Back In Action

Hey everyone! It’s been forever… believe me I know… and I have a thousand excuses for why that is… but I’m not going to go through those. Instead, I’m going to try to make it up to you by giving you some awesome recipes over the next weeks, by giving you some good information on how to eat eco-friendly, and by telling you a little bit about my life outside of the blog world.

As for my life outside of the blog world… I have recently been hired as the Promotions Coordinator for Santa Barbara’s only community radio station, KCSB 91.9FM. That by itself has been a huge part of my life this year. I really live, eat, and breathe the station. I love my job, I love the people I work with, and I love the the people who program at the station. Everyone is beyond passionate about their music, public affairs, and sports programs. It’s really inspiring. My show, The Left Lane, airs every Sunday from 2-4pm (and live streams online at KCSB.org if you aren’t in the Santa Barbara area). It’s a surf and psychedelic rock show on which I tend to have themes or interviews with local bands. Everything about the radio station really is a de-stressor and when I’m having a bad day, it’s the only place I want to be.

As for the Environmental aspect of my life, I am taking two upper division ES classes this quarter, along with a Philosophy class (about ethics) and my last Physics course (thank goodness!). I’m inspired by my ES130A class which is Humans in the Environment. It’s a cross-listed course in both the Environmental and Anthropology disciplines. I’m sure you’ll be hearing a lot about it in the near future.

As for the rest of my life, I finally feel like I’ve found my niche at UCSB. It was difficult at first with a lot of trial and error moments, but the radio station, my housemates last year, and this amazing open mic night known as Bean Night have really shown me a group of people that are not concerned with looks or views or gender… they’re real and only ask that you are too. In Santa Barbara that’s really a breath of fresh air (no hard feelings to my friends outside of that who are amazing and make my life wonderful as well…you guys rock too!).

As for recipes: get ready. I have some wonderful foods coming your way as soon as I charge my camera battery :). Talk to you all soon!

Right after being in a pie-eating contest (it was disgusting). I got third place!

Spring (Eli), Summer (me), Fall (Raisa). Happy belated Halloween!

 

Environmental Studies 190

Hey guys! So I had a quick homework assignment for my Environmental Studies 190 class to write about my career path and how my major will help with it. I thought you may be interested in what I wrote (mom and dad:)). So, here it is:

My Career Path

I entered UC Santa Barbara in the Fall of 2008 having chosen to be an Environmental Studies B.A. major. I chose this major with limited reasoning. I saw it as an interesting subject matter and a way to get my bachelors degree so I could move on to receiving my teaching credentials. The day I stepped into Environmental Studies 1, everything changed. I no longer looked into my future and saw myself teaching first-graders. I saw myself in the Peace Corps teaching people the importance of the environment. I saw myself fighting for human rights such as clean air and water. I saw myself diving at the Great Barrier Reef and studying the impact of climate change on the coral and the aquatic species that inhabit it. I saw myself opening a restaurant to promote eco-friendly cooking and sustainable eating. I saw so many new career paths that I could take. The day I stepped into Environmental Studies 1, I realized that I had somehow ended up where I needed to be.

Since that day, I have changed my course to Environmental Studies B.S. with an emphasis in Aquatic Biology and I have realized that my whole life I have been on this path. I love hiking, surfing, and camping. I have been a vegetarian for five years. I have an addiction to animals of all types. And I have been studying the world and human interactions with it since I was born. For my tenth birthday, I asked my parents for a compound light microscope that I used for hours a day to look at sand, dead bugs, and plants. When I was seventeen, I went camping for the first time. Since then, I have gone around three times a year, including a two and a half week stint in Baja where I researched whale sharks.

In the future, I know only a few things for certain. I want to help people and I want to change the way people view the environment. Therefore, I will be applying for the Peace Corps next year in the field of Environmental Conservation. My major will help me achieve this dream by instilling me with the knowledge I will need to teach others about the environment. Once I have finished my time in the Peace Corps, I will decide whether I want to continue traveling and teaching others about environmental degradation or whether I will change my path to a more stable living situation. If I choose a more stable living situation, I intend to use my education to open a sustainable restaurant that will focus on using local, seasonal, organic ingredients and organic and sustainable meat and fish products. I believe that being a B.S. major will help with this because cooking is a lot like chemistry. You need to be okay with experimenting and failing with those experiments (which I did a lot of in General Chemistry lab).

