Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Open Letter to Legislators Regarding Policies on Industrial Hemp Farming on U.S. Soil

I am writing to ask that you please become an original cosponsor of the Senate version of the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2011, which will be introduced by Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon.

We live in a frightening age where chemistry and machinery have turned our food sources into something that belongs in a lab instead lining of our grocer’s shelves. We have legal recommended limits and labeling laws on trans fats—which cause permanent and irreversible damage to our arteries but are still widely available—and yet healthful foods such as hemp that promote wellness and health are not allowed to be grown on U.S. soil.

Requiring less pesticides than cotton, hemp is a far superior textile crop that we need to boost our economy, protect our land and improve the health of the nation’s people one body at a time.

Please become a cosponsor of the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2011 and vote to overturn outdated federal policies which confuse non-drug industrial hemp with drug varieties of Cannabis. It’s time our agriculture and food policies caught up with the fast-paced movement of the food manufacturing industries.

Lynn Matava

Thank you for reading. Write to your congressional leaders by clicking to following link, Vote Hemp


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Red Quinoa Wrapped Up ~ 2 Ways

A few nights ago, we were invited to watch an evening boat parade with friends and afterward I was served this delightfully fresh wrap. Post Thanksgiving, I was extra-appreciative of being offered a meal that hugged me from the inside out.


Take one all natural tortilla (that means you know what all the ingredients are on the label!) and top with cooked, red quinoa, avocado, grape tomatoes, grilled shrimp*, chopped red onion, shredded cheese and a ton of fresh, mixed baby greens. Roll it up and eat.

*Shrimp - I am not sure what my host marinated his shrimp in but I chose to mix extra virgin olive oil, lime zest, lime juice, ancho chili powder, red chili pepper paste and a splash of soy sauce. I allowed it to marinate, refrigerated, for an hour before cooking over a hot grill for 3-4 minutes or until just cooked through.

This makes one, gigantic wrap. I licked my plate clean. Burp.

nutrition facts

Nutritional data created using ingredient compilation program and is deemed close but not exact.

Wrapping quinoa up was new to me.  Well, I tried it with the brown quinoa and beans once in my husband's lunch and he reported back that it was "interesting but not enough to eat again."  Red quinoa has a more sturdy texture and a nuttier flavor than it's brown counterpart and the YUM factor it adds to a wrap is pretty darn agreeable.  So agreeable, in fact, that I was inspired to make a spring roll out of it!


Soak spring roll wrapper (the clear kind made with rice/tapioca flour) in water for 45 seconds and fill with shrimp, cilantro, red quinoa, sliced green onion avocado and mung bean sprouts.  Roll like as you would a Vietnamese Spring Roll. If you are really adventurous, find a recipe for Vietnamese peanut sauce to serve with it. I chose to crack open a jar of Trader Joe's peanut satay sauce. I know it's not Vietnamese but, then again, red quinoa isn't either!

Per roll, including 1 teaspoon of satay sauce:

nutrition facts
Nutritional data created using ingredient compilation program and is deemed close but not exact

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Simply Broccoli. Soup.

I  love to make fruit and veggie smoothies and I love soup; I am not sure why the idea hadn't crossed my mind sooner. This is so simple yet it's delicious. At 43 calories for a generous-sized bowl, there's room for a grilled cheese sandwich in here somewhere. I'm thinking with some spelt bread and a really creamy brie. Yum!

You will be amazed at just how much flavor this soup has and just how simple it is to throw together!


2 broccoli crowns, broken in to pieces (approx 9 ounces)
pinch kosher salt
water, enough to just cover

1 - Cook broccoli on stovetop or in microwave until tender but still bright green.  This took 4 minutes in my microwave. Do not over cook!

2 - Pour into blender with enough of the cooking liquid to cover (you do no want floating broccoli) and a pinch of salt.

3 - FOR YOUR SAFETY: Be sure to take the middle part out of the lid to your blender.  This will keep pressure from building up and from burning yourself or others (or just making a mess). Place lid on top of blender and cover with kitchen towel.  Hold towel on while you purée into soup.

