Banana Peel Vinegar

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If you're looking to reduce your waste in the kitchen, this recipe can help you reuse otherwise discarded banana peels! It has a sour, kind of bitter flavor with a hint of sweetness. It's great as a salad dressing ingredient, or used in soup, tea or cocktails.

This recipe yeilds about eight cups of vinegar, but takes about two months, so give yourself plenty of time!

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. banana peels, sliced into 1-inch pieces
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. baker’s yeast
  • 1 cup vinegar starter

You will need:

  • Large pot
  • Cheesecloth
  • 72-oz. sterilized canning jar with lid

Instructions:

  1. In a large pot, combine the banana peels and 4 cups of the water. Bring the pot to a boil over high heat, then remove from the burner. Allow to cool for 30 minutes.

  2. Once cool, remove the banana peels from the large pot of water, and place them onto a sheet of cheesecloth. Squeeze the banana peels wrapped in cheesecloth over the pot, allowing the liquid to be extracted directly into the pot. Keep squeezing until the peels are dry and no liquid comes out. Discard the banana peels and the used cheesecloth.
  3. Add the remaining 4 cups of water and the sugar to the pot. Place the pot back on high heat for 15 minutes, stirring every five minutes or so.
  4. After 15 minutes, pour the liquid into the sterilized canning jar and add the baker’s yeast. Seal the canning jar and leave it in a cool dark place, undisturbed, for seven days.
  5. After seven days, open the jar and add the vinegar starter. Replace the lid and leave the jar in a cool place for three more weeks.
  6. After three weeks, open the jar and pour the liquid into a large pot. Place a sheet of cheesecloth over the mouth of the jar. Pour the liquid from the pot back into the jar through the cheesecloth, to filter out any sediment and yeast. Replace the lid.
  7. Leave the jar to age for four weeks in a cool place. Open the lid once more and pour the liquid into the large pot. Place the large pot over high heat for 10 minutes to pasteurize. While the vinegar pasteurizes, wash and sterilize the jar.
  8. Remove the pot from the heat and pour the banana-peel vinegar back into the jar. Seal the jar with the lid and store the banana-peel vinegar in a cool, dark place.

Tip: Consume the banana-peel vinegar within 24 months for the best flavor

Original recipe on LiveStrong.com

    Mushroom and Squash Farrotto

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    Mushroom and Squash Farrotto

    For the squash:
    1 acorn squash
    1 tablespoon butter
    Salt and pepper to taste
     

    Instructions:

    1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Trim the top and bottom off the squash, and cut in half. Scoop and discard the pulp and seeds. 
    2. Lay on a baking sheet, cut side up. Add butter to the center, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then bake until fork tender. 
    3. Scoop out the flesh (with the melted butter) into a blender, and blend on high until smooth. Use some water or stock if necessary.

    For the Farrotto:
    2½ quarts mushroom stock
    2 cups of farro
    4 tablespoons butter
    1 onion, diced
    3 garlic cloves, slivered
    1 bunch of kale, destemmed and chopped
    1 cup fresh grated Parmesan
    ¼ cup canola oil
     

    Instructions:

    1. In one saucepan, bring the stock to a simmer. Keep hot.
    2. In a separate saucepan, add enough canola oil to cover the bottom and warm over high heat.
    3. Once the oil is hot, add the farro and toast until golden. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Lower heat to medium-high.
    4. Add 2 tablespoons of butter, then add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the garlic and cook until soft. Add a pinch of salt and stir. Add the farro back to the pan and drop the heat to medium.
    5. Ladle in about 1/2 cup of the hot stock into the farro, then stir until the liquid is absorbed. Continue to add one ladle of hot stock in at time, stirring until the liquid is completely absorbed. The farro will slowly expand and become creamy in texture like risotto.
    6. Once the stock is depleted, turn off the heat, and add the squash puree. Mix thoroughly, then add the kale and mix again.
    7. Add the butter and Parmesan, then season with salt to taste. 

    For the mushroom garnish:
    You can use any type of mushrooms for this part: cut them into large pieces. Add a knob of butter to a hot saucepan, then toss in the mushrooms. The moisture from crowded mushrooms will prevent a good browning, so work in batches if you need to. Once the mushrooms have released some liquid, add a pinch of salt. Toss toss, taste. 