Overall, I believe that my major has opened many doors that I did not even consider. I have always loved traveling but never really considered it as an option for my career. Now, I look into my future and see myself in South America fighting against deforestation. I see myself in Africa teaching people about the economic incentives for eco-tourism. I see myself all over the world. And when I finally decide to settle down (if that ever happens), I believe I will continue my environmental work at home helping businesses get “green”. I envision raising my family in a house that I helped to design to be completely sustainable. I picture myself camping with my family in a national park that has not been completely degraded due to overpopulation and resource use. I can only hope that my work with the environment will help that picture come true. The way things are going right now, there will not be a national park to camp with my family in. That image is why I am choosing the career path I described. Environmental Studies B.S. is the major that will help me get there.

The Craziness We Call Life

Wow. It has been a very long time since I’ve written anything! And I know I’ve been using all sorts of excuses for it lately… but this time it’s legit. I have very little to no time… AND SCHOOL IS JUST STARTING!!! Don’t think I’m complaining though. I have a feeling this is going to be an awesome year! I love my classes:

  1. Environmental Ecology: A study of principles of ecology and their implications for analyzing environmental problems. Focus on understanding the processes controlling the dynamics of populations,communities and ecosystems. Specific examples emphasize the application of these concepts to the management of natural resources.
  2. Anthropology and the Environment: Examines human dimensions of global environmental change in developing countries from an interdisciplinary social science perspective. Compares and contrasts alternative conceptual and analytical models of dynamic, interrelated human-environmental systems and presents recent approaches to understanding risk, vulnerability, resilience, and disasters.
  3. Environmental Current Topics: Six public lectures dealing with environmental topics. Weekly discussion sections on the lectures and brief written evaluations of six lectures.
  4. Philosophy: Intro to Ethics: An examination, at an introductory level, of such ethical issues as: why bemoral, moral relativism, the nature of virtues and vices; and possibly consideration of practical ethical problems such as abortion or war.
  5. Physics 6C: Presents concepts and methodologies for understanding physical phenomena, and is particularly useful preparation for upper-division study in the life sciences. Electromagnetic waves. Geometric optics, optical instruments. Interference and diffraction. Quantum theory of the atom. Nuclear physics. If time permits: Special relativity, elementary particle physics.
  6. Physics 6C Lab

So… aside from Physics (which I’m finally in my last quarter of!) it’s a bomb schedule! But supppper crazy. And then on top of that I have the worlds best job:

  • KCSB 91.9 FM, Santa Barbara Promotions Coordinator.
  • Aside from sounding really important, I basically get paid to look up upcoming shows for awesome bands and do cross-promotional opportunities with local venues and promoters… plus, I’ve expanded our ticket giveaways to include a ton of shows that are happening in LA and SLO.
  • Like I said… BEST JOB EVER. Plus, we get staff passes to most of the events so I get to go to shows for free (when I have time).
  • And our radio station is a commercial-free college station so we don’t play any of the super commercial stuff you hear all of the time. No Top 40 for us! We are a station dedicated to alternative views and promoting lesser-known genres. My show, for instance, is a CA-local surf and psychedelic rock show… but we also have people playing different world musics, classical, electronica…anything you can think of. Plus we have super cool public affairs shows that showcase lesser-heard views on important issues. Basically it’s just an awesome place to be.

Anyways, that’s why I’ve been so M.I.A. Plus I’ve been hyping Surf Club to all of the new freshmen and hitting up Environmental Affairs Board meetings.

I am finally getting a hang of balancing it all so look out for awesome new recipes and environmental tips… just not as often as they used to come at you. For a teaser:

Corn Risotto

  • 2 ears of Corn
  • 2/3 cup Rice
  • 2 cups Veggie Stock
  • 1/3 cup White Wine
  • 1 sprig Thyme
  • Any fresh herbs
  • 1/3 cup Onion, minced
  • 2 tsp. EVOO
  • 2 tbsp. Butter
  • 1/4 cup Parmiggiano Reggiano, grated
  • 1/3 Large Tomato, diced

Cut the corn off of the cob and place half into a food processor. Process until smooth. Bring the veggie stock to a simmer. Meanwhile, sweat the onion in the olive oil and add the rice until opaque. Add the white wine to deglaze the pan and cook until most cooks off. Add 1/3 of the veggie stock stirring continuously. When most has been absorbed by the rice add another third. Test the rice and if still not cooked add the final third of the veggie stock. Make sure the rice stays al dente. Add the butter, parmiggiano reggiano, tomato, herbs, salt/pepper, and both types of corn.

