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In this weekly series we have been discussing the benefits of a vegetarian diet including:better health, animal rights, frugal living, global food crisis, public health,  food safety and the immense contribution of meat/livestock production to climate change/resource depletion

Wednesday June 8 is World Oceans Day, a day to celebrate our magnificent oceans and the gift of life that they make possible for us.  It's also a good time to take a sobering reflection on the state of our oceans and the danger that's presented to them by ocean acidification a result of anthropogenic climate change.  Climate change doesn't just affect cold water species or coastal areas, it affects the entire web of life on Earth as we know it.

Our planet and the life on it are in crisis.  The only way to mitigate climate change is to reduce the pouring of massive amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.  Everyone needs to be on board for this historic challenge including the world's governments and even each individual is responsible for doing their share.

The World's governments need to forge an international agreement to cooperate in reducing greenhouse gases.  The US government needs to somehow bridge over the corporatist obstructionists to develop consensus and each of us needs to reduce our individual carbon footprints as much as possible.

Fortunately, there is much that we can do as individuals for our part in reducing carbon use in our lives.  Our actions taken together can do much in alleviating the out of control wreckage of our planet.  We here at Macca's Meatless Monday know that one of the greatest contributors to climate change is meat/livestock production so by simply reducing or eliminating meat and meat products in our diet we can be a force for mitigating climate change.  Here are the figures to support that statement.

I was inspired to create this series by former Beatle and vegetarian advocate Paul McCartney(Macca) who partnered with the Meatless Monday campaign to promote less consumption of meat.  We not only discuss the many advantages of a less meat diet we also do some cooking, share recipes and listen to great Beatle/McCartney music!

Kudos to Aspen, CO for becoming the nation's first Meatless Monday community!.  How cool is that?

Today we're heading to The White House where there has been a sea change in the direction of our food production.  With the introduction of the new My Plate icon USDA is at odds with With Federal Subsidies for Meat, Dairy .  No where to be found is that four letter word meat.  With their tips for vegetarian diets it's explained how an individual can get their protein needs from sources other than animals.  Huzzah!
                     Choose My Plate
The only thing I would have done differently is eliminated the glass of 'dairy'.  We don't need it and a glass of water would have been sufficient.  

So today to celebrate this long needed change we're visiting the Obama's White House Vegetable Garden to pick a few vegetables and turn them into some of the Obama's favorite recipes.
       Cucumber Soup
They really seem to like cucumbers as my search brought up two of their faves.  And they are perfect for the first garden cucumbers so I will show both easy recipes.  From The White House Kitchen Garden

2 cups almond milk
2 Tbls dill
2large cucumbers
3 oz. Greek yogurt

Toasted almonds, Greek yogurt and dill for garnish

If unavailable to find almond milk make your own.  To prepare the almond milk: Scald two cups of milk with a handful of slivered almonds. Steep l0 minutes. Let cool (leave the almonds in)
Peel, seed and coarsely chop the cucumbers. Add cucumbers, almond milk, Greek yogurt, dill and salt to blender and puree until smooth.

Serve chilled. Garnish with toasted almonds, a dollop of Greek yogurt and a sprig of dill

White House recipe

5 cucumbers, seeds removed
1 avocado
1 to 2 lemons
Salt and pepper to taste
1 bunch mint
3 Tbsp plain yogurt (optional)

In blender, combine 4 roughly chopped cucumbers, the avocado, 1 to 2 lemons to taste, and salt and pepper; blend well. Dice remaining cucumber and mix with chopped mint, salt, and pepper; add yogurt if desired. Pour soup into small bowls or glasses and top with the cucumber-mint mixture. Serves 4 to 6.
This is the Obama's famous spinach recipe.  They do seem to have healthy diets.

    2 pounds baby spinach, washed and cleaned
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    4 shallots, minced
    2 garlic cloves, minced

Blanch half a pound of spinach in salted, boiling water.

Immediately, "shock" the blanched spinach in a bowl of iced water. Drain and squeeze out the excess water.

Puree in a blender. Set aside.

In a large skillet over medium heat, sweat the shallots and garlic until translucent.
Add the rest of the spinach leaves. Toss and saute until wilted.
Fold in the spinach puree.
Season with salt and pepper, transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately.
This recipe is from a White House Easter brunch...serves 8

6 large eggs
Salt and pepper, to taste  
1 3/4 cups potatoes diced or sliced into small pieces
2 cups Swiss chard (or other leafy greens)
1/2 tablespoon butter or vegan butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

2. In a bowl, beat the eggs. Season them to taste with salt and pepper.

3. Wash the chard and tear it into smaller pieces.

4. Warm an oven-proof sauté pan over medium heat. (The pan should not get too hot.) Add the oil and butter. Add the potatoes and chard, and sauté until the potatoes begin to soften, about 6-10 minutes. Remove the vegetables from the pan and set aside.

5. In the same sauté pan, pour in the eggs to form a base, and continue heating over medium. When the eggs begin to cook, place the cooked potatoes and Swiss chard on top, using a spoon to distribute them evenly. Add the cheese.

