Green Schools

I had an email today from Annie Leonard – yeah, just to me, not a mass email or anything ;-)…she’s the brains behind The Story of Stuff and other brilliant explanatory videos about consumptions, cap & trade, bottled water and  electronics.  She’s now putting her weight behind the Green Schools Initiative, which is an issue close to my heart as there are two school aged TealGreen children in our house.  This is such an important place to start with understanding the impact our every day decisions have on our health, our communities and ultimately on our planet and climate.  If you haven’t had a chance to look at some of the Story of Stuff videos, take a few minutes and take a look.  If you have school aged children, check out the Green Schools Initiative.

Meatless Monday : quesadillas

There’s a campaign called Meatless Monday.  According to their website, 30% of people surveyed have heard of it.  Its goal is to make people more mindful of their eating habit and the health and environmental advantage of being vegetarian without having to go whole hog, so to speak.

So a meatless day or two a week is something TealGreen family does on a fairly regular basis anyway, sometimes on purpose, sometimes out of laziness (does cereal for dinner count) and often just ’cause it’s what I felt like cooking or we felt like eating.  I love the Meatless Monday site and the many other foody sites with wonderful vegetarian recipes on them.  But sometimes it strikes me that they could put people off because they are perhaps a bit ambitious and even worthy.  There are plenty of things that we eat all the time that are meatless.  Just being mindful of that might help convince those resistant to the idea of moving away from a heavily meat based diet that it’s not as hard as you might think.  And that it doesn’t mean you have to be eating nut loaf for dinner.  So along with Cooking from the Bottom of the Fridge, I will be doing the occasional Meatless Monday post showing some of the things our family are eating.

Tonight, after a heavy round of Tae Kwon Do for TealGreen hubby and children, the entire family arrived home at nearly 8pm.  And it happens to be Monday.  So what to do for a very quick, healthy, meatless meal (bearing in mind some heavy exercise preceded this meal).  Voila – a pack of whole wheat Tortillas (or 2) from the freezer.  Smother the first is pre-grated mozzarella, top with a second and cook in a frying pan long enough to melt the cheese.  Cut up, pizza style and split amongst the plates to get things going while cooking some more with a bit more nutrition added.  Take a tin of crushed, organic tomatoes (TJoe’s), whiz with the hand blender.  Throw in a teaspoon of crushed garlic (fresh or jar) and an ice cube of pesto from this summer’s basil (jar would be fine).  Simmer for 10 minutes while making a second cheese quesadilla.  By the third round of Tortilla, smother with the cooked tomato sauce and then cheese (ok, so it’s Mexican pizza, but it’s sort of home made, hot, fast, relatively healthy and cheap).  Cut up some raw veggies from the bottom of the fridge while the next tortilla cooks – we happen to have orange pepper, cucumber and carrots.  Eat those on the side as crudité and call it salad.  Doesn’t seem like a very filling meal, and yet it works every time and Teal Green 12 year old, burgermeister boy, LOVES it.  Result.

And if you are feeling more adventurous, here’s a piece for Meatless Monday that manages to include miracles, barley, Hanukkah and both the Old and New Testaments.  Meatless Monday: Some Kind of Miracle.

From the Bottom of the Fridge : Omelettes

We had our first week of eggs with enough to make a proper meal for the whole family.  7 in all, including one fairly mini, slightly speckled which we think probably came from our Buff Orpington chicken, Bella.

So what to do on a chilly Sunday night after a busy weekend when no one feels like cooking.  Easy, peasy.  Fire in the fire place, quick hot choccie to get revved up and omelettes away.

For the kids, just a shake of parmesan cheese to beef up the protein even more and give a little flavor.  For the adults, a quick saute of red pepper and a single slice of red onion first.  This gives it the real flavor.  Then grate some New Zealand pasture fed cheddar cheese from Trader Joe’s (sorry, not local, but REALLY good), and the best part, a slice of prosciutto (also TJs) found lurking in the freeezer, laid on top.  The prociutto padded it out to make it feel like a real meal and the smoky flavor is a great balance to the sweetness of the onions and red peppers.

To fill tummies, in true bottom of the fridge fashion, I heated up some leftover rice (top tip, if you only ever cook your rice in water, you can save and reheat safely; flavor after cooking separately so you can save the leftovers).  Some broccoli and cauli was also lurking from Friday night’s dinner, so that got chucked into the microwave to go alongside the children’s veggie-free omelettes.

And to add some stodge and padding when the rice ran out, I peeled and sliced 2 sweet potatoes (organic, TJoe’s…not as huge as supermarket sweet pots.  Probably only would need 1 of those).  Heated the oil in the bottom of a frying pan pretty hot, plenty of sea salt & pepper, seared the outsides, cover for a few minutes to steam cook, then flip and uncover so they don’t go soggy.  I let them cook enough to almost be burning so you get the sweet caramelized edges.

Everyone went to bed full and happy, I didn’t have to shop and start to finish was about 20 minutes.