A Case of Wine from Glenny

  • October 23, 2011 9:51 am

Last week Alexandra asked me to put together a case of some of my favorite wines for her to enjoy throughout the fall.  (I work at a little wine shop called Smith & Vine in Brooklyn).  I happily agreed – what fun!  She also suggested that I write a little bit about what I chose and why, hoping to encourage all of you to check out some of these delicious (and affordable!) wines.

The case was mixed: six red, five white and one rose.  All organic.  I’m going to pick just a few of my top choices to tell you about:

-Finca Luzon  Jumilla Verde 2010: Made from the grape Monastrell (also called Mourvedre in France), this Spanish wine is dark and earthy with lots of plumminess and spice.  My favorite thing to eat with it?  A falafel sandwich.

-Reunion 2009: An Argentinian gem made with the grape Malbec, this red wine is full-bodied and full-flavored – exactly what you want from a new world Malbec.  It tastes of blackberries and cherries, dark chocolate and a hint of spicy pepper.  Handcrafted by the winemaker and his family, it is made with sustainable farming practices and organic grapes.  Easy going and approachable, this wine is perfect with anything from big barbecue flavors to more subtle and rich autumn fare.

-Domaine de la Fruitiere Jardin de la Fruitiere 2009: From the Loire Valley in Western France, this lovely white wine is a blend of Melon de Bourgogne and Chardonnay.  Melon de Bourgogne is also known as Muscadet, and is a grape that has flavors of clean minerality and limestone.  Paired with the fruitier Chardonnay, the result is a delightfully dry and crisp wine.  It tastes like green apples!

-Shinn Estates Coalescence 2010: We love the Shinns!  And you should too.  Their gorgeous organic vineyard on Long Island is well worth the day trip – you’ll be pleasantly surprised by all of the tasty pours this husband and wife team have to offer.  One of my favorites is their zippy little white wine made from a field blend of grapes from their vineyards.  Talk about not wasting anything!  The Coalescence is young and bright with lots of citrus.  Pair it with anything from the sea and you’ll be very very pleased.

Enjoy the recommendations!  If you can’t find any of these wines in shops near you, check out www.winesearcher.com and plug in your zip code.  It is a great tool for finding specific bottles that you’re dying to taste.

Cin cin!

-Glenny

What You Don’t Know: Paper Towels And Waste

  • October 21, 2011 10:33 am
Try this experiment: how many paper towels did you use today? I’m not just talking about what you used at home. What did you use at work? In the bathroom at work? At a restaurant at lunch? In that restroom? And anywhere else along the way?
I gave up paper towels at home (except for the very worst case scenarios…let’s just say I have a cat that pukes not infrequently) a while back. Still, I did this experiment recently and realized I was still using them on the go — often without thinking — and even though I always carry a cloth napkin in my bag! I always using my cloth napkin for lunches and food on the go but forgot to consider for when drying my hands in public rest rooms. Amazing how ingrained some of this behavior is.
Here’s a little tidbit about paper towels and waste from a PracticallyGreen.com action I recently edited:

“Let’s say the average American works 240 days a year and washes their hands at least three times a day while at the office. If only one paper towel is used (some people use more), that adds up to 720 a year. This doesn’t even include the number of paper towels and napkins being used in restaurants, retail stores, stadiums, and libraries. Mind boggling.

A little perspective: the NRDC estimates that if every household in the United States used one less roll of paper towels, we could save 544,000 trees.

According to the EPA, paper accounts for 28 percent of municipal waste contributing 26 million tons to landfills. Though paper towels are great for compost, sorting waste in public bathrooms is a challenge to say the least. These sorting issues plus fiber quality means paper towels used in public spaces are rarely recycled and often end up in landfills.”

So: If you haven’t already switched from paper towels to dishrags and cloth napkins, give it a whirl. And tuck a cloth napkin in your purse or computer bag, too, to use when you’re at your office or on the go. I tuck mine inside a cloth produce bag to protect it from all of the other stuff clogging what I now refer to as my mom bag: pretzel dust, odd arts and craft projects, reusable coffee mug and water bottle, receipts, marbles, hand cream, a reusable fork and spoon, and so on. You know the drill.
FYI, while you’re washing your hands don’t forget that regular old soap and water are all you need. Avoid soaps with synthetic fragrance and antibacterial pesticides like triclosan. It’s just not necessary. The American Medical Association has come out against it, saying it may encourage bacterial resistance to antibiotics. And an FDA advisory committee found it–and other antibacterial hand soap agents–has no benefits over plain soap and water.  There are environmental issues with it, too, but I’ll spare you the details–for now.

