Seasonal Cooking with Rita Calvert~The Local Cook





Earth Day turns 40 today and by the looks of celebrations around the world, the entire planet is paying homage by taking environmental actions. Honoring a Ray of Optimism in a Dark Time is Frances Beinke's  memory of the first Earth Day which helps us recall where our country stood in 1970.



Optimism is the attitude for Green Drinks Annapolis which celebrated the event with a whopping 250 attendees at The Severn Inn, Annapolis..

A good read on Earth Day is the  'green' superlative list which has been compiled by Another excellent inspiration is  the fine salute to our planet and in particular, our region, which was written by my cooking buddy, John Shields, who has been called The Ambassador of the Chesapeake Bay. John has allowed me to share his writing, A New Chesapeake Kitchen, which appeared in Baltimore Eats magazine and website.

"When we take time to prepare our meals with care and understand how food nurtures us, we cannot help but develop a heightened awareness of our natural environment. It’s all connected. Look at the Chesapeake Bay region. For us locals it is our lifeblood – we are blessed with a region rich in seafood and local producers of naturally and humanely raised animals, artisan food crafters, organically and traditionally grown produce and fruit. Just by using these wonderful local, seasonal treasures, we become constantly aware of the Chesapeake and our common link to it.

I regard the Chesapeake as our communal soup pot. When creating a delicious meal for loved ones, what kind of cook would pour dirty motor oil or pesticides into the soup pot? I hope not, but when we put blinders on and believe our day-to-day actions are not the same as mixing these types of toxins into our soup pots, we are sadly mistaken. Again, this awareness is paramount, and we can begin in our own kitchens, stores, local farmers’ markets, and in our own backyard vegetable gardens. (See Victory Gardens — baltimore eats, October, 2007.)

All around Baltimore, the Chesapeake region, and the whole country, communities and organizations are forming as people come together, join hands, hearts, and minds, and say: “No More! We will not allow the monetary interests of big business to destroy our precious natural resources, and ultimately, the fabric of our lives.”

To quote William Baker, president of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation: “Restoring the Bay [sic: and our communities] is possible only if we do not limit ourselves to pursing that which can be easily achieved. Success will come if we set our sights high and work cooperatively. Anything less will be over whelmed by the crush of population growth. History may record that a well-meaning, but ultimately timid society, lost the Chesapeake Bay in the last decade of the twentieth century. Or it can be written that the Bay was saved. The choice is ours.” Many of those choices are made in our Chesapeake kitchens. Now let’s do some cooking, living and loving, in our New Chesapeake Kitchen."



“Best of Green” by Treehugger (a Discovery Communications publication)

While I was perusing, I was reminded of a key food which seems to excel above most because it is a clean, inexpensive lowfat source of protein without allergic complications. Quinoa, the ancient grain, has some of the highest nutrient properties of any grain. So here goes a simple little recipe that all of your family should eat.

Quinoa Timbales with Tomato, Mushrooms and Olives

Serves 4

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa, room temperature
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 ounce
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil, divided use
  • 1 cup fresh or canned tomatoes, coarsely chopped, with liquid
  • 6 pitted Kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms, thinly sliced

In a bowl mix quinoa, egg, cheese and salt and pepper. Gently shape into four tightly packed patties or timbales and let them rest on a plate in the refrigerator, covered, for at least one hour to set.

To Make the Sauce: In a small skillet heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over a medium high heat. Allow the oil to get hot and then add the mushrooms and tomatoes without the liquid. Stir and cook for a minute, until the tomatoes and oil separate. Add the olives and capers and cook until the mushrooms brown-about 5 minutes. If the sauce is too dry, add a bit of the tomato liquid.

To cook the Timbales: In a large skillet heat the remaining olive oil over  medium high heat. Carefully slide the timbales into the skillet. Let them cook without disturbing them, until a crust has formed on the bottom-making sure that the timbale is holding together. Gently turn once, and cook until a crust has formed.

Place a timbale on each serving plate and spoon the sauce over it. Serve immediately.

Make Earth Day a part of planting your garden along with some new native trees.

  • Best of Food and Health
  • Best Food Writer: Eliot Coleman
  • Best Advocate for Sustainable Agriculture: Will Allen
  • Best Chef-Jamie Oliver-Have you watched Jamie’s Friday night ABC, Food Revolution?
  • Best US Restaurant: Blue Hill at Stone Barns, New York-2 years in a row
  • Best Practices by a Chain Restaurant: Chipotle Mexican Grill
  • Best Vegetarian Restaurant: Millenium, San Francisco
  • Best Food Film: Food, Inc.
  • Best Practices by a Big Food Brand: Eden Foods
  • Best Cookbook: Vegan Soul Kitchen, by Bryant Terry
  • Best Food Website: The Ethicurean
  • Best Winery: All the Secretly Organic Ones
  • Best Practices by a Fortune 500 Company: Proctor & Gamble
  • Best Winery: All the Secretly Organic One
  • Best Food Innovation: Urban Aquaponics the merging of aquaculture and hydroponics into a process that seems to take all of the positives from the above production systems and leave the negatives far behind. Fish waste from the bottom tank is transported up into the soil-less planter and becomes a rich fertilizer for the plants. The water is filtered as it works its way down to the fish tank, giving your fish pure, clean water to enjoy. The cycle is repeated every hour, and both fish and your veggies are nourished. ...Fascinating here are some videos from Backyard Aquaponics


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