Virginia Willis Blog

More Taste, Less Waste with The James Beard Foundation

James Beard Foundation on www.virginiawillis.com

James Beard Foundation

As part of the “More Taste, Less Waste” campaign, the James Beard Foundation recently initiated a recipe contest and asked chefs and culinary professionals to create recipes using oats that can inspire all of us to re-think oats as a way to add nutrition to our diets while reducing food waste. The judging criteria includes good taste, less waste, appearance, originality, and the best use of the produce and oats. YAY! I am so excited! I made it to the finals! The winner donates $5K to the charity of their choice and if I win, I have designated The Atlanta Community Food Bank.

CLICK HERE TO VOTE FOR ME ON THE JAMES BEARD FOUNDATION  #MORETASTELESSWASTE WEBSITE 

 

James Beard Foundation on www.virginiawillis.com

Hungry Harvest

I received a mystery box from Hungry Harvest with Quaker oats, kale, avocado, carrots, ginger, and blueberries. The ingredients seemed pretty teed up for a pear and blueberry crisp — but I wanted to think outside the box. However, I didn’t want to introduce too many additional ingredients and chose to solely add pantry staples.

A couple of years ago I went vegan for a week for Dr. Oz and fell in LOVE with Kathy Hester’s technique of preparing Steel Cut Oats “Sausage.” I knew I wanted the cornerstone of the dish to play off of the “sausage oats.” After a bit of contemplation and tasting advice from the all-star team at TLEG I came up with the Savory Oat Sausage and Kale Stack with Avocado and Pickled Carrots. It is absolutely delicious!

  • The rules dictated I was to use at least 3 ingredients from the box — and with my stack I was able to actually use all of the ingredients except the blueberries.
  • To reduce waste I made a veg stock from the scraps and peelings (onion, garlic, carrot, and pear) to use with the kale, as well as in the pickling liquid for the pickled carrots. 
  • Then,  I used a bit of the pickling liquid for a pop of acidic flavor, to layer the flavors, and to prevent the avocado from turning brown. 
  • Lastly, instead of discarding the kale stems I chopped them finely and sautéed them a bit first before adding the leaves. This technique uses up every last bit of the kale and as a result the kale component container even more fiber. 
  • Sautéed kale and onions was a Southern natural, and I was able to introduce sweet pear into a savory recipe by combining it with the slightly bitter kale.

CLICK HERE TO VOTE FOR ME ON THE JAMES BEARD FOUNDATION  #MORETASTELESSWASTE WEBSITE 

James Beard Foundation on www.virginiawillis.com

Food Waste

As a long time board member of the Atlanta Community Food Bank and active supporter of No Kid Hungry, I am sadly aware that a tremendous amount of food is produced and wasted while many families don’t have enough to eat. Children go hungry. Resources are squandered.

I consider my “raison d’etre” to share chef-inspired recipes with home cooks. As a cookbook author, cooking school teacher, and food writer my goal is to educate home cooks that good, healthy, wholesome food can be achieved in their own kitchen. I endeavor to teach home cooks how to think like a chef — whether that be through culinary techniques, gaining inspiration through ingredients, or the economics of cooking — and that includes food waste management. 

Food waste is a significant problem in the US. Forty percent of the food in the United States is never eaten. But at the same time, one in eight Americans struggles to put enough food on the table.

It’s important to understand that appearance doesn’t always matter and purchasing less-than-perfect vegetables  can help both your pocketbook as well as the farmer. Reduce, reuse, and recycle should be your goal in the kitchen and using every last bit of an ingredient — turning the bones from supper into stock and vegetable trimmings into broths and waters; re-imagining carrot tops as pesto and saving parsley stems for chimichurri; and simple practices, like drying bread for bread crumbs or saving shrimp shells for stock.

It’s what I call “free food” – it’s there for the taking, but there has to be a mind shift on how best to maximize potential. By managing food sustainably and reducing waste, consumers save money, provide for those who do not have enough to eat, and conserve resources for future generations. 