eco-benefits

  1. When I made this dish, corn was still local, organic, and in season! You can change it up depending on the season to keep the veggies eco-friendly.
  2. Rice normally takes forever to cook and uses a lot of energy that way. I found that this allowed the rice to cook quicker (though I could have been imagining things).
  3. If you leave out the cheese and switch the butter to vegan margarine it becomes a vegan masterpiece! And we all know that going vegan is like riding a bicycle in the eco world.
  4. The green bean side dish is super easy to make and if you find the beans local and organic it’s also super eco friendly. Just saute them with onion and garlic and top them off with some parmiggiano reggiano. Yum yum yum!

10 Things I’ve Learned This Summer… and Grilled Watermelon Salad

This summer has been crazy! From visiting my mom in Nashville and road-tripping to New Orleans, researching/swimming with whale sharks which are the largest fish species and SO cool, and having a family reunion on a lake in Washington (which is one of my favorite states) to getting my wisdom teeth out and finding out I’m one of the lucky people who gets chronic migranes, there have been ups and downs and loop de loops galore. And I really wouldn’t change this summer for anything. I had a ball. I hung out with my friends, I cooked up a storm, I spent a lot of time bonding with my family, and I had some crazy cool adventures too. Here’s what this summer has taught me (or at least 10 of the things I’ve learned–> in no particular order):

  1. It’s way easier to write a blog when I’m procrastinating schoolwork then it is when I’m putting off hanging out with friends–> even though I’ve cooked more this summer than I do during the year.
  2. Sewing is not as easy as it looks (I made a faux fur jacket that looks super vintage but my goodness was it difficult!–>and my mom helped me finish it up).
  3. I definitely chose the right major in college and after my time with the whale sharks I’m super amped for heading back up to school (on Thursday!)
  4. The more time you spend doing something (in my case cooking), the more you realize you have a LOT to learn. (Graduating high school I thought I knew everything… college taught me this lesson too).
  5. Growing herbs inside is actually pretty darn easy (I have a nice little herb garden going–>plus tomatoes and bell peppers–>and they’re doing well despite the fact I’m known to have the opposite of a green thumb).
  6. There’s no one in your life like your family followed closely by your best friends. The people that are there for you year after year despite what dumb choices you made are really valuable. I owe these people so much.
  7. We will all face a broken heart someday. And we will all think that it will not mend. Broken hearts do eventually heal. And if you truly loved someone they can end up as one of your best friends later even though you may believe you’ll never get there.
  8. We need to practice what we preach. I write all about eco-friendly eating and I really do try to incorporate what I write into my own cooking. Obviously, I have days where I want something that isn’t super green, and that’s ok as long as I do my best. There are people, however, who talk so much about certain issues and then leave them to someone else to resolve. Your cause doesn’t have to be the environment. You don’t even need to have a cause. If you do, however, lead by example. Don’t be hypocritical about it if you really do care.
  9. Sometimes the little things are really what makes the world a wonderful place to be living. Enjoy them. Sit and watch a sunset, eat a chocolate bar, paint a picture (if it’s bad just call it abstract… that’s what I do), play board games, blow bubbles when you’re chewing gum, take a bubble bath, read a book, go surfing (even if you end up not catching a wave and basically being a buoy), go for a bike ride, etc. It doesn’t have to cost you a lot to have a good time.
  10. Every day is precious. We only have so long. Don’t wait until you’re retired to start doing what you want to. By then… it may be too late. Travel now before the ice caps melt, the coral reefs bleach, and more animal species go extinct (even if it’s an icky species it has a place in the ecosystem). See the world in all of its beauty. Change some of your less “green” practices now so your children might get to see the environment like you can now. Stay out too late. Get up too early. Do something you are afraid you’ll fail at. Enjoy every moment you have.

In Washington, I tried wake surfing. I've never done any lake sport before so I was worried...I had a blast!

Grilled Watermelon Salad

  • Watermelon, cut into squares of about 2 in. by 2 in.
  • Arugula
  • Goat Cheese, crumbled
  • Balsamic Vinegar, reduced
  • Tomato, chopped
  • EVOO

Rub the watermelon on both sides with EVOO. Place on grill for about 3-5 minutes a side. Place a bit of arugula on a plate. Top with goat cheese and tomato. Place one watermelon square on top of that then make another layer. Top with another watermelon square. Place more goat cheese on top and drizzle with the reduced balsamic vinegar.

