Glowing, radiant health is the new black. Our Green Table is serving it up, for the whole body! Healthy recipes and tips, the latest on eco-friendly food and "skin food"products and a head's up on ingredient safety are all woven into family-centered stories and discoveries. Bring informed, aware and empowered looks good on everyone!

Abrazos! xox Penny

Friday, November 30, 2012

Green-Gold Gift Guide

Tomorrow is December 1st and I will officially dive into this holiday season. For many reasons, I changed gears a few years ago and decided to give fewer gifts with more value and meaning. I am looking forward to enjoying "tidings of comfort and joy" and will try my best to avoid the whirlpool of craziness. "KISS and green" is my holiday mantra.

Here are few beginning thoughts: my Green-Gold Baker's Dozen of Gifts for this year, soon to be all wrapped up...

I plan to give those I love...

1. My time and energy
2. A donation of time and/or money in their honor to the charity of their choice
3. An heirloom...whether bean or bauble
4. Something vintage
5. Something repurposed
6. Something handmade
7. Something locally made
8. Something made in the U.S.A.
There is a fabulous Pinterest board on all things American made. Go to
9. Something fair-traded
10. Something that celebrates local arts
11. Something that supports a local service
12. Something non-toxic
(I have tons of sources...just ask!)
13. Last but not least, Natural State Granola

What's on your list?

A few more of my favorite things...


Monday, November 26, 2012


"There was a time when the phrase This was the best I ever tasted! came to people as naturally as sneezing. The grace of American cooking lies in doing well by whatever grows in our back yards or presents itself in an honest and aboveboard manner. Our tongues must feel again the fresh, the delightful, the "best I ever tasted" and then there will come to us a salutary impatience with the graceless routine of eating out of packages and cans."

This excerpt is from a cookbook my grandmother had that I was looking through this weekend. It was written in 1946 and those words are still so relevant.

The beautifully written introduction is a plea. A plea to cook with real foods and to "know the satisfaction of nourishing with (our) own strength and skill those whom (we) love."

Very moving. Priceless wisdom.

From that inspiration, I decided to look up a lot of historical recipes. What did people used to eat during the holidays? What were some of the "best I ever tasted" dishes?

Interestingly enough, one historical recipe (who knew?) has been a mainstay for our table on both Thanksgiving and Christmas. And,  this cranberry dish is the best I ever tasted! Sweet, but not too sweet, and sassy enough to hold its own. I serve it warm with dinner as a side/relish, then later cold as leftovers or sometimes, even hot or cold as a tangy dessert or breakfast dish. Give it a try while fresh cranberries are here and fresh apples and pecans are in the farmers' markets. Just be sure to choose tart apples that bake well and not sweet ones.

Apple and Cranberry Crunch

3 cups chopped, unpeeled tart apples (I use 3-4 McIntosh apples)
2 cups fresh cranberries, washed (I use the whole bag)
3/4 cup regular sugar
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup chopped pecans
11/2 cups rolled oats
1 stick unsalted, organic butter, melted

Mix apples, cranberries and sugar together and place in an ungreased baking dish. Mix remaining ingredients and crumble on top of fruit. Press lightly. Bake, uncovered, at 350 for about 45 minutes. Serves 8.

What are some of your "best you ever tasted" dishes?

Thanksgiving favorites: Caramelized Brussels Sprouts, Pumpkin and Shiitake Risotto, Apple and Cranberry Crunch, Kale Salad dressed with Maple Dijon Vinaigrette. Thankful!!

Friday, November 23, 2012

I'll also "pass" on

Black Friday shopping. I just can't and won't do it. I don't know, maybe I am the only one who feels this way, but in my view, it's still Thanksgiving and this is my motto...

I have a vow not to do anything Christmas-y until December 1. Fall is absolutely my favorite season and goes much too quickly. Every year another day of its authentic, uniquely beautiful nature gets swallowed up by the craziness of shopping, earlier and earlier. And so, I don't.

Today, I am going to do a little more cooking, go to the library and take a walk. Look at this fabulous picture. I am so there!

I do have my work cut out for me today though, and plan to give this fork a good workout...

I tried a new crust for my traditional pumpkin pie and really liked it. It would also be a nice crust for a cool, lemon-y pie. Have a great weekend!

