Category Archives: Sustainability

Next on My Table…

Screen Shot 2017-04-27 at 8.48.06 AMLast year when I drove my daughter to Zoo Camp, she seemed distraught, her eyebrows lowered and I asked how she was feeling. Bittersweet, she said as she looked wistfully out the window of the skyscrapers flashing by.

I smiled back, nodding my understanding to her in the rearview mirror, while tasting what the word meant:
Excited.
Nervous.
Happy.
Uncertain.

My then 6-year old had selected a word that encapsulates all that I have felt recently as I have made big changes in my business.

Before my daughter was even a wee embryo, I dreamed and schemed up a plan to change the way the world experiences food by teaching others how to eat with the seasons by creating a new seasonal meal plan every week.

I found an incredible developer who was excited about my plan. I learned the basics of taking food photos. I fell more deeply into writing: free form, recipes, meal plan intros, copywriting.

My daughter was born. We moved to Arizona. We settled into an inspired community of local food lovers. We moved back to Colorado. I gave birth to my son.

Every week, despite the roller coaster of my life with little ones, without fail, I wrote a meal plan. To you. To whomever was reading.

In many ways, I probably sat back a bit too much without real intention, hoping to just be ‘discovered’, dreaming of someone simply taking over the marketing so my gamble of business would actually sustain my family rather than strain it. There were glimmers of that possibility: a write up on oprah.com, a quote on bonappetit.com.

Honestly, some weeks, I didn’t want to write the meal plan, while some weeks it was the perfect refuge from sticky fingers and a house stubbornly refusing to clean itself.  (Seriously, when will it learn how to do that!?)

Getting out from under the question: Am I stay-at-home with a business or a business woman who stays home was tricky, elusive. I am neither, I am both.

Nearly two years ago, my daughter had a seizure that in retrospect shook me awake and everything shifted, especially my own lens of life. Through endless therapy: journaling, reading, dancing, sweating, talking, listening, waiting, meditating, crying, reckoning, my perspective switch made me realize that motherhood and a struggling business, had not fully swallowed me up. Somehow, my creative self was still in there, longing for the next leaves to pop out so I may embrace even more goodness.

With this changed awareness and feeling a bit more alive to my original desires to change the way we all experience food, I realized I need to be my own agent of that change.

It is not simple enough to hand the world a meal plan every week and say:
your turn now GO:
Shop.
Cook.
You’ve got this.
I gave you the meal plan… so, you can do it yourself!

Personally, I craved living deeply with the seasons, closely connected to the earth and as locally as possible. We all come to the table with different needs, and I realized I needed to tap deeper into my own in order to have a clue how to share what I know with others. Because whatever was happening with Lilly’s Table wasn’t fully working. A new meal plan every week wasn’t enough.

Talking to my husband and then our children about my craving, they signed up without delay to our year of eating locally, as close to our Colorado food system as possible.

Taking on this challenge, continued to tug on my heart that Lilly’s Table and my relationship to it, needed to change as well. A few months ago, I made a decision and it has been unraveling ever since.

When I spoke to my savvy web Developer Grant Blakeman, we discussed the options:

1. Shut it down, delete it from the internet. Poof. Gone. It would no longer exist.
2. Lower the payment point.
3. Open it up and make it free.

My logical side said without a doubt, door number two, lowering the payment point is the way to go. Makes sense, right? We discussed the logistics, but he encouraged me to think it over before making a final decision.

As soon as Grant and I got off our call, my heart shouted loudly to me, nearly ringing in my ears: Open. It. Up.

Taken a back by the difference between my mind and my heart, I decided to go for a run and with the mile high sunshine bright on me, I started to hear louder truths:

It is time for Lilly’s Table to be a gift to the world. Give it away. Please be a part of it and sign up for all of what I have created in the last seven years.

While I put as much as possible into it the last seven years, it’s release will make room for something more. Something better. Something I have no clue about. Yet.

Navigating the journey to open up continues to not disappoint. Weeks later an irresistible opportunity arose. A dream gig for me. I found myself following its lead, which brought with it two fabulous women who share my desires for a beautiful change in our local food world.

