Hidden and Sub-lethal Poisoning

By now, you may have heard the news that the Environmental Working Group (EWG) tested 21 oat-based foods and they all tested positive for the Roundup/glyphosate pesticide. The real tragedy of this is that many of these foods are fed to children whose detoxification systems are not yet fully developed so the health effects are much worse for them than adults.

The EPA responded a day later to the EWG’s findings, but they left out some important parts of the story. I wrote what they aren’t telling the public in brackets. Here is their statement:

EPA has established a tolerance (maximum legal residue level) for residues of glyphosate in oats at 30 parts per million (ppm) or 30,000 parts per billion (ppb). The EWG samples listed in the linked article are all well below the EPA tolerance. Residues of glyphosate on any food or feed item are safe for consumers if they are below the established tolerances. The presence of a detectable pesticide residue does not mean the residue is at an unsafe level.” [Never mind that the EPA has raised the glyphosate tolerance level allowed on oats to now be 300 times higher than it was in 1993.]

“Due to its widespread use, trace amounts of glyphosate residues may be found in various fresh fruits, vegetables, cereals, and other food and beverage commodities. However, these trace amounts are not of concern for the consumer.” [New scientific studies show that even trace amounts of glyphosate can disrupt the endocrine system and gut microbiome, and is strongly linked to fatty liver disease and diabetes, just to name a few.]

“If residues are found above the established tolerance level, the commodity will be subject to seizure by the government.” [But they only test four foods! The USDA and the FDA are the regulatory agencies responsible for monitoring the pesticide residues in our food. The FDA conducts tests for the residues of hundreds of pesticides via its Pesticide Residue Monitoring Program. But prior to 2016, the FDA didn’t test for glyphosate residues (and only then due to enormous public pressure).[1] In the most current report (2016) only corn, soy, milk and eggs were tested. The USDA annually tests hundreds of foods for pesticide residues through their Pesticide Data Program. But as of 2017, they do not test foods for glyphosate residues, a notable omission.[2] That’s why organizations in the private and non-profit sectors are now testing foods for glyphosate residues, to fill in the gap. Here is the link to the FDA’s explanation about why they did not test for glyphosate prior to 2016: https://www.fda.gov/food/pesticides/questions-and-answers-glyphosate]

“EPA has concluded that glyphosate is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans. EPA considered a significantly more extensive and relevant data set than the International Agency on the Research for Cancer (IARC). EPA’s database includes studies submitted to support registration of glyphosate and studies EPA identified in the open literature.” [Most of those additional studies were funded by the chemical companies and were not available to the public. Studies paid for by the agricultural chemical companies are fundamentally biased. The IARC used only publicly available, peer-reviewed studies conducted by independent experts who are free from vested interests.[3]]

“EPA’s cancer classification is consistent with other international expert panels and regulatory authorities, including the Canadian Pest Management Regulatory Agency, Australian Pesticide and Veterinary Medicines Authority, European Food Safety Authority, European Chemicals Agency, German Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, New Zealand Environmental Protection Authority, and the Food Safety Commission of Japan.” [Regulatory agencies are often infiltrated by high level executives who were once employed by the agricultural chemical companies. These executives can then make the rules, such as 1) not monitoring Roundup/glyphosate residues in food and 2) raising the allowable limits. These rules allow the chemical companies to declare that the public is safe from health impacts even in the face of increasing evidence that public’s health is at risk.]

If you doubt the truth of what I am saying here, please read the paper, “Supercide Me”, free and downloadable on our website: https://thejoyofplenty.org/books/supercide-me/. My physician, Steven Rotter, MD and I explain the untold part of the Roundup/glyphosate story and include links to credible primary source documents. And I highly suggest you open and scan the links to the FDA and USDA reports included here, to get a general idea of the huge number of pesticides applied to our food. These will make for good reading in the morning while you eat your oat-based breakfast cereal. Just suggestin’.