4 - On high speed, blend into soup until smooth.  Serve immediately.  Makes 2 servings.

nutrition facts

Sunday, October 30, 2011

An Apple a Day...

Tomorrow is my kindergartener's harvest party and check out these cute little apple cupcakes that she's bringing in!

I got the idea from A blog called I Heart Cuppycakes and I used her cake recipe but omitted the caramel. The caramel would have been great, I am certain, but I didn't think there's any need to add additional sugar on Halloween! Plus, not many 5 year olds appreciate the effort that goes into making caramel.

My Asian market was closed today so I opted to use m & m candies instead of black sesame seeds. The smaller m & ms would have been even better had I been able to find them.

I made a simple syrup out of brown sugar and used that for some of the icing sweetener to give it that caramel flavor.

Next time I make these for kids, I think I might have to poke a gummy worm into each one :)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Banana Muffins

OK, I have to be honest here, I finally tried one of those vitamin-loaded muffins.  So, now I have to brag, also, because the stats that you see at the bottom are without any sort of additives whatsoever.  My point here?  Personally, I'd rather swallow a vitamin in pill form and not compromise that rich muffin flavor with the aftertaste of vitamins.  But that's just me. 


3-4 ripe bananas
¼ cup crunchy peanut butter, natural (no added ingredients)
2 eggs
1/3 cup unsweetened, plain yogurt
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup sugar in the raw (turbinado sugar)*
2 cups white whole wheat flour (King Arthurs)
¾ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
¼ cup ground flaxseed
6 ounces (1/2 bag) 60% cacao chocolate chips

1 – Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper muffin linings.

2 – Using whisk, mix together flour, salt, baking soda, cocoa powder & flax seed in a large bowl until well combined. Set aside.

2 – In large bowl, use potato masher to mash up bananas until well blended. Add in peanut butter, and continue mashing and, still using masher, begin to blend in eggs, one at a time until each is incorporated.

3 – Using a whisk, combine mixture with yogurt, milk and vanilla extract.

4 – Blend dry ingredients into wet ingredients.

5 - Stir in chocolate chips.

6 – Scoop by ¼ measurements into prepared muffin tins.

NOTE: I use coarse turbinado sugar and for this recipe, I reserved 2 tablespoons of the sugar, sprinkling on top of muffin batter just prior to placing muffins into the oven.

Makes 12-14 hearty muffins.

For 14 large muffins:

nutrition facts

For 12 ridiculously large muffins:

nutrition facts

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Savory Oats with a Poached Egg

I, for one, am rather disapointed that it never occured to me to make oats savory, rather than sweet, before now.  This is not only good food fast, it's nutritional label reflects that it's good for you too.

The oat part was made in the microwave for the purposes of showing that lunch can be made in the same amount of time one might wait in line at the drive thru but in all reality, it would have only taken a minute longer to cook these stove top.

I do not use "quick oats" as a rule because the pre-cooking that makes them "quick" also rapes them of their micronutrients. 


1/2 cup oats, not quick cooking variety
1 pinch of kosher salt
1 cup water
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
2-3 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, shredded
1 poached egg (I cheated here and "poached" mine in an omelet pan with ice chips)

1 - Combine oats (I used a multi-grain variety that also had rye, barley & wheat), salt, water, thyme and about 2/3 of the chives in a microwave-safe bowl.  Reserve remaining chives for garnish.

2 - Heat in microwave, on high heat for 2 minutes. 

3 - While oats cook, poach egg.

4 - After 2 minutes, stir in parmesan cheese and cook for 30-45 seconds longer to thicken.

5 - Top with poached egg and reserved chives.

This is damn fine fast food folks!  Filling lunch that's on the lower calorie side.  How will I keep my cholesterol intake low?   We are eating some sort of Rice & Beans for dinner here tonight!

