A Sustainable Kitchen brings people together to learn, share, innovate and discuss sustainable strategies for everyday life. Welcome to the table!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Food Desert Or Food Forest?

 Small acts can transform the world. In doubt? Please don't tell Ron Finley of South Los Angeles. Actually, if you are a doubter, Ron just might be the man to change your mind. He found a solution right outside his front door, literally. It's a small thing really, something almost anyone could do, but the difference is he did it. It's making a difference.
 Watch this short, lovely and inspiring video. If you are in doubt let Ron Finley change your mind and hopefully inspire you to do your own small act that can help transform the world.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Meet the California Spiny Lobster

What happens when you mix A Sustainable Kitchen, Seafood for the Future, Edible Westside Magazine and Ray Garcia of FIG Restaurant?
You get a demo featuring this spiny lobster dream team and more chances to enjoy this local crustacean on a special limited menu later in the season. Details will be revealed in the winter issue of the Edible Westside Magazine due out in early December.

from our Seafood Expert, Kim Thompson 

When most of us think of lobster, the image of the bright red crustacean with giant claws
strewn out in front, glistening on a plate with a side of melted butter comes to mind. Over
the course of the summer, coastal communities all over Southern California celebrate
these clawed American or “Maine” lobsters from New England in a series of Lobster
Fests. Meanwhile, the clawless, California native spiny lobster is nowhere to be found.

California spiny lobster season is officially in session, yet you’ll be hard-pressed to
find festivals held in their honor or “Surf and Turf” specials featuring the local spinys.
Because they are both considered cold water lobsters, there is no overwhelming
difference in taste between the locals and their imported counterparts from the Northeast.
Arguments in favor of American lobster are the claw meat and price, while California
spinys tend to yield more edible meat pound for pound. In regards to sustainability,
both fisheries are well-managed to ensure healthy stocks and minimize impacts on their
surrounding environments. So why don’t we see California spiny lobster on more menus
in Southern California? Supply!

To give some perspective, the spiny lobster trap fishery in California produced just
over 0.715 million pounds in 2010. The American lobster fishery produced more than
115.4 million pounds that same year. Given the limited supply of California spinys,
they cost more. The result, instead of savoring and celebrating local and responsibly
harvested lobster straight from the boat, we are utilizing more fossil fuels to export it
while we import responsible, but not-so-fresh American lobster from the other side of the

We can all agree this is silly! The local movement is growing and more and more, chefs
are looking to local seasonal items for their menus. Some are finding ways to include
local delicacies such as the California spiny lobster with special limited edition menus
and/or creating new and inspired dishes that feature the lobster rather than slapping the
whole thing on a plate flanked by a steak and butter.

This winter, show your support for local seafood and the restaurants that are thinking
outside the box to feature California spiny lobster. You can also purchase them for yourself to impress your guests at holiday parties at the Newport Dory Fleet, Ventura
Harbor Fisherman’s Market, and through the Santa Barbara Community Seafood CSF.

*Please check websites for availability.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Farmers Market Thanksgiving Recipe

from our Food Editor, Katheryne Phillips

Are you bored of the same mashed potatoes every year? Try mixing it up this Thanksgiving with creamy mashed potatoes with cauliflower and Parmesan. The cauliflower add a robust and almost meaty taste to the potatoes, and the cheese adds just the right amount of salty goodness. Your family will love it, and it's a great way to sneak some extra veggies into your kids' diet!


5-6  potatoes washed & peeled (I used creamy potatoes from Flora Bella Farms)
1 small head or about 1/2 lb of white cauliflower (I got my cauliflower from Weiser Farms)
2 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons of heavy cream
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Chives for garnish (I use Humble Seed Chives from my own garden)
Potato masher or ricer
oven safe glass dish greased with butter or oil


Preheat the oven to 400F
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Heavily season the water with salt. Chop the potatoes and the cauliflower into 1 inch size pieces. Once the water is boiling add the potatoes and boil for 3 minutes, then add the cauliflower and boil for another 8 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender. Once the veggies are all soft drain the water by pouring the pot into a strainer. Once the water is drained dump the veggies back into the pot and start mashing. Add the cream, butter, and Parmesan to the mix and whip it all together until creamy. Salt and pepper to taste.

Pour the creamy mixture into an greased oven safe dish and bake the dish for 12-14 minutes. The potatoes should be browned on the top, and a bit bubbly from the cheese. Remove from the heat, and garnish with chives. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving. Then enjoy this hearty take on this classic dish.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Profile: Food Forward

Meet Rick Nahmias, the Founder and Executive Director of Food Forward, SoCal's largest harvesting for the hungry non-profit. Food Forward's volunteers have rescued nearly 5 million servings of fresh local produce for our community's most vulnerable since forming 3 1/2 years ago.