Gingersnap Pie Crust

2 cups finely crushed gingersnaps
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped fine
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
5-6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Mix all and press into pie plate. Bake at 350 degrees about 10 minutes or until set. Proceed with rest of your pie recipe. I do not add any extra sugar or salt to this recipe. Feel free to adapt to your own tastes!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

I'll pass on

Thanks, gratitude and joy to you and yours.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Rolling right up to Thanksgiving

Like a snowball gathering up snow, Friday's pumpkin roll started an avalanche of beautiful pumpkin recipes. I have a mountain-ful! It was hard to choose just one for a Thanksgiving post. I've done so many salads, soups and bean dishes, which are all my favorite foods, that I decided to choose a dish out of the norm for me...a risotto. And, always trying not to waste a speck of food, this risotto uses up the pumpkin purée left from the cookie recipe.

Just one look at this picture and I was hooked...

Gorgeous, right? So homey and comforting, colorful and warm. Just like Thanksgiving. The recipe and lovely picture are from Women's Health magazine.

Pumpkin and Shiitake Risotto

5 cups veggie broth
1/4 cup olive oil
8 whole sage leaves plus 2 teaspoons minced fresh sage
1/2 cup minced shallots
1 cup arborio rice
1 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms
1/2 cup white wine
3/4 cup pumpkin purée
3/4 cup plus 4 teaspoons shredded Parmagiano Reggiano
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh black pepper

Heat broth to boiling, reduce to simmer and keep warm.

Heat oil in a sauté pan until hot but not smoking and add sage leaves. Fry until crispy, about 10-15 seconds. Transfer to a paper towel to drain.

Put 1 tablespoon of sage oil in a 3-4 quart saucepan and heat over medium high heat. Add shallots and cook until translucent but not browned, about 5-6 minutes. Add rice and stir until rice is glistening and coated with oil, about 2 minutes.

Add mushrooms and wine, cook until
most of liquid is evaporated, about 2-3 minutes. Add 1 cup of veggie broth and cook and stir until most of liquid is evaporated, another 2-3 minutes. Continue adding broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until liquid is evaporated after each addition and until rice swells but is still al dente, about 17-18 minutes.

Add pumpkin purée, 3/4 cup of cheese, salt and pepper and stir until well incorporated. Divide into 4 bowls, garnish with 2 fried sage leaves, extra minced sage and grated cheese.

Hmmm...Thanksgiving in a bowl.

Friday, November 16, 2012

On a roll

Yesterday the grocery store had leftover pumpkins for 99 cents and it got me started on a roll. A pumpkin roll. I love pumpkins in general, especially the heirloom varieties. Each one has such unique features. So expressive and just beautiful! One of my favorite paintings is of a lovely pumpkin patch at sunrise and I have a collection of pumpkins, real and not-so-real, around pretty much all year. I am seriously into pumpkins!

I am packing up a small box with some goodies for my family to have on Thanksgiving. While they love my pumpkin pie most of all, these cookies are de-lish and travel much, much better! They are simple, very light and tender but not overly sweet...just a heads up. Monday I will share a savory pumpkin dish that looks just perfect for Thanksgiving!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Drops

2 cups organic all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted, organic butter, softened
1 cup sugar (I sometimes use brown)
1 farm fresh egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
1 cup pumpkin purée ( If you are using canned pumpkin and have leftovers, try adding it into that morning smoothie!)
2 cups dark chocolate chips

In bowl of mixer, blend butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and mix for a few seconds. Then add pumpkin purée and blend well.

In a separate bowl, mix together flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Add to butter mixture and blend thoroughly. Fold in chocolate chips, cover dough in bowl with wrap or foil and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop dough by tablespoons and place about 2 inches apart. For my oven, here are the baking times: at 7 minutes I rotate the baking sheet and bake for 6-8 more minutes or until golden. Your oven may vary a little but you can tell they are done when edges start to turn golden brown. Let cool about 8 minutes on sheet and then put on rack and cool thoroughly.
Makes 3 1/2 dozen.

These are really great with a glass of homemade almond milk, tea or coffee and a couple of just-baked ginger snaps thrown in for good measure.

P.S. If I could give these in person, I would fill up and doll up this mason jar...

But for shipping, "repurposing" this plastic arugula container works great! Happy weekend!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Green, Green Glass of Home

It's actually Wednesday, despite what the header says, but the conversation is one I battle daily...

