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Life is too short to eat bad food! Sharing great recipes, farm life, stories and photography from our Northern California dairy farm.

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March 4, 2010

This & That & a Little Organic

It's nice to see the sun emerge today. It makes everyone content doesn't it?

This little critter was very content on the landing to our deck stairs. He didn't even move with my finger so close to him.....

Not sure what the name of this bird type is, but they were swarming the yellow mustard on the way to Bryce's school today...

The Turkey Buzzards were happy here on the ranch in the mid-day sun (bad lighting for photos though)....

Chloe found a nice, sunny spot....

The first signs of spring make me think about planting my vegetable garden. Not sure what will be on the list this year, but I just paid a visit to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) website and maybe the Dirty Dozen list below will help me to decide.

A Jack-O-Lantern harvested a wee bit too early last fall...

An EWG simulation of thousands of consumers eating high and low pesticide diets shows that people can lower their pesticide exposure by almost 80 percent by avoiding the top twelve most contaminated fruits and vegetables and eating the least contaminated instead. Eating the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables will expose a person to about 10 pesticides per day, on average. Eating the 15 least contaminated will expose a person to less than 2 pesticides per day. Less dramatic comparisons will produce less dramatic reductions, but without doubt using the Guide provides people with a way to make choices that lower pesticide exposure in the diet.

If you're trying to decide what's best for your family or want to save some money, EWG has identified 15 fruits and vegetables that are least likely to be contaminated with pesticide residues.

The Clean 15 ~ (least contaminated)
3.Sweet corn (frozen)
7.Sweet peas (frozen)
15.Sweet potatoes

The Dirty Dozen ~ (most contaminated)
3.Sweet bell peppers
10.Grapes (imported)

There is a list of 47 different fruits and vegetables on their website~ EWG.
I normally do not buy very much organic produce and just wash my conventional fruit and vegetables really well, although I know some pesticides can be absorbed by the fruit or vegetable, maybe I'll just plan my garden from the Dirty Dozen List above.

Update 7-16-10:

It was brought to my attention by a Facebook friend, (thanks Geoff) there is a new report, just released Thursday by the Alliance For Food & Farming challenging this Dirty Dozen claim.  The Alliance for Food & Farming has launched a new website, Safe Fruits and Veggies, to give consumers a different perspective and stress the need to eat more fresh fruits and veggies.  I hope you check out this new report

Here is a Pear Bread Pudding recipe to share ~ Sweet caramelized pears are the highlight of this comforting, custardy, raisin-studded bread pudding. When turned out of its baking dish, the flanlike pudding sits in a pool of intense caramel syrup. Serve warm or chilled.

2 1/2 cups low-fat milk
4 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 cups cubed, day-old country-style bread, crusts trimmed (4-6 slices), preferably whole-wheat
2 tablespoons raisins, or currants
1 teaspoon butter, softened, plus 2 tablespoons, divided
2 ripe organic pears, peeled, halved and cored
1 tablespoon lemon juice

1.Heat milk in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring, until steaming, 4 to 6 minutes. Whisk eggs in a large bowl until blended; gradually whisk in 1/4 cup sugar. Slowly whisk in the hot milk until blended. Whisk in vanilla, lemon zest and nutmeg.

2.Add bread and raisins (or currants) to the milk mixture; gently fold together. Press down lightly with the back of a large spoon. Cover and set aside at room temperature.

3.Butter the bottom and sides of a round 2-quart baking dish with 1 teaspoon butter. Preheat oven to 350°F. Put a kettle of water on to boil.

4.Cut each pear half lengthwise into 4 slices. Place in a medium bowl and toss with lemon juice.

5.Heat a medium skillet over low heat until hot. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and swirl until just melted and the foam subsides. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup sugar over the melted butter. Arrange the pear slices on their sides in the pan in an even layer. Increase the heat to medium-low and, without stirring, let the pears begin to brown and the sauce slowly caramelize, adjusting the heat as needed to prevent burning, about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and carefully turn each pear slice with a fork. Return to the heat and cook until the sauce is uniformly golden, 2 to 4 minutes more.

6.Carefully transfer the pears one at a time to the prepared baking dish, arranging them decoratively in a circle and slightly overlapping them if necessary. Use a heatproof silicone spatula to scrape any remaining syrup over the pears.

7.Set the baking dish in a shallow baking pan. Spoon the bread and custard mixture into the baking dish. Press down on the bread until it is submerged in the custard. Place the pan in the oven and carefully add the hot water to the shallow baking pan until it is halfway up the sides of the baking dish.

8.Bake until the pudding is browned on top and set in the center, 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Carefully remove the pan from the oven. Transfer the baking dish to a wire rack and let cool for at least 45 minutes. To serve, run a knife around the edge of the pudding. Place a serving platter over it and invert the pudding onto the platter.

Tips & Notes
Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day.

NutritionPer serving: 217 calories; 7 g fat (4 g sat, 1 g mono); 119 mg cholesterol; 31 g carbohydrates; 8 g protein; 2 g fiber; 142 mg sodium; 89 mg potassium.

Nutrition Bonus: Calcium (15% daily value)

2 Carbohydrate Serving

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