Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Blog Anniversary Giveaway - Palm Leaf Plates

Congrats to Tami on winning the jar of organic raw honey! I hope you're enjoying it as much as I love mine!

In honor of the blog anniversary, I'm holding another giveaway for my readers thanks to Marx Foods! After the amazing shipment of mushrooms I received, they kindly offered to let me try their Palm Leaf Plates. The plates are made from naturally discarded Adaka palm tree leaves, collected after they have fallen from the trees. They are rinsed several times and then air dried. Finally, they are stretched and flattened into different shapes and sun-dried before shipping. These plates are literally leaves, so they are biodegradable and compostable. 

Amazingly, they are the most durable temporary plate I've used. They stand up to foods that are soupy and meats that need cutting, all without having to worry about sturdiness. It's even possible to wash them and use again before resigning them to the compost pile after some meals. The plates are surprisingly thick, but as light as a feather. They have "grip" to them from the natural texture of the leaves, which allows you to keep a firm grasp on the plate, and the food does not slide around.

The ladies at book club got to enjoy them as well the other night while we enjoyed our snacks over discussing the last Stieg Larsson novel (::sniff::), and the consensus was pleasantly positive. We loved having a different type of plate around the table to add character to our meal.

I love the natural grain look and the uneven texture of the plates. It's a great conversation piece and it does give you a good feeling not to be adding junk to the trash. Plus it's picnic season! This would be a great contribution to any outdoor party.

The giveaway is now closed. Thank you for entering!

To officially enter the giveaway for 25 Palm Leaf Plates, visit Marx Foods and leave a comment about what other product you'd like to try. Anyone is welcome to enter, but I must be able to contact you via email. The plates can only be shipped to the United States or Canada (but for International readers, if you have a US or Canadian shipping address, you can still enter!).


You can be entered more than once by completing the following steps below - but you still must leave a comment (one per action per person) to receive multiple entries.

1. Follow Marx Foods on Twitter.
2. Become a fan of Marx Foods on Facebook.
3. Become a follower of Le Grand Fromage.
4. Follow Le Grand Fromage on Twitter and tweet about this giveaway: Win @MarxFoods' Palm Leaf Plates via @BLeGrandFromage:
5. Become a fan of Le Grand Fromage on Facebook.

If you already have completed any of these actions, still leave a comment letting me know to receive your extra entries!

The giveaway is now closed. Thank you for entering!

The giveaway will end on July 9, 2010 at 11:59pm EST. Any comments received after this time will not be included in the giveaway. The winner will be selected using The winner will be contacted via email and will have 24 hours to respond, otherwise another winner will be selected.

Good Luck!

Disclaimer: Marx Foods provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose.  Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

One Year Anniversary

Wow. A whole year.

I have learned so much in this past year. I actually haven't had the time to sit back and reflect upon my blog. I've been doing more behind-the-scenes research than anything and still have so much to share with my readers. I respect accurate research and benefit the most from thorough explanations of why certain foods are healthy, and why specific combinations are better for digestive health. I attempt to not be overwhelming or convolute a great recipe with science, but sometimes I just can't help myself from being fascinated and wanting to share what I've learned.

The purpose of my blog is to get people trying new things. If you at least try something new, even if only once, at least you'll know why something isn't for you and find a new direction to go in. I think too many people have a "safe zone" and are too scared to move away from their magical little box. However, when it comes to food and health, we have whole generations that have been brainwashed into dangerous corners. It's not their fault. The entire system is polluted with lies and it's difficult to find your way to healthy nutrition, which is branded as falsely dangerous to unnecessarily expensive. I'm attempting to share why it's necessary to eat healthy foods, even if they cannot always be organic for my readers. Education is the first step.

From a week of cheap, organic meals to unique recipes like the Potato Chip Cookie to fun experiments like the Cromufini, I've shared my take on good food and have so much more to go. I'm still most proud of my first post, Panini de Chocolat et Brie. I had ample time to let my writing shine and got to experience one of the world's top cheeses on my first go.

I've met a multitude of fellow food bloggers who have guided me on my journey. All my friends from Foodbuzz have been amazing and provided a lot of support. The bloggers that inspired me and gave me courage that I could sustain a blog were Robin from Caviar & Codfish and Susan from Food Blogga. I do not know them personally, although they have made my day before by responding to my posts and comments during their busy lives, but their amazing recipes and posts gave me confidence to try food blogging myself. The organic food blogger that keeps me well educated on a variety of issues is Kristen from Food Renegade. Silvia from Citron et Vanille is one of the sweetest food bloggers and has incredible culinary knowledge. Trix from Tasty Trix also has unique recipes and shares food history, as well as helped me with my New Orleans visit. And Kathy from The Colors of Indian Cooking gave me my first "blog award" which inspired me to keep going since it confirmed people were, in fact, reading the blog (::scary::).

Although my broad focus has been organic foods, I would like to find my own niche. I'm still new to many blogger activities and am practicing my photography skills, but thankfully with this being a hobby, I have no deadline and can keep perfecting what I share over time. I would like to start posting more, so be on the lookout for more this coming year.

