First Ever Recipe Contest!

Sharon October 14th, 2008

So when we wrote _A Nation of Farmers_ Aaron and I got to interview a number of famous thinkers about the future of food and agriculture.  And we conceived the brilliant (?) idea of asking each one for a recipe, their vision of what we’re going to be eating in the coming decades, and how to make it.  So we got recipes from Bill McKibben, Helena Norberg-Hodge, Bob Waldrop, Faith Morgan, Gene Logsdon, Richard Heinberg, Albert Bates and more.  Because we’re deeply convinced that how we eat is going to be at the center of how we adapt – and don’t you want to know what Richard Heinberg thinks we’ll be eating after the oil runs out (hint, it isn’t rats – he’s a vegetarian ;-) ).

But we wanted a few more recipes for the book – we threw some of our favorites in too.  But we really wanted to add some more perspectives on this.  So I’m officially announcing the first ever Casaubon’s Book Recipe Contest!  I want to know what you think we’re going to be eating in a lower energy world – and I want to know how to make it appealing, appetizing, delicious, delightful.  Because the truth is that food is wonderful – and you don’t have to be rich to eat well.  We’re calling it good food for hard times! 

We’re looking for recipes that take into account local foods, that some things may not be available all the time, different, lower energy cooking techniques, or that make low-cost foods delicious.   To enter, just post  a recipe in the comments section of this post, and include an explanation of why it is a good example of good food that is practical in a changing world.  Everyone benefits from this – I mean we all get a slew of wonderful new recipes – but the best five (or if we really can’t narrow it down, maybe more) will be selected to appear in the book, credited to you in the acknowledgements, and you’ll get a free, signed copy.  All entries must be submitted by this Friday, and I’ll announce the winners next week!

 Ok, how fun is this, btw?  I promise I’ll post a couple of my own while I’m at it.



67 Responses to “First Ever Recipe Contest!”

  1. Chile says:

    When I cook brown rice in the solar oven, I use 2 cups rice and 4 1/4 cups water with a pinch of salt. If it’s a nice hot day and I’ve preheated the oven, I just put the covered pot inside with room temperature ingredients and leave it 1 1/2 – 2 hours. If it’s a cooler day or the oven hasn’t heated as well, I bring the rice and water to a boil on the stove and then put it in the solar oven. It’s never failed.

    Oh, I should point out that I have the best results using thing black metal pans. I’ve been very happy with the enameled pots lately. The metal is nice and thin, which means it heats up quickly. Glass Visionware did not work well at all.

  2. dani says:

    This can be cooked in an oven of any type (including solar) or over a flame. I live alongside a creek where a good old forage gives me the vegetables for this meal. All I need is a bit of fat and some form of grain.

    Wild Fennel and Dandelion ‘risotto’
    3 cups sliced wild fennel bulb
    2 tablespoons fat (oil, butter, whatever fat you have is fine)
    1 1/2 cups grain, soaked overnight (this works with quinoa, pearl barley or rice…pearl barley is my favourite)
    3 cups water
    1 cup dandelion flowers (gather leaves as well for a side salad)
    Place fennel in pan or baking dish and scatter fat over the top. Slowly cook until starting to brown. Add half the water and cook gently, stirring occasionally if cooking over a flame. Test after about 30minutes, add more water as required. When grain is cooked, remove from heat and stir through dandelion flowers. Serve.
    Dandelion greens can be served on the side as a salad.

  3. Lynn says:

    Kale Chips

    These are amazingly good, light, crispy and delicious. Everyone i have served them to likes them a lot. Besides being local, kale is a nutritional dynamo and a garden miracle for those of us in northern gardens. Easy to grow, it is extremely hardy, harvestable after several hard frosts and even after being covered in deep snow for several months.

    The chips are really quick and easy to make:

    Pick the kale and wash if necessary.
    Cut out the stems and cut the leaf part into chip sized pieces.
    Season to taste (eg. sea salt and olive oil, just a little of each, it’s easy to overdo it)
    Spread on cookie sheets (avoid overlapping pieces for quickest drying)
    Bake for 20 min at 250 F or dehydrate for several hours. I imagine a solar oven would work too though i don’t have one yet.

