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2015 Holiday Foodie Challenge

October 5, 2015
by Lacy

2015 Holiday Foodie Challenge

Merry Christmas October!

I don’t want to alarm anyone, but as of today, you have about 12 weeks until Christmas.

Some of you are probably thinking, “12 weeks? That’s OODLES of time. Why would that alarm anyone?”

While others of you are saying “OMG 12 WEEKS WTHECK! WHERE’S MY WRAPPING PAPER?!?!”

It’s a personality thing.

If you love to MAKE gifts, now is the time to start, so I thought I’d put together a little Holiday Foodie Challenge!

2015 Holiday Foodie Challenge

Here’s how it works:

  1. Hop on over to our Facebook page — be sure to like it if you haven’t already! — and comment “I’m In!” on this post.
  2. Check out our blog post this week for some ideas and start planning out what kinds of gifts you’re going to make and what supplies you need to stock up on.
  3. We’ll have some fun recipes over the next 12 weeks for inspiration.
  4. Post pictures of your gifts and hard work to our Facebook page to inspire others or tag us on our NEW Instagram account @laughinglemonpie and use the hashtag #2015holidayfoodiechallenge.

Some suggestions:

Having done this challenge for myself before, here are a few suggestions for how to make it work best:

  1. Do some pre-planning.  It pays to figure out what you want to make and who you want to make it for right up front.
  2. Make two grocery lists: food and non-food supplies.  That way you only have to make ONE trip to the craft store or container store for bottles and jars!
  3. Make your plan based on how long things take to make — and how long they keep.  If you look at my original Christmas Foodie series, I made the infused vodka first, because it takes a long time to infuse. It also keeps well.  But I made my apricot nut bread last, because it doesn’t keep as well.

To assist with your pre-planning, some amazing ideas and recipes for you to try!

And my previous Christmas Foodie Series:

No. 1: Pepper-Infused Vodka
No. 2: Jam
No. 3: Pie in a Jar
No. 4: Sugar and Spice
No. 5: Hot Chocolate on a Stick
No. 6: Gingies
No. 7: Granola
No. 8: Preserved Lemons
No. 9: Gingerbread Biscotti
No. 10: Cracker Crack
No. 11: Satsumettes
No. 12: Apricot Nut Bread

YOU IN?  Comment here or on our Facebook Page to let us know!  And happy planning!

Better Butter Tasting 2015,

September 28, 2015
by Emily Klopstein

Baking with Better Butter

Better Butter Tasting 2015, Have you ever stood in front of the dairy case at the grocery store wondering about those “other” butters – the ones in the gold wrappers, the ones that come in a package half the size but double the price of the butter you’re used to? I know I have!

I’ve long wondered what it’s like in there, what $10/pound butter tastes like, and if the butter churned from the milk of these idealized cows grazing on only the finest and greenest grasses of Ireland was really any better than the run-of-the-mill store brand butter I’ve always bought.

So one day when I found myself feeling that old curiosity standing in front of the butters at our local Whole Foods, I took the plunge and bought 4 different butters (3 of them in those fancy gold packages!). In the past I’ve been held back by my relative foodie-solititude – but among the many perks of writing for a food blog is having a community of people who say YES! when you ask if they’d like to come over and try some butter. It might have helped that I mentioned the words “scones,” “mimosas,” and “shortbread” as well – the overall effect was rather undeniable and hence the 2015 Laughing Lemon Pie Better Butter Tasting was born.

With the 4 butters I boBetter Butter Tasting 2015, LaughingLemonPie.comught at Whole Foods plus my usual Safeway store brand on hand, we tested 5 kinds of butters ranging from $2.50 per pound to $10 per pound. I couldn’t bring myself to buy the most expensive butter on offer – it was $8 for 8oz. That’s $16/lb butter! Wow. But even when I’m trying to be extravagant I’m a cheap-o, and I just couldn’t do it. We figured it was either infused with gold, or perhaps made from the cream of unicorns hand milked by virgins. Some things are better left to the imagination, and $16/lb butter might fall into that category.

We tried 5 butters in 3 ways – baked into scones, baked into shortbread, and plain on toast. That’s 15 tastes – wow! It was a blind tasting, meaning that the tasters didn’t know which butter or which price-point they were tasting. I lettered all the butter in no particular order to preserve their anonymity and not influence the tasters:

A = Whole Foods 365 house-brand (16oz) $3.99 = $.25 per ounce, $4 per poundBetter Butter Tasting 2015,

B = Organic Valley European-Style Cultured Butter (8oz) $3.99 = $.50 per ounce, $8 per pound

C = PLUGRA European Style (8oz) $4.99 = $.62 per ounce, or $10 per pound– this was the priciest butter we tasted. However, I saw it just yesterday on sale at Safeway for $3.79 = $.47/oz or $7.58 per pound, which would put it in league with the midrange cultured/European style butters

D = Lucerne (Safeway’s house dairy brand) (16oz) on sale for $2.50 = $.156 per ounce, $2.50 per pound

E = Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter (8oz) $3.99 = $.50 per ounce, $8 per pound

For baking I thought thatBetter Butter Tasting 2015, shortbread and scones would be best for testing the butters’ taste. I chose the Scotch Shortbread recipe out of that good old standby, The Joy of Cooking (1997) (or the JOC as I call it). It’s a very simple recipe of working 1 cup creamed butter into 2 cups flour, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, and 1/4 tsp salt. Pressed into a pan, it gets baked at 325° for 35 minuteBetter Butter Tasting 2015, LaughingLemonPie.coms (more or less). I topped it with a nice layer of white sugar – cuz what goes better with butter, really? The simplicity and near-lack of any other ingredients in this recipe let the butter shine, as it were.