Q: What does Food Forward do on a daily basis?
Rick: Food Forward connects people with people through food - and is making great strides to curtail food waste across our region by assembling our corps of volunteers to harvest excess backyard and public space fruit, and glean local farmers markets and parts of the downtown wholesale terminal. We then donate 100% of this produce to over 50 agencies serving people in need: food pantries, women's shelters, after school programs, homeless agencies, HIV/AIDS programs, etc.  

We also have a education and food preserving program called CAN IT! which is a quarterly hands-on workshop where participants learn a diverse range of food preserving techniques from professionals working on the cutting edge of this growing field.  We'll be launching the 2013 Foodsteader Tour (as we call it) in Spring next year - and I'm happy to say the last two years of this program have sold out entire workshops from gourmet fruit jamming to cheese making. With all teachers donating their time and locations, this is a social enterprise with 100% of the funds raised going right back into Food Forward's harvesting programs.  One other way we raise funds for our work is through Private Picks which are fun team-building activities for corporations, schools and faith-based groups. (http://foodforward.org/get-involved/private-pick-program/)
Q: How does sustainability fit in with your work?
Rick: I am adamant that the amount of food waste in this country - over 40%- is shameful. Coupling this with the fact that we live amidst over 500,000 acres of decommissioned commercial fruit and nut orchards that STILL produce fruit year after year - it is hard NOT to be committed to feeding people with this healthy food, and stewarding these trees which are older than many of our parents. I came out of a career as a photographer and was a trained cook.  Having documented the human cost of feeding America in Californian fields (see "The Migrant Project" - http://themigrantproject.com) and witnessing the cruel irony that those who feed us often cannot afford to feed themselves made me angry and wanting to effect change.  The 2008 election galvanized me further on several fronts, not least of which was seeing mindless food waste in my neighborhood in the form of unused fruit dropping to the ground. A few weeks later I decided to try this idea by gleaning a neighbor's tree.  Since then we've grown to nearly 4,000 volunteers strong and have held nearly 600 harvesting events. I find the work incredibly rewarding, immediately and viscerally gratifying and I love the community building that has come with it. Our fruit family keeps growing and welcomes folks of all kinds, knowing in the end it's all about one of the simplest pleasures: feeding people.
Q: What challenges have you faced?
Rick: Honestly, managing our growth has been a challenge.  Our first two years were all volunteer run (no paid staff) and produced over 350,000 lbs of rescued produce. At that point it was clear LA had been bitten by the gleaning bug, and we were getting requests from other agencies in need of our produce, from homeowners in other counties, from volunteers wanting to glean more and thus to meet the demand, we began to hire a couple of staff, build a board and get our 501.c.3.  We now are four full-time staff, and two part-time and modestly saturate LA and Ventura Counties and have some presence in Santa Barbara and Orange County but are truly just scratching the surface of "Fruitland."  We are committed to thoughtful sustainable growth but there is no other geography in the country with our abundance. The possibilities are almost endless with what can be done to have Southern California be a growing source of sustainable food for our region and beyond.  We've just kicked off our GO OUT ON A LIMB WITH FOOD FORWARD year-end fundraising campaign, and contingent on its success - donations can be made at foodforward.org in any amount - we will grow our gleaning to San Gabriel Valley in 2013 and add 6 more farmers markets where our volunteers are gleaning at 300% above the programs expectations.
Q: Who is your sustainable super-hero? Who inspires you?
Rick: I've come from a creative arts background - not sure there is a degree in professional urban gleaning anywhere in the US currently - I have a huge number of influences and heroes ranging from Edward R. Murrow to John Waters and most recently, Carlo Petrinni who I had the pleasure of hearing speak in person at the Slow Food Festival/Terra Madre last month in Torino.
Q: Where do you see yourself in five years?

Rick: I see Food Forward growing both in size but also in depth. I would estimate we currently glean maybe 1-2% of what is available in the LA area. I'd love to see that just increase to 10-20%, still a small fraction, but something do-able that would make HUGE change in the immediate quality of our community's lives in so many ways: less hunger, less waste in landfills, greater awareness about self-sustaining practices, more community service, smaller carbon footprint, and satisfaction knowing some of the best produce in the world is going to appreciative bellies instead of dumpsters.  More specifically I'd love to see our CAN IT! program and the food line it generates (http://foodforward.org/store/) grow into a major social enterprise, and see more and more of our income come from earned income of various mission-related businesses.  Simply put, I'd just love to know Food Forward is still here, still thriving and we are still having the honor to keep doing this work.

Volunteers, fruit donors, and anyone wanting to get involved with us can do so by visiting FOODFORWARD.org.

