Drought Friendly Vegan Migas

A longer story covering our (Super Sous and my) Drought Friendly Recipes has been posted on the Central Valley NPR site and is  running on KVPR!

Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 9.47.32 AMPLUS~here’s a NEW Drought Friendly Recipe that Super Sous has created. Being from Texas, Super Sous gets a hankering for Tex Mex now and again. The other day, she was craving migas, which in Tex Mex language is a scrambled eggs dish made with tortilla chips. To make it drought friendly, Super Sous subbed crumbled organic tofu for the eggs. The rest is all veggie and spice goodness. Enjoy!

Migas1

Sauteing the onions, bell pepper, potatoes and poblano.

Migas2

Tofu Potato Migas

 

Drought Friendly Tofu Potato Migas

Yield: 4 servings

 

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil

1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced small (2 cups)

1 large red bell pepper, diced small (1 cup)

½ pound potatoes, scrubbed and diced small

1 small poblano pepper, seeded, deveined and diced small

4 2-inch sprigs fresh thyme

1½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

5 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced (1½ tablespoons)

1½ teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon Hungarian paprika

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon ground coriander

¼ teaspoon ground chipotle powder

1 (14.5-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained

14-ounces organic extra firm tofu, patted dry and crumbled

1¼ cup broken organic corn tortilla chips

1 lime, halved

2 haas avocados, pitted and thinly sliced

½ cup picked fresh cilantro leaves

1 bottle of your favorite hot sauce

1 jar or batch of your favorite salsa, optional (try my tomatillo tomato salsa)

 

Place a large nonstick sauté pan over medium-high heat and add oil. Let heat for 1 minute until hot. Add onion, red bell pepper, potato, poblano, thyme sprigs, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are cooked through, approximately 15 minutes.

Add garlic, cumin, paprika, turmeric, coriander and chipotle powder. Stir and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.

Add tomatoes. Stir and cook for 1 minute, until liquid has mostly evaporated. Add tofu, stir and cook for 5 additional minutes.

Turn off heat. Add in tortilla chips, squeeze over half a lime, stir to combine and season to taste with salt, pepper and additional lime as needed. Remove thyme sprigs.

Serve on plates with slices of avocado, cilantro, a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce and some salsa.

Drought Friendly Eggless Shakshuka

On March 18, Super Sous and I posted a blog about the California Drought and how it affects the entire United States via the food grown in California (50% of California fruits and veggies are exported across the US – not just to grocery stores, but to restaurants, institutions, hospitals, schools, etc.).

Another thing that we mentioned in the blog post, is that we (Super Sous and I) have decided to create some “Drought Friendly Recipes”. Since 74% of all water in California is used for agriculture, our idea is that we can incorporate foods into our day-to-day lives that have a lower water footprint (than others).

For example, if the Water Footprint Organization says (global average) that it takes 28 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of lettuce, this might be a better drought friendly food choice than, say, eating a pound of figs which they slate at 401 gallons of water per pound.

Of course, figs and lettuce have different nutritional properties (and you are probably not going to eat a pound of either in one sitting!), but these drought friendly recipes aren’t about completely re-arranging your diet or skipping out on the nutrients you need. It’s about being aware of the drought and what each of us can do to conserve our precious water. If we can substitute a “water heavy” meal (like beef which is calculated to take anywhere between 1500 to 2000 gallons of water per pound), for a drought friendly recipe even once a week, it will make a difference in terms of conservation. (Fun fact: Did you know that 1 pound of goat meat takes only 127 gallons of water to produce?)

Now, this is not a perfect science/water calculation and we know it.

This is about having a conversation about the drought and dialoguing about conservation and solutions.

Our first “Drought Friendly” recipe is an Eggless Shakshuka. Shakshuka is a North African egg dish with tomatoes, onions and spices. Here, Super Sous and I substitute eggs with goat cheese and avocado. You can add both goat cheese and avocado or choose one or the other. Whatever you like best.

1 egg is cited by National Geographic to require 53 gallons of water to produce, whereas 1 pound of avocados (2-3 avocados) takes  237 gallons. Shakshuka would normally call for 6 eggs. So, this dish, (eggs alone) would take 317 gallons of water to produce. The 1 avocado used is 1/3 of that. And whereas a typical American breakfast might be eggs and bacon breakfast or a cup of greek yogurt or grabbing something on the go, this is a great alternative.