The EPA raises the amount of Roundup/glyphosate allowed on our food as the amounts farmer’s use rises. The vertical red lines denote the rise in the allowable amounts since 1993 and the yellow background shows the rise in the amount of glyphosate that farmers use. Chart created by Politico Pro.

[1] Monitoring Program, Fiscal Year 2016 Pesticide Report,” US Food and Drug Administration, page 26, accessed at: https://www.fda.gov/media/117088/download

[2] “Pesticide Data Program, Annual Summary, Calendar Year 2017,” Appendix B, page 53, US Department of Agriculture, accessed at https://www.ams.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/2017PDPAnnualSummary.pdf

[3] https://www.iarc.fr/featured-news/media-centre-iarc-news-glyphosate/

Use The Plenty Method to Reduce Your Plastic Footprint

The amount of plastic the world consumes has increased dramatically since 1980 and 40% of it is used just once. (National Geographic, June 2018) The majority of this plastic comes from food packaging. The next time you are in a grocery store, take a look. Notice all the single use packaging then envision it ending up in the landfill. It’s actually somewhat horrific when you step back and really see the stark truth of this.

The Plenty Method can help you reduce your plastic footprint and food packaging in general. How does it do this? First, food is made from “scratch” ingredients that are bought in bulk whenever possible. You learn that it’s actually quite easy to make something simple and delicious out of scratch ingredients so you purchase less and less packaged food. And when you buy food in bulk, more of your money goes to buy the food, and not the packaging, so you’ll be able to buy higher quality food. Your pantry will be full of nutrient dense, whole foods that are usually organic. I call this “superstar food”. It stands on its own and doesn’t need much “do” to prepare so putting food on the table is quick and simple.

Each of these scratch ingredients has its own airtight container or other permanent location. This makes working with food so much more pleasurable. The airtight containers replace all the food stored in single use, mismatched packages that don’t seal properly, which may invite staleness and attract bugs, moths, mold, mites, and rodents. It’s much nicer to handle a substantial glass jar that opens easily than flimsy single-use packages that usually don’t close properly. You can see the food through glass jars which is visually more pleasing than a collection of opaque food packages. Your food will be clearly visible and labeled. No more “UFO”s – Unidentified Food Objects! You can say goodbye to random food clutter. The kitchen stays clean, organized, and fresh.

Together, we can stop this crazy overuse of plastic. Every little bit helps and small steps can add up to radical change. Transformation starts with awareness. Just say “no” to single use packaging, one buying decision at a time. This will make a world of difference and a different world.

Spices can be bought in bulk and stored in jars retrieved from recycle bins

How The Plenty Method Reduces Food Waste

One of The Joy of Plenty’s goals is to help reduce the amount of food the world wastes. Every day America wastes enough food to fill the Rose Bowl. Yes, that Rose Bowl—the ninety-thousand-seat football stadium in Pasadena, California.[1]You read that right; that’s every day, not every year. The Natural Resources Defense Council claims Americans lose up to 40 percent of our food from farm to fork to landfill.[2] Reducing the amount of food waste (or, waste as food) will dramatically help create planetary health since agriculture leaves a huge footprint on our planet.

While The Plenty Method can’t do anything about the food that rots in a farmer’s field or deteriorates in a warehouse, it can help you trim your household food waste. How does The Plenty Method do this? By helping you learn how to:

Purchase

  • Make a focused Master Ingredients List that encourages you to purchase fewer but more versatile kinds of food. Less variety leads to less waste. Creatively transform the ingredients you already have on hand instead of buying a new single-use item that could end up as half-eaten food waste.
  • Buy food close to the source so it is fresh and lasts longer.
  • Buy longer-lasting foods instead of those that rapidly spoil.

Store

  • Learn how to store food properly to prevent premature spoilage.
  • Store and preserve food properly, then retrieve it from storage as needed. This is a flip-flop from buying food, thinking that you will use it, but then your plans change. You forget the food; it spoils and gets tossed.
  • Store staple ingredients in clear, airtight glass containers so they are visible; no out-of-sight, out-of-mind food left to rot.
  • Learn to extend the life of food by removing oxygen by using a vacuum-packing machine and other methods.