    Re seasoning
    We like a sprinkle of cayenne and sometimes garlic. Some folks include a sprinkle of vingegar. My daughter claims to prefer these made without oil, and they are quite good, but i definitely prefer them drizzled with a bit of olive oil. Presumeably other veg oils would work too.

    Sharon, thank you thank you for your wonderful writings, inspiration and leadership!

  4. Lynn says:

    P.S. re Kale Chips

    I forgot to mention that it’s good to “massage” the olive oil and sea salt (and any other seasonings) into the kale pieces a bit before baking/dehydrating.

  5. Jean says:

    I scrabbled this together last week from what was on hand,including our hen’s eggs, hence, Garden Scrabble Eggs. My teens loved it!

    Saute thinly sliced Swiss chard greens and scallions in a bit of butter until wilted. Pour over that as many lightly beaten eggs as wanted, cook stirring occasionally until almost done. Add quartered yellow pear tomatoes and finish cooking eggs. In a separate small skillet saute some sliced or quartered mushrooms in a small amount of butter til browned. Serve over eggs. Seasoned with salt & pepper.

  6. Basia says:

    Spring Nettles with Fried Eggs

    pour boiling water over nettles. chop them. fry garlic (as much as you like) in oil or butter. add nettles. saute them a bit. add some salt and pepper. fry eggs on other skillet. put them on the nettles. eat with rice or bread or kasha or polenta or nuddles. :)
    thank you Sharon, this is fun:)

  7. Patrice says:

    First off I have to say “Thank You” Sharon for all of the valuable information that you post on your blog. My recipe is actually two seperate recipes combined into one dish.

    Fried Cabbage, Sausage and Dumplings.

    Ingredients—1 medium potato, a large head of cabbage, a large yellow onion, a pound of polish sausage (or smoked sausage), flour, 1 egg, a bit of milk, butter and oil, salt and pepper

    Let’s start with the dumplings—peel, cut up and boil one medium sized potato. Cook until tender and drain. Mash the potato adding butter and milk(as if you were going to eat as a side dish), salt and pepper. Allow to cool to luke warm. Stir in one lightly scrambled egg and enough flour to get to a play dough consistency. (Knead the flour into the dough to get the consistency on a lightly floured surface.) Pat out about 1/2 inch thick on a lightly floured surface and cut into bite sized pieces using a pizza cutter. Cover with a damp towel or place dumplings onto a cookie sheet dusted with flour and place into the freezer. If placing into freezer, once frozen the dumplings can be stored in a freezer baggie for later use. Start a large pot of water to boil.

    To start the cabbage, core a large head of cabbage and remove any bad outter leaves. Chop the cabbage into bite size pieces. Dice one large yellow onion. In a large skillet or pot, over medium/medium high heat, combine a couple tablespoons of butter and a couple tablespoons of vegetable or olive oil. Add as much cabbage as you can fit into the pan and stir to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and continue cooking. As the cabbage cooks down, add the remaining cabbage along with the onion and continue cooking. While the above is cooking slice a pound of polish sausage into rounds about 1/2 inch thick and add to the cabbage mixture. Stir frequently to avoid burning.

    To the boiling water, add the dumplings, cook for 1 to 2 minutes after they float. Remove with a slotted spoon and add to the cabbage and sausage mixture. Continue cooking until the sausage is cooked and everything is heated through.

    The dumplings freeze well of use in other dishes. I add them to sauerkraut. If you don’t have or can’t get the sausage you can substitute some bacon for the meat.

    Serve with some nice crusty bread. By the way this is even better the next day after the flavors have had a chance to blend together overnight (if it makes it that long).


  8. This recipe is one from my Mom’s tattered and well used personal cookbook. It is a dessert, but this was a dessert she relied on during the Depression to brighten spirits. It uses ingredients you probably would have on hand, and tastes heavenly. We always have it for holiday dessert. Just for the same frugal reasons.

    Mock Plum Pudding

    This is a steamed pudding, moist and cake-like in consistency.