Since I began on my culinary journey, from learning how to garden with my grandparents as a child to working at farmers markets for over 10 years to cooking on television, I have always told people to shop locally as much as possible. Go to farmers markets, shop in season and support your local farmer, when you can. If you live outside of California, for example in Virginia where I’m from, and you are buying all of your meat and produce locally, and you are cooking all your meals at home, then wow! you are amazing and Super Sous I want to come over for dinner! But seriously, if you are able to do such a thing, than these recipes will be more food for thought than drought friendly conservation efforts. However, most of us don’t cook every meal at home. And most people don’t shop solely at farmers market nor even have that option depending on where in the country we live and what time of year it is. So, there’s a good chance you are shopping at grocery stores and eating at restaurants that are using California produce.

The last thing I want to mention is about food waste. This recipe calls for beet greens. There are so many recipes for beets out there, but less so for beet greens (although they are so tasty). Super Sous and I want to utilize as much as possible of the fruit and/or vegetable we are cooking with. 40% of all food goes to waste in the United States which translates to trillions of lost gallons of water. No need to discard the beet greens next time you grab a bunch of beets – here’s a great way to enjoy them.

Finally, Super Sous and I would love to hear from you. Comments, questions, thoughts, ideas, etc. Like I wrote, this is not an exact science or a strict dietary plan or about restricting your meals or nutritional needs. This is about a conversation that needs to be happening a lot more.

So, let’s gather around the communal table and discuss. I’ll bring the bread, you bring the shakshuka.

Shakshuka Goat Cheese

Shakshuka with goat cheese only

Shakshuka Goat and Avocado

Shakshuka with goat cheese and avocado

 

Drought Friendly Eggless Shakshuka

 

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

 

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil

¼ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced medium (1½ cups)

10 cloves garlic, peeled and minced (3 tablespoons)

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons Hungarian paprika

¼ teaspoon crushed red chile pepper (chile flakes)

2 cups roughly chopped beet greens, rinsed but not dried

2 large fire-roasted red bell peppers, diced medium

1 (28-ounce) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes, undrained

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 small avocado, pitted and sliced

3 tablespoons fresh goat cheese (chevre)

20 fresh cilantro leaves

1 baguette, sliced into large pieces

 

Place a large sauté pan over medium-low heat and add oil, onion and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 6 to 8 minutes, until the onions are soft and translucent.

Add garlic, cumin, paprika and chile flakes. Stir and cook until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.

Add beet greens and stir. The remaining moisture from rinsing the greens will release any brown bits from the bottom of the sauté pan. Continue cooking and stirring, for 3 to 5 minutes, until the chard has steamed, softened and reduced to half of its original volume.

Add the peppers, tomatoes and black pepper. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for approximately 10 minutes, until the liquid has thickened slightly.

Season to taste with additional salt and pepper.

Remove from heat.

Arrange slices of avocado and dollops of goat cheese on the shakshuka. Sprinkle over fresh cilantro.

Serve on plates with a slice of fresh baguette.

Introducing Drought Friendly Recipes – Tick-Tock Drip-Drop

Grab yourself a cool glass of water and take a seat.

You’re gonna need it. And not just the seat. I’m talking about the water.

Last week, Jay Famiglietti, senior water scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory/Caltech and a professor of Earth system science at UC Irvine, wrote an Op Ed in the LA Times stating that we have only 1 year of water left in our California reservoirs.

I say “we have” and “our California reservoirs” because this problem reaches beyond California. Far beyond.

According to the California Water Science Center USGS (data from 2010), California uses 38 billion gallons of water each day – equivalent to draining the Shasta Lake Reservoir (California’s largest) once every 40 days.

lakeShasta_Feb-Oct_comparison

The majority of that water, a whopping 74%, is used for agriculture.

Agriculture that is grown and shipped all over the United States, as well as overseas.

California grows over 400 commodities, a 46.4 billion dollar business. Around 50% of what is grown in California is exported according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

California leads the nation in growing and supplying over 75 crops to the rest of the country. Meaning, if you purchase, for example, US grown: kale, tomatoes, lettuce or strawberries, to name a few, there’s a pretty good chance that it was grown in California.

However, if you purchase US grown: almonds, figs, kiwi, raisins, grapes, clover seed, dates, artichokes, peaches, pomegranates, dried plums, sweet rice, walnuts, or pistachios, there’s a 99% chance that it was grown in California. (Now that I’ve mentioned almonds, I  can’t exclude the fact that 70% of the worlds almonds come from California!)

