Friday, May 28, 2010

Redlands Conservancy Parties for the Necklace Event

I will be assisting with culinary services for one of the Redlands Conservancy Fund Raisers, Party #3; Feasting on the Farm. The Redlands Conservancy is a nonprofit group dedicated to the protection and enhancement of those assets that exemplify or constitute a part of the historic, architectural, or cultural heritage of Redlands. The primary focus of this event is to highlight, and create support for, local Redlands farmers. The entire menu will consist of locally grown produce as well as locally raised livestock. For more information, please visit click Parties for the Necklace. Tickets are selling out fast, only 9 tickets left today.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Sustainability and Food


Why Buy Local?
Most produce in the US is picked 4 to 7 days before being placed on supermarket shelves, and is shipped for an average of 1500 miles before being sold. And this is when taking into account only US grown products! Those distances are substantially longer when we take into consideration produce imported from Mexico, Asia, Canada, South America, and other places.

We can only afford to do this now because of the artificially low energy prices that we currently enjoy, and by externalizing the environmental costs of such a wasteful food system. We do this also to the detriment of small farmers by subsidizing large scale, agribusiness-oriented agriculture with government handouts and artificially cheap energy.

Cheap oil will not last forever though. World oil production has already peaked, according to some estimates, and while demand for energy continues to grow, supply will soon start dwindling, sending the price of energy through the roof. We'll be forced then to reevaluate our food systems and place more emphasis on energy efficient agricultural methods, like smaller-scale organic agriculture, and on local production wherever possible.

Cheap energy and agricultural subsidies facilitate a type of agriculture that is destroying and polluting our soils and water, weakening our communities, and concentrating wealth and power into a few hands. It is also threatening the security of our food systems, as demonstrated by the continued e-Coli, GMO-contamination, and other health scares that are often seen nowadays on the news.

These large-scale, agribusiness-oriented food systems are bound to fail on the long term, sunk by their own unsustainability. But why wait until we're forced by circumstance to abandon our destructive patterns of consumption? We can start now by buying locally grown food whenever possible. By doing so you'll be helping preserve the environment, and you'll be strengthening your community by investing your food dollar close to home. Only 18 cents of every dollar, when buying at a large supermarket, go to the grower. 82 cents go to various unnecessary middlemen. Cut them out of the picture and buy your food directly from your local farmer.

distributed with permission from

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Seared Ahi Tuna From Earth Day (shown in photo)

This recipe is excellent if prepared on the outdoor grill using a well seasoned cast-iron skillet. (BTW: if you are using any traditional 'non-stick' cookware, throw it away and go buy yourself a large cast iron skillet. Cast iron skillets are a bargain at Bed,Bath,Beyond or even Target. If skillet is not already 'seasoned', be sure to follow manufacturers instructions on how to properly season before using). If you prefer to cook indoors, you can sear the Ahi stove-top on cast-iron as well. Very important: must use SUSHI GRADE (top quality) Ahi for this recipe . It may cost a little more but if it's sushi-grade you can be sure it's safe to serve raw in the center. Shown in the photo is yellow fin ahi, fresh (caught less than 48 hours prior) from Little Fisherman's Market, Redlands.

For marinade:

1/3 soy sauce
1/3 mirin (most markets carry it, it's made from sake)
1/3 sesame seed oil
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger (use a microplane to grate fine)

Additional ingredients needed are:
Black sesame seeds (must be black)
Package of won-ton wrappers
Tbsp of grapeseed oil or veg oil. Soy oil will work well too. (don't use olive oil, must be oil which cook at a high smoke point).

Completely cover ahi steaks in marinade and leave in marinade, in refrigerator for at least 3 hours and a maximum of 7 hours. If longer, it will run the texture of the ahi. I usually marinade for about 4 hours.

Remove ahi from marinade, strain with cheesecloth or chinois ('china man's cap'), put aside. The marinade will be used to make the reduction but must be cooked first. Pat ahi dry and place in refrigerator. In sauce pan (don't use cast iron for this stage), cook strained marinade, bring to boil keep on medium/high heat and reduce by 1/2. This stage should take about 1/2 hour. Cut 6-10 won-ton papers into strips and cook in skillet with high heat oil until brown. You can also deep fry, but that's not necessary. Set won-ton strips aside.

Heat up cast iron skillet on grill or stovetop. Skillet should be shiny, if it looks dry or a bit dull- add very small amount of high heat oil to surface (I prefer soy oil). Remove ahi from fridge, make sure the surface is completely dry. Coat with black sesame seeds. Once pan is hot, sear presentation side down for approx 2 minutes. You should still be able to see pinkish, watermelon color through sides of ahi. The inside of fish should NOT be cooked. Turn ahi over, sear other side. Once cooled (approx 5 minutes max) it's ready to serve. Alternatively, you can place ahi back in refridge and serve cool hours later. Slice into thin strips just before serving (or after re-refrigerating). Drizzle reduction on top. Top with won-ton paper strips. Enjoy!

See photo on aide for presentation.