Friday, March 16, 2012

REAP LIFE. DIG.

Interested in learning about DIG? Check out reaplifedig.org!
Today marks a new journey in my culinary adventures: collaborating on a field manual with the incredible non-profit organization Development in Gardening (DIG). The world through DIG's eyes is a place that has the potential to be better, to change - if only we were all so optimistic and held such points of view... 

Not only do these individuals see the potential for change, they do something about it.  And I couldn't be more excited to be part of such a group.


DIG's core mission consists of improving "...the nutrition and health of HIV-affected and at-risk populations through sustainable gardening." What this breaks down to, essentially, is that they draw a direct link between nutrition, gardening and health in rural communities.


They teach individuals about agriculture and nutrition, aid them is starting gardens and steer projects that lead to sustainability, community enrichment and better health. This simple structure leaves residents with both knowledge and access to good food - and that, in a nutshell, is DIG.


So here's where I step in: DIG is in the course of creating a nutrition manual that will teach the basics of balanced meals, health-specific info (such as for those who are pregnant, or have AIDS), as well as garden specific recipes that show how to use their sustainable crops.


I'll be photographing and documenting the recipe portion of the handbook, which is basically the coolest thing ever. And FYI this is not your grandmother's Betty Crocker Cookbook - these dishes consist of jackfruit, eggplant and fish stews, coconut and root vegetables galore...


To this great honor, I have one thing to say: count me in.


Since I just so happened to have the ingredients on-hand for one of the recipes, I went ahead and gave it a whirl - and it was downright fantastic (if I may say so myself). 
Rainbow Chard with Boiled Beets

INGREDIENTS:
1 bunch (about 3 medium sized) beets, including greens
1 bunch rainbow chard
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbs. olive oil
1 tbs. butter
Salt & Pepper to taste

STEP 1: Wash the beets and greens, leaving the skins one.

STEP 2: Remove beet greens close to the root.
STEP 3: Boil beets in salted water until tender - this should take about 25 minutes.
STEP 4: Remove stems from beet greens and discard - tear leaves into small pieces & set aside.
STEP 5: Roughly chop swiss chard and set aside. 
STEP 6: Once beets are cooked through, soak them in cold water while you finish preparing the remaining ingredients.
STEP 7: Once the beets are cooled, peel them by hand or using a rag.
STEP 8: Chop peeled beets.
STEP 9: Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add chopped onion and saute until golden brown and translucent.
STEP 10: Add beets and garlic and saute until garlic becomes fragrant and beets warm through - this should take about 1 to 2 minutes.
STEP 11: Add butter and melt until frothy bubbles appear, then add the chard and beet greens.
STEP 12: Add one pinch salt and two pinches pepper (with more or less to taste) and saute greens until wilted - this should take another 1 to 2 minutes.
STEP 13: Serve and enjoy.

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