MAKE THIS WHILE WATERMELON IS STILL IN SEASON!!! It is soooo delicious. I love how the watermelon almost looks like a seared piece of ahi tuna and it gets such a delicious savory flavor when it’s cooked. SO GOOD. And using local, organic produce is so good for you and it’s so sustainable.

Mexican Spiced Flank Steak and Chipotle Caesar Salad

I have to apologize. I lied to you guys. I said I was going to cook up some meat recipes for you this summer even though they aren’t what I eat so that you could see what it means to eat “greener” meat (“green” eggs and ham anyone?)… but I’ve failed. I gave you guys one chicken recipe that wasn’t even all that wonderful and then I pretty much wiped my hands of the idea of cooking up some “green” meat. I apologize. This blog is so that I can hopefully have even one person try to cook a little bit more eco-friendly than they might be doing right now and I couldn’t even spend the time to teach all of you non-pescetarians how to grill up some meat. This recipe, however, is sure to make you forgive me. My dad said it was quite delicious and I’ll give you tons of tips on how to eat your beef and not feel all of the guilt I’ve been heaping on you. And I’ll even give you the recipe for a delicious Mexican-style caesar salad.

Mexican Spiced Flank Steak

  • Flank Steak
  • 1 small box Vegetable Stock
  • 1/4 cup Lime Juice
  • 1 Jalapeno, diced as small as possible
  • fresh Cilantro, chopped
  • Cumin, ground
  • dried Mexican Oregano
  • Chili Powder

Poke holes in the flank steak with a fork. Place the veggie stock (which gives the tomato flavor so present in many Mexican dishes) with the lime juice and all of the yummy Mexican seasonings in a plastic bag with the flank steak. Let marinate completely covered (you may need more lime juice or veggie stock if you’re feeding more than 2 people) for at least an hour (but the longer the better!). Then grill the flank steak for about 4 minutes on the first side and 3 minutes on the second side (my dad likes his closer to medium rare so if you’re a medium-> well type go for a little longer). Slice the meat in 1/2 inch strips against the grain. It should be super tender and full of the flavors of Mexico. 🙂

I don’t know if you guys have figured this out yet, but I’m a HUGE fan of Mexican food. Maybe it’s the whole living in Southern California thing (and having worked at a Mexican restaurant) but it’s definitely my cuisine of choice when I can’t decide what else to eat. This salad is inspired by a recipe I found in a Mexican cookbook I got while I was in Baja, Cocina de la Familia and I thought it was absolutely wonderful. I hope you guys like it too.

Chipotle Caesar Salad (Ensalada Cesar con Chile Chipotle)

Serves 2 as a Side or 1 as a Meal

  • 2 Hearts of Romaine, torn and rinsed
  • 1 tbsp. EVOO
  • 1 tbsp. Unsalted Butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Stale French Bread, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/2 can Anchovy fillets, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. Grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 canned Chipotle Chile en adobo sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 tbsp. EVOO
  • 1/2 tbsp. Peanut Oil

Preheat oven to 275 F. Warm the 1 tbsp. of EVOO and 1 tbsp. of unsalted butter over medium heat. Add the minced garlic. When the garlic begins to lightly brown, add the bread and toss until just starting to brown as well. Then place the bread cubes in the oven for about 20 minutes. Turn while they are cooking to toast evenly.

Meanwhile, place the anchovies, garlic, cheese, mustard, and the chipotle chile, vinegar, and salt in a food processor and process until smooth. (If needed add more chile). Pour in the 3 tbsp. EVOO and 1/2 tbsp. peanut oil while motor is running. Salt and pepper to taste.

Mix together romaine leaves, croutons, and dressing to coat then toss the salad.

I hope that the recipe makes up for my lagging on the eco-information about beef. If not, here’s some real tips to keep your foodprint as small as possible even when you’re craving red meat.

