Q&A: How to have a sustainable Thanksgiving

  • November 14, 2012 9:31 am

Question:

Hi Alexandra,

How do you make your Thanksgiving as sustainable as possible? Are there certain ways that you make your holiday eco-friendly?

Thanks,

Mike

Answer:

Mike,

Thanks for your question. There are ways to make any celebration or holiday, including Thanksgiving, eco-friendlier. Here is a post I wrote last year on the Top 10 Ways to Have a Conscious Thanksgiving. That should give you some good ideas. Hint: it’s not only about the food.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Best,

Alexandra

New York Family Magazine: The Green Guru

  • March 1, 2012 1:25 pm

Thanks New York Family for this lovely feature:

The Green Guru

How Organic Living Expert And NYC Mom Alexandra Zissu Keeps Her Loft Clean, Cozy And Eco-Friendly

 

Found at the Market: Long Beans

  • September 17, 2011 9:37 am

Alexandra is out of town this weekend, so she requested that I post something food related for the weekend.  I happily obliged, excited to share a new discovery from last weekend’s farmers market.  Long beans!  They look bizarrely like some kind of aquatic tentacle, only barely resembling their well-known cousin, the string bean.  Intrigued by their funny shape and deep color, I had to buy some.

And am very glad I did – high in all sorts of vitamins and nutrients, these beans can be prepared just like green beans.  Used mainly in Asian dishes, they have a subtle beany flavor and a satisfying crunch.  Wanting to cling to summer a little longer, I used them in a colorful salad, spiked with a lemon and dill vinaigrette.  When served with grilled chicken and roasted tomatoes, it made for a lovely late summer meal.

-Glenny

SO LONG SUMMER SALAD

long beans, corn, olives, lemon, dill

Vinaigrette
3 lemons, juice and zest
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp chopped red onion
1 heaping tbsp mustard
lots and lots of dill
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together.  I used my immersion blender for faster emulsification, but a whisk will do just fine.

Salad
long beans
green beans
corn
kalamata olives
cheese*

After blanching the beans and chopping them into bite-size pieces, combine with cooked corn, chopped olives and cheese.  *I wanted to use feta, but didn’t have any at home, so instead went for the nutty, butterscotchy Roomano, a super aged gouda.  It worked very nicely with the salty olives and the citrusy dressing.  Pour vinaigrette over and mix thoroughly.  Garnish with more dill.

Helping Local Farmers

  • September 7, 2011 1:38 am

Though some New Yorkers think hurricane Irene was a non event it was decidedly not. My CSA farm of 11 years was flooded and has shut down for the season, as did many other farms in New York, New Jersey, and Vermont–a true eye opener re what climate change can do to local agricultural systems.

Here are some resources if you’d like to help:

Just Food Hurricane Relief Information: JustFood.org

Hudson Valley Food Network Irene Farm Relief: HVFoodNetwork.com

I’m also constantly updating information as I hear it on my Facebook page, click here.

Q&A: Watery Egg Whites

  • August 18, 2011 9:52 am

THE QUESTION:

(This question came to me over Twitter, hence its brevity.)

What’s up with watery egg whites? I read real fresh eggs or old hen I only get eggs at the farm mrkt – think it’s the farm?

THE ANSWER

There is a lot of conflicting ideas out there about why some eggs have a watery or runny consistency.  Is it from a lack of protein in the hen’s feed?  Or maybe these eggs aren’t fresh?  After wading through a lot of online forums, which were not providing straight answers, I found BackyardChickens.com to be particularly informative. Keep in mind that I’m no chicken farmer!

I didn’t find a definitive answer for watery whites, but it doesn’t appear to have anything to do with the freshness of the eggs or how the chicken was raised.  Here are six conclusions from BackyardChickens.com:

1. Occasional eggs with spreading (runny) whites are observed originating from apparently normal flocks.
2. The runny eggs tend to be laid by the same hens.
3. The existence of runny eggs has nothing to do with freshness; it can be observed in newly laid eggs.
4. The albumen height and Haugh unit rating is not different between runny and normal eggs.
5. There are differences in biochemical composition between normal and runny eggs.
6. There appears to be a genetic effect on the incidence of runny eggs, suggesting that selection might
reduce the incidence.

Now all of that makes me kind of dizzy, truth be told (Haugh unit??). I kind of understand what it all means, but not really. If I had an egg with watery whites or yolks or anything that gave me pause, I’d just ask my farmer. It’s really the best option, and one I take advantage of as much as possible. It can only be done when you know the person who grew your veggies, raised your chickens, and harvested your eggs. My farmers offer explanations and advice as only they’re equipped to do. And I find them all very reassuring. If these eggs came from a farmers’ market, march right on over to the farmer and ask him or her what’s up. I have a feeling you’ll be glad you did. If they didn’t come from a market, you might prefer buying eggs from someone you can talk to and query when you want to.

Any egg-o-philes out there have a different take on this question? Speak up!

I Missed The First Of The Season Asparagus

  • April 23, 2011 9:12 am

I could kick myself, really. Or I guess I could try to get out of the house earlier, but knowing my family that isn’t going to happen anytime soon. Apparently in two weeks there will be enough growing that there will be some remaining when I get to the market. [Note: My farmer saved me a bunch this week! They were fantastic! Lucky me. All the more reason to know your farmer.]

Here’s a video of what I bought instead–all very delicious, I can’t complain.

I Missed The First Of The Season Asparagus

What time do you tend to get to the farmers’ market when you go?

Do You Compost? My Farmers’ Market Does!

  • March 9, 2011 10:19 am

compost drop off!

Look what greeted me when I arrived at my small local winter farmers’ market this past Saturday. What a fabulous and welcome surprise! I already compost at home — in a NatureMill automatic composter that does the trick in my small urban apartment. We bring the results to friends and/or tuck it into the beds of the trees that live on our New York City street. But sometimes there is overflow (we cook at least three times a day and eat a lot of fruits and veggies, plus there are egg shells, coffee grounds, and more). This sign introduces what is a trial run to see if compost drop-off is widely needed/desired beyond the main Manhattan farmers’ market (Union Square). I want the organizers to know it’s very much in demand, so I intend to march my overflow there every Saturday. If you live in NY, there are more trial drop off sites being organized by GrowNYC. Join me in dropping off your scraps.

Here are some thoughts about composting from The Conscious Kitchen:

For biodegradable items to actually biodegrade in landfills, they need access to a basic combination of air, water, light, microbes, and enzymes. Landfill methane emissions are a result of the fact that landfills don’t offer this access. Most are too tightly packed for biodegradable scraps to be exposed to such things, and so they sit, unbiodegraded , next to truly unbiodegradable items for years. In 1989, a garbage project out of the University of Arizona went into a landfill and discovered a legible newspaper from 1952, intact hot dogs, and an ear of corn (husks, too) mixed with material dated from 1971. Tragic but true. These findings are like poster children for why it’s a good idea to keep even biodegradable items out of the landfill and aid the process yourself. Composting is truly win-win. It will drastically reduce your garbage output and give you something valuable–nutrient-dense soil for your garden and house plants–in return from “trash.” Seeing your atrophied garbage once you start composting is nothing short of miraculous–there’s almost nothing in it! It’s mind-boggling how much we collectively throw out that can simply, cheaply, and effectively be turned into good dirt. Once you’ve composted, you’ll never go back.

For more on composting, including resources, see pages 209 to 214 of The Conscious Kitchen.