CLICK HERE TO VOTE FOR ME ON THE JAMES BEARD FOUNDATION  #MORETASTELESSWASTE WEBSITE 

 

James Beard Foundation on www.virginiawillis.com

 

Atlanta Community Food Bank

The Atlanta Community Food Bank distributes over 60 million pounds of donated grocery products a year to more than 600 nonprofit partner agencies —including food pantries, community kitchens, childcare centers, night shelters, and senior centers—to distribute over 60 million meals to more than 755,000 people in 29 counties across metro Atlanta and north Georgia.

  • Did you know that more than 1 in every 4 Georgia kids live in food insecure household?
  • 1 in 7.5 people, or an estimated 755,400 people, in metro Atlanta and north Georgia turn to food pantries and meal service programs to feed themselves and their families each year. This includes more than 164,000 children and more than 64,000 seniors.
James Beard Foundation on www.virginiawillis.com

PLEASE VOTE FOR ME ON THE JAMES BEARD FOUNDATION  #MORETASTELESSWASTE WEBSITE 

  • $5K = 20,000 meals! According to the Atlanta Community Food Bank 1$ = 4 meals so that means if I win the contest that will mean 20,000 meals for the Atlanta region!
  • Another way to think about it is with each $1 you donate, ACFB can provide more than $9 in groceries for someone in need. So, that’s $45,000 in groceries for the greater Atlanta area.
James Beard Foundation on www.virginiawillis.com

Here’s a link to the recipe for my Savory Oat Sausage and Kale Stack. If you give it a try, please let me know what you think! And, please take a moment and vote for me — and the ACFB — in the #MoreTasteLessWaste recipe contest. You can vote every 24 hours and I would greatly appreciate your support!

Also, please sign up HERE for my Giving Thanks class for the ACFB with Nathalie Dupree! Here’s a look at our great class last year with a recipe for an easy pear tart. You can check out other events on my website, too. Hope to see you soon.

Bon Appétit, Y’all!

Virginia Willis

 

Want to keep up with my culinary wanderings and wonderings? Let’s connect on  Facebook , TwitterInstagram, and Pinterest.

Please be nice. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without permission is prohibited. Feel free to excerpt and link, just give credit where credit is due and send folks to my website, virginiawillis.com.

Thanks so much!

Copyright © 2017 Virginia Willis Culinary Enterprises, Inc.

 

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Get Your Game On with Tailgating Recipes

Tailgating Recipes on www.virginiawillis.com

Tailgate Season

We’re about a month into college football season and things are just getting started. All the early supposedly easy games are over and we’re getting into the more serious match-ups. The air is getting crisper and the leaves are starting to change color. It’s tailgating season and you need tailgating recipes! At the bottom of the post, you’ll see the recipe for Savory Eggplant Dip that’s a huge family favorite. It’s great with chips, crackers, or celery sticks. And, to round things out I’m sharing a collection of tailgating recipes I am certain you will love.

Link it Up!

Many tailgating recipes are all about the grill game. Tired of brats and burgers? Check out my Grilled Gumbo over on SouthernKitchen.com made with tender shrimp, juicy chicken, and spicy sausage. I’m thrilled to be working with Southern Kitchen. Keep an eye out for more recipes and make sure to follow them on Facebook.

Tailgating recipes on www.virginiawillis.com

The Ultimate Football Food

These wings are incredible and burst with the flavor of sweet heat. Um, ah — this post didn’t work out so good for the Falcons, but the Coca Cola Wings are a winner! Ouch. Too soon?

Tailgating recipes on www.virginiawillis.com

Make Ahead

Make this Tailgate Chili with all the fixins! Made with canned or dry beans this recipe is certain to satisfy every fan. I often make it with turkey sausage and ground turkey instead of Italian pork sausage and ground beef. And, I just want you to know there’s a reason this chili is red and black!

Tailgating recipes on www.virginiawillis.com

Tailgating with Sticking Fingers

You want ribs for your tailgate? Granted, some of these rib tailgating recipes this might work out better in your backyard , than on campus. One way or the other, this has you covered. I’m sharing FIVE great recipes for BBQ ribs. Get out the napkins and the spray and wash!

