Earth Hour Recipes

The 6-heads gang are celebrating Earth Hour as a low-carbon, low light dinner party on 28 March 2015. We plan to be at one of London’s Fair Trade cafe’s – Fairly Square – which is one of my favourite London venues – and a limited number of you can JOIN US! We  believe in lots of the same things and can’t think of a better reason to bring our communities together over dinner!

Before the lights go out and the candles go on, we will explore why we have come together for Earth Hour and what we can pledge to do beyond the hour. Our two speakers will be:

  • Emma Keller – WWF speaking about Earth Hour and beyond
  • Onome – Owner of Fairly Square on Fairtrade and sustainable dining

Earth Hour Recipes

For those of you who want to virtually join us by hosting their own parties (or merely celebrating in their own houses), we thought we’d give you some ‘green’ recipes. But before we launch into some really tasty morsels of planet-friendly food, here are several things to keep in mind when trying to concoct ‘green’ recipes.

Firstly, local always trumps things from far corners of the country (and even more than things imported from other counties, especially if by airfreight).

Secondly, the carbon intensity of production of whatever tasty thing you want to use should be taken into account – this is very bad news for beef (see below). SheKnows also wrote a good blog about this issue.

Thirdly, the amount and type of energy you use when storing, cooking, reheating and whatever else can really transform the carbon footprint of even the lowest-carbon local vegetables. Whenever we roast something at home, we often throw in as many vegetables as we can fit on two shelves. It’s a tasty-licious way to maximise on energy. Even Hugh Fearnley-Wittingstall has caught on.

Fourthly, eating seasonal can have a very big impact on not just your cost, but also your carbon footprint. That’s because storage of food can involve chemicals in addition to refrigeration, both of which can have a significant green house effect.

carbonfootprLow Carbon

Of course, one of the biggest sources of ‘carbon’ on the average dinner plate is our enduring predilection for meat. I’m not immune to that by any means, but I do try to reduce my meat intake and probably eat vegetarian 2 or 3 times per week.

Beef is especially carbon intensive, mostly because of the sheer volume of water and food they require, along with (ahem) bottom-burps that cows emit, which are mostly methane – a far more problematic gas than Carbon Dioxide.

la-vache-2Apparently giving up beef would have more impact than giving up cars, which is a sobering thought.

In any case there are loads of low-carbon options when it comes to cooking. Here are some of my favourites:

Seasonal

In the UK on Earth Day (28 March), the following are usually in good supply:

  • purple sprouting broccoli (not the green stuff which might just be beginning its season)
  • spinach
  • spring onions
  • wild nettles
  • rhubarb
  • cockles
  • langoustine
  • lobster
  • salmon
  • shrimps
  • whitebait

Of course other things are coming into season about that time (asparagus, lettuce leaves, samphire, basil, chives, dill, lamb, plaice, prawns) and other things are at the end of their season (salsify, leeks, cauliflower, virtually all citrus fruits, dover sole, lemon sole, red mullet). Any decent Google search will help you to find seasonal recipes in your local area.

Best Earth Day Recipes

But let me make a few recipe recommendations.

The best recipes involve local produce, no (or minimal cooking) and using seasonal produce.

Entree       Citrus-Cured Salmon (I hate myself for including a Martha Stewart recipe)

Ruhlman's-Twenty_Cured-Salmon_0

Main          Cauliflower and Peas (Assuming we all have a rogue bag of peas in the freezer)

Cauliflower peas

Desert      Habanero Blood Orange Brownie

raw-habanero-blood-orange-brownies_23111-habenerobloodorange-810x420This is dehydrated not cooked (there are some technical rules about not ‘cooked’ which apparently is below 48C or 118F), which smacks of cheating, but too good not to include!

Compromise recipes

These recipes involve some cooking.

Entree      Smoked Salmon with Black Salsify

SH009-smoked-salmon-featured

Main         Garlic and Leek Mussels (substitute white wine for vermouth)

65787_garlic_and_leek_mussels

Desert      Rhubarb Pudding

Rhubarb pudding

Candles -v- Light Bulbs

Oh yeah, and just so you know, the romantic idea of using candles instead of electric lights probably isn’t the best way to celebrate Earth Hour – it seems that candles emit more CO2e than even the least-friendly light bulb, although I can’t confirm the analysis of that. Sorry.

If you really MUST have candles, then at least ensure that you have bees wax candles, which are not oil-based derivatives.

This is a modified version of a post that first appeared on Dwayne Baraka’s blog.

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