Sense

  • View manufacturer’s expiration dates as suggestions only; tune into your senses to determine if a food is safe to eat.
  • Understand the shelf life of foods to know when to watch for subtle changes in flavor, texture, and smell that tell you to use it soon.

Connect

  • Experience more connection with your food by learning to appreciate and respect it. This awareness encourages you to tune into your food to prevent spoilage.
  • Share or exchange food with others before it spoils.

Use

  • Use or preserve avoidable waste, such as peelings, meat bones, and overripe fruits. For example, freeze cream in ice cube trays. Use old bread for breadcrumbs, croutons, French toast, or bread pudding. Transform carrot tops into carrot-pesto. Use Parmesan cheese rinds to flavor soups, and so on.
  • Redefine what fresh means, and resurrect foods that are thought of as “bad.” For example, a cauliflower with brown spots is usually perfectly edible when you trim them off. A mealy apple is delicious when you bake it. Try putting a soggy banana in a smoothie or banana fritter.

Please consider learning The Plenty Method to reduce your household food waste. Every little bit helps! Or, as I like to say “Big is just a whole bunch of little”. One small step, one small footprint can add up to huge progress down the road. One person can make a difference and that person is you!

Half-eaten and expired condiments create alot of wasted food

[1] Jonathan Bloom, American Wasteland: How America Throws Away Nearly Half  of its Food (and What You Can Do About It) (Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, 2010), xi

[2] Dana Gunders, Natural Resources Defense Council Issue Paper, August 2012, https://www.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/wasted-food-IP.pdf

God Save the Queen Bees

I am so thankful for the bees ‒ the fragile agents ‒ who work tirelessly on our behalf. Much of our food chain depends on pollinators, yet many people are unaware of the essential role they play in creating our food supply. Part of The Joy of Plenty’s mission is to educate people about the role pollinators play in food production and to sound the alarm about the enormous pressure all pollinators are under from overuse of agricultural pesticides.

Last week, the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) released a report on the current state of the biosphere (please see previous post). The report estimates that up to US$577 billion of the crops the world produces are at risk without bees to pollinate them. Bees are the linchpin of our food system and overuse of agricultural pesticides are one of the reasons they are weakening.

In a perfect world, if everyone ate organic food, the need for toxic agricultural chemicals would diminish and this would greatly help the bees. The Plenty Method gives people the tools they need to increase their purchases of organic food, so they can eat well and support the pollinators, too. Over time, this will help foster a robust food chain and vibrant ecosystems, and we can do this now. In a landmark decision in May of 2018, the European Commission banned three neonicotinoid insecticides linked to bee death. This is an encouraging sign that vast numbers of people are becoming aware of the need to protect our pollinators and it’s a huge win for the bees. We can join the crescendo of voices that created that legislation and add to the momentum. Our collective buying power can create massive transformation, one buying decision at a time.

Please consider using The Plenty Method to spend your food dollars wisely and well and to help protect our food supply for future generations. As I conclude writing this, the Beatles song “With a Little Help From My Friends” repeats in my inner ears. But I’ve added a word! “I get by with a little help from my little friends.” Dear bees, what true friends you are. You are our unsung heroes! Let’s join together to give them all the help they need.

From Bad to Worse, Yet Light

I heard shocking and urgent news recently, back to back. Five days later I am still trying to figure out how to respond to this unfolding story. Even though much of the news makes me feel as if I just got sucked into a dangerous abyss, there are still robust moves we can all make. All is not lost, if we work together to help one another.

The first news was the summary of a soon to be released 1,500 page report authored by the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystems Services (IPBES). It’s official! We are now facing our planet’s sixth wave of extinction with over one million species of plants, animals and insects potentially on the block, and soon. Sounds like a holocaust to me.

