Monday, August 06, 2007

Earth food

Meeta at 'What's For Lunch Honey' chose 'Earth Food' as the theme for her 'Monthly Mingle'.
I really liked this idea. Participants are not only supposed to write a post about a recipe that somehow relates to the 'Earth Food' concept, but also should they write something about what they do to help the Earth. I completely agree with the concern of trying to save our planet from the irreversible and disastrous changes that can occur if we keep behaving irresponsibly.
So, thanks Meeta for organizing this event! Let's start with my idea as food entry:

Insalata di patate dolci / Italian style sweet potato salad
I thought Earth Food should be simple, with good, earthy, simple flavors that enhance each other. So, what's more earthy than potatoes? I chose sweet potatoes because I'm in the US - and sweet potatoes are so common around here! But it's an Italian-style potato salad, which combines a few simple ingredients: garlic, parsley, olive oil and wine vinegar. All products that have been used forever in Italian culture, a nice example of how people can take what the earth gives and make a really good use of it!
I'll give the recipe further on in the post... and if you read more, you'll also see my contributions to 'help the Earth'.

Since I came to the US, I noticed a big difference between people's behavior here and in Italy, and I must say, the comparison does not make America look too good. So, in a sense, it's very easy for me do something that 'makes a difference' here - the standard is low!!!!!!!
Here are a few things that I try to do in my everyday life to 'help the Earth':

1) Use the car as little as possible. Berkeley is kind of an easy place for this. Most places are reachable by foot or by public transportation. Still, the temptation to use the car to go do the grocery shopping or go to SF exists.. but in the end: Lucas and I have no problems carry the groceries back by foot, and going through the Bay Bridge traffic takes too much of my time and patience..

2) Never use the dryer. Seeing the dryers was a shock to me when I first came to the US. NO ONE has a dryer or uses it in Italy. We all hang our clothes, outside or inside the house. That's what I keep doing. Why wasting so much energy for a process that occurs spontaneously if you just wait overnight?

3) Do not waste water. So - I take short showers if I need to, or just wash myself at the sink otherwise. Again, I know this is considered really bad from Americans.. but if you think about it, you don't really need a shower per day, if you wash the 'smelly parts' separately. :) Also, I try to use as little water as possible when I wash the dishes.

4) Wash the dishes by hand - not to waste electricity

5) Try to remember to turn off lights and stereo and so on (I have to improve on this point, though. :) )

6) Buy food that's been produced locally and that's in season - to avoid useless wastes of gas during transportation, and energy to store it.

7) This is not my 'merit' but I'm pretty happy about it: we have photovoltaic panels on the roof of our house, so our energy is clean!

8) In general, try to avoid waste.. Recycle paper, bottles, cans, use cloth napkins instead of paper ones, try to fix things, if I can, never throw food away..

9) Stay informed and try to talk about the importance of these issues whenever I can. Hopefully my work as a scientist will also make a difference in 'helping the earth'.

So, this is it, I think.. If I look at my 'carbon footprint', I think my worst defect is that I use the plane to travel.. that has a huge impact on CO2 emissions and energy consumed. But I really cannot go to the East Coast or to Italy without a plane...... That's too bad.

And here is the recipe for the potato salad:
Insalata di patate dolci / Italian style sweet potato salad
Boil three sweet potatoes with their skin (suggestions: put salt in the water you use to boil, and boil them for ~20 minutes, depending on the size. They should be soft but still firm). Let them cool down, then peel them (it should be easy to remove just the skin and not the flesh of the potatoes). Cut them into medium-size chunks, add ~2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp red wine vinegar, 2 finely cut cloves of garlic and ~1/4 cup cut parsley leaves. Add salt to taste, mix, and serve cold or warm.
I enjoyed this version with sweet potatoes. It's a nice change to the traditional recipe.. but try the original version with regular potatoes too!

Now, I'm really looking forward to the roundup for this great event!


Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Your salad looks fine! I never made that kind of dish with sweet potatoes... Interesting!

Meeta said...

It's true Europe and the Europeans and more advanced then the US when it comes to such topics. I have learned many lessons living in Europe. The potato salad looks delish!

chemcookit said...

Rosa, thanks! It was my first time with sweet potatoes too. :)

Meeta, thanks for organizing the event! Looking forward to the roundup.

westie said...

Hiya Marta --

The insalate patate looks great. When will you post the recipe so I may try?
Ciao, westie

chemcookit said...

Hey Westie! The recipe is in the 'read more' part.. hope you find it!
Thanks and take care