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Deliciously Organic: August 2009

Deliciously Organic

A blog devoted entirely to simple, wholesome, organic cooking.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Grand Isle Shrimp

The other day, while doing errands, I was trying to decide which recipe to share with you next and I looked up I saw the marquee for our local seafood market that read, "Fresh caught 10ct. shrimp $4.95 lb". I immediately turned into the parking lot and knew that Grandma's "Grand Isle Shrimp" was the next recipe to share.

The first time I had "Grand Isle Shrimp" was during a visit to my Grandparents' house in Baton Rouge. (Let me tell you, I come from a long line of cooks and my Grandma is still turning out amazing dishes in her kitchen.) When my Mom and I arrived from our long drive from TX she told us about this recipe she had found and was thrilled to try it out on all of us. Now, I've had a lot of shrimp dishes in my life, but this one topped them all. The shrimp was plump, buttery, and incredibly well seasoned and the best part was the big loaves of bread on the table to sop up all the buttery juices on the bottom of the pan. After eating in almost complete silence (that's when you know the food is good, there isn't any talking) for some reason, after dinner, we all decided to count our shrimp tails to see who had eaten the most. My Mom won, 40 tails!

Grand Isle Shrimp
Serves 4 as main dish
You can assemble this entire dish the morning of and leave in the fridge until ready to bake. Make sure and serve this with a crusty loaf of bread to sop up the juices. Don't even think that you might have left-overs...this dish is just that good.

2 pounds (16-20ct.) shrimp, shell peeled to the tail and de-veined
1/2 cup butter, cut into tablespoons
1/2 lemon
Worchestershire sauce
Herb-a-mare (organic seasoning mix that can be found at most health food stores)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Lay shrimp in large baking dish and sprinkle with lemon juice from half a lemon. Season generously with herb-a-mare, then sprinkle lightly with paprika, cayenne and garlic. Dot with butter right on top of shrimp. Bake for 8 minutes. Serve immediately.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Stawberry-Raspberry Soup

Gail was our wedding designer (almost 12 years ago) and had an incredibly successful event production company for many years in Dallas. Gail is one of those women who walks into the room and immediately brings the whole room to life. Along with being able to create just the right design and atmosphere for a party, she is also an amazing cook. Her strawberry soup recipe has been in my family recipe book for years and the other day I decided to give it a try (and I'm so glad I did!). When I tasted it I liked it so much I couldn't decide if it would be best for breakfast, brunch or dessert. The soup is cold, creamy, smooth, incredibly refreshing and something a little different than what I normally serve. The splash of club soda at the end gives the soup a fun fizz that kids (and adults alike) will love, and if you are are feeling especially extravagant a splash of champagne will work perfectly.

Gale's Raspberry-Strawberry Soup
Serves 6
You can substitute blackberries for either the strawberries or raspberries or just use one kind of berry in your soup. If you don't have fresh berries you can always use frozen.

3 cups strawberries
3 cups raspberries
2 tablespoons arrowroot
2 tablespoons water
4 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon orange zest, fresh
2 cup orange juice (fresh is preferred)
2/3 cup water
2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt, plus 2-3 tablespoons for garnish
club soda

Puree berries in blender or food processor. Pour pureed berries through a fine mesh sieve to take out the seeds. Set aside. In a small bowl whisk together arrowroot and two tablespoons water until dissolved.

In a medium non-reactive saucepan combine berry puree, honey, arrowroot mixture, zest, orange juice and water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and let cool for about 15 minutes. Pour mixture into a large bowl, cover and put in the refrigerator until cold (about 2 hours). When ready to serve, add 2/3 cup yogurt to soup mixture and mix well. Ladle soup into individual bowls and add a splash of club soda. Spoon a small dollop of yogurt on top and garnish with fresh berries.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Organic on a Budget

Years ago, before I knew about organics, I seriously thought that organic food was for those who wanted to spend more on their food. I couldn't have been more wrong, but it just goes to show that there are so many misconceptions out there. Buying organic can put a huge strain on your budget, but if you play your cards right it doesn't have to. If you decide to dive in and eat all whole foods, then you won't be buying convenience foods, soft drinks, frozen dinners, or pretty much anything pre-made in a box which really adds up over time. My husband is in the military, so we have access to the commissary on base (the base grocery store where things are sold much cheaper than in town). Last year I started wondering if I was spending too much, so I asked my friends who shopped strictly at the commissary how much they spent. I found out that I spent less than they did! It encouraged me to discover I was on the right track. I've come up with my top eleven things I do to help make buying organic more affordable.