The next news arrived in the May/June issue of the MIT Technology Review. The cover says “Welcome to Climate Change”. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with this publication, MIT is one of the world’s premiere scientific think tanks. Whatever topic they discuss is validated by credible research and fact-based evidence so the publication is reliable and trustworthy. They discuss science and technology in the context of its sociological, cultural, economic and political context. Much of the discussion of climate change currently centers on how we can avoid it. We remain hopeful and comforted about technology’s romantic and futuristic ideas about how to avoid climate change but it’s no longer possible. We entertain ideas about mitigation measures such as engineering the atmosphere and carbon capture. But the magazine says it’s time to “get real” because the momentum of climate change is too swift, even if we were to slam the brakes on it now. Truth is, global temperatures and emissions are rising, not falling. A big chunk of the Arctic’s oldest and most stable sea ice recently broke off. We’ve made no dent in the use of fossil fuels. And on and on the list goes. So, time to shift the dialogue to understanding how this new, catastrophically altered world will look and how we will adapt.

Why do they suggest shifting the focus more towards adaptation? Because efforts to transform this situation will not likely be successful fast enough. The first world countries are too busy and distracted to notice or care and they hyper-consume. The populations in third world countries are exploding so that will be a huge drain on planetary resources. Repeated attempts have been made internationally to create a cohesive, long-term global vision and plan of action. Yet commitment among most countries is notably absent. I add to this, that many powerful multi-national corporations have deeply vested interests in maintaining the status quo. Unfortunately, the tragedy is that by the time climate change is obvious to everyone, it will be far too late.

What to do, or not do, then? How do we still enjoy the life that is before us and keep our optimism alive? While the United Nation’s report was dreary and startling, they say “Nature can be conserved, restored and used sustainably while simultaneously meeting other global societal goals through urgent and concerted efforts fostering transformative societal goals – including those for food, water, energy.” Those of us who see what is coming can show up, stand up and hold together with heart, courage and commitment.  Those who are uncertain can gradually join in. Amid all this uncertainty, one thing is for certain: this situation will be far easier if we take a joint approach rather than a divisive one. This holds true whether we avert the crisis or adapt to it. Think of it this way: we have an opportunity to witness breathtaking transformation here, regardless of the outcome.

As I write this, I look out my window and see drooping tulips whose early spring time vigor has waned yet their beautiful deep red is still extraordinary. A blue jay rests on a nearby fence, iridescent in the evening light. These, along with the yellow pepper on my plate create a palate of primary color that is indescribable to behold. In this moment, embraced by the beauty of Mother Nature, I am nourished and at peace. No matter how ominous the long term picture may look, it’s always easy to find something to appreciate. We don’t need to sit in the bottom of an utterly dark abyss.  If we do that, we can’t see, appreciate or protect the cornucopia of gifts our beautiful planet constantly gives us. Why not visualize the sudden enlightenment of the world instead?

If you’d like to know how The Joy of Plenty can help you make a contribution to the creation of planetary health and relieve your anxiety about its current state, stay tuned for the next series of blog posts. Look below for a link to the summary of the United Nation’s IPBES report.

Portrait by the late Arne Westerman

https://www.ipbes.net/news/ipbes-global-assessment-summary-policymakers-pdf

How to use an Un-recipe Recipe, Part Two

Here’s another example of an un-recipe. In case you haven’t read any of the prior posts, an un-recipe gives you enormous freedom in the kitchen. You can break free from having to use exact ingredients and exact measurements, too (baking is an exception, there is some leeway but not much). You learn to switch out and switch up ingredients in recipes and use what you have on hand. This makes the whole topic of food easier and more pleasurable. Over time, you learn which flavors go together and you will discover unique combinations you didn’t even know existed. If you want information about which flavors compliment each other, check out “The Flavor Bible” by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page.