    1 cup grated potato
    1 cup grated carrot
    1/2 cup sugar
    1/2 cup molasses (these could be changed to 1 cup brown sugar)
    1/3 cup fat (lard, butter, ?)
    1 cup flour
    1/3 teaspoon each of allspice, cinnamon, cinnamon and salt.
    1 teaspoon soda
    1 cup chopped dried fruit

    Cream sugar and fat, add dry ingredients. Stir in grated potato, carrot and dried fruit.
    Fill greased molds 2/3 full, and cover with foil. Bake in water bath 2 1/2 hours @ 275* or until done.

    She used recycled cans from beans or tomatoes, but any slim container would work.

    This recipe was popular as a winter time treat, as root crops were harvested, and eggs and milk for cakes and desserts were scarce.

  9. Kati says:

    Split Pea Soup

    2 or 3 smoked ham hocks (May use leftover chunk of ham, instead, in which case treat it accordingly with regards to any bone or lack of)
    a gallon and a half to 2 gallons water

    Simmer together in largeish stock pot till meat begins to seperate from bone. More water may need to be added periodically. Remove hocks from stock, and allow to cool before pulling meat off bones. (Feed bones and fat to dogs.)

    2 to 3 largish russet potatoes, chopped into moderate size cubes
    1 largish onion, chopped
    3 or 4 stalks of celery, sliced into 1/2 inch slices
    2 smallish or 1 large turnip, diced up to same size as potatoes
    2 or 3 sliced, peeled carrots
    1/2 head cabbage, shredded, or 1/2 jar sauerkraut (undrained)
    4 cups split peas (color not important)
    Rutabaga and parsnip may also be used, if you have any available.

    Add all veggie ingredients to stock in pot, bring to a slow simmer and simmer at least 45 minutes or until everything is pretty well mush. Add in meat at last few minutes.

    Seasonings may vary from person to person, I usually use a mix of Mrs. Dash, a bay leaf or two, and some black pepper and sea salt to taste.

    My hubby loves Split Pea Soup since I started adding the cabbage or sauerkraut to it. Says it really takes the flavor up a notch. (In fact, now he doesn’t leave many leftovers for me.)

    This is best served with your favorite corn bread or muffins, hot from the oven, and a good bit of butter to slather on them.

  10. Jena says:

    I’m really surprised no one else has posted this by now, unless I missed it.

    What about cooking in a vacuum bottle, aka a Thermos(TM). I have always wanted to try this so I experimented with it today. Here’s a simple recipe:

    Put 1/4 cup steel cut oats in a pan or other container with 1 cup water. Bring to a boil. Keep in mind this could be done over a fire or other alternate places rather then a traditional stove.

    In the meantime have your vacuum bottle sitting full of hot water. You may want to heat this water first and just leave about a cup in the pan and add the oats to that.

    Once the oats come to a boil (this only took a few minutes on my stove on medium heat) pour the hot water out of the bottle and replace it with the oat/water mixture. You could use the now warm water from the bottle to make something else or I have a special jug in the kitchen to discard water and I use it to water plants or fill the dog dish.

    Put the cap tightly on the bottle and lay it on its side. If you do this at night you’ll have fresh oats in the morning, possibly still warm.

    I tried it this morning and had my oats for dinner. They weren’t very warm but I had left them for 12 hours, I bet they would stay nice & warm for 8 hours.

    Here’s why I like this:
    You only have to have a heat source for a few minutes instead of around 20 minutes like it would normally take.
    Almost everyone has a Thermos (TM) or could get one cheap enough (you want a nice metal or glass lined one though, no plastic).
    It is flexible – you can do this with rice, beans, etc.
    My favorite part: I added some of my dehydrated apple slices, all broken up, to the mix and when I ate it they were nice and soft and rehydrated.

    So all you would need is a way to heat water, potable water, and dried goods like rice, oatmeal, and an infinite variety of dried fruits or even nuts. This would go along nicely with the ANYWAY food storage system discussed in the new post. Not that you need to cook quick oats for long but it would allow you to try other kinds.