For Scones…that was a tough decision involving me thumbing through my vast collection of scone recipes, seeking a butter-based and simple one. Since I’ve moved onto cream scones, I haven’t been in the butter scone biz for a while and don’t have a particular go-to in that category. However, I found a 2013 recipe I’d clipped out of Bon Appetit for Adare Manor Scones – I had written “fave” in the margins, the ingredients were simple, and the directions uncomplicated so it won out. It’s a milk and butter scone – no eggs, no cream, no buttermilk or half & half. Just flour, sugBetter Butter Tasting 2015, LaughingLemonPie.comar, salt, baking powder, butter and milk. I used the Cooks Illustrated method of cutting the chilled butter into the flour using the food processor. These were supposed to be cut out scones, but with the volume (40 scones) and the time crunch (wanting them to be freshly baked, but not wanting to wake up earlier than 6am) I just formed them into scored rounds topped with eggwash and turbinado sugar.

Better Butter Tasting 2015,

Tasters hard at work.

Better Butter Tasting 2015,

The spread.

So that was the process, what were the results already?

There was a tie for first place and…they were both store-brand! Our A & D, Whole Foods 356 ($4/lb) and Better Butter Tasting 2015, LaughingLemonPie.comLucerne/Safeway ($2.50/lb), were the most universally liked butters. B & C, Organic Valley ($8/lb) and PLUGRA ($7.58-$10/lb), fell in the middle of the pack – not un-liked, but not standing out as special. And poor E, Kerrygold ($8/lb), was universally dis-liked.

I have to take some of the blame for Kerrygold’s failure – it is a salted butter. It doesn’t say so on the front of the package, but I know I read that on the ingredient list but then somehow didn’t factor it into my baking. I should have reduced or eliminated the salt in both recipes when baking with it. Tasters thought it came off salty, and that was my fault.

It did however have several other characteristics that were hard to get over – it was very yellow and had a chemically taste. Tasters were openly debating whether or not I might be trying to trick them by putting a margarine into the test, that’s how much and how oddly Kerrygold stood out! And that is the butter I most wanted to like – I’ve always coveted it in the store and imagined it to be the epitome of butters! Ha! It just goes to show you the power of good packaging. That cow and the idea of the green Irish meadow grasses have tugged at me for so long, but no longer!

Better Butter Tasting 2015, LaughingLemonPie.comOne very deep thought came up as we tasted, and may further reflect on our reaction to Kerrygold – we wondered if we had a European on the tasting panel what their opinion would be. In other words – did we North Americans like the American store-brand butters best because that is what we’re all used to? What we’re conditioned to like? What we recognize as tasting “good?” There really wasn’t an answer to that, but it was interesting to consider our cultural biases and experience and how those impact our palates.

Overall it was amazing to me how little relative difference there was between the butters. Many stood out “in no way whatsoever” as one taster said. For the most part the butters were quite mild, tasters often reacted to differences in their saltiness but not many comments on how buttery any of the butters tasted.

Whole Foods 365 and Lucerne performed well in baked goods, but as for plain butter as a spread or condiment tasters agreed that A and B were tops – Whole Foods 365 and Organic Valley European Style Cultured.

The venerated baker/scientists at Cooks Illustrated did a butter tasting in 2011 and found similar results. Their tasters like PLUGRA best (as did one of ours), but regular butter (they used Land O’Lakes) was recommended overall due to the small difference in taste vs the big difference in price.

Better Butter Tasting 2015, LaughingLemonPie.comNow, some of you are wondering what exactly is “better?” Better is kind of a judge-y word, implying some kind of superiority. Obviously I chose it because “better” next to “butter” is kind of a headline no-brainer, and it gets the basic point across.

“Better” here was meant to signify butters other than the generic grocery store brand – those pricier ones that we often pass by. One could assume based on their price that those butters are superior in some way. However, our small tasting group decided that grocery store brands were actually the better tasting butters.

“Better” could signify a range of factors though, like environmental (grass-fed) and health (organic). Better butter could mean more expensive, but/and it could mean better for the environment and you – often and lately those two overlap. Unfortunately a lot of those factors are difficult for the consumer to determine in-store. That’s why it can be nice to shop at a place like Natural Grocers/Vitamin Cottage where they’ve fastidiously narrowed down the choices for you by only stocking pasture-raised dairy products.

I didn’t particularly seek out grass-fed or organic butters for this testing. I’m not looking for the “best” butter for me and the environment because frankly I don’t think that exists. Personally, I’m trying to cut dairy/beef products out of my diet altogether – organic, grass-fed, conventional, CAFO or otherwise – mostly for environmental reasons (water usage and carbon/methane emissions). There are some shocking numbers associated with gallons of water needed to make butter – it’s hard to pin down, but estimates range from 665 gallons of water per pound, to 2,044 gallons of water per pound, and up to 2,586 by my own math if you multiply the 122 gallons of water to make a pound of milk by the 21.2 pounds of milk required to make a pound of butter. *See Comments* Basically, if you weren’t already using butter judiciously for health and weight reasons, the environmental impact of the stuff should encourage a very limited use of this product.

So, overall no big butter switch over here as a result of this weekend’s tasting. It’s nice to know that the plain old wax paper wrapped store-brand butter I’ve always used pleases most palates. Lacy’s go-to butter is Costco’s organic butter, I wish I’d added that to the panel. Do YOU have a favorite butter? Tell us all about it in the comments section below!

Breaking Up with Conventional Laundry on

September 21, 2015
by Emily Klopstein
1 Comment

Breaking Up With Conventional Laundry

OK…this post is not about food. But life, health, and Laughing Lemon Pie isn’t just about food. Breaking Up with Conventional Laundry on

Just as we make choices in our purchases at the grocery store, there are so many other home purchases we make and could think critically about. I’ve been working to reduce waste around here and reduce plastic consumption too, so it was getting harder and harder to see that huge plastic jug of liquid laundry detergent on top of my washer or in my recycle bin.