Don't sweat eating the occasional entire egg. Unlike egg replacement products, eggs do not contain chemicals or food fillers and dyes. Plus, there are very few natural food sources of vitamin D and the yolk happens to be one of them. When we think of FOOD as FUEL, we open up worlds of flavor and improve our quality of life. It's win-win.

nutrition facts

Monday, October 10, 2011

Today I Earned My Stripes

Now I know that I call myself The Country Tart and I am always yapping about all of the wild stuff that we ingest but anybody that really knows me will quickly agree that I am a little more (shock value) conversation than action on certain topics such as eating squirrel.

My virile and wild game harvesting husband brings home a lot of wild protein.  I am pleased that my freezer is full with an assortment of game yet I am eager to gripe that one such protein that he brings home is the famed North American tree rat.  It's just not natural for a man from New Jersey to bring home squirrel for dinner, right?

I've long joked that I would, on some random day when I was feeling extra brave, throw a bunch of squirrel into the crock pot and then quietly serve it to my none-the-wiser family.    Of course, I am far too much of a blabbermouth to contain a secret of such magnitude so it goes without saying that I told anyone who'd listen (and even people who were not interested) that I indeed had some squirrel a-cookin' on this fine day: the Tenth of October, Twenty-Eleven.

Having long ago decided that allowing any fetched-varmint to find it's way to a plate by way of a slow cooker was the best possible way (i.e.- least involvement on my part), I pulled out the camo crock pot (thank you Bass Pro Shops) and got to work.  Getting it out of the freezer and into the crock pot with some herbs de provence was the easy part.  Getting the tiny pieces of tender meat off of the plethora of itty, bitty bones, however, took some iron-stomach skill.

A shot of liquid courage (doesn't everyone have a nip of Tempranillo while they debone squirrel?) and I went to town.

I got to thinking about all of the disgusting things I do regularly (for food, even) without thought.  I've long outgrown the notion that cleaning blue crabs is a dirty job but let's face it, it's pretty gross.  And I've cleaned all kinds of small-boned birds such as pheasant, quail and even snipe (really).  What makes ANY of these beings superior to tree rats?  Heck, I think half of the intrigue of the winter hunt that goes on around here is the fact that afterwards everyone sits around talking about how much they love the flavor of cock.  Woodcock, that is.

After many years of joking, many years of threatening, and many, MANY a wasted life (sorry to squirrels and vegetarians everywhere), today really was the day.  Today, I filled up the crock pot with as many squirrels as the 5.5 quart basin would hold and I cooked those tree rats.

At the end of a long day, I suppose anything cooked into a gravy made of  bone stock and then topped with a sage & spelt shortbread might taste pretty damn good. 

I am here to attest that I not only lived but would eat squirrel again.

After all, I am the Country Tart!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Dried Pumpkin Chips

Pumpkin Crisps

In my college days a drawing professor advised our class to take credit for those things we've created by accident. It was one of those gems of advice that I recall whenever my kitchen accidentally turns out something completely different than what I was going for.

These crispy chips are one of those accidental miracles. The pumpkin flesh dries sweet and crispy without the addition of sugar and these make for some Vitamin A and fiber-rich snacking. Add a sprinkle of cinnamon or some pumpkin pie spice for a fragrant variation.

1. Scoop out flesh and seeds of one 4-6 lb pie or sugar pumpkin; reserve seeds for roasting and eating.

2. Peel and slice flesh into 1/4" slices.  If desired, sprinkle with cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice.  You could also try a combo of chili powder and cayenne pepper. 

3. Turn on dehydrator and dry pumpkin thoroghly for 10-12 hours or until crispy, rotating trays every couple of hours. 

Makes 4, 1 cup servings.  Per serving:

nutrition facts

Pumpkin Liqueur

Also known as Pumpkin Extract whenever the mood strikes for deep pumpkin flavor...

OK, this is simple and fantastic.  You just have to be willing to wait a month for the results.  Some things are worth the wait.

1 – Slice the top off of a of a pumpkin and scoop out the seeds and loose flesh. Save those seeds for roasting and eating, they are good for you! Dump liter of vodka into pumpkin.

2 – Add ½ cup turbinado sugar(brown sugar would work), 2-3 sticks of cinnamon, 3-4 whole cloves, 3 cardamom pods and ¼ teaspoon of fresh ground nutmeg.

