Real Food

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Pickled apples

Almost every food-stuff, whether foraged, hunted or harvested, remains fresh for a brief time and then becomes inedible unless preserved. Since humans need to eat all year round, however, the survival of thousands of pre-refrigerator generations depended on how well they could preserve food – by making it too dry for microscopic critters (grains, spices, herbs), too acid (vinegar pickles), too alkaline (limewater eggs), too salty (sauerkraut, bacon) or sweet (jams and syrups).

Even in our refrigerated-and-microwaved era, most of the foods we eat – cheese, pickles, jams, butters, yogurt, salami and many more – were originally ways to keep food during the lean months. Unfortunately, these bits of food culture, carried over from a more self-sufficient age, don’t convey the amazing breadth of foods that could be preserved -- most modern people know peanut butter, blueberry jam and dried parsley, for example, but not walnut butter, dandelion jam or dried nettles.

Pickles make perhaps the best example. Most of us grew up with pickled cucumbers, and possibly with beets or onions – but in other eras or parts of the world, humans pickled a much greater variety of foods, including mushrooms, meats, and fruits. Some cookbooks from the 1800s carried recipes for pickling apples, and old radio programs from the Depression promoted it as a cheap and delicious way to get vitamins all year.

We have several apple trees here, and I’ve been experimenting for the last few years on adapting a variety of old recipes, and let me tell you, the results are my new favorite food ever. This recipe of mine will have a particularly strong flavor, and the apples will be best used as a garnish – or you can tone down the recipe to your taste.


• 1 pint canning jar
• 1-3/4 cups of cider vinegar
• 1/2 cup of water
• 1/2 cup of sugar
• 1 tsp of salt
• 2 tsp of lemon juice
• 2-3 crisp apples, peeled and diced
• 1/4 cup sliced of ginger
• 5 black peppercorns
• 3 cloves
• 3 cardamom pods
• 1 whole star anise
• 1 dried hot pepper


1. First, take the cider vinegar - I also used some of the parsnip vinegar I made, from the wine that didn’t work out. Mix in the water and lemon juice.

2. Stir in the sugar and salt, along with the peppercorns, cloves, star anise, cardamom and chili.

3. Heat it on a stove until it is simmering.

4. Peel the apples – you can use the peels again for making jam.

5. Take the remaining flesh, core it and dice it into cubes about half an inch across.

6. Slice the ginger thinly, as with a mandolin.

7. Drop the diced apples in, with layers of ginger between them, and stuff them in almost to the top.

8. Pour the now-boiling vinegar solution over the apples and ginger slowly, so as not to spill any, and fill it to the top.

9. Seal the Kilner jar. At this point you could set them in a hot bath to be on the safe side, but my canning jars just snapped shut on their own. Also, too much heat might turn the apples to mush, whereas this way they stay crisp.

The longer you leave it, the stronger the flavor – and the result is a tart, sweet, spicy, intense flavor that goes great with savory dishes like beef or mushrooms. I have left mine for seven months, and they kept just fine.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.



It's so easy to make home made crackers, once you do it, you'll never want to buy them again. The nice thing for me about making crackers at home is that you have the option of making a lot of different styles at a setting and always have the opportunity to make them healthier than the ones you buy at the market. They taste so good when they're fresh. The downside of these is that the shelf life is only about 5-7 days, but the batches are usually small enough that you can freeze part of them, or only make them for big gatherings.

The recipe I use most often is a very simple basic recipe. That changes,of course, once I start adding different things to it. I call these Annie's Crackers, here is the base recipe:


• 2 cups of whole wheat pastry flour
• 1 tsp sea salt
• 2/3 cup warm water
• 1/3 cup good quality olive oil

Pretty simple, eh ? One thing I want to warn you about right up front here is that - if you are like me and keep a fairly well stocked pantry, you need to constantly check your whole-wheat flours. Because these lovely whole grain flours have all the germ and bran in them, they will go rancid easily. This is due to lipid (fats) deterioration. The general rule of thumb for whole grain flour storage is 5-6 months after opening. You can tell if your flour is going bad by the smell--it will have an off or musty smell. It will affect the flavor of your baked goods, in fact, it will interfere with the rising of yeast breads. Whole grain flours should be stored in your freezer in an airtight container to prevent this. Let it come to room temperature before using. This is just something to keep in mind.