The following un-recipe is for my favorite quick bread. I love eating this in the morning, toasted with a lot of butter. Eating something this delicious —and nourishing —makes me happy to be alive. The quality of one’s life can be measured in the number of simple little pleasures that occur throughout the day. You don’t even need a mixer to make this – just a mixing bowl, spoon, and some elbow grease.

The Very Best Quick Bread or Muffins

2 cups unsifted flour (I’ve tried this with gluten-free flour, it works as long as you add some xanthan gum)
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt
Sweetener: 1 cup date, coconut or cane sugar. I like to use date sugar. If you use coconut sugar, keep an eye on it because it will brown fast. Cover with foil about 15 minutes into the baking. This recipe may work with honey or agave syrup, but I have not tried it. You might need to add a bit more flour.
Spices: ½ tsp each cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger or 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie or chai spices or other combination of warm spices.
2 eggs
½ cup vegetable oil (I like to use rice bran oil) OR substitute ¾ cup mayonnaise and ¼ cup water for the oil and eggs
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla or other flavoring (I like maple, almond and hazelnut)
1 cup pumpkin or winter squash, or mashed ripe bananas, applesauce, zucchini, or other pureed fruit.
Chopped nuts and/or dates, candied ginger, chocolate chips, etc.

Combine the dry ingredients. Combine the moist ingredients then thoroughly mix the dry with the moist. Pour into greased loaf or muffin pans. You can vary the size of the loaf or muffin pans– just make sure they are filled about half way. Bake in a 350⁰ oven for 35-40 minutes or until the mixture starts to pull away from the edges of the pan and cracks appear on the surface. Cool in pan. This bread freezes well, too.

Heirloom pumpkins make fantastic pumpkin bread!

I like to make this via the “assembly line” method. You can make multiple batches of the dry ingredients and store each batch in one quart mason jars. Then all you have to do is round up the moist ingredients and whip a loaf together in just a matter of minutes. So there you go – another un-recipe recipe.

How to Use an Un-recipe recipe, Part One

When you do The Plenty Method, you discover new freedom in the kitchen via “un-recipe recipes”. You’ll have a pantry packed full of scratch ingredients, called Master Ingredients, and a nice assortment of “flavor bursts” – concentrated flavorings that up-level your cooking from good to great. The variety of foods you keep on hand is dialed back – less is more in the case of your pantry – and immense creativity and ease arises out of this simplicity.

Most recipes call for exact ingredients and measurements. This can be quite restrictive and following recipes exactly is time consuming, too. They can also lead to excessive food clutter. Recipes often call for ingredients that you may never use again, so they tend to end up as food clutter then food waste. Using un-recipes avoids this. When you read recipes that call for ingredients you don’t have on hand, you learn to make substitutions with what you do have. If you are using “The Plenty Method”, your well thought out pantry gives you many options.  A simplified yet plentiful pantry takes much of the complication out of putting food on the table.

Here is an example of an “un-recipe recipe” – my favorite salad dressing. Why is this an un-recipe? Because you can mix and match the ingredients and create many versions. Over the years many friends have asked me for this recipe and I am happy to share it with you now.

The Very Best Salad Dressing


½ cup vinegar (l like aged-sherry, champagne, white and red balsamic)
1 tablespoon sugar (I use raw cane and demerara)
I tablespoon mustard (favorites are stone ground, Dijon and spicy brown)
Pinch of salt (any kind but iodized. It tastes terrible!)
1 shallot (if you don’t have one, use about ¼ cup diced any kind of onion)
1 clove garlic
1 ½ cups oil (my favorites are olive, walnut, rice bran)

Puree the first six ingredients in a blender. Then slowly add the oil and blend some more. Store in a glass bottle. Keeps for up to two months, refrigerated.

Lately my favorite version of this is made with sherry vinegar and half olive/half walnut oil and stone ground mustard. In the past I’ve used blood orange champagne vinegar. White wine vinegars are better with neutral oils, like rice bran (please see previous post) and dark vinegars are better with olive oil.

