« back to current 2009

Practical Action Halloween fundraiser

Halloween Pumpkin

Give farmers in Bangladesh a thought this Halloween. Pumpkins are proving a lifeline for thousands of families as an innovative non-profit action group from the UK have decided to help out by donating pumpkins seeds so that people can grow their own. Practical Action is a non-profit that gives families in Bangladesh seeds and compost to grow pumpkins, which they eat and sell. The organization helps people all over the world to help themselves fight out of poverty.

To help spread the word about this ingenious – yet simple – solution, become a Facebook Fan of Practical Action and get your own little pumpkin! You can donate to the cause and get a little pumpkin for your Facebook page by clicking this link:


If you’re not a Facebook user, donate to the cause at www.practicalaction.org.uk/donate

Ysanne in Los Angeles Magazine

Los Angeles magazine is a cross between Time Out and a high-end glossy magazine like Vogue. It’s a monthly guide to what’s cool in L.A., and the October 2009 edition is a special all about the Edible Garden.

Here’s what they say about Ysanne Spevack, founder of OrganicFoodee.com

“When the call comes from a home owner overwhelmed by the limes hanging low or the tomatoes bursting from their trellises, Ysanne Spevack gathers up her pruning shears, picking pole, gloves, and hat. The London native, now a Silver Lake resident, began offering her services as a picker and preserver in February, when she discovered people were too busy to harvest their gardens, let alone do anything with the produce. The author of 13 cookbooks on organic food and the editor of the online food magazine organicfoodee.com, Spevack transforms her clients’ fruits and vegetables into Meyer lemon marmalade, fig jam, orange curd, apple‑sauce, corn relish, pickled beets, tomato salsa, pies, and more—usually in their kitchens. After an initial visit during which she takes stock of any additional supplies she’ll need, such as canning jars or pie plates, she generally accepts two projects a week (she’s also a violinist and composer). “It’s so easy to grow here,” she says. “None of this stuff is rocket science.” » Hourly rates: $20 in the garden, $45 in the kitchen, $75 for a kitchen lesson. Email hello@pickandpreserve.com

By Ann Herold and Leilah Bernstein”


Fall’s fruits

Fall's Fruits

If you’ve not had a chance to visit your local farmers’ market recently, brave the crispness in the air and get out there. Fall is a fabulous time for fresh fruit and vegetables wherever you are.

Here’s some of the wonderful produce I picked up today at Atwater Farmers’ Market in East Los Angeles, Southern California. As you can see, Los Angeles is a delicious place to be right now, with the last of the summer’s fruits still available, as well as the new crop of autumn’s bounty. Peaches rub shoulders with persimmons, tomatoes mingle with pomegranates, and lettuces happily nestle amongst the pumpkins.

But even in the coldest parts of America and Europe, it’s an exciting time for farmers’ markets. Hardy leafy greens like kale, chard and cabbage grace stands with their deep jewel colors and clean, intense flavors. Squashes of all kinds are everywhere, including little flying saucer shaped patty pans and larger pale yellow spaghetti squash, like the one pictured here.

The simplest way to prepare spaghetti squash is to prick it with a fork, place on a baking sheet and bake whole at 375 F (200 C) for about an hour, depending on the size. Once it’s cooked, leave to cool slightly, then cut it from top to bottom. Scoop out the seeds, then separate the strands using a fork.

Serve with your favourite spaghetti sauce, or simply drizzle with a little flavourful oil and serve as a side.

Get dressed

Green Salad

My friend Kristin has been bugging me to share a couple of salad dressings I regularly make. They’re both favorites for simple green salads, whether it’s just chopped romaine hearts, spicy arugula leaves, or a mixture of baby gourmet greens like spinach, raddiccio, beet tops, lambsquarter, purslane, sorrel and endive.

Both of these dressings benefit from adding dried herbs like thyme and oregano, or fresh herbs like parsley, tarragon or cilantro. If you decide to add dried herbs, it’s best to leave them to soften in the dressing for at least half an hour before you intend to serve it, but the mixture balance is up to you.

Both of these delicious tangy dressings are full-flavored, so use sparingly. When your salad is full of robust fresh organic greens, a drizzle of dressing goes a long way…

Okay, here are the basic recipes, enjoy!

Sweet Balsamic Dressing:

1 cup Balsamic vinegar
1 cup light agave nectar
2 cups hemp oil
1 tbs thyme
fresh tarragon, parsley and cilantro, chopped

Combine all the ingredients and shake to infuse.

Creamy Tahini Dressing:

2 tbs hemp oil
1/4 cup toasted sesame oil (Not plain sesame oil)
1/2 cup tahini
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup water
2 small green onions (white and green parts)
1 tbs lemon juice
1 1/2 tbs shoyu
2 fresh garlic cloves
1 tbs pine nuts
1/4 tsp seasalt
1/4 tsp pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a blender, or use an inversion blender and whizz in a bowl.

Photo by Kristin Burns, with thanks.

Pumpkin Pizza


Could this be the most delicious pizza in the world? Here’s private chef Kat Turner proudly showing a pizza while I gaze on lovingly, tempted by its sweet aromas, excited to taste a bite. Her pizza’s fresh out of the wood-burning oven here in Chicago, Illinois, home of the traditional deep-crust pizza, but currently nurturing a new breed of pizza pioneers.

Kat specializes in cooking food with an eye to special dietary needs, such as no dairy, no wheat or no nightshades. Her hand-kneaded pizza dough is sometimes made with traditional wheat, and other times made with a gluten-free flour blend, then topped with a robust combination of allergy-friendly ingredients.

First, she smeared it with her own ‘nomato’ sauce. It’s a special blend of beets, carrots, onions, celery, thyme, bay leaf, and a tiny bit of chicken stock to make it more robust. No tomato needed. Sometimes she makes it stronger flavored still by adding garlic and Italian herbs such as fresh parsley and oregano, but tonight it’s acting purely as a base for the other toppings.

First up, there’s a killer sage oil, made by heating minced garlic and fresh sage in a skillet, then adding oil and gently continuing to infuse the oil with flavor. After a while, Kat strains the sage and garlic, pressing them to release as much of the liquid as possible, then adds a little lemon juice and minced spinach to make a rich deep green color. A little goes a long way, so she painted the pizza with just a dab or two.

Next, we added some of the butternut squash and onion that I roasted and blogged about here. On top of that, Kat added a some nuggets of mozzarella and herb-rolled goat’s cheese, plus a few plump balsamic-glazed sliced mushrooms.

Then it went straight into the superhot oven… And you know what? I really do think it was the most delicious pizza in the world at that moment.

Photo by Kristin Burns

Time for squash


As autumn draws in, opportunities arise for slow roasting squash. As we speak, the air around me is filled with the aroma of sweet caramelizing squash juices meeting nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper, sage and thyme in their roasting pan. Doused in a light grapeseed oil with a splash of water, the whole deal took about ten minutes to prepare, but at 325 degrees, the cooking flavors will scent the air for the next 3 hours. Come supper time, I’ll be ready to blend the squash with caramelized onions and garlic and serve it with plain boiled organic short grain rice, macrobiotic-style. Would you like to join me?

^ back to top

© 2014 OrganicFoodee.com All Rights Reserved. Website by: Get Lucas