Articles written by Elizabeth Fiend

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What to do with A Sh*t-Load of Vegetables

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How I Ended My Summer Vacation

Article by Elizabeth Fiend

Upon returning from my vacation I was greeted by my two charming 20-something house sitters. They did a great job holding down the fort and loving my big orange cat Hurricane. They bashfully asked me if it would be okay if they left the remainder of their CSA Farm Share in my fridge. Like many people, seems they’re trying hard to eat right but are at a loss as to how to actually pull it off.

Can you image asking ME if it would be okay to unload a bunch of organic fruit and vegetables?

I made them squirm bit and then hastily accepted. In my book, there’s only one thing better than a fridge full of organic produce, a fridge fill of free organic produce.

I quickly went through the bonanza. In the crisper tomatoes tightly wrapped in a plastic bag were immediately removed to a plate and set on the counter.

Fresh corn was out on the counter seemingly left there for days. What were they thinking, pop corn? That had to go to the composting heap. But everything else was salvageable.

The two pints of blackberries were on the verge of extinction. To save them I popped them in the microwave for three minutes. I added a touch of maple syrup to remove the tartness, which I’m assuming is why the house sitters didn’t eat them. I drained some of the dark purple, almost black actually, juice off and drank it right then. The blackberry compote would be perfect for weekend pancakes.

Giant bags of beets and carrots did seem a bit daunting as they were still covered in farm dirt. But not to worry, I have a vegetable scrubber.

There was also a bag of Swiss chard as big as a house, eggplants, tomatoes, tomatillos and the obligatory oodles of end-of-summer-zucchini.

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BUY LOCAL, or BUY ORGANIC?
Article written by: ELIZABETH FIEND

Get out to your local farmers market RIGHT NOW while you still have time.  

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Photos by Rob Kates of : Greensgrow farmer Mary Seton Corboy and the author Elizabeth Fiend.

Our food system has gotten out of whack due to the industrialization of farming (AKA agribusiness) and the globalization of food. Currently there are basically three types of places that grow our produce: big agribusiness factory-type farms, organic farms and recently, a growing movement of small local farms. It used to be a no brainer that if you wanted the best, most healthful food, and could afford it, buy organic. But since the initial burst of organic farms in the 60s and 70s, things have changed and what was a given is suddenly up in the air.

Certainly, buying organic food seems like the way to go since using pesticides is strictly a no-no in organic farming. Organic practices are kinder to the land, they promote good soil development, as opposed to agribusiness techniques which deplete the soil — and hence your food — of vital nutrients. Organic practices don’t pollute the water, the air or the workers on the farm through exposure to toxic chemicals the way agribusiness practices do, either. And a fundamental part of the organic philosophy is to treat workers fairly and pay a living wage.

But there’s a crisis in the organics world, and it’s called big business. Too much of a good thing has gone haywire. Organic food is so much in demand that there just isn’t enough to go around. The only solution has been to change farming methods, to outsource, and to go global to get the desired goods. What was once an industry of small family farms has mushroomed into a new kind of agribusiness, one doing business with Wal-Mart, Kraft, Kellogg and General Mills; one that outsources the growing of organic food to places with little regulation, like China.

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Chuck the Caterpillar. Part of the series “Fiend Garden Notes”

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Photos and Story by Elizabeth Fiend

This is Chuck. He lives out back.
Chuck’s interests are eating bronze fennel and hiding from birds.
Chuck hopes to grow up and be just like his mother a beautiful Black Swallowtail butterfly.

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I touched Chuck once. He was eating the fennel I was going to use for Mr. Fiends lunch. I moved Chuck over to a different fennel plant, one I could share. Touching Chuck was really super cool. He felt like no other thing I had ever touched. He was sort of marshmallow like. But he was alive! The way he felt stayed with me for several days. I wanted to touch him again. But I haven’t. I don’t want to stress him out. He already was going super still every time I took his picture.

Chuck will have a pretty interesting life. Having started out as an egg, he’s now a caterpillar. Soon he’ll be a pupa and then a butterfly!  WOWZER. Love, Elizabeth Fiend

Click to learn about a Swallowtail butterfly’s life cycle.

