Friday, March 29, 2013

Disappearing Honey Bees

Ingredients Magazine covered Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) in Issue 7, Winter 2012 , and it was bad enough then. Unfortunately, it turns out that the problem is getting worse. This year, there is a serious shortage of bees available to pollinate the almond blooms in California, and that is a serious threat to the entire world's almond supply. The above article from Occupy Monsanto puts it thusly:

"Bee brokers, beekeepers and almond growers around the state say there’s a shortage of healthy honeybees for this year’s pollination, especially after colony collapse disorder took a higher toll this winter. "

Which spells trouble for more than just the almond growers. Without bees, we don't have any fruit, vegetables or flowers anywhere. Now, we can speculate all day about what the true cause of CCD is--personally, I'm on board with what a friend of mine said in reference to the issue today on Facebook: that's what happens when plants make their own pesticides--but arguing isn't going to get us anywhere.

So let's just face it: the majority of crops that bees are exposed to on a large scale have been genetically modified to one end or another, most likely specifically to ward off a type of bug that just won't be stopped any other way. And even if the plant itself isn't a GMO, chemical pesticides and fertilizers used to grow it aren't good for you, and either form of manipulation is definitely not good for the honey bee. 

There are things that you can do to help the honey bee, though, and the really good news about that is the ways in which you can help them enable them to help you! This article in particular, from Mother Nature Network, outlines some really simple ways in which you can make your garden honey bee friendly. Bonus! Annoying buzzers like wasps and yellow jackets aren't attracted to bee-friendly plants. My husband is going to be happy about that :)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

As if We Needed Further Proof...

...that corporations and their money mean more to elected representatives than the health and safety of their constituents, Food Democracy Now reports that the Monsanto Protection Act has been passed by the Senate. Anthony Gucciardi from InfoWars breaks it down for us:

"Monsanto would have complete immunity from federal courts when it comes to their ability to act against any new Monsanto GMO crops that are suspected to be endangering the public or the environment (or considered to be planted illegally by the USDA). "

No, this is NOT a joke. And, sadly enough, this is not the first time that corporate interests have won out over individual interests in Congress. Basically, this act is going to make Monsanto exempt from prosecution in the very-likely case that one of their GMOs causes public and/or environmental damage. 

It's up to the President at this point to do the right thing and veto this ludicrous example of government corruption. 

UPDATE 3/28/13: Well, the President let us down, and no one is happy about it

If you're still confused about the whole GMO thing, check out Shad Enkilterra's GMO article in the Winter 2013 issue of Ingredients Magazine.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Black Bean Christmas Chili Enchiladas

I've been on a real cooking kick lately, and it has resulted in some really awesome, and pretty healthy meals for my family. Today's adventure was originally planned as another crock pot recipe, but I ended up doing it in the oven instead.

Here's the thing about me and recipes: I'm not so good at following them. I made crepes this morning, for example, and while I referenced the Betty Crocker recipe, I pretty much went by memory and improvised some things (personally, I like a bit more butter and sugar in mine). Perhaps it is just my stubborn nature, but for the most part I only read recipes for inspiration. My father is the same way. These Black Bean Christmas  Chili Enchiladas are the perfect testament to that. I found a recipe for Crock Pot enchiladas that looked intriguing, so I bought the ingredients, then ended up putting them together for the oven instead.

Confession time: They're filled with canned ingredients. You could probably go all out and prepare everything from scratch if you wanted to, but why would you? I even found canned Black Beans with Jalapenos for extra flavor. I served them with homemade Mexican Rice (have I mentioned that I love my rice cooker?) and canned, no-fat refried beans. I'm calling it a win!

Okay, so here they are before the mandatory covering of deliciously melty cheese
That dusting of New Mexico red chili powder gives them an unexpected kick!

Christmas Black Bean and Chili Enchiladas 

1 can black beans (with or without jalapenos), drained and well-rinsed
1 can corn kernels, drained
Handful of sliced black olives (however many you like, really)
1 can green diced green chili, drained
1 can white chicken breast (or, one cooked and diced boneless chicken breast)
1 large can Green Enchilada Sauce (pictured above: mild)
Red chili Powder (not to brag, but mine is authentic from Hatch, NM)
Shredded cheese (I like a Mexican blend)
12 Tortillas (pictured above: flour. Corn works too, though you may need more than 12 to fill a 9 x 13")

Mix canned beans, corn, olives, diced chili, chicken and a handful (I'd say it was between 1/2 and 3/4 cup) of shredded cheese in a large bowl. Pour a small amount of the enchilada sauce in the bottom of a foil-lined 9 x 13" baking dish (mine's Pyrex). Fill each tortilla with a generous amount of the filling and roll; fill pan, then cover in remaining enchilada sauce. Sprinkle red chili powder evenly, according to your desire for spicy goodness. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top, then cover in tin foil. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour. Remove tin foil and broil for 5 to 10 minutes to crisp up the cheese at the end of baking.
Result! So. Much. Deliciousness.

Prep time: 20 - 30 minutes
Bake time: 1 hour + 5 minutes

This pan is going to feed us dinner at least twice, and I'll be eating good lunch at work this week! I love enchiladas a lot for all of the above reasons. Plus, Mexican dishes like this only get better with time in the refrigerator. 
Seriously delicious. Aside from making the sauce from scratch, I'm pretty sure these could not be improved upon. And, with a filling made mostly of beans and veggies, the argument can be made that this recipe should permanently replace my very favorite Chicken Sour Cream Enchiladas, which are delicious for all the wrong reasons (hint: it's sour cream). 

So, are you like me? Do you make stuff up as you go? Well, why not write it down and send it to If it's good, we may just publish it in an upcoming issue of Ingredients Magazine!