You can also make these crackers with white unbleached flour, if you prefer. I don't.

And so...back to the crackers.


1. Mix the ingredients together with a fork or spoon, just until combined. At this point, you can add some extras. I like to add flax seed meal, sunflower seeds, black sesame seeds and garlic granules. Add some rosemary if you like. Add whatever flavors and herbs you and your family likes. Of you put in too much, it will start feeling dry, and if that happens, you can add a little more oil.

2. Put a piece of parchment paper on your baking pan, preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. Oil your hands and start patting the dough out as thin as you can. If it's easier (and sometimes it does work better) lay the parchment paper on the table, and use a rolling pin to roll your dough out as thin as possible. This will create a more uniform dough ( a little less "home made" looking, but bakes more evenly) and will allow you to square up your dough a little better.

4. Then, using a pizza cutter, or a ravioli wheel (makes a nice design on the cracker edges), or even a sharp paring knife, cut your dough into squares or rectangles. I ground some fresh black pepper and sea salt onto the tops of them (there is enough oil from your hands to hold this on). Then carefully pick up your parchment paper by the edges and lift it back onto the baking pan. Depending on the size of your baking pan, you may need to divide your dough in half and do it in 2 batches.

5. Bake these little beauties at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes (or longer). Ovens vary, and sloppy cooks like me mess up baking times, because I put in a little too much water or oil, or basically change recipes because I think something sounds good, so I toss it in. So really, just watch it after 15 minutes, and when the crackers are all golden brown and crispy looking, take them out. Cool on racks, and they will crisp up even more as they cool.

These crackers are great for appetizers, with toppings. Even something as simple as a small piece of cheese. Or peanut butter. Or - hummus. When I did a workshop recently and brought these crackers, I made a batch of home made hummus to put on them. Everyone raved. In the event you think hummus is only something you buy at the deli...let me help you. Here is my favorite simple hummus recipe, made with canned chickpeas (that I buy by the case for my pantry. I keep them on hand because they are soooo nutritious.)

Hummus Recipe


• 1/4 cup lemon juice
• 1/4 cup water
• 2 15-ounce cans of garbanzo beans, one drained, one with liquid
• 1/4 cup raw sesame seeds
• 1 tbsp olive oil
• 2 garlic cloves, peeled (more if you like it really garlicky)
• 1 tsp ground cumin
• 1/2 tsp sea salt

Put all ingredients into your blender and process until smooth. It tastes even better if you can make it ahead of time and allow it to sit in the fridge so the flavors can meld. This is a simple hummus recipe. Hummus is a staple of many Middle Eastern countries, especially Israel, Palestine and other Arabic regions. It's made of ingredients that would be found in any middle eastern garden and kitchen. It can be used as a dip or a sandwich spread. It is a powerhouse of nutrition...between the chickpeas and the sesame seeds and the lemon juice and the garlic — wow !! Hummus is high in Iron and Vitamin C, contains significant amounts of folate and Vitamin B6. It's high in protein and dietary fiber from the beans. Contains the amino acid methionine, which complements the protein of the chickpeas. Hummus serves as a complete protein when served with bread.

Expand your horizons! Try new foods and introduce them to your family. My experience is that (especially children) people love to eat with their fingers and dive into the sensual and physical experience of new foods. because crackers and hummus are so versatile, there are lots of ways to play with them. I think tonight I will make falafel and hummus and crackers. Add some raw veggies for dipping into the hummus--carrots, celery, cucumbers and radishes. Finger food night at the Kelley house here on Honeysuckle Hill. Feel free to stop on by!

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.


GMO Myths and Truths 

We’re glad to see that Earth Open Source has updated and revised its impressive report, “GMO Myths and Truths” by scientists Dr. John Fagan and Dr. Michael Antoniou, and researcher Claire Robinson.