Tailgating recipes on www.virginiawillis.com

Deviled Eggs

Don’t you love those Tupperware deviled egg holders? Who doesn’t like a deviled egg? Check out my Genius Deviled Eggs on Food52. What makes them genius? You’ve got to check it out!

tailgating recipes on www.virginiaiwillis.com

P-Cheese

Pimento Cheese is probably the Number #1 Tailgating Recipe in the SEC! Click HERE for a Lightened Up Version (you can’t tell the difference!) AND Perre Coleman Magness’s recipe for Pigs in Pimento Cheese Blankets with Honey Mustard Dip.

That should do it — tailgating recipes that will help you get your game going. Have a great weekend!

Bon Appétit, Y’all — and Go Dawgs! 

Virginia Willis

 

Asian Eggplant Dip on www.virginiawillis.com
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Savory Eggplant Dip

Author virginiawillis

Ingredients

  • 2 medium eggplant
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced fresh ginger
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced green and white scallion rings
  • 1 serrano chile pepper cored, seeded, and chopped, plus more sliced for garnish
  • ¼ teaspoon dried red chile flakes or to taste
  • 3 tablespoons tamari
  • 3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unseasoned Japanese rice vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon hot water
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 475°F. Wrap the eggplant in foil and place in the oven. Roast until collapsed and very tender, about 45 minutes. Remove the eggplant and loosen the foil. Slit it lengthwise to speed the cooling.
  2. Combine the garlic, ginger, scallion, and Serrano pepper in the bowl of a small food processor fitter with blade attachment. Pulse to combine. Set aside. Combine the tamari, brown sugar, vinegar, sesame oil, and water. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Set aside.
  3. Heat a wok over medium high heat. Add the canola oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the reserved garlic-ginger mixture and red pepper flakes.
  4. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant 45 to 60 seconds. Add the reserved sauce ingredients and eggplant.
  5. Stir well to blend, and heat through. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Serve warm or cold. Keeps up to 5 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Photos by Virginia Willis

Please be nice. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without permission is prohibited. Feel free to excerpt and link, just give credit where credit is due and send folks to my website, virginiawillis.com. Thanks so much.

Want to keep up with my culinary wanderings and wonderings? Lets connect on  Facebook , TwitterInstagram, and Pinterest.

Copyright © 2017 Virginia Willis Culinary Enterprises, Inc.

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9/11 and the War of Terror

9/11 Virginia Willis

War of Terror

In 2010 when I initially wrote this post, I hadn’t written a word about my experiences on 9/11 and hardly ever spoke of it. I couldn’t watch reports on TV — and still can’t. I’ve tweaked and re-posted this piece every year since I wrote it. The photo of my sister above was shot mere days before 9/11. It’s hard to believe that it’s been 16 years. (more…)

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What’s in Season: Cucumber Fruit Salad

Cucumber Recipes on www.virginiawillis.com

 Cool as a Cucumber

Did you know that cucumbers are more than 90% water AND the phrase “cool as a cucumber” is a scientific fact! The inside temperature of a cucumber can be up to 20 degrees cooler than the outside air. I love cucumbers and will snack on them, especially during the summer. They are good and good for you! Cucumbers are low in calories and contain a good amount of water and soluble fiber, making them ideal for promoting hydration and aiding in weight loss or maintaining a healthy weight. They are available year round from “somewhere else” or grown in a hot house, but they are, like much other summer produce best at peak season. I love their crisp, juicy, and refreshing texture and grassy melon-like flavor. (more…)

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What’s in Season: Cantaloupe Creamsicle

Cantaloupe Creamsicle on www.virginiawillis.com

Summer Melon

Cantaloupe responds well to hot summer heat and is currently in high season across much of the US. Generally, this time of year we keep cantaloupe freshly cut and cubed in a container in the fridge. Cantaloupe is one of those fruits that is always found in the prepared foods case in the produce department — but it’s so often dull and pretty boring. However, in the heat of mid-August ripe cantaloupe is luscious with tangy juices. If we’re not eating it fresh, I will pop it into the blender to make a smoothie. I’ll often add yogurt, maybe a bit of mint and a handful of blueberries or so. The other day as I was making our breakfast smoothie it occurred to me that it would make a fantastic popsicle. (more…)

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