  1. Because meat, especially cow and pig, has such a huge foodprint I can’t stress this enough: ORGANIC ORGANIC ORGANIC. Opt for organic, grass-fed and especially local if you can find it! Organic meat means organic feed means no harmful pesticides or gross antibiotics or growth hormones. Local means less transportation. Grass-fed leads to less cow flatulence leads to less greenhouse gas emissions. It’s better for you, better for the environment, and some people say it tastes better.
  2. Choose a meat such as flank steak that can be sliced (and in this case is meant to be). Then give everyone a smaller portion of meat and a larger amount of sides. Less meat= greener, however, you still get the protein you’re craving.
  3. Since you’re getting meat, pay attention to what else you’re serving. Opt for local and organic produce, quick-fix grains (such as bulgar wheat or quinoa), less dairy, and meat and sides with less packaging (recyclable packaging is best).
  4. Eat less beef. Make the days you do eat it count and then cut back on how often you make it. This recipe is perfect for that. Super yummy so you’ll be satiated until your next beef-fix. If everyone cut back a little bit on their beef intake, there’d be a significant decrease in greenhouse gas emissions. If you were to cut back on 2 oz of meat a day, you’d save 819 lbs CO2 a year. If you were to cut back on 16 oz of meat a day you could save 6,548 lbs CO2 a year. That’s HUGE! –Go Green Get Lean
  5. In Go Green Get Lean, it shows that it takes: about 7 lbs of corn and 2, 500 gallons of water to produce 1 lb or body weight on cattle, more than 200 gallons of fuel to raise a 1,200-lb steer on a feedlot, about 5 times as much water to grow feed grains as it does to grow fruits and veggies, and roughly half of all irrigation water in the US goes to livestock… so think about the changes. I’m not saying stop eating meat. I’m just saying think about cutting back a little. Cows take a lot of land, water, and food. Even if you don’t believe in the “green” movement, think about the fact that that could be going to humans.

eco-benefits

  1. This meal used a lot of the techniques stated above to “green” up the meat. Smaller portion of meat to a larger portion of a side dish, organic grass-fed beef raised in CA (which is local for me), organic local salad ingredients, etc.

The Compost Experiment Continued

This summer, my dad and I have been throwing all of our fruit peels, coffee, etc. into a tiny kitchen-top composter. It filled up pretty quickly and we kind of forgot that it existed at all. Recently, when we opened it up, not only were bugs thriving in there but we also realized just how fertile composters can be. In just a month everything seems to have melded into a great nutritious dirt that is actually growing plants! Check it out:

So if you didn’t believe me before when I told you that you HAVE to get a compost because there’s really no reason not to (it’s environmentally friendly and really is a great way to recycle–>your old gross products can be nutrition for your new yummy ones) you should believe me now. We didn’t plant whatever is sprouting up! And it was all covered up! Composts are just that magical :).

Halibut and Scallop Ceviche

I have been cooking up a storm lately, however, it seems that I continue to have a sort of writers block. So I’m going to let this delicious recipe talk for itself. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Halibut and Scallop Ceviche

  • Wild-caught Pacific Halibut
  • A couple of scallops for added flavor
  • 1 cup Lime or other citrus Juice (I actually mixed lime and grapefruit)
  • 1 medium Tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 Red Onion, chopped
  • 1-2 Jalapenos, diced (add more if you really like it spicy)
  • 2 tbsp. Olive Oil
  • Salt, Pepper, and Mexican dried Oregano, to taste
  • 1/2 Avocado, peeled, pitted, and chopped, to top
  • Cilantro, to top

Put the fish into a nonmetallic bowl and cover with the citrus juice. Mix thoroughly, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Drain off excess juice and an hour before serving, stir in the tomatoes, onion, and jalapenos. Add enough olive oil to coat. Add the salt, pepper, and oregano, and return to the refrigerator until just before serving. Taste for seasoning and mix in the avocado. Sprinkle with cilantro.

Eco-Benefits

  1. My dad’s friends son was staying with us for the summer and actually went to Alaska and fished. The halibut that I used was one of the fish he caught. Non-commercial catching of fish is much healthier for the environment because there is no damage done to the ecosystem such as with nets and dredging.
  2. Pacific, wild-caught halibut is a sustainable fish according to Seafood Watch. Other types of halibut, are not sustainable so be careful what you’re buying.
  3. I used left-over scallops in this and ceviche really is a great way to use any excess fish you may have on hand.
  4. Buying seasonal and local vegetables helps allow for a greater flavor in this dish and it is more sustainable to not have to get ingredients transported large distances.
  5. Ceviche needs absolutely no cooking. Your gas bill and the environment will thank you.

And if you happen to be worried about fish parasites or other nasty no-cooking diseases, I recommend that you freeze your seafood for at least two days and then thaw it in the refrigerator overnight. The freezing will get rid of anything on the fish.