You remember the 3 Rs, right? They’re listed in order of importance: Reduce, Reuse, (then, finally, lastly) Recycle. Some people throw in a 4th R to the start of that list: Refuse. I knew I wanted to get back up the Rs – stop recycling giant laundry juBreaking Up with Conventional Laundry on LaughingLemonPie.comgs and reduce my household plastic intake. And only in my dreams did I imagine getting all the way to that optimum first R of refusing laundry-room plastic altogether.

You can imagine then how primed I was by the time I saw this headline on TreehuggerDitch the Laundry Jugs and Go Plastic-Free – I ordered Dizolve Eco Strips directly after reading the article.

Just as Lacy and Amy Ramsey counseled me through Breaking Up with Conventional Food (by buying organic), I’m here to declare that I’m breaking up with conventional laundry!

It’s part of a larger shift to break up with STUFF in general. In The Story of Stuff, Annie Leonard discusses the materials economy. It’s a long video (by modern YouTube standards) but so fundamental and worthwhile.

All our stuff – where it comes from and where it goes when we’re done with it – is the materials economy. In the video, Leonard neatly and reasonably outlines the “linear system” we’re imposing on a “finite planet.” She notes that the US represents just 5% of the world’s population, but we are “using 30% of the world’s resources and creating 30% of the world’s waste.” Furthermore, “we aren’t [truly] paying for the stuff we buy” – just like with organic vs. conventionally grown foods there is a lot more at stake than what’s reflected in the price tag at the store.

Now, I can’t speak to Tide or Target or laundry products in general in terms of The Story of Stuff. I don’t know enough to know how they all fit in there. But after watching The Story of Stuff I can never look down the aisle of Tide in the same way. Each of those jugs weighs over 10 pounds! And once I stopped to think about the process of making all those plastic jugs, filling them up with chemicals not necessarily approved by the FDA, loading them onto huge and heavy semi-trucks, and carting them around the country, then us all using them up and tossing them in the recycling bin…I was ready for a change.Breaking Up with Conventional Laundry on

Enter Dizolve Eco-Strips – what a difference! The entire package (64 loads worth of laundry) weighs just 7 ounces! That’s just 5% of the weight per load compared with conventional plastic jug liquid laundry detergent. And it’s not just light, it’s also small – The whole package is about the size of a tablet, or a thin paperback book. The minimal packaging is made simply of easily recycled paperboard. The difference in shipping, hauling, and storing Dizolve vs conventional liquid detergent is tremendous!

Dizolve Eco-strips are laundry soap that comes in flat perforated sheets. When laundry time comes around you break off a strip and put it in the soap section of the washer – for my washer that’s the same place I was putting liquid soap, and I break the strip up into 3-4 smaller pieces to fit into the little compartment. Dizolve works in cold or hot water, and in HE washers like mine.

So Dizolve easily met and exceeded all my logistical and environmental impact hopes and dreams. But in it’s ingredients, Dizolve is also better for the environment and your body. It’s paraben-free, phosphate-free, free of added dyes and perfumes, chlorine-free, readily biodegradable, and hypoallergenic.

Dizolve is made in Canada, and not available for purchase in US stores. But ordering off their website is really easy, and if you purchase 2 boxes (128 loads worth) you get free shipping. I was so enthusiastic about the product that I considered buying a box for one of you lucky readers to win, but then I got in touch with the nice folks up there and Dizolve has agreed to sponsor a reader to try their product! Just enter the raffle below. I hope you’re as impressed as I was and can start to think about the story behind the stuff you buy too.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Pueblo Green Chile Salsa Verde on

September 11, 2015
by Emily Klopstein
1 Comment

Roasted Pueblo Chile Salsa Verde

Colorado’s own green chile was the focus of our in-store demonstration this Tuesday at the Whole Foods in Pueblo Green Chile Salsa Verde on LaughingLemonPie.comBradburn/Westminster. No offense Hatch, NM, but we’ve got our own green chiles to be proud of and excited about!

If you haven’t heard the good news, Rocky Mountain area Whole Foods stores have started stocking Pueblo chiles exclusively – opting for our local Colorado green chile rather than the Hatch chiles that come from neighboring New Mexico. There is a wonderful article covering the change wfm smallin the Denver Post, along with a description of Colorado’s own Pueblo Green Chile:

“The high elevations of southeastern Colorado, along with hot summers and cold nights, Pueblo Green Chile Salsa Verde on LaughingLemonPie.comcreate a chile that is thicker and meatier than others, which makes them ideal for roasting. Pueblo chiles range in heat from medium to hot, compared with the typical Hatch chile, which ranges from mild to medium.”

We covered a lot of ground at the demo – discussing this year’s crop of local Pueblo green chiles (roasted freshly onsite); how to preserve and store this seasonal specialty to enjoy all year round; the joys of immersion blender use; how you can freeze avocados; and how to make nachos! In between all that, we made a modified version of Lacy’s Best Salsa Verde Recipe EVER and then used that to make my Muy Verde Salsa.