The free report was first published in 2012. The new version is “nearly three times the length of the original and summarizes many new studies,” according to Earth Open Source.

“GMO Myths and Truths” provides evidence and proof to counter virtually all the pro-GMO arguments that industry uses to support their genetically modified products. Among the topics addressed: the safety of GM crops and foods; whether GM food is actually needed to “feed the world;” and the argument that GM crops offer higher production than their conventionally bred counterparts.

You can download the latest version of the report from the Earth Open Source website.

Cover courtesy Earth Open Source


Bakewell Cream Biscuits

Have you ever noticed that cold weather makes us yearn for the comfort foods of our childhood? This year’s never ending winter is certainly no exception. And while not everyone can agree on meatloaf, mac and cheese, or chicken-noodle soup, we all seem to love homemade baking powder biscuits.

Baking powder biscuits go perfectly with many dishes. Plop them on top of an everyday casserole to make it extra special. Lather them with butter and serve with soup. Spread with honey along with a cup of tea. And of course there’s always biscuits and gravy. Even fast food outlets have jumped on the biscuit bandwagon with breakfast sandwiches.

Experienced biscuit makers all have their favorite recipe, usually handed down from Mom or Grandma. But the most important ingredient in baking powder biscuits is the baking powder. Some people prefer an aluminum-free baking powder. Others prefer to use old fashioned cream of tartar and baking soda. We New Englanders have our own favorite, Bakewell Cream.

What Is Bakewell Cream?

Bakewell Cream is a leavening agent similar to baking powder. According to The New England Cupboard, the company that produces it, Bakewell Cream was created in Bangor Maine in the 1940s. Cream of tartar, a wine-making byproduct and common leavening agent, was in short supply during the war years. Since cream of tartar is a major ingredient of many baking powders, there was a low supply of baking powder. But we must have our biscuits! So a local chemist used a different acid, sodium pyrophosphate, and called it Bakewell Cream. Bakewell Cream plus the base sodium bicarbonate (or baking soda) produces light, fluffy biscuits.

Bakewell Cream biscuits are still very popular in New England, but Bakewell Cream can be difficult to find if you live outside of that area. It can be ordered online from The New England Cupboard or King Arthur Flour. The original biscuit recipe is printed on the Bakewell Cream can.

What Is Kamut Flour?

Even though Bakewell Cream biscuits are perfect as is, I have this compulsion to play around with all written recipes. So instead of shortening I always use butter, and I often add Kamut flour to add some whole grains to the recipe.

I like to use Kamut flour because of its soft, nutty quality. Kamut is the brand name of an ancient grain, Khorasan wheat, originally grown in Egypt but now grown in Montana. Although it is a whole grain, it is softer than most whole grains and is a beautiful yellow color, almost like semolina.

Bakewell Cream Biscuit Recipe


• 1 cup Kamut flour
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 2 tsp Bakewell Cream
• 1 tsp baking soda
• 1/2 tsp salt
• 1/4 cup butter, softened
• 3/4 cup cold milk


1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients.

3. Cut in butter with a pastry blender.

4. Add milk and stir quickly with a fork until just mixed.

5. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead 5 or 6 times.

6. Pat to 3/4-inch thick. Cut with a biscuit cutter.

7. Bake on a parchment lined baking sheet for 5 minutes. Turn off heat and leave in the oven for another 5-10 minutes or until browned.

Quick, easy and melt in your mouth delicious. Bakewell Cream biscuits are sure to keep your insides warm. Sorry, there’s not much I can do about the outside weather!

Renee Pottle is an author, Family and Consumer Scientist, and Master Food Preserver. She writes about canning, baking, and urban homesteading at Seed to Pantry

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.


Navel Oranges and Triple Sec by Tammy Kimbler

We are huge fans of citrus fruit at our house. My partner devours grapefruits. We can’t keep my daughter stocked in blood oranges. Me? I love it all. Key limes, Meyer lemons, kumquats, pumelos, Seville oranges, mandarines, kaffir limes, citrons - the list of citrus is truly long.  I have yet to meet a fruit that I didn’t like.