If the contents of my fridge could talk, they would scream, "Save us!" I am trying, really trying to do a better job.

I have way too much plastic in my fridge or used to, that is. Two of my 2012 New Year's resolutions were to use fewer paper towels and less plastic.

Paper towels are pretty much history but the plastic, specifically bags from greens and wrap, are still in use, although lots less and all "eco" plastic when I can find it. But seriously, plastic gives me the creeps...too risky, too many carcinogens waiting to leech out, and too wasteful.

I decided to find my solutions at garage sales...kind of a "green on green" approach. Here is some of the vintage and "repurposed" Pyrex I have found recently.

Greens, especially tender herbs, store really well in glass. Take a look at this wonderful cilantro from the farmers' market. This gorgeous bunch is from Little Rock Urban Farming and it is fabulous! The flavor is a taste trip and looks like not one leaf will go to waste...

Also, I have decided to repackage my granola in glass and my customers really seem to like the switch. It's going to be fun to dress up those jars with simple extras for holiday gifts, too, making them much prettier to give than those plastic tubs!

What are you doing to solve a problem with a greener answer? Whether it is to complete a New Year's resolution or not, do share!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Lettuce Play

Fortunately I got in my trip to the farmers' market before I crashed. Actually, I had crashed twice before that which was the problem. On Wednesday, I fell splat on the street and the very next day, missed the last step of the stairs and banged up what I missed the first fall. I felt fine Friday but 11 a.m. Saturday was another story. My body only knew one word,"Ouch!" Weekend plans changed to revolve around Epsom salts.

Having to keep things simple, I looked at my veggies for amusement and inspiration. I was struck by how absolutely gorgeous the greens I bought were and the broccoli, too. I mean beautiful! Then, I thought what a fabulous centerpiece they would make for Thanksgiving or any party. Green, simply gorgeous as is and completely edible. No waste! Here, take a peek...

While squashes and pumpkins are fall centerpiece naturals, you could have tons of fun playing with all the fresh lettuces and greens available now. Go to the market with your creative and hungry eye, toss in a little candlelight and let me know if you come up with some pretty, leafy arrangements! Thanksgiving is next week...can't believe it!

For dinner, I kept things simple, fast and comforting and made a veggie-ful pasta one night. My neighbor would have thrown in kale which I had by the bagsful but alas, all my kale was either in a vase or in the blender awaiting its destiny as a green smoothie. Some things are a given, right?!

Market Fresh Pasta

Pasta of choice
1 cup creme fraiche
2 cloves fresh garlic
2-3 fresh carrots (I love a mix of colors here and throw in purple carrots whenever I can get them)
2 medium zephyr squashes or zucchinis
Fresh oregano

In a small, heavy saucepan, bring creme fraiche and garlic to a boil, add sea salt and fresh pepper to taste. Reduce heat and simmer until ready to use.

Using a mandolin, slice zucchini and carrots into ribbons and then cut by hand, into thin strips. Bring pasta water to boil and blanch veggie strips for a minute or two. Remove veggies from water and keep warm. Add pasta to cooking water. Cook until al dente.

Drain pasta well, toss with veggies and drizzle with garlic-creme fraiche sauce. Garnish with fresh oregano. Have extra sea salt and fresh pepper available.

To all the men, women and their families who have served in our military so we can enjoy a daily feast of freedoms, thank and every day. Oxox to my own brave veterans.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Chilling them out

Several of my friends are really good gardeners. I am not, except I do have pretty good luck with herbs. I have rosemary, lavender and oregano en masse. I thought about making a wreath but...

This picture from the Internet, showing how to freeze fresh herbs in olive oil, looks likes the perfect, simple weekend project. I am going to try it!

Anyone else have a great way to preserve fresh herbs?

Oh, and by the way, although one of my favorite farmers' markets is closing for the season this weekend, many others will remain open. Some farmers are chilling out their crops and will have lots of root veggies, brussels sprouts and beautiful greens available all winter long. Here is a great seasonal chart, also from the Internet, that shows what delicious fresh produce we have to look forward to each month. Fun!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Moving on out

So far it's been a week where I have sat too long. I stayed up waaaay past my bedtime on Election Night, sitting and watching the news and sitting and playing with live, real-time results maps on my iPad. (They were really fun!)