    The oats would be even better if I had added some of my canned applesauce to them. It is kind of like a slow cooker without the need for electricity. I think I’ll try rice next! Let me know how you like it if you have tried this or try it now! :)

  11. Maple Spice Sponge Cake

    1 c Maple syrup
    1 c Flour
    6 ea Eggs
    1 t Vanilla
    1/2 t cinnamon
    1/4 t ginger
    1/4 t cloves

    Separate eggs. Put whites in large bowl, yolks in medium bowl. Sift
    flour several times, put in small bowl. Beat egg whites until stiff,
    but not dry. Set aside. Beat yolks until light, add syrup, spices and
    vanilla. Beat again to mix well. Pour yolk syrup mixture
    into whites and fold gently with wire whip or spatula until blended. Gradually add flour 1 tbsp. at a time while folding mixture. When blended, pour in large tube pan. I use a pan in which the tube part is removeable. Bake at 325 for about 1hr. Cool on rack, then remove cake from pan.

    Notes: I like this with a somewhat thin chocolate frosting (so it drips down the sides) but various adaptions could be made using what is available such as: serve plan, serve with ice cream or whipped cream, serve with a drizzle of maple syrup or heat some syrup with a bit of butter for a more savory sauce, maple cream or crumbled maple candy, fresh or canned fruit etc etc.

    I have chickens and we make maple syrup so all I’d need from my purchased storage or “the general store” is flour and spices. We don’t now have dairy animals (do have meat animals) but dh grew up on a dairy farm so we would have the knowledge if needed.

    We are however spooked in that we live next to Worcester Ma in which the Asian Longhorn Beetle has been found, their favorite food is maple trees, the treatment for the trees is to be cut, also many trees in the affected area will be removed if they seem to pose a danger for spreading the beetle.

    Syrup is (hopefully not was) my sweetener for when the shtf and this concerns me more than say 5 years ago when I didn’t know I’d needed it as part of my survival food stores.

    Beth in Massachusetts

  12. tinker says:

    I’m not sure if I’m in time for the recipe contest, but I did want to put in my two cents worth for the oft-maligned, lowly zucchini. It can be eaten raw, baked, boiled, fried or grilled, or as many a mom has been known to do – pulverized and hidden in any number of other dishes from quick breads to smoothies. Best of all, its fruit can be used at ANY stage of its development – from the blossom itself (delicious battered and fried) to fingerling size, to the size of a baseball bat (though some may argue at that size, using it as an actual baseball bat, might be its best use :) Here in S. California, it can be grown nearly year round, from late March to first frost (which often doesn’t come until mid to late December – and given the potential global warming threat, this may extend its season year round!). Though loaded with life-giving water, it’s also packed with vitamins, minerals (262 mg potassium per gram!), and even, according to the USDA, 1.21 grams of protein per 3 1/2 oz.

    Though I love it best either baked and stuffed with whatever leftover grains and other veggies we have on hand covered with tomato sauce and baked for an hour, or sliced and simmered in broth and spices (a pinch each of oregano, thyme, turmeric and a dash of powdered pico de gallo) along with other summer squash, corn and stewed tomatoes (a sort of squash soup, we call calabacitas), though the simplest and most energy efficient way that I serve it is in salad form:
    Into one bowl, slice one 8″ cucumber (peel, if you must, though an easy way to get used to eating the rind is to take a fork and rake it along the outside, somewhat reducing the sometimes bitter taste – this looks pretty, too) and slice 2-3 young (6″ or smaller) zukes very thin, and cut each of 2 – 3 tomatoes into eighths. Cover with your favorite vinaigrette (oil and vinegar) or even bottled Italian dressing and top with a sprinkling of basil leaves. Let marinate for at least an hour. Only one dish to wash, and the only energy used is the elbow grease used in slicing, and that of the fridge, if you choose to refrigerate it before eating.

  13. tinker says:

    Oops – I just realized I neglected to introduce myself – I’ve been lurking, reading along for a couple of months – I’m no longer certain what link led me to your site – but I’m glad it did.

    p.s. Also, I meant to mention the incredible cornucopia of food, that a single zucchini plant can produce – enough to feed a neighborhood — but then, given its reputation, that probably goes without saying!

  14. Gina says:

    Thank you for all the recipes everyone! I am really looking forward to trying some new meals. Here’s my are my contributions, developed in response to my son’s multiple food allergies.