December thru March is citrus season in the United States. From California, across the southern states to Florida, the citrus fruit harvest is well underway. Ironically, although we associate citrus trees with warm weather, the signature bright colors actual require a cool winter (but not freezing) for their skin to turn. The maturity of the fruit, however, is independent from their color. Green-skinned citrus is often found in tropical climates.

Originating somewhere between Australia and New Guinea [1], citrus has spread and hybridized repeatedly around the world. While we often think of citrus for eating out of hand, many citrus varieties are grown specifically for their zest, oil, leaves and of course, vitamin C (citric acid). Kafir limes, for example, are primarily grown for the flavor their leaves impart in Southeast Asian curries. Citrus is also grown as an ornamental shrub (I have one on my porch) both indoors and out. During the Renaissance many famous royal gardens featured “Orangeries” [2] in greenhouses. Our own George Washington had an expansive Orangery at Mount Vernon that even Thomas Jefferson envied. [3]

With such a short season, we try to preserve as much citrus as we can for the rest of the year. Although you can still get grapefruit, lemons and oranges in July, they’ve usually been in cold storage or been shipped from South America. Preserving citrus is pretty easy. Here are some flexible techniques you can try with almost any type of citrus, recipe links included. Challenge yourself to change out the types fruit in these recipes and create flavors all your own.

Preserved Lemons and Citron by Tammy Kimbler

Preserving Citrus with Salt

Salt and citrus may seem at odds, but bitter, sour, sweet and salty make up four of the five legs of balanced flavors (the other being umami.) Preserved lemons are probably the best known salt-preserved citrus, but there is the also the lesser known Indian lime pickles. Each technique uses the whole fruit, cut up and packed in salt. The juice comes out and makes a salty brine, softening the fruit. Indian lime pickles go further and add aromatics and spices to the mixture. Both can be used to liven up dressings, sauces, curries, rice (preserved lemons are traditional in Morocan tagines), fish and poultry. I like to add preserved lemon to apple pie. Lime pickle goes into my Indian curried potatoes. Another salt preservations technique is citrus salt. It’s amazing in cooking and baking, and so easy to make. You’ll smack yourself if you’ve purchased it at the store. Consisting of nothing more than citrus zest and kosher or sea salt, I use citrus salt as a finisher sprinkled on salads, meats, popcorn and roasted vegetables as well as in salted desserts like ice cream, chocolates and cookies.

Citrus Salts at the Local Kitchen Blog
Keylime Lime Pickle at One tomato, two tomato
Preserved Lemons at The Farmers Feast

Preserving Citrus with Acid

Isn’t citrus already acidic? From sweet pickles to shrubs, citrus only seems to be enhanced by vinegar. The methods are a snap. For pickles, simply replace small whole citrus like kumquats, key limes or clementines for the fruit in your sweet pickled recipe. Think pickled peaches. I think I’ll replace my martini olive with a pickled kumquat. For shrubs, which are a delicious drinking vinegar, the citrus juice and/or peel may be used. You simply make a simple syrup with the juice and sugar, then add an equal amount of vinegar to syrup. Toss in the peel if desired for extra kick. The result is a delicious liquid that can be mixed with water, soda water, sparkling wine, or in other cocktails. I love it mixed with champaign. Yum.

Pickled Kumquats at Vanilla Garlic
Blood Orange Shrub at Food in Jars

Preserving Citrus with Alcohol

This is a classic technique. The number of citrus infusions, liqueurs and fermented concoctions is prolific! Search the internet and you will find numerous recipes. The easiest of these are citrus infusions and liqueurs, which require little to no cooking. Mixing citrus juice and peel with spirits and/or wine and sometimes with added sugar, results in complex, often deeply flavored libations. Let sit for a month or so, strain and drink. Annually I make a bunch alcoholic citrus recipes to use throughout the year, including orange triple sec, grapefruit gin and lemon limoncello.