We daydreamed together, we worked actively and quickly to follow the roller coaster of a path that would feed our desires through a corporate structure that made us all feel legitimate. Validated. Then in one phone call the plan seemed to implode. Poof.

Momentarily crushed, over a bottle of wine, fresh sourdough and plenty of butter we realized that our collaboration was the best part of this bumpy road we had forged together.

We bandaged up our dreams, sifted through our motivations, and composted it all as we planted seeds of something new.

With the opening of Lilly’s Table recently, by allowing it to receive a bit less of my attention, I want to introduce you to my newest garden.

To start, if you want to support my effort to leave Lilly’s Table available as a free gift to the world, I still have to fund it’s existence. I am eager to explore various new ways to bring in revenue and to start I created another eCookbook: The Spring Meal Plan. Your purchase of this eBook means everything for my creative efforts and pursuits. Lilly’s Table will continue to tug on my wallet and with your support, you allow me to keep this gift of the meal planning service alive.

LSM2017

Next, I am thrilled to introduce you to my newest partner and kindred spirit, Lee Stiffler-Meyer. Her heart-lead interviews, thoughts on life and inspired eye through her photos can all be found at her online space, Let the Light In Studio. Pull up a cup of tea and get cozy with this appetizer of my dear friend and collaborator’s work.

Lee is daring to daydream with me and together we have been busy bees creating a project called The Reimagined Table. To highlight the photos we love to take, recipes we want to create, stories we hope to tell and the gardens of life that we want to build, you can find us on Instagram. We are forging a journey together and as this path lays before us, like a wild garden, we are uncertain of how exactly it will take shape.
Honestly, that is the most exciting part about it.

In this new collaboration, Lee and I decided our shared obsession with Podcasts needed to be revealed through our own voices. The Reimagined Table Podcast is now available! In weekly episodes we chat about our shared love of creativity, local food, community, culture, society, spirituality, motherhood, gardening, and more. While we will chat together often, we will also share interviews with our favorite visionaries who are changing the way we all live on this planet. We hope to see you gather around this new table of ours.

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There are many places to follow our collaboration. Please sign up now for your favorite way to experience the internet:

Receive a Weekly Email updating you about the podcast including a recipe and archived meal plan from Lilly’s Table
Instagram — This is the space to see all our pretty pics of our creative, local food and community projects. As well as photos of our guests.
The Reimagined Table Facebook Group — Want to talk about all of our favorite topics with us? This is the place to do it.
iTunes — please subscribe on iTunes and include us in your weekly rotation of podcasts!

Finally, thank you for being a part of this adventure, whether you are just starting with me or you have been following me for years. My desires to leave the world a bit brighter and more beautiful than it is today can only happen through community and all of us gathering around to lift up this possibility! I am humble with gratitude that all of this goodness is happening.

With Love,

Lilly

Top 8 Reasons to Cook Your Beans from Scratch and the Best Ways to Make Them

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Steamy fresh out of the pot, cooked black beans

I used to buy cans of black beans. A whole lot of them. Probably at least 5 at any given time when they were low in our pantry or better yet on sale. I also kept pinto, white beans, garbanzo beans and more on hand. Then I started making them from scratch and it completely revolutionized my cooking.

Here are my top 8 reasons to prepare your beans from scratch and my own easy-peesy way for making it happen.

1. They taste amazing. The flavor doesn’t get muted by the extended vacation within the can. Dare I say they even taste “fresh”.

2. Dried beans = more money in the bank. One pound of beans is equal to about 4 cans of beans. I often buy organic dry beans at as much as $3/lb. Although, I try to find them for less. A can of organic beans runs anywhere from $2-4. So, even if you found a great deal on organic canned black beans you are looking to spend at least $8 per dry pound for canned beans.

3. Salt and flavor control. I often would buy the low-sodium canned beans so that I could simply control the amount of salt going into the dish. When you make them from scratch you are always in control. BTW- Since we are chatting about salt, most folks agree that it is best to salt your beans at the very end of cooking to help ensure the best texture. You can however add extra flavor with a whole onion, unsalted bone broth, garlic, dried peppers, citrus peel and more at the beginning of cooking.