Pueblo Green Chile Salsa Verde on LaughingLemonPie.comNow, Lacy’s Best Salsa Verde Recipe EVER doesn’t actually include greenPueblo Green Chile Salsa Verde on chiles and it is a raw salsa – all fresh ingredients blended together. It has a very light and fresh flavor, perfect for summer. However, for me and for fall, I like my salsa a bit on the dark side. So I revised the recipe to include roasted Pueblo Green Chiles, and further modified it by roasting the other ingredients as well:

Pueblo Green Chile Salsa Verde on

Pueblo Chile Roasted Salsa Verde


  • 1 lb Tomatillos, whole (paper husks removed)
  • 2-4 cloves Garlic (skins on)
  • 1 medium Onion, quartered
  • 2-5 Roasted Pueblo Green Chiles (stems removed)
  • Salt to taste
  • optional add-ins:
  • Lime Juice
  • Spinach
  • Cilantro


  1. Preheat Broiler.
  2. Lay the Tomatillos, Garlic, and Onions on a baking sheet lined with a rimmed piece of tinfoil.
  3. Place the sheet under the broiler for 7 minutes - check if anything is burning, needs to be turned or removed. Broil another 7 minutes.
  4. After 14 minutes, remove the onions and place them in a blender. Remove the garlic and let cool. Turn the tomatillos using tongs.
  5. Broil the tomatillos another 5 minutes.
  6. Remove the partially roasted garlic cloves from their paper skins - add to blender with the onions.
  7. Add the roasted tomatillos to the blender, along with all the juices that have accumulated in the rimmed tinfoil.
  8. Add 2-5 roasted Pueblo green chiles to the blender (you might want to experiment, start with just 2-3 and adjust according to your taste. You could always add sour cream or an avocado if it gets too spicy to enjoy).
  9. Blend until uniform.
  10. Pour into a bowl and serve alongside chips, use as an enchilada sauce, or freeze your Pueblo chile salsa verde for later use!

In the salsa photoPueblo Green Chile Salsa Verde on LaughingLemonPie.comgraphed here I added about half a bag of spinach – I just couldn’t resist. It doesn’t taste like spinach, yet has all that goodness built in there! The tomatillos have so much tang on their own that I didn’t feel like lime juice was necessary. I used 3 Pueblo chiles, but could have gone with 4. At the in-store demo we used 3 chiles in the raw salsa and it came out with quite a kick! Experiment for yourself and to your taste.

Have you tried the Pueblo Chiles yet? Share your favorite way to use this local, seasonal ingredient in the comments below.

bone to pick crop

August 31, 2015
by Emily Klopstein

Book Review: A Bone To Pick

A Bone to Pick my Mark Bittman reviewed by LaughingLemonPie.comLacy and I are both big fans of Mark Bittman, his numerous cookbooks and especially his VB6 idea. However, not being a New York Times subscriber or follower I’ve mostly missed out on his weekly opinion pieces there and his contributions to the Sunday NYT magazine. A Bone To Pick fixed that in one fell swoop!

Food politics can be polarizing and/or depressing, but I found reading this book to be galvanizing, no-nonsense, and practical. Bittman offers many solutions and a can-do attitude, including impacts we can have as individual consumers (as simple as COOK AT HOME!) and ways in which we need to holler at our elected representatives. A Bone To Pick is filled with “the Good and Bad News about Food, with Wisdom and Advice on Diets, Food Safety, GMOs, Farming, and More.”

Obviously Lacy & I are proponents of cooking at home, and we are also huge advocates of voting-with-your-dollars and using our food choices to influence the market. This book provides both backing for what we’ve been doing and ideas for how to do more. In Bittman’s words:

“Cooking has never felt more important than it does now. If you want control of what you eat, if you want to help change the way food is produced, if you want to maximize your health and minimize your impact on the environment in general and climate change in particular, you simply have to cook[!]”

WOW – Could that be any more powerful? That last sentence is definitely in need of an exclamation point!

Each chapter is the text from one of his opinion pieces from the past 1-4 years. Being newspaper article length and reading level, they are really quick to read and succinct. The downside of that is that the pieces might be, should be, you hope are slightly out of date – but that would be optimistic or pessimistic depending on the progress made on these issues in the marketplace and legislatively.

If you’re unfamiliar with Bittman’s work, his overarching premise is that “the standard American diet – too much meat, sugar, and hyperprocessed junk – is fueling an astronomically expensive epidemic of preventable lifestyle diseases for which we are all paying.”

To illustrate this, I’m going to pull out some of the more eye-opening quotes here. We’ve got a cool “tweet this” button if you’re on Twitter – raising awareness of these issues is a great first step. For Facebook-ers, when you read a quote that moves you – copy & paste to share it! Be sure to credit the quote to Mark Bittman, and link to this post so your friends can read more.

“Food-related deaths are far more common than those resulting from terrorism, yet the FDA’s budget is about 1/15th that of Homeland Security.” – Mark Bittman, A Bone To Pick

“A global population growth of less than 30% is projected to double the demand for animal products. But there is not the land, water, or fertilizer – let alone the health care funding – for the world to consume Western levels of meat.” – Mark Bittman, A Bone to Pick

“The global food price index is at a record high, and our agricultural system is wreaking havoc with the health not only of humans but of the earth. There are around a billion undernourished people; [yet] we can also thank the current system for the billion who are overweight and obese.” – Mark Bittman, A Bone to Pick

“Fun/depressing fact: It takes the earth 18 months to replenish the amount of resources we use each year. Looked at another way, we’d need 1.5 earths to be sustainable at our current rate of consumption.” – Mark Bittman, A Bone to Pick

“Chronic exposure to pesticides is damaging not only to flora but to all creatures, including the one that habitually considers itself above it all: us.” – Mark Bittman, A Bone to PickJoel Salatin

“The average American is exposed to 10 or more pesticides every day, via diet and drinking water….Pesticide drift is a term used to describe the phenomenon by which almost all pesticides…wind up on or in something other than their intended target. [Add to that the fact that] around 95% of all seeds for soy, corn, and cotton contain a pesticide-resistant gene, which encourages wanton spraying…Organic food production would reduce our overall exposure to pesticides by 97%; that is, all but eliminate it.” – Mark Bittman, A Bone to Pick