Grapefruit Infused Gin at One Tomato, Two Tomato
Vin d’Orange at The Kitchn
Limoncello at Food Preservation

Juicing Blood Oranges and Marmalade by Tammy Kimbler

Preserving Citrus with Sugar

A natural partner to the sour and bitter citrus, sugar preserves citrus beautifully. From jams and candying to citrus sugars, every part of the fruit can be preserved with sugar. While all the techniques are fairly simple to do, they take can range from an hour to a week to make. Marmalade is probably the best know of sugar preservation methods, where peel and juice are turned into bitter sweet jeweled citrus jam. Then there are citrus curds, where juice, sugar and egg yolks merge to create a luscious, creamy spread. Classic candied citrus includes thin orange and grapefruits peels, whole clementines and thick fragrant citron wedges. Citrus sugar, like citrus salt is just the zest blitzed with sugar. Your sugar cookies and sugar dusted scones will never be the same. Use course raw sugar for better texture.

Glazed Citron at David Lebovitz
Seville Blood Orange Marmalade at One tomato, two tomato
Kaffir Lime and Lemon Curd at Vanillyn
Meyer Lemon Sugar at Cravings of a Lunatic 

Preserving Citrus with Dehydrating

Dehydrating is an excellent way to preserve citrus flavors. While you’re never going to get back the juicy goodness of an orange, dehydrating keeps all the flavor. Fantastic in seasoning mixes, soups, dressings, dried teas and sauces, dried citrus will last a year or longer. The conventional drying technique is to simply slice the fruit across the grain into circles, lay them on a mat and dry in your dehydrator. I prefer a low drying temp so that the fruit does not cook, as heat can destroy the citric acid. Each citrus fruit will give you a different flavor to use.

Dehydrated Citrus Wheels at Spoon Fork Bacon
Tangy Orange Powder at Just Making Noise

Kumquats and Citrus Cocktail by Tammy Kimbler

Preserving Citrus with Canning

Finally we have canned citrus, which will rival any insipid, store-bought variety, hands down. Because citrus is a high acid food, you can can both citrus juice and fruit, with or without added sugar. Canned juice is pretty amazing, as you actually pasteurize it at 190 degrees for a 5 minutes, hot pack it into jars, then boiling water can them for 15 minutes. Any type of juice will work. For canned citrus segments, like oranges, tangerines or grapefruits, it’s recommended that you remove the membrane around the segments before canning. I don’t bother with the tangerines-way to much work! For the big fruit I cut the peel off and then “supreme” (su-PREM - it’s French, ooh la la) them by cutting out just the flesh between the membranes. Then you have a few choices for canning: sugar syrup, water, juice, plus or minus flavorings. I think plain water is a little leaching and draws out a lot of flavor, so I prefer a bit of a light syrup. But it’s totally up to you. You can also use the fruit juice to can in - just replace the water-canned version with juice. The work is in the prep, but canning only takes 15 minutes.

How to Can Citrus Juice at The Survival Mom
Canned Supreme Oranges at Hitch Hiking to Heaven 
No-Sugar Canned Mandarin Oranges at Righteous Bacon


[1] Origins of Citrus - Liu, Y.,Heying, E., Tanumihardjo, S. 2012 "History, Global Distribution, and Nutritional Importance of Citrus Fruits" Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety 11:6
[2] Renaissance Orangeries
[3] George Washington Orangery

Tammy Kimbler is the blogger of One Tomato, Two Tomato. A cultivator at heart, Tammy’s passions lie with food, preservation, gardening and connecting to her local community through blogging and urban agriculture. She eats well and love to feed others as often as possible. She currently resides with her family in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.


henbit pasta 

I originally invented this recipe because I was looking for a way to make henbit (Lamium amplexicaule) not only edible but actually taste good (read my post about foraging for henbit here). It is a cold-hardy plant that I wrote about a few weeks ago because it's a reliable winter forage even in areas that are well below freezing at this time of year.

The trouble with henbit is that its flavor includes musty overtones. Someone commented on my blog that it has a "mushroomy taste." Bingo! Pairing henbit with wild mushrooms turns that quality into a pro rather than a con.