4. Easy to freeze. Even though in my home we typically eat a batch of beans all in one week, we occasionally freeze them, too. Usually I do it in 1 1/2 to 2 cup portions as that is similar to a can of beans.

5. Beans, beans the magical fruit the more you eat the more you toot!
I have a dear family member who claims that ‘beans do not like her’. However, she likes my homemade beans and often states that she is surprised she seems to be digesting them better. There are several methods for making beans less likely to cause you gas. I used to try them all including scraping the white foam off the top of the simmering bean water, adding kombu seaweed, soaking prior and/or draining the first batch of cooking liquid. Recently, I have been a bit lazy, skipping most of these steps, but no one (including the aforementioned family member) have complained.

6. Better for the environment! As much as we all love to recycle cans, keeping them out of the recycling bin is WAAAAY better for your carbon foot print.

7. No cans = No BPA. Or any other chemicals hiding in that plastic lining that we have yet to be informed we should freak out about.

8. They are seriously easy! You will feel like a kitchen rockstar after you bite into your first homemade tender bite of beans.

Okay. Finally. I am so glad you are on board with making your beans from scratch. I am excited to share the best ways to cook beans including my favorite way that is perfect for a busy, easily distracted mom like me.

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Dried Black Beans ready for action

 

Before we cook them, we need to decide whether or not to soak them. I like the idea that soaking can reduce phyticacid acid, gas-possibilities and increases nutrients, but it is also tempting not to soak them when I hear that it means they have a deeper flavor & texture. These days, I go with how my day is shaping. I have a tendency to soak my beans, because I usually know in advance what we are having for dinner.

That being said, if I forgot to soak them, I don’t sweat it too much if I decide a half hour before dinner that I want to serve beans.

That’s right! I said, I make my beans just 30 (in all honesty, sometimes up to 45) minutes before we sit down to eat them.

Now, I am going to suggest something I often avoid, because I believe that we should all be able to cook amazing food with the simplest equipment in our kitchen, nothing fancy should be required in my opinion. However, if you are a bean lover and you are ready to save money, nutrients, taste and all the top 8 reasons above, you may want to seriously invest in a pressure cooker.

Our pressure cooker was a wedding gift. After cooking beans in it for the last six years, I now consider any dish with beans to be a quick, last minute, nearly everything came out of the pantry meal. Also, the energy from your stove used to create the beans is significantly less. Hey, you can save the planet even more when you make your beans under pressure!

Ok. You don’t have a pressure cooker. Maybe you have a slow cooker. If not, I am guessing you have a big ol’ pot with a matching lid. Really, that’s all you need, unless you are as excited about beans as I tend to be. Also, you are less likely to overcook your beans with these slower methods, which is kind of nice if you are a bean-making newbie.

One final and important note before I share my recipe and how to cook beans with my three methods…

Cooking beans is an art. I am sure there could be a very exact science to cooking beans. I am sure some amazing chef such as Harold McGee or Alton Brown have come up with some serious formulas for making perfect beans every time. This has just never been my experience. I find beans to be an inconsistent product to work with. Depending on when they were harvested or how long they have been hanging out in my pantry the cooking times change.

But, please let that encourage not discourage you from making these. Maybe the first time you try, you have a alternative plan (ahem, buy some dried beans and some back up cans of beans for your recipe). Maybe try making them the day prior to when you would use them in a recipe. Why? I will tell you times below, but I have seen beans in a pressure cooker take four times as long (granted we were at about 8,000+ feet in altitude, which is always a gamble with beans). Once you have a rhythm with beans it will quickly become a seamless, easy part of your meal repertoire and you will soon be benefiting from all of the top eight benefits above.

Beans soaking with my selfie reflection

Beans soaking with my selfie reflection

 

Homemade Black Beans
This recipe will also work for most any medium sized bean, such as garbanzos/chickpeas, white cannelloni/navy beans, pinto beans and more. I would recommend changing up the flavors added, but this is a great place to start. 