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Low Carb, Without the High Protein:

The Glycemic Index

Written By ELIZABETH FIEND

To eat healthy, eat low on the glycemic index. White bread is at 100 and the list works down from there. Foods ranked at 55 or lower are considered ‘low.’ To start out, eat at least one food that’s 55 or lower at each meal. Throw in a serving or two of something over 55 but less than 70. You’ll lose weight and be more nourished. Foods ranked over 70? Danger, danger, Will Robinson!

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The Glycemic Index could save your life — literally. It could make living with diabetes easier. Or prevent diabetes in the first place. It can reduce your risk of heart disease. It will lower your cholesterol. It will make you thinner. It might even get you laid.

The Glycemic Index is a scientific measurement of how rapidly foods release their sugars into your blood. It’s an invaluable, easy-to-use tool for maintaining or getting to a proper weight. Forget diets. Get jiggy wit’ the GI instead.

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Research on the Glycemic Index originally began as a way to pin-point the best foods choices for diabetics; to help them better control their blood sugar and therefore insulin production. But soon it became apparent that the Glycemic Index was a great tool for people to use to control their weight.

The concept was popularized in diets like Atkins, The Zone and The South Beach Diet which center around the philosophy of low-carb/high protein. The problem with these diets is that they rely on too much protein and not enough fruits and vegetables to keep you healthy in the long run. Carbohydrates are found in foods like bread, pasta, cake and fruit as these foods contain sugars. Foods that are low in carbs are fish, meat, cheese; these foods contain fat and protein. Also low in carbs are most vegetables which usually are very low in fat.

The Glycemic Index was built by sitting down 10 people and measuring their blood sugar after feeding them a specific food — and then measuring their blood sugar again two hours later. Days later, the process was repeated and the numbers were combined and averaged. So yeah, they made a list checked it twice, and found out which foods were naughty or nice.

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BASIC BAKED-TOFU

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BY ELIZABETH FIEND
Time: 1 hour, Active time: 15 min., 4 servings

Category: Vegan / Vegetarian Recipe

In America in the 60’s and 70’s when tofu was first coming into recognition by the crunchy, granola eating set the suggested preparation method for cooking tofu was very complicated. It usually involved pressing the tofu under weights and marinating it for hours before cooking. I have combined all those steps into one easy method that’s basically: dry rub then bake! Baked tofu is so good and versatile to use I often double this recipe and cook 2lbs of tofu at once.

Quick and easy uses for baked tofu:
Use baked tofu in sandwiches. Slice or dice baked tofu and substitute for chicken in any of your favorite recipes. Add it to a can of soup for an instant upgrade in flavor and nutrition. Add, with vegetables, to ramen noodles, or combine with vegetables in a stir-fry. You may want to add the tofu to your dish at last minute to preserve its texture.

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Ingredients:
1lb EXTRA firm tofu
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons ginger powder
½ teaspoon mustard powder
spray olive oil

Method:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Open tofu package — discard water.

Slice tofu on the shortest side of the block into 8 pieces.

Spray baking sheet with olive oil and lay slices of tofu on baking sheet.

Season:
Sprinkle on the garlic, ginger and mustard or your favorite seasonings.
Shake on the soy sauce (don’t overdo the salt!).
Bake:
Bake for 25 minutes or until the bottom is golden and crispy.
Slide a thin spatula under each piece of tofu and flip.
Spray light coating of olive oil over top.
Bake for 20 more minutes or until the bottom is golden and crispy.

 

 

 

 

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SUSTAINABLE LIVING TiP: Put a Lid On It.

Save Energy When Cooking by Elizabeth Fiend

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When cooking soup, stew or boiling water for pasta or rice put a lid on that pan.
By keeping the heat in you’ll use less energy to cook your food.
Bonus: you’ll get to eat sooner. Love, Elizabeth Fiend

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HOW TO SNEEZE and COUGH

A Public Service Announcement By Elizabeth Fiend

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If you have advance notice – Sneeze and cough in to a tissue and discard it in the trash immediately.

If there’s no time to grab a tissue – Sneeze or cough into your elbow. You heard it right, the correct place to sneeze is in the nook of your elbow.

The worst possible place to sneeze or cough is into your hand. When you sneeze or cough into your hand your hand gets covered with germs, then everything you touch becomes germy and the germs spread to other people.

Sneezing or coughing straight out into the air — just plain rude.

DON’T BE A JERK, SNEEZE or COUGH INTO YOUR ELBOW.