3 – Return the lid to pumpkin and tape shut. Wrap well in plastic wrap to deter bugs from getting into the pumpkin. Place pumpkin in a large bowl in case it leaks.

4 – Store in a cool, dark place where the squirrels cannot get to it for at least a month (that's not a joke, they rip into the screen on my porch to get to this stuff). Be sure to label with contents so there is no confusion.

5 – Strain through a fine cloth and pour into jars with tight fitting lids. Mason jars work great and allow your guests to think you are swigging some high class swill when you sneak them out from the cupboards.

Use in pumpkin martinis, to flavor Pumpkin Love Bars and any other use where pumpkin-flavored liqueur seems fit.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Warm Purple Potatoes with Crema & Dill

Potates, warm from the oven, drizzled with Mexican-style, cultured cream cheese are a great, no-fuss summer side dish.  It is much like a warm potato salad except that it must be eaten right away as roasted potatoes do not make for good food once refrigerated.  Use an amount of new potatoes, any variety, that you and your guests will be able to finish in a meal.  If you cannot find real Mexican sour cream, you can thin down regular cultured sour cream with a bit of milk but it will not be nearly as flavorful.  Mexican Crema is available at Mexican grocers or Tiendas and can even be found at well-stocked super grocery stores.  It's so good I even like it on fresh fruit in place of crème fraiche! It is especially good with Scottish Oatmeal Cake.


1 lb new potatoes
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup mexican crema (see text, above)
fresh dill
salt and pepper, to taste

1 - Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Wash potatoes and cut into quaters.

2 - On a baking sheet, toss potatoes with olive oil and using hands, rub thoroughly to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

3 - Roast potatoes in oven for 20-30 minutes, stirring several times during cooking.   When potatoes are tender on the inside and browning on the outside, remove from oven.

4 - While potatoes are cooking, remove stems from desired amount of dill and lightly chop into small, whispy pieces.  Mix into crema.

5 - Move warm potatoes to serving dish and drizzle crema over them; serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.  Per serving:

nutrition facts

*Nutritional data created using an ingredient compilation program for a
2,000 calorie  diet and is deemed close but not exact.

Freshly cut, new purple potates, ready for the oven.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Tortilla Soup a la Tart

1 pound frozen corn kernals
3 large onions, chopped
3/4 cup chopped green bell peppers
3/4 cup chopped Sweet red peppers, fresh, bell peppers
3/4 cup chopped pepper sweet yellow peppers
1 tablespoon Olive Oil, extra virgin
zest of one lime
½ fluid ounce Lime Juice
3 cup Chicken stock, home made
3 cups water
1, 14.5 ounce can diced tomates
2 tablespoon Chipotle Chile Peppers, in adobo sauce, chopped (seeds removed)
½ teaspoon Kosher Salt (Diamond Crystal)
8 corn tortillas, fresh
Olive Oil for brushing tortillas
3/4 cup Cilantro leaves,chopped, fresh

1 - In bottom of stock pot, combine corn, onions, peppers and olive oil and cook, over medium heat, until corn has begun to brown and onions are beginning to caramelize.

2 - Add zest and juice of 1 lime, stock, water, tomates, and salt to pot. Continue cooking until soup begins to simmer.

3 - In the meantime, brush each tortilla with olive oil (thanks to my husband for this suggestion) and then cut into strips. Cook on sheet pan in a 350 degree oven, stirring occasionally, until strips are crispy.

4 - Add cilantro to soup along with most of the tortilla strips, reserving a couple handfuls of strips for the garnish; pour into bowls, top with remaining strips and serve immediately.

Makes 8, 1 cup servings. Per serving:

nutrition facts

Monday, January 3, 2011

A Balanced Meal from a Balanced Day

It's a time of rebirth for many of us. Heck, even if we don't have to take off 15 lbs gained over the holidays, it just is a time where we all kind of reset our clocks, evaluate our maps and rechart our courses.