“So-called conventional agriculture can shed much of its chemical use – if it wants to…[It] is a matter of paying people for their knowledge and smart work instead of paying chemical companies for poisons.” – Mark Bittman, A Bone to Pick

“If Americans were to meet the dietary recommendations for fruit and vegetables, we’d need to more than double our fruit and vegetable acreage.” – Mark Bittman, A Bone to Pick

“There is a lot of lawn in this country. In fact, it’s our biggest crop, three times as big as corn…Lawns are not exactly the enemy, but they’re certainly not helping matters any.” – Mark Bittman, A Bone to Pick

“Around 1/3 or more of the world’s population is badly (“mal”) nourished [- This] conflates hunger and diet-spawned illnesses like diabetes, both of which are preventable…With a lack of money comes either not enough food or so-called empty calories, calories that put on pounds but do not nourish.” – Mark Bittman, A Bone To Pick

“Livestock production generates nearly 1/5th of the world’s greenhouse gases – more than transportation…if Americans were to reduce meat consumption by just 20% it would be as if we all switched from a standard sedan – a Camry, say – to the ultra-efficient Prius.” – Mark Bittman, A Bone To Pick

“About 2-5 times Professor Gidon Eshel quote from A Bone To Pickmore grain is required to produce the same amount of calories through livestock as through direct grain consumption…[and] it is as much as 10x more in the case of grain-fed beef in the US.” – Mark Bittman, A Bone To Pick

“”When you look at environmental problems in the U.S.,” says Professor Eshel [of Bard College], “nearly all of them have their source in food production and in particular meat production…The good of people’s bodies and the good of the planet are more or less perfectly aligned.” – Mark Bittman, A Bone To Pick

Which reminds me, BTW, of a great article and graphic from Treehugger: Do You Eat for Health or Environmental Sustainability? The Double Pyramid Says You Can Do Both.

Treehugger Double Food Pyramid - Eating for Health AND Sustainability

A bit of good news among all this – in a 2012 piece, Bittman notes “a 12% reduction [in meat consumption] in just 5 years” – ie from 2007-2012 Americans bought 12% less meat. Back in 2012, we were working with 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines. Those who follow these kinds of things are looking forward to the 2015 guidelines which will be released later this year. It is hoped and expected that this year’s USDA recommendations will suggest an even smaller daily meat intake in an aim to reflect not only what is “best” for humans, but also take into account the environmental impacts of meat consumption. (Read more: The Washington Post, “The Meat Industry’s Worst Nightmare Could Soon Become a Reality.”)

“The CAFO system has major impacts on environmental and human health, rural communities, and animal welfare. And basically, taxpayers pay for it all: we subsidize the production of cheap grain used as feed, and are ultimately stuck bearing the environmental, public health, and socioeconomic costs of industrial livestock production.” – Kai Olson-Sawyer (Grace Communications Foundation), via Mark Bittman, A Bone To Pick

“The ubiquity, convenience and habit-forming appeal of hyperprocessed foods have largely drowned out the alternatives: there are 5 fast-food restaurants for every supermarket in the US;…[the] price of fresh produce has increased by 40% while the price of soda and processed food has decreased by as much as 30%; and nearly inconceivable resources go into encouraging consumption in restaurants.” – Mark Bittman, A Bone To Pick

I’m finding myself tempted to quote about 80% of this chapter/article, so instead I’ll refer you to the NYT’s full version of it: Is Junk Food Really Cheaper? Since I don’t eat at fast-food restaurants, I can’t eat there less. But I can further cement my choice to boycott, and our choice to cut the cable and be a commercial-free household. I once went to the doctor and she was asked about my eating choices. I told her that if fast-food is the only choice (which it rarely is), I’d just skip that meal instead. I thought she’d get on my case about not eating – not eating is not healthy, right? Nope, she was nodding in full support – not eating at all is better than eating non-food hyperprocessed garbage. I (obviously) felt that way, but to have a physician agree really made an impression.

 “Your right to harm yourself stops when I have to pay for it…Just as we all pay for the ravages of smoking, we all pay for the harmful effects of Coke, Snapple, and Gatorade…Sugar-sweetened beverages are nothing more than sugar delivery systems, and sugar is probably the most dangerous part of our current diet.” – Mark Bittman, A Bone To Pick

Alright, this is another one I’d just quote the heck out of so I’ll refer you instead to It’s the Sugar, Folks. Again, I don’t drink soda, but now I REALLY don’t. Remember when kids of the 80s would hide or destroy their parents cigarettes after hearing how bad they were at school? If the implications of the studies and findings about soda et al ever can overcome American politics and farm-policy to become a part of the warnings issued in public schools we’ll hopefully have kids pouring their parents’ Cokes down the drain and pushing us toward the future. But that’s awfully hopeful. :(

I think the chapter that really bugged my eyes out of my head and exposed me to a thought I’d never before run across or considered was Is Alzheimer’s Type 3 Diabetes? If Alzheimer’s is one of your worries or “runs in your family” this is a MUST READ.

“In case you need another reason to cut back on junk food, it…turns out that Alzheimer’s could well be a form of diet-induced diabetes.” – Mark Bittman, A Bone To Pick

“The fact that Alzheimer’s can be associated with low levels of insulin in the brain is the reason why increasing numbers of researchers have taken to calling it Type 3 Diabetes, or diabetes of the brain.” – Mark Bittman, A Bone To Pick

“The American diet is a fast track not only to obesity but to Type 2 diabetes and other preventable, non-communicable diseases, which now account for more deaths than infectious ones.” – Mark Bittman, A Bone To Pick

Or if you prefer this version:

Or, to be really in your face, that quote above could just be shorte"Soda Kills" Mark Bittman, A Bone To Pickned to “soda kills.” Maybe all caps, in case it isn’t alarming enough: “SODA KILLS.”