Make your own salad dressing with the best vinegar you can afford and increase your sensory pleasure and enjoyment of life!

So look at what you have on hand and whip up a batch. Once you taste this, pre-made dressings you buy at the grocery store will utterly pale in comparison. I use the money I save by NOT buying pre-made salad dressing to buy high-quality vinegar and oils. It takes just a few minutes to whip this up and the extraordinary sensory pleasure you’ll get makes the time spent so worthwhile. So there you have it – a real “un-recipe recipe”.

How to Multiply Your Food Dollars 6.5x

One of my favorite retail versus wholesale price comparisons is rice bran oil. You have probably never seen this, as it’s not commonly available at grocery stores. But most restaurant supply wholesalers do sell it because its high smoke point makes it ideal for frying. It’s quite versatile, being especially excellent for salad dressings and baking. Olive oil, coconut or nut oils are healthier choices, but sometimes a neutral vegetable oil is just what you need. I have yet to see this available in an organic version, however.

A one gallon jug sells for $10.47 or 8.5 cents per ounce at the restaurant supply store where anyone can shop. At the grocery store I saw this bottle selling for $6.99 for 12.7 ounces, or .55 per ounce. That means I can multiply my food dollars 6.5 times by buying it from a wholesale source.

The retail versus wholesale price of rice bran oil

I can hear you wondering how you’d store that much oil and then worrying it will go to waste. Here is the solution: divide it into quarts and pour it into sterilized glass bottles (you can do this by running them through the dishwasher or filling them with boiling water then letting them dry). I use recycled juice bottles and those with swing-top-bale tops. Glass is better than plastic for long-term storage of foods. The chemicals in plastic leaches into food, particularly oily foods. You can use recycled bottles as long as the lids are in good condition (I have been known to retrieve glass containers out of my neighbor’s recycling bins).

A one-gallon jug of rice bran oil decanted into recycled glass bottles

Once you’ve divided the oil into manageable portions, then what do you do?  When stored in the refrigerator, oils will stay fresh for about a year. If you estimate you’d use a gallon in a year and you have extra fridge space, you can keep it all for yourself. If you won’t use that much or don’t have extra fridge space, you can trade or exchange the extra with a friend (I intentionally don’t use the words “buy or sell” as it may be illegal in some states to open containers and sell portions of them). Here’s what I usually do:  I keep one quart in my kitchen cupboard, mindful to use it in a couple of months before it goes rancid. Two go in the backup fridge. Then I trade a bottle with my friend who grows fresh catnip. I store the oil I keep for myself in bottles with swing-top-bale caps, and the oil exchanged goes in a recycled bottle. I label and date them.

Over the years I’ve developed a few “un-recipe recipes” that use this oil. Rice bran oil is extraordinary in baking as it makes the crumb of baked goods remarkably moist. I gave my friend Michelle my salad dressing recipe for her fiftieth birthday after she begged me for it for years. Stay tuned for the next two episodes!

Curry in a Hurry, Part Two

As mentioned in my previous post, The Plenty Method helps you whip up sumptuous meals on a moment’s notice. I call these “quick plates”. The idea is to stock a pantry with a plentiful yet simple collection of scratch ingredients called “Master Ingredients.” Then, develop a repertoire of “un-recipe recipes” that reduce the time it takes to get food on the table. This way, you’ll always have great food on hand and you’ll know what to do with it. Which makes the question “what to eat” much easier to answer and the statement “there’s nothing to eat” non-existent.

Over the years I’ve developed some short cuts to expedite time spent in the kitchen. The curry described in the previous post is more flavorful with a little garlic and ginger added. But peeling and chopping those takes precious time, time you may not want to spend. Plus, you may not always have those ingredients on hand. What to do about this dilemma? Freeze it! Here’s how:

Start by buying a couple of pounds each of garlic and/or ginger. Then, peel and coarsely chop it and drop it in a blender or a food-processor. Blend until it becomes a smooth paste then add a little  vegetable oil so that it binds together and becomes spreadable. Using a spatula,  put the mixture into ice cube trays and freeze for a day or two. Then, thaw until the cubes are loose enough to be scooped out with a small knife (I find a butter knife with a rounded edge works best). Place them on a cookie sheet and re-freeze. Then place in a plastic container with an airtight lid. I cut the cubes in half and put waxed or parchment paper in between the layers. You don’t have to thaw these out before using. Just chop them up a bit and use them as if they were fresh.