Tonight on SERVING up a SMILE, I speak of three dishes that make up a very balanced, very flavorful, and I dare say: restaurant quality meal.

Find the recipes here:

Asian Inspired Salmon

Kale with Citrus

Hato Mugi (Job's Tears) cooked in Stock

This meal was so satisfying that I wish I had come up with it in time for submission to Balanced Days, Balanced Lives in which I was fortunate enough to have been a contributor to this year. I guess this is one for my own book (due out in 2011).

And check out the stats:

If health and balance is what you seek, I highly recommend Balanced Days, Balanced Lives. It is the story of how 42 real people used NutriMirror, a free online food log and nutrient management tool to achieve balance. Personally, I have lost (and more importantly, maintained) 90 lbs. NutriMirror is an amazing free tool and the book is a small price to pay for a well-illustrated, meal by meal anthology, of these people finding balance.

Many years of my life were spent struggling with weight, health issues and low self esteem; I attribute this to having my priorities backwards. It seems so simple now: by managing my nutrients and eating whole, minimally processed foods, I no longer struggle. This is what balance is all about: uniting the foods I crave with the foods my body needs (with room for some discretionary treats!).

This is what I mean when I say love the foods that love you back™.

All the best,

The Country Tart

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A New Way with Black-eyed Peas for 2011

Here it is! Start the year off right with some good luck and a good bit-o-fiber. There's mention of eating black-eyed peas for luck in the new year dating back all the way to 500 CE/BC. I won't lie and tell you that forgetting to pick up a smoked pork product for flavoring was intentional but once I realized my slip I set out to make some smoky, gut-warming beans with items in my pantry. Here you have it, a bunch of smoky, flavorful and nutrient-dense ingredients--sans meat.

Long before there was such a term as superfood, turmeric has been valued by Eastern cultures for a plethora of health supporting qualities. Known as a digestive aid and gentle anti-inflammatory, turmeric is now being studied for it's applications in chronic disease prevention and overall longevity. Cocoa is full of free-radical fighting polyphenols which equates to antioxidant yumminess. I could go on and about each ingredient (heck, heart-healthy legumes alone are reason to eat this dish!) but, well, let's just say this is truly is a food that loves you back™.

I always crock beans (did you know your slow cooker was actually invented for this purpose?) and it eliminates the need to soak beans. Due to differing temperatures of slow cookers, you will need to play with yours to adjust time for bean cooking. Most beans cook in mine to a tender state in 5-7 hours on high or 8-10 hours on the lower setting.

Happy New Year from the Country Tart!

~ Lynn


1 lb bag dried Black-eyed peas
1-2 chipotle peppers in adobo, internal seeds removed, (to taste) plus
1-2 tablespoons of adobo sauce from peppers
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
1 teaspoon cumin
6 cloves garlic, skins still intact
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped


Shallow pan
Crock Pot

1 - Place beans in slow cooker and cover in 2 quarts of water.

2- Add the adobo, sauce, paprika, cocoa, salt, turmeric, coriander and cumin to the slow cooker. 

3 - Meantime, on stovetop, heat pan on high heat until it is very hot and throw unpealed garlic into pan.  Turn garlic several times over the next 3-5 minutes until all sides are bubbled and black. Set aside to cool. This method adds great smoky and warm flavor to garlic without scorching or burning the actual flesh.

4 - Reduce heat in pan to medium-low and add olive oil and chopped onions.  Cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes more or until onion pieces are soft and brown. 

5 - Add caramelized onions to slow cooker. 

6 - When garlic has cooled so that you can it up in your bare hand, squeeze garlic clove out of bubbly and brown skins and directly into slow cooker.

7 - Cook for approximately 6 hours on high or 8-10 on low or until beans are tender.  You may need to adjust cooking time per your individual cooker's specifications.

8 - Just before serving, add 1/2 cup of chopped fresh parsley and stir throughout so that it cooks into the recipe but stays bright and vibrant. 

Makes 12, 3/4 cup servings. Per serving:

nutrition facts

* Nutritional data calculated using ingredient compliation program for 2,000 calorie diet and is deemed close but not exact.