The Butcher’s Guide To Well-Raised Meat In Whole Living Magazine

  • October 17, 2011 9:27 am

Thanks Whole Living for including some easy advice from The Butcher’s Guide to Well-Raised Meat on how to buy the best meat for the environment and your health in their November issue!

Running Skirts in The New York Times

  • October 17, 2011 9:21 am

So I started running lately to clear my head from writing etc. And I kept seeing all of these women running in skirts. At first I thought they were all going to play tennis. But…they had no rackets. Then I realized running skirts are a thing.

So I wrote an article about them for The New York Times. While it’s not my usual green focus, I did ask skirt designers about eco-fabrics. That part didn’t make it into the story. Apparently there is some recycled poly and more used for some running clothes, but since materials that wick away sweat and don’t chafe are crucial for marathoners, organic cotton isn’t high on the list.

Recipe: Roasted Chicken Times Three

  • October 16, 2011 9:59 am

Hi there!  Glenny here with another post from my kitchen.

As I mentioned before, I plan on visiting Fleisher’s new shop in Park Slope as often as possible.  I certainly do not eat too much meat, but am very happy to indulge in the very good, well-raised stuff when I can.  This past week I stopped by for a whole chicken.  Roasting a chicken is extremely easy, and a great way to make a few meals in one evening.  You’re saving energy by only using your oven once, and you’re exercising some creativity in the kitchen – what to do with the leftovers?  Here is what I did, complete with a basic recipe for your autumnal roast chicken:

Roasted Chicken with Apples and Sage

3-4 lb whole chicken

4 apples, quartered and deseeded (I used Golden Delicious, but almost all will do)

1 apple, chopped into 1 inch cubes

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons chopped sage

2 tablespoons thyme

1 cup white wine (I used a full bodied chardonnay, but a pick your favorite – you’ll be drinking the rest!)

salt and pepper

Prep your chicken.  Season with salt and pepper and put in a roasting pan.  Spread quartered apples around the outside and sprinkle them with half of your herbs.  Mix the chopped apples with a little butter, salt and pepper and stuff in the cavity of the chicken.  Mix the remaining herbs and butter together and spread it both under and on top of the chicken skin.  Pour the wine around the bird, over your apples.

In a 425F oven, cook for 30 minutes, and then reduce temperature to 375F.  Continue cooking for about 40 minutes more or until a thermometer reads 160F and the juices run clear (opposed to red).  Let it sit for about 15 minutes before carving.  Serve with the roasted apples and their juices.

Delicious!  After enjoying this one evening, I still had a lot of chicken left and wasn’t too interested in having the same meal two nights in a row.  So, for lunch the next day it was roasted chicken sandwiches with feta, olives, and market tomatoes.  Followed by a wonderful soup for dinner.  I simply sauteed garlic, onions, carrots and butternut squash in a deep sauce pan.  Added chicken stock, tomatoes, kale, a few cups of farro and the leftover chicken.  Drizzled with homemade pesto, it celebrates lots of flavors; perfect for an October evening.  And the best news?  I’ll be eating that soup for days – this chicken has provided for many many meals.  Easy.

Farro soup, day two.

Q&A: Toxic Smells At Work

  • October 13, 2011 1:11 pm

THE QUESTION

Hi Alexandra,

Last Thursday there was a very strong smell of burning plastic [at work]. The school sent out the AC specialists who thought it was the belt, or burnt out motor. They turned the AC off for hours and the smell [was] persistant. I had to go home because the smell made me nauseated, gave me a headache and irritated my throat and lungs.

It wasn’t just me but all the students who were here that day.

One specialist thought it was the monitors heating up. But when on Friday someone suggested it was the HUGE curtains we have hanging (pvc looking and OLD), he asked me if I wanted to smell it.

When I did I vomited all over the place.

So, we took down the curtains after they brought a can to measure the air toxicity level in the room.

Do you by any chance have any suggestions about what to do now? Send the curtains for testing? Should I get a lung test? Any ideas on who might know?

I know you must be very busy, but if you have the time I would really appreciate any advice.

Thank you,

S.

THE ANSWER

Dear S.,

Sounds horrid.

Is the smell gone? What did the air toxicity test show? If the curtains remain down and were the problem, they should be gotten rid of–why bother testing them. Ventilation is important — open windows if you can. Does the school have any (industrial) air purifiers? Or fans?