If henbit doesn't grow near you, chickweed is another cold-hardy wild green that works well in this recipe. Or, in warmer months, try nettles or lamb's quarters. Other wild leafy greens would work as well. Hen of the woods (maitake) is my mushroom of choice for this dish, but you can substitute whichever edible mushrooms you have on hand, including cultivated varieties.

Wild Greens Pasta with Creamy Wild Mushroom Sauce

• 1/2 pound henbit leaves
• 2 eggs
• 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 garlic clove, peeled
• 3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan or peccorino romano cheese, divided
• 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
• 3/4 cup semolina flour
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 1 cup chopped fresh mushrooms or reconstituted from dried (save the soaking liquid)
• 1 cup mushroom stock (or soaking liquid from dried mushrooms) OR vegetable OR chicken stock
• 1/2 cup light cream
• 1/4 teaspoon dried or 3/4 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
• freshly ground black pepper
• salt to taste

For the Noodles:

1. Cook the henbit leaves in very little water for 5 minutes. Drain in a colander and immediately run cold water over them. Squeeze out as much liquid as possible.

2. Pulse the cooked henbit and the peeled garlic in a food processor (or finely mince with a knife).

3. Add the egg and puree the ingredients (or mix thoroughly by hand).

4. Reserve 1/2 cup of the all-purpose flour. Whisk together the rest of the all-purpose and the semolina flours in a large bowl. Dump the contents of the bowl out onto a clean counter or cutting board. Make a well (indentation) in the center.

5. Pour the egg-henbit mixture into the well in the center of the flour. Mix the flour into the liquid mixture with a fork.

6. Knead the mixture by hand for 10 minutes (or in a stand mixer with the bread hook or food processor with the dough blade until the dough comes together into a ball). Kneading by hand is better because you have more control of how much flour ends up in the dough: stop incorporating more as soon as it is possible to knead the dough without it sticking to your fingers.

7. Cover the dough with a clean, damp kitchen towel and let it rest for 30 minutes.

8. Lightly dust your work surface. Cut the rested dough into quarters. Roll one of the quarters out with a rolling pin or an old wine bottle until it is as thin as you can get it. Turn the dough over frequently while you roll it out, and dust with additional flour as necessary to prevent it from sticking to your rolling implement.

9. Give the rolled out dough one more light sprinkling of flour then roll it up loosely. Cut crosswise so that it forms coils of 1/4 to 1/2 - inch wide noodles. Uncoil the coils and dust them with additional flour.

For the Sauce:

1. If you're using dried mushrooms, first soak them in boiling hot water for 15 minutes. Drain (reserving the soaking liquid) and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Whether you started with fresh mushrooms or dried, coarsely chop them.

2. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium low heat. Add the mushrooms and a little salt. Cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms give up their liquid and then most of the liquid evaporates.

3. Add 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Raise the heat to medium high.

4. Add the mushroom soaking liquid and/or the stock a small splash at a time, stirring constantly. Add the thyme. Each addition should thicken before you add more liquid. When it is all the consistency of a thick gravy, turn off the heat and add salt and pepper to taste.

Bring It Together:

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the fresh henbit noodles and stir gently. Cook for 3 minutes. Drain. Return to the pot, add the sauce and 1/4 cup of the grated cheese. Toss gently to coat the noodles with the sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste.

2. Serve with additional grated cheese and a little minced fresh henbit sprinkled over as a garnish (or parsley).

Leda Meredith is the author of Northeast Foraging: 120 Wild and Flavorful Edibles from Beach Plums to Wineberries. You can watch her foraging and food preservation videos, and follow her food adventures at Leda's Urban Homestead. Her latest book is Preserving Everything: Can, Culture, Pickle, Freeze, Ferment, Dehydrate, Salt, Smoke...and More.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.


My hero quotes Joel Salatin, listens to bluegrass music, and has cover crops, not riding crops. Every chapter ends with a seasonal recipe such as the Tender Collard Tangle below.

Fifty Weeks of Green 

Why Would a Food Evangelist Write a Response to Fifty Shades of Grey?