1. Buy in bulk when possible. I really can't stress this enough. For example, I bake with organic whole cane sugar but it's sold for $5.25 a pound at our local health food store. I found a few friends to split a 33 pound bag from Azure Standard and we paid $2.27 a pound (including the shipping!) You can also split bags of oats, grain, popcorn, etc.

2. Join a co-op. Here is where you can get substantial savings. Our co-op truck drops off the same organic produce sold at the local grocery stores, but we get it for a fraction of the cost. Check into the Local Harvest website for co-ops in your area.

3. Buy your meat directly from the farm. We've been doing this for years and have saved over $500 each year. Two times a year, I make an order with our organic farm and buy my meat at a fraction of the cost compared to the grocery stores. Best of all, I know exactly where the meat is coming from. You will need a large freezer to take advantage of this option - see tip 7. The Eat Wild website is a fantastic resource to find an organic farm near you.

4. Cook at home. Most dinners I feed my family of 4 cost around $12. You can't even go to a fast food restaurant for that! Best of all, my family is eating good food that's full of nutrients.

5. Grow your own herbs. One little package of basil costs $2.99 at our local grocery store (and it's most likely irradiated). I spend that much on a plant each spring and harvest basil all summer long. My favorite herbs to grow are basil, thyme, rosemary, and oregano. I don't have a green thumb but I've managed to keep them growing each year and always have fresh herbs to add to my dishes.

6. Be Discerning. If you can't afford to buy entirely organic, choose wisely which items to pay more for. A good rule of thumb is to buy organic fruits and vegetables that have thin skins (like apples and berries). These foods tend to absorb the most pesticides and herbicides. Here's the list of the "dirty dozen" from the Environmental Working Group Website:

1. Peach
2. Apple
3. Bell Pepper
4. Celery
5. Nectarine
6. Strawberries
7. Cherries
8. Kale
9. Lettuce
10. Grapes (imported)
11. Carrot
12. Pear

7. Embrace the deep freeze. A freezer can cost as little as $150, or much less if you buy used. If you have an extra freezer you have the option to load up on items when they're on sale and store them them later.

8. Buy in season. I really can't stress this enough. I've seen too many people buy produce that isn't in season and spend more money than necessary. Yes, we're in an age where we can get any kind of produce at any time of year, but do you really need to spend $8 for a pint of strawberries in December?

9. Comparison shop. Compare prices of organic foods at a few local grocery stores. You may find that one store has more affordable fruits than vegetables or vice-versa.

10. Make your own dressing. Most bottles of salad dressing contain many preservatives and fillers and are quite expensive. Do an online search for recipes for your favorite salad dressings, make a batch and keep in a jar for easy use. You'll only do this once a month, but reap the benefits at nearly every dinner.

11. Find coupons on the internet.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Mango Granita and Pineapple Creamsicles

A few weeks ago my kids asked me to buy some popsicles but, unfortunately, in today's grocery stores, a popsicle that is made of pure ingredients is extremely hard to find. (if you've found one, let me know!) Every time a new "natural or organic" frozen dessert comes out I anxiously turn the box around to read the ingredients and am always disappointed. Frozen desserts are filled with high fructose corn syrup, colorings, additives and preservatives and even the ones that say "all natural" are never quite what they claim to be. So, a few weeks ago I started playing around in the kitchen and came up with a pineapple creamsicle that really should be called a "frozen pina colada". Seriously, if you add a little rum to the mixture you will have the perfect frozen pina colada on a stick. It is simple enough recipe that even a kids could could mix it together (sans the rum, of course) and delicious enough that you could serve it to friends after a summer b-b-que.

The other recipe sort of came by default. I absolutely adore mango and can't really get enough of it in the summer so I wanted to create a mango popsicle but, as I came to find out, the mango never really froze as hard as it needed to cling to the popsicle stick but if the mixture is poured into an bowl and frozen it makes a great creamy granita!

Pineapple Creamsicle
makes approximately 6 (4oz.) popsicles

1 cup pineapple, cut into chunks
1 cup coconut milk (I prefer thai kitchens)
1/4 cup maple syrup

Puree the pineapple in a blender or food processor until it is mostly smooth with a bit of chunkiness. Add the cream of coconut and maple syrup and pulse a few times. Pour the mixture directly into popsicle molds and place in the freezer. Freeze for about 3-4 hours. (if you want to add the rum, add about 1/3 cup and the recipe will yield 8 popsicles.)

Creamy Mango Granita
Serves 4

1 cup mango, pureed
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup maple syrup

Whisk all of the ingredients until combined and pour into a 8x8 glass dish. Freeze until solid, about 2 hours.