anywhere today.

Bill and I buy a whole lamb from Lubbers Farm and we request that our butcher packages the lamb shanks in groups of two.

Tonight’s dinner was Braised Lamb Shanks, a recipe I got from Williams-Sonoma.

Because I was using two shanks instead of six, I had to do some math to alter the recipe. And, instead of beef stock, I used lamb stock that I had in the freezer after boiling down a shoulder from my favorite recipe for lamb shoulder. It lends an herbes de Provence essence to the lamb that is delicious.

On the side we had Wild Rice with Butternut Squash [Red Onion instead of Leeks], and Corn from Bon Appetit. (No corn, because Bill is allergic.) We got the wild rice from Native Americans in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula on our trip there last summer.

Here’s the fun part about being a freelance writer: We started the evening with a bottle of champagne to toast the blizzard. Then we enjoyed some Pinot Noir (used in the lamb recipe) with our dinner, and finished the meal with some leftover flourless, dairy-free chocolate cake (substituting palm oil for butter) and raw milk ice cream with raspberry sauce–made from last fall’s fresh, local raspberries I preserved in the freezer.

Bring on the snow. All we need is a little food and a little booze, and we’re pretty happy.

The Raw Milk Debate: Which Side Are You On?

This just in from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): “Many people believe that foods with minimal or no processing like organic and locally-grown foods are better for their health. But when people choose to drink raw milk, that is milk that has not been pasteurized, the impact on one’s health can be quite severe.”

It’s a timely article from the CDC since I just published a post about making ice cream with raw milk last week. Funny that I’m not sick from it.

This is the great debate: People who choose to drink raw milk argue that cows raised on pasture grass, rather than in pens eating corn, are healthy and pathogen-free, so it’s safe. And, when you pasteurize milk, the heating process actually kills off beneficial bacteria.

Health officials claim otherwise: “No matter how clean the cows or the barn, all milk contains fecal material,” says William Keene, senior epidemiologist in Oregon’s Acute and Communicable Disease Program, according to the USA Today.

I still feel that buying shares of raw milk from a farmer I know makes all the difference.

Some might say “it’s the emergence of these cow-sharing schemes in the past few years that has prompted state agriculture officials to crack down” like what happened to a Michigan farmer highlighted in a Time magazine article. He was pulled over by state police for hauling raw milk in a state (among 23 in the country) that prohibit raw milk sales for human consumption.

Is it a health issue or is it politics? Let me know what you think!

Local Food Trends for 2011

One of my favorite local news sources, The Rapidian, from Grand Rapids, Michigan, posted an article today listing the top predicted food trends for this region in 2011. Here’s a synopsis, and it’s oh-so-pleasing if you’re into happy food:

Frugal & Quality
Back to the basics, choosing quality over quantity. I like author Lisa Rose Starner’s suggestion: Instead of going to Costco for bags of cut-up chickens, why not restructure “your budget and eating habits to buy a few whole, pastured chickens from a local grower and use the whole thing?” Then you’re supporting farmers who practices humane animal husbandry while eating good quality real food. Or, let the farmers come to you at one of the numerous local farmers markets, or the West Michigan Co-op.

Homesteading & Gardening
This year is supposed to be the most productive year for food gardening since World War II. For people who don’t know where to start, there’s a Root Camp being held at Grand Rapids Community College. Or, try a community garden. And homesteading? It’s a way to become more self-sufficient. Check out the resources available.

Traditional Foodways
Starner says more people will be learning to cook whole chickens, use raw milk, and get schooled on the old ways of preserving foods. She suggests free classes at Nourishing Ways of West Michigan . Or try your local farmer. Lubbers Farm, where Bill and I buy our meat, offers workshops, such as the Freezing and Canning one I went to.

Homegrown and Harvested Herbs
Local plants and garden are a great source for tea ingredients. And, with rising healthcare costs, medicinal herbs are taking an upward trend.

It’s the new culinary obsession. Even chefs are foraging in fields, woods, parks and sidewalk cracks for edible, wild plants.