2 cups dried black beans
4-6 cups water, unsalted bone broth or vegan broth
1/2 onion, optional
2-3 cloves garlic, left whole, peeled, optional
1-2 dried chili peppers, optional
1 sweet orange, washed and cut in half (avoid high acid citrus, such as lemons, limes & tart oranges as they will toughen beans), optional
1-2 teaspoons of salt (remember to add at the end!)

Sort through the beans quickly. Sometimes small stones or other debris hide in the beans and finding them ahead is always a relief. Give the beans a quick rinse to remove any other dust or dirt.

If you want to soak ahead, place the beans in a big bowl and cover with about 3-4 times the amount of water. The beans will expand and I have certainly made the mistake of soaking them in a too-small bowl. Don’t do that as the beans that float to the top will not absorb as much water as those below resulting in inconsistent cooking. Just keep the beans covered with a nice water blanket. Let the beans rest at least 6 hours up to about 36 hours. If you do in extended soaking (usually this only happens if I change our dinner plans at the last minute) change the water once or twice.

The quick soak method, is to place them in a pot, cover with 3-4 times the amount of water. Bring up to a boil, reduce to a simmer for 2 minutes (set a timer or stare at it while enjoying a nice steamy facial) and then turn off the heat and walk away for about 1-4 hours.

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Beans ready to cook with the aromatics: onions, garlic + dried pepper.

 

Once you are ready to cook them, you can strain the soaking liquid. Add the 4-6 cups of fresh water and be sure the beans are full submerged, toss in all of the aromatics of your choice, but NOT the salt. Now cook them:

The standard way to Pressure Cook Beans: Cover and bring the beans, water & aromatics up to full pressure. Reduce the pressure to low and let them go about 8-10 minutes. Reduce the pressure quickly by running cold water over the pressure cooker in the sink until the pressure is fully released. Open. Taste. If they are not done, return to pressure and repeat until they are tender. After that, I will check them every 5-10 minutes. If you have a nifty pressure cooker with a ‘bean’ setting do that or refer to your pressure cooker’s directions. I would always recommend starting with the least amount of cooking first, especially if you soaked your beans.

My absolute favorite way to Pressure Cook Beans: I have a second, more lazy way that I make pressure cooked beans that works well for me as a mom since my children often distract me halfway through my attempts to cook anything. Cover the beans with water, aromatics, but not the salt. Bring it up to pressure for about 2 minutes. Turn off the heat. Walk away (play with your children, defuse a drama, do some dishes). The pressure is coming down ‘naturally’ and during that process the beans continue to happily and gently cook. When the pressure is down and you can remove the lid, check them. If you need to cook them a bit longer, you can try the above method with the quick release or if you have more time, let them gently simmer with the lid off while you wait for dinner to start.

Stove Top: Bring the beans, water & aromatics up to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover with a lid. Stir occasionally and check on them every 10-30 minutes. Once they start to appear soft, test them by pressing between your fingers or biting into one. Keep cooking until they taste perfect. This usually takes about 1-4 hours or if you are at a high altitude it can be longer and you will want to increase the heat slightly.

Slow cooker: Toss the beans, water, and aromatics together. Cover with a lid and turn on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 4-6 hours. You will want to check them periodically if possible. Stirring isn’t necessary, but you can do it when you check on the beans.

To serve your beans: First, stir the salt into the cooked beans with the soaking liquid. Taste and add more salt until the beans are your preferred flavor. If desired, you can remove the aromatics and add a few of your favorite spices such as ground chili, smoked paprika, ground coriander, Mexican oregano, and ground cumin. A squirt of lime will take them a long way as well. Once seasoned, strain any excess liquid or scoop the beans out with a slotted spoon.

How do you make your beans? Ready to dump the cans and make them from scratch?

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Warm Dandelion & Sweet Potato Salad

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It seems my 9-month old puts everything in his mouth lately. As we wrapped up his appointment recently, the physician assistant handed me a Poison Control magnet for our fridge. She must know him! In response, I told her how my daughter had nibbled on an oleander leaf at a similar age, when we were living in Tucson. After a hysterical run to the ER, we ended up calling Poison Control, which we clearly should have done first. Despite oleander’s deadly reputation the one’s grown in Tucson are apparently more benign.