Then, I woke up yesterday to read the papers, watch more news and track the new storm...more sitting. Lots of it. Maybe if I sat and watched the weather, the Nor'easter would miss my mom and kiddoes? Hmmm...

By the time my son sent pictures of snow screaming sideways past his office windows at about 40 mph and learned Mom was without some services again, I decided to make my move. Here's why...

Clearly, it was time to move on out and get off the couch. Good thing...look what I found...

Fall is a stand alone beauty in my book! Love it!

What are your tips for this Thursday do you move it on out?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

It's a great day because

I can freely say this...

Monday, November 5, 2012

For Rachel

I don't let go easily. As a matter of fact, I have large hands and a strong grip. And so, you can only imagine that I pack up Halloween and Day of the Dead only when forced to loosen my hold. Saturday, Mother Nature brought a thunderstorm that pried the festivities away from me. It was either be stubborn and remake the forty or so paper flowers again next year or pack it all away while the afterglow still lingered. No contest!

I get The New York Times on Sundays not because it is THE New York Times, but because it is the same paper my kids read and I feel a sense of connection. It's our "neighborhood" paper and we can discuss things. "Hey, did you see that article on..."

Anyway, there was a great piece on Rachel Carson, author of the famed "Silent Spring", that caught my eye and moved me forward. It is an excellent article, "From Calm Leadership, Lasting Change" and I learned so much about her. I never realized that, like me, she is from Pittsburgh and I went to her Alma Mater for my sophomore year in college!

The article is a powerful testimony to each of us...our power of one. More on that in a minute.

I love farmers' markets and wherever I am, try to find them. Same with "Main Street". When I am home here, I have the best of both worlds...a neighborhood and Main Street farmers' market. I go to both and buy from all my favorites, sometimes twice!

Two days in a row I bought broccoli and almost ate both heads myself. If you have never had just picked, absolutely fresh broccoli, get some. It is so amazingly sweet and tender. I used what I didn't eat raw in a salad that I made "for Rachel". In tribute, it was all green.

Tossing all these seemingly random comments and a recipe altogether, I am also thinking about tomorrow. It's a big day. We get to vote.

No matter who wins, we still have our own power...our power of one, just like Rachel. If we don't like something, we can work to change it. We each have the power to do so. For me, I want Main Street to thrive and small "mom and pop" businesses to have my business. And so that's where I shop and hopefully am making some small, lasting changes.

No matter what, we all have a choice every day to exert our power of one. Here's to a great day of choosing well!

Rachel's Green Salad (get local and/or organic!)

Favorite fresh greens
Fresh broccoli broken into florets
Celery, sliced
Avocado, cut into chunks
Pistachios, pan toasted

Favorite vinaigrette with fresh green herb added (try adding parsley, oregano, cilantro or tarragon)

I lightly blanched both the broccoli and celery slices, just for about a minute and then plunged pieces into ice water. To me, they taste a little sweeter, a little crunchier that way. Mix in with greens and some dressing and then add in avocado chunks. Toss with a little more dressing and top with toasted pistachios.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Feliz Dia de Los Muertos!

Halloween was such a blast! Truly my favorite holiday. The trick or treaters who come each year...about 400 usually...are delightful. So cute in their costumes and honestly, I get more from them than they get from me. Just a joyful group. Love 'em!

I am so glad The Grand Ones had a terrific first Halloween, too, and had their first bites of Witches Brew Stew. One little sweetie dressed as her favorite book character, Nicholas the bunny, and the other as a little blue monster. Both had smiles as big as The Great Pumpkin!

Today the fun continues with The Day of the Dead...a fabulous celebration with roots in Mexico. I just love it and our house this year, inside and out, was a combination of Halloween and Day of the Dead decorations, costumes and food.

And so, imagine my sheer glee when I got these as a gift last night...

Muchas gracias a ti, Victoria, por las calaveritas de azucar y el papel picado!!! Que preciosos!!

Take some time today to discover (if you haven't already!) the traditions of colors, paper flowers and banners, dogs and butterflies, candles, sugar skulls and foods of The Day of the Dead. Have a great one!

Here is a fab photo from NPR and they did a great piece on this joyous holiday. Just for fun, google it.

Meanwhile, I've got to go touch up my makeup, tuck in a few colorful flowers and grab a butterfly. Halloween is so yesterday!!