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 7.55.20 PM

So, now we’re talking a big problem. A 50 – 99% of the rest of the United States kind of drought problem. And we’re not just talking about your local grocery store, we are talking restaurants, hospitals, schools, businesses… the list goes on.

As of now, there’s no real plan in California for when the water runs out and no real rationing or accountability for reduction of water.

Practically speaking, once the reservoirs are empty, we will be using groundwater. (Using underwater aquifers, wells, etc.) The problem with this is that 1. We have no idea how much water we really have and 2. Our groundwater is depleting… and fast. In some areas of California’s central valley, it has completely dried up.

As of the end of 2014, 5% of the 27 million acres used for crop farming had gone fallow due to the drought, including ¼ of rice fields. (And don’t forget that 99% of US sweet rice and majority of wild rice is grown in California.)

A tire rests on the dry bed of Lake Mendocino, a key Mendocino County reservoir, in Ukiah

So, where does that leave me and you?

I’d like to introduce you to the phrase (or remind you of the phrase): Water Footprint.

Water Footprint is the “amount of fresh water used in the production or supply of the goods and services used by a particular person or group.” (Oxford Dictionary)

According to the Nature Conservancy you, my fellow American, have a water footprint of 32,911 gallons of water a day.

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Let’s take a closer look at this. Did you use a piece of paper today? Perhaps print something or scribble a note? That one sheet of paper took 3.4 gallons of water to produce.

In the market for a new pair of jeans? That’ll be 1,800 gallons of water for the cotton to grow for those jeans.

Need a new car? That’ll be around 40,000 gallons of water.

But the truth is, regardless of a big purchase here and there, a large part of the water you are consuming each day is through the food you eat.

Here’s a sample of the water footprint of some common foods. Foods that are primarily grown in California and are exported to feed the rest of the country.

Lettuce:          28 gallons per pound

Carrots:          33 gallons per pound

Onions:          46 gallons per pound

Lemons:         77 gallons per pound

Peaches:         109 gallons per pound

Wild Rice:      299 gallons per pound

Milk                 640 gallons per pound

Walnuts:         1,112 gallons per pound

Beef:                1,847 gallons per pound

Almonds:        1,929 gallons per pound

(Note: There is a range in variability. Each business or company or farm differs in how much water they are using. That said, these numbers represent a global average published by the Water Footprint Network, an NGO founded in 2008 with a mission to “promote the transition towards sustainable, fair and efficient use of fresh water resources worldwide.”)

I also want to bring your attention to the water wasted through food waste. 40% of all food that is grown in the US is wasted. This happens on all levels of the food chain. From the farms to transportation to grocery stores to restaurants to our own homes. Inherent in that 40% is approximately 11 trillion gallons of lost water. That’s the amount of water we need to get out of the drought in California! (Granted not all of the 11 trillion gallons originated from California, but we could guess that it would be around 50% of that, or 5.5 trillion of wasted water from California. Water we desperately need.)

So, as people who eat food from California we have two responsibilities:

  1. Reduce our water footprint through our food choices
  2. Eliminate our food waste

That’s why we (Super Sous and I) have started working on creating Drought Friendly Recipes. Recipes that have a low water footprint and are delicious and doable for the home cook.  (Look for #droughtfriendlyrecipes on social media as well as this blog.) We’ll also be sharing water conservation tips in the kitchen. Coming soon.

If 74% of California’s water is caught up in agriculture then all of us who are chef’s and all of us who cook and all of us who go out to eat and all of us who eat food can make a difference in this drought.

It’s our drought. We are all in trouble. We are all California. Facing the unknown. Facing possible food shortages. Facing rising costs of food.

We have to do something.

We’ll be posting more about this topic on the blog as well as the list we have compiled of crops and their water footprint – once we complete some more research.

Right now, we are in drowning (pun) in research and articles.

It’s a sobering issue and things are not looking pretty. But we need to talk about it. We need to share with one another. Discuss our concerns and our ideas. We are beyond just crossing our fingers and hoping for rain. Until a plan is put into place to bring water into California, we all need to take action. We can’t make it rain, but we can use every drop we have wisely.

20150310_CA_trd

Tick-tock-drip-drop.

Now, about that cool glass of water by your side. Thirsty?