When I learned that Fifty Shades had outsold the Harry Potter books, I had to check it out. Clearly the author knew how to get people's attention. I found the first chapter online and was soon shocked by the idealization of heartless behavior. Billionaire Christian Grey intimidates his scuttling employees and agrees with pride when the heroine tells him, “You sound like the ultimate consumer.” This tycoon brags that if he were to sell his company, over twenty thousand people would soon be struggling to pay their mortgages.

The more I read, the more Christian Grey resembled the villains I've fought all my life. He isolates himself from the world using blindfolds, gliders, yachts, and private islands. Then he roughly takes what he wants, crushing lives and exhausting valuable resources. Would young women assume, given the blockbuster status of the books and movie, that Grey behaves in an admirable, manly way?

This thought so haunted me that I wrote Fifty Weeks of Green. I wanted to introduce the world to the folks I meet at the Mother Earth News Fairs and at sustainable agriculture conferences. For research, I joined the Edible Earthscapes community supported agriculture program (CSA) and interviewed my farming friends. To add flavor, I mixed in my favorite book by Wendell Berry, a warning about neonicotinoids, and a bluegrass song by Lorraine Jordan and Carolina Road.

All these ingredients went into Roger Branch, who loves to feel good soil and makes it better with sustainable farming practices. He delights in women who know their own minds, in his lively community, and in being part of the dance of nature. He's no saint, with people skills that need cultivation, but that's part of the story. Roger and the other characters help city gal Sophia Verde heal her cynicism and cope with an excess of greens.

My big fantasy is that some readers will try recipes from Fifty Weeks of Green, explore their local farmers markets, and cook a little more with the seasons. When I go wild, I dream of farmers' markets, CSAs, co-ops, and health advocates using the book to nudge their clients in the direction of healthy food and thrifty cooking, sweetened with humor and romance.

Love doesn't have to hurt and healthy food can be delicious.

Recipe: Tender Collard Tangle

Collard Tangle 

Slice raw collard leaves thin and then massage and marinate the resulting tangle so it remains lively without being rebellious. Eat some as a salad and then steam the rest to bring out the sweetness and further relax the greens. It's a key Cook for Good technique: cook once, enjoy several times! Yield: Makes 8 servings.

• 2 ounces collards (about 8 medium leaves)
• 2 tbsp lemon juice (juice from one lemon)
• 1 tsp olive oil
• 1/4 tsp salt
• 1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper
• 1 sweet apple, perhaps a Gala or Fuji
• 1/4 cup walnut pieces
• 1/4 cup raisins
• water for steaming

Cut or pull stems away from collard leaves and save stems for another use. Cut leaves into very thin strips. I stack them up, roll them up lengthwise like a cigar, and then slice across. Put collard leaves into a non-reactive container (glass, Pyrex, ceramic, or stainless steel). With clean and loving hands, gently squeeze and massage the collards five or six times until they relax a bit. Inhale their deep green fragrance and admire your wild collard tangle.

In a small bowl, mix lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Pour this dressing over collards and toss until well coated and glossy. If you have time, refrigerate tangle for two hours to soften the greens.

Core apple, slice, and cut into small pieces. Chop walnuts if needed. Toss fruit and nuts with collards, making sure to coat apple pieces well so they don't brown. Serve chilled as Sweet and Tart Collard Tangle.

For Relaxed Collard Tangle, put a cup of water and a steamer basket in a large pot and bring water to a boil over high heat. Put collard mixture in the steamer, cover, and steam for about 5 minutes. If you'd rather use a microwave, put collard mixture and a teaspoon or two of water in a microwave-safe container. Microwave on high for about 45 seconds per serving. Serve hot. Keeps for five days refrigerated.

Images by Linda Watson (c) 2015 Cook for Good, used by permission.

Check out Linda's website Cook for Good for more recipes and tips. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. She is the author of Wildly Affordable Organic: Eat Fabulous Food, Get Healthy, and Save the Planet--All on $5 a Day or Less and Fifty Weeks of Green: Romance & Recipes.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.

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Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

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