Holiday Gift Crates Supporting Food Forward

Each year at holiday time, as a way to generate funds for their organization, a very limited number of Food Forward Gift Crates which are filled with tasty small-batch, house-made gourmet foods and stylish Food Forward merchandise are sold. All of the food items are made with seasonal, locally harvested produce which is preserved within days of harvesting by the Can It! Crew of volunteers.

Inside your 2012 Food Forward Gift Crate you’ll find:

GINGERED MEYER LEMON MARMALADE  - great spread on toast or stirred in with yoghurt
GRAPEFRUIT ROSEMARY SIMPLE SYRUP  - the perfect ingredient for that special cocktail, or drizzled across a dessert 
PRESERVED MEYER LEMONS – a salt brine and Moroccan spices give these lemons their depth of flavor. Use several sections to stuff you favorite poultry, or chop finely and mix in for a great addition to salad dressings, marinades, hummus or other savory dishes. 
PERSIMMON CINNAMON TEA – a delightful and light herbal tea that can be drunk hot or cold, just follow the directions on the back of the bag.

* A Food Forward light-weight hoodie
* A Food Forward baseball cap
* A Foodsteader apron
* Two Orange Pomanders (traditional fragrant French-inspired holiday decoration with a history reaching back to the 15th century.)

All money raised from the sale of gift crates goes directly back to the organization’s programs to harvest more food for our community’s most vulnerable.

PRICE: $125 (+ $25 for local LA area delivery or UPS national ground shipping) 


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Today Is America Recycles Day !

Closing the Loop and Finishing the Cycle

Do you recycle?
Did you know that last year only 25% of the plastic in the United States was recycled? We know, that figure is shocking, and very expensive. Public agencies in California alone spend $300 Million in coastal litter clean up per year. This year we will add 14 BILLION pounds of trash to the ocean. We can do better!
Every ton of plastic we recycle saves:
-5774 KWH of electricity
-685 gallons of oil
-98 million BTU's of energy
-30 cubic yards of landfill

What can you do?
1. Get reusable shopping bags and use them.
Help ban single use plastic bags. We all shared our favorite reusable bags with you so you could see there is no 'right' one except for the one you will use.
2. Stop drinking bottled waters. Get a water filter for you home.
3. Avoid overly packaged products, especially food.

So you are already doing all of those things... fabulous. Are you closing the loop? Look for and buy products that are made from materials that are renewable, recyclable and recycled. The higher the recycled content the better, if it is post consumer, even better. What kind of products? First think practical and everyday, copier paper, almost all paper products. Then think big, and even high style like investment pieces like furniture and carpet or if you are remodeling, drywall and decking materials. If you don't see it at you favorite retailer, ask for it. Vote for recycling with your wallet.

Here are a couple of examples of of high design with great style, from two very sustainable companies and there is nothing 'crunchy' about either one.

Loll outdoor furniture made from recycled plastic milk jugs.

Flor carpet tiles, not only made from renewable recyclable and recycled materials,you can return them to the company and they will recycle them.

So remember when you recycle, close the loop and finish the cycle. Help create a demand for recycled products. WE can do better!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Romanesco, Really?

Apparently everyone knows about this veggie except for me. I opened my CSA box and saw the spiky green alien amidst the usual suspects of celery, radishes, peppers, kale. But what to do with this cross between cauliflower and broccoli?

Besides the convenience of having a box delivered to your door another perk is the challenge of using it all up, especially when you get a mystery ingredient like Romanesco.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thankful Thursday

from our Food Editor, Katheryne Phillips

One of my most favorite people in the world is my eight year old nephew Arion.  It doesn’t seem to matter what I’m doing with him, it’s always fun. I always learn, and I’m constantly laughing and smiling.

This week I had my favorite person all Sunday! Perfect time to show him how special I think he is. He has such a positive effect on me, he brings so much joy to our family, and I just wanted to show him what a great little guy everybody thinks he is.  We planned a day of fun in the sun, and obviously a pit stop at the toy store.

We got lucky because it just happened to be a perfect park day. Bright and sunny, cool breeze, and autumn leaves just starting to fall from the trees. We headed to the neighborhood park for a game of tag, a bit of rock climbing, and a giant cup of green tea lychee shaved ice from the Hawaiian Ice Truck.

After the park, we still had time to play video games, watch a movie, and as promised a visit to the toy store. As if the day hadn’t been good enough already, it just happened to be buy one get one free on the toy he wanted, score!

What a perfect ending to a perfect day, with the perfect person, my favorite person…Arion.

A Very Special Class, Join Us for a Holiday Workshop on 11.24


gifts from the kitchen
gift wrap and packaging
holiday decorations

In between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, join us for a special 'Holiday Workshop' class.
Let us help you take some of the stress out of the holiday preparations.
You will learn to make ornaments and decorations out of recyclable and recycled materials that are appropriate for all the winter holidays, easy elegant gifts from your kitchen that everyone will want and enjoy, and get great ideas for making wrapping and packaging part of the gift, all beautiful, all sustainable.
(Oh, also snacks and surprises!)