Signed Cookbook – Black Friday and BEYOND…

THIS is happening NOW! I will personally SIGN a COOKBOOK to you. Purchase through my website – www.chefnathanlyon.com – between NOW and Friday, December 12 and I’m all yours! Makes a great holiday gift for the food lovers in your life. (PS. I’m looking at YOU!) Just enter in the recipient’s name in the “Special Instructions to the Seller” on the “Review Your Information” page and I will personally sign it to whomever you choose. Great Food Starts Fresh is a Washington Post “Top Cookbook”. Makes a great holiday gift. 135 recipes for all types of foodies: beginner to experienced, vegan and vegetarian to gluten free and paleo and more!

cookbook special

Double Chocolate Orange Zest Cake with Ganache Frosting

Who doesn’t love chocolate cake?! The key to this beauty is a good quality chocolate. That’s why I prefer  to use TCHO (pronounced CHO). I just love the quality, flavor and the way it melts, bakes, slathers… you get the idea. It’s made right in Oakland, California and you can order online or find it at your local Whole Foods. It may be more expensive than a Hershey’s bar, but you don’t get any funky ingredients (it’s organic) and, in the end, aren’t you worth the extra deliciousness? I say YES!

 

Double Choc Orange Cake1 Double Choc Orange Cake3 Double Choc Orange Cake2

 

Double Chocolate Orange Zest Cake with Ganache Frosting

 

Yield: 2 9-inch cakes

 

1½ sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon sized pieces, plus more for preparing the cake pans

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1 cup granulated sugar

½ cup dark brown sugar

7-ounces good quality chocolate, 50- to 60% cocoa solids, chopped finely

¾ cup heavy whipping cream

2 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

4 large eggs

1 tablespoon Grand Marnier

2 tablespoons freshly grated orange zest

¾ cup sour cream

 

Prepare 2 9-inch round cake pans by buttering the bottom and sides of the pans. Line the bottom of each pan with parchment paper (cut to size of bottom of pan). Press the parchment to the bottom of the pans so it sticks. Next, butter the parchment paper. Finally, dust the inside of the pans evenly with all-purpose flour, knocking out and discarding any excess flour.

Set an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Add the 1½ sticks of butter pieces and sugars to a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Set mixer on medium and cream butter and sugar for 10 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula halfway through to ensure thorough mixing.

While the butter and sugar are mixing, prepare the chocolate and dry ingredients.

First, place the chopped chocolate in a medium glass or metal bowl. Place the cream in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until just barely a simmer is achieved. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate (in the bowl) and let sit for 2 minutes. Stir slowly with a rubber spatula or spoon until fully incorporated (yum). Set aside.

Prepare the dry ingredients by adding the cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt and the 2 cups of all-purpose flour to a medium bowl. Whisk together until fully incorporated.

Head back to the stand mixer. Once the 10 minutes are up, scrape the sides down again. Turn mixer back to medium and add eggs, one at a time, until they are incorporated.

Increase speed to medium-high and let mix for 1 minute until a light and creamy texture is achieved.

Stop mixer and pour in the melted chocolate, Grand Marnier and the orange zest. Mix on medium speed until fully combined. Turn mixer on low.

Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the mix and mix until just barely incorporated. Next, add half of the sour cream. Mix until just barely incorporated. Add another 1/3 of the dry ingredients and mix until just barely incorporated. Add the rest of the sour cream and mix again until just barely incorporated. Finally, add the last 1/3 of the dry ingredients and mix until combined.

Turn off the mixer and give a good stir with a rubber spatula scraping the bottom of the bowl of the stand mixer to make sure all the ingredients are well combined.

Divide the batter in half into the prepared cake pans. Smooth the tops with a spatula.

Place in oven and bake for 35 minutes, until a toothpick or knife comes out clean when poked in the middle of the cake.

Cool cake in pan for 10 minutes before inverting onto a parchment-lined cookie rack. Once inverted, remove the bottom layer of parchment paper.

Let cool completely before applying ganache frosting.

 

 

 

Ganache Frosting (makes enough to frost 2 cakes)

6-ounces good quality chocolate beckels, 50- to 60% cocoa solids, chopped finely

2/3 cup heavy whipping cream

3 tablespoons butter, diced small

 

Place the chopped chocolate in a medium glass or metal bowl. Place the cream in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until just barely a simmer is achieved. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate (in the bowl) and let sit for 2 minutes. Stir slowly with a rubber spatula or spoon until incorporated. Add butter and stir until fully combined. Using an offset spatula frost tops and sides of the cakes.