    To assemble:
    Top farrotto with cooked mushrooms, more grated Parmesan, and chives or green onions. 

    Chef Gretchen's Triple Lentil Bites

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    Triple Lentil Bites

    SPROUTED LENTILS:
    Ingredients:
    1 ½ cup raw lentils
    Instructions:
    Place raw lentils in a glass jar with enough water to cover, and cover the jar with a kitchen towel. Soak the lentils overnight, then rinse and drain. 
    Store the lentils in a warm place, and repeat rinsing and draining twice daily until they sprout (about three days.)

    SUNNY LENTIL DIP
    Ingredients:
    3 cups cooked red lentils (about 1½ cup uncooked)
    ½ cup tomato paste
    2 tbs. minced jalapenos
    3 tbs. lemon juice
    ¾ cup water
    ¼ cup coconut oil
    ¼ cup olive oil
    2 tsp. ground coriander
    1 tbs. ginger, minced
    4 tsp. garlic, minced
    1 ½ tsp. cumin
    1 ½ tsp. garam masala
    ½ tsp. turmeric
    1 ½ tsp. salt
    1 cup cilantro, minced
    ½ cup green onion, minced
    Instructions:
    Add coconut oil and olive oil to a saucepan and slowly add each spice. Saute spices until they are fragrant, about three minutes. 
    In a food processor, combine the spice blend with tomato paste, minced jalapeños, cooked red lentils, lemon juice and water. Blend until smooth. Add the cilantro and onions and pulse until well incorporated.  

    CURRIED LENTIL SOCCA
    Ingredients:
    1 cup lentil flour
    1 cup garbanzo flour
    2 cups water
    ½ cup melted coconut oil
    2 tsp. salt, generous pinch of pepper
    ¼ cup toasted, unsweetened, fine shred coconut
    2 tsp. curry powder
    ½ tsp. coriander
    ¼ cup minced cilantro
    2 tsp. lime juice
    Instructions:
    Whisk all ingredients together until smooth. Let the mixture rest for at least 30 minutes, or up to overnight in the fridge. If you decide to leave it in the fridge, it will develop a sourdough characteristic!
    To cook, heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a non-stick skillet, and drop batter in as you would a pancake. (These can be as big or small as you’d like!) Fry until golden brown, then flip. Cut into wedges if desired.

    COCONUT CREMA:
    Ingredients:
    1 cup coconut yogurt
    ½ tbs. Lime juice
    1 tbs. coconut milk
    Instructions:
    Whisk ingredients together, adding more lime juice or coconut milk as necessary until similar to sour cream.

    To assemble, top each piece of socca with a dollop of lentil dip and a sprinkle of sprouted lentils. We finished each bite with  drizzle of coconut crema, and topped it all off with a sprig of cilantro.

    Serves 4-6 as a light appetizer or 8-10 as passed bites as pictured here. 
     

    Back to School Special: Pack Better Bag Lunches

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    Back to School Special: Pack Better Bag Lunches

    By: Mary Choate

    Brown Bag Lunches can get boring if they are the same old thing over and over again. Kids may trade to get a lunch that they find more fun to eat. For adults, boredom can lead to a trip to the vending machine or convenience store- a difficult place to find healthful choices. The solution is to mix it up with nutritious and fun choices from the Choose My Plate's Healthy Eating Tips.

    Think outside the bag

    To start thinking “outside the bag,” use the ideas below to put together a fun lunch that brown baggers of all ages will enjoy. Be sure to add your favorites to the list!

    Note: Add a freezer pack and insulated bag to keep foods safe until lunch time.

    Pick from these whole grains choices—pick one or two:

    • Whole grain crackers
    • Whole grain mini-bagel or pita bread
    • Toasted whole grain English muffin
    • Low fat granola in a one-quarter cup container
    • Low fat bran muffin
    • Whole grain rice or pasta salad

    Vegetable choices—pick two or more 1/2 cup servings:

    • Three bean salad, with added beets and olives, dressed with balsamic vinegar and olive oil
    • Hummus (garbanzo bean spread)
    • Vegetable soup (1-cup) in a thermos or microwave safe container
    • Baby carrots
    • Celery sticks
    • Cherry or grape tomatoes
    • Cooked okra pods
    • Cooked green beans
    • Sweet pepper strips
    • Cooked corn the cob (6”ear = ½ cup; 8-9” ear =1 cup)
    • Salad (1-cup) with one tablespoon of dressing