Small Food Businesses in Household Kitchens & Bartering
Last year Michigan passed the Cottage Food Law that allows individuals to manufacture and store certain types of foods in an unlicensed home kitchen. That means you can produce and sell foods made in your home, such as cookies, popcorn, breads, vinegars, jams, and jellies. With so many artisan delights available, bartering will be on the rise.

More Vegetables on the Menu
Watch for turnips, kohlrabi, daikon, kale, and bok choi at restaurants and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).

Food Trucks?
Sarner claims she added this one “for good measure, just because it’s something everyone is talking about.” But I think she’s right. If there truly is only one food truck in Grand Rapids, operated by the Winchester restaurant, there’s certainly room for more. Check out the farm-to-trailer model, Odd Duck, in Austin, Texas. How about it GR?

Food Reporting Gets Democratic
Sarner summarizes by saying, “No more will food reporting be relegated to ‘White People Food.’ We can expect more people to use technology and platforms like The Rapidian to engage and have critical conversation about what they eat.  Expect the coverage to take on different flavors than the pallid ‘foodie’ persona that’s been the lead face of our food over the past decade.”

I think she’s on the mark. Can’t wait to see what summer brings!

Nothing to Sneeze At: Main Dishes for People with Allergies

There’s a little project I’ve been working on during the past six months with a few good and talented friends. And because many of my blog readers suffer from food allergies–or live with people who suffer from them–I thought I’d share the fruits of our labor: I just published my first cookbook and it’s called Nothing to Sneeze At: Main Dishes for People with Allergies.

In the last several years that I’ve lived with Bill, who is allergic to wheat, cow dairy, and corn, I learned how many unnecessary ingredients are in processed food. I also learned how to make substitutions for the foods he can’t eat: bread, milk, butter, tortillas, most cereals, waffles, cookies, crackers, yoghurt, ice cream, cheeses from cows, breadcrumbs, semolina pasta–and even regular ketchup–just to name a few.

Adapting and creating recipes–many of which are posted on this blog–simply became a fun challenge as I cooked in the kitchen. So I thought: Why not share the recipes with people who suffer from food allergies? Then others can see how easy it is to make delicious meals without sacrificing flavor or nutrition.

If you’re interesting in buying your own copy of Nothing to Sneeze At, please visit Lulu.com. I hope it offers hope and inspiration for those who suffer from allergies at the table!

I Love Blueberry Pancakes in January

With local blueberries, of course.

Thanks to my friend Lois, who told me her technique for freezing blueberries, I preserved a huge batch of them last summer to keep on hand during the winter months.

Since Bill and I have oat cakes just about every Sunday morning, we’re now able to add some much-needed (this time of year in particular) antioxidants to our batter. We just take a handful of berries out of the freezer the night before and throw the thawed  berries into our batter.

It’s a delicious way to bring July into January and savor the summertime flavors of berries.

Celery Root and Parsnip Bisque

Today I found a celery root in the fridge and remembered a delicious Celery Root Bisque recipe I made once from the November, 2005, issue of Bon Appetit.

However, the recipe calls for a russet potato, which I didn’t find in the fridge, or anywhere in the house. And with temps in the single digits, plus a very snowy day ahead of me, I opted not to worry about the potato.

Instead, I substituted a few parsnips for the potato.

Since my celery root (also known as celeriac) was just under a pound, I cut the recipe in half. I got this celery root, along with the parsnips, last fall from Visser Farms and have been storing them in the fridge. These root vegetables keep well for a long time. When you peel the celery root, it’s amazingly earthy, as if you just dug into the garden in the middle of summer.

Other adjustments, besides using parsnips for the potato, include:

  • Dried thyme for fresh (use half the amount)
  • Omitting the cream due to Bill’s cow dairy allergy and adding a little rice milk

All you do is saute the celery for a few minutes, then add the shallots and saute a few minutes longer.

Add the celery root, parsnips, stock and thyme.

Simmer 40 minutes. Puree the soup in batches. Add some rice milk for smoothness. Season with salt and pepper.

This soup is a nice accompaniment to Lamb Chops with Cumin, Cardamom, and Lime, braised Lacinato kale, and White Beans and Onion Confit.