The physician assistant in turn told me the only time she had to call poison control, for her now grown children, was because of Bill Nye. After watching the Science Guy explain that dandelion greens are in fact edible, her son munched on a few that had been recently sprayed with weed killer by his father. Hmm… delicious. I didn’t ask, but was curious as to whether the consequence was to not use weed killer’s in the future? My hunch is that the child was told to never do it again as Bill Nye was clearly being blamed for the Poison Control call.

At our home, we are not necessarily enthusiastic lawn owners. I certainly love to picnic and watch my children play on the patch of grass that is still recovering from years of neglect from the previous owners. However, watering, weeding and tending that big outdoor carpet is not as joyful as gardening flowers and fresh vegetables for me. Especially, since we live in an area that has drought restrictions, but also bans rain water harvesting. I won’t dive into my frustrations with this paradox today.

Also, in our yard, dandelions have been mostly choked out by the gnarlier, deep rooted thistle weed, which we pulled and yanked out of the ground throughout the whole  summer. A tedious job, that we made more joyful in short bursts of time on cozy blankets with hot cups of coffee on dewy mornings before the sun made the task unbearable. We had piles and piles of thistle, morning glories and other culprits. I would have been so happy to have turned them into dinner! But, my pregnant and subsequently postpartum body was too exhausted to go beyond dumping them in the trash.

Now, I hope that I am not the first to point out the edible nature of dandelions to you. But, if I am… welcome to a beautiful blossoming world of scavenging. I hope I do not need to tell you to make sure no one has sprayed them with weed killer, but please do take care! If you are like me and have less dandelions than other pesky plants, you can also purchase long beautiful leaves of dandelions from green markets, health food stores and farmer’s markets, too.

So preparing the infamous weed is another task that requires a bit of attention. It is a strong, bitter, nutrient packed leaf of goodness. All those bitter leaves are so often, so good for you it seems! Especially for salads, if I am starting with bitterness, the best course of action is to add a serious dose of sweetness.

For me, an earthy orange-glazed sweet potato cooked until warm and tossed with bitter dandelion greens turns a salad into comfort food. A bit of your favorite strong cheese such as a crumble of feta or strips of manchego would be a perfect addition for any cheese lovers. Remember, before you run off and dip your leaves in sugar, the goal is to balance your dish. Start with the recipe below and then share your discoveries of the dandelion possibilities below in the comments!

Warm Dandelion & Sweet Potato Salad

1½ pound sweet potato
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 inch piece ginger, peel and finely mince
½ cup orange juice, divided
¼ cup water
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon maple syrup, optional
1 bunch dandelion greens, washed well
salt and pepper, to taste

Scrub the sweet potatoes and peel if desired.

Cut down the middle and lay flat. Slice on a diagonal in 1/4 inch thick pieces. This will create an angled half moon shape as seen in the photo.

Warm a splash of the olive oil over medium heat in a medium sized skillet. Spread the sweet potatoes out evenly spacing to avoid overlap. Sear on one side for about 4-6 minutes until golden, flip and sear on the other side.

Add the minced garlic and ginger. Pour in half of the orange juice and all of the water & salt. Bring up to a simmer. Once the juice is reduced down the sweet potatoes should be cooked through. If you would like them to be a bit more tender, simply add more water and continue to simmer until they are your desired tenderness.

Remove the sweet potatoes and add the remaining orange juice, dijon mustard, maple syrup if using, and the remaining olive oil to the hot pan. Whisk to combine and bring up to a slight simmer. As soon as it is hot, it is ready.

Tear the clean dandelion leaves in pieces into a large bowl. Add the sliced sweet potatoes and drizzle on the warm dressing. Toss to combine.

Finish with a dash of salt and black pepper, to taste. Crumble on your favorite strong cheese for an extra element of flavor and protein boost.

 

Homemade Corned Beef

Corned Beef in Brine2With just a hint of Irish in my blood, I am happy to jump on the bandwagon to enjoy the Irish-American tradition of Corned Beef & Cabbage. While the shelves are packed with all sorts of brined brisket wrapped in plastic and waiting for attention these days, why would one even bother brining their own?

First, always first, it honestly tastes better.

