by Heather Flournoy
Happy Valentine’s Day! I’m hoping you are enjoying our spectacular weather. It gives me hope that spring really is on it’s way! I’ve got some local news to share, and a recipe for a fabulous Raw Pomegranate and Blood Orange Juice from Cultivated Taste’s Chef Gerry. I wish I had gotten this recipe to you a little sooner so you could serve it this morning, but if you make it once, I think you’ll be serving it for special occasions the rest of your life.
This week I visited with organic farmer Betsy Ryder and we went together to visit with a beloved community friend and farmer Fuad Aziz where he is being held by Immigration Services for undisclosed reasons (most likely simply a paperwork issue). Fuad has been there for over 6 months. Many of you know Fuad from the farmer’s markets, from Organic Connection, from Cabbage Hill Farm, from Rainbeau Ridge Farm and from Ryder Farm. Fuad is an excellent farmer, a lovely person, and a valuable member of our community. Anyone wanting to write him letters or do some fundraising for legal fees can contact me at editor”AT”katonahgreen.com.
Betsy also let me know that it’s recert time for organic standards, plus time to order seeds for the year. Looking forward to all of the area farmer’s produce!
It’s time to start thinking about seeds and gardening. NYS Ag has funding for the set up of community gardens. Applications for the Community Garden Organization Capacity Building Grant Program are available by contacting the Department at 1-800-544-4501 or by downloading the form from the Department’s website at _http://www.agmkt.state.ny.us/RFPS.html_. Applications will only be accepted between March 4 and May 4, 2009, or until funds are exhausted. If you are interested in this sort of project let me know! KatonahGreen has a few ideas rolling around, ready for planting!
SunRaven’s Mindful Gardening program is still accepting applications for it’s fantastic hands-on gardening program that teaches you how to garden mindfully, plus you get to reap the harvest! Sunraven.org
South Salem Farmer’s market was packed this morning! Red Barn Bakery sold out of their wonderful pies and savory tarts, Madura Farms, New England Farms and Migliorelli farms were rocking with customers. I’m so glad that I have a place to find fresh, local produce, eggs, meat, honey and maple syrup in the middle of winter! If you are feeling a little under the weather, stop by next weekend to pick up some of Madura Farm’s own organically grown maitake mushrooms. Of course, eating organic, whole foods always helps with keeping our immune systems functioning well, and I think the simple act of connecting with the farmer and getting to know where our food comes from can help with cooking conscientiously, which should also help with our immunity. It increases the love and comfort factor for sure!
The first KatonahGreen sponsored ‘greened’ event was a great success! Over 100 people came to the special exhibit of John Diamond’s Healing Art at Dharma Yoga and Wellness in Cross River, and it was generally a wonderful weekend. Click for photos…
I got this letter from Chef Gerry of Cultivated Tastes Organic and Seasonal Catering Services:
On our last conversation, you expressed some interest in Pomegranates. I wanted to share with you a recipe for a “Raw Pomegranate and Blood Orange Soda.” I have been making this drink, and variations of it, all winter with my kids: Ellie (7) and Christian (5). We think it is a great beverage and I attribute my kids’ good health this winter to drinking fresh juices like this (no big colds so far, knock on wood). Not only is this drink vibrantly colored, raw and nutritious (as opposed to regular soda or bottled/pasteurized pomegranate juices) it is really delicious.
It is a fun family job. My kids get involved by harvesting the pomegranate seeds while I get the other ingredients ready. We then juice the fruits together and mix the pomegranate/orange syrup with the Sparkling water. The soda comes out beautiful, sometimes ruby, sometimes pink and other times magenta, depending on whether regular oranges or grapefruits are used in substitute for blood orange.
I think this is a great non-alcoholic drink to have on a Valentine’s Day celebration. Or, you can substitute a dry Champagne or Sparkling Wine for the Seltzer, it makes a delicious and romantic adult beverage.
The Pomegranate is also an interesting fruit to learn about. The word pomegranate means grained apple, and the fruit is native to western Asia and Northern Africa. According to Rebecca Wood, author of the Whole Foods Encyclopedia, “From China to the Mediterranean, the many seeded pomegranate symbolizes fecundity.” (Another good reason to share this drink as an adult beverage on Valentine’s Day). Ms. Wood also mentions that the Pomegranate promotes the production of red blood cells and is a superior source of potassium. The various antioxidant properties of pomegranates are also believed to contribute to a number of additional health benefits such as reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer. (http://www.healthcentral.com/peoplespharmacy/408/61202.html )
Incidentally, the easiest way to harvest pomegranate seeds is to remove the crown of the fruit then score it (slice just through the skin) three or four times down the length of the fruit. You then just need to peel back the skin to expose the seeds and the white membrane. With your hands gently break the fruit into smaller pieces, then remove and separate the seeds for the white membranes. This can be a messy job. I have my kids roll their sleeves up real high and I tuck a kitchen towel in their shirts, like a big napkin. Their little fingers do a great job separating seeds from membrane and they enjoy it, I often catch them popping whole seeds into their mouths and crunching away while working. Another method for separating seeds, good for working quickly and less messy, is to separate the seeds and membrane in a large bowl of cool water. The seeds float to the top and you can skim them off while the membrane and bits of skin go to the bottom of the bowl.
Raw Pomegranate and Blood Orange Soda
(editor’s note: if you really love your children/valentine, you will use all organic ingredients)
- 3 to 4 ounces light sweet Agave Nectar (raw, if available)
- 3 cups pomegranate seeds (About 2 pomegranates)
- 1 whole blood orange with zest peeled off, cut in quarters (pink grapefruit or regular juice orange can be substituted)
- 1 1-liter bottle of sparkling mineral water or seltzer
- Peel and seed 2 fresh pomegranates, try to remove most of the white membrane that holds the s eeds.
- Peel the zest off of 1 whole blood orange and cut orange into four pieces. (The white pith can be peeled as well, but juicing the orange with it on increases vitamin content of juice mixture)
- Extract juice from Seeds and Orange by using a juicer (juice can also be extracted by pureeing seeds and orange with a little water, in a food processor or blender. Then strain mixture with a fine mesh strainer to remove seeds.)
- Take raw juice extract and mix with agave to make a syrup
- Pour two ounces of the pomegranate/orange/agave syrup in a glass and mix with 3 to 6 ounces of Seltzer, sparkling mineral or dry sparkling wine or champagne.
Drink and enjoy.
I look forward to talking with you all soon! It’s going to be a great year, and it’s an exciting time to be involved in meaningful movements. The momentum is fabulous and if feels like it’s the right time to be looking at the issues of sustainability on a local level. The time for massive shifts in the way we think is here.
Be in touch. Comment on the blog, email me, write about your experiences with greening our area, and send me events for the KatonahGreen Calendar. Pass this on to your friends and family in the area. Spread the word, the time is right!