    “Gina’s Allergy Free Black Bean Burgers”

    Note, this recipe is soy-free, dairy-free, nut-free, meat/fish-free, and egg-free. All of the ingredients, except the baking powder, can be procured or grown locally (southern California).

    Source: Gina Mendolo


    1 T flaxseeds
    2 T water
    1 small red onion
    2 ribs celery
    1.5 c cooked black beans or 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
    1/4 c panko bread crumbs OR crushed tortilla chips OR (basically any sort of bread crumb like things you have around will work)
    1 t dried oregano, crumbled
    3/4 t ground cumin
    3/4 t ground coriander
    1/8 t cayenne pepper
    1/4 t salt
    3/4 t baking powder


    -Mix the flaxseeds and water and heat briefly (30 sec in the microwave, or briefly on the stovetop).
    -Place onion and celery in a food processor and dice coarsely OR dice coarsely by hand.
    -Place remaining ingredients in food processor with the onion and celery and pulse until well combined, but still textured OR combine all ingredients and mash by hand until well combined.
    -Let mixture sit for 20 minutes, covered.
    -Form into “hamburger” patties (makes 4 patties).
    -Cook in a 350 degree ove (approximate, temperature is not that important) OR grill on a sheet of aluminum foil until crispy on the outside, yet still moist in the center.

    “Layered Vegetable Enchiladas”

    Note, this recipe is soy-free, nut-free, meat/fish-free, and egg-free. All of the ingredients can be procured or grown locally (southern California).

    Source: Gina Mendolo


    2 T olive oil
    2 medium leeks, diced (Alternative: if you can’t find leeks use one medium onion.)
    1 large bell pepper, diced
    1 cup corn (Fresh, frozen, or canned work fine. If frozen, no need to dethaw.)
    1.5 cups cooked or 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
    1/4 c fresh cilantro, chopped
    12 small to medium size corn tortillas
    2 cups enchilada sauce (recipe follows)
    Optional: 1.5 cups shredded cheese (cheddar, Monterey jack, and pepper jack all work well)


    -Heat the olive oil in a large skillet.
    -Sautee the leeks, peppers, and corn in the skillet until just tender, about 3 – 5 minutes.
    -Turn off the heat and stir in the black beans and cilantro.
    -Spread 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce on the bottom of a casserole dish.
    -Place four tortillas on the bottom of the casserole dish. (More or less depending on the size and shape of your casserole dish. You may have to cut the tortillas to fit.)
    -Scoop out 1/2 of the vegetable and black bean mixture and spread it over the tortillas.
    -Top with 1/2 cup cheese.
    -Top with 1/2 cup enchilada sauce.
    -Repeat: tortillas, remaining veggie and bean mixture, 1/2 cup cheese, 1/2 cup sauce.
    -Top with remaining four tortillas, followed by remaining enchilada sauce, and finally remaining cheese.
    -Cover and bake a 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
    -Serve with fresh guacamole and/or sour cream.

    “Enchilada Sauce”

    Note, this recipe is soy-free, dairy-free, nut-free, meat/fish-free, and egg-free. All of the ingredients, with the exception of the flour, can be procured or grown locally (southern California).

    Source: Raving Enchilada Sauce Recipe with Gina Mendolo Modifications


    2 vegetable stock
    4 T ancho chili powder
    1 t ground cumin
    3/4 t salt
    1/16 t ground cinnamon
    1/4 t sugar
    5 T cold water
    5 T all purpose flour
    2 cups tomatoes, passed through the medium disc of a food mill


    -Place the vegetable stock, chili powder, cumin, salt, cinnamon and sugar in a medium saucepan.
    -Use a whisk to mix everything well.
    -Heat to a boil, reduce the heat to a low boil and cook for 3 minutes. Note: Whisk frequently to make sure all spices dissolve. This is important for flavor and a nice smooth sauce.
    -While the sauce is on a slow simmer/boil, place the 5 tablespoons of cold water in a small bowl. With a whisk mix in 1 tablespoon of flour at a time with the water. Whisk vigorously to avoid lumps. If you have lumps here, you will definitely have lumps in your sauce.
    -After 3 minutes of cooking sauce, turn the heat up to high.
    -Slowly pour the flour mixture into the boiling sauce. Here you must whisk the sauce vigorously while adding the flour to avoid lumps.
    -After all the flour is added, continue to whisk the boiling sauce for one minute. You can turn the heat down to medium during this time.
    -Turn off the heat – you are done.