I hope you've enjoyed watching the blog grow, and I enjoy getting to know my readers more, so feel free to leave comments to chat about food with me.

In celebration, I made a cake. A lazy cake. I had run out of standard cake ingredients, but this vegan cake tastes better than most cakes I've tried, so I'm quite happy with it. The frosting, however, is not vegan because I just cannot stay away from cream cheese, or butter, for long.

Thanks for celebrating with me!

Vegan Chocolate Cake
Printable Recipe

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cupturbinado
2 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar, with The Mother
1/2 cup olive oil
3/4 cup water
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350*F and butter a cake pan. Add all ingredients together in a mixer and blend for 1 min, scrapping down the sides if necessary. Pour batter into the buttered cake pan and bake for 30 min. Allow to cool before frosting.

~Original by Brie.

Cream Cheese Frosting
Printable Recipe

4 oz butter, softened
4 oz cream cheese, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Add all ingredients to a mixer and blend on medium-high until smooth and creamy. Using a frosting spatula or wide knife, spread the frosting onto the top of the cake, and the sides if desired. Keep the cake refrigerated if not eaten immediately.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Green Meadows Farm - Blueberry & Lemon Sweet Tea

Ahhh, blueberry season. A great time of year to welcome summer by picking your own berries. Blueberries are wonderful since they are not overly sweet and can be center stage or compliment any type of dish, sweet or savory.

Blueberries are one of the best antioxidant raw fruits with an abundance of different nutrients that can help the body fight free radicals, maintain healthy brain function, and maintain a healthy digestive system, including preventing cancer.

To enjoy all the healthy, and tasty, benefits blueberries have to offer, it's essential to find a trusted source. Luckily, an organic farm is only a short drive away from my town, where I can pick to my heart's content.

The season was a little late this year compared to last, but the blueberries were out in full force. The bushes were overflowing with blueberries and they have been as delicious as ever. The berries were so plentiful this year, each time I was able to get pounds from any bush I chose. Their farm is so clean and vibrant in the full sun. No bugs to bother me while I'm picking and just the sound of the wind washing over the trees. Once I got the berries home, I've even been sneaking some straight from the freezer since they have the consistency of sorbet that way.

I went three weekends this year and was able to get to know my farmers better each time. The Greens' have been farming organic blueberries for just under a decade and love what they do. Both are quite knowledgeable about organic farming and foods, and were happy to talk to me more about their farm.

The Greens' are so sweet and value enlightening their customers about the health benefits of blueberries and the organic practices of their farm. Delores knows her farm well and can point you in the right direction in the field to get the best berries. It was a pleasure speaking with her and hearing stories of introducing people to organic berries. The Greens' love seeing families come to pick berries so younger generations can learn the value of where their food comes from. Ronny takes pride in the work they put into the fields to keep chemicals from their land. He has stories that go way back in their family history and knows the ins and outs of farming. It's great to see a couple putting effort into keeping traditional practices alive, even if the work can be difficult.

Green Meadows Farm, named after their family and the beautiful land, has its organic certification from the USDA which doesn't come cheap. In fact, the price has skyrocketed in the past few years. They are aware of many farmers who grow organic products and would love to market them as such, but cannot afford to pay the government for certification. The ability to maintain this status requires diligent work to keep thorough records of sales, blueberry quantities, and preparation for inspections. A pound of their juicy blueberries is only $3.25. Comparatively, in local organic stores, 6-8 oz of blueberries sells for $5 to $6. Plus, the Greens' allow you to eat blueberries for free while out picking in the field, which allows their customers to try their product directly from its source and get a tasty snack in the process.

While they have been approached by corporations to sell their crop for commercial purposes, the Greens' prefer to allow locals to enjoy the benefits of organic blueberries directly. I am very thankful for their dedication to a local, sustainable, organic product and hope they are able to continue providing their blueberries for years to come to the surrounding communities. The Greens' enjoy meeting their customers directly to talk about their blueberries, share recipes, and share the happiness of providing blueberries and other connections to local, organic farms.

In fact, a past customer shared with Delores a recipe for blueberry sweet tea, which she has tweaked and made her own. A pitcher of this sweet, refreshing tea awaits after returning from picking in the warm field. She graciously shared the recipe with me, which I highly encourage you to make. Even for the South, it's a unique tea that wins rave reviews. So be sure to find a local farm to enjoy the benefits of local produce and the chance to get to know your farmers. Plus this tea will entice and hold you over while you look.

Blueberry & Lemon Sweet Tea
7 cups water, separated
2 family size tea bags (or 6-8 regular size tea bags)
1/2 cup turbinado
1/2 cup blueberries, puréed
1 can frozen organic lemonade concentrate
1 lemon, sliced

Boil 3 cups of water and steep the tea bags for 10 min. Discard the tea bags and add the turbinado and puréed blueberries, stirring well. Add lemonade concentrate and stir until combined. Add the remaining 4 cups of water and lemon slices. Chill before serving.

~Yields 9 cups.

~Recipe by Delores Green.