“As long as sugar is profitable and 100% unrestricted (and subsidized and protected!), marketers will try to get 2-year-olds hooked on soda and Gatorade.” – Mark Bittman, A Bone To Pick

“If we all ate the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables, we’d save more than 100,000 lives and something like $17 billion in health care costs.” – Mark Bittman, A Bone To Pick

Did you know there is a Diner’s Guide to Ethical Eating? And it isn’t about how well treated the animals were, those now being served (tell me you’ve seen that episode of Portlandia, right?). Nope, this one is about ethical treatment of humans – the 10 million humans working in US restaurants. It rates how well restaurants treat their employees, and is another great thing I learned about by reading this book. As Bittman says,

“If you care about sustainability – the capacity to endure – it’s time to expand our definition to include workers. You can’t call food sustainable when it’s produced by people whose capacity to endure is challenged by poverty-level wages.”

“Federal and local governments…are largely responsible for deciding what we eat, because they refuse to restrict the behavior of producers and marketers, who then infallibly choose the most profitable – not the most healthful or even least destructive – paths.” – Mark Bittman, A Bone To Pick

“Our job as citizens is to support the production of energy and food by the most sustainable and least damaging methods scientists can devise. If that’s genetic engineering, fine. But to date it hasn’t been; in fact, the technology has been little more than an income-generator for a few corporations desperate to see those profits continue regardless of the cost to the rest of us, or to the environment.” – Mark Bittman, A Bone To Pick

“Working to make food fair and affordable is an opportunity for this country to live up to its founding principles.” – Mark Bittman, A Bone To Pick

“Nothing reflects our moral core more accurately than the abuses we overlook in the names of convenience and economy.” – Mark Bittman, A Bone To Pick

If you’d like to hear more or get briefed here’s a 20 minute Bittman TED Talk that covers most of the bases. Unfortunately it’s from 2008, but also unfortunately it doesn’t sound like much has changed.

This all seems like a lot to care about, but really what could be more important? I agree it’s overwhelming, but we can and should each pick a part to focus on (buying less/better meat, reducing sugar-dependency, cooking at home, etc) for starters and become more aware of the issues surrounding our daily food choices.

Cows Image: Photo Credit: carper123 via Compfightcc

Soda Image: Photo Credit: Bluwatergirl via Compfightcc


This book was provided tBlogging_for_Books_Lockup_2o me free to review by Blogging for Books, a service of The Crown Publishing Group. Opinions are entirely my own.

12 Ways to Celebrate Colorado Sweet Corn on

August 26, 2015
by Emily Klopstein
1 Comment

12 Ways to Celebrate Colorado Sweet Corn

Having grown up in the Midwest, I know two things very, very well: Winter, and Sweet Corn.

I had no idea or expectation when we moved to CO 8 years ago that it too was a land full of sweetness – What a wfm smalldelicious surprise! Colorado’s own Olathe Sweet Corn has been rolling into farmers markets and our local Whole Foods for a few weeks now, and hopefully will for a few weeks more! This Labor Day, be sure to enjoy a bunch (or a bushel!) before the season is oveeat more cornr.

Here at Laughing Lemon Pie, our love of corn is well documented. Lacy has encouraged us to Eat More (Real) Corn, making it Sustainable Eating Tip No. 7. In fact, Lacy recently learned the easiest way to cook corn: microwave whole corn cobs (husks and all). Cut off the stem end, grab and gently pull the husk at the silk end, give it a bit of a twist, and…all the silk will magically come off with the husk! The only work left for you is to decide how to enjoy it.

Although straight-up and un-doctored corn on the cob is one of life’s great pleasures, we’ve got a few other ideas for you and favorites to share.

Grilled Corn – Grilling is always a great way to amp up flavor, and BA’s Ultimate Guide is a great starting point.

Cornbread – While traditional cornbread is of course derived from ground dried corn, many recipes add fresh corn kernels to double the fun. Whether the recipe calls for it or not, you can add fresh corn kernels to any cornbread recipe to make it more corn-y. I have a personal collection of 33 recipes for cornbread of all stripes, but in the double corn category I recommend Corn-on-Corn Bread or Cornbread with Bacon Crust (substitute fresh kernels for the frozen ones called for in this recipe).

12 Ways to Celebrate Colorado Sweet Corn on LaughingLemonPie.comCorn SalsaMark Bittman has a great corn salsa recipe that features poblano chiles and lime juice. Corn salsa is pretty easy to whip up and riff on to your own taste and could be as simple as mixing freshly cut kernels into store-bought red or green salsa. Choose whether you like your corn raw or slightly cooked. Fire-roasted green chiles are coming to market now too you know, and mixing chopped hatch chiles with fresh corn would make any chip happy. To go above-and-beyond salsa, try Charred and Raw Corn with Chile and Cheese  – it lives somewhere between salsa and salad (but let’s not split hairs).

Corn Salad – There are a bevy of side salads that feature summer’s best vegetable. Lacy’s Fiesta Quinoa Salad is easy to summer-ize with fresh tiny cherry tomatoes and raw or barely cooked sweet corn. A similar salad is the warm Corn and Summer Vegetable Saute, which could probably benefit from the addition of quinoa (couldn’t just about everything?). Mark Bittman’s Pan-Roasted Corn and Tomato Salad is another great way to get the best of summer in one bite.