6. Place the pan in the oven to finish cooking the eggs and melt the cheese, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cut into wedges to serve.
We've all heard about The President's love for sweet potatoes and greens.  Here is the White House recipe

    2 or 3 large sweet potatoes
    1/4 Tbsp. olive oil or vegetable oil
    1/2 tsp. cinnamon
    1/4 tsp. ground cloves
    Salt and pepper
    2 bunches of greens (chard, kale or collards)
    2 cloves of garlic
    1 tsp. honey
    Juice from half a lemon

Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into bite-size pieces.

Heat half the oil in pan over medium heat and add potatoes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until just brown on all sides and soft (about 12 to 15 minutes, depending on size). When cooked, add spices and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

While the potatoes are cooking, wash the greens (do not dry), remove stems and cut leaves into small pieces. Heat remaining oil over medium heat, add the garlic and cook for a minute before adding greens. Stir often and cook until tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Combine potatoes, honey and lemon juice with the greens, stir and serve.
       sweet potato salad
My favorite sweet potato salad which I will share with the Prez. adapted from Mark Bittman.   serves 4

4 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 large onion, preferably red, chopped
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons minced fresh hot chili, like jalapeno
1 clove garlic, peeled
Juice of 2 limes
2 cups cooked black beans, drained (canned are fine)
1 red or yellow bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro.

    Heat oven to 400 degrees. Put sweet potatoes and onions on a large baking sheet, drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil, toss to coat and spread out in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast, turning occasionally, until potatoes begin to brown on corners and are just tender inside, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven; keep on pan until ready to mix with dressing.

    Put chilies in a blender or mini food processor along with garlic, lime juice, remaining olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Process until blended.

    Put warm vegetables in a large bowl with beans and bell pepper; toss with dressing and cilantro. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve warm or at room temperature, or refrigerate for up to a day.

The Presidents favorite sweet potato pie recipe

Dough Ingredients:
1 cup butter
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon  salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon  lemon zest
2 egg yolks
2 ½ cups flour

Filling Ingredients:
3 sweet potatoes, cut in half lengthwise
4 sticks cinnamon
5 star anise
1 orange  quartered
2 tablespoon melted butter

Custard Ingredients:
3 cup crème fraiche
4 whole eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 teaspoon cinnamon
½  teaspoon nutmeg
½  teaspoon salt

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

For the pie dough,  mix the sugar and butter until it is light and fluffy.  Add the dry ingredients and gently mix.  Incorporate the vanilla, lemon zest and egg yolks.   Form the mixture into a ball and let it rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.   With a lightly floured rolling pin on a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out into a quarter inch thick circle. Lightly drape the dough over a 12 inch tart or pie pan. Fit the dough and trim any remaining dough. Cover with parchment paper and let rest in the refrigerator for another half hour. In a pre-heated oven, bake the pie shell covered with parchment paper topped with baking beads (or you can use dry beans or rice) for 12 minutes.

For the filling,  place the sweet potatoes, cinnamon, star anise and orange on a baking sheet and drizzle the melted butter over everything. Bake at 350 degrees until the sweet potatoes are tender.  Scoop out the potatoes and pass it through a sieve or strainer so it turns into a potato purée.  Discard the spices and orange. Set the potato purée aside to cool.

Mix all the custard ingredients until blended and fold it into the potato purée until fully blended. Pour this mixture into the cooked tart shell and finish cooking until set, about 35 minutes.

Honey Meringue Topping:
3 egg whites
2 cups honey reduced by half

Whip the egg whites until stiff and incorporate the hot reduced honey. Top the cooked sweet potato pie and broil until the meringue gets a toasted color.
            strawberry rhubarb crisp
Adapted from Bill Yosses, White House pastry chef and author of the new dessert book, The Perfect Finish (Norton, 2010)
Yields 8 to 9 servings

Topping Ingredients:

1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ cup instant oats or whole oats
4 ounces unsalted butter (cold)


1. In food processor, pulse flour and sugars until blended.

2. Cut in cold butter, in small pieces, and add oats to the mixutre. Pulse briefly and set aside. Mixture should be crumbly.

Filling Ingredients:

3 or 4 Tablespoons granulated sugar
¼ cup honey
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch salt
1½ Tablespoons cornstarch
Pinch cardamom
Juice of ½ lemon
1 pound fresh rhubarb, cut in ½-inch pieces
½ pound fresh strawberries, preferably local and organic, hulled and cut in halves or quarters, depending on size


1. Combine sugar, honey, cinnamon, salt, cornstarch, cardamom, and lemon juice, and toss with rhubarb and cut strawberries.

2. Spoon into 9-by-9-inch square baking dish or deep 9-inch pie plate.

3. Sprinkle the crisp mixture evenly over the top.

4. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for about 50 minutes, until topping is browned and fruits are bubbly.

5. Serve warm. Can be reheated.

"Blackbird"   The Beatles from the iconic The White Album

"Back In The USSR"  The Beatles  from The White Album

What have you all been cooking?  Please share your recipes and fave Beatles/McCartney music here!

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