    “What the Heck Am I Going to Do With All of These Cherries Crisp”

    Note, this recipe is soy-free and egg-free. It can be made vegan by substituting margerine for the butter and it can be made gluten free by substituting more almond meal for the all purpose flour.

    Source: Gina Mendolo


    3/4 c butter, melted
    1 c oats, uncooked
    1/2 c almond meal (or finely groud almonds)
    1/2 c all purpose flour
    1 c brown sugar
    1/4 c white sugar
    1/4 t almond extract
    1/8 t cinnamon
    pinch nutmeg
    3 c cherries, pitted


    -Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    -Grease a 9 inch square or round baking dish.
    -Combine all ingredients except cherries in a bowl.
    -Press half of the flour and sugar mixture into the bottom of the pan to form a “crust”.
    -Pour cherries over the crust.
    -Sprinkle the remaining and sugar mixture over the cherries.
    -Bake for 30 minutes.

  15. Elizabeth says:

    Variation on the Gallos Pintos:

    I liked the sound of it so much, I just went and fixed a batch. Scrounging in the frig, I found 1/2 a sausage link and cut that up, sauteed with the onion. Wandering into the garden (not one of those nice huge ones like many people have, but a small plot behind the garage and some containers around the pool), I picked a jalapeno and a cherry tomato. Sauteed the jalapeno briefly, stirred in the beans (I used pintos), rice, and corn, topped with salsa and cheese and the diced tomato. Delicious and extremely filling!

    * pintos instead of black beans
    * add a bit of leftover meat for flavoring only, such as chicken, ham, sausage, etc
    * jalapeno or serrano while cooking
    * top with parsley

    Now for my recipe:

    In lean times so to speak, peppers are a good bet. They add much needed flavor to all that corn, rice, beans, pulses, potatoes etc, are terribly easy to grow, and are the universal food of poor people around the world.

    1 tomato
    1-2 nice peppers such as jalapeno, serrano, or chile pequin
    1 garlic clove
    cilantro (una cabeza de cilantro)

    Boil the tomato and pepper. Add garlic, cilantro, salt, and pepper. Grind all this up or blend. Do not turn into puree. Delicioso.

    These items are readily, easily grown in a backyard, patio, or apartment “garden.” If you are lucky, you’ll find the chile pequin growing wild, as we do here in south TX.

    Finally, please add URBAN CHICKEN to the winner’s short list. Amusing and practical.

  16. Lynnet says:

    Millet is a wonderful grain, easily cooked, very cheap (even organic millet), and healthful. Millet was the original polenta in Italy, before corn (maize) came from the New World. Here’s how I fix it.

    Millet Polenta

    Presoak: Cover 1 cup millet with boiling water, let stand all day or overnight. Drain and rinse a couple of times.

    Cook: Add 1.5 cups water and 1/2 tsp salt to the drained millet. Bring to boil, simmer 30 minutes.

    Pan: Spread 9″ square pan with a little olive oil, and turn the hot cooked millet into it, smoothing the top. Let stand until cool.

    Serve: Cut into squares, use like polenta. Brown in skillet in butter. Or cover with tomato sauce. Or cut into squares for an easily-carried snack. Or whatever strikes your fancy. Would also make a good breakfast.

    You could add some grated cheese at the “Pan” stage, stirring into the hot cooked millet before putting it into the pan. Or add herbs and/or garlic to the “Cook” stage.

  17. Annabelle says:

    Hey there, I was reading your article and I just wanted to say thank you for putting out such excellent content. There’s so much junk on the internet these days its hard to find anything worthwhile. I actually have cooked this recipe before, I got this book last month on recommendation from a friend and it turned out really nice! I’m extremely eager to try your variation of it though, it looks excellent. I think you might enjoy those recipes, they’re very good. Thanks for the article and tips.

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