We typically reserve Monday and Tuesday nights for cooking a super nourishing meal at home and watching a good movie or a TV show we have DVR'd. I usually cook a meal that is heavy on the vegetables, some type of grain and or protein, and everything is usually organic or came directly from a farm.
Last week I was reminded that this little ritual of ours was a luxury, not a right. Last week I learned that hunger in America is real, and 1 in 4 kids will go to sleep hungry tonight.
After reading Nicole Gullota's, of The Giving Table, call to inspire action about hunger in America, the next movie up in our queue for movie night was A Place At The Table, a documentary about hunger in America. If you have not seen it yet, you must. I have to admit, with there being such big focus these days on childhood obesity, I was a bit skeptical and confused that there was now a documentary about childhood hunger. But what I quickly came to learn from watching this documentary was that the two go hand in hand. I was shocked, sad, and (once again) blown away at how our government is not taking responsibility to make sure our children are fed, and fed well.
I spent most of the documentary asking Michael why the government does not outlaw these over-processed foods that contain high fructose corn syrup and subsidizing the corn producers that makes it. Isn’t it obvious that will solve all sorts of issues from obesity, to issues with health care, which all trickles down to the economy?
The issues do not stop with these dangerous government subsidies. Did you know that the government only allows $1 per child for school lunches or $4 for people who need food stamps? I didn't until now. Have you ever tried to buy (good, healthy) food to make dinner with only $4? It’s pretty much impossible with the rising costs of produce. Especially for people who live in areas called "food deserts", which are areas in our country that do not have access to healthy foods and fresh produce.
But you know what you can buy with 4$ a day? Go to the isles with the chips, soda, and high fructose corn syrup - everything. You get a lot more bang for your buck in that isle.
So you see, when you are only living on a few dollars a day for food, the few calories you are getting are the ugly, dangerous ones. The ones that you and I will pay the extra few bucks to avoid.
It’s wrong, and when it comes to children, we as a nation should be doing everything in our power to feed them, and feed them well. No child should go to bed hungry, ever, but especially in one of the wealthiest nations in the world.
If you are as shocked and saddened as I am about hunger in the US and would like to take action today, there is something you can do. Go here and sign a petition to tell Congress to support anti-hunger legislation. The more voices they hear the better, so pass it along to your friends and family who would want to take action as well.
For this post, we were asked to create a recipe that would cost very little to make and something that could be made with pantry staples. I thought that a classic ribollita would be perfect, because it is one of my favorites, and can often be made with pantry staples, leftover ingredients, and some stale bread. It's a filling, warming, nutritious stew that makes for an easy, great dinner, and delicious leftovers to enjoy all week long.
Ribollita is a Tuscan stew, it means re-boiled. It is typically a leftover type of dish in Italy ....a really really good leftover dish. You know how some meals are better as leftovers? This is one of them.
ribollita with garlic oil
1 yellow onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
a couple of tablespoons of olive oil
1 bunch (about 10 leaved) of kale, or another hearty green
14oz can of whole peeled tomatoes
2 cups of white beans, soaked overnight and drained
1 teaspoon of salt
pepper, to taste
1 small-medium sized 2 day old baguette, torn into pieces
for the garlic oil:
2 cloves of garlic, pressed or minced
a couple of tablespoons of olive oil
optional spices: red pepper flakes, a bay leaf
- Heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the onions and garlic. Sautee until they are clear, about 3-4 minutes. You want them to be translucent but not browned.
- Then add in the kale and stir to coat with the onions and garlic. Cook the kale for a couple of minutes until it just begins to wilt.
- Then add in the tomatoes. Cook for a few minutes, and using a spoon break apart the tomatoes so you have a chunky paste consistency.
- Add in the beans, bay leaf (if using) and 3 cups of water. Bring it to a boil and them reduce to a simmer and cook for about an hour and a half.
- After it's been cooking for about one hour, remove the bay leaf add the salt and pepper. Give it a taste and adjust any seasoning accordingly. This is where you can add some red pepper flakes or any other seasoning you like.
- Add the bread and 2 more cups of water (or enough to make sure the bread and rest of the ingredients are covered), and cook for another 30 minutes.
- At this point, you can make the garlic oil. Place the oil in a small frying pan over medium heat. Cook the garlic on low heat for about 5 minutes. You want the garlic to become fragrant but you do not want it to brown. When it’s done remove it from the heat and place it in a small bowl.
- To serve the ribollita, spoon the soup into a bowl and drizzle the garlic oil over the top.
- This ribollita will keep for several days in an airtight container in the fridge. To reheat, place in a saucepan on the stove on medium low heat. Make sure you add a little bit of water to the mixture because the bread tend to soak most of it up.