Compared to the pre-made varieties, home cured Corned Beef is deeply spiced and flavorful. Pickling beef is a practice that was employed regularly until refrigeration was possible. Actually the word corn refers to the ‘corns’ of salt. A term that literally means grain. While the process helped to expand the self-life of beef, it also served to make it quite delicious, too. 

Second, it is a simple ‘from scratch’ item to make. 

Home cooking is something that is often categorized as a leisure activity in our quick/fast food world. So, if you are wanting to try to make something more ‘from scratch’ it doesn’t get much easier than tossing this meat in salt and turning it every so often.

Now, why celery juice? 

Here is the deal, call me a lazy cook, busy mom or someone who has just lived in several places where not every random ingredient under the sun is easy to come by and rarely do I want to wait for an ingredient to be shipped. When brining meat or making bacon, curing pink salt is often a required ingredient. It is basically sodium nitrates. In my own personal research, I have yet to find any real health reasons to go out of my way to consume nitrate-free meats, since we consume most of our nitrates in our vegetables anyways. But, I love the idea of just blending up my own nitrate concoction with a few stalks from my farmer or grocery. So, save the time looking for pink curing salt and grab your blender instead!

In the end, the only real tricky part about Corned Beef is starting it. It takes 6-10 days to properly brine, so if you plan to make your own in time for St. Patty’s, get started today or as soon as possible.

Corned Beef in Brine

Corned Beef

3-4 pounds brisket (or a similar cut near the shoulder)
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup pickling spice
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
2 cups water, or more as needed

Pat the beef dry and pull out a ceramic crock or dish with a lid for brining it. Alternatively, use a large ziploc bag and place in a baking dish or similar for the curing process.

Combine the kosher salt, pickling spice (breaking up any large pieces) and brown sugar. Rub into the beef until it is thickly coated with the salt mixture. Place in the container where you plan to brine it.

Place the celery stalks in a blender. Cover with the water and blend until liquid smooth, some chunks or threads are not a big deal.

Pour over the beef. Add more water until your beef is submerged in liquid. Cover with a lid or seal the bag.

Place in the fridge. If it is in a plastic bag, simply flipped it over about 2-3 times per day. If you are lucky enough to have a better container for curing it, place a weight on the meat, such as a ceramic plate and cover. You will still want to check it periodically to make sure it remains covered with liquid.

After 6-10 days, strain the brining liquid off. Rinse well to remove any excess salt. At this point, it is ready to cook as you might the packaged varieties from the store. We toss ours in a crockpot for about 7 hours until it was falling apart and satisfyingly salty.

Whole Trout with Lemon

The book Bottomfeeder by Taras Grescoe is worth devouring and licking the bones & fins clean. Probably my greatest disappointment was I checked it out from the library and eventually was forced to return it.

The truth is we are incredibly disconnected from the sea. Technological advances have given us the opportunity to scrape the bottoms clean with no regard for the creatures who might need those environments to actually grow & reproduce… so we can of course continue to eat them.

I appreciate that Grescoe is a devout seafood lover, giving this book a feel of the Omnivores Dilemma under the sea. He explores the world Bourdain style enjoying some of the rarest and most expensive fish, but questioning every bite along the way.

I feel converted. Like many of us, I care that catching my tuna does not kill dolphins or contain mercury. I easily avoid gourmet specialities, such as monkfish, bluefin, and shark, fins & all. I carry and distribute SeafoodWatch cards. I always attempt to purchase fish certified by the Marine Stewardship Council. But, now instead of playing it safe with fish I feel more adventurous. The author gives license to not feel dismayed by the increasing list of seafood to avoid, but rather explore a world of possibilities we culturally refuse, such as sardines and jellyfish.

When eating out, I find myself willing to inquire about their seafood if only to inform favorite restaurants of what they probably do not know: their beloved fish may not always be around if they continue to serve it. Consuming fish used to seem a safer option in a world of CAFO, antibiotic bursting beef & chicken. Today, if I see jellyfish salad on any menu- I promise to try it. Especially since, if we are not careful, this may be one of the only seafood options left.