Maque Choux – Throw that term out the next time you want to find a Lou-see-ann-ophile in a crowd! “Mock Shoe” is a braised corn dish, a side dish or the base for a lovely piece of cajun-spiced fish, shrimp, or grilled chicken. The bacon version is more traditional, but the vegetarian recipe can’t be half bad either – I mean we are talking about fresh, sweet, divine corn here, right?Whole Foods Market Bradburn

Corn Tacos – Poblano chiles and corn are best buds, agreed? So imagine charred poblanos, grilled corn, and creamy cojita cheese all wrapped up and toasty warm – ack! Yep, that one’s a winner every time – Poblano Rajas with Roasted Corn from Denver’s own Pinche Taqueria.

Corn Fritters –  Where I’m from, a fritter must be both spherical and deep-fried – but it seems that national media has taken to confusing fritters with pancakes. Sigh – whaddayagonnado? Bon Appetit’s Corn-Jalapeño Fritters are like pancakes made from corn salsa, and Martha’s Corn Fritters include cornmeal, fresh corn, and nice instructions on how to get the corn off the cob.

Chili – Corn and chili go hand in hand as the sweetness of the corn can balance out a great This Week in Eats on LaughingLemonPie.comdeal of spice, meat, and chiles. Chili recipes are another category I collect heavily in, and last week I made this Spicy Corn and Chicken Chili to take camping. It was the perfect thing, and now I’ve got two more re-purposed yogurt containers full of this dinner gold in the deep freeze for later.

Canned Corn Relish – After seeing so much corn at the farmers market and watching Chef Sean Brock throw together a great meal out of things canned and fresh from the garden, I canned corn for the first time this summer. I started with the Canned Corn Relish recipe out of the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving, but omitted the cabbage (ewww?), added a ton more peppers than called for, and kept to the low end of their sugar recommendation. The idea with canning is that you’ll be able to enjoy the fresh summery taste of corn all winter long but I don’t think we’re going to make it that far seeing as how we’ve already gone through 4 jars.Corn Butter from Food52 Genius Recipes on

Corn Butter – Never heard of such a thing? Yeah, me neither until I read Food52 Genius Recipes: 100 Recipes That Will Change the Way You Cook (Food52 Works). Corn butter is rather unbelievable stuff – There’s a good reason this cookbook’s title includes the word “genius.” After removing the kernels from the cob, you blend then strain the corn – ending up with corn juice. Corn juice on it’s own is pretty much WOW, but heating the corn juice changes it entirely! I was really surprised by the transformation. Kind of like when you start a pot of polenta – turn your back for one minute and it’s suddenly thick! Slather this sunny spread on toast – it’s as sweet as jam, and such a unique way to enjoy corn.

Shrimp and Corn – For me, this is another great pairing. Any combination of beans, shrimp, tomatoes, corn, and chiles or spice equals yum in my book. Two favorites around here are Cajun Shrimp and Corn or Black Bean, Corn, and Shrimp Salad.

Share with us your family’s favorite way to enjoy this corn season! And if you have a cornbread recipe to recommend I’m always looking for contenders – leave a note, link, or recipe in the comments below! Need more ways to get corn in you? Our man Bittman has 12 simple uses for corn off the cob.


Laughing Lemon Pie at Whole Foods Bradburn 8.18.15

August 20, 2015
by Emily Klopstein

4 Back to School No-Cook Recipes & Ideas

Laughing Lemon Pie at Whole Foods Bradburn 8.18.15We shared these four simple, delicious, and healthy back-to-school ideas during our in-store demonstration at Whole Foods Market Bradburn/Westminster on Aug 18, 2015.

Laughing Lemon Pie at Whole Foods Bradburn 8.18.15Laughing Lemon Pie at Whole Foods Bradburn 8.18.15





  • Pesto with Caprese Dippers (ie mozzarella cubes and cherry tomatoes on a stick)
  • Fiesta Quinoa Salad I said no-cook, right? We cooked the quinoa for the Fiesta Quinoa Salad in Lacy’s rice cooker. So very convenient!

August 18, 2015
by Emily Klopstein

Make Your Own Hummus (and Make It Your Own)

Hummus Demo at Whole Foods Bradburn Aug 18, 2015

Make Your Own Hummus (and Make It Your Own)


  • 1 15oz can Chickpeas/Garbanzo Beans, drained and rinsed
  • Juice of 1/2-1 whole Lemon
  • 2-4 Tablespoons Tahini
  • 0-2 cloves of Garlic
  • Salt and Pepper to taste


  1. Pile all the ingredients into a food processor.
  2. Process until very smooth.
  3. Taste and assess - add more lemon juice? Add more salt/pepper? Add more tahini? Make it taste like you like! Consistency too can be adjusted - you may need to add some water, tahini, or lemon juice to make your hummus as thick, thin, or fluffy as you like it.
  4. Think about other add-ins for next time - one or 5 leaves a spinach could be added and go unnoticed, or try a whole handful! Try adding different herbs, vegetables, and even switching out the Garbanzos for a different kind of bean - online you'll find 1001 different iterations of hummus that feature beets, edamame, cauliflower, roasted red peppers, spinach, avocado, fava beans, butternut squash, black beans , white beans, lentils, carrots, and even sweet potatoes.

Camping Eats on

August 16, 2015
by Emily Klopstein
1 Comment

If You Take a Foodie Camping, She’ll…Pack Meat

Camping Eats on

Chili on the boil.

It’s summer! Most people have known this to be a fact for a while now, but summer was late in coming to CO this year. I’m glad for all the rain we got, but glad too now to get out and into the woods enjoying our family’s summer sport: CAMPING!

What does a foodie pack on a camping trip? Well, rather inadvertently, lots of meat…at home we don’t eat that much of it, but somehow the great outdoors taps my subliminal carnivore.

Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even snacks were meat-centric. Needless to say, we ate vegetarian-ly during the week after in an attempt to balance it all out!

Camping Eats on


I really like to plan ahead with what I pack for camping – as fun as cooking outdoors can be, I like to keep the actual cooking to a minimum. In other words, I generally bring already-made, usually frozen meals and then simply reheat on the camp stove. No cooking (burning) over a campfire for me, thanks!

As a bonus, bringing dinners that are already frozen helps keep the cooler cool. We are decidedly dedicated car-campers with plenty of gear and a cooler so heavy we don’t even take it out of the car. I pack my cast iron skillet too – for me, nothing says “camping” like cooking with a fork!

Camping Eats on LaughingLemonPie.comBreakfast

Now there’s meat, and then there’s meat. A weekend full of meats from Whole Foods?  That’s my kind of carnivorousness. In the week before the outing, I stopped by the meat counter at our local WFM and chose from 4 different breakfast sausages and 12(!!!) kinds of bacon. We ended up with Double Maple Smoked Bacon (did you know the Whole Foods at Bradburn/Westminster has its own in-house smoker?!), and the Country Sage Pork Breakfast Sausage links. But I’ve got to say, if you haven’t had their Blueberry Maple Breakfast Sausage…that’s the one to try first and ASAP.

I brought cornmeal biscuits to go along with our chili, and they did double duty as breakfast items. We all adored the biscuits toasted in a cast iron skillet of bacon fat and smothered with honey. That might be my all-time favorite breakfast, camping or not.


Grilled sausages for grown-ups, and hot dogs for the little one on day one. Then summer sausage, salami, and cheese (again from Whole Foods Bradburn, their cheese counter is the stuff of dreams) plus crackers and dried fruit for a no-cook hiking lunch on day two.

Snack time

Why not some more meat?! We got to sample four of the 20+ flavors and kinds of jerky made by our Denver-local Mountain America Jerky. Mountain America Jerky is all natural, with no preservatives, fillers, or nitrates and made in Colorado. Woot Woot! The beef and turkeCamping Eats on LaughingLemonPie.comy meat is sourced in Colorado, the Elk meat comes from Wyoming, North Dakota, or Minnesota.​

One note – since this jerky has no preservatives, it must be refrigerated after opening. ​If kept chilled, open bags will last a few weeks. Ours however, did not last more than a few days, fridge or not. A certain little carnivorous camper was all over the jerky and was pretty sure it was all for her. “More Jerky!” was the call of the weekend. I got her to adjust it to “More jerky please, mama,” but the tone stayed the same.

We sampled beef, turkey, sweet & spicy beef, and elk jerky. All were fantastic, though lil’ carnivore and I liked the turkey jerky best.


For this trip, I packed the cooler with 2 re-purposed yogurt containers of frozen Braised Pot Roast with Caramelized Vegetables and 10-Alarm Turkey Chili, both from Easy Everyday Slow Cooker Recipes by Donna-Marie Pye. Chili is always a winner at camping dinner – we pack hot sauce too so grown-ups can crank the heat and serve with Cornmeal Biscuits that I make at home in the morning before we leave.


No meat here, silly! Camping dessert = s’mores of course! We tried a novel way – one of those camping hacks you’ve seen – where you stuff an ice cream cone (sugar cone) with marshmallows and chocolate, wrap in foil, and let it sit in the coals of the fire until melty and delicious! It is certainly delicious, but not as much s’more stuff fits in a standard sugar cone as you might imagine or want (though it’s probably as much as anyone really needs!). To do it “right” (ie big!) I’d recommend big waffle cones like they use at a premium ice cream joint – but I’ve never seen those for sale at a regular grocery store, have you? Maybe your local ice cream shop would sell them to you minus the ice cream.

What foods do you and your family enjoy while camping? We’ve got one more trip this summer, I’d love to try your ideas!


August 14, 2015
by Lacy

Best Organic Prices Denver Metro — Week of Aug. 14

So, we’re trying something new! People on Facebook indicated they are interested in seeing the best organic grocery deals in our area, so we’re going to try this out!

A few things to remember:

  • These are based on the sales prices for our local stores in the NW Denver metro area. A lot of these deals will be national, but not all! So check your local store flyers.
  • I’m only going to be listing the very best deals on organic foods, and sometimes local produce. So, I’m not listing out everything that’s on sale, just the best sales of the week.
  • I DON’T necessarily recommend shopping at ALL of these stores each week! (The cost of gas and your time may outweigh the savings.) But this is to help you decide where to shop and what to stock up on. A really great deal might be worth an extra trip.
  • If you want more tips on how to save money on organics, click here to see my 40-page ebook, chock-a-block full of actionable ideas and tips.


Organic red and green grapes are on sale for $1.77/lb this week, which is about as low as they go! Stock up and enjoy!  They freeze for a fun frozen treat.

They also have their house organic coffee blend for $5.99/lb, which is a good price.

King Soopers

Good deals on Rocky Ford Cantaloupe ($0.34/lb) and Olathe Sweet Corn ($0.25 each).  Please note that these are local, but not organic. Both sometimes go a little bit lower, but these are good stock-up prices.


Wild-caught Sockeye Salmon is on sale for $7.99/lb which is a GREAT deal and a good sustainable fish choice.

Whole Foods

Our local Whole Foods has organic raspberries, 2 for $5 (doesn’t say what size, but I assume the small box; if it’s the big box, buy them ALL and make jam! Ha!).

Top Round London Broil and Top Round Steaks (step 4) are on sale for $6.99/lb which is a pretty great price for responsibly raised beef.

They’re also doing 25% off all supplements this weekend only, so a good time to stock up if you need them.

Have you spotted any other great deals this week? Let us know in the comments!