Saturday, November 24, 2012, 10:30am-12:30pm
Surfas, Culver City
For details, more information and to register for the class: 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

G2 Gallery Gives Thanks & Gives Back

G2 is an nature and wildlife photography gallery that husband and wife team Dan & Susan founded in 2008. A tight-knit, dedicated staff and an ever growing roster of artists that range from emerging photographers to legends like Ansel Adams.

The G2 Gallery specializes in nature and wildlife photography and all of our exhibits have conservation themes. Their mission is to bring awareness to critical issues affecting the environment through the works of artists who both inform and inspire.

With each new exhibit G2 partners with a different organization that is working on a cause related to the theme of the show.  They donate the proceeds from art sales to these causes.

There's really no place quite like The G2 Gallery.  There are other photography galleries, but not one whose mission is to expose and promote the beauty of the Earth.  G2 wanted to give people the opportunity to see these magnificent places and creatures so that they might feel compelled to act.

The biggest challenge in the gallery has been lighting.  They've solved this by replacing the bulbs with LEDs that have drastically cut energy consumption. I'd recommend the switch whether you're running a small business or just in your own home.

A chat with Susan...

How did you get involved in sustainability?

Growing up in rural Ontario, Canada, I developed a strong bond with nature and a deep love of the outdoors.  In Los Angeles, there is a wealth of nature readily available if you chose to engage with it. Living in Franklin Canyon, I had an opportunity to create a native plant garden which also attracts wildlife. After years of working on it, I have one of the most mature native plant gardens in the area and have received the distinction of being a  National Wildlife Federation Certified Backyard Habitat. I've recently joined the President's Council of National Wildlife Federation and serve on the Board of Directors for both Audubon California and the Friends of Ballona Wetlands.    

What is your favorite everyday sustainable living strategy?

By taking care of the wildlife that come through my garden I feel good about helping to restore habitat in my residential community.

How does the local food movement affect your community?

By hosting a CSA at The G2 Gallery we hope to help a much larger global community by reducing our carbon footprint. We share the goals of CSAs across the country providing sustainably harvested organic fruits and vegetables at the height of the season. 

Who is your Sustainable Superhero?

I'm motivated and inspired by so many it would be hard to name one. The young who are just entering the field filled with enthusiasm for making a difference, those who have been working in the field on a day to day basis and those who take their hard earned dollars and support the work that so many are doing.

What will you be doing in 5 years?

In five years we'll be about to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of The G2 Gallery!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Introducing Thankful Thursdays: Giving Thanks, Giving Back

Greetings from your friendly editor-in-chief ! 

Every Thursday in November we will be posting stories about people we are thankful for. I've asked all of our contributing editors to reach out with a gesture of thanks, big or small, and snap a pic to share with us. Imagine if we all reached out to someone and recognized them for being wonderful ?

Thankful Thursday

Not Just Thankful, Also Grateful
by Annette Eason, contributing editor and founder of A Sustainable Kitchen

Doing Thankful Thursdays in November is a great idea. The assignment is to say who you are thankful for and why, tell them and catch their reaction in a photo. When Dominique gave us the assignment, I knew immediately who I would thank, but I also knew there would be no way I would be able to get a photograph.

I am thankful, but more I am grateful for all the amazing people who have helped and worked so hard on A Sustainable Kitchen over the last two years. I am thanking them now, but a photo? We can't even get more than three in the same room for an editorial meeting. I think our record is five in one place at the same time at of our demos, but that was a fluke. 
Why? Because they are all volunteers with incredibly full and busy lives. And that is why I am so grateful, for their commitment and dedication. 

Thank you Dominique, Katheryne, Kim and Stephanie. 
Thank you John for our first venue and Jen for lending us your outstanding branding and graphic skills. 
Thank you Donna and Andrea for all the hours of help. 
Thank you Alex and Ray for your support and participation. 
I am grateful for you all.

Special Farmers Market Report


Wednesday was not just a regular Farmers Market day in Santa Monica, it was also Halloween and the day before Dia De Los Muertos. And we can report, both were well celebrated.

The Walking "Bread" were manning the Red Bread booth where they were actually selling "Brain" cookies and they were making a "killing".

Meanwhile, that infamous British hard rock band, "Trevor and His Cousin Alex" were rocking the Weiser Family Farm booth.

Lady Laura of Bubble Wrap (Laura Avery, SMFM manager, and yes it was all bubble wrap) was in attendance to oversee the entire affair.

Windrose was getting ready for Dia de los Muertos with a chili pepper alter.

And Catrinas (Jody from SMFM) was there to make sure all the preparations were complete.

We hope you have celebrated well too!