You can do this with lemon juice, whipping cream or fresh herbs. Having these “flavor cubes” on hand gives you the ability to up-level your cooking from good to great with minimal effort. Easy “un-recipes” make cooking a lot more pleasurable, too!

Curry in a Hurry, Part One

Now that you can buy coconut milk for a third or half of retail cost, (please see previous post), you might consider keeping an extra supply in your pantry. A plentifully stocked larder encourages you to get in the kitchen and experiment a little. So, what can you do with all that coconut milk?

Whip up a curry using The Plenty Method! While recipes are useful for ideas and inspiration, their requirements for exact measurements and ingredients can often be quite restrictive and time consuming. The “Y” in Plenty means “Yum: the un-recipe recipe.” Break loose of cooking rules, formulas, shoulds and musts and experience new freedom in the kitchen!

So here is how to make a simple curry sauce using an “un-recipe recipe”. You can mix this sauce with lentils, roasted or sautéed vegetables, pineapple, noodles, rice, tofu, tempeh, beans, shrimp. Or, cooked chicken, beef, pork or lamb (which I purchase from a local farmer). The combinations are endless. And it is surprisingly easy to make this sauce.

To start, find a large skillet, sauce pan or Dutch oven. Dice an onion and sauté it in butter, vegetable, or coconut oil that has started to bubble. Sauté the onion for a few minutes until it’s translucent. Then add about a tablespoon of curry powder or paste and some seasoning salt (my favorite are those made by Maggi). To that, add a can of undiluted, unsweetened coconut milk and stir until it bubbles.

If you have some tamarind paste or concentrate, add slightly less than a tablespoon. In The Plenty Method, tamarind is what we call a “flavor burst”. It’s a concentrated flavoring that kicks the flavor up a notch and makes humble ingredients more interesting. If you don’t happen to have any tamarind on hand, don’t worry. But next time you are at an international food market or Asian grocery store, consider picking some up. It adds a lovely tart and tangy complexity to many dishes. Another flavor burst you might like to add is a splash of aged sherry vinegar. Just a touch adds yet another layer of lovely flavor. Add a touch of hot sauce if you like your food spicy (my go-to is Sriracha). Some people like the flavor of fish sauce. If you do, add that if you have some.

If the sauce seems too thick, add some water. If it’s too thin continue to cook it down or stir in some corn or tapioca starch diluted in a small amount of water. Then voila! There’s your curry sauce, ready to use as suggested above. Along the way, listen to your senses; they will tell you what to do. If it tastes a bit flat, add more curry powder, tamarind or salt. And if you are in a hurry, you can forgo the onion and start with the coconut milk. My favorite way to eat this sauce is over roasted cauliflower served on a bed of brown rice and topped with roasted cashews. Nourishing and delicious fast food!

One of my goals is to help people learn how to whip up something easy and delicious in the time it would take to get take-out or go to a drive through. Having a plentiful supply of food on hand and a few “un-recipe recipes” makes it much easier to cook on the fly. Try it, you’ll like it!

Tamarind makes an excellent flavor burst. I love Maggi seasoning salts.

PS If you’d like to learn a little more about how to use coconut milk, check out this post by Mark Bittman. Written in 1999, it’s still relevant . . . except for the price! https://www.nytimes.com/1999/08/25/dining/the-minimalist-exotic-but-accessible-coconut-milk-earns-its-shelf-space.html?mtrref=www.google.com&gwh=ADF4A52816F9F2E2F31BB2B9140793ED&gwt=pay