With my new incites, I found myself buying a fish whole to cook up and even indulged in the crispy skin. After purchasing a can of sardines I anticipated a smelly, slimy, eyeballs and all affair, only to be shockingly surprised and now newly obsessed with one of the most omega-3 rich foods we could consume.

It is a rare book I consider buying after checking it out from the library, just to be able to lend it to friend’s to borrow, then to read again in two years to brush myself up on the details. But, it is certainly on my wish lists.

In the meantime, I wrote a list of the top seafoods I will avoid and the new ones I will be seeking out regularly and thought you might like to enjoy my list, too:

Ginger-Coconut Calamari

Shrimp

I will no longer purchase shrimp in restaurants unless I know the source is from the US or Canada. While there are some farms in Thailand sustainably farming, more of them throughout the world farm shrimp in toxic manners. Unless stated, I will now cook and eat my shrimp at home purchased from North America.

Salmon

Being from the Pacific Northwest, I avoided farmed salmon for as long as I can remember, mostly because it tastes terrible and is a sad interpretation of an otherwise delightful fish. Culinarily organic farmed salmon has been less than impressive. I will continue to enjoy and love up Wild Salmon, especially from Alaska or during the Chinook runs. In recent days, news of the probable FDA approval of the first ever Genetically Engineered protein is coming out. This certainly could pose threats to the wild salmon populations.

Calamari

Apparently, right now these happy little rubber bands are in safe supply and caught sustainably, so I will continue to love them as an appetizer and cook calamari at home more often. If you are a subscriber to Lilly’s Table here is my Coconut-Ginger Calamari.

Tilapia, Catfish & Pollack

These vegetarian fish are farmed sustainably and tilapia is my go-to for a simple white fish. Catfish makes less frequent visits to my plate, but I intend to change this. Pollack is a cheap and often overlooked fish. I am also excited since I just found out my favorite fish taco joint serves pollack!

Sardines

It is true, I am now ready to sign up for the Sardinista club. Especially, after enjoying it with avocados and garbanzo beans. This will make regular appearances in lunches, salads, and road trip snacks as it is simple and tastes charmingly of the sea.

Rainbow Trout

Steelhead or Golden Trout farmed in the US is my new go-to-fish when I want a whole fish since it is easy to find. The farms are typically far away from wild sources making it unlikely to be introduced into existing populations. Occasionally, I will consider wild sources if someone catches it for me in a safe, sustainable location.

Oysters

I will be mindful of their source, but seek these shooters out more frequently.

There is quite a long list of fish to avoid, but I am going to just list the ones that are readily available at the restaurants and groceries I frequent. 

Cod

No more fish and chips, unless made with halibut, turbot, pollack or some other not about to go extinct fish. Seriously. Pirates are all about this fish. Arghhh… Cod is not even considered an elegant fish by most chef standards. It is however considered the go-to white fish by pubs and chain restaurants. It is also increasing in popularity as Cod Liver Oil is rapidly becoming the next power supplement— be wary and get your Omega-3 vitamin’s from small fish sources such as sardines.

Orange Roughy

It is going through a rough-y time and despite its ever presence in freezer aisles it is borderline and not worth consuming.

Red Snapper

So many restaurants serve this, especially Mexican it seems, and many recipes call for it. Use Tilapia or Catfish instead. Or if you are able to find it apparently Yellow Snapper is doing just fine these days.

Tuna

I recently found sustainable canned tuna and will only buy this expensive stuff when the craving hits. Otherwise, no more chicken of the sea for me. Sardines are my new quick seafood lunch.

Chilian Sea Bass

I prepared this once for a client by request, but otherwise have not really enjoyed it myself. It is available enough to put on the list to avoid. I have seen it sustainably caught from Chile, but if I am so desperate to eat Sea Bass I will fly down there myself to eat it from a sustainable source. If I am wasting the carbon foot print, I’d like to at least do some hiking & site-seeing (especially in Patagonia) and wash it down with a Pisco Sour.

Which fish are you avoiding? Enjoying? Curious about? Before your next bite, double check the seafoodwatch.org, better yet grab Bottomfeeder and learn everything you wanted to know about eating from the sea.