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Thanksgiving -Recipe for Disaster

Your Hostile Projectiles are No Match for My Invisible Force Field

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Written by Elizabeth Fiend

This is my Thanksgiving column. As a vegetarian you probably expect me to write an article on the horrors of eating turkey — antibiotics, hormones, inhumane factory farming. As an anarchist you may think I’m going to rail against the hypocrisy behind the meaning of the day — the slaughter of Native Americans by the white man, the taking over of someone else’s land. Or perhaps you’re hoping for some vegetarian recipes. In that case you shoulda tuned into my NPR Vegetarian Thanksgiving interview last year. Instead I’m going to talk about how to use the science of proxemics to get you through the massacre at your own families dinner table.

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Face it, most of us don’t have a picture perfect, greeting card kind of family. Chances are, this Thanksgiving weekend someone’s going to irritate you. In my opinion, a lot of fighting, arguing, grumpiness around the holidays originates from the fact that we wonder how we could possibly be related to these people. Er, I mean we’re all too close.

Close in propinquity and proximity. We don’t have our normal personal space. This is made even worse because it’s always freaking raining on Thanksgiving and you can’t escape outside for that much needed break.

Proxemics is the study of personal space and people’s perception of it. The term proxemics was first used by Edward T. Hall in 1963 in his book The Hidden Dimension. He stated that we all have an invisible force field around our bodies and it’s important for our mental health to preserve our own comfort zone. Proxemics involves all our senses. It’s not just someone standing too close to you, it could also be Aunt Rhubarb’s obtrusive perfume or Uncle Pill’s loud cell phone talking.

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Did you hear about the guy on the seafood diet?
He sees food, he eats it.

Holiday Diet Tips For Men

Written By Elizabeth Fiend

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Men worry about body image too. Try some of my tips to stay fit through out the holiday season.

The holiday season is fast approaching, and I know a lot of you men are starting to worry about how you’ll keep your figure through all that festive, stressful, eating and holiday gathering. It’s football season, too. With games on Sunday afternoon, Sunday night, Monday night and Thursday night too, that’s a lot of beer.

Body-image problems are usually considered a women’s issue. But nowadays, men are concerned with their bodies and lookin’ good too. And men have to worry not just about their weight, but things women don’t have to fret over, like back hair (which, sorry, I’m not covering in this article).

Personally, I think our body-image problems stem from the fact that we don’t see enough real people naked.

You can’t hide anything when you’re naked – except everything about you as an individual personality. I’ve been around enough naked people to discover that when everybody’s naked you can’t tell who’s a Republican (disturbing).

But your body? You can’t hide a thing about that when you’re naked.

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EVEN ALICE LIKED THE TEA
A Primer on How to Dry Herbs and Make Homemade Tea Blends

Essay and photos by Elizabeth Fiend

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Recently BiG TeA PaRtY threw a Sustainable Living “Tea Party” at Playa Del Fuego (an East Coast Burning Man) – hundreds of people stopped by to read our posters and share their own ideas on sustainability. Our homegrown and home-blended wormwood iced tea was a hit. Many asked for the recipe and how-to for homemade herbal iced teas. Here’s the low down:

I grow my own herbs, if you have some earth I recommend this sustainable pastime. Gardening and growing some of your own food (and beverages!) is a rewarding endeavor. Otherwise, dried herbs are available for sale on the internet.

GROWING HERBS:

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•    Herbs are easy to grow. Know your climate and soil — choose plants accordingly. Herbs will be perennial (long lasting), annual (just one season) and sometimes in-between like biannual and short lived perennials.

•    Make sure you really know what you’re growing because you’ll be ingesting these plants. Purchase plants and seeds from reliable dealers. Often, plants will be mislabeled at lesser garden centers.
•    In my experience it’s best to purchase perennials as plants; annuals are usually cheaper to grow from seed.

HARVESTING AND DRYING HERBS:
•    When possible, harvest herbs on a dry day in the morning to get the most impact from the plants natural flavoring – their oils.
•    Always leave at least one third of the plant intact when harvesting (except annuals, eat it all as frost approaches as it’s going to die soon anyway).
•    Since my herbs are home grown and I don’t use any chemicals in my yard, I don’t wash my herbs (as drying them is the goal) instead I dust off any dirt with my fingers and inspect for dead bugs, feathers etc. which I remove.
•    Tie the herbs in small bundles and hang them upside down in a dry and aerated location away from direct light until they’re dry.

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