I’d say get rid of the curtains entirely and if the smell is gone then you’re good. I’m not a doctor but I don’t think a lung test is needed if the smell was a one time thing and you’re no longer feeling sick.

There are environmental experts who come in and test air and that is what I’d suggest but it sounds like [the school] already did those tests. If the smell remains, push to get the results of the test and ask them to remove the curtains.

Best,

Alexandra

Fleisher’s Brooklyn Outpost Is Open!

  • October 9, 2011 11:20 am

Another weekend post from Glenny:

This past week Fleisher’s, of Hudson Valley butcher fame, opened their Park Slope outpost!  Bravo Jessica and Josh!  The neighborhood was hungry for well-raised high-quality meat, and I for one will be frequenting the shop.  The space is polished and inviting, bustling with Brooklynites excited about what’s for dinner.  The cases are bright and filled with various cuts of chicken, pork, lamb, and beef.  The smiling employees will be happy to instruct you on any chop, loin, rack or shoulder that is new to you.  And don’t forget to pick up some local cheeses, crackers, and jams to round out your meal.

When I stopped by the shop, I was heading to my family home in the Catskills, so I was interested in buying some lamb for the grill.  I figured it would pair nicely with the eggplant and sunchokes I found at my Greenmarket the morning before.  Besides, it might be getting colder, but I’m reluctant to ditch the grill yet.  Josh suggested the loin and rib chops.  Experiment with seasonings: parsley, garlic, cumin, lemon zest, rosemary, mint, olive oil, salt, and pepper.  On a hot grill, they only need to cook 5 to 6 minutes per side.  They were beautifully pinkish on the inside, full of deep lamb flavor.  I preferred the loin chops, which were a bit meatier and had a stronger, more serious gamy and grassy taste.

Lamb from Fleisher's. Gorgeous, no?

Not much is better than being able to escape the city for a few days, and I must admit, the highlights of the excursion were definitely the meal times.  Even if you don’t have access to a grill, I highly recommend paying Josh, Jess, and their fabulous crew a visit – you’ll leave with a bag full of something delicious (and sustainable) and will definitely learn a thing or two in the meantime.

What You Don’t Know: Saving Energy In The Kitchen

  • October 4, 2011 9:57 am

How often do you use your oven?  Probably a lot more now that the temperatures are dropping and a little warmth in your home is welcome.  (As I type there’s a celeriac roasting in mine.) And how often do you think about minimizing the energy output of your kitchen?  Hopefully more once you read this easy how-to list from The Conscious Kitchen, excerpted below.  Every little bit helps!

MINIMIZING STOVE AND OVEN ENERGY OUTPUT

Whatever kind of cooker you have – new or old – here are ways to minimize its impact:

-Make sure all elements are in good working order.

-Match your pot size to the burner size or you will waste heat/energy.

-Pots and pans come with lids for a reason.  Use them.

-If you use drip pans under your burners, keep them clean.  And don’t use aluminum foil liners for this purpose.  Good-quality reflector pans save energy and are made to last.

-Gas stove burner holes can get clogged.  If the flame is uneven or yellow, turn it off and carefully unclog it with a pin or an unfurled paper clip.

-Calibrate your oven (see below).

-Don’t preheat, even when baking.  And don’t repeatedly open the oven door to check cooking items.  Both waste heat.  If you have an oven with a glass door, peek through there.

-Like your refrigerator, the oven door has a seal.  Make sure it’s tight and not sagging, and that the door hinges are in good working order.

-Don’t overuse the self-cleaning feature (don’t use it more than once a month), or you’ll waste the energy you were hoping to save by having it.  Place a sheet pan in the oven to catch drips and grease so you won’t even need to clean.

-If you turn on the oven, fill it up.  Use that heat to bake/roast/broil more than one thing at a time.

-For more information, check out the following websites: American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy: ACEEE.org; ConsumerEnergyCenter.org; HomeEnergy.org; EnergyStar.gov.

Calibrating an Oven

Ovens often run too hot or too cold.  To fix this, you can adjust your own cooking to match however your oven seems to go, you can get a thermometer, or you can “calibrate” it (fancy for fixing it).  This is easiest to do with a digital stove – follow the instructions in the manual.  For nondigital ovens and/or if you don’t have the manual, Google the instructions for your make and model.  The process can be overwhelming for the un-handy, so call in a repair person or a handy friend if needed.