    Fruit choices—pick one:

    • Favorite fall apples
    • Dried fruit packed in a one-quarter cup container
    • Frozen berries packed in a one-half cup container (they thaw by lunchtime)
    • One-cup 100% juice

    Dairy/high calcium choices—pick one:

    • Chocolate milk or calcium–fortified soy milk
    • Yogurt
    • String cheese
    • Light cheese rounds or triangle wedges
    • High calcium hot cocoa packet or already made up in a thermos
    • Pudding

    Protein choices—pick one:

    • Turkey or chicken breast or roast beef slices
    • Canned tuna, salmon or other fish
    • Bean salad or spread from above (beans count as protein AND vegetable)
    • Flavored baked tofu or tempeh chunks
    • Chunky peanut butter, sunflower seed or almond butter

    You can create delicious lunch combinations, for example:

    • Whole grain crackers and cheese, chicken and vegetable soup in a thermos, a serving of celery sticks, chocolate milk to drink and a Ginger Gold apple.
    • Three-bean salad with grape tomatoes, low fat bran muffin and thawed frozen fruit topped with yogurt.
    • Toasted whole grain English muffin with tomato, turkey, and low fat cheese with 100% grape juice to drink.

    Brown bag lunches won’t be boring anymore!

    Printed with permission from the Hanover Consumer Cooperative Society, Inc. Copyright 2010.

    Feeding the Palouse — Working to Reduce Food Insecurity in our Community

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    Co-op shoppers are different from those in a regular grocery store          

    —  and the Co-op strives to keep up with you all. When we built our Ends Statement, it was clear that as a community, our goals are much bigger than bringing unique produce and local ingredients to the Palouse. We, as a collective group of dedicated grocery store owners, also strive to increase access to healthy, sustainable food for everyone.

    Food accessibility is a major concern of our owners and a driving factor in our business model. We live in one of the richest agricultural hubs in the northern United States, yet too many families on the Palouse struggle to get adequate nutrition. 

    One way we understand this problem is through food security, a metric developed by the US Department of Agriculture. A household is considered food secure if they meet two standards: the ready availability of nutritionally adequate and safe food, and the assured ability to acquire that food. 

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    In 2016, the USDA found that around 12 percent of households nationwide were food insecure. Much more alarming, however: on the Palouse, that number is as high as 18 percent.

    This information has made it all the more vital for us to provide services like our FLOWER program. Through FLOWER, an acronym which stands for Fresh, Local, and Organic Within Everyone’s Reach, families who qualify for state or federal benefits — including SNAP, WIC, Medicaid, or free or reduced school lunches — receive a 10% storewide discount every time they shop at the Co-op. FLOWER is a powerful tool to help increase food accessibility for those among us who are in need – and it isn’t the only one in our toolbox.

    We're delighted to see our owners work hard through Co-op programs to support local food banks. We provide a food pantry shelf at the front of the store, as well as  the opportunity to make direct financial contributions at our check-out lanes. Co-op shoppers can choose to purchase donations in $5 or $10 denominations for products that go directly to local food banks. 

    Through this program, you, our customers and owners, donated over a ton of food (2,053 lbs., to be exact) to food banks in 2017. And this doesn’t even count the bread that was donated – our bakery alone contributed more than 3,500 lbs. of nutritious bread last year.

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    One of our vital partners in this endeavor to reduce food insecurity on the Palouse is the Whitman County Community Action Center (CAC). This Pullman nonprofit is an outstanding resource hub for Whitman County residents who struggle with food insecurity. Many of our food bank contributions went supported food packaging projects at the CAC, thanks to help from Washington State University’s Center for Civic Engagement. 

    These events turn our bulk food donations (lentils, pasta, banana chips, and other staples) into grab-and-go bags for easy pick-up by community members during food bank hours.

    CAC Food Bank Manager Ashley Vaughan asked us to keep in mind that hunger doesn’t go away during the spring and summer. The holiday season is typically the busiest for food banks, but it's always a good time to pitch in and contribute healthy, delicious ingredients to local families. It takes a combined effort from everyone in our community to reduce food insecurity. You have the power to change someone’s life for the better – and the Co-op can help you do it.
    -Max Newland